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fortnights per furlong April 24, 2013

Posted by mareserinitatis in engineering, food/cooking, homeschooling, math.
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I was recently talking to a non-technical person who was interested in some of my work.  As we were discussing some of the specifics, he asked about a distance between two pieces of equipment.

“Oh, it’s about a meter,” I responded.  I was met with a blank stare.  I thought for a moment then added, “So close to a yard.”  There was a wrinkling of the brow laid over the top of the blank stare.  “Or about three feet.”

There went the lightbulb.

It’s times like this that I really wish the US would switch over to metric.  The problem is that the average person not only has problems with metric but also with all but a handful of English measurements, too.  I’ve gotten fairly proficient with English units and conversions in part because I like to cook but also because I’ve homeschooled both boys in math: measurement units and conversions are a regular topic of conversation.

At the beginning of my homeschooling career, however, I bought a spice mix for “sikh kebabs” with the notion that I’d use twice the meat, making it almost palatable for those of us with pathetic spice digesting abilities.  The instructions on the back laid everything out in metric units, and when I tried to go from kilograms to pounds, I ended up halving the meat.  We started calling the kebabs “atomic sausage,” and I still regularly am reminded to check Google and make sure I’m doing any metric to English conversions correctly.

The kebabs were still really good, though…when loaded with sour cream.

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