The Death of the Hobby Shop (via Wax Heaven)

This is one subject I can relate to first hand as I had one of the first or earliest shops in the greater Sacramento (California) region. I had already been doing indoor shows and outdoor events up and down the West Coast for the previous 5 years prior to opening up a full time retail shop. I was the 4th shop to open within a 30 mile radius back in 1985… still a few years before the glut of card companies, the proliferation of “insert” cards and of course all the investors that got into the market for a quick turn around or payoff and ruined it for the die hard collector hobbyists.

By 1989 there were over 100 shops within that same 30 mile radius and within a couple of years, about the time of the first Gulf War back in 1991, about 90% of those were gone. I weathered it out as best I could, relocated and re-emerged with a variety of other pop culture collectibles to make up for lost revenue with cards. “Pogs” were just beginning to take hold but I knew those would be a passing fad.

I learned as time went on that one has to diversify with other “trendy” or “fad” items that are “hot” at the time. About the same I also pursued other favorite collectibles at this time including the emerging video game market, comic books, TV and movie memorabilia, records and music collectibles, die-cast cars such as Matchbox and Hot Wheels and non-sport cards. Gaming type cards were still a few years away but the foundation was laid with some early-issue Dungeon & Dragon cards as well as TSR cards.

Previously to opening up a retail store I had already spent a lot of time traveling on the road doing flea markets, swap meets, card shows, gift shows, antique & collector shows, mall shows, toy shows, county fairs, street fairs, community festivals, etc. from Vancouver, BC to San Diego, Tucson to Denver, including big cities and small town places in between throughout the western 11 states. I first started doing this around 1980 so I was already quite diversified.

I lasted 22 years with a brick and mortar type store and ended up closing shop for good in early 2007, right before the economy began it’s downward spiral. I let a lot of stuff go cheap  through yard sales and flea markets as well online through eBay, before the greed and the “mass exodus” away from eBay started shortly thereafter. I switched to Amazon and simultaneously began other online venues and presently finding myself favoring Craigslist (as far as dealing with the local clientele)

Lots of memories were brought back by this article.

The Death of the Hobby Shop I remember the last time I bought baseball cards before my 10 year break. I had just bought a box of some Upper Deck product and felt nothing—no excitement, no joy in the pulls, and certainly no thrill whatsoever. At 17 years of age I knew that it was time to move on. Back then there were considerably less products being released per year and THREE sports cards shops within 10 minutes of my house. Today, getting back into collecting took a lot … Read More

via Wax Heaven

Top 10 Unusual Top 10 Lists

There are a number of websites out there (including this one) that feature “Top 10” style lists or specialty lists of  favorite something or another. Well, I thought I’d turn the tables around this time and do a somewhat unique post of “Top 10 Unusual Top 10 Lists” with a nice variety of subject matter featured. The following list will feature a LINK as well as a short descriptive paragraph about the featured list/link. These are here simply to amuse, educate, entertain, awaken, amaze, astonish, surprise, scare and/or even disgust you the reader…..

You have now been forewarned so proceed to the loading dock with caution, at your own risk, and try to enjoy your soon to be acquired knowledge 😛

► #1 ~ Vacation Nightmares

Many articles have been written documenting the world’s greatest travel destinations.  However, this list will be examining some locations that you don’t want to visit or would be better off avoiding.  In planning a family vacation or cross-country trip, you just might want to cross these of your itinerary and stay as far away from them as possible. Many of the areas have a serious pollution problems, toxic waste, bad history or are extremely violent or dangerous…..

10 Places You Don’t Want To Visit on Your Next Vacation

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► #2 ~ Twisted Video Games

Warning: Some of the videos included in this list may contain material that is offensive to some readers. I do NOT necessarily recommend anything in this list but include them here only as a matter of showing you how strange some video games, especially their storylines, may really be. You may also find a few of these weird video games quite controversial or in extremely poor taste…..

10 Strangest or Most Controversial Video Games Ever Made

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► #3 ~ Secret Codes Revealed

The use of codes is intended to convey essential information quickly and with a minimum of misunderstanding to staff. Some places use secret codes to pass information between store employees. These are meant to be a secret as they don’t want to alarm the non-staff members or alert someone like a thief to the fact that they have been noticed…..

Secret Codes The General Public Is Not Suppose To Know

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► #4 ~ Eye-Opening Ads

Another warning should be applied with this link too. This is just what the title indicates… Offensive, Banned & Rejected Ads from around the world. I think once you view some of these you’ll see why most if not all were done in poor taste and would definitely create controversy…..

