Patches!
One of my other passions is collecting patches, a passion passed on from Dad.  Most of the ones I collect are from police departments, although I do
have a lot from fire departments and other ones, like fish and game, rescue, ATF, FBI, DEA, tribal, you get the idea.  I have been collecting patches
since September 1994, so that's over half my lifetime.   I actually counted up all my patches (my mom wanted to know how many I had, I don't know
why) and as of June '09, my inventory count for just the patches came to 964.  That's a lot of patches and obviously I can't display them all here.  But I
do have a lot in frames and displays and I have scanned a few into my computer.    I also collect other things such as plastic badges, keychains, pins,
pens, and stickers.  When I go to the patch shows (kind of like swap meets) with my dad and uncle Wes, I have my own tables to display my
collection.  It has obviously grown since I first started in '94 and I have had to get two tables for the shows.  That started at the end of '07.   There are a
couple "major" annual shows in CA;  the biggest one is the "Porky D. Swine" show and it happens every January.  I don't know why they call it that, they
just do.   That one is in southern CA, in Claremont, so my dad and I have to make a two or three day trip out of it, although we stay overnight halfway
there with my uncle who continues with us to the show.   I won my first award there for my patch display, in Jan '06.  One of the other "big" shows is in
July and that happens in San Luis Obispo.  There are a few other shows that happen throughout the year, from Northern California to Southern, and
my dad and I go to most all of them, schedules permitting.    So, enough of the background info; the four biggest photos below are of my display
cases, the fourth one I finally finished filling with patches from the March '07 show in Milpitas (at which I got about 50 total new patches).    I also have
a lot of foreign police patches.  Over 140 of those total 730 are foreign, a good chunk of which are from Germany, but I also have a variety of other
countries' patches like Canada, Australia, England, Russia, and France (to name a few).   In Oct '07, I went to the National Patch Show which was in
Reno.  It was my first national, so that was really cool and I got A LOT of new patches.  There are pictures of some of the patches I got underneath the
ones of my display frames (the four with the brown background).   On Jan 19 was the 2008 Porky show at which I won another award, which was
completely unexpected, but very exciting.  I also got a bunch of new patches, but the attendance this year was nowhere near what it usually is.  
Nevertheless, it was still cool seeing all my buddies.   After Reno and the 2008 Porky's, I was finally able to pick and choose the patches to complete
my 2nd non-fire dept patch display, which I proudly photographed so I could update the picture on here. (2nd one with blue background)
This is the award I won at the 2006
Porky D. Swine show.  Needless to
say, I was very shocked and excited
that I had actually won something,
especially since Porky is "the" show
to go to in CA.  My dad helps out with
publishing articles and stuff about
the shows and he found out that I am
the first woman to ever win an award
in CA.  He is pretty sure it's also the
first time in patch show history, at
least it is in the past 30 years or so.  
We're not 100% about farther past
than that, but still... pretty cool :)
The pictures aren't the best, but above are some of my plastic badges.  Below is the
first case of my pins, although obviously here isn't a whole lot of detail, but you can get
the idea.  Starting after the July '08 show, I had enough pins to start my second case.  I
got a really good deal on a bag of about 40 pins that the guy wanted to get "rid of" and
after going through all of them, I ended up with only 2 traders from the whole bag.  The
rest went into my collection.
These are some of my foreign patches.  I keep them in an album, but I wanted some of the
pages on my site.  The top left one is a complete collection of all the ranks for German police.  
They are the shoulder bands.  The middle one is also German patches.   Top right is four
versions of the Calgary police in Canada.  The top two are the oldest versions but I haven't been
able to figure out which is older.  The current one is the bottom one with the white lettering.

On the bottom row are patches from different places.   There are ones from Finland,
Switzerland, Norway, Kozovo, Mexico, United Nations and two others that I'm forgetting at the
moment.  The one on the middle page in the bottom left corner is actually from a Karate type
organization.  I forget who I got it from, but I got it cause of the tiger and dragon that's on it.  :)
Well, remembering my surprise at receiving my first
award in '06, imagine what was going through my head
when I went to the 2008 Porky show and walked away
with a 1st place award!   Never in my wildest dreams
would I have imagined I would win 1st place.  Even Dad
was speechless for a few minutes :)
The four pictures above are just a few of the new ones I walked away with at the National in Reno in  Oct '07.   A lot of patches I get are
sometimes just because they catch my eye, others because they are places I've been or places I have friends.  Most of the best ones
are going to be fire department patches, but FBI and DEA come in at a close second as far as designs go.  But you have to be careful.  
Some designs I pass over because of the quality of the picture.  I have seen some patches that could have been so beautiful if the
designers had just added a little more detail or the creators had managed to catch something little like a spelling mistake.  Yes, believe
it or not, Dad and I have seen some with a city name spelled wrong.  Although I do have a slight advantage over most other collectors.  I
am not as interested in getting all patches for a certain theme, for instance, all the county patches from CA or all the highway patrol
patches from Nevada.  I go for what I like, so I don't run into a lot of  instances where I have to have one to complete a collection, and can
therefore pass over a couple if I really just don't like them.    For instance, Dad has the complete collection of all the agencies in CA
(police and sherriffs) so when he was working on that, he kinda had no choice about some of them if he wanted a complete collection.