Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Some Things That I Am Thankful For

In the run-up to the Thanksgiving holiday, which is celebrated this Thursday in the United States, everyone is compelled to share what it is they are thankful for. Of course my list includes family, friends, America, and ice cream. But I’d rather give recognition to some items which are less obvious.

This list is incomplete and in no particular order. I’m thankful for…

The Windows in My Living Room

Really? You bet.

I have two large windows- one which looks out on the street and the other which looks out on the ocean. After I stare into the abyss of my dual computer screens for a while, I pull back, rotate to my left, and gaze out these windows. This invigorates me, and I become reacquainted with reality. Until recently, however, there was a problem. Because I have an eastern and southern exposure on this side of the house, bright sunshine would often blast into the room, making me feel like an accused spy being interrogated under a hot lamp. Because I wasn’t able to operate the shades myself, I was left with either no view out of the windows or excessive sunlight, depending on how Kim had adjusted the shades before leaving for work. Therefore, a few months ago we made what turned out to be a wonderful purchase. I now have remote control blinds that I can adjust to any position, any time. And I do tweak those babies often throughout the day. I’m very thankful for my windows, and my window blinds.

The picture on the top-right is the sunrise as seen from my living room. It's not pristine, but it doesn't suck either.

The IBot Team

This includes: Gary Lawson, Charles Bogle, and everyone else at America’s Huey 091 Foundation; Max Burt, creator of savetheiBot.org; Dean Kamen, Joe Goodwin, and the rest of the team at DEKA Research and Development.

These folks and many others are focused on reviving the manufacture and sale of this incredible mobility device. For their effort and dedication, I am thankful. Wish us luck.

My Medical Team

This includes: Dr. Muscat, my awesome neurologist; Dr. Freedman, my very caring primary care physician, and her team at Martin’s Point Health Care; Dr. Aronson, my oncologist, and his folks who inject me intrathecally with methotrexate every eight weeks or so; my physical therapists Gabe Redmond and Jodi Mitchell and my occupational therapist Maren Nagem.

I know that these people are well compensated for what they do, but I feel that their compassion is authentic nonetheless. Because of my various medical challenges, this team has their collective fingers plugging countless holes in the dike, and for that I am most thankful.

All the Stuff in My Immediate Neighborhood

Two major grocery stores, City Hall, the post office, my bank, my eye doctor and my primary care physician, outstanding caf├ęs and lunch counters, a variety of medium and higher-end restaurants, a useful and not yet dilapidated strip mall, several city parks, Bug Light Park in particular, the bridge to Portland, the butcher shop and market I can see from my kitchen window, and the cozy bar down the street. But most of all I’m thankful for my cool neighbors and the many friends that I have made here in the last two years.

The Internet

If I had MS prior to the existence of the internet, and stayed home most days, I think my situation might not be so tenable. I don’t know what I would do all day if not for the enrichment I receive from the internet. On the other hand, disabled people in the future will have some other, yet to be invented item on their list, which they won’t be able to conceive of having lived without. Still, I’m extremely thankful for my internet access.

The Health Problems That I Don’t Have

Yes, by any measure I’m in pretty rough shape medically. But things could be worse. First, I could be in pain all day, every day, but I’m not. Second, I could have any number of conditions that are worse than MS. I probably will someday, like almost everyone eventually does, but I’m thankful that said day has not yet arrived.

My Mind

Is it conceited to say that I love my mind? I can’t help it. I’m glad I have a brain that is open to and curious about new ideas. I’m glad that I am contemplative and think for myself, rather than adhere blindly to political or religious dogma. Perhaps most importantly I’m glad that I have a mind which tends toward contentment rather than gloominess. Sure, I wish I was more intelligent and witty, and that I had a better memory. I wish my brain function hadn’t been damaged by MS. But all in all I’m very thankful for the squishy blob of neurons and synapses which occupies the space between my ears.

Canvas Wrapped Artwork

This is our latest thing, and I wanted to share it with you. If you’re not familiar with the concept, click here. We have two beautiful pictures hanging on our wall, which were made from photographs I took, and then wrapped on canvas. Here they are, below, first the source photo and then the finished product.

