I have a brother who has a thankless job.
He’s a severe weather warning meteorologist, covering southern Ontario in Canada.
Whenever there is severe weather, be it expected or unexpected, I can find him in the news. He’ll get interviewed and quoted by journalists (most recently, at time of writing, here).
Tornadoes, lightning strikes, blizzards, hurricanes . . . . . for all of them, he’s the face of Environment Canada’s weather forecasting service.
Get the forecast right, and he doesn’t get thanked, he’s just doing his job. Get it wrong . . . . . and he gets it in the neck.
What peeves me about this most recent blizzard event in New England is not that the forecasters got it wrong. They didn’t. They predicted a blizzard, and there was one. It just wasn’t as severe (in New York City, at least) as their mathematical models and scientific judgement predicted.
A friend recently copied me a blog post by one Ben Sandilands. Ben is an Australian journalist who writes on a variety of topics, one of which is the Australian aerospace scene, which understandably tends to be dominated by news about Qantas.
Qantas has had a hard time recently. It’s A380’s were delivered late. On Nov 4, 2010, one of them suffered an uncontained engine failure inflight, causing significant disruption to its traffic plans. And the Boeing 787s it has ordered are already two years late, and show every sign of being at least 4 years late by the time the first one is delivered. Ben does a good job of documenting these issues.
Of the bad news in the aerospace industry recently, Qantas and Boeing have certainly had their fair share. And to some extent, I’m not really that bothered. I know this industry. People make mistakes, and the resulting bad headlines tend to be concentrated in waves. That’s normal.
But one paragraph in this recent blog post troubles me:
Or Anything Else That’s Boring, for that matter.
The secret is simple: Tell them something they’re absolutely not expecting and not wanting to hear.
Yesterday, a mate and I drove 90 minutes into south Wales for what was expected to be an afternoon of gorge climbing. It had sounded delightful when I booked it. We’d done some climbing last spring up in north Wales, some 1000-metre hills in Snowdonia. Really fun stuff. Gorge climbing sounded pretty tame in comparison.
I should have twigged when the email came that confirmed our booking and asked my height and weight, so’s they’d have an appropriate wetsuit.
It’s amazing how the mind can filter out stuff it doesn’t want to hear.