Addressing the Unavoidable: The Presidential Election

Hello. I know you’ve read a lot of these types of posts. Too many? Sure. The last thing you want to read is another rant about this election and the state of our nation but, like everyone else in the US, I have something to say. I’ll try to keep this brief since I myself have a notoriously short attention span. (Note the word, try).

Before I tell you my opinion on everything, you’re gonna need to know where I’m coming from (something we often assume we understand about our counterparts in argument when we actually know very little). My name is Zoe and I’m a junior majoring in landscape architecture. I was adopted from China. I have two moms and a stunningly beautiful sister. Avoiding confrontation is one of my talents. I try really hard to stay “politically correct.” I think composting is cool and my dream house is covered in plants and solar panels and goats mow my lawn. Also, I’m a registered Democrat.

If anything I’ve said about myself so far has made you want to stop reading, that is understandable. However, it is also the reason that we are in this so-called-mess to begin with. We pick our friends, and we can generally decided what we want to see on social media. We surround ourselves with like-minded people because agreeable conversations are so much more manageable than dissonant ones. And I can’t blame anyone for this because I do it too. Every argument is a loosing battle, especially on the internet. The more you argue, the more both sides dig their heels in. No one ever changes their mind in an argument over those infamously controversial topics like gun rights, separating church and state, abortion, legalizing weed. All that happens is me and you getting angrier than we had been before. For a society that complains an awful lot about how broken we are, it seems like there are few people actively trying to fix it. Are you waiting for someone else to go first?

Remember when George Washington told us not to make political parties? Well here we are in 2016 with our divided nation and it doesn’t seem to be going super well for anyone. The sense of hate is so strong. Not just from “one side”, but from everyone. And it’s scary. I don’t support Trump, but me continuing to hate his guts and hate everyone who voted for him is not going to make a change. In fact, it just reinforces the satisfaction that those voters have for picking a candidate that opposes everything I stand for. It tells them that this stupid college yuppie claims to be “accepting” but here she is, a hypocrite denying and arguing over the fairness of this election. That perpetuates this constant cycle of assuming and misunderstanding and that is no good.

I don’t think it has to be this way. We don’t have to hug and dance in the sunshine together holding hands or any of that nonsense. But there needs to be a better understanding of each other. There needs to be a desire to understand why we believe what we do and not have to feel the need to shove our beliefs down the throats of dissenters. We immediately jump to hate when we don’t like something because being ignorant is so much easier trying to actually understand someone who has led such a drastically different existence than you. You can’t force someone to believe what you believe because their version of the truth is not yours. And that’s OK. But living to hate certain people with certain opinions is no way to live. If you are tired of all the hate, then make a change. Hate less and ask more questions. Appreciate that they are as entitled to an opinion as you are and accept it. Is it a naive hope that people will change? Or that people will learn that understanding and acceptance must reach far beyond like-minded peers? Probably. But without hope, then what are we doing here?

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
-Martin Luther King, Jr.

Oops. This ended up much longer than I thought. Anyway, thanks for listening and be nice to one another 🙂

An Uneventful Couple of Weeks

I’m sure you’ve been wondering why I haven’t posted anything in a long while. Well, maybe you haven’t been wondering, but in any event, I haven’t updated you on my marginally exciting life because not much has happened. Just lots of work. I know I haven’t been keeping you updated on anything I’ve been doing in studio but we are learning GIS this year which is a program for creating and analyzing maps. It is not the sort of thing that lends itself to exciting blog posts the way the designing and model-building stuff does.

So what did happen in my life in the past couple of weeks?

Fun with Bricks

Our materials class journeyed down to Penn Technical College to learn about brick laying. We actually got to learn how to lay bricks and CMUs (concrete masonry units) which is much more difficult than one would think, but it was actually really fun!

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Cinder blocks as far as the eye can see

 

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We made an arch with bricks and mortar!

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Fall Festivities

My lovely friends and picked out pumpkins to carve at the arboretum! My pumpkin carving was a little lack luster but oh well.

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A Cat!

My friend introduced me to her tiny little kitten which actually isn’t hers it’s her roommates but it’s SO CUTE!

TINY KITTY!

TINY KITTY!

My Professor Owns a Forest

Not really, but kinda. He invited our class to visit his beautiful house and the land that he owned. He is one of our landscape architecture professors. Anyway, his property is beautiful! And on top of touring the place, we were treated to a delicious lunch of chicken and rice, bread and cheese, apples, hot apple cider, and fresh chocolate chip cookies! I love my major! haha. But seriously, it was a beautiful day and it was really interesting to learn about the different nooks and crannies of their property. (And you couldn’t ask for a blue-er sky!)

