German Ingenunity 2

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There are a variety of things in Western Europe that should immediately be imported into the United States. Some of the stuff they are doing over here just makes sense in so many ways.  Take the issue of German trains, for instance.

For instance, the about-to-turn green signal is genius. A couple seconds before your streetlight is going to turn from red to green, the yellow light comes on along with the red light. It’s the signal that the light is about to turn green. It so expedites traffic at intersections. Also, a good number of the hotel rooms do not allow you to turn on the lights or air conditioning or whatever until you put your room key (the credit card type) into a device on the inside of your room. When you leave, you take your key and everything in your room turns off. Pretty simple and ingenious way to cut down on electrical usage, and given our addiction to fossil fuels, global warming and the such, anything they come up with that saves fuel is welcome in my book. Most of the places I’ve been have street signs that direct you to local parking lots. That part isn’t anything new or interesting, but what is a great idea is that the signs have a digital and live read-out of how many open spots are in the parking lot. If the lot is full, you know before turning left to head there, which in the world of one-way streets and confusing signs is a godsend.

Not all of the little innovations work as well as that though. In hotels and some other public areas, the lights in the hallways are motion-activated. It is a little strange to have an elevator door open up on a dark hallway in a hotel, but when you get off, the lights pop on pretty much immediately. Again, a nice little way to save on electricity.

My slight problem with the motion-activated lights wasn’t in the context of a hotel hallway. It was in a restaurant bathroom. Seems they decided to put the lights in the bathroom on a motion sensor and timer. No motion for a couple minutes and the lights go off. Normally not a bathroom problem, but the motion doesn’t sense movement in the closed stalls. How do I put this appropriately? Hmmmm. Sometimes I take more than two minutes doing “stall duty.”

Finish in the dark? Get up off the pot, open the stall door and wave a hand out there in the hope of getting a light back on? Wait for someone else to come in? I’m gunna leave the resolution a mystery, but I did make it back to the table, alive, well and otherwise ok. And was a little less certain about German ingenuity.

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About Michael Hodson

I’m an attorney that took off on my birthday in December of 2008 to circumnavigate the globe without ever getting on an airplane. After 16 months, 6 continents and 44 countries, I made it all the way back home. Right now, I am back on the road writing about it all.