Benjamin Franklin

Presumption first blinds a Man, then sets him a running.

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A few months ago I managed to take a picture of a black squirrel. Well, last month I found a different squirrel whose fur color is the polar opposite of that other squirrel.

Here’s some background. When I was a senior at the University of Maryland at College Park, I lived in nearby off-campus housing. The surrounding neighborhood was—and still is—really nice. In fact I devoted a post to this neighborhood way back in 2014.

The one thing I remember most about my time in that neighborhood was a certain squirrel that I used to encounter whenever I walked to or from school. This squirrel was pure white with pink eyes. I saw an albino squirrel. It was incredibly beautiful and it stood out among the thicket of trees and leaves. I observed that squirrel several times as it was doing the things that a typical squirrel usually do. After observing this squirrel several times I decided that this critter is well-adjusted in the wild and it should never be captured and put in a zoo.

My housemates saw that same squirrel as well. We all decided to not talk too much about this squirrel to outsiders because we didn’t want to encourage someone to try hunting or trapping it.

I eventually stopped seeing that squirrel after a while. (I don’t know if our paths somehow didn’t cross or if that squirrel had simply died of natural causes.) My only regret was that I was never able to take a photo of it despite the times I took my 35 mm Pentax camera with me. (That squirrel was too fast for my camera lens.) I graduated from college and moved away but I still had memories of that squirrel.

On December 23, 2017 (or Christmas Eve Eve, if you prefer) I went to the Smile Herb Shop because I needed to purchase some more hand cream and that store had this brand of hand cream that I personally prefer. (Ironically I would get more hand cream just a few days later due to this White Elephant gift exchange I took part in.) After I purchased the hand cream I noticed that the drizzle that had been going on all day had suddenly stopped. I decided to walk around my old neighborhood some more.

All of a sudden I saw a white squirrel on a fence in someone’s back yard. I couldn’t believe my eyes. This squirrel was several feet away from where I was standing but I knew I was seeing a white squirrel in the same neighborhood where I saw that albino squirrel several years ago. I took out my Canon PowerShot camera and zoomed the lens in on the squirrel as far as I can take it then took a shot. I was successful. The picture is a bit on the grainy side due to the far away zooming that I had to do but I caught this squirrel.

It was ironic that I caught this squirrel next to a “Beware of Dog” sign.

I looked closer at the photo and I saw that this squirrel had pink eyes, which makes it an albino just like that other squirrel I saw years ago.

I wonder if that squirrel I photographed is a descendant of that other albino squirrel I saw during my college days. There’s no way to find out for sure. But I have a hard time believing that it was just a random coincidence that I found two albino squirrels in the same area several years apart.

The squirrel seemed to be well-adjusted in the wild. In fact it scampered away just moments after I shot that photo. But it’s cool that I got a chance to see a white albino squirrel once again.

I was up in Baltimore on a very cold day (the temperature reached no higher than 20 degrees Fahrenheit and I even have a few photos of the frozen water that I took from the window of the light rail train that I was riding on) because I received an email announcing that the art show I had participated in was ending and I needed to retrieve my work. (The art show was originally going to run through January 8 but I think the organizers decided to end it a few days earlier after the weather forecasts called for freezing rain on that day.)

Basically I went to Trinacria’s Ristorante & Bar and picked up my artwork with no problem at all. I saw that the place is located near the Walters Art Museum and I really didn’t have anything else scheduled that day so I decided to go there and warm myself.

Even though the Walters Art Museum is among Baltimore’s most famous museums, I didn’t visit it for the first time until my mother took me there when I was a teenager.  I wouldn’t step foot in that place again for a number of years until 2016 when I was taking part in another art show and I saw that the venue was located near that museum. I wasn’t able to finish touring the entire place when it closed but I swore that I would make a return trip just so I can finish with visiting the rest of the building. But then I went through 2017 without stepping foot in that building again.

