Photo Blogging Challenge: July 2014’s theme is…

Jul 01

july2014

When coming up with this month’s theme, I realized some people might shy away thinking it’s too specific — but it’s not. Though a direct theme, I think this is where we get to see what people can come up with. I hope this doesn’t scare people away, rather challenge you a bit more to think inside — and outside — the box. That is, after all, what challenges are for.

We have a great group who participates on here and I hope this challenges you some. If it works out well, I have some other ideas for specific … yet broad … topics to hopefully use in the future.

I’d also really love to see us grow a little. So tell your blogging pals and all. You don’t need top-of-the-line photo equipment to participate. You just need something to take photos and the ability to blog about it. Let’s keep growing and challenging ourselves!

The theme is below… I look forward to seeing what people come up with!

As a reminder of a few things, let me copy and paste this from last month:

  • I have an e-mail reminder list set up (which I haven’t used lately because nobody seemed to want it. I’d like to start it again, so please let me know if you want in on it). Basically, I’ll e-mail the group with about 10 days left in the month to remind you. When I remember, I’ll also shoot one out the day before the end of the month, as a reminder to post the following day. I can’t always guarantee that one though! If you are not on the list, let me know in the comments below that you would like to be on it. Note: I was bad on this … please join the Facebook group if you can. I update there more often!
  • Second, I set up a Facebook group for those who are interested. Reminders and maybe some discussions or other things can be done there.
  • If you haven’t already, attempt to check out everybody’s posts and consider commenting. These challenges are great for personal growth, but it’s also nice to be interactive with all the others in the challenge! That’s one of the best parts of this challenge — interacting and seeing other people’s work!

Before we hit up this month’s theme, for new people, allow me to refresh the rules a bit.

Here’s how it will work.

  • On the first of each month (or close to it), I’ll have a blog post here with the theme for the month.
  • Over the course of the month, participants will take photos with their interpretation of the theme. On the last day of the month (or close to it), participants should  publish their blog post, which will include five photos from the month. (please don’t recycle photos from the past … the idea is to hopefully challenge you to go out and take new photos each month to interpret the theme). And please only use photos you took.
  • I’ll have a link-up thing at the end of my post so people can come and post the links to their posts so, hopefully, everybody can go go check out and comment on other posts.

There is no rule on equipment or anything. Use a cell phone. Use film. Use a point-and-shoot. Use a DSLR. It doesn’t matter. Just make sure you publish your blog post on the last day of each month, come here and link up.

It’s simple!

Your blog posts can be as simple or as in-depth as you want. I’ll likely talk a little about each photo. But if all you want to do is post photos, feel free. The idea of this is to give a small challenge and give everybody a chance to express themselves with photography, participate in a challenge and have something to blog about.

That’s it. Easy, right? So join in! Help us continue to grow this challenge by telling fellow bloggers/photographers about the challenge and hopefully it can become a great monthly thing!

For those still with me, this month’s theme is: Baseball.

I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone comes up with here. There are so many ways to do this and I think there will be some great stuff. I can’t wait to see.

Please make sure your blog post publishes Thursday, July 31

If you think you are going to take part in this, drop a comment below so we can see who all might be trying to tackle this challenge!

History of the challenge (past month’s themes – links to see everybody else’s posts are at the end of the linked post):

Feel free to leave a comment, or e-mail P.J. at hoohaablog@gmail.com. Also, please “Like” HooHaa Blog on Facebook!

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Summer of Baseball: A game in Binghamton is a nice night

Jun 23

It’s almost crazy to think of a minor league baseball stadium built in 1992 as being old, but as the years go by – it becomes older.

To think that 1992 was more than 20 years ago will age a park, especially at the Double-A level. When NYSEG Stadium, in Binghamton, was built in 1992, it was quite the stadium. And over the years, it’s been used for other things, including high school football.

Home of the B-Mets.

Home of the B-Mets.

But, in the landscape of baseball, it’s an older stadium. Though one thing is certain – it’s still a pretty nice stadium.

I usually make a few trips to Binghamton per season as it’s an easy trip, never a problem to park and there are no issues getting tickets. There isn’t a bad seat in the house and, unless you go on a few uber-popular days, you can usually lounge a little more when there. I’ve sat on both sides of this field, as well as in the “upper deck,” which came on this trip. The third-base line is better if you want to avoid the sun.

You really are pretty close to the action, which is always a bonus. There’s a train yard out over the left-field wall, so sometimes you may get a train going through. That’s kind of a cool thing, though. The fences are average or so in length, which gives you the opportunity to see some homers.

