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austin_dern

September 2017

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It's the last full week of letters on my mathematics blog and its Summer 2017 A To Z project. Did you miss them? Did you miss the chance to put them on your RSS reader? Then here, please, read these now:

And in story strip news? Want to know What's Going On In Gil Thorp? Sure you do. There, that's what.

This pictures-every-day policy is kind of working out. I'm already up to the Saturday of Holloweekends last year! Let's revisit Cedar Point.

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Cedar Point's Resorts Gate, which I keep calling the Hotel Gate. It's been obliterated since this photo was taken, replaced with a new and less dated entrance. We had a sense that it might get radically changed last year, which is why we got pictures of what it looked like and mysterious things like how it sure looks like you can just go around it? Not sure what that was all about.


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The other side of the Resorts Gate, featuring the sign for Splash Zone, the now-replaced designation for the water park. It's become Cedar Point Cedar Shores.


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Glimpse of the Magnum XL200 roller coaster (the red track, up front) and the Gemini racing coaster (the wooden-support circular track in the background), as viewed from the start of the underpass. The road leading to the Hotel Breakers ran over the pedestrian tunnel; the Resorts Gate itself was on the hotel side of the underpass, so you enter --- as at Kennywood, Festyland, DelGrosso's, and Holiday World --- under a highway.


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Looking into the light. The Gemini roller coaster queue, with a modest number of people in for early in the Saturday day.


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So a thing they'll do with Gemini. It's a racing coaster, designed to send out a red train (left) and a blue train (right) at the same time. The train carrying the heavier load of passengers will, normally, get back to the station first (by a few seconds). But on a light day, they'll only run one side of the racing coaster. But they'll run two trains on that side, loading one while the other is going around the track. Because this way they get the same capacity to give people rides, while spoiling the whole point of a racing coaster. (And, admittedly, doing so with half the ride staff, which is surely why they do it.)


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Secrets of the Gemini roller coaster: weights! Without passengers the roller coaster doesn't have enough momentum to surely get through the whole course, so, weights have to be put on for testing. I notice that the ride crews from 1998 and 2016 seems to have signed the interior of the locker, but can't make out other groups.


Trivia: Pope Julius II established a ``college'' of 101 secretaries, each of whom was to pay him 7,400 florins for the honor. Source: A World Lit Only By Fire: The Medieval Mind and the Renaissance, William Manchester.

Currently Reading: Binary Fusion and the Millennium Bug, Beth Bridgman.

So what we absolutely expected to see at Story Book Land were little houses for the Three Bears, with or without Goldilocks. Beehive mailboxes outside that. Pack of squealing kids running up to them before we could get in. Good, spirited stuff. And they had animatronics. The bears would look around, forever discovering their porridge bowls empty and their chairs tampered with. These were in good shape, too. The bears might have looked a little like they were off from the Chuck E Cheese line, but they looked like they were fresh off that. I don't know how recently Story Book Land's had renovations, or whether they just keep stuff in rather good shape all the time. They were looking in great shape, though.

They also had a building that was nothing but model trains. It put me in mind of Roadside America, which as a kid I thought was the most fantastic place to be ever, and which I'm still surprised I haven't taken [profile] bunny_hugger to. Maybe when we get to Hershey Park and Dutch Wonderland next, since as Stuff In Eastern-ish Pennsylvania they're surely all close together, right? Anyway, this was several tables, at different heights, filling up what used to be a post office it looks like. And there were so many buttons to press, to make some part of a loop or a shuttle track start running. If I were ever taken here as a seven-year-old I would never have left.

Not a surprise: they have a Santa's Home, with elf statues out front and a house all decorated for Christmas. This was maybe the most Holiday World moment of the park. More of a surprise: they didn't have a Santa there. They only have Santa when the park is open for the Christmas season (something they've been doing since the late 70s) and for one Christmas-in-July event. I understand not having him around all the time, but one busy month and then one extra day seems like under-using the character. They do have some other buildings, not adjacent to Santa's Home. One is a reindeer stall with again button-activated reindeer animatronics. Another is the Workshop, featuring elves assembling toys and a reindeer animatronic that's trying to work the old-fashioned adding machine or write a letter with a pen. I guess good on Santa for not letting physical limitations keep people from jobs they like, but they don't seem like the workspace otherwise accommodates that, like, pens are gonna slip out of hooves.

Surprising, although in that way that afterwards yeah, this does seem like the sort of place that would happen: they had a chapel. It was, says the plaque and the book about the park's history that I bought, a private chapel built in the area and moved to the park in the Like 70s. They've had at least one wedding performed there. It was someone who'd had a career with the park. Whether they'd be open to letting anyone rent the park for a wedding ceremony is, to me, a mystery.

