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Breaking It To Fix It

December 13, 2016

SUBJECT: Tomorrow I’m planning to break your computer system. Please be aware.

It was the oddest email I ever remember sending out. Normally in my job I wanted to avoid breaking the computer system. In fact, my whole job was to make sure the computer systems didn’t break, and if they did, to get them back online as quickly as possible. So, why would I intentionally break stuff?

In the 2004 presidential election, Senator John Kerry described an experience he had in Vietnam,

We had to destroy the village to save the village.

A friend’s wife recently passed away after a long battle with cancer. During her treatment, she went through chemotherapy. That treatment kills healthy cells as it attempts to also kill cancer cells.

The ring fingers on both of my hands are slightly broken. Each time I broke them, I didn’t know I’d broken them. I play basketball and I thought I’d just jammed them really good. However, eventually the pain went away and the swelling went down and I realized that my finger was crooked. It doesn’t impact my quality of life, so I’ve never bothered to get it looked at. At this point to “fix” my finger, the doctors would have to break my fingers to fix them.

That’s what my email was about. We had a problem a few days earlier and we had rerouted our traffic to correct the problem. When we tried to reroute the traffic back a few days later, my production area broke. So, we put the fix back in place and scheduled a time to bring all of the computer doctors together to look at the issue.

And that’s what led to my email.

Dr Seuss wrote a story about Zax (Zaxes? Zaxi?). There was a South Going Zax who would only go South. This wasn’t a problem until he met a North Going Zax who would only go North. There they stood, nose to nose: Neither Zax willing to “go backward to go forward.” Or more accurately, “step sideways to go forward.” (Here’s a video of the story.) 

It’s difficult to compromise our current health, system availability, single-minded-directional-walking in order to improve our health, system availability or directional-walking. Politics is known as “The art of the Possible.”

Stubborness is not a virtue. It can lead to standing nose to nose with another Zax, or living with broken fingers.

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 

Here’s the Story of the Zax by Dr. Seuss

The Zax – Dr. Seuss
The day before today,One day, making tracks
In the prairie of Prax,
Came a North-Going Zax
And a South-Going Zax.
And it happened that both of them came to a place
Where they bumped. There they stood.
Foot to foot. Face to face.

“Look here, now!” the North-Going Zax said, “I say!
You are blocking my path. You are right in my way.
I’m a North-Going Zax and I always go north.
Get out of my way, now, and let me go forth!”
“Who’s in whose way?” snapped the South-Going Zax.
“I always go south, making south-going tracks.
So you’re in MY way! And I ask you to move
And let me go south in my south-going groove.”
Then the North-Going Zax puffed his chest up with pride.
“I never,” he said, “take a step to one side.
And I’ll prove to you that I won’t change my ways
If I have to keep standing here fifty-nine days!”
“And I’ll prove to YOU,” yelled the South-Going Zax,
“That I can stand here in the prairie of Prax
For fifty-nine years! For I live by a rule
That I learned as a boy back in South-Going School.
Never budge! That’s my rule. Never budge in the least!
Not an inch to the west! Not an inch to the east!
I’ll stay here, not budging! I can and I will
If it makes you and me and the whole world stand still!”

Of course the world didn’t stand still. The world grew.
In a couple of years, the new highway came through
And they built it right over those two stubborn Zax
And left them there, standing un-budged in their tracks.

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