December 31, 2012

Now go do something in 2013

Usually I look at New Years as just the hangover holiday after Christmas. It's always been a reason to drink and make some passing reflection on the year and forget about it the next day. This year has been different, however, there's been a lot of change in my adult life in just 12 short months. In 2013, for the first time I really have high hopes for the future and just what could be accomplished. Not just the normal "well there goes another year of my life down the tubes."

In 2012, I made several changes. Last Christmas, I was what you would classify as "fat" weighing in at a whopping 215 pounds in my pretty normal frame. It wasn't anything too serious, but I certainly didn't feel good about myself. Roughly 365 days last, I've dropped 65 pounds and am eating healthier and feeling better. It was the first time in my 20s where I felt I turned a corner on something and actually made some progress on my life as opposed to "just getting older."

A few months ago, I also decided to stop drinking altogether. There just wasn't anything beneficial from it anymore and the social lubricant that it had served as during the college years was now just putting me in crappy bars with a hangover the next morning. I sensed that all that time spent drinking and "having a good time" was keeping me from doing real things that were actually a good time. I haven't regretted the decision nor felt any single urge to drink again.

I also moved across to states from Polson, MT to Centralia, WA to become a sports reporter for the Chronicle. The job is absolutely incredible and gives me that feeling "this is exactly what I want to be doing?" ... something you don't get from too many occupations. The new community has been great and is just a drive from Portland and Seattle.

A couple other changes I made was making a point of always being at the gym working out, reading more books, canceling my DISH subscription so I can spend time doing other things and just finding new things in general.

I'm certainly happier than I was 12 months ago, and I want to be able to say that in a year. I know it won't be easy, life certainly isn't, but I feel there are some things to be learned from 2012 and can be applied to 2013. If you're looking for a way to make the next year of your life better, try doing these things.

1. Find out what you don't like about your life and change it - What, deep down, doesn't sit with you well? Try and change that. While I can't say you'll become a millionaire or a movie star, if you're unhappy and keep doing the same thing, you won't get any different results.

2. Realize actions and attitudes are more important than words - Do it. If you want to be a positive person, it should be a no-brainier that you can't be negative. Negativity is just an awful thing for a person to have. Those people in your life that say you can't? Don't listen to them, they have their own issues. If you start being a positive person, taking actions that make you a better person... then you will become a better person. It's as simple as that.

3. Challenge what you find is comfortable - This is my favorite. I like challenging the thoughts I bring up about my religious upbringing. Never be afraid of new ideas and new experiences, because if you try them you might find yourself. Go out on a limb and take up a new hobby even if you're terrible at it. Don't be afraid to talk to that person you've been dying to talk to. You'll find that the most successful people will deal with uncomfortable situations like the rest of us, but the difference is that they're not afraid of them. Don't be afraid of different people, political ideas, passions, life plans and don't be afraid to steer from the life road you've had since you're a kid.

4. Find Inner Peace and a Purpose - This is a huge thing. When you're having an awful day, find what makes you at peace with the world and go with it. For me, a great deal of physical activity combined with quiet reflection and the company of friends always puts me in a good mood.

Then there's the age old question of what am I doing with my life? I discovered all I want is to be happy. Money and fame? Nah. You should do the things that make you feel like you've accomplished something.  Do those things. Make those your passion. Don't give up on them.

5. Friends and Family - They're always important. Don't forget them. Make sure you tell them that you appreciate them because they may not realize it.

Hiking Poo Poo Point

How did you celebrate New Year's Eve? I climbed Poo Poo Point in Issaquah, WA.

Now this is a hike that I have done hundreds of times. But today was different. I wanted to climb it today to test myself. If you don't know I had knee surgery in June of 2011. The doctors thought I had a torn meniscus, but come to find out I had arthritis and it had torn up most of the cartilage in my knee.

After the surgery it was hard to even walk. And there was no way I could climb Poo Poo Point after that. One year later, in June of 2012, I climbed it and found that it was extremely hard and my knee was so sore that I could hardly walk for a week afterward.

