Then perhaps annoyance is the father of invention

HOW do you get rich? You can't count on your aunt Zeddie dying and leaving you a fortune. You can't even count on your family having a fortune to leave you.

You can control your investments a little better. If your shares in Annoying Ringtones Inc. take off, you'll get rich AND look shrewd.

But if you want more control and more risk, you can make a fortune with sweat equity.

Yes, with hard work, the right idea and smart execution, you can start an empire, or at least a cute little Web site to sell to Google.

Like writers, entrepreneurs are often asked, "Where do you get your ideas?" As a writer, I get ideas via stress, neurosis and subway rides.

That doesn't work as well for startups, as I found out when I recently had to think up business ideas for a class.

Here — check out a few.

-Clippy for your life: You start typing in Microsoft Word. Instead of, "It looks like you're writing a letter," I'd like an animated paper clip to tell me, "It looks like you're about to make a huge mistake! Can I suggest making an alternative argument to your boss?"

-Replacing the Razr: I want depilation technology as effective as waxing, as painless as Nair and as permanent as electrolysis. And I want to be able to buy it at Walgreens for $20, not from some sketchy infomercial.

By the way, why don't men shave their armpits? Can they even use stick deodorants with those tumbleweeds of keratin in there? There is no logic to hairless women's legs that does not apply double to men's underarms. End rant.

-Dehydrated security, just add freedom: The Transportation Security Administration's anti-liquid campaign continues, if somewhat subdued of late. To quote the TSA site:

"Travelers may now carry through security checkpoints travel-size toiletries (3 ounces or less) that fit comfortably in ONE, QUART-SIZE, clear plastic, zip-top bag. After clearing security, travelers can now bring beverages and other items purchased in the secure boarding area on-board aircraft."

But if you have more than three ounces of your favorite shampoo to take to Indianapolis, or you can't bear to leave your AriZona Diet Lemon Plum Green Tea With Honey and Ginseng half-finished, what are you to do?

The answer: a dehydrating machine, like those Ron Popeil dealies for fruit, which turn your liquid into a desiccated powder.

Pantene, Snapple and Crest go into the machine, and airplane-safe powder comes out. On the plane or at your destination, just add water!

-Chamelion White-out: In my physics class my senior year of high school, my teacher used differently-colored dittoes to separate homework, quizzes, exams and lab reports.

In retrospect, I think, "The poor guy." I hope he gets some kind of satisfaction out of improving high school students' organization a bit because I sure know I never thanked him. Thanks, Mr. W.

Anyway, on the occasions that I wrote in pen, I found it bothersome to correct mistakes with White-out and then find an appropriately colored highlighter to make the correction blend in.

It was then that I thought up chameleon White-out, which would take on the color of the surrounding paper. Perhaps I needed to consult the chemistry teacher next door on feasibility.

-Tight (heart) beats

Some diabetics have to carry insulin pumps. The obesity epidemic in the United States today (source: a local mall from which I beat a hasty, horrified retreat) means that the diabetic-American demographic share is only getting bigger. And we all love our iPods! The answer: combination insulin/song pumps.

Once the technology matures, add MP3 players to pacemakers. As you exercise and your heart rate goes up, so does the pace of the music! Until you die.

I have more ideas, quarter-baked ones. Venetian blinds that work! A non-annoying!

And you can use them all.

Sure, I'd like to get rich someday, so I can leave the treadmill of wage slavery. But there's no way I can implement my entire wish list on my own.

I'll trade my imaginary wealth for the existence of the subway cell phone blocker just so I can have it in my life.

Now, the better ideas, like the low-fidelity one-time recordable disposable sound chip, I may keep to myself.

Sumana Harihareswara writes for Bay Area Living each week. You can write to her at