A truly weird change

What’s wrong are the regulations. Over the last several decades, through hundreds and thousands of tiny edicts, Americans have had terrible experiences in the bathroom and with water use generally imposed on them by bureaucrats who think they know things like:

A showerhead flow can’t exceed more than 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm) at a water pressure of 80 pounds per square inch (psi)

I’m old enough that one of the reasons to visit America in that dim and distant past was to enjoy a shower that actually worked, had some water in it.

It actually was a thing – “their showers are different your know” went along with the wonders of soft toilet paper as proof of the wealth of that society.

41 comments on “A truly weird change

  1. “I’m old enough that one of the reasons to visit America in that dim and distant past was to enjoy a shower that actually worked, had some water in it.”

    I recall fondly my first encounter with a British shower. I turned it on, observed a feeble dribble, then turned it off. Then I went down to reception to complain about the non-functional shower.

    Much hilarity ensure as I was confidently told that was indeed a fully functional shower, and I informed the staff that they clearly had no fucking idea what a shower was. They concluded I was an asshole, and I concluded they still had no fucking idea what a shower was.

  2. On my first business trip to the US in the 80s I sought out a plumbing supplier so I could bring back a showerhead. Add a UK-sourced pump and whoa, a proper shower.

  3. UK showers, domestic at least, used to be gravity fed from water tanks the hot one having been heated by a timer.

    So, if your water tank was just above the height of the shower, you got a trickle.

    Many are now mains pressure cold water fed by using on demand hot water so that problem has largely gone?

    On toilet paper, using soft paper has mixed benefits. As it tears so easily, you get shit on your hands meaning more upset tummies, given the poor hygiene practices of the majority of the population, something that did not happen with hard paper so much

  4. There’s a funny video of Arnold Schwarzenegger on Youtube where he has a shower in the gym after workout in the 1970’s. Most of the American comments on the video are about the water pressure, apparently a thing of the past, a proper prison shower.

  5. We bought a “power shower” years ago. The pump solves the problem.

    As for soft bog rolls and the finger in the poo problem, just buy “quilted” rolls. Sheer bliss.

  6. I have friends who remodeled their bathroom right around the time the Feds first mandated low-flow toilets. Until I used their toilet I had no idea why people got so pissed off (SWIDT) about them. If you had to flush anything bigger than a 2-year old would produce it took numerous flushes. A government that can do this to supposedly free people and survive is truly scary.

  7. @ Brave Fart
    The delight was always the house had the hot side of the shower connected to the tank & the cold side connected to the mains. Best place to get a hot shower was in the garden standing under the overflow pipe.

    @ Brave Fart

    The delight was always the house had the hot side of the shower connected to the tank & the cold side connected to the mains. Best place to get a hot shower was in the garden standing under the overflow pipe.
    Demand hot water systems are indeed better. Except few people understand they require a thermostatically controlled shower regulator. So someone elsewhere in the house turns on a hot tap & the showeree gets drenched with icy water. Followed by being scalded having adjusted for more hot when the tap’s turned off.

  8. Coincidentally, I’m in the process of putting in a shower tray. Or rather, replacing one. The genius spanish plumber, put in the last one, having neglected to check for leaks from the waste before the bathroom was tiled with three grands worth of real marble onto the top of the tray. Had to smash up the defective one to get it out & do some inspired pipework to get a connection to the new one. Spanish plumbers are only exceeded for incompetence by spanish electricians. We still have an apartment where all the lights go out if you run the airconditioning.

  9. When I was a kid we didn’t even have a shower… I think at some point there was a rubber hose contraption that pushed over the taps and could be used to rinse your hair while in the bath.

    My first ‘real shower’ was on holiday in a caravan park (probably on Hayling Island) where there was a shower block… You stood on an a wooden frame, put 6d (or some such) in a meter and got a boiling hot, powerful shower… Luxury!

    And then yes, visiting the ‘States for the first time many years later was a shower eye-opener!

  10. Tip. Unscrew shower head from where it connects to hose where you will find a flow-restrictor which can be removed thereby improving flow rate.

    Applies to shower fittings in Europe, no info re: USA.

  11. @Gamecock. Much earlier. It was FDR who introduced Fascistic essentials of Statist government (aka The New Deal) into the USA right out of Mussolini’s manifesto.

  12. American toilets are shit.

    The water comes up high enough to double as a testicle bath, the flush is weaker than a John Major handshake, and public “bathrooms” have a gap under the cubicle walls big enough to make gay limbo dancers a serious threat to your bumginity.

    At least they’re not Cyprus, with that disgusting toilet paper bin.

  13. John B, FDR’s actions were socialist. Government centered.

    Fascism is strong, autocratic central control of a private economy. Our hyper regulatory environment is pure fascism. I don’t know of FDR actions that were fascist. Examples? Perhaps his bank regulations were fascist.

    Fact is, the regulatory explosion didn’t happen til a generation after FDR.

  14. Gamecock,

    Not so. FDR’s original recovery plan, the National Recovery Administration, 1933, was indeed fascist. Mussolini is on record as being a fan. It was overturned by the Supreme Court in 1935, hence that line in ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ about it having been ‘killed by nine old men’.

  15. Talking about shit toilets, we were in this nice bar in the Alpine part of Italy and they had one of those awful hole in the floor jobs…but it was brand new. That means they had the opportunity to put in a real, actual toilet as they were replacing the old one, but decided on a brand new shit one instead.

  16. @BraveFart December 10, 2019 at 1:04 pm

    “you get shit on your hands” – most people was their hand(s) if that occurs, why don’t you?

