Thursday, 7 September 2017

On a scale of one to ten

Quite amusing to see my wife and one of my daughters all excited to see this arrive today.

It is a Marsden M-125 Column Scale, an entry level medical scale as you might see in a doctor's surgery.

We got a previous scale from them something like 10 years ago, maybe longer, and my wife, and four daughters, all used it. It finally died this week.

Apart from being accurate, it is also easy to use, and to see the display whilst using it. It lives in the hallway, and gets used all the time by weight conscious women in this household on a regular basis. It even gets used to weight suit cases before going on holiday.

Yes it is overkill, but they like it.

You do, however, have to convince Marsden's to ship one set up to allow units setting for Stone/Pounds, as normally medical scales are sensibly locked to kg only. At least you can choose the units you want though.

Slight side track - I started this "On a scale of one to ten", so I should really finish with "I give it a ten" or something. It is a good scale. But I know someone, who shall not be named, that says this on a frequent basis, starting a sentence with "on a scale of one to ten", then just describes something. There is no punch line. No "... I give it a 5", or anything like that. You are just left hanging like an unclosed bracket. Drives me nuts :-)

13 comments:

  1. Go on then, I'll bite... It's 2017 - why on earth would anybody want or need to measure in stones/pounds?

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    1. Because my wife was born last millennium :-)

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    2. I only understand human's weight in stones. I am 37. But I understand the weight of a package or box in kg.

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    3. I too can relate to body weight only in stones and pounds. I think it's down to how one first started thinking about it.

      For a very long time, hot weather in this country was described in Fahrenheit, whilst cold weather was in Centigrade - I suspect because both sounded more impressive. Personally, my first exposure to serious hot weather was in Australia, so I only really relate to it in Centigrade. (Not happy with the switch to calling it Celsius either, because Celsius's scale was the other way around. One does have to bear in mind though that Fahrenheit's scale is a centigrade one.)

      When cooking I sometimes use pounds and ounces and sometimes grams. Some of my own home-concocted recipes use a mixture.

      Try telling a female friend the weight of a new baby in grams/kg and see how much comprehension you get. Babies still come in pounds and ounces, just like eggs come in sixes.

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    4. When my daughter was born I wound everyone up by only giving her weight in kgs, as I don't care about the old imperial measures, and am rather too used to kgs for weight. I was brought up on kgs and plan on continuing to do so. I'm 30.

      (I've a vague idea of the imperial measures, however having no interest in them I do whatever I can to avoid them).

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    5. Yep... humans are measured in stones, dogs in kilograms. Room or warm outside temperature in Fahrenheit, but in winter outdoor is in Celsius for outdoor temperatures as proximity to freezing... now the temperature of the fridge, a cup of tea or the oven those be Celsius... now that has to be better than Gas Mark which for all I know could frankly mean anything... is the sun about gas mark 15

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  2. I weigh 13st 2lbs, or I do when I'm not carrying extra weight from a holiday. I understand kg perfectly well, but I haven't internalised what the numbers mean. My mum weighs under 8 stone, I know this is light even for a 5'3" woman. In kg I have no idea what numbers are light and what heavy for people of various heights.

    How do you measure fuel consumption of your car? I suspect mpg, because that's how the industry quotes it in the UK.

    Farenheit on the other hand I have no truck with. I only know what the numbers mean in Centigrade.

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    1. On Farenheit, I'm confused why BBC Radio Suffolk report it in the weather forecasts. It's the only place in the UK/Europe I know of that reports it in both Centigrade and Farenheit.

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    2. It's hard to go metric - as you say, we've been brought up to know that 8st is underweight and 25st morbidly obese! The only way I'm doing it is to force myself (not that it requires much force - it makes everything so much easier). My car is set to km for the odometer, satnav and digital speedometer (I can't change the analogue speedometer) and the fuel consumption is l/100km. To be fair though, I do do a fair bit of driving in France/Belgium/Germany, so it does make sense.
      The thing which I just can't get my head around is when somebody says "I'll be using st/lb/oz or miles/feet/inches because I don't understand metric." For heaven's sake, they're just numbers - it's just that metric numbers are far easier to deal with and make much more sense!

      I challenge anybody to watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r7x-RGfd0Yk and then say "you know what, this makes perfect sense".

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    3. As a maths teacher, I have to say that there are arguments both way in the metric/imperial units debate.

      Yes, the basic arithmetic of the metric system is simpler (because it happens to use the same base as our normal counting system) and the rules can be expressed far more concisely (x1000 or /1000 to go up or down by a unit size), but that isn't everything.

      For the academically able student, the metric system is easily grasped, and they're swiftly playing with powers of 10 and concepts like pico-parsecs. For the less gifted student, it can rapidly become a sea of zeroes, with no human-sized units on which to base your judgement. If you're happy zooming up and down the powers-of-ten scale then it's fine; if not then it's a bit of a nightmare. Here the imperial system wins out, because it has units related to everyday human experience.

      The weakest unit of the metric system is the measure of length. Metres are fine, being very close to the traditional yard, and easily related to a human measurement - the pace. The next one down however - the millimetre - is far from being easy to conceptualize. All one can really pick up on is that it's small, and you absolutely need to turn it into something else in order to be able to visualize a measurement like 321mm.

      The cm is an attempt to address this by introducing a unit which, by the basic rules of the SI system simply shouldn't be there.

      On balance, I'd agree that the metric system is superior, but it's far from the clear-cut conclusion that some would like to pretend. Videos like the one which you quote are just being silly. There are quite a lot of advantages to the imperial system too.

      I was deeply surprised by a teaching assistant colleague last term who put forward as an argument for the metric system that it's "more accurate". There are a lot of misconceptions like this.

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    4. The mathematically incompetent will find a way to mess up. With imperial units, they get the actual maths wrong. With SI, they lose track of the powers, and get a plausible-looking number with a completely wrong order of magnitude.

      If you're not mathematically incompetent, it's very easy to be units-bilingual. I flip the car to km and l when driving in mainland Europe (so that it matches the distance and speed limit signs), but use miles and gallons when I'm at home. And of course there's the wonderful units(1) program for Unix - far more powerful than people give it credit for, it's my preferred command-line calculator now.

      We only still have pints in the UK because of 1984

      ‘'E could'a drawed me off a pint,' grumbled the old man as he settled down behind his glass. ‘A 'alf-litre ain't enough. It don't satisfy. And a 'ole litre's too much. It starts my bladder running. Let alone the price.'

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  3. Is there not something about the M.K.S.A system that you can derive every other unit from these basic four??

    Apologises if not,studied a long time ago :-)

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