Blogosphere

Tips to clean your house

David Bly, We All Do Better - Sat, 04/25/2020 - 1:18pm

A few years ago, I found out that I’ve been cleaning my home all wrong. I was in a hotel room, when a maid came in and sprayed a solution on every surface…and then left. Right when I thought she’d forgotten, she returned. She wiped for less than two minutes with a thin dry cloth, and the whole place sparkled. It had, frankly, never occurred to me to let one solution do all the work, so I asked her what she’d used. It was something called Butcher’s Bath Mate—an industry standby.

Pro cleaners have brilliant tricks to get the job done. We asked three pros to school us on how to clean every room of the house much more efficiently. Plus, get their can’t-live-without-it cleaning supplies and top dos and don’ts.

The Best Way to Clean Your House
The biggest mistake people make is cleaning room by room (this is called “zone cleaning”). It’s much too slow! “You can either clean your kitchen in four hours, or clean your entire house top to bottom in four hours,” says Lisa R, from Eco Clean Solutions. “A lot of people get caught focusing on one area—say, doing a super job cleaning the counters—and never get to the stove, let alone the next room. In reality, just wiping things down and moving on is quick and efficient.”

  • Disinfect countertops and surface areas
    Go through your house and wipe down the hard surfaces – from countertops, appliances and cabinets to doorknobs, light switches, TV remotes and telephones. You should disinfect some of those surfaces, particularly the ones that might deliver germs to people’s fingers and faces. Make a nontoxic disinfection solution by mixing one-fourth to a half cup of white or apple cider vinegar with a cup of water.
  • Focus on tubs, sinks and toilets
    Spray cleaner on the kitchen sink then on bathroom sinks, tubs and toilets. Let it sit for a few minutes so the cleaner has time to dissolve dirt and stains. Then return to the kitchen and start scrubbing. Don’t forget to wipe down the inside of the microwave. Clean toilets last.

While in the kitchen, you also want to make sure your garbage disposal is in tip-top shape. If you aren’t sure the best way to clean a garbage disposal, click here for some useful DIY garbage disposal cleaning tips.

  • Sweep, then mop
    Sweep the kitchen and bathroom floors. Start mopping from the farthest corner of the room and move backwards towards the doorway (that is, don’t mop yourself into a corner). Rinse the mop every time you complete a 4-by-4-foot area.
  • Keep moving when you vacuum
    Don’t worry about getting every nook and cranny when you vacuum. Just keep moving through the house, running the vacuum in every carpeted room in one pass through.

Some tasks don’t need to be done each week. These include waxing the furniture, cleaning the windows, and washing area rugs and bath mats. Inspect these accessories and use your own judgment.

  • Don’t forget to routinely wash your cleaning tools
    An often overlooked part of cleaning the house is maintaining your cleaning tools. Using a dirty mop or a vacuum with a full bag is much less effective, and you’ll end up spending more time trying to clean.
  • Make cleaning a group activity
    Making cleaning a team effort is one of the best ways to clean a house fast. Schedule a time in advance with your family, and assign tasks to each person. Working together can add some fun to cleaning, and your house will be sparkling in no time.

Related posts:

  1. Watersheds, Wetlands, Buffer Protection Subcomittee Update– Clean Water Legacy
  2. CLEAN WATER PARTNERSHIP GRANTS
  3. The Clean Water Act
Categories: Government Officials

A case for Joe Biden

Manitou Messenger - Fri, 04/24/2020 - 11:08am

Former Vice President Joe Biden would be the most progressive Democratic nominee in modern history. He’s more moderate than Sanders, but the level to which he is ‘the moderate’ has been overblown. 

Biden’s progressive-ness is backed up by his policies, which no one is talking about. Biden supports a $15 minimum wage. Biden supports the framework of the Green New Deal. Biden wants federal funding to protect women’s rights in the doctor’s office.

Biden’s campaign has promised to fight for a more just higher education system. We saw this when he fully supported free college for students from families making less than $125,000 a year. 

Biden’s plan to protect and build on the Affordable Care Act doesn’t come close to touching Bernie’s superior Medicare for All. But, Biden’s plan has the possibility of actually being implemented in a divided system, thus dramatically improving our healthcare system right now and paving the way for even more progressive changes in the future.

  Biden’s pragmatism is the more efficient route to Sanders-level progressive policy. Biden can enter as a sort of ‘stepping-stone president,’ pushing the incremental change his policies present, while winning more democratic seats. Biden did this in 2018, when his endorsement helped Rep. Connor Lamb win a seat in a Pennsylvanian district which voted for Trump two years previous.

Where Sanders would struggle to get his policy enacted – which isn’t to discredit how important merely legitimizing his policy positions in the White House may be – Biden would lay the groundwork for producing Sanders-type policy. 

Something tells me there aren’t many Oles who started this campaign cycle all-out for Biden, myself included. Biden puts us into a place of ambivalence.

  For one, while Biden brings progressive policies to the table, he is not making them the central message of his campaign. He’s running on what he isn’t. He isn’t Trump. He isn’t Bernie. This likely helps him with anti-Trump voters who are not as progressive as he is, but it raises concerns for me about much of the policies he will enact.

  Electability arguments too often become self-fulfilling. Is Sanders really unelectable, or does the notion of Sanders’ unelectability perpetuate voting tendencies such that he won’t be elected? I tend to fall into the second camp and dislike conversations on electability. However, we might be in an exceptional circumstance.

  I do not want four more years of Trump. He degrades our country. He legitimizes racism. He lacks competency to handle a national crisis. He cares only about himself, not our country or the world.

A Biden presidency pushes our country forward. It makes voices too long unheard in our country feel heard evidenced by the support those voices are giving to Biden’s campaign. 

If you came to this article looking for a reason to “settle for” Biden, who appears to be a lock for the Democratic nomination and I haven’t provided it, I have one more thing for you. Watch his speech after he won South Carolina. It’s no Obama 2004 Democratic National Convention (DNC) speech, but it’s one of the best US political speeches since. 

In the end, I’m not asking for a perfect president. I don’t think a perfect president exists. I’m asking for a president who will be able to do the most good for the United States and the world. As the race stands now, I think that’s Joe Biden.

Categories: Colleges

Zoom graduation not ideal, best way to honor Class of 2020

Manitou Messenger - Fri, 04/24/2020 - 11:05am

As a graduating senior, I would like to say to my class: I am so proud of all the work we have done over the last few years. Congratulations. I would also like to acknowledge that our expectations were completely turned on their head. With this level of upheaval, we will not find a solution that makes everyone happy, and that’s really hard. All of us deserve to feel happy and celebrated this spring. 

