Pinch of Salt Graphic (English)

For years, I defended the fact that I was perfect.

It wasn't my fault. I had been blessed with the ability to never make a mistake, and I had a tendency to get mad if anyone even started to question any statement, decision or action I made.

It can be quite a shock to discover that you're not quite as perfect as you thought. It probably set me back at least five years.

Ironically, it happened at about the same time as I became a believer in Jesus. Well, there might be some connection, but that's another story for another day.

Accepting my failures didn't come easily. I had been taught since early childhood that being a perfectionist was a good thing, and that I shouldn't accept anything but the best from myself.

You don't unlearn that stuff in a day.

I still get mad at myself when I make a mistake. I am, after all, the hardest person to forgive I know.

But hopefully it is a little clearer now to those around me that I'm mad at myself, not at them. And I have learned to temper my action (most of the time) as I grow older.

I don't know a single person who likes to make mistakes. However, I do know some who actually live that old admonition to learn from our mistakes. I envy them, and try to remind myself of that approach almost every day.

My business makes it hard to live with mistakes. That's because when I mess up, it's usually in print. I have yet to figure out a way to get 52,000 copies of the Grunion back to fix something. That misspelling or wrong fact is in that edition of the Grunion as long as print exists.

We, along with most of our media brethren, try to correct all errors with an explanation, a correction, in the next edition. And in this internet world of ours, it's easy to go in and fix a story. (Changing stuff on the internet is its own serious issue, but we'll save that one for another time, too.)

That doesn't make it feel any better, and it doesn't stop critics from relishing the opportunity to point out errors. It comes with the territory, though. At least that means they're reading, right?

All this leads up to the admission that I got the concept of currency valuation and manipulation all wrong in last week's Pinch of Salt. For the very few of you who might have missed that gem of a column, I tried to explain why it was a big deal when China decided to devalue its currency, the yuan.

You'd think that a wordsmith such as I purport to be would check definitions and meanings before going out on a limb. I didn't do that with devalue, and now I'm paying the price.

I assumed that devalue meant dropping the value of something (right so far). But I somehow translated that into saying a devalued yuan meant you could buy things for fewer yuan — exactly wrong. 180 degrees. The opposite is true.

A yuan that is devalued buys less. And it is worth less compared to the dollar. So that means  … wait, that's where I got into deep water last week. I suggest you find a good economy teacher to explain what it means. All I know for sure is that it's a bad thing for America. And no doubt someone is going to dispute that, too.

So there it is. I was wrong. I made a mistake. Again. I'll try to do better next time.

I know. I'll try to learn from my mistake.

Thanks for reading. 

Harry has been executive editor of Gazette Newspapers for more than 26 years. He has been in the newspaper business for more than 35 years, with experience on both weekly and metropolitan daily papers in Colorado and California.

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