Gray Man Series - Major Book Recommendation

Screenshot 2020-05-10 at 15.23.41I am a big fan of Mark Greaney's Gray Man Series.

I have consumed all of them using Audible.

These are the books in order (I do recommend listening or reading in order if you can. However, they do stand alone if want to listen or read them out of order).:

  1. The Gray Man
  2. On Target
  3. Ballistic
  4. Dead Eye
  5. Back Blast
  6. Gunmetal Gray
  7. Agent In Place
  8. Mission Critical
  9. One Minute Out

Here are several reasons why I enjoy them:

  • Court has a moral compass.
  • The moral compass gets him in all sorts of unintended consequences.
  • It is action packed.
  • It is fast moving.
  • The story telling is exceptional.
  • The locations are well researched.
  • I like action spy/espionage/intelligence/special operations/covert/clandestine/etc. stories.

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


Tom Peters - Recession46: Forty-six 'Secrets' and 'Clever Strategies' For Dealing with the Recession of 2008

I recent got an email from Tom Peters:

Tom Peter's Email Header

The email listed his 46 secrets & strategies he recommend during the 2008 financial crisis.  I found a link to the blog article, but when you go there the PDF down link isn't working (hopefully it will get fixed soon).

So meanwhile here they are:

Forty-Six Strategies for Dealing with Gut-wrenching Downturns from Tom Peters:

  1. You come to work earlier.
  2. You leave work later.
  3. You work harder.
  4. You may well work for less; and, if so, you adapt to the untoward circumstances with a smile—even if it kills you inside.
  5. You volunteer to do more.
  6. You dig deep, deeper, deepest—and always bring a good attitude to work.
  7. You fake it if your good attitude flags.
  8. You literally practice your "stage face" in the mirror each morning, and in the loo mid-morning.
  9. You give new meaning to the idea and intensive practice of "visible management."
  10. You take better than usual care of yourself and encourage others to do the same— physical well-being significantly impacts mental well-being and response to stress.
  11. You shrug off shit that flows downhill in your direction—buy a shovel or a "pre- worn" raincoat on eBay.
  12. You try to forget about the "good old days"—nostalgia is self-destructive. (And boring.)
  13. You buck yourself up with the thought that "this too shall pass," but then remind yourself that it might not pass anytime soon; and so you rededicate yourself to making the absolute best of what you have now—character is determined, virtually in full, by one's reaction to adverse circumstances.
  14. You work the phones and then work the phones some more—and stay in touch with, and on the mind of, positively everyone.
  15. You frequently invent breaks from routine, including "weird" ones—"change-ups" prevent wallowing in despair and bring a fresh perspective.
  16. You eschew all forms of personal excess.
  17. You simplify.
  18. You sweat the details as never before.
  19. You sweat the details as never before.
  20. You sweat the details as never before.
  21. You raise to the sky and maintain—at all costs—the Standards of Excellence by which you unfailingly and unflinchingly evaluate your own performance.
  22. You are maniacal when it comes to responding to even the slightest screw-up.
  23. You find ways to be around young people and to keep young people around—they are less likely to be members of the "sky is falling" school. (Naïveté can be a blessing.)
  24. You learn new tricks of your trade.
  25. You pass old tricks of the trade on to others—mentoring matters now more than ever.
  26. You invest heavily in your Internet-Twitter-Facebook-"cloud"-computing skills.
  27. You remind yourself, daily, that this is not just something to be "gotten through"—it is the Final Exam of Competence, of Character, and, even if you're not a boss, of Leadership. (People often make great leaps in a short period during difficult times.)
  28. You network like a demon.
  29. You network like a demon inside the company—get to know more of the folks who "do the real work," and who can be your most dependable allies when it comes to getting things done seamlessly and fast.
  30. You network like a demon outside the company—get to know more of the folks "down the line," who "do the real work" in vendor customer outfits. (They can become, and will become, your most avid allies and champions.)
  31. You offer thanks to others by the truckload if good things happen—and take the heat if bad things happen.
  32. You behave kindly, but you don't sugarcoat or hide the truth—humans are startlingly resilient, and rumors are the real spirit-killers.
  33. You treat small successes as if they were World Cup victories—and celebrate and commend people accordingly.
  34. You shrug off the losses (ignoring what's going on in your tummy), and get back on the horse and immediately try again.
  35. You avoid negative people to the extent you can—pollution kills.
  36. You read the riot act to the gloom-sprayers, once avoiding them becomes impossible. (Gloom is the ultimate "weapon of mass destruction" in tough times.
  37. You give new meaning to the word "thoughtful."
  38. You don't put limits on the budget for flowers—"bright and colorful" works marvels.
  39. You redouble and re-triple your efforts to "walk in your customer's shoes." (Especially if the shoes smell.)
  40. You mind your manners—and accept others' lack of manners in the face of their strains.
  41. You are kind to all mankind.
  42. You keep your shoes shined.
  43. You leave the blame game at the office door.
  44. You call out, in no uncertain terms, those who continue to play the "office politics" game.
  45. You become a paragon of personal accountability.
  46. And then you pray.

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


Recommended Refreshers On Getting Things Done (GTD)

Let's say you just read David Allen's Getting Things Done (GTD) book and you wanted a good summary of the overall methodology.

Or maybe you read the book a while back and you want a refresher.

Here is my recommendation -- listen to the following podcasts (in English) from GTD Nordic in the following order:

(1) What is GTD and how will you benefit from it? (23m49s)

(2) Step 1 in GTD: Capture (23m00s)

(3) Step 2 in GTD: Clarify (27m43s)

(4) Step 3 in GTD: Organize (25m11s)

(5) Step 4 in GTD: Reflect (29m11s)

(6) Step 5 in GTD: Engage (24m32s)

For more information about these podcast click on this link!

You can also ping me via email if you want to discuss anything related to GTD, productivity, etc.


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.


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: