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April 8 was a pretty busy night. The local theater in Greenbelt, Maryland was among the numerous theaters nationwide who held a simultaneous screening of the film 1984. Before the movie began a group of local activists held a reading of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech “Beyond Vietnam” in honor of the 50th anniversary of that speech. (Ironically MLK gave that speech exactly one year before his assassination.)

Reading Martin Luther King's Letter

Reading Martin Luther King's Letter

Reading Martin Luther King's Letter

By the way, if you’re curious about the speech itself, you can read the text or you can hear Rev. King actually give that speech himself.

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As everybody knows, today is Inauguration Day where Donald Trump gets officially sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. Rather than focus on that event, I’d rather talk about dolls instead.

First of all, I want to announce that I no longer own the Talking Donald Trump Action Figure.

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I sold it last month on eBay. When I first purchased it years ago (which was sometime during either the first or second season of The Apprentice), I bought it as a gag gift for my then-husband. We both became hooked on that show because it was so hilarious and campy to watch. (This was a guy who was giving business advice on that show despite the fact that he had gone through multiple bankruptcies.) I figured that it was no big deal to buy a doll/action figure based on someone who was basically a buffoon but was essentially harmless as far as I was concerned. (Granted he wasn’t harmless to anyone who actually did business with him but to everyone else who had nothing to do with that guy, he was harmless.)

When my husband left me, he left the doll behind. It was no big deal because he was only 12 inches tall so I kept him among the other small dolls I own (such as Barbie, Volks Dollie Plus, Monster High and, Ever After High).

But then there was the initial flirtation of running for president back in 2011 and he did so by catering to the birthers who were questioning President Obama’s U.S. citizenship and contending that he was really born in Kenya. I felt that what he did was so reprehensible that I no longer could stand to watch his reality show after he decided against running and just continue with his reality TV career. I also began to ignore the doll. I would press the button in his back to hear him speak every now and then but I basically didn’t bother with it much.

When Trump decided to really run in the 2016 elections while saying horrible things that were racist, sexist, and anti-Islamic, I began to rue the day I actually bought that action figure as a gag gift. I finally decided to sell the doll on eBay because I just didn’t want it around my house anymore. I like dolls that make me feel happy and put me in a good mood and that Donald Trump action figure made me feel the opposite. I didn’t get a lot of money for the doll (I only had one bidder who was willing to pay the $20 minimum bid and I didn’t get that bid until the third and final week that I ran the auction) but I felt relieved to finally get it out of my house.

At least I’ll have these two videos to remember the doll by. The first is my “Trump” poem that I wrote for a local poetry reading event in 2011 and I later made a video featuring the Donald Trump doll. The other is my demonstration video of the Donald Trump doll that I made when I was preparing to sell it on eBay.

Now I’m going to switch gears a bit and talk some more about some other dolls that I have.

I recently came across this campaign on Instagram, known as #westandwithalldolls, where American Girl doll owners were urged to post pictures of their dolls (especially dolls of color) in solidarity with all women and minorities who are currently being maligned and even attacked by Donald Trump and his supporters. I chipped in with the cause by uploading pictures of my three American Girl dolls.

First, here’s Addy Walker holding a sign this quote from Martin Luther King.

“Again we have deluded ourselves into believing the myth that capitalism grew and prospered out of the Protestant ethic of hard work and sacrifice. The fact is that capitalism was built on the exploitation and suffering of black slaves and continues to thrive on the exploitation of the poor, both black and white, both here and abroad.”

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Here’s Ivy Ling holding a sign with this quote from Confucius.

“To put the world right in order, we must put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must first cultivate our personal life; we must first set our hearts right.”

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Even though the #westandwithalldolls campaign specifically requested that everyone post pictures of dolls of color, I decided to use my one white American Girl doll, Julie Albright, because I found this one quote from the late Frank Zappa that pretty much says it all about race relations, especially among whites who aren’t bigoted towards people of color or anyone else who’s different from them.

