Category Archives: Family

First Week of New Term (pt. 1)

About a week and half ago, classes began at Wayland.  I have also started my one day a week position at Texas Tech.  For those who may not know, I took a bit of a sabbatical from teaching, without knowing at the time that it was a sabbatical.  It had been my intention to try my hand at full time research.  A few of things motivated my leave from Wayland last May:

  1. I enjoyed research both as a graduate student and during my two summer post-doc positions so it seemed natural that I would enjoy more research. I was often frustrated during the school year by constantly having to put my “deep thinking” on hold for class, lecture development, one-on-one student tutorials, exam grading, etc.  If I wanted to do “real” research I was going to need a full-time position to commit the necessary time.
  2. I had never had a full-time research position before so I didn’t know if it was something I would truly enjoy.  Having started my full-time position at Wayland just after the completion of my Master’s, I lacked any experience as a researcher other than, again, part time research with the constant interruption of my teaching responsibilities.
  3. The time was now.  If I was going to move my career in the direction of research, I needed to try it now.  Nobody would hire a Ph.D. who hadn’t been doing research for years and who hadn’t taken the opportunity to pursue a post-doc position immediately after graduation.  I didn’t want to look back later, perhaps during a mid-life crisis, and wonder, “What If?”

I took a position as a Bioinformacist at the level of a Post-Doctoral Research Associate in a new lab at Texas Tech University.  The lab was set up by Dr. Thea A. Wilkins who had recently been hired by Tech and who has a pretty significant standing in the world of cotton genetics research.  I took the position expecting to be a part of her lab for two to three years.  At the end of that time, I would evaluate my career options and determine if research was for me, if I ought to return to teaching, or if I should seek a position with a mix of the two. As is now obvious since I am back a Wayland, I learned a few interesting things about research and about myself during the 6 months in this position, things that have rekindled my passion for mathematics education.

  1. Bioinformatics research, particularly data mining and database construction, do not motivate novel research, at least not for me.  I honestly believe that the skills of using statistical analysis for obtaining biological knowledge from the current high-throughput technologies is not an area that will remain as a primary research field for long.  As I have read more than once, this kind of bioinformaticist will soon be relegated to the position of technician, perhaps as a microscopist has become.  It will be a specialized set of skills that fit within the larger context of molecular biology and functional genomics, but not as an active field of research in its own right.
  2. Successful research demands passion complete with a time commitment beyond my capacity as a family man.  I’m sure there are a few select individuals that manage to build successful research programs will maintaining their familial responsibilities but they are indeed an exception.  The stress of publishing, obtaining grants and finding the next big idea commands a mental focus that one cannot honestly say they are putting their family and faith before their career.  Even if one can successfully balance this career with their family, that individual must be strongly motivated in both arenas of life.  I am passionately motivated to be a Christian father and a Christian husband, but cannot say the same thing of bioinformatics research.
  3. I am passionate about teaching.  If a career in education held the same demands as research, I would actually be motivated to balance this career with my family.  Fortunately, while it still requires commitment and an enormous amount of work, undergraduate mathematics education gives me much more freedom to commit time and mental focus to needs of my wife and rearing of my children.  Sitting in front of a computer screen writing code, building spreadsheets, developing databases, writing proposals, at 10+ hours a day, 5-6 days a week, only made me long for the classroom and for my office hours where I could teach, respond to questions, and just interact with people.  In the first week at Wayland, I had in-depth conversations with more people than in 6 months at Tech.
  4. The work environment at this particular lab at Texas Tech is not conducive to productive research.  I’ll not say more than that other than to say that I am not the first or the second person to leave the lab prematurely within the last six months.  At least a part of the reason for this exodus is the management of the lab.  Enough said.

This post was originally intended to discuss my first week at Wayland but it looks like that will be forthcoming.  I’ll draw this post to close and conclude that God let me follow a path of self-discovery.  I would even go so far as to say that He wanted me at Tech.  He also left a place for me at Wayland so I could return. 

I still must confess to doubt myself at times, wondering if I am just make excuses for not wanting to work hard. I remember a bad decision  I made during the summer following my junior year at Wayland.  I was living with my grandparents in Amarillo and completing an English course at Amarillo college.  I was trying my hand as a temp.  I had a job with a firm doing data entry.  I was asked if I wanted to take it as a full time summer position. After my first day, which was tedious and gave me a serious migraine, I convinced myself that I wasn’t cut out for data entry.  I convinced myself that it just not worth the challenge of monotony that it would inevitably provide.  Looking back (hindsight is 20-20) I really think I should have kept the job, saved up my earnings for an upcoming wedding, honeymoon and down payment on a house.  I needed to learn the responsibility of a “real” job outside the world of academia.  There are things that I learned at my first full time, non-teaching job this past 6 months, that I should have learned a long time ago.

