Friday, April 23, 2021

Eryn LaLonde Visits Section 36!

Photo by Glam Genies
Section 36 has another visitor! Eryn LaLonde is passionate about scholarship, and a talented dancer
. I was thrilled that she wanted to visit with us to discuss those topics, and a few more.

So, let's see what happens when Eryn LaLonde visits Section 36!

What made you decide to compete within the Miss America Organization?

Freshman year of high school, my mom and I started to look for college scholarships. We came across the Manatee County Fair Pageant that awarded a $500 scholarship to the winner. By winning that title (after three tires), I had the opportunity to compete at Miss Florida’s Outstanding Teen Pageant, and I have been competing since. 

What did you learn about yourself at past competitions that will help you when you start competing again in the fall?

Perseverance is key. Unfortunately, some individuals will play mind games and try to tear you down, but don’t let that stop you! I took a few years off to focus on my family and my mental mindset, and I am ready to begin competing again. 

How did you select your social impact initiative, “Operation Success: Planning and Paying for Higher Education ”?

When I was Miss Manatee County's Outstanding Teen, I

finished my reign with over $2000 in scholarship. Since then, I have met numerous business owners and organizations that have continually donated towards my education. I am currently going into my third semester of grad school 100% debt-free due to scholarships. I have not had to pay a penny out of pocket for my education. I have so many friends who have taken out huge loans to complete their education when all they need to be doing is searching for scholarships. I am making it my goal to provide my peers with the tools they need to apply for scholarships.

You had the opportunity to travel to Guatemala to work in a malnutrition center. What was that experience like?

Freshman year, I had the opportunity to go on a mission trip to Guatemala with Florida Baptist Children’s Home. I worked at a malnutrition Center where I loved and cared for children who were so sick. 60% of Guatemalan children are malnourished. After my first trip, I was unsure of when I would return due to the cost. I took it upon myself to host a diaper drive for the center where I raised over 25,000 diapers and wipes. I was able to return my sophomore year and see the stock room full of all the diapers that I had raised. The people there might not have a lot, but their love for God and compassion towards us Americans is outstanding. Upon high school graduation, I did not go to the typical college track as many of my other peers did. Instead, I packed my bags and went down to Guatemala for over a month as an intern at the center. While I was there, I was able to submerge myself in their culture and personally get to know all of the employees who worked and cared for these children. Today, I have been to Guatemala five times, and I hope to go back once we can travel again. 

What is your personal fitness routine?

One of the main ways that I stay in shape right now is by practicing my talent routine. I recently had the opportunity to go to New York and have my tap routine choreographed by Shea Sullivan.

If you had an extra ticket to a Rays-Marlins game, who would you take with you? Why?

Most definitely my uncle Jeff. I don’t know anyone who is a bigger baseball fan than him. The past few times he’s been in Florida, we tried to plan trips to the game but, it has never worked out in our favor. 

If you could be a Disney character for a week, who would you choose? Why?

Cruella de Vil. Although her character and mindset might be controversial, she has a love for dogs, just as I do. We have three miniature wiener dogs, and my boyfriend’s family has golden retrievers. She might be considered a villain, but she is always stylish and has the best wardrobe! 

Is there a feature or activity at a baseball game that you’d especially like to experience?

I would love to work a World Series Game! This past February, I was hired by the NFL to work at the Super Bowl. I was one of the select few who were on the field with the team, as well as attend all other Super Bowl events that happened that day. Expanding my experience into baseball and having the opportunity to work at a World Series game would be amazing.


I think "amazing" would be an absolute understatement!.

As always, I want to thank Eryn for visiting with us, and for sending along the pictures to go with the interview.

I definitely hope you'll follow Eryn on her social media accounts, like her Instagram and Facebook accounts. You should also be sure to visit her website. They're all great ways to keep track of everything she has going on! 

I also definitely want to wish her the best of luck when she starts competing again in the fall! Maybe she'll be nice enough to visit again with a new title.
Thanks again Eryn, and good luck!

