Category Archives: Random

The Comeback Quitter

dipFRIENDSWOOD, Texas – Sorry I have been away so long, but it was for a good cause: I finally quit chewing.  I will not lie, I loved every second of the torrid affair that I had with Skoal, but it never would have worked out over the long haul.  I wholeheartedly believe that tobacco is the world’s most perfect product.  It smokes so smooth and it dips so delectably.  There is no substitute.  But when it comes to possible life and death, the choice is clear.

The act of quitting was every bit as miserable as one would expect, but not as drawn out as people say it is. The first three days are what count, and if you can survive those first days, then you will make it.

The key is having a carefully orchestrated set of circumstances that will place you in the best possible position to succeed.  I took vacation from work and sent Toni and the kids back home to Ft. Worth.  I signed up for Netflix and bought Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2010.  I bought a ton of red beans and rice, Goldfish, and Quaker Oats Oatmeal Squares.  I moved the big TV into my sports room and put the little one out in the living room.  I did everything I could to put myself at ease and make me as comfortable as possible.

MintCupGrepKisherOn day-one I was an absolute wreck.  I didn’t want to think.  I didn’t want to move.  I didn’t want to breath.  I didn’t even want to play Xbox!  It may have been the worst day of my life.  That sounds ludicrous, but I’m serious.  This is the day that most people throw in the towel.  It’s easy to quit quitting because you know that all you have to do to make everything better is put in a little heater!  Crack open a can.  Steal a little pinch.  But once you do that, the horizon levels, everything is back in focus, and you don’t hate everything anymore.  If you give in, however, then you have just wasted several hours of your life for no good reason.

Day-two was the worst day of my life…  I punched a hole in my door because I missed a 10-foot-putt on the Xbox.  I walked around the house talking to myself.  I ate everything in the house.  I wanted to burn down the house.  I wanted to burn down the neighbor’s house.  I wanted to burn down your house.  I turned off my phone!!!

Even though I was going completely insane, I knew that “this to shall pass.”  Once I made it through day-two, I knew I was going to make it because I didn’t want to put myself through that horror ever again and I was not going to allow that initial effort to go to waste.

2449kl3Cooking on day-two helped me because it took a lot of time and I happen to really enjoy it (even when I am a tobacco deprived skitzo).  I made beans and rice with bell peppers and onions.  Might not sound important but it helped to pass the time.

Day-three was when I first started to realize that I was going to survive.  I was still pissed-off, but I was starting to believe that there was, in fact, life after chew!  I started to talk to family members.  I called Toni.  I remembered that I have kids.  I made fun of my brother Brian.

Since then it has been cake.  I have been using “Smoky Mountain Mint Leaves” instead of tobacco.  It’s not bad, but I don’t foresee myself using this stuff for too long.

While I hated every second of the first few days, I am amazingly proud that I endured.  I thank all of you out there who prayed for me, and I thank God for providing the perspective needed to overcome addiction.

Now that it’s done, I am a bit regretful.  I wish that I would have made a big production out of the whole thing.  I wish I would have failed a few times, so everyone would recognize how tough it is.  I wish I would have portrayed myself as a victim a bit more.

I don’t really mean that, but it has been a bit anticlimactic.  Setting myself up for success has deprived me of my family; the ones who would be the most likely to lob a high-5 my way as congratulations.

When I tell people that I quit they say “cool” or “way to go.”   That is strange to me because those are the same people who acted like quitting was impossible!  How can they act like I had no chance and then act like success is not a big deal!?

I will, most likely, never figure that out, and it most certainly doesn’t matter.

All that counts is that I have freed myself from the shackles of tobacco, and if you need a little support to help you break the chains of addiction, just give me a shout.




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Chance Favors the Prepared Mind

Ansel Adams Moonrise Over Hernandez

FORT WORTH, Texas – This 1941 photograph is Ansel Adams’ most famous print, “Moonrise Over Hernandez.”

The story goes that Ansel was on his way home from Colorado when he came upon this striking vantage. He almost drove the car into a ditch in an effort to stop and capture the image. He was with a friend and his eight year old son, and he demanded that they get out and help him set up his full format camera. A full format camera takes about 15 minutes to set up, but he did it in about ten.

