Welcome to my website. Here you can find everything you really need to know about me: where I come from, what I like (and don't like), and what I'm good at. On this page are some of the biggest elements in my life that make, and have made, me who I am.
My family is obviously a big part of who I am. I am the second oldest of four with an older brother and two younger sisters. I also have a brother-in-law and a sister-in-law. On top of that, I have two nephews and a niece and all four of my grandparents are still alive and well. Of my siblings, I am the only one still based in Ohio as my other siblings are scattered near and far, but not far enough I can't see them regularly. My extended family on my dad's side is largely still based in Ohio, so I see all of them fairly regularly. Our extended family on my mom's side is mostly based out west, so we see them less frequently. Thanks to cell phones, Facebook, and Skype, though, we are more in touch than ever. My family, my siblings in particular, are my greatest supporters and the most reliable people in my life. Even though, like any family, we have our disagreements here and there, I find myself increasingly grateful to be connected to all of them!
Kent, Ohio is my hometown. I have lived here most of my life and no matter where I go, this always has been, and always will be, home. It's a city of about 30,000 people in northeastern Ohio, probably best known as the home of Kent State University. KSU has some 29,000 students on the main campus, so that makes Kent quite the college town. I have received all my formal education here (outside three years at Brigham Young University-Idaho), graduating from Theodore Roosevelt High School in 2000 and holding two degrees from Kent State University: my Bachelor of Arts in Music and a Master of Arts in Teaching degree. That's not to say I've never lived anywhere else in the country, but a lot of my development has happened right here in the Tree City. I've also grown quite interested in the history of Kent and am a member of the Kent Historical Society. Ever read the Wikipedia article on Kent? I pretty much researched and wrote the entire article and took most of the pictures and even greated some other graphics for it, on top of taking it through two lenghthy review processes. So yeah, I know a lot about Kent, which helps me appreciate it even more!
Obviously with a degree in music, the arts are very important to me. I have always enjoyed singing and still take advantage of opportunities to perform whenever I can find them. Since I was in high school I've sung the National Anthem for various sporting events, which has included several performances at Kent State and in Cleveland for Cleveland Indians games. I also am a big fan of acting, so I enjoy participating in theater. Every summer since 2004 (except 2008 while I was in graduate school), I have been in the cast of This is Kirtland!, an original musical about the early LDS (Mormon) settlers in Kirtland, Ohio, in the 1830s. In 2013, I am directing this production after serving as part of the script committee the previous two seasons in addition to being in the cast. I also played the part of Pharaoh in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at Weathervane Community Playhouse in Akron in 2009.
I really enjoy the study of history. In particular, my favorite aspects of history are local history (proud member of the Kent Historical Society), Latter-day Saint (Mormon) history, as well as topics like ancient civilizations (especially Greece, Rome, and Carthage), and the Middle Ages. Studying history allows us to learn so much about why things are they way they are and, of course, how to avoid making some of the same mistakes over and over. As the saying goes, "those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it." In addition to studying the history of different periods, I also enjoy the history of sports, especially in relation to the various sporting arenas. Baseball in particular has a rich history of sports architecture, all of which greatly influenced (and continues to influence) the game, more than any other sport. Of course, studying about history is great, but whenever I get a chance to visit a historical site, I take it. Being at the actual site takes history to the next level of something that did really happen as opposed to something I just read or heard about.
Although I've never considered myself talented in playing sports, I have always enjoyed playing them and watching them. As I mentioned, I enjoy the history of sports, and that includes the statistics, great games, the venues, and the great players. On top of that, I like how sports can bring a community together. I follow sports casually, though I often attend sporting events at the local, college, and professional levels. Being a local guy, I definitely follow the local Cleveland teams (Indians, Browns, Cavaliers), as well as my alma mater Kent State. I also am a fan of the Ohio State Buckeyes and have been able to attend a few OSU football games in Columbus and one when they played in Cleveland. Occasionally I will take "road trips" with my teams, but half of that is just to see the different sporting venues around the area. Whenever I visit a different city, I always try to visit at least one of the local stadiums (especially baseball ones).
Photography & Writing
Perhaps you may have already figured out some of my other hobbies and interests as I've described others above. For one, I obviously enjoy photography. Virtually all of the pictures here were taken by me or with my camera. I don't consider myself a trained photographer by any means, but I know enough about lighting, positioning, focus, and camera settings to get decent pictures. My photography hobby goes right along with my love of history and also of architecture. Many times I am photographing buildings for history's sake, or to include in a relevant Wikipedia article (another interest!). I also enjoy blogging, as evidenced by my three blogs. Writing is very therapeutic in helping to relieve stress and just process what I'm thinking. I also keep a daily journal, which is hand-written. I have found great value in my journal, not only in remembering things better, but in developing good writing habits and a daily routine.
Seeing as religion is an organized system of beliefs and cultural customs, I'd say it's a pretty important factor in who I am. I'd say, though, that rather than me being molded by religion, I am part of a religion that I most identify with. As much as growing up in Kent, Ohio has shaped me, so has growing up a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, known more commonly as the Mormons. Not only has the theology greatly influenced my views on the world, but it has strengthened my relationships with family and friends, both in and out of the church, and helped me make sense of the world around me in a logical way. My local congregation, known as a ward, is like a second family to me. I did serve a two-year mission in the church's Arizona Tucson Mission, which included stops in southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico. By no means was I forced to go. As difficult as serving a mission was, I have never regretted it and feel it not only has helped make me a better person, but has given me a much better perspective on so many things.