Goodbye Forever, 2021…

What a year, that 2021!

It was just a weird, bothering time around the Sun. Early on, the January 6th attack on the Capitol felt very surreal. The pandemic still lingers on, ending with the rise of the Omicron variant. Anti-vaxxing movements have become mainstream. Supply chains involving mass cargo on boats have slowed down drastically. There’s still some computer chip shortage. Workplaces are in need of new workers, but a lot not wanting to return to a being underpaid and treated poorly (I am among them). Seattle received some record heat weather at around 108 degrees Fahrenheit, while having two crazy snowfalls in opposite winter seasons. Lots of brutal weather around the world, probably from climate change. Crypto currency is a super crazy thing people are into now. NFTs are huge, and the less you know about them, the better…unless you are super into them. Inflation is wacky. There is so much that we could have done without, but made the year interesting.

I’ve also been very busy with a lot of personal baggage while dealing with a mid-life crisis. There’s a lot of ups and downs, but I do my best to keep going and always find new things to smile about. Sometimes, that’s with friends new and old, in person or online. There’s a lot of mental health concerns among us. But, there’s good stuff. I have new, bigger apartment. I cook a lot more. I have an exciting project that I have been spending a lot of time on, and will hopefully reveal with satisfiable progress in the coming months ahead.

I also adopted Smokey, a 3 yr old rescue cat from Seattle Humane animal shelter.

How cute is Smokey? She demands a lot of attention sometimes, usually when I am on my computer. I have much to write on the challenges of cat ownership, which I will eventually share.

Here are some other fun things and notes that I loved about 2021:

  • Favorite full movie released in 2021 – The Suicide Squad, directed by James Gunn
  • Favorite animated movie released in 2021 – Klaus (on Netflix)
  • Favorite documentary released in 2021 – Life in Color with David Attenborough
  • Favorite standalone streaming TV series released in 2021 – WandaVision (on Disney+)
  • Favorite continuous or new streaming TV series in 2021 – Chucky (The TV series)
  • Best satire of 2021 – Don’t Look Up (movie on Netflix)
  • Best dumb pop culture trend of 2021 – Squid Game
  • Favorite short audio stories and narratives – NPR’s This American Life
  • Favorite YouTube channel of 2021 – Casually Comics, a look at comics past and present, with very fun commentary
  • Best music album of 2021 – Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & The London Symphony Orchestra – Promises
  • Favorite movie soundtrack vocal of 2021 – Billie Eilish – No Time To Die (For the James Bond: No Time to Die)
  • Favorite fiction book I read in 2021 – Crossings by Alex Landragin (came in 2019, but I really liked it)
  • Favorite non-fiction book I read in 2021 – Black Journalists, White Media by Pamela Newkirk (2020 released)
  • Favorite graphic novel of 2021 – The Body Factory by Heloise Chochois
  • Favorite comic book series of 2021 – Stray Dogs by Tony Fleecs and Trish Forstner
  • Favorite video game I played in 2021 – Yakuza: Like a Dragon
  • Favorite wrestling match of 2021 – Bryan Danielson vs Minoru Suzuki – AEW Buy In Event
  • Favorite food dish made in 2021 – Alton Brown’s Macaroni and Cheese, but modified with extra sharp white cheddar instead
  • Favorite hike of 2021 – Rattlesnake Lake Trail during the summer
  • Favorite city I never been to before in 2021 – Bellingham, Washington
  • Favorite local development in 2021 – The expansion of the Light Rail in Seattle to the Northgate area
  • Favorite park of 2021 – Ravenna Park
  • Favorite new food snack discovery of 2021 – Japanese import KitKats bars in obscure flavors

There’s more I likely missed. Yet, I think the above sums up my year well. Now, I must join friends online for the final hours of 2021. Stay safe and look forward to 2022!!

Orion T

Snowing up high at 2,726 ft through Snoqualmie Pass

Snoqualmie Pass did not disappoint with snow over the recent Christmas weekend.

This popular Washington State mountainous area was a treat to help make up for a very quiet and otherwise dulled outlook to this holiday season peak. A spontaneous adventure was due, traveling with an old friend who worked in the area. With no New Years plans, ruined by the rising Omicron, I needed this. I never been to the Snoqualmie Pass, therefore it interests me, especially with its famed winter snowfall.

Snoqualmie Pass is a mountain passage in the Cascade Range deep in the Snoqualmie Forest, west of the Snoqualmie Valley, with an elevation of 2,726 ft (831 m). The area is named after the local indigenous Native American tribe, part of the Coast Salish peoples of the Pacific Northwest. Snoqualmie Pass was well-known and utilized by indigenous natives long before U.S settlers set foot in the early 19th century. Over time, the area was planned for a large railroad line expansion, then eventually abandoned.

The Interstate 90 is now the main highway in and out of the area, and 54 miles east of Seattle. The famed Pacific Crest Trail also crosses through the area, a long hiking route that stresses far to the south through California, almost to the Mexico border. The Snoqualmie Pass remains small, but very significant in the Pacific Northwest with a very small population, 311 according to the 2010 U.S. census. The main draw for tourists is now the cluster of four ski areas with resorts stationed throughout: Alpental, Summit West, Summit Central, and Summit East.

After a serene and slow morning drive (about an hour and a half from Seattle), I set foot on some deep and plentiful snow. There was little purpose after, other than to escape the stressful city and explore the snowy landscapes a little, work on a writing project while my driver friend does some skiing. I did some observations of skiing sport and local activity, thinking of future plans to return and gain more from the area. Someday, I would like to partake in the sport of skiing and also do some snowshoe hiking.

Here are some pics, with notes!

This snow is deep and high there, so watch your step! Roughly 3 inches of snow were added overnight. By Monday, 44 inches fell, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation,

The lifts at the Summit at Snoqualmie, early in the morning during a light snowpour. Activity greatly rose around the noontime, for where I was inside sipping on local beer and working on a project.

The view from outside the window. Many large icicles to accompany the weather high of 30 degrees, low of 21 degrees.
Skiing looks difficult, challenging, yet fun. My friend gave me some pointers to think about, regarding balance and momentum.
I will eventually buy some good snowshoes, find some safe hiking terrains, and have some awesome winter wonderland hikes.
No sun in sight that day. The snow coming down was constant, yet not too enduring.
The roads are maintained very well here, but still must be careful and slow when driving through.
That’s me, Traveling Orion!

Well, that’s all for now. But, I will definitely return to the Snoqualmie Pass, hopefully with ski gear!

– Orion T

Some leftover Christmas weekend cheers, with surprise snow

I hope you (yes, you!) had a wonderful, warm, and safe Christmas weekend.

I did, though I would have preferred a more traditional day with many friends and family. The pandemic and rising Omicron variant have put a severe damper on that prospect. Still, thanks to the wonders of modern technology with the video conferencing and cellphones, had a lot of heartwarming talks and goofy discussions of the Matrix Resurrections movie (mini-review at the end).

Through the day of Christmas Eve, I went on a small road trip to the Snoqualmie Pass in the mid Washington State mountain region. The snowpack did not disappoint, with about 11 inches fallen in that last 72 hours. I have never been there before, as I wanted at least one small adventure for this Holiday season. So I enjoyed my time, and will write more on it soon.

On Christmas, I spent much of the day alone in my apartment with my cat, Smokey, who was extra cuddly that day. Some friends online could not visit their families that day, citing a lack of vaccination at the dinner tables. So for much of the day, we spent smiling, chatting, updated on our lives though our webcams and microphones. With that exchanging fun video bits from YouTube, and played some Jackbox.tv games online (Quiplash, Drawful 2).

And, I got to share this hilarious comedy sketch from the BBC of a Nativity production gone horribly wrong. Lots of fun, and very clever near the end.

And then the next day, we got Snowpacalypse in Seattle 2, Holiday Boogaloo!!! Lots of snowfall happened overnight and through the day. Of course, I took a long walk. This time, to somewhere different and visual stunning. I have many pictures, of which I will sort out later and share soon. The location, I will keep hidden for now.

Here are some snow pics in the meantime, from Seattle downtown and somewhere in the north of Seattle.

That’s all for now. Stay warm, safe, and cheerful out there!

– Orion T

Bonus movie review: Matrix Resurrections is a reminder that truly creative work owes us nothing, leaving more room for appreciation to be given. I had a lot more typed about that, but then it ‘s more than what I wrote above. Maybe, I will share more on this later. It’s still a great movie for it’s meta-humor, original themes reexplored, and multi-layered relationships. But, the viewer needs to free their mind of what to expect or want, and what may not be given.

Warming up for a s’more good time

Who thought of the simple, timeless recipe that for s’mores?

For those unfamiliar, s’mores are a simple stack of of two graham crackers, with a freshly roasted marshmallow and chocolate bar part in between. It’s all best enjoyed with the company of others partaking in the roasting and messy consumption.

Here is some history on s’mores, found on Wikipedia:

S’more is a contraction of the phrase “some more”. S’mores appeared in a cookbook in the early 1920s, where it was called a “Graham Cracker Sandwich”. The text indicates that the treat was already popular with both Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. In 1927, a recipe for “Some More” was published in Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts.

The contracted term “s’mores” appears in conjunction with the recipe in a 1938 publication aimed at summer camps. A 1956 recipe uses the name “S’Mores”, and lists the ingredients as “a sandwich of two graham crackers, toasted marshmallow and 1⁄2 chocolate bar”. A 1957 Betty Crocker cookbook contains a similar recipe under the name of “s’mores”.

The 1958 publication Intramural and Recreational Sports for High School and College makes reference to “marshmallow toasts” and “s’mores hikes” as does its related predecessor, Intramural and Recreational Sports for Men and Women, published in 1949.

For many years since, s’mores remain an awesome and very inexpensive treat for the coldest of days, very easy to prepare with little mess, except on the fingers.

It’s been too long and before the ongoing pandemic since I roasted a marshmallow above an open fire, prepping for this epic treat. And then yesterday on Friday, I did. Roasting the marshmallow is an authentic necessity for perfect s’mores. Such activity brought special joy, making the smores thereafter, all the more enjoyable.

This, was part of a local event in downtown Seattle event at Freeway Park. There was also cake decorating, caroling, other fun things going on in the early evening there. All was much fun, though I couldn’t stick around for too long. I had dinner plans soon after the s’more and some chatting, and then a movie theater seat for Spider-Man: No Way Home.

Anyway, love the s’mores as the yummiest part of an awesome night, as I should make time in the near future for some more.

Orion T

I want to give a huge thanks and shoutout to Valerie for tagging me to the event on Facebook. Valerie is a local historian who posts up some fascinating bits on Seattle history at wedgwoodinseattlehistory.com…highly recommended and worth following via WordPress!

Bonus movie review: Spider-Man: No Way Home is super fun, and a special fan service to those familiar with the last two decades of Spider-Man and Marvel films. For those not, probably an odd and confusing experience. This is a film that knows its audience, and caters heavily with action, humor, and some very emotional bits. Two thwips up!!