A problem of all sorts of different angles…

“We think that we can fix our lives by taking some simple step, but it’s not like that. Most problems need lots of sticking plasters. They need coaxing and massaging and looking at from all sorts of different angles.”

― writer Alexander McCall Smith, The Quiet Side of Passion

The picture is saved from way back at the beginning of 2020, during my visit to Swami’s Beach in Encinitas (North San Diego County) California. I stumbled upon this pic an hour ago, and felt it should be shared, though I had little context. I know little else about this stairway, just that it’s unsafe and off-limits to visitors at the time. It still deserves a nice metaphorical quote, at least.


Foggy Seattle Weather Predictions

The good news is that Seattle is back to normal…with the weather.

Unpredictable, beautiful in own way through every condition. The other day it was sunny, but with low level fog giving moments of surreal blue haze. The next day, a spooky fog through the day, hiding the Space Needle from viewers afar. Then the next day, we got some needed rain.

The forecast today will be partly cloudy, partly sunny, higher humidity, maybe rain. We will see. For those living local and around, enjoy the moment when the Seattle weather can just be itself.

– Orion T

Plain of a Peaceful Paradise

A moment to admire from a month ago, among friends at the Maury Island Marine Park, part of Maury Island, part of Vashon Island (depending on one’s perspective), part of the greater Seattle area in Washington State.

Before me stands the Point Robinson Lighthouse, a small beacon of light for foggy and dank nighttime conditions since 1885 (automated since 1978). Bit its doors remain closed most of the time. Other times, you might be able to enter, maybe get a tour. More info at vashonparks.org.

I love lighthouses. I intend to visit more of these eventually, and share in experience.

Before that structure, you’ll notice much dead wood mixed in the wild grass, probably washed up on short, or left behind from a past operation. I do not really know. But such is a beautiful sight to see much so scattered, enjoying its long life, relaxed on the beach, with the company of playful feet at times.

The waters are quiet, with few boats. Along the shore, there are plenty of rocks mixed with slippery moss and hints of passing life. Walk further then the rocks, and you are either wet or among the trees and grass of this medium-sized local park. The choice is yours.

This place is peaceful, and I love the moment where I am part. You should come when given the chance, and love your moment too.

Orion T

The surreal life of a frog

Frogs are weird.

Did you know that frogs don’t drink water? They soak it through their skin.

Or know that a frog can shred a layer of skin about once a week? The old dead skin is not wasted. The frog usually eats it.

Did you know that most frogs have teeth? Frog teeth are located in the upper jaw, which are used to hold its prey before swallowing it whole. Prey depends on the size of the frog, from insects to pocket-sized animals.

There are over 5,000 species of frog. The study of frogs is called Herpetologists.

A group of frogs is called an army.

Ranidaphobia is the fear of frogs.

Some people also have frogs as pets!

Frogs are a huge part of pop culture for every generation. Frogs are very everywhere in books, games, movies; as princes, mascots, obscure B movies, lots of mythological references. I love Kermit the Frog, who I see as the best frog.

I would love to know what your favorite frog is, fictional or not!

Orion T

Top picture is taken off the Shadow Lake (not to be confused with Shadow Lake in King county, WA) trail near Sunrise Point very high up at about 6400 feet in the Mount Rainer National Park, Washington State. I recently did some hiking there, and will share more on that soon.

Gazing upon the Fence of Doors of Vashon Island

Doors are important in most stories. These are transitive devices, that hold the way to one world as small and familiar as one’s own home, or to another world as vast and ready to explore as our universe itself. Either side, is a new story waiting to be told.

That said, is my highlight of a favorite little spot on Vashon Island to the west of Seattle), celebrating the awesomeness of doors in pop culture, with a fence made of many to the side of a house bordering a small alley. For a visitor to find, is to either stumble upon it or be learn of it. This spectacle is not easily noticeable otherwise.

Each colorful, styled door is in reference to some iconic pop-culture staple. Here is a closer look. Try and figure them out.

From left to right, I believe (might have a couple mixed up) we have Sherlock Holmes, Muppet Show, Harry Potter, Twilight Zone, Friends, Shrek, Hobbit, Doctor Who, Winnie the Pooh, Lord of the Rings, Monsters Inc, Napoleon Dynamite, Mystery Date, Christmas Carol, and Chronicles of Narnia (out of frame).

