Monday, March 31, 2014

Just a Little Bit Off The Top

 Recently I mentioned that I had an accident last year where I lost a bit off of my left pinkie finger. This was quite a significant event in my life and I thought just for posterity's sake, maybe I should put the experience down in writing. So with no further adieu, here is the story...

It happened on October 21st 2013. It was around 4pm or so. I have 94 Chevy truck with bald tires. They weren't bald when I bought the truck, but they are now. The problem is, the truck has a lift on it and so the tires are bigger, and expensive to replace, a fact that didn't seem to bother me when I purchased the truck. The tires have needed replacing for a good three to four years, but I have been putting it off and putting it off, unwilling to fork over the dough to get new tires. It's never been that pressing since I don't drive the truck very often, just the occasional trip to the dump or to help someone haul something big somewhere. Funny how when you own a truck, it seems like every man and his dog needs a favor. But I digress.

It just so happened on this beautiful Fall day my wife and I were taking a load of our neighbor's leaves to the dump. It was my first day off from working the night shift at work and I was running on about three hours of sleep. It was a warm day and I had my window down as we drove down the country road that led to the dump. A few miles from home I began to hear a sound, psst psst psst psst. The sound was in sync with the rotation of my rear tire. My first thought was that there must be a small rock trapped in the tread of my tire, until I suddenly realized I had no tread – not enough to trap a rock in anyway.

It didn't take long to realize the sound was air escaping from my tire, and it wasn't long after that we were pulled off to the side of the road and walking home. I did not have a spare or tools in the truck. Luckily a good Samaritan neighbor saw us walking and gave us a ride home. Shortly thereafter my wife and I returned to the scene with tools and the spare. I remember commenting to my wife on the way there, that this would be a good opportunity for her to learn how to change a flat. Boy was she about to learn a thing or two about changing a tire!

I had two jacks, a bottle jack from our Suburban, and an old-school bumper jack, like the kind that used to come in cars from the 70s.  
The evil bumper jack

I preferred to use the bottle jack, being aware that bumper jacks and high-lift type jacks can be dangerous as they can tip. It turned out that the bottle jack wasn't quite enough to lift those big thirty five inch tires off the ground. DANG IT.

Against my better judgment it was time to resort to plan B, the bumper jack on a cinder block to give it some height. I recall that as I was setting up this sketchy looking improvisation there was a voice inside of me telling me to WALK AWAY. I didn't have the right tools for the job. I should go buy the right kind of jack or call a tire store and let them come out and take care of it. But no, that's not me. I have kind of a problem solver in my make up, always looking for a way to accomplish the task. And that brought me to my situation: a ¾ ton truck jacked off the ground by the rear bumper, on a bumper jack, sitting on a cinder block.

I had the tire off – that voice in my head practically screaming at me to stop – and was trying to get the spare on, but needed to jack the truck up maybe just one more inch to line the holes up with the bolts. I grabbed the jack handle, and I am not exaggerating when I say I had this inexplicable feeling of terror as I ratcheted up the truck one more notch. I couldn't figure out why the apprehension. Everything at a glance seemed to be right. I had changed tires before... why was this different? Another click as the jack cranked up one more notch, the rear bumper of the truck creaking and groaning under the enormous weight it was supporting.

I remember thinking, One more aught to do it. CLICK!

At that moment I realized why the scary feelings, why the voice inside... too late. I had made a fatal mistake, something I should have known, something I should have seen. I blame it on the fact that I was running on so few hours of sleep. For those reading this who don't know, a truck is rear wheel drive. That means when you put the vehicle in park, it's the rear tires that are in park, not the front wheels. The front wheels remain free to spin.

Well, by raising the rear of the truck that last little inch, I had lifted the back wheels off the ground, leaving the front wheels free to roll forward. In my memory, the first movement seemed so subtle and small. I could see the truck just barely beginning to roll forward off the jack. Instinctively, I reached out with my left hand and grabbed the jack, hoping to stop my truck from falling off the jack and landing on the bare, exposed wheel hub and axle. I'm here to tell you, that once a ¾ ton truck starts to move, you ain't stopping it with your arm. It's gonna go, and you had better get clear!

