Getting old

Jul. 27th, 2017 06:47 am
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[personal profile] altivo
One of the things about getting older is that other people get older too. Most of us notice our friends and relatives aging without quite seeing the same thing happening to ourselves unless serious health issues arise.

While I've been pretty fortunate in that respect, I've now survived the loss of nearly all my older relatives. My family was never all that large, but grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, a number of cousins and an older sibling have all passed away, leaving me the oldest survivor of my immediate family. Oddly, I still don't feel "old" in spite of having retired from daily work and being able to take advantage of the occasional "senior discount."

However, it gets closer to home when personal friends are affected. A good friend for many years now, who attended the same university I did (though we had not yet met) and has been fairly close to my husband and me for as long as we've been together (35 years!) has been seriously ill with histoplasmosis. That's a systemic infection by a parasitic fungus if I understand it correctly. It's typically acquired from bat or bird droppings and not very common. Difficult to diagnose and with complex symptoms, the disease can be life-threatening if untreated. He was not diagnosed early, and eventually reached a state of emergency before getting a correct diagnosis. Fortunately, that came just in time and treatment is succeeding, but he has been hospitalized for many weeks and is only now recovering his ability to walk, eat, and perform the tasks of daily life. He is only a couple of years older than I am, and has always been a very active outdoors individual. This is sobering and a bit frightening.

Meanwhile, husband Gary's younger brother has been hospitalized for over two months due to major heart issues. He has had two major heart attacks in the past, and has become so weak that they put him on the waiting list for a heart transplant. This week he received an LVAD, a heart-assist mechanism, in a six hour surgical procedure. His doctors hope this will keep him going until a replacement heart becomes available. He is five or six years younger than I am.

My own younger brother has had both knees and a hip replaced, and has also had back surgery and major heart issues more than once but seems to be continuing a pretty normal life. Fortunately he is married to a very skilled and wise master nurse who can spot issues early and take appropriate action.

So far I've had no big problems and everything seems to be under control. But I begin to wonder if the proverbial sword of Damocles is up there waiting to fall on me.

Chocolate Mousse Pie Recipe

Jul. 27th, 2017 12:04 am
thewayne: (Default)
[personal profile] thewayne
I mentioned that I was going to post it, and I've been procrastinating. So here it is. I think it is VERY good, my wife absolutely loves it.

Chocolate Mousse Pie Recipe
Difficulty: Easy | Total Time: less than an hour, plus 3+ hrs chilling time | Makes: 1 (9-inch) pie, or 8 to 10 servings
¾ cup (5 oz) semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped. I use Ghirardelli 60% bittersweet chips, no need to chop.
¼ cup cold heavy cream for melting the chocolate
¾ cup cold heavy cream for whipping (a single pint makes 2 pies)
2 or 3 large egg whites (no traces of yolk), at room temperature, depending on how dense a chocolate you want (2 eggs = more dense chocolate, 3 eggs = slightly less dense chocolate, 1 egg = not recommended)
1 Oreo chocolate cookie pie crust

OPTIONAL: ½ TEASPOON chili powder, I recommend Spice Islands brand, should be available at Albertsons.
OPTIONAL: 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, use a good one that isn't just vanilla “flavored”.

1. Fill a medium sauce pan with 1-2 inches of water and bring to a simmer over medium heat.

2. Place the chocolate (and chili powder, optional) in a large heat proof bowl, add the ¼ cup of the cream and vanilla. Nest the bowl over the saucepan, making sure the bottom of the bowl isn’t touching the water. Melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally with a rubber spatula, until smooth and combined with the cream. Remove the bowl from the saucepan, wipe any moisture from the bottom of it, and set aside to cool slightly.

3. While the chocolate is cooling, place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (make sure the bowl and whisk have no trace of oil or fat on them, or the whites won’t whip properly). Mix on high until stiff peaks form, about 1 minute; transfer to a medium bowl and set aside. It's OK if this is over-mixed. Personally I put the whites on a paper plate to reduce cleanup.

4. Clean and dry the whisk attachment and mixer bowl, chill the bowl with cold water if you just rinsed it with hot. Place the remaining ¾ cup of cream in the bowl and whisk on high speed until stiff peaks form, about 1 minute. It's NOT OK to over-mix this or you get something like butter! Keep an eye on it.

5. The chocolate should be cool, or just slightly warm by this time. Using a spatula, fold half of the whipped cream in to the melted chocolate, then gently stir in the rest (try not to deflate the whipped cream). Gently fold the egg whites into the chocolate-cream mixture just until there are no longer large blobs of whipped cream or egg white (do not over-mix). Pour the mousse into the cooled pie crust and smooth it into an even layer, you can do this by moving the pie tin in a large circle and it will settle itself. Refrigerate uncovered until set, at least 2-3 hours, overnight is better. Then cover it with the lid that came with the pie crust (if you bought an Oreo or Keebler crust.)

NOTES FROM WAYNE: The chili powder and vanilla are my additions. If you want more chili powder, go ahead, but be very careful. Add it in quarter, or even eighth teaspoon increments, we find the current half teaspoon to be a nice kick and just shy of too much.

If you look at this recipe online, they have you making your own pie crust. If you want to make the effort, go for it, I'm sure it'll be great. I'd rather not spend the time, and I can make this pie in half an hour from pulling the ingredients out of the fridge to putting the pie in to set by using an Oreo crust. Keebler also makes a chocolate crust, but the Oreo crust tastes better in my opinion.

The online recipe also has the suggestion of making and adding whipped cream when you serve it. Personally, I wouldn't bother because this recipe is VERY calorie-dense. It's a very nice dessert, Russet and I usually share a piece to reduce the calories and I cut it in to eight pieces to make them a little smaller.

