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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in austin_dern's LiveJournal:

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Wednesday, February 21st, 2018
12:10 am
When the whole world had barely begun

So you know how rabbits are not rodents, pandas are not procyonids, and mongooses are not vivverids, and skunks are not mustelids? And how there isn't any logically coherent taxonomic unit that can be labelled ``Reptiles''? Be honest. Because it does seem like a lot of people's ideas of animal taxonomy was fossilized by what they kind of remember from elementary school. And there's been a lot of changes in recent decades, as genetic research got added to the bulk of humanity's knowledge. Science finds these things. Eventually they catch up to pop science treatments. Eventually, maybe, even to the pops.

The Ruthven Natural History Museum had panels that were decades old and yes, part of what we were there for was to see how hilariously out-of-date they'd let text get. It's easy to suppose they hadn't done much updating in the last year or two as plans to move the facility were under way. But how long had they let things slide before then? I admit knowing only a few little things about gene-based taxonomic discoveries, mostly about the raccoon and coati family (raccoons are farther from coatis than we used to think!) and also I'm gratified to learn there's a fair bunch of taxonomists who don't see why guinea pigs are called rodents. But bunny_hugger is as expert on this as you can be without it being your area of specialization.

So I don't know the significance of the ``Planning in progress for new display. Thank you for your patience!'' sign covering up their display paragraph about Homo habilis. It might be that they just had to put a sign up somewhere and this was convenient, central enough shelf space. But we did try to date the installation of the panels by what they said about animals. The panels have a strong tone of the chain-of-progress view of animals, which to me reads as a pre-1960 thing. ``Worldwide primitive marsupials'' in a display about the branching off of species types? Or the claim that ``the koala is one of the most distinctive and most familiar of living Australian marsupials''? No question it's distinctive and familiar, but kangaroos are so in the lead at most-distinctive-and-familiar. It's kind of like ``Denny Laine was one of the most prominent members of Wings''. Also, I'm not looking to get Moxie and the museum fighting. But I also can't see the new facility offering a statement like ``Sciuromorphs, the most primitive rodents'' even if it is (still?) thought that their ``principal chewing muscle (masseter) remains relatively simple''.

They describe the procyonids as ``closely related to the dogs, and are similar to the dog ancestors''. Certainly was a time people thought that was so; look at the family name. These days we'd say they're close to mustelids, and have mephitidae ancestors. (This is shown off with a raccoon skull and a nice greywashed illustration of a coati.) ``The Vivverids include the living civets and the mongooses'', it says, although offers in a footnote that mongooses are ``by some, now separated as herpestids''. That ``some'' has grown to be ``all'' and the panel probably would give us the date range for the panels' creation. (We so need histories of science thought.) ``Hyaenas developed from Vivverids in the Miocene'' it says, and so far as I know that's not in serious dispute. Lagomorphs are shown on the same display wall as Rodents and Sciuromorphs, but the text starts off by explaining ``Rabbits and hares, except in their dentition, differ substantially from rodents''. My understanding is rabbits were split off from the rodents ages ago and pop culture never quite accepted that.

Not all of our time was spent giggling over the fact that humans used to know things less well than we do today, and certainly not thinking about what stuff we know today that will turn out to be hilariously wrong forty years from now. A lot was spent appreciating the craft of the older exhibits. Many of them were small statues, reproducing the appearance (as best as could be known, in some cases) of animals. Many of the sculptures had discs beside them crediting the thing to Carleton Watson Angell, museum artist from 1926 to 1956. Some was spent just admiring the more spectacular exhibits, particularly the (hanging) skeletons of early whales and whale-related creatures. At least one of them was the skeleton of a Basilosaurus, a whale, that looks like some kind of crazy science fiction sea creature.

An amazing exhibit I did not witness: their Edmontosaurus skeleton. bunny_hugger remembered seeing this. But the 32-foot-large skeleton had already been taken out, with drywall temporary partitions blocking off most of its area. I won't have the chance to see it, either: one sign beside a bunch of those great old pre-feather artworks of dinosaurs prowling around forests explained that as they freed the skeleton from its old base they found it was too fragile to be remounted. It transpired the skeleton had been originally placed in a ``laying down'' pose because that was the only way to hold it together to start with. The head's slated to be returned to display, at least.

This was my first visit to this museum. And I'll surely never again see the place in this form. The display labels are surely never going to be seen again, a pity, as three-dimensional letters mounted to the plaques are so inviting and tactile in a way that a neat panel of printed Helvetica text --- or, worse [*], a tablet computer reeling out data --- can't be. But it felt as warmly familiar and nostalgic to me as it must have to bunny_hugger. The graphic design, the styling, the ordering of things and the faint attitude about how animals developed brought back thoughts of being the 70s and reading pop-nature books themselves from the 60s or 50s and that old-fashioned art and old-fashioned chain-of-progress and all that. It was that curious bit of visiting a new place that feels like a home revisited.

[*] Worse if you are, like me here, letting sentiment overwhelm good judgement. Putting aside that museum labeling should reflect the best-established thinking about a subject, obviously it would be better to have, say, a panel that can provide text at children's, adolescent, or adult reading levels as desired, and in as many languages as the staff can support. That's --- well, I won't say easy, but at least it's possible with a touch-screen panel and unthinkable for the old-fashioned kind. And that's before you start thinking about accessibility for people with impaired sight. Inch-tall black letters on a green backdrop seen in a yellow light from at least four feet away is great for those who can read it, but other people should have their chances too.

Trivia: The curling arena for the 1992 Albertville/Savoie Winter Olympic Games was built by Pralognan-la-Vanoise, a village with population 650. The facility cost a reported #3,400 per inhabitant, with $400 per day maintenance cost. Source: Encyclopedia of the Modern Olympic Movement, Editors John E Findling, Kimberly D Pelle.

Currently Reading: The Urban Bestiary: Encountering the Everyday Wild, Lyanda Lynn Haupt.

Some Mathematics Things I Read On Twitter, for those curious what I am up to.

PPS: Springtime!


Do you see our letterbox planted here? No, because it isn't in this mass of greenery. But it's a good mass of early-spring plantings anyway and I think most of this is actually plants grown on top of water so watch your step.


Merch table set up in the old skating rink. This had us baffled at the time, but I think it's stuff sold for the frisbee golf players who were having a time in the park.


And someone's abandoned kayak, upside-down and stuck in the river. We assumed it was abandoned. If it wasn't then we were unaware of the distress signals being transmitted.

Tuesday, February 20th, 2018
12:10 am
When you were a tadpole and I was a fish

So the Saturday before Christmas we made a trip to Ann Arbor. Not for the usual things, either. We had to get to the University of Michigan's Ruthven Museums Building. The Museum of Natural History there was closing at the end of December, and being moved along with the university's other museums into a big new building. This would be bunny_hugger's farewell visit to one of those big exciting places that area schoolchildren are bussed to. Also, while we could expect that the exhibits would be moved over, their settings wouldn't necessarily be. She wasn't sure but thought that, like, there were dioramas and plaques explaining what people thought about natural history when they were made, in the 50s and 60s and stuff. That's an extremely long time ago, scientifically. This would surely be the last chance to see hilariously out-of-date plaques declaiming on the origins of mammals and stuff like that.

