Sunday, July 8, 2012

Imagination, Innovation, and Invention... Oh My! (and a Wee Bit of Architecture Too)

I have always been a fan of innovation and invention. I seek out things that entertain both my eyes and my mind, trying to look for the unusual and the new spin on an old problem. Over here, you have more than a few opportunities to observe the unusual and innovative. Here are a few examples I've come across in the past week or so.

Last weekend I went to the United Arab Emirates and while there I saw several things that I consider to be very unique. The architecture of the country is fascinating and is known worldwide. These are just a few of the examples of unique buildings that I saw.  I think the bridge between the two taller buildings was to help facilitate getting from one to the other without having to go all the way to the ground floor, walking across the street, and then riding the elevator back up to the desired floor.

While in one of the malls, I saw this shoe display. It was eye catching but it was also functional if you actually wanted to pick up and take a look at one of the pairs of shoes.  

I came upon this and at first thought it was a regular ATM, but it is something very different. It sells gold --  real gold -- -- in ingot or medal format.  You can also buy krugerrands,  on the day I was there they were selling for $1600 US.  I walked past the machine several times while going to and from area stores in the mall and at one point they were reloading it. I wonder how many dollar's worth of gold it takes to fill up that machine?

The shape of doughnuts has been fairly constant since they were invented. Oh sure we change what we put on top of them or the stiff we squeeze into them but pretty much they are round with a hole in the middle. Starbucks in the mall seemed to be trying to do one better by making the donuts square shaped. I tried one, and it pretty much tasted like the round doughnut but it was messier to eat. Consider this, the round doughnut tapers off on the sides which keep it from rubbing against your face while you take a bite out of it. The square doughnut on the other hand, rubs up against your cheeks as you take a bite because it does not tape. Messy. I think I'll stick with the round ones.

Somewhere in the US there are probably theaters that have taken this step into luxury, but I've never seen one. Here, if you pay a few extra dollars you can watch the movie and a nice leather recliner with a side table. I did not have an opportunity to watch a movie in one of the VIP rooms but from what I understand there you also have waiter service to bring your snacks.  It can make a simple evening at the movies something really special. 

 Saw this in the airport. I have mentioned camel's milk before  --No I have not tried it yet, I don't want to contribute to the shortage of milk for baby camels-- but this is the first item I have seen that claims to be made with camel's milk.  I understand that this is supposed to be some very delicious chocolate and at $7 a bar it had better be.  I wonder if there is camel’s milk cheese.

On my way out of the UAE, I noticed the control tower at the airport. Again, rather than just having a straight, rectangular building they have chosen to put some style into the design by adding a bend.

Whereas I have been fascinated by many things I've seen off these recently, the genesis for this entry was actually something that occurred on base in my office.  The air conditioning in my office has been up and down for the past two weeks. Mostly down.  This leads to the office being about 94° or so during the day and usually never less than about 85° or so. The AC seems to work fine in the mornings when it's cooler but apparently there's a problem with the unit that causes it to go out when the temperature outside was over 110° or so. After several days of troubleshooting, the repairman decided he needed a part which has to come from the United States and due to its size will not get here for about a month.  Going through several chains of command and complaining to everyone above me who might have any pull at all, we were finally issued a portable air conditioner.

I've never seen a free standing AC in the United States but first encountered them when I was in Germany. The units have an exhaust hose that must be run out the nearest window.  Since we are working in what basically is a warehouse there are no windows from which we can hang an exhaust tube, but because the ceiling is dropped if we could get the hose to run up through the ceiling we could patch into one of the exhaust pipes there. The unit stands about 4’ tall and the tube we were provided was about 3’ long leaving us with a 5’ delta between the unit and where we need the hose to go. We put the unit up on a table which closed the gap about 3’ but we still had two more feet to go. I suggested to my folks  that they use a piece of cardboard to fabricate a section of tube that could go the last few feet, then I left for a meeting.

I am often complementary of my crew for being able to think way outside the box when necessary; in this case they thought box.  Using a pair of water boxes to create a piece of duct work which they then attached, using drywall toggle bolts, to a piece of ceiling tile. At the bottom of the box using a large amount of duct tape they merged the existing tube into the new cardboard box ductwork. Voilà it worked.   It is also one of the stranger things I've ever seen but by the end of the day someone had attached a sticky note to it which stated Trademark 2012, Patent Pending.  The office now remains about 78° or so but it is much more comfortable in will hopefully stay that way until the parts for the main air conditioning system arrive.

So much for the mother invention for this week….


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