I know it is the nature of things

Oct. 21st, 2017 11:31 pm
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[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
But I am a little surprised there don't seem to be ebooks of the Pliocene Saga. Or a North American edition younger than about twenty years.
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[personal profile] austin_dern

After the bookstore we wandered around for the other scenes in town. A couple of art galleries --- the peninsula is thick with art galleries --- and antique shops. Also the curious shuttered and abandoned building named The Pier Group Shops, according to a sign that looks like it was abandoned in place in 1982. It turns out the place was abandoned in place in 1982, the result of some impossible-to-follow argument among people with money in the thing. The building's shockingly dilapidated considering how much tourist money there is in town, and even the sign is growing so shabby as to be almost too affected. The 'E' in ``Pier Group'', for example, had two of its nails rust through, and so it dangles, almost upside-down, from the last, below the line of the text. Plans to do something with the property are allegedly under way, according to what is clearly not the same local news article that's run every sixteen months since 1983.

We went to the ice cream shop next to the water wheel restaurant. [profile] bunny_hugger had been in there way back in the day, before it was closed to all but private functions. We sat on the open porch and drinking coffee and tea and watching the small river and the wheel. It turns out the wheel was always an affectation, and never did any milling or other work. I seem to remember there also being some story about the wheel being built without construction permits, but that's been forgiven because now it's been around a long while and people take pictures of it and stuff. I may have the details wrong. It's in too damaged a shape to turn, which somehow puts it in that weird class of things that improve the look of the area by looking like ruins.

North of town is a mill pond and we went up there to look for wildlife, particularly fish. When we'd been there before we would look into the still water and consider how we didn't see any fish, and then we blinked and suddenly we saw them all. This time, despite being open to it, we never did see fish. Maybe we were too early in their life cycle; the 2013 visit was in early August, after all. We didn't see any fish to speak of. Just the occasional --- splash!

And then we did see something. A good-sized mammal, puttering its way across the pond. Then another going back the other way. We were too far away to get a good look at it, but I did my best to take photos and a movie and that ... doesn't quite clear up what we saw. A beaver seems like the obvious guess. Possibly an otter, although its head seems a bit stocky for that. Something that's able to dive under and stay a good while and will vanish into shore-side wood-lined burrows anyway.

After this crossing we waited a good long while hoping to see a return from these creatures. They never came back, and eventually we walked back to the main areas of town, along the way spotting a red squirrel with some harsh words for us.

Though we had been to the beach at Omena and at Suttons Bay we hadn't done much beach-walking this trip. And [profile] bunny_hugger wanted to find a fossil. So we went to the marina and wandered around the sand there, at least once a flotilla of geese finished their march through the lawn, beach, and water. While [profile] bunny_hugger looked I tromped along this wedge of grass that was on the verge of caving in to the waters beneath. (It would be a drop of like two feet, but you could photograph it to look dramatic.) She would have a magnificent find: a Petoskey stone. These are fossilized coral, named for the town of Petoskey in northern Michigan where they came to public attention, and who knew you could just grab one like that? She's got an eye for fossils that I just haven't.

We were going to meet [profile] bunny_hugger's father and brother for dinner. Her mother still wasn't up for going out anywhere. We got back to the house to find that they had gone already, to the restaurant, in Northport, where we had just come from. I concede we could have better organized this. The restaurant was the one that had the dog prints in the cement out front, which it turns out is just part of the chain's gimmick. The place has some decent 10-to-20-dollar dinners ([profile] bunny_hugger's father was particularly taken by the au jus sandwich, and insisted on going back the next day, when he did not get the au jus). And it has an arcade. It's not as frenetic a blend of restaurant and arcade as, say, a Dave and Busters, but it does give kids something to do besides trying to sit still and read the menu.

Among the things it gives: pinball. They had a Junkyard, a late-90s Williams table that's familiar enough from home, but still a pretty reliable game to play. We gave [profile] bunny_hugger's brother the quick explanation of what to shoot for (it's the wrecking-ball crane in the back of the playfield) and had a three-player game in which he beat [profile] bunny_hugger. We took another round and this time he beat me.

Still, it's an appealing combination of things. They also had a two- or three-lane bowling alley, bringing to us thoughts of how we like bowling, although not enough to actually bowl.

Back home we'd continue our progress through Mice and Mystics and after a couple handily successful rounds we started to believe we just might finish the last chapter while on this vacation, with [profile] bunny_hugger's brother composing the whole story about how the archer-mouse Lily would become the ultimate hero. It didn't happen that Thursday, but we'd have two more days to try.

Trivia: After the defeat of Western Union's Americal Speaking Telephone Company in patent suits in 1879, stock in the Bell Telephone Company rose from $50 a share to nearly $1,000. Source: Destiny of the Republic: A Tale Of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of a President, Candice Millard.

Currently Reading: The Greek War of Independence: Its Historical Setting, C M Woodhouse.

PS: OK, but what does Bronner's have in raccoons and guinea pigs? More than just this.


Animatronic raccoon drummer. This critter would keep swaying back and forth and hitting the marshmallow drums and if it doesn't make perfect sense what he's doing, so what?


A flock of guinea pig ornaments. More guinea pig ornaments than I imagined to exist, although they missed the Abyssinian breed, the one with the complicated sworls of fur that look all crazy. The guinea pigs shared space with hedgehogs.


Hiking and log cabin ornaments! And I know you're thinking to joke about that clearly being a German-made hiking raccoon, but we know better. Would he only have the one walking-stick if he were German? Yeah.

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[personal profile] rfmcdonald

  • Bloomberg notes that the people and businesses leaving London for the EU-27 will enjoy lower rents.

  • DW reports on potential British interest in joining NAFTA, if Brexit talks with the EU collapse entirely.

  • The remarkable Bombardier deal with Airbus may yet save the Canadian company from American tariffs. Global News reports.

  • Global News takes a look at the provinces and economic sectors in Canada to be hit hardest by the end of NAFTA.

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[personal profile] rfmcdonald

  • The area of Humber River Bay may yet be radically transformed by the development of the vast Christie's site. The Globe and Mail reports.

  • Torontoist notes how the City of Toronto is starting to let apartment dwellers know if they might die in a disastrous fire like Grenfell.

  • Wired reports on the vast Google plan to make not just Quayside but the entire waterfront a high-tech prototype.

  • TVO's John Michael McGrath argues that the city does not need Google to design good neighbourhoods.

  • Apparently many people are escaping the Toronto affordable housing crisis by moving into vans. The Toronto Star reports.

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[personal profile] rfmcdonald

  • Catrine Jarman notes how Easter Island's history has been badly misread. The island was sustainably run, after all.

  • Dead Things notes how DNA studies of ancient Rapa Nui suggest there was no South American immigration. No contact?

  • Will the new airport at St. Helena open up new potential for tourism for the South Atlantic island? Global News reports.

  • Iceland is enthusiastically trying to restore its ancient forests, downed by Vikings, so far with not much success. The New York Times reports.

  • Ottawa has been urged to give farm workers from Dominica, ravaged by hurricanes, extended work permits. The Toronto Star reports.

  • The island of Vieques, already hit by American military testing, has been prostrated by Maria. VICE reports.

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[personal profile] rfmcdonald

  • CBC shares the story of Maxim Lapunov, a surviving victim of Chechnya's gay pogroms who escaped to Canada.

  • Kristi Penderi writes about his LGBT activism in Albania made a difference, even though he had to eventually leave.

  • Jessie Randall writes about her struggles to become an aspiring young mother as a coupled lesbian.

  • Naveen Kumar at VICE shares stories of gay men who donated sperm to lesbians and helped create new families.

[BLOG] Some Saturday links

Oct. 21st, 2017 11:16 am
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[personal profile] rfmcdonald

  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait looks at enormous, explosive Wolf-Rayet stars, and at WR 124 in particular.
  • The Big Picture shares heart-rending photos of Rohingya refugees fleeing Burma.

  • Centauri Dreams considers the potential of near-future robotic asteroid mining.

  • D-Brief notes the discovery of vast cave systems on the Moon, potential homes for settlers.

  • Hornet Stories exposes young children to Madonna's hit songs and videos of the 1980s. She still has it.

  • Inkfish notes that a beluga raised in captivity among dolphins has picked up elements of their speech.

