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Ramadan

For the third year in a row I went to Light City in Baltimore (which is also the festival’s third year). (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 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 just 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.

I had the idea of taking the Charm City Circulator bus 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 Light City entry into two. Yesterday I wrote about Little Italy and Harbor East. Today’s blog post is about Light City itself.

This year I shot video footage of some of the Light City exhibits. Here is the resulting video showing the highlights of that festival.

Here are the still photos I shot at Light City. When I arrived at the Inner Harbor the first thing I did was to eat the Royal Farms chicken while viewing the Harbor East marina at the beginning of a sunset.

Harbor East, April 28, 2018

I walked along the Inner Harbor where I saw the beginnings of Light City.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

There were Fireflies Pedicabs that provided a service to give people a ride along the eastern end of the Inner Harbor. They were very colorful to look at.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

I arrived at the first Light City structure called Pulse Portal by Davis McCarty. Even though it was still light outside when I was there, I managed to have fun shooting the Inner Harbor at sunset through the colored glass of the structure.

Light City, Baltimore, Maryland, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, Maryland, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, Maryland, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, Maryland, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, Maryland, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, Maryland, April 21, 2018

When I was there a couple were preparing to get married by that structure.

2018 Light City, Baltimore, Maryland, April 21, 2018

2018 Light City, Baltimore, Maryland, April 21, 2018

2018 Light City, Baltimore, Maryland, April 21, 2018

2018 Light City, Baltimore, Maryland, April 21, 2018

Mr. Trash Wheel was docked along the Inner Harbor.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

The Herd by Kelley Bell consists of a flock of inflatable blue creatures floating in the Inner Harbor.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Octopus by Tim Scofield, Kyle Miller, and Steve Dalnekoff is a giant animatronic octopus whose tentacles were slowly moving while it was changing colors and playing very calming electronic music. I found it pretty mesmerizing to watch in person.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

This Coffee Bar tent was one of many tents that served refreshments to the general public at Light City.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

I came upon the On Demand area, which brought back memories for me. Last year I had my animation, The March of Liberty, shown in that area. I still have memories of sitting outside freezing in one of those adirondack chairs for over two hours waiting for my animation to be shown. I was so thrilled when it was finally shown that I shot this quick reaction video.

This year I didn’t submit anything to this festival. It was partially due to laziness and partially because I still have less-than-thrilling memories of sitting outside in the cold for a very long time. Even though I was ultimately happy when my animation was shown, it didn’t really lead to any further opportunities for me. (I had hoped that the showing of my animation at Light City would lead to some kind of a job or career breakthrough for me but it didn’t work out that way.) In contrast to last year, I didn’t spend much time in the On Demand area. I hung around just long enough to shoot these two pictures.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

There were a few giant screens that were placed throughout the Inner Harbor that showed random video clips.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Something in the Water by Post Typography + PI.KL + Figure 53 featured some underwater lights that flashed just below the surface of the harbor.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

I came upon the Institute of Marine & Environmental Technology (IMET) where a few of the Labs @ Light City were held. I arrived on the last night of Light City so the building was closed when I was there, which is why I was only able to get a few external shots.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Here’s the installation As of a Now by Elissa Blount.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

There was another underwater installation called What Lies Beneath by Formstone Castle.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

A drummer and a dance troupe performed outside of the Power Plant.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Many people walked through the bridge-like Synesthesia by Surcreative.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

There was this line standing outside of the igloo-like The Eighth Art that was so long that I decided to skip it.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

There were a few street performers playing for the Light City crowd.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Sun Stomp by the Sun Stomp Collective was this animation that required people to stomp on these nearby metal bleachers. The effect was pretty neat but it provided noise that was so loud that I had to leave quickly before I developed a headache.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

This year Light City had something called Mini Light City, which was geared towards families. This elephant balloon graced the entrance to Mini Light City.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

There was a tent sponsored by Future Makers where parents and children could make simple projects that involved light. That area was very crowded.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

The Mini Light City area had another tent that was easier to get inside. It was sponsored by The PURGG Project and it included hands-on demonstrations using robots and drones.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

A WJZ-TV (Channel 13) van parks at Light City.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City in Baltimore drew such huge crowds that Harborplace was packed with people. This photo shows why I decided not to buy anything from It’s Sugar that night.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

There were some psychedelic-like effects at the installation Colour Moves by Rombout Frieling Lab.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

There was a small carnival consisting of a ferris wheel ride (known as The Big Wheel) surrounded by concessions stands.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Many people have fun with rotating the giant prisms that made up the installation Prismatica by Raw Design, Atomic3, Jean-François Piché, and Dix au carré/Production: Quartier des Spectacles, Montreal.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Here’s the bird-like installation On the Wings of Freedom by Aether and Hemera.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

The big HMO giant Kaiser Permanente sponsored something called a Thrive Garden, which, as far as I could tell, was a place where people sat down on benches.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Here is Elantica by Tom Dekyvere.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Some vector animations were shown on the outside of the Maryland Science Center.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Club Light City was an outdoor bar and dance area that was very crowded.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

And last, but not least, here is the installation Drone Prix.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

This year, for the first time ever, I managed to visit the entire Light City area in the Inner Harbor. The key to my success was that I took the light rail to Camden Yards then I walked to the nearest Charm Circulator bus stop where I took the Orange bus to the Little Italy stop then walked through Harbor East in order to get to the very far eastern end of the Inner Harbor then walked west back towards the Maryland Science Center. While I managed to see most of the Inner Harbor attractions, I didn’t see all of Light City. This year the festival expanded to a few outlying neighborhoods such as Fells Point and Federal Hill. I wasn’t able to attend any of these other Light City events due to tight finances and scheduling conflicts. Maybe next year I’ll make an effort to visit at least one of these neighborhoods hosting their own portion of Light City.

As I left the Inner Harbor to go back to the Camden Yards light rail stop I saw this sign announcing a special Lyft pick-up spot for those who went to Light City and decided to use Lyft’s services.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

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Today is Tax Day in the United States, which means that everyone must file his/her state and federal tax returns today or else. Unless you happen to be President Donald Trump, which means you can continue to somehow evade paying taxes (and maybe not even bother with filing), brag about being smart for not paying taxes, deny ever saying that despite video evidence to the contrary, and get away with it—if you are Donald Trump then you can just treat today like it’s any other day in April. (He’s currently in his Mar-a-Lago estate as of this writing. He’s probably playing a round or two of golf while you’re reading this, which is what he usually does when he’s there.)

Five years ago this month I got a notice on Facebook that Occupy Baltimore and Luminous Intervention were doing a joint rollout of a new video game called Tax Evaders that emerged from the Occupy Wall Street movement and they planned on projecting that game outside on the wall of a building whose exact name and location was kept secret until the very last minute. (The secrecy was due to the organizers trying to avoid the local police learning about that event and trying to shut it down while possibly arresting people.) That rollout was scheduled for the same day that I was due in divorce court. My divorce case was scheduled early enough in the morning that I could easily make the trip to Baltimore to check out Tax Evaders that same evening.

My divorce case started at 9 a.m. and the entire trial ended at 9:20 a.m. It took 20 minutes to dissolve my marriage to my college sweetheart that was mostly a happy one until he abruptly left me for a woman with severe mental health problems (but that’s another story altogether). I arrived home and I felt depressed and drained. I drove back home in an effort to decompress from what was a surreal nightmare but I felt restless. I decided to drive to Baltimore several hours early where I walked around the the Inner Harbor snapping pictures. (You can see the pictures I took that day along with detailed descriptions of both my day in divorce court and my time in Baltimore right here.) I kept on walking around the Inner Harbor snapping pictures like some kind of a dazed zombie photographer until it was close to dinnertime when I boarded the Charm City Circulator bus and went to Fells Point.

