austin_dern: Inspired by Krazy Kat, of kourse. (Default)
2017-07-20 12:10 am

So I booked my seat

Cedar Point, like Michigan's Adventure, has a petting zoo. It's larger than the Michigan cousin, understandably, as Cedar Point's quite larger than Michigan's Adventure is. They're provided for by the same animal caretakers, though, and so there were some similarities in the animals there. The Cedar Point zoo is part of the Frontier Trail and purports itself to show something about what the farms of historic northwestern Ohio farming families might have had. It's the sort of light-educational self-promotion that amusement parks have always liked to use and it's a fine idea as long as you don't ask how many mid-19th century Ohio family farms kept emus. But this sort of touch of life is reliably nice, and you can't argue that goats and sheep and chickens and rabbits aren't credible farm animals, even if you can wonder about the particular breeds. The rabbit pen had a couple bunnies who'd worked out where they could flop out so they were near the bottles of cold water (it had been a hot day before the rains came) and be just out of reach for most of the smaller kids. Also where they could pile on each other.

We stopped in at the glasswares shop, and joined the audience for one of the glass-blowing demonstrations just as it started. They were making a glass goldfish, which is one of those things neat to see and done in exactly the right spot that all 90 pictures I took of it are obscured by a column. So it goes. We did also learn that the fearsomely expensive, elaborate glass sea serpent, with multiple arcs of back emerging from the glassy 'water' surface, was still on sale but was now locked in a display case where some well-meaning idiot like me couldn't accidentally break it. No; if we break it, it'll be with deliberate effort now.

As we got farther in back of the park we poked into the other arcade, a small untended one. We knew there wouldn't be pinball there, but what would it hurt to check? There wasn't pinball there, but we did see a redemption-ticket counting machine flashing on its LED screen the mysterious and alarming message, 'tEror'. So, you know, we have that going for us.

The back of the park gave us the chance to see how close we might get to the former Mean Streak, and to see what if anything we could work out about what it's being turned into. Cedar Point still hasn't announced what Vicious Streak will be, although right around our visit they did drop a teaser ad that made an ambiguous suggestion that it might be something plural. This is baffling, but there is probably enough support length in Mean Streak to produce two steel-tracked roller coasters. Converted roller coasters don't tend to be as long as the original wooden ones for reasons that [profile] bunny_hugger knows and I don't.

Anyway there wasn't much specific that could be made out from the accessible areas. We could see what looked like spiral twists added to the taller hills. It's conceivable that some of this might even be a full helix, turning the ride over, but it's so hard to tell what a thin track at that distance is doing, especially with all the visual noise of the wooden supports in the way. I did spot that the ride photo booth still has the Mean Streak logo on it, which probably reflects the ride photo booth somehow not being a top priority for the reconstruction work.

When we had explored this, and gotten a ride on Maverick --- still a top-draw roller coaster, and with a reasonable queue thanks surely to the rain --- we had the choice to walk back the way we'd come or to complete the loop around the point. I chose the loop around the point and this is why we were too late to ride Iron Dragon.

It did let us get on Gemini, though, and the racing coaster's always good fun. We also hoped to get on the blue train, the rarer of the rides lately, but we got there just as they were taking the train out of service. Because for some reason they'd rather run two trains on a single track instead of a single train on two tracks of the racing coaster. It cuts the number of ride operators needed, but is otherwise a dumb choice, especially for light-crowd days. It did mean we got to ``race'' an empty Blue train, a fun novelty that raises the question of why in previous Halloweekend nights we've been stopped just before the station, waiting for enough people to get on the other train because they couldn't send that out empty?

But this let us continue in a nice little arc, in the back of Cedar Point, to the Monster ride where once again we failed to get a really good spin going. We also got to ride Magnum XL-200, right up front because I forgot what that can do to your knees. This gave us the chance to see the big renovation done to the hotel gate, the entrance we use second-most, and changed beyond recognition by the park's ongoing rebuilding of the water park and building of a new tower for the Hotel Breakers where they'd torn down a tower of the Hotel Breakers like two years ago. We had guessed rightly that this entrance would be renovated in our final visit to the park last year. It looks sharp, as anyone would have expected. It also obliterated Magnum's old ride photo station. The replacement's all right, but lacks the obvious period-dating of the new station.

Still, it does mean that now three of Cedar Point's four entrances are 2010s-era Art Deco Revival style, with roller coasters that arch above them. This would raise questions about what they're going to do with the last entrance, the Oceana Gate, last renovated ... sometime after 1870 and quite possibly remembered to exist at some point. I haven't got any ideas. We've never used the gate ourselves.

Trivia: After landing on the Moon, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin needed about an hour and a half of reconfiguring switches and setting systems so that in case of emergency the Lunar Module could manage a quick, orderly takeoff from the surface. Source: Where No Man Has Gone Before: A History of NASA's Lunar Explorations, William David Compton. NASA SP-4214

Currently Reading: Prime Mover: A Natural History of Muscle, Steven Vogel.

austin_dern: Inspired by Krazy Kat, of kourse. (Default)
2017-07-19 12:10 am

I had a break for a week

Our first trip to Cedar Point for the season began with the snooze alarm. We agreed we were just too tired to get up as early as we had figured, and traded an hour of time at the park for being better-rested while there. That was probably a wise decision. What makes it not clearly a wise decision is what happened as we got there: rain. We had wanted to get to either Michigan's Adventure or to Cedar Point, and the weather forecast for Michigan's Adventure put it at a higher chance of rain for more of the day. So we got to Cedar Point just as a downpour started.

This wasn't all bad news. We have been to Cedar Point often enough, and expect to return again enough, that there's little we feel we must ride there, and after the soaking cold horror of Roller Coaster Appreciation Night, when almost nothing was open, a rainy day in June can't look bad. We got cheeses on a stick and some soda --- using our new free-soda-when-we-want privileges on our season passes for the first (and so far, only) time --- and sat in the Casino, hoping to wait out the storm, or at least to find some pinball machines in decently working condition. The state of things was pretty dire. Travel Time, which spent all last year broken as far as we could tell, was till out. Abracadabra was also down. The giant yet boring Hercules tables were both working and taking slightly delighted looks from people and quashing them, at least. We also tried some of the older shooting-gallery or mechanical contraptions, such as this strength-testing machine, and found they were in similarly scattershot shape. It's great that these machines are there, and a testament to how well they were built that after decades of wear they're as usable as they are. But it's hard not to think that they could be better still, especially given how much effort the park has put into balancing their attractions and making for a better-rounded experience lately.

As the rain gradually let up and the rides started to turn again we got to the Kiddie Kingdom carousel for our first ride of the year if you forget the Six Flags Over Texas trip back in March. Which is easy to do since it was so early and so weird a thing to do it hardly seems real. Sparrows seemed to have made homes for themselves among the carousel's top. I'm hoping they get through the season without undue harm coming to them or to the ride. Then we could start to walk through the park and take in lots of scenes of crews squeegee-ing dry the amusement park.

Our first and lasting disappointment for the day is that Iron Dragon, the suspended roller coaster, wasn't running. It's an old favorite, the first really grown-up roller coaster that [profile] bunny_hugger was able to ride. And it's being subject to a Virtual Reality ride makeover this season. We were curious, certainly, and wanted to try the experience. But the ride was closed when we first approached, and then we learned it would close for an hour in the very early evening to switch over to Virtual Reality operations. We moved on and by the time we got back, it was near the end of the night and the ride was closed because the nearby Luminosity open-air performance show needs the roller coaster to close for some reason. While we'll get back to the park --- I pointed out we could, literally, drive back the next day if we wanted --- it's frustrating to miss the thing we wanted to see, especially since it was my pretty much arbitrary choice at one point about which path to go down that set us on course to miss Iron Dragon altogether.

