Recent studies have shown, making up everything you say is 95.2% more efficient than doing research.

If you like reading nonsense, you've come to the right place. If you have a thirst for knowledge, you should know that I make up 100% of the stuff I write on this site, without doing the tiniest bit of research.

Getting your feelings hurt over a blog that is tongue-in-cheek makes YOU the idiot, not me. I reserve the right to edit your comments to make you look insane and stupid.

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Christmas Letter 2018

2018 started out a lot like 2017. There was immense stress from being sued by my father, and fear of the unknown that came along with all of that. There was still plenty of business stress left, as the company distributor was still burning through excess inventory from their huge forecast error in 2016.

To add to all of that, at work we had to update our entire quality system to a new revision, 13485:2016. It was a pretty major overhaul, and required revision to almost every one of 800 quality system documents. Between preparing for trial and overhauling the quality system, I was working a ton of hours, and going home and working more after the kids (and wife) went to bed.

In January, Nicole left her job of nearly 10 years at the transplant institute and took a position as an ICU nurse. She knew she wanted to get critical care experience, and the idea she could have 2-3 days a week off with the girls was too tempting to pass up. Not to mention the savings in daycare.

At the end of January, we were ready for the audit. The auditor came in and was more than a little impressed with the work we’d done, and we passed for the first time ever with ZERO findings of any kind. Those of you who are familiar with quality audits know that’s unheard of.

February was spent preparing for depositions for the trial. Mine was scheduled for mid March, and I had an absolute metric ton of information to digest, understand, and memorize ahead of that. Nicole will be the first to tell you that I was a machine when it came to getting ready for that. I put the finishing touches on the financial analysis just a few days prior to my deposition. That financial analysis involved going through 16,000 documents one page at a time, highlighting relevant transactions, and creating a fact-based history of what had happened financially in the company over 7 years. I boiled down 16,000 pages to a single binder with about 400 pages.

In March, I gave my deposition. The opposing attorney did his level best to get me confused, and then threw a curveball at me right before lunch, essentially accusing me of writing a check after I had resigned (which would of course not be cool). I spent the entire lunchtime fretting about what he could possibly be talking about, because I certainly didn’t have a recollection of doing anything like that, and I hadn’t come across a record during my analysis. After the fact, I went back and looked, and the check he was talking about was written 5 weeks BEFORE I resigned. The question was simply designed to rattle me. Which it did, so nice job, opposing attorney!

A week later, my dad gave his deposition. I won’t get into the specifics except to say that he called me “lazy, with no follow-thru, and with a terrible memory.” So that was endearing! Feelin’ the love!! To be fair though, he had told me the day he filed the lawsuit that if I ended up out of a job, I was “collateral damage.” Equally endearing.

In April, I began taking my certification tests I’d been studying for (kinda), and I obtained my ASQ Certified Quality Engineer, Certified Quality Auditor, and Certified Biomedical Auditor certifications. These are industry-recognized certs that help those of us who work in an ISO / FDA business setting.

In May, I turned 40, and my friends and family from all over the country showed up for a surprise party at my house. Not only was it a great party, Nicole planned the entire thing without me getting even an inkling of it, and that’s impressive because she’s terrible and surprises! Nothing really changed with turning 40 except that I finally felt like the grey in my beard was justified.

In June I met with the CPA to go over my financial analysis and make sure he was on board with its accuracy. He was able to look at all of our company records, and he was satisfied. He also looked at my personal bank statements to confirm none of the money in question went to me. I appreciated that he was so thorough, and would have been able to testify (if needed) that I hadn’t taken any money for myself.

June was also Olivia’s dance nationals in Ohio!

In July, I decided to pursue a lifelong dream of working directly in healthcare. As an 18 year old, that was paramedic aspirations, but at 40, I felt I had the sauce to do a BSN/RN. I met with the people at Research College of Nursing and went over my prior degree information. I then applied for their accelerated BSN/RN program. I had to start taking prerequisites right away to be ready for a January 2020 program start, so I had to enroll for them before I even knew if I was accepted. Risky!

August 6th was supposed to be the start of the trial. So naturally, at the last minute, we got bumped. That was some serious emotional letdown, because we were ready to rock and roll. Once the dust settled, our date was set for December 3rd. I didn’t want to spend 4 months stressing, so I told our attorney I wasn’t going to spend one second on trial prep until after Thanksgiving. He agreed.

In August we also took the girls to the Missouri State Fair. As is tradition, it was eleventy million degrees. They still had fun though.

In September, we got a wild hair and took a weekend trip to Branson. The kids had a great time and we got to check the box for “family vacation” even though it was only 2 days.

Also in September, Nicole got a job offer to work mother/baby at Liberty Hospital, which is literally 5 minutes from our house. Mother/baby was her inspiration for becoming a nurse in the first place, and she was excited to make the switch.