The Ruthven museum building was put up in 1928, so it's got these lovely Art Deco touches. Little squares embedded in the building showing off natural or mythological creatures, exotic plants, Poseidon, that sort of thing. A front door surrounded by those frieze patterns. Flanking either doors are bronze pumas on pedestals. They're decade-old replacements of the original terrazo pumas installed in 1940. I'm assuming they're staying there as the building gets renovated and the museum leaves for its new home.

The entrance hall is one of those enormous, two-storey, circular plazas with a domed ceiling featuring inset panels of natural history stuff and, oh, you just know whatever the new place is like won't have an entrance hall like that. I mean, classic Greek-style columns.

We went first over to the gift shop, in case some final souvenir would be irresistible. We would come back to look more carefully about an hour later, because I mis-read the hours and thought the gift shop closed earlier than it did. (It stayed open later on weekends than on weekdays, though the museum stayed open to later hours on the weekdays, for the reasons I suppose?) When we returned bunny_hugger would buy a fossil. I would keep looking at some raccoon plushes but didn't get anything, in the end.

The first room, and the biggest and most important one, was the Prehistoric Life Exhibit. Dusty, red-faded dioramas of animals around the watering hole. Sculptures of a snake around a clutch of eggs. Exhibition booths with fossils mounted on the all and surrounded by actual three-dimensional letters stuck to the wall. The typefaces are pre-Helvetica. (I'm not sure what typeface most of the exhibits were. Neuzeit S looks plausible, although the letters are rounded off on the ends, possibly a concession to the need for someone to affix this stuff to the wall without being stabbed by a corner.) A petrified tree trunk from California, set against a faded turquoise wall. A figurine of a sabertooth attacking a giant ground sloth in a diorama labelled ``Life 15 thousand years ago in California''. It promised to be exactly what we'd hoped for.

Trivia: Over six hundred exhibitions and performances (visual, literary, film, and performing arts) were presented over five weeks as part of the 1988 Calgary Olympic Arts Festival. Source: Encyclopedia of the Modern Olympic Movement, Editors John E Findling, Kimberly D Pelle.

Currently Reading: The Urban Bestiary: Encountering he Everyday Wild, Lyanda Lynn Haupt.

PS: And hanging out around Easter! Also checking on a letterbox we'd planted.


bunny_hugger's parents' dog, out on a walk, and not the least bit happy about me being around or still being around, really.


Doesn't mean the little basset hound can't hustle when she means to, though. Look at those ears.


Historical plaque at the park in Albion, Michigan, which would seem to make a clear and verifiable claim. Wikipedia says the origins of T-ball are disputed and there's at least four major claimants to being the origin of the sport.

Monday, February 19th, 2018
12:10 am
Girl you thought he was a man but he was a muffin

So it was a little embarrassing this thing that happened on my mathematics blog. What happened? If you read the blog as it was published, like on your Reading page, or in your RSS tool, you know. If not, well, here we go.

What's Going On In Mary Worth? And What Are We Going To Do With All These Muffins? November 2017 - February 2018 saw an exciting turn of events, almost as thrilling as the conclusion to Motor City Fur[ry] Con 2017! Let's watch.


Legitimately came across this picture and could not figure out how the heck I did it. Thought I must have discovered some freaky weird mode in my camera.


So, have you figured out how I did it yet?


bunny_hugger back on the dance floor, nimbly avoiding the aliens' transporter beam.


Ah, but this poor fellow, he wasn't so nimble and got swarmed by the teleportation field.


He's about halfway dematerialized yet still trying to escape the field.


But it's too late. The lights fade and he's just ... gone.

And now I'm done with Motor City Furry Con 2017 pictures.

Trivia: Most venues for the 1984 Sarajevo Winter Games were completed by the end of 1981, and were ready for competition in December 1982, more than a year ahead of the games' start. Source: Encyclopedia of the Modern Olympic Movement, Editors John E Findling, Kimberly D Pelle.

Currently Reading: The Urban Bestiary: Encountering the Everyday Wild, Lyanda Lynn Haupt.

Sunday, February 18th, 2018
12:10 am
And we'll do some caroling

I'm going to skip over something chronologically because I suspect it's going to be a multiple-day essay and it'll flow a little better this way. Christmas we spent, as usual, at bunny_hugger's parents' home, along with her brother and his girlfriend. And our grief at having lost Columbo.

A couple years ago bunny_hugger's parents put a fireplace into their living room. It's a neat little wood-burning stove and it really adds a lot of comfort and heat to the house. What I had somehow missed before was how her father lights the thing. He doesn't feel the thing starts reliably enough with a Duraflame log or other bits of kindling. So he's gone to a propane torch. So Christmas Eve Day and Day directly were interrupted by his bringing a flamethrower out and shooting it into the fireplace. For a surprisingly long time, too. I would have thought jets of blue flame would make blocks of wood catch fire a lot more easily than they do, and, not so much so. I have to suspect that maybe what her father really wanted was to be posted to all the kids' social media feeds. He got his wish.

This past Christmas was one in which I got a tiny bit outside my habit of giving out calendars and books to everybody. I gave a fair number of both, mind you, but not exclusively them. Like, I gave this nice little dip-mixing bowl to bunny_hugger's brother's girlfriend. I didn't completely escape my tradition of giving out flat stuff, though. I found a couple of albums to give bunny_hugger and her brother and her father. Her brother I gave a copy of Sparks's Kimono My House. This neatly, coincidentally, matched something she gave him, a promotional Kimono My House fan that she'd gotten from the Sparks Fan Club. We didn't coordinate. I had picked up the album several months ago, holding it in reserve to give bunny_hugger, but she got a newly-printed rerelease of the album herself and so I redirected my used-record-store purchase. I also gave bunny_hugger's father two Pat Benatar albums, the response to his saying how he was a fan of Benatar and that he only had her greatest-hits album. He hasn't got a record player, and I was aware there was an excellent chance bunny_hugger would be roped into ripping the albums to CD. She hasn't had to do that yet, though. I am fully prepared to learn how to do it myself, too, which seems like the minimally fair thing to do.

The last couple years we'd gone to see a movie on Christmas Eve or Day. bunny_hugger's brother suggested that we skip going to see The Last Jedi, as he'd rather have the time with family, and that was good enough. We did still want to go, and figured we'd go see it sometime later. (That ended up being mid-January, without her mother, and after her brother and his girlfriend had gone home.)

On the night of Christmas bunny_hugger and I accepted the bitter cold and walked around her parents' neighborhood. It had a great number of houses well-decorated, and under a fresh light layer of snow, making the lighting all the more wonderful.

