January 30th, 2014

Today's Activities Include: shot, but no swimming, a paragraph about snow cancels

A. had a shot today; there was one left to get for her to be legal to attend kindergarten in the fall. She still needs to have the lead blood draw; dunno how we failed to get that done already.

She declined (vehemently, at length, and in the face of attempts to negotiate around) swimming. I felt like an idiot canceling, however, the instructor was super cool about it. By the time I got A. to school for her half day, all she wanted to do was spin, which she hasn't been doing lately. I realize that a lot of you people think vaccinations are no big deal, but you'll just have to trust me when I say, wow, the interactions with R.'s and/or my genetics as manifested in the kids are real interesting.

I was pleased to note that Rachel Maddow on TRMS took the same attitude to the recent traffic snarls/tragic deaths that resulted from the recent batch of cold weather/snow/ice hitting Atlanta and environs: it was a policy failure. My sister -- who has spent most of her adult life living in the South (unlike me -- I've never lived there) and a chunk of her FB kinship network who have also lived there place a lot of the blame on parents for sending their kids to school/not picking them up earlier in the day. I think of this like getting rear-ended while sitting at a traffic light and running into the car ahead of you. Should you have had your foot on the brake? Should you have left additional space between you and the car ahead of you? Should you have hit the horn when you saw someone coming up behind you too fast? Sure! But it still isn't your fault that you got hit, nor is it your fault that as a result you hit the car ahead. Understanding local traffic patterns, school employment patterns and related issues are necessary in order to figure out when and how to adjust school schedules to avoid negative repercussions from predicted weather. _You_ may be able to drive just fine in the snow. But they can't plow it while it's gridlocked, and if you cannot correctly anticipate how everyone else is going to react, you can't even be sure _when_ to leave in time. If you skip work/school entirely, without the solid backing of cancellation or a travel ban, you might be subject to punishment, job loss, negative marks, etc. If you live such a lovely life you can be sure you will suffer no negatives, well, try to have a little compassion for everyone else. And the next time your school gets canceled, or you are told to go home early/stay home due to predicted weather that then doesn't materialize, think of the dead people on the road in the south and recognize that hard calls have to be made, and it's really a lot better to be overly cautious then leave the population at large to fend for themselves.

Looks like it's the Governor

http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/30/us/winter-weather/

It'll be interesting to see what happens in the next election, as apparently the governor's response in Georgia was considerably worse than I realized. I was blaming him for failing to do something along the lines of what Gov. Patrick did here, ordering government offices closed (recently) and everyone off the roads (in an earlier, more serious storm), while strongly advocating that businesses close. Turns out that wasn't the only failure.

(1) The forecast wasn't being monitored, so when the storm was upgraded, the existing decision not to do anything was not revisited. Nor did the original plan have any trigger to change plans in the event of an upgraded forecast. This is -very very very- basic responsibility for a governor, whether it's a hurricane, snow storm, ice storm, extreme cold weather, tsunami warning, regional fire or other disaster in progress.

(2) Emergency ops center was opened very late. So while (1) is an instance of poor strategy, this is an instance of non-existent tactical response. Each is a serious error.

Many people in northern states and provinces have said things about how "people know how to drive", etc. where they live. However, this isn't a matter of knowing how to drive. Northern states and provinces are characterized by better management of transportation infrastructure in the event of ... unusual events. When infrastructure is managed well, it is largely invisible, with the exception of things like state-wide road closures such as Connecticut and Massachusetts have resorted to in recent months/years. When visible, the management often appears more onerous than _not_ managing -- because the population at large can afford to forget how horrifying it is when management does not occur. This is consistently a problem with strategies that involve a large dose of prevention: people forget how horrible the successfully prevented event is, and only notice the inconvenience or negative side effects of the preventive strategy.

Here is someone from a northern state, commenting on what he experienced driving -- or not driving -- his car hauler through that storm:

""I've hauled cars for 18 years, 48 states and Canada," Greg Shrader, a truck driver from Maine, told CNN on Wednesday after sitting in traffic for 27 hours before giving up on what should have been a 3-1/2-hour trip.
"I have never been failed by officials like I have here. Still no equipment, no well-being check. No plan. I guess they're waiting for it to melt.""

Here's hoping that this learning opportunity is not wasted.

ETA:

AJC's timeline of the storm. Based on what this says, none of the schools in my region would have opened. We would have known that before we went to bed Monday night. At the point that Atlanta schools were saying there was a slight chance of early release on Tuesday, our schools would have been telling the media they were canceled for the following day.

http://www.ajc.com/news/news/winter-storm-2014-timeline/nc6k9/

This is not how we run things up here. Altho I will note that a lot of New England natives think we should (including my husband). I'll end this with one more story. T., who is multi-generationally New England, did a lot of complaining about the road closures of the second October snow storm in recent years. As the storm worsened through the morning (she was at our house), the tree that had partially fallen over the previous October snow storm (taking out our power) fell over. She came back in, after going out, to tell us this, and at this point, she started taking the storm a lot more seriously. My response was simple: hey, this is a big improvement over last time. We didn't lose our power this time! She was still pretty wrapped up in the idea she'd just seen a tree go down.

Some people are a lot more prepared than others to make good decisions about the weather. I prefer when they decide, and we comply. It's cheaper, and fewer people die.