Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Metric Yak

G’day, all you non-metric persons. I was brought up with the
British system - you know, pints, pounds, inches,
rod-pole-or-perches etc. But being in science all my working
life, I used grams, litres, and so on every day too. Then NZ
changed into the metric system starting with coinage around 25
years ago and there was hell to pay! But over time the
letters-to-the-editor died away and things settled down, though
there still exists among us oldies a sort of dichotomy. (good
word; must look it up) For instance I tend to use Farenheit for
room and body temperatures, but celsius for everything else.
millimeters for wires and tubes is much easier than the mess of
BWG, SWG, Browne & Sharpe, and all the rest. Likewise the metric
sizes for screw threads simplify things greatly; BA, standard
pipe thread, whitworth, BSF to say nothing of the American
threads and automotive threads. One set of thread cutters
instead of ‘dozens’ in a workshop! (Though the old sizes haven’t
worked themselves out entirely yet.) I do a lot of woodwork too,
and no longer do I have to do nasty sums like 6 3/4" + 2’3 7/8" -
1 13/16"…! Calculators

aren’t much use. (I’ve always been ‘numerically challenged’)
Suppose you want to tell kids about the mind boggling number
that a million is. Well, imagine dust falling on a table at the
rate of one millimetre a year. In a million years it lies a
kilometre thick! Now do it with miles and 1/16ths of an inch!
Oh, let’s not bother. So I order my sterling wire in millimetres
diameter and length; and gold granules in grams, not rotten old
pennyweights. And which ounces do you talk about - Imperial at
28grams or troy at 31? Well, everyone hated it at first, but my
grandaughter aged 18 has no idea what 1/8th of an inch is, but
she will show you 3mm with no trouble, like any of today’s kids.
No housewife complains about getting 600mls of milk, despite
buying a pint for the majority of her life in the past, and
hating like hell having to change. Imagine monetary
calculations involving 20 shillings to a pound and twelve pence
to a shilling…? Americans did the sensible thing and went
metric - and then stopped dead! Like I said the papers had to
cut forests down on account of all the letters to the editor,
and the housewives hated it. But nobody thinks anything of it
now. Try it, you’ll like it, whydoncher! But for heaven’s sake
keep the academics out of it; we got stuck with daft things like
kilopascals for tyre pressures the gauges in service stations
are graduated in KPs and still have the p/sq in graduations, so
we still ask for “26” or “28”. There are others but nobody ever
uses them - to the extent that I can’t even remember what they
are. They are called CGS units but as I said keep away from the
daft ones. There, that’s stirred the nest up a bit, eh? I’d
better leave; Cheers,

   / /    John Burgess, 
  / /
 / //\    @John_Burgess2
/ / \ \

/ (___)

    I do a lot of woodwork too, and no longer do I have to do
nasty sums like 6 3/4" + 2'3 7/8" - 1 13/16"......! Calculators
aren't much use. (I've always been 'numerically challenged' ) 

Me too John! (there are calculators for woodworkers which will
let y ou input 2’ 9 7/8" + 13’ 1/4 and gives you board feet -
very cool, Ken has one, but I haven’t figured out how to use it
so I just buy extra lumber) Almost a quarter century ago when I
was in High school here in the states they told us we needed to
learn metric as the U.S. was going to the metric system. All our
science classes of course used metrics, as does the health
profession when I worked in it and we even used metric system
exclusively on archeological digs I was on here in the states.
Don’t know if it’s connected but after the energy crisis died
down I never seemed to hear about converting to metric system
anymore. It’s as close as I come to being bilingual. ;~) Kat