Monday, August 25, 2014

Relocation Program In Full Swing

I was able to trap seven raccoons back in May and relocate them to a location near a wooded area, a pond with tall grasses, and a middle school.  Just think about what a dumpster full of pre-teen lunch leftovers must be like for a raccoon!  Something akin to an all-you-can-eat salad bar I'm sure.

My dad needed his trap back during the summer for his own property, but it's now back in my possession and things are once again moving like clockwork. 

In my last coon related post I showed of a picture of a very large female, who we ironically named Heidi Klum.   Since then I've made three more deposits to the middle school, which is about seven miles from my house and across a two lane highway (55mph) and a four lane highway (65mph).  They will have to channel their inner "Frogger" if they wish to make it back to my neighborhood.

How about we meet the new masked volunteers for my relocation program?

Here's #9: Iggy Pop.
 Iggy was a crafty guy who managed to somehow pull a half-dozen rocks into the cage to keep him company.

Number #10 was a cute, but very confused little bugger.  This one kept trying to run through the walls of the wire crate.  I'm sure it had quite a headache after the first few collisions.
Name?  There's a ton of popular females whose first name starts with the letter J.  Jennifer Lopez seems sad that we named this one after her.  Sorry, J-Lo!

Number #11?  Yep, that was an early morning find yesterday.  When I lifted up the trap from the river rock bed it evacuated it's bladder.  Really gross.  At least I knew it wasn't going to make a mess in the back of my ride.
Kanye West?  Yeah, I don't really see the resemblance either, but that's okay.  I'm sure the raccoons can tell each other apart, but they are all starting to look the same to me.  Well, except for that over-sized Heidi Klum.

Kanye West running for the tall grasses surrounding the pond.
Raccoon Tally and Names:
1. Ashton Kutcher
2. Beyoncé Knowles
3. Channing Tatum
4. Demi Moore
5. Elvis Presley
6. Fergie Duhamel
7. George Costanza
8. Heidi Klum
9. Iggy Pop
10. Jenifer Lopez
11. Kanye West

I'll write another update post next weekend and we'll see where we stand.  I'm hoping to catch a few more at least. In the beginning I just trying to keep the raccoons away from my wife's garden, but lately it's turned into a game of "How many more can I catch?"  I like to think I'm winning this game, but maybe there's a couple dozen masked bandits hiding out under my neighbor's deck and scheming a way to turn the table on me.  You never know!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Wrigley Wax Is So Clutch

A couple of weeks back Paul, of Wrigley Wax, posted about a great find from a friend who frequents garage and estate sales.  He found a 45 of "Great Moments in Cubs Baseball!"

After magically transferring the audio from vinyl to compact disc he made a couple copies of the CD and then set them aside for any takers.

I bit.

Then Paul replied:

Shortly afterwards the disc arrived. 

What a great find!  I love that Paul was able to salvage some of the original artwork when making the CD.  Wrigley Wax has mad technology skills!

Thanks, Paul!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Homemade Cat Tree!

One of my tasks this summer was to erect a cat tree for the cats to sleep on in the basement.  We have to confine them downstairs because otherwise they won't let us sleep peacefully, but that doesn't mean that they shouldn't sleep in style!

So, I spent a weekend in July making sawdust.
The posts are constructed from one twelve foot carpet roll that I picked up for free at a big box store.  I took a saw to a concrete circular post form to create the seats.  Left over carpet from previous projects in the house helped bring the project together.

The box at the base?  Gus, our tuxedo cat, likes to sleep in the box our blueberries arrive in.  When curled up he fits just perfectly.  Come to think of it, I should have used the blueberry box for one of the seat.  So it goes.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out and I think our two cats are as well.
Gus (aka: Captain Chaos)
Thanks for stopping by today!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

I Love Shiny Prospects!

It's no secret that the Cubs minor league system is stacked right now with shiny prospecty goodness. So I decided to participate in a box break of shiny 2014 Bowman Platinumon eBay a couple of weeks ago.

With eight Cubs on the checklist I figured I was bound to grab more than a handful from a box, which has twenty packs of five cards within its configuration.

I've learned my lesson from past box breaks and I now only bid on ones that have a live break.  I watched eagerly and was quickly disappointed.  Three cards.  Bummer.  Not a good return on my investment.  I was okay with it, because we all know box breaks are a gamble.

Shortly afterwards an e-mail arrived with another link to a second video.  The seller didn't feel that the two highest bidding participants (myself and the White Sox winner) received good value so a second box would be broken.
Oooooooh!  Die Cuts!

I couldn't believe my eyes when I read the e-mail.  The seller didn't owe me anything but the three cards of Albert Almora (X-fractor), Dan Vogelbach, and C.J. Edwards from the first box.  Yet, I would receive every Cub from a second box because he wanted me to be happy.
A die cut and an X-fractor!

