I was driving around Portland the other day and saw a transient with a Gimme A Dime sign wearing a reflective vest of the kind used by utility workers. I thought, Man, that's a pretty good idea. Then I started daydreaming about a sort of Panhandling Vest distributed as a public service to the homeless--a reflective utility vest with zippered (possibly uniquely locked or biometrically coded) pockets for donations and valuables, water filtration pouches, first aid kit, collapsible waterproof rain poncho, thermal blanket, integral heating elements powered by a rechargable solar battery...At least it would provide some measure of safety, security, comfort, and protection from the elements (not necessarily in that order). Would it be cruel to provide the homeless "Survival Vests" but not adequate food and shelter...? My thinking was something targeted at people who choose to live on the streets no matter what. Certainly it would be an improvement over what they already have.
On a related theme but requiring a slightly higher tech level, I had this fantasy going a while back about portable shelter kits comprising nothing more than a disposable/rechargable spray canister containing liquid monomolecular polymer (think a bottle full of synthetic spider silk). It discharges a sticky expanding plastic sphere with a high tensile strength, permeable to sunlight and oxygen but impermeable to liquid water and solid objects (perhaps it's even semi-opaque to ensure privacy). You stand at the center and spray the bubble around yourself, attaching it to a tree or concrete pillar or some other such static anchor point. Ideally it would be comfortably insulated so you could sleep in it, and each spray bottle would come with a randomized but correspondingly coded molecular "key" to collapse the bubble when you're ready to move on. Again, not a perfect solution, but certainly an improvement over the way many people live now. The "panhandling vest" combined with the "sleeping sphere" would provide a modicum of comfort and security to a population which is otherwise totally exposed.
A darker take on the latter is a mobile buffering bubble anyone can spray around themselves before leaving a residence to protect themselves in an urban environment, a sort of plastic "security sphere." I was envisioning a dystopian scenario where anybody who obviously has a place to live is under constant attack by those who do not...I imagine a foray into the city necessitating a Security Sphere and a stoic attitude to endure the constant rain of jeers and missiles hurled by the less fortunate. This idea was inspired by my own experiences walking and especially biking, during which I have sustained almost every imaginable form of verbal and physical assault short of actual rape.
Man, I haven't updated my journal for a while--I just loved that Mesoamerican Fantasy one so much, I didn't want to replace it! A couple of tapir-related bulletins are way overdue, though...First of all, I have supplemented my ImageShack with a tumblr:
Also, Gert van Dijk of "Furaha" fame did a feature on one of my "trilateral" body designs, including some truly beautiful animations:
I should note that his suppositions on the design's morphological evolution are inaccurate--this is something I should have noticed sooner, and plan to address here in the near future.
Lastly, some of my work was recently published in two different game books--Cerulean Seas: Waves of Thought [link] and Indigo Ice [link] , both from Alluria Publishing. I wasn't paid for either but I did receive a free PDF copy of Indigo Ice, which contained only a couple of my illustrations. I can't tell you what made it into Waves of Thought.
Until next time, stay warm, dry, and cozy, my friends!