Monday, November 10, 2008

Divisible by ten

The other day I was trying to describe a typical winter here to a friend who lives in the States, and when it got to average temperature, I had to stop and literally use a conversion chart in order to figure out what "my" minus 12 degrees Celcius meant in "her" Fahrenheit. And I remember saying, "I'm sorry, it's my Metric upbringing, I don't understand Imperial measurements!'

But that got me thinking. The Metric system was only introduced in Canada in the early 1970's (or so I think, based on the heavy focus it received in my grades one and two curriculum) And so while we small children grasped the concept easily, we still had our parents back at home, who had been raised on the Imperial system. As such, we were brought up on both systems, to a certain degree.

Examples:

I can only buy food in kilograms and have no idea what a pound of meat looks like. However, I weigh people in pounds, and have no idea what a 45 kilogram person would look like.

I know how much a litre of liquid is, but if you told me a recipe called for 400 millilitres of milk? I'd cry. Give me measurements in cups and half cups. Likewise, I want to hear about tablespoons and teaspoons, I do NOT want to hear about 45 millilitres, because (whatever that IS) surely no good can come from that.

I seriously do NOT understand the concept of a mile, you need to talk to me in kilometres. What I find funny, though, is that even here in Canada, car dealerships will declare that a vehicle gets "52 miles per gallon", and we all nod and agree that's good fuel economy, even though we have no idea what that means! Now, to be fair, "52 miles per gallon", sounds waaaaaay more impressive than "22.14 kilometres per litre", even though that's the exact conversion. (Again, had to look it up.)

And while I DO understrand distance in Metric, NEVER tell me a person is 159 centimeters tall, unless you want to confuse me to death. I think of "people height" in feet. 159 centimetres is 5'3", my own height. Hmm, that 159 sounds way more impressive, but the 5'3" sounds so dainty and petite. And, you know, understandable.

Temperature? Weather must be in Metric, but if I'm cooking, please tell me to turn the oven to 350F, Ok? And if I have a fever, don't tell me I'm up to 41 degrees Celcius, just cut to the chase and tell me it's 103F, otherwise I won't know if it's good or bad.

Am I the norm for the first generation of Metric Canadians? I think so. So now I'm going to take my 5'3" body in to my 16 degree Celsius kitchen to turn my oven to 350F so I can cook my 2 kilogram roast with one cup of onions.

1 comment:

Gillian Grattan-Baldwin said...

That is so spot on! Your take on it all is identical to how I think too! Too funny! I bet a great majority of our generation thinks exactly the same way! :)