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Ramadan

For all the times I’ve been to Dupont Circle, I’ve never went there during DC Pride Weekend, even though I’ve lived in the Washington, DC area for years. The only reason why I went this year was because Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School was held at the Bier Baron that day. I originally planned on writing one post until I looked through the pictures and realized that I had taken so many that it really warranted writing two separate blog posts about my one day in Dupont Circle during DC Pride Weekend. This post will focus on the photographs I took that day while the Dr. Sketchy’s post will have to wait until the next one.

DC Pride Weekend had a big parade and party that took place in Dupont Circle the previous day. I wasn’t able to make it because of tight finances (the Metro system is not only getting more expensive but yet another fare increase is set to take place by the end of this month) and this heatwave has settled in the area so the temperature reached a high of around 95 degrees F.

The following day it was still very hot and humid with highs reaching 95 once again. At least the Metro trains are air conditioned and I spent as much time in the various air conditioned stores as possible. While Saturday was the big party and parade in Dupont Circle, Sunday was slated as a day of protest on the Mall. I wasn’t able to make it to that protest mainly because I attended church in the morning and Dr. Sketchy’s started at 3 p.m. so there was literally no way I could squeeze going to the National Mall in between (especially given Metro’s flaky weekend schedule where you could wait anywhere from 15 minutes to a half-an-hour or even longer depending on which stop you’re at and if Metro is doing any kind of maintenance work on a certain line at a certain station). I saw this couple who were clearly on their way to the Mall march.

I arrived at the Dupont Circle Metro station, which was definitely decorative for the occasion by having its list of scheduled trains arranged like the rainbow flag.

It was also fitting that the same station had this banner ad for Cher’s upcoming concert at the MGM casino in nearby National Harbor.

I didn’t mind missing the big march on the Mall, especially when I stepped outside and felt the high heat and high humidity smack me in the face. There were people milling around in Dupont Circle but I suspect that there were far more people protesting at the Mall. The first thing I did was head over to Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe where I saw these LGBTQ-friendly signs.

There was also this excellent sign that made fun of Donald Trump’s notorious “covfefe” tweet by announcing a new Covfefe cocktail featuring White Russian while providing quotes from former FBI director James Comey’s recent testimony that introduced the phrase “honest loyalty” into the English language.

I browsed among the books at Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe while noticing this prominent shelf towards the front of the store featuring LGBTQ books.

I also saw rainbow flags and store patrons who were all decked out in rainbow and/or LGBTQ-themed attire .

After Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe I walked along the streets of Dupont Circle where I noticed rainbow flags everywhere and people dressed in rainbows. I took the bulk of these pictures before and after Dr. Sketchy’s. (Hooray for longer daylight hours!)

I eventually made my way to the Bier Baron, where Dr. Sketchy’s took place. Even that place was decked out in rainbows.

I even got into the rainbow festivities by taking pictures of my colored pencils all lined up in a loose Roy G Biv rainbow pattern (which also included colors one usually don’t see in a rainbow like brown and white) before Dr. Sketchy’s began.

Like I wrote earlier, I’ll devote my next post to what I drew at Dr. Sketchy’s.

While there were rainbow colored palettes everywhere in Dupont Circle, I found this one interesting non-rainbow thing that I photographed. This is a tiny statue (which reaches no higher than my calf) of a baby sleeping on top of a baby elephant. How cute!

I ended my time at the fountain that’s located right in the middle of Dupont Circle. There were a few people chilling out even though it was dinnertime and the temperature was very hot and humid. Strangely the fountain was turned off that day plus the basin had no water in it. (I honestly don’t know what is going on with that fountain.)

That’s it for now. Stay tuned for my next post on attending Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School at the Bier Baron during DC Pride Weekend. 🙂

Ramadan

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Prison inmates crochet 150 blankets for veterans.

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Ramadan

A new shopping center has just been opened a few months ago in Riverdale Park, Maryland but I decided to wait a few months until the crowds drawn by the novelty of a new place have died down. In addition, I decided to go on a weeknight because I’ve seen the parking lot filled with cars on the weekend. Here are the photographs I took.

The new shopping center’s main draw is a Whole Foods Market.

In the middle of the new shopping center is this really interesting statue of a blue bear.

If you look up close at that statue you’d see the statue is composed of little blue butterfly-shaped pieces.

