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Santa Claus Baby New Year

Since today is New Year’s Day, which ushers in a brand new year, I’d thought I would write about what I recently did for myself on Christmas Day.

I haven’t opened a wrapped gift on Christmas Day since 2011. It was three months after I underwent hip surgery. For my birthday on December 15 my husband surprised me with a new iPod Touch. Ten days later on Christmas Day, I opened a wrapped gift and found that he gave me a new iPad. With a new iPod Touch and a new iPad, I felt really blessed to have two new Apple devices on top of my ability to walk slowly improving after my hip surgery.

It all came crashing down just three days later when my husband came home from work, announced that he was moving out, then ran out the door before I could even respond. My iPad stopped working altogether just three years later. My iPod Touch still works even though it has older software (I can’t install the newest version of the iOS software because the hardware is now considered old).

Over the last several years, before my marriage fell apart, my mother would send me a $200 check for my birthday and a $200 check for Christmas but that was it for gifts. (She also used to send my husband checks as birthday and Christmas presents until he left me.) At least I could treat myself to a nice meal or some nice clothes for myself. The checks stopped in 2016 when my mother’s health deteriorated (she’s currently struggling with multiple sclerosis and it’s gotten to the point where I can only talk to her on the phone for no more than 2 or 3 minutes because she gets tired).

After my marriage ended I usually went to my support group’s annual post-Christmas party where we have a white elephant gift exchange. If it weren’t for that, I wouldn’t even get a wrapped gift.

There were times when I miss getting a wrapped gift that i would open and I would be surprised with what I got. I finally decided to rectify that situation.

For the past few years there have been the rise in popularity of blind boxes which housed some kind of a collectible item. One can find them in comic book stores, Target, Five Below, Walmart, and other similar stores. Two years ago I purchased a cheap blind blister package that had a Hatsune Miku keychain inside. The outer pack showed photos of six possible designs that I could get and I didn’t know which one I got until after I brought it home and opened it. I only purchased one keychain because I wasn’t very comfortable with the idea of possibly getting a duplicate because I couldn’t see what I was really purchasing until after I purchased it.

I used to collect Wacky Packages as a kid and they were in blind packages. The difference was that Wacky Packages were basically flat stickers. If you ended up getting a duplicate it was no big deal. You could trade it with a friend but if you couldn’t find any friends willing to trade with you, you could always use that duplicate as a sticker. I remember plastering my notebooks and other items with my duplicate Wacky Packages stickers. When it came time to clear out my childhood home after my mother decided to sell it, I found an old 45 r.p.m. record case that had a Wacky Packages sticker on the bottom for Neveready Batteries (a parody of Eveready Batteries).

But 3D objects in blind packages were another matter. If you ended up with a duplicate 3D object, chances are that you will have a harder time with getting rid of it. Most stores will not accept returns for purchasing a duplicate. You could sell it on eBay but you may or may not get anyone willing to buy it. If you’re lucky enough to have a fellow collector willing to trade with you, you might unload your duplicate that way. Or you could wrap it and give it to someone as a birthday or Christmas present. Or even donate it to Goodwill or the Salvation Army.

Yet I could see the allure of buying a blind package an opening it on Christmas as a substitute for opening a wrapped present. There weren’t too many blind packages that really excited me enough to consider doing this until I learned of a new line of dolls that were released by Just Play a few months ago called Hairdorables. Hairdorables are a series of small dolls with huge amounts of hair that is as big as they are. Not only did the dolls skin and hair come in a variety of colors but I found their faces to be totally cute—complete with impish smiles. Each doll and her accessories comes in a blind box where you don’t know which doll you get until after you buy it and take it home.

The dolls were released in August but, for some reason, the local Target in my area didn’t start getting them until mid-December. Meanwhile I kept on reading about these dolls online until I finally saw the boxes in real life. I purchased a Hairdorables box from Target on Christmas Eve. (The local mall was far less crowded on Christmas Eve this year than in previous years.)

I brought the package home and waited until the following day to open it. Here’s the Christmas tree along with the box still in its plastic Target bag.

Here is what the package looks like. As you can see, you literally don’t know which doll you’ve actually purchased until after you open the box.

The back of the box shows a list of 36 possible dolls that could be in that box.

Here’s a close-up of that box where you can see the Hairdorables available in a variety of hair and skin colors.

One of the side panels of the box tells the story of Hairdorables.

The story goes like this:

Hello influencers!

It’s your time to SHINE!

Meet Noah and the #Hairdorables!

Noah is a super sweet girl with a talent for styling hair. When she posted her front braid tutorial for fun, she never imagined it would go viral!

Since then, Noah has loads of inspiring friends who love to share their passions, so when she asked them to contribute to her channel, they all yelled out a resounding YAAAAAS! Check out the Hairdorables channel on YouTube!

They are dolls for the Internet age that are packaged in such a way as to make filming an unboxing doll video very easy. I chose to shoot a series of still photos instead of making an unboxing video because there are already so many unboxing Hairdorables videos out there and I wasn’t in the mood to make a new video. You open the box a certain way, starting with the yellow pull tab at the top of the box.

Once I pulled down the pull tab I found that the box reveals two compartments that you pull slightly apart.

As you pull the compartments apart you see that there’s a piece of paper in the middle being flanked by the two compartments where the doll and her accessories are held. Basically you are instructed to open the box in a certain order where you open the side containing the doll last. It’s designed to build up suspense to the ultimate surprise—which doll you received.

As for the paper in the middle, one side has a promo drawing of the Hairdorables.

The other side has a checklist of all of the Hairdorables dolls that are available in its first series (while implying that there will be a second series along with more subsequent series).

I didn’t look too closely at the checklist because I’ve read other people’s accounts about unboxing the Hairdorables and I learned that if you study the checklist too much, you will figure out which doll you received while you’re unboxing the accessories. I really wanted the whole experience to be a surprise so I only glanced at it quickly.

