Thoughts & Tips For March & April 2019

Photos_2016_9_1_fst_840fcd2b47a-9065-4481-98e1-9d5d4f66b32eBrown Wood Plank

Sorry I never got around to posting in March 2019 ...

Getting Back To Healthy

TritonI 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.

Thankful For

A bunch of stuff has been going on that has been really cool:

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

Here is a collage of recent bourbons** that I've tried since January (last post on the topic):

BourboncollectionIf 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

I made a collection of photos of recent craft beers that I've tried over the 1st Quarter of 2019. All of them were good and recommended.

Future

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


Thoughts & Tips For February 2019

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Photo by Cristina Gottardi on Unsplash

Slowly Improving To A Better State

Per previous posts (Nov Dec Jan) -- my Mom's sudden and unexpected passing on October 31, 2018 -- is still consuming a great deal of my energy and attention. Things are slowly getting sorted out, and there appears to be on the horizon some resolution on her house and the rest of her trust.  I am definitely learning a lot about patience and prayer.

Things are pretty stable with my back (I haven't had any pain since mid June), and my core strength has really improved with Pilates.  I am swimming on average three times a week and I started to run a full 5K on my run days vice run a minute then walk for 30 seconds (repeat 28x times).  Hopefully this will continue to be status quo.  I have signed up for a Sprint Triathlon in February, and look forward to trying out my new swimming wet suit (my previous race used my boogie boarding suit which worked but isn't ideal for swimming).

Thankful For

I had a safe trip to DC this past week.  My original flights had issues, but in the end everything worked out for the best.  And I was able to flow with the changes without getting myself super frustrated.  I think that might be because of the book on stoicism that I reference below, and some of the mindfulness training using Kevin Roses' Oak app that I mentioned last month.

Our family hosted two Australian students for a couple of weeks at the beginning of January.  They were a great addition to our family and we got to do a bunch of cool San Diego things together.

After much prayer, and many starts & stops with ups and downs our church has finally filled our Pastor Of Family Connections. YES!

Technology & Tips

As I mentioned last month (Jan) ... I switched my main Personal GTD "external brain" to Nirvana.  It is a really solid product, and I have to say I am very happy with it.  Check it out if you get a chance.  I'm still using Google Keep for tracking checklists and reference material.

I am really enjoying the Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey from Basil Haydens.

My recent upgrade to the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite has really increased my daily reading.  The two books I'm reading daily for this year are: Unshakeable by Christian Cain (this is part of my morning devotional), and The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living by Ryan Holiday & Stephen Hanselman (I read this in the afternoon when I take a break around 3 p.m.).  I also just finished the following book Brain Rules (Updated and Expanded): 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School 2nd Edition by John Medina.

Future

I have another trip to DC the first week of February, and then a bunch of meetings and a conference the 2nd week of February.  And then my UCSD Tritonman Sprint Triathlon which should be challenging but fun! Summer vacation planning is also starting to come together and it looks like June I'm going to be able to attend GTD Summit in Amsterdam.

Quote I'm Thinking About

“Time flies. It’s up to you to be the navigator.” – Robert Orben [THOUGHT: That’s why time is more about compass, then clock.]


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):

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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!

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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 November 2018


Very Sad News

The majority of this post was written before I learned that my wonderful mother - Marlies Holden - passed away unexpectedly yesterday (10-31-2018).  I am currently at the airport leaving for Sacramento.  Please pray for me, my family, and all those hurting right now.


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Health Update

Again ... the Pilates physical therapy courses I have been taking have been making a big difference in my overall physical health.  My core is stronger and it has been almost 5 months since my major back pain incident -- basically everything is going better than expected (no pain, no real negative effects).  I am slowly getting back to running, but trying to keep that limited by doing intervals of running for 1 minute and then walking for 30 seconds (repeat 28x times).

Technology

I just ordered the new Kindle Paperwhite and I'm looking forward to the upgrade.  I really like reading on my Kindle vice phone or iPad.  

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Thankful For

My work related trips in September were good and productive. I really enjoyed the National Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio; and highly recommend going if you have 4-6 hours:

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And the trip to Omaha, NE was great because the weather was very enjoyable (these are pictures from an afternoon run):

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My last David Allen Getting Things Done (GTD) class for FY2018 went well.  And the concert with Maggie Rogers and Mallrat was awesome:

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Future

We have some tentative plans to go to the mountains the weekend of Veterans Day, and then a trip to Palm Springs area just before Thanksgiving.  The week of Thanksgiving should be fun as we always host Thanksgiving dinner, and the family and some close friends play a friendly game of touch football before eating.  And then we can also start decorating for Christmas.

Tips

I watched on the plane back from Omaha, NE a very interesting documentary called "Neat." Basically it is well done history of bourbon in the United States.  It really captured my attention, and I think I going to be deep diving on the topic of bourbon for a while.

If you are using Google Chrome, then I highly recommend checking out the extension Clipboard History 2.  It keeps a running log (as long as you want) of items you have cut-n-pasted.  I find it really useful to cut down re-typing links or other material when writing.  It also is a handy history of what you have been working on.  If you cut-n-paste passwords though, you might want to look at the settings around clearing the history after a certain number of items, and maybe not do a cloud sync of your clips.  I haven't looked into the security of the data protection in the tool.  Better safe than sorry.

Quote I'm Thinking About

“Do your own thinking independently. Be the chess player, not the chess piece.” – Ralph Charell


Thoughts & Tips For October 2018

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Health Update

Things are slowly getting better.  The Pilates classes I have been taking are really making a difference.  My core is really getting stronger.  I did pretty well on my 2nd Sprint Triathlon beating my expected time by a couple of minutes:

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I finally broke down and got some Bluetooth workout/running/gym headphones.  I think I picked these because of the price, they were from Anker which I think has good Q&A, and the overall reviews.

