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I was going to an evening networking event that was scheduled to be held at Dupont Circle. I decided to save money on Metro fares by arriving in the area before the evening rush hour began (when the fares would’ve cost more). Dupont Circle is among my more favorite areas of Washington, DC so I knew I would have plenty of ways of killing time before the networking event began.

I started my visit with touring The Phillips Collection (which I wrote about in my last post). Afterwards I simply walked around the area where I shot these pictures.

I noticed these scooters from Uber and Lyft that were available for rent. I found that Uber and Lyft do more than just provide peer-to-peer ridesharing in cars.

I walked by Kramerbooks & Afterwords where I saw this sign encouraging shoppers to bring their dogs with them inside of the store.

I briefly looked inside of the store where I saw that it had book copies of the recently-released Mueller Report, where Robert Mueller investigated whether Russia interfered into the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election.

Afterwords I walked around by the fountain. Between the warm weather and the increasingly longer days, I saw plenty of people doing things like relaxing and chatting with each other. I even saw one person play his guitar.

After the fountain I walked towards Panera Bread, where I ate dinner. On the way to Panera Bread I decided to check out the Made in DC store.

All of the goods were handmade by DC-area artists. The inventory ranged from clothing to posters to soaps to cards to jewelry. There was even a cafe in the back where you could consume locally-made food and beverages.

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Immaculately restored film lets you revisit life in New York City in 1911.

Russian man finds skull in garden. Wife tells him it belongs to her ex-husband.

A glimpse of life inside Prince’s Paisley Park.

America’s drug war is ruining the world.

Judy Blume taught a generation of young girls to be feminists.

Former Trump VP spills the beans on Donald Trump’s awful dealmaking skills.

The BBC is letting you download more than 16,000 free sound effect samples from its archive.

Traditional masculinity officially labeled as harmful by the American Psychological Association.

Teen buys every cupcake in shop after customer fat-shames her.

The wild Baroness of Greenwich Village who was the real artist behind Duchamp’s urinal.

Why this South American company is making laptops in Rwanda.

Religious Trauma Syndrome: How some organized religions lead to to mental health problems.

This Instagram account shows how Instagram photos look the same.

A woman escaped from Saudi Arabia in order to seek a better life.

Teen siblings create app for people struggling with mental health.

Here are 53 songs written or sung by R. Kelly that are now tainted.

Photographers document India’s wondrous and weird church architecture.

This teacher tried to simulate a dictatorship in her classroom. The students crushed her.

These photos of Senegalese in the 1920s and 1950s are a reminder of a forgotten elegance.

The tragic decline of musical literacy and quality.

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Original, very rare footage of Heller Keller in 1930.

The Hate Industrial Complex: How YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter are the new Fox News (but worse).

How The Story of Ferdinand became fodder for the culture wars of its era.

The exhausting work of fact checkers who track Donald Trump’s barrage of lies.

If graphic novels are hip for adults, why not picture books?

Narcissists are sick, stressed, and insecure.

The flashy colorful side of Managua, Nicaragua.

How the U.S. has systematically destroyed Hawaiian culture for 240 years.

Nineteen never seen before pictures of Lucille Ball.

Never forget: The Devil’s Punchbowl where 20,000 freed slaves died after being forced into post slavery concentration camp.

The benefits of having friends who aren’t “just like us.”

The latest front in Russian infiltration: America’s right wing homeschooling movement.

Hollywood’s weird “twin film” habit. It’s never really an accident when two different movies have the exact same plot.

Inside the GM plant where nooses and “whites-only” signs intimidated workers.

This is not your usual dollhouse. This one is interactive and it features lighting and shutters that can all be turned off and on using a PlayStation Move controller.

Meet the economist behind the one percent’s stealth takeover of America.

Depressed people see the world more realistically.

Under Trump, Made in America is losing out to Russian steel.

Forget a fast car. Creativity is the new midlife crisis cure.

China has a very Orwellian reason for banning typing “1984” on social media, while allowing people to read 1984.

