Name calling at its best

To counter envy of acquaintances employed by for-profit companies (and thus eligible for glamorous productivity incentives like Hawaiian vacations and cars) let’s reflect on unique perks of working at a nonprofit institution–say, a library.

Besides the priceless benefit of learning intriguing facts every day (people ask about everything), there’s the proximity advantage.  Once the new reference books are cataloged and prepared for shelving, they’re delivered straight to the Reference Assistance desk on second floor for review by the librarians there.  Even fiction aficionados like me succumb to the lure of gleaming new trivia troves.  This week’s star attraction:  America’s Top Rated Cities: A Statistical Handbook

Plano made the list; Round Rock didn’t.  However, as the Introduction advises us, a population of 100,000 represents the minimum for “city” designation.  Round Rock was detailed in the 2008-9 edition of the corresponding America’s Top-Rated Smaller CitiesIts new edition is on order, and when it arrives we of course expect to view a repeat appearance there.

Inclusion in either publication speaks volumes.  Top 100 status is earned by “high marks for business and living from prominent publications” such as Places Rated Almanac, Forbes, Fortune, and Wall Street Journal, as well as “first-hand visits, interviews, and reports”. 

Who else would consider this 4-volume set a page-turner?  Trivia fans, anyone considering a strategic relocation, marketers, entrepreneurs, and the soon-to-retire immediately spring to mind.  Of course, citizens of these favored municipalities would enjoy all the documentation justifying their loyalty.  One can investigate all sorts of comparative statistics:  educational attainment, housing vacancy rate, travel time to work, etc.  Or, the resident can simply peruse the background notes and pages of rankings to, as Romeo put it, “rejoice in splendour of mine own”.

Do I even need to verify that Austin qualified?  Along with the distinctions that you would anticipate–kudos for for innovation, heart health, boating, creativity, telecommuting, favorable impressions from visitors, green-ness–Austin also ranked high in gift card purchases, spring and fall allergies, credit card debt, and vulnerability to cybercrime.  No Lake Woebegon effect here: every city will reveal a few unflattering facets.

Austin’s background notes on page 59 even recount my favorite bit of Austin lore–that the pre-Weirdness moniker/slogan “City of the Violet Crown” was coined by writer (and resident) O. Henry.   

Did you know that Plano initially applied to the federal government to be named “Fillmore”?

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