Posted in Odds & ends

Hello again

Here I am, taking a selfie to show that I don't have the sense to come in out of the snow

Um, wow… last time I posted something here I wrote about planting something in our garden. Today we saw our first snow of the season.  😮

This morning, I read something that Jenny Lawson wrote about blogging. The Bloggess talks about how people write blogs for various reasons, ranging from wanting to change the world to wanting to share cat pictures.  

But mostly for me blogging is a way to say, “Hi.  I’m here.  You’re here too.  We’re a little less alone than we were yesterday.”

— Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess

And that really struck a chord with me. Sometimes, I write because I have something to say. Sometimes I want to entertain you. But mostly, I write to share a little bit of myself and feel a little bit less alone if someone reads it.

And lately, I haven’t been writing. Partly that’s been me being busy with other stuff going on in my life. Mostly it’s been me isolating myself and listening to my doubts and anxieties. I don’t want to keep doing that.

So here I am. Here you are. Take a moment to say “hello” if you like.

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Posted in Odds & ends

So that happened… (Monday, Sept. 24, 2018)

Balloon-Flowers

Monday might be when you had to go back to work, but it ended up being my day off this week. Happily, the weather cooperated and let me work in our garden today. Mostly, that involved getting areas ready to put to bed for the winter in a few more weeks. But I also planted the balloon flowers I accidentally found and purchased on Saturday. I think they should have enough time to settle in before we get our first frost, and they should look really nice next summer.

* * *

Lord-of-the-PitElections are just a few weeks away… I got my mail-in ballot today. My other piece of non-junk mail? A Magic: the Gathering Lord of the Pit card that I’d purchased from UntappedGames.com last week. Coincidence?

But seriously, make sure you vote in this election. If you’re not happy with the way things are going, this is your chance to make your voice heard.

* * *

There were two passings of note to sci-fi film fans this weekend: Gary Kurtz, who produced Star Wars and The Dark Crystal, died Sunday at age 78 and Al Matthews, who played the cigar-chomping Sgt. Apone in Aliens, died Saturday at age 75.

* * *

I got to watch the new Bleach live-action movie today (thanks, Netflix!) and it is amazing! The film succeeds in bringing the major elements of the first arc of the anime to life. The actors playing Ichigo, Rukia, Renji and Byakuya are all perfect. If you’re familiar with the story from the anime series or the original manga, you should definitely check it out. And if you’re looking for something a little bit spooky for October (and don’t mind subtitles), keep Bleach in mind..

Posted in Autographs

August autographs (part 3): entertainment

Time to finish up my August autograph collection additions before it’s time to show you the September ones. We’ve already gone through my football and baseball ones, so that just leaves entertainment.

This is going to be a short post, since there’s only one.

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This signed photo of Lindsey Morgan as Raven Reyes from The 100 was a bargain purchase from one of my Facebook groups. While I don’t have plans to try to put together a large collection from The 100, I couldn’t pass up the chance for a signed photo of one of the best characters on the show.

September’s autograph roundup will be coming in a couple more weeks, and it should be shorter than this month’s since I haven’t been sending out quite as many letters.

Posted in Autographs, Baseball, Baseball Cards

August autographs (part 2): baseball

I’m running a bit behind my original plans, but let’s continue to take a look at the autographs I added to my collection in August.

The first six were obtained by writing to the player, in care of their team if they are still active or via a home address obtained from SportsCollectors.Net if they are retired. The final two were purchases.

Austin-DeCarrAustin DeCarr is a New York Yankees prospect who’s had his career delayed by Tommy John surgery. He spent his 23-year-old season with the Class-A Charleston River Dogs, where he pitched 36 innings out of the bullpen. DeCarr struck out 39 while walking 25, which is probably not quite what the Yankees were hoping for from their 2014 third round draft pick.

Kevin-ElsterKevin Elster was one of my favorite New York Mets players in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He was an amazing defensive shortstop who could hit the occasional home run, but he didn’t always have the best batting average (we cared about that back then.)

Gosuke-KatohGosuke Katoh is another New York Yankees prospect who is running out of time to make an impression. Katoh was named a post-season all-star by Baseball America in his debut season back in 2013, but he’s not been able to match that level of performance as he moved up the ladder. Katoh spent his age-23 season with the Double-A Trenton Thunder, where he posted a 229 / .327 / .335 slash line in 118 games. He was 11-17 in stolen base attempts and played games at every infield position as well as left field.

Jordan-FoleyJordan Foley is another Yankees prospect who spent the year with the Double-A Trenton Thunder. Foley pitched 66.1 innings in his age-25 season, making 35 relief appearances and two starts. He struck out 67 while walking 35.

Pat-NeshekPat Neshek is the foremost autograph collector among active Major League Baseball players, and one of the few who genuinely seems to enjoy signing autographs, even after 12 big league seasons. Neshek has pitched 22 innings in 27 games, striking out 14 while walking three out of the Philadelphia Phillies’ bullpen this year.

Carson-FulmerCarson Fulmer made eight starts for the Chicago White Sox this year before getting pulled from the rotation and demoted to the minor leagues for his 8.07 ERA. In Triple-A, he was only slightly better – he posted a 5.32 ERA in 25 appearances (14 in relief) for the Charlotte Knights. I still love the signed card for the awesome throwback uniform Fulmer is rockin.’

