Friday, April 28, 2006

House Project: Zeno's Paradox At Work

You may be familiar with Zeno's Paradox. Zeno was a Greek philosopher who argued that to run distance X, a runner must cross first the distance 1/2 X. To do that, he must first cross the distance 1/4 X. Keep dividing these segments down, and you end up with an infinite number of infinitesimally small segments. Even if each small distance takes only a short time to cross, an infinite number of them would mean that it would take an infinite time for the runner to complete the distance X.

Now, that's why I've never taken philosophy very seriously. The real world suggests that Zeno didn't know what he was talking about. But construction projects have certain elements in common with Zeno's Paradox--one of which is that the first 90% of the project takes 90% of the time--and the last 10% of the project takes another 90% of the time. This is why so few large construction projects seem to get done on time.

Our builder tells us that we are now 99.9999% done. He went up and did almost all the exterior painting yesterday--just a few last details to fix.

He still has to dig a drainage ditch next to the garage, to keep water from accumulating (which may have contributed to the cracking of the rear driveway apron, because of expansion of the soil). There being a number of large blocks of concrete cut out of the driveway, he was planning to hall them away. Instead, I suggested that he might want to use them as the base upon which to put the drainage tubes--which he thought was a very good idea. It makes them less likely to move, and he doesn't have to haul the broken concrete blocks to the dump.

The water test results came back: no measurable lead (or rather, <0.002 mg/L) and iron is 0.17 mg/L--about half of the EPA action level. I'll check again in a few months, but it looks like much of the complex filtration stuff just wasn't needed. One more item to add to the "lessons learned" chapter of the book I'll write about this. (You will buy a copy, right?)

The sky is so blue today. Tonight will be spent at the new house, using Big Bertha on Saturn and M51, the Whirlpool Galaxy.

Last house project entry.

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