Now a days my knee hurts on a daily basis but I have learned over the past year that you first have to accept the things that you can't control before you can work on the things that you can change.

So many people live their lives based on the motto "No Regrets". Well I think that motto is outdated and frankly untrue. I prefer the motto "No Excuses".

You see, when you live your life with "no regrets" it's easy to come up with excuses that will make your regret seem bearable. Instead, "no excuses" if you don't want to do something, just say so. But if you want to do something, then don't make excuses and just go do it.

Today I could have easily made the excuse that my knee is sore and stayed home. Instead I climbed Poo Poo Point. And I did it in one of my fastest times. When I used to climb it before my surgery I'd go up it (with a full 40 pound pack) in about 45-50 minutes. Today, with just a day pack, I made it in 42 minutes. I was happy with that. Now my knee is sore as I'm typing this (actually I'm icing it) but I did it.

So here's to the end of 2012 and I welcome 2013. Happy New Year everyone!

December 30, 2012

Epic Photo of Greatness: Blue Marble East

NASA first wowed us during the Apollo missions with their blue marble photo taken in 1972 by Apollo 17 astronauts. They've been re-releasing their "blue marble" photos recently, taken in high definition by satellites around the earth and stitched together by computers to show as little cloud cover as possible. Here's one of Africa that you should check out.

(Buy a blue marble photo here.)

Note that Africa is 20 percent of the Earth's land mass and hosts 877 million people within its shores. Meanwhile North America only hosts about 500 million people. Its these kind of photos that show that this planet is basically the only eco-system we can currently live in.

(Learn about Africa with this book.)

December 29, 2012

I'm Jumping on the Seahawks Bandwagon!

Since my Tennessee Titans are... well awful, I'll have very little to root for this postseason. Normally, I would just switch to the NBA and call it good - making fun of Kobe and getting all in a flutter when Blake Griffin dunks.

(Buy your Blake Griffin jersey here)

But I have to cast my interests somewhere this NFL playoff season, otherwise I'll be the only male in North America not watching football. The team I've decided to root for wasn't a tough choice since they're literally an hour and a half up the road from me. Yes, I'm jumping on the Seattle Seahawks bandwagon.

Now Casey already warned you about potential bandwagon-ers and I'd just like to say that "I'M HERE." Because really how can you not watch the Seahawks this postseason?

1. Up and Coming Quarterback - Russell Wilson is having one of the best seasons in NFL history for a Rookie. Normally, Seahawks fans are used to rookies being like Rick Mirer. Not anymore! Pete Carroll has found a guy that's incredibly fun to watch and has gotten better as the season progresses. It's going to be fun to watch Wilson do his thing in a playoff setting.

(Buy a Russell Wilson jersey here)

2. A Defense that scares me - They actually hurt people. Watching the 49ers game last Sunday, they were much more physical than San Francisco. It was a whole different level of punishment for the San Fran offense.

3. A coach that makes other fans mad - The Seahawks are running up the score! Pete Carroll left USC because of NCAA sanctions! He's just wants to win no matter what! Tell me why this is a problem?

4. Seahawks fans are always drunk and bully people - And I don't want to be bullied.

5. Marshawn Lynch is the best running back in Seahawks history - Hands down, no contest. Move over Shaun Alexander.

(Buy a Marshawn Lynch jersey here)

December 28, 2012

Here come the Seahawks bandwagon fans

As a lifelong Seahawks fan I remember getting made fun of for rooting for the "Seachickens" while everyone else cheered on the Cowboys. Now those same people are cheering on the Hawks. At least they picked the right team this time! Go Hawks!

(Maybe it's time to buy some Seattle Seahawks gear. Just in time for the playoffs!)

But don't worry. If the Hawks don't win the Super Bowl those fans will forget all about them and go back to cheering for whoever did win it. (Ah, who am I kidding, the Seahawks will win the Super Bowl).