Didn’t I say I was drawing this post to a close?  Well, I will, saying this: God is at work in our lives and we can trust his plan to work itself out in us.  We simply must give him the reigns to our life and make Jesus our Lord, master, boss, chair, dean, and all-around head honcho.  (Easier said than done.)

Futureme.org

I always thought the idea of time capsules was fascinating. Although, I admit that I wonder what I could possibly leave myself or tell myself of the future that would be useful or interesting. However, if I turn the tables and ask myself what I’d like to hear from the past, just about any train of thought that I’d forgotten would probably be interesting to see again.

So, why not an email time capsule? Thanks to a new website, FUTUREME.ORG, you can send yourself an email that will delivered up to 30 years later. (Of course, that assumes that we, the web, and this website are all still around then.) Give it a shot! I’m going to remind myself of the priorities and challenges that I have during this phase in my life, namely paying for three kids, spending enough time at home and at work, etc.

I’m interested to hear what you guys might tell your future self. And how far in the future did you send it?

P.S. I saw this on World Mag. Blog

Back to the Mission Statement

WARNING: This is a fairly long post. And my apologies to anyone who received multiple notices, I kept accidentally posting, prematurely.

It is a continuation of an earlier post, Mission Statement. In that post, as well as this one, I am attempting to set a direction for my life. The problem is that as of May this year, my family goals (at least of having one), my education goals and my career goals had been met. So, the question is, where do I go from here. There are obvious responsibilities that come with my present position in life, such as leading my family and performing on the job, but much more generally, “what is my life to accomplish and what does God have as a plan for my life and my family’s future?”

To start with I am developing a mission statement or a vision statement for my life over then next ten years. My goals will all be directly stemming from that vision. Here was the first draft as of the last posting on this topic:

I live my life in fellowship with Christ to draw others to him and to minister to those around me. I am a husband, a father, and a mathematician. My life is lived to serve others with the gifts that God has given me.

Since my goal is not brevity but completeness, I would like to expand it. Let me identify the necessary components of the vision statement at this point:

  1. My relationship with God
    • His priority over all else.
    • My dedication to follow his plan for my life and fully confessing that I believe he has a plan for me
    • Everything in my mission statement is done out of my devotion to Him.
    • My involvement in the development of my own faith as well as the faith of others, both in evangelism and discipleship.
    • Church fellowship and worship.
  2. My role as a husband to honor my wife and lead my family, spiritually.
  3. My role as a father to raise my children to love the Lord and follow his commands.
  4. My role as an educator, both to pass on lessons in mathematics but also to live a role model for integrating faith in daily life and to minister to students needs beyond the classroom.
  5. My role as a mathematics researcher, to further the development of my own intellect through the development of areas in Applied Mathematics, such as finite elements, curve fitting and stochastic modeling.
  6. Enjoyment of the life God has given me, through my hobbies and research and just playing with my family.

Now, consider the following edits:

Above all else, I live my life in fellowship with Christ. I know that God has a plan for my life and I seek to follow that plan. I live to draw others to him, to aid in the development of the faith of my brothers and sisters in Christ through a New Testament Church, and to minister to those around me. I am a as a husband, a father, an educator, and a mathematician. My life is lived to serve others with the gifts that God has given me.

  1. As a husband, I will honor my wife and lead my family, spiritually.
  2. As a father, I will raise my children to love the Lord and follow his commands.
  3. As an educator, I will teach mathematics with passion, live as a role model for integrating faith in daily life and minister to students’ needs beyond the classroom
  4. As a mathematician, I will further the development of my own intellect through the development of areas in Applied Mathematics, such as finite elements, curve fitting and stochastic modeling.

When it does not conflict with the above responsibilities, I will enjoy life through playtime.

I’ll chew on that for a while, but it looks pretty good to me. I am doing this publicly because I hope that anyone that reads this will feel free to point out things that might seem a bit out of place or anything I might have left out. I also recommend this as a good practice for anyone who is wondering what God’s will is. It is to develop an idea of what God’s vision is for your life. Answer the questions, “When you boil it all down to the bare essentials, who are you in God’s eyes?” And realize that is much more specific than we might first expect, after all, he knit us together in our mother’s womb, with a specific design in mind.

