Creativity: My Idea Scrapbook

Welcome to my Creative Thinking webpage. My goal is to capture a new idea or creative thought on a frequent basis. My goal is to make a habit of creative thinking.

Years ago there was a website dedicated to capturing an idea each day from its subscribers. As best as I can locate on the Internet, the website is no longer active. I had submitted to it many years ago. Their year-end project was to publish a book containing the ideas. I hope the website returns. Meanwhile, I have made room here on my website to post my creative thoughts and ideas. I will try and make new posts regularly.

Just Write App Lets You Write Anywhere at Anytime

Screen Capture of the Just Write phone app.

I was reading a book on how to increase your number of words written per day from an average of 2, 000 initially to over 10,000 per day. That is quite substantial! Of the many ideas the book presented to help a person to write more words was a simple action of writing using your smart phone. This would allow for spontaneity in writing and since it would take no time to prepare to write, all those five minutes here and there that you may find yourself in could be put to better use; you could be writing. At first thought you might think as I did, oh the phone is too awkward to use to write much of anything. This is true. But more than likely these opportunities are not all that long. Could you tolerate it for five minutes knowing that it is adding up to your written word total for the day? Maybe? Here is the best part! Since it is so simple to do and requires no preparation you may just find your creative juices are much easier captured. It has proven itself to me and now I am sharing the idea with you. You can use any text editor. The simplest seems to fit the whole process. Write on!

USB in a Bottle

What a clever idea of bringing forward an old tradition and making it a modern technological thrill. I have often wanted to send off into the great unknown a message and wait for a magical reply. Instead of a scrolled up paper with a message you can store your message and photos and music and anything that is in digital form and send it on its own way. Sit back and wait for a return email from the end of its destiny - or maybe it will be the beginning?

USB Stick in a Bottle Photograph

I love this idea and I will get a few and play with the concept. The prices I saw Online are too expensive. For my message in a bottle I don't need a USB drive with many GB of storage space. I will piece together some 2 or 4 GB USB drives with like sized bottles.

Beware the Rubber Duckie

HAK Rubber Duckie USB Stick Photograph

As fun as this idea is there is a problem associated with inserting USB drives that you do not know their origin into a computer. They can carry viruses or worse contain an automatically running program that can take over your computer and wreak all sorts of havoc in your life. These rouge USBs are called Rubber Duckies and they are real. So as much fun as it may be to place a message in a bottle by using a USB, it promotes poor computer security habits. If you find a random USB anywhere, don't use it.

Not all great ideas are free from unwanted consequences. Make sure you look at all you ideas from as many viewpoints as possible

Best Darn String that You Always Have With You!

Dental Floss photograph

Dental floss is one of the strongest strings you can find. Sew a button on your coat with dental floss and it will never come off. And the beauty is that we all carry it when we travel. So home or away - look to your dental floss when you need some sting or thread. Now where can we stash a sewing needle so we have it when we need it? My first thought is to use the duct tape from a previous post and tape one or two needles to an old, plastic, wallet-sized club membership card.

Creating multiple uses for common items makes carrying them all the more worthwhile.

Hats on Hydrants / Walking is Fundamental!

While out on a walk this morning in Annapolis, MD I came across something one usually does not see - a fire hydrant that had a hat resting on top of it as though it was designed to be that way. It was a cute decoration and it got me thinking. Decorations can alter the environment, hopefully in a positive way. Decorations are usually a theme, such as hats on hydrants. Silly, of course, yes. A theme yes. I am sure there are much better combinations of the usually not associated items. And this is where the fun begins!

What adaptation can you create on your next walk? How can you design it, market it? Create the whole new business in your mind. As for me and my walk today, I have had some help from some other hatless pedestrian that placed two usually unassociated items together.

The majority of Henry David Thoreau quotes are related to the benefits of walking. Walking provides so much to the creative thinking processes! You see everything and see it at a slower pace than if driving. Your mind can wonder more easily than when behind the wheel of your automobile. This claim is a non-scientific guess, but I would say you can take in ten-times more detail of your surroundings.