We also have two professional photographs that are canvas wrapped. We purchased these at separate “Art in the Park” shows nearby. Some may consider this to be less than fine art, but I don’t care. I really love this medium. It’s relatively affordable, generally appealing to look at, and something that I can actually create myself (through a vendor).

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A Piece I Wrote is Published

2010 06 15 I’m an engineer, not an author. I know great writing, and this is not that. I do feel that I have a compelling story to share, however, and I've been told that my writing helps some people work through their own challenges. My goal is to get this message out in a form that is as entertaining and readable as I can make it. The Multiple Sclerosis Foundation is helping that cause this month in their periodical called MSFocus. To read my article click here, and work your way to page 60. This magazine also enjoys a wide circulation in the printed form.

A couple of months ago I received an unsolicited email from the editorial coordinator at MSFocus. She had been reading my blog posts and liked one in particular. She asked if I would agree to have it published in their Men and MS column. I asked how much the gig would pay. She responded, "Nothing." I said, "Deal."

Over the years I have considered submitting pieces to various magazines for publication. But that might require some initiative on my part, so it just hasn’t happened. Or perhaps the problem is that making such an effort might either necessitate or compel an emotional investment in the quality of my writing. If I was to be emotionally invested in the quality of my writing, and it was to be rejected, then I would be sad. I don’t want to be sad. I’ll probably just sit back and let them find me again, like they did this time.

If this is your first visit to Enjoying the Ride, having read my piece in MSFocus, I welcome you. You’ll find this blog to be a roughly equal mixture of thoughtful contemplation and utter drivel. Some days I dabble in the profound, and other days I wallow in the profane. It’s a crapshoot.

If you’d like to get a flavor for this blog by reading just a few choice articles, instead of the roughly 300 that I have posted here, check some of these out:
To meet my incredible mother, who was a quadriplegic, click here.
If you need reality checks on your hopes and dreams, click here and here (hint: you probably do).

For instructions on how to select the ideal life partner, based on my personal experience, click here.

Being disabled can be wrought with indignities. For a few examples that all occurred in one weekend, click here.

Sometimes I write about earlier memories, before MS, like here.

Other times I wax philosophical, like I did here and here.

I’m not above offering unsolicited advice, like here, here, here, and here.

Once in a while I post about how I have maintained the pursuit of certain passions, like here.

I came up with lists of the 10 worst aspects of having MS, and the 10 best.

I made one attempt at poetry. I promise I won’t do it again (yet I’m obviously proud of myself since I included it here).
I have also thrown together a few YouTube videos. Most of them feature my amazing iBot wheelchair, but some videos address other subjects. My YouTube channel can be found here.

If you enjoy this content, feel free to share the link www.enjoyingtheride.com with others. I hope to see you here again soon.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Three Recommendations

Everybody is so busy today that they barely have time to deal with their ever-expanding responsibilities, let alone pause to watch something interesting or informative. And even if you do find a moment to sharpen the saw (we miss you Stephen Covey), who has time to sift through all the crap out there to find the stuff that’s worthwhile? Well, I do! Because I no longer work, and spend most days sitting in my wheelchair in front of my computer, I’ll be glad to take care of this for you.

#1: A Movie Called The Intouchables

Based in Paris, this is the true story about the interactions between a wealthy quadriplegic and his unconventional caregiver. If you’re in a wheelchair, stop what you’re doing and watch this movie right now. If you’re not in a wheelchair, you can go ahead and finish eating your dinner or cutting your toenails, or whatever else you may be doing, and then sit down and watch this movie!

#2: An Inspirational TED Talk about Using Technology to Help the Disabled

The presenter, Henry Evans, is a mute quadriplegic who is able to tap into cutting-edge technology to become re-engaged in the world around him. Very inspirational! Don’t be afraid to watch this – it won't make you uncomfortable.

#3: An Online Course Called The Big History Project

This one has nothing to do with disabilities.

Each of us endured our share of history courses in school, be it American, European, or ancient history. Also, we all managed to survive science courses where we were taught  facts about the universe, galaxies, and the solar system (except those of you who grew up in Louisiana). We all had at least one class focused on the Earth’s geology, environment, and/or biosphere. I recall that my freshman year Earth Science teacher had a speech impediment such that he pronounced the name of his course as Erf Science. Although many of my classmates were cruel, I felt bad for the guy. Couldn’t they have had him teach chemistry instead? Anyway…

I’m betting that none of you, however, was offered a single, all-encompassing course that tied everything together. There was no class that surveyed the history of our universe from the Big Bang to present day, broadly examining the series of events that led us to where we are today. Now there is such a course, and it’s awesome, and I just finished it.

The Big History Project is offered online, and free, because of a private group headed by Microsoft founder Bill Gates and historian David Christian. And the beauty of this course format is that you can take your sweet time. There are nine sections, and each one will take you approximately 30 to 45 minutes to complete. Maybe you could tackle just one section per week? If you do take the course, please let me know what you think. Here’s the link.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Don’t Make This Mistake

There will be no images used in the production of this blog post.

I received a letter in the mail recently from a law firm in another state. It was peppered with phrases such as:
… Unauthorized Use of Copyrighted Image… your website www.enjoyingtheride.com has, knowingly without a valid license or permission… unauthorized usage on your website… pursuant to… you are liable for… statutory damages between $750 and $30,000… not more than $150,000 per infringement… our client’s legal fees… immediately cease and desist…arrange a monetary settlement… we have been authorized to commence litigation… maximum statutory damages… etc.
I was accused of displaying someone else’s copyrighted image in a blog post in 2010. That person hired a lawyer to not only compel me take the picture down, but to negotiate a monetary settlement for the period of time that I used the picture. I thought that it must have been a mistake. I hurried to the subject blog post, and sure enough, there was a beautiful photographic image that belonged to this law firm’s client. Yes, I had put it on my blog (somewhere in the middle of the post) without permission or attribution. I could not have deleted that picture more quickly than I did.

The next decision I had to make was whether I needed to hire a lawyer for this, or whether I could try to resolve the issue myself. I chose the latter. I wrote a letter to the law firm, and asked them to pass it along to their client. My letter was peppered with phrases such as:
… I am in receipt of your letter… alleged copyright violations… I offer the following points for consideration… personal blog website, which sells no advertising and generates no income… no use of my legs… unable to work… Dragon NaturallySpeaking… inspired many people… pains me greatly that I might have caused anyone harm… never occurred to me that I might be committing any sort of copyright infringement… I apologize for my misuse of the image… need to continue producing compassionate blog posts for the disabled community… lesson learned on my part… etc.
Over the next few days I scoured my almost 300 blog posts to see if there were any other violations similar to this one. I now have a high degree of confidence that none of my posts will cause me this type of legal trouble in the future, and I will be oh so careful going forward.

A couple of weeks later I received a call from the law firm indicating that “It would be counterproductive to pursue this further. Since you’ve taken down the image we’ll consider this matter closed.”

I was quite relieved.

My point here is not to complain about what some may consider a disproportionate response by the photographer or his law firm. He was completely within his legal rights to pursue this matter the way he did. Who knows what he’s been through regarding copyright issues. My relatively benign infraction may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back, or I may have been part of a broader roundup of offenders. I know that I certainly wouldn’t like it if someone plagiarized my writing, for example. The important thing is that I learned from my mistake, and I was able to mitigate any financial ramifications.

Perhaps some of you can learn from my mistake as well. Just because something pops up in a Google image search doesn't mean it's free for the taking. There are many options for public domain images. A few of these are listed in this article. Also, if you are a blogger, there’s a program called Zemanta, which works hand-in-hand with WordPress or Blogger, and offers up suitable images that match the text in your post.

Whew, that was close…
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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Boston Stronger (part 4 of 4)

Click here for part 1.
Click here for part 2.
Click here for part 3.

