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Honk if parts fall off – Engineered Obsolescence

farm truck bokeh

I was thinking today about how many products seem to be designed with an expiration date.  Engineered obsolescence.

It is good to think about the life cycle of your product when designing, and is very important when it comes down to sourcing materials and marketing the end product.

What I do not like is when a product is purposefully designed to fail when it could perfectly function for far longer if the design were modified.  Popular Mechanics has some good examples in their technology article on the subject.

Whenever something fails I think of how it could have been designed differently.  I am reminded of my first truck in high school.  It was a faded yellow ’77 Toyota Pickup.  I had created an antenna from a coat hanger and was able to pick up hundreds of messy AM stations on the built in am radio.  I had a bumper sticker on the back stating “Honk if parts fall off”.   Ironically I actually lost that half of my bumper while exploring the west desert of Utah.

The truck was perfect for me because it worked just enough to keep me busy fixing it, but not too much of a problem that I would be eager to get rid of it.  This truck was a junker but still worked quite well.  Whenever I think of Toyota I think of a perfect model company to follow in practice and design.  They make their product useful indefinitely through sound and applied engineering.  They focus on quality as their business plan.

I think the direction where most of our economy is headed now is towards more quality and less junk.  The sharing economy has to have products that are designed well to last a lifetime and possibly generations.

There are many products that do require obsolescence – take electronics for instance.  Especially computers.  They need to be updated to match modern technology which doubles every two years.

But when all is said and done the best business plan really is quality.

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Building Lego is Work we Love

As a kid I thoroughly enjoyed building Lego.  I would work hard doing random things to try and make some extra spending money – which generally went to Lego sets.

I spent many summers traveling out to the mine with my grandfather.  We would ride the backhoe up some haphazard switchbacks he had scraped in the side of a steep colluvial fan.  Sometimes my grandfather would have us switch sides and basically use us as ballast so the backhoe would not slip.

I spent many long hours on a ladder leaned against the cliffs.  I would carry a three foot hammer drill up as high as I could get it and spend 20-45 minutes per drilled hole.  The difficult thing was the cliff was only a foot away.  In order to hold the hammer drill I would have to lean back two feet and hold that position while trying to maintain some kind of pressure.

Once we had made Swiss cheese of the cliff face we would then stuff each hole with dynamite and C4 detonation cord.  My grandfather carried a blasting cap inside his pocket – tinkling with his Wriggleys gum and prospector lens.  He really was an old-time character.  He would take a stick of dynamite and break it in half over his knee.  Then he would dig out the sawdust and nitroglycerin innards with his trusty old timer pocket knife.  He would then tape a blasting cap on the end of the detonation cord and shove it into the hole.  Electrical tape it right and use the end of a broken shovel to ram it down into the hole.

I just imagined how if the cliff blew, I would only hear a slight muffle and then there would be complete and utter blackness.

I mention mining with my grandpa because it was an adventure (We mined Alabaster).  It was a way to truly feel alive.  And that’s how I earned a lot of my spending money that went to Lego.  I loved how each set was created out of so many pieces that had the possibility to be anything I could imagine.  The possibilities were endless…  And so were the options I created to make money. From mining to selling cherries with my dog, there was always something to get me a few bucks in my pocket.

I have since looked back on my childhood and I realized that my days were full of work I enjoyed.  It was fun, creative, and hard.  But it never really felt like work.  I know have boys of my own and I have introduced them to the addiction of building Lego.  Lego is a toy I’ll gladly buy for them (and myself).  I have had many odd jobs from inventory to switch gear design over the past fifteen years but my favorite has been the hardest work that does not feel like work.

I have spent the past fifteen years designing and growing my Wowflutes until it has become my main focus.  I am passionate about making products that can be enjoyed, and ones that never get old.  Like Lego.

My goal with Wowflutes is to show that you can love what you do and be successful to.  I feel that too many folks are focused on earning money as their primary goal.  This is not a bad thing, but what they do not know is that the most successful individuals are those who are doing what they love.  The work does not feel like work but rather play, just like those long hours spent in my childhood working, playing and building Lego.

(see more of my Toy Photography)

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Do More, Be More

This morning I have been thinking about the word become.  This word is wrapped around ones potential to do and be.  It is being and embracing who we are at our core.  That is, we are children of our Father in Heaven.  This is our huge potential that we all share in this life.

There is no fear when you think about what this means.  To really be a god in adolescence.  I think this is why there is such an innate desire to create within the human race.  To create makes us feel alive and like we are actually doing something to become better.  There are those words again, do and become.

Henry David Thoreau wanted to experience life.  He wanted to truly understand what it meant to live.  He spoke of this:

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”

This is a good measuring stick for what you should do and become – when I am old and soon to lay down to rest in the grave what will I have accomplished?  What has life offered me, and what have I done with it?  Life is a gift and should be enjoyed everyday.  If it is not enjoyable then  something must change.  People can become what and who they want to be through effort and hard work.  They become through not giving in or settling for something mediocre from life.  Life is to live each day, and make each day a little better than the last.

by Joseph Cowlishaw

to be me
Heavenly Father
He knows me more than
I know me
He has masterfully equipped
Talents that make up me
Gifts and righteous desires
Those gifts from Him
When not used then lost
At being me
Being me is tricky
I am the only one
There is no example to follow
When the spirit guides
Me works
Me is masterfully equipped
To be

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Ideas are Things

This Blog is devoted to awesomely designed toys.  I define toys rather loosely to include dual-functionality products that have a fun aspect to them and could be considered toys for the bigger kids (myself).

I absolutely love to inspect and admire well designed products.  I also really enjoy toys.  They make life fun for everyone.  Who does not have a toy that they played with and remember most from childhood?  My favorite toy growing up was Lego because of all the possibilities from just a simple set of snapping bricks.

Some folks think that when you grow up you should not play with toys anymore because they are for children…  Well, to be brutally honest, they can go be sad grownups who work their lives away hoping to save for some kind of retirement so they can enjoy toys again.

Toys do not just appear out of nowhere.  They are being designed and created and tested and manufactured using highly detailed engineering techniques and practices which include various high-tech technologies in manufacturing and design.  It never ceases to amaze me when I look at a clever toy such as an action figure or puzzle that has numerous joints and detailed parts.  Each one of those parts were thought of and sketched out then taken through the conceptual design phase.  Then being created individually inside an injection mold and assembled with skill to achieve the proper movements and quality.

Through my experiences as a product designer I have learned every aspect of this process.  My own cool toy – the Swirl Wowflute has been such an enjoyable experience to work on.  It has been in the research and development phase for nearly fifteen years and may not ever leave this phase – there are always ways to improve upon an existing design.  I find it rather interesting when I compare some of my year old handmade Swirl Wowflutes with newer ones I made last week.  They are completely different!?  I did not intentionally change the design, but it gradually morphed into what works better and better.

I finally decided to make a manufactured version of the Swirl Wowflute in 2012 as part of a University capstone project.  I spent many long hours attempting to use Autodesk Inventor to make a digital replica of my popular handmade flutes.  I look at the design process as a form of art – even when you are designing a manufactured product.  That product was a concept, an idea – that suddenly becomes tangible in the real world.  This is the purpose of art, is it not?  Producing some kind of physical product from an idea.

I got to use the $10,000 3D printer on my project to print out prototypes for testing.  In this capstone project I was not able to produce a working prototype that was tuned because the time was limited in class.  I did get a functional prototype that whistled though and played it as part of a presentation.  It was not enough for me to just make something that was just there.  I like interaction, and dual-functionality.  I wanted an end product that would build on someones creativity.

Onward and upward.  After I graduated college I had the desire to make this manufactured Wowflute a reality.  I could see the prototypes that were once just simple ideas in my hand – it gave me a sense of excitement and awe.  Ideas truly are things!  It was an ah-ha moment I will not easily forget and it’s worth repeating – Ideas are things.

During my final semester at Southern Utah University I had decided to throw out all my required classes and took what I wanted to learn about.  I took a marketing class from a talented Professor Ellen Treanor who knew how to make a subject interesting and exciting.  I always looked forward to her classes.  One class she introduced us to a website called Kickstarter.  The opportunites I saw almost made my head explode!  I saw the potential to make the manufactured Wowflute a reality in a simple project based platform.  After graduation I took a boring job to make ends meet all the while selling my handmade Swirl Wowflutes on the side.  I soon felt the urgency to quit my well paying salaried + commission job and pursue the dream of bring my Wowflutes to a much larger audience.

I acquired some investments from an awesome friend of mine and started on the process in making a quality manufactured version.  I spent the next five months finding a manufacturer and a product designer who knew how to design for injection molds.  I created a high resolution prototype using the SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) method and tried it out.  It worked well but was way out of tune.  I asked my designer to make the walls thicker and the holes 25% larger.  This would effectively reduce the chamber size and increase the change between holes.  I had another SLS prototype made and to my great astonishment – it sounded better than expected!  It was in tune perfectly.  The many years of making the handmade Wowflute (30,000 of them) had paid off.

I then took that prototype and ran with it on kickstarter.  My kickstarter project was a success and the Tritan Wowflute was brought to life.  This did not appease my appetite – for I had tasted it, Ideas are Things!

So as you pa-ruse my website, know that I am passionate about design in general and I beleive in making ideas reality.  Optimism is key in anything great.  You will always have the naysayers and the haters who are really just jealous.  You can feel sorry for them.  You can use their negative energy to instill what I call “the Oh Yeah Factor”.  The “You wanna make a bet?”  The “I’ll show him”, this is powerful stuff.  I use it all the time.

Thanks for taking the time to read to this point.  Now I will reward you with some pictures of awesomely designed toys that I like:

The Creepy Face Woody Doll:

woody - ebe whistle wide

The loveable, babylike Baymax:

Endurance is patience concentrated. – Thomas Carlyle 

A photo posted by Joseph Cowlishaw (@joecow) on

Pixar’s Carl Fredricksen from UP:  

Good timber does not grow with ease. The stronger the wind, the stronger the trees. – Thomas S. Monson A photo posted by Joseph Cowlishaw (@joecow) on

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Story is King

trooper chef

I just recently listened to the book Creativity, Inc. written by Ed Catmull, who is a computer scientist and is the current President of Pixar Animation Studios.

It was a very insightful book and really allowed for a sneak peek into the working gears of Pixar creativity solutions.  When describing the process of making an awesome 3D Animated feature length film – the phrase Story is King was very prominent.  I think that is the creativity of Pixar – storytelling!  They know how to bring the audience into a story and captivate them.  The audience doesn’t seem to know how much work went into a certain shot – they are just involved with the characters and story.

