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A few days earlier I saw this article in The Washington City Paper about a new city-wide festival that was launching called By the People. It would be held in a few different venues located throughout Washington, DC over a long weekend (Thursday-Sunday) and it was described as being like South by Southwest, except the admission would be free to the general public.

I was intrigued by what I read and if I had discovered that article a few days earlier, I would’ve checked out this event on Thursday or Friday night. But I had planned on participating in the Poor People’s Campaign Rally and March on Washington on Saturday. It turned out that the March itself ended on the Mall, which was also one of the locations where the By the People event would be held, so I decided to check it out.

The one Mall venue where By the People was held as at the Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building.

By the People Art Event

By the People Art Event

By the People Art Event

By the People Art Event

Inside was very visually appealing with the large art installations providing a nice contrast with the historic interior.

By the People Art Event

There was an all-ages hands-on workshop where one can create his/her own comic book superhero. That table was very crowded.

By the People Art Event

By the People Art Event

By the People Art Event

By the People Art Event

By the People Art Event

By the People Art Event

By the People Art Event

By the People Art Event

By the People Art Event

By the People Art Event

By the People Art Event

By the People Art Event

By the People Art Event

By the People Art Event

By the People Art Event

By the People Art Event

By the People Art Event

By the People Art Event

By the People Art Event

By the People Art Event

By the People Art Event

By the People Art Event

I came across this cute little robot named Pepper.

By the People Art Event

By the People Art Event

I found Pepper to be so cute that I shot a short video of this robot in action.

After I spent some time indoors I walked outside where I checked out the gardens that are located between the Arts and Industries Building and the Smithsonian Castle.

By the People Art Event

By the People Art Event

I was getting very tired by that point so I started looking for the nearest Metro station. While I was on my way back to the Metro I saw that the upcoming Smithsonian Folklife Festival was still being erected on the Mall. (The festival itself wouldn’t officially open for another few days.)

By the People Art Event

By the People Art Event

I had thought about going to Union Market on the following day to check out some more of the By the People event but I was so completely exhausted the following morning that I ended up not going. If this event is held again next year, I’m definitely going to make attending it my top priority because I really liked what I saw at the Arts and Industries Building.

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Ramadan

Not too long (April 26, 2018) I decided to check out Third Eye Comics in Annapolis. I took a few photos of some random comic book covers for a Facebook friend who’s into dinosaurs in a very big way. There are issues of a Marvel comic book called Monsters Unleashed which, judging from the cover, seems to focus on a different dragon or dinosaur each issue.

There’s also a Japanese imported kit featuring a robot dinosaur.

That same friend also works in one of the many new cannabis dispensaries that have cropped up in Maryland since medical marijuana was legalized not too long ago. I shot this cover of a comic book called The Gingerbread Man Meets EvilBong. The cover looks hilariously surreal.

Lastly I saw this comic book series that’s a joint publication of DC Comics and Archie which has this improbable scenario: What if Betty and Veronica from Archie meet Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy? I would’ve loved to check these issues out but, at $3.99 per issue, I’m financially struggling too much to afford them. Oh well.

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Ramadan

Once again I took part in the Changing Focus Yard Sale, which was held on the grounds of the Prince of Peace Presbyterian Church in Crofton, Maryland. Like the previous times I attended, I collected money from people who wanted to buy the used items that were donated from the members of Changing Focus (which is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people deal with being separated, divorced, and widowed). In-between handling the money and interacting with the customers, I took these photos of a few choice items that were on sale this time around.

Changing Focus Yard Sale, April 28, 2018

This porcelain doll looked like the late Princess Diana having an incredibly bad hair day while wearing a dress that looked a couple of sizes too big for her.

Changing Focus Yard Sale, April 28, 2018

These two Victorian-style dolls were snapped up about a minute or two after I took this shot.

Changing Focus Yard Sale, April 28, 2018

Changing Focus Yard Sale, April 28, 2018

The weather was warm and gorgeous outside. It was the perfect day to hold a yard sale. The flowers were at their peak bloom as well.

