You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Hatsune Miku’ tag.

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In the 1970’s this 25-mile-long art project by conceptual artist Christo Javacheff wowed the Bay Area.

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Easy Easter crafts that will bring an element of nature to your home.

3D printer helps revive 103-year-old Delage Type-S car.

Virtual anime girl Kizuna Ai rises to fame. She was created using the same software that was used to create virtual pop star Hatsune Miku.

Is YouTube turning against the marginalized community it built its network on?

Italian artists craft the world’s first 24-carat gold-plated shoes that costs ₤21,000 per pair.

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Why Piet Mondrian could be considered to be the first digital artist.

Microsoft provided information to the British authorities after the London attack.

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Open source software is for everyone—so where are the women?

A free tutorial on making a pocket jack-in-the-box in order to keep children occupied while traveling.

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Santa Claus

This year New Year’s Day fell on a Sunday so my Unitarian Universalist church decided to schedule its usual Sunday morning service. Since New Year’s Day is also the last day of Kwanzaa, the theme of this service was on Kwanzaa and how this congregation’s observance of it is more important now than ever before (especially since my congregation is among the houses of worship that has put up a Black Lives Matter banner on its property).

There was a special Kwanzaa feast following the Sunday service. The special Kwanzaa altar remained up after the service ended so I took a few photographs.

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I even got pretty silly and took this last photo using the Hatsune Miku photo app on my smartphone.

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Birthday Cake

Today is yet another birthday for me. For this special day I’m going to upload .jpegs of some special letters I wrote earlier this year that basically explains a few things about myself.

Here is some background. This past spring the Religious Exploration program (which is what my Unitarian Universalist congregation calls its Sunday school program) decided to do an intergenerational activity which is supposed to foster more community between the young children in the program and other adult members beside the children’s parents.

So the Mystery Buddy program was started. Basically one adult and one child would be paired up. Neither would know about who the buddy was other than each person was given a mailbox number where the two buddies would deliver letters. (The mailboxes were really manilla folders that were hung on a bulletin board and they each had a number.) Basically each Sunday in April the person would drop off a letter for his/her buddy while picking up the letter that the buddy left for him/her. At the end of the month a special reception would be held after both Sunday service and the Religious Education classes (which run concurrently) where both paris of mystery buddies would meet each other in person for the first time.

I decided to take part of it because I figured that it would be fun. I was paired with a pre-school boy who is a big fan of My Little Pony. Since the kid was so young, I had to be careful about writing letters mainly because I wasn’t sure what his reading level was (or if he had even learned to read yet). I decided to create picture collages instead. Well, anyway, we managed to put our letters in the slots and I finally met him in person. (The boy was a bit on the shy side and he ended up not speaking much while sticking closely with his mother. I ended up talking with his parents instead, which was okay.)

So, as a special birthday feature, I’m going to upload what I originally gave to my Mystery Buddy. Each week of the Mystery Buddy program had a different theme so we didn’t have to come up with a subject idea for our letters, which was a great idea. The first week focused on music. I downloaded some graphics off the Internet and I did this collage in Photoshop where I mixed in some of the musicians I actually like (such as Pink Floyd and The Beatles) with Octavia from My Little Pony (as a nod to my Mystery Buddy’s interest in that show), the virtual pop star Hatsune Miku (I figured that he might be into cartoon characters), and the Internet sensation Keyboard Cat (I figured that he would get a kick out of that one). For added measure I had Rainbow Dash near the rainbow-producing prism that graced Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon album.

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Week 2’s theme was favorite hobbies. I ended up doing a short one-page letter where I included a few samples of my drawings and photographs.

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Week 3’s theme was happiest childhood memory. I was a bit stumped on this one until I decided to write about The Enchanted Forest. Even though, at two pages, it’s the longest of my letters, it’s basically a short and simplified version of my Saving The Enchanted Forest movie that I screened at last year’s Artomatic in Hyattsville.

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The fourth and final week had favorite games as the theme. I decided to just list two board games (Monopoly and The Game of Life) and two video games (Pac-Man and Angry Birds).