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Potato Party

Half way through the semester and we finally got around to actually planning a get-together with our friends in the form of eating loaded baked potatoes and watching “The Incredibles” on DVD.

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My friends are so strange I mean cool

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If you are wondering what a potato party is, it is where everyone brings a potato and one potato topping to share so we end up with the right amount of potatoes AND a spectacular array of toppings.

Free Birds

I took my birds out of their cage for the first time! I think it scared them but I got Parsley to sit on my hand!!! They are so cute. But I think they still hate me. Please forgive this awkward photo of me and just look at the bird, thanks.

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Street Uking

My mom asked me to get a picture of myself playing ukulele downtown and I told her that I couldn’t because I was alone. Consequently, I had to ask someone else to take a picture for me. I had some interesting encounters that day. One man came up to me and said “I bought my ex-girlfriend a ukulele and she never learned to play it,” then he threw a dollar in my case. Another guy asked if I was “any good at anything.” I told him “No, I wasn’t’ and he said, ” so people are giving you money for doing nothing?”

“yep.” This was said very sarcastically as it was clear that people were giving me money for looking extremely cold, sitting on the ground, and strumming a ukulele with striking mediocrity.

He later came back, said he felt kinda bad, and gave me a dollar.

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Enjoy the rest of your day!

The “Canning” Experience

“Canning” is a fundraising method for Penn States “largest student-run philanthropy in the world” AKA THON (or Dance Marathon) which raises money for the Four Diamonds Foundation, an organization that supports kids and families with pediatric cancer. My passion for THON is no where near the equivalent of many of my friends who are involved much more heavily with fundraising and the like, but I still wanted to be part of the experience. The actual act of canning involves standing in front of stores with large cans that once held massive quantities of tomatoes and beans and asking people to donate money. It’s something of an experiment. What can I do to make people give us money? Does smiling really big at grumpy people make their day better or worse?

Last weekend, I went canning with the Landscape Architecture Student Society (LASS). We headed down to Columbia MD, and were hosted by the family of one of my friends. Although we arrived after dark, her family had an amazing spread of food for the 20 of us! We chatted for a while and watched Zootopia on Netflix (a great animated film by the way) and went to bed. 

 

 

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Walking down to the inner harbor to can!

After a morning breakfast, we headed out to inner harbor with our cans empty and our hearts full of dreams. Multiple events going on along the waterfront prevented us from spreading out as much as we wanted to but we made due. We brought Bluetooth speakers, costumes, and of course I brought my ukulele! It was fun to play for the people passing by. Some of them would smile or kinda bob to the music. Lots of people donated money. It felt rude to be asking people to donate. Most of our encounters were very positive but there were a few less enthusiastic people but nobody particularly unpleasant.It’s definitely fascinating to hear people explain why they are or aren’t giving money. “I was a dancer in THON!” (She gave us a sizable donation) or “If you were wearing an Ohio State tshirt I would give you a thousand bucks!” (He didn’t give us money).

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Us doing the canning thing.

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Some weird guy.

 

After 8 hours, we packed up and reconvened at the house for dinner and money counting. 

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Counting the money

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Playing the card game Saboteur.

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Our THON chair heroically crashing on the couch after a long, tiring day.

 

 

Day two was much shorter. Me and a few others from our group set up in front of a Panera. I didn’t play uke because it would ruin the Panera atmosphere. We didn’t stay very long since we had to get back to campus and we didn’t expect to get an appreciable amount of money from the venture. But, we did much better than we thought we would. Of course now, I don’t remember the total, but after pulling all the money together from our various canning groups, we reached somewhere in the range of $1,400! Not too shabby for a rag-tag gang of larchies!

My first canning trip was a wonderful experience and definitely rewarding and I’m super glad that I went, even though I let a bunch of work pile up over the last weekend. And those LASS people are pretty awesome too!

Great Water Pressure and Spiders Everywhere

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Frank the bathroom spider

I’d like to call this experience of living in a basement apartment “immersion therapy.” See, despite growing up in the woods and doing outdoorsy things like camping and hiking an canoeing, I am still very much afraid of spiders. And they are EVERYWHERE. It was suggested by a friend that I give them names to make them less scary and I wouldn’t want to admit it to him but I think it’s helping. The giant spider behind the fridge is named Kevin. The one chilling in my bathroom behind the door is Frank. Currently unsure if Frank is alive because he has not moved one inch since I started living here. I also have spiders in two corers of my bedroom ceiling named Peggy and Andromeda. The good thing is, the apartment is really cute and the water pressure is fantastic so I guess everything evens out.

