After I got home from work one evening last week, my feverish wife reported that her latest thermometer reading was 37.77 degrees.
We are both fans of television's CSI , so we knew such a temperature could qualify her for a role as Victim No. 1 in an upcoming episode.
"No wonder you're having chills," I said before finally figuring out how to switch the readout back from Celsius to Fahrenheit.
For those of you who have no idea how to convert Celsius to Fahrenheit, her temperature was actually 101.8 degrees.
I assume most of you don't know how to convert, because, I mean, who cares about the metric system?
I don't. I'm perfectly happy that ours is the last industrialized nation to stick with the English system (which, oddly enough, the English have abandoned in favor of the metric system).
I know my wife's supposed normal temperature is 98.6 F, but its equivalent, 37 C, tells me nothing I have been brought up to understand.
Moreover, when the weatherman says it will reach 80 tomorrow, I know what to wear; were he to predict 26.7 C, I would have to stay indoors all day in fear of dressing inappropriately.
More than our thermometers serve us perfectly well in the English system. Have you ever read a book from Europe that described a character as standing 1.8 meters (or, worse, metres) tall? I'm 6 feet exactly, which is, by a nice coincidence, actually six times my foot in length, but what would I gain by being 1.8?
By the way, my wife -- with that really low-grade fever of 37.77 -- stands only 1.67 meters tall. (So don't slouch, Honey.)
I suppose it's only a matter of time -- thank goodness our clocks haven't converted -- before the U.S. says uncle. We already use the base 10 system a bit.
For years, our car speedometers have displayed kilometers per hour (km/h) alongside miles per hour, though in smaller numerals. For that reason alone, I know our speed limit of 55 mph equates to 88 km/h, which sounds so much faster, doesn't it?
Users of metric can never drive 60 mph -- a mile a minute -- which was a fantastic speed a century ago but today seems downright sluggish.
Americans already run in 5K races, but for the life of me, I don't know whether that is a frolic in the park or a gut-busting ordeal.
Anyone who has ever read a label in the grocery store knows a pound equals 454 grams. From covering court trials, I know a kilogram is 2.2 pounds and an ounce is about 28 grams.
When I was younger, car engines were measured in cubic inches: 289, 302 or 409. Today, they are 4.6-liter, 5-liter or 6.7-liter engines. (In late 1965, Ford introduced a model called the 7-Litre, which boasted a 428-cubic-inch engine; it didn't last long on the American market.)
As globalization continues, a football field is destined to become 91.44 meters long. The back 40 acres won't be. Cookbooks will lose their cups, quarts, ounces and teaspoons. The 10-gallon hat, which never held 10 gallons, then will not hold 37.85411784 liters.
As for leagues, furlongs, rods, pinches and hogsheads -- well, I never knew what those were anyway, so good riddance.
MOORE WORDS: Both "inch," a measure of length, and "ounce, a measure of weight, are derived from the same Latin word, uncia , which meant "a twelfth part." An inch is one-twelfth of a foot, and an ounce is one-twelfth of a pound in the troy weight system. In the avoirdupois weight system we use, of course, an ounce is one-sixteenth of a pound.
Match that, metric system!
Reach Glynn Moore at (706) 823-3419 or firstname.lastname@example.org.