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For the past couple of years I’ve been taking the Gateway Arts Open Studio Tour and I’ve been blogging about these tours in May, 2016; December, 2016; and May, 2017. For this year’s tour there was some Facebook drama. From what I was told, the people who organized the previous Open Studio Tours had been dragging its feet about organizing a new tour for 2018 so some of the artists who had participated in the previous tours decided to take it upon themselves to organize their own art tour that was scheduled for the day before Mother’s Day. The organizers of the Open Studio Tours realized that they were lax about organizing a tour for this year so they decided to organize an official tour that would coincide with Mount Rainier Day (which is an annual neighborhood celebration) on the following Saturday while putting out promo materials claiming that this year’s walk would be a two consecutive Saturday walk beginning with the one that the artists themselves had organized on the day before Mother’s Day.

So naturally there were accusations of cooption. On top of it some artists questioned the wisdom of scheduling the second Open Studio Tour on the same weekend as Mount Rainier Day because it might draw crowds away from the artist studios who happened to be located in towns north of Mount Rainier (such as Hyattsville and Brentwood). Some artists decided not to participate in the second Saturday’s Open Studio Tour while others decided to participate on both Saturdays.

As for me, I wasn’t able to make it to the first Saturday’s Open Studio Tour because I had opted to attend the Greenbelt Green Man Festival, which was scheduled the same weekend. I was amazed at reading all of the Facebook drama but I ended up going to the Open Studio Tour on the second Saturday mainly because I’ve enjoyed the previous ones. The silver lining to all of this controversy is that, thanks to the artist boycott of the second Saturday tour, it made my decision as to which studios to actually visit much easier.

The only downside is that it had been raining that day. Fortunately it wasn’t raining too heavily so I was able to carry my umbrella, which I used at times. There were also times when there was no rain at all. At least you know why all of the outdoor photos I took that day featured clouds and wet ground.

I also must warn you that there are some images in this post that are definitely NSFW.

What I saw at the Gateway Open Studio Tour in Hyattsville and Mount Rainier, Maryland on May 19, 2018. #OST2018

I first stopped at the Renaissance Gallery in Hyattsville.

What I saw at the Gateway Open Studio Tour in Hyattsville and Mount Rainier, Maryland on May 19, 2018. #OST2018

The Renaissance Gallery is located on the lower level of the Renaissance Square Artists Housing, which provides affordable housing for working artists.

What I saw at the Gateway Open Studio Tour in Hyattsville and Mount Rainier, Maryland on May 19, 2018. #OST2018

What I saw at the Gateway Open Studio Tour in Hyattsville and Mount Rainier, Maryland on May 19, 2018. #OST2018

Renaissance Gallery features the art of Pepe Piedra, who is a painter.

What I saw at the Gateway Open Studio Tour in Hyattsville and Mount Rainier, Maryland on May 19, 2018. #OST2018

What I saw at the Gateway Open Studio Tour in Hyattsville and Mount Rainier, Maryland on May 19, 2018. #OST2018

What I saw at the Gateway Open Studio Tour in Hyattsville and Mount Rainier, Maryland on May 19, 2018. #OST2018

 

What I saw at the Gateway Open Studio Tour in Hyattsville and Mount Rainier, Maryland on May 19, 2018. #OST2018

Pepe Piedra can be seen painting at his easel in the next photograph.

What I saw at the Gateway Open Studio Tour in Hyattsville and Mount Rainier, Maryland on May 19, 2018. #OST2018

Afterwards I drove south to Brentwood, where I visited the art that was on display at the Brentwood Arts Exchange.

What I saw at the Gateway Open Studio Tour in Brentwood, Maryland on May 19, 2018. #OST2018

What I saw at the Gateway Open Studio Tour in Brentwood, Maryland on May 19, 2018. #OST2018

What I saw at the Gateway Open Studio Tour in Brentwood, Maryland on May 19, 2018. #OST2018

What I saw at the Gateway Open Studio Tour in Brentwood, Maryland on May 19, 2018. #OST2018

What I saw at the Gateway Open Studio Tour in Brentwood, Maryland on May 19, 2018. #OST2018

What I saw at the Gateway Open Studio Tour in Brentwood, Maryland on May 19, 2018. #OST2018

What I saw at the Gateway Open Studio Tour in Brentwood, Maryland on May 19, 2018. #OST2018

What I saw at the Gateway Open Studio Tour in Brentwood, Maryland on May 19, 2018. #OST2018

What I saw at the Gateway Open Studio Tour in Brentwood, Maryland on May 19, 2018. #OST2018

What I saw at the Gateway Open Studio Tour in Brentwood, Maryland on May 19, 2018. #OST2018

What I saw at the Gateway Open Studio Tour in Brentwood, Maryland on May 19, 2018. #OST2018

Located on the upper level of the Brentwood Arts Exchange Building is the 39th Street Gallery and Studios, which is a separate gallery/studio that featured even more art, including paintings of the famous artist Frida Kahlo.

