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Not too long ago I took a crochet workshop at The Space, a makerspace that’s located in Beltway Plaza Mall in Greenbelt, Maryland. It was a multi-week series that met on a couple of Sunday afternoons last month. We were all using this pattern called Cute Chick Amigurumi that one can download and print from the Tillysome site for free. Here’s my photo of a group of people working on their own crochet.

Here’s my work in progress. I used some of the pastel mint green yarn that was leftover from my Pink Flamingo Mermaid doll project.

Here is my completed amigurumi chick.

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I had a busy summer where I was juggling two part-time jobs while trying to keep up with my creative side during whatever spare time I had. I decided to take part in the Internet-wide collaboration with the YouTube channel Dollightful where I took a doll I purchased from a dollar store and customized her into a Pink Flamingo Mermaid. I spent the last week before the deadline shooting photos of this doll against various backdrops in order to find the one that I could submit to the Dollightful video.

I decided to do some final shoots of the doll in Baltimore. Like I wrote in an earlier post, I decided to travel to Baltimore after President Donald Trump issued a series of insulting tweets denouncing Baltimore as “this very dangerous and filthy place” (among other insults). I found out that there is a beach-like place located near Fells Point called The Sandlot, which I felt would be the perfect location to shoot photos of my mermaid doll.

But then I discovered that BronyCon, the convention devoted to the hit cartoon show My Little Pony, was the same weekend. I previously attended BronyCon in 2013, 2014, and 2015 but I stopped attending for a few years due to increasingly tight finances. I wasn’t sure about squeezing BronyCon between my other project whose deadline was looming.

I thought about skipping BronyCon again this year until I found out that this was going to be the last BronyCon ever. One of the reasons given was that this year is the final season of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and the convention organizers wanted to end BronyCon on a high note.

So I had to choose whether to go to the last BronyCon or take those mermaid doll photos at The Sandlot. I decided on a third option: I would try to do both.

I was only able to attend BronyCon on Saturday (the second day) due to scheduling conflicts. In fact, Saturday was the only day I was able to go to Baltimore, which was why I had to compress everything on my visit. I left early in the morning in order to have time to fully experience the last BronyCon.

I had the idea of seeing if there were any kind of tropical displays that I could use as a backdrop for my mermaid doll photo. I never found a suitable display for my mermaid doll but I took a bunch of other photos while I was at BronyCon. Here is one of the BronyCon banners that were on display outside of the Baltimore Convention Center for the last time ever.

BronyCon 2019

Like I wrote earlier, I hadn’t gone to BronyCon in four years. The one big change I noticed is that people can now display on their badges their preferred pronouns, which definitely makes this convention more open and accepting of transgender people and people who are currently struggling with their own gender identity.

BronyCon 2019

BronyCon 2019

Each badge also came with something called Color Communication Cards, which you display on your lanyard in order to let others know whether you are in the mood to socialize with others or not.

BronyCon 2019

BronyCon 2019

BronyCon 2019

I also got a program book, which looks like it had a Mission: Impossible theme. Here is the front cover.

The Last BronyCon

Here is the back cover.

The Last BronyCon

Here is the entire cover when it’s spread out.

The Last BronyCon

And, finally, here is the inside back cover, which is pretty poignant considering that it’s the last BronyCon ever.

The Last BronyCon

When I last went four years ago I stood in line for over an hour before I was able to purchase my pass. This year I was in and out in less than 20 minutes (which was reminiscent of the 2013 and 2014 BronyCons). I found this year’s BronyCon to be just as exciting as the previous ones I attended. People were mostly in high spirits but there was also a bit of sadness since it would be the last BronyCon ever. And, yes, there were plenty of people in costume as they cosplayed their favorite My Little Pony characters. I shot this short video showing the highlights of my day at BronyCon.

I also shot plenty of still photos as well, which you can see below.

BronyCon 2019

BronyCon 2019

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Like previous BronyCons I attended, the organizers had a few gender-neutral restrooms, which further indicates how open that con was to transgender people.

BronyCon 2019

BronyCon 2019

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I’ve long played the video game Dance Dance Revolution on both my Playstation 2 and Nintendo Wii. I tend to use the soft pads because they are cheap to buy and they are easy to store when not in use. (There are also metal pads but prices start at $200 compared to around $20 for a soft pad.) BronyCon was the first time I’ve ever seen a Dance Dance Revolution pad made from wood. I saw people play it and it seems to work just as well as the soft and metal pads.

BronyCon 2019

BronyCon 2019

BronyCon 2019

I’m going to pause here to share a personal memory that, on the surface, seems unrelated to BronyCon but it does. (Trust me.) When I was growing up my mother had a manual Royal typewriter that she purchased for home. She occasionally used it herself but she thought that by the time I took my first typing class I would be able to use it. Except both my middle school and high school where I took typing classes had electric typewriters only and I had a difficult time switching to a manual because I had grown used to the electric version. My parents ultimately got rid of the manual typewriter and bought a Sears electric typewriter that I used throughout my senior year of high school and all four years of college.

So I go to BronyCon and I walked in this room where there are manual typewriters available for anyone to use. What’s more, I saw plenty of people actually typing of them. I thought it was kind of amusing since I had initially learned to type on a typewriter long before the people in this next photo were even born. (LOL!)

