Ghost in the Machine

I blame Adam. First he told me about Woot! and then he told me about the Wootalyzer. So it’s all his fault. And if it’s not his fault, then it’s Mom’s. Or Alton Brown’s. It’s definitely not mine.

Those of us who are not into Internet jargon may not be aware that “w00t!” (with zeros instead of Os) is an expression of joy, an Internet hurrah. A few days ago Adam told me about a website,, that sells overstocked items at amazingly low prices, usually one new item per day, posted at midnight Central time. When it sells out, that’s it, nothing more until the next midnight rolls around. But once every month or so they have something called a Woot-Off, in which they have smaller numbers of each item in stock, so they run them back to back. Some items, either because they have very few of them or because they’re very hot items or both, sell out in seconds. Others hang around for several minutes or, for big-ticket items, for an hour or more until they sell out.

The Wootalizer is a small program that connects to the Woot! website and sounds an alarm each time a new item is posted. This is particularly helpful during Woot-Offs when you might have something precious disappear in the time it takes the web page to reload.

The Woot-Off that started yesterday is still running today. My Wootalizer has been sounding its alarm at distressingly frequent intervals, and I’m about to silence it when up pops this set of knives by the masters of Japanese knife-making, Shun (marketed in the U.S. by Kershaw). Six knives and a bamboo knife block for $249 plus $5 shipping.

Now, I’ve been lusting after these particular knives ever since I saw Alton Brown (of Good Eats fame) extol their virtues; they were for years the only knives he would use, and he met with Shun and asked them to make a series with the blades angled for easier cutting. They made them, and he put his name (and face) on them. Together these knives regularly sell for $527 (not counting the knife block or shipping), so Woot’s price was way less than half.

Now for the weird part.

When the Wootalizer popped up with this offer, I panicked. A couple of years ago Mom got me a lovely set of Wüsthoff knives for Christmas; they too had been objects of great desire, and since their purchase they have been my pride and joy. When the Shun-lust started, I told myself that I already had the best, or very close to the best, and I needed nothing more. I had to tell myself that repeatedly, because of the drooling.

So when this pop-up popped up, I thought: Ack! (Well, that’s really not much of a thought, honestly. But it was the best I could do at the moment.) “What do I do? Say no, say no!” And I did. I took my hands off the keyboard entirely, and took a deep breath. I started reading:

  • Clad Construction. The wavy pattern on our blades is called a Damascus look; what gives it that pattern are 16 layers of SUS410 High Carbon Stainless Steel pounded to 3/1000th of an inch and then “clad” on each side of the VG10 core. This combination of materials gives the blade strength, stain resistance, and incredible cutting performance.
  • The Cutting Edge. Shun’s cutting edge is ground to an angle of 16 degrees making them extremely sharp; compare this to the best German knives which are only ground to only 22 degrees. The exotic Japanese steels used in the cutting core of our knives allow them to hold these razor-sharp edges without the need for excessive resharpening.
  • VG10 “Super Steel.” VG10 is a new type of stainless steel that has a higher density. This allows the steel to be tempered to a Rockwell hardness of 61, and still have the flexibility and strength to take and keep a perfect edge. VG10’s natural tendency is to remain straight and true, so when it is used, the edge of the blade naturally straightens out and stays sharper longer
  • SG-2 Powdered Steel. Shun uses SG-2 as the cutting steel. The SG-2 is an exotic powdered steel with incredible edge retention capability and hardness, resulting in an exceedingly sharp and smooth edge. It has a much higher density and grain structure with no imperfections or weak points.
  • D-shaped ebony-black Pakkawood handles, with stainless-steel bolsters and end caps.

But before I had finished reading, the screen changed to the “purchase” page. I hadn’t done a thing. My hands were still at my sides. Because I had bought items previously, the page was all filled out for me. All I had to do was click the “this info is correct” button to seal the deal.

I didn’t. My hands were still at my sides.

The button clicked of its own accord. I swear to God.

As I shrieked, I swear I could hear Mom’s gentle chuckle, and could see her smiling at me out of the corner of my eye. It felt like her gift to me, the knife “upgrade” that I would never get myself, out of respect for her.

Kinda puts a different spin on the old “finality of death” idea, doesn’t it?

Categories: Cooking, Death, Family | 10 Comments

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10 thoughts on “Ghost in the Machine

  1. indigo bunting

    They’re my solstice gift, aren’t they? You’re a schnookums.

  2. I blame Wulf, of course, for showing me Woot. As far as the knives, I might be persuaded into helping prep for dinner one night.

    Then again, prying the knife out of may hand after might be troublesome.

    Now, the woot-off is still on and I WANT that Baof of Crap!

  3. Mali

    Aaah lust for good knives. And guilt over old ones. I can relate, as I recently wrote.

  4. All this talk of knives…watch your fingers! And what are you going to do with the German set?

  5. I’m planning to keep it, Lali, at least for the time being. The Shun set is missing a number of very useful knives (especially the larger ones) that the Wüsthoff has. The bigger question is whether to select the best of the Wüsthoff set to combine with the Shun, or keep two knifeblocks on my limited counter space!

  6. Jennie

    Mount both blocks under-cabinet?

  7. I have even less cabinet space than I do counter space.

    I’m seriously thinking of extending the kitchen into the breakfast nook, and installing some sort of cabinetry and counters there, so there may be hope.

  8. I understand, or so I am told, that someone forwarded this to the Woot people.

  9. Grin! Patterns are fascinating, I write about woot, a friend responds, my Twin asks me what it means and then his friend is off buying. (The same knife set that became a Christmas present for a very good friend… maybe I should have gotten a set for myself as well.)


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