2003/03/01
 
18:27

I'm Immeasurably Anachronistic

It's true! But I'm not the only one.

I was out walking today when a fire engine roared by. As I watched it recede, I noticed a warning on the back:

Stay Back 150 Meters


Does anybody in the fire department have any idea how large letters have to be in order to be visible nearly a fifth of a kilometer away?

Interestingly enough, I could no longer read the sign after the truck was (you guessed it) 150 feet away. Well, that's one mystery solved.

According to this site, Canada "announced its commitment to metric conversion" in 1970. The site makes no prediction about the year in which Canada will figure out how it works.

I weigh around 175 pounds. (In both Metric and Imperial measurements, "around" means "more than" in this context.) I have no idea what that is in metric. I'm five feet eight and a half inches tall. The closest I can come to making that metric is to say "five point seven feet". When it comes to measuring people (or parts thereof), I do it in feet and inches.

I think 36-24-36 sounds nifty, but I once heard it in centimeters and I didn't know whether to swoon or flee. Measuring women that way makes an already difficult-to-attain standard of perfection seem even more precise— as if they needed more hassles. On the other hand, when measuring males, going with the larger number does sound impressive.

When it comes to distances outdoors, I love meters and kilometers. I have a physical feel for what a kilometer is. I know that when I'm out power-walking, I cover 5.5 of them every hour. I have no idea what that is in miles per hour or cubits per lunar cycle.

Okay, I won't give any more examples of my metric confusion. This is, after all, a joke that started in 1970.

Well, at least in our modern age we're not going to design another silly system like Imperial measurements. (Quick: how many pecks in a bushel?) Yup, we're modern and smart, aren't we? Don't computers use the decimal system to measure things like memory? A kilobyte is 1000 bytes and a megabyte is a million, right?

Uh, not quite. A kilobyte is 1024 bytes. That's two to the power of ten, see? Computers think in base two, and so should you, apparently.

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