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Okay so I didn’t write my entire autobiography in those letters but hopefully, through reading them, you have the chance to learn a little more about the person who writes this blog (me). 🙂

There was one weekend in June that had two festivals I was potentially interested in attending—one was the Maryland Faerie Festival and the other was Hon Fest. Both took place on the same weekend. I finally chose Hon Fest because I went to the Maryland Faerie Festival last year, money was a bit too tight for me to take a longer trip to Darlington, and I hadn’t been to Hon Fest since 2013. So I wallowed in this annual celebration of kitsch.

The only downside was the weather. For the past two or three weeks before the festival the weather had been a bit on the cool side with low humidity. It figures that the usual high heat and high humidity would make a comeback just in hime for Hon Fest. (The temperature went up as high as 91 degrees Fahrenheit and, boy, did I feel that humidity.) I dealt with the weather by periodically ducking into the air conditioned shops.

I took a whole lot of pictures because everything was so over the top.

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

One of the cooling stations was at St. Luke’s Church on the Avenue, which is a really lovely  historic church that is engaged in all kinds of social action projects, such as setting up its own urban garden.

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

The church got in on the Hon Fest kitsch action by setting up this giant Kerplunk! game outside.

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

I did some more shots of the festival and the surrounding area. It was one large major piece of kitschy eye candy.

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

At one point I played around with my Hatsune Miku smartphone app, which resulted in this photo.

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

Other than that photo I basically took my Hon Fest pictures straight with no filters or special apps.

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

I checked out this relatively new store (or at least it had opened since my last visit to the Hampden area back in 2013) called The Nerdporium, which has comic books and classic video games on sale.

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

After my brief visit to The Nerdporium I resumed my picture taking of the sights of Hon Fest in general.

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

I showed up to one of the stages where I saw a band that I recognized. They are The Wild Anacostias and I have seen them play at various places near my home before. That’s cool to suddenly run into their performance. They definitely got the crowd going.

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

The Wild Anacostias led a procession of Hons (people who dressed up in totally kitsch fashion) to an area where a professional photographer took a group shot.

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016
HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

Even Mr. Natty Boh got in on the fun.

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

I shot a short video of the beginning of the parade where you can see what the people who followed them wore.

This next photo is of the inside of a Royal Farms Store. I’ve been to other Royal Farms Store but this one is the fanciest I’ve ever been in. This location actually has two floors with tables and chairs. The others I’ve been in are the usual convenience stores with no seating.

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

Here’s the Glamour Lounge where a woman can get her hair teased into a beehive.

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

Here are a few more miscellaneous shots of the festival.

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

I finished my time at Hon Fest with some ice cream that was made on the premises at The Charmery. They not only had excellent ice cream but there is also a pretty cool wall mural with a painted sidewalk on the side of the store. A lot of people chilled by that store.

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

After I finished eating my ice cream and taking the previous photos, I decided to head back to the parking garage so I could retrieve my car. (One great thing about Hon Fest is that Johns Hopkins University lends out its parking garage for only $5. It’s only slightly more than taking the light rail then transferring to the Hampden shuttle bus and it’s way more convenient.)

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

I went inside a shop called Bazaar Baltimore, which sells all kinds of strange stuff.

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

Once I left that store I blundered around the area for a bit. (I rarely visit that area.) I managed to reach the 700 block of 34th Street, which is the same area that’s famous for its annual display of Christmas lights. Seeing that block again reminded me of the time I went there in June, 2013 and I did a blog post where I posted photos showing side-by-side comparisons of that block in early summer with that same block six months earlier when all the homes were decked out in lights. I took a few brief pictures of those homes but not as many as I took back in 2013.

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

What’s more, two of those homes in that block are currently for sale. If you’re looking for a new home in Baltimore and you’re the kind of person who loves to totally decorate your home for Christmas and you don’t mind getting a lot of attention from people who literally come from across the U.S. (and even some foreign countries), then you may want to call the phone numbers listed in those signs.

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

At one point, while I was on my way back to the parking garage I tripped and fell on my knees. One knee was scraped up so much that I had to use tissues to blot the blood and I ended up covering it with a large bandage when I got home. I was feeling a bit woozy from the high heat and high humidity so I wasn’t quite as careful when I was walking. Luckily I was okay. The wound got slightly infected at one point but I managed to get rid of the infection by using Dr. Gordshell’s Skin Cream. It’s the same stuff my parents used to use on me when I was a kid and I would sometimes have a scraped knee that became infected. This stuff did a great job with my latest wound. Dr. Gordshell’s is so good at fighting burns and infections that if you have a situation where it doesn’t work at all, then it’s time for you to see the doctor. I’m serious about this. (And, no, Dr. Gordshell’s isn’t paying me to endorse this. I have had enough first-hand experience that I can vouch for its effectiveness.)

