Thoughts & Tips For September 2020

Paris-woodPhoto by Steve Holden. MORE LIKE THIS!

CURRENT EVENTS

No big change for us on the COVD-19 front.  We continue to be vigilant and focused: #wear_a_mask; #wash_your_hands, #social_distance, and #stay_home_if_sick.  The good news is that Christy's school as been able to go back to teaching kids in person with a host of safe guards which is a blessing and an answer to prayer.

Tour de France 2020. Who doesn't want to watch 4 to 5 hours nearly every day during September seeing some of the best athletes in the world do what most people would consider completely impossible? I am all in. I am watching via NBC Sports via YouTube TV.

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My candidate for President of the United States in 2020 is Jo Jorgensen (#letherspeak, #letherdebate). While I don't agree with everything she is advocating, she is in my humble opinion the best option for a President Of The United States who believes in and will fight for:

  • right to life, liberty, & the pursuit of happiness
  • right to keep & bear arms
  • right to live where you choose & how you chose
  • right to privacy
  • right to worship how, when, & where you choose
  • right to be treated equally under the law

OTHER THINGS THAT ARE GOING WELL

  • The PodCraft Beer Show just had episode 7 and next week is episode 8. I have had some super spectacular craft beers that have blown my palette away.  As a craft beer fan I have actually realized how much I've missed by not paying attention to the special releases that many breweries do and I had no clue how amazing they are.
  • I am still playing D&D every week or so with friends from high school.  It is frankly one of the best unattended consequences of COVID-19 for me.
  • I am still loving my water-proof MP3 player -- AfterShokz Black Diamond Xtrainerz.
  • We were able to camp at San Elijo State Beach in August which was awesome ...

Beach-2020

EXPERIMENTING WITH MEDITATION

The book "10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found a Self-Help That Actually Works"
By: Dan Harris (#meditation) got me to do a little experiment over the last month since finishing the book. I've been doing five minutes of unguided meditation using the Apple iOS app Oak from Kevin Rose before I stretch in the morning.  Nothing bad has happened (Ha Ha!) I actually now think a little "mind exercise" is a good thing. My monkey mind is strong! More updates as time goes on.

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If you are interested in guided meditations, then the only examples I've had experience with are Mike Foster's Guided Meditations. The Oak app has them but I haven't used them before.

TECHNOLOGY, TIPS, & SUGGESTIONS

I have just started using this new Google Chrome browser feature for organizing tabs.  So far it is an awesome new feature.

This what I've been listening to on Audible (you can try Audible for free for 30-days and get two free books if you want). Over the last month:

I am currently doing all my Audible listening on my cell phone Samsung Galaxy S10+.

I also managed to finish a few Kindle books (I am currently using a Kindle Paperwhite for nearly all my reading):

One of my "newer" (I've heard in the past that this isn't a word, but I still use it all the time) favorite bands is Lo Moon.  They opened last year for several shows that the CHVRCHES did, and I'm super impressed with them.  I recently bought their album Lo Moon on Amazon so I could load the MP3s on my AfterShokz Black Diamond Xtrainerz  as I really wanted to listen to them while swimming.  Other specific albums I listen to frequently while swimming are: CHVRCHES (Bones of What You Believe, Every Open Eye, Love Is Dead) and Maggie Rogers (Heard It In A Past Life).  I will also drag a lot of 80s New Wave to a folder for 'random' mode listening.

Def Con (the yearly hacker conference I've been going to since #18) was completely virtual this year.  A ton of solid cybersecurity content is readily available if you are interested.

QUOTE I'M THINKING ABOUT

"We are what we repeatedly do, therefore, excellence is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle


Thoughts & Tips for February 2020

WHAT'S BEEN GOING ON?

Christy and I had a great weekend trip to Yuma to see one of our favorite 80's cover bands - Checker'd Past.

Checkerdpast

I made some updates to the Europe 2019 Trip Blog over the Christmas Holidays.

Christmas was awesome. The time off from work was refreshing. I had some pretty good beers!

Beer-christmasIn early January, we had a great Australian foreign exchange student for a week or so.  We got to do a lot of fun stuff around San Diego while she was here, and eat at all our favorite places.

Our Vietnamese student for the last year has moved on to a place closer to SDSU. It is going to be weird not having a foreign exchange student in our house.

Our church is doing the RED LETTER CHALLENGE (#rlc).  Just finished day 19 of 40. Pretty good study.

I really enjoyed the last Star Wars movie "The Rise of Skywalker." Spencer and I saw it on opening weekend, and then we went back later so I could see it again.

StarwarsTECHNOLOGY AND TIPS

If you read David Allen's Getting Things Done a while back and are looking for some podcast references to maybe jump start your system, then you might want to check out this blog post I did on the subject.

My home older Dell Windows 10 system has been having some BIOS boot issues so I decided to upgrade to a new system.  Some key tech specs that I was looking as key: boot drive on SSD; more than 8-GB of RAM; and latest generation Intel processor.   I ended up with an Intel i5 processor vs. Intel i7 processor because of a deal at Costco.  The first thing I did was remove the bundled 3rd party software and many of the Microsoft add-ons that I know I didn't want.  It took about 4 hours to get the system stabilized and ready to migrate data and services.

I recently picked up a "Ninety7 JOT Portable Battery Base for Google Home Mini" that enables the Mini to be portable so I can take it outside or into another room.  Very helpful for listening to music or podcasts while at home.

FUTURE STUFF THAT I AM EXCITED ABOUT

QUOTE I'M THINKING ABOUT

"People do not decide their futures, they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures." - F.M. Alexander


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 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):

Marlies&Ludwig-WinterTime

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 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, I 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


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 April 2018

 

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Photo by Hudson Hintze on Unsplash

Technology

I used the Pisen Wireless Presenter Laser Pointer 2500 for teaching my first GTD course.  I found myself using the mouse I had hooked up to my computer more.  I think that when I'm teaching, at least in the beginning, I like being anchored to my workspace with all my references.

I ordered another Wyze camera to do some physical security testing around the home. I think the new upgraded one is going to have better tracking capabilities.

Thankful For

My first Vital Smarts' new 1-day Getting Things Done (GTD) went well and so did my 2nd one.  I have another in April and then I should get my certification.

Easter was on April 1! (TODAY!)  And it was wonderful.  Here is a picture from the top of Mount Helix with your Praise Band playing:

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I really enjoyed re-reading Ready Player One and then seeing the new movie.

Future

My first Vital Smarts' new 1-day Getting Things Done (GTD) training classes at work is scheduled for March 8, 2018.

I think we are going to take a day in April and go up to Disneyland.

And my 24th Wedding Anniversary is coming up on April 9th.

Tip

Get a labeler and label everything.   It got mind from Costco - Brother Model 1890.  I use it for file folders, boxes, cables, etc.  Here is another great testimonial. 

Also these CHVRCHES sessions at Power Station on the Honda Stage are excellent: Mother We Share, Get Out, XO, and Never Say Die.

Quote I'm Thinking About

"A problem well stated is a problem half solved." – Charles F. Kettering