Danielle | Knee Surgery

If you’ve followed any high-level for sports long enough you’ve likely heard of Dr. James Andrews, who founded the Andrews Institute. Dr. Andrews is a surgeon for knee, elbow, and shoulder injuries and is a specialist in repairing damaged ligaments. Dr. Andrews became one of the best-known and most popular orthopedic surgeons for his work on many high-profile athletes. The Andrews Institute is home to nationally recognized physicians that utilize leading-edge techniques, technology and treatments for each and every patient.

Danielle has had trouble with her right knee for a number of years now. The first time it got to a level of discomfort that was enough to be seen about we scheduled an appointment and drove over to Gulf Breeze and met with Dr. Jordan at the Andrews Institute. Gulf Breeze is about a 2 hour drive from our home, which is well worth the expertise and level of care offered – it’s certainly second to none.

Dr. Jordan met with us, discussed the pain and discomfort, and sent Danielle down for x-rays… which ended up with a prognosis that she had a torn meniscus. Because of Danielle’s age, Dr. Jordan recommended a procedure where he would try to repair the meniscus… basically using stitches to pull and hold all of the torn portions back together with the intent for the meniscus to heal itself back together. This was suggested to mitigate arthritis if other procedures were performed instead. Unfortunately, after a LONG recovery process, it was determined that the surgery didn’t work and the meniscus wasn’t healing back together.

Later, a second surgery was scheduled to clip the torn meniscus. This surgery came with a shorter recovery process and it relieved pain for a while but eventually the knee pain came back. A follow up appointment with Dr. Jordan revealed that there was no cartilage remaining and she was basically having bone-on-bone contact and rubbing as she walked. With the relatively newborn twin girls, further surgery and associated recovery wasn’t ideal either. In effort to push out a surgery date, Dr. Jordan offered cortisone shots quarterly, and suggested an unloader knee brace that was intended to manually shift the knee to relieve some of the pressure.

Not too long after the girls turned 3, and them being lot more self sufficient and just much easier for me to take care of… along with Daniel, work (or time off from the Navy base) and managing Driven By Graphics as well, we scheduled a follow up appointment with Dr. Jordan late in 2022 to discuss a plan to lessen Danielle’s knee pain and improve her quality of life. He advised that he did not perform joint replacement surgeries, which was the ideal surgery for her given the circumstances – we were referred to Dr. Mayes, who specializes in hip and knee replacements.

During the consultation with Dr. Mayes, he offered two options: 1) being a partial replacement but follow up surgeries would likely be required in 5-8 years or 2) being the total replacement. Dr. Mayes suggested the total replacement, stating that the components used are much more durable and rigid than that used in the partial and would last significantly longer.

Today, May 1, 2023, is the day that will be marked and remembered for Danielle’s 3rd knee surgery – the total knee replacement. We had to arrive at the Andrews’ Institute Surgery Center at 6:45am for pre-op preparation. As I finish writing this, it’s now 9:45 and I just received the message that she’s out of surgery and is in recovery. I’ll wrap up in saying that I know the coming days and weeks are going to be tough and likely painful, but she’s a tough fighter and I’ll be by her side to help her through it all! I know she’s looking forward to life on the other side, hopefully being able to walk without pain… being able to follow and play with the kids more freely and so we can travel without being so concerned with constraints from the pain of walking.

Die Cutting w/ Roland VersaCamm

I’ve often been asked how I dial in cut force, particularly when die cutting… and the answer is testing… with each and every material… each and every time. If you’ve replaced your blade the cut settings may be different. Test again. Trust but verify.

When die cutting, the standard/built-in test cut doesn’t work well because it’s just too small to give you a good representative cut. So here I made a 1.25″ CutContour circle and imported that into VersaWorks.

Start with a low setting (no need to cause damage from the start) and slowly work your way up. After it cut through at 145, I stepped back through at 5gf increments to see if it would cut through at a lower force… 140gf worked but it took more force to punch them out of the material than I liked. So 145gf was the magic number for this job.

The idea is to really dial in the proper force because cutting with too much force will cut deeper into the cutting strip causing it to require replacement even sooner… and you also want to keep them from falling out too easily which could cause the cutter to jamb or stop cutting if one falls out over either the front or rear material sensors.

This was my first time trying to die-cut holographic so I really had no idea where I would end up on force, so I started really low on purpose. I was running a 2-pass cut (aka double cutting) which allows a lower force to be able to be used.