The second box was loaded with Cubs (8 cards) and two Jose Abreu cards for the White Sox winner.  Man, all I can say is the seller is certainly building up a nice stash of good karma!

Die Cuts and X-fractors aside, my favorite two cards are of Kris Bryant and Dan Vogelbach.  I believe this is only my second mainstream card of Bryant. And who doesn't love cardboard featuring the Vogelmonster?

This team set could only get sweeter if it had a ROCK SHOULDERS card.

In summary, I paid the price of about six packs of '14 Platinum for the eleven cards in the break, which includes the ten cards above and a duplicate of Edwards.  I doubt six packs would have given me such Cubbie goodness, plus I don't have unwanted cardboard laying around of random prospects from the Marlins and Rays, which I would never be able to trade away. 

I don't know how you guys feel about breaks on Ebay, but I'm feeling pretty fortunate and happy after this experience.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Book Review: Senior Year

Title: Senior Year   
Author: Dan Shaughnessy  
Genre: Biographical, Short Story

Ease of Reading: This one took me a little over four hours to conquer.  In all, it totals two hundred twenty-five pages of fairly easy text to flip, much in the mold of Shaughnessy's writings for The Boston Globe.
Synapse:The book covers the twelve month period of the senior year of Dan Shaughnessy's son, Sam.  Throughout the book Dan reflects on his own high school experience and tries to relate his teen years to Sam's.  There are many parallels, but there are some major differences including Dan's lack of an athletic ability and Sam's recruitment to play baseball at the collegiate level. Generally, the book is about a father, a son, and high school baseball, but a few interesting tangents find their way woven into the text as well.
Comments: I think I'm going to pass this book on to the baseball coach at the high school I teach.  He has a son who will be entering eighth grade next year and you know how time flies.  Before long he'll be a senior as well.
I found this book at a used book store in the heart of Texas while on vacation and I almost knocked it out in one day of air travel. 
Grade: Overall, I felt the book was a fairly quick read and it kept my interest, but it was lacking a true climax.  The life of a high school senior is one big roller coaster, but I don't know that any of the given peaks are higher than any others: drinking, girls, grades, prom, and baseball.  Shaughnessy touches on all of the aforementioned, and he does it with style, but I didn't feel like any of them kept the pages turning for me. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the book, and I was glad I found it before jumping on my return trip home, but it was not 'A' material to this reader.  I think a solid 'B' is fair though.

Friday, August 15, 2014

A Second Bobblehead of Yours Truly

It's the middle of summer and this math teacher is finally making some progress on his to do list.  The subject matter for this post is long overdue as it was a birthday gift from my friends Vince and Jim, my sister, and my wife.

Hey, a bobblehead created in the likeness of yours truly!  I think this one was ordered from somewhere along the information superhighway.  Pretty nice!

Wait, haven't we seen one of these before?

Why, yes!  We have!
The above bobblehead was a gift from my sister a couple of years ago.

Both are pretty cool looking and very much appreciated!  Thanks, gang!

Be on the look out for a few more bobblehead posts.  I just got back from a trip my wife and we visited two "new to me" MLB ballparks (Philadelphia and Washington), which means two new bobbleheads to add to my collection!  Additionally, tomorrow night is Dan Vogelbach Bobblehead Night at the Kane County Cougars.  Guess who has tickets?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Summertime Hobbies Revealed

My junior high softball season coaching duties had me at a season kick-off tournament this past Saturday.  When I returned home late in the afternoon I found one of our laundry baskets displayed in the front yard.

Oh boy.  My wife's summertime hobby, gardening, has really gotten out of hand.  I wish those of you who call the blogosphere home lived closer to P-town, because we're drowning in fresh produce!
Laura has already made a couple batches of pickles from the cucumbers and we have both gifted veggies at our respective work places.  For lunches I taken to enjoying a whole cucumber with my PB&J each day.  Yikes!

Speaking of hobbies, mine is going well.  Four blue autographs for cheap!

I've slowly been adding young pieces of the Cubs.  Above we have a pair of players who I have enjoyed watching at Kane County the past two seasons.  Underwood has been dealing for the Cougars this season and the Vogelmonster mashed for them in 2013.

Below are a couple of pitchers who don't have much as far as Cubs cards go. 
  Both players were acquired from the Texas Rangers in separate deals, but both have really impressed me this season. Neil Ramirez' card is from the 2007 Just minors set and Kyle Hendrick's card is from the 2012 Heritage Minors set.

After selling off a few items this summer my Paypal account credit line has finally evaporated.  Couple that with the beginning of another school year and I dare say my cardboard collecting for the calendar year is has just about come to a halt.  (Although I'm still on the hunt for an Arismendy Alcantara autograph!)

