Idea Machine, Day 9: Airlines Show Love to Coach

Today's Become an Idea Machine topic is, to paraphrase slightly, to list 10 ways that commercial airlines could make air travel more pleasant for us. Here goes: 1. Provide free noise-canceling headphones. 2. Give us free fresh fruit. 3. Place a fresh flower on each seat cushion. 4. Guarantee space in overhead bin. 5. Provide more oxygen (better air quality). 6. Have the pilot … [Read more...]

Idea Machine, Day 7: Favorite Books of All Time

Books are the focus for day 7 of Claudia Altucher's new book, Become an Idea Machine—which I adopted as a blogging project for The Ben Franklin Follies. Here are some of favorite books of all time and why, which explain a little bit about what I learned from them. I'm basically typing directly from my journal entry the morning of January 31 with little-to-no additional thought or editing. In a … [Read more...]

Idea Machine Day 6: Easier Air Travel

Today is Day 6 of the Idea Machine Project, following along with Claudia Altucher's new book, Become an Idea Machine. Today's topic: 10 things I could do to make my personal air travel easier. Air travel is a huge headache, so I should definitely make the effort to implement at least some of these ideas. 1. Take the time now to configure my password software across all my devices so that … [Read more...]

Idea Machine, Day 4: Coursera

For Day 4 of Claudia Altucher's Become an Idea Machine project, the prompt is to describe 10 course topics for Coursera with the emphasis on "courses I would take." As much as I love to learn, this one was a bit tougher for me because of the requirement that these be "courses I would take." Why does that make the topic difficult? I have 4 degrees: BA, JD, LL.M., Ph.D., along with a … [Read more...]

10 Ideas: Time for Quiet, Gratitude

This is Day 3 in the Idea Machine practice. As explained here, I'm following along with the prompts in Claudia Altucher's new book Become An Idea Machine. Today's Topic: List 10 places or moments in the day where I can pause, get centered and experience gratitude. Since I'm already doing this, or at making an effort to get quiet each day for at least 10 minutes of silent breathing … [Read more...]

Idea Machine: Apps I Would Use

For Day 2, Claudia Altucher's prompt is to list 10 apps I'd like to use. The rules say it doesn't matter if the app already exists. Here's the list I came up in about 15 minutes. I included more than 10 apps because some (most?) of them do exist--just not to my satisfaction! Reminder that I'm simply re-typing these from my journal and not taking time to do much, if any, editing. 1. App that … [Read more...]

Turning Dislikes Into Opportunities for Gratitude

As I explain over on my professional blog,, I decided to take on Claudia Altucher's project to come up with (at least) 10 ideas a day using the  daily prompts she lists in her new book, Become An Idea Machine (affiliate link). Given the nature of this project (I'm doing it mainly as an exercise in creativity) I'm not spending much time on self-editing, so I'm typing these … [Read more...]

Martha Washington, Emma Peel and ideas

In 1998, I published an essay titled "Martha Washington, Emma Peel and ideas." At the time, Martha Washington was a popular subject for biographers and historians and my childhood TV hero, Mrs. Emma Peel, ever-popular among cult-TV types, was back in the spotlight. Given the theme of my most recent post ("Celebrate the Power of an Idea"), I thought it might be interesting to revisit the … [Read more...]

Celebrate the power of an idea made manifest

“... We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed....” Many people celebrate Independence Day as a military … [Read more...]