krazy koati

Time may change me

How little can I do in my mathematics blog and still have a mathematics blog? Yes, it was another week when I posted only one thing and that was restirring old material. Believe me, I've looked at my readership statistics for July and know what this has cost me. Don't worry; someday I'll write a thing again. For now, though, here's four-fifths of everything I posted in July:


And now more pictures from Michigan's Adventure back on Monday. You can actually see us waiting forever for Wolverine Wildcat!

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Log flume cars parked on the concrete surrounding the ride, which convinced us the ride was not running today and plausibly hadn't run in weeks. We were wrong. Later in the afternoon Logger's Run was up and running like nothing weird was going on.


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Establishing shot of Wolverine Wildcat, with the logo the ride has had since Cedar Fair took over. bunny_hugger mentioned how she's got to scan her photograph of the ride sign from her first visit, when the park was still independent and had a homemade sign.


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The line for Wolverine Wildcat, which seemed like it'd be four or five ride cycles. None too long ... we thought.


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The end of the tunnel that the train goes through before the lift hill, and some of the hair bands tossed onto its roof.


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Wolverine Wildcat train on the lift hill. The roller coaster only has the one train, without an obvious way to take the train off the track in case of need. We don't know why; its near-twin at Knoebels has a second train and the transfer track for it, just before the station.


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Another look at the train going up the lift hill. I like the hand pointing in frame; that's what makes this my album cover.


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Wolverine Wildcat ascending the hill on its first return.


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Same train descending the hill of its first return.


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And now the train climbs the hill for its final return.


Trivia: The Command/Service Module did an 18.31-second burn, a small plane change maneuver while the Lunar Module spent its four days on the surface. Source: Apollo By The Numbers: A Statistical Reference, Richard W Orloff. NASA SP-4029.

Currently Reading: The Amazing Transformations of Jimmy Olsen, Editor Bob Joy (collection), Mort Boltinoff, Mort Weisinger, original comics. Of course the answer to Superman's title-page questions of ``Why is Jimmy stuffing that volcano crater with a battleship? What on Earth is his huge, twisted turtle-mind up to?'' are ``his transformation into a gigantic turtle-monster was arranged by a disgraced Atlantean criminal-scientist who wanted to create a giant monster he could mind-control as a way of obscuring the location of stolen pirate treasure'', because it would just be ridiculous if a giant deranged turtle-monster Jimmy Olsen were picking up battleships and stuffing them in volcano craters for no particular reason. ... Also, I know it's an artefact of picking a bunch of Wacky Transformation stories but Jimmy goes to the freak show to earn money while transformed into some nonsense so often you'd think at some point the people running the sideshow would just put him under contract. ``Yeah, yeah, we know, you can only work like four days, every two months, but for those four days you're going to be a Potato Genie from Neptune and that we can sell.'' Save him the bother of acting all ashamed every time this keeps happening.

krazy koati

You've left us up to our necks in it

Wolverine Wildcat: Michigan's Adventure's oldest wooden coaster, and their second-oldest roller coaster at all. The line wasn't too long, and we could finish our pop and notice, like, people still threw hairbands onto the roof of the train tunnel. Also kids still asked their parents why people threw hairbands there. There is no answer besides ``they do that, sometimes''. I was happy the tradition was still alive.

We were two trains from riding when ... some kind of announcement happened. We were busy talking, so missed the start, but it was something about the restraints in one car. bunny_hugger heard someone ask why they can't just rope off that row, so we guessed that one of the restraints was failing. The ride operator told us it wasn't clear how long the ride would be down, we could wait, or we could exit the queue. We figured to wait a while ... and it turned into a surprising while. What happened was someone found ... something, damp, possibly a body fluid, under one of the restraints. So after a good long while in came ... a security person, who inspected the restraint, and confirmed there was something needing hygienic cleanup. The security person called in someone. And then after another good long while --- my timestamps indicate all this took about 15 minutes, but it felt like twice that --- in came another security person, this one with a box of wet-wipes, who cleaned it off and gave the thumbs-up and everyone was back on their way.

So this all was a bit baffling. Not stopping the ride to clean up a body fluid (blood? Probably?). That would be necessary even if it weren't the second Pandemic Summer. But why the need to call security? I can imagine not having enough sterilizing wipes for every station, or for wanting the used ones to be taken to a separate trash bin. But why is that security's job rather than maintenance? Granted that at a low-key park like Michigan's Adventure security probably has more time, but then, why the first person just there to confirm the issue existed? Why not send someone out with the sanitary wipes just on spec?

There are obviously factors we are unaware of in all this.

