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 a 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).