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.

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Goals for 2022

 I only had seven goals last year, though I was only able to fully meet one of them. This year, some of those will be adjusted, some might be removed, and others might be added. Let's see what I hope to accomplish in the next twelve months.

Have you seen this card?
1. Player Collections. I need one card for Charlie Hough, one for Zack Greinke, two for Tony LaRussa. I'd love to find all of those. There are only about a dozen Japanese cards I need for my player collections, but they are not easily obtainable. I need three autographs, three jersey cards, and one or two bat cards. If I can get everything but the Japanese cards, I'll be quite happy.

2. US Sets. There are 79 sets on my want list. Let's try to get down to at least 70. I still need several mini cards for the frankenset, so I want that completed. I'd like to finish one vintage Topps set this year, as well.

3. Japan Sets. I have 58 sets on that want list. This won't be easy, but I'd love to get down to 50. Even finishing three sets would be quite the accomplishment. I need 225 Pokemon cards; I'd like to get that down to 100. I would also like to get one BBM and one Calbee set I'm missing.

4. Theme Collections. I still need one card each for my hometown and knuckler collections, though they are rare tobacco-era cards. There are seven relics for that collection. And as I mentioned recently, I've been starting up a few new collections. It would be great to finish the three existing collections, and of course I want to knock out a large chunk of the new ones.

5. Custom Cards. Again I'll carry over the goal of creating and hopefully printing some custom cards. I'm not looking to do any professional printing right now, just testing out to see what I can accomplish. I also don't really want to print out a full set of anything, as that would take up a lot of space, which I don't necessarily have these days. Perhaps just a few single cards.

6. Management Goals. I have several tasks on my to do list relating to cards, mainly managing lists and scan data. I want to get those taken care of. I also want to finish properly naming my type collection scans and possibly getting the set scans renamed.

7. Blogging. Six months with no posts isn't a good thing. I really want to post on a regular basis. Let's see how that goes.

8. If I'm Home Goals. There's a strong chance I'll spend this year living away from my home apartment. But if I actually do end up living at home, I'll have more free time to work on physical things. I need to do some more scanning; cards won't take too long, but there are several other things I want to digitize. I also have some non-sport cards I've neglected to deal with for a long time. They need to be sorted and cataloged. Finally, I want to complete the labeling system I started about a year ago. 

One extra goal this year brings me to eight! Although, if you count all the little pieces, there are 18 subgoals plus four tentative at-home goals. Will I stay focused enough (and open up my wallet enough in some cases) to get everything done?

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Books I Read in 2021

2021 Unlisted Goal: Reading. I wanted to read last year, as I did in 2020. I only managed five books, and I think that's due to a couple reasons. First, most of my reading time is on trains. I've only been riding trains about once a month, and the majority of that journey has free wifi, so I've been using that time to catch up on other media or online tasks. Second, the books I've been trying to read have been fairly uninteresting.

The first book I read was The Baseball by Zack Hample. It was an okay read at the time, but unmemorable. I really couldn't tell you anything about the book now. In March I read a trivia book called Out of Left Field; those are quick and entertaining and usually result in me being inspired to pick up some cards or even start a while new mini collection.

But after that was What About the Villa, the story of one season of a baseball league in England. It was heavily researched and I feel like it was well-written, but a large part of the book is a nearly game-by-game recount of the season, which gets really monotonous, especially with no prior knowledge of or stake in any of the teams or players prior to reading the book. I got through it in about a month, thanks to more free time on trains during spring break.

It was several months before I could finish another book: Baseball Rowdies of the 19th Century. This should have been a fast read, as it's another collection of trivia. But rather than tell interesting anecdotal stories, it's basically a list of players with a list of their "crimes" like you might find on the back of a baseball card. I think some players were repeated, since there was no good organization and just so much information. Mile wide, inch deep. It could serve as a good resource for moving into a more detailed accounting of some of the most interesting players or events.

I did fly through another book in November. The Utility of Boredom is a collection of baseball essays which I read while traveling around Kyushu. I only read five books this year, but Utility is the best of the bunch. Thanks to it being a collection of essays, it's easily digestible, but still has an aspect of storytelling. I can't say I have a favorite essay, but each one paints a good picture of why baseball is so great. 

Until next time...

Monday, January 3, 2022

2021 Goals In Review

How did I do in 2021?

Actually, I didn't do so well with my goals. Yes, I've done a lot of collecting, but actually meeting these goals has been difficult.

Goal 1: Player Collections. I was able to find the four cards I needed for my Michael Jordan baseball collection, with the last card being #626 in the 2009 Upper Deck 20th Anniversary set. I also got Bartolo Colon's 2012 Heritage card in February to finish his mini collection. Tony LaRussa is still missing two cards, one of which I've never seen. As for Japanese players, I need several cards of Tyler Austin, Alex Ramirez, and Motonobu Tanishige, though I've found several throughout the year.  I've also started five more player collections, three of which are mini-supercollections. Despite just starting them in November, I've made some good progress. One of my PC goals was to get three figures, but I only managed to get one: Clayton Kershaw. All of my US purchases go to my mother's house, and she has been complaining about the amount of space I take up, so I haven't really been working on that part of my collection. Grade: B.

Goal 2: Themed Collections. I got a few Pokemon cards early in the year, and I've gotten some minis to get me closer to a full frankenset. I also found a couple more relics for the relic type collection, needing just seven more. My alumni and knuckler collections remain two and one card short, respectively. And for the third or fourth year in a row, I have neglected to hunt down the minor league and non-sport singles I need. I've got a few more themed collections ready to go, but I might not actually start them until 2023. We shall see. Grade: C.

Goal 3: BBM and Calbee Sets. This is the only goal I fully met. In April, I finished the 2008 Calbee base set, in May I completed the 1998 Calbee set, and the 1996 BBM set was crossed off my list in mid-June. I'm extremely close on a couple more Calbee sets and the 1995 BBM set. Grade: A.

Goal 4: Set Collections. I started with 84 US sets on the list, with a goal of getting it down to 75. It sits at 80 now, but three of those are 2021 sets, and four others are sets I added in the past two weeks. As for Japanese sets, I started with 63, wanting to get down to 60. There are 58 sets on the list. Grade: A.

Goal 5: Type Collection. I didn't focus at all on my US type collection this year. COMC has been very difficult to work with, as new inventory just didn't show up for the first several months of the year, and I rely heavily on COMC for singles. While not a stated goal, I have worked on my Japanese type collection the past two years. Grade: W (dropped)

Goal 6: Custom Cards. This didn't happen. Too many other distractions. It wasn't a high priority, so I'm not so disappointed. Grade: F.

Goal 7: Collection Maintenance. I didn't expect to spend all of 2021 living away from home. The labeling project couldn't happen, though as I've added new cards, I have been implementing the new format. I haven't been 100% focused on my card scans, but I've made progress in properly naming them. Grade: C.

That was it for my written goals for the year. It looks like I averaged around a B-. If you go with just the first four, most important goals, I end up with a B+. As a side note, I hadn't started any vintage Topps sets, so I didn't set goals for completing any. But I began three sets and finished one of those: 1976. I'll leave the other two for a future post

In the near future, I'll lay out my 2022 goals. Until next time...

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Happy New Year! 2021 in Review

 Why, hello there! Another six months go by, and then I make another post.

2021 was a pretty unique year for me. I started the year in Matsumoto, where I was supposed to stay for just one month. But thanks to Japan's tight border control during the pandemic, that turned into almost one year - the longest I've ever spent at one school since leaving my home school.

Matsumoto is a fantastic city. It's compact and still holds a lot of its traditional style. The downtown area is very walkable with the historic shopping street a few minutes from the station and an original castle just a few minutes further. It lies in a high valley surrounded by several hiker-friendly mountains and several old post towns, so I kept busy on the weekends doing a lot of sightseeing and hiking. And I've returned to Pokemon Go, giving me an excuse to get more walking in after work - nighttime strolls from the school to my apartment down a long detour took me down that shopping street and past the castle.

Now I'm not far from Matsumoto, from about mid-November. This time, my school is in the middle of Japanese suburbia, with very little appealing to me around my apartment. I've been in a place called Suwa for almost two months now, but between other commitments and the holidays, I haven't had many weekends to get to know the place.

Nagano Prefecture has an indy-league (BCL) baseball team called the Shinano Grandserows. BCL teams have home areas, instead of home stadiums, so they occasionally play in Matsumoto and Suwa. I caught one game early in the season in Matsumoto, and if I'm in Suwa long enough I plan to see another this year.

I've had a few vacations during the year. Spring break, known as Golden Week, took me to two prefectures I've never visited: Tottori and Shimane. In early summer, I went to the Kansai region, visiting some historic baseball sites and catching an Orix Buffaloes game. My August summer vacation saw me staying in Tokyo, but I did get out around the city for some sightseeing and shopping.

In November, I knocked two more new prefectures off my list (Kagoshima and Miyazaki) as I visited every prefecture in Kyushu. This past week's vacation involved no sightseeing, but I've been able to hang out with friends and I've gotten a few things done around my home apartment.

Nagano has no card shops, so I've been doing most of my card shopping online. This is fairly usual for me now anyway, because I can find new stuff easier and cheaper through Mercari and Yahoo! Japan Auctions than I can at most of the shops in Tokyo. It seems that Wrappers, my go-to shop in Tokyo, might no longer be open as a brick-and-mortar location, which means I've had to rely on a couple other "backup" card shops for singles.

I've made it to a lot of shops this year, though. I believe I visited every Mint location from the Tokyo area all the way south to Kyushu at least once this year - including the franchises. Plus a lot of the independent shops that I know of. There have been a few shows that I've been able to attend, too. And in addition to Mercari and YJA here, I've picked a lot up through COMC, Sportlots, and eBay in the US.

I haven't posted much. My last post was a mid-year review of my goals for 2021. I just haven't felt too inspired to write lately. But I've definitely been collecting! My next post will be a look at my 2021 goals, since this is getting pretty long already. Until then...