Over the past five years or so, I’ve been training hard. No, not to run a marathon, but to be able to complete the NY Times Saturday Crossword. It’s true; I’ve become one of those weirdoes who can finish it most weeks without cheating.

Last week’s was particularly vicious. I love the struggle, but got to the point where I had to shake my stuckness loose by looking up an answer. That was enough to get me moving again.

I knew the upper right-hand corner was doable if I could just work hard enough.

12 down: Pride of Moscow?

A question mark at the end of a clue often means they’re looking for a clever answer rather than a literal one.

Hmmm. Russia…what could “pride” mean? Being proud of? Lions? Gay pride? Local landmark? Russian treasure? Russian embarrassment? Nothing was coming.

Meanwhile, I kept working on the 3-letter across clues.

Through that activity, I got the following letters for 12 down: M-I-S-S-I-D-A-H-O. I don’t know a lot about Russian but I know that this combination of letters is not particularly Soviet. Pride of Moscow? There must be something wrong.

After I finished every square, I began checking my work by looking up questionable answers (12-down). Indeed, I had the letters right. What?

OK, if that’s true, what did I miss in my exploration of the clue?

Ohhhhhh, there’s a Moscow Idaho. Duh.

Miss Idaho, of course.

If you looked at the photo above, you probably saw it right away. Even though I had all the letters right, I didn’t see it because I wasn’t looking for it. I was looking for something having to do with Russia. I was looking through my very thick bias.

We do that sometimes. We miss something really cool right in front of us because we’re expecting something else.


  • Missing a great business opportunity because you’re hyper-focused on a different one.
  • Missing a really great guy/gal because you think all men/women are __________ (fill in the blank)
  • Missing a great opportunity because you think that nothing good ever happens to you.

Are you missing something really cool that’s right in front of you because you’re expecting something else?