Our first major adventure of the year. 2016 closed with bunny_hugger something like the 24th-highest-rated woman in competitive pinball. She's good, yes, and she gets some help from competing in many events. Also there's not enough women in pinball, which is why there is now a Women's World Championship. The top sixteen women at the end of 2016 were invited to the championship, but a few couldn't make it or declined the invite. The something-like-23rd-highest-rated woman filled out the 16th spot, and bunny_hugger reconciled herself to that. Next year she'd be good enough to get an invite.
And then came the e-mail. One more person had dropped out. Would she be interested in the Women's World Championship? It would be crazy. Booking a flight to Dallas --- two, if I came along --- and hotel room on this short notice? And cancelling a day of class? And all that to lose in the first round of a best-of-seven playoff? Why? ... But then, how much do you end up regretting the things you do instead of the things you decline? And that's why she went for it. She accepted the spot for the Women's World Championship. She also signed both of us up for the two-day Pin-Masters tournament, to be held the Friday and Saturday after the Women's World Championship.
Some nice things fell together ahead of the tournament, too. ADM, one of our Grand Rapids friends and Michigan's representative to the National Finals --- held the same time, in the same venue, as the Women's World Championship --- was able to get us a cheap hotel room, part of his employee perks. The lone downside was we'd be there as adjuncts to his reservation, so we couldn't check in until he got there, and he got a much later flight than we would. We got tolerably easy flights, too, as Southwest flies from Detroit straight to Dallas, and to Love Field, their older and smaller city airport. (Along the way we discovered the existence of Detroit City Airport, which doesn't host any commercial flights anymore but has vague ambitions of doing so someday.) Generally the smaller airport is the less stressful one.
And then some promising news. Friends like CST knew some things about the top-ranked women. They assured bunny_hugger that the number-one seed was over-rated, beneficiary of playing many tournaments. The number-two seed was the toughest one in the field. Given bunny_hugger's sixteenth-place seed, she could have a fair chance of winning the first round. And after that --- well, who knows. But winning the first round would be as good as winning the whole tournament.
Trivia: The public bathhouse opened in St Marylebone, London, in 1850 had 107 separate baths, plus vapor and shower baths and two swimming baths. Hot bath prices ranged from 2d to, for a first-class bath, 6d. Source: The Age of Paradox: A Biography of England 1841 - 1851, John W Dodds.
Currently Reading: Gateway To The Moon: Building the Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex, Charles D Benson, William B Faherty. NASA SP-4204, excerpted.