When people see this picture, they always ask the same thing: “What’s with the hat?” It’s an excellent question, even if it’s the most obvious one about the photo. Unfortunately, the hat, a 1970s vintage agricultural model, was only loaned to me–the farm wouldn’t even entertain an offer to buy it.

The farm did, however, generously give me the arm sleeve as a souvenir. After several cleanings, it now hangs decoratively on our family room wall. One of the kids wanted to use it as a stocking for Christmas, but sometimes, you gotta draw the line.

Whenever I’m asked what inspired me to write the business satire novel, Buzz Kill, I return to the experience of my first pregnancy test on a dairy cow. She was a terrific sport, though she had to get doped up first (see syringe in picture), not that I blame her. It wasn’t all fun and games for me either, as my expression shows. But I must say, it was far more enjoyable than many corporate meetings over my career. My bovine friend, who admittedly had a more challenging role in the process, said it reminded her of human resource training. Thus the inspiration to lampoon human resources and political correctness in Buzz Kill.

Just an aside: this experience inspired the creation of a laboratory bovine pregnancy test developed by IDEXX Laboratories, a veterinarian biotech company in Maine. You can’t pick it up at a Walgreen’s and it doesn’t have a smiley face for a positive test, but it’s a lot easier on the arms.