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Instead of crowding into some suburban shopping mall on Black Friday, I decided to check out some local alternative festivities that were going on with some locally owned businesses. I took so many photos that day that I decided to divide them into separate entries with each entry representing a different town or business that I went to.

I began Black Friday with a trip to Community Forklift, a warehouse store that specializes in used/upcycled/recycled items like appliances and hardware, which was having an alternative Green Friday celebration.

When I first arrived I noticed a few signs indicating that they welcome everyone no matter who they are. More and more locally owned businesses have been putting up such signs in their shops since Donald Trump moved into the White House.

Santa Claus was there that day.

One of the Community Forklift employees offered to take my picture with Santa so I allowed it.

There were all kinds of Santas that were available for sale at Community Forklift that day.

I really liked this cast-iron vintage oven and stovetop that was on sale. If I lived in a bigger house, I might consider buying it. But I have a small kitchen so I really don’t have the space. This oven would be an asset to anyone who is looking for vintage items.

There was a craft show at Community Forklift as well where local artisans were selling ornaments, jewelry, locally made honey, and other items.

Local musicians provided live music.

They had face painting for kids.

They had a couple of free make and take demonstrations. One was on making wreaths using natural materials.

The other was making coasters from recycled tiles. I’ve made such coasters in the past but this one had a technique I’ve never used before where you decoupaged backing paper on the tile first.

Then you selected a photo that you decoupaged on top of both the backing paper and the tile.

Afterwards you place a piece of cork on the table and add Modge Podge on the top.

Then you placed the tile on top of the cork and let everything dry for a few minutes.

I now have a new coaster with a blue-patterned background and a photo of the U.S.S. Constellation (which is docked at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore) on top.

After I went to Community Forklift, I headed to similar celebrations that were going on in Riverdale Park and Hyattsville but I’m going to write about them in separate posts.



I’ve been writing a few articles for, which I’m doing on a trial basis. (I earn money based on how many eyeballs I get for my articles. So far I have made 20 cents. That’s right 20 cents. I haven’t even broken a dollar yet.) I don’t know how long I’ll stick with it, especially if I fail to crack the one dollar mark after a certain period of time.

Since my future career as a freelance writer for TopBuzz is pretty iffy at the moment, I’m definitely not going to neglect this blog. In fact I have a backlog of Hanukkah/Christmas/Kwanzaa related posts that I’m going to try to upload on a daily basis (including both Saturday and Sunday) between today and either January 5 or until I run out of posts (whichever comes first). Now that my birthday has passed yesterday, I feel a bit freer to really plaster this blog with winter holiday posts through the rest of 2017. There will be very little politics or snark. Unless President Trump does something extremely outrageous, which is very likely since he’s such a volatile person. (Here’s one example of the effect this guy has had on both the U.S. and the world: The town of Nazareth in the Palestinian territory has decided to cancel its annual Christmas festivities because of Trump’s controversial recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.) Just posts full of photos that have a minimum of one photo that is relevant to either Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa. The first of these posts will go live in about a half an hour from now so watch this blog. 🙂

Why economists are warning that the Trump tax plan will be an epic disaster.

Here’s a look at some rude and offensive Christmas cards that are definitely NSFW.

After 18 years, is changing its name and shutting down its website—its CEO reveals how it all went down.

If you don’t think Al Franken should step down, you can’t complain about Roy Moore…or Trump.

How the gig economy chews up and spits out millennials.

How free image websites exploit photographers.

Teenagers in Maryland create a pop-up museum to explain their lives and struggles.

A message to Democrats who still support Hillary Clinton.

Silicon Valley’s homeless: Everyday workers in the shadow of tech influencers.

Gig workers are easy prey for bullies and gangmasters.

Twitter, stop making excuses and delete Trump’s account for good.

Web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee responds to the threat to end net neutrality in the United States.

Mother of four found dead in her freezing home after her welfare was cut off.

Paradise Papers leak reveal secrets of the world elite’s hidden wealth.

