Thoughts & Tips for August 2020

Wood-Aug-2020Photo by Steve Holden. MORE LIKE THIS!

CURRENT EVENTS

We are still health 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.

ReopeningHELPING LAUNCH A NEW PODCAST

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Two friends Chris & Charlie have started a new podcast about craft beer with my help. You may think I know a lot about beer, but they know a ton more than I do. I learn something new everytime we record a show. The PodCraft Beer Show is currently at episode two, and the third episode should be out on August 3, 2020. I am primarily focused on audio recording, production, editing, and digital distribution.  In addition, I am also helping in setting up some of the services for website development, social media, and other backend stuff. Lots of fun!

TECHNOLOGY AND TIPS

With over a month of almost daily hands-on testing, I am now a big fan of the AfterShokz Black Diamond Xtrainerz. The bone conducting technology does take a little bit of time to get use to, but once I did, I like not having the headphone part in my ear even with the great headphones I had before. The Xtrainerz is a pretty straight forward MP3 player, basically you load files into folders and you can play the folder in order or shuffle them.  At the top level you can also shuffle or play the folders in order.  All in all I recommend them if you are swimming a lot, and want to listen to music while you swim.

Xtrainerz Black Diamond

When I am not swimming, I have been listening to more Audible lately than podcasts.  My main focus is plowing through books that I bought in the past, but have never listened to. You can try Audible for free for 30-days and get two free books if you want. Over the last month:

D&D

Corkin-3D-model-graphic
My Halfling Fighter In 3D!

Dungeons & Dragons continues to be a great new hobby (my personal blessing from CV-19), and it is awesome to be playing with friends from high school on a regular basis. The main physical books that I bought were the: DM Guide, Player Guide, Monster Manual, and DM Screen.  The tools we are using to play online include: Zoom/Discord (for video collaboration), Beyond D&D, (for character sheets & DM resources), and Roll20 (for sharing maps, combat, etc).  Two of my favorite mapping tools are: Inkarnate (for world, geographic, city, and town mapping) and Dungeon Scrawl (for dungeons, buildings, combat level maps, etc).  If you want a demo, then let me know.

OTHER TOPICS

  • My in-person David Allen Getting Things Done (GTD) classes at work for August and September are still technically on the calendar, but I'm not confident I'll be able teach them with us still being on maximum telework. I am starting to scope out a Virtual GTD Training Class using Adobe Connect. (Editorial Opinion: I hope Adobe got the memo that Flash (.swf) is dead.  Just get with the program please.)
  • Related to GTD and the above mention of re-reading of "The Power of Habit" by Charles Duhigg, I recently took for work the Power Of Habit class from Vital Smarts.  I am still unpacking the training and will report more in the future.
  • My music listening has been all over the board recently.  One band that continues to impress me is Lo Moon. I was introduced to them as the opening band for Chvrches in San Diego last fall.  I call them the Talk Talk of today. They are on heavy rotation. Music for the soul.

QUOTE I'M THINKING ABOUT

"The more control you have over your attention, the more control you have over your future." - James Clear


Thoughts & Tips For July 2020

Wood-july2020Photo by Steve Holden. MORE LIKE THIS!

CURRENT EVENTS

On the health front -- all continues to be AOK with regards to COVD-19 for us and our immediate families.  We continue to be vigilant and focused:

  • #wear_a_mask,
  • #wash_your_hands,
  • #social_distance, and
  • #stay_home_if_sick.

La_Mesa_Walls_Project_Masks_Destruction_With_Art

Related to #blacklivesmatter, and increasing social justice & ending racism, I do like this new YouTube show Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man

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I am learning a lot, and working on a bunch mental changes as I become aware of them.

CAMPING

We recently did some camping in the local mountains near Julian in a San Diego County park called William Heise County Park.

2020-06-15 17.24.07-COLLAGEIt was a lot of fun and relaxing.  We had some good food also:

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Wynola Pizza & Bristo
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Julian Beer Company

