a safety announcement

beware the leafy trail...

Well hello there. Off for a run? Good for you! Running is a terrific activity in which to partake. It’s benefits to you are numerous, diverse, and well known. But did you know that running can also be dangerous?

Hazards abound while running–they too come in diverse forms and various proportions. In the safety community, we like to give a number to activities that expose you to said hazards. We call this number the safety index.

During your runs, you may grow adventurous, or “run out” of space to “run in.” Consequently you may decide to cross the street. Crossing the street has a safety index of -3. When crossing the street, it’s wise to send one person as a scout to test the conditions. If the scout makes it halfway across the road without being run over, it’s probably safe for the herd to mobilize. Always treat roadways with the respect they deserve. Remember–they are Antelope Gorge from Lion King, and you are a small and vulnerable Simba, trying desperately not to get trampled.

Bad running form is another serious, and often overlooked, safety hazard. Depending on severity, bad running form can reach a safety index of down to -37. If someone you’re with demonstrates poor form while running, you should criticize and ridicule them until they resolve to good form. If other teammates are nearby, make sure they partake in the mocking. There’s nothing like mean-spirited peer pressure to straighten out crooked feet. No need to feel bad about teasing, or worry about the offender’s self esteem–after all, it’s for their own safety.

Finally, we must address the Fall season’s mother of all running safety hazards–leafy trails. While fallen leaves may appear a fun, colorful, and innocent constituent of the seasonal foliage, they are actually conniving, pernicious little bastards. They are there to camouflage the rogue tree roots, hazardous holes, and menacing monkey balls that pervade the trail system. Do not be fooled. Their objective is to make you fall and die so that your flesh can rot into the ground and provide nutrients to the menacing arboreal machines from which they are manufactured. Leafy trails have a safety index of -52000. If you decide to run on trails, be cautious about your footing, always run with a partner, and remember to leaf no runner behind.

If you follow said cautionary advice, you will probably not die. This has been a public safety announcement from Safety Officer. Thank you for listening, and stay safe!

There’s one last thing we should address. That’s right–you guessed it–it’s the elephant in the room. Keeping elephants indoors is unadvised, and holds a safety index of -58. Elephants are large, powerful creatures, and while they may harbor kind hearts, all it takes is an untimely gun shot noise to send the beast crashing through the walls.

rock metal shows

noddingMetal concerts are interesting in that they draw a diverse yet easily classifiable crowd. Some metal fan signatures include dark clothing and awkward posture. Hair styles vary from minimal to insane. These concerts are also one of the few places on Earth where you will find the white-high-socks-and-jorts combo.

showgoerIn general though, metal fans can also be relatively normal-looking people. If this is the case, you can still identify subjects by their propensity to pump the “devils horns”. Sometimes, after a song, instead of cheering and clapping, the audience just cheer and put their devil-horned fists in the air. This results in a noticeable drop in the signal power for the resultant applause (see chart below). I feel bad when I see bands milking applause from the audience only to be met with more enthusiastic fist pumping.


As another characteristic maneuver of a rock metal show goer, head banging–or, as I like to call it, violent nodding–supports an interesting theory on the origins of some rockers’ seemingly pathological obsession with the genre and their stage heroes. (Stay with me here.) In their 1980 study “The Effects of Overt Head Movements on Persuasion”, Gary L. Wells and Richard E. Petty analyze an experiment which demonstrates cognitive biases that result from repeated head movements. To explain more clearly, the experiment required participants (who were university students) to listen to a conversation that supported raising the school tuition. 1/3 of the students were made to nod their heads up and down while listening, another third shook their heads left to right, and the last third kept their heads still. After listening, they were asked what they thought an appropriate tuition rate was. And the result?

The control group–the ones who kept their heads still–decided on average to reduce tuition slightly, from $587 to $582 per year. The group who shook their heads side to side decided on average to reduce tuition much more, to $467. And the group told to nod their heads decided on average to raise tuition to $646. The nodding of the last group created a bias correlating with the attitude of the conversation they listened to.

My theory then, is that the aggressive head-nodding of rock metal enthusiasts results in a stronger preferential bias towards their genre of music. This is not to say that other genres of music don’t have their crazy fans as well. But the prevalence of both band obsession and head-banging in the genre of rock metal leads me to believe that this correlation has a dual-causal relationship–listening to rock metal induces head-banging and head-banging induces listening to more rock music.