Friday, 16 April 2021

Bob Seger's Old Time Rock & Roll Live

In 2004, American rock singer Bob Seger was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. One of the two songs he performed with the Silver Bullet Band at his induction ceremony was his iconic hit “Old Time Rock & Roll”. The song comes from his 1978 album “Stranger in Town” and I wrote an article about the making of it for its 40th anniversary three years ago. I recently discovered an official video of him performing that song that was uploaded by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame last year to YouTube on Bob Seger 75th birthday. I’m pleased that they uploaded this video as I had been wanting to see this performance for years. In this post, I’m embedding the video below with my thoughts on it afterward.


This version has similarities to the live version on his 1981 live album “Nine Tonight” which includes the rockier guitar solos by Drew Abbott, Alto Reed’s saxophone solos and Craig Frost’s piano. I’m pleased that this version has the original piano intro which is played by Craig Frost unlike the “Nine Tonight” version that uses a long guitar intro. A new component in this version is the more intense guitars which probably comes from Mark Chatfield who plays guitar alongside original Silver Bullet Band guitarist Drew Abbott. I’m glad that Drew reunited with the Silver Bullet Band for Bob Seger’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction. 


You can see Bob’s enthusiasm and happiness in his performance. It’s evident when he calls and points to Drew Abbott before Drew’s first solo. This solo is Drew’s own creation taking inspiration from the song’s original solo by Forrest McDonald. About a minute later Alto performs his solo which is a more soulful variant of his original solo that’s been heard numerous times the world over. It’s special to see Alto as he sadly passed away in December 2020. 


I like how this version is longer than the original as there is an extended section near the end of the song. This section includes another guitar solo by Drew that takes elements from the guitar notes towards the end of the studio version. Alto also plays his saxophone solo a second time. It’s great to see Craig play prominent rock & roll piano notes in the middle of Alto’s solo. Old Time Rock & Roll is a globally popular classic rock song which is a celebration of the power of music, specifically rock & roll music. While Bob is singing about 50s rock & roll, to me this song is a celebration of his and other great rock & roll from his generation.


Friday, 9 April 2021

Cerno's Colombo

There is a popular Sri Lankan blogger who blogs under his online name Cerno. Five years ago, he made his Flickr photos in the public domain. I found great photos of Colombo, Sri Lanka in his Flickr so I decided to write a blog post using some of his Colombo photos with commentary by me.


We’ll begin with two photos of Independence Square. I like the angle he took in the second photo

which is capturing the Independence Memorial Hall in a great way. 



This is a nice shot of Colombo at night featuring interesting light effects.


This is what Cerno calls an “Unglamorous Colombo panorama”. He had taken this photo from Durdans Hospital in 2007. While this isn’t the poshest aspect of Colombo, I wouldn’t call it unglamorous. I think it’s a nice depiction of the Colombo suburbs. The abundance of buildings in Colombo are often criticised, but for me that’s part of Colombo’s charm. This picture has a lot of trees alongside buildings which I think is an aspect of the Colombo look and feel.


Here’s an old photo of Colombo probably taken in the mid or late 1980s. Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court complex can be seen in the picture. Colombo looks so different to how it is now.


Here’s a photo of Colombo taken much more recently in December 2012. This provides a strong

contrast to the previous picture taken in the 1980s. While both photos were taken from different places,

they both point towards Colombo Fort with the Bank of Ceylon building being the most common link

between the two. I personally prefer contemporary Colombo. This is the first in a set of photos Cerno

seems to have taken from a building.


Here’s a panorama taken from the same position, thus we get a much wider view including a better

look at the sea. Just like in the previous photo, we see alongside buildings many trees and the Beira

Lake.


There are quite a few colourful buildings in this photo. 


I’ll end this with a lovely shot of contemporary Colombo featuring modern buildings. We also see some

green with the trees, the Beira Lake and a bit of grass. One thing I’ve noticed in these four photos is

that there is hardly any traffic on the Colombo roads which seems strange to me as this is daytime

when the traffic is very intense. The peaceful Colombo roads are good to see.


These photos showcase attributes of Colombo which includes its history, modernity, uniqueness and

colour. If you enjoyed this, you may be interested in my previous blog post “Captivating Colombo

featuring photos I took of Colombo. I also started off that post with Independence Square. 

Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Ten Great Non-Relationship Rock Songs by Ten Different Singers

While romantic relationships are the most popular song topic, I personally prefer lyrics about other topics. Therefore, I decided to compile a list of classic rock songs about other issues. I had previously written a similar article featuring many of the same artists called “Ten Great Piano Rock Songs by Ten Different Singers”. There is also piano on all of these songs as I like piano in rock music. Two of the songs use electric piano and more than half of them feature its piano part played by the singer-songwriter. I’m featuring the official YouTube embeds for each of these songs so you can listen to any or all of them if you wish.


Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? - Chicago (1969)


I’m discussing the arrangement of the album version which opens with a long jazz solo by pianist Robert Lamm, also the songwriter and singer of the song. After the solo the horns come in a good way. This song is jazz rock. There are good backing vocals by Peter Cetera and Terry Kath. I like how there is also some talking in the background. The song opens with someone being asked what the time is. He responds with a long humorous monologue beginning with “Does anybody really know what time it is”. This humorous monologue is the chorus which has two more different prompts leading to it.


Doctor My Eyes - Jackson Browne (1972)


This song is about a person talking to a doctor therapist seeking help. It deals with this person’s

perceptions of the world where he is talking to his doctor. Jackson plays the piano on this song. The

song has good congas by Russ Kunkel who also plays drums. Jackson’s YouTube channel recently

released a live performance of the song which is even better as it has rockier guitar and the addition of organ.


Kings - Steely Dan (1972)


This song is about English King Richard from the 12th century by jazz rock band Steely Dan. It talks about his issues which include his plundering which makes me think of corrupt heads of state. It also talks positively about his brother King John who succeeded him. I would like to give my views of these kings, but I won’t as I know hardly anything about them. This song has rocking piano and jazz influenced guitar including a solo. The piano part is played by singer and co-writer Donald Fagen.


Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy - Elton John (1975)


This is the opening track from Elton John’s 1975 album of the same name. It is about Elton John

(Captain Fantastic) and his lyricist Bernie Taupin (The Brown Dirt Cowboy). It opens with Davey

Johnstone’s acoustic guitars also featuring Elton’s electric piano. It sounds country in the first verse,

before making the sudden switch to hard rock in the chorus where Davey’s intense electric guitars

come in. The next verse goes back to the country sound but with a rock presence as there is some

electric guitar now. It ends with the same opening. Interestingly, a modified version of the same

opening/closing part was used in the closing title track of the 2006 sequel album “The Captain & The Kid”. The lyrics “The Captain and the Kid” were mentioned in this song. I love the lyric “From the end of the world to your town”. 


Hello Old Friend - Eric Clapton (1976)


I would classify this song as both pop rock and country rock. This song is about the pleasure of seeing a friend or acquaintance after a while. It has good positive vibes. There is a keyboard presence of piano and organ. Eric’s guitar shines throughout with his playing. 


The Logical Song - Supertramp (1979)


This is a Roger Hodgson Supertramp song in the light progressive rock style. Roger plays a notable electric piano part. This song deals with the meaning of life and has thought provoking lyrics. Roger

sings how special life was in his childhood, which unfortunately changed when he was sent to boarding school. He is critiquing what we are taught at school. There is a reference to cynicism which is a view I personally am not fond of. There is a nice saxophone solo by John Helliwell. 


I Gotta Try - Kenny Loggins (1982) 


This song was written by Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald. Michael first released his version in August 1982 and Kenny released his version one month later. While both versions are soft rock,

Kenny’s version rocks better. Michael does play keyboards on this version too. The song seems to talk about the importance of trying to make your life better. It points out how people’s perceptions differ with truth being a theme of this song. The importance of persistence is given. I love the lyrics “They say it’s a hopeless fight, but I say I gotta try”. There are some lyrical similarities with the previous song as both deal with issues we face in this world.


Sometimes - Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band (1986)


It’s now time to change the pace up with a harder rocking song. This song has very good lyrics about someone who has issues with his life connected with where he lives so he wants to move somewhere else. There’s a saxophone solo by the late Alto Reed. Alto was Bob Seger’s saxophonist in the Silver Bullet Band who sadly passed away in December 2020. The saxophone solo is followed by a melodic piano solo and an intense guitar solo. There are horns throughout the song. Towards the end of the song, there are good piano notes. 


