Epithetical Technology

I wonder how often the word computer is accompanied by an adjective? You know, as in, “Why is this #$%^%$computer so slow?” or “Why did this #$%^&^ computer just change its own settings?” or “I hate this #$%^&^% computer!” My guess is that it’s way north of 50%. In fact, if someone were smart, he or she would form the Damn Computer company and then collect royalty fees every time someone uttered the registered name of their company. Most of us, however, have bolted right past such mild epithets into much more colorful territory whenever we have to deal with these electronic wizards. Indeed, computers are much like Merlin: They are very helpful to a point and then all of a sudden, Sir Lancelot is sending you error messages that no normal human being understands.

Of course, when you do get an error message you can paste it into a search engine and read the threads on how to fix this; threads that again, no normal human being understands. I think we can all agree that the people who do actually understand these incantations are not normal.

A friend of mine recently dealt with the issue of trying to get her new computer to run her old printer. After several futile calls for help on Facebook, she finally opted to simply buy a new printer, which was much cheaper than investing in psychiatric sessions which is where she was headed if she kept trying to get the new computer to run the old printer. This experience was just about enough to make her lose her religion, which is bad because she is an ordained minister. Clearly then, the power of prayer is not enough to overcome malfunctioning technological interfaces–whatever those are.

My phone recently caught a virus, one that made it nauseated, which in turn made it puke up its guts. The guy at U. S. Cellular said the only treatment was to do a “factory restore.” I wanted to boil the phone in chicken noodle soup, but he insisted on the factory restore and so, I spent the next four days reinstalling contacts, apps, and dates in my calendar.

I’m convinced that tiny gremlins live in the computer and cause all this mischief. How else do you explain the fact that quite often you are told to simply unplug your computer for 10 seconds so it can reset itself? I’m typing on a machine that is more powerful than the one that sent men to the moon and I’m supposed to just unplug the thing to make it better? Maybe if NASA had simply unplugged Mission Control during the near-disaster of Apollo 13, all that trouble would have been avoided. My guess is that when the computer is unplugged it is a signal to the gremlins to stop laughing and get back to work. Gremlins are well-known pranksters.

Right now, the gremlins are randomly changing the size of my internet windows. I thought it was me, but I took both hands off the touch pad mouse and it still just randomly changes size.

I have my father’s old slide rule in my desk and it’s never changed a thing about itself. It’s never needed an update and it isn’t incompatible with the printer which we used to call a “typewriter.” Come to think of it, I never heard Dad curse that slide rule, either. Perhaps, the real investment into which Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and those people have sunk their money is in drug companies that specialize in hypertension medication. It would explain quite a bit. . . . Oh, I just got an error message. I think I’ll just download that slide rule several times across this computer and see if that fixes things. If not, into the pot of boiling chicken noodle soup it goes.

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Finding a Diamond in the Corn

One of the most enjoyable stops on our recent baseball sojourn to the Midwest was visiting League Stadium in Huntingburg, Indiana, home of the Dubois County Bombers of the Ohio Valley League (OVL). The OVL is a summer collegiate circuit as is Virginia’s Valley Baseball League.

The ballpark itself is a delightful time machine that whisks fans back to the 1940s as you’ll see in the video below. The producers of A League of Their Own certainly thought so when they discovered, and then refurbished the park, using it as the home field of the Rockford Peaches. The World War II era atmosphere is given a big boost by the Bombers’ uniforms which are classic to say the least. Furthermore, the concessionaires and attendants wear replica Rockford Peaches uniforms, adding further to the vintage ambiance.

Local fans certainly embrace their ballpark and their team as 2,003 of them made their way through the turnstiles for what was the final regular season game the night Al and I attended. This is a very impressive figure, especially considering that the population of Huntingburg is approximately 6,000.

The game we witnessed began as a tight, well-played, contest that somehow transformed into a crazy, base-hit filled affair that ended inn a wholly unique way. The home-town Bombers lead 3-0 through five innings over the Madisonville Miners, when the latter suddenly struck a vein of singles. The Miners scored six in the sixth and five in the seventh, ultimately taking a 13-4 lead into the ninth. Three walks and two singles plated two runs in the bottom of the ninth and the Bombers had the bases loaded with two outs when the Minersville manager, lineup card in hand, came strolling out to the plate umpire. Dubois County had brought their right fielder in to record the final out in the top of the inning, thus sacrificing their designated hitter. However, the new right fielder batted in the old right fielder’s spot who was still in the game as the pitcher. The game ended when he was declared out for batting out-of-order, a run came off the board, and the Bombers lost 13-5 in a game that featured 31 singles out of 34 total hits. Neither Al nor I (nor it seemed anyone in the stands) had ever seen a game end in such a fashion.

(Note: As it turns out, the Dubois County Bombers won their first OVL championship, defeating those same Madisonville Miners by winning the final two games in a best of three series on July 31st.)

