Personal – Design – Cards
…no, seriously. I have no idea.
I just looked back and apparently the last time I posted something was last June. It’s April now, so that’s a solid 10 months, which is ridiculous. Not that anyone reads these (except for the 3 or 4 of you who are awesome human beings), but more like I missed talking to myself. Maybe it’s the “personal journal” aspect, but there’s a lot going on that doesn’t fit nicely into a blog about baseball cards. Not that it was ever primarily about baseball cards. It’s still a blog about life, and man, sometimes life just gets busy.
We got a cat. That’s a thing that happened. I never thought I’d actually type that. I’m allergic to cats. Well, most cats. Apparently, there are a few hypoallergenic breeds, and we happened to find one. Technically he’s a mutt, but his dad was one of those breeds, so he’s at least 51% not bothering my sinuses. He’s actually the nicest cat I’ve ever met, which is saying a lot, because cats are usually assholes. They are.
I had a bunch of projects, both work and personal. The company full embraced work-from-home and that’s a big deal with IT and how we remotely support all our employees. We had a bunch of systems in place already when the pandemic hit, but we (the IT guys) have had to become instant experts in Teams, OneDrive, VPN configurations, RDP support, etc. It’s been interesting, challenging and a huge learning experience, all things I enjoy.
Art wise, 2021 was technically slower than 2020, which was odd because you’d figure 2020 would have been THE time to sit at home and do some creating. I did all sorts of various projects, but whereas 2020 had a few dozen, 2021 only had a couple, but they were large.
My favorite one was a custom set of cards for SuperBreak featuring 1/1 autographs for Yankee’s prospect Jasson Dominguez. Yes, that Jasson Dominguez. In late 2020 I had created a design for an autograph opportunity, and we sent them off to Dominuez’s agent in Florida. He signed them and returned them, but then we ended up sitting on them until we were able to get more card making supplies due to pandemic shortages. A couple months into 2021 and I was able to start making cards again.
I did 6 sets numbered out of 5. Gold, silver and blue. Then I did 20 unique 1/1s. I pulled out all the stops, found the craziest patterns and colors for foil, and did these completely meticulously by hand. I even hand cut them with exactos because I wanted to get the cuts perfect and my trimmer has a slight margin for error.
These ended up going in what I think is SuperBreak’s current product “2022 Super Glow”. Check them out here and here.
I also ended up creating an entire set of “historic memorabilia” cards that’s as-of-yet been unpublished. It was a huge 60+ subject checklist with single, double and triple relics. I’ll save those for another time.
Lately I’ve been increasingly happy to be working on my own designs again. After meeting up with some old college friends last month, I realized my need to create for my own sake has never, and most likely will never, go away.
Having switched jobs from a 90% creative roll into a 5% creative roll and completely technical field I realized I really missed it. It’s funny that when I was creating for others I was getting burnt out on it and was feeling “done” with corporate design. Now that I don’t design 9-5 every day, I can get back into it for all the right reasons, because I love it.
At the moment I’m working on posters/minis (yes, that’s a weird combo) in a late-1800s tobacco card style. I’ve gone with “watercolor-esque” backgrounds of all 30 MLB stadiums, with players on top in a sort of Gypsy Queen treatment. I wanted the stadiums to resemble old lithography prints, and the players to stand out but not be 100% “modern photographs” on top. Hence the effects. I also found an excellent accompanying font that I think works with the period pieces. I also found a really fun tool for making a vintage logotype for the backs.
When I started creating them I was really only paying attention to the aspect ratio (the overall width and length ratio), and trying to match it to modern mini inserts, and then I realized my master design files were actually 18+ inches wide, and with a little tweaking would make excellent posters. This is what it looks like on 22” paper (mini included for scale).
My plan is to actually print these. At the very very least print a set for me to put in a binder. I’d love to find a printer who can do short runs on thick card stock, but so far I haven’t found the right one. I don’t know about selling them, seeing as how I’ve used not only pictures of the players with obvious copyrights to the photographers, but also the stadiums, which might be even more copyright protected due to their corporate sponsorship/ownership (depending on the stadium). There might be a “donation” opportunity or a “raffle” (with guaranteed odds), for a VERY limited number of sets, but we’ll just have to see.