He had only seconds left before the sun went below the horizon, and he could not locate his light meter, which helps to determine the proper f-stop and shutter speed. But because his mind was most prepared, he was able to recall the luminosity of the moon and meter accordingly. He always took two identical images, in the event that there was a flaw in the film, but on this occasion, he only had the time to take the first, as the sun had dipped below the horizon and thus the graveyard in the foreground had fallen into darkness.

As it turns out, that first image would go on to become his most famous print of all. But if he had not made the effort to memorize the luminosity of the moon, it would never have happened in the first place.

This, I believe, is one of the great examples of chance favoring the prepared mind.

I once heard a sermon in which the preacher asked the church goers “why is it not enough to simply pray to find a job when one seeks employment?” His answer to the question would help to shape my life: “Because God expects you to go out and find a job that suits the abilities He granted you!” In other words, we are to prepare ourselves to make the most significant impact we can, and not to sit around waiting for the right opportunity to present itself on God’s behalf.

Long story short, if your mind has been tempered and torqued toward His cause, then you have placed yourself in the best position possible to make an impact and dictate chance.


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Who is this jerk?

General PetraeusHOUSTON – My name is Patrick Kelley and I am a Petty Officer in the U.S. Coast Guard. This blog, however, has absolutely nothing to do with the views or objectives of the Coast Guard. This is really an outlet for me to share what I am doing with family, friends and anyone else who finds my staggering journey through the every day somewhat interesting.

meI was born in Arlington, Texas, and grew up in a couple of small towns outside of Fort Worth. I have since traveled from coast-to-coast, yet I still believe that Ft. Worth is one of the best places to reside, eat some of the best food anywhere, and raise a family.

I joined the Coast Guard in February of 2001, graduated boot camp, and reported to Station Sabine Pass just months before the horrific attacks of 9-11. I remember bursting into the executive officer’s office, demanding to be sent overseas to make right what had been the most awful and devastating wrong in American history. He told me that, while he appreciated my enthusiasm, just about everyone in the Guard was making the same demand, and only so many could go.

Well I never made it overseas, but I did make it to Virginia, where I attended machinery technician class-A school. I had never changed a set of brakes, let alone changed a cam shaft, yet I was headed toward a career as a mechanic.

DSC_0411After school, my new wife, Toni, and I headed to the Coast Guard Cutter Cuttyhunk in Port Angeles, Wa. We were both just 20-years-young, and we both struggled to make the transition. I had to get used to life away from my home address and Toni had to grow accustomed to being away from her home state. Even though we had some rough patches, the Northwest experience was amazing. We learned that if we could survive the nine consecutive months of rain that we would be blessed with the best three months of summer on the planet.

DSC_0064_2After Port Angeles, we were headed back to Port Arthur. I had recently advanced to E-5 and was set to assume the number two position in the engineering shop at the station in Sabine. While I worked diligently as a mechanic, I knew it was not what I should be doing to best serve the Coast Guard and my family. In fact, I did more search and rescue and law enforcement than mechanizing.

So after seven years in the Guard, I made a career change. After command approval, an extensive screening process and surviving an absolutely grinding school, I was headed to Houston as a brand new public affairs officer.

DSC_0081_2Since making the change, I have been busier than any other time in my life. I have done live national interviews, met some of the most powerful people in the country, covered historic events, learned the basic elements of photo and video, helped to tell the Coast Guard’s story and generally had a great time. I have met two presidents, one DHS secretary, General Petraeus, the Commandant of the Coast Guard, several state and federal congressman, the first ever Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard (MCPOCG) – Reserve Forces, and both the current active duty and reserve MCPOCG’s. I have been part of the responses to hurricanes Dolly, Gustav and Ike, the New Orleans oil spill and the North Dakota Floods.

DSC_0195DSC_0408_2While that all sounds great, I am still learning the art of transitioning from work to liberty. This blog is part of my effort to detach from work, once I leave the office. I am sure that I will, at times, write about my job, but for the most part I plan to blather on about whatever happens to tickle my fancy. I hope we can both enjoy my experiment at not working.



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