Archive for the ‘graduate school’ Category

As all of you know I’ve dealt with some pretty difficult problems ever since this Sunday.  Between my beloved dog going from fully mobile to paralyzed in a matter of a few minutes to a major car repair in progress, this week hasn’t been easy on my head, my heart, or my wallet. [For those want more info: my car in the shop for a pretty major repair: heater core replacement].  Dealing with these issues really knocked me off my game so to speak.

We spent Sunday night at the Animal hospital until a half hour pas midnight- none of us has fully recovered from the combination of stress and a lack of sleep.  I probably could have started working out again on Monday but I am still carrying a feeling I can’t fully describe.  It feels like my head is in a dense fog and I just can’t seem to walk through it and find a sunny sky (or even a cloudy one that is at least cloud free).

It was just today that I confronted the question, how do I get out of this funk? (more…)

Well there were lots of good guesses, but here is the truth…

1. I own over 1,000 books…

To be exact I own something like 1,400 books and rising! I buy about 50-75 books per semester for class and side projects and I haven’t met many books I am willing to part with and resell.

2. I am deathly afraid of spiders (and insects in general creep me out)…

Who isn’t?

3. I worked as a fireman for over two years…

Me and my father really started butting heads when I turned 17. I knew I had to get out of the house but I had $0 to my name. I had a friend down the block who told me about an opportunity at a local fire station where I could live at the fire station RENT FREE and receive full training as a firefighter. I had him drive me down THAT DAY for an interview, got accepted, and moved in that week.

For the next two years I worked as a fireman, on duty every fourth day from 8 a.m. to 8 a.m. I learned a lot, got to fight a few real fires (and lots of practice fires), and did enough heavy lifting and cardio to support a shredded set of abs.

4. I’ve been a sales associate at Bath & Body Works…

Like WC said, a college student will take any job he can get. Of course the copious amount of cute girls and gorgeous women who flirted with me was worth much more than the minimum wage pay.

I even worked one Christmas season at Bath & Body WHILE I was also living at the fire station. I got teased mercilessly at the fire station for a LONG time for that.

5. A famous gay actor once hit on me…

Yup. I didn’t even know who he was until the girls I worked with at Bath & Body works told me after he left.

6. I’ve met every member of the cast of Dawson’s Creek at least once…

Yup. I rented movies to James Vanderbeek (spelling?) when I worked at Blockbuster Video; I met the blond one (Michelle?) at the U.N.C.W. fitness center when they were filming the pilot. I held a door for her and she told me what a gentleman I was. I was wearing the standard issue gray fitness suit covered in my own sweat- I wasn’t in a good position to capitalize on the good will. HA! I met Katie Holmes and the rest of them on campus several times when they were filming right across from the Financial Aid office.

7. I’ve run a half-marathon..

NEVER! The most I’ve ever run was a 10k.

8. I name all my pets after wrestlers, philosophers, or Greek/Roman Gods..

Yup. Kane (dog/wrestler), Lucius (dog/ philosopher), Loki (ferret/Norse god), Athena (ferret/Greek god), Socrates (ferret/philosopher), etc.

Many thanks to all who participated. Congratulations to WC for both guessing the correct answer and creeping me out by doing WAY too much homework. HA!

This weekend I have 2 books to read (357 and 268 pages, respectively), one 20 page paper to write (not to mention I need to read about 15 books that go along with it….I WILL BE skimming!), I have a 3 page book review due, and I have to find time for my wife and daughter somewhere in there.  Gosh, this is going to be a long and rough weekend.

Oh, I also have a conference coming up and a 20 page paper due for that- original research too!  Could my plate get more full?  No, don’t answer that!

I skipped phase 1, and chose to save cardio for the end of my routine.

After stretches I went right into my resistance work.

Handstand push-ups: 10

Uneven Squats: 12 each leg, 12 reps each, at 90lbs

Chin-ups: 8

Leg Lifts: 12 (w/ full extension)

Cable Flyes: 10 at 35lbs each

Cable Rev. Flyes: 12 each at 30lbs

Uneven Push-ups: 20 each side

Sit-ups: 10 (pathetic!)

