Wednesday, January 12, 2011

An Unreasonable Quantity of Snow Days in Atlanta

And now, a blog about snow.

It's 5:43 pm on a lovely Wednesday afternoon in Sandy Springs, Georgia, where we've been snowed- and iced- in for the past few days. Last Monday was supposed to be my return to Georgia Tech, research, and classes, but instead I've been here ever since, spending plenty of time with the wife and kids while getting really, really sick of the available convenience foods. I got very excited about the possibility of walking down to Panda Express this evening for some real grub, but alas that my giftcard will go as yet unspent: they closed two hours ago due to a lack of customers braving the treacherous roads for quality Chinese. Heavy sigh.

In the meantime, I've managed to get my submission in for the Academy of Management's annual conference later this year: a paper relating self-monitoring tendencies (that's how likely you are to adjust your behavior, different from what it would normally be, to be more socially appropriate) to authentic leadership (that's a school of positive leadership you don't see often enough in the real world, focused on being honest, guided by morals, understanding your strengths and weaknesses, and listening to ideas, feedback, and opinions from others). The short version is that I believe they are related: the long version is that I believe it's a very complicated relationship, made moreso by the difference between self-monitoring inclination and ability, and the fact that people who are more authentic and true-to-themselves tend to be less likely to take the opinions of others seriously.

It's interesting stuff (to me, at least), because I think authentic leadership is a very positive thing for the business world and organizations in general. We don't want leaders who don't care about the people who work with them, who are dishonest, or don't value others' opinions; we could get Kenny Chesney to do all of that for us if we really wanted. Thus, I'm very interested in what types of people are more likely to lead authentically: if I know that, then I can help organizations select or elect the best leaders. That would, I think, make the world just a little bit of a better place. And lest I forget, making the world a little better is what my new career path should be focused on, and not all of the interesting diversions I encounter along the way.

See, I've had the opportunity to work with and read the work of a lot of business scholars and academics lately... and they certainly don't cease to amaze me with their brilliance. One thing that does concern me about some of them (some of them, mind you - certainly not all of them) is that they don't really care about the rest of the world. They'll find some interesting little strategic issue or psychological problem with no real-world implications, and they'll devote years of their lives to finding an answer. This answer, while having absolutely no practical use to anybody else in the world, is terribly interesting to them. And it can help their career. So they go with it.

I find myself surrounded by interesting problems and questions on a weekly basis, many of which have absolutely no use in the real world. And I sometimes find myself having to stop myself, because I joined the ranks of Organizational Behavior students and academics to, as Dr. Anthony Ricci said, improve the human condition in the workplace. I believe that even if I can only make a small impact, that's a lot better than making no impact at all.

Besides, most professors teach at public universities, which means they're taxpayer-funded. Shouldn't professors, then, do work that benefits the body public?

But none of this digression is about snow, so perhaps I should cut it short, given the title of this blog.

One thing I've learned while being stuck at home these past few days is that my beloved wife has developed somewhat odd television viewership habits. She starts the day with reruns of Cheers, Frasier, and the Cosby Show, all of which I can heartily approve of. From that point, though, she starts to lose me. She Netflixes some show called 30 Rock, which as far as I can tell is a self-referential advertisement for NBC and Saturday Night Live in which the Sarah Palin-lookalike acts like a stereotypical sitcom character, while the audio guys play way too much bass. Seriously, I was in the bathroom and the shower head was shaking. Debby then enjoys a show starring an aged version of Elaine from Seinfeld, in which she tries drugs and jokes that Christmas would be better "without all the Jesus stuff." Then she watches some show with Doogie Howser doing things that I'm fairly certain his parents wouldn't approve of.

Now, I'm not trying to be judgmental - I'm not one who can throw stones in this arena. After all, I've gone on record saying that a show with puppets singing is about as intellectual as television comedy has ever been. Obviously my opinion on quality television is moot, so I can't say if Debby has good or bad taste. Although what I can say is, "Damn, have you seen the Milton Berle episode, and the way Statler & Waldorf heckled him and Fozzie Bear? Does it get any funnier than that?"

However, I will be judgmental on the kinds of commercials played on daytime TV in Atlanta. We haven't seen the average commercials - instead we've seen ads for court reporting schools, lawyers for accident victims, medical transcription schools, lawyers for unsatisfied medical patients, heating and A/C repair schools, lawyers for people suing truckers, admistrative assisting schools, lawyers for people who want to jump in on class-action lawsuits, and AT&T. I'm not sure exactly what this says about AT&T, but I will say it just makes me even happier that I recently switched to Verizon. (big apologies to all of my old friends who still work at AT&T; sorry, but you've really got to do something about the network)

But none of that is about snow either. Oops.

As I've been stuck in the apartment, I've spent more time with Benjamin and Kristopher, who have responded to the snow by doing something I would have previously thought impossible: pooping more. Seriously, it can get pretty amazing. And smelly. Amazingly smelly. Despite the incredible reduction in body weight they must experience after every session of this, they continue to grow, smile, and babble. I continue to work with them on acceptable first words: "Rock Band", "Plutonium", and "Daddy" are all on that list.

Wait, that's not about snow either. Dang, I stink at this.


  1. Hrm... welll...... I always thought Tina Fey was a Debby Lemoine look-alike, to be honest :)

    And the show with Doogie is one I watch regularly, too - It can be rather funny. Or maybe I just really like shows with Alyson Hannigan.

    I'd like to request more talk about Chick-Fil-A. I'm hungry.