krazy koati

I wish maybe they'd tear down the walls of this theater

Some good news: bunny_hugger will not, if things hold up the next month and a half, have to return to campus for the plague pit. She still has to teach her class schedule ``synchronously'', giving a talk live on web-cam to students who either watch in a classroom or at their own dorm rooms before the campus has to close for plague. But she should avoid being directly in the danger zone for this.

To my humor blog, and the recap of recent posts on that. Hope you enjoy. I did.

I also have a fresh big essay up in My All 2020 Mathematics A to Z: Complex Numbers. It's a topic I've discussed before, but there's always more material to explore and here I share some of that.

To pictures! Today's is maybe the grabbiest bag of things, including a moment of ordinary nothing-particular at the local pinball venue, our pet rabbit exploring, a bit at Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum, and then the handful of snaps I took at a pinball tournament in our local venue.


Work being done on the Ghostbusters pinball machine. So nowadays it's easy to update the code on a pinball machine; all you need is to stick in a USB drive. This also means that they never really finish the code for a game and are changing rules and putting new rules in for years after a game comes out. So, there's good and there's bad.


Our pet rabbit absolutely hates the lighting of a fire, so we knew what would happen this time when she got past the fireplace grate and could face down her nemesis directly; it would be ...


Uh, all right. You know that's the working end of the fireplace, right? Uhm ... Also she chewed on that bit of wood.


Redemption prize at Marvin's Marvelous. Spoiler: it doesn't actually transform you worth anything.


Planet Fighters! That's my favorite expy of Cosmic Wars!


bunny_hugger assembled this nice Route 66 jigsaw puzzle. Did you know when a quality jigsaw puzzle is assembled the pieces will hold together surprisingly well? Here she holds it up like a blanket and you know, you can get an end held up two or more feet before a puzzle like this falls apart? (Lower-quality ones won't hold up so high.)


Parts from Michael's, to be assembled into the trophies for March Hare Madness, a pinball tournament with a twist. That twist? The Critical Hit card deck to the left, which allows competitors to do things like force someone else to swap scores with them, or to force them to stop playing their ball right then and there or other bits of mischief. Why is that allowed in a sanctioned pinball tournament? That's a good question which gets right to the heart of the matter, which is unexplained.


The trophies for March Hare Madness, arranged on the official pinball events table for everyone to appreciate. We would bring home two of them.


The trophy came with authentic pet rabbit fur! Because that stuff gets everywhere.


A look at the third- and fourth-place trophies and aren't they adorable?

Trivia: In 1501 the Spanish crown prohibited Basques building ships for other nations. It repeated the ban in 1551. Source: The Basque History of the World, Mark Kurlansky.

Currently Reading: Decrypting Rita, Margaret Trauth.

krazy koati

I remember on the 13th of July the only light was the light up in the sky

Rye Playland has cancelled its season. Hate to hear of that, but it is better than parks trying to open and create a new plague pit. Meanwhile, Knoebels attempted to open with masks, telling people they were on their honor if they couldn't wear a mask for some reason. After one day of this they've acknowledged way too many people are taking advantage and they have to re-evaluate their plan.

Let me get to photographs of the Chinese Lunar New Year 2019 festival at the Meridian Mall. The cancellation of the 2020 New Year was the first thing we saw cancelled as part of the pandemic, so, this is the first of my photo rolls that's an end-of-the-before-times mood.


The Chinese Dragon being taken out of the prep room, ready for its march around the mall.


This long-empty store beside the performance area has been used for crafts and side projects during the New Year festivals a few times.


Warmup act: a couple performers playing folk tunes because there's not a tight thematic unity to these shows.


Chinese Dragon dancing into the food court, past the Tim Horton's. (The Tim Horton's was closed by January 2020.)


Nice dragon-body spiral.


The dragon's headed off past Yum! Japan and over to the unattended arcade where they have the broken Star Trek pinball machine and also the tax-seasonal H&R Block office.


They didn't have live drumming for 2019; the machine provided the music instead.


Dramatic dragon spiral in front of the X-treme Fun, a little kids entertainment place which held three pinball machines and which has, sad to say, been closed by the pandemic shutdown.


Another dragon spiral! You can see the stage in the far background.


The dragon's head and a good view of its barbs.