An oral history of the Bauhaus featuring rare interviews in English with Walter Gropius, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and others.

How the fashion world glamorizes rape, abuse, and murder.

The safe word is “Barbie”: kinky doll-sized BDSM furniture and accessories from Russia.

An animated introduction to the world’s most mysterious book, the 15th-century Voynich Manuscript.

Donald Trump is the worst thing to happen to the Republican Party.

Birthday Cake

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!

Late last week I uploaded a new story on It’s about the Christmas house that’s on Delmar Avenue in Glen Burnie, Maryland. Yes, I’ve written about this house in this blog before but I wrote about it again in the hopes of getting a larger audience (and maybe earn some money). This year I noticed that the house had added something in one of the upper windows that produces an animation that simulates a factor churning out toys. I shot an updated video showing that new effect and it’s embedded in that article along with some new photos I took this year.

In case you’ve missed it, you can also read the first article I wrote for TopBuzz about the opening of the first medical cannabis dispensary in Silver Spring, Maryland and it included an appearance by former Baltimore Ravens football player Eugene Monroe.

Click here to learn more.

Twitter is loving this gay nativity scene with two Josephs.

Black trans filmmaker says the creator of a Netflix documentary stole her work.

An obscure copyright law is letting the Internet Archive distribute books published between 1923-1941.

The 9 most underpaid jobs in America.

The Amazon Effect: How taxpayers are funding the disruption of the U.S. economy.

109-year-old woman says that the secret to long life is avoiding men.

How a narcissistic brand of nationalism is taking over the United States.

Why would Tesla lay off hundreds of workers when it’s ramping up production?

Stop everything and check out these killer needleworks.

Five books to make you less stupid about the Civil War.

Facebook is facing a class-action lawsuit for trying to avoid paying its workers overtime.

3D carving is more than just a tool. It’s also a community and a book.

How colonialism destroyed cultures and shaped the world.

Donald and Ivanka Trump’s brands are tanking due to his pathetic presidency.

Artists are frequently asked to do work for free. As an experiment, an artist walked through a town asking other type of workers (such as barbers and a florist) if they would be willing to work for free.

Click here to learn more.

Looking for something unique to buy as a present for that special someone this holiday season? I will be selling my wares at various events. So far I’m committed to two places where you can purchase my work but that could change depending on how many other places I can sign up at.

You can find one of my art pieces at this show, which will be held at Trinacria Ristorante & Bar through January 8, 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. There will be an artist reception on Friday, December 8 starting at 7 p.m. and I plan to be there if you want to meet me in person. (NOTE: The artist reception has been cancelled. I will post an update if it gets rescheduled. The art show itself will continue as originally scheduled.)

As for the other show, this one is the Paint Branch Craft Show, which will be held at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church on Sunday, December 17 starting at 11:30 a.m. and it will run until 1 p.m. Here is the address:

Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church
3215 Powder Mill Road
Adelphi, Maryland 20783
(301) 937-3666

I will provide any updates if I end up working more shows between now and Christmas Eve.

Believe it or not there was a time when the National Rifle Association actually supported gun control.

A series of photographs show the effects of nuclear bomb testing has had on a remote area of Kazakhstan.

A free tutorial on how to turn dollar store tea lights into the cutest snowman Christmas ornaments.

How the deranged took over America and why they may be here to stay.

There’s a cop who calls himself the “Riot King” of St. Louis and his behavior is scarier than his name.

Serialized television has become a disease.

A Tumblr user shares how naughty her great-great-grandmother was back in 1890.

Here is how you can create a professional camera rig for $200.

The history of Russian involvement in America’s race wars.

Study by MIT economist says that the U.S. has regressed to a Third World nation for most of its citizens.

A stock analyst downgraded Chipotle for paying its workers too much. That tells you everything wrong with the economy right now.

The anti-Trump resistance forgets that George W. Bush is a war criminal.

Paper cutouts turn landmarks across the globe into scenes of temporary amusement.

TrumpsHair is the site that lets you add Trump’s hair to anything.

