Can’t we all just get along?

Chocolates at WowPhilippines

Yes, those are the words that Rodney King is famous for.  Today, though, I am using those words in an expat context.  It’s not about living in the Philippines.  It’s not (so much) about being American.  What it is about is being an expat – a person who lives in a country other than where he was born and/or raised.

Did you realize that there are a lot of things that, while they should be the same, are different in different countries.

It’s true, and it really should not be.

Let’s have a look!

Metric v. English - It can be confusing at first

Metric v. English – It can be confusing at first

One that I’ve talked about a lot in the past is the metric system.  Of course, the USA is one of the few countries (only country?) that still uses the old English system – pounds, inches, feet and such.  Almost every other country on earth has switched long ago to the metric system – meters, kilos, grams, etc.  At first, as an American, it is difficult to adjust to using the metric system, although it is necessary, because that is what society around you uses.  But, it doesn’t take long – if you just go with it – to learn the system and feel comfortable with it.  I remember, when I was a kid in Elementary school, we were learning the Metric System.  I remember that the USA was going to switch over to the metric system, and it was very important for us kids to learn is so that we could be in harmony with the rest of the world around us.  Never happened.

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What date is it again?

What date is it again?

Another thing that countries are out of sync on is the way that we write dates.  Some countries put Month/Day/Year, as my home country of the United States does.  For example, this post is being published on September 20, 2010, or 9/20/2010.  Many countries, though, would say that is 20/9/2010.  Seeing dates written out that way is easy to figure out, if the day is higher than the 12th.  But, lets say that it September 6, 2010.  So, for Americans (and many others) it would be 9/6/2010.  For other countries it would be 6/9/2010.  Well, that could be June 9, 2010, or it could be September 6, 2010 – which is it?  Impossible to know!  On 20/9/2010 it has to be the 20th of September, because there are no months higher than 12, so that is easy.

Doesn’t it seem that here we are in the 21st Century, and we are using such archaic ways of doing things, that vary from country to country.  Can’t we have some kind of conference where we all get together and decide on some standards for the entire world.  When it comes to metric v. English measurement, that’s easy, the world has decided already and the USA is just dragging it’s feet.  On other issues it could go either way.

These are just a couple of examples that I gave, but believe me, there are others too, and if you are an expat (anywhere in the world) you will encounter them in your daily life.  Can’t we all just get along?

Post Author: MindanaoBob (940 Posts)

Bob Martin is the Publisher & Editor in Chief of the Live in the Philippines Web Magazine. Bob is an Internet Entrepreneur who is based in Davao. Bob is an American who has lived permanently in Mindanao since May 2000. Here in Mindanao, Bob has resided in General Santos City, and now in Davao City. Bob is the owner of this website and many others.

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  1. James Fox says


    Useful thoughts. If enough people start talking about it, maybe some progress at standardization might ensue!

    One of my pet peeves is the way changes in the stock market are noted by stating the numerical values of the changes in various market indexes. So, for example, hearing that “The DOW gained 106 points today, the NASDAQ 46,” might lead the uninitiated to conclude that DOW Industrial stocks improved more than twice as much as the Tech stocks of the NASDAQ. In reality, the opposite is true! Currently, the DOW is at 10,608, so a 106 “point” change is a 1% change. For the NASDAQ, 46 points is 2% of its current level of 2315. Wouldn’t it make more sense to make all quotations based on a small percentage change from the previous day, say, 1 “point” equals five 100ths of a PERCENT of change, no matter what market they are quoting? I often wonder if they prefer that most people don’t really understand what’s going on. :-(

    On date formats: As a person who programs computers, I find the safest and most convenient way to store dates is YYYY/MM/DD. This allows for simple sorting by date, and it also removes the month day ambiguity. This has been especially true since Y2K! (Remember?) :-)



    • says

      Hi James – I could not agree more on the Stock Market numbers…. giving the number of points of change is really irrelevant. It is the percentage of change that matters, and I have always sort of figured the percentage in my head when it is not given. In fact, sometimes they don’t even show the value of the market, just say it was up “5 points” or whatever, which really has no meaning at all.

