Jan 092021
 

I’m a week late with this post but, as I said in my review, 2020 sucked so better late than never! As a result of the unusual circumstances and the shutdowns, the increased stress interfered a bit with my 2020 goals. While I know that merely changing years won’t eliminate the virus or the stress it causes, I’m hopeful that this year won’t be as awful as last year. We are ahead of the virus and there are at least two vaccines that are FDA approved (as of the time of this writing). I’m looking forward to getting back out to the zoo and the ballpark. Therefore the first of my 2021 New Years intentions is to remain hopeful and optimistic about this year.

Biggs Labs – Smart Home/Professional Development

2021 New Years Projects IntentionsThis suffered the most from my mental state as a result of the shutdowns. I did not make a lot of progress on many of my technical goals. I didn’t touch the Smart Things and Raspberry Pi integration. Honestly, I don’t know if I will get to it this year or not. I have a higher priority to update the Gift List web application I wrote. While I didn’t make a lot of coding progress on the gift list revamp, I have spent a bit of time designing the changes and making a list of updates and new features. I hope to begin this development immediately.

This blog site will also get some love this year. Apparently I have to find a new theme. I have been using Suffusion for several years, however I recently found out WordPress is no longer approving the theme. Their reason is “it doesn’t meet requirements”; I’m very disappointed in WordPress. So I will be hunting for a new theme. If any of you are WordPress admins, shoot me your theme suggestions.

Finally, I need to find something new to learn. Some kind of coding language or library. I’m stuck in a rut and feeling bored with programming so I need something to restore my enthusiasm.

2021 Goodreads Reading Challenge

2021 New Years Reading Challenge Intentions I’m setting my reading challenge goal to 15 with the hope that I will exceed it. Last year I was 40% away from finishing my 15th book so with a little more diligence I think I can easily meet the goal, and surpass it. The Dresden Files will, again, be the books that help me reach my goal. I’ve started book 11 so it’s possible I may catch up this year (there are now 18 books).

I’m thinking about reading The Inheritance Series again; I’m a big fan of Paolini’s work and I’m excited to read about Eragon again. I will cover the books I read for the 2020 Reaching Challenge in a separate post.

2021 New Years Health Goals

My health goals are going to look a little different this year. The effects of the stress and anxiety of 2020 still linger and, while I don’t expect things to magically improve in 2021, I can control how it affects me, mentally.

Physical Fitness Goals

2021 New Years fitness goalsIn 2020 I was supposed to complete a 15K at the Flying Pig. Obviously that was cancelled but that didn’t stop me from setting some new goals. I tried to run as often as possible to keep in good health. The doctors were telling me that one of the best methods for staying healthy amid the virus was to keep exercising. I improved my daily running distance to 5+ miles a day. On my push days I am exceeding 8 miles but I have not reached 9 miles yet (a 15K is approximately 9.3 miles).

I don’t know what I will do this year in regards to the Flying Pig. Currently their website states you can sign up for a virtual run with the option to change to in-person if health officials allow large gatherings. My original plan was to run the half this year, but that was assuming I would have run a 15k in 2020. As of this writing my thoughts are that if I go virtual I will stick with the 15k plan; I would rather run the half marathon in person since that is my apex running goal.

Mental Health (aka Get Organized)

Everyone’s mental health suffered from 2020. Anyone that denies it is lying to themselves. It will be a few months before we start to see improvements in the current pandemic but we can begin to heal our mental health. The methods for doing this will be different for every person. Personally I am going to do it by getting organized. There have been studies that show getting organized has been known to improve sleep and reduce stress and anxiety.

When I was in college I was a bit of a clean freak; it seems now I’ve become to lazy to be that person but I can change that. I can let my OCD take over again and clean more often. There are places around the house that can use the “get organized” treatment. However, getting organized isn’t just a physical activity. I use my iPad to take a lot of notes (because my memory is garbage); those notes need to be re-organized for brevity and searchability. This will help me be better organized at work.

Finally I need to ignore or remove the toxicity and vitriolic abuse of social media. Everyone treats Facebook and Twitter like its their pulpit for political and controversial influence. The truth you’re not changing anybody’s mind because everyone is braver behind a keyboard. I’m tired of going to these places and getting angry because people spew nonsense so I will be frequenting Twitter less and blocking/hiding/muting posts/people on Facebook that say things with the clear intent of inciting violence or hate.

Again, this post grows most verbose so time to end it here.

