Essential Sopranos

I just finished a full re-watch of The Sopranos and I created the following list of essential episodes. What’s an “essential” episode, you ask? For me, it’s about the character driven episodes, ones that reveal the true nature of our main characters, featuring scenes that are absolutely core to appreciating power dynamics and personal relationships.

*Indicates my favorite episode of each season

Season 1

The Sopranos

Episode 5
Tony makes time for a little mob justice while driving Meadow around Maine to interview at colleges.

The Sopranos

I Dream of Jeannie Cusamano
Episode 13
In the Season One finale, Tony is stunned to learn who arranged the attempt on his life.

Season 2

The Sopranos

Full Leather Jacket
Episode 8
Richie makes a peace offering to Tony. Meanwhile, Sean and Matt make a move for acceptance.

The Sopranos

The Knight in White Satin Armor*
Engaged lovebirds Richie and Janice have an explosive first quarrel.

Season 3

The Sopranos

Fortunate Son
Episode 3
Christopher finds that being a ‘made’ man isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.

The Sopranos

Pine Barrens*
Episode 11
Paulie and Christopher end up on a nightmarish journey when they chase a Russian mobster into the South Jersey woods

The Sopranos

Army of One
Episode 13
In the Season Three finale, Tony orders Ralph to deal personally with the Jackie Jr. situation.

Season 4

The Sopranos

The Weight
Episode 4
A disparaging remark about his wife sets Johnny Sack off on a personal vendetta.

The Sopranos

Episode 5
Tony displays a flair for horse racing–and discovers an unexpected affinity for the serene stable life.

The Sopranos

Mergers & Acquisitions
Episode 8
Paulie takes pains to integrate his mother into the social world at Green Grove.

The Sopranos

Episode 13
In the Season Four finale, Tony and Carmela contemplate purchasing a summer house on the shore, but a voice from the past threatens to put a damper on the deal.

Season 5

The Sopranos

In Camelot
Episode 7
His father’s longtime goomar sheds light on some of Tony’s lingering emotional and financial mysteries.

The Sopranos

Cold Cuts
Episode 10
Tony B. and Christopher unearth some old memories during an otherwise idyllic trip to the country.

The Sopranos

All Due Respect*
Episode 13
In the Season Five finale, Tony’s crew circles the wagons as Johnny Sack turns up the heat.

Season 6A

The Sopranos

Episode 3
Silvio divides the spoils from Paulie’s latest score, and heads off a territorial impasse between Bobby and Vito.

The Sopranos

The Fleshy Part of the Thigh
Episode 4
Tony and Johnny Sack haggle over Barone Sanitation; Paulie is rocked by an aunt’s revelation.

The Sopranos

Johnny Cakes
Episode 8
Tony is tempted by a real-estate offer; Vito is wowed by an act of heroism; A.J. looks to diversify.

The Sopranos

The Ride*
Episode 9
Christopher makes a surprise announcement; Paulie pays a price for cutting costs at an Italian street fair.

Season 6B

The Sopranos

Soprano Home Movies*
Episode 13
After a close call at home, Tony and Carmela head to the Adirondacks for a weekend with Bobby and Janice.

The Sopranos

Walk Like a Man
Episode 17
A.J. struggles with depression; Kelli’s dad is the unwitting catalyst of a new feud between Christopher and Paulie.

The Sopranos

The Second Coming
Episode 19
Phil turns down Tony’s offer of compromise; A.J. despairs about the world and his future; Tony takes umbrage over an affront to Meadow.

The Sopranos

The Blue Comet
Episode 20
The allegiance of those closest to Tony is put to the test; a case of mistaken identity has serious ramifications.

The Sopranos

Made in America
Episode 21
Series finale. The final chapter in the saga of the Soprano family.

The Brady Bunch Guide to Hawaii


Note: I originally posted this on Tumblr, I’ve since updated links and info here.

Click here to view all the locations plotted on a custom Google Map

It appears the Brady Bunch never left the island of Oahu during their classic three-part TV series event. In fact, they barely left greater Honolulu. The screen captures, links, and map below showcase all of their tourist activities, real and fictionalized. It’s the Brady Bunch Guide to Hawaii.

