I’m happy to report that, having misplaced it for a week or so in early July, I have found my productivity. Â This is good, because for the week after we returned our niece, who had visited with us for most of June, safely to her mom in Atlanta, I didn’t really do a damn thing other than show up. Â Looking back at my calendar for that week, I can see that I had numerous appointments and meetings, even a conference call, but I don’t really remember doing much else. Â I did bike that week, I remember that. Â Oh, and I mowed the yard. Â That was fun.
It is good to have my productivity back for several reasons, which are, in no particular order, as follows:
- Earlier this year I initiated a research project concerned with the effectiveness of the academic early intervention program that U of M uses to improve the performance of at-risk students. Basically how it works is this: faculty report to the University their students who are under-performing relative to their peers. Â The University then contacts these students and encourages them to seek help, tutoring, and so on. Â This is kind of a big deal, as the program is part of the University’s overall effort to improve its retention and graduation rates. Â I generated my first round of results last week, and while the results are very preliminary, it appears that being reported for intervention actually lowers student’s grades, rather than raising them. Â I imagine that this is not what U of M would like to hear. Â Perhaps some additional analysis will change the results. Â Of course, the upside of finding shocking conclusions is that my chances of getting this paper published just went way up.
- I have yet another semester staring me in the face. Â Classes don’t start until the very end of August, but if I don’t preparations now, it will bite me in the ass later.
- Oh yeah, and I’m about to get a great big promotion at work. Â Starting in the spring I will take over as the Director of the Center for Economic Education at the University of Memphis. Â The Center was started about ten years ago by my colleague Julie Heath and in that time has grown to reach nearly every corner of the state. Â The mission of the Center is to promote education in financial literacy and economics to children from kindergarden through high school. Â I’m really excited and honored to have been chosen as the new Center director. Â I have some ideas for new programs I’d like to try and I’m eager to get started. Â Julie will also be facing new challenges, as she will be taking over the Center for Economic Education at the University of Cincinnati. Â You can read more about the Center at U of M here. Â (First order of business: revamp the website.)
So as you can see, I have a lot on my plate right now. Â Normally at the end of each semester I spend a day or two watching the Lord of Rings Trilogy in its entirety, but it’s now late July and I still haven’t done so this summer. Â Maybe the week after next I’ll do so, but for now I am content to spend my days reading, writing, and working. Â Not a bad existence.
OK, enough about me. Â My ride on Friday was pretty uneventful, and by that I mean it was ridiculously hot. Â Broiling, boiling, searing, baking … whatever descriptors you can conjure up, it was hot. Â As I’ve written before, this is the first year that I’ve been an all-seasons cyclist. Â Biking around town in the winter wasn’t that bad; as long as I wore enough layers of clothes, I was fine. Â Biking in the more-comfortable seasons is a joy, but biking in the summer heat is something else entirely. Â Not to gross anyone out, but normally I shower around every other day. Â It just seems like a waste of water to shower every day, even if I bike to work daily. Â Once I arrive home, drink some water and cool off, I don’t feel particularly dirty, nor do I stink. Â (At least, my wife doesn’t complain if I do.) Â And considering that unless I teach, I really don’t interact with anyone at the office, so a little sweat is no big deal.
Those days are gone for now at least. Â I’ve been taking up to two showers a day lately, especially if I do yard work in the morning then bike to work in the afternoon. Â Gone also are the days of wearing the same cycling shirt for more than one day. Â Man I can’t wait for fall to get here.
But really, biking in the heat hasn’t been that bad. Â As long as I keep moving, I’m generally not that uncomfortable. Â My rides tend to be about 12 M.P.H. on average, and a nice breeze like that will substantially cool down the hottest day. Â It’s when I have to stop for more than a minute, especially outside of the shade, that the weather is really uncomfortable.
This happened on Friday afternoon at about the hottest part of the day. Â I had biked to campus in the morning on my normal route, Southern Avenue, and left campus around 4:30 PM to run some errands on the way home. Â I needed to stop at a package store, and rather than visit that store at the corner of Madison and McLean, I decided to bike to the one at Union and Kimbrough. Â Mostly I did so because I wanted to spend some time biking before my weekend began. Â I left campus and took the Chickasaw Gardens route west, and just as I turned north from Lombardy onto Humes, I heard the whistle of a train approaching the crossing at Garden Lane. Â I sped up a bit to try to beat the train, but just as I turned left on Garden, I looked ahead to see the crossing guards descend and the train enter the crossing. Â Sigh.
Normally I would have biked south on Plainview, to Higbee, Lombardy, then Central, scooted underneath the railroad overpass, then biked north again on Flicker. Â But that day I decided to wait and see how long it took for the train to pass. Â I figured it would take five minutes tops.
Seven minutes later the train finally cleared the crossing. Â It wasn’t that bad of a wait, except that I had the full force of a late-July afternoon sun pounding down on me. Â Drinking water helped, but it was still pretty miserable. Â I did wait for a minute with another commuter cyclist, a guy about my age that I didn’t recognize. Â Normally I would have chatted with a fellow cyclist for a bit about bike commuting, but it was so hot I wasn’t feeling chatty. Â After the train left we both continued on our ways, me heading into the welcome shade of Midtown’s residential streets.
Several times in my ride, I felt water dripping from my face onto my arms and legs. Â By the time I got home, after the package store, Black Lodge, and the quickie mart across the street, my clothes were pretty well soaked. Â Normally I like to relax and have some water before I hit the showers, but sitting in a chair and feeling my clothes clinging to me was not terribly comfortable, so I showered right after getting home.
Here’s a screenshot of my ride.
And here’s a clickable link you can explore.
I’ll probably bike 3-4 days this week, depending on how much I need to be at the office. Â My wife is going out of town this coming weekend, so if anyone is up for a Saturday night beer and bike ride, let me know in the comments.
Have a good week Memphis, and try to stay cool. Â It ain’t easy, I know.
HOLY CRAP I just realized this is my 100th post!!! Â Woo hoo!!! Â Break out the champagne, yo!