  • Language Hat notes a dubious claim that a stelae containing Luwian hieroglyphic script, from ancient Anatolia, has been translated.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money considers the question of preserving brutalist buildings.

  • The LRB Blog considers how Brexit, intended to enhance British sovereignty and power, will weaken both.

  • The Map Room Blog notes that the moons and planets of the solar system have been added to Google Maps.

  • The NYR Daily considers how the Burmese government is carefully creating a case for Rohingya genocide.

  • The Power and Money's Noel Maurer concludes, regretfully, that the market for suborbital travel is just not there.

  • Visiting a shrimp festival in Louisiana, Roads and Kingdoms considers how the fisheries work with the oil industry (or not).

  • Towleroad reports on the apparent abduction in Chechnya of singer Zelimkhan Bakayev, part of the anti-gay pogrom there.

  • Window on Eurasia notes that rebuilding Kaliningrad as a Russian military outpost will be expensive.

[CAT] Shakespeare, also awake in bed

Oct. 21st, 2017 09:15 am
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[personal profile] rfmcdonald
Shakespeare, also awake in bed #toronto #dovercourtvillage #shakespeare #cats #caturday #catsofinstagram

Shakespeare was not sleeping early this morning either.


Oct. 21st, 2017 10:42 am
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[personal profile] kjn
Another quick new Swedish filk, but one that isn't only an instafilk. It's based on Främling (YouTube), the #1 Swedish hit during the 80's. The LP sold more than one million copies, and is still the best-selling album ever in Sweden. As comparison, for platinum a record needs to sell 40,000 copies here.

Alien, hur kommer du till mig… )
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[personal profile] austin_dern

We had spent much of the week in a very relaxed and almost drifting fashion: rising late in the day, maybe going to the nearest towns, and not really trying to get anything much in. This was great, must say, as a vacation. But it did mean we were missing some chances to properly tour. Thursday we went out in the early afternoon to Northport, there to walk around and poke into the shops and see many old familiar sights.

For example, the old rock shop, built in this log cabin on the corner of the two major streets --- right across the road from the Tom's supermarket where we'd gotten our foodstuffs --- and there from the dawn of time until ... the end of last summer, it turned out. The owners had retired or something like that, and transferred the rock shop's remaining stock to their son's in (Other place I will never ever remember; maybe Empire). Had we gotten there a week before we'd have just seen a shuttered shop. But now it was the first week of operation for a place called Porcupine, selling ... well, not rocks. But souvenirs and stuff and travel bags and I see in my pictures a box in the window labelled ``FOUND MY ANIMAL'' and they have no idea. We emerged from our speechlessness enough to wish the new shopkeeper well with the venture, and to learn that it wasn't just a building that looked like an old wooden cabin. It really was an old wooden cabin built sometime in the 30s and apparently untouched by modern innovations like insulated walls. Must be a heck of a place in the winter. But it did much to explain the appearance of the place, if it was built by a guy who had some tools, some trees, and a determination to make a thing that was at least some shelter against the elements. So we came away seeing the building anew, but still ... well, I'd only been to the rock shop twice but who would've imagined that was all the visits I'd get in?

Other sights in town: a shop in a dark grey-painted building named ``uniquities'' and explained as ``Luxurious Necessities'' that we didn't even try going into. The Garage Bar and Grill, a bunch of picnic tables outside the open bay of a onetime garage, now serving pulled-pork burritos and the like. A restaurant that delighted us because the cement sidewalk leading up to it had dog prints trailing in. We would later learn that's part of the small chain's gimmick. The antiques shop filled with stuff like old campaign buttons (some apparently vintage, some definitely remakes of earlier campaign stuff), or tiny dollhouse model stoves carved out of metal and feeling substantial enough to be used as blunt-force instruments should the need arise and yet so perfectly detailed you could believe in mouse-people using the things.

