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.

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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.


Experiencing Amsterdam 2019

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SUMMARY -- Amsterdam was one of the cities that we spent more time than others ... mostly because I was attending Getting Things Done (GTD) Summit 2019.  The conference was 2 days (Thursday and Friday).  We arrived on Wednesday from Rome.  We left on Saturday for Berlin.

Here is a collection of photos from Amsterdam:

Some additional thoughts about Amsterdam:

  • The train from the airport to Central Station was pretty easy to navigate.
  • The airport in Amsterdam was pretty nice and easy to move around in.
  • Taking the bus from Central Station to the GTD Conference was super easy.
  • Our hotel was on the other side of Central Station and required a ferry ride.  The ferry was free and left every 15 minutes.
  • The hotel we stayed in worked for us but it wasn't super great. There was no air conditioning so luckily for us it never got very hot.  I think the room we had would have been less than ideal if the weather got warm.
  • Rain comes and goes in Amsterdam.  Even that big storm on the first night was basically over in 15 minutes.
  • Lots of bikes.
  • Walking in Amsterdam to and from our dinner and after GTD Conference events was good.
  • There is a subway system that we used the last day that worked out pretty well.
  • More info about Little Delirium.
  • More info about Castels.

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Recipe: No-bake Breakfast Cookies

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I recently made the following no-bake breakfast cookies, but I had to substitute honey with Log Cabin Syrup and flaked cereal with Cheerios. They turned out awesome (my serving size ended up being eight).

Ingredients:

1/2 cup honey (or light corn syrup)
1/2 cup non-fat dry milk (instant)
1/2 cup raisins (or chopped dates)
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 1/2 cups flaked cereal (coarsely crushed)

Directions:

  1. Heat honey and peanut butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Stir until blended.
  2. Remove from heat. Stir in dry milk.
  3. Fold in cereal and raisins. Drop by heaping tablespoons onto waxed paper to form mounds.
  4. Cool to room temperature.
  5. Store in refrigerator.

Nutritional values per serving (makes about 12 servings): 160 calories, 5 g total fat (1 g saturated fat), 26 g carbohydrate, 4 g protein, 1 g dietary fiber, 110 mg sodium.

Originally posted by Montana State University Extension, Nutrition Education Programs via What's Cooking, USDA Mixing Bowl


Recipe - Healthy Corn Dogs

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A while back (just after Christmas) Carson and I made our own version of the following corn dog recipe from the Skinny Fork called "Baked Whole Wheat Corn Dogs.".

We basically kept the main parts of the recipe but didn't do the following:

  • No Brown Sugar
  • No Paprika
  • No Cayenne
  • No Chili Powder
  • No Poppy Seeds

We also did half the recipe getting 6 turkey corn dogs and not the 10-12 turkey corn dogs if you follow the recipe.

They turned out great, but they did need a good helping of either ketchup or mustard depending on your taste.  Making them very plain and then seeing what we could do with them in the future was our plan.  

I think adding the spices/flavors would be good for anyone without picky kids. I also think these would be great with Hebrew National hot dogs or a pre-cooked sausage.

By the way, the picture above was the 2nd picture.  Here is the 1st picture with an expert photo bomb from Conrad --

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Recipe - Steve's Veggie Pancakes

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There was a recent Zucchini Pancakes recipe in the Union Tribune.  I thought it sounded good, but I figured I might be able to make it simpler with more basic ingredients.

So I got the following: 1 yellow squash, 1 Italian squash, 1 yellow onion, 1 sweet potato, and 1 jalapeno.  I then grated them all into a big bowl and mixed them all together (aka the 'veggie mix'). 

Then I scooped 3 cups of the veggie mix into another mixing bowl, added 1 egg, and a half-cup of Italian bread crumbs.

I then cooked these in a skillet (high heat) until golden brown on both sides using standard canola oil.  This made about 7 pancakes and they turned out great. 

