Browsing the archives for the Mistakes category

Grabbing the Bull by the Horns

Life as it is, Mistakes, Twitter

I have been busy lately. Lots of things have been happening, and so of course I have been making mistakes and learning from them.

  • My photography class on wildflower photography was a success, but an uncalibrated monitor taught me a lot more about post processing than I ever imagined.
  • I won a $1 bet with a friend of mine about redecorating and designing my home computer room. What I learned about 10-year old dirt in the corners is not sharable on a family-rated blog. (My teens read this, I fear.) I also got a crash course in vacuum maintenance.
  • I found an unexpected sunset hour to photograph birds in Brazos Bend State Park, and learned not to look away from alligators that are within six feet of me

But there has been another learning mistake as well. I mentioned previously the White Bread Warning, that if I use the same recipe, I will get the same bread. And I am finding that to be absolutely true in regards to this blog and my Twitter feed.

Time and again, I think of something interesting to write, and decide instead that it can wait a day because at least my Twitter entries, or tweets, are still being posted for that day. And then days become weeks, and the weeks start to stretch on as well. Pretty soon, I have the same result of empty blogging – a blog made up of tweet entries. And my main thoughts and ideas that I want to share being put off again and again.



So it is time to take the bull by the horns and turn off the feature that took tweets and made them blog entries. It’s a neat feature, but I am falling into the same trap I fell into previously. I will still keep the Twitter sidebar up of what I am recently doing, but those tweets just won’t become posts.

This forces me to write and to write regularly. And trust me, I need the practice! And well, I always have some wisdom to share that I learned from some recent mistake.

This way, when I next want to share with you how I learned that sandals offer zero toe protection from “stubbing impact” because of my error in not looking where I am going – well, now I will have to really blog about it and not rely on the tweets catching it anyway….

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Rejoicing in my Imperfections?

family, Life as it is, Mistakes, Spiritual Journey, Vulnerability

I found a note in some old writing of mine that says, “If I ever figure out how to celebrate my imperfections, why, I could have a life of constant celebration.”

My inner critic has really been kicking up a storm lately. I was complaining to someone about how I broke a promise to my son to run an errand for him tonight, and that my teen aged daughter was having an emotional meltdown concerning the telephone. I found myself yearning to be a better dad than I am, and to have better skills than I have, and be better organized than I am.

This is the point where I usually will excuse myself for a short self-pity break. Then I came across this brief story in some of my old journals:

A man visited his Rabbi. He sat and said that he had spent his life trying to live according to what the Rabbi taught, but after all these years he had gained nothing. He was still an ignorant and foolish man. The Rabbi turned to him and said, ”But you have gained an awareness that you are ignorant and foolish, and that is something.”

And now, things are still the same in my home. It is hard to be a single father of two teens. It is hard to stay organized and work like i do and also have my own hobby and life. And I have spent a lot of time working and studying and learning and trying and counseling and being counseled and still I am not the father and man I want to be. No matter how long it seems I have been traveling this road, I am just not there yet.



But, I have gained an awareness of the fact that I am not yet the man I want to be. And that awareness of my imperfections is something of value. And it must really be something too, because i can almost catch a glimmer of what it is to celebrate my imperfections and that there is such a well-perceived gap between who I am and who I want to be.

Tonight I celebrate my imperfections. Tomorrow, I will continue my journey. Who will join me in the party and the adventure?

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The White-Bread Warning

Change, Life as it is, Mistakes, photography

In his book, The Secrets of Consulting, Gerald Weinberg uses parables and simple summaries to make his points about consulting. It’s a great book, and one I suggest to everyone that wants to become a consultant.

But consulting is not why I was thinking of one of those simple summaries on Saturday night, sitting in the mud in a marsh in a state park. I was sitting in the mud, having just fallen backwards, for the second time. That’s when Weinberg’s White Bread Warning came to me.

White Bread Warning:
“If you use the same recipe, you get the same bread.”

I had a burst of wisdom the moment before I fell the second time when I realized that I had been doing just what I was doing right before the first time I fell in the mud. I was photographing spider lilies in a muddy marsh and was lowering my tripod by changing the angle of the legs, and I started with the leg opposite me. This moved the tripod closer to me and meant I needed to step backwards. This muddy marsh was sucking our boots into itself and it often took a real effort to pull my feet free. So sure enough, I needed to step backwards again, my feet were stuck, and so backwards into the mud and marshwater I went… again.

