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Mardi Gras

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Last year I went to the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore because it has free admission on Martin Luther King Day. (The regular admission price is $15.95 for adults under 60 and $13.95 for people age 60 and up.) I had a blast even though I arrived too late in the day to get a free slice of birthday cake that the museum usually serves for that occasion. This year I decided to do it again except I made every effort to wake up early and get out of the door so I could arrive by noon (when the birthday cake would be served).

So I managed to arrive earlier than last year while braving the cold weather (the temperature was in the low 20’s that day). I took the light rail into the city then transferred to the Charm City Circulator bus. I managed to arrive shortly before noon. The main disadvantage is that the museum was way more crowded than I remembered last year when I arrived later in the afternoon. But I still tried to make the best of my visit since it was free admission day.

One of the buildings had a new exhibition which featured this giant dragon sculpture that was made entirely from balloons.

There were a few wall hangings that were literally displayed on the ceiling of that building.

I managed to arrive on the third floor of the building where the birthday cake was being served along with a few other activities as well. There was an opportunity to create buttons, which I didn’t get to do because the museum had run out of button making supplies by the time I arrived. But I managed to get a photo of a couple who were able to make buttons.

The entertainment featured a children’s gospel choir known as the Cardinal Shehan School Choir, who came from one of the local Catholic schools in Baltimore. This group has been featured on Good Morning America after one of their videos went viral. After hearing them, I understood why because this choir was so phenomenal, especially since the singers were all children.

In fact, I shot this video of them doing their final number called “Rise Up” that I think you will definitely enjoy.

While the choir was performing I got a chance to look at the birthday cakes that were served to the general public on a first-come, first-served basis. The cakes were available in a variety of flavors.

The museum also gave out a variety of hot beverages (including hot chocolate and a few different flavors of tea). The next photo shows my cup of hot chocolate and the slice of cake that I chose.

This next photo should give you an idea as to how crowded this room got with people making buttons and consuming cake and hot drinks.

I stepped out of the balcony on that third floor where I got a great view of both the museum’s main building and Federal Hill.

Once I finished eating my cake and the choir finished performing its set, I left that large and crowded room and explored the rest of the museum where I took these pictures.

The museum had this special exhibit called The Great Mystery Show, which featured art related to science and mysticism. This NASA astronaut sculpture in the next photo had me thinking about how my ex-husband would’ve loved this since he works for NASA and he told me that he once wanted to become an astronaut only to find out that his eyesight would’ve been considered too poor for such a position. (He managed to study computer programming so he found another way of working for NASA even if he never became an astronaut.)

The statue in the next two photos intrigued me because it was made mostly from sea shells.

The most memorable part of the museum was seeing this sculpture of Edgar Allan Poe that was made entirely from marshmallow Peeps.

The base of the Poe sculpture was flanked by a black cat and a raven, who were both also made from marshmallow Peeps. (Those two were references to two of Poe’s famous works—The Black Cat and The Raven.)

Near the Poe sculpture was this heart that was made from glass, which was a reference to another famous Poe piece known as The Tell-Tale Heart.

The most surreal part of the museum was seeing a TV monitor that had non-stop showings of Martin Luther King giving his famous “I Have a Dream” speech while the monitor was flanked by flowers, tarot cards, two gold masks, and an Ouija board.

I was amazed by this life-sized sculpture of what looked like the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz.

I found this interesting recipe posted on the museum wall that I would like to try at some point in the future.


I really liked this colorful and funky cat illustration.

This dress looked like it was made from glass with all of the glass beads.

I couldn’t resist taking a picture of this inspirational quote from Leonardo da Vinci regarding science and art.

I really liked this next photo, which is a painting of Albert Einstein.

I was also amazed by what this one artist did with small tins (such as a sardine tin and a tin box that was about the size of a pack of Altoids). This person created scenes with paper cutouts. The tiny details were astounding.

I made only one purchase at that museum. I found this crochet pattern book for $5 that was about creating tiny equipment, furniture, and buildings that were small enough for LEGO Minifigs, tiny dolls, and other types of tiny toys. It looked really interesting.

Even though I had that slice of cake, it was no substitute for lunch and I was starting to feel hungry as I was touring the museum. I thought about eating in the museum’s cafe until I saw that it was very crowded. I began to become tired of the throngs of people who were crowding in the museum because they were also taking advantage of the free admission. I decided to leave the museum and walk along the Inner Harbor while taking some photos. This next photo shows a building in the middle that’s under construction complete with a construction crane.

