BumperBars!

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After an exhaustive process, I've narrowed down my product selection to the one I feel is the most novel, feasible, and marketable. It's not one that I originally did a sketch model for and it's not my favorite, but after interviewing some people who would actually use it, I'm convinced that a product that will protect glasses from getting broken while washing has the best market potential.

Every bartender I talked to said that breaking glasses is the biggest problem they encounter in the glass washing process, even over lipstick removal and having clean glasses on hand. If a bartender breaks a glass they have to empty their sink, clean it out, and then refill it. All of this takes time away from serving drinks to customers and causes dirty glasses to back up on the dish drainer. There's also a good chance that a bartender will be injured by the broken glass, and those cuts take awhile to heal when hands are constantly in water. I heard this from the bartenders I talked to during the initial research, but it was hearing it again when I asked bartenders about my ten product ideas that convinced me that this was the product to focus on. It's ironic, because of all the ideas I developed, it seems to be the simplest, and I'm surprised there isn't a product already out there to fill this need.

I've decided to call it BumperBars. It's basically a foam strip with an attached foam pad that can be put over the sink saddles, or walls, between the series of sinks used for washing glasses. A companion product is a foam tube that slides over the sink faucet. The foam padding prevents glasses from breaking while they are being moved from sink to sink during the washing process. At the end of a shift the BumperBars can be sanitized in the sanitizer sink and hung to dry, ready to be used again the next day. The materials needed to make these would be very inexpensive, judging by how much a similar product costs (pipe insulation at about $1/foot). From my research I found out tat bartenders would be willing to pay anywhere from about $5 to $25 for a set.

I didn't do any doodles of this product but I do have a sketch model:

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I also did a Pugh Chart to compare this idea against the nine others I had:

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And here's a rather painful attempt at a 30 second (OK - 38 second) pitch to sell the idea to bar owners. I should have recruited some talent for this, but the message is there:

Just a note on this process - it was somewhat humbling to actually pitch these ideas to the folks who could potentially use them. I was very excited about the "six-pack" tray glass washer and also the cat-tongue bristles, but when it came down to it, the simplest idea seemed to be the winner.

In order to narrow my ideas down, I went back to my preliminary research and interviews with bartenders to see what the most prominent needs seemed to be in the glass-washing process:

Glass breakage
Glassware availability
Lipstick removal

I used these criteria to choose ten ideas to take to the next step:

1. faucet/sink cover or padding: most glasses are broken when the bartender is washing them and accidentally bangs them against the faucet or sides of the sink. A simple foam or plastic mesh tube for the faucet and a mat that could straddle the sides of the sinks could minimize this issue.
2. edible glasses: could be used as a novelty item and also to reduce glass usage and washing
3. name-tag glasses: glasses could be re-used and cut down on need to wash
4. "six-pack" glass washer tray: wash several glasses at once
5. "cat-tongue" bristles: could aid in lipstick removal
6. water-jet "bristles: could aid in lipstick removal
7. ScotchBrite scrubbers: didn't see an existing ScotchBrite product to fill this specific glass-washing need
8. citrus-based cleaner (or cloth) to remove lipstick
9. over-suds avoider: provide uniform dispensing of soap product by incorporating a premeasure device in cap of soap container
10. graywater system: save on water usage and water bill

Sketch models

I picked three ideas to prototype at Leonardo's Basement: the six-pack glass washer, the nametag glass, and the cat-tongue brush.

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The six-pack glass washer is intended to be part of a whole system that would streamline the glass washing process in a busy bar. The sketch model shows a tray with six holes cut out and neoprene grippers intended to grab the glasses and hang onto them through the three steps of scrubbing with brushes in the wash sink, dunking in the rinse sink, and a final dunk in the sterilizer sink. It's intended that there would be a rack on the dirty glass end to put the glasses in formation for easy pick-up by the six-pack tray and also a rack at the end that would grab the glasses from the tray to unload them onto a drying surface. The brush set-up in the wash sink would conform to the six-pack configuration to fit the glasses as they were pushed down on top of the spinning brushes. There would need to be a whole system set-up to make this work, but the intention is to be able to wash more than one or two glasses at a time without needing to invest in a glass washing machine. Most of the bartenders I talked to preferred to be able to wash glasses by hand and be able to have as many glasses available at any one time. The added feature on this device is that the long handles can keep the bartenders hands out of the water and prevent chapping or skin irritation.

