Early Sunday edition of WREG-TV News Channel 3 video weatherblog Weather Overtime posted and ready to view. #ShareAndEnjoy
OK, astute readers of a science fiction bent will realize that this is a bit of a rip-off.
***ALERT : If you don’t like science fiction, or you like to grouse about people who read or watch or write it, stop reading right here and go do something else. Seriously, just stop now and save us both the trouble.***
One of my favorite series was Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, in which the capitalist extremist species, the Ferengi, played a decently large part. The Ferengi Rules of Acquisition were the (semi-one-sided) laws of commerce that the species had to abide by… mostly. Kind of. When it suited them.
The Ferengi are not subtle, except when it suits them. They will do anything to earn profit. Well, they’ll do some things to earn it. Most of the time they’ll find a way to wangle it away from their customers and cook the books in their favor.
According to Star Trek Memory Alpha: “The Rules of Acquisition were a numbered series of aphorisms, guidelines, and principles that provided the foundation of business philosophy in Ferengi culture. They were first written ten thousand years ago by Gint, the first Grand Nagus. In the mid-22nd century there were 173 rules, and by the 24th century there were 285. In theory, every Ferengi business transaction strictly follows all 285 rules.”
One physical characteristic of the Ferengi (you may have noticed by now) is their large ears, which lends itself to a raised level of hearing ability. A wise Ferengi, it is said, can hear profit blowing on the wind. (Rule of Acquisition 22, in fact) The one thing about them is that they are good listeners. They have to be if they are going to be good business people.
I have learned over time that God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason. (Call it cliche and/or trite if you want to, it’s my opinion and my blog.) If people spent a good deal more time listening and less chatting, things might be a bit better for them. (Again, my opinion. Don’t like it? Stop reading it.) If you ever listen to Drake and Zeke on 98.1 The Max, you may have heard Mr. Drake opine that most people go around with a five foot radius sphere around themselves and don’t care about much that goes on outside of that sphere. Small matters make for the best chatter, I’ve found. Usually to keep the larger matters at bay or to keep the wheels moving upstairs so you won’t have to worry about the trivial stuff? Not entirely sure. I do know that there is an awful lot of chatter and not much space left for listening. Which is a tragedy in its own sense: a lot gets missed when it’s all talk. Close the mouth to open the ears and you might just be amazed. Might be a good idea to put the phone down every once in a while and just shut up. Use your ears more and your mouth less. A lot of my experiences in life have leaned towards the idea of bettering myself, and a lot of times that I should have listened more than speaking. Hard to believe that even the greedy Ferengi can teach us something in real life.
Even though the Ferengi are fictional, their rules occasionally hit on a lot of common sense.
Rule Number 9: Opportunity plus instinct equals profit. Rule Number 48: The bigger the smile, the sharper the knife. Rule Number 59: Free advice is seldom cheap. Rule Number 74: Knowledge equals profit.
I have another favorite rule that I’ve borrowed, but I’ll save that for later on. Stay tuned.
…but the ice is slippery.
When I was working back at KTKA-TV 49 in Topeka, Kansas, the newsroom had interconnected computers that enabled different users at different desks to send instant messages, typed scripts, etc. to each other. We were also able to create common files that we could all contribute to. One of the main things we typed together were Top Ten Lists. Lots of them. (Yes, it’s not all business when it comes to television news. Occasionally, you have to sit back and laugh a bit.) One of the lists that got created was Top Ten Reasons The Castaways of Gilligan’s Island Should Have Killed Gilligan. The Number One answer was: “He was STUPID! Jeez Louise, he was stupid!!!!” #CantArgueWithThat
Let’s face it: there’s an awful lot of stupid out there. Hoo-boy, there’s a lot of stupid…
About 7 AM most Monday through Friday mornings, Drake Hall and Zeke Logan on 98.1 The Max in Memphis run down the latest and greatest (well…. sort of) of the dumbest of the dumb, in an entire segment dedicated to the “Dumbasses of the Day” or “The Daily Dumbass” part of the show. Some of the entries make you shake your head, some make you laugh uncontrollably, some make you cringe and lock your knees together (as in: yeesh! seriously!?) at what human beings are capable of. I find it interesting to try to figure out in advance if an entry will end with the described stupid person’s demise or not. Wherever Drake and Zeke keep getting these stories from, they don’t seem like they’ll be running out of them any time soon. Sadly.