While reading this book I decided my instagram feed was kind of chaotic and had no theme… No story if you will.  So I decided to switch it up by adding several story lines intertwined throughout the feed.  Boy is this fun! Focusing on the story and following “Story is King” really makes the process much more exciting!

So far I have three characters: Frank Hughenot – the Stormtrooper Lego Minifigure that aspires to be a great chef (food pictures),  Carl Fredricksen Funko-Pop who finds himself in the wilderness often, and Orvil Brickers – an old prospector hunting for glittering gold!

carl desert

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The Great Southwestern Suzuki Adventure Kickstarter

et hwy

My brother Nathan and I just finished up our video for his Grand Southwestern Suzuki Adventure project campaign that will be launching soon!

It has been a real blast to be able to travel the first leg of his trip to get the footage for the Kickstarter video! We left cedar city early (around 5:30am) and were able to get to Pioche, Nevada to watch a brilliant sunrise. I brought my Gopro and set up a permanent mount on Nathan’s Suzuki Vitara front bumper.

The footage was excellent. We went from Pioche to Caliente where we explored some rural back alleyways where we were greeted by a friendly bunch of ferral cats. They will star in a section of the video.

Then from caliente we drove on to Alamo, Nevada and nearly got stuck behind some huge semis hauling dump buckets for the massive mining vehicles in gold mines probably near Ely. They were so huge that each truck had a police escort that would go before and clear the road of traffic. So yeah, smart thinking for Nathan to race to get on the road before them!

Then it was off to the Extra Terrestrial Highway and some ET Fresh Jerky!

That highway is a wonderful sight. There is just something inspiring to see such a long stretch of highway that seems to go on through eternity – it sure makes one want to drive a bit faster if you know what I mean!

We stopped at several cattle signs and got some wonderful time lapses of the valley.

We drove a dirt road for several miles that suddenly became paved and took pictures of the entrance to Area 51. The posted signs say you can’t take pictures, but we had the GoPro rolling non-stop and when we paused for a bit at the gate it was really just to get a good look at things, wink, wink!

Traveling back to the highway we found an almost perfectly preserved skeleton of a cow in a most desolate spot – photo op time!

et hwy long


When most people come across something dead in the wilderness they try to avoid it, but Nathan and I are not most people. Most people avoid looking like wackos by introducing the idea of a Utah UFO Fest, but Nathan and I are not most people. Most people take a road well traveled – the Cowlishaw bros like to be adventurous and pave their own.

After the stench of the cow got to us we were off to the desert metropolis of Rachel, Nevada. Seriously though, Rachel doesn’t look like much. The size of the valley and the endless road makes it look that much smaller. I can see how those who live there and thrive there could fall in love with the place and never want to leave. It would be hard to get used to such wide open spaces. Even a small city like Cedar City would start to feel claustrophobic compared to that! We got to speak with Connie and Pat who run the Little A’Le’Inn, and they were nice enough to listen to our experiences and be excited about the UFO Fest. We may even get them to bring the World Famous Alien Burger to the fest.


One of the most interesting sights at the Aleinn was the ceiling in the bar, it was covered in cash and currency from many countries.


In a way I am kind of jealous of Nate… He gets to do this huge adventure throughout the desert southwest, and meet so many awesome people. It is really about the people and is always about the people. People are awesome! I’ve found that if you listen to someone long enough, it doesn’t matter who they are, they will surprise you. I think Nathan will really be able to generate some genuine friends on his journey and will have a blast. Someone needs to hold down the fort here though, and I would hate to be away from my wife and four kiddos for more than a few days.


We had a blast on this first leg of Nathan’s adventure and we hope he can continue on through Texas and on to Louisiana and Mississippi and capture some real landscapes that include the element of real people.

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Resolution vs. Revolution


I’ve been thinking a lot about resolutions as the new year approaches and 2014 sets like a beautiful sunset.

During 2014 I feel I have accomplished a great deal. I was the General Manager of a mining company – Alpine Gems, and managed to double revenue from the previous year within six months. But most importantly, I left.

Some of you might think why would you leave when things are going so well? I left because life is more than selling and toiling to produce something. Life is meant to be spent with those you love. I felt I was missing out on my family and my greatest assets – my wonderful wife and kiddos! I was leaving to work early in the morning and usually didn’t get back till after dark. Running Alpine Gems required this workload and it still wasn’t enough. I felt the company was a black hole sucking money and resources and most importantly – time.

I remember the moment I decided to leave. I was always resolved to keep Alpine going and motivated to work my hardest and put my very best foot forward. The moment I realized that I was missing life thinking only of the success of the company. It was at the Iron County Fair. I had reserved a booth to sell my small Wowflutes. I was sitting peacefully and finally relaxed where I could think without being disrupted by customers or some needful thing to be done.

I sat and contemplated. It was wonderful! As I relaxed I sold more Wowflutes and realized it was about people – life is about people. It’s not about money or grand glory or being looked up to. It’s about being there and being available to people. It’s about catering our time around others, striving to spend every waking moment possible with those we love.

My two year old daughter was diagnosed with Ideopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura or ITP back in July. We started to notice how easily she was bruising and during a routine doctor visit they did a blood test and her blood platelets were very low. They checked for Leukemia and luckily the results were negative – but it gave us a real scare. I realized sitting in my Wowflutes booth that I was helping my family with money – but not with the other things a father is supposed to provide.

family 2014


BEING THERE. Being there is key. Sometimes it is easy to get upset with the noise or the loudness of children. But I have been awakened this year of the beauties and blessings that I have because I chose being there. When I left Alpine Gems it was a big disrupt to our financial well being. I had ideas to improve Wowflutes but we still needed a lot of help from family and the church. I am truly grateful for the help we received. It allowed me to focus on research and development of the new Relic Wowflute. My wonderful, thoughtful wife decided that I could move all my business stuffs into an office and she spent a full day moving everything and combining the kids rooms so that I could have an office.

