Near Real-Time Tracking

You can find out what I'm up to in near real-time via: Twitter (@sholden) or Facebook (sholden). I also recommend checking out my AztecMedia.net produced sites: Chvrches Fan Podcast (@chvrchespodcast), Tech News Radio (@technewsradio), Air Gapped Networks (@airgapnet), Jersey Boys Podcast, and Veteran Stories. [Updated: Nov. 20, 2018]


Thoughts & Tips For December 2018

IMG_20181120_123729-01Photo by Steve Holden**

World Upside Down

Like I mentioned at the start of last month's monthly Thoughts & Tips blog post (November 2018), my Mom passed away unexpectedly on October 31, 2018, and since then that has been my main focus (grieving, family, planning, paperwork, coordination, decisions, etc).  The love and support of God, my family, my Life Group, my church, friends, co-workers, CHVRCHES Podcast Fans, etc. have been a complete answer to prayer, and have given me a great deal of comfort. I am still hurting. I am still very sad. I miss her very much.

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The picture in top left is me with my Mom and her Mom (my Omi) in my backyard at our first house on Palm Avenue in Sacramento.  The top right picture is us visiting Hawaii to see my Uncle Lucky.  The bottom left (B&W) has a great Mom smile, and bottom right is me on the first day of being adopted by my Mom and Dad.

Thankful For

There are so many little micro stories of blessing and thanksgiving around my Mom's passing.  I need to process these more, so I can't share them yet, but every time I think of them, tears come to my eyes.

My son Conrad and I went up to Roseville, CA to work on donating as much as possible from my Mom's house a couple of weekends back.  We made a lot of progress, and took one afternoon off to go out to Folsom, CA for some distractions.  We had a good time learning more about the first power plant in the area that sent most of its power to Sacramento:

20181110_190009-COLLAGEAnother great distraction this month was at a concert hosted at the conference my wife goes to with her school co-workers ever year just before Thanksgiving.  This year it was in the Palm Springs area.  The evening band was Checker'd Past (Facebook), and they were an amazing 80's Cover Band:

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If you get a chance to see them, then take it!  Here is a link to their setlist!

Health Update

Things continue in a positive direction with regards to being physically active and working out regularly.  I do enjoy morning Pilates classes at my local YMCA, and then a swim workout in the pool before work twice a week.  I am diagnosed with a bulged disk (L5-S1) [see July Update], but at this point it is not negatively impacting my day to day life.

Technology

The new Kindle Paperwhite is great.  I highly recommend it -- lighter, water proof, and faster.

I'm a big fan of Chromebooks.  My main computer has been based on Chrome OS for several years.  I just upgraded to the Acer Chromebook Flip 13 as it supports Linux, which my current Chromebook does not.  I am also enjoying the touch screen and need to try out the Wacom pen some more.  It does have a fan which is weird to hear go on and off as it tries to cool the processor.

Future

We are now into the full Christmas season and we typically have a jammed packed Holiday season: church services, parties, and family events.  December is always full of things to do and memories to make.  If you are reading this, then I hope you have a marvelously amazing 2018 Christmas and Holiday Season.  If you are not, and need someone to talk to, then please call me at 619-631-4433. 

Tips

Given all the stress this month, I've really been using this Hof Breathing Method that Kevin Rose posted on Instagram.

I have been trying to document my adventures in bourbon!

Quote I'm Thinking About

"Every single thing that has ever happened in your life is preparing you for a moment that is yet to come." - Anonymous

**The wood is from Christy's Dad's backyard. He cut down a tree at his house that needed to be removed, and got some great options for a future project.  I think the logs could be worked into a foundation for a glass table.


Getting Started With Bourbon (Part 1)

Like I mentioned in my November Update, I recently watched this great documentary about bourbon called "Neat."  This got me started on a deep dive on bourbons (and whiskeys).   I'm going to update this post throughout the next month or so until I reach a good point of wrapping up my getting started story.

A little timeline introduction (sorry it is going to be sad -- see top of November Update).  I was in Omaha, NE for work, and traveling with some co-workers.  Several of them are really into bourbon (I mean really).  And they recommended I watch the documentary Neat to learn more about bourbon.   I happened to get a $5 credit from Google Play Video recently, so I used it to rent the documentary and loaded on my laptop to watch as we flew home on October 31, 2018. I actually watched it twice on the plane, the second time I took about three full 3x5 cards of notes (which I'm still working on getting through). Here comes the really sad part.  Later that evening on October 31, 2018, I learned from my sister Michelle that my Mom had unexpectedly passed away on Oct. 31, and I was on the first flight up to Sacramento on November 1, 2018.  More on updates in my December Update (posted on Dec. 1, 2018).

