2.15.2008

'Soft metric' kind of gal

Why,why why? Why didn’t I pay more attention in science class? Remember the inevitable chapter on metric converstions? Turns out, it’s actually important and something needed outside a 10th grade Chemistry lab!

Of course, I wouldn’t have known because I come from a ‘soft metric country.’ I'm not sure what this means, but I’m pretty indignant about it. I imagine mothers all over Europe are telling their children, “How dare you leave an unanswered metric problem on your homework. Think of the deprived American students, who don't understand conversion calculations.”

Seriously, do you know the United States stands with only two countries, Liberia and Mayanmar, in not having officially adopted metric? Great company, I’d say.

Even the Brits left their own English measurements in favor of metrics. Americans may claim that "a pint is a pound the world around," but I’ve got news for you people. Feet, yards, inches and pounds—the rest of the world is laughing at us.

“D, this post is far from your good-natured (albeit idle) chatter. What’s caused this tizzy?” you ask.

Folks, I can deal with being unable to accurately judge distances because everything is in kilometers. It’s no big deal, really. As the type who is always late, I don’t consider this a problem, rather a convenient excuse for my tardiness. And although I can never gauge how warm or cold it’s going to be here in Germany because I don’t grasp Celsius, it’s easy enough to layer my clothes so as to always be prepared and comfortable.

But riddle me this: How I am suppose to whip up a fabulous dinner for ten tonight when the recipe calls for crazy letters like g and ml, and my measuring tools are in tbsp and oz. I might as well be in Oz because I feel like Dorothy without her ruby slippers. And you can bet your bottom Euro that here in Deutschland, the yellow brick road was built in meters instead of yards.

23 comments:

Danie said...

Oh boy! I can relate.

Growing up with the metric system in Canada, I was so confused when I moved to the US and people said things like...drive 1/7th of a mile heading east. Wha? How much is 1/7th of a mile? And my car was in KM to boot.

I know what you'll be doing tomorrow. Shopping for metric measuring cups and spoons?

Lynda said...

I have the same problem, but from the other direction - I like to pinch recipes off fabulous cooking blogs, but so many of them are from the US, this can be a pain. I use this to convert:
http://www.onlineconversion.com/cooking_volume.htm

Good luck - so what are you cooking?

G in Berlin said...

So you have a conversion calculator up above (which is what I use all the time, and also- any department store (or Ikea) can sell you a scale, which you should pick up for cooking. For the temperature, I can help: multiply C by 2 and add 32 and you have a fair approximation of F. Although the rule gets more inaccurate the firther you go from 0C, as it real conversion is 9/5. Also, 16=61, so that's always a reality checkpoint. Distance: 100 km=62 m or so, from staring at my spedometer for years.

Diane Mandy said...

danie- when you put it that way, 1/7 mile does seem pretty silly

lynda- PASTITSO a greek pasta and *maybe* Running 42k's Chicken Marsala if I can find the Marsala here in Germany.

Diane Mandy said...

g - I think I am heading to IKEA if I can wrangle the car from Max. I definately need so metric measuring spoons. I'm being converted.

G in Berlin said...

Although after I bought the scale from Ikea, I was saddened because Wertheim has such pretty scales and the Ikea one is so blah...

Andrea said...

I hear ya! Two years in and I still don't get it. I really need to buy some 'correct' measuring tools and a british cookbook. Thankfully my computer has a conversion tool on the desktop and I have a C vr F chart in the kitchen for cooking. Yep, I cheat.

running42k said...

diane, if you had done more cocaine in your past at least you would know how to measure in kilos.

I make my own masala. It is just adding spices like cardommon, cumin, cloves, pepper and then roasting and grinding.

Claire said...

allrecipes.com has a great conversion chart under the reference section. Dude, I have been here over 4 years and I STILL have to check. However, most of my recipes are from the US so I just bought a bunch of measuring stuff from the US and shipped it over.

Bluepaintred said...

Heh! definitely bookmark a conversion site!

brookem said...

Yikes! I'd be out of control. Good luck to you with the dinner tonight- let us know how it turns out! (Or was it last night?)

AmyD said...

Ugh!! They have GOT to have a conversion chart out there for us silly Americans, no? ;o) Good luck, lady!!

The Guv'ner said...

In school in the UK we learned everything 100% metric but in the real world everything was imperial apart from Litres of soda and small measurements in CMs. So the stuff we learned was useless in the real world. We didn't learn how to convert it either. Now they've gotten a bit more metric over there although everything is still in miles, beer is in pints etc. A lb of cheese still means more to me than whatever the hell grammes equivalent is. I know what a metre looks like and also a foot. Honestly though, just pick one system and stick to it. I still have no earthly idea what the hell it means when my sister says "It's 12 degrees C today!"even though Celsius is way more sensible a measurement than Fahrenheit in theory.

The Guv'ner is confused.

The Guv'ner said...

Also my passport says I am "5'6"/168 cms. I know what five six looks like but 168cms would baffle me!

Jennifer said...

I wish we'd converted to metrics back when they were threatening us with it in the 70s. Figuring by 10's is way easier than our crazy methodology. It's learning the language of it that's difficult, I think.

Why not look up a recipe online and see if you can find one in "normal" speak to use? Is there something very special about this metric-ized recipe? Do tell!

kenju said...

Go out and buy new measuring cups and utensils!

I wish I had paid attention to the metric system too. I'd be just as lost as you - except for 2 liter soda bottles.

Suvii said...

Thanks for checking in on me Diane! Life is ok.. things I think are slowly, but surely starting to return to some sort of normalcy. My job is still very busy, too busy in fact and I need to try to find a way to find a better work-life balance so that I am not working 60 hours a week every week and late into the night after AJ has gone to bed. I'm glad to see things are going well for you and max (despite Max working those long hours!)

meno said...

Makes me proud to be an American....NOT!

Ever since i was in engineering school i have wished we would go metric. So silly not to.

June said...

Hey go buy you some wonderful red stilettos!

That should help right?

Anonymous said...

There is no such thing as metric measuring spoons :-)

You need a scale, go all out and get a digital one, they aren't that much more expensive, and a measuring cup/jug.

The scale is used for things that are in weight (g = grams)

The cup/jug/jar is used for things that are in volume (ml = milliliter)

Actually buy 2 jugs, one that is at least a liter (approx. a quart) for larger measurements

and a smaller one that is maybe 250 ml (about a cup) for smaller measurements. Because it's hard to measure 50 ml in a 1-liter jug

:-)

patches said...

English to metric measuring is lot like taking a christmas carol in English, translating it into Mandarin Chinese, then translating it back into English...the frame of reference is there but so much gets lost in translation.

M said...

I'm with lynda - I see american recipes on the web and they're all in gobbledygoop! I have to get the online converter out. Having things in 10s makes much more sense I have no idea how you guys cope with all this pound/ounce stuff. Though...some things are made to be measured in inches. I'm just sayin!

Neal said...

I like this site: http://www.onlineconversion.com/