My First Teenager

By Shamus Posted Monday Jan 17, 2011

Filed under: Personal 161 comments

When I was in high school I used to do this thing where I’d walk up to someone, lean on them for a minute or so, and then casually inject into the conversation, “You know, you’re supporting a teenager.” Sigh. At least I grew out of it.

Rachel, my oldest daughter, turns 13 today. Thirteen was when I got my first computer. So that’s kind of a big deal for me. It also marks the onset of the whole “teenager” thing, although she’s not yet suffering from any of the symptoms.


She passed her mother in height last year. Now she’s only a couple of inches below me. (I’m 5’11 – 1.8m) She’s enthusiastic about being tall, which is good, seeing as how she doesn’t have much choice. Some tall girls are embarrassed by their height, but Rachel seems excited at the prospect that she could pass me.

I turn 40 later this year. Time seems to be passing alarmingly fast. At the current rate of acceleration, I’ll be 60 in about an hour and a half.


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161 thoughts on “My First Teenager

  1. Rick Tacular says:

    Happy birthday to your First! I just turned 40 on the 14th, so I feel your pain (at least you don’t *look* 40! I look every second of it, plus!). My little one is only 3.5 years old, however, and I’m already terrified; when you have a boy you only have to watch one boy; if you have a girl you have to watch *all* the boys!

    1. Hal says:

      If you haven’t invested in a chastity belt yet, it’s never too late.

      1. Scott says:

        Actually, it is entirely possible to be ‘too late’, but it’s never too early!

    2. Mari says:

      My vet solved that problem with a wonderful sign on his front porch that read “I’ve castrated thousands of animals. Don’t be an animal with my daughter.”

      Personally, I opt for the simple and expedient “shotgun rack by the front door” method. I mounted and filled the rack when my youngest was about 3. My oldest turned 13 this year and those shotguns haven’t been necessary yet but I’m anticipating needing to move the cleaning sessions to Friday nights before too many more years pass. Nothing says, “Keep your mitts off my daughter” like a mom cleaning the shotgun when you come to pick up your date.

      1. Galad says:

        sheesh, shotguns, dating that serious a business on the other side of the Atlantic ocean?

        1. Hal says:

          My girlfriend is a high school teacher, and considering how many pregnant freshman she tells me about . . . yes, apparently it is.

          1. Mari says:

            It happens earlier than the freshmen. When I was in high school I had a part time job at the YMCA’s after-school care program. We had a 5th grader in our program that was pregnant. At 11 years old, this kid was a mother. Eleven. It still boggles my mind a little bit.

            But yeah, down here in the southern U.S. we can get kind of protective of our little belles. My thing is that I was insanely promiscuous as a teen and fear and dread my daughters taking that path. I joke about the shotguns (well, having them by the door isn’t a joke but the part about cleaning them when boys come around is and they’re not by the door as a deterrent, just ease of access when REAL animals come around) but I really have done everything I can think of to help my daughters make smarter choices in dating than I ever did.

            1. Michael says:

              I think I just threw up a little… :( (At the first paragraph.)

              1. Galad says:

                Well, the first paragraph mentions the exceptions rather than the rule. Imho, so long as kids use a condom and are careful who they’re sleeping with, they’re fine. Not at 13 though, I’d say 16 is the minimum when they can start doing it.

                Of course, I might start thinking differently when I have a kid of my own.

                Oh, and, I’d be extra careful if I had a daughter and she were 180 cm tall at 13 y/o. It can be hard to tell a kid’s age if he/she’s tall..

      2. Baychel says:

        Was looking back to see how long I have been editing the diecast and found this. Oh the irony.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Female animals can be castrated too.Though the process is a bit more involved.And probably an even scarier concept for potential dates.

  2. Raynooo says:

    Wait don’t you mean tall ? And a Happy Birthday to her !

    Maybe when she’s old enough to curse in front of you you guys will have some Father and Daughter Let’s Play !

  3. Piflik says:

    Don’t know how you measure your height, but I doubt you are 5’11 and 1.5524m at the same time…or is the dash a minus sign and you’re in fact 5’11 – 1.524m tall, but this would mean you are about 30cm in height, which I don’t think is very likely… :D

    Oh…and Happy Birthday to your spawn…I hope she is ok with you posting an image of her…and will still be two hours from now ;)

    1. Shamus says:

      I just typed my height here:

      And got the 1.5524m answer. I don’t know metric well enough to estimate people’s heights.

      1. Raynooo says:

        Well seeing as 1.75m is the average size for French guys, you’re either not so tall or your unit converter is messed up.

        Anyway metric system rules !

      2. Piflik says:

        Well…an inch is 2.54cm, one foot is 12 inches, so 5’11 would be 71 inches and that is 1.8034m
        Don’t know what the website is calculating, but it is definitively wrong ;)

        Ah…the site is omitting the inches…1.524m is exactly 5 feet.

      3. Shamus says:

        Ah. I see. It didn’t know what to do with the inches. Did the conversion myself. Fixed.

        Arg. It’s my native system and I still hate imperial.

        1. Piflik says:

          I can’t understand why you (i.e. Americans) insist on keeping the imperial system…metric is so much nicer since it synergizes with our native base 10 numeral system…

          1. Shamus says:

            For the same reason that the entire world sticks to using a base 10 numbering system instead of the far superior base 16. Because converting can’t be done by waving your hand and saying, “This is better, use it.” Habit and custom are powerful forces. It means changing your perception of everything: Height, speed, weight, volume, distance.

            The coming generation seems to be familiar with both systems, so I’m betting my grandkids will see very little imperial.

            1. kikito says:

              You mean, the grandkids that will be here in 1 hour 45 ?

            2. Piflik says:

              True, habits are strong, but while most of the human population has in fact 10 fingers, but only a small percentage have feet that are exactly 1 foot long, the decimal system has still more value than imperial, methinks…and if we would want to introduce a base 16 system (the superiority of which I can’t seem to see, other than the ease of translating from base 16 to base 2, and vice versa) into day-to-day use, we would have to replace the metric system as well to get the synergy I was talking about…

              1. Someone says:

                Thing is, you can’t just change a measuring system the entire nation has been using for many decades, and continues to use to this day.

