Archive for the ‘work’ Category

There used to be a day when you could fill out your tax forms and residency forms, hand them in, and things worked out perfectly fine.  However, now thanks to the Department of Homeland Security you MUST complete your I-9 form in front of a human resources representative.  I guess because human resources employees can somehow spot a terrorist?!

So thanks to homeland security, I now have to drive an hour and fifteen minutes round trip (almost a quarter tank of gas- $8 worth) for 2 minutes worth of paperwork.  Isn’t government bureaucracy grand?  NO!  And no, I can’t fill it out on my first day teaching because my class starts on Tuesday and the forms MUST be filled out on the first day of classes- Monday.  If you don’t do that the college can’t hire you.  It’s that convoluted…I mean…simple.

Oh, and by the way, we were told by a representative of the HR department that they ARE NOT allowed to tell us what documents we need to bring with us.  You heard that right. Stupid, isn’t it?  I guess this is like some kind of citizenship documents pop quiz.   I am going on the assumption they need my license and social security card- but I am not ruling out that they may want my birth certificate, blood sample, urine sample, and my D.N.A.

So if you wonder why I am only posting this non-weight loss related blog post today, now you know.  But hey, at least my employer will know I am not some crazy terrorist.

Out For Lunch

Posted: August 14, 2007 in education, work

I am currently busy trying to put together 8 weeks worth of lectures for a Western Civilizations course I am teaching this semester.  Be back to blogging soon.  Know I would much rather be blogging with you guys than fiddling with PowerPoint.

There is no Persian quite as funny as the Depressed Persian Tow Truck Man. Comedic pay dirt. Typical MadTV, irreverent, immature, and quite lowbrow.

SNL celebrity Jeopardy, the gold standard.

Sean Connery: I’ll take anal bum cover.

Alex Trebek: That’s “An Album Cover.”

(more…)

Well, I am due to turn in my encyclopedia entry on slave patrols on August 1.  The only problem is that I can’t find my muse.  I have written four drafts, all of which I’ve torn up (figuratively since I am using Word) and thrown away (deleted).  Which stinks since most of them were near complete but they weren’t quite what I wanted to write.  The topic of slave patrols is so large and I only have 750 words to express all I want to say.  This is driving me crazy.

So I guess I need to pray, focus real hard, block all outside distractions (dog, radio, etc.) and just sit here till I either starve, go insane, or write the perfect entry.  I am hoping that the third option happens first.  Although, while in law school I came pretty close to the first and second taking place all too often.

Sorry for the blog silence.  I have spent the last three days ripping out an ugly Tiki Bar from the living room of my home.

bar-front.jpg  bar-side.jpg

Ugly, isn’t it?  That ungodly abomination was taking up quite a bit of space in my living room.

I will probably be off line for the next few days.  On Monday normal blogging activities will resume.

 Here are my updated before and after pictures.  The pictures on the left (your left) are from February 8, 2007.  The pictures on the right (your right) are from June 6th, 2007.  Almost exactly four months to the day from when I began this weight loss journey.

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The guy above (the old me) had a 42 inch waist.  Now, as of today, my waist is 34 1/2 inches.

feb8backcropped.JPGjune-6-back-double-crop.jpg

See all those rolls of fat on the left hand picture?  That guy weighed 206 lbs .  Think of how big my fat cell’s must have been.  Now, I weigh 169.2 lbs- less than 10 lbs from my goal weight. What a difference losing 36+ lbs of fat can make from all perspectives.

croppedsideviewfeb8.JPG june-6-side-double-crop.jpg

The old me had a gut that hung over my belt.  That 42 inch waist was a miserable traveling companion.  It popped numerous button from the front of some great khaki pants.  Now, when I put on my fat clothes they hang on me like  a trash bag, and my old, old, old clothes fit perfectly.

june-6-front.jpg

The guy above is a much healthier, happier, energetic man.  Praise the Lord for positive change and for the strength to endure.

Well today was yet another long day of yard work from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Here is the evidence of a long day spent at work. Not to mention some building projects that even a guy like me- with two left thumbs- can complete.

Entertainment: This was based on a circular I got at Home Depot. This is a pretty neat ring toss. You can make everything from the rings to the wood posts for less than $25 bucks.

Rings
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The posts are just 4X4’s cut into 1 foot, 1.5 foot, and 2 foot lengths. Drill two holes in the bottom of each post and slide in a piece of 6 inch (or one foot) rebar. Hammer those suckers into the ground and presto.

The rings are even easier to make. Just by some clear plastic or vinyl tubing, fill the tubing with sand, and secure the ends together (forming a circle) with colored electrical tape. Home Depot sells multi-colored packs of electrical tape for about $2.50.

Total Time Invested: 1 Hour, 15 Minutes.

Beautification: Okay, I decided to try my hand at making a see through planter. I bought a bunch of scrap wood from Home Depot for about $12 bucks and some L-brackets and screws (about $4 bucks).

Planter

It is my first try. It still needs to be sanded down and treated for the outdoors. Otherwise, not bad for a first try with throw away wood scraps.

Total Time Invested: 2 Hours

Grunt Labor: Nothing pretty about this one. I hauled about 25 wheel barrels full of gravel from one side of the yard to the other. Boring, hard, and heavy work.

Gravel Pit

That section you see- the area covered by sand and dirt- was covered in gravel 4 to 6 inches deep. I moved ALL of that. My back and shoulders (not to mention core) are all well worked out from the twisting while shoveling and the wheel barrel hauling.

Total Time Invested: 3 hours

Beautification: We have given up on our water fountain. First of all it has a crack in it, and second it is ridiculously expensive to run. So we decided to just fill it up with top soil and grow some annual and bulbs in there.

Fountain planter

And that isn’t tall grass in front of it, those are wild flowers.

Total Time Invested: 35 Minutes

Well, you might be asking what the big surprise is at this point. Wait no longer. After a full days work and plenty of hydration (not to mention ample meals and snacks) I stepped on the scale to discover that I weighed 169.8lbs. Sweet!

Today I will be working on some unfinished work. I am polishing up a short article for submission to the New Bern Historical Journal about the events as Street’s Bridge in 1821. For anyone interested, a larger discussion of the events at Street’s Bridge can be found in the first chapter of my thesis.

Beyond that I need to begin work on a new article I hope to submit to the North Carolina Historical Review. My new article will discuss the condition of the North Carolina Militia between the war of 1812 and the Mexican-American war of 1846.

Beyond the above topics I am looking into possible papers on

  1. “Amazing Grace:” A Look into the Religious Outlook of Southern Slaves. Reading through slave narratives, the amount of faith in Christ (and their own personal redemption from slavery) is amazing considering their unique circumstances. (I’ll post an example later)
  2. North Carolina Slave Patrols on the Eve of the Civil War.  Very few have researched North Carolina’s slave patrol system.  With the exception of Sally Hadden’s work (not to mention my own thesis; and that of another grad student) the study of North Carolina’s slave patrol has been largely neglected.
  3. Wards of the State: The Orphans of War.  The story of how the children of one officer who served in the war of 1812 received significant compensation directly from the state- including financing an education at West Point (books, uniforms, etc.).

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.