I will also note I am using cheap 45° blades from Amazon. I’ve used Roland, CleanCut, and these from Amazon. With the work I do, I haven’t noticed any difference other than the price.


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Listening + Quotes

I am a listener. I listen to people speak in person, in videos, podcasts, text messages, or emails, and I often try to pick up on the nuances. What are they unconsciously saying, that they aren’t actually saying? Sometimes it’s easy to read between the lines, but typically it takes a bit of patience to pick up all the pieces and put the puzzle together.

I also like quotes and aphorisms that invoke deep thought, critical thinking, and/or reflection. Often I try to capture the good ones… jot them down on a sticky note or enter them into the Notes app on my phone. I’ve thought some of them could be paraphrased and put on a shirt to inspire others but I’ve never taken any action to do that. So what will I ever do with these quotes I hear or read that and record? Probably nothing or mostly nothing, but today I’ll take a little action and share. Most of them are not direct quotes, but paraphrased or wordsmithed to have more meaning or insert my own flavor of clarification.

The most inspiring people are those overcoming the fear of doing something, the courageous, not those who are excellent at it.

What do you believe to be true that isn’t?

Time is the most valuable asset that you will never own.

Having gratitude and not expressing it, is like wrapping a present and not giving it.

These are only a few of the many but today I was led to share, even if only a little 😉

Die Cut Stickers

Today, well technically yesterday since I’m writing this at almost 2 am, was a LONG day. I’m headed out of town for the day job in the morning, so I’ve worked tirelessly to get every order I possibly could done and prepared for pickup while I’m away; at least 7 orders will be shipped tomorrow, assuming both UPS and USPS perform the pickups as scheduled. But let’s get to the title of this post… die-cut stickers! One of the orders I worked on today was for a new client, Triple Seven Concepts. They’re a new startup looking to do some marketing by way of stickers. So I got these printed and cut… and they’ll be headed out tomorrow!

Triple Seven Concepts | 3-inch Die Cut Stickers
Triple Seven Concepts | 5-inch Die Cut Stickers
Triple Seven Concepts | 5-inch & 3-inch Die Cut Stickers

And now that it’s a little past 2 am I should probably wrap this up because 4:45 is going to come really soon!

Shop Progress | Low Voltage

I continue to struggle with dedicating the time to documenting but continue pressing forward with accomplishments on a monthly, weekly, and daily basis. Last weekend I was able to wrap up this trim out of the low voltage wiring in the shop and prepare it to be covered with insulation.

I’ll also go ahead and fill in the insulation in the wall cavities to the bottom left (hopefully tomorrow) and basically finalize this back wall being ready for drywall… or potentially just sheets of plywood. I’ve been considering the plywood approach for a while and simply screwing in the sheets and leaving the fasteners exposed so that I could remove panels, to allow easy access if needed in the future. The only thing prohibiting this approach at this point is the current cost of plywood which is still substantially higher than it was pre-covid.

Aside from the shop progress, I was able to record 4 videos this week and got them edited and uploaded to my YouTube channel last night. Progress, progress, progress… one day at a time!


You have to be consistently good to be great. Everyone wants to be great. But what does great look like? Being great looks like being consistently good. (Paraphrased. Source unknown.)

Shop Progress | Insulation

It’s been almost 2 months since my last post, and I hope I can get to a point where I post more frequently and make this more of a habit. I suppose that’s something to add to the list of things to work on! But for now, I just wanted to post a really quick share relating to my shop build and related progress. This past weekend I was able to spend some time with my dad and he helped me begin installing insulation in my shop. This was the first time either of us had done it, so there was a bit of guessing and figuring it out as we went. It was blazing hot (triple-digit heat index) and a lot of hard work, but we hung in there and got a LOT accomplished! Here are a few pictures…

Back area of office
Front area of office & bathroom
High bay
Left side of storage area
Right side of storage area

Hesitancy | Indecisive | Procrastination

My original concept and purpose of this site was simply to DOCUMENT. Document what? Anything. Everything. Life. However, I’ve found myself hesitant to make a 2nd post, being indecisive about what to write about, and simply not taking action… procrastinating. It’s not HARD to document – to share about what’s been going on in the past 2.5 weeks since I kicked this site off the ground. A LOT of life has happened… it passes so fast! For the sake of general family privacy, on a public-facing blog, I’ll probably refrain from allowing this to become any sort of family documentary and will most likely keep that info to a minimum. Maybe I’ll write an “About Me” at some point in the future, but today is not that day. For now, I think I’m going to focus on getting better at sharing technical information, business thoughts, and ideas as things relate to my small business, Driven By Graphics (a.k.a. DBG). I certainly don’t expect to share on each of these on every post, but it’s been a while so let’s see how we can do today…