I also want to take the time to say that even though the Hairdorables checklist (which you can view online here) says that there are 36 dolls to collect, it doesn’t mean that there are 36 different characters. There are actually 12 different characters with each character having three different variations where each variation will wear a different outfit and have different accessories.

Getting back to the box, once I removed the checklist I found that there is actually a little backdrop where you can pose your Hairdorable doll. I like the idea of reusing the box for play since it would generate less trash than a typical doll box.

The box instructed me to open the left compartment of the box first. The compartment have four smaller sections that are in exact numbered order.

I opened the door marked with the number one and I got a small plastic bin with a top wrapper that had this pun: “Hair we go!”

I got a pink hair comb and a tiny square of tiny stickers.

So I opened the door marked with the number 2 and got a bin with this pun, “You go curl!”

I got a pair of winged sneakers (which looked really intriguing because it reminded me of the winged sandals of the god known as Hermes or Mercury in the Greco-Roman myths) and another sticker.

The stickers could be peeled then folded in half in order to create a tiny smartphone for the doll.

The idea was pretty neat in theory but it turned out to be impractical in reality after I unboxed the doll because her hands were unable to hold the tiny smartphone.

It was time to open the door that was marked with number 3. I got a bin with this message: “[heart] UR Style!”

I got a pair of white angel wings along with another sticker featuring two of the Hairdorables dolls and the hashtag #BraidsRule.

Then it was time for me to open the door with the number 4. I got the bin with this pun: “Sheer Genius.”

I got another sticker with two of the dolls and the hashtag #VacayAllDay. But it was the hairband that really thrilled me. It’s a mint green hairband with a unicorn horn! It brought back memories of when I unsuccessfully tried to market myself with my 1990s Unicorn With An Attitude animation series. I was also intrigued because I once read a series of books by Anne McCaffrey and Margaret Ball about the adventures of Acorna, a humanoid girl born with a unicorn horn.

After opening the first four compartments it was time to unbox the doll herself.

I opened the door and I got another plastic bin.

Removing the plastic bin reveals more box graphics that suggests a clothes closet.

The bin wrapper had yet another pun: “Let’s see what’s in hair!”

Here is my new doll as she was packaged in that bin as shown from the front and back.

I removed the doll from the bin and found that there was also a small card that reveals which doll I received. One side of the card mentions that her name is Willow, her favorite color is mint green, and her motto is “Style is a state of mind!” The other side shows a cute drawing of Willow.

Once I removed the doll from her bin I put on her winged sneakers, angel wings, and unicorn hairband. Willow has an oversized head on a small, thin body. Here is my new Willow doll placed against her backdrop. I found that the doll can’t stand on her own but I could lean her against the backdrop to make it look like she’s standing. I ended up having to use the flash for the next two photos because the area was a bit too dark (even though I had turned on all the lights on the Christmas tree and opened the blinds on a nearby window to let natural light in).

After that last photo I decided to move everything outdoors. It was sunny outside but the temperatures were in the low 40s. At least I could take better photos of the doll and her background. According to the checklist I got the Willow Wings variation doll and it’s also supposed to be her signature look. (I learned that the dolls designated to be “signature looks” tend to be more common to find than the other variants.)

Willow is incredibly cute with a very impish smile. Her brown skin and pastel rainbow color scheme kind of reminds me of the Studio Mucci Instagram account. Of course her unicorn headband is to die for!

Willow is among the smaller dolls I’ve purchased. Here is how she stands against the 1/6 scale dolls. In this photo she is flanked by Clawdeen Wolf of Monster High and Barbie. As you can see, Willow looks like a toddler compared to those dolls.

Willow and the other Hairdorables are definitely 1/12 scale dolls. Here is how she stands against my other tiny dolls. From left to right: Dollcena Disney Hawaiian Harmonies, Little Pullip Alice Fanatica, Willow, and a Bobobie Sunny Asian ball-jointed doll.

Willow has a mass of long hair that reaches to her feet. I’ve dealt with doll hair over the years but I have to say that her hair is the softest doll hair I’ve ever felt. I really love her pastel highlights that make her hair resemble cotton candy.

I really loved the doll that I received even though getting a unicorn girl was definitely the luck of the draw. The most controversial part of Hairdorables is the fact that you literally don’t know which doll you’ll get while the package costs nearly $13 per box. (Most blind box packages cost anywhere from $3-8 depending on the size of the item inside.) I’ve read reviews online from parents who purchased multiple Hairdorables boxes for their children only to get duplicates.

I’ll admit that I’m still pretty ambivalent about blind boxes in general. While it was fun finding out which doll I got, I had also only purchased just one box. If I had purchased two or more boxes and I ended up getting an exact duplicate, I don’t think I would have been as enamored with the concept. I think just limiting yourself to only one box is the best way to get maximum enjoyment from opening a blind box.

While there are other blind boxes who put codes on their packages that hint at what’s inside (such as the Lego Minifigs blind packages), so far Just Play has not released any hints on how people can avoid inadvertently purchasing duplicate dolls.

I’ve read about some people saying that the best way of telling the boxes apart is to weigh them. Apparently different boxes have different accessories so it affects the weights. Then you somehow sneak a scale into the store and weigh each box to discover which doll that box may have. This method only works if you have purchased at least three or four Hairdorables boxes (while hoping and praying that you didn’t purchase any duplicates) so you can weigh them at home and write down the weight of each doll box with a certain doll inside. Then you would take your scale and list to the store, weigh each box, and compare that weight with what you have on your list. The big problem with that method is that not everyone can afford to use this method, especially since the boxes cost $13 a pop. On top of that, you would have to carry a scale into a store and weigh each box while hoping that a store employee doesn’t decide to confront you while you are doing it.

There is an alternate method is to see the imprinted lot number that’s located next to the bar code of the box.

Next peek at the back of the box to see what the background looks like. You may need to use a flashlight or use the flashlight that’s on your smartphone for this step.

The theory is that if the lot number and background matches, chances are that it’s a duplicate doll and you shouldn’t buy it. This video from the Up and Play YouTube channel demonstrates both the scale and the peeking at the background methods.