Sheraton Waikiki

This is where the Brady Bunch stayed during their trip, it looks pretty much the same.

Puu Ualakaa Park

The Brady Bunch’s tour guide, David, takes them to this overlook and they all have a good laugh trying to pronounce Puu Ualakaa.

‘Iolani Palace

The Brady Bunch’s tour guide, David, points out the ‘Iolani Palace in front of the new state building while they stand in the park that features the King Kamehameha Statue.

King Kamehameha Statue

The Bradys stood in the park and admired the King Kamehameha Statue.

Halona Blow Hole

The Brady Bunch enjoyed a view of Halona Blow Hole during their tour with David.

Outrigger Canoeing

The Brady Bunch enjoyed a group Outrigger adventure. I’m not sure if they used Waikiki Beach Services back then, but you could.

USS Arizona Memorial

The Brady Bunch took a quiet and respectful tour of the Arizona Memorial.

Pearl Harbor Tour

The Brady Bunch took a boat tour of Pearl Harbor and their tour guide David tells them about the Shark Queen God and the island chief’s warning not to build a military base in the harbor, that bad luck (taboo) would soon follow.

The Taboo Idol

FYI: Tarantulas are not native to Hawaii.

RIP, Don Ho

Bobby and Cindy run into Don Ho outside of the Sheraton Waikiki. For much of Don Ho’s last 30 years, he was, “a steady Waikiki nightclub attraction, appealing largely to tourists. In his long-running show at the Ohana Waikiki Beachcomber hotel, he would crack jokes and play familiar songs.” [Source: NYTimes]

Note: Ohana Waikiki Beachcomber has since been renamed Holiday Inn Waikiki Beachcomber Resort.

Hula Dancing

If you want to take an outdoor Hula lesson, try not to hurt your back like Alice. Some beachfront hotels offer weekly outdoor Hula lessons. Or consult the Hula Schools Worldwide website to schedule a lesson.

“Rabbit” [Mānana] Island

The Brady girls viewed “Rabbit Island” (actually, it’s named Mānana Island) via coin-operated binoculars while visiting Sea Life Park.

Red-footed Booby

Mrs. Brady, the girls and Alice visited Sea Life Park, where Jan had her picture taken with a Red-footed Booby. They also viewed “Rabbit Island” (i.e. Mānana Island) from that location.

The Koʻolau Range

The Brady boys and their tour guide, David, look out towards Koʻolau Range, probably from somewhere in the vicinity of the Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden. David tells them that according to legend, the deep creases of the Koʻolau Mountains were made by old islanders dragging canoes up the mountains from the beaches.

The Ancient Burial Ground

The Brady boys attempt to return the taboo Tiki idol to an ancient burial ground of Kings situated “on the other side of the island,” all of which was fictionalized and filmed with Vincent Price on a soundstage in LA. If you want to visit a real burial ground of Hawaiian royalty, the Royal Mausoleum of Hawaii is the final resting place of Hawaii’s two prominent royal families: the Kamehameha Dynasty and the Kalākaua Dynasty.

Traditional Luau

VIncent Price and the Brady Bunch enjoyed a Hawaiian luau, filmed on a soundstage in LA. For a real Polynesian experience, visit Hawaii’s Polynesian Cultural Center, located in Laie, Oahu, about an hour’s drive from Waikiki.

Blowing of the Pu

The blowing of the Pu, a deep part of the Hawaiian culture, has multiple uses and communicates various meanings in both Religious and secular traditions.

I’m huge on Tumblr

Ok, that’s not true, but I did create two dumb things that brought me the most Internet attention of my Internet life. I’ve pasted them below for your review — your amusement mileage may vary, I won’t be offended.

#1 – HamilmonGo


My caption: “WOO! I caught a @Lin_Manuel “Linachu” today in the new HamilmonGo game! Rise up and catch ‘em all!”

About the post: Pokémon Go had just launched and took the country by storm and Hamilton was at peak media coverage, so I had a feeling this would attract Tumblr attention, which it did.

