Professor of Mathematics
S224 - located upstairs in Carroll Center for Innovative Learning.
Due to COVID-19, all courses are online with asynchronous delivery and do not have scheduled meeting times.
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I graduated Richland Community College with an A.S. degree with a Mathematics concentration. Yes, that's a right, I'm a product of the institution I went to school at. None of my math professors are here anymore, but we've got a new group of dedicated faculty.
I went to Richland on a JETS-TEAMS scholarship after winning the mathematics competition. For years after that, it was called WYSE, but sponsorship by the University of Illinois ended in 2018. Eastern Illinois University took it over for 2019 and it's now just called the Academic Challenge. If you're a high school student who gets a chance to participate in their academic challenge, please do. The challenge is usually held the first Wednesday in February. Tests can be taken in mathematics, English, chemistry, physics, engineering graphics, and computer science. You get a chance at winning a year's worth of tuition.
I then went to Eastern Illinois University where I received a B.A. in Mathematics with the Teacher Certification option. I had planned on teaching high school mathematics. That was until I student taught at Stephen Decatur High School. It was a big shock for me since I had grown up in a small school district.
Immediately after receiving my B.A., I joined the Richland staff as the Study Assistance Center Coordinator and an Adjunct Mathematics Faculty.
I held the positon of part-time mathematics faculty and Study Assistance Center Coordinator for three years and continued my education at Sangamon State University. I became a conditional full-time Mathematics Instructor in August 1992 pending the completion of my Master's degree. I received my M.A. in Mathematical Sciences from Sangamon State University in May 1993. Soon after my graduation, they shut down the upper level mathematics program at Sangamon State University. Sangamon State University has been absorbed into the University of Illinois system and is now known as the University of Illinois at Springfield.
I received tenure at Richland in 1995. I received a promotion to Assistant Professor of Mathematics in the Spring 1996 semester. I was promoted to Associate Professor of Mathematics in the Spring 2000 semester. I became a full Professor of Mathematics in the Spring 2003 semester.
I took a class in statistical computing at the University of Illinois, Springfield, in the summer of 1999. This course taught SPSS and SAS.
In May 2001, I attended an ICTCM short course on using the web in mathematics on the campus of Texas A&M University in College Station, TX. I attended another ICTCM short course on using multimedia in mathematics in May 2002 in Phoenix, AZ. I attended a third ICTCM short course on Assessment and Real World Applications of Mathematics in August 2004 in Providence, RI. In May, 2006, I attended a fourth short course on Teaching with Technology in Salt Lake City, UT. Each of these courses required a project that I have incorporated into my classroom teaching.
I wear three hats at Richland. I am a full-time professor of mathematics and have an extra duty assignment of the Internet. This semester, I'm playing a role on a team helping with institutional effectiveness. I have divided my professional accomplishments by the hat I'm wearing.
I wear two hats at Richland. I am a full-time professor of mathematics and have an extra duty assignment of the Internet. I have divided my professional accomplishments by the hat I'm wearing.
I was a member of the Illinois Mathematics Association of Community Colleges (IMACC) where I maintained the web pages for the organization for over 20 years.
I am a member of the International Conference on Technology in Collegiate Mathematics (ICTCM) and attend their short course conferences when opportunity allows. I attended the annual meeting in 2003 and 2006.
For several years I served on the technology advisory committee for the Maroa-Forsyth school district.
I have served the college as both a leader and member on several committees, task forces, search committees, and continuous improvement process (CIP) teams. I have been trained as a trainer for the CIP teams. Currently, I have managed to whittle the committee work down to just being a member of the Placement Standards Taskforce. In 2012, someone decided that we don't need a Placement Standards Taskforce. In 2019, I served on the retention committee.
I was selected by the students as the Faculty Speaker for the 2004 Richland Commencement ceremony. I talked on how mathematics is like life as both require you to look at the big picture and maintain balance. If you were there, I'm sure you remember the stress-relieving yell at the beginning of the speech.
I was selected as the Outstanding Faculty Member of the Year in 2005. Luckily, there was no speech required with this honor, but I did get to read the names of students at graduation.
I attended United States Conference on Teaching Statistics in June 2009. This conference, held in Columbus, OH, was themed "Letting Go to Grow" and helped radically change the way I teach Math 113.
In July 2010, I presented a webinar sharing my experiences with "Implementing a Wiki into your course" to the Illinois Community Colleges Online organization.
I attended United States Conference on Teaching Statistics in May 2013. This conference, held in Raleigh, NC, was themed "Making Change Happen" and introduced some new ways to teach statistics that students can better understand.
I attended United States Conference on Teaching Statistics in May 2019. This conference, held in State Colleg, PA, was themed "Evaluating Evidence" and pushed re-evaluating the role of the p-value in statistics.
In 2020, I received the Dale P. Parnell Faculty Distinction award from the American Association of Community Colleges.
I have the extra duty assignment as the Internet Systems Specialist for the College. Among other things, this means I am responsible for keeping the Internet up and going at Richland. I'm not responsible for the web pages anymore, but I am working behind the scenes to provide technical support.
In January 2005, I began working on a single sign-on (SSO) solution for the students at Richland. When I started, you had a login and password for your email, a different one for WebCT, a third for WISE1, one to access the network resources, and possibly another if you accessed protected web pages for your instructor. The goal of this project is to combine all those of those accounts into a single account with a single password. We went live with the single sign-on in January 2006. It wasn't quite ready but a bug in a new version of the software forced us into using it. Since that point, we have started moving away from having a single sign-in to having a single user id and password, but having to sign in separately to each system.