Wood-choppers: 12 each side at 35lbs

I closed out with intervals.  I push my top interval speed up to 8 mph.  So the routine look something like this…

2 min. walk, 1 min. run (7.0 mph), 2 min walk, 1 min. run (7.2 mph), 2 min. walk, 1 min. run (7.6 mph), 1 min. walk, 1 min. run (8.0 mph), 2 min. walk.

A great workout, but I am super tired.  Not to mention I have two papers due next week, two classes to prepare for, and 50 tests to grade.  This won’t be a fun weekend.

We lost power last night and I still had 250 pages left to read in The Fabulous History of the Dismal Swamp Company: A Story of George Washington’s Times.  Let me be the first to say that there was nothing fabulous about it.  Well I take it back, the information contained there in was voluminous, but its presentation was the equivalent of listening to NPR for two weeks straight.

I will spend today (Saturday) writing a two page response paper to the above book, reading another 400 page book, and preparing questions on said book- as I am tasked with presenting it to the class.   Beyond that I have an annotated bibliography and draft abstract due this coming Wednesday.  Furthermore I have to prepare lectures for at least the next week of my western civilization class.

See you all on Monday.  I plan on posting my plans for next week on Sunday night.  It won’t be an easy week.

Tomorrow is a big workout, as it will be my last workout until I do a reassessment for the Men’s Health Fitness Challenge.    I plan on demolishing my body tomorrow and then giving it 4 days to get ready for the reassessment.  I will post on that workout tomorrow or the next day.
It’s been a busy time around here completing my first full week of Ph.D. course work and teaching- which I as usual stressed out about WAY too much. I have now taught two classes (Western Civilization & U.S. History to 1877), and in my own estimation, I’ve done a pretty good job. Why do I think so? I have been able to work from memory, move around the room, and engage students.

So despite my fears, I feel that to some degree I’ve overcome them.

Well after I got the 1 hour and 45 minute drive out of the way, things didn’t get much better.  I walked all the way across campus to the wrong H.R. department only to find the correct H.R. department was right next to where I had parked.  Doh!  Who would have thought they would have two different H.R. departments- one for regular employees and one for grad student employees.

But at least I got registered for classes- each class requires the purchase of 14 books.  That’s right, I said EACH class.


I needed an outlet for my historical blogging needs so I opened a new blog here at WordPress at

I didn’t want to bore all those who check my blog for weight loss advice with long discussions of slavery and slave patrols.  So if you are interested swing on by  and leave a few comments.

Here is a copy of the inaugural post on my new blog…


Change is difficult, change is hard on the nerves, and change is perhaps the single most important incentive to growth. Sometimes the only certain thing in our lives is change. We can encounter that change and cower in fear, we can simply roll with that change (letting it overpower us), or we can use that change to transform us for the better.

When I started this process in early February, I noticed a change in myself.

I had become intellectually lazy (I had almost stopped reading completely), I had become spiritually empty (my prayer life was practically dead), I had become financially lazy (engaged in a cycle of spending beyond our means on non-essential items), and of course I had become near hopelessly fat (my stomach jiggled when I brushed my teeth).

These things hadn’t happened over night. Each occurred gradually, the result of a long string of poor choices and bad decisions.

I took a look at myself that February day and said, “This need stop now.” I haven’t been perfect since then, I have spent money I shouldn’t have, missed bible study dates, and eaten deep fried food and calorie dense snack food. However, for the most part, 95% of how I live my life in all those areas has changed. Why did I do that?

Because I looked ahead and I saw an unwanted change coming. I looked to my financial future and I saw bankruptcy; I looked to my spiritual future and I saw the wide path that led to destruction; I looked to body’s future and saw heart attacks and diabetes. I didn’t like any of what I saw. So the choice was clear, wait for change, or begin the process of change (transformation) myself.

The process has been at times a bumpy road and at times quite difficult, but it has also been rewarding. I would advise anyone else seeking to transform their life that the change is worth it- the chance is worth it.

My wife and I had an idea a while back. In its embryonic stage the idea was about raising Alpacas on a small piece of land, it has since matured into what I am typing today. I am breaking this post apart into the goals we want to accomplish, and what we need in order to accomplish this goal.

First, what do we want to do with this farm? Well, there is quite a lot. The original goal was two-fold- to live as independent a lifestyle as possible and to help as many people (and animals) as God made possible. Of the former, I wanted to build a home and work a piece of land that allowed us to provide much of our own food, live an eco-friendly lifestyle that minimized energy bills (not because I am an “enviro” nut but because I am cheap), and provided a certain level of independence from the outside world. Of the latter, I wanted to take any excess (beyond what we needed to eat) and give much to the families in local communities who went without- whether it be families who needed firewood, eggs, milk, etc.

But now I am getting ahead of myself. In the beginning we only wanted to raise alpacas, as they are a good investment and quite a huge hit with investors- whether it be selling the fur or the actual animal. From there we began to think about owning some milking goats, sheep, and chickens (as each could provide for certain needs of drink, clothing, and food).

In addition to those animals we would keep to fulfill our own needs, I have always wanted to run an animal rescue. I love dogs- and quite frankly, I wish I owned more than two of them right now. But we thought that the dog shelter in and of itself wasn’t enough. What if we used the shelter as a program where kids with behavioral problems could work with the animals- and take steps towards their own improvement? I have read wonderful things about such programs all across the nation that already exist and help those inside prisons. Something about dogs seems to bring out a hidden part of even the worst of us. Perhaps it is their unconditional love, I don’t know.

Furthermore, the farm would include fruit orchards and pecan groves. We would pick what we needed for the season and then allow local folks to come and take from the excess for a nominal fee. Because I would also like to- depending on where we end up- be very involved in the community, and open my land to those in the community for family activities- not to mention ministry activities.

The latest addition to these ideas was born while talking with some friends. Our friends church has three spare houses where missionaries who are in between mission trips come to rest and relax from the rigors of the mission field. We thought it would be nice to build several additional small houses to provide for such a need on our farm.

There is so much we want to do, and I know to some it seems idealistic and unachievable. However, the Lord has really put this idea on my heart and I see this as highly possible. I try to stay in prayer over it, waiting to see how God makes things unfold.

But what do we need to make this happen?

First, knowledge. My wife and I have already started reading up on raising livestock and farming. Although there is no Complete Idiot’s Guide to Building Your own Farm there are many books on the subject. We have broken this down into subjects that each are responsible for- subjects that fit into our own interests. I am handling the finances of purchasing land, corporate taxes, etc., while she is focusing on the livestock part.

Second, funds. I have done countless spread sheets to see how much we can save and how long this will take. All point toward about a five year saving period that will begin this coming August. If my calculations are correct, we will need to save about $115,000 (plus sell our current home) to begin this project. Although the jury is still out on which financial vehicle we will use for investing the money over the next 5 years. Any suggestions?

Third, land. We are looking for the right piece of land. At this point I don’t know if we want to purchase it early and try to find jobs in the area, or if we should settle down in an area and try to find land. I won’t be looking at a serious job until three to five years from now- when I complete my Ph.D. Although, I have faith, that if this is what the Lord wants us to do, things will fall into place- in a way that will amaze me no doubt. He’s done it before.

Fourth, a home. We acknowledge that we might have to live in a trailer for a few years as the land and asset purchase might eat up our funds. When we do build our house we will be building a Formworks’ designed home. Just visit the linked website and check out the amazing benefits to these homes. Even you are an “enviro” you will love them, or if you are just plain cheap (like me) you will love them! And for those of you too lazy to click on the link- you know who you are- here is the list of benefits:

  • No major maintenance for more than 100 years;
  • Little or no heating/cooling needed;
  • 50 foot “free span” allows spacious Interior;
  • Thin shell construction (four inches);
  • 90% fewer pollutants & allergens than standard housing;
  • Virtually impervious to moisture and insects;
  • Tornado-proof, hurricane-proof, earthquake-proof;
  • Estimated life span 200 to 1,000 years;
  • Never been denied a building permit in any state

No more ant invasions or seeping moisture, count me in!

So what do you all think? I am a crazy dreamer, aren’t I? My head is often in the clouds. My wife is the one with her feet firmly planted in the ground. Together we make an excellent team. Doesn’t hurt that she is beautiful either.