krazy koati

And a partridge in a pear tree

Finally, some action on my mathematics blog! How 2020 Treated My Mathematics Blog has very little mathematical content, but it is a look at what people were reading, and that's always a popular kind of post.

Now let's finish off the December 2019 visit to Crossroads Village. One thing we always try to do there is take in a show, and that is the last thing we did for the night.


On-stage at the opera house. Previous years had seen a Christmas Melodrama, that started out years ago as a riff on O'Henry's story The One O'Henry Story Anybody Knows. In 2018, they had a magic show on instead. And for 2019? ...


Looking back into the seating at the opera house. I didn't think we were that early to it, but all right.


The show! A musical-comedy featuring a polar bear who wants to be a bigger part of ``Snow Business'', a pun made 4,429 times over the course of the 20-minute show, and who talks it out with Mrs Claus.


Also with Frosty the Snowman, who's got a pretty good suit representation here.


Frosty and the Polar bear doing a duet while Mrs Claus acknowledges this is what's happening now.


And here's Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer! Or someone's Sally Acorn fursuit repurposed!


Rudolph and Mrs Claus doing kicks.


I appreciate wanting the polar bear to be taller than Mrs Claus and the value of having enough neck for the actor's head to be able to look out through the scrim but this seems extreme. It maybe would have been less funny if I'd been on the other side of the audience so Mrs Claus wasn't being shrunk by the rules of perspective too.


Kids from the audience brought up to meet Mrs Claus and the Polar Bear.


Looking out, after the show, from the opera house's windows at the village blow. Note the Crystalline Entity tree in the center there.


And looking out towards the village green and the central tree.

Trivia: The earliest known crossings of the Sahara were oxen- and horse-drawn chariots crossing about 1,000 BCE. Source: Salt: A World History, Mark Kurlansky.

Currently Reading: Madame Blavatsky's Baboon: A History of the Mystics, Mediums, and Misfits Who Brought Spiritualism to America, Peter Washington. And boy, you don't know Fandom Drama until you've read Theosophist Drama.

krazy koati

Two turtle doves

Over on my mathematics blog I wrote almost nothing this past week. What I did write was a pretty big piece, though, a bit of computer archeology figuring out stuff about the MLX program that Compute! and Compute!'s Gazette used for a couple years there. My work is not yet done! But I haven't published that further work yet. You'll see it when it's ready. Anyway, recent posts --- going back more than a week --- there have been:

In the cartoon business I watched 60s Popeye: Oil's Well That Ends Well, and how is that not Oyl's Well? and got into some old-time-radio stuff.

Let's prowl around Crossroads Village a little more now.


That tree in the center of the village common area, only this time you can see it.


Conestoga Wagon fixture for all of you who wanted to do a light-up Christmassy Oregon Trail.


Some of the Crossroads Village buildings nicely decorated.


In the schoolhouse. They've got plenty of blanks for people writing thank-you notes to Santa.


Back outside the schoolhouse and looking generally towards the opera house.


The Tree. This is the one they decorate with every light they've got and it's one of the most beloved fixtures of the show. For 2020 they didn't get the lights up on it.


Looking straight up at the tree, or the Crystalline Entity that Data's evil twin brother Lore collaborated with to try killing Dr Noonian Soong.


And here? This is just the socket fixture for that tree, which has enough of a shelter to protect it from your basic weather catastrophes and also make a good nesting home for mice.


The ``Attica Hotel'', one of those buildings I'm not positive we've ever been in.


On board the train! While I was more confident in my ability to take low-light photographs, I figured I'd be better off still taking movies, which do look better but that I don't know how to make Livejournal read. Sorry.


But I grabbed a few pictures, like of the other train decorated. You can see also we remembered we should bring a towel to wipe fog off the train windows even in warm-weather visits.


And one of the most popular fixtures, a giant one of Santa taking off and a couple presents falling overboard.

Trivia: When first organized as a Territory in 1805, Michigan's three judges --- appointed by Congress --- were Frederick Bates, a Detroit resident; Samuel Huntington, chief justice of the Ohio Supreme Court; and Augustus E B Woodward, a friend of President Thomas Jefferson. Huntington refused to serve, leaving Michigan without a third judge for nearly a year. Source: Michigan: A History of the Great Lakes State, Bruce A Rubenstein, Lawrence E Ziewacz.

