Wish You Were Here

Bobcats reflect on unique summer experiences


My name: Gracie Sorbello, MSRSS '09
This summer I: unicycled the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, which stretches 2,705 through Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico. I traveled with my friend, Matt Burney, and we raised money for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in honor of my uncle Richard, who has multiple myeloma, a cancer of the blood plasma. As far as we know, we are the first to make the journey on unicycles.

Visit me at http://divideby1.blogspot.com/.

"Thursday, Aug. 13
Greetings from Pinedale, Wyoming!

Days of traveling: 42
Most miles ridden in a day: 70
Average miles per day (not including rest days): 33.6
Horned toad sightings: 3
Elk herd sightings: 3
Wal-Mart sightings: 0
Favorite trail foods: Cheetos, Oreos, Kit-Kats and water
Estimated date of completion: 9/17/09

I just turned 26 yesterday, and it proved to be an excellent day, indeed. Just after I awoke, I heard footsteps coming over to my tent and began to see a yellow glow on the other side of the tent wall. ‘Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you,' Matt began to sing. He brought a blueberry muffin with candles that spelled out ‘26' and a card addressed ‘To Grace, Destroyer of Miles.' To top it off, he included a cinnamon roll in the birthday breakfast. Talk about being spoiled! It helped broaden my smile that had become more a look of surprise when I discovered ice lining the inside of my tent and part of my sleeping bag. Yep, the cold has come!

On our continued descent from Mosquito Lake (aptly named) to the Green River, we each made a ‘Three Ocean Cocktail,' which consisted of water from three streams that are the headwaters leading to the Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of California. Just add Tang, and it was a treat.

We continued rocking our descent into Pinedale, stopping for a wonderful cafe breakfast at The Place along the way. Just outside of town, a lady named Kathy Raper stopped us who had seen us earlier that morning on the road. We got to talking and found out that her daughter is a non-Hodgkin's lymphoma survivor. She helps with an organization called Kicking Cancer, which aids families with costs of cancer treatment that health insurance doesn't cover.

Just when we were intolerably parched, she offered us water and (gasp) ice, and made plans to take us to dinner. Not only did she treat us to an amazing Mexican dinner, but she brought us angel food cake, berries and whipped cream as a dessert on my birthday. Dang! Her generosity extended much further than just the tangible gifts, and we are so thankful for her encouragement, enthusiasm and all the work she is doing in the community to help others battling cancer. Thanks again, Kathy!

Well, that's life from the road. We are preparing to take on the worst (best?) of the Great Basin and are trying to get creative in ways to carry more water on our unicycles, not on our backs.

Rock n roll!"

My name: Matt Johnson, senior education major

This summer I: was the music director for a new play, “Cinderella: A Hip-Hop Fairy Tale," which was performed by the Columbus Children's Theatre and had a sold-out run in August. I wrote the script, lyrics and music for the play in the spring.

“We auditioned 35 kids (ages 10-16), and we decided to keep them all. There were roles for everybody, and what we wanted to do for the summer was make it a workshop experience for the kids. We were going to teach them aspects of theater — how to audition, how to learn songs, acting advice and different things — just to make them better actors, singers and dancers, and just better people in general.

We had a month to rehearse, and we started the stage production in August. We moved quickly. (After we started rehearsals,) I had to rewrite the play almost in its entirety because it was too long.

I wasn't really prepared for that. It turned out OK, and the kids needed to adapt. That was something they needed to learn throughout the summer. Adaptability is definitely important.

Once we started the actual performances, it was just something I totally didn't expect. Before we even opened, we sold out three shows out of our 12-show run. It was just the anticipation of something new that people were interested in. Once we opened, all hell broke loose. It was unbelievable. Within two days, we sold out our entire run! It was mind-blowing. We added a 13th encore show because there were so many people who wanted tickets, and we were sold out — again. As soon as we (advertised it), it sold out. It was insane!

We got great reviews. Theatrevault.com gave us a review. It had a couple criticisms, which I agreed with, but overall the review was very positive, and the public reception was very positive.

We had some hiccups. Even in the performances we had some things go wrong, but overall the experience was wonderful. The kids really enjoyed it."

My name: David Mould, professor of media arts and associate dean of the Scripps College of Communication

This summer I: worked for UNESCO in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, leading three-day workshops for scientists on communicating climate change research to public audiences. I also consulted with several universities on journalism curricula.

"How do you teach a Central Asian scientist how to write a press release?

Very slowly.

That's one of the lessons I've learned over the last three days at my UNESCO-sponsored workshop on how to communicate climate change issues to non-scientific audiences. The issue is not only persuading scientists to abandon scientific jargon and express complex, interrelated processes in language ordinary people can understand — that's a problem for scientists everywhere.

