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austin_dern

July 2017

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Welcome

Jun. 2nd, 2017 12:10 am
austin_dern: Inspired by Krazy Kat, of kourse. (Default)

I'd spent the weekend at AnthrOhio while stuff about Motor City Fur[ry] Con went along here, so that's part of why my humor blog had a low-key week. If it's not on your friends feed or on your RSS feed then this is what you've missed:

And now ... something I thought might never happen. This is the last of my Pinburgh picture selection. I hope you enjoy this little farewell tour and stick around for the next stuff.

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My final game: Spanish pinball company Recel's 1978 Poker Plus, which finally gives us a card-themed game featuring a woman cosplaying as a wasp-themed superhero.


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After the end of everything: one of the rows of games --- the front three part of a bank I had done pretty well in tournament play --- powered down for the end of the event.


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Outside the convention hall was this setup, ReplayFX's 1980s Living Room. Besides the wood-grained sets and Nintendo system there's all sorts of classic old-time fun, including vintage issues of TV Guide and ohter magazines. Notice on top of the TV is a storage box for audio cassettes, too. No idea what if anything was in there.


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Convention put to bed. All emptied except for staff, who're getting ready to move the very many games back where they ought to be. Except those two people in the bottom right playing games. Did you spot the FunHouse in the scene before [profile] bunny_hugger did?


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Post-convention photo of the game floor. The bank of pinball games on the right, between the dividers, were the games for the Intergalactic Pinball Championship, which we tried to finish on Saturday night and for which we didn't place. Did you spot the FunHouse in the scene before [profile] bunny_hugger did?


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Striking the main stage. This was where the A Division had its finals --- you can see there's still some confetti on the left side of the stage --- and where I had put in a quick game afterwards when the place was free.


Trivia: The term ``cash flow'', one of the key measures of a commercial project's prospects, was coined only in 1954. Source: An Empire of Wealth: The Epic History of American Economic Power, John Steele Gordon.

Currently Reading: The History of the Calculus and its Conceptual Development, Carl B Boyer.

And, what the heck. Here's the LiveJournal feed for my mathematics blog, and here's the Dreamwidth feed, and here's the RSS feed, and if that's not your fill, here's what I posted there the past week:

And what the heck, for symmetry. This week's humor blog Sunday story strips low-daisy review:

What's Going On In Gasoline Alley? February - May 2017

And now let us make the final venture into the Pinburgh convention floor for a little more view of the novelties on display.

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Searching for Kennywood. No sign of it yet but there's at least three bridges in view looking opposite the ball park.


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Merch table. First of all, Pinball Breakaway, eh? Second of all: boy, remember the days when you'd try to rip off the Atari 2600? Trust me, kids, there were days when people did that.


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Some of the many, many, many old game cartridges available. Catching my eye: so, wait, a WarGames game? If you can actually play it I think you've missed the point of the license.


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Some last-minute games. Here, Bally's Minizag, and go ahead, guess if the game is from 1968. Not a Christiaan Marche game, incredibly! Now go ahead and ponder what the main playfield might look like.


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So, as you might expect, the main playfield for Bally's 1968 Minizag is indeed groovy.


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Middle playfield of Stern's 1979 solid-state game Magic which I include just because, man, whatever you want in game art, it's there, somewhere.


Trivia: The morning of the day President James Garfield was shot he had roused his teenage children from bed, lifting Harry and Jim, one under each arm, while singing ``I Mixed Those Babies Up'' from Gilbert and Sullivan's HMS Pinafore. (Jim later said his father swung them around ``as if we were in fact two babies''.) Source: Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of a President, Candice Millard.

Currently Reading: The History of the Calculus and its Conceptual Development, Carl B Boyer.

Despite catastrophe my humor blog kept on going, as you might have seen on your Dreamwidth friends page or on your RSS reader, or for that matter on your LiveJournal friends page if you still have one. And if you're just like normal and watch stuff from here, there's my normal weekly review.

And as we draw to the end of the last day of Pinburgh we go upstairs and look out from the bridge over the main floor. There we see:

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Panoramic photo of [profile] bunny_hugger taking a photo of the convention floor. From the pedestrian bridge over the center of the main floor.


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The main pinball floor as seen from the bridge, on the last day, when all the activity was over. Did you spot the FunHouse before [profile] bunny_hugger did?


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Video games and some more of the pinball games, from the opposite side of the bridge. In the lower left you can see the Attack From The Back modded pinball game, at least a bit; it's behind that big posterboard.


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Just people having fun. It may not be much of a scene but I like the composition. At the top right is the Black Knight 2000 with the frosted glass obstructing the playfield's view.


