Thursday, July 09, 2015

What is it about the way I am that contributes to the problems around me: Part 2

In my last blog post, I told you a story about my DELAYED and almost TOO-LATE decision to install a standby generator for our mountain home.  My wife had experienced a serious loss of power in sub-zero weather that was life-threatening.  We had similar experiences in the past, but never with such potentially disastrous consequences.

In trying to "practice what I preach," I tried looking at myself as part of that problem and I did not like what I saw.  I shared my conclusions about myself in the last blog post.

In this article, the story continues.  

We picked a contractor to install the generator, and together decided that the fuel for the generator would have to be propane.  The installer suggested to obtain a second, dedicated propane tank for the generator.  We already have a propane tank that supplies fuel for heat for our home, but this propane thank would have to be located in a different area -- an area near the new generator.

Both my wife and I didn't like the idea of an above-the-ground tank located so close to the house (and also close to a road where hunters sometimes get rambunctious with their guns,), so we decided to bury the tank.

I remember thinking:

I'll use my backhoe to dig the hole and save some money.  Besides, it sounds like fun.  It's supposed to be 6 feet deep, 8 feet long, and 3 feet wide.  I've never dug that big a hole before.

I told the contractor that I would dig the hole.  We brainstormed and decided on the best location for the tank.  I marked the area.  The contractor then told me I'd better call "Miss Utility" to mark any power or phone lines in the area -- even though we both knew that those lines were far from the intended dig.  We also looked around for anything else that might be buried underground.  The only thing we could think about was "sewer lines."  I remember saying aloud, to the contractor:

Why would a sewer line be located in this direction when the septic tank is in the opposite direction?

The contractor agreed.

As requested, I scheduled Miss Utility to come to the site.  They marked the public power and phone lines.  As suspected, the lines were far from the dig.  We were totally safe.

The next Saturday, I started the dig.  But on the second draw of the bucket I saw a grayish-looking "hose" emerge from the ground.

Nuts.  I have placed garden hoses in this area before when we used to have a vegetable garden.  It's probably a garden hose.  But I'd better stop and make sure.

I turned off the backhoe, got off, and carefully examined the "hose."  It was not a hose.  It was plastic conduit!  As soon as I saw that it was conduit, I remembered thinking:

Oh no!  That's the line to our satellite internet connection!  I forgot that they ran that line right through this area!

The satellite internet system is very low voltage, so I was not too concerned about myself or someone else getting electrocuted.  But this was our satellite line!

I hope I didn't sever the satellite internet line!

I ran inside the house and looked at my smartphone.  NO SIGNAL. 

Gees!  I severed the line!

I told my wife what happened.  She was annoyed.  I guess I don't blame her.

Didn't you remember that they buried the line right there?   Didn't you see the Satellite Dish?

But the dish was behind our blueberry bushes and could not be seen from where I was.  "Out of sight, out of mind."  She helped me uncover the conduit until we found the severed line.  We pulled it out of the way and I continued digging.

I'll deal with the severed line after I dig this hole.

About 30 minutes later, and about 4 feet down after another pull, I saw pieces of a large, white PVC pipe that I had apparently broken.

Good grief.  That looks like a sewer line!  But it can't be an active line.  Look how far away from the house it is!  I'll bet it's from the old septic system.

I got off the backhoe again, and went into the house and asked my wife to flush a toilet.  I ran outside to look at the severed pipe, and about a minute after she flushed the toilet the water ran out of the pipe!

What!  It's a live line?  What in the heck is the sewer line doing all the way over here!  I'm going to have to stop everything and repair that line or we won't be able to use our bathrooms!

Three hours later, after a frantic trip to town to buy materials, and after a messy, sloppy, disgusting repair job, we called it a day (yes, my wife was out there with me for moral support). 

Now, to practice what I preach.

What follows is an application of our Investigative process to this real-life problem at home.  Some of the terminology might be foreign to you, but most is self-explanatory.  

Actual Behavior:  When digging with a backhoe, I hit a satellite cable and sewer line.
Desired Behavior:  When digging with a backhoe, I avoided the satellite cable and sewer line.

Sequence of Events Leading to the Actual Behavior:
  • Decided to install a standby generator at our home.
  • Decided to bury the propane fuel tank.
  • Before digging, I had “miss utility” map out public power and phone line.
  • I could not think of anything else, so I dug.
Triggering Situation:
  • When I was planning to dig the hole for the propane tank.....
Actual Thoughts While Planning:
  • I’ll get “miss utility” to come in and map the power and phone lines, even though I already know where they are.  The sewer line couldn’t possible be this far away from the house.  I can’t think of anything else.
Desired Thoughts While Planning:
  • I’ll have to determine where there sewer line is, and also make sure there’s nothing else I’m not thinking about.
What is it about the way I am that is apparent in the above thoughts?
  • I tend to not research things as thoroughly as I should when I want to do something.
What do I intend to do about this?
  • When I am about to do something significant, I will intentionally get other people’s inputs – especially those who might see things differently.  I will tell my wife of my intentions tonight, and ask her to help me do this on home-related issues
Drip-by-drip, over and over, I am seeing myself as part of the problems that occur in my life.  On one hand, this type of exercise saddens me.  

On the other hand, it liberates me.  After all, I am the only person I can change.

Why in the world do most people insist on AVOIDING this kind of introspection as part of their "root cause analysis" efforts?  Isn't it true that ALL our problems can be traced to people, just as in my backhoe example?  Isn't it "the way we are" that needs to change?