I wrote in a recent post about how my ex-husband started collecting comic books (mainly Marvel Comics titles like The X-Men and its various spin-offs) when he was an undergrad at Oberlin College. He and I continued reading comic books together during the first few years of our marriage until a few things happened. First real life (such as jobs) intervened. Then Marvel kept on churning out more X-Men related spin-off titles, limited series, and guest appearances in other series (such as Spider-Man) to the point where we were taking home at least 15-20 different issues each month in order to keep abreast on what was going on in the world of mutant superheroes. What really killed our enthusiasm for comic books was when Marvel, DC, and other comic book publishers began to raise prices and we really grew tired of paying $1.25 per comic book when we were buying 15-20 issues just so we could keep up with The X-Men and their friends/allies/compatriots. So we pretty much stopped.

Reading comic books had become more complex than when I was a child. If I was interested in reading only Captain America or The Fantastic Four, I could pick up a single issue and read a full story without having to bug my mom about buying a spin-off or crossover title so I could get a full story spread out over two or more comic books.

Likewise, if I wanted to read Spider-Man, I could convince my mom to buy only one title and it would be the only comic book documenting the adventures of Spider-Man. Here is how much the comic book industry has changed. Earlier this month I made a visit to Third Eye Comics in Annapolis for the heck of it. While I was browsing through the store’s inventory, this particular rack caught my eye and I took a picture of it.

Numerous Spider-Man Titles at a Comic Book Store

It was a rack of Spider-Man comic books, except there wasn’t just one Spider-Man series. There was The Amazing Spider-Man. There was another comic book series called Spider-Verse. And another comic book series called Spider-Gwen which, judging from the covers, looks like it’s about a female equivalent of Spider-Man. And another comic book series called Silk, which features another female superhero who can shoot webs from her hands just like the original Spider-Man. If I wanted to read Spider-Man for old-time’s sake, I wouldn’t even know where to begin or which comic book series to pick up. I can’t imagine being a child and having to make such a choice.

It seems like people who are new to comic books and/or those who haven’t read one in years aren’t able to simply jump in, buy one issue, and read it because many of the long-running series tend to have storylines spread out over several issues and they can even overlap into other comic book series. There’s a risk that one may end up with an issue that’s in the middle of a long storyline and newbies have a more difficult time figuring out what the heck is going on. Sure it’s easy for longtime comic book fans who have been following all of these convoluted storylines for years but it’s far more difficult and intimidating for newbies and more casual readers.

On top of it, comic books now cost $3.99 per issue. Had I decided to buy one issue from each of the Spider-Man related comic book series just so I could reacquaint myself with that superhero, I would’ve spent at least $16. That’s pretty steep for something that I would take, at most, a day or two to read them all. Especially since I can remember a time when comic books cost 25 cents per issue.

The only positive thing about the steep comic book prices is that they are now printed on better quality paper than the newsprint comic books from my childhood. The newer paper makes the colors pop out very brightly and the type is very crisp and easy to read. But $3.99 is still a steep price to pay for a single issue that I could read in one hour or less.

I ended up passing on reacquainting myself with Spider-Man because it was just too confusing and expensive.

Benjamin Franklin

Sloth and silence are a fool’s virtues.

I skipped the last couple of Throwback Thursdays because I was busy working on my taxes and preparing for the Greenbelt Mini-Maker Faire, both of which happened within three days of each other. Now that both events are over, I have a little bit of breathing room in my schedule so I can concentrate on other things. :-)

Here is the twenty-ninth video in a series of computer animations called The Unicorn With An Attitude that I did back in the 1990’s in an ill-fated attempt to show off my abilities as an artist and a computer whiz in the hopes of either 1) get famous or 2) get a higher paying job than the office administrative work that I was frequently offered.

I created this animation way back in 1999 and I actually uploaded it on various BBS as well as CompuServe. I originally created it as a QuickTime movie using various software for an Apple Macintosh. I have totally remastered it in high definition video using Apple iMovie. As for the music, I used one of YouTube’s royalty-free songs.

As the original writeup for this animation puts it:

A parody of the controversy that surrounded the popular British children’s show Teletubbies in the United States. It’s sort of a follow-up to “The Wonderful World of Children’s Television.”

At the time I created this animation, Teletubbies had just started airing in the United States. There were stories about how in the United Kingdom, where this show was made, young adults who returned home from all-night raves would watch that show in the morning to help them come down from partying. A totally ludicrous controversy came up when televangelist Jerry Falwell claimed that the show, which was aimed at preschoolers, promoted homosexuality simply because one of the male characters, Tinky Winky, carried a purse with him sometimes. On top of it, Tinky Winky had a purple antenna on his head that was shaped like a triangle which, according to Falwell, further proves Tinky Winky’s gay sexual orientation. (Never mind the fact that a pink triangle is typically used to denote gay and Tinky Winky’s triangle-shaped antenna was purple.) It’s just as well that Jerry Falwell is deceased now because he would totally freak out over the increasing acceptance of homosexuality in American society and same-sex marriage become legal in more and more states.

So, without further ado, here is “The Many Different Ways to Interpret a Television Show.

Last summer I wrote a post about my day-long travel through my old stomping grounds in both Baltimore and Glen Burnie. During that trip I was driving along Route 2 (Ritchie Highway) from Baltimore into neighboring Brooklyn when I saw two people walking along that highway who literally caught my eye. One was an overweight person with long blonde hair wearing a midriff and short shorts. The other was a thinner person with long curly hair wearing a cowboy hat and a western-style shirt. I saw them just before I decided to check out the Roses store. I decided to try getting a picture of them but, by the time I pulled into the store’s parking lot, the pair had walked so fast that they were gone and I didn’t feel like running down the street in the hopes of catching up with them.

A day or so later after my trip, I was looking through YouTube for any videos about Glen Burnie (the town where I lived from ages 5-19 and, again, from the time I graduated from college at 22 until my wedding just 10 months later when I was 23) when I realized that the person with the long blonde curly hair and the cowboy hat was none other than Dale Crites, also known as Britney Girl Dale., a local celebrity who once tried out for the TV show America’s Got Talent.

I recently came across this short documentary about Britney Girl Dale and it even includes footage of her sidekick, Anthony, whom I recognize as the person who accompanied Britney Girl Dale on the day I drove past them. It’s only 20 minutes long but it’s a pretty fascinating piece about Britney Girl Dale and the Brooklyn/Glen Burnie area where she does her dance moves along Route 2/Ritchie Highway.

Since today is Earth Day, this post is especially appropriate for the occasion. Recently I took a few miscellaneous spring photos around my area. The first two photos are of this cherry blossom tree, one of many such trees that were then in bloom in the Washington, DC area.

Flowering Tree

Flowering Tree

This last photo shows an unusual marriage proposal that was spray painted on the side of a truck. I don’t know the story behind this or if the person to whom this proposal was aimed at even accepted. But it’s still a pretty off-beat way of declaring that one is ready for marriage.

