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July 2017

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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.

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.

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.

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.

We got out of the show to the last few hours of Cedar Point's season. We took the train to the back of the park. We got, if my pictures are reliable notes, the Judy K, which I think is the engine that used to work for some Lansing company. The train's a decent way to get to the back of the park, and better, it's a good way to get views of the park from weird angles. It gave us some of our better views of what's left of Mean Streak. The ride had been under renovation for several weeks, ever since the closing ceremony. Already big chunks of its lift hill were gone, just, removed, although most of the wooden lattice support structure was in place. There wasn't any getting close to the ride, much less making out just what they're doing with it, but a roller coaster partially deconstructed is a heck of a thing to see.

We got in some rides in the back of the park, and more sightseeing, since it's just a great place to be and to wander around. I'm not sure if we got another ride on the Mine Ride, but it's plausible we would've. It's rarely a ride with a long wait to it, and it's a satisfying ride.

We had dinner at the Midway Market, the buffet restaurant that for some reason my head can't understand is closed Halloweekend Fridays. We often get there one night per Halloweekends weekend since it is both warm and a pretty good deal, and we'd missed it on Saturday. Got garlic fries instead, using the park's new and very annoying electronic ordering system that's converted the mess of people just ordering fries at a cash register to people staring uncomprehending at a computer screen and then not knowing if they paid or not because the credit card system doesn't work very well. Sunday, the restaurant, that was easier to understand. We paid, then went inside, then ate.

Thing we didn't realize until we got into the market: this was the last day of the season. All their food, basically, had to go now or never. So the place was stuffed full. It might not always be very good, but on the other hand, we'd never seen so many desserts there. Lots and lots and lots there. Also I snapped some pictures of the market, as I realized we never had got any pictures and who knew if they'd be renovated or something? We have no reason to think they will be anytime soon, but that's the thing. A place like that changes all over and you never see it coming.

We did something we hadn't done before. We rode the Witches' Wheel. That's an Enterprise ride. It's got free-swinging cars on a spinning axle that rises to nearly vertical. It's the sort of ride that, again, you never pay attention to. But it's there and who knows when it might not be anymore? It's the sort of thing I can ride easily. [ profile] bunny_hugger gets nauseous more easily at this kind of motion but was feeling good, and these sorts of rides are usually easier on a full stomach. It was kind to her this time and, well, what a nice change of pace. We also got a good ride in on the Monster, which is not a rare ride. Just a slow one; it takes forever to load and unload.

A couple of last rides, for the final hours. Mostly roller coasters. Raptor, Iron Dragon, Blue Streak. Some time watching the glorious depths of clouds rolling in after sunset as lit by the park's lights (and, secondarily, Sandusky's lights). We got on the Midway Carousel for the last ride of the season, a rare one with the merry-go-round nearly full.

We had looked at the sweets shop before our last rides, but there was a line and we figured we could get Chicago-style popcorn for the drive home afterwards. By the time we got there after the carousel ride they'd closed for the night, and season. I blame myself; I'd stopped for some pictures of the rides graveyard and the like and while it maybe only cost us a minute, we might've missed the last admittances by a minute.

So we set off for home with that disappointment. Always some mean little anticlimax. But we got to see out the season. And as we left about as the park closed we were able to get home, to our familiar bed, not long after midnight.

Still no official word, as far as I've heard, about what Mean Streak is turning into. It's going to be something called Vicious Streak, I'm sure. They ought to make something called Winning Streak, but they won't.

Trivia: On 26 January 1929 architect William Van Allen sent Walter Chrysler plans for the 51st through 67th floors of his building. Source: Higher: A Historic Race to the Sky and the Making of a City, Neal Bascomb. (The 28th through 50th floors would follow later.)

Currently Reading: P T Barnum: The Legend And The Man, A H Saxon.

We drove back to Cedar Point from the Merry-Go-Round Museum as the drizzly rain mostly let up. It was cool and damp and that didn't leave the crowds quite as small as we'd expected. After a little dithering on my part we parked up front, instead of around back by the hotel entrance (we weren't sure we'd be let in, since the hotel had closed for the week, and the season, at noon) or the Marina entrance, where it'd be convenient to go if we wanted to eat at the Bay Harbor restaurant after the park closed.

We'd eaten at that restaurant after the park's closing in several past years, as a way to take the edge off the end of the weekend's fun. But the restaurant was also becoming less fun. Because of the lateness of the hour and the season we'd be eating alone, or nearly alone, often and that felt awkward. And they're a seafood restaurant anyway, with not much for people trying to eat vegetarian. So among other things we let slip away in 2016 was the restaurant.

Not slipping away: seeing the magic show! We got back moments before one of the performances was to begin. This is the one at the Jack Aldrich theater, a bunch of magic performances with dance interludes, that I got up on stage for a couple years back. They still had that magic trick, although this year kids were called up to hold the banner and swap places with the clown-magician in the stocks. Seeing the same show a couple years in a row has let us in on one of its secrets, which is that they don't do the show the same each year. They swap out maybe one dance and one magic trick each year, of the five or six each, so that I guess things don't ever get stale but they also don't feel completely altered.

I also realized, belatedly as ever, that I had a new camera this year. A camera that's much better at taking fast, low-light pictures than I've ever had before. The stage lights and the dark make for the sort of brilliant spectacle that I love but that I'd learned from past experience were impossible to photograph. But now? Why not try with my new camera? I had happy results from this. The low, weird-light pictures --- including some with black-lighted props and costumes --- came out as well as I could have hoped. This could change everything, at least in the very specific field of what kinds of stage shows I could hope to photograph. You'll see pictures of that some Thursday or Sunday night, I suppose, around these parts.

Trivia: The human body has no specific mechanism for removing excess iron other than menstrual bleeding and the shedding of gut-lining cells. Source: Oxygen: The Molecule That Made The World, Nick Lane.

