Friday, September 28, 2007

Why do we say, “Dinner is ready!” but say, “The meal is ready”? Why is there a “the” in front of “meal” but not “breakfast,” “lunch,” or “dinner”? We also say “The snack is prepared,” not “Snack is prepared.” I’ll have to think about this a bit. I’m guess it’s related to our reasons for saying “at the seventh hour” as opposed to “at seventh hour.”

We ate the breakfast at seventh hour.
We ate meal at the seven o’clock.

“The” seems to be a place-holder for something more titular. I don’t know. I know how to use it, but I don’t know how I’d explain it if I were teaching a class on non-English speakers. I’m sure there are explanations, and I’ll have to poke around.

Monday, September 24, 2007

King's Island

My brother Kevin and I went to King’s Island on Saturday. It was the first time either of us had been in more than ten years. Here is a review.

General review
We had free tickets, a free buffet lunch, and a five-dollar vouchers that could be spent anywhere in the park, so money wasn’t a factor for us. With normal adult admission somewhere in the vicinity of $45, and food prices very high (2 slices of pizza for $5.95, a bottle of Desani water for $3.65), I wouldn’t normally consider going. If, however, I had $150-$200 to spend on a one-day getaway for a family of four, I’d certainly consider it. The park was well-kept and clean, and attendants were plentiful. I had a lot of fun.

Some Specifics
King’s Island opened in 1972, and the general layout hasn’t changed. I was pleased to see many of the same features I recall from my first visit in the mid-Seventies, such as the massive topiary clock near the Eiffel Tower, and the huge row of fountains along International Street.

The parking lot, sadly, is no longer divided into Hanna-Barbera character-named sections. One can no longer park in Boo-Boo Row 20, or Quickdraw Row 41. We parked in Face/Off Row 42. I assumed that the sections are named after Paramount movies, since until last year Paramount owned the park. It just occurred to me, though, that the sections could be named after park attractions, and Face/Off is the name of one of the rollercoasters.

Kevin and I both noticed that most of the graffiti that had been scratched into the railings around the attractions, the result of untold thousands of youths waiting in lines for millions upon millions of man-hours over several decades, was gone. The wooden railings all over the park, once heavily adorned with intials, dates, and wads of chewing gum, were in many cases replaced entirely and always painted in a heavy layer of glossy enamel.

It was hot. Despite the awnings over many of the waiting areas, the longest lines always had their tail-ends in the sun. For popular attractions, the tail-end is long. The most grueling part of the day was our wait to get on the FireHawk rollercoaster; that was nearly an hour long, and most of that was in the sun. It would have been fine if it had been in the seventies, but it was in the nineties, and there were no clouds. Park attendants set up a stack of coolers with cold water and plastic cups, which was a great idea. I got the last plastic cup. I hope some cups arrived for the people behind me. One girl in line, evidently suffering from the heat, was being aided by friends and park employees.

The Racer: This was our first ride of the day. It’s 45 years old, and has been at King’s Island for 35. This was probably the first “grown-up” rollercoaster I ever rode, and it’s the yardstick by which I measure all the others. It’s fast and lurchy but fairly painless. There was almost no queue at all, which was a great bonus.

The Beast: Still ranks as the best rollercoaster I’ve been on. The violent beating one takes on it isn’t quite bad enough to keep is speed and drops from topping my list. Kevin and I individually noted the sensation of the meat on our calves vibrating: Wub-wub-wub. I got slammed back and forth quite a bit, but not enough to really remember the pain. Which brings me to…

Son of Beast: Sounds like a kiddie coaster, right? Like a miniature version of The Beast? Holy crap. Constructed from an entire forest’s worth of lumber, its speed and drops are exceeded only by its violence. We both felt sharp pain in our lower backs when we hit the curve at the bottom of the second hill, and then could do nothing but hang on and watch in dread as we continued the horizontal curve and hit the same sharp turn again. This ride kicked my ass, and more than half of that was in the bad way, not the good way. I won’t ride it again.

Flight of Fear: Like Son of Beast, this ride does some unpleasant chiropractic work, with the added terror of working you over in a dark enclosed warehouse. It’s like a gang fight with strobe lights. It’s fast and loopy and worth riding once, but I’ll avoid this one in the future. Which is what I said last time I rode it. I just forgot.

