There's no feeling like realizing you've been driving with expired plates/tags for a year (oh, they were due in February of 2011? Whoops...). Having the care of a kid means even less driving than usual for me, and I've been parking my car in our driveway after what I suspect was a street sweeper clipped the front quarter panel on the ol' Civic. Not being parked on the street, it wasn't subject to a drive-by ticketing, and I hadn't apparently garnered enough attention to warrant being pulled over since my tags became worthless. While getting my plates renewed (at a City Hall where personal property taxes are payable by cash or check only, yet you can use debit/credit on the actual plates. I hear it's because the tax collection is privately run and the plates part is public. Funny world, huh?), I was told that police cars have/are getting a new feature: 360 degree plate-scanning cameras, which can be used to see if you've paid up on your vehicular fees (though it appears to mostly be used in stolen vehicle cases, finding out who was at a crime scene, etc.). If it's not called pay-dar yet, I call dibs on coining the term. Anyway, the law enforcement angle isn't what makes me groan as much as the possibility that this tech will probably be mounted on billboards and be used to pipe ads into your vehicle and/or cell phone. The day when a future-car's AutoDrive(TM) computer is overloaded thanks to popup ads for roadside "attractions" (we have a remarkable number of windowless buildings with neon signs along I-70 in Missouri) flooding into the vehicle's HUD probably isn't too far into the future. I suppose if you've gotta exit the world somehow, it beats having the last thing you see be an ad for printer toner.
And speaking of future cars, India will start seeing ones that run on compressed air. I've heard of these in the past, and they sound like a cool idea for congested cities, though what would happen if one of these met an SUV or a city bus remains to be seen (beyond a possible sudden gust of wind). On the plus side, if it has enough capacity, you could run a pneumatic drill off of the "fuel tank" to remove/replace the lug nuts on flat tire, I expect. Were I certain these would make it stateside, I'd move to trademark the parody product name (minor language warning) Perri-Air for a line of (literal) gas pumps that offer some claim of being a premium product over that pedestrian "atomospheric" gas the plebes fill their cars with. Of course, some convenience stores are already installing pumps dispensing other stuff, so your choices when you pull in are probably going to expand.
From that, we can segue into another story about stuff you might have available in your neighborhood. Before we do, I need to preface that I'm not condoning or encouraging drug use of any kind; this is more a commentary on how convenience in obtaining relief from nasal congestion has (at least facetiously) shifted from the legal to the illicit. Confused yet? One might one posit that, in some neighborhoods, one could more easily obtain illegal amphetamines than over-the-counter pseudoephedrine products (nasal decongestants that actually work, darnit). For the cold meds that actually work, I have to find a pharmacist, show I.D., sign my name, and hope that I don't need more of the stuff than whatever the monthly allotment is. With that in mind, some chemically-inclined people have presented a paper (and really, don't try this at home; it's more of a social commentary thing) about how to synthesize pseudoephedrine from, well, meth. If nothing else, it could lead the way to some kind of recycling program between pharmaceutical companies and law enforcement, right?
Onward to my deadline-looming projects. I hope to have news of a card game being rolled out by (I think) Gencon, for which I created some artsy stuff as well as more t-shirts, the third FFN volume (which should be here soon), and some preview pages from the next ps238 book (the first stand-alone trade). That's at least a weekend or two's efforts, provided I have proper caffeination beforehand (that is, just below the lethal dose). While doing "research" for my various tasks, I found the following peer-reviewed items:
- I'm trying to decide: Is this a superpower or an homage to the cartoon version of "Sweet Lou" Dunbar from The Harlem Globetrotters?
- Here's a kind of possible prop-treasure hunt for Star Wars aficionados: Did a prototype for the Stormtrooper helmet appear in The Blues Brothers? And if so, who has the original the mall versions were made from?
- We've seen the cigarette holder one before, but doesn't Bill Murray make a pretty incredible-looking FDR?
- Here's some creepy-fun point-n-click with The Old Tree. You're a green... something that has to solve puzzles to... well, just give it a try.
- And from a contest to create a game around the theme of "alone," here's The Love Letter. You've been given a note inscribed with a heart, but you have to read it where none of your classmates can see, before the second period bell rings (in 5 minutes).
- Ohhhhhhh, who's getting a movie in 2014? Some-Car-Toon-Show!
- Johnny "Tonto" Depp is back in buckskins as The Lone Ranger begins production. Most of that link is technical and credit information, and there's no mention of werewolves, so... I dunno. Claim jumpers are still a possibility, I guess.
- As is often the case with cloned mammoths, flying cars, and artificial sweeteners that taste good, someone is taking a crack at getting a space elevator to work. They still need some kind of system to keep some obnoxious kid from making it stop on every floor.
- In other science stuff, a fabric that converts body heat into electricity is being worked out. D-Class subjects used for testing the invention have thus far experienced instantaneous formation of ice crystals in all bodily fluids followed by electrocution. Ice zombies remain a possibility.
- And in SCIENCE! stuff, here's how to build your own life-sized Aperture Science turret. I'm assuming they'll post the plans for the slug-throwing mechanism later?
- If you have $1.4 million and nothing to do with it, you could buy a town in Montana, for certain definitions of "town."
- There might be something brewing involving the classic RPG Baldur's Gate. Because you didn't need the rest of your life anyway, right?
- Previously, some concept art for a canceled Steampunk Batman game, Gotham by Gaslight was unearthed. Now, this site has some recovered video of the game engine and its awesome cape-rendering abilities.
- I'm probably late to the party on this one, but I didn't realize that this song inspired the theme to Futurama.
- Shouldn't Davros or The Emperor Dalek be center stage in The Last Supper of the Daleks, or is it whoever hasn't been exterminated that gets to be in the picture?
- Indi Cannon isn't a misspelled title for an article about Dr. Jones and his continuity. Instead, you're firing a fedora-wearing archaeologist as far as you can... into adventure! Gather coins with as few "Indi" shots as possible.