How do we make sense of the highs and lows of 2008? It will be a year remembered for the exhilaration of a presidential campaign that made history and for the anxiety associated with an economic contraction that left us to worry about what the new year will bring.

In three weeks, Americans will celebrate the inauguration of the first African-American president and then ask Barack Obama to lead the nation out of the most difficult economic circumstances in 70 years.

Meantime, here at home, there is the business at hand. Wishing all of you a happy new year, ladies and gentlemen, the monitors are now passing out the 17th annual Press Democrat Quiz for News Junkies.

You know the rules: Place your books under your desk and keep your eyes on your own paper. No talking, gum chewing, cell phoning, text messaging or Twittering. (If you don’t know what Twittering is, you will be docked 10 points at the start.) Anyone caught cheating will be offered a federal bailout. Please begin:

1 – Within three percent, what was the voter turnout in Sonoma County in the November General Election, and what was the percentage of votes cast for Democrat Barack Obama?

2 – Economist Chris Thornberg predicted to a Santa Rosa audience that the recession would end during this time frame:

(a) The third quarter of 2014.

(b) Next week.

(c) The first quarter of 2010.

(d) Early in 2009.

3 – This west county institution celebrated its 100th anniversary in May. Name the institution. Extra points if you can name its connection to the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

4 – True or false, officials at Sutter Medical Center reversed course on plans to close the hospital.

5 – Amie Breeze has a new job. What is it?

6 – In 2008, voters in Sonoma and Marin counties passed a sales tax to finance a regional rail system. In what year did Sonoma County voters first consider a sales tax to support a North Bay rail system?

7 – The San Francisco 49ers hired a new coach, who quickly proved he was different than other coaches. Name the interim coach, the coach he succeeded and the halftime stunt that drew so much attention.

8 – Santa Rosa school superintendent Sharon Liddell resigned – and then later changed her mind. What was the reason Liddell cited when she announced her resignation in the first place?

(a) She was tired of inadequate state funding of education.

(b) She disagreed with the school board’s policy on junk food.

(c) She opposed teachers’ union plans to erect a statue in her honor.

(d) She couldn’t afford to keep the job because of the cost of a divorce settlement.

9 – In November, the first Latino was elected to the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, and the first Latino was elected to the Santa Rosa City Council. Name them.

10 – True of false, Saggio Hills is the name of Healdsburg’s newest three-star restaurant.

11 – In Sebastopol, some folks feared this invisible force would spread illness and death. What is it?

(a) The voice of Rush Limbaugh, heard blaring from cars passing through town.

(b) Air pollutants emitted from local buses.

(c) Free WiFi.

(d) The odors wafting from a nearby dairy farm.

12 – During the 2008 primaries, which candidate for president did Rep. Lynn Woolsey of Petaluma support? (Hint: It was not Mike Huckabee.) Extra points if you can name the primary candidate Woolsey endorsed in 2004.

13 – Bodega Bay won recognition from a national magazine. Name the magazine and the recognition that became the coastal town’s latest claim to fame.

14 – True or false, the Sonoma City Council laid to rest a proposal to sell the town’s cemeteries.

15 – Name the local athlete who finished fourth in the U.S. Olympic Trials’ Decathlon competition, and name the high school he attended.

16 – California voters approved Proposition 8, the measure to outlaw same-sex marriage. What was the margin of vote in Sonoma County?

17 – In a surprise announcement, he quit as CEO of a major Sonoma County health care provider. Name him and his former employer.

18 – For the first time in 38 years, this group of people won’t be represented on the Petaluma City Council. Who are they?

19 – For the first time in a half century, this community institution reported losses. Name the institution and the reason for its reversals.

20 – Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St, Helena, was on the short list of people considered for this job. What’s the job, and who got it?

21 – Call it the Boston Tea Party in reverse. In Brussels, European Union officials destroyed this arrival from California. What was it?

22 – In April, Petaluma celebrated a birthday. How old is the city?

23 – There was a major shake-up in what Sonoma County law enforcement agency. Name the key players.

24 – Which candidate for president won the most Democratic primary votes in Sonoma County last February? What were the percentages of votes cast for the two frontrunners?