Jan 062019

The 2018 Reading Challenge was 12 books. Since I barely missed 15 books from 2017, I actually started the year at 15 again thinking I could easily complete it. Half way through the year I was nearly 4 books behind so I reduced it down to 12 books.

I wish there is some brilliant excuse I could use to explain why I only read 9 books. I hit a huge lull late in the summer, which is right around the time I got a new First Reads book from Goodreads. Little did I know that book is over 600 pages. When it’s past June I rarely try to start a book that long so late in the year.

My 2018 Reading Challenge Book List

At any rate, below you will see the list of books I did read in 2018. I tried to write a review for all of them so feel free to click on the name if you’re curious about my thoughts. Below the list is the book I chose as the 2018 Best Read.

My Pick for the 2018 Best Read

Picking the best read for 2018 is difficult. These are 9 excellent books to choose from so its hard to pick just one! I want to go with Timothy Zahn, the man, the myth the legend. However, picking Timothy Zahn won’t work because 1) I read two of his books and I can’t pick just one; and 2) it’s Timothy frakking Zahn! It also wouldn’t be fair to pick Ready Player One because I re-read that one and I’d prefer to pick something that I hadn’t read before.

So there are the immersive worlds and cultures of the Olympus Union and the Shadowhunters, the suspenseful time travel of Executed or the remaining Star Wars books. It’s hard to pick one but I feel obligated to do so. I really enjoyed reading about Phasma’s origin and Ahsoka is my absolute favorite Jedi Padawan. However I’ve always had a soft spot for Ventress so learning more about her as written by Christie Golden is serendipitous. It is for that reason that I chose Dark Disciple as the 2018 best read.

FWIW, I recommend reading every book on this list!

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 022019

Alliances (Star Wars: Thrawn, #2)Alliances by Timothy Zahn
My rating: 
(Click here to see this review on Goodreads)

This is the second book in Timothy Zahn’s new Thrawn series (I’m assuming there will be a third book the third book has been announced titled Treason). I really loved the first book (simply titled Thrawn)! You simply must read it if you haven’t already. It’s the story of how Thrawn came into the service of the Empire and how his strategic military prowess made him a Grand Admiral. At the end of the book we learn that the Emperor has a new mission for Thrawn, but he needs to work with Darth Vader.

Brief Synopsis

As we learned in the first book, Grand Admiral Thrawn is unaware that Anakin and Vader are the same person. Therefore, Zahn takes an interesting approach in this book; it takes place at two points in time. Both times it is Thrawn working with the same person, only he doesn’t realize it. In the past Anakin and Thrawn work together to find Padme. In the present Thrawn and Vader are on a mission for the Emperor to investigate a disturbance in the Force. Coincidentally both missions take place on the same planets.

Biggs’ Review

I equally enjoyed this book. There are several things that I found interesting from a canon perspective. It’s interesting to see Thrawn work with Anakin and Vader. While Thrawn initially seems unaware that they are the same person, by the end of the book I suspect that he’s figured it out. I assume, in the third book, Zahn will verify this theory.

One of the character traits I really love is how Vader refers to Anakin as “The Jedi”, creating a bit of dissociative identity disorder in Vader. I’m also curious about Thrawn’s age! There are rumors he’s going to be in Episode 9, yet here he’s appearing 20 years prior to Episode 4. How long to Chiss live?

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 012019

It is now 18 years after the dreaded Y2K scare. I wonder if there is anyone still hiding in their bunkers. While the Y2K date issue was a valid bug in most software, it would never have caused the catastrophe the fear-mongers were predicting. Be that as it may, 2018 is over and another year is in the books. Most of us are still here but its hard to tell if any of us still like each other. Lots of people still have a hard time seeing past party boundaries and misguided political correctness. I’m going to cover a lot of the usual retrospective topics, I might throw in a couple of new items. So with that said, time for the 2018 Year in Review.

