I realized a lot of my life lately involves converting — I convert 220 V electricity to 110 V, pounds to dollars and Celsius to Fahrenheit. I’m almost used to the pound — so much so that when I was buying some Christmas presents online to ship to the US I actually converted the dollars to pounds in my head and marveled at how cheap things were. But the thing I can’t seem to get used to is Celsius. Just as I wish I had grown up learning a second language, I wish I had grown up with the metric system. Stephen grew up with it so he knows exactly how to dress for 10 degrees. Me, I’m still multiplying by 1.8 and adding 32. The metric system makes sense for the most part — I can do centimeters and liters. But degrees Celsius gets me every time. A nice autumn day is supposed to be 60 degrees — not 16. Fahrenheit just makes more sense to me, but that’s probably because I grew up with it. It still seems to offer a greater range of temperature.
I remember talking to Kelly, the wife of Stephen’s British coworker, about Chicago weather a couple months back. I was telling her that it’s so cold during the winter that temperatures often dip into the negative. She didn’t seem surprised and said it was often negative during London winters too. That’s when I realized she was talking about negative Celsius. -1 C is 30 F, whereas -1 F is -18 C. I decided not to correct her and let her think that Chicago is 30 (I’m sorry, -1) degrees all winter.
Even though I still get my weather in Fahrenheit from Weather.com (I refuse to switch to Weather.co.uk!), I can’t escape the dreaded C. It’s everywhere in our flat — the thermostat, the washing machine, my curling iron. There’s no “cold” or “hot” cycles on the washing machine, there’s 90, 60, 40 and 30 (none of which seem cold, come to think of it). The temperatures on my curling iron (“tongs”) are not high, medium, low or 1 through 10, they are 165, 180, 195 and 210. That’s 329, 356, 383 and 410 degrees F for you American folk. Come to think of it, that is a lot of heat I’m putting so close to my face! Do American curling irons get as hot as an oven? (Which, by the way, is in Celsius too. I’d be writing more about that if I ever bothered to use it.)