It was many years ago that my sainted father showed me something rare in the world of carpentry: a "real" 2x4 that actually measured 2 inches by 4 inches. Apparently, after the Great Chestnut Blight of 1919, there was wood aplenty to use for 2x4s. If your house was built while Warren G Harding was in the White House, impregnating the help in the pantry, you may have such studs in your home. Or pantry, as the case may be.
You lumber on into a lumber yard these days and measure the 2x4s, and you'll find piece of former trees that are more like 1.5 inches by 3.5 inches. Not only that, but if you order some 2x4s for a home project, the guy will ask you how long you want them, and you will never have a better opportunity for bigtime laffs, so go ahead and say, "Well, I wanna keep them!"
You'd think that I "wood" stop making terrible jokes, but I'm just not cut out that way.
Anyway, of course what brought all this to mind was another shortage...and this one doesn't involve lumber, but something infinitely more important: the Subway Footlong belly grenade. Recently, someone with a sandwich in one hand and a tape measure in the other found out that he was getting shorted on his footlong, and he took a picture as evidence, and the daggone thing went viral!
Well, the good people at Subway spread it on a lot thicker than the spread on the cold cuts when the damning picture got to their attention. Their official quote had something to do with improper baking of the bread, and that old bug-a-boo, shrinkage, and...
"With regards to the size of the bread and calling it a footlong,
"SUBWAY FOOTLONG" is a registered trademark as a descriptive name for
the sub sold in Subway® restaurants and not intended to be a measurement of length" (emphasis mine.)
Imagine how many executives, public relations flaks and attorneys had to get involved in crafting this steaming pile of nonsense.
You got that? When we say something is a foot long, well, that's just the name we call it. Don't go reading into things!
So should we be careful when we order a "ham" and "cheese" sub?
When you go "the whole nine yards", is there someone ready to verify that?
Is Miles Davis's real name "Kilometers" Davis?