I decided to go ahead and clear a spot in my player binders for Xander Bogaerts. He’s not going anywhere, the Sox are clearly invested in him and since moving back to SS he’s been more confident and it’s translated into his play. Xander_Lot

I think, with the exception of the 2013 Pro Debut and the Archives cards, that I actually had all these, but I like to maintain the team sets as they are and my player collections are strictly duplicates, which means I needed another copy of most of these. The whole collection came together and included multiples of each card. I think there were 20 or so cards all together. All together they make a nice group/binder page. The 2013 Pro Debut and the Ginter are probably my favorites, but the photo they used for the GQ card is equally awesome.

Catching up

This summer had been a bit of a roller-coaster, especially professionally. All the company restructuring that was supposed to happen didn’t pan out, the company is now solidified once again, with a new “cost cutting” management team, which probably means a round of layoffs at some point. I feel fairly confident that they won’t involve me, but you’re never really certain about those sorts of things.

The situation with my family has also resolved itself, through heated arguments, resulting in them being angry at me for asserting myself and taking control of the situation. Apparently I’m not supposed to be a grown-up when talking to my parents, and by acting as one, they feel threatened. It’s for the best that they left, maybe they’ll come around someday. Honestly, I’ve stopped caring. You can only be taken advantage of for so long.

All that drama that had left me with fairly sleepless nights, stress and stomach ulcers has seemingly dissipated for the moment. While I feel much better now, it resulted in being in a pretty low place this summer. Now I have some catching up to do. I haven’t posted, I haven’t collected, I haven’t really given anything beyond my personal sphere of influence much thought.

I have a few personal projects I’m hoping to work on. My main quest for the fall is to clean out the garage. We’ve been housing the accumulated junk from three generations of family and it’s time to simply let some of it go. I think we’re going to rent a dumpster. It’s the only way to really get rid of some of it. Once that’s cleaned out, I’ll have a work space to work on everything else. There’s a large work bench area which includes some nice cabinets and even a drill press and grinder. That could go a long way in helping…

Mod out my smoker. I’m excited at the thought of taking my BBQ smoking to the next level. I’ve always been a BBQ nut, but living in Texas has brought that to a whole new level. I’ve perfected my ribs and pork butt and my brisket is coming along nicely. Most people say the first two are excellent and they went over well at the recent large cookouts I’ve done. My brisket is ok, perfectly acceptable, but it’s nothing out of this world. I think it’s mainly the cuts of meat I get. I’m limited to mostly Select and Choice. It’s expensive to step up to the Prime grade or something crazy like some Texas Wagu. I want to nail my flavor profile before I drop $100 on a brisket. My smaller smokers and my vertical smoker are great for smaller cooks, but if I’m having 40 people over I’m going to need something a little bigger. Saving for my next super-large smoker is something I’m going to budget for.

Also on the list is my growing home media server. I’ve gone back through my massive collection of music and movies and I’ve been ripping personal copies whenever I have a spare minute. I started with the things we watch and listen to the most, which these days tends to be Pixar and Disney movies. The kiddo loves having an entire digital library at her fingertips. I Frankenstein’ed a server together, stuck three 1TB drives in it and I’m in the process of filling them up. I’m running Plex as my interface across my Roku devices and I’m using CouchPotato and SickBeard in additional to my already established collection to supply content. So far it’s going quite well. I need to swap out the video card for something tiny and passively cooled. Since I occasionally need to poke around at settings, I have it hooked up to a monitor and the only video card I had laying around is a gaming grade double-slot card. It’s loud, hot and completely overkill. I’ll find something on sale one day and replace it.

Elsewhere, I’m back on finishing up my various websites again. With WP 4.0 finally out and a theme I can use as a platform, I can move forward with at least two of them. I’ve got all the content uploaded to my portfolio site but I haven’t found the time to write descriptions and tag everything. I’ve also got 3 or 4 client sites to work on which are keeping me busy and supplied with a little card money for the ever growing collection.

These days boxes and packs just do nothing for me but simply buying team sets doesn’t really have any thrill to it. It’s still fun, but I’m constantly refining what I’m looking for in a collection. I’m leaning more and more towards slightly higher-end singles. I’d rather pay $10 for a card I really want than $20 for a blaster of crap. I also need to refine my lists again. I also need to make a massive COMC/Sportlots purchase and just finish off some of them. Things like 2 minis from 2012 Ginter are easily picked up and it would be good to just cross those sorts of things off the list.

That’s all. There wasn’t really any point to this entire post, just felt like getting some stuff off my chest.



