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!

 

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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!

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:

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. 🙂

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!

 

 

The THON Experience

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You can’t tell because I’m short but this line is very very long. These are all the groups waiting to go into the BJC and LASS was at the back of the line.

 

I know that I’m not as involved or excited about THON as most of the other people at this school. However, I decided that this year I was going to actually do the THON experience. I went with LASS (landscape architecture student society) and got passes to enter right at 4:00 when the BJC was open for business. Unfortunately, as many people involved in LASS THON (so many acronyms!) were also involved in THON ORGS (organizations that are exclusively for raising money and supporting THON families) there were only four of us available to wait in line with our giant foam letters. We waited in this line probably for a good hour and a half before being able to enter the BJC. Once inside, we pick a section of seats and sat down until everyone had to stand. If you are confused as to what THON is, this is my interpretation: THON is 46 hour dance marathon. The dancers, who represent the different THON organizations, student clubs and fraternities, must stay on their feet and awake for 46 hours. All the clubs and orgs and such stand in the audience supporting and watching the different entertainers that may perform throughout the weekend. It’s quite a spectacle. I personally don’t think its all that healthy to be awake and not able to sit down for two days but its all FTK (for the kids).

But back to my story which isn’t really all that exciting. So we put our giant foam letters in the seats. These are letters that the different groups in the stand hold up to identify their location and show the dancers on the floor that they are still there in the stands. Anyway, we didn’t actually hold up our letters because there were four of us and five letters. You may be wondering, “doesn’t ‘LASS’ only have 4 letters?” Yes but we didn’t want to be responsible for the word that would result if the person holding the “L” were to sit down. So we went with LARCH instead.

Some super exciting and cool things that I got to do/see:

  1. I learned the infamous “line dance” this year. It’s a choreographed dance that is taught to everyone and performed about every hour to make sure everyone keeps moving and stays wake and all that. It’s pretty difficult to pick up because it’s actually pretty long. It’s fun though! Here is a pic from the line dance:_dsc1402
  2. I was DNCE perform! I am not a huge fan of their music but they perform the song “Cake by the Ocean” which is very popular. Also, Joe Jonas who was a childhood Disney star is the lead singer in the band and it’s always cool to see famous people. They were great but it got a little strange when they started doing some questionable looking…’dance moves’ I guess you’d call it and it was definitely not something that small children should’ve witnessed. Other than that, great performance!_dsc1387 _dsc1371
  3. So the real reason I wanted to go to THON was to watch my amazing and talented friends from @PSUkulele perform! I wished I could’ve been on stage with them but I forgot to audition. (oops). Anyway, getting to perform on the THON stage is a pretty coveted position and I am so so proud of them! Our club has really come a long way in the few short years I’ve been in it! Here are the videos (ps you should subscribe):

    Also I took a million pictures of them but only a few cam out ok:_dsc1472_dsc1492 _dsc1497

In total, I stayed for about 9 hours which is nothing compared to most of the people I the stands, but I’m still glad I stayed for long enough to actually get a feel for what it means to be awake and standing for almost two full days.