Thursday, February 27, 2014

Post About Nothing

- My child waking up at 5:30, or about an hour earlier than normal, is not the ideal way to start the day. Of course, Ziggy had already started his morning "time to wake up, Sean" routine just a few minutes earlier, so maybe he was warning us.

- I have read exactly one book so far this year. Granted, I really enjoyed the book I read (The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared), but one book in two months is unacceptable. Therefore, does anyone have any suggestions on books to read?

- I've discovered that getting a massive headache combined with being nauseous resulting in only eating a piece of toast and a banana is a great way to lose a little weight in one day.

- Not counting walking up the Metro escalators, I don't remember the last time I did any type of formal exercising. Here we go, warm weather, here we go!

- Since March is only a couple of days away, I need to start my fantasy baseball preparation. For my auction league, how much should I bid on Brian Giles?

- I received an e-mail from the NFL with the subject "Steelers St. Patrick's Day Gear!" I wrote this last year, and I'm going to get on my soapbox about this again: Steelers fans wear black and gold, not green. Leave the green to the folks in Eastern Pennsylvania.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Trip To The Library

I took my son to the library this weekend for story hour twenty minutes. After the program concluded, we ventured to the kids' section to check out some books. My son is currently obsessed with Thomas & Friends* (the trains, the TV show, a Thomas app, etc.), so we searched for some Thomas books. While there were no Thomas books on the shelves, the librarian found two books for us behind the check out counter, the only two books in the library.

While I looked for some non-Thomas books about five feet away from my son, he started "reading" one of the books on a bench and placed the second book next to him. Maybe 30 seconds later, another kid who couldn't have been older than two grabbed the book on the bench. Naturally, my son didn't like this. After unsuccessfully reasoning with the random kid that the book belonged to my son, I started looking for this boy's parents who were no where to be found. After what seemed like an eternity but was probably about two minutes, the mom came over to check in on her son. I explained that the kid took my son's book, and she gave the book back to us. My son was happy again, and I was relieved as I didn't like my options: either let this kid take my son's book or rip the book away from a parent-less 2 year-old. Then, the mother asked me where she could find Thomas books, and I told her to ask the librarian. As I walked away, I thought, no Thomas books for you, sucka!

* I believe that Sir Topham Hatt runs some type of shady operation. I think he is the leader of a Cartel and the trains want to make sure that they please him or else they'll be turned into train parts.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Random Ramblings

- Despite living about 250 miles away from my hometown, I have run into someone I graduated from high school with twice at the local Wegmans grocery store in the past few months. If she talks to any of our classmates, she would likely say that I have a lot less hair than I did in high school and that I looked disheveled since in both cases, I was unshaven, wearing glasses (as opposed to contacts) and not dressed very well. I have good reasons for looking this way (picking up a prescription for a sick child & going shopping after shoveling snow), but I don't think that makes a difference.

- I saw that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper wants to bet President Obama a case of Canadian beer per Olympic hockey game this week. Want a really fun bet? If both the US men's and women's hockey teams defeat Canada, the US should get Victoria/Vancouver Island. If both Canadian teams win, Canada gets Maine.

- The big entertainment story this week is Jimmy Fallon's new role as host of The Tonight Show. I don't think I've seen five minutes of either of his NBC shows (with the exception of Saturday Night Live).

- Dallas Buyers Club is up for multiple Oscars including best actor and supporting actor for Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto. While I haven't seen the movie, it sounds like both actors did an amazing job portraying Mark Cuban & Jerry Jones respectively, owners of two prominent Dallas sports franchises that are known for spending a lot of money

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Watch Out Consol Energy Center

Pittsburgh has a storied sports tradition. Perhaps because of this tradition, Pittsburgh's athletic venues have been subject to more sinister plots than anywhere else. The first occurrence took place at the Civic Arena during the 1995 Stanley Cup Finals. Fortunately, Jean-Claude Van Damme saved the day.

Then in 2011, Taylor Lautner ran around PNC Park. I don't know what was going on, but I feel like people in addition to Lautner were in trouble.

Sadly, Heinz Field was decimated by Bane and company in 2012. This was not unexpected after seeing now former mayor Luke Ravenstahl as the kicker and Hines Ward returning the kickoff.

