Thoughts & Tips for February 2018

IMG_7424-EFFECTSPhoto by Steve Holden


I found out a gotcha with my new Zoom H6 Portable Audio Recorder.  You need to format the card on the H6 before you record anything.  If you don't, then the files saved are in a strange pseudo file system that can't be recognized on desktop OSes (Mac, Windows, Chromebook, Linux, etc).  To get the audio off you'll probably have to use Audio Out and record the audio on another device (like a PC running Audacity).

Thankful For

The trip to Hawaii with Conrad was awesome.  We got to swim with sharks!

Hamilton was good. I am glad I got to see it.


I am still working on setting up Vital Smarts' new 1-day Getting Things Done (GTD) training classes at work.  I need to create a Wiki for the course, use our training system to create a record for each class, and reserve rooms for three dates into the future.

This two-day course at Rescue Academy with Mike Foster from Feb 8-9, 2018 is going to be interesting.


Regular morning routines before I go on a run have really helped me have the right mindset for the day.  I start off praying and reading a daily devotional (~10 minutes), and then I doing a series of pushups, stretches, and situps before running (~10 minutes).

Google Keep has two good reminder options.  One is time based - like set a reminder for April 1, 2018.  The other is geolocation based.  The next time at "Costco" buy XYZ.

Thoughts & Tips for January 2018

IMG_6963Photo by Steve Holden


I got a Zoom H6 Portable Audio Recorder for Christmas (see below).  I'm really excited to try it out in Hawaii (see below).

Thankful For

The A Holiday Variety Show in Hollywood, CA at the Fonda on Wednesday, December 13, 2017 was awesome.  My favorite band CHVRCHES played three songs.  It was awesome.  UPDATE (1/23/2019): More details if you are interested. 

Christmas was awesome.


My son won a trip to Hawaii and is taking me - January 2 - 7, 2018.  

We also have tickets for the musical Hamilton in San Diego, CA in January 2018.


I'm still prepping for teaching my first set of classes using Vital Smarts material for a new 1-day Getting Things Done (GTD) training class at work. 

And I signed up for a two-day course way out my comfort zone - Rescue Academy with Mike Foster - in February 2018.  I'm going to learn a lot, and hopefully help more!

Running Tips

Stretch (~10 minutes) plus do several different sets of situps and pushups before a run. Do pull-ups after your run.

Rotate shoes everyday.  I have 5 pairs of shoes and rotate through them.  I usually just get the basic running shoe at Costco.  This has worked better for me than having two high-end running shoes and rotating between them.  I switch out a set of shoes after about 6 months.

Thoughts & Tips for December 2017

Jamie-hagan-37691-unsplashPhoto by Jamie Hagan on Unsplash


My primary computer for the last couple of years has been a Chromebook.  I recently upgraded to an HP Chromebook 13 G1, and I'm loving the 16-GB of RAM and Intel Core m7 processor.  I was able to find it on Craigslist, so I got a pretty good deal on it. Review of this chromebook at PC Magazine.

Another great find on Craigslist was a Garmin Fenix 3HR for tracking my runs, swims, and other health data.


I'm really looking to A Holiday Variety Show in Hollywood, CA at the Fonda on Wednesday, December 13, 2017.  My favorite band CHVRCHES is organizing and playing as part of the show.

My family and I are planning to see the new Star Wars movie on Saturday, December 16, 2017.  I'm very excited about Episode 8!


Last month I took a today training class from Vital Smarts that will enable me to teach the new 1-day Getting Things Done (GTD) at work.  It was a great experience and it will be awesome to be able to help others with GTD at work. As an introvert this really got me out of my comfort zone. More info on train the trainer programs at Vital Smarts.


One of the key take-a-ways from the GTD training was looking at my Next Action list before doing anything in the morning like checking email.   While hard to do at first, this has really given me a focus on what was on my plate for the day in a way I've never experienced before.

During the month of December I re-evaluate all the email lists I am on.  I usually unsubscribe to 90% of them.  It makes my inbox for the new year all fresh!

Google Keep Tip - Getting Things Done (GTD) Workflow Lists Via Colors

For the last couple of years I have had my personal* implementation of David Allen Getting Things Done (GTD) deployed in Google Keep.  

Google continues making very useful updates to Google Keep: Self Organizing Notes (via Tech Times), Diagrams (via The Verge), and Improved Labels (via Google). These have made doing GTD (Wikipedia) in Google Keep even easier.

Here is how I am doing the major GTD Workflow Lists using the Color feature in Google Keep (great support site) for items:

image from

It would be great if you could rename the colors but that currently isn't a current feature.  So I created above categorization, and through the course of using them this way I've been able to remember them by color and position.  I also printed and laminated the above graphic, and have it positioned easy to read in my desk area.

The Google Keep search function lets you search by color (just two clicks on my Chromebook, tap-slide-tap on Android) so I can see all my Next Actions by searching on RED.  Or all my Projects by searching on BLUE. 

These are all pretty standard workflow list categories.  The one that I've added that might not be familiar to you is Dashboard (YELLOW).  This concept also came David Allen from a conversation that he had on a podcast when he was writing his Making It All Work book that came after the Getting Things Done book.

In that podcast, David described a MindMap he was using called his Dashboard that was anchoring him to his big ticket items for any given moment.  Since things were moving very fast for him at the time it was a great way to stay focus and prioritize his attention.  I've used this concept at work for years with my work* MindMap/Outlook system, and just moved it to Google Keep isn't it really isn't MindMap specific.

