Thursday, July 8, 2010

Suck THIS Pythagoras!

So there we were, the home building crew of "The Boy" and myself, out in the yard and embarking on an all new project. Our projects have been many and varied over the years as we have progressed from the initial flower beds we made when he was grounded as a little boy, to the major building projects we have undertaken with our present house. And all in all, he hates each of them equally.

Oh don't get me wrong, he does not dislike working with his hands or creating something from nothing. He HATES working with his father. But to be fair, a lot of this pent up disdain is from years of his being too small to be any real help, so he would stand around most of the time waiting to hand me a hammer or a some other assorted tool. Come to think on it, I would probably hate it too, but learning starts somewhere and now that he is taller than me, stronger than me and ha a more capable knee than me... I am letting him do sooooo much more of the labor part of our little projects. ...and you know what? I think his enjoyment is growing!

Several months ago a buddy of mine needed some quick cash and offered to sell me a carport. He said he would take his carport down and move it to my house and set it up for a little less than the price if of a new carport. It was a good deal for both of us and I do need a car port, only I wanted to level off the ground where the carport would be located. I agreed to pay him but he would have to wait until I had time to get the ground ready, and I told him I was so busy it would probably be months.

This week I was full into my annual STAYCATION. You know, where you work all year and you get time off to do what you want, but I have so many things I don't have time to do during the year I can only do them when I am not working... like my time off. So today I slept late, got up the boy and told him I was going to give him a practical workshop in the application of the Pythagorean Theorem. And for those of you following along at home, that's a2 + b2 = c2.

We trudge out in the yard where the July sun beats upon us without mercy. It has rained every day this week and the boy ventures that maybe we should do this another day since it might start raining again. I berate him for his foolishness, this is Oklahoma in July. It might have a freak rain every once in a while but there is no way it will keep raining.

So it began pouring down on us. Rain quickly soaking our shirts, matting our hair... ok HIS hair and leeching into our eyes and mouths. "DON'T WORRY!" I screamed over the pounding deluge and rolling thunder, "THESE SUMMER CLOUD BURSTS ONLY LAST A FEW MINUTES!" Then I handed him a tape measure and a roll of thin rope. We measured off six feet along the house from the corner and marked the spot. Then we measured out 24 feet from the house where we wanted to create a retaining wall and marked the distance by tying one end of the rope to a screw driver and jamming it into the ground. We went back and measured eight feet from the corner on this rope. Then we simply went to the two marks and made a triangle with a length of rope that measured ten feet long. When the two marks touched, we had a perfectly squared line for our retaining wall.

See I was taught that if you use multiples of 3,4,and 5 you will always make this work. Since we were working with a bigger number I decided 3,4,and 5 feet would not work so I multiplied them by 2 for greater distance and accuracy and because I did not have enough rope if I multiplied them by 3, plus I get confused easily so multiplying times 2 seemed the best solution.

Only it was REAL obvious, once we laid out the heavy railroad ties along our string line that we were not square with the house. Not even close! OK I will admit that maybe I was not REAL exact with the measurements. I mean, I used what I thought was a fleck on the wall of the side of the house rather than actually draw a mark on my siding! And maybe I tied a knot in the rope around where the eight foot mark would be and I was within a couple of inches, and MAYBE I didn't drive a nail into the siding to hold the hypotenuse rope line so MAYBE I kind of tied it to the front tire of an old bicycle that was leaning against the house so there could have been a little wiggle room there... but mostly... I never could see how simply using multiples of 3,4, and 5 equaled a2+b2=c2... I mean shouldn't the hypotenuse side be 14 feet long and not 10?

Oh well, we ended up using a large framing square and eyeballing it into place. As we placed the final railroad tie into place we were soaked and covered in mud and creosote. We rushed to put up the tools in the barn and just as we put away the last tool and walked towards the house the rain stopped and the clouds parted and filled the land with sunshine.

The boy gave me a disgusted look over his shoulder and went back into the house to play his video games and watch TV. As for me... I showered and made an excuse to go back to the office where I worked until about 9:00pm. It's a good thing I only relax like this once a year, I don't think the boy could take much more than that.

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