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Last hours of playing video games and some pinball.


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Quick view of the baseball park and one of the bridges as seen from the patio outside the convention center.


Trivia: The Bowery Theater, opened in Manhattan in 1825, burned down four times between 1828 and 1845. After that it survived another eighty years. Source: Waking Giant: America in the Age of Jackson, David S Reynolds.

Currently Reading: The History of the Calculus and its Conceptual Development, Carl B Boyer.

PS: Getting Into Shapes, some convex-polygon center-finding stuff. Practical!

Be one of us

May. 15th, 2017 12:10 am
austin_dern: Inspired by Krazy Kat, of kourse. (Default)

Had another average week on my mathematics blog, despite my plans for one piece getting interrupted by the power outage, so if you didn't see it on your RSS feed here's your second chance:

We didn't just spend all Sunday at Pinburgh looking at odd pinball games and weird performances. We also looked at old arcade and console games. For example:

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Ancient console system playing what I guess is Pong maybe? I love how 1978 it all looks.


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This is what every modern game console looks like to me. Well, they're having fun.


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For the era that's an impressive shot of Generic Stadium. Also but heck that's a disheartening score for the ATLs. I mean, that's the kind of score you don't see since the Tripartite Agreement.


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Person with a rather good costume chatting with an Imperial Stormtrooper. You would totally believe she's a little girl!


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View of one of Pittsburgh's many bridges outside the side windows. I saw this a bunch of times because there was a vending machine with cheaper Diet Pepsi in it, most of the time, than any of the in-venue dealers offered.


Trivia: In 730 the Venerable Bede set out to prove the spring equinox did not, as commonly supposed, happen the 25th of March. Though a year of observation with his sundial he found the spring equinox of 731 did not happen on the same day as the year before, indicating the estimate of the year of 365 and a quarter days was not quite right. Source: The Calendar: The 5000-Year Struggle to Align the Clock and the Heavens --- and What Happened to the Missing Ten Days, David Ewing Duncan.

Currently Reading: Heat And Thermodynamics: A Historical Perspective, Christopher J T Lewis.

Didn't miss a day on my humor blog again, despite temptations. If it's not on your Dreamwidth Friends Page, or your RSS feed, then here's what you could see now:

Here's some more puttering around Anthrocon In The Off Season:

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The experience of everyone playing Nascar: play Nascar or just sit impassively waiting for the thing to finish? I'm being too hard on it; there's some fun stuff on the game. We just always played savagely hard tables. In front of it, the Gottlieb mid-80s game Car Hop that's entirely based on roller skates and short skirts.


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The classic arcade video game section was overseen by Car Dealership Santa.


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So when I saw this Journey arcade I thought it was a refitted thing where some obscure early-80s game got the faces of the band imposed on whatever the original sprites were. Not so: the original game included digitized pictures of the band, with the objective being to reunite them with their instruments. Well, would you think that was legit if you encountered it in the field today? Especially with the digitized heads of the band on sprite-cartoon bodies?


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Game console section, seen from a low angle so all the laser lights on the ceiling show. Also I show off my love for weird shadow and light play.


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Small UFO serving the game consoles.


Trivia: Jay Ward's last TV pilot was a show, Fang, the Wonder (?) Dog, conceptually a Lassie spoof. Source: The Moose That Roared: The Story of Jay Ward, Bill Scott, a Flying Squirrel, and a Talking Moose, Keith Scott.

Currently Reading: Frozen Hell: The Russo-Finnish Winter War of 1939-40, William R Trotter.

PS: Excuses, But Classed Up Some instead of another Why Stuff Can Orbit post.

Happy actual doctorversary, love, since I got it wrong two days ago.


Another week without missing a day on my humor blog! It's there as a Dreamwidth feed, if you want to follow that, and also on RSS. Run in the past week have been:

Back to Pinburgh, and Sunday, a chance for a lot of wandering around and not doing anything particular.

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Backglass for Gottlieb's 1966 Mayfair, an electromechanical game that hoped to piggyback on how the kids could not get enough of My Fair Lady. The game was also released in a version that gave extra balls instead of replays, named Hyde Park.


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Merch tables! Besides admiring the pinball and video game machines you could buy stuff for your pinball and video game machines. Or other nerd-culture stuff. I don't know that these folks were actually selling their Hi-C stock or if that was just so they had something to keep them going.


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Backglass for Gottlieb's 1967 Super Score, the pinball-themed game that avoids being an infinite recursion. But you know they were thinking about it. Mostly I admire the cleverness of the score reels. The four-player version loses that, in favor of another level of recursion.