                Imagine if US government just suddenly declared: “Well folks, we’ve had a good run with it, but it’s time for the imperial system to go. From this day on we are using metric.”. Aside from an uproar by traditionalists, the entire economy pretty much has to change. We are talking about changing every single piece of industrial equipment which is made and programmed to use materials and produce goods measured in feet, every law and standard which still uses imperial measurements, massive archives of paperwork, both electronic and physical… Not to mention people who have to all know metric system.

                Alternatively you can try to implement a gradual reform, adding an “imperial tax” to all enterprises, but it would still cause an uproar and require expenses, legislation and supervision, all for rather dubious gain.

                1. Sumanai - a grouchy ball of cynical pessimism says:

                  “Imperial tax”? I don’t think I get what your getting at there.

                  Gradual reform by forcing that new packages and official stuff need to mention everything in both imperial and metric wouldn’t be all that expensive. The only real cost would be redesigning posters etc. Sure there was complaints about such things the last time congress tried it, but if some consumables still obey the nullified law it’s doubtful the complaints had any base in reality. Slow progress is still better than no progress.

                2. Someone says:

                  By “Imperial Tax” I’ve meant an introduction of an additional tax for using imperial based (or at least imperial only) assets and documentation. But, of course, nobody likes extra taxes, so people won’t take kindly to such efforts.

                  Or you can go the other way and give subsidies and tax cuts to enterprises which adopt the metric system. But that’s too expensive for such a small change.

                  Didn’t really consider using both during the transitional period though.

                  Anyway, the point I was trying to get across is that you can’t just instantaneously convert a huge country to metric system, even if it is better/more efficient than the current one. Apparently slow and small scale reform is already taking place, which, coupled with increased foreign influence, should eventually bring about the change, but it might take a decade or two.

                3. Kayle says:

                  Actually, the US government has nearly done exactly that–the Metric Conversion Act of 1975 made SI the preferred system of measurement for the US Federal Government; federal agencies generally require metric for the stuff they purchase. The federal government hasn’t outlawed non-metric usage in private business, which is what European countries have done to force everyone to metrify. I remember when a few states attempted to conver to metric for distance information signs (e.g. San Francisco 200 km) but those signs apparently were despised and states pretty much gave on it. (Erma, how far is 200 km?!?)

                4. Sumanai - a grouchy ball of cynical pessimism says:

                  Someone: Yeah, instant change is a really bad idea assuming it is even successful.

                  Kayle: Most countries are not in fact solely using the SI system. OR how many cars have you heard that use a “m/s”-speed meter (km/h isn’t technically SI compliant)?

                  Sounds like they’re approaching from the wrong direction. Traffic signs need to be clear and understandable, and so should be one of the last things to change.

                  Just in case you thought so, I wasn’t suggesting outlawing imperial systems (other countries be damned, I want progress not confusion), in fact the law should enforce that both should be used so that people can have a real transitional period. Make the metric a bit more prominent so everyone will see it first, and then when they check the imperial they’ll get some perspective on the metric. Slowly most should be able to form a mental image of how much, say, 10cm is without checking or counting.

              2. Shamus says:

                “the decimal system has still more value than imperial”

                That’s where you make your mistake. Metric is worthless here, because nobody uses it, and nobody uses it, because nobody THINKS in it. If we magically replaced every gauge, ruler, building supply, mechanical part, scale, law, software program, road sign, road paint, liquid container, exercise equipment, and kitchen appliance with metric, it would not result in a country where everyone used metric. It would result in a country where nobody knew what was going on and nobody could understand or estimate any of the numbers they needed for daily life. Using a system is more than being able to convert units. Using a system is about being able to understand and intuit units, to be fluent in those units.

                If I say “10cm” to someone, they might know it’s not very big, but they don’t know if I’m talking about something the size of a period, a coin, a pencil, or a hand. If I say “100km” they might sense that it’s “fast”, but they won’t know if that’s driving speed, racecar speed, or airplane speed. Switching to metric among people who can’t think in metric would result in the measuring equivalent of the Tower of Babel.

                Why don’t people just switch to metric? Because as annoying as it is, imperial works well enough for them, and switching requires an investment of time, and is only useful if everyone else also learns it.

                Change will come. Eventually.

                1. Piflik says:

                  You misunderstood me…I was talking about how metric works well together with decimal. You said decimal is used because of habit (ten fingers), as is imperial (length of a foot). All I argued was that the habit for using decimal has more value (everyone has ten fingers) than the one for using imperial (almost nobody’s foot is one foot long) and to have two systems, that work together good, you’d either have to replace imperial with metric, or decimal with a numeral system that works well with inches…

                2. DaveMc says:

                  “Change will come. Eventually.”

                  I notice that you now have 2 L bottles of soda/pop, so perhaps metric will creep up on you gradually. Two-by-fours are a biggie, though. We still use them in Canada, in fact. And yes, I know that they’re neither two nor four inches along any actual dimension.

                  I guess in general, construction is going to be one of the biggest sectors to resist change — and actually, there’s no compelling reason for force a change away from Imperial in that context. In the end, who cares if screws, say, come in sizes that seem really random in metric? “Oh, that’s for historical reasons: it’s 1/32 of something called an inch.” The pain of retooling every screw factory in North America doesn’t seem worth it. I guess similar arguments could be made against the whole process of converting, in general, which will indeed be expensive, what with all that relabelling and re-signing to do. I suppose the biggest reason to convert is compatibility with the rest of the world, but perhaps that’ll happen automatically, like with the 2 L bottles: the rest of the world buys their liquids in litres, so eventually it didn’t make sense to create special-sized bottles just for the U.S. (I’m guessing that’s what happened, there). Just make sure that you convert properly when you’re collaborating on space missions!

                3. Groboclown says:

                  An interesting anecdote is when the US experimented with switching to selling gasoline by the litre. Apparently, as my parents tell it, a problem was that people couldn’t do the conversion (and, thus, couldn’t compare the price of gas before and after), and so gas stations were screwing people over.

