Thoughts & Tips for June & July 2021

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This photo is part of my Blurry collection.

CURRENT HAPPENINGS

The last two months have been going well.  Mother's Day in May was great, and so was Father's Day in June.

We have been slowly getting back out to our favorite places to eat, visiting breweries, attending church in person without masks, seeing friends, and having more group events at our house.

Getting vaccinated has a ton of benefits!

Biggest news is that Carson graduated from High School:

Carson-graduation

Another nice piece of new news is that my niece Hayley and her husband Alex are having a baby girl in December:

Screenshot 2021-07-02 15.10.08

I have also been able to teach two Getting Things Done (GTD) classes in-person at work which has been very enjoyable.  One class was in May and the other in late June.

LOOKING FORWARD TO

The epic D&D battle I have been DMing for several months has finally ended, and we are on to a new "underwater" related adventure created by our other DM Darren.

We have several mini-vacations coming up across July & August: one week in Mission Beach at a condo rental; a weekend retreat at The Oaks; a couple of days in Las Vegas for Def Con; and then beach camping at San Elijo. It will be nice to get out and about, but also not have to travel too far from home.

TECHNOLOGY, TIPS, & SUGGESTIONS

If I had to pick a single glass style to drink craft beer out of I think it would be this one (Amazon link):

Teku-glass-for-tpcSince May 20th I have been charging all my mobile electronics off-grid using this setup from Jackery (originally purchased just for camping):

Jackery-solar-systemThis includes: cell phone; iPad (didn't realize what a power hog this was); Garmin watch; bike lights; Go Pro & other camera batteries; all the new Rode podcast/audio recording gear; and a variety of  smaller battery packs.  Hard to say the total impact to our home electrical bill, but kind of a fun experiment.  It will be interesting to see how long I can do it.  My cell phone does get charged when it is in the car, so that makes things a little easier. I am not charging my main personal Chromebook computer this way until we go camping this summer.

The solar unit is the SolorSaga 100W (Amazon Link), and the portable battery unit is the Portable Power Station Explorer 240 (Amazon Link). 

QUOTE I'M THINKING ABOUT

"Saying no saves you time in the future. Saying yes costs you time in the future. No is like a time credit. You can spend that block of time in the future. Yes is like a time debt. You have to repay that commitment at some point. No is a decision. Yes is a responsibility." - James Clear


Thoughts & Tips for May 2021

Circle-blur-1This photo is part of my Blurry collection.

CURRENT HAPPENINGS

All but one of us is vaccinated. Guess which one? Ha Ha! #stay_home_if_sick, #wash_your_hands, #social_distance, #wear_a_mask

Theoaks2Christy and I had a great 2nd retreat to The Oaks to celebrate our 27th Wedding Anniversary.  It was super reflective and restful.  Here are some photos!

I recently did a Getting Things Done (GTD) related presentation to Manager-Tools' M Conference attendees alumni group.  Here is more information about the presentation with an offer to present to other groups or organizations that are interested in productivity.

Scavenger-huntMy work did a virtual Spring Break scavenger hunt (above are some of the photos).  It was super fun and collaborative with friends & family helping out. It was also nice to get out-and-about little bit more. I highly recommend doing something like this if you have the opportunity.

LOOKING FORWARD TO

Carson-lb-state-Carson is going to be graduating high-school soon, and has decided to go to Long Beach State to study nursing.  We are very proud and excited for her upcoming college season.

Summer vacation plans seem to be coming together: Mission Beach beach house rental, back to The Oaks, Def Con (Las Vegas), and camping at San Elijo State Beach.

I am hoping that my friend's D&D session (mentioned in previous posts) will get us through this epic battle I have been DMing for months, and on to a new "underwater" related adventure created by our other DM Darren.

TECHNOLOGY, TIPS, & SUGGESTIONS

Here are some greate Windows 10 tips from ZDNET. The one about the new Clipboard History is especially useful as I have had to use a 3rd party tool to do this in the past.  To open Clipboard History, press Windows key + V. Neat!

Wireless-podcast-gear

I have been experimenting with these Rode Wireless Go Compact Microphone Transmitter & Receiver Systems for The PodCraft Beer Show.  So far they are working well, and they definitely decrease the amount of gear I need to drag to each recording.  I think they are also making the conversational style of the podcast easier to record, and edit on the back end.  I'll probably do a future full review, so standby for more information.

Engadget's article on "Google makes it easy to jump back to the search box by pressing '/' -- The new shortcut makes it easier to refine your search results." should enable you to quickly expand searches to include addition terms.

I knew how to schedule the release of emails, but this article from Wired describes how to do this on Apple iOS devices and on Google Android devices for text messages.  Super handy to know.

QUOTE I'M THINKING ABOUT

“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” - Peter Drucker


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.

Screenshot 2020-09-07 at 19.33.32

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.

Screenshot 2020-09-07 at 20.33.57

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 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


Rabbit Hole Of "Secure" Phones

Mobile-device-security

This article from Recode by Kara Swisher called "Former Trump economic adviser Gary Cohn’s next move: investing in a phone secure enough for the president: In a Recode Decode interview, he explains why he’s working to launch a new secure mobile phone aimed at government and corporate customers" got me wondering where the state of the possible was right now on secure phones.

I am pretty much following the recommendations for how to bring a phone to DEF CON -- like this one.  I use to bring a burner phone, but I've found it less and less practical for me.  DEF CON is in theory about as hostile of a Cyber environment as you can summit yourself, but getting targeted by a dedicated adversary is probably worse.

Some links I looked into:


My Travel Folders

Back in the day the David Allen Company would sell physical products like planners, file folder systems, inboxes, etc.  One of the last things I bought from them before they stopped selling physical products was their ORANGE mesh travel folder system.