“Hey, you know something people? I’m not black. But there’s a whole lots of times I wish I could say I’m not white.”

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I got that quote from the lyrics to the song “Trouble Every Day,” whose video you can watch below.

Here’s one group photo of all three of my dolls with their signs.

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If you want to contribute to that Instagram campaign, or see all the photos that have been uploaded so far, check out the hashtag #westandwithalldolls.

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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Last week I alluded to the fact that I walked around the Tidal Basin amid the budding and blooming cherry blossoms because I was working on a project. Now you can see the results of that project. As some of you may know, last year I checked out this UK-based website called Makies where you can create your own avatar for free. (And you can create as many avatars as you want.) If you want to have a real-life version of any of your avatars, you can press a button online, pay via PayPal or a credit card, and—voila—you get a doll (or action figure) version of your avatar. The doll/action figure is created using the new 3D printer technology that has gotten plenty of attention in the media in recent months. So I tried it last year and I now have a cute blue-haired elf doll that I named Victoria.

I recently took Victoria with me to Washington, DC where I took photos of her among the various famous tourist attractions (including the cherry blossom trees in the Tidal Basin). I edited the photos when I got home and created a series of short photostories for this contest whose deadline was today. (Ironically it’s the same day as Tax Day. I had quite a week where I simultaneously worked on my both my contest entries and my own taxes while seeing my divorce become final. One day I’ll look back on all this and wonder how I managed to do it all without suffering a nervous breakdown. LOL!)

I had to download this app on my iPad called SlickFlick, which wasn’t so bad since it’s a free app. I downloaded the photos on my MacBook computer, did the initial editing in Photoshop, transferred them over to iPhoto, synched them over to iPad, imported them into SlickFlick where I added the captions, put the photos in a certain order, then uploaded them online. SlickFlick is easy to use. The only downside is that SlickFlick is very buggy and it crashed a few times on my iPad. There were other times when something happened during the uploading process and the photostory wasn’t posted so I had to re-upload it. (There was one story that I finally got online after four tries.) I think SlickFlick has potential but the app definitely needs more work.

I originally thought about doing one long photostory titled “Victoria Goes to Washington” but I ended up breaking the photostory down into shorter ones because it not only made the work easier (since I only dealt with one bite-sized piece at a time) but I was also dealing with a buggy app and it was easier to do shorter photostories with it.

You can view them online right now either through the SlickFlick app or, if you don’t have that app, you can simply click on the links below. The photostories could be read in any order since it’s more of a travelogue than a linear story.

Victoria Outside the National Theatre (Where it’s Currently Holding a Production of Monty Python’s Spamalot)

Victoria Outside the FBI Building

Victoria at the White House

Victoria at the Washington Monument

Victoria Climbing Around the Cherry Blossom Trees in the Tidal Basin

Victoria Viewing the Monuments at the Tidal Basin

I won’t find out about the contest outcome for a while but I’ll keep you posted, especially if I win anything.

UPDATE (April 15, 2013): I just went to this post on the Makies site and I found out that I didn’t win. Compared to what happened in Boston today, my loss in a contest seems totally insignificant.

UPDATE (January 16, 2017): One day I decided to visit my old photostories on SlickFlick.com for old time’s sake only to discover that the site doesn’t exist anymore. (I guess that means that the SlickFlick app doesn’t work anymore but I haven’t tried it mainly because I haven’t used it at all since I entered that Makies-sponsored contest back in 2013.) The good news is that I found my old photostories on the Internet Archive so I updated the links to reflect that.

Yesterday I made another attempt to check out the new Occupy movement that has sprung up all over the country that is actively challenging the status quo. Yesterday all of the various Occupy movements all over the world attempted to have a global day of resistance. In New York, this led to arrests as the protesters converged on Times Square. In Rome it was far worse—the protests turned violent.

The Occupy DC movement was pretty placid, peaceful, and drama-free compared to other cities. Maybe it was the fact that this weekend was also the formal dedication of the new Martin Luther King Memorial contributed to the peacefulness of Occupy DC. In any case, here is an appriopriate sign I encountered at McPherson Square.

