George Etzweiler, 97 and Still Climbing

George Etzweiler made history over the weekend, becoming the oldest person to ever complete the Mount Washington Road Race. Etzweiler ’49, a former engineering professor at Penn State, has run the race 12 times and is a member of its hall of fame.

He’s 97 years old.

Courtesy Mt. Washington Auto Road

The 12.2K race presents unique challenges for runners—Mount Washington is the tallest mountain in the northeastern part of the country at 6,288 feet, and according to Running Magazine, the average incline of the road is 12 percent.

Etzweiler holds a number of records for the race. He boasts the course record for three different age groups (85-89, 90-94, and 95-99), and is the only person above the age of 88 to run the entire course. This year, he finished the race in 4:05:29.

You can watch a clip of Etzweiler’s climb up the mountain here.

Bill DiFilippo, online editor

June 22, 2017 at 10:06 am Leave a comment

From Penn State, Ty Burrell Stumbled into the Real World

Ty-Burrell

Ty Burrell’s portrayal of Modern Family‘s Phil Dunphy has earned a number of accolades, including a pair of Primetime Emmy Awards. One of Dunphy’s endearing traits is the nervous, nutty energy that Burrell ’97g displays.

As it turns out, that energy is something that followed Burrell as he pursued a career in acting. He wrote a column this week for The New York Times recalling the first time he met with an agent, which involves him soiling himself and looking at the McDonald’s golden arches “the way I imagine immigrants spotted the Statue of Liberty.”

But before he got to that point, Burrell explained how fear impacted his desire to put off finding a job and continue his education, which led to him enrolling at Penn State.

So off to grad school I went. I spent three incredible years at Penn State, working very, very hard and accidentally doing what I’d said I was doing it for in the first place, which was convenient. I did actually dig very deeply into theater and very deeply into acting. After graduation, I discovered, to my horror, that I had no more options to put off the real world. “Really? There’s no Ph.D. in acting? No acting think tank? No heavily funded acting research focused on one day finding the cure for blinking?”

Burrell appears in the film Rough Night, which comes out nationwide on Friday, June 16.

Bill DiFilippo, online editor

June 15, 2017 at 9:43 am Leave a comment

For Zena Cardman, Space is the Place

Photo via NASA

Zena Cardman is getting an opportunity that is literally out-of-this-world. Cardman, a doctoral student in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, is one of 12 people selected this month for NASA’s 2017 astronaut class.

It’ll take a while for Cardman to get into space—her class will participate in a two-year training program before she qualifies for a potential mission—but she could become the fifth Penn Stater to fly with NASA, joining Guion Bluford ’64; Robert Cenker ’70, ’73g; James Pawelczyk ’85g; and Paul Weitz ’54.

“I am beyond humbled and proud to be a part of our space program, and in the company of this new class of astronauts,” Cardman said, via Penn State News. “It’s such a diverse group, and I’m thrilled to join my experience in microbiology and field research with the test pilots, medical doctors, engineers, and everyone else.”

Cardman has been working toward a doctorate in geosciences, focusing her research on microbe-rock interactions; she says she’s currently studying cave slime and the “totally dark” environment it lives in.

Bill DiFilippo, online editor

June 14, 2017 at 8:44 am 1 comment

Are You Living the Dream?

A initiative wants to help people figure out if they’re actually on the right path to achieving the American Dream—and help them appreciate how they got there.

The Your American Dream Score is the brain child of GALEWiLL—a social change organization founded by Bob McKinnon ’90—in conjunction with the Ford Foundation and WNET in New York. It is being done in coordination with the public broadcasting initiative “Chasing the Dream: Poverty and Opportunity in America.”

Photo via Chasing the Dream

The American Dream Score is short quiz that looks at a number of factors that have impacted an individual’s life: the role your parents played in your upbringing, your friends, and your job, among other factors. At the end, it calculates your score on a 100-point scale and dives into the factors that helped you move up in the world and the factors you’ve had to overcome.

In a release, McKinnon said, “Our hope is that people from different backgrounds, experiences and beliefs, will find their score and share it with others to start more constructive conversations about how we come to be where we are in life.”

Bill DiFilippo, online editor

June 5, 2017 at 11:18 am Leave a comment

The Price Is Right for Ryan Belz

A recent Penn State grad took home a record sum on Thursday’s edition of The Price Is Right. Ryan Belz ’16 was selected as a contestant, bid $1 on Contestants’ Row, won, and got the opportunity to play Plinko—the show’s signature game in which contestants drop chips down a board for the chance to win money.

Once the game started, Belz put forward the second-best Plinko performance in the show’s history. He won $31,500, with three chips landing in the maximum $10,000 slot. His performance was unforgettable, but it paled in comparison to his reaction to getting up there and winning a ton of cash.

If you’re going solely by how people perform on daytime episodes of The Price Is Right, no one has ever topped Belz. The only person to accrue more money did so on a special edition of the show with a $20,000 slot on the board.

Sadly, Belz didn’t advance past the next game he played—spinning the Big Wheel for the opportunity to make it to the show’s final showcase—but seeing as how he already won a hefty chunk of change, he told Onward State that he wasn’t too bummed.

“My day, my week, my month, my year, and my life have been made!” Belz said. “It is literally a dream come true!”

Bill DiFilippo, online editor

May 26, 2017 at 4:07 pm Leave a comment

Got a Few Minutes? Print Out a Short Story

There are three buttons on the brand new Short Story Dispenser at Schlow Library. I press the middle one and wait for it to generate a free story that will apparently take me three minutes to read (the other options are for a minute and five-minute reads).

Within seconds, a story titled “In the Dark” prints out on what looks like a lengthy grocery store receipt. It just happened to be at the top of the three-minute queue at that moment, and that randomness is what makes Short Story Dispensers so cool, says Joseph Salem, associate dean for learning in the university libraries: You just don’t know what you’re going to get when you press whatever button you press.

The dispensers are the brainchild of Grenoble, France-based Short Edition, whose founder reportedly got the idea while standing in front of a traditional vending machine.

Penn State and Schlow Library in State College are the first educational and public libraries, respectively, to offer the dispensers, says Salem, who worked closely on the project with Jill Shockey ’95, marketing and public relations manager for the University Libraries. They’ve been in talks with Short Edition since last fall and arranged for five dispensers to be set up on the University Park campus on May 8. These generate content, which has been translated into English, from the main Short Edition story bank in France.

Now, the libraries are working with Short Edition to create an independent Penn State story bank, to which any student and faculty member will be able to contribute. The stories will be uploaded onto a special website and will, eventually, be readable on mobile devices as well.

“We’re hoping to have stories that are locally relevant and we want to encourage everyone to submit stories,” Salem says. “The exciting part is that our content, once we’ve worked around copyright issues, will also feed into the main Short Edition story bank.”

He believes that the super-short format of the stories appeals to both readers and writers.

“It can be daunting to write a full story that’s so short, but it’s also doable,” he says. “And a lot of people these days don’t have time for concentrated reading over lunch time—we don’t have time to really engage with a novel, and it’s definitely easier to read a short story, engage with it and ponder it over lunch.”

More than 1,200 stories have been printed on campus and at Schlow since the dispensers were first set up, Salem says, and library staff report that people are actively sharing their printouts.

Savita Iyer, senior editor

May 25, 2017 at 11:21 am 1 comment

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