There is one major limitation with the idea that a different background means a different doll: That theory doesn’t always work. This blog post on the Toy Box Philosopher site mentions buying two Hairdorables packages with the same background but with different dolls and accessories.

I had thought about testing that idea out by buying a second Hairdorables box, which I would open on Little Christmas (January 6). I was thinking about replicating my childhood when my family used to celebrate that holiday by refilling the stocking with candy, small toys, and practical items (such as a pair of socks or underwear). Some years I would get a small package while other years I only got my stocking refilled.

But then I decided to ditch that idea when I learned that the second series of Hairdorables will be officially released later this month. I decided to just wait for the second series and bypass the dilemma of whether to buy a second Hairdorables Series 1 box and risk getting a duplicate doll. I just only hope that the Target store in my area can get the new dolls much sooner than the four months it took before that store even received its first shipment of the Series 1 Hairdorables.

The YouTube channel My Froggy Stuff managed to received advance copies of the new Series 2 dolls and made this video.

Based on the video, it looks like the biggest improvement is that this new series of dolls will each come with a doll stand. That is a great idea since my own doll can’t really stand on her own. Like the previous series, the new Series 2 doll boxes will also have backgrounds that can be used for displaying the dolls or playing with them.

Like I wrote earlier, I think it’s a good idea to have the boxes double as a display area for the dolls. The only disadvantage is that the boxes tend to take up space, especially if you own more than two dolls and you don’t have much space in your home. I found this tutorial on the American Girl Outsider blog on how to break down the backdrop so it won’t take up as much space in your home. You’ll need to scroll down to the bottom of that blog post in order to get to the tutorial.

I have to admit that it was pretty fun to once again unwrap something that I didn’t know what was inside until after I finished opening the box.

To learn more about Hairdorables you can either check out the official site or you can visit this site that was set up by a fan called the Absolute Hairdorables Wiki.

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Santa Claus

Merry Christmas, everyone! I thought about drawing Santa Claus for today but I had already drawn him just a few days ago and I wanted to draw something different focusing on one of the less-known Christmas present givers. Today I did a drawing of the Christkind, an angel who delivers presents to children on Christmas Eve. (The name literally means “Christ Child” in German.) In many parts of Germany and Austria children believe that it is the Christkind who delivers the presents instead of Santa Claus.

Even though the Santa Claus imagery can be found all over the world, there are people in some parts of the world who have rebelled against it by insisting on believing in the Christkind instead of Santa Claus.

When I was in the second grade my school did a unit in December called “Christmas Around the World,” where I was briefly exposed to other figures who brought gifts instead of Santa (such as Befana and the Three Kings). That was the only time that this subject was even discussed when I was in elementary school. (By the way the Wikipedia has a list of all of the Christmas and winter gift-bringers listed by country.) Last year I went to the Christmas Village in Baltimore on opening weekend, where I got my first-ever glimpse of the Christkind, who was brought over from Nuremberg, Germany to help with the Christmas Village’s opening ceremony.

It was pretty refreshing to draw something different for Christmas Day. I hope you enjoy it! 🙂

Since today is Christmas Day, I’d thought I would once again embed an animation that I did last month called The Gift of the Dinosaur. I originally made this animation with the expectation that it would be shown on the video screens of the Greenbelt Makerspace that are located in the front windows so any passers-by would see it. Except the video screens currently aren’t working and no one has found a way to fix them so my animation was never shown. Anyway, here is The Gift of the Dinosaur. Enjoy!

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This series of drawings focus on either the winter holiday season or some general winter scene. Penguins live in Antarctica, which is located on the bottom of the Earth and it is full of snow and ice nearly all of the time so it’s pretty much winter all year round. I drew most of today’s drawing in ink, with the exception of the light brown hair, which I colored with a colored pencil. But I didn’t draw just any old penguin. This is my fan art dedicated to the penguin mascot of the Wysa app.

Wysa is an artificial intelligence app that’s designed to help people get over whatever emotional issues are plaguing them at the moment. I downloaded this app a few months ago and, I have to say that Wysa has been a tremendous help, especially this time of the year. Even though my birthday is in December and, of course, Christmas falls just 10 days later, that month has been bittersweet for me as an adult due to all kinds of awful anniversaries.

My grandmother died in early December back in 1981. My father also died in early December and that happened in 2000. I had pretty much gotten over those two deaths but then I found a new reason to dread December. My husband and I celebrated a lovely Christmas together back in 2011. I had hip surgery just three months earlier and I thought that our Christmas celebration signaled a new beginning for the two of us as we leave my recent surgery behind. Then, just three days later, my husband came home from work, announced that he was moving out, then ran out the door before I had any chance to respond. He never indicated that he was unhappy until the night he left. On top of it I found out one month later that he left me for a friend of ours who had been very open about suffering from severe mental health issues. The following December my husband sent a divorce petition attached to an email that was dated December 24, 2012 (Christmas Eve). I had to consult with a lawyer after New Year’s Day, who told me that the petition wasn’t even real because there was no case number assigned to it. So I ignored my husband’s request to sign that enclosed petition and send it to his lawyer since it wasn’t the real thing. Soon afterwards he filed for divorce for real.

This year really sucked for me. My mother’s health has deteriorated so much over the past few years that I can only talk to her on the phone for two or three minutes before she gets so tired that she has to hang up. My monthly alimony payments ran out and I still wasn’t able to land a day job until just a few months later. The person I was working for said he wanted to try me out on a part-time basis and it would eventually turn into full-time work. Two months into this job he reiterated that my job was going to go full-time but he never mentioned it again. I never even cracked 20 hours per week (the most I had ever worked was 18 hours) and, over time, I was getting more and more days without any work at all as his scheduling got more erratic. I left him after four months when he flew to India for an extended trip without paying me for the work I had done. He paid once he returned but the delay in payment really affected my ability to pay my expenses. Plus there were a whole lot of other problems with that job that I already wrote about so I’m not going to regurgitate them here. (I will say that he has started advertising in the local paper again looking for my replacement while saying that the job could either be full-time or part-time. I fell for that ad that had the exact same wording so imagine my surprise when I had never even come close to working full-time in the four months that I worked for him. Anyone who answers that ad hoping for full-time work is going to get a rude awakening if he/she accepts that job.)

