On the way home from work yesterday, I stopped at the local Home Despot — er, I mean Home Depot — in South Bay in Dorchester, in order to buy some plywood. I picked out a nice sheet, measuring the standard 4 feet by 8 feet, and brought it to the guy with the nice power saw that can cut both horizontally and vertically. “I need three squares, each measuring 30 inches on a side,” I said, helpfully showing the employee a sketch I had made that looked something like this:
Remember when Home Depot used to advertise that their employees were real plumbers and real carpenters, etc.? Well, this guy looked at my drawing and said, “The plywood’s only 96 inches long, you know. I don’t think you can get three 30-inch squares out of that.”
“Trust me,” I replied. “I’ve done the calculations. You can do it.”
So he did it. He made the cuts, and he was startled to find that it was indeed possible. There was even some left over, as he observed with surprise!
Remember back in the ’90s when we math teachers were distressed to hear the new incarnation of the Barbie doll saying, “Math is hard”? (Or perhaps it was “math is tough” or “math class is tough,” depending on whom you believe.) Hmmm…