Saturday, April 21, 2007

High-Tech Plumbing Recall in Japan

I had to replace a toilet seat today. $13.88 worth of painted particle board. When I got home I discovered it was exactly the same brand and color as the broken one, which means that this one has an expected lifespan of 4 years.

But apparently I'm not a very choosy toilet seat shopper. All I ask is for the seat be sufficiently robust to support the weight of one person, that the color roughly matches that of the the toilet, and that there be no splinters. Consumers in Japan have higher standards. A typical Japanese home bathroom has something called a "washlet" -- a combination of a toilet and bidet.

There is a Japanese company named Toto (no relation to the famous Kansan pooch) which is known for high-tech washlets which feature (in addition to front and rear washing) heated seats, blow-dryers and even air purifiers. That's a lot of high-tech wizardry for the place where you sit and do your daily sudoku. And it's apparently not foolproof. Toto recently revealed that 26 of its washlets had malfunctioned by emitting smoke and that another three had caught fire. And a company named INAX, owned by JS Group Corp., confessed that 7 of its washlets had smoked or caught fire. INAX had previously recalled 30,000 washlets in 1985 due to cases of overheating and fire.

When it comes to working my sudokus, I'm sticking with my painted particle board seat with no wires or sophisticated plumbing. I will, however, continue to use my fancy mechanical pencil.


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