Photograph of Fire Hydrant with a pullover hat on top of it

In the Mood

Stepping back in time to the mid 1930s when the Glenn Miller Orchestra and also the Andrew Sisters made popular the song, In the Mood. The tune is catchy and the lyrics I can only imagine blushed a few cheeks. Life is certainly much more fun when in the mood. So is creativity! I can't explain it. There are days when creative thoughts are elusive, or worse, non-existent. Then there are those other days! The days when you are in the creative mood. They are delightful. They give you a natural high.

I believe I will listen to some big-band sounds this evening and look forward to a creative weekend! It is my hope that you do what you need, to get yourself in the mood.

The Best of Glenn Miller In The Mood albumn cover

From Empty Bottles to Decorative Lamps

Turn old empty bottles into lamps photograph

I just ran across an ad for these ingenious little lights. They are battery powered and the "cork" holds the battery and power switch. I wish I had thought of this gem! Great idea!

I am always asking myself, what multiple use can I think of for an item? How can I reuse an item? What simple alteration can make some item become something totally different?

Always think creatively - it is illuminating!

A Room of One's Own

A Room of One's Own, Virginia Woolf Audio Book Cover

Listened to an audio presentation of Virginia Woolf's book, A Room of One's Own today. The writing was brilliant! I loved the book, especially the introduction. It is a work of genius.

My thought for the day has little to do with neither Virginia Woolf nor her books. Instead it is a gentle reminder that most of us favor a certain place in which we feel the most comfortable being creative. I know I do. In my playroom, I have all sorts of items that exist with the sole purpose of stimulating my creative process. There are toys and memorabilia, then books, lots of books. Artwork too. If you build it they will come. Create the environment and the ideas will come!

I Keep Trying to Think but Nothing Happens

It was inevitable, bound to happen. When one launches a new habit into existence and its frequency is daily, you know at the moment you make your decision to commence that a day of reckoning is advancing toward you. Today is the first of such a day in my Idea-Scrapbook.

Today, I did not recognize any great creative endeavors, nor was I interested in writing about anything creative by end of the day.

The best I came up with was a quote from the ever-popular Three Stooges. I keep trying to think but nothing happens. That was me today.

Clothes Dryer Timer Sound Extender

Depending on the dwelling that you call home you may have enough distance between your dryer and where you sit or work while waiting on your clothes to dry. If hearing the timer is not optimal in your environment consider using an audio baby monitor.

Leave the base unit near your dryer and have the receiver unit near you. It makes for a good reuse of the baby monitor once it is no longer needed. I did not look on eBay but can only imagine there are many inexpensive options on used monitors.

Also can serve as inexpensive intercom to call for the elusive teenager up in their room. Or combine the two into one - even better. Alert your teenager that the clothes in the dryer are ready for them to fold and hang!

Not stopping the thought process at this solution, my mind wonders what devices is out there that could text you when the dryer timer sounds? Of course one could set the timer on their phone. Will have to think about that some more!

Baby Monitor

Feeling Lucky?

Of all the life changing events that could take place in our lives I feel safe in assuming that the winning of the lottery receives more thought over how it would alter your current lifestyle. We dream. We feel overly gracious and make promises of philanthropic greatness. We promise to take care of our family and friends. We plan travel and houses and big purchases. It is easy for us to be very specific; it is a joy to dream!

Mega Millions Logo

I doubt there is an easier creative practice than how we would spend our millions of dollars. It really makes for great creative practice.

It is important is to recognize why we find it so easy to believe in this dream. Two reasons, I would guess. First - as much as we hope, we deep down inside of us realize that it is purely fantasy - though someone will win and why not us? Second - the dream is the planning of the very best of what we want. Basically - Dream Big and be Unrealistic. Who knows? You might dream any of your other dreams into existence. Someone will. Why not you?

Walking & Reading & Creative Thinking, Oh My!

Photograph of Hiking Boots

Today I took a walk around Annapolis, MD. It wasn't the prettiest of days and the near freezing temperatures added little to my comfort. I needed to go for a walk. In fact, I feel that need just about every day. There is nothing extraordinary about today's walk. I had the opportunity to head indoors into three Annapolis used books shops. Bookstores are always a fun and creative place to be. Used bookstores add an additional piece to the adventure. For on their shelves are books that have been held in the hands of others, impacting their lives, all for the most part unbeknown to us.

