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What follows is a list of ideas that Jesus has made known to me. Notice that I do not claim to be the originator, or the first to have any of these questionable brainstorms. I am merely saying that no one except Jesus has ever told me. (In fact, I would be surprised if any are truly original!)
All entries are arranged in the sequence in which they arrived in my mind, starting approximately in the late 1980s; although I have commonly returned to a previous entry to include new revelations. Some of the headings are dated. This means that the latest ideas appear at the end of this file.
In retrospect, I wish that I had dated all entries; doing so would leave a more useful paper trail for my shrink.
The first 30 entries or so are the new ones that arrived since the last revision of this site.
Weighted Games
Sometimes, as a baseball fan, I may feel a little cheated when a team builds a commanding lead in the July standings only to just barely squeak into the playoffs due to an atrocious record in the second half. In other words, the team that is playing the best baseball in September may not be the team we see in October.
To remedy this problem, let's put more value on games as the season progresses. How about this plan:
   April games count 1
   May games count 1.2
   June games count 1.5
   July games count 1.9
   August games count 2.4
   September games count 3.0
Notice that games in September are three times more important than April games. Also notice that the games increase exponentially in weight. This plan helps to ensure that the hottest teams at the end of the season are more likely to appear in the post-season.
E-Traffic Report
Why aren't we simply mounting video cameras on telephone poles, overpasses, or other locations that overlook the various traffic arteries that interconnect a metropolitan area. Then allow internet surfers to simply connect whenever they want to see how well traffic is moving through any area where that surfer is planning to travel.
Actually, these cameras are already in place. The televised traffic reports always show the same view of the Vine Street Expressway where it connects with the Schukyll Expressway, I-95 near the Betsy Ross Bridge, the Jersey side of the Ben Franklin Bridge, etc. Why not make these video signals available around the clock via the net?
But I think someone already has thought of a better solution. Instead of a video camera at critical locations, why not measure the average speed of the traffic at those same locations? This information would be much easier to process, send  and receive than a full video signal, and it might be more accurate and useful.
Ungame with Stakes
Do you remember the Ungame? The Ungame is a game that's intended to improve human relationships.
The game allows each player to take a turn in sequence. During this turn, a player must follow directions on a card that is drawn from a stack. The card allows the player to make a comment, or ask a question of another player, or pay another player a compliment, or sometimes express a disappointment, etc.
The most important rule of this game is that no one is allowed to interrupt the player whose turn it is. Other players may want to inject a comment, defense, or rebuttal, but they must wait their turn, and even then they must discard the right card to do so.
But this rule can be difficult to follow. We so desperately want to defend ourselves when we are threatened, whether real or perceived. But these interruptions are just the kind of communication obstacles that the Ungame tries to overcome.
Unfortunately, there is no penalty for interruptions. So, I propose that each player must "ante-up" $4 into the pot. If any player blurts out an interruption, the other players divide up the pot and they all ante-up again.
Bedtime Music
How about a clock radio that gradually lowers the volume of soft restful music? The music turns off 15 minutes after the last motion is detected from a sensor switch in the mattress.
On-Line Purchase Security
We fret about the security of our credit card as well as our identity when we purchase something in the net. But that's because buying and selling is not done very intelligently in this medium.
Instead of entrusting a faceless void with our credit card number, why not have internet vendors include a purchase identification code when advertising their merchandise. This PIC would be similar to an SKU number, which allows both the merchant to identify all their sellable goods and the buyer to select the desired product. So here's the transaction:
1. The vendor advertises his product during which the PIC is given.
2. The buyer decides to buy.
3. The buyer contacts his bank in whatever manner the bank allows. He submits the PIC with the purchase order.
4. The bank contacts the vendor and authorizes payment upon receipt of the product by the buyer.
5. The carrier delivers the product to the buyer and obtains a confirmation signature of delivery.
6. The bank pays the vendor and deducts the same amount from the buyer's account.
Notice that the credit card number is never made know on the internet, a clear improvement in security.
TV Password Protection
Suppose that the family TV were connected to the family computer. In the same way that each family member must log into the computer to have access, each family member must log into the TV using name and password. This could be done by entering a code on the remote. If confirmed, the computer allows viewing of the TV until the maximum allotted time has elapsed for the day, or week, etc. Now, the kids must become more selective about viewing time.
World's Fastest Human
The Olympic 100 meter sprint is not the most accurate indicator of the person who should be allowed to carry this title. The problem is that too much of the outcome depends upon those instincts of anticipation at the start. Some slower runners seem to have a knack for leaving the blocks at the precise moment the gun barks. Other faster runners must wait until their brain fully processes the bang.
Well, not any more. From now on, the WFH will be the sprinter who can cover 10 yards in the least amount of time. Sprinters compete one-at-a-time, as if it were the pole vault, or broad jump, etc.
The sprinter can have as much space as he wants to built speed before approaching the interval. When he enters, a very precise motion detector starts an equally precise clock, and it stops when he exits. Who can argue that the athlete with the shortest time is not the WFH?
Use the same sensors that those Olympic swimmers use at either end of the pool.
In this day and age, it's an ugly word; and not without good reason. Segregation suggests restaurants and public wash rooms in the South, camps for orientals during WW2, Jewish ghettos, and any other incident of human rejection due to reasons outside the individual's control.
I was a teenager when racial issues dominated the news in the 60's. I have learned that attitude changes in such hot topics as racism take generations to happen. Although I don't consider myself to be racist, I notice that my children have a more tolerant view of racial acceptance than I do. Similarly, my parents lived through WW2, during which anyone who didn't harbor disdain for nearly any foreigner, especially from eastern Europe or the Far East was considered unamerican. These attitudes do not change quickly.
Anyway, while my own views of racism were being formed 40 years ago, I recall that the less tolerant members of the generation that preceded mine would often quote the following phrase to support their segregationist views:
"Birds of a feather flock together."
Whenever I would hear this phrase used in a segregationist context, I would have the following reactions:
   The statement is absolutely true. I prefer the company of people who are like me in both appearance, philosophy, and nationality, and I think that most other people feel this way too.
   The statement would often be a smoke screen to allow unequal treatment of different people groups.
My objective is a way to take advantage of the first without becoming ensnared in the second.
I propose the establishment of different municipalities across the nation that would allow its citizens to live in complete harmony with an individual's racial, religious, or national preference.
In other words, a town that is evangelical Christian would set laws that agree with the Bible. Their schools would be distinctively Christian in their educational environment. All businesses and recreation is banned on Sunday, etc.
A fundamental Jewish town would be governed by laws according to the Jewish law. The Koran would be the influence of Muslim townships.
Please understand that the vast majority of neighborhoods across the nation would not change. But in these few protected communities, people could live according to their preferences with neighbors who want to live the same way.
Five Dollar Store
The dollar store appears to be a highly successful commercial venture. But what are the reasons for their success? Here are the answers that I can think of:
It's easy to understand. If everything's a buck, no more price checks.
Customers feel like their getting a bargain. (Even if it sells for 89 cents at the Acme.)
Managing the books is greatly simplified. As a result, merchandise can usually be sold more inexpensively.
The dollar store of the 90s seems to be following the same evolutionary course as the five and dime stores of the 40s. Eventually, inflation forced a mismatch between that store's name and price of the stuff that you could buy there. I suspect that the same fate awaits the dollar store in 10 years. Today, however, I just think how ironic it is that our town has both a dollar store and a 5&10 within 100 yards of each other, and the dollar store is cheaper.
But why hasn't someone applied the same successful dollar store principles to a 5-dollar store, or maybe a 10-dollar store, or more? Like its cheaper little brother, these stores would also sell their stuff at the same price for everything. All the advantages of the dollar store would be realized, only with more expensive merchandise.
Could I buy a new Chevrolet Cavalier at a $5000 dollar store?
Recyclable Paper and Ink
Is someone hard at work trying to develop a computer printing process that would allow later separation of the ink from the paper? If perfected, this process would allow subsequent recovery of both the ink and paper in their original form when a printed document is no longer needed.
Perhaps if both ink and paper were made from some sort of unique electro-chemical process, separation could be achieved. Think of the savings! Think of all those pardoned trees!
Turn off that Mike!
While watching a televised debate between George Bush and Al Gore, I noticed that both candidates had an annoying habit of ignoring the moderator when told that their allotted time for their answer had expired. They would talk on.
Let's modify the rules of the debate to turn off the candidate's mike when his time is up.
  A Better Softball Plate (graphic)
While playing reserve infielder for a last place team in a slow-pitch church softball league, I discovered that this game uses a home plate that is different from the conventional baseball home plate. The softball plate adds a black rubber plate that sits behind the regular home plate. If a pitched ball lands on the supplemental plate, a strike is called.
But slow-pitch softball rules specify that a pitched ball must have a minimum elevation before dropping to the plate. I forget what that elevation is (perhaps 10 feet?). But that's a tough call for the umpire.
Instead, why not design the plate with a front wall. This would require that a pitched ball drop into the plate from a certain minimum angle.
In fact, why not put a wall all around the plate? This would change home plate into a basket. A called strike must land in the basket. Put an absorbent material in the basket to deaden any bounce.
Uninstall to Trash
Whenever I uninstall software from my computer to make room for something else, the software disappears. I need the original CDs or diskettes to reinstall the software. But sometimes when I uninstall, I later discover that another utility may have been using a small portion of this code and then things don't work as well. Then, if I reinstall, I may not choose exactly the same install options that I had earlier. So things still may not work the same.
Wouldn't it be nice if I could send the software to the trash, rather than purge it from my hard drive. Although putting something in the trash does not reduce the amount of occupied space on my hard drive, the trash effectively hides software from the computer. (Emptying the trash recovers storage space.)
Then, if the computer experiences deteriorated performance after an uninstall, recovery from the trash is easy.
A Better Way to Vote
Now that the smoke has cleared from the 2000 presidential election and all the ballot counting in Florida, I propose some changes.
   Either make the first Tuesday in November a national holiday or give voters a full week to get to the polls, rather than a single day.
   Encourage more voter participation by a $20 rebate that is available to voters only when they show up to vote.
   Allow voters to select a primary and secondary candidate, and maybe even a tertiary. Although I haven't thought out all the details, this plan is intended to prevent, for example, the democrats' concern that Ralph Nader's candidacy would split liberal votes with Al Gore, and give conservative George Bush an unfair advantage.
   Although it does seem unfair that a candidate with more total votes should be able to lose to a candidate with more electoral votes, I do not endorse the abolishment of this ancient method of counting. Can you imagine the mess if the Florida electoral debacle were expanded to the national level?
No Wait Zones
After I drop the kids off at school, there is usually a traffic backup on Springdale road as I approach Route 70. It typically extends up to 1/4 to 1/2 mile during at 8:30 AM.
I feel badly for the residents along this portion of Springdale Road during this time of day, because there's a solid wall of traffic at the end of their driveway. I've watched residents try to turn left across two or even three lanes of traffic. (Finding one courteous driver is a rare blessing; finding three at the same time is a miracle.)
For this reason, I propose the enforcement of no-wait zones directly in front of all driveways. This means that while you are waiting to move ahead, you are not allowed to stop your car in a no-wait zone. Instead you must stop your vehicle before the zone if there is not enough room for your vehicle beyond the zone.
If we don't allow parking in front of someone's driveway we shouldn't allow stopped traffic either. Although this law would extend traffic backup by the total number of driveways, the added slowdown should be negligible.
Note that the resident does not have right-of-way over moving traffic in the zone. There is still an implied STOP sign at the end of every driveway!  
Automotive Video Cameras
Many years ago, I would mount our video camera on the dash board of our car and videotape the ride to work out the front wind shield. Then, if nothing eventful happened on the ride to work, I would rewind the tape and do the same on the ride home.
My reasoning is that if a law enforcement officer ever stopped me for a traffic violation that I knew was wrong, I had my evidence. Also, my tape might be evidence for traffic incidents that involved other motorists. Or, maybe I would see something that is just plain interesting and it should be saved.
Also, I would think that a video camera and monitor would be better than a rear view mirror; no more blind spots. With their price dropping as dramatically as it has been, I'm surprised that cars are not "video-ready" from the factory.
  Convertible Stadium (graphic)
I have discovered that fashion not only affects our choices in clothing, cars, and music; it also influences our taste in athletic stadiums.
Twenty-five to thirty-five years ago those "cookie cutter" stadiums were popping up all across America. There was Veteran's Stadium in Philadelphia, Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Three Rivers Park in Pittsburgh, and more.
All of these athletic arenas had one common characteristic. They would accommodate both baseball and football.
But apparently, not very well. It seems that today's athletes want to play on real grass or dirt. But artificial turf would be necessary because how else can the Phillies play on Saturday without any trace of football field markings and the Eagles play on Sunday with no baseball evidence on the field either. (Back in the '60s, I remember watching televised football games in September in which the baseball infield was clearly visible.)
For these reasons, today's fad is two ball parks; one park exclusively for baseball, and another for football. This approach, of course, solves all problems. Both teams get grass with appropriate (and permanent) field markings. But it's twice as expensive.
Dual stadiums also have another problem, which is space efficiency. Football needs a rectangular field, while baseball needs an 90° arc. While both can share the same field, there are areas of wasted space, which results in a really wide foul ball area and end zones that give wideouts little room to stop after a touchdown pass.
So it's time for a convertible stadium, which, simply stated, converts the rectangle into an arc and back again. The lower level seats along the right foul line are mounted on a large rig that is equipped with wheels that are pitched to the left to turn in a circle around the inner wall, which has horizontal tracks along which the rig can move to its new position. After the last out, a tractor pushes the rig around to the right field, creating a near rectangle, the ideal shape for the grid iron.
But what about the grass issue? Well, suppose that we let the baseball players play on grass. Then, after the seats are moved for football, a 50-yard wide carpet, marked with all the football yard markers, rolls out directly on top of the grass. Because the carpet is unrolled for only a few hours per week, the grass should not suffer any long term damage.
The football players might appreciate the extra cushion. Furthermore, the grass might appreciate the protection from those football cleats, which have got to be more harmful to the turf than baseball shoes.
We might want to pad the carpet for coverage over the dirt infield. But what about the pitcher's mound?
The Random Automotive Game (RAG)
We really are going to play this game some day. Here is how it works.
1. Pick a beautiful day in which you have nothing to do.
2. Pack the family in the car.
3. Pull out of the driveway and head of in any direction that you choose.
4. When you encounter the first moving vehicle on the road, follow it.
5. After following the same vehicle for a certain distance, drop pursuit and pick up pursuit of the next moving vehicle that you encounter. The certain distance is one mile for roads with a speed limit up to 30 mph; two miles for roads up to 50 mph; and five miles for speeds over 50.
6. If the vehicle reaches its destination before the one-mile maximum, continue until you encounter another vehicle to follow.
You may want to set a 10-mile limit on any road. Otherwise, you may not have an excuse to exit from I-80 before you pass a few state boundaries.
An Anti-Sexual Addiction Device
Jesus showed me a device that will liberate sex addicts from their bondage.
To understand how this electro-chemical innovation works, you must understand that Epinephrine is the name of the chemical that the body secretes into the male blood stream when the brain is sufficiently stimulated by sexual messages. These messages are usually visual, mental, or tactile. If we are especially sensitive, our faculties of hearing, taste, and smell may also be involved.
But whatever their source, Epinephrine is the substance that starts and maintains the male sexual motor.
But if our mind dumps this stuff too much and too often, we are plagued by excessive sexual restlessness, which can be very distracting. But now there's hope.
The Anti-Sexual Addition Device (ASAD) consists of an arm patch that monitors the level of Epinephrine in the blood stream. This sensor resembles a smoker's patch. The ASAD also includes a battery-powered electrode that is worn around the neck.
Now let's investigate a typical scenario. The ASAD user is walking down his sidewalk in June. His mind is filled with the beauty of the day; the clear, blue sky, trees swaying in the gentle breeze of early summer, singing birds, etc. Then, without warning, his 19-year-old neighbor comes outside to water her garden in her not-too-modest two piece.
Quickly, the beauty of the day is replaced by the beauty of something else. The visual images trigger the mind to secrete more Epinephrine and the levels in his circulatory system rise dramatically.
This time however, the patch detects a level that exceeds the pre-set threshold. When that happens, the patch sends a signal to the electrode, which delivers an uncomfortable jolt to the user, who quickly refocuses on the colorful azaleas.
  How to Reduce Home Heating Costs
Because I'm tired of paying all that money that my furnace demands to make our house comfortable in January, I have a better idea. First of all, there are two reasons why we heat our homes:
   Creature comfort
   To prevent our water pipes from freezing
We heat our entire house to maintain these two objectives. But think of the savings if we would heat only the immediate vicinity of those areas that need heat.
The easier objective is the pipes. Simply wrap the pipes with that thermostatically controlled tape. When it drops below 35, the electric circuits in the tape keep the pipe from getting too cold. Unfortunately, this is a challenging retrofit for an existing plumbing system because most of the pipes are hiding in the walls.
The second objective is more challenging, but doable. Simply have body wraps that are warmed by a rechargeable battery. When the battery runs down on one wrap, take that one off, plug it in for recharging, and put on another charged wrap. Also, have lots of electric blankets.
If we only heat that which must maintain a minimum temperature, we'll save lots of heating dollars.
For a related topic in a different season, check this idea.
A Distributed Hot Water Heating System
Central hot water heating systems are used everywhere. We have this 30 or 40 or 50 gallon container of water that is constantly heated whether we need it or not. Instead, why not have a point-of-use heaters at every sink and bath tub in the house.
But instead of maintaining a reservoir of heated water at each location, could we simply heat the water when needed? Obviously, we could begin heating the water when we want it, but how long must we wait?
The system I imagine works as follows:
1. Turn the hot water knob. You then hear "click, click, click" as the electrical pilot ignites the gas. (This same ignition system is used in modern gas stoves.)
2. The flame heats the water that feeds the spigot through a labyrinth of capillary copper tubing. Due to the very large surface area, the water heats much more quickly than if the water were contained in a standard half-inch pipe. (The principle is the same as that used in an automotive radiator, only in reverse.)
3. Take your shower right away.
But, like so many of my ideas, I found evidence that someone thought of this before me. In the Real Estate section of the 5/13 Sunday Inquirer, I saw an article about a tankless water heater. The article said, "These models work by heating the water instantly as it passes through". This system, according to the article, is activated by the faucet.
I suspect the water is heated the same way also.
Inflatable Shipping Containers
Why not? It consists of a standard cardboard box with an inflatable liner. When you're ready to ship that family vase to Aunt Myrtle, proceed as follow:
1. Set the box on the table.
2. Put the inflatable liner in the box.
3. Put the vase inside the liner.
4. Inflate the liner. (If it really is a vase, you may want to inflate something inside.)
5. Close the box and ship.
When it arrives, Aunt Myrtle simply deflates the liner and removes the vase.
Notice that Aunt Myrtle can now reuse the same shipping container to send another heirloom to someone else. Because it's inflatable, it conforms to the shape of anything in the box.
  An Easy Shopping List (graphic)
Like so many other items in our house, It's made out of coat-hanger wire. Just cut it and shape it the way I have shown in the illustration. Then tape it to the front of your refrigerator.
The roll of paper, which measures slightly more than two inches wide, comes from a standard 8.5x11 sheet of paper. Proceed as follows:
1. Simply fold the paper in half lengthwise.
2. Fold it in quarters, also lengthwise.
3. Cut the four 2.125x11 strips that are separated by a fold.
4. Tape the four strips together at the end, which results in a 2.125x44 strip.
5. Roll this up as tightly as you can.
6. Insert the roll on the coat hanger wire on the top of the coat-hanger wire holder.
7. Pull down the outer end of the paper strip.
8. Insert it through the slot at the bottom of the holder.
9. Start your list.
When your ready to go shopping, pull the roll down and tear it off.
You may want to attach a pencil to the holder.
How I Tee it up
I like to buy 5-gallon buckets full of old golf balls at the flea market. Then, when I get home, I enjoy sending them on their final ride out into the swamp behind our house.
I like to grab my #1 driver and crack them as hard as I can. But when I do, I often lose the golf tee. I tried using caps to plastic containers, but they would soon break apart.
Now I cut off a 1-inch section of old garden hose, poke a hole in either side, push a string through it, and tie it to a stake in the ground.
When I tee up a ball on garden hose segment and whack it, I simply follow the string from the stake to find my re-usable golf tee.
Because not everyone is so blessed with a 300-yard wide swamp behind their back yard, I realize that this idea has limited use.
Catching Speeders the Hi-Tech Way
EZ-Pass is a hi-tech way of billing drivers for passage across toll bridges and highways. This system uses a transponder in the car to recognize the car as it enters the bridge or highway, and then assesses the toll to the driver's account, and sends a bill to the driver's home each month.
Suppose this technology were applied to the realm of highway law enforcement? When a radar gun determines that a driver is speeding, a radio signal is sent to the car, which responds with an identifying signal. The driver then receives a bill at the end of the month.
If the car's transponder is disabled, either due to deliberate tampering or simple failure, a law enforcement officer then pulls over the car in the traditional way.
Although I like this idea, my car-pool acquaintance, Addy, expressed concern over its use by Big Brother as a way of monitoring movement of all citizens. But if the system only sends an id inquiry after determining that the driver is speeding, shouldn't this be acceptable?
A Tri-Sexual Animal
Unlike most creatures, this beast has three genders, male, female, and trimale. A representative from each gender is needed to procreate the species.
Males do not give birth. Females give birth to either males and females. Trimales give birth only to other trimales.
Putting that Pilot to Work
Here's another idea that's past its prime.
Modern gas kitchen stoves no longer use a pilot to start the burners or oven. Instead, they have an electronic ignition system. This idea relates to the use of the now-obsolete gas pilot, which never did anything except consume valuable resources.
What if the gas pilot was one of the four burners, instead of a little flame beneath the stove's cover? With this design, one of the burners would never go off. When turned to the off position, this pilot burner would retain a very small flame from which the other burners could ignite when needed.
So how would this idea be an improvement over the previous pilot design? Well, you could always keep a large pot of water on the pilot burner. This pot and its contents would be like a hot-water heater, but for cooking purposes.
How many times have you put on a large pot of water to cook some spaghetti, and then you would wait and wait for that pot to boil? With this design, boiling water would be ready very quickly.
Of course, more water would be needed because the water in the pot would continuously evaporate. Perhaps water from the kitchen sink could automatically enter the pot when a floater drops below a set level; or maybe the steam could be recovered through some evaporation tubes.
  A Better Watch Band (graphic)
Why not use Velcro strips to make a watch band? After all, I do.
Perhaps that's not the most compelling reason. But there are several reasons to consider this approach to attaching time to your arm.
   It's cheap. One of those little Velcro packages only costs about 2 bucks. One package makes two watch bands. Beside that, you only need two small paper clips.
   It's easy. Remove those two mounting pins on either side of the watch. Drill two holes on either side of the housing that holds the mounting pins. Feed a paper clip through the two holes on each side. Then feed the hook side of the Velcro through the lower part of the paper clips. Use the cloth side of the Velcro to attach the two ends of the hook side.
   It's adjustable. Unlike regular belt style watch bands, Velcro is fully adjustable to fit any wrist.
   It's secure. If one of those mounting pins breaks, you might lose your watch. Velcro, however, does not let go easily.
I've been very satisfied with my Velcro watch band for several years now. But the next time I see someone else wearing such a watch band will be the first.
Further, More Accurate Casting
My brother-in-law, Al, is an avid fisherman and he told me how he learned how to cast further from a site he found on the net. He demonstrated how to handle that rod in order to maximize the distance.
Then I suggested "Why not use a bow and arrow?" Simply connect your bait to the front end of the arrow and the line to the rear end. Mount the arrow on the bow string, pull back, aim, and let go. The result should be greater distance with better precision.
Al mentioned that the sudden acceleration of the arrow might cause the bait to fall off the arrow. Also, would the hook tear open your clothing or flesh as it goes by? Important considerations, but not insurmountable!
  Sleeping in the Frig
This idea relates to a previous idea where we discuss how to reduce home heating costs by reducing the heatable area to the immediate environment of the resident. In the same way, why not overcome those hot sleepless summer nights by sleeping in a refrigerator?
This appliance would mount horizontally on the floor. It would be wider, and perhaps longer too, than a standard frig to accommodate a twin size mattress. When bedtime arrives on that 98 degree night with humidity to match, simply climb into your refrigerated bed, close the door, and sleep in comfort all night without the expense of air conditioning the entire house, or even the bed room.
But you're still on your own during the day.
How I would Improve Word
I have used Microsoft Word for putting my ideas into computer files for years. Although it improves with every release, there are several ways in which it could be made still better. Here they are: (By the way, Word is so packed with features, the following ideas may already be there and I just haven't discovered them yet.)
   Page breaks are incorrect when invisible text is displayed. Page breaks seem to be calculated as if the invisible text were actual printable characters. When compiling an index in "show invisible text" mode, the page numbers in the index seem to be the pages they would have been if invisible text were the same as all other characters.
   Edit/Paste Special/Paste Link should insert an a placeholder icon that is the same dimensions as the actual picture. This makes page layout easier.
   Include a utility that flags leading quotes or parentheses, but no trailing.
   Include a quotes or parentheses button that would bracket selected text by quotes or parentheses.
   Word shouldn't prompt the user “Do you want to save changes?” if no changes are made.
   Related to the previous comment, include the option "Review changes".
   Under Tools, include a utility to calculate the Fog index, which is the approximate indicator of the appropriate education level of the reader for a specific paragraph, as follows:

The intended educational             2.5 (A + B)
level of the reader        =                      C    

Where…     A is the number of words in the paragraph,
B is the number of words in the paragraph with 3 or more syllables,
C is the number of sentences in the paragraph.

A fog index of 10, for example, indicates that the paragraph requires the reader to have a reading comprehension level of at least 10th grade.

   Under search, include a button that allows you to return to the original location.
   Change the command "Format/Change Case" to simply "'Format/Case". This makes the commands more consistent.
   When I scroll through a document, stop at a certain location, and then use a page advance button, Word advances from the location where the cursor was located before the scroll began. I would prefer that the cursor follow me to the page that I'm viewing.
   Improve Format Picture to allow graphic to follow at the first location at either the top or bottom of a page. Empty space at the end of the page due to insufficient space for the following graphic is filled automatically with the following text.
   When using tables that span two or more pages, include an option that allows page breaks only on horizontal cell boundaries.
   In "Format Columns", include a way to control where column breaks occur. (i.e., all columns on page as close as possible to equal length or fill all columns before beginning the next).
   Search each sentence for a leading interrogatory word (i.e., who, what, when, where, why, how) and set a flag if the sentence does not end with a question mark. Or, better yet, end the sentence automatically with a question mark.
   Include a "Compose Character" option that allows the user to create customized characters. When selected, Word would display an enlarged cross-section of the character, showing each pixel. The user could set each pixel or a field of pixels to either black or white or toggled from its previous state. Pixel fields would be selected by clicking and dragging across various segments of the character. The user could begin composition using a standard character, if desired, and building from there, or building from a blank character. But someone smarter than I must figure out how to receive, recognize, and display these characters at another computer.
