Being Agile in the Face of Hurricane Sandy

By Brian Lucas

This one is for Jessica! – Brian

“The value of compassion cannot be over-emphasized.  Anyone can criticize.  It takes a true believer to be compassionate.  No greater burden can be borne by an individual than to know no one cares or understands.” – Arthur H. Stainback

This is not a post I would normally write[1].  Hurricane Sandy however, had such a terrible effect on so many in the northeast.  So, after much persuasion, I was drafted by many of my friends and colleagues to talk about how I dealt with the storm.  While the effects of Sandy on my property were very minor, my thoughts go out to all who lost loved ones, suffered terrible damage or were set back in their lives and careers.

Even those who did not experience significant loss or damage were subjected to a disturbing previously unknown fear.  We were inundated with information about Sandy, for a considerable time, prior to her striking.  This gave warning and allowed some of us to prepare. Many also began to imagine the worse and become apprehensive about the reality of a large tropical storm making an uncharacteristic landfall on the northeast coast of the United States.  How this relates to agile, can be seen in the 14 points I have included in the footnotes.  I put these in the footnotes, so as not to interrupt the flow of the story itself.  The points allow those interested, to understand how I feel agile thinking and behavior can and should pervade all aspects of our life and work. There is also a hidden message here for those who are curious to find.  It leads to a treasure not of gold, but far more precious and lasting.

I regularly follow[2] the atmospheric scientific data on the meteorology, climatology, atmospheric physics, and atmospheric chemistry; as well as the hydrology considerations of hydrometeorology concerning climate change.  Having done so over the last 5 years; I was predicting and prepared for serious storm weather impacting the northeast in ways unprecedented in recent history.  The old saying “Fore warned is fore armed” is apt here.  So I created a vision[3] of being able to survive a storm at my house.  I derived a basic plan[4] in order to fulfill my vision.  It had two components to the plan: psychological and physical preparation. In creating the plan, I first drew on my existing[5] basic survival[6] knowledge as a backpacker, camper and hiker.  Then I did some initial research[7] into violent weather survivability.

In implementing my plan[8], one of the first acts I took was to ensure I would be notified of bad weather.  I found and installed two different weather applications on my cell.  One gives me day-to-day and emergency data, another does long term predictions.  I have alerts set up on both applications.  I am made aware of any impending serious meteorological conditions, even if I am too busy to do my daily weather check.  I do these checks so I am not surprised.  Eliminating or minimizing the possibility of surprise is a great way to prevent panic.  So psychologically, I was prepared for the storm.  Because of this preparedness, I first heard about Sandy on my Droid Bionic cell phone long before it became popular in other media.

When Sandy began to rear her head in the news, I began to physically prepare.  I laid in a supply of canned goods, dry goods, coffee[9], tea[10], jerky[11], bread, bottled[12] water, soap, bird[13] and cat[14] food, first aid supplies, kerosene, 20 pound LPG tanks for indoor/outdoor heaters and my grill.  I washed all my clothes, took cash out, filled the gas tank in my car and filled a 5 gallon can with gas. I took in the waste cans, bird bath, wild animal water dishes, bird feeder, lawn furniture and fastened down the grill. Sharpened the chain saw chains and got the axe handy. I also began exhausting the food in my freezer and refrigerator and not replacing it.

Back in September, I had decided to enclose the wrap around screened in porch on my Victorian style house with plastic; in order to enjoy some time with friends who were cigar smokers during the colder weather.  I briefly worried about the plastic holding through the storm.  I considered adding a lattice work tacked on top of the plastic inside.  However since the plastic was inside the screening, I held off[15] on this step.

As Sandy approached, a surprisingly large number of my friends, neighbors, colleagues, acquaintances and downright complete strangers were calling me, texting me, emailing me and even stopping me as I was walking by and asking me what I thought was going to happen.  I sensed a number of my friends were under a considerable amount of apprehension[16] about the impact the storm could have.  Some were highly sensitized by the ice storm we had in October of 2011, when many lost electrical power for days, even weeks.  As the storm approached and they were being bombarded by reports; their angst increased daily.  Rather than just tell those who were suffering this emotional distress to suck it up; I decided to do something[17] to ameliorate their travail.  Since my porch was now enclosed; I hit upon the “logical” idea of having everyone over for a hurricane[18] party[19].  I texted a group and they all responded pretty much in the same vein, “What an insane idea! What time is it and what should I bring?”

