Monthly Snapshot – January 2014

Welcome to a new recurring post: The Monthly Snapshot


This post is written partially for my sister Natalie, who is currently on an 18 month mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon). She is in Panama working to inform people about her religion and provide service to the community. 

My sister Natalie, helping other people.

Including her, there are about 75,000 Mormon missionaries serving 18 to 24 month missions. In their day to day adventures, they have limited access to the news and current events. When they return home, there are a few events of importance they may have heard of briefly, or not heard of at all. When it comes to popular culture, they only know what they’ve overheard on the street and seen on billboards.

I am sure there are other similar groups who are abroad on adventures serving others – deployed soldiers, members of the Peace Corps, people abroad providing service for non-profit organizations, and on and on.

When people return from such intense experiences separated from average daily life, it is similar to when Bilbo returns from his long journey to Lonely Mountain and back. He has seen things those at home could barely imagine, had life-changing experiences, and proved himself braver than he ever believed he could be. Yet, when he returns home it may be helpful to know of any tensions between the Sackvilles and the Brandybucks, what everyone’s been reading, and what the latest culinary wonder is.

What happens in the Shire stays in the Shire…
Mostly, because people tend not to wander far.

The goal of this project is to take a snapshot of the month’s events, basically a Cliffsnotes version of current events and popular culture. If there are any events you think will be helpful to know in 1-2 years, please mention it in the comments below.

DISCLAIMER: I am trying to report things as factually as possible. While a few items will have opinion, most things are listed as honestly as possible. Also, some of the music, television, or movies listed have more adult content than what I’m a fan of.

News Snapshot:

  • After two years of debate, US Congress passes the farm bill. While food stamps are being cut by around 1%, our milk will remain reasonably priced. Winner: Chocolate milk lovers everywhere.
  • There’s still fall out from Edward Snoden’s release of secret information of NSA wire taps. Now Obama has come out with a plan to change how things are done.
  • Millions of credit card numbers and personal information is stolen from Target and Nordstrums.
  • Millions of people in West Virginia couldn’t use their water after a chemical spill.
  • The Eastern half of the United States is covered in a Polar Vortex followed by a deep freeze in the South. This means that there are several feet of snow across dozens of states, air travel is cancelled, schools are closed, businesses closed, all for safety.

Ice has built up along Lake Michigan in Chicago as temperatures have plunged in recent days. A dip in the polar vortex is to blame.

  • Meanwhile, here in California, we had a heatwave (80 to 100 degree weather for a week), and had the governor call an official drought. Dear The Rest Of America: Could you send some of your melted snow our way, so we can have water, and you don’t have floods.

Okay, we do have a lot of water here in California, but it’s mostly sea water. It’s not very good for drinking.

  • There is a Peace Summit in Geneva to end the war in Syria, but violence continues.
  • Russia preps for the Sochi Olympic Games while in midst of controversy over security and human rights issues.

Movie Snapshot

Music Snapshot

  • Justin Bieber continued to do stupid things, but this time got to wear a cool jumpsuit and get a mug shot.
    • Top 10 Singles:
      • Dark Horse by Katy Perry
      • Timber by Pitbull Featuring Ke$ha
      • Counting Stars by One Republic
      • Say Something by A Great Big World & Christina Aguilera
      • The Monster by Enimem Featuring Righanna
      • Talk Dirty by Jason Derulo
      • Leter Her Go by Passenger
      • Team by Lorde
      • Royals by Lorde
      • Pompeii by Bastille
  • (UPDATE) The soundtrack for Frozen is the #1 album, topping Beyonce’s latest album.
  • Pentatonix featured on Sesame Street. (Okay, not world changing, but definitely fun)

Television Snapshot

  • Sherlock returns. (Plus side: It’ll probably be on Netflix by the time my sister gets back.)
  • Top 10 Prime Broadcast Shows According to
    • Grammy Awards
    • NCIS (Which is also #7 on Cable Network TV)
    • 60 Minutes
    • The Big Bang Theory
    • American Idol (Wednesday)
    • American Idol (Thursday)
    • NCIS: Los Angeles
    • Criminal Minds
    • NFL Pro Bowl(s)
    • CSI
  • Peter Capaldi, the latest Doctor on Doctor Who, shows off his new duds


Video Game Snapshot

Top Ten Selling Video Games:

  • Call of Duty: Ghosts
  • Watch Dogs
  • Titanfall
  • Grand Theft Auto V
  • Madden NFL 25
  • Fifa 14
  • Just Dance 2014
  • South Park: The Strick of Truth
  • Destiny
  • Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

Sport Snapshot:

  • I don’t follow sports except for the Olympics, so readers, please help me out in the comments below. I do know the Puppy Bowl was a tie, and the Super Bowl was sad for the Broncos, and fantastic for the Sea Hawks – but that’s February’s news.

If you have any additions, please share them.

Side Note: Here are some of the shenanigans my friends and I got into during Saturday’s Nerd Night (Including a stirring reading of William Shakespeare’s Star Wars).

Mario Kart is always serious business.

An epic round of Telestrations, involving pictures of mythical creatures.

The dogs watching out the window as the epic lightsaber battle ensues.

Boba Fett fell down, but he will get revenge with his lightsaber.

6 thoughts on “Monthly Snapshot – January 2014

  1. Wow you are an awesome sister! You sis should totally appreciate this – it’s a wealth of info. Hope she’s having a wonderful and safe time in Panama!

  2. That’s a nice thing to do for your sister!

    Also, Frozen was quite awesome. Best Disney movie since… well, okay this won’t count because I’m biased when it comes to Tangled and it’s one of my absolute favourites. xD

    The Pentatonix feature was very cool too. 🙂

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