Assignment 7: Concept Selection and Idea Pitches


I. Pugh Chart
I created this Pugh Chart to compare the ideas.


The Snow Log Maker was the winner. It was one of the most popular ideas from the survey. I think it will be fun to make and try out.

II. Best Idea and Name
Name Brainstorming
Snow Log Maker
Snow Wall Maker
Ice Fort Shovel
Snow Castle
Bastion Shovel

Winner: Bastion Snow Shovel

Final Sketch


III. Elevator Pitch Video
Details for the elevator pitch:
The opportunity is for a novel snow fort making device. This product works like a shovel, so large volumes of snow may be moved at once. As the user pushes the Bastion Shovel, it compacts the snow into a roll. Common snow fort products make single bricks, and rely on the maker sitting down. The market is for preadolescents and adolescents or adults who help them play. The estimated bulk material cost is $2.94. The estimated price to consumers is $29. In the preliminary patent search I did not find any related patents, except for basic shovels or levered shovels. I believe it can be made locally.

Pitch Video


Please open the video with QuickTime or iMovie.

Week 6: Preliminary Idea Evaluation


I. Marketable:
A. Survey Design
I created a Google Survey and posted it online. The survey included an image of each design. Each drawing was redone in the same style for consistency. There was no supplemental text that was not included in the original image.

I sent the survey link to participants of my past surveys, friends and family (convenience sampling), the UMN Design Graduate Student Association, and the College of Design Graduate Student list.

Participants were anonymous. They were not given incentive to participate beyond knowing that they helped me, and I would't know if they did so. I estimated the survey would take about 10 minutes.

Here is the text from the survey:
Creativity & Idea Generation
Winter Product Ideas
The following items were generated through short brainstorming sessions conducted during Creativity & Idea Generation by both students and non-students. Participants drew the idea and labeled it with a title.

The drawings have been redrawn so they are all in a similar style.

This survey is to test the novelty, feasibility, and usefulness of the ideas. In this stage, those attributes will be tested as a market survey, to test if people think they are worth purchasing.

You may check multiple boxes.

Please Check if you:
--Would use the idea.
--Know someone who would use the idea.
--Could see yourself buying the idea.
--In the "Other" box, list the purchase price you would be willing to pay.

Here is a link to the survey if you would like to participate.

There were ten product images presented with questions below. Participants were asked to check boxes if they agreed with the questions:
Would you use this idea?
Do you know someone who would use this idea?
Could you see yourself buying this?
Other: Here they were asked to enter a dollar amount if they would consider purchasing the item.

The last field was perhaps the most confusing. In the Google survey, I could not find a way to edit the other field, and adding a short response field with a different label required a new question section, breaking the formatting of the survey.

There were 38 respondents.

B. Survey Responses
Snow Scoop
11-Would use the idea.
8--Know someone who would use the idea.
9--Could see yourself buying the idea.
$19.57 avg--Dollars ($2; 5; 15; 15; 20; 30; 50)
Other comments:
You should have a 'would not use' category.
Nope, too much twisting.
I don't find what this idea is.

Snow Cutter
10--Would use the idea.
9--Know someone who would use the idea.
8--Could see yourself buying the idea.
$63 avg--Dollars ($25; 40; 50; 50; 150)

Snow Log Maker
20--Would use the idea.
9--Know someone who would use the idea.
15--Could see yourself buying the idea.
$24.50 avg--Dollars ($15; 19.99; 20; 20; 20; 20; 25; 25; 30; 50)

Full Weight Shovel
18--Would use the idea.
9--Know someone who would use the idea.
12--Could see yourself buying the idea.
$26.40 avg--Dollars ($10; 20; 20; 24.99; 25; 25; 25; 30; 40; 44)
Other comments:
Already on market.

Ice Cutter
7--Would use the idea.
5--Know someone who would use the idea.
6--Could see yourself buying the idea.
$17.50 avg--Dollars ($5; 15; 20; 30)
Other comments:
Ouch. I like my feet.

Carden (Car Garden)
7--Would use the idea.
6--Know someone who would use the idea.
4--Could see yourself buying the idea.
$16.67 avg--Dollars ($10; 20; 20)

Vertical Handle Shovel
6--Would use the idea.
3--Know someone who would use the idea.
7--Could see yourself buying the idea.
$15.83 avg--Dollars ($5; 10; 15; 15; 20; 30)
Other comments:
Seems a little tiring for hands.

RFID Winter Clothes Charms
4--Would use the idea.
5--Know someone who would use the idea.
5--Could see yourself buying the idea.
$42 avg--Dollars ($10; 20; 50; 50; 80)
Other comments:
Obnoxious noises, I'd pay 50 just to drive my sister-in-law nuts.
I don't find it attractive.

SnHoe (Snow Hoe)
9--Would use the idea.
5--Know someone who would use the idea.
8--Could see yourself buying the idea.
$48.33 avg--Dollars ($10; 30; 40; 50; 60; 100)
Other comments:
Would not use, dangerous.
The melted snow will be everywhere.

