Thursday, January 31, 2013

Neato! Nice Porter You Got There...

Vermont Fall Classic, Start
For those of us who spend more time reading and communicating about bikes on the internet than in person, sometimes we go years before hearing bike terms uttered out loud. And so we form our own pronunciation, discovering only later that it might not match the way others pronounce the same words. Largely this is because so many bicycle words are foreign in origin. Even if we know the original language, it is not clear whether the common pronunciation matches it or has been distorted.

I remember the first bike word I had to adjust from the way I said it mentally was panniers. When I first started seeing this term I assumed stress on the second syllable (rhymes with veneers) and found the anglified stress on the first syllable jarring (I still can't get over that the English will pronounce ballet as "bally"). But I switched early on, and now PAN-iers sounds perfectly normal - though I still pronounce it the other way when referring to the French skirt hoops.

With other words, I cannot switch over. At some point I realised that many people pronounce porteur as "porter." Porter bike. Porter bars. Porter rack. What? It's porteur, rhymes with connoisseur!

Likewise, I have heard randonneur bikes called random-ners.

And I have heard decalleur pronounced as deCAY-ler.

English speakers generally pronounce mixte as mixtee, not "meext" as in the original French. Although I notice that some - not knowing French but wishing to pronounce it in what they believe to be the correct way - say mix-TAY, as if the French word had an accent aigu at the end (mixté). I have always said it the anglicised way, just because "meext" sounds strange to me as a noun.

Then there are the Japanese manufacturers. In my head, Tange sounded like the first part of the word "tangible," and I was pretty sure I'd heard it said that way. Later I started hearing "tahn-gay."

And I've always mentally pronounced Nitto like "neato," later surprised to hear bike shop mechanics pronouncing it to rhyme with ditto. They in turn found my way amusing. "Really, neato? I guess they are kinda neat-oh components!"

Dia Compe seems to be a free for all. I have heard dee-yah-coump, dee-yah-coum-pay and Diacom.

Of course all of this is more entertaining than anything. Languages get mixed and terminology evolves; there is not necessarily a "correct" way to pronounce any of this stuff. Though I am still not sure about dynamo... Stress on the first syllable or the second?

FANdom Card Of The Day: LaMichael James Rookies and Stars True Blue Materials

Can this guy help SF win the Super Bowl? Let us know your thoughts in comments!

This card was sent in by a reader of the blog. 

Worst Trade Ever....

Oh how we can sometimes make bad decisions about our collections and especially when it comes to trading. Yep..I did it. When I was still living at home as a youngin, my father had gone to a gas station and bought a couple packs of racing cards for fun. But what we found inside astounded us.

SCC 
Now, this is not the real card we pulled. This is just an example. But we pulled Jeff Gordon Press Pass Firesuit card that had a BV of $350. We were very excited to say the least! We held onto it for a few months before we ran into the money needing bug so he took a drive to a card shop. I went with him holding the card the whole time depressed we had to give it up. But what his plan was, just to get a few bucks and then trade the rest of the value for a card. So we would have a card to replace the one we were losing.

When we got there my dad explained to the shop owner what we wanted. We got around $50 in cash and then a card caught our eye of a upcoming rookie RB star we had always watched and wanted a rookie card of: 

scc 

Now how could you go wrong? This guys rookies were soaring through the roof and this was one of the top ones! They were making a run at the Super Bowl, he was aiming for 2,000 yards. Great pickup in our eyes and almost equals the value of the full trade. This card was pushing $200.

At the time it appeared to be a great trade, but who would have guessed the injury bug would derail his career. Values of the Gordon card jumped, values of the Davis card went down. The Gordon card closed in on $500 this card closed in on $10. It was an incredible change and a trade we drastically lost on. By far the worst trade I have ever made. You can now find these Davis rookie cards on eBay for $5 or less. I sadly have held onto mine as a reminder to only make good decisions when I do trade.

Now I ask you, whats the worst trade you ever made?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Training journal

Saturday 26
Competition
LC 2x24kg: 51

Relay race 2x20kg: 32 or 33 (/3minutes)

Sunday 27
Snatch with fleece glove 12kg: 1min/1/2min/2min/2min/2min

Monday
SC jerk 20kg: 10, 10
SC jerk 28kg: 10 (gym got too crowded so stopped there)

Snatch 20kg: 2min/2min, rest, 2min/2min

Bench press 80kg: 3,4,2,2

10 High pulls and then 10 jerks with 2x20kg
Stretching and bridge work

Wedensday 30th
SC jerk 2x20kg, 2x24kg: 5 each weight

SC jerk 2x30kg: 3, 12
SC jerk 2x32kg: 3, 3

Snatch 20kg: 47L/52R (4/4min)

SC jerk 2x24kg, 2x30g: 5 each weight

Back bridge stretches

A few OH squats with two 5kg weight plates (a tip from the Ukarainian coach Kira Savchenko, did a few with 8kg bells Sunday too, hard so I start easy)


Today's great event was snatches. I doubted I could go 8 minutes. I have not done a timed snatch set in a year, or two. Got tired in shoulders before grip. Technique? Fun anyway.

