Musing In The Time of CoViD: Measurement

I’m musing a lot lately. Pondering, imagining, wondering.

Are you musing more these days, too?  I find it’s a calm, curious place to be. No compelling urge to explore; I just ponder.

I’ve come up with four particular musings that intrigue me and plan to offer them here one at a time. Perhaps by the fourth week, I’ll have found a fifth!

I’ll present them and let you ponder their significance, if any. Perhaps you’d like to explore the topic.  Please feel free to share what you’ve learned.

Today’s pondering  musing is on how we measure distance in this country.

 

Irrelevant but well-known image.

Feet or Meters

Did you know there are only three countries that use the imperial measurement system (feet, inches, etc.). Those countries are Myanmar, Liberia, and the United States. Everyone else uses the metric system; even our own NASA.

What’s that about?

There are just so many paths to take with this one.  Which way would you go? What intrigues you the most about this?

Next week: Musing #2

24 Responses

  1. Carolyn
    | Reply

    Theoretically in the UK we use the metric system but everywhere you go you see feet, miles, pints. Even so, there are differences between UK and US gallons. I rather enjoy the contrariness of systems, especially as it makes me think. While travelling in Europe I automatically translate kilometers to miles and when baking I use both pounds and kilos – go figure.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Being from a small country, surrounded by other small countries has a built in advantage, it suddenly occurs to me. Not only do you grow up knowing different languages, you become adept at jumping from one way of doing things to another. That resiliency, seems to me, must help even with the kilos, liters, gallons morass. I envy you, Carolyn.
      Janet Givens recently posted…Musing In The Time of CoViD: MeasurementMy Profile

  2. Marian Beaman
    | Reply

    You mention that the clever image of pedestrians crossing a street is well-known, but I’ve never seen it. My thought: I’ve found it hard in Europe translating kilometers to miles, and now I see the USA is out of step, literally, with the rest of the world.

    Right now, I’m finding it hard to muse about anything except the horrific story from Minneapolis.
    Marian Beaman recently posted…Comment on Mennonite Daughter: Creating a Book Trailer by merrildsmithMy Profile

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Oh Marian, your Mennonite heritage is showing. The photo is the cover of the Beatles’ Abbey Road album. Google it, listen to a few of the songs. A brilliant compilation from Come Together and Something to Maxwell’s Silver Hammer (which I must admit I never actually listened to until a road trip a few years ago. But it’s a fun if weird song)

      I’m trying desperately to stay away from news. The horrific reports of the death of Individual blacks by white law enforcement seeps through — been going on through the entire history of our country. It’s a systemic problem. When the news focuses on each single victim, I think people tend to forget how deeply embedded in our culture this kind of violence is. So I’m escaping for awhile into random musings. I’m glad you joined me.
      Janet Givens recently posted…Musing In The Time of CoViD: MeasurementMy Profile

  3. Susan Jackson
    | Reply

    I remember our country trying to force us onto the metric system—didn’t work—if we actually want to be in sync with the rest of the world it starts with the kids—teach them in school and change it that way. I lived in Europe for 20 years so I am easy with changing kilometers, kilos—yeah—buy a kilo of cherries and you learn real quick, gas but not good with the cooking measurements

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      I remember hearing in grade school that learning metric was coming soon. And we’d have a lesson. Kind of like learning the periodic table in chemistry class. Inertia is a powerful force. My biggest challenge is comparing gas prices.
      Janet Givens recently posted…Musing In The Time of CoViD: MeasurementMy Profile

  4. Kathleen Pooler
    | Reply

    We had to use the metric system in nursing when preparing medications and it was a conscious effort each time. I usually had to resort to using a cheat sheet. Interesting how our country lags behind the world in converting to one system. But I’m not really thinking about that. I’m musing about the impact our social divide on complying with public health recommendations will have on this second wave.
    Kathleen Pooler recently posted…Busy Calling by Memoirist Linda HoyeMy Profile

  5. Janet Morrison
    | Reply

    It is interesting that we’re in such a minority here in the U.S., isn’t it? Part of me wishes we used the metric system, but I think converting to it would be a nightmare. I never was very good at math, so I know it would be a nightmare for me. LOL!

