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On July 4 I went to a party at a friend’s place whose house directly overlooks Greenbelt Lake, where the city of Greenbelt, Maryland has its annual Fourth of July fireworks. The party started in the afternoon and the original plan was that we would all head outside and see the fireworks from my friend’s place. It was a great plan.

Except it rained on July 4. The party went on as scheduled but we all got word via the Internet that the official Greenbelt Fourth of July fireworks would be postponed until the following evening. Instead we watched a broadcast of the Fourth of July celebrations from Washington, DC, which featured fireworks that briefly became a controversy when footage showed the people attending the pre-fireworks concert wearing rain ponchos while the stage was wet and the sky was cloudy yet the fireworks themselves showed them being launched in clear pristine skies. (It turned out that someone at Maryland Public Television decided to show recorded fireworks footage from a previous year instead of live broadcasting this year’s fireworks because they were launched in thick clouds.)

Having the city of Greenbelt postponed the fireworks for the following evening prompted the cancellation of a scheduled late afternoon pre-fireworks performance of patriotic music by a local orchestra because the members of that orchestra are all volunteers who have day jobs. Since July 5 was a workday many of them couldn’t abruptly take leave from their jobs to arrive by 2 or 3 in the afternoon so they could set up and perform. But a community drumming circle that was scheduled to perform after that orchestra was not only able to go on as scheduled but it even took over the outdoor stage that was originally reserved for the orchestra.

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Basically people were free to join and leave the drumming circle as they saw fit. (The organizers of that drumming circle provided drums and percussion instruments for those who didn’t bring their own drum.) I even joined in at one point, while I played on my small Ron Jon’s Surf Shop bongo that I brought with me from home. I shot a video of the entire Fourth of July festivities, which you can watch below.

Here are the rest of the still photos I took at that event, starting with a gathering of people late in the afternoon just before sunset.

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I took a telephoto shot of the area where the fireworks would be launched from.

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There was this vendor who was going around selling all kinds of glow-in-the-dark toys for kids to the crowd. The police showed up and started to grill the vendor. I saw the vendor show this pink slip to the police but apparently it wasn’t what the police wanted to see and he left soon afterwards. I have a feeling that he just showed up selling his wares without formally applying for permission to sell his stuff but I don’t know for sure. I was near the action but I wasn’t within earshot (plus there were other people talking all around me) so I can’t say for sure what was going on.

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I took a few gorgeous sunset photos.

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The rest of the pictures are ones that I shot of the fireworks. I didn’t take as many firework shots as previous years because I’ve already taken numerous fireworks photos and I decided to just enjoy the spectacle for a change. I did take a few token shots because just a few days before someone had posted this article on Medium.com saying that you shouldn’t use a smartphone to take pictures of fireworks because they never turn out well. I wrote another post rebutting that assertion while providing evidence (mainly firework pictures I’ve taken with my smartphone in the past). So I took these firework photos with my smartphone in order to provide recent examples of, yes, it’s possible to take excellent photos with a smartphone.

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I was invited to a party at the home of a woman I met through my support group for people who are separated or divorced. The party was in Crownsville but I decided to do some extensive driving through my old stomping grounds a few hours before the party.

I was doing some browsing on Facebook just a few minutes before I left home when I saw that Madonna Girl Dale was going some more highway dancing in Brooklyn Park. I decided to start my driving tour in Brooklyn Park just to catch up with Madonna Girl Dale. On the way I needed to use the restroom so I stopped at this large place known as Bingo World.

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Bingo World provides a designated smoking area outside its doors, which is such a throwback because I’ve seen signs at so many businesses forbidding smoking near the doors.

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After I went to the bathroom I took a brief look. Bingo World is incredibly huge. One half of the large room has the usual Bingo tables while the other half have slot machines. I’ve played Bingo before but I’ve never seen a Bingo hall that large before. Plus there were all kinds of kitsch decorations to boot. If I wasn’t trying to manage my tight finances, I might’ve given the slot machines a try.

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I saw on that Facebook video that Madonna Girl Dale was dancing next to this temporary fireworks stand and one of the employees was speaking about how they were having a buy one get two free sale (especially since it was the day before the Fourth of July holiday). I found the fireworks stand along Ritchie Highway but Madonna Girl Dale was gone by then. I took a few brief pictures of that stand before I left.

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I drove south along Ritchie Highway until it branched off into Crain Highway and I took Crain going south. I found this building that I recognized from my childhood growing up in Glen Burnie yet it has changed since I moved away years ago. In my day Tony’s Barber Shop was simply a building with a false brick front and aluminum siding on the sides. The only decoration touches it had, besides the “Tony’s Barber Shop” sign, were a couple of red, white, and blue barber poles. Imagine my surprise when I found how more decorated Tony’s Barber Shop had become since I left Glen Burnie.

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There are all kinds of political commentary along with rooting for sports teams. I’m just going to post these photos without any comment from me.

