21 June, 2017

The Debate Rages On

Remember back in the 70s, when the US was going to switch to metric? I remember having to learn a little bit about it - millimeters, centimeters, decimeters, meters. Our thermometer had both Fahrenheit and Celsius, and I didn't quite get it.

In college when I learned about degrees Kelvin, I realized that Fahrenheit is the better, more precise measurement. And now I live that every day. ...Live, knowing that Fahrenheit is superior, but having to use Celsius. I don't really know if Celsius is technically "metric", but they seem linked.

The WHOLE WORLD uses Metric. With the exceptions of Myanmar - a screwed up military regime which, let's face it, has very little credibility, Liberia - a tiny African nation which was founded by American President Monroe, and of course, the good ol' USA.

I'm guessing the only reason we didn't join the rest of the world in going metric is because we're big enough that we don't have to. Think of the headaches and financial loss to have to change EVERYTHING we use, across the board!

Here are things that have messed with me in China, by being metric when I was not prepared for it:

1. Bed linens. No "queen, king, double..." How many cm? We decided our bed is about as wide as a queen, but a few cm short.

2. Measuring cups & spoons. Seriously! Do you know how many ml in a cup? I found some empirical measuring cups for my own recipes.

3. Paper. Click "print" in any document. We use A4 - which is about 8.28" x 11.8". My computer still defaults to empirical units, so I have to switch it over each time. Oh, it would print anyway, but I prefer to see an accurate pre-print image. This one item: paper - impacts EVERYTHING - planner pages, notebooks, posters, mail, file folders, banker boxes...

4. Picture frames. I brought several lovely 9x13 prints with me, determined that I need to look for frames in 23x31, BUT the closest I can find are 21x30. So I had to trim the pictures anyway.

Those are just a few odd things I noticed, apart from when my students asked me how tall I was, and looked blank when I said 5'10". 178cm gets a big reaction, though.

Tsingtao Draft
On the plus side, beer comes in half-liter cans!

I think in terms of Celsius now. I speak in Celsius. I don't do a fancy conversion in my head, but over 30 is hot, 25 is nice weather, 15 is getting cold, etc. This beer can says "5*C-25*C". 25*C is ridiculously warm for beer, in my American opinion! But, that's usually how they drink it.

Kilometers still throw me off. Then again, even State-side, I judge distance by time more often than by miles. Fortunately, I don't drive anywhere.


  1. At my height--let's just say I look up to most people--you'd think I'd be all for the metric system, but somehow saying I'm 167 centimeters just makes me feel even shorter. And even in Britain which was, I think, an early adopter of the metric system they still use pints. Old measurements die hard.
    On the other hand the official kilogram--a cylinder of platinum and iridium cast 118 years ago and stored in a special facility near Paris--is losing weight. Maybe that trend will spread and we'll all be getting lighter soon.

    1. Yes! To me, 178cm sounds short, too. But the kids who grew up metric don't think so.

      I'll hold my breath waiting on the new official kg!

  2. I still have to do the math every time. Except for with the temperature. That one I'm getting used to.

    1. Temps are the easiest thing. I will never know how to cook with metric measuring cups, unless we get an oven and I force myself to!

  3. That's hilarious you have issues with measuring cups.
    You have an opportunity to learn both. Since metric isnt used as much.
    Kilometers, celsius...all makes no sense to me. When I weigh myself I have no idea wtf it is unless it's lbs.
    Very interesting read....

    1. I had to convert kilos to pounds on google when I first weighed myself. It's encouraging!

  4. I would switch to metric in a second if it meant I could get a hold of those half liter beers.

  5. I do remember when they told us we were going metric!! Ha! Ha! I'm 5'10" too! That was really tall when I was a teen. Now a lot of girls are that tall. Soon my Harley will reach that as she is now 5/9"

    1. I think it's still considered tall... I gauge that by how pants are separated in stores. Used to be 5"7" and up was called tall. That may not be the case, but we are still well enough above average that pants don't fit!


I enjoy a good debate. Feel free to shake things up. Tell me I'm wrong. Ask me why I have such a weird opinion. ...or, just laugh and tell how this relates to you and your life.