Jun 18 2007

Backpacking Trip

Andrew, Charles, and Lawrence

Charles, Lawrence, Joe and I spent a couple days on the Appalachian Trail this past weekend. It was quite a trip. Joe had to drive in from Florida (around 14 hours) and we couldn’t leave until after my Thursday Statistics I class. We ended up meeting in a little town called Buena Vista about 15 miles from the trail at around 8:15 P.M. It took us until around 10:20 P.M. to get both cars in the right places (one at either end of our planned walk), on account of having to drive on two of the curviest roads ever (one of those being the Blue Ridge Parkway). Now, your average group of guys would have slept in the car, maybe set up the tents outside and waited until morning to begin hiking. Not us. Nope, having sat in cars all day, we were ready to do something, anything really. So, knowing full well that we had a 4 mile, +3200 foot climb in front of us; armed with headlamps and our new trekking poles, we happily began our ascent up The Priest at 10:49 P.M.

I’ve taken around 10 individual trips on the Appalachian Trail. Some more difficult than others. Charles, Lawrence and I have done some wild things; climbed waterfalls, 25 mile days, sprinted 2 miles to a shelter to avoid lightning. The trek up The Priest now ranks number one on that list. One of the longest climbs that we’ve every made, in the dark, in the fog no less. The A.T. is (at times) no more than a foot or so wide and can be hard to follow in the daylight. Our headlamps generally make it possible to hike at night. But, the dense fog put us in a similar situation to a driver driving in the fog at night; the fog simply reflected much of the light and the visibility was actually diminished.

A little more than three hours later and we had reached the summit (not much to see at 1:45 A.M.). After celebratory high-fives, we remembered that we now actually had to find a place to sleep. We pushed onwards, toward a shelter eight-tenths of a mile further (talking politics as we walked). Unfortunately for us, the shelter was full. We ended up tenting near the shelter. Joe got a fire going (really quite something in that weather) and Charles, Lawrence and I set up the tents. We fell asleep around 3.

Our hopes were that the rain would move out and we would be treated to two sunny days on Friday and Saturday. It was not to be. We woke up at around 11 in the morning to find more rain and fog surrounding our tent. Left with no other choice, we took down the (very wet) tents, packed up, and moved on. After such a big night our energy levels were pretty low. We only managed 8 miles on Friday. We stopped at the next shelter, filtered some water, made and ate dinner and were asleep by 7:30 P.M.

We awoke at 5:30 A.M. Saturday morning to the same type of weather we saw as we dozed off on Thursday night. More rain and fog. We got an early start (6:15) and had completed around 4 miles by 8. We took a break on Wolf Rocks and then moved on. Around noon, the sun was able to peek through. We found a cool place to eat lunch (Joe built another fire as we were still trying to dry out) complete with two swings and climbing tree. We made some calls home and stayed for a couple of hours (having 7 miles under our belts). At around 2 o’clock we packed up and began our walk out of the woods. The climb down into the gap (3000 feet) was a killer. My big toes felt as though they were about to fall off. I always dread the big uphill climbs. But, after we get off the trail I find myself convinced that the down-hills are even worse.

Jun 10 2007

Ph.D. Program

So, I start work on my Ph.D. on Monday. I haven’t been in a classroom in seven years (on account of getting my Masters Degree through an online program). I’m actually looking forward to being in the classroom again, as opposed to sort of floating out there alone; a feeling that was pretty common as I moved through the online courses at Indiana Wesleyan University. Nothing against the school, but the process of working through higher level course work without any real human contact turned out to be a little less fun then I had originally thought (coming from someone who couldn’t be described as a social butterfly).

In the end I choose Kent State University. My interest in technology was significant factor in the decision making process. The only schools that I could find that offered doctoral degrees combining in some way education and technology were Kent and Ohio State University (within driving distance anyway). Ohio State was appealing simply because it’s rated as one of the top 25 educational institutions in the country. Initially, I was going to apply to Ashland University but my sister (who has already completed her Ed.D. from Teachers College at Columbia University) pointed out these types of programs that integrated education and technology. She pointed specifically to the large number of programs offered at Ohio State. Soon after Ellen’s submission, my father suggested I look at Kent’s program, noting that it Kent is also a good school and is a lot closer than O.S.U. I couldn’t be happier with my decision.

My advisor is interested in the design of online learning programs. After my experiences with the Blackboard software (at IWU), I would agree that there is some work to be done. Here’s to the next couple of years being full of meaningful discussion, real collaboration, and valuable contribution to the field of instructional technology.

I’ll be maintaining a blog as I move through the program. It can be found here.

Jun 1 2007

Baby Scarlett Marcella


Scarlett And Mom

Anthony and Ellen had a beautiful baby girl on Friday, May 11 at 5:16 P.M. I know that they are so excited and the entire family feels blessed that Scarlett and mommy are in good health.

Ellen and Scarlett came home Tuesday and by all accounts are acclimating nicely. We will continue to be thinking about the Staiano’s as they adjust to the work that is parenthood.