Ohio Bound and Back Again: Nationals 2017

This year, nationals was held in Columbus, Ohio. We left for NAIGC Club Gymnastics Nationals on an unremarkable Wednesday last week. The drive was uneventful, arriving at the hotel around 11:00 PM after over five hours of driving and a quick pit stop at “Truck World.” Columbus seemed like a nice city, but it was hard to tell at first since the day I competed preliminaries was cold, windy, and wet. Preliminaries went well! Our level 9 session was on Thursday in the late afternoon. I qualified for bars, floor, and all around finals.

On my day off, I went to the Franklin Park Conservancy with my parents and uncle. So even though I wasn’t doing larch things, I was still looking at a bunch of plants haha. I’m so cool.

Finals rolls around and I will never not be amazed at how many gymnasts compete at nationals. It’s pretty cool when all the schools line up in the hall way and march in to the gym before finals starts. Here is a picture I took (and that’s only about a quarter of them):

Finals was very stressful because I was the only one from A team to qualify for finals so I was competing in a group with a few other individual competitors. This is stressful, mostly on bars and vault, because each gym typically has different settings for how far apart the bars are, how high the vault table is, how far the board is from the vault, and how many springs are in the springboard. Let me explain more why this is an issue. During a competition, each gymnast gets 2 minutes to warm up on an event. When a team is competing, that time gets combined so if there are 7 girls, we get 14 minutes total to warm up which is a decent amount of time and it is also shared. There is also no need to change bar settings because everyone goes on the same setting. In the scenario I was in, everyone had different settings which meant that if we combined all our time together, we’d have to change the bar settings every time someone else took a turn and that just isn’t very efficient. So instead, we all blocked our own time so I had two minutes by myself to warm up. It’s very tiring.

Anyway, it didn’t matter because guess what?!?!?! I got FIRST on bars!!!! Oh yeah. National champ right here! HAHA. I’m funny. I didn’t place on any of the other events but I still did pretty well and the fact that I got a first place makes up for everything.

So all in all, a good meet and an enjoyable time 🙂

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You Can’t Spell “Gowanus” Without “Us”

On Friday the 17th, 33 sleepy LARCHies got on the red-eye bus to Brooklyn, New York to see the infamous Gowanus Canal. If you are unfamiliar with the canal, as many of us were before the trip, it is/was one of the most polluted waterways in North America. I mean, it’s seriously nasty. If you were wondering what sort of business we had being in Brooklyn, it is the site of the next project in our design studio. Here are some photos of lovely Gowanus. It was actually a very pleasant day.

Something interesting I learned during our analysis of the Canal: Besides being a superfund site full of gross chemicals, trash, and sludge, it is also stagnant so nothing ever washes out. There is also little to no dissolved oxygen, which aquatic life need to survive. To fix this problem, they installed a giant flushing tunnel which brings water from butter milk channel in the Hudson Bay to the head of the canal where it is forcefully pumped. It’s actually working, because dissolved oxygen content levels have increased. However, the force also stirs up all that grossness in the bottom and results in this weird foam:

And, here is a picture of garbage at the bottom of the canal as the tide was going out:

Mmmmm. Lovely.

Leaving was a lot worse than travelling up. We got stuck in downtown Manhattan for two hours before finally getting out of the city. Some of my friends fell asleep for those two hours and awoke to find we were still in NYC. We didn’t end up returning to campus until around 1:00. Unfortunately for me, I had a gymnastics meet the next day.

 

The Home Meet

The home meet went well! I did well enough to win the All Around so that’s good. I was definitely running entirely on adrenaline because the next day, I was so sore that I walked like a hunch back who’d just gotten off a horse! haha! It wasn’t actually that bad. My cool friends also made an appearance with their funny signs:

A Whirlwind of Weather

What a roller coaster of weather! Wednesday night last week it snowed 8 inches! It was so magical that the university actually delayed classes until 10:00! Obviously we were hoping for a cancellation but whatever, I guess I can trek through the snow to get to class. (just kidding I took the bus). Then, two days later, it was a sweltering 60 degrees (or something ridiculous). Nearly all the snow has melted and now it’s raining. Of course, I was in beautiful sunny Virginia for a gymnastics meet.

 

jmu_02jmu_01Yes, finally competition season is in full swing. The Club Gymnastics team drove down to James Madison University for our first meet of the year! It was chaotic to say the least. But at least my lovely parents and my sister (who tagged along to surprise me despite being sick) were there :). We didn’t do too shabby! Girls A team placed 2nd and Men’s team placed 1st!!! Woo! I myself also did pretty well, having a no-fall meet and placing 1st on bars, 5th on beam (somehow?!) and 2nd in the all around!

This weekend is THON! And Penn State students are getting antsy to dance their pants off and stay awake and standing for much longer than any doctor would recommend. This year, PSUkulele gets to perform during the 46 hours of non-stop festivities! I am not performing because I forgot to audition but I am still very excited!!!