So our first roller coaster of the year at Cedar Point would be Rougarou, surely the least-loved of the park's attractions. It used to be Mantis, a stand-up roller coaster, and was converted to a normal sitting-style ride a couple years ago in the hopes of drawing more people to it. There was a surprisingly long line for it, possibly caused by most other attractions being down. It's a fair ride, pretty gentle considering all the looping and banking it does. That's surely a reflection of its old status as a standing coaster: if people are standing in harness for the ride it can't jump about too drastically. But it's still not a completely pleasant ride, because the over-the-shoulder restraints have these hard plastic shells around the head. The latter half of the ride is best spent leaning far forward and anticipating curves, lest your ears get boxed repeatedly. It's disappointing they fixed one nasty flaw of the ride and let the other stand.

Trivia: The National League granted the Brooklyn Dodgers permission to move to Los Angeles in 1957, on the proviso that Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley convince the Horace Stoneham to relocate the New York Giants also. The Giants would eventually announce their relocation first. Source: Bottom Of The Ninth: Branch Rickey, Casey Stengel, and the Daring Scheme to Save Baseball From Itself, Michael Shapiro.

Currently Reading: Prime Mover: A Natural History of Muscle, Steven Vogel.

austin_dern: Inspired by Krazy Kat, of kourse. (Default)
2017-07-18 12:10 am
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Just as long as I'm here in your arms I could be in no better place

A bit over a year ago a new thing emerged in Grand Rapids: the pinball selfie league. The idea was you play qualifying games anytime during the month-long open time, taking pictures of your score (self not actually required) to prove in case there's some doubt. Then in the finals the score's used to seed your position for some kind of playoff. It's a lie to call this a league, really; it's more of a tournament with a long, open qualifying period. For a while these were popping up everywhere, quick ways to get International Flipper Pinball Association points, and we feared they'd drive out the real proper pinball leagues that meet at set times and put together groups of people to play one another.

Probably our fear was overblown: the one attempt at Marvin's Marvellous Mechanical Museum faded after a single month. The Grand Rapids one hung around a little while, although in ever-declining health. The owner of the bar where it ran was wary of letting it advertise, particularly, even though a poster on the six games of the month would probably have got at least some casual players in. [profile] bunny_hugger and I played a couple times, then withdrew lest we encourage selfie leagues at the cost of actual leagues. When that threat passed we started to play again, at least to put in scores, although it was iffy whether we'd attend the finals. Hurting here might be that the finals would be the first Monday of the month, nearly always two days before the first Wednesday of the month and the regular league's meeting, and it's a hassle getting out to Grand Rapids twice in a week.

So when the final Grand Rapids selfie league got announced we were kind of surprised, since we didn't realize that league runner ADM was so ready to give up on it, but also not surprised, since we'd passed the end of the month and heard nothing about what the new games would be. Finally he set the last Selfie Finals, for a Sunday. Counting ADM, five people showed up.

He recused himself, allowing us to make the tournament a five-game series of four players: me, [profile] bunny_hugger, MWS, and KEC. And somehow I was top seed in this: I'd get to pick two games for the set. I figured to try one that was treating me well in practice --- not always a wise procedure --- and put up a Creature from the Black Lagoon that beat everyone. Not crushed them: MWS had a decent rally going and I expected he was going to restart his multiball and beat me. But no, I got lucky.

MWS picked the second game, I think The Shadow, also turned out surprisingly well. That's a rough game, one prone to disastrous or outstanding scores, and this time I had that rare outstanding score.

The Pyramid Scheme, the bar where the Grand Rapids Pinball League takes place and the Selfie League took place, is across the street from another hipster bar named Stella's, and that place has two pinball games. One of them is FunHouse, always tantalizingly close but off-limits for league play. ADM gave [profile] bunny_hugger permission to step outside the Pyramid Scheme for her pick of the night. And so we did. Considering that FunHouse is a game that every competitive pinball player knows inside-out, and that three of the state's top 16 players were in this group of four, you would think at least one of us would have a blowout game. Not so. We all had mediocre games; I won by getting one jackpot in multiball and getting to eight million points, which ordinarily MWS could have crushed and [profile] bunny_hugger could fairly reliably beat. I was having an amazingly lucky string.

KEC's pick. She's got some favorite games, as do we all. Hers was The Walking Dead, a game [profile] bunny_hugger can always put up a decent twenty million points on. Not this day. Nobody has a really good game, but I have the best of the lot. Four wins out of five is better than I remember ever doing and [profile] bunny_hugger tells me that I've locked up first place for the tournament.

So we came around to my second pick and the last game and I chose something that's just fun, Batman 66. And I'm playing with that incredible ease that comes from knowing I don't have to do anything but enjoy it. I still crush it, though, getting one more first-place finish and completing my first-ever perfect night of anything, anywhere. I finish the last Grand Rapids Selfie League with a first-place finish, and only the second time I've finished anything in first place.

We searched out for dinner afterwards --- our sandwich place closes early Sundays --- and went to a different hipster bar than usual with ADM. The main point I remember discussing besides various bits of gossip is the bit of courtesy that says a man walks on the street-side of a sidewalk, sheltering the woman he's with, a bit of behavior [profile] bunny_hugger had never noticed I compulsively do. This has helped her understand why when we turn corners I will so often vanish behind her a bit to reappear out of her blind spot.

And so did this Grand Rapids Selfie League close its history.

Trivia: The English East India Company director's letter to its governors in India for October 1718 contains the note ``Enclosed we send you 2 declarations of war with Spain'' at the top of the 44th paragraph. This comes after a lengthy protest of the drinks bill for the public table at Fort St George. (``If you must have liquors at such prices [ 9 Pagodas, about 30 rupees, a dozen for Burton ale ], pray gratify your pallats at your own, not our, expence''. Source: The Honourable Company: A History of the English East India Company, John Keay. Not answered in the text: two declarations of war? I'm not sure if they just mean two copies of the declaration?

Currently Reading: Introvert Doodles, Maureen 'Marzi' Wilson. So, anyone else tired of Introvert Pride as an Internet talking-point?

austin_dern: Inspired by Krazy Kat, of kourse. (Default)
2017-07-17 12:10 am
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Getting ready, for the county fair

How about that mathematics blog? I've got one, yeah. Here's what it's run this past week:

Also if you were wondering: What's Going On In The Amazing Spider-Man? I know and I can tell you. Meanwhile, back at the Calhoun County Fair:


The drop tower, reaching up from dusk to night. I think it wasn't all that enormous, maybe forty feet or so, but that's still plenty to get a breathtaking view of the fair grounds and to rival the Ferris wheel's view of things.


Also here's the Ferris wheel. At the bottom the ride operator had this cozy-looking seat and just put his foot up on the ride platform while there was little to do but let the big wheel keep on turning.


Platform and lots of reflections from the Wipe-out ride, which is one of those many spinny platform rides that are a good deal of fun. I couldn't resist what the lights did to the metal plating, though.


Another view of the merry-go-round and the ride operator helping it brake to a stop. Or maybe helping it get up to speed; it's hard to tell just from his body language. But I think he had to help stop it more.


Farewell shot of the fairground rides as they closed up for the night and we tried to find somewhere that still had elephant ears for sale. We found them.

Trivia: In 1977 Spain had the highest per-capita fish consumption of any Western country, and almost no fishing grounds within the 200 miles of its coastline that could be reserved to itself. Source: Cod: A Biography Of the Fish That Changed The World, Mark Kurlansky. (That year Canada's Exclusive Economic Zone cut Spain from many cod grounds.)