Of neutral surprise content: they've got a garage with a bunch of vintage cars and even old fire trucks, used for parades and other publicity events. Yes, they've got statues of Dalmatian fire fighters

Near all this is a fine little building, a cylindrical tower in the middle of a pond, named Goosey Gander's Castle. And there are a couple geese penned into it. This is, according to that book I got, a return to form. For years they had kept ducks there. I have no explanation for the duck interregnum. But this did serve as a warning that the park keeps live animals. That isn't by itself a bad thing; many parks do, especially ones that aim for appeal to kids. But the park did have some larger enclosures, near the back of the park, and as we approached those we would start to worry that they might keep something way beyond the ability of a small family-owned amusement park to keep well.

Utterly baffling: one of the non-animatronic statues up front is Moby Dick. He's been there for decades and is beloved by longtime parkgoers, says the history book, none of whom seem concerned by how Moby Dick isn't a fairy tale and is really nothing fairy-tale-like, in fact. I would've thought they'd at least have used the Whale From Pinocchio. It's got the air of an idiosyncratic choice that, by long exposure, has become impossible to even question. So be it. What's the point of a park like this that hasn't got odd choices in it?

Trivia: The British government declared the Continental Navy's privateers were pirates and criminals in the Pirate Act of 1777. Source: Smuggler Nation: How Illicit Trade Made America, Peter Andreas.

Currently Reading: Binary Fusion and the Millennium Bug, Beth Bridgman. This is one of the more genially dopey science fiction novels I've read in a long, long while.

PS: Halloweekends Friday after Cedar Point closed!

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View from the Hotel Breakers of the park by night. The Power Tower is at the center; to the right, Corkscrew, and to the left, ValRavn.


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Old stained-glass window that's been set up in the Hotel Breakers, near the new entrance and somewhere that it can attract appreciation.


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Main lobby of the Hotel Breakers, decorated with skeletons and decrepit-looking fake horses, some of which shudder when approached. We don't know what the hotel looks like during the summer when it isn't trying to be spooky.


It is always dangerous to try going to two amusement parks in a day. It's too easy to shortchange one for the other. We'd made that mistake during the New England Parks Tour a couple years ago, but we didn't know what else to do. We had gotten away with it earlier on our Fifth Anniversary Trip; the hours of Bowcraft and Keansburg meshed well. Saturday, we were planning to try this stunt again. It would get even weirder than that.

Driving south, the hour or so to Atlantic City, we passed signs warning that the state parks were all closed. I had somehow picked up enough local news to know this was likely coming; [profile] bunny_hugger hadn't. It was part of the budget standoff between the Legislature and Chris Christie. If you can remember as far back as July you might remember the late night talk shows mocking Chris Christie for lounging on a beach closed to the public, part of the disgraced governor's efforts to establish himself as so toxic and petty and universally hated he could become a Republican health care plan. The shutdown would not hurt us directly, except that it did foreclose some Sunday options. New Jersey has a healthy number of lighthouses, but I'm not sure any are in Federally-owned parklands so they couldn't be added to [profile] bunny_hugger's lighthouse count this trip. But we had forgotten to bring her lighthouse passport book. So while we could claim credit for seeing lighthouses we would have had to get stamps on loose sheets of paper and bind them into her passport. Doable, but not ideal. We must, next trip, make sure not to repeat the oversight.

We came up to Story Book Land, established 1955, and were immediately delighted. It was, like Bowcraft, a park that looked like it was just dropped off in a strip mall, although this in a much less densely populated part of the state. (Indeed, across the street from the parking lot is an Office Concepts store and a tattoo parlor.) It started out as one of the kid's fairy-tale-lands, the way many parks in the 50s did. We've been to its spiritual counterparts at Idlewild in Ligonier, Pennsylvania, and to Story Land in Glen, New Hampshire. This one is unlike Idlewild and Story Land in that it's still owned by the originating family. And, apparently, doing pretty well for itself. It's a small park, and one only open to 5 pm the early-summer Saturday we were visiting, which is what made attempting two parks seem like a plausible idea. We also figured the place would be swarmed with packs of kids running out ahead of an exhausted parent shouting at Brandon to get back here. But we trusted we could handle that.

Its entrance is a white castle, flanked by nutcracker guards. Also temporary red traffic barriers so people walking in from the parking lot have something like safety from cars driving in off the street. The entrance is a narrow hallway by the cashier's booth, with a gate featuring some of the birds and mice from Cinderella on signs that warn to only push the gate open when the music plays. The music is ``Hail to the Chief''. We don't know what exactly the link is between Story Book Land and Disney, but they've got a bunch of Disney Depictions of characters in the park. There must be some arrangement there or else an extremely bad day once someone at Disney Master Command hears about the place.