I setup my desk and arranged all my tools and with our last $100 I purchased some materials to make the first precious metal Wowflute. It was a leap of faith. There was no reassurance that everything would work out. A flute had never been made from this material. I didn’t have the proper equipment or the resources to acquire it. My wife was very supportive and we both agreed it was the best decision to leave Alpine Gems.

Through a miracle from God I actually made a working Wowflute out of precious metals. It is a miracle. I used a pottery kiln with no temperature control to fire a mixed metal piece (mokume-gane), which by the way is very susceptible to error. I don’t know why I choose the hardest possible goals to achieve, maybe it’s because I enjoy the challenge. At any rate – I fired my ceramic kiln and after only two tries i had a working prototype! It should not have worked. I took copper, bronze, and steel (two of which have a melting point of less than 1800 degrees F, and I heated them to over 2000 degrees. The copper and bronze should have melted to a puddle. But because of my ignorance and inability to make the mokume-gane swirl patterns I had effectively mixed steel thought the bronze and copper. I had no idea at the time that this would be necessary for the proper sintering of the steel. So yes it was a miracle. And I still wear the first Relic Wowflute around my neck everyday – because I now know how unlikely it is to have worked – and worked so well.

I was resolved to get the Relic Wowflute created and I was driven to produce a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund it and market it. Well guess what? I did it and it was a tremendous success! I raised nearly 255% of my goal. I purchased all the equipment and setup shop in my new office and went at it. The research and development aspect was a huge learning curve – it took me eight 5-9 hour firings to achieve another Mokume-gane Relic Wowflute. Eight times! It only took me twice with the prototype and no temperature control – but with the proper equipment in place it took four times as long…

I entitled this post as Resolution vs. Revolution mainly because I was typing in resolution on my iPhone and it corrected it to revolution. I realized that this was fitting and ironic. I was resolute in my desire to spend more time with my family and that led to a revolution or change to my life. A revolution is defined as “a sudden, complete or marked change in something…” ( Totally coinsides with a resolution to change something! A revolution is the action behind a resolution!

This was an eye opener for me because I did resolve and revolve. The only difference was an “s or v”.

Yes 2014 has been brilliant and has been a great learning experience for me in so many ways. I have grown in my knowledge and grown in my family relations. Since September I have had the joy of spending much more time with the people I love and care about most – my wife and children. I may be the one who goes against the society norm and loathes the rat race, but in the end I won’t have the same regrets as those who fall for that trap. I may have other regrets but who’s to say what those are?

During 2015 I resolve to being there more for my family and living and enjoying each moment as it happens – I resolve to not take advantage of the time and squander it on meaningless pursuits. Life is to be enjoyed, and I intend to enjoy it. It is a revolution.

I was reading a profound and inspired talk given in 2012 by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I suggest you take a moment and read the talk in its entirety below! It is a beautiful nudge and a good awakener for the coming new year.

Of Regrets and Resolutions

By President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

The more we devote ourselves to the pursuit of holiness and happiness, the less likely we will be on a path to regrets.

Of Regrets

President Monson, we love you. Thank you for the inspired and historic announcement on the building of new temples and missionary service. Because of them, I’m sure great blessings will come to us and to many future generations.

My dear brothers and sisters, my dear friends! We are all mortal. I hope this does not come as a surprise to anyone.

None of us will be on earth very long. We have a number of precious years which, in the eternal perspective, barely amount to the blink of an eye.

And then we depart. Our spirits “are taken home to that God who gave [us] life.” We lay our bodies down and leave behind the things of this world as we move to the next realm of our existence.

When we are young, it seems that we will live forever. We think there is a limitless supply of sunrises waiting just beyond the horizon, and the future looks to us like an unbroken road stretching endlessly before us.

However, the older we get, the more we tend to look back and marvel at how short that road really is. We wonder how the years could have passed so quickly. And we begin to think about the choices we made and the things we have done. In the process, we remember many sweet moments that give warmth to our souls and joy to our hearts. But we also remember the regrets–the things we wish we could go back and change.

A nurse who cares for the terminally ill says that she has often asked a simple question of her patients as they prepared to depart this life.

“Do you have any regrets?” she would ask.

Being so close to that final day of mortality often gives clarity to thought and provides insight and perspective. So when these people were asked about their regrets, they opened their hearts. They reflected about what they would change if only they could turn back the clock.

As I considered what they had said, it struck me how the foundational principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ can affect our life’s direction for good, if only we will apply them.

There is nothing mysterious about the principles of the gospel. We have studied them in the scriptures, we have discussed them in Sunday School, and we have heard them from the pulpit many times. These divine principles and values are straightforward and clear; they are beautiful, profound, and powerful; and they can definitely help us to avoid future regrets.

I Wish I Had Spent More Time with the People I Love

Perhaps the most universal regret dying patients expressed was that they wished they had spent more time with the people they love.

Men in particular sang this universal lament: they “deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the [daily] treadmill of … work.” Many had lost out on choice memories that come from spending time with family and friends. They missed developing a deep connection with those who meant the most to them.