Changing Focus Yard Sale, April 28, 2018

Changing Focus Yard Sale, April 28, 2018

Changing Focus Yard Sale, April 28, 2018

These kids were playing under one of the flowering trees while their parents shopped at the yard sale.

Changing Focus Yard Sale, April 28, 2018

This is definitely the epitome of kitsch: a porcelain Avon Lady figurine dressed in Victorian-style clothes.

Changing Focus Yard Sale, April 28, 2018

There were plenty of other things on sale that were definitely kitschy.

Changing Focus Yard Sale, April 28, 2018

Changing Focus Yard Sale, April 28, 2018

Changing Focus Yard Sale, April 28, 2018

Changing Focus Yard Sale, April 28, 2018

Most of the time I participate in these yard sales, I come across at least one item that belongs in a museum. This time it was a film cartridge for the Kodak Pocket Instamatic camera (which was my first camera I ever owned—this post I wrote over two years ago has photos I shot with that camera when I was trying to earn a photography badge in Girl Scouts). What’s even more amazing is that this film was still in its original foil cover, which has never been opened.

Changing Focus Yard Sale, April 28, 2018

Here’s another view of the wrapped Kodak film cartridge that has the words “Open at Cut.” (There’s a little cut along the center seam where one is supposed to rip in order to open the package.)

Changing Focus Yard Sale, April 28, 2018

I don’t know if anyone bought it. I have no way of knowing if that film would be usable since it was probably manufactured during the Pocket Instamatic’s 1970s heyday. When I was doing a quick Google search about the Pocket Instamatic, I came across this website that was not only selling vintage Pocket Instamatic cameras but it was also selling newly manufactured 110 film cartridges just for that camera. (Which proves that there’s a market for just about anything these days.)

But that wasn’t the only Kodak film product I saw on sale that day. There was also a Kodak 35mm camera gift box set that was definitely for those who miss the days of shooting with 35mm film.

Changing Focus Yard Sale, April 28, 2018

I saw a vintage Soviet Union sports pendant (note the hammer and sickle in the center).

Changing Focus Yard Sale, April 28, 2018

The Prince of Peace Presbyterian Church has a labyrinth on its property. A young boy was walking along the labyrinth while his father was watching the child while sitting on a bench on the far left side of the photograph.

Changing Focus Yard Sale, April 28, 2018

At one point I went indoors where I checked out the Prince of Peace Presbyterian Church’s used book sale.

Book Sale, Prince of Peace Presbyterian Church, April 28, 2018

Book Sale, Prince of Peace Presbyterian Church, April 28, 2018

I saw boxes full of vintage Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys mystery series.

Book Sale, Prince of Peace Presbyterian Church, April 28, 2018

Book Sale, Prince of Peace Presbyterian Church, April 28, 2018

The church sold more than just used books. They had boxes full of VHS tapes. (I saw people actually browsing and buying them.)

Book Sale, Prince of Peace Presbyterian Church, April 28, 2018

I purchased two books at the used book sale. One was Dan Brown’s Inferno, which is another novel in the historical series featuring Robert Langdon. (I had previously read Angels & Demons, The Da Vinci Code, and The Lost Symbol.)

Book Sale at the Prince of Peace Presbyterian Church, April 28, 2018

I also found this book on puppet making, which I bought on impulse. (It only cost $1.)

Book Sale at the Prince of Peace Presbyterian Church, April 28, 2018

Both the yard sale and the used book sale were scheduled to coincide with the Festival on the Green, which is usually held on the grounds of the Crofton Country Club that’s located next door to the Prince of Peace Presbyterian Church. The festival had all kinds of handcrafted goods made by local artisans while providing entertainment (some of which included people dressed in costumes). I browsed through the various tables but I ended up not buying anything because money was very tight for me.

