Be careful when you open your voice mail. The White Death could be delivering a blast of Arctic air. Followed by freezing rain. And then - Oh-my-God! We're all gonna die! - SNOW!
Or it could just pass us by.
That happened Jan. 15. Dire weather was predicted. Cincinnati panicked. (As usual.) But, nothing happened.
Since no flakes fell, I put my hip-boots and shovel away (but not too far from the front door) and spent the day writing about Cincinnati's abnormal fear of snow.
They call it chionophobia. This fear creates a sense of doom that triggers panic-buying of life's essentials: beer, bread, milk and toilet paper.
It also sets off a blizzard of phone calls.
''They put salt on the streets! And it never snowed!'' fumed Betty Rutherford of Glendale. ''All that money just went down the gutter.''
''Those weathermen must be in cahoots with grocery store managers,'' insisted Cheryl Cavanaugh of Avondale. ''They probably say: You scare 'em. We'll sell the products to 'em. Then, we split the profits.''
Virginia Held of Dayton, Ky., was ''a victim of the panic.'' Although she didn't buy beer, milk, wine or toilet paper, she did find herself mysteriously drawn to a grocery store and ''in the possession of several items (for) which I have no use.''
Here's hoping science finds a cure.
''Weathermen should stick their heads out the door more often. They play too much with their super-duper Dopplers,'' said Michael Weiss, Springdale.
''Cincinnatians go berserk when they hear these doomsday forecasts because so many houses have steep driveways,'' said June Mayfield of Madeira. ''I cannot tell you how many times I've heard people say: 'My street was fine, but I couldn't get out of my driveway.' That's their excuse for not coming into work.''
Put that whopper next to: ''The dog ate my homework.''
''Yokels like you ain't got any sense,'' declared Alvin Jones of Batavia. ''The weathermen are doing the best they can.''
''It's better to close school two hours early than to have one kid hurt in a bus crash,'' fussed Dan Hayes of Withamsville. ''What you wrote about us being 'victims of a snow job' is a first-class bunch of baloney. You must have failed kindergarten twice.''
Ivory cleans up
That sinking sound you heard last week came from Procter & Gamble Co.'s Ivorydale plant. That's where they're making the new perfumed Ivory, the moisture-care bars. Unlike old Ivory, these bars sink.
I'm a fan of the old stuff that's 99 and 44/100% pure and it floats.
So's Ralph Allen of Blue Ash. ''I'm going to keep using the old Ivory. I even carry a bar of it in my car. If I ever run off a bridge, maybe my Ford will float.''
Earl Grace of Terrace Park declared his allegiance to the original: ''I don't want a bar of soap that smells pretty. I just want soap that gets my hands clean.''
''Buying the same brand of soap all the time,'' said Pat Lowe of Madisonville, ''shows you need to get a life.''
And, this from a P&G employee who asked, via fax, to be called Mr. Nameless: ''Change is the hallmark of Procter & Gamble. Making fun of the new Ivory denies the essence of a great company.''
King Records update
Chris Cain wants to do right by King Records. Since October, the city's urban conservator has been investigating the feasibility of designating the old King plant in Evanston as an official Cincinnati landmark.
Mr. Cain planned to present his findings to the city's Historic Conservation Board this month. But, he needs more time to complete his report. So now, he's looking at mid- or late February.
''I've done most of the research on the building,'' he said of the chocolate-brown structure where James Brown recorded a slew of hits and many seeds of rock, jazz, R&B, country and pop music were sown. Both occurred in undeserved obscurity.
The urban conservator is weighing two options. Either recommend historic designation or the placing of a historical marker at the site listing King's history and accomplishments.
''Since there's nothing in the building (now a United Dairy Farmers warehouse) that shows it was a record company,'' he said, ''I'm leaning toward the marker.''
Cliff Radel's column appears in The Enquirer Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Tips and comments most welcome. Call 768-8379 or fax at 768-8340.