Saturday, January 7, 2012

London Fog

Now that we are about a week into the New Year, I wanted to share some thoughts on new years resolutions.  I don’t believe in them.  If you want to quit smoking in November don’t wait ‘till Jan 1st to do it.  I do think that January 1st is a good time to reflect on the past year and to figure out some new goals or new directions that you want to make.

On December 31st I drove down to Orange Country because that is where I was gonna bring in the new year.  I got there in the late afternoon with plenty of time to get a little surf session in.  I was pretty bummed when I got to the beach and Newport looked like London.  Fog everywhere.  I pulled up to my buddies house who literally lives on the beach and you could not even see if there were waves or not.  He convinced me that there were so I decided to paddle out for the last time in 2011. 

Quick little note for those of you who do not surf - People surf for a variety of different reasons – Job, recreation, look cool, culture, spiritual, happiness, the sun, convenience, fitness, all of the above, etc.  I’m not going to be joining the pro tour anytime soon so I just do it because it makes me happy and I feel that when I’m in the water it helps me think.  It is like a release.  It is as if your thoughts can be poured into a mass that dominates the earth, no thought is too big for her – nor to small.  When you ride a wave it is almost like you are conquering the ocean.  Like for a couple of seconds you have harnessed its power and tamed a beast that has swallowed many.  But then the wave slams you down and it lets you know that humility is still necessary.  Surfing is cool because you can see people get up and ride waves and its almost as if the wave was created to serve them – like that wave’s power and beauty was used by the person riding it to create a feeling of joy and happiness.   Then you watch other surfers and it is as if the man was created to serve the wave.  The wave has its way and does whatever it desires, with no regard to that persons safety or well being.   I think I’ve been in both situations. 

I say all that for this story – I paddled out and I could not see more than 10 feet in front of me.  By time I got out to a point where I wanted to start catching waves I could vaguely make out what the beach looked like.  I knew which way was east and which way was west, but it was extremely difficult to decipher.  As hard as it was to see behind me, it was just as hard to see in front of me.  I surfed like this for 15 minutes without giving it any thought.  Waves would show up and I would have to make a quick decision to take it or let it go.  Then it hit me.  This is last day of 2011 and here I am thinking about what I want to do differently next year.  Sometimes my life is very easy and a two year old could make decisions for me.  Other times it feels like all the wisdom in Ecclesiastes could not help me make the right decision.  One thing I did know is that in 2012 I wanted to be able to make clear decisions for my life and not be hindered by my past or thoughts of the future.  Ummm, hello? Are you there? Fog is surrounding you.  You cannot see behind you.  You cannot see in front of you.  Then its like a light finally came on. Ohhhhhhhh! I swear its like the ocean was giving me everything I needed.  It was a perfect metaphor of what I was trying to change.  Do not worry about the fact that you cannot see the past.  Do no worry about the fact that you cannot see the future.  Just be happy to know that you can see the present and that you can make great decisions based on that clarity.   

I just thought that it was a really cool story and I always hear stories like that, and I say to myself “man, when is something cool like that gonna happen to me!” Haha, funny thing is that I almost did not realize it.

Monday, January 2, 2012

A Healthy Addiction

You could Google “reasons to travel” and I imagine you would come up with 452 different reasons.  Traveling is good for you.  You might get something completely different out of traveling than your friends, but at the end of the day it is still all positive.  I’ll be the first to admit that routine is not always a bad thing.  Waking up everyday and seeing the same things, talking to the same people, and living the same life will continually get you – what you have always got. 

When I was a teenager I signed up for a missions trip to Mexico.  Our main goal for this trip was to serve in anyway possible – odd jobs, construction, lending an ear, whatever they needed. Growing up in Southern California, I was your typical American boy.  Grew up in a cookie cutter neighborhood.  Had an older brother who taught me about sports, girls, and life.  Had an older sister who kept me in line.  Had a younger sister who I kept in line? Had two awesome parents.  Had tons of cool friends.  Loved to play video games.  Drank too much soda. Loved sports.  Hated math and loved PE. Never spent my weekends indoors. You get the point.  Mexico was probably the easiest “foreign” country to go to.  It was about four hours (depending on traffic) to the border.  I didn’t know what to expect, and being so young my mind was pretty open to anything.  I had figured that we were going to go down there, have some fun, and help some people.  When I got back from that trip I almost felt guilty.  I felt like selling all my things, never buying a brand name shoe again, and saying thank you to my Mom and Dad for always putting food on the table at mealtime.  The people I met down there had a bigger smile on their face with half the amount of material things, than most people did where I grew up.  I was changed. I was shocked. I was hooked. 

