16 Mar 2009 06:17 pm

Posted by under Dave's Thoughts,Geekstuff



That’s “Continuous Number Plate Spotting”, or more often, just “the licence plate game”.  The game is a bit of OCD foolishness that has afflicted a number of my friends and family over the past few years.  The game has been around in various forms for a long while and gained some prominence in Britain about 5 years ago when a popular comic and TV personality started to play the game.  It  involves spotting car licence plates bearing each of the possible 3 digit number combinations from 000 to 999 in strict numerical order.  It takes a bit of time to play…

Tomorrow I’ll be celebrating my 6th anniversary of playing the game and today, the last day of the 6th full year of play, I saw my 500th plate – how perfect is that?  To save those of you the trouble of doing long division in your head or searching for that little 4-function calculator in your junk drawer; that’s 83 plates per year (6.9 plates per month) or 1 plate spotted every 4.4 days.  For six years.  … I know, it is amazing isn’t it?

In case you wish to join in the fun, here are the basic rules:

  1. Only passenger class licence plates from your current province of residence are valid spots (no vanity, commercial, fleet, diplomatic … plates) in Alberta, these plates are of the following form ABC-123 (or ABC-1234, coming this fall)*
  2. Go about your day in your normal fashion, excepting only a hardly noticeable scanning back and forth to get a glimpse of the licence plate on every car you encounter.
  3. When you spot 000, congratulations! You’ve started!  (You may actually be in denial at this point, but don’t worry – eventually you will see 001 and you’ll be off.)
  4. You must actually see each sought-after number with your own eyes and clearly enough that you won’t be wracked with pangs of guilt in the middle of the night for taking credit for seeing a plate that you’re just not sure about.
  5. If you don’t have a steel-trap memory for the locations of upcoming plates you can jot them down or add them to a list in your Blackberry, but you actually have to physically lay eyes on the right plate in the right order.  It doesn’t matter that the blue minivan with 057 was there just yesterday…
  6. Cruising parkades or parking lots is allowed, but don’t go bragging about it at work, some people might not understand that you are on a Quest.
  7. Seeing the number after the one you want (repeatedly) builds mental toughness.  Quit complaining.

Have fun and repeat after me, “No! I don’t have Asperger’s, why do you ask?”


* There is some debate on how this will affect the rules, but the concensus seems to be that only the last 3 of the 4 digits will count.  …and that the game could be extended to be multi-generational if you try to get all the plates from 000 through 9999.  (That’s a total of 11000 plates to spot: 000 – 999 plus 0000-9999) Not only that, but it has taken the province 25 years to run out of 3 digit plates, so the lifespan of the 4 digit plates will approach 10x as long (well not really, the plates are used at a far faster rate in 2009 than in the 80’s as the population has increased, but still…)

1 Comment »

One Response to “CNPS”

  1. Dave on 23 Apr 2009 at 1:50 pm #

    After some (internal) debate about whether this post has already damaged my reputation as a sane individual, I decided to throw caution to the wind…

    On Tuesday (21 April 2009), I had my best 1 day total for plates spotted – 5 plates: 516, 517, 518, 519 and 520. The first 4 during a walk at lunchtime and the last on the drive home.

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