A few weeks ago my niece Sydney touted the completion of a do-it-yourself project on social media. The project—a beautifully engineered sidewalk at her home in Nashville—can be seen in the picture below.
I chose the words “beautifully engineered” because I believe that describes Sydney and her work—a beautiful engineer.
I asked Syd if I could blog about her adventure because I had a feeling there would be associated blog material. She did not disappoint.
In fact, the quantity of material she sent me was more than the length of my typical blog. It rivaled War and Peace. It was formatted in a chronologic sequence from start to finish, including the back story to why the project was necessary.
It started like this…
“The main struggle I always have before starting a project is: Do we have the cash to execute the plan?”
I showed that to Christy. She bit her lip to suppress a chuckle. As a very right-brained individual, Christy lives by Oscar Wilde quote: Those who live within their means suffer from a serious lack of imagination.
Sydney continued with the back story.
“Well, the inspection report for our house came back and our concrete landing had settled, so the rise of the stair was not code compliant.’
Christy couldn’t contain herself with that one. She cackled, “I don’t think I’ve ever used the words ‘code’ and ‘compliant’ together in a complete sentence.”
Sydney would not argue with Christy’s assertion. Syd finds it very difficult to get Christy to complete a sentence before she switches the conversation to another topic. (Drives engineers crazy.)
Back to Sydney’s project.
“Step one was to pull up the existing concrete landing with the intention of pouring a new one. However, after we pulled up the landing but before we could pour a new one, I stepped in the hole, nearly breaking my ankle. Project was delayed several months.” (see picture below)
Note: I could not obtain an actual picture of Sydney’s injured ankle. While the significance of the injury is accurately displayed by this picture, please note that this is actually my son Britton’s ankle which explains the size of the foot and the hair on the legs. As my wife would say, “You get the picture.” (This lack of accuracy also drives engineers crazy.)
The injury allowed Sydney and her husband Malcolm to:
“…study up on the process of laying a brick path. And to … calculate the amount of material so we could compare prices.”
Christy primary question at this point: “Yeah, but does it look pretty?”
Sydney’s next sentence sent us back into fits of hysteria.
“Construction issues included, but were not limited to…”
I am not making this up people. It’s too good.
“… moving 750 bricks weighing 5 pounds each. Laying out the radial curve. Leveling the path, but sloping for drainage and topography.”
I had to stop. Christy wet her pants.
“…time constraints. Keeping the pattern consistent. Letting go of precision.”
Wait, what? Letting go of precision! Really!?? Letting go of precision is not in the DNA of Sydney, or her husband Malcolm, who follow … get ready for this … This Day in Math on Twitter. In fact, look at this text exchange between the love birds over the precision of a recent tweet.
Now, before I create some uncomfortable feelings when we all get together at Christmas, let me reiterate I have to deal with the other side of this equation on a daily basis. Just today, I asked Christy to return a book to her friend Traci. (She has had the book long enough to write the sequel.) I went so far as to put her car keys on top of the book since she and Traci were having coffee at 8:30 a.m.
At 9:30 a.m., the keys were gone. The book remained. Amazing.
So what’s the point in all of this? To take jabs at the nerds? To make fun of my wife? (It’s okay, she’ll never get this far in the blog.) Not at all. I think we can all agree that the events following the recent presidential election reveal a certain philosophical divide in our country.
Understanding the way we think and behave may not change who we are, but it will change our understanding of others. That is my hope as we approach this holiday season.
Syd, I know this blog firmly cements my position as your favorite uncle. And when I say cement, I know your mind races to whether or not I mean compressive, tensile, or flexural characteristics and I love that about you…