krazy koati

We'd save up all our money and

We would not get to Motor City Furry Con 2021's opening ceremonies, at noon on Friday. It's the convention we most often miss opening ceremonies for. Not because we needed the time to take Sunshine to bunny_hugger's parents. I had brought her down the day before, and spent some time with them. If they thought anything ill-advised about our going to the convention they didn't hint any of it to me. Sunshine spent some time sulking, after she was set up in her temporary home, and it took a half-day before she really started eating again. bunny_hugger's mother thinks Sunshine is even blinder than we had realized. Being transported to an unfamiliar place may be upsetting her more than it otherwise would.

But also not slowing us down: the belated retirement party for someone in bunny_hugger's department. The forecast was for a cold, rainy afternoon and they were planning to have it outdoors, so they postponed the event a week to when it could piggyback off a department meeting anyway and, it turns out, it would be more clearly threatening of rain. (That turned out all right, though.) No, we would just get out there late for the usual reasons. We're late risers, it's hard to get the house secured for the weekend, it's hard to get everything packed for a weekend. Especially with us so out of practice for trips; we haven't been out overnight anywhere since Easter with bunny_hugger's parents.

After a one-year stay in Livonia in 2019, Motor City Fur[ry] Con relocated again, to Ypsilanti. It feels closer, but in actual mileage is suspiciously close to the same distance. But we found the hotel, and a parking lot very near full of cars with license plates that read out puns, you know, just like you expect at a convention. We checked in and got room 455, a number I can't forget because when we got off the elevator we found the sign pointing one way for rooms 401 through 419, and the other way for rooms 420 through 439, and you'll notice some numbers not in that range. It turns out 455 was placed in-between rooms 422 and 423, and while we can imagine an explanation for this anomaly, I like having the anomaly.

Then there was checking in, which required finding where the con space was. This was at the other end of the hotel, fair enough, with the administrative-type rooms for this on the second floor. Little odd but reasonable for someplace like registration that most people will need to go to only the once. We also got there in one of those precious moments when there was no line at all. The con let us upload icons for our badges, and I learned I don't have a picture really good for use as a badge picture, at least not at the size they use. We also learned the convention was not giving out program books, ``to save trees'', a change we do not like at all. We don't have smart phones and don't want to be forced into using them, and a con book will tell you what was scheduled to happen at the convention even four years later when the web site has become a poorly-archived memory. It felt cheap, and we're hoping this was part of the convention being a little chintzier than usual because of the pandemic. The glass they gave away to sponsors was also a flimsier thing than past years, again, quite reasonable given the reduced attendance and capabilities of this year's convention.

We also checked the arcade room. Vix had made good on a plan for 2020, and brought a pinball machine. Earthshaker. It's a late solid state game, and it was in rough shape, but it was also a playable game. bunny_hugger looked at it, and saw the high score table --- it was recently reset, so a mere six million points would get you on --- and declared she would be on the high score table before the convention was over. And with that taunting of the gods we played a couple games and then went for something to eat.

That would be White Castle; there's one in Ypsilanti that was not as close to the hotel as it seemed from Lansing, but still. Also I tried to order my preferred Freestyle Coke drink, Mello Yello Zero Citrus Twist. Trouble is, besides that being a lot of words in a row, is my brain refuses to remember ``Citrus Twist'', and prefers, like, ``Citrus Blast''. And this confused the person taking the order, so badly that she gave up on getting my drink over the speaker and said to just come around and order at the window. I have got to either learn the actual thing or just get Coke Zero Orange instead. Indeed, I did try switching to that and she wouldn't let me. And, getting back to our room to eat, we had to cut unpleasantly short a chat with Pakrat, one of those people we only ever see at conventions, for all we'd have liked to talk longer.


Oh, and were you wondering What's Going On In Mark Trail? What happened between Diana Daggers and Bee Sharp? July - October 2021 gets explained here.


Now let's finish a quick little tour of the Sparks Pinball Museum out in Chesterfield.

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For once in my life I had a good game of Stars and you're going to see it.


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OK so I don't normally do this sort of thing but ... this a photograph inside the men's room. Since we were there last they put real actual doors on the toilet stalls because ??? ????? ?? ????? ?? ???. Meanwhile at our local pinball barcade the men's room stalls don't have doors, just shower curtains that someone steals every couple weeks anyway.


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Advantage of being the only person there? I got to rule the Dialed In daily high score table. The game takes your picture, too, so you get several photos of me not showing my face.