Thankful For

This past September had a lot to be thankful for.

My friend Mark Horstman from Manager Tools was in San Diego teaching a group of leaders at my work how to do Better Interviewing.  I highly recommend this training:

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I got to see my favorite band Chvrches with my family.  My daughter and I were in the front row with my friend Bruce from Texas.  It was a very memorable show:

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Also the opening band was Lo Moon and they are awesome:

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My niece's wedding was also wonderful:

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And my last training class for Getting Things Done (GTD) at work in FY2018 was great.  It is awesome to be able to help others better manage their lives in a productive and effective way:

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Future

I have a couple of work related trips that should be very interesting and I am planning to learn a lot at them.

Another great musician - Maggie Rogers -- and her opening band Mallrat are coming to San Diego in September and I'm so looking forward to seeing them live.

Tips

Do you have a Roomba that is running slow because of old batteries?  This was out situation over the summer.  I'd charge the Roomba and then it would only be able to do half the room before needing to be recharged.  I got this battery replacement and it is like we have a new Roomba.

I have probably said this before, but 3x5 cards seem to be the best possible note taking solution for me.  I recently bought some cards that were "not the cheapest" and had some  thickness to them.  The newer cards are very nice to write on and because they are firm and solid, more enjoyable to use.

Quote I'm Thinking About

“If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.” — Jack Kornfield


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 May 2018

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Photo by Tod Seitz on Unsplash

Technology

The new Wyze camera is working out great.  I've also gotten the Android app to run on my Chromebook which makes monitoring at home much easier.

Thankful For

I have completed three Vital Smarts' new 1-day Getting Things Done (GTD) at work and I'm now a Certified GTD Trainer!  I have another class the first week of May. And I'm planning to deliver three more classes before the end of September.

I really enjoyed Infinity Wars.  Great movie. The ending is massive.

Our trip to Disneyland was a blast.

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Future

It looks like in May there is of course Mother's Day, a possible trip to Washington DC, and Memorial Day weekend.

Our church is planning to pack 100,000 meals on May 6th.  This is double the 50,000 we did last year!

Tip

I really like this computer reading glasses.

Quote I'm Thinking About

"Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm." - Winston Churchill


Thoughts & Tips for March 2018

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Photo by Robin Spielmann on Unsplash

Technology

I recently picked up this Pisen Wireless Presenter Laser Pointer 2500 for my upcoming GTD class.  It appears to work well has a laser pointer, mouse, and slide forward/backward.  I can also be used as a USB charger and has an internal rechargeable battery.

Thankful For

The two-day course at Rescue Academy with Mike Foster on Feb 8-9, 2018 is was awesome.  I learned so much!

Future

My first Vital Smarts' new 1-day Getting Things Done (GTD) training classes at work is scheduled for March 8, 2018.

Tip

Back in October 2017 I listened to this Tim Ferris interview with Jocko Willink.  This what I remembered Jocko recommending to get started with a new exercise.  He said to just do that thing as much as you can.  And then rest, and then try to do it again. Rest. Repeat trying and resting up to 8 times.  I've always sucked at doing pull-ups.  So every day in November, I just tried to do one. Over and over again.  And by the end of the month I could do one.  Then December became two pull-ups. January ended with 3 pull-ups.  And in March I am doing 4 pull-ups 6 days a week!

Quote I'm Thinking About

"There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know." - Donald Rumsfeld


Thoughts & Tips for February 2018

IMG_7424-EFFECTSPhoto by Steve Holden

Technology

I found out a gotcha with my new Zoom H6 Portable Audio Recorder.  You need to format the card on the H6 before you record anything.  If you don't, then the files saved are in a strange pseudo file system that can't be recognized on desktop OSes (Mac, Windows, Chromebook, Linux, etc).  To get the audio off you'll probably have to use Audio Out and record the audio on another device (like a PC running Audacity).

Thankful For

The trip to Hawaii with Conrad was awesome.  We got to swim with sharks!

Hamilton was good. I am glad I got to see it.

Future

I am still working on setting up Vital Smarts' new 1-day Getting Things Done (GTD) training classes at work.  I need to create a Wiki for the course, use our training system to create a record for each class, and reserve rooms for three dates into the future.

This two-day course at Rescue Academy with Mike Foster from Feb 8-9, 2018 is going to be interesting.

Tips

Regular morning routines before I go on a run have really helped me have the right mindset for the day.  I start off praying and reading a daily devotional (~10 minutes), and then I doing a series of pushups, stretches, and situps before running (~10 minutes).

Google Keep has two good reminder options.  One is time based - like set a reminder for April 1, 2018.  The other is geolocation based.  The next time at "Costco" buy XYZ.


New Ambient Information Display From Lenovo

SmartDisplay_1-COLLAGE (1)Engadget recently published a hands-on review from CES 2018 on a new smart-screen device from Lenovo -- "Lenovo Smart Display hands-on: Google Assistant gets a new kind of home".

It looks like a nice device for not only using Google Assistant, but also displaying ambient information.

I see ambient information as context specific personalized information displayed on a screen that you regularly have access to.  For instance, in my home office I have a laptop running Google Chrome with 7 tabs open and then I use an extension called Revolver - Tab to cycle through each tab every 60 seconds.  I also have the same setup at work, but with a different set of tabs.

I see finding, customizing, and building out these displays in such a way that add value, but isn't distracting to workflow, is going to be an interesting area to study for human factors scientists.

More info from Lenovo's Blog about Smart Display.