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Ramadan

This week the Internet lost its mind for three reasons—two of which were legitimate and the other will have you go WTF?!?

The first legitimate reason was the opening of the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, which is a decision that is so controversial and such a hot flashpoint among the Israelis and Palestinians that the vast majority of other countries prefer to have their embassies stay put in Tel Aviv. A group of mostly unarmed Palestinians peacefully protested that embassy opening and it led to Israeli troops firing weapons on them, killing and injuring many Palestinians. Of course this brutal attack on unarmed protesters were rightfully condemned on social media and in real life. There were even a group of Jewish protesters who blocked a major thoroughfare in DC in protest against what happened to the Palestinians.

The second legitimate reason why the Internet blew up was over this video that had suddenly gone viral for the most insane reason. Basically a New York lawyer named Aaron Schlossberg was in a local fast food place where he heard some employees speaking Spanish amongst themselves and he literally exploded in this crazy rage that was caught on video, uploaded online, and suddenly went viral.

Then this photo surfaced of Schlossberg attending a rally in New York City in May, 2017 where he’s standing next to a man holding a sign that’s written in Hebrew. This guy goes off on a couple of fast food workers for speaking Spanish amongst themselves because he believes that everyone should be speaking English since they are in America yet he has no problem with standing next to a guy with a sign that’s also written in a foreign language (Hebrew).

An earlier video from 2016 have also surfaced on Twitter where Schlossberg called a white man from Massachusetts “an ugly fucking foreigner.”

Since that time Schlossberg has had to deal with trolls giving his law firm negative reviews on Yelp, someone starting a GoFundMe page that would raise enough money to hire a mariachi band and a taco truck that arrive outside of his office, being kicked out of his office space, and having to dodge reporters by cowering under his oversized umbrella.

I can understand why the Internet went in an uproar over those two stories. Having military troops firing heavy artillery at mostly peaceful unarmed protesters is wrong. Adam Schlossberg is a total asshole for thinking that he has the right to publicly bully anyone whom he thinks is a foreigner (with the exception of anyone who speaks Hebrew, which is a foreign language just like Spanish) even though his targets are basically law-abiding people who just want to go on with quietly living their lives.

But the third story this week is one that has also gotten as much attention as the other two and it has me totally annoyed: Does a certain sound clip sound like the word “Yanny” or the word “Laurel?” I first heard about this when one of my Facebook friends posted this sound clip on her wall asking what does it sound like. Half of us answered “Laurel” while the other half answered “Yanny.” Okay I thought it sounded innocuous.

But then this whole Laurel or Yanny sound bite exploded on the Internet to the point where people are actually spending time arguing over what is the actual word being spoken. It has gotten mainstream media attention. The U.S. military issued an apology over a tasteless joke conflating bombing the Taliban in Afghanistan with Laurel or Yanny.

It reminds me of a similar argument three years ago over the colors of a certain dress and I found that argument to be just as annoying as this current argument over a sound bite. I have no problem with people being passionate over the recent bloodshed in Gaza or Aaron Schlossberg because those are legitimate issues. But if you’re risking longtime close relationships over your stance on a stupid issue like Laurel or Yanny, you are a pretty pathetic person who needs to step away from the computer and go outside for a while (while leaving your mobile devices indoors).

Ironically I found this very interesting article on Snopes about the origins of the Laurel or Yanny debate and how it’s scientifically possible for two people listening to the same audio to hear different words. But this debate does NOT deserve to have as great importance as the killings in Gaza or the openly public racist rants of Aaron Schlossberg.

And, no, I have no intention of divulging whether I really heard Laurel or Yanny because I am really not in a mood for a drawn-out debate on something that’s totally frivolous like the Laurel or Yanny issue.

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I was born in Baltimore. I lived there until I was five years old, when my family moved to the nearby suburban town of Glen Burnie. My parents kept on telling me how good I had it in Glen Burnie even though the kids called me “retarded” and many of them refused to have anything to do with me from elementary school all the way to high school. My mother used to tell me that having nice things was more important than having friends while I was raised in a Roman Catholic faith that taught me that materialism was bad. (Yeah, I got some total mixed-messages here. LOL!)

I even had this bully swipe my yearbook when I was in middle school and signed some hateful stuff in it without even asking me if she could sign it. I finally got my revenge a few years ago when I uploaded both her autograph and her yearbook photo in this blog. It’s an equal punishment that fits the original crime because just as her signature in my yearbook can never be fully erased (because it was written in ink on glossy paper), my post about her can never be fully scrubbed from the Internet because there’s always the chance that someone has made a screenshot of it or it’s backed up somewhere else online. Don’t believe me? Look at what happened when Anthony Scaramucci deleted his tweets after he was hired as the White House Communications Director. (Scaramucci would be fired after serving just 10 days at his new job but that’s a different story altogether.)

My life definitely improved when I attended the University of Maryland at College Park then I permanently moved away from Glen Burnie when I got married 10 months after I finished college.

I’m a member of this Facebook group called “I remember Harundale when there was a Mall…” where people reminisce about their pasts in Glen Burnie. I tend to lurk there more than I post because I really don’t have too many positive memories about my life in Glen Burnie. I enjoy people posting about their memories of places that no longer exist, such as the Ritchie Drive-In Movie Theater and the local Italian Delight pizza parlor. Every now and then I see a negative snarky post (such as complaining about Latinos or people who qualify for Section 8 housing moving into Glen Burnie) written by someone that only serves to reinforce my desire to never move back to Glen Burnie.

Today I saw this post in that Facebook group that I hadn’t seen before from a guy who was reminiscing about a local woman. Apparently she was known as Fort Meade Annie and she was known to the locals in the 1950’s and 1960’s long before my family had even moved to Glen Burnie. I don’t recall ever seeing anyone on the streets of Glen Burnie that even matches her description so I guess she must have either moved away or died by the time my family arrived in that town.

Fort Meade Annie was frequently seen in public wearing a raincoat and scarf while carrying an umbrella, regardless of rain or sunshine. She would wear this outfit all year long in both hot weather and cold weather. Apparently she was named Fort Meade Annie because, according local legend, she was once engaged to someone who was stationed at Fort Meade but the wedding never happened because he was either killed in a war or he left her for someone else. I don’t even know how true this backstory is or if it’s something that the locals made up about her in order to make her seem even more pathetic than she really was. From the descriptions I read in that post about her, it sounds like she had some serious mental health issues at the time. In any case the local teens used to taunt her a lot.

So this guy writes about that one summer night in the early 1960’s when he and his friends decide to drive in a car looking for Fort Meade Annie so they could taunt her. They found her at the right moment when they saw her walking along the street while they were stopped at a traffic light. They began to taunt her and she responded by attacking the car with her umbrella so forcefully that the teens started to freak out and they drove away before the traffic light turned green. The car suffered minor damage to the windshield wipers and some minor scratches while one of the youths worried about getting in trouble with his father since he was driving his father’s car that night.

I was reading this story hoping that he and his friends learned a lesson from this encounter by acting more mature and compassionate towards others. But, no, here is how he ended his story.

So did we learn a lesson from this adventure? Probably not. We continued with stupid behavior. Calling out to the girls on the street. Jokes, sometime cruel jokes, at other’s expense. Starting trouble. Tormenting people. We kept doing all the same crazy stuff we always did. We just never did it to Annie again.

Oh, great, they stopped taunting Fort Meade Annie but they continued their harassment of other people and were pretty much assholes. They were only lucky that their other victims didn’t attack them or their car like Fort Meade Annie did.

What’s even worse is that he and his friends took the wrong lesson from this incident. The lesson isn’t “Don’t ever mess with Fort Meade Annie again because she can use her umbrella to defend herself.” The real lesson is that you don’t ever verbally harass strangers who are just minding their own businesses. The fact that he and his friends continued to harass other people after their unfortunate encounter with Fort Meade Annie shows them to be such total morons that I’m amazed they were even able to graduate from high school at all.

So basically this guy writes a post about how he was an asshole teenager who seems to be proud that he continued to be an asshole and he also seems to relish his memories of his youth when he and his friends taunted someone who obviously had mental health issues. I don’t consider this guy to be anything other than a coward. Because only cowards would stoop low enough to attack a mentally ill person who was just wandering the streets minding her own business and not harming anybody.

As J.K. Rowling once wrote in one of her Harry Potter books, “If you want to see the true measure of a man, watch how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.” I definitely got the true measure of that Facebook writer and it’s not very big or impressive at all.