Fat-Free Hamburgers
This one is still in the planning stages. I haven't yet been able to gather all the equipment I need to confirm. Stay tuned.
That completes the new entries. What follows are the ideas that have appeared with the previous revision of this site.
1.  One-on-One Baseball (graphic)
Basketball has an unfair advantage over baseball because basketball offers a competitive game no matter how many or how few players are available. How often have I seen an empty baseball field in August. Why? Well, the bottom of the first will never arrive unless enough defensive players are in the field.
Hey, it's time for One-on-one Baseball! This game will allow 2 people to play a competitive game of baseball against each other. The game consists of a pitcher (one team) and a batter (the other team). Behind the batter (where the catcher would be) is a cage the size of the strike zone.
Most of the rules of regular baseball apply. One exception requires the hitter to completely circle the bases to hit safely. Singles, doubles, and triples are synonymous with outs. Only home runs count. In other words, the pitcher must retrieve each fair ball and throw it into the batting cage before the hitter can circle the bases.
Three pitches in the cage is a strikeout and four outside the cage is a walk. A scorekeeping mechanism would keep track of all the invisible runners on base. But remember that a virtual runner scores only when either the hitter hits a home run or the pitcher walks the hitter with the bases loaded.
A variation of the rules might be 1-pitch, in which a pitch outside the cage is a walk and a pitch in the cage is a strikeout.
Another variation would allows each half-inning consist of 10 pitches. If the pitch misses the cage, a run is counted for the batter. If the pitch hits the cage, no run is counted for the batter. After 10 pitches, the batter and pitcher trade positions.
2. MVP Selection
When it's time to select a most valuable player in a league of athletic teams, don't use any individual numbers. Instead, compare the team's performance while the player is in the lineup with the team's performance when out of the lineup. For example, Joe Jock, a reserve point guard for a basketball team, shares playing time with other ball handlers on the team.
During one game that his team won by a score of 114 to 107, Joe played 31 of the 48 total minutes. While playing, his team scored 68 points to 64 points for the other team. Joe's offensive rating is 68 points ÷ 31 minutes, or 2.19 points per minute. His defensive rating is 2.06 points per minute (64 ÷ 31). His total rating is +0.13 (2.19 - 2.06). This means that Joe's team outscores the opposition at a rate of 0.13 points per minute while Joe is playing.
However, Joe's team outscored the opposition 46 to 43 during the 17 minutes that Joe was on the bench. Joe's non-playing rating is +0.19 (46/17 - 43/17), which means that his team outscores the opposition at a rate of 0.19 points per minute while Joe is not playing. Joe's total rating is -0.06. The negative indicates that Joe's team does a little better when Joe sits down.
3. How to Derive a National Budget
May I share with you what I feel is the most intriguing question on that 1040 tax form that you either have finished, are working on, or have procrastinated?  Every year this simple question has fascinated me; not due to its depth or importance, but rather due to its potential.  It's not a new question; it's been there for several years now.  This question could be the basis of a far more equitable way of paying taxes in any democratic society.
But before I simply tell you what that question is, I want you to think about how our government spends its money.  Have you ever found yourself angry over the things that your local, state, or federal government does?  And then become even more upset when you realize that these absurd, immoral, or unethical activities are supported by your personal tax dollars?  Well, I have many times.  Consider these few examples:
   The pacifist is furious as his/her tax dollars pay for SDI, stealth bombers and 75-dollar screw drivers.  
   The avid pro-lifer seethes as his/her taxes pay for federally-funded and state-funded abortions.
   The work-ethic American rankles as his/her dollars are channeled to welfare.
   Many Christians and Jews are enraged as their money supports foundations for the arts, which in turn produce some distinctively vulgar and sacrilegious paintings and sculptures.
Meanwhile, all of us decry wasteful fiscal practices at all levels of government.
Now many of you may feel that any, some, or all of these items represent valid expenses that any responsible government should provide for its people.  Emphasis may be needed here to quickly state that the purpose of today's Think Tank is neither the defense nor the attack of these, or any other governmental expenses, but rather how we decide what those expenses should be.
Maybe you have guessed it by now.  Remember that question near the top of page 1 of the 1040 that asks?  "Do you want to contribute $1 to the presidential campaign fund"?.  Here we can choose, in a small way, what the U.S. government is doing with our taxes.
What would happen if this plan were expanded to allow each taxpayer to determine how all of his/her tax dollars are to be spent?  What would the budget look like if every contributor to the U.S. Treasury could specify how much of his/her contribution is to be spent on defense, environmental protection, foreign aid, help for the poor and homeless, etc.?  
With this plan, each of us could fill out one more form before the mid-April deadline; only this form will be fun to complete because in it we are sending a clear message to our legislators about how our money is to be spent.  Corporations would earmark their taxes according to how the stockholders vote.  Of course, no one would be required to submit this form, which, like the existing presidential campaign fund question, will not raise or lower your bill.  All unappropriated funds would be distributed proportionally to how the appropriated funds are distributed.  For example, if 5 percent of all appropriated revenues are designated for the homeless, then 5 percent of the unappropriated revenues are designated for the homeless as well.
Another not too insignificant advantage of this method is that the President and Congress would no longer need to take the time and trouble to prepare for, and carry out its annual cussing contest called making the budget.  That's our job now.
Some may feel that this approach is too risky.  For example, If nobody wants to subsidize defense, will our enemies become bolder?  Will urban riots like those from the late sixties erupt if no one pays for welfare?  Will our older friends suffer if social security is cut back?  
While there may some justification for these concerns, remember that millions of individual and corporate taxpayers would be selecting the budget.  With such a large and varied spectrum of contributors, shouldn't the result be rather well balanced?
As added protection against a windfall or shortfall due to public whim, perhaps we could legislate a 10% maximum adjustment from which the new budget can deviate from the old.  For example, if the international developments of late '89 and early '90 cause the taxpayers' referendum to cut the Pentagon's budget by one half, only 10% would actually be pared off, just in case we're a little overconfident.  Then, next year another 10% cut can be included, if the taxpayers feel that the "peace dividend" was as real as it looked originally.
"The Power to Tax is the Power to Kill" is a truly accurate aphorism, and if I knew its originator, I'd give him/her credit for it right here.  With this plan all of us would have the power to appropriate money to worthy expenses and withhold money from all the rest.  Doesn't this plan sound distinctively ... democratic?
When you vote for your candidate, he/she may or may not vote the way you would like.  But when you appropriate your bucks, your vote is unmistakable.
Consider some of the things that Washington does and pays for without asking for your approval.
For example, four times a year, the U.S. Government printing office publishes a little pamphlet called the Consumer Information Catalogue.  This catalogue provides a list and a brief description of other pamphlets that you can obtain from nearly 30 different government agencies in Washington for a very nominal cost or free.  An edition of this catalogue that I saw recently included such topics as:
   Winter driving tips
   Hyperactive children
   "The thing the Professor Forgot" (a coloring book that teaches children about nutrition)
   Flowering perennials
   Aqua Dynamics (exercises you can do in your swimming pool)
   How to adopt a burro
Again, let's not quibble here over the validity of these, and the countless other governmental functions, but rather a more democratic means by which each of us could decide how our government should perform its jobs, and what those jobs should be.
But perhaps the best reason of all is the personal satisfaction that comes by being able to say "Well, at least my tax dollars didn't support that scam"!
4. How to Select a President and other Elected Officials
I'd like to see every candidate submit a completed presidential registration form and a $100 registration fee. Small enough for anyone with sincere presidential aspirations, yet large enough to discourage frivolous entries, the fee would pay for the campaign and the selection process.
The registration form forces each candidate to clearly state the his/her views on every issue of national significance (e.g., abortion, environment, foreign affairs, etc.). Candidates debate against each other one-on-one on televised debates. The electorate votes for the winner, who advances to the next round (i.e., very similar to a single-elimination basketball tournament).
5. Car Insurance
A few thoughts about automotive insurance:
   Why not offer drivers a 20% premium reduction for each claim-free year of driving. After several years of driving without a claim, each insured driver will enjoy a very low premium. These low rates are no burden to the company, because these drivers make no claims. Because the company will discontinue the policy or reinstate the original premium for any driver that submits a claim, drivers have a clear incentive to drive carefully. Safer roads, lower premiums.
   Why not insure the driver, instead of the car? Is it right to charge someone more because he/she has two or more cars? Of course not! Nobody can drive two or more cars simultaneously. If an uninsured driver drives that car and has an accident, the company does not pay. Hence, a clear incentive to drivers to lock and secure their car.
   But if we insist upon insuring cars instead of drivers, the amount of all collision and liability premiums should be proportional to the use of the car. Clearly, a car that is driven 20,000 miles per year is a greater risk than a car that travels only 10,000 miles per year. To those who ask "How can the company prevent drivers from tampering with their odometers"?, I respond "How do utility companies prevent homeowners from tampering with their electric, gas, and water meters"? Perhaps a sealed meter could be installed in the undercarriage of the car.
6. A better way to set bail for a suspected criminal
A responsible, non-related citizen with a crime-free record must be willing to serve in the suspect's place if he/she skips.
7. The thermal capacitor
As a brass bedpost, when heated in a fireplace, continues to radiate heat when removed from the fire and taken outdoors on a cold day or, when chilled in the freezer, remains cold when taken outside on a hot day, design a thermal capacitor that can be "charged" in January and "discharged" in July, and vice versa.
8. A better way to operate a car dealership
No sales force, except for a fat lady behind a cash register. The actual price (not the price from which hassling begins) is marked on the car just the way it is for a pound of tomatoes at the supermarket. Take it or leave it.
9.   A way for the NFL to make a fairer schedule (1992)
NFL inter conference games result in an unfair schedule in which some teams have easier schedule than other teams. Divide the league into three groups of nine teams each. (Divide the teams geographically, but try to give each group an equal number of fair-weather cities.) Here's how I would divide up the teams.
Did you notice a new team? The Los Angeles Rammers is a single team that is made up of the two former Los Angeles teams, the Rams and the Raiders. (Their helmet has a rams horn on one side, and the pirate and crossed swords on the other.) This merger is necessary to have 27, rather than 28, teams. This change also restores state rivalries. Doesn't it make sense that there be more contests between cross-state rivals like the Eagles/Steelers, Dolphins/Buccaneers, Cowboys/Oilers, Giants/Jets/Bills, Rammers/Chargers/Niners, etc.? After all, can anyone explain why the Cowboys are in the NFC east? or the Falcons in the NFC west?
Each team would play each other team in its group twice, for a 16-game schedule. No inter-group games would be played to ensure a fair schedule for all teams. At the end of the season, the playoffs would consist of the four top teams from each group. For example, the top four teams in the three divisions listed above make the 1992 playoffs based upon their actual record in the 1992 regular season. Here's the playoff structure.
Notice that each three-team grouping consists of a first seeded team, which gets a first round bye and a second and third seeded team, which play each other in the first round (at the second seeded team's home field). The winner plays the first seeded team at the first seeded team's home field.
The preseason games are no longer completely meaningless! The second place team from the conference with the best pre-season record gets a first round bye in the playoffs along with the winners from each conference. (In this case it is assumed that the western division is the strongest and the central is the weakest.) Team a-2 (Cowboys), in this example, gets a first-round bye, because division a finished first in pre-season play.
10. A better way to operate an ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT restaurant
To prevent the inequity of making little old ladies pay as much as football players, Sumo wrestlers and other gluttons, all customers are charged per pound of body weight. At 3 cents/lb. a 250-pound man pays $7.50, while a 110-pound person pays $3.30 for all they can eat. By using a truck scale, people can be charged by the group to avoid embarrassment to an individual diner who is sensitive about his/her weight. The restaurant's name will be Stuffyerface.
Also, consider charging diners for the amount of time elapsed in the restaurant (i.e., similar to how a pool hall charges their customers). In this restaurant (named Pig-out), the rate will be variable depending upon the number of diners in the restaurant (i.e., the more diners, the less access to the food).
11. A PC-based automatic finding system
Attach a miniature, frequency-sensitive circuit to every item that you commonly misplace (i.e., keys, wallet, pocketbook, etc.). Each item must be assigned a separate frequency. Whenever you misplace a "tagged" item, go to your PC, and enter the keyboard command which corresponds to the frequency of the misplaced item. The memory-resident software directs the PC to emit the desired frequency. The circuit on the misplaced item responds with an audible signal.
12. Cold Thoughts
Here are a few thoughts about refrigerators
   Why not make refrigerator/freezers so that they use outside air to maintain internal temperature? This appliance, which mounts in an outer kitchen wall, is equipped with insulated louvers which open in cooler weather to allow outside air temperature to preserve the food, thereby saving electrical consumption and wear and tear on the compressor. Both the refrigerator and the freezer would have separate, thermostatically-controlled louvers.
   Why not have a removable egg rack for people who don't eat eggs? Or, simply include a special flat shelf that could hold the standard one dozen sized box of eggs.
   You've heard of refrigerators that have cold water outlets? A better idea than making it a kitchen water fountain would be a connection from the refrigerator's cold water output line to the cold water inlet to the kitchen sink.
13. About Television
Try these TV Brainstorms:
   Television systems should be redesigned to allow viewing of one of many transmissions on the same frequency. Using the "split-screen" technique, a TV station could transmit four shows on the same TV frequency. The viewer could review all four programs (i.e., in each quadrant of the TV set) and choose the desired program. The selected program would then fill the screen.
   Design a remote control unit that listens to the volume level of a television set from across the room. When the volume level exceeds or drops below a prescribed level, the volume is automatically lowered or raised.
   Because commercials are commonly transmitted at a higher volume than the show, would this be a reasonably accurate way to know when to turn off the VCR from recording?
14. Cutting Thoughts (7/14/91)
I love those operator-powered, "reel-type" lawn mowers, although I rarely use my own.
My hand mower starts just when I'm ready to cut grass; it's lightweight, quiet, and easy to use.  It's also less expensive.  I don't have to buy gas and oil, adjust carburetors, clean air filters, replace broken recoil mechanisms, etc.  Furthermore, because it's safer, I don't have to chase away my kids before I use it.
But, there are some disadvantages.  At least two are correctable.
   The handle is not very durable.  After perhaps one season of use, the metal where the grip meets the handle stem becomes fatigued and breaks apart.  I tried to use heavy-duty tape to no avail.  My problem was solved by using a more durable handle from a power mower that has holes in nearly the same locations.  
   The connection between the mower and the handle is insecure.  The two mower tabs where either side of the handle connects to the mower itself often becomes disengaged from the handle.  One of my GS mowers have predrilled holes in those tabs.  By putting a cotter pin in each hole, the problem is solved.  If all your mowers were equipped with these holes, this would not be a problem.
   Grass clippings become tightly wrapped around either side of the horizontal drive shaft next to the wheels.  Perhaps some sort of plastic housing can be fitted around the shaft to prevent grass buildup.
Also, the reel-type mower does not perform well in tall grass. My personal experience has taught me that if the grass is taller than 6 inches, the mower simply rolls over it without cutting.  Although most homeowners cut their grass before it becomes this tall, some grasses, such as dandelions and other weeds, grow faster than the rest of the lawn.  If I cut my lawn when the average length is 3 to 4 inches, the reel-type mower cuts 99% of my lawn nicely, but the remaining 1% are the foot-long spikes that give the lawn a ragged look.
Why this happens is due to the way the mower cuts the grass.  If the grass is too tall to be caught under one of the 5 spinning blades, it won't be cut between that spinning blade and the fixed blade at the base of the mower.
But, isn't it possible to design a push-mower that can cut grass of any length?  I have a few designs in mind:
   Make a bigger mower.  If the wheels were bigger and the 5-blade assembly were bigger, taller grass could be caught under each blade, and thereby be cut.  This, however, is not my favorite design because there could still be grass too tall to cut, and more effort would be needed to push this heavier model.
   Use a horizontal cutting action.  The current reel-type mower converts the vertical spinning motion of the wheels to a vertical spinning motion of the 5-blade cutting assembly.  Suppose the vertical motion of the wheels were converted into a horizontal spinning motion similar to that of a conventional power mower?  But, because there is no opposing cutting edge, could such a design allow transfer of enough energy to the blades to cut in this manner?  Perhaps adding a third or a fourth blade would help.
   Use a scissors cutting action.  This design converts the energy of the turning wheels into a reciprocating motion.  One cutting member, which consists of several V-shaped metal fingers, moves back and forth below a fixed cutting member of the same design.  To visualize this action, place one hand on top of the other and spread your fingers as wide as possible.  Then move the lower hand quickly side-to-side.  
   Use the current design with the scissors cutting action.  This design (my personal favorite) adds a scissors-type mower adapter to the standard push mower that is now commercially available.  Mounted on the upper crossbar that connects the two wheels, the scissors pre-cuts all grass that exceeds 6 inches in height before the 5-blade assembly cuts all the grass.  Perhaps each passing blade of the 5-blade assembly could prime a spring-loaded mechanism that would drive the scissors.  If this design could be packaged and sold as an add-on kit for the existing mower, this could be a tremendous business opportunity.  
All of the preceding designs will probably require more work from the operator than the current model.  This drawback can be offset by how the improved handle is designed.  
The current model is pushed by holding a small handle either in my hands or against my mid-section as I walk behind the mower.  Instead, why not design a heavy-duty handle that includes a harness that is pushed by my entire upper body?  This will allow me to lean harder into the work.  My hands would grip a wider handle for easier steering.  Because the mower will be holding me up as I lean into the harness, perhaps the handle should be equipped with hand brakes which would stop the wheels when I want to stop. I might want to wear football spikes.
This new mower would be an effective exercise tool, as well as gardening tool. It might be an enjoyable and practical way for many homeowners to get a good cardiovascular workout while doing something they have to do anyway.
15. A better way to play baseball
Here's how I would mess around with our national pastime:
   Why not have defensive and offensive specialists, like football? The hitting rotation would consist of 6 or 7 designated hitters, who would only hit. The fielders would only field. This way we wouldn't have to watch a Greg Luzinski botch an easy fly ball, nor a slick-fielding shortstop hit .203.
   Also implement a 30-second pitch clock for pitchers. If the pitch is not delivered within 30 seconds of when the catcher receives the previous pitch, a ball is ruled. Pick-off attempts do not reset this clock.
   Batters cannot delay the game by stepping out of the box; they must be ready when the pitcher delivers the pitch.
   The third unsuccessful pick-off attempt on the same runner allow that runner a free pass to the next base.
   Allow each team three video appeals per game.
16. How to play basketball
Here's a few hoop shockers:
   Instead of a shot clock, why not limit the maximum number of passes that an offensive team can make for each possession to 10, or 12, or some other limit? Or, reduce the size of the front court, thereby reducing the area in which the offensive team can kill the ball.
   When the ball goes out of bounds, why not simply alternate possession? (like the procedure for a jump ball). Or, always give the ball to the defensive team.
   Instead of a game clock, the winner would be the first team to reach 100 points and then build a 5 point lead.
   If a foul is committed, What if the offending player has to sit out for, say, a minute? (you know, like hockey).
   Allow each team three video appeals per game.
   The total height of all five players on the floor cannot exceed 30 feet (i.e., average height 6 foot).
   When a foul is committed, the fouled team can choose either the free throws or retain possession on an in-bounds pass. (This would help to stop the endless free throws at the end of a game due to deliberate fouling.)
17. Movies (2/15/93)
Why don't movie producers make G-rated versions of all their R-rated movies? Commonly, an R-rated movie receives this designation due to a few bad scenes, which could be easily replaced with acceptable scenes that would not detract from the story. By offering a G-rated alternative, movie producers could attract family viewers, while their original customers could continue to watch the R version.
Well, in the entertainment section of the 2/15/93 Philadelphia Inquirer I learned that once again, I didn't have an original idea. An organization named DOVE seeks to promote Judeo-Christian values by encouraging movie producers to offer family versions of non-family movies. The article did not give DOVE's address or even what the letters stand for.
Also, why not provide an actual count of bad words with an itemization of which words they are (e.g., the F-word and variations: 18; the S-word and variations: 22; words pertaining to genitalia: 9, etc.), the number of killings and how graphic they are, the exact extent, and number of occurrences, of nudity (e.g., male reverse: 2; female reverse: 3; male frontal: 0; female frontal upper: 4; female frontal lower: 0)?
18. Food Journal
Why doesn't someone publish a weekly publication that compares the weekly food advertisements of all the local supermarkets (i.e., Acme, Foodtown, ShopNBag, Pathmark, etc.). This publication would offer the most cost-effective menu for the week, based upon the advertised specials of the week, tell the reader where to go to get the best price on each menu entry, and list the total weekly cost. A range of menus could be offered, based upon individual budget. Gas mileage between stores could also be computed. Also include stock-up specials for pantry and freezer.
19. A better way to install carpet
Sell carpet in square yard segments. Velcro strips would be attached around the bottom edge of the square. The carpet liner would be manufactured with a built-in Velcro grid. This design would allow each square to be installed separately by attaching the square to the Velcro grid. As the carpet wears, each square could be either rotated or swapped with another square in a low traffic area.
20. Tires
It seems that there are many ways to improve those air cushions on which we ride. Here are my ideas:
   A tire that is filled with silicone rubber instead of air. This design would prevent the possibility of flat tires, but, because the tires are not solid vulcanized rubber, the ride would be as smooth as an air-filled tire.
   Instead of having four tires on a car, why not have eight tires instead? Each location on the car's undercarriage where one tire would normally be located would have two smaller (smaller width, same diameter), side-by-side tires. Then, when a blowout occurs, you can keep going.
   Is it true that the military has specially made tires in which the tire rim takes up most of the air chamber. When a flat happens, the jeep can keep going by riding on the rim. Why not use that design for all cars?
21. Encyclopedia and Other Reference Books
A loose-leaf encyclopedia that the user could update each year by inserting a change page package. This idea would allow the encyclopedia to remain current year after year, without "yearbooks", which are very inconvenient for the user to use with the encyclopedia itself. Because pagination would be disrupted each year, numeric page numbers would not be used. Instead, all pages would have an alphabetical page reference. Also, a detailed cross-reference index would be included at the end of each entry.
22. Brainstorming
Here are a few thoughts about how we can fool around with our brains:
   How to become an extension of another person, or vice versa. Because all brain-generated signals that go to any part of the body via nervous system synapses (e.g., move a toe, bend the pinkie, kick, scratch, talk, etc.) are both electrical and chemical in nature, is it conceivable that by picking off signals at a person's medulla oblongata (the brain's switchboard), directing those signals to an attached a radio transceiver, broadcasting those signals to someone else who is similarly equipped, and demodulating and inserting the signal into the person's nervous system, those two people could become extensions of each other? That is, one person could move the other person's body, see through his/her eyes, hear through his/her ears, etc. with the same control that he/she would have over his/her own faculties.
   I like mayonnaise, real mayonnaise. I don't like low-calorie mayonnaise. This is too bad, because I don't need the additional calories and cholesterol that the real stuff offers. But why do my taste sensors prefer the food that is not as good for my body? I suspect that the answer to that question is due to the way my biological software is programmed. Somewhere in my brain, messages are received from my mouth's taste buds as food goes by. The brain interprets each set of taste messages as either "mmmm", "yuck", or something in between. Wouldn't it be nice if we could reprogram our biological software so that nutritious, low-calorie, low-cholesterol, totally healthful food would also taste delicious?
   I suppose that my inclination to do those things that make me comfortable is a very basic instinct that God has buried very deeply in my software. I also suppose that this instinct is the basis of all of my personal sin, the desire to do those things that make me feel good, even if they make someone else feel bad. Is it possible that someday mankind will be able to modify that portion of my operating code so that my instincts will become just a little less selfish and a little more altruistic? What If I could reprogram my brain so that I would derive my greatest happiness from serving others in whatever capacity I could, instead of myself? A society of boy scout robots, you say? Perhaps, but would the results of this practice (whether by surgery, medicine or some other technology) make us any more robotic than we are now? (After all, if I had to live with a robot, I would certainly prefer to live with a kind, considerate one than with a selfish one.) Would this usher in an new era of genuine world peace, love, and brotherhood, or would it create some sort of artificial euphoria?
23. Some thoughts about doctors and health costs
Here are some suggestions that may help keep medical expenses in line:
   How about a software program that laymen could use to diagnose their own medical problems? This program would lead the user through an interactive exchange of questions from the computer (with a list of multiple choice answers) and the answers from the user. This way the patient could benefit from the cumulative medical knowledge available today, instead of just one doctor.
   If one of the causes of escalating health costs in this country is the lavish life styles that doctors enjoy, then perhaps we should consider making medicine a career that is equal to say plumbing. Like a trade school for plumbing, why don't we offer medical trade schools that instruct its students how to perform heart surgery, diagnose and treat pneumonia, etc. Isn't this far less expensive than requiring four years of under grad work (learning philosophy, political science, and other non-relevance) before he/she can go on to med school?
   If, however, the AMA is too powerful to allow a trade school grad to call himself a medical doctor, then what would happen if someone opened hospitals that are staffed by medical trade school grads. If these "hospitals" and "doctors" could not legally call themselves real hospitals and doctors, then why not call them something else, like "recuperators" and "healers". Could such a plan be implemented legally as long as the distinction is made clear to the patient? Could a healer be allowed to write a prescription?
24. Getting Clothes Clean
The following thoughts pertain to washing machines and dryers:
   Why can't a front loading washing machine have a built-in dryer function?
   If they can't have a built-in dryer, why are they never built as one vertical unit (i.e., dryer on top of washer) to conserve floor space?
   Why can't that dryer (or any dryer) be powered by an internal kerosene heater?
   Why aren't dryers made with a built-in humistat that monitors the humidity inside the dryer. As the clothes dry, the internal humidity drops. When the humidity recedes to a certain level or stays at that level for a set length of time, the clothes are dry and the dryer automatically shuts off.
   Or, why not build a clothes dryer into the plenum of the house furnace? Not only would your clothes dry at no added expense, but you would simultaneously humidify your house during those dry winter months. Of course, you will need a back-up dryer in the summer.
   I have a washer that stops and emits an audible (very audible) alarm when clothes are not placed evenly in the chamber. Although this "feature" is annoying, it does keep my machine from banging itself to death during an unbalanced spin cycle. But suppose that vertical shaft in the middle of the washing chamber would spin within a holder that is mounted on the underside of the lid? Wouldn't such a design prevent an unbalanced condition?
   Then, why not design a dryer that consists of nothing more than a portable, spinning cage (similar to an oversized, motor-driven hamster exerciser). In the winter, place the dryer in front of the fireplace. In summer, the dryer goes on the back deck where the sun and breezes dry the laundry.
25. Down-Sized Kerosene Heaters
Speaking of kerosene heaters, why can't a small kerosene heater be designed that could be placed in a car's passenger or engine compartment 30 minutes prior to starting the car on a cold winter's morning? This would provide immediate passenger comfort and easier engine starts.
