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Each year the Capital Pride Festival is held in Washington, DC on the first weekend of Pride Month. This year I finally made an effort to attend the Capital Pride Festival for the first time in my life. This was after many years of knowing that this festival existed. I had opportunities in the past to represent the Unitarian Universalist faith at a booth by volunteering but I never did. I especially had opportunities to volunteer when a longtime member of my UU congregation came out as gay and he devoted much of his retirement time to organizing on behalf of LGBTQ people both within the UU faith and in interfaith groups. (He and his partner has since moved to Florida where they continue to be active in both the UU faith and LGBTQ rights.)

I never did. In fact it would be years before I would even consider attending a Pride festival of any kind. The last couple of years I got reminders of the Capital Pride Festival because the DC chapter of Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School would hold an event on the same Sunday as the festival. I went to Dr. Sketchy’s in 2017 but I basically took photos of all the rainbow stuff in Dupont Circle, which was a few miles away from where the festival was held. The following year I went to Dr. Sketchy’s again but instead of going to the festival first, I attended Sunday service at the National City Christian Church because Rev. William Barber of the Poor People’s Campaign was giving a speech in the pulpit. Because of the timing of both when Sunday service ended and when Dr. Sketchy’s was going to begin, I couldn’t swing getting back on the Metro to go to the festival because the timing would’ve been too close to Dr. Sketchy’s.

This year I finally decided that I would make an effort to show up to the Capital Pride Festival in person just to see what it was like. Since the DC chapter of Dr. Sketchy’s haven’t held an event since last October and no Pride tie-in event was scheduled for the same day, I could spend as much time at the festival as I wanted. I even wasn’t going to let the rain forecast deter me from not going—I simply took an umbrella with me.

Since the festival was held on a Sunday, I went to my church’s special all-ages Sunday service on playing followed by a picnic (most of which ended up being held indoors because it started to rain off and on). Once I ate my fill of food, I drove over to the Metro station and went directly to the Capital Pride Festival. Here is a short video I shot of the festivities from that day.

Here are the photos I took of the festival that day. I knew I was close to the festival grounds on Pennsylvania Avenue, Northwest when I saw more rainbow flags and related LGBTQ buttons on sale.

Capital Pride Festival, June 9, 2019

Capital Pride Festival, June 9, 2019

Capital Pride Festival, June 9, 2019

Of course there was anti-Trump stuff on sale. I can’t blame LGBTQ people for being less-than-thrilled with the current president, especially since his administration has been increasing hostile towards the LGBTQ in general.

Capital Pride Festival, June 9, 2019

Despite the cloudy wet weather the festival was well-attended.

Capital Pride Festival, June 9, 2019

Capital Pride Festival, June 9, 2019

Capital Pride Festival, June 9, 2019

Capital Pride Festival, June 9, 2019

Capital Pride Festival, June 9, 2019

Capital Pride Festival, June 9, 2019

Capital Pride Festival, June 9, 2019

Capital Pride Festival, June 9, 2019

Capital Pride Festival, June 9, 2019

Capital Pride Festival, June 9, 2019

Capital Pride Festival, June 9, 2019

Capital Pride Festival, June 9, 2019

Capital Pride Festival, June 9, 2019

Capital Pride Festival, June 9, 2019

Capital Pride Festival, June 9, 2019

Capital Pride Festival, June 9, 2019

Capital Pride Festival, June 9, 2019

Capital Pride Festival, June 9, 2019

Capital Pride Festival, June 9, 2019

Capital Pride Festival, June 9, 2019

Capital Pride Festival, June 9, 2019

I saw a variety of corporate sponsors at this festival, which shows how mainstream LGBTQ rights have become in recent years (especially with increasing acceptance of legalized same-sex marriage). I’m amazed at this change, especially since I still have memories of when my UU congregation accepted that longtime member when he came out of the closet (this was back in the 1980s when there was a backlash against the gay rights movement due mainly to the AIDS virus striking that community) and made the then-bold move of formally being recognized as a Welcoming Congregation by the UUA. I still remember having to keep my mouth shut when I used to hear the occasional anti-gay joke when I worked for the corporate offices of a now-defunct computer reseller because there was a strong corporate culture against making any kind of waves for any reason. I never felt comfortable enough to even tell a co-worker there about how my church was trying to be more accommodating to LGBTQ people and standing up for their rights. Now there are corporations who are taking part in LGBTQ festivals like this one.

Capital Pride Festival, June 9, 2019

Capital Pride Festival, June 9, 2019

Capital Pride Festival, June 9, 2019

Capital Pride Festival, June 9, 2019

Capital Pride Festival, June 9, 2019

Capital Pride Festival, June 9, 2019

Capital Pride Festival, June 9, 2019

Capital Pride Festival, June 9, 2019

Capital Pride Festival, June 9, 2019

Someone at the Amazon booth volunteered to take a photo of me with my smartphone. I’m wearing the same t-shirt that I designed at a Pride Month event that took place in a local art supply store last year.