Currently Reading: Introvert Doodles, Maureen 'Marzi' Wilson.

austin_dern: Inspired by Krazy Kat, of kourse. (Default)
2017-07-16 12:10 am
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You can see the lights going up out in Soldiers Field

I'm thinking maybe the Calhoun County Fair for my pictures tonight.


Fairground rides at early dusk, including the giant slide, the swinging ride, and on the right the drop tower.


We skipped the haunted house dark ride as in past years it had been too small and cramped to actually have, you know, stuff in it. But the outside is good to watch and here they had a skeletal piano player set up.


Figure on the Stinson band organ. Stinson's making new band organs for parks and fairs and the like that need music and you can see how the work looks pretty good. I understand you can upload new music into one of these things by plugging in a USB stick, which seems like it ought to being the cast of Voyager down on your head for breaking the Temporal Prime Directive or something.


The swing ride at dusk with one of the more gorgeous clouds I've seen in along while behind it.


As long as the cloud is being so gorgeous why not photograph some people riding the swings in front of it?

Trivia: For the 1953 release of Peter Pan Disney, in association with Colgate, printed a map of Neverland, available for fifteen cents and labels from three packs of soap. It was inscribed, ``This map is a collector's item of limited use''. Source: On The Map: A Mind-Expanding Exploration Of The Way The World Looks, Simon Garfield.

Currently Reading: Introvert Doodles, Maureen 'Marzi' Wilson.

austin_dern: Inspired by Krazy Kat, of kourse. (Default)
2017-07-15 12:10 am
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Well, from Carol's house up on Telegraph Hill

You know what? Let's take in some pictures from the Calhoun County Fair.


Some of past fair program books on display in the historical museum section. I particularly like how the 1880s covers are set in the 1880s Typeface, like you see on book covers of the time and the occasional building inscription.


More of the Calhoun County Fair's own history: tokens for rides and probably also redemption game tries. It does make me feel a bit bad that the lineage of this has come to an end. I suppose there are still ride tickets, but they're not customized to any fair or year or anything, and a pay-one-price wristband isn't custom-fitted to any year either.


Old prizes from the fair, including a ``Chalk-Ware Elephant and Bunny won at the Calhoun County Fair in 1951.'' There's a lot of stuff like this on display --- notice the Kewpie dolls beneath --- but I know my readers here.


Commercial art turning into fairground art: mural made up of candy bar wrappers, many of them not local or from limited-edition runs. Up top on the center is a candy tied to Cedar Point's Top Thrill Dragster roller coaster. Elsewhere on the mural (not in picture) is the wrapper for the Star Trek: First Contact movie chocolate bars. That sort of thing.


The merry-go-round, running at a good six rotations per minute just as it had a few weeks earlier in Fremont, here seen going into warp.

Trivia: In 807, the Sultan Harun ar-Rashid --- the sultan depicted in The Thousand And One Nights --- sent to Charlemagne a number of gifts, including a brass water clock that rang the hours. Source: The Calendar: The 5000-Year Struggle To Align The Clock An The Heavens --- And What Happend To The Missing Ten Days, David Ewing Duncan.

Currently Reading: Barnaby, Volume 3, Crockett Johnson.

austin_dern: Inspired by Krazy Kat, of kourse. (Default)
2017-07-14 12:10 am
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You can feel somethin's happenin' in the air

Let me take a break here to share stuff that's been on my humor blog the past week. I've spent a good part of it posting some Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction from a decade-plus ago. It'll be finished tomorrow.

That said, how about that Calhoun County Fair?


Poor little chicken, all deflated and set out on the cage floor between shows.


Poor little chicken, aware that I was saying something about her and worrying that it was worse than it actually was.


``Can I help you?'' Turkey is not at all sure about being on camera, especially my camera.


Turkey decides to do something about my camera once and for all!


From the fair's historical museum section: the pre-2003 corn dog frying machine. It's not an industrial-grade machine; that they got in 2003. This was their homemade contraption for frying up corn dogs and I'm charmed by it.

Trivia: Insurance companies wanted to charge $35,000 to cover the 1947 move of the 200-inch mirror from Pasadena, California, to Palomar, well outside Caltech's budget at the time. The journey was eventually insured for $1,800. Source: The Perfect Machine: Building the Palomar Telescope, Ronald Florence.

Currently Reading: Barnaby, Volume 3, Crockett Johnson.

PS: What Would You Like In The Summer 2017 Mathematics A To Z? The request lines are open! Featuring art from [personal profile] thomaskdye!

austin_dern: Inspired by Krazy Kat, of kourse. (Default)
2017-07-13 12:10 am
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They stretch a banner 'cross the main street in town

More in the Calhoun County Fair!


Calhoun County Fair rabbits who've had to split the apartment down the middle, like they used to do in sitcoms, to accommodate their different lifestyles.


Meanwhile one of the guinea pigs presents my favorite guinea pig expression of all time, ``Are you sure you meant to invite me to this meeting? Because I could go take care of some other projects if you don't really need me here.''


Rabbit hoping to inflate one of her cage-mates by way of the ear. So it turns out rabbits manufacture vitamin D in their ears, and get it by grooming their ears and now I wonder if mutual grooming like this isn't also a chance to get some precious fat-soluble vitamins off their partners.


After a bird flu scare the previous year(?) we got fine examples of chickens and other fowl, such as this one, who'd chosen to go along with my intruding camera.


Bee who took the chance to drink a bit of lemonade(?) that had spilled on our table. Got a good bit of the drop in, too.

Trivia: By 1893 Stern's department store, then in New York City, employed three female sales clerks for every four males. Source: Service and Style: how the American Department Store Fashioned the Middle Class, Jan Whitaker.

Currently Reading: Barnaby, Volume 3, Crockett Johnson.

austin_dern: Inspired by Krazy Kat, of kourse. (Default)
2017-07-12 12:10 am
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Every year when summer comes around

I don't quite have the time I need to finish my blog-writing just now, and I'm way behind current on my photos, so I'm going to fill out the rest of this week with photo entries. I hope you like. I liked taking them and curating them and all that. Now let's go back to last August (see, I told you I was running behind) and the Calhoun County Fair!


Cattle barn at the Calhoun County Fair. [profile] bunny_hugger's father was interested in petting all the cattle, especially if there were a sign asking people not to touch them.


``Can I help you?'' Horse more interested in my camera than I was of him, really, but I'm really happy with how the picture turned out.


Sheep wearing their slickest, most skintight pajamas in the middle of the day. I've rarely so wanted to just roll around on a pile of sheep so much as their shorn skin inspired me to ponder.


Show rabbit beating the heat by sublimating into a cloud of her own design. After the previous year when none of the small mammals were on exhibit (there was some health concern, I believe) rabbits and guinea pigs were back in full count.


It's just one checkered giant rabbit, but somehow it looks like a checkered giant holding another checkered rabbit against its chest.

Trivia: The 1963-64 report on Project Orion prepared by General Atomics devoted two pages of its 725-page, four-volume report to the problem of fallout. Crew compartment noise received nine pages of comment. Source: Project Orion: The True Story of the Atomic Spaceship, George Dyson. (To be fair there wasn't much to say. Just a big embarrassed coughing.)

Currently Reading: Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine, Sarah Lohman.

PS: Why Stuff Can Orbit, Part 11: In Search Of Closure, laying out my plans for the next essay at least.

austin_dern: Inspired by Krazy Kat, of kourse. (Default)
2017-07-11 12:10 am

Cause girl, there's a better life for me and you

So the roller coaster was closed. Not ideal. Infuriating, in fact. All we could think to do was, well, what if we go to the carousel and ride that and maybe get back and maybe something would have changed? [profile] bunny_hugger was skeptical that we'd have enough time for that. I was optimistic because I always am about contingency plans and somehow never really believe that we're going to be late for anything.

