Translating measurements

We both learned the metric system in school.  I remember my science teachers telling us that sooner or later the American measurement system would be no more…so we’d better pay attention and learn this better, er superior, system of measurement.  I’d dutifully go home and tell my parents how we needed to get prepared for metric.  I’d repeat my teachers’ rants on how inefficient our American measurement system was using my own generated passion.  They would mostly just listen, smile.

My dad would take the opportunity to jokingly lecture me on how if we changed to metric, our song lyrics would get messed up.   He’d say, “How lyrical is kilometer in comparison to miles?”  Then he’d tool through his mind’s filing cabinet, find a song in his head with the word miles in it, and start singing out a tune replacing miles with kilometers laughing hysterically to himself even if I was not completely humored at that moment.

I learned it. I know how it works.  Yeah, yeah, base 10 and all that–so much more scientific, supposedly easier, more efficient, blah, blah, blah.  I didn’t listen well enough; now, I’m suffering.  It’s not that I don’t know that 0 degrees Celsius is the freezing point, and it’s not that I don’t think things like that are oh so practical.  I just still can’t quite feel how far 20 kilometers is, or feel how hot 40 degrees Celsius is…or feel how heavy 50 kg is. So, what do I do instead?  I translate it in my head…or use my handy-dandy converter on my cell phone.  Still!  I thought I’d catch on during this year in Kenya.  Nearly everyone we work with speaks of measurements in metric.  I wish I got it.  I even spent time studying the conversions trying to make myself get it!  I’m only at sorta get it and not at feel it, yet.

The US is the only industrialized nation in the world that still uses a measurement system other than the metric system for most of it’s measurements.  Pretty much everyone else uses metric most of the time.

Here in Kenya everything is metric:
* I buy 500 g of beef mince (translation: about 1 lb of hamburger).
* I set the cooker to 175 C to bake a cake (translation: oven on 350 F).
* We travel 13 km from our home to our church (translation: about 8 miles).

I never realized how ingrained the American measurement system was — in my psyche!  My teachers didn’t do enough to keep me from being emotionally attached.  I’ll get it, maybe even feel it… eventually. But, I agree with my dad–metric isn’t very lyrical.

From I’m Gonna Be by the Proclaimers
Translated into metric for your singing pleasure

But I would walk 804.67 kilometers
And I would walk 804.67 more
Just to be the man who walked 1609.344 kilometers
To fall down at your door

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Getting shot, getting viruses

We’ve been poked and pierced multiple times during the last year to prepare for our departure to Kenya. I’ve had my vaccinations over time for various trips. All of Jeff’s vaccines had expired, so he needed to get everything:

  • Hepatitis A (2 shots)
  • Hepatitis B (3 shots)
  • Polio booster
  • Tetanus/Diphtheria
  • Yellow Fever
  • Meningitis

…and one left…Typhoid. Talk about your toxic recipes. This is a scary looking list! We don’t deal with these illnesses as much in the US, but they come up every so often. I’m glad to be vaccinated–thank God for vaccinations! But, I digress.

OK, so Jeff had only one vaccination left, and this one is not a shot. All the shots are dead viruses, but the typhoid vaccine is a live virus that comes in pill form. It’s taken once every other day over an eight day period. We have thirteen days left…not much time.

The challenge today was trying to find a pharmacy that could order the vaccine or understand what I was talking about. I know, I know…typhoid isn’t something that’s ordered everyday at the pharmacy. So, when I called asking, “Hey do you have any typhoid,” I got some confused responses. OK, I didn’t really say it like that. I was good and asked for the oral typhoid vaccine, but that was also met with confusion. I had more luck once I googled the vaccine to find it’s brand name. AH! That was the key :).

New call: “Hello, do you carry Vivotif Berna? Yes? Great!” Note to self, when calling in unsual prescriptions, use the name brand. Check. Will know that for the next time.

We’re getting typhoid, er, the oral typhoid vaccine known by the brand name Vivotif Berna which really is a live virus, tomorrow. Whew, glad we’re getting it in time for him to finish before we leave.

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The Stealth Cat

We love this video; it really cracked us up!

We have a special affinity for cats. For about three years we had two cats (Sweetie & Luka) that kept us entertained. Sweetie passed away almost two years ago. We gave Luka away about a year ago to a friend’s mother. He was a very friendly and affectionate cat, so we’re sure he’s good company for his new owner.

Not being able to have a cat is one difficult part of being transient. We may or may not be able to have a pet in Nairobi, depending on where we live.

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