Photos show the North Korea that neither Donald Trump nor the Western media wants the world to see.

How a narcissistic brand of nationalism is taking over the United States.

The deadly consequences of militarizing the local police force.

This Arab illustrator is empowering women through art.

Harvey Weinstein and the economics of consent.

Decline and fall: how American society unravelled.

How millions of white Americans bought into a racist myth.

The reason why Harvey Weinstein is the beginning of a new backlash against sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape.

Brad Pitt talks about his side venture as an artist.

Banning terrorists won’t stop terrorism.

10 stories about Donald Trump you won’t believe are true.

On the first Saturday in November I went to two different events that were held on the same day at two different churches. Fortunately both churches were located just a few miles from each other so getting to both of them was no problem.

The first thing in the morning I went to the Christmas Bazaar that was held at St. Hugh of Grenoble Catholic Church in Greenbelt, Maryland. They had some nice things on sale along with some nice Christmas decorations.

Christmas Bazaar, November 4, 2017

There were all kinds of handcrafted wares available for sale along with a sale on used books and DVDs and a booth that sold fair trade items such as crafts from Third World countries and ethically sourced foods.

Christmas Bazaar, November 4, 2017

Christmas Bazaar, November 4, 2017

There was even a table and chair set that was on sale for $160. I had no idea if the tablecloth, china, cloth napkins, and the centerpiece were included in that sale or not.

Christmas Bazaar, November 4, 2017

Christmas Bazaar, November 4, 2017

The next two photos show what I bought at the Christmas Bazaar. I purchased this small nativity set that was made in Peru yet it has an African theme to it. (I found it charming that a leopard replaced the usual sheep, donkeys, camels, and cows that one usually find in a traditional nativity set.)

Christmas Bazaar, November 4, 2017

Here are the two other items I also purchased at the Christmas Bazaar. One is a used DVD of the movie The Producers, which is well-known for the one where Mel Brooks made his film directorial debut and it was also one of Gene Wilder’s early film roles. It was later turned into a Broadway musical then was remade as a film that featured the music from that Broadway show. I only paid $1 for that DVD, which was a great deal since I found that film to be hilarious. The other is a fair trade dark chocolate candy bar that was made from ethically sourced ingredients and it was made in a factory where the workers there were paid fair wages.

Christmas Bazaar, November 4, 2017

After spending an hour or so shopping at the Christmas Bazaar I decided to head over to a different Catholic church for lunch that was located a few towns over from the other one. The main difference between the two churches is that St. Hugh of Grenoble is a Roman Catholic church while the other is an Eastern Orthodox church. St. Gregory of Nyssa Byzantine Catholic Church in Beltsville, Maryland was the setting for that church’s annual Slavic Festival, which focuses on all kinds of homemade Slavic food. Here’s a photo of the front of the church building.

Slavic Festival, Beltsville, Maryland, November 4, 2017

As I was walking to the entrance to the Slavic Festival, I couldn’t help but notice the church’s charming gazebo that is located near that entrance.

Slavic Festival, Beltsville, Maryland, November 4, 2017

That Slavic Festival was very well-attended for a good reason: The food is excellent. I purchased the Sampler Platter for lunch, which included holupki (cabbage stuffed with beef and pork in a tomato sauce), kolbasi (homemade smoked sausage), pirohi (pirogi), haluski (dumplings with chopped onions and cabbage), and sauerkraut. It was all so delicious.

Slavic Festival, Beltsville, Maryland, November 4, 2017

Slavic Festival, Beltsville, Maryland, November 4, 2017

The Slavic Festival took place in a large room that was off to the side from the room where weekly Sunday worship takes place. That room had all kinds of appropriate fall decorations including pumpkins and autumn leaves in shades of red, yellow, and orange.

Slavic Festival, Beltsville, Maryland, November 4, 2017

Slavic Festival, Beltsville, Maryland, November 4, 2017

Slavic Festival, Beltsville, Maryland, November 4, 2017

The room where the weekly religious services takes place was open for visitors to take a look. I took the majority of the pictures in that room because there was all kinds of interesting Eastern Orthodox Christian art everywhere.