What I saw at the Gateway Open Studio Tour in Brentwood, Maryland on May 19, 2018. #OST2018

What I saw at the Gateway Open Studio Tour in Brentwood, Maryland on May 19, 2018. #OST2018

What I saw at the Gateway Open Studio Tour in Brentwood, Maryland on May 19, 2018. #OST2018

What I saw at the Gateway Open Studio Tour in Hyattsville and Mount Rainier, Maryland on May 19, 2018. #OST2018

What I saw at the Gateway Open Studio Tour in Brentwood, Maryland on May 19, 2018. #OST2018

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

Next I drove less than a mile north of the Brentwood Arts Exchange where I went to ezStorage.

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

ezStorage is a nationwide chain of storage facilities. What makes the Brentwood, Maryland location of ezStorage unique is that it has allowed artists to operate studios on the lower level of the building. Some of the studios were closed that day because some of the artists had opted to boycott the second Saturday of the Open Studio Tour.

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

There was one studio that closed early due to a family emergency.

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

There were a couple of available spaces where one can set up his/her own art studio.

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

There were a couple of ezStorage studios that were opened that day and I was fortunate to be able to see some of the art that was created in that location.

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

I drove on south until I reached Mount Rainier, where the traffic was clogged because it was also Mount Rainier Day. I managed to find parking a few blocks away from the main action on Route 1 so it was okay.

I was initially surprised to find that ReCreative Spaces was on the list of participants in the Open Studio Tour because I was told that the place had to close down earlier this year because operating it wasn’t sustainable.

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

I went inside to find two people associated with ReCreative Spaces who told me that the person who was in charge of the place has since moved on but there are new people who are thinking of ways to somehow revive the place. ReCreative Spaces had some art on display but it was all on the lower level. The place was empty of most furniture and there was nothing on the upper level. Only time will tell whether ReCreative Spaces will be revived to its former glory or not. At least the art that was on display that day looked nice.

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

I went on to the Gateway Media Arts Lab, which had a variety of art on display by local artists.

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

I saw portraits of famous people like Prince, Tupac Shakur, and Redd Foxx.

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

I also saw more art based on Frida Kahlo.

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

I also saw this mixed-media art piece featuring a Barbie doll and the Minions from the Despicable Me movies.

Gateway Open Studios Tour, May 19, 2018

The last place I visited on the Open Studio Tour was at Joe’s Movement Emporium, which has this gorgeous butterfly mural outside its doors.

Gateway Open Studio Tour, May 19, 2018

I didn’t stay long in Joe’s Movement Emporium because it was towards the end of the day and I really needed to use the bathroom. I managed to view the art that was on display in the hallway.

Gateway Open Studio Tour, May 19, 2018

While I was in Mount Rainier I checked out Mount Rainier Day, which is an annual neighborhood celebration. There were activities for children, live performances, and people walking around dressed up as Mickey Mouse and Spider-Man.

Mount Rainier Day

Mount Rainier Day

Mount Rainier Day

Mount Rainier Day

Mount Rainier Day

Mount Rainier Day

Mount Rainier Day

Mount Rainier Day

Mount Rainier Day

Mount Rainier Day

One of the lanes that comprise Route 1 was temporarily shut down in order to make room for vendor booths which sold a variety of handcrafted goods and services. That turned into a traffic snarl as the cars had to share one of the lanes for the duration of the festival. But there were a variety of nice stuff available for sale.

Mount Rainier Day

Mount Rainier Day

Mount Rainier Day

Mount Rainier Day

The Mount Rainier Public Library was actually giving away free books to anyone who was passing by.

Mount Rainier Day

I browsed the tables until I found a copy of Marguerite Henry’s classic book Misty of Chincoteague. I read that book as a child (along with its sequels Sea Star: Orphan of Chincoteague and Stormy, Misty’s Foal) and I loved it. I had also made numerous visits to what the books says is the birthplace of Misty, Assateague Island. (Although the official Misty of Chincoteague site said that the real-life Misty was born in captivity in Chincoteague.) In any case, you can see the Misty of Chincoteague book among the pile of books waiting to be taken away to new homes.

Mount Rainier Day

I had a good day walking the Open Studio Tour despite the Facebook drama. Hopefully there will be another Open Studio Tour next year with less online drama than this year.

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Ramadan

Last month I went to Baltimore so I could check out Light City for the third year in a row. (You can read about my previous visits in 2016 and 2017.) The first year I went I basically just took the Charm City Circulator bus as far as the Shake Shack (which is located across from Harborplace) and I underestimated how big this festival was. The second year I had an animation that was showing at Light City so I took the Charm City Circulator until I got to a stop that was as close to the On Demand area (where my animation was being shown along with other film shorts) and I still have memories of sitting outside for two hours waiting for my animation to show up on screen as the temperature kept on getting colder and colder as time went on.

This year I decided not to submit anything to Light City so I could begin my tour anywhere. I also ended up going on the last night of Light City. I couldn’t get there earlier in the month due to scheduling conflicts so the final night was my first and last time that I visited Light City 2018.