So I decided to take advantage of being in the area and just visit the museum. On the last trip I started on the fourth floor, visited everything on that floor, then visited everything on the third floor until I finally finished the day with visiting only part of the third floor. Once again on this trip I started at the top floor and worked my way down except I spent less time on the floors I had previously visited and focused more on the places I hadn’t gone on my last visit. That museum had all kinds of neat stuff, such as this Japanese samurai armor.

This bust in the next photo is based on William Shakespeare’s Othello and I thought it was a neat combination of white and black marble.

They had a portrait of Othello located near that marble bust.

 

When I first saw this painting of the Mona Lisa, I did a double take because I thought that this painting was in the Louvre in Paris. The accompanying label said that it was a copy of Leonardo da Vinci’s famous painting done by an unknown artist and that, yes, the Louvre has the original.

The wood carving in the next photo is a typical Madonna and Child art piece. The eyes on the figures reminded me of what you’d see on a Japanese anime character.

They had a room in the museum that was set up like a room in an English home during the Renaissance (or maybe it was King Arthur’s time) while conjuring up images of knights and maidens and stuff like that.

They even had a table in the middle of that room that had chess and checkers games that were available for visitors to play, which was kind of cool. If I had taken a friend with me to the museum, we could’ve taken a stab at one of these games. Oh well.

They had an entire section of the museum dedicated to ancient Egypt, including an actual mummy.

They also had a section devoted to artifacts from ancient Greece and ancient Rome.

The last area of the museum I visited was devoted to artifacts from the reign of Czar Nicholas II in Russia. The next photo shows a rare Fabergé egg that had a tiny building inside of it.

The next photo shows a necklace that had tiny watercolor paintings of Czar Nicholas’ four daughters. These watercolors were based on actual photographs of the princesses. These four young women would be murdered along with their parents and younger brother by the Bolsheviks.

I pretty much enjoyed myself in that museum. Maybe one day I’ll make a return trip without having to combine with picking up or dropping art at a nearby exhibition.

Last month I happened to be in Langley Park, Maryland where I noticed something new (or something that I hadn’t noticed before). It’s a very nice and colorful mural.

Martin Luther King Day

Today is Martin Luther King Day, which honors the man who gave his famous “I Have a Dream Speech” where he said that he hoped that his four children would be judged not by the color of their skins but by the content of their character. While some things have improved in race relations since King’s murder fifty years ago this April, sadly white people in this country have a long way to go before we can all say that racism is pretty much history. It pains me to write this as a white American woman but I feel urged to call things as I see them, especially since there were two ugly international incidents that took place a week apart that literally make me embarrassed to be a white American.

The new year kicked off with a YouTube star named Logan Paul who has apparently amassed a huge following among kids (which is why I had never heard of him before). This video by TheTalko shows a basic primer about Logan Paul and his brother, Jake, for those who have never heard of these two.

Recently Logan Paul and his friends decided to travel to Japan where they made a series of travel vlogs that essentially mocked the Japanese and their culture. This video shows the lowlights of Paul’s first few Japan travel videos while That Japanese Man Yuta provides English-language commentary of his opinions about Paul’s antics in Japan.

As for the piece de resistance, Logan Paul and his friends decided to go to a park that has a reputation for being known as the “Suicide Forest” because of the huge number of people who have taken their lives there over the past several decades. When they stumbled upon the body of a man who recently decided to hang himself, they kept on filming both the body and themselves laughing and making jokes about finding a dead body. Logan Paul uploaded the video only to take it down a day later after people started to react negatively to that video.

The video below isn’t the original video that Logan Paul made. It’s one that shows only the excerpts from the original video that focuses on Logan Paul’s reactions to finding that body in the forest along with commentary by penguinz0. (The few scenes that show the suicide victim’s body have been completely blurred in this video.)

Here are a few things about Logan Paul and his antics in Japan:

1. Of all of the public parks located throughout Japan he could’ve visited, he chose the one that has the reputation as being the “Suicide Forest.”

2. From what I’ve read about this park, it has clearly defined nature trails that visitors are expected to follow while they are touring the park. Logan Paul and his friends intentionally went off of these trails in order to go deeper into the forest. What other reason could they have done this in a park known as the “Suicide Forest” if they weren’t hoping to find a dead body while making a video that’s a poor imitation ripoff of The Blair Witch Project?

