Baseball cards and life go full circle

Over the past few years, my interest in baseball has waned. I don’t know why exactly, but maybe it’s the business emphasis of the sport now. It’s more about how much money this player is worth, versus how many games out of first place is my team.

There aren’t near as many kids playing baseball, compared to soccer, which is a low-cost-of-entry pass time, plus any kid can play the game and learn the basic rules. Baseball is an ambidextrous sport with lots of subtleties to the rules of the game.

My life transitions have pretty much mirrored my baseball card collecting. In baseball card milestones, I’m entering into the sixth phase of my life.


This is the 1961 Topps card with Bill Mazeroski rounding the bases after winning the 1960 World Series with a home run.

Phase 1, the 1960s, Growing up and JFK – I really didn’t get into baseball until the early 1960s. My family got a TV around that time and the first World Series I watched was in 1960 when the Pirates beat the Yankees. My maternal grandfather was a Yankees fan and my dad was a Yankees fan, which would make me a third generation Yankees fan.

Watching Bill Mazeroski hit that home run to win the series in 1960 is still etched in my mind and to this day, I’m not much of a Pirates fan. I have a 1960 Roberto Clemente that was abandoned to me by Pat Higgins since his dislike for the Pirates was even greater than mine!

Also in that trade, I got a 1957 Frank Robinson rookie and a JC Penney golf putter. I can’t remember what I traded.

As for baseball cards, I don’t think I bought a pack until 1962 when my ranging pattern expanded. My grandparents lived a few blocks from a Safeway and the Missile drugstore in Cheyenne. I remember buying packs of Topps cards. In 1961, as my 8th birthday favors. Around that time was when I signed up for Little League and ended up playing for the Red Sox, of all things. In November 1963, my mom’s church circle group held their annual rummage sale in the Presbyterian Church basement.

wally moon

In 1963, I bought a Rawlings Wally Moon baseball glove at my mom’s church rummage sale. This is a 1963 Topps card.

My dad was a pretty good ballplayer. He bought me my first glove, which was from the Ben Franklin store. I used it for a summer but it didn’t have a very good pocket and a ball bounced out, hit me in the eye and KO’d me.

After that, I¬† found a Wally Moon mitt at the rummage sale, and bought it for a quarter, which was my weekly allowance. It was the weekend after President Kennedy was murdered. Besides the glove, I remember many of the women talking about JFK, when one of the women – who was a staunch conservative – came out of the kitchen area and said “It serves him right.”

Being a kid, I was awestruck by the comment, mostly because I didn’t quite know what to think of it. I think the others were caught by surprise, too. By this time, the Beatles were big and Topps put out several years worth of Beatles cards which were sold at the Save More Drug Store. I bought a bunch of those but don’t know where the bulk of them went. I still covet my 45rpm copy of “She Loves You” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”

We were baseball-starved in the Rocky Mountain west. The Denver Bears were the AAA affiliate for the Yankees off and on back then. My dad and some guys at his work had tickets to see an exhibition game between the Bears and the Yankees in 1964. They invited me along. Yogi was the manager and Ralph Houk the general manager by then. Seeing Maris and Mantle playing in the outfield is a life highlight.

nixon elvis

I lost interest in sports card collecting in the 1970s when I was in high school and college. I ended up voting for Richard Nixon in 1972.

Phase 2, the 1970s, High school, college – When I learned how to drive and was in high school and college, I out grew baseball card collecting and stashed the cards in old Quaker Oats boxes where they remained in the crawl space in my parent’s home in Laramie. Back then, there weren’t plastic storage boxes like there are now.

Luckily, my mother didn’t touch my cards and I eventually retrieved them. The reason cards are worth so much money today is because of moms who tossed out their kids’ collections while they were away.

I became more interested in politics back then and was involved in student government. I’m sorry to say, my first presidential vote in 1972 was for Richard Nixon. I was a Republican for a long time, until I was drummed out of the party for supporting a Democrat, John Vinich for U.S. Senate, in 1988. Wyoming is one of those states where you can change party affiliation at the polls and switch back the same day. Turns out, I probably was a Democrat all along.

munson rookie

Buzz Thurber was one of the first big time card collectors I knew. He had a complete set of the 1971 Topps cards which were tough to find in good condition.