I would like to acknowledge that our feelings about our senior year are completely different than past classes. This is not just an acceleration of the bittersweet celebration of graduation. We are not just feeling sad about saying goodbye to our home for the last four years, while looking forward to a world we are helping to shape. 

Our ending here does not feel bittersweet. It is one of mourning more than celebration. It feels like it’s more about what we have lost these past few months, not what we have accomplished. On top of that, we are grieving jobs and internships that have been lost before they even started. Opportunities that were there to look forward to, and then gone. Our plans for the future have been swept out from underneath us. 

So how do we acknowledge those feelings, while trying to still remember that we have so much to celebrate, even if it doesn’t exactly feel that way?
I hate the idea of a Zoom graduation, I really do. But I think it is the best chance we have of getting the most people there and reaching many. We are no longer on campus counting down the days. We are scattered across the world. 

I think we should start with some sort of digital celebration. Stream programming with our class speaker, a last lecture, maybe some messages from our SGA presidents, the administration, department heads, ect. Some messages from people we miss the most. 

Will it be the same? Not even close. And I don’t think it should try to be. It should strive to be something that lets the class of 2020 know that they are in our thoughts, and that we care about reaching them where they are right now. That we want to celebrate them in little ways now, to give them some closure and send them off into the world in the best way we can. 

We should not try to replace walking across the podium, shaking the president’s hand and getting our diploma. We should not replace senior week or signing our name up in Old Main. In fact, I think some attempts to replace that digitally could ring false and even slightly insulting. 

I don’t think anyone thinks that signing our name on a digital wall is the same as writing on the walls of Old Main. Or even that a digital yearbook that they are assembling is the same as a physical one, printed and mailed to us. We are all a little tired, I think, of trying to create digital experiences that replace the here and now. And while it is such an excellent tool in times like these, with something as old, traditional and honored as graduation, it would be meaningful to have something tangible. 

Which leads me to my next thought. In 2021, I would love to see a graduation ceremony. It will look really different because there will be folks who, for whatever reason, cannot make it. We will have all already spent a year working, studying, traveling or figuring things out. Our minds and hearts will not be in the same places they are today, as we grieve the last days of our senior year. 

However, we will be together again and it will be a chance to really celebrate in a way that looks like an actual party or ceremony. I think the energy would be unreal by having everyone that can come back and see each other and reclaim part of what we lost and have a chance to truly celebrate, when we have more emotional space to do so. 

Together, between digital and real life experiences, I think we can create a graduation ceremony that reflects the individual challenges our class has overcome. 

Categories: Colleges

A case for Donald Trump

Manitou Messenger - Fri, 04/24/2020 - 11:04am

This November, voters will go to the polls and have the opportunity to choose who will lead this country for the next four years. Since President Trump is running for a second term, voters should consider the question that Ronald Reagan asked of voters in his 1980 campaign for president: “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” For the majority of Americans, the answer to this question in 2020 should be a resounding yes, which is why they should turn out to re-elect President Trump.

Nowhere is the success of Trump and his administration more evident than on the critical issue of the economy. Under Trump’s leadership, economic growth has been steady, wages have risen and unemployment has reached historic lows. At least part of this positive economic record can be attributed to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, a law Trump signed which allows Americans to keep more of their hard-earned money and improves our country’s ability to compete for jobs and investment by, for example, reducing our corporate tax rate. Trump has also worked to improve our trade policy by removing us from subpar trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), negotiating better deals like the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) (which replaces the North American Free-Trade Agreement) and pressing countries like China to strike a deal and stop unfair trade practices.

President Trump and his administration have made us safer as well. First, the President has committed to rebuilding the military and to that end has secured higher funding levels for the Department of Defense. He also has successfully pressured our allies in NATO to pay more for collective defense. In addition, President Trump has taken the fight to our enemies, greenlighting military action to defeat ISIS and eliminate dangerous terrorist leaders like Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Qasem Soleimani. On the homefront, the Trump Administration has made Americans safer by finally paying attention to the important issue of illegal immigration: the administration has worked to commit more resources to securing our border, defund “sanctuary cities” that recklessly refuse to enforce federal immigration law and create agreements with neighbors like Mexico for stronger border enforcement and the orderly return of illegal immigrants.

The President has succeeded in other areas, too, many of which have flown under the radar. For instance, President Trump signed into law the First Step Act, a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill designed to reduce some of the persistent inequities in our country’s criminal justice system. Among other reforms, the bill reduced mandatory minimum sentences for drug felonies and offered more rehabilitation and job-training opportunities to criminals. Another bipartisan victory for the President was signing into law a bill that guarantees paid family leave for all federal workers. The Trump administration has also increased sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea for their aggressive and unlawful actions, while at the same time committing to diplomacy; Trump was the first president to meet with a North Korean head of state, for example. 

President Trump and his Administration have achieved a lot for the American people, even in the face of constant attacks by liberal politicians, bureaucrats and members of the media. Instead of taking a chance on the increasingly far-left policies of the Democrats, Americans should vote for the candidate who has made them better off than they were four years ago.

Categories: Colleges

Action Jackson’s Kryptonite: Lamar Jackson’s Rapidly Closing Window of Dominance

Manitou Messenger - Fri, 04/24/2020 - 11:01am

From being the fifth quarterback taken in his 2018 draft class to 2019 NFL MVP, Ravens Quarterback Lamar Jackson has put the entire league on notice after just a season and a half as Baltimore’s signal caller. Resoundingly proving his doubters wrong (especially those who were advocating for him to change positions prior to his transition to the NFL), Jackson has shown an uncanny ability to perplex defensive coordinators and players alike, tearing them apart with his lethal running game combined with his much improved passing attack. Despite falling to the Tennessee Titans following a lackluster playoff run, any detractors Jackson has left have struggled mightily to take anything away from the young man’s ungodly brilliant 2019 season. Having already been labeled the next dominant dual threat quarterback, great but frankly hyperbolic expectations have been placed on the 22 year old, with some even predicting a gold jacket and a bust in Canton for the young man. 