An Unusual Marriage Proposal

I shot this video of the Chalice Dancers doing a silent dance to a spoken word performance of T.S. Elliot’s poem “At the Still Point” during the 10th annual dance service at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church in Adelphi, Maryland on March 29, 2015.

At long last here’s a post that I’ve been working on for two months, which documents the closing of a local Kmart.

I’m not surprised that the Kmart that was located in Greenbelt, Maryland at the Cipriano Square shopping center (across the street from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center) has just closed its doors for good recently—one of hundreds of stores that were doomed to go out of business throughout the United States. Both Kmart and its parent company Sears have been suffering financially for a number of years. The main problem is that both companies are presided over by a CEO named Eddie Lampert who has been applying principles he derived from reading Ayn Rand novels to running his business enterprise with disastrous results. Here’s a quote from this article.

Plagued by the realities threatening many retail stores, Sears also faces a unique problem: Lampert. Many of its troubles can be traced to an organizational model the chairman implemented five years ago, an idea he has said will save the company. Lampert runs Sears like a hedge fund portfolio, with dozens of autonomous businesses competing for his attention and money. An outspoken advocate of free-market economics and fan of the novelist Ayn Rand, he created the model because he expected the invisible hand of the market to drive better results. If the company’s leaders were told to act selfishly, he argued, they would run their divisions in a rational manner, boosting overall performance.

Instead, the divisions turned against each other—and Sears and Kmart, the overarching brands, suffered. Interviews with more than 40 former executives, many of whom sat at the highest levels of the company, paint a picture of a business that’s ravaged by infighting as its divisions battle over fewer resources. (Many declined to go on the record for a variety of reasons, including fear of angering Lampert.) Shaunak Dave, a former executive who left in 2012 and is now at sports marketing agency Revolution, says the model created a “warring tribes” culture. “If you were in a different business unit, we were in two competing companies,” he says. “Cooperation and collaboration aren’t there.”

All of which proves that Ayn Rand is a poor role model when it comes to applying her principles that she espoused in her novels to real life. This worship of Ayn Rand is a reason why Eddie Lampert has shown up on a number of “Worst CEOs” lists like this one.

It sucks that things are going bad for both Sears and Kmart since both stores have been around since my childhood. I still have memories of the times my mother took me to Sears to buy clothes for me. I remember my father had a few Craftsman tools that he would use for things like yard work.

And then there’s the other store that began with the letter K. When I was growing up, there was a Kresge’s at the local Harundale Mall in Glen Burnie, Maryland (which is notable in the Wikipedia for being the enclosed shopping mall to open on the East Coast). Kresge’s was an independently-owned five and dime store and it was located just a few feet away from another five and dime—Murphy’s. I can remember the times I purchased cheap toys with my allowance money from both stores and the years when my mother would buy me one of those cheap plastic Ben Cooper Halloween costumes that were sold in both stores instead of sewing me one with her sewing machine.

Murphy’s eventually went out of business while Kresge’s started to open larger stores and, in the process, changed its name to Kmart. When I first moved to the area where I live now, there was a Bradlees that was the main anchor of Cipriano Square. Bradlees was a big box discount store that had nice things for pretty decent prices and I used to shop for clothes there a lot. A few years later Bradlees closed down and it was replaced by Jamesway, another large discount store that also had nice things at pretty decent prices. Jamesway closed down after a couple of years and Kmart moved in its place, where it had stayed until recently.

I bought a lot of things from Kmart over the years. I’ll admit that the checkout lines were always crowded mainly because the store always put too few employees at the cash registers (mainly to save money) so I always had to wait in line for at least 15 minutes. No matter what time of the day, there were always more buyers than cashiers. Yet Kmart had some nice things (especially in women’s clothes—I bought a lot of professional looking clothes for the office jobs I worked at) so I still shopped there despite the crappy service. I learned early on that Kmart was not the store to shop in if you had limited time and you needed to be somewhere else by a certain exact time. Basically if I needed to buy something, I went to Kmart on days when I had nothing else that I had to do so I could endure the very slow checkout lines.

Even Kmart’s purchase by Sears didn’t improve the checkout lines very much although it was convenient that I could get Kenmore and Craftsman products at a store that was located closer to my home than the nearest Sears.

Basically shopping at Kmart was something that was endured but the hassle turned out to be worthwhile in the long run because I obtained useful stuff, some of which I still use (such as a Martha Stewart laundry basket that I bought years ago and it’s still in very good shape).

When I learned via one of the Facebook groups that I belonged to about Kmart’s imminent demise in my area, I knew that I needed to take advantage of the going out of business sale because there were a few items that I needed to buy and it was an opportunity to get them at even lower prices than before. I also decided to take pictures to document the store’s decline. I made a few trips to that store before it finally closed for good this month. Here is what I saw during those trips.

February 13, 2015

It was very fitting that I made my first trip to Kmart after I heard the news on a Friday the 13th. The outside of the store didn’t give any indication that it was closing down soon.

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But once I entered I saw the signs announcing a massive sale where everything in the store was between 10-30% off the regular price. The signs said “Huge Inventory Blowout!,” which would lead one to believe that Kmart was just having the usual end-of-season clearance sale in order to make way for new inventory for the spring and summer months. If I hadn’t seen that Facebook message that someone in one of my groups posted online, I would’ve made a similar conclusion as well.

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Since Valentine’s Day was the next day, it was natural to see a rack full of Valentine cards near the store entrance.

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There were all kinds of merchandise that had the discount prices on them.

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Even though the going out of business sale was in its early days, some of the shelves were already starting to become empty.

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And the Refreshments area near the cash registers had already closed down for good.

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There were some merchandise that were haphazardly thrown into bins. Some of the stuff looked like leftover Halloween costumes while others looked like leftover Christmas decorations. I wasn’t about to go through those bins to get a closer look because they looked so messy that they seemed intimidating to me.

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I found a My Little Pony Equestria Girls Rainbow Rocks doll set that’s a Kmart exclusive.

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Among the normal items on sale, there were a bunch of things that I thought were pretty odd. There is this toy shaped like a Kenmore vacuum cleaner that’s supposed to teach little girls the joys of doing vacuuming while subtly instilling brand loyalty to Kenmore products at an early age. (If my parents had given me a toy like that when I was a kid, I would’ve thrown a fit. I was into dolls, stuffed animals, and craft kits. Anything that resembled household appliances were considered boring to me.) It’s pretty ironic since Kenmore was originally created as a Sears store brand and I’ve read that Sears is among the list of companies most likely to go out of business permanently in 2015. Unless Sears sells its Kenmore line to someone else, any little girl getting a My First Kenmore Vacuum Cleaner would consider this one as My Last Kenmore Vacuum Cleaner.

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This kid’s t-shirt had me going WTF?!? at seeing Ariel from The Little Mermaid wearing glasses. I hate to say it but glasses are totally not practical for mermaids or any other creature who spends the majority of time underwater.

