Framing Dangers

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From my 2015 beach trip

Hurricane Michael leveled much of Mexico Beach, which is a place I know pretty well. Spread out over my lifetime, but a rough impression is, I think, I have spent about half a year at this particular town. That would rank it third longest of places where I have lived.

Several people have expressed surprise about this hurricane was as strong as it was. I wonder if part of the problem is communication. This hurricane quickly intensified. A meteorologist I follow from UGA wrote Tuesday morning when it had increased to a Cat 2:

Michael will likely be a Major Hurricane (Category 3 or higher) at landfall.

And on Monday in Forbes:

As I write this, the [Big Bend] region is staring at the very real possibility of a strong category two or major hurricane (Category 3 or higher) making landfall in the Wednesday-Thursday time frame this week.

He was communicating this storm was quickly intensifying and to expect something far stronger than the usual storms that strike this area. People I love live in Valdosta, which was being named dropped over and over as a likely target for the storm after it made landfall. Everyone I know chose to hunker down and ride it out even as the likely winds to hit Valdosta increased through tropical storm to Cat 1 and Cat 2. People with large trees that could cave in the roof of their homes. My wife’s extended family in the Panama City area also chose to stay.

Why? I called my mother to encourage her to come to stay with us because Valdosta was in the path. She didn’t want to leave. My mother described that Hermine was pretty bad, but it wasn’t that bad for them. A tree damaged just a corner of the roof. Hermine was also a Category 1 with 80 mph winds where it came ashore and probably down to tropical storm strength where Mom lives. Thankfully Michael came ashore well west of Hermine and tracked away from Valdosta family, so they were spared the worst part. We still have not heard from most of my wife’s Panama City family.

So, while meteorologists were trying to say, “this is going to be really bad,” people didn’t really hear it that way. Mom is someone who took meteorology courses in college and wasn’t getting the message. The UGA one has a timeline defending that the NWS did enough to provide notice.

4 am Monday CDT (October 8): …  there is a real possibility that Michael will strengthen to a major hurricane before landfall.

He also said:

Yes, the rapid intensification was shocking but there was plenty of information hinting or explicitly stating that a major hurricane (even category 4) was possible.

I guess my point is hints are not enough. The reason why stores have prices ending in 99 cents is that one extra cent difference lowers sales because people tend to have the impression it is more expensive. Saying “3 or higher” pins people to think 3, not 4 or 5. This effect, called Framing, is pretty well studied in how people make poor decisions because of it. Even marketers study how to use it to influence shoppers. Maybe if some behavioral economics experiments are done to see show Framing affects the way people interpret meteorological messaging, scientists looking not to overstate what they are seeing may learn they are inadvertently giving people a different impression than intended. It is a struggle to be sure, to find the correct way to communicate this stuff.

RollCall For The Helicopter Child

The AJC had an interesting article about RollCall Safety Text, an app which automates “I’m OK” messages for loved ones. Failing to get such a message lets someone know something might be wrong. The intended audience is for kids off at college to send these to parents. There is a note near the bottom:

While the app came about with college students in mind, Thomas says it can also be useful to people who have family members whom they don’t see or hear from daily.

This fits my situation with my parents. I guess that makes me a helicopter child. (OK that’s hyperbolic.) Both are pretty independent and quite capable. But, if something were to happen, then it very well could be a long time before someone noticed. I’m reminded of a great-aunt who had a stroke and no one knew until her neighbors noticed her in the yard.

At present I kind of already have this as one of them is on Facebook and likes pretty much everything (I think more to indicate it has been read than an actual indication of liking it). Seeing these on my posts is my equivalent of RollCall. And yes, I did call this parent once when I realized I had not seen anything in a few days.

The other? Yeah, it might be good to have something like RollCall.

 

Drinking Sweet Tea

Amber Yellow circle ring pattern glasses
Amber Yellow circle ring pattern glasses

… from a glass which my mother gave me from my grandmother’s estate. There is nothing physically valuable about it. Just simple melted silicon with maybe sulfur. (Maybe they are something friends who collect things from the 60s and 70s would like.)

Found them on listed on Etsy as:

Amber Yellow circle ring pattern glasses: 3 Nice Amber-Yellow glasses. They have a 70s vibe, circle/ring pattern. Would make a nice large glass of tea on a hot summer day. Enjoy!

So it is funny that I am drinking tea on a hot summer day (the thing the description above says to use them for).

Their value is in reminding me of hanging out on her deck playing a game, talking about the plans for how to improve the flowers, mowing her yard, and playing with my cousins. Oh, and watching movies she recorded on her VCR.

They make me smile. 🙂

Family Stories

The adult table was the place to be growing up. I knew a story was particularly good when an adult looked at me, looked at my Mom, and my Mom asked me to leave the room AND close the door. I became pretty good at silently listening at that or another door (or the window when I got taller).

Photos are nice, but they are frozen moment in time. The moments leading to the photo, the significance, and how things changed are all not captured. The story does.

My grandmother wrote down her stories at one point, I think around 2003. With my digital point-and-click camera acquired in 2005 being able to take video, I thought about recording her telling them, but she commented on the camera any time I had it out. Then I noticed she stopped commenting about the camera, so when I had her to myself for a week in 2008, I recorded many stories and otherwise just getting her to talk. Occasionally since, when she was in a talkative mood and my camera was available, I would get more.

Maybe my sibling and cousins will find them interesting.

I definitely need to do the same with my parents.

Merry Christmas

Christmas Tree

So far it has been a good day. My grandmother the whole family has rallied around appears to be improving. The rest of the family are doing well. Friends are scattered to the four winds to visit with family.

I am content. It as been a good year.

Home Again


Had a great visit with family over the past week. I really do love my family. I ought to visit more often. After all, the point of not moving too far away was to make it EASIER to visit. Maybe I do live too far away?

The extended family is all over the world and visits my grandmother much less than I do. I could call, email, or chat through Facebook more. 🙂