How one thing leads to another! With my glory days as a globe-trotting big-shot recording engineer behind me (for now at least), I earn my daily crust in a small cubicle in midtown Manhattan, writing C++ code for a medium-sized global corporation. It is now 9:15 P.M., and as is so often the case, I am still here in the office (whence all but I have fled), trying to get some software to work.

Earlier today someone mentioned Donald Knuth, the great programming pioneer and all-round Renaissance man, and as I sat at my computer just now waiting for my compiler to do its work, I looked him up on Wikipedia to see what it had to say about him. I discovered that among his many distinguished achievements, he had even written an article for MAD magazine back in 1957, on the “Potrzebie System of Weights and Measures” (which, as I also found out, is an available system of units in Google Calculator).

All this led me in turn to Wikipedia’s List of unusual units of measurement and List of humorous units of measurement, where I learned about such useful quantities as the beard-second, the attoparsec, the microfortnight, and my favorite of the lot, the Sheppey, which is “A measure of distance equal to about 7⁄8 of a mile (1.4 km), defined as the closest distance at which sheep remain picturesque.”

Hey, the compiler’s done, and no errors! Gotta run. Back in a few millifriedmans.

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  1. Jeanie Oliver says

    This is off topic, but is my iPhone considered a computer with an address of its own? When I commented for the second time from my laptop, I had a different user name. Your readers will think that I have a split personality!!!!!

    Posted February 17, 2011 at 7:56 am | Permalink
  2. Jeanie Oliver says

    Comment on previous post!

    Posted February 17, 2011 at 7:57 am | Permalink
  3. chris g says

    Since we’re going off topic on iphone related stuff… check out what I just ordered for my iphone! (I think you had a post here about this helicopter thing)


    $270 new, on ebay.

    Posted February 17, 2011 at 12:12 pm | Permalink
  4. Malcolm says

    Hi Jeanie,

    Yes, the browser on your phone is a separate entity, so it can log in as a different user.

    No worries though – we all know there’s only one Jeanie Oliver!

    (And yes: interactive theater, indeed… your tax dollars at work!)

    Posted February 17, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Permalink
  5. Malcolm says

    Chris – I want one.

    Posted February 17, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Permalink
  6. greg says

    You can take the man out of the cubicle, but you can’t take the cubicle out of the man…

    Posted February 25, 2011 at 9:24 am | Permalink