Sunday, February 27, 2011

Back in the Saddle

It was 51 degrees this afternoon, and I took advantage by taking the Surly out for a brisk road ride.  Riding inside on the trainer all winter makes you forget what a headwind is like.  I felt pretty good, but I've got some work to do.  Riding yourself back into shape each spring is part of the fun.
Don't I look handsome in my new Leinie's jersey?
It's good to be back.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Winter Cold

I returned from my work trip in sunny Corpus Christi to below zero temps in central Illinois.  Then, a few days later, the mercury began to rise and we enjoyed a week-long stretch of weather in the upper 50s and lower 60s during the day.  The snow melted and all rejoiced.  It would have been a great opportunity to get some rare, outdoor February miles on the road bike.  Instead, I spent Valentine's Day and the majority of the two following days in bed going back and forth between shivering and sweating.  It was awful.

I have spent the past week at work trying to minimize my coughing and sniffling spells.  As usual, colleagues and students drop by my office regularly throughout the day. Yesterday, a friend brought to my attention the fact that I have a few things in my office which might be considered strange to some people.

Here is the table that you see as you enter my office.  Does something strange stick out to you?

No? You don't see it?  Let me give you a hint.

I ran out of Kleenex. I swear.

In other news, I am a fan of the Southern Agricultural Economics Association.  Most conferences I go to disappoint on the swag.  I end up coming home with a cheap tote bag, a note pad or two, and some crappy pens.  Here is what I brought home from Texas.

Apparently keeping beverage cold is a high priority in Texas.  I think this is something we can all get behind.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Super Bowl Sunday

Having to go to an agricultural economics conference over Super Bowl weekend is not all bad.
View from my hotel room balcony
73 degrees, palm trees, the Gulf coast, and a 5 mile run.  Not a bad way to spend a morning in February.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Snow Day: Being Neighborly and Kids These Days

We had a storm go through the Midwest the past two days. Some might say we were "pummeled" by said storm.  Maybe you heard something about it.

Don't get me wrong, this was a major storm.  Major news sources have provided an excess supply of images from this catastrophic event.

Satellite image of the storm from the NYT

Flights were cancelled as Midwestern airports shut down
It was so bad, it almost stopped this Chicago hipster from getting some pictures
University administration deemed it necessary to cancel classes today, so I am working from home.  Which is to say I have my laptop open while watching Sportscenter in front of my fireplace.  I am sure the students are celebrating the snow day in much the same way as they celebrate anything - binge drinking and sex before marriage.

The effects of this major winter storm were even more alarming in my neighborhood.

See all of that accumulation! The snow is almost all the way up to the base of my fire pit,
which is AT LEAST 6 inches off the ground!
By noon I decided it was time to assess the damage in my driveway.  There was some drifting, and there was some ice.  It was definitely the most unpleasant shoveling experience I have had since moving to Illinois.  The whole 30 minutes of it.

It was a popular time to be out shoveling. Both of my neighbors across the street were also out going to town with their shovels.  One of these neighbors happens to be a single mother.  I have no idea why she is single, and have never asked.  She was struggling.  The other guy, also named Nick, took care of business and went back in the house.  When I finished my driveway, the single mom was still working on hers.  Nobody had offered her any help.  There were kids out in the neighborhood playing in the snow that were of shoveling age, but they offered no support.  So I walked over and asked if she wanted some help.  15 minutes later we were done, no big whoop.

The entire time I had assumed her kids were not home. I know school was cancelled, but maybe they were spending the day with their dad.  During the course of our conversation (in between sniffing snot and wiping it from our noses), it became clear that her kids were in the house because they did not want to be out shoveling.  They were watching TV or playing video games!

I am in no way claiming that I was forced to do a lot of manual labor as a child, nor were my parents hardasses by any means.  But I do think that if it came down to sitting in the house and watching TV while my mom shoveled outside by herself, I would "want" to go outside and help. If for nothing else than I would feel guilty. Luckily for all of us my dad took care of 99% of the shoveling and snow removal (and still does).