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The nametag glass is intended to save on glass washing by providing a glass for each customer that gets re-used over the time he or she is at the bar. It would have a frosted surface that could be written on and then washed off after the customer is done with it. The nametag could also instigate some socializing at the bar among patrons.

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The "cat-tongue" brush was inspired by the structure of the hook-shaped "bristles" on a cat's tongue. The idea here is that the extra friction of a flexible hook-like bristle structure made out of a silicone-like material could be more effective in scrubbing grease--lipstick in particular--and debri from the glass. This brush would replace the nylon brushes that are now used in the typical three or five-brush set-up that scrubs the inside and outside of the glass at the same time. Part of the idea is to also have a replaceable mesh cover on the bristles to help with washing the glass surface. The bristles would be mounted on a soft cylinder that would prevent glass breakage.

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Benchmarking

I approached the benchmarking step by doing a Google image search for similar products for each of the ten ideas and created 2x2s for ideas where several similar products existed. In some cases I'm combining some ideas, like brushes, into one 2x2. When they were available, I also put prices on products for reference.

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For other ideas there were few, if any, products to compare with. These included the graywater system, the six-pack tray, faucet and sink padding, and the over-suds avoider.

Saniflo, a manufacturer of graywater systems, has a commercial product available for $2800 that could work for a bar that can handle a set-up with several toilets. Another product by Brac Systems claims 35-40% savings on water bills, although it is designed for homes, not businesses. The market seems open for more innovation here that is tailored to the needs of the small bar owner, especially for systems that can be retrofitted into existing buildings.

I didn't find any products to compare with the six-pack glass washing tray idea. This is intended to be a kind of hybrid between a mechanical dishwasher and a manual process that could provide the best of both worlds.

I also didn't see any products designed to be used to pad a bar sink or faucet, although I found several products designed to prevent injuries to kids in home bathtubs. This surprised me, since it seems like a very simple fix. For the faucet all that would be needed is a rubber, foam, or plastic mesh tube that could even be sold in bulk and be cut to fit. The mats would be simple to create, too, since most bar sinks are uniform in size and design. Or the mats could be more like bumpers that attach to the tops of the sink walls and provide a soft buffer as glasses are passed quickly from sink to sink.

As for the over-suds avoider, there are patented designs for jug caps that incorporate the premeasuring function into them. I have seen them used on mouthwash, for instance. But my research into jugs of glass washing soap didn't reveal the use of these devices in restaurants. I did see premeasured packets of soap, but those create more packaging, which could be avoided with a simple premeasure cap.

Patents

In a quick search, I found patents for only two items -- Ecolab has several patents on their glass washing detergents, which are supposed to remove lipstick. And, as I mentioned above, there is already a patent on a premeasuring cap device. I didn't search for ScotchBrite products, which I assume have lots of patents, but I'm proposing a new use for that material.

Feasibility

I interviewed three bartenders and a bar owner to get an idea of which of these ideas would be useful in their establishments and how much they would be willing to pay. That was a very interesting process that actually led me to change some ideas I had on my original list (the UV sterilizer dryer and personalized stir-sticks bit the dust pretty fast).

There was a general consensus that water-jet bristles wouldn't be practical and would waste water, although the cat-tongue bristles or the ScotchBrite options were of interest. Edible glasses were intriguing for the novelty factor, especially as shot glasses that could complement the liquor. Nametag glasses got a mixed result, with some liking the idea and some being concerned about health department rules. The citrus-based cleaner was of interest to most, with one bartender taking it a step further and suggesting a special cloth with the cleaner in it to remove lipstick, instead of using a bar-towel or napkin as is done now. Most liked the idea of a graywater system, but would be reluctant to incorporate one because of cost. The premeasured cap got a neutral response with comments about already existing pumps that are used for the same purpose. Everyone liked the faucet cover and sink padding idea, especially because it could be done inexpensively. Unfortunately, the six-pack glass-washing tray was universally panned. Everyone was skeptical about whether it would actually save time, saying it would probably take up too much space and add too much complexity to a simple process -- kind of an "if it ain't broke..." response. Below are the items that passed at least some muster with costs attached (there are more than one cost listed if there were different responses):

