Archive for March 7th, 2005

Spring Training Tour

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The unfortunate incidents of the past semester are rapidly fading
into the water-under-the-bridge file, and the Dowbrigade is happily turning
his attention to his upcoming two-continent, three-sport Spring Training
Expedition.

On Tuesday of next week, (3/15) we will be flying down
to sunny southern Florida for five days of decompression and hobo wannabe
wandering.  We
had hoped to catch a game or two of Red Sox Spring Training, only to
find via the
Sox
web site
that all of the tickets to the games Wednesday and Thursday
are sold out! In addition, all of the reasonably priced hotels in the
Fort Meyers-Cape Coral-Naples area report they are fully booked the night
of our arrival!

But we will have time on our hands and a late-model
mid-sized rental car waiting at for us at the Fort Meyers airport, so
we figure we can cruise the
highway and find some dive for the first night.  Then we will go
to the ballpark Wednesday and see if we can pick up a ticket on the
spot.  If
not, there are a dozen other major league teams in the area, and we are
confident we can get in to see SOMEBODY play Wednesday or Thursday. Thursday
afternoon we are planning to drive across Alligator Alley to the East
Coast, and drop in to visit Old Crazy Harold in Boca Raton for a couple
of days.

Harold is a testament to the American Dream and the power of psychotropic
pharmaceuticals. A German immigrant who married an American Jewish Princess
who ended up at the Harvard Law School, we met him over a beer-stained
chess board in the Plow and Stars, an Irish dealers bar between Harvard
and Central Squares in Cambridge, back in the late 80’s. Harold used
to work for Digital
Equipment Corporation
, until one day after leaving
work he noticed boxes and boxes of obsolete IC’s and circuit boards in
a dumpster in the parking lot. He loaded most of them into the back of
his Datsun hatchback and after posting to a few mailing lists he cleared
almost a hundred grand.  He promptly quit his job and has been buying
and selling excess inventory as well as all sorts of rare and obsolete
electronic components ever since.

Part of Harold’s charm, in addition to his thick, Kissingeresque accent
and eclectic, omnivorous intellect, is his heroic struggle with bi-polar disorder,
which, until he learned to NOT stop taking his medication, led to legendary
episodes of hopscotching across Europe one step ahead of maniacal Nazi
hit squads and intimate familiarity with mental health facilities in
a half-dozen countries. Now, older and wiser, he tosses back a half-dozen tabs and capsules a day, and if he misses the wild highs and flights of fancy he is happy to relegate them to the relm of memory in return for doing the same to the nightmares of involuntary committment and the desolate landscapes of depression.

Ten years ago, his marriage a casualty of his disease and his wife’s
soaring post-Harvard ambitions, he relocated to tax-free Florida, where
he has established a local network of like-minded European ex-pats, tax
fugitives,
members of obscure Hasidic sects and that peculiar breed of sun belt
conspiracy theorists that infect Florida and Southern California Starbucks
like fruit flies around a bin or brown bananas. They are a fun crowd,
if preparing for the Apocalypse is your idea of a good time, and we are
looking forward to catching up on the latest portents of doom.

Then, Sunday the 20th, we will be flying down to Guayaquil, Ecuador,
where our favorite soccer team, the New
England Revolution
, will be playing
THEIR preseason games against top local teams Barcelona (22nd) and Emelec
(24th). From there, we plan to bus it up the coast to our pending retirement
relocation destination, Manta, for a week of two-a-day Spring Training
tennis. We are sure we can get a one-week pass to the Manta
Tennis Club
and rejoin the Doubles at Dawn gang, including the
Mayor
, the Rector,
and the Architect. Hopefully, by the time we get back to Boston on April
6th, the snow will be off the courts and we can show off our slick tricks
and new licks to our local squad, the "Just Don’t Suck" bank of the
Charles weekend warriors tennis gang.

Meanwhile, we wonder if any Dowbrigade readers in southern Florida would
be up for a game during the five days we will be down there. Although
he claims to play, old Harold has put on so much weight in the past few
years he can barely get from his computer to his car for the ride to
Starbucks. When we took him to Peru on the drive up into the Andes he
turned blue and almost passed out when we got up above 12,000 feet.  He
blamed it on his medication.

We would be interested in hearing from any readers or bloggers in the
Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Boca area for a possible meet-up. Spring training,
here we come!