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A new film shows how the creators of the classic Curious George children’s book series escaped the Nazis.

Career advice you hear all the time that’s actually bunk.

New union aims to overhaul self-employed workers’ rights.

How information overload robs us of our creativity: What the scientific research shows.

Couple’s terrible photographer ad causes outrage.

No spouse, no kids, no caregiver: How to prepare to age alone.

The British Library offers over a million free vintage images for download.

North Dakota man restores his great-grandparents’ 1916 flat-pack home ordered from Sears catalogue to mark its 100th anniversary.

So, NASA got sick of that conspiracy thing and released over 10,000 photos from the Apollo moon mission.

Why the 20% and not the 1% are the real problem.

This bakery finds your haters and sends them a cake.

Depressed people see the world more realistically.

How the upper middle class keeps everyone else out.

Le Cabaret de L’Enfer: Turn of the century Paris nightclub modeled after Hell.

Fake news is bad. But fake history is even worse.

The 388-year-old bonsai that survived Hiroshima.

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Here is where many of the clothes you throw away end up.

The Goatman—or his story—still haunts a suburban area of Washington, DC.

Meet Lilli, the high-end German call girl who became America’s iconic Barbie doll.

A critical look at the Summer of Love 50 years later.

A brief history of the color blue.

Data shows that American English is rising around the world.

The Morris Museum steampunk marvels are truly amazing.

Dear Gwyneth Paltrow, we’re not f**king with you we’re correcting you, XOXO Science.

Watch this artist repaint a Barbie doll to look like Wonder Woman.

The people who tried to take panorama shots with hilarious results.

Russian nesting dolls based on characters from Spinal Tap, The Young Ones, Rocky Horror, Heathers, and more.

Redneck Revolt brings anti-racist, anti-capitalist politics to working class whites.

The oldest color photographs show what the world looked like 100 years ago.

The unbearable wrongness of Gwyneth Paltrow. Please do not buy into her bullshit.

Amusing vintage knitting and crochet patterns for men.

How middle-class Americans were fleeced by neoliberalism.

Using these email fonts may ruin your chance at landing a job.

Nine budget recipes from the Great Depression that are still good enough to eat today.

A job ad seeking a professional wedding photographer where the person won’t be compensated except in toll money.

CTRL + X: Street artists “delete” graffiti with a painted anamorphic illusion.

Six months ago today Donald Trump was formally sworn in as the 45th President of the United States of America. At the time I wrote this post predicting that President Trump would not survive past his first term. I personally felt that the drama surrounding President Trump would really get out of hand starting next year. But I didn’t expect the out-of-hand drama to really get going during the first six months. In a lot of ways, Donald Trump’s bizarre tweet that had the word “covfefe,” makes the perfect metaphor for his administration (as well as providing the title for this post).

In the interest of fairness, I will mention the one good thing that President Trump has done. He killed that awful Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which deserved to be killed because it would’ve not only hampered worker rights but it would’ve given corporations more rights than national sovereignty. The fact that President Obama, a Democrat, really worked hard on making this a reality, says a lot about who the Democratic Party is really aligned with these days (and it’s not the workers).

Unfortunately the things President Trump has said and done since he killed the TPP has completely obliterated the one good thing he did from my immediate memory.

I originally intended to write a rant analyzing Donald Trump’s first six months in office only to realize that it’s not really possible. So much has happened that I would literally have to spend at least two weeks doing the researching, writing, and re-writes necessary to come up with something that would be so long that it would read more like a multi-page report that I used to be required to write for a college class than a blog post. And I did plenty of these reports when I was a college student and I no longer have the patience or inclination to do anything like that (especially for no pay or college credit or any other kind of incentive). On top of it there are new news coming out nearly every day (sometimes two or more major stories will break on the same day) so trying to keep up with everything is such a major challenge that I’m very glad that I had never started a news blog of my very own.

Instead I’m just going to provide links to articles that I have collected over the past six months. These link titles provide a litany of the sheer fuckery that is the Trump Administration and some of Trump’s hardcore supporters who continue to side with him despite what is currently going on with his administration.

Comparing Donald Trump and Barack Obama’s inaugural crowd sizes

Inauguration and Women’s March, By The Numbers

Donald Trump got behind the wheel of a truck and everyone is making the same joke

The Real Targets of Trump’s Strike [on Syria] Were His Domestic Critics

The Inside Story of the Kushner-Bannon Civil War

Media Ignores Trump’s Conflicts Of Interest To Promote War in Syria

The Problem With Trump’s Attempt to Scare North Korea

As Trump plays the global strongman, what happened to ‘America first’?

We Now Have the Perfect 20-Second Metaphor for How Trump Has Treated His Supporters

Trumpism: It’s Coming From the Suburbs

Comey Affair Sign of a Fractured American State

Five Reasons Why the Comey Affair is Worse Than Watergate

I wrote ‘The Art of the Deal’ with Trump. His self-sabotage is rooted in his past.

Trump Has Meltdown on Twitter, But Offline Sources Say He’s Emotionally Withdrawing and Gaining Weight

Right to bear arms? Trump accused of plagiarising family crest

‘Covfefe’: Trump invents new word and melts internet

The Great Betrayal of Middle America

Can we finally kill off the zombie lie? Trump’s voters weren’t the “white working class”

The Trump Organization Is Launching a Chain of Americana-Themed Hotels Called ‘American Idea’

Eric Trump Reportedly Bragged About Access to $100 Million in Russian Money

How Donald Trump Shifted Kids-Cancer Charity Money Into His Business

Donald Trump’s new FBI director pick has Russian ties of his own

Meet the community tracking every time Trump contradicts himself on Twitter

Trump to Mayor of ‘Drowning’ Island: Don’t Worry About Sea Level Rise

America Doesn’t Feel Real Anymore

Trump’s Obama Obsession

America has a corruption problem. And it’s not just Trump.