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Then there is this really bizarre game that’s being marketed for girls called Freaky Becky. Judging from the box, it looks like each girl player has to do something with the enclosed zombie doll known as Freaky Becky and that zombie parts will frequently fly all over the place as part of the fun. I can imagine parents getting exasperated over having zombie doll parts fly everywhere and maybe even get lost in between the sofa cushions or on a rug where someone steps on it later.

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There are similar games made by the same company for boys as well: Johnny the Skull and Zed the Zombie.

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There were a few strange items for adults as well. Remember the Snuggie? Well Kmart was selling sleeved blankets where one can choose from Minnie Mouse or Elvis Presley.

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I needed to buy a few new items but it wasn’t until after I arrived in the store that I realized that I didn’t have as much money on me as I thought so I bought fewer items than I wanted. Since the sales only ranged between 10-30%, I decided to focus on buying only those items that I really needed to buy (as opposed to items I’d like to buy but I really don’t need). I bought one Playtex bra to replace at least one of the old bras that I’ve owned for years that have been getting increasingly ratty and stretched out. I also saw this exercise DVD that was originally marked at $10 but the price was lowered to $8 called Lesley Samsone Walk Away the Pounds. Lately I’ve been making an effort to walk a minimum of one mile a day, six days a week and I’ve been wearing a pedometer to make sure that I make at least the minimum goal. Some nights I’m short of my minimum goal so I’ve been taking short night walks around my neighborhood in order to push my pedometer beyond the 1 mile mark. The DVD comes in handy for those nights when I can’t go outside because it’s raining or snowing.

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February 14, 2015

I’ll admit that I was annoyed with myself for coming to Kmart’s going out of business sale with not enough cash the day before. There were some items that I absolutely needed to replace (because they were literally falling apart) and I figured that it was a  rare opportunity to replace these items at a discount.

I’ve been to enough of these going out of business sales over the years to know that they tend to be multiple phase plans. During the early phase, the discounts tend to go no lower than 30% with many items only being offered for 10% off the retail price. But it’s also during that phase when you’re more likely to get the items that you want. By the time steeper discounts are offered, chances are that many items you want will have already been sold and much of the merchandise left are literally the dregs.

So I decided to take an organized approach to Kmart’s going out of business sale. During the initial 10-30% off phase, I decided to focus only on the items I really needed to buy while putting off other items that I would like to have but I really don’t need immediately for later in the going out of business sale process.

Since I stupidly didn’t bring enough money the day before, I decided to go back on the following day, even though it was Valentine’s Day. I didn’t mind shopping on Valentine’s Day because it’s not like I have a significant other to spend the day with or anything like that. I got a chance to take photos of a few more items that are a bit on the kitsch side, such as these pillows based on Star Wars and Frozen.

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I browsed a bit around the beauty aisles where I found this cologne that’s marked with the 007 logo from the James Bond movies.

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It’s been a long time since I last bought myself a bottle of perfume or cologne. There seems to be an excess in perfume/cologne with a celebrity’s name attached to it, such as Rihanna, Lady Gaga, and Katy Perry. I just don’t remember ever seeing such products named after celebrities like that. I just remember names like Chanel No. 5 and Jean Naté, which weren’t named after celebrities who are currently fixtures in the tabloid media.

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Paris Hilton has a whole section dedicated to different brands of her perfume/cologne. Talk about a total inventory glut!

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Here are some bath-related products for 20% off.

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There was a large cardboard bin that had just books that were 80% off the retail price. I looked in the bin but I didn’t find a book that interested me enough to buy one. It’s too bad because it was about the only place that had the steepest discount.

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There was a large pile of Easy Bake Ovens that were placed right in the middle of an aisle.

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There was a section of brightly decorated bras from Joe Boxer. While I loved the designs on the bras, I felt that they were impractical because the designs would ultimately be covered with a shirt. If the shirt was on the sheer side, there’s a chance that the bra’s designs would show through, which would be okay if a woman was at a party or something like that but would be embarrassing if she was working in an office.

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Between the fact that it was Valentine’s Day (with people doing their last minute holiday shopping) and it was a going out of business sale, there were plenty of people in the checkout lane. I saw people literally fill their shopping carts with merchandise. It took me a while to actually check out with my items.

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Here’s what I bought that day. I purchased another bra to replace one of my older bras that have gotten ratty and is literally falling apart. My new bra is a pretty light pink color, which I like.

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I purchased a can opener mainly because the last can opener I owned had a blade that was getting increasingly dull and I had a harder time opening metal cans. This new can opener works really well and I can open cans much faster than before.

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Here’s the back of the package, which has the name of Kmart’s store brand (Essential Home). The can opener was really easy to remove from the package.

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Here’s a close up of the back package, which features the Kmart logo.

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I purchased two bath mats mainly because one of my current bath mats was really falling to pieces (I ended up throwing that one away after buying my new mats) and the other one is just starting to fall apart. These new bath mats have worked out really well for me.

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This last item was an impulse buy. It’s a liquid soap dispenser that’s shaped like the Eiffel Tower. I thought it looked really nice and it was on sale for only $12. I got rid of a soap dispenser last year after it broke apart and I bought a new one at Target soon afterwards. With this new soap dispenser, I now have a total of three dispensers. This Eiffel Tower looks really nice in my bathroom.

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February 17, 2015

Three days after my Valentine’s Day shopping trip, I made yet another shopping trip to Kmart. By that time the store had finally decided to put up an outside banner along with several signs in the windows and in the entrance foyer admitting that, yes, it really is going out of business.

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There were all kinds of items with discount signs.

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They were even selling this necklace and earring set with one of the stones missing from the necklace.

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Then there was a whole row of Grumpy Cats.

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There was the same large stack of Easy Bake Ovens that I saw just a few days ago, except the pile had gotten smaller.

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There were sales everywhere.

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The checkout lines were very busy with shoppers taking advantage of the sale.

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The photo below shows my haul from that trip.

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I bought another Playtex bra, this one in a tan color. I also bought a pack of Hanes underwear because I recently had to throw away a couple of panties because they had developed large holes (I had them for a few years). It’s always useful to buy underwear in bulk even if you can’t currently use all of the new panties at once because you never know when you’ll need to throw away a pair of old panties that developed holes big enough to shove three fingers through them.

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The next photo shows my biggest ticket item I’ve purchased from Kmart to date. It’s a Blue Line stereo that has built-in speakers, AM/FM radio, a CD player, an alarm clock, and an outlet to plug in a laptop, tablet, smartphone, or MP3 player so one can listen to digital music in stereo. The price was originally listed at $69.99 but I got it for $50. I had wanted to purchase a smaller stereo that I could fit on a tabletop ever since I got rid of that huge stereo that was taking up a massive amount of space in my living room but I wasn’t able to do so until recently because money was very tight. So far it works really well and it has a great sound.

