Thursday, July 16, 2009

There's Always Something

The thing about life is that there's always some really annoying part. There's always "the worst chore" in the house. There's always "the most annoying colleague." There's always some irksome reality that gets stuck in your craw. Some last minute to-do item without which, the world may explode. There's always something.

Sometimes that "something" is something big and important. Really important. Like dear Lynne and her brother's fight for bone marrow matches (www.teamhaupt.org - sign up people!). 

But most of the time, it isn't a matter of true survival or even real optimization. Most of the time, the most annoying thing, in the grand scheme, is pretty benign. The worst colleague is not actually Bernie Madoff's soul brother. The last minute fix was just that the vegetarian will eat 4 sides, and no main course of ravioli. The worst chore doesn't take more than a day to complete. 

It's really just statistical. There is always a Maximum. On any bell curve, there's always an outlier, regardless of whether that outlier is 1 or 10 standard deviations from the mean. We're conditioned to note the outlier and resent it, for some reason, regardless of the fact that it could be much much worse. And, even if it were resolved, there would be yet another outlier behind it, just a shade closer, perhaps, to the mean. 

Common old wive's wisdom is that every village has an idiot. Or less politely, a woman of loose ... proclivities. There has to be a village idiot, because there's always an outlier, whether in Helm, our favorite yiddish enclave of ridiculum, or at the G8 summit. 

I am trying hard to identify the village idiot in my world of concerns, and not take the presence of that outlier too seriously. Solving that problem will only lead me to worry about more trivial, less dramatic outliers.*

btw - why is outliers a word, but not outlier?

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