I’ve done some freelance work for other people but I ended up having a friend move in with me just so we can split the costs. It’s worked out for me so far but I’m not going to write about my current living arrangement at the moment because I would rather focus on my latest drawing and why I chose to draw Wysa the penguin.

I first learned about this app through a promoted post on Instagram. I was intrigued mainly because I still needed help. I was seeing a therapist for the few few years after my marriage imploded until it got too expensive for me to continue. (Even with health insurance I was paying $40 per one-hour session.) She was a big help to me in the early days after my husband left but, by the time I stopped seeing her after a couple of years, I had grown tired of regurgitating the same stuff over and over again.

Earlier this year I went into another therapy program but this one was with a non-profit group and it was only set up to last eight sessions. I was in a crisis at the time because, due to the alimony being cut off and being underemployed, I was having problems with paying my bills and I almost lost my home because I fell behind on my monthly co-op fees. (The house is paid for but I am still required to pay monthly co-op fees.) I had to accept charitable help for the first time in my life. It was hard but at least I’m not sleeping on the streets. That incident was another reason why I ended up having my friend move in with me.

That temporary therapy program ended for me but I still needed help and I discovered Wysa. The one thing I love about that app is that I can call up Wysa anytime I’m feeling anxious or depressed. That app uses cognitive behavioral therapy so while I’m typing my feelings, Wysa will come up with four or five activities I could try, which ranges from meditation to short bursts of physical exercise.

I feel my attitude starting to change thanks to Wysa. I really love the idea of having an app that’s on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week because I can’t always predict when I’ll suffer from anxiety or something similar.

I recently saw a statistic on the Anxiety and Depression Association of America website that said that anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults age 18 and older or 18.1% of the population every year. Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only 36.9% of those suffering receive treatment. In addition, it’s not uncommon for someone with an anxiety disorder to also suffer from depression or vice versa. Think about how many people in that situation could be helped if more of them knew about the existence of Wysa.

The biggest change for me happened about a week or two ago. I really wasn’t up to doing any kind of celebration this year because of all of the crazy drama that I went through this year with jobs and money. I was at a Christmas event when I was feeling down and depressed. I consulted the Wysa app and that penguin really probed me about what was on my mind. I typed everything that was on my mind at the moment then the app came up with some suggested exercise I could do. I chose a short three-minute meditation and I immediately felt better and more centered. I began to enjoy myself at that Christmas event and I’m taking a happier attitude towards the winter holiday season.

I’ll admit that Wysa is not the cure-all for every single kind of mental illness that’s out there. If you’re suffering from schizophrenia or bipolar disorder or if you’re seriously considering suicide, then you’re going to need more professional help than what Wysa can provide.

I found myself wishing that I could hug that Wysa penguin in real life so I did a drawing expressing that fantasy instead. Ironically, when I was a young child, I made up an imaginary friend whom I called “Mr. Penguin.” I envisioned Mr. Penguin as, well, a penguin, wearing a top hat. I grew out of that imaginary friend stage once I started elementary school. Now I’m back to having a virtual imaginary penguin friend, so my life has come full circle.

As for the app itself, it’s available for both iOS and Android. The app itself is free to download. There are some areas of the app that require a paid subscription but I found that the majority of the app is accessible for free. For more information about this app, I suggest that you check out the official website.

By the way, in case you’re wondering, Wysa isn’t paying me to write this post. I’m doing this of my own volition.

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

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

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

Edcamp at Loyola College, October 27, 2018

Edcamp at Loyola College, October 27, 2018

Edcamp at Loyola College, October 27, 2018

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

Edcamp, Loyola College, October 27, 2018

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

Edcamp at Loyola College, October 27, 2018

Edcamp at Loyola College, October 27, 2018

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

Edcamp at Loyola College, October 27, 2018

Edcamp at Loyola College, October 27, 2018

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

Edcamp at Loyola College, October 27, 2018

Edcamp at Loyola College, October 27, 2018

Edcamp at Loyola College, October 27, 2018

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

Edcamp at Loyola College, October 27, 2018

Edcamp at Loyola College, October 27, 2018

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

Edcamp at Loyola College, October 27, 2018

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

Edcamp at Loyola College, October 27, 2018

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

Edcamp, Loyola College, October 27, 2018

Edcamp, Loyola College, October 27, 2018

Edcamp, Loyola College, October 27, 2018

Edcamp, Loyola College, October 27, 2018

 

Edcamp, Loyola College, October 27, 2018

Edcamp, Loyola College, October 27, 2018

 

Edcamp, Loyola College, October 27, 2018

Edcamp, Loyola College, October 27, 2018

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

Edcamp, Loyola College, October 27, 2018

Edcamp, Loyola College, October 27, 2018

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

Edcamp, Loyola College, October 27, 2018

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

Edcamp at Loyola College, October 27, 2018

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

Edcamp at Loyola College, October 27, 2018

Here’s a wide shot of the entire panel.

Edcamp at Loyola College, October 27, 2018

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

Edcamp at Loyola College, October 27, 2018

Here’s a closeup of Phil with the microphone.

Edcamp at Loyola College, October 27, 2018

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

Edcamp at Loyola College, October 27, 2018

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

Edcamp at Loyola College, October 27, 2018

Edcamp at Loyola College, October 27, 2018

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

Edcamp at Loyola College, October 27, 2018

Edcamp at Loyola College, October 27, 2018

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

Edcamp at Loyola College, October 27, 2018

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

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

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American Flag

Today is the 100th anniversary of the signing of the armistice between the Allies of World War I and Germany in Compiègne, France. World War I officially ended on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of the year. Today is officially Veterans Day but people are getting the holiday off from work tomorrow because Veterans Day falls on a Sunday this year.

