Crush, Kill, Destroy, Stress

Man.  Deadlines and real-life work can be a huge time suck…all that work just to pay some bills and a mortgage.  My apologies for being less available on the blog here.  I was really hoping to be more inclined to write daily…well, not daily but at the very least weekly, and that hasn’t happened.  But, hey I’m here and spring training baseball games start on Sunday.  It’s a great time to be alive!  (despite the title of this post).

I’ve mentioned many times that I deal with stress in a very specific way and that way is to sort cards…who woulda guessed that having read my blog over the years.  With that in mind, when I have moments to myself and can duck down to the basement, I sort…crush, kill, destroy, stress…or more appropriately…sort, organize, sleeve, file…maybe that’s a better title.  Less depressing.

How do I sort and collate you ask, well let me tell ya! 

PREFACE:

For me, organization is critical but consistency is vital.  I like to begin with a general idea or template for what the overall collection would look like together then move forward with a plan that hopefully satisfies all the known requirements.  That involves lots of deep thinking whilst drinking bourbon.  The ideas flow way better with brown water, you know. 

For this blog post, I’ll be focusing on stars and Hall of Fame players for baseball.  I’ve done the same for football and basketball players as well as team sorting.  Those may come at a later date if there’s more interest in how I do what I do.

STEP 1: Materials

I’ve decided that space between my cards is important.  I like to give the rows some room to breathe and grow as my collection grows.  Having room also allows to be able to grab the cards as I need and look through them without having to pry them out with a shoe horn.  The best material I’ve utilized for this is foam core, white in this case.  Now, foam core isn’t really great for the environment long term, I know.  Living in Portland, I’m constantly reminded of the horrible things I learned growing up in Texas, but at least I’m aware and try my best.  I do lay the boards out in a way that utilizes the whole sheet as efficiently as possible.  Whenever I have scraps I always find uses for them and am able to make something from them rather than tossing them in the trash can. 

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I typically buy 30” x 42” x 1/8” sheets and start marking them up with guidelines spaced out to 2 3/4″ along the 30” side (14 columns) and 3 3/4″ along 40” side (8 rows).  That gives me 112 pieces with some scraps that work well for shipping or spacing out other projects you may have.

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***If you’re unaware of foam core, don’t want to be presumptuous, It’s easy to find at any art shop as well as most grocery stores.  Everything I purchase is from Blick Art Supplies here in Portland (they’re a national chain so find your Blick!)*** 

STEP 2: Labels

The next step is the label creation.  For this process, I use Adobe InDesign and have created a layout that lets me type in a name easily and move on to the next one.  This does take some time the way I have it set up, but I like it and it works.  Plus, I don’t really update this very much after the initial setup.  I had actually created these labels prior to purchasing a printer and did them on 100lb white card stock.  I wanted something a tad more rigid that would be great long term.  In hindsight, I don’t think this was necessary and regular paper works fine…plus it’s easier to cut.

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Next step was to, very lightly score the top and bottom line above the name.  This part is going to be folded over the labels, so the scoring makes it easier to get a nice bend…told you, I was particular about these things.  Next I cut the columns out, then cut the rows out of each column.  That worked best for me…this part does take some time and patience.  Music or a great podcast helps make it move forward quickly…so, definitely do that…also, bourbon.  Four Roses works best with Queens of the Stone Age.

STEP 3: Adhesion

Third step is the attachment process of the labels to the foam core.  I used white masking tape for this.  You can find this fairly inexpensively at just about any store that has a hardware department or an art store.  Mine came from Blick.  I set up strips of the tape on a cutting mat, following the lines for a nice alignment then cut off the jagged ends.  Next I cut the tape to a length that would be able to wrap around the foam core one complete pass, 6” seem to be a perfect length.

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After the tape has been cut and the labels are stacked and ready to.  Start taping amigo!  Make sure you get the tape tightly wrapped around the four sides and that it hangs down enough so you don’t see the tape.  My goal as to not have any visible tape when I look through the cards.  The very tiny amount of thickness on the tape also provides a bit of space for each card as well.

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Then voila!  You have a Cardboard Hog label!  And it only took 4 weeks!  Just kidding…this is a great Sunday afternoon task if you’re so inclined.

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APPENDIX: Sorting

Now that you’ve got the labels ready to go, it’s time to get your cards sleeved and in the boxes.  I like to use the 5000 count boxes for this activity since it holds the most amount of cards.  It does tend to get a little heavy, but also requires fewer boxes…so, just weigh what you want and need.

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Hopefully everyone is doing this, but I just want to remind you that your cards should all be in penny sleeves…that is if you care about them.  Especially mid-90’s cards.  I’ve lost so many great cards as they’ve turned into bricks.  Leaving me with spotted hall of famers and snowy, beautiful cards like this gem.  Penny sleeves are cheap…like, a penny…or less if you buy in bulk.  Don’t be cheap.  Protect your cards!

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NOTES: Revisiting

I like to revisit these boxes every few months just to get an idea of what I have and to add new items.  It’s an awesome way to work through your collection and reflect on all the time and money you’ve spend collecting pictures of young men that do sports better than your or i. 

