Jun 122019
 

How about a gaming update! We are waiting for Rise of Azshara, the 8.2 patch for the Battle for Azeroth expansion. We know this patch is on the PTR, and Blizzard is teasing us with a plethora of details (some containing spoilers). While I am avoiding the spoilers, I do read about some of the new content including the new zones, encounters and, of course, the new mounts! However, this isn’t about those details. What is there to do while we wait??!

Raiding and AOTC

Ahead of the Curve (AOTC) is an achievement for defeating the final boss of the current raid tier before the release of the next tier. It’s a goal many guilds use as a guideline for remaining in sync with the expansion storyline.

This patch will remove the AOTC achievement for Battle of Dazar’alor. Therefore raid teams are feverishly trying to defeat Jaina on heroic difficulty before the patch drops. Our raid team, however, has already accomplished that (huge props to everyone that made it possible). While we wait for 8.2 we are working on AOTC for Crucible of Storms, which only consists of two bosses and, therefore, shouldn’t be too difficult.

Non-Raid Goals (i.e. ALTS)

We only raid two nights a week and, since a release date hasn’t been announced, we are not in a hurry to bring down Uu’nat. If your only in-game goals are related to raiding then you’re probably pretty bored right now. Me, on the other hand, have 13 other toons that I would like to get to 120.

Currently I have 9 alts at max level (meaning I have 10 characters at 120). I made it a goal to try to get all of them to 120 before 8.2 drops. My main purpose for this is that I neglected my alts during most of the previous expansion. I waited until the final patch to diligently level the alts. I did not accomplish everything I had hoped to do before the expansion ended. Hence my reasons for more proactively leveling my alts.

Leveling Is A Science

I can usually reach level 120 in about two weeks, a little over one week if the Darkmoon Faire is active. I’ve learned there is a science to leveling in Battle for Azeroth. Before you begin leveling an alt, I would highly recommend picking up the 7th Legion Scouting Map (or Honorbound Scouting Map) from the Emissary. This is a Bind on Account item that will discover all the flight points on Kul Tiras and Zandalar on each character it’s used.

Basically I begin by picking one of the zones and I focus on the main storyline for the zone. I will do a couple of side quests along the way, but I keep doing the main quests until I have the quest for the dungeon (which marks the end of the story). Once you have all three storylines completed then you have a choice.

If you focus specifically on the storyline quest chain, you will not hit 120. Depending on how many side quests you do you will still need about 1-2 more levels. I would highly suggest you work on the three war campaigns next. You can wait until 119 if you want, since you will get an item from the first one you complete. I suggest completing these before 120 because you will want the waypoints out to your faction’s respective camps when you unlock World Quests and Faction Assaults.

If you still haven’t hit 120 by the time you complete all three war campaigns then its more side quests or dungeon grinding. And more waiting for Rise of Azshara.

Happy Leveling!

duke-nukem-sm If zombies attack the world, everyone will run and hide. Except for us gamers, of course. We’ve been waiting for this all our lives!

 

 

May 302019
 
Me shooting AR-15 at a shooting range

Firing an AR-15 5.56mm

I get to strike something off the old Things To Do Before You Die (TTDBYD) list. Granted I don’t have a “Bucket List” in any official capacity, but I do keep track mentally. I’ve always wanted to go to a shooting range. In fact I’ve thought about purchasing a gun and I’ve even done some research into concealed carry permits.

However, this wasn’t just a typical trip to the shooting range, otherwise it wouldn’t really be a bucket list item. There are different types of guns I’ve always wanted to fire, in a safe and instructor lead environment, and that’s what this opportunity was about. The instructor, from Crusader Tactical, brought quite a few different fire arms for us to try out. As you can see from the photo, the AR-15 is one of them.

Which Firearms Did You Shoot?

