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Santa Claus

December 28 was the anniversary of the day that my husband suddenly came home from work, announced that he was moving out, then bolted out the door. This came three months after I had hip surgery and just three days after we celebrated a lovely Christmas together. He never indicated that he was the slightest bit unhappy.

So what’s a better way of observing that anniversary than going to the annual post-Christmas holiday party that was put on by my support group for people who are separated or divorced. This party is usually put on instead of the usual Thursday night group meeting and it happened to fall on December 28 this year.

Part of the festivities involved a White Elephant gift exchange where we are supposed to bring a gift that we didn’t want and exchange it for a different surprise. For people who are satisfied with their gifts, they can buy new gifts for this gift exchange as long as they don’t spend more than around $20-30.

I ended up needing to buy new presents for this gift exchange. I walked around Target where an idea jumped out at me. I found this DVD of The Sound of Music that was on sale for only $5.

As I walked around Target I found this special Hot Wheels car based on The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. I figured I could couple this car with the DVD to create a 1960’s gift package.

I originally intended to just give the DVD and Hot Wheels car. But, a few hours before the party began, I decided to drive to nearby Annapolis so I could check out Third Eye Comics. I was floored when I found a comic book series based on this animated stop motion series I watched on TV when I was a very young child back in the 1960s: Gumby.

I used to be so devoted to Gumby back in the day that I had Gumby and Poky rubber toys and I even named the first dog we ever had after Gumby. I thought it would make a perfect last-minute addition to my 1960s gift themed package. The back cover was an ad for the DVD sets of the original 1960s TV series.

So I went to the party, socialized and had a good time. Here is the gift I got in exchange. It’s a tube of this stuff that’s only sold at Bath & Body Works known as Rose Cosmic Cream. I’ve had rose-scented perfumes and hand lotions in the past so I didn’t know what was so “cosmic” about it.

The back of the tube was campy sounding with words like “The Fragrance Experiment,” “alluring,” “feminine,” “blushing,” “modern,” and “playful.”

The next day I put some of this stuff on my hands. I have to admit that it has a nice scent but I didn’t know what was so “cosmic” about it. But then I held my hands to direct sunlight and I saw that my hands were literally sparkly. It reminded me of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight book series about the vampires whose skins tend to glitter when exposed to direct sunlight. I looked in the ingredients and found that mica was listed. So the mica was what made this rose-scented lotion so “cosmic.” LOL!

By the way, you can buy mica at various arts and crafts supply stores, mix it into your own lotion, and come up with your own brand of “cosmic cream.” LOL!



At the dawn of recorded sound, no one cared.

How to make alien cake balls at home for the science fiction nerds in your life.

These high school teens invented a straw that could detect common date rape drugs.

How to access a million stunning copyright-free antique illustrations released by the British Library.

Confessions of an ad agency employee, who admits that the rise of digital media has resulted in modern day ad agencies that tend to encourage workaholism and intense competition among coworkers.

As a photographer I have no sympathy for former Playboy Playmate Dani Mathers. She was wrong to take nude photos of another woman changing in the gym locker room (without her consent) so she can make fun of her body online. She definitely violated that woman’s right to privacy.

IBM commits cultural and creative suicide.

How real estate people (including future President Donald Trump), violence, and public protests destroyed these iconic New York artworks.

Here’s a guide to where artists can sell their works online.

Doctors could soon make 3D prints of your various body parts, which could make your next surgery safer.

Tesla factory workers reveal pain, injury, and stress on the job.

Veselka Bulkan makes felted vegetables that cling to embroidery hoops.

How creative industries freelancers are exploited.

Animated film about a gay boy’s crush is so cute it hurts.

How brewery buy-outs hurt the craft beer industry overall.

King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands moonlights as a pilot on KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.

An AI invented a bunch of new paint colors with hilariously-sounding names.

What if other professions were treated like photographers?


There’s no glory in overworking. It’s just imminent burnout.

Tesla is now worth more than Ford and Elon Musk is already rubbing it in to everyone who ever doubted him.

14 stunning embroidery Instagrams.

Magic moments marking 170 years of British photography.

A Singapore man who lives with more than 9,000 Barbie dolls.

YouTube will now block ads on channels with under 10,000 views.

This robot will literally make you a salad.

A beginner’s guide to microblogging on Mastodon, the open source alternative to Twitter.

An interesting story on how writing on Medium each week has changed one woman’s life.

A 27-year-old entrepreneur talks about how he launched a seven-figure snack business in 18 months.

3D knitting brings tech to your sweaters—for a price.

There’s more to tech stock photography than hokey gold bitcoins.

3D printing in-store is very close and retailers need to address it.

A comparison of six free web-based SVG editors.

Nine anime things that Astro Boy did first.

Chinese man “marries” sex robot he built for himself after he failed to find a girlfriend.

Seven integral WordPress plug-ins.

White toddler girl defends her choice of a black doll to a cashier at Target.

Animated vloggers like Kizuna Ai could be the future of YouTube.

Chobani founder, who immigrated to the U.S. from Turkey, stands by hiring refugees.

Brands see the future of fashion in customized 3D-knitted garments produced while you wait.

3D printing: Don’t believe all of the hype.

Five free graphic design tools.

Top 10 WordPress plugins for business sites in 2017.

Hollywood’s whitewashed version of anime never sells.

New robots just want to be your child’s best friend.

How to make a coin sorting machine from cardboard.