                4. Deadpool says:

                  Well, most European countries DID force the change, and it all worked out eventually…

                  I think the problem with changing from decimal to hexadecimal has as much to do with economics as it does with how easy or hard it would be to convince people. A singl country can change from metric to imperial to whatever without a SERIOUS effect in the rest of the world. Can you imagine what a ess world economics would be if we started using hexadecimal to count dollars?

                5. deiseach says:

                  There is one place in the US where the metric system is in widespread use:

                  Metric System Thriving In Nation’s Inner Cities

                  Happy birthday to Rachel

                6. RTBones says:

                  First, happy birthday to your daughter.

                  Second, I must respectfully disagree that change will come eventually. For change to take place successfully, there has to be a driving reason (international business and making money are possible drivers at some point). Changing to conform to a standard just “because”? With respect, I don’t see that happening here in the US any time soon. We have metric in bits and pieces, just as the British have imperial units in bits and pieces. We talk about liters of soda, yet buy milk (and fuel) by the gallon. In the UK, you can buy food by the gram/kilo, yet they still talk about weight in stone (14lb) – which we in the US don’t typically use. We both (US and UK) buy beer in the pub by the pint, of which there are several varieties (pints, not beer – there are plenty of varieties of that too). Then there is aviation, which uses knots (nautical miles per hour) which is accepted by BOTH SI and non-SI unit cultures. And don’t confuse a nautical mile with a statute mile. They’re different. Go figure. People use what a) they’ve grown up with, and b) what works for them. If there was a reason to change that affected a large portion of the population, I suspect we would change – but not without resistance.

                  For an interesting look at efforts to convert here in the US, take a look at this article on Metrication in the United States.

                7. Mischa says:

                  As Deadpool said, “most European countries DID force the change”.
                  And they did something similar very recently as well, by changing to the euro. Suddenly all the ‘familiar’ prices were gone.

                  It takes some time, but eventually you replace your old ‘standards’ by new ones. It is only for rare purchases (like a car or a house) that I still convert the price to my old standard.

                  Of course, prices will change (usually rise) anyway over the years, sizes not so much. (Teenagers excepted.)

                8. Soylent Dave says:

                  It takes around 3 generations, if you teach the kids both metric and Imperial in school.

                  That’s using the UK as an example (we started learning metric measurements when we got rid of our truly awesome but incomprehensible pre-decimal currency in 1972)

                  I think in Imperial but I can convert to metric. My son thinks in metric but can convert to Imperial.

                9. De Zwits says:

                  Actually, it could come faster than you’d think. I’m an ex-European who’s been in the US for 3 years, and metric vs imperial / Fahrenheit vs Celsius, they’re like switching between native language and adopted home language these days…

                  Wasn’t the rule that nerds tend to be numerically strong? You’d think there’s an audience here that’d be able (and maybe even willing) to give it a try…

                10. Kacky Snorgle says:

                  If I say “10cm” to someone, they might know it's not very big, but they don't know if I'm talking about something the size of a period, a coin, a pencil, or a hand. If I say “100km” they might sense that it's “fast”, but they won't know if that's driving speed, racecar speed, or airplane speed.

                  You are optimistic. I teach math at a community college in the U.S. midwest, and whenever metric conversions come up, I’ve always got several students who literally don’t know whether a cm or a km is larger. They know about how much a liter is, because it’s half of a 2-liter bottle, but that’s about it for intuitive knowledge of the metric system.

                  Now, many of them can’t tell me how many feet are in a mile, either–but they have a good sense of how big a foot is, and how big a mile is. To get by in (nontechnical) life, that intuitive sense of scale is far more important than the ability to do precise conversions. We in the target audience of Shamus’s blog, who can fluently discuss cubits and acres and teragrams, can easily lose sight of this fact….

                11. Kacky Snorgle says:

                  …the 2 L bottles: the rest of the world buys their liquids in litres, so eventually it didn't make sense to create special-sized bottles just for the U.S. (I'm guessing that's what happened, there)

                  I’d really like to know what’s going on with U.S. soda/pop bottle sizes. I’ve recently seen:

                  16 oz.
                  20 oz.
                  24 oz.
                  50 oz.

                  and possibly a couple more that I’m forgetting. And often all of those sizes represent the same, major brand–I think Coca-Cola comes in nearly all of them (though the 3L size is generally only for cheap discount-store-brand stuff). What can possibly be motivating this sort of system?

            3. Mephane says:

              It’s not so much about the base 10. Base 16 technically is superior anyway, I agree. It’s about having a constant base, instead of the inch-foot-yard-mile system where from one unit to the next higher there is each their own totally arbitrary factor. If you just had a base 16 system, I could even agree on making that one the world-wide standard. But so far there’s two systems in widespread use: inch-foot-yard-mile and meters. Gee, you even need 4 distinct units, while the whole metric system just requires a single unit, everything else is just a factor to the base 10 abbreviated. ;)

            4. TheAngryMongoose says:

              Base 16? Base 12 is clearly superior. Can’t divide 16 by 3

              1. Shamus says:

                Let’s divide stuff in half:

                Start with 10:

                Yuck. Now we start with 12:

                Better, but it still gets messy at the end. Now 16:

                16 is a beautiful number, and it works well with binary. (It’s basically a compact form of binary, with each digit representing 4 binary digits.)

                1. krellen says:

                  Plus, if you count in binary, you can get up to 2^10 on your fingers – that’s 1024! (Okay, 1023.)

                2. Raynooo says:

                  Nah base 3 is the bomb cuz if everyone uses it it’ll be an awful mess for everyone. EQUALITY !

                3. David V.S. says:

                  Ah, but base Negative Sixteen includes these virtues and others!

                4. Piflik says:

                  Going by this logic…how about base 1024? You can divide that by 2 a couple more times than 16…

                  1. Shamus says:

                    Too many unique characters. It’s not “how many times” you can divide by two, it’s how clean the process is at the end. 16 goes all the way down to 1. The others turn into fractions before they get there.

