2014 New Years Resolutions

Twenty fourteen is upon us.

2014

A new year. A new start. A new list of possibilities. A whole new box of stuff that can make life increasingly difficult… etc… etc… etc.

Because of this arbitrary point in time that we as humans choose to observe, I too have come up with a list of things that I resolve to change this year. I’ve had decent success in the past with resolutions, but I feel that this years list will be bigger than most years in the past. I’m looking at some fairly hefty stuff to put on the plate for the upcoming 525,949 minutes of my life.

I won’t sit and rant about it yet. Instead, I’ll provide you with the list and we will work from there. After you read the paltry (HA!) list, keep reading for the rants you have come to love so much.

I present you with my 2014 New Years Resolutions…

resolutions

STUFF GAREN RESOLVES TO DO

1. Lose Weight (Down to 160lbs)

2. Quit Smoking

3. Keep my Kitchen Clean

4. Promote at Work

Well, the list is short enough. That’s only four (4) things really. Anyone can do 4 things… right?!

However, if we really look at these four things, they are pretty big. So, as promised, here is the associated rant.

1. Lose Weight

lose weight

I currently weigh in at 182lbs. (82.3kg) I’m not fat by any means, but I’m surely not where I want to be. When I joined the US Coast Guard 11 years ago, I weighed in at 145lbs and I was pretty happy with my size. Over the years of driving a desk and enjoying the edibles that my paycheck (and Taco Bell) has provided me, I ballooned up to 199.5lbs. Over the course of the last year however, I have lost a little bit of weight and was able to pull myself down to my fluffy 182. Having learned what is involved, and what is required to continue losing weight, I feel that it’s a reasonable goal to get down to 160lbs by the end of the year. Hell, if I really work at it, I could be there in as little as 3 months. But hey, no point in almost dying just to look like I stud. (Hint: I always look like a stud!)

2. Quit Smoking

Quit SmokingAt the beginning of 2013, I was smoking upwards of a pack a day (Menthols! WOO!) and had no real intention of putting out the effort to quit. I wanted to quit, don’t misunderstand, but the work required was a little too brutal for my tastes. A lot of things have happened in the last 12 months that have made things interesting on the smoking front. But over the last few months, things have finally lined up that I think I have a real chance of fixing this little problem of mine. From Vaporizers that cut out the smoke, to a lovely wife who is supporting the efforts of her own accord, I believe that I have a real chance at this. Knock it all you want, but I’m going to at least try. After all, I get a rise out of proving other people wrong. So let’s see what happens… shall we?

3. Keep my Kitchen Clean

clean kitchenYeah, I have NO idea how I’m going to pull this one off. Honestly, with the other three people in the house contributing to the mess like it’s a life goal to keep me from having a clean kitchen for more than 18 minutes, I’m going to have to come up with something that works better than what I’ve been doing. I’m thinking a Taser and a Baseball bat might be effective in this endeavor.

4. Promote at work

anchorThere is only so much that I can do to increase my odds of promoting at work. I can keep being a rock star and getting awesome employee reviews, and I can study. That’s really about it. Honestly, I know I can do the first part, and as much as I hate the second part, I’m pretty sure that I can do that too. It’s just going to take time.

Time… yeah…. that’s a precious resource I don’t have enough of.

This might be trickier than I thought.

Either way, that’s my plan. What’s yours?

So, tell me what you think in the comments section below, I’ll consider writing a post if the comments carry enough weight.

Cheers

-R.H.

My blood runs cold at the utterance of these words…

I have learned over the years that there are certain combinations of words that you just don’t want to hear from your children as a parent. I haven’t heard ALL of these yet, but I know I don’t want to hear them.

Examples:

-Would you like to see my piercing?

-Mom, Dad… I got her pregnant.

-I know I’m only 13 daddy, but Snake and I are in love!

-Where do we keep the fire extinguisher?

-I think someone pooped in the bathtub.

Most of these things are fairly stereotypical. You hear about them in movies. But of all the things you could hear (Either fake or real) the one that stops me in my tracks the fastest is this…

“Dad, What’s for dinner?”

CRAP! I have no flippin clue. It’s only four thir…… DOUBLE CRAP! It’s almost SIX.

