## / Who here DIDN'T learn metric in school?

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I started school in the late 70s and only learnt metric - I don't know how many ounces are in a pound or pounds in a stone etc. I'm perfectly happy thinking in miles, but beyond knowing 3000 ft is big for a British hill, I'm pretty rubbish at thinking of climb lengths, for example, in feet. My rope is 50 mtrs long, a pitch should be about that etc etc. It's so simple. Considering that you haven't been able to buy petrol in gallons for 25 years I find it odd that people talk about MPG for cars, but - hey, if you enjoy doing mental arithmetic, we can let that one slide.

But why on earth does the BBC (and most UK papers it seems) insist on still using feet, Fahrenheit and pounds then? Are little kids in schools being taught this silliness again? Is it really that the 60-somethings have such a lock on UK cultural life that they can insist on making life unnecessarily complicated for everyone born since the Edward Heath was the bloody prime minister?
In reply to TobyA:
I'm 35 and was taught only metric at school. I am now a Shipwright and joiner and work in feet and inches, I really do find them easier to work with. Not really sure why.

Jb.
In reply to TobyA:
I did both and I started school in the mid 80s. Seems strange not to learn both as the legacy of the imperial system will outlive most people who post on this forum. Don't get me wrong I'm not a fan of fan of screwing around with silly multiples when the decimal system works much better but being able to work in imperial is quite handy.
For instance if you need to replace a bolt, give the size in the units it was designed in. Don't try and find the metric equivalent because 9 times out of 10 it won't fit.

In the last 5 years I've regularly used feet, inches, pounds, pints, grains, minims and god knows what else in engineering and pharmaceutical manufacture. All I can say is thank god I don't have to use British Thermal units!
In reply to TobyA:

I am probably about the same age as you, and learnt metric at school. However, we all had an awareness of imperial measures. I am happier cooking with ounces, can relate to body weight much better in stones and pounds, and think of distances in miles.
In reply to TobyA:

We learnt both and I started school in 1984.

Can't say I've noticed anywhere in the UK still using Fahrenheit without quoting celsius as well. Certainly they've stopped using it in TV weather bulletins when I remember it being used when I was growing up.

It was strange that in Borgen they translated x sq m to y sq foot as when talking about house sizes in the UK neither is used.
In reply to Caralynh: although I bet from 1:50000 and 1:25000 you are perfectly happy working in kilometers as well? Even the US military uses "clicks" and they're, well, Americans who are clearly a lost cause on metric. An Aussie friend was laughing about the "poms" and this when I was driving with him down there last year. They just went metric in the 70s/80s and were done with it it seems.
In reply to ebygomm:
> Certainly they've stopped using it in TV weather bulletins

I'm sure I still hear in on Radio 4 quite often, with Fahrenheit given first.
It was actually this story linked on another thread that reminded me how annoying I find this! http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cumbria-21496127
In reply to TobyA:

I changed measurement systems 4 times in my school career, from Imperial fractions to decimal then to metric cgs and then to SI. I live in a country which is metric but still has another set of measurements vaguely approximating to pounds, feet and so on in common use. I trade with countries still using the Imperial system.
Perhaps you´re not mentally flexible enough
In reply to TobyA:

Me -- Even when I did my first year Engineering course at Uni in 1967 we were still using imperial units.

I flunked Uni, had a year out of education, and when I was accepted on to a HNC course in Civil Engineering in 1969 everything was being taught in Metric for the first time.

The construction industry in the UK became metricated fairly quickly, however many scaffolding and formwork components had been manufactured to imperial modules, so I had to become adept at being able to switch systems.

I still feel more comfortable with MPH and MPG than with the metric equivalents - but that's because we've never metricated our road signs.

In reply to Caralynh:

> I am probably about the same age as you, and learnt metric at school. However, we all had an awareness of imperial measures.

I don't think my school ever used imperial at all. There is a long wiki article about UK metrification and it notes somewhere in it IIRC that Home Economics was meant to be metric from sometime in the mid 70s!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metrication_in_the_United_Kingdom
In reply to TobyA: Did we not move full to metric to fall in line with the EU although I understand that we had flirted with it for years before that?

I'm Imperial through and through but every now and again lapse into metric....
In reply to Lord of Starkness:

> I still feel more comfortable with MPH and MPG than with the metric equivalents - but that's because we've never metricated our road signs.

Yep, driving in the UK with my Finnish car is a bit annoying because it doesn't have an MPH on the speedo, but I think most Brits can do the maths easily because we've all seen mph next to kmph on our speedometers for years. I remember it easily from knowing naismith's rule in mile and kms!