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I’m going to be at Maker Faire NoVa this Sunday, June 2 from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. I’m going to help my friend, Phil Shapiro, with managing one of three booths that he’s trying to run simultaneously. I’ll be located inside of the JC Atrium at Booth 1225 touting The Most Affordable Computer, which is an idea Phil had to get people to purchase a full laptop for $60. If you want to know how that is possible, you’ll need to go to the event.

I’ll have a couple of copies of my book The Cash-Strapped Person’s Guide to Thriving in the Digital Age in that same booth for you to peruse and (and maybe even buy for only $5). The subject matter of my book dovetails quite nicely with The Most Affordable Computer booth.

Adjacent to that booth will be Booth 1226, which one of Phil’s assistants will be demonstrating 4K Screencasts with the theme “My Wildest Idea.” (Phil has been getting more and more into making 4K videos and he’s constantly trying to find the most affordable equipment so cash-strapped people could afford to make their own 4K videos.)

Phil will be at the JC Dewberry Mobile Exhibit in Booth 1228 demonstrating a game that he recently invented called Thunk. To see a preview of the game in action, you can view a couple of demonstration videos here and here.

There will be plenty of other people demonstrating their latest creations ranging from robotics to handcrafted clothing so it’s definitely worth a road trip. For details and tickets, visit the Maker Faire NoVa website.

Ramadan

Sure, you could buy that book online for $15. But here’s what that book really costs us.

A 14th-century nun faked her own death to escape convent life.

The 40 oldest color photos show how the world looked 100 years ago.

The U.N. report says the U.S. is the most unequal developed nation with 40 million in poverty.

They were there: Composite photos of Queen, Mick Jagger, The Beatles, and Pink Floyd on London streets then and now.

New study shows that the genocide of Native Americans left so much untended land that the Earth’s climate cooled.

How to get back into shape and stay in shape.

25 things you do as an adult when you’ve experienced childhood emotional abuse.

Unearthed in Rome’s new subway: Extinct elephants and Persian peach pits.

The FBI plot to bring down the gay man behind the 1963 March on Washington.

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Ramadan

Just a few days before New Year’s Day I managed to get a job where I was working for a government contractor that specializes in making government documents Section 508 compliant (meaning that people with various disabilities have to be able to read and understand the documents just as well as an average person with no disabilities). While some of the work involved remediating already existing documents to make them compliant, a major part of that company’s focus was on teaching people how to use Microsoft Word and Adobe InDesign to make their documents fully accessible by the disabled.

Unfortunately I was laid-off last month because the work had dried up and the business owner had a difficult time getting new work. It’s the residual effect of Donald Trump’s month-long shutdown of the government where the government contractors are now holding on to their funds as much as possible because many of them fear that Trump will do it again.

Back when I was working I took some photos mainly because I wanted to upload them on to my LinkedIn profile. Even though I had signed a non-disclosure form, the photos I took don’t reveal any sensitive information that would get me into legal trouble. I posted some of the photos back in March. Since then I’ve taken some more that should give you an idea of the kind of work that I did.

One of my duties was to copy names and addresses from the business owner’s personal iCloud to MailChimp. She used the MailChimp to send out notices that she was offering new classes and how to sign up for them.

Once we got enough students signed to a certain class, it was time for me to do a few things, such as asking the students if they would be attending class via online or if they would be arriving at the business for lessons. (There were a couple of classes where we had a mix of students who were there in person and students who were attending via the Internet.) I also had to ask the online students for their mailing address in order to send the materials before the class started.

About a few days before a new class would begin it would be time to print out the textbooks. There was a large Okidata printer that was capable of churning out enough pages for a book at a very fast rate. (It would take my own printer a huge part of the day to print a book like that.) One fun fact I learned that each toner cartridge for that printer cost a whopping $800 each. That printer was definitely NOT for printing superficial stuff like emails.

