Home Alone: What did you do during the shutdown?

Wednesday - 7/16/2014, 2:00am EDT

Back in the day, especially when the draft was still in place and so many served, kids routinely used to ask, "What did you do during the war, Daddy?'

Now children all over the country, but especially in major federal centers, like Washington, Ogden, Huntsville, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Denver and Austin have a similar question.

It is: "What did you (mom or dad) do during the Great Government Shutdown of 2013?" Often the answer is interrupted by their infant (as in just born) baby brother or sister awaking after a brief nap. Hmmm.

The media (including yours truly) pays a lot of attention to the off- duty activities of federal workers when they are forced — usually by a weather event — to stay home. Typically it is winter and snow, even in tough towns like Chicago, Minneapolis, Buffalo and Boston that keeps folks indoors. If the power and the cable go, it suddenly becomes 14,000 B.C. in lots of places. You eat, try to stay warm, whatever...

Last month, the D.C. media (the original idea is credited to WNEW radio in the D.C. area) decided to check on hospital births nine months after the first shutdowns took place. One hospital, Sibley in Northwest D.C., reported that births were averaging two a day more than normal. Sibley is in a tony uptown neighborhood, which services many upscale people in that part of town and adjoining (equally tony) Montgomery County, Maryland. While many of the residents are lawyers, lobbyists, politicians or high-ranking feds (like the Attorney General and former Secretary of State), some of them are also government worker bees at several high-security military facilities, who were furloughed without pay during the shutdown. And found themselves with extra time on their hands.

The obvious impact of the furloughs and shutdowns were covered. Some people had a hard time meeting bills. Vacations were canceled or curtailed. FEEA, the feds-helping-feds charity, ran out of money, for the first time ever. Things were tough. Up to a point.

Spot checks with other area hospitals indicate that births were and are up slightly from this time last year. We didn't reach out to other cities, but maybe you have some inside (or personal) information to share.

The furloughs were the result of politics and sequestration (which both parties agreed on, then backed away from). The shutdown was the result of another food-fight-gone-bad between Congress and the White House. The villain depends (in your mind) on whether you lean Republican or Democratic.

But the summer-fall sequestration furloughs followed by the government shutdown are different than weather-triggered, stay-at-home situations. During blizzards the kids, if any, are usually stuck with their parents. As in break out the Scrabble board.

But during a government shutdown, the federal spouse or spouses may be home alone while the kids are away. Plus the weather was better in most cases.

So what were you doing this time last year? Let us know and we'll pass it on to your fellow feds. Who was the most creative? Who did what most often in the most creative way? And finally, if you are part of the statistical blip, what did you (or are you going to) name him or her?


NEARLY USELESS FACTOID

What are the words people know the least — in the sense that people are stumped as to even whether they are actually words?

"Genipap" (a tropical evergreen tree), "pyknic" (an adjective for stocky) and "didapper" (a type of small bird) all made the list of least recognized words, according to a study conducted by the Center for Reading Research.

(Source: Business Insider)


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