The true test of friendship, a double standard for sympathy, and our gassy Founding Fathers are all featured in this week’s observations, written specifically for you…
Did I mention flatulence?
There was a time when you could put yourself through college by selling subscriptions door to door, but those days are long gone. Today, even the most valuable of subscriptions can be obtained online, such as the absolutely free portal presented by this link. No, the link just before this sentence. If you’re clicking here, you’ve gone too far.
Now that we’ve avoided a visit from the Census Bureau’s enforcers, let’s consider the questions our government should be asking, but isn’t, about life in the USA.
As you’ll recall from last week’s musings, Jill and I received an invitation to take part in the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, an hours-long dive into the most intimate details of our lives. To be more accurate, “invitation” is a euphemism. In fact, the materials came with a warning that we could be liable for penalties if we didn’t respond and they might be forced to send people to our condo to, um, obtain the responses they needed.
So we complied with their “request,” answering questions about whether we have indoor plumbing, the age of our building, whether we had gotten married or divorced in the past year, and how we pay for our internet service. The survey covered a wide swath of basic information that might prove useful for government spending decisions, but none of it is going to answer the most pressing questions facing us as a nation.
Never fear, dear readers. The public spirited team at dadwrites will right that wrong today by presenting the questions America needs to answer, a list that should be added immediately to the 2020 Census. Our inquiring minds want to know:
1. Did you look in the mirror before you decided to leave the house like that?
2. Ginger or Mary Ann?
3. What percentage of your income is derived from delivering other people’s food, clothes, or vaping supplies?
4. How many hours did you spend working in an office last week?
a. How much of that time did you spend on Instagram, Fortnite or Googling your ex?
b. How many hours did it take to fill in your March Madness brackets?
5. How many hours did you spend working outside your office last week?
a. Were you at home or at Starbucks?
b. Did you actually get anything done?
c. Were you still in your jammies?
6. Have you ever snorted Tide pods or condoms or dumped a bucket of ice on yourself?
a. If yes, did you do this as part of a charity challenge or just because it sounded like a fun idea?
b. Did you post a video online? (No need to respond. We know you did.)
7. How many trips did you take last week in an Uber, Lyft or other ride-share vehicle?
a. For how many of those trips were you the driver?
b. Could you find any of the locations without GPS?
8. Do you have any money saved for retirement?
a. If so, how many days do you expect it to last?
b. Do your adult children have a spare bedroom that you can use?
c. Are your adult children currently living in your spare bedroom?
9. Did you ever finish reading that Stephen Hawking book about time?
a. Did you actually understand it?
10. Have you ever changed somebody’s mind on Facebook?
11. Has anyone ever changed your mind on Facebook?
12. Couldn’t you be doing something better with your time?
13. In the past year, have you suffered irreparable harm from:
b. Uninsured motorists?
c. Hernia mesh?
d. Ads from law firms?
14. In the past month, have you:
a. Taken an online quiz to find out which Disney princess you are?
b. Suddenly realized the quiz was just a ruse to collect more personal information for advertisers?
c. Retaken the quiz to get a better princess?
15. In the past week, have you:
a. Spent more time complaining about traffic than you actually spent in it?
b. Reposted a meme you knew to be false, because you agreed with the politics?
c. Stolen Marla’s lunch from the office refrigerator?
i. If yes, did you also take Edgar’s Snapple?
ii. You fiend!!
16. In the past hour, have you:
a. Checked your phone more than 30 times?
b. Posted two or more story updates?
c. Ordered some Thai for lunch?
17. Would you like to avoid future surveys by just giving us permission to get whatever information we want from Google?
What other questions should we add to our list? If you had the opportunity to ask whatever you wanted and the authority to require an answer of every person in this country, what would you want to know?
Add your questions to our comments section and we’ll all be much wiser for your contribution. Just remember to keep it civil and that this site is a politics-free zone.
The most important question for everyone in America is, “Why haven’t you subscribed to dadwrites.com yet?” Answer that question with a resounding, “Yes, I am a subscriber,” by clicking this link and signing up. This might be the best decision you make this week, although it would be pretty sad if that really turned out to be the case.
Every few days, the Commerce Department threatens to send armed thugs to my apartment to torture me, unless I give in to their demands for my most intimate secrets.
Okay, they didn’t say “armed thugs” exactly, but you know how those jackbooted government agents get, um, overly enthusiastic in their missions. It will all start out nice and friendly, but then I’ll hesitate just a bit too long when they ask about my outhouse and…bam.
In the latest installment of our charmed lives, the Census Bureau selected Jill and me to take part in the American Community Survey, a seriously intrusive census given only to the elitest of the elite. Technically, it is our apartment that is the real honoree and we are just “the resident of,” but why quibble when the fickle finger beckons you to determine the future of the nation?
While the decennial census gets all the hype, the people who fill out the ACS are the real power brokers in the US of A. The regular census next year will ask a few basic questions, but the ACS does all the heavy lifting, including:
The questions kept coming for more than a dozen pages, although my confidence in the entire process took a nosedive at question four, where they asked me for both my date of birth and my age. If they cannot figure out my age from my birth date, the Census Bureau needs a more powerful computer, or a pocket calculator.
Still, we trudged on, describing our condo fees and our internet service and whether we had gotten married or divorced, or both, in the past twelve months. As we worked our way through the labrynthe, though, the reasoning behind the questions got curiouser and curiouser.