      • hudson says

        I know what you mean Bob, It’s like you go to a fast food resturant, and they ask you what size drink do you want, small, medium or large? Well as it turns out S M L are different at each resturant. I always have to ask How many ounces in a medium? They are stumped to be sure lol

    • John in Austria says

      Hi James & Bob,

      I tend to use the YYYYMMDD format too as it is understandable in any land, as well as your reason for computer sorting.

  2. hudson says

    Hey Bob,
    I’m all for the metric system. Even when getting my Engineering degree, we learned everything in metric. The big problem is using both. Enough already using two sets of wrenches to work on your car. I would just like to see the switch and get on with it.

    As for dates, Today is: 19SEP2010. NO comma’s, No slashes, No dashes, No confusion.

    • says

      Yes, hudson – the US is really running behind the times when it comes to weights, measures and such. Metric is really the way to go. It is much easier than the English system, which is probably why everybody else in the world uses it!

      • says

        Hi Bob & Hudson – Reminds me of Navy days: 9SEP10. ;)

        Acronyms were expanded a bit, too. Examples: CinCPACFLT – Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet; or BuPers – Bureau of Naval Personnel.

        Back then, we had a hint as to what the alphabet soup was all about. Now, it’s turned into a source of enjoyment, creating a title for which its acronym spells out something cute.

        Always wondered a “what if”: Sam Houston Institute of Technology? :shock:

  3. Danny Thompson says

    If we measure speed, distance and weight in metric, what about time?
    100 seconds in a minute, 100 minutes in an hour, and on and on.
    Lets make everything the same.
    Joke lang, I guess.

    • says

      Hi Danny – Ha ha.. you have a point on time, I guess. But, the length of a second would have to be changed, or else the whole calendar will be upset, since time is figured around the rotation of the earth around the sun and such. I never thought about that, though.

      • Paul Thompson says

        When I first went to Europe in the 60′s, I noticed that they wrote time without AM/PM, as we did in the Navy 4 pm, = 1600 (or eight bells) We also wrote our dates with a Julian calendar so it could not be misinterpreted when sending message traffic.
        I keep two sets of tools, as I still find things that only a 9/16th scocket will fit.
        Rice 50 kilos-I don’t care how many pounds as long as it makes my wife smile.
        Booze helped me learn, a fifth = 750 ml. Quart = 1000 ml and the 1.75 = well a 1.75 ml, (or a quart plus a fifth in one bottle) so that proves that if you like something you’ll find a way to convert it. Like Danny Thompson converting time in the comment above. (lol) My brother is named Danny Thompson, I wonder?

        • John in Austria says

          Hi Paul & Bob,

          Over here in Europe there are things that are not unified with the rest of the world. Calendars start on Monday, not on Sunday. Daylight Savings Time and Winter time both start on a different weekend than they do in America. (yes, I know it doesn’t apply to the Philippines :-) )
          Another one that gets me is that Father’s Day and Mother’s Day are celebrated on a different weekend over here too. Oh well, we do have metric.

    • hudson says

      I think that would be hard to do since time is based on a circle which is divided into degrees, minutes, and seconds. Look at your calculator to see if it has DMS mode.
      60s= 1min, 60min=1deg, 360 deg=1 circle or 2pi

      • says

        Yeah, I think you are right on that hudson. As I think about it, it would be more than just changing the length of the second. There are lots of other relationships there too.

  4. Maynard says

    This is a good article i can relate to having worked in the fastener and hardware business in the U.S. Ive seen many changes in the last fifteen years there.The U.S. was infiltrated with foreign cars and machines at a fast growing rate.I had to sink or swim in learning the metric system from nuts and bolts to hydraulic hoses.The metric system is in the U.S. to stay like it or not.After i moved to the phills i got another wake up call in the buying of food and such especially using the conversion in my head while shopping to figure out the best deals then comparing prices to the united states now i think in the best interest of everyone the metric system should be learned by everyone…….Good day folks…

  5. chasdv says

    Hi Bob,
    Having spent part of my life in pounds,inches and feet etc,not to mention our old currency £sd,i still get confused sometimes Lol.Maybe coz i’m not an avid shopper and most things come in packets or containers here.However,i’m all for Global standardisation to make life simple.
    Dates,well the American way is still very alien to me and i have to think twice when filling in forms etc there.No doubt i will get use to it one day Lol.
    regards Chas.

