Personal Interests

 

 

FAMILY

 

I am a proud father of three children, Hunter, Sierra, and Bella, and husband to my beautiful wife and best friend, Becky.  And lets not forget our chocolate labradoodle, Georgia.  My wife and I are high school sweethearts who have been together since April 10, 1993.  We got married April 28, 2001 after we graduated from Western Kentucky University (her in 1998; Journalism and me in 2000; Geography) and moved to one of the best places on Earth, Athens, GA.  I attended graduate school at the University of Georgia where I received my M.S. and Ph.D. degrees specializing in geography and the atmospheric sciences.  Also during graduate school, Becky and I decided to start our family.  Hunter was born September 2, 2003, which was about my second week into the start of my Ph.D. program.  We also bought our first house that summer.  On April 28, 2005, Sierra was born (note, our wedding anniversary).  And since being completely poor in graduate school and trying to finish a Ph.D. wasn't challenging enough, we decided to have our third and final child, Bella, who was born November 1, 2007.  I graduated with a Ph.D. on August 2, 2008 and moved back to Bowling Green, KY on August 3, 2008 in pursuit of my new career as a professor of meteorology and climatology in the Meteorology Program at Western Kentucky University.  It was quite strange ending up back in a place where we thought we would never live again, but we are firm believers that everything happens the way it is suppose to and to let life happen.  We are especially happy to be closer to both of our families, who live about 0.25 mi from each other in Evansville, IN., and to be back in a location with a distinct four-season climate.  Overall, we are extremely family-oriented and we love to spend time with each other doing anything and everything we can come up with together (e.g., traveling, concerts, movies, camping, Disney World, watching storms...you name it).

 

 

 

 

 

 

MUSIC

Lets just say that I am as passionate about music as the other major priorities in my life.  Rather than a music junkie per se, I am more of a music snob.  That is, I pretty much do not like anything played over the traditional radio (as opposed to satellite transmission) these days.  This is funny because when I was younger, I would sit and stare at the radio waiting for the DJ to play that one song again.  My parents were teens during the late 60s/early 70s, so I basically grew up with the popular music of that time as the soundtrack for much of my youth. At the time I didn't think much of it as I transitioned into the 80s MTV era.  As with many, I latched on to some seriously terrible music during my adolescent years, weaving in and out of various 80s acts and early 90s alternative music.  That is not to say that everything was awful of course, but the greater majority of what I was listening to at the time certainly was. 

In the 6th grade, I remember begging my parents to let me attend that once in a lifetime Poison concert. And again with Bon Jovi, and many others...denied.  It was the spring of 1992 during my freshman year in high school when I was finally allowed to attend my first concert -Metallica at Roberts Stadium in Evansville, IN. In short, it was the coolest thing I had ever participated in up to that point. I couldn't wait to do it again. This was followed by the Black Crowes, Lollapollooza '93 at Buckeye Lake in Ohio and '94 at Tinley Park just outside of Chicago, Pink Floyd '94 in Nashville, Page and Plant '95 in Indianapolis, and a ton of other acts.  In the backdrop of my more edgier taste in music, a group of people that I ran around with in high school was in constant pursuit to send me to a Grateful Dead concert. They swore it would change my life and persistently told me how a Grateful Dead concert was a uniquely gratifying concert experience unmatched by any other act.  After giving the band a few listens on tape (yes tape), I was completely bored out of mind with the music.  I wanted to rock, not rock-a-bye baby! Although one could argue, why Pink Floyd? That goes back to my personal soundtrack. Pink Floyd is the only band that takes me back to the age of four, which I remember quite well.  They are a true time portal that triggers the earliest of all of my memories.

Well, spring break of my senior year of high school (1995) arrived with nothing to do.  I was never in to the Florida beach club scene, which was "the" thing to do for spring break (which I have yet to understand, besides the obvious).  But in my final year, I wanted to do something that I could look back on as a risk or adventurous move for spring break.  That is when I decided to cave and check out this Grateful Dead band.  It didn't matter where they were playing in the country, I was going to find them as my spring break adventure.  Lucky for me, there were spending five nights (four concerts) at the great Omni in Atlanta.  I picked up tickets for me and my girlfriend (now wife) for two shows and we headed down for the week.  Once we arrived, the scene was like stepping back in time to the hippy hay days.  I felt like I was on a movie set.  It was awesome to say the least and I wanted more of it.  Going into the show was actually a drag because I wanted to stay out in the parking lot, but I drove 6 hours so I thought that I might as well head inside to check out the fuss. 

By this time, I was not a concert rookie. I had seen some serious productions, but nothing, and I mean nothing, matched the crowd energy that exploded once the band took the stage. I was blown away.  And when I thought I had never heard such a loud, rowdy crowd before, Jerry Garcia took the stage last and the place erupted a few notches more.  I didn't even like this band (yet) and I felt like I was a part of something magical and historical and I felt sorry for anyone else who was not there.  I wanted to call everyone and tell them about it right then, and this was all before a single note was played.  By the end of the run, my musical tastes were overhauled like an on/off switch.  The Grateful Dead helped me move to a world of improvisational music, which encompasses a wide variety of styles and flavors.  As cliché as it is, once the Grateful Dead disbanded after the death of Garcia, we were quickly persuaded to check out this other band called Phish.  It took a couple shows to acquire the taste, but like most acquired tastes, once you discover your likeness for it, you crave it even more.  Following Phish around the country defined my undergraduate college years starting in Fall 1995.  My wife and I have seen every Phish show together, mounting up to just under 100 shows.  How can you see the same band so many times and still like it? The same reason you enjoy having conversations with people you like.  Music is a universal language (Remember Close Encounters of the Third Kind?), that which should flow like a conversation; fluid with inflection without thought, all while making sense.  Not a pre-packaged production like a speech or presentation. And the conversation doesn't  have to last long to enjoy it (e.g., bluegrass improvisation).  Although, there are certainly exceptions to the rule, such as classical music.  No two Phish concerts are identical (with nearly 500 songs, you can easily pull that off), and that's only part of what makes it exciting.

Naturally, my passion for music have pushed me to learn how to play.  I started off playing bass and I thought it was easy. I moved quickly over to a fretless bass and soon realized that I had no clue how to play bass at all. My intention was to move to guitar, a seemingly more difficult instrument, and then come back to the bass more polished.  That day has yet to arrive, mainly because I fell in love with the guitar.  I have played in a few bands along the way during my undergraduate college years and had some of the best memories from doing so. In a traditional sense, I am 100% completely self-taught (i.e., I have never taken a single lesson from anyone, paid or not).  But realistically, my friends taught me how to play music and I thank them for that.  When I moved to Georgia for graduate school, I transitioned from my instrumental, electric improv act to an americana folkgrass gig.  I had to give up the electric and move to something much more difficult -the acoustic. I got involved with a great group of wonderful people and learned a whole new style that I continue to work with today.  Perhaps one day I'll get back out there and give it another round on the live scene. Nothing beats playing before a live, listening audience (note the listening part. I don't want to be background music in some dive).  Perhaps that void is filled with the teaching part of my career. I get to perform and improvise in the classroom, which quite satisfying. I guess I need to figure out a way to work the guitar into my lectures.

 

WEATHER

At the age of four during the spring of 1981, I experienced my first tornado, and up close.  I was at my devil of a babysitter's house and it was naptime.  I recall the flashing lightning and loud thunder, heavy rain, high winds, and how distinctly green the atmosphere looked.  At times it was raining so hard that I could not see past the window.  The storm woke up many kids that quickly grew frightened.  For whatever reason, I thought it was the neatest thing and most definitely not scary. Later my dad picked me up and we headed downtown to pick my mom up from work.  Even today I can photographically recall trees and other limbs down all over. When we arrived downtown, I remember a billboard that was bent in half.  And later when we got back home, power lines were laying across our yard and of course we had no electricity.  Again, I thought the whole thing was simply amazing.  I knew right then that I wanted to see something like that again and to learn more about it.  Without acknowledging it directly, I effectively knew what I wanted to do for a career.  Having said that, I didn't know that I wanted to be an academic until I was half way through my M.S. degree program.  Either way, all through life I have always dropped everything to during severe weather (including during day jobs that got me in trouble at times). As I grew older, just a simple short-lived thunderstorm is all it takes to get my blood pumping.  I love it!  I had mainly stuck to chasing local storms until graduate school, when I finally ventured out to the Great Plains.  And when I'm not out in the central land ocean, I have always enjoyed nowcasting for colleagues on the hunt; although current technology and data availability does not require those kinds of phone calls as much these days.

 

One of my life-long dreams has come to fruition -to teach a field-based forecasting course with the focus on severe convective storms.  This four week class is offered [mainly] to WKU meteorology majors each May term, where we head out to the Great Plains for 14 days to forecast, track, and analyzed all forms of severe weather.  This class serves as the capstone learning experience for majors in the Meteorology Program at WKU.

 

 

 

 

 

updated 25 June 2010