Friday, February 17, 2012

The Eleven Labors of Hercules - Labor # 5

Eurytheus is in a bind.  He has tried to come up with impossible tasks, but it seems that Hercules doesn't quite understand the whole point here.  When I think of Eurytheus constantly saying that this task is impossible, that task is impossible, etc, he really must look like this guy:
You keep using that word.  I do not think it means what you think it means.
However, I think Eurytheus is onto something this time.  Instead of having him kill this monster or catch that animal, tasks that Hercules is clearly good at, he gives him something completely different.  He must clean up the Augean Stables in one day.

Now, let's get a few ground rules set up here so that you understand the problem.  These stables had not been cleaned in 30 years.  The stables house 1,000 cattle.  Are you starting to see the problem?  Let's go even further.

The average cow produces 150 pounds of manure per day.  There are 365 days in a year, so we are looking at 150 x 365 = 54,750 pounds per year per cow.

Thirty years of not cleaning means that each cow has produced 1,642,500 pounds (because 54,750 pounds x 30 years = 1,642,500).

There are 1,000 cows each producing 1,642,500 pounds each which equals 1,642,500,000.  That's right - 1 trillion, six hundred forty-two billion, five hundred thousand pounds of manure.

If 1 ton = 2,000 pounds (which it does), then we are talking about 821,250 tons of crap (or for our metric friends - 745,025 metric tons).

Now I figure some of that weight is water which will drain out over time and some of it will disintegrate as well, so lets just say he probably has at least 700,000 tons of poop left to move.  I'm ballparking here.

Let's say that Hercules has access to his dad's 1952 Chevy truck.

It's possible that he had one of these.  This is mythology, you know.

Well, this truck can carry about 4 tons of manure.  That would be at least 175,000 loads.  Not to mention, where is he going to take this to dump it?

You see what I'm saying here?  This is obviously an impossible task.  However, Hercules, as arrogant as he is, not only thinks it is possible, but also asks King Augeas and tells him that he'll clean it out in one day if he gets a tenth of his cattle.  The king just laughs at him (usually a dangerous thing to do) an says sure.

As we have already stated, this is going to take a heck of a lot of truck loads.  However, Hercules has a different idea in mind, one that is going to be horrifying to you eco-friendly types out there.  He grabs a shovel and begins digging - not manure, though.  He digs trenches from the stables to two rivers close by and diverts their course so that they will wash out all the manure.  Then he just diverts the rivers back into their normal course.  This is all fine and dandy, but no myth book ever thinks of where all that water and manure went.  How many small villages were wiped out by the flood and the resulting diseases?  Oh well.  Those sorry saps are not our concern.  Hercules is.

And speaking of Hercules, he has a little problem collecting his reward.  It seems the King Augeas started citing EPA regulations and what not and refused to pay.  Hercules took the matter to a judge and the King's own son testified that Augeas promised to pay him.  The judge sided with Hercules and the King, in a rage, paid Hercules and kicked him and his own son out of the kingdom.

This is actually one of Hercules' best showings.  Unfortunately, Eurytheus claimed that since he got paid for his work, it doesn't count.  So, what was once ten labors is now up to twelve.

By the way, if you've ever want to practice shoveling manure like Hercules but you don't have a cow hanging around, here is how to make cow manure without a cow -

Till next time!