The weather had been mostly non-stop freezing since Christmas with an exception of a couple of days when the temperature reached the low 50’s just a couple of days before MLK Day. Unfortunately that respite was short-lived and the area was plunged into yet another deep freeze. The next few pictures clearly show the effects of the below-freezing temperatures had on the water itself where you can clearly see ice that had been forming.

Some of the litter thrown into the Inner Harbor had been encased in ice.

A pair of ducks were swimming in the non-icy portions of the water.

These stone installations resembled three Adirondack chairs.

The next photo shows the statue of William Donald Schaefer, who served as the mayor of Baltimore and governor of Maryland.

I walked by Harborplace where I visited It’s Sugar.

 

I bought a few things in that store, including a special pack of Skittles that  was known as “Sweet Heat” because spices were added to the candy. I tried them and I found the spicy taste to be interesting but, to be honest, I prefer regular Skittles.

I bought a small box of this treat called Marshmallow Madness. The idea is based on the Lucky Charms cereal except that the cereal part has been excluded so all you get is just small colored marshmallows in a variety of shapes. I’ve seen Marshmallow Madness be available in cereal-sized boxes. On this trip I saw that there were smaller box versions of Marshmallow Madness so I decided to buy it to see what it tasted like.

My verdict is that while the marshmallows are tasty, I found myself missing the cereal part. (I used to frequently eat Lucky Charms cereal as a child. Even though I rarely eat presweetened cereal these days, I still found myself lamenting the lack of cereal in Marshmallow Madness. I guess old habits die hard. LOL!)

I purchased a pack of orange-flavored Donald Trump-themed gummy candy known as Make America Sweet Again mainly because the package design was such a hoot. I took a bunch of detailed photographs of this product so you’ll get the idea.

I haven’t opened that candy as of this writing. I have an idea of doing something creative with this candy so I don’t want to just eat it right now, especially since there are only two It’s Sugar locations in the entire Baltimore-Washington, DC area (one at Harborplace and the other in the Chinatown area of DC) and I don’t really live close to either location so I can’t shop there too often.

I took a couple of photos of Harborplace, which showed it becoming more and more of a dead mall. This was shot on Martin Luther King Day when a lot of people are off from school and work. I remember Harborplace in better days when it used to draw a huge crowd of shoppers. I remember the days when I made special trips to this place so I could spend the day there. Despite the presence of It’s Sugar, H&M, and Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium, this pavilion is still pretty much empty. I didn’t even bother with visiting the other pavilion because I know it’s the same situation from previous visits. Too bad, so sad.

The sign announcing a “New Tradition” at Harborplace that “Begins Fall 2016” had me laughing. Or maybe having a mostly empty mall is Harborplace’s idea of a “new tradition.” LOL!

The only area of Harborplace where I saw quite a few people was at the temporary ice skating rink that was set outside of one of the pavilions.

There weren’t really a lot of affordable place to eat lunch at. (I still remember the old days when that pavilion I had just visited used to have an entire floor dedicated to a food court that had all kinds of foods ranging from pizza to sushi to Chinese to Subway subs.) I decided to go to the Così that’s located across the street from the Baltimore Convention Center for a late lunch. Except when I arrived just 15 minutes before 3 p.m. I saw a notice on the door saying that Così would be closing early at 3 p.m. for MLK Day. I basically got my lunch to go and walked around the area looking for an appropriate place to eat lunch. Unfortunately it was way too cold to eat anywhere outside. I ultimately walked to the Hilton Baltimore where I sat down in one of the cushions in the lobby and quietly consumed my TBM (tomato, basil, and mozzarella) sandwich with a bag of potato chips and a Diet Coke. That hotel was very empty that day where the staffers outnumbered everyone else.

After I finished lunch, I decided that it was time to head back to the light rail station and get out of the city. I walked past Orioles Park at Camden Yards and took this one last photo. The place definitely looked pretty sad and deserted in the off-season. Baseball season will begin in a few months so this area will have a lot of Baltimore Oriole fans entering through those gates. (It also reminded me of the fact that the last time I attended a game there was back in 2007. It was the year before my hip replacement and it was also when I was still married because I used to accompany my husband to those games. I don’t know when I’ll ever attend another game there in person.)

Santa Claus Baby New Year

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

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

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

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

I walked around the streets of Annapolis taking a bunch of photos not too long ago.

Annapolis really does Christmas really well with its mix of traditional decorations (such as garlands of pine needles) with modern lights.