Unfortunately for me, there was no time to second guess my actions. As soon as I grabbed that jack, WHAM! My left pinkie was trapped between the bumper of the truck and the jack. I could also feel, as the truck began to fall, the jack rolling up my hand and pinching my next finger as well. I knew this was very very bad, and chose at that moment to just jerk my hand free, before any more of it wound up trapped between steel.

The truck made an awful sound as it banged hard on the ground with a big crash. My finger was stinging, but didn't hurt too bad – I thought for a moment that I had escaped serious injury. Then I saw my wife's face as she looked at mine, and I knew something wasn't quite right. In fact, I learned later from her, that what she had seen from her perspective was a bunch of blood splatter my face as the truck fell, like someone had whacked a tomato with a hammer nearby.

Reluctantly, I brought my hand in front of my face. And there was my poor mangled pinkie finger, pulverized, the torn flesh hanging and bleeding around the exposed bone!


In the ER.  That dark triangular shape is my
finger bone.  yuck!

If you have never had the chance to see one of your own bones before, let me assure you that it has a shocking effect on the system. In fact, as my wife was driving me moments later to the ER, I passed out in the car from shock. I passed out one more time in the ER as the doctors and nurses were fiddling around with the injury... there's something about having a cold, saline-soaked gauze pad dropped roughly on exposed bone that causes me to pass out as well.

I should finish this up, as this is already a really long post. So, to make a long story short here's how it ended. The ER doctor told me that I was going to lose about half of my finger. But, a plastic surgeon who just happened to be hanging around came and looked at it. Since I'm not a smoker, he was able to perform a procedure where he sewed my finger to the palm of my hand. If I had been a smoker, this procedure would not have been possible due to constricted capillaries and not enough blood flow.

I ended up having my finger sewed to my hand for about six weeks, and I'm happy to say things went about as well as I could expect. I am still recovering, but I still have use of the finger even though it's a bit shorter now and can be sensitive to certain things, like cold and it hurts now to use my pinkie to try to play chords on the guitar.

In the end though, I am just thankful I wasn't injured more seriously, or even killed. I walked away from what could have been a very serious or deadly accident and I feel so blessed to be able to say that. And if I've learned anything it's to listen to that inner voice next time when it's trying to warn you. If you are experiencing feelings of terror while performing a task, there's probably a reason! Use the right tools to do the job, and if it's a big job where a mistake could mean injury... wait until you've had some sleep and you're thinking clearly!

And now you know... the rest of the story.

Over and out.

After the first surgery, my finger
stitched to my hand

After the 2nd Surgery to release the finger

This picture shows how much of my finger I lost... 
maybe a quarter of an inch

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Playing With The Big Dogs

I thought that maybe I should share my latest and greatest paintball escapades from last summer before the memories slip away into the mists of time to be lost forever.  This is a two part blog which will cover two separate days of paintballing for me from last summer... both awesome days and memories for me.

First of all, I have actually gotten to the point where I really don't have a dedicated group of players / friends to play with anymore.  There's a few of us sure, but not enough.  For a while, I tenaciously hung onto a small group, refusing to give up.  I would plan days to play, only to have half of the guys dog out at the last minute.  It's a strange phenomenon in the paintball world.  You can get a bunch of very enthusiastic YESes when you try to plan a day of playing, but you can usually plan on at least half of them backing out by the time the day arrives.  Lots of really lame excuses too... like, "Sorry man, I really wanted to go, but had to mow my lawn."  Shut UP!  I have to mow my lawn too!

ANYWAY... It got to the point where I was tired of being the man in charge, always making the arrangements, begging people to play - I felt like a dang Amway salesman half the time - , making the phone calls, sending the emails, etc.  So, last summer I kind of threw in the towel on all the bull crap and just decided to start playing with other groups out there.  For once, I figured, it would be nice to be just some dude who showed up to play paintball, instead of the big leader in charge of everything.  I put myself out there on some Facebook pages and before long I was invited to a group of paintballers and started going with them.  I had to pay a little extra, since these were actual paintball fields, ie places of business but the $5-$10 field fee is worth it to me.  I'm with people who ACTUALLY want to be there and didn't have to be coerced by my forceful pleading.


Through Facebook, I heard about a group that was going to be playing on a field in some river bottoms not too far from where I live.  I decided that I was going to go.  I tried to get some friends to go with me, but nobody could - too busy mowin lawns.  I almost didn't go because I was nervous to just show up all by myself, but in the end I determined I would go.  And boy am I glad I did!

