krazy koati

If you want to follow me

We woke Saturday to find it had snowed, but it was not still snowing. So the weather was not so bad as we'd feared. We didn't rush downstairs for breakfast before that closed, and went instead to a Tim Horton's that was harder than it should have been to reach, because the side street leading to it wasn't cleared. Bad omen for the drive to AND and JJ's house. But they still had hash browns (breakfast service had just ended) and I was able to get an egg-bacon-and-cheese sandwich without bacon, which is what we'd wanted. The drive, nominally about ten minutes through county roads, took maybe twice that, and the roads were not well-cleared. But we got there in plenty of time.

We tried to park on the poorly-plowed road that the house was on, and bunny_hugger declared the car was stuck and got very cross with me for having said it would be fine. She got the car out, and drove across the intersecting street --- and, it transpired, the county line --- to the paved, better-cleared road where everyone else was parking. And talked about the day with the just-arrived GRV and MWS.

Had it not been for MJV's withdrawal, for back pains, bunny_hugger would have faced GRV in the first round. Which could be great for her: GRV had earlier declared he was going to just show up, plunge every ball, and walk away with the winnings for showing up at all. Even if this was bluster --- and a lot of what GRV says is bluster --- he's ... a ferocious competitor, if he doesn't lose his temper. If he does, he doesn't get it back, and he tilts away games he could win. MWS meanwhile talked about how he was finding a place where he could go to safely sulk about his performance. We would get inside for about an hour of warmup time before the tournament. I refrained from playing anything too much. I have observed how much I fade in tournaments, and while it's worth getting in some warmup time and some time spent finding skill shots and the like, there's no sense wasting good energy on games that don't count. I tried to think more about getting in a winning mindset.

Everyone except MJV checked in. The weather did not cause any players to miss, and the alternates sadly accepted this and asked if they were allowed to play games --- Stranger Things, Indiana Jones, and Dracula --- which weren't in the tournament. Not unless there were no games going on in that area, to avoid interrupting tournament players. But, that's all right. There'd be time.

PH called things together. Michigan is a very active competitive-pinball state. There were over 900 unique players and somewhere around 400 events for 2019. The great number of players and events is why there are 24 competitors for the state championship; less active states, such as New Jersey, get a mere 16. Michigan is busy enough it wouldn't be ridiculous to expand the field to 32. BIL would later work out that he had been at over a hundred events in 2019. He estimated that bunny_hugger (and thus, I) had been at seventy or so. We had the fourth(?)-largest prize jackpot, paid for by the International Flipper Pinball Association's one-dollar-per-player excise at every sanctioned tournament, of all the states and provinces of North America. He laid down some of the rules, and then we were on to the tournament.

I went in as 12th seed, dislodged from my longstanding 13th place by MJV's withdrawal. My first opponent: KYL, who I had only a vague idea who he was. He plays in a lot of Kalamazoo events, but I'd only seen him at the new Year's Eve tournament. I'm the high seed, so I get to pick the first game, and choose Fathom. My first ball is my first house ball, coming out of the plunger, hitting a bumper, and going straight down the center. But I recover, and end up doubling KYL's score. After the first game, the loser gets pick of game (or, if they'd really like, position). He picks Grauniads of the Galaxy. He's a specialist in the game. This is the Rocket Raccoon game. I'm not a specialist, but it usually treats me very well.

Grauniads has something like eight modes, corresponding to important characters from the (first) movie. I pick Quill's Quest, a mode in which you have to complete a lot of shots, but which, if you do, gives you an enormous bonus, and one that you collect every ball after the completion. KYL picks a less difficult, but less lucrative, mode to start. I finish Quill's Quest the first ball, and so my second and third balls have a bonus that starts at 25 million and can only get larger. He's beaten. It's a best-of-seven round, but his specialty game has betrayed him, and he can't pick it again; after this, he's playing to catch up, always a bad spot to play from.

So his next pick is Neptune, an electromechanical whose theme is collecting cards while King Neptune looks in. KYL has it nailed down: you shoot the targets corresponding to all the many playing cards, and then repeatedly shoot the scoop that's lit for 50,000 points. He puts in a score of 655,840, noteable because the scoreboard shows the hundred-thousands with a special light, and the 600,000 light is burned out. (There's a sign warning about that on the table). Me? I have a lousy game; I've never figured out how to play Neptune, and I put up a fair-for-me 49,430. It's my first loss, but: I don't feel beaten. I figure, I just have to get two wins before he gets three.

I pick Lord of the Rings. This is set on Hard Mode. I know what Hard Mode means. I suspect that most other players do not. It means, for example, that starting the various character modes, where a healthy number of points are, is not automatic the way it is in every Lord of the Rings game on location everywhere. It also means that the lanes which you shoot to light the ball lock (for Two Towers Multiball) can also be unlit, making what is ordinarily the easiest multiball in the game into a challenge. Despite my awareness of these, I put up a poor game: only 2.8 million points. KYL, less ready for all this, has a worse game, finishing a whisker behind me. I have my third win in the best-of-seven.

He picks Title Fight. I bite my lip rather than thank him for it. I suspect he was picking it as a coin-flip game, one that he'd have an even chance of beating me on. I feel confident in this game, though. I manage a plunge right into the upper playfield, and then again, and get a multiball award out of this. The multiball jackpot on Title Fight is not obvious, but I know what it is: hit each of ten little standing targets in the lower playfield. And, for a wonder, I do this, getting myself started with about four million points, in a game where two million points normally wins. He tries, but he can't get the multiball, and can't get the upper-punch loop that would be a second-best strategy. I don't have to play my last ball.

And ... there it is. I've been to state championship several times, but I have never won my first round. Getting a first-round win has been my ambition, and now? The rest of the day is gravy.

So a thing about Title Fight. And many games from that era. It is possible to tilt-through, shake a game hard enough that the tilt bob does not stop swinging before the game starts the next player's ball, and thus giving the next player a tilt they have not earned. Or a warning that they're on the verge of tilting, unfair as shaking the game is the original method of controlling a pinball, and is part of the game's strategy. There are compensations for tilt-throughs, but they're clumsy. So on games of this era the two players start four games, playing as players one and three, and plunging off players two and four.

So bunny_hugger's first round. She's playing PH. He's a better player than her. But she's beaten him surprisingly often in Fremont tournaments. And, as he points out, he's the tournament director. He's going to be constantly distracted by people asking for rulings, for balls to be unstuck, for rules clarifications, everything. Her case is dire but far from hopeless.

And they go to Title Fight. bunny_hugger spent her precious morning hours measuring the skill shot, to get the shot that just goes into the upper playfield. The plunge is not there now. PH hasn't got it either. Except that as player two or player four? They hit it perfectly. You know, when it doesn't count for anything. bunny_hugger tosses off a casual plunge and hits the upper playfield perfectly, and waves her hand and yelps with delight at the absurdity.

