According to Weather.com, it's 31 degrees in Birmingham right now but it "feels like" 22. I've never understood that -- how do they determine how cold or hot it "feels" at any given moment? Do they just take an AP poll of 500 or so people who've been outside that day, ask them how cold they felt, and average their responses? Or has our nation's meteorological community developed a temperature-feeling robot that will measure the outside ambient temperature, run it through a complex algorithm based on actual human thought processes, and spit out a close approximation of what the average person will "feel" like when they venture out?
I don't know. But whatever, it's cold. Supposedly it got down to 26 degrees last night here in the B-hizzy, and in Northport, where I was staying with my aunt and uncle last night, the thermometer hit 23 at some point. And yeah, it snowed like a sonofabitch yesterday for most of the morning, but none of it stuck. I was up in Cullman knocking on doors for the Rev. James Fields in the special election for House District 12 most of the day Saturday, and for the first 30 minutes or so of the drive up to Cullman, it was snowing pretty hard; by the time we got there, it wasn't snowing in Cullman at all, but my sister called me at noon to say the ground was covered and the snow was still coming down. By the time I swung back through Birmingham to drop my friend Brian off about 3 p.m., though, almost all of it had melted. So basically I got all the cold but none of the fun; I didn't get to throw a single snowball all weekend.
But there are still some signs here in Birmingham of how cold it is:
This is the fountain at Five Points, right around the corner from my apartment. It looks like the turtle got the worst of it last night; it sort of looks like the bear (at left) was really drunk and got caught in mid-vomit.
A snow-dusted Durango on 20th Street South.
And here's Jenna, right next to the fountain, suited up for the cold weather. Supposedly Bostons don't do too well in extreme cold, but Jenna didn't seem to mind it. She was fully prepared to go on a long walk all the way to the park, but I wasn't real keen on that idea.
The weirdest thing that happened all weekend, though, came right as we were leaving Cullman on Saturday. The backstory is that a few years ago, my car's parking brake didn't catch properly when I parked it on an incline, and it rolled a couple hundred feet before slamming ass-end-first into a concrete retaining wall; the impact was hard enough to do about $5,500 worth of damage and actually pop the faceplate off my stereo. Oddly enough, the thing still worked fine, I just ended up with a detachable-faceplate factory stereo without having had to pay extra for one.
Anyway, as we were pulling out of a gas station Saturday afternoon, the faceplate was a little askew, so I tried to push it back into place -- and the plastic face just fell apart in my hand. I'm assuming it was because the car had been sitting in sub-30-degree weather for more than four hours, but the damn thing just crumbled like a Pringle that had been dipped in liquid nitrogen.
Here's what's left:
And here's the angry, faceless spot that's been left in my dashboard:
Looks kind of like the Terminator after his humanoid Arnold Schwarzenegger skin had been burned away and only the metal robot part was left. Only not as cool, obviously. It's actually pretty ghetto. And I'm thinking it's time to invest at least a little bit of money in a new receiver, since in the event that, god willing, I ever pick up a chick for a date in this car, I can't have her seeing something like this and thinking I'm too cheap to fix it.
So if any of y'all readers know anything about car stereos, I'd appreciate your advice in the comments on what brand/model of dash receiver I should get for my car. It's a 2000 VW Jetta, and the stereo that's in there now is the original, non-Monsoon cassette player (I got my Jetta before CD players had been made standard across the board). I'm probably going to sell this car and get a new one sometime in the next two to three years, so I don't plan on investing hundreds and hundreds of dollars in some complicated CD-changer/DVD-player/satellite-something-or-other system. Really, the main thing I'm going to be using this for is something to plug my iPod into (and occasionally listen to NPR or sports-talk radio on). All I need, then, is something with a tuner, a CD slot, and an auxiliary input jack, and that looks kind of cool once it's installed. If I can bring it in under $200 or so, even better.
So what's best -- Sony? Pioneer? Blaupunkt? JVC? Some Red Chinese knockoff with buttons like "fast advance" and "backwards winding"? And where would you advise me to get one -- Crutchfield, Best Buy, or the back of your cousin Anthony's truck in Bensonhurst? All reasonable answers will be appreciated, thanks.