Archive for the ‘Ideas’ Category


I took the family to watch a local theater production of Fiddler on the Roof. We also happened to be discussing basic math around the same time, so I came up with the following song. I didn’t bother to put it into sheet music form – if you don’t know the song well enough to sing it in your head with these new words, then you wouldn’t appreciate it anyway.

Who, day and night, must add up numbers quickly,
Scaling up summation, by a common term?
And who has the right, as dear Aunt Sally says, to go first in the operations?

The product, the product!
The product, the product!

Who must know the way to split the numbers up, in equal parts, in kosher parts?
Who must use long form to get the answer right, to get remainders to cooperate?

The quotient, the quotient!
The quotient, the quotient!

If you want to combine numbers but don’t want to count up,
Just use the plus sign in your math; it makes things easy.

The sum, the sum!
The sum, the sum!

And who does the equation ask to count backwards,
Comparing the two numbers, to find the space between?

The difference, the difference!
The difference, the difference!

It mostly fits, except that tradition is three syllables and multiplication is five. It works great with division, addition, and subtraction. If you know of any 3-syllable word that means “multiplication” and rhymes with tradition, please put that in a comment.

I wasn’t trying to put the 4 terms in the order of operations, but it worked out nicely that way. What I did was tried to fit the math term with the closest-sounding original word. I think I started with “the sum” matching up with “the son” and then I matched “the product” with “the papa”, then “the difference” with “the daughter” because they both start with D. That paired “the quotient” with “the mama”, which doesn’t really match but there was not much of a choice left.

Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you.

1 Corinthians 11:2

Graduation Speech Help

Since graduation season is just around the corner, there may be commencement speakers who are starting to write their speeches. I expect that most of those speakers were chosen because of some skill or accomplishment, which indicates they have the capacity to plan ahead and write well.

But for those commencement speakers who like to fly by the seat of their pants and are looking for some last-minute help, here is a handy guide.

The go-to phrase for graduation speeches is something about how the wish is for the students to not just survive, but thrive.

Don’t use that phrase.

I’m sure it wasn’t so bad the first dozen times, but now everyone has tired of hearing it.

My suggestion: find a different word from thrive.

That will throw off the audience. Start with the “not just survive” bit, but change it. Here are some other words that rhyme with survive.

  • strive
  • drive
  • chive
  • jive
  • dive
  • five
  • hive
  • alive

These words might or might not make any sense for your graduating class. But at least the audience won’t tune out the rest of the speech like they would with “thrive”.

Any other suggestions?

The others came out from the city to encounter them, so that they were trapped in the midst of Israel, some on this side and some on that side; and they slew them until no one was left of those who survived or escaped.

Joshua 8:22

Deli Solution

There are some inefficiencies with the process of obtaining items from the deli department of the grocery store. I highlighted one of them in a previous post, and I’m sure many of you could provide other examples.

But today, we are going to solve many of them. With an improvement to the ubiquitous Take-A-Number system.

Today, I propose to you the deli Take-An-Order system.

It’s actually my wife’s idea, which is odd because she’s the one who doesn’t mind talking to people and she doesn’t avoid confrontation, both opposite of me. But I wholeheartedly endorse her idea here.

The Take-An-Order system is a combination of take-a-number and self-check-out. Except that instead of checking out your order, you are putting it in. The deli would have a kiosk or two with a touchscreen, very familiar to most deli customers these days. Enter your order and the system would give you a number, like some fast-food restaurants do. Plus they could give you an estimated time of fulfillment. Or, even better, you could enter your cell phone # and the system could text you when your order is ready, leaving you free to do the rest of your shopping in the meantime.

What about hooligans who would try to mess things up by entering a bunch of bogus orders, causing confusion and unnecessary work? Simple, require a swipe of a loyalty card or credit card before letting the user input the order.

What about people who pay cash and don’t have a loyalty card? Simple, there will still be deli workers behind the counters, so they could take in-person orders too. That will help those people who want personal interaction from their deli.

Other benefits of this system include increased efficiency of the workers. Think about how many times they go back and forth from the customer to the food supply to the slicing machines back to the customer. And that customer has 3 or 4 items he wants, so the deli worker has to make those rounds multiple times per customer. How much quicker would things get done if the worker had the whole order at once, could line up all the items, and make one trip to the slicing machine?

Even further, how many times does the worker get a style of meat, cut off some slices, and put it back – only to have another customer order the same thing and have to get it back out again? The Take-An-Order system could aggregate the orders, so all the honey ham orders from all customers within a 15-minute window could be cut at the same time, then all the roast beefs, etc.

For customer satisfaction, the thickness of the cut would be consistent. The order interface would have objective thickness options, such as 1/8″, instead of vague “thin” or “medium”.

And for our family, I know we get approximately the same items every week or so. How much more convenient would it be if I swiped my loyalty card and my most recent orders were displayed and I could just tap on them to order them again?

Imagine that scenario: I walk up to a deli kiosk with no wait. I swipe my card, tap a couple of things, and go on my way. I walk around the store, usefully shopping while my order is filled, and receive a text that my order is complete and I can pick it up at my convenience. Deli utopia, I say!

Overachieving grocery stores could have the completed deli orders routed to the check-out aisles, so customers don’t even have to go back to the deli. As they swipe their loyalty cards during checkout, their deli items are rung up and placed in their bags.

