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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Glen Burnie Mall used to be one of my favorite places to hang out as a teenager. It had this awesome video arcade place where I played many of the popular pinball machines and video games of the era (i.e. Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Joust, Ms. Pac-Man, etc.). I loved the Record Bar, which was this large glass kiosk that was placed in the middle of the mall where people could buy albums, 8-tracks, and cassette tapes. Plus there were the Chess King and Merry-Go-Round stores, both of which sold trendy clothes for the teens and young adults of a certain era. One of the mall’s big anchors was Montgomery Ward’s, where my mother used to occasionally find clothes for me. (She bought the bulk of my clothes from Hutzler’s and Hochschild-Kohn’s, two now-defunct department stores.) The other big anchor was—and currently still is—Toys ‘R’ Us.

In the years since I left Glen Burnie that mall had undergone major changes, especially after Montgomery Ward’s closed when the entire department store chain went belly-up back in 2001. For a time it seemed like the mall was thriving because it had managed to lure Target, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and a few chain restaurants. The mall even changed its name to The Centre at Glen Burnie.

It wasn’t until I visited that mall in person in 2014 when I discovered the real story. Despite the arrival of these newer stores and restaurants, they were not only built as separate structures around the mall but whoever designed these newer structures failed to provide a back opening that went into the mall itself. So if a shopper goes to—let’s say—Target and that shopper decides that he/she wants to visit the rest of the mall while he/she is there anyway, that person needs to exit Target then walk some distance outside until that person finds a door that directly leads into the mall. From what I saw, it looked like Toys ‘R’ Us is the only major store that still has a mall entrance and that’s because it is located in a store space that originally was built with the rest of the mall back in the early 1960’s.

As a result of that stupid building plan that didn’t provide mall entrances to the newer stores and restaurants, the mall itself started going on this downward spiral where fewer people actually went inside the mall, which led to more and more stores gradually closing. Here is what the mall looked like when I was there in 2014.

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That entire mall was a shadow of its former self, which made me feel sad since it was once a popular mall to shop at in Glen Burnie.

I didn’t return to The Centre at Glen Burnie until last year, when I had to make frequent trips to Glen Burnie because my mother was staying at a hospital there. I tried making the most of a stressful situation by checking out some of my old haunts before and after my visits, among them was The Centre at Glen Burnie. I rued my decision to visit that mall again because it had deteriorated further than my last visit because more stores were closed. Here are the photos I took during that visit.

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Today I was checking out the I remember Harundale when there was a Mall… group on Facebook and someone posted a recent photo. According to that poster, all of the stores inside the mall are now closed. A security guard is seated in the middle of the mall and, according to that poster, his job is to discourage people from taking pictures inside of the mall. (It’s obvious that this person managed to sneak in one photograph since he posted it.)

It’s sad that this mall from my childhood is now pretty much gone. The whole demise could have been prevented had the newer stores and restaurants been built with back entrances into the mall so people would be encouraged to shop at the other stores located inside of the mall. Sheesh! At least I still have the memories of that mall’s glory days. 😦

This Throwback Thursday post is more grim than usual but it’s something that happened in my past while I was growing up in Glen Burnie, Maryland between the ages of 5 and 19 (when I transferred to the University of Maryland at College Park after spending my freshman year at Anne Arundel Community College).

Okay, I’ll admit that I wasn’t happy growing up in that town mainly because I went through school being called “retarded” or “retard.” I had a bully swipe my yearbook in middle school about a day or two before school let out for the year (and when we were both scheduled to transfer to the high school the following September) and write some hateful stuff where she admitted that she loved to bully me. I finally turned tables on her a couple of years ago by putting that original yearbook signature along with her name (or the name that she went by at the time) and her yearbook photograph online so now anyone who does a Google search on her name will see that post turn up. And it’s a well-known fact that once you put something online, it will never fully go away so her name, her photograph, and her little hateful prank is enshrined online for all time just like her signature is unfortunately enshrined in my yearbook for all time (she wrote it in ink so I can’t erase it and even using White-Out won’t make it fully go away as if it had never been written in the first place).

Last summer I revisited my old high school for the first time in many years (when the school was closed for the year) and I took a photo of my hand giving the finger to that school.

If all that weren’t enough, my teenage years even included a murder that didn’t affect me directly but it still shocked me because I was a classmate of a girl who was the older sister of one of the murder victims. At the time that murder received extensive publicity in the local media. As I was doing a Google search on this case last week, I saw that this story had spread to other cities as well because I saw stories about it published in newspapers in Utica, New York, New Castle, Pennsylvania, and Boca Raton, Florida.

Eventually that murder receded in my mind as I grew up and left Glen Burnie. There was one time when I was reminded of this case as an adult when I was working at one of my old jobs several years ago. I was speaking with a co-worker one day and he admitted that he had lived in Glen Burnie at one point in the late 1970’s so we started talking about our common experiences with that town and he mentioned that case.

That case receded back into my mind again until last week. I joined a Facebook group called I remember Harundale when there was a mall and it’s basically a nostalgia group primarily focused on the now-demolished Harundale Mall (it was replaced by a shopping center, which I finally took pictures of last year) but the group frequently talk about other places in Glen Burnie as well.

