2015 May 19

Lose Weight And Drive Faster!

Or, How I Learned To Stop Converting And Love The Metric System

World map showing the only 3 countries not using the metric system (U.S., Myanmar, and Liberia).

First off: no, you don’t really lose weight and you’re not really driving faster. The title is complete clickbait.

Occasionally, a passenger in my car gets a shock when we’re on a highway and they glance at the speedometer. “We’re going 100?!?”, they exclaim incredulously.

“Yes, we are,” I answer. “100 kilometers per hour.”

For the metric-challenged out there, that’s 62 miles per hour. If you are metric-challenged like me, you probably live in the United States. That’s because the U.S. is one of only 3 countries in the entire world that haven’t formally adopted the metric system as the official measurement system (the other 2 are Myanmar and Liberia). I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of dealing with ridiculous numbers such as 5,280 feet per mile or 2 cups in a pint, 2 pints in a quart, but 4 quarts in a gallon. Not to mention “freezing” being 32º.

The longer I’ve had to live with this antiquated system of measurement, the more resentful I’ve become. So when I discovered that my car had a button for switching to metric, I pushed it immediately. Sure, it was disconcerting at first… but I adjusted pretty quickly, and now I feel out of sync when my wife borrows the car and resets it to miles per hour.

Give it a try! You’ll feel like you’re in the Daytona 500 when your speedometer shows 80 instead of 50. And on major highways, you too can hit 100.

But that’s just the start. In addition to setting my phone’s Maps app to use kilometers instead of miles, its Weather app uses Celsius instead of Fahrenheit. Now I know immediately when it’s below freezing outside: temperature is negative. True, Fahrenheit has a much finer gradation of scale—there’s nearly twice as many degrees from freezing to boiling (180 in Fahrenheit vs. 100 in Celsius). But do you really need that many degrees? Can you tell the difference between 62ºF and 63ºF? I can’t.

I still don’t think in ºC, so I’ve come up with this little mantra: Freezing, Cold, Chilly, Cool, Pleasant, Warm, Hot. It works like this:

Understanding Celsius
ºC Feels ºF
0 Freezing 32
5 Cold ~40
10 Chilly ~50
15 Cool ~60
20 Pleasant ~70
25 Warm ~80
30 Hot ~90

(As you may have noticed, you can just double the Celsius and add 30º for a rough approximation.)

What about losing weight? Well, instead of being 165 lbs, I can magically be 75 kilos instead! (Again, for quick estimation the very rough approximation is to cut the number of pounds in half.)

So join the rest of civilization and go metric—you have nothing to lose (but the headache of a ridiculously cumbersome measurement system), and everything to gain.