Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Mail Bag

Recent additions to my card collection.

This first card is a 2007 Bowman Draft Futures Game Prospect Game Worn Patch, serial numbered 34/99.  While the card doesn't have the "Refractor" tag on the back of the card, it is shiny (hence the blue color in the scanned picture), which is odd.  This card is my first "patch" card, and the part that caught my attention is that the patch has part of the "KC" in the KC Royals logo.  Nice addition to my set.

Card number two is a 2010 Topps Heritage Stamps card, serial numbered 11/50.  The "stamps" are actual stamps that are held in place and protected by a thin piece of plastic.  The other player featured is Jeff Francouer of the NY Mets.  I like odd cards like this one (as well as my "silk" card and the mini cards).  They add a bit of variety to my collection.

Speaking of mini cards, my third addition is a 2010 Allen and Ginter Mini Black Boarder card.  I'm a big fan of the Allen and Ginter set and this card is a nice parallel card.  I like the little details on the boarder, which add to the old timey feel of the set.

I'm piecing together the master set of Hochevar cards and as I add cards, it's getting tougher and tougher to track down the ones I'm missing.  So, I think I'm going to enter the box breaking aspect of the hobby.  I'm watching a few eBay auctions for boxes filled with packs of cards.  If I can get a box cheaply, I'm going to crack open some packs of 2010 Topps T206 cards.  There are a handful of Hochevar cards from this set popping up on eBay, and I'm going to see if I can pull any from a pack of cards, which I have yet to do.

Also, after a couple of months on the disabled list, Luke made his first start since June and, as luck would have it, he made the start in Omaha, so my friend Andy and I went and watched.  It was great seeing him on the bump (even though he was only allowed to throw two innings).  Luke's making his second of three rehab starts with Omaha on Thursday, which gives me a good reason to go to the final baseball game at Rosenblatt Stadium.  Hopefully Luke's arm continues to heal and he'll be able to join the KC Royals soon and finish the season pitching in the big league.

While at Saturday's Omaha Royals game, I got to see the Royal's latest prospect, Mike Moustakas, in person.  And the guy is legit.  He hit a homer in Saturday's game and followed that fine performance up with a 11 RBI and 3 home run game in the Royal's 23-5 victory over the Round Rock Express.  I'm excited to see what he can do in the majors next year, as the Royals will not be calling him up to the majors this season.  Kansas City has a lot of young talent (Hochevar, Gordon, Greinke, Butler, Moustakas, Ka'aihue, Getz, Wood, etc.) and they've been able to get rid of some aging veterans who were holding the team back, so I'll be interested to see if they can be successful in the coming years.

Monday, August 23, 2010

"Stop criticizing President Obama for playing golf."

So says David Kopel over at the Volokh Conspiracy.  David points out that another President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, spent a lot of time out on the course during his presidency.  It has been estimated that President Eisenhower golfed upwards of two times a week.  He concludes that,
 "President Eisenhower demonstrated beyond any doubt that there is no inherent contradiction between being a good President and being an avid golfer. Indeed, golf helps clear the mind, and hardly any sport is better at fostering humility in participants.  So unless President Obama’s critics are willing to state that President Eisenhower golfed too much, they should stop carping about President Obama’s golfing."
I completely agree with David's analysis.  I have absolutely zero problem with any President decompressing on the course once or twice a week.  I may never agree with President Obama's ideology or politics, but I will never begrudge him playing a round of golf, or shooting hoops with his staff, or even lighting up a cigarette.  Life (and the presidency) is hard.  Might as well find a few avenues to work off some stem or decompress.  And that goes for the low hanging fruit of political pundits in mocking a Presidential vacation, whether it's a trip to a Texas ranch or a week in Martha's Vineyard.

So the guy likes to golf.  Big whoop.  I can think of worse ways for a sitting President to spend his time (chasing intern tail springs to mind). 

Which brings me to my weekly question from my wife.

This week, My Wife Asks...what would you do if you had no money constraints?

This hypothetical exercise reminds me of how my junior college golf teammates and I would pass the time on our long bus trips.  We spent one 6+ hour bus trip dreaming up scenarios of how we would spend vast amounts of money (fortresses, fantastic vehicles, dream houses, etc.).  I was really fun hearing different people's ideas of pure fun.  It was also great to add features to another person's fantasy, as well as debating the merits of some ideas (example:  what is the best way to fortify your dream home from intruders?).

So, what would I do if money with no concern for the cost?  I would buy a great luxury RV, pack up the wife and dog, and travel the US playing every golf course we stumbled upon until the money ran out.

This idea would combine my love for golf with my enjoyment of visiting new towns across this great land of ours.  In my mind, there is no greater way to spend a road trip.

