Thoughts & Tips For October 2020

Wood-oct-2020This photo is part of my Wood Collection.  Also check out  my Nature Collection!

CURRENT EVENTS

We are AOK 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.  

My candidate for President of the United States in 2020 continues to be Jo Jorgensen. I think she would have been great in the 1st debate (#letherspeak, #letherdebate), but that didn't happen.  I think the Presidential Debates need to move back to a non-partisan group like League of Women Voters as the Presidential Debate Commission is just run by the Republican & Democratic parties with no interest in real republican democracy and a free marketplace of ideas.

Theoaks1Christy and I had a wonderful opportunity to do a self-guided retreat with COVID-19 protections at The Oaks the last weekend in September. It was an amazing weekend -- where we were able to relax, connect, and grow. Here are some photos of the amazing facilities and grounds.  And here are some pictures of nature from around the area.  Highly recommended!  If you have any questions, then please let me know.

Theoaks2

I also managed to record the event bell on the last day.  There are two versions.  One with little changes from the original recording:

And another where I tried to clean up the audio a little bit:

OTHER THINGS THAT ARE GOING WELL

  • The PodCraft Beer Show continues to put out weekly shows.  It is a lot of fun.
  • Still playing D&D. It is also a lot of fun.
  • I taught a socially distanced -- with additional COVID-19 protections -- Getting Things Done (GTD) class at work in September.  It went pretty well.  Next up is a virtual GTD class in early October.  That is going to be a learning experience!

EXPERIMENTING WITH MEDITATION

I'm still enjoying my emerging meditation practice. I got a couple of emails about my meditation post from last month, and the benefits others have had with meditation. The Oak app that I have been using to help me build out my practice has three main functions  (HOME, COURSES, GROWTH):

Oak1

Under the HOME you will see (I use the Meditate > Unguided):

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And under COURSES you will see (at the time of this post) just one available course (but more are planned):

Oak2

If you press on GROWTH you will see your personal tracker on how you are doing by day.  I can see my current streak and my longest streak for Meditate > Unguided since this the only one I am using at this time.  It is pretty simple and well designed.  I recommend it if you are looking for something to experiment with.

TECHNOLOGY, TIPS, & SUGGESTIONS

My favorite audio editing program is still the open-source application Audacity.  It works on Macs, Windows, and Linux.

The two days a week I am riding my bike with a stationary-trainer on our backyard porch, I am nearly always watching videos from this You Tube channel Indoor Cycling Videos. They are excellent!

For the last month or so, I have been trying to look at my Getting Things Done (GTD) Next Action lists and my Projects list as something doable in the next 7 days.  So far, I've seen more throughput in completing more projects and tasks.  Items that are outside of 7 days are moved to the Later list in Nirvana for my personal system, and a similar Next Actions (Later) list in Microsoft Outlook Tasks for my work system.  These Later lists are then reviewed using  a lens of -- "is this doable in a month" -- and if the answer is "No", then the item moves to Someday/Maybe.  This has definitely increased the number of "Someday/Maybe" items, but that has been manageable since I am reviewing them once a week during my Weekly Review.

QUOTE I'M THINKING ABOUT

“Having resentment against someone is like drinking poison and thinking it will kill your enemy.” ― Nelson Mandela


Some Interest Craft Beer Links To Check Out From The Random Show

Screenshot 2020-09-05 at 11.21.18I was recently catching up on some podcasts, and this Random Show with Kevin Rose and Tim Ferris was very interesting.  I usually don't miss them when they happen.

This one got really interesting about half-way through when Kevin started talking about really good craft beers. In the area of COVID-19 he has been trying to drink more really good craft beers.  Over the last seven weeks my level of interest in craft beer in general as gone up because I've been helping Chris & Charlie with their The PodCraft Beer show.  In addition my palate has started to change from very IPA focused, to also enjoying a stout or a mild sour, and definitely fruit beers. Here are some of the links that Kevin mentioned that I studied after listening:

If you are interesting in learning more about craft beers, then check out this guide that Chris from ThePodCraft recommends.


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

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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


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.


Thoughts & Tips for June 2019

Health Update (Bulged Disk & Bike Injury)

Things have been improving since my last month's update (May).  I think I've returned to my overall health level from February . I am tentatively planning my next Sprint Triathlon for the end of July. 

Strongest Conference

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I attended Mike Foster's Strongest workshop on May 16 & 17, 2019. It was an amazing learning experience and the people at the conference were super inspiring. Mike Foster has plans for another one so follow Mike on social media or listen to his Fun Therapy podcast for updates.

Strongest-CollageGetting Things Done (GTD)

At the end of May 2019 I taught my 9th Getting Things Done (GTD) course at work (over 90+ people trained since first class), and my GTD story was published recently on GTD Times.

Technology & Tips

Last month I mentioned I was experimenting in the morning with a Panda paper planning system.  After about a month thought I've made some adjustments because the written monthly, weekly, and daily planning part for my calendar and other item date specific items was not helping me that much.  However what was helping me during my morning devotionals was tracking on a daily basis:

  • what I was thankful for,
  • what I was looking forward to,
  • what God was telling me in my devotional,
  • what I could work on as person (these are coming from the Stoic daily reads from the book The Daily Stoic), and
  • how I am exercising.

This summer I am embarking on a big project with the help of my son Spencer to digitize 99% of all of our physical photos using this scanner -- Epson FastFoto FF-680W Scanner.

Future

This upcoming next month is going to be completely consumed by:

  • Spencer is graduating high school!
  • Carson, Conrad, and I are going to Europe from June 8 through June 23 (Germany, Belgium, France, Italy, Netherlands).

Quote I'm Thinking About

“You’re under no obligation to be the same person you were 5 minutes ago.” — Alan Watts


Thoughts & Tips For January 2019

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Photo by Steve Holden**

World Stabilizing

Per my November and December posts -- my Mom's sudden and unexpected passing on October 31, 2018 -- this event is still consuming most of my energy and attention.  I wouldn't be functioning though if it wasn't for the support, prayers, comfort, and help I've been getting from my faith in Christ, family, life group, church, friends, co-workers, CHVRCHES Podcast Fans, etc. Thank you all very much.  I recently found this picture (it was a 35mm slide that I converted to digital) of my Mom with her brother Ludwig in Germany (probably early 1960s before she left German for the United States):

Marlies&Ludwig-WinterTime

As I post this, my daughter and I are making a trip up to Sacramento/Roseville to work on a couple of key projects, and spend time with my sister's family before driving back to San Diego later in the week.

Thankful For

One of the micro stories I vaguely reference last month that was a blessing, but is both sad and happy. When I called my one of my childhood friend's Mom about my Mom passing, she had to share that her husband had passed away unexpectedly earlier in October, and his celebration of life service was the same weekend I was up there.  It was wonderful to attend, and spend time with friends I have not seen in years, and reflect & share about both unexpected deaths. God does work in ways that baffles me at times.

December was great. I love, and my family loves, Christmas ... so we made the most of it all month. This year's Christmas Party at our house was one of the highlights. I made four crock-pots of chili, and most of it was gone by the end of the night!

Podcastgraphic

I managed to end 2018 with a heartfelt CHVRCHES Fan Podcast.  In November, Chvrches releases a great acoustic EP called the Hansa Sessions that I adore.  I already knew this (I'm a little bit bias), but for an electronic synthesizer centric band -- they are really talented. 

Health Update

I believe I have had a bit of a breakthrough thanks to regular pilates classes and daily stretches as the numbness in my left foot related to my bulged disk (L5-S1) [see July Update] has gone away completely some days.  I haven't figured out a pattern, but as I write this, I currently don't have any numbness that I use to have all the time.

Technology

I am still loving the new Amazon Kindle Paperwhite, and the new Acer Chromebook Flip 13 has been working flawlessly.  I highly recommend both of them.

Future

There is not a lot on the horizon for January 2019.  There might be a work trip back to Washington, DC, and our family is going to host some Australian high school students at our house for a week or so.  That should be exciting!

Tips

I can't say more about trying this Hof Breathing Method that Kevin Rose posted on Instagram if you are feeling stressed out, or want to go to sleep after practicing the steps. It has really worked wonders for me.

One of my most read and reference blog posts I have ever posted is "How I use Google Keep to do Getting Things Done (GTD) in my personal system."  As of yesterday though (Sunday is my weekly review day), I moved my Personal GTD system to Nirvana.  And I am not looking back! More updates probably next month, but if you are struggling with your GTD tool, then you might want to try Nirvana. Here is a link to a recommended setup guide ($10).

Quote I'm Thinking About

"Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever." - Gandhi

**This photo was taken on December 26, 2018 at the San Diego Zoo.  There is a new walkway near the large birds of prey that links the pandas (at the bottom of a hill) to the polar bears (near the top of a hill).  This was part of the walk way.  It was very new (less than a week old?).