BronyCon 2019

BronyCon 2019

That same room had drawing paper and drawing supplies where people could create their own art. I did this quick ink drawing sketch featuring a circle of hands while I was resting from all that walking around.

BronyCon 2019

Other people tried their hand at drawing as well.

BronyCon 2019

It was the last time I would see official signs referring to the BronyCon venue as the “Baltimare Convention Center.”

BronyCon 2019

BronyCon 2019

BronyCon 2019

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BronyCon 2019

I started to notice more people cosplaying as Marvel superheroes at this BronyCon compared to the previous ones, where the majority of cosplayers stuck only with My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

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Someone known as the Sweetie Bot Project created a couple of really cool looking pony robots.

BronyCon 2019

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There was an impromptu memorial that was dedicated to BronyCon’s imminent demise after the last day on Sunday, August 4, 2019.

BronyCon 2019

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I attended a workshop and a panel during my time at the last BronyCon. The workshop I attended was on voice acting where I learned one new thing about My Little Pony: All of the voice acting was done at this studio located in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada and the majority of the voice actors in that series were Canadians.

I attended a panel which featured Lauren Faust, who was the original creator of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

 

BronyCon 2019

BronyCon 2019

She spoke about her experiences with working on that series and I found it to be quite fascinating. Fortunately there is a YouTube video of her entire presentation that is definitely worth checking out.

Parked outside of the Baltimore Convention Center was this car that had the design and color scheme of Rainbow Dash (a pegasus pony who is one of the main character on the show).

BronyCon 2019

BronyCon 2019

BronyCon 2019

BronyCon 2019

BronyCon 2019

I purchased some swag but it wasn’t as much as previous BronyCons because I’m still trying to watch my finances. Everything I purchased this time were ones that were sold to raise money for charity. I made a donation to get this button that benefitted a charity known as Extra Life.

BronyCon 2019

I made a donation in order to get two other items whose proceeds were being raised to benefit organizations that are fighting cancer. Here is the button I received.

BronyCon 2019

I also got a 2020 wall calendar, where each month features a mashup of My Little Pony characters with various Japanese anime series.

BronyCon 2019

BronyCon 2019

BronyCon 2019

BronyCon 2019

BronyCon 2019

I purchased one non-charitable item at BronyCon. It was a My Little Pony microfiber cloth that I purchased for $5. I bought it because I noticed that the screen on my smartphone was starting to look very smeary and I just wanted to clean it up a bit. That cloth did the job on my smartphone.

BronyCon 2019

That’s it for the last BronyCon. I had just as good of a time at this one as I did at the previous ones. I’m sad to see it go but I’ve seen other conventions and events I’ve attended in the past become defunct (such as Interventioncon and the Silver Spring Maker Faire) so I’ve been through this before. BronyCon may be gone for good but I’ll always have the happy memories of the times that I’ve attended.

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Now that I have a day job again, I can afford some occasional indulgences. It’s been incredibly stressful being cash-poor and not being very mobile due to money. While I’m definitely not entirely caught up in paying off my debts, I also am tired of feeling that life is slipping away from me. This feeling started in 2011 when I had the hip problems that required surgery and I couldn’t participate in a lot of things due to not being very mobile. It continued after my husband left and I had a hard time finding and keeping jobs that paid enough so I could support myself.

I just have this need to have fun again. I decided to check out the annual German Festival at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Lutherville-Timonium. I went for the first time as an adult in 2013 and I enjoyed it so much that I returned in 2014. Then I didn’t return until three years later in 2017. I found that not much had changed during my three-year absence.

This year I decided to return for the first time in two years. There were some differences this time around. For one, the festival was held in a different building on the fairgrounds than in previous years. I was also looking forward to eating Black Forest Cake like in other years only to find that the bakery that had participated in previous years was nowhere to be found. In fact, I saw fewer baked goods on sale this time around, which was a disappointment.

There were a few high points. There was this polka band who did polka versions of various pop, rock, and reggae songs. I only managed to do videos of just two of the songs. This video shows the band doing a polka version of Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child of Mine.”

The polka band closed their set with their unique polka version of Bob Marley’s “Jammin’,” which they sung as “Germans.”

I took some still pictures during my time there. I didn’t buy anything other than food (I ate a bratwurst with sauerkraut for lunch) and drinks (mainly Diet Pepsi) because I’m still trying to watch my money. I basically did some window shopping of items I couldn’t afford to buy and watched people dance. I even checked out a Punch & Judy puppet show for the first time since elementary school. (I remember that my school had a puppet troupe do a Punch & Judy show when I was in the first or second grade. I remember it was on a Saturday morning because my mother took me to that show. It was the only time I ever recall my school having a puppet show on a Saturday. The only other thing I remember about that Punch & Judy show was that the puppets hit each other with sticks.) Here are the photos I took.

German Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, July 13, 2019

German Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, July 13, 2019

German Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, July 13, 2019

German Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, July 13, 2019

German Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, July 13, 2019

German Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, July 13, 2019

German Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, July 13, 2019

German Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, July 13, 2019

German Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, July 13, 2019

German Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, July 13, 2019

German Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, July 13, 2019

German Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, July 13, 2019

German Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, July 13, 2019

German Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, July 13, 2019

German Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, July 13, 2019

German Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, July 13, 2019

German Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, July 13, 2019

German Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, July 13, 2019

German Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, July 13, 2019

German Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, July 13, 2019

German Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, July 13, 2019

German Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, July 13, 2019

German Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, July 13, 2019

German Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, July 13, 2019

German Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, July 13, 2019

German Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, July 13, 2019

German Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, July 13, 2019

German Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, July 13, 2019

German Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, July 13, 2019

German Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, July 13, 2019

German Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, July 13, 2019

Here’s a stall in the women’s restroom with—not one—but two toilets.

German Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, July 13, 2019

I arrived in the early afternoon and I thought it was filled with people even then. I left about an hour or two before sunset and I saw that a long line of people waiting to get inside of the festival was forming outside of the building.

German Festival, Lutherville-Timonium, July 13, 2019

I had opted to drive the car to the North Linthicum light rail stop then take the light rail to the Maryland State Fairgrounds. I did this mainly because I’m currently driving an old car that has 220,000 miles on it and I’m getting less enthusiastic about driving on the major highways mainly because of the crazy drivers that are out there. I’ll drive on a major highway to get somewhere if I have to but if there is a public transportation alternative, I’d rather use that and leave the driving to someone else. While I was switching stops in Baltimore in order to take the light rail back to North Linthicum, I noticed a Lime Scooter just sitting there waiting for someone to rent it. I’ve been seeing these scooters scattered all over the Washington, DC area and now I’m seeing them in Baltimore as well.

Lime Scooter

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I took part in the first-ever online collaboration with the popular YouTube channel Dollightful, which was embarking on its first-ever Internet wide collaboration of customized dolls and toys. The theme of this collaboration was tropical. The rules were pretty simple: 1) Customize only one doll or toy. 2) The customized doll/toy must be somehow tied in with the tropical theme. 3) Submit only one photo of the customized doll/toy by the deadline. 4) Do not submit a photo that has been pilfered from somewhere else online. 5) The doll/toy must be completely family-friendly with no sexual themes or complete gore.

I submitted a photo of a customized doll just a few hours before the deadline. I later learned that my submission was one of 4,000 entries. As a result, Dollightful had to resort to a format where four pictures were shown on the screen at a time, which was the only way that the video could run at a reasonable length. (The resulting video still runs nearly an hour long.) The first time I watched the video I closely looked at all the entries until I saw my doll among the numerous other customized dolls. Here are a couple of screenshots showing the exact moment when my own doll appeared on the upper right hand corner at the 41:36 mark.

Here is the video. My own entry can be found at the 41:36 mark located on the upper right hand corner of the screen. There were so many creative endeavors that were incredibly awesome in that video that you’ll probably want to watch the video in its entirety.

The rest of this blog post is devoted to the making of my own entry in this collaboration. I did a video version about how I created this doll. I was inspired to make this video after seeing Dollightful create a video about the making of that channel’s submission to the Tropical Doll Collaboration 2019. Here is my video about my own submission.

For those who can’t watch the video for whatever reason, I wrote a text version with pictures below that goes into more details about the making of this doll than the video (mainly because I didn’t want to do a video that lasts an hour or longer).

I recently have been getting more and more into getting in touch with my creative side. I’ll admit that since 2011 (when I had two falls that knocked my hip replacement out of alignment and I needed surgery to fix it and that drama was followed by my husband abruptly walking out on me just three months after my surgery and three days after Christmas) my creative output has pretty much slowed down. There was a time when I made jewelry using polymer clay and Shrinky Dinks, took Barbie dolls that I found in thrift stores and gave them makeovers into fairy dolls, and I even did the occasional painting. I had some success (such as my work being sold and receiving awards and other accolades at local art shows). But the stress from my health problems followed by my divorce and dealing with chronic periods of veering between unemployment and underemployment really had a negative impact on my creative output big time. It’s so hard being creative when you’re worrying about whether you have enough money to pay your bills.

But then I started a new job and I’ve gone through periods of being temporarily laid off only to get re-hired once there was more work. This summer has gotten really crazy for me for reasons that I can’t get go into too much detail mainly because it will make this post extremely long. There were times when I’ve gotten stressed out. The only two things that have kept me going through this crazy summer is 1) I really liked the overall goal of the work that I was doing even if the work itself can get a bit tedious at times (this company deals with making electronic documents accessible to people with various types of disabilities like blindness, dyslexia, not having the use of one’s hands or arms due to things like illness or injuries, etc.) and I felt that the work I was doing was meaningful that could provide a positive impact on someone else’s life and 2) I still have horrible recent memories when I didn’t have enough money in my bank account and I had to make horrible decisions on which bills I could pay immediately and which bills I would try to delay paying.

I simply needed an outlet or interest other than what I was doing at my current day job. I decided to try making something again. The hard part was deciding on what I would make because I have so many different interests ranging from knitting/crochet to embroidery to drawing to painting to jewelry making to customizing dolls to sewing, etc.