PKS, playing next to her, flinches at the unexpected noise, and loses his ball.

bunny_hugger is mortified. PKS is furious. PH steps up, working out what precisely happened. PKS asserts that the noise caused him to lose the ball. This entitles him to a compensation ball. (If you wonder how we can take the word of someone about why he lost his ball, well, competitive pinball is still in the stage where people are trusted to assess their situation and report it honestly. There is not yet enough money to have referees watching each game.)

Still, bunny_hugger feels awful and she tells PH that he should give her a yellow card, a warning for unsporting conduct; multiple yellow cards can become a red card and eviction from the event. PH says he does not want to do that yet, and asks whether she's apologized to PKS. She has tried, but PKS is furious and yells at her for a moment's carelessness. It's shocking, completely out of character for him. She will avoid him the rest of the day, until he's able to accept an apology. This wouldn't be until shortly before he was leaving, when bunny_hugger thought would be her last chance. By then he's almost surprised to have the subject brought up again.

PKS would win the game, with the compensation ball. But he was already down by three games when the incident happened, which explains some of the intensity of his anger. He has a rough day, falling from 9th seed --- he had lost eighth seed, and a first-round bye, in one of the last tournaments of the year --- to, ultimately, 22nd place.

bunny_hugger wonders later about PH's declaration. He refused to give her a yellow card ``yet'', implying ... was it likely she would ever shout something at this or any pinball tournament again, ever? Maybe if she won Pinburgh, but that's it. His asking whether she had apologized; what would that matter, other than to prove to anyone who didn't know her that she knew what went wrong and was making amends for it? I think it might be as simple as he's friends with bunny_hugger and PKS and doesn't want them to fight, especially over an accident. But also ... it wasn't his place to make any ruling. He was in the midst of a series against bunny_hugger; any rulings should have been made by, or at least approved by, one of the backup officials, such as BIL. But why did he not declare that?

He tells her to take a minute and compose herself. She takes it. But she's devastated. She hasn't got any playing spirit in her. She goes on to lose the round, four games to one. She might have in any case. In 2019 she went 7-22 against him in events where they both competed. (This is not all head-to-head play; just, like, she finished 9th in a tournament where he finished 10th.) (Also, I note, in the last six months of 2019 their record was a much more competitive 5-8. I told her the start of 2019 was a slump. The last three months of 2019 they were 3-3.) It's devastating, though. I try to rally her spirits, as I always do, and I fail, as ever. The only person who can restore her spirits after something like this is HMZ, who brings this Socratic zen approach to her self-doubts. He isn't there. He's somewhere back in Lansing, possibly at work. I can ask myself what HMZ would do, but I don't know.

And there's no time. We're on to the next round.

Trivia: The 1882 proto-World's-Series between National League champion Chicago and American Association champion Cincinnati was abandoned after the teams split the first two games. More attention went to the contest between Chicago and the runner-sup in the National League, the Providence Grays. Source: A Game of Inches: The Story Behind the Innovations that Shaped Baseball, Peter Morris.

Currently Reading: Cataloging the World: Paul Otlet and the Birth of the Information Age, Alex Wright.


PS: Looking close at one Lakeside Park ride here.

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Disused ticket booth outside the Loop-O-Plane ride.


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And here's the Loop-O-Plane in full swing. NOte bunny_hugger not riding it. Also the Dragon coaster behind that.


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Minimum height sign for the Loop-O-Plane. Most of the park's rides have these kinds of homemade (or at least looking-like-homemade) cartoon design.

krazy koati

My name is Tommy and I became aware this year

I had a very good competitive pinball year, in 2019, and that started the day before the state championship when I tied for third place in the pre-championship tournament. There would be a pre-championship tournament the day before this year's championship too. This would be a simple progressive-strikes tournament, in which you get from zero to three strikes depending on your finish in group games, and you finish playing after collecting at least nine strikes. This would also be my first chance since Frostyfest to play any of the games at AND's place, so it would offer valuable intelligence.

It would also be basically everyone else's chance. AND had scheduled practice time on his games the Saturday before, when I was in New Jersey. But a major ice and freezing-rain storm swept through Michigan and he cancelled that rather than let people risk their lives on the road getting there. But there wasn't a sensible makeup day. This would be everyone's chance to get some practice time in. AND and his partner JJ hosted, with JJ putting an extraordinary effort into providing food, from snacks through to burritos. And much of it vegetarian too; it's great to be able to just go up to the buffet and eat without closely examining things. The one weird oversight was they didn't get any diet sodas. I guess I understand people thinking zero-calorie sodas taste ``weird'', but I don't understand choosing to drink that many calories just to have flavored water. When we drove back to our hotel I watched for any convenience stores where we might get our own pop in the morning. There were not many; it was mostly minor roads between AND and JJ's place and the hotel. But also in the morning the snow would turn out to be bad enough we just wanted to get to AND and JJ's place safely and weren't much for side trips.

25 people, all told, came to the event. Not everyone who was in the state championship. JRA, DAD (JRA's father), and CST attracted my attention by not being there. A couple of people who were alternates were there. As was KEC, who was so low-ranked that a shocking number of people would have to not show up at the last minute for her to play. But it's great to see her out and playing again, after several months of her being absent from competitive events. And, you know, given the weather? It could happen.

The important and most wonderful thing is that bunny_hugger and I were never put in a group together. So we were spared jokes about the homewrecker matchup and neither of us had to beat the other. bunny_hugger even started with a win, on Gruaniads of the Galaxy. This beat PH, whom she was slated to play in the first round on Saturday, as well as JB, her Lansing-league rival. Also the guy I was slated to play in the first round of the championship. After this emotionally grand start, though, she had a last-place finish on the 1970s Playboy, not helped by the injustice of the game refusing to register a scoop shot she had made. Then a second-place finish in a three-player group, on Jackbot, against RLM and AND. And then she got put in a killer group, against AJG, AJR, and MSS on Transformers. Any of her opponents was a strong candidate for state champion; only AJR didn't have a first-round bye for the championship and that just because he didn't play enough. And Transformers is a frightfully hard game, with a very tight tilt. She expected a bloodbath and, yeah, that's what I would expect too.

And yet. She decided she was just going to shoot for lit shots and not try any strategy to start the lucrative but risky multiballs. And this worked. She came within a whisker of taking first place, and she got on the high-score table with the achievement of a nine-way combo. She didn't realize she had done that and, yeah, making nine major shots in a row without interruption is amazing on any game. On this it's even more amazing.

