Friday, August 22, 2008

What's in your hounding bag?

Besides the dozens of items that you're hoping to get signed, it's important, at least in my opinion, to carry a well-stocked hounding bag on every adventure.

A well-stocked bag is much more than the tools of the trade -- paint pens, Sharpies and a ballpoint pen. No, a top-shelf hounding bag shows that its owner anticipates potential problems and, with the proper planning, provides instant solutions.

Here's what you'd likely find in my hounding bag, which is starting to show its age as it enters its fifth NHL season:

Hounding supplies: DecoColor paint pens, Sharpies (blue, silver and black), a ballpoint pen, 3-inch by 5-inch note cards, photo corners, cardbook shims and an eraser.

Cardboard mailer: These are good to hold photos and keep them from getting bent. A piece of cardboard tucked inside only adds to the rigidity.

Digital camera: This is a recent addition to my hounding bag. Hopefully, I'll remember to take more pictures this year, most likely of Tampa's dealers mobbing third-line wingers and video guys.

Cardbooks: It's amazing what you can do with spiral-bound 4-inch by 6-inch index cards, photo corners, a blue Sharpie and some patience. Set up each page to hold two cards, meaning that you can offer four cards for signing.

I set up mine in alphabetical order, making it easier to find a player's pages by simply flipping through the book until you reach the desired spot.

The blue Sharpie comes in handy for marking a big "X" on spots not covered by cards. More than once, I've had players sign the blank spot next to the card, rather than the card itself. Putting a big, blue "X" is a subtle reminder for them to sign the card.

Creature comforts: Because hounding is seldom a quick-hit affair, often lasting for at least a couple hours, I include some items that make the time spent waiting more palatable: Granola bars or raisins, a source of hydration other than the nearest Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts and an ample supply of quarters to use for parking.

A rain poncho and large plastic bags, big enough for your hounding bag, will prove useful, too, especially down here in Florida. Water and autographs, we all know, don't mix.

If I'm planning on putting in a longer day, I'll often bring a magazine to read and a quick lunch that doesn't need refrigeration (read: peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches, bananas and pomegranate fruit bars or wild berry fruit strips).

First aid: Once a Boy scout, always a Boy Scout. This is all about being prepared for most any minor injury or upset. Here's my first-aid kit: pain relievers, stop-the-trots medication, allergy tablets, cold tablets, antacids, bandages, cough drops, sunscreen, moist towelettes and a washcloth.

Finally, always keep your cell phone charged. It will get you out of more trouble than anything else in your bag. And, in case something were to happen to me, I keep three ICE (In Case of Emergency) numbers on the phone's directory.


Anonymous said...

Looks like you will need a wagon as well!


Rob's TTM Graphs said...

Thanks or posting, it was very informative, sadly I can't fit that in just my binder, lol.