"Sedenquist's Rule of Serial Consequences"
Some folks think that road trips are just accidents waiting to happen. On this Forum, we make a point of showing the pitfalls and the thrills of road trips. In my latest MSNBC column I propose a way of planning for getting out of scary or otherwise dangerous situations.
I would like to know what you think of this concept.
Hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst.
A similar concept is also very prevalent in the engineering disciplines, where one small mistake may not ruin a project, but add one or two more, and everything falls apart.
And True Across Disciplines
We also see this over and over again in flying accidents, where a given crash is almost never the result of a single bad decision or equipment malfunction, but the result of successive poor choices that each reduce the margin of error until there is none left, and the last 'straw', that would have been almost inconsequential in its own right, cements the downward spiral. I don't know that I'd ever put a 'magic number' on the number of bad decisions needed to end in tragedy, but rather the pilot or driver in command must be aware that he or she is always making decisions that affect the safety of the trip and that in each decision, they should be looking to optimize their margin of safety and maximize the number of options still available to them. I think this is also one of the basic concepts taught in Defensive Driving where the driver is always looking for his 'out' option(s) in the event the other driver does the incredibly stupid, because while he won't always, he will eventually.
Very Good Article!
I think most aspects of life whether it be work or pleasure has the ability to fall completely apart due to a bad decision. A tax return where the accountant agreed to add a few questionable deductions can lead to a lawsuit and an IRS investigation. That's why you always carry lots of malpractice insurance and double and triple check your work.
Was this a personal memory?
I met with our CPA team today -- good folks --
Originally Posted by lhuff
Nope - not personal
...thank goodness. I take my risks on the road, not on the tax return. I've just heard too many horror stories at conferences and from other accountants over the years.
Good article, full of sage advice that many of us know (or ought to know) and don't practice as faithfully as we should.
Suzanne was looking over my shoulder as I was reading and reminded me of the times we've been on hikes in heat, or cold or rain without hats, water, maps or food ("we're only going for a short walk" we'd say upon starting out). And the times we've started too late and had to make our way back in the dark.
The best outcome of what could have been a pretty bad situation was when we left on snowshoe hike at about 1pm thinking that our route was a relatively level couple of miles round trip (we were fully supplied on this excursion), only to find that the hill we had to climb back up (it seemed so easy going down) was exhausting! By the time we got to the top the sun was down, but the moon was coming up...full! We had a great walk the last half mile or so through the woods and snow-filled meadows by the light of the moon (oops...no flashlight).
We've made similar transgressions on roadtrips. The most notable example was our visit to Canyonlands and the spur of the moment decision to drive the White Rim Trail. Again we started down the road at about 1pm on what we knew was a 100 mile loop. We figured "100 miles at an average of 20mph is 5 hours...we'll be back by 6pm and sunset is about 6:30...no problem"). Well, the average speed is closer to 9mph, and in the canyon the sun goes down closer to 5:30 or 6pm so we drove the last 6 hours in the dark. Yes, the 100 mile trip took 11 hours! But we were prepared...kind of. We were driving a Jeep Cherokee with a full tank of gas so the car could handle the "trail" (an apt description). We had water and some Powerbars. We always carry emergency tools, first aid kit and such, and there were 2 or 3 campgrounds along the way so we weren't completely alone, but we were pretty much alone most of the way.
After it got dark, we found that following the trail was difficult...all but impossible. We agreed that if we ever lost the trail completely we'd just stop there for the night. Several times I had to get out and take a flashlight to figure out where the trail went as it crossed over slick rock with nothing but a few cairns to mark the way. And once we got to the top of a steep hill and, with the headlights pointing almost straight up, couldn't see which way the road went as it decended the other side. Again, I had to get out and direct Suzanne which way to continue (she always drives on these kinds of roads because she can't stand to be a passenger).
It was a memorable trip, not just for the scenery we did get to see, but also for the experience of feeling your way in difficult, unfamiliar territory using little more than our wits.
Oh well, all's well that ends well, so they say. As long as it ends well.
co-author of the travel guide: America's Living History-The Early Years
A memorable trip....
Thanks for sharing this story -- I, too, have made some peculiar choices in judgment from time to time on the road --
Originally Posted by RedCorral
Another and so-preventable tragedy in DV
This article in today's LA Times makes me heartsick.
A young woman and her son headed out overland in a jeep with little water, no maps, virtually no food and became trapped in deep sand off the highway. Latest information is that she was traveling on a road she'd never researched and relying on GPS receiver for navigation.
The 11-year old boy died a day before the search party could find them. They were stranded in the desert for five days!
So sad. So unnecessary.
Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 08-08-2009 at 09:48 AM.
I saw that too...
The thing that struck me in the version I saw (of all the things that went wrong that led to the fatal result) was the fact that although their plans seemed to call for a return by Monday, nobody called authorities until late Wednesday. Those two days were critical.
Drives home the point that when you go off into the boonies, you need to make sure someone knows where you're going, when you're due back, and when to alert authorities. It may be just a log at a trail-head, or a buddy back home; but if you're going someplace you may get stuck, it's cheap insurance to make sure someone knows your plans.
I've violated it too often myself, and I'm sure the poor friends and family who finally DID call it in are suffering a lot of "what if's" right now.
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