Boxing Day her parents got up early to drive her brother and his girlfriend to the airport. I got up next, showering and alarming their dog. I took their dog for a walk around the neighborhood, less bitterly cold, and enjoyed the scene of a dog running through snow about as tall as she was.

We briefly thought that we'd be driving from her parents' home to Fremont, on the west side of the state, to get the last Blind Squirrel League tournament of the year in. But it had been snowing some, and the weather on the west side looked really bad, and we gave our condolences to AJH who runs the league. Within minutes he took a survey on when was the best time to do the finals, and they got bumped to the weekend when the weather teased being less bad. It's nice to feel so wanted. It turned out that the weather wasn't actually better come Saturday, but it did give us more time to spend with bunny_hugger's parents before leaving Christmas behind.

Trivia: Both the United States and the Soviet Union delegations to the 1980 Winter Olympics arrived to the opening ceremonies late owing to the traffic congestion around Lake Placid. Source: Encyclopedia of the Modern Olympic Movement, Editors John E Findling, Kimberly D Pelle.

Currently Reading: The Urban Bestiary: Encountering the Everyday Wild, Lyanda Lynn Haupt.

PS: Oh, I'm close to done with Motor City Fur[ry] Con pictures, but I'm not there yet, I admit.


I see what Sylvester's trying to do there.


Oh yeah, one of the directional signs that I think I photograph every year. Don't remember if 'Canada' is a new entry.


bunny_hugger enjoying her time on the dance floor in costume.

Saturday, February 17th, 2018
12:10 am
Later we'll have some pumpkin pie

We've taken to cutting down two Christmas trees. Also to getting them later in December than we really mean. It's just hard finding time, especially since the tree farm we go to runs the truck back to the more distant trees only on the weekends and, especially when we're meeting bunny_hugger's parents there, we don't want to walk quite that far. We end up walking at least that far, since we've ended up looking for trees that are planted several dozen miles away from either the main shop or the dropoff spot. (Also, they haven't had a reindeer at the dropoff spot for several years now. The one they used to have died, and they haven't found a replacement so far as I know.)

While wandering around looking for any suitable tree we found one that just looked almost perfect ... except that somebody had already cut it down. But we couldn't find what imperfection had made them abandon the tree after cutting it. While decrying the waste we thought: well ... gosh, it is perfect. Why would someone have abandoned it? We thought maybe they had cut the tree down and then gone back for a cart to wheel it back, but the branches had snow on top. And it had snowed the previous night but not that day. If there were one flaw to the tree, it's that it was small, but it was just too perfectly-shaped to turn down. And so we got our first tree without any cutting needed.

We also wanted an upstairs tree. And here, after we found one, bunny_hugger wanted to try cutting the tree down. We'd gotten our own hacksaw, much newer and shinier and rust-free compared to the ones the tree farm loaned out. It's cut through some of our weed trees as though going through butter. On the Christmas tree at the farm ... it was slower. But still speedy. And we got two trees without my having to so much as kneel down.

bunny_hugger's parents bought a pre-cut tree, as they do every year, and spoke of how maybe next year they'd cut one themselves, as they do every year.

We got back to our house where we set the trees up, and delighted at how Columbo looked with curious awe at a tree in our house. We gave him a couple little branches, that he chewed at for a few minutes --- we wondered what it was with Flemish Giants and Christmas trees, as this had been one of Stephen's favorite treats --- although as usual with eating things, Columbo lost interest after a bit and then just sort of allowed them to be.

Columbo died the next day, having seizures. And one of our thoughts was: did the tree poison him? There are those who hold that rabbits shouldn't be fed pine needles. But he didn't have many and it isn't as though wild rabbits can't have all the pine needles they have a taste for. We speculated maybe there was pesticide put on the trees that had poisoned our rabbit. But that wouldn't fit either: if anything even suspected of being pet-dangerous were on the trees, there would be warnings everywhere at the farm.

We had, as often we do, Chinese food from the place with scarily good fake meat as an early dinner with bunny_hugger's parents. And then, as we never do, we drove down to their house. bunny_hugger was helping set up Christmas lights inside their windows, so that there'd be something festive to see from outside. And her father gave us the laser-cut wood ornament celebrating Columbo's existence. We also, I think, played Mice and Mystics, an event that should have been more memorable because we finally, finally beat the last chapter in the basic campaign. We had first played this campaign in July, when we were staying in Omena and with bunny_hugger's brother, and we'd come close but lost each time. This time, no, we did everything right and got the lucky rolls that let us close in triumph.

Trivia: After Denver voters refused to fund the facilities needed to host the 1976 Winter Games, former International Olympic Committee president Avery Brundage said that had he been in office, he would have used this (which came months after the attacks at the Munich Summer Olympics) as the chance to end the Winter Olympics altogether. Source: Encyclopedia of the Modern Olympic Movement, Editors John E Findling, Kimberly D Pelle.

Currently Reading: The Urban Bestiary: Encountering the Everyday Wild, Lyanda Lynn Haupt.

PS: Reading the Comics, February 10, 2018: I Meant To Post This Thursday Edition but you know, stuff came up.

PPS: A couple more karaoke pictures from MCFC? Sure!


bunny_hugger rejoined the air band and got herself a nice cover for my acoustic album.


Karaoke ended with everyone out on the floor to sing, of course, Bohemian Rhapsody.


People securing a spot for the Dead Dog Dance early.

Friday, February 16th, 2018
12:10 am
Wish I could cure this infernal allergy

And what's happening on my humor blog? What I think is my best set of back-to-back long-form pieces, for one, and a summary of Mark Trail that just delights me. Miss it? It's not too late to fix things.

So yeah, if you were wondering why I have too many pictures to fit on my hard drive it's because I'm still not done with Motor City Fur[ry] Con 2017 even though the Closing Ceremony pictures were like three days ago.


bunny_hugger not at all sure about the karaoke signup. (They didn't have any listings, just a promise that if you thought of a song they'd find its karaoke version on YouTube somewhere. Which sounds great except that ``pick a song you can sing'' is much harder than ``pick a song from this list you'd like to sing''.)


bunny_hugger as air guitarist for the karaoke session.


Inevitable karaoke night scene.


bunny_hugger singing Baker Street while one of the air-band plays an otter tail as saxophone.


So you see how this pulled focus away from her singing.


And then, well, does this count as a wackiness ensuing?

Trivia: Sapporo, host of the 1972 Winter Games, had with its million people the greatest population of any Winter Olympics host city to that date. Source: Encyclopedia of the Modern Olympic Movement, Editors John E Findling, Kimberly D Pelle.

Currently Reading: Concepts in Thermal Physics, Stephen J Blundell, Katherine M Blundell.

Thursday, February 15th, 2018
12:10 am
Everybody walk the dinosaur

So here's a thing that happened: right before Thanksgiving I had the garage door open for something or other. It wouldn't lower. This would happen sometimes. I assumed the sensors had gotten misaligned so the opener thought there was something obstructing the door. Couldn't clear them out, though, nor align them to the door's satisfaction, and I finally had to pull the emergency handle and lower the door manually. Usually after doing this the opener will come to its senses and restart, but nothing doing, and all the obvious things to do, like unplugging and replugging it, didn't make any progress.

So the installers sent someone out to inspect it and they determined it was the logic board on the opener. And it could be replaced, at a cost pretty near what the entire unit would cost. So after some thought we decided to buy a new opener. And new springs, since those had been installed wrong in the first place, somehow forcing the old door opener to work harder than it ought. And as the old opener was working harder than it ought, it had damaged the door itself, which showed in some of those bits of damage you just sort of live with unless you're selling the house. This was therefore a good chance to just fix the whole thing, promising us a better door, one with a key to serve as emergency unlock (and spare us having to literally break into the doorless detached garage), and a quieter door opener come to that.

They did need us to clear out enough space in the garage to lay the new door flat inside it. This only required us to push stuff to the far back. But it gave us a good chance to at least move everything out of the spots they had acquired by long custom. When the warm weather comes we'll be able to think about where to set stuff so it's accessible and logically placed. It also prompted us to move the bicycle, the lawn mower, and the snow blower inside the house, to the basement. This was because until they did put in the new door, our garage was unlocked, just sitting there. We don't think people come around testing out the locks, but we could bear someone stealing a five-gallon bucket of squirrel food more easily than we could bear someone stealing the lawn mower. Also, I can't recommend moving snow blowers down flights of stairs. Mercifully we didn't get a snow heavy enough to need it before the new door was put in.

And the put in a nice one! About two weeks after the original ``one and a half to two weeks'' estimate, and they called the day I was going to call to ask if they'd forgotten us. The new door's nice and smooth, and clean. And it comes with a remote control, something we'd not had before. So far it just sits in the main house, letting me open the door before going out to get firewood or the trash bins or whatnot. But wow, does it feel nice to save all that time standing in the cold waiting for the door to open. Even better when I realize I failed to close the door and don't have to go out to deal with it.

I concede this is a boring topic. But it's made our house that little bit nicer to live in.

Trivia: For the 1968 Grenoble Olympics the International Olympic Committee and the Fédération Internationale de Ski agreed that skis would be confiscated from athletes immediately after Alpine Ski descents, so as to keep them from appearing in photographs with manufacturer's trademarks visible. This was a concession to Avery Brundage's opinion this took the commercialization and professionalization of the games too far. It lasted until Jean-Claude Killy was photographed (probably accidentally) shaking the hand of a photographer while showing his Rossignol ski gloves. Source: Encyclopedia of the Modern Olympic Movement, Editors John E Findling, Kimberly D Pelle.

Currently Reading: Concepts in Thermal Physics, Stephen J Blundell, Katherine M Blundell.

PS: MCFC 2017! Well after closing ceremonies and not nearly done yet.


Rodents racing each other to eat a sandwich first.


The gradual dispersing of the crowds in the hotel lobby and also the cover for my furry high school dating sim.


bunny_hugger didn't know there'd be celebrities here!

Wednesday, February 14th, 2018
12:10 am
Rocking for a mile

Happy Valentine's Day, my love. Let me let you down a little by doing nothing but share pictures for it. A full battery of Motor City Furry Con 2017 pictures:


People milling around after the official end of the convention.


Hyena thinking it's safe to snitch now that the convention's over.


Hotel main lobby and the chance for people in fursuits to just touch each other a while.


Oh yeah, so, photographed from the bulletin board: the helpful easy instructions on how to ``log in'' to Sociopolitical Ramifications using your cell phone. Unanswered: gosh, so why aren't mucks having a second golden age in the era when every furry has a lot of time and a mobile phone that's great for hanging out in a text-based format? (And yeah, a lot of this is stuff to do once you've logged in, but still.)


Well, I see no reason why this request shouldn't be respected! Let's see how it ...



Trivia: Only the ice hockey and skating venues were actually within the city limits of Innsbruck for the 1964 Winter Games. Source: Encyclopedia of the Modern Olympic Movement, Editors John E Findling, Kimberly D Pelle.

Currently Reading: Concepts in Thermal Physics, Stephen J Blundell, Katherine M Blundell.

PS: There's Technically Still Time To Buy A Theorem For Valentine's Day although not really quite so much time.

Tuesday, February 13th, 2018
12:10 am
Nobody does it half as good as you

Day after Thanksgiving comes with a couple customs. bunny_hugger working at the bookstore for the fun and chaos of Black Friday. She learned they didn't need her, though. She was able to sign up for a couple hours on the Saturday after, but right before she'd have left they called to say it was not busy enough to need her. This would sound ominous, you'd think, but the store seems to be doing all right. And ... well, we'll get to that in time.

But also a Black Friday tradition: the guy who owns the VFW Ann Arbor Pinball Museum has made that one of the handful of days each year he's allowed to open the museum to the general public. (It's a zoning thing, although I have the sense that the guy who owns it also prefers not having the general public there too often.) The price of admission: cans of food and a Toys For Tots present. In 2016 he'd opened the place two weekends, one with a canned-food drive right after Thanksgiving, one with a Toys For Tots drive in mid-December. Apparently this year he didn't want the hassle and combined the two into a single event.

Still, four hours in a venue that's got literally hundreds of pinball machines, in outstanding shape, including many that you just don't see anywhere else is a great chance. It's also got a broader variety than the Silverball Museum back in Asbury Park; the Silverball museum hasn't got a lot of electromechanicals, and nothing from Stern Pinball (original or modern). It's a chance to play some of the games that first got me into pinball, like Secret Service (featuring the music from Secret Agent Man and Mission Impossible and Get Smart,</strong> and finishing the game with a tinny digital rendition of Baby You're The Best that even speaks aloud ``bay-bee bay-bee'') and Strange Science, and ... to play them with a skill that I'd just never have imagined, back when I first got to college.

I also found myself gravitating towards the late-solid-state games. These are, generally, really hard tables to play. Computers had made it possible for games to register score really quickly, but they weren't quite sophisticated enough to make for modes, where the value of different shots changes radically and temporarily. So to keep players interested games got faster, and the playfields got more crowded. So it's a great era for incredibly frustrating games where nothing seems to happen except that one time in a thousand when everything happens. It was fun, though. Challenging without being too hard. I may be at a point in my pinball-playing life when I'm ready to master this field.

Trivia: The opening ceremonies for the 1960 Squaw Valley Winter Olympics were produced by Disney, and included a chores of 2,500 accompanied by a 1,200-piece band. There were 12,500 paying spectators on site. Source: Encyclopedia of the Modern Olympic Movement, Editors John E Findling, Kimberly D Pelle.