Isn’t it true that we often get so busy? And, sad to say, we even wear our busyness as a badge of honor, as though being busy, by itself, was an accomplishment or sign of a superior life.

Is it?

I think of our Lord and Exemplar, Jesus Christ, and His short life among the people of Galilee and Jerusalem. I have tried to imagine Him bustling between meetings or multitasking to get a list of urgent things accomplished.

I can’t see it.

Instead I see the compassionate and caring Son of God purposefully living each day. When He interacted with those around Him, they felt important and loved. He knew the infinite value of the people He met. He blessed them, ministered to them. He lifted them up, healed them. He gave them the precious gift of His time.

In our day it is easy to merely pretend to spend time with others. With the click of a mouse, we can “connect” with thousands of “friends” without ever having to face a single one of them. Technology can be a wonderful thing, and it is very useful when we cannot be near our loved ones. My wife and I live far away from precious family members; we know how that is. However, I believe that we are not headed in the right direction, individually and as a society, when we connect with family or friends mostly by reposting humorous pictures, forwarding trivial things, or linking our loved ones to sites on the Internet. I suppose there is a place for this kind of activity, but how much time are we willing to spend on it? If we fail to give our best personal self and undivided time to those who are truly important to us, one day we will regret it.

Let us resolve to cherish those we love by spending meaningful time with them, doing things together, and cultivating treasured memories.

I Wish I Had Lived Up to My Potential

Another regret people expressed was that they failed to become the person they felt they could and should have been. When they looked back on their lives, they realized that they never lived up to their potential, that too many songs remained unsung.

I am not speaking here of climbing the ladder of success in our various professions. That ladder, no matter how lofty it may appear on this earth, barely amounts to a single step in the great eternal journey awaiting us.

Rather, I am speaking of becoming the person God, our Heavenly Father, intended us to be.

We arrive in this world, as the poet said, “trailing clouds of glory” from the premortal sphere.

Our Heavenly Father sees our real potential. He knows things about us that we do not know ourselves. He prompts us during our lifetime to fulfill the measure of our creation, to live a good life, and to return to His presence.

Why, then, do we devote so much of our time and energy to things that are so fleeting, so inconsequential, and so superficial? Do we refuse to see the folly in the pursuit of the trivial and transient?

Would it not be wiser for us to “lay up for [ourselves] treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal”?

How do we do this? By following the example of the Savior, by incorporating His teachings in our daily lives, by truly loving God and our fellowman.

We certainly cannot do this with a dragging-our-feet, staring-at-our-watch, complaining-as-we-go approach to discipleship.

When it comes to living the gospel, we should not be like the boy who dipped his toe in the water and then claimed he went swimming. As sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father, we are capable of so much more. For that, good intentions are not enough. We must do. Even more important, we must become what Heavenly Father wants us to be.

Declaring our testimony of the gospel is good, but being a living example of the restored gospel is better. Wishing to be more faithful to our covenants is good; actually being faithful to sacred covenants–including living a virtuous life, paying our tithes and offerings, keeping the Word of Wisdom, and serving those in need–is much better. Announcing that we will dedicate more time for family prayer, scripture study, and wholesome family activities is good; but actually doing all these things steadily will bring heavenly blessings to our lives.

Discipleship is the pursuit of holiness and happiness. It is the path to our best and happiest self.

Let us resolve to follow the Savior and work with diligence to become the person we were designed to become. Let us listen to and obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit. As we do so, Heavenly Father will reveal to us things we never knew about ourselves. He will illuminate the path ahead and open our eyes to see our unknown and perhaps unimagined talents.

The more we devote ourselves to the pursuit of holiness and happiness, the less likely we will be on a path to regrets. The more we rely on the Savior’s grace, the more we will feel that we are on the track our Father in Heaven has intended for us.

I Wish I Had Let Myself Be Happier

Another regret of those who knew they were dying may be somewhat surprising. They wished they had let themselves be happier.

So often we get caught up in the illusion that there is something just beyond our reach that would bring us happiness: a better family situation, a better financial situation, or the end of a challenging trial.

The older we get, the more we look back and realize that external circumstances don’t really matter or determine our happiness.

We do matter. We determine our happiness.

You and I are ultimately in charge of our own happiness.

My wife, Harriet, and I love riding our bicycles. It is wonderful to get out and enjoy the beauties of nature. We have certain routes we like to bike, but we don’t pay too much attention to how far we go or how fast we travel in comparison with other riders.

However, occasionally I think we should be a bit more competitive. I even think we could get a better time or ride at a higher speed if only we pushed ourselves a little more. And then sometimes I even make the big mistake of mentioning this idea to my wonderful wife.

Her typical reaction to my suggestions of this nature is always very kind, very clear, and very direct. She smiles and says, “Dieter, it’s not a race; it’s a journey. Enjoy the moment.”

How right she is!

Sometimes in life we become so focused on the finish line that we fail to find joy in the journey. I don’t go cycling with my wife because I’m excited about finishing. I go because the experience of being with her is sweet and enjoyable.

Doesn’t it seem foolish to spoil sweet and joyful experiences because we are constantly anticipating the moment when they will end?

Do we listen to beautiful music waiting for the final note to fade before we allow ourselves to truly enjoy it? No. We listen and connect to the variations of melody, rhythm, and harmony throughout the composition.

Do we say our prayers with only the “amen” or the end in mind? Of course not. We pray to be close to our Heavenly Father, to receive His Spirit and feel His love.

