Fourteen things I learned on my first job after graduation

Yesterday was my last working for the Penn Institute for Urban Research, my first paying job since graduating in May 2010, December 2010, May 2011, or August 2011 – or, if you consider my graduation May 2012,* my only paying job in college.

*I didn’t end up going to graduation, but my name was apparently printed in the program. If anyone has an extra copy, I’d love to get my hands on one.

As you might expect from a place called ‘Institute for Urban Research’, a lot of my time there was devoted to research, and in the course of said research, I learned many interesting things. I shared a few – the ones I thought worthy of posts – but not all of them. This list won’t include every interesting thing I learned in the course of my job, but it will include some of them. In absolutely no particular order whatsoever:

1. Philadelphia is – without a doubt – the crappiest city in America:


2. Not everything published online is edited very carefully:

Though only 20% of all daily trips in Mexico City are by car, 80% of its physical space is dedicated to travel by car. Seven out of ten Mexican citizens are overweight or obese. (NOTE: is this comment really appropriate)


3. You can easily compare Penn’s current electrical demand to the demand a year ago using this link. Since you need a Pennkey to sign in, here’s today as of the time I pressed publish:

You can easily see the extent to which energy usage depends on temperature – and time of day. People are really predictable, though there are occasional blips. Today’s graph (really, a year ago’s graph) looks unusually glitchy. I might replace it with a more typical one tomorrow.

3b. Energy usage, in turn, affects demand: energy is more expensive when people demand more of it. You can visit to see the current price of electricity in and around Penn to help decide for yourself whether or not that air conditioning’s worth it. It actually looks pretty nice:


4. You know how SAT question-writers always seem very concerned with giving every question broad ethnic representation? Turns out, it’s the same in China [note that this page has been translated]:


5. Manhattan may be really dense, but the New York Metropolitan Area is not – at all:

That said, I have no idea how they defined ‘Metropolitan Area’.


6. ‘Simplified’ Chinese is a relative term:


7. The flow of wind can be hauntingly beautiful [Note: The static map is pretty, but the live one ( is mesmerizing]:


8. If China’s rise to power means more nicknames like these, the world might just be a better place for it:

In recent years, Dezhou has got three state-level city brands: China’s Solar City,Central Air-Conditioner CityChina’s Functional Sugar City.


9. There is an app to help you find bears – so you can go nearer to them. The app is called Where’s A Bear:

This should come in handy for the bears playing Where’s Lunch.


10. Dreamworks has an Oriental division, and this is its logo:

I wonder if anyone over there has realized they’re sitting on a kitchenware goldmine: Dreamwoks.


11. The below text – in Latin characters – is so Indonesian that Google offers to translate it [if your eyesight is poor or you are using an iPhone, you might want to click for a better look]:

12. That said, the future of computing just might not involve clicking:


13. Your internet browser is not so smart [this is a screenshot from, the website on which I did much of my work. Check out #8]:

You will also notice that Taiwan is referred to as ‘Chinese Taipei’. We had to do this for political reasons. Also, we did not refer to ‘countries’ but ‘economies’, since Taiwan is not technically a country – according to China.


14. This last one’s a bit of a stretch since I didn’t really come across it at work. But to be fair, I did spot it at the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia, which I wouldn’t have visited had I not been in the City of Brotherly Love for work. It’s a map of America in Yiddish, so I’m willing to bend the rules [Mad points to anyone who can dig up a higher-resolution version of this masterpiece]:


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