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Just for fun

Nov. 9th, 2015 12:10 am
austin_dern: Inspired by Krazy Kat, of kourse. (krazy koati)

I liked how this worked last time, so let me go over my mathematics-blog posts from the past week before giving you pictures. Running over there, as you might recognize from your Friends page or else your RSS feeder, have been:

And now for my last bunch of Canobie Lake Park pictures, at least for this run. I hope you don't mind moving on to more parks.


Back in the kids rides section of Canobie Lake Park. The rounding board --- on top --- clearly dates to about 1960 and has this lovely gold-leaf-like background pattern. The cars are clearly quite new, though.


Another Canobie Lake Park kids ride. The rounding boards have a similar patterning, obviously not gold leaf. And oh, those hippocampuses.


Sunset brings the warning that our time at Canobie Lake Park is to end soon. But it softens the blow by being gorgeous, like this.


The launch station of Untamed, as seen at night. This heightens the hunting-lodge theme and the beautiful wood that goes into it. The chandeliers, yes, look like antlers.


The Yankee Cannonball roller coaster encircles the parking lot, which means we could only get a good view of its whole length while riding, or while exiting Canobie Lake Park.

Trivia: The translunar injection burn for Apollo 17 was the first one done over the Atlantic Ocean, rather than the Pacific. The change improved fuel economy but was possible only because the rocket was scheduled for a nighttime launch. Source: Where No Man Has Gone Before: A History of NASA's Apollo Lunar Expeditions, William David Compton. NASA SP-4214.

Currently Reading: The Deltoid Pumpkin Seed, John McPhee.

You know what? Let's do something different today. Let me list my humor blog's recent posts first. Then you can see pictures.

You could get these on your Friends page, more or less as they happen. Or in your RSS reader, if you've got one. Or just let WordPress e-mail you stuff as it gets published.

Return with us now to Canobie Lake Park, though:


The Canobie Corkscrew, Canobie Lake Park's older steel roller coaster. It's a two-loop corkscrew which used to be at an indoor amusement park/shopping mall in Chicago. It made its way to New Hampshire by the sort of twisty path that steel roller coasters will do.


The launch station for Canobie Lake Park's Canobie Corkscrew. I like the onion-tipped center, which vaguely harmonizes with the Turkish Twist station, but I can't explain why this style and not something else. Their stations all look a touch better than they need to, though, and I'm happy for that.


The Melt sandwich shop. All grilled cheese sandwiches, all the time. And yet if you opened this at Washington Square it would just contribute to the hipster occupation of Lansing that isn't gentrifying my neighborhood fast enough already. We were sad not to have a chance to eat here since several of their grilled cheeses looked pretty good, really.


Hearses! We caught, in early August, some of the vehicles for Canobie Lake Park's Screeemfest event, for Halloween.


And now I've seen everything. And by ``everything'' I mean ``Carrot Top wearing a Tonight Show With Jay Leno T-shirt in public''. Also in the middle, aggressively punchworthy Funky Winkerbean star Les Moore.

Trivia: About a third of the houses on the London Bridge burned in the Great Fire of 1666. The remainder were saved in part by a natural firebreak where houses burned in the Great Fire of 1633 had yet to be rebuilt. Source: Old London Bridge: The Story of the Longest Inhabited Bridge in Europe, Patricia Pierce.

Currently Reading: The Deltoid Pumpkin Seed, John McPhee.

Canobie Lake Park pictures here, so as to coax you into reading about my mathematics blog.


Caterpillar! The canopy on the caterpillar ride caught in the midst of closing over and catching its riding prey. There aren't many caterpillar rides running anymore, and almost none with working canopies, so it was great that this was running and ridable.


The canopy on Canobie Lake Park's caterpillar ride almost done catching its prey.


Molly! Whom we guess is a mouse and some kind of mascot for Canobie Lake Park. We weren't there long enough to understand the full dynamics of the park's costumed-animal representatives.


Canobie Lake Park's mascot Patches, the patchwork teddy bear who's a ringer for Waldameer's Wally Bear. [ profile] bunny_hugger and I noticed this figure about the same time, and looked to each other with the same awed, silent feeling of the scales falling from our eyes.


A child clearly eager and happy to shake the hand of Canobie Lake Park's teddy bear Patches, and not at all terrified or goaded by the adults around it to doing something he doesn't really understand.

As I've mentioned, there's my mathematics blog, available in RSS feed. If you don't read that, then, here's the last week's worth of essays:

And you could put the blog up on your Friends page, which might be easier.

Trivia: A comet appearing in the morning sky in November 1680 and in the evening sky after sunet in December were taken to be two distinct comets. Isaac Newton does not seem to have considered trying to predict its motion. Source: In Search of Planet Vulcan, Richard Baum, William Sheehan.

Currently Reading: Voice and Vision: A Guide To Writing History and Other Serious Nonfiction, Stephen J Pyne.

Want to see more of Canobie Lake Park? Yes. Yes you do. Trust me.


Untamed, the big steel roller coaster at Canobie Lake Park. The ride has a hunting-lodge themed section, with fences carved as bear-themed totem poles. The ride supports are painted to look all birch-y.


Chickens! They had a couple in a little farm we found behind the Untamed roller coaster. The signs promised a petting zoo that'd be running during the Halloween-themed weekends of the park.


Someone deflated the chicken in the lower left there. We saw them flopping out rather like our pet rabbit in his litter bin, and tossing dirt around to get comfortable. We haven't noticed this with other chickens so don't know if it's a habit of the breed or just local chicken culture or if we haven't paid much attention to chickens in the past.


Non-living animals at the park! For some reason in one of the minor arcades --- it had just the one pinball machine, the double-sized Hercules, though that was turned off --- they have an array of stuffed animals. These are identified as representing the wildlife of the area. To the right of the camera frame are a couple of bears and a raccoon.


Remember Rotor rides? Canobie Lake Park does, and they've still got theirs running. We failed to get onto the observation deck and have no idea how anyone did, although a couple of people were watching over us when we had our ride.

Have my humor blog on your Friends page? No? (No, I know.) Then among the humor pieces the past week that you missed were:

An RSS reader is also an option, but I know, it's not really an option.

Trivia: Cameroon has somewhere around 270 indigenous languages. Source: Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World, Nicholas Ostler.

Currently Reading: Voice and Vision: A Guide To Writing History and Other Serious Nonfiction, Stephen J Pyne.

PS: The Set Tour, Part 6: One Big One Plus Some Rubble, including some talk about how mathematicians haven't settled on something you'd think they would have by now.

After the weekend I had another two days in the office and they went without a lot of interesting stuff going on. The woman who kept insisting we needed to have a serious talk about reorganizing my project kept putting it off to tomorrow. There were rumors that the boss was in town, but there were also rumors he was in Florida instead. I thought I did see his car in the parking lot once as I was going out to lunch, but it wasn't there when I got back, and I never did see him. Now and then we talk on the phone, when he promises we need to catch up and get on the same page of everything.

I flew back on Wednesday, from Newark airport, not Trenton. Renting a car one-way from Portland, Maine, to Trenton, New Jersey, costs slightly more than building a factory to make a car. But a one-way trip from Portland to Newark is actually not much more than renting it from and returning it to Newark. It's all about where they need cars.

For a change I didn't fly back to Detroit or Lansing. We had pinball league that night in Grand Rapids, and there's an airport in Grand Rapids. I figured if I got the flight arriving at 4 pm, then I could arrive, get luggage, get something to eat, and be ready in time for the 7 pm start of the league. Even a minor delay would give us the chance to do so. I was right about the time calculations and there weren't any delays in the flight. [ profile] bunny_hugger found me right about where she'd figured to find me.

We did have trouble finding somewhere to eat. We figured, we're near the airport, there's plenty of coffee shops around. We picked one out of the satellite navigator's choices. It brought us to a shop that yes, properly speaking, sold coffee. But the place was really about selling beans and grounds and coffee implements and all that. They had some cookies and coffees and teas for immediate drinking, and a handful of tables. But it was clear their hearts weren't in it.

Still, we made league night, and I had a pretty good night --- one first-place, one second-place, and three third-place finishes against an honestly better set of players than I am. (We had missed the previous league night, for the tour, and a substitute player --- one better than me --- filled in.) I'd drop from sixth place to eleventh in that league, which is closer to where I actually belonged. And finally we got mercifully back home together.

Trivia: Following the Second Opium War (1856 - 58) and the Sack of Peking (1860) not just the British but also France, Russia, and the United States received concessions from China. Source: The Age of Capital, 1848 - 1875, Eric Hobsbawm.

Currently Reading: The Mapmakers, John Noble Wilford.

How about some fresh Canobie Lake Park pictures so you can see what all the New England Parks Tour fuss was about?


From the kids' rides at Canobie Lake Park. It took me until this late in the day to realie that Canobie Lake Park had the same initials as our beloved bedraggled Conneaut Lake Park.


Squirrel-themed park benches among the kiddie rides at Canobie Lake Park. Other benches feature animals like beavers and the like.


The vaguely New England Historic Port Town-themed section, on the Canobie Lake shoreline.


The superflume ride that doesn't exactly fit the New England Historic Port Town-themed section it's in. Very popular ride given we were there in early August.


Pumpkin house and some residents in the heart of Canobie Lake Park. The mice look as though they should be animatronic, but, don't look too close at the momma mouse's left shoulder. Oh, I told you not to look. Tch.

And here's what my mathematics blog has been up to the past week. Read along, won't you please?

You can add these posts to your Friends page, even if that does seem to have gone awry recently but has fixed itself. You can add it to your RSS reader, which maybe went awry. Maybe not. I would have to ask someone with an RSS reader to tell me.

Trivia: As of 1241, the merchants of Bordeaux obtained the King (of England)'s permission to be sole exporters of wine until Saint Martin's Day. Other merchants in Gascony could not export cargo until after the 11th of November. (The King of England was also Duke of Guyenne.) Source: Gold and Spices: The Rise of Commerce in the Middle Ages, Jean Favier.

Currently Reading: The Mapmakers, John Noble Wilford.

Come the weekend, well, I had some more time to kick around. One of the things I did was to hit up the local used book stores. The guy who runs the Book Garden --- holding its anniversary clearance sale, incidentally --- recognized me which isn't bad considering I've been in one or two times per year since 2012. He remarked about how I had lost a lot of weight recently, which is true, although I lost it in 2009. To be fair he kind of knew me as someone who came around tolerably regularly from about 1992 through 2009 first, and it takes so much time to overcome an impression like that.

Sunday was a beastly hot day, the hottest I'd endured the summer. It also struck me I hadn't been to the Popcorn Park Zoo in years. Well, fair enough considering the limited time. And that the coati I'd originally sponsored had died several years ago, as had the binturong they transferred my sponsorship to, and the next binturong after that first one passed away. I'm not sure who if anyone I'm sponsoring now. They did have a raccoon, named Peanut, who'd been rescued after having his head stuck in a peanut butter jar for months. (There was a hole in the base so he was able to drink and eat, but not well.) He was put in the shelter that used to be the coati's. I couldn't see him, though; if he was in at all --- and that could be erratic; you know how small rescue zoos can be --- he wasn't coming out of his shelter, possibly because it was early afternoon, possibly because it was ninety degrees above boiling. In the enclosure next to Peanut (?) I did see a rabbit, sprawled out and not deigning to bother with anyone. I don't know if this is a rescued animal, though, or something that realized an unoccupied cage was a pretty good deal. It was unlabelled.

I didn't spend long at the zoo, because it was way too hot. Even the animals were mostly hiding out of the sun. After reviewing my options I went over to the Silverball Museum, which might have been a mistake. It was a Sunday and there was some major concert going on outside the Stone Pony. There was barely any parking to be found, and I was on the last lap before giving up when I located something almost as far from the Silverball Museum as it's possible to get.

The Silverball Museum had its usual array of great machines. It had a couple new rarities too, such as Big Bang Bar which we'd seen in the VFW Pinball Museum but not elsewhere. And it's always fun playing good old electromechanical games, now that I've learned how to play them. But mostly I was feeling like I could get back to the hotel-home and get back online to see [ profile] bunny_hugger again.

Trivia: After spending 1869 and 1870 as one of the first openly (and legitimately) professional baseball teams the Cincinnati Base Ball Club reverted to amateur play in 1871. Source: But Didn't We Have Fun? An Informal History of Baseball's Pioneer Era, 1843 - 1870, Peter Morris.

Currently Reading: The Mapmakers, John Noble Wilford.

Last time I stayed back in New Jersey I kind of shorted writing about what I did. Well, most of it felt unexceptional. Going into the office has some advantages, in that I can gently nag people into answering my needs by the simple virtue of being there. Sometimes. The person I really wanted to get a good talk with, about redesigning my main project, and who'd agreed we ought to have one, kept saying that today was packed and we should get together tomorrow, and ultimately the whole trip puttered out without my having a serious talk. That person is in at least intellectual agreement about the kind of redesign needed, though.

More useful was talking with the database expert they've taken on. He's been developing the worlds of MySQL. To my eye this is a lateral shift from the MS-SQL that we've had installed on a couple of systems. But it's probably a net improvement because he seems to know just how to set these systems up so they work, and he's able to nag the tech department when things aren't working until they do. And we talked about ways to do my big project rather better by the better use of MySQL. I've been trying since to get the tech guys to give my project access to his MySQL servers, although that hasn't gotten done. Maybe I need to revisit them.

I didn't feel much like doing anything tourist-y after work, so I'd just putter back to the hotel and to my room. That's a lot like being home, only without a DVR. Sticking to the television that's actually on, live, gave me some weird feelings of isolation because I just don't watch all that much of anything anymore. I found some show about mythological figures; one episode in the set treated Lord of the Rings as if it were a folk-created mythology, which I guess would have pleased Tolkien. For generic basic-cable pop-educational stuff this was a better-than-average show, and even took some efforts to explain the context Tolkien worked in and how his style synthesized several traditions. Some of it surprised me, since, you know, I haven't read Lord of the Rings, but I have been in pop culture and I've played the pinball machine quite well several times. I got the game up to the Destroy The Ring mode my first ball, last league night.

Or, you know, there's like four hundred episodes of Mythbusters I don't remember seeing that clearly, so that's good too.

Trivia: In the one-eighth scale model of the Space Shuttle used by NASA-Langley for the structural test program the miniature External Tank had its liquid oxygen tank filled with water, and its liquid hydrogen tank filled with plastic pellets. Source: Development of the Space Shuttle 1972 - 1981, T A Heppenheimer.

Currently Reading: The Mapmakers, John Noble Wilford.

PS: The Set Tour, Part 5: C^n, giving you everything I really know about complex-valued affine transformations. Good luck!

Thursday/Friday, my humor post roundup. And for you faithful readers, some Canobie Lake Pictures. There's a bunch of these. The park really is this wonderful. You've got to see it.


Just inside the front gate at Canobie Lake Park: a popcorn vendor. This is far from a unique picture but boy does it blend the line between reality and Roller Coaster Tycoon. Note a couple spilled kernels on the overhangs. And that the trash bin beside the popcorn stand is of the same design.


Canobie Lake Park's antique carousel. It's an unusual one for the variety of carvers represented on it and for being a two-level carousel. The non-jumping row is a step down from the rest; it's a neat look.


Pinball Alley! The park has nineteen, count 'em, pinball machines in the main arcade, and a few more scattered across the park. These include some modern games, like Spider-Man and (not pictured) AC/DC, as well as some of the all-time greats like Twilight Zone and Monster Bash. They've also got some real old ones, such as Space Invaders, the pinball (not working the day we were there, alas.) Also in view: Shrek, a reskinned version of Family Guy that's enormously more playable. And every game is a quarter. Even the new ones.


The international food court! This might be the most lickable set of amusement park buildings outside the original soft-serve-ice-cream styled buildings at Great Adventure's oldest sections.


Yankee Cannonball: Canobie Lake Park's classic wooden roller coaster. See how anxious and/or dreadful the passengers are.

So with that, let me invite you to read my humor blog. Run there the past week:

If you'd like these posts to appear on your Friends page, please add the Livejournal Syndication account to it. If you'd like these posts in your RSS reader, you can add the RSS feed to it. Are RSS readers a thing still? I see little ``RSS'' buttons now and then, so I guess they probably are. I don't know. I still read Usenet, for crying out loud, what do I know of the Internet?

Trivia: Groucho Marx's You Bet Your Life began 27 October 1947. Source: Quiz Craze, Thomas A DeLong.

Currently Reading: The Mapmakers, John Noble Wilford.

In the morning [ profile] bunny_hugger had to fly home. We had planned the trip this way, mostly out of wariness. With me staying on at the office for a week after, the cost of our hotel room was covered, so that if some Flightmare-like catastrophe screwed up our departure we wouldn't have to put up with an emergency hotel purchase. The most that we'd suffer is [ profile] bunny_hugger kicking around the office, bored.

But we wouldn't even suffer that. She had a flight out of the Trenton airport, on Frontier Airlines. We hadn't flown them since Flightmare but the price out of Trenton was really, really good. Less good once we got there and learned they were charging for carry-on bags. Tragically, airlines have decided their best profits can be found by making flying really, really miserable. Well, I was braced for her to suffer through another insulting round of flight security theater, and her traction device leaving screeners stunned by the idea a person with back problems might bring something that treats back problems. But that apparently wasn't so terrifying here, and I don't think they were even scared by her jeans this time around.

I waited for her plane to take off, safely, and a little more, and then went to the office. While I'd mentioned a couple times to people that I was coming back the office gossip machine apparently isn't very much. I took a lot of people by surprised and it took about an hour of repeating what I'd been up to for me to get up to my office. There, I believe, I'd found my monitor had been swiped, which is fair because I don't need one for remote logins and they have other people who need to do stuff. But it did mean my half-day in the office was pretty much one of getting to the office, rather than anything that actually needed doing.

Back at the hotel, I did laundry. The machines are free there.

Trivia: New York's first almanac was prepared in 1697 because the author had ``little else to do''. Source: The King's Best Highway: The Lost History Of The Boston Post Road, The Route That Made America, Eric Jaffe.

Currently Reading: The Mapmakers, John Noble Wilford.

PS: Phase Equilibria and the usefulness of μ, continuing my effort to reblog a thermodynamics blogger.

So, driving from Connecticut to New Jersey. The satellite navigator wanted us to go through New York City. I desperately didn't want to do that because I know how slow it can be. I also didn't want to take the other alternative, the Tappan Zee Bridge, because everybody in the New York City area knows the Tappan Zee is going to collapse catastrophically one of these days. But given the time constraints that seemed the better choice; the bridge just had to last, like, two more hours. I couldn't figure how to make my navigator take us to the Tappan Zee from where we were, though. I figured, well, if I just take I-84 West I'll go right over it, easy to do.

I was mistaken. The Tappan Zee is not I-84. It's I-87. This diversion too us achingly far north, although the time lost to that probably balanced a lot of time we'd have spent in traffic. And we got to take in some gorgeous views of the Hudson River valley. Michigan has abundant natural beauty, but --- at least in the lower peninsula --- it hasn't got mountains, not like this.

But the time spent on this, and on heavy traffic in North Jersey, ate away my crazy idea for a way to obliterate the taste of the Boulder Dash incident. It had struck me the night before: what if I surprised [ profile] bunny_hugger by driving not to our hotel but rather to a lighthouse? The Barnegat Bay Lighthouse, for example, is near enough Seaside Heights, and it's a lovely one. But I worked out the time and even assuming we had a quick lunch and hit no traffic we couldn't visit the lighthouse before its visiting hours closed. Ah, but the Sandy Hook lighthouse? Much farther north, and more historically significant. And if everything went right we might be able to get to the visitor's center, and get the lighthouse-passport stamp, with as much as fifteen minutes to spare before it closed. That was always a slender hope, but it evaporated as we waited in a jam to get on the Parkway.

I probably couldn't have pulled off the surprise anyway. [ profile] bunny_hugger may be vague on New Jersey geography but she knows the Shore edge from the Trenton area, and there'd be no hiding the surprise for its last forty minutes of driving. And to work at all we'd have to hit absolutely no Shore traffic on an August afternoon. Similar logic ate up the last chance, a visit to the Navesink lighthouses.

So, my love, I'm sorry that I couldn't surprise you with a lighthouse visit. But it would have required ditching [ profile] chefmongoose, really, and the New York metropolitan area having much less traffic than it did. And my not making the I-84 mistake.

Instead, we drove to our hotel. It's the long-term-stay hotel I used last year, and that already felt homelike. The rooms are little efficiency-apartment rooms, bed and small kitchen and everything in one comfortable room. We set stuff down, and grabbed some cookies, and moved out to drive across the state again.

Because this would be [ profile] bunny_hugger's only evening in New Jersey, incredibly, and we couldn't dare skip going to the Silverball Museum. This was the first time she's had the chance to visit since she became a serious player in the world of competitive pinball, and she could look to the machines with a new confidence, and expertise. She knew how FunHouse ought to work, compared to how it did.

We wouldn't have enough time at the Silverball Museum. My I-84 mistake must have cost us at minimum a net half-hour, possibly more. Traffic cost us more. But ``not enough time'' must be considered one of the themes of the New England Parks Tour. We had many fantastic experiences at parks that were all magnificent, apart from problems with three people at Lake Compounce. But we didn't really have enough time to do what we hoped to do, and the clock kept taunting us with how little we would get to do.

This makes the whole thing sound sad. The thing is, it wasn't, apart from that last hour at Lake Compounce. There was frustration, in wanting to be at Funtown Splashtown USA, or Santa's Village, longer than we were, or in wanting to have more time to do things and less time spent waiting for them. But, oh, how much happier the whole thing would have felt if I hadn't got in that fight, or if I'd been able to sneak us into a lighthouse. I just don't se how we could have done it, is all.

Trivia: The second Mighty Mouse cartoon was unveiled a month after The Mouse Of Tomorrow, the character's debut (as Super Mouse). Source: Of Mice And Magic, Leonard Maltin. (Wikipedia gives the debut dates as the 16th of October, 1942, and the 27th of November, which does seem close enough.)

Currently Reading: Media Hoaxes, Fred Fedler.

The next day came, as it would. We had a lunch date. [ profile] chefmongoose wasn't able to get to any amusement parks with us, but he was able to find some time to meet us for lunch. And he was able to bring his imminently-new roommate along. They met us at an eagerly, almost painfully, hipster restaurant. We sat at a table carved of an irregular lump of wood, one that curled up to a dramatic and impractical-for-table peak on one end. It's a well-regarded restaurant, at least, and the food was pretty good.

We spent lunch talking about the New England Parks Tour, and the unhappy incident that closed the amusement parks out of it. Our schedule was to drive to Trenton and set up in the hotel that I'd be staying at for work the next day. [ profile] chefmongoose and partner sympathized, as we so needed. And shared with us gossip about various furry conventions and the astounding stories of ones that collapsed, or teetered on the brink of collapse. This did much to cheer us up, at least for the length of lunch.

[ profile] chefmongoose also had --- again! --- a gift for us, a box of doughnuts from Stew Leonard's. This is a small supermarket chain I always heard ads for on the radio, but never thought much about because why would I go to Yonkers for a supermarket? He explained that, if he understood it right, Stew Leonard's is rather akin to Jungle Jim's, the bizarre and sprawling Cincinnati-area supermarket that's also stuffed with animatronics and quirky activities and general weirdness. I hadn't realized. But does show more pictures of people in cow costumes than you get in your average furry convention. We'd been missing something grand.

Trivia: When originally settled by westerners, Rye, New York, was named Hastings and was thought to be in Connecticut. In 1655 the Connecticut legislature declared the town to be two villages, Rye and Hastings. Source: The Old Post Road: The Story of the Boston Post Road, Stewart H Holbrook.

Currently Reading: Media Hoaxes, Fred Fedler.

PS: Reading the Comics, October 17, 2015: Rerun Edition, some mathematical comics talk that maybe I already did? I forget. I'm feeling ill; give me a rest.

Let's be happy again. It's Sunday/Monday, so, let me finish off Story Land pictures and give you a last look at Story Land.


Props from inside Heidi's Grandfather's cabin, one of the story-book adventure settings in the park. The presence of not just one but two copies of Heidi suggests a dangerous breach in the walls between fiction and reality in the Heidi's Grandfather cabin. Or maybe Heidi is a more modern, fourth-wall-breaking adventure than I imagine. I dunno.


Polar Coaster, and some of the eating venues, as seen from the hilltop beside Heidi's Grandfather's cabin.


Interior animatronics of the Cuckoo Clockenspiel. It's a spinning-tubs ride, with a heavy clock theme that's really rather hypnotic.


So that's what they were up to! The decals and appliques that staff was getting ready to put up, but not quite doing, at the Friends Around The Word Food Fair were put on sometime between lunch and the later part of the day.


Fairy tale characters! This is a photo through the fence as character, including Dutch Wonderland's Duke the Dinosaur, get ready for a public event of some kind. Kennywood's parent company bought Dutch Wonderland from Hershey a few years back, and Duke's been appearing at all their parks ever since, and we're still a little weirded out by that.

And in my mathematics blog the past week? Here's what you could be reading about.

Trivia: It was 1741 before King George II settled whether the border between New Hampshire and Massachusetts began three miles north of the mouth of the Merrimack River (as New Hampshire claimed), or three miles north and east of the mouth (as Massachusetts did). The King ruled, mostly, for New Hampshire. Source: How The States Got Their Shapes, Mark Stein.

Currently Reading: Media Hoaxes, Fred Fedler.

So. The last hour at the park, and where everything went terrible.

We got in the line for Boulder Dash. Clearly everybody else had the same idea to get a last ride in. The line was long, possibly longer than it was for our afternoon ride. We started so far back we weren't even on the bridge over the main valley; the ride was far, far off in the distance.

And it wasn't getting much nearer. I believe they were running only one train, instead of two, baffling under any circumstances but annoying on a busy day like this. And ... once again ... people were just cutting ahead of us. Every park has some people who'll cut lines, but Lake Compounce has easily the worst line-cutting problem we have. As one pair of folks pushed ahead, saying, ``Excuse me'', [ profile] bunny_hugger indignantly asked, ``Why should we?'' They said they had to get to the station. Well, we all do. They went on ahead. We grumbled.

I don't know why I was this bothered. I shouldn't have been. But when the next bunch of people came barreling though I decided to make a stand. This turned out to be a couple kids. They ignored me saying ``excuse me''. I touched one's shoulder to get his attention, and knelt down so I wasn't just towering over him. I told him he was line-cutting, and that was very rude and he shouldn't do it.

Then the people behind us got into the act. I don't know why. They looked vaguely like minor characters in Portlandia, the ones who react to stuff instead of move things forward. The guy scolded me for making a fuss over some kids who were just coming back from the bathroom. The woman told me I shouldn't be grabbing other people's kids. I protest the characterization of tapping the kid's shoulder as ``grabbing'', but goodness knows what it looked like from her. So I went back to the kid, knelt down, and said, ``She's right. It was rude of me to grab your shoulder to get your attention and I should not have done that. Just as you should not be cutting in line.'' And let them go because, what, did I want these kids with us? Of course not.

Now it gets bad.

A couple minutes later the kid came back, leading an angry-looking guy demanding to know who it was grabbed his kid. Before the kid could say anything, or I could say anything, the couple behind us did, pointing out how it was totally me that grabbed the kid and they told me how I shouldn't have done it. The father yelled at me for daring to touch his kid and warned that if I wanted to fight he'd meet me in the parking lot when the park closed.

The couple behind us had no problem with us fighting, and were rooting for it. [ profile] bunny_hugger demanded they say why they had any business in this, and they said it was because we were causing the trouble. Meanwhile, I looked at the guy and worked out whether I could repeat my Red Roof Inn overnight experience, looking intimidating enough to make him go away. Pretty quickly worked out that I couldn't. So I told him: his son was a line-cutter and he shouldn't be doing that. He promised to meet me in the parking lot and stab me.

So with as much wisdom as I had on hand, I turned to the side and ignored the guy. He ranted a bit more, to a blank wall, which was probably the best I could do. But I did break down a bit to remind him that his son was a line-cutter. And, really, I should have pointed out that he was showing his son that he could get what he wanted (I'm not sure what he wanted at this point) by threatening people with violence. On the other hand, he clearly wasn't getting whatever he wanted, for all his threats. The guy left, back to his spot somewhere up by the station.

And with this bit of misery done, the couple behind us resumed scolding us for all this. They challenged us to say how this was line-cutting when the kids had just left to go to the bathroom or whatever their excuse was. Park signs --- none of which were around --- do explain that it's line-cutting even if you're just going to the bathroom, and that it's Not Allowed. But there weren't signs there, and there wasn't a definition of cutting on the park map, so we didn't have at least the weight of the printed word to back us up.

(Later on, I realized that if the kids had run off to the bathroom, then we should have seen them leaving the queue, and we didn't remember seeing that. It's possible that they left before we joined the line, or that we didn't notice them leaving. But we had been in line quite some time when the whole thing started, and there weren't many people leaving the Boulder Dash queue. I make a very slow-moving detective. But in my heart, I'm confident the kids had been on some other ride with their mother, and then run through the queue to join their father who'd gotten on line first to save a space for them.)

They kept fighting with [ profile] bunny_hugger, challenging us to get park security if we were so sure we were right. We weren't going to leave the line for that, obviously, and didn't carry phones to call them; we told them they could call if they were so sure they were right. [ profile] bunny_hugger asked why they were even arguing this anymore. They said it was because she was ruining their day. I kept up my staring off into the distance, not responding to the provocation, and eventually things started dying down to a sullen silence.

Another couple, young adults, came barrelling through. We cast out ``excuse me''s to them, which didn't slow them down at all. The couple ahead of us, who'd been mostly neutral in the struggles, agreed that was obnoxious.

[ profile] bunny_hugger was worried about the father's threat to stab me. I wasn't seriously worried, until I noticed: he was still at the ride station. And was staring at me, which I only caught in glimpses because I was pointedly not looking at him. He had started pretty far ahead of us and could easily have taken a ride and gone back to his business, and he wasn't.

On the one hand, all the time-saving he had managed by getting his kids to cut the line was wasted. On the other hand, why was he waiting for me to get there?

As we got to the station and he stayed near I got more worried and decided that I would say something after all. We went to the queue for a back-seat ride, delaying us one more train, so the guy was putting his seat belt on before he could see I wasn't on the train with him. I got the ride operator's attention and told him, the guy in that seat had threatened to stab me in the parking lot. He went to get security but warned me that if the train got back and discharged before security arrived they didn't have anything they could do to restrain him. Fair enough.

He had his ride. Apparently the ride operators let him know that another passenger had complained about his threat of violence, because as we were strapping in, he ran over to me and yelled that if I had a problem with him I should take it up with him in the parking lot at 8:00. And then I saw park security coming up the exit path.

After our ride the operator said that security had to talk with me too, and I had figured that. I recounted the story as best I could. But there wasn't anything they could (or would) do besides tell us to not go near one another the rest of the day, which wasn't much. The rides were closed for the night now. I would have felt vindicated if the guy had been formally thrown out, even if it was a meager symbolic measure. The security people told me that line-cutting was against the park's rules and they take it seriously; and I do now regret saying that no, obviously, it's not.

So we walked out. Slowly, at first, so that we didn't get out of sight of security; there's parts in the exit queue and the bridge where ambush would be plausible. I did a sound job of not looking for the guy; so good a job, in fact, that [ profile] bunny_hugger had to steer me away from paths that would've brought me near. I literally did not see him. We got some food from the supermarket, got back to the hotel, ate in misery while I tried to insist that this wasn't all that we'd remember from the tour.

And that's it. A fantastic day turned to ashes in the last hour.

Don't tell me I shouldn't have started things. I don't want to hear it. [ profile] bunny_hugger went to the Usenet group rec.roller-coaster looking for sympathy --- amusement park enthusiasts tend to be supportive of park rules --- and got mostly told, ``well, what did you expect would happen?''

It could have been much less bad, if the father had taken his kid's shaming, or if the couple behind us hadn't been stirring it up, or if the couple ahead of us had made their weak protest earlier, or if security had acted. But it's ultimately my fault. If I had just rolled my eyes and grumbled about the kids we'd have ended the night and the amusement-park visiting happy.

And the terrible thing about this, besides everything else? We got to ride Boulder Dash in the back seat. It turns out the back seat is a fantastic place to ride this from. All the hills are more thrilling, all the air time better. It's a fantastic roller coaster, and we had one of the best rides we've had on anything from there.

But after this ... how can we go back there?

Trivia: From the 16th of August, 1924, the New York Herald Tribune ran Sanford Jarrell's expose of the Flying Dutchman, a Prohibition-skirting cruise ship offering gambling and liquor to wealthy clientele. The 23rd, the Herald Tribune reported the firing of Jarrell, who had hoaxed the newspaper. Source: The Paper: The Life And Death Of The New York Herald Tribune, Richard Kluger.

Currently Reading: Media Hoaxes, Fred Fedler.

PS: Reading the Comics, October 14, 2015: Shapes and Statistics Edition, with infinite monkeys (again).

We were drawn to something a bit out of character for us. Among the rides is the Saw Mill Plunge, a mid-80s-era log flume. We don't do log flumes often, but it was sunny and pretty warm. And we looked at people coming off, who didn't seem all that soaked. We could risk it. It's from the era when log flumes were first becoming must-have attractions for parks, and that generation of log flumes is becoming rarer. And it's from Arrow Dynamics, the people who did so much to put looping steel roller coasters in every amusement park in the 1980s.

The line was enormous, and we did wonder several times if it was wise to join it. But the line was also moving, quite a bit, thanks to people ahead of us giving up and drifting away. That was counteracted some by people, mostly kids, sneaking back in and ducking under the queue rails to get wherever they were going. One thing we were clear about by this point: Lake Compounce has a lot of line-cutting people in its crowd. The last half-hour or so of waiting was one of a lot of seething, as what already seemed to be a slow-moving line got slowed down by people just squeezing in ahead of us.

It's a pleasant log flume, though. And its warning sign, a cheezy cartoon promising ``You'll Absolutely, Positively Get Soaked On This Ride!'' overstates things. Like many log flumes of the era it sprays a lot of water out, but not so much back into the boat. And the boat ride takes you up and into the woods. It's surely close to Boulder Dash, although I don't think we get more than a glimpse of the roller coaster from there. Mostly it's a chance to drift on an artificial river into the slightly mysterious distant woods, far enough even the noises of the park don't carry. It makes for some lovely tranquility in the late day.

We went walking along the outside path of Boulder Dash, mostly, and found a lovely surprise. There's a classic streetcar-style trolley at the park. Lake Compounce had started as a trolley park, though trolley service from the Bristol and Plainville Tramway Company ended during the Great Depression. Their streetcar trolley, bright yellow but otherwise looking quite like the trolley that runs to the Land of Make-Believe, runs a little path along a lakefront. On the walkway beside the trolley path is a fence marked by a ``Lake Compounce Time Line''. The signs explain the state's ``a great state to learn geology''. So it's got one of those science-museum type walks, matching distance along the fence to the deepness of time, going back to the Precambrian era.

We walked the way out, the better to see and copy-edit the geological-history signs and to watch Boulder Dash at its extent. We took the trolley, ``Special Car to Lake Compounce' number 1414, back. It's got advertisements in the overhead, things that look vintage for stuf like Fels-Naptha and Sloan's Liniment that may still be in existence but that feel like they're products that disappeared generations ago. The historic plaque explains the car's a survivor of the open cars that used to run in Connecticut, though it doesn't promise that this car --- on loan from the Shoreline Trolley Museum in East Haven, a thing I didn't know existed but now would kind of like to see --- actually ran to the park in its day. That's all right; the true thing would be like this.

We got in another carousel ride, of course. And then went to bumper car ride. There was some weird delay getting started. It appeared to be something needing the intervention of maintenance. And there were weird clumps of people when the ride got going. That happened on the ride cycle ahead of us, and there was a similar problem when we got our turn. Somehow, the Lake Compounce crowd apparently doesn't quite get bumper cars. They needed a lot of guidance from the ride operator, particularly, on ``if you keep your foot on the gas and keep turning the wheel you'll eventually go backwards, and get out of the jam''. Goodness knows why people were just getting stuck instead.

But we noticed something which delighted us on the ride. There's arrows pointing the direction of travel, of course. They come in different colors and some in different shapes, wriggly arrows or ones without tails or things like that. But there is one perfectly formed Kennywood arrow. We don't know that it actually points the correct path to Kennywood. But the little touch, something sure to delight anyone who was an amusement park enthusiast, or any Pittsburgh-area local who was in Bristol for some reason, brought us joy.

Another thing we rode was the Wipeout. This is a Chance-built modern version of the Trabant, a spinning-disc ride that gets tilted upward on an axis that itself rotates. That'd be good enough by itself, although this adds a twist to the ride. When the ride is lowering back to horizontal, the end of the cycle, the rotation of the platform speeds up, which just never happens. So what's normally a sadder part of the ride, its gradual close, instead has an interesting and exciting part. Obviously any ride could have that; I just don't remember being on one that made anything of the endgame like that.

Also delightful is that we could see an older era of paint, underneath the modern paint job. It was fragmentary in only a couple spots but we could see where what's now solid blue used to be red, with silver, curly inset letters reading WIPEOUT. We love peeks into what the park used to be such as that.

With the end of the day approaching we figured the thing to do was get one more round in on the wooden roller coasters. Wildcat first. It was about as far away, but we figured it would have a shorter queue, and that we'd be able to get a ride on that and then a ride on Boulder Dash to close out the night. We were right about the queue being shorter, although it wasn't yet short. The operators were no less chatty and sociable and there were one or two more Happy Birthday rounds while we waited.

So after that we were expecting the end of a really very good day on a fantastic roller coaster.

Trivia: J C F Guntsmuth's 1796 rules for das englische Base-ball indicates that if a batter swung at and missed the third strike of an at-bat, then the batter was obliged to run for first base. The game had no catcher, giving the runner a fair chance at making it. Source: Baseball Before We Knew It: A Search For The Roots Of The Game, David Block.

Currently Reading: Media Hoaxes, Fred Fedler.

Thursday/Friday again and I'm still working on my backlog of Story Land pictures. P1330302

Aboard the Story Land swan boat, as we venture onto color-deprived Butterfly Island. (Spoiler: over the course of the voyage color is restored to Butterfly Island.) Behind the (functioning) drawbridge is the pirate-ride boat. The swan boat captain warns the pirate boat might try to interfere with the swan boat's mission, but the pirates do not. The pirate boat captain had nothing to say, good or ill, about the swan boat ride.


The horse-drawn pumpkin carriage outside Cinderella's Castle. The carriage runs on an electric motor so it sort of whirs electrically rather than making any noise. It's obscured from this angle but the horse mannequins float about eight inches off the ground. (I have a picture that better shows how the horse figures are attached, but that one doesn't show the pumpkin at all.) So this adds a touch of surely unintended comedy to the ride.


A panoramic view outside Cinderella's castle, showing the driveway roundabout, and the horse-drawn pumpkin carriage, and the hill down to the main park. To the right of the bridge is the swan boat's station.


Peg-legged crow figure at the pirate ship's loading station. It looks for all the world like it should be animated, but it was not moving when we were there. On the left, the boat is on its way out; we were the first people on the next ride.


Pirate ship ride as it makes its turnaround, in a little channel around an island set up with animatronic pirates and wrecked ships and cannon and all that. At the far end is the ship's captain, who was having nothing of [ profile] bunny_hugger calling out ``Stede Bonnet'' as a pirate someone might have heard of.

My humor blog! I talk about it every week about this time. Here's what's run the past week on it.

Trivia: The ancient Romans dated the battle of Pydna, 168 BC, to the 3rd of September. The battle's proximity to a lunar eclipse lets us be confident the date was actually the 21st of June. Source: Marking Time: The Epic Quest To Invent The Perfect calendar, Duncan Steel.

Currently Reading: Media Hoaxes, Fred Fedler.

After the big Boulder Dash roller coaster we went to the Wildcat, Lake Compounce's other wooden roller coaster. It claims to date to 1927, a great era in wooden roller coasters. However there's classic problems of identity to be made from that. The roller coaster was ``totally reconstructed in late 1985'', according to the American Coaster Enthusiasts plaque denoting it as a Roller Coaster Landmark, ``closely following [ legendary designer Herbert P ] Schmeck's original design''. How much can you rebuild a wooden roller coaster before it's just a new roller coaster following the same design? Bearing in mind that eventually every piece of wood gets replaced, eventually? And what does ``closely following'' mean?

Well, whether the ride dates to 1927 or to 1986, it's a nice, reasonably handsome-looking roller coaster, done in classic white boards with a path that brings it over to the front of the park and back again. The queue takes you on a bridge over the first part of the track, so you get nice dramatic views of people leaving the station. And the ride operators, at least while we were there, were making a fuss about people having birthdays (or claiming to), leading several rounds of happy-birthday calls. We also noticed they put out little green traffic cones with ``Seat Reserved'' in front of various lanes. We're not sure what people do to get reserved seats, but had to admire the operational efficiency of all this. I'd say the ride had the best interactions between operators and riders. One of the ride operators even spent free time doing a little dance with the yardstick, to measure kids for minimum sizes, as his cane.

That said, I must admit the ride was a bit disappointing. Probably anything would be immediately after Boulder Dash. But Wildcat was a bit rougher, and a bit more abrupt, than I hoped. Particularly the string of bunny hops to end the ride gave less airtime, and batted my legs against the lockdown bar, more than I really cared for. I think I could probably get quite into it, especially if the ride operators were always as charismatic as they were this time around. And I wonder if I'd think better of it had we ridden this first.

(The ACE plaque mentions the Wildcat replaced the park's earlier coaster, Green Dragon. That's a curiously poetic, personable name for a 1914-era roller coaster and we're curious about it. Alas, Roller Coaster Database hasn't got any pictures of it, though Wikipedia has an old postcard glimpse of it.)

By this time we were back by the carousel and took in another ride. And once there we noticed they were getting ready to hold a show in the former ballroom. We've been getting more into appreciating amusement park shows, and we'd done all the must-ride targets, so we went in and got front-row seats, although on an end so we weren't exactly in range to get a hand-slapping high-five from one of the performers running around the edge of the stage.

But we recognized the show almost from its props. It had different costuming, but was in essence the ``Skeleton Crew'' cirque-style performance done at Cedar Point's Halloweekends show. There's several stunts almost exactly duplicated, including a performer building her own tower out of rickety-looking wireframe boxes, and the eye-catching and gasp-inducing routine of people jumping down from, and bouncing back up along, a wall with several cutout windows. It's a hypnotic show, especially since the cutout windows are revealed by someone jumping through one that had been closed up to moments before. So it was a good show and a delightful glance into the secret world of how someone or other is selling identical show scripts to amusement parks across the country.

After the show we went over to the Ghost Hunt dark ride. That's another Sally Interactive dark ride, puttering around a mansion and shooting infrared guns at targets. We really would prefer a simple dark ride where the show performs itself but that's just not what we can get anymore. The most fun part of it, I think, was part of the theming out front. It had a silly gadget, labelled ``Prof. Phearstruck's Boo-Blaster Command Center'' and a guy who looked for all the world like a local horror-movie host explaining how ghosts blah blah shooting at them for points. The horror-movie host routine looked appealing, though goodness knows if he's actually part of anything, anywhere.

Trivia: The entire first shipment of Nintendo Famicoms in Japan was recalled, due to a bad chipset causing game crashes. Nintendo President Hiroshi Yamauchi held that protecting the Nintendo name was more important than maintaining sales momentum. Source: The Ultimate History of Video Games, Steven L Kent.

Currently Reading: Media Hoaxes, Fred Fedler. Or someone who says he's Fred Fedler, anyway.

In the Kiddieland section Lake Compounce has a couple rides that look familiar. One's a kiddie carousel that's to small for us, naturally, although it has got a lovely rabbit mount. It's also got a Kiddie Coaster, which looks to me like the same model as the Li'l Thunder which used to be at Great Adventure. That was the kiddie-coaster counterpart to Rolling Thunder, which a a kid I was way too intimidated to ride. It also seems to be the same model as Li'l Phantom, which is at Kennywood and is the kiddie-coaster counterpart to the Phantom's Revenge. Kiddie Coaster here doesn't seem to be paired to anything, but I had that happy nostalgic haze from recognizing the track layout. We're too big to ride it, alas, but I could visit it anyway.

One roller coaster we could ride, and the natural end of the park in that direction, was the Zoomerang. This is a shuttle coaster, that is, it goes back and forth rather than completing a whole circuit. It's the twin to the Sea Serpent, at Morey's Piers, and is not really [ profile] bunny_hugger's favorite kind of ride. It's fine going forward, as you get pulled up a hill and dropped down, and then go looping up, twisting over, looping back and then rolling up a hill again. It's the second part, where you do the same stuff in the reverse order, and backwards, that's nauseating. The model appears to me to be identical to that at Morey's Piers, although I couldn't say if there are mild differences in the tracks. It's a decent enough ride, and I got some fantastic pictures because we were there when the sky was its bluest and the sun its highest.

We had hoped that since we were going on a Monday the crowds might be a bit lighter. Perhaps they were; we didn't see what they were like on the weekends. But there was a long line for this, and there'd be long lines for everything. Lines are a natural part of the amusement park experience, yes, and I'm opposed to line-cutting processes, whether legitimate --- people buying fast-passes --- or the illegitimate --- people just cutting lines. But when you are going to be at a park for only nine hours until goodness knows when, it does hurt to see the hours tick away with little to do but notice there's an antique-car ride just off to the side that you probably won't have time to do. (We didn't.) And it hurts to see people dashing ahead of you on the excuse that they're just joining their friends up ahead.

From this we walked around the far side of the park, where we passed a little container-cargo-style booth. The booth held a teaser for next year's roller coaster, Phobia. The interesting thing about this is that it's going to be nearly an in-line roller coaster. That is, most of its motion is nearly in a vertical plane, as opposed to the horizontal plane that most roller coasters move in. It's not a unique roller coaster, although the alignment is rare in the United States and it looks like a fraud when you first see it in Roller Coaster Tycoon. It seems like a neat concept. (Apparently its full name is to be ``Phobia Phear Coaster''. This seems over-thought.)

This brought us around to the Boulder Dash. This is their massively popular wooden roller coaster. It's the one that had shortly before been struck by lightning, and had been out of service for a week-plus while, we believe, the braking system was repaired. They'd gotten it running while we were on the New England Parks Tour, somewhere around Santa's Village, I believe it was.

The line was long, as of course it'd be. This is one of the marquee rides, and it had been closed for a week or so recently, and the day was warm and beautiful. The ride is built into the side of the mountainous hills that mark the edge of the park, and the ride queue is largely on a wooden bridge over one of the valleys. It was crowded and slow-moving, even before counting the people streaming out ahead to get back from the bathroom or whatever they said they were doing. The ride is back into the woods, basically, and the bridge queue brings you back ever-farther into trees. There's some good views of the park from back there; there's also a lot of woods views. It's very pretty, mind you, and remote.

As for Boulder Dash ... well, it is a fantastic ride. It runs largely out-and-back, in the style of classic old roller coasters and, for that matter, Shivering Timbers at Michigan's Adventure. It's quite long. It's not quite a mile long, but it's near to that, and the ride is about two and a half minutes long, and it runs about sixty miles per hour. This makes it quite comparable to Shivering Timbers, really, in speed and length and style.