The dragon's completed the march around the mall and her stands up on stage for a bit of appreciation by the seated audience.


A flock of kids doing a dance.


The Tai Chi demonstration, as seen from behind, because somehow I always end up at the weird angle for this.


I forget what this demonstration was. Some years I take a photograph of the program but I think this year they didn't have one taped to the wall.


One of the many raffle prizes, which was, of course, a convection oven. This show gives away more convection ovens than anything else I know.


Someone's orange just rolled free, almost to the wall.


And someone's trying to make the floor have googly eyes.

Trivia: Following the successful May 1957 launch of Vanguard test vehicle TV-1, the second (reasonably completely) successful rocket launch in a row, instrumentation supervisor Dave Mackey pondered, ``I wonder if success will spoil project vanguard?'' Source: Project Vanguard: The NASA History, Constance McLaughlin Green, Milton Lomask.

Currently Reading: Decrypting Rita, Margaret Trauth.

krazy koati

We were up against the wall on the west mezzanine, we rattle this town, we rattle this scene

Don't you want to know What's Going On In Gil Thorp? Is Gil Thorp really not doing a pandemic story? April - June 2020 saw not a mention, but, I'll tell you what the strip did do.

Our first big non-pinball activity of 2019 was going to a Walk The Moon concert in Grand Rapids, at a venue named 23 Monroe. (It's on Monroe Street.) It's a pretty hip place and the crowd was quite big, befitting Walk the Moon's status as now a technically successful band. Let's look.


Getting the stage ready! The opening band's gear set up before the show.


A glance at the sides of the auditorium; there's that nice faux-stained-glass image in the circle there that I think is the venue's logo.


And here's a look at the stage. So, not the closest seats, but they are ones that gave bunny_hugger a clear view of the stage, which is something.


Opening band, fresh from Brooklyn: Bear Hands. The name seems vaguely furry but who can truly say?


The drummer for Bear Hands showing off his trade.


Stage crew working to get things re-set for Walk the Moon.


The circle of life! Walk the Moon has in our experience always taken the stage to Elton John's song, and we can only guess why. (If they're not furry they're seeing how close they can get without being called out for it.)


I can't tell you why the lead singer was wearing a long coat like this, sorry. I know why I picked this picture, though: it's the shot of the guy taking his photo with a pretty big camera considering he's five feet away. Also maybe the look on the security guy.


The song's fun enough for some but not all people to get up and sing along. I suspect this was their cover of the Ghostbusters theme.


o/` I said I'm not gonna take it from you, I'll let you give it to me o/` --- a much-repeated verse from ``Jenny'', the most outright call-and-response song they do in their set.


Ooh! Ooh. Do you think we're going to get an encore? Do you think they're going to play ``Anna Sun'' for it? (We'll know Walk The Moon has reached the next level of being a band when they don't finish every show on ``Anna Sun''.)


Crew cleaning up after the concert, and people milling around deciding whether they want to do stuff like get in the merch line. We hung out a while waiting for the coat check line to not be so terribly long, and soaking up the atmosphere of a finished show.


Our home, still decorated for Christmas and enjoying a couple inches of snow. Our house enjoyed the snow more than I enjoyed doing anything with it.


But, the snow makes the lights in the bushes out front look great, even without a flash.

Trivia: Among the arguments English bishops used to delay adoption of calendar reform was that the world was about to end soon, so the reform of the calendar was not particularly useful. Source: Mapping Time: The Calendar and its History, EG Richards.

Currently Reading: The Untold Story of the ZIP Code, US Postal Service Office of Inspector General report RARC-WP-13-006. No individual named that I can figure out. I expected more stuff about, like, how the system was designed and what kind of thinking went into even little things like low-numbers-east, high-numbers-west but, no. There's a bit about how big cities started using two-digit local zones in 1943, and in 1944 the Philadelphia postmaster proposed dividing regions of the country into three-digit codes for general sorting, and then how 19 years later they put these two together for five-digit Zip codes and that's about it. And then a lot of attempts to quantify how much money is saved, or gained, by the existence and use of Zip code, in-between paragraphs in which they admit there's no way to quantify that. In short, this is an extremely me document to exist, and yet it's not me enough for me.

krazy koati

She makes sure I see her teasing, hear her say, ``Who is Johnny''

Happy anniversary, precious bunny_hugger. Thank you so for giving me this day.