The current system, in the words of Sir Topham Hatt, causes confusion and delay. It could be so much better.

From there he spies out food; His eyes see it from afar.

Job 39:29


Here’s my latest idea: skeeball plus bowling.

image of skeebowl

It’s perfect for people like me, who never got the hang of spinning the bowling ball to make it curve.

I’m not going to get around to making this, so someone else can give it a try.

He who digs a pit will fall into it, And he who rolls a stone, it will come back on him.

Proverbs 26:27

Daniel Plans

The Daniel Plan is a fairly successful diet to help people become healthier.


But one’s physical body is only one aspect of oneself. What about mental health or emotional health or spiritual health?

Could we get Daniel Plans for those?

The Biblical Daniel plan, as opposed to the American Daniel Plan, was to eat only vegetables and drink only water, forgoing meat and wine (which would include today’s soft drinks, I assume).

To look at it another way, the Daniel meal plan is about eating what you need and what is good for you, not what you want and what pleases your taste buds.

If you take that concept and apply it to other areas, what would it look like?

Mental health – avoiding television? Limiting your playlist?

Emotional health – limiting your internet? being more selective in the books you choose?

Spiritual health – studying the Bible more? reading fewer blogs?

The only problem with the non-physical Daniel plan is that there is no good way to track progress. Physically, you can measure things: weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, etc. But the health aspects that are not physical are more subjective.

Go ahead and try a 10-day detox, not just of foods that are bad for you, but also of media that are bad for you. Chances are good that whatever pleases God will also be healthier for you – body, soul, mind, and spirit.

But Daniel said to the overseer whom the commander of the officials had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, “Please test your servants for ten days, and let us be given some vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance be observed in your presence and the appearance of the youths who are eating the king’s choice food; and deal with your servants according to what you see.”

Daniel 1:11-13

Uses for Selfie Sticks

Selfie sticks elicit reactions from people. General concensus seems to be disapproval of selfie sticks, but some people might find them useful.

But that is the reaction to using the selfie stick to take pictures of oneself.

What if the selfie stick were being used for a different purpose?

I propose that the derision the selfie stick provokes is not due to the stick itself but at the selfish nature of a person who takes many photos of himself. And a selfie stick used for a different purpose would not be scoffed at.

Lighter Stick

For example, given the number of injuries reported in the news this summer due to fireworks mishaps, people should be encouraging the use of lighter sticks.

image of a selfie stick that is being used to light fireworks with a lighter

That would keep fingers and such out of harm’s way when lighting fireworks. Any explosions would damage an easily-replaceable selfie stick and the person’s hand would remain unharmed.

Spray Stick

Another example is wasp spray or bug killer or whatever. Yes, they have the cans that can spray a jet of fluid a good distance, but there are situations where those won’t work well. Or maybe you have a homebrew wasp or hornet repellent and you can’t get it to squirt that far.

image of a selfie stick that is being used to spray for wasps

Plus, the wasps would be so busy laughing at the sight of a selfie stick approaching them that they wouldn’t be able to form an attack.

Snake Stick

Sure, there are already commercially available pest-control harness or snake tongs, but this item is more to upgrade the perception of the selfie stick in the mind of the general public.

image of a selfie stick that is being used to grab a snake

I mean, who is going to mock someone who is carrying a Cobra Stick?

Any other suggested uses for selfie sticks?

But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened itself on his hand.

Acts 28:3

Grocery Shopping Tips

In case there are people out there who need help optimizing their trips to the grocery store, I have a few tips. Although, chances are good that if you’re reading this then you’re old enough to have been to the grocery store enough to have your own system.

  • Park near a cart corral.
    This is in order to facilitate your exit. If you park near a cart corral, you won’t have to go very far to return your cart after loading the groceries into your vehicle. This is especially helpful if you have small children to buckle in car seats. If you have an ineffective conscience and can leave shopping carts scattered around the parking lot to annoy other customers, then this tip is even more important because you need the help to take care of your cart.
  • Start at the deli counter.
    Unless, of course, you don’t have any deli items on your list. But if you do, go to the deli first. Grab a ticket and see how close they are to your number. If it’s close, stick around and get your stuff soon. If it’s not close, start your shopping and check back in from time to time so you don’t miss your turn. Last time, I was able to get all my other shopping done (not a big list) in the time it took for them to get through the other deli customers.

    You may be tempted to look at the deli line and tell yourself you’ll come back at the end of your shopping trip if the line’s short, so that the cold cuts can stay cold. But if you do that, the line will have grown significantly when you return, and then you’ll have to wait around uselessly. Either get your deli items or take a number at the beginning of the shopping trip.

  • Load big or heavy items on the conveyor belt first.
    This is not what most people do, because they usually have the smaller, lighter items on top of the bigger, heavier items in the cart. And people naturally grab what’s first and work their way down when at the cashier. But this then causes problems when taking the bags from the bagger and putting them back in the cart. You end up putting the lighter, more fragile items in the cart first and then have to try to fit big things in later.

    An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. So you won’t have to worry about anything when putting bags in the cart if you just grab the big items first. I grab big items (except for things under the cart), then I do smaller heavy items like cans and jars, then I do all the frozen items, then the refrigerated items, then the soft or fragile items. That way, the loaf of bread doesn’t end up squished by the bag of apples.

Any other tips?

Our father said, “Go back, buy us a little food.”

Genesis 44:25