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After checking out Tony’s Barber Shop I went to Crabtowne USA where I played some of their vintage video games and pinball machines. (I didn’t eat anything on that trip because I was on my way to a party where there would be plenty of food there.)

I also visited what used to be the Harundale Mall. My mother loved to take my grandmother and I to Harundale Mall most Saturdays when I was growing up. (Occasionally we would go to Glen Burnie Mall or Jumpers Hole Mall for a change but we mostly stuck with the Harundale Mall.) The Harundale Mall was one of the first enclosed indoor suburban shopping malls that was opened on the East Coast of the United States and it was said that then-Senator (and future President) John F. Kennedy had attended the mall’s grand opening. After I left the mall began to falter when its main anchor store, Hochschild Kohn’s, had gone out of business and gradually more stores began to leave that mall like rats leaving a sinking ship. The opening of Marley Station Mall just a few miles away hastened Harundale Mall’s demise. Eventually the mall closed and it was converted into an open-air shopping center now known as Harundale Plaza.

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The shopping center is very spread out with a small park and a few park benches in the middle of the complex.

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None of the stores and restaurants I remember from the old Harundale Mall are still around. Some stores just went completely out of business while others just moved to other nearby malls and shopping centers. While Harundale Plaza have a few stores and restaurants, I’ve also seen more empty storefronts with “For Leasing” signs such as the one in the photo below.

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During my numerous shopping trips to the Harundale Mall over the years I remember there was a water fountain that had this carved rock commemorating the opening of that mall back in 1958. Even though Harundale Mall is now known as Harundale Plaza, the rock from that mall is still there.

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Seeing all those empty storefronts at the Harundale Plaza was a bit of a bummer since I still remember that shopping area’s better days. After that visit I just headed on to the party, which I’ll write about in another post.

Ramadan

This morning I came across this article on Medium.com titled I Beg of You, Do Not Take Photos of Fireworks With Your Smartphone that was written by Lindsey Weber. The title itself is self-explanatory and it was uploaded just in time for this weekend’s Fourth of July festivities where a lot of communities will sponsor numerous fireworks shows across the United States. Here are a few choice quotes from that article.

Your fireworks photos are bad.

As we approach this year’s annual Fireworks Day, aka July Fourth or Independence Day, no doubt my Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat will be flooded with your horrible, awful, horrendous photos of fireworks.

It’s not your fault! Your smartphone, be it iPhone or Android, was not equipped to take photos of fireworks — so quick, so bright, so impossible to capture that they never appear as gorgeous as IRL through the lens of your cellphone.

You mean like these fireworks photos that I took with my Droid smartphone at the Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival back in April, 2015?

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Skill (and a bit of luck, Stocker adds) is certainly a factor, but without the manual controls of a Real Camera, here is how your many, many fireworks photos will appear:

You mean like these photos that I took with my Droid smartphone at a Bowie Baysox minor league baseball game back in June, 2015?

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Just awful.

Oh, really. So are these fireworks photos I took at last year’s Fourth of July celebrations in Laurel, Maryland with my Droid smartphone “just awful”?

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I’ll admit that not all of my fireworks photos I took with my Droid have been posted online. For every one of my fireworks photos that I actually end up posting online, I take at least 10 other photos that exist only on my hard drive and will never see the light of day because they are just as bad as the Instagram photos Lindsey Weber posts in her article as examples of bad fireworks photography taken with a smartphone. The difference is that I don’t ever post any pictures online that I personally feel is not up to my personal high standards as to what is acceptable to post online. I will admit that some people have no hesitation with posting a blurry photo online because they just want to post something online no matter the quality of the photo itself but I’m not like that. It’s no different from me refusing to step outside in anything other than acceptable street clothes while I’ve seen people out in public wearing pajamas with curlers in their hair or wearing pants so baggy that one can see what color underwear the person is wearing. I’m more hesitant with exposing everything while other people don’t share my hesitancy to put everything online and/or in public.

The other reason to refrain from the stereotypical fireworks photo this Fourth of July is simply that everyone’s doing it. And I don’t just mean taking pictures of fireworks, but seeing fireworks. It’s pretty hard to avoid them — so high up in the sky and so very loud. We all know what they look (and sound) like.

Okay so maybe she has a point there with so many people are already viewing and taking pictures of fireworks so your own photographs are bound to get lost in the online social media Internet shuffle. But you know what? Who cares? If you really want to take photos with your smartphone, go head and do it, even if your mother or grandfather are the only people who will ever see your fireworks photos online. If only one person ever sees your fireworks photos and likes them, you have made that person’s day brighter, even if it’s only for a brief moment.

The only thing that I agree with the writer about is this:

And there’s one tip we should all remember — forever and ever, fireworks or not: Turn off the flash.