Thoughts & Tips For September 2018

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Picture from RawPixel

Health Update

Back in July and August I mentioned my recent lower back injury with sciatica down my left leg.  I've seen some improvement in my numbness on my foot via some customized pilates physical therapy.  I'll know more after I complete the total of 10 sessions (5 1on1; 5 group). I'm working hard to avoid surgery.

Technology

I recently picked up a Philips Hue starter kit that came with two bulbs and hub for our master bedroom.  The main reason was to get less "blue light" 1-2 hours before heading to bed.  There are a lot of positive health and sleep reasons for reducing blue light before going to bed (Harvard Medical School.) So far it seems to be working well with the Google Home & Google WIFI system we have working at home and the Hue app is pretty easy to use also.

Thankful For

This year's DEFCON was amazing and you can check out my notes from the conference here: TechNewsRadio.com.

My favorite band - CHVRCHES - played a show for Jimmy Kimmel and I was able to attend.  Several videos of the performance can be found on YouTube: Video#1, Video#2, & Video#3. It was very cool to hang out with other CHVRCHES Fan Podcast friends and I managed to get a picture with the band after the show.

IMG_20180814_190909-02We also had another wonderful couple of days camping at San Elijo State Beach

Future

I completed another Vital Smarts' 1-day Getting Things Done (GTD) class in August and I have one more to do in September to close out FY2018. 

My next Sprint Triathlon (500-m swim, 15-km bike, & 5-km run) will be September 16, 2018. 

CHVRCHES are coming to San Diego on September 20, 2018.

My niece Haley is marrying Alex at the end of the month!

Tips

I really enjoyed the new Getting Things Done (GTD) book called "Getting Things Done for Teens."  It is an easy read, has great examples, and a bunch of new perspectives that is very refreshing.

Speaking about reducing "blue light" I've also turned on the reduce blue light options on all my devices from sunset to sunrise.  I've been sleeping much better the last couple of weeks since doing this blue light reduction and not having any caffeine after 3-pm in the afternoon.  I got these ideas to try out via Kevin Rose's podcast on the topic of sleep with Professor Mathew Walker.

Quote I'm Thinking About

“You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.”  — C.S. Lewis


Thoughts & Tips For June 2018

Kindfolk-703-unsplashPhoto by kindfolk on Unsplash

Technology

I took one of my Wyze cameras on travel in May to Washington, DC with me to watch over all my gear in my hotel room while I was at out of the room.  It worked out well.  No issues.

I am moving from a Windows 7 HP tablet/laptop to a Windows 10 Dell tablet at work by the end of June.  A lot of stuff to do to make that transition happen.

Thankful For

Mother's Day was great and Memorial day weekend was a lot of fun around our house.  We also had a good time seeing the Star War's Solo movie for Spencer's birthday.  The previous week Spencer and I saw the very funny Deadpool 2 movie.

My favorite band CHVRCHES released their 3rd album "Love Is Dead." If you are a crazy fan like me then please listen to the CHVRCHES Fan Podcast.

Future

June is going to be busy: my 50th Birthday Party, a lot of high school graduation parties with friends' kids graduating, and a possible trip to DC at the end of the month.  Plus I am taking two big courses in June - one on Systems Engineering (late in June) and another on Model Based Systems Engineering (early in June).

I also have three more Vital Smarts' new 1-day Getting Things Done (GTD) classes scheduled for the summer at work -- one in July, one in August, and then one in September.

Tips

I really like these instant coffee packets from South Korea -- Maxim Mocha Gold Mild Coffee Mix.  They are great for travel, camping, and mixing it up from standard coffee. And these sugar free sweeteners are great with sparkling water plus your favorite adult alcohol like vodka -- Jelly Belly Liquid Drink Mix.

Quote I'm Thinking About

"Society has arisen out of the works of peace; the essence of society is peacemaking." - Ludwig von Mises


Near Real-Time Tracking

You can find out what I'm up to in near real-time via: Twitter (@sholden) or Facebook (sholden). I also recommend checking out my AztecMedia.net produced sites: Chvrches Fan Podcast (@chvrchespodcast), ThePodCraft Beer Show (@thepodcraft, @techguysteve); Tech News Radio (@technewsradio), Air Gapped Networks (@airgapnet), Jersey Boys Podcast, and Veteran Stories. [Updated: August 2, 2020]