(from CHOW http://www.chow.com/recipes/30500-chocolate-mousse-pie/ By Amy Wisniewski

I hate photography failures

Jul. 26th, 2017 09:49 am
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[personal profile] thewayne
So I'm at the observatory last night, it's the third night of my wife's four night shift, and for once, the weather looks really good: we've had a storm cell parked on top of the mountain for a couple of weeks. I set up my camera on the floor in front of the telescope, check all the settings, all looks well. Empty memory card, I'd topped-off the battery before I left home, camera settings were where I wanted them. My wife told me that the observer was watching just a single target, so I wouldn't get much in the way of star streaks, but that was OK - it was more of an experiment to see what it would look like. I started the external timer firing once a second, she turned off the lights, opened the dome, and we went downstairs to the control room for a few hours.

I knew the camera battery was good for about 4.5 hours in colder conditions, and I started it shooting at about 20:00, just before sundown, so I kind of expected it to still be firing when I went back up about three hours later. No visible red LED on the camera. Maybe it was between exposures. Get down to the floor of the telescope: nope, it was dead. So take it off the tripod, sling it over my shoulder, grab my tripod and head back downstairs.

I figured the battery was dead and I had a card full of images to look at. I did stop to look out the telescope slit: absolutely gorgeous night, couldn't have asked for a nicer sky. So down in the control room, just for kicks and giggles, I try to turn the camera on. And it turns on. And shows a battery just under completely full.

Hit the button to playback images. It took 240 images before stopping. A whopping five minutes of exposures. Didn't even get past sundown, which would have been nice to have the sky transition. Complete waste of time.

I don't know what happened. Camera battery was fine. Remote timer battery was fine: I replaced it with a new battery after I got it (I bought a used unit). 32 gig memory card was empty and freshly formatted when I started the night. The camera was set to turn itself off after two minutes, but the timer was tripping it once a second, so the auto power-off should never have triggered.

*sigh*

We did have a good time, chatting with people in the control room. Another astronomer from the other telescope had just returned from eight days in Japan, visiting her aunt and cousins. Had wonderful stories, especially about toilets, TV, and scarily-expensive coffee. Talking to their computer guy about a switch that had confused itself about its IP address and he couldn't find it on the network. I suggested trying to find its MAC address, but that didn't work. We talked about the summer shutdown when they do heavy maintenance on the telescopes: the 2.5 meter mirror is about to get crated up and trucked to Tucson for its annual re-aluminaization, and it's possible the 3.5 will get redone this year even though it was done only two years ago.

And, of course, playing with the poodles, talking about Gay of Thrones (Funny or Die recap of the HBO series) and Orphan Black.

A World of Fantasy

Jul. 24th, 2017 09:14 pm
frith: Light pink cartoon pony with dark pink mane (FIM Pinkie excited)
[personal profile] frith posting in [community profile] ponyville_trot
a_world_of_fantasy_by_wilvarin_liadon
Source: http://wilvarin-liadon.deviantart.com/art/A-world-of-fantasy-694355941

Fandom awake! I don't know what you're here for, but for me it's the art! And the ponies, ponies and art, and the whole triumph over adversity thing, but art keeps me going. So, ahoy, art event ahead and only five days from now!

Every year, since 2011, Equestria Daily has had this 30 day art challenge. Ponies plus art equals win! I suck at drawing and if I ever want to not suck, I have to draw, but I'm a bad hamster, I only spin that wheel if there's a deadline. So every year I do the art challenge. This year it starts on July 29th. The submission form for your oeuvres d'art will be here. It's the same dance as with the Ponies Around the World photo thing. You can do your art in any medium you want, including 3D. So, Plasticine, mashed potatoes, macrame, Source Film Maker, all good. Visual puns are a plus. Not acceptable: using a pony generator tool, like the General Zoi Pony Creator. Once submitted, your work automatically appears in this gallery here. Neither of those links work today but they will by July 29th.

Five days! These things always start with the warm-up challenge: 'Draw a Pony Standing'. 2B pencil or not 2B pencil, that is the question.

You know, I have yet to see anyone submit a stick-figure pony made with real sticks, and there have been several stick figure ponies.
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[personal profile] austin_dern

We finally took the time to bring our new pet rabbit, Columbo, outside. We'd taken Stephen out several times and he seemed to like sitting around in the portable wire cage, eating grass and dandelions and myrtle and scaring off all the squirrels from the yard. But we hadn't had the chance to take Columbo out yet and wondered what he would make of the outside world. That we finally re-found the harness encouraged us to take him out.

First step: would he put up with the harness around his chest? Some rabbits won't tolerate even this, and in that case we'd have to move the wire cage out. But, no, he was perfectly compliant as we snapped the harness around and that's made me belatedly remember that his shelter's folks said he was often taken on display for events. He either has the sort of temperament that doesn't mind harnesses or he's been trained to accept them. Second step: would he tolerate having a leash attached? And yes, turns out he does. Many rabbits, Stephen among them, don't know what to make of that, especially if they try hopping out of range and get tugged back by a mysterious force. Columbo had no trouble with this. It helps that he tends to lope, carefully, in an unfamiliar location, rather than try to run; it's easy to keep up with him.

Ah, but what does he think of the outside? And that seemed to be ... he could take or leave it. He did some prowling around, but was uninterested in eating anything. The grass before him? No. Dandelion or plantain leaves? Thanks, he's aware of their work. The rose bushes? He might poke around them, but otherwise leave them alone. He did want to get underneath some shrubs beside the house, and he wanted to explore down to the neighbors' yard, just as Stephen had. But he wasn't interested in tasting any of the world around. Nor in binkying or doing anything too expressive.

Still, this in hindsight ought not have surprised us. He's a more reserved rabbit, and more quietly investigative than Stephen was. He also seems more suspicious; at least, he's prone to distrusting things on first impression. I had quipped that he dislikes doing anything for the first time, much like me. That would extend to even the wonders of eating fresh, growing plants too. We've since had the chance to give him more time outside, on a live lawn, and he warmed up considerably to the experience. So while the day out might have technically been a disappointment, it was one that set him up for better days afterwards.

Trivia: Insurance premiums for newsreel cameramen on hazardous assignments, around 1938, were something like $15 per day and up to $6,000 per year for ten thousand dollars coverage. Cameramen also had a group-insurance plan, paid by their companies, for about $4,000 coverage per person. Source: The American Newsreel, 1911 - 1967, Raymond Fielding.

Currently Reading: The Story Of Story Book Land, Tina Skinner.

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So during the Rollapalooza tournament there was this long, steady, deep rumbling. Since the tournament was in a bowling alley this was not particularly surprising. Except it seemed like a pretty long rumbling for a bowling alley that wasn't actually all that busy at the moment. A quick check out during some down time revealed yeah, it was thunder. A lot of thunder, and a lot of rain.

When I say ``a lot of rain'' please understand: I mean more rain than you're thinking of. This was too much rain to say it was raining cats and dogs. This was a rain so intense that I could point to it and tell [profile] bunny_hugger that that was what the monsoons in Singapore were like. It was a heavy enough rain we couldn't see the cars in the parking lot, and that from the front door. Helping the absolute curtain of rain was that the overhang in front of the building gathered and dropped water in sheets at the edge of the patio.

As a vast, mind-boggling amount of rain this inspired cheer. Laughter. Gratitude that we weren't driving in it. BIL, a high school teacher and organizer of multiple tournaments in his basement, led some of the kids in quick races out into the rain and back in again. Some of the adults too. I didn't join. The bowling alley was air-conditioned enough that I didn't want to tromp around inside in wet clothes.

The amazing thing for how intense the rain was is how long it went on. It would eventually drop down to a moderate rain, but that took an hour-plus. That would give us time to not make finals and to eventually decide to head home. It was rainy, sure, but I'm not a timid driver.

I got to be timid, when the rain picked up again and approached, at least, the intensity of that initial front. It's harrowing to be on the Interstate and need to slow to about thirty miles an hour, hazard signals flashing because there's just no visibility. That we got past without difficulty and then realized what was waiting for us near Lansing.

The interstates, being, well, interstates in-between cities and with plenty of grass to absorb the water handled the rain tolerably well. The surface streets in town? Not so much. There were inches of rain on the roads we needed to get to our actual home. We tried to think of the route that kept us to the most major roads, and the ones with the fewest potholes, and even then had to swerve around some standing lakes that threatened to sink my low-riding Scion tC.

The last road we couldn't avoid, what with our living on it. I just had to plunge ahead and trust that the car wouldn't stall out or have anything else permanently bad happen to it. And, for a wonder, our block with all the potholes was no particular trouble, a relief after a couple blocks of unavoidable ponds and waves of the car splashing into it. No harm done.

So I thought, anyway. The next time I took the car out I heard a scraping, some of the time. This proved to be the shield underneath the engine, which had gotten pulled half loose and would scrape on many inclines. At the dealership they judged that some of the mounting points had gotten ripped off, surely by the car trying to get through flooded streets. There was no replacing the mounting points without replacing the front bumper. But they could (and did) push the shield back up, trusting that the remaining bolts and the lip of the bumper would keep it safe, at least until the next time I had to drive through a reemergent Lake Algonquin. Shall see.

Trivia: A force of about a hundred US Marines remained in Nicaragua from the end of the civil war in 1912 until 1925 and the formation of a coalition government between conservative President Carlos Solórzano and liberal Vice-President Bautista Sacaso. Shortly after the Marines left General Emiliano Chamorro Vargas and Adolfo Díaz launched a coup driving the liberals from office and, by January, Solórzano too. Source: America's Wars, Alan Axelrod.

Currently Reading: The Story Of Story Book Land, Tina Skinner.

PS: There's Still Time To Ask For Things For The Mathematics A To Z, a reminder.

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[personal profile] austin_dern

My strategy for Richmond Rollapalooza was to put up one score on each table, then look at the standings, and then play whatever my lowest-ranked table was, trusting that eventually I'd have a breakthrough game and get at least high enough to qualify. This is not a customized strategy; it's basically what I use for every tournament with this qualifying format. It's hard to think of an alternate sensible one, except maybe for playing the game you're most confident, for whatever reason, you're likely to have a breakthrough on. Or skipping a game you know has got you licked. I followed the process well, especially since I found I could use the bowling alley's Wi-Fi on my iPod. What never came was my breakthrough game, though.

I had some successes, grinding my way up slowly, but I never had the breakout game on anything that I needed. Looking over the statistics I don't seem to have broken the top ten on any game, Classics or Main. In Classics --- again, my traditional strength --- I don't even come close, finishing six spaces and twenty points out of qualifying for the B Division. In the Main tournament I fare better, failing to qualify for the B Division, but only by two points. Conceivably, another fifteen minutes to play might have got me at least into the B Division. Another half-hour and a couple breakthrough games and I might have launched into the bottom of A Division.

[profile] bunny_hugger had a worse time. She finished below me in Classics. In Main, she finished one point above me, tied for the last place in B Division. The tiebreaker game? FunHouse. This was one of the games mentioned repeatedly in the tournament's advertising, and was surely meant to lure us over. It's both our favorite games. It hasn't been treating her well today; she hasn't even broken ten million points. For a game set on tournament-level hard that's not awful, but it hadn't even got her into tenth place in qualifying. Still, it is the game she likes above all others. She ... puts up a lousy tiebreaker game, something like three million points. Her competition has two even worse balls, and there's some slender cause for hope. At least, I hope. She doesn't. She's justified in this. She watches him squeeze out a multiball and take the last slot in the finals.

