For y'all wondering why a prediction of five inches of snow would send Birmingham into a (gleeful) panic, here's a few things that I don't think that Northerners, Westerners, or non-Americans are aware of: for one, winters in the South can hold steady at 40 or 50 degrees Fahrenheit, with a few dips down to the 30s or below, or perhaps none at all. We've been having a pattern this winter of an extremely cold week (19-20 degrees) followed by a week in the 60s and 70s, then a couple of days of rain and thunder. Then the cycle starts back up again. One year I got a faint dusting of snow on my birthday, and that was big news. Schools have actually been closed for a 60% chance of flurries. New anchors still refer to WINTER STORM '93 in ominous tones. If we have snowplows and de-icers, I sure as hell haven't ever seen them, although my mother reports that trucks full of sand are stationed in the streets around UAB Hospital--because people will need to get in no matter what.
We don't know how to drive on ice or snow because we don't get any. Well, sometimes we get a little ice, but life pretty much shuts down because we don't know how to drive on it. The 5:00 news actually had a helpful checklist of driving tips this afternoon ("Drive slowly"). Furthermore, Birmingham is wonderfully hilly--I don't want to say "mountainous," precisely, but we do have the Red Mountain Expressway. We have tons of bridges and valleys and twists and curves. And a city full of people who don't know how to drive on ice. Plus, we're a very treesome area; even downtown has trees along the streets (it's very attractive). So you have all these ancient trees piled up with snow. And then dead branches break off. And they fall on your roof and your car and your power lines. And then you have exposed power lines lying around in the street. Actually, in the old neighborhood where I grew up, you'd see entire trees fall over during a big snow (say, six inches). I remember when our street was closed off because a giant tree was lying across the road. Another tree actually fell over so completely that its roots were completely aboveground, like giant woody tentacles. And this was a very middle-class, close-to-[suburban]-downtown, American Beauty-type neighborhood. We're not talking farms here.
I think we'll be totally fine. Mom did the weekly grocery shopping this morning before she went to work, just to be safe. Sister Girl opens Panera tomorrow at crack-thirty, but we're hoping they'll close the store. I don't think we've actually had significant snow at this house (we moved here in 2001), so I don't know if the power lines are more reliable here; it's equally woodsy, though. We've never had trouble with pipes, though, so we have all the hot baths we want, and a gas-log fire. No gas range--my mother's been wanting one, like we had at the old house (she had it put in because--wait for it--branches were always taking down the power lines), but other than that, we've got batteries and candles and lighters and lanterns and what-have-you. My internet connection is finicky, though, so I don't know that I'll have that, even if we have power. We'll see. I'm curious to see how it shakes out, but I'm not terribly concerned. It's usually more inconvenient
The Smart Bitches and their readers match Nora Roberts' $5000 pledge to help the black-footed ferrets.
Chess genius Bobby Fischer dies in Iceland.
Fleeing to Mexico thwarts death penalty. "The reason: Mexico refuses to send anyone back to the United States unless the U.S. gives assurances it won't seek the death penalty — a 30-year-old policy that rankles some American prosecutors and enrages victims' families."
Creationist museum to auction mastodon skull.
Sex, class and exposing the heart of Jane Austen.
Stephen Fry breaks arm.
Snakes on a plane: Ton of reptiles seized.
25,000 names submitted for polar bear.
Go Fug Yourself has a book!
You walks like this all the time?
Gawker: What The Hell Are 4chan, ED, Something Awful, And "b"?
WGA strike: Any end in sight?
A new picture at 1-18-08.com: the aftermath of the Slusho Chuai station whatever thing that happens in the online pre-story. Dead monsters? Dead victims of monster(s)? Is that a big bite taken out of... whatever it is? Meanwhile, I have a few spoilery Cloverfield links, but I'll save those for a couple of days at least. The rest of them: Review: Cloverfield - Everything I Have Ever Wanted From a Monster Movie; Review: 'Cloverfield' something to see; Nevermind the Monster -- Cloverfield Is All About 9/11 ("And then, just as you start to contemplate those other blasted buildings, those other terrified people trapped inside them, the monster arrives and suddenly everything is fun, B-movie goodness. It takes smart writing and directing to make a movie like this, that pushes raw historical tragedy right into our eyeballs and then deftly distracts us with old-fashioned entertainment. Sure, you can go see Cloverfield for the stomping and roaring, and you won't be disappointed. But when the movie's images of a destroyed New York fallen into chaos haunt you for days afterward, you'll start to realize that Reeves and his twangy-ass monster have given the U.S. its first great movie about 9/11"); 'Cloverfield': The Critics Are Split (New York critics in particular seem to be angry about the 9/11 imagery); io9 Talks To Cloverfield Director Matt Reeves; Defamer Hits The 'Cloverfield' Premiere; Stay After The Credits For More J.J. Abrams Mysterification; 'Cloverfield' is Out! It's Time to Talk Sequels, or rather, the same movie from a traditional perspective--or even another running-and-screaming perspective; Cloverfield Fans Weren't Fooled by codenames.
'Star Trek' Teaser Trailer, in Glorious Cell Phone-Quality.
So What Happened To Mad-Eye Moody In ‘Harry Potter [and the Deathly Hallows]’? Brendan Gleeson Raises An Eyebrow
Zack Snyder Discusses 'Watchmen' Storyboards.
'Defiance' Trailer, Starring James Bond.
Inkheart Gets Delayed.
Linney, Banderas and Garai Board 'Other Man.'
Possible XF2 spoiler noticed in new stills?
'Married Life' Pic Released, Revealing a 40s-Style Rachel McAdams.
'Shrooms' Trailer is Totally Trippy, Man.
Paglia Gave 'Teeth' Its Fangs; Movie Critics Take A Bite Out Of 'Teeth.'
First Look at Tarantino's 'Hell Ride' Poster.
Efron Meeting Welles, Overjoys Adolescent 'Citizen Kane' Fanbase. Am I the only one who thinks that Efron looks like a melted Ken doll?