We shouldn’t wait to be happy until we reach some future point, only to discover that happiness was already available–all the time! Life is not meant to be appreciated only in retrospect. “This is the day which the Lord hath made … ,” the Psalmist wrote. “Rejoice and be glad in it.”

Brothers and sisters, no matter our circumstances, no matter our challenges or trials, there is something in each day to embrace and cherish. There is something in each day that can bring gratitude and joy if only we will see and appreciate it.

Perhaps we should be looking less with our eyes and more with our hearts. I love the quote: “One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes.”

We are commanded “to give thanks in all things.” So isn’t it better to see with our eyes and hearts even the small things we can be thankful for, rather than magnifying the negative in our current condition?

The Lord has promised, “He who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold.”

Brothers and sisters, with the bountiful blessings of our Heavenly Father, His generous plan of salvation, the supernal truths of the restored gospel, and the many beauties of this mortal journey, “have we not reason to rejoice?”

Let us resolve to be happy, regardless of our circumstances.

Of Resolutions

One day we will take that unavoidable step and cross from this mortal sphere into the next estate. One day we will look back at our lives and wonder if we could have been better, made better decisions, or used our time more wisely.

To avoid some of the deepest regrets of life, it would be wise to make some resolutions today. Therefore, let us:

•Resolve to spend more time with those we love.

•Resolve to strive more earnestly to become the person God wants us to be.

•Resolve to find happiness, regardless of our circumstances.

It is my testimony that many of the deepest regrets of tomorrow can be prevented by following the Savior today. If we have sinned or made mistakes–if we have made choices that we now regret–there is the precious gift of Christ’s Atonement, through which we can be forgiven. We cannot go back in time and change the past, but we can repent. The Savior can wipe away our tears of regret and remove the burden of our sins. His Atonement allows us to leave the past behind and move forward with clean hands, a pure heart, and a determination to do better and especially to become better.

Yes, this life is passing swiftly; our days seem to fade quickly; and death appears frightening at times. Nevertheless, our spirit will continue to live and will one day be united with our resurrected body to receive immortal glory. I bear solemn witness that because of the merciful Christ, we will all live again and forever. Because of our Savior and Redeemer, one day we will truly understand and rejoice in the meaning of the words “the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ.”

The path toward fulfilling our divine destiny as sons and daughters of God is an eternal one. My dear brothers and sisters, dear friends, we must begin to walk that eternal path today; we cannot take for granted one single day. I pray that we will not wait until we are ready to die before we truly learn to live. In the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.

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100 Million Just in Our Galaxy!

This morning I was reading about Carl Sagan and how he has influenced the scientific world with starting SETI. I also was thinking how naive it is for some people to think that we are the only form of intelligent life in the universe. Take a moment and read through this article!  Our galaxy is dinky in the grand scheme of the universe!

100 Million Worlds

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Utah UFO Fest


This is a shot I got at night with my bro while we were passing through Ely, Nevada. It was somewhat strange that the road leading out of town lead to complete blackness after the streetlights faded.

I am excited to be a Co-Founder of Utah’s first UFO Fest that will be held in Cedar City next August 19-23rd, 2015.

It amazes me how much evidence that is readily available that shows there is a real anomaly occurring all over the world that is not fully recognized or understood. Many people in Utah think of the UFO question as taboo or as a means to take advantage of the misinformed. This is why we are planning the UFO fest. To get people to talk about the topic in a public discussion that hopefully will not feel out of place.

Can’t wait to go to UFO Congress down in Tucson, AZ this February!


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How I got my Kickstarter funded

The Relic Wowflute - Funding till this Saturday!


Many people dream of creating something awesome but think they do not have the resources to do it.  I am one of those people.  I dream of creating all sorts of awesome products – and now I have the resources to do it every time.

I was introduced to Kickstarter back in 2012 in a marketing class that I took from Ellen Treanor at SUU.  We surfed Kickstarter in class and found lots of cool products that were not yet on the market.  This is when I decided that I would use Kickstarter as a marketing tool to spread the word about my product the Wowflute.

While attending SUU I also decided I no longer wanted to get a specific degree that I had to jump through hoops for.  I was on course for a general studies degree with a focus on Engineering Technology.  When I started taking classes in what I wanted it was eye opening and such a better way to go through college.  As a capstone project I chose to design a 3D printed version of my popular Wowflute.  I designed a makeshift one and got it 3D printed and it worked quite well.  I got a good grade and graduated in the spring of 2012.

In early 2013, I finally decided to pursue my Wowflutes on a full-time basis and decided to kick-start my first manufactured product on Kickstarter.  I spent many long hours describing the product and the process and figuring out rewards levels.  I had my brother-in-law make a short video and I posted the Kickstarter and then went on family vacation to Disneyland.  I was somewhat naive when it cam to crowdfunding and I figured once the content was up that was that.  Needless to say my project did really well the first three days and the last three days but was completely dead in terms of backers in the middle of a 30 day project.  I came only halfway to reaching my goal of $4,500.

I was somewhat perplexed as to why I didn’t reach the goal so I decided to relaunch the project for only one week.   I also lowered the goal to $2,000.  I still had access to all the backers of the original campaign, so after the relaunch I asked them all to come back and back the project again.  They did and to my amazement, my project was funded within two days.  This put the project on the radar of more backers because it landed in the popular section and was easy to find throughout the campaign.  I ended up getting it funded at about 172% of the goal of $2,000 which was very close to my original project goal.  During the week of the relaunch I also spent every waking moment pushing the link everywhere on facebook, twitter, instagram, and other social media sites.  That is how I got my Kickstarter funded the first time.