The day's lineup.

The day’s lineup.

There aren’t a ton of bells and whistles with this stadium. They do quite a few games and such and there’s a kids area down the first-base line. The food selection is decent and the prices are OK, but not stellar. Case in point – I purchase two hot dogs and a soda. The soda cost about as much as the two dogs and if I had wanted French fries, they would have cost more than $4. A little steep when consider the hot dogs were $1.75 each, if I remember right.

As a hot dog nut, I wouldn’t classify those served in Binghamton as the best I’ve ever had a game and it’s not even close. But, I did enjoy them as they were cooked right and tasted just fine. I’d go above average on the hot dogs, say a 3.5 out of 5 or a 7 out of 10.

Keeping book, as always, on my Eephus League Halfliner.

Keeping book, as always, on my Eephus League Halfliner.

If you are looking to watch a baseball game, this is a good spot. The seats are pretty decent and you have a good amount of room. But if you are looking for a lot of extras, this might not be a place for you.

In recent years, there have been rumors about the Double-A team leaving Binghamton, which possibly could open the stadium up to be a Single-A team. This stadium, actually, would be really top-notch for that level (especially in the short-season Single-A New York-Penn League), though drawing fans might take a hit in that regard. Still, even with the rumors, Double-A ball remains in Binghamton and, hopefully, it will stay that way.

Park Notes:

NYSEG Stadium
Binghamton, New York
Home of the Binghamton Mets (AA affiliate of the New York Mets)
Visited on: Monday, May 26
Opponent: New Britain Rock Cats (AA affiliate of the Minnesota Twins)

Ratings (out of 10):

  • Stadium: 7
  • Concessions: 6
  • Parking: 8
  • Ambiance: 7
  • Friendliness: 9

I am embarking on a summer of baseball with the plan to hit a minimum of 10 stadiums this summer. Hopefully, there will be more than that. I will report on each park that I hit on the blog.

Feel free to leave a comment, or e-mail P.J. at hoohaablog [at] gmail.com. Also, please “Like” HooHaa Blog on Facebook!

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Summer of Baseball: Syracuse a solid spot to watch a game

Jun 16

I’ve always been a fan of the Syracuse ballpark. It’s quaint, easy to get to and, usually, easy to get out of. But, despite a city of about 145,000 people, it doesn’t seem like the Chiefs draw on a nightly basis.

NBT Bank Stadium in Syracuse.

The day I was there was a cool spring afternoon with a 2:05 start and had an announced attendance of 2,559. With the seating capacity at NBT Bank Stadium at about 11,000, I am quite sure the stadium wasn’t a quarter filled, so it was easy to put the feet up, watch the game and enjoy. Parking had a fee of $5, but I can’t imagine that would necessarily scare people away.

The layout of Syracuse is quite nice. I’m not sure there’s a bad seat in the house. However, one thing I learned from the year before – it’s better to sit on the third-base side because of the sun. If you are on the first-base side and it’s hot and sunny, you’re in trouble. Therefore, it’s the third-base side for me.

I know there aren’t many people who do this anymore, but I am a baseball nerd in that I still keep a scorebook. Last year, I backed a Kickstarter campaign for a Halfliner (bia the Eephus League) and it goes with me to any professional game. So, when doing this, you need the lineups.

Everything needed for a game!

Most professional stadiums (and many smaller college summer leagues) have a lineup posted. You’ll often see people with scorebooks scribbling the lineup so they can keep track of what’s going on. I noticed it last year – and again this year – that Syracuse doesn’t have one. That makes it a little difficult for those of us who keep score to do it.

That means getting the names off as announced or when they come to bat. It takes away from the experience.

At one point, the new general manager was walking around and chatting with people. He sat with us for a few minutes and I noted this one important piece missing from the baseball experience. He assured me it was in the works and hoped, by the next time we visited for a game, one would be in place. I do, too, as even for those who don’t keep score, it’s nice to be able to look at a lineup.

Warming up in the pen.

Turns out, though, this is a whole new regime in Syracuse. The Chiefs lost upward of a million dollars last year, and this new GM is part of a new group hoping to turn things around. From our brief talk, he seems to have some good ideas and a vision, so hopefully he can make the franchise viable again and put some people in the stands.

Overall, the stadium is a good place to watch a game. There are plenty of options in regard to concessions. The hot dogs were pretty solid, albeit a bit pricey for a Triple-A team that doesn’t seem to overflow the stands. I only had that and a small order of fries, so I can’t comment on the quality of everything else. But if it’s anything like the dog and fries, it should be good. There are a lot of choices, and that is always a good thing.

Though I didn’t dabble, the beer selection was the normal items, though I did see a few local brews as well.

In the end, Syracuse is a good stadium to visit. I’ll likely do it at least one more time this summer, hopefully with a lineup card available.

Park Notes:  

NBT  Bank Stadium
Syracuse, New York
Home of the Syracuse Chiefs (AAA affiliate of the Washington Nationals)
Visited on: Sunday, May 18.
Opponent: Columbus Clippers (AAA affiliate of the Cleveland Indians)

Ratings (out of 10)

  • Stadium: 7.5/10
  • Concessions: 7/10
  • Parking: 9/10
  • Ambiance: 8/10
  • Friendliness: 8/10

I am embarking on a summer of baseball with the plan to hit a minimum of 10 stadiums this summer. Hopefully, there will be more than that. I will report on each park that I hit on the blog.

Feel free to leave a comment, or e-mail P.J. at hoohaablog [at] gmail.com. Also, please “Like” HooHaa Blog on Facebook!

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Geeking out — baseball style

Jun 11

The summer of baseball.

Well, that’s what I am calling it at least. I have a goal of hitting at least 10 stadiums this summer. They will mostly be minor league games (there’s only once on the schedule, so far, of the major league variety), which is the type of baseball I truly love.

I was speaking with somebody this week about baseball and watching games. The discussion was just sports based and he was telling me about some amazingly cool experiences he’s had, but more with basketball. The conversation switched to baseball and I mentioned how I am true baseball nut — and carry  scorebook with me to every game.

He noted that I truly went for the geekdom.

Yes, yes I do.

The reality is, I’ve always been a baseball geek.

Yes… baseball geekdom. With my Eephus League Halfliner scorebook.

When you are a fan of sports, it’s often a situation where you lean toward one or another sport. I’m no different. Many of my friends are football first, the rest after. I have some die-hard hockey fans. Even soccer. But for me? Baseball. It always has been and always will be.

My love affair with the game goes back many years.

I didn’t see my first MLB game until I was an adult, but I remember a lot of watching the game on TV. In my area, when growing up, we got several stations for different teams — most notably WPIX (Yankees), TV 38 (Red Sox) TBS (Braves) and WOR (Mets). The funny part is I disliked them all. Though I still remember the old Yankees jingle on WPIX and I remember lounging on Sundays in the summer watching baseball.

Add to that was playing sandlot baseball. I’d ride my bike with a glove dangled over the handlebars. I usually carried this old, dented up orange bat, too. A pickup game could happen anywhere. It was quite awesome.

So, needless to say, my love of the game goes deep. I’m a believer that football season doesn’t start until baseball ends. Sure, I’ll check scores and maybe see part of a game, but I like watching baseball way more.

And, of course, there’s baseball on the radio — which is always amazingly awesome.

Back to the geekdom, though.

I’m not sure if you ever notice, but at some baseball games people keep scorebooks. I’m one of them. It is a way to stay in tune with the game as it unfolds and, if you keep the book or scorecard, you have a record of where you’ve been or who you’ve seen play. I wish I had kept scorecards from over the years as I’ve seen some amazingly awesome players. But in recent years, I truly like the minor league game, and I try and see as many as I can during a summer. At the end of last year, I backed the Eephus League Halfliner on Kickstarter and that has since become my scorebook I carry to each game. It holds 81 games, so I don’t see me filling it too soon.

Originally, I wanted a smaller scorebook, which is how I found the Eephus League (I received on of the smaller ones, too, but have yet to use it) because it’s how old sportswriters used to do it. I’d love to still find one of the old-school scorebooks the old journalists used. They are pretty cool items. The Halfliner, however, really is perfect for somebody who wants to keep score, have a little extra space and have something easy to carry from game to game. For me, it’s perfect. The original Eephus League scorebook is solid, too, but its smaller and only holds 20 games. It will be nice to use in a pinch and could be perfect for somebody who likes a minimal approach to scorekeeping (which I often do, but I really do like having some extra spaces etc.)

I don’t just travel with the scorecard, however. I also carry a map of every baseball team in the country and the Baseball America Prospect Guide. This is, of course, a way to keep track of the players I see during the course of a season.

A few weeks ago, I went to a game in Binghamton. Not far from me was an older couple and the gentleman was keeping score. However, he had a folded up piece of paper and was writing in pen. He had created a mini scorecard and had his own ways of scoring — which many of us who score d0. I had to talk to him so I chatted for a few minutes and he told me he did it to keep in tune with the game and see what unfolded.