This typical boy turned into a busy boy.  The word travel now came in the form of work as opposed to play.  College baseball and baseball as a profession allowed me to travel, a lot.   Good thing for me is that even while you are working you can still play!  Until recently, my travels kept me in the United States.  For those who think that different culture can only be found in places outside of your country you should go spend an hour on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, eat at the Blue Plate Cafe in Memphis, see a show at The Stage In Nashville, or take a drive down the streets of Anchorage.  If time, money, or fear of flying is limiting you to staying in the States, do not worry there is still a lot to see!

I owe a lot of my travel addiction to my Brother in law.  He was a missionary kid and grew up in Taiwan.  If there’s guy that knows travel its him.  You can even tell he’s traveled a lot just because of his personality and how he makes choices in life.  It’s truly amazing what travel can do to a person.  I was still a little skeptical about traveling outside of the States mainly because I thought I was going to have to do it alone.  I can remember sitting at the computer that day and him being like dude, just click yes and go for it.  My first trip was to Costa Rica. I actually convinced a buddy to come with me and we had a blast.  Now all I look forward to is my next fix.

So that is my pitch. Now here are some practical notes to keep in mind while traveling.

Plan – Dates, money, people.  All of these are really important.  While spontaneous travel can be rewarding too, practicality is important too.  Coming up with a budget to work with will make the trip less stressful and maximize fun! 

Likeminded travelers – Just for safety and practical reason, going on trips with people is always smart.  It’s important thought to pick people that have likeminded people.  You are going to be in each other’s lives twenty-four hours a day.  If you like to site see but travel buddy likes to sleep in – conflict might ensue. 

Keep an open mind – Keep in mind that the new place you are going will have things that you are not used to.  Architecture will be different.  People will look different. Food will be different.  Different animals might roam the streets. Traditions, culture, language – all different. 

Make a choice – traveling can be a little overwhelming sometimes.  You have hundreds of places to go, and hundreds of more places to go once you get to where you are going!  When you feel stressed, just make a choice – flip a coin.  Once you experience what your choice produced – use that information and make an even better choice next time!

So that’s my list of five things you can do.  Perfect way to start out the New Year, right? Now go plan a trip!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Tower of Babel

Quick Blog note - follow this blog on twitter for updates and stuff.  @tmbdead

Now that we’re plastic free, omega 3 boosted and fit, lets move on to something else.  If the first three topics for you came out of right field, then this next one is going to come from the bleachers. 

Go learn a foreign language.

Newsflash – English isn’t the most widely used language in the world.  Different languages are used everywhere, literally.  On you next trip – you’ll run into something that knowledge of another language will help you with.  Learning another language will help you in your workplace, with your friends, with friends that you haven’t met yet, and will help you understand different cultures in the world.  Language is really an incredible thing and it will open doors for you that you didn’t even know existed. 

Learning another language is tough.  What you’ll notice as you dive into this new world though is that a lot of languages are linked together.  For instance two of the biggest language groups are Germanic Languages (Danish, Dutch, English, German, Norwegian, and Swedish) and the Romance Languages (French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Romanian).   Each of these languages have similar words, context, sentence structure, etc.  On the flip side if you take The English language and compare it to Japanese, you’ll get a lot things confused.  A quick example would be the Yoda principle (yes, from star wars) – in English you say “you are right” but in Japanese you actually say “right you are”.  You think this would be so confusing, but in reality the sentence and word order of Asian languages are much easier than English.  The more you learn about different languages the more appreciation you’ll have for other countries, and the easier it will be to learn more and more languages.  This won’t be easy and it’ll take some time.  Sticking with it though will yield practical results that can make life a lot, well, cooler.  

Choosing a language is fun and tough.  You want to choose one that will keep you entertained, but you also want to pick one that is practical in your life.  I grew up 4 hours away from Mexico, so Spanish was one of those languages that I tried to learn as much as possible.  Surf trips, shopping, eating, and asking for directions were all made easier because I applied myself to the language.   What’s even crazier is that 10 years down the road half of my “co-workers” speak Spanish too.  Who would’ve thought, right?  Maybe you choose a language for a trip you know you’re going on soon.  Maybe you choose a language that your best friend speaks.  Maybe you choose a language whose culture intrigues you the most.  It doesn’t matter which one you choose, as long as you choose one.       

You’ll create more value to yourself when searching for new jobs, and you’ll make more jobs available to search for.  It’ll make traveling to a foreign country extremely easier.  You’ll be able to strike up a conversation with someone you think is cute because language will no longer be a barrier.  New cultures, backgrounds, and traditions will now be understood, and in return, it’ll make foreign countries not so foreign. 

You don’t have to go out and spend tons of money on classes or language learning software.  I’m not even saying that you need to become fluent in languages you choose.  First, you need to make sure this is something you want to do.  There are tons of free introductory lessons available.  Podcasts, websites, and even going to your local bookstore are ways to try for free.  Watching movies with subtitles, or a foreign news station, or even listening to foreign music can be a fun way of learning.  Get a good grasp of the language and make yourself comfortable with certain, practical conversations.  You don’t need to spend 3 years learning a language so you can discuss politics with someone.  You just need to know simple things that everyday life consists of. 

It really is a lot of fun and will open your eyes to a world of new experiences.   

Saturday, December 24, 2011

20 minutes, 3 times a week

Ok so we got 3/5 topics so far

1.     Drink water out of filters and reusable containers
2.     Eat Meat that is naturally raised
3.     Workout

The third one is pretty simple.  Go workout.  I’m not speaking though in terms of the way the majority uses this word.  I have no desire for you to have a six pack or to have a body that you are proud to show in a bikini in the summer.  I just want you to be healthy.  Not everyone is meant to look like WWE wrestlers or Victoria’s secret runway models.  Not to mention, I would tend to question their tactics anyway. The good news is that working out tends to make our bodies look better.  You really have no excuse here.  You don’t need a gym membership, a personal trainer, or a workout partner.  All you need is a little motivation and a very important thing called action.  I have a couple things to say first…

Dudes –

I have a couple of rules before we talk about getting off your couch.  Don’t wear affliction shirts to the gym – you’re not an mma fighter.  Cut off shirts are acceptable when used in moderation, God gave us sleeves for a reason.  Stop talking – if you want to use an excuse that you don’t have “time” to workout that’s because you spend half of your workout looking at lulu lemoned bottomed females and holding conversations that are worthless.  The chick on the treadmill next to you wants to run, not figure out a way to make you stop talking to her.  Stop getting your workouts from Men’s Health thinking that a six pack is in your near future.  Bigger is not always better.  And just because your biceps are bigger than the guy’s next to you doesn’t mean your opinion on politics is more pertinent. You don’t get to cut to the front of the line or wear a shirt size smaller than necessary.   Oh yea, and Newton told us that F = ma.  Force equals mass times acceleration. So size doesn’t equate to strength. 

Chicks –

All working out doesn’t make you big.  No bigger than ice cream at 10 o clock at night will. (don’t get me wrong, I love ice cream).  Having muscle isn’t a bad thing.  Yes girls are feminine and have a different body structure than dudes, but you can still be “fit” too.  If you’re at all worried about this, do more running and body weight stuff.  Flat stomachs aren’t relative to the amount of sit-ups you do.  Unfortunately, if it were that easy we wouldn’t have any fat on our stomachs.  Diet will get you abs before sit-ups will.  I’m not a girl, but I feel like a woman’s body can be either a huge confidence boost or the exact opposite.  Listen, wherever you are at right now is fine.  Make a goal, make a commitment and stay on a course.  Don’t desire a better body because people will look at you different; make a better body because you will look at you different.  If you are working out for someone other than yourself then you are wasting your time.   You are placing a Band-Aid on an issue that a better body will not help.  You don’t need to go from being out of shape to being a model over night.  Being in shape and working towards a body you’re proud of is way sexier than starving yourself and throwing up.  And stop purposely distracting us at the gym.  My rule at the gym is that your articles of clothing and self-esteem are directly proportionate.  Practically no clothing at the gym, means practically no self esteem at home. 

