Friday, March 20, 2020


The little mailer from the census office came yesterday. It was a sheet of paper listing a website and an ID number which it turned out was keyed to your residence. First thing it asks when you log in is if it has the right address. (One of many places where it assumes goodwill on the part of the respondent.) Then it gave me my name in the inhabitant block - without middle name, so I just left it that way and filled in B's with her use name. Later I wondered if I should put full legal names in, but while the system will let you go back and change other answers, you can't edit the names without starting over, so I just left it.

Since I have a computer handy, I found this easier to deal with than the paper forms of yore, which required painstakingly handwriting things in outlined boxes. Long ago I used to roll forms like that into the typewriter and painstakingly line them up, but since my last electric one went on the fritz I no longer have a typewriter, so computer is easier.

There were some curious features. When you fill in your birthdate, it automatically tells you how old you'll be on the official census day: clever but disconcerting. It also asks you your sex: there are only two choices, which feels a little retro today, but it wasn't a problem for us. There was a whole raft of choices to describe the relationship of the other people in the household to the first one.

This is, notably for me, the first decennial census in my entire life where I'm living in the same residence as the previous census. We've been in this house for 12 1/2 years. Our previous house we were in for 16 years, but it only covered one census. Though I've lived in other areas, that too was never at census time, and all my census locations have been in one of three counties in this immediate area.

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