A Little Bit About Myself

The Rhetoric of Donald Trump, book cover - Scenic landscape & plate of pasta - photos by Pexel

As a teacher and scholar my life has been energized by the idea that rhetoric and reason are tools for building a productive, just, and inclusive society, with a strong sense of community.  Those ideas are also reflected in my personal life.  Academic debate led me to the study of rhetoric and argument.  My experiences as a graduate student coach at Northwestern and KU, along with my work as a Director of Forensics at Baylor and KU introduced me to students and colleagues who have become lifelong friends.  I am immensely proud of the many accomplishments of former debaters with whom I worked!

One of the difficulties of academic research is that it takes months or even years before the final product is published.  In my personal life, my hobbies include gardening, travel, and especially cooking, where the payoffs are more immediate.  In gardening I have transitioned from being a planner and planter to someone who does the weeding and moves the wheelbarrow filled with compost, because my wife, Donna Paul, is simply a better gardener than I ever could be.  This spring we added ten cubic yards of compost (roughly 16,000 pounds) to our various garden beds.  It was exhausting, but satisfying work. 

Another favorite hobby is travel, with France, Scotland, and New Mexico as particular favorites.  Much of our travel is focused on beautiful landscapes either in the form of vistas or in museums.  My wife is a gifted painter and I learn from her on our various travels.  I have six of her paintings on the wall in front of my desk at home.  When I look at them, I am reminded of the power of art to take us out of our here and now, providing solace, insight, joy or other strong positive emotion.  My other great hobby is cooking where I specialize on country French (beef burgundy, vinegar chicken, Alsatian onion tart, and so forth), New Mexico (cheese and onion enchiladas, various tacos, and posole), Italian (pasta and pizza), and multiple dishes in an Instant Pot pressure cooker, many of which are spicy curries.   One of the great advantages of cooking is that it takes you away from the travails of the world, and the last five years, since the end of the Obama presidency, have been particularly difficult, and then when the recipe is done you have a satisfying dinner.  Wine and jazz by the great Bill Evans go especially well with those dinners.