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Benjamin Franklin

What is Serving God? ‘Tis doing Good to Man.

I was walking around the Gateway Arts District in Hyattsville, Maryland mainly because I wanted to catch an opening reception. On my way to that event I took a photos of a few other nearby places. The next photo shows the Vigilante Coffee Company, a locally-owned coffee shop located in the heart of Hyattsville.

Gateway Arts District, Hyattsville, Maryland, November 6, 2016

The Pyramid Atlantic Art Center used to be located in Silver Spring (you can read posts about its former location I wrote in 2014 and 2015) but it has recently relocated to Hyattsville. The next photo shows the new location.

Gateway Arts District, Hyattsville, Maryland, November 6, 2016

The Three Little Birds Sewing Company is a recently opened store in Hyattsville.

Gateway Arts District, Hyattsville, Maryland, November 6, 2016

Gateway Arts District, Hyattsville, Maryland, November 6, 2016

The rest of the photos are of the event I attended. Tanglewood Works, which is based in nearby Edmonston, had just opened its temporary pop-up shop on Route 1 in Hyattsville. I went to the opening reception, which is full of fun decorative items that are all made from recycled materials.

Gateway Arts District, Hyattsville, Maryland, November 6, 2016

Gateway Arts District, Hyattsville, Maryland, November 6, 2016

Gateway Arts District, Hyattsville, Maryland, November 6, 2016

Gateway Arts District, Hyattsville, Maryland, November 6, 2016

Gateway Arts District, Hyattsville, Maryland, November 6, 2016

Gateway Arts District, Hyattsville, Maryland, November 6, 2016

Gateway Arts District, Hyattsville, Maryland, November 6, 2016

Gateway Arts District, Hyattsville, Maryland, November 6, 2016

One of my friends from my Unitarian Universalist congregation asked me to do a favor for her. Basically she wanted to sell her fused glass jewelry at the annual church auction but she was going to be out of town for the weekend but she still wanted someone to sell her jewelry on her behalf. (Especially since 50% of the proceeds would go to the church.) So I agreed to do it. I took a few photos of my set up at the church auction.

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The next picture shows some of the fused glass jewelry that was on sale that evening. (The flaming chalice that’s in some of the jewelry in the next photo is a symbol of the Unitarian Universalist faith.)

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The last photo shows samples of my banana bread that I baked for this auction. (I put two loaves up for auction while I made a third loaf to give away as free samples.)

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If you like the fused glass in these pictures, check out my friend’s business, Profusions of Glass.

Not too long ago I went to Starbucks where I ordered the Peppermint Hot Chocolate (which is only available this time of the year). I had it served in this coffee cup that, for some reason, has created controversy and led to this media uproar that you can read about herehere, and here.

The whole uproar is totally asinine. If your personal religious faith is so weak that you’re willing to let the design of a stupid coffee cup that’s served by a corporate chain affect the way you will celebrate the upcoming winter holidays then both you and your personal religious faith are totally pathetic. This is what the “shockingly controversial” Starbucks coffee cup currently looks like.

When you first get your cup, it’s served with the usual cardboard sleeve that has the Starbucks logo.

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Remove the sleeve and you’ll see this really nice line drawing showing all kinds of people who are gathered together.

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This crowd of line-drawn people spill out over the sides of the coffee cup.

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Here’s the back of the coffee cup that have the notations where the barista marks the order.

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Here’s another side view of the coffee cup showing the same large crowd of line-drawn people.

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The door of the Starbucks shop features the same line drawing that’s on the coffee cup along with the message “Be good to each other.” How on earth could something like this be so controversial?!? This is insane!

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I know there has been this long romance with going to New England to see the fall leaves. I’ve been to that region a couple of times myself during autumn and I have to admit that the leaves there do provide plenty of picture taking opportunity, such as the last time I was in that region during autumn back in late 2010.

But, truth be told, the fall foliage in the Baltimore-Washington, DC area is pretty impressive and I can enjoy it without having to deal with the hassle of traveling to New England (especially since getting a hotel there during fall foliage season can be a challenge since many rooms are booked solid). Here are a few recent photos I took of the fall leaves.