Phase 3 – 1980s, started working – I got my first job and coincidentally, there was a resurgence in sports card collecting. I don’t know what started it all then, but some tipping point caused mostly guys to dig out their collections – myself included.

There were sports card stores opening and sports card trade shows happening around the country – mostly in the larger towns.

I was in Lander by this time and one of my friends, Buzz Thurber, was a bigger collector than I was. I was impressed that he had a set of the 1971 Topps cards. They have a black border and tough to find with edges not chipped up.

Buzz and I organized a small card show in the meeting room at the Crossroads Restaurant – which it was known back then. I always tell kids to study and get a good job so they can spend money on stuff like baseball cards and not have to ask for permission. I remember one guy who showed off his collection had a binder of HOFers – lots of different, old cards I hadn’t seen before, of course, this is before old cards were found in grandmas’ attics and now priced out of sight.

Back then, I acquired Babe Ruths, Ty Cobb, for around $50.

In 1995 I took my dad to see the replacement Yankees play the replacement Rockies in the first game at Coors Field.

In 1995 I took my dad to see the replacement Yankees play the replacement Rockies in the first game at Coors Field.

Phase 4 – 1990s, Moved to Colorado – I ended up staying in Boulder when the Rockies came to Denver in 1993. I went to Colorado, for what was originally a temporary stay when I worked for the Northern Arapaho Tribe setting up a “cultural conduit” between the tribe and its former homelands along the front range. The idea was to develop markets for Arapaho artists works.

I remember the first time I drove up to Laramie to visit my parents. My dad asked, “What are those green license plates doing on your car?” I had season tickets to the Rockies from the opening of Coors Field in 1995 until the All Star Game in 1998.

I forgot to mention that I joined a rotisserie baseball league in Lander. I didn’t quite get how to keep the stats since it was before computers and all the data was compiled by hand. My team was called the Yangs. As opposed to yin – yang, there is a Star Trek episode about an alternate world where the Civil War was fought not by the Yanks and Confederates, but the Yangs and the Congs.

In Boulder, I joined a league colloquially known as the Baseball Buttheads with Paul Pearson, Scott Deitler, Glenn Locke, et al. When I joined, it with my Yangs team, the data were figured quasi-manually, but with the explosion of fantasy sports, migrated to an online version. I kept baseball cards of all my players. I was the only team owner with enough guts to draft Colorado Rockies pitchers.

pine riders

My sports card store in Riverton was called Pine Riders.

Prior to my move to Colorado, my friend, John, and I – we both worked at the Wyoming State Journal started up a sports card store called Pine Riders in Riverton. He was a big sports card collector, too. That was a lot of fun buying and selling cards.

At our grand opening, we had former Yankees pitcher Bud Daley who still lives in Fremont County. I ran into Bud at the Wind River Casino working the slots a few months ago.  We also had former Cleveland Indian utility player Woody Held who lived in Dubois. He passed away in 2009.

bud daley

Bud Daley  makes his home in Riverton, Wyoming. He pitched the winning game in the 1962 World Series. He was a special guest when Pine Riders opened in Riverton.

It was around this time that the bottom started falling out of the market. The hobby became very weird. Topps had a corner on the hobby which was now being transformed into business. Two other companies, Donruss and Fleer came out with sets. All of a sudden, the market was flooded with cards.

To top it all off, a Walmart opened up in Riverton and if I didn’t know better, Walmart targeted Pine Riders and the office supply store across the street with predatory pricing.

Kids were bringing in cards they bought there for less than our wholesale price. Pine Riders slowly lost that part of the business which was a blessing in disguise since there were Donruss, Score, Topps, Fleer, Bowman, Leaf, Fleer Ultra, Upper Deck, Topps Stadium Club and a bunch of others. The store continued to do okay in the secondary market. I left the business when I moved to Colorado.

The old cards maintained their values, but for new collectors, artificial scarcity was created with unique “chase” cards that were traded and sold like stock. Those cards weren’t for collecting, but rather for making money. I think sports cards mirrored the dot com model. Whoever ended up with a suitcase full of chase cards ended up holding card board.

maris topps

Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth’s single season home run record in 1961. All the boys in the neighborhood wanted to be Roger.