26. Tennis Ideas
Here's how I would ruin the game of tennis:
   Why not equip the boundary markers on tennis courts with pressure-sensitive tape instead of just painted lines. This way, if a tennis ball strikes an area that is in play, an electrical signal would be sent to an audible alarm, which the referee could use to rule on each play. The tape, however, would not send an alarm for a pressure of more than 1 pound (i.e., a player's foot). (No more line judges.)
   How would the game be affected if only one serve were allowed instead of two?
   I don't think I have ever seen a service ace on a second serve. It seems that the first serve is always used for the big boomer, while the second is more conservative to ensure against a double fault. Yet, if the server would sometimes offer the softer serve initially and occasionally gamble with a gunshot on the second, wouldn't that help to keep the other player off guard. Isn't the server similar to a baseball pitcher, who should try to avoid a predictable pattern of pitches?
   Ever have three players and you can't find a fourth for doubles? Your problems are over. One player serves to two players. If he/she wins the point, he/she continues to serve until he/she loses a volley. Then the second player serves to the two other players until he/she loses a volley, and then the third. Points are won only by the server. The first player to reach 10 points wins.
27. A Radio-Controlled Soccer Ball
It will roll in the direction that you choose. To understand this design, imagine a 10-foot transparent ball that is made of very light-weight plastic. You are inside the ball. If your weight is considerably greater than the weight of the ball, the ball will roll in the direction in which you walk inside the ball. Now, replace the big ball with a soccer ball; or at least a ball that looks like a soccer ball on the outside. The ball consists of 2 half-shells which are bolted together. Inside the ball is a radio-controlled motor (i.e., not unlike a radio-controlled toy car) that can roll on wheels inside the ball. If the motor is much heavier than the ball, the ball will roll in the direction in which the operator sets the joy stick.
28. A Balancing Device
Design a wedge-shaped object which consists of two internal chambers, water in each chamber and a battery-powered pump. Place the object on a surface with the edge of the wedge down. As the wedge starts to fall in either direction, the pump quickly pumps water from the chamber on the side toward which the wedge is falling to the opposite chamber, causing the object to move back into balance. Although I cannot think of any practical application for this idea, it could make for an interesting toy.
Now rethinking this idea many years later (2/20/00), I realize that this contraption would need to ignore Newton's third law of inertia. As the pump propels water in one direction, it causes the device to move in the opposite (just like a jet plane).
29.   The Scourge of Educational Discrimination
In this age of discrimination consciousness, why not put an end to educational discrimination? Once I was a guest lecturer at Villanova University. I provided my students information that they needed, and yet I never completed my first year of college.
If someone wants to be a lawyer, why not allow him/her to do so if he/she passes a bar examination, regardless of whether he/she graduates from law school (and must pay the stupendous tuition). Why not outlaw any advertisement or prerequisite for employment that stipulates that a certain diploma or scholastic level must be attained before consideration for a job is allowed. (E.g., the applicant must have a masters degree in zoology.) This means that any job applicant must be considered purely on his/her expected ability to perform the job to be filled, without regard to academic achievement.
#253 includes more.
30. Earth Heat
When first building a house, why not install a network of pipes beneath the concrete footing under the basement? By pumping water through this labyrinth of pipes, this could serve a geothermal heat pump.
31. Getting that Letter
Here are two thoughts about postal service:
   Why not abolish the US postal service and give it over to private enterprise? Competition always ensures better service at the best price.
   Why not assign every addressable residence a zip code extension (like they do, or tried to do for businesses). All envelopes must have a computer-readable address label, on which the sender marks the zip code and extension of the addressee. This label would be similar to the answer sheet of those standardized tests you took in high school where the answer is marked by penciling in the appropriate answer box. With this plan, the only part of the address that is handwritten would be the name of the addressee and sender, which the postal computer wouldn't read anyway.
32. Using Wood to Stay Warm
Now here are some ideas about about fireplaces and wood-burning stoves:
   Why not install a heat recovery system for chimneys on a wood-burning stove? By using segments of single wall pipe within the chaise, a thermostatically-activated fan that blows into the chaise, and a vent that provides the heated air, a significant amount of heat can be recovered. Because heat is being carried away from the single wall pipe, heavy creosote buildup will occur at this location of the pipe. Therefore, design the single wall for easy replacement.
   If the flue passes through the attic, which is the usual situation, why not design the flue so that the upper segment (i.e., the part that passes through the roof) can be removed during the warmer months. In its place, install an attic fan or turbine vent on the roof flange which is designed to accept this hardware. This idea allows the same hole in the roof to remove smoke from the fireplace in the winter and hot air from the attic in the summer.
   I suppose that the reason why the house furnace and the fireplace cannot share the same flue is because the creosote that is deposited in the flue might catch fire from the heat from the house furnace. But isn't it possible to design a flue that can withstand any chimney fire without endangering a house fire? Suppose that the flue consists of interlocking segments of concrete tubing with 3-inch walls? If necessary, there could be an insulating air chamber with an outer cover. Surely such a flue could safely sustain a chimney fire? Of course, such a flue would be very heavy. But since it originates from the basement (where the house furnace is), its base would be the concrete foundation. Where the flue passes through the upstairs, the flue could be equipped with a T segment for a fireplace.
   I have later learned that the real danger from chimney fires is that burning matter may come out the top of the chimney and set the roof on fire. Isn't it possible to design a chimney cap that allows passage of smoke but blocks everything else?
   Whenever I start a fire, I must blow on that fire to make it grow. Why not install a vent in the side of the fire chamber, behind which a fan moves air across the fire? Perhaps the fan should be belt-driven to allow a safe distance between the motor and the fire.
33. Parity in Pro Sports
To promote parity among professional athletic teams, why not use a draft method in which the available pool of draftable players includes not just the yearly college talent, but free agents as well as veteran players that are surrendered to the draft by the better teams. The number of players that a team can protect would be inversely proportional to the team's record.
34.   Learning at Home
Now that many American homes have a computer and/or VCR, wouldn't it be nice if schools would develop academic programs for students to learn at home? With this plan, students could attend school once a week, or once a month, or perhaps even less often to get homework assignments and to take tests. The "school" would really be the township library, which is greatly expanded to allow the student to check out books, videotapes, and software. Librarians would administer tests. The library would be equipped with VCRs and PCs for students that do not have this equipment at home. This would save money for the student (i.e., clothes, lunches, etc.) and for the township (busing, maintenance, etc.).
Also, wouldn't it be nice if schools offered daily homework assignments on a prerecorded telephone message that could be accessed by a touch-tone phone?
Consider also #245.
35. Modular Clothing?
As a parent of children who are constantly growing out of clothes, I say that it's time for modular clothing. Such clothing would not have stitched seams, but rather would have seams that are held together by Velcro. As the child grows, the seams could be easily expanded.
36. Save that Bag!
Why doesn't someone design a non-disposable vacuum cleaner bag? Such a bag could attach to the vacuum output by an elastic band. When the bag is full, it could be easily removed from the vacuum, its contents could be dumped into the trash, and the same bag could be replaced.
For several years now, after I remove my full vacuum bag, I carefully unravel the bottom of the bag, dump the contents out the hole I created, roll up the bag again, staple it, and continue my job. (You may want to open up the bag outside.)
37. Easier Drug Enforcement
Perhaps we should forget about destroying Colombian coca fields, interdicting planes and ships, and rounding up neighborhood pushers. What would happen if we focus all our money, time, and energy on the user and the potential user? This would include the arrest, prosecution, incarceration, asset-confiscation, and mandatory rehabilitation of the user, as well as education of school children. After all, it's the user that sustains the industry. Because all we need is more law enforcement officers that would pose as pushers and more facilities to hold users while they dry out, it's the easiest way to solve the problem.
38. Electric Clothing
Remember electric socks? Why not use a rechargeable battery to electrically heat coats, hats, and gloves too?
39. Back to Baseball
These are some strategies that individual players and managers could try:
   Why doesn't some clever pitcher practice an underhanded release of the ball at the beginning of a full windup? By following through with the rest of the windup, such a delivery could be very distracting to a batter (if not used too often).
   When pitching from the stretch with a runner on first, a right-handed pitcher should practice flipping the ball behind his back, underhanded, to the first baseman. Because the pitcher does not make a full turn of his body the to first base, the runner has less time to react to the pick-off. (But is that a balk? Joe Theranger says yes.)
   When a catcher clearly sees that the runner has successfully stolen second base, rather than make a futile effort to pick him off, why not throw the ball high in the air (simulating an infield popup). When the runner arrives at second and sees the ball coming down, he will run back to first to avoid a double play.
   If an amputee were equipped with an prosthetic arm that was somewhat longer that a normal arm, that person could theoretically throw a baseball faster than someone equipped with an arm of normal length. (Why a served tennis ball travels up to 120 mph compared to a 95 mph baseball is because the distance from the shoulder to the point of release is greater.)
   If a batter has two strikes and less than three balls on him, first base is empty, and the next pitch is wildly overthrown, he should swing at the pitch (for strike 3) and run to first because the catcher did not catch the ball.
   Why don't more baseball GMs hire midgets like Bill Veeck once did?
40. Robotic baseball
Can't someone design a pitching machine that throws a curve, slider, knuckleball, etc. Then, why not design an arcade game around such a pitching machine. The walls could measure how hard a ball is hit and where. A well-hit ball would be a base hit; a poorly hit ball would be an out. The machine would pitch variable-speed pitches toward the strike zone, which would be a box behind the plate. If the ball hits the box, it's a strike. If not, it's a ball. A wire would connect to the stern of the bat to determine if the batter swung at a pitch and missed. This cable would also relay to the machine when the batter first made contact with the ball. The machine measures the amount of time between bat contact and the wall to determine if it's a hit or a fly-out or ground out. A player would get three outs.
Also, has anyone thought of designing a machine that throws grounders for infield practice, or flies for outfield practice? Like the machine describer previously, could such a machine mix the menu to provide a shortstop with hard grounders to either side, soft ones up the middle, and hard liners overhead?
41. Football Innovations
My ideas on how to improve football
   Allow each team three video appeals per game.
   When a game ends in a tie, a good tie-breaker would be the placement of the ball on the 50-yard line. Put the entire team's roster in each end zone. At the referee's signal, all players from both teams would try to recover the ball. The team that recovers, wins.
   Dispense with the 10-yard chain and give each team 20 plays to move the ball to the end zone.
   Or, give each team one offensive play, then the other team gets one offensive play. If a turnover occurs, the recovering team can have the ball at either the point of recovery (plus any return) or at the original line of scrimmage.
   Count all incomplete passes as fumbles, which can be recovered by either team. But an incomplete pass that goes out of bounds returns to the original line of scrimmage.
   Count all touchdowns as 2 points, with an extra 1 point or 2 points depending on the type of conversion. Count all field goals and safeties as 1 point.
   Instead of four downs per possession, why not count how many plays a team requires to score a touchdown, and then compare how many plays are needed by the other team. Like golf, the team with the lower score wins. (Interceptions and fumble recoveries do not turn the ball over, but either add 5 to the offensive team's tally or subtract 20 yards from their field position, at the discretion of the defensive team.)
42. More Football Innovations
In football again, why don't defensive teams alternate which players will rush the opposing quarterback on passing plays? For example, suppose one of the defensive ends guard the tight end, while the opposite linebacker rushes. There would still be a 4-man rush, but, because the rush comes from a different direction, one offensive lineman would have no one to block, while blockers on the opposite end of the line would be overloaded.
43. Mr. Dee
Mr. Dee is a robot that can play defense in a game of basketball one-on-one. Mr. Dee is programmed to place himself at all times on a line between the goal and the naval of the ball handler, who would wear a special belt that emits an infrared signal. Mr. Dee would determine his proper location by training on this signal as well as a similar signal that is transmitted from the base of the backboard. Mr. Dee is equipped with movable arms that wave in the air when a shot is attempted (the belt rises, as for a jump shot). If contact is made with Mr. Dee's hands or arms, a foul is assessed to Mr. Dee. But if contact is made with Mr. Dee's body, an offensive foul is called.
44. Bus Fares
When taking the bus, I notice that a measurable amount of time is spent paying the driver, who has to make change and provide a receipt. But, before the driver can accept the fare, he/she must determine the passenger's destination and thereby charge the proper amount. Instead, why not issue each passenger an electronically readable card (perhaps a major credit card would do). When the passenger steps on the bus, he/she inserts the card into a card-reading machine, which reads the his/her name into an electronic file that also stores the bus's odometer reading when boarding. The machine quickly returns the card to its owner. When departing, the passenger reinserts his/her card. The machine adds the new odometer reading to the file and returns the card with a slip of paper that indicates the total miles traveled and the charge. The passenger would receive a monthly bill in the mail. This plan would eliminate transfers, because the passenger could be charged for the total direct distance traveled (measured as the crow flies from the point of boarding on the first bus to the point of departure on the last bus), rather than the total mileage traveled on the bus(es).
45. Sore Throat Protection
There has never been a way to keep cold air away from my face, throat, and lungs while exercising or working strenuously outside on a very cold day. This idea will change all that. Start with a football helmet that is equipped with a full face, Plexiglas wind shield. Then insulate the helmet, especially around the wind shield. Make sure that the coat collar can tuck inside the lower edge of the helmet. To prevent exhaled breath from condensing on the inside surface of the wind shield, use either miniature windshield wipers or exhale through a compartment that is separated from the compartment through which the user can see. By building a type of heat exchanger into the helmet, the warm, exhaled breath can heat up the cold air that is to be inhaled. If this method does not work, heat the air with a battery pack.
46. Hair (11/9/90)
Here are some irrational ideas about haircuts.
   After years of planning, I finally gave myself a haircut on 11/9/90 at 2 AM. (Kathy was sound asleep.) I gathered up hair in bunches as close to my scalp as possible in my left hand between my thumb and forefinger. With a pair of sharp scissors, I cut all hair that extended above my thumb and forefinger. I repeated this process until my entire head was cut. Later, Kathy said I was crazy and some other words, but she already knew that anyway.
   This world needs a haircut machine! Start with a metal football helmet. Install electrodes inside the helmet which rest on every square inch of the user's scalp. The electrodes are insulated from the helmet itself. Generate a 30 Kvolt static charge between the helmet and the electrodes, similar to that on the CRT of a full-size color TV. (Because all electrodes are at the same potential, no harm should come to the user.) This will cause the user's hair to stand up on his/her scalp. Insert a grid screen around the standing hair and slice off all hair above the grid.
47. Public corruption
The acceptance of money by elected and non-elected officials for favorable treatment of the payer undermines the free enterprise process and steals money from every taxpayer. Let's take the following actions to minimize this problem:
   Stiff jail sentences for every bribe giver and taker. The paid-off policeman, judge, or legislator should serve the same sentence as the criminal that he is protecting. After all, he is an equal partner in his crime.
   Restore debtor prisons for those who steal money (but not for those who incur debts due to injudicious, but legal, borrowing practices). An inmate stays in this prison until all stolen money is recovered or paid back. (A primary goal of our penal system should be the indemnification of the victim by the criminal.)
   Whenever bids are solicited from the private sector by the public sector, those bids should be published in at least three local newspapers. Also, all resulting proposals should be summarized and published with dollar amounts. This information should be presented so that any layman can easily compare all proposals; the legal notices in the Courier Post are very confusing. Finally, the winning proposal(s) should be published, and, if the lowest bidder is not selected, reasons for selection should be included.
   All contracts should be awarded by the result of a public referendum. While this process may be more time-consuming than simply allowing the township directors to do so, it's awfully tough and expensive to pay off every voter in the township. And if only a handful of voters get paid off at the polls for the award an important contract, every eligible voter in the township can only blame themselves.
48. Portable Hoops
Consider this idea for a portable basketball goal that can fit in a suitcase. The vertical support is a heavy-duty pole that can telescope into a 3 or 4 foot package. The length of the pole can be adjusted to suit the size of the players. The pole is secured in place by a flat, attachable base that sits under the tire of a parked car. The foldable backboard attaches to the pole via a collapsible frame. The rim and basket attach to the backboard using a quick-clamp mechanism.
When this idea arrived, the world had not yet seem its first portable basketball goal, which now line every suburban street across the country!
49. Little League Changes
The rules for little league should be amended to include all players that show up in both the batting and fielding lineup. For example, if 12 youngsters show for a game, the batting lineup would consist of 12 hitters and the defense would consist of 2 extra outfielders and 1 extra infielder. This rule would encourage both player attendance and participation.
50. Idea Incentives
Companies that operate an employee idea plan should implement a more tangible reward for ideas that save money for the company. Rather than a nominal $25, $50, or even $100 reward, the originator receives 50% of the projected savings for the first year. Thereafter, he/she receives 25% of all savings.
51. Public Dial-In Computers?
Why doesn't someone offer a dial-in computer service? This way, someone with just a VT220 could have the benefit of using a main frame computer. The user would be charged by the amount of time that he/she is connected.
After revisiting this idea in 1992, it's obvious that the PC has made this entry obsolete. But I still don't know why this idea didn't do well in the early to mid '80s.
52. Die Hard!
The following ideas pertain to car batteries:
   Batteries should be installed in an insulated compartment that is located inside the dash board. This location, rather than a breezy, uninsulated compartment next to the engine, would keep the battery warmer in cold weather, and thereby provide more reliable starts. The battery should be mounted on a shelf that can pull out from the dash. The battery should connect and disconnect from the battery cables as easily as you plug and unplug a lamp. A wooden box, which encloses the battery, includes a removable panel to allow the battery to connect to the cables. A handle on the box allows you to carry the battery into the house on a cold night.
   Why not equip all cars with two diode-coupled batteries? The diode coupling would allow the back-up battery to power all appliances when the motor is not running without draining the main battery (the battery that starts the car). Diode coupling would also ensure that the main battery is fully charged before charging the back-up battery. (The back-up battery could power a small heater that would maintain a minimum ambient temperature around the main battery.)
53. Sweet Dreams
When I become rich from my other ideas, I plan to buy CBN, the Christian Broadcasting Network. I will produce and broadcast top quality TV shows that exemplify Christian values, rather that merely show reruns of Lassie. But what I really want to do is produce a TV equivalent of Family Radio's Quiet Hour and Family Bible Reading. This program, which would be aired from 11 PM until midnight would consist of a chronological reading of the bible, accompanied by televised scenes from the relevant portion of scripture. Spoken portions of the bible would be spoken by the actors. Background music would be used, where appropriate, for greater affect.
54. Fifty
Here's a new card game called Fifty. Using a standard deck of playing cards, two, three or four players can play this game which roughly resembles blackjack. The object is to be the player that either makes a tally of 50 or comes closest to 50 without going over. Each player is given all 13 cards of one suit (i.e., hearts, diamonds, clubs, or spades). From his/her 13 cards, each player selects five cards (4 players), six cards (3 players) or seven cards (2 players), which must remain hidden. To determine who goes first, a sixth card is selected by each player. All players display the sixth card at the same time. The player with the lowest card selects who goes first. If two players show the same lowest card, a seventh card is selected and revealed by all players. The cards that determine playing order cannot be subsequently added to the player's hand. Play begins with the designated starting player removing one of the cards from his/her hand and placing the card face up for all players to see. The second player does the same thing, adds the face value of the first player's card to that of his card, and announces the total. (Jacks count 11, queens 12, kings 13, and aces 1). The third player again puts down a card and announces the new tally. On each turn, a player can either play a card, pass (i.e., no card is played and the tally moves to the next player), or fold (i.e., removes himself/herself from the playing rotation for this hand and cannot score any points). A player can pass only once. After that, he/she must either play or fold. If a player cannot play a card without causing the tally to exceed 50, that player must either pass or fold. (The tally cannot exceed 50.) A player that makes the tally equal to 50 gets three points. A player that makes the tally closest to 50 without actually reaching 50 gets 1 point. Play to 10 points.
55. Scrabble Corruption
These are some ideas about the game of scrabble:
   Ever notice how the game often becomes locked up; sometimes even early in the game, and all players have either an abundance of either vowels or consonants? To help this problem, divide the pool of letters into two separate groups that consist of vowels and consonants. This will allow all players to have a more desirable distribution of letters in his/her rack.
   For a really challenging game of scrabble, have all letters (both selected and unselected letters) visible to all players. This will create higher scores and much more complicated strategies.
   As a contest, see who can set up a scrabble board and letter complement that will net the maximum score for a single turn. The word that I create is morphophonemics, which yields a score of 833, not including side words. Before my turn begins, the top row of the board includes the letters in plain text. On my turn I add the italicized letters (m, p, h, e, and ics). Notice that I will cover three triple word scores (i.e., M, H, S) for 27 times the word value, plus a 50 point bonus for using all seven letters.
56. Polar Metro
Why not build Skydomes on Ellesmere Island? (The Skydome is the name of Toronto's new sports stadium that includes a retractable roof.) These structures could serve as protective enclosures for indoor cities in the most hostile climates throughout the world (i.e., Anarctica, Siberia, Greenland, etc.).
The UDUIT Garage is where a competent mechanic would go to fix his/her car. Equipped with every possible tool and diagnostics equipment, the customer pays on a per-hour basis while his/her car occupies a bay at UDUIT.
58. My Move
Now that computer processing speeds are becoming faster and faster and faster, I suspect that we will ultimately discover that chess is no more than a more complicated version of tic-tac-toe. I remember the enjoyment that tic-tac-toe gave me when I first learned the game as a young child. I would play with my equally naive friends for hours. Then one day I discovered that an intelligently played game always ends in a draw. From that day forward, the game lost its fascination. Will the same be found true of chess? Well, if that happens, perhaps these ideas will be needed:
   How about a game of chess in which five cards from a deck of standard playing cards are dealt to each player? A player discards a 2, 3, 4, or 5 to move a pawn; a 6 or 7 to move a bishop; an 8 or 9 to move a knight; a 10 or jack to move a rook; a queen to move the queen; and a king to move the king. The ace is a wild card which would allow a player to make any move. Either a 10, jack or king is discarded to castle the king. After a card is discarded, the player draws another card.
   Suppose a game of chess were played in which the start of the game consists of an empty board. Starting with white, each player, in turn, places any piece on any square on the playing board. No pieces may be moved until all 32 pieces are on the board.
   Giveaway II is similar to the original Giveaway, except that the winner is the player that successfully gives away all his/her pieces, except the King, or checkmates the other player. (Like the original, players must capture a piece whenever possible.)
   How about a chess game in which each player gets two successive moves.
   Have you ever made a stupid move which spoiled an otherwise interesting game? Well, if your opponent isn't generous enough to allow you to have the move over, the game's over. To prevent this, allow each player to have three appeals per game. This means that when your opponent clobbers your queen or mates your king due to your blunder, you use an appeal and the game is returned to the way it was just before your goof.
59. A New Table Saw
Why not design a table saw in such a way that a standard, hand-held circular saw could be mounted upside-down under the table, with the blade protruding through a slot on the top edge to perform the cutting? Or, design a 7-inch circular blade that could fit in a power drill, which could be mounted under a table to make a table saw.
60. Eucalyptus
Eucalyptus, which is a game in which each of the two players win by either capturing the opposing player's king or moving into the opposing player's corner square, is played on a 5 by 5 checkerboard. Each player has a king and a pawn, both of which can move one square in any direction like a king moves in chess. Each player defends a corner. Each turn consists of moving the king and then the pawn (in that order). The pawn, which cannot be captured, is used to restrict the movement of the opposing king. The pawn cannot be moved into the corner that he/she is defending. The kings cannot occupy adjacent squares. The opposing king is captured when the king must move to a square that is adjacent to the other king. The king cannot move into a square that is occupied by either his pawn or the opposing pawn.
61.   Smart House? (5/18/90)
Why aren't we building smart houses? A smart house is like any other house except that an eight-bit computer bus is installed parallel with the electrical wiring. This will allow every household appliance to operate as a peripheral device to the home's PC. From the PC, you can control or monitor the use and electrical consumption of every outlet and appliance in the house (e.g., lights, TV, coffee pot, thermostat, radio, burglar alarm, windows [idea #114], faucets [idea #133], etc.). Perhaps the PC could monitor the utility meters (i.e., gas, electrical, water) as well. But the wiring should be installed when the house is first built. House operation could be monitored either locally or via telephone (with a touch-tone password; see ideas #71 and #134).
Page 10E of the 5/18/90 Courier Post described such a house, but their house does not appear to be run by software that is loadable in a PC.
Looking back from several years later, I suppose the most effective way to implement this idea is by assigning an IP address to everything, including the toaster, and interconnect with a 10baseT Ethernet LAN.
62. NBA Junior
Duane Causewell is a young man who belonged in Temple University only because he could play basketball. This idea is for him and countless others like him. Why not start a junior pro league? This league would consist of players ranging in age from 18 to 24 who know what to do with a basketball but not a calculus text book. Because this is a professional league, players would receive a salary for doing what they do best; perhaps a very good salary, although far less than NBA compensation. Because this idea gives young men an alternate career plan to an athletic "scholarship", the hypocrisy of "amateur athletics" that has plagued the NCAA for many years should be greatly reduced.
63. Basketball Ballet
For the past several years, the NBA has presented the Slam-Dunk competition as a sideshow to the All-Star game. While this is a very entertaining show, it seems to emphasize specific skills that not all players, albeit good players, possess. I propose that this show be upgraded to include Basketball Ballet. BB would be analogous to the floor exercise of gymnastics or free-style figure skating. Each player would be allotted three minutes to show what he can do with the ball (or maybe more than one ball); perhaps even set to music. He could end his presentation with any shot of his choosing; either thunder/tomahawk job or a soft behind-the-back lob that bounces off his head. (I would have loved to have seen Bob Cousy, Pete Maravich or Nate Archibald participate in such a contest.)
64. Tyco Houses
Now I'm not so presumptuous to think that I originated the concept of modular homes. But if home modularization has advanced to point where a homeowner can put on an addition, insert walls to split up large rooms or remove walls to make a large room out of two or more small ones, and do this with not much more trouble than it would require for a toy house built out of Lego or Tyco blocks, then no one has told me about it yet.
65. Legal Technicalities
When a law enforcement officer does not use proper methods to arrest a suspect or obtain incriminating evidence, the suspect is usually set free, regardless of how incriminating the evidence. No good!. Let's still condemn and punish the offender, but why not punish the officer as well?
66. A Better Traffic Light
If the yellow light in every traffic light would blink 5 times between the green (go) indicator and the red (stop) indicator, a driver could more accurately gauge whether he can stop gracefully or go through the light. The solid yellow indicator that is now used is awkward because the driver has no way of knowing how much time he/she has to stop or continue. This could be easily implemented in all current traffic lights.
If the driver didn't see the first of the 5 yellow flashes, he/she wouldn't know how many flashes remain until the red light. This problem could be eliminated if the yellow light would flash 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, instead of a solid yellow light. But would the numbers be visible to the driver? This would probably require replacement traffic lights.
67. How Much?
This is about the flap over whether food stores must label all products with the price. Would it be possible for grocery stores to install those infrared scanners in every aisle? I visualize several scanning guns throughout the store. These guns would be sitting in a metal holster with a cable that connects to the store computer. When a customer needs a price, he/she scans the UPC in the same manner that product is scanned at checkout. An LED display on the gun displays the price.
