The Future is Now

[ORIGINALLY WRITTEN ON NOV 6 2019]

Guess what I did yesterday? I rode in a self-driving shuttle! It was an adorable little vehicle that only goes 12 miles an hour but it’s still pretty darn cool. The demonstrator people were showing it off in the parking lot. Look how cute:

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They set in a pre-programmed path and a destination for it to go and it’s so accurate it will be within four centimeters of that path! It’s got lots of camera and sensors but uses LIDAR data to detect obstacles as well. One of my classmates stood in front of it while it was moving and it actually stopped in front of him.

Yesterday, I also turned in my resin cased model which I thought turned out good but I didn’t get such positive comments from my professor. Oh well. It’s still pretty neato. The process if resin casting is a sort of wasteful, lengthy one.

First, I started with making my object our of REN foam, which I had to sand down into the shape I wanted (even though my professor was not a fan). Once I had a nice shape, I sanded it and sanded it with up to 2000 grit sandpaper to make it smooth.

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Then I sprayed it with a primer paint and sanded that until I reach 2000 grit as well. Once my model was good and smooth, I made a plywood box and glued the model to the bottom. Then I mixed together some very expensive silicone and poured it into the mold to make a negative cavity in the silicone in the shape of my object.
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After the silicone hardened, I dismantled my box and removed the object so I had a silicone mold.

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Then mixed together some very expensive resin, added color, and poured it into the mold. Very quickly after that, I had to put it into a pressurized chamber for an hour. The pressure was supposed to shrink any of the bubbles that formed in the resin so it would be perfectly finished.

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When I took it out of the mold, it wasn’t very shiny. I had to again sand it and sand it and sand it until I got any bumps and bubbles out and the surface was smooth. THEN I had to use a polishing compound and rub it on the object for like half and hour to make it shiny. THEN I took it to class where the professor pooped on my object with his words. (I am bitter about this, if you can’t tell).
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Over the weekend, my cousins came to town! They were here to run the Rock n’ Roll Marathon and they brought along their spouses and children for support. (I should clarify that they only ran the half, but that’s still twelve more miles than I ran that day). Watching thousands of runners at 8 AM definitely makes you feel like you aren’t doing enough with your day.

Anyway, after they finished, we hung out in Forsyth and listened to the live bands until the kiddies grew too grumpy and sleepy, so we got some food truck food and went back to my aunt’s house. I has a wonderful time meeting my new second (I think) cousins and catching up with my regular cousins and aunt. We ordered pizza for dinner and watched the Hunger Games catching fire.

Today is an “eat a block of cheese while sitting on the floor doing work and trying not to fall asleep” kind of day. It’s been a long quarter. It felt like forever, but I am finally going home next weekend! And I won’t have to be back until January!!! I’ve really been struggling the past few days. It’s not that I have a lot of work, it that my motivation to do stuff has greatly diminished and I want to go home. Also, I hadn’t been eating enough meals in the dining hall over the quarter and I have to use all my meals before the quarter ends. This is good because I don’t have to go to Kroger for the rest of the quarter but bad because I have no snack and I’m hungry all the time. But some things never change I guess.

There are some other projects I forgot to tell you about!

First is a helmet I made out of EVA foam. The kind of foam they use for those play mats that fit together like puzzle pieces. We had to have some kind of theme for the helmet and mine was the “don’t talk to me” helmet. It has giant headphones and spikes and looks very punk rock.

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To make the helmet, we had make a template using a mannequin head. We were told to wrap the head in tin foil and duct tape and then trace out the shape of the helmet shape and cut it into pieces that can then be traced on the foam. The mannequin was the same size as my head but everyone else had bigger heads than me so they resorted to a different method to making their template the right size for their head. Here is a picture of them in action:

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The other project I’ve been working on is replicating an object as close as possible to the original using techniques we learned in class. We are supposed to do two iterations. The first one was due a few weeks ago and the second one is due next week. The Second one has to be better than the first. I chose a foot tambourine that ended up being pretty difficult to make. Here is my first one (Can you tell which is the model and which is the original?!?!):

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HINT: It’s the model is the one on the right!

 

Also, here is the picture of the Gulfstream building!

