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Dome Pondering - 2012 Year in Review

Mic check. One, two, three. Mic check. Okay, so we're on, and hey, we're still alive! Stupid Mayans. Welcome to the DP's signature post of the year, the Year in Review. Each year, as we did last (Dome Pondering Year in Review - 2011), we take a look back at the calendar year and prepare for the next one ahead. With a packed and eventful 2012, there is much to delve into and plenty to prepare for in 2013.

Before we do, I'd like to simply thank all of the DP devotees out there for your continued support and interest in this little blog called Dome Pondering. While it seems I've come to say the same thing every time at this part of the year, it bears repeating that this site full of my thoughts and words has grown tremendously over the last three years because of you. It seems the older I become and the less time I have, the more I am able to punch the keys. I don't get it either, and I'm not even going to try to figure it out. Nonetheless, thank you once again. As always, feedback of any kind is very much appreciated.

With that said, let's get this thing started by handing out the traditional thirty-three Pondy awards for 2012.

Complete Pondy Awards History

The Pondy Awards

Crucial Moment of the Year: Sandy Hook Elementary School Mass Shooting Tragedy

Up until a couple of weeks ago, I was sure that the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy would win this year's award (Random Rumblings on Hurricane Sandy's Aftermath). While both are devastating tragedies, one was caused by an unstoppable force of nature, while the other was a senseless and ridiculous tragedy that reflected much more about your destructive society than we cared to notice before it happened. With so many lives lost, many of them innocent children, this event has left this nation hurting and mourning. Unfortunately, it has come to this for us to have some self-reflection of what we value in society (We Have To Do Better: Dealing With Newtown, CT Tragedy). No doubt, the most crucial moment of the year. 

Honorable Mention - Hurricane Sandy Aftermath and Immediate Restoration and Aurora, Colorado Theater Mass Shooting

World Affairs Issues of the Year: Assassination of United States Ambassador, Christopher Stevens, in Libya

This story is such a tragedy. It is the result of a senseless video made here in the U.S. provoking Islamic nations and radicals, which caused one of our own to be killed in Libya. As a result of Christopher Stevens' assassination, we saw turmoil grow in the area, and of course confusion here in the States, as we later discovered this was an act of terrorism. Stevens' death awakened us to the fact that while the poster boy of our view on terrorism, Osama Bin Laden, was killed, our nation is still not finished with defending our freedoms and way of life. 

Honorable Mention - Middle East Violence

Inspirational Story of the Year: John Cena's Make-A-Wish Milestone of 300

A bit of a surprise here for most of you, I'm sure. However, for a performer who is on the road for 350 days of the year to put the effort in to continually grant wishes through the Make-A-Wish foundation is remarkable. He's been noted as flying across the nation just for the day to grant a wish. Cena is currently the most in-demand and most granted wish in the foundation's history. No one is near 300. No athlete. No celebrity. No regular average Joe like you and I. Cena continues to give, and his work, amidst his hectic schedule, is truly inspirational. If he can do it, we surely can help make the world a better place as well. 

Honorable Mention - Oscar Pistorious (Man who ran with blades in the Olympics)

Random Story of the Year: General David Petraeus's Affair and Resignation

This one came out of nowhere and really had far-reaching implications. In fact, who knew about Gen. Petraeus before this scandal? The story was filled with questions about our intelligence and overall security, and of course, just another notch on how sex and turmoil have taken down some of the most decorated and respected people in our society. 

Most Controversial Story of the Year: Trayvon Martin Case

I really believe we won't even know the true story of what happened that night. However, the case raised so many questions about stereotypes, racism, social norms, and overall relations in our country. The black hoodie was never, and probably will never be, as debated as it was this past year. 

Most Overrated Story of the Year: Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes Divorce

My goodness, this story was so blown out of proportion that it is also a strong candidate for the "Just Go Away" award of the Year. Unfortunately, people get divorced. And yes, I understand that these two are celebrities. But the way this divorce was dissected and analyzed in the media was beyond lunacy. Note to the pubs, tabloids, celeb enthusiasts, and gossip magazines: Cruise and Holmes' divorce has no bearing on how we go about our marriages. None. At all. You're overrating this sample, thus, making this an overrated story. 

Honorable Mention - Chris Brown and Drake Bar Fight, Kanye West and Kim Kardashian Relationship, 50 Shades of Grey Trilogy, Birth of Blu Ivy, and Kristen Stewart and Rupert Sanders Twilight Affair

Tune of the Year: Carly Rae Jepsen - "Call Me Maybe" 

Hey, I just met you, and this is craaaaaaaaaazy, but here's my number...