We try not to act too heartbroken and maybe everybody distracted by being in finals is too distracted to notice. Among other things, there was an awesome thunderstorm rolling in, one that deserves its own entry because it got all kinds of crazypants. And we putter around a little, playing some of the games that aren't in the finals for either tournament. It's hard: while there are some games free, most are reserved. And they're tempting ones too, like Surf 'n Safari, a waterpark-themed game from Data East; or Spanish Eyes, with a compellingly bizarre backglass that apparently came from an art student happening to be carrying his portfolio near the Williams offices when a guy ``with a thin moustache'' and having a cigarette asked, ``Hey ... you an artist?''. Ah, the 70s.

After a while of consoling ourselves --- we ended up playing a round of Game of Thrones with someone who's apparently a regular at Flint contests and whom we didn't know --- and hearing that the (wedding?) MWS was at was running a little bit longer yet, we gave in for the night and went home. The Betrayal game we'd brought would end up unused after all.

Trivia: On the 25th of July, 1945, Jewish representatives from camps across Western Germany issued a proclamation demanding entry to Palestine. They did so from the Munich beer hall where Hitler staged his 1923 coup attempt. Source: Year Zero: A History of 1945, Ian Buruma.

Currently Reading: The Story Of Story Book Land, Tina Skinner.

Miracles can happen if you do

Jul. 24th, 2017 12:10 am
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[personal profile] austin_dern

My mathematics blog had what counts as a sleepy week, because I am getting ready for a new A To Z project (featuring art by [personal profile] thomaskdye, who's open for commissions) and I need to gather my strength for it. But freshly published there anyway the past week have been:

Also, you know what's going on in Alley Oop? Would you believe it still involves the mind-control ray gun? Now you do. With that content aggregated let's get back to Michigan's Adventure and closing day of last year.

SAM_6321.jpg

A barrel of fun at Michigan's Adventure's petting zoo!


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That llama posing for the cover to his acoustic album.


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Talks between [profile] bunny_hugger and a pen full of ducks and fluffy chickens continued into the night.


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Actually, [profile] bunny_hugger and the goat parted on good terms and would be happy to help each other with projects should some deserving cause present itself.


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Bunny sinking beneath the waves of bunniness in a pile of bunnies in bunny bunny bun rabbit bunny floof twitch nosewiggle.


Trivia: Joel Schumaker wrote the screenplay adapting The Wiz to the movies. Source: A Brief Guide To Oz: 75 Years Going Over The Rainbow, Paul Simpson.

Currently Reading: The Story Of Story Book Land Tina Skinner.

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[personal profile] austin_dern

Oh, darling, happy Casino Pier anniversary!


Another of June's events: Richfield Rollapalooza. This was a pinball tournament in a Flint bowling alley and thank you, let's take your crack as read. The event run by AND, was a rare-for-us payout tournament in which most-or-all of the entry fees would go back to the people who made finals. MWS, who lives near there, told us we'd do well to go: we'd almost surely qualify for finals and hey, there'd be an interesting selection of games. The latter was true. The former are famous last words. Indeed, MWS's first moment of frustration great enough to make him proclaim he was quitting pinball forever came after a tournament he went to on the promise that he'd surely qualify for one of the payouts.

We set out a little late. MWS had suggested we might visit his house and play Betrayal at the House on the Hill if we got out of the tournament early and he got back from the wedding(?) taking him away most of the day. We forgot it the first time we set out, and had to backtrack, losing maybe fifteen minutes of qualifying time. I argued we wouldn't need them anyway, because when has the last-minute qualifying game ever been that important? These, too, were famous last words. Note that I lost out of the Meijer State Games from fall of 2015 by one last-minute game.

As promised, though, it was some good banks of games. Half were 'Classics', electromechanical or solid-state tables. Half were 'modern', late solid-state games or modern dot-matrix-display era tables. We could qualify for either. The process: up until the appointed hour, play one of the tables. Submit your highest score. You get points for how many people your highest score beats. The sum over five (or whatever) of those determines your rank in classics or finals. Top 16 go to the A Division finals; next eight who aren't division-restricted go to the B Division finals. The division restriction is to keep some top player from slumming and taking an easy B Division win. The slight twist this time: they didn't have enough people and networked devices to have scorekeepers come over and verify your scores. You just took a picture of a score you wanted to enter and brought it to the table. So I have a partial log in photos of my progress for the day, as recorded in score tables. Oh, there'd also be a $25 prize awarded to whoever put in the highest score on a table, regardless of whether they made finals or not.

I stepped up to the Classics bank, my traditional relative strength, and put a quarter in to Bobby Orr's Power Play, a late 70s game I'd had some success with in a Flint tournament a few months back, and proceeded to put up a score so embarrassingly bad I didn't want it recorded. Not an auspicious start.

At the tournament was AJG, one of the state's best players and probably the number-one seed for the state championship for February 2018. He's a precision player. He plays a game of Party Zone that is so boring it is compelling. One repeatable shot on this game is to shoot up the left ramp, for an award that starts at 100,000 points and increases by 100,000 until ... I don't know that there is an upper limit. It restarts at 100,000 the next ball. The ball comes down another ramp on the left side and if you give the machine a tap at just the right spot the ball can bounce from the left flipper to the right, in position to shoot this up again. It's a safe payout, if you can make the shot reliably. Most people can't repeat a shot that many times, for lack of control or maybe just boredom. Not AJG. He keeps shooting it, again and again. He gets it to scoring over twenty million points per shot, and keeps on going. It's hypnotic. He comes out with a score of something like 930,000,000, against a field that mostly puts up something like 20 to 50 million points total. My best score was just over 20 million. [profile] bunny_hugger, having worked out secrets to the table, came in at 55 million. It was astounding.

Trivia: More than 12,000 children were tried for smuggling at the salt court in Laval in 1773. This includes only children caught with fifteen pounds or more of contraband salt. Source: The Discovery of France: A Historical Geography, Graham Robb.

Currently Reading: Prime Mover: A Natural History of Muscle, Steven Vogel.