Just past the entrance is a large circular flower 'fountain', and a signboard with a clown welcoming you to Story Book Land. To the left is a 30-foot state of Mother Goose, goose beside her, and a couple of fake books to sit on for photographs. Apparently the Mother Goose had (has?) a loudspeaker and a camera inside, for a staffer to look out on and talk to nearby kids. To the left of that is a three-layer birthday-cake-shaped pavilion, which would make [profile] bunny_hugger long to have her own birthday party at an amusement park. The cake had a sign commemorating the park's 62 years of operation. The cake used to be only a single layer; the kids of the park's owners had it expanded on their parents' anniversary. Across the path from Mother Goose is the main snack bar, the Gingerbread House, which has a couple of figures from the A & W restaurant chain on the roof for some reason. Also, off to the side of Mother Goose, they have a Big Boy state, checkered overalls and everything. This goes unexplained.

So after about ten minutes at the park we were having a great day.

Trivia: The British Military Government allowed the formation of political parties in its zone of Germany on the 15th of September, 1945, about a month after the United States allowed district-level parties in its zone, and three months before the French military government did. Source: Germany 195: From War To Peace, Richard Bessel.

Currently Reading: The Global Transformation of Time, 1870 - 1950, Vanessa Ogle.


PS: Halloweekends Friday some more!

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Performers for some of the haunted houses and walkthrough attractions rallied around symbols of the various venues.


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The Kiddie Carousel, sparkling as a jewel in the night.


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Glimpse of the Millenium Force roller coaster past the exit of the loading station. You can also see, through the door, the illuminated tower of the roller coaster's lift hill.


PPS: The Summer 2017 Mathematics A To Z: X, perhaps the last possible 'X' glossary term.

Making my humor blog's big weekly pieces be a bunch of how-to articles this month has strangely relieved me of my deepest problem: thinking of what to write. Have you seen what I've written recently? Try this if you haven't.

Let's get back to Cedar Point Halloweekends. That's a fun time and place to be.

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Mean Streak, several weeks after its closure, and partly torn up for its renovation. The roller coaster train underneath is from Maverick.


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Old West-themed building near Maverick, which itself is at the end of the Frontier Trail. The 'White Water Coal Co' suggests to me the White Water Landing log flume ride, itself taken out a decade-plus ago to make room for Maverick. There's several bits of park decoration that have increasingly faded White Water Landing logos or references but since they're all in the Old West part of the park that just makes them fit the theme better.


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Entrance to the Frontier Trail at night on Halloweekends. For the Halloween season the trail is dressed up to this steampunk walk-through attraction and making the trees look like that is part of the show.


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Entrance gate of the Steampunk thingy on the Frontier Trail at Halloweekends. It hasn't got started quite yet, which you can tell because there's not lasers shooting out of the eyes.


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Brass-plated (well, painted) swan on the Frontier Trail as part of the cyberpunk thing. The swan had been part of the Swan Boats ride; others of the swans were sent to Michigan's Adventure. This one went into seasonal performances instead.


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Rally of the haunted-house/haunted-walkthrough-area performers at the Luminosity stage. This was new this year, with all the performers gathering for a good send-off just before the witching hour of 8 pm.


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One of the performers on the Luminosity stage, set up outside the Iron Dragon roller coaster, in a show that we were a little too far away to hear quite clearly what was going on.


Trivia: In the early 1940s Orlando Scott offered lie-detector screenings of potential employees to high-volume clients at $15 per interviewee. He pledged to test for ``integrity, intentions, loyalty, competency, intuitiveness, stability, alertness, efficiency, ambition, vocational stability, sabotage, etc''. Source: The Lie Detectors: The History of an American Obsession, Ken Alder.

Currently Reading: The Global Transformation of Time, 1870 - 1950, Vanessa Ogle.

There's a lot of parking lots in Seaside Heights. Just, you know, a plot of land such as you might put a house on, only it's gravel or dirt and there's a guy out front offering to let you leave the car there until 2 am for five or ten or twenty bucks, depending on how busy it was. We saw one, a block north and west of the Casino Pier main building. He was standing in front of a metal music stand and playing the saxophone in-between (rare) customer visits. No bucket for tips or anything, and he wasn't playing any particular song. Just practicing his music while overseeing a Jersey Shore parking lot.

