The First Time Buck Tried to Kill Gordie

I don’t know whether I’ve mentioned it or not, but I’m a gamer.

These days that means mostly card and board games, but I have a history with role-playing games, and some of my most enduring friendships were forged in and around RPG tables during my high school and college years.

In high school, my friends and I met for regular gaming sessions on Friday afternoons. We did so at a friend’s country house (which, in the context of the small town I grew up in, meant anything outside the city limits, basically).

The driveway to the friend’s house, which was a dirt driveway that lay just off a dirt road that lay just off a country highway, was a quarter-mile stretch of straight, hard dirt. It was tree-lined on each side, pleasant and shady, which made it a lovely track for a short walk.

One game day afternoon, I was catching a ride with my friend Buck.

(Note: All names herein have been changed, usually to embarrassing alternatives.)

As Buck turned from the dirt road onto the dirt driveway, we found ourselves facing two of our friends, Clint (who lived there) and Gordie. The pair had evidently decided to go for a short walk, probably to get the mail, whilst awaiting our arrival.

Clint immediately stepped out of the way. Gordie, however, stayed put, forcing Buck to stop the car. Gordie then walked up and sat on the hood.

I glanced at Buck.

I saw the look on his face.

“Bad id-” I began.

Too late.

Buck had already hit the accelerator, and we were off.

I don’t know what speed we got up to — probably, honestly, less than it felt like in those terrified moments — but after a few seconds of hard acceleration, Buck braked. Hard.

Gordie shot forward, took a couple of comically large, gawky, attempting-to-catch-his-balance steps, then collapsed face-first in a cloud of dust.

The cap he had been wearing fluttered gently to the ground a few feet away.

Gordie lay still.

The dust settled.

“Oops,” Buck said.

Clint came running up from behind as we stepped out of the car.

Gordie remained face-down in the road as we approached, and I really thought, for just a moment, that we might have killed him.

Just as Buck was tentatively reaching out to touch him, Gordie coughed and cursed.

As all ended well, we still laugh about this.

Let’s Gallup

So, by Chinese reckoning, we are about to mark the beginning of a new year.

I don’t know much about Chinese New Year, except that the festivities last about two weeks, a fact of which I highly approve. I am, in general, greatly in favor of extended holiday celebrations, an area in which the United States lags woefully behind the rest of the world.

Here, it takes a weekend conjunction to manage more than one day off for holiday festivities, and that’s just sad. We need these breaks for mind, heart, and soul, and, yet, for all too many working Americans, a holiday break is just a day off and then back to the grind, unless you work in a service industry, in which case holidays are just grind, grind, grind, same as every other day of the year.

Sorry. I hadn’t intended to get grumpy there. I was, in fact, meaning to remark upon new beginnings.

I don’t know whether it is traditional in the East, but I think this is a fine time for reflection, new direction, even, if you can bear the burden, resolution.

Although I have groused about the Western New Year’s Day tradition of resolutions, I am very much in favor of reflection and goal adjustment.

Whether that reflection/adjustment comes at an officially recognized occasion, such as marking the rollover of the local calendar, a personal mark such a birthday or anniversary, or just, “this Thursday,” I appreciate the process.

I have, in fact, been engaged in such a process myself lately, and you are seeing some of the results in the form of new content in this once-dusty space. Granted, snow days played a part there, but that was just fortuitously coincidental. This space, as you will see, is not all dead, but, in fact, only mostly dead, which, as you probably know, is slightly alive.

See you tomorrow.

Foresight, Hindsight, and Other Visual Impairments

Yes, I’m still on about the weather mess. Mostly because today I’m hearing a couple of recurrent, irritating arguments passing blame.

The first, and most annoying, is that we didn’t see this coming.

That is, to put it politely, a misstatement of reality.

Winter weather advisories were issued for metro Atlanta Monday night, warning of snow starting at 9 a.m. and expected to last until mid-afternoon or evening. Those advisories were still in effect Tuesday morning.

(Note to self: In future, take screenshots of weather advisories.)

You want a bit of correlating evidence? A handful of schools and businesses announced closings. My wife’s was one of those. She worked from home Tuesday. Because her employer told its workforce to stay home. Because her employer’s leadership team is not filled with heartless morons.