Operations changes and challenges hit all over the park. For example, in our last minutes of the day we were startled to learn they'd closed the queues for Shivering Timbers and for Wolverine Wildcat before the park closed. Usually they've kept the queue open, and run the roller coasters as long as it took to get everyone who was in line by (in this case) 7 pm. This time? We'd heard that Cedar Point had closed the queues on its biggest lines early, to keep staff from having to work sometimes hours after the park closure. It's a new thing for here and I hope it's just a for-the-duration change.

We went next to Shivering Timbers where we found they'd put up some 'Expected Wait Time from This Point' signs, warning of 30- and 45-minute queues. This is new; Michigan's Adventure has never had any of these before. Shivering Timbers and Thunderhawk, their newest-but-still-13-years-old stel coaster, had these queue signs. Nothing else did that we saw. Shivering Timbers was running fine, even if we kep thinking how speedy this would be if they were running both trains. But given the collision a few weeks before I understand if they need time to be confident again in the brakes, and in the training. It's possible also they're still fixing one of the trains, although I'd be surprised if the issue were that.

We've worried about Shivering Timbers getting rough again. As far as we could tell it was running pretty smoothly, though. It's a big wooden coaster, and they get more rattle-y than steel coasters will. But the ride either had good care while we were away, or we're so eager to ride things we don't mind a little rattling. The brakes felt sharp.

While waiting we overheard someone else talk about being ``on line'', a Northeastern phrase that I get no end of guff about. One of the two people in this conversation wore a Brooklyn Nets hat, so maybe they are amusement park fans taking a tour of midwestern parks. They didn't have any out-of-the-area coaster shirts on, though, so there's no way to be sure.

The other roller coaster we would ride was Corkscrew. We actually got two rides on, over the day, its line not ever being too long or slow-moving. Also that's the ride we've seen rabbits grazing near, although not this trip. It's the oldest roller coaster at the park, the ride which really marked the place's conversion from a petting zoo and deer park into an amusement park, so we're glad it's there and popular and running well. At one point we did see everybody leaving the queue, for reasons we can't guess. Maybe something similar to what happened at Wolverine Wildcat.

One we never rode: Zach's Zoomer, the junior wooden coaster. I could swear we saw it running, some. At one point we walked past and saw a line of people outside the roped-off queue, hopeful that something was going to go. But we missed this one, down for maintenance(?) each time we checked near it. We also didn't ride Thunderhawk, although we walked up to it. It had too long a line for us, considering it's not really a favored line. The restraints tend to be head-bashy.

And then there's Mad Mouse. When we entered the park it wasn't running, but people were sitting in the cars. The ride has sometimes done that, having long periods of being down or being unreliable. I think we rode it once the 2018 season, and that on a day we had to try three times to catch the ride. Eventually we did see it going, but slowly; when we checked the queue it was too long for our tastes. (Now that I think maybe it also had signs saying what the wait-from-this-time should be.) Given the long times that no cars were running I have to suppose it was maintenance issues. Maybe this is what kept maintenance people from wiping down Wolverine Wildcat. But the operations on Mad Mouse have been getting worse too, as they installed seat belts and getting people into them and checking them slows down a ride that's designed to have people hop in the car, lower the restraining bar, and putter on through. Moreso now, since the ride operators ask you to tug the strap of the seat belt for them, and try getting people to anticipate and understand an instruction. Especially a ride like Mad Mouse that younger kids feel comfortable riding.

We hope to ride it this season, but it might have to wait for a day too cold or drizzly to attract a crowd. Possibly the final week of the season, when the water park is closed and it's just the dry-rides crowd.

That's not all of the park, though. Nor even all of the roller coasters. What's left I hope to reveal for Monday.


Now let's enjoy some pictures of ... not quite getting to Wolverine Wildcat yet! But getting there.

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A sign for Logger's Run, hung up as decoration on one of the park buildings inside the log flume. bunny_hugger confirmed my hunch that this was the sign the ride sign from when Michigan's Adventure was an independent park. They have a more Cedar Fair standard sign outside the ride now.


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One of the boats in drydock. You can see the diverter where the staff decides whether your boat will return to the left or the right side here.


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Logger's Run is one of the few park rides with a ride photo, although I don't know whether that ever operates anymore.


Trivia: Apollo 15's first moonwalk lasted about 27 minutes shorter than planned, because of higher-than-anticipated oxygen use for Commander Dave Scott. Source: Apollo By The Numbers: A Statistical Reference, Richard W Orloff. NASA SP-4029.