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The guy who owns the games for Sparks is also a collector of signs, like this for the Northville Lanes bowling alley, and lovs sharing it off.


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And here's a sign from Major Magic, a Chuck E Cheese competitor in the pizza-and-animatronics market.


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More signs of characters that I think are from the early Chuck E Cheese days. Not sure and I don't have a photo that gets the sign clearly enough to tell. (Lending the Sparks thing some legitimacy to their 'museum' claim is that most everything has a sign explaining why the thing you're looking at may be of interest, and I genuinely like all that.)


Trivia: Edmond Halley, feeling that Gerardus Mercator got too much credit for the map projection bearing that name, proposed calling it the ``nautical'' projection, in reflection of its most important use. Source: Maps and Civilization: Cartography in Culture and Society, Normal J W Thrower.

Currently Reading: Michigan History, September/October 2021. Editor Emily Allison. Finally found where the bookstore was hiding the magazine. (It was with local magazines, rather than the history/science magazines.)

krazy koati

We'd fight the world so we'd be free

One of the first big things we planned to do, and lost to the pandemic, was Motor City Fur[ry] Con. We'd signed up to run panels and were about to buy our sponsorships when everything shut down. Earlier this year when it looked like people would get vaccinated to stop the pandemic they rescheduled the convention, setting it for Indigenous Peoples Day weekend. And we renewed the offer to run some panels.

Around Labor Day they asked if we were still up for running these panels and it wasn't an easy question. I ended up answering that, provisionally, if the pandemic didn't get significantly worse, we might be all right attending and given that, yes, we'd run panels. And the pandemic continued on, this terrible bleeding ulcer. It's not getting better, but it's also not getting so much worse as to make the necessary steps --- shutting everything down and everybody staying at home until everyone who can take a vaccine gets a vaccine --- politically possible. Either way would make the choice easy so we couldn't even get that.

Still, the convention was there, and drawing closer. And made a major, critical announcement: attendees had to show proof of vaccination. Not just that they'd got their shots, either, but that they'd had three weeks from the last shot, so would be fully vaccinated. We thought about going just for the day, just for the panel I was running. (They took my provisional yes as a definite yes and somehow bunny_hugger never gave an answer so they didn't schedule her panels.) Or would that not count as actually attending, making this the first Motor City Furry Con I'd miss, and the first time bunny_hugger had missed either Motor City or its predecessor con, Further Confusion North? Well, there was no space in the con hotel or in the other hotel, across the street, and with their new location there were no hotels in any reasonable vicinity, which settled that.

And then some new spaces opened up in the con hotel. It would be possible for us to stay in the hotel. We'd have a space to retreat to if we felt things were too crowded. We'd be reasonably confident we were only encountering vaccinated people. We could certainly stay masked too.

So, we did it. We booked a room and finally got sponsorship to attend Motor City Furry Con, and to do something where we'd stay, like, in a hotel, for the first time since the state pinball championships a year ago January.

And that's this story.


Pictures of that will come soon, don't worry. For now, some pictures from my visiting the Sparks Pinball Museum, the day I spent waiting for Sunshine's echocardiogram.

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The bowling alley that houses the Sparks Pinball Museum/arcade. It was about noon and the place was even quieter than you'd figure for that. Seriously; I've been to our local bowling alley early in a midweek afternoon and it was busier than that.


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But terrible news! FunHouse wasn't working. No idea what was wrong, but I trust they wouldn't leave the game off if it weren't serious. Probably just as well. If I were fortunate enough to play it enough to get on the high score table bunny_hugger would be even more envious.


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Pool tables and arcade games in the center of the pinball room. The last time we were there, in March of 2020, they had this long counter running along the center where those games are now.


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Popeye was working, if you can call it working. I had a pretty solid game, too, considering. Notice the backglass of the game has the original game on it.


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Some of the solid-state games, decorated for Halloween.


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And a look at the late-solid-state games, plus a nice big sign telling you where you are.


Trivia: The first person to translate ``La Marseillaise'' into German was Eulogius Schneider, a university friend of Beethoven's. Source: Beethoven: The Universal Composer, Edmund Morris.