Most of my work recently has been on systems integration, getting the different academic computer systems to talk to each other. I have also been developing the Learning Feedback System that allows students to provide feedback to their instructors at the end of the semester. This is an online system that began development in the Fall 2010 semester and finally replaced the paper and pencil version in the Spring 2012 semester.
In July 2017, I presented Accomplish the Impossible at InstructureCon 0017, the national conference for Canvas users.
Height is 186.69 cm if I stand up straight, but call myself 185.42 cm since I never stand up straight. In August 1999, I went to the doctor's office for a physical. Rather than measuring my height, the nurse simply asked how tall I was (as a statistics instructor, this method of data collection really bothered me). Soon after that, I had a body composition test performed where our fitness instructor was kind enough to guesstimate my height. He said it was the height I've been claiming (even down to the 1/2" I throw in), so I feel better knowing that I haven't been misrepresenting my height for all these years.
I used to say that my mass was about 83.01 kg, but I didn't have any scales to verify that. But, I finally broke down and bought scales so that I could weigh my garage door. Feeling that buying scales just to weigh the garage door was a waste of money (how often does the weight of the garage door fluctuate?), I decided to weigh myself. When I first stepped on them, it came in at 240 lbs. I yelled "No Way!" (literally) as I had never been above 200 lbs in my life1. Then I took the scales off the plush carpet and into the bathroom where the floor is tiled and was much more comfortable with the reading. Still not entirely happy, as it now read 86.36 kg, but much happier than when it read 240 lbs. My weight had gone up considerably since the picture, but it was actually back around that value for fall 2005 and again in December 2007. I leave this photo out there as a reminder of my glory days and I don't have those scales anymore to take another photo. In the spring 2009, the weight shot back up to around 100 kg. By May 2009, in the middle of my travels out West, my ankles had swollen to the point where you really couldn't tell I had any.
My weight actually got as high as 107 kg and my ankles remained unseen, but then I went to the doctor in August 2009 when I got back from the Dominican Republic. He told me to drink more water, give up the soda (ouch), cut out the salt, and take half my meal home with me whenever I ate out. After some lab work, I found out I did not have prostate problems, but I had a high "fasting glucose" level. Anyway, within the first week of following the doctor's advice, I had dropped 2.5 kgs and I had my ankles back. At the start of school in August 2009, I was down to about 102 kg. This is just barely below the obese range as defined by your Body Mass Index (BMI). I need to lose another 15 kg to get back down to the "normal" range. When the doctor said, "you should be about 175 lbs", we just laughed. I would have to do some serious exercise to get that low. In the fall of 2010, my weight reached 111 kg, but by eating smaller portions and cutting out soda, I had gotten it down to 104 kg by late spring. If I work out all day in the hot sun and don't drink anything, I can get it down back down to 102 kg. Unfortunately, since August 2011, my weight began increasing where it was up to 117 kg by the start of the Fall 2012 semester, which is now solidly in the obese category. If you take a look at me, you probably won't consider me obese, but this is a problem with using the BMI as an indicator of obsesity.
Eye color is blue, when not red from lack of sleep. I used to wear glasses, but I had the lasik eye surgery performed in August 2001. My eyesight is now 20/20 with some astigmatism in the left eye. With the glasses, my eyesight was 20/15, so things are actually a little bit blurrier than they used to be, but at least I can see when I get up in the morning. In 2012, I'm starting to develop the age-related problem of needing reading glasses, which the optometrist warned me about when I had the surgery done. Textbooks are notoriously bad about using small print and websites that lock that use really small fonts or lock the font-size so that you can't change it are a frustration.
As for general health, I had a complete physical including lab work and a body composition test performed during the fall of 1999. I came in at 18% body fat. For males my age and height, 13-19% is normal, so I guess that's a good thing. Actually, all of the results from all of the tests came back without any problems, so I'm in better shape than I thought I was.
10 years later, in 2009, the health is not as good. I had a cough all winter long that we couldn't get rid of and did extensive testing and it finally cleared up on its own in the spring. I did learn that I don't have asthma, though. I experienced weight gain in the spring and added 25 pounds. From May through July, my ankles were swollen to the point that they had disappeared. I finally had enough of that and went to the doctor in August. He told me to cut out the salt, give up soda, and eat half as much as I normally do when I go out to a restaurant. Amazingly, the next day, the ankles were back. The blood tests they did came back as my fasting blood sugar level being high. The last part of the prescription was exercise; for some reason, I still find that the hardest to do.
In 2018, I found myself asking "what?" a lot more and discovered that my hearing was going. Hearing aids won't help, but it turns out that drinking lots of water and staying hydrated will. I've also got glaucoma and presbyopia, so I have trouble both hearing and seeing.
My temperament used to be melancholy with about equal parts of phlegmatic and choleric, but very little sanguine. Over the last several years, the choleric has diminished and the phlegmatic become more dominant. So, at this time, I would have to say I'm a mel-phleg borderline phleg-mel. Generally, that means that I am analytical, self-sacrificing, gifted, calm, easy going, and rarely angered (that last one is not a challenge). The photo is of me relaxing on Mt. Baldy, a sand dune at the Indiana Dunes.