                5. Josh R says:

                  But can you see the elders of math wanting to entirely relearn numbers?

                  1. Shamus says:

                    Heh. I like 16 and all, but I wouldn’t want to try to think in hex. I imagine this would be even harder for people who cared less and used math more.

                6. Fnord says:

                  Yeah, if the only number you ever divide things by is 2. If you ever divide things by 3, suddenly base 16 is messy and base 12 is neat.

                  Dividing by 2:


                  Dividing by 3:

                  0.97B425ED0… (Ouch!)

                  The prevalence of binary applications does make base 16 (or 8) attractive, but having another prime factor is nice.

                7. Sumanai - a grouchy ball of cynical pessimism says:

                  Shouldn’t it be most important by how many different numbers you can divide by without getting an infinite number? For instance:
                  1/3 (one third) of 10 in base 10 is 3,333333… – bad
                  1/4 (one quarter) of 10 in base 10 is 2,5 – good

                  Not that I’m suggesting a transition to base 12 or 16.

            5. lazlo says:

              Fools! *all* number systems are base 10. Some merely disagree on the value of 10 – 1.

              I remember clearly the beginning of the end of my studies in Chemical Engineering. We came to class one day and the professor had a number up on the board. We asked what it was, and he said that it was the ideal gas constant, that we’d need it for one of the examples we’d go through that day. We all said “ummm, no, R is 8.314, not… that.” He said “True, but the units used in this example make it much easier to use this value, which is in units of gallon atmospheres per lb-mol Rankine.” Now, it’s a very useful and teachable moment to grok the importance of units in constants that are not dimensionless. But that wasn’t what was happening here. And I felt that any discipline that would honestly use such units of measure wasn’t one for me. (Yes, there were lots of other reasons, but that stands out as a small tipping point for me)

              1. lazlo says:

                Of course, that said, one of my favorite units of measure is the cubit. The reason for that is that it not only conveys useful length information, but also implies a level of precision. If I tell someone that I want a board 36 inches long, then it probably needs to be very close to 36 inches. Maybe within 1/32, almost certainly within an inch. If I say 3 feet, it’s less clear, but still *might* need to be within a fraction of an inch. Same for saying a yard. But if I tell someone I need a board 2 cubits long, then they know they can just hack off a board with a circular saw and if it ends up being 40 inches long, it’ll almost certainly do.

                And conveying precision is an important and oft-neglected part of measurement that is very often lost sight of when doing conversions. For example, when you measure your daughter, 5’11” is fine and dandy, but when converting units it’s useful to remember that the original measurement was probably not accurate to within 1/10 of a mm. *You* did this correctly, but many of the following commenters seem to have neglected to…

                1. droid says:

                  I also like the cubit because I am always carrying one or two standards around.

                  But what I want to know is the Sid/cubit conversion ratio?

            6. Rosseloh says:

              If there’s anything that really, REALLY should be converted to metric here in the U.S….it’s paper sizes. Seriously.

              I deal with that crap every day at work, people asking “What does 24-pound mean, anyway?”, and the fun of scaling things for American sizes. The ISO/metric standard is easy: All sizes are proportional to each other. Cut one sheet in half and you’ve got the next size down. Not so easy with the American standards.

              1. Blake says:

                Yeah you crazy Americans and your funky units.
                I’d forgotten you don’t even have reasonable paper sizes.
                If it wasn’t for Burma, Liberia, and the US, everybody would be using SI units.
                People keep commenting that change will take a long time, here in Aus it happened from 1970 to 1988, so glad we made the switch though.
                My parents still sometimes talk in imperial (for feet/inches only, none of those other crazy units you have) but for everyone my age and younger metric is the only system we’ve ever needed.

                I think the influence of our parents and American tv shows have impacted on us when it comes to measuring people though, We basically all know how tall 6 foot is, we all know 180cm is roughly 5 foot 11 as well so when we’re told someone is 168cm we think of that as 5 foot 6.

                I imagine by the time I have kids though that’ll all be dealt with.

                1. Sumanai - a grouchy ball of cynical pessimism says:

                  Burma, Liberia, US and the random nutcases of course. Not that they matter, because you can’t make lunatics nudge even a single thou.

                2. Michael says:

                  I actually remember an Aussie who took a lot of flak a few years back because she’d give her height in Imperial, and a few… “less tactful” posters on the board lept on that as a sign she was lying about her country of origin.

      4. Nick Bell says:

        I simple googled “5 foot 11 inches to meters” and the Google calculator gave me a value of 1.8034 meters.

        Being a stupid American, I have no idea if this is correct. But with Raynooo’s info about average French men being 1.75, it at least looks good.

        1. Raynooo says:

          And now I feel small… Anyway converters the other way around are stupid too cuz they’ll give results like :

          1,80 m = 5.905 feet, treating feet as if they were decimal (right word there ? Base 10 maybe ?).

          1. TSED says:

            You realise that in a lot of countries, a comma is used instead of a period for purposes of denoting decimals?

            1. Raynooo says:

              Well actually I was learned to use commas but after a few thousand code lines you keep the habit of using a period because computer don’t understand commas the way I do :)

              But I think that people usually split feet and uh thumbs with ‘ or ” instead so there’s no confusion between decimal and whatever base these units are.

              But thanks to decius comment below I now know that you can have 1/10s of feet for utilitary purposes. And now I know.

          2. decius says:

            Actually, the decimal foot is used often enough in some construction trades.

            Enough so that I’ve developed the skill of converting decimal feet to and from fractional inches (to the precision of 1/8″/.01′)

            1. Will says:

              Does nobody else have a problem with the words “Decimal Feet”?

              1. Sumanai - a grouchy ball of cynical pessimism says:

                Sort of. ‘Decimal’ in that context brings in mind ‘decimate’ and then goes on to interprete “decimal feet” as “feet which would decimate, but are too small” or something.

                My mind is not a good place to be.

                Oh! Also feet that are covered in markings to help making measurements.

