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Nick’s Picks | Warms Thoughts With Kansas City in Deep Freezer

Presidents Day, Spring Training, Mardi Gras on Week's Agenda

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Above image credit: "Kansas City Week in Review" host Nick Haines. (John McGrath | Flatland)

This edition of Nick’s Picks is brought to you by the letters C, O, L and D. 

Yep, it’s cold. And bundle up, this bone-chilling cold snap is not over yet. How about -12 degrees when you wake up Tuesday morning?

These are some of the coldest temperatures Kansas City has ever recorded. 

And we’re not getting above freezing until the weekend.  

It looks like Sunday is shaping up to be a relatively tropical 40 degrees.

One way to stay warm apparently is to think warm thoughts. A study in the journal Emotion finds that thinking of hot days or even events in your life that evoke warm and fuzzy feelings really does increase your tolerance for intense cold.

I’ve been working on it. I’ve been rewatching old YouTube clips of Bryan Busby and Gary Lezak reporting 100 degree heat warnings. I’m not kidding, I’m going to add them to this week’s show to remind our viewers of times when we could still feel our feet and fingers. I’ve also been thinking of my skin sizzling when I get in my car seat on a really hot Kansas City summer day. And then there’s that time as a kid when I got such a bad sunburn on my back I couldn’t even feel it when someone put a frozen water bottle on it.

What makes you feel warm?

Royals Return

One way you may feel warmer is by thinking about baseball.

The Royals begin spring training on Wednesday in Surprise, Arizona. It’s going to be in the 70s there by the end of the week. 

With COVID restrictions in place, no fans are allowed to watch the workouts.

But the Royals are ditching the cardboard cutouts for the regular season and allowing fans back in the stands, though they haven’t finalized how many will be allowed inside Kauffman Stadium. The Royals home opener is April 1 against the Rangers. 

Two cardboard cutouts of fans resting in Kauffman Stadium's bleachers, ready for the home opener.
Kauffman Stadium won’t need cardboard cutouts of fans this season. (Courtesy | Kansas City Royals Twitter)

Presidents Day

Don’t forget that today is Presidents Day. That means if you were planning to head to the post office today, or to your bank or to get your driver’s license renewed you will be greeted with shuttered doors. Most public institutions and many local businesses are closed today. And in many cities, trash collection will also be delayed until tomorrow.

In honor of Presidents Day, I have some presidential trivia for you.

QUESTION #1: Which president was a professional male model who appeared on the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine?

QUESTION #2: Who is the only president to lose reelection and later reclaim the White House?

Put your thinking cap on. The answers are at the bottom.

Mardi Gras

Grab your beads and masks, it’s time to celebrate.

Mardi Gras is Tuesday. I hope it’s an old listing, but on the VisitKC events site they are touting a big party in the Power & Light District in which you can count on “street performers, contests, libations and plenty more.”

I was looking up what Mardi Gras actually means. Apparently, Mardi means Tuesday in French, and gras means fat, which is why the day is also known as Fat Tuesday. 

Traditionally, people would take this day to binge on rich foods and alcohol, before giving them up for the 40 days of Lent that starts the next day, which many Christians refer to as Ash Wednesday.

Improving Numbers

The temperatures are not the only thing sinking this week. So are the COVID numbers. At the tail end of last week, the Kansas City area was reporting the lowest number of daily COVID cases since July. 

Hospitalizations are way down too. On Friday, the University of Kansas Health System reported 25 patients were being treated for the virus. To put that in context, back in November KU was admitting more than 100 COVID patients in a single day.

Now most of the attention is on the vaccine rollout. And while we’ve heard from many viewers who have complained the process is infuriating, officials in Kansas and Missouri say they’ll have a lot more vaccine to go around this week. Kansas is getting 90,000 doses from the federal government. That’s almost twice as much as the state had been receiving. 

By the way, just because you’re eligible for the vaccine doesn’t mean everyone wants it. In Kansas, prison workers are among the first groups eligible to receive the shot. But a remarkable story in the Topeka Capital Journal finds that 70% of corrections workers in Shawnee County have rejected the COVID vaccine.

After the Trial

Over the weekend, all four Kansas City area senators voted to acquit Donald Trump in a second impeachment trial. Now attention turns on Capitol Hill to a third COVID relief plan. When might you see some of that money?

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the chamber will meet this week to take the first step toward proceeding with a Democrat-only COVID relief bill that would include $1,400 checks for most Americans. But there’s still a lot of hoops to go through and it’s likely you won’t see that money until the week of March 8.

Also on Capitol Hill this week, executives at the center of the GameStop trading saga will testify before Congress. 

Leaders of Reddit, Robinhood and several major hedge fund companies will appear before the House Financial Services Committee on Thursday.

Transgender Bills

Last week, Kansas lawmakers killed a bill that would have blocked medical treatment to transgender youth. Now two new bills have been introduced in Kansas and Missouri aimed at keeping transgender students out of girls and women sports. Lawmakers in both states claim allowing participation by transgender students “will destroy women’s athletics.”

Kansas and Missouri are among eight states that are considering such bans. The measures were filed after President Joe Biden issued an executive order prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity.

Recycling Regression

There’s been plenty of reports about how a global COVID lockdown has helped the environment. For example, there are fewer vehicles on the road and a massive drop in airline travel. But are we about to regress in recycling? 

Even though we are getting a lot more boxes delivered to our homes than ever before, the metro’s largest trash service wants to drop weekly recycling pick-up. Executives with Waste Management are asking city leaders on both sides of the state line to ease contracts to permit pick-up every other week. 

The company says it may have to quit offering the service in some cities if things don’t change.

It’s becoming a nationwide issue as trash haulers contend with higher processing costs for recycled products.

‘6 Streets’

Last September, Kansas City allowed artists to take over six of the city’s streets to create murals honoring the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Not everyone was happy with the art project. One of the murals was immediately damaged in the Northland.

What happened to the others?  And what impact did they have on the city?

This Thursday  at 7 p.m. on Kansas City PBS we take a closer look at the project in a new documentary that chronicles how the murals came to life and how they shaped those who worked on them.

“6 Streets” premieres Thursday at 7 p.m. on Kansas City PBS.

“6 Streets” premieres Thursday at 7 p.m. on Kansas City PBS.
“6 Streets” premieres Thursday at 7 p.m. on Kansas City PBS.

Love During Lockdown

Has this pandemic spoiled your wedding plans? 

Many brides-to-be are feeling blue right now, including my eldest daughter Lauren. 

But help is at hand from an unlikely place, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas.

Just as we wrap up Valentine’s Day, he is offering you the chance to win his services as a wedding officiant on your big day.

Would it be appealing to you to be married by Mayor Q?

The person who shares the best love story wins. 

Is that you? 

Email him at MayorQ@kcmo.org

Presidential Trivia Answers

Gerald Ford is the former professional male model who appeared on the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine in 1942.

The only American president to lose reelection and later win back the White House is Grover Cleveland.

Nick Haines dissects the week’s most impactful local news stories, Fridays at 7:30 p.m. on Kansas City PBS.

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