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Year End Book Report: The Best Books I Read in 2016

Posted in Batman, books, comic books, movies, pop culture, Star Wars with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 12, 2017 by Paxton

Year End Badass Book Report

Here I go, writing another one of these year end round up articles that I’m shocked to be writing every year. 2017. CRAZY. What a ride 2016 was. Hopefully 2017 will give us a bit of a break.

This past year was an interesting year for my book/comics list.  After so many years of logging my books and comics reading via Google Spreadsheet, I actually converted my logs over to an online data tool called Airtable. It’s similar to Access in that it is a relational database but the user entry interface is very simple to create and similar to Excel. Plus being able to link specific information between tables really helps in cross referencing and spelling.  You have no idea how many times I misspelled author names throughout my logs.

Here’s what my book log looks like now on Airtable.  I’ve converted all my logs back to when I first started in 2007.

airtable_books1

The blue colored fields in the screenshot are actually linked to another table.  I was able to also create the Rating field on the right with different color coded ratings to make it easy at a glance to see what is going to make my year end list and what isn’t.  Plus, Airtable makes all of this data entry even easier with a nice app for my iPhone or iPad that makes it easy to log entries on the go.  Google Sheets had one as well but Airtable’s works better.

So that’s all the behind the scenes stuff.  I had a better year for novels.  I was able to pick 5 this year.  Again, comics were booming and I had a tough time paring down to 5.  But I did it.

So, without further ado, here’s the list!

Books


The Old Man and the Sea (1952) – Ernest Hemingway – I don’t read classics as often as I used to.  I really need to remedy that.  There are two reasons why I read this.  #1, it was featured in the movie The Equalizer starring Denzel Washington as a book he’s reading. #2, Steph checked it out from the library with a bunch of other books and I, on a whim, picked it up to read.  It’s actually really good.  I quite enjoyed it.  I’m probably not going to pick up any other Hemingway, but I’ll definitely try to read more classic lit this coming year.  I’ve been wanting to re-read Twain’s Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, so maybe I can get that done.


Steve Jobs (2011) – Walter Isaacson – I’ve now read two of Isaacson’s famous biographies and let me say that I’m hooked. Back in 2014 I read his biography of Benjamin Franklin and it nearly made my year end best of list.  This one about Apple founder Steve Jobs actually cracks the list. It’s not only a great portrait of a complicated man, but it’s also a great look at the beginnings of our technological age we live in now.  I would love for Isaacson to tackle Bill Gates in a full book, but I’m not sure that’ll happen.  Isaacson did write a book called The Innovators that really digs into the people who created the computer and the Internet; going as far back as Alan Turing and jumping forward to people like Larry Page and Bill Gates.  That will probably be next on my Isaacson reading list and the closest I’ll get to a full Gates biography by him.


Star Wars: Catalyst – A Rogue One Novel (2016) – James Luceno – The “New Canon” of Star Wars books since Disney has taken over has been very…hit or miss.  Since those books started in Fall 2014, only one has made my year end list.  And honestly, I think that one novel (Star Wars: Tarkin), also written by James Luceno, would work perfectly as a side-quel to this book.  This is the written prequel to the movie Rogue One and it’s pretty great.  It digs deep into the relationship between Galen Erso and Director Krennic.  It also explores a bit more the rivalry between Krennic and Tarkin all while adding in backstory to how the Death Star was built and how it works and what they use to power the planet killing laser.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.


Magic Kingdom for Sale–Sold! (Landover series Book 1) (1986) – Terry Brooks – I talked about this book earlier in my High Fantasy Month article back in March.  It’s a different setup for a fantasy series and I really enjoyed it.  I had bought the collection of the first three books in the series, but I’ve not delved into the second book yet.  However, it’s on the plan for this year.