Last week a guy made a post there about those long-ago murders that involved my former high school classmate’s younger sister. At first I wasn’t sure why he would want to dredge up something like that until I did a Google search under the murderer’s name and I found that this year is the 40th anniversary of those murders. I half-expected to see a Wikipedia page on this but—surprise!—there is no such page. I found a couple of old Washington Post articles along with an online archived collection of Baltimore Sun photos from that time so I’m going to recount the story of those murders right here.

Long before future child beauty queen-turned-murder victim JonBenét Ramsey was even born, a shocking murder took place in my hometown of Glen Burnie that was just as senseless as Ramsey’s murder would be years later.

The Old Mill Senior High School classmate I mentioned a few paragraphs ago was in the same grade as me and we even shared a couple of classes together. Her family went to the same Roman Catholic Church as my family but I didn’t see her often mainly because I was taken to the 9 a.m. mass every Sunday and I believe that her family may have sometimes gone to the 9 a.m. mass while going to mass at other times on other Sundays. While she seemed nice and she had never teased or bullied me, we weren’t close friends mainly because she lived with her family in a different neighborhood located two miles from the neighborhood where I grew up.

This classmate had a younger sister named Ann Brzeszkiewicz, who was eight at the time. Ann used to frequently play with two sisters who lived in the same neighborhood—eight-year-old Theresa Hogan and 10-year-old Deborah Hogan. The three girls frequently played in the nearby woods, which wasn’t unusual because many kids used to frequently play in those woods. In fact it was said that one could see a lot of forts made from found materials that the kids built in those woods.

As recounted in this 1977 Washington Post story, on Sunday, October 9, 1977 the three girls, along with another 10-year-old girl, had attempted to go to the woods that afternoon but they found that the trails were too soaked from a recent rainstorm. The four of them went to the Brzeszkiewicz home where they played some more. The 10-year-old girl left at 6 p.m. leaving behind Ann Brzeszkiewicz and the Hogan sisters. An hour later the three young girls decided to leave Ann’s home to go back to the woods.  A neighbor last saw them at 7 p.m. as they headed towards the woods. But then they failed to return home. The Hogan parents called the Brzeszkiewicz home around 8:30 p.m. to see if their daughters were still there only to find that none of the girls were present. The Brzeszkiewicz father got in his car and drove to all of the girls’ usual play areas and shined a flashlight around while calling out their names—to no avail.

The parents soon called the police, who conducted an all-night massive search of the area. On Monday morning they made a very grisly discovery in the woods—all three girls were found stabbed to death while lying face down in a shallow muddy stream. Two of the girls were stabbed more than 30 times while the third girl was stabbed a dozen times in the back.

To say that those murders were a shock to the town was an understatement. The police made an effort to search for the murderer. My parents began to irrationally fear that I would be killed next (my parents were extremely strict and overprotective of me when I was growing up—they were helicopter parents long before that became a hip trendy yuppie thing) and they were telling me not to go into this wooded shortcut I used to take when walking to the high school mainly because it shaved five minutes off my walk. (Never mind the fact that the murders took place two miles away from where I lived.) I secretly took that shortcut anyway because I was mentally in a dark place regarding the kids in school calling me “retarded” and having parents who were so strict that I used to secretly envy the kids whose parents used to give them very little attention and supervision. At the time I felt that the person would do me a big favor if he would kill me just like he killed those girls.

I never faced the killer myself (this blog would not even exist if I had). A few days after the bodies were found the police arrested a 16-year-old boy named Stuart L. Kreiner, who lived in the same neighborhood as the three girls. He was turned in by his own father, who discovered the evidence that his son was involved with the crime. Stuart Kreiner had also attended my high school the year before the murders. I never knew him mainly because he was in a grade ahead of me, which meant that he was a sophomore while I was a freshmen. On top of it, my high school had around 4,000 students at the time and he wasn’t a jock or involved in any activities nor was he the most popular guy on campus so it was easy for me to overlook him. I recently searched through my freshman yearbook looking for his photograph only to find that he was listed in a text-only list featuring “Sophomores Not Pictured.” (Apparently he was absent on Picture Day and made no effort to submit his photo to the yearbook at a later date.)

After the school year ended he transferred to Martin Spaulding High School, which was—and still is—the main Catholic high school in Glen Burnie. He had just started attending classes in his new school a month before the murders.

Stuart Kreiner’s arrest shocked many people who knew him because he didn’t look like a stereotypical murderer as depicted in the movies. He was a clean-cut quiet boy who shunned drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes. He had never gotten into any kind of trouble with the police prior to the murders. He sung in a choir at the local Presbyterian church. He was involved in Little League a few years earlier but that was about it for extracurricular activities. According to accounts written at the time, he was so upright about adhering to his family’s strict and rigid rules that he became an outcast among his peers. The other kids used to call him “sissy,” “straight arrow,” and “weird.” The teasing he received was one of the reasons why he switched schools. (It was also said that his parents wanted him to receive a more Christian-centered education.) His ostracism by his peers was the reason why he used to frequently play with kids five or six years younger than him. One of his unidentified younger playmates told The Washington Post that Stuart told him/her that “the big kids played too rough.”

Why Stuart Kreiner murdered those girls remains a mystery to this day. The police found no evidence of the girls being tortured. Nor did they find any evidence that they were raped or sexually assaulted. There was no evidence that he planned those murders days or weeks before. It was like one day he was playing with those girls in the woods when, out of the blue, his mind snapped and he stabbed them to death. Or maybe he wasn’t even playing with those girls but, rather, playing with himself. I found this post on Facebook that had an interesting theory as to why he killed those girls.

