Facial recognition technology foils toilet paper bandits

Visitors to the Temple Haven Park in Beijing are being looked at more closely – by the toilet paper dispensers. The dispensers use facial recognition technology to determine who gets toilet paper and who doesn’t.

Park officials installed the dispensers to curb rampant toilet paper thefts at the popular tourist site. The dispensers, which activate when a person stares into them for three seconds, rip off a precisely two-foot piece of paper. Thanks to the dispenser, a bathroom visitor can only get a new stash of TP once every nine minutes. Need more? Out of luck.

Visitors to the park aren’t particularly pleased with the high-tech TP guardians. Some think that the dispensers are a little too stingy with the paper; others lament the fact that the dispensers are even necessary.

Park officials found that locals, rather than visitors, were making off with the toilet paper in the park’s restrooms. To combat the thefts, they strategized about ways to discourage the bandits. Ultimately, they settled on facial recognition technology because it doesn’t require the user to touch the machine. Other rejected solutions used fingerprint readers and infrared scanners.

The dispensers cost northward of $700 each, but park officials believe that they’ll cut down on paper waste and paper theft. The restrooms at the park are somewhat of an oddity in China; most public restrooms don’t supply toilet paper in the first place. The Temple Haven Park has provided complementary wipes for about 10 years, but was being overwhelmed by the demand.

Some park visitors say that the toilet paper problem exemplifies the impact of poverty on ordinary Chinese citizens. In a country where the “squat toilet” is still the king of the hill, toilet paper is something of a rare commodity. Foreign visitors are advised to carry their own toilet paper when sightseeing, and putting the paper in the bowl when you’re finished is frowned upon. That’s because the plumbing in China often isn’t big enough to accommodate toilet paper.

Visitors who can’t bear the thought of using a public restroom in China are often advised to seek out a local McDonald’s or a western-style hotel, where flush toilets (and presumably free toilet paper) are standard.

Sometimes, even in the good, old US of A, your plumbing may not be up to the task. Objects that weren’t intended to be flushed can clog a pipe. Minerals and other deposits can also reduce water flow in the system. We’re always here to help with the most unpleasant problems that can crop up with your favorite flusher. Give us a call at (617) 288-2911. We don’t provide free toilet paper, but we’ll make sure your toilet is up to whatever you can throw at it!

Photo Credit: Simon Schoeters, via Flickr

Win on Game Day With Slow Cooked Chicken Wings!

You can’t possibly get through Game Day without having some chicken wings. The great news is that they’re super easy to make in your slow cooker.

Here’s the basic recipe and sauce combinations to tempt your tastebuds while you enjoy the Big Game! Read on through to check out our wings contest, and enter for a chance to score a container of BioClean enzymatic drain cleaner.

Slow cooker chicken wings

• 1 dozen thawed chicken wings
• Sauce*

1. Arrange the wings in the slow cooker.
2. Cover with the lid.
3. Cook for 2 ½ hours on high.
4. In a separate bowl, mix the sauce ingredients together.
5. Pour over the chicken wings and cook for at least 30 minutes.

*Try one of these sauce ideas:

Buffalo style: Mix 1 12 oz bottle of Frank’s Red Hot Sauce, 1 1 oz. packet of powdered ranch dressing mix. Serve with ranch dressing for dipping.

BBQ Ranch: Mix 1 bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce, 1 packet of powdered ranch dressing mix. Serve with ranch dressing for dipping.

Sweet style: Mix Sweet Baby Ray’s Honey Chipotle Sauce, ½ jar of peach preserves.
OR Mix 1 bottle of Honey BBQ Sauce, ½ jar of orange marmalade

BBQ & Soda: Mix your favorite BBQ sauce, and six ounces of your favorite soda – Coke, Cherry Coke, Dr. Pepper and Root Beer all test well. (Don’t use diet soda!) If you’re feeling adventurous, try a SWEET (not dry) ginger ale and a little chunked or crushed pineapple.

Remember: when you’re cleaning up, don’t throw the cooked sauce down the drain. Fats and oils are especially good at clogging kitchen drains. Instead, transfer the leftover cooking liquid to a sealable plastic container and dispose of it in the trash.

If your drain or disposal can’t keep up with Game Day action, head over to our YouTube Channel to see how to get your clogged drain or disposal moving again.


