austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

I didn't mean to take up all your sweet time

The thing etymologically interesting about dishwashers is since it's an English word, manufactured during the reign of King William the Pretty Recentish One, most words are trying hard to mean the opposite of whatever they mean now. So since we usually mean `wash' to something like `use soap and water to get this thing clean', it follows that the word `wash' used to mean more like `clean this thing using soap and water'. No, that's not the opposite, that's the contrapunctual or something like that.

I mean `get this thing filthy by slopping something you don't want to think about'. That's better except for sounding horrible. Let's try not thinking about that and ponder what the opposite to `dish' is. That would be `sock'. So it's only recently a dishwasher could make dishes clean. Give it a bit of linguistic evolution and it'll be the process of making filthy whatever the opposite of a dish will be by 2050, which will be an antimatter dish.

Dishwashers as we call them first appeared during Chicago's Columbian Exposition of 1893, although this connection is rarely appreciated because they were not seen at the fair and instead spontaneously appeared in kitchens around the world. They were taken to just be another something working-class people would have to endure during the Gilded Age, since they didn't have electricity or running water or jogging soap back then. (People were really eager for the 1920s to get there.)

So all they did was take up space that could otherwise have stored horrors for obnoxious ``yellow journalism'' photographers to burst into people's homes, photograph, and flee from before anybody could object. Readers of Joseph Pulitzer's The New York World were not buying newspapers to see lurid pages of clean dishes, which is why the newspaper went bankrupt fourteen times just in May 1895. Pulitzer could not believe his staff, so he went home to lie in bed until morning, which took till 1911.

Until the invention of plumbing in 1924 some people tried to make dishwashing work anyway. The best way was teams of cute puppies licking plates, which was great except for puppy spittle. While some tried to create mint-flavored puppies for better-tasting dishes, others went with inventing sandwiches wrapped in wax paper, so food could be eaten with nothing more than the great taste of wax. In an emergency this also let sandwiches be set on fire and used as candles. It was a confusing time.

These days the dishwasher is certainly the best way to clean or hide dishes. It has a secondary use in sitcoms as it allows the dopey guys to place the Thanksgiving turkey in the lower rack and run it through the wash cycle a couple of times because everybody making the sitcom hates every single person who will watch it. The sitcom family goes out for Chinese, which was cooked on the belt sander. The dishwasher overflows and pours water out on the floor because it would strain credibility for it to pour water out on the ceiling or the neighbor's cat.

There still remain pots, pans, and dishes that can't be put in the dishwasher, because there still remain pot, pan, and dish manufacturers who are seeking revenge for imaginary slights. It's not enough that you can't run the dishwasher with them in; just putting the generalized pot in newer dishwashers causes a catastrophic explosion. The best way to handle these non-dishwashable items is to put them in a sturdy plastic tub, put the tub in your storage locker, and never look at them again.

The most recent models of dishwasher have microchips inside, so they can amuse themselves between washings by maybe sending e-mail to your refrigerator, which manufacturers want to have on the Internet for some reason. If you're ever playing a game online and some of the other participants seem to know disturbingly much about how clean you get the knife after dabbing cream cheese on everything or start scolding you for cat food residue you might have been berated by your kitchen appliances. In that case do not tell anyone, and hide swiftly in bed until morning.

Trivia: Eddie Foster, who played major league baseball from 1910 to 1923 (for the Yankees, Senators, Red Sox, and Browns), went 3,278 consecutive at-bats without hitting a home run. He had 5,562 at-bats, and six home runs, in his career, with the last home run in early 1916. Source: Great Baseball Feats, Facts, and Firsts, David Nemec.

Currently Reading: To Conquer The Air: The Wright Brothers And The Great Race For Flight, James Tobin. Yes, another early-days-of-aviation history, but my last in stock.


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