  • New bristle designs that remove lipstick (cat-tongue or ScotchBrite): $30-35 for five (or about what it costs for existing nylon brushes); $6-12 each
  • Edible glasses: 50-75 cents each; $10 for 3 dozen
  • Nametag glasses: $1-1.50 each
  • Faucet cover / sink padding: 100 ft. @ $20, cut to fit; $1.00 each; $25 set
  • Citrus cleaner cloth: $1.00 each; $3.00/box of 20
  • Graywater system: $2000-2250 (if start-up)

Narrowing it down even further

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Having misunderstood the instructions for part of the assignment, I am writing this new entry with the full SCAMPER effect. I've chosen the nametag glass for these variations. The idea behind the nametag glass is to save water, effort, and time by having customers re-use their glasses for their drinks instead of providing a clean glass for each of their drinks. The original idea was simply a nametag attached to the glass - how wasn't specified, but it could be paper or maybe a static cling.

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Substitute: Use an etched surface in the nametag area instead of sticking something on the glass. The surface could be written on and erased over and over.

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Combine: Add a social twist with the iconic nametag design "HELLO! My name is" and encourage bar patrons to get to know each other.

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Adapt: The whole glass could become a space for doodling and a nametag to make it special.

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Modify: Instead of putting a tag on the glass, use a stir stick with a space for the customer's name.

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Put to other use: Idea could also be used in coffee shops for mugs, at conferences instead of paper cups (keep your glass/mug), or at parties.

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Eliminate: Customers just bring their own glasses from home and takes them back with them, like travel mugs.

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Rearrange: Instead of putting names on glasses, have a wide variety of glasses that are unique enough that each customer has a different design and can keep track of them that way.

Narrowing it down

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I chose three ideas from my brainstorming session to look at through the SCAMPER lens - the nametag idea from Brian, multiple arms from Ben, and recycling glassware onsite from Zach.


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Asking "What could be combined?", I looked at Brian's idea of having a nametag on each glass to re-use customer's glasses and decided to take it a step further and use it as a way to meet new people in the bar by using the iconic nametag design, "Hello my name is" design. Instead of using a paper nametag that could either fall off or be hard to remove for washing, I'd suggest etching the surface of the glass so that it's rough and can be written on and then wiped off and re-written on.

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Thumbnail image for multiplearms.jpgAsking "How can this be modified?" or "Can this be rearranged?" gave me the idea to develop a tray that could hold multiple glasses upside down (instead of using multiple arms). The tray could be sort of like a beer can six-pack holder, where glasses would be popped in and held securely while being dunked into the wash sink. The brush set-up would need to be modified to accommodate more glasses. One bartender could then wash several glasses at once instead of one at a time.

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Thumbnail image for recycleonsite.jpgAsking "What could be substituted or used instead?" I looked at Zach's idea of recycling glassware onsite and thought it might be more feasible to consider doing that with paper cups instead of glass. If it's possible to buy an affordable 3-D printer, I'm thinking developing an affordable solution to remanufacture paper products onsite could be a possibility.

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Biomimicry

While pondering the brush set-up for washing glasses in bar-sinks and the dilemma of trying to get lipstick off of a glass, my cat meowed to go outside. I started thinking about cat tongues and how rough they are, with a surface of tiny hook-like things that can be used to both groom themselves and to convey water up to their mouths.

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Thumbnail image for CatTongueBrush.jpgI wondered if cat tongue technology could be transferred to the washing process. There could be a set of spinning spongy "brushes" that had a surface of rubbery points instead of bristles. Maybe these points would remove more grease and lipstick than the soft brushes that are used now. The points could protrude from a fabric mesh or a sponge that could be changed when it gets too grungy. The mesh may also serve to hold the points in place. If the whole set-up were made of plastic and rubber (or rubbery plastic) it could be soft enough to reduce glass breakage. Another aspect of this process is what kind of cleaner to use. The bartenders at Harborview use lime juice to clean off the lipstick on glass rims. A citrus-based cleaner might be more effective than harsh chemical-based detergents to get glasses clean.