As for myself, I traded away my bulk cards which were sets spanning 1958 to 1990. I started collecting certain Yankees teams: 1996 the Seinfeld Yankees era with Jeter, Williams, O’Neill; 1977 – 78 with Reggie Jackson; 1961 – 62 with Mantle and Maris; 1953 my birth year, 1932 with Ruth at the end of his career; 1923 first year in Yankee Stadium and first World Series title, 1919 the year of the White Sox scandal NFL and Chicago Bears founder George Halas was on the team. Then lost interest.

ground zero

This is Ground Zero in October 2001. Every time I go to New York I go to the same corner and take a picture.

Phase 5 – the 2000s, Terrorism and baseball – September 11, 2001 was a strange day. I was working in Denver at the time. I didn’t have the radio or TV playing that morning. I rode the 204 bus to the RTD station in Downtown Boulder.

No chatter on the bus. There was not one mention of the World Trade Center terrorist attack until we pulled into the Table Mesa Park n Ride. When I got into Denver and on the 15 bus, the town was eerily quiet – no planes were in the sky.

Flash forward.

I’m a very experiential person and felt like I needed to get to New York City. Turned out the Yankees won the American League Pennant, but the World Series was delayed until late October because of the terrorist attacks. I flew from Denver to Boston and made my way to New York on Amtrak for games three and four. I bought game tickets on ebay.

    These are the two fans i befriended for game 3 of the 2001 World Series in Yankee Stadium. Jeter hits a walk off homer in the 10th.

These are the two fans i befriended for game 3 of the 2001 World Series in Yankee Stadium. Jeter hits a walk off homer in the 10th.

This trip, I stayed at the Hotel Pennsylvania which is across from Penn Station. It used to be well kept secret in New York City, but has since been “rediscovered” – at least they raised their rates.

The Yankees dropped the first two to the Arizona Diamondbacks in Phoenix. The security was tight getting into Yankee Stadium. The game was dramatic. President Bush threw out the first pitch.

A flag from the World Trade Center flew over the stadium. Lee Greenwood sang “I’m Proud to be an American”. Clemens pitched well, I think a three hitter and the Yankees win 2 – 1 on a hit by Scott Brosius.

Game four was quite the nail biter that went into the 10th inning. Paul O’Neil gets on base and Tino Martinez smacks one into the stands to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth off BH Kim.

jeter rookie

Derek Jeter retires this year. He was one of many Yankees who appeared on Seinfeld.

Kim stays in the game in the 10th and ends up facing Jeter who hits a walk off homer to take a three games to two lead. I sat with a couple New York guys.

Everyone was a Yankees fan that night.

Jeter was dubbed “Mr. November” for his heroics. He’ll likely be the only player to be known as that since I’d be surprised if any more World Series games are played in November.

babe ruth w517

I’ve been filling in my 1919, 1923 Yankees collection. eBay has taken the challenge out of collecting. All a hobbyist needs is money and can buy just about anything.

Phase 6 – 2013, Downsizing – I had some pretty serious health issues in 2013 and came to the realization that it’s time to start sort through my stuff. I’ve been threatening to do this for many years.

I was in the hospital and rehab place for six weeks; physical therapy for four weeks and have been on my own for six weeks.

The acid test will be when I take on the Bolder Boulder 10K foot race on Memorial Day. I joined a facebook baseball card group which compelled me to get out the boxes again. Now that I’m old, it’s time to let other people enjoy what i have and am selling and trading to lighten my load.

I’m moving many cards, autographs, comic books and other ephemera on ebay. I’m converting the stuff that I no longer want into the few odd ball items I need to fill out some of my Yankees collections.

It’s very liberating but very time consuming. I’m still challenged by collecting and enjoy thumbing through my collection – I feel like a kid again!

Since the bulk of my collection was acquired before baseball cards became investments, I don’t worry about resale value as much as I do about enjoyment from the hobby. Over the past few years, I’ve been able to scrounge a 1928 Yankees signed baseball with Babe on the sweet spot, a cut signature of Lou Gehrig, and obscure stuff for my 1960 to 1964 Yankees collection.