However, despite the illustrious career and many super bowls that have been planned out for Jackson by the many talking heads that cover the league, I personally have a somewhat bleaker view of his future. For most traditional quarterbacks, depending on their luck with injury, strength of organization and overall skill, a superbowl window can remain open for anywhere from 10-15 years (20 plus if you’re Tom Brady). This rule mostly applies to quarterbacks who are primarily pocket passers — ones who rarely leave the safety of their pocket, not wanting to venture into the wilderness that is the rest of the gridiron. Jackson is far from traditional though, as can be see by his 1,207 rushing yards on 176 rush attempts during the 2019 season, a statline thanks to which Jackson was able to dominate the competition. That same level of success will not last long, and his personal superbowl window is rapidly closing. This is for two reasons in particular.

Firstly, Jackson may be a one-in-a-lifetime athlete now, but his body and his athleticism will not withstand the beating he is taking. There is a reason that teams are hesitant to pay running backs nowadays, for after a few years of continuous contact, their bodies start to give out, no matter how dominant they were in their prime. Jackson treats his body much like that of a running back, meaning no matter how freaky he is athletically, he will end up either getting hurt or see his mobility begin to decline within the next 5-7 years. This has happened to all mobile quarterbacks as they have aged. From RGIII to Cam Newton, Vince Young to Michael Vick, none have been able to rely on their legs for sustained amounts of time without suffering the consequences. 

Secondly, teams will begin to figure Jackson out. Due to his unique play style, and considering how short a time he has been in the league, it is very difficult to both gameplan and practice in preparation for the Ravens’s dynamic signal caller. Jackson hammered home this point during the Ravens’s commanding win over the Patriots in week nine, stumping even the greatest coach of all time in Bill Belichick. Yes, Jackson is truly something we have never seen before, having reached a level of greatness that surpassses even the greatest mobile quarterback of all time, Michael Vick. However, his skillset will only serve to take him so far, as once they have more tape on him and experience against his game, other teams will begin to adjust to his play style. They will adapt their defensive schemes to specifically limit his rushing capabilities, forcing him to rely on his much weaker arm to produce offense, at which time Jackson will be reduced to nothing more than an average if not sub-par QB. 

Do not get me wrong, I am not rooting against Lamar Jackson. I hope he has a long and fruitful career, and that he knows nothing but success. However, I cannot sit idly by and let this sheer tsunami of praise for him go unbridaled. As a lifelong football fan, I have never seen a mobile quarterback maintain a high level of success simply relying on his legs. And while yes it is true that Jackson’s passing game has improved exponentially compared to the seven games he started in 2018, it is not yet at a point where it is self-sustaining or able to function without his lethal run game. Jackson’s success has been the dominant storyline of the 2019 NFL season, but I do not see that same level of success being maintained in the future. To make matters worse, Jackson himself just confirmed that he will grace the cover of Madden 21, meaning the young quarterback will also have to overcome the Madden curse in order to succeed next year. I hope I am wrong, I really do, but I will believe it when I see it. 

Then again, we have after all been spoiled by the longevity of the likes of Tom Brady and Drew Brees, causing us to unrealistically expect all franchise quarterbacks to play into their forties. Perhaps during his brief prime Jackson will bring home one if not multiple Lombardi trophies while at the same time putting up Hall of Fame numbers, and none of these concerns surrounding his longevity will matter. 

Categories: Colleges

Swinging into Spring: Jazz and the Lindy Hop at the Spring Swing Dance

Manitou Messenger - Fri, 04/24/2020 - 11:00am

Dave Hagedorn conducted three jazz ensembles on March 7 through a whirlwind of pieces, covering artists from the heart-breaker Frank Sinatra to the upbeat Artie Shaw and Glenn Miller. Students twirled across the Pause until midnight under the blue lights.

The night began with the St. Olaf Swing Club leading a beginner lindy hop lesson in one of the Rolvaag classrooms. Swofficers – or swing dance officers – gave a crash course on dancing. Their lessons did not work miracles, but in the end, they gave everyone the confidence to hit the floor running. As the saying goes, “You’re not bad. You’re new.” 

 

An hour later, Jazz II kicked off the dance with several faster songs that left the beginners in the dust as they tried to “rock step, triple step, step step, triple step” their way to success. The dancers from Swing Club took the dance floor with grace and a jaw-dropping number of flips and turns. As the night wore on, the music took a more comfortable pace and everyone began to find their groove. 

For many musicians on campus, the ensembles performing during the Spring Swing Dance hold a special place in their heart.

 “Being in a jazz ensemble has been one of my favorite musical experiences at St. Olaf,” said Emily Nolan ’21, a tenor sax player in Jazz II. “I have the opportunity to showcase my own creativity through improvisation, and it also allows me to appreciate others’ creative style.”

Swing dancers came and went throughout the night in waves. Those who wanted to enjoy the jazz music sat apart from the fray at the tables on the outskirts of the dance floor. 

Jazz brings musicians together in a more intricate and intimate way than most band ensembles. 

“There is great communication within jazz band, and each part plays a large role in the overall scheme of what we’re playing,” said Nolan. “Jazz is such a creative outlet for me, and I love the relaxed, fun atmosphere of our rehearsals.”

The Jazz I ensemble charmed the crowd with their rendition of “Ramblin’” by Ornette Coleman and their take on “Palmas” by Eddie Palmieri. During the final stretch of the dance, Aaron Linde ’20 gave an earth-shattering clarinet solo that for many was one of the highlights of the night.  

The dance was an amazing experience for the musicians and dancers alike and left everyone with a swing in their step.

Categories: Colleges

In defense of the book club

Manitou Messenger - Fri, 04/24/2020 - 10:59am

Last summer, two of my friends from St. Olaf and I conducted a long-distance weekly book club meeting over Facebook Messenger (by far the classiest of all video chatting platforms). At the end of May we sat down and brainstormed a list of books we had read and liked, or books we had always been meaning to read but never got around to. Then, once settled in our respective corners of the country, we took turns picking a book off the list for the group to read. Our Saturday morning video chats started with discussing that week’s book, but often drifted into general catching-up and quality time. The routine helped us maintain our friendships, and seeing their faces every week assuaged my own occasional homesickness for the Hill. I read things I never would have picked for myself but ended up really enjoying. It was equally exciting (albeit a little nerve wracking) to watch my friends respond to books I already really cared about. I didn’t want to stop learning or building relationships over the summer, and the book club was a very nice way to continue doing both of those things.  

