Thoughts & Tips For March & April 2019

Photos_2016_9_1_fst_840fcd2b47a-9065-4481-98e1-9d5d4f66b32eBrown Wood Plank

Sorry I never got around to posting in March 2019 ...

Getting Back To Healthy

TritonI went a little backwards on my back injury (bulged disc), and issues with my left leg (sciatica) since the last post in February.  The week before my last sprint triathlon I hurt my back trying to lift something that I shouldn't have. I took the next 6 days off, and then I did the UCSD Triton Sprint Triathlon (actually it was Dual-atholon -- 1.5km run, 21-km bike, & 5-km run -- as they had to cancel the swim because of rain run-off health concerns).  The bad news is that I fell off my bike in transition and hurt my knee, hip, elbow, and hands.  I was able to push through it during race day, but by the following day I couldn't run at all.  So, I've pretty much taken the full month off from running, and did a treatment of steroids to get me back to how I felt back in late October (run 60 seconds, walk 30 seconds, repeat 28x times).  Thank goodness for a good stretching routine, walking in the morning (instead of running), Pilates (2 days a week), and swimming (3 days a week) during this non-running time.  Hopefully April will be a month of full run recovery, and then maybe another sprint triathlon early in May.

Thankful For

A bunch of stuff has been going on that has been really cool:

Technology & Tips

I have tried several waterproof headphones for listening to music while swimming. These are the best so far: Underwater Audio's HydroActive Short-Cord Waterproof Headphones.

Since Apple started supporting podcasts in iTunes, I've always used some sort of Apple iPod for my own listening. In my quest to simplify my life, I decided to retire the Apple iPod Touch I've been using the last couple of years with my Android phone. This decision was basically about having one less device to care and feed.  After testing several Android application options, I finally made the switch to using Podcast Addict for Android. (Support) So far, so good!

Bourbon & Whiskey Update

Here is a collage of recent bourbons** that I've tried since January (last post on the topic):

BourboncollectionIf I had to rank these, then it would be in the following order: #1.) Longbranch, #2.) Basil Hayden's; #3.) IW Harper; #4.) Buffalo Trace; #5.) Cooper's Mark; #6.) Elmer T. Lee; #7.) Old Grand-Dad, and #8.) Sunshine Rye Whiskey (not really a bourbon - distilled in Ramona, CA).  The only one I wouldn't buy again is unfortunately the Rye Whiskey.

** Another bourbon that I've tried that I didn't take a picture of yet is Woodford Reserve Double Oaked. It is by far my overall favorite bourbon. #1.

Craft Beer Update

I made a collection of photos of recent craft beers that I've tried over the 1st Quarter of 2019. All of them were good and recommended.


There is a lot going on in April:

  • Carson's play is also playing again next weekend, followed by her Sweet 16 Birthday party the following week.
  • Christy and I are celebrating our 25th Wedding Anniversary this month!
  • Carson and I get to see Chvrches on April 18, 2019.
  • Finishing up Lent and celebrating Easter!
  • We are doing my Mom's memorial on Saturday, April 27, 2019 in Roseville, CA. (RSVP)

Quote I'm Thinking About

"Yesterday's the past, tomorrow's the future, but today is a gift. That's why it's called the present." - Bill Keane

Thoughts & Tips For February 2019


Photo by Cristina Gottardi on Unsplash

Slowly Improving To A Better State

Per previous posts (Nov Dec Jan) -- my Mom's sudden and unexpected passing on October 31, 2018 -- is still consuming a great deal of my energy and attention. Things are slowly getting sorted out, and there appears to be on the horizon some resolution on her house and the rest of her trust.  I am definitely learning a lot about patience and prayer.

Things are pretty stable with my back (I haven't had any pain since mid June), and my core strength has really improved with Pilates.  I am swimming on average three times a week and I started to run a full 5K on my run days vice run a minute then walk for 30 seconds (repeat 28x times).  Hopefully this will continue to be status quo.  I have signed up for a Sprint Triathlon in February, and look forward to trying out my new swimming wet suit (my previous race used my boogie boarding suit which worked but isn't ideal for swimming).

