Saturday, August 12, 2006

Something Happened Last Night

Every year about this time, my mother-in-law would say, “Something happened last night,” meaning that the weather overnight had changed from summer to autumn. We would nearly always be visiting her in the middle of August. Summer school would be over, the boys’ baseball or later their jobs would be finished.

Last night something happened. Up at Slow Loris they had a fire in the wood stove. This morning here in town the outside thermometer read 7 degrees Celsius, 44 Fahrenheit.

When Canada changed to the metric system, we found it difficult to get a handle on Celsius. Eventually we discovered that we used Celsius for the winter and Fahrenheit for the summer. Bill says that is because zero, rather than 32, is a rational base for understanding freezing, whereas Celsius doesn’t have the fine gradations needed to understand hot weather. The car we bought 2 years ago has a thermometer in it. I printed out a chart comparing the two systems. I will say, “It’s 22 out.” Bill will say, “What’s that in Fahrenheit”, and I will get the chart out of the glove compartment.

When I was young, my father measured the distance from our house to Gilson’s store, exactly a mile. I walked it often and so knew in my bones what a mile was. The post office was halfway there so I knew what a half mile was. I will never know what a kilometer is.

4 comments:

zhoen said...

I keep trying. It really isn't easy. The degrees should be doubled, but otherwise unchanged, I think that would help.

Had an uncle who was an architectural draftsman, trained in the 40's, who had an irrational hatred of the whole metric system. It's probably best that he died before it became the Canadian standard.

Dr Satori said...
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Dr Satori said...

A mile at twenty is equal to the sensation of a kilometre at seventy. Unless there's a park bench awaiting you near the finish line. Then they're almost equal. I'm not certain if that needs to be measured at sea-level. But a bench at sea-level at seventy is just as lovely a place to watch a sunset as a sunrise is at twenty.

Miriam Jones said...

Temperature conversion: double it and add thirty.