... may not very often cost lives, but can cost friends, respect, and, most easily of all, accuracy. As an academic, this is something that I should know well, and indeed, do value very highly. Don't say something that you can't back up; where's your evidence for this; where is your argument; in short, don't just assert something, but give me a reason (preferably more than one) to believe it.
And then, when I come home and dash off a blog post, I forget my own rules and values in my rush to write something readable that doesn't make me look like I'm too far up my own arse (an ever present fear, I assure you) and end up stating for posterity something which a moment's thought would have revealed to be inaccurate.
I said yesterday that my monkey box was 'crudely made', and was, very rightly (and not for the first time, but nicely as always) pulled up by Blossom for this solecism. It is not crudely made; even in the photo you can see that it is very neatly put together; the lid fits beautifully; it is completely solid with no wobbles or loose joints or gaps. Even I, who know next to nothing about woodwork, can see all that.
So what was I thinking of? OK, here are my excuses. Not having an instant eye for woodwork, these factors didn't immediately come to mind. They were, in a way, taken for granted; unappreciated. What I saw instead was the simplicity of the design; the open back and sides (perfectly suited to its intended positioning and use), and its general chunkiness. A moment's thought should have told me that this didn't add up to 'crudely made', but I didn't give it a moment's thought, and therein lies the lesson. So my apologies to Roger Hatchard and those who know him for carelessly maligning his craftsmanship.
I know that by blogging at all I will always be giving hostages to fortune; and I am gradually learning not to mind displaying my ignorance - because I want to learn, and you can't do that if you think you know it all already (and how could I know anything but a tiny fraction of what there is to know, in so short a time?), or even if you pretend to know more than you do. Of course like everyone else I've been guilty of nodding sagely while something goes completely over my head, but I hope that more and more I will have the confidence to say, hang on, I don't really know about that, could you tell me about it... And people who really do know what they're talking about will, in my experience, be more than happy to do so.
And why then do I blog, given that it's suce a potential minefield? It started out as a way of keeping a record for myself, a sort of diary, literally a log, in fact. It was also intended as a way of keeping family and friends up to date with what I'm doing, boat wise, but they've turned out not to be all that interested :-( It's because like many bloggers, I'm a wannabe journalist; I love writing for an audience, putting words together for best effect. It's light relief from academic writing. And what it's turned out to be, quite unexpectedly, is a way of 'meeting' other people with similar interests, tales to tell and information to share. Of course I will continue to put my foot in it from time to time - and to be mortified when I do - and I hope they will forgive me.