funny

The Fuel Can

Coca Cola

 

Sometimes I just see things differently from other people. I was that kid that ran with scissors, swam immediately after eating, and played too close to the electrical outlet.

So, now I’m that guy always looking to use things in a way other than their intended use.

I was with a church group of teenage boys helping a neighbor clean up a fallen tree in his yard. As I looked at the gas can for the chainsaw that was being used, I had a brief glimmer of clarity, and that is when The Fuel Can was conceived.

I jokingly laughed with the boys as we imagined people drinking out of gasoline cans. As far as we were concerned, we might as well have just discovered penicillin. The thought of seeing this at car races, car shows, air shows, and similar venues was fun to think about.

It easily could have ended there. How many times have you had a really good idea, and said to yourself, “maybe someday I could do that”? That night I decided to follow through on this one. I wanted to show the boys what it looked like to carry an idea like this through to finished product. I wanted to show them that when there are obstacles to your success, you plow through them and find a way to make it happen.

I am an entrepreneurial type of person. My wife and I own and operate a couple of businesses. We manufacture and sell infant special occasion clothing (christening gowns) on our website http://www.OneSmallChild.com, and I run a general contracting business in our town. My passion in these businesses is developing something from nothing. I enjoy making things happen. When I come up with a new idea, it is difficult to redirect my thoughts. So you can imagine her reaction whenever I start a sentence with: “So get this…” This was no exception. She kind of dismissed the idea at first and I dropped it for the night. I had a hard time sleeping that night and I could not let it go. The more I thought about it, the more I saw the path to make it happen.

The next day I was on the phone with attorneys trying to figure out if I could patent the idea and insurance agents to see if it could be covered by a product liability policy. After each call, I was more excited and determined to make it happen. By the end of the day, I had a clear path to put together all the legal details and I had hired a freelance designer to develop the first design for prototyping. Now all I had to do was convince my wife.

With a few conceptual conversations and getting her input on the design, she was in. I had her blessing to move forward and make it happen. A week later we had the design and 45 days after that, the patent was filed with the U.S. Patent Office. Another week and a half went by and I had a 3D printed prototype in my hands. It was an amazing feeling seeing a tangible result from the crazy idea that sprang up as we were busy helping a neighbor.

Now with pride and hope, I am presenting this product to the world. My hope is to see The Fuel Can in the hands of millions of people like me across the world that look at things just a little bit different. Please help me bring this dream to reality.

Adventures In Golf

 

So I’m that guy, watching as the best golf shot he ever hits, gets pulled by the wind and sails towards a new house.

 

IMG_1178

So I’ve never claimed to be good at golf. The last time I played was over 10 years ago. I like golf, but I work, and I don’t have the time to dedicate to get really good at it. This week I had the chance to go golfing with a church youth group of 14-17 year old boys at a small golf course.

The first hole had gone well and after my first shot on the second hole, I was about 150 yards out from the green. I pulled out my seven iron, not because I knew how far a seven iron would take the ball, but because it seemed like a reasonable choice. I lined up with the ball and took a solid swing.

There were three 15 year old boys with me to make up my foursome. They stood around me in awe at the solid hit that went high into the air and straight towards the green. For an instant I was very proud of my shot. To my untrained eye it looked perfect. Unfortunately, I either hit it too hard or the wind propelled it more than I had planned and we watched at it sailed directly toward a house about 30 yards behind the green.

At this point there was no way to take back the shot. I could only watch and hope for the best. Because of the trees around the house, we could not see very well, but even at 150 yards we could clearly hear the ball hit the house with a thud. About 2 seconds later, the thud was followed by the sound of glass crashing down on to the deck behind the house.

I stood there stunned for a moment, and the boys with me did not move either. The sound clearly indicated to us what had happened, but I for one, was not immediately able to accept that I had just done that. Yes, I am “That Guy.”

I am somewhat embarrassed to say, that for a moment it seemed like there were a couple of options for how to handle the situation. It didn’t take long for me to realize that the only real option was to show the boys an example, by taking responsibility for what I had done, and making it right.

As I walked toward the house, I was angry. I was angry at myself for hitting the shot and not being able to control where it landed. I was angry that someone thought it was a good idea to put a house 100 feet directly behind a golf green. I knocked on the door and no one answered. I decided to take care of the situation after we had finished our game.

The rest of the game was not very fun. There were many houses along the course, and the boys and I were careful not to have the same thing happen again. When we finished the game I went into the clubhouse and let them know about the window I had hit and gave them my phone number. I also left a note on the door of the house that I had hit. I was relieved as I spoke with my insurance company, to find out that my homeowner’s policy has “Stupid Idiot” coverage (liability), and that it would take care of the expenses associated with replacing the window.

Here is the moral of the story. We all know that around the country, every day there are thousands of windows broken by golfers. I would venture to say that there is a small percentage of those golfers that admit to and take responsibility for the damage done. I am sure that I could have walked away from that hole and played the rest of the day and no one would have known that I had done the damage to the window. But I would have known, and the boys with me would have known. I hope that my example to the boys helps them to choose to be honest and accept responsibility even when they know the consequences will be difficult to deal with.

