Usability Observation #5

usability_observation_5When stay at my grandmother’s house outside of Boston, she cooks me oatmeal every morning. Every time she does it, she puts out two bowls: one containing the piping hot oatmeal, and one empty one with a spoon in it.

This is her method for faster cooling. Keep most of the oatmeal in the one bowl, and scoop out a few spoonfuls into bowl #2. The higher “oatmeal surface area : oatmeal volume” ratio in bowl #2 lends it to naturally cooling the oatmeal faster.

It’s brilliant. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cooked oatmeal for myself (not because I particularly like it, but because it was the only thing resembling breakfast food left in my kitchen at the time), only to discover that I was running late and had to stick the oatmeal in my fridge and save it for later. And you know what’s even worse than oatmeal? Leftover oatmeal.

The thing I like most about this approach is how a simple idea about how to arrange things leads to a perfect solution requiring no energy at all (other than scooping oatmeal from one bowl to another and having to wash one more bowl).
Reminds me of a couple of things:
1. Passive solar building design.
2. The old saying (not sure if it’s true) that while NASA was putting $$$ toward designing a pen to work in zero-gravity, the Russians used a pencil.


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