Still, she was averaging more than one strike per round, a rough average. The next game: Attack From Mars, an old familiar one. She took third place, earning two strikes. This put her at seven strikes. She had to get first or second place on her next game, which was ... the newest game in the world, Stern's Stranger Things, based on the 80s game. She's played it a couple of times, but hasn't got much experience (of course, who has? The game was released not three weeks ago) and the rules are still being discovered. Possibly written. She took a third place, just enough to knock her out, and leave her in the four-way tie for 16th in the tournament. After her second-place finish in the New Year's Eve progressive-strikes tournament it felt like a comedown. But, as she had been pointing out to a disheartened MWS, one tournament really doesn't tell you much about what the next tournament would be like. She had finished dead last in the Silver Balls tournament only to get a final-four finish at Fremont and a second-place finish on New Year's Eve. State Finals could be anything. And she did have that win against the formidable PH.

And me? Well, I was disappointed that Stranger Things was there. It wouldn't be in the state championship --- the game's programming is too much in beta for that --- but to make space for it, and some other new games, AND had removed Hotdoggin'. This is a 1980 skiing-themed game that I had gotten the hang on, and figured would be one of my go-to games for the tournament. There were some other go-to games, but I'd really have liked to have this one back.

My tournament started out against AJH, AND, and BIL, all people with first-round byes, and on Transformers. I took third place, but only because BIL did not have any idea how easily the game would tilt and his game went down in flames. My second round was against RLM, AJG, and EAG. RLM and AJG I know, and know they're better than me. EAG is one of the emerging Ann Arbor competitive scene; he was merely 48th ranked in Michigan for the year, but he also only started playing in mid-August. But the game was Fathom, a mermaid-themed early-solid-state and while AJG creamed everyone on it, I gave him a run for the money. I had three strikes after two rounds, not where I'd like to be, but manageable.

Then on to Stranger Things, against RED and the guy I was scheduled to play first round Saturday. I was the only one to have a fair first ball. They were the ones to have good second and third balls, and I took two strikes. Then to Strikes and Spares, an early solid state game. The secret here is finding either the scoop on the right side or the spinner on the left side of the table. I almost had that, and got second place again. I really needed a win, or better two wins, to finish well in the tournament, but consistent second-place finishes would be all right.

My next game: Title Fight, against MWS, PH, and JEK. This is an early 90s Gottleib game, meaning that its scoring is bonkers and arbitrary. It also means that you can always bring the ball to a stop by just holding the flipper up. It's got a tricky ball plunge, but I was aware of that and had practiced, finding the plunge that would send the ball into play safely, ideally into this little upper playfield that's very good to get. PH started off with a plunge that rocketed the ball into the outlane. I had a solid first ball, and then nothing the second or third balls. Everyone but PH overtook me, and this would be his only last-place finish of the day. He spent some of the evening experimenting with the plunger and finding just how to launch this ball.

This left me at eight strikes: I would continue this game only as long as I finished in first place. My next match was on Attack From Mars, against AJR and JD. AJR could play Attack From Mars for years, if he chose. But, you know? He put up a fair, for the table's difficulty, score of 800 million. (The game scores very high). I could reach that, if I didn't fumble the ball. And I didn't fumble the ball. I made it through to the next round. I was still in the do-or-die situation, but I was finally starting a winning streak.

The next game was Playboy, against BIL and EAG again, plus PAT. The game has the simplicity of late 70s games: you need to hit the five targets that correspond to keys to the Playboy Mansion, and repeat. There's other stuff but it doesn't much matter. If you can manage this right-orbit shot into a left scoop, you're pretty much gold. I can't manage this shot, and takes two strikes. I'm knocked out, one round after bunny_hugger, and dropped into a tie for 13th place with MWS, who's worrying about his fall from third-seed.

The tournament goes on, taking twelve rounds in all. (I was knocked out in the 7th). AND wins, an outcome that would make sense even if these were not his own games played in his home. EAG takes second place, a sign of how tough the Ann Arbor scene is going to make it for the rest of us in 2020. AJR, AJH, and AJG take the next several spots.

BIL, knocked out with me, says that his strategy for Saturday is going to be ``don't play anyone whose name starts with A''. He's not wrong. All of Michigan's state champions since the modern era of competitive play began in 2014 have been from the killer A's: AND twice, AJG twice, ADM (who's not in the championship this year) and AJH once each. And AJR, who won third place in all of Pinburgh for 2019, is who I'd bet on to win this championship.

We spend some time playing, trying to get intelligence on just how the pinball games do play. I put attention on Title Fight. Its rules are quirky and its plunge is dangerous. It could save me. Fathom, too, which is also a lot of fun to play. Seawitch, the table on which the modern Beatles game is based, ought to be a go-to game, but I don't feel confident on it. Dirty Harry, Aerobatics, Strikes and Spares, Freedom ... these I come to feel are going to help me tomorrow, if anything can.

We don't stick around until AND and JJ are ready to go to bed. It's already snowing. We'll want a full night's sleep. And be ready to deal with whatever snow we see in the morning.

Trivia: In the 1870s Macy's department store in Manhattan opened a restaurant, leasing space to a caterer who provided cold food made off-site. Source: Service and Style: How the American Department Store fashioned the Middle Class, Jan Whitaker.

Currently Reading: Cataloging the World: Paul Otlet and the Birth of the Information Age, Alex Wright.

PS: How All Of 2019 Treated My Mathematics Blog, more of me looking at my writing instead of actually writing. And yet these kinds of posts are always popular. Go figure.


PPS: At Lakeside Amusement Park, looking at the things we passed on the way in but from a different angle now.

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Just west of Kiddieland is the area of the park we'd first entered, with the Ferris wheel (note the partially script-Neon logo), the still-as-of-2020 unnamed, unopened roller coaster, and the drop tower.


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Closer look at the unnamed Zyklon roller coaster and, beside it, the Heart Flip ride; I don't know whether that was ever opened but it was closed off by roller coaster construction when we visited.


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Close-up on that water fountain we kept passing and that I kept finding awfully interesting.

krazy koati

Drinking by the lighthouse

And now let me share the contents of a full-up humor blog for the past week. If you weren't reading these things before, you can read them now. Or even later. It's fun how that works.

And now, let me give you a lot of pictures of The Whip at Lakeside Amusement Park.

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Peering through two of the barely-translucent circular discs outside Lakeside's Whip.


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A look from the Whip over to the Kiddieland area; the Royal Grove is the white building on the left there, and you can see a line outside the ticket booth.


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Overhanging patio outside the Whip, with a view of their stylish ride stained-glass W.


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bunny_hugger admiring the patio and the Whip's W logo.


