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I’m participating in this year’s Greenbelt Spring Maker Festival, which will be held in Roosevelt Center on Saturday, April 14 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. I will be selling my comic book coasters along with some of my thrift shop Barbie dolls that I refurbished as fairy dolls. I’m also attempting a live demonstration where I will try to crochet an amigurumi bunny rabbit. (Whether I will actually finish that project that day will be another matter. LOL!) Click here for more information.

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Passover

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

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

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

Maker Faire NoVa

Maker Faire NoVa

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

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

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

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

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

Maker Faire NoVa

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

Maker Faire NoVa

Maker Faire NoVa

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

Maker Faire NoVa

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

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

Maker Faire NoVa

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

Maker Faire NoVa, March 18, 2018

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

Maker Faire NoVa

Maker Faire NoVa

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

Maker Faire NoVa

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

Maker Faire NoVa

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

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

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

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

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

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Mardi Gras

Robot in the Park
Mixed media (circuit board, rubber superball, tin, plastic 8-ball, string, glass beads, sticker, and acrylic paint on canvas)
5 inches x 5 inches
13 cm x 13 cm

I got the idea for this project when the plug of my cell phone charger literally broke apart. I noticed that there was a tiny circuit board inside of that plug. I began to think of creating a tiny art project utilizing this tiny circuit board that would be similar to my previous Robot Diavolino.

But then I didn’t do anything with that circuit board for a number of months. In the meantime I found a tiny rubber superball on the floor of my home with a smiley face printed on it. I don’t remember how I got that superball because it’s not something I would buy for myself since I had outgrown superballs a long time ago and I don’t have any young children who would play with one. It was way too small to donate to a thrift shop. I thought about throwing it away until I remembered that tiny circuit board and I figured that it would make a perfect head for my circuit board should I ever do anything creative with it. I put the two away in the same box then I forgot about them for a while longer.

I finally got around to making something with that circuit board and superball. What prompted it was that I learned that a local art gallery was having a call to artists and it was looking for art which used recycled materials.

So I finally purchased a small canvas, painted the background with acrylic paint, then assembled the robot itself. For the arms and legs I used glass beads that I had lying around the house. (I used to make jewelry to sell at local shows but I quit doing it because it never really sold well plus many local craft shows were inundated with jewelry tables and there were some craft shows that had a glut of jewelry. I basically threw in the towel because there was just too much competition.) For the hands and feet I used tin that was cut from the sides of an Altoids tin with special metal cutters. As for the 8-ball balloon, I found half of a plastic 8-ball on the floor of a local laundromat (which I sometimes cut through on my way to the shopping mall entrance). It looked like it came from a gumball machine. I pocketed that 8-ball half and used that for the balloon. I had some twine lying around the house, which made a perfectly scaled balloon string. Finally I used a heart-shaped sticker for the robot’s chest, which came from a book of Valentine’s Day-themed stickers that I purchased from a local arts and crafts store for only $1 a few years ago.

I managed to get this project finished just in time for the art gallery’s deadline. (I submitted this piece along with my Robot Diavolino.) I have yet to find out whether it has been accepted or not as of this writing. Regardless of whether it gets into that show or now, I’m pretty happy with how this project turned out.

This is the first Final Friday Art Walk in Hyattsville I’ve participated in since last year. (There were other Final Friday Art Walks between then and now but I didn’t go on them because the weather was too cold for my taste.) The weather was mild that night so I did the arty thing.

First I went to Studio SoHy where I checked out a reception for this exhibition by Isak Shah called “People Person.”

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Next I went to the Three Little Birds Sewing Company where I saw a demonstration on shoe painting.

Final Friday Art Walk, January 26, 2018

Final Friday Art Walk, January 26, 2018

Final Friday Art Walk, January 26, 2018

Final Friday Art Walk, January 26, 2018

Finally I walked over to the Pyramid Atlantic Art Center where I saw that they had recently installed a new neon sign.

