We bought a cheap bidet

Dear readers,

I bought a cheap ($35) bidet (all amazon links are affiliate, also the price currently appears to be closer to $40), figuring it was only $35 and it doesn’t require electricity so we don’t have to worry about wiring or having an extension cord go across the water closet.  (Note:  we have an elongated toilet seat– if you have a round one you will need a different model than the one we got.)

Here’s a set of texts from my first use:

… I tried it.

I screamed, but only the first time.  Even though I was the one controlling the setting, it was still a shock.  I turned it off right away and then tried again without screaming.

I… don’t know what to say.

I um feel clean?  Very clean.  Squeaky clean.

This kind only reaches one spot so one would have to do gymnastics to deal with uhhh urine or blood.

I don’t know how to feel about it.

DH also says he does not know how to feel about it.

A few days later, DH decided he does have an opinion.

A bidet is like a small shower.  It is useful for the times when you wish you could get into a shower but don’t want to go through the effort of taking your clothes off.  In those cases, it is the right tool for the job.  Otherwise, it is still like a shower, but it is a very directed shower in a place in which I do not want a shower.

He also noted that except in those rare occasions in which the bidet is the right tool, he uses more toilet paper to dry off than he would wiping.  (I assume this would be less of a problem with the heated air from the $450 model.)

We have very high water pressure in our house.  (This is a problem for our master toilet– we blow through toilet internal parts much faster than we ought to.)  Fortunately the bidet isn’t dangerous until you hit the setting for 3 (it goes up to 4…)  Setting 1 is always gentle. Depending on the time of day and whether someone else is using that water line, you either want 1.5 or 2 on ours.  But there is a really fine line between cleaning and giving yourself an accidental enema.

Sometime in October we finally hit Fall weather.  It turns out the water gets *very* cold once it is no longer summer.  That may argue for one of the more expensive heated models depending on how tough your nether regions are.

While I cannot say anything about the $450 model which is supposed to have a feature that allows you to better er, position things for women’s monthly cycles, I can definitely say that I would not recommend the cheap $35 version for that purpose.  Basically, water gets everywhere.  It is definitely more functional for defecation purposes.

And that is my “we got a cheap bidet” review.  I don’t think we’ll get a $450 model for any of our other bathrooms, but we’re also not going to be uninstalling this one from the master bathroom.

Do any of you have an expensive bidet that you love or hate?  What is your bidet experience?

Who gives a crap toilet paper review

The cupboard in the children’s bathroom now (they were almost out of tp).

Who gives a crap has no idea who we are.

After reading about supply chain shortages, I did some impulse buying late one night.  Because I’m weird, this impulse buying ended up being Bougie toilet paper from an online company.  It turns out that buying toilet paper is a pretty common response to reading articles about supply chain concerns, but most people stock up on their regular brand!  My reasoning was that if we had long-term supply shortages that affected toilet paper, we wouldn’t really know when they would happen and we’d use up the nice toilet paper, but we’d keep bad quality toilet paper around without using it until we had to.  (And indeed, there is still some very bad quality pandemic toilet paper in the guest bathroom.)

I did read a lot of reviews about Who Gives a Crap online, but most of them were sponsored and spent 3/4 of the review talking about how terrible toilet paper is for the environment and how recycled toilet paper is better.  There was maybe a single line talking about the toilet paper itself.  (Usually, “it’s ok, but don’t expect Cottonelle.”)  Then some gushing about how cute the wrapping paper is.

If you really want to help the environment, call your elected officials and lobby them to encourage regulation on companies.  Contact companies and tell them to do better.  Buying things to help the environment is usually not going to have that big an impact, especially compared to legislative change.  That said, if you really do want to help reduce turning old growth forests into tp sewage through your own actions, then get a bidet so that you use even less to and if you want to go hardcore, use family cloth instead of tp.

The wrapping paper is cute.  It is true.

Colorful wrappings on the recycled paper toilet paper

It would probably be even cuter if it didn’t have the “who gives a crap” decal printed on the center.

