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Breathtaking portraits capture ballets’s finest dancing on the streets of New York.

The last surviving Basque soldier from the Spanish Civil War turns 100 and speaks about his experiences during that war.

How to fight the alt-right.

What happens when a musician plays Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “Pride and Joy” on a $25 kids’ guitar at Walmart.

White-washing white supremacy: How the mainstream media rushed to excuse the Covington Catholic High School students.

The “feel-good” horror of late-stage capitalism.

After decades of pushing bachelor’s degrees, the U.S. needs more tradespeople.

New study shows Silicon Valley’s elite are not as liberal as they think.

11 things you wouldn’t have without black women.

Iranian video game, Engare, explores the elegant geometry of Islamic art.

Liberals aren’t stupid. Conservatives aren’t racists. The people we disagree with are not our enemies.

The life and secrets of Melania Trump.

Between worlds: The art of Bill Traylor.

“Lean In” has been discredited for good.

When Native Americans were slaughtered in the name of “civilization.”

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Groundhog Day

The Smithsonian unveils a portrait of Henrietta Lacks, the black farmer whose cells led to medical miracles.

A 1950’s TV show had a villain named Trump who promised to save the world by building a wall.

Wedding photographer arrested after sleeping with guest, peeing on tree and threatening cops.

92-year-old doctor rides subway to work to see 200 patients and has no plans of retiring.

My evangelical church is gaslighting me, but I refuse to fall for it anymore.

Do missionaries help or harm?

Fortnite creator Tim Sweeney is buying thousands of acres of forest to stop it from being cut down.

The Kirsten Gillibrand saga highlights exactly what’s wrong with the Democratic party.

Here’s the video of the gender reveal in 2017 that started a massive wildfire in Arizona.

96-year-old style icon Iris Apfel gets the Barbie treatment.

Hitler and the Nazis were seriously into their amphetamines and opiates.

The woman who cared for hundreds of gay men as they were dying of AIDS.

Thirteen incredibly useful facts about anxiety.

Historian finds German decree banishing Donald Trump’s grandfather.

What is it like to live without any friends?

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How to play every classic video game on your phone.

Donald Trump was never vetted.

Millionaire bitcoin brat doesn’t get why we’re not all rich.

Hello Kitty and Pikachu are appointed Japanese ambassadors for the 2025 World Expo.

Rose McGowan and the worst kind of feminism.

What Amazon does to poor cities.

How the world’s oldest computer worked: Reconstructing the 2,200-year-old Antikythera Mechanism.

Employers are setting up workers for failure.

A driver’s suicide reveals the dark side of the gig economy.

The story of Mexican Coke is more complex than hipsters would like to admit.

How LA punks of the ’80s and ‘90s kept neo-Nazis out of their scene.

Meet Gay Bob, the world’s first gay doll for everyone—penis included.

Men have been pushing women out of tech since the beginning.

Hedge fund-driven austerity could come back to bite the hedge funds driving it in Puerto Rico.

The bankruptcy of the American left.

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This post is kind of special in a way. Not only is it the last of the purely winter holiday 2018 posts but it also marks Washington, DC when it was in the early days of the latest federal government shutdown.

When Donald Trump decided to refuse to sign any budget bills unless he gets his border wall on the U.S.-Mexico border (a demand that most experts say is a waste of money that won’t keep out illegal immigrants), the federal government underwent a shutdown. The Smithsonian and many of the other tourist buildings were able to remain open by tapping into some extra funds but they only had enough money to keep the buildings open until January 1. I decided to spend a day doing something fun downtown since it was still the winter holiday season and it would be my last chance to check out any of the government-funded buildings for a long time. (The federal government remains shut as of this writing.)

To make things even more fun, I decided to pack my latest doll, a Hairdorables Willow that I unboxed just a few days earlier on Christmas Day.

I headed to the Greenbelt Metro station where I saw that one of the periodical boxes has been refurbished as a Little Free Library. This particular one has mainly paperback books and magazines, which are perfect for commuters.

Here’s Willow standing near a giant panda bear statue advertising the annual Zoolights event at the National Zoo (which was among the places that remained opened until January 1). I’ve been to Zoolights other years (in 2012 and 2016) but I wasn’t able to squeeze in a trip this time due to tight finances. (Even though admission to the zoo is free, it still costs money to take the Metro to the zoo.)

I arrived at the U.S. Botanic Garden, which looked very festive for the holidays.

There was an outdoor toy train that rode around. There was an indoor toy train layout inside of the U.S. Botanic Conservatory building but there was such a long line that I decided to skip it and focus on the other exhibitions instead.