I subscribe to a YouTube channel called Dollightful, which is devoted to customizing dolls (especially the ones from Mattel’s recently-discontinued Monster High line). One day I saw this video announcing a first-ever Internet-wide collaboration where people were invited to try their hand at doll customization, send a photo of the doll, and Dollightful will include it in her upcoming video. I thought it would be the perfect fun/creative thing to work on. I’ve done faceups of my own Asian ball-jointed dolls in the past and, like I wrote earlier in this post, I’ve purchased used Barbie dolls from a local thrift stores and gave them makeovers as fairy dolls.

After thinking through a few ideas, I thought about doing a mermaid with a pink flamingo motif that would somehow be reflected in her tail. Of course how she would look would definitely depend on what I would find in the local stores. I originally didn’t think about things like skin tone or hair color or anything beyond having a mermaid tail that would somehow incorporate pink flamingos. Both mermaids and pink flamingos definitely reflect on the tropical theme of this collaboration. I also thought that incorporating flamingos would turn my project into some fun light-hearted kitsch. It’s the time of the year where one can easily find in stores not only the classic pink flamingo lawn ornaments that have been around since the end of World War II but also pink flamingo drinking glasses, pink flamingo plates, strings of pink flamingo outdoor lights, pink flamingo t-shirts, pink flamingo hats, pink flamingo bags, pink flamingo pool floats, etc.

I didn’t think about what doll I wanted to use other than a Barbie or similar fashion doll that would be priced relatively cheap (meaning $10 or less). I originally had no preference of skin tone. Around the same time that I decided to take part in this collaboration there was this idiotic controversy when the Internet went in an uproar after Disney announced that, for the role of Ariel in its live-action remake of The Little Mermaid, it was going to cast an African American singer in a role where the original animation had depicted Ariel as a caucasian red-headed woman with a green fish tail. I shook my head as I read my fellow white people typing messages like “ARIEL IS WHITE AND SHE SHOULD ONLY BE PLAYED BY WHITES!!!” and “BLACK PEOPLE CAN’T BE MERMAIDS BECAUSE BLACK MERMAIDS DON’T EXIST!!!” and “OMFG!!! CASTING A BLACK PERSON AS ARIEL WOULD BE LIKE CASTING A WHITE PERSON AS OPRAH WINFREY IN A MOVIE ABOUT HER LIFE!!!”

So I went from not caring about the skin color of this pink flamingo mermaid to being adamant that she would have brown skin mainly to make an “in your face” statement to all those idiots who are adamant that there never can be black mermaids.

When I went to the same thrift stores I’ve gone to in the past in pursuit of a used African American Barbie doll I could use as my canvas, I came up empty-handed. There were no individual brown-skinned dolls available for sale. The few brown-skinned dolls I found were only available bundled together either with other dolls or other small toys and these bundles cost a little bit more than the individual dolls. I didn’t want to buy stuff that I didn’t want just so I could get a brown-skinned doll.

So I went with Plan B. I went to this local store called Dollar City, which is named because it originally started out as a dollar store where everything cost 99 cents or less. Over time it began to sell certain inventory that it really couldn’t sell for $1 and still remain in business (such as kitchen utensils) so the name has stuck despite the fact that there are now plenty of items that cost $2 or $3 (yet I’ve never seen anything in that store priced at more than $5).

I looked through the store at the cheap children’s toy area until I found this generic fashion doll sold under the name “Sweet Girl” where she is the same size as Barbie and her face resembles Barbie’s but this doll only cost $2.99. She has brown skin with blue eyes. (I guess one can explain that by saying that this doll is wearing blue contacts. LOL!) She wore a yellow dress that looked so appealing that I considered keeping it to use on other Barbies and/or other 1/6 scale dolls in future projects.

I started work on the doll soon after I removed her from the box. I did some of the work at home and I did some of the work at The Space, a makerspace that’s located inside of Beltway Plaza Mall in Greenbelt, Maryland. It was pretty nice working on this doll in the presence of other makers but there were times when I wanted to be alone to work on this doll with an absolute minimum of distractions, especially when I was doing the painstaking work of gluing hair on her head (which I’ll get to later in this post).

When I removed the doll from the box I found that the yellow dress felt like it was made from tissue paper. What’s more, this dress wasn’t easily removable. There were no snaps or buttons or even velcro. It was like the dress was sewn permanently on the doll at the factory. Since the dress was made so cheaply there was no way I could even think of a way of removing the dress without destroying it. The dress was pretty in design and had the manufacturer used a more sturdy material other than tissue paper and added velcro so the dress could be removable, it could’ve been a nice dress for all Barbie doll-sized fashion dolls. But that cheaply made dress was probably one of the reasons why this doll only costs $2.99.

So I took a pair of scissors, removed the dress, and threw it in the trash. (It was made from tissue paper so it definitely wasn’t durable.) Once I stripped her naked I found that there was this black stamp on one of her front thighs that clearly marked the doll’s item number, manufacturing batch, the fact that this doll was manufactured in Shantou, China in October, 2016 and distributed by AAI of Piscataway, New Jersey. I’ve never seen Barbie with such noticeable blatant markings on her body like that. (Barbie is usually marked that she was made in Indonesia or China or some other place but it is usually marked in tiny raised letters on her low backside in flesh color so it’s not really that noticeable.) I suppose that’s another reason why this doll only costs $2.99. (LOL!)

