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?


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.



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



It’s Icebreaker Red

Holy Crap. It’s been a while.

I could apologize, but hey, it’s my blog. I can do what I want.

So…. here is the post.

Let me preface what I did and why.

I have never done a mod before. Today was my very first.
There were a lot of lessons learned.
There were a few mistakes.
There were a few moments where I was really glad that I have the job I have.

So, with that in mind, let me show you what I’ve been up to.

I’m in the process of building a new uITX machine and I wanted to go with a tiny case. But after a little debating, I decided to go with a Micro-ATX.

I’m cheap, so because of that, the case had to be cheap.

Enter the Cooler Master Elite 343.

343, 80mm, bill, blowhole, build, case, coolermaster, elite, engraved, firt, gawds, icebreaker, inspiration, mackinaw, mod, owen, pc, red, tape, window

This case seemed really awesome in my view. Two weeks ago when I settled on this piece of steel and plastic, I said to myself “Garen… That’s a really nice case”.
I figured since it was a nice case that I would wind up putting it on the floor by the desk and just occasionally admire its stunning rugged black beauty.

Then came Bill Owen.
I stumbled on him on the internet and suddenly I had this urge to cut holes in stuff. Paint stuff. And all round be a little more manly.
Thanks Bill… I think.

Anyways… I am in the Coast Guard and I serve on a ship.
The Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw to be specific.
See? This is my ship.

Now, being in the military give me access to all sorts of cool stuff.
Wanna install a blowhole? Great. Here is a steel knockout punch.
Wanna cut plexi? Great, here is the bandsaw.
Wanna engrave someone on that plexi? Awesome, here is the engraver.
Wanna cut a freehand hole? Perfect, here is the jigsaw.
You can see that having access to these kinds of toys can be a bit dangerous.

Anyways, you saw the picture above, I started with a fairly attractive case.
However, after watching the MonsterMawd videos, listening to the podcasts, and spending WAY too much time reading this forum, I decided on the following.

-I need a blowhole.
-I want a window. But not something gaudy.
-I need something custom that says… “Me”.
-I have to have contrasting paint colors.

I’m still figuring out what I’m going to be doing for the electronics, switches, and so forth, so those will come later… but with this list of awesome features (Simple ones to start with), I have created the following.

Notice the contrasting icebreaker red and the black? This inspiration came from the colors of my ships hull. You can see a better version of that contrast here…

But enough of the ship… back to what I built.

The blowhole is clearly visible here.

Chrome on Red looks nice if you ask me. I used a hydraulic steel knockout punch to make the 3″ hole. No sharp edges. A touch of sanding. And a perfect circle. No sparks, noise, or metal shavings to deal with.

More view of the backside and the blowhole.

A side profile shot of the case.

My cuts weren’t the straightest on the window hole. However, this was my first time. Next time I’m going to use a jig to ensure straight lines. The window is 1mm plexi. I’m going to use 1/8″ or 1/4″ next time I think.

I wasn’t able to get my hands on the 3M 4010 (Tape of the Gawds), but I was able to find the Loctite equivilent. It works well enough.

Now, if you look close, you can see that there is a little etching on the plexi. This was engraved. The symbol you are looking at is my rating designator. I am an E6 / IT1 in the Coast Guard. This is the badge that I wear on my sleeve (In dress uniform) that tells you what my job is. I figured this was the part that screamed “Me”.

Here is is a little closer.

Okay, so we have the paint, the window, the blowhole, the etching, and the tape of the demi-gawds.

Honestly, I’m happy with my work.

I don’t think I’m done with the project yet though. While the parts for the computer showed up today, and I’m writing this post on the new system, I think the case is going to receive a few more tweaks.

Handles are next.

Here is the info I’m using for that step….

I hope the read was enjoyable.


Scenes From Underway – 3

Okay, so usually I have around 8-10 pictures to post.

This time, it’s only two.

We were sailing home and came upon some fairly heavy seas. I had the midwatch so I was already tired.  However, we were taking some heavy rolls and as most of my friends and family know, I get VERY seasick. So much in fact that a few minutes in 2′-4′ rollers I start to get nauseated.

Well, for the first part of the watch, I was hunched over a trash can. The second part, the seas calmed and I had the chance to snap a picture. This is the ships inclinometer. It tells us how heavy the ship is rolling. In this case, the seas had calmed to FLAT. However, this device is still one of the many pieces of gear on board that taunts me.

What you are seeing here is a Cuttermans pin. It is worn on various uniforms and in various different capacities as a uniform item. In this case, it is attached to a Dress Blue Jacket with ribbons. I honestly never though I would wear one of these pins, but today I received my temporary cutterman designation. I’m VERY excited.

It was placed on my jacket and now sits there as another piece of bling that I’m allowed to wear while on board.

Woo! Go me.


I’ll snap a few more photos next time we get underway.


Scenes from Underway – 2

Again, we know that life underway is different than anything else that can be experienced, so I bring you the following.
A few pictures depicting scenes from underway.