    @Bloke in Cyprus December 10, 2019 at 3:24 pm

    When I was a kid we didn’t even have a shower… only a handset and hose on top of taps with a switchover lever could be used to rinse your hair while in the bath or wash hair leaning over bath..

    My first ‘real shower’ was on holiday in a caravan park (Tollymore) where there was a shower block… You stood on an a wooden frame

    Then we moved and showeroom had a 1 (UK) Gallon pm flow rate

  17. Pah, living in Hong Kong we didn’t even have a bath! Copper tub handing on the back of the door. Boil the kettle to fill it. 😀

    First thing I did when I moved to the UK was move the header tank into the attic to get a proper head on the bath taps, then plumbed in a mixer shower. You need the cold fed from the header to match the pressure of the hot fed from the header for it to work, as people who plumb the cold tap directly to the mains discover.

  18. Never mind the limbo dancer risk, it’s the one-inch gap all round the door that I found weird. Hey, a neat line of trews round ankles is bad enough, but I really didn’t want a glimpse of anything north of there. Nor to participate in the display.

  19. I recall fondly my first encounter with a British shower. I turned it on, observed a feeble dribble, then turned it off. Then I went down to reception to complain about the non-functional shower.

    Much hilarity ensure as I was confidently told that was indeed a fully functional shower, and I informed the staff that they clearly had no fucking idea what a shower was. They concluded I was an asshole, and I concluded they still had no fucking idea what a shower was.

    Been there, done that. Of course, the longer I was in Britain, the more obvious it became that the British could fuck up just about anything they touched. Household plumbing was just the beginning.

    Couldn’t manufacture a real live ice cube, couldn’t reproduce proper Coca-Cola. Couldn’t scramble eggs (you end up with egg soup), couldn’t keep the ‘Merican beer cold. Etc., etc., etc.

    And evidently proper cosmetic dentistry is something that has been described to them, but they have yet to actually experience. One smile from a Brit and you realize it’s a extremely vague concept.

  20. Dennis,

    “And evidently proper cosmetic dentistry is something that has been described to them, but they have yet to actually experience. One smile from a Brit and you realize it’s a extremely vague concept.”

    Ha! I always though a perfect way to put Americans off ever considering an NHS system was a simple add; “With government in charge of your healthcare, you’ll be smiling!”, then just cut to a whole series of brits smiling with those NHS teeth while telling everyone how great the NHS is.

  21. When I complained, the nice lady from Thames Water explained that they were only contracted to provide water at 1 bar pressure. They are fined for leaks so with their 19th century network they keep the pressure as low as they can get away with.
    In Europe mains is delivered at 8 bar. You’ll have a reducer to dial down to 2 -4 according to taste and your tolerance for dodgy internal plumbing.

  22. Dennis, there’s an episode of Fawlty Towers you ought to watch.

    And, at least traditionally, there’s no such thing as American beer.

  23. Loos

    1) A brand-new Aire in Northern France we visited once a few years ago had Asian-style squat loos.

    2) Visiting Japan recently the loos are really good. Apart from the heated seat, and fittings to squirt warm water at various bits of you, the empty/refill process is very efficient with a very strong swirl imparted to the water to clean it well. I’ve seen that action in the US as well.

    Spanish electrics: A friend of mine had a villa somewhere north of Nerja years ago. When he moved in he found 400v between live and earth! Apparently the earth was connected to one of the other phases somewhere in the distribution…

  24. I believe that Americans have their share of poor dentistry, but obviously, none of it is shown on TV or in US movies! Small flush toilets are stupid, because even a second flush to get rid of a turd wipes out the benefits.

    As for those hole in the floor toilets, most users can’t guarantee to shit in the hole every time, and there’s the German style with a shelf to retain your turds to admire or check for worms before you flush – but every style has its afficionados.

  25. Excavator Man

    “I believe that Americans have their share of poor dentistry, but obviously, none of it is shown on TV or in US movies!”

    Of course, it’s a sure sign of poverty in the US. Not so in the UK.

  26. Lud –

    Seen ‘em all, have ‘em all on dvd. Which episode are you thinking of?

    Beer. I’ll give you that one… Brits have great beer. Back when I indulged, I was a stout and porter man.

    ‘Mericans do have beer, just not real beer. I think it was Joe Jackson who called it weasel piss; he wasn’t far from the truth.

  27. When I first visited the States in the 80s the beer was almost entirely big brands – interchangeable Budweiser, Coors or Miller (no relation, sadly) – with a few exceptions (e.g. Anchor Steam). The craft scene is now vastly better, but real ale (even if there was a taste for complex flavours) isn’t really practical in such a large country.

  28. When I was at university in Scotland, one of my friends was an American student studying overseas. The first time we went to the bar for “a few beers” he was almost unconcious by the end of the first pint. Though, over the year we trained him up to tolerate a proper alcohol content.

  29. Some back of the mind thing. Proper real ale – live yeast in the bar – isn’t allowed under food safety laws or summat.

  30. Amusing. Because standard American beer is 5% alcohol by volume. Which is rather stronger than most UK beers.

  31. Still prefer a bath to a shower. You can’t have a snooze in a shower.

    Re: the finger/toilet paper syndrome, ever wondered how many of the kitchen staff in your local ethnic restaurant actually use paper?

  32. Philip Scott Thomas

    After further review, I do see fascist elements in the National Recovery Act. Government/business coalition reeks of crony capitalism/fascism.

    However, this was just an itch for fascism. The disease didn’t fully develop until the 1960s. It took 30 years to get the people to accept the notion of an interfering state, and the courts to allow it.

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