I see there are guys who say they are collecting to pay for their kid’s college educations. Fat chance that will happen. My heirs won’t know what it is about a 1990 Fleer Ultra Frank Thomas, let alone where to sell it. I’ll be getting rid of all my stuff within the next five years, the next 20 years at the latest!

Facebook Community Boost videos: At least, make them look good

Facebook brought an event called the Community Boost to Denver

Facebook is putting on a full court press to get the gig economy to become an integral part of the macro-economy. How do we turn our hobbies and cottage businesses into real money using facebook groups, ads, photos and video?

I attended the free grassroots road show, Community Boost, that recently rolled into Denver. It was a classy event at the Cable Center near the University of Denver.

The Cable Center is a non-profit organization that educates the public about, I suppose, the great things that cable TV has done for the good of society.

My background is public access TV, which was a provision of the original Cable Communications Act of 1984 that set up community access channels as a ploy to avoid regulation as a public utility and dodge FCC oversight.

I had to check out the CATV museum with the history of cable and honors all the pioneers who made billions of dollars.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I digress.

The event’s goal was to provide basic information and some hands-on experience about how to use facebook to increase website traffic, get more buyers / customers and ultimately how to buy more facebook ads through micro-market targeting and subsequently make more money for your fledgling business and for facebook.

facebook booster creative

The facebook Community Boost exhibit area include the Mobile Studio that provides in-phone apps to edit pix and video.

I’m a filmmaker and facebook is trying to turn everyone into rough-around-the-edges filmmakers, which devalues the work that I and all of my colleagues do.

Nonetheless, if you’re going to make video, you might as well post stuff that at least looks halfway decent.

Here are a few tips to improve your videos:

  • Have a story in mind. Even on the spot, you can mentally compose a beginning, middle and end to your movie, even if it’s only 15 seconds long. If you use an in-phone app like Splice or iMovie, you can shoot clips, trim and reassemble them. If you don’t edit, lots of creativity can come about from the continuous shot – going from scene to scene while keeping the phone camera steady. The climax to your story is some sort of call to action – “Click here”, “Call us”, “Donate now.”
  • Hold your camera steady. Move smoothly hand-held. My preference is to shoot with the phone camera horizontally. TV screens and monitors are not vertical and horizontal video displays and looks better. If you’re webcasting facebook live, turn the camera horizontally until the image flips then start the recording.
  • Movies are 80% sound. Viewers can take video that’s a little shaky or out of focus but if the sound is bad, your potential customers will skip to the next video. The microphone is at the bottom of the phone. Get as close as you can to your action or subjects. Normal voices from across the room won’t be picked up. If you decide you want your voice in the recording, try to let your subject complete their statement and avoid “walking over” their audio with your excited utterances or laughing.
  • Fill out the meta-data fields. Facebook has figured out the meta-data thing and prompts you through the video upload with titles and key word fields. Fill them out and write the post narrative. Pick out a few key hashtags that are common-sensical. I see posts with six or more hashtags – many of which are nonsense which detract from the content.

If you’re interested in turning your volunteers or staff into better social media movie makers, I offer workshops about how to tell your organization or business story in a 140 character elevator speech. I also teach practical ways to light a scene, get good sound using inexpensive, everyday items.

facebook creative sources

The Community Boost mobile studio pushed 10 apps to edit images and movies.

What I learned from the Community Boost is that real filmmakers need to differentiate themselves from short-form shooters who know may how to point the camera and record, but make bad video look better with the bells and whistles graphic overlay apps.

At the same time, filmmakers can better promote their work using the short and rough cut formats.

Since attending the Community Boost, I’ve pushed out short videos a couple times for Boulder Community Media production projects that generated some pretty good organic engagement – a couple thousand views of one and nearing 1,000 views of another.

How that translates into more business is anyone’s guess but the phone keeps ringing and my friends keep making referrals.

The Community Boost was set up for lots of face-to-face networking, but during the breaks most everyone was sitting in the corners staring at their phones, computers and other screens.

The lunch was good, but nearly missed out since I ran into a filmmaker in the hallway after the facebook ads workshop.

Community Boost “Aha” Moment – Campaign 2016

facebook parscale stahl

The Trump presidential campaign successfully employed the same techniques as taught at the Community Boost. The Hillary campaign didn’t and the rest is history.