I have always subscribed to the psychological thought that you need to face your fears in order to get over them.  It doesn’t have to be under the worst conditions to be effective, however. Now sitting on a plastic enclosed porch in the midst of a hurricane is definitely facing a fear[20].  To keep everyone distracted and also teach them to be agile/adaptive and a basic survival skill to boot; I decided to cook on the top[21] of my kerosene heater.  I wanted to take advantage of the fire element.  Even though fire has an element of danger, especially in a storm, it also has a remarkably calming effect on the human psyche.  This reaches far back[22] in time and is, I believe now, a part of our genetic memory.  I needed something that could simmer and fill the porch with tantalizing aromas.  I decided to cook Italian sausage, sweet peppers and diced potatoes in tomato sauce with fennel, sage, thyme, crushed red pepper and garlic.  A friend of mine who makes his own wine supplied a marvelously young red to complement the meal.  Cooking in front of their eyes over the heater and using it for a dual purpose proved to be a point of fascination[23] for all.

We ate early, before the storm got to it full fury.  Having a good meal under their belt calmed everyone down a bit.  We were well into the port, scotch and various other liquors, when Sandy began to favor us with increased rage.  Of course I was foolish enough to mention that the plastic was holding up well.  As soon as I did that, WHAP; it ripped off the corner that was bearing the majority of the stress.  We instantly sprang (with great agility) to this misbehaving area to hold it in place before it could rip further.  I put some more tape on this section and re-stapled it.  Just as we were sitting down again another part gave way.  After a dozen episodes of this reprehensible excuse for aerobic exercise; we experienced a lull, and I, still not having learned my lesson, foolishly stated, “that’s got it!” BRANG!  Sandy took that as an insult to her indomitable nature and blew open the screen door.  It probably would have blown off its hinges, but the edge of it hit my truck which was parked in the driveway.  How fortunate!  We then tied the door shut.

A biologist friend of mine then suggested that we begin to purposely cut slits in the plastic to let the air pressure equalize and relieve the stress.  That began an argument about atmospheric pressure, wind vectors, ambient pressure, Blaise Pascal[24],  negative pressure, kinematic[25] pressure, surface pressure, fluid pressure, vapor pressure, the tensile strength of polymers, etc. There was a sudden lull in Sandy’s wind force.  I think we were boring her to death[26].  Needless to say I did not[27] cut slits in the plastic to let the wind out or in, though there was a considerable amount of hot air being generated on the porch.  Not just from the kerosene heater I might add.

Just when I had put some coffee on, Sandy awoke with a renewed fury (she must have smelled my coffee – damn).  SPLAT! WRAP! FLAP! The plastic broke loose in three different areas all at once.  Everyone dove for a flapping section and endeavored to hold it in place and keep it from tearing further.  I decided my strategy (plan) wasn’t working and decided to upgrade my response to the changing environment.  I got some scrap wood trim I had and a battery powered brad nail gun and tacked the unruly plastic down.  Just as we were finishing, someone (not me) was idiotic enough (some people never learn a lesson) to say, “Well that’s got it!”  Sandy’s response was to begin a campaign of constantly tearing loose a new section of plastic.  So for the next hour we were continually getting a new piece of trim and tacking the plastic back up.  It began to look like I was building a porch within a porch.

Finally we had all the plastic tacked down.  We were sitting down once again to rest and enjoy[28] the suddenly shifting cigar smoke patterns in the air as Sandy’s wind direction changed on a dime.  CRACK! CREAK! A huge elm tree in my neighbor’s yard was uprooted and began to fall.  A friend of mine, not noted for having gazelle like attributes, managed to leap over my chair, me, my cigar and cup of coffee (with a liberal portion of Rye). He ended up in my kitchen from this prodigious single bound, peering around the door jamb rather like a naughty three year old who has just knocked down mom’s favorite lamp before the “K” in creak finished.  Now if that is not agile, I don’t know what is.  At this point, there was a bright flash that resembled something between a giant arc welder and a lightening bolt striking us and the power went out.  From the sound of the crash, it sounded like it landed near my one friend’s Audi.  He of course valiantly prepared to charge out there and protect his car.