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

1975 Topps Page by Page: Page 53 (469-477)

I'm sure that you all remember that I finally completed my 1975 Topps set.

Now that it's done I thought it would be fun to look through the set and talk about it. Going page by page seemed like a good way to go about it. Hopefully you find it interesting to read what I have to say.

How about we continue with page 53?

Red Sox Cards on the Page  

0. Not as much fun without one.

Cards that make the 1975 Topps set cool 

All-Star cards are definitely cool.

My favorite card on the page 

Not much to choose from with a pretty wide selection of rather mundane poses. I'll have to go with Darrell Evans. Love the old Braves uniform. Plus, as a fan of Red Sox star Dwight Evans, I have memories of pulling cards of that "other" D. Evans from packs.

What would your answers to those last two categories be?

Friday, April 16, 2021

Nicole Steinhagen Visits Section 36!

Photo by Akadia Marles
Section 36 has another visitor! Nicole Steinhagen is passionate about ending the silence surrounding suicide, a black belt in 
Shotokan Karateand the current Miss Greater Portland. I was thrilled that she wanted to visit with us to discuss those topics, and a few more.

So, let's see what happens when Nicole Steinhagen visits Section 36! 

What made you want to participate in the Miss Maine program as Miss Greater Portland?
I have been a part of the Miss Maine organization from the time I was 10 until I was 13. I started in the princess program and participated until I was 13 when I officially decided to compete for Miss Maine’s Outstanding Teen. After a couple of years of losses, I decided to pursue other activities.  The organization is one that I have always loved and admired. Upon retiring from competing in Martial Arts Tournaments, I decided to compete for Miss Maine since it would give me the opportunity to show off my talent. The fact that this year I get to represent the area that I grew up in makes this year even better!

What did you learn about yourself at last year’s Miss Maine competition that will help you the next time you compete?
That sisterhood is the most important part of this organization. I have been able to lean on the sisters I have already met, and I’ve been able to connect with sisters around the country. These girls have seriously become some of my best friends and I haven’t even met them in person. We bounce ideas off each other, stay up until midnight on Facetime, help each other with paperwork, and that is only the tip of the iceberg. 

Do you have a specific goal you’d like to accomplish during your time as Miss Greater Portland?
One specific goal that I have is to educate the Greater

Portland area on the idea of suicide prevention and what we can do to help each other especially as we are coming out of COVID. In Maine, suicide prevention is still very new and I am beyond grateful to pave the path for the future. 

How did you select social impact initiative: End the Silence, Let’s Talk about Suicide?
I grew up thinking that suicide was never going to affect me personally. Five years ago, I lost my grandpa to suicide, and it completely blindsided me. He was my go to for everything and really he was my best friend. The fact that he suffered in silence absolutely kills me. Now I am determined and dedicated to educating as many people about the confidential resources available to everyone, the warning signs of someone contemplating suicide, and what we can to help each other. 

You have a black belt in Shotokan Karate. What got you involved in that activity?

I got involved at the age of 6 when I went to my neighbors birthday party! It was hosted at the karate school and they had classes for us! It was seriously the best birthday party I’ve ever been to!

If you could be a Disney Character for a week, who would you choose? Why?
Princess Anna. Definitely Princess Anna. She is a strong female who didn’t need a prince to save her and she is not afraid to be herself. As an extrovert myself, I love seeing another extrovert in a princess role is so good. These are the women that little girls look up to and want to emulate.  

Portland is, of course, home to the Red Sox AA club, the Sea Dogs. Have you been able to make it to any of their games?
I love going to Sea Dogs games! When I was growing up, I

would go all the time with my family. My favorite was always the fan appreciation day where the players reenact the “Field of Dreams.” Once I got on the performance team at the karate school, we would go and do a pregame show! We once got to perform at a game that David Ortiz was in town for rehab.

If you had an extra ticket to a Red Sox game, who would you take with you? Why?
I would take my sister. Going to any kind of sporting event is always more fun when she is there. Also she’s my best friend and we make any situation more fun when the two of us are together. 