This lovely vignette is something we watched from the miniature golf course. Not the one atop the buildings on Casino Pier. We were tempted by that, but went instead to play the new miniature golf course that's adjacent to the water park, opposite the shore from the Casino. It's got a Privateer theme, much like the miniature golf course [profile] bunny_hugger and I went to with my father back in January. This one had some of the things you'd expect, props of buried treasure and all that. It also put up a bunch of signs about the pirate-or-privateers and their action around Toms River during the Revolutionary War. The pirate-or-privateer action along the Jersey Shore doesn't get a lot of attention, even in New Jersey histories because, you know, we've got the Battles of Trenton and Princeton and Monmouth Junction and the horrible winters at Morristown to talk about. But they were present and vicious in the sort of thing that horrified people about pre-20th-century warfare. So it was fun and I guess educational, if you pretend the signs knew the difference between it's and its.

We went back around the pier, and the Casino, and looking over merchandise and toys and looking for amusing sidelines. I spotted at an employee's door the printout of the benefits Casino Pier employees could claim, such as discount tickets to Great Adventure or to Legoland. We also stopped in another candy shop, not Berkeley's, where there was a bounty of old-time candies like liquorice pipes and Necco wafers and all. I forget if we picked up something to eat there.

We did return to Berkeley Candy, as promised, and brought that back to the car where we found we were no longer alone in the parking lot. There was one other car, parked next to ours, in the enormity of the municipal parking lot.

Candy safely stowed in the back we went back to the pier, admiring the beauty of the pier at night finally. And we bought a night ride on Hydrus, even more gorgeous in color-shifting light against the night sky, as well as the carousel again. Just magnificent.

After a lot of pondering we figured what we wanted for dinner: pizza on the shore. One of the pizza places had ricotta cheese pizza. I don't think I've had that before, because if I did, I would never have been able to eat anything else. I'm still licking my lips hoping to get a few molecules of that back again. Just magnificent.

We saw out the close of the pier, with all the lights turning off and the rides shutting down, and even the boardwalk games shuttered themselves. The day was over, and we said our goodbyes to Seaside Heights, to go back to our temporary Toms River home.

In the municipal parking lot there were two other cars.

Trivia: By the end of 1866 Dr S S Law's Gold Indicator Company had fifty subscribers to telegraphic reports of market prices in the New York Gold Exchange. Source: The Victorian Internet: The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Century's Oline Pioneers, Tom Standage. (Standage doesn't say when the Company started, but from context it was apparently after the Civil War concluded.)


Currently Reading: The Global Transformation of Time, 1870 - 1950, Vanessa Ogle.

PS: What's looking good at Cedar Point?

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Evening light making Raptor (the green roller coaster) and the Casino in the distance look really, really good. Taken from the ValRavn queue.


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More of Raptor and the Casino looking so very good in the evening, autumn light. GateKeeper is the tiny blue pair of arches on the far right, above the horizon line.


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Turkeys who are very busy with their projects in the petting zoo and do not have time for your issues, thank you.


PPS: The Summer 2017 Mathematics A To Z: Well-Ordering Principle, which lets me do about my favorite thing in the world: start with a joke and use it to prove all numbers have prime factorizations. So I guess I understand why everyone treated me like that in middle school.

So we went for power-riding. First, Hydrus, the new roller coaster. It's good-sized and beautiful and looks like the sort of thing to expect at Dorney Park. Dorney Park was in mind because they have a roller coster named Hydra: The Revenge, a subtitle that seems baffling until you learn that over there, Hydra replaced a roller coaster named Hercules. We were also amused that they went with a less-feminine-sounding name for the Hydra, but, well, Hydrus is a creature from medieval bestiaries, as well as a constellation (which Wikipedia says is the thing being referred to here), so I guess why not? The hydrus of bestiaries was a Nile River creature that's some kind of water snake, although it's also been given the properties of otters, birds, dragons, and mongooses so good luck pinning that down. The ride sign uses a dragon head for its icon.

The ride warned to leave in the lockers stuff like cell phones and cameras, and I fell for that the first time around. Later times I just stuffed my camera in my cargo-pants pocket the next time and that was fine. Not sure what they're afraid of except maybe people taking selfies on the ride. The ride starts with a vertical ascent, riders on their back, going up a good seventy feet before tipping over and dropping straight down. And then there's a bunch of loops and twists and rolls, a short, beautiful, and fast ride. If it's got a flaw --- and I'm not sure it is --- it's that it's difficult to get a good view of the pier from altitude when on it; you're high up and moving slowly for only brief glimpses. It's quite good, and that it was on a pier that still smelled of lots of new wood freshly nailed down only helped the feeling. We'd ride it several times, sometimes among groups of people who didn't seem to quite know how many were in the party and so were slow about getting into the eight-person car.

We also got to the Pirate's Hideaway. It was the only roller coaster we'd ridden on our original, first date that was still there. (Hot Tamales was there, but we hadn't ridden it our first date, and anyway it wasn't running on our anniversary.) It's changed since the storm, in that the roof had been taken off a formerly-indoors ride. It's not made a difference in how the ride moves, of course, although it means the lack of scenery stands out. In the mostly dark you have the extra excitement from, well, not seeing where you're going. In the light, well, I'm not going to protest a roller coaster, even that's a small one.

