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Musing on Metrics

PostPosted: Fri Feb 18, 2011 6:51 pm
by Guinness Fan
I spent most of my morning "translating" a presentation that was sent to me from a colleague in Europe. The English was perfect, but all measurements were done using the metric system ~ a system that the Average Joe here in the US is not familiar with....I had to convert the measurements into "American" so the audience could follow...

I've lived & worked in many metric-centric countries so I got the gist, but for most Americans, the metric system is a foreign language. I remember back in the '70's there was a big push here in the US to convert to the metric system ~ it turned out to be a complete and utter flop.

Wondering how many of you guys "think" Metric and if you have to do the math into inches, feet, ounces & pounds...

Re: Musing on Metrics

PostPosted: Fri Feb 18, 2011 8:09 pm
by Earl Butz
I don't like the metric system at all. Canada went metric in 77, but 30 years later people still use pounds for weight, feet for height, etc.

I still prefer fahrenheit for temperature too.

Re: Musing on Metrics

PostPosted: Fri Feb 18, 2011 8:27 pm
by olywaguy
Officially, the US went metric back in the 1970s as well, but in practice, they still use the English measurements.

Have you ever noticed that on TV shows about the future like Star Trek, the measurements they use are always metric.

The future uses metric!!!

Re: Musing on Metrics

PostPosted: Sat Mar 05, 2011 1:52 am
by edu999
I grew up in the Philippines, and the country went metric in the 70s. The government blanketed the airwaves with jingles and such, to help teach people how to convert measurements. For the longest time people there used metric for food weight ("Mr. Butcher, may I have a kilo of pork loin, please.") but English for people weight ("I weigh 135 pounds.") Another weird thing was that people measured liquids like gasoline and soda in metric (liters), but ice cream in English (gallons). These days I hear that kids are used to measuring everything in metric. As for me, the first way I was able to "think metric" was temperature. I knew what 20 degrees Celsius felt like, or 35, or 100. So when we moved to the US I had a bitch of a time trying to figure out what to wear based on weather forecasts. These days I still have an intuitive feel for Celsius, but I am also comfortable with Fahrenheit. And I can convert from Fahrenheit to Celsius and vice-versa in my head.

Ultimately, metric is way easier to understand, so I don't really get why the US conversion flopped bigtime. It's probably because the government didn't have the political will to really push the issue.

Re: Musing on Metrics

PostPosted: Sat Mar 05, 2011 2:38 pm
by matinee
I just can't imagine what is so hard about the metric system? Much easier to move a decimal point than to deal with silly fractions. I am comfortable with both systems though.

Re: Musing on Metrics

PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 2:17 pm
by DeckApe
Does going metric mean I can trade in my pints of beer for liters? :lol:

Re: Musing on Metrics

PostPosted: Sun Apr 10, 2011 3:33 pm
by Davy
The worst part about traveling through Canada was having to make sure I had a calculator handy at all times. I just can't think metric.

Re: Musing on Metrics

PostPosted: Sun Apr 10, 2011 9:27 pm
by J
I-19 in Arizona is signed metrically (in kilometers), as is the tollway through Delaware. Are there others?

Re: Musing on Metrics

PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2011 8:43 am
by doctor dan
We had miles/kilometers signs throughout Ohio when I grew up. I remember several highway signs on I-71 and I-77 driving to and from college several times a year. Columbus 62 mi/100 km; Cambridge 48 km/30 mi; etc.

Re: Musing on Metrics

PostPosted: Thu Jul 02, 2015 4:49 pm
by Guinness Fan
Pardon me for reviving an old post...but I recall geezing about this topic before...& I'm still geezing... A quick search landed me back here. Hence the renewed rant - the metric system still continues to confound & confuse me (which is quite easy to do :shock: ).

I've spent many years living outside of the US of A ~ in metric-speaking countries. I know that 30 is hot, a kilometer is (way) short of a mile, there's about 4 litres in a US gallon and a 250g steak is just about right for me...

A two-part rant:
(1) I was in Ireland (a metric-speaking country) last week and there were a couple things I noticed:

- Subway (the sandwich shop) sells a "foot long" sandwich...and plenty of restaurants sell "quarter pounder"
hamburgers. Doing the metric conversion just wouldn't "sell" (imagine the advert for a 30.5cm sandwich :shock: )

(2) Gotta love Marks & Spencer (the US equivalent of JC Penny)...They (a UK company) still sell stuff with all labels in both metric and non-metric sizes. I was able to find shirts that were advertised as 15.5" neck, 34/35" sleeve and a belt that was 34"...Had they been in strictly metric measurements, I'd have been lost...

- I remember when the US was going to go metric (circa 1976)... Went over like a sceen door on a submarine...

BONUS RANT: Come to find out, there are only 3 countries in the world that still don't use the metric system: The US of A, Liberia and Myanmar (Burma)... Somehow I don't see the 3 countries forming a formidable trading bloc...

Re: Musing on Metrics

PostPosted: Fri Jul 03, 2015 4:33 pm
by olywaguy

Re: Musing on Metrics

PostPosted: Tue Jan 19, 2016 10:48 pm
by nimby

Re: Musing on Metrics

PostPosted: Sat Jan 30, 2016 3:51 pm
by Guinness Fan
An EXCELLENT resource!
I got a kick out of the instructions that read "Remember these steps when you are converting; Write down the given..." So many people today don't know how to do long-hand math...Nowadays there's an app for that. Come to think of it, there's an app for just about everything these days.

Re: Musing on Metrics

PostPosted: Sat Dec 03, 2016 11:07 pm
by Ben
As somebody from Europe moving to the US, where i took a drafting class... I quickly abandoned any thoughts of trying to convert the US Customary system into my more familiar Metric system.
Measurements end up in infinite decimals and everything becomes messy and inexact. Not good for drafting.

I simply had to learn the measurements, how long is an approximate inch, foot, etc... and then learn how to divide them into fractions. After 10 years it's still a bitch. :x

The metric system is always divided into even numbers of 10, 100, 1000 etc

Generally millimeter (mm) is the smallest unit on a ruler.

10 mm = 1 centimeter (cm)
10 cm = 1 decimeter (dm)
10 dm = 1 meter (m)
1000 m = 1 kilometer (km)
10 kilometers = 1 mil (not mile)

1 cubic dm = 1 liter (L)

1 L = 10 deciliters (dl)
1 dl = 10 centiliters (cl)
1 cl = 10 milliliters (ml)

See a pattern emerging? Easy as pie ;)
The crux lies in memorizing volume or lengths of each measurement is after a lifetime of using another system.