29 June, 2011

Gone With The Pins

A week ago in No Regrets I alluded to a hobby of pin collecting. This post, originally from last July, explains just what I was referring to.

Can you spell C-U-R-I-O-U-S ?

Sure you can.

Last week I was asked to say a few words about myself - including something curious or funny or interesting - to a large gathering of parents of new freshmen. Each of the two dozen or so faculty and staff who were there had to do it. Where do I begin?! So many to mention - so little time.

I went for hobbies - primarily because I have one that is a tad unusual and didn't want to scare them with something really bizarre. I have a goal of visiting every Hard Rock Café in the world. I belong to the HRC Pin Collectors' Club, and whenever I visit a Café or Hotel or other approved property, I have my membership card scanned. Doing so creates an official record of that stop which is kept by the corporation. On the corporate website you can find a list of the Top 100 in terms of how many discrete properties members have visited.

How many Cafés are there, you ask? That's hard to say because each year a few close and a few new ones open. There have been just over 200 around the world, but nearly 60 of those have closed. There are currently about 140 properties. My life list contains 82, and 15 of those have closed since I visited. It can be frustrating because typically little notice of a closing is given, and there have been eight that closed within a few months of when I had planned to visit. Those other properties, by the way, include Hard Rock Bars, Casinos (separate from Hotels), Stores, a Vault (museum), a Beach Club, and an amusement park. The last three, however, are closed, and Casino visits earn no credit.

In November of 2008, I was ranked #87 (tie) in the world with 75 visits - which really is dumb but at the same time sort of cool. The image above shows the award one receives for that milestone, and the image below shows the list at that time although I've shortened it for readability at this resolution. Count from the bottom. I have fallen out of the Top 100 today - although two quick visits would push me up enough to regain that status and be tied for #99.

Okay - so why do I do this? I don't know. I used to travel a lot, and HRC does make a great cheeseburger at a reasonable cost. I like the music, of course, and it just evolved. Will I make it to all of them? Nah. I would like to get to the 100 mark (at 82 currently), and then I could hang up my guitar picks without feeling the need for an encore. At the moment there are two new Cafés in the continental US that I could visit (having been to all of the others) and quite a few new ones in Europe. There are also quite a few in Mexico and the Caribbean that I have not seen.

Oh, if you wonder how many pins I have - well, I've sold dozens of dozens on eBay, but that still leaves over 500 in my collection. I'm sure someone out there thinks I'm a nut.

Rock on!

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