Mom’s not home to yell at me to make something which means I’m on my own here. This isn’t that big of a deal since I do the cooking every night anyways. But now I have to come up with something quick, easy, and that they will ACTUALLY eat.

Might as well go paint a chapel ceiling cause’ that will be WAY easier than THIS task.

Okay, seriously, what to make for dinner.

After a quick look in the cupboard I realize I don’t have a lot of quick and easy stuff. Lots of meats and such, but not a lot that’s fast.

Suddenly, I spy the pasta.

I’m making spaghetti tonight.

spaghetti, dinner, pasta, noodle, sauce

 

Freaking SWEET! I love spaghetti, but my family hates it. Every last one of them. Seriously… how does one make it this far in their life and NOT eat spaghetti? It’s a freaking staple of civilized society for the love of Odin.

Well, I know I want spaghetti, so now I gotta figure out a way to make the kids eat it. I have garlic bread, and I know they will eat that, but that doesn’t solve my spaghetti problem.

garlic, bread, dinner, spaghetti, cheese, butter, garlic, salt, yummy

While I’m digging through the freezer looking for something that I could make other than the awesome pasta that I have running through my head, I moved around a bag of Rhoades Bread Dough. (I love that stuff).

rhodes, bread, dough, cowboy, bread

I didn’t think too much about it at the exact moment I saw it but by the time I made it upstairs, I knew what I was going to do.

Genius had struck!

Okay, before we go any further with the dinner train of thought, I need to give a short backstory.

backstory, back, story, shark, lincoln, brain, red, hair, beard

I grew up eating something called “Cowboy Bread”. That stuff was AMAZING. Deep fried bread type substance that my mom made on occasion. Apparently, my uncles wouldn’t eat elephant ears when they were kids back in the 50’s so my grandmother called it “Cowboy Bread” because my uncles were always playing cowboys and indians. My mother picked up the term and it stuck. So this amazing bread that I ate as a kid was simply re-branded fried bread dough. Simple enough, but freaking amazing with a little bit of cinnamon and sugar.

I apologize, my back stories are usually WAY WAY better than this. I might not have the commitment to that one that I should.. but meh. Whatever.

Okay, so I’m walking up the stairs from the basement and inspiration hits. Instead of calling it spaghetti, I’m calling it… uhm… canned noodles? No, they’ll figure that out. Uhm… “Super Spaghetti”?…. HA, even I’m not dumb enough to fall for that. ooohh…. I got it… “Potted Lasagna”.  (Turns out it wasn’t even a real thing yet… I might have to patent this one.)

HELLS YEAH!

So, as I’m standing in the kitchen, before I open anything, I yell to the kids…

“HEY! Who wants potted lasagna?”

Hayden: Uhm… sure.

Lillie: Okay.

Dinner is ON!

grinch, gif, mister, meme

So I make the noodles, and I throw the sauce in the pan afterwards  (which I never do) and I let the whole thing cool off a tad. I throw a little shredded cheese in the bottom of a bowl. I top it with the spaghetti and I top it with a touch more shredded cheese.

Now people, for all intents and purposes, THIS IS LASAGNA! I don’t care how you slice it… It’s freaking lasagna.

So, Lillie devoured hers in a heartbeat. Hell, she even asked for seconds. Now if I had told her that she was eating spaghetti, she would have freaked the hell out. But… this did not happen. Dinner for her was a success.

However there is the issue of Hayden. This kid is WAY smarter than I honestly give him credit for. I set that bowl down in front of him and he stopped. He looked at me and stared for a moment. Three words escaped his ever truthful lips… “This is spaghetti”.

f7u12, fffffffuuuuuuuuuuuu, rage, guy, face, meme, 4chan, reddit, comic

Well crap.

I had to poke, prod, bargain, urge, yell, plead, cry, and cajole, but I finally got the boy to eat. I dunno if I’ll be trying that one again with him any time soon. But for Lillie, it was a stellar success.

Now I gotta figure out what I’m making for dinner tomorrow.

Crap.

An open letter to my Wife and the World

It’s funny how music can be a motivator, a hinderance, or a controller of emotion.

Right now I’m underway working in my office.

