As you can tell by the accompanying logo, you're reading the Utah County Bureau's Offbeat column.

This space has been shared by members of the bureau over the years as an avenue to enlighten readers to the comical, sad, political and unusual around the valley generated off the reporter's beat - a beat being one's assigned areas to cover.My "beat" consists of office detail, filings, movie and baby listings, and press releases - with the opportunity for a few stories here and there.

Just as "offbeat" as my duties are some of the many things I have observed during my nearly seven-year tenure with the Utah County Bureau. Here are a few.

- Nary a columnist has passed up the opportunity to comment on "Utah drivers" - the state's oft-criticized individuals who not only use inside lanes for passing and avoid using turn signals but are also just plain rude.

For instance, have you ever tried turning into the Sears Telecatalog parking lot in the East Bay Business Center between 5 and 5:30 p.m. on weekdays? Seems that the whole roadway is taken over by employees from Novell and surrounding businesses who are fleeing the office and forgetting their manners.

Same is true on Center Street and University Avenue, at WordPerfect and Brigham Young University. And who can forget the antics along the accident-laden boulevard known as the University Parkway?

- Second observation: While so many of us are seeking solutions to the clean-air problem, we often forget that we may be part of the cause.

For example, NuSkin employees who use a designated parking lot just three blocks from their office are shuttled to work by well-meaning but just-as-polluting vans. Kind of ironic, considering the company's concern over clean air.

- Politically speaking, Utah County is downright comical. Five years ago, who would have thought that the Democrats would have a U.S. congressman representing the 3rd District and that the Republicans would be working on consensus voting?

Consider the two parties' recent county conventions. While the rather small gathering of Democrats were whooping it up with cheers and excitement, the record-breaking attendance at the Republican convention brought a mere flutter of enthusiasm as uncontested candidates were formally voted on.

- Another observation: If the more than 630 businesses in downtown Provo are so concerned about parking, cleanup and other activities, why are only 15 to 20 businesses represented at the Association of Involved Merchants meetings each month?

There are many more observations that show none of us are perfect; that we all have something to complain about; and that life really does go on in spite of and not because of ourselves.