Capital Pride Festival, June 9, 2019

Even the U.S. State Department had a table where it was recruiting potential employees.

Capital Pride Festival, June 9, 2019

There was also the reminder that this year is the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, which gave rise to the modern LGBTQ movement.

Capital Pride Festival, June 9, 2019

Despite LGBTQ people becoming more accepted, there have still been some backlash, especially among transgender people. I saw this booth promoting an upcoming march for transgender people that will happen in DC this fall.

Capital Pride Festival, June 9, 2019

There was also a promo for the upcoming BronyCon in Baltimore. (I went in 2013, 2014, and 2015 but I haven’t gone since because of tight finances. I might go this year since things are starting to improve for me but I haven’t yet made a final decision as of this writing.)

Capital Pride Festival, June 9, 2019

At one point it started to rain so I ended up spending the rest of the festival under my umbrella. I walked around until I grew tired and I left to go back to the nearest Metro station. (The only bad thing about going to a festival in rainy weather is that everything was too wet to sit on so taking any sitting break was out of the question unless I wanted to put up with wet pants.) I’m glad that I finally went to an official Pride festival and I enjoyed myself.

The only downside was that the next day I began to felt something in my lungs and I realized that I was working on a chest cold. I have no idea if this chest cold came as a result of walking in the rain during Capital Pride Festival or if I may have caught someone else’s germs a day or two before that festival but I ended up developing it. It took at least three weeks before I got rid of it mainly because it lingered when this awful heat and humidity weather came to the area and the National Weather Service issued a Code Orange alert warning people with lung problems that they will have more difficulty breathing if they spend any amount of time outdoors. Getting this cold sucked but I still don’t regret going to this year’s Capital Pride Festival because at last I got a chance to see for myself what it is like.

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For the second year in a row I took part in Maker Faire NoVa, which was held on the campus of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. Ironically, nearly a week after this event was held, I got word that the company that was responsible for Maker Faire NoVa and all of the other Maker Faires held all over the world, Maker Media, had abruptly shut down and laid off all of its staff. I’m glad that Maker Faire NoVa happened before the closing of Maker Media since there were so many people who took part in it.

I was working with Phil Shapiro, who had sent in three proposals to Maker Faire NoVa and they were all accepted. I was sent to work one of the booths—which was about how one can get a computer for $60 if other people in the community pool their money and buy used computers from a certain place in bulk. I decided to show off my book, The Cash-Strapped Person’s Guide to Thriving in the Digital Age, at that booth since the theme of my book dovetails nicely with the message of that booth. Here are a couple of sample books and a bunch of promo postcards I had printed up.

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

On the way to the event we stopped by this bicycle rack that was located in an office park because it looked pretty cool from the highway. They are bikes one can rent from a company called BECO bluebike.

On the Way to Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

One of Phil Shapiro’s proposals that Maker Faire NoVa had accepted was a demonstration for a new game that Phil had recently invented called Thunk. The next picture shows the props used in Thunk as they were loaded in the trunk of Phil’s car.

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

We arrived to see the statue of George Mason all decked out in steampunk clothing.

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

The next set of pictures show one of the booths that were assigned to Phil and it was also the same booth where I staffed. Like I wrote earlier, it was a display on how a group of people in the community could bulk order used computer equipment from certain companies and each person could end up with getting a decent Linux computer for $60. I also displayed my book and handed out postcards while I was there.

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

I had one of the computers run some of my animation files. (You can view the animation that’s depicted in this photograph right here.)

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

There was a display that had a couple of flyers regarding “The Most Affordable Computer.” One was information that Phil wrote about how it’s possible to get a computer legally for as low as $60. The other was an article that The Washington Post did about him back in the 1990s when he lived in Arlington and he would give used computer equipment a new home with low-income families.

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

I had my own book on display along with a promo postcard and the paper version of Phil’s proposal on how one can get an affordable computer.

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

The good news was that booth got plenty of attention. Now for the bad news: Because that booth was located near the larger information booth that’s located in the middle of the floor of the building that we were in, I was inundated with so many people asking me where a certain area was located or a certain building. I literally couldn’t answer people because I wasn’t among the organizers of Maker Faire NoVa and I’m not very familiar with the layout of George Mason University’s Fairfax campus. It got frustrating because these people weren’t interested in the topic of the display (I tried to hand out a few postcards and papers but to no avail) and I had to frequently point towards the information booth.

The second booth that Phil took out was on making 4K videos. He had lined up another friend who would staff it but that friend turned out to be a no-show. Unfortunately that second booth was located too far away from the booth that I was working at so I couldn’t even pull double duty and staff both at the same time. (I could have pulled it off it they were adjacent to each other instead of each being located about a 100 feet away.) Ultimately Phil decided to let that one go and take down the display a few hours early.

The third booth was located outside on the campus grounds. It was where Phil had demonstrated his game Thunk. Here’s a still photo of the booth setup.

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

I also shot a short video of the game Thunk in action as well as a few other displays that included a 3D-printed Rube Goldberg-style display, jugglers juggling balls, and robots (including ones that resembled R2-D2 from Star Wars).