Thankful For

I had a safe trip to DC this past week.  My original flights had issues, but in the end everything worked out for the best.  And I was able to flow with the changes without getting myself super frustrated.  I think that might be because of the book on stoicism that I reference below, and some of the mindfulness training using Kevin Roses' Oak app that I mentioned last month.

Our family hosted two Australian students for a couple of weeks at the beginning of January.  They were a great addition to our family and we got to do a bunch of cool San Diego things together.

After much prayer, and many starts & stops with ups and downs our church has finally filled our Pastor Of Family Connections. YES!

Technology & Tips

As I mentioned last month (Jan) ... I switched my main Personal GTD "external brain" to Nirvana.  It is a really solid product, and I have to say I am very happy with it.  Check it out if you get a chance.  I'm still using Google Keep for tracking checklists and reference material.

I am really enjoying the Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey from Basil Haydens.

My recent upgrade to the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite has really increased my daily reading.  The two books I'm reading daily for this year are: Unshakeable by Christian Cain (this is part of my morning devotional), and The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living by Ryan Holiday & Stephen Hanselman (I read this in the afternoon when I take a break around 3 p.m.).  I also just finished the following book Brain Rules (Updated and Expanded): 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School 2nd Edition by John Medina.


I have another trip to DC the first week of February, and then a bunch of meetings and a conference the 2nd week of February.  And then my UCSD Tritonman Sprint Triathlon which should be challenging but fun! Summer vacation planning is also starting to come together and it looks like June I'm going to be able to attend GTD Summit in Amsterdam.

Quote I'm Thinking About

“Time flies. It’s up to you to be the navigator.” – Robert Orben [THOUGHT: That’s why time is more about compass, then clock.]

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.


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:


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.


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.


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. 


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):


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:


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:


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:


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:


And second was from Jim Beam:


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.

UPDATE 12/23/2018 ... the next whiskey that I tasted was Gentleman Jack:


From what I can remember I didn't like it much at first, but after about 10 minutes or so with more ice melting it tasted much better.  This was followed by the Knob Creek Small Batch:

IMG_20181204_194934-01I liked this one but now it is really getting hard to say it was better than the first four that I've ranked (see below).  A couple of days later I tried Markers Mark:

IMG_20181205_193537-01I realized I had this before, but it was really before I was appreciating bourbons.  I really liked this one which is good because Costco carries it pretty regularly.  I think it is going to the 5th spot in my rankings for now.

The next bourbon I tried was Larceny Small Batch:

IMG_20181214_203125-01This one has a lot of different flavors than the others.  There was a hint of spice that I could quite completely identify. Looking online it might be a "caramel" type flavor. Overall though, the Larceny was very good and something I would try again.

The next one was Wild Turkey 101:

IMG_20181215_202706-01Which I have had before (see above), but I liked it a lot more this time.  The first time it was really strong (for several sips), but this time after the first sip it was pretty smooth.  I think that is because my pallet is changing.  It was really good towards the end.  Unfortunately I think it is going to stay at #8.

With that I was down to two of the smaller bottles to sample.  The 2nd to last was the Bulleit Bourbon:

IMG_20181216_190842-01And I really liked this bourbon.  It probably is going to be in my top 5, and it is also one that Costco seems to have most of the time.  It started off great and ended strong but mellow.  I think though that if Costco has the Bulleit Rye I'd probably get that before the bourbon.

In conclusion (draft as of 12/23/2018) here are my bourbon/whiskey favorites:

  1. Woodford Reserve
  2. Evan Williams
  3. Bulleit Rye
  4. Four Roses Small Batch
  5. Bulleit Bourbon
  6. Marker's Mark
  7. Knob Creek Small Batch
  8. Larceny Small Batch
  9. Wild Turkey 101
  10. Gentleman Jack
  11. Jim Bean Original
  12. TBD