Posted by: Bonnie Anderson | September 21, 2011

More About Bob

Hi, I'm Bob

There is no shortage of Bobs out there.  How about Bob the Builder – “Can we fix it?  Yes we can.”  Or Bob the Tomato – “I’m Bob.  I’m a tomato and I’m here to help you.”  This is Part II of What About Bob?  which introduces you a little to my Bob.  My husband Bob is an engineer, but not the real kind.  He doesn’t drive a train.  This was always confusing to our children when they were young.  Most children haven’t a clue what their father does at work all day long, but him being an engineer that didn’t drive a train frankly seemed to disappoint them.  I remember one of my sons telling us he wanted to be an engineer when he grew up, then adding, “but not one like Dad – a real one.”  Ouch!

For Christmas one year Bob made a tent for the kids.  It was a miniature version of one that he had designed for his employer, a defense contractor.  The one he designed for work was literally large enough for a tank to be driven into it.  It was an expandable shelter system providing collective protection against nuclear fallout and chemical and biological elements.  He even was awarded a patent on it.  (Yes, he’s brilliant and I’m proud of him.)  In hindsight, it’s probably one of those things that no family should be without.  So now the kids thought their dad was a tent maker.  They understood him, for a little while anyway.  We let them revel in their knowledge of their dad’s occupation.  I think they enjoyed the fact that he was like the Apostle Paul.  They both loved God and made tents.

Bob surprising the kids with a tent that sets up in seconds, which he made

As time passed, we had an idea to help confuse the children again.  We decided that I should take them to Bob’s office so they could see where it was he went everyday and a little of what he did.  He had shifted from his tent making responsibilities and was now  working on night vision systems.  He showed them the cool infra-red camara that detected heat.  He aimed it at different things around the room so they could observe the difference.  Then he aimed it at them so they could see they generated heat, this was evident especially in our youngest who had just supplied a warm, wet diaper for the demonstration.  Now that was something the older kids could enjoy.  So now their dad was a weird non-train-driving engineer, a tent maker and a photographer of sorts.  It’s funny, none of them has followed in his footsteps.

Bob’s jobs got more and more interesting.  When that company sold their defense division in 1995, he began some new non-train-driving engineering adventures.  This is where Fecal Bob comes in, but don’t get ahead of me here.  Bob worked for a company in the late 90s that was (sort of) in the cattle business.  One side of this was the development of a way to keep cows from being stressed – something I could have used at home for myself as I raised our four children.  The idea here in a nutshell is that a calm cow makes for a tender steak.  Now if you’re a cow and you hang around the cattle feed lots, you have a stress level that is through the roof.  Cows ask questions like, “Where’s Bessie today?” and the answers are low, mournful moos as Bessie’s cowbell no longer rings throughout the land.  The remedy was to de-stress the cows with an additive to their feed so that they wouldn’t get all crazy right before they had a bolt shot through their head and were slaughtered.  Sorry, the truth hurts here.  This may have been what the Chick-fil-A Cows refer to when they beg us to eat more chicken.

The other side of this job involved the development of fecal detection devices for slaughter houses and beyond.  Bob traveled to several of these houses studying how to calm the cows and testing the detection device, which was an imaging (camera, i.e. more photography) system that made poop fluoresce.  As you can imagine when they slaughter cattle on a hot day with a fan going, well, you know.  It gets messy.

My children and I became a little more familiar with this than I would have preferred.  I eventually had to ban them from asking their dad about his work day at the dinner table.  Like many people, he had to bring work home sometimes.  I remember one particularly disturbing “training” video he had to watch before traveling.  Bob’s mistake was viewing it in the living room while I was preparing dinner and the children were running blissfully through the house.  All I can say is it wasn’t pretty…not pretty at all.  There were plenty of screams and gagging noises going on during the video, most of which were coming from me.

At work there were freezers full of feces.  The feces would arrive at their plant from feed lots all over the country.  It traveled packed in ice in styrofoam coolers like the ones you would find transporting live organs.  I kid you not.  Bob and his workmates would purchase meat from the local grocer and rub feces on it.  This was part of the testing to refine the poop flourescing procedure (the PFP) in an effort to detect even the smallest poop particle (PP).  My sons were particularly proud of their dad and his work with poop.  It was, in fact, one of them that asked if people at the office called him Fecal Bob.  Bob made the mistake of telling the story to his fellow employees.  Of course in doing so, he really put his foot in it, and the name stuck (pun intended).

When the market did its big plummet around the year 1999, poop detection also started to go down the toilet.  God graciously moved Bob to a job working on eye surgery equipment.  From that time until now he has worked with lasers, either in the medical field or more recently for the defense industry.  The only downside of this type of work is that most of it is way over my pay grade and it doesn’t lend itself to amusing stories, but he loves it.  He is an extremely hard-working guy and I am incredibly blessed to have him for my husband.

So there you go, if you’re ever in our area, come over for dinner and we’ll tell you more…if you dare.



  1. We’d be glad to come over for dinner, um, just don’t serve us steak, okay? 🙂 Once again you made me LOL. I love this post – great job!

    • Thanks, Debi. When you get back in town we’ll schedule that dinner.

  2. Thanks for the laugh this morning! What a great memory – funny how us moms have so many poop related memories, glad yours are a little less messy than a few of mine 🙂

    • Thanks, Lisa. Yes – poop is life. One of my kids started saying that word so much when he was two that we had to make it a forbidden word. He’s all grown up now and still likes that word (don’t tell please).

  3. Ah, yes, the problem with engineers, their work, and their families…
    I certainly understand.
    One day- when we’re all inebriated- we should get together and tell tales. Between colon lavage, waste-to-fuel, brain surgery, commode design, etc. we can extend our lives for decades (using the concept that laughter extends our lives by hours and days…)

    • Now you understand when sometimes I tell you I share your stuff with my husband. He doesn’t read many blogs (except mine of course) but I know some of your stuff is right up his alley so I just send it along to him. And that story telling time would be interesting for sure. I find I have as much in common with the wives of engineers as Bob has in common with the engineers. We should start a club.

  4. i remember playing in that tent. but at the time i don’t think i had any idea he made it!! wow!!!

    • Yep, he really can do just about anything. Dena takes after him in that way. I’m glad I was able to stir up a childhood memory for you. I sure have great memories of all you kids playing in the yards. What an amazing set-up it was and a tremendous blessing that continues today with great friendships.

  5. […] More About Bob – part two of this series! […]

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