Sunday, September 12, 2004

Lessons from the Cone of Probability

  • When reporters and anchors have been covering a hurricane for four days straight, they get a little punchy:
    • A reporter describing the dangers of debris flying around during the storm, “I have to be very careful and keep my third eye out.” Then female anchor instructs the reporter to “Be careful out there and keep you third eye out.” Surely they know the third eye is blind?
    • An anchor repeatedly describes a rising river as having “Overflown its banks.”
    • A live caller talking to an on-air weatherman, “I saw the ground breathing around the base of a tree. The ground was moving up and down like it was breathing. Do you know what causes that?” The weatherman: “Ma’am, have you ever seen the movie ‘Ghoulies’?”
  • You will find yourself chatting with total strangers about the availability of potted meats. Stores all over town, for the first time ever, will sell out of SPAM.
  • Don’t butt in line at the gas station when filling up your gas can—or someone will most definitely open a can of whoop-ass on you.
  • There are priorities for how electricity is restored: Hospitals and businesses, your neighbors a few streets over, then the neighbors next to you, then you.
  • You will learn to make coffee on a bar-b-que grill.
  • You will find yourself noticing available power outlets at local stores, then sneaking back later to recharge your laptop.
  • Phones can work without power. However, your fancy 900MHz wireless phone cannot.
  • If your trees get blown off-kilter during hurricane #1, don’t try to straighten them. Hurricane #2 or #3 are most likely coming from a different direction and may blow them back upright.
  • You will come to appreciate the promptness of fast-moving hurricanes over slow-movers.
  • When traffic lights are out, you should treat intersections as four-way stops. However, no one seems to know this rule, treating them instead as four-way go’s.
  • There is nothing more uncertain than probability.