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We'd take the final leg of the park, working our way back to front, to close out the night. This let us get back to some old favorite rides like Corkscrew, and also to discover the disappointing news that Iron Dragon had shut for the evening without us. We did get our ride on Cedar Downs, the quite fast carousel with the horses that move forward and back in their rows. That we rode in anticipation of future excitement, though. We had heard how Rye Playland, which runs their counterpart to this ride even faster than Cedar Point does, had finally got its front-and-back mechanism working after years of the mounts being locked in place. We weren't thinking wholly of what we'd do next, though. We were paying attention to what we were doing.

With the disappointment that we couldn't ride Iron Dragon we went off instead to Blue Streak, the remaining wooden roller coaster and Cedar Point's oldest roller coaster. Always a reliable old friend and ready for us to get a front-seat ride again. And delightful with its chaser lights going in the evening twilight, too.

Adjacent to Blue Streak is ValRavn, last year's new roller coaster and something we'd only gotten a couple rides on because the queues were too long for us. That evening, the queue was estimated at a half-hour and we figured that was the best offer we'd get for a long while. And it was a good offer. The wait wasn't even the promised half-hour. This might be because the ride operators were challenging the riders to get settled in their seats and locked in so they could dispatch in under a minute, and there's a monitor that shows who is locked in correctly and how long the train's been in the station. We failed once again to do whatever it took to get a front-seat ride, but we carried on courageously, riding that roller coaster in the evening and taking in great views of the illuminated park in the night.

We'd hoped to close out the night on the Midway Carousel, but something weird happened. They closed the queue, and before the official closing hour of 10:00. In the past Cedar Point has normally closed the queue at the park's closing time and let whoever was in line ride. It's a common amusement park operation scheme to close the queue early, in the hopes of getting the last riders done close to the park closing time, but this was never their practice. Has that changed? If so how will it mutate the closing hours of a park night? Or did maybe the ride operator just set her watch wrong and thought it was just past 10:00.

Anyway, this diverted us to the Sweet Shop instead, with the hope that we might get a couple pieces of fudge before that shop closed. And this time, hey, what do you know but we could? They have a bunch of varieties of fudge there, pricey but incredibly worth it. [profile] bunny_hugger carefully rationed it out and we were eating impossibly good pieces for a week to come. Long enough that we discovered our local hipster farmer's market, the one we use to get vegetables for our pet rabbit, has the same flavors. This is a world full of surprises.

We drove home, safe and sound, listening to podcasts and getting in around 3 am, in time to sleep to a decent hour the next day.

Trivia: Nickel was first extracted from a reddish-brown ore named kupfernickel, devil's copper (or, St Nicholas's copper); it was useful for nothing except coloring glass green. Source: Nature's Building Blocks: An A-Z Guide To The Elements, John Emsley.

Currently Reading: Prime Mover: A Natural History of Muscle, Steven Vogel.

I can haz vacation

Jul. 21st, 2017 10:43 am
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[personal profile] moxie_man
Off to lake side cabin tomorrow. No net access for a week.

Reminder: I've moved to DW and am cross-posting to LJ, which I might peak in on maybe once a week.

You've got to trust in summer

Jul. 21st, 2017 12:10 am
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[personal profile] austin_dern

What's there to show for another week of progress humor blogging and comic-strip explaining? The chance to tell you all about this:

Next, finally: my pictures from the closing day of Michigan Adventure's season last year, in early September, which is how far behind I'm running. Maybe I should pick up the pace some.

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Michigan Adventure's Mad Mouse roller coaster on a much more normal day, although at a pretty nice angle that makes it look as though it has a steep drop off the lift hill. (The ride is nearly horizontal at that point. The fun of a Mad Mouse ride is lots of sharp turns.)


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The front entrance of Michigan's Adventure as seen on its closing day for 2016. Cedar Point's front entrance got a major --- and fantastic --- renovation a few years ago when the GateKeeper roller coaster was put in, and we got to wondering if and when Michigan's Adventure would get a similar modification.


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And this is why an update to the entrance seemed likely: detail of the Snoopy figure on the Michigan's Adventure sign. That, must say, doesn't really look good. We somehow haven't been to the park yet this season so can't say if it's been replaced or repainted.


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And then to reinforce the thought of maybe new signs being a good idea: detail of the sign showing the same sort of wear and minor rust damage.


SAM_6320.jpg

The eternal frustration. Michigan's Adventure had put in a coffee stand, but we never saw it open all 2016. Peeking inside we could see the evidence of a stand maybe being in working order, but it was never a spot we could get coffee or any other hot drinks.


Trivia: When James A Pollack, of the Viking 1 imaging team, told a press conference on the 21st of July, 1976, that the Martian sky was pink and the wrongly-color-corrected images of the previous day were misleading, he got (friendly) boos and hisses. Source: On Mars: Exploration of the Red Planet 1958 - 1978, Edward Clinton Ezell, Linda Neuman Ezell. NASA SP-4212.

Currently Reading: Prime Mover: A Natural History of Muscle, Steven Vogel.

PS: Why Stuff Can Orbit, Part 12: How Fast Is An Orbit? and a scary bit of mathematics we dub approximations.

thewayne: (Default)
[personal profile] thewayne
Anyone who doesn't expect Trump facilities to NOT get hit more in coming years raise your hand. Bueller? Anyone? It's been documented that Trump's facilities have lousy IT practices and terrible WiFi security, but hotels are particularly problematic. American hotels seem to be stuck with using card swiping technology rather than ECV chip readers, which greatly increase security through strong encryption. Until they upgrade, we'll be seeing hotel breeches regularly.

https://krebsonsecurity.com/2017/07/trump-hotels-hit-by-3rd-card-breach-in-2-years/

They're All Over Planet Blue

Jul. 20th, 2017 12:51 am
frith: Light pink cartoon pony with dark pink mane (FIM Pinkie sly)
[personal profile] frith
The poneighs, that is. They're on your piano, reading your books.