Festival on the Green, April 28, 2018

Festival on the Green, April 28, 2018

Festival on the Green, April 28, 2018

Festival on the Green, April 28, 2018

Festival on the Green, April 28, 2018

Festival on the Green, April 28, 2018

Festival on the Green, April 28, 2018

Festival on the Green, April 28, 2018

Festival on the Green, April 28, 2018

Festival on the Green, April 28, 2018

Festival on the Green, April 28, 2018

Festival on the Green, April 28, 2018

Festival on the Green, April 28, 2018

Festival on the Green, April 28, 2018

Festival on the Green, April 28, 2018

Festival on the Green, April 28, 2018

Festival on the Green, April 28, 2018

Festival on the Green, April 28, 2018

Festival on the Green, April 28, 2018

Festival on the Green, April 28, 2018

Festival on the Green, April 28, 2018

Festival on the Green, April 28, 2018

Festival on the Green, April 28, 2018

Festival on the Green, April 28, 2018

Festival on the Green, April 28, 2018

Festival on the Green, April 28, 2018

Festival on the Green, April 28, 2018

Festival on the Green, April 28, 2018

Festival on the Green, April 28, 2018

Festival on the Green, April 28, 2018

Festival on the Green, April 28, 2018

Festival on the Green, April 28, 2018

Many of the items on sale were displayed with the upcoming Mother’s Day holiday in mind.

Festival on the Green, April 28, 2018

 

This year is also an election year with the midterm elections coming up in Maryland. There were plenty of political candidate signs on display.

Festival on the Green, April 28, 2018

Festival on the Green, April 28, 2018

This event was the first time I ever shot a video at the Festival on the Green. There was a woman who wore fox ears and a fox tail who was playing the ukulele and singing “Hickory Dickory Dock.”

All in all it was a pretty glorious day. I learned that Changing Focus managed to raise $1,600 from that yard sale. Sweet!

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Ramadan

For the third year in a row I went to Light City in Baltimore (which is also the festival’s third year). (You can read about my previous visits in 2016 and 2017.) The first year I went I basically just took the Charm City Circulator bus as far as the Shake Shack (which is located across from Harborplace) and I underestimated how big this festival was. The second year I had an animation that was showing at Light City so I took the Charm City Circulator until I got to a stop that was as close to the On Demand area (where my animation was being shown along with other film shorts) and I still have memories of sitting outside for two hours waiting for my animation to show up on screen as the temperature kept on getting colder and colder as time went on.

This year I decided not to submit anything to Light City so I could begin my tour anywhere. I also ended up going on the last night of Light City. I couldn’t get there earlier in the month due to scheduling conflicts so the final night was my first and last time that I visited Light City 2018.

I drove my car to Linthicum and stopped at a Royal Farms store so I could pick up a chicken dinner and a diet soda for only $7. (I know from previous years that many of the restaurants, fast food outlets, and food tents tend to draw very long lines during Light City. It was easier to just bring my own food to Light City.) I parked my car at the North Linthicum light rail station and took the train to the Camden Yards station.

I had the idea of taking the Charm City Circulator bus all the way over to the other side of the Inner Harbor near where Little Italy is located. When I arrived I found that this area has been heavily built up. There’s a new complex called Harbor East and I took some photos there along with some photos of Little Italy. I took so many photos that day that I decided to break up this year’s Light City entry into two. Yesterday I wrote about Little Italy and Harbor East. Today’s blog post is about Light City itself.

This year I shot video footage of some of the Light City exhibits. Here is the resulting video showing the highlights of that festival.

Here are the still photos I shot at Light City. When I arrived at the Inner Harbor the first thing I did was to eat the Royal Farms chicken while viewing the Harbor East marina at the beginning of a sunset.

Harbor East, April 28, 2018

I walked along the Inner Harbor where I saw the beginnings of Light City.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

There were Fireflies Pedicabs that provided a service to give people a ride along the eastern end of the Inner Harbor. They were very colorful to look at.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

I arrived at the first Light City structure called Pulse Portal by Davis McCarty. Even though it was still light outside when I was there, I managed to have fun shooting the Inner Harbor at sunset through the colored glass of the structure.

Light City, Baltimore, Maryland, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, Maryland, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, Maryland, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, Maryland, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, Maryland, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, Maryland, April 21, 2018

When I was there a couple were preparing to get married by that structure.