You’ve done it. I’ve done it. It’s easy. Why? We’re human. We’ve seen it happen all over the place. People who cook oatmeal while smoking and talking on their phones in the middle of rush hour traffic. People who antagonize the gorilla at the zoo from a few inches away. People who eat a large spoonful of cinnamon. People who wind up on America’s Funniest Videos or Tosh.0 after doing something not quite so smart… and for that: we thank you.
Make no mistake: I’m not talking down about people, or talking trash on people’s misfortune. I don’t do that. I try to be as good as possible when it comes to hoping and helping. I got made fun of enough in my life. Big, fat glasses and rather – shall we say – awkwardly dressed at times, I wasn’t always the incredibly handsome and suave person that I am now. Times change, experiences accumulate, and I have done what I can to make things better, being kinder than necessary to myself and everyone around me. I’ve learned from my mistakes (mostly). The trouble is: I keep making new ones. Lots of them. Oy.
I’ve walked into street signs before. Lots of them. Sometimes cute girls walking the other way were the culprit, sometimes not. I’ve missed the last step at the bottom of staircases. I’ve recorded the wrong programs and missed appointments. I’ve read the wrong schedule and gotten to work late. Laughed at the wrong jokes, tripped over my own feet, filled out the wrong forms, gotten lost, forgotten important dates, put the wrong numbers in the wrong column, overreacted when I shouldn’t have, let the dog eat my homework (It happened! that’s my story and I’m sticking to it) and various other things much too embarrassing to mention.
(If there would be a soundtrack song that should play when I mess up, this would be it.)
I’m human. I can’t count the number of forecasts that have busted. I can keep trying to improve myself. Giving up is not an option. I have to keep trying to make myself better and avoid making the bigger mistakes if possible. Doesn’t always succeed, mind you. Can’t stop giving it my best shot.
When I give presentations at the Memphis Pink Palace in “The Magic of Science” program or our Physical Science laboratory, I have a part of the presentations that depend on using dry ice. If you’ve never worked with dry ice before, its really (pardon the pun) cool stuff. One of the things I warn the students about scientific ignorance. The people who put videos on YouTube showing their versions of dry ice bombs (hot water + dry ice in a closed container = illegal explosive device) don’t always end well. To that end, I take a small plastic coffee container with a non-screwtop lid and mix dry ice and hot water. The lid flies off after a few seconds in an arc that, when you mentally stretch that out, is about ten feet long. That’s a lot of power in a small amount of stuff. I remind the kids that being a scientist includes the idea of responsibility and ethical behavior. Mistakes? They happen. Sometimes with a tragic end. On the other hand, being willfully ignorant – especially when the stakes are high – is something that I will never be able to comprehend.
I often look at life with a bent eye, seeing the sheer inanity of a lot of people’s actions, mainly because you have the choice to look at life and laugh, or look at life and cry. I always hope for the best, but am often disappointed by people and their actions. But, I always do hope that things could be better. Most of the time, when I hear the phrase: “Hey, dude… watch this!” I automatically have a sense of either “duck and cover” or “basically… run” take over very quickly.
Some of what I’ve learned over the years is to be kind to yourself and everyone else. My beautiful and smart science teacher wife (who has had to put up with a lot of my brain-misgivings over the years) is a forgiving type, especially dealing with me and my oops-moments. When you screw up, and you will, be kind and give yourself a break. I’ve seen too many people beat them up over a failure to the point of near-depression and heartache (and various other stomach ailments) to boot. I’ve also seen a lot of people get way overheated about other people’s mistakes to the point of near stupidity on their own. The sheer amount of vitriolic overkill that some people indulge in is scary when you witness it.
So, when you do something oops-identally, or see someone else doing it, give you/them a break, and quit being such a hard-liner against them, remembering that you are just as human as they are.
On the other hand, remember well that the alligator doesn’t want your head in its mouth, cinnamon is meant to be used in small doses only, tap dancing through minefields is not macho, doing something just because someone called you chicken is a ridiculous reason to do that said something (even with the triple-dog-dare attached to it), the gorilla is much bigger and stronger than you are, and if you go around acting like a butthead to the police or sheriff officers that pulled you over for speeding, you probably deserve to go to jail for a few days.
Let’s all try to do our best to not violate the “Don’t Be Stupid” policy. And put down that cinnamon.
It’s more than just the Boy Scout marching song. (Old reference, kids.)