As was the case, however, seemingly wherever we went on this trip, it was the friendship extended to us that comprised the most memorable part of the experience. Mary and Mike Uebelhor of the Bombers were happy to have us shoot an episode of Off the Beaten Basepaths and gave us the run of the park. Naturally, we enjoyed talking college summer league baseball with them. All of the Peaches were friendly and knowledgeable. It is hard to tell if their excellent sense of fan service is a result of good training or is just their natural Midwestern inclination to hospitality. I suspect a combination of both. Two Peaches in particular, Joyce Lawrence and Alexa Rasche were very gracious in posing for photos. Even the first base umpire came over to the fence along the right field line and chatted between innings.

Knowing that one can drive across the Indiana countryside, through seemingly endless fields of tall and shimmering corn to find a community coming together on a warm summer night to root for their home town team is reassuring. The summer, the game, the sense of belonging bestowed upon two strangers from the East Coast are all reassuring. Some moments are eternal.

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A Warm Experience in Evansville

On July 18th, Al and I ventured to Bosse Field in Evansville, Indiana, on what may be mildly described as a warn evening. The heat index, which had risen to 113 during the day, was still over 100 degrees at game time, which was 7:05. Naturally, this did not deter us and we happily took our front row seats behind the home town Otters’ dugout.

The entrance to Bosse Field.

The entrance to Bosse Field.

Evansville is one of 14 teams in the independent Frontier League, which is now based in the Mid-West. This night, the Otters were taking on the Joliet Slammers. An independent league, as the name implies, is unaffiliated with Major League Baseball. The players play for the love of the game or for one more chance to get noticed by a major league organization. A league rule sets the team salary at $75,000 and yes, you read that correctly: That’s the salary cap for the entire team and so, these boys average a little over $3,000 per season given the 22 man roster. Players live with a host family each summer. Also by league rule, players must be under 27 years of age with the exception of one player per team who may be designated as a “veteran.” The veteran must be under 30 years of age. (Click here for official player eligibility rules.)

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Joliet center fielder, Charlie White, takes a strike in the first inning. Otters’ catcher is JD Dorgan.

Bosse Field, the Otters’ home, is what initially drew us to Evansville. Opened on June 17, 1915, Bosse Field is the third oldest professional ballpark in the country behind only Fenway Park (1912) and Wrigley Field (1914). The park was used as a set in A League of Their Own, the 1992 film about the All American Girls Professional Baseball League in which it served as the home ballpark of the Racine Belles. For a more in-depth look at Bosse Field, click here for a video history of the park, and here for David B. Stinson’s excellent post on Bosse.

Bosse Field is not just an old ballpark; it is a place where the wonderful ambience of ballparks past remains alive not only in the architecture, but also in the buzz from knowledgeable and friendly fans who fill the seats.

We saw an exciting 4-2 Evansville victory by the first place Otters, a team night whose 41-19 record makes them as hot as the night we attended. (The Otters continue to lead the Eastern Division as of this writing nine days later,) Neither the game, nor the ballpark, nor the heat was the most memorable aspect of our visit to Bosse Field, however. What we most enjoyed was warmth of a different kind—that which emanated from the fans with whom we sat. We talked at length with Dave Meyer, a local teacher and athletic director who was there with his dad and his daughter. A well-versed baseball fan in his own right, Dave was eager for us to meet General Manager Bix Branson who in turn was more than happy to take us to his office and show us the photo taken on the day that Bosse Field was officially opened one hundred years ago. Such congeniality was a given on our trip through Kentucky and Indiana, and I know I speak for Al when I say that this is the “souvenir” that we will most cherish whenever we reflect on our trip.

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Fans stand for the National Anthem.

Coming soon, a post on League Field in Huntingburg, IN.

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Our Road Trip By the Numbers

It’s good to be home, although it wasn’t good to be cutting the grass within a half an hour of being home. Al graciously agreed to help and we knocked out that chore. Our road trip to Louisville produced some interesting numbers:

1,468.9 miles traveled

6 times that we crossed the Ohio River

3 states to add to our list of places we have played (Kentucky, Indiana, & Ohio)

3 ballparks visited and 3 games attended

2 barbecue shacks visited (one in Kentucky and one in Indiana)

2 Hooters visited (Of course; they tend to come in pairs, although one was in Indiana and the other in Kentucky.)

1 World War II ship visited.

The Hillerich & Bradsby Factory and Museum

The Hillerich & Bradsby Factory and Museum

1 giant bat found

It became impossible to count the number of friendly, hospitable people that we encountered on the trip, but it is a topic I am happy to blog about at some point. Later in the week, I hope to detail our stop at Bosse Field, and in the near future, I will post a video about League Stadium and our wonderful evening there.