How Harvard Business School has advocated the propagation of immoral profit strategies.

Photos showing 100 years of people knitting.

Talking bendable Justin Trudeau doll for sale.

WordPress for Google Docs lets multiple users collaborate on content in real-time.

Six of the most innovative 3D printing companies.

GIMP is crowdfunding critical updates like high bit depth and layer effects.

This man makes amazing surreal animations from famous artwork.

Open Collective is a GoFundMe-like service for open source projects.

Philadelphia museum showing glass bongs as high art. The museum’s directors say that this exhibit is less about potheads and more about allowing an underground community of artists to showcase their work without fear of being stigmatized or prosecuted.

A look at one crafter who renders pop culture figures in embroidery.

Knitted knockers for breast cancer survivors.

A girl who lost her eye to cancer got the best lookalike doll.

Adobe is currently developing AI that turns selfies into self-portraits.

60 free and easy Easter crafts to make for this holiday weekend.

Improvisation is the heart of Cuban animation.

Researchers are working on robots that can monitor and care for the elderly, such as the animal-like MiRo.

As the ballerina moves, this robot paints the dance.

How to get Microsoft Word for free.

What we can learn from the brief period when the government employed artists through its Works Progress Administration (WPA).

Software engineer starts unlikely business: A weekly newspaper.

Russian startup company Renca recycles industrial waste into 3D printable cement.

Can collecting digital art make museums more competitive?

New business fad: Tripping on Ayahuasca.

“Pink Tax” forces women to pay more for gender-specific items than men.

Adobe and IBM are rolling out more artificial intelligence tools for brands.

ISIS recruiting videos hit YouTube after London attack.

Elon Musk wants to merge your brain with a computer.

In the 1970’s this 25-mile-long art project by conceptual artist Christo Javacheff wowed the Bay Area.

A double-amputee toddler gets a doll with prosthetic legs.

Not all animators yearn to direct big studio films.

The disturbing YouTube videos that are tricking children into watching them.

Microsoft Word macro malware automatically adapts attach techniques for Mac OS and Windows.

Little girl mistakes a water heater for a robot and gives it a hug.

Easy Easter crafts that will bring an element of nature to your home.

3D printer helps revive 103-year-old Delage Type-S car.

Virtual anime girl Kizuna Ai rises to fame. She was created using the same software that was used to create virtual pop star Hatsune Miku.

Is YouTube turning against the marginalized community it built its network on?

Italian artists craft the world’s first 24-carat gold-plated shoes that costs ₤21,000 per pair.

The new world of 3D printing and counterfeiting.

Why Piet Mondrian could be considered to be the first digital artist.

Microsoft provided information to the British authorities after the London attack.

Google launches new site to showcase its open source projects and processes.

Open source software is for everyone—so where are the women?

A free tutorial on making a pocket jack-in-the-box in order to keep children occupied while traveling.

Previous in This Series

Part 1

This year is the fifth anniversary of this blog. For the first year I was unsure about how many photos I could actually upload because of the free blogging account has a space limit. So I kept photo uploads limited to just my arts and crafts along with any photographs that I actually exhibited in a show. Over time I learned such things as graphic optimization so I was able to upload more photos that way than I thought I could. So for the rest of the year I’m going to devote Throwback Thursday to photos from previous blog entries (along with links to the original posts) that I should’ve uploaded five years earlier but I didn’t.

Last week I wrote about the first few days of my ten-day trip to Florida. Now here is what I did after my then-husband and I returned from a side trip to Walt Disney World. The day after we returned, I basically took it easy where I made an ill-fated attempt at spending some time at the beach in nearby Indialantic, which I wrote all about on August 16, 2010.

The following day I made a trip on my own to Sea World in Orlando. It was sort of momentous because I went there just a few months after a trainer was killed during one of the Shamu shows in that very same theme park. I wrote a lengthy post about that trip the following day on August 18, 2010. Here are just a portion of the many photos I took at Sea World that day.















































































The following day I took it easy by going to the beach. For some reason I didn’t write a blog post about it (probably because I didn’t do much). I went to Cocoa Beach. Unfortunately Florida is literally a hellhole in August with very hot and humid weather that’s even worse than the Washington, DC area. If one happens to be at Ocean City, Maryland on a hot and humid day, one can find relief by swimming in the ocean while feeling the cool breeze coming from the water. It was different in Florida. What happens is that there’s not much of a breeze to cool one’s face off. Going in the water was initially refreshing for the first five minutes until your body gets used to it and the water feels like taking a warm bath in a room with the thermostat set at 95 degrees. Sitting outside reading a book on the beach was impossible because there was so little breeze and it was hot and humid. All in all I spent a half an hour total at the beach that day.





The seagulls in Florida are way more aggressive than the ones in Maryland. This seagull was very close to me when I shot that photo.


Despite the very hot weather, I saw a few people setting up a wedding canopy. I assumed that a beach wedding took place after I shot these photos.



After feeling overheated at the beach, I cooled off by getting my first look at the massive Ron Jon’s Surf Shop.


That’s it for Part 2 of my trip to Florida. The third and final part will be posted next Throwback Thursday.

Next in This Series

Part 3

I recently took advantage of a rare opportunity of seeing the clothes that were made on Project Runway in person. The clothes that were created on the American Girl episode are currently on a short tour of the American Girl Place stores across the United States and they came to the one in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia.