Apparently the Thunk booth was the one that got the most attention, which was great for Phil. He shot his own videos of Thunk at the Maker Faire NoVa.

You can see other prototypes of his game in action on his YouTube channel right here and here.

There was even a book signing at Maker Faire NoVa. Sylvia Martinez was promoting her book Invent to Learn. Phil took time out from demonstrating his Thunk game to buy the book and have it signed by the author.

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

There were a variety of booths ranging from 3D printers to sewing to robots. I tried to visit as many of the booths I possibly could during breaks but that event was so massive that I’m sure I probably missed a few. The event was spread out to over three different buildings on campus plus there were booths set up on the grounds as well. I also saw plenty of people dressed in costumes—especially ones depicting various Star Wars characters.

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

This booth had an interesting idea: You can use a 3D printer to print the parts for your own 3D printer. In other words, you can use a 3D printer to make a new 3D printer.

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

There was an area where people of all ages were encourages to take apart various electronic devices in order to see how they work.

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

There was a re-creation of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor area done in LEGO.

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Someone had done a LEGO re-creation of Diagon Alley from the Harry Potter books, which even included the Knight Bus. The details of this display were really awesome to see in real life.

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

I also walked around campus where I saw a few interesting things, such as this statue.

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

The last three photos show the only thing I purchased at this year’s Maker Faire NoVa. It’s a handcrafted soap that has a rubber unicorn duck embedded in it. I paid $5 for it. It looks pretty small but I thought it was really pretty and I fell in love with it.

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

Maker Faire NoVa, June 2, 2019

I did so much walking at that event that I was literally sore for the next two days. I didn’t begin to recover until the third day after Maker Faire NoVa. I really enjoyed this event as much as I did last year. Given the news of Maker Media’s demise, only time will tell if there will ever be another Maker Faire NoVa (or something similar with a different name).

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Since tomorrow is the Fourth of July holiday I’d thought I would just post some miscellaneous photos I’ve taken with my smartphone over the past few months.

Here’s a cute stuffed squirrel that I found at IKEA.

IKEA, May 23, 2019

IKEA, May 23, 2019

IKEA also has this nice portable charcoal grill that looks very compact and easy to store. I would love to take up grilling once again once my finances stabilize.

IKEA, May 23, 2019

I saw this leopard shirt for men on display at a local menswear boutique.

Leopard Shirt

Not too long ago I needed a new keychain because the one I was using fell apart so I purchased this puffy unicorn keychain for only $5 from Five Below. It turned out to be short-lived because the puffy unicorn has managed to detach itself from the rest of the keychain ring.

Unicorn Keychain

Unicorn Keychain

Here’s a dinosaur sign I saw inside of a local library.

Library Sign

I’ve seen Disney Princess dolls before but it was the first time I’ve ever seen them dressed in casual clothes. It’s a tie-in with the Disney movie Ralph Breaks the Internet (which I haven’t seen yet as of this writing). I think it’s cool seeing these princesses dressed in something other than the usual ballgowns.

Disney Princesses in Casual Clothing

I saw this new flavor of Oreo cookie: S’mores.

S'mores Oreo Cookies

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I recently took a further step to put that nightmare divorce behind me. A few months ago I finally got rid of my wedding dress when my housemate volunteered to drop it off to a local thrift store that is run by a non-profit charity. It had been sitting up in the attic and I finally realized that the dress had long since outlived its usefulness. I’m only writing about it today because today would’ve been my wedding anniversary had my husband not left me for a woman who has severe mental health problems and insisted on a divorce ASAP. (He married her just two months after our divorce was final.)

My parents purchased the wedding gown for me when I got married. My fiancé and I really went traditional when it came down to planning out wedding. We decided to marry in June, which is a popular wedding month. I had my parents pay for the wedding because it’s traditional. We ended up having a simple wedding in my parents’ backyard because I had just graduated from college the year before and my parents were still paying off the debts. My parents cooked and prepared most of the food in an effort to save on catering bills. My parents hired a professional photographer and made the arrangements for the flowers and wedding cake.

My new husband and I spent out wedding night at a hotel in Baltimore. The next day we drove back to my parents’ home in Glen Burnie where I left my wedding gown behind before we flew to Florida for our honeymoon. (We stayed with my cousin and her then-husband, who lived an hour’s drive from Orlando. Their marriage ended in divorce a few years after our honeymoon.) While we were out of town my mother had a dry cleaners clean and box the dress. When we returned from the honeymoon, we went to my parents’ home where we picked up the box containing the wedding gown. When we arrived to our new home, we put the box containing the wedding gown up in the attic where it stayed for years.

When I look back, I think buying a $200 dress that I could only wear once was a pretty stupid idea. But so many brides at the time were so starry-eyed that they and/or their parents end up buying something expensive that they only wore once and I fell into that trap. I think the Millennial Generation are on to something because I’m reading reports that far fewer of them are buying elaborate bridal gowns. In fact, more of them are ditching the whole traditional white wedding altogether mainly because the costs of such weddings have become astronomical while many Millennials are struggling with paying off huge amounts of college debt.

The biggest irony is that my mother borrowed her bridal gown when she married my father. She told me that her co-worker at the insurance company where they both worked offered to lend her her wedding gown because the co-worker noticed that they both had the same body size. The co-worker only asked that my mother pay to have it dry cleaned before returning the dress back to her.

But when it came time for me to get married, my mother was really eager to buy me my own gown. Unlike her, I didn’t have any recently married friends whose gowns I could borrow (in fact I was among the first in both my family’s then-latest generation and my circle of college friends to get married) and, unlike men’s suits, there weren’t any places that rented bridal gowns. (Talk about sexism!)

My fiancé opted to buy his suit for our wedding. He was able to wear that suit over and over again for other formal occasions, such as other people’s weddings, giving a presentation at a conference, attending some other kind of formal event, etc. All he had to do was to switch ties, switch shirts, and even switch formal shoes and he could wear his suit to other events. In contrast, wearing my wedding gown to someone else’s wedding is severely frowned upon in my country mainly because people would see it as my attempt to draw attention away from the bride on her special day. And there was no way I could wear my wedding gown to any one of my previous office jobs or for a formal evening company function because that would’ve been frowned upon as well for not being “professional” enough.

I know there is the idea that a woman could one day pass that wedding gown down to her daughter when she gets married. Except I ended up not having any children so I had no one to pass the gown to. Even if I have had a daughter, there’s always the possibility that she would’ve ended up never getting married or she would’ve decided to get married in a different dress from the one that I was married in. I wonder how common it really is for women to wear their mother’s old bridal gowns at their own weddings. Every now and then I see articles like this one and that one about generations of women getting married in the same wedding dress that their grandmother or great-grandmother got married in. But if that was common, you wouldn’t see media outlets posting stories about it because it wouldn’t be unique.

My late father-in-law’s second wife had an idea on how she handled the wedding dress issue that, in retrospect, was probably the best idea ever. Her marriage to my father-in-law was her first and she was somewhere in either her late-thirties or early-forties when she married him. She was older than the usual bride at that time (which was 23) and she had already been living on her own for a number of years when she decided to get married. What she decided was to buy a plain no-frills white dress that had a suit jacket and very little lace or beading. At the time it seemed like an unusual dress to get married in.

A few years later when my husband and I visited his father and step-mother I remember they showed us photos from a dinner that was held in the middle of this conference they attended. My husband’s step-mother wore a white business suit that seemed very tasteful. She mentioned that this suit was the same dress that she got married in. After the wedding she had a seamstress take off a few inches from the bottom of the dress and it turned out to be a nice business suit that could be worn in the summertime. I have to admit that in hindsight, she had a clever idea when she chose her wedding dress that was free from excessive lace or beading because she was able to re-use it for other occasions and she didn’t look out of place.

After my divorce I slowly began getting rid of items from my wedding. In 2014 I burned my wedding cake topper at a party that was held by someone from my support group for people who are separated or divorced. In 2016 I burned a wedding present that my mother made for me and my husband at the same location. (It was an embroidered piece that had the names of me and my husband along with our wedding date.)

Now it’s 2019 and I got my wedding gown out of the house. Here are a few photos I shot before the gown left my house.

While I was on my honeymoon with my husband my parents sent the gown to a dry cleaner in their town who then packed the gown in this huge keepsake box after it was cleaned.

That box was incredibly elaborate and bulky. It took up a sizable amount of space in the attic. But it looked nice. When you open the front flap you’d see plastic window where one could see the veil and a portion of the gown.


Attached to the box were this orange ticket that had the gown’s retrieval number and a white receipt from the dry cleaner that had my mother’s work and home phone numbers along with the $44 price that my parents paid to have the gown cleaned and boxed.

Here are a couple of photos of me wearing that wedding gown on that June 8 wedding day a long time ago. It’s been a few months since I got rid of that gown and I don’t really miss it. My attitude is that if I find myself pining to see that gown again, all I have to do is to look at these two old pictures of me wearing that gown.

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May is Mental Health Awareness Month. The Space, a makerspace located in Beltway Plaza Mall in Greenbelt, Maryland, did an art event in conjunction with the Prince George’s County (Maryland) chapter of NAMI that was designed to raise awareness about mental health. It was held on the day before Mother’s Day so some people were creating art to give to their mothers. Here are the photos I took.

There were several tables set up in the middle of the mall so people could stop by and make something.

Mental Health Awareness, May 11, 2019

The art supplies were all free so there were plenty of people of all ages who were making something.

Mental Health Awareness, May 11, 2019

There was a table where people painted pictures using acrylic paint.

Mental Health Awareness, May 11, 2019

There was a table where people could design their own t-shirts using fabric paint. The t-shirt making table was popular and the shirts were soon all given away and decorated.

Mental Health Awareness, May 11, 2019

The local NAMI chapter had literature and other free items that people could take so they could learn more about mental health.