Currently Reading: Concepts in Thermal Physics, Stephen J Blundell, Katherine M Blundell. An actual thermodynamics textbook, for a change of pace.

PS: Closing Ceremonies photos from Motor City Fur[ry] Con 2017, and nowhere near the end of my picture-taking.


There's never many macros at Motor City Fur[ry] Con, but when they do, they drop candy everywhere.


The closing-ceremony ritual of making the charity's representative tear up at what the total donation ended up being. (Pets for Vets, Southeast Michigan, and ten thousand dollars.)


bunny_hugger's puppet Buttercup all flopped out and exhausted from the convention.

Monday, February 12th, 2018
12:10 am
Dancing by the Nile, the ladies love his style

Have I had time to think about my mathematics blog? Technically speaking, yes, I have. What have I put on it recently? This.

Also, if you don't want to know What’s Going On In Mark Trail? From November 2017 to February 2018? Did He Scream A Lot? then you are missing out on one of the greatest single panels from the story comics from 2017 and that's a year that included Mary Worth's cruise ships fascination. So. On to the last day at Motor City Fur[ry] Con, where I actually got a couple more pictures worth sharing than I did on Saturday. Not sure how that happened.


What that scary goose was defending: they'd set up a nest in the landscaping of the Holiday Inn Express and there was only so close you could get without the male getting really quite anxious and thus making you anxious.


The bar in con suite, mostly showing off the wolf handle for one of the taps.


One of our panels was about how to make your own video game console, with a demonstration, that eventually got through glitches with the projector. The picture being sideways wasn't one of the glitches; you have to set the monitor that way.


And showing off the parts of a video game console, which amounts to circuit boards you get from somewhere I don't know because we came in late, and a frame, and a lot of buttons and wires.


Someone bringing a bribe of food to the people guarding con suite.


Closing ceremonies already! Also one of about two times I remembered what the con theme was.

Trivia: The 1956 Winter Olympics at Cortina d'Ampezzo had two new competitions: the 30-kilometer men's Nordic skiing race, and the women's Nordic 3 x 5 kilometer relay race. Source: Encyclopedia of the Modern Olympic Movement, Editors John E Findling, Kimberly D Pelle.

Currently Reading: George Green, Mathematician and Physicist, 1793 - 1841: The Background to his Life and Work, D M Cannell.

Sunday, February 11th, 2018
12:10 am
The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh

Thanksgiving 2017 was different. Since 2010 I'd been celebrating Thanksgiving with bunny_hugger and her parents, and we did that part again. But this time we didn't host it at our house. bunny_hugger's mother was still feeling too much pain from her back, the one that had spoiled her whole year since early July, to feel comfortable spending the hour driving up here and spending the whole day at our house. (Where, among other things, there's not a first-floor bathroom, not an ideal situation when stairs are hard enough to take that she spent a lot of time sleeping in a chair downstairs instead of climbing up to bed.)

So we had it at bunny_hugger's parents', instead. Which amounted to, largely, a change in just who'd bring bags full of food to which house. We have an easier time finding things like the Tofurkey roasts that make for the centerpiece of dinner. We didn't bring our bunny plates or the enormous serving dish with His Majesty printed on it. Nor did we bring Columbo, trusting that he'd rather be allowed to just enjoy his area by himself rather than be tucked into his travel bin and forced to spend all day with a dog and a cat poking at the edge of his pen.

We were able to enjoy most of the usual Thanksgiving traditions, mind. The one that didn't work out is we couldn't watch the recorded Silver Bells parade. Their satellite TV provider decided they should get Kalamazoo rather than Lansing TV stations; both cities might be about as far from their house, but they get weather that's more like Lansing's than Kalamazoo's and they have more interest in where we live, anyway. We'd watch it (and the Macy's parade) when we had the chance, ourselves. Also the process of getting dinner ready involved many more chances to excuse the dog from the kitchen, since they almost never bring a dog up to our house. Somehow I missed the moment when bunny_hugger's father lit the fireplace because it turns out he's taken to using a flamethrower for that, which would leave us all stunned and taking pictures for social media come Christmas. Maybe the fire was lit before we got in.

We resolved once more that we ought to get Tofurkey roasts and make them just any old time, so we could enjoy them when we felt like and have the really good sandwiches they make as leftovers even outside Thanksgiving and Christmas. We keep forgetting we've resolved to do this, but, I did pick up one at the store last week and we'll see just when we do eat it.

And we made another try at the Mice and Mystics board level that had baffled us; as I remember, we didn't beat it that time, but we felt very good about our chances next time. While driving home, of course, that problem where my tire exploded and we had to wait for AAA in the parking lot of the Adult Superstore at 2:30 am. So that was terrible but great to have in the past.

Trivia: Oslo in 1952 became the first capital city to host a Winter Olympic Games. Source: Encyclopedia of the Modern Olympic Movement, Editors John E Findling, Kimberly D Pelle.

Currently Reading: George Green, Mathematician and Physicist, 1793 - 1841: The Background to his Life and Work, D M Cannell.


bunny_hugger and others photographing an enthusiastic dancer nearly at the stage.


I want to look at the lineup of people on stage but what the heck is that headless humanoid figure standing stage left of the panda? Why is his arm not connected to anything? What the heck is going on here? I'm not making a joke here, I do not understand what optical trick my camera is playing that this is a thing that I've got photographed. I don't blame you if you're a-scared of this too.


One more thing to be a-scared of: so back at our hotel there was this goose pair who'd picked their nesting spot near one of the parking lot strips and who were going to defend that spot come what may, even if it's like 2 am and we just want to get into the building already.

Saturday, February 10th, 2018
12:10 am
Dancing and prancing in Jingle Bell Square

At the start of the Silver Bells In The City electric-lights parade for 2017 the announcer asked for shows of hands. How many people were here for the first time? How many were here the previous year? And you came back? The Silver Bells parade for 2016 was the one that started out in surprisingly comfortable, warm weather and then got destroyed by a monsoon blowing through. 2017, though? What did that promise us?

Not such severe weather, must say. It was cooler than 2016, but that freak year saw 70-degree temperatures in late November. This past November it was warm but within seasonal norms. And no rain. There were a few drops about an hour into the parade, enough to inspire a wary thought in me. But the weather changed its mind, and it didn't rain, or do anything particularly untoward at all.

Something that was a change: Lansing's Mayor Virg Bernero was having his farewell parade. He'd decided not to run for reelection this year, and by that time Andy Shor had been elected with an estimated 895% of the votes cast for him. Everyone on the reviewing stand took the chance to shake his hand or hug him and there were the usual good things said about a politician who's been around forever and is leaving with only a handful of not obviously major scandals. (There's this weird one about an attorney paid a surprisingly high bonus when her contract was terminated, and that nobody will answer any questions about. Scandal? Maybe, but the Mayor's particularly? Who knows?)