I always try to travel places with my camera with me, in case a photo opportunity presents itself. I always double-back when leaving my hotel room to verify that I haven’t left something behind. I always try to make sure that the iron is turned off, the tea kettle is removed from the burner, the doors are locked and the dogs where they can’t get into any mischief. (Never has stopped them before, sadly.) And I do my level best to bring a book with me to read should their be times where I have nothing else to do. I am not one of those people who fiddle with their cell phones constantly, and would rather charge my brain than use my phone apps to excess. (Not that you needed to know that much, but… there it is.)
I am an Eagle Scout, and proud to call myself as such. I worked long and hard to get that badge, and am not ashamed to say that I am still a Scout. Yes, the Boy Scouts have had issues of late, and I don’t agree with all their stated ideas/positions. But, that’s what working towards changing attitudes are all about: either work with a system and try to change it, or throw the baby out with the bathwater completely and never try again.
My point for this posting is easy: you can try to get prepared for what life has in store for you, assuming not the worst to be dour and defeatist, but to make sure you are able to make things better, being a part of the solution and not part of the problem. Not taking the time to plan things out (at least a little bit anyway) can cause you a maximum amount of headaches and irritation down the line.
Before we have a round of severe weather in the Mid-South, if it is for me or the other WREG-TV forecasters, I try to make sure the entire weather center is ready to go and set for possible action: paper in the printers, as well as full ink cartridges, new batteries in our earpieces and microphones, computers restarted/re-booted and ready to go, letting the assignment desk editor know that if I go on the air I will require them to call our head people as I will be unable to, reminding the director of the shift that we may have to go wall-to-wall with coverage, calling the people in charge to let them know that all bases are covered. This, done well ahead of time, saves me (or anyone else at the station) from walking into a buzzsaw and helps cut down on mistakes and smooths out operations, all due to a decent amount of preparation before-hand.
Before a campout or hike, our Scout troop at Faith Lutheran in Topeka, KS, would examine our patrol cooking boxes – large, sturdy, bright red boxes about the size of a foot locker that opened on either side with cooking utensils, cleaning supplies, spare matches, various small tools that would be useful/handy when necessary. ALL of our patrols had to do this and re-stock the box before we left the following weekend. Doing this beforehand meant we could leave on time, not having to worry about what we might have left behind, or worrying about running back/around having to replace items when we were at our site in the outdoors. Some people groused about this constantly: why was it necessary, what was the point, why do I have to do this, et mindbending cetera? The reasons became clear when other Scout troops were in the field with us and having to constantly borrow supplies off of us because they didn’t do what we did beforehand.
Many people that I’ve spoken to over the years, especially when it comes to emergency preparedness, are a bit queasy when I talk about disaster; they just plain don’t want to hear about it. “Everything is fine! Nothing is wrong now, so why worry about later?” Are you the type of person who doesn’t wear a seatbelt because “nothing like that ever happens to me”?
I gave a presentation at a seminar sponsored and organized by a small Methodist church just south of Memphis in north Mississippi last year that dealt with emergency preparation, especially when it came to weather emergencies, and what could be done at home/work/school/etc. in easy steps over time. I was informed thusly by some of the attendees that I should not be going around frightening people, and that I was – for all intents and purposes – a fearmonger. As with all critics/critical statements, I did my best to thank them for feeling able to speak to me on the situation as they saw fit and they went on their way satisfied that they had spoken their piece. On the other hand: I can’t let one or two people divert me from the main question here: What are you prepared for? Even more importantly: what are you NOT prepared for? Being prepared for different events is a necessity, even if it makes you uncomfortable in its preparation. My kids didn’t like hearing about possible kidnapping, and what they could do to prevent it, but my wife and I had to let them know what to do in a calm and reasonable manner to help them be prepared.
One of my favorite programs growing up was “MacGyver”, and how he was able to face most situations with a minimum of fear and panic, because he was able to have the knowledge and brain power (and the ever-present Swiss Army knife) to tackle everything from terrorists to oil well explosions to fixing a bicycle. He was a great inspiration to those who, like me, wanted to help and make things better, save a life, improve a situation. Whatever it was, Mac always was able to get things fixed somehow. Well, almost always. At the very least: he never gave up. Having the knife and the know-how was one of the main reasons I never missed a show while it was on the air. Even though it was a pre-written TV show, it was at least an exercise in science, learning, experience and preparation. One of the best that I ever knew of in my youth, long ago.