I have this great playlist that has about 250+ songs on it that range from high tempo hard techno to slow loving and emotionally charged ballads. The music has driven me in many directions. And while sometimes it is merely a distraction, some of it has actually driven me to be better.

As some may know, I’ve been on my own for the last 10 months of my life. Those 10 months have been the most difficult of my life.

I have had experiences that have reduced me to tears. Brought me to the edge of the bounds of sanity. Destroyed my ability to function. And for a period of time, dragged me down into the realm of suicide.

Nearly everything in my life that is of value was removed from me by my own actions leaving me no one to blame but myself.

To anyone reading this, That is a VERY difficult pill to swallow.

Since I have been alone, a lot of things have taken place. I have learned. I have observed my mistakes and the mistakes of those around me. I have made alterations to my life, my personality, and who I am in an attempt to restore a modicum of order to my existence.

I am slated to transfer from my current unit within the next few months.

I have spent three years stationed at a facility that has beaten me, broken my will, and destroyed my faith in the service to which I have toiled for the last 10 years of my life. I was, and sometimes still am, in the position where I don’t even know if holding on to this job is worth the stress.

I look forward to the day that I walk across the brow of this ship for the last time, never to return. Only to turn back one final time to flip the bird and dust my feet. I have plans for getting away from this three year disaster that has made up the most recent chapter of my life.

The plans I speak of are simple. But because of the pain, the suffering, the lonliness, and the constant heartache that I have suffered, I will execute these plans with such vehement passion that you would not recognize it as coming from the man writing these words.

I am moving across the country. 2034 miles from here.

I will rent me a home with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and off street parking.

I will have my lovely wife Andrea by my side. My two Children Hayden and Lillie will be there as well.

I will work my required 8 to 4 shift each day. Traveling as required.

I will ensure that two Fridays each month my lovely wife will have the uninterrupted hours dedicated to a night out as a couple.

I will ensure that my children have the time each night dedicated to them as people instead of wasting my time on a computer.

My kids will be read a story each night at bedtime. They will be tucked in, kissed on the forehead, and told that they are loved.

My eternal companion, my spouse, my lover, my wife… Andrea will receive her nightly foot rub as I did each night when we were still together. She will get her backrub as often as she desires just as I did for her before.

Each time I have the opportunity to do so, I will tell her that I love her. I will not only show her through my usual deeds of cooking, cleaning, and watching the kids, but I will buy her flowers. I will get her little gifts just because I was thinking of her.

Weekends will be dedicated to taking the kids to a park, a movie, or just playing on the beach.

As I have done for the last 10 months, the “noise” that only my wife knows of has ceased, and it will continue to stay that way.

I am a horrible person as judged by my history.

No sane person would consider associating themselves with me if they knew of my personal atrocities.

I am dedicated to resolving my personal failings.

I am committed to exceeding the expectations laid out by my loved ones.

I am committed to being the best Father, Husband, Lover, Spouse, Companion, and Friend that I can be.

While some involved are apprehensive, I have too much riding on the line to fail.

If I have learned anything in the last 10 months of my life, I have learned that I can succeed.

Now… I just have to show the right people so that they can judge for themselves.

My wife made a comment on the 4th of July back in 2011. She told me to find out what makes me happy. To find what I enjoy in life and to seize it.

I did.

I figured it out.

It’s kind of funny how you can find contentment in life with the things that make you happy, but still know that there is that last piece that makes the good things even better.

My name is Garen Anderson.

I am going to retrieve my family.

We are moving to Oregon where I will fill my role as Father and Husband.

I fucked up!

I’m fixing it.

God as my witness!

Picture Tagging: You’re doing it wrong! (Google Juice)

If you are here trying to figure out how to get more hits on your blog, then you came to the right place. Keep reading.

GOOGLE JUICE: The stuff you pour on your blog to make it show up on google!

google, juice, seo, more, blog, hits, meta, tags, rage, face, comic, wordpress, blogger,

So, I write a blog.

I enjoy writing, it makes me smile.

Recently I did a post based on the cheapest drug an internet junkie can get. I talked about page hits and getting people to actually click on the links and read the site. I hadn’t figured out how to actually get people to this place.

Well, while I was on the phone with my amazing wife Andrea recently, and I was saying how I was SO excited that I got 21 hits in one day one time.

