We were having a great winter, all things considered, until last Sunday. Only one small snowstorm, no super cold weather, no ice. Right now, it’s snowing for the fourth time this week and we’re supposed to get sub-zero temps tonight. Working from home kind of eliminates the snow day option, unfortunately. It doesn’t stop my hands from turning into blocks of ice after about 3:00 when the shade covers my side of the house, though. I must say, our neighborhood looks very nice covered in a layer of the white stuff. Our subdivision decided rather than street lights, each home would have a small lamp in the yard for nighttime lighting. On a normal night, it keeps it very dark: almost too dark. But for the past week, with snow covering everything, the nights have a warm glow from the lights reflecting off the ice. It feels like a Swiss chalet. OK, that’s stretching things. Almost makes winter tolerable.

People I hate: People who drive pickups fast in the snow, especially small pickups. Listen, you’ve got no weight in the back and the roads are slick. There’s no reason to go 50 in a 35. I have four-wheel drive but still try to keep it under the speed limit when you’ve got four inches to plow through. Slow it down, Jethro.

You may recall my elaborate plans for wooing Carmel High School’s Josh McRoberts to attend KU that were ruined when he committed to Duke. Well, McRoberts spent the first month of the season on the bench while a back injury healed. He finally returned to action a couple weeks ago. Although I didn’t go to his first game back, I did watch the Carmel High School TV station’s coverage of the event. The coverage is great on a normal night. A single, shaky camera mounted among the bleachers. A super staticy video feed. And a couple high school kids in dress shirts and ties commenting on the game. Yes, I’m intensely jealous I didn’t have this kind of opportunity 15 years ago. Anyway, before the pregame introductions, the announcing team was rightly talking up the event. The opposing team was introduced, followed by the first four CHS players. Just before McRoberts’ name was called, one announcer excitedly said, “Here he comes! Here he comes!” McRoberts is introduced to a huge roar from the completely full gym. Once the applause dies down, the announcer shared his assessment; “I’ve got chills up and down my spine!” I love this kid. He perfectly summed up what it’s like to have a superstar on a high school team. I remember trekking all over KC in the winters of 1988 and 1989 to watch any and every player who was Division One material. I did again later with Tyronn Lue, Derek Hood, and, of course, the Rush brothers. There’s an innocence that comes with being a high school star. Maybe it’s the endless reservoir of opportunity in front of them. Most importantly, there’s a forgiveness factor that disappears the moment they put a college jersey on for the first time. The stars in high school are larger than life, yet regular kids too.

Speaking of high school stars, a local channel shows a slightly higher quality game of the week each Friday night. Last week, #1 Lawrence North faced #2 North Central. Two proud schools (home to Eric Montross and Jason Gardner respectively) in a key clash before district play begins. North Central features top 50 senior AJ Ratliff, who’s signed to attend IU next year. Lawrence North features super sophomore Greg Oden, who checks in at 7’ and already has a better body than KU’s David Padgett (not saying much, I realize, but the kid is 15!). Ratliff was silky smooth, and I had no idea he had 22 points by the third quarter. Maybe it’s because LN was just destroying them. Oden, who reminds me of a young Patrick Ewing, was simply amazing on offense. He absolutely attacks the rim, dunking ferociously over and over. On defense, he’s not quite as advanced. He may take it easy to avoid fouls, but he really should be more intimidating than he looked Friday. There’s already talk of him going straight to the NBA in two years. It’s scary how good he’s going to be as he gets older.

I didn’t follow the Democratic presidential candidate process much until about two weeks ago. Is there a more uncomfortable look than the look on the face of someone who’s a political giant, but in the first or second contest, is forced to drop out? Dick Gephardt had that look in Iowa. There’s nothing like spending a lifetime fighting for a particular set of values, then having a huge percentage of the voting population tell you they don’t care about that view. I’ve read about candidates who lose in the general feeling this overwhelming sense of loss and depression when the election is over. And these are people who got 40 million votes. Imagine just getting 8,000. Don’t you always go to the “We fought the good fight” card at that point?

I keep hearing this buzz that Rachel Ray is the new “it” girl on the Food Network. What are these people smoking? Giada De Laurentiis is clearly the best thing about the Food Network. In a simpler time, you’d hear a lot more about her from me. To the point where some of you would probably worry about me. In these more complicated times, I’m forced to refer to her as “the really skinny girl on the Food Network”. Check out Everyday Italian sometime and judge for yourself. I’m required to not say anything else, lest I get smacked. She doesn’t read, but she knows.