Technical Information

I wish I had some really insightful stuff to share here, but those will probably become more dedicated posts about a specific topic or subject. The only technical information/topic I can think to discuss right now relates to Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC)… something I know very little about. However, I’m in the middle of my shop build and the HVAC system is the next major step in terms of shop progress. So what’s the big deal about HVAC now? Well, as far as I can remember I’ve been both a form and function person and I end up with my only personal thoughts on how something should look (i.e. aesthetically pleasing) and just be done well, with craftsmanship and pride in any work done. So with all of that said, there are some challenges when it comes to the HVAC system in the shop, mostly because unlike a home or even a typical commercial office, the HVAC system was not designed into the original plans. So while the shop is still being built out and the walls are open there are a lot of considerations that have to be made. I want to optimize space as much as possible, so concealing the ductwork as much as possible is one primary goal… and to do that as much as possible it’s going to require that the floor trusses between the office and loft be cut to accommodate the trunk line(s) of the ductwork. To cut the floor trusses, I need to know what size ducts are going to be required and coordinate the size needed with cutting the trusses in locations that do not impact the structural integrity of the truss. So where does that take us?

Well, a couple of weeks ago I knew VERY LITTLE about anything related to HVAC systems other than when mine wasn’t working. But I’ve been studying, researching, and trying to understand how [simple] HVAC systems are engineered and designed. I’ve learned that you want approximately 0.75 (or 0.8) cubic feet [of air] per minute (cfm) per square foot (sq. ft.). So when we consider that the shop is approximately 1875 sq. ft. (including the 2nd-floor loft), I know I need at least 1,400cfm from the air handler. I’ve also learned that an HVAC system can produce approximately 400cfm per ton; HVAC unit sizes are measured in tons. So basic math tells us if we divide 1,400cfm by 400cfm/ton, we end up with a requirement of a 3.5-ton HVAC system. From there I’ve started to look at the shop as the individual rooms/workspaces and have been trying to figure out how many registers will be needed. The “office” area is approximately 575sq. ft. * our 0.75cfm / sq. ft. value tells me that I need approximately 430cfm in the office area alone. Well, how do you make that happen? A smaller flexible hose will be run off of the main trunk line and feed into the registers, which make up the vents everyone sees. A 6-inch diameter flex will allow 100cfm; so 4 of those will bring me up to 400cfm and I’ll add a 4-inch diameter flex to add an additional 50cfm. In total, that brings us to 450cfm allowed by the ducting, into a space that needs approximately 430cfm to be cooled… so we should be good 🙂

Now I have to do the same for the main work area / high-bay side of the shop and again for the loft/storage area. Once I know how many vents (registers) are needed, I can plan out where those will be placed, then I’ll have to go back and look at the sizing of the main trunk lines to feed each of the vents and make sure they’re sized appropriately as well. Could I hire someone to do this? Absolutely and I will. So why am I wasting the time to figure it out and learn it myself? Because knowledge is power and I want to ensure the system installed is adequately sized, the number and size of the vents are proper, and hopefully mitigate any potential for service calls related to the shop not being properly cooled because an undersized unit was installed or if the humidity is too high inside because an oversized unit was installed and it doesn’t run long enough cycles to properly condition the air. That’s PLENTY of technical for now 😉

Business Thoughts & Ideas

In wrapping up this post I just wanted to share some lines from a video on YouTube I watched last week – unfortunately I didn’t save the link. The video’s primary purpose was to be motivational in nature but it had a section that I found interesting as it related to decision making. It went a lot like this…

Are we always going to make the right decision? Absolutely not… no way in a million years! But most people dont have the guts to make the tough decisions because they want to make the right decision, so they end up making no decision.
Decision making is the force that shapes destiny.
Personal or corporate business destiny.
So if you’re going to control your life… the way you take control is by making new choices.
If you don’t like how things are, what do you have to do?
Change it! And to change it you have to make a decision.
Leaders make decisions!

Rhetorical reflection: What decisions am I making to be a better leader? What things or areas of my life need change? What decisions do I need to make this week, month, and year?