But its biggest difference is the landscaping. The ride more or less tracks along the hill, so that even when it has steep drops it's never far above the ground. That's good in a subtle way; it means there's less stress on the wood supports, making for a smoother ride. And since it is relatively close to the ground, and to the trees, the impression of speed is much greater, and the illusion of danger --- that you might hit something --- is incredibly greater. In this way it's reminiscent of the Rollo Coaster, at Idlewild. Rollo Coaster is a junior coaster, not very fast or tall, but it is close to the ground and feels more adventurous for that.

So that's the Boulder Dash impression: the height and speed and length of a major modern roller coaster like Shivering Timbers, combined with the track and ground effects and closeness of Rollo Coaster. It's all the best features of both, with a result that's explosive. I understand why this ride has spent fifteen years floating around the top of the roller coaster surveys. Wow.

Trivia: The word ``hunch'' first appears in English around 1581, with a meaning ``to push, thrust, shove''. By 1630 it had the figurative meaning of ``a hint, tip, or suggestion'', and since 1904 has been ``an intuitive feeling, a premonition''. Source: Semantic Antics: How and Why Words Change Meaning, Sol Steinmetz.

Currently Reading: Symmetry In Mechanics: A Gentle, Modern Introduction Stephanie Frank Singer.

PS: Reading the Comics, October 10, 2015: Wordplay Edition, some more comic strips for you.

Near the entrance Lake Compounce is a pinched, narrow park. There's a carousel-style horse mounted on a pole in front of the entry gates, much as at its sister park Kennywood. Then there's the entrance, and behind that a midway-row of redemption games. Behind that is the older wooden roller coaster, Wildcat. Behind that is a drop tower, and behind that the mountainous ride along which their new roller coaster, Boulder Dash, runs. In pictures it looks about forty feet wide. In reality it stretches back easily as much as forty-five feet.

Much of our first impression was spent just admiring the look of the place. After the park's brush with extinction, the Kennywood and then Parques Reunidos corporate overlords worked hard to get the park back in respectable shape. That's well-done; the park looks neat, tidy, fresh-painted, in overall good order. They've got an historical marker presenting the park's claim to antiquity, dating to an ``electrifying scientific demonstration'' on the spot which one Samuel Botsford drew people to in October 1846 (``it was a dud'' that inspired one Gad Norton to open the area as a picnic park). And we found mysteries, such as the remnants of what look like trolley tracks in the park. Surely they didn't have a trolley or miniature railroad line running that recently in the park? But then surely it'd be better paved-over if it wasn't recent? Maybe it was a parade path?

Well, one of the things they do have, and I think the first thing we rode, was the Antique Carousel, of as their explanatory sign in front puts it, ``Our Beautiful Carousel''. It's been at the park since 1911, and has got mounts from at least four different carvers: Looff, Carmel, Stein-and-Goldstein, and Carmel. The National Carousel Association census reports the carousel had been at Savin Rock in West Haven, Connecticut, from 1896 to 1911, and that it was originally built in 1893. The park's sign suggests that owner Timothy Murphy ``began assembling the carousel'' in the early 1900s which makes it sound like he was just buying mounts as he could afford them. (Savin Rock operated, the Roller Coaster Database says, from the 1870s through 1966. Savin Rock's 1909-to-1940 carousel is now, the National Carousel Association census says, at Six Flags New England. The park's 1925-to-1929 carousel is now at Rye Playland. I have no information on what if any carousel they had from 1940 onward or where that's gotten to.)

Anyway, ``Beautiful'' is a fair description of the carousel. It's three abreast, with local scenery in the panels on the inside. It's a simple tan overhang with leafy patterns on the canopy. The carousel's antique, but the building is new, going back to about 1990 or so. It's located on a hillside --- this is the hilliest park we've been at since Kennywood surely --- and next to what seems to be the old ballroom, a place now used for live-entertainment shows. Oh, and it's got one of those chariots featuring a long, winged Chinese-ish dragon that looks worried by everything. I'm not sure why that's the style of older carousel chariots but it is. (The one at Rye Playland even has the dragon being intimidated by a teeny little serpent hissing at it.)

After the carousel we took advantage of one of the park's novelties: free soft drinks. Just like at Holiday World, Lake Compounce has 12-ounce cups and Pepsi-product soft drinks free for the taking. This raises the question: why does Lake Compounce have free drinks but not its sister parks? It's understandable if the chain experimented with free drinks at one park, to see if it made sense for their chain. But then if it works at one park, why not extend it to other parks? If it doesn't work, why do they keep doing it? The best fit we can make to the evidence is maybe they started doing it to make a price hike seem more palatable, and that it maybe increases goodwill or business a little bit, but not enough to bring to other places, but enough that they're stuck against changing back now. Maybe. It did strike us that the all-day meal plans for Cedar Point and its sister parks don't cost very much more than a standard admission price, suggesting that parks might be reaching the point where free food or drinks are actually thinkable alternatives.

That said, free food hasn't reached Lake Compounce. We went to The Potato Patch, part of the entrance midway, to get some of the less-complicated-looking potatoes on offer. We sat at the edge of the kiddieland area and had lunch.

Trivia: A sumptuary law passed in Rome in 161 BCE specified the amount which could be spent on food and entertainment on each day of the month. Source: A History of the World in Six Glasses, Tom Standage.

Currently Reading: Symmetry In Mechanics: A Gentle, Modern Introduction Stephanie Frank Singer.

And a bit more of Story Land for this Sunday ...


Figure atop Splash Battle: Pharaoh's Reign. It's a raft ride in which both the rafters and the people standing on the outside have water cannons they can shoot at each other. This is one of the sculptures standing on top of the station, which goes well past the minimum necessary amount of work for an Egyptian themed station.


Sphinx sculpture outside Splash Battle: Pharaoh's Reign. The hieroglyphics caught our minds, though. Are they just replicas of something from Actual Egypt? Could it be that someone's burial inscription stood for thousands of years, and then got duplicated as unread and unknown markings on an amusement park's water-cannon ride for the fun of it? There's something weird about that possibility but I don't see any reason to rule it out either.


From the Slipshod Safari Tour, a ``wilds of Africa'' post office. Some of the set pieces on the tour are animated; most are just sculptures like that. The driver provides the context and jokes for stuff that doesn't explain itself.


The antique German carousel! The horses don't go up and down, but they are mounted on springs so you make them rock at your own pace. If you time it right, you can be temporarily moving backwards at the same rate the whole platform is rotating forward, which is quite a rush.


The swan boat, the Story Land Queen, coming in to dock after its voyage spent saving Butterfly Island from a lack of color.

And then my mathematics blog, busy in its way the past week:

Trivia: In 1938 New York City elementary school students ate 2,792,881 pounds of bananas in school lunches, versus 1,273,745 pounds of apples. Source: American-Made: The Enduring Legacy of the WPA, Nick Taylor.

Currently Reading: Symmetry In Mechanics: A Gentle, Modern Introduction Stephanie Frank Singer.