Despite the fact of the cold weather continuing at least into last week, there are signs of spring. I have seen my first robin of the spring and the juncos (small, gray birds with white underbelly - very common) have been feeding on the ground below the bird feeder getting what the rabbits and the squirrels have ignored.
There have been other signs of spring. One that started early was the seed catalogs that have proliferated (multiplied) in my stacks of mail. Our tulips around the house are up at least four or five inches. Then over the weekend we finally brought up the large squash from the cold room in the basement. The squash was originally cut from the vine in late September. The squash weighed in at 13 pounds so we now have a freezer full of squash in containers ready for umpteen meals - should last us until the 2014 squash are ready in the garden. But just in case, I think there are still one or two more smaller squash still resting in the cold room.
The squash we just cut, cooked, and froze is commonly known as a sweet meat squash. It is more common in the upper west (Washington, Oregon) but grows over a broad range of the U.S.
The sweet meat squash has a number of varieties. It also is sometimes called a jarrahdale pumpkin. It has a pumpkin shape. Some say that it makes the best "pumpkin" pie.
One nice thing about it is that it is an heirloom plant rather than a hybrid so it is easily grown from the seeds it produces - no need to purchase the seeds every year. Every now and then I watch for seed packets in the stores that would produce the sweet meat squash and usually have not found them. A friend gave me some seeds years ago that gave me my start on growing these in my garden. If you run in to me here or there and would like some starter seeds, I might have some for you to get your start. A single vine might produce three or four of these squash each in the 10 pound or up range - probably as much as you might ever want.
If my garden were ready for planting tomorrow, I could also bring out of the cold room a number of small potatoes that have withered and could easily be used as seed potatoes. Hurry up and unfreeze ground!
Since January there have been a number of stories in the media about Northwestern University football players being organized to bargain in a union. A group has asked the National Labor Relations Board to allow the College Athletes Players Association to proceed with organizing the Northwestern football players for purposes of doing that bargaining for such things as increased academic support, improved health-care, etc.
There are approximately 70 players who have full scholarships and are currently participating in football. A regional director of the NLRB recently announced that the players are indeed "employees." A voting day for the players to determine if they want union representation is set for April 25.
As usual, there are liable to be multiple law suits as Northwestern does not agree with the current decision of calling players employees and there will be appeals with the possibility that the decision may get to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The issue is complicated. The NLRB essentially is involved because Northwestern is a private university. Most public universities would not be immediately affected by any ruling - they are controlled by state law.
Interestingly it seems that the name/phrase "student-athlete" came from a result back in the 1950s when the NCAA coined student-athlete and then maintained that as students, they were not employees.
I have always wondered about student-athlete. I would have thought that if they wanted to emphasize that they were in college for education as a main focus that they should be athletic-students.
I can't help but wonder what the United Steelworkers Union expects to gain by being one of the main supporters of unionizing the Northwestern football players. The players probably would belong to such a union for four or maybe five years, but then most will move on into other non-player careers with only a small fraction making it to the NFL. Those who make it to the NFL would likely change unions for the National Football League Players Association.
As of now, most thoughts on unionizing have been for Division I football, but basketball is sure to be a next possibility for unionizing. How far down the ladder would such unionization go? I would find it hard to believe that even all sports at Division I level would be unionized: swimming, gymnastics, golf? And I don't believe that any of the smaller colleges and universities will soon follow suit even if Division I schools do unionize.
There is also the question of what will the women's sports do.
Until next time: Oh, Fiddlesticks!