Monday, September 19, 2011

I am such a geek

As if you didn't know, I am a geek.  A nerd.  I like Star Wars and I can tell you most of the back stories of all the X-men.  However, tonight I have outdone myself.

Tonight, will go down in history as one of those I-told-you-so moments for Mrs. Moore, my 7th and 8th grade math teacher.  I remember well the day we were given the assignment to produce detailed drawings of our implementations of "constructions".  Constructions were the epitome of geometry.  Constructions consist of using a rule and a compass (remember: that sharp thing with a pencil on the other end that no one knew what exactly it was used for) to make various geometric calculations, like finding the half way point on a line or drawing a line that is perpendicular to another line or finding the center of a circle.  I struggled through them for what seemed like weeks.  It was a 3 day assignment, but I was smaller then so everything else was bigger, right?  I remember at least ten times a day someone asking Mrs. Moore why we would ever need to know how to do constructions.  Well, little did I know...

One of the constructions we had to learn was how to bisect an angle.  It's actually pretty easy once you understand a little about what a compass can do.  Anyway, when hanging crown moulding in a room, when two pieces of crown moulding meet, you have to miter them.  Mitering a piece of moulding basically means cutting it at an angle so that the two pieces that touch actually touch.

Well, when mitering two pieces of moulding, you have to cut the edge of the moulding at an angle that bisects the angle where the two pieces meet.  In other words, if two pieces meet at a 90° angle, each piece has to be mitered at 45°.  If they meet at 135°, each piece is cut at 67.5°.  Well, tonight, I found myself trying to hang moulding with my buddy, Dusty.  He brought his electric miter saw and we thought we would fly through it.  Little did we know.

So, we made some cuts, then had to fix them, then had to make some more cuts.  Eventually we got to a corner where we couldn't get the cuts to match up.  The angle was wierd and we kept going back to the saw to try to even it up.  Then I heard the voice of my 8th grade math teacher when Dusty said, "We need to split that angle in half, whatever it is."

At the beginning of my engineering schooling, I bought a very nice compass set thinking I would finally learn how to use the enigmatic compass.  Eight years later, I blew the dust off it and used it for the first time.  I used the construction I learned in 8th grade and finally proved Mrs. Moore right.  The cut was perfect, the two pieces fit together like the blocks on an Egyptian pyramid.  Well, what do you know: I do need to know how to do constructions for real life!

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