2010/08/23

Back to the Frying Pan

Any hopes that the beginning of the new school year would bring a quiet Monday morning were quickly dashed.  The Internet computers were full within 10-15 minutes of opening, and the average wait for a PC stayed at 30-35 minutes all day.  Our PC reservation software wilted several times under such a hammering, and at times we were unable to issue reservations at all for some minutes.

"Don't you have anything sooner?  I only want to print something out.", was the constant refrain.  Meaning class schedules, course syllabi, and other college-related ephemera.  Even the wireless laptop crowd must sooner or later need to print something, and waiting for a public-access computer to do it is the price they pay for relying on free Wi-Fi.

Web congestion was noticeable.  Yahoo Mail and the Florida Department of Children & Families' ACCESS Florida public assistance site were at times so unresponsive that they were unusable.

It was one of those days when you buckle down and do what you're paid to do, with a smile, until the clock runs out.

Nice Language Demographic Tool
I took a call from an office at the Florida Department of Education.  They were looking at translating some documents into several of the non-Hispanic languages most-spoken in Florida.  Could I tell her what they were?  I tried the Florida and U.S. Statistical Abstracts, but they lumped numbers for languages other than English and Spanish together in a single, "non-Hispanic" category.  I said I'd look further and call her back.

A look at the U.S. Census site revealed the same thing.  A topical overview lumped them together as well.  It linked to more granular breakdowns by region, but not by state.

I didn't have the time to dive into the sea of raw census data, so I tried some advanced Google searches, limiting by non-.com domains.  And I found the Modern Language Association Language Map, in a footnote to the language section of the Wikipedia entry on Miami, Florida. Problem solved.  Using the MLA Language Map Data Center, I was able to get her the information.  Surprisingly, after Spanish the top five non-English languages spoken in Florida are all European:  French Creole, (Haitians), French, German, Portuguese and Italian.  Next are the ones you might have guessed  were more numerous, Tagalog and Vietnamese, which account together for .55% of Florida's population.

2 comments:

Martin H. said...

I remember, only too well, the start of a new academic year. The frenetic atmosphere etc. Do I miss it? Not one bit. I take my hat off to you for coping so well, in the face of all you mention.

Interesting to read about your search methods.

Brett said...

Thanks, Martin. If I am fortunate enough to live so long, I won't miss it either. But I count my blessings. It is good to be of use to others.