austin_dern: Inspired by Krazy Kat, of kourse. (Default)

July 2017

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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.)

The first new thing I noticed at the Merry-Go-Round Museum was Mighty Mouse. In one of the windows up front they had a carousel mount, kiddie-sized, that looked like the inexplicably lovable superhero. The museum had heaps of new stuff for 2016. The place looked fuller than it had previously. This may be transient. I may have this a bit wrong, but [ profile] bunny_hugger will be able to fix any glitches in my recollection. But a lot of the Merry-Go-Round Museum's pieces are on loan from collectors or the estates of collectors. At least one of the big loaners has been talking about wanting pieces back home, at least for a while. If I remember rightly the heirs to one of their donors wanted some pieces back to appreciate themselves. It's hard to fault them for that, but it's also hard not to hope that they'll decide after a while that a horse or band organ or other feature like that is better put in a museum where many can see the art and craftsmanship involved.

And they did, at least for now, have a lot of new stuff on display, or new arrangements of what they did have. Most prominent is they had several pieces of an M C Ilions-carved scenic wall. They had only two panels of it up in the main room, with another half-dozen or so panels in storage because the museum didn't have room to show them all. The museum is a former Post Office, a rare circular-plan one, and it's a place big enough to, well, fit a carousel in it and probably a second if they didn't mind putting them off-center. So you get some idea of how big this must be that only a quarter of it can fit on display.

There were smaller things too. Mighty Mouse. A circa 1925 Allan Herschell white elephant, that stands rather than going up and down and that kids could ride in. Reindeer and broad scenery panels and banners pointing out how many things were from the Charlotte Dinger collection. Dinger's one of the people who in the 70s and 80s brought carousels to the attention of the art world. This had the dual effect of making them appreciated, while also making them valuable enough that dying parks might sell off their carousels, breaking them up and losing them to private collectors. Nothing's ever simple.

Delightful as all that is we got faintly uneasy feelings from the museum. Murmurings about losing chunks of the collection are never an easy thing for a museum. There were also very few visitors; for long stretches of our visit we were the only patrons. The museum's often quiet while we're there, and we don't have experience with being there on a Sunday, and a rainy, cool Sunday at that. But it's uneasy to be alone quite so long like that. The gift shop seemed a little barren too, underpopulated in that way one gets when the underlying property is having a lean year. I picked up a couple of the carousel magazines I always get there. I get a thrill seeing [ profile] rapidtrabbit's column in actual print.

Worse, though. Absolutely catastrophic: the museum didn't have a 2017 Carousels calendar. [ profile] bunny_hugger always gets one for her office. We used to get it at the carousel shop in Seaside Heights, until that closed; then she shifted to getting it at the Merry-Go-Round Museum. The clerk/docent/nearly-only-person-we-saw-at-the-museum told us the sad story. The carousel calendar was always a small-print-run thing that barely sold enough to cover its costs. After a few years of not covering costs they gave up, at least for this year. There's rumblings about maybe finding something to do for 2018 but no promises.

I'm stunned that there aren't any mass-marketed carousel calendars because ... well, sheesh, doesn't it seem like they should be inevitable? Carousel animals are incredibly photogenic things, whether they're photographed against a black backdrop (as many of the calendar pictures were) or in their normal installed setting. They're genuine Americana, many of them a century or so old. The new ones are carved to have some specific meaning to the commissioner, usually a zoo or public park, that bought them. How are calendar shops not lousy with carousel art?

I can understand some of the production problems. Every carousel animal is owned, after all, and many are owned by collectors or estates of collectors who might get tetchy about reproduction rights. Many of the other owners are amusement park chains, again, companies I can imagine being hard to deal with. It still seems like a Carousels Of America line of calendars ought to be an easy thing to sell. Something's awry here.

[ profile] bunny_hugger would handle 2017 by making her own calendar, using carousel pictures she had taken in 2016. It was a challenge; she hadn't thought to photograph old familiar rides like those at Michigan's Adventure or at Cedar Point before Halloweekends (for which the rides are dressed up some). But she made it herself and that'll cover 2017 at least. Hopefully 2018 will be better, but haven't we all been saying that about the year?

Trivia: On 24 January 1776 Colonel Henry Knox arrived in Boston from Ticonderoga with 43 cannon and sixteen mortars. Source: Redcoats and Rebels: The American Revolution Through British Eyes, Christopher Hibbert.

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

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.

We have some traditions for Halloweekends weekends. An important one of them is that on Saturdays we don't go to the park right away, but instead visit the Merry-Go-Round Museum in downtown Sandusky. We didn't do that this time. We were looking at the ambiguous, confused signals of the weather forecast. The trouble was Saturday was forecast to be warm and sunny, which for a Halloweekends Saturday is also an invitation for the park to be impossibly crowded. Sunday was forecast to be cool and rainy through mid-afternoon, which is an invitation for the park to be a walk-on for everything. But it's also less pleasant for the people there. We chose to take a full day in the park for Saturday, and to use the shelter of the Merry-Go-Round Museum for early Sunday afternoon.

Probably we made the right pick anyway. While it would be a busy Saturday compared to closing weekend of 2015, closing weekend 2015 was bitterly cold and overcast and we got stuck on some rides because they didn't have enough riders to send a train out. No such luck this time around. We had a bit of a wait for Gemini, which was running two trains on a single track instead of one train each on the two tracks such as makes sense for their racing coaster. Goodness knows why they do that. In the queue we saw some kids playing some app-based party game. It was something like Password. The person held her phone to her forehead, where she couldn't see. Others called out things to help her guess what the word was. Looked pretty fun, really, and a non-obnoxious use of cell phones for waiting in ride queues. Some of the clues seemed dubious or flat-out wrong, even if they got the guesser to the right answer. But what are you going to do, report them to the Commissioner of In-Ride-Queue Party-Game Apps? We filed our protest when we got back to the hotel room.

We did venture in to one of the (several) kids sections of the park, some of that to see the evening walkthrough haunted area in full daylight. Some of that to ride the kiddie Wilderness Run roller coaster. That was more for completeness sake than anything else. As with a lot of kiddie coasters, it's a knee-banger. But, you know, there were kids on it having their first thrill ride, or the thrill ride they could take, and that's a good environment. Also, it's in a really nice setting, on the shore of the interior lagoon and surrounded by trees that were at a height of autumn settling.

The Mine Ride we realized had got some renovation done on its queue. It had, as a Western-themed area might, wooden slat fencing for the queue. It still has, but now the fencing goes up much higher, to maybe eight feet off the ground. Why did they figure the approach to the ride had to be through a valley of wood? No idea. I can understand Cedar Point being wary about any fences that people could hop over, in the wake of that person who got killed when he jumped the Raptor fence, but this one seemed weird. I don't believe the Mine Ride even gets near enough the ground to be hazardous if someone does get on the grounds.

We went back to the Frontier Trail and the petting zoo. The informational panels explained how the place showed off the kinds of animals you'd see on a real 19th-century historic Ohio area farm. You know, animals like turkeys, one of whom was completely uninterested in [ profile] bunny_hugger's attempts to pet him. Or bunnies, most of whom were in a cage off to the side, and which included one extremely chill Flemish Giant that put us in mind of our lost rabbit's better days. There was also, it turned out, one small black rabbit who'd got herself over in a chicken enclosure and wasn't interested in coming out or dealing with anybody. We don't know her story. And there were more traditional farm animals like goats and ducks and ... turtles ... and ... Patagonian cavies and at some point you wonder if the ``historic educational'' side of the program has just got completely lost. No, not perfectly. Patagonian cavies are really cute when they stand up, which they do, for food.

Trivia: Oral-B's late-90s ``Squish Grip'' line of children's toothbrushes were designed by IDEO, the firm which also designed the first Apple Mouse. Source: Small Things Considered: Why There Is No Perfect Design, Henry Petroski.

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

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.

Our lost pet rabbit's next and, it transpired, last weekend with [ profile] bunny_hugger's parents would be two weeks after that, the last weekend of October. This was so we could go to Cedar Point and its Halloweekends. [ profile] bunny_hugger hasn't missed Halloweekends since possibly the autumn her starter marriage collapsed; I haven't missed it since I don't know. Possibly 2010, when I first started going to the park and visiting [ profile] bunny_hugger in October regularly. We didn't feel right counting our visit Halloweekends' opening day, the closing of Mean Streak, as that was too anomalous to feel right. We were ready, if need presented, to bail out of Cedar Point and rush home if our pet rabbit crashed. It wasn't necessary, though. In October and November he was doing very well, apparently recuperating in strength and energy and interest. We had forebodings at the time this might be the renowned ``final rally'' that people identify after the fact but, if it was, what could we do about that?

We thought we'd gotten a room in a part of the Hotel Breakers that we'd never been in before, and that until renovations a few years ago was impossible to get rooms in: the central octagonal tower. Not so. We were in a wing we rarely even think of, but its only interesting feature was that it was like four zillion steps away from the ladder or elevator or anything. Maybe we'll get the tower next year.

A couple years ago Cedar Point renovated the Hotel Breakers, demolishing an old wing that had itself been renovated just a couple years earlier. We'd wondered what they were going to replace the capacity with and it turned to be ``higher rates on the remaining rooms''. But apparently the cycle has turned again, and they're rebuilding a new wing, along with a lot of other renovations. Besides whatever unannounced thing is happening to the former Mean Streak roller coaster they're doing a massive renovation and renaming of the water park, and I think they're even getting rid of the upcharge-attraction Challenge Park. So that whole section of the Point was a lot of construction zones.

This scrambled my guesses about What Won't Be There Next Season. I'd imagined that the Oceana Entrance, the entrance so little-thought-of that [ profile] bunny_hugger can't specifically remember having ever used it even for the fun of doing something different, would be the next to get renovated. With the whole Resort Entrance surrounded by construction fences, though, it's hard not to suppose that's going to be completely different next time we see it.

We had time to take last photographs. As at the retirement for Mean Streak, and at last year's Halloweekends, they had security screening at the entrances. X-rays and people poking into your bags, a concept they didn't seem to have any clear definition about. Sometimes my camera bag counted, sometimes it didn't. And, we'd find, the screening isn't done early enough in the day. It's almost a system designed to needlessly slow down everything and to offend [ profile] bunny_hugger's sense of procedural integrity. And the company is even named Tenable Security, as if we needed to doubt it that little extra bit more.

Trivia: Gene Cernan's initial assignment as Gemini astronaut was to spacecraft propulsion and the Agena docking target. Source: Gemini: Steps To The Moon, David J Shayler.

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

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.

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.

As it's Thursday night or Friday morning it's time to go over my humor blog entries from the past week. These are they.

And now to putter around Cedar Point Halloweekends just a tiny bit more. We're almost done.


[ profile] bunny_hugger sitting upon the ValRaven throne. We'd also sat on this at Roller Coaster Appreciation Night, but that night was dark and rainy and the chair was terribly wet. We trust this throne is going to be part of the new roller coaster's theming. It's still a nice prop to have in advertising the coaster. Also: cool logo.


Wooden gryphon, and the carver we expect carved it. This is in Frontier Town, at the wood-carver's shop.


This is not an antique carousel animal. We learned that from talking with the head carver the year before. It's a modern Philippine replica. The Snoopy doll is contemporary too.


Some of the wood carvings at the shop, done for I don't know what purpose. Also mysterious: the thing in back labelled ``Baldwin Wallace University''. Is somebody swiping stuff from small Cleveland-area schools?


Oh yeah, they have a petting zoo in Cedar Point. And they had animals and everything out that day. See how happy the bunnies were at being on display in the October chill.


Oh yeah, I had that guinea pig when I was in high school.

Trivia: By the 1960s General Electric had 190 separate departments, each with its own budget, and 43 strategic business units. Source: The Company: A Short History of a Revolutionary Idea, John Micklethwait, Adrian Wooldridge.

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

PS: Reading the Comics, March 9, 2016: Mathematics Recreation Edition, because the comics let me talk about sudoku and Mixed Martial Arts triangles and stuff.

It's been my mathematics blog's busiest week since early summer, at least by the measure of how much I've been posting. How much have I been posting? The past week's work:

And now let's venture back to Cedar Point and the part of it we most expected to be obliterated over the winter. We don't know if it has been.


Hermes! There are a dwindling number of antique-looking statues in the park. [ profile] bunny_hugger's found evidence of some of them in catalogues going back to the early 20th century. This one's been on the passage to the Marina Entrance to time immemorial, which for me means back to 2009 when I first went to the park. In the background you can see the construction fence blocking off ValRavn construction and covered with posters hyping Cedar Point's roller coasters plus Pipe Scream.


Reentry hand stamp for the day. In previous years they've used ink that only appears under ultraviolet light. Possibly they ran out of the ultraviolet ink this late in the season. Possibly they know that the only people stepping outside the Marina Entrance are doing so to get a picture of the Marina Entrance from outside --- it's one of the two entrances people don't even know exist --- and will be coming right back in, so there's no point using the good ink on them.


Last chance to see? The Marina Entrance. We have no reason to specifically expect it to be refurbished into unrecognizability, except that ValRavn construction is taking place on either side of it. And as you can see the spot is a bit 1980s in its style, out of step with the Art Deco Revival main entrance.


Last chance to see? Panoramic view of the Marina Entrance. This shows off the ValRavn construction on either side and why it sure seems like it would make sense for the structures there to be replaced by something else. It also struck me that ValRavn spanning the Marina Entrance would parallel GateKeeper spanning the main entrance.


Last chance to see? Staff dorms on the Marina side of Cedar Point that look a little more run-down and a little shabbier each year. We have no specific reason to think they'll be torn down or renovated out of recognizability anytime soon. But they are quite old and, rumor has it, run-down inside, and they do take up space that could be used for attractions or a modern hotel or something.

Trivia: Mid-60s estimates suggested that five containerized cargo ships, carrying 1,200 units each, sailing at 25 knots, could carry all the trade between the United States and United Kingdom that could be containerized. 25 ships would handle all trade between Europe and North America. Source: The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the world Smaller and the World Economy Bigger, Marc Levinson. (Somebody must have written the alt-history where containerized cargo is developed in the 20s and 30s and World War II takes place otherwise on schedule, right?)

Currently Reading: The Punic Wars, Adrian Goldsworthy.

My humor blog: it is a thing. And as such it continues to exist until such time as I decide I have better things to do than try to bring something new and entertaining and touching into the world.

Back now to Cedar Point's Halloweekends, and some of our search for stuff that won't be there next year:


First chance to see? A view through the construction fence at Cedar Point of the new ValRavn roller coaster track.


From one of the kids play areas during Halloweekends. It makes sense thematically because you know how Linus van Pelt was always tearing his blanket into strips to play mummy. Also how Ancient Egypt was almost synonymous with soap bubbles.


Tilt-shifted photograph of the Cedar Downs racing carousel. There's good reasons to take a picture of this with the miniaturization filter and when I think of them I'll share.


Raptor, the roller coaster that foiled all our earlier attempts to ride this season. Look closely at the train: it's a test train. The riders are all mannequins, themselves plastic figures filled with water. Wikipedia says Raptor's been repainted. I don't know if it's in a new color.


Last chance to see? View of the picnic pavilions, tucked between the Raptor waiting queue and the Blue Streak roller coaster, background. The pavilions must date to the 60s and we don't know how often they get used for anything anymore. Renting out Cedar Point for an event seems like something that would have to have fallen by the wayside years ago, although the park was closed for something the weekend of the 12th of September (which is why they were able to have Roller Coaster Appreciation Night the day before).


First chance to see? Construction of the ValRavn roller coaster as seen from the vicinity of the Marina Entrance. This is the spot that used to be Turnpike Cars, one of those little paths you ride around in tiny replica hot rods of the 50s and 60s.

Trivia: While sailing back to North America in 1726 a half-eclipse of the Moon on the 30th of September allowed Benjamin Franklin the chance to calculate the longitude of his ship. He concluded it was about 67 degrees 30 minutes west of London, and about a hundred leagues from landfall. Land would not be sighted until the 9th of October. After five days not finding land Franklin quipped, ``sure the American continent is not all sunk under water since we left it''. Source: The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin, H W Brands.

Currently Reading: The Punic Wars, Adrian Goldsworthy.

PS: Stars On The Flag, just pointing to some cute mathematics.

With the special anniversary noted, let me get back to repeating what all was in my mathematics blog the past week. Did you see it on your Friends page? Or did you see it in your RSS reader? You could have, if you wanted. If you wanted me to guide you to it instead, here it is:

Meanwhile, back in October, it was Halloweekend Sunday:


Last Chance to See? Again, we don't have reason to think the Matterhorn is going away. But it would make sense if it were relocated over by the Dodgem and Tiki Twirl, and the spot where we figure the Super Himalaya would go.


Troika! It's a great variation on the Scrambler, with enough motion up and down to satisfy people who want to be able to peek over the roofs of food stalls and the like.


And there, emerging from the dusty wilderness, was GateKeeper. Good placing of some plants hides the rest of the Oceana Midway.


