November 30, 2012

Eastern Washington football FCS playoffs preview

Eastern Washington University's quest for a National Championship begins tomorrow as they host the Wagner College Seahawks in the second round of the FCS playoffs.

Eastern is the number 2 seed coming into the playoffs and lucked out with a bye last week in the first round. Now hopefully the team won't come out lackluster against the Seahawks after their time off. Wagner is coming off a first round 31-20 victory over Colgate. It was the program's first-ever FCS playoff victory. The Seahawks started the season 0-3 but have since won their last nine games.

Now honestly I had never hear of Wagner College and had to look up where it was. The school is located in State Island, NY and have pretty much spent their whole season being unknown. The team has flown under the radar all season. And any team that has confidence, the ability to win and is under the radar, well that is a dangerous opponent. 

The Seahawks offense is ran by quarterback Nick Doscher who has thrown 210 straight passes without an interception. Additionally the team has committed only one turnover during its nine-game win streak.Those are some impressive stats. You win games by protecting the football.

However, the Seahawks will have to travel across the county and not only have to deal with playing on the red turf of the Inferno at Roos Field, but it should be about 40 degrees at kickoff.

Buy an Eastern Washington Eagles flag for tailgating.

Plus, the Eagles earned that number 2 ranking for a reason. And if Eastern can keep winning, that means they'll play all their games at home. Which is a huge advantage.
The Eagles enter the game 9-2 overall this season, finished Co-Big Sky Conference Champions, but won the league’s automatic playoff berth. And Eastern knows how to win close games. Of Eastern’s seven Big Sky wins this season, one was by seven points, two by six points and three wins by just three points. Additionally Eastern's two losses came by four points against FBS Washington State and three points against Southern Utah on a last second field goal.

Playing in the Big Sky Conference also helps the Eagles. The Big Sky offers some of the best football teams in all of FCS and week in and week out the team plays playoff caliber teams. Eastern uses a duel quarterback system of Vernon Adams and Kyle Padron, who have combined for 3,270 passing yards and 24 touchdowns. Eastern also has some of the best receivers in all of college football with the trio of Brandon Kaufman, Greg Herd and Nicholas Edwards.

Expect the hometown Eagles to pick apart the Seahawks defense in this one. But it will be close, it is Eastern football after all. And give the town of Cheney another week of football.

FINAL SCORE: Eastern Washington 34, Wagner 24

Michael Jordan banned from golf course

The greatest basketball player of all time was kicked off a golf course because he was wearing cargo shorts. In other news, golf courses need to realize its 2012 and 1902.

(I'm talking about Michael Jordan, the guy that was on this poster)

The La Gorce Country Club in Miami, Florida, reportedly kicked Jordan off the links in the middle of his game and banned him from ever returning because he violated the club's strict dress code. 

Not even Jordan, with his six NBA championship rings, reported half-billion-dollar fortune and worldwide recognition, could escape the policy at the golf course that demands a tucked in collared shirt and Bermuda shorts.

My question is why? Wouldn't the golf course benefit from having a celebrity on the links? Do you think any of the other golfers would complain that Michael Jordan had cargo shorts on? Its not like he's out there dressed like Homer Simpson.

(And if you're a Jordan fan, get this)

Dress Codes are incredibly stupid on golf courses because very rarely do you see other golfers outside of your group up close and person except at the pro shop or waiting for somebody to play through. But in true rich person fashion, if somebody else is doing something they don't do, it's a problem. I'm wishing Michael would just buy the golf course (He can afford it).

(Michael Jordan Jersey - you know you want one)

November 29, 2012

Mercury has ice on it

Well, go figure.

The planet closest to the sun, where temperatures can get up to 430 degrees Celsius, apparently has ice. In fact, Mercury has a butload of ice, about 100 billion to 1 trillion tons of it. All of it resides in crater bottoms that never see the surface of the sun. This all comes from NASA's Messenger spacecraft.

Sean C. Solomon, the principal investigator for Messenger, said there was enough ice there to encase Washington, D.C., in a frozen block two and a half miles deep.

 That is a counterintuitive discovery for a place that also ranks among the hottest in the solar system. At noon at the equator on Mercury, the temperature can hit 800 degrees Fahrenheit.

 But near Mercury’s poles, deep within craters where the Sun never shines, temperatures dip to as cold as minus 370.

