The joys of pre-metric measurements

Anyone who thinks I’m kidding around when I talk about the insanity of pre-metric weights and measures needs to read April Munday’s post on the medieval versions of the slippery little beasts.

I offer eternal gratitude to anyone who can explain why there aren’t a hundred of something–I don’t much care what–in a hundredweight. (I should warn you that eternity doesn’t last as long as it used to. It’s one of those inconsistent measurement things.)

54 thoughts on “The joys of pre-metric measurements

  1. Hi Helen,
    I wish someone could explain to me, why in the US and GB a pound is not a pound [= 500 grams] like in the rest of the world, but only 453 grams.
    Have a nice pre-Christmas time,

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You probably don’t understand the finer-metric-thingies because you keep changing your name. It’s Helen now? What’s next: Boaty Something-or-Other? And…what was wrong with your other name? Yes, that one. I’d like to say, one day, that “I knew you when…” but knowing that is now the proverbial crapshoot will put the kettle on and shout out to who ever (whom ever?) “Oy! Tea?” until you decide…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oy (that’s the Yiddish oy, as in oy vey, not the British one). Where do I start? I’ve given up on my name. If someone calls me Helen, more often than not I just go ahead and answer. Someone about being on an island surrounded by water makes the difference between Ellen and Helen inaudible.

      Never mind that Pit’s in Texas.

      I also get called Ida, which is my partner’s name.

      Does that help? I thought not.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. And not so medieval…buying firewood in rural France not so long ago was not for the unwary. You would buy it by the corde…a rope with knots used as a measuring device….or by the stere, but how many steres you got to the corde varied according to your locality…

    Metric is very dull….

    Liked by 4 people

        • This reminds me of the arguments over whether English spelling should be simplified. It should, but the fallout from it would be terrible–not only the texts that would become unreadable but the people who’d still be spelling in Fahrenheit.

          Liked by 2 people

          • i am really screwed then…I spell with English spelling and am American. I used to get written up by teachers for adding a U to color, etc…then would tick them off rather royally by showing them my British dictionary where the word was located. WP still thinks I should be spelling “color’ instead of “colour”………stupid blog.

            Liked by 1 person

  4. Metric is very dull, but does have the singular positive attribute of being reliably and accurately defined. I’d argue that, when you’re spending your own money on an amount of something, that even the most creative people would prefer that the amount is not as creative as they are.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Canada started shifting from imperial to metric when I was in my teens. But we haven’t ever gone 100%. Stuff in grocery stores is priced in both systems. Most people use inches and feet for short distances, but kilometres for long ones. And here’s a weird personal quirk: I think of interior temperatures — inside the house, that is — in Fahrenheit, and outdoor ones in Celsius, because our thermostat is in degrees F and weather data is given in degrees C. The brain is infinitely malleable, it seems.

    Liked by 1 person

    • And even if it isn’t infinitely malleable, it’s infinitely strange.

      Because the U.K. also changed from its old coinage system to one based on tens and hundreds, when someone’s numerically confused they’re likely to say, “What’s that in old money?” I’ve heard it enough that I should’ve stopped laughing, but it cracks me up every time.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I love numbers – the more irrationally they’re arranged the better. I’d go back to the days when 12 pence equalled a shilling, 20 shillings made a pound, and if you wanted to really piss someone off you’d add a shilling to every pound and turn the whole lot into guineas.
    I like to explain the system to my hyperactive grandsons and watch their eyes glaze over, but that’s not enough for me. I go on to describe Imperial weights. They usually walk away as I’m telling them that 16 ounces make a pound and 14 pounds make a stone…
    peace, perfect peace…

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ve never been able to wrap my head around how many pounds in an ounce and all those other goofy measurements. Give me something where you just move the decimal point, but I doubt that it’ll happen here in the USA. I remember all the old codgers grumbling about having to change all their antique car tools to metric. Now that computers have taken over auto maintenance perhaps we’ll have a chance of changing, though likely not in my lifetime.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I knew an auto mechanic back when foreign cars were becoming more common in the US. He wasn’t pissed off because he liked the old system but because he had a shitload of money invested in a set of tools and they didn’t work on foreign cars–he’d have needed an entire second set. Which is a problem I can respect. In Britain, there were a bunch of stone-age throwbacks who tried to resist pricing whatever they were selling in metric weights. Which was just plain silly because both systems were supposed to be used, I think, and certainly no one had banned imperial measures. But, yeah, old codgers. Grumbling.

      Liked by 1 person

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