Friday, February 22, 2008

Tuned Guard Rails and Fences

Wacky public art project that tunes all the guard rails along a parkside or path to real notes. Must be somewhat muffled to keep the neighbors happy. Brass markers in the cement show you what notes are which and even give you songs to play. Would be a fun companion to the brass dance steps on Capitol Hill in Seattle.

Alternate version: Wooden fenceposts tuned like a marimba would do the same thing and sound better. Should be tuned funky, like in pentatonic scale or all minor scales.

Dance Dance Power Generation!

The floor of the danceclub floats on a large platform that rocks back and forth in all directions (or multiple platforms so you don't slip and fall off!). That kinetic energy gets translated into power and that power lights up the club. The more people dance, the more frenetic the lights get. Slower (but still active) dancing will mellow out the lights and trigger a sooting light show. Particular songs during the night might be set to do particular light shows. Hell Yes, Loch Ness!

Chipped auto-cruise control for highways

On my local 520 bridge (Governor AD Rosselini), there's a lot of traffic and subsequent frustrations and accidents. What if every car (I know, crazy) had a chip that was seen by a road computer, and the road computer triggered the cars to go into cruise control for a particularly difficult stretch of road, perfectly spaced apart and requiring no brakes? We'd all go broke paying for it, yes, but it would sure be neat and safe.

Speed suggesting reader boards on highways

Sign on the highway that is connected to current traffic reports could tell drivers that if they ALL go 45 mph, they will get there 10 minutes faster than if they go stop-and-go from 10-60 mph. This will require some training and education, but if you posted the time saved and remind people that it will ALSO REDUCE TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS, they may change their minds about the need to briefly pass that one car they just HAVE to get around only to have him slowly creep by you a mile down the road.

Bonus: if we're all going the same speed and not causing as many traffic accidents, the traffic times will be reduced over again thanks to a lack of bottlenecks and brakelights. It would reduce wear and tear on your cars (and clutches), and make it easier to make cellphone calls (you know you do it).

Time share parking spaces

Groups of people, families, friends, you name it, might want to collectively buy a parking space downtown and post a schedule for its use on an internally accessible website (with cellphone alerts). If enough people do it (and adhere to the schedule!), you might come out financially ahead as well as happily and unstressfully parked. Works best in uncovered monthly spaces.

Alternately, you could auction your daily work parking space off on a website so downtowners might get a break on their bar-hopping or whatever. Lots of spaces downtown go unused at night, and the big garages are super-expensive. Make a buck and help the planet by not driving all around the block 20 times hoping for a space to open up...

Selective Family Reunions

In order to build some dysfunctional families up step by step to a full scale family reunion, perhaps it might be a good idea to isolate certain levels and genres of the family for selective reunions.

All the cousins might have a reunion, without the potential baggage and complication of a lot of aunts, uncles and grandparents (depending on the age of the cousins, of course). But maybe not depending, maybe the younger cousins might go on a chaperoned field trip. Maybe a "siblings only" retreat, or a "inlaws reunion" or a "grandparents golf trip" or a "half-sibling hang-out". The goal may or may not be to build up to a larger all-encompassing family reunion, but sometimes the smaller reunions are what might do the trick for some families.

People do act very differently when the whole misphacha are in the mix, lots of old rivalries and past wrongs are brought to bear. Sometimes it's just best to take it slowly and see what heals...

Baby (un)Steady cam

You know the tool, it's for keeping a video camera steady while you walk around. It has a cool smooth operating effect, and is responsible for making sure we all don't puke at every action movie.

The best ones are hooked directly to the body of the camera person, and the lightweight ones are hooked to a waist-belt that transfers the weight to your hips like a big backpack would. It takes the weight off your shoulders, and lets you keep your arms more free.

I need something like that for carrying my baby around for the hours (sometimes) that it takes to hand-rock my baby to sleep. I have an "Ergo" carrier, but it often squishes them a bit too much and they don't sleep well in it. I want it to be able to support my now 11 lb baby's weight and let me kind of jump walk around with it to give it some motion. I don't want it entirely steady, so some kind of pendulum system should be employed, or perhaps a heavy vibration motor installed.

War mongers must go to War

I am fully against war, in almost all its forms. Even a so-called "defensive" war would be hard for me to get behind. War sucks, and we'd all do better to have less of them.

Enter the classic idea (and still excellent) of sending the warmongers to war. It's just common sense. If you advocate for an aggressive war, you must participate in it. If you think you are too old, then you need to rethink your hawkish stance for you will still be compelled to fight. That's real "skin in the game" as they say. At risk of sounding as political as I am at heart, the Bush administration has many a hawk that never spent time fighting war, yet they are the most excited to wage it. This would end if there was a mandate to fight wars that one advocates.

More Playground water pumps for developing world

On the same idea that Playpumps uses, why not make a bunch of different play equipment that does the same thing (and doesn't make people so damn dizzy!)?

•A see-saw is a simple playground toy, and easily (and historically) makes for a great pumping mechanism.
• Another could be a hard-poled swing (instead of a chain-swing) that works like a pump-jack.
• Another could be a barrel-roll or tire-roll (using stuff that is more readily available), which could be used to turn an Archimedes water-screw.
• Another could be a modified platform teeter-totter that is a big metal disk with guardrails that teeters in all directions.

There you go, an idea worth no fewer than 4 ideas, and helps the developing world by easing their daily water commutes. Somebody, please do this stuff! I'm no engineer...