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The overhang's patterend floor tiles, which have taken some damage. But you can see how dazzling this has to have been when it was new, and it's still adorable.


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A ice clear look at the Whip's W logo, in case you want to render it in your theme park simulator.


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The ticket booth for the Whip, underneath the overhang. It's not in use anymore but it would be a shame to lose a great-looking place like this.


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One of the many fountains in the lawn beside the Whip.


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Oh yeah, and on top of the overhang? They're quite proud of radio station W-H-I-P here at Lakeside.


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A look at the Whip's actual ride, you know, stuff. Notice the ride's motor is housed in a little box made up to look like a rather large barn.


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Little closer view of the center of the Whip, and the housing for the machinery. There's also a look at the ride operator overseeing things.


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And here's a side view of the Whip.


Trivia: France's 1848 revolutionary government placed a surtax of 45 centimes on every franc paid in direct taxes. At the time only property owners paid direct taxes. Source: 1848: The Revolutionary Tide in Europe, Peter N Stearns.

Currently Reading: The Bowery: The Strange History of New York's Oldest Street, Stephen Paul DeVillo.

krazy koati

Welcome to the camp; I guess you all know why you're here

So having finally arrived back home, after an eight-day work trip that I went on after finally arriving back home, after a four-day family-visit trip that I went on after finally arriving back home, after a two-day pinball event, I ... did some urgent laundry and repacked for a two-day pinball event. This has not been a month where I've spent a lot of time at home. It's only this weekend that I've finally spent two full days in my house.

The reason here, though? The Michigan State Pinball Championship. I was set to go in as 13th seed --- no, 12th seed; MJV, to his regret, had to pull out. He's had back pains, which are just awful. bunny_hugger had been going in as 23rd seed, following her eleventh-hour New Year's Eve performance, and now she'd be 22nd seed. The venue returned to the East half of the state (well, the lower peninsula; the upper peninsula has no pinball scene, and it's really only the lower half of the lower peninsula), for the first time since 2016. The venue this year: AND's house, the basement and garage from which Frostyfest has been held several times. He's got dozens of games, from the 60s to modern games, and mostly quite interesting ones. And he's hosted tournaments, including the Frostyfest that's usually the last big tournament of the year. And, yeah, if the west side got to host the finals one more year there'd be open rioting.

AND's house is near Flint; it's not even an hour away, and most of that on I-69. Compared to the Fremont location of last year this is practically our backyard. And yet weather conspired to make it difficult again. After a winter that's been mostly snow-free and disturbingly warm, we had a winter storm advisory. Not just a modest one either, but the promise of anywhere from four to eight inches. The International Flipper Pinball Association does not allow for snow days, and only allows for delays at all in case of catastrophic failures at the venue. I understand their being intersted in having all (United) states and Canadian provinces hold finals as simultaneously as possible. But I also feel they should defer to the weather service issuing travel advisories. And understand that, like, for people in huge states like Texas or California ``just come next week'' might not be practical. But how the weather might screw up attendance was an important question.

So, we decided to get a hotel room near AND's house. Unfortunately his house is off the main roads, and even off the minor roads; he lives at an intersection that's paved on one side and gravel on the other. I wasn't worried that I-69 would not be in tolerable condition Saturday morning. The county roads, though?

Besides that, we had Sunshine and Fezziwig to take care of. Fezziwig's easy; he has his caches of food and water bottle and wheel to run on. Sunshine? We once again called on bunny_hugger's grad school friend EJL. He was willing to come over in the morning and give her a full day's ration of pellets and vegetables and hay (the extra pellets in case we were snowbound near Flint). And gave him a house key, which he should really have had before, as the nearest trustworthy person who might take care of minor house emergencies when we're out of town. When Saturday morning and four inches of snow came, he regretted his willingness to help and hoped that we'd have e-mailed him to say that we had decided not to go, or had stayed home overnight, or something. He'd had to park at the top of the unplowed street and trudge down the sidewalk to give our rabbit her food. We really owe him.

So, the hotel. bunny_hugger found a Baymont Inn, usually a nice reliable sort of place. Next to the front entrance was a disused industrial-grade washing machine, prompting me to say, ``Hey, free autoclave!''. At the check-in desk was a letter, mounted in one of those frames corporations use to put up notices expected to be there for a while, explaining that while they are near Flint they do not use Flint River Water and besides they're not in the City of Flint and have excellent schools and all. Okay. They were having some problem with one of the credit card readers and had to move us to another station to finish checking in. The guy behind us, paying his hotel bill with $100 bills that he somehow had, was fine. Also, not sure what's sketchier, paying for a hotel room in cash or paying for it with hundred-dollar bills. We had a second-floor room, but the elevator was right next to the lobby and we found ... the button for the second floor doesn't work. We started to look for the stairs, when the desk clerk told us that yeah, the elevator's been doing that and they have someone coming but it'll be a couple days because this is the busy season for elevator repair(?). But if we pressed the third floor button, and once the elevator was in motion pressed the second floor button, it would stop on the second floor. This was a dirty lie, and we took the stairs down from there. We didn't tell them their instructions didn't work, though, so as far as they know the instructions do. Also, the tag by our door, with the room number, was covered up with stickers replacing whatever was there with the 207 it was supposed to be. They also had said they didn't have any password for their Wi-Fi, you just agreed to their terms of service, which did not come up when I opened my laptop. It just connected and showed a blank screen for that Wi-Fi Connection thing.

As delightfully sketchy as all this was, though, the actual room, the part of the hotel we should care about, was clean, warm, quiet, and had plenty of pillows. So, you know, everything to care about was in good shape. The only thing I'd have liked is for the morning breakfast to have extended to 11 am.

Trivia: Darling of the Day, which opened at the George Abbot theatre on 27 January 1968 and closed after 31 performances, was at its time the costliest Broadway failure. It lost $750,000 on the initial investment of $500,000. Source: Not Since Carrie: 40 Years Of Broadway Musical Flops, Ken Mandelbaum.

Currently Reading: The Bowery: The Strange History of New York's Oldest Street, Stephen Paul DeVillo.


PS: Getting from Lakeside Amusement Park's Kiddieland to one of its really prominent features.

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A Kiddieland ... snack stand, I think, though it wasn't in use and a flat ride behind that which I think is a junior tumble bug; I'm surprised I don't have a closer-up picture of it.


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And here's a look at the park's Whip, featuring a nice overhang and an outer ring with many (barely) translucent circles between two bars.