3. When they found the body the first thing they could’ve done was to call the Japanese equivalent of 911 or try to flag down a park ranger/park employee/police officer/someone in a position of authority. But they didn’t do any of these things. Instead they continued with making the video where Logan Paul is cracking tasteless jokes about finding the body while shooting footage of that dead man.

4. On top of it, Logan Paul was wearing a goofy hat resembling the head of one of the three-eyed green alien toys from the Toy Story movies while laughing and cracking jokes about finding a dead body, which only further showed how callous he was about finding a dead body in a park known as the “Suicide Forest.” It would be like me going to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia wearing a Mickey Mouse hat with a matching Mickey Mouse jacket and doing a livestream of myself cracking tasteless jokes by the graveside.

5. What Logan Paul and his pals refuse to realize is that the body they found wasn’t something that was put there for their amusement. That man who committed suicide was somebody’s son, somebody’s brother, somebody’s nephew, somebody’s spouse/significant other, somebody’s father, somebody’s uncle, somebody’s cousin, somebody’s friend, somebody’s neighbor, somebody’s coworker, etc. I can only imagine how those who knew that man felt when they learned that some foreigners made a video featuring the man’s dead body while cracking tasteless jokes and laughing at it.

Ironically this month is the one-year anniversary of the suicide of a guy whom my late aunt used to babysit from the time he was a baby until he reached middle school. I met him a few times when I used to visit my aunt along with my uncle and cousins. (I last saw him at my aunt’s funeral years ago.) I’m glad that the person who found Ben’s body called 911 instead of pulling out a smartphone and start making a video about how he/she found a dead body while cracking tasteless jokes then uploading it online.

One of my African American friends wrote a post on Facebook that basically said that the Logan Paul video incident was reminiscent of those photos of lynched African Americans in the Deep South that included white people who were gathered around the body smiling and laughing like they were out for a fun picnic day rather than actually being at the scene of a murder. (Yes, those lynchings were murder.) In this case it happened to be a Japanese man who committed suicide that was the target of the twisted amusement of Logan Paul and his friends but the result was the same. They felt that they were entitled to smile, laugh, and jeer at the body of a nonwhite man because he wasn’t born white so he’s more of an “other” and less of a human than they are.

After all, if they had found the body of a white man who committed suicide, would they have made a similar video? My bet would be “no.”

I came across this video from Reina Scully, a Japanese citizen who grew up in the United States, who explained the Japanese perspective on death and the Suicide Forest and why Logan Paul’s actions towards finding that body was offensive to the Japanese.

The only silver lining is that he has lost some lucrative deals with YouTube and Blackpills and he has also taken a break from his daily vlogging on his YouTube channel. Only time will tell whether his career as an online celebrity will ever recover from this debacle.

Even though Logan Paul was last week, this month in ugly white Americans didn’t stop there. This week President Donald Trump unleashed an international incident where, in a meeting, he pretty much called Haiti and Africa “shithole countries.” (Never mind the fact that Africa is a continent not a country.) He even complained about how there are very few immigrants from Norway.

I’ll admit that Haiti and Africa have their problems, which are due in large part to the legacy of white European colonialism dating back several centuries and which would warrant an entire series of separate blog posts in order to explain in full detail. (The late blogger Steve Gilliard did such a series on colonialism back in 2004 that’s so thorough that it’ll take you at least two days to go through but it’s definitely worth reading. This page has the links to the entire series.) Had the Europeans left these places alone, they would be much better off today with far fewer problems (especially with poverty).

Donald Trump has a history of racism that goes back decades. It was only natural that he would run for president while aligning himself with a political party that was once fairly progressive (it was antislavery in the days of Abraham Lincoln and it was another Republican, Theodore Roosevelt, who broke up a lot of the monopolies that were in operation at the time while championing conservation by establishing the national park system) but it ended when Richard Nixon started his Southern Strategy where the Republicans started to reach out to white racists who pined for the old days of the Confederate States of America.

