Friday, September 13, 2013

The Second Wife

Last Thursday was like most of my days lately. I teach at 8am and again at 4pm. You'd think I could get my Friday class prep done in between but there is always something else that takes precedent. So I usually end up wrapping up my prep for my Friday class Thursday night. Don't judge. This is the way lots of professors end up planning classes they're teaching for the first time.  But my evening prep time was shortened because I was invited to a faculty dinner with a medical program rep. This isn't the kind of invitation you turn down as a new faculty member. And don't get me wrong, I had a great time and really enjoyed dinner, my company, and the conversation.  But I had to text Patrick and tell him whenever I got home from dinner I'd have to go to work in the office. 

Needless to say, I've been feeling really guilty about the long hours I put in, sacrificing time with Patrick on evenings and weekends. And last Thursday night really epitomized this feeling.  So you can imaging my relief when I walked through the door 10 hours after I left that morning, and I saw that the second wife had arrived. Football season started last Thursday night. I don't feel so bad about my long hours, now Patrick has the comforting companionship of his second wife, the NFL. Very few wives will probably agree with me on this, but the football season arrived just in time. 


More Perks

I knew coming into this new job I'd be working a lot, but despite not being surprised, it can be draining to work a full day only to come home and put in 2-3 more hours. This is just the way it is. I'm not a workaholic, I've just chosen a profession that's time demanding in the beginning. I'm expecting this to last at least through the first two semesters.  But my workload isn't the focus of tis post. Nope, hang on tight. I'm about to relate additional perks of working and living and Texarkana, and being a professor at a small east Texas university:

1.) FREE iPad. A colleague had an extra one left over from a grant and guess who benefitted from that. Yours truly (and Patrick by default).

2.) FREE nice dinner. A rep from a medical program came in last week and took all the biology faulty out to dinner (at my favorite restaurant here). 

3.) It's very conservative here, which I appreciate for very few reasons.  But one of the reasons is that at the faculty dinner  not a single drop of alcohol was ordered. This is something new but welcomed to me. Most semi professional/social academic dinners I've attended in the past usually involved my colleagues drinking. We'll see if this occurrence turns into a trend.

4.) Shopping at Wal
Mart in east Texas always provides for some very interesting people watching. In Dallas I avoided Walmart as much as possible, but here choices are very limited, as is my current budget. 

5.) Students at my university are the most polite students I've ever worked with. Everything is yes ma'am, no ma'am. And being a smaller school it seems they mostly all want to be here. Also, smaller classes means I can get to know my students better. I nice change from teaching the masses at UNT. 

6.) At work I'm surrounded by other transplants to Texarkana. Talking with them and musing over the different culture here is a pleasant relief; to know I'm not alone here feeling a little out of place. I've met another professor whose invited Patrick and I into a group who get together for "cultural interventions". The upcoming meeting is "Indian Summer" dinner party.

We're still getting accustomed to our new town, but it's getting better and a little easier. Church last week was much better than the first week. More and more people are introducing themselves and we had great conversations with other members and our bishop. Everyone seems so happy to have us here. This last Sunday I had tears of joy instead of sadness. Little steps. 


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Starting a New Chapter in Our Lives

I'm officially resurrecting this blog I started years ago.  I've moved away from my family and friends to start a new chapter of my life, so I'm going to use this blog as a platform to keep my friends and family up to date on my and Patrick's life.

So to catch you all up since my last post, I finished my PhD in environmental science at the University of North Texas (UNT).  I graduated in August of 2012, but started looking for work the January before that.  It took over a year and a half, applying for over 90 jobs, and reading rejection letter after rejection letter, but I finally found the job I always wanted.  I am now the Assistant Professor of Environmental Science at Texas A&M University-Texarkana.  They've hired me to develop environmental science courses, which will eventually lead to me developing a minor and possibly major in environmental science.  I am the ONLY environmental professor here, a fact I take pride in.  They wanted ME.  My university is a small, student and teaching oriented school which is perfect for me.  I'm thrilled to be here with Patrick.  After praying and fasting for so long as to where we were supposed to go and what we were supposed to do, we finally go the answer.

And when the answer came, it really came.  Everything lined up so well with the job, Patrick's work and his potential for coaching triathlon out here, the move, selling/renting our house in Lewisville (3 hours to the west), and the landscape and area we moved to is so fitting for Patrick and I.  It's gorgeous out here.  There's more natural areas and there are tall trees and woods everywhere.  I've always been a bit unsatisfied living on what I called the concrete island which is Dallas.

So we've left Dallas behind, and though I'm happy to be in an area with more trees, less traffic, and more natural areas, we miss some key things about Dallas.  Namely our family and friends.  You know who you are.  I miss you all at different times.  Sunday afternoon I miss my ward family and my best friends Erika and Chad.  Sunday nights I miss my family.  Saturdays and week nights when I'm working I miss my friends from back home, because we would otherwise be hanging out with you.  

