Hamsterdam is a lover of inane trivia. And you can't get much more inane than the British measuring system that has now become American standard (with the British having now adopted the far, far, far* better metric system). My favorite demonstration of this? Forget hogsheads, acres, and half-kegs. Shoe sizes is where it's at. Let's see if you can follow along:
1) A barleycorn is the base unit of measurement here. A barleycorn is exactly like it sounds: 1 kernel of barley in length (The long way, they're football-shaped). Also, these are pre-GMO barleycorns. Sidenote: an inch is exactly 3 barleycorns in length. This is seriously how an inch was determined. But anyway, back to shoe sizes
2) Each shoe size is exactly one barleycorn in length above or below the next size. So for example, a size 10 is 1 barleycorn (1/3 inch) less than a size 11.
3) Even more fun, all shoe sizes are based on a standardized shoe size of 13, which is exactly 11.69 inches.
4) There is no rhyme or reason why 13 is the base or why such an arcane length as 11.69 inches is the standard. All that is known is that 13 was considered the "maximum" possible shoe size when the system was created. So the biggest possible foot was not even a foot in length. Shaq laughs at this amount. He's a full 9 barleycorn bigger than that. (the largest known shoe was Robert Wadlow at size 42 (!))
So how many barleycorn greater or less than a size 13 are you? And then for fun, how many stone do you weigh?
*not enough "far" in there. The true number of fars is immeasurable, even by the metric system.
Have fun, denizens. Standard Hamsterdam rules apply.