What took us to Michigan's Adventure on a day we knew would be packed and not really good for amusement-park-going was not Michigan's Adventure or the amusement park. We were there in search of International Flipper Pinball Association points.
In particular bunny_hugger studied the state rankings and found she was not so far from the Top 16 In The State as she had thought she'd be. And that a player she knew well and was much better than outranked her by a good bit. Why was this? Well, that player had attended the Blind Squirrel Pinball League finals back in March, the ones we didn't because it was hit by nearly the only severe weather of last winter. Almost nobody attended, and the ``rival'' finished in the top four of that and got an abundance of credit for playing. And she kept going to Blind Squirrel League games. She didn't do so well as that, but there are a lot of ranking points available there.
So we decided to make the trek to Fremont, Michigan, which is in the middle of nowhere. While it still is the middle of nowhere, it's only about a half-hour by backroads from Michigan's Adventure. So the two-hour trip there seemed ridiculous just for pinball points. But as an extra half-hour driving on something we'd do already? That's rationalizable. Even if it made us make a trip to Michigan's Adventure we otherwise would not have. ``Rationalizable'', I wrote, not ``rational''. I know how to make excuses for what we wanted to do anyway.
We went to the park first and then the bar, on the theory we didn't know how long we'd need to play all the games we wanted. Fair enough, although we could have estimated by actually counting and doing basic arithmetic too. Blind Squirrel has two things going on: a ``season'' of three biweekly sessions, six games each. And a ``monthly'' tournament in which you can put in your two best scores on each of the six pinball machines there. Nominally, for the seasons you show up a designated league night. But since league nights are played for position, given by where your scores are compared to everyone else's, there's no logical problem with playing any old time. Even, as we did, playing three ``league nights'' one after the other.
If you are ``making up'' league nights like we did you're supposed to take photos of your scores, as flimsy proof that you actually put up what you reported. As it turned out AJH, who runs the Blind Squirrel League and uses it as a points mine --- he's #1 in the state with nearly twice the points of anyone else, and that's because he's very good at pinball and at competitive-pinball-scoring --- waived the requirement for us, on the grounds we wouldn't submit false scores. Which is true, but offends my sense of procedural fairness. Granted he can trust us; why should anyone else? So I keep photographs of the scores and of which scores we submit. But I do fall short of actually bundling them together and mailing them off. I'm ready if I'm ever challenged, though.
So the arithmetic we failed to do. For the monthly tournament we needed at least two rounds each on six games. For the ``league'' we needed three rounds on each of six games. Oh, and the league allows us to replay any of the games, once per league night, if we think we did poorly (but we're forced to keep the second round). Suppose we replay half the scores (which I think is what I averaged then).
That's a total of 39 games each. Suppose one decent game takes ten minutes. That's six and a half hours of play. Call it seven with breaks for dinner and the bathroom and all that. More if we play solely-for-practice games. Or if we start two-player games, making one of us idle while the other plays. We got to the Blind Squirrel Tavern about 6:30. We got out at 2 am, with a two-hour drive home.
So. As a project for getting bunny_hugger closer to parity with the rival, and into striking range for the state championships, this was a success. When the finals came about a week later she picked up a third-place finish in the monthly and a fifth-place finish in the league, launching the late-season race for the State Finals.
Trivia: Santa María la Antigua del Darién, in what is now Panama, is sometimes credited as the first permanent European settlement on the continental Americas. It was abandoned after nine years. Source: 1493: Uncovering The New World Columbus Created, Charles C Mann.
Currently Reading: Michigan: A History, Bruce Catton.