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The Royal Grove is, I believe, an arcade set next to the Kiddieland area, although it sure does look like there should be food in there, doesn't it?


krazy koati

And there's nothing at all to be done about that

Those were my workdays. What about the non-workdays? Evenings involved a surprising lot of trips to this shopping mall that's not actually that close, because I needed to get stuff like tubs of hummus, and somehow the Acme that's on the same street as my hotel is also inaccessible. A highway cuts off the two sides of the road and I never worked out how to get there. Somehow I never had the time I expected to after work, in large part because I wasn't at all ahead, or even on, deadline for my various blogs, this included. Also I learned that they don't have The Price Is Right episodes online anywhere you can see them anymore. I ended up watching a buch of Simpsons episodes on the channel I can only find when I'm at the hotel.

And we went to movies. One thing bunny_hugger and I used to do was see a movie apart ``together'', going to showing at the same time or as close to the same time as possible. Friday night we went to see Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, largely so that we could safely listen to our podcasts, all of which are doing episodes about it. For me, I got to a theater in Trenton that's spent forever going through cycles of being closed and abandoned, then renovated and reopened, then closing and being abandoned. This is one of the patches where they're open so I was glad to catch it in that phase.

The movie was, mm, all right. I didn't like it as much as The Last Jedi, mostly because it kept shying back from the most interesting stuff. Like, there were two points where characters seemed to meet surprising fates and both were walked back and that was disappointing. It's not like it was bad. But, like, the Flophouse podcast episode on the movie pointed out how the story is a point-and-click adventure, get this thing to get that thing to get this other thing to get the next thing, and that's a bit dissatisfying.

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The other movie that we saw, on Sunday, was Cats. We would have been inclined to see it anyway. But the air of fiasco surrounding it made us more eager to see it in theaters. (This is also why we're probably going to see Dolittle too.) Here, it's blazing through theaters so fast we could only find one showing that was roughly synchronous for both of us, a Sunday morning show. That's all right. bunny_hugger has heard the movie is turning into an interactive thing, people calling out stock riffs at the characters, and was worried this would spoil her screening. I hadn't heard about this. While the theater was about one-fifth full, enough to be noticeable, it was a quiet audience at least back where I was sitting. The only audience member I noticed speaking was someone who, at the first singing of ``Memory'', gasped ``Here it is!''. Can't fault someone for that.

So how bad a movie is it? ... I can't say it's that bad. There are many bizarre choices to it. The camera moving around far too much the first half of the film, for example. CGI slathered over people dancing so that you can't trust that you're actually seeing skilled dancing. The cats being presented in inconsistent sizes, and the camera forcing you to notice this, so that some scenes look like optical illusions. Rebel Wilson as Jennyanydots scratching and licking herself in ways that are, yes, true to cat behavior but not, like, good to see. James Corden bringing the action to a halt to make jokes that are appropriate to a comedy sketch based on Cats but that just break the scene of the movie.

I can't say it's good, although good bits keep trying to emerge. But it is a great spectacle, and it's unreservedly itself. Again there was a Flophouse podcast episode about this, and while they were way too put off by the character design, they did come to agree they had a lot of fun watching this. Part of that, yes, from thinking through the implication of Macavity having broken, as the verse reminds us, ``every human law''.

What else did I get up to? A certain amount of poking around old haunts. A bunch of used book stores, where I tried my best not to go too wild but you may notice me having a book about the Bowery, for example. I also went to the Freehold Raceway Mall, to see the carousel there, although I didn't feel like riding it without bunny_hugger. This was also a chance to poke into the Disney Store, although they didn't have any good Stitch merchandise.

I did stop at Jersey Freeze, an ice cream place we went to all the time when I was a kid and the Freehold Traffic Circle was still there. It's got a restaurant attached and we only rarely ate there, but this was a good spot to go for lunch. And then ... you know, I realized, it's like 65 degrees out. It was warm the whole time of my visit and over the weekend it was alarmingly warm. (Meanwhile back home, Lansing was bunkering down for a major ice storm and not sure that wide swaths of the city might not lose power.) So I got an ice cream, too; they were doing brisk business and boy, remember before we broke the climate and a freakishly warm day in January was something that only happened every five years?

Later on I realized I should have gone to the Popcorn Park Zoo, although I don't know whether the small rescued-animals zoo is even open in winter even if it is 65 degrees out.

I also visited the Silverball Museum. Twice, as it turned out: once for Sunday and once in the long afternoon that I had between checking out of my hotel and the scheduled time for my flight home Thursday. They've got a nice row of all five Jersey Jack pinball games now. They've also been getting better about putting up signs explaining the games. Also they've got anniversary signs, pointing out which games are 25, 30, or in one case 70 years old. Sunday I stayed at the museum until it closed at 9 pm --- they turned off all the games while I was in the bathroom and I'm not sure they knew I was in there --- and, you know? It's fun to do that.

Flying back home, out of Newark, kept threatening to be a fiasco. I had booked a return flight for the early evening and that might be fine at avoiding having to get up early to get to the airport on time. But I was going through security about 5 pm, in an enormous mass with a confusing array of bins, including two conveyor belt's worth of bins that maybe makes the flow of screening go more continuously, but also means you get crazily separated from your belongings if you have more than one bin. Plus, I forgot to take the work-issued tablet out of my duffel bag and they got all snide at me for expecting them to X-ray a duffel bag with a tablet computer inside.

The other thing was my flight. I'd had a flight for 7 pm. There were high winds in the northeast that day, though. This limited the number of flights coming in, which is a real problem as you need a plane coming in to fly a plane back out. I kept messaging bunny_hugger as our flight was pushed back, and back again, and back some more. And I slowly noticed that, like, I'd been in this little corner of the airport for two hours and not a single flight had arrived or departed from any of the four gates around me. A guy sitting near me, whose stuff I watched while he got food, would not stop commenting on the absurdity of all this and like, yeah, it is absurd. At one point I told bunny_hugger I was going to stop messaging her with new flight times because every time I did we got bumped back again (and right after doing this, we lost another half-hour). But there's only so much complaining you can do without the complaining becoming the problem.

Also I learned that airport Dunkin Donuts do have their new BeyondMeat Sausage biscuits and those are really good.

But finally they had a plane for us, and we got on, and I got into the wrong seat, interrupting a fair-sized party. I got back into the right seat and felt amazingly stupid about this, though. Taking off and the whole ascent was a bit rough, owing to those winds, and I thought the whole time about how glad I was bunny_hugger was not on this flight. It was only ever a modest shaking but I know how much she would not have liked any bit of this shaking, especially so soon after takeoff.

So I got back to Michigan after midnight, and drove to the long-term parking exit gate where I learned they had changed the card system between when I left, the Wednesday before, and this Thursday. Had to go to the one gate attendant, who seemed surprised that I had an old-style ticket, somehow. But he was able to make that work and I was able to drive home.

I reunited with bunny_hugger, and saw Sunshine and Fezziwig for the first time this year, sometime after 2 am.