It also gave me a chance to finally try riding the new Silver Line Metro, which was recently opened a couple of months ago. This new line has a stop that’s right at the Tyson’s Corner Mall itself, which I think is great because I’ve long hated driving there due to the horrendously clogged traffic on the major highways getting there, the poorly laid out parking lot, and the crazy drivers battling each other for those parking slots.

The clothes were only displayed for two days in the middle of the week (October 1 and 2 fell on a Wednesday and Thursday this year), which I thought was strange considering that American Girl’s core customers are girls between the ages 8-12 and this exhibit fell at a time when children were attending school during the day and having to deal with homework at night. From an adult’s point of view, the timing was great because the store was less crowded than it usually is on the weekends (especially Fridays and Saturdays). As a result I could leisurely view the clothes on display and even take photos of them without dealing with crowds of kids.

Basically when one gets off at the Tyson’s Corner Metro Station, one reaches the mall by crossing a pedestrian bridge over Route 123 then one arrives at this really pleasant looking plaza outside the mall entrance, which includes paved walking paths and couches placed outside for people to sit on.



The next few photos look like I got some close ups of the local wild birds. In reality they are some life-sized bird statues that look incredibly real.



The plaza has giant-sized boards where people can play checkers and chess using large playing pieces. There is a ping pong table that people can use. There is even an outdoor playground for young children that is located next to the Shake Shack.






When one enters the mall, this Tesla car dealership is the first store one sees. (I find it strange to see a car dealership inside a shopping mall because I’ve long adjusted to car dealerships being these large parking facilities that are separate from shopping malls.) Tesla is among the first electric cars that have gone on sale in the U.S.


I saw this store that had these freaky looking clothes. I couldn’t tell whether they were the latest in trendy teen clothes or Halloween costumes.


There were people who tried out the video game “Just Dance” that was playing on the X-Box Kinect that was placed outside the Microsoft Store.



The main reason why I went to Tyson’s Corner on a Wednesday night was to visit the American Girl Place, where I could see the dolls model their latest BeForever outfits and accessories.




In the center of the store was this display featuring the 1970’s historical Julie Albright doll sitting next to her bed with the beaded curtains.


Julie is sitting in a doll-sized egg chair. I remember seeing egg chairs from my childhood (probably either on television or in a store catalog) even though my family never owned one.



The original egg chair had stereo speakers built in so people could listen to their favorite tunes while resting in the chair. The American Girl version also have speakers built in so owners can plug in their favorite MP3 media players.


I love the miniature food that’s available as part of Julie’s accessories, especially the miniature Jiffy Pop popcorn pan. I used to love it whenever my parents popped Jiffy Pop popcorn because when the popcorn popped, the aluminum foil top would expand into a giant ball, which I thought was incredibly awesome. The only downside is that only half the kernels would pop, leaving plenty of unpopped kernels. (Sometimes if we were lucky, we would get 75% of the popped kernels. But I remember that was pretty rare.)



I thought that the tiny stuffed monkey displayed on Julie’s bed was incredibly cute.


The next two photos show the main reason why I made the special effort to go to the American Girl Place on a Wednesday night.



Seven of the eight outfits that were created on that Project Runway American Girl episode were on display.




Curiously the one outfit that was not on display was that notorious pink onesie mess that caused Sandhya to come in last place and be cut from the show. It was supposed to be based on the Caroline Abbott doll but there was literally no connection between that awful outfit and the doll who’s supposed to represent the War of 1812. Basically the only way anyone can see Sandhya’s losing fashion disaster is online. (By the way, the Project Runway stills showing the young models wearing the clothes came from online screenshots. I’m only posting them here to show the comparisons between what the outfit looked like on the mannequins in the store when I was there and what they looked like when worn by the models on that show.)


Not only did the poor young model had to wear that thing on the runway while humiliating herself in the process, the outfit was plunged so low at the top that if the top hem had been any lower, one would’ve seen the girl’s prepubescent breasts. (And that’s not to mention that long buttoned slit in the back rear end that the wearer would have to undo every time she needed to go to the bathroom since the outfit is a onesie that’s similar to what babies wear.) Basically that outfit was a pedophile’s dream come true. I think there was a reason why American Girl didn’t include that outfit as part of the American Girl Place tour.**

The next lowest ranking outfit was on display. It was what Emily designed based on the Rebecca Rubin doll. That one was also a mess but it’s still nowhere near as awful as the one that Sandhya did.


The judges were hard on Emily because she sells a children’s clothing line on Etsy so this competition should’ve been a slam-dunk for her. Instead she did this outfit where, if viewed from the side, it made the young model look pregnant.


After viewing the outfit in real life I found that the top looked very cute. But that skirt in that ugly olive color with layers of bulky tulle was another matter—it was a total disaster.


I think that replacing that skirt with a different one in a prettier color (like purple, which would match both the top and the Rebecca doll’s Meet outfit) and without the tulle (which is something that a young girl would not normally wear unless she was going to be a flower girl in a wedding or celebrating her First Communion) would be a major improvement and could even be attractive to young girls and their parents.


Sean did an outfit based on the Julie Albright doll that also landed him among the bottom ranked contestants. The outfit was a jumpsuit that would’ve been more appropriate for a toddler than an elementary school student.


The only redeeming part of that outfit was the very cute jeans jacket, which Sean totally screws up by creating this messed up peace sign that’s missing one of the lines.


