Update on Mt. Doom

Photo by John Bacon

Photo by John Bacon

As we feared, the hiker who collapsed in front of us died on the mountain.

From the Wanganui Chronicle:

A Swiss tourist died yesterday morning while walking the Tongariro Crossing.

The 63-year-old man suffered a likely “medical event” and died at the scene as he walked the crossing with his wife, police spokeswoman Sara Stavropoulos said.

Emergency services were called out mid-morning and the man’s body was airlifted away.

A French tourist who was also completing the crossing was able to help translate between the man’s wife and emergency personnel.

The man’s death has been referred to the coroner.

My thoughts are with his family and all the trekkers. Let’s be careful out there and come home safely.

TechFront: Updating Classroom Displays

I’ve been asked in different contexts lately to explain why we are moving away from SMART Boards in classrooms. Here are some of my answers.

Why we are moving away from SMART Boards. 

SMART Boards were great technology 8-10 years ago, before the emergence of touch-sensitive tablet and laptop screens. They were made to complement the standard laptop/desktop at the time which had a 4:3 aspect ratio with a maximum 1024×768 display. The image from a standard projector was 4:3 and would fill the SMART Board screen completely, providing teachers with an amazing 60” display that would incorporate material from their computer on the screen.

Unfortunately, as we know, most teachers never adopted the full range of use for the SMART Board and use it simply as a projection surface (many still refer to turning on the projector as “turning on the SMART Board”). So, in most classrooms, there will not be a loss of functionality because it was never adopted.

Computers over the last 5 years have moved from a 4:3 aspect ratio to 16:9 with HD displays (generally 1280×720 or higher). Even our 4-year old teacher laptops have this problem. So a teacher has 2 choices—go with the 1024×768 image (which reduces the size of their image on the teacher laptop) or force the 1366×768 (best image on the old laptop), but doing so letterboxes the projected image. Continue reading

Encountering Mt. Doom: hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing

15 - 2Completing the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in on March 25 was neither what I anticipated nor hoped for. My husband,  John, and I have been planning our trip to New Zealand for months and since seeing the trek described as “one of the world’s top single-day hikes” we had put it at the top of our to-do list.

New Zealand consists of two main islands and Tongariro National Park sits in the middle of the North Island. For people who are not trekking enthusiasts, the way that the park is most familiar is that it was the filming site of the fictional Mt. Doom in Peter Jackson’s adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. There are several volcanic peaks in the park. Mt. Ngauruhoe, an iconic and stark volcanic cone became Mt. Doom–from which the One Ring was forged and to which it had to be returned.

First, let me say that the 19.4 kilometer “Crossing” was more of a “climb” than a “hike.” If I had understood more about the nature of much of the trail in advance–I might have had second thoughts. I read through the website, did some other research, looked at the beautiful pictures. The incredible scenery was all there when I did the hike. But, not surprisingly, there are not a whole lot of pictures of the narrow hogbacks that had to be climbed or descended (probably because few people are of a mind or stomach to stop and pull out the camera under those circumstances).

Continue reading

Mr. Spock is dead: RIP Leonard Nimoy

Leonard Nimoy passed away today at age 83. I read that he was taken to the hospital last Thursday with a possible heart attack, so I am not completely surprised. I am, instead, deeply saddened. It’s like the end of The Wrath of Khan–but this time it’s for real and there will be no Genesis planet.

Spock: The ship… out of danger?
Kirk: Yes.
Spock: Do not grieve, Admiral. It is logical. The needs of the many, outweigh…
Kirk: The needs of the few.
Spock: Or the one. I never took the Kobayashi Maru test until now. What do you think of my solution?
Kirk: Spock.
[Spock sits down]
Spock: I have been, and always shall be, your friend.
[he places a Vulcan salute on the glass]
Spock: Live long and prosper. Continue reading

A good day to be a Buckeye

OSUScoreEven if Ohio State had lost the National Championship last night, I ‘d still be a Buckeye fan today. Granted, I’d be wearing my scarlet and grey a bit more humbly, but I would still be wearing it. My earliest sports memories are of watching Ohio State football on TV. The first coach whose name I knew was Woody Hayes (no, I’m not getting into an argument today about him).

What a season. Some have called it a miracle–I don’t know that I’d go that far. But it was undoubtedly a triumph of perseverance and hard work. It was just the kind of season my dad would have loved. Continue reading

Havana here I come!

After 54 years, the United States will finally do the right thing, normalize its relations with Cuba and end its embargo. The embargo may be the longest-lasting ineffective and nonsensical foreign policy in US history. This means that twenty years after getting my Masters in Latin American history, I will finally be able to legally visit one of the countries I read so much about. I’ve always supported the idea that the best way to “open” Cuba would be to normalize relations and expose Cubans to the flood of ideas–rather than trying to strangle it–ineffectually–into submission. Continue reading