Currently Reading: P T Barnum: The Legend And The Man, A H Saxon. So until Saxon brought it up I had never pondered the question. One of Barnum's big early show successes was the humbug of ``Joice Heth'', supposedly a 161-year-old slave who'd nursed George Washington. The question: did Barnum buy her to show her off? The answer appears to be no; his contracts were clear that all he was buying was her performances and the right to exhibit her. But he bought those from the slave's master. Ah, America: there's nothing our racism can't make that little extra bit worse. (And it appears, although there's just barely the room to deny it, that he bought at least one slave for a southern tour in the 1830s. He did turn abolitionist around the time of Bleeding Kansas.)

Back to Cedar Point. We were in the Frontier Town area, with many of the shops that offer handmade attractions, some of them in shows. So we poked around the glass gallery and its terrifyingly expensive beautiful glass. And the wax candle shop with less-terrifyingly-expensive candles that are at least as amazing when you look at how many colors get packed into things. And we stopped in at the wood-carving shop to see what's changed. Some things were still there, gryphon and dragon heads, half-scale models of the Schwabinchen lady that was the decorative fixture in the middle of the ride, that sort of thing. I believe the carver who's the son of the guy that carves at the Merry-Go-Round museum was there. We would miss the carver at the Merry-Go-Round museum, though, since we went there Sunday instead of Saturday.

Walking back towards the Corkscrew roller coaster we discovered something wonderful. Near the ride is a Rock-and-Roll Graveyard, with gravestones for a great many music legends. And there was a statue there which we hadn't noticed before. It had an electric guitar strapped to it, but it looked to be one of the vintage, circa-1900 statues that the park used to have around. Cedar Point's been losing those parks gradually over the years; the last one we'd known of, Mercury besides a fountain, had been at the Marina Entrance until it was renovated for the Valravn ride. The vanishing of the old statues has been the one major thing unsatisfying thing about current Cedar Point management, which I suppose shows how well [ profile] bunny_hugger and I think they're doing about making a well-balanced park. That there's --- we think --- one of these statues come out of hiding, even if just for Halloweekends, is a great sign. The park has too little of its 147-year history on display and every little bit more helps.

We got to Corkscrew because we figured that was the best vantage point to see the Halloweekends parade. And we believed this to be our only chance to se the Halloweekends parade, since the park signs seemed (to me, anyway) ambiguous about whether Halloweekends stuff would go on the Sunday. Sundays at the end of the season in previous years were a loose, unattached day, with workers taking down props while they were on staff. It happened they also ran the show on Sunday, but there wasn't any telling that ahead of time.

This was the 20th Halloweekends for Cedar Point and they promised a whole-new parade experience. They seemed ready to make good on that promise too, since the parade route was back to its full course running the length of the park; the previous few years it had been just a short loop around the front of Cedar Point. We were sad to think that the old Halloweekends song might be replaced, but that would mean there was some new and potentially exciting song coming. After waiting long enough that we tarted worrying we'd got the wrong place somehow we finally saw the parade coming and we listened to hear the new parade music and heard: nothing.

We tried, mind you. We could hear some faint, unidentifiable music from the park's speakers, but nothing from the parade itself. What seems to have happened is they had the parade music play by the park speakers, rather than by any of the parade floats, and we happened to be in a spot just far enough from any speakers that we couldn't hear it.

The parade wasn't entirely new; it was a mix of the floats and marching bands and dancers and all that just like you would expect. Some of the floats we recognized from previous years. A good number were new. Some floats had been retired and their animatronics shifted over to standing park attractions, part of the scenery enhancements we like. It's changed but not unrecognizably so.

We took a break, back in the hotel room. And after resting and warming up we went back in, where we found just how long the line to be searched by Tenable Security could be. Also how arbitrary their rules about what were bags subject to search were. The evening would be some rides and some regrets. We'd missed the last performance of the magic-and-dance show, most importantly, a show we just never miss (and the one I got called up on stage for one year). Would they have a Sunday show? We had no idea, but hoped.

We did get a night ride on Rougarou, the converted Mantis. It's still a ride that's got a pretty good layout and needlessly head-bangy restraints. We got some other rides in too. Calypso, now moved and renamed the Tiki Twirl. Blue Streak, the classic-styled wooden roller coaster. The bumper cars. I forget if we rode Wicked Twister, but I think we did, for the sake of making sure we didn't go the season without a ride on it. The carousels, including Cedar Downs. The good, fun stuff.

And noticed Mean Streak's grave marker, and ride sign, at that graveyard. It had one of the trains posed at the open grave, as though poping out, with light and smoke generators underneath. You know, in case we didn't realize the ride was going to get re-made as something. They haven't announced what, just yet.

Our last ride for the night was Corkscrew, one of our old friends for the close of nights by now. As midnight passed the park was settling in to a misty fog, which the park lights made all the more rich and more wonderful to walk around, and eventually to sleep in.

Trivia: In portions of British-controlled India in 1823 the price of a half a maund of salt (about 41 pounds, roughly what a family of two adults and three children would need for a year) rose to six rupees, about half a year's wages. Source: The Great Hedge of India: The Search for the Living Barrier That Divided A People, Roy Moxham.

Currently Reading: Innumeracy, John Allen Paulos.

Halloweekends Friday Evenings see only select rides open at Cedar Point. One of the important ones for us was Top Thrill Dragster. We hadn't got onto it this season, since it's normally too busy. And we had missed it the year before, since every time we had tried to ride it then the ride was down, mostly for weather. It's not like Cedar Point is likely to want to get rid of the coaster --- it's their tallest and fastest ride, and still draws huge crowds --- but you never know when chance or mishap will take something away. And there was a comfortably short queue during the early admission hour, so we got our season's ride in. No rollback, so MWS doesn't have to envy us for that.

We also used the extra hour to get to Valravn. Once again somehow we couldn't figure out how to get a front-seat ride. Not that middle or back seats are bad, mind you. It's just it really seems like we're missing something being held at the top of a vertical drop if here's someone in our way.

What we didn't expect would be open, or so compelling to us, was the petting zoo. Cedar Point has a little farm as part of the Frontier Town trail. It's part of the educational block of buildings and shows they put in back in the 70s, when that sort of thing was important to amusement parks. Given it was the last weekend of October I'd assumed they would have brought the animals somewhere warm for the winter. They hadn't yet. We paused a moment to admire a turkey, who was quite happy to be admired, and we figured we might stop by later.

