Saturday, June 25, 2011


Hypothetically speaking, if one were specializing in an area related to food - say culinary arts, for example - and one prepared sumptuous yet nutritious meals for her, or his, spouse all the time, and then that someone went overseas for awhile leaving the spouse alone for awhile, that someone would probably be rather concerned about the eating patterns of said spouse. Right? And if that said spouse had an ounce of integrity, he, or she, would probably take steps to set the someone's mind at ease, say by offering up proof of a well-balanced diet. Furthermore, if that proof also contained a metal object - say a wrench - this might assure the someone that the spouse was making a strong effort at solving household problems (like plumbing) independently before spending lots of money on a professional.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Bye Bye Love

I said my goodbyes to JooYeon at the Columbus airport (in this case, the goodbyes really were plural; her flight got delayed 25 hours and so I came back, stayed with her in a hotel, and then said another goodbye the next morning). After that, I headed westward towards Indiana where I settled in with the Stricklers for a few days.

Their garden was thriving... and even moving. A few weeks before my visit, they had come across a sale on chickens at Lowes and so they picked up half a dozen. They wanted them to be free range and that's exactly what the chickens were doing when I arrived (no fences, no boundaries, just strutting around).

Weston petitioned me for the fist-a-cut that we had used regularly when travelling India. Basically, I just grab hair all over the head and cut off anything that extends beyond my fist. I forgot to take an After picture, but there are some pictures below with Wes in them so that you can see the results.

In addition to the chickens, the Stricklers had won a new pool in a local contest. It was quite a funny story (better told by Wes) as he had been planning a proposal for Jenny on the day he won the pool. He was so focused on working out the details, that he just responded to the radio announcer by saying distractedly, "Oh cool. A pool. Thanks." The announcer was shocked and said, "Aren't you excited??? You just won a pool!!!" Wes just responded, "Yeah, that's neat."

I visited Jenny's new yoga studio for a session which reminded me about ways in which my body simply does not seem to bend.

We also paid a visit to the Kokomo farmer's market, where Wes, Jenny, and I all read a bit of poetry as part of the morning's entertainment. The short video clip of the poem I read (which had actually been written by Tammy) can be found HERE if you want to watch.

Grandma and Grandpa Hensler (sp?) were preparing for their 63rd wedding anniversary and so Grandpa read a few poems of his own, including a sweet love poem to his wife.

Brandi, a friend of Wes and Jenny, had us over for a seafood grillout (shrimp pasta, bruschetta, and salmon cooked over a small bonfire).

Not content to simply "Go round the mulberry bush," I devoured its berries as they were in full bloom during our visit.

Apologies for the brevity of this entry; I'm trying to get something uploaded despite lack of time so that Joo can at least have a few pictures of what has been going on here!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

New Beginnings

After spending a week in a cabin up at Massanutten Mountain (in Virginia), Bob and Heather cruised westward with their 2.5 tonnes of accumulated possessions. We met them at Mom and Dad's house where we watched them open wedding gifts (including the above portrait drawn by Jusu). Our gift came attached with an ulterior motive; it was a welcome package to Athens with gift certificates to our favorite spots (to ensure that they really would have to visit us a few times over the course of this next year that they'll be living in Ohio).

Due to a bit of switching around the cards that Joo and I had individually planned to give to Bob and Heather and to Dad (for Father's day), Dad ended up with his first wedding dress. It was a bit small for him. The Asdrubel Cabrera bobblehead that Joo had picked up at a thrift store was, however, a much better fit.

Since I was heading to a conference in Oxford, Ohio, Joo and I spent the night at Bob and Heather's new place. They were wonderful hosts, despite having only lived in the house for a couple days.

Heather cooked us up an experimental Mexican recipe with lots of wholesome goodies wrapped in a tortilla.

Then, we moved to the living room. You can see here how well they were able to set things up within two days. I think it took JooYeon and I about 4 or 5 months to get to this level of coziness with our place.
Heather was thrilled to try out some of her new cookingware she had received as wedding gifts...

At Miami University, I delivered my first solo conference presentation. It was a conference for GeoGebra, which is a free software that offers all kinds of cool ways to play around with algebra, geometry, statistics, and more. I had been in charge of a project to switch some of Ohio University's labs from a commercial software (Geometer's Sketchpad) to GeoGebra and so I gave a talk (or an interactive presentation, rather) at the conference. It was probably the most interesting conference I've attended, partly because of the almost comedic way that the two organizers played off of each other, heckling each other during keynote speeches and creating a sense of community among conference attendees. This was very fortunate for me because my computer crashed twice during my presentation and, thanks to the light-hearted atmosphere, it didn't interrupt the flow too much.

While JooYeon and I still haven't done too much couchsurfing hosting yet, we have continued to get random last-minute hosting opportunities. One night recently, I got a text at 8 am saying that an old student from when I taught in New Jersey (Erika), would be passing through Athens that evening to pick up a new puppy. JooYeon and I invited her to crash at our place, which gave us the chance to revisit a time in my life that now seems like the distant past.

After such a blah April, JooYeon and I reveled in a much better May. My SIAM poster entry on the mathematics behind online social networking was published (see it HERE), and some datasets I had compiled over Christmas break led to some fliers that were distributed on Capitol Hill last week in favor of the All Children are Equal act (you can read the handout HERE; please note that I didn't write the actual flier here; I only did the quantitative work behind the scenes).

