Posted on February 7, 2021
My first year at Penn the Philadelphia Eagles won their first superbowl. I was in studio, streaming the game, and munching on snacks. You could hear the celebration echo throughout the city as soon as they won. It was one of the most incredible memories I have of footbal and school.
The years to follow I’d join friends to watch the game, critique the commercials, and, as always, munch on game day snacks. But this year the pandemic is full swing. So game day watch parties aren’t really in.
That isn’t going to stop the fun though. This year I made salsa, tried making my mom’s superbowl pink dip, and set up my workstation to maximize my solo watch party.
While most of my friends won’t have any fun with this my family and single studio football friend will be rooting for Tampa Bay! Enjoy your snacks! Be nice to the delivery guys who are definitely swamped trying to fill the orders of wings, pizza, egg rolls, and what not that make the game delicious! And let’s see what this years commercials bring out in us!
I am a huge fan of the poetry commercial that kicked off the game. That was beautiful!
The oatmilk commercial got me. I need that jingle now… :,D
The Toyota Olympics commercial supporting the US Team and an adapted Jessica Long story was adorable!!! Also what a twist… Toyota’s Japanese but the superbowl is too American to do a commercial with a Japanese team support… And this year the olympics are in Japan. What an odd play. But the message was so pure and adorable!!! <3 I love it!
Halftime!!!!! I love the set! It was sick!!! That was a beautiful arrangment with great camera angles! The view from the top into the whole staduim was super unique and breathtaking. The mini city choir and backdrop just fancy. The on field dance was probably cooler on camera then in person. The way the lights on the dancers hands played with the camera just made the whole thing more energetic and gorgeous.
The show was incredible and interesting in it’s use of masking and stage location. I am curious if the face covers and stage set location was a requirement placed by the NFL or determined by The Weekend. By placing the majority of the show at the upper end of the stadium does it keep the performers airflow away from the athletes and limited audience? or would the air sink down into the stadium? Or would it blow over and out of the stadium? Would it even matter? Is there concern for on field performance with air sticking on the field and risking athletes post season? Even if all the performers are tested and negative there’s always a risk of false negatives or delayed symptoms showing.
Overall a beautiful show, that felt covid sensitive, and certainly will be interesting how next year’s halftime show follows up on it.
I enjoyed the number of commercials with a community focus. It was a very supportive commercial set. Not too many funny ones but maybe next year.
Tampa Bay win!! A little something for Florida to celebrate and forget about all the chaos for a bit.
Posted on February 3, 2021
Que sparkly winter music and the thrill of no school …. Gone. Never again will there be an equivalent. Where the weather once played a role in our lives the internet has allowed us to remove ourselves one step more from the physical world.
Meanwhile I yearn for a true snow day. While the past three days aren’t anywhere near the snow storms of my first year in Philadelphia it was strong enough to warrant canceling in person operations at the university. This impacted almost nothing. Covid tests were rescheduled for the next week and everyone continued to their next zoom meeting bitter about the click bait emails prompting dreams of snow days gone by.
No mini break but I did enjoy some hot chocolate while photographing the magic. Here’s some poor photography of the snowstorm:
As beautiful as the snow is I do hope everyone took the storm seriously. For those who are new to winter storms, like I was 4 years ago, it’s a lot like hurricane prep. You stock up on food and water. Make sure you have batteries and everything fully charged in case the power goes. Maybe the only difference is that you want to be sure to have things that will keep you warm: sweaters, good socks, blankets, heaters of any kind. The Red Cross and CDC have some nice guides on preparing for a winter storm. Once you’re prepped just sit comfy at home and watch the magic!
Should February prove to be snowy perhaps I will finally get to go sledding with friends! I’ll be sure to update you all on any fun snow shenanigans I get up to! Til then, stay warm!
Upenn Resources for Snow Emergencies:
Emergencies: 215/573-3333 or 511 (from any campus phone)
Special Services: 215/898-6600
HELP Line: 215/898-HELP (4357)
Walking: 215/898-WALK (9255)
Penn Transit Ride Service: 215/898-RIDE (7433)
General Information: 215/898-7297
Posted on January 28, 2021
Call 1-855-763-6792 toll free to see what I mean. Seriously sweet, right!?! Wanna skip the intro, press 1 to get to the goods.
