Thoughts & Tips For November & December

Joel-jasmin-forestbird-xzPMUMDDsfk-unsplashPhoto by Joel & Jasmin Førestbird on Unsplash

REFLECTIONS

  • The 2019 Baseball Playoffs in October were awesome. Congrats to Washington Nationals for winning the World Series.
  • October 31 was a very sad day for me and my family.  It was one year ago that my Mom passed away. I really miss her a lot.
  • Christy had a teacher's conference in Palm Spring the weekend before Thanksgiving and I was able to tag along. It was very relaxing and we had some great food.
  • Thanksgiving this year was excellent.  It rained a lot so we did not play our annual Thanksgiving Two-Hand Touch game.  Hopefully we will get to play on Christmas.

CHVRCHES

20191102_183729-COLLAGEMy favorite band was in town in early November.  It was a great concert.  Some thoughts on the show at CHVRCHES FAN PODCAST.

TECHNOLOGY AND TIPS

Two big conferences I have attended in 2019 -- GTD Summit & M Conference -- have stressed the need for quite and solitude in our daily lives.  Doing so increases effectiveness and productivity.  This article on "Solitude and Leadership" is definitely worth reading or listening to the audio version.

Some tips on how to make your iPhone more productive.

Looking for some a secure phone option that isn't mainstream?

Some other tips:

FUTURE STUFF THAT I AM EXCITED ABOUT

  • Christmas!

QUOTE I'M THINKING ABOUT

"No man steps in the same river twice" - Heraclitus

I also found all these great quotes from the start of each Star Wars: The Clone War Series.


Inbox Zero - It Is Doable - Example #1

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I recently attended for work the Manager Tools M Conference from October 9-10, 2019 in Dallas, TX.

I made a deliberate decision to not check my work email from just before the beginning of the conference on Wednesday, Oct. 9 until I got to the airport on the evening of Thursday, Oct. 10. 

My main motivation for this decision was because I wanted to stay as focused as possible on the conference content, and the people at the conference. 

I should also point out that before walking into the conference on Wednesday morning my work email Inbox was empty.

In addition, I would also like to say my only motivation for writing this blog post is to validate that getting your Email Inbox to Zero can happen. 

If you read through the whole post, I didn't get every email with a Next Action or Project done.  All I did in David Allen's Getting Things Done (GTD) terms is (1) Capture, (2) Clarify, and (3) Organize.

Once at the airport: I VPN'd into work; downloaded all my email on the server to my "Clarify" folder in Outlook; and went into airplane/off-line mode.

During the first two hours on the plane on my way back to San Diego I cleared my Inbox. 

I had 213 emails to process: ten were calendar invites; 24 were quick email replies (less than 2 minutes), 51 turned into Next Actions (three of which started new Projects), 23 were Reference, and the rest were Trash.

After I sync'd up email the next day (Friday morning) I had 28 new messages.  Four of them were calendar invites, and four of them I had to Read (less than 2 minutes) and then Trash as they weren't worth keeping for Reference.  The rest I just Trashed after reading the email title and first line of the message. No new Next Actions or Projects.

So, it is doable.  It takes practice and making it a habit.  Here is a link for more information on GTD coaching and teaching.


Thoughts & Tips for August & September

Omaha-woodOverload Museum - Photo: Steve Holden

Health Update (Bulged Disk & Bike Injury)

Things are going pretty well since my last update in July.  My current "perfect" weekly workout routine is: 30 minute run (Mon, Tue, Thu, Sat); Pilates & swim (Wed & Fri); and bike & swim (Sun). Also usually every day starts off with a 30-40 minute set of stretching, rolling, and core exercises.

Christy and I had a good time on the July 4th doing the 10K Old Pros in Scripps Ranch, and the kids did the Fun Walk/Run. It was the first time I  have run more than 5K in over a year.  My time was slow, but it felt good and nothing broke!

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Traveling

In July, Christy and I had a weekend trip up to Napa for a wedding.  It was a lot of fun, but I would not recommend flying in/out of San Francisco International Airport because of the traffic coming/going to the Napa area.  It was pretty bad.  Recommend considering Oakland airport or Sacramento airport for visiting Napa.

DSC01040-COLLAGEWhen we were up in Napa we had some great beers at Field Work Brewing:

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In August, Christy and I made our regular trip to #hackersummercamp in Las Vegas for Def Con 27 (2019). I go to the conference during the day, and Christy gets time to read and relax. Then we get some dinner & craft beers, and binge watch a show in the evening.  In previous years it has been Homeland & Game of Thrones.  This year it was Season 1 of Westworld. You can get a copy of this year's Def Con conference report here: https://www.technewsradio.com/2019/08/def-con-27-notes-references.html.