We also made visits, before the crowd got in, to Maverick and to Iron Dragon. Maverick is always hugely popular, moreso since the new restraint system doesn't go banging people's heads in. Iron Dragon is less popular and we've started to worry about its fate. The park experimented for a couple weeks with an ``augmented reality'' headset, making the ride into one about a dragon carrying the train out of some kind of danger. We missed that experiment and I don't know if the park is going to bring it back next year. But it does suggest they'd rather do some mild tinkering with the ride to make it more exciting rather than tear it down. Of course, what park doesn't figure that?

We happened to be near the Luminosity stage, where a great gymnastics-and-dance show takes place nightly, at a quarter to eight. This was when the performers for the various haunted house shows move from staging areas to the performance venues. What we didn't know they did was they moved in a parade, groups of performers each holding (flameless?) candles, moving underneath banners for the relevant sections. Moving in a great, quiet mass to the Luminosity stage, there for some opening words about the haunts and thrills they would give, and then moving onward. I think this is a new affair for the 2016 season, part of Cedar Point's program of making each day more of a spectacle. It's a good spectacle. More credit to them for it.

With Top Thrill Dragster and Iron Dragon we'd gotten in the last of the must-visit-each-year attractions and we could poke around the right of the night just, you know, having fun. Doing stuff like seeing what pinball machines in the arcade were still working. Most of them were, although not Travel Time. That's a game with a limit based on ball time rather than ball count. That's always unusual, and add to it a Christian Marche backglass, and you can see why it's a favorite and a shame that, I believe, we didn't get any chances to play it in 2016.

We'd close the night out on the Kiddieland Carousel, which I think we had to ourselves. I think we startled the ride operator by coming up to ride it, which will happen in the late hours on the last Friday of the season. You know how it is. And then we went to Millennium Force for an after-dark ride on this extremel popular, extremely smooth roller coaster.

That all didn't actually take us to midnight and the park's close. We told ourselves that there was no need for us to squeeze in every possible moment at the park, and that we could go to our room even before the park closed if it meant we had a bit more rest and a better day tomorrow. And so we did, according to my camera. I have clear pictures of the Resort Entrance, as we exited, at 11:56 pm.

I did notice there that the park had relocated Mean Streak's performance ribbons and the sign for Mean Streak Henry to that entrance's office. It noted that as of the end of Mean Streak, Henry had ridden 16,174 times. That's a good, arbitrary number of no clear importance.

Trivia: From May 1932 through October 1933 Walt Spose drew The Wonderland Of Oz, a comic strip based on five of the L Frank Baum novels: The Marvelous Land of Oz, Ozma of Oz, The Emerald City of Oz, The Patchwork Girl of Oz, and Tik-Tok of Oz. (It had no Alice in Wonderland connection.) Source: A Brief Guide To Oz, Paul Simpson.

Currently Reading: American Slavery, 1619 - 1877, Peter Kolchin.

PS: 48 Altered States, featuring a neat alternate map of the United States and about which I kind of mention something mathematical in passing sort of.

The rest of the night had a weird sense. Maybe anticlimax since we were there after the big busy event which had brought us there. Maybe just because all our normal park routines were broken up by this; we weren't going to be having a routine September night at Cedar Point no matter what we did. We ate. And we spent time hanging around the Casino arcade, looking over some of the crane games --- [ profile] bunny_hugger's father used to route them, and she still defends the honor of the trade --- and the pinball machines. They were in rough shape. They always are. The games are from the 70s and have not gotten the sort of thoroughgoing complete cleaning and repair job they really need. [ profile] bunny_hugger's favorite of the ancient machines, Travel Time, wasn't working, and it wouldn't be working when we made our October visit either.

Still, pleasant night, not too huge a crowd. We did some riding. We got our second ValRavn ride of the season, our first night ride on the drop coaster. It's a fine ride, even if it feels short. The spot in the middle of the ride in which it comes to a near-complete stop so we can appreciate a second drop also chops up its momentum. The ride feels like a short one. Also we have no idea how to get a ride in the front row of seats. It's understandable that's the most popular seat, since it gives the best few straight down at the drop moments. But somehow we get assigned to the second or third row and we don't know how to join the extra-wait queue for the front.

And we rode some old friends. Raptor, for example, which I think may have been down or too busy or something when we visited in June. It's hard to believe we didn't get a ride on Blue Streak, given the circumstances, although if we did I didn't snap a photograph from the ride or its environs. But I might have been thinking I didn't need to photograph every single thing we did; it's just an easy way to take notes.

We had set out with the promise to ourselves that we didn't need to stay until midnight and the park's closing. We came close anyway, though. We decided we had spent enough time and we were ready to get home before it was too absurdly late at about 11:30. But we did feel like the night had reached a sensible end and that we didn't want to spoil our fun by demanding we have more of it.

So we took our ride on the Midway Carousel and made our way home, with the plan to return for a proper Halloweekends visit.

Trivia: The porphyry column, known as the Pietra del Bando, in the Piazza San Marco, was the traditional spot for the promulgation of Venetian laws. In 1902 it also protected the corner of the Basilica from a collapsing campanile. Source: A History of Venice, John Julius Norwich.

Currently Reading: After Apollo? Richard Nixon and the American Space Program, John M Logsdon. Goodness but it's comforting to read about how the Nixon administration started out a disorganized and inept bunch of Washington-hating outsiders. That worked out well for so many people.

We got off our last Mean Streak ride. It was a ride in the front seat; we waited the several extra ride cycles for that chance. After all it isn't like we could do that again. And there weren't any fresh souvenirs for us waiting. There was a mob, though.

Someone or other was dressed as a zombie or other kind of undead creature standing on the podium giving Mean Streak's eulogy. The whole plaza in front of the Mean Streak entrance was packed with people. And the ride was still going on, rolling its busy way over the entrance and drowning out whatever was being said. We shuffled our way around and we could get closer to the platform and hear a couple things here and there. But not much. I could hear a little more since, being taller, I was a little above more people in the crowd. It still wasn't easy. We could make out the park officials dressed this way talking about Mean Streak's legendarily rough treatment of riders. It was rougher in legend than in reality. [ profile] bunny_hugger speculated that Cedar Point fans have no idea what a truly rough roller coaster is like. It is like Lake Compounce's Wildcat.