Good grief! The peace sign is the one sign that’s incredibly easy to remember and replicate and Sean totally screws it up! I was glad when Heidi Klum schooled Sean for that major error during the critique phase of the competition.

Viewing the outfit in person I found the fabric to be incredibly cute. Had the fabric been used for the top only and it was paired with pants in the same fabric as the jacket, it would’ve worked really well.


I tried to get a shot of the infamous messed-up peace sign but the clothes were displayed very close to the wall and the area was roped off so people couldn’t get too close to the clothes. This next shot was the best I could do.


Alexander did this outfit based on the Kit Kittredge doll. My only problem with that outfit is that the model was way too young to wear such a skin-tight sexy outfit.


Viewing it in person, I found the outfit to be really cute. I think it would’ve been perfect for a young woman between 18-30. It was just inappropriate for an elementary school-age girl.


Viewing this outfit in person gave me a chance to actually see some of the work that went into making it. The next photo shows a detail of the stitches surrounding the armhole. I had to keep in mind that the designers had less than 24 hours to create their outfits so it was interesting to see the attention to detail despite the intense time-crunch of the competition.


Amanda designed this outfit based on the Addy Walker doll. I thought that this one was among the better outfits that came out of that episode.


The outfit looked just as cute in real life as on television.


The one detail I saw that I didn’t realize while watching the TV screen was that the jacket also had different fabric on the inside, which was pretty cool. I wouldn’t be surprised if that jacket had been constructed as a reversible jacket.


Char did this really cool and funky outfit based on the historical Native American doll, Kaya’aton’my. It reminded me of something that Cher used to wear back on The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour in the 1970’s yet it was still cute and appropriate for young girls.


That outfit was even cuter in real life than on television. If someone ever makes an adult-sized outfit like that, I would be very tempted to buy it for myself.


Another outfit I really liked was the one that Korina did based on the Josefina Montoya doll.


I found the outfit to be just as cute in real life. I loved the layered squares on the skirt, which reminded me of one of Mondrian’s canvases.



Last, but not least, is the winning outfit that Kini designed based on the Samantha Parkington doll. Not only is that outfit very beautiful but the young model totally rocked that look on the runway.


The outfit looked just as lovely in real life as on television. Kini definitely deserved to win this challenge because I loved this outfit. This was another outfit that I would consider buying for myself if someone ever makes a version for adults.


After I left the American Girl Place, I ate dinner at Wasabi once again. (I just can’t get enough of seeing food being delivered on a conveyor belt. Fortunately the food is excellent because the conveyor belt could’ve been a tacky gimmick had it served McDonald’s-level fast food.) After dinner I decided to leave the mall but I had to go to the bathroom first before I decided to board the Metro. I saw this really cool looking kids’ play area that was put up by National Geographic.




I also liked the atrium-like roof on the top level of the mall. I found it very attractive.


By the time I decided to head home it was nighttime. There were still plenty of people on that plaza who were doing things like playing with the oversized game pieces and hanging around on the outdoor couches.





I came across this mourning dove that is yet another one of those lifelike bird statues that are placed along the plaza.



The last photo shows the new Tyson’s Corner Metro Station and the pedestrian bridge over Route 123 that links the station to the mall.


The Project Runway clothes are currently touring the United States so for more information on future stops and dates, click here.

**UPDATE (October 16, 2014): I was watching last week’s episode of Project Runway (I can’t always watch new episodes on Thursday nights because I’m usually attending weekly meetings for people who are separated or divorced) when I saw what happened to Sandhya’s losing design. This challenge involved taking the losing designs that led to previous designers being cut from the show and incorporating it into a new design. Sean was assigned Sandhya’s mess of an outfit to redeem it into a more fashion-forward outfit for adults that’s supposed to be based on what the remaining designers saw on a tour of the streets of New York City. So this explains why Sandhya’s outfit wasn’t part of the American Girl/Project Runway tour. Sean’s redemption of that outfit earned him a spot among the finalists of that show who would be showing their outfits during New York’s Fashion Week.

Here is the original outfit as designed by Sandhya.


And here is what Sean did with that outfit.


While I’m still not really that crazy about that outfit (mainly because of all that Pepto Bismol pink), Sean did an excellent job with his redesign. Had the outfit been in a more flattering color (like purple or blue), it would’ve been a really awesome one. But I have to admit that Sean did a great job with what he was given in that episode.

UPDATE (November 1, 2014): Not only did Sean do a great job with reforming Sandhya’s losing design but he ended being the winner of this season of Project Runway.

When I was driving to my first-ever television interview (which I wrote about in a previous post), I saw this vintage car that was parked in the parking lot near the back of the New Deal Cafe. I didn’t have time to investigate the car before the interview but I was lucky that the car was still parked in the same spot when I was leaving the building that houses the television studio.

It is a vintage white Volkswagen Beetle.





This car is so vintage that it has the blue Maryland license plates, which expired back in 1963. I have not see license plates like these since I was very young.



Judging from the window decal in the next photo, this Beetle looks like it belongs to a newlywed couple.



Here’s the interior of the Beetle’s front seats. The look of the entire car just screams “VINTAGE!”


Seven months ago I devoted a blog post full of miscellaneous photos I downloaded from my smartphone in order to clear out the disk space. Recently I did a similar purge of more photos from my smartphone.

Back in late March one of the stores I visited sold a line of Disney-inspired makeup complete with totally cute versions of Mickey Mouse and his friends.

