The Nose returned from a week of vacation-if that's what you want to call it. A week visiting the in-laws in John Day ain't exactly Shangri-La, particularly when your mother-in-law's idea of cuisine is potato salad for breakfast.

When the Nose got back to the newsroom, Willy Weekers were as busy as Lars Larson's vocal chords. It's "Best of" Week, that annual event when staffers choose idiosyncratic reasons they love this burg, and rationalize putting a near-naked woman on the cover.

Not to be a party pooper, the Schnozz decided to weigh in as well and offer his own nominations from the past year for "Best of."

Best example that Liberals believe people are fundamentally honest and good and caring: Six years ago, Multnomah County Library officials decided the answer to pain-in-the-ass false alarms on security gates was to turn 'em off and hope for the best, assuming that readers aren't shoplifters. Who knows how many stolen books and CDs later-including $3,000 worth a 19-year-old was sentenced last month for stealing-we learn the awful truth: Darwin was wrong. It's survival of the shopliftest.

Best reason for the presumption of innocence until proven guilty: Much of Corvallis was ready to string up Sung Koo Kim for the disappearance of 19-year-old Brooke Wilberger last year. Hell, the Nose himself had contacted officials and volunteered to gut the vital organs of the Tigard man, who was charged with stealing thousands of panties of college girls. Last week's indictment of Joel Courtney on charges in Wilberger's death teaches us all an important lesson: getting caught with violent porn on your computer, a collection of dryer lint and catalogued boxes of coeds' knickers does not-necessarily-a serial killer make.

Best example of the wonders of capitalism: Bazillionaire Blazers owner Paul Allen decided not to pay his Rose Garden bill, stiffing innumerable little guys when his Oregon Arena Corporation filed for bankruptcy last year. Allen lost the debt-ridden arena but somehow kept his island in the San Juans and his 416-foot dinghy Octopus (complete with helicopter and 60-foot submarine). Sadly, he still has the Blazers. Gawd, the Nose loves the free market.

Best example that money can't buy you love: 2004 mayoral candidate Jim Francesconi raised a city-record $1 million-plus against a guy who limited donations to the price of a steak and drinks at El Gaucho. The Italian stallion got thumped like a narc at a tweakers convention.

Best example of a "maturing" business plan: The Portland Tribune, which pitches itself to Portlanders as being "Closer to Home" and then moves out to Clackamas County, lays off staff like they're so many American textile workers and then tells readers we're "a maturing newspaper with a defined business plan that describes a pathway to success."

Best place to muse on Portland's "aren't we a neat place to live?" motto: The South Park Blocks, which in the past year seem to have become a cross between Dickens' worst nightmare and the Mad Max extras' lounge. The congregation of soap-dodgers and layabouts is making the Nose wonder whether the whole spectacle might be a sinister Republican plot to seduce Portland pacifists into supporting a draft. Seriously, can we bring Mark Kroeker back for a day, strip him to his jock strap, arm him with a nail-studded 2-by-4 and turn him loose?

Now, pass the potato salad, please.