And the used book store. We hadn't gone into it the previous year as the shopkeeper was just leaving to take someone to a medical appointment. This year, no such problem. We could putter around and oh they have a dog. A big dog torn between being friendly and flopping out asleep, like us. A delight: [profile] bunny_hugger found a copy of Wild Animus on the shelves. This maybe means nothing to you. Wild Animus is this guy's self-published memoir about finding his inner sheep. (Well, ram.) He printed up like 18 kajillion copies and hired college students to give it to everybody at the Phish concert who didn't swat them off first. The Internet is littered with stories about the weird ways they got this weird book. The bad-books podcast I Don't Even Own A Television overcame their bias against self-published books for this one, because the urgency with which the guy wanted the world to know about his inner sheep was too compelling. (It's a worthwhile podcast to listen to, this episode particularly.) And now, here, was an example found on the shelves. [profile] bunny_hugger took a picture to share with the I Don't Even Own A Television Facebook group, as is the custom.

We didn't buy it. I did buy a loosely respectable book about the golden age of Greenwich Village. And also Binary Fusion, an endearingly daft story of the Y2K bug and how it would be overcome by cold fusion-powered spherical microchips whose thereby infinite computing capacity would allow them to overcome the Y2K bug and all human strife by perfecting the DNA in an alien-assisted Shroud-of-Turin-cloned hermaphroditic Jesus Christ, but would stop short of an awareness that ``it's'' is not always the correct pronoun to use. I'd send that over to I Don't Even Own A Television but this was, it turns out, a self-published book and while they will make exceptions for self-published stuff with a crazy enough story behind it, I don't think merely having a cover blurb from someone else in the author's family and a web site despite the book being published in 1998 is enough. Although if the web site is still up maybe they'd make an exception because in-between the boring parts is some magnificent goofiness, as you see. Like the time the worldwide network of Oprah fans makes her show taping --- not a final, air-ready episode --- appear simultaneously on every TV set on every TV station in the world. If nothing else had happened the day would have been made.

Trivia: Hiram Maxim's experimental flying machine of 1894 reached 107 feet from wingtip to wingtip, carried two 180-horsepower steam engines (one for each of the 18-foot propellers), carrying capacity for three men, and weighed four tons. In its first test flight it got to the end of the launching guiderail before Maxim cut the engines, let it fall to the ground, and applied for a (United States) patent. Source: To Conquer the Air: The Wright Brothers and the Great Race for Flight, James Tobin.

Currently Reading: The Greek War of Independence: Its Historical Setting, C M Woodhouse.

PS: Next on the agenda? Christmas! Or at least our early-November-last-year visit to Bronner's Christmas Wonderland, one of the most overwhelming things you can hope to do and that I sincerely hope you get the chance to experience sometime. Why? Watch the following Like Thirty pictures and know that I could easily double this count without repeating myself.


The official designated Meeting Point at Bronner's Christmas Wonderland in Frankenmuth, Michigan, looking up. Yes, the meeting point sign offers words of welcome in dozens of languages so if you had any doubts whatsoever about what the place was like, other than the size, you now have them all answered.


[profile] bunny_hugger studying the store directory near the entrance to Bronner's Christmas Wonderland. It's the size of a flea market at minimum and yes, the map would turn out to be repeatedly useful.


[profile] bunny_hugger considering a few of the options in the Peacock ornaments section. And if you wondered how many Christmas ornaments there could possibly be that were just peacock-themed please consider: I've only got about half the rack in-frame there.

PPS: A Summer 2017 Mathematics A To Z Appendix: Are Colbert Numbers A Thing? I mean, they are a thing, I just want to know who they're named after. It was Stephen T Colbert, but can you believe that?

Today's ambiguity

Oct. 19th, 2017 10:47 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
"Resent" is both how one might feel about being told an email never arrived and also what one might do in response.


Oct. 19th, 2017 10:47 pm
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[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
The month was only half over last weekend. How can it be almost three quarters over only a week later?

So get a witch's shawl on

Oct. 20th, 2017 12:10 am
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[personal profile] austin_dern

Managed to go another week without running out of stuff for my humor blog, which you could follow on your Reading page or by whatever RSS reader you have hanging about. Or if you wait for my summaries of these things, here's a summary of these thigns:

Now we're through Cedar Point Halloweekends. How about some pictures of our local hipster bar at their Halloween party last year? I'm sorry the photos are a bit rubbish; I didn't think to bring my real camera and so just have my iPod Touch which is a better camera than nothing at all, but isn't a real camera.


View from the balcony down at the bar and some of the costumed people. I'm not sure who's the guy going in the flag dead-center there but I trust it's a reference to some popular cartoon I don't know anything about.