Take a picture of your Game Day wings no later than February 7th and share it with us. We’ll choose our favorite image. If your photo is chosen, you win can of BioClean enzymatic drain cleaner!

Photo Credit: Stu Spivak, via

Toilet Tidbits To Start The Week

At Boston Standard Plumbing, we spend a lot of time thinking about toilets. In case you missed it, here are a few current potty tales that caught our attention.

The glow of a golden throne. If you’re planning a trip to New York City soon, stop by the Guggenheim Museum and check out their newest exhibit entitled “America.” It’s a fully functional replica of a Kohler toilet cast in 18-karat gold by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan. According to Cattelan, the toilet, which is installed in a private unisex bathroom that also features a sink and mirror, is only art when someone is “answering nature’s call.” Catellan came out of a 5-year retirement to design “America,” which allows the public to interact with a “luxury product” that would appeal to the 1%. The exhibit was supposed to open during the first week of May, but the museum encountered “technical difficulty” that has delayed the grand unveiling. As of this writing, the exhibit is still listed as “upcoming.”

This throne also glows, but for different reasons. Dave Reynolds, the designer of Night Glow Seats hopes that his product appeals to the other 99%. It’s not actually a toilet; it’s just a toilet seat, but as the name suggests, it glows in the dark. Reynolds, who formerly worked for Virgin Records, conceived and designed the green- or blue-glowing seats after he fell off the toilet one night in the dark. Night Glow Seats are made from photoluminescent plastic, fit either round or elongated bowls, and retain their charge for at least 8 hours from any light source, but work best under UV-light. The seats can be cleaned with standard cleaning products, and can last up to 10 years.

Only a no-account varmint would do this. Police in Columbus just arrested a man for dismantling public toilets and stealing the plumbing parts. Gilbert Duwayne Courts was arrested and charged with 12 counts each of burglary and vandalism. According to police, Courts targeted bathrooms in local restaurants, a hospital and a K Mart store, and sold the purloined pipes to support his drug habit. Police distributed surveillance photos of Courts, and tips from the public helped to flush him out.

At Boston Standard Plumbing, we can do a lot of things, but we probably can’t get an Italian artist to create a solid gold toilet for you. However, if you can get your hands on one, you can avoid “technical difficulties” by allowing the pros at Boston Standard Plumbing to install it! We can also save the day if some dirty, rotten scoundrel makes off with your potty parts. Give us a call at Boston Standard Plumbing at (617) 288-2911 anytime!

Photo Credit: Night Glow Seats

Water Efficiency: The Averages v The Ideals

If you plan to watch the Super Bowl this weekend, you’re likely to see a little water efficiency activism, thanks to Colgate-Palmolive. The Fortune-500 superbrand is using its Super Bowl spot to remind people to turn off the water when they brush.

Leaving the water running can send as much as 4 gallons of fresh water down the drain. The ad reminds viewers that those 4 wasted gallons are more fresh water than some people around the world get in an entire week.

Turning off the water while you brush you teeth can save about $40 per year. If you’re looking for some big savings, think about this: the three biggest water consumers in your home are your toilets, your washing machine and your shower. Let’s look at two typical Boston families (four people each) – the Average family and the Ideal family – and how their relative water efficiency shows up on their water bills.

The Bathroom
Each member of the Average household flushes the toilet about 5 times per day, so the Average family uses more than 25,500 gallons per year just to clear the bowl. Toilet usage accounts for nearly one-third of the Averages’ water bill.

The Ideal family installed new water-saving toilets in their home. Each member of the Ideal family also flushes the toilet 5 times, but since their toilets only consume 1.25 gallons per flush, the Ideals use only about 9,000 gallons of water per year on flushing.

If the retail rate for water and sewer services is $0.015 per gallon in their town, the Averages will spend about $380 per year to flush their toilets, while the Ideals will spend just $135. By switching to a new toilet (or even a high-efficiency toilet using just 1.25 gallons per flush), the Averages can reduce their water use by 16,500 gallons per year and save about $250 per year!

The Laundry Room
The Averages have an older washing machine that uses 32 gallons of water per load. The Averages do 12 loads of laundry each week, so they use about 20,000 gallons of water for laundering in a year.
The Ideals have a new high-efficiency washing machine that uses 13 gallons of water per load. They also do 12 loads of laundry each week, but their washer uses only about 8,100 gallons of water each year. Using the same retail rate for water and sewer services, the Averages will spend about $300 each year on laundry, while the Ideals will spend just $122, a savings of $178 annually.