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``How am I supposed to let people know we're making this game in 1978?'' Williams's Disco Fever is one of two released games made with these curved ``banana'' flippers, which hold and fling the ball kind of like jai alai paddles. The flipper feeling is weird, but I think a good weird, and I think it's a shame more games haven't tried them. You get a different kind of control to the shooting.


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Attack From The Back! [profile] bunny_hugger delights in one of the modded pinball games, an Attack From Mars played with flippers hooked up to the top. She's still irked that she had a slightly better-than-average game on it. The strangest thing about playing the game this way: trying to nudge the machine even though when you'd want to the ball is hopelessly far away from you, closer to the fulcrum of your nudge, so your efforts are inherently futile.


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Mortal Kombat ripoff named Tattoo Assassins that caught my eye with its wonderfully goofy character biographies. The game, based on a concept about magic living tattoo ink (from the screenwriter for Back To The Future), never went into production and it's not clear how many of the prototypes still exist. The Professional and Amateur Pinball Association is believed to have two of them, so this might be legit. Anyway. Read everything you can about it, because it's one of those fiascos that just keeps giving. Not sure? The game has a Nancy Kerrigan expy. Also Hanna, who was ``a world class strip club dancer until a deranged killer'' and I'm sorry but what is the precise skill which differentiates a world-class strip club dancer from the merely very good strip club dancer? Plus they seem to have invented animalities and actually done nudalities. And that's not even counting the 90s Cyber stuff and the stuff that would be racist if it weren't so goofy and probably really is racist in that ``what, were we supposed to think?'' 80s-movie style.


Trivia: The word ``stamina'' is first recorded in a letter Jonathan Swift wrote to Irish dramatist Richard B Sheridan: ``I indeed think her stamina could not last much longer, when I saw she could take no nourishment''. Source: Semantic Antics: How and Why Words Change Meaning, Sol Steinmetz.

Currently Reading: The Boulanger Affair Reconsidered: Royalism, Boulangism, and the Origins of the Radial Right in France, William D Irvine.

PS: Why Stuff Can Orbit, Part 8: Introducing Stability, getting back into the swing of this series.

Good news, everyone! I think the Dreamwidth feed for my mathematics blog works. The RSS feed definitely does. Did you skip them? Then here's the past week's writing:

Now the start of the last day of Pinburgh, and our last day at the Westin, and a day with no pinball events going on that we'd be any part of because we didn't make finals.

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People having fun! I assume. They're on that thing that was I assume an upcharge attraction, this inflatable structure where you hurl a big ball at your opponent and have the fun of getting hit with stuff. We never got on it.


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There's always little problems along the way at a convention like this. When we first looked at the sign we read ``Tastes like Man River'' which is an evocative yet hard-to-parse concept. I suppose they mean Mon[ongahela] River. Still.


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[profile] bunny_hugger doing very well playing Super Pac-Man, getting her Pac gigantified and able to pass partially through maze walls as long as his center of mass doesn't go through the solid lines.


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Arcade cabinet for LadyBug, along with the rig set up for the arcade video game championships that were going on in parallel to the pinball stuff.


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Expert Donkey Kong player Billy Mitchell, hosting the arcade video game championships, has had enough of my high school geometry teacher and hurls him off stage. (Trick of the moment; Mitchell was just patting his shoulder while he walked.)


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The side of the Mouse Trap cabinet, because I don't remember before seeing it. While a Mouse Trap was in the Brighton Arcade it was packed alongside many other games so that art of the art went concealed from me.


Trivia: The Latin zodiac sign Leo, the Lion, was in Sanskrit `Simha', and in the Babylonian scheme `Lion'. Source: Mapping Time: The Calendar and its History, EG Richards.

Currently Reading: Rust: The Longest War, Jonathan Waldman.

What have you seen on my humor blog if it's part of your RSS existence or if you have its LiveJournal or now Dreamwidth feeds on your Friends page? This stuff:

And now let me close up Pinburgh Saturday with mostly backglass art.

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Lower playfield of Williams's 1981 Barracora, the body-horror game that will haunt your dreams. The story is that the game was to be called Barracuda but the President of Williams didn't like that association. Note the drop targets match up, as tradition, one target per letter of the name Barracora, except for the 'RR' target on the left side. The story there is that when the Gordian knot of how to match the game title with the number of drop targets was finally settled this way designers said if they'd known they could double up letters like that it would have solved so many problems. (In that time the table layout and the theme were developed often with little cross-talk or planning.)


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Yeah, so here's that picture you wanted of the G I Joe team's Lady Jaye riding a bucking pink robot space horse. And the company that'll bring it to you is Gottleib in 1979.