I know what you are thinking, “Garen, 21 hits is LAME!” and you are right, 21 hits IS lame. She told me that she was getting upwards of 60 hits off of a single post each day on something she hasn’t written about in months. I wondered how the hell she was pulling this off. After talking to her a bit, she explained that I had to put information in to my meta tags for the pictures themselves.

So, after a bit of playing around I figured out how to add my tags. I went back and filled in the tags on a half dozen posts and suddenly, within actual MINUTES, I was getting hits on the site. I was very impressed. Something so simple and it was generating interest in what I was writing. Well, actually, it wasn’t generating interest, it was actually just letting people find me a little easier.

So, how do you tag your pictures so that you can get more hits?

What You Don’t Know About Your WordPress Title Tag

When you upload a picture to your WordPress site the uploaded picture automatically is given the same title as the one you gave the file in your computer.

Showing the photo upload window in WordPress, arrow points to the sections labeled 'Title', success, baby, how, to get, more, hits, on your, blog, easy, quick, free

This of course means you optimized the picture file title from ’249384.jpg’ to ‘freds_fine_fish.jpg’ before you uploaded the photo to your website.

For a lot of you, the next step from there is to select the size and placement of the photo and move on.  No more optimizing work to be done here.  Picture title optimized.  Success.

Wrong.

What you may not have realized is that in WordPress, the option in the photo editor that is red starred as required, is not where you optimize your pictures.

Nope.  To optimize your pictures for maximum search engine goodness, you want to be sure you’ve entered your keywords into the second selection labeled ‘Alternate Text’.  That’s right, the spot that sports the red star, while required by WordPress, doesn’t actually do much for optimizing your website photos.  That second line, that’s where your google juice is.

So there you have it. That’s how it’s done.

Go back, fill in your tags, and you’ll be good. Instant fame, success, and a new car in the garage*

(*Fame, success, and new car not guaranteed)

Holler if you wanna see something posted here, maybe click the follow the blog button. Possibly share whats going on here on reddit. It could be a good thing.

-Garen

Whitney Houston was NOT a saint!

Okay, I got it. Whitney Houston is dead.

That’s a bummer. I know she had a nice voice. I know she did a little acting. And I know that she had a troubled life.

Drugs.

Booze.

Abusive relationships.

Honestly though, a good deal of her problems were her own fault. I’m sorry, but just because someone was famous does NOT mean they get instant saint status just because they died. New Jersey is flying flags at half mast because she died.

I’m sorry, druggies don’t get my condolances.

I know it’s harsh bust seriously… She’s dead. Deal with it.

 

Thank you Ned.

 

-Garen

The first step to case modding. (Case Modding 101)

So, most people that are in to gaming on their computers know what a case mod is.

You buy a stock case.

101, basics, bill, bleeds, blowhole, case,casemod, dremel, easy, first, handles, how, how-to, jigsaw, job, list, mod, modding, monstermawd, owen, paint, paintjob, pc, plunge, pre, pre-mod, simple, to, tools, tutorial, video, window, school, gaming, gamer, game, LAN, party, lan-party

You punch a window in the side.

101, basics, bill, bleeds, blowhole, case,casemod, dremel, easy, first, handles, how, how-to, jigsaw, job, list, mod, modding, monstermawd, owen, paint, paintjob, pc, plunge, pre, pre-mod, simple, to, tools, tutorial, video, window, school, gaming, gamer, game, LAN, party, lan-party

Maybe a blowhole for the top.

101, basics, bill, bleeds, blowhole, case,casemod, dremel, easy, first, handles, how, how-to, jigsaw, job, list, mod, modding, monstermawd, owen, paint, paintjob, pc, plunge, pre, pre-mod, simple, to, tools, tutorial, video, window, school, gaming, gamer, game, LAN, party, lan-party

Possibly a custom paint job.

101, basics, bill, bleeds, blowhole, case,casemod, dremel, easy, first, handles, how, how-to, jigsaw, job, list, mod, modding, monstermawd, owen, paint, paintjob, pc, plunge, pre, pre-mod, simple, to, tools, tutorial, video, window, school, gaming, gamer, game, LAN, party, lan-party

Stuff it full of amazing components.

And go.