Is there a feature or activity at Fenway that you’d especially like to experience?
I definitely want to go to a Dropkick Murphy’s Concert. I love the Murphy’s and they did a performance at the stadium during quarantine which was absolutely amazing so it’d be more amazing in person, right? 


It would definitely be more amazing in person! I had the opportunity to see them play a song at Fenway once -- before a playoff game perhaps -- and it was quite an experience.

As always, I want to thank Nicole for visiting with us, and for sending along the pictures to go with the interview.

As Nicole continues her time as Miss Greater Portland, I encourage you to follow her on her title and personal Instagram accounts. They're great ways to keep track of everything she has going on! 

I also definitely want to wish her the best of luck when she competes for the Miss Maine title. It would be wonderful to have another Section 36 visitor wear that crown!
Thanks again Nicole, and good luck!

Monday, April 12, 2021

1975 Topps Page by Page: Page 52 (460-468)

 I'm sure that you all remember that I finally completed my 1975 Topps set.

Now that it's done I thought it would be fun to look through the set and talk about it. Going page by page seemed like a good way to go about it. Hopefully you find it interesting to read what I have to say.

How about we continue with page 52?

Red Sox Cards on the Page  

0. But, I suppose that's understandable.

Cards that make the 1975 Topps set cool 

World Series cards are absolutely cool. Which is lucky, because they take up almost the entire page.

My favorite card on the page 

Lots of great action shots on this page. The NLCS card is a great one with the cloud of dust. But, something about the Game 3 Fingers card calls to me. It's a wonderful picture that I can't stop admiring.

What would your answers to those last two categories be?

Friday, April 9, 2021

Carolyn Brady Visits Section 36!

Section 36 has another visitor! Carolyn Brady is passionate about immigration appreciation, a talented violinist, 
and the current Miss Maine. I was excited that she was willing to visit with us to discuss those topics, and a few more.

So, let's see what happens when Carolyn Brady visits Section 36!

How did you celebrate winning the Miss Maine crown?

By getting right to work the next day of course! At the time, I thought I would only have this title for a year and I didn't want to waste a minute of time. I won on a Saturday night and was out in the community in my crown and sash on Sunday morning!

That gave you the opportunity to compete for Miss America. What was that experience like?

Needless to say, our Miss America experience was very different from that of any state titleholder from years prior. It was the ultimate test of rolling with the punches and I definitely learned a lot about how to expect the unexpected. However, I was incredibly fortunate to have spent that week with all of my sisters and to have shared that experience with them. I truly believe that the friendships we created that week will last a lifetime!

As your term as Miss Maine finishes a second year, do you have a specific goal you’d like to accomplish with the extra time?

Just continued growth and development. I have always sought

to leave a space better than I found it, and that holds true for my role as Miss Maine as well. While I hope I was able to do that over the course of my first year, I plan to continue working to build our state program in hopes of creating more opportunities for the young women who participate in our program as well as the people of Maine. 

How did you select your social impact initiative, “Immigration Builds our Nation”?

When I first started competing in the Miss America Organization, I was actually competing in Pennsylvania with a social impact initiative focused on music education. However, when I decided to compete in Maine and I acknowledged that if I won, I would be the first black woman to win the state title, I wanted to find a social impact initiative that was relevant to the needs of people in Maine but also an issue that I could serve in a unique way, so I decided to devote my efforts to immigration appreciation. 

As a talented violinist, what do you enjoy about performing out on stage?

Photo by Susan Costa
I enjoy music as an art form, designed to make both the performers and the audience members evoke a feeling. My favorite aspect of performing is using my talent as a medium to do just that. 

How would you finish the sentence, “If I could change one thing it would be ___”?

Oh goodness, just one? Well on a fun note, I would put a SoulCycle in every state in America. On a more serious note, I would eliminate cancel culture and exchange it for accountability culture. Instead of 'you gotta go', let's try more 'live, learn, and grow'. More conversations. More education. More acceptance of mutual goals.

