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.

30 Day Blog Challenge – Day 6

Okay, day 6 states that I have to post a picture of somethign that makes me happy.

I looked at that challenge and said, “This is simple. BAM! A picture of Andrea”.

 

But I realized that this is what I ALWAYS do. No, not this time.

As much as I LOVE and adore my wife and children, this time this will be about something other than my family that makes me smile. Don’t get me wrong, my family makes me happier than most anything on this earth, but since we assume that this is a given, we’ll move on to the next best option.

 What you are seeing here is a rendered version of a scene from Descent. Now, it isn’t this game in particular that I want to write about. The shot is more of an analogy. Maybe a metaphor. Possibly some other word that says it means something other than it looks like. I forget, but that’s not important.

The thing I’m trying to represent here is video games in general. I play them. I enjoy them. Some of them make me smile. Some piss me off. Some make me think. Some I just like to look at. Others I am finally begining to play.

There is so much of my life that has been affected by video games.

I have a few that top my list of favorites and those I believe I will point out in the future.

Well, it’s TECHNICALLY the future now from when you read those last lines, so I guess I’ll tell you about them now.

GAREN’S TOP xx FAVORITE VIDEO GAMES

 

5. Super Mario Bros. series on NES

I spent way too many summers playing this bugger. Be it with or without cheats, I enjoyed it. I played with my brothers and sisters in nearly every house I lived in growing up. This is the epitome of nostalgia in my book. LOVE IT!

4. Metroid

Metroid is one of those games where I love the premise of the game. I love the physics. I love the controls. I love the exploration and the ability to wind up in some really strange places…. but…. I never beat the game. Hell, in all reality, this game scares the ever living daylights out of me. Dunno why. But it’s still one of my favs.

3. Tribes

“Trust me, I work at Gamestop”. Worst words ever to hear. Best game that could have ever been suggested by that guy. I still think he was a tool though.

2. Warcraft Series

From RTS, to point and click, to MMO… The warcraft and Starcraft universes  make me smile. I love the lore. the storylines. the graphics. the ideas behind the game. And hey, Jaina is kinda hot. LOL. Regardless, with the amount of time invested in this series, it’s up there in the top 5 for a reason.

1. Descent

I played descent for way too many years. I still pick it up from time to time even. The game makes me sick to play. It’s scary at times. And no one I know plays because they were never able to get ansy good at it. Let’s not forget though, I have the super power known as ADD, so a lot of things like this I wind up being really good at. Take battletech for example. I’m CRAZY GOOD at that game.

But that isn’t the point. The point is that I enjoy video games, and some board games. And it is those forms of entertainment that give me the opportunity to escape the real world for a little bit, enjoy some time either alone or with others, and let my imagination run wild.

So, what is it that makes me happy? (Other than my family which is my true #1)

Video games.

Sorry, it’s true

 

-G

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.

I can do the impossible with nothing and deliver it yesterday. Honest!

Contact the University of Arizona. I want in on their flexible screen prototype testing.

I need you to learn to code so you can write me an extensive tablet interface for information keeping purposes.

I want you to come up with something that will decode human speech over the radio and put it in to text on a screen.

I need you to design a computer interface that will cut training intensive quall time down from 6 months to 6 weeks.

I need you to create a system of trouble tickets that will automatically track work and report to me daily with their progress.

 

This is just a small list of the things I have been asked to do recently.

 

I’m an IT1 in the Cost Guard. I don’t have the training to do most of this crap.

Seriously, half of this would require a team of 8 software engineers with a 3 million dollar budget and a 2 year timeline to even come close to what you are asking for. And I’m just one of two minimally trained grunts who resets e-mail passwords for a living. Do you have ANY idea what you are asking for here? Any idea at all?

Now, I consider myself to be fairly resourceful, and fairly intelligent. (Quiet in the peanut gallery. I don’t need your input here.) I can be handed a project and do my absolute best to make sure I can give you what you want. In fact, I have made some decent progress in each of the above venues. But seriously, this is a little out of my job description, paygrade, and expertise range.

I like being challenged as much as the next guy. In fact, I do my best to make sure I have some sort of a challenge each day, but really?!?!

Oh, and for what it’s worth, the Computerized interface for cutting quall times? I totally pulled that one off!

Hells yeah. It’s awesome. You should see it.

The buttons… they almost press themselves.

Being stationed on the Mackinaw has been an adventure that I’m not sure I would relive if I had a choice. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do. I enjoy my job. There is satisfaction to be found that I haven’t found anywhere else. I have job security. I have good pay. I have a wonderful home in a beautiful town with a large lawn. Honestly, I want for nothing here. But, this billet has been filled with ups, downs, bigger downs, and the occasional down that has posed as an up. Really, it has been a bit of a roller coaster ride.

