I love to drive to nowhere. It is so de-stressing. However, it also is destroying the planet, so I don't do it much anymore. (Psst. I occasionally take the long way to get somewhere, though.) While I'm driving I feel like my brain can just wander around to wherever it needs to go; to corners of thought that may have been neglected and could use some extra attention. It is usually while driving that come up with my brilliant ideas. My brilliance covers a wide spectrum. Sometimes I think about how to better organize my projects at work or a better budget plan for our family finances. But most often my brilliant ideas come in two forms: a great new business idea or a way to help humanity. I listen to NPR and there's usually at least one story a day that makes me think either, "I should totally be figuring out a way to make money off of this!" or "There really must be a way to make that better for people."
I'll have to admit, I haven't really put many of my ideas into practice. Well really, I haven't really put any of them into practice. I usually come home and share my most recent brilliant idea with my husband who gives me a look that says, "That's really a great idea, Sweetie, but I'm not sure that it's practical." Hmph. OK, my ideas may not be perfect, but I'm trying to solve some of the largest problems on the planet: corruption in politics, unfair tax policies, world poverty... and I'm doing it all alone in my car! Come on, this is pretty good stuff for one chick alone in her car, isn't it???
I'll give you an example. Here is my last totally brilliant idea:
I was listening to a story about poverty somewhere in Central America, I think it was Guatemala. And I just kept thinking that there must be a way to harness the power of human beings in a way that will provide them with something to do (i.e. earn a wage) and also produce something that the world needs. (Kind of like the Matrix, only less sinister.) What do we worldly inhabitants need? Hmm. What could any human produce that would require no training, just the willingness to work? Well, we could build another Egyptian style pyramid, but that doesn't seem very useful. Then I got it! Electricity! What if we could use people to generate electricity? We really need electricity. We could really use a method of generation that doesn't destroy our planet. People could generate it through manually powering generators. This doesn't sound like the most efficient way to produce electricity, I know, but that's not what this is about. We could put people to work generating something that is actually needed! Sure, the people probably wouldn't make a lot of money, but in poor nations, people already live on dollars a day, so if they could produce $20-$30 a day that would be HUGE.
I told my husband. He gave me the look.
Whatever. This is a brilliant idea. It could end world poverty.
So unlike most of my other brilliant ideas, I did some research. First question: How much does a unit of electricity cost? Well here in Illinois, it costs just over $0.08 per kWh. Wow. That's pretty cheap. I could be in trouble here, but I push on. Next question: How much electricity could a person generate in a day? I'm thinking we put people to work on spin bikes hooked up to generators and have them pedal up some electricity.
I ran this by Hubby again. He laughed out loud. "You're going to have someone ride a spin bike for eight hours!? You know they're going to be going very slow if they have to ride for eight hours, right?"
Whatever. Time for more research. Turns out there is a company that makes something called a Pedal-a-Watt, which is exactly what I was thinking: a device you hook up to your spin bike to turn it into a generator. Now the website isn't really the greatest, but from what I can tell, I can expect to generate about 250 watts in one hour. Wait... what? 250 watts? That's it? No, not kiloWatts, just plain old single watts. 250 of them.
At this point, it's pretty clear that I don't need to do the math, but what the hell, let's do it anyway just so that Hubby can feel justified for his previous look.
250 watts x 8 hours = 2,000 watts generated in one work day At $0.08 per kWh, that's a whopping $0.16 per day.
So it seems that instead of ending world poverty, I am instead planning on enslaving human kind to just to generate enough electricity to power my refrigerator.
Ah well. They can't all be winners. I have lots more ideas though, and the rest really are brilliant. Really.
What? Don't give me that look.