Date: Thu, 02 May 2002 19:09:21 -0400

Author: James Frysinger

Subject: Re: units of measurement


On Thursday, 2002 May 02 1625, you wrote:
> Sorry, I forgot that may of you are sheltered city dwellers. Out in the
> rural areas most counties use a grid system to label roads. The road at
> Zero is often called "Center" or "Meridian". The road at the edge of the
> county is called, "County Line", though it often has several designations.
> If I were giving you directions to my house I would tell you to come down
> highway 49 and turn west on highway 6. After about 1/2 mile you come to a
> stoplight at "Meridian." Go another two miles and you'll come to my road,
> "200 West." If you note the address of the house on the corner, you'll
> see that it's 714N. That tells you that my house is 1.48 miles north of
> the highway.

That's *one* of the land orgainization schemes used in the U.S.

> So the problem IS that when all odometers become metric, all the hard work
> that the county did to create the roads in a logical grid becomes useless.
> You odometer gives you precise information to find your way around the
> county. But if it reads in km, it's almost useless.

That's true!

> Also, my house is built with standard construction materials. The studs
> are set 16" on center. If it need to install a new vent, I can buy the
> materials that will fit in this space nicely. They are LABELED to show
> that their design conforms to this construction method. If you eliminate
> this labeling, it will be a LOT more trouble to do home repairs. This
> seems to be a problem that the Ausie and EU laws will create. Or should I
> move all the studs in my house to uniform metric intervals?

That would be kind of silly, don't you think? Here in Charleston, people are
often involved with rebuilding and remodeling fairly old houses. A previous
message mentioned 2 x 4s. I know of at least two changes in "standard" 2 x 4
sizes in my lifetime. There were many before that. Stud spacing is easy to
change in the design stage but obviously not in the rebuilding stage. So what
do you suppose those people do when today's 2 x 4s no longer match the
original? Burn the old place down?

Yes, there are going to be some rough times in the transition to metric.
What amazes me is that people don't seem to want to get it over with. It's
like asking the doctor to take his or her time sticking that needle in your
arm -- nice and slow now, please! Yes, there will be a very gradually
dwindling market of supplies for "old fashioned standard" parts. Just as you
can still find someone to sell you parts for a Model T today.

As I mentioned to someone on this list by private email, there's an
organization that deals with these issues. Look for "Construction Metrication
Program" under "Activities" at


James R. Frysinger University/College of Charleston
10 Captiva Row Dept. of Physics and Astronomy
Charleston, SC 29407 66 George Street
843.225.0805 Charleston, SC 29424
Cert. Adv. Metrication Specialist 843.953.7644