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It’s also just a great trip down memory lane.  These boxes contain cards from my childhood.  I’ve had most of them since they came out and when I started collecting back in ’85.  That time to sit back and reflect on those simpler times helps me put things back into focus.  I tend to get caught up in the worst of the worst of a moment.  It’s easy and I’m sure most of us do it.  Taking a step back and realizing that all things pass and life keeps moving forward is important and something we should all be doing periodically, no matter your medium.  Take the time to tell the people around you how much they mean to you and never be too proud to apologize for things you’ve done and are not proud of.  Life is precious and can be great.  Taking the time to enjoy small bites of how you got to where you are today are important.  Even if it means you painstakingly create a label system that can be solved with an off the shelf solution for a quarter the price and time.

Thank you for reading and hope you have a wonderful day!

-Cardboard Hogs

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One of my all-time favorite MC’s is Pharoahe Monch.  I’m sure I’ve mentioned that a few times on here, but it needs to be restated over and over.  He’s phenomenal.  I first heard him in the group Organized Konfusion.  Their first album was excellent and I highly recommend you listen to it, but for me?  The second album was beyond amazing STRESS: The Extinction Agenda.  Here’s the video.

The 1st Post : a peek behind the curtain

I have OCD, ie…having a tendency towards excessive orderliness, perfectionism, and great attention to detail or more generally a fixation on things being where I expect them to be…at all times…you should also read that as control.  I like to have control of things.  Not to a “Sleeping with the Enemy” level, I’m no psycho. 

When I don’t have control of my environment I can get rattled or frazzled.  Thrown off kilter to a point where I can’t manage the task at hand and I need to step away, take a breath or a walk, move on to something else…or just take a nap.  Yeah.  That’s a defeatist perspective, but that’s how my brain works. 

I’ve tried to rewire it, but to no avail. 

I’ve read books on how to let go of things, but to no avail.

I’ve discussed letting go of things beyond my control with professionals, but to no avail.

Honestly, I don’t really care.  I like it.  It’s a daily challenge, but something I’m up for.  The issue is that most of the world around me doesn’t let me work in this format.  I work in an office where you collaborate or die, inclusivity is critical and unilateral decisions aren’t allowed…even if the unilateral decision is the correct one…or so I think.  Maybe it’s for the better?  Who knows?  What I do know is that the world I live in needs to be shared with the people that accompany it with me on a daily basis, and that’s ok.  Just as long as I have my cards.  I can control those.  I can make unilateral decisions and abandon or start a project on a whim.  That’s what I’m talkin’ about!

My cards and my card space are the one thing that I’m able to control (…mostly…), and I like that.  It brings me great joy.  As I’ve mentioned in the past and quite recently, my card space is my respite.  My place to get away.  There are no windows and it can be cold.  It is also a bit dark, read cozy. 

The lack of windows are excellent on these mid to late winter days in the Pacific Northwest as it’s mostly dark and gray outside anyways…plus the cards don’t need vitamin D.  It’s bad for them, well UV rays are bad for the cards.  I’m sure they could benefit from some sort of nutrients. 

The cold, on the other hand…that has a remedy.  I have an electric gas fire place right next to me that I can turn on or off as needed.  There are two problem with this though.  It gets really, really, really hot after five minutes and one of our cats LOVES it.  Loves it so much that he tends to get a little pissy when I turn it off to cool down a bit.  Sometimes, the pissy-ness leads to him jumping on my table and messing up my current stack of work.  Freakin’ cats man…

So, how did I get a card room you ask?  Well, a few years ago our basement was a mess.  A transitional purgatory of sorts.  The space became the in-between, where stuff we didn’t want to see in our main living space upstairs would go before it made its way to the garage.  The next step being the final death march and the once loved items last trip to either Goodwill, the dump or some other location of no return.  That all changed when our then 5 year old son needed the closet in his room for his things…so greedy!

Along with the sign off of my wife, I took over the basement.  I moved in!  All my cards and boxes were moved downstairs and it was great…excellent.  Over the last 30+ months I’ve been fine tuning the space and have it at about 94% where I want it.  I’m working on some more lighting in the space and re-allocation of storage areas.

So without further ado, here are some pics of where I write, open, sort, stack, sleeve, label and store my collection.

My Desk Area

Yeah, this is where the magic happens.  Artifacts and remnants.  Kinda goes against the OCD factor doesn’t it?  Well, this was once a well curated shelf of memorabilia and odd ball items that I didn’t want to store away, but rather have for display.  It’s gotten out of control a bit, but I’ve been working on other things and it’s ok with me.  I kind of enjoy the randomness.  When I did the wallet card post, I pulled them from this shelf and discovered so many things I had forgotten about…that’s kinda fun isn’t it?

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So, about the desk.  I picked that up at a resale furniture place we have on the central eastside called City Liquidators.  I love that place so much, but not as much as I love this desk.  It’s heavy as shit and really, really, really cool.  Three long sliding drawings on the left side filled with penny sleeves, top loaders and mag holders.  I like to have supplies ready to go and hate running out, especially when I’m in the middle of a project.