As I stated previously, it wouldn’t be much of a bucket list item if I were just shooting a pistol since I have several friends who own one. This experience was unique because of the variety of pistols and rifles available to shoot. I have always wanted to fire a 12 gauge shotgun and an AR-15, and this gave me the opportunity to do that. Here are the firearms we were trained to use and fire safely:

RiflesPistols
Mosin Nagant 7.62X59 (bolt action)Ruger Single Action .22 Pistol
Winchester 30-30 (lever action)Ruger .357 Magnum
Mosberg 12 Guage Pump (shotgun)Ruger LC9 9mm
Marlin .22 (tube fed rifle)Sig Sauer P320 9mm
AR-15 5.56mm

The firearms I enjoyed the most are the Sig Sauer, the Mosberg 12 gauge and the (dreaded) AR-15. The AR-15 is the most infamous weapon in the media today because it’s been used in many horrific acts against innocent people. I can tell you, after firing one, it is not easy to hit a target as a novice. You cannot simply pick up an AR-15 and start picking people off. I never felt like I was in any danger. Guns are only dangerous if you do something stupid, just like driving a car. I goof around a lot but I did not goof around at the shooting range. I didn’t want to feel uncomfortable therefore I didn’t want to put anyone else in a state of discomfort.

How Did It Make You Feel?

A common question I get is whether I was scared or nervous? I was never scared, however I was a bit nervous at the start, perhaps even mildly intimidated. I have never been standing next to someone while they are firing a gun. Also, I have never fired a gun. The honest truth is the more time I spent trying the different firearms, the more comfortable I felt. In fact, it was fun.

After 2 hours, all 5 of us walked away. Still breathing, all limbs in tact, and no holes. I did not walk away with a God complex, thinking I now have the power to chose who lives and who dies. I’m already thinking about when I can go back and do it again. In fact, the next time I go back, it might be for the 8 hour safety and training course required for a CCW. Actually, I might be going back to fire my own gun as I definitely want to purchase a pistol (perhaps a Sig Sauer). While shooting the rifles is a lot of fun, I don’t feel the need to own any rifles at this time. Although … I do have a daughter; the sound of pumping a 12 gauge shotgun might be useful around the dating age. 😈

/cheers

minions_icon

I could accomplish so much more if I only had minions!

 

May 152019
 
Flying Pig 10K

FitBit map of the 10K

Two years ago I got this crazy notion to run a 5k for the first time. Following the success of that first 5K, I ran in the same Flying Pig 5K a year later. Since that day I am running 3.1+ miles every day so going for the hat trick didn’t make sense because it wouldn’t be a challenge. Therefore, the most logical decision is to up my game and go for the 10K. On May 4th (aka Star Wars Day) I completed my first ever 10K race which not only fulfilled a New Years Intention but also my Bad Idea Birthday Challenge obligation. The image on the left was taken from the FitBit app after I completed the race (click the image to enlarge it).

Training for the Race

I prepared for the 10K by still running 5 days a week, the change was how far I was running. Four days out of the week I increased the distance to 4+ miles and on the 5th day I would try running over 5 miles. I never actually ran 6 miles while training. This 10K is supposed to be a challenge for me and if I can run 6 miles before the day of the race, then it’s not really a challenge.

I also began doing additional exercises prior to running. These exercises mostly consisted of crunches or sit-ups, lifting free weights, perhaps even a warm up on the recumbent bike. I increased how much water I drunk and decreased my meal portions and soda consumption.

Flying Pig 2020

So now that I have a 10K under my belt, what is the next challenge? The next highest race at the Flying Pig is a Half Marathon, which is 13.1 miles; more than double a 10K. I really don’t think my knees are ready for that; and I’m not entirely confident they will be ready in a year. Now that I have 6.2 miles under my belt, I plan to try to work that into a weekly routine.

So, with that said, the plan right now is to run a 15K in 2020. Since the Half Marathon is the next highest race at the Flying Pig, that means I will sign up to run both the 10K and the 5K (they occur at different times), hence 15K. If I can accomplish 9.3 miles without feeling like I’m going to fall apart, then I will consider the Half Marathon in 2021.

May 072019
 

Why do I find it so difficult to talk about the passing of a man I never knew but who was also a huge part of my life? Last week we lost our favorite Wookie. Peter Mayhew portrayed our beloved Chewbacca through 40 years and 5 movies. Chewie was more than a character to Peter, he was apart of who he was (much like C-3PO is to Anthony Daniels, except maybe not quite as eccentric). It’s so easy to forget that the actors are not as immortal as the characters they have brought to life. While the characters will live on forever losing someone like Peter Mayhew (or Carrie Fisher and Kenny Baker) still feels like you lost an awesome family member whom you never met. It feels trite but suffice it to say, thank you Peter Mayhew; thank you for making Chewie real for us.

