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A look at the digital ruins of a forgotten future called Second Life.

U.S. mints coins for Donald Trump-Kim Jong Un summit that might not happen.

Fewer tourists are coming to the U.S. and experts say that it’s largely Trump’s fault.

Barbie “Shero” doll with a hijab honors Olympian Ibtihaj Muhammad.

Martin Luther King may have been killed by a Memphis police officer, not James Earl Ray.

How white Americans used lynchings to terrorize and control black people.

Laminated jewelry crafted from vintage books by Jeremy May.

A look at the guerrilla grafting movement—secretly grafting fruit-bearing trees onto ornamental city trees in order to feed the poor.

A Princeton sociologist spent 8 years asking rural Americans why they are so pissed off. Hint: It’s not about the economy.

The surprising secret to aging well.

New York City has genetically distinct “uptown” and “downtown” rats.

Why the DNC is fighting WikiLeaks and not Wall Street.

How Australia all but ended gun violence.

83,500 vintage sewing patterns put into online database from Vogue, McCall’s, Butterick, and Simplicity.

Stunning images of pagan costumes worn at winter celebrations around the world.

Watch the illustrated version of “Alice’s Restaurant,” Arlo Guthrie’s Thanksgiving Counterculture Classic.

The bots that are changing politics.

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So on the Saturday after Thanksgiving I decided to go to Baltimore in order to check out the Christkindlesmarkt at the Zion Lutheran Church. I made every effort to get out of the door soon after I finished eating lunch. But then there were a lot of hassles. First I hit this awful traffic jam going northbound on the highway. I made it to the North Linthicum light rail station only to encounter a bit of a wait for the next light rail train.

I got off at Lexington Market in order to transfer to the Metro subway. But I encountered a long wait for the next subway train. I boarded it and made my way to the Shot Tower Metro station. I walked around the Shot Tower area in order to find the church. By the time I arrived at the church, I only had 45 minutes to check out the Christkindlesmarkt until the event closed for the day. So I was kind of disappointed over not having as much time to spend at that event as I wanted so I decided to hop on the next Charm City Circulator bus over to the Christmas Village in Baltimore where I ate dinner and looked around the area. At least I could more leisurely look everywhere compared to what happened at the other event since the Christmas Village was opened until well into the evening.

After I got my fill of the Christmas Village, I decided to briefly walk around the Inner Harbor where I took these spectacular photos of Baltimore Harbor itself both at twilight and after dark.

I noticed that Baltimore now has a bike sharing program of its own. (The DC area has had such a program for the past few years.)

Here’s a closeup of the wheel cover of one of these bikes that shows an illustration of the Baltimore skyline.

Here is one of the lights that were on display near the Inner Harbor.

I went to Harborplace mainly because I needed to use the restroom before getting back on the light rail. The only store I visited there was It’s Sugar because that store is always such a hoot to visit, such as these Christmas and Hanukkah Emojis lollipops that were on sale.

The store sometimes sells items that really reflect the politics of the day, such as the orange-flavored gummy Donald Trump candy.

Of course that store had a variety of Christmas and Hanukkah candy available for sale.

The weirdest thing I saw there was these dinosaur chopsticks where the dinosaur’s mouth moved every time you open and close the chopsticks.

They also had sushi made from candy (instead of fish). They would be appropriate with the dinosaur chopsticks.

They had beer-flavored gummy bears in these beer glasses. What’s more, they had white-colored gummy bears at the top so it would resemble beer foam and amber colored bears resembling beer.

I didn’t buy anything at It’s Sugar this time around since I had already spent enough money elsewhere. As I was walking back to the Camden Yards light rail station so I could take the next train out of the city, I walked past the historic Old Otterbein United Methodist Church. Here’s a shot of the church steeple as it was lit against the night sky.

The church sign had a pretty interesting message for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

So that’s it for my huge trip to Baltimore on the Saturday after Thanksgiving Day.