Mobile File System GTD Nov2019It consists of the following folders:

  • IN - Your mobile inbox just like in your office at home and work.
  • TO OFFICE - Items that need to get back to your office.
  • TO HOME - Items that need to get back to your home.
  • ACTION SUPPORT - Anything that you currently physically need to complete PROJECTS or NEXT ACTIONS.
  • WAITING FOR SUPPORT - Physical items or reminder notes of items you are waiting for someone else to complete.
  • READ/REVIEW - Items you want to read or review while being mobile.

Based on my needs, I have added two additional folders:

  • REFERENCES - Key references I want to have with me while mobile. For instance physical copies of the GTD Mastering Workflow Series Methodology Guides.
  • CALENDARS/CONTRACTS - Print out of key yearly work and family/school calendars.  And then a select list of phone numbers and emails I might need to reference if I don't have my phone.

These could be duplicated today with a good label printer and quality plastic file folders.

You can still get a good amount of GTD material in electronic format like planner templates, methodology guides, workflow map, etc...


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.

DSC01306-COLLAGE

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!

2019-08-02 10.02.57-COLLAGE

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.

2019-08-03 09.20.58-COLLAGE

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 On The Sony RX 100 VI

Screenshot 2019-07-20 at 15.10.45

I've had my Sony RX 100 VI since early June and I have been using it a lot since then.  Most of the photos and movies were taken as a "travel" camera during a recent trip to Europe. 

I've also been carrying it around with me just about everywhere I go, and I have found the pictures to be so much better than my Samsung Galaxy S8+. 

I recently read this review on Wired about the Sony RX 100 VI. I agree with most of what is written in this review, but I haven't seen the poor low light performance reported or the overheating at 4K video (I haven't tried to do 5 minutes of recording to be honest.  At the most 30-45 seconds at a time).

I posted some of my pictures taken at the GTD 2019 Summit in Amsterdam on Google Photos (most of them are mine, a couple are from the official photographer who used a different camera body and lens).  Most of these were in low light.

Screenshot 2019-07-20 at 15.03.25

 


How We Traveled To Europe And Within Europe

Traveling-in-europeWe booked our tickets for Europe via AirTreks which I learned about via the Rolf Potts podcast.

We all flew out San Diego direct to Frankfurt on Lufthansa. Carson flew back from Paris to Washington, DC (IAD) to San Diego via United a week earlier than Conrad and I.  Our return flight was a direct Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt to San Diego.  I thought all the flights ended up being affordable, and having AirTreks do all the coordination was wonderful.

We bought all our train tickets in Germany using the German Train App (Bahn).  The app was very helpful and useful.

We bought our local Belgium train tickets at the stations using their kiosks (the English interfaces on all the kiosks we used were easy to use & understand).  Some kiosks took my standard Visa and others required me to use the Debt Visa.  In the end, one or the other ending up working.

I used the Internet to buy our train from Brussels to Paris via Thayls.  This was a great option because the travel time between Brussels and Paris was less than 2 hours.

Once in Paris we used the kiosks to buy local subway tickets within Paris.  Again we had the same issue with credit card vs. debt cards. Sometimes one would work and in another situation it wouldn't. In the end, one of them worked.

I used the French Train App (SNCF) to buy our train tickets from Paris to Normandy, and the the kiosk at the train station in Normandy to get back to Paris.  This SNCF app also had a copy of our tickets so that was nice not to have another set of paper tickets.

We did use the Paris subway system a couple of times on the 2nd day.  It was very handy.  Tickets were purchased at the local kiosks in the subway station.  Also we bought our tickets to Charles de Gaul using the kiosk at the main subway station near our hotel.  They were more expensive then some other options but the ride was a direct ride without subway line changes.

Carson flew home from Paris via United on Monday, June 17th.  After she left, Conrad and I flew from Paris to Rome using via Vueling Airlines.  These tickets were purchased via CheapOAir, but I did our seat upgrades directly using the Vueling Airlines app.  The flight on Vueling was good.  Conrad and I both had luggage that would have been OK for their overhead, but when we checked in they had us check the bags.  This slowed us down in Rome by about 30 minutes in waiting for our luggage.

Once in Rome, our AirBNB host setup for us a car service to pick us up at the airport and take us to our AirBNB.  This worked out great because we had the least amount of time in Rome and we weren't so sure about our public transportation options.   The trip from the airport was great and the trip back to the airport, which was early in the morning, also worked out great.  It was money worth spending.

We ended up flying on EasyJet from Rome to Amsterdam.  We carried our luggage on without a problem.

The flight from Amsterdam to Berlin (TXL) was on KLM.  I really liked the KLM experience.  We got to carry our luggage on and they had cool snacks!

 We left Berlin to Frankfurt on the night before we were flying back to San Diego.  This flight was on Lufthansa and we had to turn in our luggage at the gate because of our ticket class.  There was definitely room for them.  That was kind of a bummer.  It took like 40 minutes to get our bags which made us late for trying to get into the hotel that is in the "secure" part of the airport.  So we had to go outside of security and stay at the Sheraton that is attached to the airport.

In summary ....

  • [PART 1] All the flights worked out without any major issues.  We didn't get to carry on our luggage a couple of times. Which mostly only caused us delays in waiting for our bags.  All the airports worked great.  Moving around, getting through queues, shopping, services, etc. were great.  I think I liked the Amsterdam and Frankfurt airports the most. But Paris, Berlin, and Rome were not bad.  I have been to worse in the U.S.
  • [PART 2] A lot of what we did at the front of the trip was take trains. This worked great for three people.  I think that is why in PART 1 -- it worked great because it was just two people flying vs. three people flying.  The train experience was also overall very seamless and a good time.  Having the right mobile app was key so I definitely recommend using them.

Back to the main Europe 2019 page.


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