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Becoming Superman: A Trip to the DMV

“Do you have the current registration?” she asks, with a hint of fear and apprehension in her voice.

“Yeah, out in the car I do, should I go get it?”

“Well, do you know if it still has the receipt attached?” There’s still some worry in her voice. I’m starting to have a hunch about why, since I did my research.

If you move a car into the state of Colorado within a year of purchase, you have to pay the applicable use and sales taxes for Colorado, even though the car was purchased in another state. If you already paid taxes when you transferred the title in your previous state you still have to pay, up to Colorado’s totals.

So say you bought it in Oregon, where there’s no sales tax, transferred the title, and then moved to Colorado 6 months later. Colorado would say “that counts as a purchase in Colorado, you need to pay sales tax to us.” Because they can and they like to drive people nuts, I suppose.

But, if you paid taxes in the state you bought the vehicle, and those taxes exceed Colorado, and in particular Boulder County’s, sky high rates, you don’t have to pay in Colorado. So long as you can provide proof of previous payment.

Well, Seattle Washington is one of the few places where the combined sales tax rate is greater than Boulder County.

Okay back to the story.

She’s asked if I have the receipt of taxes paid and with glee I say “I have a picture of it right here on my phone!” You can see the discomfort start to melt from her face. I show her the phone and she breathes a sigh of relief.


She was wincing at the potential for an uncomfortable conversation of telling me I had to pay taxes twice if I couldn’t prove I’d already paid.

But I’m Superman. I take pictures of everything that might ever be important. And then I use the magic of Google Photos to search for it when needed.

Last week I was on the phone with my insurance agent getting coverage for my ebike, and I used this trick to find the purchase date and price for something I bought 3 years ago, in under 30 seconds, without putting the phone down. WUT.

I told you, I’m Superman. I mean, maybe Batman is more accurate, but Superman sounds better. Plus I like to wear red and blue (have you been to my website?)

So here, embedded in this fun little story about the DMV (I know, I used fun and DMV in the same sentence), is my tech tip of the week.

Take pictures of everything and have them sync to Google Photos.

Maybe not things with personally identifying information like a birth certificate, but everything else. Receipts, papers, sketches, ideas, notes, things you’re proud of, business cards, whiteboards, prototypes. Especially take photos of your prototypes!

At my last engineering job, we had strict security measures in place to ensure confidentiality (which was great, if a bit of a nuisance at times). So I had two camera apps on my phone. One that automatically synced to my personal Google Photos, and one that automatically synced to the company’s OneDrive. Not only can you be Superman in your personal life, you can be Batman at work at the same time.

And back to that business card thing. If you search “business card” in Google Photos, it’ll show you every picture of a business card you’ve ever taken. You could get a dedicated business card scanning app with text recognition. Or you could use Google Photos for business cards AND everything else. Your health insurance member number. The password on the back of your wifi router (I know you never changed it). Which stall you parked your car in. Everything.

Modern technology, while hugely destructive when used unconsciously, is incredible if used for good. So I work relentlessly to separate the wheat from the chaff. I’m something of a digital Neanderthal, and I like it that way. No email, social media, internet browser, or games on my phone. Just tools and utilities that make my life better. I use tools to fight back against the onslaught of attention drains, and the addiction we all seem to have to putting our hand in our front right pocket three times a minute.

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