Upon my visit with a couple friends, we had a chance to chat with the artist, and builder of these doors, John “Oz” Osborne. He is a local resident, also very friendly and welcoming toward admirers of his work. He shared a little history, which began as a plan to keep his yard less visible to the local business activity across the alley. His wife, Jenny developed the idea further, as both worked together to expand each part of the fence, one door at a time. The work is still continual, with more space left for more doors.

John explained the most curious of doors, in the picture of the above on the right (him to the right taking a break from painting his own house). This door is in reference to an old board game intended for young girls, Mystery Date. The idea of the game was to gain a desirable date, but avoid the “dud.”

For those visiting Vashon Island, the Fence of Doors is worth personally checking out. Also, see what’s been added with the passage of time. It’s open for all to see, from a small side street. Location is 100th pl SW and 174th street, behind Luna Bella’s consignment boutique.

For those who may never get a chance to visit the little obscure area of the Pacific Northwest, here’s my little video posted on Instagram…

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Fun island town adventuring through Vashon

I love a peaceful, quaint, distant getaway that doesn’t feel too isolated. Vashon Island is awesome, for its lovely greenery and sense of community that I feel such be model for this pandemic time.

Vashon Island a little island of two parts (Vashon and Maury) located west of Seattle, deep within Puget Sound. The 36.9 square miles (95.6 km) landmass has a population of over 10,000, and only accessible from the outside by boat. There are two state-run ferries on the north and south end, where vehicle boarding is possible.

This visit to Vashon Island is my second since the Spring of 2015. I thought of coming back here on remembering that it’s still an island, therefore not likely overwhelmed by summer visitors during this pandemic. And unlike the Seattle city, there has been little growth since.

Coming back, I notice not much has changed in its mostly rural parts. Still, very peaceful, lush, and green. But I saw much awareness and respect for the current times. Many signs of Black Lives Matters on yards and fences, with painted portraits of George Lloyd and Breonna Taylor upon various walls, all express solidarity. There are also constant reminders to keep the virus masks on and be mindful of those around you with social distancing. Sadly, such things have become very polarized and would perhaps bother a more Trump-loyal conservative person, who would otherwise enjoy this lovely island. For myself being a person of color, I find the solidarity welcome. For not wanting to suffer horribly from someone else’s carelessness, I find the pandemic safety awareness also welcome.

I find these positives amplified and mixed in with, the Vashon central town center area, where SW Bank Road and SW 99th cross. Close and quaint, are huddled little shops, markets, restaurants for locals and tourists to enjoy and sink into that Pacific Northwest charm. Not much has changed, except for some good signs of support in these challenging times.

Here, are some pics I took with notes while with other friends, as we walked around…

One of many small local businesses in central Vashon. Some are open, some are closed. Most are well-preserved structures with some little extra character added. This gives Vashon Island a timeless appeal in these changing times.

Raven’s Nest, Northwest Native Art Gallery and Gifts, an indigenous owned and run store of wonderful native art.

The Vashon Theater. A little spot I hope to see open upon a future visit. But for now, they do offer drive-In movies for the summer!

The front of the Vashon Print and Design Shop, showing many ways for one to express support, awareness, and solidarity through glorious poster art.

Lots of gift ideas at the Vashon Pharmacy. Yes, it’s a pharmacy within the place that I barely noticed while looking at all the fun, various housewares.

A large sign in front of Granny’s Attic Thrift Store, an awesome thrift store I highly recommend for treasure hunters. But also, well-aware and meeting of the challenges on running business during the pandemic area. There was a line of people on Saturday, but the measures taken were well worth it, and we picked up some cool, vintage things.

Berries and summer blooms everywhere!

At the The Hardware Store Restaurant, with this canine decoration that I had to take a picture of.

Also at the Hardware Store Restaurant, the pancakes and other food is super great. I highly recommend!

A little art gallery behind the Hardware Store Restaurant, this time with a little pet theme.

A little random art piece alone outside, because no small town is complete without one.

The old bike in a tree, a sub-famed attraction of the island. Sadly, much of the attraction has rotted away as the growing tree swallowed it more. According to this site, the bike was abandoned in 1954, by a local who received it was a gift, and just didn’t want it, and left it in the trees.