  6. ian says

    Bob- your thinking is miles ahead of everyone elses –uh– make that 609.344 metres ahead !! lol
    I really put my foot into it that time! uh, sorry, I meant my 30.48 centimeters
    Gotta sign off now- traffic is finally starting to inch along- uh- 2.54 centimeter along that is

  7. Boss says

    Yep your spot on Sir Bob the metric system is the the way to go, it is easy as counting 1 to 10. As for the dating system, day, month, year is simple stuff.

    • says

      Hi Boss – I propose that we agree that the US should switch to the Metric system, and everybody else should adapt month-day-year (i.e. the right way of writing dates!). Can we shake on it? :lol:

  8. Mike says

    Canada is really no different, Bob. We switched to the metric system when I was about 12 years old, I think, just old enough that I can accurately estimate a foot(12″) but not 25cm. In ship building/repair, I might weld a seam with a 1/8″ welding rod, or 1.4mm wire. the plate may be 4mm thick, or 1/4″. I have metric & SAE sized; spanners, sockets, taps/dies, and nuts & bolts . I have conversion charts in my “favourites” and a pocket calculator which is only needed for conversion.

    I spent a couple of weeks working on a design for a 40 foot sloop, only to find that I was erroneously using my metric template & that my pretty 40 foot sloop is now 40mm, or 1.57 inches, long. Then, one must consider whether the displacement of the vessel is in tons, long tons, or tonnes. Is that 10 gallons of paint I need, or 10 imperial gallons? Is that outlet 220v or 240v? But, this machine requires 230v. My government uses year, month, day and I used to use day, month, year which really confused the people who used month, day, year.

    This topic reminds me of George Carlin & his routine on pricking your finger but never fingering your …. Meanwhile, Paul T. is estimating in cubits! ( not that one has anything to do with the other! lol)

    Well, no doubt, it is high-time that everyone was on the same page. But, in a world where we can’t even agree to drive on the same side of the road, will measurements ever become standardized? As much as I hate to abandon my much beloved fractions – as my fluency with fractions gives me a great feeling of superiority over the fractionally challenged(lol) – I know that I will have to accept a complete metric way of life when I return to the Philippines, though my design work for U.S. clients will have to remain in the antiquated method(SAE).

    On the bright side, I used to weigh 210 lbs., but now I’m down to 95 kilos!

    • says

      Hi Mike – Canada may have a few things that they are “caught in the middle” on, but you guys are way ahead of the USA when it comes to metric. George Carlin always had something up his sleeve… he’s a riot! Congrats, BTW, on the weight loss! I have lost in about the same proportion as you! :lol:

  9. says

    Were in good company

    The United States of America does not officially use or mandate a metric system of units, making it one of only three countries, along with Burma (Myanmar) and Liberia, that still use customary units.

  10. says

    Hi Bob – Just a point of observation. The English measurement system as you called it was actually the British Imperial System of measurement. In the USA some of the existing measurements predate the BSI system as that was the system used in Britain when the first settlers went to America hence the reason for the eventual differences that existed between the two systems such as US gallons and Imperial gallons or Long Tons and Short Tons although they both originated from Britain.
    As a young man serving my engineering apprenticeship life would have been much easier had we adopted the metric system from day one at least my tool box would have been considerably lighter. For those who may remember we had ANF/ANC/BSF/BSW/BA and Metric spanners and sockets in our box I can understand why the curse of all tools was invented the adjustable spanner or shifter as we called it.
    The irony is due to the methodology of teaching used when I was going through school and college and Britain now being mainly a metric country, I have never forgotten the old system of weights and measure and still to this day make comparisons when necessary, But I must confess the dating system used in the US and here in the Philippines stumps me at times.
    Best wishes.