#2 – SWOT Analysis, The Power of Love


My caption: “In case you’ve also had it stuck in your head that it would be nice to finally have a SWOT Analysis of “The Power of Love” by Huey Lewis and The News. I’m now free from this thought and can move onto my next absurd mental hang-up. You’re welcome.”

About the post: For some reason, there was a SWOT analysis phase at work and this seemed like a hilarious idea to me. The post was reblogged by I Love Charts which drove lots of views and reblogs.


Google Gmail and GTD®

Methods to Stay Organized and On Task with Google Gmail and GTD®

For your consideration, I’ve outlined my methods for processing emails and staying organized and on task with email — in my case, Gmail for work. If you’re looking for options to stay more organized and your inbox is still the primary source of internal and client communication, this article can help.

First, a little bit about Getting Things Done (GTD®), if you’re not familiar. GTD equips its practitioners with methods to organize and manage all of their personal and professional organization challenges. I’m using the GTD framework for the purposes of managing corporate Gmail and work-related tasks. This article outlines the process that helps me stay organized and on task, and maybe these methods will work for you. Sharing is caring. See the “Related Info” section below for links to related resources.

What you’ll need:

  • Gmail Account
  • Gmail Labels
  • Gmail Tasks
  • Gmail Calendar

Note: The following methodology is directly Influenced by David Allen’s, Getting Things Done (GTD). If you’re not familiar with GTD, see the “Related Info” section below for more information. Getting Things Done and GTD are registered trademarks of The David Allen Company and the following recommendations are not endorsed by The David Allen Company.

Before We Get Started

Who wrote this article?
I’m in the software industry and I manage a high volume of internal and external emails with ongoing project management requirements. Email is still the primary communication method across my channels.

Does this article apply to me?
This article applies to Gmail users who manage high volumes of email (primarily from desktop or laptop) and who are looking for a better way to stay organized and/or employ Getting Things Done (GTD) methods to Gmail.

Will this help me if I use some other email service?
Most likely, yes. If your email service allows you to label (or tag), folder and star (or flag) your emails, the same methods can be applied. Not all email services have a Tasks feature built into them, so you might consider creating a “@Tasks” label or folder — or, explore the many task list plugins available for various email services. Ideally, you want the ability to customize the task name from the email and link the task with the email that provides the context. That’s a big bonus of the built-in Gmail Tasks feature.

But what about OmniFocus or other task and project management software options?
Sure, there are lots of great task and project management tools, but my professional communication is anchored by email. On a project by project basis, the choice of project management software is not necessarily up to me. Therefore, I don’t want to duplicate efforts by managing the same tasks or projects in two or more different systems. I would caution against that practice.

What are the goals of this methodology?
My goals are as follows; to avoid surprises lurking in emails, to use the paths of least resistance to stay organized, to use the fewest tools to achieve the most organization, and to have everything in its place and organized by the task required, what comes next and who owns the next action.

When these goals are achieved, it means that all emails and tasks have been “processed” and therefore:

  • Emails are responded to, tasks are completed.
  • If a task will take more than a couple minutes, the task is delegated or deferred
  • When no action is required, the email is either archived, starred, or put in a folder for future reference.
  • When you wake up each morning, you know where to begin, what you’re waiting for and what comes next.

Getting Started

Using Gmail Tasks
First, launch Tasks in Gmail and set-up your primary tasks list. You can create more than one list, but I maintain just one tasks list called “TO DO” and it’s home to all my important tasks. For project-based tasks lists, I use a Google Sheet or, more often, the required project management software (e.g. Basecamp, activeCollab).

For all other day-to-day tasks resulting from an email that cannot be handled immediately, I create a task in my TO DO list, which is always anchored to the bottom right of my Gmail window.

My Process is All About Processing
Beyond client and internal email, my Gmail Inbox is where everything work-related goes to be processed (e.g. notes to self, proposals). As emails come in (and when I can get to my inbox), the primary question becomes, is the email actionable?