And my new favorite part of the Vashon town center is this artistic fence of doors done by a local, located in an alleyway. It’s quite amazing and deserves its own post. I will share more on the doors, the history, and the artist behind the work , in my next post.

The sweetly street sights of Seattle’s Ballard District

The days are packed for me, yet the sidewalks still seem empty during this weird pandemic time.

I recently took to the streets of Ballard, a northern district Seattle with a quiet small town feel, lined with boats and docks to the west. It’s an area often missed by visitors with little tourist draw, yet plenty for those loving the deep Pacific Northwest charm of old shops, restaurants, decades old buildings, hints of history throughout, and some cheerful little oddities.

Recently, I finished some extra work in Ballard, which took about a week of back and forth commutes, filled with sorting and paperwork. After the last hours of that assignment, I looked to the sky with plenty of daylight left, inhaled the cool summer evening breeze. With comfy shoes and a half charge phone with no messages to respond to, I went for a long pointless walk around Ballard.

Much remained closed and limited from the ongoing pandemic. Few persons were seen scattering about, probably with purposes of commuting back home, not the aimless adventuring I love. The weekday evening might as well been a Sunday morning, as most remain in their homes.

I would not go home just yet, as I held free time and a thirst for adventure has no schedule. I dive in with comfy shoes, a half-charged phone.

Here are some street sights taken then, with notes….

Here is a cool vintage car, 50’s I think. I’m not sure on further details, but it’s a nice combination of beautiful metal shapes and shines.

I love some good wheels, as none should ever go to waste. Let them inspire other working wheels along the way!

I see not a pipe, but an elephant bellhop standing before me! This was to the side of the Mox Boarding House, a highly recommended hub for tabletop gamers (next to Card Kingdom).

Not a pandemic sign. I learned this was to promote…something…by some years ago by local writer Isaac Marion. If you call the number, there’s a very cryptic and bizarre message. More on that here.

Twice Sold Tales Books store in Ballard (different than the one in Capitol Hill). It was closed, but I love the sign!!! There’s not enough signs with dinosaurs on them.

The Ballard Consignment Store, with giant dogs guarding the entrance…

I really like the dress pattern in the window of the Monster Art and Clothing Shop.

Yeah, it’s Starbucks. It still counts as local for Seattle as the business was born and remains HQed here. But for this location, I love the practical recycled used of old boxcars.

Ballard Brothers Seafood & Burgers and Taco Mamas restaurant. Great food and service inside, wonderful local art by Henry on the outside.

The other side…

And more. I love Henry’s work. It’s super cheerful and very PNW.

That’s all for now. I hope you enjoyed these memories of my little walk. And, if I missed anything, I would love to know more for a future trip in the comments below!

The 2020 National Protest, Part 3 – Progression through time, the difficult trajectory

Today is June 19, a significant day for African Americans in the U.S., a second Independence Day for each other. This day reflects not when slavery was abolished, but officially enforced upon those still practicing illegal forced labor, two and half hears later.

The Emancipation Proclamation, an order signed by Abraham Lincoln abolishing slavery, became official on January 1, 1863. However, much of the U.S. ignored that ratification with a Civil War going on until April 1865. The South would lose, but remain stubbornness throughout, especially in Texas. Texan farmers ignored the Proclamation (or didn’t get the message), ready to squeeze a bit more forced labor for the summer harvest. But Union Army forces arrived in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, with the news that the Civil War ended and that slaves were now free.

The news spread fast, and history continued. This was a pivotal early high point for Black lives mattering, which still means a lot, and to me eventually.

I did not know about this “Juneteenth” until my early high school days, from my grandmother upon my first visit to Los Angeles in 1992. She stressed the importance of that day, as one that should be as significant as any holiday, and always remember. We both had experiences to share on racism, harassment that stemmed from slavery times, and society that, in a way, needed constantly reminding that dominion over others by race is unacceptable. We lived in a system that was very discriminatory on the amount of melanin in our skin, along with other physical aspects of our African roots.

To clarify, I am of mixed complexion and race. My maternal grandmother and remaining family (all on the maternal side) were African American, with roots traced back to the deep South and its slavery times.
There is much to share from that time, but for another day. For then, my attention toward television and news it brought is more relevant to the following and eventual now. I then learned a new word from the media.

Acquittal.

Four Los Angeles policemen (three white) brutality beat African American Rodney King nearly to death. It was all on caught on camera, and the officers made lousy excuses and lies for this very unlawful inhumanity upon him. They were acquitted, not guilty of the charges brought upon them.