And we did family portraits!

September is also when I started taking prerequisites for the nursing program. I enrolled in O-Chem and Nutrition. They were the hardest class and the easiest class I’ve ever taken, respectively. I studied my butt off for chemistry, and I never cracked the book for Nutrition. I got A’s in both classes.

Literally nothing happened in October except for pumpkin patch and Halloween!

November brought Thanksgiving, which was also the trigger for me to start ramping back up for the trial. In a business case based around financial stuff, there’s just a ton to commit to memory. Suddenly, out of nowhere, I got my acceptance letter to the 2020 accelerated BSN!

December 3rd finally rolled around. It was time for trial. I woke up that morning at about 4 AM and was wired. Nicole went with me every day but Wednesday of that week. Day one was the “Jim” show. He pontificated and patted himself on the back and talked about how great he was for the entire day. He insisted everyone call him “Doctor” which was hilarious (since he’s not). He even set up a little… I’m not making this up… he SET UP A BOOK DISPLAY OF HIS BUSINESS BOOKS ON THE LEDGE BEHIND THE PLAINTIFF’S TABLE – COMPLETE WITH LITTLE DISPLAY STANDS!!!!!! There is a time for shameless self-promotion. I’m not sure a jury trial is it.

Day two, Jim continued his testimony which proceeded to be as entertaining and hilarious as it was infuriating. Ironically, during the entire time he testified, he never presented any of his own financial records to try and prove his case. He relied entirely on our historical financial records, which we had already proven conclusively were hot garbage through our examination of 16,000 pages of bank records. And don’t be confused – we gave them the records in discovery – they could have looked at everything for themselves.

On Wednesday, it was finally time for my testimony. Our attorney guided me through a bunch of facts and documents, then it was their turn to cross examine me. That’s when it got fun.

So in his deposition, Jim accused me of deleting a set of invoices. At the time of Jim’s deposition, I had already provided all of those invoices, WITH BATES STAMPS, in discovery. I couldn’t tell him so at his deposition, because I wasn’t allowed to talk. So, I sat there amused, a little bit angry at the false accusation, and mostly astonished he hadn’t looked at the records we had provided.

Fast forward back to the trial. Jim’s attorney, on cross, accused me of deleting those invoices. So I got to say “They aren’t deleted, I provided them on discovery.” The attorney looked dismayed – he had taken Jim’s word for it, and TWO YEARS AFTER THE LAWSUIT WAS FILED, they still hadn’t looked at our discovery records. I checked my notes, and said “You will find them at Bates Numbers 3977-4026.” Preparation paying off is always a beautiful thing. I was certain they’d bring that up again, and I was ready for it.

And that was that… the cross examination wrapped up in a hurry after that. Once I was done, we had a number of witnesses, attorneys, ex-employees, that had fact knowledge and had interacted with Jim. We put on a hell of a case – we had a hell of a legal team. But then it was to the jury.

So we all went into the break room and paced. For my grandma, it was wondering if she’d have a retirement left. For me, it was wondering if I’d have a job. Four hours of deliberations later, the jury came back.

We won. He was told to pay us six figures net and “punitive damages” to be determined by the judge. Now, I know my dad. He will never accept that it was a just verdict. He will blame us, blame others, blame the jury, claim he’s the victim. He’s incapable of admitting when he’s wrong. I’ve never heard him admit a mistake in 40 years, and I can assure you he isn’t Jesus.

I have to admit, the week after the trial, the emotional letdown had me cranky and on edge. It was 21 months of extreme stress (which was his goal in filing the lawsuit), and my family’s well being was at stake. We had hundreds of people praying for us, helping us out with the kids, bringing food, even doing the worship planning for the church (which is normally my job). As we get further away and the victory sets in, we can finally stop talking about the trial, about my dad, etc. Having our family all together and happy has been amazing, as once again demonstrated at Christmas.

My siblings had been reluctant to hang out the past few years, because the dynamic was so toxic. Not so anymore.

So as I enter into 2019, I have more prerequisites to take (Anatomy & Physiology, Microbiology, and Pathophisiology) prior to the January 2020 start date. I have four amazing daughters and a beautiful wife. I have a mom and siblings who are finally free, happy, and flourishing!

Olivia is going to start high school in the fall. She’s also in competitive dance again, and was one of the few girls at the studio to be selected to do a competitive solo! Elaina will be starting real school in the fall of 2019, so she is growing up fast. Mia is almost 3 and is the toughest kid I’ve ever met. Molly is 2 and is entering into an obstinate phase, but she’s still one of the sweetest kids I’ve ever met. Nicole is finally in a job she loves, with several days a week to spend with the kids.

