Life Outside WVU

(12,000 Words Worth)

Let's face it. Life is short. I am extremely excited about my work, both in teaching and research. But life is not complete without other sources of fulfillment.

As you can see, my favorite hobbies are outdoors! That's part of why I became an ecologist - some of the time, when I'm 'working', I'm outdoors. But my spare time activities ensure that I get to enjoy the outdoors even more. Sailing, flyfishing, kayaking, tennis, riding my bike, running, swimming, and photography are my favorite pasttimes. Most of all, I love downhill skiing, and while we have some semblance of this nearby in West Virginia, I particularly like heading to the western slopes when I can get away, preferably with my brother(s), family or friends. My whole family skis or snowboards, so it's a great unifier for us. I enjoy making videos of our ski adventures as well, and six of them are now posted on Google Video or YouTube (Big Sky Dream, Sunshine Village Perfect Day, Moonlight Basin Vapour Trails, Moonlighting In Montana, One Cold Winter Morning, I Go Too Far, and Rising Up). Sorry if not all the links work; copyright issues...

I also enjoy tennis. Used to be a fair player in high school, and while I could probably beat my high school self now, it's mainly because the equipment has gotten so good. The pictures also indicate that my family is very important to me - my incredibly talented wife and amazing grownup 'kids'. They get lots of attention from me.

I like to think of my graduate students as extended family too. I appreciate all the hard work they do - the tedium in the field, the weather, the classwork, the teaching, the discussions of ideas from esoteric to mundane. I've been fortunate to have many excellent students work with me over the years and my current group is no exception. Alyssa Hanna, Zach Bradford, Jessica Turner, Amy Hruska, Whitney Bailey, and Jennifer Chandler form the current crew, all in various phases of their research from just starting to finishing up.

Outside WVU, I make a concerted effort to live my beliefs about the importance of conserving the world's biodiversity for the future. Though I'm not an ascetic by any means, I recycle, I re-use, and I think about my impact on the planet. I co-led an effort with my neighbors to establish a Nature Preserve - Forks of Cheat Forest, which now protects 100 acres of land including some of the best old growth in the region. Recently, we have seen a fisher, a bear and a bobcat on the property. And a bald eagle has visited multiple times as it cruises the shore of Cheat Lake.

One step I made a few years ago to live my convictions was to purchase a 2004 Toyota Prius; 60 MPG in the city, 51 on the highway; driving it through LA on a smoggy day would contribute to cleaning up the air, rather than polluting it. I managed over 60 mpg on one tank in summer, 2008 while cruising through some western National Parks. We've got to lower our reliance on fossil fuel and while the Prius is only a step on the way to a revolution in energy policy, it's an important one, and one of the better ones available now. My original Prius now has over 175,000 miles on it; at ca. $3.00/gallon, that's lots of money saved, plus a lot less carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. We recently acquired a second 2010 Prius which my wife uses almost exclusively for her travels around the state. Meanwhile, I purchased a 2008 Prius for the annual ginseng censusing journeys.

Details on my latest quality of life project can be found here: BSD

And if you really want to dig deep, visit me at my facebook site or visit my blog!

2004 Toyota Prius