The beauty of the roadtrip golf tour in an RV is multifaceted.  First, my wife hates flying.  And if I'm going to get her onboard with this plan, my best bet is by land. 

Second, I love road trips.  I have since I was a kid.  I love the slowness of road trips, and yet I hate the slowness of the hurry up and wait attitude of air travel.  I love the little things that a road trip brings.  We would stop at every diner, drive-in, and dive we stumble upon for our meals.  On the road we can take detours, shop antique shops, visit popular destinations, see historic and notable sites, and just take it easy.

Third, an RV road trip would make over nights so much easier because finding a pet friendly hotel is a pain in the neck.  An RV also would give my wife and the dog more room to be comfortable while we travel mile after mile.  We would also save a bundle sleeping in our RV, because even though money would not be an issue, I still love a bit of frugality. 

Fourth, and foremost, there are so many great golf courses that I've never (and may never) played because they are out of the way and/or are not within our current budget.  Take for instance The Prairie Club in Valentine, NE.  This beautiful links style course was recently ranked the number one course in Nebraska, and I may never get to play it because Valentine is in the middle of nowhere.   There is basically no reason to go to Valentine, except to visit this course.  And there are hundreds of courses like it.  My mind is racing just thinking about the possibilities.

So, there you have it.  The day after we hit the big payday, we're hitting the road.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

2008 UD Baseball Heroes rainbow

I am 95% sure I have completed the rainbow for the 2008 UD Baseball Heroes set (although the checklist claims there is a seriel numbered to 10 beige autograph card, so I'll keep my eyes open for it).

The cards I have are:

Charcoal autograph -- 21/50
Aqua -- 83/99 (received in the mail today)
Navy Blue -- 34/199
Red -- 172/249 (received in the mail yesterday)
Gold -- 283/299
Charcoal -- 205/399
Green -- 6/499

Collecting a "rainbow" of parallels didn't really exist when I was a kid, as there were usually only one or two parallels in a set (usually gold and/or silver).  Had a set like this Baseball Heroes set been around when I was 10 yrs old, I know I would have spent a fortune buying boxes and packs of these cards, trying to track down all of the different colors for my favorite players.  These types of serial numbered parallel sets are a huge improvement over the junk wax era in which I grew up. 


SONG:  There is a Fatboy Slim greatest hits album on sale on Amazon that I'm pondering buying.  Its full of songs I know, but I can't decide if I'll ever listen to them over and over (thereby making it worth the purchase price).  Since I'm indifferent on the choice, I'll just enjoy Fatboy Slim's best music video for free (and it's a very good song to boot). 

Ground Zero Mosque -- Part Deux

In the comments of my previous Ground Zero Mosque post, my bro-in-law mentioned that maybe, for the first time ever, I agree with President Obama on an issue.  Well, I like to think that the President, for the first time, agrees with me.  Because I've been right all along, and the President is just now realizing it.

Well, I'm going to have another first, I'm going to recommend, and agree with, a Jon Stewart monologue.

I've never really cared much for Stewart.  I've never found him or Colbert to be funny.  If I stumble upon one of their clips while scrolling through the blogosphere, I'll rarely ever watch the entire clip.  And my laughing at one of their bits is even rarer.  But Jon Stewart's monologue about the whole mosque uproar was fairly on point in my opinion.

I've attached the video at the end of this post, and I highly recommend watching all nine minutes, but if you are like me and don't like his schtick, then here are the interesting (to me) points that he makes.

First, he plays a portion of Laura Ingraham on Fox News from last December in which she says, "I can't find many people who really have a problem with it.  Bloomberg is for it.  You got rabbis in New York saying they don't have a problem with it.  (...)  I like what you're trying to do and Ms. (unintelligible) we appreciate it." 

Now, I'm going to assume that this clip is what they purport it to be and it has not been edited down so much as to be out of context.  And I haven't listened to Laura's show with any regularity for many years, so I don't know if she's maintained her support for the project or if she's decided to change her position.  Jon doesn't offer up any more clips of Laura speaking against the mosque, so I don't know her current thoughts on the mosque project, but since Laura is a figurehead within the conservative movement, it's interesting to see how much has changed (in the conservative movement, in general) in six months.  Interesting, if not informative.

Jon then shows a smattering of clips from cable news talking heads from the right talking about the insensitivity of the mosque's location (a position I completely understand, but do not support).  He tells some of his (unfunny to me) jokes, makes a few (again, unfunny) puns, and gets some giggles from the audience.  He continues the clips/jokes/commentary portion of the monologue for a few minutes.  Jon then singles out one particular guy on a FoxNews morning show, paying special attention to the man's homemade cue cards and conspiracy theories.  You won't miss much if you skip over this part.  Nothing ground breaking or particularly funny.

