1. "Everything We Do in the Bathroom"
2. "Family Life"
3. "Work Life"
Yesterday, I wrote about why I
regard the book "American Averages" a good book, and today there
is about a third more quotations and citations, with my comments
Please note that most of the time I am quoting only a part,
sometimes a small part, from the section I quote from.
And there also is an endnote, in which I
explain there is to be one more.
"Everything We Do in
First, a little about the bathroom. I do not know how stable this is
over time, but would guess most of it is fairly stable.
this day our daily bath. One third of the water used by the
average American household is for bathing. Ninety-eight per cent of
adult Americans bathes at least 2 or 3 times a week.
My guess is that the
proportions increased some, but not much.
vs. baths. Given a choice, 4 men in 5 usually take baths. Among
women, half baths, half shower.
This is, in fact, a
considerable difference between men and women. (And one thing that
makes this harder to compare with Europeans is that there are fewer
need the bathroom! Most people who take showers say they're out of
the shower within 10 minutes.
Personally, I take some
15 minutes, and do it every day.
girl, rubber duck. (..) After age 5, youngsters generally take
baths only with siblings of their own sex.
And to understand this
better, below age 5 this is not so. My guess is that at that young an
age children are not much interested in sexual differences.
left this stuff out of our nice, family book. (..) A child of 8 to
14 years old tinkles 1 3/4 to 3 pints a day. (..)
If that holds, I am
still not an old person.
As you get old, you
pee a little less. (..)
child defecates from 2 to 5 ounces a day. An adult on an mixed
diet gets rid of 2 to 9 ounces. The typical vegetarian defecates 13
ounces a day (..)
unnatural, but men like it. Of every 100 women 15 or older, 84
shave their armpits and 68 shave their legs. (..) Of every 100 women
between 15 and 44, 98 shave; of every 100 women 45 or older, 70 shave.
This is a bit odd,
indeed. Also, at this rate this is probably something women do to look
like a woman.
weeks before the mirror. The average man has 15,000 whiskers on
his face, according to Today's Health Magazine; 30,000 according to the
Chicago Sun-Times. In either case, he spends about 10 minutes a day
shaving. That's 6 hours a year, or, for the man who shaves 55 years, a
lifetime total of 3,300 hours - 138 days.
The main reason to
extract this - and contrast the pictures that were taken in the second
half of the 19th Century! - is that having a beard is not being
popular. Also, it's only since the arrival of the safety razor - the
Gillettes - circa 1900, that this became quite feasible.
first of two quite large sections - note that in the original, the Family
Life takes 41 pages, and the Work Life 50 pages: You really
get mere snippets.
off. (..) the wives most dissatisfied with their marriages were
those who married for other reasons than love.
I am quite willing to
believe it. Then again, as we will see, love is not a very certain
houses. The typical American has 2 rooms for every person. That
gives us the most spacious accomodation in the world.
size. The average American family consis of a husband, a wife and
1 kid under 18. It's been that way for years.
Again, I am quite willing to believe it,
though I think this is down from when I was a kid, in the 1950ies, and
it will probably be down a little more.
Where the time goes. Here is a composite day of the
average employed person in America.
Here I have only listed
a choice, from a considerably wider set. I note that "Hanging around
the workplace" is rather different from "goofing off"
(or - more likely - there is no consistency) and I note especially the
times given to "Study" and "Religion".
Employed men Employed women
At the main
6 hrs, 7 min 4 hrs, 45 min
Hanging around the
29 min 1 hr., 26 min
Taking care of the
1 hr., 29 min 1 hr., 12 min
7 hrs, 43 min 7 hrs, 47 min
59 min 1 hr., 17 min
Time alone. The
average working man or woman spends six hours alone on the typical work
day. The average house wife spends 6 hours, 40 minutes alone. (..)
In brief, adults spend a
lot less time with and on children than children think, or at least
than this child thought (though I think this is the typical reaction).
Working men spend
less than 3 hours with their families, on average, and only half an hour alone with their kids. They
spend over four hours with their coworkers.
spend an hour with the children, and housewives spend almost 3 1/2
hours alone with the kids.
Whom we talk
to. When asked to recall the interesting conversations they had
had the day before, married people mentioned only a third as many with
their spouses as with other people (..)
My reason to
select this is mainly to stress the awfulness of it: Your Significant
Other has little of interest to say, and the same holds for your
interesting conversations with their children just as often as with
People who work
talk mostly with their colleagues.
What we talk
about. Women talk more about other people than anything else. (..)
I agree most of my
colleagues were not very interesting, but even so... but then my memory
might be better. Or I may have had somewhat more interesting jobs.
Working men talk
about work more than anything else (..)
