So I finally finished my review of the Nasty Stinky Book (which turned out to be not all that nasty and stinky, just moderately troublesome). Relieved and happy to get the thing off my to-do list, I went back to the original instruction sheet to make sure I was doing the heading and the formatting and all that stuff properly. Everything shipshape, all I needed to do was print... on A4 paper. It's a British journal, and they want an actual printout as well as a copy on disk mailed to them across the Atlantic.
Those of you who have ever been anywhere outside the US are probably familiar with A4 paper; it's just a shade bigger than our regular 8 1/2 x 11. It's another product of the metric system, which means that most civilized people in the world use it but us. My software lets me format a document for A4; my printer has a setting for A4; now all I needed was the paper itself.
The campus bookstore? Nope. Office Depot? Never heard of it. (Seriously - they had no idea what I was talking about.) Fortunately I began my quest by making phone calls rather than driving around town; something deep in my brain must have suspected that this wasn't going to be as easy as it ought to have been. After six calls to major office supply stores, I only found one person who even knew what A4 meant, and she didn't have any.
I ranted in fury to the Left-Wing Intellectual, who said "Did you check the office? I'm sure I've seen some lying around in the office." I didn't believe him, but asked him to go look for some; it would keep him out of my hair while I yelled at the office-supply people, and on the off chance he was right, he would totally make my day. He turned up triumphantly a few minutes later with a stack of paper that looked...suspiciously long. No, it was just our non-metric next size up, 8 1/2 x 14. "Thanks, but sorry, hon, that's just a little bit too large."
Hey. Wait a minute. That's just a little bit too large.
One rendez-vous with the paper-slicer, and voila, the 8 1/2 x 14 inches are magically transformed into the desired 210 x 297 millimeters. Do you think they'll notice?