Okay, so I was scrounging around Best Buy examining their selection of Dreamcast games, and I encounter this guy who was there looking for some sports title, I forget which. We get into a conversation about the merits of various Sega games, and it becomes evident this guy knows his stuff and it might be interesting to get together some time and play SoulCalibur. However, I do not live in the area, so to do something like that would require a means of communication. The guy gives me his parents’ phone number, but, dagnabit, I have nothing to write it down with, nor a memo pad on which to write.

Then, I am struck by a flash of insight! I open up my wallet and extract the receipt from a recent purchase at Wal-Mart. The paper is unusually smooth – this must be thermal printer paper! If memory serves, thermal printers (which are mostly used these days in cash registers and Gameboy Printers) use no ink, instead they use a special two-layer paper, consisting of a dark base and a light-colored coating. The dot matrix-like head of a thermal printer, instead of leaving ink, applies heat to the coating, burning it away in selected spots to reveal the dark under-surface.

However, the coating of a sheet of thermal paper is somewhat fragile, and even mere sharp folding has a habit of producing gray marks on the paper where the surface is damaged. Thinking quickly, I took out a small key and scratched my phone number into the Wal-Mart receipt. Success! It’s not as clear as it would be if I had used a pen, but it’s better than nothing. I handed it over, left the store, and never heard from the guy again – he was obviously creeped out by my intimate knowledge of decade-old printer technology.

Having a sudden flash of MacGyver-like insight like this is what I like to refer to as “Making a Natural 20 on my Geek Roll.”

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