It resulted in Republicans being obstructionists during Barack Obama’s time in office due largely because Obama was the first African American elected to the White House. It resulted in white Republicans like this infamous photograph of then-Arizona Governor Jan Brewer literally angrily yelling and sticking her finger right at President Obama’s chest when he arrived to that state on a visit. If both of the parents of President Obama had been white, Governor Brewer would’ve probably treated him with more respect instead of openly berating him like he was a naughty child.

In every nation on Earth it is the leaders who set the example for how its citizens behave. I’ve met older people who joined the Peace Corps and/or pursued careers in the civil service after hearing President John F. Kennedy’s inauguration speech that had this famous line: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” They could have made more money had they worked in the private sector but they felt inspired to pursue a different career path of serving others as a result of Kennedy’s speech.

When you have leaders like Donald Trump who are openly trying to find ways of banning non-whites from entering this country while turning a blind eye to the vicious acts of white supremacists (such as what happened last year in Charlottesville), you’re basically signaling to white Americans that it’s okay to look down on non-whites as being less-than-humans. While it’s not fair to blame Donald Trump for Logan Paul doing what he did in Japan, it’s the white supremacy style of his current leadership that has given people like Logan Paul the idea that it’s okay to travel to a foreign country and make a series of videos mocking nonwhites along with their customs and traditions. Just as Donald Trump thinks that Haiti and Africa are shitholes worthy of contempt, Logan Paul thinks that the Japanese are funny looking people with slanted eyes who make weird video games and weird big-eyed cartoon characters who are worthy of contempt.

With that mindset coming from the White House, it’s no wonder that Logan Paul decided to make that nasty video about finding a dead body in the Suicide Forest.

It had been brutally cold in the Baltimore-Washington, DC area from a day or two after Christmas until January 9. During this time the weather dipped below freezing and I even directly encountered something called a bomb cyclone for the first time in my life. It was so cold that the downstairs of my townhouse was still cold even with having the heat turned way up and I spent more time in the upstairs bedroom because it was the warmest part of the house. There were news reports that the East Coast had experienced the coldest New Year’s ever.

The one thing about this bout of extreme cold weather I won’t forget soon was what happened on Monday (January 8, 2018). I had originally thought about attending Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School in Baltimore until the night before when I saw the weather reports calling for freezing rain. I decided to can that idea because I have too many memories of the times I left Dr. Sketch’s dealing with everything from pouring rain to fog as I tried to get out of the city and I just wasn’t up for yet another harrowing trip. (That event ended up being cancelled anyway due to the weather so it was all moot.)

I was dealing with washing machine problems where the water wouldn’t drain and I had to manually bail out the water. I decided to go to the nearby laundromat before the rain started. So I got the laundry done and I decided to go to the Target to do some web surfing since it was in the same mall as the laundromat. (I have a Karma wi-fi plan and I had used up my gigabyte allotment for the month and I decided against paying an extra $15 for some more gigabytes until the next month kicked in.)

So I went to Target and looked at my emails while coming up with ideas for future blog posts. I hung around longer than I intended so by the time I left, it was not only night but it had started to rain.

Fortunately it was a short drive home but there were times when I felt the wheels on my car attempting to slide because they drove over some ice patches. I made it to home when I found another obstacle.

In order to get inside of my townhouse, I have to walk across the sidewalk to a set of concrete steps leading downwards to another sidewalk that leads to one concrete step leading to the front porch which then leads to the front door of my house. I know this sentence sounds complicated but it’s really easier than it sounds.

So I arrived at my home only to find that the sidewalk was completely iced over and I even felt my feet slipping whenever I tried to step on it. (Yet the blacktop covering the parking lot wasn’t icy at all.) I stupidly forgot to bring my walking cane with me. This was potentially treacherous because I have a hip replacement and I still have memories of the time when I slipped on some ice in Annapolis in early 2011. The fall was enough to knock my hip replacement out of alignment and I needed hip revision surgery in order to snap that joint back into place.

