Thursday, August 25, 2011

You do the math

It’s a good thing this blog is semi-anonymous because I’m about to reveal to you one of my biggest sources of embarrassment.   Are you leaning closer?  Okay, here it is:  I suck at math.  Majorly.  It normally takes me around a good ten minutes to calculate a 15% tip at a restaurant, I normally guess wrong when I try to calculate how much I would pay for a blouse that is 25% off, and if a train leaves Miami at 3pm traveling at 60 miles an hour, I have no idea how long it would take to get to Atlanta.

Why does the fact that I suck at math matter?  After all, as we asked our teachers in grade school, when will I really use this stuff? Well apparently you need to use it if you’re moving to a continent where everything from what time it is to how far away something is to what size pants you wear requires math to figure out!

 I don’t want to be another dumb American who complains about the metric system, but I’m about to do just that.  In case you didn’t know, Americans have a different way of measuring everything compared to every other industrialized country in the world.  Outside the U.S., if you ask someone how tall they are, they would answer you in centimeters.   If you ask someone how far away they live, they would answer you in kilometers.   If you asked someone how much three potatoes weigh, they would answer you in kilograms.  The math comes into the equation when you try to convert measurements from the U.S. customary system into the metric system.  So to say that you live 20 miles away from something, you would need to remember that 1 mile= 1. 609 kilometers so 20 miles would be…..(long pause) 32.18 kilometers  (Okay, so I used an online calculator for that one.  Big deal!)

Lately, the Professor and I have been trying to make friends with the metric system as well as the international standard notation of time and degrees Celsius.   Our efforts thus far have been rather fruitless.  Take these conversations as an example:

Me: What time is it?
Professor:  It is (checks iPhone) 21:15.
Me:  (Pause.  Subtract 12 from 21)…..So….9:15, right?
Professor:  Is it hot out today?
Me:  Um… according to my computer, it is currently 30 degrees Celsius.
Professor:  So….is it hot out today?
Me: I don’t know. Go outside and check.

I recently became aware of exactly how difficult it is for me to convert to the metric system when I discovered and fell in love with an Australian culinary magazine eponymously called Donna Hay.  Unfortunately, the lovely Donna lists all of her ingredients in the metric system.  So to make the dessert in the photo above, you need 75 grams of white sugar, 250 grams of mascarpone cheese, 250 grams of strawberries, 120 grams of raspberries, and 80 milliliters of water. (Complete recipe here). 

So what should you do if you find yourself in need of converting measurements?  Well if you’re like me, you try to convince your husband that you need a proper kitchen scale like this one.  Even though my über modern husband would prefer one like this (which in my opinion has all the charm of a medical examining table).  A cheaper option would be to invest in this dishtowel cheat sheet that I found. Cute, eh?  If all else fails,  I guess you need to take your computer with you to the kitchen and just hope you don’t get flour on it (lest the hubby throw a hissy fit).   Wish me luck!

1 comment:

  1. In Canada, most people say their height and weight in imperial but distance is definitely km (or hours haha). And the closer you live to the US border, the more likely you'll use a blend of both.