August 17, 2017

Murphy’s Law

Illustration by George Danby

Illustration by George Danby

• By John F. Chisholm •

Speaking personally, there aren’t any scientific laws better proven than Murphy’s Law.  Everybody knows it by heart:  “If something can go wrong, it will.”

It’s short, simple and to the point.  Factual, too.  Just the way you expect science to be.

Judging from the way things go around here, the other ‘scientific laws’ are hit or miss.

For example, Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation?  You remember it:  “Every object attracts every other object with a force directly proportional to the sum of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them.”  See?  I had to memorize it, too.  High school.

Not that it’s done me much good.

It simply doesn’t appear borne out by personal experience.  The embarrassing fact of the matter, I’ve always been a terrible throw.  Aiming for the wastebasket is the best way for me to miss it.  In fact, I’ve seen a number of instances when I could miss the ground with whatever I’m throwing, two out of three times.  I’m not sure what that does to Newton’s Law.

Don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying anything against Newton.  Because, you bet, I remember the day after, too.  The pounding headache, the dry mouth, the complete disinterest in getting out of bed.

Who knows?  Perhaps Newton tried that experiment, too.

But the point here is that by the time I work through Newton’s Law to Kepler’s Laws of Planetary Motion and on to Einstein’s Laws of Relativity, their applicability to daily living simply doesn’t come close to Murphy’s Law, which is something I prove continuously.

In fact, living here and farming, I’ve even come up with a number of corollaries.  I’ve listed a few below.  If some appear a bit simple, please remember with whom you’re dealing.

1.  A toaster works better if it’s plugged in.

2.  The butter goes in the refrigerator and the dishrag in the sink.  (I wish I could tell you that I’ve always found them that way.)

3.  Take the keys before locking the car and slamming the door.

4.  Tractors start better with fuel ― provided it’s the proper fuel.

5.  Gasoline is for gasoline engines.  Diesel is for diesel engines.  (Seriously, label all containers.  No exceptions.  Otherwise air-gun oil appears in transmissions and all sorts of dangerous mayhem results.  How do I know?  Yeah.  That’s how I know.)

6.  When cutting firewood, the tractor should be farther away than the tree is tall.

7.  Never argue with your wife.  One way or the other, you’ll lose.  I promise.

8.  The most important things in your life are the things you least expected them to be before you had them: your children.

Last, most critically, your children are also why it’s so important that you remember that Murphy’s Law is always out there, always ready to strike.  There are few professions more dangerous than farming, few that offer more opportunities for disaster.

Ignore the other Laws of Science.

Never forget Murphy.

If something can go wrong, it will!