While I like the idea of the US converting to the metric system, it will make little difference in my everyday life. I don’t believe it will happen until enough US industries, applying pressure through their lobbyists, think it is advantageous for them. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t see it as a matter of great importance to me. Life’s got far greater concerns for me than the current measurement system. I admit it would make my measurement life easier.

In one area the metric system is inferior, I believe. The theory is fine, but the fundamental unit of length, the meter, is too big. It’s not user-friendly. When measuring with a decimal foot tape, I find it far easier to get the reading right than when I use some metric tapes. The entire unit of measurement – from one foot mark to the next - is right in front of me. When using a metric tape, the nearest meter mark is sometimes off to the side, and I have to take great care to be sure I’m getting it right. Some metric tapes include a meter mark at each decimeter, which helps, but is still not as absolutely clear as seeing the entire unit length at a glance

I noticed, while in Mexico and South America, that people made reading errors while using metric tapes, especially when the reading occurs in the first 10 centimeters of the meter involved.

I believe, although I can’t prove it, that readings using metric tapes contain a greater portion of reading errors than do readings using decimal foot tapes. I believe this applies to places where the metric system is firmly established. Has a study ever been made of this? And, if it’s true, what could be done about it now?
Original Post

Pete, I agree. I always have to be extra careful when laying out a cal course to differentiate between centimeters and millimeters on my tape. Perhaps it's simply due to lack of practice, and if I used one every day, it wouldn't be an issue - I'm sure carpenters in metric countries have no problem.

All that said, I'll continue to lay out 300m rather than 1,000 ft. cal courses, and measure metrically, even if the course is in miles (a trick Hugh Jones taught me).
I carry and use both types of tapes. I have a 60 meter steel tape that I use primarily for calibration courses. It does have the meter marked in between the actual meter marks, but since I usually set out 300 meter calibration courses the marks in the middle of the tape don't often come into play.

I have a 200 foot fiberglass tape that I use to measure points to landmarks. I use fiberglass because it's cheaper and doesn't suffer so badly when it gets run over by a car. I use Imperial units because I seriously question whether the poor bloke who will have to locate these points before next year's race will have access to a metric tape.

I bought my first metric tape at a surveyor's supply store where they had a sign advising that federally funded highway projects would have to be designed and constructed in meters. When I worked with the Illinois Tollway (Rod R. Blagojevich, Governor) on their course earlier this year I asked the engineer I was working with about why his calculations were all in feet. He said the metric requirement had been eliminated and he personally preferred working in feet and inches because it was too easy to misplace a decimal point when working with metric units.

My personal experience working with metric units in construction aand real estate outside the US was entirely positive. Especialy the part about not having to use an (expeletive deleted) architect's scale.
I think the imperial system does have one advantage, it allows you to think in buckets.

You get to think I have x amount of inches and y mount of feet and you put them in different mental buckets. The foot bucket having only integers and the inches also having integers and bits of integers.

People naturally count in integers, and using their fingers do well in base 6 up to the number 30,(Without having to use there toes). Hence the human habit of using half and full dozens, 12 inches to a foot and 12 old English pennies to a shilling.

The ability to break a bigger number up into buckets is important becuase the human brain has very poor processor registers. That's why you add one column at a time.

For people using decimal there are some bucket tricks that help:
• Always write down your numbers with the decimal point even if they are integers.
• Make the decimal point big.
• Always use the same number of decimal places. If measuring in meters down to centimeters, i.e. always put 1.00 even if you only have one even meter.
• Write it down, one under the other, preferably on paper with squares so all the numbers line up.
• Keep notation consistent. If working in meters then 15 centimeters is 0.15 and not 15
• Think in buckets. When you write it down, take time to put it into mental buckets, think "that was 5001 meters and 46 centimeters". (Just like you did with feet and inches.) This will help you keep the decimals in the right place.