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More fun with my camera phone

Posted in camera phone, cell phones, random, technology with tags , , , , , on January 27, 2011 by Paxton

I bought my first camera phone back in 2006.  It was the original Motorola Razr V3.  It was pretty cool being able to snap pics of stuff I came across at any given moment.  So, in December of that same year, I wrote an article that  took a look at some of the random photos I had taken with my phone.  One of my blogging/Twitter buddies Trish just posted a very similar article and it got me thinking that I want to do it again.  It has been 4 years.  Plus, I have a much better phone now, the iPhone.

So, I’m going to delve into my cell phone photos and see what randomness I can come up with.  Here we go.

Croc Lobster
I found this odd statue outside a restaurant in the French Quarter in New Orleans. I call it “Croc-Lobster” (get it?…The B-52’s song?…hello?).  I find myself completely fascinated by the idea of a Croc-Lobster.  This needs to be a monster that fights Godzilla.  NOW.

P A X
Before the baby, my wife was an elementary school teacher. So she had these alphabet letter cards up on the walls of her classroom. I took pics of the letters P, A and X (because it’s my name, duh) and texted them to my brother.  It looks silly now that I’m looking at it but that’s the stuff my brother and I text to each other.

Knight Industries truck
I got so excited when I saw this truck. I have to wonder if a black Firebird named KITT was inside as this is very similar to the truck that transports that awesome car in the show Knight Rider.  Even the logo is similar.

Margarona
Went to Charleston, SC a few years ago with some friends. In the middle of the night, drunk and hungry, we wound up in a small Mexican restaurant in the middle of downtown.  Featured on the menu was this unbelievable site, The Margarona.  A frozen margarita served with a full bottle of Corona turned upside down into it.  It never even occurred to me to try something like this.  My mind can now be considered BLOWN.  For some reason, they wouldn’t serve it at 2am, which seems to me to be the only time someone would order it.

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iPhone OS 3.0 released, AT&T wipes ass with it, turns off MMS

Posted in Apple, iPhone, reviews, technology with tags , , , on June 19, 2009 by Paxton

Apple iPhone OS 3.0It’s been just over 9 months since I last talked about my iPhone, so I thought it was time to remedy that situation (cue everyone rolling their eyes at me and whispering…”GREAT”). On Wednesday, Apple made available the latest update to the iPhone’s operating system, v3.0.  Listening to the buildup of this OS update (along with the release of the new iPhone version 3G S today), I couldn’t help but get excited.  So many new features were being added including multimedia messaging (MMS) which has surprisingly been missing from the very first iteration of the iPhone until now.  If you receive a picture via text, the text message asks you to log in to a separate website with a userid and password (given within the text) to see the pic.  This worked, maybe 50% of the time.  Maybe.  Seems odd the greatest phone on the planet Earth could not send/receive a picture via text message.  But that’s neither here nor there as MMS is in the “new features list” on Apple.com (see below, third in the list) and after I download and install it to my iPhone, everything is going to be cotton candy and rainbows and fluffy bunnies and kittens.

new_features_30

So, when I connected my iPhone 3G to my laptop Thursday morning and proceeded to download the new OS, I was giddy as a schoolgirl.  I had the requisite pics of my crotch on my iPhone’s camera reel and they were ready to be sent to all my friends via text message.  It was gonna be EPIC. Legend–wait for it–ary. Then I did the install.

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How my iPod Shuffle controls my runs like a mini-dictator

Posted in Apple, exercise, humor, iPod, life, running, technology with tags , , , , , on April 16, 2009 by Paxton

Okay, I mentioned earlier that I ran the Gate River Run here in Jacksonville on Mar 14. Well, I was able to run the whole 9.3 miles and I finished in 1hr and 33minutes. That’s right at 10 minute miles. I’m happy with that and I hope to break that next year. If you want to see some pics of me during the race click here.  Beware, I look ROUGH.

I’ve had a few people ask what I like to listen to when I’m running and the answer is my iPod Shuffle. I load it up with some awesome running tunes and then just let it pick the order. It’s great. As for the type of music, I enjoy hard rock and a bit of gangsta rap when I run. I need high energy to keep me going. No ballads or wimpy crap. I need ball-drivin’, head-bangin’, car-crashin’, ear-splittin’ RAAAAWWWWWWK when I run.