Mental Health Awareness, May 11, 2019

Mental Health Awareness, May 11, 2019

Mental Health Awareness, May 11, 2019

There was a table where people could make their own self-care kits. I decided to make one myself. I took a plastic box and stuck two stickers on the lid.

Mental Health Awareness, May 11, 2019

I filled my self-care kit with all kinds of goodies.

Mental Health Awareness, May 11, 2019

I put in two inspirational quotes. One was by Marcus Aurelius and it said “Everything is in a state of metamorphosis.” The other was by W.S. Gilbert and it said “Things are seldom what they seem.”

Mental Health Awareness, May 11, 2019

I put in a wrapped tea bag.

Mental Health Awareness, May 11, 2019

I added in some very fragrant dried sage.

Mental Health Awareness, May 11, 2019

I even decorated the sides of the box with washi tape.

Mental Health Awareness, May 11, 2019

I also created this small collage piece using the supplies that were available.

Mental Health Awareness, May 11, 2019

I was pretty happy with what I made at that event. 🙂

Here are some more photos I took at the event where people were creating all kinds of amazing art.

Mental Health Awareness, May 11, 2019

Mental Health Awareness, May 11, 2019

Mental Health Awareness, May 11, 2019

Mental Health Awareness, May 11, 2019

Mental Health Awareness, May 11, 2019

Since May 11 was the day before Mother’s Day, there were people making creative pieces to give to their moms. The Spanish writing on the t-shirt in the next photo translates as “Happy Mother’s Day, Granny Machi.”

Mental Health Awareness, May 11, 2019

This t-shirt had a slogan that was definitely appropriate for the theme of this event: “I Am Not Defeated.”

Mental Health Awareness, May 11, 2019

There was a story about this event that appeared in The Greenbelt News Review on the following week. The story is located towards the bottom of the first page of this link. There was a photo accompanying this story. I can be seen in the photo wearing a brown t-shirt that had a multicolored image of Mickey Mouse on it and holding that small self-care kit I made at the event. (I purchased that one during my last trip to Walt Disney World back in 2011.)

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Ramadan

Last week I learned that Grumpy Cat passed away. She was only seven years old. Her death was announced on Twitter with this message:

We are unimaginably heartbroken to announce the death of our beloved Grumpy Cat.

Despite care from top professionals, as well as from her loving family, Grumpy encountered complications from a recent urinary tract infection that unfortunately became too tough for her to overcome. She passed away peacefully on the morning of Tuesday, May 14, at home in the arms of her mommy, Tabatha.

Besides being our baby and a cherished member of the family, Grumpy Cat has helped millions of people smile all around the world—even when times were tough.

Her spirit will continue to live on through her fans everywhere.

Grumpy’s Family—Tabatha, Bryan, and Chyrstal

Grumpy Cat’s death was covered by the mainstream media both here in the U.S. and abroad.

Back in 2014 I was teaching myself how to use Inkscape, which is the free open source alternative to Adobe Illustrator. In the process I did some tracing over photos of animals who became Internet celebrities. One was of Boo the World’s Cutest Dog (along with his older brother and best friend Buddy). The other was of Grumpy Cat, which you can see below.

grumpycat

I later uploaded that digital drawing to OpenClipArt.org, where you can download it and use it for free.

Earlier this year Boo passed away and I devoted a Throwback Thursday post to that pooch where I mentioned that Inkscape graphic I did of Boo and Buddy. I never thought that in the same year I would be devoting another Throwback Thursday post to Grumpy Cat while discussing some of the Grumpy Cat-related creative projects I did but that’s the way it goes.

Like Boo, Grumpy Cat also got her start on social media. (Yes, that cat was definitely female.) She was born with feline dwarfism and she had an underbite, both of which contributed to her looking like she had a permanent scowl on her face. When her owners posted her photos online, people soon began using them to create memes, several of which have been posted on Metro News as the 30 most iconic Grumpy Cat memes.

I even did a meme of Grumpy Cat myself back in 2017 when I made fun of the sudden celebrity of Danielle Bregoli (also known as “Bhad Bhabie”) whose defiant retort to Dr. Phil when she appeared as a guest on his TV show went viral: “Cash me outside, how bow dah?” Here is the meme, which I did in Adobe Photoshop.

grumpycatcashmeoutsideparodymeme

I tried uploading the meme to various Facebook and Twitter discussions about Bhad Bhabie but I couldn’t get the meme to take off in a viral way so I gave up after about a week or so of trying.

I also incorporated Grumpy Cat in a drawing I did once. Here is some background. Back in 2013 I went to Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School in Baltimore (link is NSFW) where the model for that evening was a burlesque performer named Lady Satine. I took part in a contest where we had to do a drawing where we incorporated Lady Satine and a cat. So I drew Grumpy Cat protesting “Lady Satine laid on a box I was in once. It was awful!”

Lady Satine and Grumpy Cat, Dr. Sketchy's Anti-Art School, Baltimore, August 12, 2013

My drawing failed to make it to the finals but I still had a blast drawing the two of them together.

