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Unit and Currency Conversion for Dummies (i.e. Americans) « Jocelyn Wong's Blog


Unit and Currency Conversion for Dummies (i.e. Americans)

How to Become an Asian Triathlon Superstar, Step #8: Learn to convert to metric units, and convert your money too.

When traveling the world as a future triathlon superstar, and being from the only country in the world that doesn’t use the metric system, it is very useful to know how to convert miles to kilometers, kilograms to pounds and such. Not only are we Americans “soft” as Coach loves to say (ok, he actually says “softc*cks” which makes me giggle), we like to use archaic units that nobody else does. (Yes, I agree this is lame but I can’t help that it’s what I am used to, growing up in the world of pounds, miles, and degrees Fahrenheit.)

There is now another American in the cast of teamTBB: Freshman Year, Manny (who is actually Cuban-American), with rumor of a boy from Wisconsin coming soon. So here it is, a handy-dandy unit conversion guide for us silly Americans.

LENGTH (and VELOCITY). Useful for figuring out the distance you should be running, or how fast you should be biking.
1 kilometer = 0.62 mile and 1 mile = 1.6 km

I usually remember these conversions:
5km = 3.1mi and 10km = 6.2mi (running road races)
40km = 24.8mi (Olympic distance bike)
42km = 26.2mi (a marathon, of course)
90km = 56mi (half IM bike ride)

Example #1: Coach wants to know how fast I was averaging the last hour of my ride…did I hit 40, 42? Huh? 40 or 42 whats? Oh, he means if I was hitting 25-26mph. (Yes, my bike computer is still in mph.)

Example #2: Coach says to run 8k. I scratch my head and figure I’ll do it on the track anyway. Each lap is 400m, so since 2 laps is 800m, I need to do 10 x 2 laps, 20 laps, which divided by about 4 laps per mile is 5 miles. ok!

To determine if you are breaking the speed limit while biking, just multiply the first number by 6.

Example #3: Speed limit sign says “60″. 6 x 6 = 36mph. I wish I had a clever story about how I got pulled over on my bike for speeding, but it hasn’t happened yet. The police guys here really like us. And by “us” I mean friendly girls in spandex with big smiles.

an offshoot of LENGTH is:
HEIGHT and DEPTH. Useful for determining if boys are tall enough to be of any interest. Also helpful in determining how deep the swimming pool goes for those of you with small children who aren’t good swimmers. Yes, I’m not a good swimmer either (YET) but I’d like to at least think I am capable of not drowning in a swimming pool.

Most people in the Philippines know their height in feet and inches because they are pretty Americanized, and actually the hotel pool tells the depth in feet and inches, because we’re in a former US naval base. However, Caroline from South Africa could only tell me her height in centimeters.

1 meter = 100 cm = 3 feet, 3 inches (3’3″)

Example #1: Boys who are 1.83m (6 feet tall) meet the minimum height requirement.

Example #2: Boys who are 1.93m+ (6’4″+) are even better.

What? Did someone just call me a height snob? Yes. Yes, I am. Oh. What was that sound? A hundred hearts breaking across the country? I’m sorry. I really am. ;) Unfortunately for my “social” life but fortunately for my training, there are no cute boys in the 1.83m or taller category within a 42km radius.

WEIGHT. Useful for buying groceries, estimating laundry, and determining if you are going to get dinged for excess baggage charges when flying (which you probably will anyway, bastards!).

1 kg = 2.2 lbs.

Close enough to x2 that you can just double the kilos for a good approximation. Or half the number of pounds you want when shopping for produce.

Example #1: The veggie stand lady asks “how much eggplant you want, one kilo?” Sure, why not. Then you go home with 9 eggplants and wonder if you can eat them all before they go bad.

Example #2: The laundry guy requires you to have a minimum 2kg of clothes to wash. that’s 4.4 lbs. Actually, this is a bad example because I don’t even have a scale here, but I never have trouble meeting the minimum 2kg.

Example #3: Caroline kept saying that her airline only let her take 20 kilos of baggage including her bike. dude, that’s only 44 lbs. This is why she only had 3 workout outfits (before we went shopping MWAHAHAHA). I’m kind of embarassed to say my bike case weighed 70 lbs and I also brought a 50lb suitcase full of clothes. also why I have no trouble meeting the minimum 2kg of laundry.