So the first bourbon I tried after watching Neat was Four Roses Small Batch that I bought in Roseville, CA (near Sacramento):

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I tried it 'neat' first, but didn't really like much, so I then had it 'on the rocks.'  Which I liked a lot better.  I'm probably going to be leaning towards 'on the rocks' as my standard delivery method as I like the ice cooling the bourbon, and the mixing with water as the ice melts.  I need to come back to trying Four Roses again as I left the bottle up in Roseville, and "someone" drank it all (enough on that topic).

The next bourbon I tried was Woodford Reserve that I bought at Costco after coming back from Sacramento since it was highly recommend and well covered in the Neat documentary:

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I also tried this one 'neat' and then 'on the rocks,' and I'm definitely becoming a big fan of  'on the rocks.'  I am still (thank God) slowly still sampling the Woodford Reserve (1.75L).  I did use it to make Old Fashioned on Thanksgiving for family members (which turned out great), but there is still a good amount in the bottle. [NOTE: I also recently priced a bunch of bourbons in stores near my house.]

The next bourbon I tried was back on a Southwest flight to Sacramento the following weekend -- after the first trip -- with my son Conrad to work on settling my Mom's estate/trust/house.  I tried the Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon on the rocks (no pictures).  It was not as smooth as the Four Roses or the Woodford Reserve.  It did get better as the ice melted, and the last sip was really good.  Since it is 101 proof I think that is why the taste was so foreign to me.  Most of the bourbons listed above were a lower proof.

The next tasting came the following weekend when I got to go out to the Palm Springs area with my wife and her co-workers.  They went to a conference, and I tried to get organized and relaxed after two+ weeks of not being relaxed at all.  This led to a tasting by the fire pit of Bulleit Rye Whiskey:

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I really like the first picture by the fire.  The second picture was the pour at the bar which had me second guessing ordering it.  First it was pretty darn expensive, and second it was a lot of whiskey (most of my own pours were in the 1 oz. range).  Luckily we were at the fire for a while (listening to Scott Carter -- he is excellent), and talking.  I really like this whiskey and can see myself getting a larger bottle in the future.  The flavor was great (probably because of the rye), the color was lighter than the Woodford Reserve, and didn't have that super strong flavor like the Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon.

This led me to think I needed an easy way to try as many bourbons as possible to figure out my personal palette,  and not in the expensive way of ordering at a bar or buying bottles that I might not enjoy.  I got a recommendation to try out the smaller 0.5 ML sample sizes (like the ones on airplanes - a.k.a. minis), so I checked out BEVMO (a.k.a Beverages and More), and ended up with a pretty good collection just before Thanksgiving:

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Since then (today is 11/29/2018), I have tried two.  First was the Evan Williams which was recommended to me by travel writer, teacher, and podcaster Rolf Potts:

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And second was from Jim Beam:

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I liked the Evan Williams better than the Jim Beam. Both of them were very easy to drink from the first sip 'on the rocks.'  I thought the Evan Williams was smoother, and it had a flavor that was easy to approach.  I wish I still had some Four Roses Small Batch to compare it to, as my memory on that bourbon has already faded a lot.

In conclusion (draft as of 11/29/2018) here are my bourbon/whiskey favorites:

  1. Woodford Reserve
  2. Evan Williams
  3. Bulleit Rye
  4. Four Roses Small Batch
  5. Jim Bean Original
  6. Wild Turkey 101

Thoughts & Tips For November 2018


Very Sad News

The majority of this post was written before I learned that my wonderful mother - Marlies Holden - passed away unexpectedly yesterday (10-31-2018).  I am currently at the airport leaving for Sacramento.  Please pray for me, my family, and all those hurting right now.


Image-from-rawpixel-id-430588-jpegImage by rawpixel.com

Health Update

Again ... the Pilates physical therapy courses I have been taking have been making a big difference in my overall physical health.  My core is stronger and it has been almost 5 months since my major back pain incident -- basically everything is going better than expected (no pain, no real negative effects).  I am slowly getting back to running, but trying to keep that limited by doing intervals of running for 1 minute and then walking for 30 seconds (repeat 28x times).

Technology

I just ordered the new Kindle Paperwhite and I'm looking forward to the upgrade.  I really like reading on my Kindle vice phone or iPad.  

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Thankful For

My work related trips in September were good and productive. I really enjoyed the National Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio; and highly recommend going if you have 4-6 hours:

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And the trip to Omaha, NE was great because the weather was very enjoyable (these are pictures from an afternoon run):

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My last David Allen Getting Things Done (GTD) class for FY2018 went well.  And the concert with Maggie Rogers and Mallrat was awesome:

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Future

We have some tentative plans to go to the mountains the weekend of Veterans Day, and then a trip to Palm Springs area just before Thanksgiving.  The week of Thanksgiving should be fun as we always host Thanksgiving dinner, and the family and some close friends play a friendly game of touch football before eating.  And then we can also start decorating for Christmas.

Tips

I watched on the plane back from Omaha, NE a very interesting documentary called "Neat." Basically it is well done history of bourbon in the United States.  It really captured my attention, and I think I going to be deep diving on the topic of bourbon for a while.

If you are using Google Chrome, then I highly recommend checking out the extension Clipboard History 2.  It keeps a running log (as long as you want) of items you have cut-n-pasted.  I find it really useful to cut down re-typing links or other material when writing.  It also is a handy history of what you have been working on.  If you cut-n-paste passwords though, you might want to look at the settings around clearing the history after a certain number of items, and maybe not do a cloud sync of your clips.  I haven't looked into the security of the data protection in the tool.  Better safe than sorry.

Quote I'm Thinking About

“Do your own thinking independently. Be the chess player, not the chess piece.” – Ralph Charell


Thoughts & Tips For October 2018

Image-from-rawpixel-id-433988-jpegImage by rawpixel.com

Health Update

Things are slowly getting better.  The Pilates classes I have been taking are really making a difference.  My core is really getting stronger.  I did pretty well on my 2nd Sprint Triathlon beating my expected time by a couple of minutes:

IMG_20180916_055951-01-COLLAGETechnology

I finally broke down and got some Bluetooth workout/running/gym headphones.  I think I picked these because of the price, they were from Anker which I think has good Q&A, and the overall reviews.

Thankful For

This past September had a lot to be thankful for.

My friend Mark Horstman from Manager Tools was in San Diego teaching a group of leaders at my work how to do Better Interviewing.  I highly recommend this training:

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I got to see my favorite band Chvrches with my family.  My daughter and I were in the front row with my friend Bruce from Texas.  It was a very memorable show:

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Also the opening band was Lo Moon and they are awesome:

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My nieces wedding was also wonderful:

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And my last training class for Getting Things Done (GTD) at work in FY2018 was great.  It is awesome to be able to help others better manage their lives in a productive and effective way:

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Future

I have a couple of work related trips that should be very interesting and I am planning to learn a lot at them.

Another great musician - Maggie Rogers -- and her opening band Mallrat are coming to San Diego in September and I'm so looking forward to seeing them live.

Tips

Do you have a Roomba that is running slow because of old batteries?  This was out situation over the summer.  I'd charge the Roomba and then it would only be able to do half the room before needing to be recharged.  I got this battery replacement and it is like we have a new Roomba.

I have probably said this before, but 3x5 cards seem to be the best possible note taking solution for me.  I recently bought some cards that were "not the cheapest" and had some  thickness to them.  The newer cards are very nice to write on and because they are firm and solid, more enjoyable to use.

Quote I'm Thinking About

“If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.” — Jack Kornfield


Thoughts & Tips For September 2018

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Picture from RawPixel

Health Update

Back in July and August I mentioned my recent lower back injury with sciatica down my left leg.  I've seen some improvement in my numbness on my foot via some customized pilates physical therapy.  I'll know more after I complete the total of 10 sessions (5 1on1; 5 group). I'm working hard to avoid surgery.

Technology

I recently picked up a Philips Hue starter kit that came with two bulbs and hub for our master bedroom.  The main reason was to get less "blue light" 1-2 hours before heading to bed.  There are a lot of positive health and sleep reasons for reducing blue light before going to bed (Harvard Medical School.) So far it seems to be working well with the Google Home & Google WIFI system we have working at home and the Hue app is pretty easy to use also.

Thankful For

This year's DEFCON was amazing and you can check out my notes from the conference here: TechNewsRadio.com.

My favorite band - CHVRCHES - played a show for Jimmy Kimmel and I was able to attend.  Several videos of the performance can be found on YouTube: Video#1, Video#2, & Video#3. It was very cool to hang out with other CHVRCHES Fan Podcast friends and I managed to get a picture with the band after the show.

IMG_20180814_190909-02We also had another wonderful couple of days camping at San Elijo State Beach

Future

I completed another Vital Smarts' 1-day Getting Things Done (GTD) class in August and I have one more to do in September to close out FY2018. 