In reply to TobyA: Those who were only taught metric are missing so much: thou, inch, foot yard, chain, furlong, mile, league; perch, rood, acre; gill, pint, quart, gallon etc.

It's part of the beauty of being British.
In reply to mkean:

> For instance if you need to replace a bolt, give the size in the units it was designed in. Don't try and find the metric equivalent because 9 times out of 10 it won't fit.

I was told by an old climbing friend who used to be a submariner that on the trident subs the engineers need two sets of spanners because the front and back of the boats - the "British bits" are metric bolts, but the section around the reactor, the "American bit" is all bolted together with imperial bolts. I don't know if this is true, but hope it is some how!
In reply to mypyrex:
It's part of the beauty of being British.

Being permenently confused and a couple of thou out whenever you try to make an interference fitted part? I thought Britishness was about drinking lots of tea and trying to redecorate the map in pink.

;-)

In reply to mypyrex: Somehow I was expecting something along those lines from you. Do you write to points of view or the letter page of the Telegraph to keep them on the 'imperial' straight and narrow on this? ;-)
In reply to TobyA: It makes me smile when working with Bronze DofE groups on navigation. They get the route plan and how easy it is to manipulate the metric numbers. When complete they always ask "How many miles" Doh!

Robin
In reply to TobyA:

SI all the way..fahrenheit in particular is shite.
In reply to TobyA:
I can believe it and it is definitely a worth keeping a set of imperial spanners about as while some of the sizes have a little crossover it is quite easy to round things off if you try to hang on them! I once spent quite a while trying to find a left hand threaded Whitworth nut after someone had rounded it off, not an experience I'd suggest as a fun way to spend your time.
In reply to TobyA:

moi

we did exercises like 'if one stone and 3 ounces costs five pounds, three shillings and six pence, how much does a hundredweight and a half cost?'
At age 9.

clue: normalise everything to pence and to ounces
In reply to : was taught both, left school went into engineering and worked in inches down to 10,000"
In reply to TobyA:

we all did the 11+, when we were 10 years old. So we started to practice them at 9 yo.
I googled. Here are some examples from then.

1. 3,755 is multiplied by 25 and the result is divided by 125. Write down the answer.
2. A motorist leaves home at 10.15am and drives at 32 miles per hour. He stops for lunch from noon to 1.45pm and then continues his journey at 30 miles per hour. How many miles has he travelled by 5pm?

By the way, these were mental arithmetic. We had to do 20 like these in 20 minutes.
In reply to MikeTS: £2-1/5? (Used a pencil & paper, rather than the traditional slate so it might be wrong)
In reply to mkean:
> (In reply to TobyA)
> I can believe it and it is definitely a worth keeping a set of imperial spanners about as while some of the sizes have a little crossover it is quite easy to round things off if you try to hang on them! I once spent quite a while trying to find a left hand threaded Whitworth nut after someone had rounded it off, not an experience I'd suggest as a fun way to spend your time.

I take it you were using a left-handed spanner?
In reply to TobyA:

> I was told by an old climbing friend who used to be a submariner that on the trident subs the engineers need two sets of spanners because the front and back of the boats - the "British bits" are metric bolts, but the section around the reactor, the "American bit" is all bolted together with imperial bolts. I don't know if this is true, but hope it is some how!

I was told that the unified thread standards originated following compatibility problems repairing ships during WWII. Would be surprised if that was abandoned during the NATO era.

In reply to TobyA: Thats the same situation with a common infantry vehicle. The Hull and running gear are all in Metric. The engine and gearbox is American and in imperial dimensions.
In reply to TobyA: I don't remember ever using Imperial measurements in school, although I tend to use Imperial in preference over metric for some measurements. I'm more comfortable with inches, feet and miles, but prefer grams & kilograms to ounces & pounds!

Interestingly I was talking to an American friend last night about this, and she works exclusively in Americal Imperial. She even suggested that putting "ability to work in imperial and metric units" was something you'd put on your CV over there as it was a much sought-after skill in some areas!
In reply to TobyA:

Mrs D can't think of her weight in anything but Stones and Pounds which always strikes me as odd.
In reply to TobyA:

When I started at school we were taught imperial. One day they came round and swapped all of our rulers over to metric and from then on it was metric all the way.

