Measuring Up

Posted on December 3, 2013 under News & Updates with no comments yet

IMG-20131202-00639When was the last time you used a yard stick?  Technically speaking, that would have been back in the early 1970’s, before Canada adopted the metric system.  Now we call it a meter stick.  Because I am a senior citizen, I can call it anything I want.

Truth of the matter is, you just don’t see them around anymore.

I was thinking about this the other day when one of the staff at the office was trying to extricate something from a deep closet.  This has always been one of the most common uses of this 36 inch piece of lumber.  It is great for sweeping toys from underneath the couch. You usually come up with unexpected treasures, like the remnants of a moldy peanut butter sandwich and everyone’s favorite, dust bunnies.

When I go to the local 5 to $1.00 store, I am still amazed to see the clerk portion out fabric using the good old yard stick.  And back in our school days, you learned all about accurate measurements when taking drafting and woodworking.  Robbie and Joe demanded precision.  What they got from me was anything but.

And my wife’s best friends, carpenters, are the masters of measurement.

By why has the yardstick, by and large, gone the way of the dodo bird?  I’ll tell you why.   Because it is not used to discipline children anymore.

You see, back in the day, a yard stick was used primarily as a weapon of ass destruction.

Yard sticks were kept in every classroom and home in the nation.  You would have thought that there was some fascination with this humble measuring device.  Not so.  In the era of “spare the rod and spoil the child” the yard stick was king.

You often hear the expression in sports that such and such a sport is a “game of inches”.   And John Denver popularized The Garden song when he sang “inch by inch, row by row…”  When I was a kid, learning about inches and feet had much to do about discipline.  If you were lucky, in school you only got rapped on the knuckles or on your skull with twelve inches of timber.  That could be for a moderate infraction, like forgetting to say the last Hail Mary with enthusiasm or placing a wad of gum under your seat.

When the heavy artillery came out, namely the yard stick, you knew that you were in a heap of trouble.   I remember with absolute clarity being chased around the house by one of the ladies that used to come to our home to help our beleaguered mother.  Originally she was hired to do laundry but, in truth, she was brought in as the enforcer.  When she cracked your rear end, wielding the yard stick with both hands, you could expect to be pulling splinters out of your arse for days.  It drove her crazy when this punishment was often met by laughter.

But alas, discipline, it seems, has had its day in the sun.  While I don’t condone violence, the yardstick didn’t harm most of us.  And my mother has forgotten this bit of folklore, as well as every bit of mischief that the eight of us got into over the years.  Apparently, we behaved perfectly … always.

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Highland Hearing Clinic

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