Not only had the Red Sox succeeded, but Kim and I had as well. The tickets we purchased a couple of weeks earlier had turned out to be winners. As a skeptic, I refuse to accept the notion that anything is “meant to be” or that “everything happens for a reason”, but I’ll bite my tongue just this once if any of you feel compelled to make such an observation.

After the final pitch we stayed at Fenway and listened to interviews and speeches, and simply basked in the glow for a while longer. The stadium remained as full an hour after the end of the game as it had been during the game itself. When the festivities began to tail off, the time came for all but the most hard-core among us to start leaving the stadium.

When we got outside we were wedged in with the hordes of partiers exiting the local bars. The level of rowdiness went up another notch. We were mostly amused by the scene, at least for a while. It’s all good fun until somebody loses an eye, and we didn’t see anybody lose an eye.

Kim and I, as part of this mass of humanity, were herded off Lansdowne Street to the middle of Brookline Avenue, and then onto Newberry Street, and then Kenmore Street.  I feared, if only a little, that we were behaving too much like lemmings. At least we didn’t have to avoid traffic, because on this night there were no automobiles allowed near the stadium.

Kim doesn’t love these packed crowds, especially when I am navigating in balance mode in the iBot. But that’s the only way I like to move about in mobs. I don’t want my face down at ass level, unable to see what’s going on around me. I want to be standing tall so that I can plot a course.

Out of modesty I’ve refrained from making the following statement before, but I can resist no longer:

I am a highly skilled and slightly badass iBot pilot.

There you have it. If we’re in a mob and you get into my space, I will run over your toes, and it will hurt. But your response when that happens is to apologize to me for your carelessness and insensitivity. That’s apparently how it is supposed to go, because that’s what people keep doing. Kim is an exception. She bites back.

Finally, we were allowed to turn off Kenmore Street onto Commonwealth Ave. Out of nowhere, an obviously stoned Tigger and Eeyore darted in front of us, leaving startled looks and that characteristic aroma in their wake. It was after midnight and technically Halloween by then, so we shouldn’t have been surprised to see characters from storybooks come to life.

Commonwealth is one of the busiest avenues in Boston, but we were walking down the middle of the street, in the middle of the city, in the middle of the night. It was a bit surreal. Eventually we intersected with Massachusetts Avenue, and a few minutes later we arrived at our van. What a welcome sight it was.

On the drive home Kim indicated that she was extremely tired. After all, we had been staying up to watch the Red Sox play these late games for a couple of weeks. I did my best to keep her alert, and we were never so happy as when we pulled into our driveway at 3:00 in the morning. Kim had already informed her school that she wouldn’t be in to work until late on Thursday, and of course everyone understood. There is no more legitimate excuse in New England than “I had to watch the Red Sox win the World Series last night at Fenway Park.”

We will never forget where we were and what we experienced on October 30, 2013. We are so happy that we took the chance on going to the World Series. It could not have worked out better. But these types of outings, especially with the craziness of a World Series elimination game, can be taxing on us. So I don’t think we’ll do it again. Instead, we will scratch “watch the Red Sox win the World Series” off our bucket lists. Next item on mine: “wheelchair skydiving”.

Final Thoughts

Never mind the morality; I can’t even understand the strategy behind terrorism. It seems to create a lot of smoke, blood, and death. But it never advances the cause of the terrorists themselves. After the Boston Marathon bombings earlier this year, what series of events did the bombers foresee, in the wake of their destruction, which could possibly work in their favor? Do Bostonians feel less safe than they used to? Maybe a little. Are they more wary than before? Somewhat, I suppose. But today the people of Boston are more resolute, resilient, and united than ever. Despite the deaths and the maiming, Boston is tougher after the bombings than before, and it was already pretty tough.

As an outsider, living almost 2 hours away, I had the unique opportunity this year to see the city soon after the bombings, and then immediately after the World Series victory. Obviously, the atmosphere could not have been more different.

The passage of time, and the support of family and friends were probably the most important factors in the city’s recovery, but what about the baseball team? What role did they play?