Then there was the time when I made a meme that poked fun at Ann Coulter in the wake of her poking fun at then-First Lady Michelle Obama’s efforts to publicize the plight of the 300 Nigerian girls who were kidnapped by a terrorist group Boko Haram. I promptly posted that meme on Twitter.

In the meantime I followed Grumpy Cat on all of the social media sites and I still have a DVD copy of the movie Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever, which I play around the holidays about once a year or so. A couple of years ago I purchased this small stuffed Christmas Grumpy Cat plush that I now display underneath my small Christmas tree during the holidays.

One Halloween I purchased a Grumpy Cat hat from a temporary Halloween store, printed a few sheets of paper that had slogans that one would find in a Grumpy Cat meme and I went to a couple of Halloween parties dressed as Grumpy Cat.

photo69

photo70

photo71

I ended up wearing that hat again just a couple of years later when I participated in the Women’s March on Washington the day after the inauguration of President Donald Trump. The march organizers were putting out the word that people should come to the march wearing knitted pink pussycat hats. I got the word of this march on such short notice that there was no way I could knit something up in less than a week. I ended up taking my Grumpy Cat hat out of storage and wearing that instead.

Women's March on Washington

Women's March on Washington, January 21, 2017

I also wore that hat at the Women’s March the following year.

Women's March on Washington 2018

Women's March on Washington 2018

I even read a few issues of the comic book series The Misadventures of Grumpy Cat (And Pokey!). I found the series pretty amusing.

Grumpy Cat was probably one of the few famous felines that I actually liked. I have an allergy to cats so I can never keep one as a pet. As a result, I ended up liking dogs better and I’ve even stayed with a few dogs over the years with no problems. I think Grumpy Cat’s perpetual scowl and the sarcastic memes that her face generated really resonated with me.

Grumpy Cat’s online fame even inspired me to think about an online project that almost became a reality. Back in 2013 I thought about creating a Facebook page for my pet hedgehog Spike because he was incredibly photogenic and I thought that he had a chance at being an Internet celebrity. I felt that the fact that he was a hedgehog instead of the usual dog or cat would only increase his chances of becoming famous. I was going to launch his Facebook page in late November, when most people tend to be home for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. As to whether Spike would’ve ever become as famous as Grumpy Cat is pure speculation now because I was never able to put that plan into action due to the fact that Spike died in September of that year.

Grumpy Cat’s online photos turned into memes led to a bunch of spinoff products that were profitable to her owners but there was also some controversy over her fame. There were accusations that Grumpy Cat’s initial fame stemmed from a meme whose joke was stolen from a comic strip. There were also accusations that Grumpy Cat was being exploited by being forced to make numerous public appearances all over the U.S. and in a few other countries as well. A writer for Jezebel summed up his one and only meeting with Grumpy Cat in person with this headline: I Met Grumpy Cat and It Was Fucking Abysmal.

Since Grumpy Cat is now deceased all of those exploitation allegations are moot. Regardless of how you personally feel about Grumpy Cat’s huge amount of public exposure, she had generated a log of spinoff products in her short life, most of which sold very well. In fact, I saw an article a few days ago that had this headline: Grumpy Cat’s owner is facing a major financial loss—there’s no insurance for pet influencers. There’s no denying that Grumpy Cat’s family will be taking a major financial hit because, for the past few years, they had basically lived off of the revenue that Grumpy Cat generated. In contrast, the owner of the late Boo the World’s Cutest Dog works for Facebook so she had a career to fall back on when her dog died earlier this year. I guess the moral of that story is that if you have a pet who has become a celebrity, always make sure that you have a job or some alternate source of income that’s completely unrelated to your pet because one day your pet will die and your finances could end up in dire straits if you don’t have any contingency plans for that event.

In addition to the hat, DVD, and Christmas plush that I purchased, there were plenty of other Grumpy Cat products I saw on the store shelves and wrote about in this blog over the years. I photographed just some of the ones I saw on store shelves.

Grumpy Cat Stuffed Animal in Store Window

Originally posted on March 29, 2014.

Grumpy Cat Coloring Book

Originally posted on July 1, 2015.

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Originally posted on April 20, 2015.

photo28a

Originally posted on August 12, 2014.

Finally, here’s a photo of two plushies—one is based on Boo and the other is based on Grumpy Cat. And both of them have now crossed that Rainbow Bridge in 2019.

Internet Celebrities as Stuffed Animals

Originally posted on July 28, 2014.

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Ramadan

The annual Sakura Matsuri street festival in Washington, DC is one of the last major events that is held as part of the National Cherry Blossom Festival. The festival is usually held in the Federal Triangle area (such as the one in 2015). Except when I last attended two years ago, the festival was moved to the Navy Yard.

This year the festival has been moved back to its original location in Federal Triangle. On my way to the festival I saw tourists taking selfies outside of the Trump International Hotel, which had me rolling my eyes. (LOL!)

