You can find out what I'm up to in near real-time via: Twitter (@sholden) Instagram (@sholden), or Facebook (sholden). I also recommend checking out my AztecMedia.net produced sites: Chvrches Fan Podcast (@chvrchespodcast), ThePodCraft Beer Show (@thepodcraft, @techguysteve, Untapped, @techguysteven); Tech News Radio (@technewsradio), Air Gapped Networks (@airgapnet), Jersey Boys Podcast, and Veteran Stories. [Updated: May 9, 2021]
This photo is part of my Nature Collection!
Over the past month we have been celebrating outdoors & socially distanced the Holidays, Christmas, and New Year's Eve. Best of all is that we continue to be blessed with a hedge of protection with regards to COVID-19 and health in general.
Unfortunately I do have some bad news -- on Saturday morning (December 26) we found out our elderly black lab Kaley escaped our yard, and we have not been able to find her. We are all very concerned and sad. But we continue to hold out hope she will be found:
SUPER FUN ADVENT CRAFT BEER CALENDAR
Chris and Charlie -- the hosts of ThePodcraft Beer Show -- gave me this awesome customized Advent Calendar filled with twenty-four excellent craft beers:
HOLIDAY SCAVENGER HUNT
The NAVWAR Enterprise had a fun virtual scavenger hunt for employees and their families over the weekend of December 18-20, 2020. The family had a good time working on it. We didn't finish in the Fastest Top 30, but we got everything done!
TECHNOLOGY, TIPS, & SUGGESTIONS
If you are looking for a great coffee mug, tea kettle, desk/garden creatures, or unique stickers/t-shirts/etc. then check out Skeletal Dropkick! I am enjoying my new Bear Mug, and custom D&D stickers! I also got an original custom drawing on my box! FUN!
If you are doing "family" tech support for folks on multiple platforms, then check out the free Chrome Remote Desktop tool from Google. It works cross platform, and also works on Chromebooks. I personally use this nearly on a daily basis to get from my Chromebook to my Windows 10 PC for Windows-based activities.
This site puts some things in perspective on what has changed since you were born - https://neal.fun/life-stats/. It includes a lot of positive data, and not so much on data that might be controversial, but definitive worth trying out.
This great calendar visualization of 2021 continuous year from Kairos Cognition (a productivity consulting & consulting firm associated with David Allen's Getting Things Done) inspired me to create my own version in Google Docs which I published in PDF. This is what mine looks like:
In discussing this continuous year calendar on the GTD Connect forms, a fellow member shared his own horizontal version. I copied it (PDF) and here is what it looks like:
QUOTE I'M THINKING ABOUT
“Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?” — George Carlin
Craft Beer #3:
Craft Beer #4:
Craft Beer #5:
Craft Beer #6:
Craft Beer #7:
Craft Beer #8:
Craft Beer #9:
Craft Beer #10:
Craft Beer #11:
Craft Beer #12:
Craft Beer #13:
Craft Beer #14:
Craft Beer #15:
Craft Beer #16:
Craft Beer #17:
Craft Beer #18:
Craft Beer #19:
Craft Beer #20:
Craft Beer #21:
Craft Beer #22:
Craft Beer #23:
Craft Beer #24:
My favorite top three beers from this year's advent calendar:
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:
- Top Rated Beers on Beer Advocate
- Toppling Goliath Brewing Company's Kentucky Brunch Brand Stout
- My Beer Collectables (for 3rd-party craft beer sales)
- Russian River's Pliny The Elder (Double IPA)
- Toppling Goliath Brewing Company's SR-71 (very rare)
- Tree House Brewing's Julius IPA
If you are interesting in learning more about craft beers, then check out this guide that Chris from ThePodCraft recommends.
Photo by Steve Holden. MORE LIKE THIS!
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.
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 ...
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.