Beyond these I’ve got plans for a variation on Panini Select and a completely different take on 2022 Gypsy Queen (because this year’s design really sucks). That’s in the pipeline for May. After that I might be venturing into game design with a friend this summer, we’ve been itching to put together a family friendly dungeon crawler using Unity (think more Torchlight, less Diablo).
Today is a rather somber day. Today we received word that our department might be on the chopping block at work. Normally I wouldn’t even mention work, but layoffs are a pretty big deal, and it pretty much destroyed my good mood today.
You see, today is also the anniversary of this blog. On April 29th, 2001 I started blogging on this domain. A previous blog existed on another, but this anniversary is specifically for this blog, and not my blogging in general. Fourteen years! That’s both remarkable, and kind of crazy at the same time.
I had planned on telling the tale of early blogging, my thoughts in blogging in general, and how fortunate I was for both the ability to write what I please, and for the people who actually bothered to listen.
Instead, I’m actually rather depressed at the moment. I’m being asked to, essentially, justify my existence, again. We’re a small group, just 3 guys. We had 5 at one point but one got let go and another left for greener pastures. You’d figure that removing 2/5 of the salaries in the group over the past few year would be enough in these cost cutting times, but apparently we’d both be wrong about that. We’ve been more efficient. We’ve gotten the job done with 3 rather than 5. Apparently they want to find out if it can be done with 1, or even none.
Nothing is certain. We all may be fine. But when they ask an entire department to submit “detailed reports” about every item you work on, and what you do every day, they’re looking to make cuts. They want to see who has “real” work and who is just barely keeping busy.
I don’t care about much of anything outside of the current situation. I’m sure you might be more interested in what cards I got, or what BBQ place I tried the other day but I can’t bring myself to write more than a sentence about that stuff at the moment.
Thankfully, I’ve written about my blogging in the past. So, just for today, on my blog’s anniversary, I’ll refer you to a post from a couple years ago…
The Back Story.
Happy Blog-Birthday Everyone…
I fully realized I hadn’t posted in about 3 weeks, and I really wasn’t that concerned. Late fall and early winter are kind of down seasons for me, at least historically. I’ve trimmed back my video game binging to merely a game or two, baseball cards have ended most production runs for the year, the holidays happen whether we want them to or not, and work generally grinds to a halt. That would be the perfect time for reflection and insight into the year thus far, but the lack of motivation usually takes it’s toll.
I’m also unsatisfied with my own web projects in general (don’t worry, it happens every year). About now I start noticing how dated my designs looks, I contemplate redesigning it, and it’s pretty much a 50/50 that I actually get around to it. This year in particular my general design is bothering me. It’s bland. It’s lacking any visual interest, probably because it was intended to emphasize text and fontography, which I then ignored. It’s also minimalistic, which of course was the trend at the time I rolled it out. That’s the problem with trends, they die. Currently, “massive fonts” and “full screen images” are in. Don’t worry, not going in that direction.
Oh, and I also smoked a turkey for Thanksgiving. How’s that for a random segueway?
I think I had mentioned my love for the barbeque arts in passing on previous posts. It’s gotten slightly out of hand. I’m smoking whole briskets and pork shoulders now. My pulled pork is actually quite good. I’m catering a small party next weekend. Go figure.
The turkey was actually pretty easy. Quick Simon & Garfunkel rub (Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme, get it?) inside and out, and some butter injected into the breasts. Smoked at 325° for 2 ½ hours with apple wood. Easy as pie. Nice and golden and crispy on the skin, smoked and juicy on the inside. Completely blew our previous fried turkeys out of the water.
While the turkey was awesome, the highlight of the day was my kiddo finding snails in the backyard. She’s completely fearless, and just all around awesome. Not that a snail would hurt anyone, but most girls would run away screaming. I’m a proud daddy.
After dinner I settled in for some traditional Call of Duty. I’m actually pleased with this years offering. It’s clear what the extra year of production time did for it’s development. I don’t think you’d get anyone is disagree that Advantaced Warfare is far more polished that the previous few years. It’s good to get that fix of “twitch” shooter back. I had been missing it for quite a while. It’s like wearing that old comfortable hoodie, the one you just dug out of the closet because the weather is finally cold enough to wear it. Turkey, apple pie, and headshots, what could be better?
There have been some baseball cards purchased over the past few weeks. Most of them are going towards a rainbow that I’m nearly finished with. I’ll tease it with the best of the bunch, and you can clearly see why. Puns!
Yeah, that’s pretty sweet.
There’s not really that much else going on. I’d post more cards if I actually cared about any of the sets released in the last couple weeks. What I should do is round everything up and make some end of the year checklists for things I’m missing. There we go, I just gave myself a to-do list. That might actually get done. The website redesign, meh, 50/50.
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.
I’ve been neglectful in my posting, and I’m actually getting quite annoyed by it. Not at myself for not budgeting my free time, but at work for denying the free time in the first place. It was really a combination of outdated servers, old operating systems, an IT department that botched a PHP upgrade, and some depreciated WordPress plugins that has led to a perfect storm of woe. I’ve been waist deep in “emergency repair” to my companies intranet for nearly two weeks now.
I basically had to scrap 1200 documents in a “downloads” system, install a new one, and reupload and RELINK all 1200 files again. It’s been a nightmare. Needless to say, by the time I get home each night, the last thing I want to look at is a computer screen.
I’ve got at least 6-7 posts worth of cards scanned, including my Ginter master team set from Topher, and I just haven’t gotten around to posting any of them. I also have one pending trade to negotiate, and two “I’m sending you cards” packages all packed up, just sitting on my desk. I’m a terrible person.
I will, eventually, get all this back on track, but it might not be until September that I get back on a regular posting schedule. Duty calls, and the webmaster answers!
So much going on in April, I haven’t even had a change to write recently. I’ve been working all week, and working extra photo shoot on the weekends. I’m just wiped out. On top of that, we had some remodeling work done in our office and removed a few walls to make the space more “open concept”, which is a nice corporate way of saying “shitty” and “we want to be able to see what you’re doing”. If I ever meet the person responsible for that shift in corporate culture I’m going to be sure to kick him square in his Italian dress slacks. So, we packed up everything, moved two suites further down the hall, squatted in a conference room for 5 days, then took 3 days moving everything back and rearranging our new space.
The upside of all of that is that I now get a “window office”, without the walls to make it an office. I’ll call it a “window corner” instead. The downside is that I’m now sitting in what used to be the server closet, complete with it’s over-zealous air conditioning system. It’s 50 degrees in my corner, and 75 in the rest of the office. Not that I mind being slightly cooler, but my hands are turning blue and my glasses fog up whenever I cross the room to get coffee. They need to come fix this.
In other news, I did some minor upgrades to the old personal PC. I’m rocking a new GTX 650 and 2 new sticks of memory. The only trouble I had was since I was now way over 4gb of ram, I needed to use the 64-bit version of Windows 7, instead of the 32-bit I was running before. That’s ok though, I have a legit copy of Win7, and had the install disc handy. I pop it in, get everything rolling, only to realize that the disk only has the 32-bit version on it. Whoops, my bad, used the wrong disc. I pull out the box, and the 64-bit sleeve… and no disc. I have no idea where I put it. I have a, for once, completely legit copy of Windows 7 and I’ve completely lost the disc. Thankfully I know someone with a TechNet subscription and they grabbed me the ISO. That’s my project for this weekend. Hopefully it should go smoothly.
Lastly, I haven’t forgotten about those boxes of cards that I have all packed and ready. Free cards for you guys still takes some money on my end, and I’m just waiting for pay day, then they’ll be on their way. Scouts honor.