The Shower
Each member of the Average family spends more than 8 minutes in the shower, which uses about 20 gallons of water per shower at a cost of about $0.30 per shower. In a year, the Averages use more than 29,000 gallons of water for showering. The Ideal family installed a WaterSense showerhead, which reduced their shower usage to about 16 gallons per shower at a cost of about $0.24 per shower. They reduced their consumption to about 23,360 gallons per year. The Averages spend about $438 annually on showering, while the Ideal family spends just $350.

In terms of water, the Averages consume nearly 75,000 gallons of water each year, while the Ideals use about 40,000 gallons per year on the same activities. In all, the Averages spend $1,118 on water and sewer, while the Ideals spend about $600.

If you’d like more information about water-efficiency, and how you can make your home more water efficient, please give us a call at Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating at (617) 288-2911. We’d be happy to help you select and install water saving fixtures around your home!

Photo Credit: Bob Smith, via

Angie’s List Recognizes Boston Standard Company again!

We’re pleased to announce that Boston Standard Company has been recognized by Angie’s List with a Super Service Award for the 6th consecutive year! Angie’s List is a members-only organization where subscribers rate and review a wide range of service providers. The top 5% of service providers on the list each year are given a Super Service designation.

As always, we want to thank all of our customers, and especially those who took the time to review us. Your feedback helps your neighbors and friends learn about the good work we’re doing at Boston Standard Company. We wouldn’t receive recognition like this without you. We also want to recognize all of our dedicated employees, who make Boston Standard Company stand out from the crowd every single day.

What makes Boston Standard Company so different? We always put the customer first. As much as we would like it, we know that our customers aren’t calling to invite us over for a cup of tea. They’re usually up to their elbows in something unpleasant when our phone rings! We spring into action immediately – whether you’re having a meltdown in July, or you’re playing hockey in your basement – we’re always ready to help.

We can service most makes and models of heating and cooling equipment, and we’re ready to tackle any plumbing problem you can throw at us. We’re also a great resource when you’re planning your next upgrade, or you want to modernize the equipment in your home.

Call us for a consultation on a replacement boiler, furnace, air conditioner or heat pump. Need a new water heater? We can help with that, too! We can also show you how to save money year-round on your plumbing, heating and cooling by choosing the most efficient models.

We know that replacing a major system in your home is a big decision, often with a big price tag. You want to make sure you get the right equipment for your home and your budget. We’ll help you take advantage of rebates, tax breaks and incentives on your purchases, and we can also help with financing, too!

If you’d like to see Boston Standard Company in action, give us a call at (617) 288-2911. We offer true 24-hour emergency service for those truly memorable moments, and scheduled service for repairs, upgrades and consultations.

Thanks again for all of your great feedback and Happy 2016 from Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating.

Happy World Toilet Day! You’re pooping wrong

Happy World Toilet Day! You're pooping wrong

Happy World Toilet Day! You’re pooping wrong

An Israeli study from 2003, which looked at the way adults poop, found that pooping from a sitting position really isn’t the best way to do it. The researchers asked adult participants to poop from a seated position using a standard height toilet and a low toilet. They also asked the participants to poop from a squatting position – the position we’d naturally use if we were… you know … natural.

Not surprisingly, the researchers found that pooping from a seated position (whether higher or lower) requires more effort and more time than pooping while squatting. Over time, researchers say that our unnatural pooping position can cause digestive problems and other physical maladies, like hemorrhoids.

Don’t get rid of the flush toilet yet, though! There are a lot of things to like about our porcelain thrones, but their ergonomics isn’t one of them. Coming to our rescue is a number of designers, who are bringing a number of friendly alternatives to the bathroom.

In fact, the University of the Arts in London held a contest to design a human-friendly toilet that was based on the idea of squatting rather than sitting and the results were not only artistic, but practical.

If you’re ready to go beyond concepts, for as little as $35, you could try the Squatty Potty, which isn’t really a potty at all. It’s a little step that elevates your feet and legs when you sit on a conventional toilet. The positional aid helps you to achieve a better, more natural posture during elimination.