                1. Michael says:

                  And that leads me to think “We kill one in ten feet”, from the Roman practice of Decimation… great… :p

                2. Sumanai - a grouchy ball of cynical pessimism says:

                  You’re welcome.

        2. Soylent Dave says:

          Yeah, the French are pretty short.

          1. Raynooo says:

            Yeah but we have thin evil moustaches and berets ! We also ave zee feared french accent and are told to ave terrible body odor.

            But hey, at least we’re not British ! ;)

            1. Soylent Dave says:

              Ooh, you wouldn’t want to be British – you’d have bad teeth and be rubbish at sex.

              And you’d be forced to eat offal and queue for everything…

      5. DaveMc says:

        An inch is 2.54 cm, so 5’11” = 71 inches = 180.34 cm = 1.8 m. (‘Cause, you see, you can just divide by 100 rather than by the average length of a king’s elbow, or whatever the hell it is you folks do down there.) Actually, human heights and weights are about the last remaining pocket of Imperial measurement in Canada: people over about 30 still understand height in feet and inches and weight in pounds, and may or may not know their own height and weight in metric. Kids almost certainly know their metric measurements, but probably also understand the feet/pounds version, just because we so often hear of athletes and actors being measured that way.

        1. Joel D says:

          I’m a 21 year old Canadian, and I think of height and weight in feet and pounds, but I’ve got a decent grasp on metres and kilos. I guess I’m a good in-between of “over thirty” and “kids”.

          1. Chargone says:

            i’m a 24 year old Kiwi, and in about the same spot.

            it’s fairly standard for people my age, maybe a couple of years younger, to give rough height estimates in feet, still, and playing a lot of wargames, i can cope with inches all right to a point (there’s a whole bunch of practical reasons why inches are actually better measurements in wargaming than centimeters… at least at the oh-so-very practical 1:72nd scale. the fact that half the rules sets come out of the USA is entirely incidental, as most of them give CM measurements as well for people using smaller scale models)

            my youngest brother’s friends would probably have trouble with feet and inches though I(my brother himself is also a wargamer, though), and i certainly wouldn’t have a clue what was going on with pounds, while miles etc are completely beyond me. added amusing side effect of the wargaming is that we tend to play on a table made up of tiles 2′ by 2′. a lot of rules don’t let you measure distances until you commit to an action, so one gets used to judging distances by the tile edges, so it’s easier for me to think, not in feet, but in Pairs of feet. (which is amusing for a number of reasions)

            i’ll give the imperial system this though: once you have a grasp on the units, for most of them it’s a heck of a lot easier to eyeball things and actually be within a reasonable distance of correct than it is with metrics (well, decimeters wouldn’t be so bad if not for the fact that No One Uses Them… here at least). metrics are massively better for calculating things though, and as an added bonus have 1:1 or 1:10 or other nice conversion ratios for distance/area/volume/mass and so on (provided you use pure water at sea level as your conversion basis for volume/mass, anyway)

            and as an added bonus, it’s all based on the meter, which is a specific fraction of the distance from the north pole to the equator. this has the wonderful side effect of making an awful lot of scientific formula produce round numbers. of course then you get into astrophysics and start measuring things in AU or Lightyears, which are necessary at that scale but an entirely different issue…

            that said, I’ve still got no idea what’s up with gages of steel or wire. i mean, what was the arbitrary thickness they set at ‘1’ that progressively higher numbers are Thinner?

    2. Hitch says:

      Something I’ve seen a couple times in British TV shows that struck me as particularly surreal as an American viewer is giving a height in meters then switching to stones for weight.

      1. Entropy says:

        Yes, Britain is a bit inconsistent about this.
        We use:
        Miles for long distances (particularly in things to do with cars)
        Metres for short ones
        Pints for liquids. (Except sometimes when we use litres. ¬.¬)
        kg for weight of things
        Stone for weight of people.
        Either metres or feet for height of people.

        …makes total sense, right?

        1. Soylent Dave says:

          We also use Acres for measuring fields, yards for estimating distances (but metres for measuring them), Nautical miles and knots for measuring movement of boats, we use two different kinds of tonne and Celsius (Centigrade) for temperature – unless you’re over 50 in which case you’ll probably think in Fahrenheit.

          It’s perfectly sensible – if we simplify it any further then German spies will be able to figure out what we’re talking about (loose lips etc.)

          1. Sumanai - a grouchy ball of cynical pessimism says:

            Loose lips choose chips? Doesn’t sound that bad, unless taken literally. (Sorry, madness burst.)

          2. Chargone says:

            well, given that a yard is Roughly a meter, that bit actually makes sense…

  4. Brandon says:

    Cute daughter and a cute post, though it needs some editing. Both times you tried to write “tall” it came out “tell”. And “onset of the who ‘teenager’ thing” is missing a couple letters there as well.

    Just wait until she’s dating. It looks like she’s on track to be a real prize, which means you’ll be on the defensive (if you’re paranoid like a lot of fathers of daughters).

    1. Shamus says:

      Thanks. Fixed the typos.

      One hopes.

    2. David V.S. says:

      Heh. “Dads on the defensive” reminds me of those Rules For Dating a Marine’s Daughter.

  5. Santi says:

    Wow, that feet to meter converter can’t take inches, only feet and fractions of feet, fractions of ten!

    1. Veloxyll says:

      It’s a secret plan to try to convince people to convert to metric

      1. Sumanai - a grouchy ball of cynical pessimism says:

        No, it’s a secret plan to discourage people from trying to convert between imperial and metric. Ultimately it will lead to world domination.

  6. shlominus says:

    1,55m would mean you are only about 5 feet tall.

    5’11 means you are about 1,80m. :)

    1. Michael says:

      It probably converted 5’11” into 5.11ft and converted from there.

  7. X2-Eliah says:

    First signpost on the road to becoming old: Posting pictures of your kids on the internet. Well, that or insanity, those roads have much in common.

    Either way, time to stock up on shotgun ammunition, and begin sitting on your porch & scaring crows away. Well, crows and those damn teens from your daughter’s school, pah, what do they even know, back in the old days, a man had to walk ten miles up a snowed mountain to even get a look at a girl.. Etc. etc. (That is what old people say, right?)