Ok now on to what you can do! No money? You don’t need a gym membership.  The ground is earth’s treadmill.  Exercises like squats, pushups, pull-ups, and crunches require space, not equipment. No time?  One hour.  One hour a week is all I ask for.  Three workouts, no less than twenty minutes each.  I don’t really care what you do as long as you do something.  There is no all-encompassing “perfect” workout.  A lot of working out has to do with what keeps you motivated.  So pick some exercises (cross fit and the 4 hour body is a good place to start, google it).  The Internet is full of information on how to workout out.  No motivation?  Working out does a lot more than make your body look cool.  It’s a good stress reliever.  It’ll help you sleep better. It helps you clear your head.  It makes you take time out of your day to be selfish and focus only on yourself.   When done the right way, it can build camaraderie with friends.  It’ll actually give you more energy.  You will get stronger.  Our bodies are amazing.  You would be really surprised what we can put them through and the way they respond.  They actually like when you use them instead of spending 30 mins sitting on your couch watching American idol.  Still no? ok, forget “working out”.  Choose from the following: Go on a hike, swim in the ocean, take a bike ride, play with kids, help someone move, do yard work, play a sport, take time after dinner to walk around the block, spend time running around the beach.  There are a lot of everyday activities that be construed as working out.  Changing the channel, however, does not count as one.  Once again, working out isn’t all about making yourself look good in those self mirror pictures you send to your significant other.  It’s about having the confidence of being a healthier, more able person.  It’s about asking your body to do certain things, and have it respond in a way that creates joy happiness in your life. 

 Just go do it.    

Friday, December 23, 2011

Grass Fed Friday

Eating healthy is a very important topic in everyone’s life.  With heart disease at an all time high it might be time to take a look at our diets rather than our genetics.  I’ve picked a subject that I feel is very crucial to this – meat.

I’m going to attempt to not gross you out as much as possible, but it’s kind of a gross subject.  First of all, I eat meat. I have no problem with vegetarians and vegans, if that’s your conviction.  I support responsibly killing animals, but I don’t find a problem with killing animals so that I can grow big and strong.  Do I think that big business is to blame for this? No.  You are.  Population grew. Demand grew.  How can we make twice the amount of meat in half the amount of time for half the price? Corn and Soy.  Both of these two ingredients were fed to cattle to fatten them up in half the amount of time.  Antibiotics and drugs (including growth hormone) were also pumped in them to make sure the process went smoother.  Steers that were killed at ages 4-5 are now killed at 16 months.  Grain fed cows are fatter and fat tastes good, right?  On top of all this, businesses plop them in feedlots where they sit in their own piss, poo, farts, and disease.  They have no room to graze and live.  That’s why they need antibiotics.  Oh and just in case you didn’t know – Corn – isn’t a vegetable.  It’s a grain.  And you know what else? You ever notice when you eat corn and then poo? Whole kernels- I’m talking undigested, whole kernels show up.  We don’t digest corn properly, and neither do cows.  Last thing, giving cows an “organically grain fed diet” gives cows indigestible, unnatural feed “organically”. Giving cows a corn based diet gives the big companies exactly what they want and what you don’t need – weight gain, and fat accumulation.  

Cows eat grass.  Cows eat flowers. Cows eat shrubs. Cows eat vegetation, naturally.  They walk around pastures and use their muscles.  They rest in the shade of trees. They’re happy.  Happy cows that eat a natural diet don’t have as much fat stored.  They produce more omega-3 fats (those are good), vitamin E, and CLA.  They contain less omega 6’s than grain fed cows and don’t contain the half the amount of saturated fat or cholesterol.  Red Meat can actually be good for you, but like anything don’t over do it.  If they situation arises, chose lean cuts of grain fed beef like filets.  From personal experience, because grass fed beef is leaner be careful not to overcook it.  Yes, it’s more expensive – but with all the money you’re saving by not buying bottled water anymore you’ll be set.  Lastly, the same rule applies for dairy products too.