Currently Reading: The Amazing Transformations of Jimmy Olsen, Editor Bob Joy (collection), Mort Boltinoff, Mort Weisinger, original comics. More light reading of mostly nonsense stories. Still, admire the writers for figuring a way to do ``What if Jimmy Olsen were King Kong, but also a baby?''

krazy koati

Where's your shame

Monday, with bunny_hugger having finished a big project, and me seeing no particular crises developing at work, we went to Michigan's Adventure. We hadn't been there since September 2019. This seemed like a good time to go. Parks are usually busy in August, and we couldn't use the midweek lull. Michigan's Adventure isn't opening Tuesdays and Wednesdays this season, probably for staffing shortages. Thursday I had a work meeting scheduled. So though the weather was against us --- it was a gorgeous hot day, the sort of thing that encourages people to go to amusement parks --- this was our best chance to see the park.

We had to stop, before getting really out there, to pick up trophies. We'd needed to get the trophies for the pinball league Zen Tournament scheduled for Tuesday. It turns out we could have waited a week, but there was no way to foresee that. Not a serious delay, although I did worry that the trophies would bake in the trunk space of my black car all afternoon. Not so, although bunny_hugger's eyeglasses would turn slightly molten over the day. If we'd thought of it we should have put them in the thermos bag.

I was also concerned I wouldn't exactly remember how to get to the park. It turns out not to be too hard: drive west on I-96 until its end. Then north on US 31 for about ten miles. Get off at the exit with the ``Amusement Park'' sign. It's the first light on the left. This was, we realized, the first time we'd been on I-96 any farther west than the farmers market where we get vegetables since February of 2020, which is amazing considering we used to go to Grand Rapids every other week and Fremont once a month. The important thing is even despite all the change since September 2019, Michigan's Adventure is still basically invisible until you are in the parking lot.

At the parking lot gate I asked for a park map. Rumor is that parks are using the pandemic as an excuse to stop giving away maps and I wanted to know early on whether that had come to here. The attendant said she didn't have any but that we could get them inside the park. And we did, although they weren't, like, sitting in a stack in the souvenir shop. When we did buy souvenirs --- I finally got a Michigan's Adventure shirt, twelve years after my first visit there --- I asked the cashier for a map and she got confused, in part because there was also some weird issue happening with my season pass discount and my credit card needed a second try. She never got back to the map and I let that go. Grabbed a bunch from the information desk at the front of the park, on the way out. We don't really need more than two, as souvenirs of the year, but I want the park to know physical maps are in demand.

Also in demand: pop. It was 90 degrees and not a cloud in the sky; it felt hot. After getting in the park --- they waved everyone through the metal detectors, with one of the screeners giving high-fives to everyone in my horrified line, but had us hold our passes up to the scanners ourselves --- we went to one of the soda stations. The all-you-can-drinks season pass is easily the best amusement park purchase we've ever made, and a hot day like this where we kept going back for another twelve ounces of Coke Zero really proved it out.

Another early disappointment: the Kettle Corn stand was not open. I had a slender hope it might open up later in the day --- such things have happened --- but given that no park has had enough staff this year that seemed unlikely. If they had the extra staff they'd probably send them to a stand that sells more than the one thing. And then another startling moment: the petting zoo wasn't there! The facilities were, but none of the animals were, nor was there a sign saying what the hours were or anything. I don't know if this is because they've given up on the zoo, or if they didn't want to devote that many people to animal care in this second plague summer. (Possibly also they figured to avoid encouraging people to cluster around a goat or fluffy chicken or something, too.)

Shivering Timbers, the park's big mile-long wooden coaster, was running; that's the one that goes along the edge of the parking lot, and we saw its train going. The ride had a shocking accident a couple weeks ago, when one train was somehow released from the holding station before the other hand launched, and they collided. Only at something like ten miles per hour, but still enough to damage both trains. So they've been running only the one (repaired) train since then, and we feared how bad that line could be. So we picked as our first ride Wolverine Wildcat, the park's other (and older) adult wooden coaster, the one that's a near-clone of Knoebels's Phoenix.

Was that decision a mistake? Well ...


Find out tomorrow, if I get my writing done! Meanwhile enjoy some more pictures of things we saw on the way to Wolverine Wildcat.

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Loggers Run, the log flume, shocking us by being closed! And dry! On a day so hot and sunny that we'd have given the log flume a try. We were startled.


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The trough at the end of the big drop, with the return to the station. You can see there's not a drop of water in the channels there.


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Log flume boats left in drydock at the Loggers Run station.


Trivia: The Apollo 15 lunar surface experiments package was set up about 360 feet west-northwest of the Lunar Module. Source: Apollo By The Numbers: A Statistical Reference, Richard W Orloff. NASA SP-4029.

