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Murphey's Law

I am an adherent to the principle of observing the INVERSE law of sodd.....

I formulated my hypothesis on this natural phenomenon whilst an apprentice machinist, and I worked out it was entirely governed by Murphy's laws.

You see, working in a tool room, as a lowly gopher, I wasn't given the 'interesting' precision stuff to do, with the big fancy machines, and consequently was sent off to drill lots of holes, as it was something that the gaffer reckoned even a numpty like me couldn't botch.

Any way, thing is, you start by drilling a diddy little hole, then you use bigger and bigger drill bits making the hole bigger, until its the right size.

This means that you always use the littlest drill bits the most, so they are the ones that go blunt most quickly. But, being so little they are not easily sharpened, and are very easily broken; but, conveniently, because they are so little they are also relatively cheap... so you tend to buy a packet of ten, rather than just one or two.

Any way, being a ham fisted lackey, I broke more than the odd one or two, and this was where I noticed my 'phenomenon'.......

If there was just a single starter drill in the drill draw.... well.... it was like GUARANTEED you wouldn't even get it past the first hole.

In fact, you'd be lucky to do more than get it in the chuck!

Favourite 'first-strike' Murphy would make, would be to let you put the drill bit down on the drill bench, while you went and hunted the chuck-key, that was probably in one of the other machinists pockets for 'safe keeping'.

When you eventually found the key, or as likely, resorted to sticking a screwdriver in the hole and trying to turn the bezil with large pair of mole grips...... You discovered that your little drill bit was missing.

With no human intervention of any kind.... that tiny piece of steel, would have wandered off.

Other eminent scientists and engineers have studied this phenomenon, that of any important metal artefact smaller than the forth road bridge 'migrating' when you are not looking at it..... One, named Schrödinger put a cat in a box, but after complaints from the RSPA resorted to asking daft questions about whether the light inside your fridge was still on after you shut the door...... Others made reference to the Van Allen belts, and the natural magnetic storms caused by the earths magnetic core..... and maybe there is something to some of these ideas.... but if there is... I think that it is simply an effect that Murphy is using to his advantage....

any way, back to my iddy-biddy drill bit; IF you could locate it at all, it was probably irretrievably wedged in a crack or joint in the work bench, from which not amount of encouragement with a pair or tweezers or pliers, would dislodge it; and it would also have miraculously lost all magnetic attraction, when you decided to get clever and use the incredibly strong grinding bed magnets that would send your watch backwards! to try and tempt it from its hiding place.

Hammering screwdrivers into the crack to lessen the grip on the drill would also prove counter productive, and see the bit fall further into its crevice, and even more recalcitrant to any attempt to entice it out.

But, its the only one you have, so SOMEHOW.... often by such drastic measures as resorting to taking the entire work bench apart..... you would determine to beat the odds........

And get the thing into the chuck.

You would then switch the drill on...... and watch this precious artefact fly from the jaws of the head, which you have tightened strenuously to ensure that there was NO-WAY it was going to fall out...... and disappear SOMEWHERE into the mysterious corners of the work shop.

Forget trying to find needles in haystacks; try finding an only slightly larger than a needle, High speed Steel drill bit, in the swarf bin.... the big skip, full of all the metal shavings from the stuff the other blokes have made with apparently effortless ease, while you are struggling to drill a single, simple ruddy hole!

But, find it you must! So after lacerating your fingers on the razor blade sharp metal shavings, and discovered your drill bit..... you manage to convince it into the drill chuck.... and to stay there.....

You KNOW that at the first sign of pressure it is going to start to flex, and anything but the lightest touch will see it snap in half.... so you wind it down towards the piece to be drilled, trembling with trepidation.....

And as you see the tip of the drill close on your work piece... not even touching yet, you see it start to run off centre..... almost imperceptibly... but its there all the same, and getting worse!

And then, before you have time to do anything about it, and before you have even got the drill bit touching the metal to be drilled.... it shatters, leaving a short stump in the chuck.....

You now have to find HALF a drill bit in the swarf bin......

And hope when you find it, its long enough to get some part in the chuck and still make a hole in your metal!

So, this is where the INVERSE law of sod starts to make itself apparent.

knowing that Murphy's law, determines it an entirely futile effort to try and drill a hole if you only have one starter drill..... you make sure, that before drilling a hole, that there are at LEAST three starter drills in the draw.

Stands to reason. If you only have ONE starter drill, and lack of it will engender so much grief and hassle, having spares, means that you would side step the hassle and just get another one out of the draw.....

If the pain, torment and general misery of a situation can be so easily minimised.... Murphy, wont see the glee in causing it in the first place.... and find other people to torment to greater effect.

So, you take the first starter drill out of the draw, and incredibly discover that the chuck key is where it should be, on its chain, attached to the pillar drill....

This is lulling you into a false sense of security.........

But you carry on; perplexed, and even MORE cautious than normal..... but carry on you do.

You place drill into chuck. Double check that it is sitting true and is tightened up....

You look around nervously, scratch the scars on your lacerated hands, eye the swarf skip cautiously....

And you go and steal the screens from around the welding booth!

And arrange them around the drill bench, so that when the drill bid comes flying out, it wont get further then the screen, and will fall harmlessly to the floor.....

