Around The Rim Country

New terms for good measure

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Most people don't realize it, but many units of measurement are named after people, most likely because they invented or discovered them.

Take the watt, for example. This common unit of power used to measure the amount of light a bulb puts out was named after one James Watt of Scotland, who, we can only surmise, came upon this measurement when he stuck his finger in an open socket and lit up like a Christmas tree.

Other common units of electrical measurement named for people include the volt for Italian Alessandro Volta; the ampere after Andre-Marie Ampere, a Frenchman; and the ohm, in honor of a German named Georg Simon Ohm.

Turning to the always intriguing field of magnetism, aficionados of the behavior of magnetic fields most surely know about those two units of magnetic flux, the tesla and the weber. The former was named for Nikola Tesla, a Croatian-born American, and the latter for German Wilhelm Eduard Weber, who could have made a small fortune if he had invented the Weber grill instead.

If I had to choose a favorite measurement named after someone, it would probably be the newton, a unit of force devised by Sir Isaac Newton to measure how much of that fig paste can be crammed into a cookie before it becomes a dangerous projectile.

In the Rim country we, too, have some unique units of measurement. They have, however, never been named for the appropriate person, place or thing.

Until now.

Here, ready to incorporate into our schools' math and science texts, is the official list of Rim country measurements:

THE STREICHMAN

This special unit of Rim country measurement converts legalese into bangles on a Christmas tree so reporters and other morons can understand what the town attorney is talking about. It was introduced at a recent town council meeting when Streichman, explaining why changes in the town code relating to parks had gone awry, said, "This matter kind of got away from us. We started by trying to rectify religious discrimination, but everybody added a bangle to the Christmas tree. We now have too many bangles."

THE HERRON

This unit of measurement is used by conservative town councilmember Hoby Herron when musing on the way things used to be. A herron represents a generation in the Herron family and is always preceded by the words, "Back in the good old days," as in, "Back in the good old days, oh, about four Herrons ago, people had respect for the Constitution."

THE TYLER

A unit of speed named after the infamous Tyler Parkway where, as one town councilmember pointed out, no matter how hard you try it is impossible to drive 25 miles per hour. The tyler is used to measure things that move too slow to register on normal measuring devices like speedometers and police radar guns.

THE FINNEY

Utilizing a complex mathematical equation, the finney measures the number of raccoons per acre based on the number of goldfish missing from the political activist's back yard pond. This tells Ruby how many traps she needs to set out to catch any stragglers. And if she snags a stray councilmember in the process, hey, nobody said politics was exactly a dip in the goldfish pond.

THE SCHUM

The schum is a two-fingered hand counting method used to measure the number of viewers watching town council meetings on channel 7. More sensitive than either Arbitron or Neilson, it registers numbers of viewers as low as one. To be politically correct, the schum is expressed by holding up the appropriate number of fingers and saying something like: "Out there in TV land, we have two viewers this evening."

THE SHOOFLY

We've always wondered why a civilization would name itself after these revolting pests. But then we moved up here and found out for ourselves. As a unit of measurement the shoofly is used to reduce the number of flies in one's space to a number that can be comprehended. One shoofly is equal to 3.14 gazillion flies.

THE FARGO

This unit of measurement is used to count things when they aren't really being counted. It is especially useful for things like, oh, say, restaurant naming contests where the entries you get aren't as good as the one your, oh, say, father came up with, but you don't want people to think the contest was all for naught so you kind of fudge things a little bit, if you get our drift. In fact, we recommend this new eatery's featured dessert be called the Name Fudge Brownie.

THE LALA

This is a unit of measure that Rim country Realtors find invaluable. It measures the cost of a local palatial estate by subtracting the amount of equity brought here in cash by transplanted Californians who have made a killing selling their previous house in that state's grossly overpriced market. Almost always, the lala is expressed as a negative number.

THE DEMING

If you came here from the Valley, you know how frustrating it is when the rainfall total at Sky Harbor Airport, where the official measuring device is located, is always much less than what fell on you. It never seems to rain much in Anna Mae's back yard either, so a deming is a unit of measurement that never fluctuates from zero.

THE KMOG

A kmog, pronounced with a gutteral "K" is a measuring tool that allows you to cook the perfect two-minute egg by starting at the beginning of any country-western song. When the song is done, so is the egg. And it's even salted by tears.

Now if they could just figure out how to keep your brain from getting fried at the same time.

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