April rambling: agathokakological

Don’t laminate your vaccine card.

bottledTax day moved to May 17. Procrastinators, rejoice!

All That We’ve Lost.

Here are a couple of articles from Slate and Afar about vaccination cards – don’t laminate them because you may need to record a booster shot. But if you already did, don’t sweat it. And the vaccine passport in the United States is a definite maybe kind of thing.

COVID vaccine in New Zealand.

Calling Chauvin a “Bad Apple” Denies Systemic Nature of Racist Police Violence.

Cartoon: God-Man trumpets his response to mass shootings!

‘Is This Patriot Enough?’: Asian American Official Shows Military Scars, Condemns Racist Violence.

Matt Gaetz, Now Under DOJ Investigation, Was Lone Vote Against Human Trafficking Bill in 2017

Doctor Fentanyl.

Tucker Carlson and national debt:  Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.

The Science of Loneliness.

Exhausted Workers Want More Flexibility.

French police are investigating an international Lego crime ring.

Countdown to the 1950 Census release.

Administrative Records and the 2020  Census.

NYC surgeons successfully performed the first windpipe transplant in the world.

7% of Americans don’t use the Internet. Who are they?

Dear WordPress: Really? REALLY?

John Burnside · Poem: ‘The Night Ferry’

Joye Murcison Kelly, R.I.P. Early, uncredited Wonder Woman scribe.

Triple stumper question on JEOPARDY!

Agatha

My paternal grandmother was named Agatha. The definition of agathokakological is “Made up of both good and evil.” I thought she was pretty good, myself. The word is from the Greek agathos (good) + kakos (bad), which proves my point.

 How breakfast cereal was invented.

A stone and wood Dutch colonial is said to be the oldest house in New York.

Can Frasier afford his apartment?

Now I Know: The Loophole With Two Wheels and Supercalifragilisticexpialilawsuit and  The Wild Deuce and Alaska’s Super Hero Dogs and  Save Your Bread When Going on Vacation.

 The Beatles: Get Back – A Sneak Peek from Peter Jackson.

Conversation between Adam Guettel and Stephen Sondheim

MUSIC

Music for the Soul: An Evening with Rebecca Jade, February 23, 2021.

Ted and Lindsey – Randy Rainbow.

The Observatory – Caroline Shaw.

Piano Quintet in G minor – Bruch. Novacek/Yoo/Haas/Banaszek/deMaine | Festival Mozaic 2018.

Flintstone themes: first one and the second one.

The Cider House Rules – Rachel Portman.

Road Runner Show theme.

Six Japanese Gardens, for mixed percussion and electronics, written by Finnish composer Kaija Saarioho.

Sunshine Superman – MonaLisa Twins.

Overture 1812 – Tchaikovsky.

Coverville  1352: Lady Gaga Cover Story and 1353: The Ronnie Lane Cover Story II and 1354: The Al Green Cover Story II – Also, Thumbs!

 Creation du Monde – Vangelis.

The Rubberband Man (album version) -The Spinners.

Ain’t No Sunshine – Canen.

Prejudice – Tim Minchin.

I love this arcane stuff

Jane Seymour turns 70

My wife had purchased a few bushels of apples over the late summer. She kept them in the basement, which tends to be cooler than the rest of the house. But by December, the last of the apples were looking wrinkled.

“They’re wisened,” I observed.  This led to a conversation about why the word has a short I rather than long I sound, though it has one S rather than two. Maybe because the long I sounds more like someone who is wise? I love arcane stuff like this, items that make me ponder.

Not a new decade

My friend David and I had a nice back-and-forth about whether the decade should start with 2021 since the century began with 2001. I favored the inconsistency. After all, September is the ninth month, not the seventh.

I think he was won over by how we define people. “An individual who has been alive for two full decades is referred to as being in their 20s for the next decade of their life, from age 20 to 29.” 

Census stuff

My Census buddy, also named David, and I exchange articles about the Census. Several of his finds I’ve used in various articles. I noted for him a Daily Kos report indicating that “the state-level population data from the 2020 census that is needed to determine how many congressional seats and Electoral College votes each state receives is not expected to be released until April 30, four months after the original deadline.”

Likewise, “the more granular population data needed for states to actually draw new districts won’t be released until at least after July 30, which is also a delay of at least four months from the original March 31 deadline. Consequently, these delays will create major disruptions for the upcoming 2020 round of congressional and legislative redistricting.

“New York University Law School’s Brennan Center for Justice released an in-depth report in 2020 looking at which states have deadlines that are in conflict with a potentially delayed data release schedule and what the impact of a delay may be.

“The most directly affected states are New Jersey and Virginia, which are the only two states that are set to hold legislative elections statewide in 2021 and would normally redraw all of their legislative districts this year.”

I remain a Census geek.