December 27, 2012

Why Bo Jackson wouldn't work today

ESPN's 30 for 30 episode "You Don't Know Bo" came on the other day and I spent the next hour in awe of the athletic enigma that is Bo Jackson. If you want to see perhaps the greatest physical specimen that humankind has produced, you'd have to look at Jackson in his prime. He was absolutely ridiculous.

Nobody during his time periond (mid 80s to early 90s) even came close to what Jackson could provide. A non-steroid body of absolute muscle combined with speed that hasn't been seen again. Jackson set the 40-time record at the NFL combine in 4.12 seconds. It hasn't been broken.

The guy was a great person by all accounts and a horrific hip injury ended what was sure to be a hall-of-fame career in probably both baseball and football. Still the people that saw him play rave about how he played and what he was: A two-sport comet that burned his way through the competition.

And we'll never have somebody like him again. Why? You ask. Athletes are getting better all the time right? There's bound to be another one to come along, right? Jackson was perfect for his time and what sports were at the time. Things have changed, however, and you just won't get a Bo Jackson kind of person anymore.

(Get a Bo Jackson jersey here.)

1. Steroids - If Bo Jackson were playing today, we'd just assume he was on steroids. The mystique of being some freak of nature would be gone. He'd just be another athlete we'd assume is juicing.

2. 24-hour media - ESPN and sports blogs would no doubt dispell the myth of Jackson. Much like Lebron is dissected today, every public misstep by Jackson would have been blown up. Just the pure pleasure of watching him play would be distorted and we couldn't watch him dominate without 30 different sub plots.

3. Impossible to do two sports - It was incredible that he did it in the 1980s. Now? Teams pay to much, demand to much and the athletes are a lot better in both the MLB and the NFL. Jackson would get beat up during the football season. He probably wouldn't put up the numbers he did against the better pitching of today. Our professional sports have just gotten too nuanced for an athletic beast like Jackson to come in and dominate.

4. Probably couldn't rate him on Madden - Believe me, I've made myself in Madden and bumped up all the stats to 99. Still doesn't compare to Jackson on Super Bowl.

December 24, 2012

Happy Holidays!!!

From the Just South of North family to yours, Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!

December 20, 2012

Grimm's Fairy Tales

Today is the 200th anniversary of the "Grimm's Fairy Tales". And if you've never read them, they aren't the fairy tale versions that Disney made.

(You can buy the original  Grimm's Fairy Tales here)

The "Grimm's Fairy Tales" was written by brothers Jacob and Wilhelm. And many of the stories by the brothers were first published in a collection in 1812. They now are a staple in our society.

Today's Google homepage shows the tale of  "Little Red Riding HoodGrimm's Fairy Tales ; margin: 0px !important;" width="1" />" in a version suitable for everyone.

But many of the stories that you were told as a child are made much, much more PG than the originals. Many of the Brother's Grimm tales end in blindness and punishment.

In the "Grimm" version the stepsister mutilate and cut their feet to try to make them fit into the glass slipper. Also, at Prince Charming and Cinderella's wedding the sisters eyes are pecked out by doves. Lovely wedding gift.
Another story where someone goes blind, oh and Rapunzel was 12 when she was locked in the tower. And then "a year or two later" met her prince and gave birth to twins. Disturbing that she A. was locked in a tower, B. was a 13 year old with a kid and C. had such long hair. The prince also goes blind from thorn bushes while jumping from the window.

Little Red Riding Hood
No one goes blind in this story, but in the "Grimm" version the wolf does get cut open (while alive) with a pair of scissors and then his belly filled with rocks until he dies. She also met a 2nd wolf who she drowned in a pot of water.

If you want to read more, just buy the book! It's seriously interesting to see how the original stories went.

Buy Grimm's Fairy Tales on Amazon.

The Hobbit - ONE RING (One Direction 'One Thing' Parody)

Brandon wrote a great review of The Hobbit earlier this week, and since one of his favorite bands is One Direction it seemed like a match made in heaven when someone made a Lord of the Rings and One Direction parody! It's pretty hilarious. Check it out:

Does this remind you of anyone?

NASA has a prototype for a new spacesuit that might give people a flashback to a certain character from the cartoon "Toy Story."

The new suit, called the Z-1, has a large port on the back that allows the astronaut easy access. This means it wouldn't take as long to get into suits (which right now can be quite the process) and the suits can be attached to the side of the spaceship without the need of an airlock.

There's also more radiation protection and bearings to allow for easier movement and longer space walks. The prototype will serve as the basis for Z-2 and Z-3 space suit revisions.

But for the most part, all of us can only think about one guy...

December 19, 2012

Brian Kelly is smarter than you

All hail the Irish! Everybody is expecting them to be blown out against Alabama in the BCS National Championship Game, and the eye-rolling when it was announced Notre Dame would play in the championship game almost caused an earthquake.

But you know what? Screw you guys, the Irish are No. 1!

And guess what? Their coach is number one. Brian Kelly has been named the AP Coach of the Year.

Kelly received 25 votes from the AP college football poll panel. Penn State's Bill O'Brien was second with 14 votes. Stanford's David Shaw (four), Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin (three), Kansas State's Bill Snyder (two) and Alabama's Nick Saban (one) also received votes. 

 Kelly is the first Notre Dame coach to win the AP award, which started in 1998. Of course, the Irish haven't played for a national championship since 1988 and spent much of the past two decades trying to find a coach who could restore a program that was becoming a relic of its proud past.

After two seasons with Notre Dame, Kelly decided he wasn't spending enough time doing the best part of his job: coaching players. Kelly changed that in 2012, and he shuffled his staff. Then, with Kelly more in tune to his team and the assistants in sync with the head coach, Notre Dame went from unranked to top-ranked.

 Looking at the top picks for coach of the year, he seems like the natural one. I understand that Bill O'Brien has a lot of adversity facing his program, but I feel like we should be avoiding heaping praise on Penn State for a while. Stanford was good but got upset, but I do like Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin. Either way, the Irish are better than your football team. Get over it.

December 18, 2012

A Hobbit's Review: Way Better Than Expected

(Want to get the Lord of the Rings? Buy the Blu Ray Here)

Having read a few reviews before going to see "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" I didn't have the highest of expectations for the movie. Many critics say it was long, drawn out and cast in the exact same dye as the original Lord of the Rings trilogy (which, I really see no problem with.). I did avoid the 3D 48fps version and went with the old-fashioned regular frame rate 2D version because some people said it spoiled the fantasy feeling of the movie by feeling to realistic.

I was also a bit skeptical about splitting The Hobbit into three movies, since it was a 300-page book.

However, about halfway through the movie I decided "this is better than the book." And I think that's the first time in the history of movies that you can say that. Since it's a three-movie series, Peter Jackson is allowed to fill in the blanks on some events in the book that are basically written out in just one or two pages. For the most part, he hits every single nuance that the first 100 pages of the Hobbit offers in this first movie. If you just read the book (which I have, again), you'll be shocked just how faithful he is to the source material and how impressed you'll be with the changes he makes.

Some people criticized Jackson for taking too long in the movie to get out of the Shire, but the initial dwarf scenes are highly entertaining and if you didn't like them you probably didn't like the original three LOTR movies.

One of the qualms I had with the first three films was just how wimpy Frodo was for the majority of the time. It became the least favorite of the storylines that split out, despite a great performance by Sean Austin as Sam. The hobbit in this flick, the affable Bilbo Baggins, played by Martin Freeman, is the highlight of this movie. He played the reluctant traveler, bewildered by his circumstances absolutely wonderfully. He also comes across much more capable and clever than Frodo appeared in the first three films. Freeman is a highlight of the film for sure.

I also must say I'm happy the dwarves weren't played as completely comical but still entertaining. Gimli was used as too much as comic relief in the first three flicks, so it feels good they get their due. It also must be noted that had it not been for the first three LOTR movies, these flicks would never be made because what Hollywood studio would okay a flick about 13 short people and an old wizard? None. Jackson isn't afraid to take risks and portray the most unique parts of the book.