I had a big “Aha” moment during the facebook ads workshop.

It was about how to target the ads to particular markets and how different messages and their words, images, colors and other variables can be tweaked to maximize viewership and interaction.

Earlier, I watched a 60 Minute TV news magazine segment by Leslie Stahl. She interviewed the Donald Trump campaign 2016 social media guy Brad Parscale. Apparently, facebook offered to embed staff members into campaign organizations who advised about how to maximize use of facebook ads.

Parscale explained how they decided to focus on 3,000 voters in Wisconsin which ended up turning the course of the election. The Trump campaign tried out the facebook offer. The Hillary campaign didn’t and the rest is history.

Those of us in the Community Boost ad workshop learned in 30 minutes what was taught during the 2016 presidential election.

Facebook ads, with practice, can be a very effective way to micro-target market and maximize advertising budgets.

I get chided by friends about why I spend so much time on my facebook account and pages that I manage. I’d say three quarters of my business leads come as a result of my presence on facebook. “If I didn’t make money from facebook, I wouldn’t waste my time there,” I tell them.

I still don’t understand the psychology behind facebook and why people respond, but then again, it really doesn’t matter.


It’s baseball season.

I mentioned before that the main reason I moved to Colorado back in 1993 was because of baseball. Living in Wyoming for the first 40 years of my life, I’d been to exactly two Major League Baseball games.

One was at Wrigley Field in Chicago¬† and the second was at Yankee Stadium – both in the late 1980s. Reggie was traded to the Angels by then and Ryne Sandberg was still the Cubs’ second baseman.

henry alan

My neighbor Henry is a big Giants fan. I’m a third generation Yankees fan.

The last time I’d been to a game was around my birthday during early May 2013 when the Yankees were in Denver. I went to all of the four – game stand.

Today’s game was very exciting. I’m not much of a Rockies fan but being with three hard core Giants fans was a lot of fun. Colorado has a rich baseball history, but not much of a baseball tradition among fans or would-be fans.

The game was tied at the end of the 9th and the first wave of Rockies faithful headed to the turnstiles. The game was still tied at the end of the 10th and the next wave of fans raced for the gates.

The stadium was pretty much empty.

Then the Giants loaded the bases in the top half of the 11th and light-hitting Hector Sanchez launches a grand slam home run into the center landscape to take a 12 – 8 lead going into the Rockies half of the 11th. Bearded Giants closer Sergio Romo had a little trouble in a non-save situation and gave up a couple runs and eventually retired the side preserving the 12 – 10 win and avoiding the sweep.

Baseball is a strange game because of all the statistics. For instance, did you know the Giants have a lineup with three Brandon’s – Brandon Hicks, Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford? Add in the Rockies Brandon Barnes and I believe this may be a Major League record for the number of Brandon’s in a game between two division rivals in April.

Did I mention that the Rockies don’t really have much baseball tradition?

I’ve been to a couple minor league Denver Bears games back in the early 1960s. By that time, the Bears were playing in the old Mile High Stadium and were the AAA affiliate for the New York Yankees. Growing up in the Rocky Mountain West, I was baseball starved, except for the Bears and playing Little League.

plains dairy trip

This was taken back in the early 1960s. I’m wearing the Yenkees cap hat given to me by my grandfather. I haven’t changed my wardrobe over the years.

My grandfather brought me a Yankees cap from one of his travels and my dad was a Yankees fan, so that would make me third generation.

My Little League team sold pancake breakfast tickets for a fund raiser and my Uncle George who along with my grandparents ran the Hiway Cafe on the South Greeley Highway.

He sold tickets on my behalf and one year and along with my teammates we all sold enough tickets to earn a trip to Denver to watch the Bears play which was a lot of fun.

I don’t remember any of the particulars of that game but was surprised when my dad came home with tickets to watch the Bears play the Yankees in an exhibition game later in the summer.