The cool thing about the U.S. Botanic Garden is that it has a special holiday display of replicas of various Washington, DC area landmarks that were all made from natural materials. These replicas were scattered throughout the building among the various flora and fauna. The next photo shows the newest of the Smithsonian buildings, the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Here’s the U.S. Capitol Building.

There were poinsettias in a variety of colors placed throughout the building.

The next few photos show a replica of the U.S. Supreme Court building.

Two topiary bears flanked a replica of Union Station.

There were a few Christmas trees placed throughout the Conservatory.

This photo shows the replica of the Library of Congress.

This photo shows the replica of the U.S. Botanic Conservatory building right inside of the real thing.

The next two photos show the replica of the White House.

Here’s a replica of the Washington Monument.

Willow the Hairdorables doll poses next to the Washington Monument replica.

A soon-to-be-furloughed Botanic Garden employee shows a few cocoa bean pods to visitors. (The building was crowded the day I went there.)

I also took photos of the various flora and fauna inside of the Conservatory.

A replica of two ships could be found among the flora and fauna.

The next few photos show a replica of the historic train station in Ellicott City, Maryland.

I shot a closeup of a wall that consisted only of pink poinsettias.

The outside of the U.S. Botanic Garden Conservatory building was festively decorated with two green wreaths.

Across from the Conservatory is another part of the U.S. Botanic Garden known as Bartholdi Park. The focal point of this park is a fountain that was sculpted by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, who also designed the Statue of Liberty.

The water was shut off for the winter but the fountain still looked impressive, especially paired with some nice cloud formations that were there when I shot these photos.

The last photo shows some winter cabbage that were planted near the fountain.

After my time at the U.S. Botanic Garden, I walked over to the nearby U.S. Capitol Building.

Here’s a photo of my Hairdorables Willow doll with the U.S. Capitol Building in the background.

Standing near the U.S. Capitol was the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree. It’s not quite as elaborately decorated as the National Christmas Tree that’s located near the White House (which I last visited in 2016 when Barack Obama still occupied the White House) but it’s charming in its own way.

I took another shot of my Hairdorables Willow doll next to both the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree and the U.S. Capitol Building.

As I was walking away from the U.S. Capitol, I took a nice photo of the National Mall at twilight along with some nice cloud formation.

Here’s another shot of my Hairdorables Willow doll.

I walked a few blocks to Union Station. The next photo shows that Union Station is located along a path that’s part of the East Coast Greenway.

The next photos show the outside of Union Station all decked out for the winter holiday season.

Here’s a shot of one of the giant wreaths as taken from inside of the archway leading to Union Station.

Each year the Norwegian Embassy puts up a large Christmas tree in Union Station that’s usually decked out with U.S. and Norwegian flags and various Norwegian-made ornaments.

Here’s the last photo I took of my Hairdorables Willow doll on this trip where she’s next to the Christmas tree.

The Norwegian embassy also puts up this elaborate toy train layout that’s based on the terrain of Norway and one can see toy trains running throughout this layout.

The one new thing I noticed about Union Station is that it now has a special virtual reality video game arcade.

This arcade sports a giant video game that bills itself as “The World’s Largest Pac-Man Game.” For only $1 per game, one can choose to play either Pac-Man or Galaga. I didn’t play on this gaming machine but I saw the tail end of one Pac-Man game while someone else took over the machine and chose to play Galaga instead.

The virtual reality area offered the chance to play vr versions of video games like Argyle Shift, Mario Kart, and Ski Rodeo. I didn’t try any of the games because, as you can see in the next photo, the prices were pretty expensive.

I ended my trip by buying sushi from the only Walgreens location that I know of that actually sells sushi. The sushi I had tasted pretty good.

Since I took those photos, the U.S. Botanic Garden is now closed due to the federal government shutdown. Yesterday I learned that unless Donald Trump relents and signs the federal bill, tomorrow will break the record for the longest federal government shutdown in U.S. history. Sigh!

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Santa Claus

Why did the Sony MiniDisc fail?

Here’s the surest sign we’re careening towards financial collapse.

The real architecture that inspired the superheroes’ home in Incredibles 2.

Why it’s time for the U.S. should consider closing its foreign military bases.

The Edict of Torda is a landmark in religious freedom.

Photographer captures what it’s like to be inside China’s ghost cities.

Donald Trump is destroying the GOP from the inside out.

Why government shutdowns are stupid.

Pymetrics attacks discrimination in hiring with AI and recruiting games.

