Thursday, May 29, 2014

Getting Back Into The Groove

I'm not sure what it was, but the last three months have been pretty slow as far as baseball cards have gone.  I've spent all of about $20 on new product this year and have hardly touched eBay or Listia.  Trades?  I haven't been terribly active in that department either.  I know everyone falls into a bit of a funk now and again, and I supposed I just went through mine.

Gavin, from the always fun Baseball Card Breakdown, sent me a seven card PWE the other day, and it seemed to get the ball rolling a bit. 

Here's my favorite four from the bunch:
 I admit, I was a Matt Murton fan when he was with the Cubs.  He seemed like a nice guy and he could hit.  Unfortunately, he didn't have the power stroke the Cubs were looking for in a corner outfielder and he made his way to Japan.  I believe he broke the Japanese Baseball League record for hits in a single season in 2010.  This year he's hitting a cool 0.331.  Good for you, Matt!

Ryan Dempster was always the comedian. He looks like he's about to "throw down" in that shot.  Anthony Rizzo seems to find it funny and so do I.

I made a comment on this CJ Edwards card a week ago on Gavin's blog.  What a slick looking card.  A few days later Mr. Edwards was sitting in my mailbox.  Man, the blogosphere is awesome. 

Gavin, you really do run an entertaining blog.  I love the glow-in-the-dark cards and the GIFs that you create.  Keep up the excellent work!  Oh, and thanks for the cards!

To show that I'm crawling out of my card collecting funk the following zip codes will be receiving mail:
10707, 16101, 23666, 35058, 35750, 60451, 60706, 77251, 97202, 97213, & 97355.

Most are "thank you" cards that are long overdue, but a few are trade packages, and couple are "just because" cards.   Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Cubs Are Driving Me Crazy

The Cubs lost another road series today AND they haven't captured their last series win in another team's ballpark since September 9th of last season.  Sigh...

I was starting to think they were showing some improvement.  Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo are both having bonce back seasons.  Junior Lake has been a pleasant surprise as of late.  Even the bullpen has been on a hot streak as of late.  Heck, after laying an egg in San Diego last week Edwin Jackson pitched really well today, but it was still in a losing effort. 

But alas, here we are... again.  Nearly a third of the way into the season my Cubs are the only team without twenty wins, they have the worst record in baseball, and they are on pace for a record of 60 wins and 102 losses.

Oh, and Junior Lake. ... never mind.
How is the batter the last guy in the ballpark to know if the ball he batted is a homer or not?  Yikes.

I guess I can get excited for the draft next week, and while I'm at it I can look forward to next year's draft as well.  It seems as though we'll picking near the top yet again in 2015.

So, when I'm depressed about my team I go looking for something to laugh about elsewhere in MLB.  The Cubs were just playing the Giants, so I didn't have to look too far... helllllllo, Hunter Pence.

I like Hunter.  He seems like a great clubhouse guy, he's very fan friendly, and he is solid baseball player.  Yet, he's always stood out.  It's tough to put it to words, so let me just post a picture of a mock scouting report I found on Mr. Pence. 
I've read this a couple of times now and it makes me laugh every time.  I hope you enjoyed it, too.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Cubs Convention Calendar: May

May almost slipped away without me showing off the picture from the Cubs Convention Calendar.
"Wrigley Field played host to the Chicago Sting of the North American Soccer League in the late 1970 and early 1980s."

Nowadays Toyota Park hosts the Chicago Fire of Major League Soccer.   
What a difference a few decades makes!

Monday, May 26, 2014

SUP and Raccoon #6

My wife and traveled northeast to spend the Memorial Day weekend with her parents.  My mother-in-law always throws a killer picnic.  You know the type: the kind that makes you reach for your Thanksgiving pants.

To burn some of those calories off Laura and I went out stand-up paddle boarding twice this weekend.  On Saturday we trolled about the Kankakee River and we hit the Iroquois River on Sunday.  My new SUP board worked out really well.

Before we left Saturday morning for our weekend excursion I had to dump off another raccoon!
Yep, this one is named Fergie (aka raccoon #6).  She was bigger than the previous five and much, much grouchier.  She growled, snarled, showed her teeth and tried to take a swipe at me.  In the end though, she was just like the rest and sprinted off to freedom.

Thanks for all of the name suggestions  Fiona seemed to be a popular name choice, but she hasn't been terribly relevant as of late.  So, Fergie it is!  (Hat tip to Defgav for the suggestion.)