I also felt this doll and her vinyl felt more squishy and less sturdy than Barbie’s, which is probably another reason why this doll was sold so cheaply. I have a feeling that if anyone had accidentally stepped or sat on her, she probably would be permanently flattened. (I would also hate to see what a doll like this would look like after spending time laying on the bottom of a very full toy box.)

The doll originally came with her hair in an updo ponytail. I originally thought about taking down her hair and either do a full dye or a partial dye in pink using acrylic paint.

But when I took down her hair I found that she originally wore her hair in that style—her entire head wasn’t covered with hair! She had so little hair that her bald spot was large and noticeable.

I might have kept her original hair as it and just paint the ponytail part in pink if it weren’t for the fact that I felt that her updo hairstyle was pretty mediocre due to the fact that she had so little hair. Even her hair length was a bit too short to do a decent 1950’s style updo like the original Barbie dolls in their first year of production back in 1959.

So I decided to try something alternative and cut off what little doll hair she actually had. It wasn’t too hard to cut off, much of the hair fell out at the root the minute I cut it. (Which indicates another reason why this doll only costs $2.99.) After I managed to cut off what little hair she had, I noticed that this newly bald doll reminded me of one of those female Wakanda warriors from The Black Panther movie.

I briefly thought about keeping her bald, which would’ve been a radical design idea when it comes to mermaids. (A mermaid is usually depicted as having very long and flowing hair.) But then I saw the back of her head and realized that it wouldn’t be feasible. The back of the head looked like the tip of a man’s penis.

That wasn’t the only strangely phallic part of that doll. There were times when I removed her head so I could completely remove the hair from the inside using tweezers. When I removed her head I found that, well, there was something phallic about her head joint that gave new meaning to the word “dickhead.” I guess that’s another reason why that doll only costs $2.99. LOL!

I shopped around at the various arts and craft stores until I found this pretty cool pink flamingo fabric at Jo-Ann’s Fabrics & Crafts. The pattern design reminded me of those 1950s era kitsch art that were done in a variety of bright tropical pastel colors. What’s even better is that the pattern is small enough that it could be scaled to a 1/6 scale doll. (I saw other pink flamingo patterns on sale at Jo-Ann’s but the patterns were way too big for the size of doll that I was sewing for.) What was even better was that I purchased this fabric at a discount using a coupon on my Jo-Ann’s smartphone app.

I did a web search on how to make a mermaid tail for a doll and I found this YouTube tutorial by My Froggy Stuff, which I found to be very helpful.

Here is my doll’s mermaid tail after I finished it.

I also purchased some satin pink fabric from the remnant bins at Jo-Ann’s, which were on sale at the time. I sewed the top using the same My Froggy Stuff video tutorial that I embedded above.

For the hair I decided to have a hair color scheme that would match the colors of her tail. I ended up buying yarn skeins that were on sale from both Jo-Ann’s and Michaels Arts & Crafts and they were pretty close to the tail colors. I used this tutorial that was posted on Hannah Plus Laura’s YouTube channel on how to make a doll wig using yarn.

The only modifications I made were: 1) I glued the yarn directly on the doll’s head instead of using a baby sock because I intended her hair to be permanent and 2) I used E-6000 glue instead of a hot glue gun. That’s because the quality of the vinyl felt so thin compared to other dolls manufactured and distributed by Mattel and Hasbro that I feared burning a hole in the doll’s vinyl had I used a hot glue gun. Here is what my doll looked like after I glued the first row of yarn hair on her head.

Here is what the doll looked like after I covered her head in yarn hair.

I found two pink flamingo-shaped buttons at Jo-Ann’s that I decided to use as doll barrettes. I attached them to the doll’s hair using pipe cleaners.

I was really happy with how my kitschy pink flamingo mermaid of color was turning out. I decided to add a pink flamingo buddy to create sort of a picture of a pink flamingo mermaid with her pink flamingo bird companion. I decided on Ty, the company that originated the Beanie Babies craze in the 1990s. While Beanie Babies no longer command the huge dollars on the secondary market they once did, Ty is still making small stuffed animals that are still priced low enough that children can buy them with their allowance money (which was the original idea behind Beanie Babies in the first place). For the past few months I saw many of the local stores (including Five Below, Michaels, and Jo-Ann’s) sell Ty pink flamingos and I thought one of them would be perfect for my mermaid, especially since the scale would be pretty close.

By the time I started looking for a Ty pink flamingo I saw that the regular pink flamingos that I previously saw on sale were replaced by a new Ty pink flamingo under its Flippables line. These Flippables are capitalizing on the current glitter sequin craze where a glitter sequin lying on one side would be one color but if you flip the glitter sequin, you’d see a different color. I’ve seen such glitter sequins on pillows, t-shirts, and even tennis shoes. Personally the novelty of this new craze had worn thin with me after flipping glitter for a few seconds but the kids absolutely love this.

