4 Things to do This New Year

1413067_water_newThough it’s almost February, it’s never too late to get started on something new. It only takes one day to start becoming the person you want to be and today could be that day. There are a million things you can do, but my advice is this: Start simple. Don’t plan so much that you overwhelm yourself and fail, take baby steps.

It goes back to the old adage: How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.

  1. Spend More Time in the Sun

Too many of us rely on supplements and food for our Vitamin D needs. We also hear about skin cancer, and how we don’t want to tan. However, the sun has gotten a bad rap as of late. It is the original source of Vitamin D and studies show that being in the sun makes you less stressed, and feel more free. Take some time to lie out in the sun this summer.

  1. Fast

The best thing I did for my health in the past year was begin to skip breakfast. More and more studies show that those who eat their meals within and “eating window” (typically between 4 – 8 hours).  You don’t have to fast every day, but fasting can really be good for the body. Think of it as your reset button. It allows the body  a period of being able to regulate itself and get back in a form of ketogenesis.

  1. Read

Do this more often. It is better for you than almost any other hobby or activity. Even reading comic books actively engages the brain and makes you smarter and less likely to have brain disorders later in life.

  1. Learn a New Language

It’s not as hard as you think, and it can be done in a lot less time than you think. The benefits of learning new language are immeasurable, and will automatically make you look smarter (which is what everyone wants) you can go the route of something like Rosetta Stone, but it’s easier to learn other ways, as your developed brain is better at learning languages now than when you were a child.

Change is vital, improvement the logical form of change.
~ James Cash Penney

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Championship Weekend Predictions (Updated)!

655092_football_5Everyone loves this time of year, when the winter is upon us, and great football teams battle for the top spot as “world champions” As it were here are my championship predictions, everyone else is wrong except me.

Championship Games:

49ers V Falcons

This is going to be the closest game of the week with both teams fighting hard for every point. It’s also going to be a game that offense decides, so expect it to be high scoring. In the end however, there is going to be a very disappointed Atlanta.

49ers: 35  Falcons: 30

Ravens V Patriots

The Ravens were unbelievable in Denver. The key word being Unbelievable*. That being said it won’t happen again, Not in New England. Not against Belicheck. Not with Brady’s arm. My dark horse prediction for that game is it’s not going to be that close as it has been in years’ past.

Ravens: 17 Patriots: 28

Which of course brings on the big game February 3rd.

49ers V Patriots Ravens

Expect this game to be very close. with the 49ers being as explosive as they have been, with a quarterback who can pass and run, expect the 49ers to narrowly pull this one out. If the defense for the Niners can keep pressure on Flacco they will win by more.

49ers: 28 Ravens: 25

The Age of Technology

It’s not easy to dismiss the age of technology and the effect it has upon our economy. There are so many answers and perspectives to this question, but every right answer will have elements of these four core truths:

1. Our economy relies upon technology more than ever before.

We’ve come a long way from hiding dollar bills in bed sheets. When we look at our savings and bank accounts we look to the computer or an ATM for numbers on a screen. We know if we can buy that new couch because the LCD screen says we can. tangible money has been replaced by a system of magnetic strips and transactions done with Zeros and Ones. Rarely do we hear about large sums of money in cash form. One could argue this started with the advent of checks. It was more “convenient” than cash. Now we can swipe a card, or why even take your credit cards, do it from your phone.  Send money by way of third parties like Paypal. Our monetary system has become something less tangible and more intangible. Billions of dollars aren’t stacks of cash in a warehouse they’re numbers on a computer screen, that carry the same weight as those stacks of cash.

2. The 90’s and the Age of Technology

When we think of the 90’s we think of the success we had with an economy. We can debate all day why the economy was as good as it was, but looking back it had nothing to do with Clinton and everything to do with technology. Yahoo was the dominant search engine. People who saw dark purple walls thought of a search engine able to brings you vast sums of knowledge at your fingertips. Who knew that only a couple of years later, they would be pushed by the wayside for even more dominant technologies. Google was a startup, it kind of became a big deal. Microsoft, had it’s hayday  pushing the boundries of computers. You could carry a phone around with you, then the phone got smaller, then you could send people short messages instead of calling them, then you could check your email, wait email?  The Post Office would begin to die. The 90’s were the foreshadowing of today. Just think that children born today will think of these technologies as ubiquitous. However that’s far from the truth. What isn’t far from the truth is the growth of technology – it’s been anything but linear.