TECHNOLOGY AND TIPS

  • I am trying out these bone-conducting water proof headphones for swimming -- AfterShokz Black Diamond Xtrainerz -- so far I like them a great deal.  More updates as I get more use out of them.
  • I recently listed to three Audible books that were "free" for being an Audible Subscriber.  If you aren't an Audible Subscriber, the price on these are pretty reasonable:
    1. "How to Defeat a Demon King in Ten Easy Steps" by Andrew Rowe.  This is a fun book about taking on (from a D&D perspective) a very important quest, but doing it in a not so traditional way. 
    2. "Caffeine: How Caffeine Created the Modern World" by Michael Pollan.  A great detailed account of how caffeine came into the modern world and the impact caffeine has had via coffee, tea, and now a ton of other drinks.  I learned a lot, but it didn't change my caffeine consumption much.  I have over the years reduced my caffeine use later in the day.  I use to drink a soda late in the day on the way home from work.  That stopped several years ago.  Then I stopped consuming caffeine by 3 pm. And after this book I moved that back to 2 pm without much trouble, and much better sleep.  Maybe 1 pm should be the next experiment?!?
    3. "I Hear You: The Surprisingly Simple Skill Behind Extraordinary Relationships" by Michael S. Sorensen. This is an excellent book, especially right now with #blacklivesmatter, and the conversations happening around racism, justice, inequality, and opportunity.  The listening skills outlined in this book are simple and easy to learn.  If you want to listen better, then I highly recommend this book.
  • If you are running Windows 10 then I strongly encourage you to buy a 16-GB USB Flash Drive, and follow these recommendations to make a recovery drive.

OTHER TOPICS

  • My in-person David Allen Getting Things Done (GTD) classes for July and August are moving to August and September respectively. We are still at maximum telework at work and being onsite is limited to mission essential tasking. I did finally get access to the digital GTD online course content per some licenses we bought for work. My next step is review that material, and then determine when and with what collaboration tool-suite to run a pilot.
  • I am still playing a good amount Dungeons & Dragons with some friends online.  The main books that I bought were the: DM Guide, Player Guide, Monster Manual, and DM Screen.  The tools we are using to play online include: Zoom/Discord (for video collaboration), Beyond D&D, (for character sheets & DM resources) and Roll20 (for sharing maps, combat, etc).  Two of my favorite mapping tools are: Inkarnate (for world, geographic, city, and town mapping) and Dungeon Scrawl (for dungeons, buildings, combat level maps, etc).  If you want a demo, then let me know.

QUOTE I'M THINKING ABOUT

We all have choices to be made ... attributes that matter ...

Chose Discipline over Weakness
Chose Fortitude over Rashness
Chose Courage over Cowardice
Chose Clearheadedness over Disorganization
Chose Selflessness over Selfishness
Chose Sacrifice over Cowardice

Source: "The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom" for June 13, 2020.


Thoughts & Tips For May 2020

DSC01811Photo by Steve Holden. MORE LIKE THIS!

COVID-19

Basically all is well with us since the last update. Everyone is healthy. Maximum telework. Virtual school. Social distancing. Major home bodies with home projects in full swing. And a good amount of Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) as an escape vice binge watching shows.

WORKING OUT

I am enjoying my two mornings a week (Tue & Thu) riding this bike trainer while watching YouTube cycling videos using this iPad stand, and listening to audio books. I am almost done re-listening to all the Mark Greaney's Gray Man Series books.

One thing I really miss is swimming at the YMCA.  I have been tempted to put on my tri-wetsuit to swim mini-laps in our pool, but I haven't pulled the trigger. They just opened up the beaches and ocean in San Diego this weekend so maybe a swim in the ocean is going to happen sooner than later.

TECHNOLOGY AND TIPS

SOME MUSIC RECOMMENDATIONS

I have been listening to a lot more music recently.  Here are some suggestions from YouTube:

OTHER TOPICS

  • I have had to postponed by May David Allen Getting Things Done (GTD) class at work until July.  The next class is scheduled for the middle of June, however if we still have strict social distancing rules in place at work then I am probably going to have to postpone that one also.  I am still working on getting permission to teach virtually but that has been slow going.
  • Playing Dungeons & Dragons has been super fun and one of the best things that I hopes continues after COVID-19.  The main books that I bought were the: DM Guide, Player Guide, Monster Manual, and DM Screen.

QUOTE I'M THINKING ABOUT

"There's more than one way to look at a problem, and they may all be right." - Norman Schwarzkopf


Thoughts & Tips for April 2020

Wood-april-2020Photo by Steve Holden. MORE LIKE THIS!

CHANGE OF PLANS?!?

Since last months update, the world has really changed!

COVID-19 has interrupted all of us in an unprecedented level, and caused us all to pivot, change, and adapt to a new normal.

My pivot and those around me seem to be headed in the right direction.  We are all healthy.  I am able to telework 95% of the time.  Christy is teleworking full-time, and Conrad & Spencer are doing all their college classes online.  Carson is supposed to start back to high-school online around April 20th.

