Saturday, November 27, 2004

Fahrenheit to Celsius

Canada uses the metric system of measurement. That means when your American friends ask you, "What does gas cost there?" you first have to convert litres to gallons, and then convert Canadian dollars to American dollars.

I ride a bike, and now I can finally think in terms of kilometres rather than miles. When my mother came to visit, I ordered 200 grams of turkey from the deli counter, and I think she was actually shocked. If you want to blend in with the locals, you have to make all kinds of conversions in your head. It takes some getting used to.

By far the strangest mental adjustment for me is not distance or volume but temperature. What do you wear when it's 28 degrees outside? If you're here, the answer is shorts and a t-shirt, because 28 Celsius is 82 Fahrenheit.

All the weather reports are in Celsius. In fact, we get the Seattle television network affiliates, and one of them gives the weather in Victoria, BC along with the Seattle area weather. Everything is in Fahrenheit except Victoria, which is in Celsius. Everything is in the 40's except Victoria, where it's 4.

For the longest time, I would listen to the weather forecast on the radio and have no idea what was in store. Then I found a trick. There are temperature palindromes!

16 degrees Celsius is 61 degrees Fahrenheit.
28 degrees Celsius is 82 degrees Fahrenheit.
04 degrees Celsius is 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
-11 degrees Celsius is 11 degrees Fahrenheit.

And I hope you'll never need to know that where the scales meet is -40 degrees. -40 is -40 no matter how you look at it.

Now of course this is Canada, eh? So although everything is supposed to be metric, you will find some things that just aren't, and you'll find some people who were pretty well grown before the supposed conversion took place just don't think metric. So while you wouldn't find people here ordering a quarter pound of turkey at a deli counter, in the meat section you'll find turkeys organized by "under 10 lbs" and "over 10 lbs." Go figure.


Anonymous said...

You can also use the rule of 10 and 18.
Ten of these is the same as 18 of those.

0 celsius is 32 farenheit
10 celsius is 50 farenheit
20 celsius is 68 farenheit
30 celsius is 86 farenheit

and if it's much hotter or colder then you gotta move!

Katharine said...

Thanks for the palindromes! That is so helpful. My European husband and I are moving from Brussels to Hong Kong with a radically different temperature scale so I need to re-figure. I was about to break down and ask for a US outdoor thermometer with Imperial and Metric on it.

catester said...

Thanks for the kind words. You should be fine with just Fahrenheit and Celsius for temperature --- Imperial not a factor. But good luck figuring out the price of gas. Maybe just take cabs. ;-)

Damon JA Blais said...

I dont know, gas cost sucks no matter what.

Lets see... 1.18 per litre... and a gallon is 4l... so... 4.72 CAD... and in USD thats.... AHHAHAHA

4.72 Canadian dollars = 4.47733064 U.S. dollars


Lisa said...

THANK YOU!! Now when my friends/family back in the US ask me about the differences in Canada, I immediately send them to your blog and tell them to read till their hearts are content. You have saved me lots of time!! Thanks again!!

And I love the palindromes. That will be very helpful...

catester said...

Thanks, Lisa!

Anonymous said...

We do use the metric system for almost everthing....but not heights! When people ask me how tall I am, I answer 5'9 and not 1.74 metres.