It also didn’t help that I was literally the only person on my block who was even outside with everyone else staying inside. (I remember the street was cleared of cars that night.) So it was no use staying put in the hopes that a passerby will become a Good Samaritan and help me. (Besides, given the extreme cold, I would’ve turned into a human popsicle before a Good Samaritan would even show suddenly from out of the blue.)

So my choices were 1) walk on the icy sidewalk and risk falling and possibly injuring my hip replacement or 2) spend the night sleeping in my car despite the below-freezing temperature. But then I thought of a third way.

I knelt down on the sidewalk then got on my hands and knees. I proceeded to crawl across the icy sidewalk like a baby. When I got to the concrete steps, I scooted my legs to the front and sat on the first step. I began to scoot own one step at a time on my butt. After doing the first two steps like that, I realized that the steps weren’t icy at all. So I grabbed the railing and hoisted myself back on my feet and walked the rest of the way to the front door, which wasn’t icy at all.

As for the laundry, I left it in the trunk because I wasn’t about to deal with that icy sidewalk again. I retrieved it the next morning when the temperature went above freezing for the first time since Christmas.

I took a few photos that showed how cold it really got in my area. On January 6 I decided to brave the 18 degree Fahrenheit weather to check out the interactive version of the Nutcracker at Artechouse. Before I went inside the building I took a quick photo of the Southwest Waterfront, where one can see ice being formed along the shoreline.

Despite the cold weather there was a certain beauty about it even though I could only tolerate being out in the extreme cold for so long. I managed to shoot this glorious sunset before I had to go indoors from the cold.

As I was leaving Artechouse I saw how deserted the area was. There were very few cars around. I know the weekend is part of the reason but I also think it’s because most people just didn’t want to venture anywhere in the cold. I managed to shoot the skyline where one can see the U.S. Capitol building in its full nighttime glory on the horizon.

The next day (January 7) I had to go to Baltimore so I could pick up my art that I had on display at this art show that had just ended. Once again I brave the below freezing temperature (which was 20 degrees Fahrenheit—two degrees warmer than the day before but it wasn’t much of an improvement). Since the venue was in an area with scarce parking, I parked my car at the North Linthicum light rail station and took the light rail train into the city. As the train wound its way on its route I saw that the water was made up of ice sheets.

While the effects of the extreme cold made for some good picture taking, I’m glad that the extreme cold has left the area. The temperature is currently in the 60’s, which is relatively tropical compared to what I experienced recently.

Benjamin Franklin

Nigh neighbour to the squire, poor Sam complain’d
Of frequent wrongs, but no amends he gain’d.
Each day his gates thrown down; his fences broke;
And injur’d still the more, the more he spoke;

At last, resolv’d his potent foe to awe,
A suit against him he began in law;
Nine happy terms thro’ all the forms he run,
Obtain’d his cause—had costs—and was undone.

ReCreative Spaces, which opened back in 2015, was a studio space for artists and makers located in Mount Rainier, Maryland. Last month I got word that ReCreative Spaces decided to close its doors. I wanted to go to its Farewell Party last month but I decided to scrap that plan when a snowstorm coupled with below-freezing temperatures hit the area and I just didn’t want to risk going out too far from my home and risk either getting in a car accident or slipping on some ice on the sidewalk and risk injuring my hip replacement. (Although that storm made some pretty pictures, such as the ones I took that day.)

Ultimately I went to the last ever event at that place, which was basically a going-out-of-business sale where everything must go. Here are a few pictures I took while I was there.

The ReCreative Closing Sale, January 6, 2018

The ReCreative Closing Sale, January 6, 2018

The ReCreative Closing Sale, January 6, 2018

The ReCreative Closing Sale, January 6, 2018

The ReCreative Closing Sale, January 6, 2018

The ReCreative Closing Sale, January 6, 2018

The ReCreative Closing Sale, January 6, 2018

The ReCreative Closing Sale, January 6, 2018

The ReCreative Closing Sale, January 6, 2018

I only found two things that I decided to purchase, both of which had cost me a total of one dollar. I got a pack of inkjet fabric sheets.