Grainbee2017

In this town, bereft of any eye-catching architecture or sculpture, there is this one piano in front of the library. Outside, studded with books. Inspired! Take a picture! Pianos outdoors is a thing.

It's the Ponies Around the World event time again. I was going to take a few ponies to work, to pose with a dinosaur, but, I was le tired. Just as well, llama guy popped up just after lunch with 23 bales of hay. Hay yes! I packed my loft to the rafters. Then I went to town.

So there you have it, there are still My Little Pony fans in Canterda and at least one in Grainbee, Kickbuck. Notice, we speak Fancy in Kickbuck. Oh la la! C'est magnifique!

Po-neighs a Round the Whorled

Jul. 20th, 2017 12:38 am
frith: Bust of white pegacorn with flowing multi-colour mane and closed eyes (FIM Celestia stamp)
[personal profile] frith posting in [community profile] ponyville_trot
jewel_in_the_sky_ponies_around_the_world_by_fluttershyhiker
Source: Jewel in the Sky by ElementalFX AKA Fluttershyhiker.

What time is it? Ponies Around the World time. Adventr!

It's easy. Take picture of pony toy/drawing/shirt/whatever near something recognizable in your neighbourhood. (♪ ♫ A landmark is something in your neighborhood, in your neighborhood, in your neigh-bor-hood. Would. You be. My neighbor? ♫ ♬ ♩) Upload to a working online gallery (not Photobucket, ha ha ha ha, ha. humph). Snag the URL to a copy of your picture that is less than 2,000 pixels wide or high. If that's complicated, just resize it to less than 2,000 pixels on the longest side on your computer before uploading it to a gallery. Now go here and fill in the fields.

lyra_at_big_ben_london_by_cabraloca
Source: Lyra at Big Ben, London by Cabraloca.

First field: link to your image on the web, the URL has gotta end in .jpg, .png or .gif or it's no good.
Next field: link to the blog where you get all chatty about your picture. I just link to the gallery where my pictures are. I think you can leave this blank.
Next: Give your picture a name.
Next: "your name". Ha ha ha. Use an online name or make something up.
Email: Make something up but put an @ in it. I use Flickr.com as a domain. Works every time.
Next: Gallery. Right. I link to my Dreamwidth blog. Why not? I think you can leave this blank too.
Next: La description. Be descriptive. Tell us about the context or something. You gots a 1,000 character limit. It's better than Twitter.
And then, dance the Captcha-cha-cha, press submit, et voilà. Enfin terminé. Unless you want to do it again for four more pictures. You totally could. You have 24 hours left. Go go go!

Draw_Me_Like_One_Of_Your_French_Girls_by_adlynh
Source: Draw me like one of your french girls by Adlynh

All the pictures end up here. I know this because I'm older than dirt and I've seen stuff. Go take a look!
Look, I did it! What do I win? )
thewayne: (Default)
[personal profile] thewayne
It only took a week and over $750.

I don't think my dishwasher has ever been so fully loaded.

As previously posted, I discovered the water heater was leaking last week Thursday and shut it down. Unfortunately I had to go to Las Cruces for a meeting and couldn't do anything else. Friday I got a recommendation from our gas utility for a local plumber. Left a message on his voicemail requesting his services and went down to Alamogordo and bought an appropriately-sized water heater, both in gallon capacity (30, kinda small) and physical dimensions. I would've liked a larger one, but I was kind of constrained in size by its cabinet. Called the plumber and left another message informing him that I had acquired the water heater.

Saturday: no call. Sunday we went to the observatory to shower in the dorms, the dogs were taken on a bicycle adventure and much fun was had. Sunday night I did some digging for another plumber. Found one with one very good Yelp review. Looking at their web site, they had a letter posted thanking them for their services. While I didn't find any other references regarding them online, I found LOTS of negative reviews for pretty much every other plumber in the area. So Monday morning I gave them a call. I should have called them Saturday: they're working seven days a week because of demand and couldn't get to us until today.

Well, the guy finished about two hours ago. The water heater heats 36 gallons an hour, so I gave it an hour and took a shower: sheer bliss. After getting out, got the dishwasher started. Still have lots of dishes that need my attention, but it's a beginning.

Now to get on Yelp and other review sites and leave a very glowing review for them, and a very negative review for the plumber who has still not yet returned my call.
thewayne: (Default)
[personal profile] thewayne
Available on Archive.org. The first issue, dated February 1951, contains the Ray Bradbury story The Firemen, which he would later publish as the book Fahrenheit 451. These are available to read online or as free downloads in epub, Mobi and other formats. They're not formatted well, but they're perfectly readable. From the web site: "Galaxy Science Fiction was an American digest-size science fiction magazine, published from 1950 to 1980."

https://archive.org/details/galaxymagazine

50 questions about books

Jul. 19th, 2017 09:13 am
thewayne: (Default)
[personal profile] thewayne
Thanks (and thanks a lot!) to [personal profile] stardreamer ;-)

1. You currently own more than 20 books:
When I was in primary school.

2. You currently own more than 50 books:
Before I graduated high school.

3. You currently own more than 100 books:
What a ridiculous question. There have been years that I've bought more than 100 books, though not recently

4. You amassed so many books you switched to an e-reader:
I didn't switch to an e-reader because of having so many books, but because of being a computer guy and wanting to investigate new tech. Started with a Palm Pilot, went to an iPad, went through a couple of Nooks along the way. Never messed with a Kindle because of a dislike of Amazon's control over the Whispernet.

5. You read so much you have a ton of books AND an e-reader:
Definitely. And now buying a vast majority in ebook format vs dead tree editions. But that's mainly because we're likely to be leaving the country in a few years and I DO NOT want to be shipping a proverbial, if not literal, ton of books if I can get rid of them. I have so many books that I loved when I was young, and treasure having read them, but have absolutely no interest in reading again.

