With the string of excellent weather we’re having here at the moment thoughts naturally turn to decking. We’ve decided on a layout, and I’m currently working out how much timber it needs. If the wood came in one long piece it would be easy (though I concede that transport may be an issue, and walking through forests might be a little dicey, what with all the infinitely long trees), but because it doesn’t I’m having to do some figuring.
The tricky part is a triangular section joining two oblongs (or rectangles if you prefer, but why pass up the opportunity to use the word oblong?) There’s enough wood left over from the two oblongs to cover the triangle, but some of them won’t be quite long enough to span the hypotenuse in a single leap (check it out, I totally used the word hypotenuse in a sentence). To work out how many extra boards I’ll need before I can use up the offcuts I’m having to use cosines and tangents!
Now I know that it’s not exactly degree level stuff, but this is the first time I’ve used sohcahtoa (or the old aunt sits on her chair at home, if you prefer) in real life since I learned it from Mr Furmston* when I was about 14. We spent a lot of time on it back then, or at least that’s how I remember it, so this is pretty exciting. For maths.
*Mr Furmston taught us Pythagoras’ Theorem using a long story that ended with the punchline “The squaw on the hippopotamus is equal to the sons of the squaws on the other two hides”. In my opinion it wasn’t worth it.
Update: I’m crushed – on further analysis all I need is Pythagoras. Looks like that hippo stuff was worth it after all.