What if Fort Meade Annie (or the other women who were victims of his and his friends’ drive-by harassment) had been this writer’s grandmother, mother, aunt, sister, cousin, girlfriend, wife, daughter or niece? Would he still write on Facebook about the fond memories he had when this woman was harassed?

What’s even worse is that there were people who were praising his writing skills and were urging him to write a book about his youth in Glen Burnie. I’ll admit that he is a good writer. But I can’t endorse anyone who not only acted like a total douchebag towards someone who was mentally ill but continued this douche behavior towards others and seems proud enough of those douchebag memories to write a post on Facebook bragging about it.

This post was originally written in June but the moderator of the Facebook group decided to bump it back to the top of the group because today someone else wrote a less-offensive post asking if anyone remembered Fort Meade Annie. At least the people in that thread aren’t talking about harassing her for no good reason. [UPDATE OCTOBER 31, 2017: Apparently that second thread about Fort Meade Annie turned abusive since it was deleted and a new notice from one of the moderators mentioned why it was deleted. Yet the original jerk’s post that inspired this rant remains online.]

I’m glad that this guy is older than me so I never had to endure this jerk’s behavior myself when I was growing up. (Instead I had to endure other Glen Burnie assholes who at least have the decency to not make Facebook posts about their fond memories of their youths as being douchebags.) He is one guy I would never want to even meet online, never mind even meeting him in person. I certainly as hell would never do any kind of business transaction with him.

Seriously if this guy ever writes his memoir, he should just title it Confessions of a Glen Burnie Asshole.

I had a pretty busy Saturday before the Fourth of July holiday. I drove my car to the North Linthicum light rail station where I saw this cool looking art truck. Then I took the light rail to the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium where I saw this excellent toy show that was literally a trip down memory lane for me.

As I went back to retrieve my car at the North Linthicum stop I decided to make a short drive to my hometown of Glen Burnie since I was in the area anyway. I went to Ann’s Dari-Creme because the weather has finally gotten hot enough that I felt a craving for a milk shake from that place. It’s a fun place to visit, which you can see in the photos I took for this blog post back in 2015.

The Accuweather app on my smartphone went off notifying me of a major thunderstorm that was passing through the region. The thunderstorm started after I ordered my milkshake and I was drinking it in the car. I decided to just stay in the car consuming my milkshake until the worst of the storm passed.

Afterwards I decided to heat towards Crabtowne USA. I initially thought about eating dinner there then playing its vintage pinball and video arcade games until I saw that the restaurant part was crowded. (I wasn’t surprised since it was the weekend before the Fourth of July.) I decided to just stick with playing the games and I had a great time. So did the kids who were riding the one of the mechanical horses in the next photo.

The crab statue outside the place was all ready for the upcoming Fourth of July holiday with its own little American flag.

The next photo shows what the sky looked like outside of Crabtowne USA, which still showed the effects from that short yet intense thunderstorm which passed through the area.

And then there is the next photo, which reminds me that, yes, I am in Glen Burnie and it provided me with yet another reason why I’m not exactly rushing to move back to that town.

“I Don’t Brake for Protesters”?!? What the ever loving fuck?!? Has this guy ever had an American Government class in high school? Had he even read the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, especially the sections about people having the right to peaceably assemble and allowing the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances?!?

I don’t see this kind of shit in Montgomery County or Prince George’s County. I don’t see this in Baltimore City or Howard County or Annapolis or Crofton. But I go to Glen Burnie and I see this shit and it makes my blood boil. This comes on the heels of seeing Donald Trump Make America Great Again signs on a few front lawns and that barber shop with a Confederate flag and that former Baltimore City police officer’s ill-fated attempt to do a benefit concert in Glen Burnie as Al Jolson in blackface. I wouldn’t be surprised if that asshole “I Don’t Brake for Protesters” pickup truck driver was among those people who were protesting NPR tweeting texts from the Declaration of Independence on July 4.

That truck provided yet another reason why I am pretty grateful that I no longer have to live in Glen Burnie if I don’t want to.

After I got out of church today I decided to check out the annual ArtsFest that was held today in Riverdale Park, Maryland.