Due to the strange way we cling to the past in this country, I still measure distance/speed when driving in miles/miles per hour, though when I run or cycle I think in kilometeres.
In reply to GrahamD: I'm similar. Whilst I use metric for small amounts rather than pounds & ounces, I can't relate to bodyweight in anything other than stones and pounds! Odd really.
In reply to jimtitt:
> (In reply to TobyA)
>
> I live in a country which is metric but still has another set of measurements vaguely approximating to pounds, feet and so on in common use.

Wow, Jim, what's that then?
In reply to TobyA:

The UK has a wonderfully flexible approach to measurement scales. I believe you can still buy 3m of 2-by-4 and a kilo of two-inch nails!
In reply to jon: I think there are all sorts old weights and measures around in different countries. There's some weird words in Finnish that are both "fennoisations" of English imperial units I guess, plus there own bizarre ones and those that are a legacy of Swedish and Russian times. I don't think much get used anymore. Everyone's favourite one is really Sami rather than Finnish: "poronkusema" or a reindeer's piss. Supposedly the Sami would describe distances in how many times a reindeer would pee when traveling that route - one reindeer's piss is meant to be about 7.5 kms according the internet!
In reply to john arran:
> buy 3m of 2-by-4

although I believe that's just a proportion, it's not 2 inches by 4 inches.

In reply to TobyA: I can only recall being taught in metric, though picked up a little imperial. I now work in a horrible mix, due to a range of different standards (e.g. American Petroleum Institute requires imperial) and requirements docs (e.g. French companies will specify things in metric).

I've even had documents defining some parts in imperial and some in metric on the same sheet. I also believe Brazil legally requires documents in metric, which when it's been initially designed in the US in imperial can cause all kinds of conversion issues.

Personally, outside of work requirements, I only use metric and have little intuitive feel for imperial - I can give my height and weight, and how warm it is or how far to work in metric, but would have to do conversions before the imperial equivalent meant anything to me.
In reply to jon:
In deepest Bavaria we´re still on pfund (pound),tagewerk (acre), maß (beer measurement), ster (volume) and so on though most have been converted to the nearest metric equivelents. The most obscure but commonly used is the augen which are the dimples in a 1l beer mug (maß) which is used to define the proportion of beer to lemonade in a shandy.
In reply to TobyA:
> An Aussie friend was laughing about the "poms" and this when I was driving with him down there last year. They just went metric in the 70s/80s and were done with it it seems.

It was all changed by legislation in 1970 or '71 down here. Not an imperial unit to be seen for over forty years now. Found Britain rather confusing when I came back in '88 what with petrol sold in litres but everybody talking miles-per-gallon..?!

In reply to TobyA:
although I believe that's just a proportion, it's not 2 inches by 4 inches.

I think it is 2"x4" sawn although if you buy 2x4 planed then it is smaller (as they've taken a bit off.

In reply to TobyA:

eh? The 2 x 4 i've bought has been 2 inches by 4 inches

Also bought a 2.8m long 8x4 steel beam
In reply to TobyA:

I'm a similar age, and was only taught metric in school in the UK. I had to learn imperical in a year at school in the US - although my mum still cooked in imperial units, so I had a fair idea anyhow.

2x4 timber is still 2"x4" in my experience. Surely if it was just a ratio it'd be 1x2?
In reply to jimtitt:

Fascinating Jim. I always assumed it was just Brits that had silly measures. Incidentally, what volume is a ster. Here firewood is sold by the stère which is a cubic metre. http://www.webois.fr/stere-de-bois-metre-cube
In reply to TobyA:
>
>
> But why on earth does the BBC (and most UK papers it seems) insist on still using feet, Fahrenheit and pounds then? Are little kids in schools being taught this silliness again? Is it really that the 60-somethings have such a lock on UK cultural life that they can insist on making life unnecessarily complicated for everyone born since the Edward Heath was the bloody prime minister?

Presumably because anyone over the age of 50 (a substantial proportion of the population) was taught primarily imperial measurements and many still think in those terms. Personally I measure my weight in kilos but think of my height in feet and inches. A lot of my peer group don't seem know their weight in kilos. So the demand to be told in imperial measurements is still there.

In reply to TobyA:

I think I was taught imperial at infant school but metric since and of course always used metric in the lab. Using km seems complete normal within about 10 minutes of being in a proper metric country. Sadly, I think I have regressed a bit in terms of height and weight and have that embarrassing conversion process when hiring ski gear.