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We also took Spencer, Carson, and some of Carson's friends up to Universal Studios in early August.  While they were at Universal Studios, Christy and I explored Griffith Park - hiking, multiple location sighting of the Hollywood Sign, seeing great views from the Observatory, checking out some outdoor movie sets (for instance the Bat Cave!), enjoying the Autry Museum Of The American West,  and had a great lunch at the Crossroads West Cafe.  If you have never been, I recommend it -- you can almost forget you are in LA!

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Honoring My Mom

Also in the beginning of August my sister and her kids came down to San Diego for the weekend.  We had a wonderful time remember our Mom and spending quality time together - including a harbor cruise.

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Getting Things Done (GTD)

Several things going on related to #gtd:

  • I taught two classes this summer at work - one at the end of July (Class#10), and another at the end of August (Class#11).  I'm going to be teaching at least one and maybe two courses in the DC area in September.
  • David Allen had a great presentation about "building the ultimate GTD application" at the #GTDSUMMIT, and I summarized all the content - video, audio, and documents - on my blog ---- LINK!
  • I am also very excited about the new book "GTD for Teens."  It is very approachable for teens, and young adults.  If you aren't a big reader (and like lots of pictures), then maybe this version is for you!

Technology & Tips

My trusty work Samsung Galaxy S8+ recently had an issue where it appears that the battery was expanding, and causing a gap to grow on the side.  I was able to get a replacement new phone - Samsung Galaxy S10+.  I'm really enjoying this new phone.  Here are some setup recommendations and tips that I ran across during my setup:

I am still enjoying the Sony RX-100 VI (6) ... but I just learned that there is a new Sony RX-100 VII (7) out now.

Future

Some plans are starting to come together:

  • Work trip to DC.
  • Work trip to New Orleans.
  • Sprint Triathlon at the end of the month.

Quote I'm Thinking About

"Simplfy, simplfy, simplfy ... Simplicity of life and elevation of purpose." - Henry David Thoreau


Thoughts & Tips for June 2019

Health Update (Bulged Disk & Bike Injury)

Things have been improving since my last month's update (May).  I think I've returned to my overall health level from February . I am tentatively planning my next Sprint Triathlon for the end of July. 

Strongest Conference

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I attended Mike Foster's Strongest workshop on May 16 & 17, 2019. It was an amazing learning experience and the people at the conference were super inspiring. Mike Foster has plans for another one so follow Mike on social media or listen to his Fun Therapy podcast for updates.

Strongest-CollageGetting Things Done (GTD)

At the end of May 2019 I taught my 9th Getting Things Done (GTD) course at work (over 90+ people trained since first class), and my GTD story was published recently on GTD Times.

Technology & Tips

Last month I mentioned I was experimenting in the morning with a Panda paper planning system.  After about a month thought I've made some adjustments because the written monthly, weekly, and daily planning part for my calendar and other item date specific items was not helping me that much.  However what was helping me during my morning devotionals was tracking on a daily basis:

  • what I was thankful for,
  • what I was looking forward to,
  • what God was telling me in my devotional,
  • what I could work on as person (these are coming from the Stoic daily reads from the book The Daily Stoic), and
  • how I am exercising.

This summer I am embarking on a big project with the help of my son Spencer to digitize 99% of all of our physical photos using this scanner -- Epson FastFoto FF-680W Scanner.

Future

This upcoming next month is going to be completely consumed by:

  • Spencer is graduating high school!
  • Carson, Conrad, and I are going to Europe from June 8 through June 23 (Germany, Belgium, France, Italy, Netherlands).

Quote I'm Thinking About

“You’re under no obligation to be the same person you were 5 minutes ago.” — Alan Watts


Thoughts & Tips for May 2019

Screenshot 2019-05-19 at 18.17.43Health Update

Things have been slowly improving with my back since my bike fall in February (and it is almost to 1 year since my full-on bulged disc incident).  I switched my morning runs to morning walks in March by switching my regular "run" days (Mon., Tue., Thu., Sat.) to walk days. Then in April, I moved to running 1 minute and then walking 30 seconds (repeat 20 times) on "run" days.  My current plan is to transition to running slowly for ~30 minutes (no stopping) on "run" days in May.  I also decided to not do the next couple of San Diego area sprint triathlons, and instead focus on getting to as close as possible to 100% with the plan of doing the next sprint triathlon in July. 

Wedding Anniversary

My wonder wife Christy and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary.  It was pretty low-key, but we are looking to go on an adventure later in the year.