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My cash receipt included this notice expressing regret that they had to close the Kmart in my area but I could call or go online to Kmart.com to find other Kmart stores. It also included this incredibly dumb-sounding slogan: “We’re Open. You’re Saving!” Whatever.

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March 18, 2015

I grew tired of going back to Kmart for the last three shopping trips so I decided to take some time off from going there, figuring that the prices would eventually go even lower the closer the actual going out of business date arrives. I ended up waiting a whole month before I went back. By the time I made my return trip, I noticed that there were more empty areas inside of the store.

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By that point the discounts had increased to as much as 40% off. I was intrigued by these MiP robots when I first started seeing them in other stores last year but I didn’t go for one because of the $99 price tag for a small robot. These MiP robots were now 40% off but I decided to wait a bit longer to see if they go any lower.

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There was a shelf full of piñatas, which is great for parents of more than two kids because they could stock up on them for future birthday parties.

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With more items being sold out, it seems like there are a greater number of merchandise that I would consider odd, strange, or off-beat like these weird fish-like stuffed animals.

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Then there is the sleeved blanket for kids featuring Olaf the Snowman from the Disney movie Frozen.

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For the adult collector who is really into clocks, there were various anniversary clocks on sale featuring I Love Lucy, Elvis Presley, The Wizard of Oz, and Marilyn Monroe.

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For your next party or family get-together, how about playing a game where you do nothing but guess which logo belongs to which corporation. Sounds fun, no?

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Then there are these creepy looking Lalaloopey Babies, which look like they could’ve been the offsprings of the Other Mother and the Other Father from the movie Coraline.

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Then there is this Ketchup Kritter where you replace the cap of your ketchup bottle with this demon head and you get to see him vomit ketchup over your hamburger or french fries.

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As to the weirdest item I found at Kmart during that time, I have to say that it’s a tossup between the Ketchup Kritter and this resin deer statue that functions as a toilet paper holder. That deer is a great example of how sometimes the jokes just write themselves.

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I didn’t buy anything on this trip because I had already purchased everything that I needed to buy and I want to see the prices to go down just a little bit lower before I buy anything else.

March 26, 2015

A few days earlier I woke up with a scratchy throat that quickly segued into all of my sinuses being stuffed up and feeling tired all of the time. Yes, I came down with a cold. After staying completely indoors the previous day, I still felt so tired that I took an afternoon nap. After dinner I decided to skip my weekly support group meeting for people who are separated or divorced and just do a short outing. I ended up going back to Kmart to see the progress on its going out of business sale.

The first thing I noticed was the section near the front door. In better days Kmart used to display outdoor items for sale depending on the season (such as artificial Christmas trees or gardening supplies). That area always used to be well stocked with items that people could pick up before even entering the store. On this day the only things I saw on sale were bags of potting soil.

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I managed to show up to the store after dinner. I discovered that these days this Kmart tends to close by 8 p.m., which is way earlier than normal. (In contrast, the Kmart in Hyattsville, which is not currently slated for going out of business, closes at 11 p.m. every night.) By this point more items were priced at least 30% off with many of them starting to be marked with the 50% off sale.

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I also saw quite a few odd items. First there are these oversized neon-colored alarm clocks that were a bit on the gaudy side.

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Until I made this trip to Kmart, I never knew that one could have the option of buying a hybrid lava lamp/table lamp.

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I also never associated Kmart with beer making kits.

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There were shelves full of Valentine’s Day cards for anyone who wanted to get a head start on preparing for Valentine’s Day, 2016.

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There was this women’s shirt that was a midriff-baring tank top that had a scientific drawing of a T-Rex. Okay, whatever.

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There was a clothing line with Selena Gomez’s name on it, although I’m more familiar with her name through the various celebrity gossip sites than with her clothing line.

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There’s one of those giant musical step-on keyboards (such as the one that was featured in the Tom Hanks movie Big) that has the logo of Rolling Stone magazine on it.

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Then there were a display of these giant action figures based on Star Wars and the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers that were at least 2 feet tall.

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There were sections of the store that had rows upon rows of empty shelves. There were some areas where the shelves had already been dismantled.

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I only bought two items during this Kmart trip. One was a box of acid reducer over-the-counter medicine. With the Easter holiday coming up and with the stress over filing my income taxes, I really want to prevent any kind of acid reflux as a result of eating foods that I normally don’t eat or stress. I got 50% off the listed price, which was nice.

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And then I purchased this doll for 50% off. She is an Ever After High doll, a line of Mattel dolls that are similar to the Monster High dolls except that all of the students who attend Ever After High are children of famous fairy tale characters. I purchased Madeline Hatter, who’s the daughter of the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland.

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She carries a teapot-shaped purse.

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She wears a teacup-shaped hat, which is incredibly cute.

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The front of her hat has some gold designs that one would find on a fancy teacup. She wears earrings shaped like spoons and she has long curly hair that’s primarily purple with light blue streaks.

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Even the heels of her shoes suggest a teapot handle.

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All in all it’s an incredibly cute doll and I’m fortunate that I got her for around $11.

March 27, 2015

I came back to Kmart the next day because I made the same mistake as a month earlier: I didn’t arrive with enough money so I had to curtail what I wanted to buy. This day I made sure I had more than enough money before I arrived in the store. I still took more pictures because it looked like the store was rapidly clearing out with each passing day.

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Many of the items were now sporting 50% off discounts, such as this line of 18-inch What a Doll!, which looked like it was Kmart’s answer to the ever popular American Girl line.

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I saw these cloth Mooshka dolls on sale, which I thought were incredibly cute looking.

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For those who missed out on last year’s Holiday Barbie doll, there was a second chance to buy that doll and one could buy it at a steep discount.

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Going back even further, anyone who missed out on a chance to buy a special 30th anniversary Cabbage Patch Kids doll a few years ago also got a second chance to buy one at a major discount.

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There were still plenty of cometics to go around, such as this perfume endorsed by Britney Spears.

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I admit that there are two reasons why I had ever heard of One Direction in the first place: 1) I’ve seen various products bearing the band’s name such as the One Direction eye shadow in the next two photos and 2) I have a One Direction song on one of my Just Dance video games. (To be honest, I literally can’t recall the name of the song or what it sounded like. I could do a Google search but I’m too lazy to do so.) One Direction recently made major news when one of the members of that group, Zayn Malik, announced that he was leaving the band and it caused a lot of their teenaged fans to go into total hysterics.

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The idea behind the One Direction eye shadow is to choose the package based on your favorite One Direction member. I looked closely at the photos of the enclosed makeup and it looks like all of the eye shadows are identical. The only difference is which photo of the One Direction band member is featured on the box.

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There was perfume endorsed by the rock band KISS.

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First there were the Monster High dolls, now there’s Monster High cosmetics. This is strange when you consider that Monster High was originally aimed at elementary school aged girls and the Monster High makeup I saw is definitely inappropriate for young girls. My parents wouldn’t let me wear makeup of any kind until I was in middle school.

