This is a story I adapted from The New Market Wizards, by Jack Schwager.
One cold winter morning a young man walks five miles through the snow. He knocks on the Jademaster’s door. The Jademaster answers with a broom in his hand.
“I want to learn about Jade.”
“Very well then, come in out of the cold.”
They sit by the fire sipping hot green tea. The Jademaster presses a green stone deeply into the young man’s hand and begins to talk about tree frogs. After a few minutes, the young man interrupts.
“Excuse me, I am here to learn about Jade, not tree frogs.”
The Jademaster takes the stone and tells the young man to go home and return in a week. The following week the young man returns. The Jademaster presses another green stone into the young man’s hand and continues the story. Again, the young man interrupts. Again, the Jademaster sends him home. Weeks pass. The young man interrupts less and less. The young man also learns to brew the hot green tea, clean up the kitchen and sweep the floors. Spring comes.
One day, the young man observes, “The stone I hold is not genuine Jade.”
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
I lean back in my chair, savoring the story. My newly hired spam analyst interrupts.
“Okay, okay. That’s a great story. I don’t see what it has to do with fighting spam. I came to this company to find out about anti-spam techniques. I want to learn about machine learning, statistical interpretation, botnets, reputation based sending, distributed checksums and image analysis. I want to go after the spammers. You tell me a fable about Jade. What is this? You…”
“That’s all for now. Leave those regex books on the table. Come back next week and I’ll have some more stuff for you.”
Months pass. My student interrupts less and less as I continue the story of The Spam-Fighter’s Window.