16 Offensive, Banned & Rejected Ads From Around The World

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► #5 ~ Morbid Deaths Rituals

As if death was not morbid enough, many people have taken last rites to a whole new level of dreadfulness. In some cultures disposing of the corpse might mean anything from eating it up to dancing with it. Those of you who think burial and cremation are the only death rituals – please prepare yourself before you read what follows in the link below…..

Top 10 Unusual Death Rituals

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► #6 ~ Unsolved Mysteries

This list comprises the most famous unsolved mysteries known to mankind that really defy rational explanation or are just outright strange. You will find some to be quite controversial also. This time you get two lists for the price of one – featuring 20 of the most disturbing, spooky, and fascinating unsolved mysteries ranging from the supernatural to the outright bizarre.

Part 1 – Top 10 Unsolved Mysteries

Part 2 – Another 10 Unsolved Mysteries

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► #7 ~ Macabre Museums

Take a virtual tour through ten of the scariest museums around today. Featured are the Mutter Museum, the Glore Psychiatric Museum, and eight other horrifying spots for those seeking the macabre. Definitely NOT for the weak of heart…..

Top 10 Museums That Will Scare You Silly

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► #8 ~ Bizarre Coming-of-Age Rituals

Rites of passage in adolescence are a cross-cultural phenomenon. They have existed throughout human history and may be a significant factor in the development of a stable adult personality. In Western culture, we are familiar with such rites as the Bar Mitzvah, Sweet 16 parties, and Quinceañera. In tribal cultures, coming of age ceremonies are, in many cases, much more elaborate and can be truly terrifying…..

10 Bizarre Rites of Passage

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► #9 ~ Freak Show Oddities

These are people who made a living as side-show freaks. Most had physical disorders and had no alternative way of making a living. A list of this type would not be complete without the most famous attraction of all: The Elephant Man…..

Top 10 Human Sideshow Freaks

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► #10 ~ Extraordinary Coincidences

Life is full of coincidences, some very minor, but occasionally – extraordinary. This is a list of 15 of the most incredible, unbelievable coincidences. This list features an interesting mix of  some spooky and some happy coincidences…..

Top 15 Amazing Coincidences

Creative Ice Cold Thirst Quenching Drink Ideas For Your Summer Holiday Celebrations

Here are a few creative, ice cold, non-alcoholic, thirst-quenching drink ideas that may be just right for your 4th of July celebration as well as Labor Day or Memorial Day get-together and gatherings  — ideal for your backyard Bar-B-Q, campground, party or picnic….. and a perfect way for everyone (of all ages) in your group to cool-off and quench their thirst from those extreme summertime temperatures.

Here’s A Toast To You and Yours!!

Bottoms Up and ENJOY!!

PATRIOTIC FIZZ

With a steady hand and some colorful drinks, you can create a tasty, multi-layered concoction. The secret is in selecting liquids with varying amounts of sugar, since those that contain more (such as soda) are denser than those with less (such as diet drinks). And that makes it possible to actually stack one on top of another (for a little while, anyway — then they’ll start to blend). Here’s how to serve up a thirst quencher with two, three, or even more layers. Our recipe is for a red, white, and blue version for your Fourth of July celebrations. See how your favorite beverages literally stack up!

Ingredients:

  • Ice cubes
  • Cranberry juice
  • Wild Berry flavor Gatorade Fierce
  • Diet 7-Up

Instructions:

  • Fill a clear glass with ice cubes. Pour the drink with the most sugar (check the nutrition label) into the glass. For our red, white, and blue recipe, start with the cranberry juice.
  • Very slowly add a beverage that contains less sugar — in this case, Wild Berry flavor Gatorade Fierce. Be careful to pour it onto an ice cube — not directly into the other drink — to keep them from mixing.
  • Use the same technique to add a layer of Diet 7-Up.

Sparkling Star Punch

This brightly colored party punch can be dressed up with an optional wreath of frozen berries and (for those who like its distinctive licorice flavor) bits of floating star anise.

Ingredients:

  • 1 64-ounce bottle cold cranberry juice cocktail
  • 1 24-ounce bottle cold sparkling cider
  • 1 liter cold ginger ale
  • 1 orange, washed
  • 1 16-ounce bag frozen strawberries or cranberries(optional)
  • 4 or 5 pieces star anise(optional)

Instructions:

  • The Basic Punch: Pour the cranberry juice (reserving 1 1/2 cups), cider, and ginger ale into a punch bowl. Halve the orange, squeezing one half of the juice into the punch. Cut the other half into slices and float them in the punch.
  • Berry Ice Ring: Arrange the berries in a ring-style gelatin mold or bundt pan that can fit inside your punch bowl. Fill the mold with water, then freeze. Un-mold the ring (warm the pan with water) and place it flat side down in the punch.
  • A Hint of Anise: In a small saucepan, bring the anise and reserved cranberry juice to a simmer, then remove from the heat. Pour into a small bowl and let cool. Refrigerate until cold, then stir into the punch.

