Justin du Coeur (jducoeur) wrote,
Justin du Coeur

Well, since I'm awake anyway...

I am a creature of odd psychological quirks. One of them is especially annoying: the earlier I have to get up, the worse I sleep. This is sadly consistent, and means that when I have to be up at the crack of dawn for a demo... well.

So since it looks like even an hour of sleep isn't in the cards, let's do a post-Worldcon diary entry:

Tuesday: There was much talk back and forth about Accademia, but no one was passionately into the idea of holding it, and some folks couldn't make it at all. Ciana and Matt were hip-deep in wedding preparations, ladysprite was at least knee-deep in them, and I needed an evening to deal with my email and plan for the final assault on the month. So we collectively decided to put off restarting until next week.

Wednesday: Return of the Boroughs begins. The first MITgaard meeting was tonight, and went decently well. Despite my fears of it having completely evaporated, there are still a couple of MITgaardi around, and they're pulling things back together. The first meeting was smallish -- around eight people or so -- but most of them are genuinely interested for one reason or another. Several had either previous SCA or Faire experience, and we managed to get six of them to come to dance practice for at least a while. My guess is that around four of them look likely to stick around, an acceptable crop of freshmen. Fingers crossed.

Friday: Blood-sucking bags from Metrowest Medical Center showed up. The competition between Red Cross and the hospitals seems to be getting a little nasty -- it was clear that the nurses from Metrowest are appalled at how much Red Cross charges for blood, and they're not hiding it. I honestly don't care much, so long as it's getting used appropriately, and Metrowest has proven to be competent, friendly and efficient, and come to my office, so they win this time.

Dinner date was at the brewpub. The Schilling Ale (always a winner) is back on tap, and their new Yellowjacket Ale (made with 10% honey) proves to be quite good -- not as sweet as I feared, with a good nutty finish. I was disappointed that they were out of the BBQ special entree, but msmemory got what amounted to lobster and shrimp hushpuppies: odd, but tasty.

Saturday: ladysprite and umbran's pre-wedding thingy. (Dear lord -- I'm picking up tpau's speech habits.) A dozen of us went out to Six Flags (nee Riverside) for the day.

We rendezvoused at noonish at the park, and realized that we were four people short of the sixteen needed to get the group rate. After a comical ten minutes trying to find a family of four that wanted to come in on it with us, we realized it was going to be cheaper to just get the group tickets for sixteen than buy twelve normally, so we did that. (tpau has several extra tickets, good through the end of the year, and as far as I know is still looking to sell them, so talk to her if you want cheap admission.)

The park was, for all intents and purposes, deserted. There were lines, but they were very short -- the longest was less than half an hour, and most were a good deal shorter than that. We were having the party on September 11th, on the (correct) theory that the country is still so morbidly obsessed that most people seem to feel that it's wrong to have fun on that date. ladysprite's opinion is that it's much healthier to take the day as a celebration of life, and I'm entirely happy to subscribe to that view.

My one annoyance at the day was that security-and-safety there is getting just as over-the-top silly as everywhere else. Okay, I'm not really surprised that they've instituted metal detectors to get in. But they have a new rule that *no* knives or multi-tools are permitted in the park, and if you come in with one it will be confiscated and not returned. For an airplane I can just barely understand that rule -- for a park, it's preposterously paranoid. (There are days when Jack Williamson's Humanoids series looks creepily relevant.) Fortunately, they're pretty cursory in enforcing the rule: I stuck my keychain (with my Leatherman) at the bottom of my pouch, with the keys on top, and they didn't dig deeply enough to notice the tool.

Other than that, it was a grand day out. The weather as good as you could ask for: clear enough to be decently warm, cloudy enough to be decently cool, with nary a bit of humidity. The lot of us wandered around the park doing rides. For any given ride, there were some people not interested in it (well, except for ladysprite, who was game for almost anything), so there were always a few people to watch the bags. (They have also instituted draconian no-bag rules for many rides -- they wouldn't even let me keep my pouch on.)

