Last week I had to take my car to a dealer in Silver Spring because there was a recall on the steering wheel. After I had that fixed and picked up that car, I decided to chill out at a nearby Target store in Silver Spring. I normally don’t go to this particular store, mainly because there’s another Target that’s located closer to my home but I decided to go there since it was on the way back from the car dealership.

This particular Target has giant red cement dots outside its doors (which is a feature that the Target that is closer to my home doesn’t have). Normally I don’t pay attention to those dots but I saw that two of those cement dots have been converted to resemble the heads of Mario and Luigi from Super Mario Bros. and other numerous Nintendo video games.

The heads were there to promote the recently released Nintendo Switch console system.

I stepped inside the store where I noticed that this store is larger compared to the one I usually go to. It also had items on sale that I’ve never seen at the other Target, such as American Girl’s Wellie Wishers dolls.

Those dolls were released last year but it was the first time I had ever seen them in person. That’s because it’s been a year since I last set foot inside an American Girl Place. The next photo shows the clothes and other accessories that one can buy for a Wellie Wishers doll, which are priced somewhere between $20-25.

The Wellie Wishers are smaller than the other American Girl dolls. From what I’ve read, these dolls were created for kids who are younger than the larger dolls’ target audience of girls between the ages 8-12. These dolls have vinyl bodies (compared to the larger dolls’ cloth torsos) and they are depicted as being somewhere between the ages of 4-7 (while the larger dolls are supposed to be around 9 or 10 years old). At $60 per doll, they are definitely cheaper than the larger dolls’ $115 price. But these dolls are more expensive than the 18-inch Our Generation dolls that Target sells as its alternative to American Girl. (The Our Generation dolls are generally priced between $20-35 depending on how many accessories are included with a certain doll.) I still find them to be pretty cute and their clothes are very lovely and colorful.

I found this headline on PasteMagazine.com that says it all about Donald Trump’s first four months in the White House: Trump’s Presidency is the Dumbest Thing That Has Ever Happened.

One of the bushes on the side of my townhouse is blooming these really pretty flowers.

Some beautiful blooming spring flowers.

Some beautiful blooming spring flowers.

Last May I was briefly involved with a startup that was test-marketing disposable jumpsuits that were pre-treated with Sawyer Permethrin spray at the annual Loudon Lyme 10K/5K/1K Fun Run. I basically did administrative work (including helping with designing flyers, doing online research into filing for trademarks, and manually spraying each disposable jumpsuit with Sawyer Permethrin). During the course of my two weeks with that startup, I was convinced to write a blog post in this very blog about that startup instead of getting a separate blogging account just for that startup. (I was unable to get the owner/founder to devote any time to setting up that blog. In addition, he insisted on using my Square card reader that’s connected to my PayPal account because he couldn’t be bothered with getting a separate Square card reader/PayPal account for that startup.)

At one point he accused me of being secretive and he said that I couldn’t help it because of my birth order. The reason for that accusation: I hadn’t used my Square card reader in a while (due to the fact that I had to cut back on selling my handcrafted goodies at various shows because of declining sales after the 2008 economic crash) so, ON HIS REQUEST, I was silently trying to figure out how it worked. According to him, I was “secretive” because I didn’t orally announce within his earshot “I’m going to do Option A. If that doesn’t work I’m going to try Option B” and so on.

There were more incidents like that but I’m not going to get into any of them since I wrote all about it last year.

Ironically today is the one-year anniversary of the 2016 Loudon Lyme event. (This year’s event was just held on May 7. No, I didn’t attend this year.) A day or two after that event, the startup’s founder sent me a text message asking me what should have been done differently. I replied that maybe we should’ve started with a smaller run of 10-20 jumpsuits to test market instead of 60 jumpsuits we attempted to sell. That was when he sent me a multi-part text message accusing me of being into self-sabotage. (Never mind the fact that he was the one who didn’t register for a vendor booth and had this unrealistic expectation of selling stuff from backpacks.) This was on top of the fact that I was paid for the first couple of days I worked for him but the payments stopped because the founder had plowed the bulk of the startup money into getting 60 jumpsuits and Sawyer Permethrin.

I finally walked away from that startup a day or two after he accused me of being into self-sabotage when he sent another text asking me to show up at a few upcoming Lyme disease related events selling those jumpsuits from out of backpacks. (He didn’t register for vendor booths at those events either.) Between the self-sabotage insult and the fact that I wasn’t paid the rest of the money I was owed for the work I had done, I realized that I had no future with this startup. I wrote a retraction post where I announced that I would no longer write about work that I’m doing for other people in this blog until after the work was finished or there was some kind of a closure.

The startup founder eventually paid me the rest of the money he owed me last November. Granted six months is a long time to wait for a paycheck but at least he paid so I thought I had some closure on this startup.

But then there was new drama earlier this year when the founder had decided to try reviving the Sawyer Permethrin-sprayed jumpsuit idea on a Facebook page using a selfie I took of myself wearing one of the jumpsuits without asking permission first or even trying to get me to sign a release. I didn’t hear any further from my ex-boss for a while after that incident.

Yesterday was Mother’s Day and I spent the entire day basking in the sunshine while attending the annual Greenbelt Green Man Festival (which I’ll write about in a future post). I had brought my laptop with me so, from time to time, I posted some of my pictures from the previous day’s Gateway Arts Open Studio Tour (which I’ll also write about in a future post) on to various social media sites like Facebook. I saw a lot of people writing online Mother’s Day greetings and posting pictures of mothers with their children. Imagine my surprise when my ex-boss posted something outrageous on Facebook where he not only accused his sister of doing something horrible to their mother but he even posted personal information about her that should never have been posted online. I took a screenshot of that post, which you can see below. I edited out the personal information but you can still get an idea of what he wrote.

He not only named his sister but he posted her personal phone number and encouraged anyone who read that post on Facebook to call that number. In a nutshell, this post says a lot more about him than his sister. That post reminded me of last year’s Square card reader incident when he accused me of being secretive (and my birth order only confirmed his suspicion) because I didn’t verbally announce “I’m going to do Option A…”

What’s more, he immediately made this one comment where he only linked to the notorious documentary Grey Gardens. (For the record, I have never seen that documentary. I did see the made for HBO movie that featured Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore as the dysfunctional mother-daughter pair back when I was still happily married and we still had cable TV.) It’s like he’s cryptically implying that his mother is trapped into a similar dysfunctional relationship with his sister (I think but I don’t know what is going on inside that man’s head). That is so reminiscent of when he cryptically sent me that text asking for feedback on what we could’ve done differently at the Loudon Lyme event, I provided a straightforward opinion, and he responded with that multipart text saying that it was really a trick question because he expected me to write about my own mistakes and he accused me of being into self-sabotage.

Because of my past dealings with him, I’m not inclined to immediately side with him or even accept his version of events—especially since I have never met his sister or his mother. It’s possible that his sister is a total elder-abusing bitch but it’s also possible that she’s not doing anything wrong and it’s her brother who has issues with her for some reason that is none of my business.

If he has concerns about how his sister is taking care of their mother, he should seek legal advice from a lawyer instead of making that nasty post on Facebook urging anyone who sees that post to call his sister (regardless of whether that person even knows the sister or not).

If his sister ever finds that post, all she has to do is take a screenshot of that post, print it out, show it to a lawyer, and he could end up getting sued for things like libel, slander, and invasion of privacy.

Last night I sent an email about that post to a friend of mine, who was the one who recommended me for that job in the first place, because he is still housemates with my ex-boss and he rarely goes on Facebook these days. (Twitter is his preferred social media platform.) I wanted to warn him because there’s the chance that he may end up being indirectly involved with this drama, especially if his housemate’s sister decides to go by their house to confront her brother in person. He basically thanked me for alerting him to this.

I’m still looking for a new day job to replace that startup. (I’ve been applying to various temp agencies and employment agencies to no avail.) At least I have an unedited version of that screenshot that I could show to any hiring manager or recruiter who wanted to know more about that startup and why I had quit it after only two weeks because it basically proves what kind of person I was dealing with as my boss when I worked there. What’s more I can prove it using his own words that he wrote himself on Facebook.

I attended a benefit concert featuring my friends The Bachelor and the Bad Actress at the New Deal Cafe in Greenbelt, Maryland. It was a fundraiser to help pay off the medical bills of the Bachelor’s sister. (Even though she has health insurance, the hospital bills were still very expensive.) Here’s a photo of the duo on stage.