      • says

        I never figured out the logic of the US dating system. As he of the pointy ears would say…”it’s illogical Captain”. Seems to make more sense to list the units by size…day, month, year…or, as the programmers prefer, YYYYMMDD, rather than a format with a lump in the middle.

        I’ve developed driving ambidextrousness though, when driving in different countries, but at first I used to get in my car then feel foolish when I went to poke in the key and looked across to find the steering wheel at the other side.

        Britain is confused about metric/vs imperial measurements. All garages sell petrol (not gas, coz it’s a liquid) in litres, but everyone I know has their trip computers set to show MPG, coz what on earth does 11 litres per 100km actually mean? Then we set off to the shops to buy a “pint” of milk and come back with a two litre carton. Or we buy half a pound of bacon and the butcher gives us 250 grams, coz it’s illegal for him to sell us half a pound. And if you tell someone you weigh twelve stones he thinks that’s about average, but if you weigh 76.2kg they might tell you to get yourself on a diet. As for you Bob, you’ll probably need to get out your calculator whichever way on that last one.

  11. AlexB says

    As you mentioned Canada is caught in the middle. Teaching students how to calculate food cost, we have to do a lot of conversions – how many grams of 1 cup of flour? or how many ml in one ounce of your favourite alcohol. It gets crazy when it gets to teaspoons, tablespoons, dry or liquid. At the grocery, they have lb and kg on labels and prices. It gets tricky.

    Ah, you’re still an expat? I thought you have residency status there? Would all the Filipino immigrants in the US who have green cards, be considered expats?


    • says

      Hi Alex – The definition of expat that I use (and is widely recognized) is a person who is living in a land other than where he was born or grew up. So, yes, I do consider myself an expat, although I do have residency status here.

      • AlexB says

        Hi Bob,

        I understand. Just wondering how people see themselves in the context of the Philippines. It’s sort of like your post, it’s a rhetorical question but what measure one uses? I really prefer the world goes metric, everything goes by 10 – no need to use a converter or calculator.


  12. Tim W says

    when people who live in the united states 100% why should they need to learn a different system, I for one plan on living in the philippines with my wife, learning the difference will be up to me, I don’t see why it is so hard to adjust, I have been in the philippines several times with my wife, and will learn those, but don’t say the united states is behind the times, its up to the indivudual who decides to move to another country that has different value’s or reasons for them to adjust, my wife adjusted to the american way very well but still holds her filipino ways too. as any expat will be in another country one must be able to adjust to that one’s country ways,

    • says

      Hi Tim – First, I’d like to say that I am not trying to pick on you with the comment that I will say… it is not specifically pointed at you as a person, only what you said.

      The attitude that you express, Tim, is, frankly, a big part of the reason why the US is now lagging economically. The US wants to export things to the rest of the world, but they don’t follow what the rest of the world wants or needs. For example, I remember a few years ago, Ford could not figure out why they were unable to sell cars in China and Japan. Well, it turned out that the cars they exported were left hand drive cars, the US standard. They didn’t take the time or effort to build the cars for the way they would be driving in China and Japan (on the opposite side of the road). You won’t make any money exporting yard sticks to the rest of the world, because everybody else uses meters.

      • Tim W says

        i understand your reasoning and yes i know i was being a little defensive, your right, but expats are not exporting anything but themselves, and we can in our own little ways make things better in the philippines, whicn i would hope that me and my wife can, thank you for responding to my opinion, I hope you do not construe what i said as that americans are always right, its the opposite these days, america is losing alot of the things she used to have, and i am not happy with the ways this country is doing things, my wife is from davao and i love the place, and her family, I am hoping to be able to do something that will make our family me and my wifes to live comfortable, do you know where the mandug village area is, that is where my wife is from. I would like to be able to meet with you the next time i can come home, I think of the philippines as my home. even though i do not live there yet.