The Waiting 'til Next Year household also includes two cats.
Gosh, that wallpaper has to go!
Mooshie (left) and Gus (right) are pictured here enjoying their favorite summertime hobby as well: window sill sitting! 

Thanks for stopping by today.  Wish me luck, because it's the first day back at school for teachers! 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Raccoon #8 Was a Beast

My backyard raccoon trapping was on hiatus until recently.  If you recall, I managed to trap seven of the sneaky little critters and relocate them to a nice area far, far away from our home back in May.

Then my parents were having coon trouble. They have an older coon dog and they needed the trap back before something and/or someone got hurt.   It wasn't too long before they dispatched of their four legged mask wearing fiends.

All matters dealing with raccoons fleeted to the far corners of my mind until Laura, my ever-gardening wife, decided the little terrors were making off with her tomatoes.

Well, that simply won't do.  I borrowed the trap from my dad and we've started Round Two.

No bites the first night, but we awoke to a growling 8th raccoon yesterday morning.

This was the biggest one by far.  So large in fact that it could not turn around in the cage and it eventually had to back its way out when I released it.  L.A.R.G.E.

To refresh you memory on the naming rules...  we're naming them like hurricanes, and the odd numbered raccoons get male celebrity names and the even ones get female celebrity names.

1. Ashton Kutcher
2. Beyoncé Knowles
3. Channing Tatum
4. Demi Moore
5. Elvis Presley
6. Fergie Duhamel
7. George Costanza
 and the name of yesterday's raccoon is!
8. Heidi Klum

I'm sure she would be honored to know that we named a raccoon after her...  and the largest one at that!  Ha!

Monday, August 11, 2014

I Inherited a Friend's Collection

Last spring I received an awkwardly shaped box on my front stoop.  I wasn't expecting any trade packages at the time and I hadn't placed any recent orders to be delivered.
What I found inside was three separate containers, one of which obviously contains baseball cards!  The best description I can give the metal box is to compare it to a safety deposit box.  It came with a serious dent, which can be seen in the upper right corner in the above picture, but all of its contents arrived safely.

And the best thing of it all... the contents were baseball cards!
The other box had more of the same.  Baseball cards.
 Details?  Well, there was a '91 Topps Cubs set.  The 1990 Cubs, the players featured on the cards, went a lackluster 77 and 85. 

Also included was a late 1989 Peoria Chiefs set, which went 80 and 59.  The Peoria Chiefs at the time were the Single-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs 1988 #1 draft pick, Ty Griffin, has a card in the set.  Other notable names in the set include Matt Walbeck, Matt Franco and Alex Arias, but the cream of the crop was the Heathcliff Slocumb autograph! 

There was plenty more '91 Upper Deck, which is a set that I absolutely love because of it's clean white borders and fantastic photography.

Bert Blyleven apparently collects baseball cards when he's not on the beach.

Dave Parker came straight from his demolition job to DH for the Angels. 
Brett Butler is flashing him the "loser" sign because he thinks The Cobra is silly for using a sledge.

 Gary Gaetti just got a wet willy from a six year old.

 A horizontal card of three former MVPs from the same lineup.  Lots of talent pictured on that piece of cardboard.  Lots of Cub blue, too!

This Deion card is a great use of the horizontal shot.

Brian Downing didn't have nearly as much success with their respective attempts at-bat.

Who is Joe Slusarski?
I don't know, but I love the multi-exposure cards!

Hey a Jeff Bagwell rookie!  Nice!

Lastly, the metal box contained a slew of '91 Donruss, first and second series.  There was about three hundred duplicates, and it was only about forty cards from being complete.  A couple quick trades and a visit from fixed that.

The set is now complete!

Thanks for the cards, Jeff!  They have found a good home for sure!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Cubs Convention Calendar: August

"On August 8, 1988, Rick Sutcliffe pitched for the Cubs in the first game under the lights a Wrigley Field. The game was rained out after three and a half innings, making the following night the first official night game at Wrigley Field."

The above caption was accompanied by the following, "On August 12, 1954, the Harlem Globetrotters defeated George Mikan's All-Star Team 57-51 under portable lights a Wrigley Field."

So I guess the first night game was really sixty years ago with caveat being that it was a basketball game.  Huh, learn something new everyday!

But wait, let's dig a little deeper on the worldwide web.  Apparently the All American Girls Professional Baseball League held their All-Star game at Wrigley Field, under portable lights, on July 1, 1943.  So the first night game was a baseball game after all.  What a plot twist!

It's kind of crazy to think the Cubs have been playing night baseball games for only twenty-six years. What's even nuttier is the hold Wrigleyville has over the Cubs and their scheduling: the ball club could legally only schedule thirty-five of eighty-one home games to be under the lights in 2014.

As my wife would ask, "Why don't they just move already?"  Huh.  Makes you wonder, doesn't it?