Currently Reading: Lost Popeye, Volume 7: Mystery Mansion. Tom Sims, Bela Zaboly. A plot that genuinely held together rather better than usual for Thimble Theatre!

krazy koati

Ch-ch-changes

Is my humor blog still going on? It sure is. Is it getting to a weird stretch of Popeye cartoons? Yes, but the weird stretch hasn't really caught hold yet. Soon, don't worry. Recently posted have been:

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And now let's spoil tomorrow's journal entry with photographs of what was at Michigan's Adventure on Monday and what all we got up to! Or tried to get up to, because a lot of things weren't going right.

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Michigan's Adventure doesn't really have a solid midway, but the roller coaster on the left, Corkscrew, is the park's oldest and is kind of the piece that marked its change from a petting-zoo to an amusement park. The Lakeside Gliders on the ride are its most recent major adult ride addition, which was in 2015(?).


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Dodgem is a ride inherited from Cedar Point shortly after that park bought out this one. They replaced the cars two or three years ago, though, so there's nothing really substantial that bunny_hugger could feel was still a piece of old Cedar Point here.


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Little Drummer Boy is one of the rides we had assumed was ancient, since they looked it. They only came to Michigan's Adventure in 1995, turns out, although the ride might be older than that. The ride used to be near the carousel, but it was relocated to this spot, near the Mad Mouse, in the park's big expansion for 2020, the Camp Snoopy children's area.


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The petting zoo! At least the location for it. Not a trace of animals there and we don't know whether it's absent for the pandemic or whether they've given up on the petting zoo.


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It's a shame the area was closed off because this is about as shady and tree-lined as the park gets.


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The park's Ferris Wheel, framed by the empty post that should hold the petting zoo's name and hours of operation.


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The lagoon, with the Sea Dragon rocking-ship ride and the Wolverine Wildcat roller coaster on the right and Thunderhawk in the distance. And ... wait a minute. Computer, enhance.


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Thunderhawk is red! It got repainted over the hiatus, in a bright red that makes it stand out quite nicely. The brown supports are maybe questionable but it does give them them a hue close to that of tree trunks, which works. It can't have changed the ride any, we suppose, but it's a great look.


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And here's the western shoreline of the lagoon. Bumper boats were not running, and didn't look like they'd been going all season. Possibly a staffing issue, as it's been hard to get people at every park. The swan boats on the other side of the park were running and maybe they figured those were the better use of personnel. Or maybe they trade off.


Trivia: Two hours after Apollo 15 landed, the cabin depressurized and Commander Dave Scott opened the top hatch of the Lunar Module, for a ``stand-up EVA'' lasting 33 minutes and 7 seconds, taking panoramic photographs of the area around the landing site. Source: Apollo By The Numbers: A Statistical Reference, Richard W Orloff. NASA SP-4029.

Currently Reading: Lost Popeye, Volume 7: Mystery Mansion. Tom Sims, Bela Zaboly. Ooh, that's an unexpected returning character.

krazy koati

Turn and face the strange

Last year bunny_hugger decorated for Christmas in July, for the first time. Combination of needing to do something when it was impossible to do anything and having a number of hours alone at odd hours. Not so much decoration as done for Actual Christmas, no; some decorations, some lights, the miniature artificial tree for the dining table. But it was great and a happy touch in a sad summer.

This is a much happier summer, even for all the trouble. And she decorated again. This including getting a few decorations just for Christmas in July. These are mostly cardboard cutouts, some replica vintage cutouts of reindeer that look suspiciously like Bambi and the like. It's a fun addition, and adds a nice bit of cheer to the house for, oh, a week or so. I should get some pictures, for later.


And yesterday something unprecedented happened. We had to call off a planned Lansing Pinball League event. The bar was closed unexpectedly. Someone close to many of the staff died and they shut the bar for a couple days. (I don't know anything more about the circumstances.) bunny_hugger briefly considered moving the event to Pinball Pete's East Lansing. But the ``Zen'' tournament, where pairs of people share a game, one flipper each, is by intention a casual hangout, celebrating the end of a season. Here we were treating it as a casual way to get back into the season. The bar is a place you can hang out casually; Pinball Pete's, for all that's good about it? No bar, no food, nothing but vending machine soft drinks and potato chips, few places to sit. Not sure it even has Wi-Fi.

So instead the tournament's postponed a week, the first time we've had to reschedule an event like this. Certainly the first time we've had to reschedule it the day of an event. Do hope it won't happen again.


So that thing I was teasing yesterday about events I was not yet ready to have come to light? That was me making drama out of ``we went to Michigan's Adventure and I wasn't ready to start my trip report''. I'll get into the narrative proper soon enough but for once? I like the thought of having the photos ahead of the text description for a very short while.

