Sunday, January 20

You think you're cold? Feel these nipples!

According to, 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.


Anonymous said...

It was -5 degrees, actual temp, over the weekend here. Wind chill in the -30s.
So, I sooo don't feel you.

Anonymous said...

I would check out to do preliminary research. I'm pretty much addicted to the site. It's got great reviews for tons of items. One thing I would definitely recommend is making sure that whatever reciever you get, make sure it's got an aux out for your ipod. might even help resell value of the car.

Anonymous said...

Winter in the South is cold enough to be miserable, but without snow. Fortunately,we really only have a couple of weeks of actual misery as opposed to several months in the north. Btw, windchill is a way of measuring what a temperature would feel like on bare skin. Moving air sucks more heat away that non-moving air. If there is no wind, the "feel" temp is the same as the actual temp. Moisture in the air is another factor, but it's mainly wind.

I am confused about the stereo bidness - you are clearly wanting something to tide you over until you get another car, so who cares what is best? Go to Best Buy or Circuit City and get the special of the week that meets your needs and be done with it. There's not more than a nickel's worth of difference among them all anyway. This isn't worth spending time on, iyam.

Unknown said...

"feels like": I assume it goes something like this. We experience temperature based on how fast heat is absorbed by our surroundings. So 70 degree water feels much cooler than 70 degree air because it absorbs heat much more quickly through our skin.

Likewise, moving air absorbs heat more quickly than still air, and humidity figures into it somehow. So presumably there's some complex formula or table that you can look up to find the "feels like" based on relative humidity, wind speed, air temperature, etc.

Anonymous said...

they make iPod ready receivers now for under $200. Here is an example ( ). You can get it cheaper somewhere else besides Best Buy though. Other brands may be better or just as good too. Just an example of what is out there. Use CNET to research beside brand and model to get. Crutchfield best bet for good price and quality customer service if you have a problem.

blackertai said...

Alpine from Crutchfield.

Anonymous said...


Seriously, everybody understands that wind & humidity make you feel colder than still, dry air. Doug's point is that it's retarded to try to call it a temperature that it "feels like" instead of just saying it's effing cold out there.

And are those Braves tickets in your car? Maybe if you've cleaned your car out since like May, the girl will be impressed with your new stereo, without wondering how many six-month old tater tots are laying under her seat.

By the way, your dog's damn cute.

Universal Remonster said...

Well, suffice to say I can tell that the college football season is over.

As far as the stereo goes, just use duct tape. It's manly.

jOoLz said...

crutchfield has a tool where you select your car's make, model and year and it will generate a list of all their compatible receivers.

i got a wicked cool sony with all the features you want for considerably less than $200, and they included all the necessary mounting hardware for the job for free. also, look around the internets for a coupon for free shipping. i always do when i shop online.

good luck with the search!

shelly said...

You think 31 is cold? Puh-leeeeze. I live in Maine; as I type this, it's -12.

As for everything else? I got nothin'.

duff said...

According to some Google results, humidity really doesn't come into play. Instead, they have some tables that were created by some really complicated formulas that were created by some guys with way too much time on their hands that associate a temperature and a wind speed with a wind chill factor.

All the news folks have to do is look in the table for the predicted temperature and predicted wind speeds, and tada, there's your "feels like".

Also, it's not retarded to say "feels like" - most people probably won't understand "33 degrees with 30mph winds" to mean "freaking cold". But if you instead tell them "33 degrees but it will feel like 10 degrees" they will know that they better bundle up a bit more than they would have otherwise.

re stereos: I third Crutchfield as an excellent resource.

Cal said...

Sir Mix-A-Lot recommends Alpine, particularly if an 808 Kick Drum is involved. The 808, as you may know, makes the girlies get dumb, or so says the J.R. Ewing of Seattle.

Sean said...

Alpine is definitely the way to go. I worked for a (now closed) stereo shop in the metro Atlanta area for about 7 years and have owned at least half a dozen different brands of headunits. The Alpine units were by far and away the best of the bunch. The basic Alpine receiver (CDE-9872 or CDE-9870) starts at around $150 and if you'd like you can add a $30 cable to add full iPod functionality.

Anonymous said...

Crutchfield is definately the place to look for a reciever, they have a cool feature that finds all the compatible products for your car and also have installation gides and such.

This is actually an interesting product if you are interested in docking your ipod to an aftermarket reciever. A buddy of mine work at this small shop here in Atlanta that invented this product and it is now available online. Just food for thought, but they were made by VW people specifically to dock your ipod, providing power and a great sounding connection much better than the crummy tape adapter or FM adapter. I am not a spammer, though I prolly sound like one. I am getting mine installed this weekend. Good luck with yours , I have been dealing with trying to get new speakers installed in my 4-runner and despite the fact I am a pretty tech savvy guy, car audio is not my thing.

FYI: if you are interested, call em up and make sure you don't have to too much installation. But from what I hear, It is a pretty simple process. Especially if you have a later model V-Dub.

Anonymous said...

I have a 1999VW Passatt Wagon. I had to have the car stereo, with cassette deck just like yours, replaced when my 4 year stuffed random change he found in my car, into the tape player. I wasn't worried and I wasn't going to do anything about it until other parts of my car started shorting out. The Germans have a nasty sense of humor and it turns out other electrical items run thru the stereo setup. This does require a factory radio replacement. ($300. BTW the coins totaled 17 cents. Ouch) You could just check a junkyard and get a replacment head pretty cheaply. Mine was a Monsoon Unit FWIW.

Check before you short anything out. And remove all change from your car if small children are present.