Then, at the seven minute mark his argument starts getting more effective.  If you can't stomach Stewart and don't like what he says, I would contend the last two and a half minutes of the video is REQUIRED viewing.

Jon says, "This whole thing has gotten crazy.  In our panic, we've lost sight of something very important.  If only someone could step up and cut through all this political posturing and fear mongering and remind us what America is all about."

(NOTE: the first time I watched this video, I assumed that Jon was going to take another swipe at the people with which he disagrees.  I must say that I was pleasantly surprised with the clip he actually showed.  I guess I shouldn't always assume the worst of people and should give them the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise.)

After making the above statement, Jon shows a clip of a speech by Charlton Heston in 1999.  Please do yourself a favor and listen to Charlton's wise words.

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Charlton Heston:  Tragedy has been and will always be with us.  Somewhere right now evil people are planning evil things.  All of us will do everything meaningful, everything we can do to prevent it.  But each horrible act can't become an axe for opportunists to cleave the very Bill of Rights that binds us.  

Powerful words from a great man.

Jon goes on to point out that Mr. Heston's speech was given soon after another very tragic event in our Nation's history, the shooting at Columbine High School.  He also points out that that speech was given at an NRA convention that the left had demanded not take place in Denver because it was too near the site of that tragedy.  Jon even makes the observation that he was probably one of those people calling for the convention be moved.

He ends the segment with more of Heston's speech.

Charlton Heston:  America must stop this predictable pattern of reaction.  When an isolated, terrible event occurs, our phones ring, demanding the NRA explain the inexplicable.  Why us?  Because this story needs a villain.  That is not our role in American society and we will not be forced to play it.  If you disagree, that's your right.  I respect that, but we will not relinquish it, or be silenced about it, or be told, do not come here, you are not welcome in your own land.  

I'd like to give credit to Jon Stewart and his staff for digging out the Heston speech and giving it the respect that it deserves.  That speech and those words are just as appropriate and meaningful now as they were when they were first spoken.  And so is the sentiment those words were intended to evoke.  It feels like I'm in a bizzaro-world, where people like Jon Stewart are using clips of Charlton Heston speaking at an NRA convention to support their argument and people like Rush Limbaugh are playing personality politics and throwing around conspiracy theories.  Shouldn't it be the other way around?

It is my hope that my friends in the conservative movement will set aside their (rightful and deserved) anger and will think about the principles that make their movement so strong and important to America.  Such principles as rugged individualism, property rights, a prudent government, the imperfectability of man and government, the opposition of involuntary collectivism, the restraint of government, and the reconciliation of permanence and change.  These are the principles of a strong and vibrant conservative movement.  Not impulse and emotion and populism.  And impulse, emotion, and populism are the traits I see in many of the people most opposed to the Ground Zero mosque.  And it saddens me.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Ground Zero Mosque

So the latest Facebook meme floating into my news feed goes something like this:
"If you think putting up a mosque 600 ft. from ground zero and having the inauguration on the anniversary of 9/11 is immoral and inhuman. If you think it shows a complete lack of respect for the memories of all that perished there and if you think that politicians are doing a grave injustice to those fallen heroes, thei...r families and all the people of New York City, THEN PLEASE COPY AND PASTE THIS TO YOUR WALL"
Assuming we ignore the countless grammatical errors (and every one I've seen so far has these errors), I have a few problems with this particular sentiment.

First, if 600 feet is too close to ground zero for these people's taste, then how about moving the mosque 1000 feet away, will that work?  If not 1000 feet, will 2000 feet work?  How about a mile?  How far away from Ground Zero would be acceptable?  Is it acceptable to even have a mosque in the same town?  State?  Continent?  Hemisphere?  Where shall we draw the line for acceptable locations for places of worship for the people of Islam?  Well, according to this NYTimes article, Tennessee, Wisconsin, and California are all still too close to Ground Zero for some people to allow a mosque. 

Same for the "inauguration" date.  If September 11th won't do, how about September 10th (when the acts of 9/11 were, I'm assuming, being finalized).  Does a September 10th inauguration still show a lack of respect?  How about September 12th?  September 21st?  I'm assuming they shouldn't do it in August out of respect for the people who died in the US Embassy bombing.  And October is out due to the USS Cole bombing.

So my question is when and where can Muslims build and open a mosque?

