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For the second year in a row I took part in Maker Faire NoVa, which was held on the campus of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. Ironically, nearly a week after this event was held, I got word that the company that was responsible for Maker Faire NoVa and all of the other Maker Faires held all over the world, Maker Media, had abruptly shut down and laid off all of its staff. I’m glad that Maker Faire NoVa happened before the closing of Maker Media since there were so many people who took part in it.

I was working with Phil Shapiro, who had sent in three proposals to Maker Faire NoVa and they were all accepted. I was sent to work one of the booths—which was about how one can get a computer for $60 if other people in the community pool their money and buy used computers from a certain place in bulk. I decided to show off my book, The Cash-Strapped Person’s Guide to Thriving in the Digital Age, at that booth since the theme of my book dovetails nicely with the message of that booth. Here are a couple of sample books and a bunch of promo postcards I had printed up.

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

On the way to the event we stopped by this bicycle rack that was located in an office park because it looked pretty cool from the highway. They are bikes one can rent from a company called BECO bluebike.

On the Way to Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

One of Phil Shapiro’s proposals that Maker Faire NoVa had accepted was a demonstration for a new game that Phil had recently invented called Thunk. The next picture shows the props used in Thunk as they were loaded in the trunk of Phil’s car.

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

We arrived to see the statue of George Mason all decked out in steampunk clothing.

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

The next set of pictures show one of the booths that were assigned to Phil and it was also the same booth where I staffed. Like I wrote earlier, it was a display on how a group of people in the community could bulk order used computer equipment from certain companies and each person could end up with getting a decent Linux computer for $60. I also displayed my book and handed out postcards while I was there.

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

I had one of the computers run some of my animation files. (You can view the animation that’s depicted in this photograph right here.)

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

There was a display that had a couple of flyers regarding “The Most Affordable Computer.” One was information that Phil wrote about how it’s possible to get a computer legally for as low as $60. The other was an article that The Washington Post did about him back in the 1990s when he lived in Arlington and he would give used computer equipment a new home with low-income families.

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

I had my own book on display along with a promo postcard and the paper version of Phil’s proposal on how one can get an affordable computer.

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

The good news was that booth got plenty of attention. Now for the bad news: Because that booth was located near the larger information booth that’s located in the middle of the floor of the building that we were in, I was inundated with so many people asking me where a certain area was located or a certain building. I literally couldn’t answer people because I wasn’t among the organizers of Maker Faire NoVa and I’m not very familiar with the layout of George Mason University’s Fairfax campus. It got frustrating because these people weren’t interested in the topic of the display (I tried to hand out a few postcards and papers but to no avail) and I had to frequently point towards the information booth.

The second booth that Phil took out was on making 4K videos. He had lined up another friend who would staff it but that friend turned out to be a no-show. Unfortunately that second booth was located too far away from the booth that I was working at so I couldn’t even pull double duty and staff both at the same time. (I could have pulled it off it they were adjacent to each other instead of each being located about a 100 feet away.) Ultimately Phil decided to let that one go and take down the display a few hours early.

The third booth was located outside on the campus grounds. It was where Phil had demonstrated his game Thunk. Here’s a still photo of the booth setup.

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

I also shot a short video of the game Thunk in action as well as a few other displays that included a 3D-printed Rube Goldberg-style display, jugglers juggling balls, and robots (including ones that resembled R2-D2 from Star Wars).

Apparently the Thunk booth was the one that got the most attention, which was great for Phil. He shot his own videos of Thunk at the Maker Faire NoVa.

You can see other prototypes of his game in action on his YouTube channel right here and here.

There was even a book signing at Maker Faire NoVa. Sylvia Martinez was promoting her book Invent to Learn. Phil took time out from demonstrating his Thunk game to buy the book and have it signed by the author.

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

There were a variety of booths ranging from 3D printers to sewing to robots. I tried to visit as many of the booths I possibly could during breaks but that event was so massive that I’m sure I probably missed a few. The event was spread out to over three different buildings on campus plus there were booths set up on the grounds as well. I also saw plenty of people dressed in costumes—especially ones depicting various Star Wars characters.

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

This booth had an interesting idea: You can use a 3D printer to print the parts for your own 3D printer. In other words, you can use a 3D printer to make a new 3D printer.

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

There was an area where people of all ages were encourages to take apart various electronic devices in order to see how they work.

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

There was a re-creation of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor area done in LEGO.

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Someone had done a LEGO re-creation of Diagon Alley from the Harry Potter books, which even included the Knight Bus. The details of this display were really awesome to see in real life.