Philadelphia has rolled out a Poetry Hotline called Healing Verse. A new poem is released every Monday and is scheduled for the entire year of 2021. The poetry space is hosted by Philadelphia poet laureate Trapeta B. Mayson and is a place for any Philadelphia poet to speak out their work to the public.
Poems falling within the theme of affirming poems can be submitted to the poet laureate comittee. Selected poems will be read on the hotline. There is no word on what will happen with poems that don’t make the cut for the hotline. Perhaps a poetry board can be installed online in a platform like miro, tiktok, facebook, or instagram? Regardless it’s an excellent resource and platform for aspiring poets.
For information on the poet laureate’s and how to contact them go to the Philadelphia Free Library’s website: https://libwww.freelibrary.org/programs/poet-laureate/
Thank you Grandma! I love this little tip and will enjoy my weekly poem, a memory of Philly for possibly my last year here.
Posted on January 21, 2021
New Years typically is celebrated with joy and false promises to do an insane list of new things. Well I have made New Years resolutions that have been half kept. I’ve certainly started and maintained the resolution but not always achieved the full goal. After listening to a podcast my sister sent me however I decided to try a version of it.
For the curious, the podcast/episode is NPR Life Kit’s December 29th 2020 episode “Trying to Form a Habit? Start Small” . The main takeaway that influenced me was the idea that when we are asked to make lists of positives and negatives often the two lists are extremely different in lenght. We are all too good at criticizing ourselves. If we celebrated each task or accomplishment with the same vigor as we criticize ourselves perhaps more habits would stick, more resolutions would be realized.
The test then is to see if I can switch from my lists and constant scrutiny to one of personal cheerleader. In doing so I hope to achieve the following resolutions:
- Become a better runner. I have started running. I have progressed greatly from when I started but can’t say I am all that great at it. However instead of berating myself for each failed run instead I plan to celebrate each attempt. Even when I don’t hit the miles I wanted or the time I can celebrate that I made the decision to run. That I did the support workout to build my base. That I can run so, so much more than when I first started. And maybe then I’ll really improve to the ultimate goal of half marathon!
- Read more, read again, read, read, read. Somewhere in purusing my architecture education I lost my habit of reading. When I do it tends to be for class, work, or for the profession. It seems that all other kinds of writing have been cut out of my life. So while I don’t have the time to devour whole books in one sitting like I did as a kid, I can certainly make the time to read a little bit each day. Starting with the books I was gifted for Christmas and moving on from there. I’ll finally finish all those half started books from last year.
- Write more. Much like I used to love reading, I also used to write constantly. I have no goal in mind. No word count. No storyline. I simply want to write more of anything: Short stories, informative articles, better blog posts, poems, speeches, etc. Perhaps the foundation of this years writing exercise can be next years great literature endeavour.
- Sketch better by sketching more. Sketching has always been a way of analyzing and studying places or ideas that interest me. However this is typically in plan, section, maybe a small perspective detail. I’d like to improve my general drawing skills to better depict everyday scenes. To be able to draw things other than buildings and a small range of plants. Generally the more confident I am in sketching the clearer my drawings and spur of the moment presentations will be. I can’t wait to fill up my pocket sketchbook with drawings!
This is by no means all I hope to achieve. However these seem like the simplest to change and the most obvious to impact a greater range of my life and opportunities. Excited to see how this goes!!
Posted on January 21, 2021
January 20th, 2021 was certainly an interesting day. The Presidential Inaguration, the start of the school semester at Penn, and the most interesting weather. Adding to that the start of federal work study jobs and the last few days of production for the ULI Hines competition and you have a day like no other.
Sadly it was an amazingly busy day seen from a single chair in my apartment. With every window to the world tuned into a different thing. One set on my desk following the Material Formations coding tutorials. Another logged into zoom for the coding lecture. Another showing the peaceful transition of presidency. Another trained on the weather outside, one minute a snowglobe and the next a warm spring day.
One thing is certain despite all the changes in time, in politics, in weather, the prescence of these windows to the world is only going to increase in each day. Will the computer(s) ever be turned off? I doubt it. If anything the past year of Zoomiverse has taught me how to better compartmentalize my apartment and my technology.
