Great things can come from new technology but sometimes they don’t work perfectly. In general I have doubts about our world being filled with complex electronics because I often find that simple well built devices work just as well and often last longer (old washing machines, letterpress, car engines). But don’t get me wrong I love my programmable thermostat, my iphone, satellite radio, and of course my computer in which I’m using to write this post.
In any case, I diverge. I wanted to talk about the simple human sensor pump soap dispenser and give a quick review. Touchless sensor based soap and faucets are nothing new, in fact they were patented in 1991. In the past few years there seems to have been a boom in touchless soap dispensers, probably because the patent ended. The most notable dispenser is probably the simplehuman sensor pump. They generally cost about $40 bucks but costco had a great deal for 2 at $50 I think? At first they work perfectly but after a few months one started to make a a louder motor noise than the other one. Then after a few more months the pump stopped all together. I replaced the batteries, switched it on and off but nothing fixed the problem, it was done. Luckily Simplehuman has one of the best customer service departments around. I contacted them via email and simply sent in the old soap dispenser. In a few days they sent me a newer model (refurbished) and it worked perfectly. Still didn’t know what the issue was but the problem was solved.
Unfortunately after a few more months the 2nd of the original sensor pumps had problems. This time the simple human light on the soap dispenser pump would flash and no soap would come out. Sometimes the soap would come out sporadically. I opened the battery department and noticed that one of the batteries had gone bad and started to leak, so I cleaned it up and replaced it with new batteries. (By the way, if you ever had a battery leak in a device’s battery compartment, then simply clean it with a q-tip and some water and baking soda. It’ll neutralize the leak and clean the contact points.) Then a month or so later the same problem occurred and I had to replace the batteries again and clean the contact points. So by now, I thought either the big box of Duracell batteries were bad or there was something else causing the problem. And what do you know, after another month the same thing happened again. This time I looked closely at the battery compartment and compared it to the new model Simplehuman had sent me. The battery compartment was raised slightly in the newer model and the seal for the batter compartment also seemed to be tighter. Simplehuman must have realized that the old battery compartment was being compromised with water, especially since the soap dispenser is right next to the faucet and dripping wet hands. So now I had two choices, I can go through the replacement process again or I can try to keep the soap dispenser dry. I took the easier option, keep the sensor pump dry. All I had to do was keep the dispenser slightly raised from the counter. A couple of toothpicks worked, some paper towels also worked, the options are endless but it was a simple solution to a poor design. So far so good, I’ll update the post as needed if the problem reoccurs.
In summary, I think that the product is great when working but if I had to replace batteries and deal with other problems frequently then I’d just go back to my $2 plastic bottle of soap. I was very close to going back to the old school soap pump, but the benefits of a touchless soap dispenser and faucet is still very enticing.
If you browse the internet, there are many positive and negative reviews about the pump. A lot of them complain about it not working correctly or not working at all. But I think the saving grace for simple human is their customer service and return policy. They are very customer oriented and I’m glad to see a company like that still focuses on the customers. But if too many touchless soap dispensers break then it may not be worth their time replacing all of them. Only time will tell.

And here’s one more cool picture for the road. I had a little bit of white hand soap left on the bottom and added a lot of clear hand soap and you can see the outcome. Pretty interesting, kinda like my old lava lamp. Next time you refill try a couple of different color soaps and see what you get. By the way it only lasted for a few days before mixing together.

Let’s talk knives: Shun vs. Global vs. Henckels vs. JA Henckels International vs. Forschner

People often talk about pots and pans with me but never knives.  Maybe it’s a subject no body ever thinks of or it’s not interesting. But honestly it wasn’t until last year that I realized the importance of having a good sharp chef’s knife.  It’s definitely one of those things where you don’t know what you’re missing until you try it.  Just like riding first class on an international flight, dining at a 3 star Michelin restaurant, watching the sunset on a beach, the birth of your son/daughter, attending a U2 concert, well you get the idea.  It was simply night and day after I used a good knife.  Makes me wonder how many people do not have a nice sharp knife.  So everyone go get a good knife if you don’t have one and if you do make sure you keep it sharp.

Background:

Prior to my purchase I had an inexpensive J.A. Henckels International Everedge Plus knife set, cost $50 on sale.

My fiance has a 20cm G-2 Global cook’s knife (aka 8″ chef knife) and a Global santoku knife.

My friend Linda has a J.A. Henckels Twin Pro set which includes an 8″ chef’s knife.

I’ll focus mainly on the chef’s knife as this is the most important knife in the kitchen and thus if you are going to buy one knife make sure you at least get a good chef’s knife.

Why I love my Shun

1. It’s sharp

2. The handle fits my hand perfectly

3. It’s well balanced and light

4. It’s beautiful