Who owned the copy of e e cummings book i Six Nonlectures that I ultimately purchased this morning while on my walk? What stories could the book tell of its past, its previous owner? Money Issues? Death? Gift from a bad relationship?

I walk onward. Stopped into an art gallery. To be honest, I am rarely impressed with the works on display. Today, was much different. I was pleased with the art. It visually enhanced my day!

Onward still to an antique store where I came upon some old tintype photographs which led me into conversation with the owner about film photography. A refreshing conversation.

The few hours I meandered around Annapolis proved to be a thought provoking experience. That is what walks do - they let your mind loose, and with appropriate awareness the fresh environment is limitless in stimuli.

Now I am back at home. As I read my book, I make up a character in my head and pretend I am them, not me, reading the book. What was their day like today? Why did they part with the book? Many questions that I can answer in a make believe scenario.

How Many Times Must I Tell You?

It's estimated that potential purchasers need to see an ad seven times before the marketing begins to register in their awareness. This is known as the Seven Times Factor, a general rule stating that customers needs to see an ad seven times or more before they buy. This contact between idea and consumer are called impressions.

My question is, how many times must you hear something that you wish to believe about yourself in such a way that you become what you believe? Is it also seven? Or as much as event times seven?

Write a positive mantra. Your ad of what you want to be. Keep it simple to just a few statements requiring about 15 seconds of time. Make an audio recording of your mantra. Play it back to yourself throughout the day for a few days. Say it out loud to your self. Read it as well, write it too.

Let's consider the greater number 490 impressions. 490 divided by 7 days gets us 70 times per day. 70 impressions that are best divided into the 4 processes; listening, speaking, writing, reading.

Try it for a week. Evaluate. Repeat as desired.

Become what you believe yourself to be!

The Smell of Coffee in the Morning

Air Freshener

Years ago before the refillable plug in air fresheners were on the market I thought of a new scent - Coffee! I don't drink coffee but I love the smell of it! I wrote to one of the companies and received the legal response of Do Not Send Us Anything. It was disappointing to say the least. Their loss. My loss. All I wanted was to play and have fun coming up with the idea. Wasn't ever thinking of making money, shortsighted as that now seems.

Today anyone can accomplish the wonderful smell of coffee in the morning without actually brewing coffee. Search online and you will find many options for creating your very own coffee infused oil. After that step you use it just as you would any oil you use in a reusable, plug in air freshener. Do follow the warnings for using oils. Coffee smells great. Your kitchen on fire is not so great. Once it is all made and thoroughly tested, I would use a light timer rated capable of powering the plug in air freshener and would be waking to the smell of coffee every morning!

Rock, Paper, Dollars!

In yesterday's Idea-Scrapbook post I mentioned the silly idea of a pet rock. The Pet Rock phenomenon caught us all by surprise around April 1975. For those too young to know the story here it is from Wikipedia:

The highlights go like this, in a bar in Boony Doon, California Gary Dahl listened to his friends complain about their pets. He came up with an idea for the perfect pet, a rock. A rock would not need to be fed, walked, bathed, or groomed, and it would not die, become sick, or be disobedient. Dahl said that they were to be the perfect pets and joked about it with his friends.

The real genius in the idea is not the rock, but the marketing of a rock that cost a penny. The 32-page official training manual titled The Care and Training of Your Pet Rock was included. The manual was full of puns and gags that referred to the rock as an actual pet.

The instruction manual was the real product. It contained several rock commands that could be taught to the new pet. While "sit" and "stay" were effortless to accomplish, "roll over" usually required a little extra help from the trainer. "Come," "stand" and "shake hands" were found to be near-impossible to teach; however, "attack" was fairly simple (also with some additional help from the owner's force).

Dahl sold 1.5 million Pet Rocks for $4 each, making him a millionaire from a seemingly silly idea. Genius - purely genius!

Pet Rock Kit

A Silly, Relationship Saving, Smartphone App ?

For those that have a jealous girlfriend that insists on looking at your recent texts and calls - this might be the phone pap for you! This app allows you to assign a safe name to any of your not so explainable contacts. So when Bubbles texts or calls you the safe name you previously entered will be displayed.

Phone rings, you ignore it. Next a few text indicators sound off and you ignore them too. But when your jealous significant other grabs the phone from you instead of seeing that Bubbles is blowing up your phone it is for example your annoying friend, Steve. Disaster averted! No longer will you be stuck in awkward moment trying to think yet nothing happens.

Please note that neither you or I would ever condone untruthful behavior, you can thank me later!

This app does not actually exist. It is just a silly idea I had one evening, though not as silly or lucrative as a Pet Rock. Maybe there is actually a good use for this vaporware, or some deviation of it?

Laughter and fun go hand-in-hand with creativity, use it to your advantage.

Tom, Dick & Harry Mock iPhone App

Sticky Situation Solutions

Roll of Duct Tape


The Jumbo Duct Tape Book, Book Cover

A common joke is that everything is fixable with duct tape. In a lot of creative ways this proves to be true.

FYI all duct type tapes are not created equal. My long time favorite is Aviation or Military Tape. It is still available from your local Army/Navy Surplus store.

While I have provided the link for your online ordering ease - I strongly suggest you try and find it locally. Stepping into an Army/Navy Surplus store is a step back in time, you cannot help but be in awe of all that they carry and it will certainly spark lots of great ideas. Make the drive.
Otherwise here is the link:

Where to Stick It! I'll let you answer that but until there is a need consider the following: Instead of leaving the whole roll of tape in your garage or basement make it accessible by rolling a few yards of on to any cylindrical item you frequently have with you. Water bottles works well. I wrap a yard or so t of tape onto one leg of my camera tripod. Lastly, wrap some tape into its own littler roll and toss in the glove box, your computer bag, camera bag, purse so you have this marvelous tape whenever you need it.

Pick up the book too - it's filled with lots of sticky and creative ideas!

Necessity is the Mother of Creative Solutions

Screen capture top of iPhone Screen

I recently moved to a residence. It was a good move and rather easy all things considered. While all the benefits of the move have so far proven to be wonderful, there is one little issue. I have terrible Version cell reception at the new location! It is possible that I could switch carriers to solve the issue, but everywhere else in the world I feel most happy with Verizon.

I had started to dig into some web research to see what I could purchase to boost my cell signal. There are a bunch of solutions from the inexpensive to the Oh MY It is How Much type solutions. I paused a day or so in my research. Then like a whack on the side of my head I said, why not Google DIY solutions. No surprise, there are many out there! I have read a few and am about to build a few models. In addition, I also learned of a number of under the hood of the iPhone solutions. Our phones like our brains are capable of so much more than we realize.

This will be a part 1 of my cell signal adventure. Part 2 (I hope) will be a post about the quick, easy and inexpensive solution I have yet to uncover.

What's most important to me, and the point of this post om my Idea-Scrapbook webpage is I identified a need and am creatively working to solve the current challenge Problem solving is facilitated by creative thinking. What a pleasure it will be to end my cellphone signal weakness!

What is something you need, necessity or a desired convenience, that you have yet to make better? Look around and improve your world!

Carry the Ultimate Quick Decision Maker

Decision making can be a real challenge. Here is a quick method to keep everything moving. List your choices; 1, 2, 3 up to 6. Roll the dice and just do it. If you roll a 4 - choose 4. Seems too easy? It is easy! Consider a rounded dice like shown for a more comfortable carry in your front pocket.

Make the decision! Errors in judgment can be corrected.
Lost opportunities are lost forever.
- General George Patton (I believe)

Red, Rounded Dice

Replace Your Alarm Clock for a Better Start to Your Day

Sony Dream Machine
Sony Dream Machine

Do you wake up every morning to the obnoxious beeping or buzzing or other loud disruption of an alarm? The word alarm itself doesn't even come close to sounding inviting; waking up is an invitation to a new day. Fortunately there are alternatives. My favorite among the many is the Sony Dream Machine. It is my favorite because I first use one way back in 2000!

Here is how it works. You can play an audio file such as MP3. My first Dream Machine used CDs. Some probably still do. I set to times for waking. The first time is 10 minutes before the second. Pick whatever time aligns with your morning schedule.

The first "alarm" starts and instead of beeping or buzzing mine plays 1o minutes of Ocean Wave sounds - the ones that are peaceful, meditation like recordings. My sleep ends with the playing of tranquil sounds. If the 10 minutes of listening to the ocean waves fail to get me to rise up and out of bed the second alarm goes off. It is obnoxious beeping, but some mornings are a bit harder than others. To avoid the alarm I get out of bed within the 10 minutes.