The whole dwarves showing up at Bilbo's place? Done. The riddle game with Gollum (Who's just fantastic this time around, really a great, wonderful piece of cinema right there)? Yep. Escaping from the Trolls by distracting them till sunrise? Yeah, it's in there. All things and devices that aren't normally used in Hollywood films and Jackson pulls them off wonderfully.

He also adds some very wonderful human scenes where some emotions and feelings are fleshed out. Bilbo's tenuous relationship with the dwarves, and their loss of home that I don't feel was really put front and center in the original book. It's a nice layer that makes me feel the movie is deeper than the book.

The only times I felt slightly distracted during the film was the addition of some things obviously meant to make sure audiences remember this is connected with the Lord of the Rings. The Hobbit really starts out as a plundering adventure for gold, but Jackson tries his hardest to make sure everything is connected to the originally trilogy (including an impromptu meeting between Gandalf, Elrond, Galadriel and Saruman the White that just feels very tacked on in order to make the audience feel like this is a more important adventure than it is. There is a nice monologue by Gandalf about Hobbits in there, however.

There pursuing orc band added into the film, obviously meant to give an active bad guy force to root against is slightly annoying just because it feels like it's needed for us "dumb" audiences. Unless we have some overlying bad guy force, we can't enjoy the movie? Come on.

Thorin is pretty bad ass, and flawed as a hero, which makes him almost more likeable that Strider in the first flick. The dwarves are most fleshed out as characters than the dwarves in the book. The action scenes are clever and playful. It really does feel like Jackson was the right person to move J.R. Tolkien's material along.

It's nice we're back in Middle Earth. It's definitely familiar but that's okay.


Wizard Gandalf Style

The world has pretty much been taken over by "Gangnam Style " by Psy.

But this is the best parody that I have seen. It's called "Gandalf Style" and sings about Hobbits and the Lord of the Rings. And with the Hobbit and theaters, you can buy the The Lord of the Rings on blu ray. A perfect gift!

Enjoy Wizard Gandalf Style!

December 17, 2012

Why you shouldn't freak that the Mariners didn't sign Josh Hamilton

Mariners fans are legitimately butt hurt about this whole Josh Hamilton thing, and I don't exactly get why. Can I ask anyone out there in baseball land if they've ever heard a fan say something like this:

‎"I'm really glad we dropped over $100 million in a long contract on one position baseball player with off the field problems. This has turned out so well for our team."

Nope. Never. Nadda. Signing one prized position player to a mega contract may feel like the right thing for a team with a struggling offense to do, but historically it's not really the best move. While the Yankees and Red Sox always make those signings and they always seem to be competitive -- there's a big difference between them and the Mariners.

The Red Sox and Yankees (the Angels too) can continue to make these big splash signings because they can afford for a couple of these contracts not to pan out. I can't tell you how much garbage is on the Red Sox roster or was on the roster last season. Anyone will tell you that the Yankees lineup is strong but also overpriced ( and aging). But they can afford to do those things, they're making lots and lots of money.

Sometimes it blows up in their faces. Sometimes it doesn't work. The point is though, they can reload quicker than Seattle if it blows up.

The Mariners have money but not a big pile like those bigger markets. They can make a free agent signing but it's going to be like when Texas signed A-Rod. One high-priced star with a bunch of nobodies. Team in hamstrung for years.

And that's not what Safeco needs right now. They keep losing and losing fans. They need a good team. Better to pick up three or four guys that can hit the ball well, not just put up stats like Josh Hamilton.

Seriously, get three guys that can hit .280 (which Hamilton didn't do last season) and you can do it for cheaper than $125 mil. Chances are that player won't be taking body shots at a bar anytime soon either.

Hand Hamilton a fatty contract, after he's already proven to have relapses and slump on several occasions should be a red flag. I don't get why this isn't a bigger deal for people. The guy had a bad second half of the 2012 season and he's got some tread on those tires after years of drug abuse. People talk about how expecting Pujols to have ten more great years is kind of stretching, how about a guy that's 31 and was a drug addict? Body breaks down if you don't treat it right even if you turn it around (which he has done).