I managed to take one more charming photo of a home in Hampden before I found the parking garage so I could retrieve my car and drive home.

HonFest, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2016

I’m finally writing a new post about the virtual Japanese pop superstar Hatsune Miku for the first time in 2016. About a couple of weeks ago I was shopping at a local Five Below (the store chain where everything is sold for under $5) when I saw this blind blister pack featuring a backpack hanger that’s shaped like Hatsune Miku for around $2-$3. I decided to buy it on impulse mainly because finding affordable Hatsune Miku stuff is so difficult in the United States. A Volks Dollfie Dream based on Hatsune Miku costs around 62,000 yen (or close to $545 U.S. dollars), Amazon.com is selling a Pullip version of Hatsune Miku for nearly $140, and this Hatsune Miku action figure costs $117.49.

So I bought the cheap Hatsune Miku backpack hanger from Five Below and I took it home. Here is what the package looked like in the front.

Hatsune Miku Backpack Hanger

As you can see, the package is one of those blind blister packages where the purchaser does not know which backpack hanger he/she is getting until after the consumer purchases the item and takes it home. The front has a very cute illustration of Hatsune Miku in chibi form with her name written in both Japanese and English. The back of the package shows the six possible backpack hangers that the consumer could potentially get. (Of course, this package only has one of the six designs.)

Hatsune Miku Backpack Hanger

When you first open the blister package, the backpack hanger is covered with a sheet of cardboard.

Hatsune Miku Backpack Hanger

Once the cardboard is removed, you start to see which design you’ve just purchased. It turned out that I got the design that’s identical to the illustration on the front of the blister package, which features a grinning Hatsune Miku with her eyes shut and flashing a peace sign. The hanger part is encased in plastic.

Hatsune Miku Backpack Hanger

Once I removed the plastic I saw that, under the big ring, her name is printed in a large Japanese font with her English name spelled in a much smaller font underneath.

Hatsune Miku Backpack Hanger

As you can see, this backpack hanger is very cute.

Hatsune Miku Backpack Hanger

Hatsune Miku Backpack Hanger

The figurine doesn’t stand on her own so I had to use a small Pyrex dish in order to prop her up.

Hatsune Miku Backpack Hanger

Hatsune Miku Backpack Hanger

For this last photo I played around with my photo app where I took this picture of Hatsune Miku with her backpack hanger doppelgänger.

International pop superstar Hatsune Miku next to her doppelganger.

The bottom line is this: this backpack hanger is very cute and charming and it’s definitely an affordable way for cash-strapped folks to purchase official Hatsune Miku stuff. The downside is the blind blister package because you literally don’t know which design you’ll be getting until after you purchase it. That can be a hassle for anyone who wants to collect all six Hatsune Miku backpack hangers in this series. I know that buying collectibles in blind packages is the rage these days but I’m personally not a fan of it because of the risk that you’ll end up with something that’s either a duplicate of something that you already own or you’ll get a design that you’re not fond of. Personally I’d rather know exactly what I’m buying before I buy it. Yes it was an impulse buy of a cheap item but I probably won’t buy any more blind blister packages because I don’t want to risk getting a duplicate, which would then lead me to figure out what to do with that extra duplicate.

Dancing Skeleton

Yesterday I celebrated Halloween and it was mostly good. It fell on a Saturday this year and it was also the day when Daylight Savings Time formally ended so we had to set our clocks back one hour. Which means that everyone got an extra hour of sleep, which was perfect timing because people could attend Halloween parties on a Saturday night knowing that they can sleep one hour more than usual.

When I was growing up, Halloween decorations were limited mainly to window decals and paper decorations that one can post on the front door. It’s just so amazing to me the amount of stuff that one can buy nowadays in order to decorate. Right now I’m starting to think that Halloween will eventually rival Christmas for the most over-the-top decorations that one can purchase for the home. Here are some incredibly decorated Halloween homes that I saw.

