Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Boiling Out, Part IV

The shower and read made me tired and I was able to sleep pretty well. Opted to have breakfast again at Country House after reports from my comrades about the other place indicated my expectations were correct. The waitress recognized me from yesterday and brought me Diet Pepsi instead of coffee without asking which was nice. I went with a malted peach waffle and a side of turkey sausage. Lackluster all around. Somehow, despite my order being brought to me right after I heard the bell indicating it was ready, both items were lukewarm. The menu indicated that you can't taste the malt in the waffle and it was right. The waffle was a bit overdone and crunchy. The peaches were put in a small dish and set on the waffle. Despite looking like peaches that had been baked in brown sugar, they were ice cold, seemed canned and syrupy. They were sweet enough that I only used syrup on a little portion to try the syrup. It was basic store bought maple flavored syrup, not the real thing. I didn't bother with butter since the waffle wasn't warm enough to melt it. The turkey sausage were very thin (two patties) and had an odd texture. The spices were good. If I were going to be here for another breakfast, I'd try somewhere else after this meal.

Next day: The presentations went well. Peggy Gripshover (who along with her husband Tom Bell were my favorites of the new people I met) did her presentation on Charlie Weeghman and the Chifed spring training of 1913. Peggy brought a unique approach as she is a professor of geography. She talked a lot about the weather and had dug up weather records from 1913. Interesting and informative. I then presented my research on the 1907 Harrisburg Senators. I had brought HTML and Javascript files for my presentation but despite testing them before I arrived, they would not work on the computer we were using. Nonetheless, it seemed like my presentation went over well. There was some good interest and insight. I was a mess of nerves for some reason and too monotone. Some folks nodded off. I know from my experience (as well as post-waking involvement from those at this presentation) that it's all tied together. When I get nervous, my voice loses inflection. Think of how people stammer when nervous. It's all the same tone. That's me but speaking clearly. My nervousness stemmed from not having as much done as I wanted on the subject (stupid school). I wanted to present anyway because that setting is very informal and good practice with good feedback from the others.

After the presentation we did the Brickyard again. Burger and fries again were fantastic. At this point, the meeting pretty much ended. The locals headed home to take care of weekend chores and family stuff. Peggy and Tom opted for a nap. Lunch was late so the races at Oaklawn were underway. So I did some souvenir shopping for the boowahs then R.J. Lesch, the organizer for the meeting, and I headed off to Little Rock for a college baseball game.

The game was a blast. R.J. and I interact a little via e-mail and Facebook and we've met before. I had a great time talking with him. The game was between the University of Arkansas - Little Rock and Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, arguably the two longest names in college baseball. I was shocked that they charged five bucks for admission to a D-II game. They had concessions which provided dinner in the form of a three dollar hot dog and a $2.50 bottle of soda. As with any hot dog consumed at a ballpark not in Kinston, North Carolina, the dog was delicious. But the cost? Come on. Maybe they were trying to pay for the field. It was very nice with a unique feature. The infield was astroturf and the outfield was grass. Neither R.J. nor I had ever seen such a thing. To give you an idea of how heavily influenced this conference was by geography, geology and archaeology, after a couple of innings I turned to R.J. and said, "I know why they have a turf infield. We're in a basin and the water flows right into the infield. A dirt infield would never dry out". I was able to get R.J. laughing every time through the batting order. One of the players for Indiana was Will Faulkner. When he came to the plate the first time I made as if heckling and fake yelled "I hated As I Lay Dying". Ah, nerd humor. Cracked R.J. up and he giggled every time the guy came to the plate the rest of the game.

Game was good. Lots of strikeouts and singles. Good strategy at times, some bad (two out bunt attempts on a turf infield are never a good idea). A couple really nice defensive plays and some serious gaffes. The game ended in the bottom of the 11th on a bases loaded walk. We drove back to Hot Springs, said our farewells and called it a night.

Peggy and Tom graciously took me to the airport this morning on their way home to Kentucky. Breakfast was an Asiago breakfast bagel at the airport's Great American Bagel. Too heavy on the red onion. I brushed afterwards and can still taste it. Barring anything interesting on the flight, this ends my report.

Afterword: The Boiling Out was a great time again. As with all SABR gatherings, the people were great. Peggy and Tom commented on the ride to the airport how different it was from typical academic conferences. No stuck-up people. Positive contributions to presentations. I would have liked to have seen more of the people from the previous meeting but it was nice making some new acquaintances. The Arkansas folks are great. I never did have a fried pickle, get a massage or soak in the springs (all which I had hoped to do) but that is because we had other things to occupy us. Just a fantastic time and they are already planning on the 2012 edition.

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