Tuesday, June 7, 2011


I can live with driving on the opposite side of the road.

I can deal with dimes, nickels and quarters.

I can  even accept candy, elevators, gas, yielding to and passing cars, faucets, bath tissue, potties, diapers and pacifiers.

A country where lemon-lime soda is what I've always known as lemonade, and lemonade is glorified - and deliciously sweetened - lemon juice. Butter is the palest shade of yellow, and cheddar cheese resembles bright orange plastic (okay, I still have issues with the cheese).

The biggest part of the U.S. experience that my brain isn't willing to embrace is the U.S. customary units of measurement. Inches, feet, miles, pounds, ounces, quarts, gallons... there is no easy way to convert these. Not accurately without a calculator. These units get divided or multiplied by eighths, twelfths, sixteenths, and so on.

It seems rather silly to me. Archaic.

Perhaps I'm lazy. Or perhaps it's just that I grew up with a logical system of measurement. The metric system - everything divided or multiplied by ten. Simple, yes?

It's not that I'm unfamiliar with the concept of pounds and inches - nearly five years in the U.K. and the dregs of their imperial system meant that I had no choice but to get with the programme. Officially (in line with the rest of the European Union), they were supposed to be in metric, but I saw and heard imperial measurements all the time.

There are some differences, though.

Firstly, I never drove in the U.K. Although I got used to judging distance in miles when I saw signs and maps, I never had to judge miles per hour while behind a steering wheel. Here in LA, it still feels odd to look at the car's odometer and see 35 (mph) instead of 55 (kph), when it's actually the same speed.

The other difference is Fahrenheit versus Celsius. The U.K. may have dragged its feet regarding metric use, but they at least use Celsius when discussing the weather - a popular topic of conversation, but really, how many different ways can you say cold with grey skies and drizzle?

After thirty-something years of thinking in Celsius, I struggle with Fahrenheit. I don't like it, so there.

My highly accurate internet research tells me that only three countries in the entire world have yet to adopt metric. The U.S. is in good company with Myanmar and Liberia. Sure, sure, just because the rest of the world is doing something, doesn't mean it's right... but maybe, just maybe, metric is better?

So, what gives, America? Why not ditch a complicated, out-dated system and adopt a sensible one instead? Why the stubborn cling to the past? (Trust me, it's not just this one Australian lass who thinks it's funny, in a sad kind of way...)  


  1. Yeah. What's with the stubborn clinging?

    I am such a dunce with measurements anyway - converting anything explodes my brain.

  2. Maybe because they put it off for later and now it all seems too hard. I'm just guessing.

  3. @ Angie - Thank god for the internet - I have a nifty little temperature conversion printout taped inside one of the kitchen cupboards next to our oven, for when I'm using recipes from home. My head would explode, too, if I had to constantly convert from Celsius to Fahrenheit. Either that, or I'd stick my head in the oven.

    @ Melbo - I'd say it's definitely gone into the 'too hard' basket. A shame...