Here's the updated list of raccoon names:
Ashton (Kutcher)
Beyoncé (Knowles)
Channing (Tatum)
Demi (Moore)
Elvis (Presley)
Fergie (Duhamel)

We need a male name which starts with the letter G.  As always, post your suggestions below!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

An Over-Sized Sammy

I came home to an unexpected PWE the other day. Aren't those the best kind of mail days?
 For the record, I'm a big fan of little notes. 

This isn't your typical Sammy Sosa card.  It must be a box topper or something along those lines, because it measures 4.5 inches by 3.25 inches.

Thanks for the sweet sliding Sammy, Marc!  Now I just have to find a place to store it!

Friday, May 23, 2014

My First MexiHexaFlexagon

At the high school I work the seniors' last day of school was May 13th, but the rest of the student body is in session until June 2nd.  I had seventy-two students spread across three different Calculus classes, but sixty-two of them have graduated.

What does one do with ten juniors spread across three different class periods for the better part of three weeks?  Heck, these ten all took the AP Calculus exam and each one of them probably scored higher than I did when I was hitting the books.  I had to channel my creative side to keep them entertained.

Well, we've done an assortment of entertaining math-related activities, but my favorite will be what I'm about to attempt later today.

It all started my watching a youtube video about the hexaflexagon, which lead to a video about the mexihexaflexagon. If you have 5 minutes, you should really check out the first link.  Personally, I find it to be a pretty entertaining video.  But, then again, I am a self-proclaimed math nerd.

No surprise that my students want to try to make mexihexaflexagon in class.  Who am I to argue?

Wednesday night I needed something for dinner.  Experimentation time!

First, I created a template:
 I had to take two tortilla strips and "glue" them together to attain the desired length.  Don't worry, scoring the tortilla and adding water to it works better then glue.  As you can see, I've already folded my tortilla strips into the triangles required for the hexaflexagon.

I folded my paper template and used it as a guide to help me with completing the tortilla version.

 Time to apply the ingredients!   Refried beans:
 Nacho cheese:

The next step was the hardest: flexing the hexaflexagon so the beans and cheese became folded into the inside!   You see, there are "three sides" to a hexaflexagon: a top, a bottom, and the inside.  When you flex the hexagon the inside becomes one of the exterior pieces.
 I lost a little bit of the ingredients during this step, but you have to crack a few eggs to make an omlette... or something like that.

Into the frying pan it goes!

 Mmmmm... Time to dress it up with sour cream and salsa!

Yep, the similarities to a quesadilla are spot on, but the mexihexaflexagon is certainly messier ... and more fun!
I made a second one for dinner and it turned out much better.  Practice makes perfect.  Plus, I was still hungry.

Wish me luck in class today!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Celebrating 500 Posts with My Tribecard Giveaway Haul

I participated in the 2013 Tribecards giveaway last year and received my cards last week.  What a huge undertaking it must have been to open at least one pack each day of the baseball season and keep track of who claimed what.  Not to mention shipping them all out!

Yet David didn't learn his lesson and he's doing it all over again in 2014.  #packadailycircus  Yikes!
I collect cards of all the Olson players, you know, because it's my last name, too: Karl, Greg, Gregg, and Garrett.  Both of these are new to my collection.

I fell in love with the Cubs back in the late '80s and early '90s, thus the Doug Dascenzo and Chuck McElroy.  But hold on there, folks!  That's not an open invitation to send me your Cubs junk wax!

I have a mini collection of Brooks Kieschnick, but only because I seem to everyone's dumping ground.  Dale Sveum?  Yep, I was on that bus last year.   Now I'm Rick Renteria express.

Rod Beck?  He was a pretty good closer, a beloved Cub, and quite an interesting character.  May he rest in peace.  Abbott?  Yep, he made my draft list because I was just finishing his book at the time.  I'm easily influenced like that!

I was lucky enough to snag Fergie, but unfortunately it only netted me one Gypsy Queen card from all the packs David opened.  I guess he didn't open much from the '70s.  Ha!

Lastly, Ben Zobrist!  Zobrist grew up across the river from P-town and has become a pretty valuable piece of the Rays. I have it on good authority that Ben is pretty swell guy.  What a bummer that he hurt his thumb sliding into second last week.  Get well soon, Ben!