So forth, came the first significant protest of my lifetime, starting downtown by its city hall and main courthouse. It was initially peaceful, as my grandmother and I stood by and hared solidarity, yet frustrated. The acquittal was not right, and the justice system failed. Anger and frustration built on our community, feeling ourselves unheard and uncared by a government system we thought at the time, would ignore our humanity in this particular symbolic case. A man was held against his will and beaten for not respected his temporary slave masters.

Adding to all this was also a recent slap on the wrist ($500 fine, probation, community service) for a Korean store owner in South Los Angeles who shot 15-year-old African-American Latasha Harlins, after accusing her of stealing orange juice. She was holding the money to pay for the juice, as she died. Still, there was no justification, whether or not Latasha Harlins was stealing. But it raised racial tensions among African Americans and Asian Americans as well. In a way, the justice system was also at fault here, feeling very imbalanced towards African Americans, yet again..

Often with court system failures, justice needs to be clarified by other voices. When it does not, anger is lead by fists and fire. So forth went the cry, “No Justice, No Peace.” This sentiment echoed into the South Central Los Angeles area, where many gave up a just society, feeling separate and not equal. Reasons included poor community funding, continuous discrimination, feeling exploited for cheap labor, and just feeling forgotten and ignored. To be at the very bottom, then seeing one of their own beaten by someone given authority for whatever reason, felt like a return to slavery

But, such did not entirely excuse the chaos, as major rioting followed. Such behavior did not reflect the message of the protesting but remained a symptom of those unheard. The beatings, fires, vandalizing did not speak for the community or African Americans, just the growing frustration where many would wrongly escalate frustrations away from the conversation.

Afterward, new voices would speak for ourselves. Most notably activist leaders, including Jesse Jackson, Maxine Waters, Al Sharpton. A new renaissance in music and arts culture that would bring fresh attention to “Black Power,” the effects of poverty, and system injustice awareness. But one voice resonated with me as a person of color, and others felt especially strong and much needed at the time, on May 1, 1992, by Rodney King appearing on television.

Can’t we all get along.”

It was a short message from a man who wasn’t ready for public speaking but felt the message needed a hearing. It’s simple, emotional, and a perfect question in a society that still frustration over those recent 1992 events, and the centuries of buildup that built up.

Something was liberating about that statement, ushering an era for the rest of the 90s with the recession ending. Bill Clinton took Presidential office in 1993, and definitely more favored (and relatable) in our African American community, which I think helped ease tensions towards the still White prevalent United States. Together, I think we all did get along, focusing on trivial guilty pleasures, including but not limited to Amy Fisher, OJ Simpson, Batman movies, Mortal Kombat, Tupac, Back Street Boys, The Matrix, Beavis and Butthead, and so much more.

But something remained for the next two decades, which I think was sparked in the middle by the next critical day in U.S race relations history, and a new era of protest. That day was September 11, 2001.

And that’s where I leave off, for now. I will return later to this point in history and share what led to our current times, from my perspective and observations, traveling through it all.

Orion T

The above picture is from the height of tensions in the current protest for 2020 in Seattle. I will share more on that in further parts.

The 2020 National Protest, Part 2 – The silent solidarity, loudly felt

On June 12, 2020, a significant Black Lives Matters march took place under some heavy rain. The main theme was the overall solidarity for Black lives unfairly victimized by law enforcement officials throughout the U.S. This new protest and call for awareness is from the recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and more. This march called for heavy silence spread and pandemic precautions with face masks and regards to those at further risk

Special note: I planned a follow-up from my recent Part 1 post with personal experiences and observations growing up as a person of mixed complexion on police brutality, civil unrest, and the 1992 Los Angeles Rodney King police verdict aftermath. That will have to wait, as I felt this march had priority in reflection. A single uniformed approach to recent events for a simple message reveals safety and comfort for those in danger are greater in numbers.

Not even the COVID 19 pandemic can slow this message down. Yes, we took a significant risk, but often an emotional need to unite and bond physically overpowers current obstacles. Yet, we still made adjustments, of which I am optimistic.

