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Stanford River Talk

Out of Order

Martin Ranger shares his laws and disorder

After a particularly busy period for our self-catering unit, I found a quiet moment to calculate our latest operating profit. The result allowed me to dream pleasantly of a family treat - visions of a few days away at a smart game lodge, perhaps a new flat-screen TV and a donation to our favourite charity all crossed my mind. Of course I completely forgot about Ranger’s Law of Personal Finance # 1. This states that ‘cars or domestic appliances will fail and need repair or replacement whenever surplus cash becomes available’.

Sure enough, in the space of the next three days my car’s battery, an auxiliary kitchen water heater and our gas range all packed up and needed to be replaced. The latter was the most expensive and complex of the three to substitute. Now, in a world of meteoric technological innovation, where Apple products are harvested annually, the latest cooking stove offerings are positively Victorian. The new stove – proudly bearing its German brand-name though it was actually made in Italy – offered but one new feature over its nine-year-old predecessor: the oven light comes on when you open the door. Wow! I guess somebody at the factory’s R and D department must have just acquired a fridge.

Imagine if the communications or motor industries had made similar progress. We would still be using mobile phones the size of pencil boxes and cars would have fins and side-valve engines. (To be fair Detroit and Munich mastered the technology of door-opened lighting way back in the fifties.)

Wondering about the Ranger's Second Law? 'Following a service, a domestic appliance will perform less effectively that it did before.'

Martin Ranger

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