Category "About"

Category "About Inner Geek"

July 17, 2005

About Inner Geek

As a professor at the University of Minnesota, I teach, conduct research, and participate actively in the university and my professional communities. A student once asked me if I ever got bored doing research on the same topic - Never! Every day is different, bringing new opportunities for discovery and for building relationships. I am a family psychologist interested in the interplay between individual and relational development within family contexts. Favorite family drama: "Six Feet Under."

I'm also a musician, currently singing with the Waltham Abbey Singers and the SchĂĽtz Secret Singing Society. The latter is just a group of anywhere from 10 - 20 folks who gather monthly in someone's living room to sing, just for the joy and camaraderie of it. I also had the pleasure of singing for two years with The Gregorian Singers. These groups feed my love of Early Music and a capella singing in relatively small ensembles. I've also sung in the Motet Choir of the House of Hope Presbyterian Church and the Cathedral Choir of St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral. Several years ago, I was on my way to a professional conference and used the flight to study the scores for an upcoming concert. I pored over the pages throughout the trip, rehearsing the music internally. At the end of the flight, the person seated next to me asked, "Are you a musician?" My instant reaction was to demur and say "no -- I just sing in a choir" --- and then I caught myself and confidently responded "Yes." An identity moment. A favorite book about musicians: An Equal Music by Vikram Seth.

I'm also a cat person - we have four wonderful Tonkinese members of our family: Pookie, Shadow, MacKenzie, and Sadie. Their personalities and interactions have been the source of many spirited conversations in our family - watch for occasional Friday cat blogging.

Technology has always been a strong interest - I use computers intensively in my research (both quantitative and qualitative), and I find technological advances stimulating and exciting - hence, recent posts about Google Earth and the VeriChip. I am co-author of a blog about Quantitative Family Research Methods. Favorite tech movie: "GATTACA."

My research concerns relationships in adoptive families. The relevant themes and topics address issues central to the human drama: the development of identity - one's own narrative - within the contexts of family and other interpersonal relationships. All of this must be considered within historical and cultural context as well as the perspectives of multiple disciplines. Favorite adoption movies: "Secrets and Lies," "First Person Plural."

Travel has enriched my life immeasurably - I've lived in very different parts of the United States: upstate New York (10 years), north central (8 years) and central Texas (17 years), northern California (2 years), and southeastern Minnesota (19 years). I will be moving to Massachusetts in 2008, so look forward to living in New England, where my sister and father now live. I've also traveled extensively in other parts of the United States and have spent various amounts of time in England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Norway, the Netherlands, Austria, Spain, Switzerland, Italy, Belgium, New Zealand, Finland, Germany, and Russia.... so far. So many more places to experience. A favorite movie involving exotic lands: "The English Patient."

Posted by hgroteva at 10:00 PM | About | About Inner Geek

Category "About Inner Geek"

Category "Life"

September 11, 2005

A Week of Tributes

Amidst the shock of the last two weeks post-Katrina and today's sadness of honoring those who died in 9/11, this week brings an opportunity for me to honor three people who have been very important in my life: my father, Floyd Grotevant; my long-time research colleague, Ruth McRoy; and my dissertation co-advisor and mentor/colleague, Richard Weinberg.

My father celebrates his 85th birthday on September 20, but family and friends are gathering this weekend in Dallas to honor him. My sister and I have had a good time planning the event, if for no other reason than it's given us the chance to be in touch more frequently; communicate with cousins, aunts, and uncles we haven't seen in years; and reminisce as we go over old pictures and receive tributes from FOD (friends of dad). Here are 4 generations of Grotevant men.

Grotevant men 4 gens 061704 b.jpg

The occasion has also given me the opportunity to reflect on the contributions my father has made to my life as an adult. Not in terms of possessions, but in terms of enduring qualities that I've seen him exemplify and that I strive to show in my life. Among them...

**optimism – having a positive outlook about the future and relishing each new day for what it will bring
**integrity – “doing the right thing” and expecting others to do so as well
**commitment – unswerving dedication to loved ones and ideals
**engagement – being active in the community and the world
**follow-through – keeping commitments and doing what you said you’d do
**pride – in a job well-done

I'm ready to party!

