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A lesson in poor metrication

Found wanting on October 10, 2021.

Once again poor metrication had caused me to run out of fuel. I landed in Québec, about three quarters of the way to Pugwash, Nova Scotia. This was better than crashing into Mars like other mediocre metricators have been known to do. My plans to eat the foliage had been thwarted, but there was certainly plenty more out there I could eat.

While awaiting roadside assistance, I began chewing on my dashboard.


Back in my home town, I lamented the fact that I would be unable to wash my pug in Pugwash—but consoled myself with the alternative fact that I was able to purchase a brand new bottle of buttwash on the trip back to these United States. Having learned my lesson the hard way once already, I assiduously converted litres to gallons before galumphing out of the store with it. Embarrassed once, I had now become quite the meticulous metricator. Canadian or not, I would have my buttwash in good ol’-fashioned U.S. gallons.

Pulling into my driveway, I realized that in the midst of my mental metrications, I had forgotten to carry a one, and then another, and then another; my “gallon” jug of Callipygian Fields® certified organic buttwash turned out to be a mere 3.6 litres. After sitting in my car and howling like an angry Klingon for about fifteen minutes, I realized it could have been worse: I could have forgotten to carry a π. That would have been far more devastating. If I had made that pitiable mistake, my ostensible “gallon” jug of buttwash would have contained less than two litres. And the remainder of the gluteal detergent would instead be found firmly ensconced in the nearest doodlewhacker pie. I frowned—a sudden craving for doodlewhacker pie had formed in my curiously smooth brain. I frowned again—I was all out of dashboard to nosh upon. I continued howling like a Klingon.

[Protip: Never put a glass table anywhere near an angry Klingon. He—or she—will smash it. This I learned this week. And it was advice I took to heart indeed.]


On Tuesday, I struggled to remember how many centimeters are in an inch. With much of the Internet offline due to an unfortunate packet-routing accident, I was forced to use my actual in-brain memory to remember something: Surely a disaster in the making. And alas it led to my accidental invention of a new mile—one that was about ten smoots (plus one toe) longer than the so-called “nautical” mile—which in turn is longer than the U.S. survey mile, which in turn is longer than the mile we all know and love, which in turn is longer than the stubby little miles they use in Accident, Maryland. Those miles are only 666 statute feet (and zero statute toes) long. Most Accidental historians explain this by claiming its inventor accidentally used 5,280 stubby little gnome feet to mete out his mile. Others however insist that this midget mile is a cruel joke played by the devil himself on the poor town of Accident. After all, the devil is known to be quite the mischievous metricator himself.

Personally I think 827 of Chloë Moretz’ pretty little feet were used to mete out that mile, but that’s just me.

Anywho, I now had a mile that was over 6,132 feet (2,044 yards, half as many fathoms, and three times as many spans), and I had nowhere to put it. It didn’t fit in my car. It didn’t fit in my house. Not one of its 2,044 yards would fit in my yard—which is a few acres, fewer hectares, but many, many more square cubits. I plodded around the perimeter of my yard, carefully perambulating its metes and bounds, but my mile wouldn’t fit all stretched out along there either. I tried wrapping the mile around one of my spaghetti trees (which are 78 cubic squarits in volume), but got tired and dizzy and gave up. And the tree didn’t like it and started pelting me with meatballs. Finally I dropped the infernal unit in a hole in the ground—six feet deep, a little less than one smoot, and exactly 812.88 centimeters—and buried it with four cubic yards of dirt (186,624 in3 or 3,058 litres). That’s enough litres of Mountain Dew to keep me fed, watered, and strung out on caffeine for the rest of my Pnårpy life.

My continued cross-eyed dyslexia also led to the accidental invention of the 8,250-foot mile on Wednesday, but that’s a story for another time. (It’s also why everything is 56¼% farther away this week than it was last week.)


My interatomic metrication continued unabated as Wednesday fled and Thursday emerged. I attempted to metricate an actimeter, but just ended up meting out a metric smootload of horse meat in the process. (How cause led to effect in this instance is best left to the imagination.) Midway through this, I had decided that square fathoms, cubic tons, and acre-feet were good candidates for immediate metrication. But I wasn’t sure how to metricate an acre-foot without distracting myself with visions of an acreful of Chloë Moretz’s size-eight feet. Inevitably an hours-long session of hooting goonflayvination would follow each such diverting fantasy—which would leave me no nearer my goal of maximal metrication, but it would leave me with pounds and pounds (and cubic decimeter upon decimeter) of shredded and tattered horse meat.

Later on Thursday, horses still on my mind, I renewed my long-term letter-writing campaign to persuade the U.S. Equestrian Federation to metricate. I implored them to replace their ludicrous horse-measuring system of “hands” with solid, dependable decimeters (or, “linear litres”). I knew they still wouldn’t listen to me, but I had to try. And so I wrote… I scribbled… I even scrivened… as if my life (and the lives of thousands of non-SI horses) depended on it. I was deep into the seventeenth page of my fiery, single-spaced jeremiad, putting the finishing jots and tittles on a paragraph lambasting the horsey club for their witless abuse of the decimal point as a devastatingly confusing delimiter betwixt two distinctly non-decimal units, when it happened: My telephone hooted.

I frowned. I picked it up. “Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin!” I hooted back in irritation, then hung up. It hooted again. I hooted harder and then hung it up harder. It hooted again. I hooted in rage, pulled the phone from the wall, and ate it. It stopped hooting. I did not. I went back to writing. Eventually my hooting out loud died down to a dull burble, but I kept hooting in my head for hours.

“—And finally, horses don’t even have hands!” I finished my madly meandering metric missive. If no other argument was persuasive, certainly that one would be. Satisfied that it was complete, I stapled my weighty letter together, stuffed it in an envelope, plastered the envelope with stamps, tried (and failed) to find space on the envelope to add the actual address of the U.S. Equestrian Federation, and at last deposited the curious bundle of paper, twine, and postage in the nighest mailbox. I then retired to my Hopeless Slack-Ass® recliner and waited.

No reply came.

I waited as long as I could—a total of seventeen minutes—before throwing up my hands in resignation and concluding the horsey set hated me and would never take my advice. I stood (keeling over only twice) and bumbled back out to the mailbox. I pried open the door on the front and ate my letter on the spot. Then I ran away before any nearby mailmen saw me and hooted at me to stop.

Again, I could console myself with at least one alternative fact: My attempts at metric persuasion hadn’t resulted in any injuries or deaths this time—something that could not be said about the millimetering accident I had caused at the Cthulomat three weeks ago. Luckily I had the perfect alibi then: I was hiding in a self-dug hole when that accident happened, so no one could blame me!

I returned to my lazy, lazy recliner and ruminated some more. Pensively I pondered my metrical predicament. I had metricated everything in sight—and many things not in sight—but I was still unsatisfied. The horseys wouldn’t listen to me, and this chapped my ass like no other—even worse than that time I had accidentally confused a bottle of muriatic acid with my buttwash. I resumed howling like an angry Klingon. I soon came to believe that the xebec (from Québec) with which I had collided on my ill-fated journey to Pugwash may have had something to do with this recent turn of events. But I also recently came to believe that the most dangerous part of a gecko is its mind, so what do I know? I sighed and went back to hooting quietly in my chair.