Whisky Wind-down, 24: Snow Day

A bottle of Resurgens Rye and a glass of same sit on a snow-covered table in front of a brick wall.

Today’s dram: Atlanta Spirit Works, Resurgens Rye

Today’s tasting notes: I first tried this at a party last year, and I’m pretty grateful to the person who brought it, both because I went to the party in need of a subject for a Whisky Wind-down post and also because it was my introduction into Atlanta Spirit Works, which has since become a favorite of mine.

I still love the aroma on this. It’s like the best warm loaf of bread right out of the oven. The flavor has bite, but maybe not as much as you’d expect on a rye whisky. It’s in beautiful balance with the mild sweetness and finishes oh so warmly. Just the thing for a cold night.

Today’s thoughts: Atlanta is renowned for its responses to snow storms. If by “renowned” you mean “mercilessly mocked” and by “responses” you mean “hahaha, we’ll come up with a plan two hours after it starts to stick.”

Now, in fairness, as Mayor Kasim Reed famously huffed at a news conference during Snowpocalypse 2014, the actual city of Atlanta makes up just a tiny portion of what most outsiders consider ATLANTA, which is roughly everything ITP (local colloquial for Inside the Perimeter, the area within I-285).

And while I give Reed marginal props for making that nitpicking point, it’s rendered moot when the larger issue is our leaders can’t decided whether to under- or over-react to any particular storm. 

I vastly prefer the over-reaction end of the cycle. It’s fine and well to be the city that gets mocked for taking a day off at the slightest suggestion of snow. I like that city. That’s a safe city to live in. It beats the hell out of being the city where government officials and business owners are so damned stubborn that they fail to take action until after the last minute, leaving people stuck in their cars for hours on end or stranded in powerless schools or worse, all-in on the off-chance that “productivity” might take a slight hit for calling a snow day too early. Fuck productivity. Nobody’s getting a damned thing done except anxiously staring out the window and refreshing their weather apps, anyway.

Today’s personal observation: I do go on about this, don’t I? Nonetheless, the site motto will remain as is … although “whisky ramblings and snow musings” does have a nice ring to it.

Today’s toast: To a warm dram on a cold night.

January in Atlanta, A Drama in 2 Acts: 2

Act 2, Scene 1: The curtain rises. Saturday. Darkness.

Gradually, some areas of the stage are lit, dimly at first. Most slowly become well-illuminated over the course of a few minutes. Other areas remain dark or ill-lit. 

This appears to be the same set as Act 1. However, as the lighting begins, it becomes obvious this isn’t exactly the same set at all. What appeared in Act 1 to be a neighborhood in Atlanta is now divided into distinct areas. Boundaries are drawn, more or less corresponding with the lighting.

Some areas of the stage are lightly dusted with white powder. Others have several inches or are mostly bare. These patches appear to have no correlation to how the various areas are lit. 

Within each area, ATLANTANS are sleeping. Gradually, they rise. All are wearing heavy clothes — gloves, hats, boots, and sweatshirts. The sweatshirts all bear different lettering, none of which appears to correspond to either the boundaries now drawn on stage, the lighting, or the white powder. (Examples include: ATL: North, OTP; ATL: South, ITP; ATL: West, East Point; AinT’L: Tucker; etc.)

At one end of the stage a sign reads: “Ice Rink closed due to ice.”

At the other end of the stage, a sign reads: “Snow Mountain closed due to snow.”

A WEATHER EXPERT enters. 

WEATHER EXPERT: What you have to understand is that weather-forecasting is a complicated science. If you read into the details …

ATLANTANS begin to boo.

WEATHER EXPERT: … of our five-part hexa-terrific model, you will begin to understand that the patterns that emerged from this storm system are correct to within three decimal places of expectation for …

ATLANTANS continue booing, now drowning out whatever it is that WEATHER EXPERT is saying. 

WEATHER EXPERT: [ad-libbed scientific-sounding phrases that will not be heard]

ATLANTANS boo until WEATHER EXPERT exits the stage. 

In each area, ATLANTA CHILDREN begin to stir and tug at their parents. 

ATLANTA CHILD 1: I want to see the snow!

ATLANTA CHILD 2: Mommy, mommy, snow!

ATLANTA CHILD 3: Daddy, daddy, snow!

