I am always happy to discuss my beliefs and why I'm a Christian. If you're interested in learning more about Christianity or the Bible, just ask. I'll also be glad to set up regular Bible studies with you if you'd like.
I met my wife when we were undergraduates at Abilene Christian University, and we married shortly after graduation. My wife has bachelors degrees in both Computer Science and English, and got her Master's degree in Technical Communication from North Carolina State University. While she was at NC State, I was at UNC (the main rival), and we lived in Durham (closest to Duke University) - we felt like we had some connection with all three towns in the Research Triangle! After getting her MS degree, while I was still working on my Ph.D., my wife worked as a User Interface Analyst for SAS Institute. SAS was a great company to work for - it was obvious why it was so often voted as one of the best companies to work for in the US. My wife's current full-time job is taking care of our daughters.
I grew up in Riverhead, New York (actually, in Aquebogue, which is part of Riverhead). Riverhead is on the East End of Long Island (75 miles from New York City, which is on the western end). That area has changed a lot from the way it was when I grew up. It used to be pretty rural, with mainly locals around, but has now turned into a tourist magnet (mainly for people from toward the city), with an outlet mall, aquarium, water park, and vineyards where there used to be potato and cauliflower farms. Although I have never had a desire to return to Long Island to live, I'm kind of sad to see it change so much.
I have one sister. She has always felt a closer connection to the Northeast than I have. She, her husband, and her daughter live near Altoona, Pennsylvania. My father is a retired high school art teacher, who now gets to spend time actually creating art and writing poetry. My mother, who used to teach high-school math (and later worked in a school district office), but stayed home to raise my sister and me, is also retired. After spending probably about 40 years living on Long Island, my parents finally moved away in the Fall of 2005. They now live in Sevierville, Tennessee, which is near the Eastern border, close to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.
I am glad to once again be living in Texas. Although my parents and sister are not in Texas, most of the rest of my closest family, and all of my wife's family, is here. Growing up, my family made annual trips down here, and for most of my life, I have hoped and expected to one day end up here. My wife and I spent 6 years in North Carolina while we were in graduate school. When graduate school was finished, moving back to Texas was one of the highest priorities in where I looked for a job. Although we enjoyed our time in North Carolina, and made many good friends (who we still miss), we are both happy to be home in Texas.
Now, finally, I will tell the (maybe) one interesting story I have regarding my Texas background. As I mentioned above, my parents lived in New York (they moved there from Texas). Before I was born, my father wanted my mother to go back to Texas, so that I would be born in Texas (many people from Texas will understand this, those not from Texas might not). However, my father had to work in New York, and my mother didn't want to leave him there, so I ended up actually being born in New York. Since I could not be born in Texas, my father did the next best thing he could. He got a shoebox full of dirt from Texas and brought it back to New York. Before I was ever allowed to be on the ground outside in New York, he spread out the dirt into the shape of Texas on a large sheet of paper, and sat me down in it. He wrote a big description of what he'd done, and took a picture, for proof. So, while I can't say I was born in Texas, my feet did first touch Texas soil. If I get organized enough, I'll have to find that picture and post it online.
In the mean time, I decided to support and follow the closest team to where I now live, the Houston Texans. Seeing as how they were 2-14 in 2005, no one can accuse me of "jumping on a bandwagon!" It has been kind of fun getting up to speed on the details of this team, and see them improve, but they've not made it to that same level of success as I would have hoped.
With Terrell Owens off of the Cowboys, I decided I would go ahead and support them again, also. I know this is a great relief to the Cowboys' management, as this one unknown fan not supporting them was surely causing sleepless nights. However, having followed the Texans so much more closely for so many years, I find I'm more in the Texans camp than the Cowboys at this point, although I'm gradually moving back that direction... In the mean time, I'm one of the few people who seems to actually be a fan of both teams.
I also enjoy college football. Since arriving here, I've followed the Texas A&M Aggies most closely, of course.
I also follow professional baseball. Although I grew up (and still am) a fan of the New York Yankees, for many years I have more closely followed the Texas Rangers. It was especially exciting for me to see them beat the Yankees and make it to the World Series. I attended games in high school cheering for the Rangers in Yankee Stadium, and it was funny in a way because it seemed that the other fans in the stadium almost felt sorry for me (fans were never even remotely antagonistic to me - now the Mets were another matter). It was great to finally see the Rangers take that next step, and hopefully they'll win the next World Series they appear in.
As a grad student, I began to follow college basketball. Of course, since I started following this in grad school, I became, and still am, a big fan of the UNC Tarheels.
While I sometimes like to watch other sports (particularly the Olympics), I've never really developed an interest in any of them. I completely fail to understand why people worldwide seem to think soccer is an interesting sport. I've never gotten too much into professional basketball, hockey, tennis, or golf, either (though some of these are fun to play). While I lived in North Carolina, I followed NASCAR a little bit, but that's dropped off a lot since then.
Another friend from here in College Station runs a website used to track prices of various collectibles (such as Lord of the Rings figures). You can view that website at www.toytracker.net.
If I have time, I enjoy playing computer games, mainly of the simulation/strategy variety (things like Civilization). My wife and I sometimes have played computer role-playing games (like Might and Magic) together, but haven't had much time for that in several years. Every few months, I have managed to get together with some friends to play strategy board games. There are several that we play, with Axis&Allies being one of the most well-known, though most of our time is spent on various other (often German) boardgames.
I really enjoy traveling, and getting to see various places both in the US and elsewhere. I've been to 46 of the 50 US states (haven't been to Alaska, Kansas, Nebraska, or North Dakota), and at least 12 other countries (more if you count my 15 minutes going across the border and back to Mexico or if you count Vatican city!), including 3 in East Asia and 2 in the Middle East. Mainly in the course of work (attending conferences), I've had a chance to do quite a bit of traveling. While most of these trips don't leave much time for sightseeing, I've sometimes managed to stay an extra day to see or do something else. In the U.S. these conference trips have allowed me to visit a few theme parks. I enjoy roller coasters, and at one time had ridden most of the "top" ones in the U.S. (though several newer and better ones have since been built). More recently, we've been fortunate enough to take several family trips to Disney World.