3. The Biggest Companies in The World are technology companies

Apple

Google

Amazon

People may think of the guys online, or the company that makes computers and ways of accessing the internet, but it’s deeper than that. When you talk about the biggest companies in the world you can add car companies, oil manufacturers and medical centers. Technology doesn’t come just in the form of the personal computer. It comes in the form of many different things. The car manufacturer can carve an engine from a single block of aluminum using technology, and make no mistakes while doing it. Oil manufacturers can asses the best places to drill and have new ways of drilling because of technology. Doctors can operate on patients without even being in the same state because of technology. Not only that, but all of these companies have benefited in other ways from technology. They make fewer mistakes, they hit more goals, their able to make cheaper, better quality products. Technology is not limited to those who sell you your computer or how you search the web, it is a broad net that stretches over your entire life changing the way you drive to the way you shave.

4. Technology as Warfare

Imagine Kennedy making a speech to the American people explaining that our biggest threats may not be nuclear, they may be technological. People would think he’s talking about advanced warplanes or missiles. This isn’t the case. Technological warfare is a very real and scary thing. In some respect, it happens every day, people have their identities stolen. However the far more pernicious kinds are something much worse. From crashing whole economic infrastructures to crashing servers for pertinent information. Anyone can access this kind of technology. With the advent of things like the deep web, governments everywhere need to prepare for the new threat of technological warfare. However, this kind of warfare comes not only from how it can cripple, but from how it can be taken away. From EMP’s that can dismantle a countries economy in seconds. No access to the outside world. Imagine being in the world but not a part of it. This, like most great things, is the price we pay for technology, and there will always be those seeking to keep us safe, against those who wish to do us harm.

The Olympics: I’m Lovin’ It

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love the summer Olympics. There is nothing better than, with all of our differences, coming together to cheer for our team. There is only one team: Team USA. Everyone is cheering them on, and the heartache and glory is palpable even from halfway across the world.  For the next couple of weeks people from all over will be cheering in their living rooms for America’s team.

There will always be those, sadly, who choose to find something wrong with the Olympics. Most of the flak is aimed at the sponsors like McDonalds and Coke. There are those of us who make the arguments that sponsors like McDonalds and Coke should not be sponsors of arguably, the most athletic competition in the world.  These naysayers will say that these kinds of sponsors make it okay for people to eat food that is bad for them or put bad things in their bodies. They say that these kinds of sponsors, do not “accurately represent” the fit and athletics state of the finely tuned machines that are our athletes. These people are short-sighted and miss the point of what a “sponsor” of the Olympics means.

Who is to say what’s unhealthy?  We know it’s not fat. Some will tell you that to be healthy you should be eating a lot more red meat. This article is not about that. Also, do these people know what kinds of food some of the athletes eat? Consider the swimmers who spend a lot of time in a pool that is cooler than their own body temperatures. These athletes need to eat more than the average, athletic person, or they will lose too much weight. Michael Phelps eats over 12,000 calories a day, and it’s not because he burns that much, it’s because of the temperature of the water.  Do you think he can get to twelve thousand calories a day eating salads?  That’s a lot of lettuce.

However, the real reason these people are wrong is because they fail to realize that being a sponsor of the Olympics isn’t about whether food is healthy. It’s about supporting our country. These companies don’t sponsor the Olympics solely for marketing. They sponsor because they, like us want to cheer the home team. They want to share in the glory of the Olympic win. They want to show support for their country and the athletes that have given their lives and bodies to be the perfect competitors. It’s not for the sponsor but for the athletes. These sponsors are passionate about our athletes and support everything they do. They are proud to support the United States. Dow Chemical is an Olympic sponsor too, and that’s bad for you if you eat it.

The true nature of the Olympics is that for those couple of weeks it’s not about Me it’s about Us. As a country, coming together to support those who would compete against the world. Those proud enough to play for a country that offers freedom and encouragement not just for us, but for the world. The rest of the world doesn’t tune in just to watch their team, they tune it to watch the United States, other countries, and our sponsors know that watching team USA is a beacon of hope for what true freedom can do to a country – it creates hope and courage, as personified perfectly in our athletes.

“Better to pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age.”

~ James Joyce

A Horror Movie Worth the Money

This may be a niche post to begin with, but I find that it deserves a written shout out as it were.

