Upsetting Email

I got a forwarded email yesterday from a church member regarding the upcoming election. It upset me so much, I was shaking…and I had to sit on it a day before I responded to it. I just wanted to share what I wrote back in hopes that it will encourage my readers to reconsider passing along the smut that comes across your inbox.

I’m not going to lie….your email upset me. I had to sit on it a day before I responded. By forwarding it, you are saying you agree with what it is saying, which is “if you believe in prayer, you should be praying that Obama doesn’t win.” Then it backs up this claim with erroneous statements about his patriotism and faith. I pray for the direction of our country and I am voting for Barack Obama. Do I agree with everything on his platform? No.

But you should stop and consider what kind of damage you can do to relationships with your Christian family and your witness to unchurched. God is not a Republican; Satan is not a Democrat. Invite people to pray for our country and encourage them to go vote; and leave it at that.

Upsetting Email

Rooster Bullets and Dog Shlobs

Fall break. An extended weekend of recovery and relaxation for me. This year it worked out where my good friends–Jonathan, Daniel, and Michael–and I could go camping. We called up another buddy, Nathan, to ask for a good spot, and he recommended a place near Gilbert on the Buffalo River. So off we went, loaded down for a weekend of fun with just the guys.

One story that came out of the drive up was a point when we realized we had missed a turn off the highway. The ol’ iphone map was a little sketchy being out in the sticks, but we did indeed have to turn around. By this point, Daniel and I had to pee pretty bad, so we stopped on the side of the road. Suddenly I hear a weak cry from Daniel and loud barking. This dog appears out of nowhere and all but molests poor Daniel while he’s trying to relieve himself. Seriously, the dog is jumping all over him. It made for very entertaining commentary on the remaining part of the trip.

We get to camp on the riverbed just down the street from Gilbert. Amazingly we are the only ones there. Nathan had a fire going and dinner made in a dutch oven. Let me just say that it was amazing. It was a meal with chicken, sausage, potatoes…very hearty and manly. After dinner we whiled away the night–and most of the morning–around the campfire. Nathan had to leave around 4:30 to go to deer camp.

I’m a pretty early riser when it comes to camping. I have a different biological clock, I guess. So I was up a few hours before the other guys, despite only having a few hours sleep. The others slowly trudged out of the tents. I made a little coffee over the fire and we made plans to do a float trip. A little pricey but a great time was had. We went about as leisurely as you can go. Took us about 5 hours or so. Got back to camp and roasted some hot dogs and potatoes over the fire. The effects of having only gotten a few hours sleep finally caught up to me and I turned in pretty early.

The guys had discovered a little country restaurant within walking distance, so the next morning, we decided to eat breakfast there. Coffee was a mere 79 cents. I audibly announced my surprise that it wasn’t $4.79 and another table looked over and said, “you must be from the big city.” Ha! We all ordered a item off them menu called the Rooster Bullet. Let me just break it down for you (cuz I think my stomach is still breaking it down to this day): country biscuits layered with eggs any way you want them and a meat of your choice. Then the whole thing is covered in skillet gravy. Drowned in it, is more like it. Then there’s a side plate of hash browns. 3 out of 4 of us could not finish it. And none of us ate lunch.

We chilled for a few hours on the bank of the river and packed up. I tend to withdraw when I’m outdoors and this trip wasn’t an exception to that. But the time I shared with my best friends was great and I look forward to making it an annual trip!

Rooster Bullets and Dog Shlobs

The Last 48 Hours

There are many things I want to write about, so I’ll just fill you in on the previous 48 hours or so of my life. Where to begin?

Wednesday afternoon – It became apparent that there were some serious issues with an online exam for my chemistry students. I required them to use a special browser that protects the test while they take it. Top that with the incorrect time limit was given so most students didn’t finish and freaked out. The fairest thing I can do is re-open the test on a designated day and allow those who want to re-take it to do so. So frustrating…

Thursday morning – Met with the professors of the Toxicology department at UAMS. They are doing some fascinating drug dependency and behavioral studies. Fascinating! Would love to be a part of it. But…I can’t. The full professor whose group I’m interested in frowns upon even part-time employment. I realize getting a science doctorate requires extensive lab time. It is a unique program unlike any other doctorate. So I would basically have to quit everything and live on the fellowship stipend of $24,000. That’s not happening. I’m really okay with that, because in the end, I am happy. I just thought a PhD would open more doors when I’m ready to head back to analysis/research. May never be the top dog in a lab, but I can still get a lucrative job with a Master’s.

Thursday afternoon – Finally finished up the chimney repairs. It was supposed to be a simple screen install. Ended up not being so simple. And the secretary for the company kept calling the poor guy every couple of minutes reminding him of his next appointment. He started yelling and cussing. It was awkward. At the same time, the garage door repairman came. Oh yes, did I mention? My garage door broke Tuesday night. But THIS repair was covered by home warranty, thankfully. Saved me $400. As he was going over the door mechanisms, he noticed the safety switches that keep the door from closing on bodies were sitting on the opener–uninstalled. So he fixed those too. Garage door repairs were on my offer and the opener was replaced, so I thought it was a done deal. It’s another little fun surprise I got; another (pardon me) half-assed repair, like the chimney (which cost me $600).

Friday morning – Tying up as many current loose ends at school and about to go have lunch with my mom. Then some shopping for my weekend camping trip with the guys in my community group. Lupka, take care of my house! No wild parties!

The Last 48 Hours

Future Prospects

So today, seemingly out of nowhere, I decided to visit area university websites for a graduate program. Not really sure why I up and started looking around. Visited UCA first, but there weren’t really any PhD programs. I don’t really want to go to UALR, but I looked. Yah, nothing doing. (I just rolled my eyes thinking about what to type for the next sentence.) I looked at UAMS. Even though I had such a bad experience there, it was really my only option left for this area. And as a colleague told me later on, it really was just the department I was in that was the issue.

I clicked through different programs and stopped on Interdisciplinary Toxicology. Hmmmm…. Given my continued interest in drug forensics, I read into it. Basically, this is the study of the biological effects of poisonous substances, from environmental to whole organism to cellular level. Now when I left the crime lab, I had just received training and certification as a Site Safety Officer for chemically hazardous crime scenes. I had also attended a couple of conferences with interesting studies about the hazards and effects of methamphetamine manufacturing. Although my job wasn’t investigating these aspects, it was very interesting to me nonetheless.

I inquired to the program. I read through the research going on…four or five labs are working on drug dependency studies. Could be possibilities there. But what I don’t know is how I could maintain a job with going back to school. I’m at the point I have to keep working. So that was part of my inquiry….how would that work? Right now I have a flexible enough job where I could attend classes. Albeit if I go this route, going back to the crime lab at the beginning of the year would probably be out because I would lose that flexibility. I think I’m okay with that for now. So let’s just say this does work out…makes me kind of feel like this could be the higher purpose to my taking this position at PTC.

It has always been my desire to finish what I started, namely a PhD. It’s just I had no experience in research laboratories at the time I went to UAMS and that made it very difficult for me. All the other students in my class had some connection to a professor and knew what they were going to do. I didn’t. And it created a lot of conflict. Enough that I stopped, earned my MS, and got out.

I have an appointment next week to talk to the department chair for more information. Nervous, excited, anticipatory…all the usual emotions. We’ll see where this goes…

Future Prospects