I find my life is full of metaphors, some fit well, others may be a stretch.
Over the Memorial Day holiday weekend, I celebrated by doing yard work. Actually, after days of sitting at a computer, there is something very rewarding about doing sweaty, manual labor, doing something with your hands. On Sunday, we took down a 30 foot tree in our yard that was messy and blocking the vegetable garden, and on Monday, we took down a dead mesquite tree at my mother in law’s house.
There is nothing like the power of a chainsaw in your hands… well it is better when the saw works well. I bought one a year or two ago when we needed to do some clearing up at our cabin, and the last few times using the saw, it has been a real test of patience. The chain gets dull, falls off, jams, the unit leaks oil all inside its case. On Sunday, I had to put the chain back on at least 6 times, a process that is a balancing act needing about 3 hands and some dexterity to avoid the hot engine from searing your skin. We got most of it cut, but at 100+ degrees, we left the main trunk for another day.
At my mother-in-laws, the saw was even more misbehaving, and eventually jammed completely as the internal metal spring that wraps around the drive wheel got bent out of shape and could not be re-engaged. I was being rather stubborn, thinking I could bend and tweak this tool to get it working, but wisely listened to my better half. We dashed off to Home Depot, compared models, and got a new one that was a bit better (and $50 more).
The new saw was like a dream. It cut the old dead tree like butter, never jammed, and did not shake the skin off my arm. It was fun, and I ran out of things to cut ;-)
Sometimes you just need to drop the old tool that you’ve been nursing along and get something new. Forget about the pride in keeping something old or not really working well patched together. I think there is some sort of metaphor there related to software, but that might be presumptuous.
The post "Chainsaw Weekend (The Tool Metaphor)" was originally assembled from spare parts of a 1957 Chevy at CogDogBlog (http://cogdogblog.com/2005/05/chainsaw-weekend-the-tool-metaphor/) on May 31, 2005.