The focus of this blog is construction-related topics. The purpose is discussion, so please feel free to comment! See Specific thoughts for thoughts from the daily life of a specifier.

25 February 2013

Because we can

Isn't it interesting, that amidst all the hoopla about "sustainable" design, there has been little reduction in the stream of new, improved, state-of-the-art, can't-live-without-them products that increase energy demand? Most of these supposedly life-changing inventions offer needless conveniences, and most of them require electricity to operate. They appear to have been created for no better reason that someone could do it.

Some of you may recall the introduction of digital watches and clocks in the '70s. As happens with all things electronic, the first ones were extremely expensive, but within a few years the price dropped - and dropped and dropped; there was no bottom. Suddenly, everything you bought had a digital clock in it. After hundreds of years of surviving with a single watch, or no watch at all, we suddenly couldn't survive without clocks everywhere! Rulers had clocks, pencils and pens had clocks, key fobs had clocks, and countless things with no apparent purpose other than to sit on a desk had clocks. I saw a tape measure with a clock in it.

I'm pretty sure no consumer research drove this frenzy; clocks were added to everything simply because it could be done. Despite the concern about energy consumption, the "because we can" attitude continues today...

The most recent because-we-can product to catch my attention is the Kohler Numi toilet. It was introduced a couple of years ago, but because I don't follow plumbing fixture news, I saw it just this week. Before you get too excited, it was introduced at about $6,500, but you can get one now at Home Depot for only $4,989.98! Here's this marvelous master of micturition in action:
And here is why you simply must have one of these.
  • It has a motion-activated lid and seat, with automatic opening and closing. Obviously designed by men, it doesn't realize that the seat must always be down. How does it know if the user will be standing or sitting? Perhaps, in an effort to avoid gender bias, all users are expected to be properly seated.
  • The integral bidet has "advanced functionality", with adjustable spray patterns, pressure, and water temperature, and an option for the spray to pulsate, oscillate, or do both.
  • And of course, it has a warm air dryer. My limited experience with these is much the same as with hand dryers; you wait twenty minutes to achieve some state of dryness, or you finally give up and use something else to dry off.
  • It has a "powerful deodorizing charcoal filter" to replace the common candle, and the seat is heated, thereby lengthening the average stay. To further enhance your comfort and allow you to linger even longer, it has a heater that warms the floor and your feet.
  • To make sure you don't use the wrong plumbing fixture, it has illuminated side panels, which provide a "soft, inviting glow." Once you have found it, and it has welcomed you with open lid, you'll find a light inside the bowl. Overall, the lighting provides an experience a bit like landing an airplane.
  • Finally, so you can really settle in and let your cares be flushed away, it has integral speakers to play your favorite relaxing - or exciting - music from its own pre-programmed audio system, FM radio, or MP3 player via the remote docking station.
To control all these features, it uses a touch screen remote control that will make your OnStar jealous. Looking like something from Star Trek, with its indecipherable icons, it helps you adjust the myriad settings in the comfort of your bathroom, or your living room, if you're so inclined. I didn’t see it in the ads, but I'm sure a 300 level seminar is included so your legs don't fall asleep while you're figuring out how to make it work. Below are pictures of the basic remote, the music control panel (just kidding), and, back to the earlier comment about digital clocks, a timepiece to help you stay on schedule.
Worried about losing the remote? No problem; the Numi has a few buttons near the seat to control the basic functions if you can't find it. The real fun of the remote is that you can take it out of the bathroom and use it to play the most hilarious pranks on unsuspecting guests.

If you're like most people, you hate it when someone else drives your car and you get it back with the seat too far forward, the seat back at the wrong angle, and the mirrors adjusted for tracking satellites. No problem here; the remote allows you to program settings for six users!

Now, you might think this piece of basic equipment would reside in its normal place, i.e., the bathroom. If so, you aren't keeping up with the Kohlers, who have something entirely different in mind. Their gallery of possibilities suggests the Numi should be in a more public area, preferably one without a sink. And why not? With an adjustable sprayer and warm air dryer, who needs one?
My own approach to this most essential of home conveniences is a bit simpler. Ignoring political correctness in favor of honesty, I refer these rooms as libraries. Below are pictures of the main library, and the remote library near the master bedroom.
What's your favorite energy-eating convenience that removes the necessity of performing even the simplest of tasks?

© 2013, Sheldon Wolfe, RA, FCSI, CCS, CCCA, CSC


  1. Sheldon,
    I have to say: you have outdone yourself this time. It took me quite some time to read this post because I had to pause to wipe the laughter induced tears from my eyes. Then, I had to read various passages to my husband, Jeff. Why is it that potty humor still can make grown adults turn into junior high school adolescents? That said, I will have to settle for my building grade appliance installed in the simple reading room. Many thanks for one of the brightest spots in my day. This calls for a special trip to Home Depot just for a viewing of this wonderous fixture.

    Cindy Belisle

    1. From age four to ninety-four, potty humor always works.

  2. Aha! Here's the place the Kohler people were thinking about!