Jan 062020
 

We are in a Star Wars lull now. We are between movies and television series. Amid this well deserved break, what is a Star Wars geek to do? We do have the Clone Wars finale season coming up in February so watching the other seasons is an option. There is also Rebels and Resistance I could catch up on. However, much sooner than Season 7 of The Clone Wars is the new Star Trek series Picard premiering on January 23rd. It has almost perfect timing.

I know what you are probably thinking. It’s blasphemous that a Star Wars fanboy, such as myself, would condone Star Trek. The fact of the matter is, I enjoy Star Trek. A lot. I am, and always will be, a bigger Star Wars fan, but Trek still holds a special place in my heart. I did not watch a lot of the original series, but I did watch quite a bit of The Next Generation. Deep Space 9 will always be one of my favorites; I spent my formative Purdue years watching it.

I tried to watch Enterprise but I lost interest. I haven’t watched Discovery yet, but I’ll get to it eventually. However, a Picard series? Yes, I am very interested in a Picard series. I’m not going to play the “which Captain is better” game but Sir Patrick Stewart is such a wonderful actor. I’m very excited to see him reprise one of his most iconic roles.

In fact, a Star Trek movie marathon might be in order. Engage!

/LLAP

The things that go through my mind when I’m alone with nothing but my thoughts for entertainment is dangerous. Some might even say eccentric. Consider this your warning about today’s Random Thought of the Day

 

Jan 042020
 

My 2019 Reading Challenge was 15 books. The past couple of years I struggled to meet a 15 book reading challenge. My theory that I will be reading the Harry Dresden books this year will help. It was an absolute success! In fact I came within 30% of 16 books. I’m still setting my goal to 15 books again this year since I might choose a couple of longer books to read.

While I wasn’t a slacker on reading books this year, I was terrible about writing reviews. In fact of the 15 books I read, I only wrote reviews for a couple of them. I’ll try to be a little more diligent about writing reviews for new books I read. Granted there may be a few books I will re-read this year and I rarely write a review about books I’ve already read.

My 2019 Reading Challenge Book List

Below is my list of books I read for the Reading Challenge. You can click on those that are links to read the review of the book. If I did not write a review and/or you have a question about a book or want to talk about a book on this list, please leave a comment. Also, below the list, is my 2019 pick for the Best Read.

  • The Straggler’s Mask” by Juho Pohjalainen
  • “The Phoenix Project” by Gene Kim
  • “Summer Knight” by Jim Butcher
  • Star Wars: Leia, Princess of Alderaan” by Claudia Gray
  • Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View” by Ben Acker
  • “Six of Crows” by Leigh Bardugo
  • Before the Storm” by Christie Golden
  • “The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkein
  • “Crooked Kingdom” by Leigh Bardugo
  • “Death Masks” by Jim Butcher
  • “Star Wars: Last Shot” by Daniel Jose Older
  • “Extinct” by R.R. Haywood
  • “Blood Rites” by Jim Butcher
  • “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” by Jason Fry
  • “Night Train to Rigel” by Timothy Zahn

My Pick for the 2019 Best Read

I didn’t know which book I want to pick for 2019. I really enjoyed nearly all of these books (“The Straggler’s Mask” being the lowest one on the list). The book I re-read this year was “The Hobbit”, which I haven’t read since high school. Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows series is really great and, allegedly, she has confirmed there will be a third book. Anyone that works in the IT field either as a developer, operations, or project management, “The Phoenix Project” is a must-read. The final book of RR Haywood’s Extracted Trilogy was very satisfying and I’m loving Harry Dresden.

So where does that leave us? I really wish I had read “Before the Storm” before the Battle for Azeroth expansion launched. “Night Train to Rigel” is the first book in Timothy Zahn’s Quadrail series so I’m still getting into that. I know it comes off as favoritism to pick a Star Wars book considering how much of a Star Wars fan I am. Despite all that, I think I have to go with “Leia, Princess of Alderaan” as the 2019 Best Read. We already know how much of an amazing character Leia is, and this book fuels that idea.