Ice Breaker
9--Would use the idea.
4--Know someone who would use the idea.
5--Could see yourself buying the idea.
$44.80 avg--Dollars ($10; 30; 35; 49; 100)
Other comments:
Too visually complicated.

C. Survey Results
These results are interesting. The people potentially using and purchasing are not necessarily the same. Many said they would use a given idea, when it was not tied to cost. About half that amount could see other people using the idea, but they were not always the same people. The number of participants that could see themselves buying an idea varied quite a bit. Sometimes people said they would buy the idea but could not see themselves using it.

Top 5 Ideas

Top 5 Ideas participants thought they would use:
1. Snow Log Maker (20)
2. Full Weight Shovel (18)
3. Snow Scoop (11)
4. ShHoe (Snow Hoe) (9)
5. Ice Breaker (9)

Top 5 Ideas participants thought someone they know would use:
1. Snow Log Maker (11)
2. Snow Cutter (9)
2. Full Weight Shovel (9)
4. Snow Scoop (8)
5. Carden (Car Garden) (6)

Top 5 Ideas by number of participants who said they could see purchasing the item:
1. Snow Log Maker (15)
2. Full Weight Shovel (12)
3. Snow Scoop (9)
4. Snow Cutter (8)
4. SnHoe (Snow Hoe) (8)

Top 5 Ideas by average estimated purchase price:
1. Snow Cutter ($63)
2. SnHoe (Snow Hoe) ($48.35)
3. Ice Breaker ($44.80)
4. RFID Clothes Charms ($42)
5. Full Weight Shovel ($26.40)

This element seems the least useful to rank by price. The estimated purchase price doesn't take into account the cost of making the item. The relatively high price of the Snow Cutter might be of less value when the cost of the complex machine is factored into the equation. Similarly, the relatively simple appearing Snow Log Maker might be worth more profit if it could be made with one or two inexpensive parts.

D. Top 5 Marketable Products:
1. Snow Log Maker
2. Full Weight Shovel
3. Snow Scoop
4. ShHoe (Snow Hoe)
5. Ice Breaker

II. Novel:

A. Benchmarking the Ideas Versus the State of the Art

1. Snow Log Maker 2x2
Arctic Force Snowball Maker

Emsco Group 53020 Snow Castle Kit

Flexible Flyer Sno Block

Flexible Flyer Snowball Maker

POOF-Slinky Sno-Brick Maker

Whamo Snow Trac Ball

2. Full Weight Shovel 2x2
MANPLOW Metro30 Snow Shovel/Pusher

Power Dynamics Snow Shovel

Rubbermaid 9F52 Scovel Two-Handed Ice Shovel

Silver Bear Snow Scoops

True Temper 26" SnoBoss Snow Shovel

3. Snow Scoop 2x2
Dual Handled Digger

Shovel Master

4. ShHoe (Snow Hoe) 2x2
Eddie Bauer Heated Ice Scraper

Heated Ice Scraper

Ice Dozer Ergonomic Ice Scraper

Shingle Saver Snow Roof Rake

Snow Plow

5. Ice Breaker 2x2
Craftsman CX Series 33

SnoDozer Snow Shovel

Snow Joe Electric Snow Thrower


Vertex Shovel

B. Preliminary Patent Searches
1. Snow Log Maker
Core extractor for core drill US 2850265 A

2. Full Weight Shovel
Snow Shovel US 6237975 B1

3. Snow Scoop
Dual handled shovel US 5921600 A

Shovel With Improved Lifting Means US 4200324 A

Two handled shovel US Patent 7077444

4. ShHoe (Snow Hoe)
Electrically heated snow remover: Patent US 2699614 A

">Heated Snow Shovel: Patent US 4034489 A

5. Ice Breaker

Hand ice breaker CN 2277421 Y

III. Feasible
A. The Biggest Concerns for the Top 5 Ideas
1. Snow Log Maker

My top concern for the Log Maker is that it will not work. My brother is convinced that it will not function, but I think there are some solutions that might. For example, I was thinking of an ice core drill-bit. Maybe a tube is pushed along the ground with the open end in the line of movement to collect the snow and compact it into the log shape.

My second concern is weight when it is full. It might be too heavy for kids to manipulate when it has snow inside the cavity.

2. Full Weight Shovel
My concern for the Full Weight Shovel is simply that it may be too similar to other devices. I do not think it needs wheels.

3. Snow Scoop

My concern for the Snow Scoop is the human factors. It might be lot of weight to be swinging around. I'm not sure about the human factors involved.

4. ShHoe (Snow Hoe)

The SnHoe concern is, as some of the survey participants mentioned, mixing electricity and water. I see there are a handful of patents for a heated snow shovel. I think the rake shape is different enough to pursue, but what about safety? Will an insulated power cord be sufficient or would this need to be a gas powered device.

5. Ice Breaker

My concern for the Ice Breaker is the weight of the device and whether it would work. It might be difficult to get the lifting blade under the snow and ice. A second concern is that it doesn't remove the snow, just breaks sheets of snow and ice.