And then a couple other things on the pier. The Moby Dick, with the seats swinging side to side in that wonderful dizzying way. I didn't appreciate until [profile] bunny_hugger pointed out how regional these seem to be. There had been a Moby Dick at Casino Pier going back to time immemorial, or at least 2008, but I don't know if the current machine they have is the same one they had before the storm.

And the carousel. Of course we went to the carousel. We went first to the pair of mounts we'd ridden that first date, the ones with our middle names on them. I forget if we had the ride to ourselves or not. I do know we were disappointed that the band organ wasn't playing, and we worried that something had broken and not been repaired, or worse, to it. Well, the band organ mechanism was certainly there. Maybe it was just off, albeit for a Friday right before a holiday that seems strange. On the other hand the crowd seemed light to me; maybe we just weren't there on a busy enough day.

We only had two hours on the unlimited-rides wristband, although that did turn out to be enough for all the rides we really wanted to get on. The pendulum-claw and dubiously-tastefully-named ride Super Storm we've been on before and it's not a kind that [profile] bunny_hugger cares for anyway; similarly with the Disk'O. There's a giant Ferris wheel but, again, that's not the sort of thing [profile] bunny_hugger cares for. The reverse bungee? Not likely, although watch this space.

We did rush for the carousel at the time our wristbands were set to expire and were of course caught behind a bizarrely slow group trying to get on without success. This let us in on a secret of the two-hour limit on the wristbands: they actually encoded two hours fifteen minutes, enough margin to avoid anyone complaining about normal disagreements about the hour. We were able to use this to get a last-minute ride on the carousel and an overtime ride on Hydrus.

And eventually even our overtime ended, and we just had to be where we were.

Trivia: George Washington granted Margaret Arnold safe passage from West Point to Philadelphia after her husband Benedict's treason was discovered. Source: The Uncertain Revolution: Washington and the Continental Army at Morristown, John T Cunningham. (The extent of Margaret Arnold's involvement in her husband's treason is unclear.)

Currently Reading: The Global Transformation of Time, 1870 - 1950, Vanessa Ogle.

PS: Roller coasters! And stuff.


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Launch station for Top Thrill Dragster, the tallest and briefest roller coaster at the park. We don't go on it much since the ride is too brief and one-trick for the usual wait. But if the ride is almost a walk-on? Yeah, that's worth it.


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Water tower watch: the new water tower (left) had finished being painted by our Halloweekends visit, and we expected the century-old water tower (right) to be demolished by our next visit. It wasn't.


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Afternoon clouds behind the ValRavn roller coaster, and a heavily renovated part of the midway.


We explored some of the arcades along Seaside Heights and Seaside Park. Mostly we were looking for pinball, which we didn't find. I had a faint recollection of some Seaside Heights location being on the Pinside map, but was dumb and didn't write down where, so we instead had to spend time wandering around amusing places without any particular goal in mind looking at what was interesting. Don't know how we were supposed to survive that. One thing we did discover and like was this ``Grand Piano Keys'' game, which we thought was a piano-themed rhythm game. It's actually just hitting the right sequence of lit keys in order, with rhythm irrelevant, and once we realized that our scores went way up. Still, twice was about enough times to play that.

We also located the new Berkeley Sweet Shop. Or Berkeley Candy, as it's named now. We're not sure what connection it has to the older shop. It's a much smaller storefront, without the taffy-making machinery on display. And with far fewer candies overall. We figured to get a box for ourselves, and another for [profile] bunny_hugger's parents as gift for watching Columbo. But we also realized it was barely into the afternoon, and salt water taffy would melt into an unpleasant goo left in the car. We left, promising to come back, and the clerks nodded, probably suspecting we were lying. We did come back, in the cool of evening, before leaving for home and got what we hoped for. We were eating taffy from the box we got as recently as this week.

We prowled around the pier, looking for rides we had been on, or decorations we knew. The Mighty Mouse figure that had been next to our Wild Mouse coaster was there again, standing next to the Pirate's Hideaway roller coaster. The Yogi Bear statue was there too, as were some other, less-copyright-infringey statues like the giant chicken holding a can of Coke. They had a bench with a clown statue sitting on it, and I got some pictures of [profile] bunny_hugger beside that. This would help further an ongoing joke with some of our friends, who've taken our furriness to be a cover story for our being Juggalos. (See, [profile] bunny_hugger had let slip how the soft drink of Further Connection North/Motor City Furry Con was Faygo, and MWS combined that and the whole dressing-up and acting-strangely aspects of our behavior to draw the obvious conclusion.)