This semester I am starting fresh with my setup. I’ve found by assinging stations I am more productive and I can at least change up my day a litttle. I currently have a desk set up with two monitors for schoolwork. Headphones plugged in, ready to do side by side video tutorials, share screens and note taking, etc. Just below, and charged to be fully mobile, I have my ipad purely for attending zoom or streaming music when not in zoom. In another area I have set up my laptop to function solely as a “work” computer. Here I can blog, email, prepare for the upcoming job hunt, and complete non school related tasks. The tv is angled to be visible from both stations and can function as a secondary display as needed. My phone acts as a coordination device, mainly for messaging and calling others. The one non tech piece I still rely on is my calendar.
This time I went with a calendar that has both monthly/weekly pages. I find it gives me more room to get the big picture deadlines down and then specify smaller tasks to keep me in check. In addition this will help mark down my progress in non work/academic activities. Activities, goals, little dreams, all those fabulous New Years resolutions which crumble by the middle of February which I, like many people, have told myself this year WILL happen.
I am happy with my current physical set up, digitally evertyhing is further compartmentalized. Each task has it’s own window with only tabs related to it open within. Links are saved in notes for quick login to meetings. Notification settings have been updated to ensure that I recieve every update. I feel prepared for my last semester.
Interestingly one of my classes asked how to make our digital experience more seamless and productive. Naturally the answer hinged on communication tools and regular scheduling. But I am curious, how is everyone else’s digital experience? What are the platforms you are using? What has made your overall experience better? Are you ready for this next few months, whether it’s school or work?
Posted on September 22, 2020
LARP Lecture Series: https://www.design.upenn.edu/landscape-architecture/events/activ-ism
Meyerson Hall is both closed and open. While students can get in and technically have workspace I know many of us would prefer to stay home. With the majority of classes online and the studio requirements adjusting to reflect that a workspace for model making and collaborating doesn’t seem to be needed.
However the downside to everything being online is the disappearance of spontaneous inspiration. Lectures that used to be good excuses to just change rooms and meet people not typically in your class now are events on a long calendar list of zoom meetings.
Despite the more limited interaction of these events the school has made an effort to create a lecture series that engages this years events directly. The Landscape Architecture series title Activism looks promising. I unfortunately missed the first lecture of the series but look forward to attending the future lectures.
While the lecture series are still in progress much of the typical school events seem to have dissapeared or become another zoom meeting. In their place students are self organizing zoom calls, video game sessions, bubble picnics, book clubs, and group chats of a wildly spontaneous and random nature. These are all nice touches and I am undecided as of yet whether I like them more than studio.
On one hand I can choose when to engage and when not to. On the other hand perhaps this only works because these are all students I already know and don’t have to force the interactions to function. It will certainly be interesting to see how the new class handles this odd disconnect.
On that note, the Student Mentorship Program is officially started. Mentors have been assigned mentees from the incoming class. Students should connect in the next few days so perhaps then I will have a better idea of how the new class is doing!
The semester is still young and I am sure to have plenty more updates as things start to settle! Til then, good luck with studies and work!
Posted on September 22, 2020
Philly Aids Thrift: http://phillyaidsthrift.com/
Shopping can be fun. A bit of a wasteful pastime, particularly if everything purchased is new every single time. Personally, I prefer the second hand market. There’s very few things that absolutely must be brand new in my book. The majority of things we own, tables, chairs, books, clothes, plates, etc are perfectly good second hand.
I have rummaged through a fair number of Goodwill’s and Buffalo Exchanges in the North. This weekend I went with a friend to a “new” thrift store I hadn’t been to: Philly Aids Thrift.
We went to the location in the Society Hill – Queens Village area of South Philly. As with all places in Covid era there is a maximum occupancy and so lines are to be expected to get into the store. Once inside it is a little chaotic. There is a sense of organization that is subverted by the sheer amount of things and the odd interior. The building seems to be two or three different buildings all joined together through a maze of wall openings and bizarre interior decor which most of which is for sale. A floor plan exists but is easily missed at the entrance, I am placing it down below for future visitors. I hope it doesn’t change too much!
Once you get used to the maze it is a delight to search through all the little things there! I know next time I go that I will spend more time going through the $1 dollar bins of clothes, books, and odds-n-ends. The clothing racks regardless of size or posted gender are all worth searching through as I found some things were jumbled into wrong categories. Perhaps shoppers take to hiding things? I am not sure if that works quite as well in a thrift store. Regardless of the reason be sure to set aside some time, an entire afternoon really, to just comb through this store. I didn’t really find some things till I had looked a second time.