Finally, the above meme uses the collective "all" when talking about victims of the attack, fallen heroes, their families, and New York, which is a rhetorical device that I find unpersuasive.  Whenever someone uses the collective all/we/us/them, their opinions lose weight in my mind.  There is no way that the memories of "all" that perished there could be disrespected by the mosque, as there were hundreds who died there who were Muslim.  There is no way that "all" of New York could be victim of this "grave injustice", as there are presumably New Yorkers who will attend this mosque regularly.  As a firm believer and proponent of "rugged individualism", I much prefer specifics and tend to reject generalities (when it comes to labeling people).

And it's not just my friends on Facebook who are (in my opinion) in the wrong on this issue.  Today, on my drive home for lunch, the Jim Rome Show went to commercial so I decided to tune into the Rush Limbaugh show for the first time in a couple of months.  Here is a transcript of the part of the show that I heard:

We got people on our side saying, "We gotta be very, very careful here, we don't want to overstep on this, could really hurt us in November."  Who's saying this?  The Democrat ruling class people and the media are saying it, and typically people on our side in the ruling class in the Beltway, "Oh, yeah, they're right, we don't want to make them mad."  The left, you know, they like to hold Joe McCarthy out as some kind of unbalanced commie hunter.  Look at Pelosi.  Look at her massive ego, her massive power grabbing, the way she runs the House, her statements about investigating those she disagrees with.  She is McCarthy, she is Watergate, and all the rest of it combined.  The only voices who will object to Pelosi are ours, conservative voices.  They're not going to find anybody in the Republican Party hierarchy upset with this. No, it's just Pelosi being Pelosi they'll say. It's just usual inside-the-Beltway stuff.  That's just Pelosi being Pelosi, that's just Reid being Reid, oh, that's no big deal, that's just the Democrats being who they are.  

You let some Republican, say a speaker of the House, start talking about investigating people who are funding certain leftist causes and you see what happens.  This is a tipping point.  Is Pelosi gonna investigate Harry Reid?  Harry Reid's opposed to the mosque.  Now, granted, he's been given special dispensation on this.  But is Pelosi gonna investigate Reid?  And it looks like dissent isn't patriotic anymore, is it?  It looks like what Hillary said about dissent and opposing the administration, that was the new patriotism back during the first and second terms of George W. Bush.  But, now, no, no, no, no.  Even Chris Christie's getting on this bandwagon, (paraphrasing) "We don't want to overplay our hand here, this could go a little bit wrong.  We gotta be very, very, very, very careful.  Others are warning us not to shout about this, don't go out and say what you really want to say."  I'm sorry.  These are not the people who tell me what to say and what not to say.  They have never been, and they're not going to start being now.  

Notice that the Muslims' right to freedom of religion trumps our freedom of speech.  We're being told to shut up 'cause it might hurt Republicans in November.  We're being told to tiptoe, be very, very, very, very careful here. Well, they can cower all they want in retirement.  I'm going to continue to do and say what I think is right, because, folks, there are millions of Democrats, and there are millions of independents and others who are on the correct side of this mosque business, and buying into the Democrat template, that this is about politics, this stuff, is dead wrong.  This is not politics as usual.
I find myself doing this more and more, but I disagree with Rush here.  He's all over the place in this monologue.  He's hitting all the hot-button buzz words:  Pelosi, Reid, Democrat ruling class, Beltway, etc.  I listened to this 5 minute block of his show and I was happy when I got home so I could shut it off.  As I didn't listen to the rest of the show, I'm hoping he took some time to logically explain why he opposes the mosque.  But one aspect of his monologue really grabbed my attention:
Notice that the Muslims' right to freedom of religion trumps our freedom of speech.
And this is where he completely lost me.  To me, this is not a "freedom of religion" issue.  To me, this is not a "freedom of speech" issue.  Both of those freedoms are alive and well.  This is, to me, an issue over property rights.  Should an owner of a property be able to develop that property as they see fit (within the guidelines and requirements set forth by their local municipality)?  I say yes, regardless of how this new development upsets some people's sensibilities.  And this goes for mosques, casinos, porn stores, strip clubs, liquor stores, Planet Hollywoods, lingerie stores, Starbucks, WalMarts, Scientology centers, and any other building that bothers people.  I say let them all be built.  Get that portion of New York back in business.  Let the market place decide.  

And I'm quite disappointed in Rush for not recognizing the property rights angle.  For example, a year ago Rush talked about the city of Chicago turning away a WalMart, and had this to say, "Where there are new jobs to be created in the private sector, Democrats somewhere are standing in the way of it, all because of an irrational hatred of a retailer called Wal-Mart and all because Wal-Mart is not unionized."

