Friday, June 01, 2007

American Ingenuity 

Today I attempted to give blood (another story, another time) and experienced another example of the continuous improvements we take for granted. One Red Cross mobile donor center is located in the carpeted auditorium of a large church, Hosanna, in Lakeville. They have six to eight "beds" set up for donors. They bring a lot of equipment that requires power so they string many cords across the floor. For the first time today, I noticed a clear plastic, 14" wide tape over the wires. It could be cut to any length and since it was far wider than the standard duct tape or other tapes used, it kept people from tripping over tape that held down cords. In addition, when this tape is removed, it leaves no mark on the carpet.

They have also introduced a portable laser device to track the bar codes attached to each individual donor's blood. And, over a year ago, they put the 60+ questionnaire on a computer so it is much faster and easier to take.

People won't pay much attention to these improvements but they are important. They represent constant examples of American ingenuity that we simply assume everyone else can and does do. Not the case. Our constant "How can we do it better?" attitude sets Americans apart from much of the world.