So, an estimated 60,000 slowly walked for over 2 hours from Judkins Park in the Central District to Jefferson Park in Beacon Hill. Some of that was uphill, very wet. The rain slowed down and stopped eventually. I was impressed with how many used their umbrellas, raising them higher above peers, and taking care not to poke or cause excessive splatter.

The march went well with no known incidents. Many who could not march or had to stay near home, stood by to add solidarity. Some passed out snacks and water. I am proud to be a part of this community support, as the effects of this will hopefully influence better public policy throughout all civil service, especially within law enforcement.

Later on the same day, in Atlanta, Georgia, 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks fell asleep in his car at a Wendy’s parking lot, apparently blocking a drive-thru. After failing a sobriety test, he attempted to run away, allegedly resisting arrest. For an unknown reason, he waved a taser back at them. That was all the excuse one of the police officers needed to open fire and fatally shoot him. I think he was running, fearing for his life, which in the end was not enough.

On the same night in California’s San Fernando Valley area, former Saturday Night Live cast member Jay Pharoah was jogging down a street. Then  LAPD officers swarmed and pulled their guns on him, ordered him on the ground as one officer then put his knee to Jay’s neck. The excuse was that he matched the vague description of a suspect.  His life was most definitely in danger, and I believe otherwise be left alone if his skinned had been a significantly lighter tone.

So yes, even while silent, the call for new attention, action, oversight, reform, changes and justice still must be heard. I will share more insight from the steps I take with my own two feet and hands for the coming days, for sure.

Orion T

The above picture was taken in Beacon Hill looking back on the march. I was very impressed and proud to be a part of this.

Silence standing, waiting

“Have you ever heard the wonderful silence just before the dawn? Or the quiet and calm just as a storm ends? Or perhaps you know the silence when you haven’t the answer to a question you’ve been asked, or the hush of a country road at night, or the expectant pause of a room full of people when someone is just about to speak, or, most beautiful of all, the moment after the door closes and you’re alone in the whole house? Each one is different, you know, and all very beautiful if you listen carefully.”
― Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth

I was enjoying the silence before me over the weekend, taking time alone at the Seattle waterfront, sitting at an open public table freshly sprayed with my lavender sanitizer spritzer. I take off my face mask, eat some delicious barbecue lunch from the Pike Place Market (Pike’s Pit, highly recommended now). My phone battery is nearly out. but that’s okay. It’s a noisy, troublesome device that needs a nap. I devour much of my delicious mix of soaked sweet chicken, rice, mac and cheese and cole slaw. Then, I listen to the silence of the air around me.

It’s very nice and welcome.

The temperature is kind, between cold and warm, with a slight breeze that brushes against my skin enough to keep me awake. I look to the Big Wheel of Pier 57, it’s unmoved, unlit, waiting, and I add a contemplative thought…perhaps this stillness as a moment for all things to think, uninterrupted. The clouds are lively, yet also seem still. I’m sure the clouds if I close my eyes for what another moment.

The Big Wheel remains still, which being an invention meant to move, looks very relaxed in its time of tranquility. It enjoys nothing, but embellishes in it. I stare at it, and think like the Wheel.

And then comes the slightest interruption. A little raindrops followed by a sudden burst of sunlight from somewhere above, then a shout in the distance followed by a distant vehicle squeals its brakes. Such makes the silence a bit more meaningful, remembered. I wait for a few moments for the confusion to go away, maybe let the silence soak in. My phone suddenly beeps with another notification. I look to the screen to measure its importance. It’s too late, the phone battery is dead for now.

I sit back. Enjoy the silence a bit more. The sudden light dies out into the clouds, only a few more skydrops, then stop. I ignore the distant citylife the Big Wheel remains still, and then a seagull makes a familiar squawk. The sudden break in silence blending, adding to the new silence. And then nothing else for another five minutes, as I am left with the flavor of lunch and the last bit of root beer upon my lips.

Then more raindrops come. I get going, but remember the silence for what it brought. Such was a good time to let happen, and use well.

– Orion T

Working, listening, thinking to some chill, lo-fi rhythms

I work at home during this strange pandemic now.

That includes some freelance projects for clients, mostly involved with digital media management. That routine can be stressful sometimes. The work I do takes a lot of focus and dedication to nor waste time getting stuck or distracted. So, I put on my headphones to block the outside world. Then, I have the Youtube, Spotify, Soundcloud, with the seemingly infinite plethora of musical access possibilities of the Internet.