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And here we are! bunny_hugger getting out of the car and ready for the day ahead. The park was packed, despite it being a Monday. It was also like 90 degrees. I had hopes that most people would be in the water park, and maybe they were, but it was still a very busy day.


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A trip report earlier this season claimed Mad Mouse was running only a single car at a time, which is daft as the ride's designed for, like, a half-dozen cars to be on the track at once. But as you can see here there were, at this moment, no cars running. The cars were loaded and waiting at the station, which suggests the ride was having trouble. It wasn't as bad as 2018, when we saw the ride going just one day all season, but it does seem like something unfortunate is going on with the ride. I hope they're able to sort it out and don't have to remove the ride.


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The park's front gate. Note there aren't any Covid-19 signs the way Cedar Point has. However, rather like our trip to Cedar Point a few weeks ago, the metal detectors were not even for show: the guards were waving everyone through and not at all interested in us emptying our pockets or anything. I hope this is the first step in giving up the metal detectors as bad security theater.


Trivia: Apollo 15's translunar coast lasted 75 hours, 42 minutes, 21.37 seconds. Source: Apollo By The Numbers: A Statistical Reference, Richard W Orloff. NASA SP-4029.

Currently Reading: Toonerville Trolley, Fontaine Fox. Editors Herb Galewitz, Don Winslow. I thought of this as a re-read of a book I'd read years ago, but the fast-food receipts I put in as bookmarks tell another story. And I realize they're correct. This is a book I bought during my last work trip to New Jersey, in January of 2020. I read it in February 2020. It only feels like it was four years ago or more.

PS: How to Tell if a Point Is Inside a Shape, another bit of reusing older material so my blog doesn't sink completely beneath the waves.

krazy koati

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

So here's the story where I came this close to falling for a scam.

We got on our answering machine the last half of a message from McLaren Medical regarding our account, and the number of call to deal with this. Both bunny_hugger and I have had medical care through McLaren this calendar year, but we couldn't think of any bill we'd received that we hadn't paid. We could find some of our past Statements of Benefits (``we did not pay for this procedure for this reason: we declined payment for this procedure''). But, of course, if we had missed a bill, perhaps because of the Republican-sabotaged postal service, we wouldn't have it. This would just help us against ``we got the bill, figured to pay later, and later never arrived''. Still, the message was curious since it must have started reeling off the moment our phone picked up, not letting the answering machine give its spiel. The message as received didn't have an account number or even specify which of us two was supposedly in trouble. The answering-machine cutoff could explain that, but the message did not repeat itself, which was also mysterious. But it did have the phone number to call for this, and I sent that into DuckDuckGo.

And, mm, it looked kind of legitimate? Like, I saw the number on McLaren hospital's Financial Services page. But for McLaren Macomb County. That's a Detroit-area county. We'd expect to be asked to call the Lansing-area services. Possibly Washtenaw, for some services in Ann Arbor that might have ended up billed by McLaren there. But Macomb? So, not quite sure what was going on I called and got the tones of the-number-you-have-dialed-is-not-in-service. I tried a second time and the phone rang a few times and hung up. This seems unprofessional for a medical group's financial services system, but since companies changed their phones into Internet products they don't work either.

So Monday, before some events I am not yet prepared to have come to light, I figured to call the Lansing-area number and ask what if anything was up. This brought me to the McLaren Financial Services page and I looked at the phone number for Macomb once more. My first paragraph reveals the punch line.

The number on the phone was not McLaren's actual number. One digit in the exchange, right in the middle of the numbers, was a 7 where it should have been 4.

So that evaporated the last suspicion that I needed to do anything about this call. I'm embarrassed that I let it get any farther than reading carefully McLaren's web site to confirm whether it was their number.


And now let me take a quick interlude with a few pictures of bunny_hugger's recent jigsaw puzzle.

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The puzzle's titled ``Michigan: The Great Lakes State'' and features these cute little panels showcasing various sites of interest around Michigan. Lansing gets a remarkable five items, including what seem like really local things such as the city zoo or the Impression 5 hands-on children's museum. That sounds out because there wasn't anything Ann Arbor. bunny_hugger was able to use the dates when some of the things featured here opened or closed to narrow down the most probable window for this thing's original printing to within about three years in the mid-90s.


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And here's the most satisfying part of a completed puzzle: seeing just how far you can lift it up! Note in the background those two window fans I was talking so much about the other day.


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The puzzle turns out to hold together extremely well; bunny_hugger was able to pick it all the way up without it falling apart, and I think she was even able to lay it back down without pieces getting ruffled out of place.


