The sweet, crafty joy of donut awesomeness

Or, is it Doughnuts? I say donuts, much easier to spell and text out.

Within the older downtown Portland (Oregon) area, there is Voodoo Doughnuts, an awesome and very well-known freshly-made donuts shop (and growing chain) in the west U.S. The lines are often long, but worth it.

It’s important that I stop here for every visit to the central Portland area. It’s central location is open 24 hours, and I will wait anytime.

Special note to locals and frequent visitors: I hear much about the Blue Star Donuts shops in the area. I will get around to that eventually, then report back. I swear!!!

For every visit, I go with a favorite and something new. On the left (see picture above) is the Mango Tango, a raised yeast shell filled with mango jelly and topped with vanilla and Tang frosting. On the right is a special only available until the end of March, The Hi Tea. That has some earl grey flavored frosting with hibiscus drizzle. Partial proceeds for the Hi Tea are donated to the National Alliance to End Homelessness.

Every bite leads to some finger-lickin thumbs up from me. There’s other great and tasty choices too. Here’s a sampling from the central location…

View this post on Instagram

#voodoodonuts #portland #donuts

A post shared by Orion T (@travelingorion) on

That’s all for now. If you have a favorite donut place, or just a favorite flavor… I would love to know in the comments below.

Orion T

Up and about Portland in wintertime

Within the wet winters of the Pacific Northwest, can be the best fresh air and beautiful blue skies. Gazing high, I see freshness and the gentle passing of new time, bringing light and hope to a world that can feel pretty dark sometimes.

Below, I enjoy the often quiet breaks after the bursts of wet, gloomy, rough weather. That goes double for me when out of my big city, and into a neighboring city. Because then, I find more of what I miss.

Recently, I was Portland (Oregon), enjoying some beautiful hours from the weekend. In the morning after a heavy night of heavy showers, I enjoy its calm feel under the bare trees, vintage architecture, setting upon its often quirky gluten-free option heavy atmosphere.

The streets seemed almost empty last Saturday morning, with fewer humans walking about. I stopped by one of the many food truck blocks, seeing them all mostly closed until after the noontime hits.

And you can walk around easy, aimlessly enjoy the open streets, hum a little song, because “Keep Portland Weird” is a community push. I had my usual destinations before my business to do here. I don’t come often, but I never forget my sense of direction through the the central downtown. I know all the main spots I love, especially the Courthouse Square, Cameron’s Books, Ground Kontrol Arcade, Voodoo Donuts, Multnomah County Central Library, a bunch of favorite quirky stores and restaurants through all over the city, and some great parks to let that fresh outside air sink through to the heart.

And, I can never forget Powell’s Books, a place I end up often spending an excessive amount of time indoors. It’s also here, where I easily forget how pleasant the outside is.

I will have to talk more about Powell’s Books, in a feature to its own someday. But for now, here is a picture that best represents me in the Portland moment.

– Orion T

PBS anchor Jim Lehrer, leaving a grand legacy for others to pick up

(Courtesy of PBS.org)

“Journalism is caring where the fire-engines are going.”

Jim Lehrer – novelist, playwright, and most noted..veteran news journalist, TV anchor, editor whose news career in journalism spanned over 50 years. Also, the co-founder of PBS Newshour TV program, and frequent presidential debate moderator. He won many awards, and to me, a prime example of journalism of how it’s meant in pure form, without the punditry and theatrics. He passed away on January 23, 2020 at age 85. 

But one important page of note, are Jim Lehrer’s NewsHour guidelines in 2009, as a standard for his show, and to inspire others who may follow:

I practice journalism in accordance with the following guidelines:
• Do nothing I cannot defend.
• Do not distort, lie, slant or hype.
• Do not falsify facts or make up quotes.
• Cover, write and present every story with the care I would want if the story
were about me.
• Assume there is at least one other side or version to every story.
• Assume the viewer is as smart and caring and good a person as I am.
• Assume the same about all people on whom I report.
• Assume everyone is innocent until proven guilty.
• Assume personal lives are a private matter until a legitimate turn in the
story mandates otherwise.
• Carefully separate opinion and analysis from straight news stories and
clearly label it as such.
• Do not use anonymous sources or blind quotes except on rare and
monumental occasions. No one should ever be allowed to attack another
anonymously.
• Do not broadcast profanity or the end result of violence unless it is an
integral and necessary part of the story and/or crucial to its understanding.
• Acknowledge that objectivity may be impossible but fairness never is.
• Journalists who are reckless with facts and reputations should be
disciplined by their employers.
• My viewers have a right to know what principles guide my work and the
process I use in their practice.
• I am not in the entertainment business.