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A few weeks ago I found Ketchup Kritter, a device where you put a red devil head on a bottle of ketchup and watch him vomit ketchup on your food. On this trip I found his buddy, Mustard Monster, where you get to put him on a bottle of mustard and watch him vomit mustard on your food.

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Then there is this device where you can mold bacon strips into an edible bowl. It might work with some foods but I can’t imagine trying it with ice cream or cereal.

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There weren’t many books left on the shelves.

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Here’s a sample of the books that one can choose from.

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There’s nothing wrong with a dollhouse that one could assemble for a doll lover. It’s just that this dollhouse is designed to fit an 18-inch doll (instead of the usual 1/12 scale dolls that measures between 3-6 inches), which means that this dollhouse would take up a huge amount of space in anyone’s home.

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No, the next photo isn’t upside down. That was how I found these Homer Simpson slippers hanging on the racks. These slippers are totally bizarre for this reason: you generally put your foot inside of Homer’s mouth so it would look like Homer is either eating (or choking to death) on your foot.

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There were watches based on a band one of whose members has recently quit and a one-time teen idol who is now more famous for his frequent brushes with the law than for his music.

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I was glad that I purchased my underwear pack when I did because the lingerie department was full of slim pickings. There is no way in hell I would ever wear THIS on my crotch.

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And then there is this children’s loft bed with a sliding board. That poor kid would have a hard time deciding on whether it’s playtime or nap time.

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A flameless candle?!?

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Over in the school supplies section, there were Duck Dynasty folders available for students. Maybe I could see teenagers using this but I can’t imagine parents being willing to buy a folder for younger kids based on a TV show featuring a person who has gotten into controversy for making outrageous statements like this one featuring a hypothetical situation about an atheist family, rape, and decapitation.

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You can have your lips smell and taste like soda pop.

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I get the idea of something for a cold night like a matching mug and blanket set. But do you know how hard it would be to balance a mug full of hot liquid while keeping a warm blanket wrapped around you and hoping that you don’t spill the mug or the blanket falling off of you?

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There were cheap shelves for items that ranged from $1-3. But the merchandise in them were pretty messy and disorganized.

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And then there is this thing. It’s a hooded jacket but it has no sleeves. Or maybe it’s a vest but it has a hood and it looks awfully thick for a vest.

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That camouflage hooded sleeveless coat or vest looked tasteful compared to this shocking pink variation.

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I found this in the Plus Size Women’s department. This shirt was in at least a size 20 and it had thin horizontal stripes, which would make a 300 pound woman look like she is wider than normal and weighs at least 500 pounds.

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And then there is this line of Selena Gomez flannel checkered shirts. On the surface there’s nothing wrong with them until you look closer at the shoulders.

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Yes, those are studs at the shoulders.

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There were the same shirts in other colors and they all had the same pattern with shoulder studs.

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Okay, I’m not a fashion designer but I’ve done enough sewing to know that you don’t embellish anything that already has a pattern because the embellishments will either disappear among the pattern or make the pattern so busy that the outfit is ugly. If you’ve ever seen a gown or a cowboy shirt embellished with bling, you’d see that the designer typically uses a plain solid fabric as the base to embellish, not something that already has a busy pattern.

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That fox welcome sign is pretty cute. It’s too bad that you can see the large area of chipped paint one of the fox’s ears on the left side.

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I had considered buying myself a bag of socks until I found that all of the sock bags had been opened. Many of the bags also looked like one or more pairs of socks had been removed from each bag.

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I even saw a loose individual sock that was just hanging on a rack. Even though the bags of socks were at 50% off, there was no way I was going to buy an opened bag like that because I have a feeling that I wouldn’t get all of the socks that the bag label said I would get.

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On this trip I purchased two items. First is this box of Life cereal. Yeah, I know it sounds lame but I was running low on cereal and I saw a shelf full of Life cereal that was on sale for 30% off so I went for it.

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Then there is this other item that I had my eye on for quite some time. The MiP robot was originally priced at $99.99. This robot’s discount had finally sunk to 50% off and there weren’t a lot of MiP robots left on the shelves so I decided to buy it. The price was $50 and I got an extra $2 off because I was using my Kmart Shop Your Way Reward Card and I had received enough points to get that discount. Sweet!

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I chose the black robot. It looks pretty nice and very attractive and it definitely warrants its own entry that I may get around to writing at a later date. The box of Life cereal and the MiP robot turned out to be the last items I’ve ever purchased at Kmart’s Greenbelt, Maryland location.

April 1, 2015

Yes, I made a trip to Kmart on April Fool’s Day but the going out of business sale was no laughing matter.

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The bags of soil that were the only outdoor items that I saw for sale on a previous trip were sold out. Only the two soda machines remained.

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I checked both machines to see if I could purchase a soda like I used to do sometimes before entering Kmart in better days. I took a closer look and found that the LED lights weren’t working. I tried inserting a dollar in the bill slot in one of the machines and that machine just wasn’t working at all. It looked like someone had disconnected those two machines for good.

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Inside the store I saw a new sign saying that the going out of business sale was now in its final two weeks.

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There were even steeper discounts than before.

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However there were more empty areas than before as well. There were floor marks indicating where stock shelves used to be located.

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There were also areas of the store that were roped off with yellow police tape where collapsed shelves, signs, and various fixtures were stored.

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Plus there were rows upon rows of empty shelves.

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One part of the store looked like a portion of the drywall was stripped away. There were instructions spray-painted in this neon red paint color. There were other instructions that were written in ink. I have no idea if these instructions were written recently or if they were originally written when remodeling was originally done on the space when the former Bradlees turned into Jamesway then, again, the former Jamesway turned into Kmart.

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Despite the increase in empty areas, there were still plenty of items that were available for sale at steeper discounts than ever before. The items ranged from pretty nice (sadly the clothes that I personally liked didn’t fit me because they were in sizes that were either too big or too small for me) to totally bizarre.

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Even though Easter was just a few days away, there weren’t a lot of holiday items aside from these greeting cards.

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In fact, there were far more Christmas items than items for any other holiday (including Easter). At least it provided an opportunity for anyone wanting to get a head start on this coming Christmas in just over eight months while paying far less than they would’ve just four months ago.

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I didn’t buy anything on this trip. Like I wrote earlier, the clothes that I was interested in were either several sizes too big or too small for me. I began to have a feeling that the window of opportunity for me to buy the choice items at a discount has closed for me and I’m just seeing the dregs now.

April 5, 2015

Easter Sunday fell on April 5 this year and it was also Passover as well. After attending church, I decided to go to Kmart because I was curious about whether it would close on this holiday like many other area stores did. When I arrived, I got my answer as I saw plenty of cars parked outside. At first I thought it was a shame that employees were made to work on Easter/Passover until I realized that once Kmart closes for good, they were going to have all the time off they could financially withstand so they might as well work through a holiday.