I hadn’t been selling houses very long when this had taken place and the parents had left the area, leaving their vacant homes on the market. My office was near Hospital Dr. on Crain Hwy across the street from a 7/11. Many mornings I found I was getting coffee the same time a couple of detectives of AA Cty [Anne Arundel County Police] were. Having shown those homes I gave the story a lot of thought. There had been much in the newspaper about how strict the parents were and their strong ties to church – almost too strict it sounded to me. I developed a theory and related it to my new acquaintances. Their eyebrows shot up and they said we cannot confirm that but you have no idea how close you are to ‘what’ it is suspected happened. The young man was in a tent where he thought he had privacy. What is a young male just feeling his hormones not supposed to do? So thinking he had his privacy he had at it all by himself until 3 little girls wondered along and probably had no idea on what activity they stumbled. Being afraid of his father the lad thought his dad would ‘kill’ him…so he silenced anyone who would tell. ~~If my theory was correct – then dad should have been in jail right along side of his son. But the hypothisis as to “why” was never in the newspaper, only the question along with the facts about dad being very strict and active in church.

I still remember seeing newspaper photographs of the funeral for those three girls and seeing my classmate seated among the mourners. The three girls were buried together at Glen Haven Memorial Park in Glen Burnie. My classmate was out of school the week of the funeral and she may have taken the following week off as well but I don’t remember for sure. I remember she returned to school for a month or so then she stopped coming and I never saw her again. I later learned from the other students that the Brzeszkiewicz family decided to move away from Glen Burnie soon after the funeral. The Hogan family remained in Glen Burnie as they kept a close eye on the case in their effort to achieve justice for their daughters.

Stuart Kreiner was charged with murder. In October, 1978 (one year after the murders), he avoided trial when he pleaded guilty as part of a controversial plea-bargain where, instead of going to jail, he would be sent to Patuxent, the state facility offering a wide range of psychological treatment for prisoners deemed capable of rehabilitation. The doctors there were given leeway in determining when Kreiner would be deemed rehabilitated enough for release back into society.

There was outcry over this at the time as people feared that he could be released back on the streets after staying at Patuxent a year or two despite murdering three girls. It turned out that he was sentenced to life at Patuxent and he would not have been eligible for parole until 1990 at the earliest. Despite that, the case prompted a change in the state law so there hasn’t been a similar type of plea-bargain for murder since.

The murders soon receded from my mind as I focused on graduating from high school and getting the hell out of Glen Burnie as soon as possible. My life became better once I transferred to the University of Maryland at College Park and I was able to meet people who never knew me as a child so they weren’t prone to calling me “retarded.” I also lived away from home so I wasn’t under my parents’ constant supervision and I had to quickly learn how to take care of myself because mom and dad weren’t going to do it for me.

It was during my college years that I learned about Stuart Kreiner’s ultimate fate. In July, 1982, nearly five years after the murders, Kreiner was found dead at Patuxent. He had hung himself with a bedsheet that was attached to the bars of his prison cell. He was 20 years old.

The reason why he committed suicide was just as mysterious as the reason why he killed those girls five years earlier. He left behind a note for his family but the contents of that note were never publicly disclosed.  Two years earlier Kriener was transferred to the prison area with the least security as a reward for good behavior. According to prison officials, Kreiner had shown no signs of depression, even as he attended mandatory group counseling sessions. Kreiner had never attempted suicide before just like he had never gotten into any trouble with the law before he murdered those girls. It was like his mind abruptly snapped the night he committed suicide just like it was as if his mind abruptly snapped the night he committed murder.

Kreiner’s suicide closed the chapter on what was the most brutal and bizarre crime that happened in Glen Burnie at the time. As the years went on, those murders receded in the background to be replaced in the public consciousness by other murders like the O.J. Simpson murder trial or JonBenét Ramsey’s murder or the terrorist attacks on 9/11.

I’ve always been surprised that the mainstream media hadn’t done one of those updates on this story unlike those umpteen updates they’ve done about JonBenét’s murder. I guess it’s because, unlike JonBenét, none of those three girls were ever child beauty pageant contestants and there’s the fact that JonBenét’s murder remains unsolved to this day. But there is still a lot of mystery surrounding the deaths of those three girls and the suicide of their murderer (regarding the motives involved) that documentary filmmakers could explore.

Nor has anyone done one of those Lifetime movie dramatizations (or even used it as the basis for one of the episodes of the many Law & Order series that NBC keeps on proliferating) where actors would play the roles of Stuart Kreiner, the three girls, and assorted neighbors and relatives as they reenact the murder, the funeral, the plea-bargain, and Kreiner’s last years at Patuxent. With so many questions about this case, I’d thought that some Hollywood producer would’ve glommed on that story and some TV network would’ve aired it in pursuit of high ratings.

I saw posts on that same Facebook group where people are talking about doing some kind of a candlelight vigil this October to commemorate the 40th anniversary. I don’t know if that will actually happen or not. After all, it’s been many years since it happened and the people involved have either grown older, moved away, or simply died. There are people now living in that neighborhood who simply weren’t there when the murders took place and don’t know anyone who were involved in that case.