ALL ATLANTA CHILDREN: Snow! Snow! Snow!

ATLANTANS in all areas begin to further bundle their children (who are already wearing gloves, hats, boots, and sweatshirts). Scarves, parkas, and heavy outer jackets are applied until all ATLANTA CHILDREN can barely move. Gleefully, the children waddle out to play. 

TV NEWS REPORTERS enter. They jostle one another, fighting for space within each area of the stage in a seemingly random manner. ATLANTANS in each area dance and wave at them, most pointing excitedly at the nearest ATLANTA CHILDREN. Eventually, the TV NEWS REPORTERS are more or less evenly distributed about the stage. The MEME SALESMAN lurks in the background, slinking from area to area with a camera and a notepad. 

TV NEWS REPORTER 1: As you can see here in ATL-OTP-PRIME, #ATLSNOMG2017 has brought nothing but joy!!!!

TV NEWS REPORTER 1 is standing in a well-lit area with mostly very little white powder but a few small mounds. TV NEWS REPORTER 1 grasps handfuls of the white powder and holds them high toward the audience. Nearby ATLANTANS cavort with their children.

TV NEWS REPORTER 2: As you can see here in ATL-ITP-PRIME, #ATLSNOMAGEDDON2017 has had a devastating effect!!!! Inches of snow cover every surface, and some homes are still without power!!!!

TV NEWS REPORTER 2 is standing in a dimly lit area with very little white powder in scattered patches. Nearby ATLANTANS shiver dramatically. Only a few feet away, ATLANTANS in a completely dark area scowl and shake their fists, but you can’t see them. 

TV NEWS REPORTER 3: As you can see here in …

THE GOVERNOR enters, accompanied by HANDLERS, YES-MEN, and THE MAYOR OF ATLANTA.

All TV NEWS REPORTERS stop what they are doing and rush toward THE GOVERNOR. In so doing, some of the TV NEWS REPORTERS comically collide with cavorting ATLANTANS in well-lit areas while others rush past obviously distressed ATLANTANS trying to get attention in dimly-lit areas.

As the TV NEWS REPORTERS approach, HANDLER 1 grasps THE GOVERNOR by the left arm and whispers fervently into his left ear. Immediately, HANDLER 2 grasps his right arm and whispers fervently into his right ear.

THE MAYOR OF ATLANTA brushes imaginary dust off his expensive suit, clears his throat, and approaches TV NEWS REPORTERS, who walk right past him. 

THE GOVERNOR: I am pleased to stand before you and say that our great state has weathered another mighty storm.

 ATLANTANS in completely dark areas continue to scowl and shake their fists, but no one pays them any attention, except HANDLER 2, who glances their way briefly, then shrugs. 

THE GOVERNOR: We have done so thanks to the great leadership of our state officials.

THE MAYOR OF ATLANTA appears upset. He raises his hand. No one pays him any attention. 

THE GOVERNOR: I am pleased to report that power has been restored to most areas, and all businesses are up and running safely.

In the background, GROCERS walk by, each dragging a comically large bag labeled $$$.

THE GOVERNOR: By working diligently throughout the night, our multi-agency strike teams have kept our roads and interstates clear and free of ice and snow. We encourage you not to use them, however.

THE MAYOR OF ATLANTA loudly stomps off the stage.

THE GOVERNOR: GDOT is continuing to monitor the situation and is responding to any and all trouble spots accordingly as those reports come in.

TV NEWS REPORTER 1 wanders off.

THE GOVERNOR: Schools will remain closed at the discretion of local officials.

TV NEWS REPORTER 2 wanders off.

THE GOVERNOR: The State Operations Center will remain active until my Proclamation of Emergency expires at midnight Sunday.

TV NEWS REPORTER 3 wanders off.

THE GOVERNOR: Everything will be fine in time for your commute to work on Monday.

All ATLANTANS groan.

THE GOVERNOR: I urge Georgians to remain cautious, vigilant and patient.

THE GOVERNOR exits, accompanied by HANDLERS and YES-MEN.

—–

Act 2, Scene 2: Saturday evening. The stage is the same as before, only now there is no longer any white powder visible, and the lighting is uniform. 

ATLANTANS sit, dejected, while ATLANTA CHILDREN, now covered in mud, play. 