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When I first entered I noticed a new sign that was literally the final countdown of the number of days left until Kmart closes its doors forever.

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There were plenty of shoppers on that Easter Sunday as they were looking for bargains that were starting to hit rock bottom prices.

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There were more and more empty and partially empty shelves on that day.

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The back of the store was mostly blocked off with yellow police tape. I noticed that the ceilings had these pulleys with yellow rope dangling that weren’t there before. I saw that more and more dismantled signs and shelves were behind that roped off area.

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The one area in the back that weren’t roped off was the aisle leading to the Layaway section and the public restrooms. I decided to go down that aisle to check it out.

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When I first approached the Layaway desk, I noticed that no one was working there and the lights were off. When I stepped closer to the desk to investigate, the lights automatically turned on. It was a pretty surreal experience to say the least.

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The public restrooms were across from the Layaway desk. I decided to check out the women’s bathroom.

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One toilet still had the seat cover on it but, otherwise, the women’s bathroom was just as clean as I found it on previous trips before Kmart’s going out of business sale.

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Down the hallway from the restrooms was this opened door that looks like it leads to the warehouse where inventory was kept before being put on store shelves.

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Also near the restrooms was another opened door that looks like it leads to an Employee’s Lounge. (I didn’t investigate either doors because I think those areas were for employees only.)

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The leftover inventory was getting slimmer and slimmer. Most of the items left were ones that I photographed on previous trips. There were a few new items I took pictures of for posterity.

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I couldn’t help but notice a One Direction board game, especially since the Internet went in a total uproar a few weeks earlier when one of its members decided to quit the band. I guess this board game is a collector’s item now (assuming that anyone will even care about buying One Direction collector’s items 10-20 years from now).

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I found one oddity on this trip. It’s a CD called Music for Vampires. I have to admit that the title sounded intriguing and it was on sale for $6.

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Until I turned the CD on the other side and I found that it was basically a compilation of mostly New Wave and Modern Rock songs from the 1980’s and 1990’s that only used the word “Vampires” in the title in an attempt to get Twilight fans to buy this. I would’ve bought it myself but I didn’t because I already have most of the songs either on other CD’s or as MP3 files.

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April 9, 2015

With Kmart closing soon, I decided to make another trip to see how things were going. The countdown sign located by the front door was updated to reflect the fact that shoppers had only four more days until the final closure.

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The discounts have gone very steep with some items reaching the 85% off mark.

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There were plenty of shoppers when I was there who were searching for something—anything—they could buy very cheaply.

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There were more bare shelves and more empty areas when I was there. If I had to guess, I’d say that about 25% of inventory was left.

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The stuff I found on the shelves were literally the dregs, such as this candy that was supposed to look and feel like boogers. The Elf on the Shelf was back on the store shelves along with various leftover Christmas items. There was literally nothing that tempted me. Nothing.

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I found this Ashlee Simpson CD that was a Kmart exclusive. It was originally $5.99 but it was now on sale for $2.99.

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April 17, 2015

I intended to go to Kmart on the final day of its existence. It would’ve been interesting to see what was left on the shelves. It also would’ve been interesting to observe both employees and customers to see if anyone would get misty-eyed over Kmart closing for good. Or if the employees would just stop giving a damn about anything since they were going to be unemployed the next day.

But then a few things happened that distracted me. First there were the taxes. Yeah, that sucked but the alternative to not bother filing would’ve been worse so I gritted my teeth and made every effort to get them done by the April 15 deadline.

Then there were the cherry blossom trees, which bloomed later than usual this year. On top of it, after a long cold winter, the weather had gotten warmer at last and the snow was becoming a distant memory of me. I fell into temptation from both the weather and the cherry blossoms and basically enjoyed the beautiful scenery instead of going to a dying big box retailer like Kmart.

By the time I returned to Kmart the store had already closed for good. But I noticed a few interesting things that I photographed.

The giant Kmart letters that once graced the outside of the building were gone. There were faint outlines that showed where the letters used to be placed.

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Curiously the soda machines were still located near the entrance. Not that it really mattered since they weren’t even working.

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The front door had a few signs posted.

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One of the signs announced that Kmart was officially closed while the other sign announced that a fixture sale was going on and the store was opened from 12-5. Unfortunately I got there after the store had closed for the day. However, I noticed the dates and tomorrow was going to be the last day of the fixture sale. So I had another chance to go inside that store and take a few last photos of an empty store. The only problem was that the Greenbelt Mini-Maker Faire was also happening that same day and I was selling my wares there. Since the event was ending at 4 p.m., I had a chance to show up for the last hour of that fixture sale so I made a mental note to return the next day.

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I looked through the door and saw that the store was empty of inventory. Basically it was an opportunity to purchase shelves or maybe a shopping cart.

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I walked around to the side where Kmart once had its Garden Center. Instead of plants, potting soil, and other seasonal items, the entire area was mostly bare. Although I saw that the Kmart letters were there on one side of the empty space so I found out where the giant Kmart letters went.

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The parking lot outside Kmart was empty except for a few shopping carts that were left behind. It was kind of eery seeing these shopping carts in an empty parking lot waiting for someone—anyone—to use them once again.

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April 18, 2015

Thanks to the fixtures sale, I thought I had another opportunity to take more pictures of an empty Kmart. However April 18 was the last day of that sale and it would only be held from 12-5 p.m. On top of it, I had to work the Greenbelt Mini-Maker Faire, which was going on at the same time. Since that event ended at 4 p.m. I thought I would have some time left to check out the tail end of that fixtures sale. Once the 4 p.m. end time came, I quickly packed up my tables, chair, and inventory so I could go to Kmart for one last visit.

I arrived in the parking lot around 4:40, which would give me 20 minutes until the official end of that fixtures sale. Except when I came to the door I found that it was locked.

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I also saw some glue or tape residue where the green since the sign announcing the hours for the fixtures sale was once placed.

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It looked like the store closed before the official 5 p.m. closing time. I guess things like remaining open during the official posted time doesn’t really matter since the store is officially gone for good. It’s not like keeping customers satisfied really matters anymore. I looked through the locked doors one more time and I noticed that there were still fixtures in that store. I guess they’ll eventually be put in storage somewhere or get shipped to the remaining Kmarts that are still in business as of this writing.

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The only thing different I noticed from the day before is that the abandoned shopping carts in the parking lot were gone. I don’t know if someone connected with Kmart took them or if someone simply stole them. All I know is that the parking lot near Kmart is now completely empty. The only odd thing that remained were the two soda machines near the front doors that aren’t even working.