Oh, I almost forgot, I more or less finished up my tattoos for the time being.

Kimber K6S

The Kimber K6s is a 6 round double action only revolver chambered in .357 magnum. I have been shooting with mine for about 6 months, so I thought I’d share a quick review.

This gun looks and feels very well made. My only other revolver is a Ruger LCR, and it feels like a toy next to the Kimber. The Kimber is stainless and has a unique notched cylinder that makes the gun quite narrow even though it adds a 6th round of capacity.

The two inch barrel makes the K6s easy to conceal – small enough for strong side IWB or ankle carry. I typically carry this as my back up gun, so it’s almost always on my ankle. The Wilson Combat Sentinel is my primary and goes IWB during casual dress, or strong side OWB under a sport coat or cold weather clothing.

At the range, the Kimber performs well. And I say that with one major caveat. Unless you are Duane The Rock Johnson, you are not going to want to shoot .357 magnum in this gun. It kicks like a rabid donkey and is quite painful after just 2 or 3 rounds. You’ll want to use 38 Special ammo. I have a ton of .357 magnum ammo that I’m working through, and I never shoot more than 6 rounds in a session. And I wear a glove. Not practical for the real world.

At 10 yards I can put a 6 shot group within 3 inches, and at 20 yards, I can get 6 shots in 5 inches. Further than 20 yards, it’s probably not going to be the best gun for you, simply because of the short barrel. But that’s ok. This is a snubby revolver intended for last line self defense, and if someone is attacking you, they will be much closer than 20 yards.

Double action only isn’t for everyone. That means no hammer to cock, which also means no hammer to get caught on your clothes when you try to draw. I like that, personally. However, it means a very firm, roughly 12 pound trigger pull. This contributes to the accuracy issues as you get closer to 20 yards. That said, the trigger is extremely crisp, and you can actually feel the gun cock as you pull back the trigger, and you can pause when you feel the click. This essentially gives you a single action trigger pull from there – useful if you have time to draw and aim carefully… not so much if someone is shooting at you.

If you’re looking for a well made revolver for concealed carry, and you like the option of double action only, this gun is the best one on the market. Just make sure you load it with 38 Special.

2017 Christmas Letter

Hello beautiful people who still check this site even though I barely update and when I do it’s unreadable hot garbage!

2017 started with a bang heard round the world. My mom filed for divorce. Of course, my siblings and I have been telling her to do that since 1994, but better late than never! Granted, my father won’t go away without a fight. But while you might think all of that drama would be stressful, I can honestly say that for her, myself, and my siblings, this has been a year of incredible freedom and peace. I can’t remember a time when it was this calm, happy, and loving. For plethora reasons, that’s all I’ll say about that for now.

That brings me to work, I suppose. In 2016, our distributor, who is not known for creating accurate forecasts, ordered double what they normally do. I pushed back and told them this was really weird and were they sure, and they said they were positive. Well, turns out they were not correct, and they had actually ordered twice as much as they needed.

My previous boss had this notion that we could force them to keep buying stuff they didn’t need, even though the contract didn’t dictate any such thing. I found out part way into the year that the distributor was looking for a way out of working with us because they were so sick of him emailing threats to “call the CEO” and other such nonsense.

In reality, the distributor had screwed up, but I don’t believe in throwing tantrums to get my way, especially when “getting my way” has no contractual basis or logic to it. Instead, we calmly worked with the distributor and came up with some very reasonable, workable short-term solutions, understanding that excess inventory would eventually be depleted.

What that meant was 2017 was a slow year – but ironically more profitable than previous years… imagine that. We have a solid core team that works hard. We have a ridiculously integrated quality system that we continually upgrade and spent significant effort on this year. We digitized 100% of our records and all current and future record-keeping is in the cloud. We cut costs, consolidated our space, updated our workflow, and overhauled our entire inventory system.

On the personal side, 2017 was a lot of work, but it was so much fun. Having two one year olds is a challenge as any parent of twins could attest.

Molly is the perfect baby of the family. It makes us not want to have any more. She was destined to be the youngest. She’s extremely mellow and sweet. She’s almost never mad. When she cries it’s for a minute or two then she’s over it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mia is very spunky and she lives life at 110% at all times. That means when she’s happy she’s HAPPY, when she’s sad she’s SAD, and when she’s mad, she will slay you and anyone who resembles you. She’s also tough as nails. I tripped going down the stairs with her and about killed myself. She’s more likely to break the stairs than be injured by the stairs.

