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Recently this unusually nasty wind storm went through my area that was known alternatively as a Noreaster or a Bomb Cyclone. It produced winds that were so strong that the federal government was closed down along with the area public schools and many businesses. The National Weather Service advised people to not even attempt to travel unless it was an emergency.

I had a job interview that was scheduled for that very day and I was dreading the prospect of driving in that weather since it’s challenging to drive my car in high winds. Fortunately the place I was interviewing at had decided to postpone the interview for the following week so I didn’t have to worry about driving at all. At one point I managed to take a walk in the wind where I shot this short video showing how windy it really got.

I also shot a few still photos of the effect that the ultra-windy weather had on the great outdoors. I submitted my photos to the local community newspaper known as The Greenbelt News Review, two of them were actually published in last week’s issue. That link is to a .PDF document. One of my photos was published on the front page. The other one can be found by scrolling down to page 8.

Here are the other photos I shot that didn’t make it to publication. The first two photos show a tree that fell in someone’s backyard.

The petals of the blooming crocus flowers had shut themselves due to the wind.

The Greenbelt Makerspace maintains a Little Free Library, which sustained damage when the wind blew off one of its doors.

The American flags that were recently placed at the Veterans Memorial for the Presidents’ Day holiday were literally flying straight because of the wind.

The tree that was brightly lit by the sun made a dramatic contrast with the dark grey clouds.

A wood chipper was set up to help remove the fallen branches and other tree debris that fell as a result of the high winds.

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The last Sunday in January was pretty heady in that I helped to celebrate the 90th birthday of a longtime member of my church. Since she lives in a retirement community located near my church and the party was being held there, I basically went to Sunday service at my church then headed to the retirement community for the party. It was a pretty cool event that was filled by many of my friends from my church. Here are a few photos I took while I was at that party.

There were two birthday cakes along with smaller cupcakes that guests can choose to eat. (None of them were lit with candles though.)

Penny O'Brien's 90th Birthday Party

Penny O'Brien's 90th Birthday Party

Penny O'Brien's 90th Birthday Party

Here’s a wide shot of the room where the birthday party was held.

Penny O'Brien's 90th Birthday Party

There were balloons everywhere. Most people gave birthday cards in lieu of presents. (I did too. In fact I found a 90th birthday card at Target, which was a cool thing to buy and bring to that party.)

Penny O'Brien's 90th Birthday Party

Penny O'Brien's 90th Birthday Party

Penny O'Brien's 90th Birthday Party

Penny O'Brien's 90th Birthday Party

Penny O'Brien's 90th Birthday Party

There were decks of playing cards and board games placed everywhere so guests could play them.

Penny O'Brien's 90th Birthday Party

The last photo is of the birthday girl herself, Penny O’Brien.

Penny O'Brien's 90th Birthday Party

Twitter verifies Jason Kessler, the organizer of the White Supremacist rally in Charlottesville that resulted in violence that left one person dead.

A historian explains why the Founding Fathers would be baffled by conservatives’ obsession with flag worship.

90-year-old Czech grandma turns small village into her art gallery by hand-painting flowers on its houses.

Have Turkish archaeologists found the final resting place of Saint Nick?

Has the original Santa Claus been found in Turkey?

Guardians can sell the assets and control the lives of senior citizens without their consent—and reap a profit from it.

America is not a society that values human life.

Voices from the anti-Trump resistance.

Hogwarts actually exists? Here are 10 real-life schools for magic.

How much should you charge a band for CD and album cover art?

Yes, Stephen Paddock fits the mass shooter profile.

MilkLeaks chronicles the very worst of alt-right agitator Baked Alaska.

Giant straw animal sculptures invade Japanese fields after rice harvest.

Don’t tell Grandma but cross-stitch embroidery has an extreme side.

Americans are now paranoid that robots will toss their resumes in the trash.

We can’t ban guns in America, but we managed to ban all this other stuff.

The rise and fall of the word “Monopoly” in American life.

A disturbing dispatch from Seattle’s super secret white nationalist convention.

How Trump’s focus on working class men hurts working class women.

“X” marks the spot where economic inequality took root.

It’s time to talk about what’s radicalizing white male terrorists.

The Smithsonian presents a gallery of 6,000+ rare rock and roll photos on a crowdsourced web site, and now a new book. 11:30 am

What you need to know about the tech support scams that target senior citizens who own computers.

7 DIY projects for your old t-shirts.

A cashless society would destroy our privacy and freedom.

Twenty-one colorful cubes compose Denmark’s newly opened LEGO house.

Working on a new sketch per day during Inktober plus being sick on Halloween itself have really thrown me out of whack. (Which is why I’m not participating in either Makevember or NaNoWriMo this month. It’s amazing how much time doing any kind of daily creation of something new along with uploading your new creation on to social media can take out of your day.) I meant to upload a bunch of cool fall photos in this blog only to get sidetrack by both Inktober and illness.

My most recent trip to both the Enchanted Forest Shopping Center and Clark’s Elioak Farm came from a desire to come up with some more Inktober sketches before I totally burn out on doing this entirely. I packed my small sketchbook along with some pencils and pens and a camera and headed out.