I had the idea of taking the Charm City Circulator all the way over to the other side of the Inner Harbor near where Little Italy is located. When I arrived I found that this area has been heavily built up. There’s a new complex called Harbor East and I took some photos there along with some photos of Little Italy. I took so many photos that day that I decided to break up this year’s Baltimore/Light City entry into two separate posts. First I’m going to show the photos I took when I first arrived in Baltimore before I showed up at Light City.

I drove my car to Linthicum and stopped at a Royal Farms store so I could pick up a chicken dinner and a diet soda for only $7. (I know from previous years that many of the restaurants, fast food outlets, and food tents tend to draw very long lines during Light City. It was easier to bring my own food to Light City.) I parked my car at the North Linthicum light rail station and took the train to the Camden Yards station. When I arrived at the front gates of Camden Yards on my way to the nearest Charm City Circulator bus stop I saw that a Baltimore Orioles baseball game was already underway.

Camden Yards

Camden Yards

Camden Yards

I took the Charm City Circulator’s Orange Line bus to the Little Italy stop. I didn’t do much exploring in Little Italy other than the peripheral area, where I shot these photos.

Little Italy

Little Italy

Little Italy

When I was younger and I still lived with my parents, my family used to periodically eat at a restaurant in Little Italy. (We used to alternate between Sabatino’s and Chipparelli’s—both of which are still in business.) I have never dined inside of La Tavola restaurant but I found their exterior wall murals to be charming.

Little Italy

This restaurant features some cool trompe l’oeil in its fake “windows.”

Little Italy

Little Italy

La Tavola isn’t the only place with colorful wall murals. Mo’s Fisherman’s Wharf also has some cool exterior touches.

Mo's Fisherman's Wharf, Baltimore, Maryland

Mo's Fisherman's Wharf, Baltimore, Maryland

I came across Columbus Piazza where this statue of Christopher Columbus stands. I know that in recent years Columbus has become such an increasingly polarizing figure that some places in the U.S. have renamed “Columbus Day” as “Indigenous People’s Day.”

Columbus Piazza, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

I also walked past the President Street Station, which is the oldest surviving big-city railroad terminal but it now houses the Baltimore Civil War Museum.

Baltimore Civil War Museum

Baltimore Civil War Museum

I would’ve loved to have gone inside but it had already closed for the day when I arrived.

Baltimore Civil War Museum

Baltimore Civil War Museum

Here’s a jarring juxtaposition between the older President Street Station (foreground) and the newer Harbor East complex (background).

Baltimore Civil War Museum

I remember when that area near Little Italy had a lot of construction going on over the past few years. It was the first time I came upon the result of all of that construction: Harbor East. This place is a mix of upscale restaurants and shops and upscale apartments and condos.

Harbor East, April 28, 2018

Harbor East, April 28, 2018

Harbor East, April 28, 2018

Harbor East, April 28, 2018

This place has security, which uses vehicles that looks like a cross between a scooter and a Segway.

Harbor East, April 28, 2018

Harbor East, April 28, 2018

Harbor East, April 28, 2018

Some of the buildings in Harbor East is waterfront property, complete with its own marina. There are also some available activities for the people ranging from sitting at an outdoor bar and/or restaurant to playing with a giant chess set.

Harbor East, April 28, 2018

Harbor East, April 28, 2018

A major high point of my visit to Harbor East was finding out that Charm City Cakes has opened a second bakery there.

Charm City Cakes at Harbor East, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Charm City Cakes’ original location on Remington Avenue was the setting for the Food Network’s reality series Ace of Cakes. That was one of the few reality shows I watched on a regular basis because the focus was more on the cake making process with very little of the hysteric drama that frequently plague most reality TV shows. I remember being sad when that show was cancelled because I really enjoyed seeing the employees create those unique one-of-a-kind cakes that were gorgeous to look at.

Charm City Cakes at Harbor East, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Charm City Cakes at Harbor East, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

The baked goods that were on sale that day looked delicious.

Charm City Cakes at Harbor East, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

I was a bit on the broke side so I could only afford to purchase a small bag of chocolate chocolate chip cookies for $2. I found them to be very tasty.

Charm City Cakes at Harbor East, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Charm City Cakes at Harbor East, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Located in the center of Harbor East is the National Katyń Memorial, which is dedicated to the Poles who were brutally mass-slaughtered by the Soviet Secret Police (NKVD) during World War II.

The National Katyń Memorial, Baltimore, Maryland, April 21, 2018

The National Katyń Memorial, Baltimore, Maryland, April 21, 2018

The National Katyń Memorial, Baltimore, Maryland, April 21, 2018

The National Katyń Memorial, Baltimore, Maryland, April 21, 2018

The National Katyń Memorial, Baltimore, Maryland, April 21, 2018

I would’ve loved to have explored more in both Little Italy and Harbor East but I had come late in the day because I wanted to check out Light City. I will have to make a return trip to that area at a later date because I have a feeling that there is more to check out in that area.

I moved on to Light City, which I’m going to write about in a future post.

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Ramadan

CDs and vinyl are outselling digital downloads for the first time since 2011.