Trivia: Apollo 15's Service Propulsion System engine suffered from an intermittent electrical fault on one of the two banks controlling valves. After testing of the fault on Bank A during the second midcourse correction, NASA chose to have all service propulsion engine firings except lunar orbit insertion and transearth injection done exclusively on Bank B. Source: Apollo By The Numbers: A Statistical Reference, Richard W Orloff. NASA SP-4029. (I haven't been able to pin down exactly what the banks were controlling, and apologize for that spot of vagueness. It was evidently a minor issue as it doesn't get discussed much in the Apollo 15 histories.)

Currently Reading: Toonerville Trolley, Fontaine Fox. Editors Herb Galewitz, Don Winslow.

krazy koati

Don't tell them to grow up and out of it

In other news about stirring air around in our house: for a couple years now we've agreed that the window fan in the dining room is great and we should get more. This summer we finally did. I put a window fan in the bathroom, as one of the two upstairs windows that can be usefully opened (our bedroom has a window air conditioner, so we'd rather use that). I think that this has helped our house circulate and particularly toss warm air out. But we haven't had a true heat wave since putting that in so it's hard to be sure.

We also have a second window fan that's earmarked for the kitchen. We haven't set that up yet, partly because it hasn't been so desperately hot as to need it. Partly because I'm not sure where to put the plants that line the windowsill there. But we keep thinking how really really good it should feel to have a continuous driven flow of air from outside to kitchen to dining room to outside again. Now that you're thinking about it, don't you agree?


Now on to the Silver Balls in July tournament! I didn't take as many photos of the place as I had on Monday because, well, I was playing and didn't want to distract myself or other people. The building itself didn't change appreciably from one day to the next either. But here we go, some pictures of our first, unofficial, tournament. Not pictured: the DJ with the live music and the dancing and all on the first floor, or how hot it was on the second floor.

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Told you all it was a small tournament. The trophy bunny_hugger had prepared that day sits on the right. The New Pinball League Box --- I got a plastic bin last year, part of cleaning up and consolidating a bunch of cardboard boxes --- got its first use. We had earplugs available for if the DJ ended up too loud. The QR code thing is apparently what the bar is doing instead of having menus where there's nothing we want anyway.


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bunny_hugger standing on her chair to give instructions to everyone; you'd barely know there had been a 16-month gap.


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bunny_hugger working on the pin-golf objective for Monster Bash only this time it's for real. Two games down is a team working on Medieval Madness too. You might be able to make out the objective sheets on the pinball backglasses, but the light is working against you.


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Seems like old times. The objective on Lord of the Rings was collecting 5,000 souls, which qualifies the Two Towers Multiball. If you can get one particular game mode going it's pretty easy; if you can't, it's blasted tedious. Anyway, check out the fake palm tree the bar's put in.


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And back to the alcove here, where the league began long ago. Medieval Madness was one of the original set of games we'd had. Monster Bash is one of the oldest there too, and that's why we picked those tables as part of the course.


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Not part of the course, but, bunny_hugger getting to record her achievement in The Beatles, the first game we played just for the fun of it.


Trivia: During the on-mission checkout of the Apollo 15's Lunar Module the astronauts discoverd the glass over the range/range-rate gauge was broken, letting its helium atmosphere escape. Ground testing qualified the meter to work in ordinary spacecraft atmosphere, and the crew vacuumed the broken glass out of the gauge. Source: Apollo By The Numbers: A Statistical Reference, Richard W Orloff. NASA SP-4029. Does seem to inspire the question of whether this protective helium atmosphere for the gauge was all that necessary, doesn't it? Maybe it's something where it's a useful protection during the long time the gauge sits around not being used and since they were only going to need it to last four more days they could let it slide.

Currently Reading: Toonerville Trolley, Fontaine Fox. Editors Herb Galewitz, Don Winslow.

krazy koati

Ch-ch-changes

Not quite letting my mathematics blog roll to a stop, but you can see it from there. The last four things posted goes back to cover three weeks' material:


That's all light fun. Now let's look some more at our getting ready for the Silver Balls in July mini-tournament, and thus, our first visit to the hipster bar since March 2020.

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Something new has been added: Deadpool now gives an achievement credit to the person who's tilted away the biggest bonus. Here it's DMC who lost 76,400,000 points with one unfortunate nudge. Deadpool can be a high-scoring game but that is still a huge bonus to lose.


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bunny_hugger testing out the objective on Indiana Jones. Next to it is Tron, a new arrival to our bar although the game came out about a decade ago. Iron Man, beside that, would be gone the next week.