Once I arrived at Fells Point I ate dinner at Brick Oven Pizza then headed to the Broadway Market, which was the designated meeting place for the Tax Evaders event. A small group of like-minded people were there and we hung around making small talk until someone from the Occupy Baltimore group met us and we were directed to the nearby Bank of America building where the Tax Evaders video game would be projected. The video game itself was being played with an X-Box Kinnect, which meant that people could play the game without needing to use any kind of gaming controls. I shot a short video showing what it was like.

I also shot still photos of that event as well, which you can view right here.

I found another short video on YouTube of the same event that was shot by the event’s co-sponsor, Luminous Intervention. This one includes short interviews with the activists behind that event along with the reactions of the people who played that game.

Five years later the entire Occupy Wall Street movement is mostly dormant (with the exception of various Facebook and Twitter accounts that use the name Occupy Wall Street but they seem to be more focused on sharing links these days than doing any kind of real-life organizing street protests on behalf of the 99%) while Occupy Baltimore is defunct. The Luminous Intervention site is still online but it hasn’t been updated in a year. Tax Evaders still remains online and it’s still available to play for free. Tax Evaders is basically a Space Invaders clone where you have to shoot down corporations who have successfully evaded paying their fair share of taxes. If you shoot down enough of those corporations, you will see government funding get restored to schools, libraries, and other government programs that benefit average Americans.

If you like Space Invaders and are concerned about economic inequality, then Tax Evaders is for you. The only sad part about this game is that the entire game’s premise has not been dated at all. In fact, the game is still just as relevant today as it was five years ago (if not more relevant in light of President Donald Trump’s recent tax reform bill that successfully passed last year).

So if you’re feeling frustrated about figuring out your taxes for this year, then you can take out your frustrations on Tax Evaders. One major caveat, you will need to have Flash installed in order to play this game.

Tax Evaders video game

UPDATE (April 18, 2018): It looks like Tax Day has been extended to today due to the fact that the IRS website had literally crashed yesterday with the throngs of people filing their tax returns. So that means you can have some more time taking out your tax-related frustrations on the Tax Evaders video game.

Presidents' Day
I’ve been meaning to write this about my first year of living under President Donald Trump but I got diverted by the Women’s March on Washington and other things in my life. But I still wanted to write about my impressions about Donald Trump after living under his regime for a full year. Besides it’s pretty appropriate for me to upload this post today since it’s Presidents’ Day.

Deport Trump Mural

(Photo originally uploaded on March 16, 2017.)

I’ve also included some photos and drawings I’ve done over the past year in this entry, some of which are definitely NSFW.

picture11

(Drawing originally posted on January 24, 2017)

I had very low expectations of that man mainly because he had never held public office before and the only jobs he had ever held were in his family-owned business. (In fact I uploaded this post on Inauguration Day where I predicted that Trump will not last past his first term in office. I still maintain that there will not be a second term for Donald Trump and it’s possible that he might get removed from office before then.) He never had to deal with such things as being accountable to someone else or trying to work with a difficult person. He never had to worry about being fired or laid off. He was immune from all this for much of his life and he’s now having to deal with a very steep learning curve that most other adults his age have long since encountered and mastered.

photo35

(Photo originally posted on February 8, 2017.)

Let’s just say that President Trump hasn’t done anything that exceeded my low expectations so I’m not really disappointed in how he behaved in his first year in office.

(Drawing originally uploaded on July 31, 2017.)

When he was elected I did a bunch of Google searches on what Nazi Germany was like in the early days. That’s because I knew that the concentration camps didn’t start on the first day of Adolf Hitler’s reign. Those started much later. I found that Nazi Germany started off subtly with the passing of anti-semitic laws and increased censorship but, otherwise, things seemed normal for most people (except for the Jews). As time went on, the Nazis escalated things until the entire regime turned into a total nightmare for most people. The slow progression of the Nazi regime from being relatively benign to a total horror show was like putting a frog in a pot full of lukewarm water and gradually turning up the heat until the frog boiled to death.

Women's March on Washington, January 21, 2017

(Photo originally posted on January 31, 2017.)

So far I haven’t seen anything happening in my area that would convince me to gather whatever I can carry on my back and make the long trek north to Canada. In fact, I’ve seen signs, stickers, and even protests that have proved to me that the people in the Baltimore-Washington DC area haven’t given up in their opposition to Donald Trump.

Werk for Peace Dance Protest, Washington, DC, February 3, 2017

(Photo originally posted on February 9, 2017.)

Not too long ago the local movie house in my area had a free screening of the 1940 film The Mortal Storm, which starred Margaret Sullavan, James Stewart, Frank Morgan (who had appeared on film the previous year as the Wizard in The Wizard of Oz), and Robert Young (who would later star in the TV shows Father Knows Best and Marcus Welby, MD). The movie showed how the rise of the Nazis eventually tore apart a family who lived in a small town in the German Alps. I found the film to be very engrossing yet its depressing ending had me compare that film with what is currently going on in real life.

(Drawing originally uploaded on August 30, 2017.)

So far I haven’t seen any book burnings like the one that was depicted in The Mortal Storm but I still remember when the neo-Nazis marched on Charlottesville last year, which resulted in Heather Heyer being mowed down by a car that was driven by a neo-Nazi. Donald Trump not only refused to denounce what had happened but he seemed to side with the neo-Nazis. On top of it, it seems like Trump’s siding with neo-Nazis have seemed to encouraged others who would never consider joining a far-right hate group like the KKK or the neo-Nazis yet still consider people of color to be inferior to those with white skin to start openly use racial slurs, such as this recent example.

(Photo originally posted on June 21, 2017.)

There was a scene in The Mortal Storm when Professor Roth’s defense of science in his classroom was the last straw for the local Nazis and he was arrested and taken away to a concentration camp. (They were already suspicious of him because of his Jewish background.) The Trump Administration have gone out of its way to deny science, especially with climate change. After all, President Trump had appointed a climate change denier to head the Environmental Protection Agency.

(Drawing originally posted on September 28, 2017.)

The Nazis in The Mortal Storm considered Professor Roth and his family to be non-Aryan based on their last name and the Nazis in real life cracked down on Jews, gypsies, and other people deemed to be non-Aryan. I’ve heard about the Trump Administration’s ICE agents rounding up and deporting immigrants—many of them have been in this country for years (with some having been brought to this country as very young children) with the majority of them having brown or black skin. There was the notable exception of a white foreign-born man who was brought to this country at the age of five and who is now being targeted for deportation. People on social media were shocked that the Trump Administration was going after a white person but I wrote this blog post about why I’m not really surprised that Trump would target someone who was born in Poland.

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

(Photo originally posted on October 2, 2017.)

I live in the Baltimore-Washington, DC area and, from my own vantage point, I haven’t personally seen any pro-Trump neo-Nazis march in my area. I haven’t seen any ICE agents in real life. However a woman in my congregation said back in January that she had seen ICE agents go after her immigrant next-door neighbors, which had horrified her because she had always gotten along with that family. (I have to add here that, to be fair, the Obama Administration had also deported a record number of immigrants.)

(Drawing originally posted on October 1, 2017.)

I have seen a few of my federal employee friends who have worked in the government for years take advantage of early retirement offers because their workplaces have dramatically gone downhill since Trump took office—especially in the Environmental Protection Agency.

Three Little Birds Sewing Company Door, Hyattsville, Maryland

(Photo originally posted on March 28, 2017.)