Six brains a'storming

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I assembled six people of various occupations for my brainstorming session about bar sinks: Ben, a photo journalist; Zach, a creative director; Jess, a cellist; Brian, a college media services director; Hannah, a preschool teacher/vocalist; and Cait, a freelance photographer. None of them had a recent job in a bar or restaurant. I acted as facilitator and didn't participate directly in the brainstorming except to egg them all on and coordinate the process.

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To begin I showed a video of the glass washing process at the Harborview Cafe from my last blog entry, since no one was familiar with the process. I also explained a few of the issues that the bartenders had told me about in my interviews -- keeping enough glassware available, breaking glasses, lipstick -- to provide a bit more context. Then we warmed up with a few rounds of zip, zap, zop and word ball.

We did three rounds of brainstorming by drawing and captioning pictures. Each participant had his or her own color of crayon. The first round used only the background info as a prompt. The second round of ideas was prompted by conjuring up super hero powers. The third prompt was done as a round robin of drawing, using three spaces on each page, drawing for three minutes in a space then switching with the next person to respond to the preceding drawing and drawing a picture in the next space below it. Sweet treats were available throughout the exercise.

The participants really enjoyed the process, especially the super heroes segment, and came up with 50 ideas in about 40 minutes. I taped each idea up as they were "pitched" by the participants. When everyone felt we were done, we sorted the ideas into three categories: entertaining, ecological, technological. Then I gave each participant five colored dots to vote for their favorite ideas.

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I selected twenty or so ideas (below) to present for further consideration. Some may be more immediately practical than others.Here are some that tackle the behind the bar space issue:

Zach: make the wash area smaller by using UV light to sanitize and dry.
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Hannah's (in green) is more conceptual, while Ben's (purple) is more mechanically detailed about building a vertical wash set-up.

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Some people got into the entertainment possibilities:

Zach: let customers watch the process.
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Jess: use funny hats instead of glasses.
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Or the ecological aspects:

Brian: reuse the water from washing glasses in the bathrooms.
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Zach: recycle the glass into new glasses on site.
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Jess: use edible glass materials.
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Brian: put nametags on the glasses so they can be re-used.
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Or do without glasses altogether:

Cait: central tubing hooked up to drink source. Others had variations on this with straws connected to kegs and/or wine barrels.
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Brian's straws to kegs variation.
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There were some novel uses of materials or processes:

Hannah: employ oxygen bubbles to scrub the glasses as they are used (I think).
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Brian (top), Cait (middle), Jess (bottom): from practical to silly, complete with waterfall.
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Jess: water "bristles".
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Cait: particle blower that cleans.
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DIY:

Hannah: bring your own and/or wash your own glass.
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And there were wonderful super powers:

Zach: Captain Brillo.
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Ben: Multiple arms.
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Brian: super sonic glass washer.
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Zach: Captain Boozie.
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Crowdsourcing good ideas

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I subscribe to a e-mail newsletter put out by Frog Design, a firm similar to IDEO and Jump, and was intrigued by this use of their social network, http://frogmob.frogdesign.com/mob/food-trucks. They ask subscribers/followers to go out and do research for them and post it on their FrogMob site. IDEO has a similar crowd-sourcing site called OpenIDEO at http://www.openideo.com/ that's intended for humanitarian causes. Crowdsourcing is an intriguing way to get a (somewhat) diverse group of people together to contribute to an idea pool.

Bar (sink) Hopping

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For this assignment I decided to observe how glassware is washed in bars and restaurants. I chose this area of sinkdom because I knew I'd be spending some time in these venues this weekend -- my niece got married on Saturday and family was in from out of town. My brother, Bob, is also a bartender and knows a lot about the topic so he was a great person to interview first.

Background research

First, I did some preliminary research on the web to get some background on standard techniques and equipment. I learned that their are basically two methods for washing glassware in a bar: by hand in a series of three or four sinks, with the help of a brush set-up, or using some type of glass washing machine, like a dishwasher. Some brands used are Bar Maid for the rotating brush set-up (usually electric) for manual glass washing and Glastender for a machine set-up. The type of soap and sanitizer seems fairly uniform -- Ecolab's Super Trump soap and Microclean sanitizer -- at least at the bars I visited.