Anyway, getting back to my story, I only saw the pink flamingos available in Ty Flippables when I personally preferred the regular plush version because I just didn’t want to deal with making sure that the sequins all reflect the pink side. But the Dollightful deadline was coming soon so I decided to just take the plunge and buy the Ty Flippables version of the pink flamingo so I would have a companion for my mermaid.

This pink flamingo looked cute. Here’s a closeup of the sequins. When you flip them one way, the glitter sequins are pink but when you flip them another way, they look like a silver color.

A few days after I purchased that Ty Flippable pink flamingo I went back to Jo-Ann’s in order to make a couple of purchases so I could finish my mermaid project and I walked past the Ty display where I saw that there was one left of that pink flamingo that I originally wanted. This pink flamingo is part of the Ty Beanie Boos line (which tend to have bigger eyes than the original Beanie Babies). I began to think that it wouldn’t be so bad for my mermaid to have TWO flamingo companions so I purchased this one as well.

When I put the two Ty pink flamingos side by side, I noticed that the Flippables one is slightly bigger than the Beanie Boos one. But the height difference was minor enough not to cause any kind of scale issues when it came time to posing them with the mermaid.

I had a few other ideas regarding my submission that I ended up not using due mainly to the looming deadline, such as having a small cutout printed on card stock showing the late actor Divine in John Waters’ cult classic Pink Flamingos. (Get it?) I wanted to shoot on location at a beach near a shoreline since mermaids, water, and beaches go together. Going to Ocean City was out of the question for me due mainly to tight finances and time issues. (I was working at the day job again so I just didn’t have a full free day where I could wake up early, take a four-hour trip to Ocean City, take the necessary pictures, then take another four-hour drive back home.) I originally planned on going to some of the closer beaches that face the Chesapeake Bay like Sandy Point State Park, North Beach, or Chesapeake Beach. Those beaches would’ve been easier for me to get to.

But then something happened in the news that made me consider another option. While I was putting the final touches on my doll, I learned that President Donald Trump had issued a serious of odious tweet that totally trashed my birthplace of Baltimore. This kind of trash talking was more suitable for a middle school kid than for someone who is supposed to represent an entire nation. I already wrote a rant about how I felt about this so I’m not going to go further into that incident.

Just as I made a black mermaid in an effort to outrage all those white folks screaming “BLACK PEOPLE CAN’T BE MERMAIDS!!!” I decided that my photo shoot would take place in Baltimore in order to outrage Donald Trump and all of his devoted MAGA followers. After all, the city is located along a major body of water. And filmmaker John Waters did film his cult classic Pink Flamingos on location in Baltimore. The only challenge is finding something that’s a beach since one can only swim in a local community pool and not in the Inner Harbor or the Patapsco River. In the meantime I added a few additional elements that made my upcoming submission more Baltimore-focused.

One evening I was at Michaels when I saw that there was a sale on these small pink flamingo-shaped birthday candles for only $1 each. I thought they would be perfect for my project. Except the majority of the pink flamingo candles on sale all had snapped necks. I found the last pink flamingo candle that was still intact and I bought it. The following evening I was at Jo-Ann’s when I saw a small bunch of six small gift bags that were on the clearance rack for $1. These gift bags were perfectly scaled for a fashion doll. I was going to have the pink flamingo candle stick out of the gift bag. But then the hashtag #WeAreBaltimore began to go viral on Twitter in response to Trump’s hateful anti-Baltimore tweets so I took a Sharpie, wrote that hashtag on the bag and I now have another item for my photoshoot that also dovetails with current events.

Then there was the issue of a place in Baltimore that could possibly pass as a beach. I soon learned that there is a place located near Fells Point known as The Sandlot that is only opened during the summer months that is not only an outdoor bar and restaurant but it has a huge sandy area where one can play games like volleyball and bocce ball, swings where people of all ages can swing on, and places where one can sit facing the Patapsco River wind its way to the Inner Harbor. It resembled a beach except for the fact that no swimming was allowed. I found that perfect spot for my photo shoot.

The challenge I had through out the entire creation process from the beginning to the photoshoot was that I had a day job so I had to limit everything to either early in the morning before work, after work, and the weekends. I was glad that the days were currently longer this time of the year so I could get more of the photography done.

A few days before my trip to Baltimore I decided to do a few test shoots closer to my home. I wanted to practice for my desired shoot and I also wanted a backup in case, for some reason (such as car trouble or serious inclement weather), I had to cancel going to Baltimore (especially with the deadline coming close).

So I initially went to Greenbelt Lake. While I initially liked the setup of my elements, what I didn’t like was that I couldn’t get close enough to the lake without risking falling in (or having my doll fall in) because of the way that the shores slope down severely. In many areas the trees and other foliage tend to get in the way of getting a shot that could encompass both the water, the dolls, and the other props. Even though I settled for putting everything on a rock, you can barely see the water in the background.

I thought about the New Carrollton Library in New Carrollton, Maryland. Last year that library underwent extensive renovations and it reopened to the public with high praise recorded in the local media. The architect decided to do an aquatic themed design and it’s reflected all over the library. I thought it would be cool to do a shoot there even if everything would be indoors instead of being on location at a beach. Here are a few photos of my doll and props near this wall that had a giant picture of a fish nearby taken from various angles.