It's a couple picnic tables with crayons and pages to color in. Why must the kids wear shoes?


Last Chance to See? A remnant of the Pirate Ride that's stuck around in a building not much used otherwise. It's near the entrance to Blue Streak. We have no reason to think it's going to be renovated away. It's just that the attraction this is theming for hasn't been around for a long while.

Trivia: A 1952 report prepared for the government of of India prepared thirty calendars in use, besides the Islamic calendar of the Muslim community and the Gregorian calendar of the British. Source: Mapping Time: The Calendar and its History, EG Richards.

Currently Reading: The Fundamental Physical Constants and the Frontier of Measurement, P W Petley.

And what's been on my humor blog the past week? The weather, mostly.

To Cedar Point Halloweekend Sunday, a time when my back was not punishing me:


There's certainly nothing mysterious or ominous, as we enter the park, in seeing the train on Magnum XL 200 stopped, and a train full of blue-suited engineer-type guys walking down from it, is there? Apparently not; the ride seemed to be fine the rest of the day.


Oh yeah, these guys. Cedar Point put a bunch of dinosaur figures, some animatronic, some fixed displays, in their parks a couple years ago. The walkthrough dinosaur trail hasn't been the upcharge delight they hoped it would be. But it is neat that on Millennium Force you can look down and see dinosaurs. It's cool setting. Anyway, this is from the Hotel Entrance, with the Magnum XL 200 return leg in the background.


Pumpkins and gourds and lots of them. In the background to the left is Corkscrew, and to the right Top Thrill Dragster, busily thinking about whether it was going to run that day. I think it ran occasionally, but not much. It doesn't like breezy weather like late October brings.


Last Chance to See? We don't have particular reason to think the Super Himalaya here isn't long for the world. It's a Musik Express ride, passengers going up and down in circles on a ride that's thrilling without being scaring. But it has struck us that it would make sense if it were moved from here, near Corkscrew, over to the Oceana Midway beside Tiki Twirl and the Dogdem Cars. There it'd be part of a little pack of rides traditionally accompanied by loud pop music.


We really never noticed before but there's this tiny creek that runs alongside the Corkscrew roller coaster, on the edge of the park, and it drops underneath the sidewalk before flowing into the lagoon by Iron Dragon. Here's a spot beside the sidewalk where you can see the waters emerge. Also there's a sheet of paper that either has had all the blue leeched out of its lower side or that has had a lot of ink work its way by capillary action to the top half.

Trivia: Five Philadelphia public schools had computer-assisted instruction courses, for several hundred students, in 1966. Source: Wondrous Contrivances: Technology at the Threshold, Merritt Ierley.

Currently Reading: The Fundamental Physical Constants and the Frontier of Measurement, P W Petley. Mid-80s book about how we measure the fundamental things and the problems thereof. Some of the experiments I even kind of understand while I'm staring at the paragraphs!

PS: Reading the Comics, February 23, 2016: No Students Resist Word Problems Edition, another remarkable event in the comics pages.

I had a quiet week on my mathematics blog, as you maybe saw on your Friends page or else on your RSS feed. But if you missed it here's some recent stuff from it:

I took fewer pictures than I thought of the Saturday evening at Halloweekends. This is probably because we got off to a slow start what with my back punishing me brutally. Or because I figured I could take pictures less of everything and more of what stood out as interesting at the moment. For example:


From the Edge of Madness Freak Show musical revue. The venue and performers, during the normal part of the season, sing an 80s medley here. For Halloweekends, it's an 80s medley done up with more Halloween stuff. The decor is stuff that used to be in the Haunted Circus/Freak Show walkthrough area (one of the kids areas). That area's been re-themed as a haunted-fairy-tale walkthrough area, so we were glad to see the props have just gone to a different use.


The former entrance path to the Cedar Creek Mine Ride. It's always fun spotting stuff that used to be other things, yes. It's also fine noticing that the pak used the change in entry path to improve the theme of the ride. Like many amusement parks Cedar Point has a Mine Ride that's part of a Vaguely Old Western themed section, and an abandoned path or rocked-up cavern fits neatly.


On-ride picture from the Gemini roller coaster! We got what was our second technical walkdown from the ride. They didn't have enough people to send out the train ahead of us, so we had to walk the nearly twenty feet from the braking and holding are ato the station. The path is not generously wide, but you can see that it isn't particularly dangerous either; it's enough space for one person to walk safely.


