Giving back

Yesterday I learned another two-part lesson. I was trying to figure out how to change the stylesheet for one of the blogs that I administer so that it would indent the first line of all the paragraphs in a post.

I had already gone to the W3Schools website, a great resource by the way, and investigated the learning CSS section but hadn’t located the “text-indent” property that clearly does exactly what I wanted to do. So I emailed my friends Daryl Houston and Mike Neel and asked if what I wanted to do were possible. It was Mike who got back to me first and pointed out that the text-indent property did what I wanted and then helped me locate more specifically where in the style.css file in my template I should place it to achieve my objective. So the first thing I learned was how to modify that component on the blog.

But the more important lesson was one that Mike Neel taught me by how he answered my question. When I visited with my son Mike last night, he pointed out to me that “if you tell a dumbass he is a dumbass, it’ll piss him off every time.” Mike Neel had the patience and decency not to point out to me that I was being a dumbass for not being able to locate the text-indent property. Instead he just answered my question and was helpful, whatever he may have thought of it.

I also often have the chance to answer what seems to me to be a simple question that has an obvious answer. I hope to be reminded by yesterday’s experience to be patient and decent in giving back those things I know, in the same spirit that Mike Neel shared his expertise with me yesterday. There’s an art to being helpful without being haughty. Thanks, Mike, for reminding me of that.

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