Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Sunset at 50 MPH, and My New Toys

Friend Scalzi spent the day on a succession of airplanes, so we're on our own for the Monday Photo Shoot. I'm not going to presume (for a change) to suggest a topic for anyone else, but, well, I have these pictures. For me, this week's Monday Photo Shoot covers two very different subjects:

Fake Monday Photo Shoot Topic #1. Photograph a sunset under unusual conditions.
This is sunset reflected off the roof of my car in the Famous Vehicle Dealer employee parking lot. If you lived in Tucson, and could tell exactly what was silhouetted here, you would identify my current employer by name in about five seconds. And that's all I'm going to say about that.

Here's another view, this time without the car roof. I think I set the camera on "vivid" color for this one. By the way, none of tonight's sunset photos are edited for tone or saturation. All I've done is resize and sharpen, and in a few cases crop.

Here's where the conditions get truly unusual. I didn't want to miss the rest of the sunset, but I wanted to drive home. I only had two red lights along the way, so the other shots I took were pretty much all at 50 MPH. Some of them were just blurs of passing trees, and none of them are technically very good. But it was an interesting experiment.

This one may have been a little under 50 MPH. Sunset was fading by then, but I'm a sucker for sunset in the side mirror.

This is another one with the car roof showing. It may have been another "vivid" setting one, but I really don't know one way or the other.

Fake Monday Photo Shoot Topic #2: Show off a cool toy.

Oh, I love this! When I ordered Doctor Who: The Complete Third Series on DVD from Amazon the other night, I also ordered a sonic screwdriver. The actual seller for the latter was Newbury Comics, and they shipped within 24 hours. It arrived today, without so much as a creased box from its transoceanic and transcontinental travels.

The product was described as coming with note paper with Gallifreyan writing on it, which according to Russell T Davies et al. consists of a lot of circles and related shapes. However, the toy's configuration has changed since that description was put together. Instead of the fairly useless note paper, the sonic screwdriver now comes with psychic paper. Psychic paper! That's almost as cool as the sonic itself!

I should explain for those of you who don't watch Doctor Who, and also for those of you who wonder how the toy psychic paper reproduces any part of the functionality seen on the show. Psychic paper shows you more or less whatever its holder wants you do see, although there seems to be a component of the viewer's mind involved as well, so that the paper shows what the viewer will react favorably to seeing. As seen on the show, it's actually blank (usually), and that's what a genius like Shakespeare will see: a blank page. The toy psychic paper looks like the prop: a blank page in a leatherette holder. Ah, but wait! One end of the sonic screwdriver toy conceals a pen with two interchangeable nibs. One nib has black ink, and the other is filled with ultraviolet ink. Write with UV ink on the psychic paper (actually a piece of white plastic) , and the result is more-or-less invisible. But shine the sonic screwdriver's blue-capped UV light on it (accompanied by the "sonic" sound effect, of course!) and the writing appears. Then wipe off the ink and start again. It's an elementary trick, hardly more sophisticated than writing with lemon juice, as suggested in my old Arrow Book Club book Codes and Secret Writing. But it's still a very clever tie-in to the series, and real value added for a Doctor Who fan like me.

I thought about fiction today, but didn't commit any. Sorry. That's all. Good night!



julie said...

I absolutely loved the packaging on our Sonic Screwdriver. It was almost a shame to remove the toy. I may have to buy another, just to display in the box.

Yes, I am a geek.

Becky said...

Aww jeeze. I have Sonic Screwdriver envy. How cool!

Becky said...

Oh...and to be fair; the psychic paper is WAY cooler than lemon juice. You had to apply heat (like hold the paper over a lightbulb) to make lemon juice "ink" appear visable. Too much work, IMHO.