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!


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 October

Wood-doorHealth Update (Bulged Disk & Bike Injury)

Things are going pretty darn good. Not back to 100% but I'm not sure that is totally possible.  Just did a Sprint Triathlon on Sunday, Sept. 29 (500m swim, 17K bike, & 5K run).  I was slower than I wanted, but I finished, didn't get hurt, and didn't finish last in my age group!

20190929_104027-01Getting Things Done (GTD)

Several things going on related to #gtd:

Technology & Tips

I have had a "free" version of Plex Server running on the home network to serve up digital movies, photos, and music for several years. The free version is a solid product. But recently I upgraded to a version that enables access to our family's collection of media remotely while not on our home network.  Wow! Very nice! Especially when you are on travel.  No more copying down files before going on a trip.  Just get what you want, when you need it, while on travel.

If you get to New Orleans, then I highly recommend you visit the World War II / D-Day Museum:

DSC01417-COLLAGEFuture

I am definitely ready for the 2019 Baseball Playoffs.  It should be a great October.

Quote I'm Thinking About

“I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.” - Winston Churchill


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!

2019-07-04 06.59.44-COLLAGE

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:

DSC01011-COLLAGE

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!

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

 


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.


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.


Berlin To Frankfurt To San Diego

DSC00929-COLLAGEOn Sunday, June 23 -- Conrad and I left Berlin for Frankfurt (photos).  We arrived late in the evening in Frankfurt and stayed the night at the Marriott Hotel next to the airport.  We wanted to stay in hotel that was in the actual boarding area (bod hotel) but it was closed by the time we got there.

The Marriott Hotel was great though and probably the best "hotel" that we stayed in.  Unfortunately it was for less than 8 hours.

After getting up on Monday morning (6/24), we made it through security and immigration with no issues.  We had some time for some last minute shopping, food, espresso from McDonald's (not bad), and some time to see a bunch of airplanes.

The flight home was smooth sailing on Lufthansa and it was really good to finally get back home.  Immigration control in San Diego was also a breeze.

Here are some photos from our last day in Germany:

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Experiencing Berlin

DSC00888-COLLAGEConrad and I made our way to Berlin on Saturday (June 23) from Amsterdam (photos).  The trip from our hotel to the airport was very straightforward: walk to the ferry, take the free ferry to Central Station, and then take the airport train from Central Station to the airport.

Here are two sets of pictures from Berlin:

One of the super fun parts of Sunday afternoon was hanging out with Conrad's girlfriend Skye's family (aunt, uncle, nephews, and niece) who happened to be in Berlin at the same time:

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At the end of the day on Sunday, we headed back to the Berlin Airport for a late evening flight to Frankfurt.  The trip to Frankfurt from Berlin had no major issues.

Some thoughts about this part of the the trip:

  • We managed to take the bus from the airport to a stop near our hotel (short 10 minute walk), and hotel was very close to a Berlin City Train Station.
  • Our flight from Amsterdam to Berlin was on KLM.  They had a great little snack step-up (photo) that was pretty well engineered and tasty.
  • Conrad really wanted to buy Birkenstocks in Germany.  We found some but the selection was not great.  And they cost more plus the taxes made them even more expensive then buying them in the U.S.  So we skipped those purchases.

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