On Finishing The Expanse
April 9, 2022 | 1 min read

I recently finished the final novel in The Expanse series by James S. A. Corey. This series was recommended to me by my friend Andy Obusek.

This series started slow for me. I can’t put my finger on why. It could have been the amount of world building the authors had to do. It could have been that I was going back and forth between other Sci-Fi novels and getting confused. It could have been I was in a weird place mentally with books at the time. It could have been anything. The result was that the first two or three books were slow reads for me.

I finished the first book in September 2019. I didn’t finish the second book until June 2020 and the third book until February 2021.

I almost gave up this journey, but Andy kept insisting that I continued on. I’m glad I did.

Things picked up for me around book five or six. So much in fact, that I finished the last four books this year (and it’s April). I couldn’t put the last few novels down and flew through them.

I’ve recommended this series to several friends. One of them ended up (basically) reading the last few books with me. We would read them and talk about them via text.

I did not read any of the novellas that occur outside the novels. I may read those next.

There is also The Expanse TV series. I’ve heard it’s excellent. I haven’t started watching that yet. I didn’t want to get into a place where I was ahead of the novels. Now I don’t need to worry about it.

If you’re into Sci-Fi, check out The Expanse series. There are nine novels. This can seem daunting, but the journey is worth it.

Beer Style Guidelines 2022.1
March 20, 2022 | 1 min read

I released Beer Style Guidelines 2022.1 today. It’s the first update of the year.

The update includes the following:

  • Adds the 2021 BJCP Beer Style Guidelines.
  • Fixes a crashing issue.
  • Removes access to the 2015 BJCP Beer Style Guidelines.
  • Removes access to the 2020 Brewers Association Beer Style Guidelines.
  • Adds basic Telemetry analytics.
  • Updates the “Page Down” keyboard shortcut to use a space (as it should have been all along).

The two big changes for me are the addition of the 2021 BJCP Beer Style Guidelines and fixing a crashing issue.

I had missed that the BJCP had released a new guideline at the end of December. It’s the first update to the guidelines since 2015. I don’t check all that often for new updates, but I should try to stay on top of things better.

I also fixed a crashing issue. I’d seen a few reports of it in my weekly emails from Apple. I finally dove into it and got it fixed.

I’ve already got the next update planned. The Brewers Association has released their 2022 guidelines and I want to get that into the app as soon as possible.

Once that’s done, I have some other things in mind. I’m excited to get started on those once I’ve got all of the guidelines updated and current.

Full list of release notes: https://beerstyleguidelines.app/release-notes/2022.1.txt

Please enjoy the update.

Walt Disney World
March 15, 2022 | 10 min read

Photo by Jose Mizrahi

This is the final blog post about our trip to Florida from January. This post is all about our trip to Walt Disney World.

I know it’s March, I’ve been slow to write these.

I love Walt Disney World. We haven’t been there in years. I think I was more excited for this part of the trip than any other part. I would have been happy spending our entire trip exploring Disney World. Given the opportunity, I would probably go to Disney World once or twice a year.

Disney’s Pop Century Resort

We stayed on-site at Disney’s Pop Century Resort. We had stayed here before, but I think they’ve re-done the rooms since we were there last.

The rooms were really nice. Much nicer than the other hotel we stayed at during our trip to Florida.

Since our last visit to Disney World, they’ve added a gondola called the Disney Skyliner. The Skyliner was great. It allowed us to easily travel from the resort to EPCOT and Hollywood Studios. We had to take a bus to Magic Kingdom, but that was ok. The Skyliner was the perfect way to get around. I hope they can find a way to add it to get to the other parks.

Pop Century is considered a “budget” resort, but I would stay again any time.

FastPass

Disney has changed how they do FastPasses since the last time we were there. We used to walk up to a machine, and get a FastPass for a ride. It was an easy system for us to use.

Now Disney has made things more complicated. They have a system called Disney Genie+ and another system called Individual Lightning Lane(s).

Both of these systems are confusing and annoying.

Disney Genie+ is a $15/person/day version of FastPass. You purchase this daily (starting at midnight). At 7am every morning, you can then schedule your first FastPass of the day. But you’re doing this along with everyone else in the park(s), so it makes it hard to plan out your day ahead of time.

We (meaning my wife) would wake up at 6:45am, wait to schedule our first FastPass at 7am and then (try to) go back to sleep. We would usually end up with a FastPass around 10am, which was fine because the kids wanted to sleep in.

There are rules around when you get set up your next FastPass. I think it was one ride every two hours. It meant we (again, my wife) kept alarms set so we knew when to grab the next FastPass.

The Lightning Lane feels like a money grab from Disney. There are certain rides which don’t provide the normal FastPass. Instead, you need to purchase individual FastPass for a ride. Rides like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (in Magic Kingdom) and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance (in Disney’s Hollywood Studios) have the Individual Lightning Lane (for a cost). The prices of these tickets range from $9/person to $15/person. The alternative was to wait up to almost 3 hours in line (depending on the day/time).

The Rise of the Resistance Lightning Lanes fill up fast. My wife was on her phone signing up for one, and by 7:05am, our time slot was for late in the evening (I forget the exact time).

We ended up buying the Lightning Lanes for the rides that we wanted and didn’t feel like waiting for because it was easier than waiting too long.

One problem with these systems is that you need to use your phone (an app). And in some sections of the parks, cell reception is spotty. It makes trying to check or schedule the next set of rides difficult.

Another problem is that planning your days in the parks is harder to do. We ended up criss-crossing each park multiple times because of the FastPasses that we were able to get.

Food

The last time we were in Disney World (it’s been years), I remember the food being really good, which included all the food from the resorts to the theme parks. I remember enjoying it all. Either my tastes have changed, or the food isn’t as good as it used to be.

The food in Universal Studios was better (all around) with two exceptions. There was a Grilled Cheese place in EPCOT with tomato soup that was delicious. The Mickey Waffles at the resort were delicious.

You can now (mobile) order your food at (some?) counter services spots, walk up and grab your food. This is all done on your phone (again, an app). They had 2 or 3 registers set aside for mobile orders and 1 register for people who walk up. That meant that the lines for folks who walk up is crazy long.

Mobile ordering had the same cell reception issues that settings up FastPasses did. Spotty cell reception made things more difficult.

The lines at food and drink places throughout the park were also insanely long. Trying to grab a water or soda while walking through the park was a pain. We ended up grabbing a few extra bottles of water at lunch or dinner and threw them in our backpack.

Hollywood Studios

Photo by Rod Long

Hollywood Studios may be my favorite park at Disney World. I’ve always loved his park, even back when it was Disney MGM Studios.

Now that they have Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, I like it even more.

This was my first time to Galaxy’s Edge and wow, it was neat. Our first FastPass of the morning was for Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. The ride was great.

Once we got off the ride, my wife and kids went to explore more of the park and I explored Galaxy’s Edge. Disney did an amazing job with this area of the park. I could have spent half the day there, but there were other things I wanted to see.

The only part of the park I wasn’t thrilled with was Toy Story Land, and only because it was super crowded. It was raining that day, but this area of the park was still wall to wall people.

We rode every ride we wanted to and even rode the Millennium Falcon and Tower of Terror twice. Our last ride of the night was Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. Rise of the Resistance was a lot of fun. I was (and am) bummed out that I didn’t try to ride it twice. There was so much to see, and I think I missed a lot of it. I think riding it again would let me experience things more.

Hollywood Studios is a great park.

EPCOT

Photo by Greg C

EPCOT used to be another of my favorite parks. I was disappointed this time.

A portion of the park is under construction. It will be great once the construction is done and the new rides/areas are open.

We went on a lot of the rides that they have there. The exceptions were Frozen Ever After and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. Both had waits consistently over 2 hrs.

The lines for most rides we got on weren’t bad. Test Track had some long lines, but we went through the solo riders part and were on the ride in 5 minutes.

I must be getting older. We went on Mission: SPACE (the more extreme experience - Orange Mission) and I had to concentrate on not getting dizzy (and possibly sick). I’ve never had to do this before.

We always joked that we would “drink around the world” in EPCOT. We never got drunk or anything, but it was always fun to get drinks from the different countries. That was out of the question this time. The lines at the drink stations were always 30-40 people deep. There was no way we were waiting in those lines.

We did everything we wanted to in EPCOT, went back to the resort to relax and then went back for the nighttime spectacular called Harmonious. That show was fantastic. We enjoyed it.

EPCOT wasn’t as great as I remember it. Maybe it was just too crowded. But we did have a good time there.

Magic Kingdom

Photo by Jayme McColgan

Honestly, Magic Kingdom has always been my least favorite park at Disney World. This time was no exception. Of the 3 parks we visited, Magic Kingdom was my least favorite.

The park feels incredibly dated. It’s in need of some major updating. The park was insanely packed. I think this park had the most people in it of all the parks we visited.

This day was our “marathon” day. We ended up at the park pretty early and then stayed for the fireworks show (Disney Enchantment).

We went on a lot of rides in Magic Kingdom. Not every ride, but we got onto a lot of them.