Can Stop, Will Stop: TRP Mini-V Brakes

Honey Cyclocross, Winter Lilac
I have embarked on a long term test ride of a Honey cyclocross bike, similar to the one I rode in the Kearsarge Klassic last summer. When asked about component preferences on the demo bike, one thing I requested was stronger brakes. I had remarkably poor stopping power with the cantilever brakes on the bike I'd borrowed earlier, and I generally have not had good luck with cantis. I described these problems to Honey and we decided to try v-brakes. They suggested the TRP CX8.4 "mini-vs." 

The TRP CX8.4 linerar pull brakes were designed for maximum stopping power on cyclocross bikes. Unlike full sized v-brakes, they were also designed to work with integrated road levers (this particular model works best with Campagnolo and SRAM) without requiring an adapter - reducing bulk, weight and complexity. These brakes have a number of features to recommend them for cyclocross racing, but having no experience with that side of things I will stick to describing them in the context of "just riding."

Under my weak grip, the TRPs feel reassuringly powerful. Those with strong hands could in fact find this problematic, but for me it is a welcome change from having to worry about stopping a fat-tire roadbike with cantis at the bottom of a hill. This is the first time I have used v-brakes on such a bike, and the quality of the braking does feel different from centerpulls and cantilevers. I have to apply pressure differently to regulate exactly how much I want to brake, but it didn't take long to train my hands to "understand." When attempting to slow down at high speeds, the braking is not harsh or jerky, but it is stronger than typical - so it helps to have a gentle touch, or else to use only one finger on the lever. For harder braking, there is a luxurious, modulation-friendly margin before coming to a full stop that I find especially helpful. In the past, I have had to get creative in order to stop on downhills during unpaved rides, and I've even employed my foot as an auxilliary brake on a couple of occasions. The TRPs are at their best precisely in those situations. 

I have ridden the bike only a couple of times so far, but our winter conditions have allowed me to immediately try it on snow and slush. Getting the rims slushy did reduce braking power, but there was so much of it to begin with that it remained manageable. Basically, with the mini-vs the bike rides with slush-clogged rims like it did with dry rims when it had cantis. 

The Honey cross is set up with a carbon fiber fork, and I have not detected any judder with the TRP CX8.4s. These brakes easily clear the 700Cx35mm tires currently on the bike, and look like they could fit a fender. My understanding is they will not clear a 650B x 42mm tire; for that full sized v-brakes may be required. 

With an MSRP of $149 per set, the TRP CX8.4 brakes seem like an excellent and accessible option for those seeking extra braking power on a roadbike with canti/v bosses. As I get the opportunity to try other brakes worth mentioning, I will continue the "can stop, will stop" series (See also: Paul Racer centerpull brakes).

BEST IN SNOW


LIVE FROM THE SLOPES OF SNOWMASS, COLORADO, HERE ARE A FEW OF THE COOLEST THINGS SPOTTED ON THE SLOPES AND SHOPS ROUND TOWN. THERE ARE STILL AT LEAST A COUPLE OF SKIING AND SNOWBOARDING MONTHS LEFT THIS YEAR, SO START SHOPPING NOW!

CLICK AND SHOP BELOW!
Clockwise from top left: BURTON ANT-SOCIAL SPLITBOARD $699.95. Hike it up, ride it down. You'll never guess you're on a splitboard as you float through the powder; MONTBELL U.L. DOWN JACKET $169This insulating jacket seriously weighs less than most T-shirts. It's a perfect insulting layer and wind resistant enough to be worn on its own; POC SYNAPSIS 2.0 Aurelien Ducroz Helmet $250. POC makes the most beautifully designed helmets, equally matched for their safety features. Utilizing POC's Anti Penetration Barrier, the Synapsis helmet is ultra light and ultra safe with a turnring adjustment system for perfect fit. Can be worn with or without visor; ARC'TERYX STINGRAY PANT $399. These highly technical Gore-Tex insulated pants will keep you warm and dry on those deep powder days; HESTRA ALL LEATHER PRIMALOFT GLOVES $150. The brand of choice of the pros, this soft and supple warm leather glove with Primaloft insulation are perfect on the coldest winter days; ZEAL iON CAMERA GOGGLE $399. 1080p HD digital camera is integrated into the lens with an in-goggle viewfinder and 170-degree view that automatically adjusts exposure for changing light; Center: ANON FASHIONABLY LATE SUNGLASSES $109.95. From Burton Snowboards comes Anon, their technical line of goggles and stylish shades; MARMOT NEWTON HAT $44.95. When the helmet is off, this striped beenie protects your head from the other elements.  MAMMUT Schneefeld Zip Pull Light Women $145; This lightweight insulated layer can be worn as base or second layer for cold days, and looks super cute on its own. 


Follow me on Twitter @styleofsport

February Monthly Giveaway!

To start off the new year we have decided instead of doing weekly giveaways, we will stick with a monthly one. The weekly giveaways seemed to have lost interest of many of you so we think switching to a challenging monthly one where you control your own destiny of winning. We really enjoy watching the competition. And as always there are daily deadlines and some twists involved on some days. The best way to make sure you don't miss any deadlines is to subscribe to the blog. You can find that on the main page of the blog. You can also follow us on Twitter @sportcardcollec or on Facebook at Sport Card Collectors.

The Daily challenges will change as the sports do.This month will be a range of NBA, NCAA BB, NHL, and even some racing if that starts before the contest ends.

Every month the prize lot will include 2-3 autos or jersey cards. Mix of inserts. Some rookies. 2 unopened packs of something. And other odds and ends. The lot is based on what we get and put together. Each month the size and value of the lot will be different as well.

The contest will run for 20 days.

Here are this months prizes:

At least 10 Rookies
Upper Deck Insert Lot
Nolan Ryan, Sandy Koufax to name a few Baseball insert lot
Rookies and Stars Insert Lot
AJ Hawk jersey card
Quinton Coples auto rookie
Devon Still auto rookie
2 packs
The combined estimated value of this months lot is: $75-$80.

Good Luck to everyone!! Remember, the more contestants....the more prizes!! If we can AT LEAST 15 contestants playing on a daily basis..there will be three place prizes awarded! But would love to have a ton of people participate. The more competition, the more fun!

This months 2nd and 3rd place prizes are rookie cards including the 2nd place one with a card # to 25. Each month the 2nd and 3rd place prizes vary. It could be inserts, rookie cards, jersey, auto, a pack of cards, team lot or something else. 

And of course we want to build anticipation for March...our One Year Blogversary...who knows whats going to happen! Make sure to RT all of our contest, review and any other posts that we have on Twitter. And on Facebook share the posts!

 *Contests open to US Residents only

Fan Box Break: 2013 Topps Baseball 2 Blasters

We would like to thank Jammin JDcards for the quick turnaround for getting this product to us to post for you guys to see. We personally will get some at some point to review and give you our thoughts on it. But for now, a Fan Box Break of the product is a great way to show off what you could get from the two blasters. If you don't know yet, this product releases in retail early and hobby is out today!

Just like Jammin JDcards did, if you buy any, feel free to email us something like this for us to share on Fan Box Breakers. We can be reached at sportcardcollectors@hotmail.com





"2013 Topps Series 1 Baseball – I am more of a football, Basketball, Hockey collector and just dabble a little in baseball. So, I have been excited after opening a box of baseball maybe a handful of times and that is it. OH MAN – This stuff has me excited. Topps has done a great job this year with the inserts, die-cuts and parallels. This was just 2 Blaster Boxes from Wal-Mart and the excitement was high. These have the Blue parallel since they are from Wal-Mart. Target will have a red parallel and I have heard rumors of Toys R US having a Purple. Also, everyone keep your wrappers – Topps is having a Silver Parallel for exchange. Every 50 wrappers will get you 1 pack of silver. The design of the inserts is awesome and the patch cards are actually pretty sweet. I give this product an 8.5/10 for design, 8.5/10 for quality and 9.95/10 for Value – I just don’t want to give out a 10. Great product, go out and buy some."

Find these cards available here http://marketplace.beckett.com/jdsportscards_1232

February Standings!

Here are the updated contest standings for February!

FINAL DAY!!!! ONLY THOSE OF YOU IN BOLD REMAIN IN THIS CONTEST. EVERYONE ELSE IS ELIMINATED. BUT THANK  YOU FOR PLAYING AND WE HOPE TO SEE YOU NEXT MONTH!! CONTEST STARTS ON MARCH 1ST. PRIZES WILL BE ANNOUNCED ON FEBRUARY 26TH.