But it will be okay.  We'll make new friends, not better friends, just new friends.  And we will always come home to Dallas and to our friends and family there.

Now that that's out of the way.  Here are a few tidbits about our new town you all might find interesting:
  • Life operates at a different pace here.  No one is in a rush and sometimes it feels like I'm talking to "Mountain Man" on Duck Dynasty
  • And speaking of Duck Dynasty, we are much closer to that culture now..
  • For example: Our church ward here has a Elders Quorum event next Saturday. In Dallas we usually had picnics with softball or volleyball.  Here they go skeet shooting
  • People here don't like shoes.  I've walked into stores an seen customers and workers without shoes on.
  • There are NO sidewalks.  I've found two trails which are less than a quarter of a mile. 
  • There are so many cicadas here.  I've never seen this many.
That's all for now.  Stay tuned for more updates on life in the eastern most corner of Texas that is my home now.
     

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

From the deep

Like the oil welling up from the floor of the ocean in the Gulf of Mexico, I too am trying to surface from the depths of silence on this blog. Life has gotten in the way of many fun past-times of mine and unfortunately this blog is the first to be cut loose. So here is my attempt to resurrect my online thoughts and stimulate yours.

You might have heard that during my trip to St. George for Patrick's Ironman I had my environmentalists' card revoked for not instinctively knowing how to drive/start a Prius. It's not a simple as turning the key (there is no key to turn). So I now am on my long journey to redeem myself as a true green environmentalist. In this light, I'll admit that I have trouble fathoming and understanding the scale of the size of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. So if you're like me here is a nice link to a few maps that have over-layed the spill onto maps of familiar metropolitan areas.

I found that when it's put into perspective like this it's hard to deny or overlook this catastrophe. I don't post this to be the fear-mongering environmentalist, but rather to help everyone have a perspective for this event. Only with understanding will there ever be action on any important matter.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Price is Rigth Auditions in Hurst on Saturday

For anyone who may be interested, CBS' The Price is Right will hold auditions from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Carpet One Flooring Outlet Warehouse, 825 Airport Freeway in Hurst. The show is conducting a national contestant search for the first time in the show's history. Applicants should bring a completed application and eligibility forms that can be found at www.cbs11tv.com/contests. Three contestants will attend a taping of the show and one of those three will receive a bidder's spot on Contestants' Row.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Anonymous advice for living life to the fullest

"Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass... it's about learning
how to dance in the rain."

— Anonymous

Monday, August 17, 2009

Health Insurance Reform Reality Check

There seems to be a great deal of rumors circulating the internet and in town halls regarding the health care reform. Below are the facts directly from the Senior Advisor of the President, David Axelrod. If you are interested read up and become well-informed about this critical issue. I know this is a long post but it's very difficult to boil-down this complex of a issue.

Health Insurance Reform Reality Check
8 ways reform provides security and stability to those with or without coverage
  1. Ends Discrimination for Pre-Existing Conditions: Insurance companies will be prohibited from refusing you coverage because of your medical history.
  2. Ends Exorbitant Out-of-Pocket Expenses, Deductibles or Co-Pays: Insurance companies will have to abide by yearly caps on how much they can charge for out-of-pocket expenses.
  3. Ends Cost-Sharing for Preventive Care: Insurance companies must fully cover, without charge, regular checkups and tests that help you prevent illness, such as mammograms or eye and foot exams for diabetics.
  4. Ends Dropping of Coverage for Seriously Ill: Insurance companies will be prohibited from dropping or watering down insurance coverage for those who become seriously ill.
  5. Ends Gender Discrimination: Insurance companies will be prohibited from charging you more because of your gender.
  6. Ends Annual or Lifetime Caps on Coverage: Insurance companies will be prevented from placing annual or lifetime caps on the coverage you receive.
  7. Extends Coverage for Young Adults: Children would continue to be eligible for family coverage through the age of 26.
  8. Guarantees Insurance Renewal: Insurance companies will be required to renew any policy as long as the policyholder pays their premium in full. Insurance companies won't be allowed to refuse renewal because someone became sick.
Learn more and get details: http://www.whitehouse.gov/health-insurance-consumer-protections/?e=11&ref=hicp