Here we have two of my shipmates standing outside the skin of the ship. We were departing from St. Ignace. If you were to judge by the light you would think it was twilight, when in reality it was only 10:00am. While outside, they were enjoying a quick smoke break. The opportunity to get a few minutes to ones self is valuable on a ship.

The flag as it is draped from the flagstaff on the fan tail. There was no wind that morning. A light dusting of snow had already made itself known since colors were posted that morning. Nothing overly fancy, I just thought it was a nice picture.
Quiet moments are worth noticing when you realize that you hear the diesel engines 24/7 on board.

Here we have an Electronics Technician pulling some cable. I believe he was installing some new CCTV cameras, but I’m not positive. The work that each person on board does is very specific to their training and abilities. Being an ET, this shipmate is good with cameras, radios, radars, and other fancy mechanical gizmos.
Work carries on regardless of the time of day. In this case, it was late afternoon and he was rushing to finish before heading off to watch.

In preperation for an Admirals visit, it was all hands on deck commencing a Field Day. For those not in the know, a field day is where we clean every last surface on the ship. Considering all of the wires in those overheads, that’s a LOT of surfaces. PO Poppink is diligently operating a swab in this great photo. Due to the small crew size on Mackinaw, everyone from the lowest grunt up to the senior enlisted guys will be involved in shipwide cleaning.

This is another photo from the field day that was going on before Admiral Parks came to visit. Two of our cooks were working on the messdeck to make sure it was ready. There was horeseplay involved for sure, but they were still working. From cleaning stainless steel, to making sure the china was ready, to even going as far as to clean under the soda syrup boxes inside a cabinet, they were making sure their spaces were ready. Any time we have a flag officer coming aboard, there will be an all hands evolution to get the ship ready.

After a few days underway, hiding from some weather, a day or so anchored out somewhere, and plenty of steaming south, we finally arrived in Cleveland. It was actually really nice while we were there. 43 degrees in the middle of January is unheard of. I can’t complain about the good weather really. We had moored at the Port Authority in Cleveland just next to the Browns stadium. We were close enough to hit it with a rock if we really tried.

Recors (Pronounced Recourse) power plant. During the winter, this is one of our homes away from home. Half way down the St. Claire river from Port Huron, this place had a deep enough moorage that we will pull in at night and prep to be underway the next morning for additional ice breaking. Considering how mild this winter has been so far, we don’t have any ice to be breaking right now. I’m not complaining mind you, but it’s mildly frustrating when our purpose for being out here is stalled by a lack of ice.

The majority of the work we’re doing is weather based so we can’t really predict what we’re going to be doing. Either way, we are still out here. We’re still doing the patrols. We’re still ensuring public safety.
I love what I do, and while being on a ship is hard, it’s rewarding.
As usual, I hope these simple photos give a glimpse into life underway.


Two SIMPLE ways to grow.

as, dale carnegie, Download, Free, friends, influence, james allen, jell o, leadership, man, management, other, PDF, people, positive attitude, simple, steps, thinketh, win

Leadership is one of those things that can’t rally be handed to you in a few short steps.

It has to be grown. It has to be clutivated. You have to pay attention to what you are doing under a very broad set of guidelines in order to improve, and it isn’t something where the same method will work in all cases. It’s like trying to nail jello to a wall. You can’t really do it effectivly unless you have purchased a Jell-o brand Wall Nailer.

I’m kidding about the wall nailer, but I’m serious about the rest. Leadership, to those that aren’t involved regularly, is a very difficult thing to grasp. I am currently trying to grasp it myself. I have a basic understanding of what is asked of me, but being able to put actions in to practice has been proving difficult. The big spot where I have been failing is caused by me not knowing what actions I have to actually put in to practice.

As with so many other things in my life, the answer was handed to me by my father some years back.

Two books were handed to me as a child.

As a Man Thinketh by James Allen


How to Win Friends and Influence Other People by Dale Carnegie

(You can click the titles for their Wiki Links, also available for PDF download at the end of this post.)

These two books, for at least a little while after I read them (thanks to my ADD), change my life. They teach me how to deal with people. How to lead. How to be sincere. How to have the positive attitude required for success in a world that prefers to destroy people.

From self actualization as put out by James Allen, to the finer points of making anyone like you, winning ANY argument, and getting people to do what you want and making them think it’s their idea as coming from Dale Carnegie… These books are AMAZING!

I’ll be frank, they are a great toilet read. If you’re sitting in the bathroom, read a chapter. Sitting in the car, read a chapter. Sitting in church and the sermon is bland and you can’t pay attention, read As a man thinketh.  You don’t have to devote weeks on end to these great works of literary management. A minute here, two minutes there, and every time you read you WILL learn something.

I can’t stress it enough how good these two books are.

In fact, since I’m sure you would enjoy them, I’ve taken the liberty of linking to their online (and downloadable) PDF versions so that you can actually see and read what I’m talking about.

Not just exceprts, but the whole thing.

Read them. Print them if you want. Just take a look.

I promise you won’t be dissapointed.

