A JUICED license plate

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In November 2016, I submitted my car, a 2007 Toyota Prius, for its annual state certification. It failed on one count: the license plate, which I’d had for twenty years, was insufficiently reflective. Which is a thing, apparently.

I could request a shiny new license plate free of charge, but it would be a different number than the one I’d had memorized for two decades. The only way to keep the existing number was to pay a fee.

I couldn’t justify paying for a new license plate — unless if it were a vanity plate. It was something I’d wanted as far back as 2011, when I used this blog to list some options and invite readers to vote. But I never acted on the readers’ selections because the poll excluded my top picks: APPLE2, WOZ, and JUICED, that last one referring to Juiced.GS, the quarterly Apple II magazine I’ve been editing since 2006. But those plates were already taken, and I didn’t want to settle for anything else.

But now I had to get a new plate, so back to the Massachusetts RMV I went. It had been five years since I’d last queried their vanity plate database, so I again punched in my top three candidates… and was shocked to discover that JUICED had become available!

Now I had the means for my car to pass its inspection. But it seemed wasteful to put a new plate on an old car.

So I got a new car.

A red Toyota Prius Prime with JUICED license plate

Most expensive inspection ever.

For the next several weeks, stepping out of my office and seeing this car put the biggest grin on my face — not because of the vehicle itself, but because of the plate. It was so much fun to see something that was so very me, even if bystanders didn’t know the true meaning. Even when asked, I usually simplify things by telling them “It’s a plug-in hybrid, so I plug it in and juice it up!”

It wasn’t until after I got the plate — and after I’d been publishing Juiced.GS for a decade — that I discovered an alternative meaning of the word “juiced”: to be on steroids. That’s technically where the name Juiced.GS came from, since someone had declared founding editor’s tricked-out Apple IIGS to be a “juiced GS”. I just never put two and two together, though I now like to joke that this plate is the reason I get pulled over so much more now.

I shared this photo of my Toyota Prius Prime at KansasFest 2017, joking that Juiced.GS was doing well, but that I vowed to spend its revenue only on things with the Juiced name on it. Some folks thought I’d Photoshopped the license for the gag — but nope, it’s real!

Today is the first time I’ve posted this photo online. I’m sharing it now for two reasons: first, I’ve forsaken a permanent residence in favor of this car taking me from city to city in what’s known as being a digital nomad — an adventure I am now documenting on my new blog, Roadbits, where this photo can also be seen.

Second, I was concerned that my license plate could be used to identify me, especially by unscrupulous gamers. But now that I have no home to trace me back to, the risks seem less — especially after reading this article about why license plates are usually blurred when posted to the Internet but don’t really need to be.

Who knows — maybe I’ll show up to the next KansasFest in my Juicedmobile, joining a proud history of retrocomputing plates!

Two cars with plates APL2GS

Seen at KansasFest 2002