After any tragedy, people need positive distractions. Some distractions can be planned and executed, but often it’s the unexpected ones that are the most effective. How about a last-place team winning game after game, and often in dramatic fashion? How about ballplayers, executives, and owners reaching out into the community, visiting victims, and helping out financially? How about a team honoring heroes and wounded during pregame ceremonies, carving a “B Strong” in their outfield, hanging a 617 jersey in their dugout, and so much more? As the summer wore on, rightly or wrongly, more and more people turned to this baseball team for inspiration, and they provided it.

I’m not saying that if the Red Sox hadn’t been such a good team that Boston would be significantly worse off than it is. But neither can the effect this team had on the city be denied. In the end, the Red Sox provided as much support as they possibly could have, by their compassion and yes, by bringing a championship to Boston that October day.

And on that day Boston healed like never before.

And on that day, Boston was stronger.

Note: It may seem like this blog has turned into the New England Sports Journal, but I assure you after this series of posts I’ll avoid the topic of New England sports for a while. I promise!

Watch the smoke from the fireworks settle down on the field.

Kim and I made it on television.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Boston Stronger (part 3)

Click here for part 1.
Click here for part 2.

The game started slowly. Through two and a half innings nobody scored a run. Then, in the bottom of the third inning, with the bases loaded and the crowd aching for something positive to happen, Shane Victorino lined a shot off the green monster (Fenway Park’s 37 foot tall left-field fence), scoring three runs. Behind the outstanding pitching of John Lackey, and three more runs in the bottom of the fourth inning, the Red Sox cruised to a 6 to 0 lead.

Although I was absolutely thrilled by these developments, I didn't allow myself to feel confident, per se, after what we Red Sox fans had endured in 1986. A part of me mentally prepared for an amazing comeback by the Cardinals.

I knew that my online friend, Joe, would be at the game.  I had emailed him our seat locations, and he and his wife, Victoria, showed up mid-game to introduce themselves in person. Below is a picture of the four of us. I love meeting up with folks I had previously known only through my computer. These encounters typically enrich the friendship. Plus, in our case we’ll always share this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

During games, I don’t consume many fluids because going to the bathroom takes so much time, and I hate to miss even a single pitch. Nevertheless, I usually have to use the bathroom at least once during a nine inning game. With the score 6 to 0 in the top of the seventh inning, and the Cardinals batting, I told Kim that we needed to make a run for the handicapped bathroom so that we wouldn’t miss any part of the last two innings.

Kim reached the handicapped bathroom first and looked back at me with a frown. There was a long line consisting entirely of youngish, healthy- looking people. She was upset, and rightfully so, because these apparent cheaters were going to keep us away from the game for a long time. However, I simply rolled up to the bathroom door in balance mode, acting as if I owned the place. I didn't even acknowledge the presence of these other people. When the door opened and someone walked out, the person in the front of the line looked at me, stepped aside, and said, “It’s all yours.” I quickly scanned the faces of the others in line, and there were no dissenters. A little assertiveness had done the trick.

When we returned to our seats, the Cardinals were rallying. But they were soon contained, and after seven and a half innings the score was 6 to 1. My resolve began to weaken. Against my better judgment, I allowed myself to believe, if only a little, that this might happen, and right in front of our very eyes.

Halfway through the eighth inning we drank in Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” like we always do. It's one of the highlights of every trip to Fenway. I described this tradition in a previous post:
On days when the Red Sox are losing it provides some consolation. On beautiful summer evenings, it confirms our love of the game. In postseason games that the Red Sox are winning, it can make you at least temporarily believe that all is right with the world, and maybe, just for that moment, it is.
Below is a video I took during the singing of Sweet Caroline in game six of the World Series. As you watch this, try to gain a sense of the shared joyfulness of 38,000 people united in song, counting down to a championship for their home team. It was awe-inspiring. (Note: if you are reading this in the body of an email you will have to go to the original post to watch the video.)

After Sweet Caroline, the last vestiges of my emotional safety net disappeared.  I was all in. The Red Sox were going to win this World Series, or I was going to crash (again).