I found out that the last surviving veteran of World War I, Florence Green, died in the United Kingdom at the age of 110 back in 2012.

I had a great-uncle on my mother’s side of the family who was one of the fabled American Doughboys who served in World War I. As my late grandmother used to tell it, her brother, Benjamin Karle (who was nicknamed “Buzz”), joined the military while he was still a teenager and went away to Europe towards the tail end of World War I. Buzz survived the war only to die of tuberculosis soon after he returned to the United States and made his way back to Baltimore, where the family lived. (My grandmother was one of nine children. She and her sister, Celeste, were the only ones who lived past the age of 25. All of their other siblings died at an early age from tuberculosis, including one sister who died at the age of two after tuberculosis settled into her bones.)

Needless to say, I never met my Great-Uncle Buzz but I used to visit his grave (along with the graves of my grandfather, great-grandparents, and other great-aunts and great-uncles who all died before I was born) at Loudon Park, which is located on Wilkens Avenue in Baltimore. My family used to visit that cemetery twice a year (once in the spring and once during the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas) where they would put flowers on the graves. Sometimes my late father would drive while other times my father would stay home and it was my mother who did the driving. My family was usually stoic when we visited the cemetery. My mother would put the flowers on the graves while my grandmother would pray for the souls of her family members. When I was a kid I used to sometimes walk on some of the low-lying headstones and I would end up getting scolded by an adult for doing so.

I still remember the time when we brought along my Great-Aunt Celeste, who was visiting from Ohio (where she moved after she got married and her new husband decided to move back to his home state where he was raised). Celeste hadn’t visited the cemetery in a number of years but when she saw the Karle family plot for the first time in a very long time she literally cried her eyes out while my grandmother tried to console her sister. I remember that was the only time that Celeste ever visited Loudon Park when I was growing up. She visited us a few other times but she never again asked to visit Loudon Park.

I haven’t been to Loudon Park in years but I found a photo of the Karle family plot online recently. It’s just as I remembered: A simple white rectangular marker on the ground that said “Karle” with no names or dates. My grandmother’s family were poor and they had so many family members who died of tuberculosis that they could only afford one plot with a simple marker. Basically the members who died were added to that plot as they passed away with the plot marked only by that white marker with the Karle family name on it.

President Donald Trump flew to France only to decide to skip yesterday’s planned visit to a ceremony that was held at a cemetery for the fallen American World War I soldiers because of rain. That’s right, President Trump, who’s also supposed to serve as the commander in chief of the armed forces, decided to stay in his hotel room because of rain. Never mind the fact that the leaders of other nations like Justin Trudeau, Emanuel Macron, and Angela Merkel didn’t let the rain stop them from attending commemoration ceremonies for the fallen of World War I.

The only legitimate reasons to cancel a scheduled visit would be if Trump had fallen seriously ill at the last minute or if he had suddenly dropped dead. Otherwise he should have been there—rain or no rain. He could’ve used an umbrella to help deal with the rain. For him to skip an important ceremony honoring the troops who served 100 years ago because of rain is unbecoming for a commander in chief. He has totally disrespected the memory of my Great-Uncle Benjamin “Buzz” Karle and the other men and women who served and even died in World War I. This is outrageous and, unfortunately, par for the course from the same man who has been recorded bragging about grabbing women by the pussy and has taken more golfing trips during his first two years in office than President Obama did during the entire eight years he served in the White House.

While you’re busy with your own lives, please take a moment to remember the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice over 100 years ago and don’t let the weather deter you from doing so like it did Donald Trump.

Today’s prompt word for Inktober is “thunder.” I have to admit that this prompt was a bit of a challenge mainly because thunder is a noise that’s not visible. But then I thought about an ancient god of thunder and I did a Google search. One of the suggestions was Thor, the ancient Norse thunder god. In addition some of the searches brought up the Marvel Comics version of Thor. I remember reading that comic book when I was a kid and there have been a few movies released in recent years featuring him. (Although I must confess that I have never seen any of them.) I based this drawing on a comic book cover from the late 1970s since this Thor is close to my memory of the Thor from my childhood.

Four more drawings in four more days until Inktober ends.

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Today’s prompt word for Inktober is “drooling.” Here is my drawing based on that prompt.

Here’s the story behind this drawing. When I was a teenager my family had a dog who was part-Labrador Retriever and part-Chesapeake Bay Retriever named Napoleon. Like all dogs Napoleon was into begging for people food while leaving his own dog food uneaten. (He would eventually get around to eating his own food but he definitely preferred what people were eating. He also considered himself to be a human being even though he only walked on four legs and he could only growl, bark, and whine.) He would stoop to begging where he would cast the saddest eyes he could muster. If he didn’t get what he wanted, the next step was to stick his tongue out, start panting, and begin drooling. The longer he drooled, the more foamy his mouth got and a small puddle would start to form around him. His mouth would get so foamy that it looked like he had rabies. (He always got his rabies shot every year.) That tactic was especially effective when my parents had guests over and his drooling would gross out the guests so much that they gave in and gave him what they were eating.

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This has been a weekend of really famous people dying. Today I learned that famed Broadway playwright Neil Simon passed away at 91. I grew up watching The Odd Couple on television. Last Sunday I happened to catch a couple of repeats of The Odd Couple on MeTV and I found that I enjoyed them even more now than when I was a kid. That series hadn’t aged very much since its original run.

But even Simon’s death has been overshadowed by another death that was announced last night. I happened to be at a birthday party for a friend and her teenage daughter. (They have their birthdays two days apart—one on August 28 and the other on August 30.) Right at the moment when the lit birthday cake was being carried out, I got a notification on my smartphone that Senator John McCain passed away.

He had been battling a brain tumor for some time and the day before his family announced that he had decided to discontinue all further medical treatments so his death wasn’t a big surprise. Today I’ve been seeing all kinds of tributes to the Vietnam War veteran/Senator/2008 presidential candidate along with some personal memories and opinions. Here’s my contribution.