 

There are several reasons our current predicament is an ideal time to start your own virtual book club. They are as follows:

  1. You may or may not have a little extra time on your hands. 
  2. It’s understandable to be feeling like your life is on hold. When action in your own life is lacking, it can be nice to supplement with the thoughts and experiences of others (Oles can have a little escapism, as a treat).
  3. It is an excellent way to stay connected with people from a distance.
  4. Follow up to item three, it also provides built-in material for conversation! I’m sure we’re all running into the problem of increasingly sparse conversation as normal questions like “what’s new?” or “what have you been up to?” are met with heavy sighs and choruses of “not much.” 
  5. Books are neat. I rest my case. 

 

On that note, I humbly recommend “Normal People” by Sally Rooney for this month’s pick. Although this wasn’t one I read for my book club, it was suggested by a friend of mine, so the sentiment is the same. “Normal People” follows the on-again, off-again relationship of two college students. The classic scenes of house parties and academic discussion provided a welcome dose of nostalgia, but I found even more comfort in the book’s core claim that real love and friendship is able to endure all the boring, messy and difficult parts of life. It’s also short and fast-paced, so it would be fairly easy to juggle while we’re still in class. Happy zooming.

 

Honorable mentions:

  1. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston 
  2. The Plague by Albert Camus (timely)
  3. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
  4. Watership Down by Richard Adams
Categories: Colleges

Creating during quarantine

Manitou Messenger - Fri, 04/24/2020 - 10:56am

When it was announced that all students had to leave campus, senior art major Aaron Lorenz ’20 got his hands on a 50 pound box of clay, and set up a makeshift art studio in his basement. While thumbing through ceramics books and listening to music for inspiration, Lorenz has been making pinch pots out of lumps of clay from his dwindling supply.

Some professors have been putting together art care packages for students to work on prints, drawings and paintings. But it can be especially challenging for students who primarily work in 3D, like Lorenz, who does not have a wheel or kiln at home.

Lorenz has been inspired, yet sometimes struggles to find motivation to create during quarantine. Without studio access, Lorenz says that when he does sit down to make something, he has a newfound commitment and appreciation for the opportunity.

“I personally am paying more attention to what exactly I want to do, what I’m making, and just enjoying it a little more because it’s not a for sure thing,” Lorenz said. “I don’t feel like I’m taking it for granted right now because I have a finite amount of clay and once that’s done, I don’t know when I will get clay again.”

The art department has been very generous and thoughtful throughout this process, according to Lorenz. 

Another major challenge senior art majors must confront is the cancelation of the senior art show, traditionally held in May. Professors still want seniors to document their completed projects at the end of semester for submission and grading. However, this doesn’t replace the importance of the senior show, where friends and family gather to celebrate the culmination of art students’ work, and maybe even purchase a piece or two.

“A lot of people go to the senior show. That’s the most visited show we have on campus,” said Lorenz. “It’s nice to plant your flag in the field of art and say this is what I’m doing and where I’m going.” His piece was going to feature audience interaction where visitors could stack cups to create unique shapes.

Lorenz says the first art show in the fall of next school year is likely to be the senior showcase. This still creates challenges, though, for students who may have to ship their work or are unable to attend because their postgraduate jobs or graduate school has already begun. 

Lorenz aspires to be a Fifth-Year Emerging Artist, and then to pursue graduate school for architecture. You can purchase some of Lorenz’s work via his art Instagram @lorenz.works

Categories: Colleges

Quarantunes: Weekly Mess Playlist

Manitou Messenger - Fri, 04/24/2020 - 10:55am

Being stuck inside has put me in a position of listening to Spotify 5 or more hours a day, and so I decided to expand my horizons and listen to music I normally wouldn’t. In the name of trying something new, here is a playlist of 20 different artists, each of which sound very different from each other, and some of which are pretty obscure. Enjoy!

 

Song:                                                    Artist:

Wobbly                                                  Ezra Furman

I Love You, Honeybear                            Father John Misty

Spooky Couch                                        Albert Hammond, Jr

Ugly Human Heart Pt. 1                          Daniel Romano

Parachute                                              Shugo Tokumaru

Almond Milk Paradise                              Milo, Safari Al

Sincerely Overwhelmed                          Orchards

Saints Preservus                                    Andrew Bird

Smokey Eyes                                         Lincoln

Reality Check                                         Noname, Akenya, Eryn Aleen Kane

Open Water Reckless Fishes                    Squalloscope

Song for Elias                                        The Cat Empire

Staring at the Plants                               Lily & Horn Horse

Movement V – Self-Organizing Emergent Patterns Sufjan Stevens

Such Great Heights Streetlight                 Manifesto

Riches and Wonders                                Eliza Rickman, Jherek Bischoff

Mothers, Sisters, Daughters & Wives         Voxtrot

it’s different for girls                                of Montreal

Sleeper                                                  Snarky Puppy

Nevena                                                  Oberhofer

Playlist on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/4J76gDZdrZyqmbNeNoXqtu?si=NBHxCJSmT7O-07ufajCSQA

Categories: Colleges

Heart Beat

Manitou Messenger - Fri, 04/24/2020 - 10:47am

Dating right now? Hard. So here’s an actionable list of self-isolation, long distance date ideas for you and your sweetheart: 

 