Moving forward, that should be the legacy unforgotten, and looked at for many generations ahead in professional news journalism overall.

– Orion T

Today is Squirrel Appreciation Day!

Today is Squirrel Appreciation Day!

Yes, appreciate those rodents, all 280 different species of them. Appreciate their bushy tails, large eyes, cute smiles, quick tree-climbing ability. Appreciate the joy a squirrel brings to our local public parks and many gardens. Sometimes, they act as pest control agents at no charge, devouring insects. They can also tackle waste, by grabbing small food scraps left by stupid humans. They eat mushrooms, resulting in their waste from digestion resulting in new, much needed spores that help the ecosystem. They are also cute, and inspire resourcefulness and quite clever. Here is one in action…

But perhaps, the best reason to appreciate is their nut-burying behavior. They bury nuts, then often forget (or do they?!). The results are many more trees grown from those seeds within, which helps the world of humans in many ways.

So appreciate the squirrels of the world, give back and spread cheer to the little critters. Feed some natural nuts or seeds, if you can spare (avoid processed food). If you have a yard or a porch, add a squirrel feeder. Also, place a small tub of clean water nearby. And overall, let the squirrels be their natural, adorable selves.

– Orion T

The above pictures were taken deepen with Stanley Park, Vancouver BC, Canada. You are likely to cross path with some scavenging squirrels on Squirrel Trail, and Beaver Lake. You might even find some rare red or black ones.

The Sadly Gone Newsstand

Last Christmas Eve, I stopped by the world-famous Pike Place Market, to have a last look at a familiar staple of preserved atmosphere for 40 years within Downtown Seattle. There was the First and Pike News newsstand in all its glory, for over 40 years on the corner, ever welcoming and giving locals and tourists a deep look into Seattle culture in print, along with a very wide selection of magazines and reads from around the world.

First and Pike News closed on December 31st, 2019.

That part of the market hit me as a wonderful, nostalgic part of this city, that will likely never come back. Meanwhile, the local Barnes and Noble book store, with another large newsstand holding rows of magazines, recently closed on January 18th, 2020. Both closings add a sadness, of a declining city tradition that is the great multiple newspapers and magazine newsstand.

Both, doubly sad signs of that wholesome access to news and magazines in print, dwindling as not just from its outdated model of receiving ad revenues, but its lessening exposure in public places. More people are exponentially are drawn to new media with our Reddits, Facebooks, Twitters. Then battle it out with instant messages, notifications, invitations, interruptions, memes, all taking our attention to faster and shorter spans, as we frantically swipe through ad revenue life-streams, polluted with data mining, privacy-invading bots, mostly run by online conglomerates.

But for a moment, let’s take a look at the beauty that was a wholesome, plentiful newsstand, with its cheapo snacks, postcards, maps, other helpful things that would help both travelers and locals find their way. We then swipe those eyes on printed pages, keep us focused on just the words and images. Those were light, convenient, with no battery charge notice.

That is a beautiful view of colorful machine-bound printed paperworks.

To see a row of frequent prints, each and choice of topics tailor-made by a passionate and dedicated staff is a joy that I shall remember. The newsstand has the nostalgia of browsing and enjoyment of sampling through what’s worth paying. Also, as a light read for that day in the park or evening on a porch. Some places give a little more like snacks and maps. The sadly gone First and Pike News stand offered many more delights and souvenirs for the passing tourists.

Now, that thrill left this part of Seattle. But maybe, you might know of some newsstands in your area. Stop by, browse and appreciate the joy of printed media, formatted for your full attention. Buy some papers and cheap stuff, and smile to the seller. Every little bit of support helps, and maybe keep that wholesome bit of honest joy a part of your neighborhood for more days ahead.

Orion T

Snowcapped in Seattle…

Meanwhile, there is some snow here in the Emerald City, for about three days now.

But, feeling it depends on the area. In the eastern regions of Bellevue to and through the mountains, there is a white winter wonderland now. The northern areas have heavy patches as well. Closer to downtown, not so much, as I notice remains on the rooftops, cars, some around trees. I am not impressed so far…

But, I do appreciate the what the snowfall leaves to the cityscapes. They bring peaceful chill and serenity throughout. I walk and let it sink in, wishing for a little more.

Orion T

The above pic is taken at the Cultural Landscape Foundation in Freeway Park. This is a place that is wonderful, every day of the year. But the snow changes, makes this view a different special.