Even though I hated the crappy customer service (due mainly to understaffing the cashier area so the checkout lines were always long no matter what time of day or even what time of year), I’ll still miss the nice things I used to purchase for reasonable prices. There is another Kmart in Hyattsville that I could go to. There’s also one in Crofton that I could go to on my way to my weekly support group meeting for people who are separated or divorced. But how much longer the surviving Kmarts will last is up in the air since both Kmart and its parent company Sears are predicted to completely go out of business. Right now it looks like Sears is more focused on dismantling itself and Kmart by closing a lot of stores across the United States than on doing anything radical to save both stores. Sears and Kmart are currently in a downward spiral where they close some stores, which results in lost revenue, which leads to closing even more stores, resulting in even more lost revenue, and so on.  In a way it’s sad since I’ve known both stores since I was a child. Oh well.

I originally moved into the townhouse where I currently live just weeks before I married my fiancee. We lived together in that place as a married couple until my husband abruptly decided to run away from home just three days after Christmas in 2011. I got the townhouse in the divorce settlement. Right now I’m happy that I’m living there. I love the neighborhood and I get along great with my neighbors. I really appreciated not having to move while dealing with the horrible and brutal aftermath of my husband’s abrupt walkout along with his refusal to consider marriage counseling or to even speak with me in person while sending numerous e-mails and texts demanding that I conform to his personal schedule of separating our finances ASAP or else he would sue me. (Yes, it got that ugly mainly because he made it ugly. He barked orders at me from afar like I was a servant instead of a wife whom he claimed he loved me up until the night before he ran away from home.)

From time to time I (along with my husband before he left) would occasionally get flyers from local realtors. They were along the lines of “If you’re ever ready to sell your home, call Joe Blow of Blow Realtors at (301) 555-1234, ext. 567.” I never minded those flyers because I know that realtors have to do a certain amount of marketing in order to grow their businesses and make money. For someone who is ready to sell, getting such a flyer at the right time could mean a new opportunity for that realtor.

But a few days ago I got this note from a realtor that totally unnerved me. Part of the reason was because it arrived on the heels of a stressful week where I simultaneously worked on my taxes and my vending booth at the Greenbelt Mini-Maker Faire. Plus I’m still dealing with the emotional fallout from the hell that my so-called “sweet” husband put me through when he pretended that he still loved me until the day he left me for a friend of ours whom he married just two months after our divorce was final. This is way more nervy than the usual realtor flyer I get in my mailbox.

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ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!? Here’s a point-by-point rebuttal from me.

I have a Buyer that is looking, very specifically, for an end unit that backs to the “100 Acre Wood.”

100 Acre Wood, eh? That’s nice. So your Buyer wants something that’s straight out of Winnie the Pooh. Maybe you should direct her across the pond to an area in the United Kingdom called Ashdown Forest, which was the original inspiration for the 100 Acre Wood. Or, if she wanted to stay in the U.S., you could direct her to an area near Walt Disney World in Florida so she could have the chance to visit the Magic Kingdom and go on The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh ride as much as her heart desires. What does that have to do with me?

You are presently living in a home that fits that very specific, but otherwise loose, requirement of hers.

That’s nice. Over the years I’ve seen homes throughout the Baltimore-Washington, DC area that I would love to live in but haven’t purchased because they were out of my price range but I don’t dwell on it. Besides, I like my current home.

I was wondering if you have any thoughts of selling your home?

Here’s the thing. It’s obvious you looked at my home from the front yard before you dropped that letter in my mailbox. Did you see a “For Sale” sign anywhere on my front lawn? I’m sure that your answer is “No.” There’s a reason why you didn’t see a “For Sale” sign because I’M NOT CURRENTLY SELLING MY HOME!!! If I was going to sell my home, I would have a “For Sale” sign posted on the front lawn. Since I don’t have such a sign on my front lawn it’s obvious that I’M NOT CURRENTLY SELLING MY HOME!!! Well, DUH!!!

If so, she is highly qualified to purchase and would be very much interested in the possibility.

And where the hell am I supposed to go if I decide to step aside and let her purchase my home? Do you know how hard it is to find affordable housing in a decent neighborhood in the Baltimore-Washington, DC area? Do you know how ill-prepared I am to consider moving right now? If I was ready to move I WOULD HAVE A “FOR SALE” SIGN POSTED ON MY FRONT LAWN!!!

If you are interested, please call or email me and we can pick up the conversation.

If I was interested in moving, I WOULD HAVE POSTED A “FOR SALE” SIGN ON MY FRONT LAWN!!! Usually a house that does not have a “For Sale” sign on the front lawn means that it’s currently not for sale.

If you are not interested in selling, please disregard this letter.

I intend to do just that after I finish snarking about it in this post.

It’s our unique attempt at finding her a home and not meant to be invasive!

Oh, it’s unique alright. It’s uniquely full of chutzpah! I don’t go around to other people’s homes putting letters in their mailboxes asking them to sell me their home because I really like it so much that I want to live in it, especially if the home in question is not even for sale and the current owner has no intentions of moving in the near future.

Thanks for your consideration!

Fuck off!

Look, I’m not saying that I will never sell my current home. If, for some reason, my health declines so much that I could no longer handle living in my current home, I would definitely sell it and move to a small apartment or condominium. Or if I decide to marry someone else who happens to live in another state and I decide to move to that state (like what my late mother-in-law did when she decided to marry her second husband and move from Yonkers, New York to his home in Phoenix). But I would only sell my home and move because I want to, not because my home happens to meet the standards of the client of a realtor and this realtor wants me to sell it in order to please her client.

I just want to be left alone so I can get my personal life back together in peace.

Lately I’ve been through some trying times between taxes, the fallout from the stroke that my church’s minister suffered, and preparing for the upcoming Greenbelt Mini-Maker Faire.

Easter weekend fell during this time last year along with the 2014 Awesome Con DC. One year ago yesterday I decided to treat myself to a Saturday-only pass. I made my order on Good Friday. A few hours after I ordered my pass, I found out that the minister at my Unitarian Universalist church had suddenly suffered a stroke. It was completely out of the blue because she had been healthy up until that point. Since my Awesome Con DC pass was non-refundable, I ended up going through with attending that convention on the following day while fretting over what happened to the minister. The day after my attendance at Awesome Con DC was the annual Easter Sunday service, which went ahead with lay leaders but the news of the minister’s stroke had cast a total pall over that service.

Here is what happened since I last mentioned the minister’s stroke in this blog. The congregation initially decided wait and see how well the minister would recover. For the first few months after the stroke the church decided to have a combination of lay leaders, visiting ministers from other UU congregations, and other guest speakers fill in on Sunday mornings throughout the rest of the spring and the summer. The hope was that the minister would return to the pulpit in September. As time went on, it became apparent that the minister wasn’t going to recover by September so the congregation decided to hire a temporary interim caretaker minister. This minister was retired but decided to go back on active duty temporarily. The hope was that the minister would be recovered by late spring-early summer 2015 and be able to resume her duties.