B. The Rough Manufacturing Cost Assessment for the Top 5 Ideas

1. Snow Log Maker

$2.25 for tube. ODL 14" Diameter x48" Tubular Aluminum Skylight ($89.99)=672". Cut Diamerter of cylinder in half=7"Diameter tube=168". 168"/672"=25%. 89.99x0.25=$22.50. $22.50/10 for materials=$2.25
$0.41 for 1.25" x 48" hardwood dowel (retail $4.10)/10=$.41
$0.28 Hinged opening to release log ($2.78 retail)/10=$.28
=$2.94 Bulk Material Cost
+ $2.94 Labor (1x Bulk Materials)
$5.88 total Manufacturing Cost

2. Full Weight Shovel

$2. for Steel Scoop (about 2 lbs.) = 1kg. At $2/kg.=$2
$0.41 for 1.25" x 48" hardwood dowel (retail $4.10)/10=$.41
=$2.41 bulk materials
$2.41Labor (1x bulk materials)
$4.82 total Manufacturing Cost

3. Snow Scoop

$1.50 for 1m graphite shaft (150g) 150/1000=.15kgx$10=$1.50
$4.58 Double the surface area of the scoop ($2.29 Metal Scoop (retail Snow Shovel $25) - (4.10 wood dowel)=22.90/10=$2.29 ). (2.29x2)=$4.58
=$6.08 bulk material cost
$6.08 Labor (1x Bulk Materials)
$12.16 Total Manufacturing Cost

4. ShHoe (Snow Hoe)

$0.41 for 1.25" x 48" hardwood dowel (retail $4.10)/10=$.41 bulk material cost.
$3.50 for Toaster parts (retail $35)/10=$3.50 bulk material
=$3.91 Bulk Materials
+$3.91 Labor (1x Bulk Materials)
$7.82 Total Manufacturing Cost

5. Ice Breaker

$6.00 Bulk Materials (6kg is the weight of a single-speed bike) =($1x 6kg = $6)
$6.00 Labor (1x Bulk Materials)
$12.00 Total Manufacturing Cost

These prices all look pretty high for a Retail price that is 10x this manufacturing cost.

Week 5: Manipulating Ideas


Structured Ideation

SCAMPER Applied To Snow Shovels
A large amount of the extra travel time in winter is preparing to leave home. In this SCAMPER exercise, I looked at snow shovels.

Substitute the rigid plastic with a flexible plastic lead to fit under the snow.
Pull the shovel like an oxen plow, rather than pushing it.
Create a scoop like a scythe for swinging to clear snow rather than pushing.
Use the shovel as an industrial dust pan.
Gamify the shoveling process to make it fun.

Snow Scoop

Teflon coat the shovel blade.
Put electric heat coils in the blade.
Combine shovel with a rake to collect leaves in Fall.
Combine shovel a hand-pushed grass cutter to break up snow and mow environmentally consciously.


Snow Cutter

The scoop could create a roll of snow to use as snow fort building material.
It is like a spoon.
It is like a fork.
It is like a knife.
It is like an ice scraper.
It is like a dirt shovel.
Make the blade softer for use on porches and patios.
Make the blade with a brush underneath to scoop betweenn tiles.
It is like the scoop on a train engine.
It is like the toe of a boot.
It is like a garden trowel.
It could be used on the beach.
It could be used on construction sites.
It could be used during heavy rains.


Snow Log Maker

Make the scoop wider but shallower so it slides under ice and snow rather than moving it.
Make the scoop narrower to dig out small pathways.
Make the scoop smaller to fit under vehicles.
Instead of a handle, use a wide yoke-like cradle to fit against hips for pushing.


Full Weight Shovel

Make the blade flat but wider to just cut under snow and ice, rather than remove it.


Ice Cutter

Put To Other Use:
Use it to carry firewood.
Use it to carry coal.
Use it to carry sand.
Use it to lay cement.
Use it to pull up carpet.
Use it as a pry bar.
Use it to push boxes on the ground by lifting one edge and lowering surface area.
Use it to carry lasagna pans.
Use it to move pizza.
Use it to carry artillery shells.
Use it to carry water.


Firewood Carrier

Make the shovel a single piece of molded plastic.
Eliminate joiner bolts and nuts by using snap-fit parts.
Remove the staff of the shovel for an arm-distance scoop.


Remove Staff

Use the shovel to smooth out snow to create a freshly-fallen appearance.


Snow Smoother

Make the handle vertical instead of horizontal for a pistol-grip like interaction.


Vertical Handle

Table Based Idea Generation


TILMAG Matrix for a Snow Shovel

I used the matrix to search for existing products that fit the Ideal Solution Elements for an archetypical snow shovel. I continued to work with a snow shovel because snow removal is a major part of winter travel. Even pedestrians need to clear snow from their sidewalks and driveways to leave the house or provide access for postal workers and deliveries.

Ideal Solution Elements (ISE)
1. Pushes Something (Snow and Ice)
2. Lifts Something (Snow and Ice)
3. Cuts Something (Snow and Ice)
4. Person Movable (One person operates)

I began using the TILMAG Matrix by drawing the grid on an 8.5"x11" paper.