Of course with such a treasure trove store I wasn’t going to be able to leave empty handed. I am very happy with two dresses I found that require no fixing to be worn. I have a few bracelets to jazz up my zoom conferences in which I move my hands around while talking and editing on google docs. I have a few more tea cups to entertain guests at future tea parties. My friend also did not leave empty handed. We had intended to find him a decent winter coat and we absolutely did! In fact, this coat look brand new, unused, and had both an outer and inner separable jackets with zippers, pockets galore, and nice hazard flashy “stickers”, if you will. To boot, it came in the most beautiful bright yellow! Honestly if he hadn’t taken it I just might have, although I would be swallowed whole by it. In addition to his intended find he finally bought wine glasses and happened across a working rice cooker.
Not every thrift store experience is quite this fruitful. A lot of thrift shopping is hunting and searching and checking in every couple days to see if what you’re looking for is there. I certainly had that experience this summer when looking for patio and interior furniture. I am excited to see how my next visit to Philly Aids Thrift goes!
Til then I will be visiting my old haunts, and searching for “new” places to check out. If you readers have any recommendations I am all ears! Let me know places you love, hate, or haven’t been to but have heard off and want a review. Till the next time!
Posted on September 3, 2020
With the Pandemic going strong more spaces are coming to serve multiple purposes. My childhood home was no longer a cozy place of memory but a chaotic work-live space with five other people vying for the same resources. My apartment in Philly is no longer the place I go to relax and crash after a long day since I now spend my entire day here.
One thing I realized quickly was that both places needed to undergo changes to function for everyone. I needed to subdivide these spaces and practice new habits to make the most of my live-work space. Here are some of the following ways I have adjusted my apartment (and even my childhood home) for the past and upcoming semester:
- Each space has a defined purpose. Even if it’s technically all in one room each part of the room has been defined. In the case of my apartment I have a desk along one wall which serves as my studio and work space. My kitchen table serve as my creating space (for models, large drawings) while the kitchen counters are reserved for cooking only. My couch and mini folding desk serve as my lecture space, for comfy class and note taking. My comfy chairs by the window and bookshelves are where I can watch TV, take calls, and just unwind. My bedroom is for sleeping, exercising, and chatting with family. Back in my childhood home I did something similar. I had a desk in my room for studio class. My other classes I set up a bag with an iPad, a notebook, a charger, and any miscellaneous things needed for class and took the bag to the back porch or in the living room for a change of place. This was easy to clean up, store, and made changing work places possible.
- Each defined space is set up and left alone. I keep everything in a very similar arrangement constantly. This way it is ready to work no matter the time. It also allows me to leave things as they are without a ton of take down and set up every time I need to do something. This is much easier to do in my apartment but even at home I set up “kits” or “bags” of things needed for each class or task so I could pick up, move, and work.
- Set boundaries. While it’s great to have room to spread out and be able to assign different chairs and tables purpose don’t go haywire. In my case nothing work or school related is allowed to go into my bedroom. Not everything has to be programmed. Some spaces can just be.
- Have a schedule. Seriously, knowing when I start something and when I get to call it quits has really helped. There’s nothing more exhausting than not being able to walk away for a real break when all you’ve done is work on the same thing in the same space. Give yourself breaks, or even 10 minutes between changing set ups to refresh. This goes for work/school too! At night I completely shut the door to keep out computer screen light and allow myself a break from the set up in my living space. This boundary is also timed. At a certain time each night I close up shop and each morning I start up at the same time.
I understand that some of this advice is contingent on having lots of free space. And even space that isn’t shared. But this is do able even with five other people living in the same space! It really just requires communication, flexibility, and mobility.
Honestly be kind to yourself! Try things out, maybe one at a time, until things click. If anyone has any other suggestions for really pandemic proofing their work-live spaces for maximum livability and work productivity please share! I love to keep improving and hope this helps!
Posted on September 3, 2020
While at home I had a much larger garden to plan and a series of projects inside and outside the house, my second home doesn’t need quite as much work. Having left my apartment in March I knew that coming back in August one thing would certainly need work: my garden.