The idea of a eulogy for the ride was a good one. But that everyone who'd been in line at the closing hour was allowed to get their ride in --- normal Cedar Point practice for rides and ordinary closing hours --- meant the ride was still going even a half-hour into the ``funeral''. It's hard to talk about the last rides of the roller coaster when you're drowned out by two trains running every four minutes each.

Finally, though, came the end of the ceremony and a funeral procession. Workers went up to the entrance's Mean Streak sign, but before they could do anything the Cedar Point officials and performers started walking the long, long way to the front of the park. We took some last photographs of the area as it was, and of the trains as they went past. And we joined the gigantic amoebic mob of people trudging their way past Gemini and Magnum and up to the front of the park.

Because it's at the front of the park they have the Rides Graveyard. They've got a couple of roller coaster markers too, something that would've been unthinkable before 2012 when the first of their roller coasters in ages went out of commission. They've got a gravestone for Mantis, even though that ride is arguably still in existence. The same track is running as Rougarou; the train has changed from a stand-up to a seated coaster. There's no end of good questions of identity that roller coasters give us examples for.

At Mean Streak's open grave the park people gathered around and said ... something. I assume. I couldn't hear it either. They took turns tossing some relics of the ride into the grave, though, so the intent was all pretty clear.

Some commotion. Some racket. People clearing out of the way behind us. I looked back and saw what was going on and cried out something like ``Oh! Oh my'' and grabbed my camera for pictures. The workers had got the Mean Streak sign off of the queue and were walking it at a fast clip to the front of the park. It would be put at the open grave, over top of the thing. Some more words that I couldn't hear and then people started dispersing. We got our first chance to actually see the grave site, although whatever was put inside would remain a mystery. It was about 8:30, and the ride was now done.

Cedar Point hasn't announced what they're doing with the ride yet, somehow. But on our subsequent Halloweekends visit we did see they had one of the Mean Streak trains posed in the open grave, as though crawling out. You know, in case anyone had any doubts it was getting converted into some wood-structure steel-tracked roller coaster that I bet is going to be named Vicious Streak. We'll see.

Trivia: Gutenberg was his mother's maiden name. His full birth name was Johannes Gutenberg Gensfleisch. Source: A World Lit Only By Fire: The Medieval Mind and the Renaissance, William Machester.

Currently Reading: The Diploids, Katherine MacLean. ``The Snowball Effect'' seems shorter here than I remember. Almost nothing from the sewing club circle meeting.

PS: The End 2016 Mathematics A To Z: Tree, which starts and ends with doodle-ready mathematics.

We followed my possible hallucination of a train running on Mean Streak before the appointed 6:00 hour. And for a wonder I wasn't wrong; the ride was going, early. Maybe we misunderstood when they were going to start. Maybe they figured they needed to get people their last rides in.

They had a little stage set up outside the ride entrance. It had a podium and the logo for the U R Daid undertakers, a name common to Halloweekends of the past. And there were memorial wreaths and flowers with cards, some of them quite clever. The grounds crew saying how they were going to miss not having to tend the ride's infield. The merchandise crew saying how they were going to miss how well its licensed stuff was selling. The Beast, at sister park Kings Island, sending regrets at another wooden roller coaster's demise. (The last particularly tickled us.) Despite this being the ride's last day, its last 90 minutes, the ride's queue sign said there was a 15-minute wait. Mean Streak never did get its respect.

15 minutes was probably a fair estimate. It was a fair crowd for Mean Streak. People were pointing out stuff like concrete piles with mysterious dots of red paint on them. Or talking about rumors of what would happen to the ride. It's getting some kind of conversion by Rocky Mountain Construction. There's just no telling exactly what. Their Mean Streak work isn't even listed on their Wikipedia page. It's a strange radio silence Cedar Point has settled on here.

Anyway, it was wonderful being around a bunch of people eager to ride Mean Streak and talking about their love of the ride. The Group Consensus on Mean Streak was always that it was a rough, hard, unpopular ride. There'd be less of that this day. We got there to see one of the ride's greatest boosters: Mean Streak Henry. According to the sign at the station he'd ridden the roller coaster something like 16,000 times since it opened. He was there getting in last rides, hopping in to the other seat whenever a single rider needed one. People were waving him over, begging him to be their ride partner. He took one with a kid who was two or three rows behind us.

There were people waiting for a front-seat ride. Or a last-seat ride. We chose to not be so greedy, special as these rides can be. We were looking at the time, and figured that if we didn't wait for a special ride we might get back in the queue and get another ride in. What you would do in this situation probably tells you something important about your values.

It's hard to do something for what you know is, or will likely be, the last time. You spend so much time taking it all in you forget to have the experience. I tried to pay attention on the long lift hill to the magnificence of the structure --- there's a turn that the lift hill goes through, underneath the path of the track --- and on the Cedar Point lighthouse you could glimpse out the left side. And the view, to the right, of the whole park laid before you. It wasn't yet twilight, but it was getting there, and the park was taking on that curious wonderful glow.

Cedar Point had promised souvenirs to people who rode Mean Streak its last day. We didn't know what to expect. Or where it might be; there were people hanging around the exit path that didn't seem to have anything to do there. They weren't the ones giving stuff away. What they had instead was a table set up just outside the ride, at its photo booth. I don't believe I ever saw Mean Streak's photo booth working. They were giving away pins for The Last Ride, showing off the ride's logo and the date and all that. We put them on, technically speaking doing some damage to our Mean Streak t-shirts. They also gave everyone a Mean Streak keychain. I'd bought one when we got our Mean Streak t-shirts the month before.

It was before 7:00, so we figured to go back and try getting a second ride in. And now there was a line for Mean Streak. A huge one, one that spilled out past the queue entry and down beyond the railroad track one has to cross (twice!) to get to the ride. The queue's length was inflated by the fact the ride's proper queues never had their switchbacks opened. But still, it might be an hour plus to ride. It would certainly be after 7:00. We would take that. If they weren't turning people away then we'd take our chances. Even if they did shut the ride before the line was through, we didn't want to miss the ceremony after the ride's closing.

