New communication tool.

Barb and I had a major meltdown on Friday night.  It lasted well into Saturday.  What finally got us out of it was that I realized she really wasn’t understanding me.  She was trying, but just COULD NOT understand what I was saying.  My words would be translated in her mind into something other than what I was saying.  I did not realize this until I asked her to repeat back to me my words — a simple five or ten word sentence.  She could almost do it, but not quite.  A minute later the words were gone.  She literally could not understand me.  As I started exploring this with her I realized that a tremdous amount of stress in our otherwise wonderful relationship was due to this communication problem.  And it works both ways.  She would say things that I didn’t understand and she was completely baffled as to why I didn’t understand.  I worked out some techniques to reestablish communication once I have detected that a transmission error has occurred.  By Tuesday I had the tools working pretty good and had a couple chances test them out.  Here is a good example of fixing an error in her understanding me:

The phone rings.  I see from the caller ID it is someone she knows and the call must be for her.  She answers it and says a few words and hangs up.  I ask, “What did he say?”  She says, “Nothing.”  I know that literally speaking (which is how I am) this is not true.  He must have said something to her.  But she didn’t understand that I wasn’t interested in a summary of the conversation I wanted the details.  Rather than escalating and yelling “He did too say something, WHAT DID HE SAY?”  I said, “What were his words?”  She said, “Oh,  …ummm … I said, ‘Hello’.  He said, ‘Hello’, I said, ‘Joe is here and will leave soon, can I call you back?’.  He said, ‘Yes, that would be fine.  I’ll talk to you later.’  I said, ‘Good-bye’.  He said, ‘Good-bye’.” 

I was thrilled!  Previously that would have escalated into a fight as I demanded more and more insistantly that she tell me what he said and she would keep saying that he hadn’t said anything.  I had to halt our conversation to tell her what had just happened.  She hadn’t even realized that we had just avoided another fight over nothing but a communication problem.  Another incident from Tuesday when I didn’t understand what she said at first:

We were talking about our (relatively) new table and chairs.  She said, “These chairs are so solid that even Jamie can’t break them.”  Jamie is our 19 year old son who is 6′ 3” and weighs about 250 lbs and isn’t careful with the furniture.  What she said wasn’t literally true.  Jamie if he deliberately tried to could break the chairs, but he wasn’t likely to in everyday use.  I detected that what she said was not true and my strongest impulse was to tell her that it wasn’t true.  It took real effort to not say anything.  I struggled for a bit and realized that it was the communication problem again.  She said something that didn’t accurately represent what she meant.  It was close enough in the way her mind worked and she knew that if Jamie wanted to he could deliberately break them.  So in my mind I corrected the ‘broken’ statement and replayed it, just in my mind, “These chairs are so solid that even Jamie can’t break them during normal use.”   It worked.  I didn’t have this uncontrollable urge to correct her and have us get into a fight over me constantly nitpicking everything she says.

Here is an example where neither of us is understanding what the other is saying:

I ask if she has taken the film in to be developed. She says “I had a busy week.” I say “I’m sorry to hear that. So did you take the film in or not?” She, seeing that I didn’t understand her first answer tries to explain more clearly. She says, “I had to work extra hours because Walter was on vacation. Joy had a dentist appointment and I had get snow tires put on my Jeep.” and it goes on for a minute or more as she tells me all the details of her busy week. I keep expecting to hear something about the film, but I hear about the weather and the bad roads, her schedule and the taxi service for the kids and dealing with her mom in the nursing home. I ask, “Why can’t you answer my question?” She says “I did!!!”. “But I didn’t hear it. It’s just a yes or no question.” “I can’t give you a yes or no answer. I have to tell you all the background information.” “FINE!!! You just HAD to give me all the background information. I’ve got it! NOW WILL YOU TELL ME THE ANSWER TO MY QUESTION?????!!!!!”