The Doctor - The Doobie Brothers (1989)


This song opens with a good piano/guitar rocking combination. I suspect the piano is played by Bill

Payne, who was the piano player on the previous song. It is about the healing power of music,

referring to music as the doctor. This is the second doctor song on this list. It is sung by Tom Johnston and is the last hit single by The Doobie Brothers. It features a powerful guitar solo by Tom. This song reminds me of Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock & Roll” with its lyrics and musical sound. There are the similar lyrics “good time rock and roll”. I love the lyrics “Music is the doctor of my soul” which rings true to me. 


The River Of Dreams - Billy Joel (1993)


This is a gospel rock song which seems to be about the meaning of life. Billy sings about “searching

for something” in his dreams involving a river which he is required to cross. Crossing this river is

difficult. There are prominent gospel style backing vocals. This song is very melodic and has a brilliant rocking piano solo by Billy.  


I hope you enjoyed reading about and/or listening to these songs. They address a variety of themes

which include politics, identity, loneliness, persistence, the meaning of life, the state of the world and

friendship. Feel free to give your thoughts and interpretations on any of these songs. I’d be interested in hearing them. 


Tuesday, 15 December 2020

Ten Virtual Scenic Sri Lankan Views

 

I decided to compile a list of ten virtual natural scenic views of Sri Lanka from Google Street View. If any of the Google Street View content does not load, you can view them by clicking the “View on Google Maps” button. For the blog post image, I am using one I took near Kadugannawa featuring Bible Rock at the start of this year. I featured a similar image in my blog post “Diverse Views of Sri Lanka”. The first place I’m featuring was taken nearby in Kadugannawa itself. 


Here’s green scenery taken on Kandy Road.


A bridge overlooking the Negombo Lagoon.

A view of the Maskeliya Reservoir.

A view of palm trees by a railway in Bentota.

A view of the Mahamodara Lake in Galle taken from a bridge.

A view of palm trees in Kodikamam near Jaffna.

A field in Polonnaruwa.

This is also in Polonnaruwa. It’s on Bund Road featuring a lake. 

This is Arugam Bay with the rock formation Crocodile Rock seen ahead. I like the name Crocodile Rock as it’s also a song by my favourite singer Elton John who was the subject of my previous blog post.

We’ll conclude this list with the town of Inginiyagala in the Uva Province.

Tuesday, 8 December 2020

Ten Great Electric Piano Elton John Songs

  

Photo 52840730 © - Dreamstime.com


Elton John is a globally popular singer, songwriter and piano player. When it comes to piano featured in his songs, it’s usually acoustic piano. However, there are songs by him featuring electric piano. I decided to compile a list of ten electric piano Elton John songs. Elton plays the electric piano on all songs on this list except for one of them. These songs showcase rock and a variety of other genres which are pop, soul, jazz & country. Elton wrote the music for all the songs with the exception of one song that he co-wrote the melody with Tim Renwick and the lyrics are by Elton’s long-time songwriting partner Bernie Taupin except for three songs whose lyrics are by Gary Osborne. I’d like to point out that I don’t discuss the electric piano used in every song with my focus being on the songs in general.


Lady Samantha (1969)

This is one of Elton’s early singles before he was famous. The song opens with electric piano and guitar parts which are soon joined by organ. I believe Elton is also playing the organ which has a good presence. This song rocks intensely. Caleb Quaye plays strong blues rock guitar and concludes the song well. This is reflective of late 60s rock.


Philadelphia Freedom (1975)

This is one of Elton’s most well known hits which came out at the peak of his popularity. There is an orchestra and rocking guitars by Davey Johnstone. Davey is Elton’s long-time guitarist who plays on six of the songs on this list. The electric piano is warm and has parts where it's more prominent as there are so many instruments on this song. This song is a mix of rock and soul. It’s a celebration of Philadelphia and also America.


Feed Me (1975)

This song’s electric piano is played by famous film composer James Newton Howard who joined the Elton John band for the “Rock of the Westies” album this song’s from. The guitar parts by Davey Johnstone and Caleb Quaye are throughout the song and there is a good rocking riff brought in at the last minute of the song. This song has a good 70s rock feel.