/cheers

minions_icon

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

 

Jan 042021
 

Wonder Woman 1984Wonder Woman 1984 IMDB Link

Directed By: Patty Jenkins
Starring: Gal Gadot, Kristin Wiig, Pedro Pascal

My Rating:

While this is my first movie review of 2021, I did not see this movie in 2021. In fact we watched this film on New Years Eve, so technically I saw this movie last year. However since it was a movie we watched in the evening, I did not have time to write up a review before 2020 ended. I think we were all ready for 2020 to be over.

The year is 1984 (obviously, by the title) and Diana is still going about her day covertly rescuing people and stopping crime. Although it’s been 40 years, she still laments the death of Steve Trevor and seems to accept the fact that she will always be alone. She befriends Barbara Minerva, a socially awkward archeologist and anthropologist who finds a particularly powerful artifact. An artifact that grants wishes, but at a terrible cost. Now she must stop The Cheetah and Max Lord from abusing the power of this “dream stone”. 

Biggs’ Review

I am really surprised to find so many low and harsh reviews of this movie. I’ll admit it isn’t as good as the first movie but I, honestly, didn’t think it was terrible. There isn’t as much action but Chris Pine provides sufficient comic relief. I really enjoyed Pedro Pascal’s (aka The Mandalorian) performance as Max Lord. Actually, if I’m being honest, Kristin Wiig is an excellent villain. I’m used to seeing her in more comedic roles (ex: Bridesmaids) so when she becomes full on Cheetah, she looks pretty damn badass.

My harshest criticism would probably be the end. The tactic Wonder Woman uses to “defeat” Max Lord is a little corny. Granted Wonder Woman’s whole philosophy is built on the power of truth (hence the “Lasso of Truth”) so it fits the character. Unfortunately human kind is not so willing to embrace truth so its difficult to believe that she can easily convince the world to “renounce their wishes”. I’m also not really sold on the way in which Max Lord “touches” millions of people via a satellite broadcast. I feel like that whole scenario wasn’t entirely thought out.

Initially I wanted to give this movie 3.5 stars but the addon only supports whole numbers. Since I would consider watching this movie again I decided to go ahead and bump it up to 4 stars. I think Patty Jenkins did the best she could with the script she was given. I’m excited to see what she does for the Rogue Squadron movie; hopefully she will have better screenplay writers.

What did you think of Wonder Woman 1984?

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

 

Jan 012021
 

2020 Year In ReviewWhy in the world would I want to review 2020?? Without a doubt it has been the worst year for everyone. God willing none of us will ever experience another year like 2020. It has been a cruel year for all. We’ve all experienced grief, fear, anxiety, denial, selfishness; but we’ve also experienced hope, perseverance, kindness, and heroism. While we praised the heroic efforts of some we spurned the foolish and parochial choices of the “I won’t live in fear” crowd.

I pray for the health and safety of our frontline workers, for the ones who didn’t make it and for all of us that have survived. If there is one thing we should take away from this year it should be to never take anything for granted; especially doctors, nurses, teachers, and grocery store clerks. I hope 2021 is a year of rebuilding and recovery and the return of civil discourse.

In Memoriam

I know this year has been so vicious and I know it sucks starting out on a somber note but I just want to get it out of the way. Every year I mention notable celebrities that passed but I don’t want to just remember them. The hardest losses this year are those that succumbed to this terrible virus. The frontline folks that gave everything trying to keep the rest of us safe and healthy; their heroism will never be forgotten. I am NOT trying to overshadow their sacrifice by mentioning these celebrities.

In fact, for brevity, I’m doing it different this year. I actually started out typing out quite a bit about these folks but I’m going to simplify it into one paragraph. In television and film we lost Alex Trebek (80 – cancer), Regis Philbin (88 – natural causes), Kirk Douglas (103 – undisclosed), Sean Connery (90 – pneumonia), David Prowse (85 – COVID-19), Jeremy Bulloch (75 – Parkinsons), Kelly Preston (57 – cancer), Grant Imahara (49 – aneurysm), Carl Reiner (98 – natural causes), Fred Willard (86 – natural causes) and Jerry Stiller (92 – natural causes). In sports and music Kobe Bryant (41 – helicopter crash), Gale Sayers (77 – dementia), Jon Huber aka Luke Harper (41 – undisclosed), Jay Johnstone (74 – COVID-19), Joe Morgan (71 – polyneuropathy) and Whitey Ford (91 – undisclosed). The music industry lost Eddie Van Halen (65 – cancer) and Little Richard (87 – cancer), Joe Diffie (61 – COVID-19) and Kenny “The Gambler” Rogers (81 – natural causes). Thank you for the memories and joy you brought us and Rest in Peace.