Notable Celebrity Deaths

I know this is rather macabre but I like to take this opportunity to talk about the celebrities we lost this year. I have two reasons for doing this. The important reason being to honor their memory. These people brought joy and entertainment to our lives, we owe them some homage. The other reason is merely for acknowledgement. There have been times in the past when I did not know a celebrity has passed away (e.g. when Leslie Nielsen died).

I’m only going to mention those in the entertainment industry. While I believe any person in political office definitely deserves recognition, I avoid making any political statements or allude to political leaning. Therefore I avoid mentioning specific names so as to not show favoritism toward any one political party. I will say that I appreciate their valuable service to our country and that I hope their actions were driven by their heart and values and not by kickbacks or constituent persuasion.

Celebrity Deaths: TV

John Mahoney as Martin Crane

Jerry Van Dyke (86) is widely known for his role as Luther in Coach. He was also the younger brother of legendary actor Dick Van Dyke. I didn’t watch a lot of Coach but Luther was hilarious, much like Jerry himself. Going from brother’s to father’s, I was really sad to learn about the passing of John Mahoney (77). My all time favorite show is Frasier and John Mahoney was Martin Crane, the crotchety father of Niles and Frasier. One of the most surprising facts about John Mahoney that blew my mind, he was born in the UK, he should have had an accent very similar to Daphne Moon in Frasier. Speaking of great shows from the past, Night Court was a fantastic show from the mid-80s with the honorable Harry Stone portrayed by Harry Anderson (65) who left us too soon from a stroke.

Celebrity Deaths: Movies

I know several of the TV actors that passed away were also in movies, but they are better known for their TV roles. So, with that said, we start notable movie deaths with R. Lee Ermey (74). Everyone probably knows him best as Gny. Sgt. Hartman in Full Metal Jacket, I think a drill sergeant is a role he was most comfortable playing as it seemed its a role he


was always playing. We had to give a heartfelt good-bye to “the Bandit“, Burt Reynolds (82) was definitely one of the “good ol’ boys” and watching old Celebrity Jeopardy videos will never be the same. Speaking of iconic roles, Verne Troyer (49) will always be known for his role as “Mini-Me” in the Austin Powers franchise. He brought a lot of joy to the role however, despite all that Verne Troyer drank himself to death. Please watch your friends for early warning signs of depression. There were far too many celebrity suicides this year and I’m sure it represents a mere sample size of the number of deaths by suicide in the country.

And Then There’s Stan Lee

I’ve already said a lot about Stan Lee. Losing him is a mighty blow to Marvel and comic book fans. X-Men is the only comic book I ever read as a kid and I’ve enjoyed all of the comics brought to the screen. Stan Lee inspired all geeks to be ourselves and fight for your dreams. He would have been 96 this past December; while nearly a century old, his legacy will live on for many centuries to come.  

Continue Reading for Movies, FitBit Stats and Biggs’s Lab projects

Jan 012019

Time to make those conventional New Year intentions. I wasn’t very successful in 2018; while I did make an effort to fulfill my intentions, I fell short on a few. The Reading Challenge and Professional Skills Development is where I was really lacking. The important thing is I never gave up attempting to meet my intentions, many resolutions barely survive the third week. Be that as it may, here are my 2019 New Years intentions.

Biggs Labs – Smart Home

I actually made some strides in my home automation projects and I will go into detail of that in the upcoming “Year in Review” post. Just know that Samsung really handicapped me with the sudden change to the app. I’m not really sure what the goal will be for 2019 for any of my home automation endeavors (other than fixing the bugs and issues from 2018). I know we have a few more things we want to integrate, we just haven’t purchased them yet and I’m not entirely sure I’m done with the Raspberry Pi and home automation integration. Watch for a (long overdue) Biggs Lab post in 2019.

2019 Goodreads Reading Challenge

really dropped the ball with my 2018 Reading Challenge. I set a reasonable goal of 12 books and only (just barely) finished 9. I’m resetting that goal to 12 books again for 2019 and I have a few Dresden books in mind to help me hit that goal. I also have some Star Wars books that are going to carry over from 2018 plus a couple more I’ve added to the list for this year.

