Units

7 December 2011

An hommée is the amount of land a farmer can plough before sundown in Lorraine. In Catalunya, the amount of land in a day’s work if it grows corn is a journal; if a vineyard, an ouvrée; if a meadow, then soiture. An Irish collop denotes quality; it’s howevermuch land will support the grazing of: one sow; or two yearling heifers; or six sheep; or twelve goats; or six geese and a gander. 3 collops graze a horse.

4 royal cubits make an orguia, the distance from middle fingertip to middle fingertip when you stretch out your arms. A trasarenu is the smallest possible thing: the dust mote you see when the sun shines through a lattice.  A meal is the volume of milk that can be gotten from a cow at a single milking, and soma the amount of firewood a mule can carry in Umbria. Stunden are the hours it will take to cover a certain amount of ground by foot, depending on elevation. An ounce, as proposed by Jefferson, would be the weight of a cubic inch of rainwater.

The length of the Harvard Bridge in 1958 is 364.4 Smoots, where fraternity pledge Oliver R. Smoot is the unit of length. Oncia is measure of silkworm eggs; adarme a weight of silver. There are 2 kinderkins in a coomb, 2 coombs in a hogshead, & 2 hogsheads in a puncheon. A funiculus is 1/6,000th of the Earth’s meridian; a chi is ninety black millet grains, or the length of a huangzhong pitch pipe, and Confucius’ father, who stood 10 chi, was thought as tall as a human could be. A perch is longer than an ell. Double scruples weigh far less than mites or demi-grains. A millihelen is the degree of beauty that can launch a single ship.

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Composed using notes taken while reading World in the Balance, Robert P. Crease (2011).

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