Author Topic: imperial measurements  (Read 7479 times)

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sparksals

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Re: imperial measurements
« Reply #30 on: August 05, 2011, 11:03:55 PM »
^ So Canada really isn't that different from the US, huh?  I've never seen a road sign in km here, but I see packages all the time with both metric and imperial, as in 236 ml (8 oz).  Is milk still sold in quarts and gallons?  Milk cartons/jugs usually have the ml printed on them, but nobody ever says they need a liter of milk (or 3.78 liters of milk). 

(Yes, I had to look that up.  I don't for a second remember how to do conversions in my head, despite all the conversions we did in elementary school.)

Not true.  In terms of "using" metric, many people like KAren and myself grew up with Imperial and convert the metric back to imperial. 

Everything in Canada,  be it in the stores, at a gas station, a road sign, are all in metric.  Food is packaged in Grams or Kilograms.  They may show how many ounces they are depending on what it is.  Produce, deli and meat are sold per kilogram or per 100 grams.  Conversions may or may not be available. 

Road signs for speed are always in KM and speed limits are KM/Hour.  Canadian vehicles speedometer show KMs/hour as the major speed, with MPH as the smaller numbers.  Odometers are in KMs as well.  Cars prior to a certain year, I thikn sometime in the 70's still have MPH if they are still on the road, but new vehicles since X year have metric first.   

Gas is sold per litre.  There is never a conversion per gallon. 

Road signs do not have miles, they do not sell meat by the pound or ounce.  The major and legally required measurement for weight, distance and volume is metric.  Imperial may be provided on certain items, but it is not required.  I think food manufacturers do it as a courtesy for those of us who got caught in the crossfire of learning Imperial and then having Metric rammed down our throats.  Now that I think of it, I think both are on packaged food b/c many manufacturers make for both US and CAnada.  However, another monkey wrench is in Canada ALL packaging be it food or a crockpot must be in english and french. 

There are signs in the US in metric - on I-19 to be exact in AZ.  At a certain point leaving Tucson to head to Mexico, the signs change to KMs and I believe they also have MPH for speed and miles for distance.  Can't remember.  Don't know if other Interstates near Mexico also have that or not.


Road signs - the first highway signs you encounter upon entering Canada from the US border give the metric-equivalent reminder, but that's about it.  After that, Americans are on their own.......

And it's odd that, even though I have a science background and used metric exclusively at work for years - for household stuff I still convert in my head. 1 inch = 2 1/2 cm (close enough) 1 pound = a little less than half a kg, 1 km = 2/3 mile (close enough).  For temperature  - double the Celsius, add 30 and get the approximate Farenheidt.

Re butter/margarine - in Canada margarine comes in boxes of 1/4 lb squares but butter only comes in 1 or 2 lb bricks.  The wrapped sticks would indeed be nice.

Schoolkids have indeed been learning metric from the early grades for the last 30 years or so - but they eventually end up having to kind of pick up Imperial on the side anyway, since it's still so widely used.

So very true - the conversions back and forth.   For temps, I double the C and add 32.  For distance, I multiple by .6 (same as 2/3 without having to multiply and divide).  Since I live in the US, temps are in F, I convert to C all the time so I know what the 'real' temp is . lol   I do this mostly with cold weather temps. 

For pounds to KG, I do 2.2 pounds per kg, so 500 g approx is one pound.  Looks like I convert backwards from you? 

kareng57

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Re: imperial measurements
« Reply #31 on: August 05, 2011, 11:14:09 PM »
^ So Canada really isn't that different from the US, huh?  I've never seen a road sign in km here, but I see packages all the time with both metric and imperial, as in 236 ml (8 oz).  Is milk still sold in quarts and gallons?  Milk cartons/jugs usually have the ml printed on them, but nobody ever says they need a liter of milk (or 3.78 liters of milk). 