Trivia: By 1946 all US reserve supplies of grass seed had been exhausted during the war effort. Source: The Lawn: A History of an American Obsession, Scott Jenkins.

Currently Reading: The Bowery: The Strange History of New York's Oldest Street, Stephen Paul DeVillo.

PS: Reading the Comics, January 18, 2020: Decimals In Fractions Edition, a handful of mathematically-themed comic strips with a little bit to write about.


PPS: More of what we saw at Lakeside Amusement Park, the junior version.

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Junior Whip ride in the Lakeside Kiddieland. Some of the other flat rides are visible in the distance.


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Kids boat ride; notice that the track rises and falls, so there's something evoking the rocking of a boat in this motion.


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Pringles, Doritos, and ice cream sandwich vending machines at the park. Also ... wait, there's Pringles vending machines?

krazy koati

Where are all the people going? Round and round till we reach the end

My first day back in the office in years --- literally since Stephen was dying --- started late. I thought I had set the alarm clock and, as best I can figure out, my checking that it was set caused it to un-set. I still woke about 7:30, enough to get in only a little late. Also, nobody cared, since none of the people I was there to see were there anyway. I would try not to take advantage of, oh yeah, it not really mattering just when I got in. But one other morning I did sleep in, when I really needed it. I'm amazed how much better I am getting up for 9 am than for 8 am.

The first day back, as often happens, ended up including a whole morning of catching up with people I hadn't seen and learning how many people had surprisingly gone since I was last in. And waiting for my computer to be set up with a desk and monitor so I could do anything. This took a very long time since I hit one of the busiest days for the tech folks, and it brought back memories of the eight months I worked three days a week there without any responsibilities whatsoever. I did get to talk some with one of the guys working on the project I was supposed to start on, and got briefed enough to have a clear idea of what exactly I was out there for, though. Also at lunch I discovered the deli I always went to has closed, replaced with a little cafe that I didn't think I could just get, like, pork roll at. I went to the other deli counter, in the convenience store across the street, and they apologized; they couldn't make hoagies because they were out of bread. So after this I started bringing in a tray of hummus and chips for lunch and skipped looking for local food.

Friday ended up being the big day, with first me going to the SQL server guy. My intent was to ask him to just get server address and password and any one preloaded query so that I could prove out connecting my stuff to his SQL server. The SQL server guy is this guy you don't actually talk to. You stand within his perception range, and then he starts talking, and showing off whatever the heck it is he's doing, and eventually the day ends. It was, without exaggeration, a half-hour of him showing off stuff he'd worked on before I could even say what it was I was there for, and while he was thrilled beyond all reason to provide this I'm still not sure I actually have what I need. I would have liked to go right back and do a test build, but the boss came in and we finally had everybody who'd have some say in this project. So we started a meeting about that, and that meeting went on the rest of the day.

The major disagreement and the one I couldn't find a way to excuse myself from was about the core design. It's a system about letting people in the field enter data. The boss would like to have this all done as a web application so that people with cellular-data-equipped tablets can send us data updates in real time. The tech people say that clients are not going to pay for cell-data-tablets because they are just as happy to have their records updated in a batch at the end of the day and save on the data plan charges. I think the tech people are right about this; but, the boss wants a web application. I'm content to build this, since the stuff I'm least confident I know how to do will be the same either way. Also, they gave me a tablet of the kind that people in the field are using, so that I can build something which looks as much as possible like the data-entry program they're currently using.

In other officing games, though, I was finally able to explain to my boss, enough times, that he started to believe me that Google Maps would not work with OpenLayers anymore. And we even found a workaround. We were using Google Maps to provide aerial photographs of some stuff. It turns out the state of New Jersey has published its own aerial photographs, for 2017, 2015, 2013, and miscellaneous other years going back to 1930 (!). (Pick a year and a map of interest, and then Open In Map Viewer if you want to see, like, what Jamesburg looked like back when. Many of the older maps, besides 1930, are only of regions of the state.) And set things up where anybody, such as us, could put them into our projects. We can also download and host complete copies of the flyover photographs ourselves, which would be the better long-term solution. But even without that, it meant that I could excise the Google Maps stuff easily and replace it ... wait ... uh ...

So, the last couple days of my office work turned into yak-shaving. I've been having issues. Geoserver, which makes maps, on the development and testing server for some reason introduces this great big white block that obliterates the map. Using the developer tools and inspect-elements feature you can remove the white block and see the map, but I can't figure out why it's there at all. All right: the backup is to develop and test in a secret directory on the production server, whose Geoserver doesn't do this. And then Visual Studio decided it would not post to the production server, citing some files not being findable in something called SGEN. As far as I can figure this is Visual Studio throwing a fit, rather than a real thing. But also every fix I could find for this doesn't work. Nor could I post to anything but the original folder in the development server; even other folders on the development server don't work. But I can copy the files from the working development server folder to other folders, including on the production server. Why? I have not the faintest idea. This is too stupid a workaround to live with, though, but it'll at least deal with things a little bit. Also something about the projection is wrong but there is no understanding map projections.

And on Monday there was something wild. Someone broke in to one of the cars in the parking lot. He did it kind of the old-fashioned way, trying each door handle. He got in to one that has those button handles; somehow he hit enough buttons to get the door to unlock. Then he rooted around a good five minutes or so, before finally making off with ... I'm not sure. But he did leave the brand-new laptop in the car. This all happened about 11:30 that day, and it was only discovered hours later. They were looking over the security camera footage and marvelling at it. Also that, like, a couple minutes either way and someone from the company would have been outside, for a smoke break (there's a surprising number of smokers here) or to get lunch or to use one of the work vans. So that made for some excitement at the close of the day.

Tuesday after I came in and asked if there were a repeat performance I noticed what looked like a crumped $50 bill on the floor. I said someone must be feeling flush with cash if they're throwing fifties around. The guy whose car was broken into agreed yeah, it's just there for anyone. What it was, was a color copy of a $50 on a regular sheet of paper, tossed down as the tamest sort of practical joke. This got some talk going about how weirdly good a copy it was, at least seen from six feet away. One of the people who've been hired since I was regularly in office took a $50 out of his wallet, and compared: the color wasn't right, and the bill was a bit small, and of course the paper was nothing and --- excuse me, why do you have multiple $50 bills in your wallet? He explained that he doesn't have a bank account(?) so he has to carry cash(?). I suppose it's his business if he wants to not have a bank account despite having, you know, a salaried job. What I, and suddenly everyone else, wanted to know was where does he even get fifties? And hundreds? And we couldn't get this question answered. In the thirty years I have had a bank card I have seen one (1) ATM that dispensed fifties, and none (0) that dispense hundreds. Twenties and I suppose theoretically tens exist. Where do these people who walk around with fifties and hundreds get this stuff?

And this is how I was spending my work days, while in the Garden State.

Trivia: The 21 January 1930 astronomical photography plate with Pluto on it, used by Clyde Tombaugh, was Negative number 161. Source: Planets Beyond: Discovering the Outer Solar System, Mark Littmann.

Currently Reading: The Bowerie: The Strange History of New York's Oldest Street, Stephen Paul DeVillo.


PS: So now let's look at the younger section of Lakeside Amusement Park.

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Cartoon illustrations of a rabbit and Jennyanydots at Lakeside's Kiddieland ticket booth.


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And more of the Kiddieland ticket booth, showing that even that has some neat, weird style to it.


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Stork and fox cartoons on the other side of the Kiddieland ticket booth. Also: the actual booth itself, with prices and whatnot.

krazy koati

Cracking driftwood flames

Now I'm going to tell you what all my mathematics blog published while I was in New Jersey for most of a week. It was as little as I could get away with: I didn't bring my laptop in to work and wanted to focus on actual in-office work rather than puttering around with Internet stuff, so that just chopped out like nine hours of my waking day right there. It's surprising how much less time you have to screw around on Internet stuff when you take nine hours off the top like that.

Now I'm going to tell you What's Going On In Judge Parker? Is Sophie Parker running away from home? October 2019 - January 2020 plot in recap.

Now I'm going to spend a whole photo day on the Tower of Jewels at Lakeside Amusement Park.

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Lakeside's invitation, and command, and wildly popular Usenet-like web site.


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To the left of the Redit invitation are the columns, and far beyond that, the Cyclone. Notice the bunny taking her own picture of the magnificent sight.


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Ground-level space underneath the Tower of Jewels. The sidewalk entrance is gated off and apparently has been long enough for, like, a pile of tires to accumulate there.


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A look up at the patterns of light meant to be in the entrance's walkway.


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bunny_hugger photographing the Tower in a pose that doesn't look at all like she's come to worship it.


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Looking back from the entrance into the park. And if you need to visit the Cashier's Office for some reason, there it is, first door on the left.


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Ravages of time: there's only the one light remaining in these fixture, beside the Tower and at roughly the height of a second-storey roof. There's also obviously no way to know how many of these fixtures could work if they had bulbs. The park shows a lot of deferred maintenance, but much of that seems to be that the owner wants to keep the park from being too expensive for poor people or people with large families, and given the choice between ``has a rectangle of light bulbs'' or ``working-class parents with four kids can have a day at the amusement park'' they pick the latter and I admire them for it.


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bunny_hugger reaches up to capture the Tower. I really like how this picture's come out.


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My version of the picture bunny_hugger was just taking.


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The shuttered front gate, and front gate ticket booth. A pay-one-price wristband is $13.50 weekdays and $22.50 weekends and holidays. There's a circular disc there too about Celebrating a Century of Fun, which was ten years out of date when we visited. A sign on the right says to buy ride coupons at the Merry-Go-Round, the Ferris Wheel, or the Kiddes Playland.


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The view looking out the entrance, pats the offices and the columns, to the stairs leading to the center of the park. Lake Rhonda is in the far background.


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And the center of the stairs leading down to the main level of the park.


Trivia: By the Succession Act of 1 March 1792 the resignation of the President or Vice-President is turned over to the Secretary of State. Source: From Failing Hands: The Story of Presidential Succession, John D Feerick.

Currently Reading: The American Mail: Enlarger of the Common Life, Wayne E Fuller.

krazy koati

Day after day I get up and I say I better do it again

So back in late 2019 I nudged work a couple times, pointing out that I hadn't been out in years and was feeling out of the loop. They were fine with my productivity, though. And then in December my boss had an idea. He's got a new project he wanted his team to get to work on, me among that team. So the call came up. Could I be in the office the 5th of January for a big planning meeting? Well, first, I would be visiting my parents the 5th of January. Also, the 5th of January is a Sunday. Well, could I be out sometime that week?

And, yeah, I could do sometime that week. I decided to book a flight heading out on Wednesday, mostly because I did not trust that weather wouldn't delay us a day getting back from Charleston. It did not, as it happens, but after all, it has happened in the past. bunny_hugger several times cursed the madness that I couldn't just fly from Charleston up to New Jersey, but this seemed to be a too-complicated scheme for me, even if work would presumably pay for the change of flight arrangements. But what all of this did mean is that I had a day and a half to get home, unpack, do laundry, and re-pack, and this is why I didn't think I could take the time to ride with bunny_hugger to her parents' for dinner and maybe a game of Mice and Mystics and to pick up our animals. And why she wasn't eager to go on her own, especially as her parents pointed out she could spend the night, the last time that'd be easy to do midweek before the semester started.

Packing up and preparing took less time than I feared, actually, at least once the washing machine did the hard work it was designed for. I had a room booked at the long-term hotel again, and a car rental and a direct flight, Detroit to Newark, leaving near noon so I wouldn't have to wake too early. Indeed, I had enough time that bunny_hugger and I were able to go poking out to the local hipster bar and see some of our friends having a pinball night there. The place has also picked up, among its now-many pinball machines, Stern's newest: Stranger Things, the game. We had time for two games, and only two, because it turns out this game plays just forever. At least right now, and this despite a critical shot not actually working right.

While I didn't have to get up ridiculously early, I did have to get up in the morning, like, alarm-clock early, and shower and be ready while bunny_hugger was still waking up. And she shared the sad news with me, that by the time I got back the Christmas trees would be un-decorated and taken down and we'd have the house whittled down to its long winter decor. She works so hard to get the place looking great, and it never seems like we have enough time to appreciate it. We've been thinking how next year we might visit my parents before Christmas, when the airfare is particularly cheap, and that would be great, but it would slice out even more time that might be spent decorating, or appreciating decoration.

After an unremarkable drive to the airport I felt pointlessly hassled by the security theater people, who got snotty about me ``stacking'' my iPad and laptop. They were not stacked. They said they were, you can't go putting them on top of the TSA-approved sleeves for carrying them and my exasperation with this nonsense showed. The agent tried to tell me that they were just explaining the rules to me so that I could have no trouble in the future, and I did not point out that the rules had apparently changed since the last time I flew out of Detroit, six days before. And then they pulled me over for extra screening on the grounds that there was something suspicious in my belt(?) and in my groin. Sheesh. The plane was also late to take off, and to land, the latter because of some weather conditions reducing the number of landings Newark was taking. Despite this they still touched down pretty close to the scheduled landing time, which shows how much padding they put into the things. Before long I had my suitcase, and my rental car, and that strange comforting feeling of driving past the Anheuser-Busch plant and the Drive Safely oil tanks.