This week also marks a career transition for my long-time colleague Ruth McRoy. Ruth is retiring from "active duty" as a full time professor at UT, but will be serving for many years to come as a Research Professor based in California but continuing to conduct research, write, mentor, and provide leadership for the field. Ruth and I have been research partners for over 25 years, reaching back to her days as a graduate student and my days as a newbie assistant professor at UT Austin. Here we are celebrating our work together at a favorite Austin site, the Oasis Cantina on Lake Travis. (Sadly, the Oasis burned down last December after being struck by lightning; I hope it will rebuild soon!)

Hal Ruth at Oasis.jpg

Together, we have written scores of grant applications, interviewed hundreds of adoptive families and birth parents, mentored countless students, celebrated many publications, and traveled all over the world to present our work. It's all been a great privilege and a great adventure to work with such a talented colleague. Ruth's academic talents combine in powerful ways with her commitment to her field (social work) and to all people ultimately served by her work. Words that come to mind include passion, energy, zeal, intelligence, savvy, and leadership.


This Thursday, Richard Weinberg will receive the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the School Psychology Program at the University of Minnesota. I can’t think of a better candidate for this recognition. By my reckoning, it was 30 years ago this fall that I was a student in Rich's School Psychology Assessment sequence. It was one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences in my doctoral program. What I learned in that class about being a keen observer (among many other things) has stood me in good stead throughout my career. He has served as a significant role model from my first year as a graduate student to the present, as we are serving together as senior faculty members in our respective departments. Rich especially taught me how important it is to have faith in people (even when they aren't so confident in themselves), to provide opportunities, to give people room to grow, and to simultaneously and paradoxically be close and let go.

How lucky can I be -- to have three such amazing people in my life for so many years and to be able to honor them in the same week? (My only regret is that our geographical separation means that I will not be able to attend all three events.) The qualities that the three of them embody have been important touchstones in my adult life -- and they are qualities that I hope to pass on to the people whose lives I touch. My love, admiration, and appreciation go out to all three of you!

Posted by hgroteva at 10:22 AM | About Inner Geek | Life

Category "About Inner Geek"

Category "Choral Music"

November 27, 2005

Why Do I Sing?

Last night's Advent Procession was very special. As a member of the congregation for many years, I always found it an opportunity to have a place of reflection, quiet, and anticipation during an increasingly busy time of year. Last year, in my first season singing with the Gregorians, my focus was just on making it through the service without dropping a bell or setting my music on fire with my candle! (neither of which happened, thankfully). But this year was different. I thought a lot about why I sing as a member of a such a group.

When serious singers work together, the effort is totally focused on producing the most beautiful sound. And the most beautiful sound comes when each person is able to contribute his or her best effort as an individual while simultaneously coordinating that effort with, and sometimes subordinating that effort to, the ensemble as a whole. It's a huge responsibility, but the outcome is something no individual could accomplish on his or her own. It demands total focus and energy, but the reward is immediate and sometimes stunning, although the sound vanishes as quickly as it is produced.

Choral singing also feeds the idealist in me. It's so easy to be cynical about the many institutions we are bound up with: the government, the university, the institutional church, professional organizations, you name it.... But the kind of singing that feeds me isn't tied up in politics, jockeying for position, or manipulation.

That's why I'm glad to be a volunteer singer. At different times, I've thought about an alternative life as a professional musician. But I think that might take the fun and the passion out of it. As a volunteer, I don't have to worry about music as a livelihood - it can just be a way of feeding my soul.

And while it feeds my soul, I hope it feeds the souls of others as well. One never knows. It's a bit like what happens in the process of teaching - one never know the impact that any particular statement or lecture might have. Sometimes students tell me (sometimes many years later) that a particular thing I said or wrote made a difference for them. But there are many unknown impacts. Same with choral performance - the performers rarely know the full, personal impact of their offering on those who heard it. I like the mystery!

Peter Sellars, professor of world arts and culture at UCLA, had this to say about singing. (Read a fascinating interview with him from a PBS series called "The Question of God" here.)

"Vocal music is an attempt to take the whole human being and project it into space. It is the ultimate gesture of getting out of yourself. You take a part of you that is most private, most personal, most inward, and you hurl it out into space - you project is as far as you can. That gesture of opening the whole body results in an enormous spiritual release, and is felt by other people with tremendous impact."