(Yes, I had to look that up.  I don't for a second remember how to do conversions in my head, despite all the conversions we did in elementary school.)

Not true.  In terms of "using" metric, many people like KAren and myself grew up with Imperial and convert the metric back to imperial. 

Everything in Canada,  be it in the stores, at a gas station, a road sign, are all in metric.  Food is packaged in Grams or Kilograms.  They may show how many ounces they are depending on what it is.  Produce, deli and meat are sold per kilogram or per 100 grams.  Conversions may or may not be available. 

Road signs for speed are always in KM and speed limits are KM/Hour.  Canadian vehicles speedometer show KMs/hour as the major speed, with MPH as the smaller numbers.  Odometers are in KMs as well.  Cars prior to a certain year, I thikn sometime in the 70's still have MPH if they are still on the road, but new vehicles since X year have metric first.   

Gas is sold per litre.  There is never a conversion per gallon. 

Road signs do not have miles, they do not sell meat by the pound or ounce.  The major and legally required measurement for weight, distance and volume is metric.  Imperial may be provided on certain items, but it is not required.  I think food manufacturers do it as a courtesy for those of us who got caught in the crossfire of learning Imperial and then having Metric rammed down our throats.  Now that I think of it, I think both are on packaged food b/c many manufacturers make for both US and CAnada.  However, another monkey wrench is in Canada ALL packaging be it food or a crockpot must be in english and french. 

There are signs in the US in metric - on I-19 to be exact in AZ.  At a certain point leaving Tucson to head to Mexico, the signs change to KMs and I believe they also have MPH for speed and miles for distance.  Can't remember.  Don't know if other Interstates near Mexico also have that or not.


Road signs - the first highway signs you encounter upon entering Canada from the US border give the metric-equivalent reminder, but that's about it.  After that, Americans are on their own.......

And it's odd that, even though I have a science background and used metric exclusively at work for years - for household stuff I still convert in my head. 1 inch = 2 1/2 cm (close enough) 1 pound = a little less than half a kg, 1 km = 2/3 mile (close enough).  For temperature  - double the Celsius, add 30 and get the approximate Farenheidt.

Re butter/margarine - in Canada margarine comes in boxes of 1/4 lb squares but butter only comes in 1 or 2 lb bricks.  The wrapped sticks would indeed be nice.

Schoolkids have indeed been learning metric from the early grades for the last 30 years or so - but they eventually end up having to kind of pick up Imperial on the side anyway, since it's still so widely used.

So very true - the conversions back and forth.   For temps, I double the C and add 32.  For distance, I multiple by .6 (same as 2/3 without having to multiply and divide).  Since I live in the US, temps are in F, I convert to C all the time so I know what the 'real' temp is . lol   I do this mostly with cold weather temps. 

For pounds to KG, I do 2.2 pounds per kg, so 500 g approx is one pound.  Looks like I convert backwards from you?


Close enough. :)

Leafy

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Re: imperial measurements
« Reply #32 on: August 06, 2011, 03:50:22 AM »
Finland has apparently used the metric system since late 19th century so nobody alive remembers the old measurements, I don't even really know what they were. Some older recipes will use measurements like "a coffee cup" but modern recipes use mostly liters, deciliters and grams (grams are mostly used for things like butter, though it's more exact measuring for everything as the amount of for example flour in a deciliter can vary). Milliliters are hardly used, instead we use spoon measurements which are accurate if you use the official measuring spoons but I think probably everyone just uses regular tea and table spoons. A table spoon is 15 ml which is three tea spoons but I think that if I was doubling a recipe that called for two teaspoons of  something I'd just use the teaspoon four times and not figure out that it's one table spoon and one teaspoon. I don't think that multiples of ten really enter much in making recipes bigger, unless you're making it ten times bigger. Of course you might end up with having to use 15 dl of flour for example, in which case it's easier to think of it as 1.5 liters but it doesn't really have any effect as all measuring cups that are that big will most likely also have the deciliters. It's probably easier to do things like multiply a recipe by 1.5 with a metric system, I would imagine.