The desk also has these slide out supports for additional working space on the left and the right.  I like to use the one on the right as the box holder that I’m working through.  It keeps everything out of the way and tidy…clears up the main desk for working.

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The side desk is also great.  My wife had this in her office at one point, but decided she no longer needed it.  I added the cutting mat and use this as my main sorting desk…it’s great to have all these spaces so close to each other as it reduced the getting up and moving around bit that slows down progress.

The room came with a shelf nook that I’ve taken over with Washington Redskins paraphernalia…bobble heads, signed mini helmets and some awesome art work from Gypsy Oak and personal heroes of mine – Lou Gehrig, Sammy Baugh, Muhammad Ali and Hank Aaron.

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The Binder Shelves

The binder shelves were the real bonus of moving downstairs to the basement.  Before I had all these cards in 600, 800 or 900 count boxes.  That was a completely fine solution and I was ok with it, but the thing I love about the cards we all collect is seeing them.  I’m not too fond of just owning it.  I want to be able to see them.  This allows for that.  I’ve made these incredibly simple labels a few years ago that make me happy.  All the binders (for now…1980’s-1990’s Donruss and Fleer coming soon…) are Topps and they show the year with the Topps company logo for the release, totals for the binder and a QR code that takes you to the Cardboard Collection set checklist for some additional information…I was really proud of that addition as it added a little extra.  I’ve also added some “dust collection” binders on top for any update sets and other smaller sets.  The bottom row houses my “ultimate Redskins collection”.  That’s my biggest project.

Above the 1960 – 2005 shelves are the sealed factory sets from 1986 to present, yeah I like to buy those and keep ‘em.  It all started with a Christmas gift in 1986 and I haven’t looked back since.  I’ve also got three Redskins helmets of Alex Smith, Mark Rypien and Doug Williams…still looking for Joe Theismann to complete my Super Bowl winning Quarterback collection.

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The next set of shelves covers 2006 – present as well as the Topps Heritage sets I’ve got.  The 5000 count boxes above are all my common baseball cards organized by division and by team.  Five rows works out nice until they expand…then these will need to be adjusted.

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The Armoir

The armoir is the player PC home.  This is where the Rickey Henderson and Derek Jeter cards live along with baseball and football stars.  Removeable tabs to allow for adjustments…😊.  I also keep my backup stash here and some other very random items that I’ve been working through over the COVID working from home era.

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Below are two pull out drawers that hold the smaller player PC collection that includes; Don Mattingly, Dale Murphy, Bryce Harper, JT Riddle, Yankees cards, Robinson Cano, Steven Strasburg, Trea Turner along with a few other young stars from the Yankees and Nationals.

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The Bookshelves

The bookshelves…another collection of mine.  One that probably annoys my wife the most.  I read quite a bit and really enjoy reading…just not enough to justify the amount of books I own.  Have you ever seen that Twilight Zone where the guy just wants to read all day…that would be me, but also organize my cards.  Unfortunately, my job gets in the way of that.  This shelf also houses the tins from earlier this year…you know, prior to all this COVID insanity.  Remember when these were a thing?  Seems like three years ago now.

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Moving down we have some flat files that houses my wifes photography (she’s professional photographer) as well as some of my other posters or large items that I have no wall display for.  This is also my photographing station…the black box…along with a hat collection…jeez, I collect everything…

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The Storage Room

Last stop on the insanity train…I’m realizing how nuts this is now that I’m writing about it…I hate to run out of supplies.  I also have an issue with buying pairs of things.  If my wife asks me to pick up a dozen eggs, she knows I’m coming home with twenty-four.  No idea why I can’t control that…it just happens.  Everything you see here is supplies.  Supplies for shipping eBay stuff.  Supplies for storing and protecting cards…just more stuff to hold all my stuff.

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Since I only care about the Washington Football Team, I sell any football cards I get…this is where they live until I move them.

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Here are some more back up supplies.  If the box is empty, I store it upside down.  If the box has foam core spacers in it, right side up.  I have a system ya’ll

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Lastly, some Project 2020 stuff that I’ll share once I’ve got everything in order.  Some loved it, some hated it.  I loved it and thought the cards were great in hand…coming soon!

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So yeah, lots of stuff and lots of collecting going on here.  I do have a problem, but more importantly I have a patient wife that allows me to do what I love.  This keeps me sane and refreshes me when I need it most.  I really hope you enjoyed the virtual tour of my space and would love to see what you all are working with.  I know this has been done to no end before, but it’s always great to see how people are managing their collections and a great way to get some new ideas.

Thanks!

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It’s 2021 and we’re still here.  Alive and well.  I hope this year is a wonderful year for every one of you out in the blogosphere.  I missed you guys and glad to be back in the mix a bit.  I have some plans for what I want to write about in ’21 and excited to share once that gets going.  Thanks for reading and I’m happy that we’re all still standing…