The before was just too sad to photograph but the after is quite lovely. I am sorry to the plants that didn’t make it. I am happy to say that a fair number of the plants were salvageable and are making strong comeback!
Some of the survivors include my 6 year old cactus, a number of succulents, a succulent like plant with gorgeous red flowers, a struggling but trying desert rose, some thai mint, staghorn fern, and a money tree. The newest member which I am most excited for is my yellow rose! I can’t wait for it to bloom!
The last blossom had a lovely strong perfume. I have since cut off the old buds and pruned away the sickly branches. New buds have started to form and I am super excited for the big reveal!
Posted on September 3, 2020
The Back Porch has seen better days. Up until this past week (think June when this started) it has been the safe house for many miscellaneous items from the Florida sun, rain, and heat. As the redesign of the backyard ramps up the design has extended into this poorly used space.
Project Porch was officially started earlier this week with a clean out. Bulky furniture, old toys, and gardening tools were pulled out of the space to make way for patch work. The Porch itself had suffered from a set of broken tiles (damaged by unknown source). These surrounding tiles in turn began to lift and became more susceptible to breaking as items were moved out of the porch. In all 12 tiles were cut out and replaced.
Thankfully we had an extra set of the correct tiles to patch together the hole in the floor. After a quick trip to Home Depot/Lowe’s to purchase grout and mortar, finally had everything necessary to fix the floor. My Mom and I spent the next two days, probably 3 hours a day, to sand, sweep, mix materials, and lay out the tiles. Thankfully the mortar and grout each had drying periods of 24 hours so once everything was set in we could work on other tasks.
Second task to occupy us while the tiles set were an old-to-new set of benches. There were two older backless benches in the porch which we decided to re-cover and keep. Several photographs of the porch and pool tiles and a quick trip to Joann’s and we had new blue fabric to complete the set. With fabric in hand and a note to check how much seating foam we had at home, we returned to the hard work of stripping down the seats. Surprisingly, despite all the other work, the task of removing staples from the benches to remove the original seating cover ripped up the skin on my finger. Honestly didn’t expect that task of all tasks to get me. Once the staples were all removed the benches needed to be sanded and prepped for staining.
Once the tiles were fully set and the benches ready we proceeded with our clean out. The porch was emptied of all furniture, potted plants, fishing cats, and other odds-n-ends. The walls were washed with a sprayer filled with a Jomax-bleach-water mix and then rewashed with a water rinse. The newly finished floor was swept, mopped, and shined. At least 6 wasp nests were removed and the very insistent occupants shooed away. Artwork was hung up on the walls.
The furniture and odds-n-ends that had be removed were now carefully sorted through. Furniture from the house was selected to update the indoor-outdoor look of the porch. Some of the original odds-n-ends were selected for resale and others were sent to the trash/recycling. A few pieces were salvaged to sand, paint, stain, refurbish and reintroduce to the porch.
The pieces selected for resale will help fund the redesign of the porch and backyard. There’s already a list of things to buy, including additional porch seating, planter boxes, gravel, good soil, cypress mulch, etc. Thankfully, thus far, each new part to the project has supported the rest of the project in surprising ways, from finding much needed resources to funding purchases.
A lot of time and some of the funding went into the search for chairs. Hunting for the style of chairs wanted, for the right price, and in the right time frame (August!!!) was different. From online sites like Wayfair and Amazon to local garage sales, thrift stores, Goodwills, and department stores it was a really interesting search with a lot of unique finds. Ultimately we purchased a set of wicker chairs and a center storage table. These beautiful pieces were purchased at a Goodwill for under $35 total! With a little, or a lot, of scrubbing, washing, sanding, refinishing, and completely new, homemade,pillows/cushions the porch has gained super comfy seating.
With seating down and storage solved, only a few small projects remain for this immediate area. A sandbag chain needs to be made and filled for flood prevention during storms. The floor drain between the pool deck and covered porch needs to be cleaned out and restored. The gutters just above need to be cleaned out, as they are annually, and a solution made to prevent them from clogging up. I am certain if this is solved then half the water concerns directly below will be taken care of. Once these are done there are sooo many more projects to take up in the back yard, pool deck, and inside!
I can’t wait to finish up these little projects and pull together at least one space for everyone to enjoy!