68. A New Way to Get There
Is there yet a geographical software program, which, when loaded into your PC, displays a detailed road map of your immediate neighborhood (i.e., within a 5-mile radius). Enter a zoom-out command and you see a more generalized 50-mile radius road map. Repeat and change your scale to 500 miles; again and see the hemisphere, etc. How much detail depends upon how much map will fit on a disk. Would one disk cover one neighborhood or several neighborhoods?
But, except for major names, this software would not display location names on the map, unless the user enters a request, such as Find Roland Avenue. The PC would display a flashing cursor at the entered site. Also, the user could define a starting point and a destination (or several intermediate destinations) on the map. The software would select the best route, and display a flashing path on the CRT.
But now for the really futuristic application. You are about to leave on a trip to an unknown destination by car. You have loaded the optimum path on a disk and now you are sitting in your car, waiting for the engine to warm up. You take your disk and load it into a drive that is mounted in your dash. A microprocessor behind your dash reads the path that you are about to take. As you pull away from your house, the micro is counting the rotations of your tires. At the appropriate time, a synthesized voice says "Barry, you are to turn right on Coles Avenue in about 100 yards". When you make your turn, the micro senses the change in the steering mechanism, resets the mileage counter, and starts counting tire rotations until the next turn. This process continues until you have reached your destination.
69. Better Visibility
Have you ever attempted to pull out onto a busy street and cars were parked on that street right up to the corner, thereby blocking your view. You have to inch your way out, trying to get a better view, and hope that any oncoming driver will understand your dilemma and allow you to make your turn. But if a mirror were installed above the left front headlight and the angle of the mirror were settable from the dash, the driver could see the traffic much more clearly. Perhaps the mirror could be retractable and disappear into a compartment behind the headlight.
70. Cheap Envelopes
How do envelope manufacturers stay in business? With a standard 8.5 x 11 piece of plain paper, anyone can make an envelope that can enclose most material that is carried by a first class postage stamp.
71.   About burglar alarms
Is there a burglar alarm that, when tripped, directs the telephone to dial a pre-selected number (e.g., the police). When answered, an automatic voice says "This is an automated intrusion detection system. A burglar alarm has been tripped at 105 West Roland Avenue. To repeat this message enter 123. To listen for evidence of a break-in, stay on the line." At this time automatic sound detectors that are planted within the house will send any voices or sounds to the listener at the other end. If the dialed number is busy or the phone is dead, a very loud alarm is activated from both inside and outside the house. The alarm can be silenced only by pressing a known switch in a secret location.
In addition to a burglar alarm, the house should have an intrusion alarm. The intrusion alarm is a non automatic system that is activated by any of several manual switches that are planted throughout the house. When someone intrudes, any member of the house can press any switch, which activates the very loud alarm. Pressing the switch a second time does not silence the alarm. The alarm can be silenced only by pressing a known switch in a secret location.
Consider also #61.
72. From Electrons to Paper (and Vice Versa) (8/10/92)
And now for my ideas about faxes, copiers, printers, and scanners:
   Is it not possible for someone to invent a fax or scanner that can read text and convert it into a data file? If so, then we could receive fax messages on our computer terminal; and then save them in a data file for future editing.
   But until such a process is available, why don't we make word processors with the capability of inserting a small box in the margin of every page that is sent to a printer. In that box would be printed the machine-readable code for the information that appears on that page. Then, when we receive a printed copy of a document that we would like to convert to an electronic file for editing or reformatting, we could feed the paper into a scanner (just like a graphic), which reads the code in the box, and creates the file. The design question is: Can the box be small enough so that it doesn't displace any of the printed information?
   This is another entry in the someone-probably-thought-of-this-already-but-hasn't-yet-told-me department. The fax and copier machines are two of the biggest bottlenecks in the office. Therefore, how about designing an automatic document handler with multiple inputs that are taken sequentially? When I have a job to copy or send, I go to the machine and see that there are three jobs ahead of me. I put my stack of originals in the fourth bin, enter my copying instructions, and go back to my desk. The printer deposits its output in one of several output trays, each of which corresponds to one of the printer users. Then, if the fax/copier is tied to the office LAN or phone system, I can be notified when the job is done or I can check the progress of my job.
   Now (8/10/92) that copiers are becoming smarter and still smarter, it seems that a larger fraction of the total cost for a copier is in the control panel where software tells the machine how to do the job. Perhaps a less expensive and more usable copier can be yours by buying a copier without the smarts but with a set of diskettes that can load the operating software into your PC, which connects to the copier. You enter your job instructions via the keyboard or mouse. The PC's color graphics should certainly make a paper jam easier to find.
   Can we streamline the following process? Enter print job at my PC; go to printer; take printout to copier to make five copies; stand in line; enter copying instructions; wait for copier to deliver the copies. Of course! Why not direct that same print command directly to the copier (that happens to be connected to the office LAN via a copy server). The server will prompt you for all parameters (number of copies, intensity, expansion/reduction, size and weight of paper, etc.). (A design problem might be what to do with copies if the sender is tardy in picking them up and other users are queued up.)
73. Spel-Chek
Every computerized spelling checker that I know about requires that you provide the program with an updated vocabulary list, with which the program compares each word in your file. If the word is not found in the vocabulary, it is flagged. This technique works well, but it seems that large amounts of memory must be required to keep the updated vocabulary.
Instead, suppose the program copied the file, and, using the copy, replaced all dingbats (i.e., non alphanumeric characters, such as ,.!$%) with spaces, arranged all words alphabetically on a single line, and displayed the result. Duplicate words are displayed on a single followed by the number of occurrences. For example, the 451 occurrences of the word the would be displayed as the (451). This way the two occurrences of the word teh are more visible.
74. Where is it?
How about a plan that would avoid misplacing and losing things around the house? To implement this plan, you will need to collect boxes of all sizes and then proceed as follows:
1. Make a floor-plan drawing of the entire house. Highlight the areas where household items are stored (i.e., closets, drawers, cabinets, shelves, etc.).
2. Get a piece of paper and pencil, and write the name of each storage area across the top of the paper. Draw vertical lines to separate each column.
3. With the paper and pencil in hand, start at any the storage area on the drawing.
4. Remove the first item from the area. If trash, discard.
5. Write the type of item on the piece of paper. Do not record trash.
6. Repeat the previous two steps for all items in the area. If duplicate items are found, keep a tally of those items without entering a new line for each duplicate item.
7. Replace all items in the area. Use the boxes to keep items separate. As you do, try to keep the different types of items separate from other types.
8. Repeat steps 3 through 7 at each storage area in the house.
9. Look at the list of items. If the same item type appears on more than one list, consolidate items at one area on your list. Choose the area that will have enough space for the consolidated stock, with a little extra for growth. As you consolidate items on your paper, update the lists.
10. Repeat the previous step for all items that appear in more than one area. Be certain that as you update your list, the original item locations remain visible. This will make it easier for you when you move items to their consolidated locations.
11. A recommended, but not required step, is grouping all similar types of items at the same area.
12. Move all items to their consolidated locations.
13. Tape an alphabetical list at each area of all items that are stored in that area.
14. Retain your original list for future updates. Store this list on your home computer, if possible.
15. If many types of items are stored throughout the house, a helpful step is to create an alphabetically-arranged master list of all items and their corresponding areas. Store this list electronically also, if you can.
Now you're ready. Whenever any new item arrives in your home, take it immediately to the master list. Find the appropriate area and store it there. If no type exists for the new item, enter a new type on the master and cross-reference list.
But if you're like me, you lack the personal discipline to drop everything while you look up and store each little item that arrives in your home. To overcome this problem, put weekly storage boxes around the house. But put a circle around that weekday when you will file all newly acquired items. Without weekly maintenance, this plan will deteriorate rapidly.
75. Goccor?
Played on a standard golf course and using standard golf rules, goccor uses a soccer ball instead of a golf ball. Instead of clubs, players use their foot to kick the ball from the tee, from the fairway, from the traps and rough, and from the green into the cup. The cup, however, must be enlarged to 1 foot in diameter.
76. $50! Do I Hear $45?
Is there really such a thing as a Dutch auction? Based on what I think I once heard, this type of auction starts the bidding a an unreasonably high price. The price is gradually reduced as the auction progresses. The first bid gets the merchandise.
77. Versatile Heat
This idea is only good if my premise is valid. That premise is that gas furnaces and oil furnaces have lots of similar hardware. If that is true, then why aren't new houses built with a dual furnace, which is a furnace that accepts both gas and heating oil. By throwing a switch, the homeowner would decide which type of furnace it is, based upon a comparison of the prevailing cost of the two fuels, or other factors.
Or, make it a 3-way furnace and include wood as well.
78. Burned Up or Mixed Up?
I commonly see pictures in the newspaper of people carrying posters in protest of incinerators and trash-to-steam projects. Their concerns are environmental, of course. But do these people really know whether or not their concerns are valid? Are they actually ignorant of what they stand for? I don't know, because I probably have fewer facts in my head than they do.
But has anyone ever thought to investigate the performance of existing incinerators or take a poll of their neighbors? It seems that we do much arguing about the merits and/or liabilities of burning our refuse, yet I just haven't seen or heard the results of such an investigation.
79. Water, Water
How badly would restaurants suffer from the loss of beverage sales if they were to put a large pitcher of ice water on every table? Because I drink lots of ice water, I would gladly patronize such a restaurant over and over. I've lost count of the number of times that I have been thirsty and frustrated that I could not find a waiter to fill up my glass with H20.
80. Oldie Medley
If I operated an oldies radio station, I would play fewer songs in their entirety and more medleys that would consist of a segment of several songs that represent a particular era, or topic, etc.
81. Olympic Tradeoff
We American sports fans take comfort in knowing that NBA basketball teams can beat the best international teams from anywhere. But how long will we enjoy this superiority if we allow international players to compete in the NBA? After all, we are effectively providing a training camp for these players so that they will be better equipped to compete against us in the Olympics and other international sports contests.
Therefore, we should insist that if Soviet players want to compete in the NBA, then American weight lifters should be allowed to train with the best Soviet lifters.
82. A Cure for Sex Addicts? (5/31/90)
On 5/31/90, I noticed that one of those tabloids that you see as you check out at the Acme had a headline "Rob Lowe checks himself into a sex addiction clinic". Now I assume that such an institution is analogous to a drug and alcohol clinic, except that a sex clinic helps to free addicts from overwhelming passions of the mind and body.
Now I don't know how they do it, but, if they are on the level, shouldn't we have many more of these type of clinics? Perhaps an addict who is about to commit a criminal act of rape or molestation would see a sex clinic's non-threatening invitation for help and reconsider his evil plans. Drug and alcohol addicts directly harm only themselves. A sex addict violates the body and self-worth of at least one other person. I bet our society has far more sex addicts than all other types combined.
83. Keep the Car Going!
Consider the following three premises pertaining to automotive maintenance:
   The chassis usually outlasts all other parts of the car.
   The chassis is the most expensive part of the car.
   The chassis is the only non-replaceable part of the car.
If these statements are true, allow me to propose a more cost-effective method of maintaining one's personal automotive transportation. Replace all parts as they fail until the chassis can take no more. Do not necessarily use new replacements. This is especially true for the more expensive parts (i.e., engine, transmission, etc.). Instead, use a replacement whose expected time of failure matches the chassis' expected time of failure.
For example, suppose the average well-maintained chassis lasts for 400,000 miles before rust and metal fatigue take over. Suppose also that the average well-maintained engine lasts 150,000 miles. As expected, your engine fails at 150,000 miles. Do not buy a new car! There are still 250,000 miles left on the chassis. Instead, replace the engine with a new engine. 300,000 miles later the second engine fails. Now, there are only 100,000 expected miles left on the chassis. Therefore, replace the failed engine with a well-maintained used engine with 50,000 miles on it.
84. Ketchup roulette
This is a game that is played with one of those little packets of ketchup that you find at a restaurant. The packet is placed in the middle of a sturdy table. All players gather around a table, so that they are all roughly the same distance from the ketchup packet. The game begins (and usually ends) when a player that is selected by lottery hits the packet with a closed fist. The packet bursts and the contents are projected through the air toward the loser's face, shirt, tie, jacket, etc.
85. Book Tabs
Dictionaries and other alphabetically-arranged reference books commonly provide recessed tabs to help us find a specific location more quickly. By reaching for J, you can go to where the J-words begin. Great idea, but because some letters start a word more often than other letters, the tabs are unevenly staggered throughout the book. This means that looking for some word beginning with S will take longer than another word that begins with X.
My solution? Put a tab every 50 pages and label that tab by the first three letters of the guide word at the top of the page. This way we will see tabs more usefully labeled EQU, FLA, GLA, HAM, etc.
86. Gas Spigot?
Why not equip all automotive gas tanks with a lockable spigot on the bottom of the tank (like the one under the radiator)? This would allow you to fill your lawnmower and chain saw while providing a safer location to store your gasoline than the red can in the garage or basement.
87. Microwave Improvements
All microwaves have "hot spots", which are areas within the oven which are hotter than others. Here are two ways in which microwave ovens can either offset their effects or use them advantageously:
   Some microwave ovens are equipped with a revolving tray to provide even distribution of heat upon the food. Why not make a wind-up, non-metallic, revolving tray that can be inserted into a cheaper model?
   The manufacturers should identify the location of the hot spots on the glass tray. This way you can put your cold cup of coffee on one of those spots and it will be heated using less energy and less time. If the manufacturer doesn't provide this information, then place a thin piece of plastic on the glass tray and turn on the oven. Mark the underside of the glass tray where the plastic is melted.
88.   Modular Shoes
Suppose that shoes consisted of replaceable uppers and replaceable lowers that are attached to each other by Velcro. That way, if either wears out, you can replace it and keep going. See also #226.
89. Mobile Headlights
Someone may have already thought of this idea, which is car headlights that follow the steering mechanism. Most car headlights sit fixed in their sockets, staring in the direction in which the car is pointing. This is fine most of the time, but what if you're driving on an unlighted circuitous mountain road at night? Those fixed lights would be shining on the ditch on the other side of the curve instead of where the car is about to go. But if the lights followed the steering, the road around the bend would be lighted.
Also, what if the headlights could be manually rotated in any direction?
90. Lessons from the Garbage Pail Kids
Although Garbage Pail kids are now passé, it won't be long until an equally offensive set of collectable cards will capture the fancy of American children. As a Christian father, I would like to see a series of cards called "Heroes of the Faith." Like baseball cards, each card features a picture and information about a different person. But these cards would feature a prominent godly man or woman from either the Bible or church history. This card would include an action picture of the subject, his/her life history and personal testimony, and a brief, but essential salvation message.
You may recall that G.P. cards were popular because parents found them disgusting. This same principle can be applied to the H.F. cards, but in a Biblical manner. For example, Isaiah's card could show the great prophet "sawn asunder" as mentioned in Hebrews 11. Because most parents, particularly unsaved parents, would find such a picture offensive, their success with children would be assured.
91. Autosave
As a PC user, I sometimes forget to save my work on a regular basis as I create data files. Hasn't some bright programmer designed an autosave program for us airheads that would automatically save our work every 15 minutes, or at a time interval that we could select ourselves? Perhaps the program could wait for the interval of time to expire and then wait for a period of five idle seconds before autosaving. This would avoid interruption.
92. Really Fast Food
It seems to me that all a person needs to eat to live is a pill that contains the minimum daily dosage of all the essential nutrients. Use an artificial hunger suppressant to stave off the feeling of hunger. And, of course, drink water. Periodically consume enough roughage to protect against cancerous atrophy of the digestive tract.
93. Soccer Twists (7/90)
Now that the World Cup is over (7/90), there have been many suggestions to improve the way in which a tied soccer game is resolved. I've heard of the sudden death overtime, or the most number of corner kicks, or flip a coin, etc. But my choice is one sudden death, 30-minute overtime, in which the first goal scored wins it. Then, if the game is still tied, compare the total time that the ball was in each end of the field. The team whose offensive end of the field had the ball more time is the winner.
Upon further thought, this idea may simply encourage teams to kick the ball to the other end of the field without any attempt to control it. A better idea might be to use the previous rule but don't start each team's clock until the ball is contacted by an offensive player in the offensive end. The clock stops when either the ball moves to the defensive end or is contacted by a defensive player in the offensive end. The clock starts again when an offensive player again contacts the ball in the offensive end. When the ball is last contacted by a defensive player in his defensive end, neither team's clock advances. In other words, the winner of a tied game would be the team that has the most accumulated time of controlling the ball in the offensive end of the field.
But why not widen the goal posts to 20 feet? A larger goal means larger scores, fewer and more easily resolved ties, and more spectator appeal.
94. Penny Exchanger
Because pennies are useless for most vending machines and automatic toll booths, why doesn't someone invent the penny exchanger? Located next to a line of vending machines, such a machine would restore our buying power by accepting five pennies in exchange for a nickel, 10 pennies for a dime, or 25 pennies for a quarter.
Although I don't remember when, this idea arrived long before anyone heard of Coinstar.
95. The Common Tangent
Another entry in the "Someone-probably-thought-of-this-before-but-no-one-ever-showed-it-to-me" column. In geometry, when you must use only a straight edge and compasses to construct a common tangent to two coplanar circles, use this method.
1. Draw a line away from the circles.
2. Pick a point near one end of the line.
3. Construct a perpendicular at that point.
4. Measure the radius of one of the two circles.
5. Measure the same distance on the perpendicular from the line.
6. Draw a copy of the selected circle at that point.
7. Measure the distances between the centers of the two circles.
8. Strike an arc in the approximate location of the center of the other circle's corresponding location.
9. Construct a parallel to the original line so that the two lines are separated by the radius of the second circle.
10. Copy the second circle using the center as defined by the arc and the parallel.
11. Transfer the location of the line on the new drawing to the corresponding location on the old drawing.
96. Number Crunchers
No one showed me this one either: Add up a bunch of integers. Then add each digit in the sum and all subsequent sums until you have a single digit. That digit will always be the same no matter how you add the input or break apart or put together the digits of the input. For example: 45, 8 153, 20. Added together, you get 226. Adding again (2+2+6), you get 10. Adding once more (1+0), the result is 1. Next, randomly rearrange all the digits in the input (1,2,3,4,5,5,8,0) to get a different input (8132+505+4), which equals 8641, which reduces to 19, which becomes 10, which becomes 1, which will always be the final result for the digits in the input.
97. Who wants it?
What this country needs is a more democratic method of choosing a site for a nuclear power plant, a toxic waste dump, a trash-to-steam incinerator, or any other undesirable establishment. Pass a law requiring that the builders offer a set amount of money to the township that allows a permit. For example, an incinerator is planned for somewhere in Burlington or Camden Counties. A ridiculously low offer can be made (e.g., $10) in to all townships. Then if there are no takers, the offer is increased until a township accepts the offer. But the accepting township must distribute the money to all residents within five miles (or some other set distance) from the proposed project. The amount that each resident receives is inversely proportional to the distance to the project and the direction of prevailing winds. Residents that are within five miles, but outside the township boundaries, are also reimbursed at the same rate.
98. Personalized Locks
I am told that all of us have a unique set of God-given fingerprints. If so, why don't we use this fact to design a security system that only the person, or persons, with the correct prints can access. I visualize a one-square inch pad that is installed next the front door of the typical American home. Press the pad once and the internal circuit is activated. Press the pad again and an infrared heat scanner looks at the "hot spots" on the pad (i.e., where the finger makes contact with the pad). A microprocessor compares the pattern with all preprogrammed patterns, and if a match is found, the door is unlocked.
99. Fish Breath
God made fish so that they can breathe under water. I understand that all fish suck in water through their mouth and the fish's gills separate the oxygen from the water. The oxygen sustains the fish's bodily needs and the old water passes out the gills on the side of the fish. Why haven't we designed a mechanical gill that can be strapped to the back of a scuba diver in the same way that air tanks are mounted? That way a diver would not be limited by the amount of air in his/her tank because he/she would have all the oxygen in the ocean to breathe.

100. Condensed Sleep
Hasn't anyone noticed that all of us waste anywhere from 6 to 10 hours a day in a most unproductive activity. It's called sleep. Of course, it's not unproductive because the body needs that rest each day. But why hasn't anyone invented artificial, or condensed sleep? Artificial sleep would compress the benefits of our nightly sack time into, say, five minutes. After five minutes, our bodies are fully refreshed and we can spend the remainder of the night doing something else.
101. Real Graphics
Is it necessary to use computerized graphics when designing a software game? For example, could a game of computerized baseball use videotaped footage from actual major league baseball games, instead of cartoons? If the computer player who plays for the team in the field selects a curve ball, the monitor would show a videotape of Frank Viola throwing a curve in a real game. The batter would either take or swing at the pitch, depending upon the joy stick entry, and an appropriate tape of Jose Canseco either swinging or not swinging would be displayed. This game would appear like watching a live game on TV, except the computer players determine the outcome.
102. Innovations for the old Mechanical Advantage
I guess that every athlete knows that using anabolic steroids produces additional strength. But wouldn't a more effective method of achieving great physical strength be attained surgically, rather than chemically?
To explain, the muscular and skeletal systems work together to form a third class simple machine. Using your arm as an example, the elbow is the fulcrum and the bones in your lower arm (i.e., femur and humorous) are the lever. The biceps, which is in your upper arm, attaches to the femur and humorous by muscle ligaments near the elbow. When the biceps contracts, the ligaments pull on the lower arm, which causes the arm to bend. The arm is a third class simple machine because the working force (i.e., the biceps) is acting on the lever between the fulcrum and the weight (i.e., whatever the hands are holding).
If there were a surgical method by which the biceps ligament could be detached from the femur and humorous and reconnected to the same bones at a point further from the elbow and closer to the hands, the mechanical advantage would be higher. This means that the same biceps muscle could lift more weight.
103. Faster!
If a miniature jet engine was embedded into both heels of a pair of athletic shoes, wouldn't that allow a runner to run somewhat faster? Each engine would thrust the runner's non contact foot forward at a more rapid speed. Would it make enough difference to allow me, a 42-year old sofa athlete, to take the '92 Olympic 100-meters? Could these shoes be made to operate silently and without any visible emissions? After all, some might be suspicious if I break the tape sounding like a 747 while my heels are belching clouds of carbon monoxide.
104. Vehicular Reliability
Can a car be equipped with redundant, load-sharing motors, so that if one fails, the malfunctioning motor can be disconnected from the drive shaft. This would allow the car to be driven home or to a garage using the good motor? Otherwise, the car would be stuck somewhere.
Perhaps the transmission and drive shaft can also be redundant also. Can the universal joints be designed to accept input power from two drive shafts, send the total power to the wheels and be able to disconnect a drive shaft from a malfunctioning motor or transmission?
105. Penny's Idea
Now this idea is not original because I got this from Penny, who is a comic strip character that explained this idea in the funnies section of the October 10, 1964 Philadelphia Inquirer. (I found the paper under some attic insulation while working on our two-bedroom addition.)
Anyway, Penny's dad puts down the paper that he is reading and asks, "What can be done about the high school dropout problem"? (a big problem in '64).
Penny, a high-schooler herself, replies "Savings stamps".
When her dad asks for an explanation, she describes how students could earn academic savings stamps through good grades and attendance. Savings stamps could be redeemed for valuable prizes upon graduation from 12th grade.
As Penny explains in the last window, "Who's going to drop out, when a new convertible is waiting to take them home from graduation exercises"?
It's a great idea. When I think of who should pay for the prizes, I'll add that to this idea.
106. Monopolization
Is there yet a board game that teaches us how to invest our money. I visualize a game similar to Monopoly, in that as we move around the board, we encounter various financial windfalls and setbacks. This game, which I call Investment, allows us to reinvest part or all of our assets each time we pass Go. We can put some of our money in high-access, low-return bank saving accounts; some can go to higher return CDs, which lock up our money for various lengths of time; we can rollover or reallocate IRAs. Investment in municipal bonds or mortgages give us a great return, with very poor liquidity; while some money can go to Wall Street for some highly speculative activity.
Each time we pass Go, certain investments mature. We reinvest this money, looking for the best return, while ensuring that we have enough money readily accessible to cover short term expenses that we encounter around the board. If we are too conservative (i.e., high liquidity/low return), we find that our income does not keep pace with our expenses and we become poorer. But if we are too risky, we may be stuck with high-interest short term bank loans or penalties that are incurred when breaking our CDs.
107. Sit on the Floor!
There is only one department store that I have ever visited that has benches in the shopping aisles for weary shoppers; and that store has just one bench! Is store management afraid of loitering by either shoppers or employees? I can't visualize K-mart becoming a teen hangout, like 7-11, just because it has a few benches. Consider the benefits. Tired husbands and children have a place of refuge while inexhaustible wives and mothers pick through every thread on the bargain racks. The result; less pressure from the family to leave sooner and thereby spend less money.
108. Lazy Music (6/5/90)
An article in the 6/5/90 issue of the Courier Post tells about a man by the name of Edwin Booze whose profession is turning music sheet pages for piano players. Now I'm sure that this is an important job. But what if Wurlitzer or Baldwin equipped their pianos with a disk drive and microswitches under each key. The player loads the disk which stores the score for the music that he/she wants to play. The opening part of the score is displayed for the player on a monitor above the keyboard (i.e., where the score sheet would normally rest). As the music is played, this smart piano monitors its progress by "listening" to the signals from the keys. The musical score display automatically advances at the rate at which the piano is played.
Ok, Ok, I know what you're thinking. Let's simply fire the piano player and buy a PC to play the piano.
109. Improving your Taxes
If you feel that your township has set your property value too high, simply stop paying taxes. Eventually, the tax office will seize your property and auction it off at a sheriff's sale. Be sure to show at that auction. Be sure to beat the final bid. If, for example, your house was set at $100,000 and you were able to buy it back for $80,000, you have proven that it was overestimated.
110. Better than 1 Head?
I guess that selling dual-drive VCRs is against the law in the United States. I suppose that movie makers would go bust as people would rent movies, copy from drive A to drive B and use the copy to make further copies for all their friends. But then, can't someone with two VCRs do the same thing? Could it be that no one has ever thought of making a dual-drive VCR? It's not likely.
111. Solo Drywall
This idea explains how one person can install a 4 x 12 piece of sheet rock on the ceiling without help. You will need e eye hooks, a 12-foot 4x4, 100 feet of rope, and tools and other simple hardware. Proceed as follows:
1. Install 4 heavy-duty eye-hooks on the ceiling next to where one side of the sheet rock is to be installed.
2. Tie a 20-foot piece of rope to each hook. Install 4 more hooks on the ceiling where the other edge of the sheet rock will be. (Ensure that there is enough space between each pair of hooks for the drywall to mount on the ceiling.)
3. Pass the opposite end of 4 ropes through the corresponding hooks, forming a cradle of 4 loops hanging to the floor between the 4 pairs of hooks.