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Oh for crying out loud ... I had two balls stuck on drop targets here. One between the N and T there; the other one's in the upper right corner, below the right wing of the upper plane.


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A cute detail! Getaway, an early-90s game that's a sequel/remake of a late-80s game, now has this late-80s-style topper. We were told it was actually added before the pandemic lockdown. I don't remember this, but can't refute it. Who doesn't love that late-80s design, though?


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And here we are, something else preposterous: I set this Grand Championship the last time we played pinball there, the Tuesday night before the lockdown began. My grand championship was still there. Even granting not many people were playing while it was impossible to play, that's a supremely beatable score.


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Peering out over the bar. It doesn't look very changed, although you can maybe see the plexiglass wall in front of the service counter.


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Junk Yard and Lord of the Rings would be two of the tables for our pin-golf tournament.


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And then while testing out objectives? Yeah, put up a name on the high score table. It did a lot to help me feel that oh, maybe the transition from the gentle, supportive, easy play of virtual pinball back to the harshness of the real thing might not be bad.


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Monday nights are karaoke nights! Look at those folks down there, kara'ing.


Trivia: The Apollo 15 launch carried the Air Force designation Eastern Test Range #7744. Source: Apollo By The Numbers: A Statistical Reference, Richard W Orloff. NASA SP-4029.

Currently Reading: Toonerville Trolley, Fontaine Fox. Editors Herb Galewitz, Don Winslow.

krazy koati

Turn and face the strange

Tuesday we did something we hadn't done since the first week of March, 2020. We went to our local hipster bar just to hang out, to see other people playing on an off-night. Not to do anything. MWS was there, and a couple people from league. Also a couple of MWS's friends from the east side of the state.

The first big thing was discovering a new pinball game there. Well, a game returned: The Walking Dead pinball. It used to be at the bar, and hasn't been for years, although it left such a strong impression all this while we kept forgetting it wasn't there. We had to think a while to figure what it had replaced. That would be Stern's Iron Man. We played the one four-player game of it and, for the first time I've played Walking Dead in two years? It went really, really well. Like, name-on-the-high-score-board good, although since the game's only been a couple days the high score board isn't that high.

Since we weren't there to compete or anything naturally a tournament broke out. One of MWS's friends has a subscription to Matchplay.com and could set up an unofficial tournament easily. So we ended up playing a four-strikes match, letting the computer pair up people and see who would be the last person to lose four games overall. So, I had some games that just went lousy, like Getaway (ours is a tough table) or Stern's Jurassic Park. The latter, in part, because I had completely forgotten the rules and the game's a complicated rules-heavy piece.

But I also had good games, too. Some, from pure luck. On The Munsters the mystery shot gave me Raven Multiball, a particularly lucrative one and that's normally hard to earn. I got picked on Batman 66, a game I always like, and was able to build my two-ball minor villain (Shame) into a huge game. Willy Wonka, also a game I always love, let me put Slugworth Multiball alongside the Welcome To The Factory mode, building up a couple kajillion points while my opponent went and fumed. Attack From Mars, against bunny_hugger, went incredibly well for me. Everyone chuckled when the computer came up with that pairing, since everyone finds it funny when I'm put up against bunny_hugger for a match. I don't.

Well, the way it turned out? I ended up with three strikes and MWS one, with us playing for bragging rights and also a $25 pot. (I missed why it wasn't just dollar games.) He's a better player than me, so all I hoped to do was beat him once, make him work for it. Thing is ... I didn't beat him once. I beat him three games in a row, including a game where I just had to keep grinding out attempts to finish off a mode on Kiss. It's not a preposterous turn of events --- MWS wasn't playing up to his full capacity --- but I was playing surprisingly strong.

bunny_hugger groused that I came out of the lockdown somehow a better pinball player. I don't think that's true, except that I've been using our Tri-Zone, and a lot of The Pinball Arcade app, to practice new skills. The particularly important one is dead-bouncing. This is the most deceptive pinball skill because it is literally just don't hit the flipper. The reason this is a skill is that the game is always tempting you to flip. You're trained to think even if flipping makes you lose the ball, at least you tried something. But most of the time, it's better not to flip because then the ball will go slower, and a slower ball is more likely in control and can be sent where you want. So if anything has changed, I'm more comfortable not hitting the ball.

But wow. It's really paid off last week and this week. I wonder what's going to happen if we get back to pinball events that count for ranking.


So now let me get to pictures from the Silver Balls in July mini-tournament, our first for-fun pinball event in sixteen months. This was all last week but don't worry, all pinbal events look basically the same, as you've seen and will see again. This first couple pictures are from the night before, when we went to scout out what was there and how it was playing and all.

