austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

He out-bopped the buzzard and the oriole

bunny_hugger started her second season running the Lansing Pinball League in June, just after the previous season ended. There was good thinking at work here. July would be a weird month for pinball scheduling as Pinburgh, the world's largest pinball tournament, was its last weekend. A big portion of the community would be attending or trying to attend, so that the fourth week of the month was wiped out. And the weekend before that would be the Baby Food Festival, in Fremont, another major event good for statewide rankings. (Pinburgh, in Pittsburgh, can't do a thing for anyone's work getting to Michigan state finals.) She could set her quarterly Rocket Robin tournament for what would otherwise be the league night, a Tuesday, and relax in having everything run as smoothly as possible.

The first thing to go wrong was the calendar. The 4th of July was a Wednesday, so, the Grand Rapids Pinball League moved its meeting date. It pushed the start of its season back a week, to the day after the Rocket Robin tournament, at the risk of saturating the pinball appetite of people who might play here and there. We try to avoid running stuff on successive nights if we can. The second thing to go wrong was the inevitable march of time: days that should have given her time to make trophies just weren't there, somehow, and bunny_hugger had a stressful few days leading up to the tournament. The third thing to go wrong was the parking lot. It's been a cramped, cratered municipal parking lot behind the venue for years now. The city picked this week to finally do something about it. And something big; they scraped all the pavement off and drilled down to rockbed. This is great, long-term, because it means there's a gorgeous smooth parking lot with bright clear unmistakable lines back there (and they haven't restored the parking meters just yet!). But for that night? It meant there was no known parking anywhere near the venue.

In past years Rocket Robin was a ``pinball pinball pinball'' format, in which one person's waiting in a queue and as each game finishes the participants go back to the queue, one person pairing up with the waiting person to go to a new game and the other becoming the queue. The problems with this are that you need someone not playing who can manage traffic, since people do not get this scheme right. And there's no real chance between games to go to the bathroom or get a drink or anything. Marathon tournaments can be fun, but they're also exhausting. Also it's possible to game the system, just by walking back to the queue slowly or popping out for the bathroom or such if you're sure you can't beat the person who's waiting but think you might have a chance with someone else.

So she used a different format this year: Swiss pairings. This is a scheme that approximates round-robin tournaments. You get matched up with whoever in the tournament has the closest record to yours and whom you haven't played yet. Play enough rounds and everybody will play everyone else. Don't have quite enough time and you'll play a fair approximation to that.

Fifteen people came, and we had enough time in the three hours allotted to play eleven rounds. This has to be pretty close to the maximum possible. (We did rule some of the longer-playing games out of contention; happily, our venue has enough tables we can skip some of them.) And to my own amazement I ended up in third place, taking home one of the trophies that my dear bride had worked so hard to assemble. A good omen ahead of Pinburgh.

The trophies by the way were mostly reconversions, taking several of the ones that GRV had donated years ago and removing their old plaques, and then adding new decorations to fit the robin/bird theme. bunny_hugger posted pictures of these as event promotion. My father saw them and was bowled over by her trophy-making skills. He's mentioned it in Facebook conversations with her about eighty times since then, and has mentioned it on the phone to me several times too. I understand his being impressed by my dear bride's skills, and I think he's right to be. I'm just surprised he's talking this much about them.

Trivia: The earliest depiction of a woman reading in a fashion publication dates to about a decade after the fashion press began. It's from French catalogue showing the styles for summer 1688. Source: The Essence of Style: How the French Invented High Fashion, Fine Food, Chic Cafés, Style, Sophistication, and Glamour, Joan DeJean.

Currently Reading: Fuelling the Empire: South Africa's Gold and the Road to War, John J Stephens.


PS: So that finished off our visit to New Jersey for our anniversary last year. Here's some pictures from when last year bunny_hugger's father set off some fireworks at their house. IMG_1485.jpg

bunny_hugger kneeling down to get a photo of this shower type firework and I don't know what's shooting off above her head there. I think it's got to be some weird reflection off my lens, right?


IMG_1491.jpg

Yeah, so this fountain got to be a bit taller than anyone was quite expecting.


IMG_1494.jpg

And then there were a couple Roman candles that went high enough above the house (you can see the roofline running along the lower left corner here) that the neighbors applauded.


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