8 common myths about health insurance reform
  1. Reform will stop "rationing" - not increase it: It’s a myth that reform will mean a "government takeover" of health care or lead to "rationing." To the contrary, reform will forbid many forms of rationing that are currently being used by insurance companies.
  2. We can’t afford reform: It's the status quo we can't afford. It’s a myth that reform will bust the budget. To the contrary, the President has identified ways to pay for the vast majority of the up-front costs by cutting waste, fraud, and abuse within existing government health programs; ending big subsidies to insurance companies; and increasing efficiency with such steps as coordinating care and streamlining paperwork. In the long term, reform can help bring down costs that will otherwise lead to a fiscal crisis.
  3. Reform would encourage "euthanasia": It does not. It’s a malicious myth that reform would encourage or even require euthanasia for seniors. For seniors who want to consult with their family and physicians about end-of life decisions, reform will help to cover these voluntary, private consultations for those who want help with these personal and difficult family decisions.
  4. Vets' health care is safe and sound: It’s a myth that health insurance reform will affect veterans' access to the care they get now. To the contrary, the President's budget significantly expands coverage under the VA, extending care to 500,000 more veterans who were previously excluded. The VA Healthcare system will continue to be available for all eligible veterans.
  5. Reform will benefit small business - not burden it: It’s a myth that health insurance reform will hurt small businesses. To the contrary, reform will ease the burdens on small businesses, provide tax credits to help them pay for employee coverage and help level the playing field with big firms who pay much less to cover their employees on average.
  6. Your Medicare is safe, and stronger with reform: It’s myth that Health Insurance Reform would be financed by cutting Medicare benefits. To the contrary, reform will improve the long-term financial health of Medicare, ensure better coordination, eliminate waste and unnecessary subsidies to insurance companies, and help to close the Medicare "doughnut" hole to make prescription drugs more affordable for seniors.
  7. You can keep your own insurance: It’s myth that reform will force you out of your current insurance plan or force you to change doctors. To the contrary, reform will expand your choices, not eliminate them.
  8. No, government will not do anything with your bank account: It is an absurd myth that government will be in charge of your bank accounts. Health insurance reform will simplify administration, making it easier and more convenient for you to pay bills in a method that you choose. Just like paying a phone bill or a utility bill, you can pay by traditional check, or by a direct electronic payment. And forms will be standardized so they will be easier to understand. The choice is up to you – and the same rules of privacy will apply as they do for all other electronic payments that people make.
Learn more and get details:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/realitycheck/?e=11&ref=myth1
http://www.whitehouse.gov/realitycheck/faq/?e=11&ref=myth1

8 Reasons We Need Health Insurance Reform Now
  1. Coverage Denied to Millions: A recent national survey estimated that 12.6 million non-elderly adults – 36 percent of those who tried to purchase health insurance directly from an insurance company in the individual insurance market – were in fact discriminated against because of a pre-existing condition in the previous three years or dropped from coverage when they became seriously ill. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/denied_coverage/index.html
  2. Less Care for More Costs: With each passing year, Americans are paying more for health care coverage. Employer-sponsored health insurance premiums have nearly doubled since 2000, a rate three times faster than wages. In 2008, the average premium for a family plan purchased through an employer was $12,680, nearly the annual earnings of a full-time minimum wage job. Americans pay more than ever for health insurance, but get less coverage. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/hiddencosts/index.html
  3. Roadblocks to Care for Women: Women’s reproductive health requires more regular contact with health care providers, including yearly pap smears, mammograms, and obstetric care. Women are also more likely to report fair or poor health than men (9.5% versus 9.0%). While rates of chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure are similar to men, women are twice as likely to suffer from headaches and are more likely to experience joint, back or neck pain. These chronic conditions often require regular and frequent treatment and follow-up care. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/women/index.html
  4. Hard Times in the Heartland: Throughout rural America, there are nearly 50 million people who face challenges in accessing health care. The past several decades have consistently shown higher rates of poverty, mortality, uninsurance, and limited access to a primary health care provider in rural areas. With the recent economic downturn, there is potential for an increase in many of the health disparities and access concerns that are already elevated in rural communities. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/hardtimes/
  5. Small Businesses Struggle to Provide Health Coverage: Nearly one-third of the uninsured – 13 million people – are employees of firms with less than 100 workers. From 2000 to 2007, the proportion of non-elderly Americans covered by employer-based health insurance fell from 66% to 61%. Much of this decline stems from small business. The percentage of small businesses offering coverage dropped from 68% to 59%, while large firms held stable at 99%. About a third of such workers in firms with fewer than 50 employees obtain insurance through a spouse. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/helpbottomline/
  6. The Tragedies are Personal: Half of all personal bankruptcies are at least partly the result of medical expenses. The typical elderly couple may have to save nearly $300,000 to pay for health costs not covered by Medicare alone. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/inaction/
  7. Diminishing Access to Care: From 2000 to 2007, the proportion of non-elderly Americans covered by employer-based health insurance fell from 66% to 61%. An estimated 87 million people - one in every three Americans under the age of 65 - were uninsured at some point in 2007 and 2008. More than 80% of the uninsured are in working families. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/inaction/diminishing/index.html
  8. The Trends are Troubling: Without reform, health care costs will continue to skyrocket unabated, putting unbearable strain on families, businesses, and state and federal government budgets. Perhaps the most visible sign of the need for health care reform is the 46 million Americans currently without health insurance - projections suggest that this number will rise to about 72 million in 2040 in the absence of reform. Learn more: http://www.whitehouse.gov/assets/documents/CEA_Health_Care_Report.pdf?e=11&ref=report