My next Sprint Triathlon (500-m swim, 15-km bike, & 5-km run) will be September 16, 2018. 

CHVRCHES are coming to San Diego on September 20, 2018.

My niece Haley is marrying Alex at the end of the month!

Tips

I really enjoyed the new Getting Things Done (GTD) book called "Getting Things Done for Teens."  It is an easy read, has great examples, and a bunch of new perspectives that is very refreshing.

Speaking about reducing "blue light" I've also turned on the reduce blue light options on all my devices from sunset to sunrise.  I've been sleeping much better the last couple of weeks since doing this blue light reduction and not having any caffeine after 3-pm in the afternoon.  I got these ideas to try out via Kevin Rose's podcast on the topic of sleep with Professor Mathew Walker.

Quote I'm Thinking About

“You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.”  — C.S. Lewis


Thoughts & Tips For August 2018

  Image-from-rawpixel-id-436187-jpegPicture from RawPixel

Thrown For A Curve (Update)

See July update for my first report on my recent lower back injury with sciatica down my left leg.  Things are improving, but I'm still having numbness on my left foot and periodic spasms & tightening on my calf and glute muscles.  A review of my MRI with an orthopedic surgeon opened up the possibility of future surgery but that is still TBD.

Technology

I was able to move to Windows 10 on a new Dell tablet at work before the end of June 2018 deadline.  All in all it is working great, and I like having Type-C connectors on my work tablet and my personal HP Chromebook 13G1. For instance the same power adapter can be used on both.

Thankful For

Our July camping trip to San Elijo State Beach was awesome, and I did my first Sprint Triathlon (400m swim, 15-km bike, and 5-km run). I really enjoyed the sprint triathlon format even with my "physical recovery" slowing me down.  I'm already planning to do another one in September.

Future

I completed another Vital Smarts' 1-day Getting Things Done (GTD) class in July.  I currently only have material available for two more classes -- one in August, and then one in September.

DEFCON is coming up in August.  That should be fun.

We have another San Elijo State Beach camping trip planned for August.

Tips

I've been using some cream with Arnica on my sore muscles.  It is really good.

Quote I'm Thinking About

"The enemy often tries to make us attempt and start many projects so that we will be overwhelmed with too many tasks, and therefore achieve nothing and leave everything unfinished. Sometimes he even suggests the wish to undertake some excellent work that he foresees we will never accomplish. This is to distract us from the prosecution of some less excellent work that we would have easily completed. He does not care how many plans and beginnings we make, provided nothing is finished." - St. Francis de Sales


Thoughts & Tips For July 2018

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Picture from RawPixel

Thrown For A Curve

On the morning of June 5th I tried to sit down in my office chair before going to work, and suffered some major lower back pain and sciatica down my left leg. In an instant was pretty much in deep pain and immobile. Luckily my son Conrad was able immediately take me in to see my doctor, and I was given some medication to ease the pain, relax the muscles, and hopefully heal the back pain area.  I am slowly recovering, but I am still experiencing some tingling in my left foot, so I have an MRI being scheduled and physical therapy planned for early July.  I pretty much can't run (which is a big transition for me), however I can swim, walk/hike, and ride a bike so that is better than being on bed rest for sure.  Currently most of my exercise is being supplemented with 45 minutes of daily stretches and strength training.

Technology

I was able to move to Windows 10 on a new Dell tablet at work before the end of June 2018 deadline.  All in all it is working great, and I like having Type-C connectors on my work tablet and my personal HP Chromebook 13G1. For instance the same power adapter can be used on both.

Thankful For

My 5oth birthday party was great.  I had it at one of my favorite breweries -- Burning Beard.

I am thankful that I have improved as much as I have, and I need to realize how much my current mobility is when compared to June 5th.

I wasn't able to finish the MBSE class in early June because of my back injury, but the 2nd course at the end of June was good.  I passed so I'll be completing my certification in Systems Engineering (Level 2) soon.

Future

I am offering three more Vital Smarts' 1-day Getting Things Done (GTD) classes at work -- one in July, one in August, and then one in September.

DEFCON is coming up in August.  That should be fun.

We also have a camping trip to San Elijo State Beach planned for the end of July.

Tips

One of things that made it possible for me to sleep during the first two weeks of back pain & sciatica was a TENS machine that I got on Amazon last year  to help with healing an achilles injury I had.  I am now a super big fan of the TENS devices.    

I am pretty excited to share my Retro 80's Synth playlist (also on Spotify) that I started as part of www.chvrchespodcast.com. It is especially cool when fans of the podcast say they are enjoying the playlist.