The problem is a complete lack of any backbone by successive governments. A few logical types of all political persuasions are supportive (I think Ken Clarke has made his frustration pretty plain) but the majority are too afraid of a few nutters threatening to starve themselves of all metric food or refusing to abide by km speed limits to support it. It needs some leadership from the top but finally conforming to a perfectly sensible European standard we first signed up to decades ago is just too much to expect, I'm afraid.
In reply to TobyA: I think I was on the cusp, all our exercise books had imperial measures outlined on the back, even after we started to learn the metric system in class. I still think I am a populist for the imperial system, a lot of times it makes more sense than the metric system, like for instance in athletics. The Yanks still use it for road and engineering distances.
In reply to TobyA:

Yes, only taught imperial measures at school. I 'learnt' metric at university, when it came in - in about 1970, I think. Not that there was anything to learn.
In reply to Al Evans: Plus how do you measure the length of a cricket pitch if it is not one chain (22 yds)?
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

Do I remember an old lady being interviewed on the telly... when asked how metrication had affected her, she replied that she hadn't metricated for years!

Out of interest, what is the grade of TPS in imperial units?
In reply to Coel Hellier:

About 5.8 I think
In reply to Al Evans: it's roughly 20m Al ;-)
In reply to TobyA: I've been reading a book recently about Victorian engineers and in the chapter about George and Robert Stevenson it explains how they arrived at the standard railway gauge of 4' 81/2" by measuring the distance between the wheels of a given number of wagons and taking an average.

The majority of railways use standard guage.
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:
> (In reply to TobyA)
>
> Not that there was anything to learn.

Quite. You would have thought that doing things in base 10 would be fairly uncontroversial. We really are going backwards when kids (like mine) have to waste time retro-learning a pointlessly complicated system we promised to abolish decades ago.
In reply to Al Evans:
> (In reply to TobyA) I still think I am a populist for the imperial system, a lot of times it makes more sense than the metric system, like for instance in athletics.

Yes, like a 400m track, or a 10k road race - No hang on...

In reply to Carolyn:

2x4 timber is still 2"x4" in my experience.

Except that it is actually smaller once it reaches you the end user (the stated size is as cut and as it dries, it shrinks).
In reply to Dave Garnett:
> (In reply to Gordon Stainforth)
> [...]
>
>
> Quite. You would have thought that doing things in base 10 would be fairly uncontroversial. We really are going backwards when kids (like mine) have to waste time retro-learning a pointlessly complicated system we promised to abolish decades ago.

Well of course we'd been taught how to do decimals for years, so the transition was very, very easy.

In reply to Postmanpat:
> (In reply to TobyA)
> [...]
>
> A lot of my peer group don't seem know their weight in kilos. So the demand to be told in imperial measurements is still there.

But that will always be true unless we get on with it!
In reply to TobyA:
I started school in the early 60's, and it was all LSD, so when someone asks me to pay "12 SHILLINGS!" for a chocolate bar, I still get a anxious twinge before handing over my hard earned cash. (My kids think I'm some kind crazed miserly nutter when I moan out loud at shop assistants about their prices (in old money conversions, which come into my head in an instant)
Not that they are kids now, one is nearly 30-Jings how time flies!

Anyway, just before we all went to secondary school they threw a pile of wooden rods at us and told us to learn this 'new fangled decimal system'.

But you never lose that rough estimation of money or distance that you learned as a lad.
In reply to MJ:
> (In reply to Carolyn)
>
> 2x4 timber is still 2"x4" in my experience.
>
> Except that it is actually smaller once it reaches you the end user (the stated size is as cut and as it dries, it shrinks).

I thought the 4"x2" was the nominal size before planing.

In reply to TobyA:
> (In reply to mkean)
>
> [...]
>
> I was told by an old climbing friend who used to be a submariner that on the trident subs the engineers need two sets of spanners because the front and back of the boats - the "British bits" are metric bolts, but the section around the reactor, the "American bit" is all bolted together with imperial bolts. I don't know if this is true, but hope it is some how!

Ah, but is the imperial bit in BSG or Whit? Or some American bastardisation of neither?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Standard_Pipe

Sxx
In reply to Dave Garnett:
> (In reply to Gordon Stainforth)
> [...]
>
>
> Quite. You would have thought that doing things in base 10 would be fairly uncontroversial. We really are going backwards when kids (like mine) have to waste time retro-learning a pointlessly complicated system we promised to abolish decades ago.

I wouldn't think of it as a waste of time but a useful bit of info for them considering that imperial measures are often quoted in literature etc- so it is good for them to be able to put it into context. And of course over the pond they are still using imperial (but beware! some of their measurements are not equivalent to ours- eg fluid ounces). Rather than dismiss and resist, embrace!