I used the same numbering as when I recorded the qualities of a shovel.

Thinking about those qualities, I mostly thought of construction and garage elements. There were some surprises, like the Pie Spoon/Server, though that is somewhat similar to a shovel. Similarly, the Pizza Cutter is something that is pushed that also cuts.

Pushes Something/Person Movable

Pushes Something/Cuts Something
Lawn Mower
Pizza Cutter

Pushes Something/Lifts Something
Garden Hoe

Lifts Something/Person Movable

Pie Spoon/Server

Lifts Something/Cuts Something
Crane (with teeth)
Disposable Razor (lifts hair and cuts)

Cuts Something/Person Movable
Hot Wire Saw

TILMAG Influenced Ideas


The Ice Breaker

The Ice Breaker combines a forklift with a wheelbarrow and a plow. The user pushes the blade under the snow and ice. A foot pedal lifts the blade, which collapses into a vertical knife-edge to break the crust from underneath.


The SnHoe

The SnHoe (Snow Hoe) combines the leverage of a traditional hand held hoe with a hot wire saw's heating element and q serrated knife blade for snow and ice breaking. It is used before the shoveling process to break up problem areas for easier removal.

10 Ideas That Could Be Products

Examining the ideas from previous weeks, I used the Novel, Useful, Feasible (NUF) test to see which could be made. Some, like the full-spectrum moon roof or RADAR/GPS communicating autos are good ideas, but beyond my capability to prototype.

Many of the ideas from this week are more practical. They often rely on simple mechanical forces with an adjustment to the shape or function of existing products.

Some ideas from last week's brainstorming are included below, with new pictures. They are called out in the descriptive text. The Carden is interesting. It seems there are winter-blossoming plants that might be able to survive the winters of Minnesota.


1. Carden (Car Garden)
This was one of the ideas from the Brainstorming activity that was redrawn for this week.


2. Singing Instruction Alarm Clock
This was one of the ideas from the Brainstorming activity that was redrawn for this week.


3. RFID Clothes
This was one of the ideas from the Brainstorming activity that was redrawn for this week.


4. Snow Scoop


5. Snow Cutter


6. Snow Log Maker


7. Vertical Handle


8. The SnHoe


9. The Ice Breaker


10. Full Weight Shovel

Week 4: Host a Brainstorming


Week 3: Understanding the Customer


Week 3: Understanding the Customer

Winter Travel

I began my task of exploring Winter Travel by considering different modes of transportation available in the Twin Cities. I conducted three interviews with individuals that used different modes of transportation. I photographed different varieties of bus stops and stations around the Twin Cities including the Metro Transit and Campus Connector. I also audited my own experiences commuting in winter by automobile and bus.

I. Ask: Observation Study

A. Interview 1: Louis, Winter Driver

My first interview was with Louis, a compact car driver. He commutes to work using a Honda Civic. He drives on a mixture of city streets and highways. He is about 30 years old.

He began by saying that driving was most dangerous during the first two weeks of snow. People drive too swiftly in snow storms, and are unaccustomed to the road conditions so they get into accidents. Things normalize after a few weeks, but overall the chances of accidents and delays are higher during the season and need to be considered.

Road conditions are concealed by the precipitation and ice, so potholes can be a surprise and cause vehicle damage.

Commuting in winter adds time to the travel. He said it takes about ten minutes to clean the car of ice and snow, and ten minutes to heat the vehicle. Usually he does both at the same time, starting the car and turing on the defroster and heater as he clears the ice.

Car maintenance is important. Louis checks his tire pressure when preparing for winter driving. The cold air lowers the pressure of the tires, which affects grip and milage.

He uses a combination ice scraper and brush from an auto-parts store. It has a knife-edge to get under the ice sheet that builds on windshields. He tries to lift his windshield wipers to be perpendicular to the windshield so that they do not freeze to the surface. He cautions that he doesn't do it when he thinks there is a chance someone will break them off during vandalism.

He carries ballast in the trunk of the car. He has used sacks of bird seed in the past.

Sometimes the car becomes stuck. He has tried a variety of methods for freeing the car. Louis tried pouring the bird seed under the tires, but it did not work. He has used flattened cardboard for traction, but sometimes that is thrown by the rotation of the tire. He has also tried digging the snow out from under the wheel.

Louis says that the streets look nicer when there is a clean blanket of snow.

Louis like driving because of the convenience and control. He says that as a child and teen he had to wait for rides and be at the convenience of others. He doesn't want to "mooch rides from friends or be stuck."

Other winter travel hazards he noted include:
--delayed flights.
-late buses.
-he repeated the likelihood of a stuck car.

If given the option, sometimes he would rather stay home than drive in the snow.

B: Interview 2: Jack, Winter Cyclist

The second interview was with Jack, a frequent cyclist, even in winter. Jack uses a variety of methods of commuting. He cycles, drives a car, and walks. With the right equipment, it is possible to ride in the winter. He cycles for errands, commuting, and for pleasure. He is about 40 years old.

His commute is 11---12 miles each way, twice per week.