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I’m Done, and It’s Weird

I’m like, DONE done. Graduated. Gone. I own Penn State nothing. And it feels really weird. Because for five long years, I spent hours in studio and stressing about all the things I have to do.

Schreyer Medal Ceremony

Friday afternoon was the medal ceremony for the Schreyer Honors College. Before the ceremony was a reception held in Pegula Ice area. The food was sub-par. The ceremony itself was not too bad. For some reason, it was held in the BJC instead of a smaller venue. All the graduates were shuffled into a basketball gym off to the side of the main floor and given cards with numbers which we used to organize our selves in alphabetical order. That didn’t take too long, but we then had to wait for quite some time before the ceremony started. I found Nate (my buddy from club gymnastics) amongst the crowd we got a lovely pic together.

There were over 400 graduates. When they read our name, we walked across the stage, shook a bunch of hands (including president Barron), received our medal and went over to a medal tie-er who velcro-ed it around our necks. I got mine tied by one of my favorite professors which was really nice (even though he put it on backwards!). That was it. Minimal fanfare. It was nice. I am now officially the 3rd generation of my family to graduate with honors! Check out this photo!

Actual Graduation

The Arts and Architecture pre-graduation reception was way classier than Schreyer’s. There was quality food and a live band jazzing up the morning. Also, I actually knew everyone, which makes events like this much more enjoyable! We all socialized and took lots of pictures. Then, at 11:30, we started the procession from the under the water tower by Stuckeman to Eisenhower Auditorium. Some of the parents followed along.

The ceremony itself was pretty short. Only an hour or so. The dean of the college mentioned me in her her graduation speech! She talked about my adoption memorial and whatnot. I already knew about it but kept it a secret from my family as a surprise! Needless to say they were surprised! The LARCHies got to walk first. We just walked across the stage and shook more hands and walked off. I sorta thought we might get some fake piece of paper but nope. Oh well, it was still quite nice. I can’t believe it’s been 5 years since I started this blog! I’ve done so many cool things! I am happy to be done though.

After graduation, my family and Logs had a little get together. I’m so happy that so much of my family (on both sides) and friends came to see me walk across a stage! I appreciate and love all of you very much! 🙂

In the evening, Log and I went out on the town. We went out with Ben to Cafe 210 on College Ave. Our friends joined us later on. We had a great time and I drank a whole alcohol! Not too bad!

So now I’m home. But not for long! Tomorrow, very early in the morning, my mom and I are jet setting off to China! That’s right! I’m going to visit my birth(?)city and do some sight seeing and eat all the noodles.

Oh, look! It’s me and my beautiful sister!

What I Did Instead of Packing

This last week after classes were over has be great because I got to catch up with a lot of people I had promised we would hang out with. I also found time to take grad photos after a threat from my other who said show would drive up here and take them herself if I didn’t figure something out.

Saturday: LASS(T) Banquet

Saturday was the last LASS Banquet. LASS is the Landscape Architecture Student Society. We have a departmental banquet every year with awards and stuff and ok food. This year was no different! Except for the fact that I won stuff! First, Logan and I got this new award that they just started this year (we think they made it for us because we didn’t fit the bill for any other awards). It’s the Excellence in Leadership for Environmental Good. Also, a month or so ago, I was nominated for an ASLA Student Honor/Merit award. All the nominees had to give a presentation to a jury and they decided on who would get Honors or Merit. If you were wondering, Honors is better. Good thing that’s what I got!

Monday: Printing and Photoshoots

Our print accounts deactivated at noon on Monday. I had an extra piece of chipboard and I wanted to plot some stuff out before that happened, so Log and I headed up to campus to squeeze a few more things out of the Stuckeman Building before we left. I printed a poster that I made for my Memorial studio and laser cut some random stuff just because I could. After that, we headed over to Old Main to take some grad photos. It was supposed to be rainy and I was worried the weather wouldn’t hold out, but it did! Ben joined us in the Arboretum for more photos. We took them ourselves because why pay money when you already spend hundreds of dollars on fancy cameras and lenses.

Photo is of Me, Logan, and Ben (From left to right)

Tuesday: Chicken Parm and Pasta Party

I usually hang out with my LARCHies buddies, but I finally has some time to chill with some club gymnastics friends. We planned a pasta making get together at my tiny apartment.