Since the city (or was it some villain?) demolished Three Rivers Stadium in 2000, the home of the Pittsburgh Penguins since 2010 is the only current professional venue where nothing out of the ordinary happened. I hope that security remains vigilant (or that a new movie utilizes the arena for some cool scenes)!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Big Boy Bed Chronicles

With a second child on the way, it's time to move my son from the crib to a big boy bed. Sure, we've sold him on the new bed by telling him that he's growing up and such a big boy, but the reality is that we're going to need the crib for the new addition in a few months. So on Friday (Valentine's Day), we moved our son to his bed and new room. Since I'm now writing a blog post about this, you can probably guess that the transition has not gone swimmingly.

Friday, February 14th

Our son usually goes to sleep around 8:30. With the transition to the new bed and room and the fact that it was Friday night, we didn't really start putting him to bed until closer to 9:00. He didn't want to go to sleep. I laid in bed with him and dozed off several times, but he never went to sleep. After hyping the fact that moving to a big boy bed meant that maybe Ziggy would sleep in his bed, Ziggy actually joined us in bed. My son didn't seem to have a reaction to this. After moving from the bed to sitting on the floor, I finally left the room with my son still awake. It was then that I realized it was 10:30. 10:30! I left to load the dishwasher and let my wife take over. After unsuccessfully trying to get him to go to sleep for over 90 minutes, she got him to go to sleep in less than 10 minutes. The secret was singing to him and rubbing his face. She was basically Mariano Rivera!

Saturday, February 15th

He woke up at 6:30 AM after about 8 hours of sleep. While this doesn't sound bad, he usually sleeps about 10 hours a night and will often sleep nearly 11 hours on weekends.

Saturday night went well primarily since I wasn't involved with bedtime. My son and I have had a bedtime routine for months, but apparently, our routine is over. If that means he'll go to sleep fairly quickly, though, I'll take it.

Sunday, February 16th

He woke up again before 6:30 AM. Ugh.

Sunday night didn't go as well as Saturday. I ended up taking over when what worked on Friday and Saturday didn't work Sunday. He eventually fell asleep with me sitting on his bedroom floor.

Monday, February 17th

We woke up to my son crying at 1:30 AM. I went to his room to find him sitting on the floor holding two stuffed animals. For some reason, he didn't think to walk all the way into our room. It took some time, but we got him back to sleep.

7:30 AM. We wake up to find him sleeping on his bedroom floor.

Monday night. Short version: Put him to bed. About two minutes later, he walked into our room. We returned to his room, and I sat on the floor until he fell asleep after 9:00.

Tuesday, February 18th

Although we never heard him during the night, at some point between 11:00 PM and 4:00 AM (thanks to Ziggy for waking us up), he moved from the bed to the floor. This is now two mornings in a row where we started the day by having to wake him up from the floor. To me, the bed seems much more comfortable, but what do I know?

So this is where we are right now. He seems to like his bed except for the sleeping part of it. He hasn't napped yet and going to sleep has been a struggle. Any suggestions on how to make this entire process better?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Friday Links

Tonight is the first night my son will spend in a big boy bed. Wish him (and us) luck! I may give a full report next week. In the meantime, here are some good links whether you are stuck in snow, stuck at work or not stuck at all.

Mr. Brame asked some of his favorite Twitter celebrities, including Ashley Judd & Christina Applegate, to identify their favorite poem. Dale Murphy gave a dumb answer. [Mr. Brame's Blog]

Dejan Kovacevic found a Pittsburgh bar in Sochi. Not a Steelers bar, a Pittsburgh bar. [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review]

Awesome story by Douglas seeing and hearing his late father on a Pittsburgh Pirates YouTube video. [My Blog N'At]

Japan's women's hockey team is awesome. [Deadspin]

Former Steelers offensive lineman Alan Faneca ran a marathon in under four hours. Under four hours! [Behind the Steel Curtain]

Cool article about the Olympic hockey players in their 40s. [New York Times]

A Parks & Rec outtake of Chris Pratt singing about Sudden Death. [PSAMP]

Have a nice weekend!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Winter Olympics Problem No One Discusses (& My Solution)

On Tuesday night, I finally got a chance to watch the opening ceremonies of the Sochi Winter Olympics. Yes, I realize that I was four days late. Anyway, Matt Lauer mentioned that there are 88 countries represented in Sochi, a record amount of countries at a Winter games. These 88 countries include Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Hong Kong, Kyrgyzstan, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Nepal, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Venezuela, Virgin Islands & Zimbabwe who all sent just one athlete to the games. I guess that makes it easy to pick who will carry the flag for these countries! This also leads to an interesting anecdote in that Mexico has over 100 million residents, but only one Winter Olympic athlete while Monaco has only 30,000 people, yet has 5 athletes in Sochi. Meanwhile, over 200 countries sent athletes to the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

