Posted in Baseball, New York Mets

The 2018 Queens Baseball Convention is less than two weeks away

The 2018 Queens Baseball Convention is happening next Saturday, January 20th.

Developed as a fan-run fanfest for the New York Mets, the QBC offers us a chance to get excited about baseball again during a long, cold winter.

Current Mets players Brandon Nimmo and Chris Flexen, and former Mets star Todd Hundley will be holding panels and signing autographs. Mr. Met will also be making an appearance. Gary Apple and Jon Harper will host a live (non-televised) version of SNY’s Hot Stove show. There will also be vendors and more.

I’m planning to spend next Saturday at Katch Astoria. There are still a limited number of tickets available at www.queensbaseballconvention.com. If you see me there, please say hi.

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Posted in Odds & ends

A word for 2018: Joy

JoyThis Sunday, my church celebrated Epiphany. Epiphany is the religious holiday commemorating the visit of the Magi who followed the star to find the Christ child. It emphasizes that Jesus is a gift for both the Hebrew people and gentiles alike.

One of the ways that churches mark the holiday is by giving out paper stars with words written on them for us to reflect upon throughout the new year. Rather than giving us a random word, our pastor today asked us to think about the joy of Christmas… how we see it in our lives, and how we can share it with others.

And you know what? That’s good advice at any time, but in 2018? We need to fight to hold onto joy and to share it with others where we can.

Individually, we cannot fight all the injustice in the world or bring about peace. But we can look for ways to help. Maybe that looks like calling your politicians about issues that are important to you. Maybe it looks like running for office or starting a non-profit to address those issues more directly.

Maybe it just means checking on your lonely or elderly neighbor, or noticing and acknowledging the homeless person who’s looking for money or food instead of pretending that you don’t see them. Maybe it’s even just offering a kind word or a smile, because that’s all we can do in that moment.

So I’m going to try to hold onto the joy of Christmas throughout the year, and share it with others as much as I can. Who else is with me?

Posted in Odds & ends

Inspiration in imperfection

It was way too cold to do anything that involved leaving the house today, so I ended up watching the U.S. Figure Skating championships on tv for part of the day.

At their best, figure skaters seem like magical beings who can defy gravity in ways that the rest of us can only dream about. And of course, that mastery only comes through many, many hours of practice and a lifetime of dedication.

And that’s amazing – you can probably count on your fingers the number of people in the world who can skate like Nathan Chen, and I bet there’d be some fingers left over.

But as impressive as Chen was at the end of the night, I keep thinking back to earlier in the day when we watched skaters who did not come as close to perfection. The ones who fought to land their jumps even though they weren’t fully rotated and wouldn’t count for the anticipated points total. The ones who fell and got back up again without missing a beat to finish their routines

Those skaters had to know that their mistakes had likely cost them any shot at the podium that they might have had, but they were able to set that aside and keep going. When so many things are going wrong and the whole world feels broken, I’m finding more inspiration and beauty in those flawed performances than I did in perfection.

Figure-skates-1
Image by en:User:Dr.frog (en:Image:Figure-skates-1.jpg) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Posted in Lego, Star Wars, Toy Photography

New beginning (1/52)

New beginning #StarWars #Lego

A post shared by Paul (@pwhphotos) on

Last year, I tried to share a new photo on my toy photography Instagram account every day. I managed to keep up with it into April, but it felt more like work than play.

I enjoyed the challenge and I think it helped me improve as a photographer, but there were a lot of days that I didn’t have any good ideas or really feel like taking pictures.

This year, I’m trying for a more modest goal of at least one photo per week. If I share more than one photo per week, I will choose my favorite to post here on Friday.

The picture above features Lego Rey and BB-8 minifigures on their way to a new adventure. I like the theme and composition, but if I re-did the photo, I’d take a bit more time with the background.

Posted in Gardening, Odds & ends

A glass of spring…

Snow DSCN7127

The northeast has resembled Hoth for the past couple of weeks, with today bringing our first significant snowstorm of 2018. It’s supposed to get even colder this weekend.

But the two most recent additions to our plant menagerie will help remind me that spring is on the way, and that should make it a little bit easier to get through the winter.

January 6th update:

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Posted in Baseball, New York Mets

Hoping the Mets emerge from hibernation

We’re about six weeks away from the start of MLB spring training, and most of the best free agents are still looking for jobs. So there’s still time and opportunity for the Mets to make some moves to improve their club for the 2018 season.

And that’s a good thing, because so far all they’ve done is lock up reliever Anthony Swarzak for the next two years. It could just be a negotiating position, but so far GM Sandy Alderson looks like he’s planning to go into 2018 with substantially the same roster that he had at the end of last season – a year where the Mets lost 92 games and scored just 735 runs while allowing 863.

If the Mets can avoid key injuries — no guarantee for any organization, especially this one — they will be better than they were last year. But still, it’s hard to believe that the current team is likely to have a record much better than the .500 mark.

John Harper is the latest columnist to call on the Mets to loosen the purse strings to compete before the window that opened with the 2015 playoff run closes completely. There’s a fan movement to boycott until Fred and Jeff Wilpon and Saul Katz sell the team.

I understand where that fan anger is coming from, but I don’t think this is a battle I want to fight.

I’ll savor the experience of being at the ballpark on the one or two occasions I go to Citi Field this summer. I’ll put games on as background noise when I’m home. I’ll enjoy the great performances we get from players like Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Yoenis Cespedes and Amed Rosario.

And if the Mets stop being fun at all, I will stop paying attention to them.

Here’s hoping it doesn’t come to that.

Posted in Odds & ends

We survived

980xWe made it through another year. It’s felt like the worst year ever to me every year since 2013, so I’ve kinda given up thinking things will get better just because I put up a new blank calendar.

But we made it through 2017, even if it did really suck at (a lot) of points along the way. And for all the bad, there were some great memories along the way.

I visited Florida, flew on a plane for the first time, and saw baseball games in two parks I’d never been to before. I almost caught a football at the arena-league championship game. I spent time with friends. I learned to be a slightly better photographer than I was when the year started.

I hope that you all had your own great memories of 2017. Maybe you don’t even think the year sucked.

I hope that 2018 is a good year. I do. But I realize that its not all going to be roses. Our country is more divided than ever — we live in a time where people don’t just have their own sets of opinions, but their own sets of facts as well. Even in fandom circles, there is so much fighting that there’s little respite from reality to be found there.  Health problems don’t get better just because of date change, either.

I stopped making New Year’s resolutions years ago, because I’ve never been able to keep them. But I still set some New Year’s goals for 2018:

  • Fight for the things that matter to me, and let go of the things that don’t
  • Spend time with the people that I care about
  • Focus on being happy – as the Doctor says,  “Everything ends and it’s always sad. But everything begins again and it’s always happy. Be happy.”

Here’s to the adventure that awaits us in 2018