Sx

In reply to TobyA: in the uk we have "standardised" temerature by using metric to measure how cold (-5) and imperial to measure how hot (in the 80s) you may find this trend with other measurements. Can you think of any other examples?
In reply to MJ:

2" x 4" is rough sawn and is the dimension stated. 2x4 pse (planed squared edge) is rough sawn 2x4 planed down so is typically a couple of mm less in both dimensions.

You'd use rough sawn 2x4 for things like internal stud walls. 2x4pse for anything that would end up being exposed.

ALC
In reply to Sarah G:

I don't mind them knowing some quaint old units as folklore. I do resent the completely unnecessary dual system back into which they are gradually lapsing, which means they will still one day be part of that rump of people cited as the excuse why we can't complete the process of conversion.
In reply to a lakeland climber:

Yes, it's come back to me. Wrot and unwrot timber = planed or unplaned.
In reply to MJ:

> Except that it is actually smaller once it reaches you the end user (the stated size is as cut and as it dries, it shrinks).

That's what wikipedia suggests - I think it said at US 2x4 is 1 3/4 x 3 3/4 inches or something like that.
In reply to mypyrex:

> The majority of railways use standard guage.

The majority where? There are plenty of different railway gauges. You can't take a train from Finland into Sweden for instance, but you can take one from Helsinki to Moscow, and at least theoretically to the Chinese border, where the gauge changes again.
In reply to jon:
> (In reply to MJ)
> [...]
>
> I thought the 4"x2" was the nominal size before planing.

It was common in construction in the UK - in the days when we used imperial timber sizes - to give the larger dimension first. 4" x 2" is a British timber size, whereas our ex colonial cousins from the other side of the pond call it a 2" x 4".

It is not politically correct to call someone a 4" x 2", however you can still tell someone that they're as thick as two short planks!
In reply to TobyA:
750ml of wine is fine, but it's difficult to beat a pint of ale...
In reply to mypyrex:
> (In reply to TobyA) Those who were only taught metric are missing so much: thou, inch, foot yard, chain, furlong, mile, league; perch, rood, acre; gill, pint, quart, gallon etc.
>
> It's part of the beauty of being British.

What using an antiquated system the majority of the rest of the world has now long since gotten rid of as it makes no LOGICAL sense to use it.
In reply to mkean:
> (In reply to mypyrex)
> It's part of the beauty of being British.
>
> Being permenently confused and a couple of thou out whenever you try to make an interference fitted part?

Easy,work down to tenths. Bloody microns!

In reply to Liam M:
> (In reply to Al Evans)
> [...]
>
> Yes, like a 400m track, or a 10k road race - No hang on...

Ah exactly! Thats because its 440 yds that it's based on , or a quarter of a mile, so a half mile is two laps and a mile is four laps, the metric system f****d it up. We used to have 5 mile and 10 and 20 mile races, only the Marathon buggered up the imperial distances. All was well until metric came along and the illogicallity of it forced such stupid compromises!
In reply to mypyrex:
> (In reply to TobyA) I've been reading a book recently about Victorian engineers and in the chapter about George and Robert Stevenson it explains how they arrived at the standard railway gauge of 4' 81/2" by measuring the distance between the wheels of a given number of wagons and taking an average.
>
> The majority of railways use standard guage.

I seem to remember that gauge was the same as had been used for carts since Roman times.

Shame we didn't adopt Brunels wide gauge instead
In reply to Al Evans:

> Ah exactly! That's because its 440 yds that it's based on , or a quarter of a mile, so a half mile is two laps and a mile is four laps, the metric system f****d it up. We used to have 5 mile and 10 and 20 mile races, only the Marathon buggered up the imperial distances. All was well until metric came along and the illogicality of it forced such stupid compromises!

The ILLOGICALITY OF IT? You know you're sounding like a crazy old person. Please tell us what the stupid compromises, as you see them, are in modern track and field athletics?

There are lots of standards and sizes in modern life that are based around the original metric standards. Classic examples are timber (as mentioned above) or pipe sizes. Just cause the old standards have been converted to metric doesn't mean imperial is a better system. It just means the sizes that were decided upon to become standards back when such things were in their comparative infancy are good because they happen to be the optimum dimensions for their selected use. For instance rafters are still kept at 300mm centres cause it's the functional optimum spacing with modern timber sizes not cause imperial is better.
In reply to TobyA:

Did nothing but imperial for a good part of education, but I remember centigrade weather from that time as well, nt fahrenheit. Of course BBC used metres for wavelength, as many as 1500 which must have cost them a bit in aerial wire. Foolscap paper! A4 came in about 1970 or 71 at our school.

