The Week Before Finals: My Laptop Died Edition

This year’s installment of “the week before finals is absolute the worst” is brought to you by: my laptop’s operating system gets corrupted in the middle of final project panic. Yes. In the week when I have the least amount of time to deal with things due to final projects, I have to go to best buy and sit and wait and cry a little on the inside while they tell me that my laptop (which I just bought a two or three months ago) has to be factory reset. Sigh. I do have my final project boards though if you want to see them:

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Our assignment, which I mentioned in the post You Can’t Spell “Gowanus” without “Us”, deals with a redevelopment concept around the Gowanus canal. I did a large community plaza space thing. I’m not gonna lie, I got a lot of negative feedback on this design but I’m still happy with what I did.

I also presented my final project for photography. My concept was taking pictures from the perspective of a shoe. Here is my final project:

PSUkulele has also been doing some fun things! We had our end-of-year showcase at Webster’s Bookstore downtown:

 

And we played for an event at the Elks Country Club!

 

Now, I am home and enjoying not doing anything at all! I bought a new camera (A Nikon D5300 if you were curious) and am taking up close pictures of my parents and pets with an expensive camera instead of phone so, yeah, I’m moving up in the world. Next week I start my internship with the landscape architect working for DCNR (Department of Conservation and Natural Resources). Very exciting!

 

Longwood Gardens in Bloom

On a sunny morning in late April, we headed down to Longwood Gardens to look at some plants. You probably don’t remember, but we had actually been to Longwood during Freshman year before all the leaves were on the trees because it was still winter. Anyway, this time, there were actual flowers and things blooming and it was so lovely! If you live in the area and have never been, I would definitely recommend it, even if you are not a plant fanatic because it is beautiful and the amount of maintenance required to keep this place perfect will blow your mind.

We were supposed to be taking notes on different spaces and plants for class but I mostly just looked at all the plants and wandered around.

One of the cool things we go to do was go behind the scenes of some of the plant growing operations. We walked through green houses with rows and rows of different plant species.

There was also this tree called a Mardarinquat (I think) which looked awesome but we weren’t allowed to pick any.

They also showed us these crazy flowers they were propagating that only bloom every 7 years and cost upwards of $600 dollars if I’m not mistaken! So I think this picture should be worth at least $50 haha.

Anyway. After getting a tour, we were able to walk around on our own! Yay! I definitely could’ve stayed longer but I still got to see plenty of foliage and flora.

First we took a stroll down the Flower Garden Walk which was planted with over 250,000 bulbs! That’s crazy! Here are some pics:

Pictures of columbine flowers (I think) planted around the fountain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These pictures don’t really do it justice but you can still see all the pretty flowers 🙂

The formal Italian Water Garden is lined with pollarded trees which I personally am not a fan of but they do look rather sculptural in this setting

The meadow. A perscribed burn had just been done to part of the meadow which was pretty cool. These burns are important and mimic natural meadow ecosystem processes that promote seed germination, ecological health, and the suppression of weeds among other things.

We also got to walk around the indoor greenhouses which are always blooming with beautiful flowers!

 

 

And no trip to Longwood would be complete without using the famous greenwall bathrooms!

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:

My Third Spring Break

Well I have really been quite terrible about keeping everyone updated on my happenings. But then again, everyone said that this year would be the most difficult and time consuming year of all and I have yet to disagree. A majority of my meals last weekend consisted of chicken tenders from the commons and breakfast sandwiches from Au Bon Pain. After a grueling couple of weeks, I have finally reached that beautiful checkpoint of spring break. YAY! So, here is what I have been so busy with that I didn’t have the time to let you all know:

Studio Stuff

Our latest studio project was a to design a mixed-use community with different housing types and a commercial district. I designed a community that gave creative and educational opportunities to lower-income people. I wanted to call it “the starving artist community” but felt like that was too on the nose. Haha. Anyway, here is a pdf of my project boards if you are so inclined to view them 🙂

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Our next project will be on the “scenic” Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, NY. If you are unaware (as I was) this canal is not scenic. It smells. And apparently has a dark sludge residing in its murky bottom which is affectionately called “black molasses”. We’re going on a site visit soon, so that should be interesting.