Fall Leaves

Fall Leaves

Fall Leaves

Fall Leaves

Fall Leaves

Yesterday I did my latest screencast. This one is a review of Emmanuelle Dirix’s book called Dressing the Decades: Twentieth-Century Vintage Style. This one is a fun fashion history book on the various fashion styles of the 20th century that’s full of pictures. I personally liked this and I basically recommend this to anyone who’s into fashion or history or both.

Things have been getting pretty weird since Donald Trump was declared the President-Elect over two weeks after the elections. He has been making appointments to the Trump Administration. Among them is a man named Stephen Bannon, who has been accused of anti-Semitism and has actively promoted racists and anti-Semites. I’m still reading about hate crimes taking place all over the U.S. but I haven’t seen anything happening in my own neighborhood—yet.

The most election-related outrageous thing I saw in my area occurred on Thanksgiving Day. I was on my way to my cousin’s home when I saw a pickup truck driving along the highway while displaying a giant blue flag that said in white letters “TRUMP MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN.” I only saw that truck for a brief minute or so because I was stopped at a traffic light. Seeing that giant flag was really no big deal.

Meanwhile a video has surfaced showing Richard Spencer, who runs the National Policy Institute, a white supremacist organization, giving the “Hail, Trump!” salute.

That video was shot at a conference in Washington, DC that was recently held at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. What’s more, one of the conference banquets was held at Maggiano’s Little Italy, which subsequently issued an apology for hosting it. That banquet even drew a celebrity—Tila Tequila, who originally became a big deal on MySpace (back when MySpace was the biggest social media platform on the Internet) because she posted scantily clad photos of herself and later hosted a reality show on MTV for a couple of seasons. Since those days of fame she has developed a fascination with Adolf Hitler while dubbing herself as “Hitila.” The onetime “Queen of MySpace” appeared at that reception while making pro-Hitler posts on social media and she even posted a photo of herself giving the Nazi salute with two white men doing the same. Tila Tequila was suspended from Twitter for making those posts. Of course, she’s a Donald Trump supporter.

It’s kind of weird to see Tila Tequila being pro-Nazi for a few reasons. First of all, she’s not even white. She’s of Asian descent. While it’s true that Germany did ally itself with an Asian nation during World War II, that nation was Japan and Tila was born in Singapore to Vietnamese refugees. As for her family’s country of origin, Vietnam was occupied by Japan during World War II. That’s right Tila Tequila sympathizes with Adolf Hitler, the head of a nation whose big Asian ally had invaded and occupied her family’s country of origin during World War II. And I don’t recall Adolf Hitler ever publicly criticizing Japan for its invasion and occupation of Vietnam and other Asian nations.

On top of it, Tila Tequila has come out as bisexual while it’s well known that the Nazis persecuted LGBTQ people just as much as they persecuted Jews. In fact, the main reason why many LGBTQ activists wear pink triangles on t-shirts and buttons is because they had to sport them on clothes when they were sent to concentration camps. For an out bisexual to side with the same kind of people who would’ve preferred to see her dead is just totally bizarre.

What’s even weirder is what she said about being an Asian-American at a white supremacist banquet.

“And I think that’s why I’m also invited here because I bring a little bit more diversity to the movement.”

Diversity at a white supremacist event?!? WTF?!?

The cynic in me thinks that the real reason why she was invited to a white supremacist conference and was allowed to give the Nazi salute next to white men doing the same is because some of these white supremacist men have twisted fantasies of having her as their sex slave while they do anything to her they want. (After all, a number of Vietnamese women were forced to serve as so-called “comfort women” during World War II.) As a result, they are willing to tolerate having her around simply because she’s a petite woman with a cute face and breast implants who is willing to pose in sexy clothes and who has even made at least one porn movie. A less-sexy, less-attractive Asian-American woman would’ve either been driven away from that white supremacist conference or she would’ve been subjected to all kinds of physical and verbal abuse.