Then, I have a mode that demands more focus and relaxation, to progress further through a mind that needs proper, encouraging flow. I feed that with some good music, and daily goals will be met. So many discoveries I look to now, some eventually bookmarked, favorited, playlisted, and noted.

With that in mind, I find a lot of chill beats more on YouTube now. Many are described as lo-fi, a term that I think will grow further in this new decade of growing anxiety.

This one above has been the most popular, helping to start this new trend of relaxing mixes with looping pictures…

I also get recommendations from friends, or stumble upon them in live streams or suggested by algorithm. If you have some, feel free to add in the comments!

In the meantime, back to productivity!

Orion T

On a side note, i wrote an article for another site (strangerworlds.com) featuring more relaxing and loFi mixes and soundtracks to popular Nintendo games across all generations. Do give it a chance, or listen to this awesome Legend of Zelda series one that is a saved favorite of mine now. Enjoy!

The simple life of the Black Oystercatcher

Haematopus bachmani, aka the Black Oystercatcher doesn’t really catch oysters. It’s catches mussels, limpets, barnacles, and various shellfish, all do well for their natural diet.

The Black Oystercatcher loves rocky shorelines, and often seen along the North American Pacific Coast. They don’t like human development or high industrialization where pollution and disturbances to their nesting areas disrupt their delicate existence. 

I took the above picture a few months ago from the Seattle Aquarium, which this little bit of info from its seattleaquarium.org site:

Oystercatchers nest and spend winters in the same basic area. They’re monogamous—the same two birds will return to the nest they create together, season after season. They make nests near rocky tidal areas where food abounds. By flipping their bills sideways and backwards, the birds toss rock flakes, pebbles and shell fragments to create a nest that resembles a bowl. Each pair will raise a clutch of eggs (one to three eggs) at a time. If anything happens to a clutch, pairs will raise two or more clutches until they have a successful brood.”

Black Oystercatchers are often very noisy, for reasons I could not uncover. Those noises are a little silly and cute, different from other avians. I love them for that…

That’s why I am sharing this joy of nature now. Maybe this will cheer you and others in this long, difficult pandemic time, for at least a moment. Then, feel free to make a little silly noise of your own.

Orion T

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Visit the Post Office before Mother’s Day

I have two reminders to all, as this week closes…

This Sunday, May the 10th, is Mother’s Day. A wonderful day that we pay homage and respect to all the maternal bonds in our mothers, whether they are related, adoptive, single, step, or just taking on the role of such.

It’s best to give a small gift traditionally. Flowers are lovely, or maybe a cookbook. But as necessary is also the card. One that says Happy Mother’s Day or something close to it works well.

But now, so many stores and gift spots are closed, sadly because of this ongoing pandemic. Choices for cards may be somewhat limited. This observation brings on my second reminder, to check you local post office. Many, like the Seattle downtown office in the above picture, has a quaint selection of Mother’s Day cards.

The United States Post Office system overall has been struck by this pandemic, especially with the large decrease in many businesses relying upon them every day. Many remain open, even though they face danger from infections as well. Still, many clerks would love to see their local people, perhaps in support and a reminder that their service is valuable.

Many post office locations have cool gifts, including stamps. Many also have cards for many occasions. I would recommend checking your nearest one for a good Mother’s Day card to send. It might be too late to mail timely for this Sunday, but that’s where adding a gift can help. Then a phone call Sunday, to the Mum, will be your chance to apologize for any lateness.

So, those are my two reminders as we carry this ongoing bizarre May month living. Take care and be safe in your plans, and don’t forget the important things.

Hey look, I’m a Star Wars!

Oh, Marge!

Anyway, Happy Star Wars Day, even though it will over by the time you read this…

Yet, the many of us don’t stop really enjoying and appreciating those Star Wars.

Star Wars is with us forever. What a silly thing this science fiction franchise does for us! So many among love the characters, get deep into its expansive lore, praise, or groan emotionally at creative turns through the years across all mediums. And how remarkable and surprising was that Star Wars: Clone Wars finale? 10 out of 10 lightsabers up for me!

What is it about Star Wars appeals to so many beyond its initial groundbreaking movies from decades ago? There’s a huge plethora of cool creatures, spaceships, robots, action with laser swords and laser pistols. There’s weird space politics, mystical religions, various cultures, and lifestyles that keep growing with the many more movies, games, serials, books, whatever else.