Seth-LugoSeth Lugo is a New York Mets pitcher who’s been hurt by his versatility this season. While he’d probably prefer to start, first-year manager Mickey Callaway has preferred to use Lugo out of the bullpen. In 51 appearances and 98 innings, Lugo is 3-4 with a 2.74 ERA. I was able to purchase this card for 99 cents plus shipping on eBay, even though it was one of the two guaranteed autographs out of a product that goes for $50 or more for a box.

PJ-ConlonP.J. Conlon earned some notoriety for his Irish-American ancestry when he made his Major League debut earlier this season, but he struggled in his three appearances with the Mets and spent most of the year in the minor leagues. Conlon was even briefly part of the Dodgers’ organization, thanks to a move that exposed him to waivers when the Mets needed to open a 40-man roster spot. They were able to reclaim him in June. This purchase cost me $2.75 plus shipping.

I’ll be back later with Part 3, including my entertainment autographs.

August Autographs Part 1: Football 

Posted in Odds & ends

So that happened: Monday, September 17, 2018

The world is still falling apart at an ever-faster pace. But trying to be positive, at least the weather cooperated to let me work in my garden on one of my mornings off.

That meant I got to catch up on some podcasts, and I want to share a couple of recent Escape Pod episodes with you. On September 6 & 13, they presented Andrea Phillips’ 2017 story “The Revolution, Brought to You by Nike” and it’s got just the right mix of optimism and cynicism to match my current mood. 

Photo of the Day

Here’s a friendly spider that’s taken up residence on our porch & is helping to keep other insects from bothering us.

I hope you’re all having a good week. Let me know if you’ve found any interesting podcasts that you want me to check out.

Posted in Autographs

August autographs (part 1): NY Football Giants

I started working on my New York football Giants autograph collection this summer, and it shows as the majority of signed cards I got back last month are from former NFL players.

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Don Herrmann is a New Jersey native who had nine seasons in the NFL from 1969-1977, playing for the New York Giants and New Orleans Saints.

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Larry Heater played in the NFL for three seasons between 1980 and 1983, all with the New York Giants.

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Randy Dean spent three seasons in the NFL as a backup quarterback for the New York Giants between 1977 and 1979. Dean was also a member of the United States handball team in the 1976 Summer Olympics.

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Jerry Hillebrand was spent nine seasons in the NFL for the New York Giants, St. Louis Cardinals, and the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1962-1970. In 1962, he was selected in the first round of the NFL draft by the Giants. The Denver Broncos also picked him in the second round of the AFL draft.

 

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Lou Slaby spent three seasons in the NFL between 1963 and 1966, playing for the New York Giants and the Detroit Lions. Slaby was named to the 1964 UPI All Rookie team in 1964.

Of course, I also got some baseball autographs too, which I’ll show off tomorrow.

Posted in Baseball, Odds & ends

Monday roundup: summer, Magic & baseball broadcasts

PSX_20180904_002312

Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer. Someone should tell Mother Nature, because it’s still 81 degrees as I write this — a half hour before midnight — and we’re looking at highs in the 90s for much of the week.

Looking back, I feel like this was the summer that wasn’t. If I wasn’t working, it was either too hot or too rainy to do a lot of the things that I would’ve liked to do. And then there were the days that it was a challenge to make myself do anything. Here’s hoping that your summer was better than mine, and that fall will be better to us all.

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My local grocery store has a vending machine near the entrance with various sports cards, Pokemon cards and Yu-gi-oh cards in it. Today it had some envelopes of 10 assorted Magic: The Gathering cards for $1. I bought a couple.

I played Magic a bit in the mid-1990s. It’s a fun collectible card game that puts you in the role of a wizard dueling another wizard. You each build a deck of cards, with lands that you can tap for mana to summon creatures and cast spells, creatures that can battle your opponent or her forces, and spells that you can cast that have a variety of effects.

1536024617096-dd5e8ba9-cfe7-440b-9b68-2170d76f7063_ Obviously, I wasn’t going to find anything especially rare or valuable in a repack package from a vending machine. But there were some “new” old cards that have some cool art, and they inspired some nostalgia. I’d like to start playing Magic again, though I’ve gotta admit that I’m a bit intimidated by the thousands of cards that have come out since I last played. And it’s not helping that I don’t know anyone who still plays.

But hey, participating locations will be holding open house events to promote the new Guilds of Ravnica during the weekend of Sept. 21-23. Amazing Heroes in Union is listed to run an open house on Saturday, Sept. 22… if I’m not working, maybe I’ll be able to go and check it out.

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Over the weekend, I read an article by Richard Dyer calling for a revolution in baseball broadcasting. While his modest proposal isn’t entirely practical, he’s not wrong. Baseball’s traditional broadcast formula, which pairs an ex-player analyst with play-by-play man and a sideline reporter, has worked for a number of years and still works for part of MLB’s audience. But it doesn’t work for everyone.

For each baseball broadcast, create a menu of commentary choices for fans. Have just one visual presentation, but allow fans to pick the style of broadcast they want to hear.

Watch your game, but pick from these broadcast menu choices:
1. Traditional play-by-play guy/color guy broadcast.

2. Sabermetric broadcast (which has already been done several times by Brian Kenny on the MLB Network). Brian Kenny, SABR President Vince Gennaro, or ESPN’s Keith Law, to name a few.

3. Comedian and humorist broadcast. Bill Murray, Jerry Seinfeld, Hank Azaria (“Brockmire”), Paul Rudd, or Triumph the Insult Comic Dog (Robert Smigel). Let’s have some real laughs for once.

Dyer suggests five other menu choices which is at least five more than would be feasible. But really, why couldn’t you offer some different options for different fans? You might just manage to build baseball’s audience.