    Also, 1.8m, not too bad.. Kinda exactly on the average, though, but no biggie. And kids always grow taller than their parents, and I’d say being taller is much better than being short – so your kid has nothing to concern about.

    Oh, yes. Aren’t you afraid of bad hackers hacking your daughters personal life now that her picture is on the hackerwebs? (But seriously.. some people think posting pictures will get their credit card data stolen. Silly silly people.)

    1. Someone says:

      I’m 1.93m and I hate being tall! I never have enough leg room when I sit, constantly hit my head on everything in public transport and don’t even get me started on those goddamn tree branches everywhere! Being tall sucks.

      1. froogger says:

        Come now, it can’t be that bad? I’m only slightly taller than you with scars all over my head, but at least I don’t have to stoop in every doorway. Besides, there are benefits. Unless you’re a woman you get lots for free at that altitude. People tend to look to you for leadership, height alone intimidates so you’re less likely to get assaulted, it’s quite popular with the opposite sex (probably your own too if you swing that way), and you can change lightbulbs without a stool.

        So what I’m saying is, walk tall.
        Now, if you are a woman, definitely walk tall. It looks great.

        1. Someone says:

          This is all well and good, as long as you don’t have to suffer a 2 hour commute from suburbs to The Big City, curled up in fetal position, which is really bad for the spine, Every. Single. Day. , because the cheapass local bus company crammed several additional rows of seats in all of their vehicles (and still has the audacity to charge 1.5$ per ticket).

          I love theater, but I can’t fully enjoy it for the same reason, Faust or Doctor Zhivago require an engaged audience, but the only thing I can think of watching them is how to pull my knees out of my ears. Same for going to see movies, concerts and pretty much every mass event that requires sitting.

          A small man can sit in a large man’s chair, but not vice versa. Incidentally, it’s also cheaper to make small chairs.

          Didn’t get the “stuff for free” part.

          1. X2-Eliah says:

            Yep, been through all that. Most anoying thing for me is having to lean to just wash hands, on pour water in a glass, because every frikkin tap is really low.

            And, of course, getting the knees somewhere when sitting is a big issue.

            Still, with all that, I’d rather keep being 1.99 than be, err, 1.5 or 1.6.. For one, I can’t imagine having to look up to anyone. And just the fact that you’re always looking down on others tends to subtly sway any arguments in your favour.

        2. Soylent Dave says:

          height alone intimidates so you're less likely to get assaulted

          Unless you meet someone with Short Man’s Disease who is determined to start a fight with you. And then you aren’t really allowed to hit him back because then you’re picking on the little guy…

          As for benefits, I’ll settle for being able to buy trousers with my inside leg measurement without having to go to the freaks and mutants shop (and why can’t clothing manufacturers accept that tall people are not also enormously fat?).

          On the bright side, at least I’m not short.

    2. Kai says:

      Sadly, it’s not true that children always become taller than their parents. My father’s got about the same height as Shamus (1,81m), and I’m just 1,70m (about 5’6). I was always hoping to grow some more, but now I’m 27, so that’s it. :o)

      Somewhere around 1,75m is also the male average here in Austria. Most boys at school were taller than this and as a result much taller than me, and even though I was never really mistreated because of this, I think it was always harder for me to get respected than it was for others…

      There is a reason why short people often have inferiority complexes! ;o)

      1. Klay F. says:

        Sadly, I’m pretty much right on the average height, and one of my first relationships back in high school ended because the girl I dated was taller than me. Heh, oh the inadequacies of youth.

        1. X2-Eliah says:

          You horrible, horrible sizeist.

          Actually, it is kinda interesting that while it’s perfectly normal for a girl to be shorter than her bf, when it is the other way around, everyone’s always glancing and commenting upon it, and just taking it as ‘not right’.

          1. Soylent Dave says:

            People commented quite a lot when one of my girlfriends was 20″ shorter than me – but I know what you mean.

            Along similar lines, people sometimes feel an urge to comment about my current girlfriend being older than me (whereas it would be considered a lot more normal if I were the older one)

    3. RustyBadger says:

      First off- Happy Birthday, Rachel!

      Fortunately for Shamus, his daughter’s homeschooled. But still, any excuse to buy a shotgun, amiright folks?

      1. Veloxyll says:

        Happy birthday mini-Shamusette!

        Also since she’s homeschooled, did she learn this:
        It is a far better math system than times tables, and long multiplication/division.

        1. Sumanai - a grouchy ball of cynical pessimism says:

          Interesting, I’ll have to test it if it works for me.

          Although, I didn’t learn times tables as a kid and just multiplied/divided in my head when asked, so I don’t get this anti-times tables -sale for the system.

  8. Groboclown says:

    I don’t even want to think about when my daughter becomes a teenager. I’m already seeing some subtle hints of that behavior in her (she’s still 8). Fortunately, I’ve got some time to prepare myself for it.

    Good luck, Shamus. She’ll be driving before you know it.

  9. Joel D says:

    The last paragraph made me think of a certain They Might Be Giants song. I’m pretty sure you know which one, having used it in your rollercoaster video :p

    1. MintSkittle says:

      For those who might not have seen it yet.

  10. Someone says:

    That’s pretty brave of you, posting pictures of your teenage daughter on The Internet. Did you tell her about it?

    I wouldn’t do something like that if I had one, but then again she’d probably get drawn into this whole “Social networking” nonsense and upload pictures of herself, me and all the other relatives for everyone to see anyway.

    1. Shamus says:

      We’re pretty relaxed about pictures of her on the net. Yes, she knew about it.

      We’ve talked with her many times about internet safety. She has a pretty good sense of safe / unsafe behavior.

    2. RustyBadger says:

      It’s all about managing your online presence, anyhow. If you’re proactive about the material you put up, it will have a positive effect. If you wait for others to post stuff about you (which WILL happen), it will likely require damage control.

  11. krellen says:

    Today is the best day to have a birthday. Sure, I’m biased, but lots of cool and famous people have this birthday. Off the top of my head, I know it includes Betty White, Muhammed Ali (well, Cassius Clay was born on this day; not sure what day Muhammed Ali was “born”), and Ben Franklin. (It also includes Al Capone, but he’s more of the “in” sort of famous.)

    1. Jarenth says:

      Alright, I’ll bite.

      Why are you biased towards today as a birthday?

      1. krellen says:

        Because it’s mine, too?

        1. Klay F. says:

          Turns out my birthday is the same day different year as a horrible space shuttle explosion…

          I’m an accident… YAY?

          /this was sarcasm.

          1. krellen says:

            That’s my father’s birthday. He feels the same way about it as you.

        2. Jarenth says:

          Well how was I supposed to know that?

          Happy belated birthday to you as well, then. ;)

          1. krellen says:

            Aren’t you some kind of mind reader?

            1. Jarenth says:

              I’m more of a prophet slash con artist. Pretending to be you has been a very profitable gig, at least.

              On that note, thanks for the extra intel.

    2. Nidokoenig says:

      Problem is, being in January I can’t help but remember that old joke “Conceive on March 25 and save a fortune on presents!”.

      Congrats to the birthday girl on waiting out another solar rotation.

  12. asterismW says:

    Happy birthday to your daughter! She is adorable.

    The year I turned 25, my dad turned 50. I had no idea we were 25 years apart until that day. All those years of putting his birthday down on forms for school, and I never bothered to do the math. If I had, I could have saved myself the bother of calling him up each time I needed to know the year he was born.

  13. Deadpool says:

    Happy birthday to your daughter.

    And congratulations on also supporting your first teenager… How many more in the way?

    1. Shamus says:

      Middle daughter is 11, son is 9.

      1. Deadpool says:

        So you’ll actually end up with 3 congruent teenagers… Good luck with that! ;)

        Seriously though, congrats…

        1. Vipermagi says:

          I still have no idea why my parents decided to have four kids (and an accidental fifth; me), each approximately 1.2 years apart. Four women in their teens o-O’

  14. Fede says:

    Happy birthday to your daughter!

  15. Dazdya says:

    I am convinced it’s a generational thing. People tend to calculate in the sytem they grew up with, so it will take a generation or two to switch Americans to metric. And seeing how people are waiting longer before having children, they are (very irresponsibly) slowing the rate of progress. It should be a crime.

    1. Klay F. says:

      Its like Battlestar Galactica, once the species gets to a certain point in development, they pretty much stop giving any thought towards the survival of said species, because they pretty much regard it as a given that said species will always be there, even IF said species were then subsequently threatened with extinction, it would be mighty hard (if not impossible) to then revert back to the baby factory ways of their ancestors.

      /high-brow elitism

  16. Josh R says:

    haha you can definitely see the family resemblence.

  17. Mumbles says:

    Yay fellow tall girl. I’d say one of the only frustrating parts of being super tall in high school is having people ask if you play basketball all the friggin’ time. Although, I was already 5’10 when I was 13, so she may not have that problem.

    Man. I miss being 13. Those were the days.

    1. Rodyle says:

      Argh… It’s really odd to look at these numbers and hear: “Wow. You’re tall.” We Dutchies have an average length of 1,77 metres, or about 5’9/5’10.
      And I also dread the imperial system. I can take a solid guess, but yeah… I still have to be off about ten centimetres when not looking this kind of stuff up.

      And Shamus, you probably don’t care about some random guy on the internet, but congratulations with your daughter’s birthday.

      1. Mumbles says:

        5’10 in High School is considered pretty tall for a chick over here. I shot up to 6’0 by the time I was in college. It would be weird hanging out in a country where most people are around my height.

        1. Dante says:

          ok, try being a guy and being 5′ tall.

        2. Rodyle says:

          Ah…. Yes. In high school, it’s pretty tall indeed (though nothing too out of the ordinary over here).

          I’d probably like it at first if I was a good ten centimetres longer than the other people, until about the second time I hit my head because stuff in such a place wouldn’t be made for tall people. I had a lot of issues with that in Austria as well. Those mountain cabins aren’t made for giants…

        3. Jarenth says:

          Come visit, it’s fun. We have cheese and confusing drug laws.

          I think you’re probably taller than me, though, but both my dad and my little brother stick out well above me.

    2. X2-Eliah says:

      That’s not limited to girls, trust me.. *Grumble grumble* It’s practically a running gag.. “Oh look, a tall person! Should I ask him how’s the weather up there? Oh, no, that’s not good. Oh, I know!! Hey! HEY! DO YOU PLAY BASKETBALL?!”

      Damn bastard shorties.

    3. glassdirigible says:

      One doesn’t have to be super tall to be asked that question frequently. 6′ is a fairly common height among guys, but I was asked about basketball far too many times in high school.

      Perhaps it is that “taller than me” simply becomes tall. I know that if I don’t pay attention I can’t tell the difference between 5′ and 5’6″, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the mirror were true for some people.

    4. Mari says:

      I have a question for a tall woman. My tall daughter started cotillion this year and watching her dance with the boys who haven’t even started their growth spurts yet I’ve noticed the fact that every boy is almost exactly chest-height to her. Luckily, for now, they all seem more uncomfortable with it than fascinated and gleeful. But how do you tall girls survive middle-school dances with your dignity in tact?

      1. Mumbles says:

        I would typically avoid wearing heels if I could help it and sort of bend over a little bit to give the illusion that I wasn’t that much taller. Overall, though, the real insecurities are put on the guy for being shorter. Whenever someone called me tall it was usually in amazement, whereas if you call a dude short it’s considered an insult. If I ever act coy about being tall, it’s to help some guy’s ego about being shorter than me.

        1. Chargone says:

          wouldn’t bending over sort of… increase the problem being implied here?

          heh. i read an old Archie comic once… Betty went to a dance with Milton. Milton is not very tall. this is noted to be a problem. Milton suggests she remove her shoes ‘but Milton’ she says ‘I’m six inches taller than you, and only wearing three inch heels’ ‘elementary!’ says he… and somehow contrives to put on her shoes, equalizing their height…

          i’m probably not telling it that well, and half of the humour comes from the fact that he’s more amused by the fact that no one thought of that before than annoyed by the issue coming up in the first place, but still. i was entertained.

