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August 08, 2004

Technical Retrogression: Bathtub Plugs and Medicine Cabinets

Bathtub plugs. The best technology I have ever seen is a rubber plug connected by a chain to the faucet. The rubber plugs the hole very nicely, it is easy to set the plug, it is easy to unplug, and you can unplug without getting your hand wet (useful if it is a child taking the bath, for example, so your hand is not already wet, or if you are cleaning something in the bathtub). New houses seems to have inferior technologies-- metal-rubber combinations that need to be screwed in and out, get clogged with gook, don't always work properly, and break down eventually.

Medicine cabinets. My new 21st century house didn't have any, and when I remarked on this to the real estate agent, she said it was now standard to have lots of mirrors and drawers instead. The medicine cabinet combines those two things, saving space, and is superior to both. It makes for a better mirror, because it can either be left flat, or swung out to allow for side views (and back views if you have multiple mirrors). It makes for a better storage space for not one but two hugely important reasons (well, hugely important on the scale of home storage, admittedly a bit lower than world peace or your eternal salvation). The first is that children can't reach a medicine cabinet, unlike a drawer. The second is that a cabinet is better than a drawer for displaying the labels of many objects simultaneously. And now that I think of it, there is a third reason-- you can look straight into a cabinet instead of peering down into a drawer. And a fourth reason---one inspires the next-- which is that medicine cabinets can be very large, since to open them requires only the swinging of the door, whereas the bigger the drawer, the harder it is to open, since the weight of all the contents must be swung out. And fifth reason-- opening a medicine cabinet does not require you to shift your position, whereas opening a drawer often requires you to move because you are standing in front of it.

Why has bathroom design regressed in these two dimensions? I don't know.

Posted by erasmuse at August 8, 2004 11:13 PM

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