Some people will recognize the White Bread Warning as a corollary to the insanity of “Trying the same thing again and again, expecting different results.” I have often heard the same idea expressed as:

If you keep doing what you are doing, you will keep getting what you are getting.

So, since I was no longer dry, I decided to stay on my knees in the mud and water and lower my tripod that way, and then shot from my knees. Here’s the shot that I got as a result:



Learning when I have a bad recipe and then making changes is, in some ways, pretty basic stuff. But it’s also the very basis of the sort of wisdom that comes from making mistakes.

After all, as a consultant to myself – that is advising myself on better ways to get through my day – I need to always be on the lookout for where recipes don’t work. Because one possible corollary of the White Bread Warning might be summed up as:

If I use a better recipe than i was using before, I will get better bread.

And I know I could use better bread than what I usually make for myself….

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Twitter and I

Mistakes, Twitter

As a part of admitting my error in letting my blog become only an echo of my tweets from twitter these past months, I thought i would start in looking at Twitter itself.

A little over four months ago, in a small forum for local photographers, someone brought up Twitter, and how many of us were using it.  I know that previously phone numbers would be made available on links at twitter.com to reach people for gathering together – but that was almost all that I knew about twitter.  Well, ok, that’s not true.  I did also know that it was getting bigger – because more people i knew were using it, and i was seeing all sorts of integration tools for twitter as well.

So I decided to ask the group a question:

How do you use it, what do you get out of Twitter? What does a twittered life have that is so cool?

And I got all sorts of answers that mostly seemed to say, “try it and see”.  I researched it further and found the professionals equally perplexed at Twitter’s success.  In fact, Twitter seems to have been a spin off of a larger tech startup where this one small piece had greater value than the whole.

Even the reviewers did not seem to have good answers:

So why has Twitter been so misunderstood? Because it’s experiential. Scrolling through random Twitter messages can’t explain the appeal. You have to do it — and, more important, do it with friends. (Monitoring the lives of total strangers is fun but doesn’t have the same addictive effect.) Critics sneer at Twitter and Dodgeball as hipster narcissism, but the real appeal of Twitter is almost the inverse of narcissism. It’s practically collectivist — you’re creating a shared understanding larger than yourself.
Clive Thompson on How Twitter Creates a Social Sixth Sense

So I created an account and tried it out.  I soon was able to put together a model in my head for what it was – but it didn’t answer for me the question of what it did.  It reminded me of IRC – the old Internet Chat standard – except everyone was starting “muted” or silent and I had to find and turn on each one to hear them.  I also had to get my friends to join in, and there were concerns for what a time-sink this could be.

And so that is how i ended up letting merewisdom.org become a twitter echo only.  I found myself listening to my friends navigating their days.  Small details – never more than the 140-character limit of Twitter – of my friends’ lives surfaced.  Listening to a couple of friends planning dinner with one another, or someone else sharing a new web site, or being able to tweet a question to my group of friends and get many answers back.  That’s what Twitter did for me.

A sonar ping only carries so much information about where ships or obstacles are at that moment, but over time it can paint a detailed landscape of information about what each ship or obstacle is doing, and who is on or off course.

Of course, Twitter is still a part of my life and this blog.  i just won’t let it replace my own landscape imagery.  You deserve more than just a sonar map of my life and my errors and my occasional lessons i have learned.

You deserve a guided tour….

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Empty Blogging

Life as it is, Mistakes, Twitter

At a recent Twitter meetup, I was commenting on how my tweets were the primary source of content for merewisdom.org. That I had resorted to it so my blog would still let visitors have a rough idea of what i was up to lately, without blogging regularly. In fact, it had been so successful that I had not written an entry in some time.

“Isn’t that just “‘Empty Blogging’?” came the reply.

And the more i thought about it, the more the label seemed to fit. I mean, it’s not nearly as empty as months of no content, but on the other hand the idea behind this blog – that is a place to admit mistakes and learn from them – was also not being fulfilled at all. Having a daemon copy my tweets for me is not at all giving me a forum for learning from my mistakes, nor does it pass on anything i learn along the way.

So from the view of the reason for this site – filling it with only tweets is certainly empty – I agree.

There is a lot happening in my life and a lot of mistrakes I’ve been making, and even a desire to hide some of those mistakes – and that is an attitude that never works towards my growth.

So the tweet-only phase of merewisdom.org was a mistake.

What i learned from it is that if i am making the sharing of myself simple, brainless and mostly painless… then i will end up with a site that is simple, mindless and of little value.

What i do next will be interesting to watch – for me at least…. Will you join me on that journey?

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