Okay now I have to ask if any other metric countries use decilitres. I'm in Australia and I've never heard this measure used. We do litres and millilitres. And also out of curiosity why would you measure flour in decilitres? It's not a liquid so wouldn't it be best measured in grams?

I must admit to having a few imperial measurements which would be carried over from my mum's use of them as I've only been around for metric. I'll do baby weight in pounds and ounces and understand height equally well in feet or metres, but I'm still stuck on that stick of butter because I don't know ounces to grams and we don't measure butter in cups (just grams).
 

Ereine

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Re: imperial measurements
« Reply #33 on: August 06, 2011, 04:25:38 AM »
And also out of curiosity why would you measure flour in decilitres? It's not a liquid so wouldn't it be best measured in grams?

Because apart from maybe meat, vegetables and such and butter, everything is listed by volume even though it would make more sense to do it by weight as it's more accurate. I guess Finns just don't have kitchen scales :)

Decilitres are very handy, when you're talking about amounts that aren't very large or very small. A recipe might call for 2 dl of sugar, it looks a lot better (to me) than 200 ml or 0,2 l. Pretty much everything that's over 10 ml and less than 1 l is done in deciliters, usually you just say desi and everyone knows you're talking about volume, even though, at least in theory, deci- can mean a ten of every measurement (I've never heard of decigrams used though).

I do much of my baking with American recipes (but with Finnish ingredients so the results aren't probably quite right but as I've never tasted the real things I don't mind it) and have a measuring cup for that. The recipes look rather different from Finnish ones, I think.

In case someone is interested, here's a recipe for "American cookies" (without the instructions which are pretty basic) given to me by a friend, I suspect that it was translated into Finnish at some point, so now I'll translate it back:

250g margariinia (pehmeää) margarine (soft) *
2dl sokeria sugar
2dl fariinisokeria brown sugar **
1tl vaniliinisokeria vanillin sugar ***

2 kananmunaa eggs

5,75dl vehnäjauhoja wheat flour ****
1tl soodaa baking soda
1tl suolaa  salt

5dl suklaata pilkottuna chopped chocolate *****

*Margarine and butter are sold either in plastic tubs with no measurements in them or for baking as blocks wrapped in paper with measurements, but not in sticks.
** This is the type of brown sugar that's white sugar mixed with molasses
*** Vanilla is almost always mixed with sugar here, not an extract. Vanillin is artificial vanilla that is quite vile, I like to use real vanilla but it's quite expensive to find some that's not mixed with vanillin. tl = tea spoon
**** This measurement makes me think that this recipe was originally translated, as that's a bit strange. Measuring flour by volume is so inexact anyway that for most people it wouldn't probably matter  if they used 6 dl instead of 5,75. 
***** Readymade chocolate chips don't exist here or at least I've never encountered them so you have to chop the chocolate yourself. My friend used Swedish milk chocolate that has pieces of a Daim bar in it, it was surprisingly good.

NestHolder

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Re: imperial measurements
« Reply #34 on: August 06, 2011, 02:32:27 PM »
...when a recipe calls for a 'stick' of butter.  Hah.  I buy butter in the aforementioned quantities... so what's a 'stick'?  Grrr.
In the US butter and margarine come in 1 lb boxes.  Each box contains 4 sticks.  Each stick is 5 inches long, 1.25 inches wide, 1.25" deep.  Each stick is wrapped in paper that is marked in 1 tablespoon chunks.  1 stick = 1/4 pound = 1/2 cup.  (This from the box I just dug out of my freezer so I could answer the question.)

I think I may now be able to remember that!  A stick is 4oz.  Thank you!

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The stick size and markings are useless if you are using a metric recipee.  But they are great if you are using an American recipe.  Which is part of the reason the US is so slow going metric.  Many of us are still using Grandma's recipees.