Rush wants the government to stay out of the way when it comes to Walmart or any other group of people/company opening up shop, so why is he unhappy when the government for once does the right thing and stays out of the way?  So it would be ok for a JC Penny to open its doors to the public, but not an Islamic Mosque?  All of the 9/11 hijackers were men, so would there be the same reaction if a Big & Tall Men's store was being proposed?  Most of the hijackers were from Saudi Arabia.  Should there be a boycott every falafel cart in the city?

To me, the fact that these people are going to build a place of worship on land that they have purchased, and are following all the necessary legal and zoning regulations, trumps any questions of sensibility.  And it troubles me that I'm apparently in the minority opinion on this subject in conservative circles.  It troubles me that some people's gut reaction and emotion over a tragic incident in the past is clouding their judgment and principles.  It troubles me that the movement I grew up with, the one that supported property rights and rugged individualism, now has a religious litmus test on who can and cannot develop their property and for what purposes.  I guess I should just be happy that I'm of the correct religious background of the majority and I should just go about my business until I become the minority.

Mail Bag

A few recent arrivals.

I added my fifth 1/1 card to my collection recently.  This one is a 2007 Bowman Chrome Yellow Printing Plate.  This is my favorite printing plate because it's the only one I have where the card picture is the mirror image of the regular cards.  The other "printing plate" cards that I own have the same picture as the regular cards, which makes me think they weren't actually used in the making of the other cards. 

I bought these two cards together (along with a duplicate red jersey card, for a total of 3 cards in the lot).  I was excited to get both jersey colors at the same time.  They are both 2004 SP Prospects National Honors Jersey cards.  These cards are the oldest jersey cards that I own. 

This final card is a 2007 Donruss Elite Extra Edition Aspirations card which is serial numbered 31/100.  It is hard to see from the scans, but this card is die-cut, which chunks cut out of each side in the shape of the background pattern.  This is the only die-cut card in my collection so far.

With these additions, my collection is now at 111 cards.  I'm getting there slowly but surely.  (I agree, but quit calling me Shirley!)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Happy Blog-aversary

Well, technically, my 1st Blog-aversary isn't until the 18th, but being married to my wife for 6 years has corrupted me to the point that I can't wait until the actual day to open my presents.

Last year, around this time, I was chatting with Friar Tuck on Facebook and he suggested I start a blog.  I told him that I'd started a blog a few years back, but, as with most of my childhood pets (frogs, lizards, turtles, etc.), I grew bored with it after a few weeks and my parents were forced to take care of it.  Unfortunately, my parents didn't know the first thing about how to care for a blog, so they took it to a nice farm out in the country where it still lives to this day, right Mom?

Friar Tuck suggested that I give it another try.  So, I reestablished "87 Murphy Squirrels" on August 19, 2009, with the following words:

It's finally time for me to get off the sidelines and finally put my opinions where people can read them, critique them, and challenge them. It is my plan to make a blog entry at least once a day.

I have enjoyed being able to use Facebook & Twitter status updates to express myself, but have always felt limited by space.

I also apply a heavy filter to my Twitter and Facebook writings due to the audience. I do not feel like alienating my friends and family by forcing my views/opinions/thoughts onto them via their news feed. I would rather have people show up on their own, when they want, and if they want.

So..............here goes nothing.
A year later, I feel I have accomplished everything I set out to accomplish with my blog.  Over the past year I have written 160 blog posts (a bit shy of my idea to post daily, but not too bad).  My blog has allowed me to express my thoughts and feelings about politics, movies, music, and golf.  It has allowed me to brag about myself, my wife, and my dog.  It has been an outlet for my frustrations, sadness, and anger.

I tend to have obscure hobbies and interests (i.e. baseball cards, golf club building, eclectic music, among others), and writing in my blog allows me to explore those topics in my own way (and hopefully educate others about the things that I enjoy).

Also, over the past two years, my wife and I have been living far away from our family and friends, so my blog (as well as Twitter and Facebook) allows anyone of those friends or family members to know what has been happening in our lives.  It's a nice lifeline as we float along in this scary world.

Towards the later months of this past year my blog started running out of steam.  I'd grown sick and tired of politics (and sick and tired of how angry my political posts had become).  I'd said nearly everything I've ever wanted to say about golf in general.  My movie and television reviews and recommendations had become cliche and trite.  And while I'd found a new hobby in card collecting, those posts were slowly morphing into "look at these pictures" posts (which are not much fun for anyone other than me).  In short, my blog was getting stale and boring.  I had lost the passion and fervour that my posting once contained.

So, imagine my surprise when I found a "Happy Blog-aversary" card on the counter from my wife (and don't worry, there is still plenty of time for everyone else to send me and my blog something to celebrate our day.  Not much time.  But, technically speaking, there is still time.  But not much.  So hurry.)  I opened the card and found this note written inside.