Firehawk: This coaster, the park’s newest, is a “flying” coaster. One is strapped in very securely, then the car flips and you spend the entire ride hanging from your harness. You’re flat on your stomach looking down at the ground. It’s light on the bone-crunching, but heavy on the “Oh-God-I’m-Going-to-Die” feeling, so I rate it highly. This had the longest line we waited in.

Top Gun: Not a bad ride, but one must endure the movie-themed junk all over the place. The ride is relatively smooth and fast. The fact that it’s a hanging coaster may once have been a nice gimmick, but it’s not so novel now and the supports from which it hangs tend to obscure the view. Note so self: If I ever ride it again, try to sit in the very front car, where I’ll be able to stare death in the face more clearly.

Delerium: This ride is similar to that swinging galleon ship ride, but on a grander scale. About fifty people sit all around the edge of a saucer, which hangs from a tall support beam. Then the saucer and beam start to rock, going higher and higher as the saucer slowly rotates. Shortly, one finds oneself being giddily lifted well past vertical, then plummeting earthward, over and over. Peaceful yet terrifying, I think this is the best ride there.

Someone else's pic of Delirium

Some very old favorites are still around. The Monster and the Scrambler are still there, and still fun. We didn’t go an any water rides.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Sick, Profit, Coin, Saw, Freud

1. I started feeling a little ill on Thursday, and by Friday evening I knew that I had the cold that pretty much every single one of my co-workers has been passing around for the past two weeks. I stayed home yesterday. Today I feel much, but not 100%, better. I suspect that my quick recovery may be due to those zinc lozenges.

2. I watched the pilot episode of “Profit” last week. It was pretty good. I think maybe that was the only episode I ever saw. My Netflix disc has ep. 2 on it also, and I’ll try to watch it soon. It’s odd; in 1996, that was a show that was absolutely an oddball, very original, and doomed to failure. If it came on now, it might be a minor hit on Showtime, or USA. TV is a little weirder now, I guess.

3. I missed Erin’s second soccer game to attend my coin club meeting on Sunday. I must admit, I would have enjoyed the soccer game more. However, this meeting was the last meeting before the big coin show on the 28th and 29th, and I knew that they’d be signing up volunteers to help. I signed up for Friday the 28th, 10:00-1:00, and I figure I’ll probably be working at the front table like last year. Also, at the coin club auction, I purchased a 1982-P Lincoln cent with a clipped planchet error. I think that’s my first purchase of an error coin.

4. I think I’m done with the saw. I sat down last night with my painting supplies, and my two dead butterflies and one dead bumblebee, and my insect field guide, and my sketchbook, and tried to figure out just how to paint in a nice bug or two. I created a couple of small pencil sketches, and then I painted a butterfly (a European cabbage white) on an artist trading card. Finally, I decided that I was NOT going to add anything else to the saw. No bees or butterflies. I spent fifteen minutes doing a little touch-up on the blue sky behind the trees, and decided I’d be an idiot to work on it any more. I’m pretty happy with the results.

5. Last night I dreamed that I was fishing on a big boat with Paul. He hauled in a 15-foot pike. There were many friends on the boat—it was a regular Otter excursion. I was worried that the huge pike would start thrashing and injure someone, including Erin and Jill, who were nearby. Pike also have large, sharp teeth, by the way. I was holding the pike on a stairwell was we tried to get the boat into a dock. Erin and Jill came close to look at the fish, but I was really concerned that the fish would break loose, so I told them to move away. Jill did, but Erin didn’t, and I woke myself up yelling “Hurry!”

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Conversation exerpt

I: “I saw some hot air balloons last night.”
Co-worker 1: “Did you? I see them all the time out where I live.”
Co-worker 2: “Balloons are stupid. They’re so slow. Why would you want to go anywhere so slow? There are a lot cooler ways to get there. Airplanes go fast. Airplanes are cool.”