So I ended up spending the Saturday after Thanksgiving in Baltimore. I originally intended to spend the entire time at the annual Christkindlesmarkt that was held at Zion Lutheran Church. But then I got stuck in a horrible northbound traffic jam. I reached the North Linthicum light rail stop and I had to wait a bit for the next light rail train. I transferred to a Metro subway train and I had a long wait. So I managed to make it to the Shot Tower Metro station and walked through the area. By the time I made it to the church I only had 45 minutes left to enjoy the sights and sounds of Christkindlesmarkt.

As I left the church I took a photo of this magnificent cloud formation that was over by Baltimore City Hall (which is literally located just a few steps away from Zion Lutheran Church).

As I was walking away from the church, I couldn’t help but take a picture of this sign for an apartment building that should be of interest for anyone who knows anything about Edgar Allan Poe.

As a consolation for not spending as much time at the Christkindlesmarkt event as I would have liked, I decided to hop on the next Charm City Circulator down to the Inner Harbor, where I went to an annual event that’s similar to the one at Zion Lutheran Church except that it’s bigger—Christmas Village in Baltimore.

It was the opening weekend for this event and it’s currently running on a daily basis until Christmas Eve. (This year is the fifth year that it’s operating.) I took a lot of pictures while I was there.

The next photo shows the Advent wreath. The electric candles were dark when I was there because Advent wouldn’t begin for another week.

The woman with the long golden curly hair and the gold clothes was the Christkind who came from Nurenberg, Germany to help with the opening ceremony of the Christmas Village in Baltimore.

There was live entertainment inside of the tent.

There was a variety of stuff available for sale.

I was there on the first day that the Christmas Village in Baltimore opened for the first time. Even though most of the lights were up, the Christmas tree was dark because the tree lighting ceremony was scheduled for the following night, which I wasn’t able to go to.

As I walked away from the Christmas Village in Baltimore towards Harborplace, I saw these signs pointing in the direction of the place I had just left.

I ate a bratwurst platter with sauerkraut for dinner while I was there. The only other purchase I made was a pack of lavender scented incense that I bought from the Käthe Wohlfahrt area of the tent, which sold a variety German handcrafted items ranging from tree ornaments to nutcrackers. (I don’t have any pictures from that area because it had a “No Photography” sign posted on the outside.)

So after I left the Christmas Village in Baltimore I headed over to Harborplace, which I’ll write about in my next post.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I so much walking and picture taking around Baltimore on the Saturday after Thanksgiving that I had to break it up into multiple posts. Here is what happened. I decided to check out the Christkindlesmarkt that was held at Zion Lutheran Church. I left around 1 p.m. but the traffic going northbound was awful. It took me way longer to even reach the city than usual. I managed to make it to the North Linthicum light rail stop then switched at Lexington Market to the Metro subway stop. While I was on my way to the Metro subway stop, I took a couple of pictures.

This sign announced that I was in “The Bromo.” I know that the Bromo Seltzer clock tower is in the general area (except it’s located south of Lexington Market) but I had never heard of anyone referring to that area as “The Bromo” before I saw this sign. But someone has officially dubbed it as so.

I also saw that someone had started something called the Baltimore Star Walk, which is supposed to highlight native Baltimoreans who have had successful careers. (It’s like the famed Hollywood Walk of Fame.) John Waters was the only star I found in the Lexington Market area.

The entire area around Lexington Market was once a very thriving shopping district. Based on the few youthful memories I have of actually visiting that place with my mother (my parents weren’t too keen about taking any shopping trips to Baltimore when I was growing up in Glen Burnie), I remember that there were stores around Lexington Market. These days many of these storefronts are boarded up (even though Lexington Market itself is still going strong). Despite the boarded up dreariness of the area, someone has attempted to wrap red ribbons around the light poles in an attempt to make the area look more Christmas festive.

So I made my way to the Metro station where I had a long wait. (This was on top of having to wait through the highway traffic jams.) I was eventually able to ride a subway to the Shot Tower stop. Here’s a photo of the Shot Tower itself on a very cloudy day.