The highlight was when I went to the Holiday Art Shop, which is a pop-up shop that is sponsored by the Annapolis Arts Alliance.

I came across some fused glass jewelry that I thought looked like something that a friend of mine does in her fused glass work. It turns out to be my friend’s fused glass work. (By the way, you should check out her stuff at her Profusions of Glass Facebook page.)

I purchased a couple of bars of soap from Soap-A-Saurus. One is for me and the other will be a Christmas present for my mother. Both bars are Frankenscence Myrrh scented, which is pretty appropriate for Christmas.

There were Christmas decorations everywhere on the streets of Annapolis.

The next photo shows the historic St. Anne Episcopal Church.

St. Anne is starting to cater to the increasingly Latino population in the state of Maryland. The sign in the next photo translates as “Daily Vespers Prayer. In Spanish. Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.”

The rest of the photos show a mix of historical markers and festive Christmas decorations everywhere in the historic district of Annapolis.

Like I wrote in my previous post, I decided to go to Baltimore on November 25 because I wanted to check out the Christkindlesmarkt at the Zion Lutheran Church. But I got stuck in horrible northbound traffic then I waited a long time for both the light rail and the Metro subway. By the time I arrived at the church I only had 45 minutes left until the event ended for the day. (They would continue it on the next day but that day was Sunday and I wasn’t able to make it at all due to commitments I had with my own church that took up most of the day.) I eventually made it to the church, where I saw this statue outside of the church that’s dedicated to all of the Baltimore City firefighters both past and future.

Outside of the church were these trees that produced wonderful red colored autumn leaves.

Despite finally making it to the event so late in day before closing, there were still plenty of things to see and do.

There were a lot of stuff I would’ve loved to buy but I couldn’t due to tight finances. I purchased two German-imported Santa Claus chocolates that were more patterned after the original bishop, Saint Nicholas, than after the fat jolly man who hangs around with elves and reindeer. I kept one for myself and I plan on giving the other one to my mother for Christmas.

I also purchased a pack of Haribo gummy candies that were all cherry flavored and they were even shaped like cherries.

I was bummed that I arrived at the Christkindlesmarkt event so late in the day. It was still daylight outside so I decided to just take the Charm City Circulator bus to the Inner Harbor where I checked out the Christmas Village in Baltimore and the Inner Harbor itself.

One Saturday I decided to attend a networking event that was held in the Roland Park section of Baltimore. Roland Park is one area of Baltimore I had never set foot in before but I had long heard about it. My mother once worked as the office manager of a now-defunct life insurance company and she had a coworker who was a divorced secretary and a single parent of a girl who was born the same year that I was.

The coworker eventually got remarried to a doctor with a thriving practice and they settled in a row house that was located on the edge of Roland Park. By most standards they would be considered upper middle class. But by Roland Park standards, they were “working class” or “poor.” The coworker’s daughter attended the exclusive Roland Park Country School (which is among the ritziest private schools in that area) but I remember hearing about how the coworker told my mother that her daughter used to envy her classmates who vacationed in Europe each summer while she had to settle with spending a week in Ocean City with her family because they weren’t as wealthy as the other Roland Park Country School parents.

My mother used to tell me stories about that coworker when I was growing up so I heard a lot about Roland Park. I only recall meeting that coworker’s daughter a couple of times, mainly at company picnics where the employees could bring their families. I think we may have said “Hi” then walked away from each other. That was the extent of our interaction together. She was growing up in Roland Park attending an exclusive private school while I was growing up outside of the city in Glen Burnie (which is way more downscale than Roland Park) attending less-exclusive public schools so we really had nothing in common beyond the fact that we were white girls who were born in the same year and our mothers worked for the same life insurance company.

I went for many years without even thinking about Roland Park until I found out about this networking event. I’m still looking for a new day job and I finally had a reason to actually travel to Roland Park to see what that area is about. I decided to arrive in Roland Park before the networking event began so I could at least get a glimpse of the neighborhood.

Roland Park has an interesting history as being a planned suburban-style community that was still located inside of the city limits. Parts of the area were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., the son of famed architect Frederick Law Ohmsted, who has gained posthumous fame in recent years thanks to Erik Larson’s bestselling book The Devil in the White City. Many of the homes in Roland Park are standalone houses, which contrasts with the rowhouses and apartment buildings that predominate the rest of the city. The homes are also where the wealthiest elites of Baltimore live, which you can tell by these pictures I shot.

