August 31, 2010

Stubborn America

I had several doctor's appointments last week, one with a German specialist.  It was interesting, to say the least.  We also made a visit to the hospital emergency room for the youngest over the weekend.  Nothing serious, but a high fever and bronchitis.  Since there are no after hours walk-in clinics here, the locals use the local hospital emergency room as such. Always a pediatrician on call, the folks are sent straight up to the kids' floor where they use one room as an exam room. 

My frustration surfaced when, in these various visits, I filled out the paperwork.  The metric system once again bit me in the hiney.  I had to tell the nurses at both my visits with the vascular surgeon and the hospital for my girl, that I had no idea how tall we were or how much we weighed, in kilograms or centimeters.  How do you convince someone you're really not an idiot?  I suppose, if I was a forward thinking mama, that I would have printed out all that info on all of us, along with our German clothes and shoe sizes, and kept it in my purse. But alas, I can't even keep up with their American sizes!!!!

I honestly don't know why the U.S. doesn't just make the leap and convert to metric.  Once and for all.  Yes, it would be a pain initially, but just like cable TV, the Internet, and cell phones, we would adapt. (On a personal note, I don't think my brain had been exercised so much, since possibly college, as it was the first few weeks we were over here......And, it did NOT explode!)  Most industries are ahead of us, especially the ones that compete globally.  All food packaging and anything with a weight or volume on it is already there.  What's our hold up?  In the interest of NOT wanting to sound like some current politicians in thinking that America must be like the rest of the world and suck up to ANY other country, all I'm saying here is that the metric system is actually EASIER, is........!!!

Did you know that inches, feet and yards began as a measurement of the body?  The system was later standardized by King Henry I a thousand years ago with his own body measurements.  Reminds me of cubits  in the Bible.  In Ancient Rome, one foot was divided into 12 thumb widths, or uncia, the Latin word for inch. The metric system was the first unit of measure not based on the body.  It is a system based on the meter, which was invented 200 years ago in France of all places.  They divided the distance between the North Pole and the Equator, through Paris of course, by 10 million.

I think about how much simpler our lives would have been when we got here, if we weren't always converting...........something.  It was is difficult enough with electricity, money and of course the language problem. We already have kilometers (in addition to miles) on the dashboard (already printed there mind you - ready to be used).  But here Centigrade instead of Fahrenheit is used for temperature and weather, and the length and weight is always in meters, grams, etc.  The funny part is, we already teach our kids all this.  Yeah, we teach them extensively, then, when they're grown, they don't have to use it.  Except maybe if they go into a scientific field.  Even then, chances are they won't weigh their kids in kilograms.

Wasn't it last year that all TVs in the U.S. had to be switched over to digital?  Seems like they began a campaign about a year out with commercials, explaining what was to happen and giving the deadline date. Older TVs, the only ones affected, would need a converter box.  It worked out OK, right?  Granted, I haven't been in the U.S. for a year, so I probably wouldn't have heard about a backlash, if there was one.

I'm thinking a ton (or should I say nearly a 1000 kilograms) of jobs could be created here, in our unemployment ravaged society.  For starters, all the highway mileage markers and signs would have to be recalculated and replaced. Wow, that's a lot of jobs..... Instruments of measure would be next.  Even measuring cups and spoons (yes they use metric ones over here too) would need to be manufactured and marketed, not to mention cookbooks.  And think about the tools!

 This idea could save the economy!!!!!

I'm telling ya', the change is inevitable!  Come on America, let's take the leap!

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