Here who isn’t winning from denuclearization talks and friendlier North Korea-South Korea relations.

This delightful magpie puppet is carved from wood.

Our president ignores an American hero: Trump’s silence on the Waffle House murders is deafening.

One pro-Trump avatar troll hacked the Instagram account of another avatar.

An abandoned radio station is an untouched time capsule from the 1940s.

Workers at Chinese factory for Ivanka Trump’s clothing paid $62 a week.

Secretly taped audio reveals Democratic leadership pressuring progressives to leave the primary race.

Global clothing company Patagonia donated its entire $10 million Black Friday sales to environmental organizations.

Meet the man who wrote “Conjunction Junction” and other Schoolhouse Rock songs that stick in your head.

Ancient Rome’s systems of roads visualized in the style of modern subway maps.

This writer explains the downside of writing for The Huffington Post for exposure instead of money.

A look at a new memorial for the victims of lynching.

That creepy abandoned Wizard of Oz theme park in North Carolina is reopening this summer.

Why we need to get over our obsession with the Joker.

Back in 1933 Frida Kahlo wrote a personal letter to Georgia O’Keeffe after O’Keeffe’s nervous breakdown.

Hackers can freeze the camera that lets you know whether your Amazon Key equipped door is locked and who is using it.

A visual guide to the potential ecological disaster of Trump’s proposed border wall.

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Ramadan

This year I took part in the Greenbelt Spring Maker Festival, which was put on by the Greenbelt Makerspace in Greenbelt, Maryland. The weather was warm yet windy. (At one point a guy who had his table next to mine had mounted his iPad on a tripod. He had to leave his table for a moment and a gust of wind blew over the entire tripod—iPad included—and smashed the glass on the screen.) Here is my vending area at the festival.

Greenbelt Spring Maker Festival, April 14, 2018

Greenbelt Spring Maker Festival, April 14, 2018

Greenbelt Spring Maker Festival, April 14, 2018

Yes, I used Giant’s off-brand version of Oreos to entice visitors to my area. (LOL!)

Greenbelt Spring Maker Festival, April 14, 2018

The thrift shop Barbies that I refurbished as Fairy dolls made their appearance along with other arts and crafts I have done in the past.

Greenbelt Spring Maker Festival, April 14, 2018

Greenbelt Spring Maker Festival, April 14, 2018

I brought back the doll couch that I made from a broken Dance Dance Revolution dance pad. I had two American Girl dolls—Julie Albright and Addy Walker—sit on the couch along with a stuffed lion that I got from Build-a-Bear Workshop. (I wanted to show that this couch could seat stuffed animals as well as dolls.)

Greenbelt Spring Maker Festival, April 14, 2018

A Barbie doll models this “fur” coat that I knitted using fur yarn.

Greenbelt Spring Maker Festival, April 14, 2018

I attempted to do a live demonstration at my booth where I would crochet a small amigurumi bunny rabbit. I had this ambition that I would finish the rabbit by the end of the festival. Well, I ended not finishing it mainly because I had to tend to people who were browsing my table and there were times when I toured the rest of the festival. I would finish it later on.

Greenbelt Spring Maker Festival, April 14, 2018

Greenbelt Spring Maker Festival, April 14, 2018

Here are my photos of the rest of the festival which I took while I was going to and from the bathroom. There were 3D printers that printed various 3D items, musicians playing live on stage, children playing with Legos, woodworkers, a sewing demonstration, numerous computer demonstrations, and an information table that dealt with things like composting. There were vendors that sold jewelry, knitted hats with matching knitted scarves, and ceramics.

Greenbelt Spring Maker Festival, April 14, 2018

Greenbelt Spring Maker Festival, April 14, 2018

Greenbelt Spring Maker Festival, April 14, 2018

Greenbelt Spring Maker Festival, April 14, 2018

Greenbelt Spring Maker Festival, April 14, 2018

Greenbelt Spring Maker Festival, April 14, 2018

Greenbelt Spring Maker Festival, April 14, 2018

Greenbelt Spring Maker Festival, April 14, 2018

This boy was checking out a table where one can play music with oranges that were connected with some kind of an interface with a computer.

Greenbelt Spring Maker Festival, April 14, 2018

Greenbelt Spring Maker Festival, April 14, 2018

Greenbelt Spring Maker Festival, April 14, 2018

Greenbelt Spring Maker Festival, April 14, 2018

Greenbelt Spring Maker Festival, April 14, 2018

Greenbelt Spring Maker Festival, April 14, 2018

Greenbelt Spring Maker Festival, April 14, 2018

Greenbelt Spring Maker Festival, April 14, 2018

Greenbelt Spring Maker Festival, April 14, 2018

Greenbelt Spring Maker Festival, April 14, 2018

Greenbelt Spring Maker Festival, April 14, 2018

When I first started going to these maker events, I saw 3D printed items in only one color. At this event I saw 3D printed items based on Winnie the Pooh and Snoopy and they were 3D printed in more than one color, which was cool.

Greenbelt Spring Maker Festival, April 14, 2018

Greenbelt Spring Maker Festival, April 14, 2018

Greenbelt Spring Maker Festival, April 14, 2018

Greenbelt Spring Maker Festival, April 14, 2018

Greenbelt Spring Maker Festival, April 14, 2018

Greenbelt Spring Maker Festival, April 14, 2018

Greenbelt Spring Maker Festival, April 14, 2018

Greenbelt Spring Maker Festival, April 14, 2018

Greenbelt Spring Maker Festival, April 14, 2018

Greenbelt Spring Maker Festival, April 14, 2018

Greenbelt Spring Maker Festival, April 14, 2018

Greenbelt Spring Maker Festival, April 14, 2018

Greenbelt Spring Maker Festival, April 14, 2018

This year there was an attempt to include the Greenbelt Library in the festival even though the building is located a few feet outside of Roosevelt Center (where the festival took place). Phil Shapiro brought his portable wind tunnel where he enticed families with young children to check it out. I happened to take this photo of him during downtime where he was reading.

Greenbelt Spring Maker Festival, April 14, 2018

He had me use his phone to film him sending paper streamers through the wind tunnel. He later uploaded the footage I shot on YouTube while he added some music in the background.

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Passover

The day after St. Patrick’s Day I helped a friend of mine with his booth at the annual Maker Faire NoVa that was held at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. I had attended previous STEM Maker events in Greenbelt, Silver Spring, and Washington, DC but it’s the first time I ever checked the Northern Virginia one. I have to admit that this event was the largest event of its kind that I had ever attended. To give you an idea as to how big it was, here’s a video I shot of this event.

And now it’s time for the still photos. I knew I had come to the right place when I saw this statue of George Mason (whom the university is named after) all dressed up for the occasion.

Maker Faire NoVa

Maker Faire NoVa

Maker Faire NoVa

These signs were further giveaways that I was at the right place.

Maker Faire NoVa

Maker Faire NoVa

The reason why I was there was that I was helping a friend of mine with his table. His name is Phil Shapiro and he frequently hangs out on YouTube and Twitter. He wanted to demonstrate Inkscape, which is the free open source alternative to Adobe Illustrator. He brought a couple of Linux laptops that he made available for people to use. At the last minute he decided to have one of those laptops run Tux Paint, which is a free open source graphics program that is made for kids under 7, which turned out to be a good move because a lot of visitors were kids. The kids seemed to really like Tux Paint so it was all good. In any case, here is what the sign looked like.

Maker Faire NoVa

Here are a few shots of the table that I took before Maker Faire NoVa opened to the general public.

Maker Faire NoVa

Maker Faire NoVa

Maker Faire NoVa

Maker Faire NoVa

Here’s Phil Shapiro at one of the laptops setting everything up before the show began.

Maker Faire NoVa

And here’s Phil showing off the two laptops with Inkscape and Tux Paint to the general public.

Maker Faire NoVa

Maker Faire NoVa

Maker Faire NoVa

One of the many kids tried his hand at drawing with Tux Paint.

Maker Faire NoVa

Near our table was one that was manned by Bob Coggeshall, who’s famous in the Unix world for inventing the Unix command sudo.

Maker Faire NoVa

Maker Faire NoVa

There were all kinds of projects that were run off of Raspberry Pi, such as this vintage teletype.

Maker Faire NoVa

There were also all kinds of 3D printed projects that looked amazing.

Maker Faire NoVa

Maker Faire NoVa

Maker Faire NoVa

Maker Faire NoVa

There was a refurbished gumball machine that dispensed 3D printed charms for only 50 cents.

Maker Faire NoVa

It was at that gumball machine where I made my one and only purchase from Maker Faire NoVa: A tiny 1-inch printed 3D printed Darth Vader who’s seated like a Buddha. I only paid 50 cents for this cool item.

Maker Faire NoVa, March 18, 2018

There were also some vintage bikes that the public can ride.

Maker Faire NoVa

Maker Faire NoVa

It was at Maker Faire NoVa where I got my first-ever real life glimpse of a Bitcoin mining machine.

Maker Faire NoVa

It was also at Maker Faire NoVa where I got my first glimpse of American Girl’s 2018 Girl of the Year doll. Her name is Luciana Vega, she’s into STEM and her big ambition is to be the first person to explore Mars.

Maker Faire NoVa

This boy was showing his work in progress on his latest project. He was in the process of building his own BB-8 robot from the Star Wars movies.

Maker Faire NoVa

Maker Faire NoVa

There was just a variety of things I saw at Maker Faire NoVa that were simply astounding.

Maker Faire NoVa

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George Mason University’s Fairfax campus is pretty big. In fact, I think it may be as big as my own alma mater (University of Maryland at College Park). I briefly went through the campus Barnes & Noble store, which had copies of Michael Wolff’s controversial bestseller about Donald Trump’s first year in the White House called Fire & Fury.

