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Happy Earth Day! Here are some links for you to enjoy! 🙂
How Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, and Warren Buffet adhere to the Five-Hour Rule where they set aside at least one hour a day (or five hours a week) devoted to such practices as reading, reflection, and experimentation.
Philadelphia museum showing glass bongs as high art. The museum’s directors say that this exhibit is less about potheads and more about allowing an underground community of artists to showcase their work without fear of being stigmatized or prosecuted.
A billionaire collector of Rembrandt’s works said he started his collection with the intention to take art out of hidden, private collections and put it back into the public domain by creating a lending library. He’s doing this in an effort to build bridges between different groups and countries.
Google unveiled a new set of features for its popular Maps app that lets users share their locations with friends and contacts in real time so they can quickly let friends know if they are running late to a meeting or stuck in traffic.
Like I wrote in a prior entry, that particular Sunday was a busy day for me. I started off with going to Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School (link is definitely NSFW) and I ate an early dinner while I was at the Bier Baron. After the event ended and I finished eating, I decided to get back on the Metro and head to the White House so I could check out the National Christmas Tree.
Even though I’ve lived my entire life in the Baltimore-Washington, DC area, I’ve only been to the National Christmas Tree two other times. One of them was when I walked past it one spring or summer day but that was in the off-season when it just looked like a typical pine tree. The other was when I went during the winter holiday season and that was when Bill Clinton occupied the White House.
Yeah, I know it’s kind of pathetic that I live in the area and I haven’t made more of an effort to actually visit the National Christmas Tree. This year I decided to actually schedule a visit since next year a new Trump Administration will take control of the White House and Trump seems to have gone out of his way to continue with pissing off people on Twitter. I just want to photograph the Washington, DC area as it is now before Trump takes over because I have a feeling that the DC area will never be quite the same as it is right now.
Like I wrote earlier I last went to the National Christmas Tree when Bill Clinton was in office. While the White House has always had a fence around it, there was a time when you could walk close to the fence then cut through this fenced alleyway over to the Ellipse where the National Christmas Tree is located. Thanks to 9/11 the entire downtown area has become more fortified, including the White House. Basically one now has to walk one block away from the White House, turn a corner, then walk another block back towards the Ellipse side of the White House. This new path definitely increases walking time to get to the National Christmas Tree.
It didn’t help that on the night I went there were even more cutoffs because of a scheduled motorcade of limousines carrying certain VIPs to and from the White House. Living in the DC area you get used to having streets and sidewalks get periodically blocked off to make way for these special motorcades. Here is what it was like at the intersection of 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, Northwest.
I eventually made my way back towards the White House on the Ellipse side. My feet were sore but all that walking was worth it once I reached the National Christmas Tree.
Surrounding the National Christmas Tree were a variety of toy train layouts resembling small villages and towns with a toy train running through each.
There was a display of smaller trees with each one representing a U.S. state or territory.
The next photo shows the tree that represented my home state of Maryland.
The one other time I went to the National Christmas Tree during the winter holiday season I remember that there was a giant lit Yule log and I could warm myself by the fire. I didn’t see any Yule logs or bonfires this time around but I encountered something that I didn’t expect. There was a tent sponsored by Google enticing people to do some computer coding in order to get a free cup of hot chocolate.
This exhibit was somehow tied in with the 100th anniversary of the National Parks Service. (Although, for the life of me, I didn’t see how doing some computer coding was in any way related to visiting National Parks Service places like the Lincoln Memorial or Mount Rushmore or Yosemite.)
Basically you had to queue up outside and wait until someone opened the tent door and let you inside. Since I went on a Sunday night I didn’t have a long wait outside. Once I was inside the tent I had to wait some more until a station with a Chromebook (you can definitely tell that Google sponsored this) opened up.
Once I reached the next available Chromebook I found that it was opened to the Made With Code site. I definitely recognized that webpage because I had previously visited it on World Emoji Day back in July and I created my first personalized Emoji. Using the Blockly programming language (another indication that Google sponsored this) I created this Christmas-themed Emoji.
The next step was to wirelessly send my newly created Emoji to the nearest hot chocolate dispenser.
A screen at the top showed a selection of recently created Emojis. I found the one I created and chose that one.
Here’s where the cool part came in. The hot chocolate dispenser poured out the drink while creating special foam at the top that resembled my newly created Emoji.