Umberto Eco makes a list of the 14 common features of fascism.

The Trump Administration’s war on science agencies threatens the nation’s health.

Ten unexpected places to find great art in Washington, DC.

How the decline of unions is fucking the Democratic Party.

White Evangelicals, this is why people are through with you.

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I attended my first-ever Edcamp one month ago. I was accompanying Phil Shapiro, who needed some help with setting up this exhibit that he was displaying and I went along. He had also recently purchased this used smartphone off of eBay that can shoot 4K video and photos and he wanted me to handle photography/videography duties using that smartphone. (It was a Samsung Nexus and he got it cheap because it had a cracked screen.) This particular Edcamp was held at Loyola College’s campus in Columbia, Maryland.

Going there opened some family memories because I had a now-deceased uncle who attended the Loyola campus in Baltimore although I don’t recall ever hearing him reminisce about his days there when I used to visit him at various family gatherings. I only knew that he was a Loyola alumni.

The Columbia campus resembled a modern-day office building, which looked nice but it definitely didn’t look like a college or university. (I attended the University of Maryland at College Park, which has many brick buildings with Greco-Roman style columns.) When Phil and I arrived, we knew that we were in the right place because we saw these signs.

Edcamp at Loyola College, October 27, 2018

Edcamp at Loyola College, October 27, 2018

Edcamp at Loyola College, October 27, 2018

Edcamp provided a free breakfast of bagels and cream cheese. They had an opening session where the organizers greeted all of the attendees. Edcamp is definitely unlike any other conference I’ve ever been to. At an average conference, there are usually workshops, panels, and speeches that are planned and scheduled ahead of time. At Edcamp, workshops and other events aren’t planned ahead of time. Basically people show up and just volunteer to lead a workshop or panel based on an idea that he or she has suddenly come up with. While the breakfast and opening session is going on, volunteers start to create a schedule using Post-It Notes along with room assignments. The attendees could then take a picture of this schedule with their smartphones.

Edcamp, Loyola College, October 27, 2018

All of the attendees were given swag starting with this Northrop-Grumman bag.

Edcamp at Loyola College, October 27, 2018

Edcamp at Loyola College, October 27, 2018

Northrop-Grumman also provided this missile-shaped pen that has three separate inkwells in three different colors.

Edcamp at Loyola College, October 27, 2018

Edcamp at Loyola College, October 27, 2018

The bag was also filled with all kinds of goodies ranging from stickers and buttons to promo flyers for various education technology-related products.

Edcamp at Loyola College, October 27, 2018

Edcamp at Loyola College, October 27, 2018

Edcamp at Loyola College, October 27, 2018

What was really cool was that I got this free blank book that I could use as a sketchbook.

Edcamp at Loyola College, October 27, 2018

Edcamp at Loyola College, October 27, 2018

When Phil and I arrived at Loyola the first thing we did was to set up his exhibit in the designated hands-on room, which featured exhibits that people could touch and play with. Phil had something he called an Open Source Petting Zoo where all of the computers at that exhibit were running the Linux Mint operating system with various open source applications like Libre Office (which is an open source alternative to Microsoft Office) and Inkscape (which is an open source alternative to Adobe Illustrator).

Edcamp at Loyola College, October 27, 2018

There were people who were interesting in testing out the Open Source Petting Zoo.

Edcamp at Loyola College, October 27, 2018

The hands-on room had other things on display that people can look at, touch, and even play with.

Edcamp, Loyola College, October 27, 2018

Edcamp, Loyola College, October 27, 2018

Edcamp, Loyola College, October 27, 2018

Edcamp, Loyola College, October 27, 2018

 

Edcamp, Loyola College, October 27, 2018

Edcamp, Loyola College, October 27, 2018

 

Edcamp, Loyola College, October 27, 2018

Edcamp, Loyola College, October 27, 2018

You know that you’re at a technology-oriented conference when you see a robot.

Edcamp, Loyola College, October 27, 2018

Edcamp, Loyola College, October 27, 2018

I even got my first-ever look at the Google Cardboard. During the day I managed to use it to view 360 videos for the first time, which was pretty cool.

Edcamp, Loyola College, October 27, 2018

Once I managed to help Phil with setting up his Open Source Petting Zoo, he said that I was free to check out the rest of the conference. The one workshop I attended was about Google, which had one two other people, including the guy who was giving the workshop. We chatted a bit but it was pretty informal. When the first workshop ended it was time for lunch, where we had our choice of sandwiches that came from Jason’s Deli. During the lunch there was an impromptu panel that sprung up. Phil volunteered to be on the panel even though the topic wasn’t decided on until the last minute. So I sat in the audience and shot pictures of that workshop with the smartphone that could shoot 4K photos and videos.