We went with a bunch of guys from my dad’s work, including Tony Rizzuto, who was related to former Yankees infielder Phil Rizzuto. We picked a guy I didn’t know who was an airman at Warren Air Force Base who was a big Yankees fan. I’m thinking the game was in 1963 or 64 because first baseman Moose Skowron was traded to the Dodgers by then and Joe Pepitone was the new first baseman

Our seats were in the right field bleachers. Roger Maris played a couple innings in right field and Mickey Mantle was in center. Bobby Richardson was at second, Tony Kubek at short and Clete Boyer was at third.

I think Yogi Berra was the manager and Ralph Houk was the general manager by then. Seems like Jake Gibbs got most of the catching duty that game, but Elston Howard and John Blanchard were still the main catchers.

Seeing that game is a highlight in my life experiences.


This is the 1961 Topps card with Bill Mazeroski rounding the bases after winning the 1960 World Series with a home run.

I started following baseball when we got a TV set in the early 1960s. I remember watching the World Series that year and the Yankees losing to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The image of Bill Mazeroski rounding the bases is still etched in my mind and to this day – remember? He hit the World Series – winning home run,

I’m still not much of a Pirates fan. Anyway, the following season was the friendly duel between Maris and Mantle in their quest to hit 61 home runs to surpass Babe Ruth’s record of 60.

triangle park

Many a baseball game was played at the Triangle Park in the Cole Addition of Cheyenne, Wyoming. The playground equipment is in the middle of what was our infield.

During that summer of 1961 my school mates played pickup baseball games at the Triangle Park in the Cole Addition of Cheyenne. Sometimes we played only with two or three on each side, but I do know that Husty Twitchell belted out 61 home runs well before Maris!

Part of my rekindled addiction to baseball – baseball cards.

I dug out a bunch of my baseball cards from storage. It had been maybe 15 years since I’d browsed through my collections. Back in the late early 1990s I traded all of my bulk collection for a start on the challenge of certain Yankees teams.

I started with the 1961 and 62 teams that won back to back World Series Championships, 1953 Yankees, which is my birth year. The toughest are the 1932 Yankees which still have Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig on the roster.

george halas

My final Yankees collection is the 1919 team. I was surprised to learn that George Halas – founder of the Chicago Bears and the NFL was on that team.

When I stopped paying attention to my hobby, I started collecting the 1919 Yankees – which was the year of the infamous White Sox cheating scandal.

The main reason I lost interest in the hobby was because of the glut or cards on the market and rise of the internet, which took all the challenge out of run-of-the mill collecting.I did fill out the few cards in the 1961 set I collected using ebay. When it gets down to the last few items of anything in a collection, you just want to be done with it, right?

Now that ebay has become better, I have found that ebay is really the only way I can fill out the 1919 collection since the cards and autographs are so scarce.

Back to baseball tradition.

I supported the Rockies from 1993 to 1998 and gave up my season tickets after the All Star game. That was quite the event for Denver and I’m glad I was able to experience it.

Compared to the Florida Marlins, a team that came into the league the same year as the Rockies, that franchise has enjoyed much more on-field success than the Rockies. The Marlins still have trouble filling the stadium seats, but have had better success on the field.

fb dad coors

I took my dad to the first game at Coors Field on March 31, 1995. It was the replacement Rockies playing the replacement Yankees.

The few times I’ve been to Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park in Boston, the air is electric. The fans are dedicated. Not only are all the seats filled, but the bars and restaurants around the parks are filled, too.

The Rockies are on track to have another mediocre season, but team management is poised to make a lot of money from the casual Rockies fans.

There’s no doubt that the New York and Boston markets have way more baseball tradition and only time can develop that.

I’m not sure how that will work out here in Colorado since the starting point of team ownership seems to be more about making as much money as possible and getting by with an inconsistent team on the field.

Although Rockies GM Dan O’Dowd is looking like a fantasy baseball genius by getting rid of Dexter Fowler and replacing him with Charlie Blackmon in center field.

Speaking of center field, it used to be that the upper center field deck was often times empty because no tickets were sold there because attendance was so low.

coors field empty seats

The Rockies previously didn’t sell seats in the right – center upper deck. This season, there’s a new “LoDo dining experience” call the Rooftop Bar up there now.

This year, additional seats were added and a premium bar – restaurant experience was added called The Roof Top.

My party didn’t make it up that far today, but it looked like everyone was having a good time.