The next few photos showed this house in Bethesda, Maryland that was really decorated with these really cool looking lawn decorations. I wasn’t able to get any night shots of this house but one can only imagine that it must look just as fabulous (if not more fabulous) as in the daytime when I took these photos.

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One night, shortly before Halloween, I was in the process of walking to a meeting at a local church in Greenbelt, Maryland when I came across this lit scene in someone’s yard that looks like there’s a graveyard.

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The headstones all contain amusing puns that reminded me of the ones at the Haunted Mansion ride in Walt Disney World.

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There was even a spotlight featuring Halloween images that were shown on a nearby building in the background.

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A few days later I revisited that house in the daytime and I found that there were even more details that were better viewed when the sun was up.

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There was another house in Greenbelt, Maryland that also had some interesting Halloween decorations on the front lawn.

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Then there was this house, also in Greenbelt, Maryland, that had a bunch of Halloween decorations on the front lawn.

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The next few photos show this home that belong to some friends of mine who throw a really awesome Halloween party every year and I make an effort to show up. They really go all out for the decorations, as you can see in the next few photos.

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I didn’t take too many interior shots inside their home mainly because I was busy drinking and socializing. My sole photo was one where I messed around with the Hatsune Miku app on my phone for the first time in many months. I took a photo of the virtual pop superstar in my friends’ living room at the party.

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As I left the party I noticed that one of my friends’ neighbors had these really cool looking carved pumpkins.

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Compared to other people, my home is relatively sparse in terms of Halloween decorations. I live alone these days so, for me, it doesn’t make sense to do a huge amount of decorating on my front lawn because it can get pretty expensive and some of them can also be big electricity suckers. I did some effects that were low-cost. For example I delayed cutting the dead bunch of black-eyed susans so I had the effect of dead weeds growing in my front yard on Halloween. I’ve seen decorations that resemble dead weeds on sale but I thought it was cheaper to just delay gardening for a while so I would have some real dead and dried plants.

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Last year I didn’t bother with carving jack o’lanterns because my oven broke and I didn’t have enough money to hire a repair person. On Black Friday of last year I purchased an Oster convection oven at Target for $40, which was a perfect stop-gap for me since I’m only cooking for myself these days. The sole snag is that the convection oven broke a week before Halloween. By that point I had purchased one pumpkin from Clark’s Elioak Farm and I really wanted some roasted pumpkin seeds this year. I ended up going to Best Buy where I purchased a Black and Decker convection oven for $75. (Note for self: Never purchase any major appliances with a super cheap sales price on Black Friday from a big box retailer ever again.)

In any case I managed to get my new oven put up and I even purchased a second pumpkin just in time for Halloween. Here are my two carved jack o’lanterns.

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Here is what they look like at night. In one of them I put in an electronic light that turns the pumpkins a variety of different colors, which creates a very cool effect.

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In the other pumpkin I put in a lit candle.

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Otherwise, there was very little difference between how I decorated my home this year and last year. Unlike last year I went back to my usual practice of waiting until the day before Halloween before I put the decorations outside. I still have memories of last year when I decided to put my decorations outside a few weeks before Halloween and someone stole this rubber bat that I’ve had for many years. (I’ll admit that it’s not like the bat was very valuable. It was something that I won at an office party when I was employed by one of my former jobs a number of years ago and I’ve used it as a Halloween decoration for years afterwards. It’s annoying that someone decided to steal it.)

I’ll leave the decorations up until Tuesday since today and tomorrow is the Day of the Dead holiday in Mexico and, like Halloween, this holiday deals with skeletons, ghosts, and the afterlife.

A temporary Halloween store had opened in the nearest mall in my area. There were a variety of costumes available for sale including sexualized female versions of Spider-Man, Captain America, the Scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz, the Care Bears, and even Alice in Wonderland. There were also all kinds of Halloween decorations that one could buy.

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I ended up purchasing this hat that resembled Grumpy Cat for only $10.

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I also went to Behnke’s Nurseries, which had a bunch of pumpkins, gourds, and other types of Halloween decorations on sale. It was the same store where I purchased my second pumpkin to join the other one I purchased from Clark’s Elioak Farm just a few weeks earlier.

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Talk about mixing the holidays up! The foreground had Halloween decorations while, if one looked in the background to the left of the Halloween display, you’ll see a Christmas angel that has just been erected on one of the store’s doors.