Currently Reading: Canadarm and Collaboration: How Canada's Astronauts and Space Robots Explore New Worlds, Elizabeth Howell.

krazy koati

Three French hens

Now to the center of Crossroads Village, the last time we walked around it in December 2019:


The arch, and walkway, to the thing which really brings us to Crossroads Village: the carousel. And, to the right, the Superior Ferris Wheel.


Fastest carousel in Michigan! Not that there's much competition (this one travelling carousel that gets to the Baby Food Festival, and hits 5 rpm is about it), but at 6 rpm a carousel is a thrill ride and we love it for it.


Keepsake ornaments and other little trinkets on sale at the fundraising booth.


The carousel at rest. The blankets are stylish and seasonal and also protect the horses from mud and snow being tracked in. Also, look at that guy in the short sleeves. Yes, it's indoors and yes it was a weirdly warm day but COME ON.


A look at the rounding boards with the C W Parker logo and, if you study the mirror there, pictures of the wall that explains the history of this carousel and how it came to Crossroads Village.


Outside, the C W Parker Superior Wheel, one of only three still in existence, and one of the two in public operation.


A view of the whole ride, with the operator's booth looking like a toy, somehow. I don't know how my camera did that.


Off in the shadows, the Venetian Swings, which are not one of the things you can ride in the winter because normally that would be pretty unpleasant.


Looking back at the Superior Wheel and the carousel building (right), with the main body of the Village behind everything.


Close look at the roof of the Superior Wheel's operator's booth and its decorations.


From inside the Superior Wheel; mostly a view of the carousel building, to the right.


Trying to get a better view of the carousel building but mostly, of course, getting a razor-sharp snap of that wire cage.

Trivia: In March 1656 Louis XIV issued the letters patent on the first guild licensed to make perfumes and other fragrances. Source: The Essence of Style: How the French Invented Fine Food, Chic Cafés, Style, Sophistication, and Glamour, Joan DeJean.

Currently Reading: Canadarm and Collaboration: How Canada's Astronauts and Space Robots Explore New Worlds, Elizabeth Howell.

krazy koati

Four calling birds

It seems like only eleven days ago I was writing about Crossroads Village and our 2020 visit. Well, today? I have pictures from Crossroads Village and our 2019 visit, which we did on Boxing Day. It's the most recent time we were able to go to the village and see everything, although as ever, we didn't really have time to see everything. Still, photos.


Do you see Crossroads Village from here? Or do you just see cars parked in the overflow lot? Because it was an incredibly busy day, I suppose because it was right after Christmas and the weather was great --- see how lightly everyone's dressed --- and what are you going to do, not do something?


The Crossroads Village and Huckleberry Railroad, emerging from its camouflage.


Entry into Crossroads Village; you can see the caboose of the railroad there.


In the vintage-styled gift shop. Ah yes, New Jersey, renowned source of fine coffee beans.


More counters and shelving in the gift shop, including huckleberry jams.


Stepping out of the gift shop into the sunset. Here's the main street in town.


Woman showing off the printing press. They do a little newsletter and a couple of postcards and such there.


Typesetting forme for the Crossroads Chronicle. The big headline: ``Who Cracked The Liberty Bell?'' Notice there's a composing stick on the far side of the table.


Looking back at the gift shop in the advancing darkness.


Christmas tree set way out in the village's center grassy area.


A stable housing some really-early-automobile parts and tools and such; I think it also has the village hearse, though not in this picture.


Several Christmas tree lights seen lined up because I was feeling arty like that.

Trivia: Chang and Eng Bunker --- the ``original'' Siamese Twins --- after making their fortune touring, settled in Mount Airy, North Carolina, and married sisters Adelaide and Sarah Yates, keeping separate households (about a mile and a half apart) and spending alternating three-day stays at each. Source: Know-It-All, A J Jacobs.

Currently Reading: Canadarm and Collaboration: How Canada's Astronauts and Space Robots Explore New Worlds, Elizabeth Howell.

krazy koati

When the horses ran that day, Spark Plug ran the other way

Got my humor blog running again, still doing two Popeye cartoons a week but maybe that'll change. Meanwhile, here's the past week's writing:

On to new pictures! The next big thing was Christmas 2019, a time spent with bunny_hugger's family. Also one in which I took fewer pictures than usual, figuring that I should be more in the moment and not worry about getting snaps that would look an awful lot like the ones I got in 2018 or would get in 2020 which was a respectable enough thought in December 2019.


An early Christmas present! Yes, that's a coati-shape cookie cutter that bunny_hugger gave me.


What a coati-shaped cookie looks like as raw cookie dough! I hadn't worked out how to get both feet out cleanly yet.