4. Drill a hole or mount a lag bolt at 4 locations along the 4x4 that correspond to the locations of the ceiling bolts.
5. At about 3 feet above the floor, mount the 4x4 horizontally in such a manner that the 4x4 can rotate along its horizontal axis. (Drill holes in each end of the 4x4 and mount screws in the studs on either side wall which insert into theses holes.)
6. Tie each rope to its corresponding point of attachment on the 4x4.
7. Drill another hole in the middle of the 4x4 in which a broom handle or other lever can be installed.
8. Place the sheet rock into the rope "cradle".
9. As you use the broom handle to turn the 4x4, the ropes wrap around the 4x4 and the sheet rock is lifted to the ceiling.
10. When the sheet rock is in its proper location on the ceiling, extend the handle through the 4x4 until it touches the floor, thereby holding the sheet rock in place .
11. Nail it up.
This idea was tested and approved in November of 1990.
112. Bali Hai?
If the conscience of a free society squirms at the thought of putting a convicted killer to death for his/her heinous crime(s), then let's use the second best option. Instead of making them wards of the state at taxpayers expense for the rest of their lives, why not find a deserted, but habitable island, and leave all such criminals there, never to return to civilization. Equip each criminal with basic tools and instructions for survival. Patrol all waters and air space for potential escapees.
113. Coin-Operated Illumination
I can understand that higher electric bills is why townships do not like to keep lights on all night at tennis and basketball courts, as well as baseball, football, and soccer fields in their public parks. Yet, there may be many people who would like to use those facilities late at night if they were lighted. So, why not install coin-operated lights? You know, sort of like parking meters. If you want to play tennis after your second shift job is over, go to the courts at 1AM, put in the coins and the lights come on. The meter shows how much time you can play tennis. When the meter says your time is low, put in more coins until you're ready to leave.
114.   Close that Window!
How often have you fallen asleep on a beautiful spring or fall evening with a gentle breeze coming through the bedroom windows only to wake up at 4AM shivering? You stumble across the room to close the window and find a blanket before you can return to bed. Is there anything more ridiculous and wasteful than a furnace that is trying to heat a house with open windows? Isn't it time that someone offered us an automated window control device? Such an invention would compare the outside temperature with the setting of the inside thermostat. Windows would open and close automatically as the outside temperature goes up and down.
Consider also #61.
115. Posted Copays
Let's consider a better type of health plan. You know how the HMOs advertise that they don't have the deductibles, the forms, and the cash flow problems that are inherent with the indemnity plans. Yet, as those of us who know, the HMOs are not without their red tape. For example, finding a participating physician, getting the referral from the primary care physician for a participating specialist, finding a participating lab, getting a follow-up referral because the first one only covers 2 visits, etc.
Well, why not make a health plan in which the insurer sends out a form to every physician in the area in which the insurer states how much the physician will receive from the insurer for every type of medical service. The physician then sets his/her copay for each type of service and responds to the insurer with the amount of each copay. The insurance company publishes a catalogue of every physician and his/her copay for each type of medical service rendered. All participants in the plan can then choose whatever doctor they please with the prior knowledge of how much the copay will be.
116. How to Cut it Right
Installing one piece of linoleum on a kitchen or bathroom floor should not be that difficult regardless of how many cuts and indentations there are. Here's how:
1. Begin with a stack of newspapers and masking tape.
2. Lay out the newspapers so that the entire floor area is covered.
3. Tape the newspapers together.
4. Use the taped up newspapers as a template for cutting out the linoleum.
5. Attached the new flooring. It will fit perfectly.
I tested and confirmed this idea in November 1999 when I refloored the upstairs bath room.
117. Thermal Photography
I have learned that thermal photography actually allows you to photograph history. If such a picture is taken of a chair in which someone has recently been sitting, the thermal photograph will show an image of the person due to the residual heat that was transferred from his/her body to the chair.
Suppose the sensitivity of such a camera could be magnified to such a degree that the residual heat of someone that sat in the same chair hundreds or even thousands of years ago could be detected. Using such a device would allow us to verify all the recorded events of human history.
Outrageous? Probably, but doesn't the temperature of an object that is either warming or cooling to an ambient temperature approach that ambient temperature in an exponential fashion? This means that no matter how long ago that the pie came out of the oven, it's temperature will always approach, but never quite equal, the temperature of the room in which it is placed. If the camera could always sense that differential, perhaps we could look into antiquity.
One problem though. This whole theory assumes that the ambient is fixed, which it usually is not.
118. VCR Clarity
Have you ever noticed that when a photograph is made from an instantaneous segment of a VCR tape, the picture is fuzzy? If a camcorder is invented that produces 35 mm quality on any instant of the tape, professional children's photography will become much easier.
119. Car Window Options
Nearly all automotive vehicles have windows that roll up and down. Why don't car manufacturers include screens and opaque panels that roll up and down as well? That way cars can offer ventilation without insects or total privacy, which would be especially nice for camping vehicles.
120. Customized Calendars
Why not offer a service in which we make customized calendars? Such calendars could be produced on a PC and would not only include the standard holidays (i.e., Easter, July 4, Christmas, etc.) but also the holidays that are unique to the customer (i.e., Aunt Lizzy's birthday, Fred and Alice's 27th anniversary, etc.). The customer could fill out a form indicating what he/she wants to say on each of the 365 days of the year. Using a scanner, someone's picture could appear on the square for his/her birthday.
121. Billiard Conversion
Now I'm sure that someone has designed pocket inserts for a pool table to convert it into a billiard table. These inserts would replace the pockets with rails and thereby extend the rail all the way 122.around the table. (They just haven't told me about it yet.)
122. Wall Cords
For many years now we have plugged the cord from the vacuum cleaner into the wall outlet. The idea works well, but I can't help wonder if we do it backwards. Should the cord be mounted on a retractable mechanism in the wall and pulled out from the wall and connected to a fixed connector on the vacuum cleaner when it's time to clean up?
123. Universal Lids
If you're like me (God help you if you are), you have finished dinner, cleared the table, found a Tupperware container for the leftover Brussels sprouts, and shouted epithets (or at least thought them) as you disassembled the kitchen in search for the matching lid.
Why doesn't Tupperware, or some other manufacturer of plastic food storage containers, eliminate lids? Instead, design the base of every container to form the lid for another container which attaches from beneath. A stack of several containers could fit in the refrigerator. Each container, which would have the same length and width for universal connectivity, would vary in height to accommodate different quantities of leftovers.
124. A Better Smoke Detector
The smoke detector might be the most important appliance in your house. This may be especially true if the wiring in our walls becomes flaky late at night. Although this once happened to us one time, Jesus showed Kathy barely perceptible puffs of smoke coming from our dining room wall. We traced the source to a very hot wire connection that was wrapped with only tape before any harm could occur.
Here's how a smoke detector can be improved:
   Why does my fire inspector specify an AC-powered smoke detector for my house? If the fire starts in the switch box in the basement, there will be no power to detect the smoke. DC-powered detectors can fail when the battery grows old. Instead, why not have an AC-powered detector with a built-in rechargeable Nicad battery?
Although several electrical department salesmen from home improvement stores like Rickels, Channels, Hechingers, etc. have told me that they have never heard of this idea, I can't believe that I am the originator of such a simple improvement.
   And how many times have you disconnected your smoke detector just so you wouldn't listen to that piercing and endless shrill just because you overcooked the roast? And then you probably forgot to reconnect the alarm later. To avoid this dangerous situation why not add to the detector a delay button, which, when pressed, disables the detector for one half hour. At that time the detector reactivates.
Too late! On April 23, 1993 I saw a Rickels ad with this device advertised.
   If you live in a large house, you're supposed to have more than one smoke detector. But if you're asleep on the second floor and the alarm activates in the basement, you won't wake up until the smoke is dense enough to climb two levels.
Wouldn't it be nice to have a smoke detector network in which all detectors in the house activate when any one detector activates? Of course you could interconnect your detectors by running wires through your own walls. But such a network would be time-consuming to build and vulnerable to fire itself.
Could a cost-affective wireless network be feasible? Remember those key chains that activate an audible signal when you clap your hands? Could this type of technology be build into a smoke detector for greater protection? Such a detector would have a switch that would disable the network feature for daytime operation. Otherwise, every household noise might activate the network.
   Why not install in the kitchen a special smoke detector that has no audible alarm? When activated, it transmits a signal that turns off the stove.

125. Fewer Church Interruptions
Church ushers should rope off the last one or two rows until the sermon begins. That way, late-comers can easily slip in without disturbing the service.
126. Coed Tournaments
Do professional women golfers have the same, or nearly the same, average scores on the same golf course as the men? If so, I'm surprised that the women haven't pressed for entry into the same professional golf tournaments as the men. After all, there's more money there.
Furthermore, why do we have separate tournaments for men and women in chess, pool, and many other non-athletic games?
127. Type B Raise
For as long as I have been employed in the American work force, I have only received Type A merit increases. By that I mean that I have been paid more money for the same 40 hours of work each week. Before I was married and took on many more financial obligations, I may have preferred to receive a Type B salary increase. Such an increase would provide me the same pay for fewer hours each week.
128. Word Processing Improvements
Here are some ideas about how to improve a word processing software:
   Jsbr upi rbrt yu[rdf s gre ;omrd pg eptfd smf yjrm gpimf yjsy uit jsmfd ertr mpy [tphrt;u [pdofpmrf pm yjr lrunpstf.
Have you ever typed a few lines of text and then discovered that your hands were not properly positioned on the keyboard? Well, I have. Rather than cut all the mumbo-jumbo, wouldn't it be handy to select the text that was entered incorrectly and enter the Offset command. The keyboard would responds with the prompt LEFT or RIGHT. If your hands were centered on the H key instead of the G key, enter L to offset the text by one key to the left, followed by Return. The monitor would then offset the text to the left by one character and correctly print the opening sentence:
Have you ever typed a few lines of text and then discovered that your hands were not properly positioned on the keyboard?
If you were two or more characters off, repeat the command as many times as necessary.
   Why don't more programs allow you to superimpose two or more characters. For example, it would be nice to put a + and a - in the same character space to get +.
   How about a word processing program that lets you design your own special characters? Such a feature would present a blowup of one character block, in which I could click on all the pixels that are to be displayed.
   We all know that every leading bracket needs a trailing bracket. Why hasn't someone included a routine that searches for every occurrence of (, [, or { and ensures that there is a corresponding ), ], and }?
   Similarly, shouldn't the program be able to check for a ? after any sentence that begins with Who, What, Where, When, Why, or How?
129. A Better Cue
When playing pool, I find that my left hand is not quite big enough to provide a secure base for the cue as well as an opening between my index finger and my large finger that is big enough to allow the cue to easily protrude and retract in preparation for the shot. However, if the cue were to be inserted into a plastic tube with an ID just larger than the cue shaft and that tube were held in my non-shooting hand between the same two fingers, I could squeeze the tube hard enough to get the base of my thumb on the table for a more stable base, while still allowing the cue to move easily in the tube. When not shooting, the tube can be carried on the non-shooting hand or attached to the cue.
130. The Best of a Moped and 10-Speed
The moped is a great idea, but why aren't mopeds designed with an emergency option such that if the motor fails, the rider can disengage the motor from the chain and peddle home without trying to turn over the motor on each push? Having read my moped manual further, there is such an option, but because the pedals are so high and the bike is low to the ground, they are difficult to operate.
131. Unit Conversion
Why don't PC's have a unit conversion program so that I can easily convert 4.65 inches to centimeters, or 56 kilograms to pounds, or 68 degrees Fahrenheit to Centigrade? Such a program would let me convert without remembering conversion factors or equations. I visualize that this program would have a top menu that would let me select length, weight, time, temperature, area, pressure, mass, speed, volume, energy, power, angular displacement, etc. Then, the program would display an entry field, two unit columns (i.e., From and To), and a result field. If I select length, I enter 4.65 in the entry column, I click on "inches" in the From unit column, I click on "centimeters" in the To column. The result field then displays 11.811 cm. Finally, the result window would offer a Repeat button, which, when selected, prompts me for another inches-to-centimeters conversion.
132. Solo Frisbee
Here's how you can have fun with just yourself, a Frisbee, and a back yard with at least 100 feet of running room: Standing at one end of the yard, launch the Frisbee across the yard at an angle of at least 15° from the ground. Then sprint as fast as you can and try to catch it before it lands. Throwing the Frisbee with a vertical component as well as a horizontal component causes the Frisbee to hover in the air before settling to earth. As the angle is increased, the hovering effect increases; in fact, the Frisbee tends to back up toward the thrower at larger angles. After perfecting that trick, try to throw the Frisbee with a diagonal tilt 30° to the right of the intended running path (left of the path for a left-handed thrower). A perfect throw causes the Frisbee to slice back toward the running path just as you arrive.
133.   Auto-Faucet
How about a thermostatically controlled bath tub faucet? Such a faucet would have a built-in thermostat that measures the temperature of the water as it enters the tub. If the temperature drops below the desired temperature (manually set by the bather), the hot input is automatically enlarged or the cold is constricted, or both. If vice versa, then vice versa. See also #61.
134.   Call Repeat
How about a telephone answering/originate machine that records a message that you want to deliver to someone who is either not home or whose phone is busy. After recording the message, the machine attempts to call every five minutes. When the destination answers the call, the message might say "This is a prerecorded message for Fred Snodgrass from Barry Ford. If you are ready to receive the message, press 1". When the receiving party is ready to receive the message, he/she presses 1 on their touch-tone phone. The machine then sends the message. When complete, the machine might say "Message is complete. press 1 if you want to hear the message again, or press 2 to disconnect." See # 61.
135. Reversing the Door
I guess the reason why the front door on my house opens inward, rather than outward, is because a burglar could simply pop the hinges, which would be facing the outside, to get into the house. Yet a door that opens to the outside has the nominal advantage of providing a little more free space in the living room (or whatever room has the front door). The answer is hinge locks, which are not-yet-designed security hardware that can be added to existing door hinges that prevents a B&E by lifting the hinges.
But there are two original designs for a front door, which would be better:
   Why not have door hinges that turn in sockets that are mounted in the upper and lower sections of the door frame? The turning posts, which would be mounted in the top and bottom edges of the door, would be retractable from the inside to allow installation and removal.
   Better yet would be a sliding door that disappears into the wall when the door is open. (When building the house, the wall studs next to the door would be turned sideways to provide the channel for the door.)
136. Universal Licensing
I'm surprised that the New Jersey Department of Motor Vehicles doesn't require licensing of all vehicles that use the public roads and highways. This would include bicycles. If the police were empowered to stop anyone, including children, that is operating his/her bike irresponsibly and impound the bike or issue a citation, the roads would be safer.
137. Less Car
Since I have been riding to and from work on my moped, I have noticed that most cars are occupied by only one person, the driver. This means that nearly everyone is getting 10 to 30 miles per gallon, when they could get 100 miles per gallon, if they rode a moped like I do. But a moped cannot be used comfortably or safely in the winter.
Therefore, why isn't Detroit designing a single-passenger car that travels no faster than 35-mph? Or, perhaps even better, why can't I buy a Plexiglas enclosure for my moped that would keep the winter winds off my face when I ride on cold days.
138. Amusement Ride Reservations (9/7/91)
I have discovered that when I take my kids to Great Adventure or Dorney Park, I spend most of my day standing in lines. It used to be that taking a vacation day in the middle of the week would help. No more! Wednesday August 28, 1991 had big lines on all the best rides at Dorney. We arrived at 5PM and spent $40 for four admissions (and a free baby). The baby got lots of kiddy rides, but the rest of us averaged about 5 rides each.
The problem seems to be a little less severe at amusement parks where you pay for each ride. Such amusements are more common on the boardwalk at the Jersey shore. There you buy tickets which are tendered for each ride. On Saturday 9/7/91 the lines were a little less daunting at Gillian's Wonderland at Ocean City, New Jersey. But, that was a week past Labor Day.
What would happen if an amusement park scheduled certain days in which the rides operated by appointment? Such a park would schedule rides weeks, months, perhaps seasons ahead of time, if necessary. After I make my non refundable payment in advance and I would receive a ride authorization that would look like this:
Ride authorization for Barry Ford on Tuesday September 10, 1991:
   5:30     Merry-Go-Round
   5:50     Tilt-A-Whirl
   6:15     Ferris Wheel
   6:40     The Hercules Roller Coaster
   7:05     Free Fall
   7:25     Rasputin's Revenge
At my scheduled appointment, I get on board. Because I have guaranteed, no-wait seating, I would probably pay more. If I miss my appointment though, tough. My seat would be taken by someone with a general admission pass.
The park could still offer general admission to fill all unused rides due to either non-reservation or no-shows as well as the rides that are designated for general admission. Because GAs have no guarantee of getting any rides at all, they should pay less to get in.
139. Whose Phone is Ringing?
The trouble with working in an office environment in which my office is surrounded in a sea of other offices is that when the phone rings and you are not right at your desk, you hurry back to your desk only to find that it's your neighbor's phone. But suppose that each phone is equipped with a lamp that is wired to a location above the office partitions. Then you can see a ringing phone from across a labyrinth of offices.
140. Intra-PC Security (10/91)
Now I know that there's lots of security software out there that prevents unauthorized people from using your computer. But what about a situation in which one computer is shared between several users, such as in the home? Is there a security feature that allows a user to log in and have access to his/her portion of the hard drive only?
Later (10/91), I have discovered that many security programs segment the hard drive for different users. Still, only Jesus showed me.
141. Roll it Up
Here's an interesting game that you can play with your children while you're in Sears waiting for your wife to finish her shopping. You will need a coin, preferably one at least the size of a quarter, and a tiled floor. A carpeted floor is OK, but not as good.
Sit on the floor about 10 feet apart. Pick out a tile in front of you which will be your opponent's goal. Try to roll (not slide, but roll) the quarter into the square in front of your opponent. He/she then attempts to roll the quarter into the square in front of you.
142. Bench Press Spotting
This is an original idea that I implemented way back in the summer of 1965. I don't think anyone has yet copied this idea.
It's about weight benches. You know, the things that hold the bar and iron plates that you bench press. Well, everyone who bench presses needs a spotter, the fellow who grabs the bar and puts it back on the rack if the presser isn't quite strong enough to push it up himself. Twenty-six years ago I built my own rack out of 4by4s, but just in case I didn't have a spotter, I built a shelf just above my neck where I could rest the bar should I got trapped. Then I can slide my head out from under the bar.
143. Distributing the Load
The church, and many other similar organizations, has a problem. It seems that 10 per cent of the people in the church do 90 per cent of the work, or some unreasonable figure in the same ball park. This idea will help to distribute the work load.
Post a list of jobs that need to be done in a conspicuous part of the church. Each job will have a corresponding box where the volunteer can fill in his/her name and phone number and a tear-off slip containing the name and phone number of the responsible church deacon. When the volunteer finds a task well-suited to his/her skills and schedule, he/she fills in his/her name on the sheet and tears off the slip.
Try to divide this list into the smallest reasonable increment of tasks. For example, vacuum the nursery, wash the front two windows on the left side of the sanctuary, cut the bushes facing Elm Street, etc. By making the jobs as small as possible, individuals may be inclined to volunteer for more than one job.
144. Used Watch Batteries
Whenever I buy an LCD watch, all the watches in the display are already operating. This means that I don't know how long they have been operating, which, in turn, means that I don't know how much life is left in the battery when I buy it.
A better way to sell these watches is to have a screwable connector in the back bezel of the watch. When I see the watch in the display case, the face of the watch is dead. After I buy the watch, I use a coin to rotate the back screw 90 degrees, which connects the batter to the watch circuitry. The display then comes to life, I set the date and time, and walk out of the store confident that the battery is fresh.
145. External Hard Drive?
The hard drive that resides in better PCs is an expensive component, but floppy drives are cheap. So wouldn't it be nice if we could make a 20 Mbyte hard drive out of floppies? How? Could we design a mechanism that would sit directly in front of the floppy drive and that would hold 25 floppies at one time? Such a device could automatically plug in the appropriate floppy just like those old-time juke box players that would automatically pick the record and put it under the needle. We could easily replace an individual floppy in the mechanism when it is full.
146. Twisting Ears
Suppose that I want to turn a very stiff nut. I might use a pair of vice-grip pliers, but because the handle is not long enough, I have to find a longer tool. Instead, wouldn't be nice if the pliers or wrench were equipped with heavy-duty metal "ears" which would enable me to attach a 6-foot iron bar (like the one on my son's barbell set) to give me the necessary torque to loosen that nut?
147. Choosing a Movie
Why don't video rental companies offer an in-store PC that is equipped with software that will help the customer to select a movie? Such a software package would present a list of names of many widely different movies. The customer would a assign a personal rating from 1 to 5 for each of the displayed movies, or N if the customer has never seen it. From this information the software would recommend a list of compatible movies.
148. Year-Round Biking
Instead of wasting our money on one of those stationary bicycles that provide exercise and no transportation, why not get our winter workout by using our 10-speed bike mounted on a special pedestal with an adjustable rotating weight that spins with the rear tire?
149. No-Mess Gloves
Winter coats should be designed with gloves (or mittens) attached to the end of the sleeves. Only the back of each glove would be sown to the sleeve, which would allow removal of the glove. When the gloves are not worn, they would fold back and attach to the back of the sleeve with Velcro.
150. Eyeglass Thoughts
Photogray lenses are great, but they only come in glass. Plastic lenses are safer but do not darken in bright light. So why not make a laminated lens with plastic on the inside and photogray on the outside. the prescription could be in either layer.
151. Dad/Son Leagues
There are local sports leagues for children and teens of all ages and genders; also there are local sports leagues for men and women. But I have never heard of a father/son league. In this league, men from 30 to 50 would compete with their sons from ages 12 to 20. All teams would have an equal mix of older and younger fellows.
152. Common Enemy
Sometimes married couples think they have a bad marriage simply because they fight all the time, and they never realize how much they care for each other. The mutual resentment causes both parties to be convinced that the other one hates me and there's no hope. You know the storyline. A couple has a tough marriage until an outside problem forces them to merge their resources. In doing so each partner discovers both in themselves and in their partner strong mutual feelings of caring and commitment. The result: the problem saves the marriage.
The Common Enemy Company specializes in providing an artificial problem outside of their marriage. Such a hired problem would consist of a third person that poses a simple threat or undermines the character of the spouse. This would give an opportunity to the non-threatened spouse (i.e., the one who hires CE) to rise to the defense of his/her threatened spouse, thereby solidifying their marriage through the overt demonstration of concern for the partner's well-being, reputation, or dignity.
153. Cheap Printing
Good quality laser printers are expensive. Therefore, let's think up a design for a cheap printer. I know! How about a printer that's not a printer at all? Such a printing mechanism would copy the image directly from the monitor's screen. Imagine an 8.5-inch roll of light sensitive paper (like a roll of Bounty paper towels) mounted on top of a specially equipped monitor .
To print from the screen, follow these steps:
1. Set up the image on the screen that is to be printed.
2. Make the screen blank by turning off the brightness.
3. Close the monitor's front cover, which blocks out all external light from the screen.
4. Feed the paper from the roll through the special slot in the top front edge of the monitor.
5. Pull the paper down through the space between the front glass and the CRT.
6. With the paper in place, turn on the brightness for the amount of time for the proper exposure. Perhaps a built-in push-button switch could pre-measure the proper time.
7. Pull the exposed paper down through the slot in the bottom front edge of the monitor.
The advantages of this idea is that you don't have to buy a printer, and that direct-screen print adapters can be designed for existing monitors.
However, light-sensitive paper is not as nice as plain paper. The process would be cumbersome for lengthy documents. Printed pages would be bit-mapped, rather than smooth, although the exposure process may tend to blend pixels, creating a semi-smooth look.
154. Coupon Caddie
Coupon organization is much easier if you use the same type of book to hold the coupons that stamp collectors use to hold duplicate stamps. You know, each page consists of slots into which you insert coupons alphabetically by type of product (baby, cat, cereal, deodorant, etc.).
This way all coupons are visible when you look for them in the book; you don't have to go through an endless stack.
155. Down in the Sumps
Why is it that cellar sump pumps are AC-operated only? More than once my basement has been flooded on a very rainy night during which power has been lost. If a backup pump that were operated by a 12-volt car battery were installed to turn on at a level above the primary pump (i.e., meaning that the primary pump failed for one reason or another), the basement would not flood.
156. Safe Swinging
Perhaps the most dangerous recreational device is the playground swing. I remember when I was knocked senseless when I wondered into a moving swing when I was a young child. Yet there are a few design precautions that manufacturers can do to greatly improve safety.
   Suppose swings were enclosed by a low fence that is easily scaled by any child over four years of age. This precaution would protect toddlers from a collision.
   Swings not only go back and forth, but they can also go side to side if the operator is either not careful or deliberately hot-dogging. Two side-by-side swings could have a serious accident. (My children's swing set has shown me that home playground sets seem to be more susceptible to this problem than park playground swings.) But if each swing were separated by one of those 2-seat lawn swings that have little or no side-to-side variation, collisions should be greatly reduced.
157. Super-Duper Soaker
These Super-Soaker water guns have stimulated my creativity. Why not create a water weapon that consists of a long tube of water and an adjustable nozzle. When the target is in view, the assassin simply pulls back a handle which compresses the water in the tube and forces it out the nozzle. I would think that when the nozzle is set to a small aperture, long ranges would be achievable.
But make sure that the weapon is designed to be worn over the shoulder, similar to a Bazooka anti-tank gun or a Stinger anti-aircraft missile launcher.
158. Non-Jock Gym Class
Perhaps many schools already do this, but, true to the founding principles of this chapter, I share it because no one, except Jesus, has shown it to me.
Kids who are not athletically inclined hate gym class. I think that the only educators who would challenge this statement might be the enlightened ones who are smart enough to arrange the phys-ed classes so that all students of the same athletic ability attend the same gym class, without regard to grade level.
That way instead of making a fool out of Norbert Nerd at volleyball, Joe Jock has to compete with other students of his own athletic caliber, whether older, younger or the same age; and so does Norbert. The result should be a more enjoyable and competitive gym class for both Joe and Norbert.
159. Biking It
The 10-speed bike is a marvelous invention; but, all the same, there's room for improvement here also. Consider these:
   Auxiliary Power. This idea is not original, because I saw bikes that were powered by a lawn mower engine over 30 years ago. Are they illegal? If not, why has their popularity waned? Simply design a motor housing that mounts above the rear wheel. The housing can be equipped with an assortment of adapters that would accommodate a Briggs&Stratton, Tecumseh, or any other type of motor. A rubber wheel on the motor's drive shaft provides direct drive to the rear wheel. When the breaks are applied, the motor disengages from the rear wheel. The motor can be started by either the pull rope or by engaging the motor while the bike is moving. One possible problem: how much range do you get from a lawn mower's gas tank?
   Generator with Rechargeable Battery. I just bought and installed a light generator kit for my 10-speed bike. It's wonderful. I get lots of candlepower from a negligible amount of wheel drag. But I have no light when I stop at a traffic light. Wouldn't it be nice if the generator would charge up a Nicad rechargeable battery, so that I could have supplementary power whenever necessary. I could use this power for either stationary illumination or for an audible horn (a loud one!).