  1. Find an online game to play together. My partner and I like to play Club Penguin right now, because it’s free, nostalgic and so silly. We go on dates in the pizza parlor, race each other on the ski hill and try to out-do each other’s igloos and crazy outfits. Also try other online multiplayer games: Sims 4, Webkinz, Animal Crossing or Minecraft. I’m a big fan of the silliest, most-child-like game you can find. 
  2. Have dress up movie nights on Zoom. By now, I hope you all know that when you share your screen on Zoom, you can check the little box at the bottom that says “Share Audio” and watch a movie together (tip: It works best on Macs). Or if you both have Netflix, try out the Netflix Party Chrome extension. Try choosing a movie you can dress up to, to make it a little more special. Watching Lilo and Stitch? Wear your swimsuit and sunglasses. For extra fun, you could surprise your significant other by ordering them and yourself a pizza to your respective houses. 
  3. Use GoogleMaps or Under Armour’s MapMyRun app to plan out a special running or walking route for them, or send them the route you usually run. Or, have them run past some of your favorite spots. It will make them feel closer to you, knowing they’re navigating the world through your eyes. 
  4. Take an online exercise class together. Use Zoom again, and pull up a YouTube workout. Cheer each other on and keep each other accountable. 
  5. Go on a walk “together.” Grab your phone, call them up, and go out for a walk. Every so often snap pictures of where you are or cool things you walk by to share what you’re doing. 
  6. Don’t discount or hate on virtual sex. It’s completely normal to want to be intimate, even digitally. But do make sure you’re being safe. WhatsApp, Cyphr, Signal and Silence are all apps that offer end-to-end encryption. Apple iMessages do too, but Facebook Messenger and SMS text messages do not! For video, avoid Zoom sex. Not private at all. Try the encrypted Apple FaceTime, Signal or JitsiMeet. Encryption means hackers and the folks at that company won’t be able to see your photos. Note too that most photos you take on your phone have metadata (hidden data) that tag your location, time and date. Which means if the photo were to get out, there is a lot of identifiable information associated with it. This is an easy setting to turn off on iPhones, or you can use the app ViewExif to see and remove metadata from your mobile photos before you send them. 
  7. Don’t rule out sex toys. There are a lot of bluetooth or even synced sex toys for long distance partners. Try Lovense, WeVibe or Vibease. Most of these have their own encrypted apps that let you control your partner’s toy, and send private messages, photos and videos. Expensive? Ya. So if you’re unsure or not ready to invest that much money (the economy is not great right now!), check out knock off options on Amazon. Just make sure the controller is something your partner can have access to from a distance (either bluetooth app or long distance remote), and that the materials are safe to, you know, have in your intimate areas. 
  8. Don’t underestimate snail mail. Yes, the postal system is slower than ever. But sometimes there is nothing nicer after a long day than getting a handwritten note. We are all a little over-tech stimulated right now, and that gets exhausting as the only way to communicate with someone! It’s hard when you want to love up your partner, but don’t want to spend another goddamn minute on Zoom or FaceTime. Speaking from experience, it feels really good to get something that actually touched your partner’s hand as they sat there and took the time to write it out.
  9. Drop off dinner at their house if you’re close enough. Cook one of your favorite dishes, and bring it to their doorstep. Get in your car and give them a call. It’s also a good excuse to see them and talk to them in person a little. Technically during a “Stay at Home” period, at least in Minnesota, you cannot make social calls, even from six feet apart. But you can still drop off or pick up food… we love a loophole. This is, of course, less of a big deal if you have just decided you don’t really care. Or perhaps your governor has more relaxed rules. But it is a bigger deal if you’re navigating a family that is at risk or very concerned with COVID19. 
  10. Listen to music together with the app JQBX. There are other ways to share music, but JQBX is especially fun because it connects to Spotify, and plays off each of your queues and alternates songs from each of you. At the end, when you turn it off, it automatically creates a playlist of the music you listened to together. How cool is that? 
  11. Make a two person book club. We all have a little more time to read right now. Reading the same books gives you something new to talk about that’s not how much self-isolation sucks, or how much you miss each other or how bored you are. That can get draining. But the latest fantasy novel or best seller? That’s something different. 
  12. Go star-gazing or cloud-watching “together.” This one’s for us especially romantic folks out there. We’re all under the same sky. Go outside, call them up, and chat about what you see up there. Bonus if you remember your constellations or cloud formations from elementary school. 
  13. Plan out your next trip together for once this is all over. Do research on the places you might want to go together, and add it to the bucket list. Or even make a more general bucket list that you share on Google Docs or Apple Notes. 
  14. Use this as a time to deepen your relationship. Try swapping stories about things you thought were good ideas when you were a kid, or answering the famous New York Times “The 36 Questions that Lead to Love.”
  15. Play Truth or Dare. It’s fun because you can ask all the questions you’ve been secretly dying to ask. And then you can dare them to take a video of them loudly singing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” in front of their entire family, without offering any explanation. Or to write you a cheesy haiku. 
Categories: Colleges

Notes from Abroad: From one epicenter to another, Gabbie Holztman returns to the U.S from Milan

Manitou Messenger - Fri, 04/24/2020 - 10:43am

When COVID-19 spread across the globe, many St. Olaf students were still studying abroad. In this series, The Messenger will share stories of Oles who were abroad as this global pandemic began. Gabbie Holtzman ’21 shares her experience of coming home from Milan, Italy, a previous epicenter of the outbreak. 

When did you leave for your semester abroad and which program were you on? When did you return back to the U.S.? 

I left to study abroad on Jan. 12 for the program in Milan, Italy. I studied with the IES (Institute for the International Education of Students) Voice, Composition & Instrumental program as a Voice student. I was expecting to be there until May 21, but left for the U.S. on March 3.

Italy has seen so much tragedy during this pandemic. What was it like to be there during this time and how has it been seeing Italy in the news since returning to the U.S.? 

The whole situation felt like different stages of grief. Myself, my friends and Italy seemed in denial of what this virus was capable of… I lived on one of the main shopping roads, to see it go from packed all of the time to the empty Piazza del Duomo was a shock. 

The first two weeks of being back to the United States were mainly filled with international news of COVID-19. How countries were failing to prepare — Italy being among the worst in Europe. This news was incredibly hypocritical seeing where the United States is in the rankings of death toll and infected [cases]. Italy was a lot calmer about COVID-19 than the United States. There was still toilet paper in the markets, and if a market ran out of pasta for a day, there would be a restock the next morning.

When the COVID-19 outbreak started, was it something people were concerned about right away? Was there a specific moment where it became real for you? 

I wasn’t very worried when I heard the outbreak had reached the suburbs of Milan, but when schools shut down I became anxious.

The moment it became real for me was in conversation with my host mom when she said Italy would not be experiencing normalcy for the next few months, and that the Italy that I’ve grown to know would not come back while I was supposed to live there… I had heard airlines canceled direct flights from Italy… starting on March 3rd. So, I took the last direct flight out of Milan to the U.S. 

As things progressed how did the culture, community and the country around you respond? How did your host school or program respond and was St. Olaf in contact right away? 

My host culture and program were very collected concerning the pandemic. IES was adamant about continuing some courses under the radar. … Voice professors and other advisors were meeting as normal with students to make sure not to get too far behind due to classes being canceled. 

St. Olaf was great about connecting right away. The emails from the IOS (International and Off-campus Studies) office checked in with academics and personal well-being to make sure we felt safe. 

There was a lot of miscommunication and lack of information in emails to the students in the IES program… we had no idea until about midnight the night before that class had been canceled. The burden was then placed on professors to cancel lessons or distribute homework online.

How was your experience working with the International and Off-Campus Studies (IOS) office? How much time did you have to return home? 

