1/02/2008

When I am King: Overleft Leftovers

When I am King...

Refrigerators will be self-cleaning.

The refrigerator is a simple device; it's just a cold box with shelves. It's barely more advanced than it was in the 1800's, when some guy named Luigi would deliver blocks of ice to your house in his horse-drawn wagon with his son 'Pinky', a nice kid that everyone pitied since he lost nine fingers to frostbite last summer trying to earn an extra penny one Saturday so that he could buy a hoop to go with the stick he'd bought the previous year.

All refrigerators work the same: You put some food on a shelf until you need it, then you take it out. Or you put some other food on the shelf in front of it, take it out, then take out the first food item.

If I were a geek, I'd say the fridge was a simple "stack" system, or a "Last In, First Out (LIFO)" queue, where the last thing you put in is the first thing you see, and usually the first thing eaten. You should eventually get around to the food that you put in there first; you just have to wait until it reaches the front of the queue on that shelf.

At least, that's the theory. In practice, you put the food on a shelf, then forget about it. You then put some other food in front of it on the same shelf and push the original food toward the back. A few days pass and more food is added to the front, pushing everything further toward the rear of the fridge until it hits the wall and everything starts to compress.

In my experience, by the time a leftover has made it to the second layer, it's a goner. The next time you see that food will be when you've been forced to clean out the appliance by order of the Health Department. And the only reason that you know it's food is that mold (which comes in many startling colors, at least in my fridge) usually starts from something edible. So it's either food or an unmatched, sopping mitten in a plastic tub.

Isn't it time that we brought this sorry appliance into our century? We can't do much for Pinky, but we can at least improve the device that put his father out of work.

When I am King, I'll introduce a new line of self-composting refrigerators. They will resemble today's appliances in most respects except that the shelves will stop short of the rear wall. When food reaches that last level of forgotten hell on a shelf, it will automatically drop down the back into a chute, where the food will be composted and the container sent to the dishwasher.

Why have just an ice box, when you can have a nice box instead?
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