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On Spring, Gardening, Apple Pie and Defocusing (Rhythm of Testing)

On March 23, 2015, in Syndicated, by Association for Software Testing
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Too Much Fun

I’ve had an absolutely crazy couple of weeks. Way too much to do in too short of a period of time. Along with that, there has been too many things that are “absolutely top priority.”  You know how that is – where there is a stack of “absolutely can not wait items.”

Not just work stuff – but life stuff.  Home and family stuff that needs to be addressed. People who need help with something. All of this is important, right? All of it takes energy.

In the mean time, there is stuff that seems, well, maybe too big to handle on your own? Problems that don’t seem to have a solution?

Maybe you never had that issue. Maybe you never had a problem like that.

Spring 

Ah well – Winter seems to be gone, in my neighborhood anyway. Most of the snow has melted. There are some very large piles of snow that are hanging around – and even they are a shadow of what they were a month or so ago.

It has been warm all week. Now, “warm” is relative. I do live in Michigan. (Today we reached the scorching high temperature of 48F/8C.)

The result is, I could spend time working in the garden on Saturday. Gardening is a wonderful thing. No, really. Saturday, I cleaned up the last of the Christmas decorations that were in the front garden.

Well, these were fake poinsettias set in garden pots in the front yard, that had, around Christmas time, small, lighted trees on them. There was 1 one each side of the front steps. The small, lighted trees and the garland came down some time ago. I also took down the red led “mini-lights” that were on the weeping cherry tree in the front garden.

The lights are kind of fun. The last several years we’ve wrapped lights up the stem and onto branches of the tree. When they are lighted at night, the tree looks like a red palm tree.  Oh. We also wrap green lights around the tree. The green lights go on the tree first, then the red lights.

The red lights are turned on just before Christmas. They stay on until after Valentine’s Day. My habit is to unplug the red lights and turn on the green lights on March 1 – St. David’s Day. They stay on until sometime after St. Patrick’s Day.

They need to come down shortly after that most years, because as the weather warms, the flowers in the garden begin awakening and the weeping cherry begins to bud out.  We need to get the lights off the tree before that gets going full steam. So, the red lights came down Saturday. I left the green lights on for now. They may come down tomorrow.

Gardening 

After putting the lights and fake flowers away, I got out the rake and gently raked around the plants in the front garden. The daffodils and other flowers beginning to poke out, if not blooming, were exposed from their layer of leaves that covered the garden all winter.

Scooping up those leaves is a very satisfying thing. Really. They are bagged up and the plants were exposed – and, to be perfectly frank. The garden looks really nice after this – in an early spring sort of way.

Working in the garden this time of year gives a certain level of satisfaction that may not be there at other times. The ground, as it awakens from its winter sleep, has a healthy scent of strength, growth and new life.

Clearing away the collected leaves and various bits of… stuff, that settled over the winter reveals new growth and a promise of beauty in a matter of weeks. Mind you, there is a certain beauty of the garden as it is.

It no longer looks as a wild, abandoned place. Instead, it looks like a place where the growing things can be seen for what they are and the promise that they have for beauty later in the year.

It is funny how satisfying a few minutes work can be. Obvious results and a sense of completion that often is missing in software. Sure. We can say we “finished” a project, but mostly we see evidence around that “finish.”  We don’t actually see the results.

Seeing results is pretty cool. That is why I like gardening.

Another reason is, you can do it and completely relax your mind.  There is no reason whatsoever to engage in deep thoughts on what is to be done or how – you just do it. And it is done. And it is a pleasure to look at.

Apple Pie

It is an excellent way to get something tangible done and free the mind. The thing is, sometimes the best thing you can do when you have a pile of work that “must get done,” is to work on something unrelated. It helps clear the brain and rest the mind – even while working on something else.

Do you remember Men In Black? The movies with Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones playing Agents in an unnamed, extra-governmental agency dealing with aliens? The third movie in the collection featured Will Smith going back in time to help a young Tommy Lee Jones deal with an evil alien before he can kill Tommy Lee Jones?

At one point, they wander into a diner for pie – well, because grand-daddy talked about the power of pie. Some debate, hemming and hawing – and –

Apple pie – with a slice of cheese on it.

And Will Smith’s character goes off on how he always orders that and… the light goes on. The odd comment made earlier suddenly makes sense.

And there is a classic example of the point – Defocusing.

Stepping away from the problem at hand to work on something else. The mind is freed from what it has been mired in. While working on another problem, the solution sometimes (often) presents itself.

Why? In my case, it is because I let go and worked on something “mindless.” This activity allows me to let off steam and mentally relax and let go.

This gives me two results.

One, a task I need to do gets done (like, work in the garden).
Two, in the midst of raking and pulling and cleaning, I find the answer I had been struggling to find while I was “working” on it.

I don’t know if it will work work for everyone. I  just know it works for me – and a lot of people I know.

 

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