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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - November 29, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta District JHe Lethbridge Herald Second Section Lethbridge, Alberta, Friday, November 29, 1974 Pages 17-32 Metric mayhem may result as Canada converts By MICHAEL ROGERS 'Herald Staff Writer It was high noon 37.8 Celsius in the shade as Dillon faced the gunfighter on the hot, dusty street of Dodge City. "If you're not out of town by sundown, you're gonna be 1.82 metres said the lawman as he adjusted his 46.375 litre hat. The two men stood there, close to 10 metres apart. Then, the gunfighter drew his revolver. But Dillon was faster. The marshall fired twice with his 11.43 millimetre revolver and the gunfighter spun around and fell to the ground. That little scene may sound rather funny but as Canada prepares to "go future television programs could sound just like that. The changes are already taking place take for in- stance, the can of soda pop you buy from the machine down the hall. Right now there are two measures printed on the container, 10 fluid ounces and 284 millilitres. SOME THERMOMETERS ARE ALREADY CONVERTED Centimeter blocks teach measure Educational play kits stressing metric measure are being constructed by a Lethbridge grandfather. Peter Den Hoed, 70, of 2719 21st Ave. S., has worked more than 200 hours since last April when he started building metric blocks, dowels, wedges and laminated sheets from wood. With 31 kits ready, Mr. Den Hoed says a number of elementary schools have expressed interest in them. While primarily designed for first grade students, "anyone can have fun with them." A tradesman for 50 years, Mr. Den Hoed is building the metric blocks out of firewood at a home workshop. By recognizing various sized blocks, it is hoped the school children will be able to handle the metric conversion more easily. The blocks range in size from eight cen- timeter cubes to two by four by eight cen- timeter rectangles to two by four by eight centimeter wedges to four cen- timeter diameter dowels 16 centimeters long. The Canadian government plans to totally convert to the metric system by 1980. The government has even set up a metric commission to help reach that goal. Pounds, inches, miles, quarts, and other weights and measures of the imperial system will be replaced by the international system of units, a refined metric system, often abbreviated SI for System International. Though it might be easy for one person to convince himself the metric system is simple, the metric commis- sion has the task of convincing all the Canadians of the simplicity and exactness of metrics. The metric system has seven basic units, all interrelated and based on the number 10. All numbers are modified by 10 and you simply move decimals. Sound easy? However, it's difficult to get by a nagging statement made by a Montreal educator, who said anyone beyond Grade 5 will never fully adjust to the metric system. GENERATION NEEDED I Stevenson Gossage, chairman of the Metric Com- mission, thinks it will take a generation to be really com- fortable with metrics. "With children being educated in metrics from the primary grades, it will probably take 20 to 25 Mr. Gossage said. The Roads and Transporta- tion Association of Canada said recently that although some provinces are a few steps ahead of others, progress reports on metrica- tion of the nation's road system recently submitted to the association indicate none are running behind schedule. That's right. Total conver- sion to the metric system includes those road signs that tell how many miles you are away from your destination. An Alberta department of highways official said all provincial government departments will begin converting to metrics in the fall of 1977. For a while at least, the road and speed signs will be in both miles and kilometres, as well as" a dual system on road maps. "It may happen sooner than the fall of the official said, "but before it does, the provincial government hopes to have a public awareness program under way." SOME SIGNS UP Three other provinces, On- tario, Quebec and New Brunswick, have already erected a number of metric distance signs as public awareness projects Across the country, the greater part of the process will consist of converting traf- fic signs and following through on directly related matters such as public educa- tion programs, including production of metric driver manuals, highway maps and speedometer conversion stickers. This will cost an estimated million in Ontario, calculated on the basis of per vehicle on the road. No national figures have as yet been established. Prior to widespread erec- tion of metric legislation to uphold speeding and other convictions in court. Other aspects of the road metrication program in Alberta as well as the other provinces, less apparent to the public, consist of studies on metric survey practices, conversion of geometric design, drainage, bridge and pavement standards and adop- tion of the system for agency in house specifications and contract documents. CHEAPER