Santa Claus

 

 

 

 

Last year I planned on going to Baltimore to celebrate my birthday at Christmas Village in Baltimore. I had to scuttle those plans because my birthday fell on a Tuesday and it turns out that the place was closed on certain Tuesdays including my birthday. (I ended up going to Tyson’s Corner instead and I still had fun last year.)

This year my birthday fell on a Thursday so I decided to go to Baltimore, just like I planned last year. I was determined to go there despite the fact that the Polar Vortex had just arrived in my area so the temperatures plunged to below freezing. (I basically wore a heavy winter coat and a hat so I was able to brave the deep freeze.)

On the way to Baltimore I stopped off at a local Jo-Ann’s Fabrics & Crafts store to check out the recent sales. I found a bundled pair of slipper socks. The original price was $9.99, which would’ve been a decent price for two pairs of thick socks. But they were on sale for half-price, which meant that I paid $5 for the bundle (or $2.50 per pair).

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I took the light rail into the city. I initially went by Harborplace where I saw this ice skating rink.

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Since my last visit to Harborplace, I found that the store It’s Sugar had moved from one pavilion to another. (It is now located next to the Ripley’s Believe It or Not Odditorium.)

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I purchased a few things for myself on my birthday. Here is this cute gingerbread man cookie I bought.

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I purchased this Pez dispenser featuring Badtz-Maru, one of Hello Kitty’s friends.

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I bought myself this Guinness Luxury Dark Chocolate Truffle Bar. It was very delicious.

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I took a few photos of other items in that store but I didn’t buy any of them.

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After my visit to Harborplace I took a couple of photos of the Inner Harbor area at sunset.

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I eventually made my way to the Christmas Village in Baltimore.

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I’ve been there other years (see the photos I took in 2013, 2014, and 2015). Some of the same vendors were there this year while there were others whom I had never seen before. I also saw some empty booths but I had no idea if fewer vendors signed up or if it was because I came on a Thursday night and some of the missing vendors only worked on the weekends. I had been looking forward to eating some bratwurst with sauerkraut for dinner followed by a Belgian waffle topped with hot fudge and whipped cream for dessert. Unfortunately the waffle place wasn’t there this year, which was a big disappointment. The German food booth was still there so at least I was still able to eat the bratwurst and sauerbraten platter.

I purchased only one item. It was a pack of incense that I got from the large Käthe Wohlfahrt booth that was located at one end of the main tent. I’ve been lighting the incense each night since then so my home can smell like Christmas. (LOL!)

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On my way back to the light rail stop, I saw this homeless person laying down under a thin blanket outside the Baltimore Convention Center. Usually I wouldn’t pay this person much notice other than the fact that the Polar Vortex had arrived and the temperatures were forecasted to dip under 20 degrees Fahrenheit over night. (The following morning my AccuWeather app on my smartphone registered 18 degrees Fahrenheit.) I felt that this person should really be indoors but I didn’t know where to turn since I live 30 miles south of Baltimore.

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I took the above picture and frantically did Google searches on my smartphone for homeless organizations in Baltimore. I texted the photo to a couple of organizations while indicating where the person was located. For added measure I texted the photo to the Baltimore Police Department. I even uploaded this photo on my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts using people to forward this to anyone who could help bring this person in from the cold. I don’t know if my efforts helped or not other than the fact that for the next few days I did a Google search for any recent homeless deaths in Baltimore outside the Baltimore Convention Center only to turn up empty-handed. I guess this person somehow survived the Polar Vortex but I’ll never know for sure.

Once I reached the North Linthicum Light Rail Station (where my car was parked) I drove over to Glen Burnie. Last year I found out about this overdecorated house on Delmar Avenue and I saw it for the first time on Christmas Eve. This year I decided to check it out again and, yes, it is still just as heavily decorated as it was last year.

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The only difference I could tell between this year and last year is the next-door neighbor’s lighted sign that said “DITTO” with an arrow pointed to the other house. (That neighbor’s house didn’t have any outdoor lights at all other than that “DITTO” sign.)

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By the way the house on Delmar Avenue has its own Facebook page that you can view to get the latest news and photos about that house.

Last year I shot a bunch of still photos of that house. This year I decided to shoot a video so you can get a sense of the flashing lights (including an animated laser display that’s shown on the garage door) and the constant Christmas music.

I headed home after visiting that house so that was it for celebrating my birthday in Baltimore and Glen Burnie.

Dancing Skeleton

I had a relatively quiet Halloween this year due mainly to a combination of tight finances and my mother’s latest health battle. (She spent a few days in the hospital earlier this month for sepsis.) I purchased this interesting pack of marshmallow Peeps from Five Below because these Halloween Peeps looked pretty unusual. I’ve seen Halloween Peeps shaped like black cats, ghosts, jack o’lanterns, and gravestones but this was the first time I’ve seen Peeps shaped like Frankenstein’s head.

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But that’s not all I found at Five Below. I also found pumpkin spice-flavored Peeps. These are the chicks that I usually see at Easter but I guess Just Born has decided that chicks aren’t just for Easter anymore.

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I wasn’t sure if I was going to like the combination of marshmallow, white chocolate fudge, and pumpkin spice but I found that they were quite tasty.

Among the treats I gave out this year was Utz Bats & Jacks Pretzels. That pack usually gives out a free black and white Halloween decoration (which is basically the Utz girl dressed as a witch while being surrounded by bats).