So it was not just a Halloween party but a Halloween karaoke party and here's Mario doing ... I don't know what, but I'm going ahead and guessing the ``Monster Mash'' because who can't sing that, no matter how much they try not to, all the time?


Again, I apologize for the rubbish lighting but here we see some poor lizard's shed his tail, possibly to escape karaoke night. I'm not doing much better parsing that costume at the bottom center; I think it's someone with an oversized squirrel face mask.


The lovely [profile] bunny_hugger in her peacock kigurumi and hand-made mask, playing a game of Theatre of Magic --- the most Halloween-themed game at the place then, if you forget as I did that they have The Walking Dead and The Addams Family (and have since gotten Ghostbusters) --- and not able to believe the first ball she just had.


Another balcony shot with a good view of some of the costumers and also some weird effect from the stage lights that I think really works. If I could do that on purpose I totally would.


And not at Halloween, but still taken by iPod rather than something with a real camera: an inflatable dragon that was set up just about every day in back of the building that housed, last year, the city's Clinton campaign headquarters. I would've voted for her in any case but to have the support of the inflatable dragon community left me secure in my choice, which was the correct one.

Trivia: Horatio Alger focused on writing after being kicked out of a Massachusetts church (he was a Unitarian pastor) for allegations of sexual misconduct with local boys. Source: Know-It-All, A J Jacobs.

Currently Reading: The Greek War of Independence: Its Historical Setting, C M Woodhouse. The book's from 1952 so there's some let's-call-it-antiquated talk about the inherent traits of races, but what Woodhouse is talking about is, like, a supposed Greek talent at getting into high administrative positions in the government, or how excellent the Greeks are at having words for things. As talk about The Races go is just unsettling, not awful.

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[personal profile] kate_nepveu
Last night, I bolted out of a dead sleep at a little after 11 because the landline was ringing. I run downstairs, but let it go to the answering machine, which is basically a reflex at this point. No message.

I then look at my phone, because grabbing that when I wake up in the middle of the night is absolutely a reflex (though the Pip sleeps much, much better these days!) . . . and it was me. The cell had someone dialed the landline. [*]

I post this story elsewhere, and literally seconds later, I get the punchline )

[*] On reflection, it wasn't that late, so I think I fell asleep with the phone still on in my hand and touched it enough to keep the screen awake, until eventually I randomly dialed home. I checked, I hadn't made any other outgoing calls, at least.
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[personal profile] austin_dern

It should not surprise you to know that Wednesday started slow and late with a late-morning rising and a lot of time eating breakfast gradually and watching Columbo investigate the porch and the lawn. He was starting to appreciate the lawn's offer of things to eat, and I think it's done good things for him. He's been a bit more open-minded about eating things since then; at least, he's taken less time to try out novelties and has even done stuff like sniff into [profile] bunny_hugger's coffee cup. He wouldn't take any coffee, but he was much more open to the possibility than he had been before the trip north.

We went back to Sutton's Bay for the day. We had a good several hours on the beach the day before, but we hadn't really been in town, poking around the shops or anything like that. The most photogenic and spectacular of the places is I don't know the name of. But it's the garden shop with so many statues outside, including a row of stones carved into owls all staring ... out ... at people walking up to the place. And glass beads and a little artificial river with waterfalls and goldfish of the kind we'd have if we made a fortune and put it into expanding our yard. It's no less packed inside, although I have fewer photographs of that because I noticed the sign asking people not to take pictures. Which is disappointing because their wall of clocks alone deserves Internet immortalization. Some are simple cuckoo clocks; some are complicated clocks. Lighthouses, mermaids, bunnies, owls, everything you can imagine in there somewhere. Figures too, elaborate carved sculptures to match one we'd gotten a couple years ago, that of a piece of wood carved to look like a rabbit and painted as a carrot. Imagine a line of these, animal-food items. And now you know just what the shop is like.

We visited a number of other stores, mostly poking in, sometimes picking up a thing or two. Among the curiosities were a couple of fairy doors (not just an Ann Arbor thing anymore, apparently), and a shop with a book honoring Traverse Colantha Walker. She was a milk cow, serving the Northern Michigan Asylum near Traverse City. Over her lifetime she produced something like 200,114 pounds of milk and 7,525 pounds of butterfat and, apparently, she's buried somewhere on the grounds of the former asylum. She was, it transpires, a championship cow of the kind that that doesn't happen anymore, now that milk production has become big and bloodthirsty business.

