Sunday, November 29, 2009

Plan B

As many of you know, Gavin studied mathematics in college. Because of that study, and perhaps because he listened to the family's nightly dining-table discussions of their galvanizing business, he runs his life with what we call a Plan B approach. What that means is this: Any given project or life decision must include an alternate plan that can be put into action if the original plan does not work out.
During the time he worked in the Autonetics Division of North American Aviation in California of the 1960s*, that attitude drove his engineers completely crazy. When the group was assigned to design some new and different piece of electronic equipment, his constant question to the engineers was, "If it doesn't work, what do we do then?" Instead of waiting till rollout through the long schedule of some projects, it was better to work a Plan B in parallel. Thus when an engineering failure did occur, a backup system was ready.
For almost everything you do in life, there is a possible Plan B, though sometimes it takes quite a bit of thinking out. In some cases the approach might be considered redundant; but in other cases it can literally save your (ahem) center of gravity.
Take a simple example. The pressure inside Gavin's maturing eyeballs was too high. If it had stayed that way, the result would have been glaucoma. The doctor recommended that he use Travatan drops. Those drops seemed to work ... but they had several possible side effects, ranging through depression, chest pain, slow heartbeat, and yes, death--long odds, but nevertheless possible. Discussions with the doctor revealed that laser surgery on what is called the angle of the eye could achieve the same result as those drops without the risks implied with the prescription; but to do the surgery, the surgeon had to go actually inside the eyeball. Gavin asked, "Why not combine two things: cataract surgery (since you estimate that work is probably something like one year in my future) and the laser work on the angle?"
In the School of Wicca we had to consider way back in the 1960s what would happen if the School failed. The answer to that was to work out a second source of income. At first that took the form of raising hogs and then turned into writing books and finally, upon retirement, into Social Security.
Always have a Plan B. Two examples: (1) If you don't like the ingredients of the vaccines for swine flu, you could think about strengthening your immune system. This is known as approaching the matter from the Other End. Get your immune system up to speed with more exercise; perhaps taking some oregano-oil capsules and natural Vitamins E and C will prevent a bad attack of flu and probably many other illnesses too.
(2) You and a companion are waiting to check out at a row of checkout registers. Let one partner stand in each line. Whichever line moves the faster, that's where the person with the shopping cart will move to.
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* That's where he and Yvonne met.