And we circled the Floyd Moreland Carousel, which we'd so feared we would never see again, and later supposed we would never see again in that spot. It barely seemed different; the only real change has been that the pier switched from tickets and tokens for rides over to swipe cards.

And the roller coaster. Hydrus. Brand-new. Beautiful, really, with bright green track and blue supports and a three-dimensional dragon head peering over the sign. A vertical lift hill and first drop, too, reminiscent of the Untamed roller coaster at Canobie Lake Park. It had only been open a few weeks. [profile] bunny_hugger and I would enjoy, briefly, tenure on the front page of Coaster-Count.com's ``Rare Coasters'' riders for being on it. More people have had in on the fun since then, so it's not nearly as rare anymore.

One disappointment, and something we couldn't resolve without giving up on our anniversary as the day for our trip there. They had pay-one-price rides for other days of the week. For evenings, some days of the week. Not for our day, Friday. They did have a wristband to purchase, but for only two hours' unlimited riding time. After that it'd have to be buying a new wristband, or buying a swipe card for a la carte rides. Best deal we could find was to get the wristband, and two hours' of power-riding in, and then see what made sense afterwards.

Sunday, I think, we would notice coupons at the Wawa for discounts on Casino Pier ride wristbands. Nothing that would make them, like, all-evening or even four-hour wristbands, but things that would have made them a bit cheaper. We should've thought to check. All I can say is I was out of practice for this sort of attraction.

Trivia: Technicians at the University of North Carolina's Morehead Planetarium constructed a wooden mockup of the Gemini spacecraft, mounted on a barber's chair, to train astronauts in star-sighting techniques in 1964. Source: Moon Bound: Choosing and Preparing NASA's Lunar Astronauts, Colin Burgess.

Currently Reading: Creditworthy: A History of Consumer Surveillance and Financial Identity in America, Josh Lauer.


PS: Let's step up the photo-clearing backlog with stuff from Cedar Point at the end of last year.

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Halloweekends! The parking lot of the Breakers Hotel, at Cedar Point, with the Top Thrill Dragster the only prominent roller coaster. Almost washed out in the afternoon sun on the left there is Magnum XL-200, which from the name you'd never have guessed opened in the early May of 1989.


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Cleared grounds! This used to be a miniature golf course that we always figured we'd play sometime when we had a couple free hours during a Cedar Point visit. But they were expanding the Breakers hotel --- a couple years after demolishing a wing they had renovated two years before --- and this was one of the casualties.


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Also obliterated over winter last season: this version of the hotel entrance, convenient for Breakers guests to get into the back of the park. The line is caused by the x-ray scanners operated by teams from what they named ``Tenable Security Systems'', just as if a hipster novelist was trying a little too hard to give them a name that sounded off.


PPS: The Summer 2017 Mathematics A To Z: Volume Forms, an interesting dynamical systems thing.

It's been a second week of this summer's A To Z on my mathematics blog. Bit closer to an ordinary publishing schedule, too. Here's what you were missing:

And on the comic strip side of thing, have you wondered What's Going On In Dick Tracy? June - August 2017 is at your easy read now. It's got more Chumbawamba than you would have guessed if you haven't been paying attention. Meanwhile eleven months ago in Mean Streak's last day of operations:

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I told you Mean Streak Henry was in high demand. We never rode with him, what with not being single riders.


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Mean Streak's ride photo booth, which I never saw in operation all the time I've been going to Cedar Point. It still wasn't operating. When we visited Cedar Point in June we saw the photo booth was still apparently untouched. Underneath the overhang on the left is a table set up; this is where they were giving away souvenirs to the riders for the last day: pins commemorating our presence there and Mean Streak keychains, one of which I'd already had.


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The exit queue for the Mean Streak, and some of its massive structure. You can spot the green train partway through the loop there.


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Now there's a line. Queue spilling out of the Mean Streak queue --- none of the switchbacks that hide the queue length were open --- and onto the midway.


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I told you there was a line. People waiting on line extended past the train that separates Mean Streak from the rest of that region of the park, and threatens to reach towards Maverick (the red loop in the distance, center right). We rejoined the queue, supposing that if we were on line we wouldn't get kicked off before a second ride.


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It's Alkali! Well, no. But it is ... I'm guessing some high-level park official, dressed up as U.R.Dade and ready for Mean Streak's eulogy.


Trivia: Syncom III, which transmitted television from the 1964 Tokyo Olympics to the United States, carried only solar cells, with no batteries. It could not transmit while in shadow. Source: How The World Was One: Beyond The Global Village, Arthur C Clarke.

Currently Reading: Under A Flaming Sky: The Great Hinckley Firestorm of 1894, Daniel James Brown.