Disney Make-Up

This next photo reminded me of a running joke I used to have with my husband. A few years ago we learned through a friend of an existence of a line of alcoholic beverage called Arrogant Bastard Ale. My husband used to present himself as a total smartass to me and to many of our friends and I used to joke that with his smartass attitude, I should buy him a bottle of Arrogant Bastard Ale as a gift. However, I checked in many liquor stores and none of the ones in my area carried that brand. Fast forward a few years and my husband ended up divorcing me. I happened to walk in a store on my own earlier this year and I finally found a bottle of Arrogant Bastard Ale on sale. It figures that I can now find Arrogant Bastard Ale after my divorce from my husband became final. <Sigh!>

Arrogant Bastard Ale

Many of the grocery stores in my area have a bakery that includes fresh baked goods. Of all the supermarkets, I have to say that Giant is the one that has the best looking cookies. I tried some of these cookies and, while they are tasty, there are other less-decorated cookies whose taste I prefer. But these cookies do look pretty and cute.

Decorated Cookies
Decorated Cookies

The front window of one of the local clothing stores in my area dressed up one of its mannequins in the most butt-ugly patriotic outfit I’ve ever seen.

Patriotic Outfit

The Food Network used to run this reality show called The Ace of Cakes which was one of the few reality shows I watched on a regular basis. The show profiled a Baltimore-based bakery called Charm City Cakes, which specializes in making unique one-of-a-kind cakes that are truly works of art. I was really sad when the show was cancelled. A few months ago I was shopping at Safeway when I saw that the owner of Charm City Cakes, Duff Goldman, has come out with a line of Chef Duff boxed cakes where anyone can attempt to make a cool looking cake in the comfort of his/her own kitchen.

Chef Duff's Cake Mixes

One day I decided to go to downtown Washington, DC so I parked my car in a Metro station parking lot near this Hello Kitty car.

Hello Kitty Car

The local nursery, Behnke’s, has this really cool looking landscaping project on its grounds that’s designed to show off one of the creative things you can do with purchasing tall grasses from them.

Cool Landscape
Cool Landscape
Cool Landscape

Earlier this spring I saw this really pretty butterfly on one of the concrete steps outside of my home.


Around the same time as I took that butterly photo, I was working on starting a garden when I decided to go to one of the local nurseries, Homestead Gardens. This particular nursery is located in Davidsonville, which is full of family-owned farms. Homestead Gardens had some chicks on sale for anyone interested in raising chickens.

Chicks at Homestead Gardens
Chicks at Homestead Gardens
Chicks at Homestead Gardens
Chicks at Homestead Gardens
Chicks at Homestead Gardens
Chicks at Homestead Gardens

A few months ago a new non-profit STEM technology center called Club 125 opened in my area. The unofficial mascot is Sam, who definitely feels at home there.

Sam the Dog
Sam the Dog
Sam the Dog

Somtimes another dog named Geisha visits at Club 125 and it results in Sam and Geisha playing with each other.

Two Playing Dogs

Occasionally the dogs go too far in their playing so they have to be sent to a time-out area that’s blocked off with a child gate.

Sam and Geisha

Eventually the dogs are allowed to leave the time-out area and they settle down together looking like they are going to be calm and laid-back friends.

Sam and Geisha

Then, again, maybe not.

Sam and Geisha
Sam and Geisha
Sam and Geisha

But there’s more to Club 125 than just dogs and science geek-oriented activities. I happened to drop by one Sunday afternoon while a Japanese language class was in progress.

Japanese Language Class

One summer morning I saw three ducks relaxing in the grass.


I was on a Metro train a few months ago when I saw this ad for a new establishment that was in the process of opening in Bethesda called Max Brenner Chocolate Bar. As you can guess from the name, this place specializes in chocolate.

Washington DC Metro Subway Ad

Here’s an ad I saw on the side of a shopping mall directory for the website

Shopping Mall Directory Ad

The Annapolis comic book shop Third Eye Comics decided to put up this giant tent in the back parking lot in conjunction with the huge San Diego Comic Con that was taking place across the country that same weekend. The Third Eye Comics tent had a clearance sale on older comic books and action figures.

Third Eye Comics, Annapolis, Maryland
Third Eye Comics, Annapolis, Maryland

One day in a parking lot I found this really amusing bumper sticker.

Bumper Sticker

Did you know that, in addition to chocolate candy, Hershey’s also makes cereal? I didn’t either until one day when I made this trip to the local Safeway.

Hershey's Cookies & Cream Cereal

I saw this birthday tribute to Jack Daniels on display at Old Line Fine Wine, Spirits & Bistro.

Birthday Tribute to Jack Daniels

Here is the beginning of a sunset featuring a blue sky, the moon, and a bunch of clouds with just a tiny hint of pink in them.

The Beginning of a Sunset

I saw this live turkey on display at the Greenbelt Farmers Market in Greenbelt, Maryland last month.


I visited one of those Spirit of Halloween stores that usually sets up temporary space in an empty store space in many local malls and shopping centers throughout the United States. The one I visited is currently located at the Free State Mall in Bowie, Maryland but, since tomorrow is Halloween, this store will pack up and leave soon. In addition to selling costumes, masks, and makeup, The Spirit of Halloween also sells these state of the art animatronics that were really awesome to see in person but I didn’t buy one because 1) I’m currently living on a tight budget and 2) those animatronics are a bit too much for a divorced woman living in a small townhouse with no children.