What aren’t you ready for? If your kids are at home while you’re running errands and something happens (pick your crisis here), do they know how to respond? If you are at work, and your kids are at home, and the Big One strikes the New Madrid Fault, and you can’t get home in the usual time, do your kids know to open up a can of peaches to eat, but also to drink the syrup when the water lines are damaged? Do they know how to turn off the gas line should it become necessary? Do they know that 911 is for emergencies only, and what kind of an emergency precipitates a 911 call? If an earthquake or weather disaster complicates your arrival, do they know what to do in your absence?
Right after I arrived in the Memphis area back in the late 1990’s (wow… has it been that long?!?) I was invited to give a severe weather safety presentation at the Delta Amateur Radio Club’s monthly meeting. After the meeting was over, I was told a story by one of the operators about a crisis management / “war games” meeting held recently by local, county and state officials, in which a handful of amateur radio operators (or “hams”) were invited to the show. They went thinking they would be part of the operation, acting in tandem with the exercise to help seal up gaps in communication, helping to be a part of the chain of command when it came to helping their community. Apparently, they couldn’t have been more wrong, as they were invited almost as an afterthought. No participation from the hams was asked for in any way for the entire exercise. When the drill was over, the operator who was speaking to me told me that he asked one of the commanders what – in their opinion – would happen if communications ever went down to the point of needing a group like the operators in the field to help pass information along as necessary to replace the regular communication system. The response: if things get that bad (which they won’t) we’ll just pick up the phone and issue orders as usual. Don’t know about you, but that answer does not fill me with a great deal of hope or calm when it comes to how bad things could possibly get in a major disaster.
We are a reactive society. We are not as good as being a pro-active society as we could or should be. We need to think about those things that could happen to reduce damage or injury or worse. Not to the point of being depressed. But, if we can prepare and don’t, how much worse off will we be if and when something does happen and we chose, deliberately, not to prepare?
Be Prepared is much more than just the Boy Scout Marching Song. It needs to be everyone’s concern everywhere. Maybe we can’t be prepared for everything at all times, but we can reduce the chance that we will be less prepared, or not prepared at all, for the things that life throws at us. And, just maybe, be just a bit wiser for the experience in the process.
Photo credit courtesy “Mary C. Cox captured this image of Venus in bright twilight on December 29, 2013. It’s her nephew pointing toward the planet.” Photo borrowed for inspiration, not used for profit. Photo via http://earthsky.org/space/visible-planets-tonight-mars-jupiter-venus-saturn-mercury. #KeepLookingUp #ScienceRules
OK, like you didn’t see that one coming. Like peanut butter and jelly (or, in Memphis’ case, peanut butter and banana), you can’t have Rule #2 without Rule #3, and I was using this/these rules long before they were ever put into book titles, so don’t think about suing me over a turn of phrase.
Yes, you’re right (for those of you thinking it): it is a bit of an oddball phrase, given that some things in life are bound to be some of the big things. In my experience, not many. The big ones are really big, and I have been through enough of them over my life, most specifically in the last decade (plus a few more) or so, including getting married, having a son, moving to Memphis, getting a divorce, becoming a single father when my ex-wife turned out to be a very good closet alcoholic/painkiller addict, which ultimately claimed her life, getting married again and becoming a dad to a wonderful daughter. Not bad for a decade plus-or-minus-a-few, but the up and downs of that trip would make even the most hardened stock market analyst reach for the Dramamine and run to the bathroom for some alone time.
In essence: there is nothing huge about a lot of what you go through. Overdrawn checking account? Flat tire? IRS accidentally swapping your tax ID with a drywall company in Asheville, NC? (True story, I kid you not.) It happens. That’s life. Seriously: that’s it and that’s all. I meet a lot of people that complain a bit too much about how terrible they have it, not daring to look around the corner at someone who’s got it worse, turning the TV station when an ad comes on imploring for help for abused animals or hungry kids around the world, which – in my humble opinion – is the coward’s equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears and saying LA LA LA LA LA as loud as possible to drown out reality. Can’t be done. Just can’t.
The minor bumps and bruises can’t compare to the really good things in life, if you know what to look for and when to look for it. Some times all you can do is smile and laugh to avoid breaking down altogether when life gangs up on you and causes your day to be one of the worst it can be in quite some time. You’ve always got the option to look on things to the best of your ability, and to make things better for you and those around you as much as you can. Accept the fact that things are going to change, sometimes not in your favor.
Again: my opinion from somewhere north of Yoknapatawpha County. Don’t like it? Go get your own blog. Stay tuned for Rule Number 4, coming to stores that sell these fine K-Tel records!