The one feature of Roland Park is that there is a network of nature trails that are open to the general public. I found this self-guided walking tour on the Baltimore City Paper website that shows the highlights of these nature trails. These nature trails were marked with signs that had bucolic names like Squirrel Path and Laurel Path.

I only had enough time to walk through a small portion of the nature trail system but it was a lovely walk. I walked through the nature trails during the fall so I was treated to a constant array of fall foliage in a variety of brown, green, red, and yellow. As you can see in the photos, it was a cloudy day and it drizzled a few times while I was driving to Roland Park. Luckily for me the rain stopped by the time I reached the nature trails. The gloomy day still didn’t detract from the lovely fall foliage that I saw everywhere. There were times when I found it hard to believe that I was still in the inner city as I was walking on these trails.

At one point I was able to see some television antennas over the horizon marking the location of Television Hill, where all of the local Baltimore television stations broadcast from.

The networking event was held at a community center, which is located inside of a church.

The church has a really nice looking steeple that has an interesting stained glass design at the base.

Here’s a closeup of the stained glass base of the steeple.

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.

Ramadan

I recently added a new experience on my resume and LinkedIn profile because I think it’s the most interesting temp job I’ve ever done. I was an extra at a taping of an upcoming television special that will air on public television throughout the United States later this year.

I unexpectedly got this gig when I was attending a networking event that was held at the state-run Maryland Workforce Exchange. I was searching for a new day job to pay the bills so I decided to go to this networking event to see if my fortunes would change. One of the participants there was currently doing a temporary gig for Central Casting where she was tasked with getting people to go to the taping. (She’s currently looking for something more permanent herself.) I spoke with her and we hit it off. I added my name to the list of people willing to attend the taping.

A few days later I got a few emails instructing me where to go, what time I was supposed to show up, and where I can find free parking. The emails also said that the dress code was limited to business and business casual. (In other words, no t-shirts or sweatshirts with slogans, sports teams logos, or a photo of the latest pop music sensation.)

I wasn’t sure what to expect other than it would be a talk on financial planning. Since my finances are currently in the toilet (I had incurred some debts in the wake of my unexpected divorce and I’ve been having trouble with finding a steady day job so I can pay those debts down) I thought that it would be one of those talks that wouldn’t be relevant in my current situation. (In fact, I probably would not have gone if it hadn’t been a paying gig.) The first night I went I brought my latest knitting project with me thinking that I would at least get that project done while sitting through the talk. I ended up not even touching that knitting until during one of the 10-minute breaks that took place halfway through the taping. That’s because the talk was way more interesting than I expected. The second night I left my knitting at home.

The first night as I was walking into the auditorium prior to the taping I overheard a woman tell someone else that she has seen the speaker on television many times in the past. She said that he is someone she always listens to regarding planning for the future.

The TV special featured financial expert Ric Edelman giving a presentation on how technological innovations and economic changes will affect financial planning for the future. He said that the old days where people went to school, got their job working for just one company for 30-50 years, retired, then died anywhere between 65-75 are over.

He mentioned that business will become less like the New York model (where people worked for the same company with the same employees and bosses for a number of years until retirement) and be more like the Hollywood movie studio model (where people gather together to work on one project until that project is done and the people move on to other jobs/projects in other places with new coworkers). He cited the gig economy as one example of that Hollywood-like trend.

He gave numerous examples of technological innovations that will become more prevalent in the future, such as robots taking over more of the jobs that people currently do, the rise of crypto-currency like Bitcoin, finding cures for Alzheimer’s and certain types of cancers, and other similar breakthroughs that will result in people living longer and seeing certain types of work going the way of the horse and buggy industry (which was a major employer in the U.S. until cars came along). All this will affect people’s financial planning.

His talk reminded me of the film Future Shock, which I had to sit through twice (once in the 7th grade and once in the 12th grade) when I was in school. The big difference is that the movie had a more negative tone about the changing times and the technology that went on at that time (I still remember the scene where narrator Orson Welles spoke disdainfully about people being able to get artificial joints in the future—as someone with a hip replacement, I’m very grateful for that technological breakthrough because I would’ve eventually ended up in a wheelchair without it). In contrast, Ric Edelman puts a more positive spin on the technological innovations that are either here now or will be coming within the next few years. (I’ll admit that some of my pacifist friends would have been horrified to hear him give a positive spin on the increasing use of drone warfare. Edelman talked about how drones can eliminate having to use flesh-and-blood soldiers in battles so it would save them from exposing them to physical and mental trauma. That is the positive side of drone warfare. What he didn’t say is what happens to the people who are targeted by these drones—many of whom include children and innocent civilians who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.)