And so we got in our last Mean Streak ride, after the longest wait we'd had for it in ages. Mean Streak has great ride capacity, but it was running only two of the tree trains. And it had abnormally high demand. Abnormally happy demand, too. People were talking about how they liked it. People were wearing their own homemade fan t-shirts, some of them good enough we thought they might be legitimate merchandise. It had the air of a party, a last getting-together of people who have this wonderful thing to share.

After our last ride, another desperate attempt to capture everything about the experience weighed own by wondering what would remain afterwards, we shuffled off. I wondered if we'd get a second round of the buttons and keychains; there didn't seem any reason to take a second. They were out of buttons by the time we got to the photo booth, though. They still had keychains. I considered taking one for MWS, who wasn't able to get to Cedar Point before Mean Streak closed (or at all this season, it turned out), but didn't quite have the nerve to take another.

And besides there was an enormous crowd to step into.

Trivia: In 1697 Captain William Kidd raised several small ships in the Arabian Sea. In 1698 he seized the Quedah Merchant, with a cargo valued at £30,000. Source: The Honourable Company: A History of the English East India Company, John Keay.

Currently Reading: Furthest, Suzette Haden Elgin.

PS: The End 2016 Mathematics A To Z: Smooth, the functions with a great name to them.

When Cedar Point announced they'd be closing Mean Streak they said it wouldn't be closing at the end of the season. There would be a closing and retirement ceremony in September. We got to drop in on Cedar Point the day of the announcement. But it was nearly certain we'd go back to the park for the last day of the ride. So we did. We made a day trip of it. The closing day would be a Friday in September, when the park normally is open only from 5 pm to midnight. We could make that, especially if we left the park before closing.

The park properly opened at 6 pm, but season passholders could get in at 5, and who wouldn't get there at 5 for a last ride on a roller coaster, even if it was a much-maligned roller coaster? ... That would be people who read the announcements and knew that Mean Streak would run only from 6 pm to 7 pm. Well, any chance to get to the park. We parked up front, none too far from the front gate, and set off towards Mean Streak at the far back of the park. During walking we realized we'd probably have been better off going to the hotel or water park parking lots and entering by the hotel gate. Just because we go to a lot of amusement parks doesn't mean we don't make little mistakes.

But walking from the front entrance did let us see the gravestone readied for Mean Streak. Cedar Point's had a tradition of putting up markers and memorials for its ``deceased'' rides, as part of the Halloweekends theming. They had some space set aside for Mean Streak, and a quite suggestive one at that. Everyone figures Mean Streak's superstructure is being refitted into a new roller coaster, although it hasn't yet been announced what. Incredibly, even still. (It's going to be something named Vicious Streak, I figure, but it ought to be named Winning Streak instead.)

And we discovered something new along the way. Something new just since our visit the previous month. Outside the Casino arcade they had a Laffin Sal. Just like at Kennywood. It's a life-sized mannequin-style figure of a woman that just ... shakes, and laughs. The amount of shaking and the intensity of the laughing keep changing, but it keeps going on. Cedar Point used to have a Laffin Sal, back when they had dark rides and funhouses and the like. They don't anymore, though, and the question is: is this their old Laffin Sal? Or did they buy one from another park? Or is somebody making new old-style Laffin Sals? There's no indication on the actual item. Could be any of these possibilities. There's no need for the Laffin Sal, mind you, but it fits Cedar Point's current effort to fill the park with more little amusements. Things that aren't big thrill rides but that are fun to run across. And an endlessly laughing human-shaped figure in a glass box is one of those things now.

Since Mean Streak wasn't to start running until 6:00 we went to Maverick, which is nearby it and which we hadn't gotten to this season. It's a ride that always gets a huge queue. Early-admission Friday during the Halloweekends season would probably be our best chance to get on it and so it was. Beautiful, clear, warm day, not too long a line, and I could swear I saw Mean Streak running before its appointed hour. But I have a mental block about that; I always think I see Mean Streak running on Halloweekend Fridays, even though it was never open Fridays. Only select rides were open for those and Mean Streak never made the cut. I suppose I won't have this precise same problem next year.

Trivia: The Space Shuttle Main Engines for the first launch of Columbia were serial numbers 2007 (for engine 1), 2006 (for engine 2), and 2005 (for engine 3). Engine 1 fired for 519.42 seconds; engine 2 for 519.56; engine 3 for 519.68 seconds. Source: Space Shuttle: The History of the National Space Transportation System: The First 100 Missions, Dennis R Jenkins.

Currently Reading: Groovy Science, Editor David Kaiser, W Patrick McCray.

PS: Reading the Comics, December 10, 2016: E = mc^2 Edition, for the comics-reader among you.

[ profile] bunny_hugger got the shocking news by Facebook, before she got out of bed and while I was showering. It was about Cedar Point. Their larger wooden roller coaster, the Mean Streak, had been subject of rumors for years that it was to be torn down. [ profile] bunny_hugger had a feeling this might be its last season. And that early August day Cedar Point made the announcement official. Mean Streak was to close in about six weeks, and would be replaced by --- well, they didn't say. They still haven't. We have some good guesses, must be said. She told me of this as I showered, and when I saw MWS and K getting packed up and ready to drive home I told them. She'd gotten the news from them, which is just how news gets passed around anymore.

[ profile] bunny_hugger and I had planned to stop in at Cedar Point on the way back. It's a pretty good halfway point between Pittsburgh and Lansing. MWS and K weren't going to be able to; I forget what drew them home sooner than we could. We'd just figured we would poke around, see what maybe might be easy to get to. Now we'd have a specific objective. We hugged MWS and K and spoke of how we'd meet up with them later. MWS at pinball events; K, who knows?

We don't make trips to Cedar Point in August, ordinarily, because the park is packed that time of year. I think the only August visits we've made to it have been on the way to or from Pennsylvania parks. It was a Tuesday and one of a stretch of pretty nice days but the park was still fairly busy. We stopped in for a bit of pinball, first, in the Casino Arcade since why skip that if we don't have to? I think that both Hercules machines, the oversized-yet-disappointing pinballs, were working, a bit of a novelty.