And here's what a coati-shaped cookie looks like baked and decorated ... not all that well. It tasted right, though.


A full plate of decorated cookies. bunny_hugger and her mother did excellent jobs.


And me? The cookies I decorated certainly achieved adequacity. Actually I think the candy cane was one of mine and that turned out great.


bunny_hugger's parents' tree, in its little alcove by night.


The tree and the fireplace, roaring after that whole flamethrower start.


Coming down Christmas morning, me wearing the Angel kigurumi and slippers and the dog not at all sure what to make of this.


bunny_hugger in her Stitch kigurumi gets her big present for the day.


It's just what she always wanted! ... It's a pinball machine! A small but legitimate pinball machine!


And here's the tiny pinball machine: The Flip Side. You can actually play it and bunny_hugger has threatened to bring it to tournaments to use as a quick tiebreaker game.


Our game of Betrayal at the House on the Hill. This is surely after we've reached the Betrayal and we read over the rules to try and figure out what the heck we're supposed to do. (It's some daft, poorly-balanced scheme where both the Heroes and the Traitor end up trying to outlast the other because we aren't sure how to sensibly block the other party from whatever the heck they're doing.)


The dogs are hoping that if they don't acknowledge me, I'll go home.

Trivia: Turkey switched to the Gregorian Calendar by having the 18th of December, 1926, be followed by the 1st of January, 1927. Source: Marking Time: The Epic Quest to Invent the Perfect Calendar, Duncan Steel.

Currently Reading: Canadarm and Collaboration: How Canada's Astronauts and Space Robots Explore New Worlds, Elizabeth Howell. So, yes, it is appropriate that a book about the history of Canada's space projects would discuss the Avro Arrow. But the Avro Arrow is also the Free Space on your Canadian Space Enthusiast Bingo Card.

krazy koati

Santa Claus is coming to town!

On my mathematics blog I got to do a fun bit of retrocomputer archaeology. Did you ever ask How Did Compute!'s Gazette's MLX Program Work? I have the answer for you!

And with that done, let's get back to the Potter Park Zoo Wonderland of Lights, December 2019 edition. The December 2020 edition you'll see later ... probably this year.


Some of the big cats calling Mom to tell their brother to stop it already.


Lion wondering how, exactly, it's come to all this.




Caught this lioness in the midst of licking her nose.


Anyway, I hope you can feel this happy today.


``Why doesn't it feel that good when I lick my nose?''


Some model of lemur although I'm not sure which species; the web site doesn't say.


Getting back to some leeming, though.


A view of the Feline and Primate House, which has this great interior style I associate with 70s buildings.


You see? Who does curved inclined paths anymore? The wire cage in the center used to have bigger lemurs, like, ringtailed ones and such, but this visit I believe it held guinea hogs.


Giraffe statue outside the Feline and Primate House, with you-know-what in the background.


Elephant in lights along the trail leading to the front of the zoo.


And an illuminated butterfly and deer along with the evidence of a lot of wild deer prowling around.

And that wraps up the Wonderland of Lights 2019 display! Go ahead now and guess what's next: pinball tournament or amusement park? Remember this is December 2019 we're looking at.

Trivia: When the Allies breached the Hindenberg line in September 1918, German First Quartermaster General Erich Ludendorff, de facto head of the Great General Staff, fell to the floor and, according to reports, foamed at the mouth. The next day he insisted the crown council sue for an armistice under terms of Wilson's Fourteen Points. Source: The First World War, Hew Strachan.

Currently Reading: Tulipomania : The Story of the World's Most Coveted Flower and the Extraordinary Passions It Aroused, Mike Dash.

krazy koati

Gonna find out who's naughty and nice

In my comic strip writing I check out What's Going On In The Phantom (Weekdays)? Who is Towns Ellerbee? October 2020 - January 2021 in review.

Back now, in photographs, to December 2019 and the Potter Park Zoo Wonderland of Lights. With a special guest star I'm happy to show off today! Can you guess who it might be?


Skating bears, another perennial set of figures.


The lights are colored, but it can be hard to see in a quick photograph.


An illuminated ballerina on a snowflake stage.


Penguins! I think this penguin's also at Crossroads Village.


And here's a gazebo with a great rainbow wall of lights in the far background.


Here's that rainbow wall, which is a great landmark for much of the park.


Since we were there before Christmas, for a change, we were able to see Santa! They had one of the vet buildings set up with a things like this to-do list inside. Santa's also got a list there, one name per alphabet letter.