        • says

          No problems, Tim. That’s why I pointed out that I was not attacking you, just commenting on your thoughts. We can be friends and disagree on things! I’m looking forward to meeting you in the Philippines when you are here! Mandug is not far from where I live!

    • Bob New York says

      We can no longer escape from the Metric System as so many things are now manufactured for us in other countries that are put together with Metric hardware and other parts. I don’t think any car has been totally manufactured in the USA for many years as certain parts and sub-assemblies are imported to go into the Final Assembly of a car here in the USA. electronics for the consumer marked have been made elsewhere for decades and it is metric size nuts and bolts that hole them together. Even industrial machines are being made elsewhere with Metric parts. We just can not escape it and it has been that way for years.

      Ignore it ? Yes if you like but Escape from it is something we can no longer even pretend to do.

  13. Bob New York says

    Hi Bob,
    My first practical use of Metric was when I was going to the UK in the early 90′s. they were in the process of changing to Metric because of the EU. On my last day of one visit, I found some unused surplus BT ( real phone co type ) phones being sold as surplus in a store. I bought 3 but no way could I get them in my luggage so I deciede to mail them. First I wanted to check how much it would cost to mail them back to New York. I go to the post office, ask how much would it cost to send a 10 Pound parcel to New York. The clerk gets a bewildered look on her face and says ” Sir how many kilos will that be ” ?. Without thinking I exclaim ” Lady I’m not sending Dope, I am sending electronic items ” ! She asks another clerk twice her age who says 10 Pounds that will be 4.5 Kilo . Well, that gave me my benchmark for conversion 10 Lbs = 4.5 kilo. Using that I can get a good estimate on metric weight, even though the metric / US measurement scales are not exactly linear it is close enough for me. I never did learn the math formula for conversion LOL.

    When meat in the UK could no longer be sold by pounds and ounces it created a lot of confusion for many people there. I go out to a local pub with a friend for dinner one evening and on the menu is listed a 225 gram steak ! I ask ” What the ” Heck ” ( not the actual word I used LOL ) is a 225 gram steak, waiter replies ” Darned ” ( not exact word LOL ) if I know I’ll check. Turns out the 225 gram steak was an 8 ounce steak. That incedent I will always remember and it gives me a benchmark for conversion of Grams.

    I went to a small grocery store to buy a jar of instant coffee. I pick up a jar and it said something like 112 grams. My brain tells me ” I dont care what it says thats a 4 Oz jar of coffee. I get back to my friends house and he confirms it is indeed a 4 ounce jar of coffee. Another numerical benchmark for me.

    Liquid ? Easy LOL for many years it has been marked on the top of most Urinals, 3.8L / 1 gal / flush . Another benchmark for me.

    Temperature ? I looked at thermostats being used in peoples houses that are in metric. Most of them were at or near 20 C which I found out is about 68 Deg. One of the few things I knew about Metric or is it Centigrade now known as Celcius was freezing is Zero C 32 F. So by looking at T Stats I learned 20 C = 68 or about 70 F. Another conversion benchmark !

    One thing I have not figured out is how UK wire guages have changed, something like cross sectional area of the conductor.

    I put the ” Bob New York ” method of English to Metric conversion to good use while in The Philippines. I was in a supermarket looking at packages all in metric and I start mumbling my conversion benchmarks and adjusting accordingly so I could figure out the net weight on something like a box of cerial. An engineering student that was with me hears me mumbling to myself and asks what I am saying. So I went thru my conversion routine in full voice so he could hear me make the conversion. Needless to say the student was quite amazed how I could do these things faster than he could using the proper formulas for conversion !

    Metric has slowly been sneaking into the USA for years, no more quart soft drink bottles, no more liquer bottles such as a ” 5th ” etc. Almost everything is marked with English / Metric now. Metric tools and hardware have become commonly available. I think in another generation or two the USA will be a lot closer to an All Metric society. It is too big of a country and too many people and things to change overnight, especially when it involves taxpayer money. You think any certain politician will get re-elected if they tried to force Metric on this country ? I don’t think so.