Final Friday Art Walk, January 26, 2018

Final Friday Art Walk, January 26, 2018

Final Friday Art Walk, January 26, 2018

I checked out this exhibition called “Imaginary Funhouse” which featured the art of Clara Cornelius.

Final Friday Art Walk, January 26, 2018

Final Friday Art Walk, January 26, 2018

This exhibit was carnival-themed and it had some hands-on interactive exhibits. There was a gumball machine where, for 50 cents, once can get a small button based on one of the artworks in this exhibit.

Final Friday Art Walk, January 26, 2018

Final Friday Art Walk, January 26, 2018

I put my two quarters into that machine and here is the button I received.

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Final Friday Art Walk, January 26, 2018

Final Friday Art Walk, January 26, 2018

This exhibit had a few large colorful banners on display.

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Final Friday Art Walk, January 26, 2018

There were some smaller prints on display as well.

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There was one interactive exhibit, called Match-O-Rama, which was a glorified Match Game where one turned over tiles in an effort to find matching pairs.

Final Friday Art Walk, January 26, 2018

There was another interactive exhibit, called Mix-O-Rama, which was the opposite of Match-O-Rama in that one had to take two or more pairs and mix them up in order to create a unique piece of art.

Final Friday Art Walk, January 26, 2018

ReCreative Spaces, which opened back in 2015, was a studio space for artists and makers located in Mount Rainier, Maryland. Last month I got word that ReCreative Spaces decided to close its doors. I wanted to go to its Farewell Party last month but I decided to scrap that plan when a snowstorm coupled with below-freezing temperatures hit the area and I just didn’t want to risk going out too far from my home and risk either getting in a car accident or slipping on some ice on the sidewalk and risk injuring my hip replacement. (Although that storm made some pretty pictures, such as the ones I took that day.)

Ultimately I went to the last ever event at that place, which was basically a going-out-of-business sale where everything must go. Here are a few pictures I took while I was there.

The ReCreative Closing Sale, January 6, 2018

The ReCreative Closing Sale, January 6, 2018

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The ReCreative Closing Sale, January 6, 2018

The ReCreative Closing Sale, January 6, 2018

I only found two things that I decided to purchase, both of which had cost me a total of one dollar. I got a pack of inkjet fabric sheets.

The ReCreative Closing Sale, January 6, 2018

I also found this Christmas rubber duck that I thought was cute enough to purchase on impulse.

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Here’s the rubber duck next to my small collection of Ginger Cottages. This rubber duck is now currently residing in storage with the rest of my Christmas decorations.

The ReCreative Closing Sale, January 6, 2018

Since I’m publishing this post on a Thursday, I’ll make this into a Throwback Thursday by highlighting just a few past photos of ReCreative Spaces along with links to the original posts that they appeared in.

The first and only time I ever took part in a vendor show at Recreative Spaces.

ReCreative Spaces Open House event in Mount Rainier, Maryland, September 6, 2015

Photo originally published in the September 21, 2015 post.

I created this Christmas card during Small Business Saturday at ReCreative Spaces.

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Photo originally published in the December 9, 2015 post.

The time ReCreative Spaces sponsored Art in the Park(ing Lot) where local artists painted murals on a soon-to-be-torn down shopping center.

Painting Party, August 7, 2016

Photo originally published in the August 23, 2016 post.

The time I made this Christmas ornament as part of Small Business Saturday at ReCreative Spaces.

Small Business Saturday at the Gateway Arts District of Prince George's County

Photo originally published in the December 19, 2016 post.

When I saw this funky Christmas tree made entirely of wood.

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Photo originally published in the December 27, 2016 post.

When I colored a page from an adult coloring book.

Winter Gallery Opening Event at ReCreative Spaces, Mount Rainier, Maryland, January 8 2015

Photo originally published in the January 12, 2016 post.

I created this postcard-sized collage.

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Photo originally published in the March 3, 2016 post

I’ll never forget the time after Donald Trump was sworn in as President of the United States where ReCreative Spaces hosted this mural.