1st Place
2nd Place
3rd Place  

@KentRitchie1                                                              0 points
Super Tom                                                                     0  points
mrblu1976@aol.com                                                    0 points
Jamie B.                                                                       0 points
Thomas Young                                                             0 points
Anthony Edwards                                                        13 points
@band234                                                                     4 points
@gogshbears                                                                1 points
Harold Tourjee                                                             0 points
Scott N.                                                                         0 points  
The Underdog Card Collector                                    12  points
@markloftus                                                                53 points
Jammin JDcards                                                         0 points
jeremiah johnson                                                         2 points 
@CashItHomie                                                           1 points
J.J. Hernandez                                                           78 points
Jeff Hoyle                                                                   0 points
Aimee Hoyle                                                               0 points
@I_Get_Awesome                                                     2 points
Mark DeBarge                                                            0 points
JOHN WEBB                                                             0 points
Jeremy Ledbetter                                                      0 points
Wanda McCurry                                                       0 points
Jonathan Hoffman                                                    3 points
Miami Vice                                                               124 points
@scottsupra                                                             5 points  
Sam Gordo                                                               5 points 
I.Welch.                                                                    1 point
@ sahwheet                                                             5 point
@yorkcounty46                                                       64 points
@gymratmike                                                            1 points
@badbrad1987                                                        26 points
arron Stout                                                              35 points
@JohnnyG711                                                         1 points
David Fitch                                                             1 points
@strowyrm                                                              1 points
Ginter Godfather                                                     1 points
@swhalenphotos                                                     4 points
Thomas Lavoie                                                        1 points
 Scott Bennett                                                          2 points
@BigNoah                                                             31 points 
Logan W.                                                                2 points 
Donald Bohrisch                                                     1 points 
Justin Ross                                                              6 points 
7jennifer                                                                 2 points 
@Jdoggnoland                                                      0 points 
@yesterdayskards                                                 12 points 
@cincyboy1976                                                    12 points
 chrisdawg7                                                          112 points
David P                                                                 12 points
@ballcardz                                                            1 points 
WillManWay                                                          1 points 
Steven Rubinstein                                                2 points 
Dave                                                                    3 points 
@CashItHomie                                                   5 points

FANdom Card Of The Day: Torrey Smith Timeless Treasures Recruits Patch

This guy has been in beast mode since the Ravens played my Giants. He is Torring up the field. Watch for him to attempt to do that in the Super Bowl.


This card was sent in by a reader of the blog.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Difference Between Simplicity and Minimalism


There is a popular question among minimalist and simplicity bloggers. What is the difference between simplicity and minimalism? Despite the popularity of the question, it has no easy answer. This is because it is a deeply philosophical question. So, I will answer it.

The first thing that we can say is that simplicity and minimalism are not the same thing. They seem like the same thing, but they aren't. Though the terms are often used interchangeably, this imprecision of the terminology leads to a lot of cognitive dissonance for people. What we can say is that simplicity and minimalism are not maximalist. Maximalism is the belief that more is more. I think it will help us to define maximalism in a better way.

Maximalism's belief in more being more comes down to a quantitative measure. If one room is good, two rooms must be better. If one house is good, two houses must be better. The error of maximalism is that it does not account for diminishing returns. A second house is not nearly as valuable or as useful as a primary house. Since that second house also demands maintenance and costs such as insurance and taxes, its marginal utility is less than the first house. At some point, the marginal utility of subsequent houses will exceed the marginal costs making it a foolish endeavor. This is why when people downsize and simplify they feel as if they are becoming richer in the process. This is because fewer units require fewer costs to resources. This concept is very important, and you need to keep it handy in your brain for later.

Minimalism is the belief that less is more. By paring down to the essentials, you eliminate the waste. But there is a fundamental flaw in that thought process. If maximalism is an increase in the marginal cost with a simultaneous loss in marginal utility, minimalism is the exact same thing. To achieve a minimalist lifestyle, you have to spend more to achieve less. Less really isn't more. Less is less.

This concept is best illustrated by the fact that most minimalist homes and structures are unworkable and unlivable. Whenever someone sees the interior of one of these minimalist abodes, they usually exclaim, "How can anyone live in that?!"


The reality is that no one can live in a space like that because the act of living will change it from being minimalist to something else. While a minimalist space may be aesthetically pleasing, it is functionally deficient. It is also insanely expensive.

Simplicity is different from minimalism in the same way that it is different from maximalism. Simplicity aims for optimal utility at a minimal cost. This would be a couch from the thrift store and a book shelf with books in it. Simplicity is form following function. When this functionality is diminished or lost, it becomes minimalism.

Minimalists have a hard time with functionality. One well known example was the infamous episode with the iPhone when it would reportedly lose reception when held in a certain way. The response from Steve Jobs was to not hold it that way. Similarly, Edith Farnsworth was not so pleased with the Farnsworth House that Mies van der Rohe built because it did not include laundry facilities. What we learn from these episodes is that what is beautiful may not always be useful.

Maximalism and minimalism are fundamentally the same in the increase of costs and the decrease of utility. The difference is that maximalism focuses on the quantitative while minimalism focuses on the qualitative. Neither has any true concept of "enough." This is where simplicity gets it right.

Simplicity is about having enough. It means having the correct number and quality of an item. The other thing is that simplicity is easily achieved and sustained. Once you have enough, you don't need anymore. This does not mean restriction to the purely utilitarian. No one needs to hang a painting on the wall, but it does give everyone something pleasant to look at.