Well, I had always been interested in case modding. I looked at it with a wonder and an awe that I can’t really quite explain. I loved the way cases looked when they were all fancy with all of the fun little trinkets that a case could contain.

My big problem is I had no skill to do such wonderful work. Or at least this is what I told myself. So, because of this, I found myself purchasing pre-modded cases.

101, basics, bill, bleeds, blowhole, case,casemod, dremel, easy, first, handles, how, how-to, jigsaw, job, list, mod, modding, monstermawd, owen, paint, paintjob, pc, plunge, pre, pre-mod, simple, to, tools, tutorial, video, window, school, gaming, gamer, game, LAN, party, lan-party

They look okay, in fact, some of them even look downright awesome, but you are aware that you have the same case as hundreds or even thousands of other people out there.

For some people, this is okay. For others, this might be considered partially unacceptable.

Well, after  years of owning pre-mods, of using bland cases, and of using computer cases that were pleasing to the eye but still plain, I decided I finally wanted to go a little bigger and do my own mod.

My first mod.

101, basics, bill, bleeds, blowhole, case, casemod, dremel, easy, first, handles, how, how-to, jigsaw, Job, list, mod, modding, monstermawd, owen, paint, paintjob, pc, plunge, pre, pre-mod, simple, to, tools, tutorial, video, window

In fact, I posted pictures of the results recently. It turned out quite nicely.

Well, the point of this post is to actually encourage you to take that first step.

I started by purchasing a coolermaster Elite 343 for my new computer. It’s a great case. Pleasing to the eye, small enough to tote around, but big enough to hold all of my components nicely. I was happy with the initial case. But I was curious so I started digging around and I found that there are many resources online for case modders. Many videos. Many tutorials. Many places to get good information for taking that all important first leap into the world of actually cutting holes in a $50 piece of steel.

I’ve decided to take a handful of them and put them here. I have also decided to take a few short lists and post them here so you have an idea of what you need to purchase if you want to make your life while modding considerably easier.

So, without further ado, I offer a list, a string of videos, and some verbal encouragement. With a little luck, a little willingness to try new things, and a little bravery that causes you to pick up a jigsaw, you can have something that just screams your name.

Here we go.

The Tools

The following is a list of tools that will make your adventure in modding WAY easier. Not all are required, but all are useful.

-Safety Glasses (REQUIRED!)

-Jigsaw with a 20tpi blade (Cuts steel)

-Handheld drill with drill bits

-Hole Saw

-A rotary tool (Dremel or some other brand)

-Tape Measure

-Masking Tape

-Pen/Pencil

-Hand files

-Handheld rivet gun

-Screwdrivers (Phillips and Flathead)

See? The list of tools are all things that you most likely have sitting in your garage or basement already. Even if you don’t, I think the rotary tool is the most expensive one. Do you have friends? Do any of them have any of these tools? Might you be able to borrow a tool? Possibly bring them over with their tools to help you cut up your fantastic case? Just a few things to consider.

The Mod List

Okay, so there are a number of mods that someone can do to their computer. I offer you the following four suggestions that are super simple. Deceptively good looking. And while they have been done to death, are a GREAT place to start modding. I give them to you in the order of difficulty.

-Case Handles (Four drilled holes. That’s it!)

-Blowhole (Five drilled holes, and 10 to 15 minutes with a rotary tool)

-Case Window (One drilled hole and 20 minutes with a jigsaw)

-Painted Case (3 hours with a can of spray paint)

See, this list is short, but it offers up some great ideas. Almost everyone starts with one of these four projects. Each is awesome because they give you the opportunity to do things how you want to do them in a way that has your own personality and style to them.

Since I do enjoy writing, but I am also notoriously lazy, I am going to post a few links to help you with these projects. While I could explain them in depth and detail, the videos that I am going to share do a much better job since you can actually SEE what you are doing or what is going on.

Lets look at our first mod…

CASE HANDLES

See, this is super simple. Now, you don’t have to purchase your handles from MNPCTech.com if you don’t want to. Believe it or not, I bought mine at walmart out of a clearance aisle. Just look wherever someplace sells drawer handles or gate handles. Simple.

Case handles are the easiest mod you can do to your computer.

