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27 Awesomely Staged Roller Coaster Photos

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Reddit

When amusement parks started using cameras to snap shots of guests on rides, the companies thought it would just be a good way to make some extra money. Little did they know that the cameras would also serve as the backdrop for elaborately staged photos that only become more ridiculous given their setting. 

1. Memelicious

XKCD inspired many of these pictures with a cartoon about someone gluing pieces to a chessboard to create the most epic ride picture ever. The comic started a meme of people trying this out for themselves, but Redditor The Panda of Mexico took the concept to its next logical conclusion with this picture of rage faces playing chess on a coaster—making a meme of memes.

2. Don’t Go Alone, Take These

Ukuleles, stuffed chickens, and chess? It’s just another delightfully goofy picture inspired by that same classic XKCD comic, this time courtesy of Redditor Compoundaudio and his friends.

3. Get Ready For Action

This delightful picture from Redditor t*tsforf*ck—which is filled with typical morning bathroom behaviors—is even more impressive when you realize that the ride they’re on, Millennium Force, reaches a top speed of 93 miles per hour.

4. Making A Splash

Redditor mynameiszachary posted this delightful Splash Mountain picture featuring a riveting game of beer pong.

5. Dinner for Two

A few months after taking their beer pong photo, mynameiszachary returned with his sister and their cousin to take another silly picture, this one quite a bit classier. Despite encountering a few problems with Disney security when trying to bring in their photo props, the trio eventually got their picture taken and the photo booth staff was so impressed they even gave the group a free framed photo.

6. It’s the Circle of Rides

Every year this friend of Redditor skalex does a wacky picture on a coaster. While some of his old pictures have been fun, his newest—a parody of The Lion King—is a true masterpiece.

7. Brothers of a Feather

Redditor DannyCabes and his brother had some fun when they discovered where the cameras were on the log flume and Gold Rush rides at Rainbow’s End. They didn’t stop with one goofy picture, but took at least a dozen—this is just one of our favorites.

8. Dapper Snaps

Redditor Ayalat took this fun pic on Space Mountain during the annual Dapper Day at Disneyland. Hey, when you’re dressed up that nice, you might as well snap some selfies—even if you're on a roller coaster.

9. Love Is A Roller Coaster

If you and your gal love coasters, a ride might be a great place to propose—but instead of popping out a ring and risk it flying off the coaster, take advantage of the in-ride photo to surprise her. That’s exactly what Redditor Nightzel did—and his girlfriend said yes!

10. What A Creeper

This picture might not be as over the top when it comes to props and planning, but there’s no denying that Redditor BPP198’s friend planned to turn into a Creeper before he hopped onto Las Vegas’ New York, New York coaster.

11. Clowning Around

Brent Ray Fraser’s Clown Series shows the artist as a very grumpy clown having fantastically miserable experiences at an amusement park. The roller coaster picture is particularly amazing. Warning: This link to his artwork is very NSFW.

12. and 13. Creative Gamers

Perhaps the most impressive of all the posed coaster pictures ever taken is this one, featuring a gang of friends casually enjoying a game of Super Smash Brothers on the log ride’s biggest drop.

That same group also managed to keep playing their Monopoly game on the ride a little while before that.

14. A Close Shave 

Of course, the award for most dangerous Splash Mountain picture has to go to Reddit user cefriano. I hope that’s a safety razor.

15. Snakes

You've heard of Snakes On A Plane, but what about Snakes on a Flume?

16. Another proposal

The most romantic staged ride picture is probably this one. Here’s the story, as told by Redditor Joefamous:

Lindsay is, in fact, the girl in the front and she did say yes. I would know because I was holding up one of the signs! The guy right behind her is her fiance, Chris.

I carried a backpack around all day with the signs folded up in the laptop sleeve along with snacks and jackets so she wouldn’t suspect anything. The 5 of us behind her practiced holding the signs the day before so they wouldn’t block each other from view. As soon as we were far enough on the ride, I passed out the signs(which were numbered so we had them in the right order) one by one and we hid them until we started going up the hill to the drop. As soon as we hit the peak, we all pulled out the signs and held them up until the pic was taken, then immediately passed them to the back of the log where I re-hid them in my backpack.