Trust me - you will wake gently to the peaceful sounds. Adjust the start and stop times of the first alarm to meet your waking needs. And one last benefit of the Sony Dream Machine is it projects the time onto your bedroom ceiling. I love that feature as well!

Carry Bill Size Note Paper in Your Wallet

US currency bills are are 2.61 inches wide and 6.14 inches long. You can cut a couple of bill sized sheets from copier paper and keep them in your wallet. You don't need a ruler nor do you need to convert the decimals to fractions to be able to figure out the exact dimension - just use a bill in your wallet and mark where to make the cuts on the copier paper accordingly. That way you will always have some scratch paper available to jot down your great ideas - before you forget them! I have done this years ago and just cut some for in my wallet. The original idea was not mine and I do not recall the originator to give credit. Note: There many small pen options, from key chain pens to very thin and short ones to complete your note taking items.

Blue tooth Headphone Connections at Movie Theaters

Have you ever been watching a movie at you favorite theater only to have the misfortune of sitting by some chatty people? For those of us that like our movie soundtracks void of extraneous noises why not have a Bluetooth connection to your movie? The Bluetooth connections would be for each of the theaters. When watching a movie in Theater 7 you would pair into Theater 7's Bluetooth connection. It may prove to be a better solution than passing out Duct Tape.

Headphones for use in movie theaters

An Alternative Turn Signal Switch

A lot of car drivers are not using their turn signals. What could be done to improve this situation? Why not create car steering wheels like video game steering wheels in that you can push a button at the 10 o'clock or 2 0'clock hand positions to signal that you are turning. Will be great for those vehicles that insist on last minute, lane changes. I would even add video game like sound effects that would play over the radio and perhaps encourage the use of the turn signal buttons.

Steering Wheel for Video Game

Books on Creative Thinking:

I am adding a list of my favorite books on creative thinking techniques, albeit many of them have some age to them. These are still on my bookshelf! Will update the list over the next few weeks and add some content.

What A Great Idea 2.0 - Chic Thompson
What A Great Idea! 2.0 book cover

What a Great Idea 2.0 is an update to the original version published in 1997. I had the original version as well. It is an enjoyable read that leads you by example on your path of creative ideas. It includes information on how to not stymie your thinking and avoid the roadblocks to creative success. It is a jump-start for launching your own great ideas!

How To Change Your Mind - Michael Pollan
How to Change Your Mind book cover

How to Change Your Mind is a recent acquisition of mine. I found it on a list of “must read” books on creative thinking. I bought the book not so much for wanting to change my mind but to learn some science behind getting others to change theirs. What I ended up with is a book that reminded me of a Psychology 101 class at The University of Maryland where we took a "field trip" to the movies to see Altered States - a 1980 movie called Altered States. Link: - a movie about a Harvard scientist conducts experiments on himself with a hallucinatory drug. Getting back to this book, the author's uses Lysergic Acid Diethylamide, yes LSD, to as he says "shake up the snow globe of the mind." The book's relevance to creative thinking is that many creative souls have used psychedelic drugs to in their minds, enhance the creative experience. While I have zero interests in illegal drug use, it was overall an interesting book.

de Bono's Thinking Course - Edward de Bono
de Bono's Thinking Course book cover

There is not a book by Edward de Bono that I can imagine not liking. He is a master of creative thinking! The book leads the reader through de Bono's way of enhancing our thinking. It is a classic and will remain a classic throughout time.

Lateral Thinking - Edward de Bono
Edward de Bono - Lateral Thinking book cover

As mentioned, any book by Edward de Bono is a must read for the student of thinking. This particular book focuses on the techniques utilized in lateral thinking. As noted on the cover, this book is a step-by-step guide for those wishing to enhance their creative skill set. There have been numerous books published on mind mapping and lateral thinking yet this book is also a classic and will remain a classic throughout time. Read Edward de Bono!