The blue carpeting had this pattern that suggested ocean waves so I shot my mermaid and her friends at an angle that showed the carpet.

The last local shoot I did before I went to Baltimore was at Lake Artemesia in College Park. I went after work when it was around twilight. I managed to shoot this photo with the lake clearly in the background.

I have to admit that had I not been able to go to Baltimore, I would’ve submitted this picture instead because I liked the way that everything was composed. (Here’s one secret: I placed the items on top of the lid of a tall closed trashcan. You have to admit that you would not have noticed this had I not written this previous sentence. LOL!)

The deadline was fast approaching and it got to the point where if I didn’t go to Baltimore soon, I would’ve had to choose one of my alternate photographs to submit. It also was the same weekend as the annual BronyCon. I had gone to that event in 2013, 2014, and 2015 but I hadn’t gone since due to tight finances. I thought about waiting another year before I checked it out again until I learned that the organizers decided that this year would be the last time that BronyCon would ever be held anywhere. Basically it was going to go defunct after the 2019 convention.

So I was in a dilemma about whether I should continue with my plans to do the shoot in Baltimore or go to BronyCon until I came up with an idea: I would do both. I would wake up and leave early enough in the morning so I could check out BronyCon then take the Charm City Circulator bus to The Sandlot and take my photos for the Dollightful collaboration. I also had an idea that if I saw any displays at BronyCon that looked the slightest bit tropical, I would whip out my doll and her props and do some shooting at BronyCon.

It turned out that I didn’t find anything that looked like a good tropical backdrop at BronyCon. (I’ll write more about BronyCon at a later date.) So once I got my fill at that convention, I took the Charm City Circulator until I was close enough to The Sandlot.

As I was walking towards the area where The Sandlot was located, I found an empty dock that I thought would make a great alternative shot. I pulled out my doll and her props only to discover, to my horror, my cheap $1 pink flamingo candle had snapped its neck. So I ended up having to jettison that candle entirely and go with everything else. Here is my first shot on location in Baltimore.

I eventually made it to The Sandlot. I originally intended to eat dinner there then shoot my pictures at the surrounding beach. But then I found that this place does not accept cash at all and I left my debit card in my purse, which was locked in the trunk of the car that I parked at the North Linthicum light rail station outside of the city. So I had to scrap the idea of eating dinner there (I later ended up ordering takeout chicken from Royal Farms when I was on my way home from Baltimore) and just start shooting my pictures. Here are some alternate shots I made at The Sandlot that I took from different areas of the beach and at different angles.

I liked this closeup shot of the mermaid and her flamingo friends with the Domino Sugar factory clearly in the background. (That factory is part of the iconic landscape of the Baltimore Inner Harbor along with the Bromo Seltzer Tower and the National Aquarium.) The only major flaw was that you couldn’t see her mermaid tale so you wouldn’t know that she was a mermaid from this angle.

I shot the camera just a few inches away and I felt like I got the perfect shot with a body of water that’s clearly visible, the Domino Sugar factor is clearly in the background, the mermaid is along a sandy beach, and the bag with the #WeAreBaltimore is clearly visible. I was sad that my flamingo candle snapped at the neck at the last minute so I couldn’t use it but otherwise I loved this shot. I decided to sleep on it before I made my final decision. In the morning I looked at all of the photos I shot and I still chose that one. The only real flaw is that the picture had sort of a bluish tint to it and I wanted something warmer that would better reflect the tropical theme of the collaboration.

A few months ago my friend/housemate/sometime collaborator Phil Shapiro urged me to download this free app on my smartphone called Snapseed. It was developed by Google as a way for people to easily edit their photos using Adobe Photoshop-like filters except this app is much easier to learn and, unlike Photoshop, one doesn’t have to pay a monthly subscription fee. I downloaded it but I hadn’t had a chance to use it until this collaboration. I found that it was pretty easy to use. What I really liked was that I could make some edits right on my smartphone without downloading this photo to my MacBook then importing it into either my outdated Photoshop CS4 or GIMP. I managed to add some warm highlights to this picture and add my Instagram and Twitter accounts on the photo before emailing it to the Dollightful collaboration just a few hours before the final deadline.

So I basically liked the entire collaboration and I was thrilled when I not only saw my doll in that video but I saw so many other people’s submissions as well.

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I had recently decided to work on a few new potential creative projects and I went shopping in the Laurel, Maryland area to see if it was even feasible for me to turn a few potential ideas I had swirling around in my head into a reality. I first stopped off at this thrift store for the first time in a few years. I saw that it still has the old name of Laurel Thrift Center on the outside but walking inside I saw that it is now part of a chain known as Thrifty’s Thrift Stores.

The only real major change is that there is now a computer store and repair service shop located in the back known as Thrifty Fix. It’s a place where cash-strapped people can get their next desktop or laptop computer for a fraction of the price that one would find in places like BestBuy. All of the computers on sale are used but they have had the latest operating system installed. I saw this laptop on sale that sounds like it could be an excellent bargain for anyone who needs one but doesn’t have the money to buy one brand new. It’s for a Dell Latitude E6410 and for $229.99 (plus tax), one could get a laptop with the following features:

  • Windows 10 Professional 64 bits 1903
  • Microsoft Office 2007
  • Intel Core i5 M520 @ 2.40 GhZ
  • Memory 8 GB DDR3 Ram
  • HD 320GB SATA
  • Optical drives including a DVD-writer
  • High definition audio
  • Intel HD integrated graphic card
  • SD card reader
  • HDMI port
  • Fast Ethernet network adapter and Wi-fi.