I hope I’m wrong and the Rockies have a great season and make it to the World Series, so at least those patrons in the Roof Top bar will have something to cheer about.

Meanwhile, I’m looking for an autograph of 1932 Yankees coach Jimmy Burke, if anyone happens to have one laying around.

eGo Car Share service is handy, but for now, I’ll stick with the VW Eurovan

I don’t know if this car sharing service works in communities other than those with compact borders, but there’s always an eGo Car Share car parked on the corner in my neighborhood.

I’m still not fully confident in my driving – physically and automotive-wise. The Eurovan has had more than it’s share of problems, but I think it is finally getting to the point where I trust it.

The engine blew up in the middle of nowhere outside of Fort Washakie, Wyoming because the instrument panel had a short in it and wasn’t detecting engine temperature – although I could have checked under the hood more often (that was fixed under warranty). Many thanks to Gary Collins who towed the van from Lander.

The exhaust system is rotted out and that will be fixed tomorrow; it’s a manual transmission and I am gaining strength back in my clutch leg / foot and I put new rubber all the way around.

I’ve been exploring different transportation options, leasing from a dealer, selling the Eurovan and buying new; and the eGo Car Share. I haven’t had a new car since the 1970s and I don’t know what got into me that I would investigate one now!

Although I did become more fluent in the car leasing game. The current deals you see offered aren’t the best deals. I will check again at the end of the year for the 24 month lease with nothing down.

Even if I have to put a few hundred into a used vehicle, it’s still less expensive than maintaining a new one. Now that the Eurovan will soon be road worthy and a couple thousand bucks later, it may be worth using the loaner car from time to time.

The eGo Car Share is a local nonprofit company that owns a bunch of cars and trucks that get loaned out to Boulder and Denver users for an hourly rental charge. It must be a franchise of some sort.

At my first glance, the Car Share is best suited for a person who doesn’t own a car and just needs one to run a few errands, haul a load of dirt, etc.

People who don’t drive much already have a small carbon footprint, but for someone like me, it’s probably not the best option since I drive quite a bit in a single – occupancy vehicle.

But at least the Eurovan is bought and paid.

Since I’ve known about the service for some time, I decided to sign up to find out what it is all about.

It’s a simple enrollment process on the internet and once a guy has filled out the forms, taken a quiz about the service, a “fob” is mailed out which is used to lock and unlock the car. Once inside, the key is wired onto the steering column and away you go.

All you have to do is get approved, pay any monthly fees and then reserve a vehicle on line or call their office. If you’re looking for a particular kind of vehicle, say a van or pickup, then accessibility may not be as handy.

If a person doesn’t have a car or at least one that’s all paid off, this is a pretty good option. Included in the $4.50 to 6.95 hourly rate is a $250 deductible insurance plan and vehicle wear and tear. The rent maxes out at $39 to $49/day which is comparable to a car rental place.

You get 50 miles included then $.33 to $.38/mile after that. The person who uses the car when the gas tank gets to be about 1/4 full is responsible for filling up. There’s a credit card in the glove box to cover that cost.

Today, I drove a Honda Fit for a few errands to try out the program. For less than 10 bucks, I went to the office supply store, stopped off for a few groceries and dropped the car off in the Holiday Neighborhood.

How does this compare to renting at, say, Enterprise car rental where I do most of my business.

Depending on the season, an Enterprise intermediate or standard car rents for anywhere between $25 to $50 / day with unlimited mileage. You either buy their insurance or cover the rental under your own policy. Enterprise also has a $10/day weekend rate Friday through Monday during certain times of the year.

Renting a car is definitely cheaper than the Car Share for basically the same deal if a person wants to use it for quick errands around town.

Car Share is not good for driving to work and letting it sit for eight or ten hours, unless your work is near a check in point.

I’ll stay enrolled in the eGo Car Share deal. It’s a good complement to my RTD ECOPass bus pass, my Eurovan and Enterprise car rentals.

For more info,

My Experience with the Affordable Care Act

I’ve had health insurance since my first “real job” in Gillette, Wyoming back when Sen. Ted Kennedy was touting universal health care and had Richard Nixon not screwed up with Watergate, would have joined forces with Kennedy and we wouldn’t be having this Obamacare fight today.