Last month in Edmonton. R. L. Hennesey, executive direc- tor of the Standards Council of Canada, said savings from conversion to the metric system may outweigh the costs. Many companies are com- plaining about the cost of converting but Mr. Hennesey said it might be realized that by 1980 "most companies will have to convert to some new system anyway just to pre- vent obsolescence." Don Chutter of the Canadian Construction Association said builders will welcome metrication. It will simplify design calculations and enable in- dustry to implement modular dimensions so different building materials can fit more easily together. A check around Lethbridge revealed that everyone knows the metric conversion is com- ing and while some local firms have already made some changes, others haven't even begun to prepare for the conversion. Ed Gingrich, a spokesman for Draco Excavating in Lethbridge, said his company hasn't received any informa- tion on the conversion, although they know the change is coming. "We will have to have a cross reference for various tools, bolts, and other pieces for repairing the older machines for some Mr. Gingrich said. He added Draco will probably begin training employees to take measurements in metric and also to repair machinery, "but I don't know when that will happen." A spokesman for Varzari Iron in Lethbridge said the Americans don't want to change, "why don't we do the same? Just forget about it." Whether or not the United States officially goes metric is really unimportant. Major U.S. industries, from General Motors dqwn, already have committed themselves to conversion. GM's new rotary engine, scheduled for introduction in Chevrolet Vegas during the 1975 model run, will have metric dimen- sions. Ford's new Mustang II is powered by a 2.3 litre engine, the first metric engine to be mass produced in North America. Other U.S cars, notably the Pontiac Astre, already use kilometres per hour along with miles per hour REASONS COMPELLING The reasons for Canada go- ing metric are compelling. According to the Metric Com- mission in Ottawa, 80 per cent of world trade is conducted in the metric system and 95 per cent of the world's population uses or is adopting the metric system. It has been estimated that Canada loses between million and million a year in foreign trade because it has not yet converted to metric. Bill Desbarres, ad- ministrator for Cameo Agricultural Investments in Lethbridge, said, "When you deal, you deal in whatever terms are most profitable." "I would be quite surprised if a private enterprise lost money The only people who lose are government people who are too dumb to Mr. Debarres commented. He said if a private com- pany is dealing with a foreign country that uses the metric system, that private company will also use the metric system "There is really no difference in exactness. You are just talking the same he said. GOVERNMENT LOSES TRADE He said much of Canada's lost food is handled by the federal and provincial governments but "if it was left up to private companies it would be worked out." .Lethbridge's branch of Canada Packers has been marking their packages in pounds and kilograms for about six months. A spokesman for Canbra Foods in Lethbridge said some of their products, such as salad dressing, salad oils, margarine and other products in boxes, cans and bottles, show the metric equivalent. But he said it will be some time before al! their products at least show the metric equivalent because some package designs and sizes will have to be changed and new packaging machinery will have to be brought in. The general corporate plans manager for Alberta Govern- ment Telephones. A. C. "Gibb" Gibbard foresees that the metric conversion as it relates to ACT, will be gradual and a lengthy process. "AGT's main metric conversion effort will be inter- nal and will include the conversion of records and the training of Mr Gibbard said. In relation to suppliers of telecommunication equip- ment, he said he can see where the manufacturers will encounter huge problems in maintaining compatibility with existing equipment for many years to come. But. he said, AGT's conver- sion will not affect the public or other industries. As a result, "Canada goes metric" is slowly becoming a reality and it won't be long before everything the average person comes in contact with will be measured, weighed or whatever, in the metric system Your letters will be weighed in grams instead of ounces, the beer and liquor will be measured in millilitres instead of ounces and even the weatherman will confuse you. telling you the low for tonight will be three degrees Celsius. METRIC DAY April 1. 