I’m way too busy to work

Art at APL

It is a cliche, but like a lot of retirees, I’m way too busy to work. Friday, 1 October was a perfect example.

I was attending the third of a three-day online state Data Center conference. The penultimate session was on The Quality of the 2020 Census Apportionment Counts: What Can Process Statistics Tell Us? by Joe Salvo, Research Fellow, Social Data and Decision Analytics.

What? No, this was fascinating stuff! Really! For instance, how many more records had partial responses, such as just numbers with no names, for instance, because of the Non-Response Follow-Up taking place during a pandemic? As an enumerator for the 2020 Census, I would have loved to have stayed for the whole talk, not to mention the question-and-answer period.

Underground Railroad

But I needed to catch a bus for a tea for the Underground Railroad Education Center. It was outdoors, and fortunately a nice day. The UREC is a tremendous asset to Albany and the history of the country. Paul and Mary Liz Stewart’s “work uncovered the voices and stories of people written out of this history.”

Discovering the home of Stephen and Harriet Myers, abolitionists who lived in the city, and then buying and renovating – especially renovating – 194 Livingston Ave – has been a boon to the process. But it’s hardly the endpoint.

I knew a few people there, including mayor Sheehan, and met several more. One of the interns interviewed me for a project about the history of the UREC.

I was trying to remember how I knew Paul and Mary Liz, which predated the project that started two decades ago. Paul theorizes that the late Donna George probably brought us together. She was always connecting people to others they didn’t know before.

After I went home with my wife, who had come to the event directly from work, we ate a quick dinner.


Then I walked less than a fifth of a mile to the Pine Hills branch of the Albany Public Library to see the new installation of Art at APL called Pieced Together. The artists include Fern Apfel, Paula Drysdale Frazell, Danny Goodwin, Chloe Harrison, Niki Haynes, Beth, Humphrey, Henry Klimowicz, Juan Hinojosa, Melinda McDaniel, Michael Oatman, and Kenneth Ragsdale. The exhibition guide is just a small fraction of the work.

I was immediately drawn to Michael Oatman’s work. Much of the created works are based on comic book covers, magazine logos, and the like. The installation will be at 517 Western Avenue until April 17, 2022, so check it out.

Expect that many of the next few posts will be of the “I’m way too busy to work” mode.

Race, reapportionment: 2020 Census

Cube Root Rule

census2020-storyimageAs you may know, I was an enumerator for both the 1990 and the 2020 Census. That means I went door-to-door, getting the responses from people who had not mailed in the form (both years). In 2020, they could also have called in the information or responded online, so they had even more opportunities to do it themselves.

Enumerating in 2020 was more difficult than in 1990. For one thing, because of the pandemic, the process started later in the year. I was working in May 1990, but not until August 2020.

So what was the biggest takeaway for me? The Census allowed the ability to choose more than one race for the first time in 2000, thanks to a 1997 OMB memorandum. “204.3 million people [identified] as White alone. Overall, 235.4 million people reported White alone or in combination with another group. However, the White alone population has decreased by 8.6% since 2010.

“The Two or More Races population (also referred to as the Multiracial population) has changed considerably since 2010. The Multiracial population was measured at 9 million people in 2010 and is now 33.8 million people in 2020, a 276% increase. The ‘in combination’” multiracial populations for all race groups accounted for most of the overall changes in each racial category.”

Redefining self

Back in 2000, I was at a New York State Data Center meeting, because that’s what I did. I expected that the multiracial category wouldn’t be too great numerically in the first iteration. It was because how one saw race was so tied to the era in which people grew up.

So someone such as Barack Obama, in 1970, 1980, and 1990 Censuses, would almost certainly be categorized as black/African American per Census rules of the time. But he COULD have been listed as black AND white in the last three Censuses. Since these are self-identified categories, and the results are confidential until at least 2072, we won’t know unless he chooses to disclose them.

Personally, I clicked on the box marked Black in 2020, although nearly 40% of my DNA is from Europe, almost all of it from the islands of Ireland and Great Britain, something I did not know in 1990 and 2000.

Pew survey notes: “In 1967, when miscegenation laws were overturned in the United States, 3% of all newlyweds were married to someone of a different race or ethnicity. Since then, intermarriage rates have steadily climbed. By 1980, the share of intermarried newlyweds had about doubled to 7%. And by 2015 the number had risen to 17%.”


Another implication will take place when the reapportionment of Congressional and state legislative districts takes place in the next year. When drawing lines, how will the majority-minority areas be designated? The Supreme Court allowed in the Johnson case (515 U.S. 900 (1995)) “affirmative gerrymandering/racial gerrymandering”, where “racial minority-majority electoral districts are created during redistricting to increase minority Congressional representation.”