Thanks again for all of your work with the giveaway last year, David!  And thanks for the cards!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Raccoon Update: Elvis has left the building!

Shoot.  This is getting crazy.  I thought I might catch a handful of the masked critters, as I saw an entire family last summer, but actually catching five is kind of mind blowing.

Here's Monday night's catch:
We named this one Demi.  Again, my wife named this one, and she's currently out of town, I guess I can't fault her for there being little resemblance.

Tuesday night's catch:

I named him Elvis.  Why?   I think the video says it all...

Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has left the building!

I've just finished setting up the live trap again and I'm off to bed.  I'm hoping the silly thing is empty in the morning, but my gut says that I'll have some company again tomorrow morning as I make the drive to work (and the designated raccoon drop zone).

For a quick recap, here's the name:
Ashton (Kutcher)
Beyoncé (Knowles)
Channing (Tatum)
Demi (Moore)
Elvis (Presley)

Next up, we'll need a female name which starts with the letter F.  I have a decent name in mind, but please feel free to add you suggestions to the comments section, folks!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Pack Wars!

2014 Bowman came out recently and I bought one hobby pack.  You know what that means!  It's time for another round of Pack Wars!

In one corner we have 2014 Bowman, weighing in at ten cards, and in the opposing corner are two packs of 2007 Fleer Ultra, weighing in at five cards each::

That's right, Bowman is going to have its hands full fighting off two packs of Ultra.  This should be exciting!

Round 1:
Roy Halladay featuring constipation face against Mike Sweeney.  When in doubt, go with constipation face.
Bowman = 1
Fleer Ultra = 0

Round 2:
J-Hey versus Curt Schilling and his bloody sock.  I love a good horizontal card, but the location of "Schilling" blocks my view of the bloody sock.  On the flip side, the Heyward card is cropped entirely too close for my liking.  Point to Ultra.

Bowman = 1
Fleer Ultra = 1

Round 3:
 Really tight cropping against another horizontal shot.  I know Miguel Gonzalez was a "big" international free agent signing for the Phils, but I love that picture of Michael Young.  Is that ball going to be a double in the corner or maybe just a loud strike?  Doesn't matter, the point goes to Ultra.

Bowman = 1
Fleer Ultra = 2

Round 4:
 Jason Rogers versus Ichiro.  Point to Ultra.  No explanation necessary.

Bowman = 1
Fleer Ultra = 3

Round 5:
A mini chrome card of the Rockies #2 prospect versus Hector Gimenez.  Hmmm...  One prospect with potential left pitted against a failed prospect.  The point goes to Bowman, because of the inherent potential of Eddie Butler.  Besides, it's a MINI!

Bowman = 2
Fleer Ultra = 3

Round 6:
A chrome card of Kyle Parker against another horizontal pitcher.  There's not much difference between this card of Mark Buehrle and the Schilling card from earlier.  I'm a fan of Buehrle, but not a fan of repetitiveness. Bowman ties the match.

Bowman = 3
Fleer Ultra = 3

Round 7:
A possible future Red Sock against a past Red Sock.  Is "Red Sock" really the singular form of Red Sox?  No matter.  That's a beautiful shot of Varitek and his follow through.  Bowman is back in the lead.

Bowman = 4
Fleer Ultra = 3

Round 8:
Bowman also had this problem last year: unfortunate logo placement.  Poor Derek Holland.  Man, those graphic artists need a strong talking to. Move the stinking logo or choose a shot that doesn't place it right over Derek's crotch!  Roy Halladay earns his second point.

Bowman = 4
Fleer Ultra = 4
Halladay = 2

Round 9:
Carlos Gomez and his flamboyant on field personality versus Torii Hunter.  Both players are strong defenders and good all around ball players, but I'll take the guy who doesn't have a habit of getting suspended.  Ultra is back in the lead!

Bowman = 4
Fleer Ultra = 5
Halladay = 2

Round 10:
James Shields versus Don Kelly?  Man, what a lackluster way to finish the bout. The shiny lights in the background are the swaying factor for me in this one.  Don Kelly seals the victory for 2007 Fleer Ultra!

Bowman = 4
Fleer Ultra = 6
Halladay = 2

The two five-card Fleer Ultra packs came from a repack box, but I think they were more fun to open than this particular Bowman pack.  Am I way off base here or was a pretty "meh" pack of Bowman?