The other day I was feeling saucy so I hooked my Shuffle up to the computer and set iTunes to auto-load songs. This means I have no idea what was picked as everything was just picked at random. Normally, I tell iTunes what songs I want, then the iPod picks the playlist order, but this time I let iTunes pick the songs. FYI…that was a HUGE mistake. I have this running condition called MADD, Music Attention Deficit Disorder. I may LOVE a song in the car, but when I’m running, odds are, I’m going to hate it. Seriously, when I’m running, the chances of me liking a song are cut to 50%, at least.

Want to know how my run went? Below is the horrible sound track to a man dying. There were some good songs, but then, there was everything else.

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My iPhone can now kill hookers, travel through time

Posted in Apple, cell phones, humor, iPhone, pop culture, technology with tags , , , on September 12, 2008 by Paxton

Apple Old LogoI know what you are thinking. You are thinking, “If Pax writes any more about his stupid iPhone I’m going to cut him with the prison shank I keep in my bathroom toilet.” Well, maybe you’re not thinking of that specifically, because, as my wife just informed me, not everyone has a prison shank hidden in their toilet tank (which is crazy, because you should have one. Seriously). All physical threats of violence to the side, I am in fact going to talk about my supremely awesome iPhone again. If you got a got a problem with it, you can meet me on the corner of Shut and The Hell Up. I’ll be the guy stabbing people with a wet prison shank named Skip. Yes, his name is Skip. He likes action movies, listening to AC/DC, and shanking people in the gut. Come up, say hi and he’ll shank you in the gut.

For those that don’t want to die, I thought I’d talk a little bit about applications you can download for your iPhone.  Ever since Apple let third party developers design mini-applications (aka apps) for the iPhone that get distributed on iTunes, many cool and interesting games and productivity apps have shown up.  As good as these apps are, they don’t cover every circumstance you find yourself in.  What if some A-hole cuts you off in traffic and giving the guy “the finger” just won’t cut it?  Or what if the hooker you are seeing threatens to go to your wife?  The iPhone can’t help you in either situation, bro.  However, I’ve designed a few apps that may give you the upper hand should you find yourself in one of the above “less than ideal” situations.

If you thought the iPhone was awesome before,  my new “Cavalcade of Awesome” apps make the iPhone so ridiculously kick-ass it may bend the fabric of reality itself.  You could be talking on your iPhone, set off one of my apps, then find yourself in another dimension.  My stuff is that good.  Be careful though, I was testing some of my applications and next thing I know I was in a battle arena on Cylus 3 facing the nose tusk of a Snaarlak beast.  Let me tell you, a Snaarlak beast makes a Chnultha serpent look like a baby Greeb.  My situation escalated quickly and I had to use the Cavalcade of Awesome apps to their full extent.  I’m lucky to be typing this article today.

So let’s take a look at a few of my new apps.

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I got an iPhone 3G — I just became even more awesome

Posted in Apple, iPhone, personal, pop culture, reviews, technology with tags , , , on August 18, 2008 by Paxton

That’s right, people. AT&T finally acquiesced and gave me my birthright; the iPhone 3G! I wrote about my personal comedy of errors trying to get an iPhone 3G last month, but all of that is now moot. I have the small piece of electronic Valhalla right here in my sweaty, awesome little hands. And let me tell you, this thing is AWESOME. You know me, you know I don’t own, consort with or marry anything that isn’t just flat out awesome. It’s just how I live my life. I’ve dedicated myself to all things awesome, and this little phone may be the most awesome thing I have ever seen and I don’t throw around hyperbole like that every day (well, actually, I do, but this time it’s for reals).