Rocking along Swami’s Beach in Southern California

I love them California beaches, from south of San Diego to the north of Crescent City. I’ve explored a good many, appreciating for each stretch of sand locale feels a little different and unique in some special way.

Being away from those beaches for too long, I miss that exploration, and rediscovery. I miss the freedom, and escape that California beaches often provide, and knowing what’s special about each.

Thus, I feel the love again in my periodic return to southern California. For my last trip, though I did something different in escaping the old, yet still familiar areas of San Diego, and Los Angeles/Orange County regions that sometime feel stuck with for too short the time.

So, I shared an nice adventure with an old, very dear friend who drove me to the in-between town area of Encinitas (northest San Diego County). We first enjoying some great Mexican food (huge shout out to the La Especial Norte restaurant, with my highest recommendation for hungry people there). Then, checked out a beach area, less familiar with and not been.

After a short drive, and a walk down to an opening between the nearby cliffs, and I found a pleasant little beach land, known as Swami’s Beach…

This first appears as a little beach, with very limited access through its north end via small open area. But then, walk down the sands a little further, around some crooked cliffs, and there you will see, much more coast with exploring by foot to be done.

But first, who is the Swami, you might ask… That would be Swami Paramahansa Yogananda, and you should check out his Wikipedia page. He stayed in Encintas for some time, at his Self-Realization Fellowship ashram nearby upon a cliff, built in 1937. The beach was eventually named after him unofficially by the surfer community, as his presence became well known, and respected. Much of that known beach, still public, was considered part of the long stretch, further down to San Elijo State Beach (another beach on my list to check out someday).

So, walking down, I noticed right away those wonderful waves of the San Diego shore, which were calming down after the high tide earlier. But still mighty for the surfers here to appreciate during our visit. It’s everything I still love about best about these slightly out of town shore spots. Plenty of room for free-minded people to bond with the waves, dig deep into the sand, led the oceanic breeze brush your face.

But what makes Swami’s Beach memorable and special? There’s much to admire here. At first, its the coziness and peaceful seclusion below the high cliffs (when the high tide is gone). Then, you would notice the many small rocks upon the shore.

These beautiful pebbles, are many and embedded against the waves, scatter, leaving a natural decoration upon the sand for some parts…

Then going forth, there are more rocks…

And then more,

And then, you just have to stop and admire, see what your shoes are stumbling over as you look down. I love these colors together.

These rocks are plenty enough feature to take in for now. I have much more to share, and they deserve another post. For that, I will be back with more on Swami’s Beach.

Orion T

The realization of long life, according to Jonathan Seagull

“Jonathan Seagull discovered that boredom and fear and anger are the reasons that a gull’s life is so short, and with those gone from his thought, he lived a long fine life indeed.”

― Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull

That moment above was taken atop a tide pool at Swami’s Beach in Encinitas (North San Diego County) California. That was one of many great things about that area, which I must share of, soon.

Orion T

Return to Little Tokyo

One of favorite places to visit in the central Los Angeles is within its historic district of Little Tokyo.

Little Tokyo is the cultural hub and concentration of Japanese culture, accelerated by the settling of Japanese immigrants in the late 19th century. Much of this was due to increased labor needed, resulting from the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 barring Chinese laborers. Little Tokyo grew from the opening of the Kame Restaurant on East First Street in 1885, which attracted many immigrants to the area, and eventually settled.

Through tough times, the area thrived until World War II, with Japan then at war with the US. This led to the signing of Executive Order 9066, where a mass relocation and confiscation of property of Japanese immigrants across the U.S West Coast would devastate the local community. The area was nearly lost to the Japanese business owners. Eventually, the war ended, and the Japanese community would slowly regain their lost area, growing Little Tokyo through the decades once again to the wonderful cultural spot it is now.

The Japanese Village Plaza

I gained a heartfelt love for Japanese culture, growing up near San Francisco’s Japantown in my teenage years. I enjoyed its history, food, and unique architecture. And with that and foremost, its stylized art then known to me as Japanimation (and later anime, and manga in printed form) applied to visual media in all forms.

Eventually living in South California, I would visit Little Tokyo often with friend of my college anime club, spending many hours going through shops, eating its specialized food, visiting art museums, and feeling further ingrained to its unique and awesome culture. This area, I would greatly miss as I left my old life in Southern California over 10 years ago.

Coming back, I was happy to see it all still very vibrant with all the crazy silly things that I grew to love about Japanese culture since my youth. Here are some recent pictures more reminiscent of that childhood part…

It’s thriving now, far more than I recall in my many visits over a decade ago. There are definitively more more businesses of Japanese influence here. The central area seems cleaner as well, with fresher paint and better details than I recall before. Pretty much all my favorite stores were still there, and packed. The anime/manga influence is also vibrant, with the Jungle Hoppy Shop store being my favorite and doubled in size now.