As is always my style, when I complete a book I will post a corresponding book review that you will find both on Goodreads and on Amazon.

2019 Fitness and Health Goals

This category is going to be a big focus area for me this year. Of all the areas I’ve been making intentions, this is the one where I’m most successful. I will be kicking things up a notch in 2019. Now that I have two 5k races under my belt, I think it’s time to try for the 10k this year. Granted this isn’t necessarily just my choice; I’ve been encouraging friends to run more and they, in turn, are now challenging me to run a 10k. I will also be putting a heavier emphasis on additional fitness training (i.e. strength and core workouts).

Also, a few years ago I said that when I hit 40 I’m going to stop drinking so much soda. Therefore, since 2019 is the year before I turn 40 I am going to start by reducing the amount of pop I’m drinking on a daily basis. Hopefully, by the end of the year, I will have completely stopped. I’m also going to alter my diet a bit by more than just reducing portions. I’m going to watch what else is in my food before I eat it. No, I am NOT going vegan (I’d rather castrate myself with a broken coke bottle).

Mental health is just as important as physical health and I believe there is something very toxic to my mental health in my life. Social Media. The things I see on Facebook and Twitter sometime infuriate me to the point where I say and think things that are not very nice. I need to cleanse myself of that toxicity. Therefore, I will be greatly reducing my social media footprint in 2019. I’m going to reduce how much time I spend on Facebook and Twitter; hopefully down to maybe once or twice a week. I will find out what is going on the old fashioned way, talk to people. (I know, not very introverted of me).

I’m going to stop here. I don’t want to go into the Professional Skills Development this year as I don’t know what I’m going to do in that area. It’s so volatile that I cannot accurately decide on a skill set to focus on. So with that said …

Happy New Year!!


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


Dec 202018

The next few days are going to be quite frenzied. Coordinating and orchestrating Christmas has its challenges and often leaves little room for anything else. With that said I want to take a quick opportunity to wish all those reading this (the 2 or 3 of you that exist) a Very Merry Christmas and a Very Happy New Year!

I do appreciate any readers that I have and please always feel free to leave comments (so I know you exist). As long as the comments are not explicit or spam. You can disagree with me, you can simply say “nice post” or “nice ass”. I won’t get offended (I don’t offend easily).

Bet that as it may, enjoy the rare photo of myself in one (of 3) Christmas hats. Merry Christmas and God Bless.

When I was a kid, it was a huge insult to be a geek. Now it’s a point of pride in a weird way.” – J.J. Abrams

Nov 262018

The Grinch

Directed By: Scott MosierYarrow Cheney
StarringBenedict Cumberbatch, Rashida Jones, Pharrell Williams

My Rating: 

I’m not really sure why there has to be another retelling of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The only thing I found appealing was the voice acting of Benedict Cumberbatch. If I didn’t have a 4-year-old that loves the Grinch I probably wouldn’t have spent the time (or money) to see this movie in the theater. With that said, this is my movie review of The Grinch.

I don’t think I need to provide a synopsis of the movie. You should know the story of How The Grinch Stole Christmas. This version of the classic story maintains the essence that Boris Karloff brought to life 52 years ago. Benedict Cumberbatch is brilliant, as usual, and Max is just as lovable.

Modern Twist, Missing Text

I only heard “You’re A Mean One, Mr Grinch” once, and it was very brief. Also, it has a modern, hip hop twist to it that doesn’t match the essence of the story. The Grinch is not some gangster so it was just inappropriate. In the 1966 version you hear that song during the entire heist. The song is fundamental to the entire movie. It’s disappointing that its missing from a majority of the film.

Pharrell Williams is the narrator for this version, and he does a decent job. I just wish they kept all of the original text. Near the beginning of the movie you hear a lot of the original text, and they added some of their own. About half way through, it’s all new text and little to none of the original text. They keep with the Dr. Seuss prose but it begins to feel less like the beloved Grinch movie.

Overall it’s better than the Jim Carrey version of the movie. My daughter enjoyed it, which is all that matters, but I wouldn’t pay to see it again.

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