After driving around a bit on a dirt road, I finally reached the paintball field and parked my car next to several others.  As I shouldered my gear bag, gun, and folding chair, I could hear the sound of shouting, and paintball guns firing rapidly in the trees.  A ball of ice formed in the pit of my stomach.  Who were these guys?  Would I be any good today?  It had been over a year since I played.  Would this group of players accept me?

I eventually turned a corner in the path and some of my fears were instantly realized as I saw a large group of what I would call college kids standing around in groups, laughing loudly and telling war stories from their previous game.  Now here I come strolling up, a lone dude and stranger, wearing old, faded camo, and surely and old man to them.  I could feel their eyes upon me as I found a place for my stuff, and started setting up my chair and gearing up.  I felt awkward and nervous as I zipped up my tactical vest and aired up my Tippmann Phenom off to the side, away from everyone else.

The field was pretty dense river bottom land with some towers and bunkers scattered around.  It turned out to be much smaller than I imagined, and that resulted in me getting eliminated pretty quickly from my first game.  The opponents being able to get to our side of the field much quicker than I had anticipated and I was hit while moving forward and not being as cautious as I should have.

But, I am happy to report that after that game I became a lethal force to be reckoned with!  I can't recall too many paintball days where I racked up so many kills.  LOL  By the end of the day, they were all calling me The Terminator and fighting over who's team I would be on for every game.  I left that day feeling deeply satisfied.  That's one thing about this sport that I think appeals so much to me.  I might have been twice the age of these kids, definitely slower than most, and yet because of my age comes experience and knowledge and I was able to use that not to just level the playing field, but completely turn it to my advantage.


There's a local paintball field in this area called Crossfire Paintball run by an avid paintballer named Gary Taylor.  Gary happens to be a big fan of GI JOE ( a man after my own heart ) and every summer he has a big all-day GI JOE scenario paintball event.  It's usually based on GI JOE vs COBRA in some fashion or another complete with props.  He usually has a professional paintball team travel over to play the part of COBRA while the rest of the disorganized mass takes on the roll of GI JOE forces.

It was mid July sometime and I convinced my little brother, Blake, to come with me to the GI JOE game.  He had come with me the year before as well.  We got there totally excited to play even though the temps were in the mid 90s.  COBRA this year would be played by a pro team out of Salt Lake City called Bad Karma, seen in the video below:

I remembering eyeballing the Bad Karma guys as my brother and I were getting our gear on and preparing for the day.  Bad Karma looked sharp: matching uniforms, unit patches, radios with mics, and a sweet array of weaponry.  Intimidating?  Yes.  But some of the coolest paintballers out there too.

Just before starting up, Gary did a quick head count, and decided that the GI JOE forces were maybe a little too many, even for a team like Bad Karma to be expected to deal with.  So, he gave Bad Karma (COBRA) the chance to select two extra players from out of the rabble to be on their team for the day.  After a quick glance over the group, their team captain's eyes suddenly came to rest on my brother and I, and he pointed right at us, and said, "We'll take those two."

I would be lying if I didn't say I was pretty stoked about it.  Here was a chance to play with professional players, not against them, but along side them.  Not only that, but it would be a fun challenge as I think we were probably out numbered at least 3 to 1 if not by more.  I like being the underdog, I like having the odds against me, but knowing I'm on a team that possesses the capability to overcome those odds and be victorious.  As Gimli The Dwarf once said in The Lord of The Rings movies, "Certainty of death, small chance of success... what are we waiting for?"

I won't go into the details of the day's triumphs and failures as this post is already long enough.  But, I will just say that it was a blast and a pleasure to be a part of a good team that practiced sound tactics and discipline.  I look forward to playing in the GI JOE scenario again this summer, and hopefully meeting up with Bad Karma again, although it's unlikely I'll get chosen to be an honorary member yet again.  But, one thing is sure... it will still be a good time.  Enjoy a few pics below...
Over and Out.

The team pauses for a moment to listen before moving forward

Yours Truly making a mad dash across open ground.

My brother, Blake, sees an opposing force coming our way!

Me taking cover... waiting.
Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes.

My brother and I posing with Bad Karma.
We're the two dudes in the middle.

Bad Karma posing with some of the GI JOE team.
In paintball, war is Hell.  And then it's over and everyone is friends again.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

One Big Update...