Currently Reading: Lost Popeye Volume 13: The Islands of Sunk Sun Acts I and II, Tom Sims, Bela Zaboly. Editor Stephanie Noelle. There's always a certain level of nonsense in these stories but this seems more than usual. Like, Olive Oyl starts out convinced she's a spy but I can't figure if this is all something in her head or if there was a mention at the end of the last story I'd forgotten. Or, there's a good bit where Popeye has Secret Orders, and he finds himself surrounded by dozens of identical Wimpys all asking to see the secret. And then dozens of duplicate Olive Oyls. And even replicas of the hotel clerk. OK, good mystery developing here, so what's the story? ... Well, Wimpy and Olive Oyl explain they hired the detectives who all made themselves up to look like their duplicates. Because they just wanted to know the Secret Orders. And ... what? It's like Sims and Zaboly realized they couldn't follow up on this great idea so they turned it into a punch line at the cost of everybody making even less sense than normal.

krazy koati

Do you remember, Walter, how we said

My mathematics blog's dwindled back to one post a week, but in my defense, ugh. Here's the last couple weeks' worth of things:


Now, let me share pictures from the pinball league finals, just a few days after I told you how finals went. I know, it's hard to synch these pictures up with the events, but remember the days when they were like 16 months out of synch? Back when the pandemic started? This is better than having things to do, I guess.

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The championship table: we had again the traditional curved-glass trophies for the top three finishers in each division. And Winner ribbons to give out to the people who'd been most-improved over the season and best individual game and also worst individual game. Also, earplugs for after the DJ gets started at 9 pm. Also facemasks for people who somehow go out in public without one.


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You can tell how long it's been since bunny_hugger played pinball regularly that she's waiting for the tilt to settle down on the table holding the fan. Yeah, yeah, probably she's just recording a score result. You may notice a bucket underneath the table; that's for when the ceiling leaks.


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TRON? Looks more like TROFF, thank you. I'll be here all thorugh the 80s!


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The Beatles was a surprisingly popular table for competition, although not with me, even though it's maybe the game I most want to play every time I'm there.


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Stepping up to Batman 66 and pondering how to deal with this mess of a game.


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So, someone's got a bit of a hole to dig out of for ball two of Stranger Things.


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The duality of pinball. I got the Winner ribbon for best individual game (an Elvira's House of Pancakes that was startlingly better than the group average) and a loser for not finishing top-three in either division.


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The titanic struggle to determine #1 and #2 positions in the league! And ... on ball three, the score is nine million to five million. On a game where you can usually get about thirty million points just flipping randomly while not looking. You know, sometimes, even the best players just can't put the game together.


Trivia: Plans considered for Chicago's second municipal airport in the 1940s included an airport on stilts above a railroad yard, filling in the wetlands at Lake Calumet, or building an artificial island in Lake Michigan. (Ultimately building at Orchard Place, 15 miles northwest of the city center, won out.) Source: Naked Airport: A Cultural History of the World's Most Revolutionary Structure, Alastair Gordon. (Meigs Field, opened in 1948, was built on an artificial peninsula in Lake Michigan.)

Currently Reading: Lost Popeye Volume 13: The Islands of Sunk Sun Acts I and II, Tom Sims, Bela Zaboly. Editor Stephanie Noelle.

krazy koati

Walter, isn't it a shame the way our little world has changed?

I got up ... well, late, today, but figuring to get to the credit union, get my thing for the car thing notarized, and sent off. No joy, though. While Google Maps was of the opinion the downtown East Lansing branch was open to 3 pm, the branch was of the opinion they closed at 1 pm. So was a man sitting around outside who explained the situation to me after I tried the door (I figured it was a long shot, but, what the heck, I was already there). And then explained it again. And then explained how there'd been a sign for a month saying their hours were changing and I offered that I hadn't been there in a month.

Longer than a month, of course; I don't think I've been to East Lansing since the start of summer. Some stuff has changed. The Jersey Mike's that used to be there is gone, replaced with something called PokeFusion which I assume where all the Lucarios in town eat. The Pita Pit is gone, too, replaced with a cheesesteak place. That really hurts, since they had a variety of vegetarian options and made a filling lunch. Jersey Mike's, nice as it is, has basically one vegetarian hoagie. For want of any other reason to be downtown I went to Flat, Black, and Circular, the used record store. Came out with a DVD of Chip and Dale cartoons at least. And that took long enough that I just tripped past the 15-minute free parking downtown; if I'd been two minutes faster, I'd have got out of the parking lot without paying.