The carousel, a Mangels-Ilions from 1914, had been at Wyandot Lake from 1938 until 2000 when it got transferred to the zoo. (This is before the zoo bought out the park so I don't know why the park, then owned by Six Flags, was willing to sell.) We saw and were immediately disappointed by the sign saying the band organ would play between certain hours, I think 3 to 4 pm, which we would not see. But the band organ was playing, so perhaps the sign was just a promise that it would be going those hours and didn't mean to imply anything about the rest of the day? Hard to guess. It's a beautiful carousel, although run at a lethargic three rotations per minute as I remember it. The carousel had small radial slots for the horses' poles, so that they would naturally swing outward as the ride got up to speed. Those were fixed in place, with no chance of the ride getting up to speed.

The carousel also had two of the smallest chariots we'd ever seen, ones carved as chessboard knights. These, [profile] bunny_hugger deduced, were not the ride's original chariots, based on the (filled-in) slots ahead of them. So it goes.

After our fill of the carousel we stopped off for coffee and tea and walked back to the amusement park area. Along the way we passed several flamingos in an informal-looking display and were awestruck and delighted by the way they stood. Not with one leg tucked up against their body and the other extended, like we expected from pictures and cartoons and all. The leg they weren't standing on was just raised and let to dangle down, hanging loose but not touching anything. We did ask why they did that and I forget the exact reason, but I think it amounted to something like ``they just like it that way sometimes'', which is as good a reason as could be reasonably demanded.

And we found the roller coaster closed. We fumed about this some and walked around to see what else we could that might be fun, but, there was the pressing thought that we were going to have to leave soon lest we miss our visit to Coon's Candy. In our last moments we took one last check, and told some people asking about the ride that yeah, it looked closed, but --- oh, are those zoo employees coming up the path?

Indeed. At really just past the last practical minute they reopened the ride. And the front seat was no longer taped off. We could get our front-seat ride in ... if it weren't for the guys we had been talking to, who were just a little closer to the ride entry when it got reopened. We got a backseat ride, and then went around to rejoin the short queue and missed the front seat again. And then figured we just had to get going. Maybe we'll have the front seat next year.

As we walked out the skies darkened appreciably and it started raining enough to worry we'd spoil the park map. Didn't. And then we drove, following the satellite navigator's guidance, which took us nowhere near US 23 north, so that we missed a lot of the familiar sights north of Columbus. Worse, the description of the route made it sound like we wouldn't rejoin US 23 for an hour or so and we might miss Coon's Candy altogether. Not so; the alternate path merged into US 23 after maybe ten minutes and the course proceeded as normal from there. It was only a little different around Worthington is all.

Coon's Candy was closed. Presumably for Memorial Day, in which case this will be a problem in future convention visits. We may have to set out earlier and to bring a cooler to keep candy safe on the drive back north.

Trivia: At one Royal Navy victualing yard in 1850, some 111,108 pounds of canned meat were condemned as unfit for human consumption. The manufacturer's switch to larger, 9-to-14-pound cans required more sterilizing cooking time than the older, 2-to-6-pound cans. Source: Food in History, Reay Tannahill.

Currently Reading: Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine, Sarah Lohman.

austin_dern: Inspired by Krazy Kat, of kourse. (Default)
2017-07-10 12:10 am

Too many people paying parking fines

Meanwhile how's my mathematics blog doing? If you don't have it on your Reading page? It's been busy with stuff like this:

And for the sake of symmetry: What's Going On In Gil Thorp? April - July 2017. Curiously, it's not that much, but it's complicated to summarize. Now some more of the incredibly busy day at Michigan's Adventure. Warning: bunnies!


The Funland Farm petting zoo bunnies want you to know they're under the table because they have had enough pettings for right now, thank you. When we first saw the animals early in the year we worried about how their rabbits didn't have somewhere to get away from people and sun, but they'd improved things some. The Flemish Giant on the right made us think of our Stephen, of course, and how poorly he was getting around and how maybe he'd be better off with fellow rabbits as companions.


``Can I help you?'' Goat at Funland Farm in Michigan's Adventure sizing me up to see if I have any food. I did not.


Operational mishap on a busy day. Stuff from the Chance (fiberglass) carousel at Michigan's Adventure, with something having gone and spilled an operations report sheet and booklet and somebody's pop.


So yeah, this is how busy it was: the ride queue for Shivering Timbers spilled out into the main walkway. The line was not that long in duration, as the various switchbacks inside the queue area weren't set up to hold people, and in fact the wait time was something like twenty minutes. But still, I'd never imagined the park could get that crowded. And yet here we were.


Further signs of how crowded it was: the queue for Sea Dragon, the swinging ship ride. I mean, wow.

Trivia: In 1971 TRW estimated that the use of data buses, instead of conventional avionic wire bundles with a separate wire for each signal or function, for the space shuttle orbiter would save 2500 pounds of weight and 500 watts of power requirement. Source: Development of the Space Shuttle 1972 - 1981, T A Heppenheimer.

Currently Reading: Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine, Sarah Lohman.

austin_dern: Inspired by Krazy Kat, of kourse. (Default)
2017-07-09 12:10 am

We gotta get out of this place

With the most important ride ridden, and confident we'd have time for the antique carousel at the Columbus Zoo --- which had been at the former Wyandot Lake amusement park and was now tucked somewhere deep in the main zoo grounds --- we turned to what else we might look at. Oddly, we didn't go right back to re-ride the roller coaster although that would have made sense: we hadn't gotten a front-seat ride, nor a back-seat ride, and it's not like we could expect the lines to be shorter than what we had already experienced. Indeed, when we checked back in a few hours the ride was closed, underscoring the importance if you make a trip to a place for a specific ride to get on the ride as soon as possible.

But, other rides. There was a Music Express, one of those flat rides that puts you in a car and spins around, climbing and descending a hill while music plays really loud. This one had a vaguely African Safari Or Something theme, one we don't remember seeing on another Music Express. Well, they're mostly decorated in Airbrush Art Of 70s/80s Rockers. Something with Airbrush Art of Zebras Considering a Jeep is novel.

Our most interesting discovery was the bumper cars ride. Or what we figured was bumper cars. They're more a ring, though, a seat sitting on a cylindrical disc, with an inflated tire serving as protective bumper. The driver has two sticks, one for the left motor and one for the right. Push both together and you go forward. Push just one forward, or one forward and one back, and you turn pretty fast. Push both backward and you reverse at the same speed you could go forward. In describing this later on [profile] bunny_hugger and her brother worked out the hypothetical meeting at which this invention was proposed: ``what if we had bumper boats, but on land?'' And someone starts to say something, but falls silent. Fair enough. It seems like a silly change.

Thing is, it's a great ride. The levers mean you can stop on a dime, and change direction instantly, and yoink into reverse without a pause. This changes the dynamic of bumper cars dramatically. The ability to evade your pursuer is greatly enhanced, and there's something really delightful in seeing someone coming at you head-on, throwing it into reverse, and just sailing backwards out of their reach. At a similar ride we'd find in Freehold, New Jersey, we'd learn there's a spot which, if hit, makes the hit car lose control and go spinning for a couple seconds, which is an even greater variation. We have no idea whether the ones at the Columbus Zoo do that. Now that we know to test we might find out next year, all going well.

The ride you'd least expect to see us on we took: it's the log flume. We're really not log flume riders, what with how soaking wet they try to leave riders. But given the incredible heat and still air, getting a bit soaked a few hours before we would have to set out seemed like not such a bad idea after all. Hard to say, after it happened: we did get quite wet, just in time for the wind to pick up and a heavy cloud to move over, spoiling what should have been good evaporative fun. But we kept drying and were less insufferably hot after all.

