Episode 553

September 7, 2019

Some people are intractable.

It is a defense mechanism.



For some, learning is simply not an option. Repeated failures have conditioned some to close their minds to new ideas.

i like to write flow charts or draw maps before i begin a project.  A map serves as a logical plan that can be used to execute a process or procedure.  

i drew a map of how i wanted an irrigation system to be installed. The map assured that all the areas i wanted covered were, in fact, covered.

When the irrigation system was installed the landscape guy was about to connect the valve control wires onto the timer-controller terminals. A colored wire is run from each valve to the controller. Each wire is attached to a terminal numbered 1 through 12.

i asked for the colors to be ordered in the same order as each bank of valves so that i could map the terminals and write the watering program from my map.

This way i could program the stations (valves) without testing any of them.

My contractor would not hear of it.

“You’re overthinking it,” he said.

“When you start programming, just turn each station on and go see which valve is spraying water,” he explained.

My valves are all over a four acre property. A lot of effort and a mess of water would happen if i followed his advice.

A map would be so much more useful than trial by error.

The contractor proceeded to attach wires in a completely random order.

“You’re being a typical home owner, overthinking it,” he said.

After a couple more attempts to explain my logic i recognized his intractability on the subject, which he had learned from decades of clients’ unanswerable questions.  

So i traced and mapped the wires myself.

i knew that mapping the valves on paper would make the programming easier.

On a paper i made sets of tick marks representing each bank of valves.


i noted the color of wire at each valve.

i made a sequence of numbers above the tick marks: 1-12.

Back at the controller i noted the color of the wire attached to each terminal.

On the map i drew an arrow from the valve tick mark to the terminal number.

i then redrew the map so that the numbers lined up with the valve tick marks. After attaching each of my drip hoses to the valves i noted on the map the name of the zone above each terminal number. The result was an easily readable map of each valve and its zone.

This controller is programmed on an iPhone app or the controller’s website.

When programming i was able to give each station its name and add it easily to a watering program without ever turning on a valve.  When the programming was complete the system just worked.

This activity was a study in logic and critical thinking.

Each valve had a direct one to one relationship with a controller terminal.  This relationship was described with a colored wire. Once the valve was identified with the terminal i knew exactly what station did what.

1 terminal to 1 valve


1 terminal to 0 valve

Only two binary possibilities.

My map saved me the time, energy and mess of trial and error.  Literally order over chaos.

Critical thinking is not taught in schools. It is too easy to dismiss logic, math and science as too complicated or inscrutable.

The reaction to inscrutable is too often intractable.

The door to your mind is more easily closed than opened.

Satisfaction and achievement, however, are only ever realized when a door opens.


  1. Patrick Doyle September 6, 2019
  2. Terry September 7, 2019
  3. Pingback: Adventure in Problems | iMentor® weB-LOG September 9, 2019