We seemed to have learned imperial for maths and switched to metric for science and of course a 5d Maars Bar became 2p on D-Day, and a quarter of sherbet lemons were 5p

Yes Base 10 is much easier, far better than all those other artificial bases like base 1010 that we seem to bave been taught!

Clansman radios made until well into the 80s had M/I on the panel to warn that metric and imperial threads were used.

In reply to TobyA:

I was brought up entirely with imperial and with the old £sd money system. We were taught metric at school as well as imperial, but it wasn't used in everyday life.

I still think of measurements and weight in imperial, particularly when asked to give my height and weight, and have to convert back from metric to understand it.

I found it difficult to adjust when we dropped £sd and it was a long time before I could relate to the values of things in metric. For example I knew exactly how much chocolate I could get for 6d or how much fuel 10/- would buy, when I first started to drive, which was more than a gallon!
In reply to Jim C:
I tend to do the same. Four bob just to take a piss...
In reply to wercat:

Started school in 1979 and only ever learned metric but had to have a good awareness of imperial of course.

I'm good with KMs as I live in France now and run and cycle a lot. I think of my weight in Kilos but intermix with my height.

Temperature has always been Celsius for as long as I remember. I remember looking incredulously at an American in Colorado as we road the chairlift trying to explain the system and he thought it odd that freezing = 0.

What I don't get is why oh why do educated, young people still give out the weight of their baby in pounds and ounces? We're talking about people who have only ever learned metric.
In reply to TobyA:

i was 11 when we went decimal so i do both quite well but...

never got fahrenheit even had to look up the spelling

and i hate the idea of measuring in mm, it's stupid,i can visualise 18" but 450mm i have to convert it first to inches
In reply to TobyA:

I guess a lot of Britons do still think in imperial units.

I grew up with the stupid mix of mostly metric/SI taught today but over the years it's proven useful to develop a passable understanding of imperial units (I draw the line at pre-decimal currency). It's not uncommon to find a conversation stalled at "...so what's that in lbs?" for example and you realise you're the only one willing or able to do the conversion.

jk
In reply to TobyA: we're a similar age..

I'm metric.. but run in miles.. walk in k's..

fahrenheit I have no idea about.. I know 32 = cold.. 80 = hot.. but 65 etc.. 50.. always need to convert.. in the states you only hear F not C..

In the UK I think we have both..

Re weights I can use them all but as a scientist we only work in metrics really..

i think we'll keep miles but slowly phase out the weights.. lb's etc.. but just slowly.. no need for the forced changes which happened a few years ago..

What I struggle with is differences in imperial.. so US V UK.. just why?

In reply to yorkshireman:
> What I don't get is why oh why do educated, young people still give out the weight of their baby in pounds and ounces? We're talking about people who have only ever learned metric.

Because the people who are most interested in baby weights, e.g. grandparents are likely to be more comfortable with imperial measurements, especially in terms of baby size?

In reply to TobyA:
> (In reply to mypyrex)
>
> [...]
>
> The majority where?

Apparently 60%. Wikipedia lists them:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_gauge#Installations
I understand that the adoption of the standard gauge was due, as much as anything, to the fact that much of the railway building of 19th century was done by the British. Apparently they even builr the French railways although I doubt that the French would acknowledge that.
In reply to jon:
Same for us, the ster is 1m³ stacked firewood (raummeter), not loose (shüttraummeter) or festraummeter (sawn timber). There´s another unit, the klafter which is a pile of stacked wood an armspan wide x high x 1m long (3 to 4ster). Not used so much these days as the more normal unit is the forage trailer load or 10m³.
In reply to ebygomm:
> (In reply to yorkshireman)
> [...]
>
> Because the people who are most interested in baby weights, e.g. grandparents are likely to be more comfortable with imperial measurements, especially in terms of baby size?

Fair point but when does it end? We're at the stage now where the grandparents of newborn babies are likely to have been taught, and are comfortable working in metric.

This kind of parallel system is likely to persist until we take the complete plunge just like the Aussies did.

Another thing is planes - we're always told we're flying at 30,000 feet although we're all happy to call Everest 8,800m (or whatever it is).
In reply to TobyA:

We never touched metric in Infants (1965 - 1967) and Primary school (1967 to 1971) - it was all imperial - but we did some practice to get ready for decimal day - "use your old pennies in sixpenny lots".

In Grammer school, we were introduced to metric and over the next 7 years it became more commonplace, although there was considerable whining on the news about people not wanting to lose pint's, dozens, feet, yards etc, I suppose the whining worked because we still have pints, dozens etc.

