Updated Wisdom

By Jim McCloskey

Let’s stroll back to February 2010:  It was about the time we at WaterShapes started getting serious about establishing an Internet presence – and more than a year before we stopped publishing printed editions of the magazine and went all-digital.

Back then, we saw the web site as more of a support mechanism for the magazine than a stand-alone resource.  Even so, we knew from the get-go that we needed to keep the site and its newsletter populated with articles and features that belonged to the Internet alone – “web exclusives,” as they’re called – and couldn’t expect watershapes.com to thrive without lots of those exclusives.

In March 2010, I had lunch with Scott Cohen of Green Scene Landscaping & Pools and, afterward, took a tour of his offices and finally heard what he had by way of an agenda for our get-together – namely, The Candid Contractor.  It was a book idea he had, and he was interested in having Eric Herman and I help him usher it into print.

It was ready-made:  He had files of notes and photographs on projects he’d examined as an expert witness in construction-defect cases – documentation he put to use within his own company to help his crews avoid just the sort of problems he’d been called on to investigate.  I let him know that we’d be delighted to help if he was willing to let us publish a number of the case files through our soon-to-launch digital newsletter and on our site.

The result was the Lessons Learned series, which appeared steadily in our newsletters for several months and ultimately became the book mentioned above:  The Candid Contractor:  Lessons Learned from the Construction Defect Expert Witness Files of Scott Cohen, which first appeared in printed form in October 2011.

Scott and I had lunch again recently, and this time I was the one with the undisclosed agenda:  I asked if he’d kept up his files of “candid” cases and whether he wanted to get more of them out into the marketplace.  He responded in the affirmative, and the result is the premiere of an all-new series of Lessons Learned articles in this edition of the WaterShapes newsletter.

As yet, neither of us has a clear idea of how many of these we’ll be running through WaterShapes, but I’d imagine there will be a dozen or so – and that these will all be rolled up along with some other new (but previously unpublished) chapters to form a second edition of Scott’s handy little book.  It goes without saying that every installment will be helpful – and that there’s a distinct benefit to learning from others’ mistakes and mending your ways before you make them on your own!


The International Pool|Spa|Patio Expo ran true to form – although I must concede that the predictions I made in my last blog were slightly off the mark:  To be sure, I had all of the conversations I thought I’d have (except one, as, sadly, I didn’t run into anyone with whom I could bemoan the absence of Mark Urban):  It’s just that it took longer to get up to the counts I’d anticipated than the 75 minutes I’d allowed.

What I didn’t expect at all was the number of people who stopped by in the 15 minutes or so after the WaterShapes newsletter was released to let me know they’d just received it.  Folks are so wired into their smart phones these days that I should have seen this coming, but it was truly encouraging to get such immediate feedback:  It gave me a warm feeling as the show settled into its usual rhythms.

I haven’t checked the calendar to see if things will work out the same way next year, when the show moves back to Las Vegas.  If there’s another overlapping of dates, I know that, next time, I won’t be complaining so much about the disruption to my routines!

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