It’s been nearly a month since my last post and things haven’t gotten any better. In most ways, they’ve gotten worse. My job woes continue and there’s likely no resolution until at least July. Three different companies with three different people claiming to be my new boss are pulling me in three different directions and I’ve yet to get a formal offer letter from any of them. So, in all honesty, my motivation for working hard for any of them seems rather low. Why throw 80 hours at a project that I’ll get cut from. I’m more focused on just trying to not make any of them angry until I figure out where I’m going to land. My office, the actual one I’m sitting in, might get moved to another floor and or removed all together and I’ll work from home. It all depends on how much money the company wants to shave off it’s budget. We have huge equipment in here (44″ Epson roll printer, 40″ flatbed scanners, 48″ vinyl cutter, etc. etc). Its not like any of this stuff will fit in a cubical. Keeping an office for this stuff actually makes logistical sense, so, of course, that sense will be ignored by everyone in upper management. I’ll be lucky if I’m working out of the loading dock this time next month.

There’s also a lot going on on a personal level. My parents are still living with us, despite insistence that “June” is a hard deadline for them leaving. That’s creating a lot of stress. It’s not that I want to kick them out, but I just don’t see any movement or motivation from them. They need to be working towards some sort of goal and, most importantly, working a day job. I’ve yet to see evidence of either.

Freelance work has slowed down after a busy spring. I’ve got two projects on my plate and I’m waiting on checks from both of them. My big “going to make my summer” gig fell through for budget reasons on the client’s end and it looks like it won’t be happening all together. That was going to literally fund my hobbies well into Christmas.

Baseball card wise, which is why most of you are here, I’m completely unimpressed with most of the current offerings. I bought a Bowman team set and now I’m just sitting on my hands waiting for Ginter. I loath Archives, I’m not buying the super over-priced Tier 1, and I’ve finished most everything else. I bought a Bowman blaster last weekend because I couldn’t find anything else to even consider. My Targets/WMs aren’t stocking Panini products at all and I’m not sinking any money into that black hole called Heritage. So, basically, I’m waiting for something interesting, and I’m not wasting any more until then. Smart for the wallet, bad for the tradebait.

I did receive a couple PWEs, which I appreciate more than anything. You fellow collectors are awesome awesome and thank you for thinking of me. They’ll be posted on their own, it’s only fair.

Video games are also depressing. E3 is next week and we’ll get to hear about all the great games we won’t be playing until next year, meanwhile the only thing worth even looking at this summer is WatchDogs which is still only getting mediocre reviews. Hell, I’m still playing Black Flag which was a birthday gift 7 months ago. If that’s not depressing, I don’t know what is.

My wallet is empty, my car is making a funny noise, my parents are driving me nuts, my job is downsizing, and life is stressful. The only thing trending upwards these days is my blood pressure.

In case you’re still reading at this point, my primary focus is on finishing my new portfolio site and polishing my resume and linkedin profile, just in case. I’m going to be throwing lots of time towards my portfolio site, so posts here might still be few and far between. Rest assured, I haven’t given up, far from it. I haven’t abandoned this site in 13 years and I’m not about to start now. We all go through seasons in life, and right now, it’s a Winter, despite what the temperature outside may be.


How to: Gypsy Queen

Alright Photoshop warriors, it’s tutorial time. A couple pre-requisites for this one. PS CS4 and above required for this one. I believe it was CS4 that added some of the HDR options we’ll be using. I’m using CS6, but 4 and 5 should be more than sufficient. Also, right off the bat, you’re going to need a really large source file. If you’re looking to use a 200k screen grab of your favorite player, you’re going to have a bad time, but more on this in a minute.

Alright, let’s outline what we’re trying to do: We’re trying to recreate the photo effect used on Topps Gypsy Queen baseball cards. I would describe this effect as High Dynamic Range coupled with copious amounts of grain. It’s just surreal enough to have an almost painterly look to it.


Custom Gypsy Queens

Today I have a teaser. I wanted to duplicate the HDR-ish effect of Gypsy Queen card photos and I think I came pretty close. Here’s a preview of the effect, and a side-by-side comparison with an actual real card. Tomorrow, I’ll show you how to actually do it.


The Good Stuff

Finally, we come to the end of the rainbow. This post may be exceedingly long, mostly due to the fact that I wanted to post most of these individually. Everything here will be part of my personal collection. These are the reasons I went to the card show in the first place. Just as a reminder, everything up to this point, including these, was under $100. I found rookies I needed, early player cards, relics, autos, even a couple really nice graded cards. Also included are some player collections, some of which aren’t really that epic, but I wanted to include them anyway. Let’s start with those and work our way up. Enjoy!