Working with the IOS office went mostly smoothly. I think that since Italy was the first of the abroad programs to return to the U.S., we had the advantage of having advisors and Jodi Malmgren at our full disposal. I had one week to decide if I would return home… I was given the ultimatum of returning home, or at least booking a flight, or staying and not receiving support. I was under the impression that they [IOS] would help me to seek money back from my program — since we had not even reached a halfway point yet, and none of the field trips through the program had commenced yet. However, now I am facing the possibility of maybe getting $500 back for the semester. I work hard to pay for my own schooling, so coming home and experiencing less than half of my stay in Italy was heart-wrenching and I felt betrayed by the idea that I wouldn’t receive any compensation for my financial loss either. 

What did your return home look like? 

I wore a breathing mask the majority of the trip — to protect those [within] breathing distance on my flights. Before we got on our flight to New York, our temperatures were taken. When I saw their red hazmat suits, I’m sure my temperature spiked. I became anxious that I was somehow infected — even though I had already essentially self-quarantined. When I landed in New York, there was no one there to ask where we had been. No one to take our temperatures. We went through customs as normal and I proceeded to my connecting flight to Minneapolis. I had been anxious for my last two weeks in Italy before leaving, but as soon as I landed in Minneapolis, I felt relieved. Little did I know that the anxiety would come back as COVID-19 spread even further across the globe.

How are you completing classes that you were planning to take abroad? How has this academic transition gone for you? What has St. Olaf’s role been in your academic transition? 

I am completing online classes. It’s difficult because a lot of my classes were centered around community engagement hours and voice lessons. Having a professor play piano on one end of a Skype call and you singing on the other end is almost humorous. St. Olaf checked in to see how my professors were adjusting to my schedule in Minnesota. They wanted to ensure that I would still graduate on time. 

Are there significant differences between the U.S. and Italy’s responses?  Has being in two different countries during this time impacted your view and understanding of the global pandemic?

I think both countries reacted firstly in one of the stages of grief: denial. The United States is having a much longer period of denial than Italy… I had adjusted to life back in Minnesota when people started to erupt against the pandemic and began to lose the world around them and their normalcy. It was concerning to see the differences in staying positive in Italy in the face of mass hysteria versus the negativity in the U.S.

I had to stop watching the news altogether and avoid social media…There isn’t one person who hasn’t been impacted in one way or another. You’d hope there would be some sort of solidarity in that, and I think there has been some, but the negativity is unavoidable. 

Is there anything else you would like to add? 

I am very privileged to have studied abroad in the first place, and to even have one day with my host family in Milan. I hope that I do not seem ungrateful because I am [grateful] for every minute I was able to immerse myself in another culture. 

This interview via email has been edited for length and clarity. 

Categories: Colleges

Notes from Abroad: Colin Kolasny maintains sense of normalcy amidst quarantine in Taiwan

Manitou Messenger - Fri, 04/24/2020 - 10:41am

In this series, the Messenger will share the stories of Oles who were abroad as the global coronavirus pandemic began. Colin Kolasny ’21 shares his experiences in Taipei, Taiwan.

When did you leave for your study abroad and which program are you on? When do you intend to return back to the U.S.? 

I left Feb. 8, 2020, and I am on Term in Taiwan. I return back to the United States on June 30.

What does a day in your life look like?

Most days I go get brunch at one of the breakfast restaurants in Wenshan district (where my university is located in Taipei) and have a stroll around the Daoan riverside park. If I’m not busy with class or homework, I’ll often go on hikes around Maokong or other neighboring mountain areas, or to the central and more bustling districts in Taipei like Ximen, Xinyi or Zhongshan. In the evenings I’ll get dinner with friends, have some beers in the Daoan park or go to the Blue Note jazz club.

When the COVID-19 outbreak began, was it something the people around you were concerned about right away? Was there a specific moment when it became real for you? 

People in Taiwan have shown concern and adherence to government advice since the beginning of the outbreak in November. I think part of this is due to the culture of selflessness and awareness of public wellbeing that obviously does not exist to the same degree in the West. I think for Taiwan specifically, a global pandemic poses a serious threat, especially when it pertains to China. This is another reason why people took the virus very seriously before it was considered a pandemic. The moment I realized it was a very big deal was when Trump cut off travel from Europe and other countries began to follow suit[…] I did not realize the global impact it was going to have until countries began to close borders.

As the pandemic has progressed, how has the culture, community and country around you responded? How did your host school or program respond? 

Taiwan has taken really effective precautions with COVID-19 since before I arrived. As I mentioned, wearing masks in public is already a part of the culture of displaying thoughtfulness towards the health of others, especially the elderly. From the moment I got here, I was encouraged to wear a mask when in large public areas and on public trains and buses. I am required to take my temperature once a day in my dorm and most buildings with large groups of people (nightclubs, shopping malls, government buildings, etc.) require a temperature check and hand wash before entering. My dorm also does not allow outside visitors into the building. At first, these precautions seemed a bit unnecessary, but I quickly realized that they were the exact reasons why Taiwan has been able to control the pandemic. 

What made you decide to stay in Taiwan? Have you felt supported by the International and Off-Campus Studies (IOS) office in your decision?

I never considered leaving Taiwan. Since early March, Taiwan has been a safer environment in regards to the virus than the United States. It is currently among the last six countries in the world that still attends classes in person, and that includes all levels of education and the vast majority of universities. I thought it would be foolish to return home to Chicago where I would be at much greater risk of contracting the virus (not to mention the risk of airports and airplanes), forced to stay at home in quarantine and attend class online when I could stay in Taiwan, continue experiencing normalcy in daily life and attend classes in person. 

IOS initially issued a request that all study abroad students return home, which made me really upset because it seemed like they weren’t considering my circumstances. However, upon explaining the situation, IOS quickly realized why it makes far more sense for me to continue in Taiwan. Since then, they have reached out and checked in on me, which is a really supportive gesture!

How are you completing your classes?

I still attend all classes in-person. There is really no difference from the beginning of the semester and now, other than the fact that we are now required to sit with one empty chair between each person and wear a mask during class. 

What significant differences have you observed between the U.S. and Taiwan’s responses? Has being connected to two different countries impacted your understanding of the global pandemic?

