My summer task for this year is to finally do some clearing on my lot in order to highlight the scenic stream that runs through the middle of the woods. This task may just kill me (now down over 10 pounds since my Steamboat Race and a mere 3 pounds away from my college graduation weight. Fortunately, this is the kind of thing I love to do so even though it is hard work, I am smiling the entire time. Part of this endeavor is to build a bridge so I can actually get to the back portion of my lot without getting wet. My oldest brother is thankfully helping out with the design which is proving to be very interesting since it is over 49 feet across and I am unable to place a support structure in the middle due to the water and rock bed. After trying all options to get a mechanical hole digger (nothing viable under a $600 rental fee) I decided to dig the footings and pour the concrete by hand. So with my hands, a spade, a post hole digger, a 4′ chipping bar and a significant amount of sweat, 8 four foot deep by 12″ wide holes were dug. Thankfully the new chipping bar (best $35 ever spent) made it through the roots and hardened sandstone.
The next stage in this endeavor was pouring the footings. This consisted of hauling 64 of the 60lb bags of concrete and 8 of the cardboard pillar forms from Menards to the construction site. For the record, a Menards’ employee managed to help load 16 (most my truck is rated for) of them into the truck – all the rest were loaded, unloaded and hauled through the woods with an ATV (5 at a time). On the 3rd trip to Menards, I purchased the remaining four 12″ tubes for the job. Now these tubes are 12″ nominal with a +- of 0.5″. You might ask why they would bother with the size variance in today’s precision machinery era. I am not sure if this is intentional or not, but this variance allows you to insert the tubes inside each other (depending on the variance of course). I should also point out that the next size down had an 8″ diameter.
With that background in place, we are at the heart of this post. Two of the four tubes fit inside the third, the third and fourth were the same size and purposely both at the large end of the tolerance. While checking out, I informed the cashier there were four tubes in total and they were all 12″ in diameter. The cashier then proceeded to look at the two exposed tubes with some confusion. Noting that, I informed him that there was a half inch tolerance. Without a doubt this resulted in math fog and I could tell he did not understand how that statement resolved the two inner tubes. Keeping my peripheral vision, I proceeded to the credit card swiper. Sure enough, he took the two tubes out and checked their labeling to make sure they were both 12″ as I had previously informed him.
I can understand the employees need to protect the company’s assets, but two things intrigued me about this event. The first is an employee at a home improvement store having difficulty judging a half inch tolerance, but more importantly the 8″ tubes are CHEAPER. Why would I willingly pay more for the extra two tubes? If they were 8’s I would have pulled them out myself in order to save a few bucks. Maybe lifting all those concrete bags impacted my powers of reasoning, but there is definitely room there for some lightening math skills. By the way, the book used in the image is fantastic for those who like to improve their mental calculation abilities. I was taking the picture of the ruler and noticed the binding on my bookshelf and felt it was a good fit.
Now time to go eat something.