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Yeah, so here's that picture you wanted of the the cheery, dopey, plotless days before renewing yourself in the fires of Carousel. And the company that'll bring it to you is Williams in 1979.


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Meanwhile from our friends Recel, in Spain: 1977's Space Race. Fine cheery scene that makes you ask: that guy in the center, behind the fallen woman. Is he wearing flesh-colored pants or does he have a long pouch adhering to his naked thigh? Before you say this is obvious remember that it was the 70s and this is a science fiction theme.


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Williams's 1979 Stellar Wars reminds us all that we don't have to have an official license to have a good time.


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Yeah, so here's that picture you wanted of a shiny silver-mirrory winged centauress mooning the Hal 9000. And the backglass that'll bring it to you? Stern's 1978 Lectronamo.


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Another attempted panoramic shot of the banner on the convention center's underpass for the ReplayFX Arcade and Gaming Festival. On the far right is one of the Attack From Mars aliens, just past the big old-fashioned style pop bumper.


Trivia: When the Cincinnati American Association team (we'd call them the Red Sox) moved to their new field in 1882 (and where they'd stay to 1870) a local sportswriter admitted the new location had flooded that spring, but prior to that, not since 1852. It flooded again the following February. Source: Level Playing Fields: How The Groundskeeping Murphy Brothers Shaped Baseball, Peter Morris.

Currently Reading: Rust: The Longest War, Jonathan Waldman.

PS: Reading the Comics, April 22, 2017: Thought There'd Be Some More Last Week Edition but hey, Thursdays, why not one of these?

Had another full week on my humor blog, so if you missed it here's the various recent posts:

So let's get back to Saturday at Pinburgh and a couple more hours of the fun and photogenic stuff there.

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More backglass art because it was just that captivating: Sonic's 1976 Faces, an electromechanical game with the ever-popular theme of gazing into your soul.


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Most of the playfield for Sonic's 1976 Faces, a game we did not have cause to play in the tournament but which we couldn't resist because look at those eyes and those nostril-bumpers and the lips on that machine and then there's more faces below it. Seriously, just, wow.


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Finals for the Tiny Pinball tournament; contestants stand on chairs. Or, I get arty while waiting for the C Division finals to play out. Stars is a great early solid-state game we can't get enough of ourselves.


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The C Division Champions, by contrast to B, were able to arrange their victories in decreasing order by size.


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One of the other concerts: a live orchestra playing the music while someone speedruns the video game I Dunno, Something About Ninjas Or Something. I have no idea if they missed any beats but none of the people who knew what the game was seemed unhappy with their performance so I suppose it was without flaw in technique.


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Mobs of people waiting to put in games for the side tournament, the Intergalactic Pinball Championship. It was like 10:30 pm, with qualifying ending at 1 or 2 am and it turns out that we should have put games in earlier in the day when nobody was there. Live and learn.


Trivia: The Hudson River bed in the area of the Tappan Zee bridge is a layer of silt, in some spots 300 feet deep. Source: Engineering In History, Richard Shelton Kirby, Sidney Withington, Arthur Burr Darling, Frederick Gridley Kilgour.

Currently Reading: Invisible: The Dangerous Allure of the Unseen, Philip Ball.

Tags:

Had something like another normal-ish week of activity around my mathematics blog. If you weren't part of it but want to join now, here's a chance:

Some more of Pinburgh Saturday. We got back in time to see the B, C, and D Divisions finish their finals. Who! Will! Win!?

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The kid from Where The Wild Things Are! Also that I trust are two characters from video games I don't know, part of the costuming going around.


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Another game in the free-play area and enver, so far as I know, part of the tournament: Star Race. I don't know just what's going on with the backglass (and playfield) art, but once more, if it were a DAW yellow-spine paperback cover I would so buy this.


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Champions! The D Division, playing in the little reserve games corner behind the main stage, hands out plaques to its top four players.


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Championship! B Division plays Dirty Harry in the championships of the Half-Size Pinball Games tournament. Playing is TOD, Todd MacCulloch, former NBA player and Olympic basketball player.


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Between balls at the B Division playoffs. It's not just you. Todd MacCulloch is so large that he looks like a rendering error.


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Champions! The B Division finds its top players and actually, no, Todd MacCulloch came in second. Yes, there are other people in the shot there. Promise.


Trivia: A US Navy intelligence officer's report, from the 3rd of August, 1918, on the Spanish Influenza reported his advisors indicated ``the disease now epidemic throughout Switzerland is what is commonly known as the black plague, though it is designated as Spanish sickness and grip''. Source: The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History, John M Barry.