For hand-washing the sink sequence is dump sink (to get rid of ice and debris in glasses), wash, rinse, and sanitize. A machine can be either a small traditional dishwasher or a rotating rack that circles the glasses through a wash, rinse, and sanitize cycle. Either method has its pros and cons. Basically, the hand wash method is inexpensive and provides more flexibility for having glasses available when you need them, but the water needs to be changed frequently and is hard on the bartenders' hands. A machine can free up the bartender to interact with customers and uses less water, but is expensive to purchase and maintain and can be a real problem if it breaks down. Glasses aren't always as available when needed either, since bartenders need to wait for the cycle to finish. From "Bartending 101: How do bartenders wash glasses?" Kristine G. Bottone, www.examiner.com

Bartender observation and interviews

Bob Parker, bartender, bar and restaurant manager, currently working on opening a new bar/restaurant on St. Paul's east side

Bob prefers the four-sink hand washing method -- dump, wash, rinse, sanitize -- with a Barmaid brand electric five-brush set-up in the wash sink. Washing one glass at a time gets the glasses much cleaner, but many bartenders cut corners and wash two or more at a time using the outer brushes instead of just the center brush. The center brush works to clean both the inside and the outside at the same time, but using only an outside brush only cleans one area of the outside of the glass.

The base of the electric brush machine is metal so glasses sometimes break when pushed down too far. According to Bob, there are usually broken glasses in every shift. It's important to clean as you go and not let glasses pile up -- build the washing process into the routine -- so bartenders spend a lot of time with their hands in dishwater.

Glass washing machines are also available. They are expensive and take up bar space. They also use chemicals (Super Trump and Microclean by EcoLab) that can be corrosive if used at high concentrations and lead to "bar rot" on hands from reaching into washer and loading and retrieving glasses.

Bob prefers hand washing to a machine because you can wash just what you need and not have to wait for glasses to go through the cycle.

Jules Johnson, Ecolab employee

Ecolab manufactures and leases both the dishwasher and the chemicals used in many bars for washing glassware. They have a machine with a special cycle just for lipstick removal -- customer never touches the chemicals in the process. Seems that many bars use this service and/or their products.

Anchor Inn, northeast Minneapolis

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The bartender here cheerfully demonstrated the process of washing glasses in a four-sink system and likes that method because she's able to get the glasses she needs when she needs them. It's also affordable for a small restaurant. At one point during her demo she expressed alarm at thinking she felt broken glass in sink.

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Bob commented that drink stir sticks and straws shouldn't be in dump sink because they can clog it.


Jax Café, northeast Minneapolis

This restaurant/bar uses Glastender, the "Cadillac of dish washing machines". Glasses are put on a wire turntable and sprayed with water, then sanitizer, going in dirty then revolving through wash process until they come around clean. The dishwasher is big enough that a blender jar fits. It has a curtain made of plastic strips to keep spray contained, but doesn't really work, so many bartenders take them off or they fall apart after awhile.

The bartender likes his system and says bar rot is not a problem. He uses a smaller concentration of chemicals than what was used when the machines first came out. According to Bob, the machines ship with EcoLab chemicals and the amounts that used to be recommended by them were very high so that bars would have to buy more product since they ran out more often. The higher concentration of chemicals was hard on bartenders' hands. Now the amounts are regulated by the health department and are lower.

Harborview Cafe, Pepin, WI

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The bartenders here use the hand-washing method with four sinks -- dump, wash, rinse, sanitizer -- and use a five brush electric Barmaid brand glass scrubber, like the Anchor Inn.

Their biggest complaint is lipstick on glasses -- has to be taken off by hand and each glass needs to be checked before being used; they use limes to take it off by rubbing it on the lipsticked rim. "Won't Kiss Off" brand by Revlon is the worst. Glasses do tend to pile up on busy nights but hand washing works best for their volume. Both bartenders agreed that an automatic dishwasher would be inefficient, waiting for dish cycles to complete in order to retrieve the glasses needed. Stem glasses break the most (really hurts when you have to squeeze a lime). Faucet tends to get in the way and can cause accidental glass breakage -- bartenders need to remember to swing them out of the way after filling the sink. Sink plugs also tend to get lost and then they crumple up a wad of cellophane to plug sink ("me, too!" said Bob). Hot water makes glasses less spotty. Hands get dry and cracked, even peel, from soap used and constant contact with water.

My own experience

Harborview let me get behind the bar and wash some glasses.

Me washing glasses from Nance Longley on Vimeo.

The water was very soapy in the first sink, which meant I had to work more to rinse. Brushes were softer than I expected. Rinsing required dipping and turning glass quite a bit to get most of the soap off, then a last dunk in the sanitizer sink and set on drainboard. On a busy night I could certainly see where it would be easy to break glasses -- there are many hard surfaces and obstacles and the process often happens under a counter where you may not be able to keep an eye on what you're doing. Having to slow down to check each glass for lipstick is very inconvenient. Bartenders at Harborview were excited about prospect of solving that problem.

Conclusion and observation of needs

Having a high-end efficient automatic dishwasher, like the one I observed at Jax Café, works in some bars that can afford it and that may have enough inventory of glassware so that they don't run out when it gets too busy. Smaller bars and restaurants have been fine with the hand washing four-sink method, preferring to have immediate access to whatever glassware they may need at any time. Having reviewed the videos I noticed differences between the processes that the Anchor Inn and the Harborview use, even though they both use the hand wash method. There were much less suds in the Anchor Inn wash sink than at the Harborview. Each place also set up their sinks in opposite directions, with Anchor Inn going right to left and Harborview left to right. The flow of glassware went toward the "business end" of each bar, either toward the beer taps (Anchor Inn) or the center (Harborview) where most customers sat. The glass washing machine at Jax was situated a bit off center at the bar, but close to the waiters' station.

  • Both systems seem to take a toll on bartenders' skin.
  • Glasses, especially stemware, are always vulnerable to breakage and bartenders risk being cut on a regular basis.
  • It's hard to clean lipstick off of glassware without doing it by hand or using special chemicals.
  • Dump sink can get clogged with debris.
  • Sink plug gets lost and bartenders need to improvise to keep water from draining.
  • Rinse water gets overly soapy and needs to constantly refilled or refreshed.



Idea wallet

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A wearable vacuum cleaner

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Reminders to turn off lights on switchplates (could be a lot more attractive)

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A flower basket made out of fencing material

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A card to put on your drink so it doesn't get cleared by the waiter

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Plastic-coated glasses

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I've also just started a couple of Pinterest boards here and here

Bug List

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Can't log-in to blog from the blog site w/o going back to U-Think

Can't read labels on shampoo and conditioner bottles in shower w/o glasses

Can't read text below buttons and knobs on electronic equipment (like stereos), especially when it's on a low shelf or in a dark room, because it's tiny and gray against black

Overly complicated remotes

Multiple remotes

Cash card - I want to know my bank balance STAT and not have to carry a check register or do any math

Anything to do with filing

Lots of docs and files on my desktop

Accidentally dialing the phone when I'm listening to voicemail because the "talk" button is right where my chin rests

The super-crowded 12:15 campus shuttle

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Wireless mouse and keyboard that doesn't shut off when the computer shuts off and wears down the battery

Space junk

Ice in a glass that hits you in the face when you take a drink

"Toe opener" bathroom door opener that caused the door to hit me in the back because it's awkward

Energy saving lightbulbs filled with mercury so they're not safe to throw away

Biting your cheek

Electronic things that get lost and you can't find them

Baby car seat bases that don't fit all cars so it's hard to move them from car to car

Driving in the car and getting that vibration effect when you open only a back window

Yogurt cups made out of plastic - why not paper that will compost?

Gas tanks on cars are in different places

Two-year cell phone contracts

Can't choose only the channels you want for cable

Needing different charger and download cords for phones and cameras

Charging cords that need to be unplugged

Not enough space between edge and touch screen on iPad so you accidently activate it when holding it

Bicycles can't trigger a stoplight so you have to wait a long time

Doors that don't give you a visual clue about which side you should push to open

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No keyboard on Nook to input passwords

Interface for camera feature on iPad is awkwardly placed so you get unintended results

Can't move cursor easily when editing text on phones and iPad

No smartphone pockets on men's dress clothes even though there are still watch pockets

Different chargers for camera batteries

Quartz headlights on cars are too bright when you pass them in the night

Bright headlights in the rearview mirror that you can't get out of view while driving at night


Sinks and things

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We're in between sinks right now. We just put in new cabinets and are waiting for the new counters to be ready before we can put in our new Domsjö IKEA sink, so sinks and the lack of them are in my brain. We went without for a while until we found out we could have our old sink re-installed for the time being. That has saved us from having to do dishes in the bathtub, so I guess it was worth it. Right now I can hear my husband Brian do the dishes, as he does every night, while listening to jazz. He skipped the jazz when he had to do the dishes in the bathtub.

A functional sink is definitely a life enhancer.

Random thoughts I had regarding sinks/basins over the last few days included the multiple roles they play in a household as places to wash not only dishes, but babies, hair, fruits and vegetables, feet and other body parts, tools, paint brushes, fish and meat, hands -- but not necessarily all in the same sink. The health department has strict rules about that. I also thought of expressions using "sink" and "basin", like "that sinking feeling", "sink or swim", "everything but the kitchen sink", and "tidal basin", and related expressions like "down the drain" and "countersink".

Today, before beginning my mind map I cast about the web for funny shows to watch. I started out with a few Colbert Report episodes, including one with Tim Pawlenty lamenting that he didn't "blow sparks out of his butt" to better his chances in Iowa. I also found something called "Groundlings" on Hulu that seem to be short comedy sketches, but they were pretty inconsistent. I tried some "Black Adder" bits on You Tube, but nothing was quite as funny as I remembered it. Finally, I settled on "Flight of the Conchords" -- there's something about Bret and Jemaine's sort of clueless and oblivious approach to their lives that always makes me laugh. Not sure whether it counts, but I also got some good belly laughs last night at my niece's bachelorette party listening to her and my daughters talk about silly exploits they had together as kids and teenagers. Those are the best laughs!

I tried crossing products to get started, asking a friend for three objects. World, Chairy (as in Pee Wee's Playhouse), and yarn were suggested. I incorporated some of the ideas I had from that exercise into my mind map:

longley_sink_mindmap.jpg
(click to enlarge)

As for silly ideas, here are some silly and some not so silly:


  1. knit a sink cozy to cover up dirty dishes

  2. a net or hammock-like thing to hoist a baby into and out of a sink for washing

  3. hook, line, and sink-er unplugging device that "catches" the gunk in the drain and reels it out

  4. sink with a map surface

  5. the universe as a sink with all of the worlds going slowly down a big drain

  6. Chairy becomes a portable kitchen with various compartments for storing and cooking food, and washing up.

  7. yarn ball drain plug that expands or contracts to fit drain hole

  8. yarn as Drano

  9. a cat bed shaped like a basin that rocks (our bathroom sink was one of our cat's favorite places to sleep)

  10. adjustable sink for tall or short people

  11. a sink that "sinks" below the counter for more counter space

  12. a drain that acts like a small fountain and can rinse the dishes in the dish drainer side of a two part sink (can also wash veggies)

  13. a faucet that plays various musical notes

  14. dishes that "sing" as you wash them

  15. parts of the sink respond to being sprayed or banged like a steel drum or other percussion instrument

  16. instead of a faucet, have a jacuzzi-like device that sprays water from the sides of the sink

  17. maybe a jacuzzi-like device that makes the water work like strings on an instrument and play music

  18. design a full-size pool that looks like a sink with a faucet and have dish- and sponge-shaped floaties to ride around on

  19. have clear pipes so you can see where the clog is (like the old Drano commercials)

  20. a sink that cooks your food then washes the dishes later

  21. turned upside down, a basin is like a hat -- add water to a sunhat that can sprinkle or mist from the brim to stay cool


It's more than ten, I know, but some are sillier than others.


Recent Comments

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