Unlike, say, the majority of Atlanta school/business/government leadership teams, who decided, in spite of a weather advisory telling them to expect hours of snow during the workday, to proceed with the workday, anyway.

Which was pointless. In my office, from the beginning of the workday at 8 a.m. until our release at noon, very little got done. Because everyone knew the storm was coming, and we were all just waiting to be sent home.

Only when snow was starting to fall on their heads did most of metro Atlanta’s leadership bother to release their students and workers. All at once. On icing roads. Brilliant.

Which brings me to the second lousy argument going around Atlanta today, which is that the Georgia Department of Transportation was unprepared.

Now, I’m not going to portray GDOT as a paragon of efficiency with a specialization in winter weather road control. It isn’t. However, it is an agency dedicated to putting the resources it has — which are the limited resources most southern transportation agencies maintain for the infrequent winter storms our region experiences — to work in a timely fashion.

GDOT put its people in place Monday night. Put them on 12-hour shifts. Loaded the sand/salt/gravel trucks. Prepared the reloading sites. And waited for the snow to fall.

And when the snow came down, as their trucks went out, they were joined by most of a city’s worth of school and work traffic — all at once, not staggered like on a usual day — who hit the streets when their leaders finally acknowledged reality.

So, GDOT vehicles ended up caught in the same massive traffic problem as every other vehicle on the roads, unable to respond appropriately to clear the roads of snow and ice because the roads could not be cleared of vehicles.

I might wish the people who run our lives — our bosses, superintendents, and elected officials — cared enough about us to call an early snow day, putting safety ahead of squeezing out a few hours of productivity.

I might wish that, but that would be asking for empathy, for understanding, for humanity, which, you know, would be asking a lot from our typical school/business/government leadership.

I would wish, however, for something a little less, a little easier to achieve.

Mind the damned weather advisories.

Addendum to Snow Day: An Unnecessary Atlanta Debacle

Some additional thoughts, a few hours later:

-How much productive work was actually accomplished by workers whose employers made them come in for a few hours today? How much of that work could have been accomplished had they worked from home instead? Would they, in fact, have accomplished more in a full day at home?

-How much productive learning was accomplished by students who were in school today? Less than they might have accomplished on a full make-up day later in the year, perhaps? Has anyone considered the psychological impact, especially on those students who (as of this writing) remain stuck in their schools due to bus issues, parents-cannot-reach-them issues, or the-school-refuses-to-allow-them-to-drive-home issues?

-How much additional fuel was wasted and how much additional pollution was generated in today’s colossal traffic mess?

-Has anyone died in this mess? (As of this writing, I have not yet seen fatalities reported.)

-Was all of the above worth the risk of going forward with business as usual, assuming the downside risk was a clear day wasted?

Snow Day: An Unnecessary Atlanta Debacle

When the population of metro Atlanta went to bed last night, we knew bad weather was on the way. The National Weather Service issued a winter weather warning advising us that, starting perhaps as early as 9 a.m., we would be in for several hours of accumulating snow.

By this morning, the warning was still in effect, with weather forecasters saying, bascially, “brace for impact” to not only the Atlanta area, but most of Georgia and its neighbors.

Metro Atlanta has a bad reputation when it comes to dealing with winter storms. We don’t get them often, so we don’t have the equipment, the people, or the mentality for handling even a couple of inches of snow or ice.

Yet, knowing this, with a few exceptions, metro Atlanta schools, businesses, and government agencies decided to act like today was a spring day.

They waited until the snow started falling — a little later than predicted, around 11 a.m. — pondered a bit, and then, a few at a time, started realizing they needed to release their students and workers.

So, this afternoon, instead of sitting safely at home watching the snow fall, most of the metro population is on the roads, struggling to leave work, pick up children, and fight their way home in treacherous conditions.

Most of these drivers typically face an hour-plus commute (in ideal conditions), and today, in these conditions, there are crashes, there are injuries, and there are lines of traffic that will endure for hours — a situation that could have been mostly avoided if we had leaders willing to think ahead and work with the facts at hand.