Magical Thinking

John Clark here. As a writer, particularly one who incorporates fantasy into much of my work, coming up with innovative and imaginative gadgets and spells is an important tool of the trade and, quite honestly, a fun one. It’s one that doesn’t go away in real life. I bet many of you reading this do something similar. What follows are some of the inventions or bits of magic I’d love to have at my disposal.

What a fashion plate!

What a fashion plate!

#1-The Amazing Drive-by Nickle Muncher. I’ve had a habit of stopping and ditch mining roadsides since I was a kid. When Sara and Lisa were small, we’d stop on straight stretches, usually right after the snow melted and pick up returnable cans and bottles. The money helped pay for their college educations. This invention functions like a magnet, pulling all cans and bottles from the roadsides as you drive past, depositing them in the back of your pick-up truck. Fancier models grab water when you pass a stream or lake to give the haul a pre-wash. I figure it would pay for itself in a very short time.

#2-The even more amazing coin and jewelry sucker. I’m on my second metal detector, a fairly high end Garrett, but have yet to find anything of real value. I’d love to have something like the Nickle Muncher that could grab all coins and jewelry on or under the ground within 200 feet of a roadway. Imagine how cool it would be to spend a day tooling along back roads while listening to a new book on CD, then opening up your trunk or a chest in the bed of your truck to see what treasures you’s uncovered.

#3-This is inspired by sister Kate’s lament about cart pigs. We’ve all seen them, the perfectly able slob who is so blasted important they can’t be bothered to return a shopping cart or even put it in one of the racks so store employees can bring them back to the store. I swear Walmart attracts them like cow pies draw flies. The No-Ya-Don’t allows one to point a small wand-like device and turn the offender’s about to be ditched cart into a super rolling charge of static electricity. The miscreant ends up with stinging hands and on their butt, preferably in a mud puddle. After a couple times, even the biggest dullard sloth will figure out that returning a cart isn’t rocket science.


#4-Say Bye-Bye Cellphone. I don’t own one, don’t like them and can’t imagine ever desiring one. In fact, I really don’t like using phones in general. I know there was a time when supposedly intelligent homo sapiens were capable of going to stores without a piece of technology that gets whipped out so their significant other can be consulted as to which type of bran cereal must be purchased. This invention allows one to send a two part signal to any cellphone deemed annoying. Part one has the device announce very loudly “I apologize for the annoyance my owner has caused. The second melts the circuitry. This one would be particularly satisfying on the highway.

#5-Captain Wambu’s Road Rage Alternative. Speaking of highways, I bet you know someone who gets batshit crazy as a result of other drivers’ inability to act civilized when behind the wheel. I have the perfect invention. Again, it has two parts. Part one sends your voice into their vehicle where you say something like, I hope what follows will assist you in becoming a more responsible member of society (PG version…Use your imagination for other rated versions). This is followed immediately by an electronic circuit adjustment to their engine that limits speed to 45 miles an hour for the next 60 minutes. We’re wotking on au update that belches huge clouds of black smoke from the exhaust system.

#6-The Neural Nourisher. I admit it. I’m a readaholic and can’t go through a single day without discovering at least one book I gotta read. The fact is it’s impossible to read all of them, hence this invention. A small implant goes under your scalp and connects to the portion of your brain where dreaming happens. It includes a wireless connection so your computer or ebook reader can link up. On nights when you so desire, you pull up something from your TBR list and as you sleep, you read the book. End result: Double the number of books read and no nightmares (unless you’re into horror).

Longing for the days before all that ethical experimentation foolishness.

Longing for the days before all that ethical experimentation foolishness.

#7-The Amazing Frederico. This is sorta the reverse of #6. It’s a similar neural implant, but this records your dreams in digital format so you can watch/edit/save them. I figure it could spawn an entire alternative to Youtube as well as help people make sense out of those straggly fragments that bounce about right after they get up.

#8-Light ‘N Flat. This will be especially popular with Maine folks. Imagine a truck that has a row of adjustable intensity lasers as wide as one lane of traffic. They heat cracked and broken pavement until it’s malleable. Just behind the laser line is a water filled roller to pack and even the newly heated pavement. Since they could run these at night when there’s less traffic, long stretches of damaged road could be rehabbed quickly and at a substantial savings to cash strapped rural areas.

Some ideas are hotter than others

Some ideas are hotter than others

#9-The Michael Moorecrobe. There are experimental iterations of this already out there, but mine’s classier and safer as well as lucrative. It’s a genetically modified bacteria strain that LOVES toxic waste and hazardous/difficult to recycle trash. The nastier the substance, the happier these little critters are. Have spent fuel rods…Yum, they’ll eat ’em and poop something like platinum or palladium. Dioxin or DDT, “No Problemo, heap my plate!” they’ll exclaim. Best of all when they consume all the bad stuff in one spot, they go dormant until released at another hazardous area and they can switch dietary preferences on the fly. What’s not to like? A Toxic Politico strain is currently in rapid development.

#10-The Backatcha App. I suspect everyone will want one and Intel should develop it simply for the repeat order potential. Download this to your computer and every time you’re spammed, the program sends a response capable of cutting through all the forged headers. When it reaches the origination source, it fries the hard drive and motherboard. Spamming becomes very expensive.

I have more, but these are some of the more interesting ones. I’d love to hear about some of yours.

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13 Responses to Magical Thinking

  1. dragons3 says:

    How about a Laryngo-Nuke. The minute a politician says something stupid, uncivil or untrue, it zaps their throat so they can’t speak for X amount of time.

    I’d really like one of those Backatcha apps. How soon do you think you can have one available?

  2. Gram says:

    Love #10!!! We have a cell phone. It only makes and receives calls. It is in the car for emergencies. It costs $10/yr!!!

  3. Monica says:

    Wish I had snappy names for these:

    The ‘Wait your turn fence’ that pops up on the on ramp when a driver is on the phone and not paying the least attention to the traffic already on the interstate.

    The ‘cone of silence’ you control to shut out loud, obnoxious people swearing in front of you and your kids. Automatically deploys at the first f- bomb.

    A similar device that blurs t-shirts and bumper stickers in your view.

    I’m sure I could come up with more. It’s a certain kind of person, tho, who thinks these things up. My husband isn’t one of them. He’s the soul of patience. (But, he’d like that highway fence if he could get his hands on it!)

  4. Sennebec says:

    Perfect! I’ve been an advocate for all political debates to be conducted in the nude, but can’t get much traction for it.

  5. My wishes are few, but one I’d really like, and I suspect it would go down well with other rural residents, is a Gravel-Putback. It would mostly get used in the spring, to return all the gravel to the driveway, so we don’t have to rake it out of the grass where the snowplow shoved it. Please?

  6. Julianne Spreng says:

    Litter makes me crazy, and those who litter by carelessness or design deserve this one. I’ve wanted a magnetic field you could activate that would attract all the trash and litter back to the originator. It would stick to the outside of the vehicle or the litterer’s clothing to hopefully shame them into better behavior.

    • Sennebec says:

      Julianne, I’ve often imagined the really gross stuff people discard ending up in their bed about 15 seconds before they slide in.

  7. L.C. Rooney says:

    #7 would result in more books being completed sooner. Please get right on that one, will you, John? 😉

    Thanking you in advance,
    Every Writer on Earth (and Beyond)

    • Sennebec says:

      I think #7 has amazing potential. I’d be interested to discover why so many of my dreams involve living next to an alien spaceport.

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