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27 February 2004 — Fifteen Years of Progress (19)

I finished Anne Frank's diary yesterday. It's hard to believe I never read this in grade school when everyone else was reading it. It's great stuff; Frank had a gift for writing. It's amazing — and heartbreaking — how close she came to surviving the war. She would have been a great writer.

Soaking in the tub this morning, it dawned on me that my birthdate is closer to the day Anne died than to (and this'll seem odd) the debut of ER and Friends. I often try to compare my birthdate with things past and things future. "I was born nearer World War II than the year 2000," etc.

This, in turn, sparked memories of the first birthday party I can remember attending. It was held at the Mormon church in Canby, back before they expanded the building. I must have been four or five. I can remember feeling overwhelmed. We arrived late. The other kids were playing Pin the Tail on the Donkey, and I was scared. When it came my turn, I didn't want to do it; I was afraid of being pricked by the thumbtack. The adults eventually convinced me to take a turn, but the whole experience was traumatic. From that day I also remember somebody with a shadowbox (lightbox?) and somebody else with one of those Russian-looking stringed instruments: flat and blocky. When the fun and games were over, we each got a frosted cupcake.

Somehow my thoughts then turned to the technical innovations of the past fifteen years. How is the world different now than it was fifteen years ago? I don't mean 9/11 (thought that is a significant change, I'll grant) — I mean how have our daily lives been changed by technology.

I think that you are experiencing the biggest change right now. The internet, with all of its pornography and weblogging and web-shopping and file-swapping and e-mail and shared information, is probably the most radical innovation since 1989. Two other big changes are cell phones and fax machines. Both existed in 1989, but they were expensive, used primarily by government and institutions. (The first time I saw a fax machine was in 1989's Lethal Weapon 2.) Now both are ubiquitous.

In 1989, the compact disc was new to the market. I bought my first four CDs that year (eighteen months before I actually owned a CD player). (The music companies promised us that compact discs were cheaper to produce and that they'd be less expensive to purchase than records or tapes — remember that lie?) DVDs were still a decade away. The Nintendo Gameboy hit the market — it was a shocking piece of technology: a video game system you can carry in your hands!

In what other ways has the world changed in the past fifteen years?

Kris and I started dating in 1989. During the summer, we heard the Indigo Girls for the first time. I was still a year away from buying my first computer: a Macintosh SE (with 4mb of RAM and a 40mb hard drive!). I knew Craig Briscoe and Andrew Cronk, but only barely. Batman was the movie event of the summer. The World Series was interrupted by a devastating earthquake.

These are the kinds of things I think about in the morning, as I'm soaking in the tub.

Today I was going to share with you the origins of the U.S. two-party system. I learned about this yesterday, and am excited to share. This has been one of our society's greatest mysteries to me, and now that its beginnings have been revealed, I'm eager to share. It'll have to wait until tomorrow.

Also, Kris and I sat around last night, both of us sick, and we watched Rabbit-Proof Fence. I loved it. The cinematography is gorgeous. The story, which could have easily sunk to cheap sentiment, is understated and strong. The child actors are natural and beautiful. It's a great film, perfect for families (it might be rated G — I don't know why it wouldn't be), and I recommend it highly.

On this day at foldedspace.org

2005Oscars 2005   Kris and I have finally completed our quest to see every Best Picture nominee. I'm here to tell you which are my favorites, and which I think should actually take home the Oscar tonight.

2003Subtractive Art   Most arts are additive: one adds pigment until the painting is complete, one adds words until the story is complete, etc. Photography is a subtractive art.

On 27 February 2004 (08:35 AM), Emily said:

When I am sitting in the tub, I try to think of nothing. That is unless I am reading a book.

On 27 February 2004 (08:51 AM), Nikchick said:

I agree that Rabbit Proof Fence is a great movie, but I hesitate to recommend it to a sensitive child. It was recommended to me as a "family movie" and Kate and I watched it together on a Girls' Night Out. Poor thing, she wept. She wept during the movie when she realized that the children weren't rescued, didn't triumph, and weren't reunited. She wept on the sidewalk outside the theater after the movie because she was made so sad by the plight of the girls and the losses they suffered. Kate's world is not a world where scrappy little girls are beaten down by the system and torn away from their families anyway; before Rabbit Proof Fence such a world had never occured to her, and it was a hard introduction.

Excellent movie, no question.

On 27 February 2004 (08:53 AM), Dana said:

I'm with Emily. I do enjoy listening to Prairie Home Companion or This American Life while soaking, though.

Speaking of which, I believe that PHC is going to be doing a show in Seattle in or around June. If you can figure out a way, you really ought to see a show as it's recorded. It's surprisingly watchable, and you really get a sense of Keillor's presence.

On 27 February 2004 (09:15 AM), Lisa said:

Mundane as it is, I'm intrigued by how grocery stores have changed in the past 15 years. I don't know when the scanning system was introduced, but the days of price tags, the electric cash register, and unreadable curling paper receipts aren't that far back. Add the debit card to that, and it's quite a change.

As for fax machines, my dad recently decided not to install phone line for his fax at his home office. That cutting edge technology is rapidly becoming obsolete--many people just e-mail attachments.