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The first big shock of the night: that my name was still on any high score tables. This would be an 'achievement credit', one of the lesser things you can do in Batman 66. Still, I would have bet on the whole high score table being deliberately blanked at some point over 16 months.


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The secondary alcove with some of my favorite games including Rocket Raccoon in the far corner and Willy Wonka. Note that above Willy Wonka is a little doll Wonka hung from the wall, for the reasons.


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bunny_hugger on Monster Bash, testing just how hard the objective we'd picked was. You can't actually make a pinball golf objective too easy --- ``let the ball drain'' would be missed by 25% of all players --- but it's worth testing that it's still fun to try.


Trivia: At the Nemean Games, held in the third year of the Ancient Olympiad cycle, winners received a wreath of celery leaves. Source: Encyclopedia of the Modern Olympic Movement, Editors John E Findling, Kimberly D Pelle. (Wikipedia says the celery leaves came from Argos.)

Currently Reading: Toonerville Trolley, Fontaine Fox. Editors Herb Galewitz, Don Winslow. Collection of the old, classic panel cartoon that I've read before but, what the heck. It's pleasant.

krazy koati

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

So now the home-repair story of the year. A couple years back the motor in our bathroom ceiling vent went. So we stopped using it and accepted that in the seasons when we couldn't leave the bathroom window open we'd get a hot, swampy mess in our bathroom. This because I can't take a shower under 85 minutes in length. But we always felt, you know, someday we should replace it. Or get it replaced. Or deal with it later since after all, we normally just run the fan a couple minutes and what's the difference between running the fan for 15 minutes and for zero minutes?

A few months ago we looked at a replacement fixture and couldn't find one the same size as what we had. And, for that matter, we weren't sure exactly how big the hole in the ceiling was to know how to replace it. bunny_hugger finally found that the successor company to Nu-Tone, our fan maker, no longer sells the motor for our fan. But she was able to find a replacement motor and fan assembly that people found worked for us, and got that. And she found a couple videos on how to remove the old and replace it with a new. And then left it to wait because, hey, why not put this off a little longer?

Well, Wednesday, bunny_hugger was working at the bookstore she sometimes does. And I didn't have much work for actual work to work on. And I felt good about the videos. So ... why not try it? As the famous last words have it, what could go wrong?

It turns out, nothing went wrong. The ceiling fan cover came off easily. I needed to nudge the casing a bit to break the paint that welded it to the ceiling, but that's all. And I took the chance to set it in the bathtub and wash ancient dust from the vents there. The old motor itself was encrusted in so much dirt it's plausible that its only trouble was that it needed cleaning, but I haven't tested that. In the event, the old motor had exactly the same bracket that the new one has. It slid back in and screwed into place in less time than it took to watch either video. Even adding in the time to go to the basement and flip the circuit breaker switches, it was a fast job.

I left it as a surprise for the next morning, leaving the ceiling fan running after my shower for bunny_hugger to discover. And she did, and was happy that it worked and surprised that I did so much work without telling her. Really we were fortunate. This was a bit more work than changing a light bulb, but not too much. Maybe as difficult as changing a car's battery. Having to do it overhead was a small complication and I was terrified I'd drop a screw into the toilet even though the lid was closed. But, like I say, nothing bad happened at all.

Also maybe I'm imagining but I really feel like the ceiling fan draws so much warm out out that it helps cool the house. But we'll know better come the next heat wave.


Here's just a couple pictures from walking around town. I haven't been walking around much the last two weeks as I've had a sore spot in my foot I figure needs rest more than exercise. So I haven't got updates on the bridge replacement, for example, and I'm sure to regret that. But not as much as I'd regret an aggravated foot.

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A great whomping mass of mushrooms formed on one of the lawn extensions down the block a little.


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Some more of the mushrooms gathered there. The impression I had from bunny_hugger is that this isn't even what they were at their peak. No idea what was going on but we have to suppose it's the fae folk, of course.


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House that's gone and camouflaged itself so well even the power company might not know it's still there.


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Stabler Park, which used to be a much bigger and more substantial park before they put the Interstate in. The city bought a bunch of other properties to make local parks so that the total parkland


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Little arc of a street that's now called Lathrop and that we suspect was something else before the Interstate was put through.


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And a severe angle looking up at one of the street lights because this seemed like it would be interesting.


Trivia: For the first twelve Olympiads the sole athletic event recorded was the stade, the stadium run (a sprint of about 180-190 meters). Source: Encyclopedia of the Modern Olympic Movement, Editors John E Findling, Kimberly D Pelle.

Currently Reading: The Complete Peanuts, 1950 - 2000, Charles M Schulz. Editor Gary Groth.