It's a good thing I'm a blogger. Yesterday I made a stupid mistake and wrote that the upcoming Sigma 56mm ƒ/1.4 will be available in both Micro 4/3 and Fuji X mount. That was wrong—that was supposed to be Micro 4/3 and Sony E mount. Mostly invisibly to you, I've made this exact error before—I have a sort of brain glitch that makes me confuse those two lensmounts more often than a person of average intelligence such as moi ordinarily would.
I'm pretty interested in the way my brain works, and I typically take note of errors in terms of frequency and type. There are some odd ones. I don't think I'm unusual; I think most people make certain annoying little mental errors. If anything, I'm probably different only in that I'm kind of an "enthusiast" of mine you might say. I tend to notice and track them. (Maybe this is why I love Oliver Sacks.) A persistent one is that I can sometimes get category confusions that stick: for example, in learning the names of the kids in a particular grade back when I was teaching, I learned every name fine except that I got two girls confused, and the confusion turned out to be permanent. I couldn't banish it. It lasted all year. I'd think, that's X...no, wait a minute, I always confuse X with Y...so was my first impression correct or was the correction correct? Sometimes it was one, sometimes it was the other. I never got it quite straight. Somehow certain confusions become stable in my brain. Don't know what that's about, but there it is. The two girls didn't even look alike!
Another thing my brain is bad at is remembering all the contents of a list. I always forget one item on even a short list. And on different occasions it can be different ones. And it happens even when I know the list well. I learned when I was teaching to never go around the room naming each student in turn, because I would invariably stumble on one kid's name (to that kid's distress)...even if it was a kid I knew well, whose name I never forgot one-on-one. If I go to the grocery store with my list in my head, it's inevitable that I'll forget one thing. Just one of the ways my brain works. No clue why.
One of my editor heroes, even before I knew he had a connection to the family, was the late David E. Davis of Car & Driver and Automobile. He turned out to be the best friend of one of my cousins, and so I got to meet him once. Another cousin worked for him for a while at Automobile before moving on to Mazda and Ford. That cousin told a story once about someone getting the name of a van wrong on the cover (!!!) of the magazine. As I recall the story, David E. (as he was known) called the staff together and read them the riot act. No axe fell on that occasion, but he promised that the next time something like that happened, it would.
In other words, if I had made yesterday's mistake working at a big publication, it might have gotten me fired. Or maybe it would have been one big strike among three allowable strikes, maybe. (I probably just wanted it to be available in Fuji mount because I can't afford the XF 56mm ƒ/1.2 Fujinon.)
On a blog, though, you just change it and move on. As I always say, I have a slacker for an assistant, but fortunately my assistant has a very lenient boss. Both me. The 10th step in my 12-step program includes the words "...when we were wrong promptly admitted it." So my policy is just to admit any mistake transparently and move on. Hits happens; erorrs abound; typos never sleep.
Anyway, I'm in luck. I'm not going to fire myself this time. More about the new Sigma when it comes out. And I'll try to be more careful.
Original contents copyright 2018 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved. Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Dave Millier: "Every day is the dawn of a new error as my old software boss used to joke."
Rob de Loe: "Even your mea culpas are a good read and a learning opportunity.
"My own curious brain 'error' is a near total inability to remember items within certain categories. If you stopped me in the street and asked me to name 10 bands I currently like I'd stumble after a few, but I promise you there are way more than 10 bands that I like and listen to all the time. Strange.
"I'm in the teaching biz so your comment about remembering names hit home. I'll share my all-time best 'pro trick': Names go in cycles of popularity. In any large class, there will be multiple people with the same popular names. If 'Emily' was popular 19 years earlier, then in a 100-person class there will be at least 2–3 students named Emily. I scan my class lists at the start of term and pick out all the groups. Then I can just stand in front of the class, look vaguely outwards and say 'Emily, what do you think?' All the Emilys will instantly self-identify by ducking, wincing, etc. I then just pick one at random. 'Yes, that's right, you Emily. What do you think?' Works every time."
Mike replies: I'm actually ahead of you there. As far back as grade school, in classes I didn't like I'd do my best to sit directly in back of another Mike. When the teacher tried to point to me and called out "Mike?", the Mike in front of me would answer and the teacher would let the error go about half the time. I still got called on sometimes, just not as much.
I also had another trick. In 8th grade I had a math teacher, Charles Kerr, an ex-Marine, who was long-suffering when it came to my various shenanigans. In the mornings, at the start of class, we'd review our own homework by going around the room giving the answers in turn so we could check our work. So I'd come in early and just count the seats ahead of me and do the homework question for the seat I was in plus the one on either side (to account for counting anomalies like the inevitable miscreant who hadn't done their homework). Mr. Kerr one week threw me a curve ball by starting from the opposite end of the front row than usual, so I started sitting in the middle of the second row—that way I was safe either way. I only ever did three homework questions per day in that class, and only got caught once.
Still and all, I would guess Charlie Kerr knew exactly what I was up to—that guy was really no fool.
In re your "Emily" gambit, my son had a recurring substitute teacher in early elementary school who called all the boys "Henry" and all the girls "Henrietta." The kids loved it.
Dave Van de Mark: "My earliest years as a computer tech came just as the first hard drives were being installed in PCs. That was a time when nothing about installation was automatic; instead you were required to enter scads of numbers precisely or nothing worked. Soon there were dozens of different hard drives and each had different specs that had to be inputted into the computer. The more you could memorize the better. I only needed to read the specs of a new drive once and they were instantly cemented in my brain. In my shop I was the 'Google' man, able to spit out to a fellow tech all the correct numbers. Looking back, what is interesting to me was I had to be very interested or enthusiastic about the subject for me to retain all the data. If my brain 'cared less' about something, recollection of details was not much better than anyone elses. Now it’s so short I can’t even get to a piece of paper in time to write it down!"
Mike replies: My brother had a good boyhood friend, the banjo player Jim Rollins (he's on YouTube in a few places), who was killed by a drunk driver last year. Jimmy-James had a protean ability to remember phone numbers—he memorized them as soon as he heard them. He was so good at it that in those pre-cellphone days his friends would get him to memorize numbers they needed but Jimmy himself didn't, so he was like the phone book for the group. As I recall, though, he had one problem—he couldn't un-remember numbers after they were no longer relevant. I don't think his memory otherwise was particularly remarkable. R.I.P. Jim Rollins.
Ulrich Brandl: "As a neurologist I can tell you that your brain works quite normally. Our memory works a bit like 'fuzzy logic'—slightly confusing items or non-remembering boring items (e.g. parts of a list) are side effects of an otherwise very effective and intelligent system. There are people with an extremely exact detail memory—but many of these suffer from autism spectrum disorders."
Speed (partial comment): "I can not now and never have been able to remember names. Thanks for the great post, Tom."
Nigli: "Mike, I sympathise. I do some calligraphy, and once I made the same spelling mistake in the same place at least 12 times. Tear up paper, draw new guidlines, write, make mistake, repeat."
Mike replies: Ow!
Randall Teasley: "To erorr is human; to forgive, divine."