If the answer is Yes:

Do it: If I can handle the question/task/request in just a couple minutes, I just do it, then I archive the email. If someone has a follow-up question, no problem, the email conversation comes back to the top of my inbox and the process begins again; is the new email actionable?

Delegate it: If the next action or response is owned by someone else, I move the the email conversation to my @Waiting folder/label. If someone responds, the email conversation comes back to the top of my inbox and I determine, once again, is the email response actionable? And the process begins again.

Defer it: If it’s a task or conversation that should happen at a specific place and time, I add it to the calendar. My calendar is a “hard landscape” as David Allen calls it — if something is on the calendar, action is taking place in support of completing a task at that specified time. If it’s a task that does not require a calendar event, but will take time and research, it’s added to my TO DO task list (i.e. using the “More Actions” + “Add to Tasks” function in Gmail). If the email requires a project plan or multiple actions related to a specific project, I use a Google Sheet template or the required project management software (e.g. Basecamp, activeCollab).

If the answer is No:

Do you need this email, does it concern you?
If the answer is no, archive it or delete it.

Is it something that you’d like to read or review later?
Star or flag it to review at a later time.

Is it something you’re unlikely to need in the foreseeable future?
Sort it into a reference folder or apply a contextual label of your choice, or just archive it and use search to find it later.

Your Daily Reviews

TO DO — Your TO DO list is in your face, it’s anchored in your Gmail Inbox browser window, you’re actively working from it and you can click the “Related email” link on any task if you need a reminder of its context.

@Waiting — If you “delegated” an email and you’re waiting on someone else for the next action, simply go to your @Waiting folder/label to see a list of what you’re waiting for, then contact the appropriate people to prompt follow-ups on and keep the ball moving.

Project Management Software — Many of us own and manage projects in Google Sheets, Basecamp, activeCollab, etc. If you have a series of interconnected tasks tied to a project, this is still the best place to manage and prioritize those tasks and to create and track milestones and timelines.

Your Weekly Reviews

Starred or Flagged — This is the information that is not mission critical, you did not delegate it to someone, and there’s no next action planned, but you want to revisit it or dig into it some more in the future. This is a list to review only as time and other priorities allow.

Your Calendar as a Hard Landscape

David Allen writes, “You need to trust your calendar as sacred territory, reflecting the exact hard edges of your day’s commitments…That’ll be much easier if the only things in there are those you absolutely have to get done on that day.”

All calendar items should be considered the hard landscape of your day — that is, more or less immovable objects. Refrain from blocking off recurring calendar time for soft landscape items like “Catching up with Emails” or “Doing Research”. Those are tasks you perform between the hard landscape items in your day. Keeping soft landscape items off your calendar will remove clutter and reduce ambiguity as to whether you may actually be available to join a meeting during those blocked hours.

Note: As you add tasks to and review your TO DO list, you can add a “Due date” to tasks in Google Calendar. Either hold yourself accountable to those dates or don’t put them in your calendar. Again, it’s a matter of ensuring your calendar is a source of truth for you and your colleagues.

The Gmail “Conversation” Challenge

So, you’ve processed all your new email and everything is complete or in its rightful place and you know what’s ahead of you, but then someone else responds to an email conversation and suddenly the processed email conversation is back at the top of your inbox. It might feel like you’re processing the same conversation too often, but it’s as easy clicking the Archive button or choosing Mute from the “More Actions” dropdown menu — i.e. if the email conversation no longer requires your participation.

Now What?

Processing your emails and getting all of your tasks and next actions planned provides peace of mind and the process itself can feel very rewarding, but avoid complacency. There’s a fine line between knowing exactly what you need to do next and knowing exactly what you’re not doing. Also, the daily review process is critical to your success. Review your task lists and @Waiting emails and request responses and updates as required to maintain momentum.

Remember: “What’s the next action?” is the key question to ask and answer throughout the day and if you’re not delegating or deferring the next action, you’re doing it.

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Note: Getting Things Done and GTD are registered trademarks of The David Allen Company and my recommendations are not endorsed by The David Allen Company.


Podcast recommendation:
Back to Work hosted by Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin. This show has helped me in countless ways, go start with episode #1.