How to make an ergonomic pillow from a blanket when you are traveling.

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I didn’t create this innovation, but I helped trigger it through the use of two ProxPatterns. It also illustrates how it can take multiple people to innovate. I’ll tell you the story first, and then mention the proximity thinking involved.

I use an ergonomic pillow at home, but don’t travel with it. I’ve never found a hotel that offers them. I was in Denver at a hotel, needed an extra blanket, and went to the front desk. After I got the blanket, I thought, hey, it never hurts to ask, so I said, “This is going to be a crazy question, but by any chance do you have an ergonomic pillow?”

The front desk clerk said, “What’s an ergonomic pillow?” I explained it to him, and drew a shape in the air that shows the side of an ergonomic pillow. And he said, “Oh, I know what those are. Those are cool.” Then he went back into the supply room.

When he came back, he had one of those foamy blankets folded inside a pillowcase. He said “Would this help?” I said, “Yeah, maybe, thanks so much! That’s a great idea!” It wasn’t exactly the right shape, but the basic idea was born.

In the hotel room, I experimented and tweaked it. I found that with a different blanket, and a different way of folding it, I could mimic the shape and firmness of my ergonomic pillow at home.

The photo you see is after four nights of sleeping on the pillow. It was the best four nights of sleep I think I’ve had in a hotel. I thank that hotel clerk and the Drury Inn. I wonder if they encourage this kind of customer service from their staff?

Obviously, my tweaking of the clerk’s idea didn’t take any great talent. But asking him the question about whether they had ergonomic pillows was the result of two ProxPatterns I often use. One is seeking greater ProxAwareness. The other is allowing some uncertainty in asking a dumb question.

This led in turn to examples of two other ProxPatterns. The front desk clerk was seeking to honor the integrity of my request. He did this partly by ProxAwareness of the available resources. And partly by relating a wider variety of elements than normal, those elements being pillowcases and blankets. Normally, blankets don’t go inside pillowcases, but the clerk was able not only to consider it, but try it too, which is a great example of relating a variety.

Of course he didn’t consciously use those ProxPatterns. But I have found that useful and/or interesting ideas and processes often exhibit ProxPatterns.

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Explain that to me

I think I’ll start a new series called “Explain that to me.”

On most blocks, and in most neighborhoods, and in most cities, there are no public places to sit outside and have community. Places that are either not privately owned, or not serving some other purpose like a street or sidewalk. Explain that to me. How does that honor the integrity of what humans need?

I wrote this sitting on the ground, on a concrete sidewalk.

Being in a state of some difference and tension with people

It’s both kind of an odd lesson, and obvious from the basics of ProxThink, but you probably need to be in a state of some difference and tension with pretty much everyone you meet. The word some here is important.

For more about differences in relationships, read the paragraph titled “Differences” on this advanced page about relationships.

For more about the importance of some, in contrast to none or all, see the Value of Some.

A possible criticism and an answer

A possible criticism of the Underlying Concept (being is about relating) of proximity thinking might be this: “Sure, life is about relationships. But not just any old relationships!”

My answer is I agree, and the ProxPatterns help suggest relationships more likely to work and enhance life. That doesn’t mean the ProxPatterns are free of contradictions. In fact, they allow and work with contradictions.

Horrible Movie Seats

I had the most horrible experience at the movies last night. We saw this new film called “A Dangerous Method.” We sat in the second row, far off to the right side. I spent the whole time looking far up and to the left, at gigantic distorted faces (due to the severe angle from my seat). The movie was sold out so we couldn’t move to better seats.

NO ONE should EVER be seated that close to the screen. Well, and have to pay for it. Maybe if they paid me to sit there, that would’ve been different. It was such a strange, uncomfortable experience that it was hard to pay attention to the film. They should not even have seats installed that close to the screen!

I’m not sure if it was the movie theater designers, or the business owners, but people were not thinking when they designed that theater. We were at the Landmark Theatre at 10850 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064.

The theater owners and designers both had poor ProxAwareness, as far as being aware of what sitting there is actually like.

Their ProxSet for this situation included the elements of money, and the customer’s experience, and of course other elements. It seems they honored the integrity of the element of money more than the element of the customer’s experience! This strategy can often work in the short term, and often not work in the long term.

Of course it didn’t help that “A Dangerous Method” is so far out of the ordinary experience of most people, that it might as well be a science fiction film. It didn’t honor the integrity of what being a human being is like, to any great degree.

So many films these days depend on some gimmick or contrived situation. I had hoped that “A Dangerous Method” would be different, but somehow it really wasn’t.

I suggest that David Cronenberg take some time off from moviemaking, and spend more time with regular people. Ordinary life is far more interesting and full of possibilities.

Of course I’m not saying there isn’t a market for David Cronenberg’s films. And of course I might have liked the film more, and been less cranky, if I hadn’t had such horrible movie seats!

Landmark Theatres may have other blind spots. I’d be glad to help them do some proximity thinking via seminars, collaboration or idea sessions.

Is this restroom occupied or vacant?

This is a door on the brand new public restrooms at a Santa Monica, California beach near Montana avenue.

These are individual stalls. One per person, each with its own door. Does anything seem missing?

How about one of those signs that show whether the stall is occupied or vacant? The temporary portable restrooms that were there during construction of this building had occupied/vacant signs. Isn’t it bizarre that the new building lacks them? Hundreds of people a day use these restrooms.

I know they make occupied/vacant signs for this type of door. I’ve seen them.

In ProxThink terms, an occupied/vacant sign uses Connected Independence to increase ProxAwareness. You know whether someone is in there independent of having to knock or try the handle.

For more, see Connected Independence and ProxAwareness.