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:

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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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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!

Near-End of Semester Panic: Part 2

One Day in New York City

A few Thursdays ago, my all the landscape architecture majors in the class LARCH 60 went to New York City to look at parks and such. My advice to you is that if you are ever thinking about visiting 18 or more different parks throughout the city in 7 hours, your enjoyment of those parks will be greatly diminished by your lack of ability to actually stay in one place for more than 10 minutes. Just stay for a weekend because otherwise, you’ll be running around like a crazy person (or at least power walking around) and you will not be able to stay very long in any of the places you visit – which is what we had to do.

Of course the first thing we did was visit Olmstead’s legacy of landscape architecture, Central Park. Luckily, we visited on a beautiful day and there were people outside.

Here is a gallery of pictures in a random order from my day!

 

A Garden Field Trip in February

So last Thursday, the freshman LARCHies (that’s what us landscape architects call ourselves) went on a field trip to Longwood Gardens. It’s somewhere in Pennsylvania. The lovely day started with getting up at 5:45 in the morning. It was cold and icy. The bus driver said that he had been to Longwood Gardens before and that it was really nice, but of course, he went in May or June. You know, when there are plants growing and it’s not cold. But no. We went on Thursday, when it was cold, and plantless. Actually, there were indoor gardens to walk around in which were pretty cool.

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There was also this really cool indoor green wall.

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I also took this fancy picture:

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After wandering through the various gardens, we visited the gift shop where – true to our major – wIMG_5872e bought plants to keep in studio. Unfortunately, all the widows (they all open on some sort of mechanical automated system) had opened during one of the coldest nights of the week and had froze all of our plants. It was so cold in the building that my water bottle had also froze. Sadly, I don’t have a picture of my plant before the incident but I do have one from after.

 

Things and Other Things

First off, I’m very sorry that I haven’t posted in while, but you know, life. You might want to prepare yourself-it’s gonna be a long one.

Anyway, you may have noticed that I now have just over 1,000 hits on my blog. You know, no big deal or anything…

*Must…resist…making…reference…to…The Office*
 (Oops)

This is a HUGE DEAL! (At least for me). I have always wanted to make a website that people actually looked at, but I never had anything to write about, and the BAM! COLLEGE! So thanks for that readers!

Now on to more important business.

I had my first SOILS101 test earlier in the week. Here is my fairly extensive study guide.

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I was very proud of myself.

So the testing experience: Penn State had a state-of-the-art testing center, and it’s seriously high security.

I had to arrive at the testing center at least 15 minutes early. Then, I sat in a waiting room full of anxious, sleep-deprived students frantically flip through their notes in a tense silence. So that’s fun. When it is close to the starting time of the test (tests start every hour) we all lined up in a snaking line behind three little turnstiles. When it was my turn, I swiped my ID card and walked through. At the desk, a ticket printed out with my picture and station number. Also, if your teacher has allowed scrap paper, you are given a one at the desk that has a bar code on it that must be scanned before and after the test is taken. The measures they go to to prevent cheating are quite impressive.

Next on the agenda, the LARCH freshman trip to Pittsburgh and Fallingwater.

I woke up a 5:15 in the morning. I’m sort of a morning person so I enjoy the times when you are awake and you know that everyone else is still sleeping and there is no one on campus, but there are also those who are…less enthusiastic about being awake before the sun comes up. As soon as the bus took off, everyone fell asleep. Sitting close to the front of the bus, it was pretty funny looking to see the array of sleeping positions. The open mouth with head slumped back is a classic, but the drooping head and pillow neck position are also promising up-and-comers.

Before we drove down in to the city, we stopped at an over look. Here is a panorama I took at said overlook:

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It’s a pretty fantastic looking city, I’d say!

Here, also, is a non-panorama picture:

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That fountain there is the tip of Point State Park, which is where we went next.

In first-year seminar for landscape architecture, we are talking about the value of place and what that entails, so we went around to multiple places in Pittsburgh so we can consider what we think “place” should mean and whether or not the locations we visited have the qualities that would distinguish it as a  place. Generally, if somewhere is considered a “place,” it has a cultural or personal significance, makes peoplIMG_5127e feel happy, and creates or encourages feelings of community.

From my incredibly-some might even say lacking-knowledge of this state park, I can tell you that there was a for there. According to one of the articles I read, “Point is where the Allegheny and the Monogahela Rivers meet to form the Ohio” (Van Trump 59). I am very excited to be using this article outside of school 🙂 Also, “In November 1758, a British army under General Forbes captured Fort Duquesne, which the French had abandoned, and the new garrison-settlement at the Point was named Pittsburg by Forbes” (Van Trump 59). I thought that was pretty neat.

Fun fact! The water from this fountain comes from an under ground glacial river! (I also learned that from reading)

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…and I just realized that I got my finger in front of the lens again.

After the park, we visited two plazas that were across the street from one another.

Here is the Gateway Plaza:

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(With my traveling shoe)

 

And here is the PPG Plaza:

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I really don’t much to say about either of them, since we didn’t spend much time there. Also, I must apologize for my not-so-great photography on the trip.

After that, we went to the strip district for lunch. (and I am still very sorry for these pictures. This is much cooler in person).

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This was taken on the outskirts of the Strip.

And this is one of the streets with vendors and whatnot.

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Then, after another hour and a half of driving, we arrived at Fallingwater.

There are really only three things you need to know about this house:

1. Frank Lloyd Wright was basically a genius.

2. Nature is everywhere.

3. Cantilever, cantilever, cantilever.

If you ever tour the house, I would advise you to count how many times the tour guide says the word “cantilever” because it is said an incredible amount of times. Of course, that it not without cause, since basically every other furnishing in the house is a cantilever.

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But you really just want to see pictures…

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We are not allowed to take pictures inside.

Last weekend, I went home for the first time since college started. It was nice to be home in my own bed and my pets… and my family 🙂 I also went to the gym (where I do gymnastics) with my best buddy and we surprised everybody! That was a good time. I would show you pictures of me spending time with my family and friends, but somehow, the only picture I got was of my bathroom at home and I’m to posting that (even though the bathroom is clean since just my sister is using it now).