2018 Light City, Baltimore, Maryland, April 21, 2018

2018 Light City, Baltimore, Maryland, April 21, 2018

2018 Light City, Baltimore, Maryland, April 21, 2018

2018 Light City, Baltimore, Maryland, April 21, 2018

Mr. Trash Wheel was docked along the Inner Harbor.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

The Herd by Kelley Bell consists of a flock of inflatable blue creatures floating in the Inner Harbor.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Octopus by Tim Scofield, Kyle Miller, and Steve Dalnekoff is a giant animatronic octopus whose tentacles were slowly moving while it was changing colors and playing very calming electronic music. I found it pretty mesmerizing to watch in person.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

This Coffee Bar tent was one of many tents that served refreshments to the general public at Light City.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

I came upon the On Demand area, which brought back memories for me. Last year I had my animation, The March of Liberty, shown in that area. I still have memories of sitting outside freezing in one of those adirondack chairs for over two hours waiting for my animation to be shown. I was so thrilled when it was finally shown that I shot this quick reaction video.

This year I didn’t submit anything to this festival. It was partially due to laziness and partially because I still have less-than-thrilling memories of sitting outside in the cold for a very long time. Even though I was ultimately happy when my animation was shown, it didn’t really lead to any further opportunities for me. (I had hoped that the showing of my animation at Light City would lead to some kind of a job or career breakthrough for me but it didn’t work out that way.) In contrast to last year, I didn’t spend much time in the On Demand area. I hung around just long enough to shoot these two pictures.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

There were a few giant screens that were placed throughout the Inner Harbor that showed random video clips.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Something in the Water by Post Typography + PI.KL + Figure 53 featured some underwater lights that flashed just below the surface of the harbor.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

I came upon the Institute of Marine & Environmental Technology (IMET) where a few of the Labs @ Light City were held. I arrived on the last night of Light City so the building was closed when I was there, which is why I was only able to get a few external shots.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Here’s the installation As of a Now by Elissa Blount.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

There was another underwater installation called What Lies Beneath by Formstone Castle.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

A drummer and a dance troupe performed outside of the Power Plant.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Many people walked through the bridge-like Synesthesia by Surcreative.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

There was this line standing outside of the igloo-like The Eighth Art that was so long that I decided to skip it.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

There were a few street performers playing for the Light City crowd.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Sun Stomp by the Sun Stomp Collective was this animation that required people to stomp on these nearby metal bleachers. The effect was pretty neat but it provided noise that was so loud that I had to leave quickly before I developed a headache.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

This year Light City had something called Mini Light City, which was geared towards families. This elephant balloon graced the entrance to Mini Light City.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

There was a tent sponsored by Future Makers where parents and children could make simple projects that involved light. That area was very crowded.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

The Mini Light City area had another tent that was easier to get inside. It was sponsored by The PURGG Project and it included hands-on demonstrations using robots and drones.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

A WJZ-TV (Channel 13) van parks at Light City.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City in Baltimore drew such huge crowds that Harborplace was packed with people. This photo shows why I decided not to buy anything from It’s Sugar that night.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

There were some psychedelic-like effects at the installation Colour Moves by Rombout Frieling Lab.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

There was a small carnival consisting of a ferris wheel ride (known as The Big Wheel) surrounded by concessions stands.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Many people have fun with rotating the giant prisms that made up the installation Prismatica by Raw Design, Atomic3, Jean-François Piché, and Dix au carré/Production: Quartier des Spectacles, Montreal.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Here’s the bird-like installation On the Wings of Freedom by Aether and Hemera.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

The big HMO giant Kaiser Permanente sponsored something called a Thrive Garden, which, as far as I could tell, was a place where people sat down on benches.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Here is Elantica by Tom Dekyvere.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Some vector animations were shown on the outside of the Maryland Science Center.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Club Light City was an outdoor bar and dance area that was very crowded.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

And last, but not least, here is the installation Drone Prix.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

This year, for the first time ever, I managed to visit the entire Light City area in the Inner Harbor. The key to my success was that I took the light rail to Camden Yards then I walked to the nearest Charm Circulator bus stop where I took the Orange bus to the Little Italy stop then walked through Harbor East in order to get to the very far eastern end of the Inner Harbor then walked west back towards the Maryland Science Center. While I managed to see most of the Inner Harbor attractions, I didn’t see all of Light City. This year the festival expanded to a few outlying neighborhoods such as Fells Point and Federal Hill. I wasn’t able to attend any of these other Light City events due to tight finances and scheduling conflicts. Maybe next year I’ll make an effort to visit at least one of these neighborhoods hosting their own portion of Light City.