If it is between 10 and 20 degrees (Fahrenheit) it is comfortable to bike. He says he does not mind the cold during winter. When biking during winter, he dresses as if he was going skiing or ice skating. He says he wears less clothing than people might think, because he builds heat during the exercise. He dresses in layers so he can adjust for the weather. He wears a beanie hat under his helmet, and sometimes a face mask for the snow. He wears regular gloves, though if it particularly cold he will wear two pairs of mittens. Hands and feet get colder than the rest of the body because of the distance from the core. He wears regular bike shoes most of the time, but sometimes he wears snow boots.

He likes cycling in winter because it is quieter than in other seasons. Fewer people are out.

He likes to ride in the morning when he is fresh.

He doesn't like to ride when it is brutally cold outside or when it is too windy. Similarly, Jack sometimes doesn't like to ride when he is going to a late afternoon class because when he leaves at night the conditions will be worse because of darkness and temperature drops. In these instances he sometimes drives a car.

Other instances when he doesn't bike are based on circumstances other than the weather. If he has family obligations and he will drive, sometimes with a passenger. If he will be staying somewhere late, or if he is physically tired he will drive. He needs to be aware of his body's messages because cycling unprepared can be dangerous.

There are some considerations for cycling in winter. Jack warns that riding in winter requires more energy. He says he needs to eat and drink more water. Cyclists need more calories or they can get into trouble. Similarly there is more preparation time as he dresses for the ride and then changes clothes when he arrives at work.

His bike has two panniers (saddlebags) for storage. One container stows his change of clothes and extra clothes for variable weather. The other contains his lock, personal belongings, work materials, and iPad.

Some bikes have special frames with wide tires for driving on snow and sand. There are also studded tires with metal or knobby rubber for these surfaces. These tires can be 4--5" wide and only have a low tire pressure of 8--9lb., compared to other bike tires that can be about a hundred lb.

Sometimes he uses the bike for errands. The panniers are large enough for some groceries. In these instances he carries an extra messenger bag or backpack. He makes a list before going so he knows he will have enough storage, and plans his route ahead of time.

Bike riding in winter gives Jack a sense of accomplishment. He feels the effort is worth it because it is harder than driving. He repeated that he enjoys the quiet when noise seems dampened by the snow.

For about 2/3 of his ride he travels through trails in Minneapolis. He enjoys being outdoors in the woods and the physical effort.

It can be challenging starting in the morning. During the first 10--15 minutes of the ride before his body has warmed up it is difficult. The exertion warms him and the rest of the trip is better.

If he needs to drive his car, he follows some of the same rules. He takes his time and plans ahead. He maintains it is important to not be in a hurry.

He warms up the car and cleans it off much like Louis described.

C: Interview 3: Ben, Winter Walker & Bus Taker

Ben is a cyclist, bus-taker, and a walker. Though he owns a car, he seldomly uses it. He prefers not to drive, even in winter. He is about 50 years old.

Ben keeps cycling as long as possible during the winter. The first major snowstorm is when he usually stops. He says he stops when the salt trucks start heavily working because his bikes (he owns four) are not equipped for the salt. If he had a bike with wider tires he might ride later in the season.

He will begin riding again when the salt trucks stop, even if there are remnants of snow and ice remaining.

He doesn't mind the cold.

When he has stopped riding for the season he commutes with a mixture of walking and bus riding. He walks about a mile to the bus stop and transits from there.

He enjoys the walks twice a day. During the walks he notes the weather. He can walk in any conditions. The effort makes him feel empowered.

When Ben has errands, he walks or bikes. He lives about ten minutes' walk from a co-op. He will ride his bikes, or walk when that is not possible. Occasionally he will use his car if it is dark, the weather is extremely inclement, or he has a purchase too big to carry otherwise.

He lives centrally in the cities, near bus routes and the light rail, so he doesn't need to drive. He is near the midtown greenway, the river, and campus. This was a key factor in where he chose to live. He thinks the Twin Cities couldn't be better for cycling.

Ben has always preferred to walk. He feels terrible, and disconnected from the world, when he is not walking. Even when working at home he will take breaks to walk.

He finds it empowering to go on a 20 minute bike ride or walk. He keeps a modicum of fitness this way and does not need to go to the gym. He doesn't use elevators when possible.

He likes to walk in wild places such as cliff tops, or by the sea. In the Twin Cities he walks on trails and near the river banks. These locations feed into his creative works.

He is grateful for the opportunity. He takes many small walks rather than infrequent long hikes, though he does those occasionally.

Ben feels the UMN Transitway is "super key." He likes the walk to the station, and enjoys the twenty minutes of reading he can get while riding the Campus Connector. He feels that public transportation can help a meditative state.

Walking in snow is wonderful, he says. He loves seeing the changes to the world and the feeling of the cold.

Ben thinks walking is a necessary human experience. It is inspiring, he says. Walking is a tried and tested aid to creativity and there is a link between walking and thinking in humans. He feels the mental stimulation can't be matched by a computer.

II. Observe: People in the Setting

A. Drivers
I see cars for at least a couple of hours each day. In observing for this blog post, I noted a lot of distracted driving. The worst spots were on I-35W between downtown Minneapolis and 62. There are frequent lane changes and a lot of overpasses and underpasses.

The easiest drive is Hiawatha Avenue (55). The road is very straight, with fair lines of sight. It is mostly industrial, with the exception of the Trail park, with clear traffic lights. Though, there has been a lot of residential housing built up last year.

Drivers tend to be single occupants in vehicles at the times I drive: during rush hour and late at night. Most people seem to be eating or drinking while driving. Some are talking, either on a phone or to themselves, I a cannot say.

B. Bus Takers

The experience of bus riders varies quite a bit.

By my house, the bus stop is simply a metal sign in the grass. There is no shelter or even pavement to stand on in winter.


The Apple Valley Metro Transit Station is new and modern. There is a skyway to cross Cedar Avenue. The station has a ticket booth outside and another somewhat hidden inside under the stairs to the skyway. The buses drive to the doors of the station so riders can embark from the station interior, even if bringing bicycles.


Technology is used to enhance the passenger experience. The station has a positive pressure heating system so when the doors open, cold air is kept out. There is a audio system for times with a braille sign for the visually impaired. Emergency phone stations are clearly marked. There is ample light.


The station has ample parking in a two-story lot. This will be handy during winter because if you parked on the ground or first floors your car will have less snow than if you parked on the roof or in a surface lot.


Some of the Metro Transit buses have space to carry the bikes in the bus, though most have racks on the front of the vehicle.


The University Avenue Metro Transit light rail station at University and Snelling is not yet in use. However, the station is fully constructed in anticipation of the 2014 opening. The stations are open, roofed structures with a wall on one side of the split-side platforms. It appears like it will be cold in the snow, with little shelter from the weather.


Across the street was an older bus shelter, about then feet long. It has a bench, room for a wheel chair, and a heater lamp. The wall of the shelter is adjacent to the street to protect waiting commuters from vehicle splashing.


St. Paul's University of Minnesota campus has similar bus shelters. This design is enclosed on three of four sides, with a partial wall on the fourth. It is better than the open shelter design for stopping the wind.

C. Walkers
There are many walkers in St. Paul. Frequently people seemed to be walking from stores or near bus stops.

The St. Paul UMN campus has many slopes that are difficult to walk in the winter because of ice. They are often cleaned and salted promptly, but sometimes the ice is treacherous. Students and other on campus were dressed lightly for November, but many had jackets or hats. Few wore actual winter coats.


III. My Experience

A. Driving

Mostly, I commute to class and work by automobile. I have a daily commute between an hour and two hours, though on bad winter days the round trip is sometimes two to two and a half hours long. In one terrible snowstorm it took four hours just to drive home because traffic was so slow.

I drive a Honda Fit, which is a superlative vehicle for my needs as an urban/suburban commuter. The only downside is that it has a really low ground clearance. I have been caught in snow troughs made by plows a couple of times while trying to enter parking lots. Additionally, I have been unable to leave my townhouse's parking lot when it was not plowed because of some high snowfalls.

This week we have not had much snow. With the light precipitation, I haven't had trouble driving. I think the important thing is to maintain both hands on the wheel and avoid too many distractions. Driving over bridges can be hazardous because of ice build-up, and a good grip can help steer off of black ice.

I carry a combination ice-scraper and snow brush in my vehicle all year long. I put it in the trunk in the summer. Usually it sits in the cavity between the door and the driver's seat. The brush has a bow-shape for extra leverage and I feel it works better than straight-staffed combos I have used in the past.

I frequently listen to NPR and books on CD from the county library systems. The books on tape are a way to get some fiction experience during the school year, though I tend to alternate between non-fiction and fiction so they don't become repetitive. Abridged books are titles I wouldn't otherwise read.

If I talk on the phone, it is through the speaker-phone on my iPhone. My car doesn't have a bluetooth enabled stereo for handsfree talking, but have seen them in use.

B. Busing

I use the Campus Connector to go between St. Paul and Minneapolis. Once on either campus, I usually walk, even if it is between the East and West banks. Partly, that has to do with how the bus routes intersect with where I am going. My main locations are McNeal Hall in St. Paul, Rapson Hall on the East Bank, and Wilson Library on the West Bank.

The Campus Connector is usually swift, and saves me the price of parking. Parking has been particularly expensive in the last year. Most of the lots that were free after hours have been upgraded with electronic parking payment stations that operate at all hours. Similarly, many of the $4 lots have switched to carpool-only until 9 a.m., so I cannot use them when I have a class during the first period.

I also first heard one of my favorite musicians while riding the connector: Jackie McLean. So, though most of the time rides are solitary affairs while people listen to MP3 players, sometimes there is cultural expansion.

C. Baby Car Seat

My wife and I will be having our first child in January. As part of the process of getting ready, we shopped for car seats. Health Partners hospitals will not release a child from the hospital if the pickup vehicle doesn't have a car seat.

Car seats are complicated devices. Fire Departments will install them for you if you make an appointment, because people do it wrong and it negates the point of the seat.

Some of the car seats have integrated carrying handles for lugging the baby around out of the car, but when out of the vehicle the child may not be sitting at the correct angle for an unobstructed airway. Some of them are made to snap into a base, so you can install a base in a vehicle and a second in a different vehicle. This also allows them to snap into strollers made to combine with the chair.

In a course on newborns we took at the Amma Parenting Center, we were told that car seats have a "fuzzy" expiration date of five years from manufacturing, attributed to advances in product design. They are rated for one car accident. After that they should be disposed of.

IV. Cell Use in Minnesota Vehicles

In Minnesota, we have a few state laws concerning cell use. It is illegal for bus drivers and drivers under the age of 18 with learner's permits to use cell phones. It is illegal for people operating a Commercial Vehicle to use hand-held cell phones. Texting is banned for all drivers.

According to the Star Tribune, in "Minnesota traffic deaths are on the rise for second consecutive year" by David Chanen (7/30/13) 395 people in Minneota died in traffic accidents in 2012. There were 368 in 2011. Car accident deaths have been on the rise in recent years, though they are far below the record year of 1060 deaths in 1968.

V. Problems and Opportunities for Improvement

A. Quality of Experience

One problem I've found is a noticeable difference in the quality of perceived experience between the walker and cyclist versus the car driver. The former spoke of fulfillment and empowerment while the later was discouraged and unhappy driving.

B. Time Efficiency

The second problem is one of time management. In all three cases the interviewees spoke of the added time requirements needed when preparing for and executing winter travel.



Winter Concept Map and 10 Silly Ideas

Warm Up
I began by watching some episodes of Season 8 of How I Met Your Mother on Netflix streaming. It is the only sitcom I've watched in years. I started watching on DVD, and I think it was because of the press and Neil Patrick Harris. I don't normally like the sitcom format, but HIMYM has a lot of qualities like dramas that seem to work. I enjoy the metaplots for each season, the interaction of the characters, and the call backs that reward longtime continuity watching. Also, I am in the right age bracket, from Cleveland, like the main character, and live in the Twin Cities, not far from the home town of one of the supporting characters. These attributes contribute surprisingly often.

Concept Map


My concept map began with Winter and expanded, in no particular order, to include:
School Dances
Winter Olympics

Smaller fingers expanded out from these secondary categories.

The Three Sub-Themes that emerged include:
Snow Games
Transportation Concerns
Themed Food

10 Silly Ideas
The Silly Concepts included:

Car Flamethrower snow clearer


Electric Blanket Long Underwear


Hot Chocolate Thermos Vest


Dog's Sled


Minnesota Dog Carrier


Luminous Dye Figure Skates


Snow Tent Bike Saddlebags


sNote Blower




Snow-Scoop Launcher


Many of these ideas are concerned with my own winter experiences, upon review. They are aimed at getting by in the winter snows, easing commutes, and keeping warm. I have a couple little dogs that have trouble in the snow. A few ideas are related to winter play activities like skating and snowball fights.



Creativity Assignment 1: Create a New Cookie

I have never made cookies before, so this project was a bit daunting.

I began by making a list of cookies I like, starting with my favorites and working down to those I do not like. I love the basic cookies.

Favorites and others I like:
1. Chocolate Chip
2. Oatmeal Raisin
3. Peanut Butter
Mixes of the three previous types
Sugar, frosted
Thin Mints
Peanut Butter with chocolate

Cookies I do not eat:
Pizzelles (Italian cookies)
Horns (apricot, raspberry, nut) These are a family recipe that are popular at gatherings, but I never liked them.
Rum cookies (or anything with rum)
Biscotti (I don't drink coffee, either!)

Looking at the list, I found that cookies were:
1. The dominant flavor (gingerbread, sugar, butter).
2. The medium for another flavor (chocolate chip, raisin).
3. Shaped like something else, but not necessarily flavored like it (glazed sugar, frosted sugar, pizzelles).

Then, there were things like cookies:
Cupcakes (toppings, filled)
Rice Krispie Treats (marshmallow, rice cereal, M&Ms)
Granola Bars (granola, nuts, peanut butter, chocolate, fruit)
Brownies (fudge, peanut butter, caramel)
Pies (cheesecake, fruit, cream, chocolate)
Pancakes (maple syrup, butter, fruit, chocolate)


Martha Stewart
Martha Stewart had dozens of cookie recipes. Many of them included chocolate. I wanted to avoid any she had posted as a recipe.

Similarity and Contrast
I really like chocolate covered pretzels. (If you are in Cleveland, the Malley's Chocolate company makes terrific chocolate covered pretzels.) I think the mix of salty and sweet is fantastic, and perhaps a pairing of opposites would work for the cookie recipe.

I started listing things that were opposites of sweet, the dominant flavor for what I consider cookies, and moved on from there:
Potato Chips
Tortilla Chips
Sesame Chicken
Chili Peppers
Candy Corn
Nerds and Runts candies
French Toast

Peppers seemed like a promising ingredient. They are a strong flavor, and have a different sensation that a sweet cookie, but might work well as an accent flavor.

I considered Grant Achatz's video on Flavor Bouncing. I wasn't sure what would go with peppers, but thought a fruit would be good.

Looks like...
Peppers are red, and strawberries are red, so I could make a cookie that looked like a pepper or a strawberry, fulfilling #3 on my "Cookies Are..." list above. Peppers and watermelon might work, too, but I much prefer strawberries, and want to make a cookie I would want to eat.

I wasn't sure if the peppers would work, either, so I made a list of other green foods that I could pick up at the grocery store.


Green Foods:
Green Apples
Basil leaves
Mint leaves

I bought lemons to be the seeds of the strawberry. I found out that the rind is used to make "zest of lemon."

First Try

I began with the 3-2-1 Cookie Dough recipe from Michael Ruhlman. The dough was too crumbly, and did not shape well. When I tried to shape it, the dough fell apart. The baked cookies were dense, and brittle. But, they tasted good and simple.

I added the strawberries, and a garnish of four different flavors:
Granny Smith Apple
Green Pepper

The basil had a subtle flavor. When biting into the cookie, it was hard to detect, but had a pleasant after-flavor.

The Granny Smith apple flavor was lost until after eating. Overall it was not as interesting as the basil. The sweet was too similar to the strawberry.

The spearmint was much too strong for me! I think some might like it, but I found it hard to finish the cookie.

The green pepper was fresh-tasting. It was very similar to the basil, but had a firmer texture and bright flavor while eating it.

Second Try
In the next batch, I tried to solve the crumbling trait of the copies. I added twice the butter. This made for a softer, much stickier dough that was easy to shape. After baking, they had the same texture as the first group.

Third Try
In the third batch, I added chocolate for a half recipe. I used 1 1/2oz. of semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted, and worked into the dough with the flour.

This produced a pretty good chocolate cookie.

The basil was still good, though the taste was less pronounced because of the chocolate.

The Granny Smith apple tasted better with the chocolate cookies than with the plain.

The spearmint was still too strong.

The pepper's taste was amplified with the chocolate. Perhaps it was the contrast, but I thought it was no good.

Overall, I think the Strawberry and Basil cookies were the best, both with and without chocolate. The final recipe is below. If you want plain cookies, leave the chocolate out, but the rest of the recipe is the same.

However, I'll also be bringing the regular shortbread with mint variety to class. Diane, my wife tried them, and thought that that was the better cookie. She liked the strong flavor combination, but she has a more adventurous palette than I do.


Runner Up Recipe
Strawberry and Mint on Shortbread

(Makes about 13 cookies)

4 1/2 Tablespoons Sugar
8 oz. Salted Butter
1 cup Flour
1/2 lb. Strawberries
Add 1 Tablespoon Sugar for Strawberries
A dozen or so Whole Mint Leaves
1 Lemon

The base cookie is an altered version of Michael Ruhlman's 3-2-1 Cookie recipe.

Mix 4 1/2 tablespoons sugar with 8 oz. salted butter. This is double the butter in the original recipe.

Add 1 cup of flour.

Roll into balls and put on a cookie sheet.

Flatten the cookie dough balls and mold into strawberry shapes. Raise the sides to act as a bowl for the strawberries.

Bake at 350°for 20 minutes.

While the dough is baking, prepare the strawberries and herbs.

Dice 1/2 lb. of strawberries. Add 1 tablespoon of sugar to the strawberries.

Cut 1/2 of a basil leaf for each cookie.

Shave the yellow rind of a lemon with a coarse grater.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes.

Scoop strawberries into each cookie.

Add half a basil leaf to each cookie as if it were the stem of a strawberry.

Sprinkle on a pinch of the zest of lemon.

Final Recipe

Strawberry and Basil on Chocolate Shortbread

(Makes about 13 cookies)

4 1/2 Tablespoons Sugar
8 oz. Salted Butter
1 cup Flour
3 oz. Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1/2 lb. Strawberries
Add 1 Tablespoon Sugar for Strawberries
A handful of Whole Basil Leaves
1 Lemon

The base cookie is an altered version of Michael Ruhlman's 3-2-1 Cookie recipe.

Mix 4 1/2 tablespoons sugar with 8 oz. salted butter. This is double the butter in the original recipe.

Melt 3 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips. Melt until soft, but don't burn them.

Mix in the chocolate chips.

Add 1 cup of flour.

Roll into balls and put on a cookie sheet.

Flatten the cookie dough balls and mold into strawberry shapes. Raise the sides to act as a bowl for the strawberries.

Bake at 350°for 20 minutes.

While the dough is baking, prepare the strawberries and herbs.

Dice 1/2 lb. of strawberries. Add 1 tablespoon of sugar to the strawberries.

Cut 1/2 of a basil leaf for each cookie.

Shave the yellow rind of a lemon with a coarse grater.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes.

Scoop strawberries into each cookie.

Add half a basil leaf to each cookie as if it were the stem of a strawberry.

Sprinkle on a pinch of the zest of lemon.


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