I threw a hissy fit earlier this evening. With guests coming to dinner, I had the menu planned. I went to the shop, got what I needed and came home without the cheese. So I went back to get the cheese and came home without the yogurt. Then I went to cook and found that one key ingredient, not available in Hungary, was in the wrong press – and the other press was 200 km from where I was standing.
Couple all that to the heat, latent jetlag, and the news from the USA on the Paris Agreement, the attack in Kabul the other day, and the shootings in Manila, and I blew.
With the kitchen window open, my neighbours out chatting on the balcony were treated to a litany of curses that would make a fishwife blush. Murphy’s law. With 45 minutes till the first doorbell, I had to rethink. So I poured a Jemmie and ginger (I’d remembered the limes) and cursed some more.
And then I remembered an email I’d received sometime last week with a link I’d never opened. It seemed as good a time as any for a diversion…
Murphy’s Law originated at Edwards Air Force Base in southern California […] a team of Edwards engineers was working on Project MX981, a mission to determine the amount of force a human body could sustain in a crash. To see what happens when a human decelerates from great speeds, a human must first reach great speeds, something MX981’s engineers accomplished by repeatedly strapping a brave test subject into a rocket-propelled platform on rails, a rig known as a rocket sled. On most test runs it carried John Paul Stapp, a gregarious and witty flight surgeon who volunteered for the job.
In the late 1940s, the team received a visit from an Air Force captain and reliability engineer named Edward A. Murphy, Jr. […] Murphy was there to deliver some new gauges for the apparatus. The gauges malfunctioned. An irritated Murphy allegedly blamed the problem on underlings, grousing: If there’s any way they can do it wrong, they will.
The person who transformed Murphy’s complaint into Murphy’s Law was Stapp, the flight surgeon who put his life on the line to test the team’s theories. When a reporter asked about the project’s inherent danger, Stapp allegedly replied that the team was guided by a principle he called “Murphy’s Law.”
As Stapp put it, errors and malfunctions were an inescapable reality of any undertaking. Instead of using that fact as reason to quit, the engineers used it as motivation to excel. The only way to avoid catastrophe was to envision every possible scenario and plan against it. […]
“It’s supposed to be, ‘If it can happen, it will,’” a former Edwards engineer told Spark. “Not ‘Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.’”
I need to readjust my thinking.