25 Apr

“In a room five feet square.”

While working on remodeling my bungalow bathroom (more on that later) I was looking for some vintage art to put on the wall. I found this 1922 ad:


I loved it immediately and decided that would be on my wall. (I ordered it from this eBay seller.) But, note the caption:

“Five Foot ‘Standard’ Bathroom
Pembroke Bath with Shower, Marcosa Lavatory
and Expulso Closet in a room five feet square.”

Five feet square?! 25 square feet? That’s a pretty small room, but it is possible if the sink is small. I grew up in a house that had a very small bathroom, but it was closer to 5’x7′ — the sink and toilet could both fit on the same wall, which at least left room for a laundry hamper.

Looking at other Standard ads from the 1920s, I saw this theme repeated over and over, usually with gorgeous painted artwork to illustrate (click each image to see a full version):

The advertising emphasized the flexibility and freedom of having these small bathrooms as convenient extra bathrooms in one’s home to “assure ideally ample bathroom facilities” and allow “leisurely washing, and splashing, and fixing, and primping before the lavatory glass.”

This ad attempted to appeal to both women and the men in their homes who might be irritated at the time spent in the bath:

"Oh how she had longed for a bathroom all her own" -- the freedom of not sharing a bathroom, by installing one in a five foot square space.  "Ample bathroom facilities are not a luxury." Though the room is small, it has rose tiles and a checked linoleum floor, with elaborate light fixtures.

“Oh how she had longed for a bathroom all her own” — the freedom of not sharing a bathroom, by installing one in a five foot square space.
“Ample bathroom facilities are not a luxury.” Though the room is small, it has rose tiles and a checked linoleum floor, with elaborate light fixtures.

Oh how she had longed for a bathroom all her own — where she could take her own sweet time, knowing it would not be remarked upon — confident that others were not being inconvenienced.

How hard it is to use a bathroom on schedule!

The bathroom in this ad, though tiny, had a sense of feminine luxury, with rose-colored tilework, golden sconces with aqua shades, and a butterfly area rug.

Unspoken in the Five Foot Square ad campaign was something else — if you can install a full bathroom in such a small space, you can easily add bathrooms to homes that previously didn’t have indoor plumbing.

Standard ads, both in the 1920s and otherwise, tended to promote elaborate and expensive luxury bathroom designs, ones which were out of reach for many. Earlier ads often showed fairly large bathrooms with features such as bidets and sitz baths, and it was common for the ads to show household maids at work in the bathroom. Here are a couple of the earlier Standard ads:

The Five Feet Square ads combined an appeal to luxury (extra baths for the lady who has everything) with an appeal to those homeowners still in smaller, older houses: you too, they said, can have glamorous indoor plumbing. All you need is a spare closet or the end of a hallway!

Whether the campaign was successful or not, I don’t know. By the 1930s, Standard seems to have moved on to ads emphasizing color, Art Deco modernity, and the replacement of old, “unsightly” fixtures such as clawfoot tubs. If you want a bathroom in a room five feet square, though, American Standard (formerly Standard) still sells a tiny sink or two.

18 Aug

I should clarify — when I said “US Bank” I didn’t mean all United States banks. I meant the specific bank called US Bank, which is headquartered in Minneapolis (I think). US Bank of Oregon swallowed up my old bank, Peoples Bank, then merged with a Minnesota bank to become US Bank.

I also wanted to add:

The main issue is not so much that the float is eliminated, but that the website does not at all make it clear that has happened. The combination of the changed behavior by the bank and the crappy UI of the website is what got me. Just one of those problems would have been OK, but both of them together = overdraft.

18 Aug

US Bank customers be warned:

They eliminated the float on debit card transactions.

Check card transactions are now being debited from your account immediately — but this is not reflected directly on the website. The website just includes them in “funds held pending verification” — which sounds a lot like deposited funds, doesn’t it? It’s not.

Default behavior until recently was that funds were not removed from the available balance until transactions actually cleared. Now they are removed immediately, even though it is frequently several days before the transaction goes through.