It's also fair to point out that whilst metric made sums easier, it also loses some natural flair - I like the idea that an inch is from your thumb knuckle to the tip of the thumb, that a yard was from the tip of Henry 1sts nose to his thumb - but there again I like history - it reminds me of my childhood ;-)
In reply to PeterM:
> (In reply to TobyA)
>
> SI all the way..

Quite, I'm thinking it's about 287K today and spring-like today.
In reply to Frank4short:
> (In reply to Al Evans)
>
> [...]
>
> The ILLOGICALITY OF IT? You know you're sounding like a crazy old person. Please tell us what the stupid compromises, as you see them, are in modern track and field athletics?
>
> There are lots of standards and sizes in modern life that are based around the original metric standards. Classic examples are timber (as mentioned above) or pipe sizes. Just cause the old standards have been converted to metric doesn't mean imperial is a better system. It just means the sizes that were decided upon to become standards back when such things were in their comparative infancy are good because they happen to be the optimum dimensions for their selected use. For instance rafters are still kept at 300mm centres cause it's the functional optimum spacing with modern timber sizes not cause imperial is better.

I'm sorry I don't understand your point?
In reply to TobyA:
Like many folk I do both and interchange quite happily. My teenage sons are fairly relaxed as well although obviously they only teach metric at school.

In haircuts for some reason I always need one or two inches off, never centimetres (I do have long hair) and the crucial hold is often 4" or 6" out of reach.....

As for babies..well the hospital try to insist on kg but its not like buying a lump of beef is it? Everyone knows that a 10lb baby is a whopper but no one has a clue about kg!
In reply to Babika:
> Everyone knows that a 10lb baby is a whopper but no one has a clue about kg!

I do, 3.5 is kinda average, above that is getting big. Both mine were about that, but we're a very average family!
In reply to TobyA:
Ah but that just goes to prove my point.....you might know what is average, or what your own babies weigh in Kg but you don't know what a whopper is because no one ever talks about it in common parlance!
In reply to PeterM:
> (In reply to TobyA)
>
> SI all the way..fahrenheit in particular is shite.

So you'd prefer kelvins in the weather forecasts then? People forget that most imperial units are natural units and so easy to relate too. I'm happy using both and regularly do, it's not hard after all.
In reply to Babika:

I'm sure the fact that Toby knows the weight in kg has something to do with the fact he lives in Finland.
In reply to ebygomm:
Yes I had spotted that fact...... ;)
In reply to TobyA: part of maths exams at key stage 2/3 these days is converting from one to the other. I think most people my generation will know their height in feet, weight in stone, use miles as a distance, but then will instantly adopt metric for anything technical- like building a climbing wall. It's a ridiculous state of affairs, but quite quaint.
In reply to Franco Cookson: O, and no one sub 30 knows how Fahrenheit works.
In reply to TobyA:

All those hours wasted doing fractions in the 80's - I'll never get them back.

E
In reply to TobyA: I learned both when i was at school and now work as a picture framer and what amazes me is the amount of customers (even 20 to 30 year olds) still give me measurements in feet and inches. I even have one customer that has picture mounts cut and will give me the external size in imperial and the aperture size in metric or vice versa! I still price jobs up in feet and inches as that is what i've always done and all my machinery is american and marked out in imperial so i have to convert between the two all the time.
In reply to TobyA: I quite like Imperial. I mean, I'm 6'3" not 190cm odd. 120 kilos just makes me seem overweight ;-) 100kph just doesn't cut the mustard does it, and what would we do without the 18 yard box ?? How many of you Metric lovers ask for 568.261485 Mls of crappy tasting lager pi*s in your local. Me ?? I ask for a Imperial PINT and fill it with fine tasting British Ale too.

Rule Britannia!!
In reply to Enty:
> (In reply to TobyA)
>
> All those hours wasted doing fractions (...) I'll never get them back.
>
> E

If I could just get a quarter of them back, I'd be happy.
In reply to jon:

You mean 25% ?

E
In reply to Enty:

Yep! 1/4. See, it wasn't wasted after all!
In reply to arch:
How many of you Metric lovers ask for 568.261485 Mls of crappy tasting lager pi*s in your local. Me ?? I ask for a Imperial PINT and fill it with fine tasting British Ale too.
>

The Germans don't seem to have any problem brewing fine beer metrically.
In reply to TobyA:

I think it's quite useful to know both Metric and Imperial, so you can apply whichever seems best to a particular situation. Being 6ft tall seems more sensible than 183cm, but doing navigational maths (or any maths, really) is easier in base 10.
I went to school in the 80s.....got taught both and remember neither!!
In reply to TobyA: The night they changed from LSD to the NEW, I was in a bar, it was hard to begin with, but by the end of the night after a few (4) pintsI had no idea what I was given and if I had the right change, must admit it is better now.