Spirit of Halloween
Halloween Decoration
Halloween Decoration
Halloween Decoration

Here’s a nice sunset shot that I took in Crofton, Maryland before I headed over to my weekly support group meeting for people who are separated or divorced.


One day I found this spider weaving its web outside my home.


I found this faded poster of actor George Takei (best known as Sulu on the original 1960’s Star Trek series) hanging in the window of the local Social Security office.

George Takei Poster

The next few photos are of the fused glass arts and crafts of Tina Van Pelt of Profusions of Glass. She had me take a few reference photos of her booth at the Fall Harvest Festival in Greenbelt, Maryland for reference since I was going to sell some of her items at the Acorns A Go-Go Groovy Vegan Fest (which was to be held a couple of weeks later) since she was going to be out of town that same weekend. The glass items really photographed well with the smartphone camera.

Fused Glass
Fused Glass
Fused Glass
Fused Glass
Fused Glass
Fused Glass
Fused Glass

Did you know that this month is “Ministry Appreciation Month”? I didn’t either until I saw these cards in the Hallmark aisle at a local CVS.

Hallmark Card Display

Here’s an ad I saw recently in a Metro station in downtown Washington, DC.

DC Metro Ad

The next few photos are the ones I took the day I went to the weekly Riverdale Park Farmers Market. I walked around the downtown area of Riverdale Park, Maryland and I even took a photo of the band that performed during the Farmers Market.

Riverdale Park, Maryland
Riverdale Park, Maryland
Riverdale Park, Maryland
Riverdale Park, Maryland
Riverdale Park, Maryland
Riverdale Park, Maryland
Riverdale Park, Maryland
Riverdale Park, Maryland
Riverdale Park, Maryland
Riverdale Park, Maryland
Riverdale Park, Maryland
Riverdale Park, Maryland
Riverdale Park, Maryland
Riverdale Park, Maryland

The next couple of photos are ones that I took during a recent visit to All Souls Unitarian Church in Washington, DC.

All Souls Unitarian Church
All Souls Unitarian Church

One day, when I was returning from an appointment with my therapist, I happened to see a herd of deer grazing along the side of the road in the late afternoon sun.


I found some interesting art decorating a tattoo parlor in Annapolis.

Tattoo Parlor
Tattoo Parlor
Tattoo Parlor

Now that I’ve cleared space on my smartphone by deleting photos, I’m going to end this entry with my first attempt at a selfie photo. I took it last Friday in the women’s bathroom at a dance that was put on by my support group for people who are separated or divorced. Since tomorrow is Halloween and I am disguised as a My Little Pony character named Rainbow Dash, I’m going to post it here. I’m wearing a Rainbow Dash hoodie (complete with ears, a multicolored mane, and even wings on the back) that I purchased at, a Rainbow Dash mask that I purchased and downloaded from the Etsy shop Hungry Panda Supplies, and a skull cameo necklace that I purchased at a craft show from Lithia’s Creations.

Rainbow Dash
Rainbow Dash

This weekend I attended the Otakon anime convention in Baltimore for the first time in two years. I’m trying to do things to take my mind off my current personal problems and attending Otakon is another example of that. (My attendance did the trick because I was too busy walking around Otakon to notice the seven-month anniversary of my husband’s sudden walkout until after the event ended Sunday.)

Ironically the last time I attended Otakon two years ago, I did so because my husband was about to embark on a month-long business trip to Florida and Otakon happened to coincide with the first weekend that he was gone. I thought that being busy that weekend would help ease me into being away from my husband for that long. (Up until that time, there were times when my husband was away on business trips but they basically lasted no longer than a week. Of course, with this recent separation, I have been alone without my husband for the longest time ever. We’ve been apart for seven months now and I’m sure that we’ll remain apart for some time to come.) In any case, you can view my entries regarding Otakon 2010 here, here, here, and here.

I had pre-registered for this year’s Otakon about a month and a half ago. I was able to save money on convention fees plus I was able to pick my pass up the night before the convention began. Here is my badge that I wore last weekend.

My Otakon 2012 Badge

I opted to drive from my home to the North Linthicum light rail stop then take the light rail until I reached the Baltimore Convention Center. I also brought a giant insulated Wegman’s bag with lunch, dinner, sodas, and snacks. I found that it was way cheaper to do things that way than to stay in an Inner Harbor-area hotel and eat in restaurants or at one of the convention center’s food stands. I also didn’t have to worry about caring for my pet hedgehog Spike while I was away because I was able to change his food and water after I ate my own breakfast before I left in the morning.

The disadvantage of carting your own food and drinks around is that the bag I carried the stuff in (along with cold packs to keep the drinks cold and prevent food from spoiling) was a bit on the heavy side and my shoulders were totally sore by the time I returned home.

Here are the dolls I carted with me throughout Otakon. I brought small dolls (the largest was only 13 inches tall) because they were lighter and easier to carry and I could easily put them away when I wasn’t at a doll meet-up. The dolls I took were—from left to right—Soom Mini-Gem Uyoo, Orient Doll Ji, Makies elf doll, Bobobie Sunny, and Soul Doll Kimmy.

The Dolls I Took to Otakon With Me

While I waited for the light rail to arrive, I took this photo of my Makie doll.

