Cultural Disconnect (the first in a series)

Firstly, before I get self-indulgent, it really looks like things in Haiti are getting worse by the hour. If you can, please donate (I’m currently assessing whether dollars or pounds would be more effective) to one of the relief efforts, or, if you can’t afford to give money, pass on the information.
Oxfam (UK)
The Humanitarian Coalition (Cda)
MSF/Doctors Without Borders (int’l)

Amongst the other, considerably more worrisome news of the world lately, you may have spotted that the weather here in Britain has been massive, massive suck.

That is, more like rather nice winter weather for any US person north of the Mason-Dixon, and early spring for Canadians. Personally, I cope rather well with it. It’s nice not having to worry about wind chill, frostbite and whether or not your engine will turn over, leaving you stranded somewhere in arctic temperatures with no heater and a scratchy army blanket.

I digress. Honestly, I would be fine with the whinging and complaining that is done here in Birmingham with an extended period of temperatures hovering around 0 degrees C (32 deg F) and snow every other day. I could maybe even handle that the entire country shuts down when there’s more than an inch of the white stuff. Flights are cancelled, trains are delayed, people drive stupid, which is a problem in the US too, sometimes…

But no one in this entire nation seems to own a bleeding shovel. Or a sidewalk ice scraper. Some businesses may potentially have sand (kudos to the Selly Oak Aldi), but other than that, nothing. Also, there is a good deal more walking going on than driving. So let’s take a look at this equation:
(temps right above/below freezing + [heavy sidewalk foot traffic – adequate snow removal]) ^ damp weather

What does that equal? If you said MASSIVE DEATH TRAPS OF DEATH, you would be correct.

A good portion of anything that is not a main road here in Brum turns to a big sheet of slushy half-ice, and it has been this way for a good week, off and on. Some days are better, others are worse. And it is supposed to get up to 6.5 or so degrees C (44 degrees F) on Saturday, so that might clear things a bit, perhaps. Or the rain supposedly coming tomorrow. But I’ll believe that when I see it. My Swiss flatmate D and I are thinking of a shovel import business, as winters like this in the UK are becoming a bit of a trend thanks to climate change, but no one here really wants one, as my classmate Aaron put it today. My theory, which he agreed with, is that people here believe that ignoring it will make it go away. All I can say is that I plan on living here and I would rather not fall on my arse, thanks, as I’m thinking I may end up commuting like Hans Brinker on the canals in Broek.

There are many things I love about the UK. This, sadly, is not one of them. Though the walking penguin style is probably doing some good for my thighs.

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