Anyway, today was my first day of classes and it went rather well! Scootering up hills with a backpack can be rather difficult, if you were wondering. It’s pretty efficient though! I could ride my bike but I’m a terrible bike rider and I need to practice on all those hills before using it as a mode of transportation. It was a long day full of walking and syllabusses (syllabi?) and needless to say, I am very tired.

Here are some pics of my apartment (sorry for shoddy quality) Very Zoe-esque

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What Happens When You Don’t Safely Remove Your USB? You Cry.

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This was my USB after they put it back together

OK SO LET ME JUST TELL YOU SOMETHING.
Super terrifying.
Ok. So, last Sunday, I was about to get ready to work on my studio project on the computer. It was more than half way done and I was super pumped to finish it. I wanted to take my laptop into studio to work on the project. However, my USB, which had my project and all the related files, was plugged into my laptop and all the programs I needed were open on my computer. That meant that I needed to close all my programs in order to take the USB out, and of course, I’m too lazy to do that. So, I proceeded putting my laptop into my backpack when… I DROPPED MY LAPTOP RIGHT ON MY USB and before my eyes, I watched my poor, defenseless USB get snapped in half. IN HALF. I started at it in shock and horror. I’d like to tell you I was calm and collected about the whole situation but that would be the a lie and then some. I. FREAKED. OUT. For like ten minutes. It was all over. I was going to have to start from the beginning for a project due in two short days. I was going to die. Or maybe drop out of school all together. Or maybe I could fix it. No, it’s broken. Forever. All my information gone. After my initial panic, my roommate Haleigh came to the rescue. After asking some computery people on our floor, we discovered that the apparently, the way the USB broke, it could be stuck back together to retrieve the information. My buddy Logan walked down to the library to the IT desk where they could hopefully fix it. I handed them the two parts of the USB and the guy fiddled with the prongs of the one piece, trying to fit them into the holes on the other piece. When he seemed satisfied with the connection, he carefully placed the USB into the port. But nothing happened. He took it out, fiddled with it some more and then stuck it back in the computer, exclaiming “we have light!”. What an emotional roller coaster! I was relieved, and finally got to work on my project. Long story short, if you’re going to break your USB, break it right. Also, don’t be lazy and just take the USB out of the computer.

Other exciting things? We found out there’s a way to get on the roof of our dorm. Pretty cool.
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Also, the Weinermobile was on campus the other day. I don’t know why. But I took a picture of it.

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The Not-So-Horrible Stadium Cleanup, and Other Things That Happened

So last weekend the weeked before last (becuase I had actually started writing this post before last weekend) I had my SECOND stadium cleanup of the year and I promise you that I won’t go on a super long rant this time. We actually finished an hour earlier (1:00 PM instead of 2:00) because we had way more people and were slightly more organized. There were also almost no streamers which was wonderful and it hadn’t rained the night before so all the food and stuff wasn’t soggy and wet. And that’s all I have to say about that! (Suprised? So am I).
So since I have really put off this post for a long time, I am just listing the things that have happened in the last 2 and a half weeks:
1.The homecoming parade featuring Keegan Michael Key. Also, my uncle was in the alumni blue band.
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2. Stadium cleanup

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3. I took this pretty picture of a dead bird in the sunset

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4. I went to see the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain (and they were AMAZING and so punny!!!)

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5. We had our first field trip in ecology. We are learning about the spring creek watershed

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6. PSUkulele played at Hershey Medical Center
Then we went to Hershey’s Chocolate World where they were handing out trick or treat bags to all the little kids and they gave me one.
On the ride home, we saw a double rainbow

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6.5. It was also parent’s weekend and my lovely family came up to visit 🙂

7. I spent all of my Monday and Tuesday in studio working on a project that was due Wednesday

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We were designing a garden that celebrated rain. This project was a big part of the reason that I hadn’t been posting.

8. We went on our second ecology fiend trip

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And now you’re mostly caught up!

Week One, Again

So last year I remember writing something like the first week of classes was the longest week of my life. Well, this year I was hoping it would be better. I was wrong. It’s been seven days but it has felt like an entire month, again. But, this time I didn’t have to go through it all alone! That’s always nice. My classes this year are few but they are very long. I have my studio class (three hours) which is in the morning this semester! Yay! But then on some days I have two super long classes in a row and – if you know anything about me – you know that I can’t pay attention for five hours of only two different subjects. So this ought to be an interesting self study in the inattentive nature of myself.
I saw a cool hot air balloon yesterday:

IMG_7730.JPG I apologize for the fuzzy image though.