Once the book cover and all of the pages were printed, it was time for me to bind them together into a book. Yes, I learned some bookbinding skill from this job. I used this machine that not only punched holes in the pages but it also helped me to thread them on to a spiral binder clip.

Once the entire book was assembled, all I had to do was to pull the lever on the side and the pages were bound together into a book.

Another fun part of my job was to send the certificates to the students after the classes ended. I went into Adobe InDesign, pulled up the certificate template, selected the correct layers that corresponded to what class a student had taken, typed the student’s name, and added the date I created the certificate. Once I did all that, I exported it out as a .pdf file, emailed the certificate to the student, then make notes on this Microsoft Excel file that had the class rosters that I had sent out the certificate. Below are just two sample certificates where I used bogus names.

The company is a home-based business and there are bird feeders in the backyard. Despite the fact that there are squirrel guards on the feeders, this one squirrel had managed to work around that squirrel guard in order to reach the bird seed. This particular squirrel was able to twist his body in awkward positions in order to reach the bird feeder.

The business owner also owns two dogs. I’ve written about them before but I’ve taken some new photos of the pooches since then. The next two photos are of the male dog named Tequila but he is frequently called Q for short.

The next photo shows Q’s sister, Sadie, who wouldn’t sit still long enough for me to take a decent shot of her.

Here are the two dogs together. I was able to tell them apart because Q has darker fur while Sadie has mostly light brown fur.

Here’s another photo of Q.

And here’s another shot of Sadie.

Here’s an interesting story behind the above photo of Sadie. I posted that picture on to my Instagram account. Not too long after I posted it I got a comment from this company called Paw Sky that basically said:

Hello, we really liked your Instagram and we were wondering if you are interested in modeling our products. Please DM us for more details.

The comment looked like it was addressed to Sadie (especially the part about “if you are interested in modeling our products”) as if Sadie even knows how to read. (LOL!) I checked the website and it looked like it’s an online pet supply store. I still have recent memories of Instagram interactions from scammers like Boho Queen Jewelry and 1340 Art Magazine so, as a precaution, I did a Google search for Paw Sky. I didn’t read too many reviews so it could be that Paw Sky is either a relatively new scamming operation that hasn’t scammed too many people yet or it is a real honest-to-god business and not some scam operation disguised as a pet store. I showed the offer to Sadie’s owner along with Paw Sky’s Instagram account and she decided to decline it because, based on what I saw on Instagram, it looks like the company specializes in dog clothes and she’s not into dressing up her dogs in cute costumes.

Now that I’ve been laid off I have to admit that there are things about the job that I miss (besides the paycheck), such as seeing Sadie and Q. But I still have the memories and the photos from my time there so that’s something.

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Ramadan

Last month I decided to make my first trip to Tyson’s Corner Mall of 2019. As I was walking the skybridge from the Metro station to the mall I took this shot of the painted roadways outside of that mall.

As I was walking towards Metro Plaza on the way to the mall I saw this family where the women were all wearing traditional Muslim dress (like hijabs). These days there have been an increase in anti-Islamic bias (which has definitely accelerated since Donald Trump became president). It’s a testament to the resilience of this country when there are still people who are willing to publicly wear traditional outfits despite the Islamophobia that’s swirling around in this country.

I went inside of the mall. I briefly stopped by The Microsoft Store where I saw this kid testing out the Xbox.

I walked past this store called Aēsop that I hadn’t seen before on previous visits. At first I thought it might be a bookstore since the name reminded me of how I used to love reading Aesop’s Fables as a child. But, no, it’s a skin care place that sells expensive lotions. The store provided free samples of its hand cream outside of the door.

Of course I stopped by the American Girl Place. I saw that they had some new outfits for Nanea Mitchell, who’s the historical 1941 doll who lives in Hawaii around the time of the Pearl Harbor bombing.

The historical 1970s doll, Julie Albright, has some basketball-related accessories, which is appropriate since she managed to integrate the formerly all-male basketball team at her school. This also brought back memories of when I did that multiple-part review series of her books a few years ago.