Cherry Vanilla Smoothie

This sweet-tart smoothie is an all-time favorite. Double the recipe and freeze the leftovers in paper cups. Your kids can have the first round for breakfast, the second for a wholesome dessert.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup apple juice or cider
  • 1/2 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen pitted cherries

Instructions:
  • Blend all ingredients together.
  • Serves 2.

Quick Summer Grillin’ Ideas For Fresh Fruit & Veggies

With the 4th of July weekend just around the corner and many backyard Bar-B-Q grills getting fired up for a good long weekend workout, you may want to experiment with some new or different culinary choices and still manage to stay on the healthy side. It’s very realistic and possible with so many summer fruits and veggies in plentiful supply and generally best prices of the year if  purchased now (especially at farmer’s markets or roadside produce stands).

So here are a few ideas to “get your grill on” or at least get you started and you can adjust seasoning suggestions according to you and your family’s tastes. Many of the suggestions listed below will probably take less time to prepare and grill than it takes to watch your coals turn white. (If you use gas, they’re still almost as fast as heating up the grill.) A few of these edible concoctions feature ingredients like corn, eggplant and tomatoes, which might be better suited a month from now, at least in certain parts of the country. However there are quite a few suggestions for foods that are in season right now that everybody doesn’t necessarily think of putting on the grill. You might wanna make note that salt and pepper are generally added to each of the following in moderation according to you personal preferences .

So Let’s Get Grillin’

  • Best Grilled Artichokes — Cut artichokes in half, scoop out the choke, parboil until tender. Grill, cut-side down, until lightly browned; grill a couple of halved lemons, too. Combine the juice from the grilled lemons with melted butter and spoon over the artichokes. Finish with parsley.
  • Grill Bread — Grind in a food processor to make coarse bread crumbs. (You can add garlic and/or parsley and/or Parmesan, or not.) Grill asparagus until tender. Top with bread crumbs and olive oil.
  • Tahini Tofu Steaks — Thin Tahini with lots of lemon juice and some minced garlic. Cut a brick of firm tofu into four slabs and brush with sesame oil. Grill over a moderate fire, turning a few times, until marked and crisp outside and custardy inside. On the last turn, baste with the Tahini sauce. Serve on thick tomato slices with a drizzle of soy sauce and chopped basil, Thai if possible.
  • For perfectly ripe Tomatoes only — Grill tomatoes, any size, until hot and lightly charred but not bursting. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve with fresh mozzarella (or, even better, Burrata) and grilled bread.
  • Grilled Guacamole — Halve and pit avocados; lightly char them, then scoop out the flesh. Grill halved red onion, too. Chop, combine, add tomatoes, lime, garlic and spices if you like.
  • Rub thick Zucchini slices with a mixture of fresh or dried dill, yogurt, olive oil and lemon. (Or use pesto or parsley pesto.) Grill slowly.
  • Lightly char whole or halved heads of baby Bok Choy; drizzle with soy sauce and top with chopped scallions.
  • Peel and thickly slice a not overly ripe Mango. Brush very lightly with neutral oil and grill just until softened; sprinkle with cilantro and/or mint and lime juice (you might as well grill the lime first, too).
  • Grill Pineapple (or anything, really, from pork to tofu to eggplant). Make a sauce of half-cup peanut butter, a tablespoon (or more) soy sauce, a dash (or more) sriracha chili sauce, a handful of basil or mint and enough warm water to thin. (It’s tempting to say, “Throw away the pineapple and eat the sauce,” but the combination is sensational.)
  • Grill Red, Orange and/or Yellow Peppers — Toss with olives, capers, balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
  • Charred Salsa Verde — Toss whole husked tomatillos, scallions and jalapeños in olive oil and grill until charred. Remove the blackened skin from the chilies and chop or blend everything with diced avocado, lime juice and cilantro. Eat with chips or top grilled chicken with it.
  • Lightly grill ripe Figs — Brush with balsamic. Chop and toss with arugula and blue cheese. Sprinkle with olive oil.
  • Ratatouille — Grill chunks of zucchini, yellow squash, mushrooms, eggplant, onion and tomatoes (or use cherry tomatoes), all until lightly browned and perfectly tender. Toss with fresh marjoram or oregano, thyme, basil and olive oil.

For more Quick Summer Cookin’ and Grillin’ Ideas —

— check this LINK from the New York Times on Today