Weekly Wanderings: In Like a Lion Edition

• I’m spending the first few days of March visiting my family in Philadelphia, which means I got to experience a wild winter storm on Friday. Forecasts predicted high winds and lots of rain, with a bit of snow at the tail end. Instead, heavy, wet flakes began coming down around 11am and continued until 9:00 at night, often falling sideways due to the incessant wind gusts. Roads throughout Philadelphia were blocked by trees felled by the wind, more than 300,000 people (including my brother) lost power, and my mother and I listened to a discordant symphony of emergency-vehicle sirens and car horns that lasted all afternoon and into the evening, as drivers sat in gridlock on the street outside my parents’ house. My father drove up to Philadelphia from Washington, D.C., a trip of under 150 miles; it took him a record-breaking 13 hours (long story). March weather on the East Coast is always crazy and unpredictable, but this storm felt completely surreal … especially since nearly all evidence of the snowfall then melted within 24 hours, with temperatures rising into the 40s yesterday. As the saying goes, March “comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb,” and this year the lion decided to surprise everyone with an extra-loud roar.

• My mother and I spent yesterday afternoon at the Philadelphia Flower Show, where this year’s theme is “The Wonders of Water.” I think my favorite Flower Show of all time was 2015’s (“Celebrate the Movies”), and in the years since I’ve (very unfairly, I know) compared every show to that one and consistently found them somehow lacking (though, needless to say, the scenes created far surpass anything I could ever hope to do). That happened again this time. I always think the best Flower Show displays are the ones that interpret the theme in creative ways, but this year most designers took the theme literally and demonstrated “The Wonders of Water” by simply … including water features in their landscapes. Many of them were very pretty, of course—in my book there’s no such thing as an ugly flower—even if they weren’t as surprising or clever as some past exhibits. On the whole I’d say the show is greater than the sum of its parts, as very few of the individual displays really stood out to me but the exhibition overall was impressive.

• There are now links up for all China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know book events taking place in March. Jeff Wasserstrom and I will speak in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Boston, and New York—and in three of those four cities we’re doing two events, so if you can’t make one you’ll still have a second chance to catch us.

• If you’re a graduate student or PhD and considering careers outside the tenure track, you might be interested in the fifth annual online Beyond the Professoriate conference, which will take place May 5 and 12. I’ll speak as part of a May 12 panel about nonprofit careers for PhDs. Registration is now open, and there are discounted early-bird ticket prices available until April 14.

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