If you are curious as to why I haven’t talked much about studio this semester, it is because we have all been in a state of constant confusion since the beginning of the semester.

Also, in my photography class I took a very nice picture of Parsley.

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What Not to do at Football Game

The following message is brought to you by the Beaver Stadium student cleanup crew.

Yes, if you haven’t guess already, I had the dreaded stadium clean up a few weekends ago. Luckily for us, they ordered the wrong colored streamers for the game so there were no streamers to clean up. Haha. Anyway. No rant today. Just a few lovely pictures of the worst things you could possibly leave behind for us poor college students to clean up.

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Here you can see the contents of a typical bleacher row. This may include, but is not limited to: Empty plastic soda cups, used napkins, unused napkins, bottles of water, ponchos, french fries, wax paper wrappers, bags of chips, and uneaten nacho cheese.

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Don’t leave your open cups of hot chocolate on the stadium floor. It will inevitably spill and the push brooms we are supplied with are not good at cleaning up spills.

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Open mustard packets are one of my LEAST favorite things to clean up. The smell is just so so pungent in the most horrifying, unpleasant way. Picking them up is awful and any attempt to sweep them up causes a streak of mustard across the ground. Please throw these away.

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And please, please, PLEASE do NOT leave your bottles full of gross chewing tobacco that you so graciously spit into a bottle and not on the ground. If you partake in such a habit, have the courtesy not leave it in the stadium. Also, please no spitting directly on the ground. That is also gross.

Finally, not pictured but just as unappreciated: Shelled peanuts on the ground, spilled popcorn, soggy chicken tenders, and of course, the dreaded streamers.

Thank you for listening.

Gymnastics Meets: Getting There is Half the Fun

(I started writing this the week after the meet but published it much much later. 3 weeks or so actually. Oops) On Saturday, the Penn State club gymnastics team had our first meet of the season in Syracuse, NY. But let me hold off on the actual meet for a minute and tell you all about how long it took us (the car I was in anyway) to get there.

How long you ask? Eight hours. (If you were wondering, it’s supposed to take us 4 hours).

See, for this meet, we took separate cars, each packed full. No extra seats (this will be important later). My car left at 3:00, which was the plan. We were cruising along for a good two hours, cramped and hot, but were were eating potato chips so it was ok.
Then the car stopped working. Out driver pulled over on the left shoulder and called triple A. We sat on this shoulder for quite some time and, while waiting for a tow truck, we had some visitors. This first guy backed up for a good 50 feet. He had a flashing light on his rear dash so we thought he might’ve been a cop. Then he stepped out in jeans and a batman tshirt. He came over and asked if we were ok and we said we were fine and he left. The second guy was an actual cop. He pulled over and asked usual cop stuff and we told him we couldn’t move and then he lit flares for us. IMG_8368.JPG
This was around 6:40. While we were waiting, I get a text from my mom asking how the ride is going. Or older her that the car wouldn’t start an we were pulled over on the left shoulder and we’d called triple a and everything. Being the typical worried mother who just found out a car load of gymnasts was stuck halfway between state college and syracuse, she offered to come pick us up and take us the rest of the way. Part of me knew this was an empty gesture and I didn’t really want to make her drive all the way to Scranton to pick us up and take us but I also knew that she would do it. And, we had no other option. (my mom is a real hero) About 20 minutes later, the first tow truck showed up. This guy must’ve been out of sorts or something because he came over and asked if anyone named ‘Rebecca’ was in our car. There wasn’t. Then our tow truck driver comes over to the car and and is like, ‘hey I got this go find the person your actually supposed to tow’. So that happened. He asked us if we had a ride for ourselves since he certainly couldn’t fit us (five girls plus luggage) in his tow truck and triple A couldn’t make arrangements for our quantity of people (seriously?). The guy gets all huffy at us because we didn’t have a ride. Then he comes back, leans over and says, “ok, here’s what I’m gonna do. This is really illegal and I’ve only done it one other time with a state trooper…”. And then he walks away, leaving us uninformed about this illegal activity we were about to partake in. We watch him hook up the car to the tow rig and then-wait for it- he proceeded to tow us, while we were in the car! This was quite exciting. He drops us off at this super seedy gas station with all of our luggage piled up on the sidewalk.

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There we sat, waiting for my mother to come rescue us. Luckily, I hade my trusty ukulele! An hour and a half later, my come came, welcomed with joyous whoops. The rest of the ride was, thankfully, uneventful. We arrived at 11 pm in Syracuse safe and sound. So we left at 3pm and arrived at 11pm. But I gotta say, it is a good story. (Shout out to my amazing mother who drove us up, stayed for the meet, then drove us back to State College! I love you!)