Slavic Festival, Beltsville, Maryland, November 4, 2017

Slavic Festival, Beltsville, Maryland, November 4, 2017

Slavic Festival, Beltsville, Maryland, November 4, 2017

Slavic Festival, Beltsville, Maryland, November 4, 2017

Slavic Festival, Beltsville, Maryland, November 4, 2017

Slavic Festival, Beltsville, Maryland, November 4, 2017

Slavic Festival, Beltsville, Maryland, November 4, 2017

Slavic Festival, Beltsville, Maryland, November 4, 2017

Slavic Festival, Beltsville, Maryland, November 4, 2017

Slavic Festival, Beltsville, Maryland, November 4, 2017

Slavic Festival, Beltsville, Maryland, November 4, 2017

Slavic Festival, Beltsville, Maryland, November 4, 2017

Slavic Festival, Beltsville, Maryland, November 4, 2017

Slavic Festival, Beltsville, Maryland, November 4, 2017

Slavic Festival, Beltsville, Maryland, November 4, 2017

A church member was around to provide information about the church facilities. The one thing I learned is that this church was originally founded by immigrants from Czechoslovakia, which I found quite fascinating for personal reasons. One of my ancestors came from that same country (back when it was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire) but he was an ethnic Czech while the people who founded St. Gregory were Slovaks. Czechoslovakia has since split further into two separate nations. My ancestor came from the state of Bohemia, which is one of the two areas known as the Czech lands (the other is Moravia), and that state is now in the Czech Republic. The other nation is Slovakia, where the Slovaks live.

Another cool thing about the Slavic Festival is that they also offered takeout food that could be frozen and eaten later. I purchased a bunch of carry-out home cooked meals to put in my freezer. I’ve defrosted and eaten a few of those meals since that day but, as of this writing, I still have some Slavic food in my freezer just waiting for me to defrost, heat, and eat. It’s nice to eat a special home cooked meal made from scratch where I don’t have to do any of the making.

In addition to checking out the two different events at two different churches, I did one other activity that day. After I left the Slavic Festival I went to nearby Laurel where I visited Dinosaur Park, which I’ll write about in my next blog post.

Twitter verifies Jason Kessler, the organizer of the White Supremacist rally in Charlottesville that resulted in violence that left one person dead.

A historian explains why the Founding Fathers would be baffled by conservatives’ obsession with flag worship.

90-year-old Czech grandma turns small village into her art gallery by hand-painting flowers on its houses.

Have Turkish archaeologists found the final resting place of Saint Nick?

Has the original Santa Claus been found in Turkey?

Guardians can sell the assets and control the lives of senior citizens without their consent—and reap a profit from it.

America is not a society that values human life.

Voices from the anti-Trump resistance.

Hogwarts actually exists? Here are 10 real-life schools for magic.

How much should you charge a band for CD and album cover art?

Yes, Stephen Paddock fits the mass shooter profile.

MilkLeaks chronicles the very worst of alt-right agitator Baked Alaska.

Giant straw animal sculptures invade Japanese fields after rice harvest.

Don’t tell Grandma but cross-stitch embroidery has an extreme side.

Americans are now paranoid that robots will toss their resumes in the trash.

We can’t ban guns in America, but we managed to ban all this other stuff.

The rise and fall of the word “Monopoly” in American life.

A disturbing dispatch from Seattle’s super secret white nationalist convention.

How Trump’s focus on working class men hurts working class women.

“X” marks the spot where economic inequality took root.

It’s time to talk about what’s radicalizing white male terrorists.

The Smithsonian presents a gallery of 6,000+ rare rock and roll photos on a crowdsourced web site, and now a new book. 11:30 am

What you need to know about the tech support scams that target senior citizens who own computers.

7 DIY projects for your old t-shirts.

A cashless society would destroy our privacy and freedom.

Twenty-one colorful cubes compose Denmark’s newly opened LEGO house.

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