We bought tickets for Pinburgh late last year. We had to. The four-day tournament, running a Thursday through Sunday, is competitive pinball's biggest. It was held this year during the ReplayFX convention, in the same convention center that hosts Anthrocon. It would sell out its seven hundred ticket slots in something like twelve minutes after sales opened. We were getting good enough to at least think we wouldn't humiliate ourselves there. And everyone, everyone who had ever been there talked about how it was the greatest pinball competition.
And late last year we had no reason not to plan on going. Our pet rabbit was ageing, and he was no longer able to get to the top of his hutch the way he used to. He'd suffered a gastric stasis incident, where his intestines were briefly clogged. But we'd caught that and got him back to tolerably all right. He'd been doing all right if gradually worse through spring. Then he had the bone cancer scare. Then he had his complete collapse when we went to see my sister and her family in late May. Then the fly strike incident, which was barely two weeks before Pinburgh.
Could we risk going? If we did go, might he have another May-style collapse? Could going off for a week's recreation kill our rabbit? Did we have to cancel Pinburgh, to disappoint both ourselves and a remarkably wide swath of the Michigan pinball community? (What can I say, we're liked, especially bunny_hugger, who's extremely easy to like.) What if just one of us stayed behind to watch our rabbit? (I was ready to stay behind.)
We decided finally that if our pet rabbit seemed stable in the days before Pinburgh we would go. We'd leave him with bunny_hugger's parents, a reaffirmation that of course we trust them. But we would skip the carpooling with MWS or CST, as much as carpooling on the drive to Pittsburgh would make sense. We'd want to be able to leave in case of sudden horrible news. MWS and CST tried to coax us into carpooling again, pointing out that CST planned to leave midway through the event, if he didn't make finals after the first two days. And MWS could go early the Sunday or on Monday if necessary, though he hoped to stick around for Monday and a day at the Kennywood amusement park. We hoped so too. But we didn't feel comfortable making our contingency plans something that could screw up our friends' fun too.
So there we had it. We'd make the drive once more to Pittsburgh, and hope that there would be no sad e-mails from home.
Trivia: The sprayed-on ablative insulator on the X-15 rocket plane (and a version of what was used on the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo capsules) was naturally pink. It was covered with another, white, layer to protect it from liquid oxygen. Source: At The Edge Of Space: The X-15 Rocket Program, Milton O Thompson.
Currently Reading: The Complete Peanuts, 1973-74, Charles M Schulz. Editor Gary Groth. Boy, you forget how story-heavy the strip was in this era, and nearly all of them really solid stories.