 

When was the last time you saw a good horror movie?

 

That’s what I thought.

 

I went to the theater the other day, because I was tired of not going to the movies. I am a horror buff for those who read the blog, I’m sure you’ve deduced that by now. Though I stick to my ideals through thick and thin, and I will be the first to tell you that 97% of horror movies are terrible. Just terrible.

 

These days it seems like Hollywood is trying to keep the companies that make fake blood in business, instead of making a good horror movie.

 

That being said, I’d like to direct your attention to a movie call “The Cabin in the Woods”  I will tell you that the movie itself is not scary, but the horror philosophies it deals with make it very enjoyable for anyone who has watched horror throughout their life.   The movie deals with the roots of our nightmares and has an ingenious plot. The writing is what makes this movie the one to see. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, but what it does give you is a peek into what good horror writing can do for a movie. You will find the same kinds of plot lines as you would in other horror movies, there are zombies and werewolves, but I’m not here to spoil it for you, I’m merely making a suggestion. If you have some time and a little money to kill, I believe you’ll be pleased by this horror pleasantry.

The movie deals with horror in a very clinical yet extraordinarily real way. You’re able to view the movie from more than one perspective thanks to the plot and that makes you nostalgic to the days when horror, as a genre, was an allegory for the human condition. It has the right amount of humor and darkness, but at the same time has the philosophy that so much horror lacks today. Today it’s horror for horrors sake (how many gallons of blood can we put in this movie?)  “The Cabin in the Woods” seeks to answer some more primal questions it seeks to answer one of the questions we all have which is are monsters real, or does it just take some time to find the zipper in the back of the costume.

 

I will leave you with this, if you like horror, you’ll like this. It gives hat tips to some of the classic films in the genre (Hellraiser for instance) and for all of you Lovecraft fans out there, this may be as close as we’re going to get to a Cthulhu movie for a while.

“As a small child, I felt in my heart two contradictory feelings, the horror of life and the ecstasy of life.”

~ Charles Baudelaire

Are You Among the very Young at Heart?

Do you remember what it was like to be a kid?  I’m not saying a young kid; I’m talking about the magic age.

The magic age actually encompasses a very short time period of your life. This is what makes it so magical. You’re old enough to appreciate the world around you. You’ve spent years cultivating your imagination and now it bears fruit in that small time period right before middle or high school. There is a time where you’re too young, whether you haven’t picked up on hobbies, or you haven’t explored the world through books. Then there is a time when you’re too old. You move up in school, join school sports instead of parks and rec baseball. Maybe you get a part time job. The moment I’m talking about lies in the middle of these two areas.

This is the sweet spot. It’s the spot where we all believed magic existed. Our bikes were transports that could take us across the neighborhood or across the world. Our friends were part of our platoon. We did everything with them, thick and thin, and we grew into such friendships that adults forget they ever had. During this magic time a forest was place where wizards or trolls may lay, movies were things that were plausible instead of fiction, the decrepit house down the street wasn’t an eyesore, it was haunted, and unseen monsters roamed its halls.  Do you remember how the summer wind felt on your face then?  Do you remember how the last ring of the bell for summer break meant absolute, undaunted freedom?  The world was a place to be explored. We knew it was scary then, but when you’re in the magic moment it’s not tragic scary it’s wondrous scary.  How about the pool or the lake that was near you?  Not only was it an oasis of relaxation and a sanctuary of bliss, it was the possibilities it held. What was underneath the surface? Perhaps dinosaurs still swam beneath its depths. In the end that didn’t matter, our world was magic. It’s that time where you start to notice girls or boys. Not in any prurient way. It is innocent, you just realize that they no longer have cuddies and maybe they would be fun to hang out with.  We knew then that we were in a wondrous place where triumph and tragedy held themselves as standards for what is and what could be.

I often tell myself I will never forget what it means to be that age, in that magical state. It becomes harder and harder the further you go along. Your own parents or at least those in roles of responsibility tried to get you on the narrow path. They saw the scraped knee as an infection waiting to happen. They saw the house in disrepair as a testament to the lack of city funds. They watched the news and picked sides. We didn’t. We felt they were looking only at a small part of a gigantic map. But, little by little, we grow up. We get part time jobs. We get steady boyfriends or girlfriends. Then it’s off to college. Little by little we forget the magic that was. We forget the magic that could have been.

