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My Week in a Nutshell

Posted by kevinwolz on August 29, 2010

One week down. Fifteen to go. The apartment move-in went really well, and I’m finally starting to get back into a rhythm. Highlights of the first week include getting settled into the apartment, scoping out this semester’s classes, lots of extracurricular stuff, and meeting a ton of new freshmen in my clubs.

In a small apartment with three other guys, space is a hot commodity. Luckily, my dad and I planned ahead and brought down a pile of lumber and some power tools. I’m really glad with the way the project turned out, and have been perfectly comfortable with it all week. Thanks Dad! Some may call it lofting a bed, but I call it vertical function stacking:

Determining the actual height for the bed was the hardest part: it was a careful optimization between workplace comfort and nocturnal claustrophobia.

Classes this semester seem great, for the most part. My biology, creativity, and ecological engineering classes are AWESOME. Now that “syllabus week” is over, I can’t wait to get into the good stuff. Cross country is also well under way, with our first meet this Friday. After accomplished my 700-mile summer goal, I feel pretty fit, but this heat is really killing me. Believe it or not, I think one of the biggest climate differences between C-U and home is the day-night temperature swings. Without the thermal mass of Lake Michigan to moderate temperature fluctuations, we can have over 25 degree temperature swings once the sun comes up, often rising at 10 degrees per hour!

(Guerrilla?) Urban Foraging

After running around campus for a year now, I have become very familiar with our tree population. This familiarity made it quite surprising when I was biking to class early last week when a squirrel ran out in front of me. I naturally slowed…only to find the squirrel holding some massive chunk of food in its mouth: a big bunch of hazelnuts!! Then, of course, I slammed on the breaks and proceeded to interrogate the squirrel as to where he got those nuts. After several interesting hand signals, I eventually turned around and noticed five 20-25 foot hazelnut trees towering over me…COVERED with RIPE nuts!

This great discovery has led me into my first foray of urban foraging. This morning, I finally found time to harvest a bunch of the nuts. I setup my pimped out bike, strapped down an extra shower curtain rod (take that functional fixedness!), and head to the trees with Katie. We went out early to keep this semi-discrete, for reasons you will soon see. Urban foragers everywhere often battle against pointless laws that promote waste and prevent them from collecting an otherwise unused resource.

Ready for action.

In the original sense of the metaphor, we attacked the low hanging fruit first. Then, out came the curtain rod (kind of like hitting a small piñata), and finally, I was up in the tree to “shake the snot” out of the branches. I was really impressed with our success…and we didn’t even get half of them. One of the smaller trees still isn’t ripe, so I will go out again next weekend to finish it off. I’ve not sure if I’ve even ever had hazelnut anything, but I can’t wait to try!

I'll leave them out on the balcony until they finish up their last bit of photosynthesis and dry out before removing the actual nuts from the involucre (husk).

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4 Responses to “My Week in a Nutshell”

  1. Ellen said

    Hope you left some for the squirrels, too, Kevin. 🙂

    • kwolz said

      They have plenty of acorns…which are much less palatable for me. But either way, UofI has a ridiculously high population of squirrels (which have attacked me on runs…I’m just sayin…

  2. Karen Wolz said

    We are so proud of you and all that you accomplished this summer! You learned…we learned more from YOU! We hope to effectively harvest the garden in your absence!
    Mom & Dad

  3. Joan said

    Hi Kevin,
    “Vertical Function Stacking”….I think you coined a new expression but since I actually saw this wonder first hand, I
    think it’s a good description. It’s really very neat.

    I love your story of foraging for the hazelnuts. I’ve never
    tasted them…hope you like them!

    Just got back tonight from our six-day road trip up and down and across Illinois. Had a good time. Enjoyed our visit with you on Sunday. GB

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