For many students across the country today marks the end of summer vacation and the return to school.
For those of us no longer in school, today means a return to having to pay attention to school zones along our daily commute.
Aside from the impacts of school zones and roads clogged with big yellow buses, for many people the start of school means a return to high school football on Friday nights, or in some cases Thursday nights or Saturday mornings.
Back when I covered high school football varsity games were only held on Friday nights.
Through the years, I have collected everything from Matchbox Cars to books from the late 19th to early 20th centuries.
It has been said that my collections have collections.
Among all of my collections and interests, one of the earliest things I collected were baseball cards.
Back when packs of baseball cards could still be purchased for pocket change and included a stick of card staining bubble gum, I collected cards with the best of them.
I even had a small business selling cards to my friends and neighbors and would buy boxes of cards at the Sam’s Club. I would also ride my Diamondback bike to the neighborhood 7-11 and get a few packs of cards, some comic books and some powdered doughnuts.
Of course, I would not look at the cards and comic books while eating the powdered doughnuts. No one wants to get powdered sugar on their cards and comic books.
From 1983 to the mid-nineties, I collected cards with a vengeance. My collection was not limited to baseball cards. Football, hockey and NASCAR cards were also collected. I even have some cards from various televisions shows and movies.
Put quite frankly, my collection of cards had a collection of cards.
A goal each year was to compile a complete set of cards.
Many of the sets were put together pack by pack, which meant many doubles, triples, and even fourths of cards were inevitable.
In some cases, the extra cards could be traded for missing cards needed to complete the collection. In most cases though, the extras went into boxes in a closet to be forgotten about.
While I always preferred the traditonal method of completing a set one pack at a time, some times sets joined the collection as part of factory sealed sets which allowed me to finish the set with a single purchase. Factory sets also ensured that the dreaded gum stained cards would not be an issue.
The other day, it was announced that Ryne Sandberg had been named manager of the Philadelphia Phillies. That announcement got me thinking about baseball cards again.
So, what does Ryne Sandberg’s promotion have to do with baseball cards? I am glad you asked.
It has to do with baseball cards in that the promotion of Ryne Sandberg got me thinking about my 1983 Topps baseball set; which included Ryne Sandberg’s rookie card. The 1983 Topps set also included the rookie cards of Hall of Famers Wade Boggs and Tony Gwynn.
As I was thumbing through my 1983 set, I was reminded that while it was the first year that I started collecting baseball cards. It also represented my only unfinished set in my collection.
So, 30 years after I first started the set, I decided while sitting on my living room floor that I would finished the set before Christmas this year.
It would have been much easier to have had this grand vision back in January to have eight more months in which to work on the goal. However, I have always worked better under the pressure of deadlines. So, over the next four months I will complete the set.
Finding assorted 30-year old baseball cards will not be easy. While there are a few shops that may still have a dusty binder full of cards, it is more likely that I will end up using the internet to find the missing pieces of cardboard.
Back when I was collecting my sets before, I carried around checklists in my wallet for each set I was working on. The checklist was numbered from 1 to 792, or how ever many cards that particular set had and has I found a card I would cross it off of the list.
The checklists came in quite handy whenever I was trading cards with friends or looking through boxes of cards at a baseball card shop. With a single glance I could tell which cards I had and which ones I needed.
Sadly, I could not locate my 1983 checklist when I went looking for it. So, the first step in resuming the quest to finish the set was to determine how many cards I still needed by creating a new checklist.
One by one, I went through my binder with the 1983 set in it and crossed of the corresponding number on the checklist. I was encouraged as each number was crossed off since it meant that it was one less card that I needed to find.
After a very detailed review, it was determined that I still need 125 of the 792 cards in the set to complete my 30-year quest. While the number is larger than I had hoped, it is certainly doable to complete.
A quick search online showed that I could order the complete 1983 set for around $50 if push comes to shove. However, I think I will try the old fashioned one card at a time route just like 30-years ago me would have done.
This time I will have Ebay at my disposal. So, I will only have to worry about getting the powdered doughnut stains on the keyboard instead of the cards.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to try to figure out where to find some 30 year-old baseball cards.
Baseball is often a game that is slow to embrace change.
This can at times be both charming, as it harkens to a simpler time, as well as being frustrating to some when the old ways can shift the outcomes of games through blown calls that seem obvious to everyone other than the umpires making the calls.
This is not to say that umpires are to be blamed for all blown calls. They are often times having to make a split second decision between safe and out without the benefit of the high definition slow motion angles that the viewers at home have.
That is also why a close call is never replayed in the ballpark. This is done to avoid further inciting fans who feel that a call was not made the way it should be.
Many sports already use replay to help with questionable calls. The NFL has replay on all scoring plays in addition to coach
As anyone who has ever watched Law & Order, Law & Order: SVU, Law &Order: Criminal Intent, Law & Order UK, or the lesser known Law And Order: Mall Security Division knows there are two sides to the criminal justice system for the investigating and prosecuting of offenders.
While the shows in the L&O canon go into great detail to tell us their stories, there is a third side to the justice triangle that is often overlooked.
I am of course talking about the juries who listen to the prosecuting and the defending and render a verdict. I recently was called to jury duty, this is my story.
While Americans have many rights and responsibilities as part of being voting citizens, one area of responsibility that is often compared to that of having a root canal is the requirement to serve on a jury when summoned.
My day in court as it were occurred yesterday and started with a one hour drive in rush hour traffic to arrive at the Juror Processing Center. Throughout the entire commute I was reminded of why I never want to make a long rush hour commute a part of my daily life.
More power to those brave folk who make the bumper to bumper drive twice a day. As for me I will keep my short interstate free commute for as long as I can.
Of course in the spirit of full disclosure it should be noted that one can take a bus ride from the suburbs to jury duty so it is not necessarily required to use a car.
After parking in a shaded parking garage I arrived at the Juror Processing Center right on time. After a quick trip through the metal detector I was directed to one of five separate but equally important waiting rooms filled with a couple hundred of my peers.
It should be pointed out that the juror waiting rooms are below ground to allow easy access to the tunnel system that connects it to each of the various courthouses. While this works great for the convenience of travel. It does not really bode well for electrical devices such as cell phones.
While there was wireless internet access available my cell phone could not get a signal in the depths of the juror cellar.
So as I sat there looking at all of the happy people on their Kindles and laptops enjoying the wireless connectivity I wished that I had brought a low tech book to have something to do to pass the time.
Thankfully though I did have my MP3 player so all was not lost in terms of passing the time.
After about three hours of waiting my number was called and it was off to the criminal court building for juror selection.
Recently it was announced that parking along the Seawall in Galveston would no longer be free.
City leaders had been trying for years to turn the parking spots along the beach into revenue so the fact that they succeeded in finding a way to do that should really surprise no one.
Of course whether they are providing a product that is worth paying to see is another issue entirely.
It is no secret that while I am a fan of the town of Galveston and its various historic places, my affinity for the island ends pretty much where the seawall begins. To put it bluntly Galveston has an ugly beach that one could not pay me to swim in.
So when it was announced that visitors would now have to pay for the privilege of parking along the seaweed covered shores it made me laugh.
The parking meter system that was chosen made me laugh even more since it seems to discriminate against people who do not have cell phones.
That’s right boys and girls one now needs a cell phone or another means of wireless access to the web to pay for a parking spot on the seawall since the meters do not accept cash or credit cards.
I know that it is assumed in this day and age that everyone has at least one cell phone.