Another successful week of humor blogging! I mean that it was done at all, not necessarily that what happened was what I might have wanted to have happen. Anyway, if you didn't catch it on your RSS reader device of choice, you can still see what I had, here:

Now back to our penultimate ride on Mean Streak, last year:

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Part of the return leg of Mean Streak, as seen from the queue within. Good chance most of this structure is still there, but it'll look different.


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Looking more directly up at the launch station and part of the return leg of Mean Streak.


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Underside of Mean Streak's launch platform. I can make out the mechanism for the gates guarding the entry queues, but don't blame you if you can't. They're a series of slight metal pipes about one-third from the top, all laying horizontally and joined by vertically aligned bolts. This lets them all open and close simultaneously.


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The end of the queue, which wasn't all that long. Notice the alarming sign all ready for use on top of the trash bin.


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Anticipation. Mean Streak's trains would descend into the station, a sign that the ride really was built higher than it needs to be. All that potential energy of an extra ten-foot-or-so drop was used for nothing except rattling the superstructure.


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Mean Streak Henry, who'd ridden this roller coaster more than 16,000 times according to the sign in the station and his T-shirt. He was there, far as we can tell, all day, filling in a second seat for lone passengers. He was in high demand that day.


Trivia: The word ``resolve'' meant, by 1398, ``to dissolve, to break up''. By 1571 it had extended to include ``break up, dispel, or remove'' as an a doubt or difficulty, which leads to its current meaning. Source: Semantic Antics: How And Why Words Change Meaning, Sol Steinmetz.

Currently Reading: The Money Men: Capitalism, Democracy, and the Hundred Years' War Over The American Dollar, H W Brands.

My mathematics blog, as seen on your Reading page or on your RSS feed (I know, it's not either) had a busy week as the A To Z got started! Here's what's run since last Sunday:

And let me answer this question: What's Going On In Prince Valiant? May - August 2017 It includes a deep dive into the Prince Valiant archives.

Now let's draw visually closer to the closing of Mean Streak at Cedar Point last year.

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The other running train climbing Mean Streak's lift hill on its final day of operations. This time, I believe, we noticed the people on the ride and figured it was our big chance to get one more ride in for the last few hours of the roller coaster's operation.


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Funeral stand set up outside Mean Streak's entrance. U.R.Dade was the name given to one of the undertakers for the park's Halloweekend events, and some park official dressed as the undertaker would give the ride's eulogy.


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Some of the flowers set out around U.R.Dade's podium. Among the cards: 'It's going to be a lot quieter around here - Lusty Lil's Cast'. Lusty Lil's is one of the theaters in the area by the park. 'Whelp, See Ya Later! - Maintenance'. 'Don't Get Well. - The Carpenters'.


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'So sad to see my friend go away - The Beast'. The Beast is the big wooden roller coaster and beloved star of Kings Island, now a sister park to Cedar Point. Other cards, in pictures not included: 'It's been a great streak! We'll miss pushing your buttons! - Ride Operations' 'Your apparel was nice while it lasted. RIP - Merchandise' 'Please accept our condolences. We will miss him very much - Sam Seagull' (along with some doodles of m-birds.) 'We will miss the way you made our jobs easy by not having to do any work around you or in your infield. Never change ... with love, Landscaping'.


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And around back of the podium, with a couple bouquets that I suppose must have been intended for the ceremony which we couldn't hear very well, it would turn out. One of Mean Streak's return legs is visible on the left there.


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Someone kindly took a photo of us together outside Mean Streak's entrance. We wore the shirts we had gotten in August, when we learned of the ride's closure and that Cedar Point had t-shirts for all their roller coasters. Note that the approximate wait time was still listed as five minutes, here, for the last hours of the ride's existence. It was a bit longer than five minutes then, but still, wasn't very long considering.


Trivia: On 15 April 1805 Napoleon decreed the Jacquard loom public property, and compensated Jacquard with an annual pension of 3000 francs plus royalty of 50 francs for every loom brought into use in France over the coming six years. Source: Jacquard's Web: How A Hand-Loom Led To The Birth Of The Information Age, James Essinger.

Currently Reading: Luna: Pittsburgh's Original Lost Kennywood, Brian Butko.

Want to know how my humor blog kept up its regular postings despite my cutting corners to make time for that Pinburgh event? I'm not going to own up to it but maybe you'll work things out if you study what I did post. Since last Thursday it's been:

And now in photos back to Cedar Point, in September, and the last day of Mean Streak as an operating roller coaster. Cedar Point still hasn't announced what exactly they're doing with its skeleton. We know the rough plan, but not all the details.