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The same decoration is given out each year. I know that the decoration is in black and white because it’s meant for children to color it using crayons or other media. I displayed it outside a couple of years ago in its uncolored state at the last minute before the first trick or treater arrived. This year I decided to take out some colored pencils and color it in.

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I did the coloring Friday night. I displayed it in the trunk of my car at my church’s Trunk or Treat event yesterday (Sunday), which was held in the parking lot for the children at that congregation. I took some photos of the event, which I’ll write about later.

After the Trunk or Treat event I hung that same colored decoration on the door of my home alongside the ghost from the Scream movies (which I’ve owned for a number of years) and a traditional Mexican Day of the Dead decoration (which I purchased from Five Below just a couple of days ago for only 99 cents).

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Like I wrote two weeks ago, I purchased this new bat to replace a previous bat that was stolen from the porch in 2014.

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I have a Grim Reaper dangling from the bottom of my mailbox near my small coffin.

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I also have some smaller Halloween items placed on the front porch near the coffin and Grim Reaper.

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I deliberately didn’t cut down the dead Black-Eyed Susans and other dead foliage in order to have this dead plants effect (which is way cheaper than buying fake dead Halloween foliage in the stores). Safeway had a special “2 medium pumpkins for $10” sale so I bought two pumpkins and carved jack o’lantern faces on them then placed them among the dead plants. I kept the seeds and roasted them so I now have healthy snacks.

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The next photos were taken in Glen Burnie earlier this month during one of the days I visited my mother in the hospital. After that visit I drove past a couple of homes where I saw those Donald Trump signs on the front lawn, which were the first homes I’ve ever seen anyone display anything that was pro-Trump. (It figures that I saw them in the town where I grew up from ages 5-19.) After I took photos of those two houses with the Trump signs, I decided to stop by Giant because I needed to buy a few things and I thought it would be easier to buy them at the Giant in Glen Burnie then drive straight home. I got out of that store just in time to enjoy this lovely sunset.

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In the same shopping center as that particular Giant I saw that one of those Spirit of Halloween stores had set up its temporary shop there.

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I went over to that store where I took these pictures documenting what’s considered “in” for Halloween 2016.

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Of course since this is an election year, there would be opportunities for people to dress up as either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.

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There was a Bernie Sanders mask available for sale. It’s too bad that there were reports of primary election rigging in places like IllinoisMassachusettsKentuckyArizonaNew YorkCalifornia, and Nevada since there were many poll results that stated that Bernie Sanders could’ve beaten Donald Trump by a much wider margin than the current narrow margin between Clinton and Trump. (Some recent polls say that Hillary Clinton has since come out way ahead but who knows what will go down on November 8.)

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I didn’t buy anything at that store due to tight finances. Even if I could afford to shop there I don’t think I would buy very many items because I’m really not into large lawn displays and there are so many costumes and masks that I can really keep in my home before I get overrun with costumes and masks.

I spent the bulk of Halloween day going to the first of a two-day session on how to improve my job hunting skills that’s offered by the State of Maryland. It’s currently being held in its offices in Laurel, which is located next to Laurel Shopping Center. During one of the breaks I walked around the far end of that shopping center where I saw the place where a second-run movie theater used to operate (but it went out of business a few years ago). There’s currently a haunted house known as Laurel’s House of Horrors that’s operating there. I didn’t go inside at all mainly because the admission was $30 and I’m really not into spending that much money on something that’s only going to last one hour at the most. I have to admit that the exterior looked interesting.

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I’ll finish this entry with this giant spider in the center of this giant spider web that’s currently displayed outside Makerspace 125.

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Here’s a update to a post I wrote a few days ago. My mother was released from the hospital a few days ago. I’m pretty relieved because money has been tight for me and I had to use more gas to commute up to the hospital in Glen Burnie (where she was staying). I’m really hoping that she doesn’t get any more sepsis episodes for the rest of this year.

I’ve written in the past about how unhappy I was growing up in Glen Burnie mainly because the other kids called me “retarded” and that label stuck with me not only all the way through grade 12 but even during my freshman year at Anne Arundel Community College the fellow students who knew me from school continued to look down on me in a condescendingly way like I was diseased. I ended up having to make friends with students who attended other high schools because they didn’t know me growing up so they weren’t exposed to seeing kids call me “retarded”. It wasn’t until I transferred to the University of Maryland in College Park that I was finally able to put my past behind me because most of the students there knew nothing about my past.

I don’t regret leaving Glen Burnie because my ability to lead a normal life would’ve been seriously compromised in terms of having friends or even being able to find jobs (especially if one of my old teasers had been a hiring authority at a place where I submitted my resume).

Where I live I see the occasional Hillary Clinton signs on the lawns but those are pretty rare. I have never seen any Donald Trump signs at all—until I visited Glen Burnie. When I was leaving the hospital after visiting my mother on Saturday I drove past couple of houses that actually have Trump signs on the front lawns.

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It figures that I would see pro-Trump people in Glen Burnie. Never mind the fact that Donald Trump has never given a rat’s ass about lower middle class/working class towns like Glen Burnie. I mean, look at what he has built in his career as a real estate developer. No one living in Glen Burnie could ever afford to move to any buildings that has Trump’s name on it unless he or she won the Powerball lottery.