Music and art

My friend and FantaCo colleague Rocco tipped me off about the book Will Eisner: Champion of the Graphic Novel (2015). It has a graphic that would have been on a Kitchen Sink Chronicles if FantaCo had ever published it back in the 1980s.

I had just purchased The Beatles (The White Album) [6 CD + Blu-ray]. So I gave him the three-CD set I bought a couple of years ago but didn’t need anymore.

We got into an arcane conversation about the album Graceland by Paul Simon. I had purchased the 25th Anniversary Edition (2011) CD a few years back. It also featured the Under African Skies film on DVD. I gave my old copy of the Graceland CD to a blogger buddy who had never heard it.

But Rocco had NOT purchased it, and I knew why. It was because it did NOT include the 6-minute version of Boy in the Bubble. Rocco had purchased the 12″ from the Music Shack record store back when it came out. I tried to get a copy but it never arrived. Rocco lent me his 12″ and I recorded the song on a cassette. But we BOTH were disappointed that the song failed to show up on the anniversary edition.

NOT the third wife of Henry VIII

The performer  Jane Seymour turns 70 today. I often note people who reach three score and ten in this blog. Though I’ve seen her in few guest appearances, a miniseries or two, and some infomercials I’ve come across, I really only know her from one thing. And if you know her for only one thing, it’s probably the same show: Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. I didn’t watch it regularly, but I didn’t turn it off when I happened across it.

My Census angst is strong

counting the whole number of persons in each State

census2020-storyimageMy Census angst is multifaceted. As a librarian – retired, but still – I have come to count on the statistics that the Census Bureau provides.

An article in The Atlantic by an enumerator rings true. “In an ideal census count, all households would submit their own information, which is by far the most accurate way to account for a community’s true demographic makeup.”

In 2020, 67% of addresses were accounted for through self-response to date, with the rest having been accounted for through the Nonresponse Followup (NRFU) operation. I said to my friends that, optimally, I would have had no Census enumeration to do because everyone would have returned their form via mail, phone, or, for the first time, online.

Why was this so Census so difficult? “That lag between early May, when door-knocking was supposed to start, and August, when it did, [mattered]… Accurately completing a census case means knowing who lived at an address on April 1, 2020, whether that information is taken from a resident or, oftentimes, a neighbor. The further you stray from the reference day, the less accurate the data become, particularly in a time of heavier population displacement.”

Also true. “Resistance to census participation transcends age, race, geography, and party affiliation.” The stories I could tell IF I could tell…

Not ha-ha funny

“What’s funniest about trying and failing to persuade someone to give you 10 minutes of their time for the census is that an enumerator has to document the reason given for a refusal. One rationale is that it gives the next person who attempts to bug a stubborn case a sense of what might be coming.” Oh, yes.

“In our data-capture app, many of the prefilled explanations we must enter for why we failed to gather data are unusually blunt: The respondent ‘does not want to be bothered’; thinks the ‘survey is a waste of taxpayer money’; has ‘privacy,’ ‘COVID,’ or ‘anti-government’ concerns; or is simply ‘too busy.'” Except for the “too busy” people, I never got a positive response from a previous refusal.

“Even if residents were clearly home, they often didn’t come to the door.” I thought it was just me.

“Ater a certain number of attempts on a case, enumerators are instructed to find a proxy—a neighbor, a mail carrier, a building manager, anyone vaguely credible—to speak on the composition of the residence in question.” This was easier in a multi-dwelling building than in single-story homes. And it was also more successful regarding structures that were vacant, or no longer there, on April 1.

“And in many cases, with enough luck, patience, or cajoling, somebody helps fill in the most basic blank of the census: how many people live at an address.” You’d be surprised, though, how many people would not even provide THIS information, even when they let me know that they knew the answer. “It’s fair to say that this arrangement isn’t the sturdiest blueprint for democratic representation.”

Unconstitutional

The Supreme Court heard arguments on November 30 about whether undocumented immigrants may be purged from the census rolls when apportioning seats in Congress. I don’t understand how this can happen, for two separate reasons. Excluding them would be a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment, which calls for “counting the whole number of persons in each State.” The attempt to make them invisible is as offensive as the three-fifths compromise in the original Constitution.

Beyond that, though, I literally don’t know this would work logistically. Asking the citizenship question was blocked by the Supreme Court. If there’s no Census question, what is the source of the data to exclude them? And it should be granular numbers down to the Census tract for reapportionment purposes, not just statewide guesstimates.

In The Atlantic article: “Sometimes, when an American told me they were Hispanic, they’d rush to adamantly assure me that they were a legal U.S. citizen too.” The efforts to have a citizenship question included in the Census, though it was rejected, succeeded in creating fear in the immigrant community so they wouldn’t participate in the count as robustly.

Keep going?