Most people who call themselves minimalists are actually practicing simplicity. Where they get into trouble is that they sometimes get them confused leading to things that are not simple. For instance, minimalists have a nasty habit of buying Apple products especially the iPhone. But what if there is an Android phone that is more functional and costs less than the iPhone? This is that cognitive dissonance I was mentioning earlier. If you can gain greater utility at a lower cost, this is the wisest choice. But the minimalist will buy that iPhone because it is "minimalist."

These sorts of choices vex the minimalist at every turn. Instead of spending all their money buying everything, they spend all their time trying to buy the right thing. Naturally, that right thing comes in white and costs three times what a normal item would cost. Or, they will spend the bulk of their time coming up with ways to save time, but they would save more time if they didn't spend so much time trying to save time. It sounds like a Seinfeld episode.

Being simple is simple. The difference between simplicity and minimalism is that simplicity is human. It is real. It is natural. Minimalism is not real. It is not natural. Plus, it is boring. This is because the minimalist aesthetic is an abstraction. It does not serve human means and ends but serves an idea. It is like reducing all human wisdom to math.

Minimalism and simplicity have become hopelessly mixed together being one part Thoreau and two parts Dieter Rams. I think people would be better served by looking to Thoreau. If you have ever disposed of a perfectly good product or appliance just to buy one that was more "minimalist," you are going down the wrong path. But if you have chairs from the thrift store that don't quite match, you are doing it right. This is simplicity.

I think it is an unfortunate accident that voluntary simple living got linked with the minimalist aesthetic in art and design. As such, people will call themselves "minimalists" even though the term does not mean what they think it means. Perhaps that confusion will be cleared up in the future. Or maybe we just need a new word for people who choose to live simply.




It's Time to Bury the Easterlin Paradox

Over the past several years as I have discussed The Climate Fix and the "iron law" of climate policy, someone often brings up the Easterlin Paradox as a counter argument. There are several reasons why it fails to contradict the iron law, the most important one being -- it is just wrong.

... Richard Easterlin of the University of South[ern] California, has been studying the concept of national happiness since the 1970s, when he formulated his "Easterlin Paradox".

"Simply stated, the happiness-income paradox is this: at a point in time both among and within countries, happiness and income are positively correlated," he said. "But, over time, happiness does not increase when a country's income increases."
The Easterlin paradox suggest that in terms of human happiness -- a squishy concept to be sure -- there is a limit to economic growth beyond which there really is just no point in attaining more wealth. Further, a decoupling between income and happiness at some threshold would imply that GDP would not be a good measure of welfare, we would need some other metric.

A recent paper (PDF) by Daniel Sacks, Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers argues that the Easterlin paradox is also wrong. They explain why this matters:
This conclusion has important implications for policy and for science. If raising income does not raise well-being, then policy should focus on goals other than economic growth. And given the central role of relative income, researchers have spent a great deal of time and energy understanding why relative concerns are so important.
They ask "But is Easterlin correct?" and they answer as follows, with a resounding "No":
The accumulation of data over recent decades shows that Easterlin’s Paradox was based on empirical claims which are simply false. In fact rich countries enjoy substantially higher subjective well-being than poor countries, and as countries get richer, their citizens experience ever more well-being. What’s more, the quantitative relationship between income and well-being is about the same, whether we look across people, across countries, or at a single country as it grows richer. This fact turns Easterlin’s argument on its head: if the difference in well-being between rich and poor countries is about the same as the difference in well-being between rich and poor people, then it must be that absolute income is the dominant factor determining well-being.
Their paper is non-technical and worth reading in full, also Derek Thompson at The Atlantic has a great summary.

Sacks at al. argue that the Easterlin paradox was accepted mistakenly, based on a misapplication of statistical reasoning of the sort that is quite common in academic studies. They explain:
When scholars began studying comparative well-being in the 1970s, data was only available for a handful of countries. Consequently Easterlin (1974) failed to find a statistically significant relationship between wellbeing and GDP—although in fact the estimated relationship was positive. This failure to obtain statistically significant findings reflected the limited power of a test based on a small sample of countries, rather than a finding of a precisely estimated nil relationship. Indeed, Easterlin’s original data also fail to reject the null that the cross-country relationship equals the cross-person relationship (Stevenson and Wolfers, 2008). In other words he could reject neither the presence of the Easterlin Paradox nor the complete absence of any such paradox.
I'd add to that explanation the fact that the Easterlin paradox fits in very well with a Malthusian, limits to growth world view. No doubt many have wanted it to be true, regardless of the data.

The Sacks et al. paper complements an analysis that I discussed last summer on the relationship of GDP to proposed alternatives to GDP., by Delhey and Kroll. They found that GDP does a surprisingly good job of reflecting outcomes in more complex, non-GDP metrics. I concluded:
Calls to replace GDP are common these days. Any such metric should meet the basic empirical test of doing better than GDP in its relationship with outcomes that people care about. Most proposed metrics fail this basic test.