The list of differences between Taiwan’s and the U.S.’s responses to the pandemic is so long. In Taiwan, there is a huge amount of transparency in the government’s response. Information is reported accurately and immediately to the public so that people are well-informed and understand what needs to be done to stop the spread. Donald Trump’s secrecy and concern with his own self-image amidst a human crisis is shameful. I feel ashamed to tell others I am from the U.S. because of the epic failure of our government and our public. Another hugely noticeable difference is the public response. If the Taiwanese public is asked to comply with government advice for the sake of public health, there is no question about whether or not they will do it. If the situation were to escalate to the severity of that in the United States, there would certainly be no protests in front of government buildings demanding the ‘re-opening of the economy’[…] Hoarding toilet paper, masks and other necessities does not happen in Taiwan. In fact, quite the opposite occurs. There are social media movements wherein people with health insurance (who are entitled to three free masks per week) provide masks to people who are unable to get them[…] More broadly, Taiwan is giving billions of dollars worth of aid to other countries being badly hit by the virus. 

It certainly is a confusing situation for me, because I feel very proud to be in Taiwan where I feel safe and well-protected by the actions of the public and government. At the same time, I feel worried for my family and friends, my future at home in the U.S. and the well-being of my country. 

This interview via email has been lightly edited for length and clarity

Categories: Colleges

Senate approves student survey, rejects mandatory pass/fail resolution

Manitou Messenger - Fri, 04/24/2020 - 10:37am

Student Government Association (SGA) Senate unanimously passed a resolution on April 21 that urges professors to distribute surveys to their courses in order to gauge how students are coping with the shift to online classes. This follows Senate’s failure to pass a resolution urging the College administration to make all courses mandatorily follow a pass/fail or similar grading system the previous week.

Student Alumni Liaison Senator Carrie Sayre ’20 first introduced the idea of the student survey to Senate on April 14 as part of the discussion surrounding the mandatory pass/fail resolution. Several Senators offered their backing for a resolution supporting the survey, which was then voted on the following week.

The resolution specified that the survey should be sent out by individual professors based on their respective course syllabi and guidelines, and that the survey should be distributed by April 29. It also urged that faculty use the results of the individual surveys to alter their course policies to reflect student responses.

Sayre introduced the resolution to ensure that policies enacted regarding course grading are done in a way that accurately reflects the sentiments of all students. Sayre also noted that, because grading is often managed at a course-by-course level, it is more reflective of student concerns to have each professor distribute their own course surveys.

The issue now falls to the discretion of professors to disburse the survey to each of their class sections. Sayre said that students will also be notified of the resolution so that they can hold their professors accountable for sending it before April 29.

Between these two Senate meetings, a survey was sent to each dorm asking for student feedback about concerns during the transition to online classes. 

“A couple freshman halls were in support, but by a wide majority of anyone above first year was not in support of the resolution,” Elie Nederloe ’21, Chair of Inter-Hall Council said.  

The result of this survey led Sayre, who was initially skeptical of the support for mandatory pass/fail, to introduce the class-specific survey. Nederloe and other Senators offered their support for this idea.

“We thought it would be best to have professors send out surveys asking about whether their class is too much and every student should fill those out,” Nederloe said. “We felt this was a better approach because some professors are being more lenient than others.”

Hoyme Hall Senator Logan Graham ’23, who started a petition to support a mandatory shift to pass/fail grading that received over 650 signatures, introduced a resolution on April 14 to urge the administration to implement said mandatory pass/fail or similar grading system for the spring semester.

After an extended period of discussion Senate voted to strike the first of three clauses in this resolution, which had urged the College administration to implement a mandatory alternative grading policy. The resolution failed to pass with the two remaining clauses.

Students from across campus tuned in to the Senate livestream on April 14 via SGA’s Instagram, engaging in robust conversations in the comments section. Many of the conversations revolved around whether or not mandatory pass/fail is beneficial for all students and if the College has successfully handled the current situation surrounding course grading.  

Before Senate engaged with these resolutions, St. Olaf’s Emergency Academic Committee (EAC) instituted several changes to academic policies following the shift to online classes. The committee extended the deadline for students to make a spring semester course Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) to the final day of classes and notified students that S/U grades will not count in GPA calculations in the first round of temporary alterations communicated to the student body on March 18.

EAC outlined changes to academic suspension and probation, determination of honors and degree requirement exceptions in a second email to the student body on April 13. The committee also waived two policies that required students to complete 24 graded, non-S/U credits and that no more than six credits could be taken S/U.

Categories: Colleges

St. Olaf students join coronavirus aid initiative

Manitou Messenger - Fri, 04/24/2020 - 10:37am

Three St. Olaf students have joined hundreds of other college students and recent graduates across the country as part of the COVID-19 Aid for All initiative, which aims to expand stimulus funding to more groups of people affected by the coronavirus.

A recent graduate of Pomona College started the initiative on April 1. Julia Himmelberger ’22, Jacob Schimetz ’21 and Anna Mulhern ’22 have since joined, representing St. Olaf from their homes off campus. 

The initiative is focused around regional efforts to advocate legislatures to alter future aid packages for U.S. citizens affected by the coronavirus. The initial stimulus package released by the Trump administration excluded many groups, including individuals who earn an annual gross income over $75,000, undocumented immigrants and teens and college-aged students who partially rely on their parents for support.

The primary goal of COVID-19 Aid for All is the extension of the $1,200 checks to “all adults, regardless of tax, immigration, or disability status.” The initiative also aims to offer unemployment benefits to all new entrants into the labor force and provide free COVID-19 testing and treatment. 

Part of the initiative includes a Google form for individuals to share their respective stories about how COVID-19 is affecting them. According to Himmelberger, the form has received a wide range of responses, from college students who have not gotten the check but live on their own, to disabled workers who haven’t gotten the check because they rely on others for care.

Another part of the initiative is a petition to the House of Representatives and Senate to include all adults in the next aid package. At the time of writing, the petition has over 650 signatures.

A primary tactic of the initiative is contacting local representatives to voice concerns and pushing them to vote on measures to extend the next aid package. Members across the country have contacted local representatives primarily through phone calls, while some are attempting to set up Zoom meetings with their legislatures.

Himmelberger said that she joined the initiative because she feels it is an extremely important issue and believes it essential to advocate for those left out of the original bill. She encourages people to sign the petition and to become part of the initiative in any way possible if their time allows. 

A link to the petition and response form can be found at the initiative’s Facebook page, COVID-19 Aid for All. The initiative can also be contacted through email at covid19aidforall@gmail.com.