Selfies at the Trump International Hotel

I arrived at the festival and it was as I remembered from the last time I went in 2017. There were cosplayers dressed in various costumes, a variety of Japanese imported goods available for sale, a variety of performances and demonstrations. The admission fee is now $10 per person. (I remember when this festival used to be free years ago. Then they decided to turn it into a paid event and charge $5 per person. Now the prices are higher.) Here are some photos and videos I shot at this event.

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival

I shot this video of Ai’s Sakura Band, which is led by a Japanese pianist, composer, and arranger named Ai Yamashita. This group played traditional Japanese music that celebrated sakura (the Japanese word for “cherry blossom”).

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival

Here are a couple of photos of me standing next to the sign featuring that cute cartoon blob.

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival

There was this table selling wooden chopsticks with geek sayings on them. Having seen Guardians of the Galaxy, I laughed at the chopsticks that said “I was Groot.”

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival

At one point I went over to the science area of the festival where I briefly petted this baby seal robot with one hand and shot this video with the other.

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival

The next couple of photos show the women who represented each of the 50 states and territories who were chosen to be Cherry Blossom Queens and Princesses for 2019.

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival

I even shot this short video of the group singing “My Country Tis of Thee.” The lead singer had a very nice voice.

I made my way over to the Wishing Tree where one can write his/her own wish on a piece of paper then hang it on the tree.

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival

I ended up writing my own wish. I had to do with my latest job being unsteady. (I work for a government contractor that is currently having a hard time with getting new work because many of the government contracting officers have been spooked by President Donald Trump’s recent month-long shutdown. Apparently many of them are afraid of another shutdown happening again so they are holding on to their funds more than they used to.) I wrote this on my piece of paper: “I wish for financial stability with a well-paying job. I wish my new book sells lots of copies. I’m not asking to be rich.”

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival

I would’ve written more about how I only wish to be financially stable and I’m not asking to be rich but I ran out of space on the paper.

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival

The next photo shows the only thing that I purchased at the Sakura Matsuri this year: a small dish of vanilla Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival

I briefly checked out a calligraphy show where someone did some Japanese calligraphy in ink while music played. Here’s a video I shot of that event.

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival

I saw the Yosakoi Dance Project demonstrate their high-energy style of dance. I took a couple of decent shots of the group in action.

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival

I also shot this video of the group in action.

At one point the leader of the dance troupe took his young daughter on stage where they briefly chatted. She looked so adorable in her little kimono.

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival

I continued shooting more pictures of the festival.

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival

I shot this video of Japanese singer-songwriter Rie Tamuro, who played her acoustic guitar and sang. She played a mellow folk style of music. I thought she was quite talented.

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival

The last video I shot was of the Japanese alternative rock band LUST. The group’s music reminded me of what I used to hear from the Seattle grunge rock scene of the 1990s.

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival

The last photo I shot at the festival featured a group of people doing the traditional Japanese bow, which was appropriate since in Japan people bow to each other when they are arriving and leaving.

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival

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I was at a local Five Below store not too long ago. I saw plenty of stuff featuring bunnies for Easter but I also found something else that I wouldn’t expect: A plethora of dinosaur stuff. That’s right, I saw a bunch of dinosaurs arrive just in time for Easter next month.

I found a bubble making triceratop along with a unicorn (which is the only non-dinosaur product I shot on this trip).

Five Below, March 4, 2019

There’s a dinosaur that shoots balls.

Five Below, March 4, 2019

And a bunch of small dinosaur figurines.

Five Below, March 4, 2019

There are party supplies based on the recent Jurassic World movie.

Five Below, March 4, 2019

And a couple of t-shirts featuring Jurassic Park and Reptar.

Five Below, March 4, 2019

Finally here is a giant plastic Jurassic World Easter egg full of dinosaur stuff.

Five Below, March 4, 2019

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I celebrated the fact that I had been employed at a day job for the past month by doing something fun. A few days earlier the weather was getting warmer and the temperature had even reached 60 degrees on some days. Sadly the sudden burst of warm weather was only temporary and it was bitter cold outside the day I went to DC. But I was determined to have fun since it had been a long time since I had done something totally fun and I wasn’t going to let something like weather stop me.

So I took the Metro bus to the nearest Metro station and traveled to the Chinatown area of Washington, DC. When I arrived in Chinatown I saw some people taking photos of each other by the Friendship Archway. (I was there doing the Lunar New Year period where most Asians were ushering in the Year of the Pig. The annual Chinese New Year’s parade was scheduled for the following day but I didn’t go because I felt that walking around the streets of Chinatown in very cold weather for one day was enough for me. If I hadn’t gone to Chinatown the day before, I would have considered going to that parade since it has been at least 10 years since I made my one and only attendance at that parade.)

I walked around a few places that I thought about eating lunch at. I read that many of these places had discount rates only to find out that these discounts are only available from Monday-Friday. I wasn’t into paying an extravagant price for a lunch so I ended up eating at the Corner Bakery where I had a bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich at an affordable price. After lunch I walked over to It’s Sugar where I saw these items, starting with a long gummy rattlesnake.