As much as I love reading your blog, I grow a bit tired of posts about golf, politics, and Luke Hochevar baseball cards. As such, I am giving you this gift of inspiration. Each week I will ask you a question for you to answer on your blog. This answer can be one word or one thousand words, but you must answer my question, and you must do so weekly.  If your readers have questions they would like answered, please have them post the questions in the comments of your blog and I will work them in as the weeks go by. Hopefully, you will get at least a weekly blog post out of this deal and I will get to know more about you at the same time.  I'll even help you with the name of this feature, "My Wife Asks..."    
--- Your Wife
I am so very excited by this present.  For me, the hardest aspect of maintaining a blog is finding topics that interest me enough to spend time writing about.  And I can't believe I missed the most interesting topic there is for all of this time -- ME!  And, since this is my party, I'll open one more present.  This one is my Wife's first question.

My Wife Asks... what is your all-time favorite song?
There are thousands of songs that I love.  I have favorite country songs, favorite rock songs, favorite DMB songs, favorite oldies, favorite hymns, favorite instrumentals, favorite rap songs, favorite classical pieces, and favorite heavy metal songs.  But if I were forced to pick an All-Time Favorite I would have to pick

"Right Now" by Van Halen. 

I love Van Halen and I love everything about this song.  In my mind, every aspect of this song is perfect.  Musically speaking, this song is awesome.  This piano solo should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Add to it the world's greatest guitarist, a fantastic drummer, and an under-appreciated bass guitarist, how could you go wrong?  But as good as this song is instrumentally, the lyrics are what nudge it to the number one spot.  Give the song another listen, and read these lyrics as Sammy sings them.
Don't wanna wait 'til tomorrow
Why put it off another day?
One by one, little problems
Build up, and stand in our way. Oh

One step ahead, one step behind it
Now ya gotta run to get even
Make future plans I'll dream about yesterday, hey!
Come on turn, turn this thing around

(Right now) Hey! It's your tomorrow
(Right now) Come on, it's everything
(Right now) Catch your magic moment
Do it right here and now
It means everything

Miss a beat, you lose a rhythm
An nothin' falls into place. No!
Only missed by a fraction
Slipped a little off your pace. Oh!

The more things you get, the more you want
Just trade in one for another
Workin' so hard to make it easy
Whoa, got to turn. Come on, turn this thing around

(Right now) Hey, it's your tomorrow
(Right now) Come on, it's everything
(Right now) catch that magic moment
Do it right here and now
It means everything
Pure genius.

If I was stuck on a deserted island and could only listen to one song the rest of my life, this would be that song.  I have listened to this song hundreds, maybe even thousands, of times, and it always feels fresh to me.  There are songs that I greatly enjoy the first couple dozen times I hear them, but soon they soon tire.  Before long, I'll hear the first few bars of the song and hit skip on my iPod (or change the station in my car).  But not this song.  This song, I listen to the entire song, every time. 

When I was in high school, I would listen to this song, and only this song, when I was in my car on game day.  Before football games, I would drive to Loaf 'N Jug to buy a Gatorade just so I could listen to this song multiple times (I wouldn't have been able to finish the piano solo at the beginning of the song if I'd have driven straight to the gym from my house) and I wouldn't leave my car until the song ended.  I am pretty sure that my playing this song over and over at a very high volume blew out a couple of speakers in The Celebrity.  To this day, just like Pavlov's dog, my adrenaline starts pumping while listening to this song.

For the past 12+ years, "Right Now" has been my favorite song, and I don't know how any song will be able to overtake it.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Omaha Metro Golf Championship -- Day Two

Yesterday I was bumming after shooting an uninspiring 92 on a golf course that is, all things considered, not very tough.  Of all the courses I've played in Omaha, I would say this course is one of the easiest. 

Because I posted such a lousy score yesterday, I was basically out of contention for prize money, as only the top eight places get paid (more on that in a moment).  I entered day two of the tournament tied for 19th place (out of 26 players).  So, I entered day two with two main goals -- post a lower score than yesterday and win day money.  "Day money" is paid to the lowest three scores of the day of the people that are 9th place and lower.

DAY TWO GOAL 1)  Post a lower score than yesterday.

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!  Today I shot an 80.  That's right, I improved by 12 strokes.  Today I played golf.  Today I kept the ball in play (except for one errant tee shot that found the water).  Today I putted well.  Today I played to my handicap.  Today I posted the lowest score in my flight.  Today was great.