After that I called my parents. My mother had called yesterday to say she was going to take care of the notarized letter thingy. My father has called 42 times in the past three days, leaving messages of ``Hello hello ... Hello? ... Hello? ... HEL-loo? Helooooooo? ... ... ... Good-bye'' at inconvenient times for me to talk. Besides giving them the usual updates and expressing me despair that this insurance stuff will ever be finished --- earning me a pep talk that I neither wanted nor needed; I'm not a good one for receiving pep talks --- my mother wanted to interrogate my statement that I haven't thought of what I want to do next. So while I tried to find a way to chew my own leg off and escaped she narrowed down that what I want in a new job is ... I dunno, something like I had in my old job except maybe I sometimes do some actual mathematics. She warned that a permanent teaching post at a university was probably not likely and, yeah, thanks, knew that going in.

It did get me to articulate something I've realized I liked about my old job. Despite being a tech job, it had no serious ethical problems. It was government-support work, yes, but it was all about making it easier to research, and update, property assessments. I won't deny there are problems with the use of property taxes and that there's racism in how they're applied. But the taxes are needed, and are a reasonable thing to assess, and the records of that should be as accurate and convenient as possible. And absolutely none of it was about encouraging bad-brain habits. Nothing to drive ``engagement'', nothing to make people fear missing out, nothing to gamify anything. Just building web sites where people can find stuff they needed to know, or can correct stuff that's mistaken. And it wasn't a workplace that expected crunch or marathon sessions or anything. Just, work at a reasonable load, report if a deadline is un-reachable. It's hard to figure where I can get a job that's as moral, much less one that's paying a hundred thousand more than my last one.


And now we close off the photos of the Cedar Point trip, back in September. What could come next? Is it the return to abundant photographs of a ten-block area around my house? You'll see ...

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There's the figure our performer warned about! With a bit of flash the scary figure is obvious, as is the abandoned drink cup, but the roller coaster in the background is completely gone.


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Little harvest display set up near one of ValRavn's sideways loops.


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Historical marker about the Pagoda Gift Shop, which used to be in a different location near what's now ValRavn's territory. Apparently before being a gift shop it had been a baggage check (?? ?????? ??? ?????), a post office, rental lockers, and bathrooms. The baggage check is odd because, yes, we've seen you used to drive through the park to get to the Breakers or the Cedars, the two hotels on the point. But then why not check your luggage at the hotel where you were staying? What problem did this luggage check solve?


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Another photograph of Wicked Twister's spire emerging from Wicked Twister's gravestone. The tree and the light in the background work against this being as good as I'd hoped. Hrm.


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Skeletons enjoying one another's company while riding atop the Midway Carousel.


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The 150 Years sign, with skeletons flanking it, by night.


Trivia: During a test one window blew out of LM-5, the lunar module that would become Eagle. Source: Chariots for Apollo: The NASA History of Manned Lunar Spacecraft to 1969, Courtney G Brooks, James M Grimwood, Loyd S Swenson Jr. If I'm reading the notes right this would be the small docking window, above Neil Armstrong's station and used when the ascent stage returned to the Command Module. The Commander had to look up to see how close he was getting to docking. (The Lunar Module Pilot had no such window.)

Currently Reading: Tom and Jerry: The Definitive Guide to Their Animated Adventures, Patrick Brion. Brion has a weird set of errors in describing the Chuck Jones-produced Haunted Mouse, apparently having missed that the plot is Jerry's identical cousin Merlin, the magician, is visiting and has magic powers of hypnosis and telekineses and all. And even weirder at one point identifies Jerry as Jerry's girlfriend.

krazy koati

Walter's name

I found a slender envelope in the mail, from Toyota Financial Services. It was, at last, the duplicate lien release letter for my dead car. I had lost the original long ago, along with my original title. And geting a replacement was far too hard. Toyota Financial Services doesn't answer e-mail, nor Twitter DMs. The local dealer said they couldn't help me any. Their phone line has a two-hour wait every time I call. They say you can press 1 to have them call you back when an operator's free, but they never call back. This is severe enough that if it's not illegal, it should be. There's certainly some offense to reason in a finance company being impossible to contact. But last week I sent them a priority-mail letter, shorn of nearly all human courtesy, saying they were directed to send me a lien release notice and what do you know but that finally, finally worked. They didn't send me the requested e-mail letting me know they were working on this, which shows what I get for having asked them to please do that.

I was just scanning it to send to Copart when they e-mailed me to say they needed more documents. Particularly, they needed a letter of authorization to apply for a new title. Signed by me and by my mother, who may or may not be on the original title. I don't know, and somehow they can't tell either. The writing suggested they needed a single letter, signed by me and my mother, and notarized. I don't even know if a notary will attest to only one signature on a document.