Ultimately, GDP will all but certainly remain core to efforts to measure well being. That said, there are important dimensions that it misses. Bringing those dimensions into view will not, in my view, be accomplished by inventing a better single metric, but by realizing that no one metric captures all that matters and recognizing that understanding well being is complex, multi-dimensional and involves trade-offs that people do not agree about. Multiple metrics will thus aid in both clarity and focus, and help to avoid the risk of experts seeking to impose their values on the broader community via stealth accounting.
The Easterlin paradox, like many urban myths, won't be going away soon. However, research provides a compelling case that the paradox is empirically not supported. Money certainly isn't everything, but it does help to explain an awful lot.

[SOC] The Death of Noir, Simplified Online Presence

Where do I begin? I'm not sure today. My brain is a blank.

I feel more confident in writing fiction now. I was struggling with where I want to go with those projects or whether or not I should even do them. The first issue I had was what sort of voice or style to write in, and I have decided to continue in my Charles Noir minimalist "movie in your brain" style of narrative. I have experimented in other styles, but I am just not able to pull it off.

The other thing I have decided to do is retire the Charles Noir pseudonym and universe. I wrote those stories as an atheist which is why they come across as horrific and bleak. If I could give a label to that genre of writing, it would be "nihilistic horror." It was not my intention to write such stuff since I had no greater ambition than to be a complete hack writing pulp fiction. But as they say, themes emerge.

Becoming Catholic has made me come to grips with my past. I have a blog with numerous pieces written from a secular individualist viewpoint. I will retain those pieces for no other reason than as an archive of where I was then. But I am in a different place now. It is a better place.

My intention with fiction is to write from a moral point of view. This may not seem like much of a difference, but it is a huge difference for me. My wife tells me that my Noir stories highlighted a moral dimension by the absence of morality in those stories. The horror comes from a world without God.

My new stories will not be pleasant. They will be unpleasant like a crucifix. My hope is that they will make people think. I want the stories to linger in the brain and the conscience. I want my readers to be put in a better place at the end even if the journey to that end is traumatic.

I have toyed with inventing a new pseudonym, but I like my simplified online presence. I don't do Twitter or Facebook. I only have my single blog. I am taking down my other blog and archiving those stories for future reference. This simplifying has had a marvelous effect on me. All you really need is a blog. I have had numerous ideas for other blogs, but I resist them now. This blog is the only outlet that I need. It is the one thing I have done consistently for years, and it has brought me great joy and pleasure. It also is how I met my wife.

Simplifying is fun. There is something very appealing about taking something and reducing it to its essential elements. But I think there is a difference between minimalism and simplicity. I will have to explore that in a future blog post.

FANdom Card Of The Day: Lemichaael James Leaf Draft Autograph

This card was sent in by a reader of the blog. This guy could have an impact in the Super Bowl. They might hand him the ball to take pressure off from Gore and as a mix up.

Review:Topps Chrome Baseball Blaster Box 2012

This is my first break of Topps Chrome baseball 2012. It may be in blaster form, but thought I would give a review of the product since I hadn't busted any. I know its a few months late, but like they say, better late than never!

2012 Topps Chrome MLB Baseball EXCLUSIVE Factory Sealed Retail Box with SPECIAL PURPLE Refractors only found in this Box ! Look for Rookie Cards and Rare Autographs of Bryce Harper,Yu Darvish,Yoenis Cespedes and More! Topps Chrome is always SUPER HOT !

Box Break Down:
  • 7 Pack Per Box, 4 Cards Per Pack
  • 1 Bonus Pack of 4 Blaster Box Exclusive of Purple Refractors
  • $20 PER BLASTER BOX

Base Cards
Rookies..got great ones like Yu Darvish and Yoenis Cespedes
BASE CARDS: Once again, its Chrome. What is there not to like about the base cards? However, I will say one thing about them, they have a tendency to bend and these ones as you can see in some photos did. That could be a problem with them down the road.



 INSERTS: You gotta love the beauty of the refractors. No matter what color they come in.

AUTOGRAPHS: NONE (Though pulling some from retail is never out of the question)

JERSEY/PATCH CARDS: NONE


OVERALL THOUGHTS: Another great buy. For your $20 you at least get that back if not times two. Buying Chrome at any level whether its packs, box, blasters, retail or hobby you can't go wrong. I like the addition of the bonus purple refractors to the blaster. Makes chasing down Yu or Harper even better in this product. Another thing to note are the Sp photo variations you can find as well.