So… reviewing.  After hearing people say that it was worse than 7th generation recycled, we were pleasantly surprised to find that we didn’t think the recycled paper (not an affiliate link) was worse than 7th generation.  I would even argue it’s a little bit better than 7th generation.  It’s definitely rough, but it’s also triple ply, not double ply like 7th generation which makes it a bit sturdier.  If you get it wet enough (say with a big sneeze because you haven’t taken Zyrtec yet), it does tear, but it doesn’t tear with normal wiping.  It’s also waaay better than Angel Soft which was our least favorite tp in testing.  I’d say probably on a par with Trader Joe’s brand.  Also of note:  there is no pilling, which is my least favorite aspect of some toilet papers.  Cost at this time is $1/roll (double roll) with free shipping.

Premium bamboo toilet paper comes in sophisticated black and white wrappings.

The bamboo toilet paper (not sponsored) was surprisingly decent.  It’s a tiny bit softer than the regular (but not as soft as Quilted Northern) and sturdier– it does not tear even with the biggest sneezes.  Again, there’s no pilling, which is good.  I wouldn’t swap out this tp for a soft kleenex, but there are facial tissues out there that this is softer than.  This is $1.08/roll (double roll) at this time.  (If my calculations are correct, this is about 2x the price per sq ft of Quilted Northern Ultra Plush from my local grocery store.)

On the top: the recycled paper. On the bottom: the bamboo paper.

DH said he wouldn’t mind having the bamboo tp on a regular basis so I moved it from the guest bathroom to ours.  We have plenty of the colorfully wrapped bougie recycled tp to use in an emergency.

To the far right on the bottom are Quilted Northern Ultra Plush 4x Mega rolls.

Would I recommend getting this?  No, not unless you really like the outside wrappings or have trouble buying tp at the store.  I don’t know what the environmental aspects of bamboo tp are compared to wood (obviously bamboo is a weed and old growth forests take a long time to be replaced, but in terms of energy and water, I don’t know), but the bamboo tp is reasonably nice– probably better than what you have at work.  If you were to buy from this company for reasons unrelated to the environment I’d spend the extra 8 cents per roll for bamboo.

Again, if the environment is your main concern, a squirt of water is going to be better than any paper.

How do you choose toilet paper?  Have you tried any online brands?

Ode to our air filter

This post is from 2011 (hanging out in unfinished drafts)– Our Austin air filter is still going strong, though we’ve had to replace the actual filters several times.  Austin Air has no idea that we exist.  Also, 2011 was 10 years ago– there are a lot more good options for air filters than there used to be.  Here are wirecutter’s recommendations (their upgrade pick is only $300 and is a Blueair purifier, which they like better than the Austin filter because it is less expensive, prettier, and quieter).

I am allergic to almost everything that grows– grasses, most trees, and all the stuff that normal people are allergic to like ragweed and goldenrod and mold spores.  I’m also highly allergic to a lot of crawly things like dust-mites and *shudder* cockroaches and so on.  (Also mildly allergic to cats, though I’m more allergic to some cats than others.)  I can’t do much about the things that give me hives, but I can do something about the allergens that make my nose drip or that clog up my sinuses.

Back in 2011 I bought an Austin Air Filter for around $500.  There are now more options and they range from $750-$1000.  Not cheap!  The replacement filters are also not cheap– you could get a new Blueair purifier for about the same price these days.

For me, it was Worth Every Penny.  Having a good air filter on high in a room is better than most anti-histamines (though Zyrtec is still my new best friend).  It just clears everything up.

Here’s a post from Schlock Mercenary describing the experience of filtering out a room for the first time (back in 2007).  It’s what convinced me to get a super expensive air filter instead of the cheap small walmart/target ones we’d had before.

*heart emojis*

Do you have an air filter?  What kind do you use?  How much do allergies suck?  How do you deal with allergies? 

Passion Planner review

Over the past few months, I’ve taken my daily planning systems and to-do lists and consolidated them all into a single Moleskine notebook plus a small weekly calendar (which is technically a planner, but I don’t think of it as such as I only put appointments and deadlines in it).