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Another dream

The alarm sounded this morning, and I hit snooze, and immediately fell into an annoying dream. Until the alarm went off again, I dreamed that I was on the phone with a bill collector who was trying to get a “tracking number” (dream-speak for routing code) for a check I’d sent in. I spent some minutes searching, and then found my own hand-written notes, but the numbers I’d written were indecipherable. The resembled the graffiti one sees on innumerable passing train cars, obviously comprised of letters and numbers but somehow inscrutable. Finally, I found another actual check from which I could read the numbers, but there were so many numbers that I had a hard time figuring out which were the ones the caller wanted.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Black Walnuts

I will now be on the lookout for black walnuts. I’m not sure, but I think almost any walnuts growing in this area will be black walnuts. They can be used, I’ve heard, to make a very nice ink.

If you have any walnuts growing near you, please let me know. I have a few good leads on obtaining some, but there is no such thing as too much information.

If and when I get a bunch of walnuts, I’ll chronicle here my efforts to turn them into drawing ink.
I have big dreams for a Halloween costume this year. But will I actually make the time to do this? I need to price PVC pipes and PVC glue, and solidify plans to make a big scary yead. I've done a couple of very small sketches, and need to work on more.

Last night I had an unpleasant dream that I was watching televised film from an aircraft cabin camera as the plane was catching fire. People were out of there seats trying to get a view of another compartment on the airplane where a garbage can had caught fire (thanks, Brian.) One lady was on fire and another lady was trying to wrestle her to the ground to put out the flames. I knew the plane was going to crash.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Saturday morning I went to the St. Regis Park city-wide yard sale with Kim and Mom. I obtained three items, two of which were purchases and the other of which was a freebie. First, I bought for a dollar a little three-pronged gardening fork thing. Second, I was given a bunch of plastic poker chips. Thirds, I bought a 3-ring-binder slide-holder page of coins and little bits of junk for fifty cents.

The coins and junk—it really, really is junk—was a good deal. Nothing actually valuable, but there are several eastern European coins (Yugoslavia and Turkey, mainly) that I could put in my collection. There are also three Office of Price Administration rationing tokens from WWII, and one or two more tokens I have not identified. As for the junk: One rabies vaccination tag that I think is from the 1960s, a campaign pin which I’ll have to look up but I suspect is from when Bert Combs and Julian Carroll ran for Governor and Lt. Governor in 1971 (Thanks, Wikipedia!), a pair of cufflinks, and part of an earring or something.

The poker chips I got for use with various games, but my main intention is to use them for D&D. I won’t go into it unless someone asks*, or until I turn this into a roleplaying game blog, which could happen some day. I was standing at a yard sale looking at the poker chips in a cookie tin, wondering what the price was, when a lady walked up as said, “You want those? Just take them. Let me find you a bag.”

*For David and Aaron, since I know you read this and probably are wondering: The chips will replace those colored index cards.

Friday, September 07, 2007

The result of car-drying. An undried one is included for your reference.Dried tomatoes

Painted saw

Yesterday I decided I was done with the saw, but today I'm really having second thoughts about that bee. I'm not satisfied. I would appreciate any comments you'd care to make. I may just turn that bee into a monarch butterfly.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

More dried tomatoes

Several days ago I cut a bunch of cherry tomatoes in half, salted them, spread them in a pan, and heated them in the oven at 190 degrees for an hour or two. Then it was bedtime, so I pulled them out (there have been times in the past where I’ve accidentally or intentionally left them in the oven overnight, and the results were crunchy and bitter.) At that time, they were showing slight signs of shriveling, but still looked pretty much the same as when I put them in.

I put the tray on my dashboard the next day and left them there. It was a hot and sunny day. By the time I left work, they were done. In fact, they were a little over done. I think they might have come out better if I had not put them in the oven.

I’ll have to make some more before the weather cools, if I can manage it.


Why would I post a D&D game recap? I don’t know. I just broadcast. I hoist my banners with pride. It’s not as weird as a knitting blog.

We played D&D on Sunday night. This was with Team Beta, or the Ensley Group, or whatever I feel like calling them at any given moment. Team Alpha, or the Arlay Group, or whatever, traveled south to Arlay to get their comrade the half-orc barbarian resurrected. Team Beta is still at the ruins of Ensley Keep, cleaning and making repairs. They had a lot of relatively amusing character interaction.

Actually, I won’t post any real recap. Some of my players read this blog, and there isn’t much I can say that wouldn’t possibly provide too much information to some players who maybe shouldn’t get that information yet.