   Flashlight-Equipped Helmet. The bicycle helmet should be equipped with a built-in flashlight holder on top. This light should supplement the regular bike light, which always shines straight ahead. By mounting the light on top like a miners helmet, the rider can direct light to any part of the road, including the front windshield of an oncoming car that wants to turn left across your path.
   Reverse Derailleur. Have you ever stopped at a traffic light while you were in 10th gear, and, when the light changed, did you stand on the pedals to get your bike to crawl away from the intersection? Because your derailleur can change gears only while the bike is moving, you can't shift to a lower gear while you're waiting for the light, unless you do it manually and put black grease on your hands. But, if your bike had a front and/or rear derailleur that was mounted on the opposite side of the chain from the standard derailleur, you could change gears simply by setting the shifters for the proper gear (as you have done before) and then pedal backwards while your bike is stationary. Your chain will then engage the proper gear, but from the opposite direction.
160. New Games on a Pool Table
Here are a few original solitaire games that you can play on your pool table:
   Hypervolian is a solitaire game whose object is to move all 15 balls from one end of the table to the other in the fewest number of shots. To play, proceed as follows:
1. Begin by racking all 15 balls in the normal way on the head spot, not the foot spot. This way the ball return is in front of you, which, you will discover, will be more convenient than the normal method of racking on the foot.
2. Place the cue ball anywhere behind the foot spot and break the rack as hard as you can.
3. When all balls have stopped, put all the balls that have come to rest in your half of the table (i.e., the side away from the rack) in the ball return. (Balls that fall into a pocket count as balls driven to the opposite end of the table.)
4. Take any ball out of the ball return and spot it anywhere behind the foot spot. (The selected ball does not have to be the cue ball.)
5. Using the selected ball as the cue ball, try to cause as many balls as possible to move to your side of the table.
6. Again pocket all balls that stop on your half of the table.
7. Repeat steps 4, 5, and 6 until there are no balls remaining in the far end of the table.
How many shots did you need? My best was seven shots.
   Six-pocket is a another solitaire game for highly skilled players. Here's how to play:
1. Place any object ball on the foot spot.
2. Place the cue ball anywhere behind the head spot.
3. Shoot the object ball into far left corner pocket. If you miss, the game's over and you lose. Go back to step 1 and try again.
4. If you make it, place another ball on the foot spot, and, shooting the cue ball from where it came to rest on the previous shot, sink the second object ball into the side pocket that is adjacent to the corner pocket where you made the first shot.
Again, If you miss, you lose. Go back to the beginning.
5. Still in the game? See if you can finish off the remaining four pockets in succession. (Remember, you must play the shot from where the cue ball came to rest on the previous shot.)
This is a hard game. I have made many attempts over the years, but have succeeded less than five times. When you get good, see how many consecutive cycles you can make.
161. Fewer Keys
All of us have had an extra set of keys made for our house, car, or any other lockable purpose. But has anyone ever had extra locks made for our keys? If we could buy customized locks for our keys, then we could go through life holding just one key!
162. Getting Wet
When I was a child, I did a lot of boating with my parents. Though fun, swimming was far superior to boating as a summer pastime. Through my small eyes I would see all these people riding around on their boats, all the while pretending to have fun when, if the truth ever leaked out, they were totally dry.
I wondered then why pleasure craft were not designed with a special platform that suspends from the side of the bow of the boat. This platform, which is accessible from the deck by a ladder, hangs just below the water line. Passengers could sit on this platform while the boat is underway and get totally drenched. The sides of the platform would be enclosed so that no one would be washed away.
163. How to Lower that TV Cable Bill
I hope that I don't have a criminal mind, because this idea is probably illegal.
What prevents a cable TV subscriber from going to his non-subscribing neighbors and asking them, "If you pay me a fraction of my monthly cable bill, we'll string a coax between our attics and you can get all the channels that I get"? An entire neighborhood could be hooked up for the price of one connection!
On what is perhaps a more legal vein, the neighborhood could share the expense of a parabolic dish antenna, install it at a centrally located house and interconnect all the houses.
164. School Choice
Many rationally thinking people (besides me, of course) have noticed that today's public schools, in an attempt to be non-offensive to all students, have taken drastic steps to purge all textbooks from any reference to religion. While the intent is vaguely understandable, the results are sometimes ridiculous. For example, how can you teach world history without mentioning the most influential individual in history, which is Jesus Christ?
I have a solution! Instead of having just one tax-subsidized public school, which would continue to offer religiously and politically sanitized curricula, why not include several tax-subsidized schools that are operated by the private sector, such as churches and synagogues. Each parent could send their child to any school of their choice for an education at taxpayers expense. Each school could present information with any religious, moral, or political influence that it chooses. Each school must accept any student that chooses to attend that school at no charge. The amount of government subsidy to the school would be proportional to the academic progress of each student, which would be measured annually using standardized tests.
165. Camera Triggers
We all know about the expensive cameras that have built-in timers which allow the photographer enough time to get in the picture. But couldn't we have one that will fit any camera?
Simply take a simple windup kitchen timer. Remove the bell. Attach the timer to the camera so that the hammer that used to ring the bell presses the shutter instead.
Only one problem: The timer is calibrated in minutes, instead of seconds.
166. Poor Man's Photo Contest
This world doesn't need another photo contest, unless it is limited to 110 cameras only. Such a contest would measure the real skill of the photographer.
167. Game Boxes
If you were to ask me if I have a game of Monopoly, I would say yes. But if you asked me where it was, I might be able to tell you where the box and most of the deeds, tokens, dice, houses, hotels, and cards are located, knowing that many of these parts are missing because the box has deteriorated.
How about if someone makes a durable custom-made plastic container for the game of Monopoly? Such a container would have sealable compartments for every type of loose part and a lid that does not crack along the edges and spill out its contents like the original box.
In fact, why not build such a box for Sorry, Parcheesi, Hotels, and every other popular board game?
168. Pan Handlers
I become annoyed when the handles break off from cooking pans. Thereafter, the pan can be maneuvered only by using pot holders to grab the edge of the pan. This method is not nearly as safe or secure as a sturdy handle.
Instead, why not design a universal pan handle? Such a handle would be a pair of redesigned vise grip pliers whose grip would be insulated and whose bite would be slightly rounded (to accommodate the roundness of the pan) with heat resistant padding. This handle could easily unclamp from one pan and clamp on another pan.
169. Bloodsuckers
It seems to me that blood banks should team up with doctors to get more blood donations. Because I do not like to be poked, I have never donated my own blood. But I have submitted to blood tests for my doctor. If the doctor were to ask me, "While we have the needle in, could we pull an extra pint for the local blood bank", I just might say yes.
170. Synthetic Laughter
I suppose that when I am on my death bed and my family is gathered around to wish me a safe journey, someone might ask what they can do to make me more comfortable. My reply will be, "Make me laugh".
The medicinal and recuperative powers of laughter has been recognized by both the medical community and the Bible (Proverbs 17:22). Yet, has anyone ever studied the mechanics of laughter? We vaguely understand the cause of laughter, which is the hearing or seeing of an absurd situation, especially if it is personally relevant. But how does this external stimulus actually translate into laughter?
Because our entire physiological well-being is improved when we laugh, why hasn't some clever scientist discovered a way to produce this phenomenon artificially when there is a shortage of funny people or circumstances? What biological button inside of me is pressed when I see an arrogant individual receive a lemon meringue pie in the face? Aren't these questions worthy of scientific investigation?
171.   Diary with God
Ever since I first became a Christian (July 16, 1976), I have always used a King James Bible with no cross references, marginal notes, nor any other supplemental information. The only notes that appear in the margins of my Bible are from me. These notes include references to other portions of scripture, personal reminders for my own relationship with Jesus, and thoughts and feelings that I have thought and felt based upon what God tells me.
I'm working on my third plain vanilla KJV. When KJV #1 wore out, I transcribed all my notes into my new KJV #2. Finally, after five to eight years, KJV #2 was ready for retirement also. For the past 16 months (since January 1992), I have been transcribing notes into KJV #3, which is already showing signs of wear.
What I need is a software package that contains a read-only file of the entire KJV. With this package I can only write annotation marks into the bible text. Then I can use a word processing program to write the notes and references that pertain to each annotation mark. Such a program would enable any Bible-loving Christian to develop his/her own scripture commentary and lifetime personal dialogue with Jesus.
Such a program would eliminate the need to transcribe my notes as each bible falls apart. (But I should mention that this task is a mighty blessing in that I relive the words that Jesus and I share.)
On a similar subject, check out #251.
172. "Hints for Heloise" Revisited
Remember the newspaper column "Hints for Heloise"? This column would allow readers to share with other readers various kitchen and other homemaking tips. Here are a few more of those "Hints for Heloise" type of ideas.
   Making up frozen orange juice can sometimes be a nuisance. Why? Because the concentrate often emerges from the freezer like a cold brick; impenetrable to any spoon, knife, jackhammer, etc. Instead of mangling all your kitchenware, why not place the frozen juice into a pitcher, or some other similarly shaped container, and then pour in hot water around it? Let it stand for a few minutes. The concentrate will slide right out of the container.
   A potato masher does a better job of dissolving frozen juice than any kitchen spoon.
   Extracting a hot roasted chicken or turkey from a roasting pan without letting it fall apart is tricky. Instead of using kitchen spoons or forks, try using two full-size dinner plates and scoop the bird up and out of the pan with a plate in each hand. This method has not failed me yet.
173.   Intestinal Power
When the remote end of our digestive system releases intestinal gas into the atmosphere, do we realize that a valuable energy source is wasted?
I learned this lesson during my enlistment in the Navy, which was an important part of my total education. Thanks to a group of drunken, rowdy sailors who returned from liberty one evening bent upon a display of crudeness, I discovered that intestinal gas is flammable! (You see, they had a bet as to who could make the biggest flame.)
I have learned that intestinal gas is nothing more than hydrogen sulfide (H2S), which is a flammable gas that is commonly emitted by putrefying matter.
I envision a day in which every American home is equipped with chairs, sofas, and, of course, commodes that are designed to whisk away all emissions from the sitter above to a storage tank that would be located in the basement. There the H2S would remain until winter, at which time it would supplement the home's natural gas heating system. All cars and their seats could be similarly equipped.
The FDA would require that food manufacturers display not only the vitamin, protein, cholesterol, etc. content of their foods, but the BTU as well.
An important prerequisite for all of this is that we need to elevate our thinking about that common biological process that we contemptuously call a fart. Poet Bennett Cerf has written a limerick that accurately shows our wrong attitude in this important matter:
As I sat near the Duchess at tea,
it happened as I feared it would be.
From her regions abdominal
came rumblings phenomenal,
and everyone blamed it on me!
Instead of a social blunder, we need to recognize the fart as a valuable resource. When a guest in our home lets one go, we need to learn to say "Thank you", instead of being embarrassed and pretending that we think the dog did it.
For related ideas, check out #250.
174. Cheap Shoes
I'm sure that there are several differences in quality between Nike, Asics, Reebok, and other well-known manufacturers of sport shoes and look-alikes that you can buy for $10. But I think that the most significant difference is that the cheap shoes separate between the uppers and lowers after two weeks of every day wear, while the more expensive shoes do not.
I have often wondered what glue is commonly used to make this connection. After years of searching, I am convinced that it is not available. There is probably a special adhesion process that requires expensive equipment.
If this is so, I would think that a marketing opportunity would be available for a clever business entrepreneur. This business would offer shoe re-adhesion for customers who buy cheap tennis shoes. My gut feeling tells me that such a service would be less expensive than the price of more expensive shoes.
175. Slightly Better Tic-Tac-Toe?
Would you believe that this is the only new idea that came to me during the two weeks of our 1993 vacation?
Well, here it is. Tic-Tac-Toe is an interesting game for non-thinkers, but for two players with advanced cranial skills, the game is boring because it always ends in a tie.
But what if the game had a tie-breaker in which the player with the most 2s in a row is the winner? That might sustain their interest for another five minutes, at which time they would learn that the first player to play in the middle square always wins.
176. A Simple Way to Greater Fertility
A rubber band? Yes, just a simple rubber band!
Before I continue, I want every one of my readers (all 4 of them) to know that this idea has absolutely no humorous or pornographic intent. I sincerely mean this as a valid method to increase a couple's chances of having a baby.
So what do you do with the rubber band? Well without going into detail, let me just remind you that water from a garden hose travels further when you press your thumb on the end of the hose.
177. Where's my Cup? (9/7/93)
Well, it's the Tuesday after another great Labor Day family get-together (9/7/93). Like every other similar occasion, we marked names on the disposable plastic cups so that we wouldn't use them up too quickly. Suddenly, this idea arrived.
Instead of disposable cups, why not have a cup rack that holds a dishwasher-safe cup for each member of the family? Each cup, of course would bear the name of the family member who uses the cup. The rack would be low enough so that the youngest could reach his/her own cup and get some juice.
Such an idea would save wear and tear on the dishwasher and the energy to drive it.
178. Spin the Washer!
Maybe it's my washing machine, or maybe it's me. I try to distribute the load as equally as possible, but I still get lots of off-balance alarms. Often my washer forces me to redistribute the clothes several times before it will continue.
What really frustrates me is my inability to determine what side of the load is the heavier side. I stand over the machine when the alarm sounds for the giga jillioneth time. I immediately open the door. Although I see the vertical shaft wobble as the chamber decelerates, I can't follow the overweight side as it stops.
If I could mount a small device on the top of the shaft which could indicate the heavy side of the load, my job would be simplified. Such a device might enclose a small Velcro-covered ball which sits in the center of the holder when the spinning begins. As the shaft begins to wobble due to the off-balance load, the ball would jump off the center and stick to the wall of the device. Where it sticks would indicate the heavy side.
179. Hotel Improvements (10/1/93)
On Friday 10/1/93, Kathy and I drove down to Ocean City, spent the night at the Seaport Inn Motel, and enjoyed the beach and boardwalk the next day before we returned home on Saturday 10/2. We had a wonderful time. But if I owned and operated a motel/hotel, there would be some changes. Consider these:
   Ever notice that everyone pays the same for the same room, regardless of how much or how little electricity, water, or heat is consumed? This encourages waste. Everyone has to be billed the same as the most wasteful customer.
   Instead, equip each room with meters that record individual utility consumption? This way each customer can pay one low rate and stay as cheaply, or as expensively, as he/she chooses.
   Daily room service should also be an extra. That way, if a customer is willing to sleep on the same sheets for a week, he/she saves by not paying for room service, and the motel saves by not providing it.
   Eliminate checkout times by charging by the hour, rather than by the night.
180. Pills for your Ills (10/25/93)
On Monday 10/25/93, I visited Smith Drug Store, where I filled two prescriptions for my back spasms. While waiting, my eyes fell upon the display of pill holders that are available. It was then that I made a momentous discovery!
None of the pill holders were made for easy attachment to a key chain! That's too bad, because that is the most convenient place to carry my daily medication. It's also a place where I am not likely to forget.
181. National Jeopardy
Game shows, especially the ones like Jeopardy that ask questions of the contestants, are fun to watch. Even though I usually don't know the answers, I still like to match wits with the participants. Just one problem, though. On those rare occasions when I know the answer before the panel, they win the money anyway, while I get nothing.
I say that it's time to correct this flagrant inequity. Let's have a TV game show format that allows listeners to call in the answers and win money. To be sure, these questions would be tough; only a very few listeners, if any would know the answer without any research.
To avoid the frustration of eagerly calling with the right answer and hearing only a busy signal, let's rent a 900 line and charge $10 per call. This might discourage wild-guessers that would jam the lines.
182.   Layoff Insurance (2/22/94)
Well, this might be my last entry for some time. The chances that I will be laid off tomorrow (2/22/94) appear to be very reasonable. And if I do, there will be only a modest severance package for me because the company says that there is not enough money left.
Maybe that's true, and maybe it isn't. But the point that I want to make in this entry is that companies should consider buying layoff insurance for their employees as an employment benefit. That way, if or when the end comes, the insurance company, not the failed employer, pays the departing employees. See also idea #234.
183. Double Talk
Because the phone company is able to provide a service called 3-way calling, it seems possible that one phone line should be able to service two, or perhaps many more, independent and simultaneous phone conversations. No longer would a parent have to threaten their verbose teenager to get off the line before they could call the rescue squad or report a fire, etc.
Simply digitize the analog signal of each speaker's voice, multiplex them together, and send out the composite digital signal (or the analog version of such) to both receiving parties out the single phone line. Each remote receiver would receive the multiplexed signal but would only demultiplex and decode the desired signal.
In addition to the codec equipment, such a service would have the following drawbacks:
   Subscriber would need either digital service or more bandwidth (if analog transmission is used.)
   Conversation security would be compromised if the receiving party were to decode the other signal.
184. NYPD Bloopers
I believe that many would agree that NYPD Blue is the most vulgar, profane, violent, and obscene program that has ever been broadcast on public airwaves over North America...ever. However, many TV reviewers rate this show very highly for its drama, acting, and directing.
This creates a dilemma for responsible Christian TV viewers, who want to enjoy a good police adventure show, but who do not want the corruptive exposure of the bad stuff for either themselves or their children.
Is there a solution. There is, but it will require the cooperation of either state and federal lawmakers or responsible TV broadcasters. Why not transmit a distinctive signal during those portions of the program that are offensive. This signal would be undetectable for viewers who want to watch the uncut version.
But viewers who want to skip the raunch can buy a black box at radio shack that can be installed between their cable outlet or antenna and their set or VCR. This box would listen for those embedded signals and, when detected, block out either the video, the audio, or both.
Detractors may ask why can't a viewer simply use the remote control to change the channel or turn off the TV when the naughty stuff is on? The answer: reaction time and viewer distraction. Parents shouldn't have to depend on their quickness or continuous attention to ensure acceptable TV entertainment. Who can enjoy a program while nervously aiming the remote at the set in preparation for the next ugly?
This plan puts true, practical censorship in the hands of each viewer, which is where it belongs anyway.
185. Descrabbler (5/24/94)
It's 6:52 PM on 5/24/94 and an idea has popped into my mind that will ruin the game of Scrabble forever.
Descrabbler is the name of a software utility that will advise you of your best next move. The computer presents the 225-square Scrabble board (15x15), complete with all the double/triple letter/word squares. The user keys in the seven letters in his/her rack.
When the user hits Go, Descrabbler arranges the seven letters and one letter on the board in every pronounceable arrangement and compares each with its internal spell checking vocabulary. Descrabbler then presents a list of all answers with the score of each.
Response delay may be a problem, but perhaps the software could be written so that all nonexistent letter combinations would be discarded immediately. That way valuable processing time won't be wasted on words that start with qxj, for example.
186. Distributing the Heat
Every gas or oil heated home that I know of uses a centralized furnace with ducts that lead to each room in the house. Perhaps this next idea is not practical for oil heat, but it just might be so for gas.
Instead of one big octopus, why not feed the gas line to the input duct of each room. Inside each duct is a down-sized furnace that is just big enough to heat that room. This idea would replace large plenums and ducts with small gas pipes, which would be easier and cheaper to install. Also, gas pipes don't leak heat like ducts do. But what would be the overall comparative cost?
The down side is that more pipes increase the likelihood of a leak. Also, instead of one pilot, you would have as many pilots as rooms.
187.   Own the Whole Thing!
Someday I may begin a professional athletic league. But I will not create individually owned franchises. Instead, all teams will be owned and operated by one controlling authority - me.
Here are some reasons why:
   Cry-baby superstars can only negotiate with me. This should keep salaries reasonable.
   I can ensure league parity by a draft plan that heavily favors the weaker teams. (Top notch teams can only protect their starters.)
   Teams in poorer marketing areas will compete on an equal basis with teams from big cities.
If you are wondering what the game will be, check out #252.
188. A Better Rubber Band (10/27/940
A few days ago (10/27/94) I accidentally broke a rubber band. While I was paying attention to something else, I was twisting the rubber band. Then, I tied the two ends together. When I let go, it shrunk down to a much smaller, compressed size. Yet it still had plenty of elasticity when stretched.
What I had here was a better rubber band. This rubber band could hold much smaller objects because the twisted rubber would force it to a smaller size. An added benefit is that more bands can be stored in the same size container; at least that appears to be true.
But there may be two disadvantages, which are smaller expansion and shorter life due to the potential energy of the rubber.
189. Less Dust! (10/30/94)
Yesterday morning (10/30/94) at 9 AM I watched the demolition of the Sears Building on Roosevelt Boulevard in Philadelphia. What an enormous cloud of dust that job created!
Now that dust is probably unavoidable, but isn't there a simple way of minimizing the amount of dust when a building is razed? What would happen if you hosed down every floor, ceiling, and wall before the blast? Wouldn't that keep the dust to a lower level?
190. Double Duty (11/4/94)
Hasn't just about everyone who has bought, or has planned to buy, a computer in the last few years had the same dilemma? Shall I buy an IBM compatible or a Macintosh? Every buyer has had to figure out which computer and software is more compatible to their needs.
Why doesn't some clever computer manufacturer simply merge the two machines into one? Such a product would consist of one monitor, one keyboard, and one base unit, which would consist of a complete 486DX machine and a Power Macintosh 7100. Perhaps the design engineer would be clever enough to merge many parts of the base unit as well. For example, one floppy drive, or maybe two hard drive partitions. If it could be equipped with software that could transfer files between Windows and Mac with minimal difficulty, well, I, for one, would buy it.
This computer would certainly cost more than either of its two components, but shouldn't it be significantly less than both put together?
But I just saw in the paper last week (11/4/94) that IBM and Apple are joining forces to make a single computer that will be available in 1996.
191.   Easy Rider (graphic)
I have a job in which I commute to work 65 miles one way several times a month. I don't enjoy the ride. I would prefer to take public transportation, but buses don't go my way. How could I make this ride more enjoyable? more relaxing? Well I came up with an idea that would make the ride along I-95 more fun.
Suppose a giant conveyor belt is installed along the center median of I-95. This machine would be powered by a rather large motor or engine. The belt would have padded bars than would extend out into the far left passing lane and the conveyor would propel these bars along the lane at 50 mph.
Drivers that want the belt to drive for them instead of themselves simply pull in front any unoccupied compartment of the belt and the bar simply moves them along. (It's important that the car engine remain on and the transmission remain in drive.) When it's time to exit, the driver simple accelerates and moves to the lane to the right.
While the belt is moving the car, the driver could read a book, take a nap, balance the checkbook, etc. And wouldn't the energy that is needed to power the conveyor be less than the energy consumed by the total of all vehicles on the belt?
192.   Music, My Way
My system begins by recording hours of broadcast over my favorite FM music station. When I'm ready to listen to music, I listen to the tape instead of the live broadcast. Here is what happens:
1. While the first song is playing, I can use my remote control to a assign a rating from 1 to 10 for the currently playing song.
2. Then, I can use my remote to either interrupt the song and advance to the next song or continue to listen to the rest of the song.
3. When the tape arrives at the second song, a recognizable signal is inserted in the tape. This signal allows the computer to find the beginning and end of each song.
4. Then I can assign a rating to the second song. This process continues until all songs on the tape are rated and delimited.
An alternate method of processing music might be via CD-ROM. If a CD-ROM disk can hold an entire encyclopedia, imagine how many songs it could hold? Well, my kind of music system would have a CD disk drive attached to my PC. But this unit would be like a juke box capable of holding and accessing many, many disks. Also, I would have several CD disks, on which would be a digitized and compressed copy of nearly every piece of music available.
Before I listen to any music, the computer presents me with a long list of questions which evaluate my musical tastes. I'll tell what I think of the Beatles, Stones, Seasons, Opera, Country & Western, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, hard rock, soft rock, rap, contemporary and classical gospel, church hymns, Brahms, Chopin, Liszt, Benny Goodman, Glen Miller, Sing along with Mitch, Latin, African, Vietnamese, etc. Based on my input, the computer assigns a default rating, from 1 to 10, to each piece of music.
Whether I use tape or CD, these computer-selected default ratings are very general. There are likely to be many pieces of music that I enjoy that have a low rating and vice versa.
When I'm ready to listen to my music, I turn on the PC and disk drive and here's what happens:
   The computer adds up the total ratings of all music in the juke box. Let's suppose that the total is 5 million.
   The computer then picks a random number from 1 to 5,000,000.
   The computer then picks, and directs the disk drive to play, the disk and music that corresponds to the selected number. (Songs with a higher score obviously have a higher likelihood of selection.)
   While the song is playing, the computer selects another random number and prepares the selected disk and song for playing next.
   Now this final point is important! Also while a song is playing, I can use my remote control to either change or retain the rating of the currently playing song, and either interrupt the song and advance to the next selection or continue to listen to the rest of the song.
I expect that there will be lots of 1s; so many in fact that their total volume will unsatisfactorily compete with the tunes that I want to hear. Perhaps I would put all the 1s in a common pool that would have a cumulative weight of no more than 1. Or, perhaps I could merge all the 1s into a medley, which would take far less listening time.
Why not eliminate the 1s altogether? Well, the music that I enjoy derives much of its quality in comparison to the inferior stuff. For example, "Unchained Melody" by the Righteous Brothers is perhaps my all time favorite song. But, If I heard it 10 times a day, its rating would drop quickly. Also, I might actually appreciate Tiny Tim's "Tiptoe through the tulips" only if I hear it very, very infrequently.
Suppose that I later discover that I like music with a 10 rating say, four times more than music with a 5, and not just twice as much. I would design the software to allow me to change all songs in a group; for example lower all 5 ratings down to 2. Some days I may not want to hear any music below a seven. My music software would allow me to set a threshold.
By using the computer's internal calendar, seasonal songs can receive a higher rating at certain times of the year. For example, my favorite Christmas carols, like "Felix Navidad" by Jose Feliciano, the Royal Guardsmen's "Snoopy and the Red Baron", and the beautiful music from the movie "The Muppet Christmas Carol" would have dramatically higher ratings in December than January.
With this idea, everyone could maintain his or her own record of musical preferences. Suppose I'm planning a social occasion and I want to choose the right music. Well, I would simply include the message BYOD (bring your own disk). As my guests arrive, I collect all the disks, load them into my PC, which selects the music that will please the most people. See also #227.
193. Getting all the Ketchup
Would someone please design a ketchup bottle that will stand on its spout?! That way we can get all, or at lest more of, the ketchup that we buy. Furthermore, we wouldn't have to wait as long for the ketchup to arrive on our hamburger if the ketchup is waiting at the mouth of the bottle.
194.   Running Machine (graphic)
I was leaving BJ's one evening with a cart full of groceries. As I pushed the cart from the store across the parking lot to the car, I ran a few steps and then lifted myself up just a few inches above the cart's handle. I coasted in this manner all the way to the car.
Although one may instinctively believe that running is more difficult when pushing something, the opposite is, in fact, true, if that something can roll easily across a paved surface. What would happed if we designed an aluminum frame with wheels? Such a device would...
   enclose the runner while he/she runs
   have all-directional wheels to enable the runner to run freely in any direction
   have a handle that enables the runner to lift himself/herself above the running surface and allow the device to coast
   perhaps include brakes and steering as well
   have a light-weight frame for easy carriage across non-paved surfaces.
