Is it time to meter our way toward the metric system?

After writing last week that I was in no hurry for the United States to adopt the metric system of measurements, I learned that what I was opposed to was "metrication."

That word arrived by e-mail from Paul Trusten, the public relations director for the U.S. Metric Association Inc. His group works to change the nation from an unwieldy system of weights and measures to the base 10 system used by much of the world.

"We exist for metric," he wrote after I told him I had never even heard of metrication or, for that matter, the U.S. Metric Association. He acknowledged my reluctance to give up the "English system" of measurements I had grown up with.

"Even as leading national spokesman in favor of U.S. metrication, I understand your struggle on the issue of two different systems of measurement," Mr. Trusten wrote. "Even I cannot deal with the metric system as it is used today in the U.S."

The metric system -- the International System of Units -- is applied hit or miss in the United States today, it seems. Packaged products list both systems, and a few road signs inform us in kilometers instead of miles, but that mishmash is what gives people like me such headaches, Mr. Trusten explained.

"We cannot be living in a constant state of conversion (no nation does!)," he wrote. "We have to change over to metric as the sole national standard. Once we do that, your frustration will end."

(Well, I have plenty of frustrations, but this is a good place to start, I suppose.)

"Metrication is an all-or-nothing process," he went on, because our need to convert such things as Celsius to Fahrenheit and ounces to milliliters slows us down terribly.

The metric system (10 millimeters equal 1 centimeter, 100 centimeters equal 1 meter, 1000 meters equal 1 kilometer) would end all that, he said, because no longer would we have to care about what it means in inches, feet, yards and miles.

According to the association's Web site, www.metric.org, if we all learn six to eight everyday metric units, we will soon be "thinking metric."

By the way, most readers responding to last week's column via e-mail and chronicle.augusta.com/moore said it is nigh time the United States catches up with the rest of the world.

But wait, there's more! Open your calendar to the second week in October -- which contains the 10th day of the 10th month -- and circle it. You don't want to miss out when the rest of us are celebrating National Metric Week.

Reach Glynn Moore at (706) 823-3419 or glynn.moore@augustachronicle.com.

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