I Hate Football

So I try not to sound cynical on my little blog here but I had stadium cleanup yesterday and something about wading through soggy fries, water bottles, and half-drunk cups of soda just rubs me the wrong way. Actually, it makes me super pissed off. Look at this:

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That is disgusting. Putrid. Vile. Foul. Horrendous. You can pick whatever adjective you like. And unluckily for us, extra pom poms were handed out and people ripped the streamers off of the handle to watch them fly in the wind. But guess who has to clean that three second moment of joy up. Club teams. And if you think that picking up a trillion tiny pieces of soggy plastic up for 6 hours on a windy day is easy or even remotely rewarding, you best sit down and think a little harder because it SUCKS. Stadium clean up is an awful experience. They say misery loves company, but this is definitely an exception to that rule. It doesn’t matter how many people are cleaning up, it is the worst six to seven hours of your life. The only reason that Club Gymnastics and plenty of other clubs do stadium clean up is because of money, and a decent amount of it.

But I’m not just complaining about the manual labor. It’s the fact that after a game, Beaver Stadium is submerged in people’s unwillingness to clean up after themselves. Then we have to clean it all up, just so it can return to the same, awful state next weekend. I would love to leave a section uncleaned until next game so people can see how truly disgusting it is. Of course, that would never happen.

Don’t get me wrong. Penn State is definitely dedicated to sustainability in a number of ways. Their recycling system around campus is pretty comprehensive in terms of what you don’t have to throw away. There are also a decent number of LEED Certified buildings on campus (including Stuckeman!). A 2014 article in the Daily Collegian talks about Penn State’s plan to transition into a zero-waste football operation. That sounds like quite a step up from their current waste generation per game of about 70 tons (Garrity). But as to what is actually recycled. I’m still not really sure (but it certainly seems like everything is shipped off to a landfill of course I COULD BE WRONG).

IMG_8025If you can’t tell, this sort of thing gets me fired up. It’s one thing for the school to take measures to put out a copious amount of recycling bins and build sustainable structures but its incredibly difficult to get people to actually care. The problem is, it takes thought to reduce your waste. You have to sort out your recycling. Not order more than you’re going to eat in the dining hall (I also have a rant about food waste but I guess I’ll save it for another time). You have to eat less beef (The livestock industry is a huge consumer of so many limited resources like water, energy, and land, not to mention the methane and other greenhouse gas pollutants emitted during production of both the meat and grain. But that’s also another rant for another day). This is getting super wordy, but it is important. I may not have any authority, but I want to sound like I can persuasively tell you that tons of trash generated by those 107,282 football enthusiasts every week is not ok. It sucks for the environment and it sucks for the people who have to clean it up. So the next time you attend your sporting event, please, please, PLEASE pick up your half eaten fries, open containers of ranch, ketchup packets, cups of soda, t-shirts, chicken fingers, pompoms, plastic bags, glass bottles, face stickers, already chewed gum, and make some sort of effort to recycle. Thanks.

This post has been brought to you be cynicism: it probably won’t work.

The one source that I cited, even though I thought I would never ever write something by my own volition that needed cited:

Garrity, Meghan. “For Beaver Stadium, a zero-waste future in the works.” Daily Collegian. 18 November 2014. Web. 21 September 2015.

*Disclaimer: This is my opinion and should be taken with an entire container of Morton’s. But what else would you expect from a post entitled “I Hate Football”.

Near-End of Semester Panic: Part 1

New Projects and Adventures

Some stuff has happened while I was away from my blog.

First of all, it is weird that the semester is sorta almost over. It definitely went much faster than last semester.

Studio

In studio, we are knee-deep into Project three. Our assignment is to design a space using land form. Our ‘rip-and-tear’ models are made of clay this time, although I use cardboard structures underneath so I don’t have to use as much clay. Now, let me tell you about this clay we have to use. It’s super soft and easy to work with but the smell! The smell is putrid and it doesn’t come off. My hands still faintly smell even after a day. Even worse, it sticks on your clothes so your whole person just wreaks of clay-smell. Anyway, here are some process models.

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Team Uke

Something more exciting: I joined the ukulele club (TeamUKE) and get to design their logo and website! Yay! I think they just started last semester and its very exciting! Here is the link to the website I made if you are interested! –> Team UKE

Club Gymnastics Nationals in Philly

I am currently in Philly for club gymnastics nationals. It is pretty cool. We finished our first day of competition and finals is on Saturday, although we won’t know what everyone has qualified for until after Friday.

The above paragraph is no longer relevant since nationals was a few weeks ago. Good news though, both the A and B team for girls qualified for finals!

Philly was fun! on Friday when we weren’t competing, we walked around the city and look at some historical buildings. There was this cute little historic alleyway – Elfreth’s Alley – with tiny houses facing a cobblestone street that I loved.

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We also passed classical historic sites like Independence Hall and of course, I went to the Reading Terminal Market.

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Finals was amazing! There were so many teams there, it was crazy and so much fun! Here are some pictures so you can see the crazy amount of people who still think gymnastics is a good idea:

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I also qualified for finals on bars and floor and I am very pleased with how I did. People underestimate the skill level of club gymnasts because at nationals, there were so many amazing team. Anyway, I got 8th on bars and 2nd on floor! Shout out to my mother for driving up for for qualifiers and to my whole family for coming to see every one of my meets this season! I love you!