In the top of the ninth inning we brought in our ace reliever, the Japanese pitcher Koji Uehara (yes the broad use of the pronoun “we” is intentional). As he jogged in from the bullpen the entire stadium exploded in sustained applause. This would be the final, climactic act in a season-long drama. Everyone stood up, including me in my iBot, and didn’t sit down again that evening. It took Uehara only 13 pitches to finish off the Cardinals.

I've tried unsuccessfully to find the words to describe what happened next. However, I can say this. Whether it was the residual frustrations of 95 years of never winning a World Series at home, or a lingering inability to feel comfortable, really comfortable, in this city since the April 15 Marathon bombings, or any other little thing that wasn't right in our lives at the moment, all of that was set aside and world was suddenly a brighter place. We knew this feeling could not last forever. Reality was waiting for us just around the corner. But as a group we accepted that it was our privilege and even our obligation to ride this wave of positivity for as long as we could. And we did. And none of us will ever forget it.

And here is our (rough) video of it.

Click here for part four.

Note: It may seem like this blog has turned into the New England Sports Journal, but I assure you after this series of posts I’ll avoid the topic of New England sports for a while. I promise!

Game Pictures

Post Game Pictures

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Boston Stronger (part 2)

Click here for part 1.

Game day, October 30, 2013, finally arrived. What kind of day would it be? Would the Red Sox lose, rendering it merely an interesting trip to Boston? Or would they persevere, making it an epic day because the Red Sox had not won a World Series at home since 1918?

The media trucks encircled Fenway like Conestoga wagons surrounding settlers on the prairie (picture on right). These television networks are built to maximize revenue. Therefore, instead of playing World Series games during the warmest part of the day, which would be best for the athletes and fans in attendance, they play these games late in the evening, late in October, even in northern cities like Boston. The official start time would be 8:07 PM. Don't hate the networks for this; they are only meeting their fiduciary obligation in a capitalist economy.

One of the many gifts MS has bestowed upon me is an intolerance for extreme temperatures, of the hot or cold variety. And by extreme, I mean more than 10° either side of 70°. Temps were predicted to drop through the 40s during the game, so I bundled up like a normal person would for ice fishing. I put on flannel lined pants and long johns. I wore insulated winter boots. I had two heavy, long sleeve shirts under my winter coat. I sported my Red Sox baseball cap, but packed a knitted hat just in case. To top things off, we threw heavy mittens and a blanket in the backpack as well.

Kim dressed more like a normal person would for temperatures in the 40s.

After finally locating a parking space for the van and then walking through Boston for 25 minutes, we slipped into Fenway Park, a spot I sometimes refer to as my Happy Place. Fenway Park is a prime candidate for the surreptitious spreading of my ashes, should I ever die.

There’s nothing quite like being in my iBot wheelchair, in balance mode, in front of huge throngs of people. I’m an absolute rock star, and I eat it up. I can’t remember how many people came up to me and asked questions about the iBot. I can't recall how many comments I overheard as people spoke to one another about my wheelchair. I’ll never know how many people saw me and reacted only with stunned silence.

Our seats were in the right field bleachers, an area of the park where we hadn’t sat in several years. These are the least expensive and rowdiest seats in Fenway. There is nothing luxurious here – just loud, diehard, obnoxious, often drunken fans. In front of the bleacher seats is a walkway, and in front of the walkway are the handicapped seats and spaces. Overlooking the visitors bullpen, we enjoyed an unobstructed, if distant, view of the entire field.

I was treated roughly. The drunks walking behind me couldn’t help but bump into my wheelchair about every 30 seconds. But it was okay. I knew what I was getting myself into when I bought tickets for bleacher seats!

As we wandered around Fenway before the start of the game, I kept running through the two competing scenarios in my head. Would I leave Boston this day having experienced the ecstasy of a World Series win, or would I leave consoling myself that I still had a good time, and that the Red Sox would have another chance to win the World Series the next day. The part of my brain in charge of minimizing exposure to potential heartbreak kept pushing the second scenario, but I wasn't necessarily buying it.