The easy explanation as to the discrepancy between the amount of countries in the Winter and Summer games are the events and the climates. There are 15 sports at the Winter Olympics (Figure Skating is considered one sport even though there are five different medal events - Men's singles, Ladies' singles, Pairs, Team and Ice Dancing - within figure skating) compared to 28 Summer Olympics sports (again, these are overall categories so volleyball and beach volleyball are together). Less events means less athletes. In addition, you're not going to find many ski slopes in Central America or the Middle East, so there's not going to athletes from these countries competing in the skiing or snowboarding events.

While Olympic officials won't say this, the Winter Olympics are primarily for the wealthiest and most developed countries. However, this doesn't need to be the case anymore. The Winter Olympics were designed to occur in mountainous areas for the winter sports. Major cities like Los Angeles could never host the Winter Olympics since there isn't a luge track next to the Rose Bowl. (Yes, I realize that the Rose Bowl is in Pasadena and that Pasadena is its own city in LA County.) That's why Lake Placid, New York, a village with about 2,500 residents hosted two Olympic games. Things have changed in recent years. Vancouver hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics yet held the alpine events in Whistler two hours away. Sochi is the real game-changer though. Russia spent $51 billion on these games creating countless facilities and venues. Although the 2018 Winter Olympics will take place in the ski resort town of Pyeongchang, South Korea, Seoul isn't that far away.

I'm getting slightly off-track here. My solution to having a more inclusive Winter Olympics is to move some of the Summer events to the Winter games. Events like boxing, judo, weightlifting, table tennis and non-beach volleyball could certainly be held during the Winter games. These are all indoor events that could be held in any climate. Sure, this may involve host countries spending more money to build new venues, but after Russia's investment in Sochi, the International Olympic Committee would simply factor this into the application process for cities to host the Winter Olympics. Besides, this would allow more sports to continue to be Olympic events. Wrestling recently fought to survive as an Olympic sport while baseball and softball were cut. Instead of cutting sports, the Olympics could keep baseball and softball as a summer event and move wrestling (or fencing) to the winter.

Now, can we get NBC to be more like Canada and show more live events?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Found In My Basement: Mr. McFeely

While I realize that there are people out there that make fun of Mister Rogers and feel that he is the epitome of "uncoolness," I am not one of those people. Mister Rogers is a legendary Pittsburgher and has such great messages. I think I appreciate him even more now that I'm a parent.

One of the characters on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood is the mailman, Mr. McFeely, who may be best known for his catchphrase, "Speedy Delivery." Mr. McFeely actually visited my kindergarten classroom about 30 years ago. You would think that the picture below is from that visit. Nope. Check out the date.

Yes, I have an autographed Mr. McFeely picture from 2009 when I was already in my 30s. Mr. McFeely was in Washington as part of the screening of My Tale of Two Cities, and I had the opportunity to meet him and talk with him. I also have a picture with Mr. McFeely that appeared during my Facebook 10-year video.

In case you're wondering, I think I already lost this picture. Maybe it will be found in my basement again in another few years.

Click here for more items Found In My Basement!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A Message to US Airways & The Steelers

The following picture was taken Monday at Washington National Airport:

My first reaction is Go Steelers! My second reaction is that there is no reason for there to be a Steelers logo on any US Airways planes. This January 25, 2014 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article helps explain the reason why.

American Airlines, which merged with US Airways last month, decided to close the flight operations control center in Moon and transfer the 600 jobs to Dallas-Fort Worth, its corporate home.

It's just the latest in a series of haymakers that has left the region as punch drunk as any prize fighter.

From the closing of a reservations center in Green Tree to the loss of flight simulation training in Moon to the shutdown of the flight crew base to the abandonment of its hub at Pittsburgh International Airport -- it seems that nearly every decision the airline has made over the last decade has gone against the region.

"How many wake-up calls do we need from US Airways to see that we're not part of their strategic plan?" asked Kent George, former executive director of the Allegheny County Airport Authority.

The upheaval has cost the region jobs and flights.

Employment has tumbled from a peak of about 12,000 jobs to 1,800 today. Pittsburgh will lose another 600 with the loss of the operations center and 53 more in a maintenance "rebalancing" expected to take effect in March.

