Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Reader questions: The Notebook

I said I'd answer this Sunday.  It's now Wednesday.  Sorry!

Over at The Bench in my hounding thread, a question was asked of me by another Texas grapher...

And so, I give you a little info on my 'Graphing Notebooks.

What I have is actually not a spiral notebook, but rather spiral-bound cardstock.  I have three of them-- one to hold three cards per page for the Rangers, one to hold three per page for the visiting team, and one to hold four per page for Rangers alumni.  Each book is composed of 50 pieces of plain white index card weight paper, spiral bound at the top with a plastic cover on the front and back.

All prepped for the weekend's Reds outing!
It took me a while to get to this system.  When I first started, I was a card stacker, then a binder carrier.  Both caused major problems in the winter in Boston when I was going for hockey: my choices were autographs or frostbite.  After studying others and some trial and error, I advanced to spiral-bound 4"x6" index cards with plastic photo corners.

The 4"x6" size is perfect for holding two cards per page.  A minor problem though is that often the cards are perforated at the top.  The perforations wear out over time and eventually the index cards come out.  Sure, you can tape over the perforations for some reinforcement, but you'll go through a roll of tape on a single book.  Also, the size is great for players who only sign one or two cards per person.  But what about those who sign more?  Do you just sit happy with your two while others are getting 3, 4, or 9 done?  I sure didn't.

Enter the 8-board and the 9-board.  Late in that first season in Boston, I took some old folders and attached photo corners so that each folder could hold two rows of four cards-- AKA the 8-board.  That way, I could hold up to 8 cards per player.  Now really, there aren't a while lot of guys who will sign that many, and I usually felt like an ass if I presented a player with that many cards unless I knew for sure he was up for it (Brad McCrimmon was great about it when he was a coach in Atlanta; always commented on his favorite cards too).  But whoa, hold on, prepare for your brain to explode: how about four cards each for two players?  Just put the top row as Player A, and the bottom row as Player B.  It cuts down on space, while holding more cards.  You can make them from any sort of heavy paper, cardboard, foamcore board, anything.  Just cut it to the right size and proceed onward with your photo corners.  With 9-boards, you can easily do three rows of three cards on a board of nearly the same size.  When measuring, just remember cards are 2.5" by 3.5" and to build in at least a quarter-inch on each side, and maybe round up to the next half-inch.  So for an 8-board, at least 8" by 11".  For a 9-board, at least 8.5"x12".  Going slightly larger is not a bad idea.

But after a while, the boards got to be too much.  It's rare a player signs four cards-- some do, but not often.  And shuffling around boards quickly as players came by could be a hassle.  The boards quickly would get out of order and make it harder to find players.  So, I went to the Composition Notebook.

Been using this one since last year, I believe.
It's now relegated to backup duty.
Comp Books are pretty cheap.  Smaller than regular notebooks, string-bound, and just right to hold four cards per page in a two-by-two pattern.  If you really want to squeeze, you can do three-by-two, or a row of three with a sideways row of two.  These are good if you don't need to carry much.  But packing a notebook full can get a bit burdensome, and stresses the binding.  It'll need replacement every few years through heavy use.  Fortunately, mine have survived due to fairly light use until this season.

Overkill? Overkill. Used since 2009, it's now my third-string.
And so, I went back to the spiral-bound index cards this season.  But taking a tip from my friends Randy and Seth, I went to the local OfficeMax (or was it Office Depot? I doubt it matters, I'm sure both can do it) and got mine custom cut and custom bound.  My three-card notebooks are made of 4.5"x9" card stock, while the four-card is 4.5"x11".  It costs more (about $10 per notebook), but it's worth it.  Also, make sure they use a larger spiral on it.  I didn't on mine, and it's a tough fit on the alumni book.  I might go and get mine refitted.  I have a clear plastic cover on the front, and a navy blue one on the back.  Extra protection is never a bad idea.

Could certainly use a new spiral.
And this is just my current Rangers one; the Alumni is far worse.
Another great thing about these notebooks is they can be thrown.  Once in a while, a player will sign over top of the dugout, making you throw him your item.  Yeah, good luck throwing a card.  But a notebook like this can be turned to the correct page, held there with a pen attached with rubber bands or elastic hair ties (no friction that way if you slide it across the top of the dugout), and tossed or slid to the player.  You can keep the bands around your wrist and quickly slip them on when waiting for the player to sign for others.

The bands hold the spot, keep pages from flipping,
and hold the pen when throwing the book
Also, be careful with the photo corners when putting cards in.  The first time you affix them, slip them on opposite (diagonal) corners of the cards, and press them down on the card stock.  Space them so that you can fit however many cards per page that you choose to have.  Lather, rinse, repeat.

The ungodly huge Alumni book
But on subsequent changes of cards, be cautious or the cards can get dinged corners very easily.  I recommend using a piece of paper (or an index card, or a cut-off top loader piece) to use as a shim to lift the corner, slide the card in under it, then remove the shim.  You'll also have the curve the card a little to get it in.  Be careful not to bend it too far and crease it.  Eventually if this is a problem, I can try to make a video of it.

When it comes to plastic vs. paper photo corners, I use plastic.  They're cheaper and more durable.  Paper once have less risk of dinging corners, but if you're careful, it shouldn't be a problem.

A close-up on how to place the corners
 Another tip: if you have multiple players on one page, either space them out, or turn one upside down.  I've had players sign the wrong card before.  This helps prevent that.

Space them out...
... or flip them around to create a visual barrier.
Anyways, I hope that answers the questions on my Graphing Notebooks.  If you look around at the serious graphers, you'll see almost everyone has their own notebook style.

1 comment:

  1. The card book was started here in Dallas.. back in the day (before TAC blowing spots) we were hanging at Reunion talking about it and we did some trial and error and found this system and the first player who said anything was Chris Pronger, he said that's fucking awesome. He said he never seen anything like that before