First Monday: Coming up this month

Feb. 6: Automakers unveil a bevy of trucks, sleek coupes and updated sedans at the media preview of the Chicago Auto Show. Models on tap include a Suzuki truck and GM's Hummer H3T. The show is open to the public Feb. 8-17.

Feb. 7: Major retailers report January sales — and how much of a lift they got from holiday gift cards.

Feb. 13: The Census Bureau releases its report on January retail sales, a broader gauge of consumer spending patterns.

Feb. 17-20: What will be next Christmas season's hottest toys? Toy manufacturers, distributors and importers showcase their latest products for retailers at the American International Toy Fair in New York.

Feb. 25: Existing-home sales for January will be announced by the National Association of Realtors.

Feb. 28: Congress' investigation of the subprime-mortgage meltdown opens a new line of inquiry into CEO salaries in the financial-services industry. Called to testify before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform: former Citigroup CEO Charles Prince, former Merrill Lynch CEO Stanley O'Neal and Countrywide Financial CEO Angelo Mozilo.

WATCH, LISTEN & READ

ON TV:

Dirty Jobs— Collection 2 DVD ($19.99). Feb. 5; New episodes airing on the Discovery Channel on Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT

Mike Rowe, the affable and eloquent host of The Discovery Channel's Dirty Jobs, spent last week lying on his back amid rat droppings and mud in the tiny crawl space of a house riddled with mold. All in a day's work for the man whose show features him performing dirty jobs — such as sewer inspector, road kill remover and fish processor — alongside the often unacknowledged people who do it every day.

Rowe's show aired more than 800 times on Discovery Channel last year. His expressive, rubbery face graces the cover of this month's Fast Company magazine, which hails him as the "Dirtiest Mind in Business." The show's second season arrives Tuesday on DVD. And, as viewers can attest, Rowe is always quick with a quip or sound bite.

Rowe on the DVD:The episode that sticks out: "Snake Researcher," Rowe says. "This woman basically collects the vomit from endangered snakes and analyzes it to make sure they're eating the right thing at the right time of year.

"Filthy work. I got bit about 39 times that day, and viewers just seem to love it when things bite me, so that was a good one."

Rowe on the show: "I feel like dirty jobs are not disappearing — they've just disappeared from public view. The prototype of a 'good job' has undergone quite a change in this country, especially in the last generation. And without making it sound too conspiratorial, I just think the combination of technology and Silicon Valley and Hollywood has shown people over and over what a good job should look like, and it just doesn't look anymore the way it used to.

"There's just not a lot of focus on anything other than well-paid positions where people wear nice clothes and are very efficient and are plugged in technically and have the world figured out. The country is still held together, in my view anyway, by regular people who do the kinds of jobs that keep our society humming along," he says.

"I find people with dirty jobs seem more balanced and, in general, happier than people without."

BOOKS:

•Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions By Dan Ariely (HarperCollins, $25.95, Feb. 19)

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