The mere fact you finished that song in your head proves why this song was selected this year. And fellas, just admit you finished it. Yes, you did. You definitely did. 

While it's not necessarily my cup of tea, there is no denying how this song took off, and not in your typical one-hit-wonder kind of way (looking at you Psy! Gagnum Style def fits that criteria). From dances, videos, and flash mobs, to everyone - everyone! - knowing the lyrics to this song, Carly Rae Jespen, definitely hit a gold mine with this song. 

Honorable Mention - Flo Rida: "Good Feeling", Pink: "Blow Me One Last Kiss", Nas: "Don", Melanie Fiona ft. Nas: "Runnin", B.O.B. "Chandelier", Katy Perry: "One That Got Away", and Psy: "Gagnum Style"

Invention of the Year: Instagram

Just when you thought the market for social media has completely crapped out, there are more innovative ways to stay connected being invented. Instagram, recently purchased by Facebook, has been a hit with folks who simply don't want to bother with Facebook's nonsense, bypassing all of it to simply enjoy sharing photos. It's unique to say the least and it's very popular. 

Ok, is it safe to say the social media market has completely maxed out, now?

Honorable Mention - Pinterest

Comeback of the Year: MTA Transit System After Hurricane Sandy

As a New Yorker, it's not every day that I give the MTA credit. Actually, let's be honest, the MTA usually does more things wrong than it does correct. However, the planning prior to Hurricane Sandy, and the immediate restoration of the entire Subway system following the storm is grounds for winning this award. The system was pretty much flooded, yet, the MTA and its staff worked tirelessly to drain subway lines and tunnels, and get New York City up and running. No doubt, the biggest comeback of the year. 

Honorable Mention - Peyton Manning and Adrian Peterson

"The Wishing Well" Award of the Year: Washington D.C. Teamwork

We learned this past election how truly divided this country is on political affairs. There really is a clear and hard contrast on many issues in our nation with very little budging on compromising. Hopefully, we learn that we need each other to truly make America a better place rather than continually trying to tear the opposing view down. We need to be less about blue vs. red, and left vs. right, and more about coming together and getting done what is best for the country. 

"Just Go Away" Award of the Year: Chris Brown and Rhianna

Not necessarily as artists or individuals, but as a couple, these two have become annoying. Stop teasing the "we're getting back together routine" and then the Twitter spat, before putting a lovey-dovey picture of the both of you on Instagram. We get it, you love the attention your once-controversial relationship brings. But it is no longer curious attention, now it's tiring. We're no longer clamoring for Chris Brown to "get his" or for you Rhianna to stay away from him. At this point, sadly, we don't care. Please. Stop being attention seekers and just go away. 

Honorable Mention - Taylor Swift's Songs About Ex-Boyfriends, Racism Towards President Obama, Honey Boo Boo, Westboro Baptist Church, Tom Cruise, and Katie Holmes Divorce News, and Skip Bayless

"Largest Fortitude" of the Year: Hurricane Sandy First Responders

These folks left their own homes which were most likely damaged and being looted as well to help those who were in dire need of shelter and food. Also, there were the select few that braved flooding conditions, and other fatal consequences by saving those who were trapped during the super storm takes a lot of guts to sacrifice the things that these folks did to save others. 

Honorable Mention - Missy Franklin, Joe Girardi's Benching of Alex Rodriguez, Gabby Douglas, and Jennifer Hudson's Whitney Houston tribute at Grammys

"We'll Miss You Award" of the Year: Neil Armstrong

The first person to ever walk on the moon, Armstrong, will forever be a name synonymous with history, and with optimistic thinkers everywhere. 

Honorable Mention - Whitney Houston, Dick Clark, Don Cornelius

"What Were You Thinking" Award of the Year: Governor Mitt Romney Comments About 47 Percent of Nation

This was a stab wound in the campaign of Romney that never stopped bleeding, and really, continues to bleed. Commenting and insulting forty-seven percent of the nation wasn't smart, especially when looking to earn votes. It also didn't help later that week when Romney stated his definition of "middle class" was any household earning between $150K-$200K. Not. Smart. At all. In fact, dude, what were you thinking? 

Honorable Mention - Amar'e Stoudemire Punching Fire Extinguisher, Melky Cabrera Fraud Website to Cover Up Steroid Usage, Replacement Refs Call on Monday Night Football, and Snoop Dog's career change to Snoop Lion

"What a Shame" Award of the Year: Lance Armstrong

Has there been another athlete that has fallen from grace the way Lance Armstrong did in 2012? From being heralded as a Cancer survivor that beat the horrible disease then becoming this large-than-life superhero in the world of bicycling, to being ousted as a big fraud and an even bigger cheat. Armstrong's legacy was one built on a house of cards that eventually came crashing down this year. 