I also noticed a plentiful choice of Japanese restaurants, with a variety of specialties and appeal. Some showed their pride in preparation of eats, to public eyes, which I would enjoyed a moment in watch…

I would remain in Little Tokyo for only a couple hours with an old college friend, reminiscing of our time spent in this wonderful district. For lunch, we picked upon Daikokuya, a popular rice and ramen-noodle restaurant in the area. There was a 45-minute wait to this small, yet very cozy place. Eventually, the wait was worth it, and I enjoyed their prized Daikaku Ramen bowl and some takoyaki (octopus balls)…YUM!

An overall, I will surely return to Little Tokyo, again and again. You should too.

– Orion T

Just sharing some comic books today…

This following is for sequential art lovers, and those who appreciate a good list.

I read a lot in my spare time, and always interested in good fresh stuff. And, I really love comic books, for at least 30 years now. The above pic is a small, very unorganized portion of my comic volumes and graphic novel shelf. These day, I am not much of a comic book collector however, as my supply of single monthly issues have been drastically reduced to a couple short boxes of treasured stuff. Maybe, I will share some of those gems someday for another posting. Meanwhile, I just read while adding the best reads and interesting finds in mostly wide release book form, to my shelf.

So, at strangerworlds.com (a site I sometimes manage), I recently posted a list of my favorite comic book series reads of the 2010s decade. Click and read the link here! You might find something worth checking out. And, I would love to know your best comic reads of the last decade too!

Orion T

A small bit of Downtown Los Angeles art…

I spent some hours in Downtown Los Angeles last week, sadly with two little time to explore much of this grand area.

In the past, I would check out the many awesome murals there, and explore its art galleries. This time not, as I there for other meetings, then moving on to my next destination before the sunfall. Yet, with about 15 minutes to spare, I checked out a couple large murals by the Pico public rail station.

The one from the pic above is byFabio Lopez, who goes by his street artist name Dourone, a Spanish artist from Madrid, Spain. His artwork is featured on many walls around the world, each with a different message and unique vision. Check out more his work via instagram @duourone and on his official site dourone.com

Here below is another mural, in beautiful color giving love to the Clippers and its star player, Kawhi Leonard. The surrounding is a mix of positive messages and imagery that matches the vibe of this colorful city. I could not find any info on the artist.

And that was all for my mural gazing in the downtown area for now. I shall return eventually, and hopefully have more time for urban exploring and other grand mural finds.

– Orion T

Happy New Year Blues for 2020

So, here I am late again, posting not quite timely. I lost track of time again, not quite looking back or forward. I am here, for each day trying to enjoy some moments when possible.

That’s how I left the previous year and decade, going back to how I began both, by escaping and walking distant ground, collecting my thoughts into sustainable moments of bliss. This time, to my old areas of southern California, to spend time with friends and family.

But finally, the New Year sharing part sinks in, and it’s eventually time to share in that joy, days later. Here was the glory of the first day of my new decade, upon a quite beach that is often used as a backdrop for Miami, Florida in various movies and TV shows. Here the long beach that is upon Long Beach, California.

I walked the first hours of daylight for 2020 late and midday slightly hungover from the Eve before. I embraced the warmish weather (compared to Seattle) healing, walking the local shore. The beach felt soft to my sandals with a lovely gentle breeze highlighted by a fresh blue sky, trying to ignore the bits of trash piled up from the recent firework festivities. I did well to resist the allure of social media and constant messages lighting my pocket sleeve, all Happy New Year or whatever. Rather, I stare into the calm of the larger world offered to me, and it looks back to me.

Very pleasant. This steadied for about 2 hours, taking my sweet time to stop and admire this simple moment. Occasionally, I would cross path with another human. We would smile for a moment, say a Happy New Year greeting, then move on in opposite direction. Sometimes, I would rest on the sand, occasionally taking out my notepad to scribble some thoughts and ideas in preservation of later creative productivity.

There was more to the day, of which I will share soon. And, more to this California trip, and more to the last decade and into this one. I have much fresh content, that I wish to share. But, choices were made towards giving myself time to unplug and rethink my life direction and not treat my writings and content sharing like chores. The timing is off, but the wait to those who share in my joys will find such late belated things to be timeless and worth celebrating on any day. I will post some more good stuff, soon.

Meanwhile, Happy New Year to all.

Orion T