The science/nature store and the educational toys and games store attached to it were a must-visit again. In the games shop was a guy who let's just go ahead and call ``Gamer Me'' enthusiastic about the way we were looking over the boxes of big board games and kits and happy to talk them up to us. Over in the science store the astronomy guy, a former professor at The Local College, was passing out --- once again --- his information sheets about what was in the sky and was delighted that [profile] bunny_hugger referred to the Big Dipper as an asterism rather than a constellation. They've had that conversation too, in the context of his showing off charts that depict how the Chippewa divided the sky. (I think they also have a warrior figure based around Orion, a neat point of coincidence.) He was also, I believe, once more delighted that we wouldn't speak of the ``dark side'' of the Moon.

We jested about whether the Science Guy and the Gamer Me Guy got along. My joke: they can't stand each other, because they're too similar personality types. There's not the slightest reason to believe that's true, but it's convenient to.

We got some ice cream and went to the water wheel park to eat it. That's the park just west of the main drag of town with exactly what it sounds like in it, a small, decorative water wheel at the end of a creek. It's also the park with that weird public art sculpture that looks like a blocky, UPA-cartoon robot. It's the creek where, on our 2013 visit, we saw a fish in the creek. Our question then, as now: how did a fish get into this tiny creek a couple inches wide? I started to follow the creek, looking for its source.

Well, it went up to the edge of the park, there to disappear into a corrugated-steel pipe. Taking my best guess to the pipe's direction I kept walking across the street and eventually found where it came from, a gulley running parallel to the street and underneath some people's driveways. It eventually broadened out into a long, skinny pool by the side of another T-intersection in the street that couldn't be the source. Following the faint trace of water motion I went across the street again, and found a short stream and the vast, slightly waving movement of a pond covered in forested plantlife. If that's not the source of the creek it's at least a major resting spot for it.

And what is this creek that winds through the Water Wheel Park? As best we can determine, it hasn't got one. Not even ``Water Wheel Park Creek'' or something. This seems like a geographic anomaly.

I think this was the day we stopped on the way back at the Hansen's supermarket to pick up supplies and dinner. It was the one the homeowner recommended as the place to pick up everything we might need. They had a complementary coffee bar, nothing like what they have at the Horrock's in Lansing; I learned later that [profile] bunny_hugger passed on it because she didn't notice the thermoses there.

We again played Mice and Mystics and I think we won at least one chapter handily, beating it in record time, to [profile] bunny_hugger's brother's delight. He was really getting into playing the mouse-archer Lily, and building a slightly epic story of how she was coming around to be the arch-hero of our little party. It's a shame that most of the Mice and Mystics chapters are explicitly four-character games, and also a shame that we'd only have these intermittent chances to play with him.

Trivia: By 1740 the typical English East India Company ship would be 490 tons. Were the ship 500 tons or more in capacity it would have had to include a chaplain. Source: The Honourable Company: A History of the English East India Company, John Keay.

Currently Reading: The Greek War of Independence: Its Historical Setting, C M Woodhouse. So it opens with ``One of the by-products of a good secondary education in England is the delusion that Greek history comes to a full stop at about the death of Alexander the Great.'' Good start!

PS: some last wandering around Cedar Point's Halloweekends last year.


Butterfly-woman detail on Cedar Point's Midway Carousel. The Daniel Muller Butterfly Lady at the Merry-Go-Round Museum is a replica of this, or at least one of its partners around the carousel.


Mean Streak's headstone at the rides graveyard. Mean Streak had an overblown reputation for being a rough ride. Cedar Point regulars don't know what a truly rough ride is.


Front gate of Cedar Point, after the park had closed, with the October cloudscape above it. How many people are taking pictures of the park's entrance gate, and how many are taking selfies of themselves outside the gate? Answer: all of them. Not depicted: the Tyrannosaurus Rex statue with sunglasses on, which is a shame.

PPS: Reading the Comics, October 14, 2017: Physics Equations Edition, some more comic strips with mathematics stuff.

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