MLK Sign, Occupy DC, October 15, 2011

It had been a week since my last visit to Occupy DC and there were a few noticeable changes—including the addition of tents and canopies. They became necessary after a couple of days of really nasty storms went through the DC area. When I arrived, I saw people who became really excited when someone arrived bearing dry socks.

Occupy DC Sign and Tents, October 15, 2011

Here is the kitchen where free meals are served to the protest participants. I tended to prefer buying my meals from nearby places like Così and the Corner Bakery because I feel that those who are actually sleeping in the park should get the free meals.

Kitchen, Occupy DC, October 15, 2011

There is a People’s Library where people can exchange their old books for free used books. The People’s Library has chairs set up next to it, which also serves as a lounge.

The People's Library, Occupy DC, October 15, 2011
The People's Library, Occupy DC, October 15, 2011
The People's Library, Occupy DC, October 15, 2011

Someone has even set up a children’s play area, which is pretty nice.

Children's Play Area, Occupy DC, October 15, 2011

Unlike last week, there is now a table and chairs where people can make new signs. I ended up not making any signs this week because that table was a bit crowded.

Occupy DC, October 15, 2011
Occupy DC, October 15, 2011
Occupy DC, October 15, 2011
Occupy DC, October 15, 2011
Occupy DC, October 15, 2011
Occupy DC, October 15, 2011
Occupy DC, October 15, 2011
Occupy DC, October 15, 2011
Occupy DC, October 15, 2011

A contingent of the Occupy DC group decided to head to the Mall to take park in a march led by the Rev. Al Sharpton commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous March on Washington where he gave his classic “I Have a Dream” speech. I attempted to walk from McPherson Square to the Mall but I never made it because of my stamina issues stemming from my recent surgery. I walked down Vermont Avenue and managed to walk past the White House and Lafayette Square. But then I glanced down E Street at Freedom Plaza and I remembered another encampment from another group and I decided to check that one out.

As I wrote in this blog on October 9, there was an incident where protesters attempted to enter the National Air and Space Museum because it had an exhibit on drone planes and the demonstrators were protesting the drone strikes used in the Middle East. Some of the demonstrators were maced and arrested. It later turned out that this protest was not staged by Occupy DC. It was staged by a different group called Stop the Machine, who is similar to Occupy DC except they focus more on anti-war issues while Occupy DC is focused more on economic issues. (There are people who are affiliated with both groups.) To make matters even more confusing, one of the protesters who got maced by a guard was really a right-wing agent provacateur who had infiltrated the Stop the Machine group in an effort to discredit both that group and Occupy DC.

In any case, Stop the Machine had planned their action months ago and it coincided with the quick rise of Occupy DC. Stop the Machine originally had a permit to take over Freedom Plaza for the first weekend in October only but they decided to stay on longer even though the Park Police wanted them gone. Stop the Machine and the Park Police managed to come up with a compromise where the group can stay at Freedom Plaza for an extra four months.

When I arrived at Freedom Plaza, I noticed that all of their tents were crammed together on one side of Freedom Plaza eventhough it’s a pretty big park. I don’t know if it is Stop the Machine’s doing or if the Park Police wanted them only on one crammed side. The tents are so crammed together that there is very little space between them.

Stop the Machine, Freedom Plaza, Washington, DC, October 15, 2011
Stop the Machine, Freedom Plaza, Washington, DC, October 15, 2011
Stop the Machine, Freedom Plaza, Washington, DC, October 15, 2011

These boots once belonged to soldiers who died on the battlefield somewhere in the Middle East over the last few years.

Stop the Machine, Freedom Plaza, Washington, DC, October 15, 2011
Stop the Machine, Freedom Plaza, Washington, DC, October 15, 2011
Stop the Machine, Freedom Plaza, Washington, DC, October 15, 2011
Stop the Machine, Freedom Plaza, Washington, DC, October 15, 2011
Stop the Machine, Freedom Plaza, Washington, DC, October 15, 2011

Having seen the encampments of both Occupy DC and Stop the Machine, I have to say that each area has its advantages and disadvantages. Occupy DC is in a location that has trees, which provides handy shade for those warm sunny days. Stop the Machine is in a treeless location and the sun can get really fierce when it shines on the concrete of Freedom Plaza.