Meanwhile over on my mathematics blog? Using my A to Z Archives: Benford's Law gets a bit of attention today and I share a story of my achieving the first possible level of decency.

So now we get to early 2019 --- I'm less than a year and a half back! --- and the first important event, the State Championship Series pinball tournament, in Fremont.


Oh, yeah, a Lucky Eggs dispenser, never turned on, that they had at the venue. (I've seen another, on the opposite end of the state, at the Chesterfield bowling alley where that league meets.) So ... I guess we're supposed to take that Dino is a female Snorkasaurus?


More faded Hanna-Barbera stars of the egg machine.


Bit of a tight score there! Although this is from the pin-golf tournament held the night before, so that both players were scored the same (taking seven strokes on the objective here). Still, thirty points out of 136,000 is abnormally close.


The view outside the AirBnB that we rented. It's just on the lake, and also there's a lake there. Our pipes froze up the next morning.


People scurrying along the pond in the morning. It was pretty close to zero Fahrenheit.


Partial view of the living room and couches and you can see where this is a great space in the hot summer and a really cheap rental when it's zero degrees Fahrenheit out.


Reclining chair that's quite comfortable if you haul it out from the wall so you can recline.


Players wrapping up their warmup games, or gathering for instructions, ahead of the start of the tournament.


Everything you need for a pinball tournament: the complete bracket chart for all the competitions, the International Flipper Pinball Association-provided trophy, and a bullhorn for the tournament director to feel too shy to use. Also pens.


The thing only one of us could take home: the championship for the state of Michigan, on Ojanuary 19, 20190.


bunny_hugger showing off her winnings! They were thirty-eight dollars.


A look outside the facility. We were worried there'd be terrible weather getting to Fremont --- this is why we'd rented a place to stay the night before and after --- but as you can see, it wasn't all that much snow. Mostly it was a lot of bitter cold.


Collage of all the competitors for the event. Some were making goofy faces on purpose. Me, I just look ike that in pictures. See if you can find bunny_hugger's famous chicken purse!


Later in the day. The State Championship Series is head-to-head play, making it (ironically) less valuable than it might be. But, there's still a lot of waiting around for your next opponent to be known.


And here I plummet from a top-16 position all the way to 23rd place. bunny_hugger has abetter day than me, finishing in 21st. I'm just sincerely glad we didn't have to face each other.


Final round! AJH versus CST and it comes to one of AJH's specialties, Johnny Mnemonic.


So, this was ball three. Johnny Mnemonic is a high-scoring game, but 22 billion is abnormally high. I can't blame CST for deciding that it was not worth his energy to try to fight back from a deficit that big. He just took the loss and they went to the next game.


Champion and second place!

Trivia: In January 1714 the rumor that Queen Anne had died caused a slide in London stock prices. Her actual death later that year had no such effect. Source: Devil Take the Hindmost, Edward Chancellor.

Currently Reading: Mr Dooley's Philosophy, Finley Peter Dunne. And while Dunne, writing in 1899-1900, stabbed pretty hard with that Democrats-and-Republicans thing, he draws blood and leaves organs sprawled on the ground with a piece titled, The [ Soft N-Word ] Problem:

“I'm not so much throubled about th' [ dialect version of the Soft N-Word ] whin he lives among his opprissors as I am whin he falls into th' hands iv his liberators. Whin he's in th' south he can make up his mind to be lynched soon or late an' give his attintion to his other pleasures iv composin' rag-time music on a banjo, an' wurrukin' f'r th' man that used to own him an' now on'y owes him his wages. But 'tis th' divvle's own hardship f'r a [ C-word ] to step out iv th' rooms iv th' S'ciety f'r th' Brotherhood iv Ma-an where he's been r-readin' a pome on th' 'Future of th' Moke [1]' an' be pursooed be a mob iv abolitionists till he's dhriven to seek polis protection, which, Hinnissy, is th' polite name f'r fracture iv th' skull.”
and to finish off the essay
“Well, they got to take their chances," said Mr. Hennessy. "Ye can't do annything more f'r thim than make thim free."
"Ye can't," said Mr. Dooley; "on'y whin ye tell thim they're free they know we're on'y sthringin' thim.”
And I mean I do believe the North to have been far better than the South for Black populations, all along. There was a uniform direction for the Great Migration, after all, and one section of the country that would pass laws prohibiting the offering of jobs to Black people. But I'm not such a fool as to think that the North was safe.
[1] I believe this to be a slur and would edit it except I so fail to recognize the word through the eye-dialect that I don't know how to describe the word or its connotations. I do not intend offense and apologize for any needless upset.

krazy koati

There's a book by anonymous, a book by anonymous, and a hippopotamus in my pool

My mathematics blog continues in its all-A-to-Z format. There's a new post, sure, and then recaps of old ones, like:

With that, let's return to the Potter Park Zoo's Wonderland of Lights which it turned out closed earlier than we figured. How did we cope with that disappointment? You'll see!


Lioness seen through a lion's mane.


A bench in the Big Cat building sponsored by Theio's Restaurant, which had been demolished the spring of 2018. The bench was still there for Christmas 2019.


Tiger giving us extreme tiger side-eyes.


An ancient Apple-brand CRT monitor! It likely provided information about the cats and the park when it was in service. By 2019 this was removed and no new monitor was in its place above the Theio's bench.


Outside again: trees set up in a broad field between some of the animal houses and the snack stand.


Wall of colored lights and the footprints of so many people come up to see the lights.


Complicated pathways around a gazebo which, I think, is near the butterfly enclosure. (The butterflies were away for the winter; I don't know where.)


So we forgot, once again, that the zoo closed at 8 pm, not 9 pm. In consequence we went driving around town to see decorated houses and this one did not disappoint, with a big sprawling manger and Santa Claus and sign warning they're part of the neighborhood crime watch.


And back home. When Sunshine has some free run time she loves going underneath the Christmas tree. Here, she considers whether she can eat the lights. (She could not.)


I did not catch a picture of her lapping up tree water, but she'd done it some.


And a picture of our tree, and arch decorations, by night. Yes, that's 4:02 am by the Run DMD pinball clock there. We went to bed early.


Our lit arch and the stairwell, going up to bed. Note the Kennywood arrow which does not point directly to Kennywood, but does tell you which turn to make, at the end of the block, on your journey to the park.


New Year's Eve! We spent that at MJS's pole barn for a tournament and party, and as will happen, they set off fireworks that just look like they're being launched by a tree.


I'm still amazed that you can just go and buy fireworks like these, though.


Back home. Poor Sunshine sprawls out under the tree, having forgotten where her front legs are.


Oh! She found her legs and now she's eating the tree. All's well.

Trivia: In 2003, the Gap had 4,250 stores in the United States, grossing more than $13.6 billion, the leading apparel chain in the country. Source: Big Cotton: How a Humble Fiber Created Fortunes, Wrecked Civilizations, and Put America on the Map, Stephen Yafa.

Currently Reading: Mr Dooley's Philosophy, Finley Peter Dunne. Yeah, so:

“Years ago, Hinnissy, manny years ago, they was a race between th' dimmycrats an' th' raypublicans f'r to see which shud have a choice iv principles. Th' dimmycrats lost. I dinnaw why. Mebbe they stopped to take a dhrink. Annyhow, they lost. Th' raypublicans come up an' they choose th' 'we commind' principles, an' they was nawthin' left f'r the dimmycrats but th' 'we denounce an' deplores.' I dinnaw how it come about, but th' dimmycrats didn't like th' way th' thing shtud, an' so they fixed it up between thim that whichiver won at th' iliction shud commind an' congratulate, an' thim that lost shud denounce an' deplore. An' so it's been, on'y the dimmycrats has had so little chanct f'r to do annything but denounce an' deplore that they've almost lost th' use iv th' other wurruds.”
This is from 1899-1900 and it's not like he's wrong, even today.

krazy koati

There's a hippopotamus, there's a hippopotamus, there's a hippopotamus in my pool

So the number of Covid-19 cases linked to that bar in East Lansing is at minimum 85, according to articles that may be hopelessly out date because they were published at five hours and twenty minutes ago. It's hard to judge from the local press but I guess it's getting some national attention because my father brought it up to bunny_hugger, and he lives in South Carolina, a state that's trying its level best to get everyone in it killed before the election.

That this all comes from people linked to one bar that was open for eight days before it shut down is sobering. And sombering. Michigan had been handling things pretty darned well; Ingham County, which contains East Lansing, had been down to one confirmed new case a day before this outbreak. That so many people could have been infected so quickly barely makes sense unless someone on staff was infected, and spitting in everyone's drinks. Trusting that's not the case, though, then there's no way any university is going to be able to open up, not safely. And the opening of Cedar Point next month is going to be incredibly bad. (Yes, being outside seems to be not-too-dangerous, but what happens when it rains and everyone crowds into the theaters, restaurants, and Town Hall Museum?)

The Michigan State University president gave a statement, three days ago, when it was thought to be ``only'' fourteen cases, with a thoughts-and-prayers message. At least an assistant professor of emergency medicine was allowed to point out it's alarming and it's ``impossible to think that there's some kind of magical barrier that's gona prevent that transmission back up our way''. I haven't seen an updated statement from MSU, which is still pretending it's going to have an in-person fall semester.

In a side bit of incredibly idiocy, an area gym owner opened up his fitness center, against the closure orders. His reasoning? He'll have you know he's on the Task Force that developed the reopening plans for the gym, and the plan wasn't going to change if they opened today or three months from now. Anyway, within two days an employee tested positive for Covid-19 and it's all shut down again.

I also have to anticipate that the delayed Pinball at the Zoo isn't going to be able to happen in early October, as the plans are now. Maybe by October it won't be suicidal to have small groups in an enclosed place like a bar. But to have hundreds of people in a convention center? No, I just can't buy it.

This might be the week that we lost 2020.

On to happier times, then. For December the Potter Park Zoo sets up light decorations and we get there, later than we mean to every year, and spend not enough time there. Here's the record of that trip.


Some of the trees decorated by various local groups, many of them dentists, just inside the Potter Park Zoo entrance.


Entrance plaza at Potter Park Zoo. The gift shop is the building on the right.


Animal-encounter show, featuring an owl who's just about had enough, thanks.


Armadillo who's exploring what the deal is with this ball.


Kid amazed and, I choose to believe, delighted by an armadillo who's balled up for the caretaker's hand.


The precious, vulnerable side of the armadillo.


Finally some truth in naming.


One of the bald eagles, putting up with all this.


Wolf figures done up in lights.


Actual wolf, one of a handful that we always just barely see in the park.


Mesh of tree branches that catch the light in gorgeous ways.


``Is ... that person there, is he looking at us?''


``Can I HELP you?''


Toucan-class bird that's in the indoor enclosure where, in past years, they had lemurs hanging out for the winter. Not sure why the change in accommodations. We need to get to the zoo outside Christmastime more.


Lioness, meanwhile, has just had enough Christmas already.


I believe we are supposed to say something about beans here?

Trivia: After the Treaty of Versailles, German champagne had to be called Sekt. Source: The German Empire, 1870 - 1918, Michael Stürmer. (The name Sekt had been in use before 1919, but German vintners had also used ``Champagne''.)

Currently Reading: Love Conquers All, Robert Benchley. Fun little bit Benchley wrote here:

In the window of the grocery store to which I used to be sent after a pound of Mocha and Java mixed and a dozen of your best oranges, there was a cardboard figure of a clerk in a white coat pointing his finger at the passers-by. As I remember, he was accusing you of not taking home a bottle of Moxie, and pretty guilty it made you feel too.

PS: Using my A to Z Archives: Bijection, looking back at an older essay and what's changed in how I write these days.

krazy koati

Run to the light of nights

I returned my books to the city library today. Douglas Preston's The Lost City of the Monkey God and Martin W Sandler's Lost To Time: Unforgettable Stories that History Forgot. I remember when I got them, the first week of March, thinking that maybe I should get a third book, but also that I probably wouldn't finish all that many books before they came due, not with me also having two books out from the university library.

But the Capital Area District Library is opening up, slowly, for this little window before we have to lock down again. They started taking returns and doing curbside pickup this past Monday; everything that had been checked out is due this coming Monday. I figured to beat the rush. I didn't borrow anything, but I might while the window is open.

I remember when I checked them out thinking that the City Library, main branch, wasn't all that far and maybe I could try walking to it over the summer. I didn't think that was likely to happen --- it's a mile and a half one-way --- but maybe I'd get to the nearby Foster Branch library --- three-quarters of a mile one-way --- on foot. Under lockdown daily walks became one of my habits and the Foster Branch was the first thing I tried walking to. Now the main library proves to be so near. The Michigan State University library is about two and a quarter miles one-way, and now that doesn't seem really far at all either.

Back to Crossroads Village 2018. Here's the finish of the railway trip, the show we went to afterwards, and some wandering around town to close out the night.


And here's their riverboat fixture, which they identify with the Genesee Belle, their boat that runs during the summer.


Animated jack-in-the-box doing his business.


This is a nice one of kids building a snow figure.


And here's the real Santa Claus! They have a fellow who comes out and waves at the train both times it passes and bunny_hugger did not realize for a while it was a real live person, not an animatronic.


Another train in lights, this one representing the train we're on.


And their Christmas dragon! The conductor's spiel no longer explains how they had bought this for their Halloween lights show, and it arrived late, so it became the Christmas dragon. I won't forget, though.


After the ride we went to the opera house to enjoy the show, which turned out to be a magic show rather than the expected Christmas Melodrama. The background makes it look like they're still ready to do a Christmas Melodrama, they just haven't.


Magician getting ready to do his Rubik's Cube trick, that of tossing a cube in the bag and having it somehow copy the moves the kid made.


The trick where a sketch transforms into a real picture.


A trick with a kid on stage. I forget what the trick was but the table floating in air was a good part of the magic.


And here's a view of the opera house, and the gift shop, from outside.


Here's their over-decorated tree, with lights they leave up all year because would you want to take that all down?


A look down main street at the village.


And the entrance, and exit, as we left.

Trivia: Michele Brekke was, in 1985 the first woman named as a flight director for NASA. In the long downtime after the Challenger disaster she went to another position; Linda Ham would in 1992 be the first woman actually serving as flight director. Source: Go, Flight! The Unsung Heroes of Mission Control, 1965 - 1992, Rick Houston, Milt Heflin.

Currently Reading: Love Conquers All, Robert Benchley. The back half of the book is Benchley's book reviews, from when he was reasonably seriously reviewing books for the New Yorker. There's some pieces that are just whimsy, like reviewing the train schedule or a manual on bricklaying. Or that are satirical, like outlining how to turn a Zane Grey novel (``[his] latest contribution to the literature of unrealism'') into a movie (``take every third sentence from the book and make a subtitle from it''). That said, I am so relieved every time I read his review of WEB Du Bois's Darkwater that Benchley is strongly on the side of justice for Black people, but also angry that it's denied so long, and that (to use a modern term) white people tone-police Du Bois. You can have very big catastrophic failure modes when someone is habituated to being funny looks at social movements.

krazy koati

Run through the light of day

Happy Stitch Day! How's my humor blog been the last week? Full of merriment and all that. Featured articles include:

So now to the train ride at Crossroads Village! This was the first year I got more than a vague blurry OK picture of some of the light fixtures so get ready to see a LOT of them.


OK this one's a bit blurry, but it's because it's zoomed in a good bit. Old Man Winter blowing snowflakes. It's an animated sign and one of the favorites.


Here's your Tron railroad.


Another animated figure --- one that I think they have at Bronner's in the parking lot too --- of penguins sliding off an igloo.


The peacocks are also fun. I think the one on the right 'unfolds' and refolds his tail.


A partridge in a pear tree! From the great turnaround where they play The 12 Days of Christmas.


Two turtle doves, in a picture that came out way better than I anticipated.


Five golden rings! Also a bit of blur because the train windows keep fogging up and we keep not bringing a towel or something to wipe them clean again.


Seven swans a-swimming! It's animated, too. Note that so many of the 12 Days of Christmas figures have the numeral in them that it's maddening when you find the ones that don't.


Eight maids a-milking. You could count them except hte window was fogging up again.


Here's your nine ladies dancing, with a nice bit to keep the fixture design basically symmetric.


Twelve dummers drumming! ... The fixtures I didn't photograph were probably on the other side of the train, or they just didn't come out through the window fog or whatnot.


But here's one that came out great: Santa dropping a present out of his sleigh as he takes off.


And here's a nice Season's Greetings postcard display.


These carolers might not look like much, but this was the first good picture after like a dozen attempts so you're going to see it.

Trivia: On 26 June 1835 the New York Stock and Exchange Board set a new record for high volume, of 7,825 shares traded. Source: The Great Game, John Steele Gordon.

Currently Reading: Love Conquers All, Robert Benchley.

PS: My All 2020 Mathematics A to Z: Butterfly Effect where, by cutting back from writing three 600-word A-to-Z essay a week I've gone and written a 2000-word essay once a week.

krazy koati

Now everything is all right

So there's a rumor that M-Brew, a bar, might be shuttered for good. If that turns out, it'll be the first (major?) Michigan pinball venue lost to the pandemic. It's also, it happens, one of two major Michigan pinball venues we haven't been to. (The other's in Kalamazoo.) This isn't specifically because we're avoiding anyone or something; it's just that the location is pretty seriously into the Detroit metro area, and to get there for league we'd have to drive into city traffic during rush hour. Evening rush, so it wouldn't be as bad, but still pretty bad. And all that to get crushed by AJG, if he's suspended his retirement-from-competitive-pinball-forever-and-this-time-I-mean-it this week?

It's just a rumor, for now. But it's not one easy to shake off. Marvin's Marvellous Mechanical Museum --- having as it is a huge footprint and eighteen kajillion devices that all need maintenance, and a revenue base of ``large bunches of kids put in a cramped space for hours'' --- seems also very threatened.

The Lansing Pinball League's barcade hasn't reopened and doesn't plan to before July. But then a student bar in East Lansing that opened two weeks ago produced at least fourteen Covid-19 cases before they shut back down. Ingham County had gotten down to about one new case a day before this, a level where public gatherings start to seem not-obviously-crazy. This, though? It's a bad sign for any bars reopening, of course. It also suggests the reopening of campus is going to be an incredible and supremely avoidable disaster so that's exciting to watch for.

What do we always do after Christmas? Visit Crossroads Village, of course, and get a ride on a carousel ... but fast. Here's some pictures.


Crossroads Village had a special guest grump for 2018! He held court in one of the gazebos at a street corner.


Animated deer-light fixtures; you can just make out for the one on the left where its head goes when it's 'grazing'.


Catalogue page for C W Parker's Superior Wheel, the quite fast Ferris wheel they have at Crossroads.


And here's their carousel, and the reminder that carousels don't actually rest on the ground! The horses, I think we learned that visit, have the red and green blankets less to be Christmas-y and more to keep snow and mud from being tracked onto the animals.


Did I mention the Crossroads Village carousel is the fastest in Michigan? Six rotations per minute, which is the speed where carousels become thrill rides.


A quick little peek into the mechanism at the center, including a view of the band organ.


Here's a not-as-good-as-I'd-hoped view of the Artizan band organ. It's got a painting of the current carousel building on it, nicely.


Here's the C W Parker Superior Wheel outside. It, too, is a fast one.


The carousel building seen from outside and lit partly by the decorations.


Fixed deer decorations set up by the Superior Wheel.


The lighted arch over the walkway into the carousel building, as seen from the carousel's side of things.


Christmas tree and some of the many decorated ordinary trees in that portion of the village.


Christmas decoration of ... a covered wagon ... ? because holidays?


Anyway, one quick look back at the carousel building with the Superior Wheel in the background, and the arch leading to it over on the right. To the left, in the dark, are some other antique kiddie rides not used during the winter.


The lighted trolley that hurries people from the back to the front of the park, if they aren't up for the long walk.


Ooh, what's that bright light? And heading right towards us? That must be a good thing!

Trivia: The New York World wrote that Hiram Maxim's 1895 1.5-horsepower car motor ``is one of the most serviceable ever built, as it will not explode''. Source: The King's Best Highway: The Lost History Of The Boston Post Road, The Route That Made America, Eric Jaffe.

Currently Reading: Lady Into Fox, David Garnett. A 1922 novella that I got on my iBooks somehow, I don't remember. It's about a man whose wife one day just turns into a fox, like it says. It's got some callous killing of animals in it, so be advised if you think about reading it. But it's an interesting transformation story, not least as the woman seems to be turning more animal over the course of things. Unlike every furry tf story ever, though, it's told from the man's perspective, so he's got this struggle of trying to understand some big mental changes from someone he loves and who can't communicate any of them.

krazy koati

Run through the light

We went to bunny_hugger's parents Saturday. Not to fix anything, either, although it turns out they're having some confusing issue with BritBox. No, this was just to hang out, ``chilling and grilling'' as they put it. We took, we trust, reasonable care: the whole thing outside apart from going to the bathroom or getting lemonade from the fridge. Even then, six feet or more distance between us and them.

We also brought sausage. BeyondMeat vegetarian sausage, to grill along with vegetable skewers and have with baked beans. Also, later on, strawberry shortcake. It was a great mass of food; I don't know how much weight I gained because for two days after I refused to weigh myself.

It was a bright, sunny day and their side yard doesn't really have enough shade trees. We had to move around several times to catch what shade there was, and at one point I got hot enough that I had to go inside and scrub my face with cold water. It happens this came while they were talking about some nasty health issues one of their dogs had, decades ago, and they worried they had grossed me out. Not so; I was just in danger of melting in the not-fun ways.

Meanwhile their dogs spent the whole time running around the large side yard, as though they weren't wearing fur coats during the hottest day of the month. And sometimes tearing off to bark at people walking by, or dogs walking by, or squirrels running around a tree not noticing them at all. Great day, really, even if we couldn't play Mice and Mystics or anything else.

And how about the story comics? What's Going On In Rex Morgan, M.D.? Is Rex Morgan really not doing a pandemic story? March - June 2020 gives you the plot recap.

How about pictures? Here's a bunch of ones from around Christmas 2018. And that means I am technically less than a year and a half behind! There's a ``good'' side to the pandemic after all!


One of my own oldest ornaments, a Ziggy with his dog that we got for ... some 70s reason. Probably my love of comic strips and the indiscriminate nature of parents buying stuff for their kid's weird obsessions.


We did not deliberately place it so Ziggy would be staring close at the wall, but it's certainly on point.


What the downstairs tree looked like, ahead of packing up all the presents to bring to bunny_hugger's parents' place.


A focus on some of the ornaments dedicated to Stephen and Columbo. There's the footprint of Stephen made in 2009 during an experience he HATED. This drew zero sympathy from bunny_hugger's mother who said he could put up with it for a couple minutes; we'd have this for years.


Her parents' home, and tree, and dog wondering why she has to endure a life with me in it.


Their tree seen from below and in full daylight.


bunny_hugger, as Stitch, enjoying the opening of a gift from her parents.


bunny_hugger is a gift herself!


Her parents' dog (our dog-in-law?) is not at all happy dealing with the stray ribbons.


Her father lights the fireplace using a flamethrower, as one will.


Sunshine came with us for Christmas, despite the bother of having to be put in her carrier and all that.


She is a little interested in her presents, though.


And, back home, a look at the upstairs tree decorated and lit by night.

Trivia: Pert Kelton (among other things the first Alice Kramden) was part of a family vaudeville act as a child. Later, she and her mother appeared as a ``sister'' act, Pert and Sue Kelton, which concluded with the two women doing vocal imitations of the trombone and clarinet. Source: The Encyclopedia of Vaudeville, Anthony Slide. (Pert also, in the performance, did impersonations of Charlie Chaplin and William S Hart.)

Currently Reading: Emblems of Exploration: Logos of the NACA and NASA, Joseph R Chambers, Mark A Chambers. Monographs in Aerospace History Number 56. So there's an Army Institute of Heraldry, and since 1957 any federal agency can call on them for advice on symbols and seals and iconography, which fills me with lovely silly thoughts. There's a lot I enjoy in the book, particularly all the graphic design stuff, but you can see where Chambers and Chambers aren't expert historical writers. It's small things, mostly ones about not connecting threads. Like, there's talk about how long it took the NACA to get a seal at all, and then how just five years later NASA got formed and got the Army Institute of Heraldry's advice. Why in 1958 and not 1952? ... well, because the Institute of Heraldry wasn't authorized to advise non-military groups until 1957, a thing clarified only in endnotes. It's a nice resource but it's not really a history yet.