The White House banned cameras from press briefings, so CNN sent in a courtroom sketch artist

GOP senators: Trump attack on MSNBC hosts ‘beneath the dignity of his office’

Jesus, Donald Trump, What The Fuck Is Wrong With You?

Morning Joe co-hosts accuse White House of blackmail over tabloid story

The Guy That’s In the White House Is Definitely the Guy Joe Scarborough Knew Two Years Ago

Donald Trump posts video clip of him ‘beating’ CNN in wrestling

‘South Park’ Will Ignore Donald Trump, Says Trey Parker

Historian Timothy Snyder: “It’s pretty much inevitable” that Trump will try to stage a coup and overthrow democracy

Trump Used to Make Sense When He Talked. So What Happened?

28-Year-Old Woman With No Political Experience Now Among Top Paid Trump Staffers

The music video that connects President Trump to his son’s meeting with a Kremlin-backed lawyer

Trump returned to Twitter to defend his meeting with Putin. It didn’t go well.

Ivanka Trump under fire after taking seat among world leaders at G20

Ivanka Trump’s qualification for sitting in at the G20? She’s part of the 1%

Trump Continues Tirade Against Press At Event Honoring Veterans

Rebecca Solnit: The Loneliness of Donald Trump

Trump’s Legal Team Argues That Sexual Harassment Is Protected By The 1st Amendment

Trump’s son met Russian who promised material on Clinton

Why Putin Loves Trump: He’s Making America Weak Again

Trump Supporters Go into Meltdown Over Moby’s Latest Music Video

The White House Isn’t Denying Any Key Facts About Donald Trump Jr.’s Russia Fiasco

Keith Olbermann digs up old Trump tweet that may confirm he knew Don Jr. met with Russian lawyer

Mike Pence distances himself from Trump campaign as Don Jr.’s emails threaten several insiders

What Do the Russians Have on the Trump Family? Fear.

Donald Trump Jr. is just staggeringly incompetent

Four explosive lines in Trump Jr emails

How Much More Absurdity Can You Handle?

New York Post: ‘Donald Trump Jr. is an Idiot’

US intel caught Trump team talking with Russians in 2015, before presidential campaign begins

Ordered by court to disclose his Russia contacts, [US Attorney General Jeff] Sessions releases blank piece of paper

Trump’s Russian Laundromat

George Takei: And We Thought Eric Trump Was the Stupid One

Eric Trump Just Attacked Keith Olbermann. Olbermann’s Response Is EPIC

Donald Trump Jr. paid attorney with funds from his father’s re-election campaign: report

Trump Cut $213 Million in Funds to Prevent Teen Pregnancy

Trump’s Favorite Pastime: Not Paying for Stuff

Trump’s Air War Has Already Killed More Than 2,000 Civilians

Given Trump’s Golf Habits, The Coast Guard Plans To Cut Off Potomac River Access

Die-hard Trump supporter struggles to name a single Trump accomplishment

Trump Team Forced To Spend Re-Election Campaign Money on Lawyers

Trump Lawyer Says Don Jr.’s Russia Meeting Was Secret Service’s Fault

OUCH: Texas paper destroys Trump’s six months in office by documenting every one of his failures

President Trump Just Broke a Startling Record in Iraq and Syria

Here’s Everything You Missed From Trump’s Inane Weekend Tweeting

Ivanka Trump Fancies Herself a Champion of ‘Women Who Work’—Tell That to Her Brand’s Factory Workers

Watch Donald Trump’s Weird Cameo in Video By Russian Pop Star at Center of Scandal

Is Trump Simply the Worst Human Being We Can Imagine? 14 Experts Weigh In

Jittery Donald Trump begs Theresa May to fix a ‘warm welcome’ for his state visit—and says he won’t set a date until he knows he’s going to get a ‘better reception’

Be wary: Trump and Putin could yet bring democracy to a halt

Fire trucks, golf clubs and double standards: Trump touts America

I’m a Lefty and I Joined a Trump Supporters Facebook Group: Here’s What I Learned

It Was Always About the Money—Russia and the Trumps: A Grift Story.

Donald Jr. Finally Relatable: Can’t Wait For His Dad’s Presidency to be Over

Trump Administration Considering Closing Office Of Cyber Security

Trump’s First Year in Office is Shaping Up to Be a Miserable Failure

Report: Russian mob money helped build Trump business empire

Trump tweets that not passing a healthcare bill was his plan all along

Could Trump Jr., Kushner, or Manafort Be Charged Under the Espionage Act?

‘Horrified’ former ethics boss reveals Trump didn’t want to verify that his own financial disclosure was true

Donald Trump Is Falling Apart

These links are current and up-to-date as of 9 a.m. Eastern Standard Time on July 20, 2017. I wouldn’t be surprised if new Trump Administration drama hits social media starting at 10 a.m.—one hour after this post goes live for the first time

The root cause of all this is simply the fact that President Trump has no prior experience yet he was elected and sworn in as president despite having zero experience. Every other U.S. president had either served in the military or had previously been elected to a lower office. Donald Trump is the first president who had done neither prior to being elected. This inexperience definitely shows at times, especially when President Trump takes to his Twitter account and tweets all kinds of crazy stuff (especially on the weekends).

What compounds this even further is that prior to his current White House gig, the only jobs he has ever held were in his family-run company. As a young employee he was immune from such things as dealing with a difficult boss or worrying about getting laid off because his father was head of the company. When he eventually succeeded his father as the company head, he really had it made because he could stay in his job as long as he wanted. He never had to be accountable to anyone who isn’t a member of his family before he moved to the White House.