So I check my Dashboard regularly.  These change day-to-day and sometimes by the hour. The top part of the YELLOW search are notes that I want to see on a very regular basis and the items that are archived are actually my Dashboard references:


I also created a Label called "+colors" and have made this handy reference that is always one click away via Label selection or search:


 If you have any questions or comments then please let me know: @sholden on Twitter.

*Yes, I have two separate systems which is not recommended by David Allen but works for me.  One is for work using only work resources (computers, software, etc.). And one for home/personal that uses my own personal resources.  When I need to bridge them I usually use email.


If You Can Do One Thing In San Diego ...

1st Draft Posted: April 6, 2016 - 2113 PT


Motivation: One of my favorite bands Chvrches is coming to San Diego next week (April 14, 2015 - SOLD OUT) and this is a gift to them. If they have time and have a good experience doing any of these, then I've paid them back just a little bit for the joy I've gotten from their music and how they treat their fans.  If you have other suggestions, questions, thoughts, etc. ... then leave a comment or let me know on Twitter @ sholden.

Thrill Ride

Burger & Fries*

Walk On The Beach

Pizza & Beer




Something New

Really Good Mexican Food + View To Die For + Great Place To Camp

The Best Mexican Food



Ice Cream

*I really like burgers & fries at In-N-Out and Five Guys.  These are worth experiencing if you haven't.  Picking one is hard.

Recipe: No-bake Breakfast Cookies


I recently made the following no-bake breakfast cookies, but I had to substitute honey with Log Cabin Syrup and flaked cereal with Cheerios. They turned out awesome (my serving size ended up being eight).


1/2 cup honey (or light corn syrup)
1/2 cup non-fat dry milk (instant)
1/2 cup raisins (or chopped dates)
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 1/2 cups flaked cereal (coarsely crushed)


  1. Heat honey and peanut butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Stir until blended.
  2. Remove from heat. Stir in dry milk.
  3. Fold in cereal and raisins. Drop by heaping tablespoons onto waxed paper to form mounds.
  4. Cool to room temperature.
  5. Store in refrigerator.

Nutritional values per serving (makes about 12 servings): 160 calories, 5 g total fat (1 g saturated fat), 26 g carbohydrate, 4 g protein, 1 g dietary fiber, 110 mg sodium.

Originally posted by Montana State University Extension, Nutrition Education Programs via What's Cooking, USDA Mixing Bowl

Photo Tip - Try Black and White (B&W)

I am not an expert in photography but here is a tip that has been useful for me.  

When I get a picture that has some sort of issue like to much light or not completely in focus, I do a conversion to black and white (B&W) to see what I get.

Here is a recent example (using Picasa 3 on Windows) that looks pretty good to me:

Carson's Birthday Party

Do you have any other suggestions for situations like this?

Fixing Our Pool Pump and Leak On The Cheap

Over the last couple of years, slowly and surely there has been an air leak into our pool pumping system.  Everything seem to point to the old metal pipes underground with the line pulling water out of the pool to the pump more probable than line pumping the water back in the pool.

This last month things got significantly worse and we'd need to do something.  There was just too much air in the line to pull water through the system to keep the pool clean.

We got a couple of quotes to dig up the old pipes and replace them.  You know you are in trouble when both quotes came back in the same large ballpark called "Unaffordable."  

I was curious of what type of portable pumping options there might be out there to keep things going until we could decide what to do.  So I started Googling. And then it hit me as I'm looking at these portable pumps -- I had all the pieces they had.  I just needed  to run the pipping where the leak was over ground.  It couldn't be that easy could it? Well, it turn out to be significantly easier and less expensive that expected.


My friend Gary listened to my plan and agreed to help.  I got all the parts and pieces at Home Depot for under $40; and Gary was able to take my plan and make it work in just under 2 hours.  We capped off the old pipe, hooked up a new line from the pump into the pool, tested it for any leaks, and even created a DIY safety lid out of spare wood.

The "re-mastered" system is working great, and I believe it will work long enough for us to figure out what we really want to do in the pool area and budget accordingly.  Thanks Gary!


TIP - Outlook 2013 Workaround for IMAP Test Account Feature

I ran into a "blocking function" in getting IMAP working with Outlook 2013 recently.  There is a feature in Outlook 2013 that requires you to Test Account Settings ... before an IMAP email account will be created the first time.  The testing is mandatory with no apparent way to turn it off.

It turns out that the IMAP server I was trying to connect to has a digital certificate issue that prompts via GUI a user acknowledgement to agree to use the certificate.  However, when you are doing a Test Account Settings  ... setup the first time the certificate dialog never comes up and the testing fails. A failed test means the account won't be created.

The work around I found was to create a working IMAP connection using my GMAIL account, and then re-editing the IMAP settings for the server that I wanted to connect to.  And in that case you can turn off the Test Account Settings option.

Recipe - Healthy Corn Dogs


A while back (just after Christmas) Carson and I made our own version of the following corn dog recipe from the Skinny Fork called "Baked Whole Wheat Corn Dogs.".

We basically kept the main parts of the recipe but didn't do the following:

  • No Brown Sugar
  • No Paprika
  • No Cayenne
  • No Chili Powder
  • No Poppy Seeds

We also did half the recipe getting 6 turkey corn dogs and not the 10-12 turkey corn dogs if you follow the recipe.

They turned out great, but they did need a good helping of either ketchup or mustard depending on your taste.  Making them very plain and then seeing what we could do with them in the future was our plan.  

I think adding the spices/flavors would be good for anyone without picky kids. I also think these would be great with Hebrew National hot dogs or a pre-cooked sausage.

By the way, the picture above was the 2nd picture.  Here is the 1st picture with an expert photo bomb from Conrad --