Wedding-03-COLLAGEChvrches Concert

My daughter and I were able to see Chvrches in-between their Coachella shows at Pappy & Harriet's in Pioneertown, CA.  The concert was awesome, the road trip fun, and Pappy & Harriert's is a very unique venue to see a band (highly recommended), and the food & drinks were pretty darn good.  It was also a treat to meet-up with other Southern California Chvrches fans (second set of photos by Chris Rubalcava).

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CHVRCHES April 2019 Collage

Screenshot 2019-04-24 at 20.44.50Mom's Memorial

The weekend after Easter, my family and I held my Mom's Memorial (Saturday, April 27, 2019) up in the Sacramento area.  It was a blessing that we waited until the Spring, and all-in-all it went well  It was simple and uncomplicated, with a lot of time to remember, share, and support each other.  Another major blessing was being able to connect with her many friends that she touched and did life with.  

Technology & Tips

One thing I have been experimenting with over the last month is using a Panda paper planning system to scope out my monthly, weekly, and daily plans right after my morning devotionals.  So far it has been pretty positive.  This is the one I purchased.

I used these ear protection plugs for the Chvrches concert.  They worked out better than expected.  I could clearly hear all the music, but being in the front row, my hearing wasn't impacted like it has been in the past.

If you are looking for some water proof headphones for swimming, then you should know that these are the best I have used -- HydroActive Headphones.

Future

There is a lot going on in May:

Quote I'm Thinking About

"When annoyed count 10, before you speak, if very angry, count 100." - Thomas Jefferson


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.

Future

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

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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.

Future

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 January 2019

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Photo by Steve Holden**

World Stabilizing

Per my November and December posts -- my Mom's sudden and unexpected passing on October 31, 2018 -- this event is still consuming most of my energy and attention.  I wouldn't be functioning though if it wasn't for the support, prayers, comfort, and help I've been getting from my faith in Christ, family, life group, church, friends, co-workers, CHVRCHES Podcast Fans, etc. Thank you all very much.  I recently found this picture (it was a 35mm slide that I converted to digital) of my Mom with her brother Ludwig in Germany (probably early 1960s before she left German for the United States):

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As I post this, my daughter and I are making a trip up to Sacramento/Roseville to work on a couple of key projects, and spend time with my sister's family before driving back to San Diego later in the week.

Thankful For

One of the micro stories I vaguely reference last month that was a blessing, but is both sad and happy. When I called my one of my childhood friend's Mom about my Mom passing, she had to share that her husband had passed away unexpectedly earlier in October, and his celebration of life service was the same weekend I was up there.  It was wonderful to attend, and spend time with friends I have not seen in years, and reflect & share about both unexpected deaths. God does work in ways that baffles me at times.

December was great. I love, and my family loves, Christmas ... so we made the most of it all month. This year's Christmas Party at our house was one of the highlights. I made four crock-pots of chili, and most of it was gone by the end of the night!

Podcastgraphic

I managed to end 2018 with a heartfelt CHVRCHES Fan Podcast.  In November, Chvrches releases a great acoustic EP called the Hansa Sessions that I adore.  I already knew this (I'm a little bit bias), but for an electronic synthesizer centric band -- they are really talented. 

Health Update

I believe I have had a bit of a breakthrough thanks to regular pilates classes and daily stretches as the numbness in my left foot related to my bulged disk (L5-S1) [see July Update] has gone away completely some days.  I haven't figured out a pattern, but as I write this, I currently don't have any numbness that I use to have all the time.

Technology

I am still loving the new Amazon Kindle Paperwhite, and the new Acer Chromebook Flip 13 has been working flawlessly.  I highly recommend both of them.

Future

There is not a lot on the horizon for January 2019.  There might be a work trip back to Washington, DC, and our family is going to host some Australian high school students at our house for a week or so.  That should be exciting!

Tips

I can't say more about trying this Hof Breathing Method that Kevin Rose posted on Instagram if you are feeling stressed out, or want to go to sleep after practicing the steps. It has really worked wonders for me.

One of my most read and reference blog posts I have ever posted is "How I use Google Keep to do Getting Things Done (GTD) in my personal system."  As of yesterday though (Sunday is my weekly review day), I moved my Personal GTD system to Nirvana.  And I am not looking back! More updates probably next month, but if you are struggling with your GTD tool, then you might want to try Nirvana. Here is a link to a recommended setup guide ($10).

Quote I'm Thinking About

"Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever." - Gandhi

**This photo was taken on December 26, 2018 at the San Diego Zoo.  There is a new walkway near the large birds of prey that links the pandas (at the bottom of a hill) to the polar bears (near the top of a hill).  This was part of the walk way.  It was very new (less than a week old?).


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.


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