I interposed myself[29] in the doorway and reasoned with him intellectually with logic and by way of my being 6 foot tall and 215 pounds, that leaving the relative safety of the porch was foolish and there was nothing he could do anyway.  So as not to keep you in the same suspense he was, I will tell you now that his cherished vehicle was unharmed.  Why it is cherished is beyond me since it spends as much time in the shop as on the road.  Everyone was rather apprehensive at this point, so I decided to implement another change in our plan and scale back my vision.  If you remember, I thought we would ride out the entire storm on the porch.

Since it was getting a bit too ambitious to remain with the original plan we retreated to the kitchen and I lit a fire in the kitchen fireplace.  Everyone grabbed something from the porch that needed to be taken in without being told[30] to do it.  With the door to the porch shut; the voice of the storm became muted.  The fire was calming.  We began to return to the original intent of the party to eliminate the fear of Sandy.  We talked[31] and laughed about our experience, threw some more logs on the fire.  Before we knew it Sandy had moved on.  We had accomplished our goal.  Actually all our goals were accomplished.  The porch plastic was still in place.  We had an experience that everyone felt was positive.  We bonded[32] as a team.  We had survived and even we felt thrived in a challenging and dynamic environment[33].  That is being agile!  So remember till next time in all things, keep agile!

[1] I am writing this story with intentional humor, although I have actually toned down the rather ribald jocularity that was present at the time.  I have also written this very quickly (2 hours) with only one quick review (30 minutes) due to time pressures of other activities, but I wanted to respond to my reader’s requests for another post.  I realize that not everyone was in a position to prepare for Sandy as I did.  No matter what your circumstances, there are always those that are less fortunate.  It is impossible for one person to help everyone, but we can all do our part.  Sharing what you have with those who have less, is a lesson I learned from my mother early in childhood.  Some of my neighbors struggled in the aftermath of Sandy without power and short on edibles.  I shared the majority of my food supplies with them.  Others ran power lines over to their houses so they could have some power.  The point is everyone did something to help others.

[2] Point one in being agile is always keep your eyes and ears open.  And of course leverage free high quality information resources for things that could affect you negatively or positively.

[3] Point two in being agile is to have a vision; one that is not purely selfish.

[4] Point three in being agile is to have a basic plan. The plan is not set in stone; it’s only a starting point.

[5] Point four in being agile is to always leverage every scrap of knowledge you have to begin with; this means sitting down a doing some serious thinking.

[6] Something I always enjoy very much is backpacking, on foot or horseback, in the very wild, remote areas for 3 weeks.  I take only two weeks of food, (homemade pemmican is a fantastic food source, I put meat, wheat germ, oats, dried fruit, honey, kelp, chocolate, and nuts into my pemmican it can be eaten straight or made into a soup). I live off the land for the final week.

[7] Point five in being agile is to always do some research up front. With all the resources available today it is criminal not to do so.

[8] Point six in being agile is to always get some motion and not procrastinate in implementing a part of your plan.  It doesn’t have to be a big part, in fact it shouldn’t be.  As my interview with John Vernotica shows the importance of making a start cannot be overstated.

[9] I’ll admit to also laying in a supply of scotch, cognac, bourbon, whisky, vodka, rye, rum, absinthe, gin, beer, cigars and pipe tobacco, as well, strictly for friends of course.

[10] Hot green tea is still a great treatment for emotional shock, although I am very fond of Earl Grey Tea at tea time and Jasmine tea in the evening.

[11] Coffee, jerky and beans or bacon are real cowboy food I eat when horseback camping. There is nothing like a coffee perked in a porcelain pot over a fire made with creosote wood.  It adds a dramatically unique flavor and of course bacon toasted over an open flame, served with beans and pan bread is a phenomenal way to start and end the day.

[12] I also filled several 3 gallon water containers from my reverse osmosis (RO) water system see Employee Suggestions for details on bottled water (bad) versus RO systems (good).