Okay, so it's been four years since I posted to this blog and it's high time I wrote and update with what's going on with my life, although I'm sure that most of my faithful readers have melted away into cyberspace to never be heard from again.

I'm going to put the blame on Facebook for my lack of blogging.  Facebook for a time seemed a sufficient medium to connect and to share my thoughts, but recently upon revisiting some of my old posts on this blog, I have come to realize that Facebook just doesn't quite fill certain gaps.  It doesn't really matter to me if I'm not reaching a bunch of readers out there.  If nothing else, this blog kind of serves as a journal (even though I happen to keep a handwritten journal as well.)

So, the latest:

Still living in the same house with the same number of kids (4) but they sure are growing up right before my eyes.  I'm still doing the same job, Security for The Department of Energy at a nuclear facility.  Still loving the job and loving life.

I have gone through almost a soap opera weight loss experience over the last nine months.  Last January, I turned 41 years old and vowed that during that year, I would really take my weight loss farther than ever before.  I started going nuts in June, and by the end of August finally achieved a HUGE milestone of getting under 200 lbs!  I haven't been under 200 lbs since I got married pretty much back in 1997.  I felt great and was really proud of how I was starting to look.  I was eyeballing that next 10 lbs that would pretty much accomplish my long term goal once and for all... and that's when disaster struck.

To make what could be a long story short, in mid October my truck got a flat tire on the side of the road.  While I was attempting to change the tire, the truck rolled off of the jack and my left pinkie ended up getting caught between the jack and the bumper of the truck.  This resulted in me losing about a quarter inch off of my finger, and a good 10 weeks recovering.  During this recovery time, my finger and hand were bandaged up and I was not allowed much activity as moisture, like sweat, would cause problems.  Therefore I did NOTHING and ate EVERYTHING for 10 weeks or so.  I gained 25 lbs and now here I sit, not quite at square one, but it feels like it.

Now that I'm about through feeling sorry for myself and being angry at myself, I am at a point where it's time for a repeat of last summer.  I want to feel that way again!  To look down and see the veins in my forearms popping at the surface of my skin, and my clothes getting so loose I was about to break down and go buy new clothes.

So, with that... Here I go again.  Over and out. 

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Loooong Long Time

It's been four years since I've written in this blog.  I blame Facebook.  Anyway, I'm thinking of starting to write in here regularly once again.  Stay tuned...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Aerial Video & Photography RC Helicopter Sale

I'm officially throwing in the towel on my Aerial video and photo business. The rigors and demands of my full time job coupled with the responsibility of helping raise four kids have left me without the time required to devote to this business. I feel that for $1600 I'm practically giving this away. This heli could be used as a professional Aerial imaging ship, or just flown for fun as a hobby. Hopefully I can sell it and buy a nicer TV so the kids can watch Spongebob in HD. = )

Any questions, email me at




WIRELESS VIDEO/AUDIO DOWN LINK (so you can see what you're shooting)








Friday, November 20, 2009

My Answer To The Pirate Situation

Well, this post is a little different than my typical health & fitness post, but I hope you'll all bear with me.

If you've been paying even scant attention to the news you should be aware that the Somali pirate attacks seem to be back on the rise in the last little bit. I don't know if that's because there is an actually "Pirate Season" or if they have just been kind of laying low since their last failure when three of their buddies ended up on the bad news end of some Navy SEAL sniper rifles.

Given my current employment in the field of national security and anti-terrorism, I was brainstorming the other day, and wondering what could the USA and her allies do to combat this problem. Let me first of all dispel any misinterpretations that may come from the picture I posted above. Let's be clear and identify this as the terrorism that it is. I think it's important that the UN and the USA classify them as terrorists instead of pirates. The word pirates in today's culture carries too much of a Hollywood branding of adventure seeking, peg-legged, hook-handed swash bucklers cruising the Caribbean in cool ships flying the Jolly Roger and drinking rum while singing, Blow The Man Down.

Alright, so here's my solution to the problem:

These terrorists are cowardly criminals, and it has been demonstrated they will tuck their tails and run if a crew demonstrates any form of a stiff resistance. So, if I happened to own a shipping company that was forced to sail in these dangerous territories, I would hold a meeting with all the other owners of similar shipping companies and propose the following: That we take a normal looking tanker and convert it into a disguised war ship. You could do things like have what would seem to be normal shipping containers on deck, that can actually collapse away to reveal 20mm cannons and .50 cal machine guns. Outfit the tanker with a small, fast and deadly attack boat. There's a lot of different options I'm sure.

