Snow Day!

Today was a crazy and magical day, because for the first time since my freshman year, classes were canceled due to inclement weather!!! Woo! And you know what my friends and I did? Not homework. We went sledding! The hot spot for sledding is behind the baseball stadium. Super fun! Here are some pictures:

Like typical college kids, we used the classic dumpster card board sled. We also used a “flexible flyer” sled borrowed from my grandparents. See we were all smiling because we are trying not to think about how cold it was outside.

 

And all that sledding, and especially the walking back up the hill tired us all out. 🙂

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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 🙂

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.

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!

Actual Designing

Hello again! I am back from break but it really feels like I never left. Here is a lovely add on that my friend wrote on my little dry erase board:

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Nice.

After weeks and weeks and weeks of site analysis, we are finally getting in to designing our CSL Site. Did I tell you about the project we’ve been working on all semester? I’m not sure but I may have forgotten to mention it because it’s been SO MUCH site analysis. (Side note to anyone who is a landscape architect, I DO understand the importance of site analysis and its necessary function in actually beginning design by understanding different relationships and qualities of the surrounding envrionment, but there’s just SO MUCH!). Anyway, Our CSL site is a small campus with 4 buildings on a bigger plot of land that’s a ways behind the arboretum.

Our little campus is part of a big master plan of the site that will have orchards, a vegetable garden, and some big farm fields, as well as forest and prairie restoration, Obviously, this is all theoretical. Here is the no-so-beautiful master plan that I currently have for my site.

Just kidding, I didn’t take a photo and I think you can probably carry on with your life without ever seeing it.

And this is the 5-acre campus with the 4 buildings. Pretty nifty.

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And, North Halls has now become a full-fledged construction zone. Wooo. (That was sarcasm, it actually sucks). There is way too much noise and activity in our usually quite little part of campus. The entire parking lot is blocked off so no one can use it as a short cut, or park in there. Move out day will be terrible. Also, while the parking lot is being turned into another dorm, the ugliest unfinished water tower ever is being constructed behind Stuckeman as I type. The once lovely view of Hort Woods and such is an ugly mess of welding. There are fences everywhere. I hate it.

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I saw a very sad thing the other day coming home from gymnastics practice:

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Doesn’t that just make you weep? Ah.

Aaanyways, Happy Spring!2016-03-26 18.46.57

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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Muddy Site Walks and Strange Weather Patterns

Hello people! I have finally gotten around to writing a new post!

I have decided to start taking more pictures of all the things my friends and I do, and we do some pretty bizarre things. My friend group has decided to take up knitting, and one night, we all sat on a bed, knitted and watched Harry Potter.

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Here are some other pictures that I will not explain, but you can look at anyway because they are funny out of context and don’t make sense even in context.

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This winter has been a strange one. Have you heard of that big snow storm on the East Coast? Well, south of State College, people were getting a whopping two feet of wonderful snow. You know what we got? Six lousy inches. Ok, ok, I should be happy that we got snow, but I am still very disappointed that we didn’t get as much as everywhere else. When the snow really started falling, we all ran around outside.

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The next morning, I got up and looked out the window at the end of the hallway to find this:

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It was probably the most wonderful thing I’d ever seen. I woke my friends up so they could see. Whoever did this was a genius but is now short on pants.

Now, about a week later, it’s in the high 30s and 40s. Most of the snow has melted and it feels like early fall or spring. It’s supposed to be winter. We actually played frisbee outside the other day it was so warm out.

I suppose you may be wondering what I’ve been doing in my LARCHie studio (or not. I mean, I doubt it’s crossed your mind but I’ll tell you anyway).

We’ve been doing a whole lot of site analysis. Visiting the site and observing stuff about it and where trees and views and stuff are and why those trees and views and stuff are important. Yesterday, we walked to our site, which was a decent hike of two miles. Our site is a huge farm field, and the day was warm and the snow was melting which creates the perfect conditions for mud. Lots and lots of mud.

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And here is a run-down of some of the less significant/not photographed events that have happened in the last few weeks/will happen soon:

  • I lost my ID twice in one week
  • We ate frozen yogurt at 10:30 at night and then had a snowball fight in the arboretum
  • We played an intense game of don’t touch the floor in one of the lounge areas in the basement
  • I slipped in the mud multiple times
  • I have a gymnastics meet next weekend!

So all in all, some pretty eventful weeks!