Oh, and since I said I would provide them, here are the links to the full books.

AS A MAN THINKETH by James Allen [download]


Professionalism and Growth

I recently had a counseling session with three of my supervisors who discussed professional development with me.
I was told that while I am an excellent technician, and am wonderful in the leadership role that I am currently filling, I still lacked the required leadership skills needed to advance to the next level of responsibility.

while I pondered on this decision, I came to conclude that they may be right. People will always rise to their own level of incompetence. You will advance to the point that you can’t advance any further without looking like a fool.
I have advanced as far as I can without making drastic changes to my styles of leadership and management.
So, because of this, I am currently working on improving my personal leadership and management attitudes.

Facebook is a plaything and occasionally a tool. I became aware that if I am going to lead people, then I need to be viewed as a leader. My personal life, my comments, stupidity, concerns, and private issues need to stay just that… Private. Because of this, my facebook does not have any ‘friends’ whom I work with. It’s nothing personal, just business.

Proper respect is key as well. If I want people to respect me as a leader, then I need to act as if I am to be respected. Looking out for my people, not acting childish around those that are supposed to respect me, and not acting worse than those that I am supposed to be governing.

Looking the part is also just as important I have realized. If I don’t have a clean shirt and buffed shoes on myself, then how can I expect that from others? Lead from the front.

Now, while I have these conclusions, and a handful of others, I am also aware that this is not the first time I have been in this spot. I was in the exact same situation nearly 4 years ago. while I was dealing with that, I came to develop a few personal sayings as well as work with some sayings that were passed to me by my father Kent Anderson. Because they have affected me in such a positive way, I’ll share them with you here.

1. Trust your people to do the job that they were trained to do. -Garen Anderson
I believe this statement because most of the people in my field have received the same training that I have received. They know just as much as I do. As a technician, the general thought is that if something isn’t going how YOU want it to go, then shove them out of the way and do it yourself. A leader delegates, not operates. Let them put their training to work.

2. Nothing in life is worth getting mad about.
Sure, you need to be concerned about things. Sure you need to make things get done. But is it worth getting mad about? Will it really make a difference in 20 years? Most likely your being mad does more harm than good. Just take a deep breath and you’ll be fine. Relax a little bit.

3. Nothing in life is worth stressing. If you can’t do something about it, then why are you stressing it? If you CAN do something about it, then do it… then stop stressing it.
Honestly, this one is fairly self explainatory. If you can’t do anything about it, stop worrying. If you can, then do it. And THEN stop worrying.

So there you go. Three small pieces of advice. Just remember what they say about advice. It’s worth exactly as much as you paid for it. Last I checked, this was free.

Scenes from Underway – 1

Life underway creates some interesting experiences.

You see some things that just can’t really be captured unless you are there.

Let’s see if we can try though.


While working in the warehouse prior to getting underway, we found the rolling bottom to a garbage can.

We weren’t quite sure what we wanted to do with it, so being the awesomely immature people that we are, my shipmate and I decided that the best use for such a thing would be to roll around on the floor like a skateboard with it. Marks in saftey? Threes!


I was standing watch in Main Control during some drills a few weeks back. I was monitoring some equipment on the CCTV system and I had noticed the the majority of the crew had mustered on the pier. I figured I’d get a snapshot of the ordeal.

Usually both screens look like the one on the right, but in this case I wanted to see a better view of the crew. That’s a lot of screens to monitor at any given time.


I had just walked back in to the ship from the fantail recently. It was cold. It was windy. I was getting a little seasick (read VERY seasick!) and I was looking forward to going down to the messdeck for some crackers. After closing the door behind me and taking off my hat I turned around to see this. It’s a closed hatch with a closed scuttle. For the record, I hate scuttles. I sighed quite heavily, turned around and went back outside to find a different door into the ship that didn’t require me to open a scuttle. FWIW…Totally worth going back into the cold.


We were underway near Mackinaw Island the other day. It was cold (20 degrees), there was a strong 25kt wind, and it was cloudy as hell. While we were out there the deck was starting to accumulate some lake effect snow. The Island was visible in the distance. I was out there a few months back during the summer while it was green and covered in trees and grass. But now, it’s just snow, cold, grey, and hibernating waiting for the spring to come back.



I came in one morning getting ready for a duty day and this was the scene that I found. The Cutter Alder was tied up next to the Mackinaw. They had been there overnight and were getting ready to get underway. We are bigger than the Alder by a good 15 feet (Doesn’t seem like much on the outside) and we have been tied up with them once or twice in the past. It never ceases to amaze me though to see two ships of this size tied up together. You don’t get to see it very often though so I guess that makes sense.


Frigid weather, high winds, and a mooring evolution. This shot shows a few members of the crew putting heaving lines over to the pier and being involved in the mooring of the ship. Considering the weather and conditions involved in that particular evolution, this was a hairy one. They are highly skilled though so it went flawlessly, just like it always does.



So, that’s it for this entry. These are a few scenes from underway on the Mackinaw.