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This year I decided to go as Grumpy Cat as I wore my new Grumpy Cat hat. As for the rest of the costume, I paired it with this My Little Pony Rainbow Dash hoodie that I purchased a few years ago. I was inspired to do this after seeing my Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feeds being flooded with images of Grumpy Cat being dressed in a variety of different costumes such as ship captain, jester, pirate, and two Star Wars characters—Yoda and Princess Leia. I printed up three signs based on slogans I’ve seen on various Grumpy Cat memes. I wore this outfit to a Halloween dance that was held in my church on October 30 and the Halloween party that my two friends threw on Halloween the following night. I had a lot of positive responses to this although there were a few less-Internet savvy friends who didn’t understand the joke.

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Other years I’ve seen Halloween Peeps shaped like ghosts, jack o’lanterns, and black cats. This year I saw something that I hadn’t seen before—Peeps shaped like cemetery headstones

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Since I had planned on attending two parties on two consecutive nights, I decided to bake some cookies using my recently purchased convection oven. I purchased the sugar cookies from Aldi (it was the store’s version of the Pillsbury cookies where you horizontally slice a long vertical piece of dough and you get special cookies with pictures on them). I purchased enough to make two batches, one for each party. The cookies were well received in both places. Here is what the cookies looked like.

photo74This year I gave out special mini packages of Snyder’s of Hanover pretzels which had a colorful cute monster design on the front package. The only downside that only a total of 10 trick or treaters showed up at my doorstep this year. I was glad that I only purchased one package of the special pretzels so I don’t have to deal with too many leftovers. I’m also glad that I didn’t buy candy because I would’ve had to deal with getting rid of it without eating so much of it.

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I received so few trick or treaters that I decided to quit giving out treats early and walk over to my friends’ home for the Halloween party. I really enjoyed myself even as I drank hard root beer for the first time in my life. (I never knew that there was such a thing as alcoholic root beer.) I then drank hard cider. At one point my head was feeling woozy so I walked past this couple and I started to wonder if they were that Backstabbing Couple From Hell (a.k.a. my ex-husband and the so-called “friend” he left me for and subsequently married soon after the divorce was final). I wasn’t 100% sure because everything was dark and there were a lot of people there. I decided to ignore my paranoia and stick around. I was glad I did because I was busy socializing with people.

At one point I was feeling tired and woozy from the alcohol so I decided to go to the bathroom then walk back home. (I was so glad that I decided not to drive this year.) I ran into a guy who recognized me from the support group meetings for people who were separated or divorced. (He’s also friends with the people who threw that party.) We met while I was leaving the bathroom and he was waiting in line to use the bathroom. He told me “I can imagine you feeling awkward with your ex-husband there.” I turned around and I found that there was my ex in the next room and I realized that I wasn’t in some kind of an alcohol-fused hallucination. Those people were actually there. On that note I decided to walk home.

The next day I overslept and missed church. I was feeling a bit hungover so I just went to a nearby coffeehouse and worked on this post. So that’s it for Halloween 2015.

I had a rough few days with getting my taxes done on time. I managed to get them in the mail at 3 p.m. on April 15 just two hours before the local post office makes the final collection of the day. The next day I felt really burned out so I decided to spend the late afternoon doing something fun. I decided to check out the cherry blossom trees in the Tidal Basin for the first time in two years. (During that last time I was working on a photostory involving my Makies doll for a contest.) At times I also played around with that Hatsune Miku photo app so you’ll see those photos as well.

The gates at the Smithsonian Metro Station were decorated with pink cherry blossom decals.

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It was the fourth and final week of the National Cherry Blossom Festival but the only event scheduled that week was an 11-mile bike ride through downtown DC that was scheduled on April 18 (just two days after my Tidal Basin visit). The cherry blossoms were past their peak bloom but there were still plenty of flowers to admire along with tiny green leaves that were budding next to the flowers. They still made pretty pictures, such as the next two photos, (one of which includes the Washington Memorial).

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Many of the petals had fallen to the ground, which resembled a light dusting of pink snow.

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While the cherry blossoms were past their peak, the flowers in the nearby Tulip Library were just starting to bloom. There were a wide variety of tulips and daffodils in a variety of shapes and colors, providing such a feast for the eyes!