New York State lost a Congressional seat as a result of the newest Census. The local Spectrum News recently inaccurately said that it was a result of the state losing people; untrue. It gained population, but not as quickly as other states.

In fact, the loss occurred because the House has been capped at 435 members since 1929. Suggestions such as the Cube Root Rule would raise the number of House members and New York would NOT lose a seat but would rather gain a few.

We’re in a period when people can give feedback about the reapportionment process. For instance, the New York State Independent Redistricting Commission was formed in 2014 for this very purpose.

Anecdotally, I’ve heard that some folks in Saratoga County, north of Albany, do not want to be represented by Elise Stefanik, a Republican House leader who has been a staunch supporter of the 45th president. This will be an interesting time for the state legislatures around the country.

Census data collecting ending October 15. Meh.

2020census.gov – now!


From the Census Bureau statement on 2020 Census Data Collection Ending

OCT. 13, 2020 — As of today, well over 99.9% of housing units have been accounted for in the 2020 Census. Self-response and field data collection operations for the 2020 Census will conclude on October 15, 2020.


Internet self-response will be available across the nation through October 15, 2020 until 11:59 pm Hawaii Standard Time (HST), (6:00 am Eastern Daylight Time on October 16, 2020) Visit 2020census.gov to respond today.
Phone response will be available for its regularly scheduled time on October 15, 2020. Click here for the schedule and a list of numbers.
Paper responses must be postmarked by October 15, 2020.
Nonresponse Followup census takers will continue resolving nonresponding addresses through the end of the day on October 15, 2020.
The U.S. Census Bureau is currently updating 2020Census.gov, Census.gov, as well as all external and internal guidance, to reflect the schedule update.


Help us spread the word about the 2020 Census!
Share this on social media or forward it to a friend.

From the Los Angeles Times: 
The Supreme Court ruled for the Trump administration Tuesday and upheld its decision to halt the collection of census data now, rather than continue until the end of this month as originally planned.

With only one dissent, the justices set aside an order handed down by a federal judge in San Jose who said Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross had abruptly and arbitrarily changed the plans of the Census Bureau when he called a halt to field operations at the end of September rather than on Oct. 31.

Administration lawyers appealed the judge’s order directly to the Supreme Court and said 99% of the households nationwide had responded. They argued that collection activity needed to end now so the Census Bureau could meet the Dec. 31 deadline for providing the nationwide data that will be used to divide up seats in the House and divvy up federal money.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor filed a seven-page dissent. “Meeting the deadline at the expense of the accuracy of the census is not a cost worth paying,” she wrote in Ross vs. Natonal Urban League.

Due to the pandemic, the Census Bureau had said earlier this year that it would continue contacting households until Oct 31. But on Aug. 3, shortly after President Trump announced that immigrants in the country illegally would not be included in the census, the Commerce Department said it would end field operations early.


April rambling: marvelous, melancholy

Tributes to Fountains of Wayne and Bill Withers

book facade
for National Library Week

Click here to fill out the 2020 census online today! This way, census workers won’t have to come to your door. The Census Bureau advises completing the census now even if you haven’t received your 12-digit census ID by mail. Here’s a reminder.

Eight marvelous and melancholy things I’ve learned about creativity.

Garbage Language: Why Do Corporations Speak the Way They Do?.

Grover reads The Monster at the End of This Book (2020).

What Is Color Psychology?

A new search engine:https://www.privado.com/ (they don’t store searches or IPs!)

The difference between baking powder and baking soda thanks to Alton Brown.

How some cities ‘flattened the curve’ during the 1918 flu pandemic.

Notes From The Pandemic. A Diary of Struggling for Survival and Sanity in the Season of the Witch. I have contributed a few links to this effort.

The Week: What Caught Our Eye, including news that the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy were officially considered essential workers.

Little Tips for Better Video Chat (For Teachers…and Everybody Else).

MASH and the coronavirus.

The 12 most annoying co-workers you face on Zoom.

How Frasier Would Shelter in Place During the Coronavirus.

Some Good News with John Krasinski Ep. 2 – Zoom Surprise at 8:25.

Quarantine calls with Joe Buck.

“So long as men worship the Caesars and Napoleons, Caesars and Napoleons will duly arise and make them miserable.” – Aldous Huxley

Study identifies a psychological factor linked to Trump supporters’ vindictiveness.

John Oliver takes a look at One America News, or OAN, a far-right news network being embraced by him at his coronavirus press events.

Now I Know

Why Does It Feel So Weird To Walk on a Stopped Escalator? and Putting a Happy Face On Trash and Badminton’s Sinister Secret and The Problem With Invisible Stone Boogers and Why Mario Has a Mustache and Keggy.


Movie: Sound City, America’s greatest unsung recording studio.

Movie: The Wrecking Crew, which I wrote about here.

Thank you, Adam Schlesinger. Stacy’s Mom – Fountains of Wayne.

