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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Great Backyard Bird Count

Okay, so I don't have a good closeup of this bluejay or any other bird for that matter, but now is our chance to assist ornithologists (bird scientists) in finding out where the birds are!

All you need is at least 15 minutes and a backyard!

For just four days (Friday, Feb. 15 thru Monday, Feb. 18), bird watchers of all ages can participate in The Great Backyard Bird Count. You simply identify and count the birds in your backyard for at least 15 minutes (or all day if you prefer)! 

Last year, more than 104,000 checklists were submitted that recorded more than 17 million observations identifying 623 species. No surprise that the cardinal got the award for most observations!

The Bird Count gives scientists input over wide areas about bird migration, diversity and even how weather affects bird populations.  

You'll need to register at the GBBC website and submit your data there. 

This big birdwatching/counting event is sponsored by Wild Birds Unlimited, Cornell Information Technologies, Natural Resources Conservation Service and the National Science Foundation.  

Linking to Rurality  


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

What's Hot and What's Not, or Dare to Defend Our Town

It's "D" Week over at ABC Wednesday,
 and I'll just be DARNED that I've got to DEFEND my town!

DO you live in a hot spot?

And if you DO, what makes it hot?

I learned from the other day that one of my sons lives in one of the hottest spots in the state, while I, on the other hand, DO not.  In fact, my town is DESIGNATED as one of the least hottest spots, and it’s not talking about climate.

It’s all about quality of life, but hey, my town got lumped in with the likes of Mountain Brook, which is DEEMED the hottest spot in the state.

The writer compared cities with populations over 20,000 (a population we barely top), and more than half the places cited as “hottest” are all suburbs of Birmingham, which by the way, is not so hot!  The rest are suburbs of large metro areas like Huntsville and Mobile…except for Auburn, home of Auburn University, which in my opinion is a category apart. So, War Eagle!

I won’t bore you with the stats, but they were retrieved from places like the Census Bureau, FBI and DEPARTMENT of Public Health. They measure things such as unemployment, health, crime, taxes, education, access to arts and cultural events, restaurants, DISTANCE from work, access to DOG parks…

Access to DOG parks?

Seriously?  DOG parks made the quality of life survey?

DO these so-called hot spots not have tree-lined sidewalks DRAPED with Spanish Moss or big picket-fenced yards or winding riverfront parks where both people and DOGS are welcome to walk? 

Well, Selma has all that!

Now obviously, I cannot DEFEND some of my town’s not-so-hot DESIGNATIONS, bless its heart!  But, I can surely DARE to DEFEND the categories with biased Yuppie (Young Upwardly Mobile Professionals) influence, and I consider the inclusion of DOG parks to be biased.

Any such survey has got to consider that Selma is in the middle of the rural Black Belt prairie, an hour  from metropolitan Montgomery and the interstate, and our DEFINITION of quality and culture is a whole DIFFERENT software program.

To start with, we live a RUPPIE rather than a YUPPIE lifestyle. 

I wrote about RUPPIES (Rural Under-appreciated People) a long time ago when I worked DOWNTOWN,  and for a city to make the RUPPIE Top 10 Hot Spots, the survey would have to include the following:

  •  Access to farm-raised catfish grown in America. (Again, Selma ranks No. 1 since we live in the No. 2 county for catfish production in Alabama.) Don’t tell me tilapia, swai, pangasius or any other foreign import is a better, cheaper or healthier fish. Just google all the health hazards!

  •  Access to meat-and-three restaurants. If you have ever eaten at The DOWNTOWNER, Steak Pit or Golden Ranch, Selma wins again. 

  • Access to fishing. Just go to the sandbar across the river or head to the marina, launch your  boat or enter a fishing tournament.

  • Commute time to work. About five minutes, unless you live in the suburb of Orrville or Plantersville, in which case the 15- to 20-mile trip will take about 10 minutes.  

  • Stress levels on the main highway. Our main highway is U.S. 80. It is four-lane. It is mostly straight and doesn’t have too many hills. It has a reasonable speed limit. We don’t have to drive 85 mph to keep from getting run over. Try driving 60 on the interstates near those “hottest” cities, especially during rush hour, or hey, just head on over to Highway 280 and see how you like it!

  • Local utility fees to pay the urban bankruptcy bill. If you live anywhere around six of the top 10 hot spots, then your water and sewer bill just might be as much or more than your power bill each month! How towns in a county (yes, that would be Jefferson) that is bankrupt ever made the top 10 is incredible!

  • Walkability. Try walking “downtown” Vestavia Hills or even Alabaster. Then come to Selma and walk our downtown. Here, City Hall, the library, convention center, courthouse, restaurants, museums, ice cream shop, coffee shop, newspaper office, lawyers’ offices, drugstores, riverwalk, Pettus Bridge, churches and jewelry stores are all within walking distance of each other. 

  • Patriotism. Few towns are as patriotic as Selma. This place ranks among the hottest as far as support for our country, and we cried enough tears to fill the Alabama River when the government came and took Craig Air Force Base away. 

  • Housing affordability. I am well aware of the exhorbitant rental rates in some of the “hottest” cities, but here, rents are reasonable, and I guarantee you can buy a lot more house that is a lot better built for a lot lower price.

I could go on and on, but honestly, I need to get outside and plow my backyard garden. Oh yes, home gardening is another RUPPIE category, and I’m betting you just might be a YUPPIE living in a “hot city” IF you don’t grow your own food and preserve it!