Since this learning experience I have tried to look at Kickstarter as a great marketing tool for projects rather than a crowdfunding platform.  Having a Kickstarter really pushes you to get the word out and to spread links everywhere for your project.  It really is a lot of work, but it’s very beneficial especially when your project is a success.  But even if your project draws only a small audience do not dismiss that audience!  Those backers are interested in your project and you should keep them in the loop.

My most recent Kickstarter Project for the Relic Wowflute has been very similar to my first campaign I ever did.  I pushed and pushed links everywhere and attempted to write blog entries and create some good content outside of kickstarter to point back to the project.  The funding went really well for about two weeks and then the curve flatlined.  It was odd because I had been getting a lot of traffic and the flatline was sudden at around 54% funded.  I had a loyal backer that suggested making a mokume-gane swirl Relic out of Gold and Iron but I had not done a whole lot of research with gold and was reluctant to work with such an expensive material.

After much deliberation I decided to cancel the project three days before it ended.  I had done some research and found I could save quite a bit of money on the project by making some of the needed equipment myself.  So I relaunched almost immediately with the goal cut by half to $2,500 and offered the Gold version as a much anticipated new reward.  I also went with a shortened project time of one week.  The response was phenomenal and the project was funded by one backer who went for the gold.  I was taken aback.  I learned to listen and apply suggestions from backers especially when they are very specific ones.

My Kickstarter project this time around is currently at around 225% funded with a good four days remaining.  I am grateful for the loyal backers that came back even though I canceled the first time around.  Is Kickstarter easy? No.  Does it take tons of work? Yes. Anyone whom thinks that Kickstarter is a way for people to get handouts is kidding themselves – it is not a money grab.  I plan on launching every new Wowflute Designs project on Kickstarter in the future, mainly because it works and pushes me to build an audience for each and every product.  That is how I got my Kickstarter funded.

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Mokume-Gane – Wood Grain Metal


This morning I have been researching the art of Japanese Mokume-Gane, pronounced moe-koo-may gah-nay.  Mokume-Gane literally translates to Wood Eye-Metal.  This represents it’s similarities to wood grain.  While doing research I came across an extensive history of Mokume-Gane by James E. Binnion who has mastered the art in his jewelry pieces.

The Mokume-Gane process was invented by a Denbei Shoami (1651-1728) who was a master smith from Akita prefecture Japan.

Mokume-Gane Ring by James Binnion Metal Arts

I have been making many Mokume-Gane style Swirl Wowflutes by mixing many different colors of polymer clay such as Sculpey III, Fimo, and Premo brands.  I take four or so different colors of clay and roll them out into “snakes” which I then twist together to form what looks like a giant candycane.  I then divide this cane in half, into fourths, eighths, and sixteenth equal segments.  Each segment is then rolled and twisted into itself until a desired design is achieved.  I then proceed to take each ball and make it into a pinchpot bowl with a bit of extra clay left at the bottom.  Since I have been making these Swirl Wowflutes for almost 10 years, my fingers are accustomed to the required thickness to make the chamber the right size.  The top rim of the mini-bowl is then carefully closed off and is shaped into the mouthpiece.  I then shape this hollow form into the kidney shape the produces the best tone.  At this stage I stamp the flute and tune each one in relation to the inner chamber size.  I almost enjoy making the different colors as much as I do making and tuning the flute.  If the color mixture isn’t right I will smash a perfectly tuned flute.  I am also quite reluctant to smash a nice swirl design even if the sound of the flute isn’t the greatest.

I am really excited to pursue metalwork and I feel this is the direction that Wowflute Designs is headed.  Clay is very versatile, but metal has intrinsic value where clay does not.  I have always been a coin collector and have been interested in the minting process since I was a child.  I still have my original coin collection which includes tons of wheat pennies, and drummer back quarters (bicentennial).  I think this fascination with coins and making something that lasts more than a lifetime is the drive that keeps me pursuing metalwork and combining it with my popular Wowflutes!

Mokume-Gane has so many similarities to my current flutes made out of clay.  I can’t wait to learn more about this Japanese method while creating awesome Relic Wowflutes!

I will keep this blog updated as I delve deeper into the art and science of Metalwork!  Thanks for following.

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Link Finds the Relic

Pocket Ocarina lets you play like Link wherever you go!

Today I was thinking about all the things that have inspired me as a flute maker.  The most influential people would have to be my High School Ceramics teachers Suzi Gonzales and Brian Jensen.  Brian gave me a sheet on how to make whistles out of clay and I was mesmerized! Suzi put up with loud shrieking sounds as I added some kind of whistle or flute to every assignment for three years.

I have to give credit where credit is due: Link the main playable character in the Nintendo game Zelda was a huge inspiration.  I had a friend that said I should make an ocarina like the one in Zelda: Ocarina of Time which I proceeded to do.

I also had the Gameboy game Zelda: Links Awakening which was an intense game that incorporated all sorts of instruments.  Link always carried an ocarina in his gear to play tunes on that would carry him to certain places depending on the tune.  It was also pivotal in completing the game because Link used the ocarina to wake the windfish after all the nightmares had been destroyed.

