Monday, December 11, 2017

If I were in their place

He said,"We drove instead of biking.  We have lost all self-respect."  He was kidding.  He was referring to the idea that we should walk or bike.  The notion is to exercise one's muscles and not drive or make other use of fossil fuel, such as gasoline.  Contrast that with someone who lives where there is rarely any snow, whose local airport has shut down for fear of ice on the runway, whose schools have closed.  

Right now it is 24° F outside or -4.44 Celsius.  The wind is 5 mph which makes it feel like 19° F or -4 C.  Some people feel that is nicely cool and some feel that is dangerously, horribly cold.  The conditions are similar to what they have been all day.  

It can be a matter of what a person is used to, but it is often a matter of equipment.  Having a down coat along with the added necessities of good gloves (often mittens are needed), a good hat, and maybe a scarf to keep the neck, throat and chest protected from cold air may allow anyone to be comfortable at 24° F.  For some people, long underwear, often worn over one's shorts and undershirt, is needed to feel comfortable.  Sometimes, a face mask or balaklava is needed.

When, years ago, I participated in my only winter Audubon local bird count, my experienced friend said after a couple of hours outside, that I needed to stop immediately and go inside.  My nose was showing a white spot, a sign of the beginning of frostbite.  

Soon, we will have lived in the north for 50 years.  We have spent several winter vacations in southern Alabama, southern Texas and northern Florida.  We lived in Maryland and D.C. before the north.  

Many people seem to think first of human feelings and psychology.  But, one of the most helpful thinkers I have ever studied is W.E. Deming.  The man did much to improve the US census, Japanese manufacturing and then American manufacturing.  His is a name often associated with quality circles and total quality management.  His ideas focus on trying to improve what we do and he emphasized that most human errors are attributable to the system, the surroundings.  

Mostly we don't think that way.  We often like to blame someone personally.  If the northerners did such and such, if the southerners did things differently… Mostly, friends, you will find that most people are conscientious and clever.  You can translate that into "if you were in their position, you would probably do the same thing."

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