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Do you remember threats of it as a school child Janet? I remember thinking of that when I lived in Kazakhstan and learned that in one generation, about a 20 year span, the alphabet changed three times. Cyrillic, Arabic, and Latin. Imagine how confusing that!
      Janet Givens recently posted…Musing In The Time of CoViD: MeasurementMy Profile

  6. Tim Fearnside
    | Reply

    I suppose I might want to delve deeper into “why not?” I do recall some push in the direction of the metric system as a kid, as well as the “pushback” from many. But why? And why not Liberia and Myanmar, of all places? I’d also be interested to ponder whether the U.S.’s refusal to embrace this change reflects something about our collective stubbornness and perceived sense of “independence.” There seem possible parallels between this mindset and other phenomena, such as the current “anti-mask,” “anti-shutdown” movement unfolding before us.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      I know! Myanmar and Liberia. How’d that happen? I do recall something about WHO was using metric, that served as a deterrent to our following along. Along similar lines to why the US doesn’t celebrated international woman’s day. Sigh.
      Janet Givens recently posted…Musing In The Time of CoViD: MeasurementMy Profile

  7. Arlene Smith
    | Reply

    I’m a Canadian “of a certain age,” which mean I’m a mix of both systems. When I was a child everything was feet, inches, ounces, pounds, Fahrenheit. When I was in elementary school they did the switchover. I still talk about how tall I am in feet and inches, and I talk about body weight in pounds. But at a deli, I order cold cuts in grams, not ounces or pounds. I am completely converted to Celsius for weather (because it makes so much more sense). When I travel, I think about the speed I’m travelling in kilometres per hour, but when I have to calculate distances, I convert that to miles! A mess, right? Hey, it works for me.
    Arlene Smith recently posted…Odd but beautifulMy Profile

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Thanks for that perspective, Arlene. Yours was the pioneer generation. And the next generation of Canadians have it so much easier. Somehow here in the US, the will was not there.
      Janet Givens recently posted…Musing In The Time of CoViD: MeasurementMy Profile

  8. susan scott
    | Reply

    I just checked – here in South Africa the metric system was introduced in 1970. I still think in terms of acre (4000 sq feet), feet and inches, though I have a pretty good idea of the metrics of that. We do kilometres though I can convert into mikes if I want to. I have an idea that the UK still talks of distance in terms of miles?

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Im so envious of you bi-measurement folks. We know now that bi-lingualism offers a huge cognitive advantage. I’m thinking the ability to fluidly move from one system to another must offer a great advantage in overall resiliency.
      Janet Givens recently posted…Musing In The Time of CoViD: MeasurementMy Profile

  9. Clive Pilcher
    | Reply

    As has been said earlier in the comments, we in the U.K. still use imperial measures for many things. It’s as though we never really took metrication seriously. Given the backward looking approach inherent in Brexit, I’m wondering (pondering, musing etc) whether there will be a move towards imperial systems again. It’s the sort of thing that our rabid tabloid press will, I’m sure, turn into a campaign at some point.
    Clive Pilcher recently posted…Tuesday Tunes 10: MysteryMy Profile

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Oh my. I do hope you can stem that back flowing tide, Clive. Though, I know many folks who fancy themselves proud Luddites and would welcome a drift back to a simpler era. Phrased that way, I may join them. 🙂 thanks for weighing in.
      Janet Givens recently posted…Musing In The Time of CoViD: MeasurementMy Profile

  10. Bette Stevens
    | Reply

    I’ve pondered about this for decades now… figuring our leaders are either too obstinate or too lazy to change!

  11. Ally Bean
    | Reply

    I’ve no idea why we as a country can’t go metric, but apparently we can’t. I have no strong opinion about either way to measure, but it would seem to me that if all the cool kid countries are doing it, we should too.
    Ally Bean recently posted…In Which A 3:00 A.M. Conversation About An Alleged Nightmare Turns Into A NightmareMy Profile

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Love your “all the cool kid countries” Ally. (Sorry it’s taken awhile to reply; I was unable to reply from my phone for the past few days. Unsure why and who has the time to pursue it? I knew I’d get back to the computer eventually.)
      Janet Givens recently posted…Musing In The Time of CoViD: MeasurementMy Profile

  12. Frank Moore
    | Reply

    Janet, You mentioned at the outset that NASA uses the metric system. There’s a very practical reason for them to do so. Pretty early on in NASA’s life there were cooperative missions with a number of countries. We had to all use the same system of weights, measures and volume. Since the predominant system was metric, it won out by default – – not to mention it is eminently more logical.

  13. Pamela Wight
    | Reply

    Since I’m a woman who has never ‘gotten into’ measurements/math/inches/millimeters, etc. (my mind doesn’t recognize measurable logic) I drifted to the feet of the Beatles. That iconic photo (and I gasped at Marian’s comment, not being familiar with it) always made me ponder…and it still does…did Paul purposely stride with his right foot while the three others with their left foot? Did they mean to stir up such controversy and conspiracy (the whole “Paul is dead” thing). It seems so so silly now, and irrelevant and nonsensical. But realize, as I ponder, what an innocent time, when we all could be focused on silly and nonsensical.
    Pamela Wight recently posted…Her Only ChoiceMy Profile

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