As I left the Inner Harbor to go back to the Camden Yards light rail stop I saw this sign announcing a special Lyft pick-up spot for those who went to Light City and decided to use Lyft’s services.

Light City, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

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I had decided to attend a meeting of my support group for people who are separated or divorced while checking out the cherry blossom trees that were blooming on Crofton Parkway. I remember a few years back I saw something online that had a list of less crowded alternatives to the cherry blossoms in the Tidal Basin and these trees on Crofton Parkway were on the list.

But first I decided to go to Wegman’s where I ate dinner. When I pulled into the parking lot I saw this bumper sticker that said “Pro-America Anti-Trump.”

While I was in Wegman’s, I saw that not only did that store have the Fingerlings on sale but it also had larger plush versions of the Fingerlings monkeys. When you pressed their chests they made the same noises that the robot Fingerlings monkeys make.

After eating dinner at Wegman’s but before I went to my meeting I took a few brief pictures of the cherry blossom trees on Crofton Parkway while sunset was beginning.

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Back in January I shot some photos at a Toys R Us in Annapolis, Maryland. At the time Toys R Us had announced a closure of around 200-300 stores across the United States. I had heard rumors that those closures were going to be the first in a wave of closures that will eventually end Toys R Us as a business. I picked the Annapolis store because I wanted to take photos of a store that wasn’t on the list of stores that were closing so I could document what a typical Toys R Us store was like on an average business day. I also wrote about my own memories of shopping at various Toys R Us stores since my own childhood along with the factors that led to Toys R Us to file for bankruptcy then start closing some of its own stores.

I honestly thought that the rest of the stores weren’t going to start shutting down until summer at the earliest. Imagine my surprise when Toys R Us announced last month that it was going to just liquidate all of their stores (including its Babies R Us stores).

Like I wrote back in January, Toys R Us originally started in the Adams-Morgan section of Washington, DC in the space that’s now inhabited by Madam’s Organ Blues Bar. Local station NBC4 recently ran a news story about Toys R Us’ DC origins that’s definitely worth checking out. There’s another page on the Ghosts of DC site that goes even further. It traces the entire history of that same Adams-Morgan building starting from 1907 when that address was listed as the site of a birthday party for twin brothers in The Washington Post‘s society column.

Toys R Us’ original founder, Charles Lazarus, died at 94 soon after the chain announced that it was liquidating. I know that he was at an advanced age but sometimes I wonder if he had died of a broken heart. It must be really tough to see your life’s work just metaphorically go up in smoke like that, especially after being in business for 70 years.

I recently started a new day job where I’m doing office work for a therapist who also happens to have financial investments and rental properties on the side while also dealing with his late aunt’s estate. He gave me this comic that he clipped out of a newspaper about Toys R Us.

While I’m not denying that the playing habits of children are changing but I learned that there is another factor behind the demise of Toys R Us that I learned about. This video thoroughly explains why Toys R Us are literally closing up shop and it had little to do with other factors frequently cited (such as kids being more into smartphones and tablets than traditional toys, competition from other big box retailers like Walmart, and competition from online retailers like Amazon) and more to do with some disgusting Wall Street shenanigans where the executives at the top are making off like bandits while thousands of their employees are being laid off.

I decided to make to make a return trip to Toys R Us on a Friday afternoon. The day before I had a successful interview that led to the day job that I’m currently working at. Despite my good mood I was still struggling with a head cold when I went. I decided to go anyway despite being tired and sick because I wanted to go to check out the going out of business sale before most of the inventory got sold. I decided to go back to the same Annapolis store that I went to in January just so I could take more photos comparing the store in its beginning death throes with the earlier January photos. (You might want to flip between this post and that post for comparison.)

One man was standing at a corner near the store with a giant sign reminding drivers that Toys R Us is having its going out of business sale.

The signs in the Toys R Us window were cheerfully touting its products, especially with the upcoming Easter holiday.