There were some changes this year. Awesome Con DC is now being held in late May instead of Easter weekend. Easter was earlier this year so it already came and went. Then there is the drama of the minister and her stroke. While the minister was making great strides in her recovery, she still isn’t able to fully take on the duties that she took on prior to the stroke. On top of it, the interim caretaker minister had made it clear that he really wanted to go back into retirement by September. For the past few weeks there were a series of meetings where various members had the chance to voice their opinions on what the congregation should do about the minister situation. But then the minister decided to resign from her job. She said that she was told by her doctors and physical therapists that she had reached a plateau in her recovery and she’s not likely to make a full recovery soon. While I’m sad to see her go, I think her resignation is for the best. Now the congregation can hire a new interim minister for one year while making a search for a new settled minister. And the outgoing minister can now take her time to heal from her stroke without the pressure of any deadlines from the congregation.

Then there are some recent stresses of my own. I did the taxes once again but it was stressful because I still have to pay taxes on the alimony that I receive from my ex-husband and I’m barely making ends meet without the taxes. (The fact that prices have gone up over the past year or two hasn’t helped at all.) I also did something stupid. For several months I would toss mail (mostly junk mail) and other papers into this huge pile on the dining room table. Among the stuff I tossed into that mountain pile were donation receipts. By the time tax time came around again, I realized that I created my own problem because I dawdled on creating a separate folder for putting last year’s tax receipts in and keeping it in the file cabinet. So I did a massive decluttering, which meant that I started working on the taxes later than usual. I managed to get them done just in time for the 5 p.m. mail pick up at the local post office on April 15.

While I was working on the taxes, my congregation was hosting the homeless for a week as part of the interfaith Warm Nights program that has been going on in the county for many years. I volunteered to bring a loaf of Italian bread even though I ended up on the April 14 slot, which meant I had to interrupt the crunch time on finishing the taxes in order to buy and deliver the bread. Then I went back home and worked on the taxes some more.

As for the taxes, I did okay until I had to fill out IRS Form 8965 simply because I purchased health insurance on the open market under the Affordable Health Care Act. I’ve had no problems with following the instructions on the other IRS forms but 8965 was a total bitch because the instructions were so confusing. At one point, I had to stop and recheck Form 8965 because my calculations on the main 1040 form said that I owed the IRS an extra $700 for health insurance discrepancy fees! I discovered that I mistakenly filled out the wrong sections and I really owed the IRS $20 for health insurance discrepancy fees. I wasn’t the only one who had problems with correctly filling out Form 8965. But, thanks to that damned form, I didn’t finish with the federal taxes until it was after midnight on April 15 and I still hadn’t started the state tax form yet. I spent the bulk of the next day working on the state taxes (which was far less complicated than the federal taxes) and I managed to get that form in to the post office just two hours before the official 5 p.m. collection time.

On top of it, the Greenbelt Mini-Maker Faire was on April 18 so I did some initial work on those comic book coasters that I was making for that event, switched to working on taxes until they were done, then switched back to preparing for the event once the taxes were in the mail.

But it all worked out. Yesterday was the Greenbelt Mini-Maker Faire and the comic book coasters were a hit. I sold part of my inventory and I made some money at a street festival for a change. I’ve had the best response to my wares in years and I’m totally happy about it. Maybe I’m not washed up as an creative person after all.

What’s more, I learned of a potential opportunity through a friend of mine where I could make some extra money on the side. No, it’s not some crazy illegal ponzi scheme. It involves fixing old computers up and selling them to people for cheap prices. I can’t really elaborate any further at this time because I don’t know whether this opportunity is a sure thing or not. If it works then maybe I can finally make an effort to pay off my debts. But I’m being cautiously optimistic for now.

Free Tutorials

How to easily clean a hot glue gun. That one is important for those of us crafters who frequently use that tool because that is one item that can easily gunk up with old dried glue.

29 Geek DIY’s To Make Right Now includes an abacus bracelet, a Doctor Who Tardis phone charging station, and RPG dice earrings.

What is Spec Work? is a video that describes the term and shows why designers should never waste their time with spec work.

16 Creative Ways To Give Sneakers A Makeover is a great tutorial for those who are in the mood to buy a new pair but currently own a good pair of sneakers and don’t really have the money to buy a new pair or two for fashion reasons.

Browse other free tutorials previously mentioned in this blog (along with pictures) right here.

Miscellaneous Links

Here are seven reasons why the contemporary art world is an insufferable scam—corrupted by the super-rich.

David Irvine is an artist who specializes in collecting old, discarded paintings from thrift shops and adding pop culture characters like Darth Vader and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters. The results are interesting to say the least.

Here’s a clip from a 1950’s TV show that features an appearance by Samuel Seymour, who was the last surviving witness to the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. He mentioned how, as a five-year-old boy in Ford’s Theater, he saw John Wilkes Booth jump from a balcony to the stage where Booth broke his leg and he was initially concerned about Booth until he saw President Lincoln slumped in his seat. This TV appearance happened just in time because Seymour would die just a few months after appearing on that show. Seymour’s brush with history has since earned him his own Wikipedia page.

When I made my first trip to London back in 2007, I managed to make a brief visit to the world-famous Abbey Road Studios (where a lot of classic albums were made, including The Beatles’ Abbey Road and Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon) and I even walked in the same crosswalk where The Beatles were once photographed. While I saw the famous graffiti-filled walls on the perimeter of the property, inside of the building was off-limits to the general public. Google now has a virtual tour inside the Abbey Road Studios that is totally awesome and gives a fascinating glimpse of Abbey Road’s rich recording history that goes as far back as the early 20th century. There are also a few fun hands-on features as well, such as trying your hand at mixing music with the J37, a machine that was used to mix such albums as The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

I only went to one high school reunion in my life—the five-year reunion. It was held in the historic Belvedere Hotel, which has since been converted to luxury condominiums. At the time I was a new college graduate and a newlywed. I even convinced my husband to come along with me even though he never attended my high school (he grew up on Long Island while I grew up in Maryland) because I wanted to show him off as a “Ha! Ha! In your face!” message to those assholes who made my high school years miserable. We decided to rent a room at the hotel that night so we could hop on a elevator going to and from the lower level ballroom where the reunion was held without worrying about driving home that night. That backfired because my husband was bored, no one cared about the fact that I married a NASA employee who was a graduate from Oberlin College, and the majority of the few friends I made in high school didn’t go. The majority of those who attended that reunion were the popular kids (mainly the jocks and cheerleaders) who looked down on me as a retarded alien freak during those high school years and they didn’t give a damn about how I married well while they all gave off this “You’re still inferior and too insignificant for me” vibe when I unsuccessfully attempted some small talk during that reunion night. I socialized with the two or three friends who were there only to discover that I hadn’t seen them since Graduation Day and I didn’t have much in common with them anymore. The only good thing was the night we spent in that hotel room, which I recall was a very fancy room with nice bedsheets and soft towels. I haven’t gone to any other high school reunions since. I came across this post called Why I Will Never Go to My High School Reunion and it does a great job articulating on why high school reunions are overrated.

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