My Favorite Chewbacca Moment

Chewbacca is probably the most beloved character in the Star Wars franchise and among the best characters in the history of film. It’s hard to choose a favorite moment because Chewie has so many of them. Peter portrayed Chewie in five of the Skywalker Saga films (Revenge of the Sith, A New Hope, Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens). If I have to pick a favorite moment and, given that my favorite movie of the saga is Empire Strikes Back, then it’s when Luke is preparing to leave and bids Han and Chewie farewell, Chewie suddenly hugs Luke. It always brings a smile to my face.

Remembering Peter Mayhew

Click to enlargeI have been to two Celebration events, 2002 and this year (2019); and at both events I saw Peter Mayhew, but just in passing. In 2002 he was walking around the convention floor, on his way to his autograph session. He would stop occasionally to take pictures with fans, always with the same goofy smirk you often see in all his convention photos. I regret never signing up for a picture or autograph. The picture on the left is one I took as I was passing by his autograph session. My daughter tells me he turned and smiled at her before we walked away.

As you can see the actors that knew him well had wonderful things to say about Peter. A “gentle giant” that loved his work, loved the franchise and loved his fans. It’s sucks saying good-bye but, as Luke said, “Nobody’s ever really gone”.

Thank you Peter Mayhew and May the Force Be With You.

Breathe. Just breathe. Now reach out.

Apr 282019
 

Avengers Endgame

Avengers: Endgame

Directed By: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo

My Rating:

Despite the looming “Superhero Burnout“, this movie is crushing it at the box office. It is already breaking the same records The Force Awakens broke four years ago. I fully expect this film to continue to break records set by Star Wars, including top grossing movie of all time in the domestic box office. Honestly, I’m glad it’s a Marvel movie too.

In the spirit of the #DontSpoilTheEndgame trend, this is a SPOILER FREE movie review, however if you have not seen Infinity War yet, then consider this your **spoiler alert**!! It is impossible to talk about this movie without talking about the events of the previous film.

Half of the living things in the universe, including half the Avengers, are gone; wiped out with a single snap. Thanos has vanished to bask in the balance he has created. Meanwhile the remaining Avengers are trying to piece the world back together and move on. However “moving on” will not be something they are willing to do, especially when Scott Lang shows up with an idea.

Biggs’ Review

This is a pretty amazing movie, though I do have one particular complaint, which I will get to shortly. This movie has quite a few epic moments, one of which I know many fans have been waiting for since Age of Ultron. I will not say what that is so as to remain spoiler free but I think you will know it when you see it, and deem it “worthy”. This movie is quite the finale for the Avengers Initiative. One of my favorite parts happens during and end credit montage. This is not a spoiler. The signatures of Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo and Jeremy Renner are shown as if to signify the signing of their magnum opus. This is such a fitting tribute.

Is This The Best Movie I’ve Seen?

No, not by a long shot. In all fairness I almost gave this movie 4 stars. There is a particular plot mechanic that is rarely done well and Bruce Banner’s rationale is pretty insufficient, in my opinion. There is also a “passing of the torch” moment which does not particularly coincide with canon (at least from what I’ve read); however, it is still pretty cool. Be that as it may, the way in which they wrap up the story’s of a few of the character’s is brilliant and well done … and emotional. After the movie ended, my first instinct was not to see it again; at least not right away. The main reason being the 3 hour run time. Actually I feel more inclined to watch all the other movies again!

This movie is a magnum opus and truly a fitting end of the past 11 years and 21 movies. The feeling I had leaving this movie will probably be much the same feeling I will have leaving The Rise of Skywalker. A sense of emotional finality; these are characters that not just defined our lives, but a generation. Watching these events come to an end feels akin to a graduation or major life milestone. The events and the people of the years prior make up the journey we all had to take. Sometimes the end is hard because we endured so much to get here, but we grew along the way. We form bonds and relationships with people, real or fictional. It’s the journey that’s worth celebrating at the end but it’s also what makes it difficult. After all, part of the journey is the end.

#ThankYouAvengers

film_reel“The screen is a magic medium. It has such power that it can retain interest as it conveys emotions and moods that no other art form can hope to tackle.”
– Stanley Kubrick