So when I made a couple of charges the evening before payday, knowing that my paycheck would be in the account by 6 am the next morning to cover them (something that has never, ever been a problem before — and don’t tell me you’ve never done this), I was instead overdrawn — because though the actual funds to cover the charge would be in the account before the next business day, and the charge in question didn’t clear for 3 more days, apparently the new system immediately made those funds unavailable to me — hence, a $20 overdraft fee, and a bunch of money sucked out of my savings account that I wasn’t expecting.

So now US Bank enjoys the use of my money for a few days while denying me access to it. This is a scam to get more overdraft fees. The person from US Bank I talked to on the phone claimed it was because of customer requests. HA!

US Bank customers, you are warned. NO FLOAT.

12 Aug

Baseball Prospectus claims that Pete Rose is going to be reinstated. Major League Baseball denies this, calling the report “unfortunate and journalistically irresponsible.” As opposed to Bud Selig’s complete and utter irresponsibility as regards his obligations to the sport of baseball, I guess.

Doug Pappas’ commentary on the matter in his Business of Baseball Weblog is spot-on, as far as I’m concerned. I don’t want Pete Rose anywhere near MLB, and should he be reinstated, it is another in the long list of crimes against baseball committed by Bud Selig.

08 Aug

Some folks in Chicago bought a bungalow, kind of like we did. But unlike our bungalow (which was spotless and empty when we got the keys), theirs is full of stuff. And not just a little bit of stuff. STUFF. 60 years of stuff, some junk, some valuable. The house itself has been muddled (the previous owners covered the fireplace with fake wood paneling!), so not only is it full of interesting surprises in the pile of stuff, the bungalow itself has many surprises, some better than others. House in Progress: a Home Improvement Diary describes the restoration process, the items found in the house, and general old-house craziness with humor and fun. Great stuff, in more ways than one.

03 Aug

I love bubble tea (or pearl tea, as it’s sometimes called). I first had it a couple of years ago. Suddenly, it’s a fad around here. Good stuff, but doesn’t taste much like tea. It’s just a sweet drink. My question: when will Starbucks start selling it? It’s only a matter of time.

03 Aug

Gary Ridgway might make a plea deal. All I can say is, if this resolves as many of the Green River cases as possible, it’s a Good Thing. I don’t believe in the death penalty anyway, and it’s better to resolve this for the families of the victims than to put him to death with the truth locked away.

Still, I can’t believe this might finally be over. Only a few months before my 20 year high school reunion, and we might know the truth about how my classmate Cynthia Hinds died.

20 May

Speculations on the future of Apple from As The Apple Turns:

By the way, for the Mac’s twenty-first birthday in 2005, Apple will re-release the same model, but with a faster processor, more RAM, a larger hard disk, and a bottle of Tequila. Upon opening the box, purchasers of the 21st Anniversary Mac will discover that the bottle is empty, the Mac makes a sloshing noise when moved, and turning it on reveals the Sad Mac icon lying on its side in a pool of vomit.

So far the new Mac I got on Thursday has not broken into the liquor cabinet. As far as I know. I’m sure I would forgive it if it did, because I luuuuuuuuuuuve this Mac and it can do no wrong. Luuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuve it.

23 Apr

Your tax dollars at work: “A ‘zero tolerance’ crime drive, focused on the Pike Place Market, began yesterday with the deployment of an undisclosed number of officers.” Zero tolerance of what? Drunk driving? Running red lights? Illegal parking in handicapped zones? No. Jaywalking. They say it’s to make people in the area feel safe. It doesn’t make me feel safe. It makes me feel like they should get the hell out there and deal with some real crime!

20 Apr

I remember in the 1980s, reading Rolling Stone‘s back page to see what the current UK top 20 album and singles charts were. They were almost always better than the equivalent US charts of the time. But I always wondered about the mysterious Now That’s What I Call Music volumes that generally hogged the number one album sales position. What the heck where they, glorified K-Tel? Well, sort of. Eventually the US version came out and, yup, they are what K-Tel used to be. Now there’s a website that discusses the first 20 UK Now! LPs in extreme detail. It’s a lot of fun. Despite some real howlers, they are pretty good compilations of their time.

%d bloggers like this: