28.3 grams of prevention

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By John Pawlak

I give up! A 9/16ths nut is too tight for this bolt, and 5/8ths nut seems just a bit loose. Maybe I need a 19/32nds nut? And is this a UNC or machine style bolt? My shop book isn’t helping. The flat is one eighth of the pitch? I’m beginning to understand why they keep referring to the shaft!
Standard measurements (as they are euphemistically called) are anything but that. We have 20 grains to a scruple, 3 scruples to a drachm, and 8 drachms to an ounce. There’s 5280 feet per mile, 12 inches per foot, 16-1/2 feet to a rod, 43,560 square feet per acre, 7.48 gallons per cubic foot, and ... darn, I can never remember how many furlongs to a fortnight! There’s 12 drams to an ounce, 16 ounces to a pound, 14 pounds to a stone and two stones to a quarter.
A quarter is just a tad less than a slug (does anyone really care how accurate a slug is?). I can imagine a farmer trying to sell his truckload of 200 stones of melons, but how many buyers would there be for a 100 slugs of fruit?
A fathom is 6 feet, a braza is 5.48 feet, and a league is a hair over 3 miles. Oh wait, is that survey miles, nautical miles, or Irish miles?
A barrel of crude oil has 42 U.S. gallons (what does that convert to for civilized oil?). If we stop using oil and start using corn, maybe we should use bushels instead of barrels. A barrel happens to be 3.28 bushels. That translates to 12.8 gallons a bushel. Will mileage be computed as miles per bushel?
Please, oh please can’t we just all go metric? It would be so much better for my aging brain. At the very least, I wouldn’t have to own two sets of sockets. Yes, going metric would make many things in life so much easier ... by at least a factor of 10.
I really hate being 20 pounds overweight. In a metric world, I’d only be a tad more than 9 kilograms overweight. I’ll have that dish of ice cream, if you please!
Don’t like paying $3.50 a gallon for gasoline? If we went metric, you’d only have to pay 93 cents a liter! But it’s not all good news. Just think of all those poor cowboys who would have to trade in their 10-gallon hats for 45-liter hats.
And of course, many well-known measurements would need to be tweaked a bit. Football fields would be 91.44 meters long. Somehow, “the longest meter” just doesn’t have the same ring to it. Children would be taught that 28.3 grams of prevention would be worth 0.45 kilograms of cure. And before you criticize a man, you will have to walk a kilometer in his shoes (or would you still have to walk the full 1.6 kilometers?)
Speaking of shoes, or feet, we’d find ourselves putting out best 30.48 centimeters forward. Would I get to tell people my height in centimeters? I’ve always wanted to be a giant. Well, like they say, give a person a centimeter and they’ll take a kilometer.
Another bright side of going metric would be that we’d get some more interesting movie quotes.
“OK punk ... this is an 11.2 millimeter magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world. Do you feel like converting that to inches? Well, do you punk?”
“Yardsticks? Yardsticks? We don’t need no stinkin’ yardsticks!”
“You want the conversion? I want the apothecaries conversion! YOU can’t HANDLE the apothecaries conversion!”
The thought of going totally metric gets my decimals shifting. No more driving at 75 mph on Rt. 25. We metric fans drive at a maniacal 120 kph!
And the greatest benefit of all for converting to metric would be that we would then get 10 bottles of beer in a six pack. Of course, for some people, none of this is an issue. Standard versus metric is all the same to them. It’s half a dozen of one, five of the other.