There's a saying/story/whatever, it could actually be a Zen koan, about a person with a huge and impressive library. Someone asks the person if they've read all of those books. The reply is "Of course!" Or the reply is "Of course not!" Though my collection falls in to both camps, I think I want to be in the latter.

6. You have a book-organization system no one else understands:
Not really.

7. You're currently reading more than one book:
I frequently have multiple books in process, though sometimes books get started and never finished. I think the record holder is Don Quixote, I really should download a Gutenberg copy and add it to my phone.

8. You read every single day:
Most certainly.

9. You're reading a book right now, as you’re taking this book nerd quiz:
Simultaneously? Not hardly.

10. Your essentials for leaving the house:
This is not a simple question. If I'm doing errands locally that do not involve a sit-down meal, it's just me and my cell phone and perhaps a camera or two. If it involves going to the observatory or down the mountain to Alamogordo or further but not a long-distance trip, then add in more camera equipment, my iPad (always loaded with books), and maybe a book and my traveling game collection. A long-distance trip requires further analysis before packing is determined.

11. You've pulled an all-nighter reading a book:
I suppose, but very rarely and when I was much younger.

12. You did not regret it for a second and would do it again:
I probably did not regret it but also probably would not do it again at my age.

13. You've figured out how to incorporate books into your workout:
Like Star Dreamer said, workout?

14. You've declined invitations to social activities in order to stay home and read:
No. It is very rare that I would decline an invitation to a social activity.

15. You view vacation time as "catch up on reading" time:
No. I will always take books with me while traveling, but vacation is to have fun and photograph. When we went to Germany/Czechoslovakia in '15 I had LOTS of ebooks on both my iPad and my Chrome laptop, plus many more loaded in my Dropbox account as I knew I'd have lots of airplane time. But aside from hotel room time, I didn't spend a lot of time reading -- too much to see!

16. You've sat in a bathtub full of tepid water with prune-y skin because you were engrossed in a book:
Nope. If I'm in a tub, I'm soaking because of either sore muscles or sick lungs. I prefer showers. How my wife is willing to risk reading fanfic on a laptop in the tub is beyond me.

17. You've missed your stop on the bus or the train because you were engrossed in a book:
No.

18. You've almost tripped over a pothole, sat on a bench with wet paint, walked into a telephone pole, or narrowly avoided other calamities because you were engrossed in a book:
No, and people who don't pay attention to what they're doing and commit such acts should be publicly ridiculed.

19. You've laughed out loud in public while reading a book:
Certainly.

20. You've cried in public while reading a book (it’s okay, we won’t tell):
I don't think so, but possibly.

21. You're the one everyone goes to for book recommendations:
I have given recommendations before. The mother of a friend was a grade school teacher, and a student asked for some science fiction recommendations. Friend came to me. I made up a list, funneled it back, and later received a thank you note from the student!

22. You take your role in recommending books very seriously and worry about what books your friends would enjoy:
If asked, yes, I would take it seriously.

23. Once you recommend a book to a friend, you keep bugging them about it:
I wouldn't bug them, but I would ask them.

24. If your friend doesn't like the book you recommended, you're heartbroken:
I wouldn't be heartbroken, but I would be curious and would like to know so as to make a better recommendation. To each their own.

25. And you judge them.
Not hardly.

26. In fact, whenever you and a friend disagree about a book you secretly wonder what is wrong with them:
Not hardly.

27. You've vowed to convert a non-reader into a reader:
One year for my brother's birthday, I bought him a $25 book store gift card. He was heavily in to air brush and showed some talent. I thought he could get some magazines or a book on technique and learn some things. He doesn't read. He can read, he chooses not to. It went unused for ages, my mom finally gave it back to me and I got myself something. There's a line attributed to Mark Twain: The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.

28. And you've succeeded:
N/A.

29. You've attended book readings, launches, and signings: Yes.
Yep. Hillary Clinton, Walter Cronkite, Leslie Nielson, Sir Terry Pratchett, to name a few.

30. You own several signed books:
Yep. Hillary Clinton, Walter Cronkite, Leslie Nielson, Sir Terry Pratchett, to name a few.

31. You would recognize your favorite authors on the street:
Some of them. Some I would hope not to as they are deceased.

32. In fact, you have:
Nope.

33. If you could have dinner with anybody in the world, you'd choose your favorite writer:
Probably not.

34. You own a first-edition book:
Many.

35. You know what that is and why it matters to bibliophiles:
Yes.

36. You tweet, post, blog, or talk about books every day:
No. I talk about them often with my wife, but I wouldn't say daily.

37. You have a "favorite" literary prize:
No. I respect several, but I wouldn't call any a favorite.

38. And you read the winners of that prize every year:
Not really.

39. You've recorded every book you've ever read and what you thought of it:
I've started getting more consistent at doing that.

40. You have a designated reading nook in your home:
No. I wish I did, but I do not.

41. You have a literary-themed T-shirt, bag, tattoo, or item of home décor:
I have a few t-shirts. My favorite item is two USB flash drives that look like library card catalog drawers from the Unshelved Kickstarter drive.

42. You gave your pet a literary name:
Heh. Yeah, I'd say Dante is a literary name.

43. You make literary references and puns nobody else understands:
Oh, most certainly. And my wife has become a bit of a punner.

44. You're a stickler for spelling and grammar, even when you're just texting:
I do my best. My grammar is not perfect, but I do my best with spelling. Having a browser underline spelling errors certainly helps.

45. You've given books as gifts for every occasion:
For many occasions, yes. Every? No.

46. Whenever someone asks what your favorite book is, your brain goes into overdrive and you can't choose just one.
No. Too many different categories that have great books. Plus, tastes change. I loved Douglas Adams 30 years ago, now I view him as a one-trick pony who could have been so much more.

47. You love the smell of books:
Well, sorta. But not enough to prevent me from dumping most of my physical collection to clear space.

48. You've binge-read an entire series or an author's whole oeuvre in just a few days:
Definitely. But only for smaller series, say less than a dozen books. If I can't easily carry the entire series without a box, forget it. I've binged the Vorkosigan series, and very recently Elizabeth Moon's Vatta series in preparation for her (now released) new book.

49. You've actually felt your heart rate go up while reading an incredible book:
Certainly.

50. When you turn the last page of a good book, you feel as if you've finally come up for air and returned from a great adventure:
There have been books that I've read that were that good.

So I booked my seat

Jul. 20th, 2017 12:10 am
austin_dern: Inspired by Krazy Kat, of kourse. (Default)
[personal profile] austin_dern

Cedar Point, like Michigan's Adventure, has a petting zoo. It's larger than the Michigan cousin, understandably, as Cedar Point's quite larger than Michigan's Adventure is. They're provided for by the same animal caretakers, though, and so there were some similarities in the animals there. The Cedar Point zoo is part of the Frontier Trail and purports itself to show something about what the farms of historic northwestern Ohio farming families might have had. It's the sort of light-educational self-promotion that amusement parks have always liked to use and it's a fine idea as long as you don't ask how many mid-19th century Ohio family farms kept emus. But this sort of touch of life is reliably nice, and you can't argue that goats and sheep and chickens and rabbits aren't credible farm animals, even if you can wonder about the particular breeds. The rabbit pen had a couple bunnies who'd worked out where they could flop out so they were near the bottles of cold water (it had been a hot day before the rains came) and be just out of reach for most of the smaller kids. Also where they could pile on each other.

We stopped in at the glasswares shop, and joined the audience for one of the glass-blowing demonstrations just as it started. They were making a glass goldfish, which is one of those things neat to see and done in exactly the right spot that all 90 pictures I took of it are obscured by a column. So it goes. We did also learn that the fearsomely expensive, elaborate glass sea serpent, with multiple arcs of back emerging from the glassy 'water' surface, was still on sale but was now locked in a display case where some well-meaning idiot like me couldn't accidentally break it. No; if we break it, it'll be with deliberate effort now.

As we got farther in back of the park we poked into the other arcade, a small untended one. We knew there wouldn't be pinball there, but what would it hurt to check? There wasn't pinball there, but we did see a redemption-ticket counting machine flashing on its LED screen the mysterious and alarming message, 'tEror'. So, you know, we have that going for us.

The back of the park gave us the chance to see how close we might get to the former Mean Streak, and to see what if anything we could work out about what it's being turned into. Cedar Point still hasn't announced what Vicious Streak will be, although right around our visit they did drop a teaser ad that made an ambiguous suggestion that it might be something plural. This is baffling, but there is probably enough support length in Mean Streak to produce two steel-tracked roller coasters. Converted roller coasters don't tend to be as long as the original wooden ones for reasons that [profile] bunny_hugger knows and I don't.

Anyway there wasn't much specific that could be made out from the accessible areas. We could see what looked like spiral twists added to the taller hills. It's conceivable that some of this might even be a full helix, turning the ride over, but it's so hard to tell what a thin track at that distance is doing, especially with all the visual noise of the wooden supports in the way. I did spot that the ride photo booth still has the Mean Streak logo on it, which probably reflects the ride photo booth somehow not being a top priority for the reconstruction work.

When we had explored this, and gotten a ride on Maverick --- still a top-draw roller coaster, and with a reasonable queue thanks surely to the rain --- we had the choice to walk back the way we'd come or to complete the loop around the point. I chose the loop around the point and this is why we were too late to ride Iron Dragon.

It did let us get on Gemini, though, and the racing coaster's always good fun. We also hoped to get on the blue train, the rarer of the rides lately, but we got there just as they were taking the train out of service. Because for some reason they'd rather run two trains on a single track instead of a single train on two tracks of the racing coaster. It cuts the number of ride operators needed, but is otherwise a dumb choice, especially for light-crowd days. It did mean we got to ``race'' an empty Blue train, a fun novelty that raises the question of why in previous Halloweekend nights we've been stopped just before the station, waiting for enough people to get on the other train because they couldn't send that out empty?

But this let us continue in a nice little arc, in the back of Cedar Point, to the Monster ride where once again we failed to get a really good spin going. We also got to ride Magnum XL-200, right up front because I forgot what that can do to your knees. This gave us the chance to see the big renovation done to the hotel gate, the entrance we use second-most, and changed beyond recognition by the park's ongoing rebuilding of the water park and building of a new tower for the Hotel Breakers where they'd torn down a tower of the Hotel Breakers like two years ago. We had guessed rightly that this entrance would be renovated in our final visit to the park last year. It looks sharp, as anyone would have expected. It also obliterated Magnum's old ride photo station. The replacement's all right, but lacks the obvious period-dating of the new station.

Still, it does mean that now three of Cedar Point's four entrances are 2010s-era Art Deco Revival style, with roller coasters that arch above them. This would raise questions about what they're going to do with the last entrance, the Oceana Gate, last renovated ... sometime after 1870 and quite possibly remembered to exist at some point. I haven't got any ideas. We've never used the gate ourselves.

Trivia: After landing on the Moon, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin needed about an hour and a half of reconfiguring switches and setting systems so that in case of emergency the Lunar Module could manage a quick, orderly takeoff from the surface. Source: Where No Man Has Gone Before: A History of NASA's Lunar Explorations, William David Compton. NASA SP-4214

Currently Reading: Prime Mover: A Natural History of Muscle, Steven Vogel.

thewayne: (Default)
[personal profile] thewayne
You should take a look at your profile here. I was doing a little bit of editing on mine, and I noticed that my Interests did not come over! My LJ account is still active, so it was easy to copy, it annoyed me a bit nonetheless.

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