[13] My yard is the Waldorf Astoria for a surprisingly large number of animals such as Blue Jays, Robins, Song Sparrows, Black Cap Chickadees, Cardinals, House Finches, Gold Finches, Red-headed Woodpeckers, Grey Catbirds, Northern Mockingbirds, Purple Grackles, Tufted Titmice, Redwing Blackbirds, Nuthatches, etc. and the occasional Owl.  There are also a plethora of squirrels that enjoy the Black Walnut trees and numerous rabbits (there is no such thing as two rabbits).  My resident ground hog, who lives in a corner of my garden (we have an agreement I plant and pull specific crops for him and he doesn’t raid my garden) as well as transient visits from possums, red fox, skunks (I have another agreement with the skunks after raising two young ones whose mother was hit be a car) and raccoons. They enjoy the oil type sunflower seeds and natural food sources and ground covers I have planted as well as the heated bird bath and fresh ground water I put out daily.

[14] I have a cat called Penelope who is an indoor cat.  She was a feral kitten, mostly Russian Blue, who was the size of a mouse and just born when I found her in a field.  She was crying her head off and struggling to run to me through grass that was 5 times taller than she was. Her mother was nowhere to be seen and she was alone and afraid.  She now sees absolutely no reason to check out of the luxury spa she ended up in and refuses to go outside.

[15] Point seven in being agile is to not do something before you have to, it is not procrastinating.  If you wait until it is actually time to do something you might have more information and can change your mind.

[16] In the immortal words of Larry Fine of the 3 Stooges, “Apprehensive is scared with a college education.”

[17] Point eight in being agile is to adjust and adapt your plan(s) to changing circumstances and environmental demands.

[18] Point nine in being agile is to combine ideas and initiatives and leverage them together to their maximum benefit. The sum being greater than the parts.

[19] Music (ZZ Top), food, drinks, cigars and friends can make a party under any circumstances. Just ask John Vernotica.

[20] For those of you who think this was a crazy idea.  It has been my fortune (or misfortune) to encounter three rather nasty storms at sea while sailing small craft and I can tell you that sitting on a solid mahogany porch with a solid stone wall behind you is much tamer and sane experience.

[21] Before you start yelling I realize that the heater was not designed for this, but I was very careful and it worked out splendidly.

[22] The controlled use of fire dates back to 400,000 years ago and the opportunistic use of fire probably started by lightning can perhaps be traced back as early as 1.4 million years ago.

[23] Yes sometimes my friends and I are easily amused.

[24] The SI unit of pressure (the newton per square meter) is called the pascal after the seventeenth-century philosopher and scientist Blaise Pascal.

[25] Dynamic

[26] Of course it was just one of the natural lulls that happen in tropical storms and hurricanes when you are between the arms (called feeder bands) that reach out from the eye.  Lightening is often prevalent in these bands.

[27] Point ten in being agile is not to change your plan just because someone says so.  Being flexible and adapting does not mean being rudderless or mindless. Think before you change and change when it makes sense.  Don’t wait to be dragged kicking and screaming.

[28] I did warn earlier that at times we are very easily amused.

[29] Point eleven is that at times the executive sponsor and/or facilitator which is the role I was playing here has to be firm and lay down the law for the protection of the team and the initiative.  This is something that should be done very rarely if you want the team to be empowered and efficient.  And this is very, very important if you ever do this and you are wrong.  Admit it completely, apologize and move on don’t cover it up.

[30] Point twelve in being agile is an especially important one if you don’t trust and empower your team you can under no circumstances be agile.  You aren’t a team you are a micromanager.  See The Night of the Deadly Micromanager

[31] Without realizing it we were having an early retrospective to use a Scrum term.

[32] Point thirteen goes hand-in-hand with point twelve which is why I have raised it here and not earlier.  If you don’t have team bonding in you organization there is no way you can be agile.  Team work is the heart-and-sole of an agile lattice organization structure.  See The Imperative of having and Agile Organization Structure

[33] Lucky number point fourteen is that this is the definition of being agile. Thriving in a time of challenge and change.

