January 18th, 2007

krazy koati

She'll do a hundred and forty with the top end floored

When the policeman came to the rescue of my out-of-gas car there was one question I was hoping desperately he would avoid. And at least initially he did; when I explained I was an idiot and ran out of gas he understood. (I pointed out, the gas needle read an eighth of a tank, which is not what I would expect for an empty tank, and he agreed.) As the attendant (the second one, who'd just walked off before) was giving me twenty dollars' worth of Plus, the officer made a couple ordinary quips about cars running much better with gas. Certainly. But he then asked if he could see my driver's license.

This was a bit of a problem. I don't know where my driver's license is. I should have put it in this little pile of ``cards I don't need while in Singapore'' in my study, along with things like my video store club membership or my (US) Borders card. But I brought those home; so, where has my driver's license gone? I suppose that I can get a replacement, although it's not clear to me whether this will require losing my old driver's license number, which I'd hate to do because I have it memorized and it's a quite nice number for me. (Go ahead, laugh, but I have an obsessive-compulsive disorder and I'm going to use it.) So while I have been driving, I've been observing the speed limit even more carefully than normal and going around with my passport in the dear hope that if I were stopped I could at least claim to be an idiot, something I can be remarkably convincing at.

So I explained things to him, and apologized, saying I had been in Singapore. He asked -- twice -- if I had a valid license (I do) and took down my name, birthdate, and (US) address and called it in. He wasn't interested in whether I had memorized my driver's license number. While he waited -- just checking, he assured me over and over -- we chatted a bit, about what I was doing in Singapore (teaching seems to remarkably impress people, although he didn't ask if I taught English, the commonest question I get), and somehow got on to plastic scale models, which his uncle builds. Or, well, he collects them; actually building models is a different thing. But between a passport, clear helplessness, and those protestations of self-idiocy that only a mathematics PhD can really make compelling, he was satisfied that I had not stolen my father's car, but before letting me go (without a ticket or warning about the license, either) he asked me to re-confirm which was my last name. And that was that. Maybe I don't need a replacement license.

Trivia: The extravehicular activity cable on Gemini XII was five feet shorter than that on Gemini XI. Source: Gemini Program Mission Report, Gemini XII, Gemini Mission Evaluation Team, MSC-G-R-67-1.

Currently Reading: Sir Gregor MacGregor and the Land that Never Was, David Sinclair. I started thinking what a science fictional treatment of the scam of colonizing `Poyais' might be like. Then I realized it was how humans settled Known Space.