If you could be a Disney character for a week, who would you choose? Why?

Judy Hopps. As an underdog from the very beginning, she

became the first rabbit officer of the Zootopia Police Department, worked her way up through the force, and eventually uncovered a criminal conspiracy, all while breaking preconceptions about other species and working to make the world a better place. She does it all! 

If you had an extra ticket to a Portland Sea Dogs game, who would you take with you? Why?

I would bring someone who likes to eat as much as I do. Hot dog lovers would definitely receive priority in the selection process! 

Is there a feature or activity at a baseball game that you’d especially like to experience?

Well I was fortunate enough to throw the first pitch at a Portland Sea Dogs game shortly after I won Miss Maine. Hypothetically, I'm sure I would enjoy the thrill of catching a foul ball, but in reality, I guarantee that if a foul ball was headed anywhere near my seat, I would scream louder than you have ever heard a person scream before. 


I'd definitely be more of a "pick it up when it stops rolling" foul ball catcher myself! 

As always, I want to thank Carolyn for visiting with us, and for sending along the pictures to go with the interview.

As Carolyn continues her time as Miss Maine, I encourage you to follow her on Instagram and Facebook account. They're great ways to keep track of everything she has going on! 
Thanks again Carolyn!

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

My First COMC sale!

I feel like I've talked about my card buying process before. In a nutshell, I buy packs of cards. I keep the Red Sox cards. I sell the other cards on eBay. I use the money from the sales to buy more cards. My bread and butter sales have been 20 count player lots. Small potatoes stuff. Now, a couple things probably jump out at you. First, that's a terrible "business model". I mean, just awful. To make that work, I'd need to be getting "hits" all the time. And even if I did, they'd have to be non-Red Sox hits...which would be a weird goal for me to have. So, it's not perfect. And there are a few additions like packs from the easter bunny or Santa that keep the thing going. And, it also means I'm talking more like a blaster a month than a case a month. But, that's not the point of this post. (Maybe it should be the point of a future post?) The point of this post is that I was starting to see some obvious shortfalls with the eBay method. First, the 20 card lots were tending to ignore the "mid-range" cards. Sure, the nickel and dime cards fit into lots nicely. But, sticking in a three dollar card was a bit of a waste. On the other hand, with fees and shipping costs, selling a $3 card wasn't exactly an efficient move either. I was wondering about another way.

Then I saw a video really going into the weeds on COMC. It really seemed to be what I was looking for. The fee structure seemed to be perfect for those mid range cards that had been stacking up in my "sale" box. I decided I didn't have anything to lose, and sent off a small 45 card shipment to starts things off.

Again, I know what you're thinking. "Now? When COMC is such a mess with shipping and processing times?" And, again, you're right. My timing isn't the best. (I sent my first cards off to be graded in forever a month or so ago too. Timing is not my forte) But, this was just a trial balloon, and I wasn't in much of a rush with these cards that were just taking up space. 

I waited the three-week processing time, and the cards were finally listed on the site. And then, I waited to see if something sold. 

I had to wait about an hour. By the next morning I had another, and someone had made me an offer on a third. (I didn't even know you could make offers). I went on to sell a card or two a day for the next week or so before slowing down.

At this point, I've sold 20 of those original 45 cards, at an average of $4 a card.

My initial thoughts?

I like it. 

Now, obviously, I don't know how this will work long term. As I send more cards in (I already have another hundred cards or so processing before listing) will the profit margin prove too slim to sustain? But it definitely seems to do what I wanted. Those cards worth a few dollars that were too much of a hassle or too many fees to list on eBay have a perfect home. I love that COMC does all the work. I just ship a stack of cards. They take care of the pictures and listing. I just pick the price. That's a pretty big time saver, and worth quite a bit in my book.