I believe it’s the binding and bonds between established characters. There are ongoing themes about friendships, family, rivalries, comradery, and the sense that we are all connected no matter how far apart in planets we are. You can be a farmer, a robot, a princess, a bounty hunter, a soldier, a wizard, a princess, a knight. Somehow, there’s a possible connection in the universe for anyone to partake. Then go on an adventure, discover something about yourself or others, check out an environment opposite of your familiar zones, get the rush of an exciting and very high stakes battle. From all, gain something new for surviving the experience. Star Wars is just a fascinating thing that happens through its pop culture that will never end as long as humanity enjoys the escapism that science fiction brings us together.

May the Force be with you, always!

The blossoms stay out, float around, clutter together

After errands in these shutdown weeks, I often take a small detour through Freeway Park in Downtown Seattle (located above Interstate 5).

Why? Because I need to, to help mentally cheered in this tough time. I must place myself in these city-developed little pockets of nature, to hear the birds chirp and peek at the squirrels. To enjoy the lush greenery and surroundings of gardens, grass, shubbery. This is my treatment of the stir-crazy confines of home.

Also lately, I check on the the cherry trees in full effect for the early Spring, reaching the end of their grand presentation. This is a show that is not cancelled, and moving on well…

The trees here are beautiful in some unique way for every season. But this round of developed silken bright blossoms is a particular show. These display a picturesque beauty, a scattered show of delicate petals tied together in the air, clustered to show an overall storybook setting. This global pandemic changing nothing for them, for the show continues.

But soon, this show will slowly end. The blossoms take a bow, slowly dropping to the ground. I look to the slow finale, feeling appreciative that this process moves on as a natural exception to the sadness of the global pandemic.

I share below, feeling somewhat lucky to have these wonderful views, with likely a bit more current freedom to walk around than other parts of the world. Hopefully, these sights will bring a smile, and reminder of some beautiful normal things still moving on…

Orion T

Here today, gone tomorrow…the final days of the original Bon Marché

Only, 9, 8, 7, 6, days left…

I see the going out of business signs more now, spread among the malls, department stores, big names of yesterday giving up their land. Past vibrant with the rising consumerism of societies spending addictions, now withering from the lack of capitalist sunlight focused more on the Amazons of online shopping. Or perhaps, it’s all just from unwise business practices, unpaid loans, and becoming prey for the savvy vulture capitalists who see not the products and potential, but the money to picked from the bones of these once-great behemoths.

Now, the downtown Macy’s store in downtown Seattle is next. It began as the Bon Marché store in 1890 (not to be confused with the famed Le Bon Marché in Paris, founded in 1838), which grew into a chain of its own until about the early 2000’s where a number mergers would end up with its name gone, and eventually put into the Macy’s department store chain collective, based in New York City.

Much like many other Macy’s stores closing in 2019, and more scheduled for 2020, everything must go. Here, the local Macy’s was a familiar cornerstone of Seattle’s big department store scene since its Bon Marché beginnings. The interior was much like any other grand upper-middle class catering atmosphere, with central escalators leading to the usual departments of fashion and home goods. But on the exterior was a felt presence, welcoming to spendy tourists and locals with its vintage architecture built-in 1929 designed by local architect John Graham Sr. During the holidays, its massive Holiday star light decoration would light the way outside for locals and tourists to partake in the seasonal consumerism inside

Its upper floors sold to Amazon for office space in recent years, then eventually struggled with likely expensive upkeep related to booming property values. Macy’s as a downtown Seattle store will end very soon.

I meanwhile, dropped by to scavenge for bargain deals. Not disappointing as I would buy new pants, socks, shirts, that were previously beyond my affordable range. In that venture, I was fascinated by what felt like the end of an era, not just for this Macy’s, but many department stores gone over the recent era. How many will be left by 2030?

But for now, here are some moments observed of these final days of the Bon Marché Pacific Northwest legacy, founded in 1890. At least, it had a good full century run.

– Orion T

Reflecting over what happens for happiness…

Not much happened over the weekend, and that may be a good thing…

That space gave me time to ponder, walk around, talk to people, participate in a project study, meet new friends, learn a little Python coding, fix my laptop, give a good hard look a change in direction, write some short stories which I will someday publish.