There was an unspoken agreement among the 38,000 fans that night. Although we were unusually outgoing and friendly to one another, this implicit contract prevented us from mentioning the historic event we might be about to witness. But while our mouths kept the secret, our hearts betrayed the truth. You could sense, simply by making eye contact, that each one of us hoped beyond hope that we would experience something special that night, and we would be satisfied with nothing less.

Click here for part 3.

Note: It may seem like this blog has turned into the New England Sports Journal, but I assure you after this series of posts I’ll avoid the topic of New England sports for a while. I promise!

Another note: There is a website called TagOramic that displays panoramic pictures of the crowd at baseball games. I was able to progressively zoom in on our exact location. See the series of photos, below:

Monday, November 4, 2013

Boston Stronger (part 1)

2013 10 500 I’ve quit the Red Sox a couple of times. Being a fan, at least the way I do it, requires a substantial time commitment and emotional investment. After the 2003 season, I reexamined my priorities, and the Red Sox didn’t make the cut. But I was weak. Within a few games of the new season, they pulled me back in. It worked out wonderfully, however, because in 2004 the Red Sox went on to win the World Series for the first time since 1918. Interestingly, I quit the Red Sox one more time after the disastrous 2012 season. But again, I was weak, and I couldn't stay away once spring arrived.

In 2013, the Red Sox went on to post the best regular-season record in baseball. On October 5, Kim and I attended a first round playoff game at Fenway Park against the Tampa Bay Rays. I wrote about it here. Long story short - Big Papi hit two home runs, and we had an incredible time. The Red Sox defeated the Rays in four games, advancing to the American League Championship Series. At that point the Red Sox started selling tickets for potential World Series games at Fenway Park, even though they hadn’t yet qualified. They began the process so early because of logistics, not overconfidence.

Kim broached the subject first. “Should we look into getting some World Series tickets?”

“All I can do is try. Which game would we want to go to?” I asked.

And this is where the magic happened.

We knew that if the Red Sox made it to the World Series they would be hosting the first two games on October 23 and 24. They would then travel to the National League park for games on October 26, 27, and possibly 28. If necessary, they would return to Boston for games on October 30 and 31.

Kim said, “I don’t want to see just any World Series game. Let’s try for game 6 or game 7. That way we at least have the chance - I know it would be a long shot - of seeing a clinching Red Sox victory. How cool would that be?”

"It wouldn't suck," I responded. My strategy in life is to downplay expectations, so that I am rarely disappointed. I agreed to give the ticket office a call the next day.

2013 10 056 When I dialed the special Red Sox disabled ticket number, I spoke to an agent almost immediately. He asked me which game I wanted to go to. I blurted out, “Game 6!” Done deal. We had two World Series tickets for the October 30 game coming in the mail. If the Red Sox didn’t make it to the World Series, or there was no game 6, they would issue a refund.

In order for us to be sitting in the stands and watching a Red Sox World Series victory on October 30, an improbable sequence of events would have to play out. First, the Red Sox would need to defeat the Tigers in the American League Championship Series. We followed each of those games intently, often late into the evenings. We were thrilled when the Red Sox closed out Detroit in six games. Step one was complete.

Next, we needed both the Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals (their opponent in the World Series) to win some and lose some early on, so that the series lasted at least six games. A dominant performance by either team, winning 4 games to 0 or 4 games to 1, would mean no game 6 at Fenway. The Red Sox won game 1 easily, by a score of 8 to 1. The Cardinals won games 2 and 3 by scores of 4 to 2 and 5 to 4. We became worried. In order for there to be a game 6, the Red Sox would need to win at least one of the two remaining games in St. Louis. They did, winning game 4 by the score of 4 to 2. Thus, we were assured of attending a World Series game. This felt good, but it became very important to us that the Red Sox win game 5, so that we couldn’t be subjected to watching the Cardinals win the World Series in front of our very eyes.

The Red Sox did go on to win game 5 in St. Louis by the score of 3 to 1. Not only would we be attending the game, but we might witness a World Series championship for the Red Sox in game 6.

Oh my...

Click here for part 2..

Note: It may seem like this blog has turned into the New England Sports Journal, but I assure you after this series of posts I’ll avoid the topic of New England sports for a while. I promise!