Deport Trump Mural

Photo originally published in the March 16, 2017 post.

From time to time ReCreative Spaces had musicians and deejays provide the tunes at their events, such as these two musicians.

ReCreative Spaces

Photo originally published in the May 22, 2017 post.

I’ll definitely miss going to their events because I usually enjoyed myself as I made art and met some new people.

I’d originally planned on not having any new entries about any of the winter holidays after January 6 (a.k.a. Little Christmas and the Feast of the Epiphany). But then I decided to check out one more Christmas-related event last Saturday. I couldn’t devote any time to this blog on the following day because I had to go to Baltimore to pick up some artwork I submitted to a recent show that had just closed and I ended up spending some time at the nearby Walters Art Museum then I went home and started to take down my Christmas decorations. So here it is, the last Christmas post until November (at the earliest).

There is a new art gallery that recently opened in Washington, DC called Artechouse, which is located just a couple of blocks away from the L’Enfant Plaza Metro station. It’s not your usual art gallery in that the exhibits are all interactive. When I found out that it was having a special interactive exhibit based on the classic Nutcracker Suite Christmas story, I knew I had to check it out. Except I was doing other things at the same time and I finally realized that this exhibit was going to close after January 7 so I had better get down there if I wanted to experience it.

It was fitting that I went on January 6 since it was Little Christmas. The only downer is that the weather was cold outside. (The entire East Coast was still smarting from that bomb cyclone that hit it just a few days earlier.) When I went downtown that day the temperature reached no higher than 18 degrees Fahrenheit. Yes, it was cold as hell walking from the Metro to Artechouse.

You enter the facility through the lobby then go down a flight of steps until you see a living room and you hear music from The Nutcracker Suite being played.

The living room included the shadow of the Mouse King, who reacts to your movements.

There was this 3D effect on this chandelier that kept on swinging back and forth, which looked way cooler in person than what this photo suggests.

If you stand in front of one of the framed mirrors, a nutcracker emerges who then starts to mirror your movements just like a real-life mirror reflection would.

If you stood in the right place along one of the walls, you could control a spotlight with your hand and shine it over the various paintings. What was cool was that some of the people in these paintings moved until you shined that spotlight over them then the people would freeze and they would look like normal paintings.

One of the side hallways had snowflakes on the floor, which moved in response to your own movements.

This particular hallway led to a formal dining room that was surrounded by lit Christmas trees.

Some of the place settings had signs saying “ACTIVATE ME.” If you had a smartphone or tablet with the special Artechouse app installed on it, you could point it at that sign and see things emerge. Sadly my smartphone camera refuses to work these days so I had to make do with looking over other people’s phones and tablets to see the virtual graphics pop up. I remember one plate suddenly filled with virtual pancakes while another filled with virtual cookies.

One of the side rooms had swirls on the floor that suggested a snowstorm and they responded to your movements.

There was a bar at one end of the room where you can order drinks.

The last photo shows the menu. The drinks were a bit on the pricey side. Some of the drinks had some kind of augmented reality where if you ordered it, you could aim that Artechouse app at it and some kind of virtual reality effect would emerge. Naturally those augmented reality drinks were the most expensive at a cost of $12 per person. There were regular drinks without the augmented reality but, after paying $15 to get in, I wasn’t really into shelling out more money.

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.

Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s have now ended and the 12 days of Christmas will end soon. The art show that I’m currently participating in will also end soon. You can find one of my art pieces at this show, which is currently being held at Trinacria Ristorante & Bar through January 6, 2018. Here is the address:

Trinacria Ristorante & Bar
111 West Centre Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21201
(443) 759-4082
Trinacria’s Facebook page

Trinacria is located just a block from the Centre Street light rail stop.

Here’s the piece that I currently have on sale:

Robot Diavolino

Robot Diavolino
Mixed media (Diavolino electronic board, polymer clay, beads, enamel paint, hand-shaped charms, acrylic gel, plastic skulls, scrapbook paper, and tin on canvas)
5 inches x 7 inches
13 cm x 18 cm

You can learn more about how I created this piece right here.