It sounds strange to see a “Now Hiring” sign when the store was going out of business. I later read that Toys R Us was looking to hire temp workers who would help with winding down the stores.

One of its entrance doors didn’t work and it sported a handwritten “Out of Order” sign near the floor. Given the fact that this store will soon close, I don’t anticipate that door being repaired anytime soon.

Here is one of the signs announcing that this store was going out of business.

Despite the fact that the store would soon close, I saw a whole array of Easter-related candy, baskets, and toys available for sale.

I saw this sign promoting the Toys R Us mobile app that included a game. I wonder how much longer this app will work once Toys R Us closes its doors for good.


I read articles that said that one should expect empty shelves because a number of vendors had cut ties with the company before the company decided to close down. Sure enough, I saw far more empty and half-empty shelves than I did back in January.

There were a number of Toys R Us exclusives that were still in stock.

There were a number of toys that were still available the day I was there including dolls, action figures, stuffed animals, and more.

Compared with my earlier trip in January, I saw more people in the store this time as employees were busy and shoppers were milling around.

There was a long line at the checkout line. That was due to the fact that there were only two cashiers working the cash registers. They worked fast enough that I was only in line for about 15 minutes.

I made one purchase during that trip to Toys R Us.  It’s a Harley Quinn doll.

Here’s a photo of the entire long Toys R Us receipt.

Here’s a closeup of the top half of the receipt. This one is trying to encourage me to share my feedback about that store in order to have a chance to win a $500 Toys R Us gift card, which is pretty ironic since the entire store chain is in the process of closing. As for the Toys R Us gift card, I had heard that Toys R Us will soon stop honoring gift cards altogether.

Here’s the bottom of the receipt. I saw that same Harley Quinn doll at the Target that’s located closer to my home for $20.99. I had heard complaints that Toys R Us is more expensive than the other retailers but when I was there I saw that Toys R Us was selling that doll for the regular retail price of $19.99 (which was $1 cheaper than Target). With the going out of business sale, I got 10% off, which meant that I only paid $17.99 for the Harley Quinn doll, which meant that I save $2. Sweet!

When I was at Toys R Us in January I was offered a free frequent rewards card, which I took. I ended up not using that rewards card when I purchased the Harley Quinn doll because it would’ve been pointless since Toys R Us is closing soon. Here’s a photo of that card, which is colorful.

I never got around to completing my member enrollment online mainly because I rarely go to Toys R Us these days. It was just as well since it would’ve ended up being for naught.

This week Toys R Us put up this notice at its website announcing that it was no longer going to process online purchases and customers should go to the bricks and mortar stores if they want to purchase any remaining toys in stock.

Passover

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The Trumpdroid at Disney’s Hall of Presidents looks an awful lot like a hastily modded Hillarybot.

The truth behind “The Macarena” will leave your jaw on the floor.

Behold this one of a kind Krampus nativity set.

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Passover

The day after St. Patrick’s Day I helped a friend of mine with his booth at the annual Maker Faire NoVa that was held at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. I had attended previous STEM Maker events in Greenbelt, Silver Spring, and Washington, DC but it’s the first time I ever checked the Northern Virginia one. I have to admit that this event was the largest event of its kind that I had ever attended. To give you an idea as to how big it was, here’s a video I shot of this event.

And now it’s time for the still photos. I knew I had come to the right place when I saw this statue of George Mason (whom the university is named after) all dressed up for the occasion.

Maker Faire NoVa

Maker Faire NoVa

Maker Faire NoVa

These signs were further giveaways that I was at the right place.

Maker Faire NoVa

Maker Faire NoVa

The reason why I was there was that I was helping a friend of mine with his table. His name is Phil Shapiro and he frequently hangs out on YouTube and Twitter. He wanted to demonstrate Inkscape, which is the free open source alternative to Adobe Illustrator. He brought a couple of Linux laptops that he made available for people to use. At the last minute he decided to have one of those laptops run Tux Paint, which is a free open source graphics program that is made for kids under 7, which turned out to be a good move because a lot of visitors were kids. The kids seemed to really like Tux Paint so it was all good. In any case, here is what the sign looked like.