Hire a regular crew to run the ship's day to day operations, but also have a secret crew aboard, maybe some guys out of Blackwater with special training to use the provided weapons as well as trained in close quarter combat and armed to the teeth that can deal with a boarding if it comes to that. Then just run the ship around through the normal shipping lanes, acting all innocent until they are attacked by pirates. When the pirates attack, strike back with no mercy. You fire on them and pursue until you've destroyed them. Maybe let one get away once in a while to spread the news. Change the appearance of the ship from time to time. I don't think it would take long for word to spread.

Right now the reason it has become so popular for these pirates to engage in their business is because companies and nations have been willing to pay ransoms much of the time. They have grown rich without little risk to themselves. At least until last year when they found out what a SEAL sniper can do from a fantail. But, if they knew that any ship they attacked could turn out to be heavily armed with experienced warriors aboard who will not only defend the ship and repel the attack, but will pursue them to their utter destruction, then my guess is you will see a sharp decline in these activities.

The problem is cost, but seriously, how much are they paying in ransoms and lost cargo every time a ship is hijacked? It would seem to be a cost saver in the long run. And if you're like me, the cost to benefit ratio wouldn't be all that important. I'd be willing to take some loss to be able to strike back at these cowards of the sea and send them to a watery grave.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

The latest Roadblock

Well, it looks like over time, I've developed a case of plantar Fasciitis in my right foot. Here's a little explanation of Plantar Fasciitis:
The classic symptom of plantar fasciitis is heel pain when you take your first steps after getting out of bed or after sitting for a long period of time. You may also have:
  • Stiffness and pain in the morning or after resting that gets better after a few steps but gets worse as the day progresses.
  • Pain that gets worse when you climb stairs or stand on your toes.
  • Pain after you stand for long periods.
  • Pain at the beginning of exercise that gets better or goes away as exercise continues but returns when exercise is completed.
It's a condition that I've been aware of for a while, but has not been severe enough to impede my daily life. . . until recently that is. It may have been the backpacking trip in September that pushed things over the edge. It has gotten to the point where the pain doesn't fade away after a few steps in the morning, but stays with me every single step throughout the day.

This condition has really put a damper on my cardio workouts since I really like to run on the treadmill almost every day. Now, I've come to the conclusion that I really need to address this situation and can no longer just grit my teeth and run through the pain. The only thing to do is to let it rest and heal as much as possible. I've gained five pounds now due to this whole thing, and I take full responsibility for that. I'm the one who came to the conclusion that if I can't run, then there's no point in working out. . .and if I can't workout, then why bother eating right either? a dangerous dangerous thought process right?

Well, I've snapped out of that and am drawing a line here and now. I am not going to let Plantar Fasciitis cause me to gain back all the weight I have worked so hard on getting off. It's been two weeks since I've jogged now, and there is a HUGE difference in the pain now. It's still there, but it seems that I'm on the mend. I have to substitute other cardio in the place of running, and this has been a psychological challenge for me. I've just had it so ingrained in my head that running is such an optimum form of cardio, that anything else just isn't worth doing.

This week however I forced myself to stay off the treadmill after my lifting and did all my cardio on the elliptical and spinner bike. I even had a couple of cheat meals, and voila! I lost two pounds! So, I'm pleased. This was a big milestone for me mentally, because I was able to demonstrate to my subconscious that weight loss is indeed just as achievable with other cardio besides running. Now to just keep it up until the heel pain is gone.

The only obstacle now is, the only piece of cardio equipment I have at home is a treadmill. My workouts at work are the good ones where I have the other equipment available to me, including a stairmaster. I have to wrestle with a decision now. I want to get something for home, but can't afford an elliptical and a bike. So, which one for now? Eventually I'd like to have both. Especially because I think it'd be great if the wife and I could workout side by side at nights after the kids were in bed while we watch our TV shows on the DVR. We could go twenty minutes on either machine, and then switch and do twenty more. I see myself getting an elliptical first at this point. Seems like you get just that much more out of an elliptical than a bike, what with the arm movements and all.

Well, until any further developments. . . over and out.