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Passover

The day after St. Patrick’s Day I helped a friend of mine with his booth at the annual Maker Faire NoVa that was held at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. I had attended previous STEM Maker events in Greenbelt, Silver Spring, and Washington, DC but it’s the first time I ever checked the Northern Virginia one. I have to admit that this event was the largest event of its kind that I had ever attended. To give you an idea as to how big it was, here’s a video I shot of this event.

And now it’s time for the still photos. I knew I had come to the right place when I saw this statue of George Mason (whom the university is named after) all dressed up for the occasion.

Maker Faire NoVa

Maker Faire NoVa

Maker Faire NoVa

These signs were further giveaways that I was at the right place.

Maker Faire NoVa

Maker Faire NoVa

The reason why I was there was that I was helping a friend of mine with his table. His name is Phil Shapiro and he frequently hangs out on YouTube and Twitter. He wanted to demonstrate Inkscape, which is the free open source alternative to Adobe Illustrator. He brought a couple of Linux laptops that he made available for people to use. At the last minute he decided to have one of those laptops run Tux Paint, which is a free open source graphics program that is made for kids under 7, which turned out to be a good move because a lot of visitors were kids. The kids seemed to really like Tux Paint so it was all good. In any case, here is what the sign looked like.

Maker Faire NoVa

Here are a few shots of the table that I took before Maker Faire NoVa opened to the general public.

Maker Faire NoVa

Maker Faire NoVa

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Maker Faire NoVa

Here’s Phil Shapiro at one of the laptops setting everything up before the show began.

Maker Faire NoVa

And here’s Phil showing off the two laptops with Inkscape and Tux Paint to the general public.

Maker Faire NoVa

Maker Faire NoVa

Maker Faire NoVa

One of the many kids tried his hand at drawing with Tux Paint.

Maker Faire NoVa

Near our table was one that was manned by Bob Coggeshall, who’s famous in the Unix world for inventing the Unix command sudo.

Maker Faire NoVa

Maker Faire NoVa

There were all kinds of projects that were run off of Raspberry Pi, such as this vintage teletype.

Maker Faire NoVa

There were also all kinds of 3D printed projects that looked amazing.

Maker Faire NoVa

Maker Faire NoVa

Maker Faire NoVa

Maker Faire NoVa

There was a refurbished gumball machine that dispensed 3D printed charms for only 50 cents.

Maker Faire NoVa

It was at that gumball machine where I made my one and only purchase from Maker Faire NoVa: A tiny 1-inch printed 3D printed Darth Vader who’s seated like a Buddha. I only paid 50 cents for this cool item.

Maker Faire NoVa, March 18, 2018

There were also some vintage bikes that the public can ride.

Maker Faire NoVa

Maker Faire NoVa

It was at Maker Faire NoVa where I got my first-ever real life glimpse of a Bitcoin mining machine.

Maker Faire NoVa

It was also at Maker Faire NoVa where I got my first glimpse of American Girl’s 2018 Girl of the Year doll. Her name is Luciana Vega, she’s into STEM and her big ambition is to be the first person to explore Mars.

Maker Faire NoVa

This boy was showing his work in progress on his latest project. He was in the process of building his own BB-8 robot from the Star Wars movies.

Maker Faire NoVa

Maker Faire NoVa

There was just a variety of things I saw at Maker Faire NoVa that were simply astounding.

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George Mason University’s Fairfax campus is pretty big. In fact, I think it may be as big as my own alma mater (University of Maryland at College Park). I briefly went through the campus Barnes & Noble store, which had copies of Michael Wolff’s controversial bestseller about Donald Trump’s first year in the White House called Fire & Fury.

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I really had a blast at Maker Faire NoVa. It helped that the weather was in the 50’s that day so I was able to wear a light jacket instead of my heavy winter coat for a change. I even saw my first robin of the year while I was walking around outside going from building to building while checking out the event. (The entire event was spread over four buildings.) Sadly that warm weather was a short-lived thing because the weather turned really cold and rainy the next day followed by a snowstorm.

The only downside about that event is that for about a couple of days before that event I started to have stuffed sinuses. By the time of that event my throat felt more scratchy as I talked more and more with the general public while I worked at Phil’s booth. My legs had grown stiff and sore by the end of the day due to the huge amount of walking and standing I did throughout the day. The following day I felt extremely tired and sick. I ended up spending most of the next week sleeping (with the exception of the couple of times I went out in the snow where I did some shoveling two days after Maker Faire NoVa). I even ended up skipping the big March for Our Lives on the following Saturday due to being sick. But the video, photos, and fond memories from Maker Faire NoVa made it all worthwhile.

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Since the winter holiday shopping season has officially started three days ago, I’d thought I’d post pictures of stuff I’ve seen lately on the store shelves. I took these photos mainly to show some of my friends on social media who would be especially interested in these products.

First, here are some photos I shot at Target over the past month or so. Target is selling the 3Doodler along with the DoodleBlock Kit.

Target, October-November, 2017

Target, October-November, 2017

Target has a LEGO aisle filled with all kinds of LEGO kits for all ages.

Target, October-November, 2017

Last year American Girl came out with a line of multiracial 14 inch dolls known as Wellie Wishers, which cost $60 each. Target is now selling a line of multiracial 14 inch dolls known as Glitter Girls for $20 each.

Target, October-November, 2017

Target, October-November, 2017

Target also sells a line of 3-foot tall dolls based on various Disney characters.

Target, October-November, 2017

You know Christmas is coming soon when you start seeing special gingerbread spice cereal like this.

Target, October-November, 2017

Target has been selling a line of STEM toys, kits, and games for makers of all ages. You can now make a variety of things including LEGO stop-motion animation, piñatas, video games, drones, Raspberry Pi computers, and more. Below are just a few of them.

Target, October-November, 2017

Target, October-November, 2017

Target, October-November, 2017

Target, October-November, 2017

Target, October-November, 2017

Target, October-November, 2017

Target, October-November, 2017

Target, October-November, 2017

Target, October-November, 2017

Target, October-November, 2017

Target, October-November, 2017

Target, October-November, 2017

Target, October-November, 2017

Target, October-November, 2017

Target, October-November, 2017

This is probably the most unique and off-beat product I found at Target: A Funko Pop! vinyl toy based on the late painter and television show host Bob Ross.

Target, October-November, 2017

I also found some Hot Wheels toy cars that seemed to be made with Baby Boomers in mind. How else can you explain cars based on The Beatles’ film A Hard Day’s Night and Mad magazine.

What I Found at Target Today

What I Found at Target Today

What I Found at Target Today

What I Found at Target Today

Recently a new Guitar Center store opened up in Laurel, Maryland so I decided to check it out.

Coco Guitars

I saw these special edition Cordoba acoustic guitars for adults and children that are tie-in products to the Disney/Pixar movie Coco, which was recently released. (I haven’t seen it yet. All I know that it’s based on the Mexican El Día de los Muertos/Day of the Dead holiday, which happened earlier this month, and which also explains the skull motif on these guitars.)

Coco Guitars

Coco Guitars

Coco Guitars

Last, but not least, are a few of the photos I took when I made my last trip to a local Five Below store.

What I Found at Five Below Recently

What I Found at Five Below Recently

What I Found at Five Below Recently

What I Found at Five Below Recently

What I Found at Five Below Recently

What I Found at Five Below Recently

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What I Found at Five Below Recently

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The week prior to Easter Sunday was an event held at Makerspace 125 known as Member Week. The STEM center was opened to the general public in an effort to get more members to join the makerspace, which had recently converted into a member-owned cooperative. While I was there a couple of nights that week, I only took pictures on Thursday, April 13, 2017, when there was a demonstration of the various electronics that the makerspace hopes to run workshops on in the future, including open source devices like Arduino and Raspberry Pi.

The decoration of the outside of Makerspace 125 was well underway that night but it was still a work in progress when I took these pictures.

Members Week at Makerspace 125

Members Week at Makerspace 125

Here is the electronics demonstration itself.

Members Week at Makerspace 125

Members Week at Makerspace 125

Members Week at Makerspace 125

Members Week at Makerspace 125

Members Week at Makerspace 125

Members Week at Makerspace 125

Member Week at Makerspace 125 ended with the 2017 Greenbelt Maker Festival, which was held on the day before Easter Sunday.

I went to the fourth annual Silver Spring Maker Faire. I’ve gone to the three previous Maker Faires but all those other years I had to cut my visit short due to a meeting or something similar. This year was the first year where I didn’t have anything else scheduled or other things that I needed to do that day so I could just leisurely tour the Maker Faire at my own pace.

Across the street from Veterans Plaza, where the Maker Faire was held, a group of Hare Krishnas were doing their chanting and proselytizing outside of a Chick-fil-A of all places. (It’s convenient for the Hare Krishnas that Chick-fil-A is closed on Sundays because, otherwise, the fast food chain’s Fundamentalist Christian owners would literally have a cow over this. LOL!)

2016 Silver Spring Maker Faire

2016 Silver Spring Maker Faire

I eventually dodged the Hare Krishnas and made my way to the Maker Faire, where I took these pictures.

2016 Silver Spring Maker Faire

2016 Silver Spring Maker Faire

2016 Silver Spring Maker Faire

2016 Silver Spring Maker Faire

2016 Silver Spring Maker Faire

2016 Silver Spring Maker Faire

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2016 Silver Spring Maker Faire

2016 Silver Spring Maker Faire

2016 Silver Spring Maker Faire

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2016 Silver Spring Maker Faire

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2016 Silver Spring Maker Faire

2016 Silver Spring Maker Faire

2016 Silver Spring Maker Faire

2016 Silver Spring Maker Faire

2016 Silver Spring Maker Faire

2016 Silver Spring Maker Faire

2016 Silver Spring Maker Faire

2016 Silver Spring Maker Faire

2016 Silver Spring Maker Faire

2016 Silver Spring Maker Faire

2016 Silver Spring Maker Faire

2016 Silver Spring Maker Faire

2016 Silver Spring Maker Faire

2016 Silver Spring Maker Faire

2016 Silver Spring Maker Faire

2016 Silver Spring Maker Faire

2016 Silver Spring Maker Faire

2016 Silver Spring Maker Faire

2016 Silver Spring Maker Faire

2016 Silver Spring Maker Faire

2016 Silver Spring Maker Faire

2016 Silver Spring Maker Faire

2016 Silver Spring Maker Faire

2016 Silver Spring Maker Faire

2016 Silver Spring Maker Faire

2016 Silver Spring Maker Faire

2016 Silver Spring Maker Faire

2016 Silver Spring Maker Faire

I also shot a short video showing some of the exhibits that were either moving or making sounds.

All in all it was a great event on a very beautiful day in weather that was warm but not too hot and the humidity was low. I enjoyed myself.

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