Nonetheless, back in 2010, I received a letter from my insurance carrier – Kaiser Permanente – that since I had coverage before ACA went into effect, my policy was “grandfathered” and could keep it or change it with no repercussions from any “pre-existing conditions” that I had or may develop in the future.

I just heard several thousand Kaiser Permanente policy holders got their pink slips that their coverage doesn’t meet the minimum requirements of ACA? What kind of coverage is that? Like a barbecue grill warranty at Walmart? The ACA naysayers have been finding stories about us self employed people who have had their policies handled. What’s the big deal? For the past 10 years, my plan has been cancelled like clockwork on December 31st. If I want to reup, the policies are similar, but the price has always gone up. I’ve had to increase my deductible over the years to keep a reasonable price. ACA or not, my carrier will be cancelling my policy December 14, 2014 as usual and every year after. But at least they can’t kick me out for some medical reason.

When ACA was in its infancy, my premium price dropped, not a lot, but a few bucks. Meanwhile, there was no national health care exchange, but many private ones out there. Since I couldn’t be denied coverage, I did shop around on a private exchange and ended up finding a less expensive plan that had a little better coverage from my existing carrier – it’s a medium deductible co-pay plan – and the plan I’ve had for three years or so. Over the past couple years, my prescription prices dropped to grocery store levels ($5 or buy 2 get one free).

Private healthcare exchanges

On October 1, I signed up with the Colorado healthcare exchange. On day one, I had a few problems getting my account set up – I was bumped off the site a few times, timed out a few times, but eventually was able to get a good connection. After all that and to my surprise, there were no plans offered with coverage even close to what I purchased on the private market.¬† They all had very high deductibles and premiums that were nearly double what I was currently paying. Apparently, the income-based tax credits would lower the costs dramatically, but the coverage is still terrible, at best. The Connect for Colorado Health support has been great. I’ve been called a couple times to help me get finally through the process which has been goo.

I imagine it has something to do with the actuarial tables that show that low-income people tend to have bigger health problems than the general population, which is why all sorts of people are necessary in the risk pool. These “low-end” policies end up costing less with the tax credits applied. If you’ve been denied coverage all these years, this type of policy is probably considered “gold”. The premiums are likely based on the probability that mostly uninsured, ergo unhealthy, and low income folks will be the ones who apply. I also surmise that places like Wyoming that chose to opt out of the Medicaid expansion plopped all those “high risk” people into the general risk pool, which was a contributing factor to higher premiums.

The Mississippi experience

Rural areas lack competition

There are dental plans offered, but none from my current dentist, which is one of the publicly-traded dentists, Perfect Teeth. I may switch over to Delta Dental if after comparing my Perfect Teeth discount program, it turns out to be way better. Kaiser doesn’t offer dental coverage.

I looked around on the Kaiser Permanente site for plans and found one that had a lower deductible than I currently have and the cost was a third less and called about it and found out that I could switch over, but it would expire for me at the end of 2013 and if i kept it, the price would jump up to the Colorado Health Exchange price, which was over double what I currently spend.

The Kaiser Permanente member service representative on the phone said that they figure out ACA tax credit eligibility too. They have an entire staff designated to Medicaid and Medicare paperwork and I would imagine is very good at working through each state to figure out any ACA red tape.

The upshot?

In my case:

– ACA saves me a few bucks on premiums and lots of bucks on prescriptions

– ACA gives me peace of mind about the future because my insurance won’t get cancelled

– ACA covers a whole bunch of people who won’t be using the emergency room staff as their primary care physicians which, in the long, run will keep my premiums lower by putting their risk in their own pool and not mine.

ACA has caught on and will only improve as more people previously uninsured participate. I think that the national health care exchange is good if you don’t already have coverage and income eligible for tax credits. I heard the dead-beat states that let the federal government run their exchanges are missing the boat and the can-do states that tailored their own are having pretty good success.

State run exchanges more successful

Most people have coverage and If you do, I suggest sticking with learning information from your carrier and not mess around with the national exchange. If you’re in the market or curious as to what choices are out there, also check out the private health care exchanges. You’ll be asked for the same personal information as the Obamacare website asks. Like all other internet commerce, be careful!