Sunday, March 14, 2010

Boiling Out, Part III

After lunch Friday we then walked to the convention center where we took in a new photography exhibit that Gregg Patterson coordinated. He had found about two dozen photos involving major league baseball and Hot Springs. Virtually all of these were identified via geological detective work. Different land formations and landmarks enabled Gregg to establish that these photos were indeed taken in Hot Springs. One, a picture of the Brooklyn Dodgers in the early 1900's, appears in a recent book put out by the Library of Congress. It shows the team standing on a trolley track in front of a hotel and is captioned in the book as something along the lines of "The Dodgers stand along one of the borough trolley tracks from which their nickname is taken". As Gregg points out, though, there aren't many mountains in Brooklyn. Sure enough, the photo is of the team at spring training and the hotel is the Arlington. Another photo was identified by a picture of an ostrich head that appeared between the heads of two Red Sox players in a team photo. There was once an ostrich farm in Hot Springs and that is where that photo had been shot.

The photos were added to a huge number of other historic Hot Springs images already hanging in the convention center. My favorite of the existing photos was one of Babe Ruth on a horse at Oaklawn racetrack. My favorite new photo that Gregg found was of Tris Speaker in a suit, bowtie and bowler hat riding on an alligator at the alligator farm which still exists down the street. The farm has been around since 1902.

We then drove to the former sites of two ballfields in Hot Springs. The one still has the foundation of the grandstand intact but otherwise has been converted into a corporate parking lot. The other site is an open field. Several of the local members are very into this bit of archaeology and much effort was placed trying to figure out where things in different photos are now. I was more impressed with the people skills of member Mike Dugan. Mike is one of the nicest people I have ever met and has a better facility for remembering people's names than I do (and I'm pretty good). Someone from the corporation whose parking lot we were in came out to chase us off for trespassing. Mike gladhanded him, started giving him the history of the area and eventually the guy thanked us for coming when we did leave. He then chased us down on foot after we drove to the second site so he could give Mike his business card. Unbelievable. I'd kill for that ability with people. Instead, we returned to the hotel and sat and chatted and Mike broke out a refrain I have heard all my life. A sarcastic "Jon, you need to settle down and let some other people have a chance to talk". I can't help it. I've become less introverted over the last decade but I just do not like groups. I especially hate when you have a person or two who feel the need to outdo anyone else's story. The variation on that that you find in the baseball research world is the effort to relate everything to one's own research.

Time passed and we went to dinner at an Asian fusion place called Central Park. Pricey but awesome and an excellent value. One of those rare expensive places where I feel I got my money's worth. I had to try the appetizer special - tuna tartar tacos. Two taco shells made out of layered wonton skins that were fried. They were then stuffed with tuna tartar and some veggies. On the side were pickled ginger and an incredible wasabi guacamole. Brilliant. For my main course I had grilled duck breast over jasmine rice (addendum: this horrified the boowahs when I related the tale. We like the little, little duckies in the pond. We do, we do, we do, kachickaquackquack. But the duck was half as much as the other entrees). The duck was done perfectly. The sauce was excellent, just enough for flavor, and the rice was just the right amount. I then finished the meal with white chocolate bread pudding which I would have to put in my top five desserts of all time. The entire meal was flawless. Walked back to the hotel and everyone opted for an early night, something I think will be difficult now that we have some college basketball teams staying at the hotel for the tournament. I'm going to wander and see what I can find to do. A better day but I'm already ready to go and I still have a full day of conference and a day of travel to go.

Later....That was fun in a raise my pain threshold kind of way. Went out to the pool and hung out in the hot tub with some drunk kids in their twenties who work for Coors and a drunk couple in their sixties. Despite the inane babbling about drinking it was nice being outside in a hot tub under the stars. I haven't mentioned but I have immensely enjoyed the weather. No snow or ice anywhere to be seen. No jacket needed in the afternoons. Hot tubs and swimming outdoors at night. More and more people kelt coming out to the point where people had to stand in the middle of the hot tub so I left, somewhat proud of not having said a word or having a word spoken to me the whole time. I then went back to my room and changed then went downstairs to see about using the internet. I did not bring a computer (the freaking hotel charges for internet access. Hello! It's 2010! Time to leave the stone age). They let people use the concierge computer at night but some girl from one of the hoops teams was doing homework on it. I sat and waited awhile as I watched the throngs of people who are there for the tournament (and a real estate conference and who knows what else) mill around and drink. The girl finally took pity on me and let me use the computer. Checked my e-mail (53 new messages). Snapped off a couple of replies and let the girl (who was foreign born but I could not place the accent (addendum: the girl was Hungarian Fanni Hutlassa. Thanks internet) get back to her schoolwork (which made me dread mine).

I'm on the fifth floor which is a saving grace. I found that you can hear the live band in the lobby as high as the fourth floor. The coaches also just went around on curfew check so maybe some sleep is in order. I have dark rings under my eyes. We're considering blowing off the college baseball game we were planning on attending in favor for an afternoon at Oaklawn. I wish all my life decisions were like that. I'm trying to think of any other situation where I might face two equally appealing choices and cannot come up with any. Nice to know that tomorrow afternoon will be fun regardless. Time to rinse off from the hot tub, read and sleep.

Did I go to the ballgame or the racetrack? How did my presentation go? All this and more in the next installment of BOILING OUT 2010!!!!

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