Chaos and Kanji is the blog where I write about my adventures through Japan!

Want Lists are located here. NPB Baseball Want List is located here.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

When the Ship Hits the Fan

Fuji's final question comes in the form of, well, a question.

Which method do you find best for shipping cards?

Fuji's final question is difficult to answer right now. Why? Because I'm in Japan. I have shipped exactly one package - to Fuji!
Unfortunately, with no real supplies on-hand right now, and not much experience shipping in the past six months, I can't offer much advice. But here's my ideal situation.
Of course, there are always PWE trades, and for those I love the semi-rigid holders. They seem to travel through the postal system much easier, and I don't think I've ever had problems. I don't like PWEs for purchases unless it's a cheap card with free or nearly-free shipping (like Sportlots).
For small trades, cards go in sleeves and rigid top-loaders, "sealed" with a small piece of scotch or blue tape (whatever's on-hand).
Anytime multiple top-loaders or cards without top-loaders are sent, I also use team bags.
For any shipment that doesn't include top-loaders on the outside of the team bags, I add "padding" cards - several extra cards just laying around or a couple of those thick dummy cards.
I then use 000 padded mailers, as the pack the cards in well without leaving room to wiggle around too much yet should be large enough for most stacks of cards to avoid corner dinging. For larger trades where there's more than a team bag or so of cards I use larger mailers.
However, now that I'm here in Japan, the best mailer seems to be the one I sent Fuji - about the size of a business envelope but padded. It can fit 2-3 team bags worth of cards, or several (smaller) packs of cards.
I tried to reuse the top-loaders in future trades while I lived in San Francisco, but I tended to use new sleeves, team bags, and envelopes. Here in Japan, everything's new since I don't have top-loaders. In fact, since top loaders are so expensive (all card supplies are pretty expensive - those cardboard boxes start well over 100 yen each), I'll probably find plastic inserts or other means to protect any more-valuable cards I ship back to the US.
I dislike excessive taping of packages. There's secure, and there's overkill! A package should be easy to open. Along those lines, scotch tape around top-loaders doesn't bother me too much, provided I can safely cut it with my scissors or pocket knife without damaging the cards. Sure, the tape can't be reused and the top-loader can't be used to display or attractively store the card, but at least the supplies can be used for future trades.  And along those lines, who decided it was necessary to tape every little edge of cardboard boxes? There's only one way to open cardboard card storage boxes, and a single piece of shipping tape across that edge will keep the box from opening on accident.

Those are my thoughts on shipping! I aim for secure but economical. On the receiving end, all I care about is sufficient effort being put out to be sure I get the cards in the same condition they were sent.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Eyes on the prize: Thinking outside the box

Fuji's daily post-writing campaign has sure kept me busy, right in the middle of my preparations for Taiwan! I hope this gets wrapped up by Sunday, or I might have trouble keeping up next week!

Today, he asks:

What are your three most prized possessions in your collection?

I accidentally read Night Owl's perspective on this an hour ago (I try not to read others' responses until I write my own) and I like where he went with this. If I could only take three items from my collection with me, what would they be?
 As always, I've let the question flip through my head a few times over the course of the past twelve hours or so. Money isn't always a factor. Rarity? Sentimental value? Difficulty in obtaining? Do I choose favorite cards that I could theoretically replace, or items that have a connection to a specific event?
It's a tough decision, but in the end, cardboard is just cardboard. There are cards in my collection that mean a lot to me, but (other than the 1/1s) every card I own could be found again on the market, somewhere. So I thought outside the (baseball card) box and came up with the following list.
First, I grab my Ben Folds autographed ticket stub, photo pass, and CD display that I put together from concerts I attended a few years ago. The three concert stubs framed in that display represent my devotion to one of my favorite musical artists, and the autograph signifies our meeting, a point in my life I will never forget.
Then, I grab my tickets. Again, these are sentimental and irreplaceable. They are my written record and memory of all the concerts, baseball games, and shows I've been to in my life. (FYI, no, there are no movie ticket stubs in there.)
Finally, and most importantly, I grab my portable computer hard drive. I do my best to keep backups of everything - all my photos from travel and events, all my scans of many of the cards in my collection, videos and stories and three decades of music - in a secure, offsite location. But I'd rather grab the original, most up-to-date copy. And while a hard drive isn't a "collectible" in and of itself, it has equally-important "digital" collections (of the music, movies, stories, and photos I've found, bought, accumulated, and taken over the years).
Are you disappointed? Were you expecting to see me swoon over an autograph or relic? Or my first cards? Sorry, I think outside the card box!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Why ask why?

Do you remember those commercials? I didn't have my first beer until long after the Bud Dry commercials dried up (pun intended), but the slogan really stuck with me as a response to "Why?"

Fuji asks:

Why do you collect?

Why? That's the great question. (Except the answer isn't 42.)

As I've been turning this question over in my mind I've thought carefully about the real reasons why I collect. You know, the subconscious reasons.

Prepare to get serious.

And as I've thought about what caused it, my mind went into a very strange, dark place where I don't like to think. It's no deep, dark secret, but it's heavy psychology.

My family are hoarders. I don't want to go into it too much, partly because it's a personal side of someone else's life. But I will say my mom did a great job a couple years ago cleaning up her life and cleaning out her house, and I helped my grandma do the same with her basement last year.

I, too, had accumulated boxes and boxes of junk as my interests have changed. When I was a kid, I had plenty of toys. I kept a lot of them because I planned on sharing them with children of my own (though I still have no kids). My first major baseball card collecting phase was 1989-1998, and all my cards from that time were condensed into storage boxes and carted around from place to place after college. After I lost interest in baseball cards, I got big into action figures (from a collectible standpoint) and movie stuff - this is when I worked at Blockbuster, so I had access to the latest movies' posters, toys, and memorabilia tie-ins. As I started traveling around America, I found little souvenirs to remind me of my visits.

It wasn't until around March or April of 2010 that I realized that everything I had and everything that my life "meant" to me was not what I wanted. I figured out that I needed to clear out the clutter, and got rid of the junk. I still have all my baseball cards and a lot of other souvenirs from my travels and movie interests, but I sold all the figurines and got rid of the boxes of perfectly good old clothes and knickknacks.

I realized that buying stuff was a way to make me feel happy. I guess it's your typical shopaholic mentality. But I also came to find out that all I really wanted was a close, special friend or lover to share my life with.

But here we are, two years later, and I'm still collecting. I'm not hoarding, and I'm happier about what I do collect. So why do I continue? Why am I not out instead looking for my true love?

There is a goal in my collections, and thus my hobby brings purpose to my free time. And since I am now able to share my love of collecting and my collection with everyone here, I cherish the connections and friendships I've made.

I've always enjoyed visiting museums, and I have had a fantasy since I was a child that I'd run my own museum. Sharing my collection as a museum has always been a small dream in my mind, which is why I started Cardboard Zoo. Of course, my aspirations have always been so great that no one man could possibly do it alone... but that's a different topic.

I collect because...
I love baseball.

I love the thrill of the hunt.

I love spending an hour on a lazy Sunday afternoon searching through a dime box.

I love organizing.

I love the sense of accomplishment when I complete a set.
I love the thought, however lofty, that my collection and hobby work will hopefully, eventually provide something worthwhile to the community.

I love opening a pack of cards just to see what I get.

I love discovering cards that I didn't know existed.

I love writing about cards, baseball, and my experiences.
I love having my own mini baseball museum in my little apartment here where I and my visitors can admire my finds.

I love having a hobby that is both "for kids" and "for adults" at the same time.

And I love sharing my finds and stories with all of you and my other friends.