We found a spot right behind one of the TV cameras, a great viewing location since the camera meant there would necessarily be some clear space around us. Also somebody ran up to the operator to warn him his battery was dying, and we could watch him swap that out during one of the few commercial breaks. And, with no particular storms, we were able to watch the tree get lit and also to see the fireworks going off, from our perspective, right behind the state capitol dome.

Also we were able to take the time to wander over to the shopping village that was, once upon a time, the heart of the Silver Bells festival; the parade of lighted vehicles and the lighting of the state Christmas tree has taken over the public image of what it's all about. Sad news is the people who had the vegetarian pasties we got two years ago weren't back. The Peanut Shop, a downtown roastery, was open, bustling with enough people that we couldn't get in, just as well as we'd have been mauled by squirrels if we had tried to get in. Anyway the streets were crowded with people milling around, a capella groups singings Christmas carols, scenes from Christmas movies projected onto the sides of downtown building, all that sort of thing. It's about the biggest-city feel that Lansing gets.

Trivia: There were no on-site facilities for athletes to dress for the 1948 Winter Olympics in St Moritz. Competitors had to dress for competition at their hotels. Source: Encyclopedia of the Modern Olympic Movement, Editors John E Findling, Kimberly D Pelle.

Currently Reading: George Green, Mathematician and Physicist, 1793 - 1841: The Background to his Life and Work, D M Cannell.


The DJ, ruining the magic by making Nick look kind of stoned, really.


Folks closing in on the DJ and catching the light for him.


Not a particularly special moment but I love the way the hyena's lean makes the photo.

Friday, February 9th, 2018
12:10 am
How can I dance when I can hardly breathe

You know what's going on here? Good. You saw it on your RSS feed? Great. Otherwise?

And now we can fairly look back on Motor City Fur[ry] Con!


More raccoon content, here at con suite as lunch gets readied.


bunny_hugger chatting with a bobcat over the usual sorts of things.


So all of a sudden everybody in the world was taking the stairs at the same time, and here they are.


In the games room bunny_hugger discovers Wabbit Wampage, a toon maythem-themed game of rabbits-versus-farmers that you'd think would have been famous in alt.devilbunnies culture if not in all early furry fandom but that we never heard of before and couldn't be quite sure we were playing right.


And the dance! Which I admit looks a lot like the previous year's dance but, hey, it looks good, doesn't it?


More dancing. I like how I caught a light at the edge of that guy in the center's shirt.

Trivia: Montreal placed its bid for the 1944 Winter Olympic Games in July 1938, over three years after St Moritz submitted its. Source: Encyclopedia of the Modern Olympic Movement, Editors John E Findling, Kimberly D Pelle.

Currently Reading: George Green, Mathematician and Physicist, 1793 - 1841: The Background to his Life and Work, D M Cannell.

PS: Reading the Comics, February 3, 2018: Overworked Edition as I finish looking over mathematics comics from last week already.

Thursday, February 8th, 2018
12:10 am
A little bit of all you got can never bring you down

In November was the finals of the ninth season of the Lansing Pinball League. These would be momentous. Not for the turnout; the Lansing league had its smallest season to date, such a small group that there wasn't even any sense dividing the finalists into A and B divisions, as we had earlier seasons. And not for the surprise turnout: CST won the double-elimination finals, as he always has before. But it would be the last season that WVL, the original organizer of the league, planned to run it. This spring would be, he hopes, his final semester in college, and he wanted to focus on that, and perhaps getting a job, more than he wanted to run the league. So this would be his beloved and bittersweet farewell.

It would also be a breathtaking one, at least for the right players. As previous years matches were settled as a best-two-of-three, with one player picking game and the other picking order. In the most intense match I played, I was up against WVL and picked for a tiebreaker, Revenge From Mars. This is one of the two Pinball 2000 games ever made, pinball machines with a short playfield dominated by a TV screen that uses a signal-splitter to make the animated images appear on the playfield. The gimmick wasn't well-received at the time. But with the huge screens of Jersey Jack pinball games, and the large-but-not-enormous screens of Stern pinball the past year, the huge video component of Pinball 2000 games ... at least seems less out of place. Revenge From Mars hasn't been a well-loved game in Lansing, but I'd started seriously studying it and learning how to play, and figured out roughly what to try doing.

So I figured it was a safe bet, and built up a powerful lead on the first two balls that threatened to leave WVL just knocked out altogether. In my whole game I had my best game on this table (to that date), and got a score good enough for the high score table, something nobody in the league had ever managed before. And then WVL went and had the third ball of his life on the game, ratcheting his way up through the game's modes and multiballs and getting himself onto the high score table too. But below me. The league championship would be between CST and MWS, but I think WVL and I had the most suspenseful match of the night.

I'd win third place for the night. bunny_hugger would curse herself out for only winning sixth place, which was one back of her regular-season standings. Her consolation: at WVL's request, she would take over the Lansing Pinball League this new season, starting in the spring semester. And WVL would barely be able to leave for all the hugging and thanks given for what he managed to do just by figuring, if there were a pinball league maybe they'd move some more games into the venue.

And he did make a huge difference. WVL's pinball league came along, coincidentally, as I was losing a bunch of my oldest (online) friends. The league would be a great joy, and would also lead me and bunny_hugger into competitive pinball. That's filled --- indeed, threatened to take over --- many of our nights and weekends, and led us to events like Pinburgh two years running now. We're different people than we would have been if not for WVL's decision to start a league. I think we're better people for it. Certainly we're happy about how it's turned out, so far, and glad for it.

Trivia: From 1790 to 1803 the only cotton-spinning manufacturies in the United States were those of the Brown, Almy, and Slater Company in Rhode Island. (They opened subsidiary mills in 1794 and 1803.) Source: Rhode Island: A History, William C McLoughlin.

Currently Reading: A Short History of the Office of Price Administration, Harvey C Mansfield and Associates.

PS: More at Motor City Fur[ry] Convention!


The classic old bulletin board, including (on the right) someone who'd posted an 'AWOO' with letters that tipped over. And look at that, an advertisement for the Sociopolitical Ramifications muck which it turns out is still a thing? Who knew?


Post-group-photo fursuiters ambling around the hotel lobby.


Oh yeah, that guy from that thing! He was there too.

Wednesday, February 7th, 2018
12:10 am
I won't give in till I reach the end

And to head off one of those slightly awkward things where a Sunday six-pictures post is split across two days I'm going to put in a bunch of pictures today instead. Will resume narrating my life tomorrow.


Among the front row of fursuiters in the group photo, including the mysterious 'Legalize Awoo' T-shirts that started appearing recently.


Back at the mob of fursuiters. With at least three raccoons, I notice, so the family is growing.


``Is Nick great? Oh, yes, he's outstanding in his field'' [ Gets slugged. ]


Bunnies conspiring.


Like 40% sure bunny_hugger didn't mean to do Talk To The Paw, but the photo evidence is this.


Bunnies conspiring, with a cookie.