And he's shown that off-the-field matters show up on the field. He blamed his slump on trying to quit chewing, which if it's true, means he doesn't quite have the mental concentration you would hope to have from somebody who's making 125 million.

A big free agent slugger is never what you need when building up the team and it's certainly not what the Mariners need. More offense? Yes, but not for that price tag.

Star Trek Into Darkness Trailer

There was a sneak peak trailer that they released a few weeks ago but this one is the official trailer and is has much more in terms of length. Again, it appears that this wont be you're father's Star Trek. Look for another adrenaline-pumping flick.

And if you haven't seen the first redux Star Trek, buy the blue ray here.

It has me all excited. I might have to dress up for the midnight showing on this one.

December 14, 2012

The Hobbit Movie Spoilers

The Hobbit just opened and apparently its making buttloads of money. If you can't make it to the movie, at least buy the book, and enjoy J.R.R. Tolkien's first foray into Middle Earth. We're here to ruin it for you, however, with some Hobbit Movie Spoilers.

1. Bilbo and the Dwarves will be short - Sadly, they will not be able to get on any carnival rides, or reach the top shelf. That's the problem with being a halfling and a dwarf, the only place you can find clothes is the kids section of Walmart.

2. Some sort of epic battle will happen - A lot of people will probably die in said battle. There will be some do-good force vs. a rather nasty detachment of evil people. Think of it like the Patriots vs. the Bills.

3. A ring will be involved - I don't know how Kay Jewelers somehow got their winter line in this movie, but alas, Bilbo will probably be feeling around for some dull ring.

4. Gandalf will have magic - Despite being almost all-knowing and almost all-powerful, he always seems to get himself into a pinch. A rather lazy wizard if you ask me. The better wizard? James Franco in his upcoming movie.

5. There will be some quest to fulfill - Want to combat obesity in America, have people set out and complete quests. We'd do away with our dragon and goblin problem as well. Now if only we could find dragons and goblins in America.

6. Somebody will smoke a pipe - After all, weed is legal in the Shire now.

7. The movie will be two hours longer than any other movie - Peter Jackson, a wonderful director but terrible editor.

Also you'll probably see someone dressed up as a hobbit at the movie theater, or you can go dressed as a hobbit yourself. We won't blame you.

December 13, 2012

Jacksonville Jaguars season from a 12 year olds perspective

If YouTube would have been around when I was a kid I'd have made a song like this every season for all of my childhood.

Thank goodness it wasn't.

But this girl did a great job with making a song about the Jacksonville Jaguars to the "We Are Never Getting Back Together" from Taylor Swift.

But it's called "We Are Never Getting Any Better."

And sadly, for Jacksonville fans, it's true.

Seahawks Busting Out New Grey Uniforms

The Seahawks have announced that they'll wear their alternative "Wolf Grey" uniforms this Sunday against the Buffalo Bills. While Seattle has already been sporting their new duds all year, thanks to a massive redesign by Nike, this will be the second time in team history the Seahawks have worn something outside of their normal home and away jerseys. Check out the photo above. (and get your own new Seahawks Jersey here)

The last time the Seahawks did an alternative jersey was back in 2009 when they did their lime green crimes against humanity. Here's a photo of them...

Ewww... thank god they never wore those again. I don't think Seahawks fans have to worry about the Grey uniforms embarrassing the team like these lime green ones did. Since the new uniforms have been so well received and since this is just a minor color alteration, I would assume these uniforms would look fine. The uniforms look really good on television and that's all that really matters. (If you want to buy a lime green version of the new uniforms, click here.)

Jersey sales have been up 274% since the Hawks unveiled their new design but that's probably because every NFL fan wants to look cool and up to date around all his other NFL fans. Alternative jerseys and redesigns are a bit of a racket to boost sales, but that doesn't stop the fans.

December 12, 2012

Eastern Washington Meme

Santa and I know it!

How about a laugh for your hump day afternoon? This is a great parody of LMFAO and "Santa and I know it!"

Have a laugh on us: