Go Away and Return [To Your Problem]

There are some tasks that must be done alone without distraction. The old-fashioned job of aligning report columns for printing is one such job, and it is from an alternate punishment dimension.  The job is sometimes unavoidable and must look neat.

Every column has to align, and if you are using a COBOL/PL-I language like Informix 4GL, your variables have to be able to accommodate the maximum or minimum value you expect. Using a language like Python would fix some of these problems but would introduce the need to find a report generation module as good as Informix 4GL’s, despite the age of the technology. So, either way, it is a job few want to do.

At the end of last week, I had to break away from a job, because the data was not printing out in one column. I had been laboring over it too long and could not seem to fix the problem. It turns out the values were really printing out, but printing out way too far to the right of the page. By looking at the job today in the absence of co-workers and phones ringing, fixing it took a couple of hours. But, the couple of hours were very productive.

I have known this to be true for years. I just keep returning to behavior of struggling with a problem endlessly without a break. I have to remember I’m not living in a science fiction episode like the X-files. Dire things probably not happen by waiting for a day or two.

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