June 23rd, 2014

krazy koati

The earth is shaking and so am I

We had a decision to make the night we got to the Red Roof++: would we go to Kennywood or to Idlewild park the next day? Both are in the Pittsburgh area, Idlewild about an hour away, but it's also a much smaller park, requiring less time to see thoroughly. We'd thought that after the full day travelling we might sleep in a bit and take in Idlewild the first day and Kennywood the next. But we also checked the weather forecast. The whole week looked to be rainy, and it would be, but the chances of rain according to Weather Underground were much higher for Wednesday than for Tuesday. We decided it was better to go to Kennywood on the less-likely-to-thunderstorm day, and hope for the best.

I also couldn't go right to bed because there was a minor catastrophe at work. I'd been doing some fixes to a longstanding problem discovered in my code, and that set off a subtler but no less urgent problem that had to be fixed, so I put a couple of hours into urgent testing and debugging and posted a solution to that while bunny_hugger more sensibly got to sleep. I also mailed a warning that I wouldn't be able to handle any crises because I'd be out of the house, which is as close as I got to quite telling work that I was tromping around western Pennsylvania amusement parks all week. (Another problem did crop up, toward the end of the week, but I was able to hack a solution to that together in the evenings and in no particular rush.) There's a lot of code that, frankly, I need to just rewrite altogether.

Anyway, come morning, we set out to ... Giant Eagle, the supermarket chain. I'd had the idea Giant Eagle was kind of in the class of the Krogers' around here; based on this sample, they seem to be more upscale, on the order of Wegman's or the Renovated Krogers'. You know, the kind of supermarket that has fake wood veneer under the produce department. They had fairly cheap Kennywood tickets and two-for-one coupons for Idlewild tickets, the best pricing deal we could find. And they were real proper tickets, too, on nice card stock in bright green. The Idlewild two-for-one ticket was just a sheet of paper but, what did we expect, to bring in a Pepsi can? (I kind of did.) We also got some doughnuts to serve as breakfast and tried to use the self-check-out lane, only to get stalled out when it insisted on having our Giant Eagle loyalty card number, which we didn't have because we're not loyal. The Kennywood tickets are supposed to be purchased only by people with loyalty cards too --- we were ready to sign up for one for that --- but they didn't ask for them at the customer service desk where the tickets were sold. Altogether, there's a lot of this we can't explain.

Onward, to Kennywood, and the twisty maze of roads from Red Roof++ to the amusement park, which we're getting to be pretty good at navigating considering that the roads are an insane mess of twisty passages. There is one intersection I don't know that I can describe in words. It starts as two roads, one higher and one lower on the hill, which come to parallel one another as they get to the stop light. Past the cross street there's just the one road, continuing what had been the left-hand road. In front of the right-hand street is a gas station. If you have the light from the right-hand street you just kind of drift from your road jotting over to the side and onto the continuation of the left-hand road. It's like what you build when you're playing SimCity and don't have any idea what you're doing, except SimCity doesn't actually let you build road tangles quite like this. Pittsburgh has many wonderful features but the way there doesn't quite seem to be enough space for any of its roads, resulting in tense little intersections like this, don't show it at its best.

We got to Kennywood about when they opened their gates to let people into the park. They give about a half-hour for people to filter into the park before rides start, preventing a tidal wave that swamps the stuff nearer the entrance. They told bunny_hugger to get her bag screened; she'd brought her new camera with detachable lenses and a bag of fair substance in. They didn't say a word about my meager little camera. I don't take this personally. Except they did give her, and everyone else whose bag was being screened, a window sticker with a Kennywood arrow that included on back a coupon for half-off admission till midsummer. This seems like an awfully generous compensation for having someone peek in your bag.

Mind, her camera bag was pretty big and she didn't want to carry it all day necessarily, so she rented a locker for the day. This is on the second floor of a gazebo near the entrance, above the fudge shop, and we'd end up going back to it several times over the course of the day and generally selling me on the idea of using a locker inside the park. It was rather easier than going back to the car for stuff. Also it let me get a view of the entrance where one of Kennywood's mascots was greeting crowds. Not Kenny Kangaroo, unfortunately --- in our visits there we have yet to see him --- but another mascot, a guy dressed in a big Kennywood Arrow costume, giving high-fives to little kids and parents, and waving at teenagers who just could not believe they were seeing this.

I should mention before I forget: later in the day bunny_hugger noticed that near to her locker, which I think was number 671, was also a locker 668B in place of 669, and she wondered what happened that there'd be an out-of-sequence number like that. I poked around and found some of the other -B lockers and realized what was going on, and she could not believe it. What I noticed: there was a locker 568B in place of 569, and a 468B in place of 469, and so on. Yes: they didn't want to give kids the chance to snicker at a locker number with ``69'' in it. They also had a locker 665B in place of 666. I realize just now that I failed to see what they did for the 690's. I did try to check what they do for locker 420, but that portion of lockers was roped off.

All that said, we got ourselves positioned for 11 am and the start of the day and the welcoming of all guests with the Kennywood opening song, Julius Fuşík's ``Entrance of the Gladiators'', or as everyone knows it, ``that circus song where the clowns come in''.

Trivia: The number of distilleries making rum in Boston grew from eight in 1738 to sixty-three in 1750. Source: A History of the World in Six Glasses, Tom Standage.

Currently Reading: The Age of Radiance: The Epic Rise and Dramatic Fall of the Atomic Era, Craig Nelson.

PS: Reading the Comics, June 22, 2014: Name-Dropping Stuff Edition, yes, more mathematics comics.