And then there are the rape and sexual abuse allegations against him as well as all of the creepy comments he made about how he’d date Ivanka Trump if it weren’t for the fact that she is his daughter. I just only hope these homeowners don’t have wives or daughters but I have a feeling that they have women in their lives. If I was the wife or daughter of someone who supports Donald Trump so much that he has placed a pro-Trump sign in the yard, I would wonder if my husband or father secretly approves of rape and sexual abuse. If I was a daughter I would also wonder if my father also has secret desires to date me if I wasn’t his daughter just like what Donald Trump has said about Ivanka.

It would be pretty ironic if either of those homeowners were among those who taunted me all through school by calling me “retarded.” If that’s the case, it would be appropriate that they are Trump supporters given how Trump has made fun of a disabled man.

Keeping pro-Trump signs on the front lawn after every horrible thing Trump has said and done over these many months are advertising “I AM A DOUCHEBAG AND I’M PROUD OF IT!!!” Especially given the reports that Donald Trump refuses to say whether he will even honor the election results if Hillary Clinton wins in a few weeks. I’m sure these assholes don’t give a damn about keeping the U.S. a functioning democracy or honoring the U.S. Constitution. They probably will refuse to watch videos like this one showing Keith Olbermann expressing outrage over the possibility that Trump may not even honor the election results if he happens to lose.

I am so glad I left Glen Burnie years ago. At least I’m among people who have accepted me as I am and I don’t have to see any pro-Trump lawn signs.

Just a few days before Labor Day I got word that my mother was sent to the University of Maryland Baltimore Washington Medical Center in Glen Burnie for sepsis. I even wrote a couple of blog posts on August 31, 2016 and September 1, 2016 about my mom’s latest hospitalization. Luckily the staff managed to treat it so she could be released just in time for the start of the Labor Day holiday weekend.

When I was growing up in Glen Burnie the hospital was known as North Arundel Hospital. I was there when I was a high school senior in order to have a pilonidal cyst removed just before the start of Thanksgiving Day. (In fact I was released just the day before Thanksgiving.) I visited other relatives during their hospital stays when it was still known as North Aundel.

The University of Maryland took over North Arundel after I permanently left Glen Burnie and they not only renamed that hospital but it also did major amount of remodeling of the original hospital building while adding other adjacent buildings next to it so that hospital is now way larger than when I remembered it while I was growing up.

I took a few photos of the hospital. It’s very glitzy compared to my memories of the old North Arundel Hospital. But my mom did get excellent care during her recent stay so I have no complaints.

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I also spent some time exploring Glen Burnie while I was commuting both to and from the hospital. In fact the whole week before Labor Day was spent commuting from the Washington, DC area to Glen Burnie. I checked out what was once one of my favorite shopping malls growing up that was known as the Glen Burnie Mall. In the years since I’ve moved that mall changed its name to The Centre at Glen Burnie but it has definitely gone downhill since I left that town. One of the few interesting things I found about that mall is that it was the first time I’ve ever seen a vending machine that dispenses Pringles potato chips. I purchased one and I found that it sold the small individual sized cans in that machine. But I still found it pretty novel that there is actually a vending machine that sells nothing but Pringles potato chips.

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I also went inside of Toys R Us, which is still going strong even though its main entrance faces a nearly dead mall. I saw that there is yet another re-release of Furby, which brought back memories of the time I did a fan site devoted to Furby in the late 1990’s-early 2000’s only to get all kinds of crazy attention from people who ere desperate to get their hands on these electronic critters. This new Furby generation was on sale for a whopping $99! (I remember when the original Furbys only cost $30.)

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I last took pictures inside this mall back in 2014 and even then it looked dead with very few stores still in business. As you can see, this mall has gotten even more deserted since then. There’s one end of the mall that’s not even worth walking to anymore because all of the storefronts and kiosks are completely closed and empty.

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I did some driving along the downtown Glen Burnie area on Crain Highway. This downtown was once very lively with a lot of locally owned mom-and-pop stores back when Glen Burnie was a small rural farming town. But then the developers built new shopping malls and shopping centers and those new shopping areas had siphoned off much of the original downtown businesses. When I was growing up, I saw mostly empty storefronts. In fact, that downtown was notorious for the New Glen Theater, which originally started as a regular movie theater but, by the time my family moved to Glen Burnie, that theater showed nothing but pornographic x-rated films. After I left Glen Burnie the New Glen Theater was somehow closed (I have no idea if the owner decided to sell or if the local officials seized it through eminent domain) and torn down. The downtown has undergone a bit of a revival in recent years. (Naturally all this happened long after I moved away.) There is this really cool antique store at the intersection of Crain Highway and Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard that is filled from the floor to the ceiling with antiques. One could easily spend the whole day in that store.

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I also checked out this large big box discount store that’s located closer to where my childhood home is located. It’s known as Gabe’s and there aren’t any stores with that name in my area. In fact, I did a search at Gabe’s site and I found that that chain does operate stores in my area under the name Rugged Wearhouse.

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As you can see Gabe’s is a discount place with a constant stream of merchandise that’s similar to places like Roses, Burlington Coat Factory, Marshall’s, and T.J. Maxx.

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I last visited my mother in the hospital on the day before she was scheduled to be released (which was the Friday before the start of Labor Day weekend). I brought my latest painting, My Little Pony, with me because it was also the first day that the Greenbelt Labor Day Art Show was accepting entries and it was the most convenient time due to the fact that I was going to Baltimore the next day (which I’ll write about in a future post). I left the painting in the car while I visited my mom. Afterwards I stopped off at this Royal Farms Store. I decided to pick up some dinner and I love Royal Farms’ fried chicken.