About Brian Lucas

In his life, Brian Lucas has been a coach, farm worker, forester, health care advocate, life guard, general contractor, mechanic, mixologist, musician/singer (in a rock group), salesman and teacher. Brian has worked as a project manager, technical marketer, methodologist, manager, software architect, systems designer, data modeler, business analyst, systems programmer, software developer and creative writer. These efforts include over a hundred hi-tech initiatives in almost every business and industrial sector as well as government and military projects. Among them, he designed and developed a quality assurance system for the first transatlantic fiber optic communications network, a manufacturing system for a large computer manufacture’s seven manufacturing centers, a data mining system for steel production, an instrumentation system for cable systems, defined requirements for government’s information systems and designed and developed human performance management systems. Brian has educated and mentored many over the years, designing programs to discover and develop talent. He has also lectured extensively to a variety of audiences. Brian is currently devoting as much time as possible to the innovation of business agility and human capital management along with the next generation of agile software development. As an amateur theoretical physicist he is working on joining general relativity and quantum mechanics through a multidimensional time corollary on string theory and negating the uncertainty principle with Louis de Broglie’s wave/particle hypothesis. He is also an avid blue-water sailor and wilderness backpacker. He enjoys billiards, boxing, chess, cooking, famous battle reenactments and war gaming, fencing, flying, gardening, horseback riding, martial arts (particularly Ninjutsu), philosophy and psychology, playing musical instruments (7 so far), poker, rapid-fire target shooting, reading (he tries to read a new book every night), painting with oils, scuba diving, skiing and recently writing novels.
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95 Responses to Being Agile in the Face of Hurricane Sandy

  1. Arlene says:

    I suffered through Sandy and had property damage and I was SCARED. This made me feel better. I could not help but laugh at your dry humor Brian. I also learned something about being agile and as an independent business owner struggling to survive that is important to me. I am going to ask myself from now on if I am being agile. This post was good medicine! I am glad my friend Fran sent it to me. She raves about your blog and apparently with good reason. You are a very sensitive and intelligent man with a great gift.

    • Brian says:

      Thank you Arlene for commenting! I was a little worried about this post because I don’t share much personal information and I did not want anyone to think I was making lite of a serious situation. I am always glad to welcome another friend of the irrepressible Fran onboard.

  2. Sarah says:

    Arlene is right this is well done and helps with the healing. I will remember the post always with a smile and try to be MORE AGILE in all things.

  3. Nichole says:

    What an inventive way to teach agile thinking by telling a story and dealing with a terrible situation with humor and without any sense of disrespect for victims. Brian you are a master story teller and a teacher with God given talents. Please write more like this. I actually gleaned some great ideas about storm preparation from your post because you made the reading interesting and not dry boring facts.

  4. Nichole says:

    Brian, this was a great story told by a master story teller. I have learned so much reading your blog. This story about Sandy and how you prepared was educational and fun. The sensitivity of the quote you used as the lead in was touching. You are not only very intelligent, but compassionate as all your readers could see in how you thought about your friends. Though I am in IT, I am not a developer so I was not familiar with agile. Now you have taught me that agile applies to everything we do. You are a wonderful teacher. I would love to come to your next hurricane party. Ha! Ha!

    • Brian says:

      Just for clarity’s sake I do want everyone to know that this is a different Nichole from the person who commented on 11/17. Let us hope we do not have to have another hurricane party!

    • Carol says:

      Does that mean if you have another hurricane party I can’t come? 

  5. Doreen says:

    Interesting take on keeping agile Brian. I had to read this twice to get your message, but I figured it out. I like this style of teaching. DW

  6. Charlotte says:

    Brian I just love the way you treated this subject. It is a difficult one. I am glad as obviously many of your other readers are that you shared this experience with us. It gives us insight into how you think. I discuss your blog regularly with friends at work and I admit we are all facinated at the prospect of meeting you in person because your writing is so very interesting. Please post more and let us know if you create a Facebook page. cc

  7. Nichi says:

    Ok This had me cracking up in so many places. I guess that was your intention though so well done! 🙂 I was having visuals and they made me laugh hardily. You definitely have a way with words. I had a lot of fun reading this story, and then I got a craving for coffee so at some point you will have to let me sample your brew perked in a porcelain pot over a fire made with creosote wood!!

    • Brian Lucas says:

      Yes Nichi, I wanted to share some laughter wihich is always a good medicine. The visuals could have gone viral on a you tube video – believe me! I will have to do a camp out in my back yard where we will roast a bison chine, cook burbon baked beans and make coffee over a creosote wood fire for the Sandy party team. You are invited – bring your sleeping bag and “cupcakes”!

  8. William says:

    Very creative way to get a message out about being agile and moral in everyday life. You have really expanded agile into a way of life and a philosophy rather than simply a fast development methodology. I am very impressed with your blog. Keep on blogging!