The biggest surprise I found in that store was the numerous consumer products based on the late Bob Ross, whose Joy of Painting show I used to watch on PBS from time to time. I saw socks, mints, and even energy drinks dedicated to the guy who made “happy little trees” his catchphrase.

I bought some candy at It’s Sugar, which I ate after I returned home. I eventually made it to the place that served as the main reason why I wanted to go to Chinatown on that day. The German-American Heritage Museum had a special exhibit on German-made toys which started prior to Christmas and I thought it sounded potentially interesting. The only thing is that even though the museum is open from Monday-Friday, it is only open on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month (while it is completely closed on Sundays). When I was still underemployed I was struggling too much financially to even consider making the trip during the weekday. Now that I’m working again I find that I can only go to this museum on the weekends but I have to go only on the Saturday when it is actually opened. (Life is full of ironies at times. LOL!) The exhibit is scheduled to close at the end of next month, which was why I made an effort to get to that museum before it was too late.

The museum admission was $10, which wasn’t so bad. (There are other museums, such as the Newseum and the Spy Museum that charges around $20 per person.) The museum is small and I found the special exhibition to be smaller than I expected. But what they had on display was pretty good. They gave out this pamphlet that explained the history of German toys, how they were made, how they reflected the culture of the times in which they were made, the notable German toy companies, and how some of these toys were also popular in the U.S.

The one thing I learned from that pamphlet is that German toys were originally homemade until the Industrial Revolution, when they were mass-produced in factories. The rise in the toy industry also coincided with worker exploitation, especially among women and children who were employed making these toys. The workers were paid less, which was how toys became cheaper to buy and why many German imported toys were so cheap in the U.S. during the late-19th century to early-20th century. (It’s no different from today where toys and many other consumer products are made in China, Vietnam, and so many other Third World countries so that cheap goods would flood the U.S. while corporate executives keep the lion’s share of the profits.)

There were plenty of dolls made mainly because they were supposed to prepare young girls for the day when they will become mothers themselves. The museum had dolls, tea party sets, and doll furniture that were on display (along with the occasional nutcracker).

There were also plenty of toy soldiers, which were made because they were supposed to prepare young boys for the day when they will join the military and possibly fight on behalf of Germany.

There were also toys based on the American Wild West featuring cowboys and Indians (who are now referred as Native Americans). It was kind of wild seeing German-made toys reflecting U.S. history like that and it showed that the German toy industry were definitely eying the foreign markets.

Seeing these metal toys brought back memories of seeing similar toy soldiers dressed like British soldiers displayed on a shelf that my ex-husband’s stepfather had owned since his childhood. These toy soldiers were very tiny, made from metal, and they looked very exquisite. My ex-husband’s mother died in 2010, his stepfather passed away last year, and I am no longer on speaking terms with my ex so I have no idea whatever became of those toy soldiers or who owns them now.

There were plenty of Steiff stuffed animals on display. I used to see them on sale at FAO Schwarz in New York City and I remember they were pretty expensive. I’ve also seen them in other high-end stores also being sold at high prices. (Which probably explains why my parents never gave me a Steiff toy when I was a child. LOL!) They definitely look cute and cuddly.

The museum had a hands-on area where people of all ages could touch and play with some of these toys. The only thing I touched was this children’s book written by Dr. Heinrich Hoffmann called Der Struwwelpeter. I briefly thumbed through it and took a couple of pictures.

There were a few other odds and ends at that exhibit, including some toy cars and chickens, a couple of trays, and a snowglobe.

Like I wrote earlier, the museum was relatively small so I was able to finish with viewing the exhibit in an hour. Afterwards I decided to go back home. On my way back to the Metro station I stopped at Walgreens because I wanted to pick up some cold medicine. (I had been struggling with a cold at the same time as trying to learn the ropes of my new day job. Yeah, it sucked big time but what else could I do?) I saw that this particular Walgreens location had an area that sold packaged sushi, just like its Union Station location. In fact, this Walgreens sold a variety of packaged food ranging from sandwiches to salads that I’ve never seen in any of the suburban Walgreens stores in the DC area. There were a couple of sushi places in Chinatown that I attempted to eat lunch at until I saw the menus posted outside and found that the bargain meals were only from Monday-Friday and I ended up eating at the Corner Bakery instead. So, in order to compensate for not eating sushi for lunch, I picked up one of the sushi packs from Walgreens, took it home with me, and ate it for dinner. (I ate a a salmon and avocado roll.) I found it to be pretty tasty and it was at a reasonable price.

So somethings didn’t turn out the way I expected (such as the weather and eating lunch at the Corner Bakery instead of at a Chinese or Japanese restaurant in Chinatown) but I still had fun anyway.

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There’s a men’s clothing store in my area called Why Not Boutique. That store has some pretty unique men’s clothes. I finally got around to taking photos of some of their wares when I was walking around the mall on New Year’s Day.

Shortly after I took these photos, I decided to play around a bit with GIMP, which is an open source alternative to Adobe Photoshop. I took the heads of one of my friends and superimposed it on some of the suits currently on sale at the Why Not Boutique.

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