Top Thrill Dragster and the newest-ish roller coaster(?) Pipe Scream, at night, looking like the cover of a calculus textbook that's trying to show off ellipses and parabolas in that hip, radical cool way the kids are all into these days.


A Halloweekends-themed door at the Hotel Breakers. We didn't notice any other doors with caution tape put across it, raising the idea that maybe the people staying in it got a little merry while moving in? But that's absurd. If the hotel decorated it themselves, then fine, though why not have more rooms cautioned off? And would they want to put caution tape up on a room being rented, given that some customer would surely get all fussy about warning tape across their own door? But isn't that sort of silly hassle worth it for the number of people who'll walk past and feel more positively about the hotel? These are all questions I feel I cannot answer.

Trivia: In the 1776 Continental Congress both Thomas Lynch Senior and Thomas Lynch Junior represented South Carolina. Lynch Senior had a stroke early in 1776 and did little work afterwards, though a spot was left in the Declaration of Independence for his never-affixed signature. Source: Signing Their Lives Away: The Fame and Misfortune of the Men Who Signed the Declaration of Independence, Denise Kiernan, Joseph D'Agnese.

Currently Reading: Machines and Morality: The 1850s, Robert Sobel.

Thursday night, Friday morning. It's humor blog nagging time! If you're nagged enough by that, try out this nag instead. Or this list of what's run on the blog since this time last week:

That done, let's go back to Cedar Point and the Halloweekends of 2015:


The Monster ride, at night. It got some really great lights installed in 2014 and it just looks great, especially at night. I have to imagine it looks even better in the midst of summer when it can be nice and humid.


From the new special Snoopy Can't Believe This Kind Of Cultural Appropriation Is Going On In 2015, Charlie Brown. We were honestly delighted by how uncomfortable Snoopy looks in this costume.


Schroeder meanwhile dresses for Halloweekends as Immanuel Kant.


Back at the hotel [ profile] bunny_hugger examines some of the Hotel Breakers' Halloweekends decorations, a ``broken-down'' carousel horse with skeleton. There's another similar horse that has a mechanism inside intended to make it rattle, but it legitimately wasn't working.


Close-up view of one of the Hotel Breakers' ``haunted'' carousels. I hadn't realized before the skeleton was wearing a mask but that does add that little extra touch, doesn't it?

Trivia: By the end of 1953, Bell Telephone's coaxial cable network was about 50,000 miles long, and linked 260 stations in 161 cities. About a hundred million people could theoretically be reached by a networked broadcast. Source: Telephone: The First Hundred Years, John Brooks.

Currently Reading: Spies And Shuttles: NASA's Secret Relationships with the DoD and CIA, James E David.

PS: Reading the Comics, February 11, 2016: Apples And Pointing Things Out Edition, which is just what it sounds like.

And my mathematics blog. What has been going on there? Mention of RSS feed now made. Here's what, this past week. It's been a lot of comics, after a comics-light previous week.

After driving for hours and hours and hours in the middle of October, we drove for mere hours and hours the next weekend to spend three days at Cedar Point, proper. What did we see?


We got there near sunset and isn't that a great time to catch plays of light?


Part of the Halloweekends decorations: pumpkins that sing! It's done by a light projector, which is less impressive than an animatronic pumpkin singing, unfortunately. But that does mean that if you catch it at the right time, the pumpkins will be blue-screened.


Gourds by night! Many of these were plastic, which will make it easier to reuse the decorations next year. But you see how good the whole thing looks.


Pumpkin snakes! I had pictures of these before, by day. This is what they look like when they really, er, shine.


Remember the skeleton in the pumpkin guard house? This is what it looks like by night. The skeleton looks better, although the gourd field around them looks worse than they do by day.

Trivia: In the last game of the 1928 World Series, Cardinals pitcher Willie Sherdel apparently struck Babe Ruth out with a quick pitch, a ball tossed when he was in the batters box but not obviously ready. As the baseball commissioner had disallowed quick pitches before the Series, Ruth was given another swing, on which he hit a home run. The Yankees would win the game and series. Source: A Game Of Inches: The Story Behind The Innovations That Shaped Baseball, Peter Morris.

Currently Reading: Conquerors: How Portugal Forged The First Global Empire, Roger Crowley.