People know when to die. Or at least six of them do.

Art and photo Ryn Gargulinski

Art and photo Ryn Gargulinski

Six folks died this past week – as many as in the previous three weeks – because I was on furlough. This means I would not get to update the Day of the Dead blog promptly and would have a morbid first day back listing all the deaths.

In addition to the five deaths, my inbox contained announcements of a motorcyclist with life-threatening injuries and two hikers already lost for days in the Grand Canyon.

Call it life’s little ironies, bad timing, or use the more common term: Murphy’s Law.

The original Murphy’s Law, which says “If something can go wrong, it will,” came about from, you guessed it, a guy named Murphy.

Dang Murphy.

A synopsis of its origin is noted at Clear Lead Inc.:

Murphy’s Law, as it has come to be known, took root at the Edwards Air Force Base in 1949. Captain Edward A. Murphy was an engineer working on a project that measured how much sudden deceleration a person could stand in the event of a crash. This project was USAF project MX981 – the test for human acceleration tolerances. One of the experiments needed a set of 16 accelerometers to be mounted to different parts of the subject’s body. This could be done in two ways.

As was expected, the person involved had glued all the parts the wrong way around. This caused Capt. Murphy to utter “If it could be done wrong, in all probability it would.”

The Air Force doctor, Dr. John Paul Stapp later gave a press conference to the effect that the safety record on this project was largely due to the belief in Murphy’s Law and stringent steps being undertaken to circumvent it.

The site also noted six more Murphy laws, which continue to crop up like crab grass:

1. If something can go wrong, it will.
2. If anything simply cannot go wrong, it will anyway.
3. Left to themselves, things tend to go from bad to worse.
4. Matter is damaged in direct proportion to its value.
5. The chance of the bread falling buttered side down is directly proportional to the cost of the carpet.
6. The opulence of the front office décor is inversely proportional to the fundamental solvency of the company.
7. Tell a man that there are 250 billion stars in the universe and chances are that he will believe you. But try telling him that the bench has wet paint and he will touch to be sure.

Illustration Ryn Gargulinski

Illustration Ryn Gargulinski

Murphy’s laws kick into play in subtle ways every day, with special attention given to some major areas.

These laws definitely dictate the weather. Know it will invariably rain on certain days – like right after you wash your car. Never mind that you’ve lived in a dust-covered auto for six months or the forecast called for sun, sun, sun. Raindrops will pelt your newly polished fenders and streak down your windshield.

Rain also likes to hit right after we paint our house, the one day of the year we dig out all our crap to have a yard sale and on the day we finally decide to wear our new suede jacket. Count on it.

Murphy’s Law also works in conjunction with major department stores to ensure large items will go on sale the day after we buy them. This not only applies to suede jackets but to expensive electronics, like camcorders and big screen TVs. It will also rain during the TV delivery.

The laws have a way of toying around with taxes. After struggling for no fewer than 10 hours through my tax return, as I had no money to hire someone to do them for me, I finally got them done. Most of my time was spent looking up rules, regulations and strange formulas that involved lots of multiplication to deduct items to which I was entitled.

It’s been days and my headache is barely subsiding.

Would you know the very next day every other headline online and in those magazines I got sucked into subscriptions for said something about taxes.

“Five Overlooked Deductions,” “10 Most Common Tax Mistakes,” “Three Ways to Make Tax Time Easier,” “How to Calculate Deductions without Strange Formulas that Involve Lots of Multiplication.”

Sigh. Of course, when I went to buy an extra large bottle of incredibly expensive pain reliever to quell my headache, it went on sale the very next day.


wb-logolilWhat do you think?

When was the last time you were plagued with a Murphy law?

Which of Murphy’s laws hits you most often?

Did your big screen TV get delivered in the rain?

What’s your favorite Murphy law? I like the buttered bread one myself.