Despite the many disadvantages to being ill, one advantage in ultra-bustling Washington is having a little extra time on one's hands. With unaccustomed hours for looking at television, reading newspapers, magazines and books, there's been a lot in the past few weeks that has caught my eye. Here are some observations on a few people, places and things I've noted while away.

EPA: In dealing with the uproar at the Environmental Protection Agency, Ronald Reagan may have practiced a lesson from Watergate. By bringing in William Ruckelshaus, he moved to cut his losses earlier than Richard Nixon did, and that nomination tempered the uproar among members of Congress and the public. But the deeper issue Sewergate disguises is this: the White House still does not recognize either the lessons of "Silent Spring" or the public's vested interest in the issues this agency deals with. TELECTIONS: The City Council handled the nomination of former City Council chairman Sterling Tucker to be head of the D.C. Board of Elections quite shabbily, but his rejection demonstrates the need for the next nominee to be a political neutral. What we need is not merely propriety--which Tucker possesses--but the perception of propriety as well. Moving ahead to fill the post and eliminating the problems in election administration must be a top city priority. EL SALVADOR: What's going on here is less U.S. foreign policy than U.S. economic policy: keeping weapons manufacturers busy and the pipeline flowing with millions in military aid. When will both the East and West stop this race that John Kenneth Galbraith in his new book, "The Voice of the Poor," calls one to enlarge their "imperial ambitions"? HOWARD: Any university administration that would expel the editor of a campus newspaper, reinstate her even though a court gave it the right to keep her out, then suspend publication of the newspaper she edited must have something to hide. RECOVERY: Ronald Reagan keeps boasting about the recovery--there's even a television commercial airing these days in which an ordinary-looking woman hails the president's leadership in the revival of the economy. People all over America are still wondering what recovery they're talking about, especially jobless black youth, whose problems are so pervasive and difficult that they can't possibly change without the help of the very government that is already claiming the problems are solved. RIGHTS: Clarence M. Pendleton Jr., chairman of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, has complained to the president that his agency has been frustrated by the Reagan administration in its efforts to get data from federal agencies to enforce civil rights laws. Some say Pendleton was appointed to do nothing. But he finds Ronald Reagan's nothing is even too little for him. Issue those subpoenas! CHICAGO: Jane Byrne's timely exit gives white voters the chance of a lifetime to change Chicago's reputation for racial polarization by ratifying the primary victory of Harold Washington. Their fears of mistreatment are without merit, based on the record for fairness of black mayors in cities across the country. TELEVISION: Uncle Tom, will you please die? That hoary old chestnut, "Gone With the Wind," was back on the airwaves recently, embarrassing yet another generation of black children with its racial stereotyping, what one character calls "simple-minded happy darkies." One teen-ager of my acquaintance, watching it in an integrated group, set off the home's burglar alarm as a distraction. When will responsible adults set off the alarm? FARMERS: So the American farmers have agreed to remove 82 million acres of wheat, corn, cotton and rice land from production this year. How vulgar a "solution" can you get, when people are going hungry and eating out of garbage cans and in Maryland, officials are cutting mothers and children from a federal program that provided dairy products, juices and cereals? MEDICS: Hospitals aren't meccas and doctors aren't gods, but for the hard work, responsiveness, and dedication of many doctors and nurses who've touched my life this past month, a big "thank you."