I really love the Moleskine, but I wish I didn’t have to write out the times each week.  I explored washi tapes and stickers and stamps, but nothing seemed right.  And there are a ton of planners that have the times already listed out.

So I read a whole bunch of planner reviews on the internets and looked at a whole lot of different blank spreads and decided that the Passion Planner (not affiliate), weekly, Monday Start, was the best match for my current planning setup.  I wanted something that had the times laid out, but also had space for my to-do list post-it and my projects post-it and just space around for other things.  And I wanted a little space for deadlines above the hourly set.  I was also looking forward to having monthly calendars in the same planner as the weekly calendars instead of (alas, I will likely still be printing out google calendars and stapling them together :( )

There’s a bunch of passion concept map stuff that I will generally be ignoring.  I love the major weekly project goals, but otherwise I don’t have much use for reflection, at least not the monthly reflection the book has space for.

Weekly spread

Weekly spread with identifying information craftily obscured by two of DH’s fountain pens.

Things I like:

The weekly spread is great– exactly what I wanted.

The paper is REALLY nice.  The mokeskine has a thick creamy paper that is prone to feathering, so I love using my small tipped Clenas on it.  But the PP has a smooth bright white paper that LOVES a fountain pen.  There was something sensual about borrowing DH’s fountain pen with his fancy sparkly J Herbin ink and moving over regular appointments for the first time.  I *almost* want to get my own fountain pen, but… like a swimming pool, I’d rather have someone else own it and do the maintenance on it so I’ll likely borrow DH’s from time to time and otherwise use gel pens.

It has an elastic strap to keep it closed just like the Moleskine.

There’s free pages at the back that I will be able to use to take notes at meetings.

Monthly calendar

The month of August (anonymized with DH’s vanishing point fountain pen).

Things I don’t like:

I didn’t realize it was soft cover instead of hard cover.  It looks nice and it’s probably lighter with the soft cover, but I just prefer the Moleskine hardback.  This reason by itself is not enough for me to seek out other planners.

Instead of having all of the monthly calendars together at the beginning of the planner, as I assumed they would, instead each month starts with the monthly calendar for that month followed by the weekly planner pages.  I don’t plan by the month so this is not helpful for me– I need to see what’s happening a few weeks in the future at any point in time or else I get surprised by deadlines or mess up homework assignments for the students.  I do plan by the week, so the weekly spreads work.  But I also plan by the semester, not the month, so having those months separated by 4 weeks of weekly spreads is just irritating and I probably just won’t use them.  Another possibility is that I will print out their monthly spreads from their webpage and paste them in over the used weekly spreads once I’ve finished with August.  Or I might get small tabs that make it easy to flip to month spreads. We will see.  This problem won’t stop me from using the planner the entire year, but next year when summer rolls around I will be looking to see if there’s another planner out there that better suits my needs.  Maybe I’ll pick something less pretty that has rings so I can move pages.  (Or maybe I’ll try the Jibun Techo though I suspect it doesn’t have enough space for me.)

I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how this works for me once school starts!

I already asked you all about your preferred planning systems so… um… I have no questions?  But feel free to comment anyway!  Or tell me about your preferred planning systems if you didn’t last time.  It’s all good!

DH’s Delta Trainer/Co-Pilot Review

DH decided it was time to start working out again.  He’s done a number of different things, but they’ve all had drawbacks that keep him from continuing.  Often he’ll just get bored and stop doing it.  We’d often talked about him getting a real in-person trainer, but then the pandemic happened and an in-person personal trainer did not.

He was making noise wondering what he should try next when I watched this WheezyWaiter video:

Basically it’s a sponsored ad for an online app called Delta Trainer.  (This blogpost is not a sponsored ad– Delta Trainer has no idea who I am and I don’t want to deal with an affiliate link.  I guess you can use WheezyWaiters’ link?)