I rarely use the flash in my smartphone because the colors always look dull and washed out. And if a person is staring directly into the lens, you’ll get that infamous red eye look where that person looks like he/she is possessed by demons. Generally people tend not to mind being photographed in public places if their eyes don’t get temporarily blinded by the flash.

Instead of snapping at would-be fireworks photographers whose only available camera equipment is a smartphone, I’ll provide this advice. When the fireworks shoot up in the air, take the picture right at the moment when the fireworks pauses in the sky. A firework will typically pause for about one or two seconds before bursting their full display. If you hit the shutter right at that pause, you’ll have a better chance of taking a great fireworks picture.

Getting a terrific fireworks shot with your smartphone will take some practice. I’ll admit that you won’t get the perfect fireworks picture on the first or second try. You might end up taking 50 or more crappy pictures to come up with less than 10 good shots. That’s the nature of photography in general. Most professional photographers will end up taking more pictures than they actually need in order to increase the chances that they will have a few usable photos that they can get paid for.

Just remember that not everything you shoot is worthy to upload on to Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, or some other social media. In fact it might be better if you wait a day or so after shooting those fireworks (when you’ll be less tired after having a good night’s sleep) then sift through the photos that you’ve taken in order to decide which ones you feel are good enough to share online.

But don’t let Lindsey Weber or anyone else deter you from taking fireworks photos if you want to do so. With enough practice you could come up with some fireworks photos that are similar to the ones I took at the Fourth of July celebration at Greenbelt Lake in 2014.

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This year the Fourth of July fell on a Saturday and the Federal Government and some privately-owned businesses decided to observe the holiday on Friday, July 3 so people had a three-day weekend off from work. Yesterday I wrote about how I wasn’t sure how I was going to spend the Fourth of July this year because it has been raining on and off since Wednesday and the rain pour had gotten heavy at times.

Friday was one of those days when it rained heavy off and on but I didn’t mind because I decided to check out Community Forklift‘s monthly First Friday event (when the store is opened a few hours longer than usual until well into the evening and there is live music). I didn’t stay too long because I arrived towards the tail end of that event. But I caught a local rapper performing.

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There are usually sales on a few select items and they are pretty good bargains. It’s just that I didn’t need anything that was on sale at that time.

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As a hardware store specializing in used and recycled goods, one can find the most unusual recycled items that one can buy for his/her own home, such as this gigantic glass and wooden door.

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Then there was this church pew that anyone can purchase for his/her own home, business, or even another house of worship.

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On my way home I decided to stop off at Rita’s Ice Custard in College Park. Rita’s is a drive-in place that’s opened nine months out of the year. (It’s usually closed from November-February.) I hadn’t been there since last summer so I decided to treat myself to some custard. It was also less crowded than usual due to both the rain and the fact that many locals were out of town for the holiday weekend. (On a hot, sunny, and humid summer day one can see long lines extending all the way to the furtherest edge of the parking lot.)

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But then I saw this sign announcing that, due to the ongoing egg shortage, Rita’s was going to serve regular soft ice cream instead of custard. I ordered the soft ice cream and, while it tasted less creamy than the custard, it still tasted pretty good.

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I knew there was an egg shortage when I was doing my usually grocery shopping and I saw a sign announcing that egg prices would be higher due to the egg shortage. I purchased a carton of eggs recently to hard boil (for lunch) but I’m going to switch to non-egg protein alternatives once I run out until the crisis is over.

Saturday morning didn’t start promisingly because it was raining so hard that I could hear it pounding the rooftop. Eventually the rain downpour subsided but it still remained cloudy. By the afternoon I thought that it was borderline enough that I decided to take a chance and head to Laurel where I was going to meet members of my support group for people who are separated or divorced at this Independence Day festival that was being held at Granville Gude Park. The idea would be to meet on a hilltop near this stage starting at 5 p.m. where we would buy dinner from one of the food trucks that would be present, socialize, and dance to this local band that would be performing on stage. Then we would wait until sunset when we would all see the fireworks together.

I arrived a little bit early so I parked my car in Laurel Lakes Shopping Center, which is located within walking distance of the park, and I browsed around in a few stores (mainly Five Below and Michael’s Arts & Crafts). By 5 p.m. it started to rain very heavily once again. I came close to just going home but then I decided to walk over to the Teppanyaki Grill & Buffet and eat dinner there. After dinner, if it continued to rain very heavily, then I would go home.

I last ate there on my birthday back in December (and I even took a few photos of the place, which I posted here) so I knew that I was in for a real treat. I saw that they had steamed blue crabs available and one can pick up as many crabs as he/she wants. It’s been a long time since I had a steamed blue crab that I could crack open and suck out all the meat. (Mainly because steamed blue crabs are typically sold in batches of at least a dozen, which is a bit much for one person to handle at once. I used to eat steamed blue crabs more often when I was married.) The crabs were steamed plain but there was some Old Bay along with a tiny cup where people can scoop up as much of the spice as he/she wants. The crabs were also a very small size, which means that there were far less meat in each crab than in the larger sizes. But I was still happy because lately I had been pining for steamed blue crabs and I’m now satisfied for the time being.

I also ate the sushi and I had something from the Mongolian grill. Basically I stayed there an hour while I fed my face. By the time I left the restaurant I found that the rain had stopped. I decided to return to my car, pick up my portable folding chair from the back seat, and walk over to the park.

I tried looking for my cohorts by following the directions that were posted on Meetup.com but I walked all over the grounds (which so totally saturated by that point that it was like walking through a mud pit at times) and I didn’t find anyone whom I recognized. After walking around for a while, I decided to check the Meetup.com website on my smartphone and I found that the organizer had canceled the event at the last minute. I felt discouraged because there were at least two other fireworks shows closer to my home and I only went to Laurel because I wanted to meet the people whom I’ve known from my support group meetings. I briefly toyed with leaving and going to one of the other firework shows closer to my home but I decided to set up my folding chair and stay put. My attitude was that I had made an effort to get there that I might as well stay there as long as it wasn’t raining. If there was another heavy rainstorm like earlier, I definitely would’ve packed up my folding chair and leave.

So I decided to amuse myself by taking a few photos of the fairgrounds and you can easily see some ominous looking grey clouds in the background.

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At one point I decided to go to the bathroom then go to one of the food vendors and order myself some lemonade before the sun went down and the fireworks would begin. As I made my way over to one of the vendors selling lemonade, I found a few people I recognize from my support group. Apparently, despite the cancellation of the official meetup, some members decided to go to the event anyway. I was happy that I found some people so I wouldn’t be alone. I promptly grabbed my folding chair and moved it to where the others were sitting. The next photo shows the view from where my chair was ultimately located.

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And here’s a lovely sunset.

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After I moved my chair, I went over to this tiki-themed truck that sold lemonade and other kinds of fruit drinks. I couldn’t resist taking pictures of the funky kitschy decor.

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I ordered my lemonade and it was only after I ordered that I got some sticker shock. I expected to pay at least $3 but then the cashier told me that it cost $6. I paid it since I was kind of thirsty. The next photo shows what I got for $6.

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The fireworks show started around quarter after 9. There were live bands that performed covers of various pop, rock, and country songs all afternoon until just before the fireworks started. Then the music switched to prerecorded patriotic songs while the fireworks shot off in the air. I felt the show was really well done and I managed to capture all kinds of cool shots of various fireworks in a variety of colors and sizes.

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When the fireworks ended everyone in my group parted and I walked back over to where my car was parked. Normally getting in and out of Laurel Lakes Shopping Center is no big deal. But it took me at least 45 minutes before I was able to even get out of the parking lot. The next photo shows how bad it got.

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And the situation was made really bad by these impatient drivers who were willing to risk fender benders so they could get out of the parking lot ASAP. There were a couple of vehicles behind me who were honking their horns and motioning with their hands for me to move my car. Except I couldn’t move because a Holiday Inn van was blocking the exit of one of the lanes that led to the main driving route that would eventually lead to exiting the parking lot entirely. But these vehicles kept on frantically honking and waving their hands outside. Finally this SUV in the next photo decided to drive illegally in the left lane (it was supposed to be one lane) and drive right up to the Holiday Inn van. The van moved slightly ahead then stopped because of the other cars ahead of it. But that didn’t deter that SUV from being aggressive enough to be right next to that van, as the next photo shows.

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But that wasn’t all, the van drove ahead but was followed closely by another SUV and the SUV in the left lane was inching up very close to that other vehicle as well.

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I somehow managed to pull into an empty parking spot, turn off the motor, and just sat there while I did some web surfing with my smartphone for several minutes. Eventually I saw that the traffic was starting to thin so I started the engine again and I just kept on driving through empty parking spots until I found a lane that I was able to get into and I ultimately made my way on to Route 1.

I didn’t return home until around 11:15 p.m. feeling totally unnerved. I went straight to bed. I woke up the next morning and I went to church, which was doing a special service on anti-racism efforts in the Unitarian Universalist denomination featuring guest speakers from both congregation members and people from other UU churches. There was a special lunch that was served afterwards and I even got to take home some extra leftovers for me to eat for future meals (which also stretches my food budget a bit further). On the way home I decided to stop off at Behnke’s Nursery because it was having a Fourth of July weekend plant sale. I managed to purchase a lavender plant for my front yard for $5. Sweet! I also took a few photos of some of the patriotic and/or nature layout that I saw a few hours ago.

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It didn’t rain today and the temperature went no higher than 80 degrees but, boy, was it humid! I saw a weather forecast saying that it was going to rain more tomorrow. Oh well. At least I had a mostly low key, stress-free holiday weekend.