I suspect some people, Barb will say 99%, say I should be able to figure out the answer (the answer is “No”, for those 1% of people like me). But it’s not at all clear to me. She has given me additional information that is apparently relevant to my question. But what she has done is increase the ambiguity. Perhaps she is telling me that she dropped the film off but didn’t have time to pick it up. Perhaps she is telling me someone else dropped it off (I asked if SHE dropped the film off, not just IF the film was dropped off). The more information she gives me the more possible answers there are. In her mind the more information she gives me the more clear the answer is. Simultaneous with her making the issue more ambiguous for me I make the issue more ambiguous for her. I give her less and less information trying to make it very specific and simple for her to answer. If I had given her more information then she would have understood the question. I should have said, “I’m going to the mall. If you haven’t taken the film in yet, I will.” By giving her less information and showing some irritation she interprets things in a completely different way that what I intended. In her mind I’m mad at her because she didn’t take the film in. Which was never true. But by the time the conversation is over she cannot possibly believe anything except that. And I cannot believe anything other than she is deliberately trying to avoid my question. Both of us are really pissed at the other.  With my new understanding I can probably correct the commuication error without the anger on either side.

Barb is pretty happy with things too.  I don’t think she really understand why I can’t understand her sometimes.  At this point I’m having to do all the work to correct the communication errors but I don’t care.  I’m so incredibly thrilled to be able to communicate with her.  And I’m reevaluating a whole bunch of things that have happened over the years.  So many of them are related to this relatively simple communication problem.  We each have blind spots where we don’t really get what is being said and unfortunately I think her blind spot is right in the middle of where I am the most comfortable and vice versa.  I’m having to work to understand her and to change to get her to understand me.  But that’s okay.  It’s so much better than before.

Last night at aerobics class I realized there were other communication errors that I was having with the instructor.  With my new tools I recognized what happened but I still don’t know how to fix them.  Here is the story on that:

One of the moves we do involves either doing it alternating off of each side of the step or multiple times off the same side of the step.  If alternating the instructor will give us a count “Two“ or “Eight“ or something like that.  If off the same side it will be twice and she will say “Double“.  She said “Two“ and I did it off alternate sides consistent with what she said, but she and everyone else in the class did the “Double“.  She saw that I was out of synch and thought back and realized she had said the wrong thing. She looked around, realized everyone else was doing the same as she and even as I struggled to get back in synch with them told me I might as well do it the same as everyone else even though that wasn’t what she had said.

What is going on is that I was getting all my cues directly from her words.  I watch her feet to keep time and to learn new moves but when actually executing things I rely on her words for what to do next.  The others in the class are probably picking up on other things such as knowing what comes next because we have done this same sequence before or because they are reading her body language better than I am to know what is about to come next.  There are other examples of this that happen on cosistent basis because the instructor always gives the verbal command late between these two different moves.  I mess it up every time.  It doesn’t matter that much if I can’t correct that error.  But it’s really cool that I now know how the errors are occuring.  I am very literal with words and they override other data sources.  Most other people are not.  This joke illustrates the concept:

Two engineering students were walking across campus when one said, “Where did you get such a great bike?”

The second engineer replied, “Well, I was walking along yesterday minding my own business when a beautiful woman rode up on this bike. She threw the bike to the ground, took off all her clothes and said, “Take what you want.”

The second engineer nodded approvingly, “Good choice; the clothes probably wouldn’t have fit.”

Life with Barb takes on a whole new meaning now.  I’m giddy and thrill to hear her talk.  It’s like a little orgasm each time I catch and correct a communication error.  If I can do that without making her feel like I’m blaming her for all the errors (which they are not) life with her is going to be very very good.

The Brady Bunch is tilting at windmills

Gun control group sues Justice Department

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, along with the Million Mom March, said the Justice Department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives allowed gun makers to replace the housing for the firing mechanism on legally owned semiautomatic assault weapons, which the groups say violates the 1994 Assault Weapon Act.

Nice.  The law will almost for certain expire in September making their lawsuit meaningless.  In the mean time they are expeding resources against an adversary that isn’t really their enemy.

More Boomershoot stuff

I went out to the site again today.  Considering the late start I got and all the talking I did with the neighbors when I got there I got a lot done.  Before I left the 6″ and 8″ tubes (but not the ends for them) were delivered.  Two pallets, I don’t know how many boxes, but there were a lot of them.  I loaded up the pickup with stuff that was ready to go out on site and filled the hole (plus some) in the garage that the stuff in the pickup left.  If I hadn’t been able to drive out to the shed I would have had to leave the stuff on the pickup until I could.  The garage is very full now.