Pile of gifts with Santa in the background.


I believe they had a table set up for crafts which probably included drawing pictures for Santa.


Gift basket and wrapping and such waiting for Santa.


And here's Santa, apparently worrying about why I'm photographing him.


Back outside again. A tree and that illumination tree with, oh, look, two balls of light that aren't the same ones from earlier. They must have been flashing after all, even though I never got a picture with all the lights on, or off.


The Theio's Restaurant bench was still there, too, a year-plus after Theio's was torn down.

Trivia: In February 1974 the Ford Motor Company was fined $3.5 million for cheating on the emissions-control test required by the 1970 Clean Air Act. This followed pleading guilty in the three hundred fifty thousand criminal complains brought against the company. Ford also paid $3.5 million in civil penalties. Source: Ford: The Men and the Machine, Robert Lacey.

Currently Reading: Tulipomania : The Story of the World's Most Coveted Flower and the Extraordinary Passions It Aroused, Mike Dash.

krazy koati

He's making a list and checking it twice

And we were not through! After saying goodbye to Biggby #1, and to Mackerel Sky, that same day in December 2019 we went to the Potter Park Zoo and its Wonderland of Lights. This was the rare case when we visited the zoo for its Christmas lights before Christmas, and so we saw things ... a little different. How different? You'll see. Not in today's photo dump, though.


Right up front were a bunch of trees decorated or at least sponsored by different groups. Here's one from the Bestmaze Corn on the east side of town.


And here's some more trees. A surprising number of them are sponsored by dentists. I mean surprising because it's more than two. Note the teeth on the tree to the left.


The lights around the otter exhibit.


The otter exhibit. The tank is lit and sometimes you can see the otters at play inside it, though photographing them by night is almost impossible.


Wolf figures illuminated. These were near the grey wolf enclosure.


Trees wrapped with lights along one of the paths to a zoo building.


More trees (unsponsored, looks like) along the way to the Big Cats house.


A couple of tree-shaped fixtures, and spheres, as seen from the concession stand. It's a grassy field, although in some years it had ice over it to look like it was a pond.


Better view of the concession-area 'trees'. Those spheres are the only two lit in any of my photographs, which is odd; usually there's, like, a dozen of them around that circle and they flash off when you take a picture. I hadn't notced the mock train in the lights there before.


Some of the animal houses. Here's one with a bunch of snakes trying to come to terms.


And some model of bird with a pretty good beak.


The snowflake-inspired decorations above the birds-and-snakes building doors.


These swan fixtures with the fountain in the center have been part of the wonderland for as long as bunny_hugger can remember.

Trivia: Albrecht D¨rer recorded that during a yearlong tour of the Low Countries around 1523 he had to deal with the following currencies: pfennigs, heller, stuivers, weisspfennigs, blanke, pfund, orrt, Rhenish guilden, ``schlechter'' guilden, Hornish guilden, Portuguese guilden, Phillips guilden, crona, anglot, rose nobles, Flemish nobles, Hungarian ducats, and gold Carolus guilden. Source: Worldly Goods: A New History of the Renaissance, Lisa Jardine. (Hornish guilden were issued by the Count of Horne, a small county around the village of Horn, now part of Haelen in the province of Limburg.)

Currently Reading: Tulipomania : The Story of the World's Most Coveted Flower and the Extraordinary Passions It Aroused, Mike Dash.

krazy koati

Will you be mellow and bright tonight buttermilk sky?

Back to a slow, measured pace on my mathematics blog. I haven't decided when to step it back up to full again. But in the meanwhile, here's some recent posts from there:

So after visiting Biggby #1 on its last day of operation, in the original site, we went to another East Lansing thing that would be closing soon. In this case, Mackerel Sky, a gallery/boutique. The owners were partly looking to retire and partly protesting how lousy actual local interesting shops were being treated now that East Lansing is dropping ten-storey apartment blocks with chain stores in the first floor everywhere. (There's a ``Mini-Target'' gotten built next door that swallowed up what had been the neighborhood parking lot.) We did not go their very last day --- that was New Year's Eve, I think, plus a couple straggler days in January 2020 when they dumped remaining inventory and, like, shelving --- but this was our last visit there.


Mackerel Sky's storefront, a little back of Grand River (the main street in town) and ahead of an alley. A ``mackerel sky'' describes a particular kind of cloud formation which is why the logo is a fish that's also clouds. It's also called a ``buttermilk sky''.