I like to think that I have a sense of humor. I do know that you need to be able to laugh at yourself so that when other people laugh with you, it really is with instead of at. I try to convey this attitude in class and keep things light. Hey, people have enough anxiety about mathematics anyway without making it boring and stressful to boot.
My Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is ISTP - Introversion, Sensing, Thinking, Perception. Internally, I tend to be ISTJ (Judgment). I scored a 0 on the feeling aspect of the indicator. I used to be kind of proud of that, but not anymore. A score of 0 means that I prefer to think rather than feel, it doesn't mean that I don't feel. However, from June 2001 (or maybe before) until December 2003, I didn't allow myself to feel. I kept myself busy with work so that I wouldn't have to deal with things. That has changed and now I'm ready to feel and love again. If I can give any advice to people in similar circumstances, it would be to allow yourself to be complete and not try to shut out parts of who you are.
In April 2004, I took the Keirsey Temperament Sorter II, which is a lot like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. On this shorter version (only 70 questions), my preferences were ISTX (X meaning a tie between the two). The nice thing about this is that now, after five months of allowing myself to feel again, I did mark 20% of the questions indicating a feeling preference instead of 0% as before. That just makes me feel good.
Since many people ask what these letters stand for, here is a little more information. First of all, realize that these are continuums and very few people completely exhibit one preference over the other.
I've taken a couple of spiritual gifts inventories. In 1997, I scored highest in exhortation, helps, and leadership, followed closely by administration, hospitality, prophecy, and service. In 2000, I scored highest in leadership, helps, teaching, wisdom, exhortation, giving, and knowledge. We won't go into what I scored lowest on ... suffice it to say that one can't be gifted at all things.
I like to play the piano. Actually, I would like to be able to play the piano correctly - as opposed to as hard and as fast as I can. The picture to the right is of me playing "Give the World a Smile", my mom's favorite song. There's no audio, but it sounds better that way as the piano is out of tune. I did finally have the piano retuned in late 2009.
I taught myself to play the piano when I was growing up on church hymns and children's songs. Every now and then mom would provide advice like "I think you should hit a black note there." I tried taking the second semester of introduction to piano (without having the first) in the summer 1995, but I fear it messed me up more than it helped.
I like to play softball and other sports, but am not much for watching. Several years ago a student challenged me to a game of tennis. She had practiced and knew what she was doing, I had not. I'm not allowed to tell who won the game. While Decatur held the Community Challenge, I would play with Richland's softball team. I always sign up for other sports but end up hurting myself sliding or tripping during softball and can't play. We never win, but it's not about winning, it's about having fun. I played coed volleyball in the fall of 2006, but a treatment for a previous shoulder injury caused me to stop before the season was over. Some physical therapy relieved most of the pain.
I played a lot of water volleyball on vacation in May 2008 and the shoulder pain came back, but it was still a lot of fun.
I enjoy playing board games with friends, but don't do enough of it. I have a large collection of board and party games that fills a bookshelf. There are probably 60+ games in my collection.
I am trying to read more, but it takes me a while to get through a book. Maybe if I read fiction instead of people's doctoral dissertations it would go faster. I have read several books by John Shelby Spong and Marcus Borg. As a comparison of fiction to doctoral disserations, I read The Da Vinci Code in two days, so maybe fiction is a faster read than fact. A very interesting book I finished in 2005 was History: Fiction or Science by a Russian mathematician who sets out to prove that the whole chronology of events that we know is wrong and nothing before about 1000 years ago can be trusted. I finished volume 2 (it is a 7 volume chronology) although it took much of January and February 2006 to make it through the book. Volume 3 took from January through June 2008 to stumble through (astrology and astronomy aren't really my thing). Volume 4 only took parts of three months to finish and covered some things I'd heard of before although much of it was about Russian history.
As a senior in high school, reading and analyzing John Milton's Paradise Lost left me with a very sour taste for reading. Since then, most of what I had read was reference materials and non-fiction religious books. I read Dan Brown's books in the fall of 2004, but then became busy working on the single sign-on during the spring of 2005. During the summer of 2005, desperately needing a break and something to do to relax, I discovered that there was a name for the kind of book I enjoy, techno-thrillers, and went on a reading binge.
Here are some of the books I've read since then. This is not an endorsement, just an acknowledgement.
I like to travel and have been to all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Canada (Quebec, Ontario, and British Columbia), St. Martin, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize since March 2001.
The caricature at the top of the page was done in May 2001 at Six Flags in Arlington, TX. It was done two days before another caricature at the St. Louis Six Flags that, at the time, actually looked more like me. They both hang on my wall at home and people say, "the person on the left (the photo above) is you, but who is the one on the right?" That was the year I began my travels and ended up visiting Six Flags in Louisville, Houston, San Antonio, Arlington, St. Louis (twice), and Chicago, as well as Cedar Point in Sandusky, OH, and Worlds of Fun, in Kansas City, KC. I only visited Universal Studio's Islands of Adventure in 2002 and then had several years without visiting any amusement parks. In September 2007, I took advantage of a long weekend and visited King's Island, Geauga Lake, and Cedar Point, all in Ohio. Geauga Lake closed at the end of the 2007 season, so I managed to get there just in time, although I didn't know that at the time.
Spring 2002 took me out west to Phoenix for a conference but I took a little time and visited as many hot springs and pools as I could along the way. I also went to St. Martin for the first time that fall and thoroughly enjoyed it. The spring of 2003 involved another trip back to St. Martin.
I took a 4000 mile trip in July and August 2004 through the Eastern United States, adding 15 states and the District of Columbia to the list of states visited and about ten pounds to my weight from all the fast food I ate on the trip. I went bungee jumping over Valentine's Day weekend in 2005 and added WA and OR to the list of states. The jump was awesome! In May 2006, I went to UT for an ICTCM short course and visited WY, MT, ID, and ND to complete my visits to all forty-eight of the contiguous states. I visited HI in 2007 and finished with AK in 2008. The photo of me to the right was taken from the observation tower at Niagara Falls, NY, in August 2004.
I went back to St. Martin in August 2005 for a week on the beach with no Internet (or TV, radio, or phones) so I didn't have to think about the single sign-on. Here's a little advice to all of you who like to read at the beach. Don't lay your paperback book on your wet towel. A large number of the US citizens that I met had taken Calculus and were involved in technical or engineering fields. Upon hearing that I was a mathematics professor, one geophysicist began quoting the calculus differentiation rules that had been drilled into his head years ago.
I returned to Vancouver to go bungee jumping over Valentine's Day weekend in 2006. The weekend was very eventful, beginning with the nose gear on the plane locking in place, the Canadians shutting down the border because they can just leave if they feel threatened, missing the ferry by 3 minutes and by the time I got to the bungee jump being told that there were too many people and they weren't accepting anymore that day (I did get to jump the next day), having a crown break off, having a sore throat that turned into a cold, and then changing dentists because mine couldn't see me to fix the tooth for almost a week. But all in all, it was a decent trip and the new dentist fixed me right up.
Spring Break 2006 involved a trip to Orlando, FL, where I attended the annual meeting of the ICTCM group. Yes, it's vacation and I spent it at a conference. Did I mention that I really love teaching? I did manage to squeeze in some beach time and a trip to visit my brother while I was at it. As mentioned earlier, I got back from a trip to Utah in May 2006 for a conference. I went by Yellowstone National Park on the way out and Wind Cave National Park and Mt. Rushmore on the way back.
Christmas 2006 found me in Savannah, GA, and Hilton Head, SC, for a week. No new states were visited (obviously), but I did take the longer way home and saw more of SC, NC, TN, and KY than I had before.
I went to Maui, HI, in May 2007. Hawaii was partially enjoyable. I did finally (on my fifth try over the last several years) manage to snorkel thanks to someone actually taking the time to explain how to do it rather than handing me a mask and fins and saying "have fun". I tried surfing as well but I definitely would not say I'm able to surf. The Road to Hana has about 600 tight curves and 54 one lane bridges and was actually enjoyable driving until the tire blew while I was moving over to the side to allow someone to pass and I had to change it on a 1.5 lane road. That kind of killed the mood but luckily it was almost time to turn around anyway. About the only totally successful part of the trip was the ride down Haleakala on a bicycle although most of the time was spent riding the brakes that weren't functioning very well. I was in the rear of the procession wearing the bright yellow "Hit Me!" jacket. Most of the trip was spent with a cold I picked up after the first snorkeling trip and lasted over a week. The cold and constant nose blowing might have negatively affected my impressions of Hawaii. There were two beaches I wanted to visit in Hawaii and I did get to both. I spent about 20 minutes at one after driving to Hana and I finally made it to the beach that was my main reason for picking the hotel where I did on the last day of the trip, but it was overcast, so I only spent about 3 hours there.
I went to the Domincan Republic in July 2007. This trip was so much better than the Hawaii trip. I stayed at a very nice resort that was all-inclusive with some really nice meals. The beach was rocky and the water wasn't clear so the snorkeling wasn't that great but I still had a great time doing it anyway. The image to the right is of me kayaking in the ocean. They also had planned activities although, with only 6-18 guests at the resort, it was difficult to find people who wanted to participate. This was definitely different than my trips to St. Martin where there was little to do besides read.
I went to the Miami Beach, FL, area in December 2007. The weather was great (upper 70's to lower 80's with sunshine) every day and much better than the last time I was there when the temperatures were in the upper 60's. I had taken my waterproof camera case, but ended up not using it. In fact, the weather was so nice, I didn't take any day trips at all and just spent 3+ hours a day at the beach reading a book and doing a little swimming in the ocean. My hotel room was robbed of some cash while I was there, but that wasn't enough to ruin the vacation for me. The hotel ended up absorbing the cost of my incidentals, so I only ended up losing $100. Luckily, it was only money that was stolen.
Spring break 2008 took me back to Orlando, FL, for a week. I went indoor skydiving, which was a blast, but also a lot of work. I kept dropping to the floor and pushing myself off the wall back towards the middle. Most people won't mention this because they find it embarrasing, but it's funny, so I don't mind sharing: I slobbered a lot. I also went to Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, the Pirate Dinner Theatre, and miniature golfing. All of that was done in the first 48 hours there. After that, I just kicked back and did a lot of nothing including three trips to the beach an hour away. The Internet connection at the hotel was intermittent to absent and so I wasn't even able to do work, which I think may just be the purpose of vacation. Richland is not having another full-week off for spring break for at least the next couple of years, so it was important to get away while there was still a chance to do so.
In May 2008, I went back to the Dominican Republic for two weeks. There still weren't a lot of guests there, only between 14 and 30, but it was better than July 2007. I took on the role of unofficial greeter for the newcomers since I had been at the resort before and helped organize people so we all sat together at the after dinner show. Water volleyball was the primary daily activity this time and my shoulders paid the price. I played tennis one day and threw my back out again. I did get out and see some of the countryside this time, rather than staying at the resort for the entire two weeks. Despite the exercise, I still managed to put on about 12 pounds.
In July 2008, I made a day trip to Turkey Run State Park in Indiana. It was the first time, which I also guess makes it the only time, I had been to Turkey Run, although I had heard about it for years. I did a little trail exploration where the photo to the right was taken. Then I went canoeing down Sugar Creek. The original plan was to go tubing, but they don't put tubes in the water after 1 pm and I think canoeing was more fun anyway. It was a good way to spend the day and the weather was great.
I also took a 3026 mile driving tour to see the United States in July 2008. Alphabetically, in the list of places from the 2000 Census2, Aaronsburg, PA, comes first and Zwolle, LA, comes last. As you cross over from Pennsylvania to West Virginia, you have a small stretch of Maryland and there is a town there called Halfway, MD. So, I took a week to see America from A to Z and Halfway in between. Now that the trip is done, I must admit that I was a bit disappointed with Halfway, MD. Other than a sign that says "Halfway Rd", Halfway seems to be part of Hagarstown, even though the Census Bureau has it listed as a Census Designated Place with 10,065 people in it. I have a visitor's day pass to New Orleans that I got to ride the streetcar and then ended up walking everywhere. I ended up visiting IL, IN, OH, PA, MD, WV, VA, TN, GA, AL, MS, LA, AR, TX (even though it did only involve taking the western bypass around Texarkana), and MO on this trip.The only states in the southeastern US I missed on this trip were North and South Carolina, Florida, and Kentucky.
I went to Ketchikan, Alaska, in August 2008 and finished my quest to visit all 50 states. I had thought about taking a cruise, but I dislike how they bill based on double occupancy and so single travelers get penalized. I did a lot of walking around Ketchikan, visited the Misty Fjords, and watched a lumberjack show. Ketchikan bills itself as the salmon capital of the world and I did have some while I was there. I generally don't care for seafood, but with enough seasoning and sauce on it, it didn't taste fishy. Ketchikan is in a rain forest environment and gets about 12.5 ft of rain a year. I happened to pick the one week with sunny days and warm temperatures to visit. Residents told me they couldn't remember the last time they had four days in a row of weather like they were having. I'm kind of glad I packed shorts instead of long pants.
I went back to King's Island and Cedar Point over Labor Day weekend in 2008. This time, I spent two days at Cedar Point, which made things feel not so rushed. I was able to wait in line for the front car on some of the roller coasters. Normally, I don't care where I ride, I just don't like to wait in line. I also stopped by Dana, IN, and took a photo of the LORAN tower, which is mentioned as a problem in College Algebra, and visted Bedford, IN, where I took a picture of the grain company mentioned in the Finite Mathematics textbook. I have suspicions that this is actually what the author intended, though, because the place is incapable of supplying the amount of grain mentioned in the problem. While I was there, I visited Bluespring Caverns which is a cavern that you take a tour of on a boat. I was surprised to see this as the Penn's Cave I visited in July had some claim about being the only boat cavern tour in the US. I went back and re-read their claim and they're the only boat cavern tour with a wildlife park in the US.
I went to Six Flags in St Louis in late September and picked up a season pass for 2009 for only $30, so I was hoping to do a lot more trips that year than have been realized. The parking still kills you at $15 a visit, though. I visted the St Louis zoo for the first time since a child and still don't like the herpetology building. I visited the Gateway Arch while I was there. In early October, I also went to Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky and did the 4 mile Grand Avenue tour. I also went down a toboggan run and canoed 7.5 miles down the Green River. I was used to canoeing on a river that has a current, so this was a new experience.
I went to Jamaica in October 2008 for a long weekend. I spent most of the mornings on the beach reading a book and the afternoons getting a deep tissue massage or sitting in my room during the rain. Three days wasn't enough to fully appreciate all that the resort had to offer, so at this point, I will say that I still prefer the resort in the Dominican Republic or the beach in St Martin.
Now that I've been to all 50 states, I'm not sure what to do next. The trip to Jamaica was to experience something new, but now I'm back to tried and true things. I had thought about doing a cruise of the Panama Canal, but didn't feel I could dress up in a suit three nights for the formal dinners; there's also that issue of the single's supplement. In December 2008 and January 2009, I spent a week in Miami where I went to the beach every day, a week in Orlando where I went to a water park three days, and a week in the Dominican Republic where I did a lot of reading and water volleyball.
The Spring 2009 semester has seen severely limited trips. I did visit Matthiessen State Park near Utica in April. Due to the amount of rain received, the paths were very muddy and it was easier to take off the shoes and walk through the mud and the cold river than try and keep them on and dry. I also ended up taking a bath in the river when I lost my footing underneath the waterfall.
In May 2009, I went to Southeast Utah, visiting Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Dead Horse State Park, Natural Bridges National Monument, Valley of the Gods, Goosenecks State Park, Monument Valley, and revisiting Four Corners. I think I should hire myself out as a rainman, because everywhere I went, it seemed to rain. Since a lot of this area is very arid, they could use my talents. On the way out to Utah, I stopped at Elitch Gardens in Denver, but they are no longer a Six Flags property, so I wasn't able to use my season pass.