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Maker Faire NoVa

Maker Faire NoVa

I really had a blast at Maker Faire NoVa. It helped that the weather was in the 50’s that day so I was able to wear a light jacket instead of my heavy winter coat for a change. I even saw my first robin of the year while I was walking around outside going from building to building while checking out the event. (The entire event was spread over four buildings.) Sadly that warm weather was a short-lived thing because the weather turned really cold and rainy the next day followed by a snowstorm.

The only downside about that event is that for about a couple of days before that event I started to have stuffed sinuses. By the time of that event my throat felt more scratchy as I talked more and more with the general public while I worked at Phil’s booth. My legs had grown stiff and sore by the end of the day due to the huge amount of walking and standing I did throughout the day. The following day I felt extremely tired and sick. I ended up spending most of the next week sleeping (with the exception of the couple of times I went out in the snow where I did some shoveling two days after Maker Faire NoVa). I even ended up skipping the big March for Our Lives on the following Saturday due to being sick. But the video, photos, and fond memories from Maker Faire NoVa made it all worthwhile.

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For most of the past year I was attending the various free programs related to the job hunting process that was sponsored by the American Jobs Center (formerly known as the Maryland Workforce Exchange). All of the programs were held in the American Jobs Center’s Laurel office, which is in the same building where I once worked as a telephone interviewer for the Arbitron Ratings Company, which once inhabited the entire building. After I left that company, Arbitron moved to a different building before it was eventually merged with Nielsen and it’s now known as Nielsen Audio.

Despite attending the various programs at the Laurel office, I didn’t have much luck with finding a new day job apart from this two-day stint where I was an extra on a television special featuring finance guru Ric Edelman.

So I decided to try my luck with a different American Jobs Center office. This one is located in Largo and, like the Laurel office, the Largo office is also housed in a building where I once worked for a different employer that had its office in that same building.

A couple of years after my stint at the Arbitron Ratings Company I worked in the corporate office of a now-defunct computer reseller where I basically did data entry. I spent the first few years working in this building, which is located at 1801 McCormick Drive in Largo, Maryland.

The company would later move to a bigger building that was located just a mile away. I continued to work in that new building for a couple of years until the company founder sold his company to one of its competitors and I was among the first employees to get downsized as the merger went on. (Eventually the new owners closed my company down completely but that’s another story.)

So I thought it was pretty weird that two of the American Jobs Center offices were located in buildings where my former employers used to be located. As I arrived to the building at 1801 McCormick Drive in Largo I noticed that whoever owned that building had added something to the front since I last worked there. It’s a sculpture that’s sort of shaped like a flower.

Here’s the sculpture from another angle. It was windy the take I took these photos and I noticed that the top of the sculpture tended to rotate with the wind.

Some of the petals had photographs of various nature items, such as a bird and a group of lily pads floating in water.

This post proves that, once again, one can always find art in the most unexpected places.

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Last year I went to the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore because it has free admission on Martin Luther King Day. (The regular admission price is $15.95 for adults under 60 and $13.95 for people age 60 and up.) I had a blast even though I arrived too late in the day to get a free slice of birthday cake that the museum usually serves for that occasion. This year I decided to do it again except I made every effort to wake up early and get out of the door so I could arrive by noon (when the birthday cake would be served).

So I managed to arrive earlier than last year while braving the cold weather (the temperature was in the low 20’s that day). I took the light rail into the city then transferred to the Charm City Circulator bus. I managed to arrive shortly before noon. The main disadvantage is that the museum was way more crowded than I remembered last year when I arrived later in the afternoon. But I still tried to make the best of my visit since it was free admission day.

One of the buildings had a new exhibition which featured this giant dragon sculpture that was made entirely from balloons.

There were a few wall hangings that were literally displayed on the ceiling of that building.

I managed to arrive on the third floor of the building where the birthday cake was being served along with a few other activities as well. There was an opportunity to create buttons, which I didn’t get to do because the museum had run out of button making supplies by the time I arrived. But I managed to get a photo of a couple who were able to make buttons.

The entertainment featured a children’s gospel choir known as the Cardinal Shehan School Choir, who came from one of the local Catholic schools in Baltimore. This group has been featured on Good Morning America after one of their videos went viral. After hearing them, I understood why because this choir was so phenomenal, especially since the singers were all children.

In fact, I shot this video of them doing their final number called “Rise Up” that I think you will definitely enjoy.

While the choir was performing I got a chance to look at the birthday cakes that were served to the general public on a first-come, first-served basis. The cakes were available in a variety of flavors.

The museum also gave out a variety of hot beverages (including hot chocolate and a few different flavors of tea). The next photo shows my cup of hot chocolate and the slice of cake that I chose.

This next photo should give you an idea as to how crowded this room got with people making buttons and consuming cake and hot drinks.

I stepped out of the balcony on that third floor where I got a great view of both the museum’s main building and Federal Hill.

Once I finished eating my cake and the choir finished performing its set, I left that large and crowded room and explored the rest of the museum where I took these pictures.

The museum had this special exhibit called The Great Mystery Show, which featured art related to science and mysticism. This NASA astronaut sculpture in the next photo had me thinking about how my ex-husband would’ve loved this since he works for NASA and he told me that he once wanted to become an astronaut only to find out that his eyesight would’ve been considered too poor for such a position. (He managed to study computer programming so he found another way of working for NASA even if he never became an astronaut.)

The statue in the next two photos intrigued me because it was made mostly from sea shells.

The most memorable part of the museum was seeing this sculpture of Edgar Allan Poe that was made entirely from marshmallow Peeps.

The base of the Poe sculpture was flanked by a black cat and a raven, who were both also made from marshmallow Peeps. (Those two were references to two of Poe’s famous works—The Black Cat and The Raven.)

Near the Poe sculpture was this heart that was made from glass, which was a reference to another famous Poe piece known as The Tell-Tale Heart.

The most surreal part of the museum was seeing a TV monitor that had non-stop showings of Martin Luther King giving his famous “I Have a Dream” speech while the monitor was flanked by flowers, tarot cards, two gold masks, and an Ouija board.

I was amazed by this life-sized sculpture of what looked like the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz.

I found this interesting recipe posted on the museum wall that I would like to try at some point in the future.


I really liked this colorful and funky cat illustration.

This dress looked like it was made from glass with all of the glass beads.

I couldn’t resist taking a picture of this inspirational quote from Leonardo da Vinci regarding science and art.

I really liked this next photo, which is a painting of Albert Einstein.

I was also amazed by what this one artist did with small tins (such as a sardine tin and a tin box that was about the size of a pack of Altoids). This person created scenes with paper cutouts. The tiny details were astounding.

I made only one purchase at that museum. I found this crochet pattern book for $5 that was about creating tiny equipment, furniture, and buildings that were small enough for LEGO Minifigs, tiny dolls, and other types of tiny toys. It looked really interesting.

Even though I had that slice of cake, it was no substitute for lunch and I was starting to feel hungry as I was touring the museum. I thought about eating in the museum’s cafe until I saw that it was very crowded. I began to become tired of the throngs of people who were crowding in the museum because they were also taking advantage of the free admission. I decided to leave the museum and walk along the Inner Harbor while taking some photos. This next photo shows a building in the middle that’s under construction complete with a construction crane.

The weather had been mostly non-stop freezing since Christmas with an exception of a couple of days when the temperature reached the low 50’s just a couple of days before MLK Day. Unfortunately that respite was short-lived and the area was plunged into yet another deep freeze. The next few pictures clearly show the effects of the below-freezing temperatures had on the water itself where you can clearly see ice that had been forming.

Some of the litter thrown into the Inner Harbor had been encased in ice.

A pair of ducks were swimming in the non-icy portions of the water.

These stone installations resembled three Adirondack chairs.

The next photo shows the statue of William Donald Schaefer, who served as the mayor of Baltimore and governor of Maryland.

I walked by Harborplace where I visited It’s Sugar.

 

I bought a few things in that store, including a special pack of Skittles that  was known as “Sweet Heat” because spices were added to the candy. I tried them and I found the spicy taste to be interesting but, to be honest, I prefer regular Skittles.

I bought a small box of this treat called Marshmallow Madness. The idea is based on the Lucky Charms cereal except that the cereal part has been excluded so all you get is just small colored marshmallows in a variety of shapes. I’ve seen Marshmallow Madness be available in cereal-sized boxes. On this trip I saw that there were smaller box versions of Marshmallow Madness so I decided to buy it to see what it tasted like.

My verdict is that while the marshmallows are tasty, I found myself missing the cereal part. (I used to frequently eat Lucky Charms cereal as a child. Even though I rarely eat presweetened cereal these days, I still found myself lamenting the lack of cereal in Marshmallow Madness. I guess old habits die hard. LOL!)

I purchased a pack of orange-flavored Donald Trump-themed gummy candy known as Make America Sweet Again mainly because the package design was such a hoot. I took a bunch of detailed photographs of this product so you’ll get the idea.

I haven’t opened that candy as of this writing. I have an idea of doing something creative with this candy so I don’t want to just eat it right now, especially since there are only two It’s Sugar locations in the entire Baltimore-Washington, DC area (one at Harborplace and the other in the Chinatown area of DC) and I don’t really live close to either location so I can’t shop there too often.

I took a couple of photos of Harborplace, which showed it becoming more and more of a dead mall. This was shot on Martin Luther King Day when a lot of people are off from school and work. I remember Harborplace in better days when it used to draw a huge crowd of shoppers. I remember the days when I made special trips to this place so I could spend the day there. Despite the presence of It’s Sugar, H&M, and Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium, this pavilion is still pretty much empty. I didn’t even bother with visiting the other pavilion because I know it’s the same situation from previous visits. Too bad, so sad.

The sign announcing a “New Tradition” at Harborplace that “Begins Fall 2016” had me laughing. Or maybe having a mostly empty mall is Harborplace’s idea of a “new tradition.” LOL!

The only area of Harborplace where I saw quite a few people was at the temporary ice skating rink that was set outside of one of the pavilions.

There weren’t really a lot of affordable place to eat lunch at. (I still remember the old days when that pavilion I had just visited used to have an entire floor dedicated to a food court that had all kinds of foods ranging from pizza to sushi to Chinese to Subway subs.) I decided to go to the Così that’s located across the street from the Baltimore Convention Center for a late lunch. Except when I arrived just 15 minutes before 3 p.m. I saw a notice on the door saying that Così would be closing early at 3 p.m. for MLK Day. I basically got my lunch to go and walked around the area looking for an appropriate place to eat lunch. Unfortunately it was way too cold to eat anywhere outside. I ultimately walked to the Hilton Baltimore where I sat down in one of the cushions in the lobby and quietly consumed my TBM (tomato, basil, and mozzarella) sandwich with a bag of potato chips and a Diet Coke. That hotel was very empty that day where the staffers outnumbered everyone else.

After I finished lunch, I decided that it was time to head back to the light rail station and get out of the city. I walked past Orioles Park at Camden Yards and took this one last photo. The place definitely looked pretty sad and deserted in the off-season. Baseball season will begin in a few months so this area will have a lot of Baltimore Oriole fans entering through those gates. (It also reminded me of the fact that the last time I attended a game there was back in 2007. It was the year before my hip replacement and it was also when I was still married because I used to accompany my husband to those games. I don’t know when I’ll ever attend another game there in person.)

Santa Claus

I wasn’t able to get to Behnke’s Nurseries before Christmas so I decided to spend the day after checking out the post-holiday sales. There were still plenty of Christmas and Hanukkah decorations that were available for sale at discounted prices.

I made only one purchase. It was a cute Ginger Cottage that I purchased for 25% off.

Here are a few reasons why I prefer Ginger Cottages over Department 56: 1) They are smaller, which means they take up less space in my modest house. 2) They are more affordable for my budget than Department 56. 3) They are actually made in the USA while Department 56 cottages are made overseas in countries like China.

Santa Claus

I wanted to enjoy myself this Christmas Eve. That morning I checked out the Christmas pageant at my church, which included a living nativity scene. After church I decided to go to downtown Washington, DC. I wanted to check out an exhibit at the Renwick Gallery that was on its final weeks.

It was a special exhibit called the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death, which uses dollhouse-sized dolls and furniture to create dioramas of real-life crime scenes. I first heard about this when I attended the Utopia Film Festival in Greenbelt, Maryland in 2012. One of the films shown, Of Dolls & Murder, was narrated by film director John Waters about this very topic and I found that documentary to be totally fascinating. When I heard that the Renwick Gallery was having a rare public exhibition of these dioramas, I knew that I had to check them out. I ended up going on Christmas Eve when I found that this exhibition was going to close in January. A lot of other people had that same idea, as you can see in the next photograph.

These dioramas were done by Frances Glessner Lee. The attention to detail she provided in these dioramas were astounding to see in that documentary I saw a few years ago and they are even more astounding to see in person. I heard many people debate about who could’ve been responsible for many of the crimes depicted. As for me, I was just content to marvel at the realistic scenes.

The rest of the museum was far less crowded than the Nutshell exhibition. Next to the dollhouses was this exhibition by Rick Araluce, who’s an artist and scenic designer.

The next photo shows the back of the structure that makes up that exhibit.

The back of that structure also have a couple of peepholes where, if you look in them, you can see a miniature scene of a subway stop.

But when you walk around to the front of the exhibit, you’ll see a life-sized reproduction of a subway stop that looks incredibly realistic down to the train tracks.

Another high point of being in the Renwick Gallery was seeing a digitized 3D printed version of Hiram Powers’ sculpture The Greek Slave.

At first glance you would never realize that this is actually a replica that was done on a 3D printer.

If you look really close in the next photograph, you could see a few of the lines that are common in 3D printed items.

I hung around the Renwick Gallery checking out the other exhibits until it was close to closing time.

Once I walked outside I decided to walk along Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House.

I was walking next to Lafayette Park when I was at the White House. There is an antiwar protest that has been ongoing since 1981 (when Ronald Reagan was in office). The last of the original founders of that protest, Concepcion Picciotto, passed away in 2016 and I was curious to see if that protest would still go on without any of the original founders still alive. I found that it’s still up as a presence against U.S. foreign military policy.

I didn’t stay too long in Lafayette Park because it was very cold that night. I walked along the area while taking a few pictures.

I eventually reached the historic Willard InterContinental Hotel, which was well-decorated for the holidays.

I needed to use the bathroom so I stepped inside. After I finished with the restroom I marveled at the lovely tasteful holiday decorations in the hotel lobby.

The coolest Christmas decoration was this gingerbread reproduction of Mount Vernon, which featured tiny figures of George and Martha Washington done in fondant. The details on this structure were amazing to see.

I was getting hungry (I hadn’t eaten dinner yet) so I decided to head for home. I took this photo of one of the doors to the Trump International Hotel when I was on my way to the Federal Triangle Metro station. I’ve only been inside of that hotel once and it was on the day before Donald Trump won the elections. I haven’t felt the desire to step inside of that hotel since.

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