Donald Trump only got as far as he did because he was born into wealth that was successively earned by his grandfather and father. If it weren’t for being born with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth, he probably would’ve ended up being one of those sleazy used car salesman who has no hesitation about illegally changing the odometer of a used car with a 200,000 mileage and trying to pass it off to an unsuspecting buyer as a “gently used car” with only 1,000 mileage. This guy has been a classic con artist for several years.  And he continued his con during the campaign last year as he toured the Rust Belt areas telling voters what they wanted to hear while managing to convince them that he’s a Working Class Hero who’s on their side. (Never mind the fact that Trump has never lived anything that even remotely resembled a working class lifestyle.)

As for any opposition to the Trump Administration, sadly you won’t find it in the Democratic Party. The party keeps on favoring centrist Democrats (meaning they have ties to Wall Street and won’t do much to help the average American) for special elections held since last November only to get totally trounced. The most recent example happened in Montana where voters preferred a Republican who was charged with assaulting a reporter from The Guardian newspaper over a centrist Democrat. Hillary Clinton emerged from hiding for the first time since her defeat last November to claim that she was the “victim” of the assumption that she would win while throwing her erstwhile supporter and former Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz under the bus by blaming the DNC structure on her loss. Basically Hillary Clinton blamed everyone else but the fact that she ran an incredibly crappy campaign where she kept on saying that she wasn’t Donald Trump and her policy positions can be found on her website. (I saw that first debate where she basically said this and I was appalled by both her and Trump that night.)

The Democrat Party should’ve been spending the past six months articulating policy positions such as the need to repair the aging infrastructure of the nation’s bridges and tunnels (which will not only make traveling safer but can also provided much needed jobs to the unemployed and underemployed). Instead they have been mostly silent with a few exceptions (such as Elizabeth Warren) while sticking with the same centrist Republican-lite policies that led to Donald Trump’s election last November.

Here’s the reason why being a centrist Republican-lite Democrat have been a disaster for the last several years. It alienates devoted party members so much that many of them end up staying home on Election Day. Plus most Republicans are not going to spring for a Republican-lite Democrat when they can simply vote for the real thing. This is why the Democrats have lost control of the House and Senate and why they were defeated for control of the Executive Branch last November.

How bad is the current Democratic Party at being a coherent voice of the opposition to the Trump Administration? Check out what the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) have up with as a potential slogan for next year’s mid-term elections: “Democrats 2018. I mean, have you seen the other guys?” This cutesy self-deprecating ad slogan is more appropriate for advertising a movie or a TV show than a major political campaign. This is too reminiscent of Hillary Clinton’s disastrous “I am not Donald Trump” message in her ill-fated campaign. If the DCCC actually go through with that ad campaign, they will definitely ensure the re-election of Republicans to not only the House and Senate but also to the state and local governments as well. Talk about self-sabotage!

Despite the Democrat Party’s self-sabotaging itself there are some from the progressive wing of the the party who are planning to run against centrist Democrats like Senator Joe Manchin in the primaries of next year’s mid-term elections. I wish them well in their efforts even though they face an uphill battle from the entrenched centrist Democrats who, naturally, are reluctant to cede any inch of power they have accumulated themselves over the past few decades. They will also have to overcome people like the writer of this essay who are naturally skeptical that any kind of real opposition to Donald Trump can rise up from the Democrat Party.

Right now the average American person is on his/her own until a real opposition movement rises up to challenge President Trump. So far I found three things that average Americans can do until President Trump is somehow removed from office.

Amid “Constitutional Crisis,” Bernie Sanders Urges Workers to Seize the Means of Production

The Long Road to Surviving Trump Begins With…Rejecting Neoliberalism

Push President Trump off of a cliff again and again

Uber can’t be fixed—it’s time for regulators to shut it down.

A new book examines how the upper-middle class has enriched itself and harmed economic mobility.

The rise of the 21st century Victorians.

Brooklyn’s famous Green Lady explains her lifelong devotion to the color green.

The far-out sci-fi costume parties of the Bauhaus school in the 1920s.

It’s the end of the shopping mall as we know it.

How to deal with a 4Chan troll. There is some information that’s useful for anyone who’s dealing with any kind of online troll regardless of whether it involves politics or not.

Low-income workers who live in RVs are being chased out of Silicon Valley streets.

Feminist publication makes history by appointing black trans woman as editor-in-chief.

The sketchbook of drawings done in ballpoint pen by Nicolas V. Sanchez.

A look at the female pioneers of the Bauhaus art movement.

The fight for health care is really all about civil rights.

23 ways to treat yourself without buying or eating anything.

Glow-in-the-dark “toonie” coins celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary.

These bosses share the worst interviews they’ve ever seen and the results are stunning.

Browse a collection of over 83,500 vintage sewing patterns.

Bid on old computers, speakers, radios, and other junk from the bowels of RadioShack.

This transgender doll is making huge strides in teaching children about gender roles.

She took on Tesla for discrimination. Now others are speaking up.

A new kind of tech job emphasizes skills, not a college degree.

Women in tech speak frankly on the culture of harassment.

Over decades of poverty, Detroit’s have fostered a resilient informal economy based on trust.

GoFraudMe is a blog that exposes fake GoFundMe campaigns.

Rural America is the new “inner city.”

3 ways to be seen as a leader in your field.

Artist repaints mass-produced dolls to make them look realistic and the result is amazing.

Every Sega game ever made is coming to iOS and Android for free.

Edvard Munch’s famous Scream painting animated to Pink Floyd music.

Despite serving time in a Russian prison under Vladimir Putin, a member of the punk rock group Pussy Riot is still defiant.

This 106-year-old cooking show host is YouTube’s oldest creator.

Ramadan

A look at the Silicon Valley billionaires remaking America’s schools.

Five CEOs who value humanity over profits.

Here are the details about Apertus AXIOM Beta, an open source camera.

Here’s a look at the oldest color photographs that vividly show what the world looked like 100 years ago.

The necessity of the Millennial side-hustle.

Google Drive will soon back up your entire computer.

A recent report shows that knitting can slow the onset of dementia.

A photo essay looks back on a groundbreaking interracial marriage on the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court Loving v. Virginia decision.

Alice Seeley Harris’ photos exposed the horrors of colonialism in Africa.

Open source TurtleBot 3 Robot Kit runs Ubuntu and ROS on Raspberry Pi.

Meet the Aussie man crocheting his way to Instagram stardom.

Iowa IT firm caught posting “No Americans” job listing, which raised the continuing controversial issue of hiring foreign-born H-1B workers.

Millennials are obsessed with side hustles because it’s all they’ve got.

The inventor of the Roomba has just launched a weed-killing robot named Tertill.

How photography shapes our view of Native Americans.

Konami reportedly blacklisting ex-employees across Japanese video game industry.

Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com (which currently houses this blog that you are currently reading), is closing its San Francisco office because most of its employees prefer to telecommute instead of showing up to work in person.

New York Public Library turns subway cars into mobile ebook libraries.

How the recently-deceased Batman actor Adam West played a prank on anyone who tried to look him up in the local phone book.

A free tutorial on how to make wind-up paper butterflies.

Over a decade later the first YouTube stars reflect on their fame and changes that happened to the YouTube platform over the years.

Ramadan

I’m devoting this Throwback Thursday post to my wedding day mainly because today is not only what would’ve been my wedding anniversary had my husband not left me for someone else but June 8 falls on a Thursday this year. June is the month that many couples in the U.S. traditionally get married. On top of it this month is LGBTQ Pride Month and I have a wedding-related story that definitely fits with that theme.

A couple of months ago on March 31 I saw a bunch of stories suddenly crop up on my Facebook feed about people speaking openly about either being transgender themselves or having a friend or loved one who is transgender. I didn’t know that the transgender community have been having an International Transgender Day of Visibility on March 31 since 2009. This year it really took off with all of the testimonials about transgender people and issues. I only wished someone had given me advanced notice because I would’ve told my own particular story then. So I decided to wait until Pride Month to tell my own story.

I grew up being completely ignorant about transgender people. I was raised Roman Catholic and the topic of being transgender was simply never brought up in church. The local public school system never mentioned that topic either in all the years I was a student there. The first person I recalled who actually had sex-reassignment surgery was a British man named James Morris, who became known as Jan Morris after having the surgery. I was a kid then and I thought it was pretty mind-blowing that one could change genders like that. I remember Jan Morris got tons of publicity and it ignited all kinds of debate about transsexuals (which is what transgender people were referred as at the time).

A few years later a tennis player named Renée Richards attempted to compete in the U.S Open as a female athlete. She became controversial when it was revealed that she was originally born a man and she, too, had a sex change operation. There were female tennis players who protested the idea of her being included in their tournaments.

When I was in college I picked up a copy of Gloria Steinem’s book Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions, which was a compilation of articles that she wrote in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Among those articles was a 1977 essay about the Renée Richards controversy called “Transsexualism.” Her hypothesis was that people opted for sex change operations because of the rigid gender roles that were proscribed in society, which dictates that boys don’t cry and girls don’t play sports. She basically said that if society were to loosen gender roles then men won’t feel the need to have sex change operations so they can express emotions more easily and women could play sports without having sex change operations to become men. Her closing words were “But the question remains: If the shoe doesn’t fit, must we change the foot?”

In the years since Gloria Steinem wrote her “Transsexualism” essay, there have been major changes in terms of gender roles. More men are opting to become stay-at-home dads while their wives work full-time. There are now male nurses, female doctors, male flight attendants, and female postal workers. The WNBA is a professional women’s basketball team and there is the FIFA Women’s World Cup Soccer. Women’s basketball, women’s hockey, and women’s soccer are all Olympic sports. Yet, despite these advances in gender equality, more and more people are coming out as transgender because they feel that they have literally been born in the wrong body, with the most prominent being Caitlyn Jenner, who once won an Olympic gold medal as Bruce Jenner.

During my college years at the University of Maryland at College Park, I met a couple of gay and lesbian students but my first-hand experience with transgender people was limited to going to a midnight screening of a certain cult film that has this musical number:

After college my fiancee and I decided to get married and it was my fiancee who, out of the blue, said that he wanted a church wedding. (I was always surprised by his preference. He told me that his family was basically nonreligious when he was growing up, with the exception of a few years when his family attended a Quaker congregation only to leave it when that congregation went through a nasty congregational split that disgusted his parents so much that they quit.) I had stopped going to mass and I would’ve been content with a civil marriage by a justice of the peace. I told him that we would’ve had to go to marriage classes if we were to be married in the Roman Catholic church while he would have to promise that any future children we had would be raised Catholic. He remembered an ad I had shown him that was published in The Washington Post a year earlier that was for Unitarian Universalism that said “Instead of having to fit in with a church, I found a church that fits me” while telling him that I was impressed with it. (I remember when I found that ad while I was going through the Sunday paper. There were no Unitarian Universalist groups on campus and the nearest congregation was only available by car, which I didn’t have at the time, so I never followed up on that ad and I soon forgot about it.) He even found a local UU congregation that he said we could try. (He also lined up a few other denominations we could try as well—namely Quaker and the United Church of Christ—in case the UU church didn’t work out for either of us.)

So we went to our first UU service and we were impressed with the minister. We found out after the service that the woman was a visiting minister and the regular minister would be speaking the following week. We were still impressed with the fact that the church had a weekly coffee hour where people stuck around and socialized after Sunday service. (In contrast, my old Roman Catholic parish had something similar called “Hospitality Sunday” that was only held once a month. Otherwise, people basically spilled into the parking lot and drove home once mass ended.) We were also impressed with how friendly the people there were. We went back the following week to check out the regular minister and we were impressed with him as well. We started going every week and, after a few months, we signed the membership book. We even managed to get the minister to officiate at our wedding so my husband got his way on having a religious wedding.

So we were married by a UU minister. During the reception I threw my wedding bouquet and one of the single ladies caught it. Then my new husband removed the garter from my leg and one of his single friends caught it. Then the bouquet catcher and garter catcher posed for a photo with me and my newly wedded husband.

The guy who caught my garter was named Dave Norris. Dave’s mother and my husband’s mother were friends and there were times when Dave hung around with my husband and his neighborhood friends in Long Island even though Dave was a few years younger than my husband.

Traditionally there is this old wives’ tale that says that people who catch the bouquet and garter are the ones who will be married next. That doesn’t usually happen in real life but Dave was the rare exception because he got married the following year while my husband was the best man at his wedding. It was a short-lived marriage that happened soon after his girlfriend found out that she was pregnant. The bride was six months pregnant at the wedding. Three months later she had the baby. Three months after the birth, Dave and his new wife separated and they were soon divorced.

My husband and I saw Dave in person a few more times after the quick wedding/separation/divorce. The last time we saw Dave was when he traveled to Maryland with his then-latest girlfriend because he was going to a conference in Washington, DC. The four of us ate at a local restaurant. After that we lost touch with Dave for a few years.

Meanwhile my husband and I became more involved in our new UU congregation where we made new friends. About a year or two later my husband and I ended up as co-chairs of the church’s Social Action Committee. During that time AIDS was starting to ravish the nation. At the same time there was a big March on Washington for LGBTQ people that was announced. A long-time member came to us about doing a lay service about AIDS. We knew that he was previously married to a woman and he had two children (one of whom would tragically die in a car accident when she was only in her early 20’s). It was during that time he came out to us as gay. A short time later he came out as gay to the rest of the congregation. I have to admit that the congregation was shocked but ultimately accepted him because he had been an active member. (If he had been a member of my old religion, he would’ve been driven away no matter how long he had been a member.)

I’ve already written plenty about that longtime member coming out as gay in this blog so I suggest reading this post if you want to learn more about Ed Kobee and his spouse, Al Usack. After Ed managed to rally his fellow congregation members (including my husband and I) to actually attend the March on Washington for LGBTQ rights, he and Al became activists within both our congregation, the Joseph Priestley District, and in the greater UUA for that faith to become more welcoming to LGBTQ people (which resulted in the UUA’s Welcoming Congregation program). Due to those efforts we started to seeing people who were openly gay, lesbian, and bisexual attending our Sunday services. Some became members for years while others attended for a short while then moved on.

I met my first openly transgender person through my UU congregation. One of the newer members was an open bisexual who had joined with her then-husband, who was also bisexual. (They gave a forum at my congregation on bisexuality where they said they had extramarital dalliances with same-sex partners.) That marriage subsequently ended and her husband left the church. She started a new relationship with a person who was born a man but he underwent a sex change operation and was now living as a woman. Yet she was still sexually attracted to women. I attended a forum on transgender at my church and this person spoke openly about how she felt like she was born in the wrong body yet she was still attracted to women. That was how I learned that gender identity and sexual orientation are two completely different things. This person was born in a male body and was sexually attracted to females so society designated him as a heterosexual. After the surgery this person was a woman yet was still sexually attracted to females so society designated her as a lesbian.

Basically the bisexual woman and the transgender woman started a relationship and stayed together for many years until the transgender woman died a few years ago. Over the years we’ve had other transgender people attend our Sunday services. I really can’t elaborate further on these other people because it’s really not my story to tell. On top of it, even though these people are openly transgender to my congregation, they aren’t quite as open to the general public outside of church. That’s because there have been too many cases of transgender discrimination on the job and in housing. And that’s not to mention the fact that there have been Republican lawmakers who are trying to pass those bathroom bills that only exist to make a transgender person’s live much harder. If that weren’t enough, there’s the fact that transgender folks are frequently targets of beatings, sexual assaults, and other acts of violence perpetrated against them by transphobic criminals.

Getting back to my husband’s friend who caught my garter at our wedding, we basically didn’t hear from Dave Norris for a number of years. One day, out of the blue, Dave called our house. My husband and Dave had an enjoyable conversation on the phone. Dave told my husband that he had started his own consulting firm and he gave my husband the URL to his new website.

My husband visited the website and saw the page that had the list of the small staff that the consulting firm had along with headshots. He saw the name “Denise Norris” on the list. At first he assumed that Dave had gotten remarried and his wife was helping out in the new venture. But then he took a closer look at that photo and saw that it looked like Dave dressing in drag. My husband soon called his old friend back and asked point blank if this person now a woman. His friend admitted it.

I remember that night my husband decided to take me out to dinner and he relayed that story about his friend is now living as a woman while we were in the car. We had the car radio on at the time while my husband was telling me this and this song suddenly came on the air.

Talk about serendipity! My husband and I got a good laugh out of it.

I have to admit that accepting my husband’s friend as a woman was slightly more challenging for this reason. The other transgender people I met through my UU congregation had already made the change so I never knew them in their previous gender. On the other hand, both my husband and I knew this person when he was a guy. (And my husband knew this person longer than I did since my husband hung around with this person while they were growing up on Long Island.)

A month or so later Denise was in the DC area attending a conference so we decided to get together for dinner at a local restaurant. It was awkward at first but then we hit it off, especially when my husband and Denise started talking about the old days when they were growing up and they would get into some escapades together.

We also learned that basically Denise had long felt like she was a female even though she was born a boy but she had kept those feelings to herself while she was growing up. I can understand why she felt she had to do this. There have been too many cases of transgender children being rejected by their parents and being targeted by bullies in school. It was only after she reached adulthood that her feelings became stronger and it reached the point where she felt that she had to have the surgery. I also remember that her mother was dead by then. (I don’t know if Denise ever came out to her mother before her death or not.) I’m only paraphrasing here because I don’t have an exact transcript of our conversation from that night and I’m just relying on my less-than-perfect memories here.

I have to credit Unitarian Universalism for my husband and I quickly adjusting to the fact that Dave Norris was now living as a woman named Denise Norris. If we hadn’t met other transgender people before seeing Denise, I think it would’ve taken both of us longer to accept Denise as she is now.

We would see Denise in person a few more times after that. I think the last time we met in person was sometime before 2008 (the year I had my hip replacement).

As for the woman who caught my bouquet at my wedding who is also in that photo I posted a few paragraphs ago, her name is Trisha and she’s my godfather’s daughter. I last saw her in person when my father died in 2000 and she stopped by the funeral home one evening during the viewing period. My husband and I told her what happened to the guy who caught the garter at the wedding and how he is now living as a woman. I remember Trisha smiling and deadpanning, “I have that effect on men sometimes.” (LOL!)

Denise Norris now works at Accenture and she is also a transgender activist whose speciality is getting corporations to not only end job discrimination among transgender people but also offer benefits to them (such as health insurance that’s broad enough to afford such expenses as hormone therapy and sex change surgery). She frequently gives media interviews on the topic, such as this recent example. I follow her on Facebook where I read her posts on transgender issues and fellow transgender people like Caitlyn Jenner. (Like many in the transgender community, Denise basically has a dim view of Caitlyn mainly because Caitlyn continues to support the same Republican Party that has been coming out with those notorious bathroom bills in recent years.) I haven’t directly communicated with her in years, especially since I am now divorced and Denise had been more of a friend of my ex-husband’s than mine. On top of it, our paths simply haven’t crossed in real life. There are times I wonder if Denise still has my old wedding garter and, if so, had she ever worn it. (LOL!)

As for my UU congregation there are still LGBTQ members who are active. The most recent transgender member is a person who originally joined my congregation as a man a few years ago. He was open about admitting that he was suffering from gender dysphoria and he was seeing a therapist about that. Last year this person decided to undergo medical treatment and she is now living as a woman. She is also in a relationship with a cis woman who’s a lesbian. This member now looks happier than before the change.

That’s it for my story.

That day was the People’s Climate March on Washington, the latest in a series of anti-Trump marches that began with the Women’s March back in January. I would’ve gone to that one if it weren’t for the fact that I had a scheduling conflict. But I don’t feel too guilty over missing that one since I took part in the Women’s March on Washington and the Werk for Peace Dance Protest.

Besides there are more anti-Trump marches on Washington planned for the future which will focus on LGBTQ rights, fans of the hip hop group Insane Clown Posse (that one is because, for some weird reason, the federal government has classified the fans of this group as gangs and terrorists), and public education. I’m sure there will be even more marches the longer Trump stays in the White House.

I had a pretty busy Saturday. First I decided to help out with the yard sale that’s put on by Changing Focus, which helps people deal with separation, divorce, and widowhood. The yard sale was held on the grounds of the Prince of Peace Presbyterian Church in Crofton, Maryland, which gave me a rare opportunity to see this church in broad daylight. (The support group meetings are usually held on Thursday nights.) I noticed that the church had its own Little Free Library.

Prince of Peace Presbyterian Church

Prince of Peace Presbyterian Church

I also saw this huge banner saying that the church is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

Prince of Peace Presbyterian Church

Prince of Peace Presbyterian Church

Prince of Peace Presbyterian Church

Plus I took a couple photos of this beautiful azalea bush that was in full bloom.

Prince of Peace Presbyterian Church

Prince of Peace Presbyterian Church

The yard sale had plenty of items but I saw none of the outdated technology products that I saw in previous yard sales. (Which included a Westinghouse vacuum tube, a microcassette recorder, blank 5.25″ computer floppy disks, a TiVo, a VHS tape rewinder, and a portable analogue TV set with a built-in VHS player.) I guess the organization is discouraging these kinds of donations mainly because I never saw anyone buy the outdated technology items. There were still some kitschy items, some of which definitely belongs in a museum.

Changing Focus Yard Sale, April 29, 2017

Changing Focus Yard Sale, April 29, 2017

Changing Focus Yard Sale, April 29, 2017

Changing Focus Yard Sale, April 29, 2017

Changing Focus Yard Sale

Changing Focus Yard Sale

Changing Focus Yard Sale

Changing Focus Yard Sale

Changing Focus Yard Sale

Like previous yard sales, this one was well-attended with plenty of shoppers. The weather was cloudy, hot (the temperature rose into the upper 80’s), and very humid. At one point there was a shower but, fortunately it was a short-lived storm. By the time the volunteers grabbed tarp to cover the clothes with the rain had ended. That brief storm didn’t affect attendance at the yard sale very much.

Changing Focus Yard Sale

The next photo shows the pit beef tent on the church grounds. The proceeds from the sale went to the Anne Arundel Volunteer Fire Department.

Changing Focus Yard Sale

The Prince of Peace Presbyterian Church had a book sale inside the building, which I browsed through. I also managed to walk next door to the grounds of the Crofton Country Club, where the Festival on the Green event was held.

Festival on the Green, April 29, 2017

Festival on the Green, April 29, 2017

The next two photos show a hockey mask that was signed by one of the actors who played Jason in the Friday the 13th movies. That mask wasn’t for sale. It was part of the decorations that were displayed on the Laurel House of Horror and Escape Room booth.

Festival on the Green, April 29, 2017

Festival on the Green, April 29, 2017

Festival on the Green, April 29, 2017

Festival on the Green, April 29, 2017

Festival on the Green, April 29, 2017

Festival on the Green, April 29, 2017

Festival on the Green, April 29, 2017

Festival on the Green, April 29, 2017

I bought a few items during my time in Crofton. I bought this bar of vanilla bean soap from the Simply Natural Handcrafted booth.

What I Purchased During My Time in Crofton

I bought a couple of books at the used book sale that was held inside the Prince of Peace Presbyterian Church. I found this hardcover book of counted cross-stitch patterns called The Great Counted Cross-Stitch Book by Ed and Stevie Baldwin for only 50 cents.

What I Purchased During My Time in Crofton

I also purchased a used copy of the Weight Watchers Quick Success Program Cookbook by Jean Nidetch. I once owned a copy of this book and I used to frequently cook meals from that book regardless of whether my husband and I were on diets or not. (The recipes in that book are that delicious.) When my marriage imploded I made the mistake of telling my husband that I had been going to the Thursday night Changing Focus meetings in an effort to improve myself. (He blamed me for the marriage collapse. At the time I wanted him back so I told him about those meetings in the hopes that he would return home.) He used that information to let himself into our home when I wasn’t there on Thursday nights and take some belongings. Among those was that cookbook. So I now have my own copy so I can cook those meals for myself now.

What I Purchased During My Time in Crofton

Like I wrote at the beginning of this post, I had a pretty busy Saturday. I ended up leaving the Changing Focus yard sale earlier than usual because I had another event scheduled at 2 p.m. for the same day. It was a beer tasting that I purchased through my church auction last fall. Even though it gave me a chance to socialize with some of my friends from church while tasting a few beers, I didn’t take any pictures. I was more into enjoying myself than playing photographer.

April 8 was a pretty busy night. The local theater in Greenbelt, Maryland was among the numerous theaters nationwide who held a simultaneous screening of the film 1984. Before the movie began a group of local activists held a reading of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech “Beyond Vietnam” in honor of the 50th anniversary of that speech. (Ironically MLK gave that speech exactly one year before his assassination.)

Reading Martin Luther King's Letter

Reading Martin Luther King's Letter

Reading Martin Luther King's Letter

By the way, if you’re curious about the speech itself, you can read the text or you can hear Rev. King actually give that speech himself.

Passover

I went to the Light City event in Baltimore on its second night, which fell on April Fool’s Day, but this event was definitely no joke. I wrote a previous post about that night where I wrote about what it was like to see my own animation, The March of Liberty, being shown on a giant screen at such a popular event like Light City while posting a reaction video I made. I’m finally getting around to sharing the rest of the photos. (I took a bunch of pictures that night so I ended up having to make decisions on which photos to use.)

I arrived before sunset because I wanted to find where the On Demand area was located. As you can see in the pictures, it was a very cloudy day.

I took a few pictures of Camden Yards when I was on my way to transferring from the Camden Yards light rail stop to the Charm City Circulator heading towards the Inner Harbor. Opening day would take place just a few days after I took these pictures.

Camden Yards

Here’s a statue of Cal Ripken’s retired number.

Camden Yards

Here’s a statue of famous baseball player Babe Ruth, who was born in Baltimore.

Camden Yards

These painted baseballs on the sidewalk near the statue leads the way to the nearby Babe Ruth Museum.

Camden Yards

The street banners proclaim that this year is the 25th anniversary of the day that the Baltimore Orioles began playing their home games at Camden Yards.

Camden Yards

I ended up traveling way out to Pier 6 in the Inner Harbor. I took a few pictures while I was blundering around, starting with one of the Harborplace pavilions, which is currently undergoing remodeling and renovation.

Light City at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

Light City at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

Here is what one of the Light City art pieces looked like in broad daylight.

Light City at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

I walked past the Power Plant, where I noticed the guitar-themed railing that’s currently located outside of the Hard Rock Cafe.

Light City at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

Located opposite the Power Plant is a tropical-themed bar known as Dick’s Last Resort.

Light City at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

Some lights resembling birds roosting in trees outside of the Pier 5 Hotel.

Light City at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

A whimsical display that looks like something out of the film Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory outside of an office building.

Light City at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

McCormick & Schmick’s restaurant at its Pier 5 location.

Light City at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

Light City at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

Three umbrella-filled boats floating in Baltimore Harbor.

Light City at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

I decided that I needed to take a break so I found a bench where I ate my dinner. (It was a fried chicken dinner with thick fries and a roll that I purchased at a Royal Farms store located in Linthicum before I took the light rail into Baltimore.) While I was eating this immigration rights protest march had arrived at the Pier 5 area of the Inner Harbor and the protesters walked right past the bench where I was eating my dinner. I took the opportunity to take some pictures.

Light City at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

Light City at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

Light City at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

Light City at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

Light City at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

Light City at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

Light City at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

Light City at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

The marchers made their way to the Inner Harbor Lighthouse, which was being used as a display area for a Light City exhibit about immigrants. A post-march rally was held next to that exhibit.

Light City at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

Light City at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

Light City at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

Light City at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

Light City at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

Light City at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

Light City at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

Light City at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

Light City at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

Light City at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

Light City at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

I finally found the On Demand area. I took a photo of the sign.

Light City, Baltimore, April 1, 2017

I even took a closeup of the area of the sign where my name was printed.

Light City, Baltimore, April 1, 2017

Here’s a shot of the On Demand screen, which was showing another video, along with a glimpse of the backs of the adirondack chairs that were provided for people to sit in before sunset.

On Demand Area at Light City

Here’s another shot of the On Demand screen, showing a different video, at night.

On Demand Area at Light City

Like I wrote in a prior entry, I waited outside in the cold for over two hours until my film was finally shown. When it finally appeared I got very enthusiastic. I shot a short reaction video. I also shot stills of my film being on screen. Maybe I shot too many stills but it was such a rare opportunity to see my video being shown in a public venue like this that I felt like I had to document it from all angles (including some shots of people sitting in the chairs) so I can prove to other people that one of my videos was actually shown in public like this.

My Animation Video

My Animation Video

My Animation Video

My Animation Video

My Animation Video

My Animation Video

My Animation Video

My Animation Video

My Animation Video

My Animation Video

My Animation Video

My Animation Video

My Animation Video

My Animation Video

My Animation Video

My Animation Video

My Animation Video

My Animation Video

My Animation Video

My Animation Video

As for how the people who were there responded to my video, I wasn’t able to get any kind of an accurate gauge as to whether people liked it or not. I didn’t get any boos. But I also didn’t hear any cheers. I saw a few people sitting in chairs watching it when I was there. By the way, you can view that animation, The March of Liberty, right here.

After my film was shown, I left the On Demand area. I had sat in the cold for so long that my body felt stiff. I also had to start making a move towards the nearest light rail station so I can catch one of the last trains out of the city. I managed to take a few more pictures of the other Light City exhibits as I made my way back to the light rail station while wading my way through the massive crowds at the same time. (Yes, the second annual Light City was just as crowded as the first year was.)

Light City in Baltimore

Light City in Baltimore

Light City in Baltimore

Light City in Baltimore

Light City in Baltimore

Light City in Baltimore

Light City in Baltimore

Even a few Baltimore police officers blended in with Light City.

Light City in Baltimore

Light City in Baltimore

Here is one of the bar tents that were set up at the event. As you can see in the picture below, it drew a lot of people.

Light City in Baltimore

Light City in Baltimore

Light City in Baltimore

Light City in Baltimore

Light City in Baltimore

Light City in Baltimore

Light City in Baltimore

Light City in Baltimore

Light City in Baltimore

Light City in Baltimore

Light City in Baltimore

Light City in Baltimore

Light City in Baltimore

Light City in Baltimore

Light City in Baltimore

Light City in Baltimore

Light City in Baltimore

Light City in Baltimore

Light City in Baltimore

The last photo shows one of the Light City exhibits being reflected in the back of a bus stop terminal.

Light City in Baltimore

There were more to Light City that what I shot but between fatigue and trying to make the light rail, I wasn’t able to see it all. I had planned to making one return trip but the first night I had scheduled—which was two nights before the final night—rained very heavily. So I put it off until the following night, which was the night before the final night, only to have a very cold front with heavy winds replace that heavy rainstorm. I wasn’t able to make it the last night because I went to the annual Sakura Matsuri festival in Washington, DC and I really couldn’t physically handle two festivals on the same day.

Passover

I decided to check out this night networking event that was held at the UMBC Training Center in Columbia, Maryland. I decided to beat the rush hour traffic and head up to Columbia a few hours early. I hung around the Mall in Columbia for a bit since I haven’t been there in a very long time. Here’s a photo of the indoor carousel that’s located on the upper level of that mall.

I saw this incredibly colorful clown sculpture that was made from balloons.

This year is the 50th anniversary of the Mall in Columbia, which is why there was a 50th birthday cake floating in the fountain. The cake was made from balloons so it wasn’t edible anyway.

The Disney Store had this huge display because it had recently released the live action remake of its 1990’s animated film Beauty and the Beast.

The next photo shows the official doll that was widely mocked on the Internet as being ugly and looking like Justin Bieber. The doll was supposed to resemble actress Emma Watson, who played Belle in the movie, but I personally thought that the results were less-than-thrilling. I agreed with the critics who said that the doll looked more like Justin Bieber wearing a long brown wig than Emma Watson. (By the way a doll artist named Noel Cruz took one of the dolls and did a total repaint job. The results resembled Emma Watson way better than the original doll faceup.)

The Disney Store sold a larger doll that was based on the 1990’s animated version. I thought that doll looked way better than the other one.

The Disney Store also sold this Moana doll that looked gorgeous. I’ll admit that I haven’t gotten around to see the movie yet but I totally adored that doll so much that I would’ve bought it if it weren’t for the fact that I’m still dealing with tight finances.

I ate an early dinner at the Mall in Columbia because I wasn’t sure about the food situation. I was glad I did because this event had mostly snacks. After dinner I drove straight to the UMBC Training Center where the Coaches’ Corner event took place. It was basically an event where we received free counseling in small groups from various career coaches coupled with networking and it ended with a panel discussion from all of the participating career coaches. The day before the event I received an email asking participants to take photos of the evening, upload them on social media, and give them various hashtags. Here are my two photos from the event. The next photo shows the networking that took place before the panel discussion.

The last photo shows the panel discussion from the career coaches.

I only took two pictures because I was more focused on getting advice on finding jobs than taking pictures. I got some pretty good advice from the career coaches, especially on using LinkedIn.

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