Shooting Star (1978)

This song and the next two are written with lyricist Gary Osborne who Elton worked with in the late 70s and early 80s. This song’s electric piano is credited to “Fender Rhodes”. As a Fender Rhodes is a type of electric piano, it is most likely Elton who played it. This is a jazz song. I like it when Elton does jazz. The bass is noticeable and there is a good beat. There is a saxophone which comes in about a minute into the song and continues its presence till the end.


Dreamboat (1978)

We’re going from a short song to a long song of seven and a half minutes. This was also recorded during the sessions for “A Single Man” (the album the previous song’s from), but appears as a bonus track on 1983’s “Too Low For Zero” as it was a B-Side to one of its singles. This song is co-written with Tim Renwick who plays the guitars on this song. It’s opened by a guitar riff which is soon joined by Elton’s electric piano and singing. Elton plays both electric piano and organ. Just before the chorus there is a second guitar part which rocks that comes in and out of the song. The lyrics “fires are burning down below” reminds me of the Bob Seger song “The Fire Down Below”. There are strings and some guitar solos in this song. At about the six minute and twenty second mark, there is a good electric piano part by Elton.


Take Me Back (1980)

This is a country song with Elton playing a Wurlitzer electric piano. The electric piano is prominent at the start of the song. Soon the other instruments such as the guitars come in louder. There’s a fiddle solo, a staple of some country songs. Elton sings in a southern accent and plays the electric piano in a country style.   


A Word in Spanish (1988)

This is a ballad which interestingly was a Top 20 US hit. Elton is singing powerfully and the electric

piano is prominent in parts of the verses. Two thirds into the song Davey plays a brilliant Spanish guitar solo. The song concludes with a good organ part. 


Club at the End of the Street (1989)

This song as well as the next three are from the “Sleeping with the Past” album which is one of my favourite Elton John albums. The album was influenced by soul music and the songs I selected have a soft rock vibe. All songs on this list from that album open with Jonathan Moffett’s drums. At times the melodic organ part is prominent by Fred Mandel who played keyboards and guitar on this album. Jonathan and Fred were both members of the Elton John band while this album was being recorded. This song showcases the power of Elton John’s voice. In the chorus, there is a good backing vocal part going something like “dowap do do do”. There’s an incredible saxophone solo by Vince Denham. This song’s style is interesting as it isn’t a proper rock song, but it’s not quite a ballad either. It has a good upbeat feel.   


Stones Throw From Hurtin’ (1989)

The song opens with a guitar riff that is played throughout the song. Elton sings in an unusual way that doesn’t sound like his normal voice. I read that he achieved this by whispering into the microphone. There is a light guitar part at about the two and a half minute mark. In the last minute there’s a sudden intense guitar solo by Fred Mandel. This solo makes it the rockiest of the three songs and this song is kind of blues rock.


Sacrifice (1989)

This is one of Elton’s most well known ballads. It opens with Elton’s electric piano. It's driven by Elton’s singing. There are prominent keyboard parts which come in and out of the song. About two thirds into the song, Davey plays an interesting electric guitar part which comes back at the end of the song. 


This was a showcase of electric piano Elton John songs. These songs reflect the melodic skills of Elton John as a songwriter including the diversity of the different types of songs he has written. The twenty year period these songs are from give us an insight into the Elton John sound at different periods of his career. The songs have been recorded in the UK, Denmark, France and the US. If you enjoyed this article, you might enjoy my previous one “Ten Powerful Rock Ballads by Elton John”. 

Thursday, 26 November 2020

Sri Lanka 50 Years of Metric: Late Changes and Current Usage

Trilingual highway sign in km in modern Sri Lanka 


This is part two of the article "Sri Lanka 50 Years of Metric" giving the story of how Sri Lanka switched to the metric system as this year is the 50th anniversary of Sri Lanka's metric system adoption. Click here to read part one. This part will go over late changes of conversion carried out, the drawbacks that exist today and Sri Lanka's current usage of the metric system. This article will be holding the Sri Lankan government and the National Metric Conversion Authority to account for their performance in converting Sri Lanka to a metric country. The images of the three posters featured in this article were taken at the National Archives of Sri Lanka of the National Metric Conversion Authority Archives Holding #143. The holding details are mentioned in brackets below each poster image.