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Our best parking spot ever at Cedar Point! We got there early to make sure we'd get in on time for the Mean Streak Farewell ceremony, and this got us to the park more time before opening (in the evening, as it was a Friday in September) than we'd ever done before. So we got in the first row, behind only the Preferred, the bus, and the handicapped-access parking.


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Cedar Point's main entrance, decorated for Halloween (above) and with the display sign telling everyone of how Mean Streak was closing for good. They're almost ready to start letting people swarm into the park here.


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Guy in the center wearing the black t-shirt issued to commemorate the closing of Disaster Transport, back in 2012. Going to go ahead and guess he's a roller coaster enthusiast and that he got one or more rides on Mean Streak that final day it had.


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[profile] bunny_hugger stopping off in the Rides Graveyard, part of the park with monuments to park rides that have since been taken out. There would be one for Mean Streak added to the graveyard that day. Note the ``fallen'' Sky Ride car number 13 in the background. The graveyard is underneath the path of the Sky Ride.


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Oh, yeah, we did wander past the petting zoo/historical farm and they had the turkeys milling about.


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What I had assumed at the time was merely a test run of Mean Streak, but which I now see carried people! Don't know if they were park employees or VIPs who were getting special access to the not-yet-open ride, or if the ride were actually open that much sooner than its scheduled opening time for the night. I think the official announcement was that it would only run from the park opening time of 6 pm to its funeral service at 7 pm, but it was open to us before 6 pm and maybe it was open even sooner?


Trivia: The American War for Independence resulted in a desperate shortage of alkali in Great Britain, as imports from North America and Spain stopped. Source: The Lunar Men: The Friends Who Made The Future, Jenny Uglow.

Currently Reading: Sabrina The Teenage Witch: Complete Collection, Volume 1, Editor Victor Gorelick. (I haven't had much reading time this past week.)

PS: How July 2017 Treated My Mathematics Blog, my regular statistics check.

We'd take the final leg of the park, working our way back to front, to close out the night. This let us get back to some old favorite rides like Corkscrew, and also to discover the disappointing news that Iron Dragon had shut for the evening without us. We did get our ride on Cedar Downs, the quite fast carousel with the horses that move forward and back in their rows. That we rode in anticipation of future excitement, though. We had heard how Rye Playland, which runs their counterpart to this ride even faster than Cedar Point does, had finally got its front-and-back mechanism working after years of the mounts being locked in place. We weren't thinking wholly of what we'd do next, though. We were paying attention to what we were doing.

With the disappointment that we couldn't ride Iron Dragon we went off instead to Blue Streak, the remaining wooden roller coaster and Cedar Point's oldest roller coaster. Always a reliable old friend and ready for us to get a front-seat ride again. And delightful with its chaser lights going in the evening twilight, too.

Adjacent to Blue Streak is ValRavn, last year's new roller coaster and something we'd only gotten a couple rides on because the queues were too long for us. That evening, the queue was estimated at a half-hour and we figured that was the best offer we'd get for a long while. And it was a good offer. The wait wasn't even the promised half-hour. This might be because the ride operators were challenging the riders to get settled in their seats and locked in so they could dispatch in under a minute, and there's a monitor that shows who is locked in correctly and how long the train's been in the station. We failed once again to do whatever it took to get a front-seat ride, but we carried on courageously, riding that roller coaster in the evening and taking in great views of the illuminated park in the night.

We'd hoped to close out the night on the Midway Carousel, but something weird happened. They closed the queue, and before the official closing hour of 10:00. In the past Cedar Point has normally closed the queue at the park's closing time and let whoever was in line ride. It's a common amusement park operation scheme to close the queue early, in the hopes of getting the last riders done close to the park closing time, but this was never their practice. Has that changed? If so how will it mutate the closing hours of a park night? Or did maybe the ride operator just set her watch wrong and thought it was just past 10:00.

Anyway, this diverted us to the Sweet Shop instead, with the hope that we might get a couple pieces of fudge before that shop closed. And this time, hey, what do you know but we could? They have a bunch of varieties of fudge there, pricey but incredibly worth it. [profile] bunny_hugger carefully rationed it out and we were eating impossibly good pieces for a week to come. Long enough that we discovered our local hipster farmer's market, the one we use to get vegetables for our pet rabbit, has the same flavors. This is a world full of surprises.

We drove home, safe and sound, listening to podcasts and getting in around 3 am, in time to sleep to a decent hour the next day.

Trivia: Nickel was first extracted from a reddish-brown ore named kupfernickel, devil's copper (or, St Nicholas's copper); it was useful for nothing except coloring glass green. Source: Nature's Building Blocks: An A-Z Guide To The Elements, John Emsley.

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

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.

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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.

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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.


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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.


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


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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.


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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. [livejournal.com 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 [livejournal.com 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.