I noticed one thing that has changed in recent years. There was a time when the Girl of the Year doll would be released on January 1 then officially retired on December 31 so she would be available for only one year. Last year I noticed that they extended the 2017 Girl of the Year, Gabriela McBride, a few months past the end of 2017 and she wasn’t retired until well into 2018. I noticed that they’ve done the same with the 2018 Girl of the Year, Luciana Vega. So, as of this writing, it’s not too late for anyone to buy her or her accessories.

I have already written extensively about Luciana last year so I’m not going to devote more space to her this time around.

As for this year’s Girl of the Year, well that’s a different story. The latest Girl of the Year is Blaire Wilson, who’s described as a girl whose family runs a farm that also serves as a bed and breakfast. She loves to cook yet has been diagnosed as lactose-intolerant. You can learn more about her story right here.

I find Blaire to be very cute and I totally adore her long reddish hair.

If it weren’t for the $115 price tag and the fact that I don’t have infinite space in my home, I might have been tempted to buy her on impulse. But I’m cash-strapped and have to make a great effort to keep clutter to a minimum so I’m going to have to pass on her. I like the illustration on the cover of her book below. Heck, I might check the book out of the local library at some later date but reading it is not really a major priority in my life.

Blaire has a variety of outfits that are sold separately with prices starting at $30. There are some matching human children’s clothing as well so young girls and their Blair dolls can dress alike.

Since Blaire lives on a farm, there are plenty of farm-related accessories sold separately, including animals. Blaire’s Garden, which is shown below, can be yours for only $50.

There is Blaire’s Party Décor, which costs $85. I have to admit that the cake looks very realistic.

The store currently has a Blaire-themed display where people can have their pictures taken.

The largest item in Blaire’s line is Blaire’s Family Farm Restaurant, which costs a whopping $300.

This set includes plastic pretend food, which looks very realistic.

This set does have very tiny details that are reminiscent of another item that American Girl Place sold back in 2015. It was sold in conjunction with Grace Thomas (who was the Girl of the Year at the time) and it was called Grace’s French Bakery. It was a $500 bakery set that had all kinds of bells and whistles. Blaire’s Family Farm Restaurant has only slightly fewer bells and whistles than Grace’s French Bakery (which explains why it is $200 cheaper) but the details are nonetheless still impressive, such as this sink, which has a tiny bottle of dishwashing liquid.

Here is how one of the plates from that set fits into my hand.

American Girl is also selling more and more boy dolls as part of its Truly Me line. To be honest, the boy dolls don’t really impress me too much, especially with that $115 price tag.

Here’s a last shot of two Truly Me dolls in a pretend pool. I briefly went gaga over the inflatable unicorn ring but, to be honest, anything from American Girl is definitely out of my budget right now.


Another place that is also out of my budget is this place called Sawadika Ice Cream, which specializes in creating Asian-style ice cream that looks incredibly artistic to look at. I took a free sample and the ice cream tasted fantastic. But I had to reluctantly pass on it because of finances.

I went to that mall before Easter. It’s normal to see Peeps in the stores. It’s also normal to see the Easter Bunny at the mall waiting to talk to kids and have his picture taken with them. This was the first time I saw the two combine to a special Peeps Easter Bunny area where kids can gaze at this Peeps-themed spring garden and have their photos taken with the Easter Bunny. That area was so colorful that it looked like a cross between the old board game Candyland. and the 1970s children’s television series H.R. Putnstuf.

I came upon this kiosk that sold something called Bliss in a Bottle. The idea is that a bottle of wine is dipped into chocolate so the bottle is coated in chocolate. The person would drink wine while eating the chocolate coating at the same time. It looks so totally decadent but it’s completely out of my price range.

I checked out The LEGO Store where I saw that they now have a LEGO set based on The Flintstones. Wow! I remember when I used to watch reruns of that show every day on TV when I was growing up.

They also had a black-and-white set based on the Mickey Mouse cartoon short Steamboat Willie, which looked pretty awesome!

