Some things we do well, some things we suck at. I’m a pretty good athlete, and a really bad singer. I’m good with my hands, but can’t dance a lick. I can handle risk and read a balance sheet, but suffer paralysis of analysis when it’s time to dump a stock. The ying and the yang of life, I guess, everyone is a rock star at something.

Some talents we learn by years of repetition, tasks we do for a living or in our leisure time. A few things I learned to do well while working was driving and a well attuned power of observation.  More times than I can count I have managed to avoid disaster on the road by utilizing superior visual horizon.  Similarly, a neighbor cannot plant a new tree in his yard or a new store goes up in my small town without me noticing it. Hold habits die-hard. So imagine my surprise while watching a video on directions and maps, something I always thought I excelled at, when I got handed a big dose of, “Get out a town”?

Yes, I could have walked to the museum in my sleep, and no, I didn’t see any of the thievery going on.

Granted, this was a staged video. Nobody who lives in a big city is going to walk around with his wallet and tablet in an opened shoulder bag. And who steals phones anyway? What good is that? Still, the lesson brought home was that we all miss stuff. We focus, if at all, on one thing while another goes unobserved. What really hurts here is that the thefts were so blatant and public.

While still smarting from the punch in the face I thought I would try another one. Certainly they can’t trick me again;

I suspect there are folks out there that spotted all 3 of the anomalies, I didn’t.


The Great Inspector Callahan once said, “A man has to know his limitations”, bonus points for guessing the movie. This goes hand in hand with having self-awareness, knowing what things you suck at to either compensate or improve.

The question is how diligent you want to be in getting better at it?


My whole life I have been great with faces but terrible at names. Having a deep drawer and an efficient retrieval system, I can spot a face in the crowd and remember where I saw that guy last and when. But someone can introduce me to him half a dozen times and I will probably forget. I used to practice remembering techniques, like repeating someone’s name right after being introduced, sometimes it works. Now I’m too old to give a shit. Much like a bucket that is filled to the top with water, remembering another name will only result in another name being spilled out on the other side. A finite size bucket, I can live with that.

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