Becoming blindsided creates problems of epic proportions. It doesn’t just cause accidents on highways. The volume of changes that keeps growing, includes subterfuge that is practiced everywhere whether consciously or not. This overloads systems causing surprises and incomplete and incorrect information that is then used in making decisions. Human nature factors in as positives tend to be accentuated and negatives avoided and downplayed. These things impact all of us in one way or another.
Motorists travel in packs and speed unopposed down highways. Companies bury legalistic terms and conditions in fine print and apply hard to distinguish changes to product designs, packaging and warranties. These mask the impacts of cost reductions that lower value propositions and trick consumers to make costly buying errors. Politicians talk about lowering taxes while services decline even faster. Spammers waste our time as they flood email accounts with threats to privacy, identities and livelihoods. We are told what we want to hear, not what we should be told. Even when something is flagged in red, it may still get lost in the noise and not get adequate attention.
These are symptoms of a world that has gotten so complicated and congested that even the most knowledgeable and vigilant among us is unable to avoid distractions and catch everything significant enough to have the potential for serious, negative consequences. Even sophisticated systems designed to detect anomalies and warn of impending disaster are not always enough. For example, weather forecasters were unable to provide actionable intelligence to residents soon enough to prepare for the sudden, severe storms that recently wreaked havoc in the Chicago area with 90-mile per hour winds.
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It is hard to anticipate all the things that can go wrong. One example is consequences of inactivity. Some of them are more serious than others. Some can be reversed, others cannot. Here are a few things that come to mind.
Although some of these may seem to be of minor consequence, collectively they can add up and have a major impact. Not only can some of them be wasteful, they can also cause fires if left unattended for long periods of time. Just like changing batteries in fire and carbon monoxide detectors, it is a good idea to check around on a regular basis.
Surprising things can happen. My thermostat batteries failed prematurely. When it happened a second time, I realized that each time there had been an extended power outage. While the power was out, the thermostat had been futilely trying to turn on the furnace or air-conditioner. This is what drained the battery.
The same thing can happen if a battery is being charged when there is a power outage. Batteries can be ruined if they fully discharge. It is best to pull plugs and turn off circuits when there is a power failure. In any event, when power is restored, there can be excessive loads and power surges if loads are not added a little at a time. Motors require about three times as much current to start than they use to keep running.