The news? Rarely
Between 40 and 60
percent of the respondents could not recall a single interesting
conversation with anyone on the day before.
cares for the kids? Eighty per cent of the time, Mom does. (..)
My guess is that this
is stil more or less the same. (And see Custody.)
Dad is with the kid
only half as much. But only 29 per cent of mothers said that they had
more helping from him.
How our lives
changed. The average American eats faster than his parents of
grandparents. He or she spends less time doing housework. He or she
travels more, spends more time with the kids. He or she spends less
time reading the paper and magazines and books, and less time just
And this has
"progressed": By and large, the TV is most to most. (I don't have a TV
since 1970, but then I must be very
Television, by far,
was the biggest instrument of change in family patterns.
an average year, every other American poses for his portrait. For every
portrait shot of fathers posing alone, there are 34 of portraits made
of their daughters posing alone.
Calculating back that
is (Father : Daughter) = (1 : 17) personal pictures per year. I have no
idea on the present frequencies, which are bound to be much
higher, but the tendency of proportionality is very probably
much more similar.
2 out of 3 homes in the United States, the wife pays the bills.
As my parents had it,
in the 1950ies.
A nation of
castle owners. Seven out of 10 families in the United States own
This is quite unlike as
it is in Europe, and indeed renting an appartment is less expensive.
Also, at least part of the existence of the current crisis is due to
the existence of debts on mortgages.
Don't call me;
I'll call you. One Bell System subscriber in 5 has an unlisted
As in fact I am, I
think nearly all my adult life.
Parents are a
sour bunch. (..) the average childless couple is healthier
and happier than the average couple with children. The couple whose
children have grown up is happier than the couple still raising kids
As indeed I am willing
to believe - but then again, the lives are rather different.
Why some houses
smell like lemon groves. Two thirds of Americans use air
A habit that - outside
of toilets - I have always thought pretty sick.
The older wife.
Fourteen wives in 100 are older than their husband.
Meaning 86 out of 100
are as old or are (most probably) younger. I think this is still the
case, and I find it a bit odd.
dear. Good morning, dear. The average American husband and wife
converse with one another 20 minutes a week (..)
The left out bit refers
this to the Washington Post, but in any case most husbands and
wives do not have much to say to each other. Which is at least a bit
They call them
battered wives. One of every 26 American wives is beaten by her
husband, at least occasionally.
I have no idea how this is at
the moment, though I guess it is at least as bad.
Hi, dear. Eighty-five
per cent of married couples say their marriage has worked out OK.
Well, OK... but then there is
this, which only grew worse:
100 women, 51
divorces. (..) if current trends hold, for every 100 women now in
their 20s who marry
The brief summary is that your
marriage - especially your first - is, more likely than not, to go to
38 will get divorced
29 of the divorcees will remarry
13 of these will get redivorced.
Custody. In divorces, Mom gets the kids 9
times out of 10.
This is still the same.
Here are selections from 50 more pages:
numbers. Of an average bunch opf 100 Americans, 25 males and 16
females work. Of the 59 who don't work, 27 are 15 or younger, 9 are 65
or older, and 23 are between 16 and 64.
Which means 23 percent do not
work? Well, yes... but then quite a few of them are women, and also a
part is in university or college. And these days, apart from the
influence of the crisis, more women work.
Then again, here is something that at least improved:
half-time pay. Full-time women workers earn, on average, 57 per
cent of what full-time men workers earn.
The situation is not as bad as
it was... is about the best that can be said about it.
Time to change
jobs. In 1978, the average American worker had been on the same
job for 3,6 years, down from 4,6 years in 1963.
I have no idea how this is
Shorter hours. The
average work week in the United States declined from 60 to 41 hours in
the first half of this century, but has declined more slower since then.
I think about 3 to 5 hours
less, but then women work much more, and the pay has not risen much at
all, so over all - it would seem - the situation hasn't improved.
is 1 policeman in the United States for every 200 people.
That's rather a lot.
average family in America spends 10.5 hours a day, 7 days a week, doing
house work - everything from giving Fido a bath to writing a check to
Take care to notice this is the
family, that on average consists of 3 persons.
It's a good
job, except for the work. The average house wife says the best
thing about it is that she's her own boss, and the worst thing about it
is the work involved.
Yes...BUT (1) your wage-labor
job will be a menial job, in 19 out of 20 cases, and (2) you will have
someone else as a boss, and (3) who will be directing you to do things
you do not want to do.
In brief, I am against making more women into wage-slaves because this
is what is supposed to be good for them.
Now for some better news:
Less work and
more pay. The average American man works 41.1 years of his life, a
little less than he used to, and jas 28,1 years of life without work.