The main reason why Trump was elected was that he reached out to the working classes during his 2016 campaign where he pretended that he understood their pain. For a group of people who have become increasingly marginalized since Ronald Reagan’s days in the White House, it’s understandable why they turned to Trump when Bernie Sanders was unable to get the Democratic nomination for reasons that would take a separate blog post to explain. Trump basically echoed Bernie Sanders’ message about how the working classes had been left behind and the working classes felt that—at long last—someone had finally understood them.

(Drawing originally posted on October 2, 2017.)

The only reason why I didn’t fall for Trump’s dog and pony show was that I’ve been well aware of that guy since he published his first book (The Art of the Deal) back in the 1980s. I’ve visited Trump Tower a few times with its indoor waterfall cascading down a wall of pink marble and I’ve seen the other buildings with the Trump name throughout Manhattan. I find it laughable that he pretended to be a working class hero when he had been born into wealth and had spent much of his career cultivating a public persona as the stereotypical rich man who lives in a penthouse in Trump Tower that looks as if King Midas had been hired as the interior decorator. At least the late John Lennon actually grew up among the working folks in Liverpool when he wrote and recorded Working Class Hero and never had to pretend otherwise.

(Photo originally posted on December 31, 2017.)

Trump only used the working class to get their votes only to abandon them once he was elected. The fact that the government had come up with this radical new tax program that blatantly favors huge tax breaks for the very wealthy while condemning the non-rich to pay higher taxes says it all about how much esteem Trump really had for his working class base once he was elected. At least the Nazis actually reached out to its supporters after it had seized power in the early years before the start of World War II by coming out with social programs that benefitted the masses. Among the programs was one called Strength Through Joy, which provided free or low-cost leisure activities for the masses, such as concerts, plays, libraries, day trips, and holidays.

(Drawing originally posted on October 10, 2017.)

Can you imagine the Trump Administration coming up with something similar to Strength Through Joy for the enjoyment of the American people? Me neither, especially considering the fact that Donald Trump had long built his hotels, condos, and golf clubs with the very wealthy in mind while charging fees so high that they are out of reach for most Americans who aren’t rich. This Caitlin Johnstone essay says it all about the Trump Administration: Trump Isn’t Another Hitler. He’s Another Obama. Here’s a choice quote from that essay.

I still sometimes get Democrats telling me that Trump is about to flip into Hitler 2.0 any minute now and start throwing non-whites into extermination camps. Whenever I point out that they were wrong about their “your choices are Hillary or Hitler” alarmism I get a bunch of them telling me “give him time”. Well he’s had time. They were wrong. They didn’t get a Nazi, they got another shitty neocon. And since the Dems have been paced into alignment with the neocons there’s no one left to oppose their agendas, which is why we’re seeing so little pushback on Trump’s Iran saber rattling.

I get Trump supporters telling me that he’s fighting the deep state, but the only way you can believe that at this point is to redefine “deep state” to mean “Democrats and their supporters”, which would actually just be more partisan bickering, which is all we’re actually seeing at this point. The only people you see pushing the collusion narrative and working for impeachment at this point are Democrats and Never-Trumpers; now that Trump has proven himself a good, compliant little boy the intelligence community has been putting its energy into the anti-detente propaganda effort to manufacture support for its new cold war escalations instead.

As a personal note to anyone reading this who are Trump supporters who have since grown disillusioned with how he’s running things as president so far, I understand where you’re coming from. I feel your pain. I really do. I once had similar hopes when I voted for Barack Obama in 2008 only to feel let down when I saw him cater more to Wall Street and less to the average folks who turned out in record numbers to vote for him. I was mad when I saw him go to great lengths to reach out to Republicans by agreeing to a pay freeze for federal employees like my ex-husband and many of my friends who work for the federal government. (Yes, I was still married when that pay freeze went into effect.) But the sooner you realize that you fell for a con artist like Donald Trump who only used you for his own purposes, the better you can turn your attention to the upcoming mid-term elections where you can vote for any candidates running for Congress who have indicated that they will stand up to The Donald.

(Photo originally posted on December 16, 2017.)

There are times when I find Donald Trump to be totally draining to deal with, especially when he spends most evenings and weekends tweeting out the most batshit crazy stuff on Twitter. This guy seems to be incapable of keeping a low profile for even 12 hours. Trump’s total love affair with Twitter has made me even less enthusiastic about that platform than ever before. The only reason why I still continue to tweet is because I want to show potential employers that I know how to use Twitter. Believe me, if I ever get to the point where I can abandon Twitter without having to prove to others that, yes, I know how to use it, I will not deal with it anymore. As it is, I basically use it to upload recent photos and there are whole days when I don’t even visit Twitter at all.

(Drawing originally posted on October 12, 2017.)

Mother Jones has an article titled Does Donald Trump Want to Be Dictator of the United States?, which provides a list of instances where Donald Trump is slowly becoming more and more authoritarian. I don’t deny that Trump probably have secret fantasies of being a dictator and he’s testing the waters to see what he can increasingly get away with. Unless a strong opposition rises up in Congress to oppose him, it’s possible that the U.S. will eventually become a banana republic dictatorship where the majority of people are condemned to live in poverty while Trump and his people impose brutal methods to crack down on opposition. So far the Republican majority in Congress seems to be unwilling to put country before party, which is unlike what the Congressional Republicans did in an earlier era when the Watergate scandal broke and there was evidence that it started with Richard Nixon. (They basically stood up to Nixon and he eventually resigned.)

The Women's March on Washington 2018

(Photo originally posted on January 29, 2018.)

This is why it’s important for everyone of voting age to vote in the mid-terms for any congressional candidate who has indicated that he/she will stand up to Trump and his agenda so any ambition that Trump has to become an absolute dictator gets thwarted.

(Drawing originally uploaded on November 28, 2017.)

Basically the first year of the Trump Administration is a mixed bag, especially for the average American. The neo-Nazis and the KKK have gotten more brazen with making public appearances in other parts of the country yet they frequently get targeted by counter-protesters that, in some cases, have even succeeded in shutting those marches and rallies down because these racist fascists were outnumbered. I haven’t felt discouraged from airing my opinions in this blog or on social media and I’m currently not afraid of being arrested by the government or being killed under mysterious circumstances (like what has happened to so many critics of Donald Trump’s close ally Vladimir Putin).

(Photo originally posted on November 9, 2017.)

I’ll also admit that, as a white woman who’s getting less young each year, I have some privileges in that I don’t have to face frequent suspicion from the police or other authority figures because my skin color isn’t brown or black. But I am facing sexism and ageism in the workplace as I struggle to find a new day job that will enable me to pay all of my bills and my debts ranging from the dark times when my husband abruptly left me with zero advanced notice. (He pretended that he was a loving and devoted husband until the night he left. He left me while I was still recovering from hip surgery three months earlier.)

(Drawing originally posted on December 25, 2017.)

Yet I’m seeing a society where the rich is getting even richer while the poor and middle class people are getting more and more financially screwed. Unless this gets addressed soon, I predict that there will be increasing unrest on the streets and it could result in people getting killed.

(Photo originally posted on February 15, 2018.)

The only hope that Donald Trump’s reign won’t last beyond 2020 is this recent development where Robert Mueller, the special counsel, has charged 13 Russians for interfering in the 2016 elections that helped Donald Trump win the White House. I think that the claims that “Russia hacked the 2016 elections” are a bit exaggerated because that would imply that Russia had somehow launched some kind of a cyber-attack on the electronic voting booths in each district and added votes for Donald Trump. But I wouldn’t be surprised if the Russians did put out propaganda disguised as news that convinced some Americans to vote for a person they would have never voted for otherwise had they not been exposed to that Russian-written propaganda. America has long intervened in the elections of other countries so it would be logical for Russia (or any other country for that matter) to intervene in the U.S. elections in order to get its preferred candidate (Donald Trump) elected.

(Photo originally posted on August 3, 2017.)

I’ve long maintained that I wouldn’t be shocked if the reports were true that Donald Trump had gotten financing from either Vladimir Putin or from a member of Russia’s oligarchy or both. This is a man who has a history of doing whatever it takes—both legal and illegal—to not only remain as rich as possible but to also flaunt his wealth by building expensive properties and buying other expensive luxury items (such as his short-lived Trump Princess ship) in order to impress the average person who isn’t rich. This is a guy who has gone through not just one bankruptcy but multiple bankruptcies. This guy has never even considered adopting a more modest lifestyle similar to the millionaires who were profiled in Thomas J. Stanley’s 1996 book The Millionaire Next Door because he thrives on attention that he can only get when he flaunts his wealth by buying then showing off expensive toys that the average person will never be able to afford.

(Photo originally posted on March 22, 2017.)

I’m just hoping that Donald Trump becomes his own worst enemy that Robert Mueller can exploit by bringing down both the Trump Administration and the Trump Organization once and for all. In the meantime I’ve been enjoying this book that I checked out of the library recently that was co-written by Alec Baldwin (who has been doing those wickedly funny impersonations of Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live) and Kurt Andersen titled You Can’t Spell America Without Me. That book is hilarious to read and the accompanying photos are just as hilarious. I highly recommend it.

(Photo originally posted on January 23, 2018.)

The last Sunday in January was pretty heady in that I helped to celebrate the 90th birthday of a longtime member of my church. Since she lives in a retirement community located near my church and the party was being held there, I basically went to Sunday service at my church then headed to the retirement community for the party. It was a pretty cool event that was filled by many of my friends from my church. Here are a few photos I took while I was at that party.

There were two birthday cakes along with smaller cupcakes that guests can choose to eat. (None of them were lit with candles though.)

Penny O'Brien's 90th Birthday Party

Penny O'Brien's 90th Birthday Party

Penny O'Brien's 90th Birthday Party

Here’s a wide shot of the room where the birthday party was held.

Penny O'Brien's 90th Birthday Party

There were balloons everywhere. Most people gave birthday cards in lieu of presents. (I did too. In fact I found a 90th birthday card at Target, which was a cool thing to buy and bring to that party.)

Penny O'Brien's 90th Birthday Party

Penny O'Brien's 90th Birthday Party

Penny O'Brien's 90th Birthday Party

Penny O'Brien's 90th Birthday Party

Penny O'Brien's 90th Birthday Party

There were decks of playing cards and board games placed everywhere so guests could play them.

Penny O'Brien's 90th Birthday Party

The last photo is of the birthday girl herself, Penny O’Brien.

Penny O'Brien's 90th Birthday Party

January 20 was the one-year anniversary of the inauguration of Donald Trump while the following day would be the one-year anniversary of the Women’s March on Washington. (Ironically the Federal Government also shut down on that same day but it would reopen three days later.) The organizers decided to hold another Women’s March that would take place in cities throughout the United States. (There were other Women’s Marches that took place in other countries as well. One of my Facebook friends attended one in her hometown of Montreal.)

This year’s Women’s March on Washington was different in some ways. Last year the DC march was the main march and people from all over the U.S. and came to DC. It drew famous people to that march like Madonna, Ashley Judd, and Alicia Keys. This year the main focal point of the march was being held in Las Vegas, where the organizers spent Saturday (January 20) holding a conference with the theme of “Power to the Polls” (this year is the mid-term elections where plenty of Senate and House seats are up for grabs) while spending the following day (January 21) marching on the streets to commemorate the anniversary of the 2017 march. Las Vegas was chosen as the main march for this year because it is a swing state in the upcoming elections.

There was definitely a difference between this year’s march and last year’s march. Last year I remember going to a Metro station on the Sunday before that march so I could take advantage of the free parking on the weekends (Metro charges people to park during the week regardless of whether you actually ride the subway or not) and the usual light crowds to add more fare to my SmartTrip card so I wouldn’t have to stand in a very long line on the day of the march. This year I forgot to do this and I wasn’t willing to pay the $5.20 weekday parking fee just so I could increase my SmartTrip farecard. I took my chances and saw that the lines were pretty short this year and I had no problem with adding fare to my card on the day of the march itself.

Last year a group of women from my church decided to go and we agreed to meet very early in the morning in order to be able to beat the expected crowd. This year there were no organized effort from my church to march together. I had planned on getting there on my own by about 7 a.m. except I had a hard time getting to sleep that night due to the fact that I gorged myself with too much cake at this party that was held at my church the night before so I woke up later than I intended.

The one thing that remained the same is that I wore the same Grumpy Cat hat that I wore last year. Apparently there was some controversy about wearing those knitted pink pussycat hats last year on the grounds that they trivialize the serious issues regarding sexism and feminism. This year there’s controversy about the hats because the pussy hats are supposed to represent women’s pussies and the color pink is supposed to represent the color of the vagina. Except the hats could be offensive to transgender and non-binary women who may not have the usual pussy and it could also be offensive to women of color, whose vaginas tend to be more brown-colored than pink.

On top of it, I never got around to knitting my own pink pussycat hat mainly because I was more focused on knitting other hats in a variety of colors for my church’s annual mittens and hats sale late last year. So I wore Grumpy Cat on my head once again. In a way it’s appropriate because I’m grumpy about politics these days plus I’ve learned that the real life Grumpy Cat is actually female. (Which explains why actress Aubrey Plaza was hired to do the voice of Grumpy Cat in the movie Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever.) Here are a couple of selfies wearing that hat after I reached the rally in downtown DC.

Women's March on Washington 2018

Women's March on Washington 2018

The weather was even better this year. Last year it had rained in the area for the past few days prior to the march and it had even rained on Inauguration Day. Even though it didn’t rain on the day of the march, the sky was still very gloomy with the clouds out and the ground was incredibly wet. I remember it was cold as well so I wore my heavy winter coat. This year it was sunny and the latest below-freezing cold temperatures that had been plaguing our area for the past few days had finally left our area the day before. On the day of the march the temperature went up to the 50’s so I decided to wear a lighter jacket instead of my heavy winter coat.

Another difference I noticed between this year and last year is that I didn’t see any signs touting Hillary Clinton nor did I see anyone cart any life-sized Hillary Clinton standees. I think the march participants have moved on and decided to just focus on President Trump and the upcoming mid-term elections.

Like last year I took a bunch of pictures, which I’ve posted here. Unlike last year, I managed to shoot a short video of the event at various points of that march, which you can view right here.

The rest of this post has the still photos I shot that day along with my personal descriptions and opinions of that event.

So I woke up late that morning and I wasn’t finally out the door until 10 a.m. I was nervous about how crowded the Greenbelt Metro station would be until I arrived there and I found that I had no problem with finding a parking space. I also found that there were almost no lines to speak of. There was just one fellow protester stationed at the Metro entrance who was greeting people.

Women's March on Washington 2018

The Metro subway train wasn’t very crowded and I managed to find a seat. Since I heard that this year’s rally was being held further down the Mall at the Reflecting Pool next to the Lincoln Memorial, I got off at the Foggy Bottom Metro station. (I learned years ago that Foggy Bottom is the closest station to the Lincoln Memorial because you’ll end up doing less walking than getting off at the Smithsonian Metro and walking down the entire length of the Mall. I saw plenty of march participants get off at the Smithsonian station while I knew that they had a very long walk ahead of them. LOL!)  When I got out of that station the first thing I saw were the merchants outside the Foggy Bottom Metro station who were hawking Women’s March-related wares (including t-shirts, buttons, and even pink pussycat hats).

Women's March on Washington 2018

Women's March on Washington 2018

Women's March on Washington 2018

Women's March on Washington 2018

Two men were playing chess while people were doing other things around them like vendors selling merchandise and protesters buying merchandise and walking towards the Lincoln Memorial.

Women's March on Washington 2018

I purchased three buttons from a vendor who was having a three buttons for $10 sale. I pinned them to the back of my Grumpy Cat hat.

Women's March on Washington 2018

Women's March on Washington 2018

While walking down 23rd Street, NW, I encountered a mix of protesters lining the street with their signs. I also saw more vendors selling their wares every block or so between the Foggy Bottom Metro station and the Lincoln Memorial.

Women's March on Washington 2018

Women's March on Washington 2018

Women's March on Washington 2018

Women's March on Washington 2018

I finally reached the Lincoln Memorial where I saw protesters with their signs.

Women's March on Washington 2018

Women's March on Washington 2018

Anti-abortion protesters tried to stage a counter-protest but they were clearly outnumbered by the women’s marchers, many of them are pro-choice. (Many of the anti-abortion protesters were in town for the annual March for Life, which usually happens on the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision that legalized abortion.)

Women's March on Washington 2018

Women's March on Washington 2018

Women's March on Washington 2018

Women's March on Washington 2018

Women's March on Washington 2018

Women's March on Washington 2018

Women's March on Washington 2018

Women's March on Washington 2018

Women's March on Washington 2018

The last time I was at a protest by the Lincoln Memorial was when I checked out the Juggalo March last September. There were far more people at this protest than at the Juggalo one. Yet this protest was less crowded than last year’s Women’s March but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. For one thing we weren’t packed tightly into a single area like sardines, which I definitely liked.

Women's March on Washington 2018

Women's March on Washington 2018

Women's March on Washington 2018

Women's March on Washington 2018

Women's March on Washington 2018

Women's March on Washington 2018

Women's March on Washington 2018

Women's March on Washington 2018

Women's March on Washington 2018

Women's March on Washington 2018

Women's March on Washington 2018

Women's March on Washington 2018

Women's March on Washington 2018

Women's March on Washington 2018

Women's March on Washington 2018

Women's March on Washington 2018

Women's March on Washington 2018

Women's March on Washington 2018

Women's March on Washington 2018

Women's March on Washington 2018

Women's March on Washington 2018

One guy managed to swipe an anti-abortion sign and alter it in order to turn it into a pro-Planned Parenthood sign.

Women's March on Washington 2018

Naturally there were more vendors there as well.

Women's March on Washington 2018

This next photo, where I set the camera on the highest telephoto setting, was the closest I could get to the stage or the giant jumbotron video screen itself. But I was able to hear many of the speeches unlike last year, when I was too far away to hear anything.

Women's March on Washington 2018

I brought my portable folding chair with me so once I found a decent place to sit where I could hear the rally, I sat in my chair and ate my lunch. I only moved once when I needed to use one of the portapotties. Most of the speakers I heard were Democratic congresspeople (such as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi) and DNC Chair Tom Perez.

I was really pissed when Debbie Wasserman Schultz took to the stage where she denounced Trump. I still remember when, during her time as DNC Chair in 2016, she helped in rigging the Democratic primaries that would allow Hillary Clinton to get the nomination. She disregarded the numerous polls that said that Bernie Sanders had a far better chance of defeating Donald Trump in the general election than Hillary Clinton. I’m not making this stuff up as a pro-Bernie sore loser. Former Interim-DNC Chair Donna Brazile wrote a book last year that basically confirmed this. As far as I’m concerned, Debbie Wasserman Schultz should not have been invited to go on stage giving her speech when she is one of the people who made Donald Trump’s election possible and I’ll never forgive her for this.

After sitting in my chair for a while I used the portapottie again. Afterwards I literally ran into a group of friends from my neighborhood, which thrilled me because I wouldn’t be protesting alone. The rally ran overtime like last year but it was bearable this time since we weren’t packed together like sardines. We walked around while I took a few pictures of a few people, such as this woman who played her violin while the protesters walked past her.

Women's March on Washington 2018

Even though the weather was mild on that day, the Reflecting Pool was frozen from all of those days of below-freezing temperatures that had been going on since Christmas. I saw people walking on the frozen Reflecting Pool despite a posted sign from the National Parks Service warning people not to do this. I didn’t see anyone fall through the ice but other people did because this news story had photos of people who crashed through the ice at the Women’s March. Fortunately the Reflecting Pool isn’t very deep but I still would never walk on the ice like that.

Women's March on Washington 2018

Women's March on Washington 2018

Women's March on Washington 2018

Women's March on Washington 2018

Women's March on Washington 2018

Women's March on Washington 2018

Women's March on Washington 2018

When the rally ended we started to march past the World War II Memorial.

Women's March 2018

Women's March 2018

Women's March 2018

We eventually reached Pennsylvania Avenue, NW where we marched down that street.

Women's March on Washington

Women's March on Washington

We walked past both the Secret Service and the DC Metropolitan Police.

Women's March on Washington

Women's March on Washington

We marched past the Renwick Gallery, which I recently visited on Christmas Eve.

Women's March on Washington

The march ended at the White House, where people gathered into both the closed-off area of Pennsylvania Avenue, NW and nearby Lafayette Square.

The Women's March on Washington 2018

The Women's March on Washington 2018

The Women's March on Washington 2018

The Women's March on Washington 2018

The Women's March on Washington 2018

The Women's March on Washington 2018

The Women's March on Washington 2018

The Women's March on Washington 2018

The Women's March on Washington 2018

The Women's March on Washington 2018

An impromptu dance party broke out in Lafayette Square while people took selfies and admired each other’s signs. Arriving at the White House gave all of us a chance to sit down. (At least I actually went on the march to the White House this year. Last year I was so tired and frazzled from being packed in the Mall that I didn’t even bother with marching.)

The Women's March on Washington 2018

The Women's March on Washington 2018

The Women's March on Washington 2018

The Women's March on Washington 2018

The Women's March on Washington 2018

The Women's March on Washington 2018

The Women's March on Washington 2018

The next two photos show an encampment that was originally set up by antiwar activists back in the early 1980s (when Ronald Reagan occupied the White House) and it still remains in Lafayette Square to this day despite the fact that the two original founders, William Thomas and Concepcion Picciotto, have since passed away.

The Women's March on Washington 2018

The Women's March on Washington 2018

As people left the White House area, many of them left their signs outside of the fence where I took a few more photos.

The Women's March on Washington 2018

The Women's March on Washington 2018

The Women's March on Washington 2018

The Women's March on Washington 2018

The Women's March on Washington 2018

The Women's March on Washington 2018

The Women's March on Washington 2018

The Women's March on Washington 2018

The Women's March on Washington 2018

The Women's March on Washington 2018

The Women's March on Washington 2018

The Women's March on Washington 2018

The Women's March on Washington 2018

The Women's March on Washington 2018

The Women's March on Washington 2018

The Women's March on Washington 2018

The Women's March on Washington 2018

The Women's March on Washington 2018

The Women's March on Washington 2018

I saw yet another vendor by the White House.

The Women's March on Washington 2018

After a while we all left the White House since the protest tended to peter out once we all reached the destination. We parted ways since my friends took a car into DC while I took the Metro. I walked towards the Metro Center station so I could take the Metro back to Maryland. On my way there I encountered this really nice looking historic clock that I couldn’t resist photographing.

Women's March on Washington 2018

At one point during the march we ran into a photographer we knew who shot a group picture of us. That photo of us was published in the latest issue of The Greenbelt News Review. The link (which opens in a new window) goes to a .pdf document but the photo in question is on the front page located in the bottom right hand corner. You can clearly see me in my Grumpy Cat hat on the right.

It’s the second year in the row that I participated in a Women’s March in January. I have a feeling that I’ll be attending more such annual marches wearing my Grumpy Cat hat until the Trump Administration leaves the White House or I die—whichever comes first.

For a comparison between this year’s march and last year’s march, check out my post about the 2017 Women’s March on Washington.

My church was hosting a special all-ages congregation-wide Friday night party last week and I was recruited to take pictures for this event.

Basically the theme of this party was a celebration of all of the birthdays that happened last year. The main room of the Meeting House (where Sunday services usually take place) had 12 tables with each table representing a month along with decorations based on what that month usually represents.

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

The party started with dinner. Each participant was requested to sit at the table of our birth mont. So I sat at the December table where two other people also sat. We started talking about our shared experiences with having birthdays so close to Christmas while eating our meal.

There were times when I got up and took a couple of pictures.

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

Here’s a view of the decorations and the rest of the Meeting House room as taken from behind the December table.

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

We had a Bingo game where we had to match the squares that all had the names of famous Unitarian Universalists.

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

Then it was time for serving the birthday cakes. Each table got its own birthday cake with different flavors and decorations based on the particular month.

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

The next photo shows the cake for the December table, which was naturally decorated with a winter Christmas theme. (Of course this event took place so soon after December so the memories of the winter holidays were still fresh in my mind.) The cake also tasted very good.

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

I took pictures of the other cakes and I tried a few slices as well.

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

The evening basically ended with the adults and teens socializing among each other while the kids played.

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

4F's Birthday Party at Paint Branch UU Church, January 19, 2018

Today is the one-year anniversary of President Donald Trump’s inauguration. Today is also the day that the Federal Government has shut down, which is historic because the Republicans control the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives. In a way it’s fitting that this has happened since President Trump had promised to run the country like a business and he has had a long string of multiple bankruptcies and failed businesses. President Trump had definitely kept his campaign promise to run this country like his businesses. LOL!

Today is also the day of the Women’s March in Washington, DC, which I’m going to attend. (After I finish this post, I’m going to take a shower then head to the nearest Metro and go downtown.) With this government being completely shutdown as of midnight last night, today is going to be very interesting indeed.

I’m going to end this post with a video from last year that’s really appropriate for today.

I celebrated my birthday on December 15 and I wrote this post about how I treated myself to a few things while I mentioned that I was a divorced woman with no children who was raised as an only child with one father who’s now deceased and a mother who is currently struggling with multiple sclerosis and her health is slowly slipping away. Ironically, on that same day, conservative pundit Ann Coulter wrote this Twitter post about how she is among the singles who live empty lives of quiet desperation and will die alone while denouncing Senator Marco Rubio’s demand that the controversial tax reform bill includes a child tax credit increase.

That unusually personal tweet briefly went viral on Twitter and it elicited all kinds of responses. To some extent I can understand where she’s coming from (although, unlike her, I don’t mind if parents would pay less taxes so they would have more money in their pocket that would help them pay for adequate care for their children). There are nights when I think that dying alone will be my ultimate fate. But here’s the thing. Whenever I go someplace and run into my friends, they are usually happy to see me. (Or at least they act this way. I’m not a mind reader so I don’t have access to their innermost thoughts and feelings.) I’m fortunate enough to live in an area that’s within walking distance of a few places that I can go to (including a cafe, a library, and a makerspace) if I feel too sad and lonely. Whenever I go there I usually find someone I know who says hi to me and ask me how I’m doing.

The reason why people are happy to see me and aren’t ashamed to be seen in public with me is because, unlike Ann Coulter, I haven’t made a career out of publicly insulting and denigrating the poor, immigrants, 9/11 widows, Muslims, Jews, people with disabilities, women, African Americans, Asian Americans, liberals, victims of sexual harassment/sexual assault/rape, Hollywood, LGBTQ people, the Nigerian girls kidnapped by Boko Haram, soccer players and fans, pot smokers, and Delta Airlines.

There’s a reason why the British newspaper The Telegraph once published an article with this headline—Ann Coulter: The woman trying to be America’s most hated.

But there’s a cost in trying to be as vile and offensive as possible while being unapologetic about it. She had a speech scheduled at UC Berkley cancelled twice because of safety fears. Her appearance on the TV show Good Morning Britain have outraged viewers in that country. Over 10 years ago some anonymous blogger wrote two sexually explicit posts that went viral titled I Fucked Ann Coulter in the Ass, Hard and Back in Ann Coulter’s Ass-Saddle Again. If they had been written about any other woman, I would’ve denounced them as exercises in sexism and slander. But I have a hard time raising a similar ruckus because they were written about Ann Coulter, a person who had long been hurling outrageously nasty insults towards others and I felt that, in this case, turnabout was fair game. She was simply reaping what she had sowed by acting so hateful by uttering things in public that most other polite adults would never think of uttering.

I still remember the days when I was still married with cable television and my then-husband and I used to watch Real Time With Bill Maher every Friday night on HBO. Maher frequently had Ann Coulter as a guest on his show, supposedly as a conservative voice, but she would spew all kinds of hateful stuff. It got to the point where some people in the audience would boo her every time she walked on stage.

I get that Maher was trying to get conservatives on his program in order to have a real discussion with liberals on the issues of the day. But there are far more thoughtful conservatives out there than Coulter who don’t go around hurling insults at other people. (The fact that Maher would have Coulter on his show at the expense of these other thoughtful conservatives is one of the reasons why I have since lost respect for him.)

Like Ann Coulter I have no children but, unlike her, I was married once. If my husband hadn’t decided back in 2011 that he would rather be with a friend of ours who has a history of serious mental health issues that have become so bad that she’s on SSI disability, I would still be married today. There’s a reason why Ann Coulter is still unmarried and is worried about dying alone. To be blunt: Most people don’t want to hang around with someone who acts that hateful in public all of the time.

Ann Coulter could have easily learned that lesson years ago had she read (or seen one of the numerous TV and film adaptations of) Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. At least Ebeneezer Scrooge managed to have a change of heart at the end of that story and he made a sincere effort to stop being so greedy and start showing compassion towards others. Maybe if Ann Coulter would make a sincere effort of doing what Ebeneezer Scrooge did and change her actions and attitudes, then maybe people won’t look at her in such a negative light. It’s just like the title of this article on the Bustle website: Don’t Hate Ann Coulter Because She’s Single. Hate Her Because She’s Ann Coulter.

But I’m not going to hold my breath wishing for a change in Ann Coulter’s heart. All I can say is that it’s her life and if she doesn’t want to stop acting so hateful in public then she shouldn’t complain if she really does die alone. After all, actions have consequences.

Birthday Cake Santa Claus

Today is the eighth anniversary of the day I made my very first post in this blog. Today also happens to be the day known as the Feast of the Epiphany, Little Christmas, and Three Kinds Day and it usually signals the formal end of the Christmas season. Usually I try to keep such anniversary posts light by tooting my own horn while marveling at how long I’ve been keeping up with this blog. This year it’s different. I don’t feel quite as light-hearted as I have in previous years. And it doesn’t help that that I’m writing this post while the entire region I’m in have been covered in sub-freezing temperatures that have been known as the coldest New Year since 1940 and it had just suffered through something called a bomb cyclone so it is still below freezing outside. I’m still trying to hold on despite the fact that all hell broke loose this past year.