The MEME SALESMAN wanders the stage, attempting to sell captioned photos of ANGUISHED ATLANTAN, now with added mud snowman and milk sandwiches. 

Curtain.

January in Atlanta, A Drama in 2 Acts: 1

Act 1, Scene 1: A neighborhood in Atlanta. Monday. It is a fine, average day in early January. The sun is shining, and it is in the mid-50s. ATLANTANS enter and meander about the stage. A WEATHER EXPERT enters. 

WEATHER EXPERT: There is a slight chance of winter precipitation across the metro area next weekend. 

ATLANTANS continue to meander about the stage, ignoring WEATHER EXPERT. 

—–

Act 1, Scene 2: A neighborhood in Atlanta. Tuesday. A fine, average day in early January. Partly cloudy. High 40s. ATLANTANS enter and meander about the stage. ATLANTA CHILDREN are bundled like small burritos. 

WEATHER EXPERT: We have updated our five-day forecast, and there is now a strong probability of winter precipitation across the metro area this weekend.

ATLANTANS continue to meander about the stage, ignoring WEATHER EXPERT. 

—–

Act 1, Scene 3: A neighborhood in Atlanta. Wednesday. A slightly cool day in early January. Cloudy. High 40s. When the lights rise, ATLANTANS are already on stage, having woken up an extra hour early to warm their cars. The WEATHER EXPERT enters.

WEATHER EXPERT: As we have been saying …

TV WEATHER CELEBRITY rushes on stage, pursued by TV NEWS HOSTS. WEATHER EXPERT is knocked off-stage in the ensuing kerfuffle. ATLANTANS stop what they were doing and stare.

TV WEATHER CELEBRITY: OMG! Snow this weekend! Snow in Atlanta!

TV NEWS HOSTS: OMG! OMG! Our 24-hour coverage of this event two days hence shall begin immediately!!!! Stay tuned for life-saving severe weather advice!!!!

ATLANTANS: OMG! OMG!

ATLANTANS run about, aimlessly. GROCERS enter, smiling. 

—–

Act 1, Scene 4: A neighborhood in Atlanta. Thursday. A cool day in early January. Cloudy. High 30s. When the lights rise, signs bearing “No Bread” and “No Milk” adorn all shop windows. ANGUISHED ATLANTAN enters, falls to his knees.

ANGUISHED ATLANTAN: Why, God, why?

—–

Act 1, Scene 5: A neighborhood in Atlanta. Friday. A cool day in early January. Cloudy. High 30s. A MEME SALESMAN wanders the stage, attempting to sell captioned photos of ANGUISHED ATLANTAN. THE GOVERNOR enters, accompanied by HANDLERS, YES-MEN, and TV NEWS REPORTERS. 

THE GOVERNOR: It is a fine day in Georgia, and business is wonderful!

YES-MEN nod enthusiastically. 

TV NEWS REPORTER 1: Governor, sir, please, can you tell us how to survive #ATLSNOMG2017!?!?

THE GOVERNOR: I’m sure everything will be fine.

TV NEWS REPORTER 2: Governor, sir, please, have you not seen our non-stop reporting on #ATLSNOMAGEDDON2017!?!?

THE GOVERNOR: Why don’t you report more on our lovely business environment?

TV NEWS REPORTER 3: Governor, sir, are you telling the people they should not be worried about #ATLSNOPOCALYOSE2017!?!?

ATLANTANS lean in, listening intently. 

THE GOVERNOR: Now listen, I’m sure there’s nothing …

HANDLER whispers to THE GOVERNOR.

THE GOVERNOR: … we can’t do to ensure the safety of the people. I shall issue a Proclamation of Emergency!

All frolic. 

Curtain. 

Here We Snow Again

Why, yes, I am pleased that our local officials seem to have learned from their mistakes during our last severe winter weather ordeal and are actively preparing in advance for this one.

After so dramatically falling on his face with so many people watching, Gov. Deal (or at least his re-election staff) must be delighted to have a chance at redemption so soon.

The “we learn from our mistakes” campaign materials will nearly write themselves.

And me? Well, I skipped my usual shopping trip today because of the expected hordes at the stores. It’s okay, though; my pantry is stocked, and so is the bar. Bring on the winter wonderland.

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.

Pathetic.