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

I also walked around campus where I saw a few interesting things, such as this statue.

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

The last three photos show the only thing I purchased at this year’s Maker Faire NoVa. It’s a handcrafted soap that has a rubber unicorn duck embedded in it. I paid $5 for it. It looks pretty small but I thought it was really pretty and I fell in love with it.

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

I did so much walking at that event that I was literally sore for the next two days. I didn’t begin to recover until the third day after Maker Faire NoVa. I really enjoyed this event as much as I did last year. Given the news of Maker Media’s demise, only time will tell if there will ever be another Maker Faire NoVa (or something similar with a different name).

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After being laid-off for a bit I started work again for the same person that went from late May through the month of June. The work itself is slightly different from what I was doing before. Each year, from late spring to early summer, she goes to her family’s cottage that’s located in one of the beaches in Connecticut, where she and her relatives work on getting the place ready to receive rentals during the summer months. Then she follows this by traveling to other locations where she speaks at a few big conferences that are about making electronic documents accessible to people with disabilities. She took her dogs with her on the trip but she needed someone to do things like fetch the mail, water the plants, and make sure there are no signs of a home break-in.

Part of my duty entailed going to the Takoma Park Post Office located in the downtown area and fetching mail from the post office box. While I was there I took a few quick snapshots.

The city had recently put up this blue music-themed bench that I thought looked very nice.

Inside someone’s yard I saw this whimsical statue of a smiling Buddha laying on his side.

There is the memorial that’s dedicated to a pet chicken known as Roscoe the Rooster. I’ve written about this memorial before but the one thing I’ve noticed is that every now and then an unidentified person will put something on the memorial like a mitten, a scarf or, in the case of the two photos below, a wreath of flowers.

Located in the parking lot by the Takoma Park Community Center is this very colorful electric car pump that has got to be the prettiest electric car pump that I’ve ever seen.

I also was playing around a bit with the Hatsune Miku photo app that I recently re-installed on my new smartphone. Here she is at the metal statue that’s located at the entrance to the Takoma-Piney Branch Park.

I was also visiting a friend who works at the Takoma Park Public Library that’s located within a short walking distance from the home that I was looking after. I shot some goofy Hatsune Miku shots in his office while he was using the restroom.

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When I was working at a job earlier this year, I noticed some really interesting public art and other things while I was commuting to and from my job in Takoma Park. Last month I finally got a chance to return to the area where I could leisurely pull over and look at these lesser-known attractions that are located on Piney Branch Road in the border area between Langley Park and Takoma Park.

First up is this sign for Al’s Auto Center. The design of that sign looks like something that was created in the 1950s. The sign includes an arrow that supposedly points to a place where you can buy a car.

But when you look in the direction of where the arrow is pointing, all you can see is an empty lot along with a fence.

If you look to the right you see a food truck.

Next to the food truck is a small shopping center that has a Total Wireless store and a liquor store.

Here’s another shot of the Al’s Automotive Center sign pointing to nowhere.

The front of the shopping center parking lot has this fence that features brightly colored stick figures engaging in such sports as volleyball, basketball, and baseball.

There is some more art at the intersection of Piney Branch Road and Flower Avenue with two large murals that are directly located across the street from each other on Piney Branch Road.

Closer to the intersection of Piney Branch Road and Flower Avenue is this sculpture featuring flowers (of course).

Across the street from the floral sculpture is another colorful wall mural featuring more flowers and insects.

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Why this Star Wars moviegoer really admires Luke Skywalker.

Hateful people are exhausting.

She encouraged a girl she babysat. Eleven years later she received a special thank you letter from the same girl.

Why we’re underestimating American collapse.

44 majestic facts about Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor.

Why you’ve never heard of the six Chinese men who survived the Titanic.

A former Amazon employee sheds light on the company’s dark side.

Ten stunning 3D prints in Polyamide (SLS).

Woman finds ring filled with Charlotte Brontë’s hair and is now $26,000 richer.

Embroidery tattoos are actually a thing and they look realistic.

Doctor Who fan builds TARDIS-inspired free library in Detroit.

Woman takes anti-selfies stance by “dying” at famous landmarks and they are strangely hilarious.

LEGO funeral set exists to help children learn about death.

Historical colorized pictures show Native Americans at the White House for receiving full U.S. citizenship in the 1920s.

The first inhabitants of Asia were black.

When Charlie Chaplin entered a Chaplin lookalike contest and came in 20th place.

Leonardo da Vinci’s earliest notebooks are now digitized and made free online.

