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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Getting Things Done (GTD) Summit 2019

GTD Summit 2019 Collage

The Getting Things Done (GTD) 2019 Summit was held in Amsterdam from June 20-21, 2019. 

BACKGROUND -- My family and I had already purchased our airplane tickets by the time I confirmed I was able to attend, so we ended up re-arranging and making some adjustments so I could attend. My son Conrad could still get to his major city requests, and Carson could fly home "early" but still spent time in Germany, Belgium, Normandy, and Paris.  It was an answer to prayer that it all worked out. Here is our complete trip summary.

The conference was amazing!  I still need to summarize all my notes (Part 1 - Day 1 PDF is DONE!) [Still working on Part 2], but here are some links to some online content about the conference:

GTD Roadmap For Summit 2019


Experiencing Rome

Rome

We arrived in Rome late in the afternoon on Monday (June 17, 2019) and made it to our AirBNB via a reserved driver.  This worked out great as our time in Rome was actually the shortest overall at this point.  The driver was waiting for us as we left the luggage area and drove us straight to the AirBNB.

Here are some pictures of our AirBNB.  I would recommend staying there again.  The location was good and it had a good kitchen and sleeping arrangements for us.

We did a walking tour the evening we arrived And then had dinner.

Our second day Tuesday (June 18, 2019) consisted of the following events:

On Wednesday morning we got up pretty early and made our way to the airport again using a reserved driver.  We had a relatively early flight to Amsterdam and we had read things could be problematic at the Rome airport. In our case it was not a problem getting through security, and things went very smoothly getting to our gate.  We had time for breakfast and some shopping at the airport.

Some other thoughts about Rome:

  • Walking around was very easy with Google maps.
  • No scooters.
  • The main events - Vatican, Colosseum, etc. -- had no tickets available at the last minute.
  • There is no way you could get me to drive in Rome.  Crazy!
  • There seems to be amazing history around every corner.

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Traveling from Ottignies, Belgium to Normandy, France (via Paris)

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The trip from Ottignies to Normandy started out great.  We went from Ottignies station to Belgium Central station, and then took a high-speed train (French - Thalys) from Belgium to Paris, France.

Brussels To ParisWe were very concerned about our transfer from our arrival station (Gare du Nord) in Paris to the station (Saint Lazare Train Station) that goes from Paris to Normandy, but we were blessed with a great seatmate on our trip to Paris.  He gave us some great recommendations on what to do in Paris (stay tuned), and then when we arrived in Paris he took us personally from our station to the station we needed to go to via the Metro.  It was super easy with a guide, which would help us a ton when we came back to Paris -- and set the tone for the rest of the trip that we could easily take public transportation in Europe.  Wow a friendly French person helped the language challenged American!  Thanks!!

Metro In Paris

The trip from Paris to our stop in Normandy was pretty straight forward once we got on the train.  The WIFI wasn't as good as on the German trains, but that was OK.  We decided to end our train trip in Caen instead of Bayeux (which was closer to our Airbnb), because the Avis car rental company location was easier to get to.  It was a great decision because in Caen the Avis rental car location was a short walk from the train station and easy to find.

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In the end the drive from Caen to our place in Normandy worked out great. Deciding to get the rental car while we were in Belgium was a great decision as we would not have had a good time without it.

Drive In Normandy

Here are the full photos from Belgium to Normandy.

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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 May 2019

Screenshot 2019-05-19 at 18.17.43Health Update

Things have been slowly improving with my back since my bike fall in February (and it is almost to 1 year since my full-on bulged disc incident).  I switched my morning runs to morning walks in March by switching my regular "run" days (Mon., Tue., Thu., Sat.) to walk days. Then in April, I moved to running 1 minute and then walking 30 seconds (repeat 20 times) on "run" days.  My current plan is to transition to running slowly for ~30 minutes (no stopping) on "run" days in May.  I also decided to not do the next couple of San Diego area sprint triathlons, and instead focus on getting to as close as possible to 100% with the plan of doing the next sprint triathlon in July. 

Wedding Anniversary

My wonder wife Christy and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary.  It was pretty low-key, but we are looking to go on an adventure later in the year.

Wedding-03-COLLAGEChvrches Concert

My daughter and I were able to see Chvrches in-between their Coachella shows at Pappy & Harriet's in Pioneertown, CA.  The concert was awesome, the road trip fun, and Pappy & Harriert's is a very unique venue to see a band (highly recommended), and the food & drinks were pretty darn good.  It was also a treat to meet-up with other Southern California Chvrches fans (second set of photos by Chris Rubalcava).

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CHVRCHES April 2019 Collage

Screenshot 2019-04-24 at 20.44.50Mom's Memorial

The weekend after Easter, my family and I held my Mom's Memorial (Saturday, April 27, 2019) up in the Sacramento area.  It was a blessing that we waited until the Spring, and all-in-all it went well  It was simple and uncomplicated, with a lot of time to remember, share, and support each other.  Another major blessing was being able to connect with her many friends that she touched and did life with.  

Technology & Tips

One thing I have been experimenting with over the last month is using a Panda paper planning system to scope out my monthly, weekly, and daily plans right after my morning devotionals.  So far it has been pretty positive.  This is the one I purchased.

I used these ear protection plugs for the Chvrches concert.  They worked out better than expected.  I could clearly hear all the music, but being in the front row, my hearing wasn't impacted like it has been in the past.

If you are looking for some water proof headphones for swimming, then you should know that these are the best I have used -- HydroActive Headphones.

Future

There is a lot going on in May:

Quote I'm Thinking About

"When annoyed count 10, before you speak, if very angry, count 100." - Thomas Jefferson


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.


Image-from-rawpixel-id-430588-jpegImage by rawpixel.com

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