(To learn more about Mercury, check out this documentary)

Now why should this be fantastic news for all of us? Because the ice of Mercury proves that even in an inhospitable environment like being close to the sun, humans could probably find a way to set up a colony. While Mars is obviously the golden goose of the planets in the Solar System, an outpost on Mercury isn't so far fetched once space travel becomes more and more regular.

Just don't put it on a sunny surface. Perhaps underground or on a crater floor.

(If you want to see what the movies thinks of Mercury and being close to the Sun, watch the awesome flick Sunshine)

Its funny how in just a couple of decades, a solar system that seemed devoid of life and water (except for Earth) has become an outright playground for organic compounds. Now if we could just spend more on NASA...

November 28, 2012

New Eugene Emeralds logo

I love minor league baseball teams for three reasons:

1. As a Seattle Mariners fan I've been watching a minor league team in a major league ball park for the last 10 years so going to a Tacoma Rainiers game or an Everett AquaSox game actually provided better entertainment.

2. The atmosphere is fun, the tickets and food cheap and the fans are into the game. They are great entertainment.

3. Minor league teams have the coolest names and the coolest logos.

Take the Eugene Emeralds for example. They rebranded and wanted to keep the "Emeralds" nickname but wanted a whole new look for the team. And what could be better than a logo featuring a big foot? Nothing! I'm thinking I have to get me one of these shirts!

Are you happy Husky fans?

Steve Kelley over at The Seattle Times has a column in today's paper about the Huskies and coach Steve Sarkisian needing to do more. More than just a middling bowl game. More than an overtime loss to the Cougars, which apparently everyone on the west side of the Cascades is really, really pissed about.

Here's the basic core reason that Kelley has for his "Sark, what have you done for me lately?" column.

Washington football is progressing, but it isn't progressing nearly as fast as its fans rightfully expect. For the third straight season, the Huskies, 7-5, are bowl eligible, but for the third straight season, the bowl is a second tier, made-for-TV game, probably the Las Vegas Bowl, which feels like the NIT to a fan base that is antsy to dance on New Year's Day, or beyond.

 The way Washington lost the Apple Cup — all of the penalties, the questionable play-calling, the blown 18-point, fourth-quarter lead — shines the harsh light of truth on the head coach.

 Sarkisian was hired with the expectation that he could grow into a great coach; that he could compete with Oregon and Stanford and USC for Pac-12 championships and make Washington a player in the BCS rankings. It hasn't happened.

But I think his arguement falls apart completely just a few lines later, when Kelley starts talking about all the talent that Sarkisian has brought to the program.

Sarkisian has dramatically improved Washington's talent level. He is backing up his highly ranked recruiting class of a year ago with another solid class this year. 

Seven of the 19 players who have committed to Washington are rated four stars (out of five) by and the Huskies are close with a couple of other recruits. The talent is there to compete for conference championships. Without question, Sarkisian has returned hope to the Huskies. 

He has turned a bad program into a good program.

And you were expecting more? Mr. Kelley. I don't blame him personally, he's probably reflecting a lot of what UW fans are feeling right now. Why hasn't UW made the big breakthrough and competed for a Pac-12 or even a national championship (Here's something to remember the Huskies national championship with). But do we all have amnesia?

The program that Sarkisian took over was awful. Terrible. It was a laughing stock, even the WSU Cougars kind of guffawed anytime anyone brought up the Huskies. The high brows in Seattle won't enjoy this dose of reality but UW has a football program that was just a dumpster fire. Sarkisian comes in and all of a sudden the Dawgs are upsetting top-ranked teams? They're going to bowl games? Like he.. he.. turned things around. Exactly what he was hired to do (Enjoy the greatest moments at Husky Stadium here).

But uppity UW fan comes in and demands that in four years from a winless season, Sarkisian should REALLY have the Huskies competing with Alabama.


College football has changed, folks. No matter how much you want to believe that UW is some top tier program in the entire country, it's not the truth. There is some history, yes, but the Pac-12 is just so stinking tough that I'm going to guess the Huskies won't go undefeated every year. I'm not saying they will never have great seasons, but remember this is a conference with powers like USC and Oregon and sleeping giants like UCLA, Cal and Stanford.

UW is a good program, they'll get their share of recruits, but they'll also be going up against schools that get their say among the best talent in the entire state of California, and probably the western United States. Throw in that they're mostly warm weather schools - kids love playing in warm weather - and the kind of money that a USC and Oregon have - and it's a slightly uphill battle.

The Huskies have money, a strong alumni base and a new renovated stadium in the future - they'll be fine. The mere thought that a coach that has improved the program consistently for four years and taken them to bowls games is simply crazy and not realistic. Welcome to big boy college football, you guys aren't the biggest fish in the pond even though you think you are.

Keep Sarkisian. In fact, hold onto him. A good, solid coach is way better than taking a flyer on some flashy coach with no guarantees .

November 27, 2012

Mariners lose the most fans in professional sports

This is a rather dubious distinction, but the Seattle Mariners - yes, our very own hometown ballclub - has seen the worst drop in attendance for a professional sports team in the past ten years. I don't think you have to do much digging to see why that's the case, the Mariners were contenders in the early 2000s, and are completely irrelevant nowadays.

(Although, they are showing some promise. Anyone want a Felix Hernandez jersey?)

In 2002, the Mariners were 93-69 and finished third in the AL West. They were also coming off the 116-win 2001 season which had everyone in the state of Washington in a big tizzy (Here's a DVD to remember when Seattle had a good baseball team). Remember, you couldn't turn the TV on, talk to a buddy or go to Home Depot without somebody talking about the Mariners.

Since then, there's been a whopping 51.4 percent decrease in attendance at Safeco Field - which is still one of the coolest ballparks in all of baseball, no question about it. They had a 75-87 record this season, but any sports fan will tell you that the team is coming around if they can get some offense going... oh wait, they're bringing in the fences?

The Mariners have seen a 61 percent drop in season tickets and remember that snafu earlier this fall when they raised season ticket prices without telling fans? Ick.

Here's the list for the 13 teams with the biggest attendance declines:

1. Seattle Mariners; MLB; -51.4 percent
2. Cleveland Indians; MLB -38.7 percent
3. Houston Astros; MLB; -36.1 percent
4. Arizona Diamondbacks; MLB; -32.0 percent
5. Dallas Stars; NHL; -23.2 percent
6. Oakland Athletics; MLB; -22.6 percent
7. Detroit Pistons; NBA; -22.3 percent
8. New York Mets; MLB; -22 percent
9. Baltimore Orioles; MLB; -19.7 percent
10. Columbus Blue Jackets; NHL; -19.2 percent
11. Washington Wizards; NBA; - 19.1 percent
12. Milwaukee Bucks; NBA; -19.0 percent
13. Miami Dolphins; NFL; -17.1 percent

Seven out of 13 are MLB teams, meaning that fewer and fewer people are going out to the ballpark. That could have something to do with (a) TV and internet options allowing you to watch games for comfortably and (b) a terrible economy for a team that plays everyday. There's two NHL teams on the list, although I'm not sure how they count that since the league is currently not having a season. The Detroit Pistons live in an urban zombie-land so that should be expected, and the Miami Dolphins just plain suck.

(Sorry Piston fans, but we still love EWU's Rodney Stuckey)

But you know what, the Mariners beat them in attendance drop by a very, very large margin. The team should probably take a long look at itself, and why I feel that the Mariners have made steps to get better, they waited much too long to turnaround a plodding squad in the AL West.

I mean it has gotten so bad that people in Spokane now root for the Texas Rangers.

With the fences coming in, and a pitching staff that is one of the better ones in the AL, fans might be wise to snatch up a few tickets during this next summer.

November 26, 2012

Red Dawn: The commies invade again?

When the 1984 version of "Red Dawn" pops up on cable television, you can't help but stop on the channel and watch Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen fight the Russians. Back at the height of Cold War tensions, Red Dawn hit the paranoia of Americans and mixed it with 80s action film magic. It wasn't winning any academy awards, but the concept and the way they pulled it off made it highly entertaining and perhaps the most Republican film ever made.

(Here you can buy the original Red Dawn)

So now in 2012, with the Cold War over, America being the country invading other nations and occupying them, they decide its time for a remake. Why? It's Hollywood and they have no original ideas. That's exactly the issue with this film. In 1984, it was at least plausible that the Russians would get pissed at us, gather up a few allies and decide to invade the United States. It tapped into some real world fears and the film has just a tinge or realism and desperation to it that keeps you on edge for the whole running time.

In the remake, the enemy is North Korea. They changed it from the Chinese to North Korea because they wanted to be able to market this film in China and make a ton of money. So instead of the United States' largest trading partner who would gain nothing by invading, a third world country with an antique military and  a starving population takes us over with the help of a new "superweapon" that doesn't make up for the fact that North Korea probably doesn't have an Air Force or a Navy capable of crossing the Pacific.