The average American woman works 22,9 years, a good deal more than she
used to, but still has 38,7 years without a job. (..)
Note this is really quite
a lot better.
Everyone gets more days off. Nowadays, the average American works only
40 per cent of all the days of his or her life. In 1925, it was 60 per
Working free. One
American in 4 over age 13 does some volunteer work. In the course of a
year their free labor is the equivalent of 3.5 million people working
Actually, this wasn't much,
and is bound to be less.
The boss made
me do it. One of every 4 working American says that he or she has
to do things that go against his or her conscience.
Personally, I'd phrase this
differently: 1 in 4 indicates that they do things for pay that they
rather would not do without pay. (That is, even now my guess is that
people are, by and large, not living as slaves do. Then again, I agree
there is a lot of leverage.)
Their own boss.
In 1948, 19 per cent of American workers were
self-employed (..) In 11978, only 8 per cent were self-employed
This I consider a set-back.
work, if you can get it. Only 1 stage actor in 20, 1 movie actor
in 17, and 1 popular musician in 9 can find enough gigs to work
full-time at her or his profession.
This suggests something else,
that also seems to be the case: Artists also are people who much crave
I'd prefer a
quiet, air-conditioned office with a nice view.
I think this still is the
case, or is worse.
One working American in 3 finds the conditions at work
The pay is good
at city halls. (..) for many jobs, city governments were
far and away the most generous.
And it is the same in Holland:
better pay, better pensions, and more perks.
Goofing off. The average American worker goofs
off for 45 minutes a day - nearly 10 per cent of his or her time at
As I have pointed out - see Where the time goes - there is a not so minor
inconsistency. Then again, this is to be expected.
(..) Workers earning over $ 1000 a month waste twice as much as those
earning a quarter as much.
optimists. (..) the chances that an inventor who checks a patent
will make money fro0m his idea are betwen 1 in 1, 000 and 1 in 10,000.
As with artists, there seems
to be an additional incentive to make an artist or inventor,
apart from some talent...
retirements. In 1940, the average man (..) enjoy 5 years, 8 months
Indeed, and the crazy
thing is that these days they are, quite radically also,
downgrading this, by increasing the pensionable age.
By 1970, the average man (..) could look forward to 2 1/2 more
years of retirement.
And in this context, consider the following prediction:
Three days of a
week. The average American may be down to a 4-day workweek by
about 1990, at least in major industries.
The reason this did not
happen, is mostly ideological - as if (much!) more work will
improve this. (No, it will not.)
So says Delphi Forecast, which based its predictions on
forecasts of industrial experts.
Just treat me
like him. One woman out of every 9 feels discriminated against at
work. Within that group, only a third consider it a big problem.
In fact, these are numbers
based on the 1970ies, since when rather a lot got changed.
I'm too smart
for this. One of every 3 workers feels overeducated for his or her
Again, I have no idea whether
this is the same.
average, 5 out of every 100 workers have a second job. That rate hasn't
changed much over the years.
In fact, this changed rather a
lot, it seems, in considerable part for ideological reasons.
works too. One of every 3 American workers is single.
I included this to draw
attention to the class of bachelors. I think there are more, but I also
think more of them in fact live together.
Work and the
immigrant. The Labor Department says the average immigrant to
America catches up with the earnings of native-born workers within 13
or 14 years, and from then out-earns the native-born American.
Finally, I excerpted this
because I said so already in 1970, though I also agree the whole
category of immigrants has been created out of falsified motives in
"These ideas are nor surprising," says a government report,
"given the fact that many immigrants have already demonstrated unusual
courage, motivation and energy simply by moving to a strange new
Actually, this is all I could do today. I really walked too much
yesterday. I'll have to see how it is tomorrow, though for the moment I
am satisfied I could do this much.
So let me once more reiterate why I do this:
(1) I want to have a fair summary of the conditions of life I grew up
in, more or less, for they are considerably more similar than
dissimilar to those of the US, and also
(2) to have a fairly stable background of basic facts of my life, and
the life of most other persons in Western Europe and the US,
(3) at least for the years from 1968-2008, or from
1971-2001, roughly, as a sort of backdrop of many things I have been
saying in this Nederlog, that now has been going on more or less
continuously from 2004 onwards, and is, therefore, in its tenth year
And as I have been saying and explaining,
"American Averages" does this quite well for me, also
considering that it is in fact mostly about the 1970ies, that more or
less continued, at least till 2001, and possibly till 2008, when the crisis started.
In any case, I do not know a better book that did this, and there is to
follow at least one more excerpt from the last third.
(that I prefer
to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate (that I prefer
to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate search
is a disease I have since 1.1.1979: