Monday, December 3, 2007

New skills

This is my professional-face blog, so to speak, but that doesn't mean I want to be dry and boring. Expect snippets of other parts of my life to show up from time to time.

Last night, I spent time with a friend exploring salve and cream making. We want to try making soap, but thought that salves and creams might be a simpler place to start. She's an avid gardener, and both of us love interesting bath products and are learning about some uses of herbs.

She's an engineer with a background in medical equipment manufacturing, so whenever we cook or make things together, we end up in great conversations about how to adapt the process, where the failure points might be, and so on. We had a moment last night when we were testing a salve consistency by dropping the warm oil and wax mixture into cold water. For a thicker salve, it was supposed to form into a drop, for a thinner one, it would spread out on the water.

I test it. It spreads out. (We want a thicker one.) We add more beeswax. We try again. It spreads out. We add more wax. It spreads again. I look at this, and say "Ok, maybe it's not the salve, maybe the water needs to be colder?"

Unfortunately, no - the salve still spread - but it amused her greatly that I had the same instinct she had, to reconsider the testing medium, not just assume it was the thing we were actually testing.

It made me think of a lot of Web 2.0 type issues: how often do we react to something, by doing the same thing, over and over again, without stopping and saying "Hey, is there something else going on here?"

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