Meanwhile bunny_hugger had driven to her parents', to have her car make a disquieting noise, one bad enough she did stay the night instead and made plans to get the car to the dealer, and advance her thinking about just how much longer she wants to keep this car. The next day it would not get into gear at all, so the car had just reached safety before dying. AAA was able to tow it to the dealer, and the dealer got her to home, and her parents drove the animals to our home after all, and this was all a lot of stress and anxiety that she had to deal with while I was sitting in an office in Trenton, New Jersey, which is not the way I would like to arrange our business.

Trivia: Tantalum was first identified by Anders Gustav Ekeberg in 1802, but it was not until 1846 that Heinrich Rose proved the element was distinct from Niobium. Source: Nature's Building Blocks: An A-Z Guide to the Elements, John Emsley.

Currently Reading: The American Mail: Enlarger of the Common Life, Wayne E Fuller.


PS: More at the part of Lakeside Amusement Park that you can see from the street outside which I didn't photograph, inexplicably.

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I buy cameras for their optical zoom; in this case, it's 21x to the top of the Tower of Jewels, where you can see how beautiful the design is and how it's had some hard living.


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Back to the base of the tower, and a pretty good view of the Redit invitation.


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And a poster that sure looks vintage, encouraging kids parties at the park. I don't know whether this is actually old or a reprint or just designed to look old. I notice the poster hasn't got a URL, though.


krazy koati

And now we're back where we started, here we go round again

Our flights home started in the morning. Not nearly as early as our flights out, just a few days earlier. And we would not have nearly so rough a drive to get there; my parents live something like 900 feet from the airport, as the crow flies, although it's farther by highways. Still, probably about as hard to get to as Lansing Airport is for us, except that their airport actually takes people places they'd want to go. (Seriously, I know it used to be possible to fly Lansing to Newark, albeit through Chicago.) So we were able to get up at an early but not unthinkable hour, have breakfast, and say our goodbyes to the cat, who was kind enough not to give bunny_hugger too much dander to deal with.

Nothing major of interest happened at the Charleston airport. The disappointing thing is we were seated across the aisle from one another, as the airlines have gone back to not seating us together if it can be helped. And then we had several hours to hang out in Charlotte's airport again. This time around we found a Jersey Mike's, so we got vegetarian hoagies for our slightly early lunch. We also found there's an oddball candy stand there, one that's decorated with vintage signs for, like, squirrel-brand roasted nuts and had candy-themed pajamas for sale which were at least a bit tempting. We did not get any of that, though.

The last flight, finally, was also the longer of the two. And it was the most annoying as we were not just across the aisle but separated by several rows. In consolation, it was pretty smooth, right up to the final descent. Also one of the kids near bunny_hugger was offered a pair of pilot's wings and she kind of wanted one, but not so much as to ask.

We were back in Detroit early enough that it would have made sense to drive to bunny_hugger's parents' home and pick up Sunshine and Fezziwig. But we hadn't planned on doing that. bunny_hugger did ask whether I wanted to come with her the next day, to pick them up, which would be important for her mother planning how much food to make. Reluctantly I had to admit I didn't think I would have the time. She didn't like the thought of going off to her parents' without me, though, not given the day I expected to have. So we proposed a change of plans: she'd go and pick up the animals on Wednesday, instead. We'd spend Tuesday together at home.

These may seem like unmotivated concerns, and changes of plan. I shall give the motivation starting tomorrow.

Trivia: Between February 1942 and June 1943 the German navy's Observation Service was able to read in real-time about four-fifths of Allied naval communications using cipher number three. This cipher was used for communication between London and Washington regarding transatlantic convoys. Source: The Second World War, John Keegan.

Currently Reading: Masters of Empire: Great Lakes Indians and the Making of America, Michael A McDonnell.


PS: Looking around the tallest thing at Lakeside Amusement Park unless there's a drop tower that's taller and that I'm somehow overlooking.

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The columns guarding the Tower of Jewels's entrance and the office building beside it; if you want to apply for a job, the door's open, there.


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A look back from the Tower's level --- street level --- down to the main level of the park and beyond that Lake Rhoda.


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bunny_hugger happy to be seen beside the lions.

krazy koati

Nights of starlit secrets

Now let me remind you of my humor blog pieces of the past week:

And now let's take a good serious look at a mysterious piece of Lakeside Amusement Park.

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And here's the ghost sign with a name for this: this abandoned thing is the Staride.


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The Staride has an almost lakefront setting, near the railroad and the Satellite and if the trees there seem very close to the ride you have no idea, because ...


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The Ferris Wheel-like Starride has trees grown into it. The ride has not only not run in a long while, it hasn't been in shape ready to run in long enough for trees to overgrow it.


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What looks like the abandoned turnstile for the Staride, left on a wood-style queue area that's seen better days.


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This, outside the fenced-off area, looks like it should be a light, or possibly even something that bears a load --- look at the lighter parts of the cement --- that's also been gone so very long. Also you can see where the boards are falling in, beyond the fence.


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Staride is very close to the Merry-Go-Round, and (off to the left) the Cyclone, so it's got a very central part of the park's grounds.


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Examined closer, that piece that seemed like it was a turnstile clearly doesn't make sense as that, but then, what exactly are we looking at?


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A look up, showing how much Staride looks like a Ferris Wheel, and how well the tree has embraced it. So, why is it there, and given how it can't possibly run, why is it still there?


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A look from the Staride over to functional rides. But Staride ... well, it's one of the oldest things at Lakeside. It's over a century old at least, and some sources claim it was at the park when it opened, as White City, in 1908. Ferris Wheel-style cars would dangle from each of the points on this star, and old pictures of the park show this --- sitting by Lake Rhoda --- is one of the distinctive pieces of the park's skyline. Staride hasn't run since the early 70s but, gosh ... I can understand why they would decide, the last year that it was functional, that they wouldn't tear it down. Or then why they couldn't, after that, even though it's hard to imagine the ride ever being functional, or even being restored to the appearance of functional.


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Staride is a short walk to the Merry-Go-Round and, beside that, the Tower of Jewels.


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Another quick look at the Merry-Go-Round; even the fencing around the ride is stylish.


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And the weather was gorgeous to look at the Tower of Jewels.


Trivia: Laplace regarded Bode's Law, the geometric progression which seemed to match the distances of the planets from the sun, as a mere number game and not real physics. Source: In Search of Planet Vulcan: The Ghost in Newton's Clockwork Universe, Richard Baum, William Sheehan.

Currently Reading: Masters of Empire: Great Lakes Indians and the Making of America, Michael A McDonnell.