Thursday 29 October 2015

Working in Montréal today --How to convert Barleycorns to Gunther's Chains

Good morning folks,

I will be working in Montréal today.

I haven't travelled in the last two weeks, maybe three, so am a bit out of practice in the Pulp department.

I was driving to the airport this morning and it is fairly typical for me to rely on Waze to give me the heads up on the best route to drive from home to airport -it's always straight down Eglington to Renforth and then up Silver Dart Drive, but I use Waze just in case some morning an A320 incorrectly lands on Eglington Ave and blocks all traffic.

Scratch that, there is likely no way to correctly land an A320 on Eglington Ave.

Waze is a Smart Phone app that utilizes the location and direction and driving velocity of its users to assist all other users in picking the best route from point A to B.  But this is not a Pulp extolling the virtues of Waze.  Just go get it, 'nough said.

No, an A320 did not land on Eglington Ave this morning.  The drive was fairly non eventful.  But Waze did direct me to an alternate route actually heading south for a bit before resuming a general North-East heading using the highway.  I am generally unaware what it was navigating me around although to satisfy my own curiosity I did check the arrival boards at the air, and none said gate: Eglington Ave.

I will mention is that after installing Waze, I left it set to Imperial measure, did not change it to Metric.  So I get instructions like "proceed for 1.1 miles and then turn left".

This got me thinking this morning..  Canada is a Metric measure country, as is just about every country on the planet other than Burma, Liberia and the Good Ol' USA.  But we didn't finish the job.  In 1970 when I was in grade school, then PM Pierre Trudeau passed legislation to convert us to Metric.  10 years later, when US pres Ronny 'Ray Gunz' Reagan reaffirmed that the US would stay Imperial, then PM Brian 'Irish Eyes' Mulroney halted the Canadian effort.  Actually that is not quite right, since it was already a law to convert to Metric, Reagan simply cut all funding to the process as did Mulroney. So technically the US and Canada are still in the process of converting, there is simply no progress. 

As I mentioned, I was in grade school when Canada changed from Imperial to Metric and I must say it was with huge relief.  With Metric one must only remember a few things.. for all practical purposes micro (1/1,000,000), milli, centi, deci, 1, deka, hecto, kilo, mega (1,000,000) and then a few base measure systems that are interrelated using water, meter, litre, gram and one heat scale based on water state changes.  Simple.  Whereas with the Imperial in order to successfully drive a car one must consider how many Sheep Heads of fuel are consumed per Furlong of travel and what time of year you need to convert from Sheep Heads to Rusty Gates squared.

A brief guide to distance in America. There are 4 Poppyseeds in a Barleycorn.  3 Barleycorns in an Inch.  12 Inches in a Foot.  5280 feet in Mile except at sea where there is 6080 feet in a Mile and of course 3 nautical miles in a League. So if you were keeping track, there are 760,320 Poppyseeds per Mile. On land.

You can divide a Land Mile into 8 Furlongs or 80 Gunter's Chains or 880 Fathoms or 8.8 Cables or .88 Nautical Miles but if you ask me how many Roman miles in a Land Mile I get confused as I would need to first reduce the Land Mile to 5280 Feet then multiply by 2 to Shaftments then divide by 5 to Paces then 2 to Grade Steps then by 4 to Ropes then by 5 to Ramsden's Chains then by 50 to reach a Roman Mile..

HEY!! That's it: 1 x 5280 x 2 / 5 / 2 / 4 / 5 / 50 = 1.056 Roman Miles in a Land Mile.

Folks, you are one of a very select set of people on this planet that know this number and how it's calculated :)

Wait a second Uncle Daniel, I read Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, how could Captain Nemo take the Nautilus what you say would be 60,000 miles deep, the earth is only 6,400 kilometers to the center so .. what .. 3,900 miles to the centre of the core?  And the deepest part of the Pacific at the Mariana Trench is only 1,580 miles deep.

Yeah.. It wasn't 20,000 leagues deep under the sea.  They travelled 60,000 miles or about 2 and a half times around the earth while in a submarine.. under the sea.  

Now since Canada didn't finish the job of converting, but did get a lot further than the U.S., there some items we continue to measure in Imperial.

This is not a definitive list, but here goes.  Almost anything to do with the human body.  Height, weight waist, inseam, shoe size, bra size but not watchband size.  Pool temp stayed in F. but strangely not air temp in the same sentence.  It was only 19 outside but we cranked the pool to 88!  Spirits outside of the bottle but not inside.  I poured an ounce of Scotch into a glass from a 750 ml bottle.

Most building materials.  All structural lumber, plywood width and length but not thickness, fence boards, doors, drywall sheets, copper and plastic plumbing pipes, even toilet flange placement (12" to the flange centre from the finished wall).  Window width, but oddly not the glass thickness, that's in mm if I recall.

Car tires are a wacky mixture.  The inside diameter is in inches, the tread width in mm, the pressure in kilopascal and the sidewall height in a percentage of the tread width.  Inflate that 17x60R235 to 220.  Oh yes, the R is for Radial.

I think everything you put in the oven is now in Metric, except the oven temp is still in F, whereas the refrigerator makers just gave up and gave us a setting from 1 to 10.  Oh, almost forgot TV and computers computer screens are in inches diagonal, and harddisk form factors in inches wide.

Perhaps Justin can put some effort into finishing off one of his father's legacies while he is restoring the Constitution, another one of his father's legacies.

Have a great day!


  1. How many broomsticks in a walabee?

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