Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Measuring Up (and Down)

It’s always funny when temperature comes up here – and right now it’s coming up a lot, because it’s been atypically cool and rainy. An Australian guy will say the temperature, at which point I enter a momentary fugue state while my brain tries to convert degree Celsius to degree Fahrenheit. (A basic rule of thumb: 30 degrees is very hot; 10 is pretty cool.)

The way we measure things is a part of the fabric of life, common sense… until you go elsewhere. In Australia, not only is it degree Celsius, not degree Fahrenheit, it’s kilometers, not miles. Centimeters, not inches. Liters, not gallons. And kilograms not pounds. I was thrilled recently to hop on a scale and find myself weighing less than 100. Then I was given a conversion rate. Really looking forward to a Lenten fast.

Getting in the spirit of things, I’m going to use degree Celsius, kms, cms, kgs and liters as often as I can in my entries. For those playing along at home:
1 kilometer is 0.62 miles.
1 centimeter is 0.39 inches.
1 liter is 0.22 gallons.
1 kilogram is 2.20 pounds -- which in my opinion is really unfair; if kilometers are less than miles, why aren’t kilograms less than pounds? I’d like to propose a recount.

As for degree Celsius and Fahrenheit, you might remember the formula we learned in school: F=9/5 C +32. Degree Fahrenheit = nine-fifths of the degrees Celsius (almost double) + 32.

Then again, you might just go to convertunits.com and let them do it for you.