I’m pretty sure it will be another 10 years before I decide to play golf again.

My Firstborn

So I’m that guy, staring into the huge eyes of his newborn daughter, oblivious to the ways she will change his life for the better.

girl shoes

 

I had known the day was coming for the previous nine months, but I don’t think that time prepared me for the significance of the birth of my first child. My wife and I had been married for a year when we found out we were expecting.  We hadn’t made any specific plans to get pregnant, but we had stopped preventing for a short period of time.  Looking back on the ease of getting pregnant from our current reality of infertility, it almost seems like another life.

We found out shortly before our first anniversary. We had been planning a trip to Jackson Hole Wyoming to celebrate our first year together and we chose to go through with it.  On that trip I made the realization that pregnancy tests are evil.  Everything can be totally fine, there are a few symptoms of pregnancy that nudge a couple towards a pregnancy test, but I am convinced that once she takes that test and it is positive, it becomes the catalyst for “Morning Sickness,” or as in our case, “All Day Sickness.” Needless to say, the trip to Jackson would have been better had we not taken the test.

The pregnancy progressed normally and all went well for the nine months leading up to the birth of our daughter.  Another miracle, as we have not achieved a healthy nine month pregnancy since.

It started when my wife was already a week overdue. The contractions hit slowly one evening and by 1 a.m. the next morning, we felt they were close enough to make the trip to the hospital.  We had a 30 minute trip to the hospital, as we walked out the door I joked, “Wouldn’t it be funny if we got pulled over on the way to the hospital?”  The state highway was almost empty as I went from a 55 mph zone to a 45 mph zone.  I left the car at 55 mph and sure enough the only other car on the road was driven by a Sherriff deputy.

He pulled me over and came to the car window. I said, “Officer, I’m sure you probably get this a lot, but my wife is in labor and we are trying to get to the hospital.”

The officer shined the light into the car and onto my wife’s pregnant belly. He said, “Well okay, I am going to let you go this time, but it won’t do you any good to rush to the hospital if you never make it.”  I was disappointed there was no offer of a police escort, but glad there was no added cost to the late night trip.

We did make it to the hospital safely and after checking my wife, they said she was not close enough and sent us home again to let things continue to progress. A few hours later we went back in and once again they said it would be a little longer and sent us home.  Finally, about 24 hours after the contractions had begun; we were admitted to the delivery room to have the baby.

Once my wife was able to get the epidural, the pain was much more manageable. We both slept for a few hours and were woken up at about 1 a.m. when it was time for her to push.  It was a slow process, and the umbilical cord was apparently wrapped around my daughter’s neck, because every time she pushed her heart rate would drop drastically.  After 2 hours of pushing the doctor’s decided to use forceps and they were able to pull her out.

That moment, when I saw my daughter for the first time, is etched into my memory. It was a beautiful moment and very scary.  I saw her in the doctor’s arms and she was struggling to breath.  Her chest was contorting and she was making efforts to breath but she couldn’t get the air to her lungs.  For those 30 seconds, that seemed like a lifetime, the doctor and nurses set her in the warming crib and worked at clearing her airway.  Finally, there was a cry. She was breathing and everything was okay again.

After cleaning her up they put her in my arms. Her eyes were wide open and she stared at me through her huge blue eyes. I can’t put the happiness I felt at that moment into words, but it was one of the best of my life.

I cannot finish this post without saying how amazing my wife is. She is the one who had gone through 9 months of pregnancy and 33 hours of labor to give our daughter life. I love you babe.

Looking back, almost ten years later, I am still amazed at the miracle that happened that day. She is now a beautiful young woman who has changed my life for the better. I am proud to be her father.

Awkward Infertile Moment

So I’m that guy, standing at the front desk of a women’s clinic with his sperm sample in outstretched hand trying to explain why he really is in the right place.

specimen cup

 

I believe that people struggling with infertility are some of the most mistreated people in our society. When stricken with the ailment, through no fault of their own, they somehow lose all rights to privacy and dignity. We have what is called secondary infertility. We were able to have a biological daughter, but following a miscarriage we were unable to get pregnant again

When my wife and I were first diagnosed as “possibly infertile,” she was put through a battery of invasive, painful procedures that according to the doctors had very little chance of having any positive result. To add insult to injury, the cost of the procedures was very high as our insurance would not cover any of these procedures.

This is what I like to call “The Infertility Rollercoaster.” We would save our money for a few months for new treatments. We would go to the new doctor that we were referred to after the last one concluded that we needed a more specialized physician. We would be given hope in the procedure and the steps they told us they were going through in order for this to be a successful attempt. My wife would get the shots and pills for the preparation for ovulation. Then we would go in for an IUI (Intrauterine Insemination), and the waiting game began. Two weeks later, we could not stand the suspense anymore so we would purchase a pregnancy test. Every test was a crushing reminder of our powerlessness in the situation, but we gathered ourselves back up and rode that rollercoaster several times.

