Wednesday, April 19, 2006

My Battle with Ockham

While digging a trench next to my house I found it filling up with water. While I knew there were water pipes close by I could not imagine that I ruptured them with how carefully I dug the trench. Yet the trench was filling with water. So I dug some more to find the close by water pipes and found they were not ruptured. The next possibility was the pipes I was laying were bringing water from some other leak somewhere, but the pipe was dry.

Now what?

After a few days of being stymied I noticed a tree on the opposite side of my house which had a divot around it full of water even though the rest of the trees were dry. The water main from the road to my house was under that tree. I dug it up and found a leak in the main. This leak had been soaking my yard, finding its way to the other side of my house to fill the trench I had dug. Fixing the main leak fixed my trench problem 50 foot away.

In 1300’s William of Ockham proposed his famous “razor” stating that the simplest plausible explanation for a problem is the best. Not in my case, in fact I find more often than not the complicated solution is more likely true. I would like to propose the Wunderink Razor which simply states: “It’s never easy.” Or as Rosanna Rosanna Danna would always say, “it’s always something.’” My wife might ask me to do a “easy” job around the house. But that easy job takes five trips to the local Home Depot, two new tools, and countless band-aids. It’s never easy.

I find the same with people. When someone is angry at me it usually isn’t the easy answer that is the best. If there is a simple, easy reason like spilled milk on the table where mom gets angry, chances are it isn’t the spilled milk. The mom was ignored by the dad in the morning, the baby has a slight temperature, the car needs to go in the shop, the working at home is slow getting started, the kids are loud and fighting, the in-laws are coming soon with their demands, and THEN the milk is spilled. It’s never easy.

Maybe in the 1300’s in Ockham’s world the easiest answer was the best but today … I think Wunderink’s Razor works better. It’s never easy.

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