Xenia finished the gluing of one end on the 4″ tubes today.  As soon as the disks come in for the 6″ and 8″ tubes she can start on those.

The lock on the shed was malfunctioning.  I think it corroded internally.  My bolt cutters were locked in the shed.   I borrowed Dad’s and a different lock and went back out.

I finished all the electrical work in the shed I needed to get done before the event.  There is still some stuff I want to do, but it’s not critical.

I modified four of the crates so they would fit around the bolts in the floor of the magazine.  Then I put all the crates in the magazine to make sure they would fit as planned.  Everything worked.  70 crates will go in with good ventilation space remaining.

The tree didn’t come down as I had hoped.  Doug figured we would have a lot more control over where it went using chain saw and it was too windy when we were out there.

The grass is growing on the berm we shoot into, but I didn’t see anything coming up on the shooting area berm.  I may need to replant.

I arranged to borrow an ATV and a trailer for the event.  This will allow us to deliver the ton of explosives in increments of a few hundred pounds to the shooting areas, including 1400 pound up a steep hill, without using a heavy vehicle.

Explosives magazine is now ready for use

ATFE inspector Susan gave me permission to store explosives yesterday. 

Things are coming together.  The rest of the target components arrive in the next few days. 

I’m headed out to the site today to do some electrical work and prepare for building massive amounts of targets.  If the ground is dry enough I will deliver some crates and partially completed targets.

I think I will be able to get rid of the one tree that is in the way today.  This will be a big improvement in the shooting at the more distant targets.

Tubes, lids, and glue

I spent most of the afternoon yesterday gluing the lids on one end of 3” long by 4” (inside) diameter tubes.  These will become targets for Boomershoot 2004Daughter Xenia glued a few on too.  We almost have enough of the 4” targets now.  We only need another 65 or so and that diamter will be done.  We still need to put the ends on 380 6” diameter targets and 180 8” targets but neither the tubes nor the ends have arrived yet.  I expect they will arrive this week or next.  I need to buy some more glue too.  We have gone through a lot of it.

I’m looking forward to the magazine inspection by ATFE inspector Sue this week.  Getting that taken care of will be the completion of another essential milestone on the path to a sucessful event.  Sue has always been fun to talk to and had useful suggestions too.

Potassium chlorate delivery

550 pounds of KClO3 is being delivered today.  They tried to deliver it on Tuesday but Barb was in class instead of home like she usually is on Tuesdays.  Then she misplaced the delivery notification paper.  Didn’t find it until last night after I got home.  Anyway, all is well.  This is THE critical item for Boomershoot 2004.  Everything else (except the weather) has back ups if something doesn’t come through.  Once I get the KClO3 actually in my hands I’ll feel a lot more at ease.

13:00 Update — it has arrived.

ATFE agent calls because of puritan complaint

Yesterday I got a call from Mike, an ATFE agent from Spokane.  AGENT, not inspector.

On December 28th of last year I took my cousin Julia on a Boomershoot Adventure at a local gravel pit.  As we were finishing up somebody that lived nearby showed up to complain about the explosions.  Ry and Lyle tried to talk to him but he wasn’t interested in listening.  He finally took down my license plate number and left.

The agent wanted to know what was going on.  I asked if he knew that I had a license to manufacture explosives.  He said no and I gave him my ATFE type 20 license to manufacture number and told him Sue (an inspector who works on the Spokane office and he knows) is coming down to inspect my new magazine next week and that she could probably give him more background on me if he wanted it.  He wanted to know what type of explosives we had and if anyone else had explosives.  I said a friend, Ry Jones, helped me mix them on site but we didn’t transport anything like that on the road.  He also wanted to know about a “boomer club”.  I told him a rough overview of the Boomershoot and directed him to  He said that the guy seemed pretty determined to try and “do something” and that we might want to find another place to set things off.  I suspect the neighbor guy didn’t get any satisfaction from the local sheriff and so he contacted the ATF.