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train was a fun ride. We did pay the extra for the Individual Lightning Lane for it. I think this may be been the best ride in this park.

We originally thought Disney Enchantment (the firework show) was when the park closed (at 10pm or 11pm), but it was at 8pm or 9pm . We got really excited that the show was earlier. It meant that we could watch it and then head back to the resort. It had been a long week and we were all tired. We were flying home the next day, and I think we were ready to go.

Disney Enchantment was a good show, but I think I enjoyed Harmonious at EPCOT more.

Mugs

I have a problem with coffee mugs. I love coffee mugs. And I like buying them as souvenirs. I have bought a mug in Disney World almost every time we’ve been there, with the exception of the first time we were there.

I bought a coffee mug at Universal and was expecting to buy one at Disney World. I had room in my backpack for 2 mugs to take home.

I always buy a coffee mug in either the Emporium on Main Street USA in Magic Kingdom or Mouse Gear in EPCOT (which isn’t there anymore). I was expecting to do the same on this trip.

Before we settled in for the firework show, I must have walked through every store on Main Street USA 3 or 4 times looking for mugs. They had none that I could find.

I ended up angry ordering 2 mugs from the online Disney shop from our hotel room once we got back. I’m not happy or proud of it, but that’s what I did.

Parks Overall

The Disney World parks were great. Both EPCOT and Magic Kingdom do need serious updating.

Like I said before, I could visit Disney World once or twice a year and love it.

I know that my wife isn’t looking forward to going back to Disney World anytime soon, but I am. I’m not sure when we’ll get back, but I’m looking forward to it.

Universal Studios (Florida)
February 25, 2022 | 2 min read

Photo by Aditya Vyas

In January, we took a trip to Florida. While we were there, we went to Gatorland (which I’ve already written about), Universal Studios and Walt Disney World.

This post is about our trip to Universal Studios.

We went to Universal Studios for three days while we were in Florida. We visited both Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida. Three days is the perfect amount of time to make your way through both of these parks.

On our first day there, we went to Islands of Adventure. Islands of Adventure is a great park. They have plenty of thrill rides for the (older) kids and adults. There are also something’s for younger kids, but we skipped most of that.

On our second day there, we went to Universal Studios Florida. This park doesn’t have as many thrill rides, but we still found a lot of fun rides and stuff to do.

On our final day in the parks, we visited both parks, tried to go on any rides we missed and rode all of our favorites again. It rained this final day, so we didn’t get on every ride we wanted to, but we got every one but one.

My favorite areas of the parks are both of the Harry Potter areas. I have been a fan of Harry Potter, the movies and books for a long time. Universal Parks did such a great job on the Harry Potter areas. We also hit all of the rides in those areas. I think my favorite rides here were either Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts or Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. I’ve been on Escape from Gringotts a few times in the past, but Hagrid’s ride was new. I also love drinking Butterbeer in the parks, it’s a delicious treat. My daughter and I also used our magic wands in Diagon Alley to cast a bunch of spells.

The food in Universal was really good. I think it was better than I remember. Everything we had was good. There was one exception.

We had dinner in at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville in Universal CityWalk. They must have been severely understaffed. The service was terrible and the food was just so-so. When we saw our waitress, she was very helpful, but it seemed like she was handling every table in the restaurant. The food and service was bad enough that I don’t think we’ll be revisiting Margaritaville anywhere, anytime soon.

We didn’t stay at a hotel on-site. In the past, we’ve stayed at Loews Royal Pacific Resort And have loved it. But this time, since we were visiting so many different places, we decided to stay off-site.

We really had a great time in Universal Studios. I think we’ll go back there at some point.

Yellowstone
February 13, 2022 | 0 min read

Photo by Tim Peterson

A few weeks ago, we were looking for a new show to watch. We heard a lot of recommendations for Yellowstone.

We watched it, binged it really. All 4 seasons.

The show was fine. Just fine. I can’t say that it was excellent, or terrible. The show fell somewhere in the middle for me.

Yellowstone felt like a cross between Succession and Sons of Anarchy. We’ve only seen one season of Succession, but are planning on continuing with it. But we did watch 6 (SIX!) seasons of Sons of Anarchy before giving up (I did not like this show). Yellowstone felt like some weird crossover of these two shows.

For me, the main saving grace of this show is Kevin Costner and Jefferson White (as Jimmy). Most of the characters I either don’t like or am indifferent on. But I do like both Kevin Costner and Jefferson White’s characters.

Yellowstone is returning for a 5th season. We’ll watch it, but it’s not one of my favorite shows.

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