I also picked this book because it is now 3 years since we lost Carrie Fisher, and The Rise of Skywalker closes a chapter on Leia’s story. Therefore this choice also pays homage to one of the most extraordinary characters of the Star Wars Universe.

diablo3-reading“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
– Dr. Seuss

 

Jan 032020
 

2019 Year In Review2019 was the final year of the decade, which means we are entering the second decade of the new millennium (and 20 years since the “dreaded” Y2K scare). It’s still hard to tell if all of us still like each other. Political differences continue to divide us and it’s depressing, infuriating and scary. I don’t do politics on this blog so, in the words of Forrest Gump, that’s all I have to say about that. 2019 was an OK year, depending on your perspective. These perspectives is what I am going to get into for my 2019 Year In Review.

Celebrity Deaths

We lost over 150 celebrities this year. I’m not going to mention all of them, only the ones that I found particularly depressing. I’m not trying to down play the deaths of the others because it sucks when we lose anyone. Before I begin I would just like to note that Kirk Douglas and Betty White are not on this list.

Celebrity Deaths: Internet

Tardar Sauce, aka Grumpy Cat (7) passed away this year. If you don’t know who Grumpy Cat was, then you are living under a rock. Her permanent scowl was a condition caused by a genetic mutation but created thousands of meme. She was an Internet sensation.

Celebrity Deaths: TV

The television death that seemed to be most notable was the death of Caroll Spinney (85) who was the original Big Bird on Sesame Street from 1969 to 2018. Best known for his comedy on The Carol Burnett Show, Tim Conway (85) passed away this year. He was so talented and so hilarious. If you haven’t seen his Elephant Story bit from the show, you are missing out! Luke Perry‘s (52) sudden death was truly heartbreaking. He’s mostly known for his role as Dylan in 90210 and, more recently, as Fred Andrews on Riverdale.

The Star Trek Deep Space 9 series lost two lovable characters his year. René Auberjonois (79) passed away this year. While he had many television and film roles, he always has been and always will be Odo to me. Unfortunately the bad news for DS9 doesn’t end there. Aron Eisenberg (50) played the lovable Ferengi Nog on Deep Space 9; in fact he was probably my favorite Ferengi. RIP gentlemen. Thank you for the awesome memories.

Celebrity Deaths: Movies

The following celebrities are primarily known for their movie roles. We lost Doris Day this year, but she lived a long and extraordinary 97 years! Also, from the golden years of film, Peter Fonda (79) passed away; he was the son of Henry Fonda, the brother of Jane Fonda and the father of Bridget Fonda. The actor with one of the coolest names in Hollywood passed away, Rip Torn. While it really sucks that he’s gone, I did not know he was 88 when he passed. I mostly remember him from the Men In Black movies.

Peter Mayhew at the 2019 Star Wars Celebration in Chicago

The last celebrity death is the one that sucks the most. In April, just a couple of weeks after his appearance at the Star Wars Celebration in Chicago, Peter Mayhew (74) passed away. He is a legend for his role as Chewbacca and the epitome of a gentle giant. He loved his role as Chewbacca and he will be greatly missed. However, its comforting to know that now, he is fulfilling his obligation to Han Solo, and he’s taking care of the princess. RIP Chewie.

Continue reading »

Jan 032020
 

This Is Not A Review

I’m not going to write a review for The Rise of Skywalker. My loyalty to the franchise creates a bias which doesn’t provide you with accurate incentive. The only suggestion I have is to ignore everything you read on Facebook and Twitter. As with any movie you need to try to go in with open eyes and open expectations. I know that’s hard to do with so much toxicity from myopic fans and critics. Also, as with any Star Wars film, I think this movie falls under the “critic proof” classification. It wasn’t made to win an academy award.

It wouldn’t matter to me if this movie only made a million dollars or if it makes a billion dollars; I love it. It’s an extremely satisfying end to a sublime saga. Regardless of the box office tally, the critics and the dissenting fans, Star Wars is more than a movie to me.

Star Wars Goes Beyond The Movies

There are fans that just watch the movies and there are fans that indulge beyond the movies; I am the latter. I was about 8 years old the first time I saw Star Wars, and I don’t think my parents quite realized what they had started when those yellow words first appeared on the screen. These films not only fuel my fascination with how movies are made but also my love for science fiction and fantasy.