They also had this statue made completely out of LEGO bricks that depicted a man dressed in a shark costume.

For dinner I treated myself to a sushi meal at Wasabi. I love seeing the food delivered on a conveyor belt and all you have to do is pick the food plate that you want to eat. The food was excellent as usual. The price is a bit on the expensive side (I spent $30 that night) so I limit myself to going there only once or twice a year. I had a job until I was laid-off recently so I felt that I was entitled to have one nice meal before I tighten my belt and start being obsessive about spending as little money as possible. If things improve for me financially I might go to Wasabi one more time in the fall or winter. Otherwise, I’ll have to savor memories of that meal until 2020 at the earliest.

After dinner I went to GameStop where I saw this mashup of Funko Pop and Pez that resulted in this unique head based on Sonic the Hedgehog.

I saw this giant sign announcing that 7Eleven is going to move into the mall soon.

I briefly stopped in The Disney Store where I saw these cute Easter plushies featuring Stitch and Angel dressed as Easter Bunnies while holding smaller plushies like a lamb and a chick. How cute!

The most unusual thing I saw at Tyson’s Corner was this sheep statue that had LED lights in various colors.

This sign was encouraging people to hop on the sheep’s back. After I took these photos, I saw a guy who did just that while taking a selfie.

The name of this statue was called iSheep and it was partially funded by the Burning Man, which is that annual festival that is held in the Nevada desert.

There were signs encouraging people to follow sheep tracks that began near the iSheep statue.

The tracks ended at this locked storefront that was called BrandBox. The doors were locked so I had to make do with taking these photos.

I later looked online and saw that BrandBox is a store where certain items that are usually available online only are available for sale on the store shelves. I guess this place is only opened on the weekends since I went to Tyson’s Corner on a Tuesday. I generally prefer to go to Tyson’s Corner either on a weekday or on a Sunday because that place turns into a totally crowded zoo on Fridays and Saturdays. Okay so there is one disadvantage of going to Tyson’s Corner on a weekday. LOL!

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Cinema’s first sex symbol was also America’s first goth.

How the Red Scare weakened radical feminism.

3,500 occult manuscripts will be digitized and made freely available online, thanks to Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown.

Meet the family who “world schools” their children by traveling full-time.

Virginia students learn in trailers while state offers Amazon huge tax breaks.

Saudi Arabia runs a huge, sinister online database of women that men use to track them and stop them from running away.

A look at the Vincent Van Gogh action figure, complete with detachable ear.

Pennsylvania coal region’s industry burned out. What remains are pockets of poverty where people get sicker.

A look at the African village where every house is a work of art.

Squatters turn oligarch’s empty London property into homeless shelter.

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I wrote a few months ago that a writer/educator/digital inclusion activist/computer person Phil Shapiro moved into my house because I was having a hard time with living on my own financially, especially since my husband ended the alimony payments as dictated by the divorce agreement. You can learn more about Phil through his YouTube and Twitter accounts.

Recently I published my first book, The Cash-Strapped Person’s Guide to Thriving in the Digital Age, and it’s available on a variety of sites as an ebook.

As for a paperback version, it looked like my only option was Amazon so I put it up for sale there.

But then Phil showed me Lulu.com. He started using this site when he was helping an 88-year-old woman with writing and publishing her memoirs (mainly for the benefit of her family). He urged me to give Lulu a try and he was even instrumental in putting the book online. (I basically emailed him the .pdf copy of the book and he did the rest.) He even ordered a few copies of my book and they arrived just a few days ago.

The book pages are printed in black and white but I really liked the way it turned out. What’s more, anyone can now order my book through Lulu, which is great for those who want to order a paperback version of my book but don’t want to deal with Amazon. You can now order the book at:

http://www.lulu.com/shop/kim-keyes/the-cash-strapped-persons-guide-to-thriving-in-the-digital-age/paperback/product-24052561.html

I wrote an article about my new book, The Cash-Strapped Person’s Guide to Thriving in the Digital Age for the website NFReads.com, which you can read right here.

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