Photography

The last assignment we submitted for photography was a “narrative.” The goal was to create scenes that told some kind of story that the viewer didn’t understand. Think sci-fi fantasy kind of deal or The Twilight Zone but in color. Here are the two photos that I submitted:

My next assignment is to choose a photographer (famous) and imitate their style. I chose Ansel Adams who photographed beautiful landscapes of California and the South West in black and white. I almost feel bad trying to copy them because mine are no where near that caliber. Also, I need some mountains.

Apartment Life

So you may or may not know that my lovely little apartment is not equipped with a washer and dryer. I recently decided to start washing my clothes in the bathroom and hanging them on a clothesline. This has proved largely inefficient due to living in a basement that is always slightly humid so that nothing every really dries. So, my dear mother decided to purchase me a tiny electric dryer and a crank washer. I am very excited to be washing clothes in my apartment and will update you on how everything works out!

Have a nice day!

 

 

It’s Too Early to be This Busy

Hi friends who still read this blog even though my frequency of posting is dismal. Three weeks of the semester have already come and gone, and many things have happened since my last post. I haven’t even told you what classes I’m taking!

The most frightening thing about this semester is that all the professors have told us that third year is notorious for it’s difficulty and stress level. Not a great thing to hear right out of the gate. Luckily, I am only taking 14 credits. It was going to be 15 because I tried out for a private piano lesson class but messed up pretty bad at the audition and ended up getting the good ol’ boot. But don’t worry! Something even better happened which I will tell you about later. The classes that I’m actually taking are two LARCH studios that deal with community design and planting design which I mostly enjoy but have some gripes about which will be detailed in the next paragraph. I’m taking some writing/history of LARCH class which is very confusing and vague. And, finally, I’m taking an awesome photography course. It’s an intro for learning how to use a DSLR (Digital single lens reflex) camera. It really enjoy it so far, although I’m pretty terrible at taking pictures and having to manually adjust all the settings.

Here are a few of the pictures I have taken with the camera that are not super terrible:

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Anyway. So my gripe about Planting Design class. I spent my entire weekend in studio working on a project for the class. I had almost no time to do anything else for my other classes, which sucked. We have never had to stay in studio that long so early in the week! Sigh. At least my design looked pretty slick! Here is a PDF of it: roane-hopkins_z_mixedplantingbed I was pretty proud of my renderings.

Other good news. I got a new laptop! YAY! and it WORKS! Very exciting! It’s an Acer Aspire R and it is great! Not much else to day about that but I just wanted to let you know.

Last weekend, PSUkulele traveled to the Hershey Medical Center to play ukulele for people. What a wonderful experience! You may or may not recall that we also went last year and played in the lobby and the cafeteria. Well, this time was a little bit different in a very cool way. Instead of playing in the lobby, we were suggested to play outside in front of the pediatric wing, because it has this big wall of windows looking out on a sculpture garden. Although it was a little misty and cold outside, we stood by that sculpture and sang as loud as we could to the windows. I don’t know if any of the patients could actually hear us but we could see a few little head peeking out of the windows and waving to us and it was so cool. While we were playing, a mother walked by and told us were were cute and asked if we wanted to play up on one of the floors. The woman who coordinated our visit told us that we weren’t aloud but we convinced her otherwise. We weren’t allowed to play in the patients rooms but did get to play in one of the small lobbies on one of the floors. A few patients and visitors came over to listen. After we wrapped up our singing, we went to a local crepe place which was delicious!

In the way of club gymnastics stuff, we have an away meet coming up at JMU and I am no where near ready. haha.

That’s about it.

Oh, the reason I was fine about not getting into a piano lesson is because I got offered an opportunity to do paid research with the Stuckeman School! Yay! Ok I’m tired, goodnight.

 

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!

Finally Home

(This post was supposed to be posted last week but I didn’t do it)
So even though I didn’t have any finals, I had to stay until the next Sunday of finals week because I had another class. Yes, that’s right. Another class. Four long days of filed trips full of plant identifying and nature observing. It was fun, actually even though it rained the first two days. Here are some cool pics!
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I can’t believe I’m going to be a junior! That’s so scary! I still feel like a freshman.
So things I’ve been doing since I got home! Since I’ll be living in an apartment off campus, my kind parents are letting me paint some chairs! I have three of the four done and then I’m going to learn how to re-weave the seats!

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Pretty cool!

Also here is my desk after final presentation week!

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