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I'm so bright


I’m all the time inventing cool stuff.

Once, when I was a sophomore in college, I was tossing a football around with a roommate. We took a break so he could smoke a cigarette, and he lamented his nicotine addiction. He explained he wanted to quit, but he couldn’t. He went on a rather lengthy explanation about how tobacco wasn’t terribly bad for a person. It was, he said, the tar and carcinogens ingested from the smoke that did a body bad.

I thought it over and recalled reading about how it was possible to use patches on the skin as a medicine-delivery system.

“What about a nicotine patch?” I asked my Marlboro-Man friend.

He took a drag, considered it ... then insisted there’d be no market for it, because he really smoked because he thought it made him cool (it didn’t; trust me).

Though I had no trouble with the molecular biology that would have gone into such an undertaking and had a handle on the patent law, I didn’t want that to detract from my schooling, so I shelved the idea.

A few years later, a fellow by the name of Murray Jarvik stole the idea and, I’m sure, became a multi-millionaire with my brilliant idea.


It’s not just the nicotine patch.

The Slap-Chop. The Ronco Pocket Fisherman. The incandescent bulb. Yep, all me.

Well, OK, not the Pocket Fisherman, though I coveted that little gem throughout my childhood.

The other day, I was riding my bike after dark and realized I had on a dark shirt. I usually try to dress in light colors at night because, well, I like life.

I pondered as I pedaled.

I remembered seeing a line of bike clothes called Illuminite. This innovative reflective apparel (their words) incorporated tiny disks, like satellite dishes, imbedded in the cloth. The disks reflected light back at the source — think headlights — to illuminate the fellow wearing the threads. I’ve seen photos of this effect, and I have to say, if ever I saw a headless, handless, footless apparition like that gliding down the road, I’d either run like heck to get away, or steer my vehicle toward it in hopes of saving civilization. Visible? Yes. Creepy as heck? Oh, yeah.

What if, I asked myself (as all us truly great inventors tend to do), I could somehow sew a thread of 3M Scotchlight reflective material (and, yes, I do ponder in trademarked terms) into my clothes. In normal light, I’d look my usual stylish self. But on the road in the dark, I’d blaze with the brilliance of a thousand suns.

I don’t know much about textiles — though I did make the valances in my kitchen, but, shhh! Don’t tell, lest I blow my manly cover — but I realized a loose aftermarket thread would snag. It would have to be woven in.

I shelved that idea …until I happened upon a shirt made by The North Face. The Hayes Flare Shirt incorporates 3M Scotchlight reflective nylon yarns (sound familiar?!?) to increase night visibility. By day: fashion plate. By night: Man on Fire.

It’s a subtle effect, sure. In fact, I hadn’t actually seen myself glow until the other day.

I was at church, of all places, and my gaze wandered down. I wasn’t napping. I swear. That’d be sacrilege. I was just … uh … reflecting. Yeah.

The lighting was just right, and a beam came down from above — nothing divine, mind you, just an incandescent bulb; hey, that’s one of mine! — catching my shirt just right. Sure enough, I subtly — but unquestionably — beamed. I’m pretty sure the effect was localized. After all, I’m certain if the speaker at the time had seen someone in his congregation blazing away, he might have invited the bright fellow up on stage to see if maybe he had something to add.

But he didn’t, and I didn’t, but I did bask in the inner glow of knowing just how successful my latest invention proved to be.

You’re welcome, North Face. I suppose my royalties check is in the mail.


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