Equipment Reviews

I have a love for computer hardware.

That means components as well as the outside cases.

Women tend to love shoes, purses, and things that sine. Well, that’s been my experience at least. (No offense is intended, I’m trying to prove a point)

Me? I like backpacks and computer cases. My wife says that  I use my backpack and my computer to define myself. While that seems like a silly thing to say, I think she may be right.  So, because of this, I think I’ve come up with a plan.

I want to review hardware and computer cases. Hell, maybe even backpacks. But mostly, I want to review the cases.

So, I’m going to approach a few vendors and see what happens. Worst thing that can happen is that they’ll say no.



I’m not addicted… I can quit any time Iwant

Addictions are a funny thing. I know for a fact that Ihave been suject to my own over that last few years.

-I’m a smoker who is trying to quit.
-I played World of Warcraft for about nine (9) years.
-I eat compulsively based on my surroundings.
-I don’t drink anymore, but when I did, Icould have been considered a temporary alcoholic.

The problem is I have an addictive personality. Well, at least that is what people tell me. I don’t quite think that statement holds much water, but it is still what people say. It sounds like a bunch of “do what you want and have something to blame it on” kind of excuse to me.
I think the big thing that people don’t do enough is take enough personal responsibility for their actions… myself included.

So, looking at each of my addictions, Ican see that each one can be conquered by taking personal responsibility for my actions in each case. As always, I have examples.

World of Warcraft: It’s funny, I have already broken this one. I quit playing about a year ago. Before that, I had quit playing for 6 months, picked it up again for three months due to attending a remote school, and then quit again. But like I said, I have been clean for around a year. I still find myself reading on the internet, or looking at screenshots, or looking for something to do and wishing that I could be back in Azeroth. I had a good time for those 9 years that I played. There was social content, a real mental challenge, and there was always something to do. Even if you were bored, you were having fun doing it. The game itself was addictive to the point that I would play for 8 hours a day. That’s a lot of time to ignore family, children, friends, and work.
It finally came to a close when it nearly impacted my marriage with a divorce. Needless to say, I don’t play anymore. Since quitting, I spend time with my children and my wife, and I have picked up other interests such as quilting and wood working that don’t require that kind of time investment that Ihad put in.
Personal responsibility allowed me to quit.

Smoking: This is a tough one. I have been a smoker for about 7 years now. I actually regret picking it up. It’s a horrible habit. I remember telling my wife that I could quit at any time. I picked it up and hadn’t stopped until about 3 days ago. I haven’t had a real cigarette in 72 hours. It’s a small amount of time, but it’s a start. It requires me to realize that I am personally responsibile for my actions. I chose to stop… so I stopped. Crazy right?!

Drinking: I don’t like hangovers so I don’t drink. Easy enough. Not gonna beat that dead horse.

Eating: Oh boy, this is why I actually started writing this post. Backstory time.
I found myself cleaning off my wifes desk yesterday and I had picked up a potpie that my daughter had barely touched. I remembered that I was watching my caloric intake so Icouldn’t have any of this deliciously salty meat and potato pie thing. As I walked to the kitchen, I said out loud “One bite won’t hurt”.
So I took a bite.
OMG it was good.
I took a second bite.
I actually verbally said “Garen, you can’t be eating this”. And then I started to argue internally that I couldn’t stop. I needed to eat this pie. I had to eat this food or something in the cosmos would never align properly.
I found that no matter how hard I tried, I could not put that food down.
I finished the 560 calorie pot pie that tasted like shame and guilt.
Salty shame, and tangy creamy guilt.
I sit on the couch each night with my wife and we watch TV. I find that we snack the entire time. I find that we almost always have a soda in our hands.
Personal responsibility hasn’t kicked all the way in yet.
I actually feel like Iam addicted to food. Good food, bad food, crappy food… just food.
I have a problem. I know that I do. I’m fully aware of it. I just need to find a way around it.

While I have been writing this post, I have come to an interesting series of thoughts. For someone that wants to be so outspoken against the evils of fatlogic, I sure seem to be showing some. So… how do I get around it?
Good question.
I’m thinking that personal responsibility my actually come in to play.
I go back to work tomorrow after a long holiday period off. I’m not sure how it will go for me regarding food. Looks like we’ll just have to see what happens.

Wish me luck? Or something?


Daily Prompt: Beyond the Pale

Daily Prompt: Beyond the Pale.