Behind the bear statue is this low-level fountain where the water seems to spout from the ground. I can imagine kids splashing around in that fountain once the summer heatwave begins in earnest.

The new shopping center is located on what was once a farm. Here is some background. Riverdale Park was originally a big plantation known as Riversdale Park (note the additional “s”), which was founded by descendants of the original Lord Baltimore, George Calvert (who founded what eventually became the state of Maryland). One of his descendants, Charles Baltimore Calvert, inherited a portion of the original Riversdale Park plantation and he named it MacAlpine Farm after his wife’s family home in Scotland. While Riversdale Park grew tobacco using slave labor, MacAlpine Farm was more of a general farm that grew a variety of crops and raised livestock while using paid labor.

Eventually much of the land surrounding both Riversdale Park and MacAlpine Farm were sold to developers. The original Riversdale mansion still stands with just a small portion of the original grounds remaining. (Last summer I took extensive photos of the place while I was attending a drawing event there.) Much of MacAlpine Farm was razed with the exception of this building in the next two photographs.

This building is the remains of a 19th century icehouse that once served MacAlpine Farm. The sign in the next photo provides information about this icehouse. Basically icehouses were once common prior to electricity being widely adopted. Ice would be harvested further north from either freshwater rivers and lakes or ice manufactured by electrically powered factories. The ice would be stored in an icehouse, whose foundation ran several feet below the earth. Icehouses like this one became obsolete when government-supported rural electrification programs started in the 1930’s. This icehouse can be found on the perimeter of the shopping center parking lot.

So far there are only two places opened at this new shopping center. One is Whole Foods Market and the other is a Starbucks that’s located directly around the corner from Whole Foods.

A few people decide to socialize and eat al fresco outside one of the Whole Foods side entrances. (It was pretty balmy weather that evening.)

This Whole Foods have a few nice touches, such as this place where bicyclists can inflate their tires and maker other minor repairs.

Not only does this store promotes composting and recycling but it even provides a special water fountain for pets.

There are designated parking spots for electric cars along with a recharging pump.

This Whole Foods Market has only been opened for a few months so everything is still brand-new.

I walked around it and I basically limited my purchase to a couple of cookies because the store is a bit on the pricey side. (There’s a reason why many detractors refer to this store as “Whole Paycheck.”) There was an area where people can order artisanal hearth baked pizza for either consuming on the premises (there were tables provided nearby) or to take home. I really liked that large blue-tiled oven in the background that had “RIVERDALE” in written in white tile.

Next to the area where you can order pizza there is a baking area that’s behind transparent plexiglass so shoppers can see various baked goods made on the premises.

This new shopping center is still a work in progress (so far Whole Foods and Starbucks are the only places currently opened). The last two photos show addition store space currently under construction. I have no idea when the construction will be finished or what stores are scheduled to move in there.

UPDATE (June 16, 2017): Who could’ve predicted that just a few months after this particular Whole Foods opened and a mere two days after this post went live that Amazon.com would buy the entire Whole Foods chain? Not me, that’s for sure. That announcement came from out of the blue since I hadn’t previously heard of Amazon even publicly expressing any kind of interest in Whole Foods. It’ll be interesting to see whether this merger will have an effect on prices at Whole Foods since that chain has long had a reputation for prices so high that it’s been dubbed “Whole Paycheck” while Amazon has long been into keeping prices as cheap as possible.

Ramadan

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An AI invented a bunch of new paint colors with hilariously-sounding names.

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Ramadan

I recently added a new experience on my resume and LinkedIn profile because I think it’s the most interesting temp job I’ve ever done. I was an extra at a taping of an upcoming television special that will air on public television throughout the United States later this year.

I unexpectedly got this gig when I was attending a networking event that was held at the state-run Maryland Workforce Exchange. I was searching for a new day job to pay the bills so I decided to go to this networking event to see if my fortunes would change. One of the participants there was currently doing a temporary gig for Central Casting where she was tasked with getting people to go to the taping. (She’s currently looking for something more permanent herself.) I spoke with her and we hit it off. I added my name to the list of people willing to attend the taping.

A few days later I got a few emails instructing me where to go, what time I was supposed to show up, and where I can find free parking. The emails also said that the dress code was limited to business and business casual. (In other words, no t-shirts or sweatshirts with slogans, sports teams logos, or a photo of the latest pop music sensation.)

I wasn’t sure what to expect other than it would be a talk on financial planning. Since my finances are currently in the toilet (I had incurred some debts in the wake of my unexpected divorce and I’ve been having trouble with finding a steady day job so I can pay those debts down) I thought that it would be one of those talks that wouldn’t be relevant in my current situation. (In fact, I probably would not have gone if it hadn’t been a paying gig.) The first night I went I brought my latest knitting project with me thinking that I would at least get that project done while sitting through the talk. I ended up not even touching that knitting until during one of the 10-minute breaks that took place halfway through the taping. That’s because the talk was way more interesting than I expected. The second night I left my knitting at home.

The first night as I was walking into the auditorium prior to the taping I overheard a woman tell someone else that she has seen the speaker on television many times in the past. She said that he is someone she always listens to regarding planning for the future.

The TV special featured financial expert Ric Edelman giving a presentation on how technological innovations and economic changes will affect financial planning for the future. He said that the old days where people went to school, got their job working for just one company for 30-50 years, retired, then died anywhere between 65-75 are over.

He mentioned that business will become less like the New York model (where people worked for the same company with the same employees and bosses for a number of years until retirement) and be more like the Hollywood movie studio model (where people gather together to work on one project until that project is done and the people move on to other jobs/projects in other places with new coworkers). He cited the gig economy as one example of that Hollywood-like trend.

He gave numerous examples of technological innovations that will become more prevalent in the future, such as robots taking over more of the jobs that people currently do, the rise of crypto-currency like Bitcoin, finding cures for Alzheimer’s and certain types of cancers, and other similar breakthroughs that will result in people living longer and seeing certain types of work going the way of the horse and buggy industry (which was a major employer in the U.S. until cars came along). All this will affect people’s financial planning.

His talk reminded me of the film Future Shock, which I had to sit through twice (once in the 7th grade and once in the 12th grade) when I was in school. The big difference is that the movie had a more negative tone about the changing times and the technology that went on at that time (I still remember the scene where narrator Orson Welles spoke disdainfully about people being able to get artificial joints in the future—as someone with a hip replacement, I’m very grateful for that technological breakthrough because I would’ve eventually ended up in a wheelchair without it). In contrast, Ric Edelman puts a more positive spin on the technological innovations that are either here now or will be coming within the next few years. (I’ll admit that some of my pacifist friends would have been horrified to hear him give a positive spin on the increasing use of drone warfare. Edelman talked about how drones can eliminate having to use flesh-and-blood soldiers in battles so it would save them from exposing them to physical and mental trauma. That is the positive side of drone warfare. What he didn’t say is what happens to the people who are targeted by these drones—many of whom include children and innocent civilians who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.)

He spoke so positively about the technological changes in the future that I kept on thinking about this 1990’s hit song “The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades.”

Future Shock frequently shows up on YouTube only to have it get taken down. As of this writing, the film is back online right here. (In case this new link gets taken down, you can read Fast Company’s article on what Future Shock got right and wrong.) Watching a 1972 film predicting the future is interesting in terms of what the film got right and what it got wrong (despite the film’s overall negative tone). I would love to see the video featuring Ric Edelman’s talk about the future 10 or 20 years from now in order to learn what he got right and wrong, but I digress.

He gave this presentation as a way of promoting his latest book, The Truth About Your Future, which is also currently a New York Times bestseller.

I took pictures during my two nights I was working as an extra. The event took place at Montgomery College Takoma Park/Silver Spring campus.

I had toyed with arriving at the campus about an hour or two before the taping on the second night so I could explore the campus and grab an early dinner someplace nearby. I had to scuttle that plan when it rained on the second night. The taping took place both nights at the Cultural Arts Center building.

The next shot shows this interesting glass and steel sculpture that hung from the ceiling of the building inside.

The procedures for working as an extra were the same both nights. We were instructed to arrive at the building by 6:30 p.m. (I had to eat an earlier dinner than usual both days so I wouldn’t starve through the taping. It was a good thing I did that because the auditorium prohibited food and drinks.) The first thing we had to do was go to one of the tables where a representative from Central Casting was seated and do a check in.

We were given this form where the only thing we had to fill out was our name, address, phone number, Social Security number. We also had to sign it at the bottom. Central Casting filled out everything else.

Once we checked in we basically hung around in the lobby where people chatted among each other or went to use the restrooms.

Around 7 p.m. we lined up outside the auditorium doors and filed into the auditorium.

I took a couple pictures of some of the camera operators who were filming the presentation.

The director took to the stage first where he had us practice clapping and cheering. He instructed us to turn off our cell phones (I ended up putting my phone on vibrate). We were to look in Ric’s direction at all times while enthusiastically clapping at the proper time. We could also utter exclamations like “wow!”, “oooh!”, “aaaah!”, “whoah!”, and so on.

Once the director left the stage Ric Edelman appeared where he gave his presentation. He talked nonstop for the first 45 minutes. After he said “When we come back…” we clapped and cheered as he left the stage. The director came out on stage announcing that there was a two-minute break while Edelman drank some water backstage. We were allowed to stand up and stretch but we couldn’t leave the auditorium.

Ric Edelman returned to the stage while we applauded. He continued his presentation for another half-an-hour or 45 minutes. When he said “When we come back…” we clapped and cheered as he left the stage. The director came back on stage and announced a 10-minute break where we could go to the restroom if we needed to do so. During that time the director looked for 10 people who were willing to ask questions. The questioners lined up towards the back.

When the 10-minute break ended, Ric Edelman returned to the stage where he did the Q & A segment with the 10 volunteers. Once he finished answering all of the questions, the taping ended for the night.

The last picture shows Ric Edelman giving his talk. Unfortunately I was seated in the back of the auditorium on both nights so I wasn’t able to get a decent shot of him.

As we left the auditorium we had to turn in our signed form to the nearest Central Casting representative before we could leave the building and go home. I didn’t leave the event until it was around 9:30 p.m.

Ric Edelman gave the same presentation both nights. The main difference were the people who asked questions at the end. (Overall a total of 20 people got a chance to ask Ric Edelman a question while one of the cameras focused on the questioner so that person got a brief bit of fame. Of course, I don’t know how many of those questioners will actually make the final cut and actually end up being aired on television.) The auditorium was packed the first night with every single seat taken. On the second night I noticed that fewer people had showed up. (I guess some of the participants couldn’t show up both nights.) The director focused on filling up the seats closest to the stage. I ended up in the back just like the night before. I noticed that there were empty seats in rows that were further back than where I sat on the second night.

The biggest challenge on the second night was sitting through the same presentation again while pretending that I was hearing it for the first time. It wasn’t too bad hearing it for the second time because it was such an engaging presentation and Ric Edelman is such a dynamic speaker. Given my current financial situation, I would’ve been willing to sit through the same presentation every night for the next six months.

The show is tentatively scheduled to air on PBS in December during Pledge Week. (Which was why Ric Edelman interrupted his presentation twice—just so the local PBS stations can jump in with their own broadcasts begging people to make a generous donation so the stations can keep operating another year.) All in all I found the whole experience fascinating and I really enjoyed the presentation that Ric Edelman gave (even if I had to sit through it twice over a two-night period). I learned a lot from the presentation (especially regarding future technological advances) and, what’s more, I got paid $50 per night. So I earned $100 that week. Sweet!

Ramadan

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I recently attended the Gateway Arts Open Studio Tour that went up Route 1 from Mount Rainier all the way up to Hyattsville. The last few times I went on this tour I didn’t go beyond Mount Rainier because I didn’t arrive until late in the day. This time I made every effort to arrive at the official noon starting time but I still didn’t go beyond Mount Rainier. It’s because there were so many things to see in Mount Rainier. (LOL!)

I began my tour at Marsha Stein’s art studio. Here are a few outside shots outside her studio.

Gateway Arts Open Studio Tour

Gateway Arts Open Studio Tour

Marsha’s art studio also doubles as her apartment. I checked out her paintings for a few minutes before I moved on. While I was on my way to my next destination I took a picture of some of the decorative relief trim that one can find in downtown Mount Rainier.

Nice Stonework

Next I went to the Gateway Media Arts Lab, a recently opened place that has five creative communications entrepreneurs who do things like graphic design, videos, and storytelling.

Gateway Media Arts Lab

Gateway Media Arts Lab

I moved on to ReCreative Spaces where I took the next few photographs.

ReCreative Spaces

ReCreative Spaces

ReCreative Spaces

ReCreative Spaces

While I was looking at the official map I saw that there was a home located a few blocks away where Joe Brewer has his own personal arcade in the basement. Here’s a couple of exterior shots of his home, which is typical of the type of home one can find in Mount Rainier.

Brewer's Arcade

Only this sign gave away that there is more to this home than meets the eye.

Brewer's Arcade

Joe Brewer frequently purchases and fixes up vintage pinball and arcade video games. Going into the basement is such a throwback to my high school and college years when I used to spend my spare time and a lot of quarters playing these machines.

Brewer's Arcade

Brewer's Arcade

Brewer's Arcade

Brewer's Arcade

Brewer's Arcade

Brewer's Arcade

He offered free beverages, which included Crystal Pepsi. I wrote about seeing that beverage in a store late last year and I wrote about my less-than-fond memories of the one time I tried drinking it in the 1990’s. I tried Crystal Pepsi again at Joe’s home and I have to admit that it tastes way better than the last time I tried it. But I still prefer the darker version of Pepsi over Crystal Pepsi.

Brewer's Arcade

Here’s some charming string art that I found in the bathroom that includes a map of the U.S. and a famous quote by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Brewer's Arcade

I’ll admit that I spent the largest chunk of my time playing those video games and pinball machines. (The fact that they were all on free play made it tempting for me to stay a long while. LOL!) I got back in my car and drove to Joe Hicks Ceramics, which is a studio that’s operated in the basement of this home.

Joe Hicks

Joe Hicks had a lot of really nice ceramics on sale.

Joe Hicks

Joe Hicks

Joe Hicks

I went to the nearby Washington Glass School where I found a lot of interesting artwork that were all made from glass.

Washington Glass School

Washington Glass School

Washington Glass School

Washington Glass School

Washington Glass School

Washington Glass School

By that point the official end of the Open Studio Tour was soon approaching so I went to the Otis Street Arts Project, which is located next door to the Washington Glass School.

Otis Street Arts Project

Otis Street Arts Project

Otis Street Arts Project

Otis Street Arts Project

Otis Street Arts Project

Otis Street Arts Project

Otis Street Arts Project

Otis Street Arts Project

Otis Street Arts Project

Otis Street Arts Project

I was going through my hard drive when I found some photos I took in Takoma Park last summer. They focused on some of the newer art installations that were set up around town recently. I found them to be quite creative and imaginative.

There’s this S & A Beads store window, which had its own commentary on last year’s presidential campaign.

I headed to Dupont Circle to check out Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School at the Bier Baron in Washington, DC. Usually I would get to Dupont Circle by taking the Green Line Metro from the Greenbelt station, transfer to the Red Line at the Fort Totten station then taking that train the rest of the way to the Dupont Circle station. This particular Sunday the Greenbelt station was closed because Metro was doing this month-long Safe Track work and it was offering shuttle buses as a substitute.

Rather than dealing with shuttle buses, I decided to go from Sunday service at my church and drive to the Silver Spring Metro station because it’s on the Red Line (plus I wouldn’t have to do any transfers). It also gave me an opportunity to take a few photographs of this charming penguin mural that was recently erected outside the station.

A homeless person’s belongings sit across from the penguins wall mural.

Once I arrived in downtown Washington, DC I saw this dog sticking its head outside the window of a car that was driving through Dupont Circle.

Here’s a welcoming sign that was posted in the window of Second Story Books.

The next few photos show the window display at 1 West Dupont Circle Wines & Liquors, including Absolute Vodka in a rainbow bottle and a few skull-shaped decanters.

I found this interesting relief outside one of the buildings in Dupont Circle.

I eventually made my way to the Bier Baron where Dr. Sketchy’s was held. The model for this event was a burlesque performer named Candy del Rio. Some of the drawings in this post are definitely NSFW.

There was only one contest during this event, which I took part in. The theme was science (in a nod to the March For Science, which was held in Washington, DC the day before.) I decided to go for science fiction and incorporate the movie Jurassic Park and dinosaurs.

I won that contest and my prize was a drink of my choice from the bar. I chose a hard cider that made me a bit loopy. (Fortunately I had taken the Metro so I was pretty much sober by the time I reached my car at the Silver Spring Metro station.)

I did a couple more drawings of Candy del Rio before the event ended.

I took a few more photographs after I left Dr. Sketchy’s and the Bier Baron starting with this window display.

I really love this building with the red brick. This one houses the Portuguese Embassy.

I’ll end this post with yet another dog sticking its head outside the window of a car.

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