I told him that we talked to the guy but nothing we could say could make him happy.  I also said we had talked to the owner of the pit and he didn’t have problem with it.  He thanked me for answering his questions and I told him to call me anytime something came up because I didn’t want to cause any problems and wanted to avoid stepping on people’s toes.

I decided the neighbor must be a puritan, a guy who is afraid that someone somewhere is having fun.  The ATFE guy seemed nice enough though.  The phone call was nice, much better than a visit from the SWAT team.

Suggest freedom and people demand you be fired

How do you liberate a people when even talk about liberation by the politicians bring demands of their removal?  A politician in the U.K. suggested that kids should be taught safe gun handling and his opponents demand he be sacked.

I don’t know of any instance where a country has given up their right to keep and bear arms and then regained it peacefully.

IPSC match today

It’s been months since I last had time to shoot in an IPSC match.  I don’t know the final results yet but I’m sure I did well, second place is my guess.  I’m especially pleased since it had been so long since I had been to a match.  Here is an old video of me shooting a stage:

It’s great fun.  Shoot all the “bad guys”, don’t hit any of the “good guys”, do it as fast and accurate as you can while still being safe.

Crates and aprons for explosives

When I had the pickup this morning I picked up the last of the crates for storing explosives.  36 of them.  The magazine will hold 72 and I already had the rest. 

I received 1000 plastic disposable aprons via UPS yesterday.  I found two different sources for them.  One source had a minimum quantity of 1000.  The other source I could by in single quantity.  I wanted about 50 or so, but for the price of 100 from the single quantity source I could by 1000 from the other place.  I got the 1000.  When we are mixing the explosives I want to keep certain chemicals off of people’s clothes.  The potassium chlorate in partcular is a very strong oxidizer.  If it were to get mixed in the fibers of someone’s clothes and they could burn up like a match head, a fire extinguish would be almost useless against such a fire because the potassium chlorage supplies the oxygen.  And with lots of cheap aprons workers shouldn’t be too hesitant to throw one away and put on a new one if it gets torn or something.

Boomershoot 2004.  A ton of explosives.  Fun beyond measure.  And most of all I want it to be safe for everyone.

Kim and the pickup

I managed to keep Kim at home long enough to use the pickup for a couple hours.  I drove it about 200 yards when I noticed the oil pressure was zero.  I stopped and checked the oil.  It didn’t even touch the dipstick.  I found 1/2 quart under the seat and called Kim to bring the van so we could go get some more oil.  We filled it with oil and I showed her how to check the oil and add oil.  She claimed she didn’t know how to read the guages and that she didn’t know she needed to.  I’m sure she and I talked about it while she was in drivers ed but, in her mind, it wasn’t her fault.  There was no obvious damage done so Kim has her wheels back with instructions to check the oil EVERY time she puts gas in it.

During spring break I will get into a shop to see if they can’t get the oil leak fixed.

Gun control legislation

No surprise with the gun liability protection legislation being shot down today.  It was loaded up with an extension of the ugly gun ban and the gun-show ban legislation.  The sponsors of the gun liability protection bill dropped the whole thing.  It is a stalemate.

At least this is probably the end of the efforts to renew the ugly gun ban that expires in September.  And we have the anti-freedom Senators on record with their votes so they can be targeted for ‘unelection’ later.

Boomershoot update

Ry had done some very promising tests with a new explosive mix a week ago Sunday.  It looked like there was probably a way to eliminate the potassium chlorate from our mix.  We went to the range this last Sunday to tweak it a little and improve things just enough to meet our needs.  It was a failure.  We couldn’t even reproduce his results from the previous week.  We are 8.5 weeks from the event and we are out of time to experiment.  I decided we needed to order all the materials for the stuff we knew would work and did so this morning.  Containers, chemicals, everything with a lead time associated with it is now on order.

The ATFE inspector is scheduled to come out before the end of March to “bless” the new magazine.  We will be able to store stuff in it immediately after the (successful) inspection. 

I talked to my brother Doug this evening who says a lot of the snow has melted off, so the grass we planted last fall could start growing almost anytime.  If we get some good warm weather between now and the boomershoot (May 6, 7, & 8) then the new grass on the new shooting positions might actually be useable.