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Locked down but not out in Italy

Singing from the balconies! One nice thing about this crisis ... solidarity! “Guess you’re not living like a tourist anymore,” was the funny, truthful and somewhat gut-wrenching message of a friend the day the lockdown in Italy began. Today is day 6. My beloved Italia has been hit hard with the COVID19 epidemic. With the second largest elderly population in the world, the epidemic has meant a disproportionate amount of deaths in the country. So though I haven’t been worried about contracting it myself, this isn’t about me or someone like me who, if contracted it would probably have a sucky couple of weeks and then recover. It is about if someone like me contracted it and then spread it to a person with a complicated health history or an elderly person with a weakened immune system. Eerily orderly: Lines for the grocery store, each person one meter apart In a country with no concept (and no physical room really) for personal space, and in a city with reproachable hygie

1, 2, 3, 4....

For the first time, I participated in a census. The process was entirely more boring than I would have guessed, but I thought I would still do a blog entry in honor of this once-in-ten-years occurrence. I thought I would also point out the much more interesting questions that used to be involved in the nationwide polling. Here are some interesting facts about "our country tis of thee" pulled from past censuses (censi?):

In, 2009 the estimated population of the U.S. was 307,006,550, of which 50.7% are female. That doesn't sound like a huge difference, but it means that there were 214,904 more women than men... it feels like that at a club.

Only 54% of the population lived in the same house in 1995 as the one they were living in in 2000. Based on my own statistics, had I participated in the census, I would have been counted as one of these people.

In the year 2000, there were 11.1% foreign born persons. Though I am not one of those people, my parents are. And I would like to think that this 11% is part of the reason I have such fun, "foreign-type" activities to do!

In the same year, 17.9% of people spoke a language other than English at home. This was another interesting question not asked in this year's census... Now that I am living alone, and no longer live with my french-speaking parents, I am not sure what I would respond. I don't think speaking Italian to my cat is what they are getting at with this question.

And lastly, a question that was near and dear to my heart during my two weeks of horrific, 2-hour commuting from Baltimore to D.C., the mean travel time to work in 2000 was 25.5 minutes. This seems quite low to me; I guess it would with my history of commuting.

In comparison to these relatively interesting stats (at least I find them interesting), this year's census seemed to be more focused on whether the apartment was vacant or lived in and with how many people. There were no specific questions as to lifestyle in the census. So it was really just a count, a bit of a wasted opportunity in my mind.

For really fun statistics on the U.S., I would recommend reading Bill Bryson's book, "A Stranger here Myself." There is a whole chapter on real statistics demonstrating how many people are injured by bedding, doors, and other seemingly inane objects. A fascinating glimpse into our national IQ.