Don’t let this happen to you. I encourage you to use this spring and summer to look back on the magic that was. Whether you get it from a book, or by walking and thinking, or by just sitting in your favorite chair and closing your eyes, please don’t forget. The magic may have been fleeting but the memories of who we once were can help us become better at who we are now. The world is still wondrous; we just forgot how to look at it that way. The world still contains monsters. The world still contains wonders. Don’t ever think that you were “just a kid” though you were young you can argue that you at that age had the right outlook on life.

It’s something to think about. Please remember what once was. When bikes where transports and your summer was a wondrous and glorious thing.

It’s magic – never forget that.

“All of us have moments in our childhood where we come alive for the first time. And we go back to those moments and think, this is when I became myself.”

~ Rita Dove

Football Left Baseball in the Outfield

With the baseball spring training season just around the corner let’s all take a moment to understand why football will always be better than baseball.

Admittedly, baseball was once America’s pastime.  The game was played through wars and was the escape for a nation for more years than football has been.  With that being said, football stole our hearts and there’s no looking back. It’s like finding your soul mate when you’ve been dating someone else, it may not be nice to say, but you’re soul mate always makes you happier.

What arguments can be made for my initial statement?  Well I offer you, dear reader, examples from different realms to qualm your hearts, and show you that football will always be better.  Let’s look at the differences in the core philosophies of both football and baseball.  First, both are team sports, but football will always be the ULTIMATE team sport. Everyone works together on every play. Baseball has teams, but it seems like most of the time there are three people on the field:  The pitcher, the batter and whoever catches/misses the ball. Sure you have plays where more of the team is used, but for sitting through nine grueling innings, it barely seems to scratch the surface of “teamwork”

Football is played by athletic men.  Football is arguably the most athletic mass sport in the world.  The training that goes into one man to get ready for a season is staggering. You have to run fast, catch well while worrying about getting hit and keep in mind pass routes as well as strategies. Baseball seems to be one of the few sports where you can stand in a field for 3 hours and be called a sports star.  Have you seen how many baseball players have beer guts?  Sure, offensive lineman do, but I guarantee they are still in better shape than baseball players. Baseball players wear helmets while they bat; football players wear helmets all the time.  It is a more aggressive, manly and athletic sport.

Let’s talk statistics. How many games does baseball have, 137? (I think) Why? That is one of the most ridiculous things every!  Do you know why baseball has that many?  Because it’s not that much of a sport, so they need to play more to make up for lack of actual sport. Football has 16 games and they all matter. If I lose 20 baseball games who cares?  In the grand scheme of things there are plenty more to win.  In football every game counts.  You need to play your heart out every week to get to the playoffs.  Speaking of which, playoffs: one game per team paring in football and the Superbowl is just one game. Baseball has seven?  I’m tired just writing this it’s so boring. If you’re a numbers person look at it this way:  The Superbowl has consistently been the most watched SHOW in America for the past decade, and the Superbowl has more and more viewers every year.   Here is another fun one:  Regular Monday night football games have more viewers than baseball playoffs.  Read that again, that’s playoffs.

More reasons why football is better:  There are better teams and better fans for those teams. Football has more exciting, heart wrenching games. Every game is different; teams have real coaches, real players and real strategies.  Baseball its “hit the ball”. That’s not a sport, that’s an online game during work. Football players are more well-known than baseball players. Football players are better athletes than baseball players.  Football even has better statistics than baseball, and even our commentators are better, though admittedly, some of the commentators are the same. If you’re a kid who wants to play in your back yard all you need is a football. If you’re a kid, baseball is like ice climbing:  You need a lot of gear before you can even play. There are so many more reasons why.  If I haven’t listed enough then look at this for some more.

However, I saved the best reason for last. Football is about passion.  Football is about teams fighting for the last score, fighting to come from behind, fighting to be the best. It’s about having 75,000 people on their feet cheering for the team to come back from behind, to win it all.  Even watching on TV you can feel the palpable passion that exudes from the game. From the excellence that comes from the play, from the lessons that come from pure teamwork. And, when that final touchdown is scored and the crowed goes wild, there is no better feeling, in all of sports, for the passion that the players and the crowds feel.  Football is the ultimate standard of the freedom that we share in America.  Welcome home football, the ultimate American pastime.

“Football is an incredible game. Sometimes it’s so incredible, it’s unbelievable.”

~ Tom Landry