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 🙂

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:

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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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!)

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!

Sweaty LARCHies in DC

On Wednesday, we (the second year landscape architects) took a nice little day trip to Washington DC to look at some cool memorials. We left campus around 6:30 and started driving. I, unlike almost everyone else, did not sleep because I hate sleeping on the bus. I also got to watch the sun rise, which was nice. I gotta say that it’s pretty hard to restrain myself from taking pictures of people sleeping because some people sleep in such funny positions. Also, the clouds looked cool in the morning.009Anyway…

We arrived four hours later, and upon stepping off the bus, felt the most uncomfortable, humid, and incredibly sweltering hot day we were about to endure. Seriously, it was awful.

First, we visited the FDR Memorial. We had divided into groups before hand that were each assigned a memorial to research and then tell the rest of the class about when we got to their memorial. I had the FDR memorial, and after stumbling over our notes, we walked through.

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Then, we visited the MLK Memorial.

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Then we had lunch. By this point, we were a pretty sweaty bunch and had already complained an awful lot about how miserable it was outside. The only available food stand was a kiosk selling overpriced hotdogs and hamburgers. (I mean, what would you expect at a tourist destination). My friends and I found a nice spot in the shade to eat.

Then we went to some more memorials…

Good ol’ Abe Lincoln Memorial

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The Korean War Memorial

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The Vietnam War Memorial

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The World War II Memorial

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And, of course…

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The Washington Monument! (Featuring me and some weird pigeons)

So we did have a good time and saw lots of things despite being drenched in sweat 🙂 And would you look at that sky!