First I went to the site of the now-defunct fairy tale amusement park The Enchanted Forest. The original site has since become a shopping center. For many years the original castle entrance and the sign featuring Old King Cole served as reminders of the place’s previous existence as a amusement park. But then the original castle entrance was moved to Clark’s Elioak Farm and now Old King Cole is the sole last vestige of the shopping center’s amusement park past.

There were two reasons why I wanted to go back to the Enchanted Forest Shopping Center. One is that there is this bagel place that serves very delicious yet affordable food. The other reason is that I had heard that a plaque marker was erected on the former site of the castle entrance. After I ate lunch at the bagel place, I went over to view this plaque marker.

Afterwards I drove to Clark’s Elioak Farm, which houses most of the Enchanted Forest’s former attractions. It’s my first visit to the farm in two years (when I finished making then showing my documentary film, Saving the Enchanted Forest, at Artomatic) and I’ve noticed a few changes they’ve made since my last visit, starting with this new entrance that’s only for those who have either booked a birthday party at the farm or have signed up to do a formal guided tour of the farm.

The next few photos show the replica of the original Enchanted Forest castle entrance (which Clark’s Elioak Farm erected before they got the actual castle entrance). That replica serves as the castle store where people can purchase meats and produce produced at the farm as well as various souvenirs. There was a time when that replica was also the place where people could enter and exit. As of my recent visit, they’ve changed the rules where you can only enter through the castle replica if you purchased a season pass or want to only shop at the castle store. Otherwise, you have to go to a tented area.

Of course there was this huge line waiting outside the tented area. It basically took me around 20 minutes before I finally reached the tents so I could pay admission and get inside.

When I entered the first thing I saw was the original castle entrance and the storybook sign that were moved from its original location to the farm two years ago.

They added a miniature replica of a castle where I saw children playing while their parents were taking pictures.

On the other side of that original castle entrance I saw this new plaque dedicated to Pat Selby Sealing, who worked at the original Enchanted Forest and was instrumental in getting many of its former attractions transferred to Clark’s Elioak Farm.

I went inside the pine tree maze where I saw some major changes, starting with these plastic streamers in the next picture.

When I went to Clark’s Elioak Farm in 2015, it was a few weeks after they had placed dinosaurs among the fairy tale and nursery rhyme attractions.  When I returned recently I noticed that they had removed most of the dinosaurs, which I thought was a bummer because I really liked seeing them. I don’t know why they were removed. You’ll have to see the photos I posted in 2015 if you want to know what you’ve missed.

There was only one remaining dinosaur at Clark’s Elioak Farm and this one is in the next picture.

They’ve added a new train ride on the farm.

The Gem Mining and Geo Cracking station is still there since my 2015 visit with an addition of the various gorgeous gems that one can purchase.

The old Enchanted Forest attractions that are the major draw to the farm are still there, such as Goldilocks and the Three Bears house. However I noticed one difference when I looked in the windows of that house.

Usually one can find Goldilocks in Baby Bear’s bed (just like in the original story). This time around someone had taken Goldilocks from her bed and placed her in the living room near the pipe-smoking Papa Bear.

I’ve long thought that Goldilocks was a full figured human girl until I saw her out of her bed. She’s actually half a girl in that she has nothing below her waist. No legs, no nothing.

Seeing her likes this makes her look very creepy. In a way it was fitting to have Goldilocks in that position since Halloween was coming soon. But I think she looks far better in Baby Bear’s bed than as this weird half-girl.

Mama Bear had been moved to the bay windows, where she looked very pensive sitting there. I couldn’t resist photographing her like this.

I took a few landscape photographs. Basically the Enchanted Forest attractions look the same as on previous visits.

I also hung around the petting zoo a bit. The animals were still there as before.

There was this marker honoring those members of the Clark family (who founded Clark’s Elioak Farm) who fought in World War II.

Fall is the time of year when the yellowjackets get really obnoxious and aggressive. This trap had plenty of yellowjackets in it.

Despite the farm’s efforts to keep the yellowjackets under control, there were some tables where you did not dare sit at because those stinging insects were literally hanging around there.

I took a couple pictures of some fall flowers in full bloom.

I saw this mother and daughter pair celebrating Halloween early by dressing as Batman and Robin.

There was a pumpkin patch where people could have their pick of pumpkins.


They had a variety of pumpkins available for sale in all shapes, sizes, and colors (including even white pumpkins).

This last photo shows the one purchase I made at Clark’s Elioak Farm—a pumpkin.


As for the original purpose of visiting the farm again, so I can work on some Inktober drawings, I had a very productive day. I managed to finish this drawing entirely in ink while I was at the farm, which was of the black duckling and white swan that once served as part of the Mother Goose Ride at the Enchanted Forest but they have had their wheels removed and they are permanently parked in the pine maze.

I made three other drawings in pencil, which I inked, one picture at a time, over the next three days in Inktober. Two of them were the former Enchanted Forest attractions—the Crooked House and Willie the Whale.