    As we mentioned in a recent article here on ” LIP ” it is the internet that is connecting the whole world together for Instant anything, any time. If anything this instant world communication may help to make new world standards be readily adopted in the future. Yeah, that date thing can be confusing and you have to know what country you are dealing with sometimes. With both date writing systems in use in Philippines that could be confusing, this is the first time I have heard of that. This just illustrates there is always something new to be learned on the ” LIP ” website !

    World Standardization ? Let’s see them try to do it with Electricity and plugs and sockets used as electrical outlets ! When Digital Broadcasting replaces analog methods that will replace standards such as NTSC, PAL, N-PAL, M-PAL, etc.

    Nice article Bob !

    • says

      Hi Bob – Thanks for your comments, you have some good thoughts and ideas there. Good examples too. I also agree that the Internet will be a driver of change in terms of metrics and other types of standards as well.

  14. says

    As we used to say in the government software business, the wonderful thing about standards is, there are so many to chose from ;-). I am, though, very disappointed at how backwards the US has been on this issue. The great thing about the metric system is that all measurements are ‘sanity based’ and all link together. And everything is based on units of 10, instead of twelve and 5280 and 43560 and other hard to remember/divide by numbers. I mean if it’s demonstrably easier … why are we fighting?

    • Bob New York says

      Hi Dave,

      Maybe one reason for that at least with our generation is that these figures were ” drilled and grilled ” into our brain by memorization in our schools here in the USA. Yes, we were ” exposed ” to the metric system but there was little or no practical use for it in our every day existance back then. It all seemed so ” foriegn ” to us so why bother, who needs it, etc.

      Even for myself for most things I ignored it except for when Metric was the only game in town for things I liked such as Electronics, Amateur Radio where wavelengths were only ever mentioned in Meters and Kilocycles, later renamed Kilohertz etc.

      My exposure to everyday use of the metric system in the EU converted UK was that at that time it seemed people less than about 30 years of age were ” Metric Educated ” and those over that age were Non-Metric English Measurement educated.

      If you flunked your test in elementary school and had to stay after school and write 1 mile = 5280 Feet 100 times on a black board you would not be too concerned about Kilometers and other more logical measurements that no one around you ever used anyway LOL !

      I think we are well on our way of changing only in such a subtle way that there is still plenty of accomodation for todays Metric people and the older English / American generation like myself.

  15. Bacolod Barry says

    Hi Bob
    I cannot understand how different countries have adopted the stupid non-standard date format, BUT have somehow all (mostly) adopted the same traffic signs. For instance a red line on a white circle background meaning ‘no entry’, how or why does this represent that no traffic should go that way??? I have seen other traffic signs in various parts of the world which are the same. I know traffic is a comparatively new invention so there ‘should’ be many similarity, but on the other hand writing the date in ‘digital’ form is also comparatively modern. Isn’t it? What a strange world we live in…..

    • says

      Hi Barry – Yeah, it seems like almost all traffic signs are universal. I think you are probably correct, that it is due to the fact that driving is a modern invention. I had not thought about that in the scheme of things, though.

  16. says

    I don’t understand it either, Dave. And, America wants to start being more export driven, yet are unwilling to adopt the standards of the countries that they want to export to. Crazy, if you ask me.

  17. Jade says

    Hi Bob,
    My pet peeve on this dissonance of standards which truly needs a SIR ( Smooth Interpretive Rationality ) moment, is with my computer.
    For example I take a lot of digital pictures which I download to my computer(s). The resident program for downloading these images and filing them under the My Pictures folder is HP Transfer and Quick Print. It is a real neat and easy to use program… except there only 2 useful categories for naming the sub file. These are: This Month, or Current Date – the only choice there is this sequence of – day of week, month, day, year. Then the computer neatly alphanumetrically arranges them in groups consisting first of the pictures taken on the day of the week starting with the Friday picture group and ending with the Wednesday picture group and the years scattered all over the place. Why would I want that arrangement? They must know something that I don’t. Yes I know that I could name each sub-file manually,
    YYYY/MM/DD and then the day the week. What a weird resident menu choice automatically starting with the day of the week…

    BTW I liked Bob New York’s list of benchmarks, in particular the 3.8 liter / 1 gallon on the toilet one, which I am reminded of many times daily. I think that by now I have got that one down pat. Maybe we could market a self adhesive list of the other benchmark conversion tricks to be applied near the original porcelain one. It might prove to be popular. That 3.8 liter / 1 gal is getting a bit boring.