When was the last time I did something new?

Holy crap… that’s a tough question.

I mean, I do little new things all the time. I play new games. I try new recipes. I even try new exercises. But as for something completely new? That’s a rough one.

I know that most of the Daily Prompt posts are usually short. People write them in an effort to dig up support from the community, a half hearted attempt to get more viewers, subscribers, and regular readers. The unfortunate part of all of that is that it is exactly what I said… Half-Hearted.

So, I figure that while the topic is bland, I’ll give it some real effort and come up with something substantial to write about.


The last big thing that I tried that was new was working out for the purpose of losing weight.

sure, I had tried to lose weight in the past but it always consisted of just getting rid of soda in my diet. That was a big deal because I was killing off easily three liters or cola in a 24 hour period. That’s a crap ton of Beetus Juice.

I figured that I was so much heavier than I should be that I wouldn’t be able to scam my way through my semi-annual weigh-in’s at work any more. It came time to actually do something about the weight.

I was weighing in at 199lbs. For someone with my size frame, I was required to have a maximum weigh of 186. Those 15 pounds were going to cost me my job, my way of life, and possibly have very negative affects on my family. So, it was time to do something.


My wife and I went to the gym.

That seems like the right answer, doesn’t it? We bought a membership and started going each day. I would do an hour of weight lifting and she would do 30 minutes of cardio and 30 minutes of weights. This seemed to be working for us… kinda… except that we weren’t losing any weight.

*Cue the montage here*

-We went to the internet.

-We started using MyFitnessPal.

-We got our hands on Fitbits.

-We picked up some at home equipment.

-We USED the at home equipment.

-We educated ourselves.

-We eliminated any and all Fatlogic from our lives.

*End Montage*

We found that when we were controlling our caloric intake and followed the simple rule of “Calories In < Calories Out”, that losing weight became easier.

We coupled those tools of MFP and the FitBit and tracked our efforts on the home gym equipment. We were able to see exactly what we had to do in order to meet the goals to lose weight.

I started getting skinnier. My wife went from a size 24 dress to a size 18. That was huge.

We were looking and feeling great.

No excuses.  Smaller portions. A little exercise. And the idea of “It’s my thyroid” or “I have a cundishun” being eliminated from our lives ensured that we were quickly becoming healthier.

6 weeks later when I stepped on to the scale and I was weighing in at 176lbs, I was feeling freaking AWESOME! I looked good, and I could run a mile if I wanted to.

I had learned to work out to lose the weight and I have figured out how to make positive changes in my life to make myself feel better.

I have picked up the unexpected side affect of no longer having ANY pity or sympathy for people that argue about weight loss being impossible, or that they can be “Healthy at every size”, or that believe that I have some sort of “Thin-Privilege”. I call Bull-Shit on that entire fat acceptance movement.

I made the change and I’m willing to help anyone out there that wants to do the same.

Simple diet. Simple effort. And the willingness to be honest with myself is all that it took.

So, I did something new. It worked better than expected. And I couldn’t be happier with the results or more willing to help others do the same.



Twitching, Shaking, and Grumbling

It’s been 24 hours. I know that doesn’t seem like a lot, but over the last 24 hours Ihaven’t had a cigarette.
That’s a pretty big deal to me.
Sure, I’ve moved to an e-cig format. And yes, I’m still taking in nicotine, but considerably smaller amounts.
And the actual smoking of the cigarette is gone.
Most people won’t care, but for me, this is a big deal.



Mechwarrior Tactics and Killing Things With Dice!

I used to play battletech way back in the day when I was in Junior High. Those were some really awkward times. I truly enjoyed the paper mech sheets, the rolling of the dice, the weired excitedment that would be generated when someone rolled the perfect number and an opponent had to fill in a solid 20 bubbles on a piece of paper.

Thinking back on it, it was all really really dorky.

Mechs and Transformers are AWESOME!

Did someone call Optimus Prime?

Nothing was real. We all had mech sheets that looked identical except for the number of bubbles that were printed on the page. There were different types of people that played though. It brought in a varied crowd. For example…

The Rich Kid: His parents paid for the actual books with the premade mech sheets. They all looked the same, but were produced by FASA and were the “Real Thing”. Everyone knew that kid didn’t buy them himself, but he had them none the less.