RATINGS:  Bloggers Note: Our ratings are based specifically on the blaster, box or packs we opened and do not express what the overall product could bring. Ratings based on a 1-5. 1 Being the lowest and 5 being the highest.
                Packaging: 4
                Base Design: 5
                Insert Design: 5
                Memorablila/Autographs: N/A
                Blaster, Hobby Box, or Pack Value: 5

Monday, January 28, 2013

Positively Biketastic

Mo and Pinky
When I look back at 2012 (I know it's been a while, but I needed time to take it all in!) I remember it as the year when I started to notice a lot of positive changes in the cycling world around me. Positive changes not only in the widening selection of transport bikes available in local shops and not only in the public perception of bicycling, but also in the increasing amount of rapport, cooperation and even overlap between different "camps" of bicyclists. And I think this latter point is just as important as the others. We cyclists can be tribal and divisive; we can be each other's harshest, cruelest critics. But if we insist on identifying within rigid parameters and lashing out against each other's choice of bike, attire, and riding style, how can we hope for positive changes for cyclists as a group? 

When my cycling club, the Ride Studio Cafe, began to blur the lines between the randonneuring and racing cultures, I remember it felt as if a paradigm shift was taking place. They threw a big party, where cyclists of different stripes interacted with each other with a degree of enthusiasm that showed a genuine eagerness. Dynamo lighting, racks, and wool were discussed. Unexpected common interests were found. It was truly an exciting thing to be witnessing. 

At this same party, I finally met Maureen Bruno Roy, a Massachusetts-based professional cyclocross racer. In her off time Mo leads a regular life, and part of that regular life involves riding her pink mixte for transportation. For me, seeing Mo so happy and casual on her city bike was an encouraging moment: I had not encountered an athlete-cyclist outside of Europe before who saw value and usefulness in such bicycles. But to Mo the value is pretty clear, and she credits her attitude to her time racing in Belgium. "There were these Dutch bikes, and I rode them to get around when I wasn't racing; it was great!" 

Around the same time, a local man named Jeff Palter got himself a Brompton folding bike and began commuting on it, posting excitedly on Twitter about how much he enjoyed that. If you're outside New England that name might not mean anything to you, but Mr. Palter happens to be the CEO of the Northeast Velodrome and the owner of Cycle Loft - one of the biggest roadie shops around. CycleLoft is also the main sponsor of the Northeast Bicycle Club - the largest local racing club and the very club that offers the "infamous" paceline rides that so divided my readership two summers ago. Until recently, it would have been difficult to imagine anyone associated with this camp entertaining the idea of riding around on anything but a racing bike with a backpack. I was more than a little surprised when Jeff approached me about sponsorship, explaining that CycleLoft was expanding into the city bike market. 

"Looks like the war is over," said a local cyclist when I shared this news with her. I guess sometimes, with all the insults flung about, it can indeed feel like a war - especially when some are described as "riding tanks" and others as being "weekend warriors." With a chuckle, I pictured an army of speeding Cervelos clashing with an army of menacingly rolling Workcycles (incidentally - a Dutch bike company founded by an American, who got his start at Fat City). 

Some time in December, I was approached by Bicycling Magazine and invited to write a weekly online column about "city bikes and gear." I was initially skeptical about what they had in mind, but it seemed pretty straightforward: They wanted to expand their coverage beyond racing, to encourage people to commute by bike, introducing them to a variety of bikes and accessories for the purpose. I agreed to write the column. It's a short-term contract and I may not be the one doing it in the long run, but I hope to give it a running start. Or rather, a re-start: Historically, such coverage is not new for Bicycling. A 1978 copy I found of the magazine includes articles such as "Choosing a Three-Speed Commuting Bike" and "Road Test: the Bickerton Folding Bicycle." These things are cyclical. Hopefully the current cycle, with its interest in transportation and city bikes, will be around for a while. 

A few days ago I read a story in the New York Times about a man who, a couple of times a week, commutes from the suburbs outside New York City to his office in Manhattan on his racing bike. It's a 40 mile ride and he uses the milage for training. He does it year round, sometimes in snow. I thought it was a cool story, especially after the cyclist himself provided additional details on Velocipede Salon. Then today I read a story in Atlantic Cities in response to it, about ordinary New Yorkers commuting. The author mentions that some readers criticised the NYT piece for "alienating [ordinary people] who might want to ride to work," but I am glad the author herself did not go that route. Instead she gave examples of some interesting New Yorkers who ride and urged cyclists to unite in promoting their shared interests. 

For those of us who have been cycling in major North American cities over the past few years, it is hard not to notice that things are changing. Now more than ever, I feel there is room for everyone who loves to be on a bike to promote their style of riding without criticising others in the process. Whether 4 miles or 40, whether in a business suit or a skin suit, whether on a cheap or expensive bike, bottom line is: It's all positively biketastic. The more we understand that, the better off we will be.

3rd Uddevalla Open Long Cycle Competition

Saturday 26th I was at the Uddevalla Kettelebell Club's yearly Long Cycle Open competition. It is the third year in a row. Each time it has also been lifters from abroad participating.

This year there were two Finnish lifters (Sanna and Mari Erika), and two from Ukraine (Kira and Olena). All in all we were +20 lifters. A little more men than ladies. 

