Highs and Lows and Other Weirdness #socs

Naturally, when I hear “high” and “low,” I think of weather. You know, high and low temperatures, high and low pressure, etc. Did you know that in Canada, 30 degrees means it’s hot, and in the US 30 degrees means it’s cold? See, 30 Canada degrees is equivalent to 86 US degrees, while 30 US degrees is equivalent to -1 degrees (approximately) Canadian. It’s different with money…

Speaking of money, “high” and “low” makes me think of the stock market, when they talk at the end of the day whether the market is higher or lower, and how many stocks set new highs and new lows. The stock markets have been doing very well lately, and I hope it continues, because my retirement savings are all invested in the stock market. Which reminds me, I need to start moving some of my savings into something more secure.

Oh, and music, with high and low pitches. The A below middle C vibrates at 440 cycles per second, also called 440 Hertz, named for Heinrich Hertz, who is not the same guy that started the car rental company. The A above middle C vibrates at 880 Hz, the one above that at 1760 Hz… notice a pattern? Then you know the A below the A below middle C vibrates at 220 Hz, the one below that at 110 Hz, etc. Now, that’s at concert pitch, which some people argue should be higher than 440, others argue should be lower. As long as everyone is in tune, it doesn’t matter.

And, speaking of another kind of pitches, in baseball, pitches can be high or low, inside or outside. When a pitcher throws a ball to a batter, he’s aiming for the strike zone, which is defined in the official rules of baseball as over home plate, between the top of the batter’s knees and the middle of his chest (called “the letters,” because that’s normally where the name and/or logo of the team is on the player’s shirt). Of course, that all depends on the judgment of the home-plate umpire, who tends to have his own strike zone that might be wider than the 15″ width of the plate (38.1 cm for you metric fans) and might have different upper and lower boundaries, depending on who’s pitching, who’s hitting, whether or not the umpiring crew has to leave to go elsewhere after the game, whether or not it’s raining or threatening to rain, and how big of an asshole he is.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little walk through the deepest recesses of my mind.


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Author: John Holton

I'm a writer and blogger who writes and blogs about things that interest me.

24 thoughts on “Highs and Lows and Other Weirdness #socs”

  1. I remember when we went to Celsius and I got used to it. I got used to our miles changed to km and that’s ok but I can’t get used to the inches changed to metres. It’s been decades but I still use inches and feet. What’s funny is that most people still talk inches and feet, we can still buy tape measures using this and reality shows that fix up homes..they still use inches.

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    1. The other thing is cooking measures, especially when baking. If a cake recipe calls for 2 cups of flour, there isn’t a whole lot of leeway, and if you round that up to 500cc, you have to increase everything else by the same proportion. The conversions aren’t clean, either: 1 foot=30.48 cm, 1 ounce=29.5 ml etc. Since so many buildings were designed in inches and feet, You almost have to stay with those measurements to get it right.

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  2. Concert pitch tuning = A440. It’s the A above middle C.

    If you’re the keyboard player, everyone had to tune to you. That meant repeatedly playing E for guitarists and Bš„­ flat for horn and reed players. There were three guitarists and four horn /reed players in my first college band All You Can Eat, so I got to play lots of E and B flats before every gig.

    After all, you can’t re-tune a Rhodes electric piano or a Farfisa Combo-Compact organ. Or later, a Yamaha CP-70 electric grand. And you’ll be the only one out of tune if some notes of your Rhodes or CP-70 are out relative to that E or B flat. On most acoustic pianos, that usually happens first to the high notes at the extreme right of the keyboard.

    And God help you if you’re playing outside. Temperature changes knock everyone’s tuning off.

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    1. See reply below… here’s the video I wanted to share:

      A trick I learned from Danny Gatton was that fluorescent lights hum at approximately the same place as … now I can’t remember, but either F or B-flat sounds familiar. When you don’t have a tuner (a real Godsend, by the way) and can’t find E on the piano, that can come in handy. There was a guitarist in Chicago who used an A440 tuning fork… we have all kinds of ways to get in tune…

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  3. I always get screwed up with “above or below.” I’ll straighten that out tomorrow. There’s a suggestion that setting A at 432 might be in better tune with the universe; know anything about that?

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    1. A440 was recommended as standard in 1939. There’ve always been folks wqho wanted something else. You’ll still find people who want to push it higher because psycho-acoustically, it gets more listeners’ attention. SIngers don’t like that – having to sing it higher can strain your voice, or push a song out of your range entirely.

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      1. We’re used to the A440 standard, I guess, but there were times I’d try playing along with a record and I could tell they were sharp or flat (I would tune to the first two notes of “Hey Jude” when you weren’t around and before I had a harmonica).

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    1. There were some umps, like Doug Harvey, who were consistent, at least. If he decided to call anything from the hitter’s shoulders to the top of his shin guard a strike, that was everyone’s strike zone. Joe West, on the other hand, would be different for every hitter and pitcher, and God only knows with Angel Hernandez….

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    1. You really wonder how they come up with the ball-and-strike calls sometimes. I watch and see pitches right down the center of the plate, belt-high, get called balls and pitches a foot outside get called strikes. All I can figure is that the umpire is bent out of shape about something…

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  4. That certainly was an interesting little walk through your deep recesses. Haha. Did you know most of us Canadians still think in inches and feet and pounds when it comes to ourselves? I’m 5′ 3″ – couldn’t even guess what that is in centimetres. (No, I’m not telling you how much I weigh. But it sounds a lot better in kilos, I’ll tell you that much. Haha)
    Did you also know we’ve been talking about you over at my blog? šŸ˜€ https://lindaghill.com/2017/08/04/bloggy-changes/

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    1. I answered this, but made it a new comment rather than a reply. Anyway…. I’ve taken to reporting my weight in stone. 5’3″ is 160 cm, in case you were wondering (it’s also 160 cm if you weren’t wondering). We’re made to feel backwards because we’re the “only people in the entire universe that aren’t on the metric system,” but it requires a lot of retrofitting (a cup is 237 cc, a pint is 473 ml, a 2×4 is a 5×10 etc.) and that’s a pain in the behind. Sure, for scientific purposes the metric system is great, but when I hear a Canadian disk jockey say it’s 14 degrees, I have to multiply 14 by 1.8 and add 32 to find out it’s 57 American degrees and I should probably wear a coat.

      I left you a comment at your blog post. I’ll resubmit this past year’s badge, but really, I’m fine with changing it. So far I’ve seen JoAnna’s and thought it was good. I can always put the old badge in the right column.

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  5. 160 centimeters, if you’re curious. I always give my weight in stone for the same reason (25, in case you’re wondering).

    I left a comment over at your place. Things are piling up at this end…

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