I’ve had MONTHS to build up my anticipation for this phone. I was given money on my birthday way back in May (nearly 3 months ago!) to buy this thing and I’ve been obstructed in my purchase every step of the way. The first obstruction was that Apple took most iPhones off the shelves in May in preparation for the release of iPhone 3G. Next, the release date was set for July 11. I went in to my local AT&T store ready to upgrade and found out that my current plan wouldn’t let me upgrade until August 9. You should remember this graphic:

It was agonizing waiting until August 9th. However, on the day of August 9th, I was in Columbus, OH, so I couldn’t really order it then (there was a 7 day wait). I didn’t get back to Jax until late on Sunday and AT&T was closed an hour before I could get there (closed at 6pm on a Sunday?!  WTF, are they a bank?!). It was like some higher power didn’t want me to have an iPhone, something I’ve come to believe is my destiny. Why, you ask, would a higher power not want me to have an iPhone? It’s not hard to figure out. The iPhone is super-awesome. No one denies that. I myself am also super-awesome.  Who can refute that?  It’s like the iPhone is an electronic version of myself (We are both awesome and very portable).  The combination of our mutal awesomeness might be too much for the fabric of the space-time continuum and send the entire universe into a backspin leading to the destruction of all mankind (this is just a theory, mind you).  So despite all of these odds against me, I perservered and got my iPhone 3G.  You know, the Lifetime network should contact me about making my experience getting an iPhone a movie of the week.  It’s pretty damn inspiring.

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(Un)Happy iPhone Friday + Pepsi Blue Hawaii!!

Posted in Apple, iPhone, Pepsi, pop culture, reviews, soda, technology with tags , , , , , , on July 11, 2008 by Paxton

Just over a year ago I wrote an article discussing the release of iPhone version UNO plus two crazy Japanese items; Pepsi Ice Cucumber and Garlic Seafood Pringles. In what I believed to be a fortuitous situation, today I was supposed to acquire the newest version of the iPhone to go along with the new Pepsi summer release in Japan, Pepsi Blue Hawaii. It was going to be glorious. I could shadow that article from 6/29/2007 and review both of these items today. So I went to my local AT&T store to verify that the planets were all aligned (Pluto included, screw you scientists!!) and that AT&T was ready to toss me that touch-screen slab of AWESOME (aka iPhone) much like The Lady in the Lake did for Arthur and his Excalibur. Instead I found out that I can’t get the subsidized price, $299 for the 16Gb, until August 9th. If I want to get the iPhone today, I’d have to pay the full price, $499. $499 bucks?! Who am I, Rockefeller? So I have to wait 4 more weeks to be completed in body and soul. Until then, I have to look longingly at Engadget.com and try not to cry as it posts story after story of people buying the new iPhone 3G. Thanks a lot suits at AT&T and your stupid upgrade “rules”!!!

Anyway, while at the AT&T store the other night I took the opportunity to get my wife a new phone. She has been resisting this for months (nay, YEARS) because she loves her little phone she is currently using. I don’t know why. It’s an eyesore. It’s the cell phone equivalent of an abacus. It’s embarrassing to a tech/gadget guy like myself she carries this thing around. Seriously, this phone is so old it’s powered by a steam engine. You have to start it by turning a tiny crank on the side like one of those ancient farm tractors. Despite all of this and my constant badgering, she wouldn’t get rid of it. I mean, the thing didn’t even have a speakerphone. That’s right, NO SPEAKERPHONE!! I mean, what are we, in the Dark Ages?! She had some insane fascination with it. Well, this past weekend she flushed it down the toilet while at her uncle’s house in New Mexico. And to answer the question I always get, no, she wasn’t drunk (yet). Needless to say, this made me very happy. First thing through my mind? “YES!!!!!!” First thing I said to her? “Awwww, hunny, I’m sorry.” What surprises me about the “flushing incident” is that the phone itself didn’t get stuck in the hole, it actually went down the pipes. Her uncle is going to have a wicked plumbing bill soon. They even tried to call it to see if they could hear it ring. LOL…yes, they were actually calling the phone like it was lost in the couch cushions, not body surfing it’s way to the Rio Grande via Albuquerque’s metropolitan sewer system. I’m dying laughing thinking about it right now and I’ve heard the story three times. My wife, what a mess.

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