It might seem that for me to develop these plans is like the fool who built larger barns to house all his grain and then the next day his life was demanded from him. I view it much more in line with the servant who was given some of the master’s money (talents) and when the master returned, there was an accounting of what the servant had done with the master’s possessions. I am attempting to be a good steward of those talents and I hope that by laying out this vision, and ultimately the goals that follow, I may be found faithful when it is all said and done.

I’m done preaching, now. Sorry for seeming to get on my soapbox, but I am really preaching at myself so I’ll remember all this later on.

Sweaty Pumpkins and snippets of noise

Christmas is here. Our first one at home, and its a white one at that. We’re fortunate to get to stay home but still spend the holiday’s with Lori’s family. L.D. and Nicole will be coming up tomorrow and the parents have been here for some time helping with things around the house as Lori recovers and I “work.” (quotes denoting sarcasm).

Poor little one, Zachary, has caught a nasty cold in only his third week of life. He’s having a real hard time breathing with all the congestion and he’s got a nasty cough. For a short while his appetite was reduced and he had a very very slight fever. The doctors advice was merely to “suck” the junk out of his nose and “squirt” some saline up there. Although I feel quite sorry for him, I am not worried. I’m sure he’ll be fine.

I think everyone here is looking forward to Sunday, although I am starting to dread it a little. Everyone is going home and it will be the 5 of us all alone. We’ll finally find out how we’re gonna handle it. We’re predicting the state of the house will go downhill but since we’re planning on this so it can’t get us down, right?

Upcoming: Going to try to work intently this next week to make it through the “projection” paper and write the first two chapters of the dissertation and write a beginning to a paper on the parabolic problem and run some examples to general groundwater whirls. (Nothing much). Also need to prepare for classes next semester, I want to “publish” the lecture notes for College Algebra so that the students will have the entire set for the full semester. Faith and Science is also going to be a big focus so it would be good to have a rough outline of materials ready for the class.

Adding to my reading list:
NONFICTION:

  1. In, But Not Of : A Guide to Christian Ambition. Hewitt, Hugh.
    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0785263950/ref=pd_sim_b_3/002-7678125-3506459?%5Fencoding=UTF8&v=glance
  2. Blog: Understand The New Information Revolution And How It Is Redefining The Media, The Culture, And Business. Hewitt, Hugh. Publication Date: January 2005
    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/078521187X/qid=1103900487/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/002-7678125-3506459?v=glance&s=books

FICTION:

  1. Splinter Cell. Clancy, Tom (own it as of Christmas)
  2. State of Fear. Crichton, Michael
    http://usa1.ebooks.com/ebooks/book_display.asp?IID=218799
  3. The Five People You Meet in Heaven. Albom, Mitch.
    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0786868716/qid=1103956266/sr=2-1/ref=pd_ka_b_2_1/002-7678125-3506459
  4. The Da Vinci Code. Brown, Dan
    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0385504209/ref=pd_sim_b_1/002-7678125-3506459?%5Fencoding=UTF8&v=glance
    http://usa2.ebooks.com/ebooks/book_display.asp?IID=191035

Whatanap!

Wrapped up the semester, been home with Zach-o for a week, and I got a nap today! Weehoo. Things have been going very well with the newest addition. He’s quite the sleeper. I say all of the following while knocking on wood. So far, he’s the best sleeper of the three which is saying a lot since the other two were GREAT sleepers. Timothy had slept through the night by 4 weeks hold, Emily by 6 weeks. Zach already sleeps 5 hours most nights. Today for the first time he’s finishing bottles (first time, I am aware of). He finished at least 2 and maybe three. I am totally amazed by this run of luck we’ve had. Either we have the sleeper gene or we’re the most amazing parents ever.

I have wrapped up the fall semester and there is only one remaining semester during which I will be addressed MR. Franklin. I try to dress it up a little but in reality what that means is that I have an enormous amount of work to finish on my dissertation. I suppose it will go well but I need to buckle down, or is it knuckle down? Starting tomorrow I really am going to be focusing on the work that needs to be done related to writing the dissertation and begin preparation on filling the remaining “gaping hole”: comprehense error statement.