On to the Flying Scooters, a ride that in the past decade has gone from near-extinct to maybe overpopulated. It's a fun one. You sit in a scooter seat, with a giant metal sail in front that you can turn left to right. The tower lifts you up and swings you around and you can guide where it is you're pointing and some of your rotation and make yourself sick if you work hard at it. That part's in your control. Good ride.

We went back to the Sea Dragon, hoping to get a front-seat ride this time, to find that it was closed.

Trivia: In May 1945 the British Military Government evacuated a five-kilometer strip between Westphalia and Holland, displacing hundreds of families including the entire village of Suderwick. In October the strip was reduced to 500 meters and local farmers allowed to return. Source: Germany 1945: From War To Peace, Richard Bessel.

Currently Reading: Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine, Sarah Lohman.

austin_dern: Inspired by Krazy Kat, of kourse. (Default)
2017-07-08 12:10 am

If it's the last thing we ever do

When I say there was a line at the Columbus Zoo I am understating matters. There was a lot of line. More line than that. If I say there were three lines lined up after one another, would you accept it? I'd be exaggerating some. Only a little. But even before then, when we got to the parking lot, [profile] bunny_hugger dreaded whether we could get to the attractions we wanted to see before we'd have to leave to get to Coon's Candy. The line was fearsome, and moving slowly, if at all. [profile] bunny_hugger challenged me to estimate how long a wait it would be. I undershot, as ever I do, which didn't reassure her, as ever it does not.

But there were signs of good line management. As people waited, Zoo employees came out with little dry-erase boards so that people could figure out what tickets they meant to purchase, and how many of them, and write that down. So people could get all their fussing and dithering done long before they reached the counter. Just pay and get going. Great idea, and I gave them high marks for organization.

The trouble: by the time people got up to the counter they saw the admission ticket options were more numerous and complicated than they realized far back in line with just a guide to ask for advice, orally. So they would re-debate their choices and dither anyway. Well, it saved time for people who didn't want to renegotiate their admissions, at least. We were among them. We should have renegotiated, though. We'd bought park admission, and supposed that we would buy ride tickets a la carte because given the queue there was no way we'd get more than maybe one ride on the roller coaster and carousel.

Not so. The amusement park area turned out to be sparsely populated, so we'd have plenty of time to ride and even re-ride things, and to ride things of maybe marginal interest. Fortunately we could get wristbands at a booth inside which had nobody waiting at it until we went up to buy wristbands, at which point a mob of roughly 800 ditherers converged just ahead of us. Also, it was incredibly hot and sunny, much hotter and sunnier than we expected it to be, and I don't think we had sunscreen with us because the weather forecasts all weekend had been for cloudy and overcast and thunderstormy. (It had thunderstormed one night, too, supporting the believability of the overall forecast.) Not a hint of cloud now. It was bright enough that if we had a couple of mirrors we could have reflected it back and set the sun on fire.

Most of the former amusement park area is separate from the zoo, but the animals do encroach on the rides area. We stopped over by one enclosure where some keepers were putting on a little show and I recognized the animal before anyone said: they had binturongs. Some of the most active binturongs I've seen, too, at least compared to the ones in the Singapore Zoo that were housed with the otters and always looked like they had been out too late for the previous fourteen nights straight. Might be they were putting on a show. Also, that thing about them smelling like buttered popcorn? Absolutely true. We got a really strong whiff of it in the breeze and the zookeeper admitted, yeah, sometimes they do a little marking and then you really get the popcorn scent.

To rides! Our highest priority, the thing that had always had us wanting to go to the zoo, was the Sea Dragon roller coaster. This was the first year we could ride it after Morphicon/AnthrOhio as previous years the convention was too early in the season for the roller coaster to be open. This was a good year to meet the ride, too: it's the 60th anniversary of the ride's opening. The roller coaster itself is set back and rolls over top of the water park's lazy river ride, which didn't have anyone on it when we first approached. It'd get people floating off in inflated doughnuts soon enough, drinks in hand. Or some people just walking down the lazy river which seems like missing the point. Also on the banks of the river was a nesting duck that, apparently, is unnoticed enough that it doesn't feel hassled by people riding the lazy river.

Sea Dragon is your classic small wooden roller coaster, a mere 35 feet high and looping back and forth repeatedly. It's got a curved station for loading and unloading, one of those little bits of personality I always like. The ride's also dispatched and braked by classic long wooden levers. The front seat of the train was taped off, a disappointment. The restraining bars were stuck closed. (If the restraints on a roller coaster break they almost always get stuck closed.) We could ride in the second car, at least. Quite a good ride, although aren't all wooden roller coasters pretty good rides?

Trivia: Henry Ford was shocked when his gift of a Model T to neighbor Rabbi Leo Franklin was returned in protest. Ford phoned to ask, ``What's wrong, Dr Franklin? Has anything come between us?'' Source: Henry and Edsel: The Creation of the Ford Empire, Richard Bak.

Currently Reading: Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine, Sarah Lohman.

PS: How June 2017 Treated My Mathematics Blog, reviewing the statistics of stuff.

austin_dern: Inspired by Krazy Kat, of kourse. (Default)
2017-07-07 12:10 am

Too many people never sleeping late

What's kept my humor blog going the past week, besides some recycled material and a string of silly apologies for not posting my monthly statistics roundup? Pretty much that. Here's what you've been missing out on:

Last summer during the slow periods, and it's amazing to think we had slow periods, we popped over to the Blind Squirrel tavern to put in some game scores. To make the trip less obviously a ploy for pinball ratings points, we also stopped in at Michigan's Adventure on what proved to be the busiest day we had ever seen there, ever. Let's watch.


An not-at-Michigan's-Adventure picture and one from my iPod Touch since I had that on me: the former location of Emil's and a bunch of other buildings dating back to the 1920s, cleared out and obliterated and levelled to the sidewalk. They've since put up most of the replacement building here; this is what it looked like when it looked like after you hit 'bulldoze' on SimCity.


The most crowded and busy day at Michigan's Adventure that we had ever seen. In the center top you can see a little yellow angular thing; that's the Mad Mouse ride, and that was historically as far back as [profile] bunny_hugger ever needed to park. The entrance to the park isn't even visible from here, which is wild.


Shivering Timbers, Michigan's Adventure's big wooden roller coaster --- more than a mile long --- well out along its path, about where we had parked. The surrounding areas are strikingly unurbanized and, you see, marshy.


Michigan's Adventure began life in 1956 as Deer Park, a petting zoo. The petting zoo side fell away over the decades as rides came in, and the name turned to Deer Park Funland before being finally abolished in the 1980s. For the park's 60th year they put in a new petting zoo, named Funland Farm. People can come up and see animals and braid their hair and put adorable little booties on their hooves.


``Can I help you?'' From the Funland Farm petting zoo in Michigan's Adventure and if this picture doesn't make you fall in love I don't know what will.

Trivia: ENIAC cost $650 per hour in electricity when it was not running. Source: Eniac, Scott McCartney.

Currently Reading: Sky Island, L Frank Baum.

austin_dern: Inspired by Krazy Kat, of kourse. (Default)
2017-07-06 12:10 am

We gotta get out of this place

Monday morning after Morphicon/AnthrOhio we traditionally sit a little in our room, moping about the end of the convention and the long drive home which will be tempered only by getting lunch somewhere (we never do the burrito place on the way home, oddly) and stopping at Coon's Candy about an hour north of Columbus. It's a fine spot, lots of homemade candy, and just far enough away that organizing a side trip at the convention would be ludicrous. We varied that after we got our room cleared out and checked and re-checked.