          1. Mumbles says:

            Well, considering slow dancing is like having a long hug while moving in a circle, it looks more natural than perhaps described. Though, by High School I stopped caring and I was a lot better off for it.

            I think the humor comes from a dude putting on heels, but that’s just me.

            1. Mari says:

              Unless my kid keeps growing well past where we expect her to I think late middle school will have the problem sorted for her anyway. She just needs the boys to catch up. She’s looking to top out around 5’10” which may put her a little above some of the shorter males but not by an uncomfortable amount.

              In the meantime I passed on the tips and she was relieved. Apparently the biggest problem to her is that the boy she’s crushing on is extra-shrimpy and, well, to put it delicately she has a shelf that rests on top of his head when they dance. Bending a bit should allow more conversation and less awkwardness.

              1. Chargone says:

                clearly i was envisaging a slightly different issue from the one intended then…

                more to do with eye level…

  18. jonesy says:

    Welcome to both the teenager and (later) the 40s clubs. You’re walker will be delivered shortly. Heavy drama and hormones will be provided.

  19. Vekni says:

    Happy birthday internet stranger’s daughter!

    Oldest daughter huh-does this mean you’ll have to face multiple teen daughters at once? If your hair isn’t gray already, it will be! :-P

  20. DaveMc says:

    Oh, and happy birthday to your daughter! We got her what every teenaged girl wants: a long digression on the metric system! :)

    1. Jarenth says:

      We are the best internet birthday service ever.

      Happy birthday! ^^

  21. (LK) says:

    It’s kind of weird when kids that young are taller than adult family members (at least when you’re the aforementioned family member).

    I’m 23 and 5’11” and my 11 year old brother (huge gap isn’t it?) is only about 2″ shorter than me. It’s strange to look him in the eye when I remember him being waist-high just a few years ago.

  22. Ziggywolf5 says:

    Happy birthday to her.
    What did you guys do to celebrate?

    1. Shamus says:

      Birthday party. Sled riding with friends. And cake.

      Fun times.

      1. X2-Eliah says:

        Enjoy it. In 2-3 years, those kinds of parties will not be appreciated, most likely.

        Oh, yes, and God forbid parents attend their kid’s parties…

      2. Mephane says:




  23. Mari says:

    Happy birthday to the eldest daughter, Shamus. I’ve got a 13 year old of my own. It hasn’t been so bad (yet). And if you think you feel old, imagine how much worse I feel. I’m only 33 and have a teen.

    As for her height, maybe she should get together with my 11-year-old. My “baby” is taller than me, measuring in at 5′ 7 1/2″ and still growing. And worse, she’s positively gleeful about that fact. She’s developed a taste for 2 1/2-3″ heels on most of her shoes and giggles every time she looks her dad dead in the eye. Despite being the tallest girl in the class by a full head, she persists in wearing the heels. I’m actually glad. Tall women are beautiful but there are few sights more painful to me than those awkward, tall teen girls who slouch and stare at the floor in an effort to “blend in” with their classmates.

    1. Kacky Snorgle says:

      This. In high school I knew a girl who was 6′ tall in her socks, and usually wore 3″ heels at least. I think she was the only girl I’ve actually liked such high heels on; they look ridiculous when 5’2″ people wear them…. Few things are less attractive than the attempt to compensate for oneself.

      Good to hear that Shamus’s little one (ha!) isn’t afflicted with such. Happy birthday to whom, by the way. :)

  24. thebigJ_A says:

    I have to say I have a pretty good grasp of metric, at least in terms of weight. So do most kids I went to high school with (graduated 2000) and younger. And not because we learned it in class.

    Er, um. I hope your daughter doesn’t learn it the way I did.

  25. Legendary Bard says:

    If it makes you feel better, Shamus, you’re the coolest old guy I know.

    1. Nidokoenig says:

      He’s pretty cute for an old guy, too.

  26. Avilan says:

    Congratulations! or something. :) Best wishes for her, you and everyone else in the family.

  27. Ian says:

    Happy birthday, Rachel! Welcome to teendom.

  28. James says:

    Seems appropriate for the parent of a freshly-minted teenager

    Here’s some classic Harry Enfield; (US people beware, this is BritCom)

    Kevin, on the night of his 13th birthday, becomes a teenger;

  29. Cthulhu says:

    My least favorite commonly-used unit of measure here is the acre. It’s 1/640 of a square mile. But 640 isn’t a perfect square. If you tried to tile a square mile with square-shaped acres of land, it wouldn’t work, despite the size of an acre being defined in terms of the size of a square mile. It’s mind-boggling. Not to mention the sheer pointlessness of having a unit of measure that can only be used for area, instead of just having one for length and using powers to indicate dimension… especially when we already have another unit for measuring length.

    1. Chargone says:

      actually, we have a hectare (which i’m never sure of the spelling of and couldn’t tell you the size of to save my life) which is apparently a metric measure of land area or some such.

      you will only ever see it used when measuring land though… otherwise everyone uses powers of linear units, as you advocate.

    2. Mari says:

      I have a sort-of answer on that. You have to know the next step of the conversion process. An acre is 1/640 of a mile. A section is 640 acres. Ergo, a section of land is 1 mile squared. My husband farms 3 sections of land, or 1920 acres of land. It doesn’t make sense to say he farms so many “miles” of land. My cattle graze a quarter section or 160 acres. Again miles isn’t a logical unit of measure.

  30. Specktre says:

    Happy birthday kiddo!

    So she’s what? 5’9″ or something at 13 of age? Daaang!

  31. Koriantor says:

    Wow… I never realized you were THAT old. I’m less than half your age! Happy Belated Birthday to your daughter!

    1. Sumanai - a grouchy ball of cynical pessimism says:

      And happy “feeling old day” to Shamus, eh?

  32. Cuthalion says:

    Late happy birthday to her!

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