He spoke so positively about the technological changes in the future that I kept on thinking about this 1990’s hit song “The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades.”

Future Shock frequently shows up on YouTube only to have it get taken down. As of this writing, the film is back online right here. (In case this new link gets taken down, you can read Fast Company’s article on what Future Shock got right and wrong.) Watching a 1972 film predicting the future is interesting in terms of what the film got right and what it got wrong (despite the film’s overall negative tone). I would love to see the video featuring Ric Edelman’s talk about the future 10 or 20 years from now in order to learn what he got right and wrong, but I digress.

He gave this presentation as a way of promoting his latest book, The Truth About Your Future, which is also currently a New York Times bestseller.

I took pictures during my two nights I was working as an extra. The event took place at Montgomery College Takoma Park/Silver Spring campus.

I had toyed with arriving at the campus about an hour or two before the taping on the second night so I could explore the campus and grab an early dinner someplace nearby. I had to scuttle that plan when it rained on the second night. The taping took place both nights at the Cultural Arts Center building.

The next shot shows this interesting glass and steel sculpture that hung from the ceiling of the building inside.

The procedures for working as an extra were the same both nights. We were instructed to arrive at the building by 6:30 p.m. (I had to eat an earlier dinner than usual both days so I wouldn’t starve through the taping. It was a good thing I did that because the auditorium prohibited food and drinks.) The first thing we had to do was go to one of the tables where a representative from Central Casting was seated and do a check in.

We were given this form where the only thing we had to fill out was our name, address, phone number, Social Security number. We also had to sign it at the bottom. Central Casting filled out everything else.

Once we checked in we basically hung around in the lobby where people chatted among each other or went to use the restrooms.

Around 7 p.m. we lined up outside the auditorium doors and filed into the auditorium.

I took a couple pictures of some of the camera operators who were filming the presentation.

The director took to the stage first where he had us practice clapping and cheering. He instructed us to turn off our cell phones (I ended up putting my phone on vibrate). We were to look in Ric’s direction at all times while enthusiastically clapping at the proper time. We could also utter exclamations like “wow!”, “oooh!”, “aaaah!”, “whoah!”, and so on.

Once the director left the stage Ric Edelman appeared where he gave his presentation. He talked nonstop for the first 45 minutes. After he said “When we come back…” we clapped and cheered as he left the stage. The director came out on stage announcing that there was a two-minute break while Edelman drank some water backstage. We were allowed to stand up and stretch but we couldn’t leave the auditorium.

Ric Edelman returned to the stage while we applauded. He continued his presentation for another half-an-hour or 45 minutes. When he said “When we come back…” we clapped and cheered as he left the stage. The director came back on stage and announced a 10-minute break where we could go to the restroom if we needed to do so. During that time the director looked for 10 people who were willing to ask questions. The questioners lined up towards the back.

When the 10-minute break ended, Ric Edelman returned to the stage where he did the Q & A segment with the 10 volunteers. Once he finished answering all of the questions, the taping ended for the night.

The last picture shows Ric Edelman giving his talk. Unfortunately I was seated in the back of the auditorium on both nights so I wasn’t able to get a decent shot of him.

As we left the auditorium we had to turn in our signed form to the nearest Central Casting representative before we could leave the building and go home. I didn’t leave the event until it was around 9:30 p.m.

Ric Edelman gave the same presentation both nights. The main difference were the people who asked questions at the end. (Overall a total of 20 people got a chance to ask Ric Edelman a question while one of the cameras focused on the questioner so that person got a brief bit of fame. Of course, I don’t know how many of those questioners will actually make the final cut and actually end up being aired on television.) The auditorium was packed the first night with every single seat taken. On the second night I noticed that fewer people had showed up. (I guess some of the participants couldn’t show up both nights.) The director focused on filling up the seats closest to the stage. I ended up in the back just like the night before. I noticed that there were empty seats in rows that were further back than where I sat on the second night.

The biggest challenge on the second night was sitting through the same presentation again while pretending that I was hearing it for the first time. It wasn’t too bad hearing it for the second time because it was such an engaging presentation and Ric Edelman is such a dynamic speaker. Given my current financial situation, I would’ve been willing to sit through the same presentation every night for the next six months.