I'm also trying to get more flexible at online editing so I've embedded both of the pdfs mentioned above right below here in the blog. Clicking on the leftmost button will make the document fullscreen so you can read it better. I believe this does NOT open a new window though, so if you view it, you will have to press back on your browser to return to the rest of the blog - which you will want to do; there is a rare video coming up!)
Online Social Networks

Talking Points (1)

Both of these are exciting because they are symbolic of a new stage in my life -- the production stage. In my journals throughout the past 10-15 years, I've often talked about how I felt like I was mostly in a collection stage. I was absorbing as many life experiences as possible and occasionally sifting through them, reflecting upon them, and making adjustments to my world view. But this past year, it feels as if I'm slowly transitioning to a time in my life where I feel comfortable disseminating some of my views/thoughts to the public. In the above cases, this includes my view on how math should be taught in a way that students see the relevancy to their lives (the SIAM handout) and that education should be a tool for promoting social equality rather than a hierarchical sorting mechanism (the ACE act piece).

Joo has also made a few strides herself towards what she feels is important in life. For one, she was awarded the President's award at Hocking College (modeled by the bear below), making her the only student in the entire college to win both a President's award and a JOMC scholarship (they were chosen based on two separate sets of criteria). She won the President's award partly because of her work in promoting Korean culture around the Hocking College campus (which is not particularly known for being multi-cultural).

But much more importantly, as she would say, was her baptism this morning. Becoming a part of the Korean church family here in Athens has been just as impacting on JooYeon as her culinary endeavors (and I suppose you could say that her first real attempts at exploring spirituality have been another major factor which led to this morning's baptism). I've included a short clip of the actual moment when she was baptized; if you would like to hear any more of the service, feel free to facebook her for some other clips (although they're all in Korean).

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Another one (Showalter) bites the dust!

But I must augment that blog title with a statement that this dust is truly in the wind (in that Bob is full of adventure and creativity!). Bob and Heather were married May 28th (Daniel writes this craftily as part of his secret ploy to be able to Google search all important dates so he doesn't have to memorize them).

It was a beautiful wedding, but let's rewind to a couple days before the wedding to capture more of the story. The bridesmaids had all ordered their dresses from a company in China to reap quite a savings. Three of the dresses arrived, but Joo's never came and the company was unable to be contacted. Heather went ahead and picked out a separate dress for Joo since it would have been impossible to match the other bridesmaids' dresses at that point. And then... two days before the wedding, the dress came.

Unfortunately, there were a couple other things that did NOT come on time. Namely, the best man and one of the bridesmaids. Bad weather had forced airlines to cancel the best man's flight and reroute Kristen (the bridesmaid) all over the U.S. So, Aunt Bonnie was a stand-in during the rehearsal.

Joo and I did make it for the rehearsal although that was in question for awhile also. We had let the gas tank get pretty low in order to make good time (at the time it was rational), and then were trapped on a stretch of back-country roads by the time we started looking. After our gas light came on, we passed three consecutive exits with no gas station signs and Joo started to question my logic about waiting to fill up.

I realized I had probably made a bad call, about the same time I was reminded that the same thing had happened when Chris Longenecker and I were driving out to get things ready for his wedding. The moral: Having gas before a wedding is a good thing.

But, with a couple stand-ins, we were able to eventually pull the rehearsal off.

The rehearsal dinner was held in a beautiful botanical gardens near the church in Richmond, Virginia. Cousin Laura was a bit bored at times (frustrated, at right in the picture below)...

... but she was soothed by the captivating fountain.

The wedding day itself ran incredibly smoothly. The best man drove through the night to arrive on time and Kristen made it in time to enjoy a morning of pampering (the bridesmaids went to get manicures, pedicures, and folicures or whatever kind of cure is for the hair).

Stacey King played the piano beautifully, although she probably wondered how creative she would have to get when the dual-footwashing ceremony stretched out for about 15 verses of Will You Let Me Be Your Servant.

Uncle Duane and Aunt Marilyn combined forces to pastor the wedding; unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of them; I suppose we'll have to wait on Heather's official pictures. In the meantime, another picture of the beautiful women in my life...

Kristen (shown below) had been Heather's roommate for awhile in Arizona and so they reminisced of old days as Heather prepares for her first ever male roommate.

Another big surprise was Grandma's decision to overcome all physical inconveniences and attend her final granddaughter's wedding. One of Heather's biggest motivations for moving out to Virginia these past two years has been to spend quality time with Grandma so it was touching to see Grandma make it.

For the children, Heather and Bob designed a unique little children's story halfway through the wedding. It was probably much-needed after the scary stories Marla had been telling on the bench outside the sanctuary. Notice the change in Ella's face before and after the story.

Just kidding of course, Marla did a wonderful job of helping out in crucial moments, as did the Groff boys (and many other people who aren't pictured). Lady readers, I do believe this one is single (the one on the left that is). Ben, feel free to comment if otherwise :)

Here's the groom (Bob) and his best man (Brett)...

Cousin Crystal...
Parents of the bridegroom...

One of the creative features of the wedding reception was the method of getting Heather and Bob to kiss. Rather than tapping the glasses with spoons, a table had to stand up and sing a song with the word "love" in it. Try this experiment really quickly. Try to think of the first five songs that come to your mind with the word love in it.

Were at least 1 or 2 of them Beatles songs? That seemed to be the case with our table anyway. After the wedding reception, Bob and Heather had one more surprise.

Rather than ride away in a fancy car, they chose to zip off on a tandem bicycle. :)

The rest of the evening was a fun blend of the two sides of my family (and Bob's as well). Since Joo and my wedding reception had been held in PA and VA, this was the first time that I had seen many of my Mom's and Dad's side interact with each other. Here Joo holds Baby Ruth.

So, with some minor mishaps in the days leading up to the wedding, it was a beautiful day of celebration. And, as I said in my toast, it's an older brother's delight and relief to see his little sis get married to someone who will truly respect and love her. Welcome to the family, Bob!