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Tech journalist since the dark ages. Windows Secrets, LangaList newsletter, Windows Magazine (NetGuide, Home PC), Byte, Popular Computing, yadda yadda yadda. Google me, if it matters.

This feed is mostly personal interest; it's NOT my professional writing. There's tech here, yes, but also lots of general science and some politics and weird humor thrown in.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Topsfield (Mass.) Fair Snapshots

After a rainy Saturday, this past Sunday was dry and cool with brilliantly warm sun; a perfect Fall day, and good day to visit the Topsfield (Mass.) Fair.

The Fair's been going on for almost 200 years (info). In other parts of the country, it'd be called a 'county' fair (the local county being Essex, in this case; a short distance northeast of Boston). But for for reasons of tradition, this Fair has the host town's name attached.

The place was very busy.

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It's primarily an agricultural fair, with the usual assortment of contests involving the local flora (such as a 1900 lb/861 kilo pumpkin) and all manner of 2- and 4-legged fauna.

To my surprise, there were some less practical elements, such as a rather nice display bonsai and floral arrangements.

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Of course, there was abundant bad food --- note the smoke in the distance here, as mass quantities of food were being cooked and often deep-fried in ways food was never meant to be cooked or deep-fried.

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There was better food, too, including a wide variety of local honey, as shown in this display: the delicate, early-spring, flower-based honeys are on the left; the robust, dark, autumn honeys to the right, with buckwheat honey appearing almost black.

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And there was a midway.

We tried this circular roller coaster:

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The cars would rock back and forth on the track, gaining momentum at each pass, then pause for a long, vertiginous, inverted moment, hanging by your straps at the top....  photo PA050020_zps408901d7.jpg

... and then begin a series of high-speed loops. The loops were fast enough to pull a couple Gs at the base, and to keep you in your seat at the top of the loop. The ride would then slow, pause again at the top for a long inverted moment, and then go backwards the same way.

It was fun --- we had one of the end cars with the unobstructed views --- and the seeing the landscape from on high while inverted and stationary was interesting.

Then there was the Zipper, a series of cage-like cars mounted on off-center swivels: the cars pivot on their own axis, driven by the motion of the ride overall, which hauls the cars at high speed around the long arms via cables; as the cars move around the bends at the ends of the arms, the off-center mountings mean the the riders' body weight acts as an randomly-swinging pendulum, rocking the car back and forth, occasionally and erratically building to complete 360 degree loops.

Not my photo:
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The ride even has its own Wikipedia entry, which notes that "It features strong vertical G-forces, numerous spins, and a noted sense of unpredictability."

I can fully confirm that description.

I tried for two photos but was too busy to get the focus right.  photo PA050021_zpscdc89e76.jpg

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In all, it was a silly, fun, and altogether pleasant way to spend a glorious Fall afternoon in New England.

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