 

 

 

 

 

Elaina is everything I would hope for in a four year old. She’s stubborn, funny, imaginative, emotional, and cannot for the life of her put a shirt on by herself. Her favorite activity is her “pick one” (iPad) where she watches YouTube shows. Her least favorite activity is eating dinner when I tell her to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Olivia… she’s 13 in every sense of the word. She has become a woman before our very eyes. For a couple of years, we saw a child with occasional flashes of womanhood. Now, we see a woman with flashes of childhood. She dances competitively and has practice 4 or 5 days a week. She plays cello in the school orchestra. She’s got all A’s and B’s in school. She’s 5’10” and about to pass me up within the next year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nicole and I celebrated our fifth anniversary this year. I can honestly say it has flown by. Having 3 kids during that time probably had nothing to do with it. With the kids, we struggle to find time together, we run constantly, and we collapse into bed between 10:30 and 12, then start over again the next morning before 6. She’s adores our kids and they adore her. She’s the best wife any guy could ever ask for.

We have aspirations of living in SoCal, so maybe that will be the next big change for us. Or maybe it will be changing our last name to get rid of negative associations. Or maybe we’ll decide we need more kids. Maybe she’ll be having me committed to a mental hospital tomorrow. 🙂

 

 

 

 

Over the course of 2016-2017 I finished two full sleeve tattoos and started a full back piece (5 months to go on that).

If you have been a reader here or you know us personally, I wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and a wonderful 2018. Keep your stick on the ice.

Dell Latitude Rugged Extreme

Dell Latitude 14 Rugged Extreme (Model 7404) notebook computer, group shot, one open 90 degrees, the other closed, showing handle.

If you’ve ever dropped your laptop off a table, you know the fear. Every digital thing you own may have just died a tragic, untimely death.

Dell has the solution, and it comes in the form of the Latitude Rugged Extreme 14. This laptop is ridiculous in every way. It’s heavy, it’s bulky, it is so big it has it’s own handle and shoulder strap. And you could drop it off a cliff in a rainstorm while it’s open and on, and when you climb down to retrieve it, it will still be running just like you left it. It’s constructed from magnesium alloy and ultra-polymers. It’s IP-65 against water ingress. Its official spec says it can withstand a 6′ drop, but they are tested at 12′, and most survive from much higher drops than that.

It’s tested to run at -20 to 145 degrees. It can operate in blowing dust and sand, snow, salt fog. The desert. High altitude. The jungle.

And best of all, it can run in a manufacturing operation in Missouri. That’s where I come in. I work in a manufacturing environment where we have heavy equipment and chemicals everywhere.

So a top spec rugged 14 extreme will set you back about $7,000, and it will last until the sun turns into a chunk of charcoal. I frequently toss and drop mine to demonstrate to friends. It’s a computer AND a party trick.

Hasselblad X1D-50c

Do you love insanely high resolution, smooth, creamy medium format images but you hate carrying 200 pounds of medium format gear? If so, you have found the perfect weapon of choice in the Hasselblad X1D-50c.

Prior to the X1D, I was shooting the Hasselblad H5D-50 Wifi camera and carried several of the heavy HC lenses in my kit. The X1D uses the SAME sensor. It uses software that is actually more modern than the H5D.

After a couple of weeks with the X1D, I sold my entire H5D kit including all of the HC and HCD lenses. The XCD lens line is so much lighter, and syncs at 1/2000 out of the box. My HC lenses would have required an expensive shutter upgrade to achieve anything higher than 1/800. And multiply that fee by 6-8 lenses and you’ve got some serious outlay of cash.

I currently shoot with the X1D, and my lens kit includes the 90mm, 45mm, and 30mm XCD lenses. I’m excited for the release of the 120mm later this year, and frankly that may just complete my kit.

The 30mm is plenty wide for landscape, the 90mm is amazing for portraits and fashion, and the 45mm is a great walking around lens for street photography.

So as pros go, the high end 50MP CMOS sensor, the beautify of Hasselblad’s color management system, the fast flash sync, and the medium format “look” in a package that comes in at a third the cost of a new H5D system, and frankly stacks up nicely even against the H6D-50.

As many before me have noted, it does have some “early adopter” issues you might expect in a new platform. The firmware is buggy. It sometimes hangs up. The delay after a shot is unacceptably long… close to 2 seconds. Focus is MUCH slower than any comparable full frame 35 (as if there’s such a thing), but it’s quite similar to the H6D I rented. Again, I think this is more related to firmware than hardware. We’ll see with future updates. My biggest complaint is the “eye level activation” that works like a piece of crap if you happen to wear glasses. I cannot get the thing to activate unless I take off my glasses, which renders me nearly blind. I really hope that Hasselblad addresses this issue in a future firmware update, as it drives me absolutely nuts.

All in all, for a camera body that rings in under $11,000, and lenses worthy of the brand, I highly recommend this camera. If you shoot action, medium format isn’t for you anyhow. If you need 100MP, you need the H6D anyhow, and you are almost certainly shooting in a studio. X1D was meant to be highly portable, and it shines.