Late Conversions

Following the National Metric Conversion Authority's disbandment, in the 1980s Sri Lanka was in a

very muddled state of measurement. According to page 326 of "Insight Guides Sri Lanka" Fifth Edition

(1987), during that decade the odometer of some cars were measured in kilometres with other cars in

miles. They also mentioned that most people still thought in imperial units and that the government

was very involved in converting the country to metric. An example of changes that decade was the

new metric construction regulations in 1986 which came as the Planning and Building Regulations.

These regulations were brought under the Urban Development Authority Act via a Government

Gazette.  


The Survey Department of Sri Lanka was metricating their maps in the 1980s. These new metric maps had a scale of 1:50,000 and were completed from 1985 to 1996. The way the 1:50,000 scale works is that 1 millimetre on the map is equal to 50,000 millimetres (50 metres) on the ground. Therefore, 1 centimetre is equal to 0.5 kilometre and 2 centimetres is equal to 1 kilometre. If the whole 1:50,000 scale map of Sri Lanka was drawn, it would have the dimensions of 8.64 metres by 4.48 metres which is 38.71 square metres, the size of a small apartment. For practical purposes, the topographic map of Sri Lanka is divided into 92 map sheets with a name and a sheet number.


A New Measurement Act 

As a result of Sri Lanka having a new measurement system, an act was needed to legally specify the metric system. A new act was created in 1995 which specified the units to be used in its schedules. This act was known as the Measurement Units, Standards and Services Act, No. 35 of 1995. Mrs. Devalakshmi Balasundaram who was part of the National Metric Conversion Authority, was involved in the drafting of this act. The act established the Measurements Units, Standards and Services Department (MUSSD) in 1997. The MUSSD is responsible for Sri Lanka's use of the International System of Units (SI Units). 


Imperial Hangovers 

Unfortunately, a noticeable amount of imperial units continue to be used in Sri Lanka. Feet and inches

are still in widespread use. Height of buildings is usually given in metres, but it's common to see

heights of mountains and above sea level in feet. Feet and/or inches is used in some product

descriptions, dimensions or sizes. Feet is sometimes used in signs and research publications. The

advertising industry uses feet for billboards (which stands in contrast to centimetres used for

newspaper ads). The width of a road is referred to in feet. 


Some industries that use imperial include tailors using inches (which stands in contrast with fabric sold by the metre), golf courses using yards and recipes using inches. British thermal units (BTU) and horsepower are still being used. The Chairman of the National Metric Conversion Authority Mr. H.L.K. Goonetilleke said in a 1979 speech that the Paddy Marketing Board is switching away from the bushel, yet bushels still have some use for paddy in agriculture. Feet has some use in dams. Related to it, acre-feet is still used for reservoir capacity, though it's getting more common to see Million Cubic Metres (MCM) used instead. Cubic feet have some use for natural gas.


Some mileposts remain, though it is mostly kilometre stones which are seen throughout Sri Lanka. A

2004 letter to the editor reported that there are sellers in Gampaha measuring rice in the traditional

seruwa dry measurement as well as textiles sold by the yard. There is also the issue of incorrect metric

usage, where kilometres per hour is usually referred to in the incorrect abbreviation kmph including on

most road signs. The correct abbreviation is km/h.


Temperature

Celsius is used consistently for temperature, yet many Sri Lankans use Fahrenheit for body

temperature. However, progress has been seen in this sector, as it is increasingly common to see Sri

Lankans using Celsius for body temperature. A poster shown below produced during metrication

shows the difference of one degree increments in Celsius for body temperature. Contrast this with the

Fahrenheit scale which uses decimal places for the same information. Also, some devices which heat

tea leaves in tea plantations use Fahrenheit as the equipment is very old. This provides a great

opportunity for Sri Lankan entrepreneurs or the private sector to create new modern digital devices

using Celsius to replace the old ones that could utilise smart technology. 


Poster on Temperature in English made during metrication which is useful in educating Sri Lankans

today about body temperature in Celsius (SLNA 143/57)


Metric Paper 

Sri Lanka uses the metric A4 paper, yet many digital documents are in Letter format (a US non-metric paper size that is shorter and wider than A4) due to the unfortunate issue of piracy, where pirated software is used directly from the US that has US settings. It can also occur in free services like Google Docs due to it having Letter as the default setting. Documents can be changed to A4 in the settings. Using A4 paper for both digital documents and sheets of paper will not give you the extra white space on the top and bottom when printing a Letter document on A4 paper as both dimensions are in alignment.


Metric Area Measurements

Area measurements is a sector that still has imperial set as its primary measurement units. The usual practice in this sector are square feet for houses & buildings and perches, roods & acres for land, though square kilometres are used for the sizes of large lands. Frontage is also referred to in feet. It is worth noting that Dr. Ronald T. Wijewantha (Chairman of the National Metrication Board) mentioned in a 1974 talk that after the metrication process all transactions including land should be in metric and that the Measurement Units, Standards and Services Act, No. 35 of 1995 requires land to be sold in metric units.


However, there are some sectors where metric area measurements have significant use, is the

preferred or standard unit. The government uses metric area measurements as their primary units

such as square metres for built-up areas. However, certain government departments' area

measurements are set to imperial and some government personnel may revert or choose to use those

units. The state run Board of Investment (BOI) has some area investment conditions in imperial and

some in metric which can be confusing for international investors to secure much needed Foreign

Direct Investment (FDI). When it comes to foreign funded or assisted projects, it is common to see

metric area measurements. It is good to see this occurring even in instances when the foreign

involvement comes from another metric country that still measures area in imperial units such as

Singapore or Hong Kong. 


The agricultural industry often uses hectares. Many tea plantation signs give its extent in hectares. I

am not sure if it applies to other agricultural plantations. Hectares is the preferred unit in forestry

including reforestation. Some researchers use hectares in their research on land issues. Surveyors

report in both imperial and metric with hectares being the primary unit. While many architects use

square feet, square metres have some usage in architecture. The construction industry and civil

engineering uses square metres. The floor space for convention and exhibition stalls are rented out in

square metres. Sri Lanka's post-war demining work is done in square metres. It is common to have

square metres used for swimming pools' area. Also, there are the occasional uses of metric area

measurements used in instances with no foreign or government involvement which are the size of a

building/land, property listing of a house, apartment or land and office space for rent or lease. These

instances are listed in either metric and imperial or metric only.   


All metric tea plantation sign including hectares as Ha 

© Martin Silva Cosentino | Dreamstime.com 


According to materials produced during Sri Lanka's metrication, this sector was intended to be

converted properly, as can be seen by posters made about metric area measurements by the National

Metric Conversion Authority featured below. These posters are useful today in educating Sri Lankans

about metric area measurements. Though square metres still isn't frequently used, it is good to see

that this unit has been used in Sri Lanka for a long time, as in 1971 latex/oil blending for the rubber

industry estimated its cost at 50 Rupees per 100 square metres.


Sinhala Conversion Poster on Metric Area Measurements (SLNA 143/61)


English Poster on Metric Area Measurements (SLNA 143/60)


I will mention some factors that may have contributed to the present situation. Many property

transactions are direct person to person. The Metric Units (Consequential Provisions) (Amendment) Act, No. 10 of 1983 that converted laws to metric used decimal places in its square metres conversions from square feet. There is this misconception that when listing small land in metric in Sri Lanka you would use decimal hectares instead of square metres as some government projects use this. 85 square metres sounds better than 0.0085 hectares. It is interesting to note that the 6th Departmental Survey Regulations by the Survey Department published this year, mentioned that if land surveyed has one or more decimal points in hectares, its equivalent size should be provided in square metres to assist the layman.


The government had two opportunities to educate the public and convert the area measurement sector

to metric which they unfortunately did not use. The first was during Sri Lanka's metrication, as square

metres could have easily been introduced to the general public while it was being introduced to the

construction industry. The second was with the passing of the Measurement Units, Standards and

Services Act in 1995. Those interested in this topic may wish to check out my article "The Case for

Metric Land Measurements in Sri Lanka" about this issue. 