This was, as you'd figure, to walk around the hotel and take our last photographs of it in the daylight. I thought there were more people at the con for the day-after stuff than usual but that might be a false impression. We wouldn't usually go up to the front desk to turn in our keys, just leaving them in the hotel room instead. But who wouldn't expect the day after to have more lingering people photographing stuff than usual?

The extra time treated us well. The previous day [profile] bunny_hugger had mentioned she didn't know what PunkCat looked like out of his raccoon fursuit. I said I'd point him out to her when we loaded the car, since it seems like I always run into him when loading the car. And I hadn't seen him when loading up the car this time. But with the time we spent prowling the hotel taking farewell photographs we were in the right place and time to run into him again. As expected, she did know the guy from appearances, she just hadn't connected him with the suit. I hope the tradition of running into him at checking-out transfers to the new hotel. We need our certainties in life.

We didn't go somewhere to eat. We had a new prospect open. There used to be a small amusement park, Wyandot Lake, adjacent to the Columbus Zoo. In 2006 the Zoo bought the then-110-year-old park and divided it into a water park with separate admission and an amusement area dubbed Jungle Jack's Landing. We had wanted to get there since, besides the remnants of the old park, they had a wooden roller coaster named the Sea Dragon. It had always been something that opened in mid-May, too late for Morphicon/AnthrOhio in its traditional weekend. But now that it's moved to Memorial Day weekend we could go! The amusement park area would be open and the roller coaster running. We could try that out, and could also see their antique carousel.

It was a bright, sunny Memorial Day. We figured we'd only have a couple hours there, as we needed to get to [profile] bunny_hugger's parents at a reasonable evening hour. But that should be enough for a short visit to a couple of rides. And it might be crowded; we had no way to guess what the zoo and amusement park crowd would be like this early in the summer season, on a weekday, but a holiday weekday. We had heard we could buy admission tickets from the AAA, or possibly from the Kroger. We decided not to, though, trusting that while the tickets would be a little more expensive we'd be better off not taking the time to divert away from the Columbus Zoo.

This was as completely wrong a decision as we could possibly have made.

Trivia: Nicaragua's 1902 postage stamps, including the one depicting the Momotombo volcano which would help sway the United States away from a Nicaraguan and to a Panamanian canal location, were printed by the American Bank Note Company of New York City. Source: Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq, Stephen Kinzer.

Currently Reading: Sky Island, L Frank Baum.

austin_dern: Inspired by Krazy Kat, of kourse. (Default)
2017-07-05 12:10 am
Entry tags:

Watched his hair been turning grey, he's been workin' and slavin' his life away

We took another round of walking the hotel because we could never get enough of that, and then it was time for closing ceremonies. We couldn't miss that. It hit all the traditional points. There was some continuing heartbreak as we kept being reminded that this was the last time Morphicon/AnthrOhio would be in the Holiday Inn Worthington. [profile] bunny_hugger's spent more than a month of her life prowling around its rooms. I've spent nearly a month of mine there. It's the hotel we know best. I suppose the hotel for Further Connection North/Motor City Fur[ry] Con will soon overtake that.

The tradition of one of the guests of honor having to leave before closing ceremonies continued. I think every convention we go to has one of those. In this case, it was the Guest of Honor who'd improved our lives by not being in them, so, hey, unexpected bonus. And the rabbit rescue charity got a nice sum, including some last-minute donations that kept up the tradition of the charity liaison being about to burst into tears at the donations. And they did some tossing out of t-shirts. One of the guests of honor this year had done tie-die versions of t-shirts or something like that, and they tossed out unused and past-year shirts. And [profile] bunny_hugger snagged one of the past-year shirts. I think it was from 2008, the year she started attending conventions. Not sure. She'll say.

And then, with the announcement of the theme for next year --- Barks and Recreation so I'm looking forward to all the Furry Leslie Knope art that's surely in the works --- the convention was over.

We did a little walking around trying to see people before they were all gone, but really took the chance to go back to Hot Head Burrito for our second visit there the weekend. Also to discover that somehow we had another loyalty-card reward knocking a dollar or so off of our purchase. Remember that we had gotten a couple dollars off our purchase Thursday when we bought two (2) burritos there. So granted they're doing a great job encouraging us to go there but, guys, we're only in Columbus like once a year. We might make it twice if we started going to Midwest Bun Fest. But that's pretty far for burritos. Open something in mid-Michigan, gang, then we'd be along. There was also, it transpired, some value meal thing for Sundays that left the dinner cheaper than Thursday's were.

They had karaoke going again Sunday night. The convention had always sort of packed up and blown out of town after closing ceremonies with the exception of the Atomic Battle of Doom/Foam-Flinging Frenzy. This time, they had the Foam-Flinging Frenzy, but it seemed less busy than usual. Maybe we just passed during more of the setup and intermission moments than usual. There's luck in all of this.

But still: karaoke. [profile] bunny_hugger got up and sang a little. I didn't. I was feeling a bit off and it turns out I was suffering a cold so what tiny vocal control I had was totally obliterated. I'd go through the cold fairly quickly, but then [profile] bunny_hugger would pick one up ... about a week later. The same one I had? Or one that she got from a friend we'd seen in the interim? Can't tell.

We left the karaoke when someone went and called up ``Cat's In The Cradle'' because if the night's getting that mawkish, and on the last night of the convention in its last night of the hotel? Far too dangerous to stick around.

There was also supposed to be a Dead Dog Dance, over in the room that had been Hospitality until a few hours earlier. But there was almost nobody there, probably a combination of the remoteness of the room and the crowd melting away. After a little while of me and [profile] bunny_hugger trying to dance (her) or lurch around (me) the DJ asked if, hey, what the heck, would we want to see how his system worked? ... Sure, why not?

So that's how I ended up standing behind a turntable setup, watching nervously some strings of impossibly complicated waveforms and completely missing the beat when I was supposed to hit a button and set a secondary track going. I hate to sound too stereotypical and, frankly, square about my understanding of electronic dance music but I couldn't really tell the difference in any of the buttons I pressed or the dials I turned, some of which adjusted the tempo of the recordings. But --- at least eventually --- the guy running it thought I was getting better. Mostly I learned to recognize some patterns of things in the waveforms and moved based on that AND NOTHING ELSE. So apparently determined following of a couple rules can overcome an inability to understand what the heck I was really supposed to be doing.

I was the first volunteer, but eventually a couple other people, [profile] bunny_hugger included, gave short tries. With my example none of them had the same long string of fumbling mistakes that I did, like pressing one of the few buttons given a clear-to-anyone label of '3', a white button, when I was supposed to hit the green button '2'. One of the other people to visit and maybe even try things out was that woman we'd met the day before, the one who was weeping and described herself as so empathetic.

We would make our excuses to go find something to drink --- it was a little warm, especially with my incipient cold --- and confirmed that karaoke was still going on and getting deep into sentimentality. So we walked around on a little photo tour of the rest of the hotel, including the wing that Morphicon/AnthrOhio never occupies. The big exploration point there was a strange, oversized desk and cabinet set that had very many drawers, not a single one of which had anything in it. It occupied an alcove that would logically have been a door, except that it was the wall outside the exercise room and so no door was needed. We also discovered something astounding about that end of that leg of the hotel. It had a sign claiming there was an elevator there; there wasn't. The only hotel in the whole building was the one near our room, on the far end of the other leg of the hotel.

In our last twelve hours of a familiar old place there were still secrets to learn.

Trivia: The 29 May 1848 vote in Lombardy on fusion with the Piedmont government was passed 56,000 to 681. Source: 1848: The Revolutionary Tide in Europe, Peter N Stearns.

Currently Reading: Sky Island, L Frank Baum.