I'm up against the venerable Russian literary tradition of long sentences packed with dependent clauses, parenthetical phrases and passive constructions (which is why written Russian, even in the popular print media, is difficult for non-native speakers to read). We've discussed the principles of short declarative sentences, active verbs, strong leads and the inverted pyramid. But even scientists want to write like Pushkin or Tolstoy, whose 100-plus word sentences are painstakingly analyzed by children at school for their literary merits.

By the end of the workshop, however, most of the 10 participants had grasped basic principles and seemed anxious to put what they had learned into practice. We had some great exercises including two-minute oral presentations to a legislative panel drafting a new environmental law, and a press conference (with journalism students) on emissions and water resources that challenged the participants to answer clearly, explain issues in lay terms and not answer questions on topics where they did not have the statistics or expertise.

We had lively discussions on the often-strained relationships between journalists and scientists, and on ethical issues. And, most importantly, they gained an understanding of the need to tailor messages for different audiences — popular media, specialized media, funding agencies, politicians, university administrators, etc.

Over lunch at a nearby restaurant, the best stories came from a government scientist who spends every summer in the mountains, monitoring the glaciers. He has survived five avalanches (with broken bones) and been chased by bears. The region is popular with trekkers, and so he often encounters parties decked out with all the latest clothing and gear from the outdoor adventure catalogs. He says they are amazed when they are overtaken by his unfashionably dressed but physically fit scientific party, briskly striding up the slopes carrying heavy monitoring equipment."


Name: Duane McDiarmid, associate professor of sculpture

Duane McDiarmid traversed the country observing people interact with his latest work, Trickster. The unique machine combines a computer interface, a welded-steel frame with red “sails" and a solar-powered freezer filled with ice cream. McDiarmid drops the piece in unusual places (the middle of a desert, for example) to capture a reaction from those who stumble upon it. As the Trickster travels to places such as Santa Fe, N.M., and Oneonta, N.Y., McDiarmid asks his audience to consider modern society's love affair with technology: “Trickster is a primal, almost campfire-like discourse about what we do with this almost magical technology. We can do this amazing thing: give out ice cream in the desert. But is that the right amazing thing to do?"

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Trickster Project Blog

Name: Erin Shipbaugh, BBA '09

After graduating early (in three years) as the university's first Appalachian Scholar, Erin Shipbaugh set out to see the world. She traveled to Leipzig, Germany, for two weeks, with the Ohio University College of Business Global Competitiveness Program. There, she worked for Forikolo E.Z., a nonprofit that raises money to build schools and fund agricultural projects for children in Sierra Leone.

Erin Shipbaugh

Afterward, she spent two weeks traveling through Switzerland and Italy. Her job with 3D Metals in Valley City, Ohio, started a month after she returned. It was a whirlwind trip, Shipbaugh says. “I loved Italy because my family is Italian," she says. “In Switzerland, I did a high-ropes course up in the mountains. These were two totally different places, but they were equally amazing."

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Name: Maureen Adams, MFA '88

Maureen Adams, an elementary school teacher and principal in Killeen, Texas, was selected as one of seven Pathfinder Astronaut Teachers in Space and began preparing for her future trip to space on a suborbital flight. Her summer travel included a visit to NASA Dryden Flight Research Center and flights on glider planes that simulate some of the conditions on a shuttle. “We used the gliders that the Air Force uses to begin training its pilots," Adams says. “When a shuttle lands, it just kind of glides in, and so what the glider does is it simulates and gives you an idea of how a shuttle lands. It also shows how you fly. The simulation of the shuttle landing and the experience of flying it with the shuttle commander was very cool." Adams established one of the first elementary robotics programs in the nation and has been a guest instructor at the U.S. Space Camp.

Samuel Crowl Lecturing

Name: Samuel Crowl, Trustee Professor of English literature

Samuel Crowl delivered a lecture on Shakespeare and film director Kenneth Branagh (who adapted "Henry V," "Hamlet" and "Much Ado About Nothing") at this year's re-launched Alumni College, an event held on the Athens campus July 31 through Oct. 2. Alumni relived the college experience with lectures on everything from happiness and altruism to poetry and biofuels, while also participating in campus tours, a wine tasting and dancing. "The goal of Alumni College has always been to re-engage our alumni with the intellectual and creative vitality of Ohio University," says Crowl, who has been involved with every Alumni College since the first held in 1978. "Most alumni remain in contact with the university through athletic and social events. Alumni College puts them in direct touch with the heart of the university: the exchange of ideas between faculty and students."

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