So I called Copart for clarification, and after being hung up while on hold, I called Copart for clarification again. And this started an adventure of an hour-long phone call beginning with Copart claiming that, actually, they couldn't apply to New Jersey for a replacement title on my behalf after all. So you can imagine what a cheerful, happy, unstressed mood I've been in. But you can also infer that this didn't end after that early, dismal news. After a lot of time of the guy tapping on keyboards and asking why that tab just closed he said that they do need notarized letters from me and my mother. But they don't have to be the same letter. And they aren't sure if they need the letter from my mother because somehow nobody can tell anybody whether my mother's name is on the original title.

But they've sent my mother a letter explaining what they need, and an overnight shipping label so they can get it back real fast. Also a similar one for me and I figure tomorrow to go to the credit union and, I hope, deal with that. They think this should resolve all that they need, and they can then send me a check for the insurance settlement and I can put the sad story of my dead car behind me.

I can't, of course. I know that this will never be behind me. I will be dealing with this to my dying day, which draws 22 months closer every day I have to deal with this, and bunny_hugger will spend the rest of her sad widowed life trying to deal with this. I'm ready to abandon the insurance settlement now if it means I don't have to produce documents, find documents, read e-mails about documents, or get phone calls about documents.


Let's finish looking at the last ride of the night, which doesn't yet exhaust all my pictures of that Cedar Point trip.

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Skyhawk swing near the peak of one of its arcs. It doesn't go all the way upside-down but it's very good at making you think it just might.


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And here's a glimpse inside the operator booth for Skyhawk, taken after the last ride of the night (ours) was done.


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Ride operators putting Skyhawk to bed for the night.


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Skyhawk is near the former Town Hall Museum, which is off to the left of this picture. The gazebo here is the center of the Vaguely Old Timey Town area, wedged between the Frontier Trail and most of the Western-themed rides like Maverick and Steel Vengeance.


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Reflections in the water near the Snake River Falls shoot-the-chutes ride.


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Photograph I was trying to take of Millennium Force from the Frontier Trail. One of the haunted-house performers, walking back from their station, warned that I wasn't going to get a good photo of the figure here with this lighting. And what figure is that? ...


Trivia: President Franklin Roosevelt was presented with the first Executive typewriter off the IBM production line. Source: The Iron Whim: A Fragmented History of Typewriting, Darren Wershler-Henry. (It was capable of proportional spacing!)

Currently Reading: Tom and Jerry: The Definitive Guide to Their Animated Adventures, Patrick Brion.

krazy koati

But Walter, my old friend, where are you now?

Another week on my humor blog with MiSTings, Talkartoons repeats, and an original short bit that isn't about how annoyed I am at Tom Batiuk's comic strips Crankshaft and Funky Winkerbean. I am SO ANNOYED at Tom Batiuk's comic strips Crankshaft and Funky Winkerbean. Here's what I ran there, though.


And now we draw ever-closer to the end of our day at Cedar Point. Hope you enjoy under-lit pictures!

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Waiting for Millennium Force as the sun tries to set! Looks like not much of a wait at all from here, does it? Also, I saw someone wearing a clip-on tail, the kind you see at furry conventions, getting off the ride, but wasn't fast enough to photograph them.


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There's a train going, plus a couple people walking where it almost looks like they're on the track. I like it.


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Hey, it's a monster mash! Band performing on that stage where the lonely DJ had been a couple hours earlier.


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Can't be easy to design a costume with that many loose parts that doesn't get stuck in a trombone or interfere with the guitar strings or whatnot .


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Silhouette of Magnum XL-200 against the setting sun; this was one of the string of walk-on rides we got after abandoning Millennium Force (which apparently never got back up the rest of the night).


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And then to Gemini, running both the red and blue trains and two trains of those, so it had no line at all.


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A look back at a turnaround for Gemini's red train; you can see it come up the hill there.


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bunny_hugger approaching the launch station for Cedar Creek Mine Ride, as rendered in a survival/horror video game.


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We got a front seat ride! And pretty near a solo ride at that.


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The front seat gave me the rare chance to photograph the shed that the train passes through to start (I believe it's where they store extra trains) as well as the lift hill. Top Thrill Dragster's the narrow yellow loop on the left, and Millennium Force the wider, purple loop on the right.


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Looking out at a quite nice sunset with, I'm guessing, Venus in the sky there.


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Skyhawk, the giant swing ride, loading up for its penultimate ride of the night.