The ReCreative Closing Sale, January 6, 2018

I also found this Christmas rubber duck that I thought was cute enough to purchase on impulse.

The ReCreative Closing Sale, January 6, 2018

Here’s the rubber duck next to my small collection of Ginger Cottages. This rubber duck is now currently residing in storage with the rest of my Christmas decorations.

The ReCreative Closing Sale, January 6, 2018

Since I’m publishing this post on a Thursday, I’ll make this into a Throwback Thursday by highlighting just a few past photos of ReCreative Spaces along with links to the original posts that they appeared in.

The first and only time I ever took part in a vendor show at Recreative Spaces.

ReCreative Spaces Open House event in Mount Rainier, Maryland, September 6, 2015

Photo originally published in the September 21, 2015 post.

I created this Christmas card during Small Business Saturday at ReCreative Spaces.

photo24

Photo originally published in the December 9, 2015 post.

The time ReCreative Spaces sponsored Art in the Park(ing Lot) where local artists painted murals on a soon-to-be-torn down shopping center.

Painting Party, August 7, 2016

Photo originally published in the August 23, 2016 post.

The time I made this Christmas ornament as part of Small Business Saturday at ReCreative Spaces.

Small Business Saturday at the Gateway Arts District of Prince George's County

Photo originally published in the December 19, 2016 post.

When I saw this funky Christmas tree made entirely of wood.

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Photo originally published in the December 27, 2016 post.

When I colored a page from an adult coloring book.

Winter Gallery Opening Event at ReCreative Spaces, Mount Rainier, Maryland, January 8 2015

Photo originally published in the January 12, 2016 post.

I created this postcard-sized collage.

surrealflight-webversion

Photo originally published in the March 3, 2016 post

I’ll never forget the time after Donald Trump was sworn in as President of the United States where ReCreative Spaces hosted this mural.

Deport Trump Mural

Photo originally published in the March 16, 2017 post.

From time to time ReCreative Spaces had musicians and deejays provide the tunes at their events, such as these two musicians.

ReCreative Spaces

Photo originally published in the May 22, 2017 post.

I’ll definitely miss going to their events because I usually enjoyed myself as I made art and met some new people.

I recently dodged a financial bullet. That near-miss started during the recent Christmas/Kwanzaa/New Year’s holiday week when I was uploading a bunch of new holiday photos on my Instagram account. One night I saw a comment posted to one of my Instagram photos from a company known as Boho Queen Jewelry. The comment basically said that they liked the photos I had posted under my own account and the company invited me to apply to become on of its brand ambassadors.

My immediate reaction was that I was thrilled to receive such an invite. I had heard about some people becoming Instagram influencers where companies will either pay or give free samples of a product to Instagram influencers in exchange for posting a photo of themselves actually modeling a product. I thought this invitation from Boho Queen Jewelry could potentially be the first step for me to eventually become an Instagram influencer myself and it may lead to a new career path for myself.

I was very flattered to receive such an invite mainly because most of the pictures of jewelry I’ve posted in my Instagram account were either of my own creations or they were ones I had shot of other people’s jewelry during craft shows, art shows, and trips to the various shopping malls. I hadn’t done any kind of professional modeling before nor had I ever done any jewelry reviews. I thought it was cool that someone thought of me as being a potential online marketer of some really cool looking funky jewelry whose photos I saw posted on Boho Queen Jewelry’s website.

I decided to sleep on it since I had received that invitation so late in the evening. The following morning my immediate thrilled reaction had chilled and I wanted to proceed with this proposed brand ambassador gig with caution because I had never heard of the company before. I decided to do a quick Google search on Boho Queen Jewelry to learn about how others view that company. I immediately came up with a bunch of links that alarmed me.

Boho Queen Jewelry was previously known under two different names—Mirina Collections and Nora NYC—which became notorious for the way it conducts its business using this pattern.