When I think of something while soaking in the tub, I forget it long before I get out and have a chance to make a note about it.

On 27 February 2004 (10:07 AM), Tammy said:

Soaking in the tub? What's that?

On 27 February 2004 (10:22 AM), J.D. said:

Soaking in the tub? What's that?

I've probably shared this before, but it's such a grotesque and comic image that I'll share it again. It's probably a case of too much information.

I'm loathe to shower. I love to bathe. My bathing takes several forms.

First, there's the evening-based book bath, in which I soak in the tub while reading a good book. Invariably, I fall asleep after ten or fifteen pages, with the book propped tent-like above my face. I often wake in alarm, afraid the book is going to fall in the water (it never does). I throw the book out onto the floor and try to fall asleep, but it's just not the same without the book covering my face.

Next, there's the early-morning bath that I take while Kris showers. I lie on the bottom of the tub, washcloths covering my face and my privates (not out of modesty but because I don't like the shower stream, you know). Kris stands and showers, negotiating the tangle of my limbs.

Finally, there's the "I'm so tired" bath and the "I need to shave" bath, both of which take the same form. As with the early-morning bath, I cover my face with washcloths (either to soften my beard or to keep the light out, depending on the bath's purpose). The water is especially hot. The $300 bathroom heater fan is whirring away. The lights are off or dimmed. I basically create a sauna. I take a bath like this every Friday morning (because Kris doesn't have to work) and every time I need to shave (which is about once a week, and often, as today, overlaps with my normal Friday morning bath).

And that's what soaking in the tub means to me. It could only be made better by speakers built into the ceiling, piping in light classical music...

On 27 February 2004 (11:02 AM), Kris said:

Yes, dear, too much information.

On 27 February 2004 (11:40 AM), Lynn said:

I have to agree, it was a definite overshare.

On 27 February 2004 (11:43 AM), J.D. said:

See, sometimes I just can't tell where the line is. I know I'm getting close to it, but I can't tell whether I've crossed it. In this case, though, I'm sure that it's not a harmful overshare — it's more amusing than anything — so I'm not going to remove it. :)

On 27 February 2004 (11:47 AM), Denise said:

Not to delve into the overshare, but kudos to Kris for being a very nice and patient wife to negotiate the limbs!

On 27 February 2004 (12:01 PM), Dana said:

Hm. Some simple rules of thumb that I think most people can agree on:

1) Excessive accuracy and detail about bodily hygiene.

2) Excessive accuracy and detail about bodily functions in general.

3) Excessive accuracy and detail about personal and intimate relationships.

I'm sure there are others. The showering details transgress #1 and possibly #3, I'd say. Another way to think about it is this. Sure you are interested in details about your showering. But are you interested in the details of how the rest of the couples you know shower? Would you discuss it over dinner out at a restaurant? If not, it's probably edging into being over the line...

On 27 February 2004 (12:06 PM), Lynn said:

Given a recent posting on I, Asshole, about peeing in the shower, the thought of someone lying on the bottom of the tub while another showers is somewhat frightening...

On 27 February 2004 (12:29 PM), Paul said:

Now that I have wiped the tears from my eyes after laughing so hard, I have to say that JD is funnier than I have ever imagined! You didn't make up the scenerio nor did you wish you could lie on the bathtub floor with Kris showering inspite of you, you lived it! I want more intimate details! JD is funnier than Friends, more interesting than ER and more tragic than Anne Frank. Washcloth over privates.... Kris showering with you lying down...

JD come on down to Eugene and I will take you out to Terwilliger Hot Springs for a soak. You won't need your washcloth because showers are not available, unless its raining. Bring a book and read until your a shriveled to an unrecognizable state. Or read until you fall asleep, but I hope we can stay longer than 15 minutes.


On 27 February 2004 (12:34 PM), Amy Jo said:

Peeing in the shower was the first thing to come to my mind . . .

On 27 February 2004 (12:40 PM), Amanda said:

Not nearly an overshare, in my opinion. I loved every detail! Yay for baths! I take one nearly every night, in girlie bath salts and epson salt to soak away my aches and pains and have a nice 15 or 20 minutes of relaxing solitude and delightful warmth. Baths rule!

(I do take a shower every morning--just too difficult to wash long hair in the tub and expect it to come out clean. Plus, if I had to do any actual work while in the bath I wouldn't enjoy it nearly as much.)

On 27 February 2004 (02:08 PM), Dave said:

Ok, the bath/shower thing was an image I could have easily gone to my grave without. I'm all in favor of joint cleanliness, but I don't really need to know the details.

And aren't you being really trusting that Kris won't take a misstep, if you know what I mean? Just thinking about it makes me cringe...

On 27 February 2004 (03:03 PM), JENEFER said:


On 27 February 2004 (04:05 PM), Tammy said:

Ewwwwwww! That almost borders on word porno.

actually I quite enjoyed it. You are a funny, funny man. JD

On 27 February 2004 (04:06 PM), Lynn said:

Hey! I went back to enjoy a re-read of the bathtime description and it's gone! wussy...

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