Media

The media keep using certain imperial units most notably feet, inches, imperial area units, and to a

lesser extent yards and miles. This encourages Sri Lankans to sometimes think in old units, especially

the younger generations who have been educated in metric. It is not good to see an article using feet

many times without a mention of metres after several decades of metrication. 


Government

Most legislation is in metric, and there is a small amount of imperial legislation that remains either due

to those legislations having not converted or with the government's continued use of imperial in some

sectors. The government's main continuing imperial use includes feet and imperial area measurements

in legislation, regulations, projects or studies. 


Confusing Mix-Ups

Having feet and inches in widespread use results in some cases of a confusing mix-up of units. I will

mention a few of these I have noticed. Doors sold with height/width dimensions in feet and thickness in

millimetres - the correct practice is millimetres for all units. Exercise books giving dimensions in inches

and paper quality in grams per square metre (gsm) - the correct practice is dimensions in millimetres

or centimetres and paper quality in gsm. It is due to an incorrect perception in Sri Lanka of the foot

being a valid alternative to the metre and the inch being a valid alternative to the centimetre that leads

to these non-legal units having official uses with laws on metric units being ignored. Going back and

forth between feet and metres which occurs in Sri Lanka can lead you to confuse one unit with the

other.  


Suggestions to Complete Metrication

The main reason for some continuing imperial usage is because the National Metric Conversion Authority let the old units continue to be used alongside their metric counterparts in some sectors according to Dr. G.M.S. de Silva (Secretary of the National Metrication Board) in his article "Confusion over half-way conversions". Our continuing use of imperial in some sectors is preventing us from using the full potential of the metric system. It is unfortunate that some units that are no longer legal continue to be used. As this is the 50th anniversary of the metric system adoption in Sri Lanka, I think it is good to strive for a better usage of the metric system. This includes getting familiar with and using metric units in a sector where it is not common, e.g. road widths in metres, tailoring in millimetres, body temperature in Celsius, etc.


The following are my suggestions to complete metrication. I call on the MUSSD to carry out a study on

how well Sri Lanka is using the metric system and work to complete metrication. The MUSSD should

convert industries still using imperial including tailoring and area measurements to metric. Businesses

selling rates and/or working in old units should be required to switch. The MUSSD should come up

with requirements and give industries a timeframe to get used to it before enforcing it. They can

educate industry & the general public on body temperature in Celsius, square metres and hectares

including incorporating those units into schools' and higher education institutions' curriculums. The

media should introduce metric guidelines for their staff and metricate their newspaper property listings.

Further, future speed signs should use the correct abbreviation km/h with the existing ones gradually

replaced. 


Examples of Metric Usage in Day to Day Life

The following are examples of metric usage in Sri Lanka right now.


Petrol filling station in litres


Height above sea level of town Balana at train station in metres


5 metre bridge height clearance sign


 

Distance sign in kilometres


Kilometre stones


Distance signs to places in metres


Supermarket items in kilograms


5000 millilitre (5 litre) bottled water


Celsius oven 


Tissue sizes in millimetres 


Conclusion - Metric Sri Lanka

While it is true that some imperial usage continues, the metric system is the measurement system used by Sri Lankans. We have made significant progress from the muddled measurement of the 1980s. Metric usage has been increasing in Sri Lanka due to the younger generations being the most metricated. Even the less popular metric units square metres, hectares and body temperature in Celsius are used more. Metric units are frequently seen throughout Sri Lanka. Thank you very much to former Surveyor General of Sri Lanka Mr. Elmore Perera for taking the time to be interviewed by me to discuss metrication in the Survey Department, Director General of the National Archives of Sri Lanka Dr. Nadeera Rupesinghe for her assistance prior to visiting the National Archives and to Prof. David Robson (Architecture) & Dr. Lalith Goonatilake (Trade & Development Specialist) for responding to my queries relating to this article.


Making Sri Lanka a metric country helped the country's exports and made measurement more convenient for the country. Sri Lankans' use of the metric system in their day to day life includes purchasing food by the kilogram, filling up petrol by the litre, reading the weather in Celsius and driving distances in kilometres & speeds in kilometres per hour. Sri Lanka has used the metric system for 50 years and will continue doing so going forward. 

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