Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Tempting Murphy

Murphy was an optimist. ~ One of a zillion or so corollaries to Murphy's Law

Last Sunday, I was aching from head to foot. This sad state of affairs came about because of the effort it took to replace the mower deck on my lawn tractor. I was replacing the deck because the old one was so perforated by the debris that the wife and the son roll over when they mow the lawn that more grass and junk came UP through the holes than came OUT the side it's supposed to.

Yes, yes, I know. I should be glad they mow the lawn at all, but lawn tractors aren't cheap. Holes in the deck, though, are dangerous, so I decided to do something about it. It turned out that for considerably less than a new tractor, I could replace the entire mower deck.

Now I felt pretty good about that because, before the mowing season started, I had replaced the belts on the old deck, which requires that the deck be removed. That turned out to be considerably less painful than I expected. Unfortunately, once the son and I had completed that process, I had an attack of hubris.

"That went well," I said. I'm old enough to know better.

Sure enough, the next day, when I changed the old and fired up the mower, I was presented with a steady stream of gasoline whizzing out of the fuel line. That should have been enough to remind me not to tempt the fates. But, no. After replacing the fuel line and ordering a new deck, I intoned, "Well, since we had no trouble with the old one, putting on a new one should be straightforward."

One might as well spit in the wind, tug on Superman's cape, and pull the mask off the ole Lone Ranger.

Anyway, having survived the experience, albeit with knees that are screaming and a back that is reminding me of my advanced years, I figure it's appropriate to sound the warning to those who would tempt Murphy's Law. Don't. Avoid the following sentiments at all costs.

  • "Should be a piece of cake." Only if you favorite cake is marble -- the rock, not the pastry.
  • "No problem. It worked like a charm in test." Said prior to a major upgrade on several servers. None of the patches worked as smoothly in production as they had in test, and one server decided to blow out its motherboard. That was two years ago; some parts of that upgrade have never been finished.
  • "We've never had a problem before." You will now.
  • "It should take 15 minutes, but we'll tell them an hour just to be safe." You better tell them a day to be accurate.
  • "If we do it the way we did it before, it should be fine." Except that you won't do it the way you did it before (that's what did us in on the mower deck), and the shortcut you think you can take will tie you in knots. Granny knots.
  • "I can't imagine what could go wrong." Of course, you can't. If you could, you wouldn't say stupid things like that.
  • "We've prepared for every eventuality." You'll be amazed at the eventualities that can occur that you never thought of. A system admin co-worker of mine some years ago plugged a vacuum cleaner into a circuit that was a) supposedly 30 AMPs and b) NOT the circuit that our file servers were on. It a) wasn't and b) was.
Don't say you haven't been warned.