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 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

Square Graphic 300 x 300 px - Edited
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

Corkin-3D-model-graphic
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


Thoughts & Tips For July 2020

Wood-july2020Photo by Steve Holden. MORE LIKE THIS!

CURRENT EVENTS

On the health front -- all continues to be AOK with regards to COVD-19 for us and our immediate families.  We continue to be vigilant and focused:

  • #wear_a_mask,
  • #wash_your_hands,
  • #social_distance, and
  • #stay_home_if_sick.

La_Mesa_Walls_Project_Masks_Destruction_With_Art

Related to #blacklivesmatter, and increasing social justice & ending racism, I do like this new YouTube show Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man

Screenshot 2020-07-12 at 13.20.25

I am learning a lot, and working on a bunch mental changes as I become aware of them.

CAMPING

We recently did some camping in the local mountains near Julian in a San Diego County park called William Heise County Park.

2020-06-15 17.24.07-COLLAGEIt was a lot of fun and relaxing.  We had some good food also:

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Wynola Pizza & Bristo
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Julian Beer Company

TECHNOLOGY AND TIPS

  • I am trying out these bone-conducting water proof headphones for swimming -- AfterShokz Black Diamond Xtrainerz -- so far I like them a great deal.  More updates as I get more use out of them.
  • I recently listed to three Audible books that were "free" for being an Audible Subscriber.  If you aren't an Audible Subscriber, the price on these are pretty reasonable:
    1. "How to Defeat a Demon King in Ten Easy Steps" by Andrew Rowe.  This is a fun book about taking on (from a D&D perspective) a very important quest, but doing it in a not so traditional way. 
    2. "Caffeine: How Caffeine Created the Modern World" by Michael Pollan.  A great detailed account of how caffeine came into the modern world and the impact caffeine has had via coffee, tea, and now a ton of other drinks.  I learned a lot, but it didn't change my caffeine consumption much.  I have over the years reduced my caffeine use later in the day.  I use to drink a soda late in the day on the way home from work.  That stopped several years ago.  Then I stopped consuming caffeine by 3 pm. And after this book I moved that back to 2 pm without much trouble, and much better sleep.  Maybe 1 pm should be the next experiment?!?
    3. "I Hear You: The Surprisingly Simple Skill Behind Extraordinary Relationships" by Michael S. Sorensen. This is an excellent book, especially right now with #blacklivesmatter, and the conversations happening around racism, justice, inequality, and opportunity.  The listening skills outlined in this book are simple and easy to learn.  If you want to listen better, then I highly recommend this book.
  • If you are running Windows 10 then I strongly encourage you to buy a 16-GB USB Flash Drive, and follow these recommendations to make a recovery drive.

OTHER TOPICS

  • My in-person David Allen Getting Things Done (GTD) classes for July and August are moving to August and September respectively. We are still at maximum telework at work and being onsite is limited to mission essential tasking. I did finally get access to the digital GTD online course content per some licenses we bought for work. My next step is review that material, and then determine when and with what collaboration tool-suite to run a pilot.
  • I am still playing a good amount Dungeons & Dragons with some friends online.  The main 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.

QUOTE I'M THINKING ABOUT

We all have choices to be made ... attributes that matter ...

Chose Discipline over Weakness
Chose Fortitude over Rashness
Chose Courage over Cowardice
Chose Clearheadedness over Disorganization
Chose Selflessness over Selfishness
Chose Sacrifice over Cowardice

Source: "The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom" for June 13, 2020.


Thoughts & Tips for June 2020

Wood-steps-beachPhoto by Steve Holden. MORE LIKE THIS!

CURRENT EVENTS

Basically all is well with regards to COVID-19 since the last update. Everyone is healthy. Maximum telework. Virtual school. Social distancing. Major home bodies with home projects in full swing. And a good amount of Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) as an escape vice binge watching shows.

The ongoing justice crisis with #blacklivesmatter has left me sad, angry, frustrated, and motivated.  The horrible murder of George Floyd, and the peaceful protests turning violent with illegal rioting and looting have then been exasperated by some in law enforcement using unconscionable illegal force and tactics. And then we have some elected politicians and civil servants make things worse not better. Change must happen: 

  • Love your neighbor as yourself -- treat and value others with the dignity, respect, and grace you would like others to show to you.
  • Work towards a society based on justice, equality, liberty, and opportunities.
  • Condemn and reject at-all-times covert and overt hatred, racism, bigotry, and discrimination.
  • Realize and acknowledge that your place in life probably has more positives and privilege, than others who have suffered greatly, and do not have the hope that you have, or feel that their voices have been heard in the past or currently being valued or heard.

Freedom is hard work and not to be taken for granted -- FREEDOM IS NOT FREE!

EXERCISE UPDATE

I continue to enjoying my two mornings a week (Tue & Thu) riding this bike trainer while watching YouTube cycling videos using this iPad stand, and listening to audio books or podcasts.  On Sunday mornings I am completing a route around Fletcher Hills that is about 10 miles.  I have noticed that my time to complete the route keeps getting shorter so overall my biking has improved during COVID-19.

So the pool at our house has been open since last month's post.  I am doing mini-laps and training with a DIY bungie-harness setup.  Very nice to be back in the water.  More info here.

I also did pick up a recovery tool that I've been meaning to get -- Theragun recently came out with the mini.  I've only had it for a short time but it has really given me some relief on parts of my left leg that is still giving me some issues since my bulged disc two years ago.

TECHNOLOGY AND TIPS

SOME MUSIC RECOMMENDATIONS

I have been listening to a lot more music recently.  Here are some suggestions from YouTube:

OTHER TOPICS

  • I am prepping for a 9 person David Allen Getting Things Done (GTD) class at work in June but it isn't confirmed yet.  The wheels of purchasing stuff at work have been going slow, and I still don't have digital licenses, but I am told that could change any day now.
  • I am still playing at least one day of the week Dungeons & Dragons with some friends online.  The main 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, BeyondD&D, and Roll20.  I am trying out some mapping tools.  More about that next month.

QUOTE I'M THINKING ABOUT

"Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one." - Bruce Lee

 


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


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: