Tomorrow there will be a big sponsor visit to our lab. So this evening I was working with my brilliant student Aaron, debugging one of our demo programs.

As is often the case, we discovered after about two hours that the cause of the bug was something we’d never suspected. In fact, we had been looking in the wrong place entirely.

The solution was incredibly simple, once we finally saw it. In some ways it felt as though we had just wasted two hours.

Trying to be cheerful about the whole thing, I told Aaron that it hadn’t really been a waste of time. We had learned something, a new place to look for problems in the code, that maybe we could use the next time around.

Aaron didn’t seem completely convinced. “That would be the hope,” he shrugged.

I decided to give him the benefit of my greater maturity and experience. “Learning from your mistakes works for everything,” I told him. “Except, of course, for relationships.”

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