2020 Year In Review: Movies

Seeing a movie was different in 2020. By the end of March all the theaters were shutdown and they remained that way for half the year. When they did reopen, it wasn’t in every state and only at partial capacity. Needless to say we did not see any movies in the theaters. However that didn’t stop us from watching movies that were “released” on streaming services instead. While it was kind of nice to still see new releases, albeit in limited supply, I still cannot wait to return to the theater. I pray that they survive this pandemic. Here are the movies we watched in 2020 (although some were not released in 2020), click the links to read the reviews:

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood and Saving Mr. Banks are based on true stories, Mr. Rogers and The Making of Mary Poppins (respectively). I am often a sucker for true stories, depending on who they are about. In this case the true story of Mr. Rogers is the best of this lot. If you grew up watching Mister Rogers Neighborhood then it’s a must see. Actually, if you grew up watching Mary Poppins then Saving Mr. Banks is also a must see.

Onward is actually pretty good and something I would watch again. Trolls World Tour, on the other hand, isn’t really worth your time. It only made the list for us because we have a young kid who loves Trolls and it was her birthday present. We managed to sneak in one last movie on New Years Eve, the latest Wonder Woman film (a review will come later).

FitBit Stats and Walk to Mordor

Running Pace 5mph

My pace according to the Sheriff’s department

This year I finished the Walk to Mordor challenge on September 16th, which I believe is about two weeks sooner than the year before. Therefore, using a simple Year-Over-Year calculation, I had a 75% growth in completing the challenge sooner. Here are my 2020 FitBit stats:

  • 4,682,221 steps 
  •  2,433.25 miles 
  • ** arrows indicate changes from previous year

I had over 300,000 more steps from the previous year and approximately 180 more miles. To finish the And Back Again portion of the challenge, I need an additional 1,625 miles. After completing the Walk to Mordor challenge I went another 652 miles. This means I need just under 1,000 miles to try to finish the “And Back Again” challenge. I doubt I will achieve it this year, but I think I can make some more progress toward it.

Happy New Year to one and all. I hope 2021 is safe and much kinder to all of us. Please think of more than yourself this year and perhaps then we can truly get through this together.

/cheers

“The more you know, the more you know you don’t know.” – Aristotle

 

Dec 252020
 

I know this has been an awful year but, personally, it still feels like Christmas; albeit it a little different. We are doing virtual Christmas this year but the families on both sides are really awesome about it. They are participating in the Christmas-from-afar with every ounce of joy and excitement. I am equally as excited to celebrate this joyous time despite the terrible year.

I know it’s going to be hard for some but I pray that you still find happiness and joy that comes with Christmas. The vaccines are on the way and so far things are going well with their distribution and administering. I pray that they are the answer we need to finally get on the other side of this virus.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!

Dec 182020
 

The Mandalorian: Chapter 16Title: The Rescue
Director: Peyton Reed

Peyton Reed is back to direct the season finale. It’s another amazing piece of television! I was conflicted leading up to this week’s episode; I’m excited to see what happens but this is also the last episode. It’s hard to believe it has already been eight weeks; but what a wonderful and extraordinary Christmas gift from Disney, Dave Filoni and Jon Favreau.

Last week Din Djarin had a bit of a tongue-in-cheek message for Moff Gideon. Now it’s time to make good on that promise. The question is who helps Din rescue Grogu and what season finale predictions come true.

Also, THERE IS A POST CREDITS SCENE!

spoiler alert!!!

The following content contains spoilers for The Mandalorian S2E16.

Continue reading »

Dec 112020
 

Ten Star Wars ProjectsOn December 10th Disney held their investor day which is when the Disney Corporation announces it’s major plans and projects. Obviously Disney+ is about to increase its library, dramatically. In case you missed it, TEN Star Wars projects were announced!! I was inundated and overwhelmed with so much exciting information I could barely contain myself.

There are literally hundreds of posts and articles out there discussing these projects. I’m sure you can go read some of the other official posts but I’m writing my bit about it anyway because it’s my blog. I am using the official announcement as my source for these projects. I think most of these are all going to be limited series; probably one season of 10-12 episodes, but I’m cool with that.

Continue reading »