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A rule of conduct or procedure established by custom, agreement, or authority. The body of rules and principles governing the affairs of a community and enforced by a political authority; a legal system: international law. The condition of social order and justice created by adherence to such a system: a breakdown of law and civilized behavior. A set of rules or principles dealing with a specific area of a legal system: tax law; criminal law. A piece of enacted legislation. What is Law?
Murphy's Law

Murphy's law is a popular adage in Western culture, which broadly states that things will go wrong in any given situation. It is most commonly formulated as "if anything can go wrong, it will." The law was named for Edward A. Murphy, Jr., a development engineer working for a brief time on rocket sled experiments done by the United States Air Force in 1949.

The letter of the law
Accounts differ as to the precise origin of Murphy's law, and the details about how it was initially formulated. From 1947 to 1949, a project known as MX981 took place on Muroc Air Force Base (later renamed Edwards Air Force Base) for the purpose of testing the human tolerance for g-forces. The tests used a rocket sled mounted on a railroad track with a series of hydraulic brakes at the end.

Initial tests used a humanoid dummy, strapped to a seat on the sled, but subsequent tests were performed by John Paul Stapp, then a Captain. During the tests, questions were raised about the accuracy of the instrumentation used to measure the g-forces Captain Stapp was experiencing. Edward Murphy proposed using electronic strain gauges, attached to the restraining clamps of Stapp's harness, to measure the force exerted on them by his rapid deceleration. Murphy's assistant wired the harness, and a trial was run using a chimpanzee.

The sensors provided a zero reading, however; it became apparent that they had been installed incorrectly, with each sensor wired backwards. It was at this point that Murphy made his pronouncement. According to George Nichols, another engineer who was present, Murphy, in frustration, blamed the failure on his assistant, saying "If that guy has any way of making a mistake, he will." Nichols' account is that "Murphy's law" came about through conversation among the other members of the team; it was condensed to "If it can happen, it will happen," and named for Murphy in mockery of what Nichols perceived as arrogance on Murphy's part. Others, including Edward Murphy's surviving son Robert Murphy, deny Nichols' account, and claim that the phrase did originate with Edward Murphy. According to Robert Murphy's account, his father's statement was along the lines of “If there’s more than one way to do a job, and one of those ways will result in disaster, then somebody will do it that way.”

In any case, the phrase first received public attention during a press conference in which Stapp was asked how it was that nobody had been severely injured during the rocket sled tests. Stapp replied that it was because they took Murphy's Law under consideration; he then summarized the law and said that in general, it meant that it was important to consider all the possibilities before doing a test.

The spirit of the law
Regardless of the exact composition of the phrase, its spirit embodies the principle of defensive design — anticipating the mistakes the end-user is likely to make. Murphy's g-force sensors failed because there existed two different ways to connect them; one way would result in correct readings, while the other would result in no readings at all. The end-user — Murphy's assistant, in the historical account — had a choice to make when connecting the wires. When the wrong choice was made, the sensors did not do their job properly.

In most well-designed technology intended for use by the average consumer, incorrect connections are impossible. For example, the 3.5-inch floppy disk used in many personal computers will not easily fit into the drive unless it is oriented correctly. In contrast, the older 5.25-inch floppy disk could be inserted in a variety of orientations that might damage the disk or drive. Curiously, the even newer CD-ROM technology permits one incorrect orientation — the disc may be inserted upside-down. A defensive designer knows that if it's possible for the disc to be inserted the wrong way, someone will eventually try it.

From its initial public announcement, Murphy's law quickly spread to various technical cultures connected to aerospace engineering. Before too many years had gone by, variants had passed into the popular imagination, changing as they went. Generally, the spirit of Murphy's law captures the common tendency to emphasize the negative things that occur in everyday life; in this sense, the law is typically formulated as some variant of "If anything can go wrong, it will", a variant also known as Sod's law or Finagle's law. For example, whenever a buttered slice of bread falls on the floor, people tend to remember more vividly the times that it fell buttered-side-down, since a buttered-side-up landing is of lesser consequence. Hence, one gets the impression that the bread always falls buttered-side-down. Laws such as Murphy's are a direct expression of such seeming perversities in the order of the universe.

Additional mutations of the law and its corollaries have developed, many of them meta-laws in some way, either through some form of self-reference or referral to other laws or analogies. For instance, the buttered-bread analogy could be further extended: "The chance of a dropped slice of bread landing buttered-side down on a new carpet is proportional to the price of the carpet." (If the buttered side falls facing up, then obviously the wrong side is buttered.)

Some state that Murphy's law cannot operate as a subset of something useful; for example: "It will start raining as soon as I start washing my car, except when I wash the car for the purpose of causing rain." O'Toole's commentary on Murphy's law is: "Murphy was an optimist!" These mutant versions demonstrate Murphy's law acting on itself, or perhaps Finagle's law acting on Murphy's law.

The Benefits of Home Exercise

We all would like to lose weight and get in shape with a minimal effort. That's how the fitness informercial makes billions per year, promising miraculous results without breaking a sweat.

If you are not fooled by their claims then you know you have to work at getting in shape and losing unwanted pounds. So where do you go for a challenging workout? If you are into walking and running, during the temperate seasons you can get your cardio exercise in the great outdoors.

But to get a total workout that is not limited to moderate weather, you will need to either join a gym or equip your home with fitness equipment. The major advantage of a home gym is convenience. And it is convenience that can result in a more focused exercise regimen. Home gyms are growing in popularity. In 2000 over $6.7 billion was spent on home fitness equipment.

Granted health clubs have the advantage of working out with other like-minded individuals. And if you are the type of person that needs inspiration from others, the health club provides that environment. Of course, for singles it is a great place to meet the opposite sex.

The disadvantages are time wasted driving to the health club, waiting in line to use equipment and costly membership fees. I personally like to work out first thing in the morning. My time is limited due to my work schedule. The extra time required to drive to a health club would deter regular workouts. Exercise for me is not a social activity. I want to burn as many calories and strengthen as many muscles in as little time as possible. In my case exercising at home is more practical.

Designing a Home Gym

If you decide that working out at home makes the most sense, the first consideration will be the location. You may choose the basement. But if it is dark and damp, this is not an inspiring environment. Another consideration is an extra bedroom or part of a family room or den. You want an inviting location that is well ventilated and provides sufficient light. For those that like to keep up with the latest news or the soaps, a room with a television would be appropriate.

If lack of space is a consideration, there is fitness equipment like folding treadmill or compact home gyms that minimize required space.

Selecting the Proper Equipment

In determining what fitness equipment to purchase, you need to define your goals and consider the type of exercise machines that can help you reach those goals. Numerous homes are littered with unused exercise equipment that substitutes for clothes hangers. Too often people buy informercials equipment that is that latest fad. They discover that the exercise bores them, and that the equipment is poorly built and does not deliver on the promises.

Another common mistake is buying cheap equipment that provides an unsatisfactory workout and frequently requires repair. This is particularly true when purchasing a treadmill. A cheap treadmill is unstable, noisy and can be a shock to your joints.

There are tips on buying various types of fitness equipment:

Treadmills

For walkers and runners a treadmill is a logical choice. And the good news is the recent models are built for endurance and a pleasurable cardio experience. A Treadmill is the most efficient equipment to burn calories and lose weight, that is why they are the most popular.

You'll want a treadmill with a motor that is continuous duty with a rating of at least 2.0 HP. Continuous duty motors give you constant maximum power. Non continuous motors are unable to run smoothly for an extended period of time.

Select a treadmill that accommodates your stride with an adequate length and width. The deck should be at least 18" x 53". If you are a runner and tall, you may want to consider a "stretch" model. The deck should have a reasonable amount of cushion for minimal impact on your feet, ankles and knees. Several manufacturers offer extra thick cushioned treadmills as an option.

For variety you'll want a treadmill with incline control and computerized programming. Incline control simulates an uphill climb, while the electronics can be programmed to create a diversity of running or walking experiences.

Home Gyms

Multi-station home gyms provide health club quality strength training in the comfort of your home. Depending on the model you can get over 50 exercises. A home gym offers a complete strength building workout for the entire body. And as the name implies, multi-station home gyms allow for more then one person to workout at once.

Look for equipment that has a natural resistance feel. The quality of the cables and pulleys will make the difference and will guarantee longevity. That smooth feel is usually lacking on so-called home gyms that rely on bands or bows rather then actual weight racks. In addition, you want a gym that has ergonomic features. The shape and location of pad, pop pin and pivot point should feel natural.

Elliptical Trainers

Elliptical trainers offer a no-impact workout that exercises numerous muscle groups. This is achieved through the dual cross-trainer arms combined with the foot pedals. Elliptical trainers provide the following advantages:

Time Efficiency - The dual action of arms and legs optimizes energy expenditure. Requires less time to achieve more results.

  • Weight Bearing Exercise - Builds bone density and burns calories more efficiently. Inhibits the onset of osteoporosis.
  • No Impact - Safe for joints. Ideal workout for people with back, knee, hips and joint problems.
  • Low Maintenance - Less impact means less wear and tear.
  • Small Footprint - Does not take up valuable floor space.

As with treadmills, elliptical trainers vary from K-mart specials to health club quality. It is important to find a motorized machine that has a natural stride and is built to last.

This is a just a short list of potential home fitness equipment. It can be supplemented with staionary bikes, free weight, steppers, aerobic videos, rowing machine and countless other products.

Determine your goals (lose weight, build strength, etc.), then narrow your search to the appropriate equipment. The selection needs to be based on what will work for you, not what will be the best for hanging laundry.

You can purchase Treadmills, Elliptical Trainers and Home Gyms Factory Direct at SmoothFitness.com.

Order online and have your own fitness equipment delivered to your home.

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