Currently Reading: Boom, Bust, Boom: A Story About Copper, The Metal That Runs The World, Bill Carter.

I still have my humor blog going on, if you want it on your LiveJournal Friends Page, and the RSS feed is still going strong so far as I know. If it hasn't been, nobody's told me, which is about what I'd expect. RSS deserves better. Humor pieces of the past week include:

Back to photos of Pinburgh's Saturday affairs. If the pictures look different it's because I'm trying out Dreamwidth's image server to see if I can stand something that's different from what I've been using for years now. I give it like a 45 percent chance of not driving me crazy.

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Pac-Man, playing Mouse Trap. There was costuming going on at the convention, not as much as at a furry convention (so far as I saw), but involving a lot more video game characters of whom Pac-Man was about the only one I recognized. He'd chatted with [profile] bunny_hugger some about how good a game Mouse Trap was.


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Us defying the posted rules about King Kool (Gottleib, 1972). Since it was Saturday, playoffs day, fewer game banks were needed and they were open to casual players like us. Note the nightmare double-flippers there; do not try to trap the ball on the lower flippers by holding them up. You'll feel awful.


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Outlane on Stern's Big Buck Hunter, game licensed to the video game that turns out to be a whole franchise with its own fan community and conventions and all that. I mean, the heck, right? Anyway, this is maybe the only video game I know with a realistic picture of a bunny on it. It's also got two photographs of raccoons in similar 'Critter' targets.


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[profile] bunny_hugger chopping wood on the modified Tri-Zone Simon. The objective: watch the flashing lights in front of each of the fur drop targets spread across the lower playfield, and shoot those targets in that order. She was much better at it than I was. It was a fine test of control.


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Across the street, and around the corner, and way, way down the street: people queued for the Clinton rally occupying the other half of the convention center and making the place less accessible during Saturday.


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On the corner: nearly half a dozen people at the Jill Stein counter-rally. There were also briefly two or three Trump supporters on another corner, but they didn't stick around long.


Trivia: Ahead of the first space shuttle launch dynamometer tests indicated the brakes could be expected to meet five normal stops, with each brake assembly absorbing 36.5 million foot-pounds of energy, and one emergency stop absorbing 55.5 million foot-pounds. (This would be what was needed for a Return-to-Launch-Site abort.) Source: Development of the Space Shuttle 1972 - 1981, T A Heppenheimer.

Currently Reading: Boom, Bust, Boom: A Story About Copper, The Metal That Runs The World, Bill Carter.

Tags:

Once more the advisory: I have my Dreamwidth bug-out account a couple months ago, and may well be shifting over to that as soon as I find a transition date that accords with the complex and home-grown numerological superstitions I have.


If you haven't been following my mathematics blog directly, or its RSS feed, then here's what you missed the past week. Here's your chance to fix that by enjoying:

Saturday at Pinburgh we were at liberty; we weren't in the finals and so had nothing particular to get to at any time, and could take in the show and any panels or events that caught our fancy. Got many more pictures of this.

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Kings of Steel, one of the first games [profile] bunny_hugger and I played while at liberty on Saturday. I ... had a surprisingly good last ball, overtaking [profile] bunny_hugger on the bonus, which she might yet forgive me for. Note in the background the Donkey Kong For President banner. Back in July it was a very funny idea to imagine as President a short-tempered, irrational building-wrecking, woman-grabbing primate stomping and throwing barrels of flaming oil at defenseless people.


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Over on this side of things they had vintage video game consoles set up. Here, [profile] bunny_hugger plays E.T. which they had because of course. She didn't do well. I don't remember playing, but if I did, I did worse.


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They also had a Vectrex console, which was dazzlingly bright. To show off how bright it was, see it here competing with the light from a 19-inch Sharp TV playing Ghostbusters '84 because of course. Yes, that's a TV with built-in double VCR, playing a VHS tape in glorious-ish pan-and-scan, which was charming.


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Waiting for the first concert of the day, a chiptunes performance. We'd wait for a little while and eventually realize we'd have a lot longer to wait, but we did worry about losing our good seats. Note the famous chicken purse. Now that you have, compliment [profile] bunny_hugger on it.


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The chiptunes concert in action! So this guy fiddled around with things a good while. I think this was the one featuring Nine Inch Nails tunes, which I don't know but which our friend MWS is a fan of. Unfortunately he couldn't make it; I believe he was feeling ill after the night before. In front of his laptop there was some lights panel that did all kinds of complicated shows, none of which are interpretable in a still picture. Sorry.