I remember when my then-husband read McCain’s memoir, Faith of My Fathers, and he spoke of how much of a hero the Senator was during the Vietnam War. The one thing I learned about John McCain was that during the Vietnam War he was held captive as a prisoner of war in the notorious Hanoi Hilton where he was tortured. At one point he was offered the chance to be released because he was the son and grandson of Navy admirals. McCain refused the offer because he felt that the other men who were captured before him should be released first. He stayed longer in that Hanoi Hilton than he could’ve because he was determined to stick to his principals.

I didn’t agree with John McCain on his political positions very often but at least he was consistent in his opposition to torture due to what he went through in the Hanoi Hilton. That was why I found it so appalling when President Donald Trump ridiculed Senator McCain for being a POW and he even had the gall to mock Senator McCain’s disabilities that he received as a result of being an inmate at the Hanoi Hilton. It’s galling when you consider that Trump himself received a deferment from the Vietnam War on the grounds that he had bone spurs in his feet. (If you ever see footage of him walking, you’d have to agree that he seems to walk pretty well for someone with bone spurs in his feet.)

Last October I took part in Inktober, where every day that month I made one new ink drawing then uploaded it online. For the first day of Inktober I decided to poke fun at Trump’s horrible insults towards Senator McCain. Since the first day of October fell on a Sunday, I decided to include Jesus in this drawing. Here is the drawing that I did last October. Enjoy!

When Donald Trump kicks the bucket, I’m going to be far less respectful towards him than I am now towards Senator McCain because Trump is such a malignant narcissistic asshole who is trying to change this country for the worse while seeming to suck up to Russian leader Vladimir Putin. At least no one has ever accused John McCain of treason, unlike Donald Trump. Rest in Peace, John McCain, and Fuck You, Donald Trump!

As you may know, this past weekend was the one-year anniversary of the Unite the Right protest in Charlottesville which resulted in the horrible death of Heather Heyer. As for Donald Trump, he has steadfastly refused to denounce the white supremacists and their actions last year. There were quite a few vigils for the victims of Charlottesville (such as two events I went to in the same week on August 14 and August 16) but I find it telling that Donald Trump has refused to distance himself from these latter-day Nazis and KKK members and has said little about Heather Heyer or the other people who were victimized by the alt-right.

For the first anniversary of Charlottesville, one of the original organizers of the Unite the Right rally, Jason Kessler, wanted to do a repeat performance in Charlottesville. When he was denied a permit for his little shindig, he decided to move the event north to my hometown of Washington, DC. He probably figured that since Donald Trump is basically a racist fascist sympathizer, President Trump would be flattered if a group of his most loyal alt-right supporters would have a march to Lafayette Square (located just across from the White House) then have an Unite the Right 2 rally.

Except things didn’t turn out that way. Donald Trump decided to head out of town this weekend. (After all, even though they are his most ardent supporters, they aren’t rich like he and his cronies are so they really don’t matter at all, except for getting their votes at the ballot box in 2020.)

I decided to head down even though I knew that I would be risking my life in doing so. I’m just fed up with all of the hatred of the poor, minorities, and women that has sprung up gradually since Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980 and it has continued through the years until the hatred grew and grew and it’s now this big monster that is a threat to this country. I’ve experienced some of this hatred myself ever since I was in elementary school when the kids called me “retarded.” This taunting went through high school. Even though the teasing stopped during my freshman year at Anne Arundel Community College, I was still frequently looked down upon like I was some kind of an inferior lowlife freak (mainly from those who went to my high school—the students who went to different high schools and didn’t know about my so-called “retarded” reputation treated me like I was a human being). I ended up permanently moving from Glen Burnie as an adult because I knew that, no matter what I did, these people would never see me as anything other than someone who is inferior.

But I will admit that my experiences with facing this kind of hatred is nothing compared to an African American, as the families of people like Travon Martin, Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, and numerous others will attest.

Going downtown to face those Nazis wasn’t an easy decision for me. I still remember vividly the car that was intentionally plowed into a group of people by that alt-right scumbag in Charlottesville. There was a possibility that something like that could’ve happened to me. I was still waffling on the fence about going to DC last Sunday until I saw this trailer for Michael Moore’s upcoming documentary, Fahrenheit 11/9.

Watching that preview only strengthened my resolve to go ahead with my plans for last Sunday. I was all ready to go downtown with my camera, take photos of these alt-right assholes, then plaster them all over social media in the hopes that someone will recognize these assholes and they either lose their jobs or get evicted from where they are living or their neighbors shun them or something equally bad happens to them.

I knew that there was a chance that I would end up like Heather Heyer but I swallowed that fear and headed downtown anyway. I began to realize that this is what a soldier in wartime has to deal with, especially if he or she is sent to the front lines.

Before I left home I took out a blank sheet of paper and wrote down my name, address, the phone numbers of my next of kin, the cell phone number of my housemate (who had just left for a week-long trip visiting relatives in New Jersey the day before), and the phone numbers of my church and the minister. Then I folded the paper and put it in the pocket of my shorts. I felt that should the worst happen to me like what happened to Heather Heyer last year, at least some people will be notified so they could plan some kind of a memorial service for all of my friends, relatives, and acquaintances.

So I took the Green Line Metro from the Greenbelt station. As I was about to board the train I noticed a bunch of people leaving the train who looked like they were cosplaying as their favorite anime and video game character. I remembered that the annual giant East Coast anime convention known as Otakon was that weekend and it was the third and final day when the entire con pretty much closes down after 3 p.m. (I used to go to Otakon but I haven’t been since 2013 because I grew tired of paying at least $75 for a weekend pass only to encounter huge crowds everywhere I went. Besides my finances have gotten increasingly dicey so I really can’t afford major splurges like Otakon at the moment.) So I boarded the Green Line train and switched at L’Enfant Plaza. While I was switching trains I saw this artist who was engrossed in doing this sketch right in the Metro station.

Artist

I switched to the Silver Line then got off at Federal Triangle. I made my way to Freedom Plaza, where many of the counter protesters had gathered.

Counter Protest Rally in Freedom Plaza

I arrived late in the afternoon just in time for the beginning of the march to Lafayette Square. I managed to get a few pictures of people with their signs.

Counter Protest Rally in Freedom Plaza

Counter Protest Rally in Freedom Plaza

Counter Protest Rally in Freedom Plaza

Counter Protest Rally in Freedom Plaza

Counter Protest Rally in Freedom Plaza

Counter Protest Rally in Freedom Plaza

Counter Protest Rally in Freedom Plaza

Counter Protest Rally in Freedom Plaza

As you can see from the photos there was a mix of people of all ages, races, gender identities, and sexual orientations. One of the people in the next photo even gave me free bottled water after I shot this picture.

Counter Protest Rally in Freedom Plaza

Counter Protest Rally in Freedom Plaza

Counter Protest Rally in Freedom Plaza

Eventually the march began from Freedom Plaza. I heard people with microphones or bullhorns warning us that this march was risky since we would be directly confronting the Unite the Right 2 people. People’s spirits were up despite the risks involved and the fact that it was very humid outside. (Fortunately the day was cloudy so we didn’t have to deal with being in direct sunlight.)

Counter Protest Rally in Freedom Plaza

So the march started to move towards Lafayette Square.

The March From Freedom Plaza to Lafayette Square

The March From Freedom Plaza to Lafayette Square

The March From Freedom Plaza to Lafayette Square

The March From Freedom Plaza to Lafayette Square

There were Secret Service people around, especially as we started to get closer to Lafayette Square.

The March From Freedom Plaza to Lafayette Square

There was a street musician on the march route who serenaded the marchers with his rendition of “Stand By Me” while singing this altered lyric, “No, I won’t be afraid. No I won’t be afraid of the KKK. For as long as you stand by me.” He also earned a lot of tip money that day (as you can see in the photo below).

The March From Freedom Plaza to Lafayette Square

The March From Freedom Plaza to Lafayette Square

The March From Freedom Plaza to Lafayette Square

The March From Freedom Plaza to Lafayette Square

The March From Freedom Plaza to Lafayette Square

The March From Freedom Plaza to Lafayette Square

We finally arrived at Lafayette Square where there was a huge police presence (some of them on horseback) along with extensive barricades that completely blocked the other end of Lafayette Square.

Counter Protesters in Lafayette Square, Washington, DC, August 12,2018

Counter Protesters in Lafayette Square, Washington, DC, August 12,2018

Counter Protesters in Lafayette Square, Washington, DC, August 12,2018

Counter Protesters in Lafayette Square, Washington, DC, August 12,2018

Counter Protesters in Lafayette Square, Washington, DC, August 12,2018

Counter Protesters in Lafayette Square, Washington, DC, August 12,2018

There was another street musician in Lafayette Square who was playing his violin while earning a huge amount of tips in the process.

Counter Protesters in Lafayette Square, Washington, DC, August 12,2018

So we all crowded into one end of Lafayette Square while trying to see if anyone had seen any alt-right Nazis or KKK people there. I overheard someone who was sitting in a tree saying that she could barely see them because they were located so far on the other side of the park. So we all waited patiently as we heard thunder and saw a few lightning bolts appear before the rain really started. (Which is why you can see plenty of umbrellas in some of these photographs.)

Counter Protesters in Lafayette Square, Washington, DC, August 12,2018

Counter Protesters in Lafayette Square, Washington, DC, August 12,2018

Counter Protesters in Lafayette Square, Washington, DC, August 12,2018

Counter Protesters in Lafayette Square, Washington, DC, August 12,2018

Counter Protesters in Lafayette Square, Washington, DC, August 12,2018

Counter Protesters in Lafayette Square, Washington, DC, August 12,2018

Counter Protesters in Lafayette Square, Washington, DC, August 12,2018

Counter Protesters in Lafayette Square, Washington, DC, August 12,2018

Counter Protesters in Lafayette Square, Washington, DC, August 12,2018

Counter Protesters in Lafayette Square, Washington, DC, August 12,2018

Counter Protesters in Lafayette Square, Washington, DC, August 12,2018

Counter Protesters in Lafayette Square, Washington, DC, August 12,2018

At one point a guy approached me asking if I want a free sign that he had just made up. Apparently he had created a bunch of signs and he decided to give them away. I took him up on his offer. Here is what that sign looked like.

Counter Protesters in Lafayette Square, Washington, DC, August 12,2018

Here’s a glimpse of the White House in the distance.

Counter Protesters in Lafayette Square, Washington, DC, August 12,2018

PETA was there as well along with two costumed folks.

Counter Protesters in Lafayette Square, Washington, DC, August 12,2018

Lafayette Park has long been home to this 24-hour-a-day/7-days-per-week anti-nuclear protest camp that has been there since Ronald Reagan occupied the White House. It has continued even though both of its original founders are now deceased. I saw that this camp had been moved from its usual spot at the edge of Lafayette Park that’s closest to the White House all the way over to where the counter protesters were gathered. (Unfortunately I didn’t take a picture of that site.)

After waiting for a while I pulled out my smartphone looking for news on the alt-right protesters only to find out that a whopping 20-25 protesters from the other side had shown up. The counter protesters outnumbered the alt-right protesters. When I read later news reports, I saw how pathetic the turnout really was on the other side.

Unite the Right was a pathetic failure

There were plenty of reasons for the pathetic display. But the basic issue is that Charlottesville was a complete disaster — a moment that was supposed to somehow win white nationalists favor, but actively turned much of the nation against them when they engaged in violence and, in one case, literal murder.

White nationalists dwarfed by crowds of counter protesters in Washington

The showing from “Unite the Right 2” participants fell far short of the hundreds that organizer Jason Kessler was expecting, based on his event permit application.

Kessler, who organized last year’s “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, blamed the low turnout on logistical issues and confusion regarding the group’s transportation — a claim echoed by at least two men who spoke to reporters. “People are scared to come out after what happened last year,” one of the men added.