PS: Reading the Comics, July 1, 2017: Deluge Edition, Part 2, finish off comic strips from last week and saving some for next week.

austin_dern: Inspired by Krazy Kat, of kourse. (Default)
2017-07-04 12:10 am
Entry tags:

Watch my daddy in bed a-dyin'

So a thing about AnthrOhio's web form for submitting panel ideas: this year's didin't send back an automatic e-mail saying your proposal was received and would be considered. I didn't think anything about this when I put in my proposals and I only discovered this when I went through my mail archive in the week before the con, trying to work out a problem. The trouble was that [profile] bunny_hugger's panels were not on the schedule. She always runs the Bunnies SIG. She has at AnthrOhio and before that Morphicon since she started going to Morphicon. But a few days before the con she mentioned she hadn't heard when her panel was, and I said they'd sent out the panel schedules a couple weeks before, and she hadn't heard anything.

We can't be sure what happened. It might be that they lost her Bunnies and Pinball SIG proposals. It might be that they declined the panels and didn't tell her, but that's incredibly weird. I could imagine the Pinball SIG being rejected as too marginally on-topic for a furry convention, but a chance for bunnies and bunny fans to talk to each other? ... or it might be that [profile] bunny_hugger didn't actually submit the panel. She'd been told the first time she e-mailed that she should wait for the web form to open up, and maybe she mistakenly thought she'd submitted to AnthrOhio and Motor City Fur[ry] Con at the same time? Maybe she did submit and her form submission got garbled or lost? But there was no way to know and, more importantly, no Bunnies SIG on the schedule.

[profile] bunny_hugger started prodding the con's scheduling people, and they said if she found a time and place for them they'd add them to the schedule. There were obvious times, immediately before and after my Raccoons and Procyonids SIG. And obvious location, the same room. She proposed that and got ... no response until after we got on the road. She despaired that her streak of being Queen of the Morphicon/AnthrOhio Bunnies was broken just shy of ten years, and that there wouldn't be a Bunnies gathering. But then, at Opening Ceremonies, the Events Chair mentioned as additions to the schedule her Bunnies and her Pinball panels. (Which, I suppose, means Guest of Honor that has enriched our lives by not being in them was aware of her presence at the con after all, if Guest of Honor can hear names that aren't Big Name Furry Artist's or Guest of Honor's own.)

So the good part: Bunnies SIG was on the schedule! The bad part: at 1 pm Sunday, which is not the worst possible hour (that'd be 10:30 am Sunday), but still an hour people could be expected to be barely awake or eating if they were. And it never did get added to the official online schedule, although it was written in to the poster-sized schedules at Hospitality and the main passageway in the hotel. And while I rallied votes for my Raccoons and Procyonids ``Trash Panda'' ballot I mentioned the panel to everyone I met. But we were still expecting a dismal outcome.

So the turnout was small, but that also makes it intimate and meant talking with a couple people who were really into bunnies. If I remember right it even included someone who hadn't yet read this Watership Down thing. That there are rabbit-inclined furries who haven't read it, or at least watched the movie, never ceases to amaze me, but it does mean there's always someone among the day's lucky 10,000 at the con.

This fed right into the Raccoons and Procyonids SIG, which I'd got attention for and drawn in some mere curious onlookers by going around Friday and Saturday with my little trash bin promising candy and the results of the ``Trash Panda: Yes or No'' ballot. There were even a couple of people with raccoon characters, or who at least considered raccoons at some point. The strange thing about raccoons in furry fandom is they've always been seen as more popular than they actually are, probably because they're so easy to spot in a crowd. Well, we did get a visit from PunkCat in his raccoon costume and I got to find out why he has a raccoon fursuit given his name suggests he ought to be a punk suiter instead. ``Yes'' won the Trash Panda vote as of course it would. I didn't have as high a vote turnout as at Motor City Fur[ry] Con, but I had spent less time gathering votes too. And we scattered candy, lots of candy, so much candy to the table.

And that fed right into the Pinball SIG and [profile] bunny_hugger talking to a couple of people about mostly the art and aesthetics of pinball machines. Many of them had set-in-the-future themes and motifs and we regretted again that there wasn't any practical way for us to bring our Tri-Zone to the con. She also got to talk a good bit about her second-favorite pinball artist, Gordon Morison, who's got this ``smiling people in space'' motif that's distinctive and so future-friendly. It was a triumph to have the panels happen, although the last-minute panic and work needed to get them scheduled dampened a lot of the fun.

Trivia: Michigan Agricultural College's Botany Professor Alfred N Prentiss would sometimes play on the students' baseball team. According to the MAC Record Prentiss was ``so awkward that most of us preferred that he should play on the side of our opponents''. Source: But Didn't We Have Fun? An Informal History of Baseball's Pioneer Era, 1843 - 1870, Peter Morris. (The Record's comment was published in 1916. Morris's account is unclear about just when he played and makes it sound Prentiss was faculty then, but he was an undergraduate in the 1850s. He was teaching at MAC through the 1860s, as late as the Pioneer Era goes. Yeah, we know the place better now as Michigan State University, but they still have a street named MAC that doesn't go through campus because who goes through campus if they can avoid it?)

Currently Reading: The Gem Collector, PG Wodehouse.

austin_dern: Inspired by Krazy Kat, of kourse. (Default)
2017-07-03 12:10 am
Entry tags:

The pole, the wall, the pride, the falls

And now a week of mathematics blogging, as represented in a list for people without RSS feeds, which is everyone.

And, lest we be imbalanced, What's Going On In Judge Parker? 8 April - 2 July 2017. Some big stuff got resolved.

When we got to the Mean Streak station the operator mentioned how they had just announced the ride's imminent closing. This caught some of the people in the queue by surprise. It was about an average crowd, maybe a ten-minute wait, which for an August visit to Cedar Point is really underperforming.


Upskirt shot of Mean Streak's lift hill. There's a big long chain pulling roller coaster cars up there, so they have the energy to get all the way through its three minutes-plus length. The lift hill has been altered quite a bit as of June 2017, and the platform where the cars actually ride is currently not there. Not sure what's going to go there instead, but it'll probably be named Vicious Streak.


Underneath the Mean Streak station. The long, thin horizontal bars connected to vertical pipes are the mechanism for the queue gates. They all open or close together.


Jaunty-angle view of the start of Mean Streak's lift hill --- the track turns around immediately after leaving the launch station --- with a hazy view of Lake Erie beyond it. Somewhere off in the distance, to the left, is Sandusky.


Stuff hung up in the Mean Streak operator's booth. Mean Streak Henry would be there the last day for the ride. The Cedar Point flyer on the right I imagine is from the early 90s when the roller coaster was new; the logo is certainly of that era.


Mean Streak's retirement coincided with what would have seemed impossible: the creation of Mean Streak merchandise, eg, the T-shirt there. We learned that trip that Cedar Point had made ride shirts for all its roller coasters, and all of roughly the same style, with the ride's logo atop a circular badge and some rendition of a part of the ride behind it. By September the Mean Streak shirts were sold out.


Also discovered: they made faux vintage shirts for rides and attractions now gone. Jumbo Jet is a roller coaster --- two roller coasters, in fact --- that Cedar Point had in the 70s; the latter of it has since been relocated to Minsk, Belarus, where it's still running. Beneath that, Fascination was a ball-rolling bingo-like game that the park had until the 1990s, and that we discovered this decade is a lot of fun, which is a pity because there's like four parks left that still have the frightfully complicated machinery for it. (Indiana Beach, Knoebels, and Wildwood are three of the spots, though.) The spot's now a Johnny Rocket's.