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I’m hoping to catch some fireworks somewhere tonight even though I am concerned about the constant rain forecasts for both today and tonight. (It’s been raining off and on for the last few days and it’s raining very heavily as of this writing.) Otherwise I’m just taking it easy by staying at home and alternating between doing some tidying up at home and searching through some recent photos I took to see which ones I should post in this blog. 🙂

I’m supposed to go to a firework show in Laurel tonight with members of my support group for people who are separated or divorced. That may or may not happen depending on whether it stops raining so heavily like it’s doing right now. (The rain is definitely making a noise on the rooftop.) In any case, since this year marks the five-year anniversary of this blog, I’m going to end this entry by re-posting some photos from past Fourth of July fireworks along with links to the original entries.

Ocean City, Maryland in 2011.

Fireworks, Ocean City, Maryland, July 4, 2011

Television broadcast of a fireworks show in Washington, DC in 2012 (with my Makies doll Victoria standing in front of the screen).

Victoria the Makie Doll on the Fourth of July

Greenbelt Lake in Greenbelt, Maryland in 2013.

Fourth of July Fireworks at Greenbelt Lake, 2013

Greenbelt Lake in Greenbelt, Maryland in 2014.

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And here’s a short video I shot at the same event of a drumming circle and the beginning of the fireworks show.

My support group for people who are separated or divorced was sponsoring another outing to see the minor league baseball team Bowie Baysox play a home game and I decided to purchase a ticket for myself for $15.

I had a pretty good time despite the weather. For the past few days the weather had been very humid with temperatures going as high as the low 90’s and game day was no different. The AccuWeather app on my smartphone had predicted scattered thunderstorms for the following day so I left my umbrella in my car then headed to the stadium. That turned out to be a big mistake on my part and AccuWeather was totally wrong about its weather prediction but I’ll write more on that later. I knew I had arrived at the stadium when I started seeing sights like these.

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The next photo shows the cover of the program I received that night. It was hyping the annual Star Wars Night except that day was scheduled to take place on the following night after my support group had arranged for this group outing. I wasn’t bitter though because last year I went with my support group to a Bowie Baysox game on Star Wars Night and I still have plenty of recent memories (and photographs) of that event.

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The pre-game opening act was a local gymnastics team comprising of teenage girls doing tumbles, flips, and cartwheels.

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I attempted some action shots behind home plate but I was seated too far away to take too many pictures without using the smartphone’s zoom feature. Besides, I was more into just enjoying the game than taking pictures of it.

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I remember hearing that our game was also known as Looney Tunes Night. I finally saw what that meant when the skies suddenly started to rain and most of us went up to the food area so we could stay under the awning. During my time trying to avoid the rain, I saw Bugs Bunny, who was the only Looney Tunes character who showed up that night. He also didn’t stay outside long because, despite the rain, it was still hot and humid outside and that kind of weather isn’t meant for being dressed as a cartoon rabbit. I managed to get a couple of shots during Bugs’ brief time outside.

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Yeah, seeing Bugs Bunny brought me back all those memories as a child when I used to watch the Looney Tunes cartoons on television every Saturday morning.

Eventually the rain stopped so I returned to my seat where I saw Louie, the Bowie Baysox mascot, give away $25 to a lucky fan as part of a contest called “Win Louie’s Money.”

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There was one more short shower during my time at the game then there was the occasional drizzle that lasted for a few minutes. The weather was a little bit cooler but it was still humid like crazy. I managed to catch some nice sunset pictures though.

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While I was in the stadium I posted a few things about my baseball outing on Facebook as well. The Baysox played this game against the Portland Sea Dogs, who are affiliated with the major league Boston Red Sox and I have a friend from church who is originally from Boston so she grew up as a Red Sox fan so I was able to tell her about the game via Facebook. In a way technology is great. Here I was enjoying a baseball game with my new friends from my support group while continuing to make Facebook posts about the game for the benefit of my old friends (many of whom knew both me and my then-husband long before our divorce).

At one point Louie ran a short pep rally encouraging the Bowie Baysox to play their best and win.

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There was even this hilariously goofy sumo wrestling contest between two young fans dressed in ultra bulky costumes.

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The next picture shows the final score. The Bowie Baysox defeated the Portland Sea Dogs 8-7.

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I sent the photo and a short message to my Boston native friend on Facebook and she took the news of the defeat pretty well. (The Red Sox aren’t having a good season this year. Ditto for the Baltimore Orioles, as a matter of fact.)

After the game ended there was a fireworks show. Like the other Baysox games I attended with fireworks, this one was fantastic to watch.

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Once the fireworks ended many children under 12 lined up for the traditional running of the bases (which is a feature of the Baysox home games).

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I went to the bathroom after the fireworks ended and I stayed there for a while because I felt mildly queasy. (I think it was a combination of the hot weather and stadium food that did me in.) By the time I felt well enough to leave, I saw that the running of the bases had ended and the baseball stadium employees were tidying up the fields for the next game on the following evening.