The premise is just so ridiculous, during serious plot points of the film, the audience finds itself laughing more than taking the brass tacks of the invasion seriously. I howled when I heard the main character played by Chris Hemsworth (you know, Thor) say "They didn't come all this way for just Seattle and Spokane."

Another small qualm, after growing up near Spokane - the supposed setting of Red Dawn, the place looks nothing like Spokane. It was shot in Michigan and I can forgive the principle photography differences or real streets and buildings but the overall CGI shots look nothing like the Lilac City and the filmmakers make the city look much, much bigger than its supposed to be. I kind of wanted to see some more homages to my home city. All the filmmakers had to do was log onto Wikipedia and they'd realize no Western Washington rain forests (where the high school kids hide out) are anywhere near Spokane.

Now the plot is much more abbreviated and much campier than the original. High school kids survive invasion of city, and regroup to fight North Koreans since apparently every American has a store of automatic weapons lying about. 'Murica. It's still an entertaining action film, it just can't be taken too seriously. What is very weird about the remake is that it feels a lot more shallower than the original. The movie doesn't have any gore to speak of. There's only the death of a few of the high school characters and they're glossed over. In the original they made of point of saying "hey look, kids are DYING."

For some reason, the war part is more glorified in the remake. That's right, in 2012 we have a Hollywood movie that glorifies violence and killing people without a conscious in a remake of a 1980s action movie. Shouldn't it be the other way around? Case in point, the 1984 version ends with the names of all the kids that died in the war and something of a prologue by the main character. It's a pretty sorrow ending.

In 2012, the main character is rallying more people to fight the North Koreans with a heroic speech about, you guessed it, Murica!

Maybe that's where we're at right now as a country.

There's a few caveats thrown in for fans of the original, so keep your eyes peeled. Hemsworth does a great job as Jed, the leader of the high school kids. Josh Peck plays his younger brother and looks high all the time, it's really, really annoying.

I'd say watch this one when it comes out on Netflix. Popcorn fun, but a brain-dead remake with no real message or substance to it. It was a remake that didn't need to be remade.


(Seriously just go and buy the original Red Dawn)

Ways not to mow the lawn

Maybe the photo on the right illustrates just how lazy Americans have become, and is yet another example of our impending doom.

I mean, mowing the lawn takes a lot of energy, right? Standing there, pushing a small engine back and forth. You might break a sweat doing it. Heavens!

Luckily the Rooter Scooter comes into play and all this lady has to worry about is checking her diabetes afterwards. I do have one question about all this though. Does she have to clean off her scooter when all the grass gets on it?

If you want to mow the lawn like a real american, I suggest you just buy one of these  lawn mowers. 

November 25, 2012

The US planned to Nuke the Moon

Remember that "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" business during the Apollo moon landings? Well apparently, getting to the moon wasn't always a peaceful endeavor. The United States, in an effort to intimidate the Soviet Union in the Space Race, actually had plans to launch a nuclear weapon at the moon as a show of force.

Which, of course, would have been so productive (that's sarcasm, folks). The weirdest thing of all, is that astronomy superstar Carl Sagan was involved in the whole project. The same Carl Sagan that made all those TV shows and wrote "Cosmos". The same Carl Sagan that was smarter than everyone on the planet... when it came to talking about planets. The same Sagan that became a mouthpiece for world cooperation and science:

Sagan, who later became renowned for popularizing science on television, died in 1996. The author of one of Sagan's biographies suggested that he may have committed a security breach in 1959 after revealing the classified project in an academic fellowship application. Reiffel concurred. 

Under the scenario, a missile carrying a small nuclear device was to be launched from an undisclosed location and travel 238,000 miles to the moon, where it would be detonated upon impact. The planners decided it would have to be an atom bomb because a hydrogen bomb would have been too heavy for the missile. Reiffel said the nation’s young space program probably could have carried out the mission by 1959, when the Air Force deployed inter-continental ballistic missiles. 

Of course the military decided that it was too dangerous for the people on Earth to detonate a nuke on the moon. They weren't sure what the effect of the radioactive dust and fallout would do. Thankfully, the man on the Moon never got a black eye.

November 24, 2012

10 gift ideas for the Bear Grylls fan

The holidays are quickly approaching and you might be trying to come up with some gifts for that special someone in your life. Well don't worry, we here at Just South of North are going to help.

If that special someone is excited for the new NBC Bear Grylls show, perhaps they even applied to be on it, maybe you should get them some Bear Grylls items.