Posted by hgroteva at 10:49 AM | About Inner Geek | Choral Music

Category "About Inner Geek"

Category "Life"

February 27, 2006

Five Fours

4 jobs I’ve had
delivery driver for florist
warehouse worker in zipper factory
grader for calculus papers
payroll clerk for submarine USS Seawolf

4 movies I’d like to see at least one more time
Un Coeur en Hiver
The English Patient
The Graduate

4 favorite radio programs
The Splendid Table
This American Life
Science Friday

4 boring places I’ve lived
Utica New York
Dallas Texas
Vallejo California
Buffalo New York

4 favorite pieces I have sung
Fauré, Requiem
Duruflé, Requiem
Harris, Faire is the Heaven
Lauridson, O Magnum Mysterium

Posted by hgroteva at 6:14 AM | About Inner Geek | Life

Category "About Inner Geek"

Category "Identity"

April 25, 2006

More Geekiness

HG Geek Inside shirt-b.jpg

Posted by hgroteva at 5:42 AM | About Inner Geek | Identity

Category "About Inner Geek"

Category "Life"

Category "Technology"

June 14, 2006

More Blog-Mediated Serendipity

Here's another serendipitous occurrence, mediated by this blog. About a week ago, my wife received an e-mail from a woman in Anchorage, Alaska who was doing genealogy on our family name. She found us (and me) because of my blog post last September, when I wrote a piece in honor of my father's 85th birthday. After finding his name, she shook the family tree a bit and wrote to find out if we might have a common ancestor -- a fellow who purportedly came to the U.S. in 1752, hired by the British as a mercenary to fight those colonial upstarts (Oh, the shame of it!). His home appears to have been Heerte, Braunschweig, Germany (rather than somewhere in the Netherlands). Anyway, after a number of rapid-fire e-mails, Family Tree Maker determined that my Anchorage correspondent and I are 5th cousins. Amazing!

We are leaving tomorrow for a family wedding in Boston, and I'll be talking to as many people as I can about our family history. The new discovery of my 5th cousin probably would not have happened had I not been writing in this blog. So, to follow up on the question I posed earlier about whether I should continue blogging, the answer for now is ... definitely yes. It's been a source of satisfaction and new discoveries and an outlet for reflections I probably wouldn't have uttered outside the space of my own brain. So stay tuned for *Inner Geek - year 2* ...

Posted by hgroteva at 9:07 PM | About Inner Geek | Life | Technology

Category "About Inner Geek"

Category "Cats"

Category "Technology"

October 1, 2009

Sidetracked by FB, but Friday Cat Blogging Anyway

Like several of my blogging buds, I've been sidetracked by FaceBook. I started in late June and now have 139 friends. I've found it to be a fascinating experience - I've connected with some folks from high school (and I hadn't really kept up any of those relationships) and I've reconnected with colleagues all over the country, some of whom I'd lost track of. I also have frequent conversations with relatives and with my MN colleagues.

I've found it to be more engaging than blogging, because there is an immediate audience, one known to me, and I can share feedback with others when I wish. With blogging, I've never fully known the extent of my readership. I have had over 11,000 hits, but that's not terribly many for 4 years. I've enjoyed posting and doing my own version of citizen journalism. My blog has also been a spot to reflect in a more extended way than is possible on FB. The two media serve different functions, but they both take precious time. I haven't decided to stop blogging, but we'll see.

In the meantime, fall has arrived in Massachusetts, and the tonks are huddling in their fleece bed. Of course, these are just the MN tonks. Shadow and MacKenzie mercilessly hassle New Mexico Chloe - we have to intervene in major screeching chases around the house several times a week. They are each sweet and wonderful in their own way, but the 2 female chemistry is not working. We thought that when we found a new home for Sadie, this would stop. But in her absence, the other two have taken up the cause. Pookie continues to be above it all. Once in a while, he and Chloe sniff and touch noses, but they're certainly not sleeping together!

Just so she doesn't feel left out, here's a recent snap of Chloe - she loves warm places too!

Chloe in drier 1.JPG

Posted by hgroteva at 10:47 PM | About Inner Geek | Cats | Technology