    • says

      Hi Jade – I don’t use a program to grab photos from my digi cam, I do it manually, and put them in the folders that I choose. Still, though, when you take tens of thousands of pics over time, it sure is hard to remember where you put that one that you suddenly need!

  18. says

    Only a few years ago NASA lost a very expensive Mars exploration probe. After years of travel to the ‘red planet’ it crashed into Mars mountains rather than orbiting as it was supposed to … when the investigators found out what went wrong? Seems one team of designers had been working in English units and the other design team used Metric … one number got transferred direct into the flight control software without being converted …. good thing it wasn’t a manned mission. Splat!

  19. JackF says

    wow Bob I think you read my mind, i was just thinking about this yesterday. My thought was more about 220V or 110V why cant we all just have the same electricity. I mean I am running around trying to see how many converters im gona need, worried about someone plugging in my 110 drill battery chargers in to a 220 outlet. I see myself running in slow motion toward my housemaid as shes about to plug in our appliances in that deadly 220 receptical screaming nooooo! With my luck id fall on the kids toys before I get there, spend a night in the hospital all while trying to calculate how many ML of IV fluids i am getting in my veins :/

    • says

      Hi Jack – We may have had these thoughts at the same time, because I wrote the article yesterday too! :lol: In a lot of cases, it seems like almost all of the world is on one standard, and the US is different. :shock:

    • Jade says

      This subject of the The US Standard of the 120vac of 2 flat blade plugs/receptacles being “exported” to the Philippines for their standard of 220/240vac is an historical boondoggle.
      Every country/group of nations has their “local” electrical standards for the purpose of eliminating “electrical confusion”.
      Every voltage/amperage combination has it’s particular configuration of plugs, prongs, blades etc. to prohibit the opportunity for electrical ‘mistakes’.
      I will not get in depth on this technical subject of electrical standards (it bores me too) to relieve the the readership from being bored to tears/sleep. -NEMA – now becoming adherent to – IEC – modern standards…
      Why did the US Standard of the 120vac of 2 flat blade plugs/receptacles become “exported” to the Philippines for their standard of 220/240v electrical service?
      To me that is a good question .
      Was it simply because the US was dominant over the Philippines and “we” did not want to bother to export our heavy duty industrial standard 220/240vac plugs/receptacles to the Philippines during the era of the electrification of the country due to obvious higher costs?
      Cheap solution – cheap fix…. as perceived at the time… maybe… I don’t know….

      I have no answers to this obvious glitch.

      BTW, I have been a marine electrical contractor for the past 38 years, and have worked worldwide, so this electrical anomoloy poses a question to me.


  20. Thomas Gil says

    hahaha As for measurements Bob this metric/imperial thing is still very subjective as to which to use! to bad we can’t get society in general to convert the size of a man to cm from inches as then we’d all be huge hahahah Hope this is still within the PG rules

  21. Jawz says

    Dear Bob, I can never understand why our home country abused us by teaching the other system. Yeah, unique is cool, but it is like a ball and chain! HAAHHAHA

    • says

      Yes, indeed, Jawz, especially for a young person like you. We were taught some metric back in the 70′s when I was in school. By the time you were learning, you should have been well educated in it! Sad that it didn’t continue!

  22. marjorie says

    Hi Bob

    There is one thing about Imperial/English measures also £.s.d. You had to think hard when doing your maths.

    Jim – You can still get pints of milk delivered by the milkman. i dont suppose anyone wanted to replace all those glass bottles.