Why do they bother to ask if we have indoor plumbing when they already know that 99.5% of households are so equipped? Why do they ask if we can both make and receive a phone call in our apartment? Perhaps there are phones that only receive calls but cannot make them, or vice versa. Why do they ask about babies born to women aged 15-50, but ignore births to females outside that range?
By the time we finished this hours-long exercise, I couldn’t help but think there’s a better way to collect this information. Perhaps, for example, they might buy all of it (and more!!!!) from Facebook or Google—if only they could convince those companies to make our private info available to outsiders.
Worse, I can’t believe these are the most meaningful questions for identifying status and trends across the nation. Many questions seemed to be continuations of past inquiries, but newer shifts appear to be unaddressed.
For example, the survey includes a ton of questions about commuting, including the time people leave for work, how many people are in the vehicle and how long the commute takes, but they don’t ask about ride-share usage or Divvy bikes or whether people have changed jobs or moved in order to reduce their commuting time.
Similarly, we’re bombarded by various stories about the growth and size of the gig economy, but the ACS doesn’t delve into that topic. I didn’t find, for example, a question about whether I have more than one job.
Ditto for the kind of business where I work. While we live in a service economy, the boxes for “type of business” include manufacturing, wholesale trade, retail trade and “other.” I can’t help but wonder if 70% of us aren’t in the “other” box.
Jill and I trudged through the pages, but I became increasingly convinced that the project included too many vague questions and too much guesswork to be definitive. As I struggled to recall whether I worked for money last month or the month before, a visit from those armed thugs started looking better and better.
Still, we persevered and completed the assignment, because that’s what true patriotic Americans do. And, on the upside, this whole process made our income tax forms look much simpler than they did before.
Even better, my self-esteem grew dramatically as I realized I could come up with a more relevant series of questions than all the people at the Census Bureau. Stay tuned for a preview in next week’s post.
All of America is on tenterhooks, wondering “What Would Dadwrites Ask?” if we were running the Census Bureau. Be sure to receive your update, along with all our incredibly wise and beneficent screeds, by subscribing to dadwrites.com. Just click HERE (No, not here. Back there.)
Despite all my experience as a dad, a grandfather, and occasionally competent human, I’m under-qualified to give a walking tour in Chicago or change diapers at a daycare facility, among other items we learn this week…..
Speaking of broken clocks, isn’t it time you subscribed to this incredible blog? Several people on the editorial team are despondent because you haven’t signed up yet, but you can brighten their days, and free us from their whining, by clicking on this link.
Even though I’m keeping my reference age fixed in my 40s, I get to feeling old every now and then. And when I do, nothing makes me feel younger than going to a 3 p.m. play and a 5:30 dinner. I might not be young, chronologically, but I am a toddler when you grade it on a curve.
I’ve always been a fan of live theater, for the same reason I give extra cred to anyone who performs without a net. When you see a movie, everyone has had a chance to do each scene over and over and over yet again, and then the editing team gets a shot at making everything fit and, when it doesn’t, insert enough mood music to push home the point. With live theater, they get to do it once and it will never be done the same way again. Different production companies and directors will stage the shows differently, which is a Rohrshach test for them and an opportunity for new perspectives for me.
The biggest thrill about going to the theater, though, is feeling young again. I’ve been to hospitals with fewer oxygen tanks. Nationally, the average theater goer is in her mid-40s, although I think the number jumps to 80 when you exclude Hamilton. At matinees, it’s about 82.
Theater companies bemoan the steady aging of their demographic, but they cater to it as well. Why wouldn’t you do a revival of South Pacific for people who served during World War II? How can you pass up Oklahoma when your audience remembers that great territory becoming a state in 1907?
Theater companies are fans of recycling because old musicals pay the rent and newer stuff mewls and pukes before it dies. Most new stuff deserves a painful death, though, because almost all of it is pretty crappy. Jill and I go to a dozen plays each year and, about 80% of the time, I am ready to leave after five minutes. My rule is simple: If I don’t care if any of the characters lives or dies, I am gone.
Jill and I are pretty hip for old farts, so occasionally we end up in some place that appeals to a slightly younger crowd. We’ll scan the room as we enter and Jill will say 27, which is the difference in age between us and the next oldest person in the room. Being in a room with younger people makes us feel younger than sitting in the theater with even older farts than ourselves.
They say you should hang out with people who are younger than you are so that you stay fresh and energized. Sounds good, but I started thinking about our friends and….wait a minute…for most of them, WE are the younger people making THEM feel good about themselves. Thank God for grandchildren. Otherwise, we’d be screwed.
Right now, I’m thinking about building a roster of younger people to buddy up to in order to renew my Qi (great WWF word), even as I plan on rationing my availability to the octogenarians who have been draining the life force from my faltering soul. And, I really need to book more time with the grandchildren.
Who knew aging could be a competitive sport?
As if all the whining in this post wasn't bad enough, now we're whining about not having you as a subscriber. Dang. Put an end to all this useless whimpering by clicking here and joining our merry band of readers.
Great stories from the driver’s seat, online playgrounds, and the new vigilance that’s the price of liberty, included in this week’s array of helpful hints…
You know how else you can get a good story without having to pay for it? Hmmm, could it be by subscribing to dadwrites? Why, yes, yes it could. Just click here and the ride is free.
Who writes this stuff?
Dadwrites oozes from the warped mind of Michael Rosenbaum, an award-winning author who spends most of his time these days as a start-up business mentor, book coach, photographer and, mostly, a grandfather. All views are his alone, largely due to the fact that he can’t find anyone who agrees with him.