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This particular Royal Farms Store had an adjacent car wash that was also touted as being environmentally friendly.

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This particular Royal Farms is pretty spacious, as you can see in the next few photos.

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Royal Farms has a unique way of ordering food that I haven’t seen anywhere else. You go to this touch screen and order what you want. This screen prints out a receipt. You go to the cashier, show the person your receipt, and pay for your meal. Then you wait until your meal has been packaged then you pick it up.

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I also purchased a pack of Berger Cookies because I haven’t had them in a while and they are such a great treat.

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I basically drove from Glen Burnie to the Greenbelt Community Center so I could drop off my painting for the Greenbelt Labor Day Art Show. Then I returned home where I ate my Royal Farms fried chicken meal and Berger Cookies.

My mother will be discharged from the hospital tomorrow. That’s great because she’ll be spending the Labor Day holiday weekend at home instead of in the hospital. I’m also happy as well because I was not looking forward to driving from outside of Washington, DC to Glen Burnie (where her hospital is located) during a major holiday weekend that tends to draw huge visitors who clog the highways even more than usual. So I’m happy.

I tried to make the best of that situation by going to Crabtowne USA while I was in the area. I ate lunch the first day I visited my mom while taking advantage of that restaurant’s $7.99 value meal menu that’s only in effect from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. from Monday-Friday. I only ate there once because it can still get expensive even with the value meal. But I mostly played the vintage pinball machines and arcade games that Crabtowne USA has become famous for in recent years.

I also visited some other places around Glen Burnie while I remembered the years I spent there from ages 5-19 (when I went to the University of Maryland at College Park) and for a 10-month period from 22-23 (when I got married). Even that got tiresome after a day or two because, to be honest, Glen Burnie isn’t exactly a tourist attraction. Glen Burnie’s biggest claim to fame is that an episode of the 1970’s TV series Movin’ On was shot there. There aren’t any memorials or museums or art galleries to visit other than what’s listed on RoadsideAmerica.com (which I had already seen on previous trips).  I also didn’t look up any old friends and acquaintances who still lived there due to the fact that I have pretty much severed ties with the kids I grew up with because most of them looked down on me like I was subhuman and they used to call me “retarded,” which stuck with me throughout all of my school years and it discouraged most guys from asking me for a date.

So I was happy when I visited my mom today and I got word from her case manager that she will be sent home tomorrow. I can mostly rest easy for Labor Day while hoping that Hurricane Hermine, which is currently striking the Tampa-St. Petersburg area of Florida, goes nowhere near my area.

I currently have a lot going on in my life now. I’m presently doing a freelance project from home on behalf of a nonprofit group that I’m not going to get into because I’m sticking with my new blog policy of not writing about any ongoing projects that I’m still working on for other people until after that project is completed. (I had to enact it after I was working for a startup that insisted that I write blog posts in my own blog—which is the one that you’re currently reading—about its new product that it was trying to sell instead of the startup getting its own website or blogging account. You can read about how well it ultimately went in full detail.) Fortunately that nonprofit already has its own website, blog, and social media accounts so I won’t have to deal with telling anyone why I will refuse any requests to write any posts in this blog about that project until after it’s finished.

Recently I got a job lead through my support group for people who are separated or divorced about a temp agency needing to hire a bunch of file clerks for a big digitizing project that’s being done on behalf of the Veteran’s Administration. The job would be in Jessup but the interviews were being held in Glen Burnie. I managed to snag an interview for Monday, August 29 at 10 a.m. The night before that interview I got word that my mother had been admitted to the hospital yet again for sepsis. She’s currently in a hospital in Glen Burnie.

I ended up going through with the job interview but I packed a change of clothes to wear for going to the nearby hospital to visit my mother. At one point I was pulled over by a cop for having a busted taillight. Fortunately I left plenty of time for commuting so I was able to arrive for the 10 a.m. with only a minute to spare. I was among the applicants who were herded into a room for orientation about this job only to discover that it required standing nearly eight hours a day plus lifting 35 pounds at a time. With my hip replacement, I’m not sure if I could handle the physical requirements. The recruiter said that we were free to stay to interview with one of the other recruiters for other positions that the agency may get in the future. So I stayed a little while longer while filling out an application and chatting with one of the recruiters. The woman I spoke with didn’t have anything but she agreed to keep my application and resume on file in case something comes up.

After dealing with a cop and that job interview, I headed over to Crabtowne USA where I changed into shorts and a t-shirt in the women’s restroom. I ordered a crab cake sandwich, fries, and a Diet Coke through this $7.99 value meal menu that the restaurant only offers Monday-Friday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. After lunch I briefly played a couple of vintage video games and pinball machines then headed over to the nearby hospital to visit my mother.

Right now she’s doing okay but she frequently gets tired and there are times when she simply drifts off to sleep. I’ve been bringing my laptop with me so I could continue to do work for that nonprofit and do some web surfing whenever my mother falls asleep. (Hooray for the hospital’s free wi-fi!) I’m hoping that she’ll get released before the Labor Day holiday weekend because it would suck to be stuck there for the holidays. Plus I would have to deal with heavy holiday traffic since I’m currently commuting from just outside Washington, DC to Glen Burnie. On top of that the city of Greenbelt has its annual Labor Day Festival, which has its own area traffic snarls as people try to enter and compete for parking. (There is a free shuttle bus service with stops at various locations but a lot of people still prefer to drive their cars and park as close to the festival grounds as possible.)