That you have meticulously swept, in order that there is NOTHING to hide it from you.

And switch on the drill.

You stare at it, incredulously for a good five minutes, as it revolves in the chuck, straight and true.

You duck down, look at it from below, walk around it, climb up on the bench, look at it from above.....

Scratch your head, and come to the conclusion, that there is SOMETHING VERY WRONG!

The bit has not flew off, and it is doing EXACTLY what it should!

This is a very bad sign.....

So, pondering where the foul ups going to happen, with sweat beading on your brow, you carefully wind the drill bit down to the work piece...

It gets closer and closer..... your hands turn white from exertion, and the entire workshop distorts to a fuzzy haze in your vision as you focus intently on that 2mm shaft rotating above your work pice getting closer and close in , microns.....

So intense is your gaze, you can almost make out the individual grains of the metal, normally only visible under a high powered scanning electron microscope!

And then.....

It touches, and a wisp of metal..... so small, so fine, like an ants hair, seen with your new found microscopic vision starts to curl from the cutting tip.......

You are trembling, like the man in the bomb squad who has to cut the right wire......

And all of a sudden.........

The drill bit disappears into the work piece to the depth of the chuck.... and you have a HOLE!

You let the head back up, and stare in wonder at it.

You run around the work shop, with the nippy vice showing all the blokes your success!

People in suits look down from the gallery, wondering what all the hullabaloo is about; people from the factory floor shake their heads and frown.....

But... the old hands, the time served machinists, look at you with pride knowing EXACTLY what you have achieved......

They pat you on the back, fetch coffee from the machine for you.... make you sit down and sympathise and tell you that you might make a machinist yet!

Then some-one tells you to go 'finish' the hole.......

You look at them, stunned for a few moments, blankly trying to take in the significance of the comment....

But, you think about it, and realise that, Hey, hard parts over. Can use the big drills now... no problem!

And you go and bore the hole out to whatever size the drawing on the fag packet said!

Bouyed by your success, you tackle the second hole with new found confidence; look around at all the precautions you took the first time.... and start the second hole.....

Not ENTIRELY without neurosis!

But No, cuts as cleanly as the first time... so you carry on.

Now, this fag packet has a neat little pattern of six holes shown on it; and things go great, until you get top the FIFTH hole.

Not that last hole.... no, Murphy has plans for that one!

On the last but one hole; Murphy leans over, and after letting you get the drill in the chuck, and watch it bore its way into your work piece..... breaths gently on the bit as you wind it back out.

The bit snags, and snaps.... in the hole!

You ponder this one for a while..... and contemplate the irony of the situation.....

But no matter. After removing the bit of broken drill bit from the hole.... there's still two more in the draw, and only ONE hole left to drill, and ALL the precautions you have taken are still in place, and working well.

So, you go get another bit.... fit it into the chuck, and wind it cautiously towards the metal......

microns from the surface of the work piece.. the end curls up and snaps off!

Ok.... there's still one more bit in the draw.

You load it into the chuck, look at your screens, and switch on the drill.... you watch the drill bit rotate, and try to decide if it is running true...... and it flies off into the ether........

Bouncing off your carefully placed welding screen........ hitting the suspended light fitting, and disappearing somewhere under a two ton machine bed!

Murphy.... is standing over your shoulder...... smiles..... and walks away!

You see.... if it can go wrong, chances are it WILL go wrong, and the MORE precaution you take against it, the greater the challenge Murphy finds in it..........

But simultaneously, has the desire to inflict even greater torment for your temerity, in thinking that you could defy him!

There is no possible way that you can defy Murphy's law......

And this is where the Law of Sodd, and it's inverse principle comes into play.

You see, it comes down to 'entropy' and any act, demands a certain amount of discomfort hassle and grief in order to accomplish it; that's 'Murphy's Cut'.

Thr 'inverse law' goes like this; IF the torment of taking precaution against the inevitability of 'hassle' is more hassle than the torment itself..... then he'll let you get away with it..... punishing you for your temerity in getting away with it, by placing seeds of doubt in your mind as to whether all the 'precaution' was really necessary.

Back to the drill bits...... three in the draw.... you know you still aren't safe, and, taking every precaution you can conceive, just makes it a greater challenge for Murphy to demand your penance......

So.... You go get ten packets of starter drills........ and leave them in the draw.

Before drilling, you ensure that the floor is swept, the welding screens in place; the nippy vice cleaned and the chuck oiled.......

You do ABSOLUTELY everything you possibly can to avert disaster........ and with so many spare drill bits in the draw, there is absolutely no WAY they are all going to get broken or lost.........

And you look at the fag packet and drill your holes and all goes EXACTLY to plan.

This is the inverse law, and illustrates the exponential effort required in order to utilise it.

But be warned...... Murphy STILL wants his cut..... and when you leave work, you get to the car-park and find the car wont start........!..!!......!!!

And you forgot, you leant your jump-leads to your next door neighbour.......

And of course all your work-mates have gone home.........

And, your AA membership has just lapsed!

'cos.... that Murphy?

He going to get his cut........ ONE way or another!

And the moral of the story?

Best to put up with the hassle at work, rather than in the car-park..... as one time served machinist put it to me as he waited at the bus stop...... inside, they're at least paying you for the trouble!

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