195. The Right Way to Board Passenger Trains
Back in November of 1994, I was trying to figure out how I could commute to INC in Bridgewater via public transportation. There were a few reasons why it would be hard to do, but one obstacle seemed to be an easy one to solve.
I want to take the train from Trenton to New Brunswick. There were many express routes that went directly to Newark and New York, but only a few that stopped at stations along the way, like New Brunswick. Now I appreciate the need for express trains, but I have an idea that would allow trains to have both local stops and express traffic at the same time.
How? You ask. Simple. When boarding the train at the Trenton station, organize all passengers by destination along the route. Passengers going to the Big Apple board the front railroad cars. Newark passengers board the next car. Passengers heading for Edison, Metuchen, New Brunswick, and Princeton board the next four cars, respectively.
Now the train is loaded with passengers in such a way that those departing sooner are toward the back of the train and those traveling further are at the front.
Now we leave Trenton station. As we approach the first stop at Princeton, the train decouples the last car in the train. As the train speeds past the Princeton station, the decoupled car coasts to a graceful stop, where the Princeton passengers disembark. Passengers for other destinations disembark in the same way.
A trickier solution is needed for passengers who embark at Princeton and disembark at New Brunswick, Edison, or New York, for example. Perhaps a large sling shot can propel a single car out from the Princeton station as the train passes. This car catches up with the train and links on. But the problem is that the last car no longer holds the passengers for the next stop. Passengers must change seats en route to ensure that they disembark with the proper car when it decouples.
196. Car Light
Although I believe that anyone would agree that a flashlight is a very practical tool to keep in any car, the next rechargeable flashlight that I see plugged into a car's dashboard will be the first.
197. Family PC
Remember the transition that occurred in computer usage during the 80s, during which the multi-terminal-to-centralized host architecture gave way to the individual LAN-interconnected PC user? Perhaps it's time to take a small step backwards.
I came to that conclusion while working at home on my Macintosh Performa computer. Kathy asked if she could type a letter and Barry wanted to write an essay. But I glibly explained that I was busy earning the family income. They must wait.
But wouldn't it be nice if our Mac were equipped with enough RAM to accommodate two or more applications simultaneously. Then, I can continue working while Kathy works on her letter on a separate monitor/keyboard that connects to the base unit. Barry can key in his paper on a third monitor/keyboard.
Remember all those dumb asynchronous ASCII terminals which became obsolete when the PC arrived? The family PC might bring them back again.
198. Educational Collusion?
When I bought our Commodore computer from my friend Rick Mohrman many years ago, an instructional software package, called Step-by-Step, came with it. This software taught me every thing I know about the Basic computer language. Not only was this education painless, it was actually entertaining.
Since then, I have wanted to find similar educational packages for today's computer languages, like C, C+, C++, SQL, Visual Basic, etc., but I have not found any such training. In fact, educational software seems to be rare in many areas of learning. Only children's educational software is easy to find.
Why is this? Now I don't claim to know this for certain, but I am rather sure that if enough people realized how much easier and economical it is to learn by software than by a book or human teacher, this world's educational institutions will be in serious difficulty. Is it possible that these institutions are doing what they can to discourage the development and spread of educational software?
199. Wasted Entertainment
I get so disgusted when I see an electron-guzzling 25-inch color TV busily entertaining an empty living room. TVs should be equipped with a motion detector facing the viewers. When no movement is detected for 5 minutes, it turns off the TV.
One possible problem with this plan is that some TV viewers can be pretty motionless while watching. Perhaps a better idea is contact switches under the seat of each chair and sofa.
200.   Walking and Skating (1/14/95) (graphic)
On 1/14/95, Tabitha went to a birthday party for her classmate, Glen. It was a roller skating party at the Echelon Skating Rink. I watched people glide around the rink, but when they arrived at the carpeted waiting area, the skates were a little cumbersome.
Wouldn't it be nice if skates could easily change to walking shoes and vice versa? Well, what if skates were designed with a steel or aluminum lower leg brace that strapped to the leg with Velcro? The wheels would mount on the outside of the foot. When you would rather walk than roll, the skates would have a release that would slide the wheels up the brace, allowing full contact between the bottom of the foot and the ground.
Notice that the wheels are at least the size of lawn mower wheels. This size will allow travel over surfaces less smooth than asphalt.
201. Scrape Scoop
A convenient little bit of information that early AM weathermen could give us during the colder seasons is whether or not our car windows need scraping before we leave for the day.
202. Alarm Tester
The little button on the front of the smoke detector that supposedly tests the device's operability really doesn't. It only tests the battery and the audible alarm itself. The actual smoke detection device itself is not tested.
If I'm not a smoker, I need a small, hand-held device which emits a small puff of smoke when you press a button. When aimed at the smoke detector, the entire device is tested.
Can I have a similar device for carbon monoxide detectors?
203.  DEFENSE!! (graphic)
Now I think I'm a basketball strategist and coach! Well, if I were a coach, here's what I would propose for my team defense. It's a little similar to the old box-and-1, which is commonly used to handle a team that has one very good offensive player. You know that scheme - the best defensive player guards their star man-to-man, while the rest of his team plays a 2-2 zone.
My idea consists of a switching zone that begins with a 2-1-2 zone defense. Each of the four outer players in the zone is responsible for one of four quadrants in the defensive court. When the offensive team moves the ball into any quadrant, the defensive player that is responsible for that quadrant plays the ball man-to-man. The middle player in the 2-1-2 setup fills his position in the zone, thereby becoming a 2-2 zone.
In the previous example, the ball moves into the second quadrant. Notice that the defensive player that is responsible for the second quadrant moves out to defend, while the player in the middle of the zone takes over the vacated spot in the zone.
For this zone to be effective, all five defenders, especially the one in the middle, must have lots of quickness in both their feet and responses. But what if the two big guys in the back of the zone are slow? Then simply divide the defensive court into two sectors, left and right, which are patrolled by the three front guys using a similar shifting method. The two big slow guys in the back simply slide laterally as in a normal zone.
This defense can be very tiresome for the middle defender. With practice, a team can rotate this position with other players on each defensive set.
One possible weakness of this defense may occur when the ball is on a boundary between two quadrants.
204. Carpet Golf (2/10/95)
The evening of 2/10/95 was a little boring, so I suggested to Tabitha that we play a round of carpet golf. I opened a sofa cushion and pulled off two small pieces of foam (golf balls), which I placed in front of the front door.
Tabitha and I each took turns flicking our golf ball across the living room, down the hallway, through the den, and back to the front door. I won because I hit the front door in two fewer strokes than Tabitha.
205. Videotape Indexing
If I were a VCR designer, I would include a button-activated circuit that would insert a special signal on the videotape which the VCR could later recognize. This feature would be helpful when recording several different movies or programs on the same tape. After recording a movie, press the button to direct the VCR to insert the signal at that location. After recording the next movie, do the same, etc.
Later you can direct the VCR to advance to the movie you want without the trouble of fast forward, then reverse, then reverse again, oops, too far, forward again, etc. While you could use the counter, the accuracy is questionable because the tape can stretch.
Another idea, which might be almost as good, would be a VCR that would automatically advance to a specified counter number.
206. How to Find Something at a Flea Market (2/18/95)
Yesterday (2/18/95), Tabitha and I went to the Palmyra Flea Market. I wanted to find a cheap chess set and an equally cheap baseball glove. (Barry Jr. is becoming interested in chess and I want to play softball with the IBC men.). However, I walked up and down all the aisles and found neither.
What I wish I could have done is go to a special concession near the front of the flea market. This booth would have a person behind a computer. I would tell him what I am looking for and pay him/her a nominal fee. Then the concessionaire would enter the information into his computer, which would print out a map of the flea market with the locations highlighted to show where the items are that I am looking for.
Vendors would probably want to cooperate by providing information about their wares. Perhaps they would pay a modest fee also, because it would help buyers find their merchandise.
207. An Aglet Tool
I don't know about you, but my aglets are constantly splitting and breaking off. I've often wondered why there is no commercially available tool by which anyone can replace his or her own aglets. After all, we all wear at least four aglets every day, unless of course something like Velcro is used instead. Since they're made only of cheap plastic, this tool could simply crimp on a new piece of plastic which would serve as the new aglet.
You know, I was thinking about telling you what an aglet is, but this idea might be more memorable if you discover this fascinating bit of information for yourself.
208. A Better Indicator of Hitting Skill
The batting average, which is the most commonly used method by which we guage a baseball player's batting skills, is inadequate. For example, a grand salami is much more valuable to a team than a bases-empty infield hit, although they both count the same for batting average.
The most revealing statistic for hitting would be the Ford Quotient, which is a ratio of a hitter's total offense divided by a hitter's total opportunity. Obviously, I need to define some terms.
   Total Offense. This is the total number of bases advanced by all runners due to the hitter's at bat. For example, a hitter comes to bat with runners on first and third. He hits a double, and both runners score. His total offense is 6. (The runner on third goes home for one, the runner on first advances three bases, and the hitter gains two bases for a total of 6.)
   Total Opportunity. The score the hitter would achieve if he hit a home run, which is the maximum possible offense. For example, a hitter coming up with the bases empty faces an opportunity of 4. If the bases were loaded, the opportunity would be 10. The hitter in the first example has an opportunity of 8.
With this system, an infield single with the bases loaded equals a solo home run. The Ford Quotient rewards extra base hitters who deliver in the clutch.
209. Fast Golf (5/24/95)
Today (5/24/95) I was planning to add an entry in this chapter about a game of golf in which no score card is necessary; just a stop watch. The object of the game is to complete an 18 hole golf course in the least amount of time. All the competitor has to do is move the ball into each hole using only the club head.
But on KYW 1060 I heard about that exact contest. Someone set a course speed record of 13 minutes and some seconds, but failed to break the word record, which was something less than 11 minutes.
210. Close the Door!
This is much too simple an idea to be original, but here it is anyway. Sometimes the refrigerator door does not close all the way. This may be due to either too much food stuffed into a shelf or simple mnemonic failure. Whatever the cause, this can be a real problem because the inside temperature will climb and food will spoil if the door is open for an extended amount of time, even if it's just a little crack.
So, why not equip the frig with an audible alarm that activates whenever the door is not fully closed?
An added benefit is that when someone tries to sneak a snack, the whole family will know.
211.   Chair-Sleds (graphic)
Have you noticed that the vast majority of dining room chairs do not slide very easily across a dining room carpet? This means that you must hoist your posterior and pick up the chair under you whenever you sit down or get up from the table. Now that's not a smart way to operate a dining room!
Instead, why not equip all chairs with four legs that penetrate deeply into a pile carpet with a wide, smooth, flat surface that contacts the floor? Such a feature will allow an easy sliding movement of the chair.
Perhaps this should be a removable, modular feature which can be removed for chairs that reside in the kitchen or other non-carpeted areas.
212.   Adjustable Highways (graphic)
Jesus just gave me a hot idea that will eliminate morning and evening congestion on major traffic arteries that connect to big metropolitan areas. The answer is adjustable highways!
For years I have traversed the Ben Franklin Bridge, the Walt Whitman Bridge, the Betsy Ross Bridge, the Commodore Barry Bridge, etc. Well, I've crossed lots of these spans. What do all these bridges have in common? Lots of things actually. But let me tell you about one very useful common feature.
All of these spans have multiple lanes. The Betsy Ross Bridge has eight lanes for example, which I believe is typical. But did you notice that none of those lanes are permanently dedicated to either inbound or outbound traffic.
Over the road surface at intervals of about 1/10 mile apart is a display of red and green lights. Each light corresponds to a lane of traffic. A green light means you can drive in that lane, but you can't use the red lanes.
Now I don't know to what extent the Delaware River Port Authority adjusts the lanes to avoid congestion, but I would guess that more lanes are available into Philly on weekday mornings and outta there on weekday evenings.
Why can't we use this philosophy when designing major roadways, as well? What would happen if the Schuykill Expressway were similarly planned. Six lanes could carry traffic into the city on Monday morning and two lanes would carry traffic out. In the middle of the day, lanes would be split 4 and 4. And at rush hour, 6 out and 2 in.
The only downside to this plan would be the transition periods. How exciting would it be to comfortably cruise in a green lane that suddenly turns red, and an oncoming 18-wheeler is in your near future?
But transitions can be handled gracefully by use of a yellow warning light over a lane that will be red in one mile.
Of course a retrofit for the Sure-Kill Crawlway to implement this idea would have a remarkable price tag. But let's remember it for all new designs.
213. What Longwood Gardens should do
On Saturday, July 8, 1995 Kathy and I, as well as Tabitha, Cherish, and Tabitha's friend Tara visited Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pa. We thoroughly enjoyed all the floral exhibits in the conservatory, as well as the fountain light show after dark. (It was the first time I had seen the fountain lights since I was a child.)
But an idea occurred to me as we were walking through the flowers. Wouldn't it be cool (I use this term carefully) if Longwood were to include a totally different kind of exhibit. I'm thinking of a full-size electro-mechanical model of the man-eating plant in the movie "Little Shop of Horrors".
This "plant" could have a scheduled feeding time. If the plant keeper got a little careless, he/she could be "accidentally" consumed. Etc., etc.
Of course, Longwood would want to minimize such attractions, simply because they don't need a carnival atmosphere. But just this one off beat display would be cool (Oops, I said it again.)
214.   A New Look at Hitchhiking (graphic)
For as long as I can remember, hitchhiking has been regarded as a distasteful practice. Of course, it's not hard to understand this widely held attitude. Hitchhiking plainly poses a real danger to both the helpful driver and the naive passenger.
But there are some clear advantages to hitchhiking. It saves gas and money. It also reduces the number of vehicles on the roads. I get disgusted when I see so many cars running around with just one occupant, who is the driver, and three or more empty seats. But then, my car usually has just me in it too.
To make hitchhiking safe for everyone, there needs to be a way to keep the driver and passenger separated. I propose that the driver purchase an add-on container package at his auto supply store.
Such a kit would convert his/her car into something like a police car. You've probably seen that partition between the front and back seats. It protects the policeman at the wheel from the suspect he just arrested.
Now if my car were so equipped, I could safely pick up any hitchhiker and drop him off along my way. I could charge him a fare, like a cab driver would. Perhaps this kit could also separate the left side from the right on both the front and back seats. This would allow me to transport up to three passengers in safety.
This idea might protect the driver from the passenger. But how can we protect the passenger from the driver? The passenger could write down the license plate. Also, the passenger could carry a cellular phone and a global positioning system receiver.
But one question. Why haven't urban cab drivers, who seem to be high on the list of murder victims, been doing this for years?
215. Automatic Speed Detectors
On Saturday July 8, 1995 we were driving home from Longwood Gardens late that evening. We were riding along Route 1 when I saw a lighted sign, which read "Your speed is 63 mph. The speed limit is 55. Please slow down."
I immediately found my brake pedal. When I did, the sign changed to 61, then 59, then 56.
Jesus showed me this idea several years ago, but I never recorded it. All major highways should have such signs and radar mounted above the road at every overpass. If there is a device that can scan plates at 60 mph, a REAL attention grabber would be this sign: "Hey there, BDG877, Your speed is 63 mph. The speed limit is 55. Please slow down."
Or, how about a traffic light that displays the speed at which you will catch the next light green. Such an indication would improve gas mileage for an economy-minded driver.
216. Adjustable Fashions (8/24/95)
Today (8/24/95), Kathy and I stopped in K-mart to buy some shoes for Cherish, who wanted shoes with a picture of Pocahontas on them. Last year, she wanted Simba, the Lion King, and the year before that Aladdin and Jasmine, and then Beauty and the Beast, and then the Little Mermaid.
But wouldn't it be easier and more economical for shoe manufacturers to simply make their shoes with Velcro patches on them? Then kids could simply add a picture of their own favorite movie star. Then they can rip it off and replace it with someone else. Shirt manufacturers might consider the same approach.
217. Extended Test Drive
Al just bought his second lemon in a row for Alex. The test drive went OK. But shortly after they bought it from a private owner, the axle disconnected. Then Al discovered that the entire car was made up of incorrect parts.
Perhaps the concept of the extended test drive has finally come of age. A prospective buyer would test drive the car for one month. If for any reason and at any time he/she is dissatisfied with the car, it can be returned to the owner with no obligation to buy. Such a test drive would allow the shopper plenty of time to find problems that may not be apparent from a spin around the block.
Of course, such a test drive would not be free. The buyer would effectively rent the car for this time. If the car is wanted after 30 days, the rental price would be deducted from the total price.
218.   Automatic Stirring Device (graphic)
I guess that I'm tired of stirring scrambled eggs. So why hasn't someone designed an automatic stirring device? Such an innovation would sit inside a frying pan. It would temporarily attach itself to the pan with expandable arms whose rubber tipped edges would press against the inside wall of the pan.
This device would include two custom fitted blades that would slowly rotate around the pan. This action would both stir the contents of the pan and prevent food from sticking to the pan.
Either rechargeable battery power or perhaps 110 VAC could drive the motor. Or , perhaps a wind-up motor would work.
219. Better than the Bomb (9/20/95)
On Sunday, September 17, 1995, I watched the Philadelphia Eagles lose to the San Diego Chargers by less than a touchdown. Two weeks later I watched the Eagles beat the New Orleans Saints by less than a touchdown.
In both of these games the losing team had possession of the ball with less than a minute to play. In both games the losing team would attempt a very long touchdown pass on the final play of the game. Of course, the defense would pack the secondary and have just a nominal pass rush. I wonder if it ever worked.
I have a better idea! Oh? Sure! Instead of a desperation rainbow, why not simply hand the ball off to a running back and run the ball into the line? But as soon as the ball carrier is touched, he throws the ball over his shoulder. A teammate who trails on the play catches the ball and runs as far as he can. The moment he's hit he too throws the ball backward to a trailing teammate.
This continues until either the offense scores a TD or the defense recovers a lateral. This play would surprise the defense, entertain the fans, and have at least as much chance of success as the bomb. If I were coach, my team would practice this play.
220. Some Anti-Rape Techniques
I have a pair of methods which might spare many women from the horror of a sexual assault. Both methods can be used in sequence. If the first fails, the second can be tried.
The first technique is based upon the assumption that a rapist is a man who has never had the opportunity to demonstrate his masculinity in a positive way. If a woman finds herself being followed on foot by a menacing figure late at night, here's a technique that she might consider:
She should run right up to her possible attacker and say to him, "Sir, could please escort me to my car? There's a man threatening me in the parking lot." This approach may draw out protective instincts that had never been touched before. He now has the opportunity to use his manliness for a healthy, constructive purpose, instead of for harm.
But, if that fails, consider the second method, which is based upon the criminal's need for power over another person. The criminal's aggression is heightened if he senses fear from his victim. Conversely, if the victim displays total confidence, the attacker loses some of his enthusiasm. The feelings of power provides a significant portion of the pleasure of his evil deed.
Therefore, if a woman is trapped in a circumstance in which the worst appears inevitable, I very cautiously suggest that she pretend that she is the world's most desperately sex-starved nymphomaniac. In other words, she should not act as just a passive recipient of this crime; instead act as a furiously aggressive perpetrator. She should tear away at his clothes as if she just can't wait to get inside. Utter vulgar, profane words that show contempt, disappointment, and even ridicule toward her attacker's genitals and their total inadequacy to satisfy her pretented ravenous desires. In other words, behave in such a manner that if this crime ever goes to court, the identity of the attacker and the victim will not be completely clear.
If the "victim" copies or even exceeds the behavior of her attacker, the attacker may become confused, disoriented, and perhaps intimidated; resulting, possibly, in total impotence. In fact, he may even flee if he believes that his body is being violated.
221. How OJ did it
It's Tuesday, October 3, 1995 and while we are talking about football, I just watched the world's most famous football player walk out of court a free man, despite considerable evidence against him. How did this happen? Two reasons:
   Money. OJ Simpson had enough money to buy the very best defense team. Not much can be done to right this inequity. The rich will always be able to use that wealth buy what they want or need.
   Jury. The 12 people that decided his fate consisted of nine blacks, two whites, and a Puerto Rican. Can something be done in this area?
When the verdict arrived, the reaction was split right along racial lines. Over 60% of whites said guilty; more than 90% of blacks said not guilty. Would the composition of the jury explain this result?
I was surprised that the 10 women jurors didn't feel more compassion for Nicole. Instead, they voted along racial lines (although perhaps not necessarily by intent). Perhaps they were fearful of the reception when they returned to their neighborhoods? Did the fatigue from nine months of sequestration prevent the three non-black jurors from voting by their convictions? The media reported that the daughter of one of the white members said that her mother really thought OJ was guilty.
Is it time for affirmative action to come to the courtroom? What if the racial and gender makeup of the jury had to be an accurate representation of the entire population that lives within five miles of the crime? Would such an idea correct this problem?
222. Sorry/Rummy (10/14/95)
In my opinion, Sorry is the world's best board game. This is surprising because I usually prefer games of strategy and intellect to games of luck. (Although Sorry does have a measure of strategy, it's a far cry from chess.)
To make Sorry even better, why not deal out five cards to each player and put the stack face down in the center of the board. The first player to the right of the dealer discards a card. (It must be either a 1 or 2 to begin the game.). Then he/she draws another card to replace the discarded one.
The second player discards a card, carries out the action on the discarded card, and draws a replacement card. This action continues until one player moves all four pieces home, just like the original rules.
At first, I had planned to deal out all the cards. However, I suspect that the game might never end. (Anytime a piece gets close to home, someone would nail him with a Sorry card.)
As soon as I try it, I will publish the results in this space.
Well, on 10/14/95, Ben, Janice, Kaitlin, and I tried it out at Ben and Becky's birthday party. (When the game was half over, Becky filled in for Kaitlin.) Ben won.
Everyone said that they liked the game. I thought the rules provided an interesting variation, but I can't say that the game was more exciting than the original.
223. Universal Time
I don't like how the world is divided up into 24 time zones, in which the US resides in four of them. I never fully adjusted to the thought that it's 11AM in California when it's 2PM here in Maple Shade.
A far better idea is one universal time zone. With this plan it will be 3PM everywhere when it's 3PM here. (I don't feel that it would be particularly awkward to sleep from 3PM to 10:30PM. We'd get used to it.)
224. IPF
It means Intimacy Protection Factor. What you are about to read will seem strange, but there is merit to this suggestion.
It must be difficult for men who work at children's day care centers. I wouldn't feel nearly as comfortable entrusting my child's care and safety with a man than with a woman. After all, well over 99% of all sex-related crimes are committed by males. Even though I'm male, I believe that deep down I consider all other males as potential perverts.
If I had to leave my child with a man, I would want to know two things:
   How often is he having sex with his wife?
   What is the testosterone level in his blood?
Somehow I would take these two numbers and create another number. This number, the IPF, might measure the existence and intensity of any evil intentions of a possible babysitter. Proverbs chapter 5 clearly explains that the greatest protection from sexual sin is an intimate relationship with the spouse.
Many would say that this information is none of my business. In most cases, I fully agree. But when my kid's safety is at stake, wouldn't I have a right to know?
225. Chair Anywhere (11/18/95)
Today (11/18/95), I went shopping with Kathy on the Ocean City boardwalk. The idea that you are about to read always occurs to me when I shop with Kathy. I finally remembered to record it.
Shops never include benches or chairs. This, I suppose, prevents customer loitering. But that's beside the point. If Kathy is in full shopping form and my back is tired, I want to sit down.
Suppose there were a folding chair that can be attached to me like a backpack. When I want to sit, it unfolds behind me and I sit. When I'm ready to get up, it automatically collapses again into a small package behind me. This chair would not impede my motions when walking or doing any other activity other than sitting.
226.   Modular Shoes II
This idea is closely related to #88, but with a slightly different spin.
On Saturday, December 23, I stepped out on my back step. The whole world tuned upside down and I landed on my posterior. This happened because the back step was covered with ice, and I hadn't noticed.
If the soles of my shoes had metal spikes, I wouldn't have fallen. But no one, except golfers and football players buy such shows because they would destroy a linoleum floor.
But what if my shoe soles consisted of a layer of Velcro, to which I could attach spikes, or leather, or rubber, or the material that bowling alleys require, or something else?
227.   Shrink that Tune!
This idea, which connects with ideas #192 and #232, might be a way in which our favorite music can be digitally stored in our home computer.
If we use Pulse Code Modulation (PCM) to digitize music, we are using a 64-kbps bit stream to encode analog signals. Let's assume that an average song lasts 150 seconds. That means that 64,000 x 150 bits, or 9.6 Mbits are needed to store a typical song. A 1 Gig drive will hold 100 songs. Not bad.
If 32 kbps doesn't sacrifice any quality, we can now hold 200 songs.
One possibility for greater storage capacity might be digital compression. But can compression be used on music? Consider this. The song's refrain and other portions of the music are repetitive in nature. If the same refrain is used five times, why encode it five times? Instead, simply insert a command in the compressed signal to return to the one location where the refrain is encoded.
I don't know how much bandwidth can be saved, but doesn't it seem that this idea would allow a home computer to hold all our favorite music?
I later spoke with Idris Vasi, an acquaintance and multimedia specialist, who told me that 128 kbps is the slowest speed that being considered for the audio channel when compressing movies for interactive home entertainment. That means only 50 songs in a 1 Gig drive. Still, not bad; and remember, compression methods will only get more efficient and computer storage will only become more spacious.
228. Multipointing
Today is Friday March the eighth, 1996. It snowed last night and the kids are home from school. Although I learned of the school closures on the radio, the school district also called me.
I later thought that if they called me, they must have called, or attempted to call every family with school-aged children in the district. That must have been an exhaustive task.
How much easier it would have been if the school secretary could dial one number which would simultaneously ring every relevant phone in town. (This single phone number would be preprogrammed with all the proper destination phone numbers.)
Now of course everyone will pick up their phone at a different time, which means that each called party is likely to hear only part of the message. To overcome this problem the sender should keep the message brief and repeat the message continuously.
After the called party hears the message, he/she would hang up, of course. But the calling party would still be sending the message. Is that a problem? Also, if an answering machine picks up the call, this one call would fill the entire tape.
229. Automated Outfield Practice
I'm surprised that pitching machines are used only for batting practice. With a little imagination and some design acumen, a pitching machine could be transformed into a valuable tool for an outfielder, who wants to get in some extra practice on his own time.
Simply place the machine at home plate, raise the front legs up several inches, and let it send balls deep into the outfield.
But could the machine be set up to send one deep, then one to the left and shallow, then a Texas-leaguer up the middle, then back to the wall again and to the right, etc? This would let the fielder run them down and gain valuable cardio-vascular activity.
230. Getting all the Dirt
Why not design vacuum cleaners with rotating brushes that mount on the vacuum's exterior? The motor would spin these brushes via a belt drive. When it's time to clean the edge of the floor, the operator activates these brushes and moves the machine along next to the wall,. The spinning brushes dig out all dirt in the crack and send it toward the middle of the floor. There, the dirt is easily sucked up.