The Superman coaster was fun as always. I wound up doing the front car with tpau, with learnedax and mermaidlady behind us. It was the first time the latter had been on the coaster (or, I gather, anything quite like it), and she was a tad nervous, but survived the experience and had enough fun that she allowed herself to be talked onto it a second time at the end of the day.

A number of other rides were fun for one reason or another. The Tomahawk is an odd combo of a spin ride and a swing ride: you are put in a spinning dish at the end of a long arm that swings back and forth -- the G-forces shift so quickly as to be remarkably dizzying. The Batman coaster was really excellent: a no-floor coaster with scads of loops and twists, nearly at the same level as the Hulk in Orlando. The carousel is actually kind of pleasant when it's just the bunch of us, with no kids around. And the bumper cars were great fun with ten of us, zooming around and whapping into each other.

The winning ride was the Houdini, which was different from anything I've done before. I'll put the description at the bottom, in case there are folks who want to be surprised by it. (The surprise is a good deal of the fun.)

We decided to call it quits around 7pm, and all went out to Friendly's for dinner. I wound up getting the Southwest Chicken Salad, having gotten my USRDA of greasy food at the park -- this proved to be surprisingly decent, although it has enough dressing and sauce to pretty well spoil any illusions of healthiness.

Sunday: A desperately-needed quiet day; I even read a few comic books. The high point of the day was getting together with the new head of Duncharloch. She proves to have real organizational chops: she's currently co-chair of HRSFA, so she knows how to run things. But she knew very little about the SCA, so we spent about three hours sitting around, with me giving her a relatively in-depth braindump. I like her: she asked intelligent questions, both about the game and the organization, and seems to have some very level-headed plans for how to approach getting things started. If we can get a few enthusiastic freshmen to join in, I'm optimistic that we can get the borough rebooted.

Upcoming Events:

Today (Monday): The Harvard Activity Fair is in a couple of hours (the reason I didn't get any sleep). This should be interesting -- I've done many fairs, but never at Harvard before. It runs 9-12 (slightly bizarre time for college students, but okay); we'll see how it goes.

In the evening is the first meeting of Fenmere, in which I hope to encourage them to get off-campus a bit this year. This may be an uphill battle; we'll see.

Tuesday: The first meeting of the theoretical new borough at Olin. Myndroh has decided that, since he seems to have stayed attached to the SCA, he may as well get a group going where he is. So I'm going to see if I can give him a hand there, and get some folks interested.

Wednesday: Dance practice. Also Storytellers', which I must admit is tempting -- gyzki is going to be talking about King Arthur, which promises to be entertaining.

Saturday: Ciana's wedding, which I gather is at least partly outdoors. Keep fingers crossed for good weather...

Spoilers for the Houdini Ride: As mentioned above, the Houdini was the most interesting ride at Riverside. It starts out rather like the Haunted Mansion: you get ushered into a Victorian room, the lights go out, you get a little filmclip about Harry Houdini, things get spooky, he's coming back from the dead, yadda yadda yadda.

Then you walk into a fairly plain room, where the "seance" is to take place. It's a long room, with four long rows of benches, two on each side, facing each other. Lap rails come down, for no particularly apparent reason.

Nothing visible happens at first, but the room just starts to *feel* wrong. You look around, and it's all the same, but your sense of balance goes completely wonky. And then the floor begins to spin relative to the walls, but even that isn't right -- you can see what's happening, and that the floor is rocking back and forth, but your sense of balance is still wildly off. At one point, you find yourself actually on the ceiling, looking down, not precisely sure why you're not falling. It's a wholly unsettling feeling.

It's clear what's going on: *both* the floor and the walls spin, and not intuitively. At the beginning, they pull the entire room up on its side, at something like a 20 degree angle. Then they set both floor and walls in motion, moving separately from each other. So you can see that things are spinning, but the visual orientation relative to the room has nothing to do with your actual physical orientation. Even having figured the trick out in the first couple of seconds, it's incredibly disorienting.

Really a great ride: the first genuinely original amusement park ride I've seen in a couple of years...

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