If you are looking for something a little more hard-core, try the Lillipad Toilet Squatting Platform from New Zealand, which fits around your toilet and lets you squat on top of it. The Lillipad comes in two different heights and will set you back about $160, including shipping. You can also find other foldable or collapsible toilet platforms that range in price from about $80 to $160 that will also allow you to poop while squatting.

Squatting may seem unnatural to us, but two-thirds of the world’s population poops from a squatting position, and sitting while pooping has only been around for about 150 years. Just something to think about on World Toilet Day.

Photo Credit: Jenny Rollo, via

Pie In The Sky: Boston Standard’s Ready for Thanksgiving!

Pie In The Sky: Boston Standard's Ready for Thanksgiving!

Pie In The Sky: Boston Standard’s Ready for Thanksgiving!

Everyone knows that the best part of Thanksgiving is the pie. This year, Boston Standard Company is pitching in to help Community Servings with Pie In The Sky! Throughout the year, Community Servings provides home-delivered, medically tailored meals to critically ill patients, their families and caregivers in the Greater Boston Area.

Every Thanksgiving, Boston’s best chefs, bakers, restaurateurs and caterers pitch in to donate thousands of apple, pecan, pumpkin and sweet potato pies to benefit Community Servings. Each pie costs $28, and the proceeds from this event (more than $800,000) help Community Servings feed a critically ill client for a week.

Community Servings has been working in the Greater Boston Area since 1990, serving acutely ill patients by delivering delicious, nutritious food to their homes. Pie In The Sky, which was developed by members of Boston’s restaurant community, has been delivering pies in support of this service since 1993. Because of the generosity of the Boston community, Community Servings is able to direct $0.93 of every $1.00 to its mission of feeding the acutely ill.

On November 24, Boston Standard Company will be rolling a truck to deliver holiday pies to some of the dozens of pickup locations in the Greater Boston Area. If you would like to help, there are many ways to lend a hand to this worthy cause.

Visit Pie In The Sky to buy a pie for yourself, or donate a pie in someone else’s honor. If you want to do more, you can join a group of about 700 pie-sellers in Boston who sell these delicious pies! Not a salesman? No problem! You can also volunteer to bake pies, but Community Servings will need your commitment by November 13. You can also help “behind the scenes” at Pie Central or in a number of other ways.

Get a great, fresh-baked pie for family and friends this Thanksgiving, or donate a pie to brighten up someone else’s Thanksgiving table. It’s a great way to kick off the holiday season!

Photo Credit: Mike Johnson, via

How We’re Spending Our Summer!

How We're Spending Our Summer!

How We’re Spending Our Summer!

It’s summer and we’ve been hopping at Boston Standard Company! We’re proud to announce that we’re sponsoring Men of Boston Cook for Women’s Health. This amazing organization raises funds and awareness to improve women’s health in our community.

Men of Boston will be having a supremely tasty fundraiser on Thursday, October 1 at 6:00 PM at its annual Under the Tent Gala at the Codman Square Health Center at 637 Washington Street in Dorchester. All proceeds go to benefit local women’s health programming. If you would like more information, or would like to join us under the tent, please contact Scotland Huber at (617) 822-8734 for tickets or more information. Since 1995, Men of Boston has raised more than $2 million in support of women’s health.

We also sponsored the All Dorchester Sports League this summer, and helped raise funds to repair and rehabilitate the facilities and bleachers. Regardless of your favorite sports, ADSL has something for you! ADSL sponsors baseball, softball and basketball programs, and also offers fitness classes for kids of all ages, along with tutoring and homework help programs for kids between the ages of 10 and 18! Check out the ADSL at

We had so much fun sponsoring the Franklin Park Zoo last year that we did it again this year. This year, Boston Standard Company sponsored the dwarf crocodile exhibit. We find a lot of things in the sewers around Boston, but thankfully, we’ve never run across any of these guys! The West African Dwarf Crocodile only grows to about 5 feet in length, and they’re slow movers, but they’ve got plenty of time – they have a life expectancy of up to 100 years! You can find this guy in the Tropical Forest exhibit at the Franklin Park Zoo.