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Passover

I spent the Saturday before Easter at the Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival that’s held every year as part of the National Cherry Blossom Festival. Most of the cherry blossom trees in the area haven’t bloomed yet but it hasn’t deterred people from having a good time at the festival anyway.

I went to the festival back in 2012 and 2013 then skipped last year. The other two years I arrived in the afternoon and hung around until I grew tired. I ended up leaving the festival hours before the fireworks because of fatigue. This year I decided that I really wanted to check out the fireworks in person so I ended up not leaving for the festival until after 4 p.m. So I packed my folding chair, headed to the nearest Metro station, and took the subway to the Waterfront station.

When I first left the station I noticed this nearby building where someone had decorated the windows with cherry blossoms made entirely from Post-It Notes.

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Someone had even done a pretty decent replication of Mario from the numerous Nintendo games like Donkey Kong and Super Mario Bros.

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It’s been two years since I last walked around the Southwest Waterfront area. I noticed that there was a bunch of construction activity going on.

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I also walked past this Bible preacher urging festival attendees to become Christians.

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I eventually arrived at the entrance to the festival.

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The festival was full of people.

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Since I arrived late in the afternoon, I decided to treat myself to an early dinner. (For once I attended a public event without schlepping food and drink around.) I found a group of food trucks that provided different types of food ranging from Middle Eastern to Korean BBQ to pizza.

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I ended up ordering my food from the truck in the next few pictures. The truck served French crepes under the name Crêpes Parfait. I waited in a long line to order then I was given a number where I had to wait a little while longer until my number was called and I could pick up my crepe. I ordered the chicken crepe with sun-dried tomatoes and mozzarella cheese, which was definitely worth the wait. I was able to set up my folding chair along the Washington Channel where I ate my crepe while watching the beautiful scenery.

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After I finished eating my dinner I continued to walk around the festival. I saw another group of food trucks in a different area.

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I found a blue truck called Captain Cookie and, on impulse, I decided to treat myself to dessert. I ordered an ice cream sandwich which featured vanilla ice cream in between two snickerdoodle cookies. That ice cream sandwich was incredibly awesome! The ice cream tasted like there was actually vanilla bean mixed in and the snickerdoodles were exquisite. I picked up their business card in the hopes that I somehow run into that food truck again. (LOL!)

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The next photo shows the Washington Channel. The day was pretty lovely in that it was cool enough for a light jacket but it was still a very far cry from that Arctic chill that plagued our region earlier this year.

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I saw that one of the festival sponsors, Proctor & Gamble, was having a booth where they gave away free samples of Tide. I got in the line and picked up a bag full of Tide samples. I won’t have to worry about buying new laundry detergent for a while. (LOL!)

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The only part of the festival that I was disappointed in was that, unlike other years, there was no craft show that was held as part of the festivities. I was kind of looking forward to the craft show only to find that it was eliminated. At first I thought there was a show that ended early until I saw the official program and it wasn’t even listed. As a consolation I took a bunch of photos of the various demonstrations of Japanese-inspired crafts (some of which were hands-on) that were held at the festival along with general sights of the event.

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The official program guide urged visitors wishing to view the fireworks to stake out a place near the Titanic Memorial in order to get the best views and to get to the memorial early. I took that advice and made my way to the memorial.

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I set up my folding chair along the banks of the Washington Channel, where I was treated to a lovely sunset.

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After sunset a bunch of boats with red and blue lights were floating around in the channel.

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The fireworks began at 8:30 p.m. and they lasted between 15-20 minutes (just before the official 9 p.m. close of the festival). The fireworks looked incredibly spectacular along the waterfront. These are just a few of the fireworks that were shot off that night.

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After the fireworks ended I decided to head home. As I was crossing one of the streets at one point, I realized that I was holding the plastic bag containing the Tide samples wrong because Tide samples began to spill out right on to the street where cars were driving by. I managed to pick up a couple of the spilled samples quickly but I couldn’t pick them all up because I didn’t want to risk getting hit by a car. So I had no other choice but to leave a few of the envelopes in the street where they got smashed up under car tires.

Most people who were at the festival were headed towards the Southeast Waterfront Metro Station (many of us heeded the advice of the festival organizers not to drive there because of a lack of parking), which became totally crowded along the platform as everyone waited for the next subway train to arrive. I really lucked out when a car with a door happened to arrive right in front of me so I was able to get right on the train without having to push people. My train car filled up quick, as you can see in the next photo.

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I ended up having to stand for at least the first few stops. I ended up right against the back door leading to the next car. I looked through the window and I saw that the next car was just as crowded as my car was, as you can see in the photo below.

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I was eventually able to get a seat once the Metro got past the L’Enfant Plaza station and hordes of people got off (because that station is a major transfer point). When I got off the Metro and headed towards my car in the parking lot, I saw this lovely full moon.