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Craziness at the Reds Game

Al and I had a great time at the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati this afternoon,

Great American Ballpark

Great American Ballpark

despite the heat and a strong thunderstorm that delayed the bottom of the first for (officially) 47 minutes. The ballpark is beautiful with fantastic views of the Ohio River, one of the advantages of sitting one row from the very top of the stadium.

Al takes his swings.

Al takes his swings.

Before the game, we took some swings in the batting cage outside the ballpark proper, which means, therefore, that we have now added Ohio to the places we have played. (Hey, it was all that we could do because we’re pretty sure that they wouldn’t let us play catch in the middle of I-71 although they might have because once again, everyone loved our shirts.

As for the game itself, the Indians won 5-3 in 11 innings, despite stranding 18 runners, thanks to four bases loaded walks in four different innings. The last time the Reds walked in four runs was 45 years ago in September of 1970. This is in keeping with some strange things that we’ve seen in ballgames this trip. As it was, the Indians took a 3-2 lead into the bottom of the ninth, but Cincinnati rallied with two outs and none on to tie the score.

Hey! I'm talking about the view of the river.

Hey! I’m talking about the view of the river.

Fittingly, the winning run was walked home in the top of the 11th. We enjoyed the final four frames from the comfort and air-conditioning of the Newport, Kentucky Hooters. The view there is fantastic.

We made it as far as Williamstown, Kentucky after the game, which is a bit north of Lexington. Tomorrow we re-cross those 1,029 West Virginia mountains and hopefully, arrive safe at home.

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Heat & Highlights

Al and I have had many adventures since I wrote less than 48 hours ago. Our trip has now covered over 700 miles, which is about the same number of degrees it is outside. We have managed to visit the Ohio River Valley during the first week in which any serious summer heat has set in. And it is serious. As we were coming back from lunch here in Evansville, Indiana, the heat index was 113. Good thing we played some ball in the cutest little park we’ve ever seen.

In Garvin Park near Bosse Field along Don Mattingly Drive in Evansville, IN.

In Garvin Park near Bosse Field along Don Mattingly Drive in Evansville, IN.

It must have been built for four year olds; regardless, we can now add the State of Indiana to places we have played.

From there we visited LST325, the only original such craft left from World War II.

LST 325

LST 325

This ship landed supplies to American troops late in the day on June 6, 1944, making 40 such trips from England in total. It is anchored on the Ohio River in Evansville, because interestingly enough, Evansville boasted the largest inland ship yard during the war and cranked out over 100 such craft.

Tonight we head to Bosse Field to see the Evansville Otters of the independent Frontier League play, but it was last night which provided us with our highlight so far. We saw the Dubois County Bombers play in League Stadium,

League Stadium, Bombers v Madisonville Miners, July 17, 2015

an event that proved to be one of the most enjoyable baseball experiences that I’ve ever had. The Bombers lost 13-6, but the ballpark and the folks who run the Bombers helped make our visit a delight. A big thanks to Mary and Mike Uebelhor for their hospitality, as well as to all the employees who went out of their way to make us (and everyone, for that matter) feel welcome. Any ballpark aficionado needs to make a pilgrimage to League Stadium.

Another special thanks to Peaches Joyce and Alexa!

Two peaches and a plum.

Two peaches and a plum.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll provide more detailed posts about our adventures upon returning home and of course, we have several more to go!

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A Lot of Miles and A Little Baseball

As is often the case whenever Al and I travel together, we manage to find great ballparks and delicious barbecue joints. The former we found in Cannonsburg, Kentucky as we were heading to lunch. The Luther E. Craig Baseball Complex is a beautiful Lion’s

Our old Kentucky ballpark.

Our old Kentucky ballpark.

Club ballpark complete with enclosed press box, a covered grand stand, and a beautiful, level, soggy field. This last feature is a result of the tremendous rainfall that has covered this part of the country. Every river, run, and puddle that we crossed was high and muddy. In fact, at one point, a gentleman came over to the field and we feared that he was going to invite us to leave. Instead, he invited us to help push the lawn tractor out of a marshy spot over on the football field. We were happy to oblige.

We are in Frankfort tonight and will head to Louisville and the H & B Factory and Museum in the morning. We ventured into Staxx Barbecue in Frankfort tonight as recommended by the desk clerk here at the Bluegrass Inn. Staxx was delicious and not likely to be our last stop at a barbecue shack.

We covered 480 miles today; 200 of which were across the country and 280 of which were simply up and down about 1,029 hills between Williamsport and Frankfort. Those 1,029 hills were populated by roughly 29 people. If a market for tree-filled mountains in the middle of nowhere ever develops, then West Virginia will be well on its way to being the richest state in the Union.

I’m not sure when the next post will appear, but it should be no later than Saturday afternoon. Keep following our trip on Twitter @austingisriel

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