April is an underrated candidate for best month of the year. It begins with the end of March Madness and Masters Weekend. Opening Day of the baseball season means fans across the nation can dream on their squad participating in the World Series and a summer spent sipping beers at the ballpark. The NBA and NHL regular calendars wind down and teams prepare for the postseason. Aside from all that, early spring is a beautiful time of year to call California home. I had an unexpected amount of time alone mixed in with an out-of-the-ordinary amount of work obligations. Let’s talk about it.
Meet the Parents: The folks visited the West Coast for an extended dance mix remix, their longest trip together to California. After an action-packed weekend in Colorado in February, it was my obligation to best show-off whatever I was working with. We dined out as a Party of Three at great spots like MB Post, Lola’s, and Walt’s Wharf, and of course made time for beer and pizza Sunday at Riley’s. (Please Note: Area Waitresses, please remember to bring limes for Dad’s draft light beer or risk suffering through an awkward, demeaning service experience.) Somehow we avoided falling asleep in our schooner of beer after touristy days that included golf in Palm Springs and a boat ride to Catalina. The highlight of the trip was seeing the Cubs open their championship season with a convincing victory in Anaheim. I am still a sucker for the romance of baseball, and nothing beats the introduction of the starting lineups, the unfurling of the giant American flag, and the startling flyover of a C-17 to officially initiate summer.
For Love of the Game: It’s baseball season and both Chicago teams are off to impressive starts. I do not root for the White Sox, but can appreciate when a team exceeds expectations. On the surface, the Sox didn’t seem to be an especially likable team with all sorts of bro’y personalities, but for one month it has held together. The Cubs have taken most of the spotlight in Chicago and across the country with their April domination. I was fortunate to have seen my side twice in Anaheim and hope to get home this summer to spectate a game at Wrigley. I’ve already seen games at Petco and Dodger Stadium this month, (PRO-TIP: When you buy prepaid parking for Dodger games, make sure you purchase for the day you’re actually going to the game.) and hope to cross another ballpark or two off the list in 2016. I’m looking at you San Francisco and Seattle…
Happy Gilmore: California is a place where I could play golf year round, but I elect to stow my clubs away for a few months to rest and recharge and save a few dollars. April was when my season began in earnest, making sure to not miss any weekend opportunity. I scored a deal too good to pass and played Trump National (Please Note: No politics are to be discussed in this space.) and ventured to Corona to some of my favorite canyon courses. But there was also three different work functions that broke me out of the office and forced me to be somewhat social. We mixed bad swings and metallurgical lingo and domestic beer and scrambled it all together to create some enjoyable industry time away from my desk.
Grown Ups: My oven doesn’t work, and you’ve heard me say that before. But my fridge crapped out too. It was freezing everything, then it was keeping everything slightly above room temperature/moldy. Whatever was inside after a recent grocery visit was tossed. While coordinating if/when any of these semi-important appliances would be repaired, I dined out for virtually ever meal. That wasn’t too far out of my California routine, but it would have been nice to mix in PBJ or grilled cheese once in April. I suppose my favorite Long Beach personality, Dry-Clean Christine must have noticed when she asked if I had lost weight since my last drop-off. She also said my dirty clothes smelled good. I think that’s a compliment.
I had a dream last night where I was an assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors. Steve Kerr had heard about my successes coaching suburban youth basketball and thought I was ready for the NBA. After some time on the job, Coach Kerr started to question my ability and thought I was too passive and quiet to handle NBA personalities. We were talking on the bench during game action when he called an impromptu time-out and demanded that I bark out instructions and motivation. Thankfully I woke up before melting under the pressure.
Lastly, the previous entry entitled Geared Up, was by far the most popular, most viewed post since I started LONG BEACH. Thanks to Jeans & Ties for asking me to write for the site and for steering traffic my direction. Each and every entry over there is well-written and informative and more interesting than anything recapped in this space. Bookmark J&T for West Coast lifestyle info. Perhaps if I ask nicely, I may be allowed to hijack his site again. The idea for this site is to publish more than once per month. I’ve got plenty to say in the next entry, but need to gather the courage and wherewithal to put my thoughts online. Stay tuned.
Why Hasn’t the U.S. Gone Metric?
Last September, the $123 million Mars Climate Orbiter was lost when it veered off course and burned up in the Martian atmosphere. Last week, NASA revealed the cause: One part of the orbiter’s navigation system was speaking in English units and another in metric. Why hasn’t the U.S. adopted the metric system?
The metric system originated in France in the late 17th century to combat rampant commercial fraud by farmers and shopkeepers who used the varied systems of weights and measures to their advantage. Scientists were also demanding a standardized system to facilitate international cooperation on research. While old systems seemed arbitrary, the new standardized system had an apparent basis in nature: The meter was defined as 1/10,000,000 of the distance between the equator and either pole (it has since been redefined in terms of the speed of light). It was also easier to remember than other systems because it was based on the decimal system.
France officially adopted the metric system in the early 1800s, and the rest of the continent quickly followed in hopes that a standardized measurement system would spur international trade. Over the next hundred years, the metric system spread globally. The British Commonwealth resisted abandoning their traditional measures, but in the early 1970s–under the slogan “Metric: 10 times better”–they, too, metricated. (Some road signs and body weights, however, remain “customary.”) Today, the U.S. is one of only three countries–along with Myanmar and Liberia–where the metric system is not commonly used.
Officially, at least, the U.S. has gone metric. The yard, the pound, and the gallon–prototypes of which were once held in London–are now officially defined by reference to metric units. In 1975, the federal government adopted metric as the nation’s “preferred measurement system” and established the United States Metric Board to manage the transition. The changeover was ineffective, however, and by the early 1980s, the only tangible progress was that liquor and wine had to be labeled in liters. Metrication was revived in 1988, when Congress required that all government agencies be metric by 1992 to the extent “feasible.” Today, agencies with large international or scientific operations–like the Department of Defense and NASA–are almost fully converted; others–like the Department of Education–have done little, citing the rights of states to decide such matters. America’s private sector is similarly mixed: Large corporations with overseas exports are at least partly converted, but most small businesses still use the English system.
American metric advocates encountered stiff opposition in the ’70s and ’80s. Labor unions worried that workers would be unable to learn a new system. Businesses protested that redesigning machines and products to metric standards would be costly. States objected to the expense of replacing road signs and revising laws. And average citizens argued that change was unnecessary and said the metric system–with its multiples of 10, instead of the more intuitive halves and quarters of English measures–was not compatible with human experience. In contrast, there was no natural constituency for the pro-metric cause.
But similar obstacles were encountered–and overcome–in other countries. So, some metric advocates attribute America’s non-conversion to national character. American individualism, they say, makes us more resistant to government-mandated change than other cultures. For example, Mother Jones reported that the National Cowboy Hall of Fame sued to block metrication, claiming “the West was won by the inch, foot, yard, and mile.” Metric supporters also see xenophobia in Americans’ distaste for a foreign system of measurement. In the 1970s, some opponents suggested that metric road signs would facilitate a Russian invasion.