231. An Easy Dog House
Make a simple house for a small dog out of a plastic trash can. Put the can on its side, furnish the inner decor with his favorite blanket inside, and cut a hole in the lid just big enough for him to enter and leave.
232.   My Kind of Radio! (graphic)
This idea is a continuation of idea #227, which itself is a sequel to another idea about music.
My kind of radio would be able to listen to all receivable radio stations at the same time, or at least scan all stations very quickly. My kind of radio would be able to recognize the music that I like. (After all, if we can digitize music, shouldn't we be able to compare received music with the stuff that I want to hear.)
Whenever the radio hears something that I like, it automatically demodulates that carrier and sends the audio to the speaker. At the same time the radio continues to monitor the airwaves for other music that agrees with me.
First, the Multi-channel tuner demodulates audio on all frequencies that could carry sounds I like. The Digitizer converts these analog audio signal outputs to a digital signals. The Comparator can look for a match between music received on the airwaves to music that I have stored locally. When a match is found, it goes to the speakers.
After checking out this simple block diagram, one may ask, "Why not simply forget the radio and collect all your favorite music on one tape or CD and play that in a system that you described under the heading Music, My Way"?
The answer is found in the block above that is entitled "Stored Segments ...". Notice that this component does not store an unabridged copy of all music I like. Instead, it holds my favorite portions of my favorite tunes, and even my favorite portions of music that I may not otherwise particularly like.
I do this for two reasons:
   This makes the comparison process easier for the computer.
   Hopefully, this may enable the computer to find other music that I like simply because it has a similar sound to music that I do already like.
233.  Protect your Dishwasher! (graphic)
Doesn't is seem that a fully open dishwasher door is vulnerable to damage? After all, it's supported by the hinge at only one end. If someone of any size were to accidentally step or fall on the door when it is horizontal, I believe that it could break off from the base or at least be sufficiently damaged to prevent a waterproof seal when closed.
(But I must admit that in the 10 years that we have had our first dishwasher, this contrived, but reasonable, accident has never actually occurred.)
Why not build extendable legs into the front of the dishwasher door. When the door opens, these legs would automatically unfold from the door and sit on the floor
234.   Job Security
Layoff, downsizing, reduction are intimidating words to any employee. As I approached February 22, 1994, that infamous day of departure for me from my secure job of 18 years, those words would make my heart race.
But suppose that I were able to hold down two or more jobs with two or more different employers. My total time would still be 40 hours, or some reasonable weekly amount. My benefits, including medical, would be provided by both employers, but proportional to the hours served with each.
For example, if I work 25 hours for boss A and 15 for boss B, boss a would pay 62.5% of all my benefits, and boss B pays 37.5%.
If I get laid off from either one, I would have one job for income. Because I am already an established, dependable employee for the remaining boss, it seems more likely that I could increase my hours there. Consider also #182.
235.   Measuring Fan Speed (graphic)
Jesus showed me how to calculate how fast a fan rotates. To do this, you will need two stopwatches and three people, whom I call Tabitha, Cherish and Barry. The experiment begins with the fan operating.
1. Tabitha disconnects power from the fan and starts his stop watch.
2. When the fan slows to a speed at which the rotations can be counted visually, Cherish says "Go" and starts his stopwatch. At that time Barry begins to count rotations out load.
3. When the fan comes to a complete stop, Barry says "STOP." Tabitha and Cherish stop their respective stopwatches.
The graphic shows time on the horizontal axis and fan speed on the vertical axis.
Look at triangle ABC. Side BC is the time on Cherish's stop watch. Side AB is the speed of the fan when Barry said Go. This speed can be calculated by taking the total number of fan rotations between Go and Stop and dividing this by the time Cherish measured (side BC). This will be the average speed during this interval. The speed at time Go is twice this speed.
Having determined side AB and BC, let's look at triangle CDE, which is a similar triangle to ABC. We know side CD, which is Tabitha's measurement. Side DE, which is the speed that we are trying to determine is found as follows:
side BC        =    side AB
side CD            side DE    
This solution assumes linear deceleration of the fan from its operating speed to a full stop.
236.  Wired! (graphic)
You have probably noticed that personal computers are designed so that access to all the connectors and expansion slots is from the back of the unit. I suppose that this is convenient for those applications in which rear access is easy. But often rear access is not so easy.
Therefore, why not have all connectors mount on the front of the computer? In fact, perhaps the front and rear panels can each have a set of all connectors. For those who prefer front connections, cables can route from the back to the front through an empty channel under the base unit. This can be created by adjustable feet. One inch should be ample for all cabling.
This idea had its roots when I wondered why the keyboard doesn't connect to the front. After all, it's always in front of the base unit. Then I realized the inconvenience when I had to pull out the computer from the wall to disconnect my printer when I wanted to download my digital camera.
Then, if expansion modules could slide in through slots that are accessible from the front, upgrades would be a snap.
237. Easy Grocery Loading!
This idea arrived when I was watching the news. I saw footage of emergency personnel loading injured people in the back of an ambulance. I noticed that when the victims, who were lying on their backs on the carriage, entered the back of the ambulance, the legs of the carriage would collapse as the carriage would enter the vehicle.
Why not apply this same technology to shopping carts and station wagons? Shoppers could buy a special cart that would allow them to load groceries into their car without the hassle of unloading bags.
238. Programming for the Masses
I love writing software and creating flow charts. But I despise syntax! It's such a drag to try to remember each little grammatical detail of the human/computer interface.
Wouldn't it be nice if someone would develop a language that would allow a computer to compile a program directly from a flow chart that the programmer would create using a simple, built-in graphics utility?
239.  Car-Driven Boat (graphic)
Years ago, I remember the introduction of a car that you could drive into a lake and it would run like a boat. This vehicle never became popular. I suppose the reason was that it was a poor excuse for both a car and a boat.
But why hasn't someone designed an engineless boat that can carry your car and use the car's engine for power? You could drive your car into a trailer mounted boat via a ramp by the edge of the water. Once secured in the boat, the boat can slide down a ramp into the water.
Next, start your car and put it in gear. The car will not move relative to the boat because the car's drive wheels rest on a pair of rollers. As the wheels turn, they cause the rear roller (i.e., drive shaft a) to turn. A set of differential gears translates this power to drive shaft b, which delivers power to the boat's propeller, and off you go!
When you reach your destination port, detach your car and drive it off your boat to where you want to go. No need to rent a car. Simply rent the boat and use your own car!
Perhaps the front wheels could be coupled to the rudder to allow steering from the car's driver seat. However, the weight of the car demands a low position in the hull for stability and ballast purposes. Therefore, could the hull be made of a clear plastic material for visibility? If not, the craft's helm must reside in a superstructure for better visibility. Or, visibility would be improved using a double-hulled catamaran design that would allow the car to be mounted on a steel frame that connects the two hulls. Also, this wider stance would greatly improve stability in the water. (After all, no one wants their car to become their casket.)
240.   Better Dome Lights (graphic)
I want an attachable dome light for my Chevrolet van, which only has a single, stationary light. Sometimes it doesn't work.
This dome light mounts on the ceiling by its built-in magnet that sticks to the metal roof (through the insulation). This dome light will have four adjustable lights, one for the driver, the front passenger, and the two back seat passengers.
A built-in nicad battery, which provides power to the four bulbs, gets recharged from the cigarette lighter on the dash while the engine is operating. No charge is accepted while the motor is off. The connection to the dash is via a coiled cable that stores in a compartment in the light and stretches to the dash when necessary. Or, small wires are included in the package for those who want to hide the wires in the insulation and chassis.
241. Convertible Shirt Sleeves
Short sleeves in summer, and long sleeves in winter. From a comfort and fashion viewpoint, it's sensible. But it's economically stupid! Why? The existing system makes you buy two separate shirts!
Instead, sell the shirt with Velcro-detachable long sleeves in the winter; and throw in a pair of short sleeves for summer wear. When the weather gets warmer, pull off the long sleeves and attach the short ones. Then keep wearing the same shirt all summer! (unless it's made of flannel or corduroy, of course.)
242. Automatic Pet Scratcher
Smokey, Stormy, Patches, and Princess love to have their ears scratched. I suppose that all dogs and cats do. While I scratch the back of Princess's neck, she gives me a look that says, "This is heavenly. How I wish it would last forever!"
Well, why not? Would it not be possible to design electrically powered mechanical fingers? Could these finger go to scratch mode when a pet walks close enough to trip an photocell?
243.   Cheap Tub-Surround (graphic)
Instead of tiles or special waterproof paneling or and even more expensive tub-surround unit, a much more cost-effective way to cover the walls above the bathroom tub is a 10x6 ` piece of vinyl roll flooring. Just install it the same way that you would install a small floor, except it's vertical, instead of horizontal. Use a piece of curved molding in each corner to avoid any cuts. Seal it real well at the top and especially at the bottom next to the tub.
When I asked an employee at Home Depot about my idea, he said it wouldn't work. The constant pressure of water from the outside would eventually cause the vinyl to separate from the foam backing, he said. Kathy was delighted to hear this. She thought my idea was ludicrous.
I'm not convinced. After all, a vertical surface would shed water much better than a horizontal floor, which could carry standing water. If sealed tightly, how could water cause this damage?
244. Automatic Camera Eyes
While watching the move Mad City, I wondered why someone hasn't developed a certain helpful idea for roving television cameramen and for anyone who uses a video camera frequently.
Why can't a camera be mounted on a reporter's back like a backpack? The camera would peek over the shoulder and have an eyepiece that conveniently drops in front of the face. This would allow hands-free operation and the camera would follow the same direction that the reporter is facing. In fact, the hands-free feature would allow the reporter and the cameraman to be the same person.
245.   Church/ Home School
This is a continuation of idea #34 with a more specialized application.
Church schools could become the central hub for home schoolers. Perhaps not all kids need or want to attend school every day. Some should attend perhaps three times per week, perhaps three time per month, etc. These students would be home schooled most of the time, or some of the time, and attend regular classes on the remainder of school time.
Students would attend classes for the purposes of taking tests or reinforcing lessons, as needed, in a more conventional environment.
A student that is learning at home on any certain day makes available a desk for another student at school. Therefore, the tuition for any student would be proportional to the number of days that a student attends classes. This would result in significant savings for parents and a significantly wider ministry and neighborhood influence for the church.
246. Mid-Sized PC
Today, you can buy a computer in one of two sizes - either desktop or laptop. This restriction is very unfortunate..
Laptops provide the portability that travelers enjoy. However, for the same amount of money you get less computer in the compact models. This includes less speed, less memory, less storage, etc. The full size models provide more power for the buck, but zero mobility.
But what if someone designed a suitcase that would carry the computer's base unit and keyboard. Like a laptop, this mid-sized model would include an LCD display that is located on the inside lid. (Conventional monitors defy easy transport.) The suitcase would include openings for easy connection to external equipment (e.g., modems, etc.). The suitcase would be designed with the intent that the computer would permanently reside therein. Operation in the case should be as easy as operation on the desk.
The result is a computer that has all the capacity of a desktop computer, because after all , it is a desk top computer. It offers portability, although less than a laptop.
247. Projected PC Displays (10/3/98)
At the men's Christian conference at Harvey Cedars on 10/3/98, the words to the songs that we sang were projected onto a screen. Nothing unusual about that, except the words were displayed from a computer file. Instead of display on a conventional monitor, the words appears on a standard movie screen via a projector.
Is there any reason why I can't throw away my monitor and use this projector instead? My display can be as big as my wall, and I suspect that this device pulls much fewer electrons than my 17-inch CRT - less eye strain too.
248. Finger Saver
President/CEO Ideal School Supply Company
11000 South Lavergne Avenue
Oak Lawn, Illinois 60453
Dear Sir or Madam,
I am a satisfied user of the Ingeno GT Paper Trimmer (Model1104). I do have a few ideas that would make this product even better and safer.
Would it be possible to design this product with a clamp that holds all paper in the stack? This feature would prevent the paper from moving while being cut. I have noticed that the paper tends to fan out slightly when cutting several pieces of paper at the same time. I can't seem to prevent this regardless of how hard I press on the stack with my left hand. A paper clamp would minimize this problem, if not correct it altogether.
Also, a clamp would free the user's left hand, which would improve safety. (Your product literature includes a diagram in which the user's left hand is no more than an inch from the cutting edge.)
249. Another Football Innovation
This is a continuation of entry 44, in which I list several ways that I would like to experiment with the rules of this grand old game.
Anyway, I'd like to see the game begin with the ball placed squarely on the 50 yard line. Then one of the two teams runs a single offensive play. When complete, the defensive team becomes the offensive team (and vice versa) and a single play is run in the opposite direction. This continues until either team scores.
These rules include no first downs, and therefore no yard markers or marking chains. These rules include no field goals either. In the event of a lost fumble or interception, the recovering team is awarded possession at either the original line of scrimmage or at the point to which they advance the ball.
250.   Anti-Fluff Device
An organic gas emission device consists of a storage area and an aperture that releases gas from the system. How the aperture releases this gas and how to improve this process is the subject of this entry.
Frequently, this gas accumulates in the storage area until the inner pressure forces the aperture open. When this occurs, the gas escapes in higher quantities and concentration, commonly exceeding the Threshold of Nasal Perception (TNP).
The preferred method releases smaller quantities of gas at more frequent intervals. This method prevents incidents that exceed the TNP.
Notice that the preferred method does not emit less gas. Instead, gas is released in more consistent quantities. As a result the emitted levels never exceed the TNP.
So, the question is, How can we prevent an organic gas emission system from releasing its exhaust in bursts?
The answer is the anti-fluff device, which is nothing more than a soft plastic ring that holds the aperture open at all times. This prevents the buildup of pressure. Gas is emitted almost as quickly as it enters the storage area.
The result is the prevention of pressure buildup, and the miasmic surge when the pressure forces the aperture open and sprays a burst into the environment.
Entry #173 contains related thoughts.
251.   A Better Bible Binder
This idea is a continuation of #171, which considers a better way to manage my personal bible notes and annotations.
I need a bible that can be contained in a loose-leaf, 3-ring binder. Perhaps someone could queue up one of those soft bibles that sell at the Christian book stores.
Why do I want such a bible? Well, whenever I encounter a verse that is simply too convicting, I can simply remove it!
Actually, I have a reason that's even better. Over the years, I have acquired lots of notes that I have squeezed into the margins of my KJV. Each time I wear out a bible, I must transcribe all notes to my new one, which is very time consuming.
What I want to do is store all notes on my computer, and then print out my notes for each book and insert them in my loose-leaf bible. Just the way S.I Scofield would do, if he had a Pentium.
As my notes grow, updates are easy.
252.   FOOPS
The name of the game is FOOPS, which is a contraction for football and hoops, or perhaps full-contact hoops.
Like football, it's a full contact game that's played on a grass field. Furthermore, the players are protected by helmets and shoulder pads.
Like basketball, a standard basketball goal is mounted at either end of the field, which is the size of a basketball court. The field includes all the appropriate markings with two exceptions: there's no lane and no foul line. Each team has five players. FOOPS uses a standard basketball. The ball does not need to be dribbled.
Like football, the ball moves up and down the field by a series of plays. Each offensive team advances the ball toward its goal, and each defensive team stops the ball carrier by either tackling him or forcing him out of bounds. When either occurs, the ball turns over to the team that was on defense, which puts the ball in play from the point at which the ball was stopped on the previous play.
Like basketball, either offensive team can take a shot toward its goal at any time, but there is no such transgression as being fouled in the act of shooting, unless, like football's roughing the kicker rule, it's a late hit (i.e., the ball is already away). back to 187
253.   Schooling Costs
A better way to operate public education would be to solicit competitive bids from the private sector. Competitive free enterprise ensures quality. Also, this plan would help to eliminate educational discrimination in job hiring. By that I mean that a prospective teacher would no longer be required to complete an arbitrary threshold of college education; instead he/she would only be required to demonstrate to the contractor proficiency in teaching and handling children. See also idea #29 or search for discrimination.
254. Virtual Sex
Before we get into the grisly details about this one, let me remind you that just because I am predicting future technologies, that does not make me their initiator.
I expect that within 10 years you can walk into your favorite computer store and buy a box labeled "Virtual Sex". The box contains the following items:
   A full length body suit that is equipped with thousands of electrical nerve endings
   A helmet that is equipped with a state-of-the-art audio/visual system
   Software that loads into your PC
   A cable that connects the body suit to your PC
Virtual Sex will enable anyone to experience all the visual and tactile response of actual sexual intercourse without ever touching a partner. VS provides all the pleasure with no danger of pregnancy or STD.
The software allows the user to choose any scenario and any virtual partner, either real or contrived. In other words, if you can fantasize it, you can experience it.
Suppose this product is refined to become so good that it is indistinguishable from the real thing. Further suppose that it's popularity drives down the cost to make it affordable by nearly anyone. How would this "high-tech masturbation" affect a civilized society?
255. Baseball College of America
This idea comes from the mind of my son, but it deserves entry into the big list. (Hey, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree!)
Have you ever considered all the professions that relate to baseball? Here's my quick list, but I'm sure that there are many more.
   Field Manager
   General Manager
   Field Maintenance
   Sports Writer
   Equipment Manager
   Bat Boy
   Food Vendor
Many of these jobs are needed not only on the professional level, but on the college and even high school level as well.
Why not create an educational institution that trains students in all these career fields?
One job that is conspicuously missing from this list is player. This is because I expect that student body of the Baseball College of America would consist mostly of the following:
Baseball fans who want to transfer their love of the game to a paying vocation
Aging or former players who are looking for a second career
Although BCA would not have a baseball team of its own, it would teach its students how to teach real players all the practical skills of the game.
Anyway, I visualize an accredited, ivy-walled campus in Cooperstown, NY, where the renowned faculty imparts their baseball wisdom to paying students.
256.  Ambidextrous Baseball Glove (graphic)
Is it really necessary to make a different baseball glove for southpaws? If we replace the glove's web (between the thumb and forefinger) with one or maybe two additional fingers, it should fit either a right hand or left hand.
Then, if the glove is designed to allow the thumb to fold across the palm of the glove from both the right and left side, you have a glove that should provide satisfactory performance for both lefties and righties.
257. Nerf Pitching Machine
Someone who is smart enough to know said that the most important reason that Michael Jordan would never have a successful baseball career is due to his late entry into this sport. This expert noted that the vast majority of successful major league hitters began to develop this skill at a very early age. To learn at Michael's age how to spot a pitched ball, estimate its speed and flight path and decide whether or not to swing the bat all within a few milliseconds would be a truly remarkable accomplishment.
Therefore, why doesn't the manufacturer of Nerf toys offer a pitching machine for toddlers?
258. Automatic Volume Control
Maybe if I weren't so cheap, I would buy a vehicle of sufficient quality so I wouldn't need this idea. But if you drive the kind of car that I do, I find that I turn up the radio when the car is moving and I turn down the volume when the car is not.
So, why not design a car radio that allows the driver to select both a stop and go volume level? Not only would this be a convenience, but it should also improve safety in a small way. The driver would not have to take his/her eyes off the road to find the volume adjustment control.  
259. Anti-Lockout Design
Have you ever locked yourself out of your car. I have - many times. I've tucked coat hangers under my fender for situations such as these.
But is that necessary? Why not design a door lock mechanism that does not lock if the key is in the ignition and no one is sitting in the driver's seat? Such a design would prevent someone from locking their car by pushing the lock button to the locked setting and closing the door from the outside while the key is stuck in the slot.
But it would not prevent someone from locking the door while in the driver's seat.
This shouldn't be too hard to make. Sensors are already in place for both the seat and the ignition. Further, all door locks are already wired for central control.
Let's do it!
260. Your Computer is Calling
I frequently use Microsoft Schedule, which reminds me of appointments and important things to do when I should do them.
But my computer can't help me remember stuff if I'm not logged on. I'm on my own then, and because I'm such an air-head, important stuff is often forgotten when I'm away.
Why not design a reminder utility that can be used 24 hours a day? To make this work, we simply need to use some modern technology.
As you know, when a scheduled reminder arrives while the computer is turned on and the reminder utility is active, the computer activates an audible alarm and pops my prerecorded message on the screen, which might say:
Take your medicine!
So I swallow my pills, click OK and continue my work.
But what happens when the machine is turned off?
When the computer is turned off, the internal clock is still running. So, when it's time for a reminder, why not let the arrival of a pre-set time automatically turn on the computer, which would then activate the audible and visual message. If I'm within hearing range, I'll come to my keyboard and acknowledge the message, which powers down my PC.
And if I'm too far away to hear, what then? Then the modem will dial a pre-set number. When answered, a digitized pre-recorded voice will say:
Barry, take your medicine! If this is Barry, press 1; if not, press 2.
If 1 is pressed, the alarm is acknowledged and the computer goes back to sleep. If 2 is pressed, another number is dialed; perhaps a cell phone.
If the reminder is important enough, several numbers can be programmed for sequential calling.
But suppose the first that you want dialed is your home number, which is the same location as your computer. How could you ring your home phone from your computer which is connected to the same number?
Can't we design a telephone A/B switch that would enable the computer to seize the phone line from the external connection to the central office and simulate a call from the outside? It seems doable.
261. National Conscription
Sometimes I feel that there are entirely too many young Americans who simply do not appreciate the enormous privilege of their birthright.  
What if every young person, upon graduation from high school or age 19, were required to serve four years for his/her country. Service can be military (army, navy, etc.), or humanitarian (building hospitals, schools, roads, etc. either here or around the world). All service people would take boot camp, where they would learn military-like discipline, regardless of the form of service they choose.
Aside from the valuable service that our country would receive, these young Americans, would have the priceless opportunity to learn self-reliance, responsibility, maturity, and an appreciation of what being an American really is.
262. Out of Reach!
I'm a middle-aged male who likes to play pickup basketball games with other men of my age and younger.  Because I'm 6'6" and usually the tallest player by a few inches, I have a natural advantage, even though I'm usually slower and do not have many of the shooting and ball-handling skills that the smaller players may have.
I have discovered that I can put the ball in a location that is almost inaccessible to all other players.  That location, of course, is as high over my head as I can reach.  Although other players can reach the ball by jumping, they often foul me when they try.
I shoot many overhead set shots (with my feet on the floor and the ball held as high as possible).  Although this shot can be blocked by a shorter defender when jumping, I simply wait for him to return to the floor and then I have an unobstructed shot.  Or, while he is on the floor, I can fake an overhead set shot.  If my defender jumps to deflect the shot, I can either wait for him to come down before I shoot, or perhaps I can slip him by for a lay-up.
What I'm saying is that if Shawn Bradley were on my team, I would have him practice lots and lots of standing overhead set shots. At 7'6", his shots would be unblockable by anyone else in the league without leaving the floor.
263. Wet Thoughts
Try these ideas on your swimming pool:
   Design a swimming pool that uses a pump that resides in a sump next to the pool. Water could move to the pump via above ground channels. This design avoids the necessity of evacuating the pipes at the end of the season. A non submersible pump should be used to prevent electrical hazard to swimmers.
   It seems that pool lights that shine from beneath the water level are also hazardous. Why not install the light above the water level and connect the light from the pool light to the opening in the side wall of the pool using a channel with mirrored inner walls.
   Suppose that in-ground swimming pool covers consisted of a retractable surface that is made of a rigid metal grid. When retracted, the cover would split into 2 or more segments and each would be pulled back and rest in a recessed area at the edge of the pool. The top of the cover would be covered by an outdoor carpet and would serve as part of the patio around the pool when in the open position. This type of cover has several benefits. First, the cover is a firm surface that can be walked on, thereby providing additional outdoor area when the pool cover is closed. Second, the entire pool is covered and no children can fall in accidentally. Third, you don't need a 5-foot safety fence around the pool. Fourth: ease, winterization is easier. If you are still having trouble visualizing this idea, take your VCR and plug in your copy of It's a Wonderful Life. You too could do the Charleston on top of your pool.
264. E-Receptionist (6/10/00)
Here's an idea for those cheapskate doctors, dentists, lawyers, and all other professionals who do not want to hire a receptionist to schedule their appointments.
The patient visits the doctor's web site, which displays a calendar of all available appointments. The patient clicks on the slot he/she wants and it's done.
Could this idea be adapted for use with a touch tone phone?
265. A Better Way to Play "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" (6/10/00)
Have you noticed that the normally unflappable Regis becomes just a little edgy when a contestant takes lots of time to respond? I have felt that way too.
Why not include a clock? Suppose the contestant has a total of five minutes to answer all questions? The clock begins after Regis reads each question. The clock stops when the contestant chooses the response, which is one of the four answers, one of the three lifelines, or withdrawal. The clock also begins when a lifeline is completed.
One down side of this idea is that Regis would no longer pose that ominously famous question, "Is that your final answer?" The contestant's answer is final the moment he/she touches the screen to make the selection.
But to compensate the contestant for this more difficult format, I would offer a fourth lifeline, which would allow the contestant to skip one question. However, the contestant does not advance by using this lifeline.
266.   Rubber Glasses (6/10/00) (graphic)
Why can't we buy universal frames for our eyeglasses? Such frames would allow the wearer to insert the lenses and turn a screw, which would tighten the frames around the lenses. The frames, therefore, would conform to the shape of the lenses. Or, if the frames were made out of a strong and flexible breed of rubber or rubber-like product, the frames could be stretched to accommodate the lenses.
I suppose that all of us like to protect our professional secrets. I'm talking about those little pieces of information, which could undermine the security of my livelihood should too many people find out.
Well, I'm blowing the cover on optometrists. Whenever you need to replace the lenses in your glasses, they don't do it in front of you. They take your frames and your replacement lenses to the back room where they do their professional magic.
No, I don't know how it's done either. But suppose someone comes up with a technique that lets anyone replace their own lenses? The lenses would be the same, but the frames would be different.
These new frames are made from bendable wire covered by stretchable rubber. Their makeup would be similar to those poseable character toys, that allow you to bend one arm this way, the other that way, and the legs in different directions, etc.
The only part of these frames that would not include a wire in the center would be the lower half of each lens holder. This area would stretch to allow the user to push each lens into the frame. Because it's rubber, the frame could accommodate a wide range of lens sizes.
The part of the frame that holds the lens is slotted on the inner side to hold the lens.
267. A Hole in the Wind Shield! (6/10/00)
I'm tired of trying to glue my rear view mirror on the inside of my car's front window. Sooner or later the glue lets go.
Hey, wouldn't it be handy if the front wind shield were pre-drilled in the top center to mount the mirror with a nut and bolt?
268. Downloadable Watch (6/18/00)    
My PC includes a software utility called Microsoft Schedule, which I use to remind me of all my appointments when they occur. But I can't be at my computer all the time.
My watch, however, is with me nearly all the time, but it's such a pain to enter all those reminders using two little buttons.
So, wouldn't it be nice if I could download say… one week's worth of appointments from my PC to my wristwatch? Of course, my watch would need an upgrade to include a miniature datacom port.