VOLUME. Really not that useful. Unless you care about the price of gas here, which is under 50 pesos/liter right now, and with the exchange rate about P48 to $1 (see CURRENCY below) it’s been hovering around P48/liter or just around $1/L.

3.8 liters = 1 gallon

…so it’s about $3.80/gallon, which sure sounds cheaper than when I left home. And everyone calls it “petrol” here. I wonder if it will be strange driving at home again after not driving a car for 2 months. It’s kind of nice. I will at least appreciate people following driving laws and staying within their dotted lines and not driving on the wrong side of the road to overtake and honking at everything they pass. BUT I DIGRESS.

I actually find liters to be much more useful than gallons or fluid ounces.

TEMPERATURE. Really not that useful. because it is either hot, humid, and rainy or hot and humid. And I once got reprimanded by Coach for focusing too much on the temperature forecast at a race I did, so I don’t really bother checking any more. Plus converting Celsuis to Fahrenheit is tricky. BUT ok, this is my handy-dandy guide to unit conversion for silly Americans, so I put some numbers in:

30*C = 86*F = uncomfortably warm water temperature
35*C = 95*F = ooh that’s hot.
40*C = 104*F = duuuuude.

Example: It has been about 32*C every day here, which is 90*F.

I also found this website that gives you a handy mental math formula, but you know what? You can’t control the weather so just deal with it.

CURRENCY. Useful to tell if you are getting a good deal or ripped off.

The current exchange rate is a little over P48 = $1.00 US.

What I like to do is add two decimal places and then double the number of pesos. And then add a little bit more, like round up.

Example #1. I have been told to eat more steak, so I’ve been investigating. A steak dinner at the Meat Plus Cafe is anywhere from P240 to P270. That’s about $5-$6. Other places like Aristocrat or Pancake House have steaks that are more in the P450-P750 range. That is over $9-$15.

Example #2. I went shopping for some headphones that won’t pop out of my ear when I sweat buckets running around the track. They quoted me at P300. “Can you give me a cash discount?” I ask. “Yes, 280, ma’am.” Ok, let me see what I have. “Oh. I only have 250…Will you take 250?” yes? great! (lucky trick huh?) I go home with new headphones that stay in my sweaty ears for a little over $5. It’s some knock-off brand called “Saiyo” but they perform fine. Plus we all know headphones for sweaty runners have a shelf life anyway.

Example #3. DVDs (they can’t possibly be bootlegged, pirated, or otherwise illegal if everyone sells them so openly here, right?) are P50 for a movie and P70 for a TV series. That’s a little over $1 each for Prince Caspian, Get Smart, and Napoleon Dynamite and $1.50 each for Season 1 of Gossip Girl and Season 4 of Grey’s Anatomy. None of which I have watched yet because who has time for DVD watching with all the training we are doing? I’m actually serious…those are the ones I didn’t get to before Coach arrived. :)


Speaking of movies, I watched one in the theater with Ria and Ani when I was in Manila. (Yes, it was Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 and I LOVED IT! teehee!) I think it was only (pop quiz!!) P100-150 each. I know, the price of 2 or 3 DVD’s but we got to see it on the big screen! The most entertaining part for me was that it was like going to a baseball game at home. There were people walking the aisles selling concessions like candy and popcorn, and before the movie they played a video of the national anthem–everyone actually stood up and put their hands over their hearts!

In other news I made it through another week of training. We were harshly informed the other day that this isn’t even real boot camp, it’s only “Sutto Lite.” Oh. (What was that sound? A bubble bursting…?) well, it is still the most I’ve ever done in 2 weeks and the teamTBB freshmen have to start somewhere! After my P300 one-hour massage today, I am soon ready to pound out another 2 weeks. heyyy I think I am even dropping a kilo or two, sweet, now if only I can get my luggage to do the same or actually, MORE!

Also, the new TBB kiosk was open for business today! And damn, it looks good (like all of our Bike Boutiques do), hot pink and flashy and fabulous, and right here connected to our teamTBB dorm building, er, hotel. Many pictures will be posted for sure. This is only the “soft opening,” the grand opening is not until mid-November. But I do have to giggle whenever someone says “soft opening,” because I have never heard that term and it makes me think of what Coach says about us Americans.


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