Orders of Magnitude

My mathematical skills have been decaying for years. First it was tensors and what little I knew about group theory. Then PDEs, then multivariable calculus, linear algebra, …

Now the arithmetic module is finally failing. This week I went to go look at tile. I tried to do a first-pass estimate of the cost of materials.

  1. “Okay, the bathroom is 7′ x 10′. So that’s 700 square feet.”
  2. “The tile is, say, $6 per square foot. That’s… crikey! $4200!”
  3. “Okay, maybe I’ll feel better if I try to calculate the tile square footage more precisely. That should knock things down by at least a third, probably more.”
  4. “First, let’s subtract out the sink and counter area. That’s 7′ x 2′, or 14 square feet.”
  5. “700 – 14 is… waaait a second. Something’s wrong here.”

Pretty sad, really. You know, I used to have circuit breakers designed to halt ridiculous calculations in process, and they should have kicked in at Step 2. Either those circuit breakers are gone, or they got disabled when I started browsing through fancy bathroom supply stores and catalogs. After all, when you see shower heads going for $699 and heated towel racks going for over $1000, that tile calculation doesn’t seem too far out of whack.

As an aside, I wonder how hard it is to make your own heated towel rack? I might have forgotten all my math, but I do remember how to use a soldering iron.

3 thoughts on “Orders of Magnitude

  1. Don’t feel bad, I had to read that posting for twenty minutes before I noticed the error. Reason #13493 transpositional dyslexics don’t do so well in the math and science realm.

Comments are closed.