Bill Withers, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee. Ain’t No Sunshine; Grandma’s Hands; Use Me; Lean on Me.

Coverville: 1304: Tributes to Fountains of Wayne & Bill Withers and 1303: Eric Clapton Cover Story.

Stay Away – Randy Newman.

Sing About It (The Wood Brothers) – Seizoenen koor Amsterdam.

Jubilie – Mary Chapin Carpenter (Songs From Home Episode 5).

Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd Cover) – MonaLisa Twins.

A suite from Catch Me If You Can – John Williams’s score.

Hard to Be the Bard – Christian Borle from Something Rotten.

Yellow River Concerto, themes composed by Xian Xinghai.

K-Chuck Radio: The Hits of Apryll Aileen.

Symphony No. 2 in D Major of Beethoven.

Music for The Creatures of Prometheus of Beethoven.

Coronavirus Blues – Middleburgh Minstrel (it’s all about the TP).

PLEASE take the 2020 census

not the usual place of residence

Census 2020 buttonPlease complete your Census 2020 form online, by phone, or by mail when your invitation to respond arrives. Visit my2020census.gov to begin. Most households received their invitation to respond to the 2020 Census between March 12 – 20. These official Census Bureau mailings included detailed information and a Census ID for completing the Census online.

In addition to an invitation to respond, some households will receive a paper questionnaire (sometimes known as the census form). You do not need to wait for your paper questionnaire to respond to the Census.

I had to leave my dorm!

College students living in on-campus housing are generally counted through their university as part of the Census Group Quarters operation. It tallies all students living in university-owned housing. In general, students in colleges and universities temporarily closed due to COVID-19 will still be counted as part of that process. “Even if they are home on census day, April 1, they should be counted according to the residence criteria that states they should be counted where they live and sleep most of the time.”

Census has asked schools to contact their students and remind them to respond. Per the Census Bureau’s residence criteria, students living away from home at school should be counted at school in most cases, even if they are temporarily elsewhere due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, I have been advised that “universities only need to provide what is allowed under FERPA.” The Bureau “will accept ‘incomplete’ responses from universities that are submitting through eResponse and Paper Data Collection.” I suspect that this will mean followup at home for a number of college students.

Second homes

For a Census Data Center discussion how to report for the 2nd home that it is unoccupied, Jeff Behler, Regional Director, Census Bureau provided this information:

After entering the ID or for Non-ID processing the street address, the respondent will be led to a screen that begins the Household Questions with the address of the housing unit.

Including yourself, how many people will be living or staying at 123 MAIN STREET on April 1, 2020?

If the housing unit is not the usual place of residence and no one is living there as their usual place of residence, then enter “0”

It will look as though the online form is rejecting that answer because it comes back with a response in red: Please include yourself when reporting the number of people.

This is a soft edit response to ensure you correctly entering “0”. Submit again and the response is:

On April 1, 2020, will you be living or staying at 123 MAIN STREET?

Enter the answer “No” and the next screen probes for the reason the unit is vacant

What is the primary reason why no one will be living or staying at 123 MAIN STREET on April 1, 2020? The unit will be –

For rent
Rented, not occupied
For sale only
Sold, not occupied
For seasonal, recreational, or occasional use
For migrant workers

Then the online form probes for where you will be living on April 1

Thank you for providing information for 123 MAIN STREET. Since you will not be living or staying at this address on Census Day, you do not need to provide any additional information for it.

Gotta have faith

As the Faithful Census folks note: Our faith teaches that every person has God-given dignity. Therefore everyone deserves to be counted in the 2020 Census. When everyone in our community is counted, we get the federal funds we need for our schools, hospitals, roads, and other essential programs like Head Start, food assistance, and affordable housing.

Responding to the 2020 Census has never been easier because you can choose to respond online, by phone, or mail– and it just takes 10 minutes to respond for your entire household.

And justice

Gayla Tillman, Civic Engagement Coordinator for Georgia Conservation Voters notes:

“The census matters because we need climate protections and solutions for all our communities. Black, Brown, and low-income communities disproportionately feel the effects of polluted air and water and utility burden. An inclusive census will not only tell decision-makers but also climate advocates how to best serve communities that have been traditionally hard to count.

“What’s more, as a descendant of people once lawfully considered property, I consider being counted in the census as personally and politically important to the fight for equity and justice… The COVID-19 crisis has exposed the many ways that working-class people and people of color are vulnerable to economic imbalance.

“The root of what our communities need is investment. That investment begins with knowing where and who people are — the census helps determine how resources are allocated in our country.”

Save your government some money!

If you fill out the form online or by mail, you save the governmental expense of folks needing to call you. If your information is there, no need for an enumerator to come to your house. In the age of COVID-19, no one wants THAT. Please fill out your form ASAP.

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