  9. Janet Davies says:

    I was emailed this link by a friend. I was not going to read it–at first. My family suffered no damage from Sandy since we don’t live on the east coast. That is why I was not going to read this. I am glad I finally did. The quote from Stainback caught my eye. I don’t often see him quoted in business blogs, or elsewhere for that matter, so I decided to read your post. Struggling to get ahead in business where executive teams are often cut-throat has made us forget our compassion. As an executive, I believe it is our responsibility to set the tone for our businesses as a part of our vision. What is our moral compass? What kind of member will we actually be in the community our organization resides in? Do we just want to spin-doctor trivial donations or lip service to charities while in reality harming our community? How do we wish to be remembered by posterity? Our vision should be a profitable one, of course, but there is no reason it cannot be benevolent as well. Compassion breeds loyalty. Loyalty breeds commitment. Commitment breeds success. I believe the message that Doreen referred to centers around this. Your vision was to survive the hurricane, but you did not do it selfishly. Of course you achieved your vision of survival, along the way you benefited others and built friendship and brand loyalty for Brian Lucas. I don’t mean to focus on the selfish motives of success here for having compassion can mean sacrificing at times when there is no FINANCIAL payback. An intelligent vision should though include strategic compassion in it for our workers, our community and our customers if we wish to build a lasting legacy. –Janet Davies

    • Brian Lucas says:

      Thank you Janet! You are exactly right that was the hidden/not so hidden message. Thank you for summarizing it so well.

  10. Peter says:

    I think this post was a great idea. You gave us a glimpse into your personality and life which a number of readers (mostly women) were asking for. You expanded the horizons of agile once again, which has made a serious impact on my thinking and I am sure others as well. You taught about the need for morality in your vision. And finally you entertained us. That’s some kind of writing!

  11. Marsha says:

    Wow! This just blew me away! Oh my God this was so funny! Such dry humor! Taking a disaster finding some humor in it while showing compassion for others. Topped off by teaching a valuable lesson. Unbelievable! You are my favorite bookmark from now on!

  12. Christopher Benchly says:

    Amen to what the others have said here. You are an impressive thinker with a tremendous vocabulary and superior writing skills. Now do us all a favor and PLEASE WRITE MORE!!!!!

  13. Arthur says:

    When genious meets keyboard this is what you get. One of the most enjoyable reads I have had in a long time. I will never look at agile the same way agile! Nor storms or friends for that matter!!! Wrapping so many different lessons up into a single piece and making it entertaining is a masterful way to teach. I cannot wait for your next post. -Artie

  14. WilmaB says:

    At first I was annoyed by the title I experienced loss and fear from Sandy. Then I read the quote, was touched by your empathy and I felt ashamed at my snap judgement. Then I read the beginning and I thought it was going to be rather dry. Then I read the actual hurricane part and I laughed so hard I almost cried. Then I read the end and I felt healed. Then I read the footnotes and felt wiser. Thank You!

    • Brian Lucas says:

      Wilma, thank you for sharing your feelings and impressions in such a wonderfully succinct and expressive manner; I treasure your comment!

  15. BarbaraM says:

    My sister who is a business analyst sent me this saying I had to read it. The title threw me I admit. Too funny for words really!!!! Very nice morality play set in 2 acts. If you ever want to leave your computer world and take up writing scripts look me up. You’re a riot!

  16. Mike Swanson says:

    It is hard to believe that a post called being agile in the face of hurricane sandy could have a real business message —- but it did. Being the owner of a small business right now seems like there is a hurricane ever week or at least every month. This post had a number of messages in it about planning, adjusting plans, taking action and —- morality. Lacking morality is one of the ways we got ourselves into some of the mess we are into today —- both as a country and in business. We will get out of it by returning to our moral and enterprising roots of honest pay for honest work —- this includes not only unskilled labor that makes excess wages negotiated by group force but executives earning perhaps 1000 times what the average employee makes. It also includes morality in how you treat your workforce —- integrity is sadly lacking in today’s management thinking. A lesson that I saw here that was not obvious is that long term success needs long term thinking —- about strategic issues like vision and morality and what is your legacy. Thank you for sharing this with us all Brian.

  17. Cho says:

    I truly feel that this article deserves an award for its blend of information, morality and humor. Your blog is a bounty of knowledge on agile thinking and has opened up a new world for me. Please accept my gratitude. Your devoted reader – Cho.