Trivia: At the start of the Republic the English Puritans attempted a major calendar reform, among other things restarting the epoch, with 1649 AD becoming the first year of freedom. Source: Marking Time: The Epic Quest to Invent the Perfect Calendar, Duncan Steel. (To my annoyance Steel doesn't mention what the other things were, but does say the Quaker tradition of numbering rather than naming the months follows this tradition.)

Currently Reading: Tom and Jerry: The Definitive Guide to Their Animated Adventures, Patrick Brion.

krazy koati

Yes, Walter was my mate

I didn't ever talk much about pinball league finals, for the season that started in January 2020 and just ended last month. There wasn't much to say, from my perspective. I went in to the double-elimination, best-of-three-matches tournament sixth-seeded, I think it was. My first match I was up against RED on one of his favorite games, Stranger Things, and lost handily. For the second game I picked one of my favorites, Beatles, and lost handily. Thus I went down to the second-chance bracket; if I lost one more match I'd be out for good.

So I went playing JAB, on Game of Thrones, and lost handily. Since I'd lost the first game I had the pick of second and went to Beatles again even though he's quite good on that. I am too, normally. This time around neither of us was any good at it, but he was less not-good than me. I was eliminated a second time, and without ever taking a win on anything.

This left me with nothing to do but sit around collecting results and telling people where to go. Which, must say, this sort of tournament needs, and which fits my temperament well. And so the long sorry season 14 ended with me in either 7th or 8th place.

bunny_hugger, meanwhile, had a considerably better night. She beat JAB, quite the feat, and a relief since if she hadn't we would have faced each other in the second chance bracket. Everyone else loves it when we're matched against each other. She would lose a round, to RED I think it was, but she had good success in the second-chance brackets anyway. She also had convincing wins, with --- I think it was --- every round having at least one game where she got to walk off her third ball. (That is, she scored high enough the first two balls that the other player couldn't beat her with all three balls.) Unfortunately in another match with RED she didn't win, and she finished in fourth place for the season. She wouldn't take home one of the trophies we had just brought from home, but, it is her best finish at our home league. And her play against so many of the league's unquestioned best players should rest any doubts about how good a player she is.

Finals night ended fairly early for this sort of thing, not long after 11 pm. Our experience would lead us to expect an end after midnight, maybe after 1 am, which would clash with our bar's pandemic-times 1 am closing hour. For these finals, bunny_hugger disallowed playing extra balls, a break with tradition that must say really sped things up. Don't know if we'll keep that change for the next season, the one that began just this Tuesday.


Have some Cedar Point pictures. Only five today, to balance out there being seven yesterday.

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One of those unexpected moments: we happened to be at Cedar Point the 10th anniversary of the death of roller coaster designer Ron Toomer, who was behind Gemini and many other roller coasters of the 60s through the 80s, and was one of the first names of ride design that roller coaster fandom knew.


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I think this is a new attraction at the County Fear walkthrough area, outside Town Hall. It's not a working midway game but you can imagine the challenge of waking a cat.


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The Singing Beaver is an old familiar disused animatronic at these things. The figure was left over from the old Paddlewheel Excursions ride and I'd wondered if it might have been pressed into service for the new Paddlewheel Excursions^W^W Snake River Expedition ride.


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Better look at the animatronic beaver, who (like all the attractions at the County Fear) doesn't work.


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But here's the shelves full of rats, in as good shape as they ever are.


Trivia: The United States Office of Price Administration froze the maximum values of office-equipment prices in March 1942. They were not allowed to change significantly until September 1946, when prices rose about 12 percent. Source: Before The Computer: IBM, NCR, Burroughs, and Remington Rand and the Industry They Created, 1865 - 1956, James W Cortada.

Currently Reading: Tom and Jerry: The Definitive Guide to Their Animated Adventures, Patrick Brion. Brion suggests some gender-ambiguity in Jerry, on the grounds of a couple scenes where, like, he feigns being a woman interrupted in the bath to confuse Tom. It reads to me just as screwball character stuff, but I admit we use the same stuff in Bugs Bunny to argue for his gender-fluidity. Feel like there's substance to the idea of Bugs playing with male and female roles, though, while Jerry just ... doesn't have it.

PS: My Little 2021 Mathematics A-to-Z: Torus, about that famous shape, and some talk about board games and stuff.

krazy koati

Behind your garden gate?

We had a spate of home repairs Monday, just the sort of thing to fill up the day with the feeling that you can't do anything else.

One was plumbing. When I was using the shower to clean the shower last week I caused a leak through the kitchen ceiling, in a new spot from where we last had a leak. So we called the plumber and between when I called and when the appointment was we got a new issue in. That would be a steady and rather loud gurgling from the drain in the basement.