The tents of Occupy DC are more spreaded out while the tents of Stop the Machine are more crammed together. There are restaurants near both locations but the aren’t as many affordable places (such as Così) near Stop the Machine’s location as in Occupy DC’s location.

Stop the Machine have porta potties near the tents which is convenient in case you have to go in the middle of the night. Occupy DC doesn’t have any porta potties at all, which means that people have to sneack into either Così, Starbucks, Potbelly’s, or the Corner Bakery for bathroom breaks. During business hours, it’s not so bad. The people at the restaurants are okay with the protesters using their restrooms as long as they purchase something from them. (I tend to purchase a soda and/or a cookie whenever I needed to go.) However, I don’t know what an Occupy DC person does if he/she needs to go in the middle of the night. It’s not always feasible to simply hold it in until the morning. Does the person wear disposable adult diapers for those times? Does the person sneak into an alley and urinate/defecate illegally? The mind wobbles at this, especially since I have never spent the night at the Occupy DC site and I won’t be able to do so anytime in the near future until I fully heal from my recent hip surgery.

After I checked out Freedom Plaza, I decided to head back to Organize DC. Rather than make the long walk back, I decided to take the Metro from Federal Triangle to McPherson Square. When I arrived, I saw that there was a teach-in on the Montgomery Bus Boycott that was led by a young man. I looked over at the people who gathered around the young man until I saw someone that made me do a double take. Among the onlookers was the Rev. Jesse Jackson. He was just standing there keeping a low profile while watching the teach-in. I pulled my smartphone out and took a couple of discreet photos of him and shot a short video clip. Plenty of other people who recognized him also took their own discreet photos with their cell phones, portable cameras, etc. (I didn’t see anyone get in his personal space or exhibit any kind of rude celebrity paparazzi behavior towards him.) I was still exhausted from my walk from McPherson Square to Freedom Plaza so I sat down in my portable chair while giving other people a chance to take their own discreet photos of Jesse Jackson. Once the teach-in ended, Jesse Jackson quickly left McPherson Square. I figured that he was in town for the MLK Memorial dedication and he probably had other things on his schedule related to the MLK events so he probably didn’t have much time to spend with the Occupy DC protesters.

Jesse Jackson at Occupy DC, McPherson Square, Washington, DC, October 15, 2011
Jesse Jackson at Occupy DC, McPherson Square, Washington, DC, October 15, 2011

After Jesse Jackson left, I ran into someone I knew. He used to work with my husband at NASA but he now works for a private corporation. He arrived at Occupy DC with his wife and daughter because his daughter wanted to check it out along with her friends, who were also there. Ironically my husband didn’t come with me because he said he had other things he needed to do. So he missed out on both reconnecting with an old friend and seeing Jesse Jackson in person. Oh well, it’s his loss and he’s going to have to deal with it.

I stayed long enough for the nightly General Assembly and I actually sat in on most of it. I was really impressed with how the meetings are run. Everyone was polite and they cooperated with the rules of the General Assembly.

General Assembly, Occupy DC, October 15, 2011
General Assembly, Occupy DC, October 15, 2011

Here is sunset at McPherson Square along with the arrival of the ducks. It’s pretty strange that the ducks arrive at McPherson Square late in the day because there is no fountain or pool or other water source in the park. I have no idea why McPherson Square is attractive to ducks at all because it’s all concrete and grass. During the General Assembly, I saw a near-miss collision when a duck was less than an inch away from accidentally landing on the head of a woman who was sitting on the ground in front of me. The duck diverted its course barely in time but not before barely clipping the woman’s head with its body.

Ducks at Sunset in McPherson Square, Washington, DC, October 15, 2011

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