It all started on January 20, 2017 when Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. It all went downhill fast. It would take several separate entries to describe everything in detail but here are just a few of the highlights (or maybe I should call them lowlights): His penchant for issuing bizarre postings on Twitter that sound increasingly alarming (especially the ones about North Korean leader Kim Jong Un). He has appointed to various cabinet positions people who either lack experience or are outright hostile to the positions they have been assigned to (such as appointing a climate change denier to lead the Environmental Protection Agency and giving the Department of Education a new leader who is not only a proponent of for-profit charter schools but is also hostile towards the idea of having government-funded public education available to all children). Then there are his frequent weekend golf trips. This guy has taken more vacation time in his first year of office than his predecessor, Barack Obama, have in the eight years that he occupied the White House.

And don’t even get me started on that recently passed tax reform bill that Trump says he will sign where the wealthy individuals and corporations will get major tax cuts while middle and low income people will not only have their taxes raised but the social safety net will be shredded even further than it already has been in the nearly 40 years since Ronald Reagan was elected president.

Some of my problems are personal. My mother’s health has been deteriorating slowly over the past few years ever since she has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. It’s gotten to the point where I have to make all the phone calls because she literally no longer has the energy to even make calls on her cell phone. She doesn’t even return any voice messages I leave on her cell. Our conversations have gotten shorter because she gets tired all of the time. When I visit her in person she can only hold a conversation before she gets tired. We basically watch TV when I visit because at least she’ll sleep off and on. But she’s definitely a shadow of her former self. I don’t even bother with having any kind of deep heart-felt conversations with her because I don’t know if she has the energy to even process everything I say.

At least my mother is still alive as of this writing. I found out through one of my ex-husband’s relatives that my father-in-law had passed away in October. On Christmas Eve I received a phone call from another one of my ex-husband’s relatives telling me that there have been a couple of other deaths this past year as well. One was my ex-husband’s aunt (who was also my father-in-law’s younger sister) and the other was Annette, a longtime family friend.

I knew both of them pretty well. The last time I saw my ex-husband’s aunt was in 2010 (just a few days before I made my first post in this blog). She and her husband had just sold their longtime home in Scituate, Massachusetts and moved to a retirement community outside of Philadelphia in order to live closer to their children and grandchildren, who had all settled in neighboring New Jersey. My ex-husband’s aunt and uncle lived just a few miles from Longwood Gardens. After visiting my ex’s aunt and uncle in their new place, we all headed out to Longwood Gardens because it was having its annual Christmas display. I found that display to be so amazing that I shot a short video.

As for Annette, she was the friend of my mother-in-law’s who used to invite her and any of her grown children who were in town over to the Long Island home that she shared with her then-husband each Christmas Eve where she would serve her corn chowder. I wrote a post back in 2010 about that tradition and I even included the actual recipe. I later made this animation featuring that recipe while I was playing with this website called MySimpleShow.

The last time I saw Annette was in late 2010 when we held a memorial service on the East Coast for my mother-in-law that was held for the benefit of her longtime friends who couldn’t fly to Phoenix (where she lived the last 17 years of her life) for the original funeral back in March.

If all that weren’t enough, I learned that Ben, a man whom my late aunt used to babysit as a kid (and I met him several times when I visited my aunt, uncle, and cousins) had killed himself. I also learned through Facebook that my onetime high school guitar teacher had died the year before and he was only in his early sixties.

Then there is my effort to find a new day job to pay the bills. (I’m currently getting alimony from my ex-husband but I really want more money so I could pay off the debts I incurred due in large part to my divorce.) It has been over a year and a half since I left my last job at a newly formed startup because I wasn’t getting paid (the boss wouldn’t finally pay me for the work I had done until six months later). I don’t regret leaving that startup, especially when I saw that my ex-boss has spent the past year actively doxing his own sister on Facebook not once but twice.

I’ve been spending time at the local branch of the American Jobs Center doing things like going to seminars on all aspects of the job search process. I was told in those seminars that I needed to build my personal brand because that will make me stand out from the crowd of other job seekers. I was told that I especially needed to build my personal brand on LinkedIn because LinkedIn is the best way to a new job. I was told that I needed to learn how to market myself online. I took a couple of free online marketing classes that were on Alison.com where I learned how to market myself online as much as possible using tools like Hootsuite to schedule posts. I learned through those online courses that once I am able to market myself to the point where I’ve built my personal brand online, I will get so much attention that the job opportunities will miraculously come to me.

So I started to post links on my various social media accounts to older blog posts highlighting my skills in writing, art (both traditional and digital), and photography while using Hootsuite to schedule them. I was told that I also needed to share links of articles written by others showing my knowledge on certain subjects that would be sure to build my brand. Each week for the past few months I would schedule on Hootsuite a mix of links to newer blog posts, links to older blog posts, and links to articles that are in my fields of interests to be shared over Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

The one thing I learned that all of this brand building is incredibly time-consuming. I would literally spend several hours a week with trolling websites for external links then scheduling those posts on Hootsuite. I spent time carefully vetting each link in order to make sure that any links that include controversial topics or NSFW content do not get posted on my LinkedIn account (although I would post them on my Facebook and Twitter accounts since neither one have the stated reputation as being THE Social Media Network For Professionals). I even followed the advice from the American Jobs Center and tried to go to networking events where I made every effort to be friendly and introduce myself to new people. It was all to no avail. No one has come forward saying, “Hey, I love what you’ve posted on LinkedIn so much that I want to hire you!” No one has come forward saying, “Wow, you’re really an expert and you have such a fantastic personal brand that I want to refer jobs your way.” I began to feel that something was wrong with that advice but I kept at it because I was told by professionals who are experts in the human resources field that this is the best method for all job seekers.

The best I was able to do from all of my online marketing efforts and going to networking events was to snag a two-night stint serving as an extra at a taping of a TV special featuring finance guru Ric Edelman.

But then I came across this article through a link on Facebook titled The One Thing Nobody Ever Told You About Personal Branding where basically the writer says that building a personal brand in order to advance your career is overrated. His contention is that, instead of spending gobs of time marketing yourself on social media, you would do better to build your reputation by actually doing the work in your field (whether it’s in a job you already have or you’re currently volunteering in something that’s related to your field) and treating people well.

At first that article flew in the face of what those human resources experts were advising me and other job hunters at the American Jobs Center. But then I did a Google search on “building a personal brand is overrated” and I found a few other articles that echoed the same idea. Branding is an Overrated Buzzword says that one should focus instead on building his/her reputation by being passionate enough about your job/career/interest to focus working on that while also working consistently at your job/career/interest. Developing a Personal Brand Is Overrated says that developing a personal brand can take a lot of time that would’ve been better spent making the best product or doing the best work that you can do. The writer says that making tweets or sharing photos online is just a small portion of building a reputation and a reputation is made through doing your best at what you are working on. The Pitfalls of Personal Branding is even more blunt in saying that personal branding results in the pursuit of online attention stunts that may backfire and do serious damage to your real reputation.

That last article made a good point and I was especially reminded of it when I learned about a recent incident. A few days ago a popular YouTube star known as Logan Paul has come under fire for going to a park in Japan (which has a reputation for being a spot where numerous people have committed suicide) where he found the body of a man who had committed suicide by hanging from a tree branch. Instead of calling the Japanese equivalent of 911 or flagging down a park ranger/police officer/someone else in authority, he decided to film the body while he’s nearby wearing a hat that resembles the head of one of the three-eyed green alien toys from the Toy Story movies and making sick jokes about finding that body. Then he uploaded the video online. While the video in question has since been deleted and Paul has uploaded another video apologizing for his actions, there have been online petitions circulating calling for YouTube to delete his channel altogether.

I’m starting to think that the advice I got about personal branding was just wrong. I focused on marketing myself online at the expense of actually taking the time to developing my talents. I should’ve been volunteering more in the community on projects related to my interests. I should’ve been focusing on creating new arts and crafts for sales both online and in real life. But I ended up following what turned out to be bum advice for me. I shudder to think about how many other unemployed/underemployed people have been taking similar bum advice from human resources professionals and career counselors about personal branding by wasting their time trying something that is highly unlikely to work for them.

Luckily I haven’t inadvertently damaged my reputation in real life by my misguided efforts to develop a personal brand online.

So my conclusion is that focusing on building a personal brand is ineffectual at best while, at worst, could create a bad side effect that will severely harm your reputation and make it difficult for you to find new work opportunities.

I’m going to cut back on my online personal branding marketing efforts and just focus on doing my best work in real life. I’m not going to give up on this blog or social media altogether. I just want some better balance between promoting my work online and doing my work in real life. I’m hoping that doing this will enable me to live my life and conduct my work with more authenticity than just spending time on social media hyping myself on how great I am. I’m hoping that being more authentic to myself and to others will really convey what kind of person I really am that I haven’t been able to convey on social media.

Well, anyway, I’ll end this post with a few highlights from this past year. I especially needed to remind myself that I did do things other than sitting at home fretting about job hunting, my mom’s health, the recent deaths of people I know, and the Trump Administration. There are times when I think that I didn’t do anything in 2017 but then I look over my posts from the past year and these blog links prove that it’s not true.

Visited the American Visionary Art Museum for free on Martin Luther King Day.

I took part in the Women’s March on Washington, which had a far larger turnout than Donald Trump’s own inauguration the day before.

Checked out The World of Pets Expo.

Walked around Savage, Maryland on Groundhog Day.

Went to the Werk for Peace Dance Protest that started outside the Trump International Hotel and ended outside the White House.

I went to a Valentine’s Dance at my church.

Attended my first focus group movie screening (which was a documentary about the DC Divas women’s football team).

Walked around historic Riverdale Park on an usually warm February day.

Checked out the annual Sakura Matsuri in Washington, DC.

Attended Kamecon on the campus of the University of Maryland at College Park.

Walked around historic Laurel one spring day.

Spent two nights working as an extra on a television special featuring finance guru Ric Edelman.

Attended the Greenbelt Green Man Festival.

Went on the Gateway Arts Open Studio Tour.

Checked out the latest outdoor art installations around Takoma Park.

Helped out with a yard sale where I found all kinds of vintage kitsch items.

Attended Creator Con in Silver Spring.

Walked around Mount Rainier, Maryland.

Visited two possible locations of a real-life exorcism that served as the basis for both the book and film versions of The Exorcist.

Checked out DC Pride Weekend.

Saw a new shopping center that was erected on a former farm in Riverdale Park, Maryland.

Saw some art murals in an industrial area of Annapolis.

Walked around Catonsville, Maryland during the Fourth of July weekend.

Checked out a large toy show in Timonium, Maryland.

Spent one hot summer after under the solar eclipse.

Walked around the Washington, DC side of Takoma Park.

Attended the German Festival in Timonium.

I made my first-ever visit to a megachurch.

I attended two different art events in one day.

Checked out some newly painted murals on vacant buildings in Hyattsville, Maryland.

Took part in a fall yard sale full of interesting vintage kitsch items.

Attended Baltimore Comic-Con where I saw DMC of Run-DMC fame and purchased an ocarina.

Checked out three Mall events in one day—Fiesta DC, the pro-Trump Mother of All Rallies, and the Juggalo March (the latter included fans of the Insane Clown Posse protesting the FBI’s classification of them as a gang).

Walked around historic Gaithersburg.

Spent an afternoon at Dinosaur Park in Laurel, Maryland.

Toured an Eastern Orthodox Church during a local Slavic Festival.

I purchased a camera off eBay, which took some spectacular photos of the Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk.

Checked out a Halloween-themed art walk in Hyattsville.

Went to Clark’s Elioak Farm, where I visited the attractions from the now-defunct Enchanted Forest.

Took some photos of an outdoor decorated Christmas tree covered in snow.

I went to Baltimore on the day that Fox broadcasted a heavily attended Baltimore Ravens football game.

Went to the Doll and Teddy Bear Show in Gaithersburg.

Saw the fall leaves in the Roland Park section of Baltimore.

Saw historic Annapolis at Christmas.

A few of the art shows, craft fairs, and other arts and crafts related events I participated in: I went to Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School in both Baltimore and Washington, DC several times. Went to an artist networking event at the Prince George’s African American Museum & Cultural Center in North Brentwood, Maryland. Took part in a Craft-In on International Women’s Day. Attended the Resist art exhibition reception at ReCreative Spaces. Participated in the Cosplay Life Drawing Night in Rockville, Maryland. Attended an exhibition that was inspired by the Women’s March on Washington. Participated in the Greenbelt Maker Festival. One of my animations, The March of Liberty, was shown on an outdoor big screen at Light City in Baltimore. I went to a DC Drink and Draw event in Adams-Morgan. I took part in a couple of events at the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival including an Art Show and a Retro Town Fair (where I won a couple of ribbons). I painted a fox on a rock at an event that was sponsored by Artists & Craftsman Supplies in Hyattsville, Maryland. I took part in the month-long Internet art event known as Inktober. I took part in the annual Holiday Craft Sale at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church in Adelphi, Maryland in December. I had one of my pieces on display at Trinacria’s Ristorante & Bar in Baltimore that went from early December, 2017 to early January, 2018.


Birthday Cake
hanukah

Okay I’ll admit that the it may sound strange to buy your own birthday presents. But I’m divorced with no children, I’m currently not in any kind of romantic relationships, I don’t have any siblings, my father is dead, and my mother is too sick and busy battling multiple sclerosis to do any kind of shopping (either online or in real life) so what else can I do? I purchased a couple of things for myself last night, starting with this cute snowman cake that I found at Giant for only $6.

I also found this unusual looking nutcracker on sale at Target for only $9.99. He not only looks pretty in pink but he’s fully covered in glitter. He looks more like he’s ready to dance to Madonna or Britney Spears than to Tchaikovsky’s more traditional “Nutcracker Suite.” Here’s the front of the nutcracker.

Here’s a closeup of the baseplate, which has the year 2017 etched on it.

Here’s the back of the nutcracker.

And, finally, here’s a closeup of the nutcracker where you can really get a good view of how much glitter he’s covered in.

I have to admit that it’s not everyday where you see a male nutcracker wearing a pink glitter outfit. The one thing about having a birthday that’s only 10 days before Christmas is that I used to frequently get Christmas-related stuff, such as the time I got a wooden Christmas ornament kit for my birthday as a child. The ornaments were in plywood but were perforated so you could simply punch them out. Then you had to take the included sandpaper and sand the edges down. After that you used the included paints to paint on the ornaments.

Well, anyway, I carried on that lifelong tradition of getting Christmas stuff for my birthday by buying that nutcracker. I’ll probably go out somewhere and live it up today, weather permitting. (It has not only been below freezing for the past few days but there are currently weather forecasts of possible snow showers on top of the below freezing temperatures. Yeah, it sucks since I’m really not used to weather this extremely cold.) Happy birthday to me!

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