Okay, next one…

CASE BLOWHOLE

Case blowholes can be done on the side or the top of a case. While I did my blowhole up top, the video below will instruct you how to do a blowhole on the side.

Again, SIMPLE! It’s not hard at all to do these simple mods.

Okay, so you have handles now. You have a possible blowhole on your computer, be it in the side of the case or on the top of the case. That’s awesome. BUT, how can we go a little bigger?

Well, lets move on to mod number 3.

CASE WINDOW

With a single drilled hole, and a jigsaw (Or a dremel if you feel so inclined), you are about to put a window on the side of the computer. Now, the acrylic (Plexiglass) that they use is available at most any walmart or home improvement store. Home Depot has the perfect size for about $3.00.

But, I digress, on to the video.

… All I can say is that wasn’t hard at all. No, NOT hard. I did this recently even, do you want to know how my case turned out? AMAZING! Straight edges, smooth after I took a file and sandpaper to them, and after putting in the channel edging, it looked smokin’.

But, this leads me to mod number 4.

CASE PAINTING

I like red, blue, green, black, and a handful of other colors. But, my case, while it was black, just didn’t “pop” the way I wanted. So, this is what I decided to do. Icebreaker red.

Well, I thought to myself, I’m not good with a can of spraypaint… is there a way I can learn?

heh…. yes. Yes there is.

Now, I listed tools, I listed some videos, but now I’m going to talk about something that is just as important as the basics I posted above.

TAKING THE PLUNGE

Case modding is an amazing hobby. There are SO many things that you can do. The only limit is honestly your imagination. Recently, I mounted speakers in to my case so I didn’t have to lug speakers around to places with me. I thought that was pretty awesome.

I’m considering mounting a monitor to my case on a swing arm right now. Possibly putting in storage space for a keyboard and mouse. I don’t know. But, regardless, this is what I am enjoying doing right now.

So, this is what I want to say to you as you read this.

Case modding is not hard!

It really isn’t. It’s fun. Sure, we all make little mistakes. But honestly, that is half the fun of learning the hobby. Taking that first step to put a drillbit to the steel was the hardest part of the process.

As I stood in my basement with a fully dissasembled, BRAND NEW, computer case before me, I had my drill in hand and was nervous.

My lines were drawn, my cuts were figured out, and my first hole was ready. I put the bit to the steel, pulled the trigger, and at that point, I was committed. I don’t have skill when it comes to things like this. In fact, I often half-ass them. But I found that once the drill hole was in, I was in for the long haul. I pulled out the drillbit, plunged my jigsaw in to the opening, and pulled the trigger. I haven’t looked back since.

I know the material from the videos and the blogs. I knew that if I followed the lines on the case, or used a piece of wood as a guiding edge for my saw that I could cut a straight line. Once I made that fourth straight line and the plate of steel fell from the case and tinkled to the floor, I knew that ground had been broken.

This wasn ‘t hard. This was fun.

5 minutes with a file to get rid of a sharp edge and I suddenly had a place to put my newly opened plexiglass.

I had modded my case.

You can to. I know you can.

Hell, if I can do it, any untrained monkey with a jigsaw can do it.

I promise you, it’s easy. Just take the plunge.

Jump in.

Mod it till it bleeds!

(On second thought, just mod it… don’t bleed. That usually requires a trip to the emergency room)

How do I do my taxes?

This is a very good question.

How do I do my taxes?

Well, considering the drop dead date of April 15th is quickly coming… if you haven’t done them yet, you might be in a bit of trouble.

Since this isn’t a “how-to” for the process, I won’t be giving an actual step by step. What I WILL be doing is telling you about my personal experiences.

I file my taxes online.

I do it through a site called TAXFREEDOM.com.

It runs off of turbo tax and they LOVE the military. I do my federal filing for free. My state filing was free. And it was QUICK.

I think my taxes took me a little less than an hour this year. Considering I got nearly $8,000 back from the federal government, I consider it a decent use of my time. The refund was in my grubby little hands 4 days after hitting submit. I couldn’t honestly ask for a better tax return experience.

They hold on to my records from the last 10 years of filing with them, and I can access my information at ANY time.

It’s pretty cool.

Remember kids… thats http://www.taxfreedom.com

 

-Garen