While walking back to Mean Streak --- it's at the far end of the point from the main parking lot --- we happened to go into a gift shop we normally ignore. It's the one opposite the Top Thrill Dragster, the 400-foot-tall roller coaster that's just a rapid climb and no-slower drop. It's fun but not a favorite of ours. So we jus didn't pay attention to the gift shop opposite it since we figured, what would be there but Top Thrill Dragster merchandise?

And the answer is: a lot of ride T-shirts. One for all of the roller coasters, in fact. Also patches, of the kind you can sew onto vests or the like. Also keychains. We would buy stuff for some of our favorite rides, including Mean Streak. We did note that sure, Cedar Point declares the end of one of our favorite rides there but at least they got us to give them a bucket of money for it. They had shirts for all the roller coasters, I believe, even the minor ones like the Woodstock Express kiddie coaster. Who could imagine? I got a Mean Streak and one for Corkscrew, which we've gotten to appreciate so much more in the last few years.

Despite the announcement Mean Streak didn't have a huge line. Possibly the news hadn't got out very far. Maybe six weeks out is too far for people to think of their last chances on a ride. The ride operator did share the news with people when we got to the station, surprising quite a few people. I noticed for the first time I remember this sign at the control booth. It was for Mean Streak Henry, one of those specific-ride enthusiasts, who'd had 15,000 rides on it between the ride's open in 1991 and the 27th of September, 2015. We did have to wonder what would happen to Henry, and to the other bits of decoration for the ride.

Mean Streak officially has (had) a ride photo, but we've never seen the photo booth open. It wasn't open that day either. We found Mean Streak merchandise in all the shops we poked into. It would all be gone by the next time we visited the park.

We'd figured to spend maybe an hour or two in the park. Amazingly, the little bit of stuff we'd done --- one or two pinball games, some gift shop browsing, and walking to the far end of Cedar Point and then back again --- too up the two hours we had to spare. So tempting as it was to get in another ride or two we didn't; we got back to the highway.

We had reasons. We wanted to get back to [ profile] bunny_hugger's parents, so we could pick our pet rabbit up. And we couldn't keep them waiting to all hours of the night, not decently. They were in good shape, and seemed fascinated by all our talk about Pinburgh and what the experience was and how much everything we did. And our pet rabbit was in good shape.

We got home, and wondered at how intense the past week had been, and how we were supposed to go on to an ordinary old average Wednesday after that.

Trivia: The first ``flow director'', the single manager overseeing an entire space shuttle between landing of one mission and launch of another, was Bob Sieck, overseeing the April 1983 launch of Challenger, the sixth space shuttle launch. Source: A History of the Kennedy Space Center, Kenneth Lipartito, Orville R Butler.

Currently Reading: Classics Illustrated: A Cultural History, William B Jones Jr.

PS: The End 2016 Mathematics A To Z: Hat, in which my attempt to write something quick and little and easy takes 1400 words somehow.

It's been another full week on my humor blog. If you didn't care for it on your Friends page or your RSS feed I understand. I'm not sure how I feel about reading it there either. Kind of weird, mostly. But here's the past week's links for you anyway:

With that entered let's go back to Cedar Point and late June, our trip from just before our anniversary.


Live entertainment! That's been returning to Cedar Point in recent years and here we caught folks, I think, setting up outside what used to be the Frontier Carousel's building. On another visit I think this equivalent group did an acoustic version of Kiss's ``I Wanna Rock And Roll All Night'', as they will.


The Maverick roller coaster replaced the White Water Landing log flume in 2005. Yet every year the logo for the old ride is still there, on the roof of the Maverick gift shop's building. It's a little more faded every year but it's there, making the Western-themed area feel a little more authentically ancient.


The Judy K locomotive puttering along in front of the Mean Streak roller coaster. The locomotive rides all have engines that were once in actual working productive service; the Judy K's, I believe, used to run for some industrial purpose near Lansing. There are trainspotters who go to Cedar Point to follow these engines and doesn't that make your life a little more wonderful yet?


Sunset as seen from near the Hotel Entrance. The Gemini roller coaster's the big structure in back. The dinosaur is there to entice people into the Dinosaurs Alive! upcharge attraction, fifty animatronic dinosaurs and related figures in an attraction that everybody kind of forgets is there. They add something to the view from Millennium Force, anyway.


Seagull really confident he'd hear it if a roller coster were anywhere near.


Another of those things you never notice and then one year you get back and they're gone: picnic pavilion near the front of Cedar Point. I have the suspicion it might have been installed or renovated in the 1960s for some reason.

Trivia: On 7 February 1891 Herman Hollerith announced he had a deal with the Austrian government: he would build a dozen tabulating machines for the census taken December 1890 but not to be processed until October. Source: Herman Hollerith: Forgotten Giant of Information Processing, Geoffrey D Austrian.

Currently Reading: How The Post Office Created America: A History, Winifred Gallagher.

It was another slow week at my mathematics blog. You saw it on your Friends page or perhaps on your RSS feed. But I'm happy with what I did write, which included:

And now back to our late June 2016 visit to Cedar Point!


What's New And Old At Cedar Point for 2016: under construction, left, is the new water tower. The old water tower, right, is something like a century old and we suppose it'll be torn down this coming winter. Over the course of the season the new tower would get more finished, including getting painted, and so it would look much less like a dystopian symbol of might glowering over the Super Himalaya.


One of those things we never pay attention to and that'll probably vanish before anyone really misses it: the entrance to Snake River Falls, the big shoot-the-chutes ride. We're not really big fans of get-yourself-soaked rides. Last year they closed the Shoot-the-Rapids log flume, itself only five years old.


Glass sculpting! After many a year the glass-blowing shop in Frontier Town was open again and they had people showing off what you could do with the molten.


Reheating glass. Good view directly into the glass oven. Properly speaking we didn't see any glass being blown, just sculpted, but we did see them reheating and tinting pieces.


The glass-working seems to be contracted out to Glass Academy, which runs some classes in the Detroit area. If we're reading it right, this is one of those things hipsters got into as part of their process of gentrifying pastimes. And good on them for doing it.


Glass-sculpture sea serpent on sale at the glassworks. It's beautiful. It's also $250. Possibly more. Yikes. [ profile] bunny_hugger was scared of my picking it up to look at the price tag. I was too.

Trivia: The United States had about 267 thousand rural telephones in 1907. There were about 1,465 thousand by 1907. Source: Telephone: The First Hundred Years, John Brooks.

Currently Reading: Nessie: Exploring The Supernatural Origins of the Loch Ness Monster, Nick Redfern.

So that was my humor blog the past week. Here's pictures from our anniversary-week trip to Cedar Point, and our first ride on Valravn.


Valravn, as it was in June 2016. They've wholly embraced the Fast Lane cheaters' entrance. The whole area used to be a cars ride, the sort where you putter around a course in a lawnmower-engine-powered car. The new roller coaster space goes over a renovated Marina Gate and opens a second channel for foot traffic along the park that, I have to admit, really opens the place up.


Sun, and mayflies, seen through the Valravn queue umbrellas. It gets really hot there in the summer midday and this does make a long line more tolerable.


You know, as opposed to those two-dimensional fireworks rinky-dink places like Six Flags Great Adventure have on offer?


Valravn train at the start of the lift hill. There's only three rows in a train, which is why the train is eight (count 'em) seats wide. The point of a dive coaster would be lost if everyone weren't facing mostly down at the end of the lift hill, so the trains have to be shallow and wide.


On the side of Valravn's lift hill is what looks to me like a small funicular cab. I speculate, wildly, that this is to help unload people from a stopped train with less fuss and fewer people streaming down a thin walk space. The vaguely rune-ish figures on the crown in front of it give a taste of the station's decoration.


Exiting Valravn. The station is the scale-covered wall on the right, with the return leg of the ruller coaster coming in. On the left is the road that winds around Cedar Point and leads to the water park and hotel. Cars are stopped at the path for the Marina Entrance, a tiny gate renovated with Valravn's construction and mostly offering access to a couple of restaurants and, of course, the marina. You can go from marina to amusement park, in case you have a boat and don't want to drive to Cedar Point.

Trivia: A ship arriving at Jamestown, Virginia, in 1622 carried grapes, silkworms, and European honeybees. The honeybees survived. Source: 1493: Uncovering The New World Columbus Created, Charles C Mann.

Currently Reading: Twenty-Five Mystery Science Theater 3000 Films That Changed My Life In No Way Whatsoever, Frank Conniff.

Thank you, [ profile] bunny_hugger.

It was a more normal week for my mathematics blog, four posts if you go from Sunday to Sunday, like I do. If you missed them here's your chance to see some pictures of Cedar Point, right after the links:

And now to some pictures from our June visit to Cedar Point, the first of the three we've made (so far) to the park. They had a new roller coaster, and renovated a park entrance, and it is after all an amusement park so there's plenty of interesting stuff to see.


What's New at Cedar Point for 2016! This is to the left of the main gate. Valravn is the new roller coaster, the blue-and-orange one with the precipitous drop on the left. It's smaller than Top Thrill Dragster, the yellow-framed top hat behind it, but the gimmick of Valravn is it holds your car still just before letting it drop.


What's Old at Cedar Point for 2016! Not much, considering the park dates back to Ulysses S Grant's first administration. The urn here, on the main midway, is one of its oldest sculptures; [ profile] bunny_hugger's found it or some other sculptures that look similar to it in catalogues from a century-plus ago. Sad to say in the renovations for Valravn its contemporary statue of Mercury went missing. Ahead of the construction of GateKeeper a griffin statue went missing. The griffin had been nowhere near GateKeeper's area, but since GateKeeper has a griffin mascot everyone figured the statue would reappear near that roller coaster, and it hasn't.


What's Short-Lived At Cedar Point for 2016! Mayflies, lots of them, all over, in this case, the Midway Carousel. It was actually June when this picture was taken but that's all right. There were the little bugs everywhere, especially if it were somewhere painted white. A ride operator on the Magnum XL-200 said they'd be there only another week or so.


What's Still There At Cedar Point for 2016! Bunny on the Kiddie Carousel, not quite giving you the ``hello ladieeeeees'' eye. In the background is a panda, which I think is a regular bear mount painted panda colors, something they used to do in the day.


What's Maybe Different At Cedar Point or isn't But Could Use New Shingles Anyway for 2016! We thought there was a change in who did the fairground portrait pictures and took photos of who was offering them at the front and at the back of the park. Also, boy, that kiosk needs a roofing job. Well, it looks less bad when you don't have a crazy high zoom lens focusing on it.

Trivia: Chester Alan Arthur's first official act as president was on 22 September 1881 when he appointed 26 September, the burial day for James Garfield, as a national day of mourning. Source: From Failing Hands: The Story of Presidential Succession, John D Feerick.

Currently Reading: Dirty Old London: The Victorian Fight Against Filth, Lee Jackson.

So besides Valravn how did Cedar Point look? Rather good, of course. The park hadn't been bad before and a couple years of tidying up the appearance of things has helped it. We noticed that what we always thought was a caricatures-and-sketches stand near the front of the park was now hand-drawn portraits only. There was another, caricatures-only, shop near the back. We're not sure if it's always been that way or if it changed this year.

Walking back from Valravn we heard the Cedar Down racing music from one of the basketball-challenge attractions. It's not music composed for the ride, the fast, racing carousel ride. It's part of a stock music album that we've found in other amusement parks and also as the intro music for Friday Night Fights on Late Show With Stephen Colbert. But [ profile] bunny_hugger protested it was one step too far to reuse the stock music for something else at Cedar Point. I joked that hey, maybe they've got new music for Cedar Downs.

