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Essex 5/1

Armed with pencils and paper forms, census workers will be fanning out this week to visit households that didn't respond to earlier questionnaires. I'm leading a crew of enumerators and, in preparation, I spent a day learning how to fingerprint. We fingerprint new employees using the old inkpad and paper form. You have to aim the finger directly into the center of each box on the form, and they are small and hard to hit. If a bit of stray ink gets on the form, you have to start over. There are more modern ways to fingerprint, but one of the charms of census work is the reliance on simple technologies.

I'll have a crew of about 10 working for me; it would have been more but three of my people recently found full-time jobs. Maybe the economy is starting to improve. After this operation, the 2010 census will be about over. Crews have done the jails and college dorms, and even spent three nights counting homeless people.

Amy departed today for Amsterdam, with no apparent problems from the volcano in Iceland. Before she left, she seeded several flats with flower seeds and gave me instructions to keep them and the rest of her houseplants watered. I'm also in charge of the check book and the dog. Upon her return, she expects to see a mess of little flower plants, no unpaid bills and a well-groomed dog.

At a recent meeting, the town board decided to place a moratorium on new moorings off the town beach in Lake Champlain. This does not apply to moorings in front of private residences. The town has a comprehensive law on the waterfront, but would like to get out of regulating moorings.

Be sure to observe Walpurgis Night on April 30, the eve of May Day. It's an ancient European celebration of spring, with some Scandinavian communities in the US still carrying on the tradition of music and bonfires. The revelry is also related to a medieval belief that the power of witchcraft is at a peak now, exactly six months from Halloween.

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