Thursday, April 21, 2005

Not Quite Murphy's Law

There totally needs to be a law that embraces Murphy, but has a more worldly view. I caught myself thinking yesterday, "Wow, that's so Murphy's law." Then, on second look, it is not.

Murphy's Law: "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong."

Wikipedia Defition: (also known as Finagle's law or Sod's law) is a popular adage in Western culture, which broadly states that things will go wrong in any given situation. It is most commonly formulated as "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong." The law was named after Edward A. Murphy, Jr., a development engineer working for a brief time on rocket sled experiments done by the United States Air Force in 1949.

Background: Apparently there is a significant history to Murphy's Law, and some underlying discrepancy. For a decent account look at the Wikipedia Site. I'll attempt to sum up here though. The phrase came from Murphy's comments about his assistant during military G-force testing on a rocket sled. The assistant messed up a few times. Murphy commented on the assistant in front of George Nichols. Nichols relayed the account and it changed somewhat. We've all played 'telephone' so we know how that works. This lead to a discrepancy as to what Murphy actually said.
Murphy was originally thought to say,"If that guy has any way of making a mistake he will." Which Nichols, through many tellings, condensed to,"If it can happen, it will happen." Now, Murphy's son swears his father reused the 'law' as well, but his looked more like,"If there's more than one way to do a job, and one of those ways will result in disaster, then somebody will do it that way." John Stack's epigraph in 1952 phrased it as,"Anything That Can Possibly Go Wrong, Does." While the earlist printed version, by Lloyd Mallan, states it as,"Everything that can possibly go wrong will go wrong."

In any case, perhaps it is time to revisit Murphy. I wouldn't say that things go WRONG for me per se, but it is more like, stressful opportunities arise when least desired. Inherently, that statement is crap, because when is a stressful opportunity desired? That aside, however, I want to note that stressful things never come alone. They seem to piggy-back each other, and compound whenever possible. Kind of like, when it Rains it Pours, or when you're good you're very good, and when you're bad your horrid. If you are already stressed about something, the stress seems to attract other inopportune situations. I guess we could say, we become susceptable to stress the more stressed we become. Wow, that's a viscious cycle for you. Hence, a stress causes your stress. Your stress in turns causes you stress which incorporates new stress, causing still, more stress. You typical downward spiral. Thank GOD humans have a tenacious,perservering nature, otherwise we'd all curl up and die.

This week we had class presentations. People stressed, since we had to present for 20 minutes over our thesis stuffs. Okay, that's coo. Shift gears and do a presentation (slight stress). To do a presentation you need to attend school and watch other presentations (crap, more stress since I've been in my own writing world for months). Presentations go all day (physical stress from sitting and paying quasi-attention). Long, unproductive lunch stemming from uber piss-poor planning by professor (stress, stress). Get home after 8 hours of presentations (eh, maybe stressful), realize you have wasted a whole day not looking at research materials or thesis (panicing, stress). Do it again the next day, when professor makes you come earlier and is then LATE to the second half (mother fucker ... pissed off, and stressed). Realize you wasted another day (stress). Look for jobs, find flights home for summer since they are all filling up, and try to work on Doctoral proposal (omg, I'm losing it). Get email from Maryland Bar indicating you are late for signing up for Professional responsibility course, and that they've changed the date to YOUR FINAL THESIS PRESENTATION! (que obvio) Find last minute flight home, and ask permission to miss presentations (stress, stress, stress).

In any event, you can see the inherent downward, and viscious, cycle. I'll pull out of it, but it will definitely require some mental fenageling. What was I thinking trying to tackle this Murphy's law rewrite ... ha, jk. I still think it's not quite murphy, b/c there is no disaster per se, maybe it's murphy light?


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