Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Units, units

Jeremy Z left a comment on my post "Locking strategy":
Why are you still citing temperature in C and snowfall in cm? The news didn't give it that way, so you're apparently translating it for your own benefit. It's kind of sad to me when people come here from other countries for the benefits of living in the US, but then refuse to integrate.
Jeremy is absolutely right. I should use the imperial system more and I should do it for benefit of my readers (as most of you come from US). But it is not that easy for me as you may think.
I have never used imperial units before I came to US and learning it is more difficult than learning the metric system. Sure, I know how many inches are in a foot and how many feet are in a yard. But I still can't remember how many feet or yards are in a mile. Still, length units are relatively easy to understand. Plus, I use them at work (engineering). The temperature scale in degrees of Fahrenheit is much, much more complex. It confuses me to the point that I don't watch news to check the forecast. Instead, I use Forecastfox, a free Firefox add-on. I have it configured in degrees C and this way I don't have to convert anything. The only two temperature values that I can convert easily from F into C is 32 deg F (water freezes, equals 0 deg C) and 212 deg F (water boils, equals 100 deg C). I am familiar with the latter one only because I have an electric kettle that shows "212F" when water for my tea is ready. The rest of the scale is a big mystery. When I hear that it is supposed to be 65F outside, I know that it's warm but I don't know how much. When my son's body temperature reaches 99F I scratch my head and wonder whether to call his doctor immediately or if he is still fine. In fact, the first thing I did in the first car I bought here in US was to change the temperature units to degrees C and the clock to 24h format on my car's dashboard.

As you may noticed, I started using double units in recent posts and I will continue to do so to benefit everyone. Temperature will be listed then in "non-standard" (sorry, couldn't resist) degrees of Fahrenheit.

At least I am glad that the entire bicycle industry adopted metric system universally. Although I realize that this must drive you nuts here. I am happy I don't have to look for a 7/32" wrench when a 5mm one is perfectly appropriate.

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