Trivia: In September 1970 railroad critic and gubernatorial candidate Milton J Shapp started a whistlestop tour on the Penn Central in a four-car campaign train. Before it reached its first stop the air conditioning in the press car broke; by the end of the first day the toilet in Shapp's car backed up, flooding the candidate's luggage; his car's air conditioning broke down. Then the cooling unit in the main sleeper car broke, and no hot water was available for washing, and the drinking water was warm. In Pittsburgh the next day a hose coupling burst, covering Shapp in steam as he was beginning his address to the crowd. Shapp won election. Source: The Wreck of the Penn Central: The Real Story Behind The Largest Bankruptcy In American History, Joseph R Daughen, Peter Binzen.

Currently Reading: Gateway To The Moon: Building the Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex, Charles D Benson, William B Faherty. NASA SP-4204, excerpted.

Once more the advisory: I have my Dreamwidth bug-out account a couple months ago, and may well be shifting over to that as soon as I find a transition date that accords with the complex and home-grown numerological superstitions I have.


The LiveJournal feed of my humor blog, as far as I know, is still functioning. The WordPress RSS feed certainly is. I think. Nobody's told me otherwise. Here's what I've posted there the past week:

Now back to Pinburgh Friday, the day I took surprisingly few photographs:

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``And you tell me this is 1980?'' said the backglass artist.


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Playfield art for the 1980 game Roller Disco, celebrating that happy time when white people and blue people could put on roller skates and disco together. And for all that, I sincerely love the art here, and the simply fun scene pictured.


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A game that I don't think was in competition, although maybe I just missed it. 1977's Time 2000, a game made by Atari, somehow. Atari made a couple of pinball games and none of them are quite normal somehow. But if this were the cover of a yellow-spine DAW paperback wouldn't you read it? Of course, if you know what a yellow-spine DAW paperback is.


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Playfield of Atari's Time 2000 game and you see what I mean? There's a couple pinball games that have this weird bifurcated flippers thing --- Rocky is the other prominent example --- and it's weird every time. Yes, it looks like there's a gap between the left side's right flipper and the right side's left flipper, but there's actually a little island there concealing, I think it was, a scoop that tosses the ball back up into the playfield.


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Playmatic's 1975 game Fairy, which again I would totally buy if it were the cover art for a yellow-spine DAW paperback. The art seems more like it's not so much ``fairy'' themed as ``1930s Flash Gordon serial'' but we can work with that too.


Trivia: The New York Central railroad, when first capitalized in 1853, was $23,000,000. Source: The Story Of American Railroads, Stewart H Holbrook.

Currently Reading: Gateway To The Moon: Building the Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex, Charles D Benson, William B Faherty. NASA SP-4204, excerpted.

PS: Reading the Comics, April 1, 2017: Connotations Edition, closing out what was a busy week last week.

Tags:

Another sleepwalking-style week on my mathematics blog, although there I blame all the hassles of work eating up what would have been perfectly good writing time. Still, if you'd like to know what you missed since last week? I don't blame you. Here:

I took surprisingly (to me) few pictures of Pinburgh Friday. I guess I got too wrapped up in playing, working myself into the middling sections of C Division. But, eh, here's what I have.

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My first game of the second day: Asteroid Annie and the Aliens, an early solid state game from 1980 that I'd played some long before at the Silverball Museum. It's got the traditional card-game theme, but mixed with aliens. And it's a one-player game, an oddity for the era. I came in fourth of my four-player group.


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Do you spot the important thing I'd forgotten? It's the ``suicide inlane'' on the lower right of the playfield. If you try to catch the ball on the right flipper it'll roll up the metal wire and then fall through the gap there. That's how my first ball ended. The left inlane is the more normal kind, with a wire guide shaped kind of like a very wide L, so that catching the ball on the left flipper has a harder time draining.


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The long view: that first bank was at the end of one of the columns. Many of the Pinburgh games were organized by themes. Note in The Party Zone and the third game, High Roller Casino, the backboxes both feature ``woman pointing upwards with a sharply angled leg'' theme.


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The Party Zone is where I started to get that set back together, as the center shot allows one to ``Make Request'' of the game's disc jockey. I picked ``Pinball Wizard'', you see.


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Old friends! Not the game, although it did give me a rare win, but the initials here. SJG was someone I very slightly knew as an undergraduate; he was the dominating pinball player at the Rutgers student centers. And he's obviously still around; he won New York State's championship in February. And was obviously doing stuff at Pinburgh.


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View from the window. During a break we popped over to MWS's room, and saw his roommate, and also saw what I imagine to be the railroad station out the window. Really quite lovely and I don't suppose I can do it justice, but I tried.


