Is It Just Me?

You know how there are things that you do in life that you think are unique to you and you alone? Well, it turns out that these *things* aren't so unique to you as you might have thought. Have I confused everyone? Let me explain:

Send Email, Then Go To Sent Items and Re-read

You might think you're the only one who writes an e-mail, proofs it, sends it, then immediately goes to Sent Items for another read. Turns out, many of us do this! If you think about it, there's no real reason to do it, since the mail is already sent. But we do it anyway and invariably discover some typo, misspelling or other embarrassment that causes us to smite our brow loudly. So why do we do it? Well, in some cases we do it because we've just written an emotional e-mail and want to make sure we said exactly what we wanted to say. In other examples, we might re-read a job application cover letter e-mail to make sure we didn't make any mistakes that might cost us the job. Right? Have another reason why you do this? Let us know in the comments below.

Insert USB Flash Drive Every Which Way

Think you're the only one who has trouble inserting a USB flash drive? Nope. Many of us do. First we try to insert it one way. When it doesn't work, we flip it around and try the other way. When that doesn't work, we turn it back the original way and voila, it works! How can that be, we ask, as we smile at our ineptness. If it didn't slide in the first time, why did it the second time? Admit it people! This has happened to you, right?!

Dig Through Bag for Keys

You're looking for your wallet, your keys, your work ID badge, etc. You search your entire bag, even the zippered parts and obscurely placed pouches. The item you're looking for isn't in there. You'd bet your life on it! So you look in drawers, around the house, in the car, everywhere. Then, you go back to the bag one last time, just to make sure you're not losing your mind and lo-and-behold, there it is! Exactly where you thought it should have been in the first place. Why does this happen to me?! you ask. Is there a ghost at work?

These are only a few examples. Let's hear from everyone about some more "Is It Just Me?" moments in the comments below.

Maynard L. Parker/Courtesy of The Huntington Library in San Marino, California
The Concept of the American 'Backyard' is Newer Than You Think
A home in Long Beach, California, in the 1950s.
A home in Long Beach, California, in the 1950s.
Maynard L. Parker/Courtesy of The Huntington Library in San Marino, California

Backyards are as American as apple pie and baseball. If you live in a suburban or rural area, chances are good that you have a lawn, and maybe a pool, some patio furniture, and a grill to boot.

This wasn’t always the case, though. As Smithsonian Insider reports, it wasn’t until the 1950s that Americans began to consider the backyard an extension of the home, as well as a space for recreation and relaxation. After World War II, Americans started leaving the big cities and moving to suburban homes that came equipped with private backyards. Then, after the 40-hour work week was implemented and wages started to increase, families started spending more money on patios, pools, and well-kept lawns, which became a “symbol of prosperity” in the 1950s, according to a new Smithsonian Institution exhibit.

A man mows his lawn in the 1950s
In this photo from the Smithsonian Institution's exhibit, a man mows his lawn in Long Beach, California, in the 1950s.
Maynard L. Parker/Courtesy of The Huntington
Library in San Marino, California

Entitled "Patios, Pools, & the Invention of the American Back Yard," the exhibition includes photographs, advertisements, and articles about backyards from the 1950s and 1960s. The traveling display is currently on view at the Temple Railroad & Heritage Museum in Temple, Texas, and from there it will head to Hartford, Connecticut, in December.

Prior to the 1950s, outdoor yards were primarily workspaces, reports. Some families may have had a vegetable garden, but most yards were used to store tools, livestock, and other basic necessities.

The rise of the backyard was largely fueled by materials that were already on hand, but hadn’t been accessible to the average American during World War II. As Smithsonian Insider notes, companies that had manufactured aluminum and concrete for wartime efforts later switched to swimming pools, patio furniture, and even grilling utensils.

A family eats at a picnic table in the 1960s
A family in Mendham, New Jersey, in the 1960s
Molly Adams/Courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution, Archives of American Gardens, Maida Babson Adams American Garden Collection

At the same time, DIY projects started to come into fashion. According to an exhibit caption of a Popular Mechanics article from the 1950s, “‘Doing-it-yourself’ was advertised as an enjoyable and affordable way for families to individualize their suburban homes.” The magazine wrote at the time that “patios, eating areas, places for play and relaxation are transforming back yards throughout the nation.”

The American backyard continues to grow to this day. As Bloomberg notes, data shows that the average backyard grew three years in a row, from 2015 to 2017. The average home last year had 7048 square feet of outdoor space—plenty of room for a sizable Memorial Day cookout.

[h/t Smithsonian Insider]

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