The show is tentatively scheduled to air on PBS in December during Pledge Week. (Which was why Ric Edelman interrupted his presentation twice—just so the local PBS stations can jump in with their own broadcasts begging people to make a generous donation so the stations can keep operating another year.) All in all I found the whole experience fascinating and I really enjoyed the presentation that Ric Edelman gave (even if I had to sit through it twice over a two-night period). I learned a lot from the presentation (especially regarding future technological advances) and, what’s more, I got paid $50 per night. So I earned $100 that week. Sweet!

I attended this year’s Greenbelt Green Man Festival. On the first day (May 13) I arrived shortly before the festival closed down for the day mainly because I had spent the bulk of the day walking the Gateway Arts Open Studio Tour. I still managed to take a few photos.

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

The following day was more sunny and it was a warm pleasant day. Plus it was Mother’s Day on top of it. I spent the bulk of my day at the festival where I took these photos.

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

Makerspace 125 had its giant box full of Legos for any child to play with.

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

While the outdoor festival was winding down, the festival moved indoors to the New Deal Cafe. The band Kiva closed the 2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival with their show.

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

I only purchased one thing for myself that weekend: a bar of honey rose-scented goat milk soap that was made by Natural Image Botanicals.

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

I recently attended the Gateway Arts Open Studio Tour that went up Route 1 from Mount Rainier all the way up to Hyattsville. The last few times I went on this tour I didn’t go beyond Mount Rainier because I didn’t arrive until late in the day. This time I made every effort to arrive at the official noon starting time but I still didn’t go beyond Mount Rainier. It’s because there were so many things to see in Mount Rainier. (LOL!)

I began my tour at Marsha Stein’s art studio. Here are a few outside shots outside her studio.

Gateway Arts Open Studio Tour

Gateway Arts Open Studio Tour

Marsha’s art studio also doubles as her apartment. I checked out her paintings for a few minutes before I moved on. While I was on my way to my next destination I took a picture of some of the decorative relief trim that one can find in downtown Mount Rainier.

Nice Stonework

Next I went to the Gateway Media Arts Lab, a recently opened place that has five creative communications entrepreneurs who do things like graphic design, videos, and storytelling.

Gateway Media Arts Lab

Gateway Media Arts Lab

I moved on to ReCreative Spaces where I took the next few photographs.

ReCreative Spaces

ReCreative Spaces

ReCreative Spaces

ReCreative Spaces

While I was looking at the official map I saw that there was a home located a few blocks away where Joe Brewer has his own personal arcade in the basement. Here’s a couple of exterior shots of his home, which is typical of the type of home one can find in Mount Rainier.

Brewer's Arcade

Only this sign gave away that there is more to this home than meets the eye.

Brewer's Arcade

Joe Brewer frequently purchases and fixes up vintage pinball and arcade video games. Going into the basement is such a throwback to my high school and college years when I used to spend my spare time and a lot of quarters playing these machines.

Brewer's Arcade

Brewer's Arcade

Brewer's Arcade

Brewer's Arcade

Brewer's Arcade

Brewer's Arcade

He offered free beverages, which included Crystal Pepsi. I wrote about seeing that beverage in a store late last year and I wrote about my less-than-fond memories of the one time I tried drinking it in the 1990’s. I tried Crystal Pepsi again at Joe’s home and I have to admit that it tastes way better than the last time I tried it. But I still prefer the darker version of Pepsi over Crystal Pepsi.

Brewer's Arcade

Here’s some charming string art that I found in the bathroom that includes a map of the U.S. and a famous quote by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Brewer's Arcade

I’ll admit that I spent the largest chunk of my time playing those video games and pinball machines. (The fact that they were all on free play made it tempting for me to stay a long while. LOL!) I got back in my car and drove to Joe Hicks Ceramics, which is a studio that’s operated in the basement of this home.

Joe Hicks

Joe Hicks had a lot of really nice ceramics on sale.

Joe Hicks

Joe Hicks

Joe Hicks

I went to the nearby Washington Glass School where I found a lot of interesting artwork that were all made from glass.

Washington Glass School

Washington Glass School

Washington Glass School

Washington Glass School

Washington Glass School

Washington Glass School

By that point the official end of the Open Studio Tour was soon approaching so I went to the Otis Street Arts Project, which is located next door to the Washington Glass School.

Otis Street Arts Project

Otis Street Arts Project

Otis Street Arts Project

Otis Street Arts Project

Otis Street Arts Project

Otis Street Arts Project

Otis Street Arts Project

Otis Street Arts Project

Otis Street Arts Project

Otis Street Arts Project

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