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I shot Hatsune Miku sitting among the tulips.

Hatsune Miku Goes to Washington

Many of the cherry blossom trees provided nice photography in various places, such as one place where the Jefferson Memorial can be seen in the far horizon.

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I took a couple of photos of Hatsune Miku with the Jefferson Memorial in the background.

Hatsune Miku Goes to Washington

Hatsune Miku Goes to Washington

The Stone Lantern can be seen in the next photo along with some nicely landscaped boulders complimenting it.

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 Here’s Hatsune Miku next to the Stone Lantern.

Hatsune Miku Goes to Washington

The newest of the Tidal Basin memorials, the Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial, can be seen in the next photo.

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Here’s Hatsune Miku at the MLK Memorial.

Hatsune Miku Goes to Washington

The MLK Memorial is so big that one can see it from a distance. (Yes, the white speck along the Tidal Basin is the memorial.)

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The Washington Memorial is another one that can be seen from a great distance.

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The next photo below shows the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. On this last visit I noticed one thing about that statue of FDR.

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His one finger seems shiner than the rest of the statue. It seems like visitors have been playing a variation of “Pull My Finger” for some weird reason.

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Parts of Fala’s ears and nose also seem very shiny compared to the rest of the statue. It seems like people have been petting the statue as if he were a real living dog.

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I had Hatsune Miku pose next to FDR and Fala giving a peace sign. The big irony is that Hatsune Miku originated in Japan and, well, FDR had that notorious policy that were aimed at American citizens who happened to be of Japanese descent even though none of them had anything to do with Pearl Harbor.

Hatsune Miku Goes to Washington

Just beyond the FDR Memorial is the Stone Pagoda. Of course I took a couple of photos of Hatsune Miku next to that one as well.

Hatsune Miku Goes to Washington

Hatsune Miku Goes to Washington

As I walked away from the Stone Pagoda I crossed the pedestrian bridge that’s over the inlet (which connects the Tidal Basin to the Potomac River), which features this hidden charm. It’s a fountain (which hasn’t worked in years) which has a creature that has the head of a grown man and the body of a fish-like creature. Underneath is a clamshell-shaped sink that would catch excess water if the fountain was working. This fountain never gets mentioned in any of the official guide books but it’s worth searching for while you’re crossing that pedestrian bridge.

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I eventually made it to the grounds of the Jefferson Memorial where I saw people taking photos of a member of the Park Police on horseback.

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I took my last photo of Hatsune Miku on the steps of the Jefferson Memorial.

Hatsune Miku Goes to Washington

Unlike previous trips, I didn’t bother going up the steps to visit the statue of Thomas Jefferson this time because I felt really tired. Between getting the taxes done and preparing for the Greenbelt Mini-Maker Faire, I was more tired than usual and I was happy just skipping the walk up those steps.

As I walked past the Bureau of Engraving and Printing building on my way back to the Smithsonian Metro Station, I saw this charming cherry blossom banner that I couldn’t resist photographing.

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On my way back to the Metro station, I noticed a sign signifying that I was on a portion of the East Coast Greenway. This is the third such sign I’ve seen after seeing others in Baltimore and at Lake Artemesia in Berwyn Heights, Maryland.

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While the cherry blossom trees were still in full bloom, I decided to check out the one that’s located closest to my home. Here is what the tree looked like while it was blooming those pretty pink flowers.

Cherry Blossom Tree

I even played around a bit with that photo app on my smartphone featuring Hatsune Miku as I posed her at that same tree.

Hatsune Miku and the Cherry Blossom Tree

Hatsune Miku and the Cherry Blossom Tree

Hatsune Miku and the Cherry Blossom Tree

It’s been two years since I last attended the annual Sakura Matsuri street festival that’s held in downtown Washington, DC as part of the larger National Cherry Blossom Festival. I thought about going down early in the morning so I could check out the Cherry Blossom Parade that precedes the Sakura Matsuri by starting at 10 a.m. But I was too lazy to get my act together so I could arrive that early so I basically ate breakfast and lunch at home then headed out to the Sakura Matsuri in the afternoon. (I was glad I ate my meals at home because nearly all of the food vendors had very long lines.)

