Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Is My Saw Sharp Enough?

"Saw-sharpening" is shorthand for this cautionary tale of a frustrated lumberjack.

There's a guy who stumbled into a lumberjack in the mountains. The man stops to observe the lumberjack, watching him feverishly sawing at this very large tree. He noticed that the lumberjack was working up a sweat, sawing and sawing, yet going nowhere. The bystander noticed that the saw the lumberjack was using was about as sharp as a butter knife. So, he says to the lumberjack, "Excuse me Mr. Lumberjack, but I couldn't help noticing how hard you are working on that tree, but going nowhere." The lumberjack replies with sweat dripping off of his brow, "Yes... I know. This tree seems to be giving me some trouble." The bystander replies and says, "But Mr. Lumberjack, your saw is so dull that it couldn't possibly cut through anything." "I know", says the lumberjack, "but I am too busy sawing to take time to sharpen my saw."

I typically fall prey to just the opposite: too much time obsessing over tools and -- I fear -- not enough time actually chopping down trees. That's not entirely misguided; in a fast-changing industry like software development it's easy to "relax" for four or five years find yourself terminally behind the curve.

Just ask those 50 year-old COBOL programmers who were laid off from a bank somewhere and can't find work any more because of "ageism."

Right now, I think I'm in a pretty good place. I'm mostly current on my tools, and I'm mostly focused on work instead of scanning Github and the Visual Studio Extension Gallery for new gems and extensions every day.


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