  18. Raymond says:

    Remarkable story of adapting agile thinking to real life outside of IT. Well worth the read! Footnotes are both educational and hilarious.

  19. Marcel says:

    Greetings my friend!!! Yours is a story worth telling for its human interest and the knowledge it imparts. Merci! Please share more of these beautiful writings with us that can teach so much. My brother sent me this yesterday and I read it at work. We are all impressed with your thought. Au revoir mon ami.

  20. Zhang says:

    To the author I say thank you! You teach agile as a method of thinking not a process for software development. This is wise. We are ready to embrace agile here and make it a holistic part of our lives thereby making our business actions as natural and easy as our personal responses. I have not seen anyone else advocate this with your zeal and clarity. This is a story that will hopefully inspire many to think agile.

  21. Richard says:

    What a story! I admit that the title mislead me. I did not want to read another hurricane Sandy story. Both my business and my house were hit hard by Sandy. When I got into it, I could not believe the wealth of information that was packed into this article. As the intro write up from the site I found this on says, it is an armchair tale told as if you were sitting next to Brian in his living room. I might add that Brian tells this story in a manner of wit and wisdom that would have done Will Rogers proud. I have probably reread this 5 times including the footnotes – something which I never do. I wish I had a tenth of Brian’s knowledge and talent!

  22. JamisonTBradley says:

    I cannot image how this article could get any better. The opening quote is something that might cause some to dismiss the post as a bleeding heart saga. What a loss on their part if they don’t continue to read the article. There is a lot of wisdom here much like you would expect from your grandfather if I can use that term without insulting Mr. Lucas. There is a full measure of practicality here balanced with warmth and flavored by humor. I don’t know how old Mr. Lucas is, but he writes with a vibrancy and energy of youth balanced with a wisdom of the ages. I have always prided myself on writing abilities, but I bow to a master. I will join the others who have commented here in your blog and implore you to consider writing books. There is far too much trash published today. We need something golden like this to even up the odds.

  23. BrandonC says:

    Brian, I certainly was not agile during Sandy. I procrastinated. I did not plan and was not proactive at all. To top that off, I was reactive only in the worst possible manner. This article taught me many lessons about how to think differently, specifically in an agile manner. Thanks for posting this. It’s a parable that is going into my bible.

  24. P.Mack says:

    This is a very nice insight into the author’s application of agile thinking in his life. It is both very entertaining and educational. I am a certified Scrum Master with 10 years of experience and I am ashamed to say I never thought of applying the concepts of agile to my business or life outside of software development. A friend emaild me this link and I am very grateful he did. Thank you Brian for this wonderful gift of agile thinking. -Paula

  25. Jennifer Harrington says:

    Unusual way to talk about agile, but it works for me mate. Sitting on a porch in a hurricane doesn’t seem to be the safest plan and I am not sure I would have done it. Good points about being agile though. Thought the footnotes were just right touch.

  26. Betty says:

    What a marvelous story Brian. I can honestly say I enjoyed it and learned valuable lessons at the same time. We are all sorry for those who suffered from the hurricane. It was good to see how everyone seemed to pull together in the aftermath. Thanks for sharing this glimpse of your life with us.

  27. Elliot says:

    Rather nicely done sir. Instruction in agile thinking taught with a dry sense of humor. I might suggest that you recap the 14 points you are making about agile for those who skip the footnotes.

  28. Mathieu Headley says:

    I was confused by this title I thought it was going to be a dreadful government warning or some such nonsense about hurricane preparedness. Then I read the quote and thought it was going to be an emotional appeal for donations. Instead it turned out to be a delightfully written parable about friendship, empathy and morality (along with a lesson in agile thinking of course) told in a charmingly funny way. As someone else commented it might have been a good idea to summarize the agile points at the end of the article, despite that it was quite near perfect!

  29. Marlene says:

    You have a wonderful gift, my friend, in the telling of tales. It is something that is rare and valuable. You must use it more.

  30. Tanada says:

    Marlene has the right of it Brian. Your post are like so down. You can’t tease us with these totally infrequent blogs. Why don’t you tweet???:TT

  31. Roger Edgemont says:

    I am a developer working in agile for the past 8 years and I must confess I never thought of agile in this way before. It has opened my eyes to a whole new approach to everything that I do at work not just software development. I am very impressed with Mr. Lucas’s approach to agile thinking.

