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Who am I? Do I even know?

I'm originally from Muncie, Indiana USA.  As anyone familiar will tell you, Muncie is a strange little place that ironically has been used by sociologists in the past to define the American "norm."  It's a part of the "Rust Belt," and it's been reeling from the loss of the automobile parts manufacturing industries since the 1970s.  I'd really like to write a book about what the weirdness that Muncie has become.  It's also home to Ball State University, where I earned two degrees in geography.

I met Amy, my lovely wife, while finishing my masters degree.  We've been married since 2004.  She is everything to me: my soulmate, my support, my partner and my best friend.  We moved to Ohio in 2005 so that I could pursue a PhD in geography at Kent State University. I made ends meet by teaching classes as a part-time faculty member at Kent State, The University of Akron and several other schools. I defended my dissertation in 2010, and officially became "Dr. Shears" in 2011.

While in Ohio, we became active in animal rescue volunteering.  We volunteered for a number of different rescue organizations in various capacities and we hosted over 90 rescued foster animals at our house, helping them find permanent homes.  A few of those ended up staying with us, and now we have something of a menagerie.

In fall of 2011, I took a position at the University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley in Menasha, Wisconsin. We spent two years in the Fox Cities of Wisconsin, until I took a position at Mansfield University in Mansfield, Pennsylvania in 2013.

Probably my favorite hobby is traveling, which I try to do any chance I get. That a geographer enjoys traveling should be a surprise to no one. I’m also frequently posing for Amy’s photography experiments. Thanks to this, I probably have more pictures in circulation than anyone who’s not a pope or a president! Some of my other hobbies include: taking photography of my own, reading, hiking, flying kites, collecting pennies, tasting varieties of obscure beers, star-gazing and debating random cultural phenomena in pubs.  I’m an amateur musician of sorts, and I sometimes tool around with viola, bass, mandolin and ukulele.  Sports are also something I enjoy: I love playing disc golf, and I'm a fan of the Cincinnati Reds, Indianapolis Colts, Ball State basketball and football, and Kent State hockey.  The best kind of vacation for me is one that involves catching a sporting event at a stadium I’ve never visited.


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