DBA Proverbs

Regular readers of my column in Database Trends & Applications, or of my earlier blogs know that I am a fan of applying famous sayings and quotes to the job of database administration. With that in mind, in today’s blog post I’d like to share some of my favorite quotes and how they apply to database professionals.

Number one comes from Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” books. It goes as follows:

 [Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a 
        Cheshire cat in a tree.]
 'Would you tell me, please, which way I ought 
        to go from here?'
 'That depends a good deal on where you want 
        to go,' said the Cat.
 'It doesn't much matter where,' said Alice.
 'Then it doesn't matter which way you go,' 
        said the Cat.

There is wisdom baked into that absurdist conversation. How many times have you started to work on something without actually knowing the desired end result? Of course, you could just go with another of my favorite quotes, this time from Yogi Berra, who said famously, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” But where would that lead you?

Along the same lines, there is this quote from B.F. Skinner:

 "It isn't that they can't see the solution.
        It is that they can't see the problem."

This applies to IT as easily as it applies to life in general. If you cannot see the problem then you’ll never formulate a workable solution to that problem. This one applies to vendors quite a bit. How many times has someone tried to sell you a “solution” when all he really has to sell is his product. You cannot sell a solution if you don’t know what the problem is, folks!

Disagree with that? Then I’d offer you another couple of quotes, the first one comme from Caron De Beaumarchais, who said:

"It is not necessary to understand things in 
        order to argue about them."

And this one comes from Thomas Edison:

 "There is no expedient to which a man will not
        go to avoid the labor of thinking."

Both of these quotes speak of our inherent laziness. Quite often we start to argue before knowing what it is we are arguing about. Or we are so caught up in our own position that we don’t stop to listen and hear what others are saying. I admire people who change their minds when they are confronted with different facts or a changing ideology. If you believe the same things today that you did when you were in college then you aren’t likely to be very bright (at least IMHO).

Maybe one of the most applicable quotes for software vendors comes from Abraham Maslov who said:

 "If the only tool you have is a hammer,
        you tend to see every problem as a nail."

I would add to that one, this one from Thomas Fuller:

 "A bad workman never gets a good tool."

Matching tools to problems can create solutions. But this (usually)applies only if you have the right tools.

And finally, one of the world’s brightest sages was W.C. Fields who said:

 "The world is made up of only three things:
        oxygen, nitrogen, and baloney!"

Remember that one the next time you are knee deep in a data modeling session… everything can always be boiled down to oxygen, nitrogen, or a load of baloney!

Hope you enjoyed my favorite quotes. If you have your own favorites please feel free to share them with everyone in the comments section.

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About craig@craigsmullins.com

I'm a strategist, researcher, and consultant with nearly three decades of experience in all facets of database systems development.
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8 Responses to DBA Proverbs

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  8. Peyton says:

    Great article post. Really looking forward to read more. Much obliged.

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