They spent a good while examining the leak. The verdict there was that we had little problems in the caulking around the bathtub. This is fair as the caulking had been consumed by mildew years ago. But a little spot was channeling water right to a gap between the bathtub and the floor, right where it could come down into the kitchen. The plumber offered to let me just re-caulk it myself, and save on the labor charge, but I'm also aware how long it would take me to do a twenty-minute job myself. So he scraped the caulking away from the front half of the tub and laid new beads down, that we're to leave to dry until ... about when this posts, actually, so I hope I remembered to take a bath rather than a shower this morning. (Remind me about this, please.) Also maybe put a towel on the edge of the bathtub to catch stray water. And maybe use a magnetic shower curtain to keep a steady barrier between water and the floor over there. Good steps, all. This will all become academic when we do the big kitchen remodel ... someday.

The gurgling, though? Well, that had stopped by the time the plumbers arrived, of course. It's almost certainly inadequate gas venting in our pipe. This is caused by our house being built in 1928[1], and so not up to any known code. They can drill out the old drain and put in a modern one, with proper venting and backsplash thingies so that we can't get sewer gas seeping back in the house and all. That'll be, depending on how hard our house is to work with, something like $800 to $1600. The plumber recommended that as long as water is still draining all right we let it slide. He thinks the problem was aggravated by how we were getting a steady lot of rain last week, with water divided between our sump pump and our drain. As it's not raining now that's why the gurgling stopped before he could get in.

[1] Lasnerian 1928. We've held that as our house's construction date, but we've seen old real estate listings giving its build date as years from 1925 through 1930 so someone's approximating things somewhere.

The electrician, now, he was in because the outdoor electric sockets had stopped working. I know what you're thinking: just pop the GFCIs and they run again. Well, I did that. I also checked the circuit breaker and I even shone a flashlight on the outlets, which didn't help. So that's why I called in the electrician. While I waited inside he did ... something .. to both the outlets, with a power drill and I'm not sure. But it didn't take long and everything was good after that. So we now enjoy, we hope, a house that's more intact than it had been two days ago.


And now more Cedar Point photos from my birthday trip.

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Historical marker for Blue Streak, including some description of what makes it a great ride, including that it's a wooden roller coaster. There's some fine work being done in that last sentence about how the Blue Streak ``has been honored as a Coaster Classic by the American Coaster Enthusiasts''. It's literally true, as ACE honors as a Coaster Classic roller coasters operated in the old-fashioned ways, particularly, with a single lap bar across both seats and without seat belts or dividers. Blue Streak put those in several years ago and so ACE withdrew the Coaster Classic designation.


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DJ Doctor Scream, running his dance party, before an audience of ... nobody who'd stopped to listen to the music. I feel so bad for the guy.


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A look back at DJ Doctor Scream's stage, on the left, and the great pile that is the ValRavn drop coaster on the right.


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Plastic drink cup that was abandoned in the queue for Iron Dragon somehow. It looks like the ones from the indoor restaurants so we have to suppose someone just made off with their not-yet-finished Coke Zero and figured this was as good a place as any to leave it for cleanup.


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Looking out at the return path for Iron Dragon. The great dip down there is for the transfer track used to bring a train out of service. The storage bay is underneath the platform here. I'm not sure how they put a train back into service.


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1902-1972 was a slow seventy years for roller coasters at Cedar Point. (The sesquicentennial drink cups don't try to list every roller coaster, and they have different runs with different sets.)


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Hey, some love for Wicked Twister on my cup here. And you can see Millennium Force getting in right on time there with its 2000 debut.


Trivia: For a formal dinner party, the oyster or shellfish fork is the tiniest fork, and set on the far right, the tines resting atop the soup spoon. Source: The New York Public Library Desk Reference, Editors Paul Fargis, Sheree Bykofsky.

Currently Reading: Tom and Jerry: The Definitive Guide to Their Animated Adventures, Patrick Brion. Brion also talks a good bit about Fred Quimby's leadership and management of the M-G-M animation department although without ever saying anything he did, and quoting that line about how the only thing Quimby brought to the cartoon-making is that his name looked great on a title card. I'm genuinely interested in learning how someone who's been completely ignored in animation history might have been more important than that, but I don't see Brion saying what Quimby did besides not get in the way of Hanna and Barbera and Tex Avery and all.

krazy koati

Do you remember, Walter, smoking cigarettes

And while I have events to describe, I don't have time to write anything right now, somehow. Here are more Cedar Point pictures to enjoy instead.

