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THE VOICE OF WILKES COMMUNITY COLLEGE
VOLUME 23. NUMBER 3
WILKESBORO. NORTH CAROLINA
DECEMBER 16. 1992
Law Says — Move To Metric
Move to metric. It’s global, pro
gressive and, once you learn the bas
ics, it’s easy. Besides, it’s the law.
Public Law 100-418, the Omnibus
Trade and Competitiveness Act of
1988, clearly states: "It is the declared
policy of the United States —
(1) to designate the metric system
of measurement as the preferred sys
tem of weights and measures for Uni
ted States trade and commerce.
(2) to require that each Federal
agency, by the end of Fiscal Year
1992, use the metic system of mea
surement in its procurements, grants,
and other business-related activities.”
Why would a trade bill concern
itself with metrics? Because the metric
system is truly the global system. Of
the over 175 nations of the world,
only two cling to the English system
— the U.S. and Liberia, a country of
less than 3 million people. The Euro
pean Community, which buys more
U.S. goods than anyone else, is forc
ing the issue by requiring metric mark
ings on most imports by year’s end.
There will be plenty of reorienting
— from the size of typing paper to the
measurement of office space and
whole structures. This will take time.
Thankfully, the law allows for an
orderly transition. The good faith
effort to convert must be underway,
but doesn’t have to be completed, this
In addition to being global, the met
ric system has one tremendous advan
tage. The incremental units are always
based on multiples of 10. It’s a base-
10 system. A kilogram equals 1,000
grams. A centimeter is 1/100 of a
meter. In the confusing English sys
tem, for example, an inch is 1/12 of a
foot, which is 1/3 of a yard, which is
continued on page 2
^Tis The Season
To Be Jolly^**
The Yuletide season is associated
with feasting, get-togethers, and hav
ing a jolly old time. The Medieval Eng
lish yol and Icelandic jol referred to the
midwinter feast going back to ancient
days. The word jolly probably stems
from them. So Yuletide means jolly
feast or jolly time.
But how does decking the halls with
boughs of holly come into it? (Not to
mention the Yule tree.)
At least 4000 years ago, the Egyp
tians held a celebration in honor of the
sun god during the time which corres
ponds to December in modern times.
TTieir symbol? A palm tree, of course.
Moving on to ancient Rome, one
finds the Romans holding the Satur
nalia (7-day festival of Saturn) each
year beginning December 17. Com
merce ceased, everything shut down,
and gifts were exchanged. In addition,
the temples were decorated with green
ery, especially holly because of its
shiny green leaves and bright red ber
ries. The Romans also hung masks of
Bacchus on trees, which was supposed
to impart fertility to those who gazed
Other groups of ancients celebrated
the winter solstice, which comes
around December 21. Their festivities
often included green boughs, pine
cones, and berries. The Teutons also
brought trees from the forest into
their homes. This was to show the
godlike spirits they believed inhabited
the trees that they were welcome at
winter solstice celebrations.
Martin Luther (1483-1546), Pro
testant religious reformer, is credited
by some with introducing lights on the
Yule trees. Supposedly as he strolled
one evening, he was entranced by the
beauty of a starlit sky and snowflakes
sparkling in the moonlight. Returning
home, he attached lighted candles to
the tree to represent the starry night.
Records show that Yule trees with
lighted candles were the custom in the
upper Rhineland since at least 1608.
Homesick Hessian troops in the Col
onies during the American Revolu
tion brought the custom with them. In
1840, Prince Albert introduced the
household tree into Britain, and Pres
ident Franklin Pierce put a Yuletide
tree in the White House in 1856.
Nowadays, with the disappearance
of whole forests due to industrializa
tion, slash-burn farming, and pollu
tion, the tree’s vital place in Earth’s
ecosystem is increasingly recognized.
The ancients were right to honor
trees.Inl991the White House used a
living tree transplanted from New
Mexico as the nation’s official yule
tree. The current trend seems to be
toward "borrowing” a tree for Yule
tide and then replanting the living tree
in the yard or donating it to a forest.
So deck your halls and your tree
with plenty of lights, holly and jolly;
let the tree’s "god-like spirit” be
honored; and then return it to the soil
from whence it came. 'Tis the season.
Our entire college community was
deeply moved and saddened by the
sudden passing of Parker Steele. The
knowledge that he had qualities so
very precious as to be irreplaceable
deepened our sense of loss.
We all felt a strong need to honor
his memory because we need to honor
that which is best within ourselves.
Therefore, the Parker Steele Scholar
ship Fund has been established here at
WCC with Diane’s (his wife) enthusi
The exact criteria for the scholar
ship will be determined after the size
of the fund becomes clearer. In the
meantime, this is a call to pay tribute
to his legacy. Parker’s courage and
strength of will brought him personal
triumph. His transparent goodness
and care for others made us all better
than we would otherwise have been.
We need his memory.
Parker Steel does not need our trib
utes. We need to honor him and we
need to do it in a way that helps oth
ers. We must do it, lest we forget what
he did not forget — what it is that
gives life meaning.
Please make checks payable to the
WCC Endowment Corporation and
designate that it is for the Parker
Steele Scholarship Fund. Send dona
tions to the Resource Department
Office in Thompson Hall.