I’ll hit on it briefly but the same situation applies for chickens and eggs.  Chickens don’t just eat grass.  They like bugs, worms, grains, fruits, and compost piles.  They need to be outdoors too.  The conditions that “normal” chickens live in are more disgusting than the cows.  Some literally can’t even walk.  There is no sun, no exercise, and certainly no cleanliness.  So What did companies start to do? They started throwing out words like “cage free” and “free range”.  When you see these labels take them literally.  Cage free means the chickens don’t live in a cage, nothing more.  Free range means chickens have the availability to go out doors if they want to.  The feed stations are indoors though and they aren’t allowed to go out doors until much later on in their short life.  The doors to go outside are usually small and often unused.  They key word to look for when buying chickens and eggs is “pasture”.  This is the only true version of chickens living in their natural environment.  Natural means healthier chickens with better sources of omega 3’s and vitamins.  They also contain less cholesterol. Oh, and Just in case you didn’t know – egg yolks are supposed to be orange, not yellow. 

These two subjects have tons of more information on the benefits of each.  Google is a good starting point. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Quit Drinking...

No, this isn't about quitting booze.  Although you should probably cut back on that too.  

The first five topics are a response to what you can you do better your life in the event that you don't pass away tomorrow.  Number one is, go buy a water filter, and a reusable water container.  

If a commercial came on and said – “Would you like to save money? Would you like to help keep the oceans clean?  Would you like to eat fresh fish free of environmental contaminants?  Would you like to keep cancer out of your body? Perfect, go buy a Nalgene bottle and a Brita filter. 

In case this comes as any surprise to you, you should probably sit down. (if you’re not already).  Plastic is not good for your body.  This fact becomes more of a reality when the plastic is heated or reused.  Plastic bottles are formed from PET or polyethylene terephthalate.  PET is linked to causing problems with our endocrine system (hormones).  I’m sure we have no clue what our endocrine system does, I sure didn’t.  It basically means that PET is indirectly linked to cancer, cognitive problems, birth defects, learning disabilities, etc.  Will one plastic bottle hurt you? No. The issue here is that we use plastic out of convenience.  Its not that difficult to go to your local supermarket and buy a water container that isn’t made from plastic.  This means that you have to buy a water filter too, fill up the container and lug it around with you where ever you go.  Super difficult right? Naaaaaaaat.  A BPA free bottle could be anywhere from 5 to 25 bucks, and a water filter will save you tons of money in the long run.  The EPA is very stringent on tap water in America, and the FDA is less stringent on bottled water.  40% of bottled water is filtered tap water anyway.  So instead of paying a dollar for Dasani water, go buy at 25 dollar filter and save hundreds of dollars a month. 

Oil is used to make plastic.  Oil is used to transport plastic.  A lot of oil.  So if you complain about war while drinking water out of a plastic bottle, save it.

Recycling is a huge issue regarding plastic bottles.  Plastic can be recycled but the problem is that it doesn’t (haha).  So where does the plastic go? The ocean.  The ocean has currents and those currents pick up the bottles and they all go to the same spot.  Google the Trash Vortex or the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.  Most of this stuff is “out of sight out of mind”, and if that’s the case for you then think about this.  Fish.  You eat them, right? Well if there is contamination in the ocean, specifically plastic, then what do you think winds up in the fishies bellies, on our plates, and then in our bellies? 

So, just in case you’re not dead tomorrow, go help your body, your environment, and your wallet.     

Post before the Posts

Over the course of the next couple of weeks I’ll be doing a mini series on 10 topics. The 10 topics are divided into two categories.  The first one will be called – “but what if I’m not dead tomorrow”, and the second one – “five things you can do just in case you are dead tomorrow”.  

Just a quick precursor before I start these posts.

1. I’m not a tree hugger.  We were put on this earth to be responsible though.  I eat meat, I’ve littered, and I’ve spit my gum out on occasion.  I’m not some crazy protestor that is going to picket for world peace and recycling.  But I believe that as human beings and people that occupy this earth we are to be responsible for ourselves, the generation after us and to protect the things that we give the distinct title of “beautiful”. I just am attempting to help out your quality of life and open up eyes to serious environmental problems that can be helped by the individual, individually. 

2.  I’m not an educator.  I believe that some of the best education is self-education.  So I’ll give you some information and if you feel inclined to further research it on your own, awesome.

3.  If you have further questions, leave a comment.