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From the GateKeeper queue I noticed, as though for the first time, you could stand in the plane of Wicked Twister. So, uh, sorry I never took this photograph before but at least I got it now.


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GateKeeper train leaving the station and getting ready for the lift hill.


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Lift hill on GateKeeper positioned against the clouds so that the composition looks like the flag of a Caribbean nation.


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The gryphon head at the top of a GateKeeper train. You can see why everyone figured that gryphon statue was going to be a decoration for this ride, instead of being hidden for years, put in the Town Hall Museum, and eventually set outside Iron Dragon.


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As we were about to ride they stopped the action for a good ten minutes or so, to transfer another train --- a third one --- onto the tracks. Some people grumbled, since it's not like the line was long as it was (GateKeeper has amazing rider capacity), but probably that third train would be appreciated by riders in an hour.


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Ride operator at the controls as the transfer track slides into place.


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The new train's ready to roll in and the guy waiting for the next seat row over over approves!


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In the GateKeeper gift shop they had this bot, one of the animatronic props from Diaster Transport, the bobsled coaster torn down to make room for this ride. It's certainly the best view I've ever had of the bot and we were both surprised it was in this good a shape.


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Looking at other people's anniversary bricks. Here's someone with some love for Iron Dragon.


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And here's someone who's there for the carousels and roller coasters.


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More skeletons looking around the place.


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Blue Streak had its seasonal secondary name, plus ghost decorations.


Trivia: Samuel Adams inherited his brewery from his father. It soon went bust, leaving him in debt the rest of his life. Source: Signing Their Lives Away: The Fame and Misfortune of the Men Who Signed the Declaration of Independence, Denise Kiernan, Joseph D'Agnese.

Currently Reading: Tom and Jerry: The Definitive Guide to Their Animated Adventures, Patrick Brion. A circa 1990 guide to all the cartoon shorts, of the kind you just can't make anymore because we have inadequate Wikipedia entries for cartoons. Brion is of the impression that Mammy Two-Shoes was a beloved character, rather than the one we kind of hope will get out of the short before it gets really racist. (Also is certain she's the maid, which I guess is fair and maybe he's going from scripts or something. As a kid I always assumed she was the housewife, which I think is neither provable nor disprovable from text.) Brion is also of the belief that Nibbles/Tuffy was an enhancement to the series which, uh, have you seen his cartoons? Seriously?

krazy koati

In the thunder and the rain?

My mathematics blog may not be getting more stuff published, but it is getting stuff of more substance published. At least some of them are more substantial. The last couple pieces have been:


And now, please enjoy more Cedar Point photography.

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Trick-or-treat station set up in Kiddie Kingdom. The thing is Vaguely Hieroglyphs with space aliens because it used to be part of a Halloweekends walk-through haunted house, The Secret Of The Pyramid. The secret: ancient astronauts, of course.


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The corn maze they brought in was taller this year! I remember seasons it was named for Linus for some reason and even the little kids could see over the edge.


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MaxAir is the big ride swing in front and it hasn't run much this season. I guess it's payback for the season MaxAir's crew was snickering at SkyHawk (another, but different, big swing ride) when that was down most of the season. I like the tangent line MaxAir's support makes for the Giant Wheel.


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View of the Giant Wheel, several of the flagpoles behind GateKeeper, and the forward tower of Wicked Twister. I include this as a first step toward making a minimalist abstraction of this part of the park.


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Wicked Twister seen from its front. Realized I didn't have any pictures of this from our farewell tour and I'm glad there's not much that's obviously changed about it yet.


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Wicked Twister's backwards spire next to Windseeker.


Trivia: At Christmas 1775 a royal postal official in New York City, noting there had been a lack of mail for some time, formally closed the British Post Office in America. Source: The American Mail: Enlarger of the Common Life, Wayne E Fuller. (The ``Constitutional Post'' started by a newspaper publisher and taken over in 1775 by Benjamin Franklin was handling colonial mails instead.)

Currently Reading: Lost Popeye Volume 12: The Seagoosk Tom Sims, Bela Zaboly. Editor Stephanie Noelle. This started out so much fun when it was just about the rubber goose and then that part gets even more completely forgotten than usual (not even a mention at the end of, like, whether the rubber goose exists) so the rest can be about Popeye punching Japanese warships and, in the end, getting a call from a realistically-drawn version of every kid of 1942's governmental hero, Navy Secretary Frank Knox.