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Annual meeting of the Bureau of Weights and Measures a hoot

My fellow weights and measurers,

Information Director Dan here, giving you a report on the 2021 Federal Bureau of Weights and Measures convention, held at the lovely Radisson Inn in Topeka, Kansas. It was a great time had by all, even though the ongoing pandemic forced us to cancel our annual barbeque where we all try to guess the pre-sauce weight of the ribs. There’s always next year!

This year’s keynote speaker was Abigail Sumner, the Director of the Tennessee Bureau of Weights and Measures. Abigail is the first woman to head a state bureau of weights and measures, and she’s a real sweet gal, and smart, too! She gave a 20-minute Power Point presentation and knew how to hook up the cords and everything!

She spoke about the diversity initiative we undertook in 2018, and we’re already seeing progress: Six percent of our workforce is Asian, four percent is Black, three precent Latin. That’s a big improvement over 2018 when our only diversity came from some White employees who liked hip hop.

The first breakout session was titled “Pound Foolish: The Case for Kilograms.” Dr. Gunter Eichsclabben tried to promote the metric system as a superior measurement regime. Oh, those wacky Europeans; will they ever learn?

Next was Bill Jackson who recently completed a three-year project that concluded that an ounce of prevention is actually worth about 2.3 pounds of cure (assuming no evaporation).

Finally, a Dr. J. Sartre gave doozy of a talk titled “Inches from the Edge.” He first asked “what is a mile?” and everyone, of course, said 1,760 yards. Then he asked what a yard was. Three feet. Then he asked what a foot was. Twelve inches. Then he asked what an inch was. The room fell silent.

“Was the inch born or built? Is it a mathematical certainty or a human abstraction? What if what we call an inch was only our limited, feeble interpretation of what an inch truly is, and through enlightenment could we see that the inch is in fact something longer?” he said. “Would such enlightenment lead to extinction?”

My mind started to drift. What if the inch was, say, more like an inch-and-a-half, only we hadn’t realized it? All of our technological achievement, built on a lie. Would our buildings fall and our cars collide? Am I really 5-foot-10 or something smaller?

What if there were other beings that had a different inch, or even a sub-inch? Would they recognize our world? Would we recognize theirs? Could we pass between the two? Just then I looked across the room and I saw someone who looked just like me. Even wearing the same golf shirt and khakis. He approached and said, in my voice, “You are now the other.” And then he left.

I’m home now, but every now and then I wake up and for a second and I’m still in that convention hall, alone; forgotten. Is he here, writing this report? Is he me?

Any who, we wrapped up by passing a non-binding resolution to keep all the weights and measures the same for another year. Can’t wait ‘til we meet again next year at the Holiday Inn in Bethany, Mo. Bring your appetite because I heard the continental breakfast is unlimited!

--Yours truly, Dan Sullivan (real)


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