Until recently.

Honestly, the opener to this post has nothing to do with the post itself. I guess I was just looking for something that I could write that would have a little detail to it and give some insight to my recent triumph. But really, the story has nothing to do with the following.

Kinda.

I’m an engineer on the ship. And Engineer of the Watch, or EOW. I don’t work on the engines or the mechanical equipment, but I do monitor them for 4 hours at a time while I stand watch underway.

The process for becoming an EOW usually takes anywhere from 3 to 9 months. In my case, it took 2 years.

Now, before you decide to jump my case and give me a hard time for that, there are a few reasons it took so long and to make the long story short, I’m going to simply say that in the beginning it was my fault, but at the end it wasn’t. And I’m sticking to that.

Anywho, it’s a long qualification process. You are required to learn tons of information. Get 250 different signatures for sign offs, and sit through a large number of drills and an oral board.

The problem that I saw when I first reported aboard was that the information I was required to know was nowhere to be found. You could ask people and they might know one or two of the parameters. Another person might be able to show you how to reset a system. And the rest would simply say “I had to look it up, you can to.” Frankly, that attitude sucked. I didn’t like dealing with it. No one was willing to help someone that was supposedly a “shipmate”. You would think that helping someone get qualified would help your personal duty rotation. Make it better. Give you more time at home. Etc.

Here? Not so much.

So, for two solid years, I fought, kicked, screamed, studied, tore through manuals, wrote study information for myself, and compiled a veritable treasure trove of knowledge that if used properly, could probably overthrow a small third-world nation.

The collection of data was immense!

I had flash cards, study guides, work sheets, notes from meetings, recordings of conversations, print outs of e-mails, and copies of peoples personal thoughts included in this behemoth of a quall packet.

I was ready.

At least, I thought I was ready.

Kinda.

Maybe.

Crap.

I walked in to the board, passed the info that I knew. I answered the questions. I passed. (More or less) Then, I was qualified. Life got easier.

Now, anyone that really knows me knows that I’m not a jerk. I don’t usually do things to make peoples lives harder. I don’t like to put up a fight or make a fuss.

If I can do something that will make someone else’s life easier, then I will.

And about 2 months ago, I stumbled on something, quite by accident that would make everyone’s lives easier.

We have 12 new engineers reporting this season. That’s a lot of people to get qualified.  I really don’t want to wait 9 months for my duty rotation to get fat again, and that is where my idea came in to play.

I have this touch screen down in main control that isn’t being used. So, I built a computer and filled the hole. On the computer, I installed a web page. A very fancy touch screen style web page.

One that contained the essential essence of my monstrosity of a note collection.

Every stupid little stat, note, hard to find piece of information, manual, drawing, recording, and diagram that will be used in the process of getting qualified was placed on the that web page, and it was all done in an easy to use, shiny, attractive interface.

THIS WAS A GAME CHANGER!

I installed it. I grinned to myself being quite proud of my work. And then I walked away.

I waited.

I watched.

Three days passed……. Nothing.

Hmm, “maybe people don’t realize what is sitting here” I thought.

So, I walked down to main control three or four times a day and played with it. I asked questions. I took more notes. I probed people for information on what they would like to see available to them.

I spent another week programming and compiling data and then I redeployed it.

I waited.

Suddenly, it happened.

I walked by Main Control on my way to fix something that some uneducated fool had broken (again!), and I saw someone sitting in front of my terminal. I stopped and watched from outside the room.

They were pushing buttons.

They stopped, read, and then wrote something down.

They pushed a few more buttons, stopped, read, and then wrote something down.

SOMEONE WAS USING IT!

I smirked and walked away.

On my way back to my office, I walked by Main control again and there was a different person repeating the process that the first had done.
Over the course of the next few days, I had noticed that there was almost always someone sitting in front of that terminal using it for information, reference, and compiling their own study information for their qualls and for their board.

My frustration at my situation over the last two years, in a matter of moments, suddenly went away.

I had suffered through something that had allowed me to design and distribute a resource to the crew that is already decreasing qualification time.

I’m receiving praise from my supervisors. Even the one that doesn’t like me.

I realized earlier today that since seeing this, I haven’t scowled at my job. (Other things? Yes. My job? No.)

I guess the long story can be summed up in a few short sentences.

I made something that made the lives of my shipmates easier. I decided to take the route of helping those around me, and I’m seeing the benefits and reaping the rewards.

Honestly? It feels good.