With all of these great projects, you may be wondering whether we’ve gotten any work done. Well, we’re glad you asked! Check out our latest “rough” work on a great new coffee shop near South Station. Gracenote Coffee is an independently owned 200 square-foot espresso and coffee bar serving locally roasted in Boston’s Historic Leather District. We’re happy to say that we did the plumbing work for their compact new kitchen, and B. Haley Designs did the design work, so raise a cup to this fabulous space when you stop and pay them a visit!

For more information about what we’ve been up to, or to get some plumbing work done on your own fabulous space, contact us at Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating at (617) 288-2911 anytime.
Photos: B. Hayley Designs

Sexist or Practical? The Two-Person Sales Pitch

A newspaper columnist in Detroit recently raised a question about a particular kind of sales pitch that initially seemed sexist. The writer was looking for a quote for home improvements, specifically window replacements. Each window company she called said they would only send a salesperson if her husband were also present at the appointment. “Single” appointments were available, but only at inconvenient times (mid-afternoon) that would require her to take time from work.

After doing a little more research, she found that other consumers had the same experience – but not just women. Men had also been told that sales appointments could only be set if their wives would be present. And the practice wasn’t limited to windows. Consumers also identified roofing companies, heating and cooling companies and other home improvement contractors that use the practice. The columnist’s view on the matter changed from being a “sexist” sales practice, to being a high-pressure pitch.

The window companies that would comment on the columnist’s sales experiences insisted that their approach was not sexist, but simply practical. Many homeowners will listen to a sales pitch, only to defer the decision to an absent spouse. (“Well, I’ll talk to my husband/wife about it and get back to you.”) To avoid that, the companies would only offer the sales pitch if both decision-makers were present.

While the tactic isn’t sexist, it’s designed to put the buyers in an awkward spot. This approach is likely to trigger uncomfortable discussions between the buyers, pit the buyers against each other, or force the buyers to reveal information that they don’t want to disclose. And in the end, it puts pressure on the buyers to make an immediate decision without considering other options.

At Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating, we offer our product information to anyone who is interested! We understand that sometimes, it’s more convenient for one homeowner to hear the sales presentation and relay the information to their spouse or another decision-maker. We also know that replacement of a major heating, cooling or plumbing system in a home or business sometimes can’t wait, and that’s enough pressure to make a purchase decision! When a new system is a choice, every available option deserves some careful consideration.

Don’t get us wrong: we’ll always take an immediate answer, but we don’t expect one right away! We’re homeowners, just like our customers are. We don’t like being on the receiving end of high-pressure sales pitches, so we don’t treat our customers like that.

If you’re looking for information about replacement options for your heating, cooling or plumbing systems, but don’t want a high-pressure sales pitch, give us a call at Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating at (617) 288-2911. We’ll lay out your options, costs and provide information about financing, rebates and tax credits that may be available to you.

Photo Credit: penywise, via

Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating Earns 5th Consecutive Super Service Award!

Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating Earns 5th Consecutive Super Service Award!

Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating Earns 5th Consecutive Super Service Award!

We’re pleased to announce that Boston Standard Company has received its 5th consecutive Angie’s List Super Service Award for 2014! Angie’s List gives the award to companies that have maintained a consistently high service rating with their subscribers.

Being named to this prestigious group is always an honor, and we’d like to thank our customers for taking the time to rate our services. About 5% of companies on the list qualify for the award.

Customer service is an exceptionally important part of our business model, and we strive to provide the best possible experience each time we perform a service call. We know that plumbing and heating/cooling problems don’t occur on a convenient schedule. We try to make the process of repair as fast, easy, convenient and pleasant as possible under admittedly bad circumstances.

Likewise, we know that buying a new furnace, boiler or air conditioner isn’t something most homeowners do every day. Our goal is provide our customers with as much information as possible about all of their options, so they’re prepared to make good, cost-effective buying decisions about the major systems in their homes. We make recommendations and also offer assistance with financing and rebate programs, to help take the sting out of major purchases.

Your feedback is an important part of our process, too. We contact each customer after we’ve performed a service call to ask for your opinion of the work we performed. We use your responses to improve our customer service.

Once again, thanks for your help in making Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating one of the top plumbing, heating and cooling service providers in the Boston area. If you would like more information about Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating, or would like help with the plumbing, heating and cooling systems in your home, please call us anytime at (617) 288-2911. We provide true, 24-hour emergency service, with trained and licensed professionals, and have a fleet of fully stocked trucks ready to assist you!

Photo Credit: Angie’s List