Unfortunately, scoring a game in the stands is a dying art form. There’s always other things going on, whether promotions, kids games, or whatever else. That makes it hard to teach the next generation of baseball fans what it’s like to keep score at a game. I have even seen some kids scorecards out there, so maybe there’s some hope. I have a new nephew and maybe one day I’ll be able to show him why keeping a scorecard is such a good thing.

This summer is one of baseball. My goal is to hit a minimum of 10 stadiums (three so far) and I’ll be keeping score at each one, as well as blogging about each stadium. I’ve hit three stadiums already with a couple more planned for this weekend, weather pending.

Play ball!

Feel free to leave a comment, or e-mail P.J. at hoohaablog [at] gmail.com. Also, please “Like” HooHaa Blog on Facebook!

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As the summer approaches, it’s time to get back to normal

May 07

I don’t know what it is, but it’s been hard to blog lately. When I get home from work, I usually don’t want to sit and do it. My ideas are wavering, too.

The block!

Alas, as the weather turns and I get outside more, I’m hoping to have more ideas. Such as geocaching.

Remember that wonderful hobby?

A weekend trip to Pittsburgh in January was the last time I had geocached. A week or so ago, I had the chance to find a couple to snap that long skid. This past weekend, I went out and actually had an afternoon of caching. That included several park-and-grabs, as well as one cache I opted to archive. It was a multi and one of my favorite caches, alas, it was getting too hard to maintain so I opted to let it go. The container is great, however, so I plan on using it again.

With me, hobbies sometimes come and go based on the frequency and availability of doing them. For example, I got into letterboxing (similar to geocaching, but with clues and rubber stamps) and that kind of faded. As many of you know, I also really love playing disc golf. However, without a decent course close by (the nearest is about 1:15 away), it becomes tough. But, as the weather changes, I am looking forward to mixing a disc golf trip with some other hobbies, be it geocaching, photography or seeing a baseball game.

The recent health scare of the foot and all mixed in with it (post about all that…) has made me realize I need to start taking advantage of things a bit more. I tend to look at one thing, go with it and let it plays its course. But, I need to start mixing some of these fun things so the interest remains there in all of them.

As summer approaches, I am setting a few “wish list” goals for myself. I don’t know if they will all come true, but I’m hoping. Here’s a quick list of what I want to do.

1. Baseball

My goal is 10 ballparks this summer. I want to see different levels of the minors and maybe a Major League game or two. I’ve been limited, because of funds, from seeing many games since 2011. But with a job and the ability to go to a game or two on the weekend, I plan on taking advantage of it and doing a few baseball-related weekends. And, in a perfect world those trips my include some geocaching, disc golf and maybe a brewery tour or two.

2. Geocaching

I want to hit up a few events this summer, including possible two Mega (500 or more people). I’d also like to place several caches (I have some ideas!) and find a bunch in different areas. I don’t have any specific goals, per say, so it’s kind of just going with the flow. I am also more excited this year about our local “big” event as I have some ideas I’d kind of like to try.

3. Photography

I have long been away from using my main camera. No idea why, but I have. I need to get out and use it more. Maybe I’ll rent a lens or two to test things out and do some different things. But I need to get back into it. And I have about a year’s worth of photos I never processed and uploaded to Flickr. I should probably do that soon.

4. Montreal

By far my favorite city, I wanted to go there this past fall to celebrate a milestone birthday. That didn’t work out for financial reasons. There was a streak of about 11 years where I went every summer. I haven’t been since 2009 and I’m really looking forward to seeing this city again. I’m really hoping to do it when the Montreal Alouettes (CFL football) are in town as it’s a fun game to watch.

5. Brewing

Finally, this is something I have gotten away from and I really need to get back into it. I’m extremely excited about some kits I have that I need to brew and the ideas for some of them as well. I have several I need to do and once I do those (all one- and two-gallon batches), I’m seriously going to consider upping to a five-gallon deal. But I’m not sure yet. We’ll see how it unfolds. Either way, I just need to get brewing again

So how about all of you? Any plans for the summer months? I’ll have softball again as well and am looking forward to enjoying things this year. As much as I liked the summer gig I had last year, I rarely had weekends off and, when I was off, others were working. So I truly do look forward to getting back to “normal” this summer.

Feel free to leave a comment, or e-mail P.J. at hoohaablog [at] gmail.com. Also, please “Like” HooHaa Blog on Facebook!

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