My heart goes out to anyone who has lost a loved one, lost their job, or are currently sick. Peace be with you! If you need anything from me (including prayers), then please let me know.

TECHNOLOGY AND TIPS

REPEAT FROM LAST MONTH -- Some great tips here on how to correctly wash your hands! [REDDIT]

This video - A Trip Through New York City in 1911 (on YouTube) - is interesting to watch.

I have found what I think is a unique feature in the Apple Clock iOS application.  Instead of a alarm or an alert that happens after a timer is finished, you can scroll all the way down the list of alarms, and choose the option to 'stop playing audio.'  This is cool because if you start a timer and then a music playlist, you will know when your time is done when your iPad or iPhone stops playing music.  Very cool for early morning workouts!

Speaking about workouts.  With the local YMCAs closed I haven't been able to swim laps, so I moved to biking using this trainer that I picked up when it looked like the YMCA was going to close in early March.  I also got this iPad stand for watching cycling videos on YouTube while stationary riding in the morning before telework.  This is only two days a week (usually Tue and Thu), the other days I am running or actually biking in the real world (usually on Sun).  I really miss swimming and might need to get my tri-wetsuit on and just swim around in the backyard pool sooner than later.

SOME OF THE STUFF I THOUGHT I'D BE DOING BUT ARE NOT DOING NOW

  • I have had to postponed by April David Allen Getting Things Done (GTD) class at work until June.  May is still on the books but time will tell.  The DC course I was planning also for April is TBD.   I am working getting permission to teach virtually but that is still in the works.
  • We weren't able to see John Lloyd Young or go to Joshua Tree.
  • Carson and Christy both had very small family birthday parties.

THINGS I AM LOOKING FORWARD TO

  • On April 9th, Christy and I will be celebrating our 26th wedding anniversary.  I got the better part of this deal!
  • More Dungeons & Dragons!  Yes back to some D&D! We are playing at home with me being Dungeon Master (DM) with Christy, Carson, and Spencer adventuring.  And I've re-connected with some great friends from high school, and we are going to start playing online.  It should be very fun.  I did go all in though and buy the latest books & gear: DM Guide, Player Guide, Monster Manual, and DM Screen.
  • I recently picked up a Rocketbook re-usable notebook for my daily journaling.  I mostly did it because I'd like to digital archive them for reflection later.  And I do like journaling with a pen than typing in a computer.  I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

QUOTE I'M THINKING ABOUT

"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as if nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything is." - Albert Einstein


Thoughts & Tips For March 2020

WHAT'S BEEN GOING ON?

I did do a Sprint Triathlon hosted by the UCSD Triton Triathlon Team on Feb. 16, 2020.   It was tough but good fun:

Sprint Tri PhotosFeb. 16 was also my son Conrad's 21st birthday.  We had a good time celebrating:

Conrad B-Day

I've also enjoyed a few great IPA-ish beers this month. Here are some recommendations:

Some Awesome Bitter Beers

Thanks to one more day in February (aka the 29th), I was able to get our 2019 taxes done, and see one of our favorite 80s cover band -- Resurrection Radio at the awesome Helix Brewing Co. in La Mesa, CA. This is a setlist from a previous show.

TECHNOLOGY AND TIPS

One of my favorite authors -- Mark Greaney -- was in town on Feb. 18th promoting his new book "One Minute Out" (this is book #9 of the Gray Man series) at Warwick's in La Jolla.  It is highly recommended this new book and the overall series in general. Here is a picture from that evening:

Mark G Speaking About His New Book

Last month I mentioned that my new HP PC only has USB 3.0 ports on the front of the computer.  I ended up getting this 4-port HUB so I could move more of the high-speed connections back behind the computer.  So far it is working out pretty well.

Some great tips here on how to correctly wash your hands! [REDDIT]

FUTURE STUFF THAT I AM EXCITED ABOUT

QUOTE I'M THINKING ABOUT

“Each moment is a place you’ve never been.” — Mark Strand


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 January 2020

Wood-utah-beachUtah Beach (Normandy) - Steve Holden

CHRISTMAS

  • I hope your Christmas was wonderful.  We had a good time with friends and family.  All of our time was spent in San Diego, so we didn't have any travel woes.
  • I love putting up Christmas lights.  I have decided that the three pronged power cord is the enemy of good electrical distribution.  I am moving to 6 or more outlets on every power cord in 2020.
  • I had a good number of Christmas beers (both brewed for the Holidays or gifts) this year.  Here are three of the more recent ones:

20191226_185147-01-COLLAGEHEALTH

I need to do this more, but alternating COLD with HEAT on sore muscles has proven to me over and over again that I need to make the time to do this.  SO HARD TO DO! But worth the time.

