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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Awesome Mystery of Luck

After I shut the door and started back to the living room, he yelled something at me, but I couldn't exactly hear him. I'm pretty sure he yelled "Good luck!" at me. I hope not. I hope to hell not. I'd never yell "Good luck!" at anybody. It sounds terrible, when you think about it (Holden Caulfield, The Catcher in the Rye).

Tuesday Ryan and I were installing new desktop computers at the Mangrove Bay Golf Course.  My assignment was to work on a room with three computers for Dale, Steve, and Ed.  I began working immediately on Dale’s computer.  The installation process can be time consuming as the setup of the old existing computer must be accessed—what devices are used and their configurations, what files must be transferred to the new computer, etc.  After working for a good while on Dale’s computer, I started to gather information from Steve’s old computer configuration.  My intention was to start breaking down Steve’s old computer as soon as possible.  I had in view completing Steve’s installation that day.  But in the middle of the process, Ryan came in and said that he had talked with our boss Mark.  Mark wanted me to immediately begin replacing Peggy’s computer at Cypress Links for she would need it presently.  So I dropped what I was doing and installed Peggy’s computer.  By the time I got back to Mangrove Bay, there was only time to complete Dale’s installation.  Steve’s computer would have to wait until Wednesday.  While I was thus engaged, Steve reported for work around 4:00 pm.  He immediately expressed concerns that I may have disabled his old computer.  Steve has extensive information on a specialized tournament database that must be transferred.  Since Steve is in charge of tournaments, this is unique with his computer.  Steve and I had discussed the challenges for transfer some months ago, but I had forgotten it.  In other words, if it had not been for the requirement to do Peggy’s computer, I would have prematurely replaced Steve’s computer.  Steve and I agreed to take all necessary time to work on and accomplish the transfer the following day. 

The whole experience has me once again musing over the mystery of luck.  If I had started working on Steve’s rather than Dale’s computer, I would have inadvertently geometrically increased the complexity and inconvenience of retrieving tournament data and software.  But by luck I began working on Dale’s setup first.  Then I had immediate plans to break down Steve’s computer, but by luck it turned out I should work on Peggy’s computer replacement instead (though it turned out she did not need the computer that day).  Then when that was complete, it was by luck I still had to complete work on Dale’s installation.  Then by luck Steve was working a split shift (a very unusual thing), so that when he reported for work he reminded me of the tournament issue so we could set aside adequate time to work on it Wednesday.

I began with a quote of the youth Holden Caulfield that wishing someone good luck “sounds terrible.”  Perhaps it hints that someone is substantially limited, not in control in significant ways.  The older I get, the more I perceive the role of luck.  My understanding of so much is severely limited.  Hence my plans stand vulnerable to widely miss the mark of optimality.  So the Holden’s of the world will hate this given their callow stance of superiority, but I sincerely wish them good luck.

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