Last week, we put up a post asking BB readers to tell us (and each other) about their projects. You-all upvoted your favorites, and herewith presented is a list of some of the coolest things you're up to (there's plenty that didn't make the cut but still fascinate -- have a look).

There's so much awesome here that I'm going to split this into a morning and evening post. Come back at 5PM Pacific to see the second half (or go read the totally awesome thread for yourself).

First up, Josh Zisson wrote:

I've made "the safest bike on the road." It's painted with a patented retroreflective coating, so the entire bike is reflective at night. When headlights hit it, it glows bright white. Check it out on my website. We're currently working with manufacturers to make this coating available on commuter bikes (and much more).

Next, Alison Jardine told us about her paintings:

I am using traditional oil-on-canvas techniques to render digitally distorted and filtered images of nature. Trees with pixel leaves, forests in infrared, pixel snowstorms across fractal branches...

I sometimes think of my process of creating art as scavenging from nature, a kind of ‘found art’ but where the object found is visual. I begin with a photograph that I take on my digital camera, and manipulate that image (now just a collection of pixels, after all) until I have a work on which I can base an oil painting.

When this painting is completed, I take a photograph of the painting, and digitally alter and manipulate it until, by both chance and planning, I create an image that will form the basis of the next painting. This feedback loop continues towards a gradual, entropic dispersal of color and light.

Here's lava, an architect, describing a catalog of modernist styles:

I'm an architect, and I've created a catalog of house designs in a modern style so that people who love modern design would have a source for plans to build modern houses.

I did this because I found that the majority of builder's in the US did not offer any modern designs, and that house plan catalogs rarely offered modern designs, and if they did it was something left over from years ago. And so people who liked modern design had no choice. They would either have to hire an architect at significant expense, or settle for an old fashioned looking house.

So although the diversity of taste for modern design is too broad for me to cover everything, people now have at least some basic and affordable options to take to a builder, and finally get the modern house they always dreamed of. My catalog page is here:

Grant Hamilton is trying to create a co-op brewpub in a derelict firehall:

The building was used continuously for 100 years as a firehall — from horse-drawn days to modern ladder and pumper trucks. Now the firefighters have moved on to a new building, and I'm trying to give the old one a fresh lease on life.

It'll be the first brewpub in the province of Manitoba, and one of the few co-op brewpubs on the continent. We are trying to arrange the financing Kickstarter style, with different rewards at different membership levels.

The site's a little out of date as we are knee- (neck?) deep in crunching numbers for an official submission to the city, which currently owns the building, but check it out at


  1. This is a damn interesting community. I’m the smartest one of course, but all the rest of you are very cool too.

    1. Not to detract from the awesomeness above, but I was under the impression that you’ve written two books so far, and both sound pretty damn awesome.

  2. Retro-reflective spheres are put on painted road stripes already. I wonder what’s patentable about them?

    1.  There could be many ways to get a patent in the same area.  New way of making the spheres, new material, new way to bond them to a substrate, new way to apply them, new way to prevent degradation, new way to use them.  And so on. 

      That’s not to say that alone is enough to make them patentable.  For instance, taking a standard reflective paint and applying to a bike might not be enough (or could be, if it can be demonstrated to be non-obvious*).  But if something has to be tweaked to make it viable (or superior), then that could be a justification.

      *It’s easy to think something is obvious once you see it.  Non-obvious means not obvious before it was done.  Slightly different, but important distinction.

  3. Bravo, one and all! 

    One of the main reasons I come here is for the community….  Full of smart, thoughtful people with good ideas and a willingness to listen and discuss rather than rant and ignore. Gives me hope for humanity when the bastards get me down… which lately, is quite often. :-( These projects quite cheer me up.

    1. YES. Just wanted to chime in to Cory and the other Over-Boingers that this was a brilliant, enlightening, encouraging, and entertaining idea to have a kind of sharing circle with the happy mutants. The community of people here is just amazing. I think this type of sound-off and round-up should be a semi-regular thing.

  4. Chiming in here with a vote of support on the bike. I live near a train station and there are a lot of people who bike to and fro on the residential streets. So many times I suddenly discover almost too late a biker or pedestrian wearing dark clothes on a dark night. It scares me when I am driving around my neighborhood. I’d love to see even a stripe of this paint on lots of bikes, not just a single bike using it for the whole paint job. Just a little splash of bright white would help with visibility.

  5. You know what bugs me the most about this bike thing? I had that exact same idea back in 1997. I had a friend that worked at EA Games MoCap department and they would use the reflective tape on balls to capture athletes movements for the video games. I just couldn’t convince him to steal any of the tape though. Apparently it’s expensive and I dunno, I guess he liked the job.

    The paint was even more expensive.

    1. I suspect a lot of people have had the same idea. 

      I remember looking into it when was having a frame painted a few years ago. Turns out Rustoleum makes a reflective paint you can get in a spray-can now, but the reviews are pretty dismal.

  6. Well, dang. I missed the original post. Gives me joy to see so many people taking action on their ideas. I would love to go to a party with the 200 or so people who responded. 

    1. Gotta kill a few people… Then you got to get sent to a slam, where they tell you you’ll never see daylight again. You dig up a doctor, and you pay him 20 menthol Kools to do a surgical shine job on your eyeballs.

  7. Cory,
    Is there a way to get Tim Burton to look at Alfred Bester’s “The Stars My Destination”?   I think the technology is at the point where a good film version is possible, and Burton seems to be the most qualified to do the job correctly.

  8. That bike still isn’t THAT safe if it has no lights. There are numerous situations in which reflectors are useless; they only work if a car’s headlights are shining on it.  The most obvious problem is pullouts – where a car pulls out of a cross street in front of a bike that’s running at speed.  Reflectance is completely useless in this situation, you need active lights.
    I would say that it’s no more safe than a bike with normal reflectors, and ANSI safety vest on the operator, and a good set of lights (which, these days, means a few hundred lumens headlight and 30+ lumens on the tail, ideally with redundant taillights.

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