I started the day on the back nine holes.  I had 5 bogeys, 3 pars, and 1 birdie on the back nine holes for a score of 40.  I followed my game plan.  This nine holes was how I typically play golf.  The front nine holes was similar, with 5 pars, 3 bogeys, and one double bogey when I hit my tee shot into a water hazard.  That one hole was my only "blow up" hole of the round and, relatively speaking, it wasn't too bad.  I shot a 40 on the front nine holes for a total score of 80.  Not too shabby.

DAY TWO GOAL 2)  Earn day money. 

My total score for the two days was 172, which moved me from a tie for 19th place to 11th place, which was not enough to earn prize money, but did earn me day money.  Which brings me to a point of contention with the way this tournament was structured, in that the prize money was pretty lousy.

Last year I was annoyed with the way they flighted the lower flights.  Last year there were too many low handicapped players in the bottom flight.  It didn't seem fair too me.  This year, they did a better job of placing players in our flight, as most everyone shot in the mid-80s.

With that said, I was quite disappointed in the prizes.  The players who finished in the first four spots received Callaway golf gift cards instead of cash (1st place received $250, 2nd received $150, 3rd $100, and 4th $50), while places five through eight (and the three day money winners) each received a certificate for a complimentary round of golf at the course for two people.  Now I'm not certain what a round of golf for two people costs at the Council Bluffs Country Club, but it couldn't be more than $60, which puts the prize money for our flight (and the three middle flights) around $900.  Yet each flight brought in over $3000 in entry fees.  Only the first and second place finishers received their entry fee back.  The math just doesn't seem right to me.

So, after two days of golf, only two players (out of 26) in my flight are home tonight with a profit.  That's not a very good way to run a tourney in my opinion.

But I am happy with how I performed today.  So I have that going for me.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

1981 Topps Basketball Set

In an attempt to move some of my stale product (basketball cards) to earn some money to buy some new product (Luke Hochevar baseball cards), I've listed my Topps 1981 basketball set on eBay HERE.

This set has 66 base cards that were released nationally.  There are also 44 "regional" cards that were released in three regions (that is, 44 unique cards for each region, or 132 different cards total) -- East, Mid-West, and West.  My collection has all of the 66 base cards, all 44 East cards, and all 44 Mid-West cards.  If I also had all of the West cards, I might think twice about listing them, but since I don't mind listing them on eBay with the hope that someone will buy them for a very high price and I'll be able to increase my Hochevar card collection.

The interesting aspect of this (to me) is the fact that I'm not terribly sad about selling off these cards.  I bought them off eBay a few years ago, so I don't have a very strong connection to them.  I didn't invest any blood, sweat, and tears equity into them like I did with, say, my John Stockton collection. 

It's funny how much of a connection can be created between a person and their cards by merely extracting them from a wax or foil wrapper.


SONG:  "I'm Alright" by Kenny Loggins -- as made famous in the movie Caddyshack.  I've decided that this song will be playing on a loop in my brain as I play my round tomorrow.  Hopefully it'll put me in a chipper (pun intended) mode as I cruise around the course.  Also, I highly recommend you watch the linked video.  It's a live performance of the song from 1981 and Kenny's orange jumpsuit is worth the price of admission.

LIVE COMEDY:  Last night the wife and I went to dinner and a show.  Dinner was at Biaggi's and it was fantastic as usual.  Then we went to the Omaha Funny Bone for an evening of live comedy.  The opening act was funny, although I can't remember the guy's name.  The middle act was a fellow by the name of Dave Landau and he was outstanding.  He delivered a rapid succession of jokes that were top notch.  The headliner was Tommy Johnagin.  If you watched this season of Last Comic Standing with any regularity, then you know who Tommy is and that he's a funny guy.  I highly recommend that you see his live show if he is in your area.

2010 Omaha Metro Golf Championship -- Day One

Day one of the Omaha Metro Golf Championship has come and gone and I find myself sitting in the middle of my flight with TONS of ground to make up if I want to be in the money tomorrow.

I am not very happy with my performance today.  The other day I mentioned that I had five goals for myself for this tournament.  Lets see how I did.