I have been experimenting since the beginning of November with intermittent fasting. Basically I only eat between 12 noon and 8 p.m.  It has really worked well for me from a couple of standpoints: (1) no negative impacts; (2) I feel better overall; and (3) I think the long-term benefits are promising. The one interesting thing that I can't really explain is that even though I'm eating less I did before intermittent fasting that I have not lost any weight.  My weight has stayed steady.  More info about the topic:

All is basically good with my Bulged Disc.  My solution - daily Pilates-based stretching, using a roller (legs, back, & shoulders), heat then cold, and alternating workouts (run, swim, bike, repeat).

TECHNOLOGY AND TIPS

If you are new to Getting Things Done (GTD) or someone who would benefit from a refresher, then here is my recommendation.

My Zoom audio recorder was having a screen issue (the LCD was getting blurry and hard to read).  I contacted their tech support and they replaced the unit for $165 since it was out of warranty. I thought that was a fair transaction.

I love using the OODA Loop (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act). Fascinating history.

FUTURE STUFF THAT I AM EXCITED ABOUT

  • Happy New Year 2020! Don't forget that 2019 was the "future" year of Blade Runner.
  • Christy and I are heading to Yuma at the end of January to see one of my favorite 80's cover bands - Checker'd Past.
  • Family vacation planning for 2020.

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 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.


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


Where We Stayed (While In Europe 2019)

PlacesineuropeWhen we were in Bad Pyrmont, Germany we stayed at Hotel Schaumberg.  It was a great location for us, the room was great for the three of us, and the food for breakfast was awesome.  I would stay there again.

When we were in Belgium we stayed with our Belgium family in Ottingies (south of Brussels).  It was great.  We'd stay there again also :-)

Our Airbnb in Normandy was excellent (photos).  We would highly recommend staying there. The host was amazing. The area around our Airbnb -- known as Les Bateaux -- was a short walk down to the beach and a great location to explore D-Day historical sites, memorials, and museums. 

In Paris we stayed at the Hôtel de Roubaix (6 Rue Greneta, 75003 Paris, France).  I thought the place was average and good for our situation.  It was easy to get to and easy to navigate to the Louvre for sure by walking.  Also it was easy to get from the hotel to the airport via a big transit hub that was just down the street (10 minute walk).  We used Booking.com to reserve our rooms.

Our Airbnb in Rome was great (photos) the location was about a 30 minute walk to the Vatican and then a 30 minute walk to the Colosseum. The host was excellent and very helpful in helping us get to and from the airport.  The place included a full kitchen, air conditioning, and was roomy enough to spread out.  I'd recommend staying at this location if you travel to Rome.

The next stop was Amsterdam.  I spent a lot of time trying to find a good AirBNB but wasn't successful.  I also looked into some of the nicer hotels but the prices were 3x what we ended up paying.   We ended up at Hotel Isis (Spreeuwenpark 17, Amsterdam Noord, Amsterdam, 1021 GS, Netherlands) via Booking.com.  It was definitely spartan but clean.  And I felt safe in that part of town. The walk to the ferry and taking the ferry was fun and different.  Having the ferry stop in Amsterdam at the Central Train station was a bonus.  I probably wouldn't stay there again but if you are in a pinch it is doable.

After Amsterdam we made our way for a 1-night stay in Berlin at the Hotel-Pension Cortina (Kantstr. 140, Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, Berlin, 10623, Germany).  This hotel was also booked via Booking.com.  I was also not able to figure out a good AirBNB option in Berlin, and since we were staying just one night I wasn't as detailed in my research on this hotel. It turned out fine, but just like Hotel Isis it was spartan but clean.  Our room was on the shared courtyard so it was noisy at night.  I definitely would have considered some other hotels if I wanted more comforts.

Our last night of the trip was spent at the Marriott Sheraton at Frankfurt Airport.  It was by far the best hotel room we stayed in during the trip, and given that we just walked up and got the room, the price was pretty affordable.  It was a great ending for the trip.  Solid night sleep and great shower in the morning.  The walk back to the airport was easy, and we got through security/customs/immigration without any issues.