Honorable Mention - Whitney Houston

"Welcome to the Scene" Award of the Year: Jeremy Lin

There were so many viable candidates for this one in 2012, but non really measured up to the time that was "Linsanity". It was an incredible story and enjoyable time that launched Lin from the end of the bench scrub to the talk of the world (Pondering Picture #18). While the star has cooled off, Lin is now a household name, and will forever be linked to the once-in-a-lifetime story in February of 2012. 

Honorable Mention - Carly Rae Jespen, One Direction, Puerto Rico as 51st State, Missy Franklin, Gabby Douglas, Ryan Lochte, Barclays Center, Hunger Games Trilogy, Kate Upton, and Mike Trout

"This Should Have Been Done Before" Award of the Year: Real Discussion on Gun Control Laws

Sadly, this wins the award for 2012, and from the horrible events that took place in Aurora, Co and Newtown, CT, it is very obvious why. We're not safe anywhere in our society it seems, and there needs to be a way to honor the second amendment of the constitution while amending it for modern times. How much more must happen before we do?

"The Incredibles" Award of the Year: Miguel Cabrera Triple Crown

.330 Avg. 44HR. 139 RBI. First Triple Crown accomplished since 1967. It's pretty damn hard to do that. So yeah, he was pretty incredible in 2012. 

Honorable Mention - Michael Phelps, Pablo Sandoval's 3HR in the World Series Game, LeBron James in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals, and Jack Taylor's 138 Point Game (138 Points! And a Range of Emotions)

"We Need to Fix This" Award of the Year: Gun Control Laws

No explanation is needed. Pretty evident and apparent at this point. 

Biggest Letdown of the Year: National Hockey League

Now, I'm no hockey enthusiast, but the mere fact that the NHL continues its labor dispute is a major, major letdown. I thoroughly enjoyed the Stanley Cup Finals last year along with the story of the Los Angeles Kings. During a time when our country is struggling in terms of its economics, it is thoroughly disappointing to see owners and players squabbling over millions. 

And once again, this is from someone who is not crazy about hockey. Last December during the NBA lockout, I wasn't sure I would make it. Hockey fans must be going crazy. 

Honorable Mention - Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Idiot of the Year: New York Jets Organization

Mayor Bloomberg was very close to receiving this award for almost going through with the New York City Marathon immediately following Hurricane Sandy. However, at least he followed the advice of others and came around to what was right. The New York Jets continue to take idiocy to a new level. From the ineptitude of bringing on Tim Tebow, the flubbing of every situation, the continual babying of Mark Sanchez, to the continued ridiculous remarks made by coaches and upper management, the Jets have found themselves as the laughing stock of the Sports world, and yes, this year's Idiot of the Year. 

Honorable Mention - Rob Parker of ESPN, Skip Bayless, Miami Marlins owner, Jeff Loria, and Mother of girl with "I Enjoy Vagina" shirt in school

Dome Pondering Person of the Year: Sandy Hook School Teachers and Faculty

As the days go by, we hear the heroic stories from that dreadful day in Newtown, Connecticut where teachers made many gusty, heroic, and most of all, sacrificial, decisions for the betterment of the students. From the stories of teachers pulling students from oncoming gunfire, hiding students in classrooms, and even the ultimate sacrifice of throwing themselves in front of bullets for students, all of them are simply acts that leave us speechless in thought. Not to be forgotten are the teachers and faculty who escorted students out of the building with leadership and poise. Everyone involved showed the type of courage in an unfortunate situation that protected the lives of hundreds of children. Some, unfortunately, dying for the cause. Heroism personified. 

Pay-Per-View Event of the Year: TNA Bound For Glory

Whether it was pro wrestling, boxing, or MMA, there were solid events all around. However, the nod goes to TNA Wrestling's biggest of the year, Bound For Glory, which provided end-to-end, nonstop action. An event where three hours went by very quickly. 

Honorable Mention - WWE Wrestlemania 28, TNA Slammiversary, and UFC 148

Pro Wrestling Match of the Year: Bobby Roode vs. Austin Aries - TNA Destination X

An awesome match that really helped launch the career of Austin Aries (More Than a Destination (X), But a New Beginning). The win was completely out of surprise after the eight-month reign of Bobby Roode at the top of the helm of TNA Wrestling. The match solidified the future of TNA and also helped the reclamation project that was the X-Division. 

