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Murphy’s Law

May 23, 2011

I know this sounds like a rather ominous title, and possibly even concerning to many of you since you know I am now on my way to Wyoming. Fear not, I am alive and well; however, Murphy’s law always to mind in preparation for and throughout the duration of field work and research. Anyone who has done research knows all too well that things rarely if ever go according to plan and like Murphy says, anything that can go wrong will go wrong. So, you are left constantly adapting and developing new plans only to throw those out and make even another new set of plans.

The week leading up to my departure was rife with opportunity for Murphy’s law to take effect. In that week, I was expecting and hoping for the timely arrival of several pieces of equipment including: heart rate monitors, calibration gas, the mobile respirometry unit, and doubly labeled water doses. Most of these were shipped last moment by the various companies and in many cases their arrival before my departure was unlikely. I kept rather calm while waiting for these deliveries, and miraculously every single one arrived with even a couple days to spare. I thought I had escaped the first wave of Murphy’s law…I thought wrong!

A week and a half before I left I noticed my computer was overheating. The computer is still under warranty, so I shipped to Lenovo to have them fix it. I got it back just last Friday, and read the repair report stating that all they had to do was replace the heat sink fan. I was delighted and booted the lap top up to find that it had been restored to factory settings and that Lenovo had inexplicably wiped (or possibly replaced) my hard drive. I cannot even describe the horrible, sinking feeling when I saw that everything on my computer had been lost. Long story short, Lenovo has no clue what happened, and I spent over six hours getting my computer back to pre-Lenovo tech support form. I did have all my files backed up, so that was fortunate. Looking back, this could have been a far greater disaster than it was, but it is not the kind of thing one wants to happen three days before they leave for a 7 month long research trip. Lenovo is currently making an official inquiry into what happened. As compensation, I am thinking of demanding a new battery and free antivirus software (since I can’t get my old antivirus software back for free). With all the possibilities for things going wrong with all my other equipment, I never anticipated this happening. This is an excellent reminder that you can’t predict what will happen. All you can do is be prepared to react, adapt, and move forward.

Despite that minor setback, I was able to get on the road to Wyoming without incident, and I have safely made it to Evanston, IL for a meeting with a colleague at Northwestern University. However, I must say I never expected to be so sad to leave St. Louis. It is hard to leave the ones you love for so long; goodbyes like this are gut wrenching. Though I left St. Louis with a heavy heart (and will have one for a while); I will arrive in Wyoming hope and excitement for the next seven months of science and adventure.

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