Santa Claus Baby New Year

The day after I observed yet another birthday I decided to check out the Riverdale Park Festival of Lights and Holiday Market. I ran into a few friends of mine and just basically hung out. Here are my photos from that event.

Near the Christmas tree stand was this toy train layout, which had a toy train that was going around and around.

The two young boys in the next photo were constantly following the toy train. As it rode around and around in a circle, the boys walked around and around in a circle as well.

The bulk of the event was held inside of a building. There were all kinds of arts and crafts available for sale ranging from paintings to freshly baked cupcakes to dolls to handmade soap to fused glass jewelry. There was live entertainment as well.

Santa Claus

After spending one Sunday morning at my church, I went north to Baltimore because I had decided to take part in this art show that was being held at Trinacria’s Ristorante & Bar and Sunday was the day where we had to submit our artwork.

When I arrived at the North Linthicum light rail stop I was surprised to see nearly every single parking spot taken up with cars. I’ve taken the light rail on weekdays before and the parking lot had never gotten filled up like that. I later learned that Fox was doing a live broadcast of the Baltimore Ravens Game at M&T Bank Stadium and that was why the light rail parking lot was so crowded. Luckily for me I saw one car pull out of a parking spot and I managed to snag the last open spot at that station.

The game had started so I had no problem with purchasing a fare ticket because there were very few people at that station. I rode the light rail and got off at the Centre Street station, where I took these pictures.

That block where the light rail station is located is incredibly run down and seedy. But when I walked a half-block away from that station, it was a different story. I went inside of the Mount Vernon Marketplace, which is located inside of the former location of a Hochschild Kohn’s department store, where I took these pictures.

This marketplace has an art gallery.

Mount Vernon Marketplace is an upscale food market where you can purchase various types of food and it also has plenty of bars and restaurants with signs in English and a few other languages.

I found one reference to Christmas at this spice store, which sold these ball-shaped Christmas ornaments that were filled with different kinds of spices.

I finally came across Trinacria’s Ristorante & Bar, where I dropped off my artwork. I took a few shots of the place while I was there.

Trinacria’s had the Baltimore Ravens game on the TV screen and there were people who were watching and cheering.

Here’s the artwork that I submitted to the show at Trinacria’s.

Robot Diavolino

Robot Diavolino
Mixed media (Diavolino electronic board, polymer clay, beads, enamel paint, hand-shaped charms, acrylic gel, plastic skulls, scrapbook paper, and tin on canvas)
5 inches x 7 inches
13 cm x 18 cm
You can learn more about how I created this piece right here.

I was invited to an artists reception that was scheduled for December 8 but it got cancelled at the last minute due to forecasts of a snowstorm coupled with below-freezing temperatures that was supposed to hit the area at the same time. (As it turned out, the temperature started to get below freezing on Friday night but the snowstorm didn’t start until very early Saturday morning.) The art show is still going on as of this writing until January 8, 2018. For details and directions, I suggest that you check out Trinacria’s Facebook page.

As I was walking back towards the Centre Street light rail station, I took a few photos of these vintage signs that decorate the outside of the Maryland Historical Society building.

This next photo shows the dog Nipper with the gramophone in a giant life-sized rendition of the famous advertising art that once served as the logo for RCA and it had the tagline “His Master’s Voice.” I have memories of that statue when I was a child because every time my father used to drive to Baltimore he would always pass the RCA building, which had that statue on top of it. That statue was later removed and it moved around to various locations, which you can read about right here, until it landed in its present location. Seeing that statue brings back childhood memories of my car trips into Baltimore whenever my dad drove.

I took the light rail at Centre Street when there were very few people. By the time we reached the Hamburg Street station, which is the closest stop to the M&T Bank Stadium, it became obvious that the Baltimore Ravens football game had ended due to the huge amount of people at that station.

This is what my train looked like after it stopped at Hamburg Street.

I was seated by the window, where I was able to take these two sunset photos.

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