Here are 10 suggestions for the Bear Grylls fan in your life:

1. Gerber Bear Grylls Survival Series Ultimate Knife: The first edition of this knife was horrible. It wasn't up to the usually very high standards of Gerber. However, the second edition is top notch. The knife featurs:
  • Molded rubber grip and knurled striking surface butt cap
  • Saw ground back blade
  • Integrated fire starter with integrated diamond sharpener
  • Key ground-air communication patch
  • Emergency micro lanyard whistle
It's a must have for any fan of the outdoors and fan of Bear Grylls.

2. Mud, Sweat, and Tears: The Autobiography: I bought this book as soon as it was available in the US. And I read it in just a few days after receiving it. The book is fast-paced and well written. The chapters keep you intrigued and show more to Bear Grylls then fans get in his TV shows and interviews. It's a great read and a lot of fun. I enjoyed it a lot and I'm sure you will too.

3. Man vs. Wild Video Game: Have you ever wanted to BE Bear Grylls? Well with the Man vs. Wild video game you have the chance. I wrote a review last year about the game and found it enjoyable. You can't make it outside everyday, so on those days you're trapped inside, why not have a little fun by trying to survive in the Everglades.

4. Man vs Wild: Season Four: While I enjoy all the seasons of Man vs. Wild, I really enjoyed season four. This season also includes the very humorous episode with Will Ferrel. In this season Bear heads to the wilds of Alabama, Arctic Circle, Vietnam, Texas, Alaska, Panama, Big Sky Country, China and Guatemala.

5. Bear Grylls Men's Trek Long Sleeve Shirt: This shirt is very form fitting (which you might want to move up one size for comfort fit). It is quick-drying and offers panels that stretch for added movement while trekking.

6. Bear Grylls Men's Original Trouser: Like the shirt in number five, these pants are made by Craghoppers and are quick-drying, offer stretch panels, six pockets (2 with zippers) and are very comfortable.

7. Para-Cord Survival Bracelet: I have a paracord bracelet that I wear whenever I go out whether I'm hiking, kayaking or just camping. If you ever needed rope while in the wild this is the perfect product. A great survival item and now part of my regular outdoor gear.

8. Man vs. Wild: Survival Techniques from the Most Dangerous Places on Earth: I recieved this book as a birthday present a few years ago and wasn't sure what to expect. But after reading a few chapters I knew that it would be very interesting. It's been a long time since I was in Boy Scouts and this book really helped to refresh some of what I learned while earning my Eagle Scout award. The information is good and presented in an entertaining way.

9. Gerber Bear Grylls Survival Fire Starter: While I don't have this exact model I do have a similar fire starter. It works great and is so nice to have in the wet Pacific Northwest. I don't have to worry about matches or finding waterproof matches (or a waterproof case) for them. This model also has a whistle attached for emergencies.

10. Man vs. Wild: Season One: The season that started it all. If your Bear Grylls fan doesn't have the first season of Man vs. Wild then you know what to get them.

I hope that this list has given you some good ideas for what to get the Bear Grylls fan in your life as well was my actual reviews of the products.

Gold star for the Cougars?

Hey Coug fans! Congrats! You're Apple Cup Champions!

In was has otherwise been a disappointing season, Washington State Cougars can at least hang their hat on the fact that they defeated their cross-state rivals. The University of Washington may be headed to a bowl game, but they won't have bragging rights over their smaller sibling. They choked this game away against an opponent that just wanted it more.

But lets turn the blame a little bit. WSU played inspired. Never gave up, even when down 18 points in the fourth quarter. They made the big plays. They had energy. Where was this team all year long?

They've literally been walking corpses throughout the entire Pac-12 slate, and you're telling me that Washington just played a stinker of a game? Other than the morbid offense that they have had all season, this was the same Huskies squad that's been good enough to be ranked nationally. So why can't the Cougs do this for a full season?

Embattled (and apparently "abusive") Cougars coach Mike Leach has said all season long that his team lacks mental toughness. They lacked that under Paul Wulff. They proved it again this year. Any Washington State fan who is truly a fair observer of the game of football understands that these kids were not very likable this season. Hit a little adversity in a game and they crumbled.

It was an epidemic, no wonder Leach called them "corpses."

Now, when they actually have a little fire in their belly, they defeat one of the country's better teams? You've got to be kidding me Cougs. You've had this in you all along?

Hopefully Leach can establish a tougher mentality. Fans have better hope he does because they're going to need it in the very tough Pac-12 Conference. Unless the only game you want to win is the Apple Cup, the players need to be more juiced, more often.