And for pinball playing news: in the Lansing pinball league I had another late-season fade with a couple of poor nights' playing. In the league finals tournament, a double-elimination contest, I got eliminated pretty quickly. I didn't do the worst of the A-division folks, and I was playing against some really first-rate folks. But I have been under-performing, I think. bunny_hugger hasn't, though. She went in to the finals second-seeded in the B division and came out ... well, second-placed in B division. But that's after a lot of fine play. And she's doing vastly better than me in bringing home actual trophies.
In the split-flipper, ``zen'' tournament --- pairs of players each controlling one flipper each --- that the league does for fun after the season's done, again, I didn't win anything. My partner and I were top-seeded, based on our combined points, but we just didn't put anything together. Part of this was my fault: I launched one ball when I thought my partner was ready, but he was fiddling with his glasses, and it turned out there was no ball save suddenly. bunny_hugger and her partner, league president WVL, did much better but came in second. This is the first time since the first season that neither bunny_hugger nor I (nor both) were on the winning team. Well, it's fair enough other people get a chance some.
I did claim a moral victory, though. On the pinball machine World Cup Soccer there's this extra button for Magna-Save. It triggers a magnet that, in theory, would capture the ball and hold it still directly over the left flipper. Nobody uses it. Nobody thinks of it. Usually if the ball is somewhere that Magna-Save might help, the player's instinct is to try catching the ball by some other method, usually slap-saving (hitting the left and the right flippers at slightly different times, so the ball doesn't just go right down the middle) or nudging the table. But I did it! The ball was tumbling towards the center, above my flipper, and I jammed the Magna-Save button, bringing it to a dead stop perfectly in control. Yes, I shouted my joy at this.
If that weren't awesome enough, our opponents --- CST and a guy pulled over from the bar to be in our tournament because we had an odd number of players --- had talked about the Magna-Save button just before this. CST's partner asked what the Magna-Save button was for, and he just said, ``Don't touch that''. He explained it was the most useless thing in pinball. And he's right. It's just that for the first time in the two years the game had been at our hipster bar, I would have the opportunity and presence of mind to use the stupid thing.
So, my partner and I regard the tournament as having been a moral win for us.
Trivia: Robert Hooke had a base salary of £50 pa as surveyor and engineer for Christopher Wren, as Wren oversaw the rebuilding of London after the Great Fire of 1666. Source: Ingenious Pursuits: Building The Scientific Revolution, Lisa Jardine.
Currently Reading: Lost Islands: The Story Of Islands That Have Vanished From The Nautical Charts, Henry Stommel.