The little-known Underground Railroad that ran south to Mexico.

A rare interview with the woman who inspired David Bowie to write and record his song “Life on Mars.”

The founder of Chicago, Illinois was a Haitian man named Jean-Baptist-Point Du Sable.

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One evening I went to a meet-up that was put on by HacDC. It was both a networking event and something that was touted as a Tech Circus where various people showed off their latest creations. It was basically a smaller version of a Maker Faire.

The event took place in Dupont Circle at the Dupont Underground, which was once an underground trolley station a long time ago.

HACDC Tech Circus

HACDC Tech Circus

HACDC Tech Circus

HACDC Tech Circus

I remember when it was opened briefly back in the 1990s. At the time it was constructed as a trendy food court. I went there only once, found that the food was overpriced compared to what you can get in the suburbs, and I never went back. The place closed down not too long afterwards my one and only visit.

Now there is a second attempt to revive that abandoned underground trolley station, this time as an art space. There is a giant graffiti along one of the back walls.

HACDC Tech Circus

I eventually arrived at the HacDC Tech Circus where I saw all kinds of tech on display.

HACDC Tech Circus

The event started with the showing of a silent movie that was accompanied by some modern music that was composed on the computer. I didn’t know that there was going to be a movie or else I would not have arrived towards the end of it. I managed to get this shot, though.

HACDC Tech Circus

There were LEGOs for anyone who wanted to do some building. I didn’t see anyone play with them so they remained in their box. (The Tech Circus was basically an adult event.)

HACDC Tech Circus

This next shot shows how well-attended the event was.

HACDC Tech Circus

The displays included virtual reality, laser cutting, screen printing, button making, and 3D printing.

HACDC Tech Circus

HACDC Tech Circus

HACDC Tech Circus

HACDC Tech Circus

HACDC Tech Circus

HACDC Tech Circus

HACDC Tech Circus

HACDC Tech Circus

HACDC Tech Circus

HACDC Tech Circus

HACDC Tech Circus

HACDC Tech Circus

HACDC Tech Circus

HACDC Tech Circus

HACDC Tech Circus

HACDC Tech Circus

HACDC Tech Circus

HACDC Tech Circus

HACDC Tech Circus

HACDC Tech Circus

HACDC Tech Circus

HACDC Tech Circus

HACDC Tech Circus

HACDC Tech Circus

HACDC Tech Circus

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I first met Baby Rafael’s parents last year before they got married and before his mother got pregnant soon after the wedding. I met them through the Greenbelt Makerspace, which recently moved out of its current space and it’s currently on hiatus. His mother especially used to turn up at the Fiber Fans Night when it was held at the Greenbelt Makerspace.

I saw Rafael’s photos on Facebook soon after he was born but I hadn’t met him in person until last month when his parents decided to take him to Roosevelt Center where they were meeting with other parents of young children outside. So I took this initial photo of him in his stroller.

Here’s a photo of him in sunglasses. His mom told me that ever since she posted a photo of her son in sunglasses on Facebook she has had friends and relatives give her sunglasses for the baby because they felt that he looked so cute wearing them. I have to admit that he reminded me of Snoopy as Joe Cool in that photo I shot of him in his sunglasses.

I was on my way to the Fiber Fans group, which is currently meeting at the New Deal Cafe when I saw Rafael in person. I told his mother that she might want to bring Rafael over to the cafe once they’re done socializing with the other parents and young children. About an hour later both parents arrived with Rafael. We all took turns holding the baby. Rafael was really alert and interested in his new surroundings. He was constantly turning his head every which way so he could see everything as much as possible.

The last photo is of a diorama that someone did of the New Deal Cafe using Peeps. I thought it was incredibly cute.

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Ramadan

I spent May Day doing a special freelance project for a friend at his workplace in Takoma Park, Maryland. (I’m not going to write too much about this project at this point because it’s still pretty much a work in progress.) During breaks I walked around outside enjoying the warm spring air.

The Takoma Park Public Library is part of a larger complex known as the Takoma Park Community Center. In addition to the library there is also a police station on the lower level, conference rooms, classrooms, a youth center, and an art gallery (featuring works by local artists). Outside of the building is a community garden area.

Located at the concrete stairwell leading to the entrances to the police station are these colorful wall murals.

Located adjacent to the Takoma Park Community Center complex is the Takoma-Piney Branch Park, which has flowers planted nearby in full bloom.

The entrance to this park has a metal sculpture that looks very flowery.

When I was there I saw this boy kicking a soccer ball around on the field.

And this little girl was taking advantage of the recent rainstorms to make some mud pies.

This sign definitely points out why people should not be smoking in the park.

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Ramadan

Last fall I accompanied my friend Phil Shapiro to my first-ever Edcamp that was held at Loyola College’s Columbia campus. It was an interesting experience, as you can see from the photos I shot that day. Phil urged me to go to another Edcamp that was being held closer to home. This one has more of a maker focus and it was called Maker Edcamp. It was held at Capital City Public Charter School in Washington, DC.

So I went there. Compared to the earlier Edcamp, this one drew fewer participants. A high point of that event was getting the chance to see this makerspace that was set up in the school. The makerspace is in a relatively small room that’s located on the upper level of the school library. I managed to take this panoramic shot of the entire area.

Maker Edcamp, April 27, 2019

The room may have been small but it was packed full of all kinds of tools and supplies.

Maker Edcamp, April 27, 2019

Maker Edcamp, April 27, 2019

Maker Edcamp, April 27, 2019

Maker Edcamp, April 27, 2019

This 3D printer model was interesting because I learned that some of the parts were actually printed on a different 3D printer. Yep, it’s a 3D printer that was partially printed on a 3D printer.

Maker Edcamp, April 27, 2019

Maker Edcamp, April 27, 2019

Maker Edcamp, April 27, 2019

Maker Edcamp, April 27, 2019

Maker Edcamp, April 27, 2019

There were also a few projects on display that were made by the students.

Maker Edcamp, April 27, 2019

Maker Edcamp, April 27, 2019

Maker Edcamp, April 27, 2019

Maker Edcamp, April 27, 2019

Maker Edcamp, April 27, 2019

There were also some inspirational sayings that were posted throughout the makerspace and the school library itself.

Maker Edcamp, April 27, 2019

Maker Edcamp, April 27, 2019

Maker Edcamp, April 27, 2019

Maker Edcamp, April 27, 2019

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Ramadan

Last month I decided to make my first trip to Tyson’s Corner Mall of 2019. As I was walking the skybridge from the Metro station to the mall I took this shot of the painted roadways outside of that mall.

As I was walking towards Metro Plaza on the way to the mall I saw this family where the women were all wearing traditional Muslim dress (like hijabs). These days there have been an increase in anti-Islamic bias (which has definitely accelerated since Donald Trump became president). It’s a testament to the resilience of this country when there are still people who are willing to publicly wear traditional outfits despite the Islamophobia that’s swirling around in this country.

I went inside of the mall. I briefly stopped by The Microsoft Store where I saw this kid testing out the Xbox.

I walked past this store called Aēsop that I hadn’t seen before on previous visits. At first I thought it might be a bookstore since the name reminded me of how I used to love reading Aesop’s Fables as a child. But, no, it’s a skin care place that sells expensive lotions. The store provided free samples of its hand cream outside of the door.

Of course I stopped by the American Girl Place. I saw that they had some new outfits for Nanea Mitchell, who’s the historical 1941 doll who lives in Hawaii around the time of the Pearl Harbor bombing.

The historical 1970s doll, Julie Albright, has some basketball-related accessories, which is appropriate since she managed to integrate the formerly all-male basketball team at her school. This also brought back memories of when I did that multiple-part review series of her books a few years ago.

I noticed one thing that has changed in recent years. There was a time when the Girl of the Year doll would be released on January 1 then officially retired on December 31 so she would be available for only one year. Last year I noticed that they extended the 2017 Girl of the Year, Gabriela McBride, a few months past the end of 2017 and she wasn’t retired until well into 2018. I noticed that they’ve done the same with the 2018 Girl of the Year, Luciana Vega. So, as of this writing, it’s not too late for anyone to buy her or her accessories.

I have already written extensively about Luciana last year so I’m not going to devote more space to her this time around.

As for this year’s Girl of the Year, well that’s a different story. The latest Girl of the Year is Blaire Wilson, who’s described as a girl whose family runs a farm that also serves as a bed and breakfast. She loves to cook yet has been diagnosed as lactose-intolerant. You can learn more about her story right here.

I find Blaire to be very cute and I totally adore her long reddish hair.

If it weren’t for the $115 price tag and the fact that I don’t have infinite space in my home, I might have been tempted to buy her on impulse. But I’m cash-strapped and have to make a great effort to keep clutter to a minimum so I’m going to have to pass on her. I like the illustration on the cover of her book below. Heck, I might check the book out of the local library at some later date but reading it is not really a major priority in my life.

Blaire has a variety of outfits that are sold separately with prices starting at $30. There are some matching human children’s clothing as well so young girls and their Blair dolls can dress alike.

Since Blaire lives on a farm, there are plenty of farm-related accessories sold separately, including animals. Blaire’s Garden, which is shown below, can be yours for only $50.

There is Blaire’s Party Décor, which costs $85. I have to admit that the cake looks very realistic.

The store currently has a Blaire-themed display where people can have their pictures taken.

The largest item in Blaire’s line is Blaire’s Family Farm Restaurant, which costs a whopping $300.

This set includes plastic pretend food, which looks very realistic.

This set does have very tiny details that are reminiscent of another item that American Girl Place sold back in 2015. It was sold in conjunction with Grace Thomas (who was the Girl of the Year at the time) and it was called Grace’s French Bakery. It was a $500 bakery set that had all kinds of bells and whistles. Blaire’s Family Farm Restaurant has only slightly fewer bells and whistles than Grace’s French Bakery (which explains why it is $200 cheaper) but the details are nonetheless still impressive, such as this sink, which has a tiny bottle of dishwashing liquid.

Here is how one of the plates from that set fits into my hand.

American Girl is also selling more and more boy dolls as part of its Truly Me line. To be honest, the boy dolls don’t really impress me too much, especially with that $115 price tag.

Here’s a last shot of two Truly Me dolls in a pretend pool. I briefly went gaga over the inflatable unicorn ring but, to be honest, anything from American Girl is definitely out of my budget right now.


Another place that is also out of my budget is this place called Sawadika Ice Cream, which specializes in creating Asian-style ice cream that looks incredibly artistic to look at. I took a free sample and the ice cream tasted fantastic. But I had to reluctantly pass on it because of finances.

I went to that mall before Easter. It’s normal to see Peeps in the stores. It’s also normal to see the Easter Bunny at the mall waiting to talk to kids and have his picture taken with them. This was the first time I saw the two combine to a special Peeps Easter Bunny area where kids can gaze at this Peeps-themed spring garden and have their photos taken with the Easter Bunny. That area was so colorful that it looked like a cross between the old board game Candyland. and the 1970s children’s television series H.R. Putnstuf.

I came upon this kiosk that sold something called Bliss in a Bottle. The idea is that a bottle of wine is dipped into chocolate so the bottle is coated in chocolate. The person would drink wine while eating the chocolate coating at the same time. It looks so totally decadent but it’s completely out of my price range.

I checked out The LEGO Store where I saw that they now have a LEGO set based on The Flintstones. Wow! I remember when I used to watch reruns of that show every day on TV when I was growing up.

They also had a black-and-white set based on the Mickey Mouse cartoon short Steamboat Willie, which looked pretty awesome!

They also had this statue made completely out of LEGO bricks that depicted a man dressed in a shark costume.

For dinner I treated myself to a sushi meal at Wasabi. I love seeing the food delivered on a conveyor belt and all you have to do is pick the food plate that you want to eat. The food was excellent as usual. The price is a bit on the expensive side (I spent $30 that night) so I limit myself to going there only once or twice a year. I had a job until I was laid-off recently so I felt that I was entitled to have one nice meal before I tighten my belt and start being obsessive about spending as little money as possible. If things improve for me financially I might go to Wasabi one more time in the fall or winter. Otherwise, I’ll have to savor memories of that meal until 2020 at the earliest.

After dinner I went to GameStop where I saw this mashup of Funko Pop and Pez that resulted in this unique head based on Sonic the Hedgehog.

I saw this giant sign announcing that 7Eleven is going to move into the mall soon.

I briefly stopped in The Disney Store where I saw these cute Easter plushies featuring Stitch and Angel dressed as Easter Bunnies while holding smaller plushies like a lamb and a chick. How cute!

The most unusual thing I saw at Tyson’s Corner was this sheep statue that had LED lights in various colors.

This sign was encouraging people to hop on the sheep’s back. After I took these photos, I saw a guy who did just that while taking a selfie.

The name of this statue was called iSheep and it was partially funded by the Burning Man, which is that annual festival that is held in the Nevada desert.

There were signs encouraging people to follow sheep tracks that began near the iSheep statue.

The tracks ended at this locked storefront that was called BrandBox. The doors were locked so I had to make do with taking these photos.

I later looked online and saw that BrandBox is a store where certain items that are usually available online only are available for sale on the store shelves. I guess this place is only opened on the weekends since I went to Tyson’s Corner on a Tuesday. I generally prefer to go to Tyson’s Corner either on a weekday or on a Sunday because that place turns into a totally crowded zoo on Fridays and Saturdays. Okay so there is one disadvantage of going to Tyson’s Corner on a weekday. LOL!

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Ramadan

I have long been a regular visitor at Behnke’s Nurseries in Beltsville, Maryland ever since I got married and moved closer to Washington, DC. I can’t even tell you how much money I have spent over the years because I’ve purchased so many plants and other related items. I’ve devoted plenty of posts in this blog to Behnke’s over the years.

I used to have a regular tradition where I would visit Behnke’s annual Christmas Shop at least once in December and I would take pictures. I last made such a visit in 2017. Last year I didn’t bother much with Christmas other than put up my small artificial tree about a few days before December 25. I really wasn’t feeling the holiday spirit because I had gone through an entire year struggling with finances that was a horrible combination of not finding anyone willing to hire me and my ex-husband deciding to follow the letter of the court decision and end alimony payments. (I even wrote him an email begging him to extend the payments for just a few months longer because I was having a hard time finding work and he refused. He wrote this email using formal language that was more like a boss writing to an employee than a man writing to someone whom he once called his wife. That was more evidence that he never really loved me in the first place and basically lied to me all those years when he said that he did love me but that’s another story.) At one point I almost lost my home because I was having a hard time paying the monthly co-op fees. I had to accept charity for the first time in my life and I ended up getting a housemate to move in with me.

I thought that it was no big deal to skip going to Behnke’s this Christmas because I could always go next Christmas.

Except there will be no next Christmas. After being in business for 89 years, Behnke’s Nurseries will close for good in June. The main reason given is that Behnke’s has long been a family-owned business even since a German immigrant founded around the time of the Great Depression. The current generation running the business is ready to retire and there is no one among the younger generation who is willing to take the business over.

I decided to make one more trip and take a bunch of pictures for posterity while Behnke’s is still in business.

Behnke's Going Out of Business Sale

Behnke's Going Out of Business Sale

Behnke's Going Out of Business Sale

Behnke's Going Out of Business Sale

Behnke's Going Out of Business Sale

Behnke's Going Out of Business Sale

Behnke's Going Out of Business Sale

Behnke's Going Out of Business Sale

Behnke's Going Out of Business Sale

Behnke's Going Out of Business Sale

Behnke's Going Out of Business Sale

Behnke's Going Out of Business Sale

That place was very crowded when I was there. I saw plenty of customers talking to the red shirted employees who will have to look for new jobs soon.

Behnke's Going Out of Business Sale

Behnke's Going Out of Business Sale

Behnke’s was selling everything, including Christmas decorations.

Behnke's Going Out of Business Sale

Behnke's Going Out of Business Sale

Behnke's Going Out of Business Sale

Behnke's Going Out of Business Sale

Behnke's Going Out of Business Sale

The checkout lines were incredibly long. I saw people spending hundreds of dollars buying a full cart full of garden-related stuff.

Behnke's Going Out of Business Sale

Behnke's Going Out of Business Sale

There was a one-horse open sleigh that was available for sale.

Behnke's Going Out of Business Sale

Behnke's Going Out of Business Sale

I laughed at that humorous sign at this empty table that once held Venus Fly Traps. (I assumed that they were sold out since I didn’t see any for sale.) The sign read: “STOP!!! If you are not a fly, do not trigger the fly traps, as this will cause them to digest themselves and eventually die. If you are a fly, please ignore this message and proceed with caution.”

Behnke's Going Out of Business Sale

Behnke's Going Out of Business Sale

Behnke's Going Out of Business Sale

I only purchased three things at Behnke’s that day—two African violets and an aloe vera plant.

Behnke's Going Out of Business Sale

Behnke's Going Out of Business Sale

Behnke's Going Out of Business Sale

Behnke's Going Out of Business Sale

Behnke's Going Out of Business Sale

The one thing I’ll miss the most is this giant stone head that had plants growing from top. Unfortunately the plants had been trimmed way back in this picture. You can see what the head looks like when the plants are allowed to grow long in this blog post that I wrote back in 2015 (which includes a watercolor I did of that head based on my photographs).

Behnke's Going Out of Business Sale

Behnke's Going Out of Business Sale

Behnke's Going Out of Business Sale

The store exit had long had two American flags posted over the doors with a sign saying “FARE THEE WELL.” That display now takes on a new meaning with Behnke’s going out of business.

Behnke's Going Out of Business Sale

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