Here’s a short video I shot of the couple.

Mothers' Day

Here’s a special shoutout to all you mothers out there. Enjoy your special day!

If you’re not getting interviews, here’s how to fix your resume and cover letter.

What happened when 165 street artists took over an abandoned building in Berlin.

Hedge fund pushes online crafts retailer Etsy to explore sale because the company’s sales growth has slowed while costs has increased.

Google’s open source DIY kit turns a Raspberry Pi into an AI assistant.

How the Fyre Festival turned into a disaster when organizers blew all their money early on models, planes, and yachts.

Man who was suicidal runs marathon with the stranger who talked him down from a bridge.

Makeup bloggers turn against consumerism.

Over 10 years, Martha Stewart has quietly become the perfect blogger while other lifestyle bloggers have come and go.

Make the ultimate embroidery wall hanging with these free printable designs.

A woman who paints tiny masterpieces in an empty Altoids tin (including instructions on how to make your own tin painting kit).

Wendy’s mascot gets turned into a popular smug anime girl.

From sex trafficking survivor to restauranteur.

The next generation of robots will be remarkably human-like.

The Museum of Bad Art has been celebrating failure since 1993.

American Airlines gave its workers a raise. Wall Street freaked out.

Dig through the world’s largest sketchbook library.

Closing the gender gap in computer science begins in kindergarten.

How will low-wage workers survive in the age of the robots?

What photography can tell us about power and prejudice.

KFC has just published a ridiculously raunchy and bizarre romance novella starring a Casanova Colonel Sanders and you can now download it for free.

The definitive ranking of all 12 Star Wars movies.

Polish artist illustrates his fight against depression with these mysterious dark paintings.

A virtual holographic anime character named Azuma Hikari is a voice-powered virtual assistant who can also provide companionship for single men.

Benjamin Franklin

People who are wrapped up in themselves make small packages.

The late 1990’s-early 2000’s Internet was relatively crude compared to today. For one thing, there was no YouTube or Vimeo or Daily Motion or any other video sharing site. If you wanted to show videos online, you had to create your own website and learn how to embed HTML codes on your webpage that will make your video appear online for others to view.

If that weren’t enough, one also had to be aware of file sizes for each video he/she wanted to post online. Many ISP’s charged according to server space size as well as bandwidth (meaning how long it took to stream a video file online).

And then there were how people used to access the Internet online. While many universities and larger businesses had very fast broadband access to the Internet, this was a very expensive option that wasn’t available in all areas. As a result, most homes could only go online with a modem that was connected to phone lines. This meant that, for most Internet users, anything as sophisticated as video would take a very long time to download if a person’s sole access to the Internet was a 28.8 modem connected to a phone line.

As a result many video creators had to severely limit their videos by length (the shorter the video, the better), resolution (HD videos were definitely out of the question at this time because of insanely slow download times), and screen size (320 x 240 pixels was the most common screen size).

It was nearly impossible to watch a full-length feature film online using a modem connected to a phone line (unless you were willing to tie up your phone line for anywhere from 12-24 hours). But one enterprising site came up with this novel idea: doing parody movie trailers for non-existent films that lasted no more than a minute or two.

The result was Trailervision. I first read about this site in a magazine and I checked it out. Trailervision was the first video site I ever visited on a regular basis mainly because I could download the latest Trailervision videos in 20-30 minutes.

Trailervision was frequently hilarious as it skewered the various film and TV genres such as drama, science fiction, horror, and reality TV. That site was a perfect example of trying to do something unique, creative, and original with the limitations of the technology at that time.

Trailervision was fun while the videos were shown for free. I stopped visiting when Trailervision decided to switch to a paid subscription model where subscribers would be the first to get the latest videos while everyone else had to wait a while until Trailervision decided to release an older video for free viewing.

Trailervision is now defunct with only this Wikipedia page documenting the site’s onetime existence.  Fortunately one Trailervision fan has managed to gather many of the original videos and has created a YouTube playlist of Trailervision videos. Some of the humor is dated (especially the gags about AOL, modems, and the Y2K bug) but most of these trailers are still pretty funny and enjoyable after all these years. Here is that playlist for you to relive the glory days of Trailervision.

And if that playlist isn’t enough, a different fan has uploaded his/her own copies of the original Trailervision files on the YouTube channel TrailervisionLine.

On Inauguration Day, I made this post predicting that President Trump will not last past the end of his first term. One of the reasons I cited in that post is this:

9. There is the speculation about Donald Trump’s very cozy relationship with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Recently BuzzFeed posted this report claiming that the Russians have some embarrassing evidence about The Donald that they could potentially use against him. This could cause Americans to wonder if Donald Trump really has the interests of the United States in mind and would his relationship with Russia be construed as treason.

Well this Trump-Russian connection is like an ugly boil that comes closer to coming to a head. I’ve read both sides of the debate on whether Donald Trump is really cozy with the Russians and, if so, how much? I tried to keep an open mind even though I have a personal fantasy where The Donald’s sleazy past (including allegations that he raped a 13-year-old girl and the fallout from his ill-fated Trump University) catches up with him so much that he gets taken away in handcuffs.

I’ll admit that I’m leery about seeing Russia as the enemy because I grew up with that mindset thanks to the Cold War. Not only did that Cold War led to military buildups in both nations at the expense of social programs for its citizens but both nations interfered in the internal affairs of smaller countries like El Salvador, Hungary, Honduras, Czechoslovakia, Iraq, Poland, etc. The best benefit of seeing the Iron Curtain fall back int the 1990’s was that I could openly say that I like certain Russian foods or other aspects of Russian culture without having some knee-jerk asshole accuse me of being a communist.

But given all the revelations of the issue regarding Donald Trump and the Russians, I really can’t ignore this. Golf writer James Dodson said that three years ago Eric Trump told him that his father’s company had all the funding it needs to open new golf courses thanks to the Russians. That’s on top of the alleged existence of the FSB video that shows Donald Trump and some local prostitutes partying in a Russian hotel room, the FBI wiretapping Russian gambling ring headquartered at Trump Tower in New York City, and all that is just the tip of the iceberg.

Last night Donald Trump abruptly fired FBI director James Comey while he was investigating the alleged Trump-Russian ties. This firing happened just as Comey sought more funds so he could continue his investigation. This is definitely a throwback to my childhood when Watergate was the big scandal. This firing is similar to Richard Nixon’s firing of independent special prosecutor Archibald Cox while Cox was investigating Watergate. That incident is now known in history as the Saturday Night Massacre.

Nixon’s firing of Cox happened on October 20, 1973. That firing didn’t damper the ongoing Watergate scandal one bit and it led to Nixon’s resignation on August 8, 1974—nearly 10 months later.

When I learned about Trump’s firing of Comey, Archibald Cox was the first name that popped in my mind. Last night I was posting on Facebook trying to calm down my younger friends who were freaked out over this firing by providing my own memories of Cox’s firing and Nixon’s subsequent resignation, especially since they either weren’t born or they were babies when Watergate happened.

And speaking of Watergate, here is what former Nixon White House counsel John Dean had to say about this on Twitter:

Been so busy talking I haven’t tweeted. Two options explain Trump’s Comey action & both troubling: 1) STUPID and/or 2) EVIL. I think both!

When you have a former Nixon official tweeting this, you know President Trump is in very hot water.

And the Trump-Russia connection gets even more blatant today.

In what was supposed to be a closed-door Oval Office meeting between President Donald Trump and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, pictures have emerged of meetings between President Trump, Mr Lavrov and Russian Envoy Sergey Kislyak via Russian media and Russian government social media accounts.

The Russian-sourced pictures are the only public record of the meetings as of this writing, largely because members of the White House press pool — who are charged to report on the president’s whereabouts and what happens inside the White House — were not allowed into the meeting Wednesday morning. No photos were taken by the White House press of the president’s meeting with Lavrov and with Russian Envoy Sergey Kislyak.

Right now Washington is in an uproar over this abrupt firing but, given what I know from Watergate, this firing will only intensify the accusations against President Trump just like Cox’s firing intensified the Watergate accusations against President Nixon. All we have to do is bide our time and let the experts continue to investigate Trump’s alleged connections with the Russians. If history is any guide, it may get to the point where President Trump resigns or he gets impeached and imprisoned.

In the meantime, I’m laughing over this story of press secretary Sean Spicer hiding in a bush so he could avoid the reporters who want to question him regarding President Trump’s firing of James Comey. What a coward! (LOL!)

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