"Best Presented" is not something I would have expected. Thanks, Gary.
I want to start by saying thanks to gherrmann44. I woke up this morning and checked my Android phone because it was saying I had email. I saw that one of the messages was from a friend at the collector's society that I unfortunately haven't talked to in quite some time. He sent the note to congratulate me, but he actually ended up telling me about the award, that one of my sets had won one of the 2011 Best Presented Awards. This might have been his intent. Gary is a sharp guy and he probably figured that I hadn't been on to check. So, my thanks to him for giving me the "heads up" to say this in a semi-timely fashion. You're a good friend, Gary.
This is my first journal in 17 months. I don't think I've bought but maybe 1 coin in that time and I haven't even really touched the registry in over a year. I've been in grad school and it hasn't been the easiest thing in the world as you might imagine. I stopped coming in here because I just don't have the time anymore. I've never really believed in being an "also ran" or someone who's "just there." I've always thought that something should be done well or not at all. That applies to coin collecting and I just haven't had that time. I couldn't read the journals anymore and participate in the forums and shop for coins. Oh the coin shopping... oh the hours that used to consume. There are too many other things I'm trying to accomplish in my life right now. There are too many other things I'm trying to learn. I've also been trying to cure what was becoming a crippling isolation. I've been trying to get out a bit more and be with people a bit more and with my computer less. I'm still a young man and I'm realizing that I need to get out and live a bit, rather than writing about sitting in front of a computer watching auction timers run down obsessively. I still have my collection though, it remains a source of some pride, and I don't plan on parting with it any time soon, but it sits and waits in a locked safe.
Since my last journal, I received my assignment to the Mary Kay O'Connor Process Safety Center. I work there on process safety related projects we get funding for. I'm almost done with formal coursework for my Ph.D. and am hoping to get my experiments off the ground and running very soon. If I succeed, in 2 or 3 years I'll get to be called "Dr." I'll be working with dangerous stuff though so I have to be careful. I want to have all 10 fingers to hold that degree with at the end.
It's been a rough year in a few other ways. Mom has been dealing with some health issues for over a year now. Stress at work has also continued to build and it has become too much for her. She'll most likely be taking her retirement, at a rather young age, in May after over 20 years of teaching because she just can't do it anymore. My step-father lost his job over a year ago now. They're both battling depression and are being medicated for it.
So... I'm sorry I've been such a stranger this last year. I've thought about my coin collection, and this place, and some of you that were here when I first came and were such good friends on the journey. You know you've been gone too long when you think... "uhh... what's my user name and password again?" I'm very glad to see some people are still here, especially Jackson and Gary, and a few others like Bully, lehigh96, NAS, and DM Merrill. It's also somewhat refreshing that Paul is... still Paul. I realized after finals were over that I'd missed the deadline for the registry awards. I had been hoping to go back and update and tweak and improve. My camera skills alone have improved vastly and I've upgraded my camera so it'd be nice to take another shot at coin photography... but it just didn't happen. I was disappointed with myself at the time. Maintaining and improving my sets used to be important to me and it just completely slipped my mind for months.
Anyway... to the original point of this post...
I would like to offer my sincere thanks and gratitude to NGC for giving my family's 1932 Mint Set one of the 2011 "Best Presented" awards. I don't deserve it, I'm quite sure of that, but I'm not altogether sure it's something that you even can "deserve," not that category. Even so, I do feel a bit of guilt over it as I have not modified that set all year and it was recognized when other sets that improved vastly this year were not. I feel like I won after I quit the competition, or "suspended my campaign" as the politicians like to put it. Even so, Thanks. I know Choya has been really down lately and they've been adjusting meds, which makes it harder, but I think this will make him happy. Mom was surprised.
I would like to congratulate all of the others that won something, whether it be one of the "big" awards or one of the 1st in category awards. Some of those categories are horribly competitive for the #1 spot and if you won then you worked for it. I would especially congratulate the Journal Award winners. While the other awards are definitely huge, the journal awards are given for sharing a part of yourself and a part of your journey with the rest of us and doing it well. It takes passion and it takes heart. You should be proud of it. 3 years later, my journal award from 2008 still has a prominent place on display in my apartment now that I'm living on my own. It attracts looks and questions every time someone comes to my home. I hope it will be the same for the new winners.
Before posting this I took the time to look at the journals and forum posts from the last couple of days about the awards. I'm not thrilled with some of what I saw. Was it this bad last year? I wasn't around to check (studying hard for proficiency exams that January). I'm sorry that you have to see this as someone else "winning" while you "lost" or as someone "beating you." Wouldn't it be better to see it just as someone else being recognized for doing well? Not as competition, but just someone receiving praise for a job well done? Guys, these awards are supposed to be about doing something positive; about sharing; about giving back. It's supposed to be about love, and passion, and positive feelings. When everything you do is directed at winning for winning's sake it taints the effort. There's a glow and a warmth to something that is made and done with love that does not exist in something done purely to "win." That warmth of feeling is what most of these awards are trying to recognize, not necessarily just quality or quantity of effort. At least, that's my take. I find that the ones that raise to the top, here and elsewhere, tend to be the ones that are doing what they love because they love it. The award/recognition is just icing on the cake. (And I'm not trying to be a hypocrite here, though some who have been around a while might remember a moment 3 years ago when I was less than graceful in expressing myself.) Note: I'm not trying to re-ignite this discussion and if anyone feels the need to respond to this, realize that it probably won't even be worth my time to read it. I'm too busy and too tired.
I'm sorry, this was way too long,