My Makie Doll at the Baltimore Light Rail Stop

The disadvantage of being a commuter to Otakon is that if I don’t arrive in time to take a certain light rail and had to take a later one, I would be late for a panel or workshop I wanted to attend. That is what happened to me. On top of that, the security people at Otakon made us pre-registered folks enter the door at the far end of the convention center instead of taking the front entrance that was located closer to where the workshop I wanted to attend was located. (The security had reserved the front entrance for the long line of people who waited until the last minute to register for Otakon.) I arrived to the workshop a half-an-hour late as a result. On top of it, I discovered that you weren’t allowed to enter the workshop late. You had to wait in a line outside and hope that you would be let in. I learned quickly that if you don’t arrive early for a workshop or panel, you just won’t get in at all.

I managed to make it to the Hangry & Angry Fashion show, where I not only arrived early but I got a decent seat. At times that fashion show was like Mardi Gras where, instead of throwing beads to the audience, the models threw tiny Hangry & Angry toys to the audience. The Hangry & Angry clothes are wild and punk. It was a pretty fun experience. Here are a few shots from that show.

Hangry and Angry
Hangry + Angry Fashion Show at Otakon 2012
Hangry + Angry Fashion Show at Otakon 2012
Hangry + Angry Fashion Show at Otakon 2012
Hangry + Angry Fashion Show at Otakon 2012

After the fashion show, I took this photo of someone who actually came dressed as a soft drink that was served at a fast food restaurant, which I thought was hilarious. (After I uploaded that photo on Flickr, someone commented that the soft drink is really Grand Master Shake from Aqua Teen Hunger Force. I’ll take his/her word for it since I’ve never seen that show.)

A Soft Drink Cosplayer

I also found this Asian ball-jointed meet up. It was held on a Friday afternoon and there was a small group there. I took some photos of the few dolls that were there. I also had this strange encounter while I was at this meet up. These two women came up to me and one of them asked me if I ran the website Kim’s World of Art. I was amazed that anyone recognized me because I haven’t gone to any doll meet ups since the last time I went to Otakon in 2010. I answered “Yes” then one of them said that I have a photo of her bag that I posted on my site five years ago and she wanted me to remove it. Then the two of them quickly walked away before I had a chance to ask them any further questions. I have no idea who these people were and I don’t even know what image file they were referring to. If I had a URL of the image in question, then I could delete it easily. But I have so many images on my site that I wouldn’t know where to begin. On top of it, I didn’t recognize either woman nor did they give me their names.

I’m not really a regular doll meet up attendee. I did go to a several of them between 2004-2007 but then I simply cut way back because of other things that happened in my life (such as my left hip getting so bad that I couldn’t walk so I had to undergo a hip replacement in 2008). It’s just hard to accomodate anyone who suddenly comes up to me, asks me to remove a photo of a bag, then quickly walk away without giving me a name or a URL.

I was so unnerved by that encounter plus the doll meet up was so small that there were very few dolls on display where I was there. I just took the following three photos then quickly left without even showing off all of the tiny dolls I brought.

Asian Ball Jointed Doll Meet Up at Otakon 2012
Asian Ball Jointed Dolls
A Cute Volks Dollfie Dream Doll

I found another group sitting around near the Asian ball-jointed doll meet up who were in another meet up of their own. They were busy trading manga volumes. Here’s a photo of some of the manga books and related publications that were available for trade.

Manga Trading at Otakon 2012

I loved this person’s costume so much that I photographed it. According to a commenter on Flickr, this is supposed to be Kyubey from Puella Magi Madoka Magica. (I haven’t seen that particular anime.)

Cute Cosplayer at Otakon 2012

I walked around both the Dealers Room and Artist Alley. The next two photos are of The Last Unicorn author Peter S. Beagle who was busy signing autographs and chatting with fans.

Peter S. Beagle at Otakon 2012
Peter S. Beagle at Otakon 2012

I stopped by the Hangry & Angry booth where I took a couple of pictures (including one of my Makie doll Victoria sitting among the stuffed cats).

Hangry and Angry Booth at Otakon 2012
Makie Doll Among the Hangry and Angry Dolls
Hangry and Angry Dolls at Otakon 2012

I looked at the prices of some of the Hangry & Angry clothes and stuffed animals. They were a bit pricey. The cheapest item I saw was $25 for a small-sized t-shirt that looked like it was made out of very thin cotton. The booth was throwing an exclusive “Hellcat Party” the following evening that would be limited only to the first 20 people who spent more than $250. With the high prices, it would be pretty easy to spend that much in one drop. I saw one person plunk out a bunch of dollar bills buying lots of stuff. She spent the minimum $250 so she was given one of the 20 passes to that party. As for me, I bought a softbound coffee table book-sized manga about the Hangry & Angry cat characters for $40. I just preferred to buy something that’s going to last me many more years than most of the clothes that were sold at Otakon this year.

Here are some more things that were on sale at Otakon.

Wigs at Otakon 2012
Plushies at Otakon 2012
Ultra-Cute Arpakasso Alpaca Stuffed Toys From Japan
Lolita Dresses

I found it pretty ironic to find these realistic looking toy guns on sale because Otakon began on the one-week anniversary of that tragic shooting at a movie theater in Colorado.

Toy Guns on Sale at Otakon 2012

This car was painted with comic book characters.

Customized Car at Otakon 2012
Customized Car at Otakon 2012

This artist was in the process of drawing a chalkboard mural on the ground.