But my aforementioned cookery book is my Grandma's recipies!  Y'all will have to bite the bullet sooner or later...  (Though if you do go metric, thinking in pounds and pints and so forth will persist for quite a while.  Oh - beer is still sold in pints.)

sparksals

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Re: imperial measurements
« Reply #35 on: August 06, 2011, 02:43:07 PM »
Even though Canada is metric, recipes are posted in books in both. I always use Imperial for cooking and although I know 125 ml is half a cup I view it as half a cup and measure that way. 

Outdoor Girl

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Re: imperial measurements
« Reply #36 on: August 06, 2011, 09:12:50 PM »
I'm starting to see butter in sticks in Ontario.  But they are more expensive than just the plain 1 lb blocks.

Additionally, 1 lb of butter is actually just a little bit more than 2 cups.  If you look at the printed markings, it is actually closer to 2 1/4 cups.  When I'm baking, though, I usually just consider it 2 cups.  It is easier to just cut the block in half for 1 cup at a time.  What baked good wouldn't taste better with an extra 1/8 cup of butter?   ;D

We don't seem to use deciliters in Canada.  It is 250 mL, not 25 deciliters in most recipes.
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EngineerChick

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Re: imperial measurements
« Reply #37 on: August 06, 2011, 10:10:55 PM »
And also out of curiosity why would you measure flour in decilitres? It's not a liquid so wouldn't it be best measured in grams?

Because apart from maybe meat, vegetables and such and butter, everything is listed by volume even though it would make more sense to do it by weight as it's more accurate. I guess Finns just don't have kitchen scales :)

Decilitres are very handy, when you're talking about amounts that aren't very large or very small. A recipe might call for 2 dl of sugar, it looks a lot better (to me) than 200 ml or 0,2 l. Pretty much everything that's over 10 ml and less than 1 l is done in deciliters, usually you just say desi and everyone knows you're talking about volume, even though, at least in theory, deci- can mean a ten of every measurement (I've never heard of decigrams used though).

I do much of my baking with American recipes (but with Finnish ingredients so the results aren't probably quite right but as I've never tasted the real things I don't mind it) and have a measuring cup for that. The recipes look rather different from Finnish ones, I think.

In case someone is interested, here's a recipe for "American cookies" (without the instructions which are pretty basic) given to me by a friend, I suspect that it was translated into Finnish at some point, so now I'll translate it back:

250g margariinia (pehmeää) margarine (soft) *
2dl sokeria sugar
2dl fariinisokeria brown sugar **
1tl vaniliinisokeria vanillin sugar ***

2 kananmunaa eggs

5,75dl vehnäjauhoja wheat flour ****
1tl soodaa baking soda
1tl suolaa  salt

5dl suklaata pilkottuna chopped chocolate *****

*Margarine and butter are sold either in plastic tubs with no measurements in them or for baking as blocks wrapped in paper with measurements, but not in sticks.
** This is the type of brown sugar that's white sugar mixed with molasses
*** Vanilla is almost always mixed with sugar here, not an extract. Vanillin is artificial vanilla that is quite vile, I like to use real vanilla but it's quite expensive to find some that's not mixed with vanillin. tl = tea spoon
**** This measurement makes me think that this recipe was originally translated, as that's a bit strange. Measuring flour by volume is so inexact anyway that for most people it wouldn't probably matter  if they used 6 dl instead of 5,75. 
***** Readymade chocolate chips don't exist here or at least I've never encountered them so you have to chop the chocolate yourself. My friend used Swedish milk chocolate that has pieces of a Daim bar in it, it was surprisingly good.

I'd have to do the math to see how exactly it converts back, but except for wheat flour instead of white flour, it looks like a standard chocolate chip cookie recipe to me.  (With the other difference you noted of vanilla sugar instead of vanilla extract.)

