Who am I?

Al Below are some descriptions of various slices of my personal life. Other parts of this site give information about my professional life. On this page, you can find a brief biography, my thoughts about my faith in Christ, some details about my family, my educational background, and some personal interests. This is probably more than you care to know, so skip around as you please.

Biography

This will be brief because some aspects that may be included here are in separate sections below. I was primarily raised in St. Cloud, Minnesota (central part of the state) except for four years living in Fargo, ND while my father completed a Ph.D. in biology at NDSU. While in St. Cloud, we lived on the east side in rural Sherburne County (now a mile south of the airport). We lived adjacent to my grandfather's farm, on which I performed many chores and learned many things from my grandfather. My father was a biologist who worked for the ND game and fish dept., taught biology at both St. John's University and St. Cloud State University, and eventually ended up as an environmental biologist for Northern States Power (NSP - now Xcel Energy - a power company in MN). My mother was a homemaker and a teacher of elementary education.

I grew up in a family that often "lived off the land" by having large gardens and spending a lot of time fishing and hunting (or raising our own chickens and livestock). We went on many trips as a family, some shorter camping, fishing, or hunting trips while others were longer trips to various parts of the country. These helped shape who I am today and how I view the world. Slides of many of these trips, taken by my father, are part of a project that I am currently bringing to life digitally.

Details of my education are found below. After my sophomore year at St. John's University, I married Marcia Hopkins, who had just graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in Elementary Education. Her father had once hired mine as part of the Biology Department at SCSU. We lived in St. Joseph, MN for the next 1.5 years while I finished up at St. John's and she taught at Monticello Elementary School. In the summers, we lived at Big Oaks Campground, managing it and doing all the associated tasks; this was an employee campground for NSP. Our first child, Timothy was born while we were at Big Oaks in 1979. In the fall of 1979, I student taught at Sartell High School and then I was done with my B.A. at St. John's University.

I then had a long-term substitute position at Watertown Middle School (outside of Mpls.) and we lived in Buffalo, MN. I then secured a position at Albany High School and taught there for the next five years. During this time, our second child Carrie was born in 1983. After graduate work at the University of Notre Dame, we moved to Pella, IA, where we have been since. As indicated by this site, I am in the Mathematics Department at Central College in Pella. During our time here, our third child, Christina, was born.

Faith

I grew up knowing very little about the Bible, God, or Jesus, even though I did attend church sometimes when young (and did attend some church-related educational activities). By the time I was eleven, I had quit going to church or any related activities. A renewed interest awoke when I was sixteen, partly due to my sister's and mother's renewed faith and they were working out the Christian life. At this point, after being asked (at a coffee-house where I came to play ping-pong and hang out with Marcia) if I had thought about being a Christian, I took a walk home to think about it. (Home was 7 miles from where I was and it was March.) From that point, I made a commitment to walk the life that Jesus Christ outlined in the Bible. I have since tried to continue to grow in this new faith and live it out in my manner of conduct and principles that guide me. This commitment has made a profound change in my life and affected my viewpoint of the world. Currently, my family and I attend Third Reformed Church in Pella. While there are many attempts to craft statements of faith, here is one from Vineyard Churches that captures some of the important ingredients in a well-stated fashion.

Family

Information about my parents has already been give above. I have four brothers and one sister. The brothers live in Minnesota and Missouri and my sister has been in Minnesota but has recently moved to Florida for a few years, then California but is now back in MN. One took over my grandfather's farm, one had a business painting residential buildings and now sells aerial photographs, one is a homemaker who has spent years with child-care work, one is a chemical engineer with 3M, and the other is an entomologist with the USDA.

As indicated above, my immediate family (alternate picture) consists of my wife Marcia and my three wonderful children: my son Tim, and my daughters Carrie and Christina (and myself). Marcia has taught and volunteered at various venues. Tim is CEO and programmer for a company called EnGraph whose focas is using GPS in fleets of vechicles. He and his family of wife and three children (now four) moved to South Carolina about 2013, previously in Kansas City area. Carrie graduated from college (environmental studies/sociolgoy/Spanish), lived in Washington, DC working with PEER (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility), worked for the Peace Corps in Peru and then in Colombia with her husband. Now, she and her husband and son live in the Dallas area. Christina was a student at Bethel University and after graduating in May 2015, worked in Thailand teaching English as a second language to children of parents from Asia whose job is being Christian missionaries. She moved back to the U.S. in June of 2018 and is living in Minnesota (Twin Cities region).

Education

I attended grades 1-4 in St. Cloud, MN, then grades 5-8 in Fargo, ND, and completed high school back in St. Cloud at Tech High (alternative site). After finishing high school in January, 1976, I attended St. Cloud State University for the spring quarter. I then went to St. John's University and obtained a B.A. in mathematics with a secondary education emphsasis. After teaching at Albany High School for five years, I left in 1985 for the University of Notre Dame and pursued a Ph.D. in their Department of Mathematics. After working in the area of classical groups and K-theory with Alexander Hahn, I finished in 1989 and took my current position with Central College in Pella, IA.

Interests

In addition to reading about various mathematics topics, I enjoy working on programming projects (including my web page). For mathematics-related tasks, I primarily program using Mathematica. Several of my professional projects are related to working with Mathematica, including a book working with Calculus, a book related to abstract algebra and Mathematica, and other items. Additionally, I enjoy programming for the web, mostly using ASP (active server pages) combined with HTML and CSS (cascading style sheets). (Note that these pages use all three.) I also have programmed recently in perl (one interesting task useful for random lists) and java.

If I am not in my office working on any of the above, I am probably down at the gym playing racquetball or riding my bike on the Volksweg trail. I play a lot of racquetball and participate in tournaments around Iowa. I have also done a lot of bike riding during my life including long road trips (around Lake Superior and through the Canadian rockies, for example). I also like to take morning and/or evening walks.

I also like to putter around the workshop and either fix things around the house or make things for the house. For example, I converted our bare-bones basement into a fully useful basement with a bedroom, family room, bathroom, office, and work areas. I also enjoy spending time reading New Testament Greek. I am with a group that reads and translates on a weekly basis (working through various books of the New Testament).