First the company searches the Internet for photos of jewelry created by talented jewelry artisans. Then the company creates knockoffs using the cheapest materials they could find. The company lists a knockoff on its own website with a retail price that’s two or three times higher than what the talented jewelry artisan charges for his/her original work. Sometimes the company will list its knockoff product using the photo of the original jewelry that it swiped off of another website.

The company trolls various blogs and Instagram accounts by leaving comments inviting people to become its online brand ambassador while providing a link to a page where the person can apply. The person applies and is always accepted into the brand ambassador program. The newly appointed brand ambassador is then required to buy the jewelry but at a special lower discount than the retail price.

Here’s where the fun begins. While sometimes the person receives the jewelry in one piece and writes a good online review of the product (such as this one), usually the new brand ambassador encounters one of two scenarios.

1. The person never receives the jewelry. The person contacts the company via emails only to have them ignored.

2. The person receives the jewelry but it’s broken or damaged. The person contacts the company asking for a replacement or refund only to be ignored.

If the dissatisfied brand ambassador tries to contact the company through its Instagram page, the company will block that person. There have been cases where the company has threatened to sue the brand ambassador for writing a less-than-glowing review about that person’s interactions with the company on his/her blog or Instagram account. There have even been a few cases where the company went back into the brand ambassador’s bank or charge accounts at a later date and took out even more money.

Even though the company has changed its name for the third time, the way it conducts its business still remains the same.

After I read the accounts of people getting ripped off I decided against applying to become Boho Queen Jewelry’s brand ambassador and I immediately deleted that company’s comment on my Instagram photo.

The one thing that most raised my suspicion is the company’s requirement that you purchase its products (even at a discount) in order to do an online review. I know from my days working for the school newspaper during my college years that most legitimate companies never charged for a product that it wanted someone at the newspaper to review. Instead these companies would frequently send free samples of a product in exchange for a review. In the case of something like a movie, the film’s distributor would either provide free tickets or would set up a special free screening at a local theater that’s limited to reviewers only prior to the film’s official release.

Additionally when I worked in the corporate office of a now-defunct computer reseller, I saw that the various computer and/or software companies that wanted the reseller to sell its products would either send free samples or send a sales rep to do a free demo of a product. None of those companies ever charged the computer reseller money for reviewing the product before deciding on whether it would sell that product.

The one big lesson I can impart here is this: If you get an invitation from any company to be its online brand ambassador, always do a quick Google search about the company first before accepting that invitation. Just typing in “NAME OF COMPANY reviews” in the search box (without the quotation marks while replacing the all caps with the company’s name) will do the trick. If the number of negative reviews outnumber the positive ones, do NOT deal with that company. Your banking and credit card accounts (as well as your online reputation) will thank you.

I’ll end this post with a list of links to blog posts about other people’s less-than-thrilling interactions with Mirina Collections/Nora NYC/Boho Queen Jewelry.

Boho Queen Jewelry: A Review

Product Review: Boho Queen Jewelry

Boho Queen Jewelry Storytime/Honest Review

Retraction: Mirina Collections & Nora NYC (Updated)

“Mirina Collections” LIES

I’m old enough to remember Oprah Winfrey back when she started as a local news anchor for WJZ-TV Channel 13 in Baltimore. She eventually went on to co-host a local daytime talk show at that same station called People Are Talking (with Richard Sher), which I used to watch with my grandmother (who watched me during the week while my parents both worked) whenever I was home on summer vacation.

I even saw both Oprah Winfrey and Richard Sher in person once when they made a live appearance at the since-demolished Harundale Mall in Glen Burnie. I happened to be going to the mall that day for a different reason (that I’ve long since forgotten) without knowing about them making a special appearance and I saw them there. (I know it was after I had gotten my drivers license because I remember being at that mall alone.) They were chatting with fans and signing autographs. I still remember Oprah Winfrey with the Afro hairstyle that she wore at the time and wearing some funky mod 1970s chic brown outfit with boots while Richard Sher looked relatively drab in a typical business suit and tie. While I thought it was cool seeing them in the flesh, I didn’t bother with getting an autograph because I felt that they were just a pair of local celebrities who weren’t well-known outside of the Baltimore metropolitan area. If Phil Donahue, who had one of the highest-rated nationwide daytime talk shows at the time, had been there I definitely would’ve made an effort to get an autograph from him.

