Saturday, November 29, 2008


After literally months of waiting and a seemingly endless list of installation problems, the spa was ready for its inaugural run by 6pm Friday.
Safety Breaker. . . installed! Tub. . . filled! Water Temperature. . . 102 degrees! All three pumps . . . fully primed! Jets . . . fully operational! Swim suits . . . . on! 5. . .4. . .3. . .2. . .1. . (splash) AHHHHHHHHH! YESSSSSSS! OHHHHHH YEHHHH!
Another blessing to add to our things to be Thankful for this year. And hopefully this will help Debbie feel better, particularly on those days she can barely get out of bed.

Thanksgiving O8

Last minute cooking by the head chef.

Say, "Cheese"

Enjoying the weather. Nice warm day.

Football game watching.

The Brothers

Well, this year's thanksgiving was a little on the sparse side. With the exception of a late show from Alex, no grand kids were at the Bray Thanksgiving Dinner this year. In addition to the sparse number of guests, we decided to have finger foods this year as opposed to the full spread of years past. It was still too much and everyone left full as usual. It was also a special Thanksgiving as it was Dad's 80th. Dad and Gary's birthday landed right next to Thanksgiving Day this year, which is a little unusual. I guess Thanksgiving Day fell a little later this year. Although the grand kids were not present, the kids were all there and even Cathy had managed to come by and visit Dad a few days before Thanksgiving.

Fossil Hunting

Where are those fossils hiding?

There is one!

This is what we have come here to find.

Yes, you have found one. Good job, girls!

The Tuesday before Thanksgiving I went out with the 6th grade class at Bismarck Middle School to hunt fossils. I volunteered to be part of the Education Renewal Zone (ERZ) program, which partners college professors with public school teachers and their classes. I spend time with my adopted class in the field, in their classrooms, and in my classroom/lab. I purposely chose the 6th graders over high school students because they are still so enthusiastic and excited about learning, even science. If we can get students excited in middle school about science and keep them excited through high school, I might have a chance at having excited freshman biology classes in college. I just felt it was not right for me to gripe about the quality of freshman students we are getting nowadays in our college classes without trying to do something to help.

This 9 weeks the 6th graders are learning about earth science, which is not my specialty. However, we combined earth science with biology and bingo. . . we got fossils. I knew where there were a lot of fossils of marine animals that were just laying on top of the ground and would be easy for the students to find. The kids had a blast and so did I. It was such fun teaching students who had such interest and excitement for the topic. Everyone found fossils to take home; some of them had a bag full of them.
I have to come up with another field trip for them in December, so maybe a show at our campus planetarium. They have a Christmas program revolving around the north star and the winter skies. However, beginning in January it is biology and we have some great stuff lined up from extracting their own DNA to typing blood. I plan on spending some time in their classroom and having them to visit my classroom and lab.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Katie and Lainey

I received some pictures of my great neices. They are so adorable. Lainey is on the left and Katie is on the right. Katie will be 2 in a couple of weeks. Lainey still has a few more months to go before she gets there. I am glad they can grow up as close cousins. I like having my kids and my brothers and sisters kids being close in age. It definitely made holiday time more fun. Love you two girls.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Fall Fun

I have been playing with pictures again today.

Click to play Fall Fun
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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Campus Shooting

Here is the scene of the shooting this afternoon on the campus where I teach (Henderson State University). This is Newberry Hall, a male dormitory which sits across highway 7 from the main campus and adjacent to the Ouachita Baptist University. Thank God no one was hurt and the shooters have been arrested. I was totally unaware of the incident until we received an email after the shooters were caught. The suspects took a shot from their car at their intended victim while he was walking back to his room with a group of students. These kind of incidents are becoming all too common today. No one at any location at any time of day is safe anymore. This is why I sit with my desk facing the door of my office; I want to see who is at the door and what they are doing. Although it appears that none of the shooters were HSU students, the frame of mind and emotional state of some of the students attending college today are really disturbing. I have had some pretty bizarre students myself and it would not surprise me in the least for one of them to go on a shooting spree. Ultimately, I know I am not taking my life into my own hands each day when I leave the house, but rather I am placing it in God's hands. What better place to put it?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Average Saturday Workday

Well, the weather is definitely colder and the wind was brisk all day. Around here it was the average Saturday filled with chores that I could not get to all week due to the shorter days and long work hours. A trash run to the dump followed by some pipe fitting and my day was spent. The pipe is actually conduit for the new electrical lines that I hope our electrician will install next week to our new spa. We were so excited to finally get our spa delivered after months of waiting only to find out that a new breaker box along with a safety shutoff box and lots of new lines had to be installed first. We have already been waiting two weeks on the electrician and I have done all I can do in preparation for his coming (e.g. dig the ditch and install the conduit). Hopefully, he will begin on Monday. I just hope he can finish the job in a couple of days and we can actually use the spa by the end of next week. Debbie and I both are looking so forward to being able to use it (morning, noon, and night). If the spa will do just half of what it is suppose to do, it should be worth the wait.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Genetic Counseling


Well, we got up early today and headed for Little Rock to an open house being held by the genetic counseling program at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). Since I am the resident geneticist for our university, I thought it would be a good thing to go and learn more about this graduate program so I can better advise my students on this career choice. Debbie joined me and sat in on the session. I really like the fact that we can now do things together on a more regular basis. I know that I am rediscovering why I was so drawn to her in the beginning and why we have had such a successful marriage lo these many years. We certainly enjoy each others company, even though we can have such different interests. Although, I think she found the program interesting as did I, but the counseling part would not be my cup of tea. The thing the general population must keep in mind is that although science may discover the gene or mutation responsible for a disease or disorder, the cure for that problem may still be years away. Knowing what causes a disease and how to cure the disease are two entirely different things.

Algae Again!

Black streaks, Yuk!

Who said studying algae wouldn't pay off? I did some consulting work this week for a roof coating company who asked me to identify a problem they were having on some roofs in Florida. The problem was a blue-green algae called Gloeocapsa magma (see pics). It is a real pest and is notorious for leaving the ugly black streaks on shingle roofs down here in the South (see pics). I sent the company my results along with a bill. So yes, algae can be fun and profitable!
I enjoy working with private industry; it is a nice and profitable distraction from teaching. I am suppose to start working with an environmental consulting firm in January looking at E. coli levels in various runnoff sites around Little Rock. That should be fun as well.

Gloeocapsa magma

Monday, November 3, 2008

Algae Meeting

While Debbie was up visiting Adam, Justine, and Brody, I was attending the Southeastern Phycological Colloquy in St. Augustine, Fl. Yes, a seaweed meeting. Believe it or not, there are many individuals who share a common interest in algae and it was great to get together with so many and just talk algae. I spent five years collecting and sequencing the DNA of seaweed during my doctoral work, but I never got tired of the slimmy stuff. It still facinates meet even though I now live so far from it.

The meeting was held at the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve Environmental Education Center just outside St. Augustine. It was great to get to spend some time back in this area; although, Debbie and I had just been down there in St. Augustine in May. Maybe next year the meeting will be held somewhere I haven't already been and I can bring Debbie with me.

Education Center