So on one such occasion, we were finally at the day to perform an IUI. We had to go to a clinic in a town about 30 minutes from our home, so time was of the essence. We collected my “sample” at home and hit the road. We were told that it would be best to hold the sample under my armpit until we reached the clinic in order to keep it warm and alive until they were able to process it and to get it to them as soon as possible, so when we arrived at the clinic we knew time was running out.

I got out of the car, with the sample under my arm and walked into the lobby of the Women’s clinic. For some reason, I had been nervously anticipating this exact moment for weeks now. At the front desk there were three receptionists watching me as I entered the front door. I went to the desk and reached out my hand with the cup that contained my still warm sample. The looks on their faces were not encouraging. One woman said to me,” You must me in the wrong place.”

Those were not the words I had hoped to hear at that moment. I asked if this was the clinic we were scheduled to have our procedure in. The ah-ha moment came as one of the receptionists explained that their company actually had two clinics, and that the one we were looking for was on the other side of town, about 15 minutes away.

I got back in the car with my wife and as we drove to the other clinic we could not help but laugh the whole way there as we thought about the ridiculousness of the whole situation we were experiencing. Sometimes, the only way to make these things bearable is to laugh.

Long story short, that IUI, with the shots and visits leading up to it, cost us about $800 plus the negative pregnancy test that we had a few weeks later. That was a dark period in our lives. Thankfully, we had a beautiful 4 year old daughter to soften the blows that came with each failed attempt at growing our family.

Looking back and knowing that the difficult, humiliating, invasive, painful experiences we had with infertility, pushed us towards adopting 3 more amazing children, I would do it all over again. It helped us open our hearts to adoption and prepared us for the challenges we would face throughout the adoption process.

So I’m That Guy

So I’m that guy, standing in an icy ski resort parking lot wondering how his truck is now 70’ from where he parked it and now attached to a school bus.

 

Ski, winter season , mountains and ski equipments

So the day started out pretty okay. I was taking my daughter to her ski lessons at the local ski resort and I was going to get to ski in my brand new boots I bought myself for my birthday a few days earlier. It was a warm day and was raining a little.

We got to the hill, and I began my job as the designated pack mule hauling all my daughter’s gear and accessories up a slick parking lot to the lodge. After I got her all situated with her class, I was able to get myself ready.

I buckled into my new boots, amazed at how perfect they felt. At the lift line I went to click into my ski bindings, but no click. The boots were smaller than my previous pair so the bindings were not adjusted correctly.

To make a long story short, 30 minutes later I exited the ski rental shop with a pair of boots from the previous century that were 2 sizes too big. I was devastated, but determined to make the most of the ticket I had bought to ski that day.

I clicked into my bindings and scooted my way to the lift to head up the mountain. As it came my turn, I glanced at the lift operator’s station and there was a small dry erase board that read, “If you are the owner of a blue GMC Sierra, with the license plate number ****** please come to the office.” I looked at it once and turned away, then it started registering that I did drive a blue Sierra. Of course I don’t know my own license plate number, but it looked likely to be mine. So rather than starting my way up the hill, I pulled out of the line at the last minute to check things out.

I released my bindings and started walking toward the parking lot. With the old, ill-fitting boots, the walk was very difficult. I arrived a large metal stairway over the parking lot and just as I grabbed the hand rail on top, both boots slipped out from under me and I went down hard. From here it was all slow motion. There was a small family starting up the stairway, I felt the need to reduce their alarm at my fall and mid way through I yelled, “I’m okay!” I wasn’t, it hurt bad. I landed on the metal grate of the first step.

Immediately I had to prove my previous statement by bouncing right back up with the assistance of the handrail. With my tail bone bruised, and my pride shaken as well, I stood over the parking lot and immediately recognized that it was my truck and that it had collided with a school bus in the parking lot.

Not knowing how to process what I was seeing, I hurried down the stairs and walked across the ice sheet of a parking lot to see the damage. My pickup had slid about 70’ on the slightly inclined parking area and hit the rear wheel and fender of the school bus. There were no witnesses other than the school bus driver who stated, “It slid out of its parking spot and slammed into the bus. I jumped out and couldn’t believe there was no one inside.”

Luckily, the bus had no damage but a small scratch on the rear panel. My truck on the other hand had quite a bit of damage to the bed and rear bumper. This should have been a Kodak moment but I only wanted the situation over, so I moved my truck to another part of the parking lot and went back up the mountain to ski.

After my first mediocre run, I rode the lift up with two other men. By then I had calmed down somewhat and decided to try laughing at the situation. The ride started with me saying, “ So you guys want to hear about the worst morning ever?” I started my story and as soon as I got to the part about my truck hitting the bus, the guy next to me says, “So you’re that guy?” I replied, “Yes, I’m that guy.”

It was all downhill from there. The ski day was horrible because of conditions and weather, so I convinced my daughter to head home early. My tailgate fell of when I tried to put our gear in the back and I had to kick it to jam it back into place for the trip home. When I turned it into insurance I had the distinct impression that they did not believe my story but after 4 weeks and $6,000 worth of body work, my truck was as good as new.

It was a small price to pay for the story of a lifetime, and the new identity of “that guy.” Growing up most kids want to be Superman, Spiderman, or Batman. But I like to say to myself, “So, I’m that guy.”