She didn’t see what happened until they posted the pic on the screen at the end of the ride! The actual ring was hidden in the backpack as well to keep it safe. As soon as we got off the ride he gave her the ring and we purchased the pics! We actually planned the whole thing and practiced so that it would be a complete surprise to her and pulled it off with a great picture to remember it by and a funny story to tell!

17. An unbalanced breakfast

Sometimes the best staged photos are those that are completely nonchalant, like this one showing Tsetan Tenzin, who'sholding the Honey Bunches of Oats, and three friends enjoying a delicious breakfast filled with whole grain.

18. Rocky VII

It seems appropriate to stage a fight from the movie Rocky IV, complete with announcers and fans, at the Raging Bull coaster at Six Flags Great America in Illinois. Granted, these friends of Redditor Zeuslightning could have done a scene from Raging Bull, but that might just be overkill.

19. and 20. Bring a paddle

Here is the same group of gents trying their hand at ping pong on Raging Bull a few months earlier.

Those Raging Bull fans aren’t the only ones who enjoy playing ping pong on roller coasters. Here are Mike McFerran and his friends staging a match on The Comet at The Great Escape & Splash Water Kingdom.

21. Smile!

It’s important to always have fresh breath, which is why Matthew Morrell, Alicia Kramer, Rob Meyer, Abby Decker, and Jessica Brosius made sure to stay true to their brushing schedule even though it meant doing so on the Coal Cracker at Hersheypark.

22. - 27. Chess trend

The most common form of staged coaster pictures these days though are those involving a chess board or other game. That’s because they were all inspired by this XKCD comic. Since then, the site has a whole gallery dedicated to people who tried out the idea for themselves. These are a few of the best:

Here’s Thomas Hart and Daniel Madden at Canobie Lake Park.

These chess masters are Cam O'Grady, Jake Barnett, and Shelby Fowler who staged their tournament on the Cedar Point Millennium Force.

Karl Malakoff and his cousin, Lori Coulson, enjoyed a game on the Diamondback coaster at King's Island on Halloween. Eventually, Karl lost when his white king fell off the board.

Now this looks like a serious game, even if spectator Billy Brooks doesn't seem too into it. Players  Kristjan Moore and Daniel Carey definitely seem to know what’s at stake during their match on the Loggers Leap at Thorpe Park.

Of course, chess was just too easy for Randall and Ben Wald, so they decided to build a house of cards on the 79 foot drops of the Goliath coaster at Six Flags over Georgia.

Justin Howell and his friend felt the same way, which is why they took to playing Extreme Jenga while riding Thunder Run at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom.

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
May 21, 2017
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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

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Nick Briggs/Comic Relief
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What Happened to Jamie and Aurelia From Love Actually?
May 26, 2017
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Nick Briggs/Comic Relief

Fans of the romantic-comedy Love Actually recently got a bonus reunion in the form of Red Nose Day Actually, a short charity special that gave audiences a peek at where their favorite characters ended up almost 15 years later.

One of the most improbable pairings from the original film was between Jamie (Colin Firth) and Aurelia (Lúcia Moniz), who fell in love despite almost no shared vocabulary. Jamie is English, and Aurelia is Portuguese, and they know just enough of each other’s native tongues for Jamie to propose and Aurelia to accept.

A decade and a half on, they have both improved their knowledge of each other’s languages—if not perfectly, in Jamie’s case. But apparently, their love is much stronger than his grasp on Portuguese grammar, because they’ve got three bilingual kids and another on the way. (And still enjoy having important romantic moments in the car.)

In 2015, Love Actually script editor Emma Freud revealed via Twitter what happened between Karen and Harry (Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman, who passed away last year). Most of the other couples get happy endings in the short—even if Hugh Grant's character hasn't gotten any better at dancing.

[h/t TV Guide]

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