Near the Shot Tower is the Baltimore City Fraternal Order of Police memorial.

I saw a billboard in the distance announcing the imminent arrival of legalized medical marijuana in Maryland.

Here are some trees with their full fall colors.

I briefly walked past a few other Baltimore landmarks.

I also came upon the Baltimore Heritage Walk markers embedded in the sidewalk. I saw them every few feet in both English and a variety of different languages.

So I eventually made it to the Zion Lutheran Church then I went on to the Christmas Village in Baltimore and visited the Inner Harbor.

This is yet more drama featuring a person whom I briefly worked with at a startup that ultimately went nowhere last year. I got the job because the entrepreneur/owner of that startup is housemates with a friend of mine. I basically did administrative work where I helped with designing promotional materials for this new startup as well as doing research on things like obtaining trademarks. I also spent a lot of time helping with creating prototypes for this startup’s product, which would be rolled out at the annual Loudon Lyme 10K/5K/1K Fun Run.

There were problems with this startup. I made the mistake of letting him talk me into writing a post in this blog about the startup instead of getting a separate blogging account that would be just for that startup. (The entrepreneur/owner couldn’t be bothered with getting such an account.) In addition he wanted to use my Square card reader with my linked PayPal account instead of getting a separate Square card reader/PayPal account just for that startup.

So we were preparing for the Loudon Lyme 10K/5K/1K event and I naturally assumed that we would have a vendor booth. It wasn’t until just two days before the event when he told me that he didn’t get a vendor booth. Basically I learned that his entire sales strategy consisted of this: Never register for a vendor booth at any event. Instead, just show up with backpacks full of wares, open the backpacks and sell your wares. I was appalled (especially since I had helped with creating brochures that I assumed would be displayed on a table) but, by that point, I had committed to this event.

To make a long story short, this sales strategy was a disaster and we didn’t sell anything. A few days later he sent a multi-part text message essentially blaming me because I was into “self-sabotage.” (Never mind the fact that not even registering for a vendor booth at an event is the ultimate in self-sabotage.) The following day he sent another text asking me to show up at some upcoming Lyme events where I would sell my wares from out of backpacks.

By that point I hadn’t been paid for most of the work I had done and he said that I would only get paid if I did those events. Of course he asked me after he accused me of self-sabotage. I decided to bail at this point. I even wrote a retraction post taking back everything I had ever written in that previous post the entrepreneur/owner wanted me to write while, at the same time, I announced a new policy where I would no longer write about any ongoing projects I do for other people in this blog until after they are completed. (I would be more than happy to help with setting up a separate blogging account for anyone who wants me to write work-in-progress posts.)

My former boss eventually paid me the rest of the money that he owed me six months later so I thought there were closure. But then this year began when he attempted to restart his business on Facebook using my selfie that I had taken without even asking me permission first.

But now he’s engaged in some family drama with his sister over their mother and I only know about it because he has taken it to Facebook. On Mother’s Day I saw that post in my own newsfeed where he not only has hurled accusations against his sister but he printed her name and telephone number and he encouraged anyone reading his message to start calling her.

Since that time he would occasionally write on Facebook about how horrible his sister is for somehow not letting him visit or even speak on the phone to their mother but at least he hadn’t named her or posted her phone number. I haven’t bothered with writing new posts about what he had written because I just don’t want this blog devolving into a glorified “Shit My Ex-Boss Says About His Sister on Facebook.”

But then Thanksgiving Day happened and here’s a heavily edited screenshot of what he posted about his sister.

He asked prayers for his sister while posting a horrible accusation against her plus posting her name and telephone number! If that’s not passive-aggressive behavior, I don’t know what is.

I’m not inclined to immediately side with him because I remember when he not only accused me of being into self-sabotage on the day of that Loudon Lyme 10K/5K/1K Fun Run but there was another incident that occurred while I worked for him. He wanted to use my Square Card reader with my associated PayPal account instead of getting his own Square Card/PayPal for his startup. I hadn’t used that reader in a while so I was trying to figure it out. There were some glitches and the boss started to get angry with me until we figured out what was going on. He accused me of being secretive because, while I was figuring out how that Square Card reader worked (which I was doing on HIS request), I was doing it without verbally announcing “I’m going to try Option A first. If that doesn’t work, then I’ll try Option B…” and so on.

On top of it, he then insulted me by saying that I’m naturally secretive because of my birth order. He was the first person I had ever worked for on a professional level who had made my birth order an issue.

So, yeah, I’m not going to immediately take his side, especially since I have never met either his sister or his mother so I don’t know the whole story. For all I know, his accusation against his sister could be as outrageously untrue as when he accused me of being secretive and engaging in self-sabotage.

All I know is that what he’s doing to his sister is called doxing. The minute he started posting her name and personal phone number on Facebook is the minute that he has lost whatever moral high ground he had stood on this issue. Doxing his sister on Mother’s Day didn’t help with solving the dispute he has with her so I don’t know why he thinks that doxing his sister again on Thanksgiving Day would result in anything different.

In fact, what he has done has only exposed him to a potential lawsuit because if his sister ever finds those posts, all she has to do is take screenshots, print them out, then show them to a lawyer. What’s more, it’s possible that there is a Facebook friend who is still friendly with both siblings and that person could easily send a message along with a screenshot of that post to the sister saying “Hey, check out what your brother has been posting about you on Thanksgiving Day!”

I sent the link to my ex-boss’ Facebook post in an email to my friend on Thanksgiving Day because I felt he needed to know what his housemate did. Since they share the same roof, there’s a very small chance he could be affected by whatever legal outcome could arise from that post.

I’m not totally unsympathetic to my ex-boss’ plight. If it is true that his sister is indeed trying to prevent anyone from seeing their mother, then he seriously needs to see a family lawyer who is well-versed in eldercare issues instead of posting his sister’s name and telephone number on Facebook. Doxing his sister on various holidays is not only an ineffective strategy but it’s also a lawsuit waiting to happen.

I’m just glad I walked away from his startup when I did. If he would engage in doxing against his own sister, I would hate to find out what he would’ve done to me if we had engaged in a really nasty dispute. What’s more, I now have an unedited version of that Thanksgiving Day screenshot along with the Mother’s Day screenshot that I can use on future job interviews in case anyone asks about why I left that startup because I now have evidence showing the type of person I was working for in his own words.

Yesterday I spent Thanksgiving with the family in the home of one of my cousins. The night before I decided to try my hand at decorating an edible house. I purchased this Hershey’s Chocolate Cookie Mini House Kit from a local Five Below store for only $5.

This kit has everything needed in order to construct that house so I didn’t have to worry about doing the old fashioned baking method. All I had to do was just construct it and decorate it. The next few photos show the results of my decorating, which you can compare to the photo of the house that’s on the box in the above photo.

Okay it’s pretty obvious that I’m not a professional cake decorator. (LOL!) But my family still liked my effort and that’s the only thing that matters.

I parked my car near one of her neighbors and I took a photo of their tree in its glorious fall colors.

My cousin’s neighbors love to decorate their home for nearly every single holiday—both major and minor. I’ve taken pictures of their Thanksgiving decorations before but it looks like they have added yet another inflatable decoration.

The little turkey in the next picture is one that I think is new. Or I have never seen this particular inflatable bird in any of my previous photographs I’ve taken of that house.

My cousin has undergone some changes regarding her pets. Years ago she and her husband adopted two puppies and two kittens over a one- or two-year period. The big advantage is that the pets grew up as siblings and they basically tolerated each other. The big disadvantage is that all four pets have died close together. It started with Cookie the cat in 2015. Then the family went through 2016 with just three pets. 2017 became the year they lost the rest of their original four pets. Gonzo the dog died in March. Soon after Gonzo’s death, my cousin and her husband decided to adopt a new dog (which I’ll write more about later in this post). So their pet count went up to two dogs and one cat. During the Labor Day holiday weekend my cousin made a sad post on Facebook announcing that Lucy the dog had died as well.

So I arrived at her house expecting to see the new dog and the last of the original four pets, Purdy the cat. That cat had long acted very regally as if she is the Queen of the House. (Heck, I even once dedicated a post to Purdy’s regal ways.) When I asked my cousin about Purdy I learned that the cat had died as well. Apparently her health underwent a major decline over the past few months and it got to the point where putting her to sleep was the only option. My cousin admitted that she didn’t mention Purdy’s death on Facebook because she was afraid that her Facebook friends would start to wonder why her family had lost three pets in the same year. I can understand her rationale because not everyone would’ve known that the reason why this happened is that the pets were close in age and they arrived at the home around the same time. In any case, here are a couple of photos I took of the late Purdy in happier days.



So now the original four pets are all gone. But they have one new dog, who was adopted earlier this year after Gonzo the dog died. Her name is Layla and she is a year-and-a-half old. Layla is also incredibly shy. This next photo is the only decent shot I was able to get of her while she was resting in my cousin’s husband lap.

Let me explain why Layla seems to have a purple spot on her forehead. (No, she’s not some rare purple-spotted breed.) My cousin’s husband has this penchant for dying a dog’s hair in a variety of funky colors on special occasions using food coloring. He used to frequently do this to Lucy, which you can see in this photo.


The only dog he never did this to was the late Gonzo and that was because he had black fur.

Basically I visited with my family and socialized with my mother. Her health hasn’t changed much. She’s not getting better but she’s not getting worse either, which is all I can hope for at this point. (She has multiple sclerosis, which has no cure.)

American Flag

Today’s the day where many of us will eat turkey and pumpkin pie until we are totally stuffed. For this occasion I made this new ink drawing. It’s the first new ink drawing I made in my small sketchbook since Inktober ended on Halloween.

This drawing was based on my photograph of two turkeys that were on display last year at the Greenbelt Farmers Market. The drawing was relatively easy to do because both turkeys had white feathers. (They were domestic turkeys whose owners had raised as free range birds—meaning they were actually allowed to roam around outside instead of spending their entire lives being cooped up in small cages located on top of each other.)

What am I thankful for this year? My family and friends who continue to stick by me long after I endured that awful drama regarding my divorce and my ex-husband’s antics (such as sending me a divorce petition in a .pdf format that was attached to an email that was sent on Christmas Eve). I’m also grateful to new people whom I continue to meet on a regular basis, many of whom are basically decent people. There are so many people in my life whom I’m grateful for that I literally can’t name them all because I know that there would be a few names whom I would inadvertently leave off my list. I just want to say that I love you all.

I’ve learned via Facebook that one of my cousin’s dogs have just passed away. His name was Gonzo and he was 15 years old. I have a few photos of that dog that I took when I visited my cousin’s home on Thanksgiving Day back in 2013. It was a time when I had purchased my current smartphone the day before (a Droid Ultra) because my previous smartphone had literally died. (In a weird irony, that smartphone totally died a day or two after I received a flyer from Verizon saying that I now qualify for a new smartphone. So I ended up purchasing a smartphone the day before Thanksgiving.) I was playing with the camera feature when I took pictures of my cousin’s pets, including Gonzo.


Gonzo was an all-black furry dog and he could be hard to photograph at times. Here’s another shot of Gonzo with the other dog, Lucy.


When I took those two photos back in 2013 my cousin had two dogs and two cats. Since then one of the cats, Cookie, has died and now Gonzo is dead. So my cousin is now down to one dog and one cat.

I spent Thanksgiving Day visiting my mom at my cousin’s house. Other relatives were there as well. It was a pretty nice occasion and I enjoyed myself.

Someone brought this card game called Game of Phones, which requires using a smartphone to play. I took a brief look at the cards but I left before anyone decided to actually play the game.




One of my cousin’s neighbors likes to decorate his home for all of the holidays. Here is what it looked like during the day when I first arrived.



Here is a final shot of the same home at night.


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