Wednesday: Last Practice

It was my last practice ever. Kinda sad. But it’s ok! Here’s a cute pic of Sierra, Alex, and I that we recreated from Sophomore year.

This is us now:

This is us at the end of Sophomore year

 

Thursday: Waffles, Arboretum Walk, and Trivia Night

In the morning, me and some LARCHie friends went to the Waffle Shop. Logan decided to go fishing so Ben and I took a photography walk around the arboretum. We found lots of plants peeking out the ground. Including trilliums! (One of my fave plants).

In the evening, we went to Zeno’s for trivia night. Alex and Ashley came too! The speed round for trivia was identifying 10 different leaf silhouettes and we all got real excited. After trivia, we went to Champs to play pool. It was loud and dark and very crowded. After a while, we finally snagged a pool table. I’m pretty bad at pool but it’s still fun. We also taught Ashley how to play.

Friday (Today): Graduating with Honors

Today is the Schreyer Honors College graduation which is for some reason being held at the Bryce Jordan Center despite a fairly small number of graduates. This morning, I got my final grades in and learned that I got bumped up from Cumme Laude to Magna Cumme Laude! Even though it’s not going to change in the program, I still got to exchange my white cord for a blue one!

P.S. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE check out my honors thesis website! www.zroanehopkins.wixisite.com/lawngonenative

I should probably start packing soon.

LABASH 2018 at Penn State

I finally have the time to write some new blog posts! Woo! The end of the semester is quickly approaching! Tomorrow is my final presentation for my studio in Baltimore which is very exciting! Not so exciting? We have to leave at 6 AM (That is early for college students). I guess that’s not as bad as waking up at 3:30 AM to board the plane back to Pittsburgh (But you’ll hear about that in a later post). There are going to be many posts coming your way, but let’s start where I think I left off.

LABASH 2018

Wow! What an insane weekend. And tiring. very tiring. It was basically two full days of presentations and workshops by professionals in our field. And boy did we score some professional professionals. In terms of notoriety, we had a lot. Gina Ford, Susannah Drake, Ken Smith, David Rubin, Claudia West. Lots of important people. And its so strange that they are all here in not-that-exciting-compared-to-the-fancy-cities-they-work-in State College, Pennsylvania. I’m not going lie, part of me wondered what kind of incentives they had to come here. But regardless, it was exciting. The opening ceremony was at the State Theatre and I got to see my logo displayed on the big screen which was supremely cool.

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I also got to design the pin! (remember that?) it looks like this:

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So Logan decided to make a giant wooden seal of my design to display all weekend:

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He is quite a character!

He also helped make this awesome palette wall:

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I couldn’t resist a handstand

The weekend consisted of listening to lectures and running around looking busy and getting shooed away by people more important than I haha.

also notice how all the volunteers had bright green shirts. We were referred to as the green shirts all weekend which then got truncated to ‘the shirts’.

After that was over I finally had time to relax right?

WRONG. (See next blog post)

Hire Me Please

Baltimore Site Visit

On February 1st, my studio went on a site visit to the Johnston Square neighborhood in Baltimore. We talked with the Parks & People foundation and residents about the area and design opportunities. It was awesome to listen to how passionate residence are about the neighborhood and I am super excited to design something that they might be able to use! After our meeting, we walked around the neighborhood. Here are some pics:

Career Fair

Two weeks ago was the Stuckeman School Career Fair. AKA the Most stressful, social-anxiety causing situation of my ’emerging professional’ life. At least they talk to me now that I’m a 4th year and not a 1st year. Anyway, it’s basically a bunch of important professionals standing around studio next to informational posters waiting for us to come up and ask about their firm. I really am not a fan of initiating conversations so I would just walk slowly by until one of the people asked me what my major was. It worked out pretty well.

JMU Meet

It’s meet season! Right after career fair, I got the late car down to JMU for the first gymnastics meet of the year. It was a decent meet, nothing too exciting. But I felt it warranted a mention on the ol’ blog. I did get to do my new floor routine which was very fun!

Birds Everywhere

I took my birds out of their cage! I can’t tell if they really liked flying around my apartment but they pooped on a minimal amount of stuff and I got some cute pics!

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. 🙂

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 🙂