Today is the 4th anniversary of this meandering bit of nonsense called “The Shlabotnik Report”, but for all the meandering and nonsense, I have to admit that writing my thoughts out has been very helpful in bringing focus to my collection, getting a better idea of which parts of collecting bring me the most joy.
I’ve been meaning to write a couple of posts about “lessons learned”, so I figured that the 4th anniversary is as good a starting point as any
…So yes, my iPod did help me out with seeing my way through some of the clutter issues I’ve had… but no, this doesn’t involve some app that I downloaded to manage my collection, it’s a little more subtle than that.
…And requires a little backstory…
Back in the technological stone age that was the 1980’s and 1990’s, I was always making mix tapes for my own use. I just loved the idea of having 90 minutes of music that I could program however I see fit with whatever songs and artists I wanted, plus it was a good way of listening to the songs from those albums that only had one or two good songs on them.
Down the road, when I got an iPod, I fell in love with the concept of the shuffle. I could listen to it in a way that was like having my own bizarre radio station that will go from Led Zeppelin to Ella Fitzgerald to The Beatles to James Brown to Kraftwerk… It’s not hyperbole to say it completely changed the way I listen to music.
I have over 13,000 tracks in my iTunes library… so much music that I outgrew my 60GB iPod classic. It comes from many sources; CD’s I’ve ripped, songs I’ve downloaded, vinyl I’ve converted to digital format… But there’s also a fair chunk of it that comes from experimentation… used CD’s, free and/or cheap downloads and so on. I found some great music this way, but I also ended up with a lot of music that I didn’t mind listening to, but also didn’t love.
Meanwhile, songs I truly loved would get lost in the shuffle – pun most definitely intended. I would go a couple of years without hearing some of the songs I really wanted to hear, and I reached a point where I decided that this would not do.
I started to thin out my iPod library with one simple rule (or “one weird trick”, if you like): “Would I really miss this song if I never heard it again?” If the answer is ‘no’, then it gets removed.
After I started doing that, I found that my shuffles were more enjoyable, because there was a greater chance that I’d hear something that I would truly enjoy, as opposed to just being pleasant background noise.
After a while, it occurred to me that this dilemma and solution could apply to my card collection in the same way. Many of the cards I’d accumulated over 40 years had become clutter that was taking time and space away from the cards which mattered to me. That also had to stop.
I started going through my cards while using a line of reasoning similar to what I use for music…
There’s nothing wrong with this 1998 Bowman Jeff Bagwell card… but I don’t collect Jeff Bagwell, I don’t collect the Astros, I don’t collect Bowman, so what reason is there for hanging on to it? If I got rid of this card, would I ever miss it?
In some cases, it became a multi-step train of thought…
- Admit that I will never get around to completing the 1994 Topps set because I just don’t have the “want to”.
- If I will never complete 1994 Topps, then that takes away the “reason for being” for many of my 1994 Topps cards.
- If the 1994 Topps Hipolito Pichardo has an unexceptional photo and fills no particular role in my collection, then off it goes.
- Lather, rinse, repeat.
Once I started into this process, I found it very liberating. I also started breaking up sets that I bought back in the day (often cheap, hand-collated sets) because there was no emotional or financial benefit towards keeping it intact as a set… So off went another batch of cards.
Just to be clear, I’m not up on my soapbox telling you that this is what you should do… I’m just sharing my thoughts and methods in the hope that you might find it helpful, interesting and/or entertaining. I’m sure many of you have had some similar experiences, and I’d love to hear about that.
This series will continue for the next two days… that’s either a promise or a warning, take your pick.