There were some specially provided tables where you can center the hot chocolate and take a picture of it.
Given that cool looking foam featuring an Emoji that I personally coded myself, it was almost a shame to drink the hot chocolate. I was just glad I had my smartphone with me so I could photograph it for posterity and drink my free hot chocolate without regret. (As for the hot chocolate itself, it was okay but I’ve tasted better hot chocolate at Starbucks. I can’t complain too much about it since I got it for free.)
There was a stall that sold the official 2017 White House ornament. It was nice looking but I didn’t buy it since I have a small artificial tree these days and it can’t hold too many ornaments.
The last picture I took that night was of a life-sized nativity scene that was placed near the National Christmas Tree.
Today I got notice from RoadsideAmerica.com that a tip I submitted, along with corresponding photographs, have been accepted. It’s about this house in Hyattsville that has long been a fixture for its unique decorating style. It is featured on its Latest Tips page and it has its own page that has a brief blurb written by me along with my own photographs. It’s pretty cool that my name is involved on someone else’s website. I have a lot of other pictures that didn’t make it to that page that I’ll write about in a future post.
Today is World Emoji Day, which I had never heard of until I saw a link on Google’s homepage today. The link takes you to the Made With Code site where you can create your own emoji using the simple programming language Blockly. I took a stab at it and here’s the result.
Since this blog is about my arts, crafts, and photography, it made sense for me to create an artist emoji, complete with a French beret and a funky shirt.
And speaking of art, I took a short online Left Or Right Brain Test and here’s the result, which doesn’t surprise me in the least bit.
Have anyone checked out today’s Google Doodle, which celebrates the fact that the Eiffel Tower in Paris opened to the public for the first time on this day in 1889?
I’ve never been to Paris but I’ve seen a couple of Eiffel Tower replicas. One is a life-sized replica at King’s Dominion near Richmond, Virginia where people can actually ride up to the top. The other is at Epcot located in the World Showcase area at the French Pavilion. It’s located behind the theater where the Impressions de France movie is shown. Unlike the King’s Dominion one, this Eiffel Tower is mainly for show and is off-limits to the public.
I would love to see the real thing in Paris but money is pretty tight for me at the moment.
In any case, since today is an Eiffel Tower anniversary, I’d thought I’d highlight something that I currently have on sale in my Spoonflower shop. It’s called J’Aime La France outfit for 18-inch dolls (such as American Girl) and it’s my riff on the default Meet outfit that the 2015 Girl of the Year Grace Thomas wears. Prices for my outfit range from around $10-$17, depending on which fabric you select. All you have to do is sew it yourself. You can see a few dolls model the outfit below, which was produced on the Basic Cotton.
How to make a mechanical knitting loom using Legos.
Have old comic books that you want to get rid of but no one wants to buy because they aren’t considered “valuable” enough? Turn them into coasters!
A free tutorial on how to create a miniature garden that’s small enough to fit a teacup.
Browse other free tutorials previously mentioned in this blog (along with pictures) right here.
The amazing works of art which were created in the world’s second largest refugee camp.
For those of you who have been posting NSFW content in your blog using Blogger, you need to read about Google’s recent announcement that it’s banning public NSFW blogs from Blogger.
And, speaking of which, the next couple of links are NSFW. A story about Cynthia Plaster Caster, who was known among certain rock stars back in the late 1960’s for making plaster casts of, ahem!, certain body parts. These days she teaches others her craft and, through her website, she still offers her plaster caster services but she focuses more on breasts than penises.
Late last night, while I was doing laundry and general computing, I saw a link on Google located below the search box that had a small Christmas tree icon and it said “The holidays are Made With Code. Light up a tree in our nation’s capital.” So I clicked on it and it led me to a page where I can actually program the colors and patterns of the lights on one of the state Christmas trees that are currently on display at the White House. So I played around a bit with the Blockly programming language and came up with a light color and pattern scheme. I picked the Maryland state tree (mainly because I live there) as being the one that will display what I’ve programmed and then I submitted it.
According to the page after I submitted it, my design is going to be displayed on the Maryland state tree on December 5 at approximately 7:33 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. Since I live near DC, I could even time it where I would arrive in time to see my tree with my pattern if I wanted to. I don’t know if I’ll do it. It really depends on things like having free time or if it will rain. But it’s kind of neat in any case.
You can view what I’ve programmed (as well as see the link where you can do your own Christmas tree coding) right here.