The Escape Artists Gallery fundraiser for the Ellicott City flood victims is still going on but I haven’t checked out my painting in that show nor have I gotten word on whether it has been sold. I will get a chance to see my painting on display this Friday evening because the gallery is having a farewell party. (The show ends on September 4.) If my mother doesn’t get released from the hospital by then, my plan is to visit her first then go to the North Linthicum light rail and take that into Baltimore for the party. If she does get released then I’ll go into Baltimore earlier, spend some time at the Walters Art Museum (which is located near the Escape Artists Gallery and it has free admission), eat dinner at the Subway that’s located underneath the gallery then head into the party.

A few weeks ago I had prescheduled a few posts that will gradually go live over the next few days so I don’t really have to do much with this blog at the moment.

Right now I’m hoping that my mother gets well enough so she can be released from the hospital before the holiday weekend begins.

On my way to another session of Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School in Baltimore, I decided to check out my old school. At the time I attended the official name was the Old Mill Educational Complex but on this more recent visit I saw a sign that indicated that the official name has since been modified to the Old Mill Schools.

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Once upon a time in the late 20th century someone at the Anne Arundel County Public School System had this idea of building this large complex that would have three schools in one. Two of them would be smaller middle schools, known as Old Mill Middle School North and Old Mill Middle School South, and each student would be assigned to one of the middle schools based on where he or she lived. The middle schools ran from grades 6-8. Once a student finished time in one of the middle schools, he/she would then go on to the larger high school that’s the largest school in this complex, Old Mill Senior High School.

This complex is totally sprawled out, which this panoramic shot shows below. I remember in my time around 4,000 students attended the high school part and I graduated in a class of 500 students.

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At the time this behemoth complex was built, I was attending seventh grade at Corcoran Junior High School, which was a school I was miserable at because of the bullies. Had this complex not been built, I would’ve spent grades 8 and 9 at Corcoran then transferred over to Glen Burnie High School for grades 10-12.

But since the complex was built I was sent over there where I spent five miserable years—one year at Old Mill Middle School North for the 8th grade and four years at Old Mill Senior High School for grades 9-12. Those years were so bad that I wanted to drop out and study for my GED instead buy my parents pressured me to stay. Those kids at that entire complex were so brazen that I documented one such example last year where this bully swiped my middle school yearbook and wrote this autographed where she confessed to being my bully and she liked it. I’ve not only posted her confession but also her name and school photo last year. (I’ve received zero blowback from what I did.)

Why was this school so bad? While there were plenty of teachers at the school complex who were dedicated at their jobs, it was the attitude of the administration that considered athletics more important than academics. They would constantly hype the latest exploits of the school football or basketball team over the PA system during morning homeroom. I remember when a guy who was a grade ahead of me in high school was accepted at Cornell University and the teachers and administrators were shocked that this kid was accepted by an Ivy League school. He also wasn’t an athlete so he was accepted to Cornell based on his grades instead of his prowess on the playing field, which further shocked that school. That was how low that administration’s expectations were on students’ academic achievements because the administration were so focused on sports.

I remember one year during my time there when the parents at the PTSA in that school were so appalled by the high school’s overemphasis on sports that they met with the principal to address their concerns. Nothing came of that meeting because that school continued to emphasize sports.

It’s telling that my years were so bad that my best high school memory was Graduation Day because I knew I never had to attend that school again. In the years since I went to that school I’ve heard that the high school had added an International Baccalaureate school that’s available only to certain students. But, based on online reviews I’ve read that were posted by parents of more recent students here, the word is that while the International Baccalaureate school program is excellent, for average students who aren’t able to get into the IB program, they are still paid less attention by the administration (especially if they aren’t athletes).

While other high schools in the county were known as “open campus” where students were allowed to leave campus for lunch then return, Old Mill resisted this and all students were required to remain on campus for lunch. In fact we weren’t allowed to leave campus for any reason unless we were among the lucky few students who had an off-campus internship. (The students who were on the business track study were the only ones who qualified for this.) As a concession the school provided a smoking area outside of the cafeteria for smoking students to enjoy a cigarette break. Thanks to finding this “No Smoking” sign, I now know that the smoking area is a thing of the past.

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The next photo shows the main entrance to the complex. Basically you enter through the doors where there are three additional sets of doors—one for each school. I only used those doors when I went on field trips. I used to enter through the back because the back entrances were closer to my neighborhood than the front, which would’ve added an extra 10-15 minutes of walking time. (Yes, I walked to school because my home was located within the 1-mile limit so the school system didn’t have to provide bus service.)

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Here is my salute that shows how fond I am of my five years at the Old Mill Schools.

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As you can guess, I shot these photos during the school’s summer break because there were very few people around. (There is a skeleton staff that works in the offices but they get off at 4 p.m.) During the school year I probably would’ve gotten some unwanted attention, especially if someone saw me shooting that last photo. I shot some video as well for a potential future project that’s currently a vague thing in my mind right now so I don’t know if anything will come of it. I just wanted some video footage in case I decided to do an art project based on my high school memories. I didn’t stay long because it was hot that day and I was on my way to Dr. Sketchy’s Baltimore, which I’ll write about in my next post. (Link is definitely NSFW.)

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