Better to be safe than sorry with snow forecast

Posted 1/31/19

Let's clean out the notebook ...• On Monday, James said I should get some photos at the apartment Tuesday morning, after the snow arrived. I heard rain in the night and finally went to sleep. I …

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Better to be safe than sorry with snow forecast


Let's clean out the notebook ...

• On Monday, James said I should get some photos at the apartment Tuesday morning, after the snow arrived. I heard rain in the night and finally went to sleep. I woke to sirens. Why would they need sirens to get through snow-bound streets?

I looked out the window. I texted to James. 

"Which of the three flakes here do you want a photo of?" I asked. 

Yes, we all had to have a little humor out of the busted snow day. Apparently, as I heard the explanation, the arctic air didn't come in fast enough behind the rain, and snow wound up melting before it hit the ground. The models had been consistent for days, but it fell apart at the end. 

WBRC meteorologist J-P Dice indicated on Facebook he was "taking a beating" over the lack of accumulation, noting the snowfall had been predicted for a week and that he tries to do the best he can, and that sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. I saw lots of ridicule of meteorologists on TV and the National Weather Service on Facebook, some of it which went a little over the top and would look hurtful.

You know, the way I look at it, it is forecasting, and it is not a perfect science. They do better than ever before, but, in the end, one has to say, "God is in control. He is sovereign and has the right to change His mind. We have no say in that. We can only do our best." And, in this case, we avoided a much worse situation, so we should all be grateful instead of complaining and whining. 

For that matter, I heard some complaints about interrupting "Judge Judy" and taking up all this time to report snowfall. All the coverage was tiresome for me (not to mention working through the weekend to get stories ready, as we had early deadlines), but I would rather we all be on the same page, make our plans and be cautious enough to avoid slick spots, especially in the rural areas where you have more shade, curves and opportunities to wreck. I don't regret any of it, and I'm glad we came out alright. I'd rather be safe than sorry. 

And, by the way, we do appreciate our readers for enduring the early deadlines and deliveries, as we tried to protect our carriers. Once things went bust, it was too late to recall everyone on Wednesday to normal schedules, so we also got done early that day. 

• The Carbon Hill City Council only met for about eight minutes Monday night; Mayor Mark Chambers was (and is) still slowly recuperating from surgery. District 4 Councilman Chandler Gann ran late and missed the action by the time he got there. The council voted to send Police Chief Eric House to the Winter Police Conference in Montgomery on Feb. 18-21. The total cost will be $727.65, paid for from the General Fund, and includes $427.65 for the hotel, $200 for the conference and $100 for dues to be paid. The council also agreed to begin accepting applications for pool director and lifeguards through March 12, with plans to hire shortly afterward. The council will next meet on Monday, Feb. 11, as the council is now meeting on the second and fourth Monday of the month. 

• I want to congratulate Vicki Drummond on her election as the secretary of the Republican National Committee. This is a major, major honor, being in the top four of the national party leadership. She will be the one to call out the states and record the votes of delegates when the presidential nomination is voted for at the 2020 convention. I've always worked well with Vicki and feel she will be a great asset to the top leadership. 

This means that we will have another Alabamian to be a major player being seen and heard at one of these conventions, aired across the nation. It always brings me to the first broadcast star from these conventions, who turned out to be the governor of Alabama - and he wasn't running for president. In fact, another Alabamian was.

You can read the whole story from Amazon by purchasing the 1976 book or downloading on Kindle "The 103rd Ballot: The Incredible Story of the Disastrous Democratic Convention of 1924" by Robert K. Murray. U.S. Sen. Oscar W. Underwood was Alabama's favorite son, and considered a major contender for the nomination.  

Gov. William W. Brandon, a Talladega native who took office in 1923, was pushing behind the scenes for Underwood and chaired the Alabama delegation to the 1924 convention at the old Madison Square Garden. It also happened to be the first convention on radio, and the longest balloting on record at 103 ballots. 

And, we all know, our Southern accents were more pronounced in those pre-television days. That was about to be demonstrated.

When the clerk calls the roll, Alabama, you recall, is first alphabetically. On the first roll call, Brandon called out, "Al-a-bam-ah-h-h casts twen-ty fo-ah votes for Os-cah Double-yuh U-n-n-der-wood!" 

And he kept saying it - for weeks. On all but the last ballot, for 102 times, Brandon would say that exact phrase, in the exact same way. And the whole nation, new and eager to hear anything on the new toy called radio, listened to it all. 

Murray said it would become "the best-known and most-repeated phrase in the country." It was so reliable to start the balloting - and so represented the deadlock of the convention - that everyone in the hall would say it in unison in a sing-song way. 

In the end, everyone found a compromise candidate, John W. Davis, who failed miserably against Republican Calvin Coolidge in the wake of all the divisions. However, radio helped others enormously; Franklin D. Roosevelt's speech there helped raise his stature. Murray wrote, "Governor Brandon's voice made him so famous that a New York radio company offered him $10,000 to leave politics and become an announcer. He refused although the offer was $2,500 more than the state of Alabama paid its chief executive." 

We can be glad. According to Wikipedia, Brandon helped fund improvements at Mobile's docks, strengthened child labor laws and created the Alabama Forestry Commission. He left after one term and returned to his old position of Tuscaloosa probate judge. He died in Tuscaloosa in 1934 and is buried at Tuscaloosa Memorial Park. 

• A friend of mine from South Alabama, who is an educator, came up this week for a two-day conference at Camp McDowell (although the Tuesday session was cancelled due to the weather). He was very complimentary of the camp. But he also was amazed about Jasper, where he stayed overnight near the interstate. "Jasper is bigger than I thought it would be," he said, asking what the population was and what industry contributed to it. So first impressions were obviously very good. 

• Those of you who love movies will be interested to see that TCM is about to start its month-long slate of Oscar-winning and Oscar-nominated movies Monday (and going to March 3); the full schedule is at 

• As for what I'm watching, I have to admit a guilty pleasure. I finally broke down and got Amazon Prime, and started watching more the video fare. While Netflix does a better job, Amazon has had a few things of interest, such as selections from Merv Griffin's talk show and a wonderful 2017 documentary on Rose Marie, "Wait For Your Life," where you learn a lot of things you never knew about the singer and actress (including her childhood fame and her unsolicited support from the mob, starting with Al Capone). 

But I also found CBS' 1960s show "Family Affair" listed on Amazon. I recalled the theme song, Mrs. Beasley and the actors, but as a small child I thought it was dull. I watched the first few episodes from Season 1 in recent days, and I was absolutely enchanted. The kids were better than usual, and Brian Keith and especially Sebastian Cabot, as Mr. French, were great. And I had forgotten how addictive the theme song was. (I was shocked to find out on YouTube that Lawrence Welk recorded the full song, and not badly.) 

I have also rediscovered the long-running "Red Green Show" from Canada on YouTube. It was a half-hour collection of recurring sketches, remindful of "Home Improvement" to some extent, with some great physical comedy. Cannot recommend this enough if you want to laugh.