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

I even dug out this Japanese imported Stitch hat that I purchased at one of the Otakon anime conventions that were held in Baltimore. I know it was before my marriage broke up because I bought it with my then-husband in mind because he was such a huge fan of the Disney movie Lilo & Stitch and Stitch was his favorite Disney character. I also remember when I modeled the hat for him and he was thrilled with it. That hat had been sitting in a drawer since my husband left but I decided that I could continue to use it because I think it’s a cute hat. Besides, it enabled me to blend in a little bit with the other people who were cosplaying. I even had several people at the festival notice my hat and telling me that they loved it. When I arrived in downtown DC, the one of the first things I did was to take a rare selfie of me wearing that hat.

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Like most other years, the festival was very crowded. I still enjoyed myself as I looked around at the sights and sounds of the festival. I even took a few silly pictures while I was there. I recently started to follow the official Sonic the Hedgehog accounts on Facebook and Instagram and it was through social media I learned that there is something called Travel Tuesday where people can submit photos of a Sonic doll or stuffed animal either at an event or some famous landmark (like the Eiffel Tower). I decided to pack my articulated Sonic vinyl doll so I could take his photo for Travel Tuesday. Here are the photos that I submitted but, as of this writing, none of them have been selected for Travel Tuesday.

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

I also played around a little bit with the Hatsune Miku photo app on my smartphone. I thought it was appropriate since that character originated in Japan. (Although now that I look at the pictures, I realized that I should’ve varied the girl’s pose just a little bit since she had the same facial expression and pose. Oh well.)

Hatsune Miku at the Sakura Matsuri

Hatsune Miku at the Sakura Matsuri

Hatsune Miku at the Sakura Matsuri

I basically walked around shooting pictures of cosplayers and the various items I saw on sale. I noticed a lot of ram and sheep plushies on sale this year, which makes sense since 2015 is the year that’s known alternatively as the Year of the Sheep, the Year of the Ram, or the Year of the Goat.

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

I only purchased one thing at this year’s festival.

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Yes, it’s chocolate gelato made by Dolci Gelati and it was very delicious!

While I heard musicians perform on the various stages throughout the festival, I only managed to capture one of the acts with my smartphone because it was one of the few times that I was even able to get close to a stage because everything was so crowded. As for the act that I captured, according to the program book, she is a pop singer from Kyoto named Jonetsu Mariko. I thought I recognized the name for some reason and the program book said that she was making a return appearance to the Sakura Matsuri. After I got home, I searched through this blog and I found out that I previously saw her at the 2010 Sakura Matsuri and I had also videotaped her that time. (She appeared under the name Jonetsu Marie and Shabondama High School.) In any case I took a still photo of her.

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

I even shot a short video of her performing on stage.

That video was the only one I shot at this year’s Sakura Matsuri.

I also saw that NASCAR driver Akinori Ogata was there with his race car, just like the last time I attended the Sakura Matsuri two years ago. Once again he appeared with Eneos, which makes motor oil. Eneos also had a bean bag toss game called “Cornhole.”

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Getting on the Metro so I could go home was a bit of a hassle. The last photo shows the long line that I had to stand in just so I could enter the Federal Triangle Metro Station. I’m only lucky that I had the foresight to put enough money on my Metro SmartTrip card for a round trip so I wouldn’t have to stand in another line at the farecard machines.

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Thanks to having some Good Samaritan neighbors, I managed to get my front porch, steps, and sidewalk dug out. All I needed to do was to dig out my car. It took a while but I can now drive it again, which is a good thing because I had preregistered for my church’s annual Women’s Retreat tomorrow and I had even volunteered to drive a fellow church member to that retreat. Of course I made those plans before that snowstorm arrived.

The bad news is that it’s totally cold outside right now. (The temperature is in the 20’s.) The good news is that it’s supposed to warm up tomorrow where it will get as high as 44 degrees Fahrenheit. Normally I wouldn’t be impressed with 44 degrees but, compared to the extremely cold sub-freezing temperatures lately, it’s going to be a relatively balmy day by comparison.

While I was digging out my car, I took a break where I walked over to the nearby woods to gawk at the picturesque scenery. I even played around with the Hatsune Miku photo app on my smartphone and I took this picture of the virtual Japanese pop superstar sitting on top of the snow in clothes that aren’t really made for such weather.

Hatsune Miku in the Snow

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