Quote I'm Thinking About

"Your word is pure magic, and misuse of your word is black magic.” - Don Miguel Ruiz


Thoughts & Tips For June 2018

Kindfolk-703-unsplashPhoto by kindfolk on Unsplash

Technology

I took one of my Wyze cameras on travel in May to Washington, DC with me to watch over all my gear in my hotel room while I was at out of the room.  It worked out well.  No issues.

I am moving from a Windows 7 HP tablet/laptop to a Windows 10 Dell tablet at work by the end of June.  A lot of stuff to do to make that transition happen.

Thankful For

Mother's Day was great and Memorial day weekend was a lot of fun around our house.  We also had a good time seeing the Star War's Solo movie for Spencer's birthday.  The previous week Spencer and I saw the very funny Deadpool 2 movie.

My favorite band CHVRCHES released their 3rd album "Love Is Dead." If you are a crazy fan like me then please listen to the CHVRCHES Fan Podcast.

Future

June is going to be busy: my 50th Birthday Party, a lot of high school graduation parties with friends' kids graduating, and a possible trip to DC at the end of the month.  Plus I am taking two big courses in June - one on Systems Engineering (late in June) and another on Model Based Systems Engineering (early in June).

I also have three more Vital Smarts' new 1-day Getting Things Done (GTD) classes scheduled for the summer at work -- one in July, one in August, and then one in September.

Tips

I really like these instant coffee packets from South Korea -- Maxim Mocha Gold Mild Coffee Mix.  They are great for travel, camping, and mixing it up from standard coffee. And these sugar free sweeteners are great with sparkling water plus your favorite adult alcohol like vodka -- Jelly Belly Liquid Drink Mix.

Quote I'm Thinking About

"Society has arisen out of the works of peace; the essence of society is peacemaking." - Ludwig von Mises


Reflections On Mike Foster's Rescue Academy

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Back in February 2018, I was blessed to be able to take a two-day course taught by Mike Foster at his Rescue Academy live event.  I was introduced to Mike via his Fun Therapy Podcast from the Relevant magazine, and many of the stories in Season One of Fun Therapy deeply touched me.  

I personally try to be pretty aware of my strengths and weaknesses, and having a caring heart for those who are hurting is one of my strengths.  Showing it -- putting it in action -- and doing something constructive with that caring heart -- is another thing.  I know I could use some improvement in that area, especially in one-on-one situations.

So the big attraction for attending this event is Mike's tagline for Rescue Academy is "Helping You Help Others." That is what I wanted and needed.

What did I get out of the event?  In summary, I'll share four things with you here (see my contact info below if you want more):

  1. I learned a lot!  I ended up with 8 pages of notes plus the class workbook, several of Mike's books, and a copy of Five Dates (which Christy and I have been doing). In the end, the best thing from a "knowledge & skills" standpoint was Mike's practical counseling model for sitting down with someone who is hurting, deeply listening, and then helping them without judgement.
  2. I was really inspired by the other people taking the class.  It was a diverse group, but everyone had a heart for service, helping others, and encouraged each other.
  3. As we unpacked where hurt, shame, and pain comes from, I realized that my own inner critic has been one of my biggest personal struggles, and something that I needed to work on, forgive myself for, and lean more on Jesus to heal the damage I've done to myself. 
  4. Mike is a dynamic and well organized presenter! Not only did I take notes on all the material, but I also learned a lot on how to effectively deliver course material to a class of students. This has helped me to better deliver the Vital Smart's David Allen Getting Things Done (GTD) course at work. Double-bonus points!

Mike's next class is May 17-18, 2018.  I highly recommend considering attending if you want to learn how to help others and yourself.

If you have any questions, comments, thoughts, etc. then please let me know via email or connect with on Twitter (@sholden).


Thoughts & Tips For May 2018

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Photo by Tod Seitz on Unsplash

Technology

The new Wyze camera is working out great.  I've also gotten the Android app to run on my Chromebook which makes monitoring at home much easier.

Thankful For

I have completed three Vital Smarts' new 1-day Getting Things Done (GTD) at work and I'm now a Certified GTD Trainer!  I have another class the first week of May. And I'm planning to deliver three more classes before the end of September.

I really enjoyed Infinity Wars.  Great movie. The ending is massive.

Our trip to Disneyland was a blast.

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Future

It looks like in May there is of course Mother's Day, a possible trip to Washington DC, and Memorial Day weekend.

Our church is planning to pack 100,000 meals on May 6th.  This is double the 50,000 we did last year!

Tip

I really like this computer reading glasses.

Quote I'm Thinking About

"Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm." - Winston Churchill