In June 2009, I went to Six Flags, St. Louis, for a couple of days where I put that season pass to good use. I even added the parking option to it, so I don't feel so bad about the second day where it rained after about 2 hours of being there and basically all the really good rides shutting down. The next weekend, I went to Marco Island, FL, and went jet-skiing for the first time. I also spent time walking on the beach, parasailing, and just relaxing at the pool. A couple of weeks later, I went to a conference in Ohio and then spent Sunday at King's Island. Since I was there in June, I guess my annual Labor Day weekend trip to Ohio amusement parks may not be realized this year.
I went to Six Flags Great America on the 4th of July. I heard one staff member saying they had 70,000 people there on the third when a normal day is between 15 and 27 thousand. I heard another person say that they spent eight hours there and was able to ride only two coasters. I'm glad I chose the 4th instead of the 3rd, because I was able to ride all of the coasters except for the ones in the kid's part of the park. I also discovered that I don't fit into the viper coaster very well (I didn't know my hips were getting that wide). I also finally experienced the "Superman" coaster that everyone talked about when I mentioned Firehawk at Kings Island. While you do fly suspended on both, part of the time on Firehawk is spent on your back rather than face down. Either way, the front of the train is a lot better than other cars. Sunday brought a trip to the Jelly Belly factory in Pleasant Prairie, WI. I bought a couple of bags and brought them back for my classes, who were suprised to find out we didn't have to weigh them before eating them.
I went back to the Domincan Republic for a week at the end of July, beginning of August 2009. While there I took a safari jeep tour, which was the full-day version of the half-day trip I had taken in May 2008. Luckily, there were different sites on this trip and so it wasn't boring for me. This time, I knew to bring candy for the children (try that in the States and see who comes after you) who chased after the truck yelling "Give me!". Strangely, the geophysicist I had met in St. Martin back in 2005 was at the same resort in the Dominican Republic so talked about old times. I went to Cheyenne, WY, at the end of August 2009 for a long weekend. While there, I went to downtown Cheyenne, the State Capitol, and Veedauwoo Recreation area where I took the hike around Turtle Rock. I also took 1175 pictures on the trip (actually, there were more, but I deleted some obviously bad ones like when I forgot to turn on the flash and the picture was blurry). In September 2009, I went to appreciation night for the season pass holders at Six Flags, St. Louis, went canoeing down the Meramac River, and went to Fisher Cave in Meramac State Park. Over Columbus Day weekend, 2009, I went to Rockford, Six Flags Great America, and then back to Matthiessen State Park to see it in the fall.
In 2009, the entire Christmas season was spent in Illinois for the first time in several years. However, between December and January, I did manage to get to Bloomington (twice), Kewanee, Bethany (three times), and Bluford and had a good time with family. Several of those included back roads and I stopped by and re-visited the Thompson Mill Covered Bridge near Cowden.
In May 2010, we took a 5,352.6 mile trip to Canada by way of Florida. We went through Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, Quebec, Ontario, Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana. We also visited Washington DC and Ottawa, the capital cities of the United States and Canada. We also took 5,566 photos on the trip, so that works out to slightly over 1 photo per mile although that's not how they were taken. Those photos resulted in 137 GB of images and necessitated a trip to the store to buy an external hard drive while on vacation. I will reiterate my dislike of toll roads, but they certainly did expedite the traveling. Upon re-entry to the United States in Buffalo, NY, I once again got stopped at the border coming back into the United States because someone with my name is on the government's watch list.
Columbus Day weekend in 2010 became a trip of visiting large objects. We started with a trip to the Headwaters of the Mississippi River near Bemidji, MN. Although the Mississippi River is not the longest river in the United States, it is closer to us than the Missouri River as it borders the western side of Illinois and is often used to divide the United States in half. In fact, we have visited almost every state with significant acreage3 east of the Mississippi in 2010, with plans to pick up Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama and December. While in North Dakota we saw a lot of large scupltures: a buffalo, holstein cow, sand crane, tin family, flying geese, fisherman's dream, and some others along the Enchanted Highway. In South Dakota, we visited the true geographic center of the United States (the one in the middle of no where, not the nice touristy site set up in Belle Fourche). On our way into Bell Fourche, we saw a sign that said "Devils Tower, 6.1 miles west on 34." What they meant was that we should turn west in 6.1 miles on 34; the Devil's Tower was in Wyoming and almost an hour away. We ended up going to Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Wall Drug, and the Badlands before heading home. We managed to visit Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, and Iowa on the trip. When I finished visiting the lower 48 States in 2006, North Dakota was the last state and I visited and I only saw about 20 miles of the southeast corner of it. This time, I saw substantially more of both North Dakota and Iowa than I had before.
December 2010 resulted in a 3168 mile road trip that finished a 2010 quest to visit all of the States that border or are east of the Mississippi river. We also took a Western Caribbean cruise and I added Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize to the list of countries I've visited.
In late May and early June 2011, we traveled out west and visted Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, and Iowa in a 6444 mile trip. Along the way, we stopped at the Oklahoma bombing site, the Cadillac Ranch sculpture, the Petroglyph National Monument, the Petrified Forest National Park, Meteorite Crater, the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, the Redwoods, Mt St Helens, Antelope Island, and the Bingham Canyon copper mine. We were going to visit Yellowstone, in fact, it was one of the major points of the trip, but late spring snows and cold weather caused us to bypass that portion of the trip. Another highlight of the trip was the visit to Argenta, MT, which is more like a ghost town. It's not actually incorporated, it's a populated place, and so there are no "Welcome to Argenta" signs. After traveling about 8 miles in the rain on a dirt road that turned into one lane and was headed into the mountains and the snow, we finally turned around, decided that clump of homes we passed was close enough, and that we had been there.
In May 2012, I finally visited the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (U.P.), one of the major portions of the country I hadn't been to before. Along with a visit to Mackinac Island, which involved a ferry ride and a horse-drawn carriage ride, we visited the Soo Locks in Sault Sainte Marie, MI, and then went across the border into Canada and visited the Spruce Haven Zoo. Waterfalls are plentiful in the U.P. and we saw several that didn't require too much of a hike. The highlight of the trip, however, was probably Lakenland; a junkyard sculpture park outside Marquette, MI. Our trip extended to Copper Harbor on the Keweenaw Peninusula. Then we went over to Duluth and spent a couple of days in Bloomington, MN, and went to Ikea, but not the Mall of America. The trip ended on Memorial Day by heading south through Iowa and into Missouri before heading home. The trip was a short one, only 7 states, 2 countries, 2174 miles, and 10 days. This trip did reset the counter on States visited, though.
December 2012 brought another trip to 2706 mile trip to Florida, this time through KY, TN, NC, SC, GA, AL, and finally FL. We stopped at zoos in Pigeon Forge, Montgomery, Gulf Breeze, FL, (twice), and aquariums in Charleston and Ft. Walton Beach.
In May 2013, we went to North Carolina for the USCOTS conference and then traveled north to Baltimore, MD, before heading back home. We went through IN, OH, WV, VA, NC, MD, and PA and stopped at zoos in Columbus, OH, Natural Bridge, VA, Durham, NC, Washington, DC, and Batimore, MD. The one in Natural Bridge was a drive through safari and the animals came right up to the vehicle and even tried to stick their heads inside to get the food pellets. One camel stuck his head all the way in across the passenger seat to the driver's side to get the food. I wasn't allowed to repeat the experience to get a good picture.
June 2013 involved an over 3,000 mile trip to InstructureCon in Park City, UT. Along the way, we stopped at the Great Pyramids of Wyoming (there's really only one and it's known as the Ames Monument), the very first J.C. Penney's store in Kemmerer, WY, and a nice beach on the north shore of Bear Lake. As normal, a visit to Salt Lake City means a visit to Antelope Island. This was my third time and it loses some of its appeal each time, although we did see a huge herd of bison walking along the lake. States visited include MO, NE, WY, UT, and ID.
In December 2013, we visited a water park in Dubuque, IA. Plans to go back to Andalusia, IL, to go snow tubing were cancelled because of the bad weather and the sickness experienced at the water park.
June 2014 involved another trip to InstructureCon in Park City, UT, but this time by plane. We ended up spending a couple of days in Salt Lake City before that and visisted the Hogle Zoo.
A very brief trip in July 2014 took us to the Children's Museum in Indianapolis, IN, and then Zoo in Fort Wayne, IN.
In November, 2014, I finished a personal quest to visit all 102 counties in Illinois. I restarted the list in December 2011 and so I finished all of them within 3 years.
In December 2014, we went to the Florida Keys. Along the way, we stopped at a light show and the zoo in Memphis, the Gulf Breeze, FL, zoo, an aligator and turtle farm in Louisiana, an airboat ride in the Florida everglades, Raccoon Mountain Caverns in Chattanooga, TN, Theater of the Seas in Islamorada, FL, Seaworld, Aquatica, and Medieval Times in Orlando, and children's museums in Hammond, LA, Boynton Beach, FL, and Orlando, FL. The 3675.6 miles trip took 19 days and visited MO, AR, TN, MS, LA, AL, FL, GA, and KY.
In December 2015, we went on a Western Caribbean cruise to Cozumel, Belize, and Roatán. In Cozumel, we swam with the dolphins and it was awesome to have two dolphins swim up behind you and push you out of the water as your rode them for 20 yards. We then visited San Antonio, Austin, and the Dallas-Fort Worth areas, spending an afternoon at a trampoline park, and stopping for a brief moment at Richland College in Dallas on our way back. States visited inlcluded MO, AR, TN, MS, LA, and TX.
In December 2016, we took a 19 day and about 3600 mile trip and spent a few days in Sevierville, TN, and a week in Marathon, FL. We visited the dinosaurs, walked among the Kangaroos, saw the Niagra Falls of the South (which is not nearly as impressive as the real one), visited the place where Col. Sanders had his start, and drove past the highest point in Kentucky. In Tennessee we visited the another exotic animal park, trampoline park, and went to the aquarium. In South Carolina, we went to Edventure and saw the 40' child Eddie. In Florida, we went back to the Theater of the Seas, Key West, Bahia Honda beach, and Sombrero Beach. While we were at Sombrero Beach the second time, they cordoned off a walk-way because they were releasing a turtle from the rescue hospital. They normally don't get that elaborate, but it turns out that a dignatary was coming and I was thinking, "great, some local politician." They were late, but when it finally happened, it turned out to be former President Jimmy Carter and his family. They were filming it for a news piece and I'm actually in the background -- they weren't kidding when they say the camera adds 70 pounds. In Alabama we stopped at another trampoline park. When it was all done, we had visited IL, IN, KY, VA, TN, NC, SC, FL, AL, MS, AR, and MO.