  32. Mick says:

    That took some guts to sit on a porch in the midst of a hurricane. I’ll bet the Scotch helped. Good story mate! You sure practice Keeping Agile!!!

  33. Dee says:

    Wow! I am impressed! What a tale! This is the kind of blog posting I could follow every day!

  34. Marybeth says:

    I don’t agree with your actions here partying on your porch in a hurricane was dangerous. I am glad no one got hurt. I was interesting to see how you wrapped you agile message up in this story.

  35. Kimberly Reese says:

    I have to comment here. I don’t think Brian did anything really dangerous. It was calculated. Even getting into your car and driving to the store can be dangerous. This was a good lesson in thoughtfulness as well as agile thinking.

  36. Harlan Addams says:

    Funny and facinating tale of agile thinking as I have never seen it expressed before. Brian you are a master tale teller!

  37. Tom Delaney says:

    A friend sent me this and I chuckled all day reading it. As an accountant for my company, I have worked with agile development teams in the past. They generally worked out well after the initial startup issues. It would have gotten the idea over better if I had read something like this first. I am going to mail this to our development teams.

  38. Stella says:

    Funny, funny funny! Dry humor like this always makes me laugh! Neat way of making a point! I am going to have to read all your other posts Brian!

  39. Minerva says:

    I have never commented on the internet before. I felt I had to here. While I have not experienced a hurricane, this put a face on it for me. I found it by looking for information on storm preparedness since I am thinking about taking a job in the states in Florida. I was surprised when I found this article in a business blog. I came so close not to reading it and that would have been a loss I would probably never have known about. The quote made me read it. It was very poignant. While I have heard the term agile before in reference to business agility, I have not heard about agile in the terms that the writer is using. I have read this article 5 times now including the extensive footnotes, each time a little slower. I can honestly say that I this is not necessarily what I was looking for, but it was something that has changed me. The writer is obviously an introspective person who thinks a lot and on a level that I could never hope to understand. He is however by no means a self-centered person. No one who can write something like this could be. While I know I will never be as smart as he is, I will think differently from now on. The care expressed in the body article and points made in the footnotes are rules to live by. I imagine that there are others out here who have read this or will read this and find great value in it and yet never comment. I thought that the writer should know that he might have a broader audience than just business and that we appreciate his efforts.

  40. Athelia says:

    Min just sent this to me and said she commented – shocking!!!!! I wanted to say I think it’s great too.

  41. Jane Comack says:

    This is like sitting around a fireplace and listing to the wisdom of your favorite uncle who is a great story teller. Bravo Brian!

  42. Brendan says:

    Hey Brian thanks for your blog. I am a regular reader. You are a very original and clear thinker. I am impressed by anyone who can keep their head in a hurricane and then write about it with such humor. Its been a while since you posted please don’t forget us…..

  43. Sasha says:

    As others have said thank you for this gift of knowledge, warmth and humor. I read your blog Brian every day in hopes of a new post. Please find the time to share more of this aspect of yourself with us.

  44. trenody says:

    I am glad my friend Sasha sent me your link and that you chose to share this Brian despite the fact that you are a private person. I was pretty down on my luck and life. I lost a home though thank God I and my pets got out. This was meaningful to me as a Sandy survivor. It is nice to see someone show concern for their friends as you did. I wish I was as smart as you, but I am not. I will read your blog and be smarter though. Bless you for that. How is Penelope doing?

  45. Lady-J says:

    How do keep up with all the comments you get Brian?

  46. Tod says:

    I read your article out-loud as a presentation I was making on our agile self help and group discussion team. I was a hit and had everyone’s attention and often left us laughing. It was voted the best share of all time. Thank you for sharing this with all of us!

  47. Gordon says:

    I am curious Brian what did your fellow storm watchers think about the experience and your agile approach?

  48. Eddie A. Marshal says:

    Agile lesson taught and agile lesson learned Brian! Thanks for sharing!!!!!

  49. Sheri Lynn says:

    Aw Brian can I come to your next party if I bring my sleeping bag like Nichi? A bison chine, bourbon baked beans and the “special” coffee sound heavenly. Of course the best part is I get to meet you……………

  50. Marcus says:

    Good story! Great lesson!

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