Olena Semenova and Kira Savchenko gave a workshop the next day focusing kettlebell sport for women lifters.

There were a lot of good stuff. As always arrangements by the Uddevalla crew were great. It was nice to see some familiar faces from the Halmstad workshop at Eleiko.

Markus H competed with 20kg bells for the first time and got 53 reps. Several lifter from Trollhättan made good presentations. A team from Military Fitness in Göteborg came to watch and brought one extremely strong ladies lifter with great talent.

There were no lifters from eastern, or northern, Sweden. I guess it is because there has recently been competitions in those areas as well. It is cool that we were +20 lifters nevertheless. No doubt, the sport is getting bigger.

Women Long cycle with two bells
One thing that was important about this competition, was that women could compete with two bells in long cycle.
I believe it is the first time in Sweden. None of the women lifters with two bells were Swedish, though. I think it is a great development if the two bells option gets established as a competition lift for women. Two bells make training a lot more fun and you don't have to do like 14 reps per minute (which can make technique suffer). Some, like Kira, also hold that two bells are more healthy for the back.

Sofia, Mari & Kira

Mari & Olena
Relay
The day finished with relay race. We had two ladies teams and two men's teams. It was fun and exiting. In the men's relay Trollhättan won over the Uddevalla-Göteborg team. First time ever I did relay (three lifters each team, each lifter lift for three minutes).

My contribution
I did 51 reps at the competition. Just one more rep than my co-competitor from Trollhättan. I don't know why I could not reach my goal of 56 reps. I did 59 one week before at home. Bells were good, the chalk as well. I had slept well during the night. Eaten well, no injuries, no infections, and I felt good about lifting.
I forgot to film the set, but I even felt good about technique. Still, no 56 reps. Well, this will only make me feel more happy when I get the 56 reps next time.

Box Breakers: Bowman Platinum Baseball 2012 Rack Pack

For under $6 how can you not pick up something that is both shiny and very appealing? I had to do it. Was hoping to land a Bryce Harper rookie finally but didn't. It was okay though, I found it worth the $6. Let me know your thoughts in comments.


Base Cards

Purple Refractors...retail exclusive with 3 per hanger pack wrapped separate

Prospect cards
Gold Base Card parallel
As price goes and what you get I was high on this product and its return value. So I have to rate this break a:

5/5

Bloggers Note: This will be the FINAL BOX BREAKERS for us the bloggers. We don't want these to be confused with our reviews (which we prefer to do more cause of the in depth breakdown) and we have decided to go back to just reviews. Though reviews are not a product we open more than once, they do give you insightful information to decide if you want to buy it or not instead of seeing the same small breaks over and over again with some or no hits. We prefer providing you with the best info on sports cards out there and by doing these we feel like we are letting you down. However, we might have a new segment where we show off some hits from any recent breaks that we don't review of. We think that might excite you to see! So we are strictly staying with reviews from here on out for us. 

Let us know your thoughts on this!


But with that being said, we ARE still continuing on with Fan Box Breakers!! We love that segment and invite all of you to join in. Please email us at sportcardcollectors@hotmail.com and see how easy it is to share 

Box Breakers: 2011 Timless Treasures Football-dacardworld break # 2

My big purchase was $37 for this tin of Timeless Treasures football '11. Where else can you find such a great deal on a hobby box. Yeah, it only comes with 6 cards making it partially high end. But it was cheap enough because of the dacardworld New Years sale that I had to take the risk.

Comes in a nice tin that you can use as a display..which I did

2 Base Cards
Signed on a White Leather seems to be one of the best looking rookie autos out there
Jersey Card
Another Jersey Card...wished this guy would play more. Hit him a lot
Insert

Was hoping to hit it big...didn't think I did too bad for the price. Though a little disappointing , it still satisfied my football card crave.

I rate this break:

3/5

Contest Winner Of Peyton Manning Card announced!


SCC

The randomly selected winner from all of the NFC picks for this Peyton Manning card is @band234. Congrats! Email us your address to sportcardcollectors@hotmail.com and we will get that out to ya!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Weight Clauses and Pro Athletes

We've addressed weight clauses before in player's contracts - including for Glen "Big Baby" Davis and Derek Caracter.  Jon Schuppe of NBC News now writes on the Phillies negotiating one with Delmon Young.

There's some reason to believe weight clauses are not especially effective -- the Bulls apparently tried weight clauses with Michael Sweetney, the now 30-year-old talented power forward who hasn't played in the NBA since 2007 due to obesity (the Celtics would later bring him to training camp but his weight had gotten too much).  Weight clauses might also prove counter-productive, given that some players play well heavy (David Wells, Charles Barkley etc.).

Then again, Davis slimmed down this season for the Orlando Magic and is having his best season in the NBA.  But hard it's to know if weight is the reason or if its because he's starting and is in the prime of his career at age 27.