In reference to the opening statement of this entry, I would like to comment on a very interesting phenomenon that occurred during my nap. I used earplugs to sleep and during my dreams I was unable to hear anything, that is, I believe I was hearing impaired inside of my dreams. I thought that was interesting the my subconscious (or unconscious) mind connected to the earplugs.

Homeward Bound

Today’s the day. We get to take the little stinker home with us. We really don’t know him all that well yet. He did not spend even one night with us in the room. That was nice for the sleep but we still don’t know how he behaves at night. One thing we do know is that he is still very quiet. He’s yet to be left unsatisfied. I recall with the other two children that they went through phases in the hospital where there was nothing but holding and rocking that would soothe them and even then, it took some time to calm them down. This fella is just as mellow as can be. He’s not scarfing down the food yet either but he’s one of mine so I can’t imaging that taking long.

I did get to go to work yesterday. I missed Lori all morning but it was good that I went back. My Calculus class REALLY needed some help. I think I got them straightened out on the stuff we did before I left. I also got to hear a preliminary version of the Math Models presentation on laser disc technologies. Their presentation will be given publicly on Monday (the first day of finals). I have also volunteered to have review sessions for all of my finals since I don’t plan on being all that available during the week of finals. It was also good that I went back since I needed to pick up the car seat which we conveniently left at home. I also needed another set of clothes.

I will be so ready to be home. Last night in the hospital was still just fine, mainly because we got to watch a couple of rented movies that I picked up on the way back. We watched Spiderman 2 and Dodge Ball. Both were pretty good movies, yet nothing to write home about (but enough to blog about).

The Day After

Zachary was born yesterday at 8:21am. He was 7 lbs. 13 oz. and 20” long. He’s a handsome devil. Lori had a slightly difficult day yesterday with nausea but was eventually able to beat it. She was up by late afternoon. She’s taking it slow in recovering not because it is a harder recovery but she remembers last time when she tried to rush it with Timothy. She was sick all day on the third day with him and she doesn’t want to be that way with this recovery. She’s taking at least one extra meal of liquids. She is also having a little pain and taking something called Toridol (sp?).

Zachary is wonderful and very quiet. Maybe that is just in comparison to Timothy (currently). He is not eating real well but both Lori and I vaguely recall Timo not eating real well at the hospital and his appetite turned out just find (understatement of the year). Right now, Zacho’s got only enough appetite for about ˝ oz. every 3-4 hours. He’s got a full head of black hair. Lori is convinced he looks like Emily did. I can’t tell. Maybe it’s the dad in me but I think he just looks like a very tiny baby. They all look the same to me. Is that age bias?

There have just not been any problems this time around. The most difficult thing for me has been my ambitious hopes of teaching classes on by the 2nd and 3rd day of Lori’s hospital stay. I just didn’t feel comfortable missing the last day of classes but I ended up sticking around today (2nd day). Last night about 11, I called in to Elise and left a voice mail message that I would not be able to make it today and to help me with arrangements. I forgot to check in before classes but I got lucky and she had received my message and took care of everything for me. I am still planning on heading back to Plainview tomorrow. Still high aspirations? I guess, but I really need to since my math models class will be running through their presentation.

Christmas Decorations

For the first time that I can remember we decorated for Christmas when you’re supposed to, Thanksgiving weekend. We got the tree up after moving the furniture around, end table to the storage building, brought in the coffee table. Then got all of the indoor stuff set up. Lori did most of this, I just don’t know what to do or where to put stuff so its good that she takes care of that. This afternoon, I got all the lights hung up outside. We used our standard decoration of red lights with icicles and wrapped the posts in white lights. We hung out angel and added a Santa windsock thing this year.

Timothy seems a little on the hornery side by getting into everything and want to run around with all the ornaments. Emily was a big help in decorating the tree.

Yesterday and a week ago, Dad and I went to see Canadian play in the playoffs. They beat Post easily last week and earned a victory against Jim Ned this week. I doubt I get to see the next game (probably in Wichita Falls) since Lori is now 38 weeks pregnant with the C-Section scheduled for Tuesday, December 7, which is a mere 10 days away. Zachary Douglas will be here in no time.

New Christmas Record

In addition to the record set just before Christmas of getting all our decorations up earlier that ever, they have also come down earlier than ever. Lori has always been good about getting the decorations inside put away but now I got the lights down before school started. The previous record was probably January 28 or so. Last year it was closer to Valentine’s day. (ouch)