Trivia: Army terminology for the launch schedule of Explorer 1 in 1958 put events, such the start of the spinning of the uppermost stages, at ``X minus 12 (seconds)'', rather than ``T minus 12''. Source: Project Vanguard: The NASA History, Constance McLaughlin Green, Milton Lomask. NASA SP-4202.

Currently Reading: Michigan History, March/April 2017, Editor Nancy Feldbush.

While I've been slacking on my mathematics journal, my humor blog's been going on daily still, encouraged by stuff that turns out to be easier to write than expected. Didn't see it on your RSS feed? See it now:

And now back to the first day of Pinburgh, which would see me sorted into the C Division and [livejournal.com profile] bunny_hugger lofted to the heights of B.

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One of the other custom-modded playfields: Black Knight 2000 with frosted glass that allow only slight unobstructed views of the game. This makes the game rather more difficult, certainly, but isn't that part of the fun?


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Lower playfield detail art on Aftor, one of the early solid-state games used to make everyone regret they ever started playing pinball. It was a bit of a rough field. But who doesn't like rampaging lion-men and stuff?


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View of the pinball area. In the near field are the free-play games that anyone could play anytime. Past the little dividers was the competitive play area, where only those in a match were supposed to touch anything. To the right is the judge's desk where we turned in cards and where the trophy belt and cup sat.


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The other half of the convention area: video games and lots of them. Way off in the corner on the left is a stage where some bands and other stuff would play. Off in the far right corner some Anthrocon attendees who only now got free from the Westin elevator traps. There's another stage in the upper right for video game stuff.


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Opposite view of the main field, showing the pinball area and one of the upcharge attractions, that bungee-assisted trampoline thing.


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Opposite view of the video game field, showing more of the games and to the right some other kind of upcharge attraction where people went in and ... I don't know. Something or other. Also way off on the right there was a food counter with, like, vegetarian burgers, something we didn't discover until the last day.


Trivia: In her first appearance on her husband's radio show (then the Linit Bath Club Revue) Portland Hoffa portrays a woman trying to get back to Schenectady. When Fred Allen gives up trying to spell the city's name he concludes, ``I'll get you a one-way ticket to Troy and you can hitchhike the rest of the way from there.'' Source: Fred Allen: His Life And Wit, Robert Taylor. I'm guessing this joke really wowed the radio audience in Nacogdoches, Texas.

Currently Reading: Handwriting In America: A Cultural History, Tamara Plakins Thornton.

Tags:

It was as close to a sleepwalking week on my mathematics blog as a week gets. Sorry. Should do better next week, if all goes well. Meanwhile here's what you missed:

Yeah, not much. Let's get back to the opening day of Pinburgh 2016.

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A rare excellent performance on my part (player one) on Mars Trek, which features somehow both the Battlestar Galactica and this weird hypnotic spiral-haired space woman. I unironically love the graphic style of this. My competitors applauded after the second ball, when I put up nearly all that score. It's the thing to do.


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One of the Zaccaria tables, Robot, which I've played in simulation and in the VFW Pinball Museum. I didn't get assigned to the bank with this game in it, but don't you love it from the backglass? If you don't, consider your answer after knowing part of the playfield is a bright pink ramp labelled the Robot Bridge.


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More backglass art, this one of a game that was (I think) in the Free Play Area and not turned on when I had the chance to see it. But I quite like the theme since who doesn't like references to Cincinnati-area amusement parks in their pinball? Also who doesn't like game titles that include exclamation points?


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One of the modified pinball machines: Tri-Zone Simon. The game is physically identical to the game we have at home, although its backglass is in better shape. But it's been recoded to a Simon game. In front of each of the four drop targets is a light. This game blinks lights in a sequence of the drop targets, and your objective is to hit the targets in that order. Really good idea and quite challenging.


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Lower playfield detail art on Middle Earth, which I don't think was in the playing bank. But who doesn't like rampaging giant reptiles and light sabres and stuff? It's got that fine old-style space-opera comic strip attitude to it.


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View of the competition area, from low down so you can see where the power switches and where the games have been scarred by frustrated players setting Independence Day on fire.


Trivia: In the early 1690s King Louis XIV ordered the solid silver furniture (about 27 tons) and gold plate settings of Versailles melted down to pay for the ongoing wars. Source: The Essence of Style: How the French Invented High Fashion, Fine Food, Chic Cafés, Style, Sophistication, and Glamour, Joan DeJean.

Currently Reading: A Horrible Experience of Unbearable Length: More Movies That Suck, Roger Ebert.