The well to do smart kid: This guy had a dad who owned a laser printer. Back in 95, this was a BIG deal. He had downloaded the free software and made his own mechs and printed them out. His pages were professional looking and clean. Even though he wasn’t the rich kid, his sheets were the envy of everyone else.

The poor smart kid: This was me. I didn’t have a lot, but I wanted to make my own sheets. I found some software for creating my own mechs, but since I only had a dot matrix printer (Impact printer for you kids that don’t remember such things) and my parents didn’t have a computer with Windows (DOS 6.22), my Mech sheets were simply text with lines of “O’s”. This met the need, but was NOT considered cool.

Everyone Else: Everyone else simply photo copied the pages from the manuals and filled in the bubbles to make sure they had the right number of marks.

This seemed to work. Everyone had what they needed to play… and play we did. However, as much as I enjoyed this part of my gaming history, it really only lasted for about 6 months. People moved in, people moved out, and others didn’t want to be part of the “dorky” crowd anymore. The one girl in the group hit puberty and suddenly things got weird and she left. Yeah, really awkward, but it was fun.

Anywho, moving away from the epic backstory, there was a reason I write this post.

About a year ago, I got picked up for the Mechwarrior Tactics beta. This is pretty cool. The developer  is actually trying to build an online game the emulates the old school tabletop experience of playing battletech. From mech customization, to rolling for initiative, to utilizing line of sight to piss off that one catapult in the distance. This game actually meets the tabletop criteria quite well.

Not only are the tabletop rules being implemented awesomely, but the graphics are fairly kickass. For a game you play in your web browser, this is actually quite solid. Mind you, it’s still in beta, so there are the occasional bugs, but it’s still very well done.

Anyways, since I’m not actually qualified to offer reviews, or well thought out explanations of things, I’ll just provide you a few points that I observed and leave you, the reader, to do the actual research and come to your own opinion.

Here we go.

Combat-Graphics: Honestly, I didn’t expect graphics on a browser based game to be as good as they are. I’ve got a few mictures here of in game action that I think would explain it better than I could. Other than the reflective textures, proper lens flare, and really good models for the mechs that are capable of taking battle damage, I can’t think of anything that I would add to a game like this.

Map-Maps: Thinking back to playing the tabletop game, the paper maps that we used were very flimsy. While you could use real 3D terrain, most of use always used the paper map option. Mechwarrior Tactics utilizes the same Hex based map system while incorporating the 3D terrain function that I was unable to replicate. Again, the maps have the usual awesome graphics attached to them and let you play in a range of environments (Snow, Sand, Jungle, ETC), but still hold the look and feel of the original game.

Mechlab-Mechlab: Everyone at some point in their Battletech gaming history built a 100 ton mech loaded up with 60 machine guns. Seriously, 2 points of damage with no heat generation, that sounds freaking awesome. An alpha strike from one of those could shred anything that the mech was able to get close to. Now, to prevent people from building gunboats like that, MW:Tactics utilizes hard point systems like you saw in Mechwarrior 4. It’s actually quite flexible and doesn’t limit your ability to be creative. It’s a well done interface with plenty of customization options.

STAC-Inventory: Instead of saving your monies and buying those specific weapons you want for your long range damage dealing behemoth, the developers have taken a cue from other games such as Blizzards Hearthstone, or Magic the Gathering. They are using purchasable packs of cards called STAC’s. They contain a half dozen cards and can be purchased with real money (F2P anyone?) or with scrap that is earned in game. By collecting cards, you can increase your inventory of available equipment to build your lances of mechs. It seems to work well, and for those that get a kick out of the card mechanic (like me), it seems to work really well.

Now, if you went to the games website HERE, you can click on the media tab and look at some of the awesome screenshots and downloadable wallpapers. I’ve actually got the Cicada and the Atlas up on my dual screens right now. They are good to look at and quite well done.


I don’t know what is required to get in to the beta anymore, but it might be worth looking at if it seems like something you would be interested in. At the very least, it’s a chance to at least be kind of cool while enjoying one of the dorkiest things most of us ever saw.

By the way, have a few wallpapers. And as always, drop a comment below, and if it’s good enough, I’ll write a post on it.



Daily Prompt: Truth or Dare

Daily Prompt: Truth or Dare.

Seriously? Is it possible to be too honest?

Let’s chew on some deliciously salty food for thought, shall we?


-Yes honey, that dress DOES make your butt look big.

-Actually potential mate who happens to be a single mother, I find kids to be irritating and gross.