Drawing Chalkboard Mural at Otakon 2012
Chalkboard Mural at Otakon 2012

After doing some shopping where I didn’t buy very much, I decided to check out this workshop called “Digital Painting Crash Course” where people sat there looking at an artist demonstrating how to do some painting effects in Adobe Photoshop. He had some CD-ROMS to give out to participants except he only made 10 CD’s in a workshop where around 100 people attended. I’ll admit that it was hard to listen to what was essentially a lecture on using Adobe Photoshop without having a computer loaded with Photoshop so I could follow along. (Most computer training courses I’ve taken in the past generally had both instruction and hands-on lab while this workshop was instruction only.)

I ended up leaving Otakon around 4 p.m. mainly because there wasn’t a lot of things I was interested in attending by that time and I was getting very exhausted so I went home.

As for the weather, the heat was in the upper 90s with high humidity. Tha Baltimore Convention Center had air conditioning but there were places in the building that were warmer than others. The warmest areas were the main hallways where the sun went through the glass window roofs. The coldest areas were the ballroom where the workshops and panels were held. The air conditioning in those rooms were so cold that there were times I wished I had a jacket with me.

One thing I noticed at Otakon so far. What’s up with the escalators? At previous Otakons it was no problem with using them. Anyone was allowed to use them. So far, this didn’t seem to be the case. During picking up the badges for those who pre-registered, we weren’t allowed to use the escalators. We all had to walk up the steps. On the first full day at Otakon, the escalators were either not working at all or they were running but security wouldn’t let anyone use them. What. The. Fuck?!?

So I spent the evening at home watching the Opening Ceremonies of the London Olympics on NBC.

And then there were nine contestants. Simon de Pury woke them up at dawn so he could hand them the keys to a fleet of Audis for an early morning drive around New York City as an inspiration for the next contest. They all stopped at the Audi Forum, where they met China Chow, who told them to base their next artwork on their recent car trip.

Miles the OCD artist felt so overwhelmed by all the overstimulation of the Audi Forum that he walked over to the nearest couch to take a nap, which is reminiscent of what he did during the second episode and he managed to parlay his penchance for naps into a win. During the creation phase, Mark said that he noticed that Miles and Nicole were flirting with each other. Nicole and Miles talked about how much they like each other. Erik says that Miles is manipulative. Miles decided to do a screenprint of something that looked like the inside of a freight elevator then place two unpainted wooden barricades in front of the screenprint. It had a plain unfinished look to it that’s easy to ignore. His piece received very high praises from the judges.

Abdi did a painting of a guy dressed in what looked like an orange race car outfit with confetti flying down. It’s the kind of art that would’ve been appropriate for a NASCAR race ad.

Nicole did some drawings of the cityscape, crumpled them up, then embalm them together in resin. The mass looked like a rose with writings and drawings on the petals. Then she placed this rose on a piece of long white cloth that’s suspended between two poles.

Peregrin decided to take the name "Audi" and add letters so it would spell words like "Saudi" and "Gaudi". Her piece reminded me of word puzzles that I’ve seen in various puzzle magazines that one can buy at bookstores, supermarkets, and newsstands.

Ryan admitted that he wasn’t paying attention during the car trip so he just took a few self-portraits of himself behind the wheel of an Audi. Then he began to admit that he had hit a creative block. He decided to do a piece based one of his self-portraits–which involved doing a triptych. Simon de Pury noticed that Ryan has done so many self-portraits throughout the show that he asked him if he was a narcissist.

Jaclyn, who had previously taken nude and semi-nude shots of herself decided to do something slightly different. Instead of taking more photos of herself, she stood in the window of the Audi Forum in her little sexy dress and took pictures of the men who looked at her as they walked by. Then she created a collage of her photos of all the men who looked at her. She placed mirrored panels in the middle of her piece. Jamie Lynn groused that Jaclyn enjoys the attention she gets for flaunting herself.

Jamie Lynn decided that she had to be herself by making tiny drawings of herself dancing on a wheel featuring tiny drawings of the cityscape. Ryan said that her piece was immature and hokey.

Erik decided to dedicate his newest piece to his girlfriend, who had helped him through the aftermath of his motocycle accident. So he did a portrait of her. Actually it was a nicely done portrait and I think his girlfriend should be flattered by his piece.

Mark decided to paint a canvas that looked like a cross between one of Mondrian’s paintings and the close-up of the side of a skyscraper building. Peregrin denounced it as "hotel art". Come to think of it, I think I may have seen something similar to Mark’s painting in an office or hotel lobby once.

Jacyln won this week’s challenge with Miles as the runner-up. Earlier in the episode, Jamie Lynn the Christian artist said that she loved elimination days and expressed gratitude to the Lord for keeping her in the competition. Well, those words came back to bite her in the ass as she was elminated with the words "Your work of art didn’t work for us." Or maybe the Lord didn’t like her latest masterpiece so He influenced the judges to give Jamie Lynn the boot.

You can now view and rate all the work created on that episode right here.

Now that there are fewer people in the competition, I’m going to guess who will ultimately make it to the final four contestants. I think Abdi and Mark will be among the top two because they have produced mostly consistent work. Miles will also make it because he seems to be the darling of the judges plus his OCD has trainwreck potential that would make it the kind of gripping reality television that’s guaranteed to draw viewers. Jaclyn will make it in the fourth slot because her penchant for taking nude photos of herself also have trainwreck potential that will equal a ratings draw but she’ll only be in it long enough to be the sacrficial lamb when it comes down to the three finalists.

In the meantime, you can check out’s story on why much of the art world hates Work of Art.

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