Trivia: Spain ceded whatever right it had to trading in the Moluccas in 1529 when Portugal paid it 350,000 gold ducats. Source: An Edible History of Humanity, Tom Standage.

Currently Reading: A Short History of the Office of Price Administration, Harvey C Mansfield and Associates.

PS: How January 2018 Treated My Mathematics Blog, a quick little review.

Tuesday, February 6th, 2018
12:10 am
So many happy feelings to celebrate with you, and oh, the good times hurry by so fast

When we got to Bronner's Christmas Wonderland we noticed a bunch of plastic chairs set up in front of a TV, in the large vestibule just before the main floor. We joked it was for all the bored husbands waiting for wives to buy every Christmas thing imaginable. We learned we weren't joking when we noticed they were all guys (mostly adults, some kids), watching the Lions game. All right, then.

We'd gone there for bunny_hugger's birthday, as we had the year before. The difference this year is her parents didn't come with us. bunny_hugger's mother was still nearly incapacitated by her back injuries and she might be up to doing something for their wedding anniversary, but the hour-plus ride to Frankenmuth to walk around all day was not it. On the bright side this did mean we could poke around in our typical, casual, very slow way without worrying about boring her parents. We didn't actually look at everything in the shop, since no mere finite number of human beings can. But we did spend more time considering, like, the carved-wood renditions of Lilo and Stitch than we otherwise might have.

It seemed to us there was more Thanksgiving merchandise than the previous year, or we just had more time to search it out. I'm not saying it's necessarily stuff we'd buy, although figurines of mice using candy corn and autumn leaves to play at being turkeys is weirdly charming. And we failed once again to find a terra-cotta turkey figure suitable for putting on the mantle. bunny_hugger did find a baffling pair of turkey ornaments that were all right but not quite what we wanted. They're turkey-shaped, yes, but very thin, as though meant to be bookholders. But they're too light to stand up to the rigors of holding up a series of books or even a stiff breeze. They're attractive, and they'd do for the season's decoration, but their exact purpose is a mystery. We don't even know what to call them; the Bronner's tag didn't have anything to clear up what they were besides turkey figures.

Bronner's web site suggested they had ornaments featuring the raccoons from the Rankin/Bass classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Wait, what raccoons from the Rankin/Bass classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer you ask? Yes, three different ornaments. Did not see any of them in the actual store so maybe they're web site exclusives. They did have a surprisingly large number of raccoon figures, though, and I picked up some for myself and some to send to Royce, and then kept one I'd meant to send and sent one I'd meant to keep. Well, no actual harm done. (Here's one of the baffling Rudolph ornaments. Coach Hermey?)

Among the things Bronner's offers is customization of ornaments, putting a set name on stuff. This is even free, at least for ordinary-grade ornaments. bunny_hugger thought to get one with a dragon and her own name, the sort of thing we'd have loved as kids had anyone in the 70s realized that kids love dragon stuff. And among the many, many pet ornaments, among the many, many rabbit ornaments, was a white one promising I Love My Rabbit ... with space for a name. She got it inscribed to Columbo, the first of two ornaments we'd get, neither of which we'd hang before his body failed him.

We had a great day, even staying long enough to close out Bronner's. (It was a Sunday; they closed early.) Were her parents there we'd not have been able to stay so long and see so much, including the outside lights at night. Many of those were the same kind set up at Crossroads Village for its holiday spectacular; here, we could watch them up close and in much better weather.

Afterwards we went in to Frankenmuth proper. Part of this was we'd heard that there totally were a couple pinball games there, including a FunHouse, and we wanted to search with what seemed like more reliable information about where it was. We didn't find it. We did find in the gift shop complex underneath one of the big restaurants this great bird marionette. It turned out to be really easy to work, apart from being a foot or two too short for adults, and it inspired bunny_hugger to get a taller one for Christmas. We also got to Cheese Haus, picking up some fine and exotic, garlicky cheese spreads, and also a block of chocolate cheese that's good and that we keep forgetting we have.

Also we discovered that the door handles at the Bavarian Inn have these dragon-head figures. We'd not noticed before, but we maybe hadn't come in through those doors before. Great to discover stuff like that.

Trivia: NBC's first (1937) contract to have Arturo Toscanini was for him to host ten performances for a salary of $40,000 plus --- at his wife Carla's insistence --- income tax. Source: The Mighty Music Box: The Golden Age of Musical Radio, Thomas A Delong.

Currently Reading: A Short History of the Office of Price Administration, Harvey C Mansfield and Associates.


So during the group photo there was a bit where just everybody was pointing for some reason? I don't know.


PunkCat in his raccoon suit drawing focus away from like sixty people in suit.


Poor helpless photographers stranded atop the hotel, doomed to appear only once a year for group-photo taking and then disappear again. Also I realize they're all in short sleeves, so I guess it was one of the warm-weather years for the con.

Monday, February 5th, 2018
12:10 am
I think I know now what's making me sad; it's a yearning for my own back yard

Comic Strip Master Command dared my mathematics blog to write about anything but comics this week, and I completely failed to do so. I was spending a lot of the week trying to get GoComics.com to stop breaking their stuff.

And I have half of a set of satisfying answers to What's Going On In Gasoline Alley? And What Happened To Jim Scancarelli? If you were wondering.

I took more pictures of Motor City Fur[ry] Con on Saturday, since, particularly, the fursuits were out and about! Let's enjoy.


Raccoons gathering for the Motor City Fur[ry] Convention fursuit parade. Not sure why all the ringtails were getting there at the same time.


And this is why fursuit parades always start late, if participants are going to be easily drawn off by the sight of gathered cameras.


PunkCat helping people gather for the big fursuit parade group photo.


Fursuiters gathering and I like that I got Malamute way up front like that, by accident.


bunny_hugger putting her hand up to listen extra-close to the instructions.


bunny_hugger being the center, or at least the center, stage-right, of attention.

Trivia: On the first anniversary of the repeal of the Stamp Act, British soldiers cut down the pine tree erected as a liberty pole in New York City's Commons. Sons of Liberty placed a new pine tree there the next day, with the trunk circled by iron bands to render it axe-proof. Soliders attempted to blow it up with gunpowder, unsuccessfully. Source: The Epic of New York City: A Narrative History, Edward Robb Ellis.

Currently Reading: A Short History of the Office of Price Administration, Harvey C Mansfield and Associates.

Sunday, February 4th, 2018
12:10 am
I'm gonna show you what it takes to see the future; it's hard but not impossible

Halloween was my last good chance to wear the scare-crow outfit. Also bunny_hugger's last good chance to wear the dragon outfit. But Halloween was a Tuesday so she was at work through the first half of trick-or-treating at our house. Also didn't trick-or-treating used to have no particular hours? Anyway, we had a pretty big year, considering, well above the anemic turnouts of the last couple years. Enough kids came that we gave away all our mini-candy bars, granting that I was being pretty generous with the kids we got the first hour. We were left with the bulk mix candy that I get from the farmer's market on the west side of town. We like it, but we'd only use that as supplemental candy, so trick-or-treating ended at just the right time.