Trivia: The BBC's August 1936 ten-day trial run of television broadcasting, dubbed The Radio Show, began two hours late owing to a blown fuse, and two women hired as the ``super women'' announcers were out, sick. Jasmine Bligh was in hospital for an emergency appendectomy; Elizabeth Cowell was at home with a throat infection. Source: Please Stand By: A Prehistory of Television, Michael Ritchie.

Currently Reading: The Gem Collector, PG Wodehouse.

austin_dern: Inspired by Krazy Kat, of kourse. (Default)
2017-07-02 12:10 am
Entry tags:

You'll be dead before your time is due, I know

[profile] bunny_hugger has a couple of sketchbooks that she's taken to conventions, sometimes adding a picture of herself or a picture of the both of us together. She'd not gotten so many recently, but decided this time to get sketches in both. So we did a careful prowl of the dealer's den, and found people for both. I believe one of them she'd already had a sketch from years ago, and another artist we always see and is always sure she's done a sketch for [profile] bunny_hugger. Well, both were done and are gorgeous and you should come over sometime and see them. She also spotted, from the stand selling all the clip-on tails, a black-and-white bunny tail that's much like her own but not so worn out from overuse. The vendor also pointed out how in the new-model bunny tails there's a seam to open the thing up and clean and replace the padding, and also to more easily clean the tail proper. They're getting quite good about the design of all this.

I think we ended up making a lunch out of what was left over in Hospitality from their sandwiches. As ever, they provided more meat and not quite enough cheese, surely on the theory that people who aren't vegetarian will load up on bologna and whatnot. Which is true, but they also load up on the American cheese and whatnot. But put enough lettuce on and add potato salad and you can do well enough. For dinner we went to the little shopping mall across the main street, to the Mediterranean place we had discovered last year. We also worked out why it was [profile] bunny_hugger didn't remember the mall being there her first Morphicon. The mall had been present, but it was quietly failing, and was massively renovated after her first con in the area. The massive renovation opened up most of the shops to the outside, giving it the style of that Town Center-style contemporary mall that people like because apparently they forgot they live somewhere that gets winter. But it left the interior in place, which explains why there was an inside to the mall, and also why the mall was kind of tiny: it originally dated back to the 70s and so met then-contemporary standards for size.

Anyway, that was all prelude to the mucking panel. Which was in the same room as a panel run by the Guest of Honor we couldn't stand; I was much more glad for the half-hour break between panels. I passed out the informational flyers that were so exciting to the person who'd wanted to make them, so, good for that. We had a pretty decent crowd, too, something like a dozen people there. Some were old-time muckers. Some were people just curious what it was like in the before-times.

It was all going quite nicely and then one of the people mentioned that he'd been on SpinDizzy way, way back in the day. Which was great. And he mentioned that he had been friends with Findra. Before I could think we'd blurted out that she had died, unexpectedly, years ago. And tried to apologize but then realized, Findra's death was something we had grieved, and accepted, and gotten used to, long ago, and now here was someone who had fallen out of touch and then was getting this all at once. But, gosh, why wasn't I thinking a little bit faster?

The mucking panel was in the evening, and then we took a little not-quite-dinner break in Hospitality. There we had a slightly odd conversation with a woman who was weeping a little, the sort of thing that's prelude to a major cry. But she explained she wasn't that upset on her own, she was tearing up because she's extremely empathic and had just come from a table where another woman was upset. That other woman seemed to be getting attention from the people at that table, so we focused on ... well, talking this person back into calmness. She was soon in pretty stable emotional shape, it seemed, and talking about how she was going to draw for us and the like. (We didn't expect her to and couldn't think of any reason she ought.) We would see her a couple of times the rest of the night and on Sunday, mostly in passing, but she did remember our encounter.

After the break there was another Text Adventures panel. By this time we were hooked on the things. This one promised to be an ``After Dark'' session, by which I meant Draggor was going to be more lax about cussing. This one was themed to the protagonist being a delivery person trying to drop something off at a house which turned out to be ... if not haunted, at least creeeeeeepy. And, like, haunted by a werewolf and vampires and the like.

I didn't manage any great saves of the party this game, although a save I did order turned out to be at a pretty convenient spot when we got promptly killed. There was a woman a couple players before me who wanted to make dirty jokes --- mostly about stripping naked --- and guide everyone else to doing that. We carried on. Also [profile] bunny_hugger and I successfully refrained from using our growing genre-awareness to just order people to doing what seemed right to us. The party did take one chance to plummet down the trap door that [profile] bunny_hugger saw coming from the room's items list. ... Well, we won, although there were a couple of bits that seemed like stuff we failed to use or collect or deploy.

We retreated back to our room, to rest a little, and to get dressed for the dance. And more than dressed. [profile] bunny_hugger had got some face paint, including ultraviolet dyes, that we could use to be a little more in style. Unfortunately the dance floor, in the ballroom that was also serving as the main event space, was not that dark, and didn't have the black lights that would make the ultraviolet markers show.

So we'd have to fall back on just going, and dancing, and enjoying it as it was. Which we can totally do. We stuck it out the rest of the night, with a break or two to get to Hospitality and get something to drink, or to walk around and be there for the last event night of AnthrOhio at this hotel. And we were there through the end of the dance and to walk slowly back to our room. [profile] bunny_hugger had noticed this tray of room service that had been left outside one room all day. It was there each time we went past that room. It was still there when we went to our room. No idea what its little poignant short story was.

And that closed out Saturday at AnthrOhio.

Trivia: On its opening in October 1662 users of the Center for Torch and Lantern Bearers of Paris would pay three sols, slightly moer than the cost of a cup of coffee, for each quarter-hour of accompaniment by torchbearer. For five sols a quarter-hour the torchbearer would sit on the carriage, serving as headlights. (A quarter-hour was advertised as enough time to get anywhere in the City.) Source: The Essence of Style: How the French Invented High Fashion, Fine Food, Chic Cafés, Style, Sophistication, and Glamour, Joan DeJean.

Currently Reading: The Gem Collector, PG Wodehouse.

austin_dern: Inspired by Krazy Kat, of kourse. (Default)
2017-07-01 12:10 am
Entry tags:

I swam, I sank, top seed, unranked

It's a day late but here's the roundup of my humor blog pieces, as brought to your Reading page or your RSS feed. Thanks for being around for it all. I spent a lot of this week in a low-impact mode, looking over old stuff and adding a little bit of commentary to it.

On the way back from Pittsburgh and Kennywood we dropped in at Cedar Point on the day the plans to close Mean Streak were released to the world. So we made our little hour visit there mostly about going to the giant wooden roller coaster and taking in a ride and getting some documentary pictures taken.


Cedar Point's new water tower, under construction, and getting ready to replace the old water tower. We'd follow its progress over the season and I was surprised that the nearly century-old old water tower was still up when we visited the park in June 2017.


Final approach to the Mean Streak! That is, the stretch of path leading up to the Mean Streak. We'd make another approach to it in September for the proper farewell and last ride.


Mean Streak's entrance and some of the great big honking pile of wood that makes up the attraction.


Some of the Mean Streak's switchback areas, capacity for a ridership that it just never saw these days. Also some of the gorgeous major hills that it's got.


Some of the less glorious infield of Mean Streak, showing off some more of the wonderful hypnotically soothing supports to its great swooping hills and, on the left, the return leg.

Trivia: The Latin zodiac sign Libra, the Scales, was in Sanskrit `Tula', and in the Babylonian scheme `Balance'. Source: Mapping Time: The Calendar and its History, EG Richards.

Currently Reading: The Gem Collector, PG Wodehouse.

PS: A Listing Of Mathematics Subjects I Have Covered In A To Z Sequences Of The Past on my less deliberately funny blog. Just observing.