ArtsFest, Riverdale Park, Maryland, May 4, 2014

When I first arrived to the area, I was greeted by a display of classic vintage cars and one classic Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

ArtsFest, Riverdale Park, Maryland, May 4, 2014

ArtsFest, Riverdale Park, Maryland, May 4, 2014

ArtsFest, Riverdale Park, Maryland, May 4, 2014

ArtsFest, Riverdale Park, Maryland, May 4, 2014

ArtsFest, Riverdale Park, Maryland, May 4, 2014

ArtsFest, Riverdale Park, Maryland, May 4, 2014

ArtsFest, Riverdale Park, Maryland, May 4, 2014

ArtsFest, Riverdale Park, Maryland, May 4, 2014

ArtsFest, Riverdale Park, Maryland, May 4, 2014

ArtsFest, Riverdale Park, Maryland, May 4, 2014

ArtsFest, Riverdale Park, Maryland, May 4, 2014

ArtsFest, Riverdale Park, Maryland, May 4, 2014

ArtsFest, Riverdale Park, Maryland, May 4, 2014

ArtsFest, Riverdale Park, Maryland, May 4, 2014

ArtsFest, Riverdale Park, Maryland, May 4, 2014

ArtsFest, Riverdale Park, Maryland, May 4, 2014

ArtsFest, Riverdale Park, Maryland, May 4, 2014

ArtsFest, Riverdale Park, Maryland, May 4, 2014

ArtsFest, Riverdale Park, Maryland, May 4, 2014

There was also this unique one-of-a-kind art car that looked really cool. The owner/artist is known as Clarke Bedford and he has more visually interesting stuff at his website.

ArtsFest, Riverdale Park, Maryland, May 4, 2014

ArtsFest, Riverdale Park, Maryland, May 4, 2014

ArtsFest, Riverdale Park, Maryland, May 4, 2014

ArtsFest, Riverdale Park, Maryland, May 4, 2014

ArtsFest, Riverdale Park, Maryland, May 4, 2014

ArtsFest, Riverdale Park, Maryland, May 4, 2014

ArtsFest, Riverdale Park, Maryland, May 4, 2014

ArtsFest, Riverdale Park, Maryland, May 4, 2014

ArtsFest, Riverdale Park, Maryland, May 4, 2014

At one point one of the owners of one of those classic cars would periodically get in his car, start the engine, then rev up the motor for at least five minutes. He did this at twice while I was at ArtsFest and it’s possible he may have done it more times before I arrived. What was really bad was that it was so obvious that his car didn’t have a muffler installed because it was so noisy that it drowned out the music and people’s conversations in general. I don’t know why he was doing it other than to say “LOOK AT ME! I’M AN ATTENTION-WHORING ASSHOLE IN A VINTAGE CAR WITH A LOUD MOTOR BECAUSE I DON’T HAVE A MUFFLER BECAUSE I THINK THEY ARE FOR EFFEMINATE SISSIES!” I heard several people complain about this guy’s antics. All I can say is that I’m glad he doesn’t live in my neighborhood.

I basically went there to see if a friend of mine was there and, sure enough, she was. Here are a couple of photos of some of her fused glass jewelry and plates. Her name is Tina Van Pelt and she has her own fused glass studio known as Profusions of Glass.

ArtsFest, Riverdale Park, Maryland, May 4, 2014

ArtsFest, Riverdale Park, Maryland, May 4, 2014

One strange highlight of ArtsFest came when I was visiting other tables and came across one table that sold porcelain dolls in their original boxes. Some were marked as Madame Alexander dolls. Each doll was on sale for $20. The woman behind the table claimed that her mother, who recently died, was a doll collector and the items on that table were from her personal collection. The woman also claimed that she did an eBay search where, according to her, these same dolls that she was selling in real life for $20 each were selling on eBay for as much as $150. She was trying to get me to buy one of her dolls for $20 while convincing me that I could sell that same doll later on eBay for $150.

I ended up not buying anything from her table because 1) I’m not into porcelain dolls, 2) I’m trying to watch my money these days, 3) I’m trying to avoid cluttering the house with more stuff, and 4) I call “bullshit” on her claim that I can resell those dolls on eBay for a lot more money than the $20 I would’ve spent. After all, if those dolls were really worth $150 each on eBay, why wasn’t she selling them online herself so she could pocket the $150 profit on each doll instead of selling those dolls on that table at ArtsFest for $20 each?

Come to think of it, I wonder if those dolls in the Madame Alexander boxes were really from the doll company or if they were just some clever bootlegs? I didn’t take any pictures of that table, which I now regret because I could’ve done my own online research to see how much of a bullshitter that woman really was. Oh well.

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