Friday, March 06, 2015

How Are You Celebrating "National Weights and Measures Week"?

I got a press release from the The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (ADOT&PF) announcing that
The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (ADOT&PF) joins the National Conference on Weights and Measures to observe National Weights and Measures Week, March 1-7, 2015. Accurate and reliable weights and measures protect buyers and sellers in virtually all sales of goods in the United States, including Alaska.
I know this sounds a little strange, but weights and measures is one of those invisible government functions that nobody ever things about until they fill up their half empty gas tank with a lot more gas than it should have taken and they start wondering - could I really have needed 35 gallons of gas?  My tank only holds 15. 

You probably never think about these things - I tend not to - but it's part of what makes a market economy work.  The trust that things are accurately measured allows us to buy and sell without spending extra time and resources to confirm the measures.   Few of us seriously question the scales at the supermarket or a whole slew of things that get measured by standard measures, supervised by government employees. 

Much of government works that way.  We don't realize it's there until it doesn't work.  It runs smoothly in the background. 

And when 'cut gov' advocates start slashing away, they're not all that different in their thinking than when terrorists destroy ancient artifacts.   In both cases, they aren't aware of the greater value of what they are destroying in their blind faith in an ideology.  Fortunately, this week in Washington, cooler heads prevailed and Homeland Security wasn't left unfunded

The press release goes on to say:
The theme of National Weights and Measures Week 2015, “On the Path to Tomorrow,” recognizes that weights and measures inspectors must continually strive to keep pace with advancing technologies. A rapidly developing science for MS/CVE regulatory officials is the evaluation process of new measuring devices that supply alternate energy resources such as natural gas, hydrogen and electricity for rechargeable motor vehicles.
Today’s inspectors receive continuous training to insure that accuracy testing is performed to national standards, whether they are inspecting a 21st century scale used in the salmon industry, a high-tech fuel delivery meter on an oil delivery truck or the precision scales used to buy precious metals.
According to the blog post by Carol Hockert on the US Department of Commerce website
"It’s held annually during the first week of March to commemorate President John Adams's signing of the first U.S. weights and measures law on March 2, 1799. . ."
Who's Hockert?  She was appointed as the director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in 2006 after serving in a similar post in Minnesota.  The blog post goes on to say they are now working on standards for electric car batteries.  

So get out there and weigh and measure.  Saturday's the last day.  The official dessert for this week is pound cake. 

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