After that we went to the hipster bar where pinball league meets. Part of that was to play, along with MWS, who'd come over because he often spends Tuesday nights there. They were having a Halloween party, naturally, giving us the chance to see just how many in our neighborhood have kigurumis of various kinds. A good number, it turns out, including at least one guy with a CheerBear kigurumi who wears it outside Halloween events too. Mostly stuff that has a pretext for wearing outfits, like 80s Karaoke Night, but still.

They were having a costume contest and of course bunny_hugger and I entered. She entered first. They ran the contest by bringing five or six people up on stage, measuring applause, and picking the most popular of that for finals. When they got around to me, they hadn't realized I was in line or something like that, so they considered me a ``group'' of my own and so I ended up in the final judging by default. Somehow bunny_hugger didn't win her little group; I forget who in her group did. I think it was some pop-culture thing.

Well, I did my best, posing on stage with the sorts of sharp, rapid motions that seemed birdlike. Didn't win. Don't think I came close, except that I was defaulted into the final group anyway. I think it was someone dressed as Scully and Muldur who got the prize, which seems ... I mean, I guess I know there's a new X-Files and all that. But it seems dull a choice anyway. I'm happy with the scarecrow costume anyway.

Something I learned: if you have a scarecrow costume, with long dangly streamers representing straw hanging out over your ankles, it becomes a pretty tedious chore to go to the bathroom and wash your hands without making undesired messes. I'm not saying I'll never use scarecrow costuming again, particularly as it's nice to have an outfit that's classic but not done much. But I'll have to think more carefully about how I get soda when doing that.

Trivia: In the two months after his shooting President James Garfield dropped from 210 pounds to 130. Source: Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of a President, Candice Millard.

Currently Reading: A Short History of the Office of Price Administration, Harvey C Mansfield and Associates.

PS: Back to Motor City Fur[ry] Convention, last year!


bunny_hugger and her posse in the con suite playing the drinking game that would, in time, lead to her setting some grand rules about saluting her or having to take a drink every time you cursed, which produced a possibly dangerous exponential growth of drunk gamery.


Hanging out at the door to the Motor City Fur[ry] Convention con suite. We didn't spend all Friday there, but we spent a fair time there and it was the most photogenic area.


bunny_hugger looking dubiously at her ostrich.

Saturday, February 3rd, 2018
12:10 am
They say we're young and we don't know

Now, not to brag, but I woke on Thursday just knowing that the coatis at the Cohanzick Zoo, in Bridgeton, south Jersey, had forecast an early spring. There is no rational way I could have known this; I just did. Make of that what you wish.

But the zoo held their ``Coati Day'' observance on Thursday, with Floiemel, Carmela, and Margarita given the chance to prowl around and choose between some food at a sign marked ``Spring'' and some other food at a sign marked ``Winter''. They went to both, say the news reports, but went to ``Spring'' first so they're counting that as an early-spring forecast.

Alison Bohn, zookeeper there, pointed out to the media that coatis are an animal that exists and that I did not make up. Also that coatis are ``way smarter'' than groundhogs, apparently in an attempt to stir up trouble between the raccoon family and the squirrel family. I'm not looking to escalate that, thanks.

I couldn't find as many pictures or as many different videos as in previous years. Maybe I didn't give Google News enough time to notice the existence of South Jersey's local news sites. Maybe the news just got squeezed out. I noticed another article at NJ.com mentioned the sudden closing of the Burlington Center Mall, ``New Jersey's saddest mall'', two months early when a water pipe burst. How sad was the mall? Sad enough that it does have one anchor store that's still staggering on, open, and it's the Sears. Must admit that's interesting too.

Michigan's official state groundhog, Woody the Woodchuck, forecast six more weeks of winter (so, an early spring) and bit Larry Nasser.

Trivia: United States border inspectors made no particular effort to regulate Mexican nationals entering the country until 1929. Source: Smuggler Nation: How Illicit Trade Made America, Peter Andreas.

Currently Reading: A Short History of the Office of Price Administration, Harvey C Mansfield and Associates. Because ... I mean ... look, I already talked about this, okay? Lemme alone.

PS: On to Motor City Fur[ry] Convention, last year!


The Motor City Fur[ry] Convention con suite, as seen through the thick of my guinea pig puppet. The big blue-grey thing on the right is the trash bin I was using to gather ballots for the ``Trash Panda: Yes or No'' vote. (Yes won.)


The Foxamore/Pepper Coyote concert, sober edition. Also featuring some bass player who didnt' get an introduction we noticed but who did rather nicely.


Folks dancing durin the Foxamore/Pepper Coyote concert.

Friday, February 2nd, 2018
12:10 am
And we'll talk about the way love used to be

I'll close off the last of my Ann Arbor/Peaceable Kingdom photos right after reviewing what went on my humor blog or on your RSS reader the past week. It was this:


Scattered across the University of Michigan campus were small clusters of blue and yellow folding chairs. The signs explained it was some kind of art installation. The chairs were tied together so it would be a pain for someone to just take the chance to grab a free uncomfortable chair in U of M colors.


A thing that wasn't in Ann Arbor anymore even when I took its picture. This shop, Middle Earth, had been in town since the 70s, and had migrated from being a head shop to being a place with every kind of quirkily interesting greeting cards and candles and housewares and whatever other stuff you might ever imagine. The shop closed in 2014, as the owners wanted to retire and selling the place was too much hassle somehow. Yet here, early 2017, it was still there frozen in its last-day-of-being state.


Stairway into Pinball Pete's Ann Arbor, where we first heard about the Lansing Pinball League. Indeed, I think that center poster might be the one that first told bunny_hugger there was a pinball league in Lansing, that we caught on to barely a month after it started.


Nickels Arcade, flanked by the Van Boven clothier's that goes back a while and I'm sorry the street light obscures its stylish old-fashioned sign there. Has a couple cute little shops that are always closed too early in the day.


Night shot of the State Theatre making the case for why the place needed renovations. It's since reopened and looks great.


And the more old-fashioned, subdued nature of the Michigan Theater sign; it was renovated to a 40s-style signage ... before I moved to the state, anyway.

Trivia: The space shuttle Columbia's launch for STS-94 (the reflight of STS-83) was at the last moment advanced 47 minutes, to avoid expected thunderstorms. Clouds and rain forced the flight to launch 12 minutes late. Source: Space Shuttle: The History of the National Space Transportation System: The First 100 Missions, Dennis R Jenkins.

Currently Reading: Carousel and Automatic Music News, November/December 2017. Editor Rosanna Harris. The other of the magazines I bought at the Merry-Go-Round Museum

PS: Reading the Comics, January 27, 2018: Working Through The Week Edition, closing out last week's mathematics comics in time for this week's to start.

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