The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci - Leonardo da Vinci
The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vince book cover

This edition includes the complete notebooks (volume one and two). Most of what we know about Leonardo da Vinci, we know because of his notebooks. Some 6,000 sheets of notes and drawings survive, perhaps one-fifth of what he actually produced. With an artist's eye and a scientist's curiosity, he recorded in these pages his observations on the movement of water and the formation of rocks, the nature of flight and optics, anatomy, architecture, sculpture, and painting. He jotted down fables, epigrams, and letters and developed his belief in the sublime unity of nature and man. Through his notebooks we can get an insight into Leonardo's thoughts, and his approach to work and life.

How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci - Michael J. Gelb
Hoe to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci book cover

As the subtitle states: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day. It is challenging to imagine a mind like da Vinci's. This book does a nice job and helping us peak into the creative genius of da Vinci and formulate as best anyone can what we could select to emulate from the master. It is a quick and pleasant read.

THINKERTOYS - Michael Michalko
Thinkerrtoys book cover

Thinkertoys will train you how to generate ideas. Th book lists specific, hands-on techniques that enable you to come up with good and useful ideas.

From their website: By changing your perspective, you expand your possibilities until you see something that you were unable to see before. This is what you will experience when you use Thinkertoys: You will find yourself looking at the same information you had before in a new and different way. This “new and different way” will lead you to new ideas and unique insights.

You just can't help but like this book. Parting thought ... Ideas are often created out of play. Considered one of the least creative places in most organizations - the bored room.

Innovation by Design - Thomas Lockwood and Edgar Papke
Innovation by Design book cover

Innovation By Design is everything a corporate manager could want in a book. The book reads as a play book for innovation through design that can and should be applied with the corporate culture. Survival of the fittest comes through innovation.

The Pleasure of Finding Things Out - Richard Feynman
The Pleasure of Finding Things Out - Richard Feynman book cover

I have three of Richard Feynman's books. I placed this one of the creative thinking list though all are worthy. The title alone speaks volumes. It truly is a great pleasure in finding things out. What a joy to learn something new, and even better, discover something new! There are valuable lessons on teaching with the book. Don't just hand out answers, information. Prompt others to have their own pleasure in finding the answers and discovering more.

Originals - Adam Grant
Originals book cover

This is another rather recent addition. I read it mid-2018. It is an interesting story of those that broke from the norm and made major strides. Being an original sounds good after the success but is wrought with obstacles along the way to that success. That is the lesson from the book. One must step outside their comfort zone in order to achieve what has yet to be achieved. A good read!

Keep Your Brain Alive - Lawrence Katz and Manning Rubin
Keep Your Brain Alive book cover

One of my oldest books on creative approach. As it suggests anaerobic exercise is vital for our brain. We often become creatures of habit and take the path of easiest resistance - the path we know. Keep Your Brain Alive challenges us to shake it up a bit. Change our routines and give our brains a workout each and every day.

A Whack on the Side of the Head - Roger von Oech
A Whack on the Side of the Head  by Roger von Oech book cover

A Whack on the Side of the Head book and/or its companion deck of cards stimulates thinking, especially if you are stuck and blocked from getting around your create barrier. It is fun, and gets you thinking! If you can find a copy of the book, or even better the card deck - get it!

Einstein Never Used Flash Cards - Roberta Michnick Golinkoff and Diane E. Eyer
Einstein Never Used Flash Cards book cover

I loved reading this book! I purchased copies for a number of friends that had toddlers. Bottom line, though the book is filled with much more detail, children learn by playing. No one is asking, but if I were asked to fix the world I would aim at the grade school years. I would increase art classes, music classes, physical education classes and recess. It will never happen, but it is the answer. No more then ever data is available at our fingertips. Learn concepts, learn to read, learn to read and learn to create. Google the rest.

The Paradox of Choice - Barry Schwartz
The Paradox of Choice book cover

I like to believe that I am a minimalist. Compared to some, I am not, to others I certainly am. This great book leads us to through some interesting facts on making choices. The title of the book really should be Why Less is More but I am certain that title would not sell nearly as many books as The Paradox of Choice. We seem to always want more sophistication. And it would collide with the next book in this list - Less is More.

Less is More - Jason Jennings
Less is More book cover

A great book on effective organizations. It is filled with excellent examples of what businesses need to survive and thrive. The textbook of business fundamentals. Creative solutions at the turn of every page.

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