Edcamp at Loyola College, October 27, 2018

So here’s Phil Shapiro in the middle in the next photo.

Edcamp at Loyola College, October 27, 2018

Here’s a wide shot of the entire panel.

Edcamp at Loyola College, October 27, 2018

Here’s another wide shot of the panel, this time with Phil Shapiro holding the microphone.

Edcamp at Loyola College, October 27, 2018

Here’s a closeup of Phil with the microphone.

Edcamp at Loyola College, October 27, 2018

I even got silly and switched to my own smartphone so I could take this last photo of the panel using my smartphone’s Hatsune Miku app.

Edcamp at Loyola College, October 27, 2018

After lunch I spent the rest of the afternoon checking out the hands-on room, which had a variety of neat things to try. It was raining on the day of Edcamp so it was no big deal spending the entire day indoors. I managed to get a glimpse of this lake with a walking tour that’s outside of the campus building. If the weather had been nicer, I definitely would’ve spent some time walking by the lake. Instead I had to settle for taking photos from outside of a window.

Edcamp at Loyola College, October 27, 2018

Edcamp at Loyola College, October 27, 2018

Edcamp also had a drawing for door prizes. When we first arrived we were all given raffle tickets that we could drop into any prize bag. One of the prize bags I put my ticket in was for this writing software that had me interested because I had majored in journalism in college. I won that prize. I received this bag that was clearly marked Loyola College.

Edcamp at Loyola College, October 27, 2018

Edcamp at Loyola College, October 27, 2018

When I pulled out the flyer I saw that this software was aimed at teaching students how to write. Except that I’m not a full-time professional teacher. I’ve taught Sunday school at my Unitarian Universalist church a number of years ago until I burned out after my second year and I quit after that. I’ve ran a Zentangle workshop for adults during the Enrichment Hour at the same church. I also served as an assistant teacher for the Takoma Park, Maryland chapter of Girls Who Code but that was a part-time gig and I wasn’t the main teacher. Phil said that he might find a use for it. I hope so because I would hate to waste this prize.

Edcamp at Loyola College, October 27, 2018

Edcamp ended around 2 or 3 p.m. so I helped Phil with dismantling his Open Source Petting Zoo and put everything in his car. I was glad that he was driving that day because it was raining like crazy that day. Afterwards Phil was interested mainly in the 4K video I had shot that day. Of the footage I provided to him, he chose to highlight only two of the videos that I made on his own YouTube channel. One was of people checking out something called Merge Cubes in the hands-on room.

The other was of people testing this kit where kids can easily create their own video games.

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I attended my first-ever meetup of a group known as District Creatives. I’m trying to expand my network of people that I know so I can take advantage of whatever opportunity comes my way. I ended up leaving for DC a few hours early mainly because I wanted to avoid paying the higher rush-hour Metro fares commuting to and from the event. (I managed to do that, which made me happy.)

I decided to take the Metrobus to the Metro station instead of driving because a roundtrip Metrobus fare is only $4 while parking in the Metro station parking lot costs $5.20. Since I was attending a meet-up for a group that is interested in using technology in a creative manner, I decided to bring my Makies doll, Victoria, since she was printed on a 3D printer to my specifications and I customized her. It’s only too bad that Makies as a company no longer exists. In any case, here she is at the bus stop.

Here she is riding the Metro subway. I only brought her along as a potential conversation starter. I ended up not using her at all during the meet-up.

I arrived at the Eastern Market Metro station. I had a few hours to kill so I decided to walk around the area while taking pictures.

The next photo shows the historic Eastern Market. It’s a pretty popular food market area, especially on the weekend when there are local artisans who sell their wares outside of the building.

Here are a few shots inside of Eastern Market. They sell all kinds of fresh foods but the prices are a big high compared to the grocery stores in the suburbs.

I walked around Capitol Hill while I saw that some of the houses were decorated for Halloween.

The homes in Capitol Hill are known for their gardens. Even though these photos were taken in mid-October, there were still plenty of flowers in bloom.

When I came upon this street sign noting Tip’s Way, I thought it was in honor of the late former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill. A quick Internet search revealed that Tip’s Way was really named after a Capitol Hill lobbyist named E. Linwood “Tip” Tipton.

The next photo shows that Tip’s Way is basically an alley.

The house located next to Tip’s Way was all decked out for Halloween.

The one thing I noticed about Capitol Hill is that there are some subtle forms of resistance against Donald Trump and his administration in the form of the residents posting signs in their yards. The majority of them contained quotes on social justice from Martin Luther King, Jr.

I also saw some anti-Trump graffiti in the area as well.

One front yard had a Little Free Library box that was flanked by two signs featuring Martin Luther King quotes.

I took a rest inside of the Southeast Neighborhood Library, which was a nice and cozy place.

I took one final photo of Victoria reading a book. Like I wrote earlier, I brought her along as a potential conversation starter (since she was printed on a 3D printer) but I ended up not using the doll at all.

This library posted a notice on how to spot fake news and the characteristics of fake news vs. the real thing.

The meet-up was held inside of a digital design firm known as Taoti Creative. That firm had a giant spider outside that was put up just in time for Halloween.

They had a Minion serve as the receptionist. (LOL!)

Taoti Creative is located inside of a historic building. It’s a really cool mix of technology with history.

They had a bulletin board with the question “What makes me creative?” where people could write their answers on Post-It Notes then post it on the board.

Here’s my answer, where I wrote “The ability to create something from out of nothing.”

The next two photos show other people’s answers to that question.

The bathrooms also had showers, which may indicate that this building was once a private home.

The conference rooms are all named after Metro station stops.

The basement of the building included a Nintendo Wii with a Guitar Hero game and controllers and an air hockey table.

The bulk of the festivities took place on the rooftop of the building where, in good weather, one can see spectacular sunsets.

The tall thin structure on the left in the next photograph is the Washington Monument.

I was also able to check out the restaurant located next to Taoti Creative, including a giant mural and some of the TV screens on the upper level.

The white dome on the right is the U.S. Capitol Building.

Here’s another shot of the Washington Monument (located on the left) at sunset.

There were also a bunch of cranes among the skyline. I know that the entire city of Washington, DC has been going through many building projects in recent years.

There was a computerized beer keg complete with a computer screen.

There was a serious game of Jenga that was also going on where people played with a giant version of the game.

I shot a short video of one of the Jenga rounds that took place that night.

I managed to socialize with a few people even though meeting new people at a party doesn’t come naturally to me. But I made an effort to be sociable. Eventually I grew tired plus I was using public transportation to go from my home to the event and back again so I couldn’t stay too late. (I know that the party ended at 10 p.m. but some people were planning on checking out some of the trendy bars in Capitol Hill. Even if I wasn’t relying on public transportation, money is still too tight for me to do much bar crawling.) Here’s a shot of the Taoti Creative building that I took when I was on my way back to the Eastern Market Metro station.

Here’s a shot of the rooftop where most of the action took place.

The last two photos show the giant spider that lurked outside of Taoti Creative.

So that’s it for my attending the District Creatives meetup at Taoti Creative.

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Today’s prompt word for Inktober is “drain.” The only thing I could think of was this classic 1980s era arcade game called Bubbles, where you had to guide a bubble around a sink while cleaning up dirty spots and ants. The more dirty spots and ants it picked up, the larger your bubble will grow and it will eventually get a face as well. Meanwhile you had to make sure that your bubble dodges cockroaches, scrubbing brushes, and a razor blade because if you touch any of them, your bubble would burst and you would lose a life. Once your bubble reaches a certain size, you can guide it towards the drain where you would go down the drain and onto the next level. It’s definitely one of the wackier games I’ve played. I vaguely remember playing this game back in the arcades but I’m not 100% sure. (I’ve played so many arcade video games back in the 1980s that it can be a bit challenging trying to remember them all.) I currently have this game on the Midway Arcade Treasures compilation disc for the Playstation 2 and it’s definitely a hoot playing it.

As of today I’m now two-thirds done with Inktober. I only have 10 more days to go until this is completely finished.

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UCLA has a digital archive of over 1,800 children’s books dating from 1728-1999.

Americans are receiving unordered parcels from Chinese e-criminals and they can’t do anything to stop them.

An explanation on what is an animation pipeline.

A study shows that most artists make very little money, with women faring the worst.

Galapagos finches are caught in the act of becoming a new species.

Why incompetent people think they are amazing: An animated lesson from David Dunning (of the famous Dunning-Kruger Effect).

True self-care is not salt baths and chocolate cake, it is making the choice to build a life you don’t need to regularly escape from.

Time capsule letters from the 18th century found in the butt of a Jesus statue.

Check out these crochet amigurumi toys based on video game characters like Plants vs. Zombies and Super Mario Bros.

Everything you always wanted to know about the Krampus but were afraid to ask.

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