Honorable Mention - WWE Wrestlemania 28 - Triple H vs. The Undertaker and Bound For Glory - James Storm vs. Bobby Roode

Pro Wrestling Tag Team of the Year: Bad Influence (TNA)

Kazarian and Christopher Daniels were flat-out one of the most entertaining acts in all of pro wrestling in 2012. From the improved mic work of Kazarian to the goofy entrances, and superb character development, Bad Influence has become must-see television. And yeah, you can't deny the work they do as a tag team, and as singles wrestlers. WWE's Team Hell No wasn't bad as well, but Bad Influence clearly wins this award. 

Honorable Mention - Team Hell No (WWE)

Female Pro Wrestler of the Year: AJ Lee (WWE)

She may not be much of an in-ring talent, but AJ has been a part of some of WWE's biggest storylines in 2012. From her days as Monday Night Raw General Manager to her current thwart with John Cena, AJ has become more of a household name than most in the pro wrestling industry. 

Honorable Mention - Tara (TNA) and Miss Tessmacher (TNA)

Male Pro Wrestler of the Year: Bully Ray (TNA)

Last year, Bully Ray was absolutely solid in his work, but just fell short of the award due to a huge breakout year for CM Punk. This year, Bully not only continues his string of solid work but he's stepped his game up. Ray is a rare talent in the industry that understands the nuances, as it's evident in his ability to connect to the crowd every single night. And as for his in-ring work, he continues to have tremendous match after match. Bully Ray is always an entertaining segment, and that's exactly what the pro wrestler of the year should be. 

Honorable Mention - Bobby Roode (TNA), John Cena (WWE), CM Punk (WWE), Jeff Hardy (TNA), and Austin Aries (TNA)

Sports Event of the Year: Super Bowl XLVI - New York Giants vs. New England Patriots

For a Jets fan, watching the Giants and Patriots again was bittersweet. Of course, it's tough to know that one of these two teams will hoist the Lombardi trophy, but sweet because the game was riveting. Not the classic that the original meeting between the two was, but just as good. Defensive stances. The tremendous pass by Eli Manning to Mario Manningham. And the dropped pass by Wes Welker. Superbowl 46 was great stuff all around. 

Honorable Mention - Euroleague Championship

Derek Jeter Flip Play Award of the Year: Eli Manning's Pass to Mario Manningham

How perfect of a pass was this? Eli Manning seems to always get criticism for being lucky with the David Tyree catch, however, there is no knocking this one. The placement. The touch. The strength. And the poise. All remarkable. 

On the other end, Manningham's ability to catch the ball over his shoulder and keep his feet in bounds, all while having a defender draped all over him - is just as remarkable.

All of this was during a very pivotal point of the game that helped start the game-winning drive. 

Honorable Mention - Jeremy Lin's Three Point Winner vs. Toronto, Lionel Messi back kick goal, Blake Griffin Dunk on Kendrick Perkins, Blake Griffin Dunk of Pau Gasol, and Thierry Henry Corner Kick Goal

Coach of the Year: Tom Coughlin

No matter how many times the New York media and the National critics put him on the hot seat, Coughlin continues to silence the doubters with historic runs, and Super Bowl trophies. Coughlin has lead the Giants in various situations where their backs have been against the wall, and simply continues to win. And oh yeah, he does it in a very classy way. 

Honorable Mention - Bruce Bochy

Team of the Year: San Francisco Giants

The World Series winner overcame several odds to win it all this year. Being down 3-0 in the NLDS and 3-1 in the NLCS and coming back to win both series. Defeating the heavily favored Detroit Tigers. And doing so with several injuries and fill-ins who suddenly seemed to be channeling their inner Babe Ruth (looking at you Marco Scutaro!). The story told by this year's Giants was awesome.

Honorable Mention - Miami Heat and Los Angeles Kings

Dome Pondering Sportsman of the Year: LeBron James

Oh, how things have changed, huh? And to be honest, James deserves all of the accolades he's gotten this year. One of the greatest playoff performances ever seen in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals. NBA MVP. NBA Championship. NBA Finals MVP. Olympic Gold Medal. And even a restored image.

Most impressive was James' ability to do all of this while under public scrutiny and under intense pressure to win a championship. It was good to see James finally "get it" as an athlete, eventually putting it all together to become what is rightfully his - the title of the greatest athlete in the world today. 

Honorable Mention - Michael Phelps, Eli Manning, Miguel Cabrera, and Missy Franklin


Final Countdown...