The number of US Airways daily flights has plunged from a high of 542 in September 2001 to an average of 41 today. Stripped of its hub in 2004, Pittsburgh has lost service to cities large and small, from London to Harrisburg.

The quick summary here is that US Air has completely abandoned Pittsburgh after the city and more accurately Allegheny County and even the state of Pennsylvania spent milions of dollars to help the company. Yet, the airline continues promoting the Steelers, the most recognizable symbol of the city, on its airplane.

I think that I can speak for Steelers owner Dan Rooney here* when I ask US Air to remove the team's logo from its planes. Feel free to repaint the planes with either an American Airlines logo, a picture of a pile of cash or something not black and gold.

* I cannot speak for Dan Rooney.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Sean's Olympic Figure Skating Preview (With Help From Friends Who Are Figure Skating Fans)

I don't know much about figure skating. Sure, I watched the Nancy Kerrigan-Tonya Harding drama closely in 1994 and I often ask What Would Brian Boitano Do, but I don't follow the sport closely enough to have an informed opinion about any of the 2014 Sochi Olympics competitors. Fortunately, I have two good friends, who we will call Kelly and Marino for their love of the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins respectively, that are as big figure skating fans as they are football fans. This is Kelly & Marino's second appearance on Sean's Ramblings after we discussed whether figure skaters ever got upset at not having the opportunity to win multiple medals like their gymnastics, swimming and track counterparts. Turns out that the International Olympic Committee agreed with me.

Anyway, with the Olympics starting tonight, here is everything you need to know about the figure skating events.

Sean: Despite finishing fourth at the U.S. Championship, Ashley Wagner was one of the three figure skaters selected by U.S. Figure Skating to represent the United States in Sochi. Can you explain this to someone who doesn't understand why the top three skaters didn't make it?

Marino: Basically, there is selection criteria that is used to select the skaters going to the Olympics. Unlike other disciplines, the US Skating Nationals are NOT an Olympic Trials. Therefore, they don't have to place top 3 to automatically qualify. I think Ashley Wagner's far superior international record came into play, in addition to likely pressure by NBC and other sponsors already advertising Ashley as headed to the Olympics.

Sean: So despite finishing third at the US Skating Nationals and ahead of Wagner, Mirai Nagasu, who also finished fourth at the Vancouver Olympics, doesn't get to go to Sochi. If anyone has the right to contact Jeff Gillooly for assistance, it has to be Nagasu, right?



Sean: Since neither of you replied to my Nagasu/Jeff Gillooly question, I guess I should change subjects. Gracie Gold won the U.S. figure skating championship. What are her chances of winning in Sochi? In a related question, is Gracie Gold any relation to Tracey Gold of Growing Pains fame?

Kelly: I feel that if the USFSA was going to take the unprecedented step of putting Ashley Wagner on the Olympic Team, then they ought to have replaced that 15 year old who won the silver, NOT Marai. Because if you use the rationale that jumping junior earned her spot, well, then Marai earned her spot, too.

I do think Gracie Gold has a shot at a medal. She'll probably need a little help, but I think that's one of the attractions of figure skating (not so different than NASCAR, eh?)

No clue if there's a connection to Tracey Gold. (Sean's note - I'm going with yes, Gracie Gold is related to Tracey Gold.)

Sean: I don't understand your figure skating/NASCAR comparison. What do you mean by that? Regarding the rest of the women's field, besides Gold, who are favorites to medal? Do you have any personal favorites or women we should root for? Are Katarina Witt or Oksana Baiul still competing?

Marino: Witt and Baiul have been retired for a long time. Please tell me you knew that! (Sean's note: I did!)

Yu-Na Kim is the favorite for the ladies, she won gold at the last Olympics. She is from Korea. It will likely be her, Mao Asada from Japan and either a younger Russian upstart or Caroline Kostner from Italy that will medal. The US has little hope in both Men's and Women's this cycle. The new event is the team one, which is new to this Olympics and will be cool to see. I think it's one competitor or competitors from each discipline (Pairs, Dance, Men's and Women's).

We should root for the US of course! We also like Javier Fernandez from Spain in the Men's event. And I have a soft spot for Kostner, that we call 'falls on head' because she did that at a competition once.

Kelly: It should be a showdown between Yu-Na Kim and Mao Asada for the gold. Yu-Na is trying to overcome a foot injury this season, so it's tough to gauge where she stands against the rest of the field. I do think Gracie Gold has a shot. Falls On Head did not look that strong at Europeans (this nickname was earned because despite falling all over the place, her scores will be upheld by the judges - drives me nuts). Both she and our American "gifted Olympian" Ashley Wagner are reprising their Long Programs from last season. I think this is a good move for Ashley, I don't feel her LP this year was an improvement. But overall I do think this is a bit of a cop out. I'm more excited for the men's event, I think our US Champ Jeremy Abbott can turn the competition on its head. It'll be very interesting to see how former Russian champ Yvgeny Plushenko does after not competing for, like, 4 years. I was a little disappointed with Javier's program choice this year, after having such awesome character pieces, I didn't feel his Mission Impossible (or whatever) show was "Olympic." (BTW, I feel the same way for the Shibutani's - Michael Jackson? In an Olympic year?)

Sean: I'm now rooting for Falls On Head to win the gold. That's an amazing nickname, although since she's from Italy, perhaps we can say it in an Italian accent. She's basically the Greg Louganis of figure skating! By the way, you both now mentioned Caroline Kostner of Italy (that doesn't sound at all Italian) and Javier Fernandez of Spain. Have those countries always competed in figure skating? I always thought the favorites were from Russia (or a former USSR country), the US, Korea, Japan, or Canada. Where are the Canadians?

As for the men's event, who else is representing the USA? Do they have a chance to medal?

Kelly, what is a Shibutani and why is skating to Michael Jackson in an Olympic year a bad thing? Should he perform to t.A.T.u. instead since he's performing in Russia?

Marino, I actually heard about the new team event. This is figure skating's way to have their athletes try to get more medals like gymnastics, right?

Marino: Yes, the team event is similar to gymnastics. Right on Sean! There is a brother/sister team representing us in Ice Dance called the Shibutanis. I am with Kelly that using Michael Jackson in your Olympic year is not a good idea.

You are right about the traditional 'favorites' coming from Canada, the US and the USSR with a few stars from Canada. In the past 10 years, Europe had had more contenders. The advent of the new scoring system helped bring this about.

Sean: Prediction time: Who will win the gold in both the men's and women's events? (I'm not going to ask about the new Ice Capades events.)

Marino: Women's - Yu-Na Kim or Mao Asada. Men's - Too difficult to call

Sean: Marino, I have to say that I'm a little disappointed in your predictions. You gave two options for women's and none for men's.

Marino: Too hard to pick Sean.

Kelly: My picks for Olympic Gold are Mao Asada from Japan and, unfortunately, Yvgeny Plushenko from Russia. However, I will be rooting against the odds for Gracie Gold (probably will need others to falter for her to win, even if she skates her best) and Jeremy Abbott because, yes, I am a homer, and when it comes to international competition, 'murica first.

Sean: I really want Falls on Head to win the gold! (I feel like this was a character in Dancing with Wolves.)

Kelly: I think her time is passed. But as I said before, you never know in figure skating who is going to be the last one standing! And she has proven even when she Falls on Head she can still rack up enough points to do well. I watched some of that NBC Olympic preview last night, I'm excited to watch the Games! Here's hoping they can get thru the event without any B.S. (I bet NY breathed a sigh of relief when the game was done on Sunday.)

Marino: Falls on Head is a sentimental favorite, that's for sure! I don't think Plushenko will smell the podium, if Patrick Chan can skate close to clean, he will win. He is from Oh Canada Sean. I think Mao Asada too like Kelly for Women's.

And go USA! Maybe Jeremy Abbott will surprise and lay it down for the good ole USA!!

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Everyone In The Heinz Commercial Is Doing It Wrong

Did you see the Heinz commercial during the Super Bowl? If not, check out the video below (and if so, let the video refresh your memory).

Am I the only one who notices something wrong with the commercial? Everyone in the commercial hits the bottom of the bottle to get the ketchup out. Growing up in Pittsburgh, I learned at a young age the proper way to effectively get ketchup out of a Heinz bottle. You tap the 57. This might have been part of the first grade curriculum. Heinz even writes this on their website!

What's the best way to get Heinz ketchup out of the iconic glass bottle?

To release ketchup faster from the glass bottle, apply a firm tap to the sweet spot on the neck of the bottle— the "57." Only 11% of people know this secret. Now you're "in-the-know."

While Heinz may have spent $4 million on the TV spot, perhaps they should have spent the $0 to tell the marketing people the right way to get ketchup out of the bottle.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Interview with Joshua Comenetz, the Creator of the U.S. Jewish Population by Congressional District Map

Back in December, I shared the fascinating map of the U.S. Jewish population by the 113th Congressional districts. I was so intrigued by this project that I contacted the individual who created the map, Joshua Comenetz, and he was nice enough to answer some questions. If you like maps, geography, population mapping or even the University of Florida Gators, I think you'll enjoy this interview.

First, what is your background and how did you get involved with creating U.S. Jewish Population by Congressional District map?

As a consultant, I do population mapping and demographic studies of both U.S. and foreign areas. I've been doing religious population mapping, mainly Jewish, for nearly 20 years. The congressional district map is a companion to the National Map, a county-level Jewish population map completed in 2012 and also available on the Berman Data Bank website. Both were Berman Summer Research Fellowship projects--fellowships sponsored by the Data Bank.

How does one get to be a population mapping consultant?

I started doing consulting work as a way to have more hands-on work, especially when I was a professor. First I did some redistricting work, but more recently it's mostly been Jewish population. I'm not aware of anyone else who does Jewish population mapping.

How long did it take you to compile the data and create the [U.S. Jewish Population by Congressional District] map?

The project was completed during 2013, as a part-time research project. A revised version of the maps (I received better data for the districts in the NYC area) was just posted online.

Did anything surprise you about the results?

Not that much because I'd already done the county map. It's interesting that the data show at least a few Jews in every district, and how clustered the Jewish population is in some states. The county map shows no Jews in a large fraction of counties, partly because information about Jews in rural areas is sparse.

I was surprised by the amount of Jews that live in the eastern Arizona Congressional district. While I definitely don't want to dispute your results, um, was this correct?

There are definitely inaccuracies in the maps, mainly because of the limitations of the source data. These include out-of-date demographic studies in fast-changing areas, and lack of good data in many rural/small town areas. However, the southeast Arizona district is probably approximately accurate. The Tucson area is split between two districts, including that one. Tucson's Jewish population was estimated at 22,000 in 2002, and a 2006 update of that study found little change. The Jewish institutions in Tucson (according to Google Maps) are clustered in the eastern part of the area, i.e., in the congressional district you mention, and the Census Bureau ancestry/language data also suggest more Jews living in that part of the area. That led me to assign more of the Tucson area Jewish population to the eastern district.

My parents both grew up in small towns, but each of these areas had at least one synagogue. There's not much of a Jewish population in either town today. The reason I mention this is because I'm wondering if there is any comparative data in Jewish population from previous years (with the understanding that Congressional districts change)? If so, are there significant differences between now and 30 or 40 years ago?

As you say, congressional districts change, so it would be hard to compare those numbers over more than a decade. However, county or city data in the American Jewish Year Book goes back to the 1890s for some areas, and you can see long-term patterns of growth and decline.

While you may not be in the prognostication business, where do you see in this map in 20 or 30 years? Any trends you foresee?

In general, Jews move around more than the American average, related to educational and work opportunities and retirement. In growing places, the Jewish population is often growing even faster than the total population. In slow-growth areas, the Jewish population often grows more slowly than the total population, or declines. It seems likely that Jewish population growth will continue in southern and southwestern states, while there will be little change or even decline in much of the midwest. Some northeastern cities will not see growth, but others such as Washington/Baltimore, New York, and Boston will keep growing because of job opportunities and rapid increase in Orthodox communities. Orthodox increase is the key Jewish growth trend of the 21st century.

Finally, I saw that you worked as a Geography Professor at the University of Florida. Are you a fan of the Gators football team, and if so, will they be better in 2014?

I have not followed football, but I was in Florida when UF won the football and basketball championships in the same year. (Sean's note: Essentially, Joshua Comenetz is responsible for the success of the Gators football and basketball teams too! The teams haven't been as good since he left.)

Thanks again to Joshua for taking the time to answer my questions. For more information about the Jewish Maps of the United States by Congressional District, check out the Berman Jewish Databank. You can also check out Joshua's 2012 Jewish map of the United States by county and his website

Monday, February 03, 2014

Two Questions

It's the Monday after the Super Bowl and Groundhog Day, so I'll keep today's post short and simple.

1. At a major retail store recently, the cashier rang up three items of $5.50 each but didn't charge me for the fourth item even though he thought he did. Before telling you what I did, would you mention this oversight to the cashier?

2. This is a poll/question. If you have lived in the Washington DC area for more than five years, have you been interviewed by someone regarding a security clearance for a friend, neighbor, family member, co-worker, etc.?