1975 is metric day for temperatures in Canada, the day when all temperatures will be given in metric units. What's this Celsius you say' Celsius will replace Cen- tigrade as the term for measuring temperature in the new International System Anders Celsius, a Swedish astronomer born in 1701, invented a thermometer divided into fixed points between boiling water (100 degrees) and freezing (0 It may replace the ther- mometer of Gabriel Daniel Fahrenheit. Actually, Celsius' thermometer read 100 degrees for freezing water and 0 degrees for boiling water. It was reversed six years after his death. A white paper in 1970 on metric conversion said "The eventual adoption in Canadian usage of a single coherent measurement system based on metric units should be acknowledged as inevitable and in the national interest." MAKES BAD POETRY The national interest is fine, but what will happen to our entertainment songs like. Has Anybody Seen My Gal, with the line five foot two. eyes of blue: 26 miles Across The Sea: and Big Bad John, who stood six-foot-six. Al Jolson would never have made it had he sang Mammy. "I'd travel 1.6 million kilometres for one of your smiles.'' What will happen to those sayings like "Give him an inch and he'll take a mile." Are they destined for oblivion? And what pride can a Southern Alberta farmer take in his rolling wheat fields of hectares, or when he dis- covers his crop yield is 2 2 metric tons per hectare? Do you run out of gas 10 miles out of Lethbridge because you can't figure out. although you've tried and tried, how many miles er, kilometres your car gets to the gallon, er. litre? PETER DEN HOED SHOWS GRANDCHILDREN ISABEL 5, LEFT. AND LINDA, 3, METRIC BLOCKS AND DOWELS HE MADE TO TEACH THE NEW SIZES OF THINGS. Weathermen adopt 4foreign language' Turn on the six o'clock news and weather television broad- cast on April listen carefully to what the weatherman has to say. Do you grab the golf clubs and head for the course, or does his forecast mean over shoes and warm clothes? It might lake a while, but you'll catch on. "Forecast for Lethbridge: Tommorrow will be clear. Winds west 26 knots with gusts to 43 knots. Highs about 16 Celsius. Lows tonight near 4. Saturday: Mostly sunny. Cooler, with highs 12 to 14 Celsius." Got that? But wait, there's more. Visibility, now reported in miles, will be in kilometers; rain, now in lOOths of inches, in millimeters and snow, in centimeters. Barometric pressure will remain, for a while, in inches and sea level pressure, now in millibars, will be recorded in hec- topascals hecto what? One official at Kenyon Field weather office wasn't too sure what a hectopascal meant, but said by the time April 1 arrives "we'll know exactly what it means." A search through a number of dictionaries and a few well placed telephone calls to the University of Lethbridge brought this answer: a hecto is a hundredth of a metric unit and pascal comes from Blaise Pascal. 1623-16621 French mathemati- cian and philosopher. One heclopascal equals one millibar one millibar equals 103 dynes per centimeter squared equals pascals, which equals one heclopascal. Did you gel all thaf Nol to worry, though. When metric conversion really starts to roll a kilometer a minute there will be an indoctrination period as the weatherman will be giving the present system's equivalent in metric terms. Canadian Press, which sends weather reports daily to media across the country, receives reports from weathermen and, as one CP official said, "either the weather office or we will be giving the equivalent." Lethbndge residents eager to understand metric weather reports will find local hardware stores already stocking outdoor thermometers with both Celsius and Fahrenheit readings But hang on to that simple Fahrenheit thermometer on your front porch it may become a valuable collectors item some day Metric math: 'simple and quick9 Why go metric? one could say the reason is because 95 per cent of the world uses the metric system and about 80 per cent of world trade is done in metrics. Another reason could be that metrics are easier and more ef- ficient and besides, the federal government wants it that way. Reasons like that don't necessarily help the average person accept conversion to metrics in Canada, just like telling a child a certain kind of vegetable is good for him doesn't always mean he wsli dive blind- ly into his plate and eat the greens. But tell parents the metric system could bring' "unit pricing" which could lower the cost of food That might make Shcm stand up and listen That's just what Dr. Sidney Lindstedt. metnc consultant for the department of education, told Lethbridge parents Thursday night at Catholic Central High School as he explained the basics of metrics "By shifting the decimal place, it is much easier to change different units of length." Dr. Lindstedt explained For consumers, he said, the metric system could be a blessing to the pocketbook. The retail trade will be able to simplify and standar- dize their packaging. "Right now. soap is sold in 28 different sizes. Toothpaste, now sold in metnc volames, comes in three sires 50. 100 and 150 the professor said Changing to metric and standardizing packaging, he com- mented, means there will be a better chance to get unit pricing and goods won't cost as much as they do now. "We've never had unit pricing. Its too ex- pensive now because there are too many different units to price." Dr. Lindstedt explained He gave three metnc terms people should remember The is 3 unit of length, the litre, a unit of capacity and the gram, which ss a unit of weight ;