Living outside of Washington, DC, I’m getting a bird’s eye view of all the fuckery that’s going on in the wake of Donald Trump being declared as the President-Elect. The only thing I can say is that, so far, things seem relatively calm where I live. I’m just busy preparing for the upcoming winter holidays while looking into some potential job retraining programs. It’s stressful enough that I have to worry about finances and finding my next steady paycheck without having the added burden of the recent elections and what could possibly happen to my own country over the next few months.

2016 has turned into a totally sucky year with so many beloved celebrities dying like David Bowie and Prince. You can now add Florence Henderson to the list. Her death was just announced this morning on Black Friday. Here’s a video showing her in her best-known role as the matriarch of The Brady Bunch.

But there was more to Florence Henderson than her alter ego Carol Brady. She appeared on Dancing With the Stars and she proved herself as a pretty decent dancer. Here she is doing one of her dance routines with her partner Corky Ballas.

She has also done a number of ads on TV as well starting in the late 1950’s.

Benjamin Franklin

Write Injuries in Dust, Benefits in Marble.

Once again it’s Black Friday, that time of the year where people will literally kill themselves over a sale. In fact, there’s even a website called Black Friday Death Count that tracks people whose lives were cut short in pursuit of that bargain. Yeah, I would write a periodic rant against the insanity of waking up super early in the morning, getting in a line outside of a big box retailer an hour or more before the store opens, then fighting your way through the crowds so you can get your hands on a super-cheap TV set, computer, electronic toy, linens, or even kitchen items. I wrote similar anti-Black Friday rants in 2010, 2012 (not once but twice), and 2013. Sometimes I would even embed videos of riots that broke out in the stores from crazed consumers. (I’m currently reading Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy—which I bought for a total of $5 at a used book sale—and I wouldn’t be surprised if Collins had gotten one of the inspirations for her books from the annual Black Friday ritual of trampling each other to death over a cheap DVD player.)

But this year I’m going to write about my own experience with getting that bargain electronic item on Black Friday. In 2014 I decided to get a convection oven for myself since my big oven stopped working and I couldn’t afford to get it repaired. Additionally I’m only cooking for myself these days so I really don’t need to use a large oven as often as I used to. A friend of mine said that Target was having a Black Friday sale on convection ovens. I decided to wait until two days later (Sunday) before I went to Target. I found an Oster convection oven on sale for $30. I bought it and even blogged about it (while including photos of various Christmas items I found on sale at that same store). I felt smug that I still got a Black Friday bargain without waking up early in the morning and fighting hordes of shoppers.

I used my convection oven on a regular basis for the next 11 months until October, 2015, when my oven stopped working altogether. I was miffed that the oven didn’t even make it to the first anniversary of the day that I bought it for $30. It was then that I discovered this fact: that many big name manufacturers like Oster will make derivative products especially for Black Friday where they cut corners while making the item just so these products can be sold under the same brand for a cheaper price. So I got suckered into buying that convection oven based on the Oster name and the cheap $30 price only to find out that it wasn’t such a bargain in the long run since that oven stopped working.

That incident prompted me to write last year’s rant on Why Black Friday Sucks.

Just a few days before Halloween, 2015, I purchased a Black and Decker convection oven from Best Buy for $80. It was the regular price and there were no sales the day I purchased it. It was priced more than the previous oven but I’m happy to report that I have had that oven for a little over a year now and it still works. I’m very happy with it and I hope that it’ll continue to work for me for a long time.

I’ve learned my lesson on buying anything electronic on Black Friday. I will never again buy anything electronic on Black Friday or soon afterwards. If I need to purchase anything electronic in the future, I will purchase it either before Thanksgiving or I will wait until late January before I make such a purchase. That way I can ensure that I’m buying something that’s high quality and will last me a long time.

So before you consider going out to a store that opened yesterday on Thanksgiving Day at 5 p.m. (which is what Best Buy, Macy’s, Toys R Us, and Bon Ton did) in pursuit of a bargain, please re-read what I’ve just wrote and ponder the strong chance that whatever you buy cheaply today will probably stop working or literally fall apart in less than a year. Ask yourself if you would be willing to go through the hassle of buying this item only to have to replace it in less than a year. Then stay home and wait until late January at the earliest to buy that item because you’re far more likely to get something that will literally last longer than one year.

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