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I’m glad that I finally saw the fireworks show at the Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival. It was the first time I saw fireworks in Washington, DC since the one year, soon after my husband and I were married, we headed off to the Mall on the Fourth of July with a couple of friends from my husband’s job. It was very crowded and it was very hot and humid (I remember it was in the mid-90’s that day). It was pretty uncomfortable the entire day. While the fireworks over the Washington Monument and the Tidal Basin were lovely, it was hell trying to get home after it was all over. It took us at least an hour before we could even get inside the Smithsonian Metro Station and it took another half an hour before we were able to board a train because it was that crowded. My husband and I swore off ever again going to the Mall on the Fourth of July.

In contrast to that one, the Southwest Fireworks Festival was pretty nice. It wasn’t quite as crowded and it was relatively easy to find a decent view of the fireworks. And I didn’t have to wait as long to get on a Metro train either. The only thing I would do differently is that I should’ve brought a blanket because it got pretty cold after sunset. While I was able to put up my hood and place my hands in my jacket pocket, I would’ve appreciated a little bit more warmth. Otherwise, it was a great fireworks show on a pretty lovely day.

Ramadan
Last Thursday, July 3, I was on my way to my weekly support group meeting for people who are separated or divorced when I decided to stop by this temporary fireworks stand that was located in the parking lot of one of the many shopping centers that dot Route 3 in Crofton, Maryland.

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Since it was the day before the Fourth of July, this stand was running a special “Buy One, Get One Free” sale. On impulse I bought myself two of this one brand of fireworks for only $10. (There were more expensive fireworks that were also part of this special sale but I’m trying to watch my money and I was really reluctant to do a major splurge on something that costs $25 and up.) They were known as Black Cat Super Soldier Fireworks and they definitely have this G.I. Joe-themed packaging like in the photo below.

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The following evening I went to a professional Fourth of July fireworks show in my area and it was getting really late at night by the time I returned home so I didn’t touch the fireworks. The following day I decided to do some late afternoon shopping at Lowe’s in Laurel because I’m still planning my garden (which I hope to be able to write about at a later date if all goes well) and I was hoping to take advantage of some Fourth of July weekend sales (especially since July 4 fell on a Friday this year). I parked my car but I noticed that the parking lot was very crowded and I saw hordes of people walking in a certain direction past Lowe’s. I ignored the crowd, went inside the store and did my plant shopping. When I walked out into the parking lot after making my purchases, I noticed that the hordes of crowds walking past Lowe’s was getting worse. I happened to run into two people I know from my Thursday night support group and they told me that Laurel was holding fireworks on July 5 in an area near Lowe’s and invited me to come along because several other people from the support group were also coming. I was still feeling tired from the night before and I really didn’t feel like dealing with large crowds and clogged traffic for the second night in a row so I basically drove away from Laurel as fast as I could.

When I returned home I ate dinner then decided to have a private fireworks show of my own. I went into the backyard and lit one of the Black Cat Super Soldier Fireworks. I intended to film that one but I was startled to see how quick the whole thing went off once the fuse was lit. I thought I had put enough distance between me and that firework until I saw sparklers coming towards me. Even though I had an empty 2-liter soda bottle that I filled up with water near me, I was afraid of having everything go suddenly wrong. I managed to take a few still photos with my smartphone and I have to admit that the results looked interesting when I viewed them later.

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I learned from my near-mishap with the first firework and I placed the second one at a slightly greater distance. For added measure, I even kicked the remains of the first firework out of the way (I wanted to avoid it somehow catching on fire by the sparks from the second firework). I lit the fuse, quickly stepped away from it as fast as possible then shot this video with my smartphone.

The second firework went off without a hitch and I really enjoyed it even though both fireworks were pretty much exhausted in less than a minute after each of them were lit. Once the second firework ended its show, I poured water on both fireworks (I wanted to eliminate the slightest possibility that the fireworks could still have active explosives inside of them), went inside, and called it a night.

The next morning I found the charred remains of the fireworks. I took a photo of them before I put them in the trash.

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So I had some fun by myself for the low price of $10 and I enjoyed it. 🙂

Ramadan

Earlier today I put on one of the temporary tattoos that I got for free when I attended the Bowie Baysox game on Star Wars night a couple of weeks ago.

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When I used the other temporary tattoo last week, I had put it on the back of my hand only to have it start to wear away by the end of the day. By the second day that tattoo had faded so much that it ceased to resemble its original design. I was meeting with someone that day for a potential opportunity regarding an independent feature film documentary (which I really can’t get into right now because there’s a chance that it could fall through if she can’t raise the necessary funds) so I decided to use rubbing alcohol to erase the rest of the tattoo.

For this week’s tattoo I decided to place it up on the forearm instead of on the hand. I’m thinking that the other one wore away fast because I tend to wash my hands a lot. I’m hoping that with the tattoo will last longer on the forearm but I’ll only know for sure in a few days. I picked the stormtrooper flying the Maryland state flag since tomorrow is the Fourth of July and it looks sort of patriotic.