All year I've stressed the issue of "growing up" and how important it was for me to do so in 2012. It wasn't a simple ode to stop being childish, but one to begin maturing and changing many aspects of my life to meet the challenges that lay before me in this race called life. It was a challenge for myself to begin doing things the right way and most importantly, making the most of my time. The latter, being something I've always been tough on myself to do over the past three years, was my main focus even if I struggle with it.

In 2012, I've really modified and overhauled many aspects of my life. While there are many parts that are a complete success, there are just as many that I need to continue to work on.

But that's okay. As we close out 2012, I'm happy with the progress yours truly has made in the past 365 errr...366 days. Forgot that pesky leap day this year. 

I've managed physically to continue to improve, and in some ways, do things that doctors did not think were possible in my birth. I've continued to enjoy forging fitness into my life, but have also trained for and completed two 5K races this year, with one of them being a mud and obstacle course competition.

Mentally, I've come to grips that there is a time for a boy to step up and take leadership, of not only his immediate household, but also that of caring for parents, family, and friends. I've always shied away from leadership situations well in part because of my laid-back attitude, and really, I never saw myself as having leadership qualities. However, over the years with my parents leaning more on me now as they've started their retirement years, a continued growing marriage, and being a source of strength, confidence, and guidance for friends, I feel as if God has thrown me this year in a leadership role in many ways.

No better training than on-the-job, and there is no better example of my growth than that very change.

And finally, spiritually, it seems the more I grow, and the more of these Year in Reviews I write, the more I realize how far God has brought me, and probably will take me around this time in 2013.

I'm still not perfect, and very, very, very far from it. I'm sure my wife can attest to that. However, the good Lord has continued to show me the way in a world that seems crueler each and every day I exist. Now I know the world has always been this bad, but every day, I feel as if a layer of our innocence is removed and the sheer wickedness, selfishness, and dare I say, stupidity, of this world is exposed. It's reoccurring desensitization. Sometimes simply challenging us in the most direct ways to either join in or be forced into the lifelong battle against it. And let's be honest, we've all had our days when we simply give in. I know I do.

The situations we've seen this past year in Aurora, Colorado, and Newtown, Connecticut really drive that home for me. It's then supported further by the news that picks away at our souls every day.

How can people think to do that to others? Is this real life?

And then of course, there is always that question of "why?" that leaves things open-ended and feeds the beast of this wicked, selfish, and stupid world. Sometimes we don't have the answers to many things, and that drives us crazy. We need to be equipped. We need to be in control. We all want answers. However, when situations occur that cause those holes to remain void, we're left wondering pondering in a state of hopelessness that ultimately kills our souls and our outlook on life. Thus - victory, evil.

For me, personally, that is embodied in Hurricane Sandy.

With life so short, why do we treat each other the way we do?

However, in an environment where it seems a newly revealed enemy and the expense of our innocence armor diminishing on a daily basis, it's vital to stay ahead, with growth...and God.

In the 2008 Year in Review, I stated:

And despite it all, I may not understand it in it's entirety, but I am better equipped as this life evolves. And although this world seems to embrace the negative over the positive in every opportunity that arises, sticking to ones character, soul, and faith is the greatest tool for survival.
"There are three things that will endure - faith, hope, and love..."
1Corinthians 13:13

And it is a continued battle each and every morning to grow and get better. To stick to one's character, soul, and faith.

However, in that process, the one aspect I learned in this growth is that life is indeed fragile, and sometimes the best way to indeed fight this war against wickedness, selfishness, and stupidity is not by just focusing on improving ourselves individually, but by helping and living with one another.

Isn't that the true meaning of the Christmas spirit we just celebrated?

Isn't that the only way to make a change in this wicked, selfish, and stupid world?

Isn't that what LIFE is about? Our relationships to one another and to our God?

As we close 2012 and continue to grow...and yes, shed...we will continue to be challenged to the core of our souls to not succumb to what is easiest - wickedness, selfishness, and stupidity.

Simply, we need to continue to grow.

As we each strengthen individually, let's look to defeat that very wickedness, selfishness, and stupidity with the ultimate weapon of living LIFE to its fullest - by helping one another, and living in that very moment doing so.

I urge you to take a look at the world right now. Think about Sandy Hook Elementary. Think about ways you can help. Think about ways you can grow. Ways you can change.

Do not withhold good to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.
-Proverbs 3:27

It's not about you. It's not about material things. It's about LIFE.

And God is calling you to live that LIFE.

In 2013, how will you respond?

Happy New Year!

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