America’s Drunkest Cities

By Janet Stengle

Men’s Health magazine ranked the top ten drunkest cities in America, based on a study by the Centers for Disease Control.

The study measured alcohol-related deaths, DUI arrests and binge drinking in each city. Men’s Health then compiled the data in an unscientific method.

How drunk is your city?

US Top 50 Swim Cities 2016

By Janet Stengle

San Jose-Santa Clara, Calif. edged out Ann Arbor, Mich. to claim the title of top swim city for the first time in Speedo and USA Swimming’s annual study.

The study compared each city’s swim qualities in relation to population, including factors like new member growth, number of USA Swimming members, club excellence, and number of high-level competitors.

South Bend-Mishawaka came in at 28. Did your city make the list?

Birkenstocks Losing Cool Factor

By Janet Stengle

In the Sept. 2016 issue of Notre Dame’s Scholastic, the magazine threw it back to Sept. 12, 1999 for the monthly #tbt segment. A student’s 90s Birkenstocks were featured, a pair very similar to the model students walk around in today.

Nearly 20 years later, Birkenstocks are still trendy. The New York Times reported a successful summer for Birkenstocks in 2014, notably in New York, far from its West Coast base.

But is the brand’s cool factor slipping? Chacos, another type of sandal, are also popular for Notre Dame students.



Photo by Clara S.



Photo courtesy of

Comparing Birkenstocks and Chacos on Google Trends shows that since 2004 in the United States, Chacos has become a more popular Google search than Birkenstocks, surpassing the longstanding shoe in 2010.


Perhaps price is a factor. On the Chacos website, a pair of women’s sandals ranges from $67.99 – $105.00. A standard pair of women’s Birkenstocks is $99.95.

Birkenstocks sticks to footwear – sandals, clogs, boots and shoes. But you can find Chacos socks, t-shirts, and even dog leashes.

Searches for both Birkenstocks and Chacos rise dramatically each June, then fall during winter months. Chacos are likely a more popular summer shoe.

But when searches for both descend in winter, the shoes even out before spiking back up. Birkenstocks may still reign as a more popular winter shoe, easier to wear with socks since 1999.

The Politics of Hamilton and Vice President Pence

By Janet Stengle

The cast of Hamilton, the American Musical had a message for Vice President Mike Pence, and America listened.

On November 18, 2016, Pence attended Broadway’s hit musical with his family. Audience members booed the then Vice President-Elect as he walked in. After the show, the cast addressed Pence directly.

“We, sir — we are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us,” actor Brandon Dixon, who plays Aaron Burr, said.

Google Trends shows that searches in the United States for both “Hamilton” and “Mike Pence” immediately increased after the cast’s words on Nov. 18.


Zooming out to view the comparison in the past year, searches for “Hamilton” sharply increased on Nov. 18. But the most searches for “Hamilton” occurred on June 12, the day of the Tony Awards. The show won 11 Tonys after the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando early that morning. Lin-Manuel Miranda honored the victims in his acceptance speech for Best Score.


Searches for Mike Pence peaked at his nomination on July 20. In a larger view, it shows less Google searches for Hamilton compared to Pence, even after November 18. But the two searches often intersect – today, the searches are nearly even.

Broadway musicals, or any cultural events, can interlace with politics, affecting what Americans pay attention to. Pence said he “wasn’t offended.” But Trump tweeted directly after the event, demanding that the cast “apologize!” and later called the musical “underrated.”



Looks like Hamilton is still a force in American politics.