I passed my 1500th post on my humor blog and then forgot to mention that fact when it happened. I'll have to wait for the 2000th, I guess. Anyway, here's stuff that's run on my humor blog the past week:

And now return with me to Anthrocon in the off-season, when it's cheaper: Pinburgh 2016!

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The start of Pinburgh 2016! Assembled competitive pinball players receive final instructions from the guy on stage. Bonus: if you hold the screen up to your ear, you can hear exactly the same instructions I heard from standing back here. Notice on stage that every three games there's two large TV screens stacked vertically; they're showing --- from cameras mounted above the playfields --- what's going on to the audience. Some people got assigned to banks on-stage; I didn't, but did play one in free time after the tournament.


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My first bank! Jack-Bot, Gator, High Speed, and (off-panel) Cheetah. The first game I knew very well, the last tolerably well, and the third I knew some. I did relatively well on Jack-Bot because everyone else tried to use this rules exploit trick to get extra shots in before the ball saver starts counting time; I just played the game like it's supposed to be. They came to grief trying to out-clever the game.


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The actual pro-wrestling style belt awarded to the Pinburgh champion as the game was part of the Professional and Amateur Pinball Association circuit, a set of like two dozen events over the year.


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The closest I got to winning the Pinburgh Division A.


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Strangely charming side box art for The Lost World, one of the games in a later bank. I love the sheepish look on the dinosaur. I have a weakness for timid monsters. In the foreground is Volcano, the first table on which I just bricked every ball.


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Backglass art for Lost World, which is just a perfect representation of that early-solid-state era in game design.


Trivia: Dwight Eisenhower did not declare himself uninterested in the 1948 Democratic party nomination for president until fourteen days before the convention, and did not make an unambiguous declaration of uninterest for three more days. Source: Two Americans: Truman, Eisenhower, and a Dangerous World, William Lee Miller. (The ambiguity was that Eisenhower declared he was uninterested in the nomination ``at this time''.)

Currently Reading: A Horrible Experience of Unbearable Length: More Movies That Suck, Roger Ebert.

Tags:

I had one of those four-post weeks on my mathematics blog, which you might have seen on your RSS reader or just your friends page or from following the PS: tags every couple days here. If you didn't, too bad. Here's your next chance to catch up on all this:

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Tuscora Park's carousel and some of the open space as seen from atop of the Superior Wheel.


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The swinging chair ride as seen from the Superior Wheel. The seats are solid moulded plastic and so there's no slack for fitting in and they're honestly not that comfortable to sit in.


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The train station again as seen from the Superior Wheel.


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The junior roller coaster and the train tracks over by the lake, and its little lighthouse figure.


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The Superior Wheel as seen from a better angle.


Trivia: Among the founding investors in the R E Olds Company was William H Porter, founder of the Lansing Spoke Company. Source: R E Olds: Auto Industry Pioneer, George S May.

Currently Reading: Ozma of Oz, L Frank Baum.

My humor blog's kept up its daily postings this week, too, and it passed its 1500th post without my remembering to say anything about that. Um. Sorry. RSS feed included here. That's something, right? Anyway, here's what was happening there:

Our journey to Pinburgh began with a stop at a small municipal park which had absorbed the contents of a small amusement park. What happened in our nearly twelve minutes wandering around there? This.

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Inflatable figure set up outside Tuscora Park in New Philadelphia, Ohio, for ... well, I don't know. So visiting Michigan fans have something to punch? I don't know, you all are weird.


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[livejournal.com profile] bunny_hugger enjoying the antique carousel that Tuscora Park has had since 1940. It's a Herschell-Spillman from around 1925; the National Carousel Association doesn't know who owned it before Tuscora Park.


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Music scrolls for the carousel's Wurlitzer 153 band organ. I love getting photographs of their inventory like this.


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The Spillman carousel at full speed and from that nice low angle that makes for such exciting pictures.


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The C W Parker Superior Wheel, finally (finally!) working. We'd ridden its sibling, and the only other survivor of the breed, at Crossroads Village in Flint often.


Trivia: Insurance payments for the San Francisco Earthquake and Fire in 1906 alone depleted about 14 percent of Britain's stock of gold, the largest outflow of gold from Britain between 1900 and 1913. Source: The Panic of 1907: Lessons Learned from the Market's Perfect Storm, Robert F Bruner, Sean D Carr.

Currently Reading: Waging War: The Clash Between Presidents and Congress, 1776 to ISIS, David J Barron.

PS: Reading the Comics, March 11, 2017: Accountants Edition, wrapping up last week's comics in time for this week's, almost.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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