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Pain Or Inertia?

October 13, 2016

I don’t have TV. Oh sure, I own a TV, two or three of them, in fact. But, I don’t have cable, or satellite TV, or even over-the-air service. We cut the cable years ago. So, why was I laying flat on my back staring up at a TV showing an episode of The Profit? 

I was doing something I hadn’t done in years. (2.5 according to the records.) I was at the dentist getting my teeth cleaned. My dentist mounts TVs in the ceiling. I don’t have any particular fear of the dentist. I never had a terrible dentist experience that scarred me for life. I wasn’t avoiding going to the dentist. I simply got off track.

My dentist office, like many others, has a very subtle method to keep their patients coming back. Before you leave your current appointment, they schedule your next one. And then, they have a system of text and email alerts to let you know that your appointment is coming up. Finally, there’s a penalty if you fail to cancel an appointment more than 24 hours in advance. The system is designed to compensate for our worst selves. 

Two and a half years ago, I got off track. I cancelled because something came up. (Probably a trip, but I don’t honestly remember.) Whatever it was, I cancelled and didn’t reschedule. And that was the end of my dentist appointments. I always knew I could get back on track, but there was always something else to do rather than call to set up a dentist appointment. 

Ironically, my family went to the dentist a lot. My lovely wife blocks out a half day at the dentist office and takes all the kids in all at once. Several years ago she quit trying to schedule my dentist appointments. I don’t think she used the words, “I’m not the boss of you,” but she might have.

My dentist appointment was last Tuesday. I visited one other health care professional on Tuesday. I went to see my doctor. I should probably schedule routine physicals and exams. I’m to the age where I’m supposed to get poked and prodded every dozen months or so to make sure that all the pieces still work. That’s not why I was there. 

For the last several months my shoulder has been hurting. It started as a slight intermittent  irritation. It got worse and worse. It’s now to the point where when the pain comes on, I can barely raise my arm. It’s still intermittent, but it has started to seriously impact my quality of life. It hurts. And at times, it hurts a lot. 

What’s this have to do with computers and information technology? We often approach IT tasks like I approach my doctor and dentist visits. Several years ago I set up a backup solution for my home network. I was finally tired of not having something that I could rely on consistently to save my documents, but especially our pictures. I didn’t check the backup very often. I did a few times when I was setting up, but eventually I stopped. I just assumed it was working. 

It wasn’t. 

My backup provider switched their model and gave their users a six month grace period to move their data to the new model. The six months came and went without me needing to access any of my files. I got off track. Unfortunately I didn’t even know I was off track. Once I figured it out, the process was painful to try to recover my files. I spent 90 minutes in the dentist’s chair last Tuesday. After two and a half years, it took longer than normal for them to clean my teeth. . .even though I do a pretty good job brushing and flossing. Once you get off track, getting back on track is tougher than just staying on in the first place. 

I own a nice Microsoft Windows 2012 server. It sits in my basement lab and serves as as a data storage and print server for the people in my house. Or at least it did. . and it will again. . .I think. My server died. It got to the point where it refused to mount the hard drive. It had some issues for a while, but eventually, it got to the point that it hurt too much to go on. I finally unhooked it and hauled it to the computer doctor. My doctor’s name is Sean Neuman. He is working on the computer’s bum shoulder.  

We, or at least I, are (am?) motivated by two things: pain and inertia. I typically don’t got to the doctor until it hurts. . .a lot. If it hurts enough, I’ll go do something to make the pain stop. But, if there is no pain (my teeth feel fine) I can go years without conducting basic maintenance. If I manage to get that maintenance scheduled, so that it just happens and all I have to do is show up, I’ll do it. But, often it takes some pain to get me back on track.

And in case you are curious, I have an MRI scheduled for my neck (5th and 6th vertebra) next week. And the next scheduled cleaning for my teeth is January 10th.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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(c) 2016 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

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