I also attended the weekly meeting of my support group for people who are separated or divorced. Before the meeting I found this temporary fireworks stand that was set up outside one of the many shopping centers that are located along Route 3 in Crofton, Maryland.

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It was running a “Buy One, Get One Free” special at that stand because it is the day before the Fourth of July.

I spent last Saturday attending three different events in one day. It’s a good thing that it was sunny with low humidity because I was outdoors most of the day. First my Unitarian Universalist congregation held an early afternoon picnic in celebration of Loving Day. The picnic got a relatively small turnout as the first photo below shows but I still enjoyed myself anyway.

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There were only two kids at the picnic so they got the lion’s share of both blowing and chasing bubbles.

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The picnic broke up after a couple of hours, which left me plenty of time to take a brief rest at home before I headed out again. I went to the local Crazy Quilt Festival because a friend of mine was performing as part of a duo known as The Bachelor and The Bad Actress. I took a few photos of the group and the audience during their set. By the way, if you happened to recognize the male singer, there’s a reason for that. He was the main focus of a recent Throwback Thursday post where I took part in a community art project known as “Color Me Joe.”

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The guy petting the dog in the next picture is my friend Dorian, whom I’ve known since my undergraduate days at the University of Maryland at College Park.

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The Bachelor and The Bad Actress was one of the many acts that played at the Crazy Quilt Festival all day. Unfortunately my friend’s group was the only act I was able to catch live in person because I attended the Loving Day picnic earlier. I have to leave the festival after the group ended their set because I had to be at the third event of the day.

My support group for people who are separated or divorced were having a baseball outing where we would attend the minor league Bowie Baysox baseball team. We knew that the game was being held the night before Father’s Day but we didn’t know that it was also Star Wars night until after we arrived and we saw so many people dressed as various Star Wars characters.

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The front of Prince George’s Stadium had this Star Wars-themed car parked outside the front gates.

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The gift shop had light sabers on sale for $10 each. I saw plenty of kids brandishing them during the game.

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There were vintage Star Wars toys, Star Wars related tables, and many people who cosplayed as their favorite Star Wars characters.

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Despite all the Star Wars stuff everywhere, there was still a baseball game going on. The next photo is my first view of the baseball diamond.

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I eventually found where my friends from the support group were seated. I paid only $15 for a ticket that had this close view of third base. Getting similar seats at a Major League Baseball stadium would be way more expensive.

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The Bowie Baysox played the Harrisburg Senators. Between innings there were all kinds of fun stuff. There was a multi-part Star Wars light saber battles between the forces of good and evil. The first part of this battle took place near our area where the good guy lost the battle and was taken away by the bad guys working for the Empire.

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The other parts took place in other areas of the ballpark and they were way too far for me to get a decent shot. All I remember is that the last part, which took place towards the end of the game, involved a bunch of kids and Louie the Bowie Baysox’s mascot and they defeated the evil people.

There was also a mock horse race near my seat between three kids who bounced on these horse-shaped bouncing balls.

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During bathroom breaks I would look at the Star Wars tables. I got this postcard with a Star Wars comic on the back.

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I got some free temporary tattoos as well.

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Since it was first trip to a ballgame since I got my new Droid Ultra smartphone last November, I decided to try taking a few action shots. I have to admit that the newer Droid phone performed better at action shots than my last Droid phone. But I still didn’t take too many shots because home plate was a bit far from my seat. I was seated closer to third base but I didn’t get too many chances to take photos of the action there because the Baysox didn’t do too well that night. (The Baysox remained scoreless until the very last inning where they suddenly got four runs.)

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Louie the mascot did his best to cheer the team on but he spent the bulk of the time on the other side of the stadium. He briefly made an appearance in our section only once before moving on.

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I took a few more action shots towards the end of the game with my smartphone.

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Despite the Baysox’s sudden improvement in getting four runs in the 9th and last inning, the Harrisburg Senators won with an 8-4 score.

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If Star Wars wasn’t enough, there was even a short fireworks show after the game. I’ve taken pictures of fireworks before but I decided to take more using my new smartphone to see how it performs. Actually the results were pretty nice and impressive, as you can see in the photos below.

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The end of the fireworks signaled the end of the event and everyone started to file out. I saw these National Bohemian tables that looked pretty nice, even though I hate that beer. (My late father used to drink National Bohemian when I was a child and I took sips where I thought the beer tasted pretty rank. It wasn’t until after I was an adult and I tried Budweiser and I found that Bud was a step up from National Bohemian.)

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Louie the mascot walked near me, which was pretty cool.

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I saw the same Star Wars car as I walked out the gates and I saw that parts of the car was lit up.

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I was totally tired by the time I got home. I had toyed with going to the Hon Festival in Baltimore (which was also held this weekend) on the following day but I woke up feeling so tired and sore that I decided against it. I was glad I did. Besides, I went to the Hon Festival last year so it was no big deal for me to miss it this year.

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