The oddities...I need to figure out the financial sweet spot. As I said, my first shipment was 45 cards. That meant it cost about 19 cents each to ship. COMC charged me another 50 cents to list them. So I was already in for 69 cents on each card. Sending more cards could lower the per card shipping. But, the processing fee is still there. So, there's a balance somewhere between what I did, and sending in 500 cards in a flat rate box for next to nothing in shipping but fronting $250 in processing fees. That's a sweet spot I'll need to figure out. Plus, there are ways to get the processing fees a little cheaper. So, again, I'll need to mix and match a bit to find that perfect submission. But I'm excited to see how it all goes. 

As I do, feel free to Check out My Cards!

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

2021 Topps Series 1 Blaster!

Remember when I wrote about bumping into the card vendor? And, remember when I said I almost didn't buy anything because I had already ordered a few blasters online? Well, today I share the results of one of those blasters! Pretty exciting, right?

Let's get to it!

Yup. They are what I said they are.

The first Red Sox base card of 2021! Not a bad way to start at all. After going last box only getting inserts, this one makes up for it. Definitely expecting bigs things from Dalbec this season.

Boy are these die cuts annoying when trying to flip through a stack of cards. It's like the specifically designed the "7" to catch on all the other cards in the stack.

Another card of a Red Sox young star. This three year vet is actually a year younger than Dalbec. Sometimes I have to remind myself of that.

With any luck, he'll return as the ace of the staff and a Cy Young candidate. The horizontal format of the card actually works well with the design. I actually think the stripes are less intrusive...even though they're right there in the middle of the card.

A Red Sox parallel! Of, a former Red Sox! Ouch.

I'd have to say this box turned out a little better than the first one. Hopefully that upward trend continues!

How did your box go?

Thursday, April 1, 2021

The Most Important Team Today

That’s right. Once again, it’s time for your favorite post of the year. The one where I discuss the fantasy team I drafted for this year! I know. The only thing worse than tweeting about fantasy teams is blogging about them. But, what better way to celebrate the start of the season?

Just as a reminder, this is a nine team 5x5 league, with 30 roster spots. So, it's a big league. You have three keepers, and they take the place of your draft pick in whatever round you originally drafted the player. (I love that detail. For instance, one player in the League only used a 24th round pick of Fernando Tatis.) I had the fourth pick in a wraparound draft. Got that?

So, who did I get?

C - T. d'Arnaud ATL
1B - P. Alonso NYM
2B - C. Biggio TOR
3B - R. Devers BOS
SS - X. Bogaerts BOS
CI - B. Dalbec BOS
MI - G. Lux LAD
OF - J. Soto WAS
OF - J.D. Martinez BOS
OF - A. Verdugo BOS
OF - T. Pham SD
U - J. Rojas ARI
U - I. Kiner-Falefa TEX
U - A. Dickerson SF
B - R. Tapia COL
B - A. Benintendi KC
B - L. Arraez MIN
B - K. Hernandez BOS

SP - M. Scherzer WAS
SP - C. Kershaw LAD
SP - K. Henricks CHC
RP - T. Rosenthal OAK
RP - A. Colome MIN
P - J. Hicks StL
P - A. Nola PHI
P - R. Rodriguez PIT
P - S. Alcantara MIA
B - E. Rodriguez BOS
B - C. Martin ATL
B - A. Ottavino BOS

My three keepers were Rafael Devers (round ten), Xander Bogaerts (round fourteen) and Aaron Nola (round sixteen). I love the idea of getting Devers with the eighty-seventh pick almost as much as I like getting Xander with the 123rd. I grabbed Soto in the first round, obviously. (If you care, deGrom was taken #1 then Betts and Trout were keepers.)

From there, I was able to grab plenty of Red Sox players. I'm always actually surprised with how many I end up with. Obviously, Bogaerts and Devers are legit picks that you don't need to be a Sox fan to grab. JD and Verdugo as well. I got EdRo late enough that if he doesn't return to 2019 form it won't be a killer. Similar for Dalbec. If he's not the real deal after all, I shouldn't regret it much. Hernandez was super late, and I love having someone available at so many positions on my bench.

So, while I know you probably need to see the rest of my league to decide how my team will do, I welcome any comments on any of my selections. 

Think I got any good ones?

What people are reading this week