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Here are a few shots of the table that I took before Maker Faire NoVa opened to the general public.

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Here’s Phil Shapiro at one of the laptops setting everything up before the show began.

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And here’s Phil showing off the two laptops with Inkscape and Tux Paint to the general public.

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One of the many kids tried his hand at drawing with Tux Paint.

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Near our table was one that was manned by Bob Coggeshall, who’s famous in the Unix world for inventing the Unix command sudo.

Maker Faire NoVa

Maker Faire NoVa

There were all kinds of projects that were run off of Raspberry Pi, such as this vintage teletype.

Maker Faire NoVa

There were also all kinds of 3D printed projects that looked amazing.

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Maker Faire NoVa

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There was a refurbished gumball machine that dispensed 3D printed charms for only 50 cents.

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It was at that gumball machine where I made my one and only purchase from Maker Faire NoVa: A tiny 1-inch printed 3D printed Darth Vader who’s seated like a Buddha. I only paid 50 cents for this cool item.

Maker Faire NoVa, March 18, 2018

There were also some vintage bikes that the public can ride.

Maker Faire NoVa

Maker Faire NoVa

It was at Maker Faire NoVa where I got my first-ever real life glimpse of a Bitcoin mining machine.

Maker Faire NoVa

It was also at Maker Faire NoVa where I got my first glimpse of American Girl’s 2018 Girl of the Year doll. Her name is Luciana Vega, she’s into STEM and her big ambition is to be the first person to explore Mars.

Maker Faire NoVa

This boy was showing his work in progress on his latest project. He was in the process of building his own BB-8 robot from the Star Wars movies.

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Maker Faire NoVa

There was just a variety of things I saw at Maker Faire NoVa that were simply astounding.

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George Mason University’s Fairfax campus is pretty big. In fact, I think it may be as big as my own alma mater (University of Maryland at College Park). I briefly went through the campus Barnes & Noble store, which had copies of Michael Wolff’s controversial bestseller about Donald Trump’s first year in the White House called Fire & Fury.

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I really had a blast at Maker Faire NoVa. It helped that the weather was in the 50’s that day so I was able to wear a light jacket instead of my heavy winter coat for a change. I even saw my first robin of the year while I was walking around outside going from building to building while checking out the event. (The entire event was spread over four buildings.) Sadly that warm weather was a short-lived thing because the weather turned really cold and rainy the next day followed by a snowstorm.

The only downside about that event is that for about a couple of days before that event I started to have stuffed sinuses. By the time of that event my throat felt more scratchy as I talked more and more with the general public while I worked at Phil’s booth. My legs had grown stiff and sore by the end of the day due to the huge amount of walking and standing I did throughout the day. The following day I felt extremely tired and sick. I ended up spending most of the next week sleeping (with the exception of the couple of times I went out in the snow where I did some shoveling two days after Maker Faire NoVa). I even ended up skipping the big March for Our Lives on the following Saturday due to being sick. But the video, photos, and fond memories from Maker Faire NoVa made it all worthwhile.

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A few weeks ago I shot a video about this Fingerlings toy that I purchased known as Boris the Monkey. (In case you’ve missed last year’s news, Fingerlings were the hottest toy on the planet last December. They were sold out in stores everywhere and many people were selling them on eBay for at least several times over the original $15 retail price.)

More recently I went to Target while shopping for some needed items (such as a new bra to replace one of my bras that was so old that it literally fell apart on me). I happened to see that the store had just received a shipment of Fingerlings unicorns, including Gigi the Unicorn.

I was surprised to see Gigi the Unicorn on sale at Target because I remember reading last year that this particular unicorn was a Toys R Us exclusive. When I visited a local Toys R Us store last month, the only Fingerlings I saw on sale were the monkeys.

So when I saw Gigi the Unicorn, I was so excited to see her in person that I purchased it. I shot this video, which not only shows me unboxing that robot but also my reactions to experiencing a unicorn Fingerling for the very first time. The video ended with Gigi the Unicorn and Boris the Monkey getting together where I noticed that they tend to move their heads in synchronization and they will sometimes make similar noises (such as making a kissing sound). Well, anyway, here’s the video. Enjoy!

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