I was selected to speak at InstructureCon (the national Canvas conference) in July 2017. As my first presentation at a conference since I was an undergraduate student at Eastern Illinois Univeristy, I was kind of stressing out over the presentation. Things were going well, the audience was interested in what I had to say, but with about 10 minutes left in the presentation they made us evacuate the room because of a fire alarm. The trip took us 3206.2 miles through IL, MO, KS, CO, NM, OK, TX, LA, and AR. We went trail riding on horseback and the trip included visits to zoos, wolf rescue centers, gator farms, childrens museums, and a volcano.
In July 2018, we went back to the InstructureCon conference in Colorado. This trip took us through IL, MO, KS, CO, WY, SD, MN, and NE. We visited a water park, an amusement park, Mt. Rushmore, a drive through bear safari, a prairie dog farm, the Badlands, Wall Drug, and a children's museum. We also went horseback riding, had both kids get sick, and I spent 4 hours getting emergency dental work done after biting into a frozen candy bar shattered my front tooth.
The summer of 2019 was supposed to involve a big 3-week cross-country trip to InstructureCon.. I took the summer off for the first time since I started teaching and the family started on a big trip. We made it north through WI, MN, ND, and MT before having to turn around and rush back home. We ended up flying to the conference where I was honored during a keynote session for the contributions I've made to the Canvas Community.
In December 2019, we went back to Sevierville, TN, this time staying at an indoor waterpark. We walked among the kangaroos again, stopped at the Adventure Science Center in Nashville, saw the pirates, lumberjacks, and magic show, before returning home. We went through IL, IN, KY, and TN.
In 2020, I went nowhere after March 8. COVID-19 shut the country down. All of the trips we had planned on taking were canceled by the organizer or we decided not to travel.
If you want to know anything else about me, feel free to ask. I may not answer, but that shouldn't stop you from asking.
1. I finally weighed more than 200 lbs during the 2001-2002 winter and continued to gain until reaching about 215 lbs during the summer 2003. The one exception was in May 2003 in a Pilot Travel Center in Oak Grove, KY, where you put a quarter in and you get your weight and horoscope. After getting a weight reading of 183 lbs, I laughed so hard that I left before getting my horoscope. I used another of those machines at the outlet mall in West Frankfort, IL, in April 2005, and it said my exact weight was 180.3 lbs. I once again laughed but stuck around for my fortune which was that money was going to be coming to my hands. I figured that's a big scam where they tell women that they weigh a lot less than they do and then the money coming to their hands is the money used to pay for all the new clothes bought to celebrate weighing so little. I finally switched to a digital scale in late 2003 after getting tired of getting about three different readings each morning on the old scale. The new scale read under 200 lbs (even if it was 199.5) for the first time on Nov 20, 2003. I was down to 184.5 on Dec 29, 2003. That's more than 30 lbs lost in two months and about 5 more pounds than I wanted to lose. Unfortunately, the weight crept back up in 2006 and I needed to lose about 30 lbs again. As of July 2007, I was back to about 10 pounds of where I would like to be and before taking off in December 2007, I was actually a little bit less than what the photo of the scale shows. I bought a new scale in September 2008. The old one got wet and I would step on it and it would read 213 pounds and then a few seconds later it would change to 196 pounds. To me, that is unreliable, so I replaced it. But alas, I will never be able to weigh 184.5 pounds with the new scale.
2. There are other lists of places that have Aaron, GA, as the first and Zzyzx, CA, as the last. In particular, the Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) has several "populated places" before Aaronsburg and after Zwolle. But for the purposes of my A to Z tour, I'm going by the list of Census places. Their requirements are that a place have retail, commerical, and residential activity, so many named locations are actually left off that list. For example, Newburg, IL, shows up on the GNIS list but not on the Census list. If you know where Newburg is (close to Argenta), you might understand why visiting Newburg wouldn't be memorable (no offense to those who live there). I was actually one town over from Zzyzx in 2002 without realizing it and an aerial view available on the Internet makes it look like nothing more than an interstate interchange. I am content with my choice for the list of names.
3.There are portions of Missouri (near St. Genevieve and Cape Girardeau) and Arkansas (near Butler, Bruins, Whitehall, Modoc, Crumrod, Snow Lake, Arkansas City, Yellow Bayou, Shives, and Readland) where the course of the Mississippi River has changed since the state boundaries were established. At these places, Missouri and Arkansas are technically east of the Mississippi River, but the amount of area in each of those places is small; not enough to warrant the state being considered east of the Mississippi. Although most of Louisiana is west of the Mississippi River, The southeastern tip is not. This includes the capital of Baton Rouge and the largest city of New Orleans. According to 2006 Census Bureau estimates, about 49% of the population of Louisiana is east (or north) of the Mississippi, so it can hardly be discounted as being west of the Mississippi in any category other than land mass. Other people don't consider Minnesota to be east of the Mississippi, but since the river originates there, it is north, east, south, and west of the river. According to the 2008 popuation estimates from the Census Bureau, approximate 33% of the population in Minnesota lives east or northeast of the Mississippi River. In addition, the state capital, St. Paul, is east of the Mississippi River.