On November 17, a Boston Globe editorial declared the courts must protect the 2020 Census. “Federal judges should extend the deadline to ensure an accurate count. The problem now would be to remobilize a workforce of tens of thousands of temporary workers to attempt a task even further from the April 1 Census date.

Census reports it reached more than 99%  of the addresses in each state.

When I read reports that Census workers were reportedly told to submit false information, it broke my heart. I should note, as an enumerator myself that I witness no such manipulation. Indeed, there were constant reminders of what NOT to do. Don’t get data from those online companies. Surely, though, there was pressure to get done as quickly, but accurately as possible.

Note that The U.S. Census Bureau has announced this week updated plans for releasing information about quality, along with the first results from the census, “including releasing an unprecedented number of data quality indicators.”

You can only do so much

logistics

As I noted recently, I’ve been working the Census. But as the September 30 October 4 deadline approached, it became physically harder. The irony is that as my country needed me the most, I had to cut back. You can only do so much.

When the area I was covering was in my neighborhood, roughly Pine Hills for you Albanians, it was an easier process. I’d tool around on the bike for four hours. Then come home for a 30-minute lunch, while recharging my precious phone, then do another four hours. I’d be tired but it was manageable. One week I’d work Monday and Tuesday, take Wednesday off, then work Thursday through Saturday.

I always took Sunday off. From a purely monetary position. that made no sense. There was a bonus for working Sundays. And indeed for working up to 10 hours on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday as the deadline loomed. Back in 1990, when the decennial Census was my only source of income, I would have jumped on that. But I was thirty years fresher. Now a relative of mine is putting in a lot of weekend hours, but he’s a younger man than I.

It was an obsession, actually

My understanding wife realized I was a bit on a mission. My share of housecleaning collapsed, as did the yardwork. Writing this blog and volunteer work fell off. Speaking of falling, the Census folks were always pushing useful information such as don’t walk while texting, and using three points of contact when using the stairs.

As I started working further from home, it came more difficult to get back for lunch. That wasn’t that big a deal, actually. Charging the phone was an issue, though. And, TMI, finding a loo in the days of COVID is trickier. I was near the state museum once; nope, still closed.

So on the penultimate full week, I decided to work six five-hour days. Five hours is as long we can legally work without taking a break. The phone doesn’t need a recharge, and the shorter day was better for me.

Aging is a process. And a mindset, I suppose.

Working the NRFU: Census 2020

Non-Reponse Followup

census2020-storyimageWAY back in May or June 2019, right before I retired, I applied to work Census 2020. I heard nothing. I visited a Census recruitment table in the Pine Hills branch of the Albany Public Library shortly before the COVID shutdown, sometime earlier this year. The representative said, “Don’t worry about it They’re still in process.”

Then the pandemic hit. So I didn’t know what this was going to mean for the process. When I worked the 1990 Non-Reponse Followup or NRFU, I began in late April. Then in early June, I got a phone call. After asking me a few questions, the gentleman said I was in.

On June 12, I got an email. “We are pleased to confirm your acceptance of a temporary position with the US Census Bureau as an Enumerator. Working in the field, Enumerators visit households that haven’t responded to the 2020 Census, speaking with residents to collect 2020 census data. Your employment is dependent upon successfully clearing a background investigation.”

“You are required to do the following!” I needed to “Schedule a Fingerprint Day appointment to be fingerprinted within 7 days of this letter… Please note: The action item above is time-sensitive.” I was to “bring ALL of the listed documents to your scheduled appointment, or you will not be fingerprinted.

Another bad photo ID

“Employment Confirmation E-mail attachment with barcode – Display this attachment via an electronic device OR print a hard copy of the attachment.” Naturally, I brought BOTH. They wanted two forms of ID; the list had a great deal of detail. My passport and my DMV card were acceptable.

“As part of appointment, your photo may be taken so that a badge may be created if you successfully complete the background check process and are hired. Pose and expression: Have a neutral facial expression or a natural smile, with both eyes open. Face the camera directly with full face in view.” I couldn’t wear glasses, a hat or head covering, unless I had a medical reason. It was not my favorite picture of me.

“As a Census Selectee you are subject to a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) fingerprint-based Criminal History Record Check for the purpose of making a security determination. If you have a criminal history record, you will be afforded an opportunity to complete or challenge the accuracy of the information in the record, or decline to do so.” After I cleared the investigation, I had to do a bunch of paperwork, such as the Emergency Contact Information and Payment Authorization.

And on August 19, a handful of people met in the Albany Capital Center; the building was locked but we were let in. Three hours later, we are trained NRFU Census enumerators.

Obviously, there is more to tell down the road. NONE of it will involve politics, per my agreement. Absolutely NONE of it will include any identifiable information about who I visited. I’ll be doing this until September 30, as far as I can tell.