Okay, that’s a lot to reflect on. Yet still, not much really happened over the weekend because that was a lot of great moments that’s don’t imply drama, follow-up, expressing of concern of spreading the emotion of some great joy or sadness felt. I just had time to live in some great moments, that just developed with myself, friends, strangers. This was a all mixture of entertainment, study, creativity, sharing, pondering with some light planning. All happened, but passing through in a relaxing, smiling flow.

Oh, never mind. A lot happened, now that I reflect on my writing here.

Orion T

The picture above, I took last Friday night after some heavy rain, at the University of Washington. Here is the Suzallo Library on campus, an amazing building with a Hogwartsesque main reading room. I passed by that buildng last night in the dark, cold lonely night, with an urge to take pictures of the this beautiful observed moment. I really liked this shot, but wish I had a better camera to capture the fine details.

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…

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#voodoodonuts #portland #donuts

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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

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

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

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

Far out in Vancity’s Duckburg…

I think those are ducks in the picture above. Either way, I like their style.

Sometimes, very orderly…maybe forming a conga line.

Sometimes, just mingling…perhaps sharing their opinion of us tourists staring at them.

Very social creatures here.

-Orion T

Pics taken from a nice morning walk in Central Vancouver (Canada), along English Bay.

Holiday Season Cheers from Candytown

Here’s a big gingerbread person, dancing around at the Candytown Holiday Festival in Yaletown, Vancouver, Canada. Gotta love that!

This fresh cheer has me excited for the goofy carefree spirit of the holiday season (as long as you don’t play into the madness of the shopping season pressures including Stupid Black Friday). More egg nog, please!

I’m here for a few days, seeing old friends and away from stress. I’m also doing my holiday shopping through some cool local businesses, and having a silly blast. Lots of maple flavored things!

Meanwhile, here’s more cheer from Candytown..

Orion T

The new messages from Post Alley…

I visit the Post Alley section of Seattle’s Pike Place Market often. There, is a little driveway many tourists in the area miss, paying too much attention to the main market floor. Which is sad, because a great trip to the Pike Place Market is never complete without a walk through the Post Alley to check out the Gum Wall, and the art.

I love the art in that area much more. There are visual changes often, with new papered art often covering up the faded. It’s a mix of entertainment, politics, social activism, self-promotion, humor, and advertisements. I believe the bulk of it defines the true artistic soul of Seattle, as a hub of varied culture and awareness.

So, here are some pics of my latest visit a few days ago..

Just a small portion of sticky notes, very heavy and scattered this time.
A random scattering of what Post Alley is all about
A featured piece showcasing the current Hong Kong protests.
Another area, but some faded pieces I still can see from a month or two ago…

And some more by the gum wall area.

That’s all for now. I will definitely return to this spot, many more times.

-Orion T

Global Climate Strike action, Seattle’s part

This last latest Friday, thousands of school students led thousands more activists into the streets of Seattle. This was in part of similar protests in over 2,500 connected events worldwide, adding to an unknown number surely in the millions, to protest accelerated climate change caused by human recklessness.

This global event on September 20th, is the first Global Climate Strike, inspired by 16-year old Swedish climate activist, Greta Thunberg. Back in August 2018, Greta cut school to protest and call for climate action outside the Swedish parliament building. She started alone but soon joined by many others, gaining worldwide attention, and eventually this event powered by more youth.

So, here in Seattle, the strike was done to surprising numbers. A path of closed blocks led from its Capitol Hill district to the city hall in Downtown. Shortly after the noon, I would join the final city block, cheering on the movement.

I feel there is a concentrated push by ignorant people in power, and greedy corporations, and many who just don’t care…to disdain the countless science data and observations that allowing large amounts of poisons into the air and destroy precious ecosystems is causing harm to our planet. Then, harm comes back to us with difficult weather changes, stemming from those harmful effects.

But, will such activism really help and fix our problems in the long run? Well, that depends on what we do from such reaction. Becoming more involved and informed in politics, economics, making conscious decisions on our consumerism and social activity helps. Green renewable energy, recycling, push for compostable/biodegradable over plastic single-use products help. Fighting peacefully against ignorant forces in power through resistant protest and democracy also helps. A lot of this benefits, but the urgency for better action and solution will increase as the problems resulting from climate change increase.

With that, we will hear more from the concerned youth for sure, hopefully leading to better, smarter changes soon.