My Metric Holidays In Houston
Hi There Fraternity
My son and his family live in Houston Come and Take It Texas, and as such my wife and I head over there to partake of the lifestyle, which we enjoy very much. We spend up to four months of the year there as it doesn’t cost any more to stay here, and the weathers better.
The one downside is I get bored five minutes after I land. My beloved workshop and all my precious tools are four thousand miles away.
My son knows what I’m like and presented me with my own space in a corner of the garage, and a Scottish workshop soon started to take shape, but I had a serious problem, every time I went down to the Home Depot. The guys wouldn’t sell me a 2.4m of 75x50mm baton of CLS. Or a sheet of 9mm 2.4x1.2 of ply. No, they insisted I purchase a 8ft baton of 3x2 and a 3/8 sheet of 8x4 ply.
Now as you know we in the UK gave up on the imperial system of measurement in the 70’s and it’s the best thing ever. Building materials are still the same dimensions but now in metric.
On my second visit I took over with me a bag full of metric tapes which I keep there and use. Now what you have to remember is I started my plumbing apprenticeship in 1967 and was taught in the old imperial system and accepted it as norm, but when we joined the European Union that all changed and as a result of almost all nations in the EU were metric, we had no choice. From that date all our tape measures became bi lingual for lack of a better term. They were split down the middle metric one edge, imperial the other. Absolute pain in the backside, you couldn’t swap your tape around to read it as you ended up on the imperial side, ending up with 3ft and 15mm’s. Nightmare. And today in 2018 out tapes have not evolved, still the same. For the last 20 odd years I became a full-time lecturer in construction technology at a college in Scotland and many of the apprentices I taught still used imperial because their journeyman wouldn’t convert. When teaching I had to do both calculations one in each otherwise I left half the class out.
Now I like all my peers in the trade we’re mostly the same thinking, and we ended up measuring in metric, but still converting it in our brain boxes back to imperial, just as you would do with a foreign language, but gradually that concept left you and you are converted and you see how easy it is. There is only one space on your tape measure i.e. one millimetre, nothing else, no sixteenth’s, eights, quarters or half inches.
The other influential factor is nothing you could purchase from that date could legally be sold in imperial weights and measure. I.e. you could not buy a pound of apples, just an equivalent kilo. No gallons of gas, just litres, and so on.
We had 240 pennies to the pound. Now we have 100 pennies to the pound. Everything is calculated around the number 100 and 10.
And what about temperature. 0 is freezing and 100 is boiling, could it be simpler. I don’t regret losing the Fahrenheit. Who thought 32 to 212 was a great idea, Mr Daniel Fahrenheit I presume.
We still have a few concessions, we still use miles per hour and we still drive on the correct side of the road unlike the rest of the EU and USA. I’m not surprised at the EU getting it wrong, but a little surprised at the USA making such a glaring mistake as to drive on the wrong side of the road.
I have included a few photos of my metric work on my visits to Houston. As I taught most disciplines it has allowed me to install all the trades required which resulted in quite a saving on costs. And my son seems to like the results even though it smacked of slave labour, either that or he was trying to hurry along his inheritance.
So far, on my visits I have built the following using a metric tape in temperatures I at that point in time could only imagine with the worst being the erection of the pool house reaching 113 degrees. I have never drunk so much water in my whole life, although to my sons credit my wife and myself were allowed inside when it got so dark we couldn’t see.
The major projects so far are as follows:
The closet shoe racks…… No problems
The Shelving of the loft………. Have you ever tried to work in an uninsulated loft in Houston in summer? My God!!!
The outside kitchen………... I clad every thing in cement board to assist fixing of tiles and prevent any heat conducting to the frame from the BBQ. Also ran house gas supply to BBQ. Electrics ran from spare way in pool house and fitted RCD and all outlets were waterproof. Could not understand why you don’t sleeve your earth in the Patrice boxes. I was worried that a bare earth would contact the phase or neutral when screwing the outlet into place. I went to Home Depot to get earth sleeve and they had never heard of it.
Pool House……………... Only real problem was the 100 plus temperature and had to build up the wall the flue outlet was on to prevent and conduction of heat on to the walls. I flipped the bottom layer of bricks to provide approx. twice the combustion air the manufacturer specified. I also had to extend the concrete plinth another 2 ft to accommodate housing all the equipment.
So that’s it, going back this Christmas where temperatures are a little more bearable.
In case you are interested. One photo is My Son Colin and my Granddaughter Connie enjoying the first use of the bar. Another is my wife spoiling their dog Lance. And the third is us all having our first BBQ breakfast on the day after completion. And the last is the inaugural party of the opening of the kitchen bar with friends, neighbours and family.
Hope you enjoyed this as we love to visit Cinco Ranch
Scotland and occasionally Houston Texas.