I also found a fully functional Furby on the store shelf. This one is obviously one of the later Furbys because it has LED eyes (in comparison to the earlier versions with regular looking eyes) and it’s about twice the size of the original 1998-2001 Furbys. I once did a fan site devoted to Furby back in 1998 but I haven’t really explored the newer Furbys that have come out in recent years due in large part to dealing with the fallout from my divorce plus tight finances.

I briefly thought about buying that used Furby and brining it home for old time’s sake but I ended not doing it because I’m not fully out of paying off debts (even though I am now working at various day jobs more than I have before) and I have a lot of stuff in my home that I’m thinking about getting rid of and brining home more stuff that will just sit on a shelf somewhere is something that I really don’t need to do at the moment.

Afterwards I headed over to Michaels Arts & Crafts. I saw that they had Ty on the shelves. I still remember the Ty Beanie Babies craze of the late 1990s where various Beanie Babies shot up in value only to have that market totally crash and many people literally lost huge amounts of money on that speculation. Ty is still around but its products no longer command huge amounts of money on the secondary market.

I saw that Ty has a new line called Flippables and it basically capitalizes on that current craze of sequins that can change color. (Basically these sequins have both sides in two different colors. If you take your fingers and flip the sequins one way, they will be one color. If you flip them another way, they will be a different color. They are currently a hit with kids. I’ve seen sequin pillows, sequin stuffed animals, and even t-shirts with flippable sequins.) The next two photos show a dinosaur whose color you can change with just a flip of the sequins.

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Last month I went to some event that was held at the Rockville Library, which I had only stepped foot in one other time (when I attended the CoderDojo Meetup that was held in the library’s makerspace last year). When I was on my way out I noticed that the tops of the library shelves in the children’s area were decorated with stuffed animals, such as the ones below.

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There is no excuse for you to casually drink bottled water.

Six DIY ways to create your own Porg infestation.

In Baltimore and nationwide, art museums fight sharp declines in attendance.

What does oligarchy mean? That we’re screwed.

The 1913 Women’s March that started in Hyattsville, Maryland.

Watch 15,000 dominoes fall and prepared to be mesmerized.

How to turn online distractions into art.

Archivists race to digitize slave records before the history is lost.

How to deal with job search depression.

The kitchiest hotel in the world.

Download hundreds of Van Gogh paintings, sketches, and letters in high resolution for free.

Video game legend thrown out of the record books after his times were found to be impossible.

Isaac Asimov’s three laws of robotics, updated for the drone age.

Stop wasting your money on Instagram Influencers. They suck.

A new study shows that students learn way more effectively from print textbooks than screens.

A DC school was named after a slave owner. So students got it renamed after its first black principal.

Sea level rise is eroding home value, and owners might not even know it.

Here’s a look at Jim Henson’s sadistic and hilarious ads for Wilkins Coffee made between 1957-1961.

What happens when artists use tech to confront inequality?

The diet that might cure depression.

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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 went to the 15th annual Greenbelt Green Man Festival on Mother’s Day weekend. This year the weather was pretty bad but the festival went on despite that. The first day I arrived early to the festival where I took a few photos.

The 2019 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

The 2019 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

The 2019 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

The 2019 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

The 2019 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

The 2019 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

The 2019 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

The 2019 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

The 2019 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

The 2019 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

The 2019 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

The 2019 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

It was cloudy when I first arrived but after about an hour or so I felt a few raindrops so I ended up going over to the Mental Health Awareness art event that was held indoors in nearby Beltway Plaza (and which I wrote about in my last post).

The next day it really rained and it poured hard at times. I ended up not arriving to the festival until late in the day and that was because I was curious to see if there were many people who came on the second day (which was also Mother’s Day). Many vendors had put up extra plastic around their canopies in order to keep their wares dry. I also saw that many vendors had decided to pack up and leave early. I couldn’t blame them because there were so few people at the festival due to the heavy rain downpour.

The 2019 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

The 2019 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

The 2019 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

The 2019 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

The 2019 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

Many of the schedule performers ended up moving indoors to the nearby New Deal Cafe. Some of the festival-goers also moved indoors.

The 2019 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

The vendor who was selling the official Greenbelt Green Man Festival t-shirts also moved indoors where one table was taken up with t-shirts.

The 2019 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

There was a drumming circle that was scheduled to be held outdoors towards the official end of the festival. That drumming circle was moved to the awning outside of the New Deal Cafe. They had plenty of drums available for people to borrow so I ended up borrowing one and participated in the drumming circle.

The 2019 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

I shot this video covering both days of the festival. It begins with the official opening of the festival, then it moves on to short footage of a hula hooper and a man dancing with his two children. It ends with scenes from the closing drumming circle on the second day. (At times you can see my hand attempting to drum with one hand while holding the smartphone with my other hand.)

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