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Maree’s musings

April 12, 2021 April 2021 No Comments

CONVERSION CONFUSION

  There’s been stories recently about a new currency called ‘non-fungible tokens’. I don’t understand them, but they reminded me of NZ’s changeover to decimal currency, back in 1967. I was a very poor student living in Dunedin (yes, I came back) at the time, so cash of any variety was limited.

Being suspicious of change is part of the human condition, but when we realised nobody suddenly became super-rich, which would have been nice, or in the conversion confusion believed their biscuit tin cash stash was now worthless so went in the trash, we came to our senses and relaxed. It was still confusing though. 12d was worth a shilling (twenty to a pound). A single penny was worth 5/6th of a cent. We gave up on farthings, florins and half-crowns and spent them. Cents made more sense once you stopped trying to calculate how many to the pound. 

The problem was compounded by the fact that we weighed in pounds as well. Strangely, not ten or twelve, but fourteen were required to make a stone – a weird word choice here, although, to be fair, it does sound better than ‘rock’. However, neither is useful for a biggish bag of spuds and asking the greengrocer for ‘a stone of potatoes’ would go down like a ton of bricks. In more simple times, we just got them by the sack, which like the flourbag and kerosene tin, was put to good use afterwards. They weren’t called the ‘Sugarbag years’ for nothing.

Talking of sugar – it’s become the bane of all nutritionists. Our recommended daily  consumption, measured in teaspoons [five grams, unless you cheat] brings heaps of uncertainty. Sugar is everywhere and in everything, and eating lots is sure to pack on those pounds. Other culinary confusions still abound. In the olden days, the staples: a pound of butter, a pint of milk, a dozen eggs, and maybe a half gallon of beer or a bottle of wine didn’t require a diploma in arithmetic for your shopping trip. Chocolate was frequently included. You got a block, a cake, a bar or (joy!) a box. Bugger the weight – on both counts. How does downing a 100g wedge of Whittakers turn into a kilo of flab? Another confusing conversion. Weight loss can be a worry. Is shedding a few kilos better than losing half a stone? It’s hard yards either way, anyway. 

Many other measurements remain confusing. Planes still fly at 33000 feet, give or take. It’s a long way down, anyway. Rain comes in inches, but not feet or yards. Horrors! Imagine a yard of rain. Rivers flood in metres though, so they’ve caught up with the flow.  Small hailstones are termed [frozen] pea-sized. Sadly nowadays with weather-wrecking climate change they pelt down as golfballs. I shudder to think what game those weather chaps will be playing next. Tennis, maybe?

And finally, converting my musings into words can be very confusing indeed! Hopefully it’s all clear to you.

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