What intrigued me was that WheezyWaiter (or should I call him Craig?  I don’t think we’re on a first-name basis, so maybe not) talked about exactly the things DH was complaining about.  DH doesn’t like to have to think about what exercises to do or remember where he is in some list (like the ladders), and he doesn’t like to have to keep track of how many of something he’s doing.  Remembering and counting are boring.

So, he looked into this.  And he looked into the Peloton app that lots of women talk about a lot.  And he decided this was better for what he wanted, even though it’s a bit more expensive (~$60/month give or take).  He’s not that interested in live classes, which seems to be the main benefit of the Peloton app if you don’t have their bicycle.

On top of that, with Delta Trainer, there’s someone, an actual real person, who is expecting him to do these exercises.  She provides him feedback after each session and there’s a little back and forth.  That’s an accountability partner right there.  He says that usually with exercise, if he misses a class or stops doing regular exercise, he tends not to come back until he gets the exercise bug again months later.

When you sign up, you get a two week free trial which starts after you first meeting (facetime) with the trainer.  When you sign up, you either tell them that you have an apple watch, or they will send you a refurbished older model apple watch.  You also pick a trainer from three people that they suggest. DH took the one who was interested in health (Kris) and avoided the one who said he was all about weight-loss.  The third looked fine.  In his meeting, they talked about his goals for Delta trainer, and he said he just wanted to be healthy but wouldn’t mind a bit more muscle, but was mainly interested in cardio, flexibility, and strength combined so that he would feel well-rounded. She asked about any injuries or things he was worried about and he mentioned RSI, and that hasn’t been an issue.  (With pandemic yoga, RSI sometimes became an issue.)  He initially said he wanted to work out 5 days a week but she suggested starting at 3 and said he could add more later on.  They’re flexible on the scheduling.  Three days seems to have been the right choice to start with– initially he was kind of sore the next day, but after a few weeks that stopped and he’s no longer sore after exercising and is thinking of adding a weekend day going forward.

Every Sunday the app populates with the exercises for the entire week so he can see what days they’re on and what exercises they are, what equipment is needed, and how much weight and time and how many reps etc.  (Some things are time-based and some are repetition based).  Initially they were all calisthenics, but after he got weights, she added weights to the routine and he’s also got jump-rope exercises now.  There’s also instructions from the trainer about how to do things, why things are being done, and so on.  He can click on each exercise and it will show a little repeating video of someone doing the exercise so he knows what it is supposed to look like.  If he’s not sure, he can also talk with the trainer and she’ll send her own instruction video.  The app has a chat with video built in which is really useful.

When it’s time to do the exercises, he opens the app on his watch, taps on the workout and hits start.  On his iphone he tends to listen to audible which is fantastic because he doesn’t have to think!  Previously he’s tried watching shows while exercising but he couldn’t either exercise well or watch the show well, but audio works.  Because it’s on the phone, it quiets when the delta trainer app talks so he can hear instructions.

Then he does the workout and if it’s too hard, he modifies it himself and then at the end tells the trainer that he modified it so she can adjust the next workout accordingly.  There’s a rating page after where he can provide feedback about the specific workout and the app and can type in comments.  He usually uses the chat to talk with the trainer separately.  The app also has some other things like calories burned and his heartrate overtime and so on.  The heartrate graph also includes the exercise you were doing at each point.

He says it’s nice for him to just have someone who knows what they’re doing to talk with about these things.  He wouldn’t have bought weights and would never be doing any of the weight exercises because he’s just not familiar with them.  But after talking with the trainer and getting instructions from her, he feels comfortable with them now and it’s something he’ll be able to continue doing in the future, even though he never would have started without her.

He was also worried about overdoing certain exercises and hurting a specific part of his body, like straining his lower back, because he’s done that in the past.  But he’s actually been doing more work and harder work than he would have set for himself, but it’s been feeling good, not stressful.  His back feels healthier and stronger. The trainer really does seem to know what she’s doing.

After a month the app suggested he have a video check-in with the trainer and he hasn’t, but it is nice that they do that.

Some frustrations:  Sometimes the app doesn’t track when it should, and it will not realize he’s started or it will think he’s stopped when he hasn’t and then it will just go onto the next set.  He hates that.  Sometimes the app will tell him to go higher or lower, but he’s already as high or low as he can go.  Basically, the apple watch doesn’t always track perfectly.

Overall:  DH says he would recommend Delta Trainer.  He’s doing exercises he wouldn’t have done otherwise and he’s glad for it.  He’s kept up with it for a longer stretch than almost any other exercise stretch and he says that he just feels better.  He loves not having to think about it and how flexible it is in terms of when and where to do it. If you have an extra $60/month to spend on exercise, this seems like a good choice.

What are we reeeading

When previously we discussed books, #2 had recommended Secrets of Drearcliff Grange School.  #1 now vehemently recommends this book as well.  Sooooo good.  DC1 also loved it.

Speaking of DC1 and books about magical schools, both DC1 and I have really enjoyed the The Ever Afters Series by Shelby Bach, about a fairytale after school program.  I couldn’t put the second book down, though I had to put the third book down from time to time because, like with Harry Potter, that’s when stuff gets real.  We have the final book on hold at the library.  (Currently reading!)

I’ve started reading Elizabeth Hoyt.  Her books are fine, but it is true they are a bit repetitive.  Probably best not to read all of them in a row, but to just pick out the best or to take long breaks between.  Check out, don’t buy.  Think late 18th century batman complete with revenge motives.  Lots of batmans with lots of different revenge motives (including the standard dead parents) and different Arthurs and different aristocratic super villains.  Also, for some reason, dogs.  Duke of midnight was going fine until an attempted rape of a minor character whose sole purpose was as a macguffin and to show the good character of a male character, and shortly after the hero roughly shakes the heroine until it hurts her.  Ugh.  The next book in the series has a minor female character beaten to death (in the past) as another macguffin (also as character development for the heroine and another villain).  And after that Dearest Rogue has rape of a minor female character (in the past) as macguffin and character development for the hero!  Also attempted rape of the heroine.  Good grief, can’t she come up with any other way to drive the plot or develop character?  But if you don’t mind the violence-against-women-as-macguffin-and-character-development trope…

This Rake of Mine by Elizabeth Boyle was great fun if you can completely suspend your disbelief and ignore historical accuracy (the main complaints in low star reviews).  If you think of it as a farce it’s fun!  Though about 3/4 of the way through there’s a couple of spots where the author obviously ran out of time (and the editor didn’t fix it) and told rather than showed.  Not great literature, but no sexual violence against women!  Along came a duke though was super boring and I skipped most of the middle.  That could have used less writing.  Her highest rated, the viscount who lived down the lane was fine but could have used editing.  I think I will not seek out the rest of her stuff.

Tried a Lisa Kleypas, specifically Dreaming of You, but she is REALLY into attempted rape as a trope.  I mean seriously, lady.  Also so much gratuitous stupidity.  I can buy the matchmaking lady inviting the hero and the heroine to a house party without them knowing about the other, but inviting the woman who sent the goons who scarred the hero’s face (that the heroine shot in the first chapter) to the same house party when you’re trying to set the hero and heroine up and you know that the villain will try to kill the heroine if she knows that the hero loves her…  That’s just causing drama for drama’s sake.  There was a better way to arrange that (and one that wouldn’t, you know, involve yet another attempted rape on the heroine).  *Sigh*

Meanwhile, back in #2 land, I finished Tam Lin by Pamela Dean.  This book is for you if you liked The Secret History by Donna Tartt.  It’s good, but long, and there’s quite a lot of the main characters talking about poetry and analyzing plays and quoting things at each other.  I’m on Volume 2 of Gotham Academy.  I’ve been catching up on Maria V. Snyder and some very naughty books and stories that can’t go on this blog.  I’ve also  caught up (almost?) on Ilona Andrews, and read a bit of nonfiction.  My current read, which I love so far, is Nevada, by Imogene Binnie.  At the start of the book, the main character works in a huge used bookstore and her life is kinda bad.  I sense that big changes are coming.

What are YOU reading, Grumpeteers?