Pro Locker Decorators

My mother is a high-school teacher. She reports that, in the last several years, it has become a ritual for mothers to come in and help daughters decorate their lockers. In the old days, we were left to fend for ourselves with nothing more than a pair of scissors, a roll of scotch tape, a Sharpie, and a glue stick, but it seems that standards have risen, and the well-pampered teen needs a unique and tasteful locker decor.

What’s a working mom to do for her daughter? Hire a professional locker decorator!

What, there aren’t any yet? Start one!

A Thought on Geography

My co-worker Eitan noted today at lunch a difference between living close to the equator and close to the pole (in a relative sense; Seattle is not really all that far north): Near the equator, one notices the rotation of the Earth; near the pole, one notices the revolution of the Earth around the Sun.

To unpack this statement slightly: near the equator, the sun’s track through the sky remains relatively constant, as do the lengths of night and day and the climate. Nearer to the pole, the sun’s track moves dramatically over the course of the year, the lengths of night and day shift quite a bit, and the climate develops seasons. (Of course these have to do also with the Earth’s tilt, and it’s the combination of tilt and revolution that cause these effects, but Eitan’s formulation is more poetic and compact.)

One of the great pleasures of living in Seattle has been for me climbing onto the roof of my building (sssh, don’t tell my landlord!) and watching the Sun set over Elliott Bay; one of the ancillary pleasures has been watching the seasons change, based on how far north or south the Sun is at sunset. It’s an elegant and satisfying demonstration of astronomical principles.

Outsource Store Security Cameras

Put all of your retail outlet’s security cameras on the Internet as free webcams. Pay bounties when Internet viewers catch shoplifters, if store security catches the bad guys. Hire fewer store security guys. Get people looking in your stores, even when they’re at home. Surely retail lust will increase?

Sure, the bad guys will figure out where the cameras are this way. But if you drop a couple of security guys, you can afford a whole lot more cameras.

“Old Las Vegas” Theme Casino

On my recent road trip, my girlfriend and I spent a night in Las Vegas. The conversation turned, as it does, to what had once been, to what the town had been like before Steve Wynn and the others in the new generation of casino owners turned the place into a theme park.

Which brought to mind the idea of an “Old Las Vegas” theme casino: it could have a miniature reproduction of the old Las Vegas strip, with all of the now-demolished casinos, a la “New York New York.”

Capsule Hotels in U.S. Airports

After a zillion more hours spent in airports for my Chicago trip (where, contrary to both expectations and experience, everything worked out as planned — heck, the flight home on Southwest arrived almost half an hour early!), it occurred to me that American airports need Japanese-style capsule hotels.

These should be past security, so you don’t need to fight your way through that line more than once. In the post-9/11 world, people are arriving at the airport many hours early, getting through security fast as possible, and then wait trapped in the newly-built malls that are now being built in the ‘secure’ areas at the airport. Adding a living dimension to those nascent communities gives the possibility for new life inside America’s ‘green zones.’

Airlines could use them for putting up passengers who missed their connecting flights and are stuck; it would be so much better than the current voucher system. People could check in absurdly early for their flights and get a good long nap, since they feature built-in alarm clocks, rent by the hour and are machine-sterilized between visitors. You’re lonely? Some hottie is lonely too? Take advantage of your delayed flight’s silver lining…

“New York Apartment Porn” Film Festival

When Melinda and Melinda came out, several reviews mentioned the unrealistically gorgeous New York apartments occupied by the young characters in the film, usually with more than a hint of lust.

A film festival that catered to ooohs and aaaahs over sexy airbrushed real estate could be a lot of fun. “Ooooh, look at the architectural detail!” “Yes, I’ve always wanted a pre-war Brownstone with marble floors…”

Names for West Washington

Recently, The Stranger wrote about eastern Washington State’s wish to be a separate state from western Washington State. The two halves are quite different: western Washington is much more liberal and urban; eastern washington is rural and largely conservative, and feels ignored by state politics.

The Stranger’s article suggested that Washington, DC could also become a state — its two liberal senators would offset the two conservative senators that would be added by Western Washington. That solves one problem, but not another: which state would be Washington? East Washington and West Washington are boring names, so let’s just give that to DC; they can have it.

One wag at dinner the other night suggested that East Washington could be Spokanistan after their likely capital, Spokane, but I think that they would take offense at that and I don’t really blame them. Perhaps since we would split the state at the Cascade Mountains, they could be Cascadia, a name that people in Western Washington would like to keep for themselves.

But let them have it. It’s a pretty name, and there aren’t a lot of other pretty names I could think of for that state. Western Washington could be Pacifica, after the lovely ocean we’ve got next door. Or — since eastern Washington is named after a mountain range — we could be named after our capitol, also a mountain range, and be Olympia.

I like Cascadia / Olympia as names for our new states.

Mall-based Laptop Repair

You could do it at a kiosk, probably, if you had a safe way to store laptops.

Drop ’em off one day, pick ’em up a day later. Certain problems resolved; others perhaps not, but much like a dry cleaner’s for your laptop’s software problems. Heck, if you had a storefront and two guys, maybe you could get same-day on a bunch of things.

Specialize in laptops, because they’re smaller and easier to deal with than desktops. (Also, because you don’t need to hook much up to make them work.) Do it at mall kiosks for all the people who walk by regularly; if you can, do it on a mall very near to a college campus. Even if the school does offer free computer support, I suspect that you could very quickly become more trusted than the school’s tech people, just so long as you were competent.