I was raised in West Michigan along with my brother and two sisters on a disused farm that seemed a lot more like the country than the city back then. I remained in the area after high school, getting a bachelor’s degree in biology education at Hope College where I was also on the swimming team for three years. After some research experience in spider taxonomy and aquatic ecology during and immediately following my time at Hope, I took up graduate studies at UW-Madison. After the completion of my degree, I then spent a winter in Fargo, North Dakota before moving to Kentucky for my second postdoc and now on the the national capital. You could say I’ve spent (almost) my entire life living in the US Midwest, though some of the places I’ve called home are more on the edge of the definition than others and now I’m racking up time on the East Coast.
I’ve always like being in, on, or around the water. I was a competitive swimmer for many years in my teens and into my early 20s, and since then I’ve gone through bouts of swimming discipline as my motivation and local facilities allow. When the weather is warm though I always spend a lot of time on the water near my parent’s house. I love to waterski and have fun behind a boat, and I especially like to introduce watersports to other people. So far we’ve taught at least three Germans, a few French, and a boat load of Americans how to waterski.
I can’t remember all the way back, but more or less I think I’ve always liked to travel. When we were old enough, my parents would take us on road trips through parts of the US. When swimming was on the top of my priority list I hardly left Michigan for a few years, but once I neared the end of college I began travelling much more often. The first time I left North America was to work in Iceland as part of my graduate studies, and since then I’ve been to a number of countries in Europe, plus Israel. Lately I haven’t had much time to take a long overseas journey, so I’ve put many thousands of miles on my cars visiting my family in Michigan or to the East Coast (almost always for work) instead.
My primary hobby, if you can call it that, is babysitting automobiles. I’ve liked cars since I was a little boy and in many ways I haven’t been able to shake this interest. Though in general I have disdain for the concept of internal combustion powered personal vehicles as a primary mode of transportation, given that most places I’ve lived owning a hunk of moveable metal is quite necessary to being a part of society I do own a car. Two cars in fact. But since they’ve got 50 years and 300,000 miles between them I consider it a small bit of fun to own and drive them (maintenance is another story). I wish I could say that I do all the work on them myself, but that is a total lie. The lack of a garage and a constrained budget mean that the space and tool infrastructure available to me is limited and so is what I can manage to accomplish, but if I can’t wrench it myself you can be sure I take great care in seeing that whatever is done to either car is done right.
I don’t know if I’ve got much else going in the way of hobbies. I like tinkering around the house, and cooking if I am not being lazy.