      • says

        Hi Bob – The old pre decimal coinage of the UK was L.s.d or Pounds, Shillings and Pence.
        When a Pound was a Pound there was 240 Pennies to a Pound and 12 Pennies to a Shilling and 20 Shillings to the Pound.
        In addition there was Halfpennies, Thruppeny Bits, Sixpeny Bit’s, Two Bob Bits and Halfcrowns and Ten Bob notes. If you go back a bit further there was Farthings and Fourpenny pieces and Guineas and Sovereigns.
        It’s little wonder Britian went decimal it must have saved the government of the time a fortune in metal usage alone.
        And in addition every Bank printed their own notes.

  23. Dave Keiser says

    Bob, from the NOW useless tidbit of information department: General motors transmissions all have the word “Metric” stamped on the bottom filter cover. BUT the flywheel cover bolts are still 3/8ths heads, and the torque convertor bolts are 5/8ths. Go figure!

  24. Mars Z. says

    Bob, there’s a lot of others to be standardized: how about differences between miles? (International; Nautical and statute). Heck, we can’t even agree on miles alone! How about US gallons and Imperial Gallons, although Imperial is about 20% more that US gallons (your car handbook will tell you this just to confuse you). There’s Rods (poles), links, chains or yards.

    Measuring the the depths: furlongs, leagues and fathoms. Yes, for accuracy, we need to use Metrics, that’s why most scientific studies and advance pharmaceutical uses metrics. That cough syrup always tell you this; Ha ha. They do this to avoid confusion between fluid ounces and solids (weight) ounces.

    Conversions to Metrics will undoubtedly cause confusion at first. Remember a while back, an Air Canada “Gimli Glider”, run out of fuel due to the mistakes of converting the amount of fuel on board from Imperial measurement rather than metrics (I think Canada Air was in the middle of metrics conversion on that plane). Plane glided @ the abandoned runway @ Gimli, hence the Nickname.

    But we are using a lot of metrics here in the US than we think: volts, amperes, watts, ohms, kilobytes, megabytes. But can be done slowly like in speedometer on cars now where you can see how many KM/hr along with miles.


    • says

      Hi Mars – You have plenty of examples there which I did not think of when I wrote the article, and they are all true. Just shows all the more need for standards! :lol:

      Yes, Americans have had Miles/Kilometers on the speedometers for years, but I bet 9 out of 10 won’t even know that the kilometers are there! :shock:

      • Mars Z. says

        Yeah, I read your article before leaving Virginia for Savannah, Georgia and I just smile when I saw I was doing 110-120 KM/Hr most of the time, then I have an idea what 75-80 miles an hour is. lol.

  25. PaulB says

    Hi Bob,

    The one observation that has amazed me in my travels ,is the salt and pepper pot (shaker). In the UK they put salt in the one hole shaker and pepper in the multihole shaker,but I noticed in European countries its the other way around. Someone once said it was down to Napoleon?

      • Randy says

        Paul is right. Have you ever counted the holes? While salt is bad for you, it’s poured through many more holes as opposed to the pepper shaker with fewer holes, to dispense a substance which is a proven natural anti-oxident that is good for you! Furthermore, I would side with the UK mentality. Why, just look at their take on grog!

  26. Steven Hark says

    There is an international date format, ISO 8601 : 2004, written as YYYY-MM-DD. As has been pointed out above, this format makes filing by date so easy. Strangely the mainland Chinese where using that format for some time before the initial ISO came out in 2000 – so you coould almost say that even our date system was “Made in China”. LOL

    • Randy says

      Actually Steven, the U.S. govm’t has used the international date format (yyyymmdd) format for a very long time, and further take it all the way down to seconds for some time sensitive applications (YYYYMMDDHHMMSS). What always confused me is that the govm’t and civilian world in the U.S. has rarely been on the same page, and it’s not limited to dates and times. It’s like it is all part of an intentional scheme to keep the ‘sheeple” confused. Should we expect anymore from a government that still hides aliens at Area 51?

    • Mars Z. says

      Steven, if you check your computers, digital cameras and other techno gadgets, all three choices for date selection are there: yy/mm/dd, mm/dd/yy and dd/mm/yy. It’s users choice.


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