Star Wars is also a unifying bond between family and strangers (assuming we can all agree to disagree on controversial subjects). When I attended the Star Wars Celebration last April, I felt welcome in a sea of strangers. However, we were all there for a common purpose, to celebrate the franchise we all love. In fact I would go so far as to say I was more comfortable among 10,000 strangers than I am among 30 members of my own family. It’s an indescribable sense of community.

It’s Relatable, Like Sports and Politics

I’m trying to put into words why my enjoyment of Star Wars goes beyond the movies. I’m struggling to explain it in more relatable terms. It’s like talking about sports. You cannot control the outcome of any sporting event (as a spectator), but you can regale about the past or imagine possible futures. Also, the more knowledge there is between folks the greater the enjoyment and a more interactive dialog.

I’ve played many of the games (video games and board games). I’ve watched many of the other series and I’ve read many of the books (novels and comics). There is so much to enjoy about this franchise than what you see in the theaters. Perhaps this is the reason I can find so much enjoyment even in the movies other folks like to disparage. Perhaps this is why I enjoy involving my family, including my daughter, who is just beginning to experience it herself. The amount of official canon outside the films is almost endless (I’m excluding fan-fiction and fan theories).

The divisiveness of the fanbase now is practically a microcosm of our country’s political state. We are too busy trying to tell the other side what is wrong with their point of view. Nobody seems interested in digging deeper into the details to find there might actually be common ground and facts to support it.

I invite anyone who has canonical issues with any of the movies to reach out to me, especially if your knowledge is limited to just the films. I’d love to have an open and honest dialog about it and see if we can’t come to some kind of mutual appreciation. I’m not going to try to change your mind, but I do hope you will see why I love Star Wars to the most minute of details.

/MTFBWY

Confronting fear is the destiny of the Jedi.

Jan 012020
 

We are not only starting a new year in 2020, we are starting a new decade. Nobody really makes decade resolutions and I’m certainly not going to make decade intentions. I’ll be turning 40 in this decade, which is hard to imagine and, be that as it may, I’m not intimidated. This isn’t a post about turning 40 (perhaps I will write one when we get closer to March). I am going to make the usual 2020 New Years Intentions; hopefully I will have better luck in a couple of the categories.

Biggs Labs – Smart Home/Professional Development

I didn’t make any progress on the Smart Home front. I did a little bit of research since Samsung kind of hamstrung me with the changes to the app. Hopefully I can still do what I hope to be able to do using Home Kit and Raspberry Pi. However that isn’t going to be my highest priority project.

I was supposed to revamp one of my project web sites in 2019, including the gift list. However I had a really busy summer at work and writing extra curricular code was not appealing. Therefore I have quite a list of updates I want to do to make this site a little more useful to other family members. In fact some of the development research I will do may also be applicable to things I’ll be doing at work.

2020 Goodreads Reading Challenge

I did well for my reading challenge in 2019. In fact I almost read more than I intended. In 2020 I think I’m still going to play it safe and set my reading challenge total to 15 again. I do have several more Dresden books to read which, again, should help my total. Unfortunately I read all my newer Star Wars books this year. I have a few older Star Wars books (now considered “Legends”) which I might dig into and some re-reading of some great books.

I’ll get into more details about my reading ambitions in another post. Keep an eye out because after I finish a book, sometimes I take the time to write up a review.

2020 New Years Health Goals

Year after year, this category continues to be where I am most successful. My goal was to complete a 10K in 2019 and that is exactly what I did. In fact, I ran the whole thing, thus resulting in a new personal best. In 2020 I feel running another 10K is the obvious decision, however I do need to challenge myself. Therefore I am going to try to complete a 10K and 5K back-to-back (at the Flying Pig). Essentially I will run a 15K, which is approximately 9.3 miles.

Mental health is just as important as physical health. I did not reduce my social media interaction as much as I said I would. Only recently did I step away from Twitter but I’m still getting on Facebook a little too obsessively. However I am taking extra steps to reduce the negativity on Facebook by leaving groups and muting or hiding posts that I find offensive and blasphemous. So far it’s working as I’ve felt less angry after scrolling through Facebook.

I might return to Twitter, but I think I am going to wait a few weeks. I don’t want to miss more of Mark Hamill’s brilliance. Regardless, I hope to make 2020 a little more positive especially since I am turning 40. Also, it’s probably time to overcome my subtle sociopathy.

What are your 2020 New Years resolutions?

Happy New Year!

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