Categories: Colleges

Kwik Trip’s lack of masks

Carol Overland - Legalectric - Fri, 04/24/2020 - 8:51am

Family Fare, Kwik Trip, Dollar Tree in Red Wing, get comfortable masks for your employees and they need to wear them. I called Family Fare about this and was told “we provide masks and it’s their choice whether they want to wear them or not.” I left it at that as I had work to get done, piling up… but then we had to make a couple essential stops shopping again.

We’ve been to Kwik Trip twice over the last 6 weeks, both times when Alan went in, I waited in the car, and watched people going in. I was struck by the fact that none had masks on, NONE, and multiple people were going in from cars, not just one. Alan reported that NONE of the cashiers were wearing masks. So I contacted Kwik Trip HQ and reported what we’d observed and that they weren’t adequately protecting their workers or the public:

Contact Us KwikTrip/Kwik Star

Here’s the response I got (foreshadowing, note the reference to CDC):

Carol,

Thank you for reaching out.

We most certainly share your concern for our customers & co-workers = they are WONDERFUL and are on the front lines daily.

A KT special task force meets at least once a day to implement changes and of course to comply with mandated CDC and state health department procedures.

On April 3, 2020, the CDC updated their recommendations with regard to masks. Masks are only recommended for those who have contracted covid-19 or for individuals caring for them.

As a result, our co-workers have been given the option of wearing masks and we are providing two washable masks for each person.

We are constantly re-evaluating our safety practices based on the most current information.

The CDC has consistently stated that face coverings and gloves are not a substitute for frequent hand washing, which we know are amongst the most effective ways to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

We have always stressed proper handwashing.

We will call and remind the store to follow our COVID-19 guidelines.

I hope this is somewhat helpful – Kwik Trip is committed to safely providing essential services.

It is a privilege for us to continue to serve the community during this crisis.

Thank you,

Christina- Customer Service Representative – Kwik Trip Communication Center 608.793.6267

LINK: CDC – Use Cloth Face Covering to Prevent Spread

Now, again, about that CDC statement by Kwik Trip’s PR person:

On April 3, 2020, the CDC updated their recommendations with regard to masks. Masks are only recommended for those who have contracted covid-19 or for individuals caring for them.

As a result, our co-workers have been given the option of wearing masks and we are providing two washable masks for each person.

Kwik Trip, change your policy, top down, and protect your workers and the public. Make sure that your PAID sick leave policy is beefed up to allow sick workers to stay home, and make sure your workers have health coverage sufficient to allow them to get medical care without fear of going into medical debt.

And Kwik Trip, please, stop misrepresenting the CDC’s recommendations.

Categories: Citizens

Let’s Get Growing! Preparing your Veggie Garden

Thinking about growing vegetables this summer? That’s great! We’re here to help! Nothing compares to the flavor of a fresh tomato, plucked straight from the plant and still warm from the sun. Here’s a quick ‘n dirty guide to getting started. 

Plan and Prepare the Site

Most vegetables thrive in full sun, so pick a spot in the yard that gets 8 hours of sun a day. Avoid spots that have poor drainage- standing water and constantly soggy soil encourage rot and disease. Consider your water source and place the garden within easy reach so that keeping your plants hydrated at the height of summer is convenient. 

Amend your beds with soil mix, compost, and fertilizer as desired. Slow release fertilizer like Osmocote and organic fertilizers like blood meal and Cowsmo aged compost are excellent options. For raised beds and containers, a well-drained soil mix enriched with organic material is ideal. Our soil mix is black gold for growing veggies!

Decide what vegetables you want to grow. Tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers are great options for beginning gardeners. Measure your beds and plan placement of your crops. Make sure to allow enough room for ultimate height and width of your veggies and good airflow between plants. They won’t be babies forever!

In a few weeks you can start planting! Stay tuned for our guides to planting cold hardy and warm weather crops.

The post Let’s Get Growing! Preparing your Veggie Garden appeared first on Knecht's Nurseries & Landscaping.

Categories: Businesses

SUPPORT THE FOOD SHELF!

We are providing an outlet for the sale of handcrafted plant stands by local woodworker John Gorder.  These plant stands are made using the wood from the trees damaged at Leif and Deb Knecht’s property during the Rice County tornadoes of 2018.  All proceeds will go to the Northfield Area Food Shelf.  The price of these plant stands is $89 and are available near the checkout area here at Knecht’s.  We are asking for cash or checks made payable directly to the Northfield Area Food Shelf.

John Gorder is a retired pastor, having graduated from St. Olaf College and served as a missionary in Africa and New Guinea with his wife, Gordeen,  for many, many years and then had parishes in Chicago and Minnesota.   Woodworking keeps him busy in retirement.  

John has donated his craftmanship, and we encourage you to donate now to the Northfield Food shelf by purchasing one of these beautiful oak plant stands.

Many thanks… 

Leif & Deb Knecht

The post SUPPORT THE FOOD SHELF! appeared first on Knecht's Nurseries & Landscaping.

Categories: Businesses

How to Pollinate a Meyer Lemon Tree

My Northern Garden - Mary Schier - Thu, 04/23/2020 - 9:59am

Lemon trees are self-pollinating, but when they live indoors nature may need a little assistance. Here's how to be the bee.

The post How to Pollinate a Meyer Lemon Tree appeared first on My Northern Garden.

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Categories: Citizens

Arrowhead VII

Blowing and Drifting - Christopher Tassava - Sun, 01/26/2020 - 12:40am

Monday morning at 7:00, I’ll start my seventh Arrowhead Ultra, my seventh attempt to ride my fatbike down the 135 miles of snowmobile trail across northern Minnesota from International Falls to Tower.

Sundogs just after the start of the 2019 Arrowhead

So far I’ve finished the race each time I’ve started, with times ranging from 19.5 hours in 2015 to 29 hours in 2014. My best placing was my first year, when we rode in the polar vortex and I wound up in 7th place.

The forecast (as of Saturday night) looks increasingly good, with highs near 25° on Monday afternoon and lows near 0° at the start and then overnight — which likely means actual air temps near -10°’ when we hit the low swampy areas. Those temperatures are very manageable and should mean the trail will be hard and fast.

This year — after a very busy few months at work and much less riding than I’d like — I’m in less good physical shape than I’d like, although I rode well at the Tuscobia 160 a month ago. I’m primarily gunning for another finish and I’ll be happy to go under 24 hours.

If you want to see how I am doing, check Trackleaders, a cool free service that uses GPS data to plot some (but not all) of us on a map of the course!

Categories: Citizens
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