bunny_hugger and I were shocked to learn that skylerbunny and company not only weren't done with dinner, but hadn't even started it yet. As we got the story together, they had set off initially with the plan to go to a noodles restaurant of some kind that they'd had a good impression of (it turned out to be part of a chain which some of the gang had visited before). But they weren't able to find the restaurant, despite their best efforts searching. After a protracted time while we waited for the variety show to begin, and then to play out, they went from looking for the noodles place to looking for any place, only to find the restaurants which dotted every strip mall in the strip malls which dotted the highway running past the con hotel, where bluerain and company were staying, and the overflow hotel, where skylerbunny and we were staying, were in hiding. They finally found a place acceptable to all appetites involved and able to handle five people at once and they promised to eat as fast as possible and get back to us.
We weren't hungry even yet, but we were frustrated that this almost certainly meant we'd miss the dance. At least we'd miss the fursuit part, since that was only scheduled for the first hour and then the fursuiters would go back to drink cold water and pass out. But there also wasn't going to be any other time when we might have our miniature golf: bunny_hugger and I had plans to get to a pair of puppet events in the morning (which cut off the later hours of the dance Saturday night), and a tea in the early afternoon. bluerain would be needed at the closing ceremony later in the afternoon, and of course she, orv, and kevinjdog would need to have someone manning their table in the Dealers Room up through the closing ceremonies (and for cleanup afterwards). After the closing ceremonies bunny_hugger and I would have a little time, but we'd have to get going because her home is about six hours' driving time away, and she had to work Monday afternoon.
So, in total, it would be either going to the dance at all, or miniature golfing with our friends, and we picked golfing. We also realized that under absolutely no circumstances could there be a multiple-hours search for a restaurant Sunday afternoon. Already we'd have to be driving for hours after midnight; driving towards 3 am, after a third day of con activity that started before 9 am, would be far too dangerous to tolerate.
However, their dinner didn't take too long, mercifully, and we assembled to go to one of the two indoor miniature golf locations that we'd spotted. It turns out both were quite near the Overflow Hotel. We went to one in the strip mall near the Red Robin which bunny_hugger and I had eaten at earlier in the day, and which skylerbunny had eaten at Thursday evening. And this one offered not just indoor-ness but also fluorescence: most of the key features, including golf balls and putters, were painted so as to glow with unearthly brilliance under black lighting.
So picture not just a very compact miniature golf course, fully embracing the wonderful cheery goofball charm which makes them such fun, but now one that's in a good impersonation of pitch blackness, with key elements glowing. Sets of different holes took on different themes --- underwater fantasia here, vaguely medieval castles there, extraterrestrial planets moving on --- and the walk-through path curled back on itself many times over so that it was fairly chllenging to figure out exactly what you were looking at at any moment. Add to this that it would not be obvious at first glance where the holes were, or what the outlines of the field were, or just where the floor might rise or fall, and you could get some satisfyingly difficult shots in this compact space.
And it meant that bunny_hugger and I could use the glowing sticks we had bought for the dance after all. They would flicker satisfyingly for us even if we were golfing to no particular rhythm. They fit the style of the miniature golf place quite well.
On the WiiFitPlus, one of the new training exercises is the Driving Range, giving the chance with balance board and remote to practice approach, iron, and driver shots. It turns out I'm pretty good at this, hitting with not bad consistency in distance and, at least on the approach and iron shots, direction as well. These skills are also almost completely useless for miniature golf, which is not represented by the WiiFitPlus. But I had learned something transferrable, particularly, don't try shooting wildly, just pick a shot you can make and make it consistently so. When I realized that's what I should be doing I started improving considerably --- not coming near making holes-in-one, but also making respectable progress on each shot. If I'd realized sooner that I shouldn't bother trying for holes-in-one and should go for reliability I might have made a fair run at winning.
Still, while I realized soon enough I shouldn't be using my simulated driving skills for a putting course, augustforth had not so considered. You see, by the ergodic hypothesis, an object moving in a closed space which loses no energy to friction and which is subject to elastic collisions with the walls may be expected, given enough time, to cover every point within the bounds (unless it gets trapped in a periodic repetition of a fixed path). Therefore, hit the ball strongly enough and it will, someday, reach the location of the hole. Oh, there are losses to friction, and to hitting other balls, and to the imperfect collisions with the walls, but if you hit strongly enough you can overcome that, can't you?
That was my theory to explain augustforth's putting. He really sent the balls flying, inducing not just flinching and ducking out of the way multiple times over, but also sending his ball rebounding not just behind the starting line but, in some cases, into adjacent courses, possibly in other buildings, in other municipalities. He never quite hit the ball into a neighboring hole, but that's probably just because our ongoing blend of ridicule and pleas for mercy got him to dial the proton energy pills he was taking down to eleven and the balls returned to mere suborbital hops.
I love photographing in difficult lighting conditions. A fluorescent-paint miniature golf course qualifies as difficult. This was perfect for challenging me, and I think --- without taking a close count --- that I ended up taking more photographs of miniature golf than I did anything else. Possibly everything else, at least until the next Saturday (reporting on which is to follow). To make it more challenging, I didn't have a tripod, not even the little pocket sort which could be set on what few horizontal surfaces were around. I'd have to take photographs, preferably of durations on the order of a second, while holding the camera in my hand. Pressing the camera against a wall or other object could let me get more stable pictures, but they were never going to be unchallenging ones.
But when the photographs do work out ... the results would be unearthly in their beauty. The golf balls, particularly, become if captured in motion these glowing particle trails, some of them rebounding against walls, or other balls, or changes in the floor's level. The people putting were almost invisible, except for the stuttering trails swept out by the putters and the chemical-fluorescent wristbands we wore. Except, of course, that bunny_hugger with the light stick around her neck would have her own light source bringing her into a flickering, color-changing solidity during the pictures. Some of the photographs are almost uninterpretable, as they'd capture her not just making a swing but walking off, leaving a strange cloud of motion and a trail of golf ball going off camera, but that has its own peculiar extra beauty. And a few times I could even get sort-of discernable pictures of everyone else, too.
Dotting the course in a few locations were questions from some sort of pop trivia quiz. The questions of this quiz were alternately baffling to me (I know so little about hip-hop that any question past, ``have you heard of hip-hop?'', elicits a vague and slightly nervous stare from me) or insultingly obvious (such as, if I remember rightly, identifying the name of the father on ``The Simpsons'' or what Clark Kent does when he's not Supermanning). From this I extrapolate that the questions I knew nothing about were insultingly obvious for their subject matter. The poor quality of questions became one of the things which comically irritated me through the trail.
bluerain kept score, and by her count I came in fourth in our party. I should have switched to my consistent-regular-shots approach sooner, although in the first few holes I'd have probably been knocked out of the park by rebounds from augustforth's shots anyway. Since the golf place was so near our hotel --- they were separated just by the parking lot --- we walked home; there wasn't time to return to the dance, since we had to be up around 8 am to make the puppet panels.
Sometime during the miniature golf, I dropped my lens cap, and the little post inside it, the one with a spring in it so the cap will stick to the barrel of the lens, fell out. This isn't a problem if I put my camera in the form-fitting cover as I do for ordinary use, but it did mean I couldn't cover my lens cap while having the body of the camera out of the bag. Shame, that.
Trivia: An 1832 survey of 249 factories east of the Appalachians found that four were steam-powered. Source: An Empire Of Wealth, John Steele Gordon.
Currently Reading: Empire Of The Air: The Men Who Made Radio, Tom Lewis.