They hadn't. They had changed the soundtrack for the ride, though. In days gone by the carousel --- with horses that move forward and backward in their row, something none of the other two rides of this type do anymore --- was accompanied by a horse race being called. I never heard it, but [ profile] bunny_hugger reported it was your classic old-time horse race with an announcer who had that 1930s Radio voice, in a scratchy faded incomprehensible recording. Maybe a decade back they switched to Championship Season, pure music, and she mourned the loss of race calling ever since. And this season race calling was back. A modern recording, reasonably clear in the amusement park noise, plain enough to hear. More, plain enough to identify the race, since they named the horses enough we could remember some. And at the end they called it the greatest upset in Belmont Stakes history. So now we know: the Cedar Downs carousel ride is now accompanied by the call for the 2002 Belmont Stakes. (Sarava won, beating 70-to-1 odds.)

Cedar Point had also brought back the glass-blowing show! At least we think they did. We got to it well after the show had started and did not see them actually blowing glass. They were working it, though, showing how to sculpt glass steins and color them and all that. Cedar Point used to have glassblowing shows, and has long sold glass ornaments. This was the first time in years [ profile] bunny_hugger had seen them doing a live show, though, and the first time I'd seen the area, part of the kind-of-historical Frontier Trail, putting on a show like that. It wasn't Cedar Point employees directly doing the show. It was some Detroit-area group that holds glassblowing classes. So that's the good side of hipsters, getting ``doing interesting stuff'' back into places.

We looked a long while at some of the glass figures they had after that. They had beautiful dragons for only $250. They had a magnificent sea serpent for about $500. We set them down delicately and walked away. Slowly.

So it was in all a grand day at Cedar Point, one that we kept extending right to the close of the park and a nighttime ride on Millennium Force. We missed one of our old friends, Iron Dragon, because we didn't know how early it would shut down (the nightly Luminosity performance takes priority over it). But it looked to be in good shape, as did the park overall. It should have a good season. We should've made it more in June, but we had stuff going on. For example ...

Trivia: The Bartholdi Inn, opened in 1899 on the upper two floors of the building at 1546 Broadway, was the last major theatrical boarding house in New York City. It closed the 1st of February, 1920, and its furnishings auctioned off the 4th. Source: The Encyclopedia of Vaudeville, Anthony Slide.

Currently Reading: The Sea Fairies, L Frank Baum.

At the end of the 2014 season Cedar Point amusement park surprised everyone by demolishing the Good Time Theatre, which had once been an Imax theater, back when Imax was only good for amusement park and science center attractions showing bears and space shuttles. They went on to surprise people by taking out one of the antique-car rides, and moving the Calypso flat ride, and all that. This was to build a new roller caster, ValRavn, in the area. We had predicted correctly that the building of the new roller coaster would see the Marina Gate, one of the four (count 'em!) entrances to the park renovated and we studiously photographed it when we were there last Halloweekends.

This year ValRavn opened. Between other park trips, helping our pet rabbit recover, and the garden party we didn't have time to visit in May or early June, the best times to avoid a long line. Finally we had a free day, though, and I took off from work without their actually knowing because I telecommute and they have no idea when I'm really doing stuff anyway. Don't tell.

We'd picked a pretty good Friday for it, bright and sunny without being impossibly hot, and with the park a bit busy but not impossibly crowded. Better than we could hope for from July and August, anyway, and far better than Halloweekends would suggest. The one important exception: ValRavn. The ride was maybe six weeks old, and parkgoers were still crowding to it. We decided that if the ride had a queue of under an hour we'd consider it. The second time we checked the queue looked to be about an hour by the sign and I thought it was probably the best offer we would get all day. The day was generally nice ,and evening would probably bring people leaving work and taking in a half-day when they could.

It was in line that we noticed the ride wasn't actually going.

It happens sometimes, even with rides that've been around forever. Something gets a ride stopped, or they have to transfer a train onto or off of a track, or just something goes wrong. I don't know what happened here; ride operators don't tend to share much detail and besides we were at the end of an hour-long line of people. Though it didn't stay that long. People possibly wiser than us gave up and left the line, and we drew closer to the station without actually getting there. If the ride were to ever open, we might be able to enjoy it.

And it did, eventually. The queue was down to maybe a half-hour by the time they transferred a new train onto it and the ride started going again, to applause. We did have the time to appreciate the beauty of the station, which is done in a Faux Scandinavian Lodge style, all mock stone and wood and covered with runes. And to appreciate that they had some smart phone app to join rival teams and somehow do something with something in the park to somehow win a something at some time.

Ah, but how's the ride?

Trivia: In 1938 Romania exported about 74 percent of its petroleum products by the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. About 21 percent went by the Danube. Five percent went by railroad. Source: A Low Dishonest Decade: The Great Powers, Eastern Europe, and the Economic Origins of World War II, 1930 - 1941, Paul N Hehn.

Currently Reading: The World Within War: America's Combat Experience in World War II, Gerald F Linderman.

It's been another busy week on my mathematics blog. These A-To-Z projects really boost your post count. Among the stuff that's run there since last Sunday:

And now we say farewell to Cedar Point's Halloweekends with pictures from the last bits of Sunday:


From Cedar Point's Town Hall Museum, here's some of the carousel animals which used to be on the Frontier Carousel. The Frontier Carousel was sent to Dorney Park back in the 90s, when their antique carousel burned down, but Cedar Point kept some of the most prized animals on it. Can you spot the cursed horse which can't be photographed clearly?


One of the two remaining antique-car rides, as photographed from the pedestrian bridge leading to it. We almost never ride this one but after the shocking loss of one of the rides to ValRavn construction we didn't want to miss it.


Pretty sure that the Millennium Force roller coaster isn't on fire but should we maybe send someone to check?


Return station of Millennium Force in the evening glow. The launch station is a bit farther on to the right. And off-screen to the right would be animatronic dinosaurs.


Panorama of Cedar Point as seen from the Marina-side restaurant we went to after the park closed. Blue Streak's the blue-white arch over the building in front. Top Thrill Dragster is the pointy spike on the far left. The Ferris Wheel is the loop on the right behind Blue Streak.

Trivia: The commissariat which the Soviet Union set up for Church affairs during the Second World War was popularly nicknamed ``Narkombog'', the People's Commissar for God. Source: Why The Allies Won, Richard Overy. (Which is funny, although what else are you going to name it?)

Currently Reading: The Big Oyster: History of the Half Shell, Mark Kurlansky.