Engineering equations that need to be done with the initial description in Imperial and the results in metric (or vice versa) are always fun.  A few rounds of this, and you start to realize that stoichiometry is your friend.  (At least the part where you are canceling out units.)

A few measures that haven't been mentioned yet:  Btu (British Thermal Unit), Newtons, Joules, pounds-mass, degrees Rankin, and degrees Kelvin.  Of course, there are also the aviation/naval units of nautical miles and knots (nautical miles per hour).   ;D
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HorseFreak

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Re: imperial measurements
« Reply #38 on: August 06, 2011, 10:14:58 PM »
In veterinary medicine in the US we often see a combination of pounds and kilograms. That can be incredibly confusing, especially when they're used in the same book chapter! 1 mg/kg and 1 mg/lb can be a life-threatening difference in dose. I do 99% of my work in metric, but I still can't think in kg when I look at an animal to eyeball its weight; I have to think in pounds and convert.

I have an American car that was designed for the European market and sold here a few years later. It has a 13.1 gallon gas tank, but the liters work out to an even number. :)

Ligeia

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Re: imperial measurements
« Reply #39 on: August 07, 2011, 12:22:09 AM »
But my aforementioned cookery book is my Grandma's recipies!  Y'all will have to bite the bullet sooner or later...  (Though if you do go metric, thinking in pounds and pints and so forth will persist for quite a while.  Oh - beer is still sold in pints.)

You'd think so--but what will it take?!  As I and some others have said, generations of us have been told to get ready for the Big Conversion . . . and it just refuses to happen.  And that's so funny to me.  I've actually been thinking about this, and I've decided it's going to require pervasive government intervention or something. We're familiar with the metric system, we just refuse to use it in our everyday lives; we apparently can't do it if we still think in imperial.  In order to change that, we're going to have to be issued new measuring cups, and/or the government will have to institute a cash-for-clunkers program to make us turn in our old ones.  Because a lot of products in the US already display the metric measurements, we're going to need legislation to stop manufacturers from printing the imperial ones alongside them (as they do now).  Cookbooks will have to be reissued.  Perhaps there will be free classes to help train us to estimate distances and weights in metric.  And in addition to millions of the highway signs, some agency will have to be responsible for moving all the mile markers on the roughly 47,000 miles of the interstate highway system to convert them to kilometers.  And then there are all the little things that will have to change; for some reason I keep thinking about the depth markers in public swimming pools.  A lot of repainting going on.

Yeah, none of it is going to happen any time soon!  And yeah, I'm sure other countries haven't had to resort to all those measures to get people to stop using the imperial system.  But I can't think of anything else that will effect the change.  Because science and science industries converted long ago (for the most part), I think most people assume it doesn't really matter any more.  With the advent of the internet and smart phones, you can convert in 2 seconds without having to, you know, do math in your head!  I wonder if they still tell elementary-school kids that Conversion is Imminent?

Quote
***** Readymade chocolate chips don't exist here or at least I've never encountered them so you have to chop the chocolate yourself. My friend used Swedish milk chocolate that has pieces of a Daim bar in it, it was surprisingly good.

The Daim bar does sound good--it's apparently like a Heath or Skor bar in the US.  I was about to say that it's a sad thing that you can't get chocolate chips in Finland, but actually, chopped chocolate would probably be better.  That looks like the chocolate-chip cookie recipe I've always used!

Ereine

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Re: imperial measurements
« Reply #40 on: August 07, 2011, 10:16:10 AM »
We don't seem to use deciliters in Canada.  It is 250 mL, not 25 deciliters in most recipes.

It wouldn't be 25 deciliters for us either, as 250 ml is only 2,5 dl (there's the centiliter between ml and dl) :P But we almost never use deciliters for amounts larger than 1 liter. For some reason we like to make the number as small as possible so instead of saying 250 ml we say 2,5 dl and instead of 25 dl it's always 2,5 l. Milliliters don't get used much, there's tea and table spoons for the small amounts, centiliters are only used for alcohol (someone will order 16 cl of wine for example) and I've never heard anyone talk of dekaliters (for example last autumn I bought one dekaliter of lingonberries from the market. That looks very strange) or kiloliters.  For length decimeter isn't used, only milli-,  centi- and kilometer and for weights grams and kilograms. I think that we're supposed to use Joules for energy but nobody does. For some reason jeans sizes are measured in inches, I guess it's because jeans are so American, even when they're made in Finland.

There's an old Finnish measurement that's quite fun, called peninkulma, which is about 10 km. Peni is an old word for dog and one explanation says that that's the longest distance you can hear a dog bark. According to Wikipedia it may also refer to the distance a dog can pull a load. Wikipedia also tells me that USA, Myanmar and Liberia are the only countries that haven't adopted the SI, the International System of Units.

Kikki

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Re: imperial measurements
« Reply #41 on: August 07, 2011, 01:31:22 PM »
Decimeters (10 cm or roughly 4") is used in Sweden, how interesting that it's not used in Finland. Most other things Ereine have written about use in Finland are true for Sweden as well.

For ordinary homebaking we usually measure the ingredients by volume but if you want to be serious about it you go by weight instead. I have a digital kitchen scale that I use quite a lot, both for cooking and baking.
I think the only substance that is never measured by volume is butter. You buy it in blocks wrapped in paper with 25gr stripes printed so you can just cut off how much you need. I usually weigh it though.

As a Swede I would never order 16cl of wine, I'd just order a glass. But I would order 6cl of vodka or buy a 75cl bottle of gin. As in Finland centliters is mostly used for alcohol, and for some reason soda and beer cans and bottles.

We also use the measurement peninkulma in Sweden, only the Swedish word for it is "mil" (same roots as the English word mile) which is 10 kilometers. So for me it's not roughly 300 kilometers to Oslo, it's roughly 30 mil.



Ereine

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Re: imperial measurements
« Reply #42 on: August 07, 2011, 01:41:42 PM »
We also use the measurement peninkulma in Sweden, only the Swedish word for it is "mil" (same roots as the English word mile) which is 10 kilometers. So for me it's not roughly 300 kilometers to Oslo, it's roughly 30 mil.

Peninkulma didn't used to be 10 km, it was something like 6 according to Wikipedia, but when the measurements became more official and the same in the whole country (Finland being just the eastern part of Sweden) peninkulma was made to be the same as mil.

There's also an old measurement used by reindeer herders in Lapland (who are the indigenous people of the area): the distance a reindeer travels without peeing. I've never been sure if it's a joke or not, but I guess that when the reindeer is your transportation that's important.

sparksals

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Re: imperial measurements
« Reply #43 on: August 08, 2011, 12:32:44 PM »
The differing uses of metric is fascinating!  I find it funny cuz when it was rammed down our throats in canada --- errrrr introduced, the reasoning was to be standardized with the rest of the world.  Interesting how metric countries use it differently!

On another note, I think the US is the only place to pronounce 'Z' as ZEE whereas the rest of the english world pronounces it ZED. 

CakeEater

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Re: imperial measurements
« Reply #44 on: August 09, 2011, 06:13:45 AM »
I think a deciliter would be a very useful measurement. A mL is so tiny!

Australian here. Reading US recipes, I was trying to work out how on earth they measure butter by the cup. I was imagining people softening the butter, and squashing it into the cup and trying to wash it afterwards. What do you do if you use a bit more or less than the exact amount on the paper?

Thank goodness for google telling me how many grams a stick of butter weighs.

As others have mentioned, most people here still give babies' birthweights in pounds. I actually had no idea that there were 16 ounces in a pound until my second was born at 9lb15. 15? I was sure there were 12 ounces in a pound. I must never have come across a baby born at more than 11 ounces.  ::)