I then took what was left over in the grated bowl (~3 cups) and made another batch.  I cooked these using Kirkland Canola Oil Cooking Spray.  I think these actually turned out better and probably slightly more healthier.

I think the Jalapeno is the key special ingredient that added the majority of the flavor that the original recipe had by adding several spices.  I'm sure you could tweak the flavor based on what your tastes are - garlic, salt & pepper, more onion, etc.


Making Coffee Better - Some Recommendations ...

Back in late 2007, Kevin Devin and I traded some emails and resources related to coffee storage recommendations and I summarized them in this blog post.

Now a recent article was published in the San Diego Union-Tribune written by Jennifer Goodwin entitled "How do I brew a great cup of coffee?"

The article is worth a read if you have the time, but here is my main next step for getting the best cup of coffee -- "brew between 175 to 190 degrees" with the brew time between "3.5 to 4.5 minutes."

The recommendations to do this include (links to Amazon):

I think I'm going to start with the French Press option and see what difference I can notice.


Tracking What You Eat - Lose What You Want

In the blog world, there have been a lot of posts recently from folks like Jason Calacanis on their weight loss successes and recommendations.

I have some similar experience that I'd like to share. Even with all the exercise I do, I still have to monitor my overall calorie intake and expenditures if I want to maintain what I consider a healthy weight. 

The idea I've been following to maintain my weight is by taking in no more calories in a week then I use up. 

In this system, if you want to loose weight then you must have a deficit of calories.  The higher the deficit the more weight one can lose.  It is my experience that you can achieve deficits by eating healthy portions of the right types of food and exercise.

The tool I have been using to do this is Diet Organizer for Windows.   It helps with tracking meals, the calorie counts, statistics, and logging.  The interface is pretty straight forward and simple, but it does have some great power features like creating template meals or reoccurring food choices.  The data entry process  has been streamlined as much as possible to make it fast and easy.

I have used this twice over the last couple of years to lose 10-15 pounds.  The most recent time was last spring when my weight went up to 189.  I was able to get down to 176 in less than 10 weeks eating healthy foods in quantities that made better sense. 

Since then I've been using it periodically to track a week at a time to make sure I am still in the approximately zero calorie gain after a week. I have been within plus or minus 3 pounds of 176 since mid-summer so it does help in re-syncing with good eating habits if you follow your overall calorie intake and expenditure.

One clarification, I really only used this tool to focus on overall calories and trying to maintain the recommendation weight/calorie balance  from Diet Organizer based on my body size and age.  You can also dig in deeper with the software to measure types of fats, sugars, and other items.  Each person is different, but I think this tool is flexible enough to support many different types of scenarios.

Let me know if you have any questions, comments, or other suggestions.


Coffee Bean Storage Suggestions

Kevin Devin and I have been trading emails on coffee bean (whole or ground) storage options since we are both purchasing some beans from Kevin's brother who lives in Alaska and works at roaster Cafe Del Mundo.

Kevin found this recommendation, which I have summarized to:

  1. Store beans (whole or ground) in an air tight container
  2. Store the air tight container in a cool place like a pantry with no direct sunlight on the container. If pantry gets warm, then use a refrigerator but not a freezer.
  3. The sooner you go from bean to grounds to brewing the better.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Other opinions?


Jersey Boys San Diego Ticket & Dining Deal

There is a special deal for folks who are interested in attending Jersey Boys* when it comes to San Diego from Oct. 19 - Nov. 11, 2007:

San Diego Cohn Restaurants' Jersey Boys Ticket & Dining Deal!

This is a deal that I was able to get permission for the Jersey Boys Podcast to promote. This is not a paid advertisement.  It is just one fan helping others get a good deal, and see one of the best musicals I've ever seen.

In semi-related news, Frankie Valli discusses his new album "Romancing the 60's" on the Jersey Boys Podcast #049.

* Authentic, Profane,  Jersey Vocabulary is used in this production.