-No, I actually find organic food to be a supreme waste of money.

-No darling child, I love you and your siblings all the same.


Honesty is NOT always the best policy.

I’m sorry, but in my personal world view, I find that occasionally there is a time where shading the truth, omitting facts, or flat out ignoring something is going to be the best option available. No questions asked, hands down.

If we lived in a world where everyone was 100% honest 100% of the time in regards to 100% of all the things, then I believe we would find a way to cope with it. In fact, I believe it would make SOME things better.

Examples? Of course I have examples.

-ANYTHING politically charged! I’d like to see what the president had to say if he couldn’t lie for a few days.

-Courting rituals! Is this a one night stand or is he/she actually looking for love?

-Poker? Actually, this would ruin poker, but I’m sure we could come up with a new game if we tried.

-Fast food advertising! I’d like to see a poster that actually showed what a taco bell burrito looked like when they used truth to sell it.

***SIDE NOTE!***

Taco Bell burritos actually look like they are advertised. It’s everything else that doesn’t look accurate. I mean seriously, how hard is it to screw up the sale of a tortilla.

Regardless, back to the rant.


Truth is subjective to the situation where it is used in our current society. My religious roots tell me that the ability to choose… to choose right from wrong, good from evil, or truth from fiction is essential to our trial and purpose to being on this earth. Taking away ones free agency is something that would defeat the entire purpose of being here.

So… truth or dare… it’s a valid question. I choose truth simply because it is USUALLY the easiest method.

But are there times where it’s not the best option? Absolutely. It’s just up to the individual to determine when those situations arise.


*** Secondary side note!***

Darling wife: No, that dress does NOT make your butt look big.

Former Potential Mate: I do ACTUALLY like kids.

Organic Food Hippie: Sorry, Organic food IS still a scam. Sorry. And get a haircut you dirty hippie!

Loving children: I do love you equally! Sometimes I like one of you more than the other, but I LOVE you equally! (Don’t hate! I believe there is a difference between liking someone and loving someone. Deal with it!)

#365 Grateful – A clean upstairs

What am I grateful for today?


It’s not a high quality photo or anything, but it is something that makes me smile.

The upstairs of my home is clean. My awesome 10 y/o son and 6 y/o daughter did the work. What was once a scary site, is now clean and manageable.

I’m grateful for a clean upstairs.


Daily Prompt: Progress

Daily Prompt: Progress.

The question for today was “What would I like to see when I look back on my blog on 01JAN15?”.

I have a small list of things that I would like to see. Will I get them? Who knows. We’ll see what I can come up with. BUT, regardless of me getting what I want or not… here is my list.


1. 1,500 Subscribers / Followers

Seems like the biggest drug of the bloggers choice would be the number of views one can get on their blog. I’ve had a few spikes over the last few months thanks to Reddit, but nothing with any enduring value. I want to get my blog to the point where I can have a legitimate daily readership. Hell, I’d settle for weekly.


2. An actual focal point for what my blog is supposed to be about.

I’ve covered all sorts of topics here. Politics, weight loss, video games, family, religion, and even the occasional rant. The big problem is that there is no real central focus for what I write about. I want to find that I have come up with an actual thing to write about consistently.


3. At least 200 real posts.

I like the idea of writing regularly, but I want to make sure that the posts that I write have actual substance. I had the idea of providing commentary on whatever was near the top of the reddit feed for that day, but I’m not sure if that would work very well. I mean, I know that I have an ability to include sarcasm and occasionally humor in my posts, but I don’t think that copying what is already written about would be the best bet.


So, there you go.  THREE things that I would like to see in the next year when I look back on my blog.

Drop me a comment if you have any feedback on my diatribe today. If your comment rocks enough, I’ll maybe even write a post on it.




Crap, I didn’t update MyFitnessPal

The biggest problem I have found with Myfitnesspal is that I forget to input my food.
Exercise is automatically updated by way of my Fitbit Force, but Ican never seem to emember to do my ood entries.
I’m positive that others have already figured thsi out, but I’m going to state the obvious anyways.

Silent Alarms.
That’s right, silent alarms. I simply set the fitbit to buzz my wrist twice a day and that is my cue to go enter my foods.
It’s a small thing, but I figure that by taking the small step, I’ll be able to keep better control of my food tracking and thus my food intake.
Take that bathroom scale… You’re going down.