Attaboy.ca

Over There (in the UK)

June 20, 2001 at 5 PM

Kilometreage

Every few years, someone in the US or Britain says, “Hey, we really oughta go metric!” Begone, miles! Toodles, ounces and pounds! Gallons: goodbye! Then everyone else laughs and goes on their merry, Imperially-measured way.

Canada, on the other hand, has been sensibly metric for 30 years or so, joining pretty much everyone else in the world besides those two rebel states. Except old habits die hard. Millions of people born before 1970 said the old system worked just fine, and their opinions rubbed off on the next generation, and the generation after that, and...well, tell someone in Ontario that your height is 1.79 m and they’ll scratch their head for a moment, look uneasily to the side, and then say, “So what’s that, like 5'10"?”

Canada is a nation of inconsistency. Canadians buy gasoline in litres but refer to their cars’ mileage. We buy pounds of butter (that’s 454 g), but kilograms of flour. Order pints of beer, but drink litres of milk.

And it’s all very amusing for visitors from France, at least until...

* * *

You are my cousin and closest childhood friend, Patrick, and you’re diving into the deep end of the swimming pool, marked ‘4 1/2’ — and only after, were you conscious, would you have realized it was feet, not metres.

Patrick, who I hope will read this (and doesn’t mind me airing his life out here) was injured as you hope no one ever is; one of his vertebrae was fractured, his neck was severely twisted, and he is now in the hospital with various metal things bravely holding various body things together.

In one of the few instances in which the word ‘miracle’ can really be used without hyperbole, the doctors say Patrick will make a full recovery. On the other hand — and we don’t like to dwell on this, but how can we not? — one vertebra broken above or below would apparently have meant either certain death or total paralysis. Miraculous indeed.

I’m incredibly relieved to hear this amazing news, far away as I may be from my cousin. Patrick, I’d like you to know I’m thinking of you, and willing all my strength to you (which is, after all, usually wasted on computer keyboards and mice). I offer you all the support I can from over here. Thankfully, I will see you in less than a month when I come back to Vancouver, though that hardly seems soon enough.

Comments

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Previously: The Nerdly Activities Report, June 2001

Subsequently: Hyperliens

June 2001
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