The Census!…and Potpourri

Today is Census Day. Do your part. It really does take only about ten minutes (once you have access to the internet–a problem for too many people who really need to be counted). Covid-19 will not last forever. We must start to spend some of our time thinking past this pandemic and toward our collective future. The Census is the bedrock, the Constitutionally-mandated factual basis on which our federal, state, and local government rests. 

Here’s how the Spokane League of Women Voters puts it:

The census is actually a critical look to the future, data that forms an arc for decision-making for the next 10 years. It is a point-in-time count of everyone living in the United States, a tally that provides all levels of government and businesses with basic and aggregated demographic data. The 2020 census dictates how voters are assembled into districts, how Americans get counted for distribution of federal and state funds, and how—compared to the 2010 census—a city has grown and might attract new businesses to its area.

Don’t put off this bit of civics homework. Go to If you can find the postcard or letter the Census mailed to most of us some time in the last month, retrieve it and use the 12 digit “Census ID” you find there. Can’t find it? Not to worry. The Questionnaire will guide you to properly being counted even if you have no Census ID and even if you have no address. 

Once you’ve done your ten minute civic duty, then check in with at least two other people you know and encourage them to also register with Census2020. 


Wherever you live The Covid-19 Show is coming to a theater near you. Bonner County, Idaho, reported its first case last Sunday, March 29. Bonner County, total population about 41,000, is not exactly a center of population density. Sandpoint, population around 9,000, is the county seat and biggest town. This first reported Bonner County case is community acquired, that is, the virus was already spreading in Bonner County. Idaho Governor Brad Little issued a 21 day stay at home order for the entire state of Idaho on March 25, four days before the first Bonner County case appeared. Little was responding to case clusters already appearing in southern Idaho. (Mr. Trump decided on March 29 to extend his social distancing guidelines to April 30 after he was convinced by TV video of body bags lined up at Elmhurst Hospital near where he grew up.)

There is some hope. Reports out of Seattle (by the New York Times) on Sunday, March 29, tentatively suggested that transmission was slowing, not peaked yet, but slowing. Jay Inslee, governor of Washington, signed his “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order on Monday, March 23. (Trump attempted to undermine Inslee by instructing VP Pence not to talk to Inslee because Inslee wasn’t sufficiently “appreciative” of Trump’s efforts.)

So how paranoid and compulsive must one be? I found this living room video by a physician working daily in the ICU at Weill-Cornell Medical Center in downtown Manhattan strangely comforting. It helped put Covid-19 into perspective. It lasts an hour, but there is a lot of reality-based, common sense information in the first 30 minutes:

I planned to add some of the great and varied humor that people are sharing in every medium. We’re all just trying to stay sane. There is way too much good material. Let me leave you with this link to “We Didn’t Spread The Virus” (Billy Joel Parody) 2020 Covid 19 – YouTube.

Don’t forget: Register with the Census at

Keep to the high ground,

P.S. Words are fun. Potpourri has come to mean “a mixture of things.” That’s the way I meant it in today’s title. Looking a little further, though, it also means “a mixture of dried petals and spices placed in a bowl or small sack to perfume clothing or a room,” something I saw a few times in my childhood. But the etymology is really fun: “early 17th century (denoting a stew made of different kinds of meat): from French, literally ‘rotten pot’.” May the “mixture of things” I’ve written about today be far better than a “rotten pot.” 🙂

P.P.S. Only some parts of the U.S. are in actual quarantine, real isolation, the sort of thing imposed in many other historical epidemics. With Trump’s extension of his much weaker “social distancing guidelines,” at least he’s inching closer to the traditional length of a quarantine. The word quarantine comes from the mid 17th century Italian “quarantina,” referring to its forty day duration. Here’s a even nerdier discussion from Science Friday.

Register with the Census! 🙂