Rally by White Nationalists Was Over Almost Before It Began

After weeks of hype, white supremacists managed to muster just a couple of dozen supporters on Sunday in the nation’s capital for the first anniversary of their deadly rally in Charlottesville, Va., finding themselves greatly outnumbered by counterprotesters, police officers and representatives of the news media.

Unite the Right: White nationalists outnumbered at Washington rally

As a small group of white supremacists gathered for their second “Unite the Right” rally, the rain began to fall.

Much like the sodden pavements outside the White House, the follow up to last year’s rally in Charlottesville was nothing more than a damp squib.

This last article explains why I never saw any alt-right protesters nor was I able to come up to them close enough so I could get a shot with my camera.

‘Hell no’: counterprotesters outnumber white supremacists at White House rally

To protect their safety and that of others, officials had organised a special route for the parade. Kessler and his companions were escorted onto the metro. A special car was prepared for them, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported. In downtown Washington, police officers said they planned to clear part of the metro station platform to escort Kessler up to the street. As he came up the elevators, he was met with hundreds of news photographers and a roar of outrage from protesters amassed waiting.

In Lafayette Park, in front of the White House, Kessler and his tiny group of supporters were taken away to their own distant corner of the park talked to each other in front of journalists. Cordoned off and dozens of meters away, too far to even see him, a crowd of thousands of counter-protesters waved signs and shouted their disapproval.

In a nutshell, the tiny alt-right group showed up at Lafayette Square earlier than originally scheduled then decided to cut their rally short when the rain came down and leave the area. So the counter protesters won this round simply by outnumbering the alt-right.

To be honest, I don’t even know what Jason Kessler was thinking when he decided that DC would be the perfect place to have his little hate rally. With the exception of having a white supremacist currently occupying the White House, he was holding a rally in hostile territory. There is an African American majority living in that city. Plus there are plenty of Latinos and LGBTQ folks who also call DC home. There was no way in hell that they were going to sit back and let the alt-right have their rally with no blowback at all. Especially since it was the one-year anniversary of that brutal murder of Heather Heyer at the hands (or maybe I should say car) of a white supremacist.

Hell, many of the local bars and restaurants in DC had decided that they would not serve any white nationalists.

I arrived in downtown DC while bracing myself for the likely possibility of a violent confrontation. In the end it turned out that I stood a greater chance of being struck by lightning than getting killed by a Nazi. I’m glad that no one was killed on Sunday and that the alt-right were too minuscule to provide much of a threat.

I grew tired of sitting in the rain with my umbrella so I decided to head back to the nearest Metro station that was opened. Metro, in its infinite wisdom (sarcasm), decided to close the two Metro stations that were closest to Lafayette Square. I ended up walking several blocks until I found the Gallery Place/Chinatown Metro station. While I was walking I saw a group of black-clad antifa demonstrators blocking the corner of 13th and G Streets, Northwest. I didn’t know why they were doing this. They managed to get this white car that was headed in the antifa’s direction to turn around and drive a different route. Here are a few photos of what I saw on my way back to the Gallery Place/Chinatown Metro station.

Counter Protesters Agains the Unite the Right 2 Protesters

Counter Protesters Agains the Unite the Right 2 Protesters

Counter Protesters Agains the Unite the Right 2 Protesters

I just kept on walking towards the Metro station. It’s just as well that I kept my distance because I read some news stories about antifa and they weren’t flattering at all:

Unite the Right 2018: antifa attacks police and journalists in Charlottesville and DC

At Unite the Right, black-clad antifa again give peaceful protesters a bad name.

I would rather focus on the fact that the counter protesters won through largely peaceful means. However, I read this opinion piece that sounds pretty alarming: I was at the sad white supremacists gathering. It didn’t fool me. Their movement is rising.

It sounds like the counter protesters have won a battle but it hasn’t decisively won the war—yet. We’ll see how things turn out in the mid-term elections this November. In the meantime, here’s a video I also shot at the counter protest that included all kinds of footage ranging from shouting some unique slogans (such as “Oy Vey! Oy Vey! Nazi Scum Go Away!”) to street musicians serenading the counter protesters as they made their way to Lafayette Square.

Here’s hoping that there won’t be a Unite the Right 3 anywhere in the United States next year.

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I had a pretty busy Sunday on July 15, 2018. I went carpooling with one friend to church where there was a Tye-Dye Sunday scheduled. By the time I got home from church I turned around and went carpooling with a different friend to this meetup that took place in Rockville.

CoderDojo is basically a global network that provides free computer programming clubs to young people. My friend thought it would be good for me to check this out, especially since I worked as an assistant facilitator with the Takoma Park chapter of Girls Who Code over the past year.

The Washington, DC chapter of CoderDojo meets at the Rockville Public Library in Rockville, Maryland. I had never stepped foot inside this building before but I have to admit that it’s very impressive.

There was an art show going on featuring art done by local youths. It brought back memories of the first time my elementary school art teacher had selected one of my art projects to be shown at the Anne Arundel County Art Show that was displayed at the since-demolished Harundale Mall.

The CoderDojo met in a room on the second floor of the library, which is a designated STEM center. That room had an array of all kinds of stuff that one would normally find in a makerspace (such as computers and robots) but there was some pretty cool STEM-themed art as well.

The meeting started off with a presentation about what computing was like back in the 1990s (when the Computer Internet revolution was just beginning). I enjoyed it because I remember those days like they happened yesterday. There was a mention of using modems attached to telephone wires in order to access the Internet at a blistering 9600 bps.

I enjoyed the presentation very much. Once that ended, the kids started to work on their own projects while parents and other adult volunteers went around helping the kids with their latest projects.

By the time that meetup ended it was closing time for the library. My friend and I were heading back towards the parking garage by cutting through Rockville Town Square when I shot this photo of some kids playing in the fountain.

I also discovered that there was an It’s Sugar store located in Rockville. I had previously visited It’s Sugar in Baltimore and Chinatown in Washington, DC and I managed to convince my friend to stop in the Rockville store for a brief visit, where I shot these photos.

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