So, yes the Nintendo Zelda games have been very influential in the creation of Wowflutes.  So I have included a short little animation with a song from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (Lost Woods) played in the background on the Relic Wowflute.  Just learned this song today!

Link Finds the Relic!

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Jump off the Cliff already


“Jump off the cliff, and build your wings on the way down.” – Ray Bradbury

This morning I came across this quote by Ray Bradbury.  I have read many of his books but I have never heard this saying of his.  I completely agree with it.  There is no good time to start until you start.  Jumping off a cliff is a great metaphor because it is something that we as humans have an innate fear of.  I remember my first time repelling as a boy scout.  The anticipation of the repel was the worst.  Hiking up around the backside of the hill knowing that I would be dangling 60-80 feet in the air was exciting, exhilarating, and terrifying at the same time.  I was with experienced individuals that knew what they were doing but they were not the one making the decisions as they told me to put my back to the edge of the cliff and lean out into the void nothingness.  My heart skipped and thumped wildly at the prospect of depending on a small rounded nylon cord for my life and enjoyment.

At the edge of the cliff, the fears come flowing all at once – everything you have ever been told about falling to your death, screams squelched inside.  Then you take that leap of faith and lean into the strength of the rope and become horizontal with the wall of the cliff.  It’s an amazing experience.  The cliff wall then becomes your stomping ground.  Once you have breached the threshold all the fear dissipates.  The fear wasn’t real, it was just there to stop you from acting.  Now that you have done it the fear has failed in it’s purpose to hold you back.

I am in no way suggesting you jump off the cliff without a thorough knowledge and understanding of the pros and cons.  But in reality, one learns the most through doing.  Jump off the cliff, and build your wings on the way down.  We all are at different points in our life, and I think we reach many cliff edges all the time.  Mini fears that keep us from achieving awesomeness.  I would say eighty percent of the time people shirk because of the fear.  The mere twenty percent that take the plunge find out they weren’t at all prepared, but they are better for doing it.

I was never prepared to leave a good paying job to pursue my desires of making my ideas and ideals a reality.  I was never prepared to have to depend on others so much.  I was never prepared to jump off the cliff, and I don’t think anyone is.  But the reality of knowing what I know now and being what I am now has convinced me that I will jump every time in a split second.

Become a backer of my Kickstarter – The Relic Wowflute today!

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Playing the Relic in the Desert

Selfie in the Desert

My family and I took a trip down to Mesa, AZ to visit family and we had a blast!  We always drive straight through but this time we took a few days to travel down.  With Four kiddos, five and under, long trips seem to be longer.  We have to stop for potty breaks, diaper changes, and snacks.

The Relic goes everywhere with me!

Fortunately many of those stops entailed beautiful desert vistas including the 54 miles along US Route 93 northwest of Phoenix between the historic mining town of Wickenburg and the tiny town of Wikieup.  Here the Joshua Forest Scenic Parkway crosses the blurred boundary between the Sonoran and Mojave deserts in western Arizona.

I played the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly on the Relic Wowflute and got a few crazy pictures! We also stopped by the famous Nothing, AZ which is now something – they have installed a large cell-tower just behind the landmark, dilapidated Nothing sign.

Thanks to all our backers so far for sharing our project! We are now almost 50% funded with ten days to go!  I am confident that We can get this project funded and I can get to making some awesome Relic Wowflutes!

Nothing, AZ is Something Now

Joshua Forest Scenery

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Don’t Become a Chunky Prairie Dog

My wife and I had the opportunity to visit The Sonoran Desert Museum in Tuscon, AZ a few years back.  While there we came across the Prairie Dog “exhibit”.

It was hilarious, we had a good laugh while we took these pictures.  The holes in the ground for their dens were massive, and I am sure they didn’t do the digging as their paws looked useless with curled claws…  What we took from this was that yes, their life was easy – but was it?  In actuality it was probably very hard for them to be in that environment.  Nothing to do but eat, sleep, and sit there.  They weren’t happy.  They weren’t empowered to create for themselves because they were in bondage – not free to create their surroundings and defend their burrows that they worked especially hard at.

I think much happiness and fulfillment comes from an ability to accomplish a task and create something useful.  Bringing a product to market takes much creativity and once accomplished brings much fulfillment and happiness to not only the creators but all those who benefit from its use in their lives.

My wife and I have been thinking a lot lately on what makes a product and brand popular (maybe more me!).  I have studied many examples including Walt Disney and Apple and the creative abilities of Steve Jobs and Walt Disney.

One of the main reasons their products were so successful is because they were trained towards optimism and looking at failure as opportunities.  When they hit walls, whether it be financial or otherwise, rather than stopping, they found a way over, under, through, or around with creativity.

Being human is also having the innate desire and ability to create.  Creativity as defined by is “The ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, originality, progressiveness, or imagination.”

I think creativity hits the target for both Walt Disney and Steve Jobs.  The word create means to cause to come into being, as something unique that would not naturally evolve or that is not made by ordinary processes.

Our goal and the “Why” here at Wowflutes is to instill and inspire others to create!  By creating a simple product, the Wowflute, that can be carried anywhere, and is easily played with a unique, simplified, fingering method, one can create music wherever they may be.

You, our customer will be inspired to not only create music but to look at your own ability to create and bring about ways to conquer the walls placed in your path.  That is what we are striving for.  To awaken those who are sleeping giants – the next Steve Jobs or Walt Disney could be you!

Anyways, those are our rambling thoughts for today.  Have a great day and find something to create!