The last one was one of the goats in the petting zoo who was just sitting in this metal basin with its eyes closed while looking very blissful and satisfied.

In case you’ve missed it, here are all of the 31 drawings I did for Inktober last month.

Remembering a time when going to a Pizza Hut was an experience.

Race, power, and money: The art of Jean-Michel Basquiat.

New AI can guess whether you’re gay or straight from a photograph.

A first-hand account about how the lives of tech entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley aren’t as glamorous as they are made out to be.

Harvey and Irma, married for 75 years, marvel at the two back-to-back hurricanes bearing their names.

The best U.S. cities to spend a weekend in without going broke.

Three centuries ago, that garden gnome in your yard would’ve been an actual human being.

A look at people who are planting flowers in potholes worldwide as a form of a creative protest.

Dirt to Shirt movement hopes to regrow local textile industry.

This panda bear-shaped solar farm sets a new bar for cute creativity.

The future of photography: Thoughts on the impact of free photos.

Multilevel-marketing companies like LuLa Roe are forcing people into debt and psychological crisis.

A free tutorial on how to cast your own body double dress form.

Six ways America is like a Third World country.

Automation is a real threat. How can we slow down the march of the cyborgs?

Donald Trump’s Twitter following might include more than 4 million bots.

10+ reasons not to trust photos you see on social media.

Former CIA director says that one way of securing U.S. elections is through open source voting machines.

Here are the craziest parts from the worst Craigslist job ad ever.

Thousands of digitized vintage 78 RPM records are now available for free streaming online.

Here are a couple of recent photos that I consider to be the last summer ones. (I shot both on August 25.)  Here’s yet another nice sunset twilight photograph complete with some nice clouds.


Here’s another twilight photo of some Black-Eyed Susans in full bloom.


It seems like for the last week my mind has been overloaded with everything that has gone down in Charlottesville. I went to the second memorial event for Charlottesville in my event in a week. Here are my photos.

This event took place at the Greenbelt Community Church, which is a United Church of Christ congregation in Greenbelt, Maryland. It was organized by the Greenbelt Interfaith Leaders Association and it included participation by clergy from the various Christian and Jewish denominations.

The interfaith service for the #terrorist victims at #Charlottesville

The interfaith service for the #terrorist victims at #Charlottesville

The interfaith service for the #terrorist victims at #Charlottesville

The interfaith service for the #terrorist victims at #Charlottesville

This sign showed the schedule of events that took place during this service.

The interfaith service for the #terrorist victims at #Charlottesville

People were invited to take a flower from this makeshift altar and place it in the nearby memorial garden as a symbol of being in solidarity for peace.

The interfaith service for the #terrorist victims at #Charlottesville

The interfaith service for the #terrorist victims at #Charlottesville

The next few photos shows the wall in the memorial garden where people left the flowers along with a couple of poster boards and markers where people can write their feelings.

The interfaith service for the #terrorist victims at #Charlottesville

The interfaith service for the #terrorist victims at #Charlottesville

The interfaith service for the #terrorist victims at #Charlottesville

The interfaith service for the #terrorist victims at #Charlottesville

Various clergy gave speeches while people sang songs. The service ended with people lighting candles in a symbol of solidarity with the people in Charlottesville.

The interfaith service for the #terrorist victims at #Charlottesville

The interfaith service for the #terrorist victims at #Charlottesville

The interfaith service for the #terrorist victims at #Charlottesville

I attended a workshop on how to use social media to get a job at the Maryland Workforce Exchange office in Laurel. A nasty storm was about to get started when the workshop ended. Rather than make a potentially perilous journey home I decided to head to the nearby Laurel Library so I could wait out the storm. I brought my laptop with me plus there are plenty of books in that library so I had no problem with waiting there. (Besides it’s not like I have anyone waiting at home for me to return these days.)

I last visited that library back in December. It had recently opened and I was curious to see what it was like and I found it interesting, especially with the dinosaur motif. On this trip I found some more dinosaur motifs scattered around the place.

That giant dinosaur skeleton is still buried under a plexiglass floor.

This little girl was walking on the floor above the dinosaur skeleton while taking a look at it.

I noticed that there were gardens outside the last time I was there but everything was dead since it was in December. This time everything was lush and growing with all kinds of pretty flowers blooming.

I last saw the glass obelisk outside the library at night, when it was lit up. It was still daylight when I saw it again but it’s still interesting to see it with the sun out.

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

Some beautiful blooming spring flowers.

Some beautiful blooming spring flowers.

Here are some pretty purple flowers in full bloom.

Pretty spring flowers.

On a completely different note, I unearthed something I didn’t expect while I was doing simultaneous spring cleaning and working on taxes. (I did the spring cleaning and decluttering so I could find important papers I needed to get this year’s taxes done.) I found this old 3.5 inch floppy disk which is billed as “Microsoft Learning DOS: Interactive Guide to the PC Operating System.” The wording in faint grey italics said that this disk is for the IBM Personal Computers and compatibles as well as for the IBM Personal System 2 series.

This Belongs in a Museum

This definitely belongs in a museum since modern computers don’t even have floppy disk drives anymore. (LOL!)

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