I regretted that decision years later when Oprah left Baltimore for Chicago, where she began her solo daytime talk show and it was soon syndicated to other TV stations nationwide. She eventually became a bigger phenomenon than Phil Donahue (whom she would ultimately beat in the ratings for having the highest-rated nationwide talk show in the US). She also built her media empire (which includes her own cable channel and monthly magazine) and has appeared in a few movies.

A few nights ago Oprah Winfrey gave this rousing speech at the Golden Globe Awards.

I generally avoid award shows like the plague (because I personally find them to be exercises in boredom and tedium) so I didn’t hear about it until I was checking Facebook the next day. As the day went on I started seeing some of my Facebook friends posting “Oprah Winfrey for President in 2020” and “Oprah 2020.”

I’ll admit that, in some ways, Oprah would make a better president than Donald Trump. She grew up in poverty and had to overcome a lot of hurdles in her life and career as being both African American and a woman so she has more direct knowledge of what it’s like to grow up poor without white male privilege than Trump (who was born into a wealthy white family). She doesn’t openly throw tantrums on Twitter nor has she ever publicly resorted to name calling, unlike Trump. She would be less likely to engage in a childish pissing contest with nuclear weapons than Trump (who has bragged on Twitter about how his nuclear button is bigger and works better than North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s). She’s more well-spoken than Trump and I’d doubt she’d make up nonsensical English words like “covfefe” and “bigly.” While I’ve heard that Trump doesn’t even read books, Oprah Winfrey has not only read books but she used to have an ongoing book club on her old talk show where she would pick a book for people to read and she would devote episodes to discussing that book. And I think she would have a better work ethic because I don’t see her taking golfing trips every single weekend unlike Trump (who has taken more golfing trips in his first year of office than his predecessor, Barack Obama, did in his entire eight years in office).

I’ll also admit that it would be cool if someone whom I knew as a local Baltimore-area personality and saw once in person years ago would ultimately become President of the United States.

However, despite my past memories of Oprah Winfrey and my personal opinion about how she would be a step up from the orange-skinned buffoon who currently occupies the White House, I really can’t get behind the “Oprah 2020” movement at all. That’s because of the fact that she has the same problem that Donald Trump has: She has never held any kind of elected office before. That’s a serious handicap when it comes to the highest office in the land. Look at how Trump’s presidency has been adversely affected by his lack of previous experience as an elected official.

The only television talk show host who could even remotely be qualified for the White House that I could think of would be Jerry Springer and that’s because he once served as the mayor of Cincinnati before he began his television career. (However, that doesn’t mean I think he should run. Not only is there his less-than-stellar reputation stemming from his controversial talk show but he hasn’t held elected office since 1977.)

If Oprah Winfrey really wants to become president, she should start by getting elected to a lower office (such as a seat on the Chicago city council or as a representative in the Illinois state legislature) then moving up to a seat on the national level in either the Senate or the House of Representatives. If she does that, and if I like how she voted on the issues, I would definitely vote for her as the first female African American President of the United States.

Otherwise I would prefer someone with actual experience as an elected official. There are other African American women who would be more qualified for the White House than Oprah Winfrey simply because they are currently serving as elected officials, such as Maxine Waters and Nina Turner.

After all, just because someone gives a rousing speech at the Golden Globe Awards doesn’t mean that she is capable of being President of the United States. Giving great speeches and being able to run this country on a day-to-day basis (including dealing with Congress, signing bills into law, and trying to maintain relationships with different countries) are two different things.

Besides, haven’t this country learned from Donald Trump’s crazy first year in office about the pitfalls of electing a television personality with no previous elected political experience to the nation’s highest office?

UPDATE (January 10, 2018): The Washington Post has a list of some of the less savory things in Oprah’s past that could possibly haunt her on the campaign trail (such as her past friendship with Harvey Weinstein, who has been accused of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape) should she decide to run for president.

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