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:
- "The Lions of Lucerne" by Brad Thor [Book #1 of The Scot Harvath Series] #fun
- "Path of the Assassin" by Brad Thor [Book #2 of The Scot Harvath Series] #fun
- "State of the Union" by Brad Thor [Book #3 of The Scot Harvath Series] #fun
- "Accelerate: Building and Scaling High Performing Technology Organizations" by Dr. Nicole Forsgren, Jez Humble, & Gene Kim #work
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):
- "The David Rivers Series: Books 1-3 -- Greatest Enemy, Offer of Revenge & Dark Redemption" by Jason Kasper
- "Scars: John Dempsey Novella" by Brian Andrews & Jeffery Wilson #fun
- "American Operator" by Brian Andrews & Jeffery Wilson [Tier One #4] #fun
- "Red Spector" by Brian Andrews & Jeffery Wilson [Tier One #5] #fun
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
Photo by Steve Holden. MORE LIKE THIS!
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.
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.
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:
- "The 3-Day Effect" by Florence Williams (#get_out_in_nature)
- "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)
- "How Music Works" by David Byrne (#facinating)
- "The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business" by Charles Duhigg [2nd time] (#potentially_life_changing)
- "The Lions of Lucerne" by Brad Thor [in-progress](#fun)
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.
- 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
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.
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!
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.
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
- There is a UCSD Triton Sprint Triathlon coming up that I am considering if the weather holds.
- We got more GTD Participant Kits from VitalSmarts at work, so I can go back to teaching a class every other month starting in February or March. We also go our 2nd Certified Trainer trained so that is going to make my teaching schedule more manageable.
- The Super Bowl is tomorrow (2/2/2020)!
QUOTE I'M THINKING ABOUT
"People do not decide their futures, they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures." - F.M. Alexander
Or maybe you read the book a while back and you want a refresher.
Here is my #1 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)
My #2 recommendation is to consider the new workbook: "The Getting Things Done Workbook: 10 Moves to Stress-Free Productivity" (Paperback or Kindle) by David Allen & Brandon Hall. It is easy to read, has great exercises, and is well thought out.
When we arrived in Paris (Saturday, June 15th) it was still late mid-day (trip summary). We ended up dropping off our stuff at our hotel (Hôtel de Roubaix) and then started walking toward the Seine . We ultimately made our way to the Eiffel Tower. We took a ton of photos.
The next day we headed to the Louvre for a guided tour (highly recommended), and then we had time to walk and see what we wanted. We did that for about 2 hours. Once we were done at the Louvre (most of the morning) we made our way to the Arc de Triomphe, and Norte Dame.
We had lunch at L'Etoile 1903 near Arc de Triomphe. The only picture I took was of the beer (I think we were super hungry and just started digging in before a picture could be taken of our food):
Just before dinner though, I was able to meet up with Rolf Potts (travel writer) for a quick picture. He was in Paris at the same time teaching a class on writing. I've been listening to Rolf's podcast for some time -- Deviate. Some of his podcasts actually inspired parts of this trip.
Some other details and thoughts about Paris:
- The French people we met in the stores and restaurants were super helpful and accommodating of our lack of French.
- There are a lot of scooters in Paris.
- Taking pictures of the Eiffel Tower from the other side of the Seine was a great recommendation from our train companion from Brussels to Paris.
- He also recommending going to an "unofficial" memorial for Princes Diana which we did.
- The subway system while we were there was great.
- The train system worked well for us also.
- We probably could have done better on the hotel but we really weren't in the room all that much other than to sleep so any "better" setup would have been lost on us.
- Having Carson leave us early was a bummer but it all worked out in the end.
Sorry I never got around to posting in March 2019 ...
Getting Back To Healthy
I 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.
A bunch of stuff has been going on that has been really cool:
- Sold my Mini-Cooper! I am sorry to see it go, but my left "clutch" leg & knee is feeling much better.
- Saw Resurrection Radio in concert at Helix Brewing Company!
- Marshmello featuring Chrvches released a new song called "Here With Me"
- My daughter Carson turned 16 and is one of the actors in the Spring Play at her high school.
- My son Spencer got Honor Roll last semester (award ceremony in Feb).
- Two recent trips to DC for work were pretty productive.
- I just got more training material to deliver future Getting Things Done (GTD) courses at work.
- Christ Lutheran School's annual Gala was last Friday and it was a ton of fun, and we raised nearly $100K.
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
If 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
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