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On the Edge of Common Sense: Standard size

Contributed by Baxter Black Published on 29 September 2017

Mac told me a harrowing tale about losing a loaded six-horse trailer off the back of his pickup. He admitted he knew the ball was too small – but it wasn’t far to go; it was gettin’ dark; the kids were restless; it was a new moon; the tide was running out; his hat was too tight – whatever the excuse he needed to justify not changing the ball.

I agreed, noting that the hitch on my wood splitter was smaller than my stock trailer and I often had to make my daughter stand on the tongue when I moved the splitter around the place.

We concurred: There are some things in life that should be standard size. A law should be passed that makes it illegal to build any contraption that takes less than a 2-inch ball hitch.

Not only that, said Mac, plastic fittings. If you don’t have the exact coupling, you have to rig a cobbled-together one reducing, enlarging, sliding, snapping or screwing a menagerie of fittings to get you by until you can get to town for just the right part. Meantime, your repaired section of pipe looks like a peyote smoker’s whiskey still.

Have you ever tried to buy a drill chuck? “What size?” asks the friendly hardware man. “Well, I don’t know. It’s just a reg’lar drill, but it’s settin’ on my shop bench 36 miles from here.”

How ’bout medicine and vaccine doses ? 100,000 units per cc, 5 mg per ml, 200 mg per cc administered at the rate of 2 mg per pound bodyweight, 3 cc for calves under 200 pounds, 10 cc per hundredweight, two pills for children, a tablespoon for adults. I heard one vet say he determined dose by the size of pistol-grip syringe the cowboy had.

Now, Mac and I allow that horse shoes, Levis, pickup seats, jalapeños and spouses can be variable ... to suit the owner or operator. But what possible excuse can be made to explain why, in the past 20 years, car companies had manufactured thousands of different kinds of oil filters.

Just tryin’ to find one that fits your truck in the car parts catalogue is like tryin’ to find a bareback riggin’ in a New Delhi landfill.

Folding chairs, square headlights, computer parts, electrical connections, bolts, wood stoves, belt loops, haying equipment, gate hinges, tax regulations, hunting laws, political promises, economists’ predictions and legal loopholes all come in such an array of shapes and sizes that what you thought you had that might have worked is now obsolete.

I finally put together a complete collection of wrenches and sockets – only to find the world’s gone metric.

One of my oft-married friends finally solved his problem. I envy his ingenuity. He ordered a wedding ring with an aluminum band. “Perfect,” he said. “Fits any finger.”  end mark

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