GOAL 1)  No 3 putts.
  • This was one of my weaknesses today.  I did not putt very well.  I could not get a read on the greens.  I believe I three putted two holes on the front and one hole on the back.  I also 4-putted the final hole of the day.  I was super pissed about that one.  By the time I lined up the first of four putts, I was already mentally checked out.  I wasn't in the moment and my score paid the price for my lapse in concentration.  No more of that tomorrow.
GOAL 2)  Shoot between 82 and 86 each day.  
  • Well, I shot a 92 today.  I did not strike the ball particularly well today and I believe my score could have been 5-7 strokes better, but for two poor swings and some poor putting.
GOAL 3)  To help me keep my composure during play, I am going into each day "knowing" that I'll probably have one blowup hole, and if/when it happens, I will not lose my temper. 
  • You know, the thing about this goal was that I was not expecting my blowup hole to happen on the second hole of the day.  After a par on the first hole, I shanked my tee-shot on the second hole (a simple par-3) out of bounds.  The fact that I shanked it caught me so much by surprise, I immediately was fuming.  It happened so quickly that I didn't have time to remember that I was expecting this to happen and that I needed to keep my cool.  So, a quad-bogie later, my day was pretty much shot.  Two holes later, I slice another tee-shot out of bounds and chalk up a triple bogie.  I ended up shooting a 47 on the front side.  My back nine holes actually went a bit better, with a string of bogies and my getting to the final hole with the opportunity to shoot under 90 (which at that point would have been a victory for me).  Four putts later, I closed with a 45.  I sulked to the clubhouse, knowing my shot at winning money was gone.
GOAL 4)  I will go into each round with a game plan and will not "press" myself if things do not go as planned.
  • When my round went flying off the tracks, I was happy that I didn't start pressing.  I played probably 13 quality holes in a row, but was not striking the ball well enough to make up for the two early bad holes.  And I lost my concentration on the final hole, which was not good.
GOAL 5)  No matter what my Saturday score, I will attempt to shoot a lower score on Sunday (even if it is only a one stroke improvement). 
  • I believe I can definitely improve my score tomorrow.  Last year I shot a 94-88, so hopefully I can do it again.  The nice thing about tomorrow is that I have no pressure.  I am pretty much out of contention for the money, so I don't need to worry about my score.  I can just go out, swing the club, be the ball, and hopefully quality scores will follow.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

In the Mail

I've received a few cards via email over the past few weeks that I'd like to showoff. 

The top left card is a 2008 Bowman Chrome Blue Refractor which is serial numbered 38/150.  This card is the seventh parallel card of the 2008 Bowman set that I have, which is notable because it is the first set of cards that I have that fills up more than one row of my card display.

The bottom card is a 2006 TriStar Farm Hands autographed card.  This is the earliest autograph card I have so far.  This card has a "book value" of $50.00 and I bought it for just $0.50.  I almost felt bad getting it for so cheap.  Almost.

The top right card is a 2010 Allen & Ginter Blank Back 1/1 card.  As you can see from the picture below, this card has nothing but a Topps halogram and a 1/1 label on the back.  This is a unique card that the Topps Vault was selling in their eBay store.  Every day the Topps Vault puts out dozens of 1/1 cards that have "blank backs".  They also dig into the archives and put up for sale old photos (which were used to make their cards), "proof" cards which were used early in each card's production, and original pieces of art that were commissioned from various artists to be used to make cards.  It is my favorite eBay store to look through.

My card collecting has slowed down quite a bit since most of the cards that I now need for my collection are the more expensive autograph cards and the harder to find lower numbered serial numbered cards.  But, the chase continues.

However, I have come upon a novel idea.  One of my favorite card collecting blogs is Hey, That's Mine!  The interesting (to me) aspect of this blog is that its author has a side hobby of creating his own, home-made cards.  The ones that I've seen are fabulous.  So, I contacted him earlier this week and asked him if he'd make me a custom Hochevar card using a picture that I personally took.  He said he would.  (You can see some of his other creations HERE.)  I can barely contain my excitement at the prospect of owning a card that was created from one of my pictures.


SONG:  "Spanish Flea" by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass  --  Who knew a trumpet could be so fun? 

LOOKING FORWARD TO:  playing in the two-day, stroke-play Omaha Metro Golf Championship this weekend.  While my goal is to win my flight, I could live with a top three finish.  I also have some smaller goals this tournament which I hope will contribute to my winning my flight. 
1)  No 3 putts.
2)  Shoot between 82 and 86 each day.  With my 12 handicap, I should shoot an 84 (so I'll +/- 2 strokes).  Last year, I went into the tournament not worrying about shooting the course par, but instead focused on shooting my "handicap par", which allowed me to accept the inevitable bogies and (hopefully less inevitable) double bogies.  That mindset was very successful for me, so I'll do it again.
3)  To help me keep my composure during play, I am going into each day "knowing" that I'll probably have one blowup hole, and if/when it happens, I will not lose my temper. 
4)  I will go into each round with a game plan and will not "press" myself if things do not go as planned.
5)  No matter what my Saturday score, I will attempt to shoot a lower score on Sunday (even if it is only a one stroke improvement).

LOOKING FORWARD TO (part 2):  the 1-year anniversary of my blog.  It will be a great time to reflect on what has (to me) been worth writing about over the past year.