We both slept until 8 AM this morning and even then got up slowly and reluctantly. We probably need a day off to rest, relax, and catch up on some not-so-physical tasks, but now is not the time. There is too much to do and time is slipping by. The fact that hot weather, muggy weather is forecast for the rest of the week probably had some effect on our enthusiasm for getting back to work. We should probably get up at 6 AM and quit working by early afternoon, but I am not on a sleep schedule that accommodates those hours.
We had our usual homemade granola with blueberries, split a banana, and had OJ/GFJ to wash down our vitamins. I made Ethiopian Yirgacheffe half-caff coffee, but not as much as usual. We enjoyed our coffee in the living room with our cats and finally got back to work at 10 AM.
Today was one of the milestone days we have been working towards all summer; we (finally) started laying out (dry fitting) the new floor tiles. I had done two layouts on 1/4″ grid paper back in early June; one with the sides of the tiles parallel and perpendicular to the centerline of the bus floor, the other with the sides turned 45 degrees. We both liked the turned layout better so I used it to estimate the number of tiles we needed and placed the order back in mid-June. They took a few weeks to arrive but they have been sitting flat in their boxes since early July waiting to be installed.
My original drawing has tiles lined up with opposite corners on the centerline of the floor, although it looks good on paper there was no way I could draw it at a scale that allowed me to accurately account for the 1/8″ grout spacing. The drawing was just a “proof of concept” and a starting point for the actual layout.
We laid tiles out according to the plan from a starting point in front of the refrigerator that would allow one of the grout lines to go down the center of the hallway in front of the pantry. Unfortunately that did not allow the tiles to reach the front edge of the floor by the cockpit or work out well for the toe kick space under the kitchen base cabinets or hallway running back to the bathroom and bedroom.
A famous problem in mathematics is finding convex polygons that can “tile the plane.” What this means is that the polygon can fit together with itself perfectly so that there are no gaps. Some of Escher’s artwork was based on the use of such polygons and that is the context in which most people would be familiar with this concept. Among “regular” polygons, which are equilateral and equiangular, triangles, squares, and pentagons can tile the plane. So can right triangles and parallelograms, which includes the rhombus. Beyond that it gets a bit tricky and someone just recently discovered a previously unknown irregular pentagon using a computer program to systematically examine a very large number of possibilities.
What does that have to do with our bus remodeling project? Not much, really, beyond the obvious fact that the new vinyl floor tiles for our motorcoach are squares with an edge length of 16 inches. Floor tiles are almost universally square in shape because they are easy to manufacture and can be laid out on a floor in several different ways. Finding a way that fits a particular space in a balanced way is the tricky part, however, and more so in this case because the tiles need to form a continuous pattern of grout lines (if possible) while working their way down the hall and into the bathroom and bedroom.
We shifted the string of tiles running down the centerline towards the kitchen cabinets on the driver’s side of the bus so the corners just reached the recessed base. We then shifted them towards the rear of the coach to get reasonable size pieces at the front edge by the cockpit. We filled in some tiles to either side of the main fore-aft string to make sure they would make it to the edges with reasonable size pieces. When it was clear that this positioning was going to provide a balanced installation in the kitchen and living room we started working our way down the hallway and into the bathroom.
The tiles continued to fall into place and fit well in the bathroom but did not flow into the bedroom quite the way we wanted. We may have to offset a grout line as we transition from the hallway to the bedroom but were otherwise satisfied with our dry fitting. We returned to the front of the coach and placed every full tile that we could. We then started trimming tiles to fill in smaller pieces. We limited ourselves to pieces that had one or two straight cuts and no notches or tabs.
It was 4:30 PM by the time we got to the door of the bathroom and bedroom threshold, where a critical decision would need to be made regarding the offsetting of a grout line. We have learned that the end of the work day is not a good time to make critical decisions. With company coming in a couple of hours we quit working and got cleaned up.
I sat in the living room and worked on this post. Kate sent a text message at 5:30 PM that she was leaving Wayne RESA and heading our way. We figured she would get here at 6:30 and that is when she arrived. She brought a dip that she made from cannelloni beans, garlic, and lemon juice, some baby carrots, and some pretzel chips. We enjoyed the appetizers with some Bell’s Oberon beer while we chatted about work, travel, and family. Kate travels every chance she gets, usually with her S.O. Brian but sometimes by herself. Europe is a favorite destination but she frequently visits family members all across the U.S.A. and sometimes overseas.
After catching up a bit we gave Kate a tour of the bus interior. She liked the new floor tiles and our choice of seat fabric but was suitably impressed with the pull-out pantry which pleased us. I turned off the three residential air-conditioners as we exited the bus. Linda then got busy preparing dinner while I showed Kate the pieces of the custom desk and built-in sofa. I turned on the A-C in the library (where the desk and sofa pieces are stored) to cool it off and lower the humidity. It had been off all day since we were running the main house A-C plus the three A-C units in the coach.
Dinner was ready at 8:30 PM, a simple but tasty meal of burgers and fries with a second round of Bell’s Oberon beer. (Linda bought a real beef patty and got a slice of real cheddar cheese for Kate.) We had fresh strawberries and Coconut Bliss non-dairy ice cream for dessert and then continued to chat about photography, cameras, travel, and the low power Radio station, AM 1700, that Brian runs in Ypsilanti. A local blogger does a weekly interview show that Brian then podcasts. The most recent one was an interview with a professor from U of M Ann Arbor who wrote a book that was recently made into a movie (Diary of a Young Girl). The podcast was “liked” by Sarah Vowel, who is sometimes featured on “This American Life.” Very cool.
Kate had to go to work in the morning and left around 10:15 PM. Linda went straight to bed but I had a couple of things to take care of first. I had initiated the download of an updated NVidia GeForce driver for my ASUS laptop computer. I e-mailed several documents to my sister Patty, and then downloaded the final draft of the August/September Bus Conversion Magazine, proofread my two articles, and e-mailed a couple corrections to the publisher. I installed the driver update and then went to bed. I wrote for a while and finally turned out the light at midnight and fell asleep.