Balancing blocks and other sorts of supremely gift-worthy items up front of the store.


And some pendulum clocks for sale and all roughly agreeing about the time.


What I visited Mackerel Sky for most often: their cards. Lots of them, of good quality and often generally delightful.


Past the cards we get into the things useful at homes or kitchens; if you needed a spoon rest, or a good spoon, here was a good spot to go.


And in the far back the books, and various remaindered items, like towels and tiles and decorative containers.


Looking form the far back towards the front of the store; note the jewelry counter which basically always had something tasteful and appropriate for bunny_hugger.


Lamps. Yes, you had a question, in the back, there?


Decorative ceramics here, suitable for anywhere you needed a laughing onion.


Some more of the decorative ceramics, including your rabbit, sheep, mouse, and bear action.


The final gallery exhibition was this display of many of the newsletters they'd sent out to customers over the years. Roughly chronologically ordered, getting nearer the present as you move to the right.


An example of the gallery newsletters, including that time in 2010 that they moved to this location. I'd only ever known it here.


Needlepoint of, I assume, the old location, which was set on the wall above a journal for people to enter their memories of the place.


The jewelry counter. Also on the right, ceramic tiles, good for use as decorations or coasters or similar small plate needs.


Orb cats.

Trivia: When Indiana's New Albany and Salem Rail Road Company incorporated in 1847, New Albany was the largest city in the state, with a population of 8,181. Salem had 2,223 persons, and most if not all of the early stockholders. Source: The Story of American Railroads, Stewart H Holbrook.

Currently Reading: Tulipomania : The Story of the World's Most Coveted Flower and the Extraordinary Passions It Aroused, Mike Dash.

krazy koati

But I'll have a blue, blue blue blue Christmas

So that house down the street? The one building the ``garage'' that seems to be two storeys and much bigger than the original house? It's made a good bit of progress now, to the point they've got a roof and walls up. And it must be an enormous garage, or else it's committing some aesthetic if not building code violation by having no windows in the thing. I don't know why a regular old, you know, neighborhood house needs a 14-car garage, but must admit it's common for landlords to rent to upwards of 40 people per house and there's no driveway that can hold that many cars.

The greater mystery is that the house got listed in the paper for unpaid property taxes. They give a lot of time for property owners to make good, certainly. But it's bizarre that they would be putting this much money into the property when they're not up on their taxes. Especially since they're only like a thousand bucks in arrears. I understand the ways by which money flows are strange. And that how much liquid capital a person has can be a weird and complicated function. And that you might trust that you could put the thousand bucks into building the detached Garage Mansion now and scrape together at least enough of a payment to keep the county from seizing the place later. It's still a weird state of affairs, to my way of thinking.

Now let's close out visiting Biggby #1 in East Lansing on its last day in the original spot.


bunny_hugger finishing up her memories. And a decent view of the interior front of the place.


We haven't been to the new location so we don't know whether they carried through with their promise to bind these memories into something readable in the new storefront.


The ordering counter, which still benefitted from the fieldstone wall of the old Arby's personality of the place.


Competitive tip jars, for people who want to have opinions about Christmas music.


Non-competitive tip jar for people who just want to dodge origami.


Looking out from the dining area toward the front counter.


Wait, their legal entity existence was ``East Lansing Cup-A-Cino Inc''? You know, never mind, we don't miss the place after all. Admire that, based on that border, East Lansing does its business licenses in a 1992 edition of Print Shop Pro, though.


Floor shot of the front room. It had some decent space for a line.


And a last look from beneath the overhang outside.

I think the landlord made some performative fuss about finding a new use for the building. But what they meant by this was, yes, a parking lot. The building's been demolished by now and what we have is just a less interesting East Lansing.

Trivia: Twelve of the transatlantic telegraph cables snapped following the North Atlantic earthquake on the 18th of November, 1929. The cables broke sequentially and it's now believed that they were snapped by not by the earthquake directly but by a turbidity current, an avalanche of silty water travelling about fifty miles per hour after the quake. Source: How The World Was One: Beyond the Global Village, Arthur C Clarke. (Clarke says this was ``most'' of the telegraph cables and perhaps it was; I can't find a reference that says how many transatlantic telegraph cables were in service in late 1929. Can't imagine this helped the Panic of 1929, though.)

Currently Reading: The Secret Appeal of the Famous Studios Popeye, Steve R Bierly. Bierly in describing cartoons seems really squicked by any time when Popeye would put on a dress and trusts that you the reader will be too.