£17.12.6 how much?

my problem is weight, cant imagine it in my mind what is 130 kg is...........

In reply to Beat me to it!:
You can't compare fahrenheit and kelvin, you compare rankin to kelvin.
In a deeply traditional (just got rid of slates) village school prior to 1967. After that, they were a mystery to me. Except pints of course.

If the National Grid used miles, I would use miles.
In reply to woolsack:

Some trivia points:

The railway gauge is the indeed the same as the width of a Roman chariot, which was based on the width of the hindquarters of two standard Roman horses.

In the US, it is quite difficult to buy some metric sizes, because practically everything is made in Imperial and Imperial rules. Problem is that everything imported from the Far East or Germany (which covers an large proportion of technological gadgets) is in metric. So anything that is made outside America that has American accessories added ends up having both metric and imperial screws. This is particularly annoying with Allen keys, because one can not distinguish the sizes by eye.

Worse still, the American Imperial units are not necessarily the same as British Imperial: most notably the British and American gallons are different. (The US gallon is 5/6ths of a British Gallon).

The standard conditions under which the American barrel of oil is measured differ from state to state.

The American 2 X 4 is never 2" x 4", in my experience, whether used where visible or not. The "2 X 4"s that I bought to repair part of my garage are actually 1 1/2" X 3 5/8", which seems a much larger difference than can be explained by planing versus non-planing; more like simple short-changing.

Many American houses use almost nothing else but so-called "2 X 4"s in their structure (for cheapness). When thicker beams are required, "2 x 4"s are just nailed together in multiples!

On top of all of this, the US dollar is shrinking!
In reply to John Stainforth:
> (In reply to woolsack)
>
>
>
> Worse still, the American Imperial units are not necessarily the same as British Imperial: most notably the British and American gallons are different. (The US gallon is 5/6ths of a British Gallon).

Didn't they used to be the same? I think I read somewhere that they both used to be 16floz, but the British one then increased to 20floz for some reason
In reply to John Stainforth:

The American Calorie is self evidently not the same as the British one
In reply to TobyA:
> (In reply to mypyrex)
>
> [...]
>
> The majority where? There are plenty of different railway gauges. You can't take a train from Finland into Sweden for instance, but you can take one from Helsinki to Moscow, and at least theoretically to the Chinese border, where the gauge changes again.

Finland and Sweden don't have a railway across the frontier, you need a boat or skis.
In reply to TobyA:
> (In reply to john arran)
> [...]
>
> although I believe that's just a proportion, it's not 2 inches by 4 inches.

No it's 2 inches by 4 inches. And it's normally 2.4m (8ft) or 3.6m (12ft) lengths. Tho you do get 3m for some stuff as well.

Anyway, to the OP, yeah it drives me nuts as well. I've been doing a lot of DIY stuff recently and it's a horrible mishmash of measurements, again, as stated, asking for 2.4m of 2x4. 5k and 10k for running, but measuring speed in 8 minute miles or whatever. Most tools still have metric and imperial. MPG but paying in Litres. Most thing measured in cm, apart from height. Ditto weight. It really winds me up. Either we do it properly or we stick with imperial. Not this horrible half arsed mess that we've got now.

In reply to TobyA:
> (In reply to mypyrex)
>
> [...]
>
> The majority where? There are plenty of different railway gauges. You can't take a train from Finland into Sweden for instance, but you can take one from Helsinki to Moscow, and at least theoretically to the Chinese border, where the gauge changes again.

Or North Korea:

http://vienna-pyongyang.blogspot.co.uk/

It's a really interesting blog.

In reply to TobyA:

I work a school workshop as a technician, the kids still talk about feet and inches when measuring. I used metric at school and I'm 56!

Where do they get it from, it's a mystery.
In reply to hedgepig:

> Finland and Sweden don't have a railway across the frontier, you need a boat or skis*.

I'm not sure if you learnt metric or imperial at school, but it seems you didn't learn too much geography!

*BTW, I've not heard of anyone skiing across the sea in modern times, some friends skied from the Åland Islands back to mainland Finland about 10 years ago and some winters they have roads out on the ice at least some of the way to Åland. But on westward from Åland the sea is more open plus there are relatively busy shipping lanes that would make going all the way over to Sweden tricky.

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