Reflecting on Star Trek: The Next Generation, 30th Anniversary…

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30 years ago on this day, Star Trek: The Next Generation premiered with its two-part pilot episode, “Encounter At Farpoint.” And ever since, the show has had a profound effect on my journey through life.

I was lucky enough to catch it on its premiere night, not quite as eager in the beginning. But something drew me, being a mixed cast of characters on a big starship, seeking out new life, new civilizations, and boldly going…. On this new starship, the NCC-1701 Enterprise D, held an android seeking humanity in itself, a mighty alien warrior eager for new challenges, a blind engineer expanding his self in science and technological advancement, a ship doctor balancing her work with the challenges of single motherhood, a ship counselor with empathic abilities often not very helpful, a charming first officer, and a captain who seeks the peaceful, diplomatic, humanitarian solutions to every problem.

This would go on for seven years, and four movies. Star Trek: The Next Generation became a show I grew up with, identifying with much of the crew on their journeys and moral dilemmas. To me, the show was about finding self in seeing what’s out there. For the crew and the journey, establishing humanity’s place in the Alpha Quadrant as a member of the Federation; ever-exploring and spreading peace along the way while interacting with new alien species. Each crew member had an ongoing quest to reaffirm their place on the bridge as an individual and team. Through them as inspiration and admiration, I often dealt better with relatable challenges in school, social explorations, and direction in life.

So, I love Star Trek: The Next Generation. Here are my top five favorite episodes in no particular order:

  • Darmok – Picard is trapped on a planet with an alien with a very complex language system. The challenge puts Picard’s communication skills to a great test, with the solution being finding common ground and learning about each other.
  • Q Who – The omnipotent Q throws the Enterprise into a distant uncharted space, where they meet the Borg. The experience is a lesson in humility for humanity, with new and iconic challenges to come.
  • Yesterday’s Enterprise – An awesome episode with much of everything packed in; time travel, an alternate reality, epic ship on ship battles, revealing history connecting the classic series with the new, crew members put in new roles, moral dilemmas, high stakes.
  • Chain of Command Part II – a gut-wrenching episode where Picard is held prisoner and tortured, physically and mentally. The acting between Picard and his Cardassian captor is intense, with an unforgettable ending. How many lights are there?
  • “The Offspring” – Data creates an android daughter for him, in a continual effort to be “human.” This raises dilemmas and challenges on multiple levels, in a new role he must take on as a father and protector. A mix of emotions results with twists and turns, leaving me as a viewer feeling sad in the end for a fictional character whose existence didn’t last.

Overall, I love Star Trek: The Next Generation for what it was to myself, and what it gave to its growing audience – a vision of the future for a possible destiny in the stars, where the exploring and bonding with the universe and ourselves will never stop. With that, I best recall that epic last line of Captain Picard from its very first episode, that still remains a most important marker for us all…

– Orion T

PAX West 2017 Gamingbalooza…

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I spent much of the weekend with friends and strangers, at the PAX West 2017, an annual event gathering for gamers of the video and tabletop variety. The feelings shared among us involved excitement, cheer, and anticipation of gaming.

The event itself is the largest event of its kind in the Pacific Northwest. Now held at Washington State Convention Center in Downtown Seattle, the event is host to hundreds of companies big and small, and its many ticket holders (at least 70,000).

For me, the event was about exploration into the ever changing industry of interactive games and its culture. I sought out a lot of new indie games, and stuff coming out for PC (not much of a console gamer anymore). Though VR and MMOs are the rising rage, I loved the new treasures of side-scrolling platformers, tactical turn-based strategy, and single-player RPGs; many with a nostalgic old-school edge to them.  For the tabletop variety, I gravitated toward fun, storyline based card games for play at parties (plenty of new stuff around here).

Now, I am exhausted and will write more of my PAX impressions soon on my other blog, strangerworlds.com. Meanwhile, here are some pics taken by me of select moments of this crazy fun show.

– Orion T

 

Fantastic Times at the 2016 NW Folklife Festival

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I was at the annual Northwest Folklife Music Festival, again..

This, being my fourth time of attending this huge annual extravaganza of folk music and dancing, from all over the world. Since 1971, it’s brought a large array of arts, crafts, dancing, and sounds from multiple ethnic varieties to the Pacific Northwest, backed by donation and volunteer support. Held once again at the Seattle Center by the great Space Needle I attended Saturday and Sunday, with no energy left for the sunny Monday finale. Overall, some great times were had…

Here are some pics…

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The Freelance Reveleers, a ragtime blues group doin some sweet street performing..
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Tom Day Wait James with Dave Acker and the Growing Boys for some serious country folk jamming..

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This Balkan dance group (missed their names) showed some fantastic choreography, and among my favorites for this year

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More Eastern European dancing, from Saturday night.

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A mighty drum circle underneath the Rhythm Tent..

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A street performer (name was lost to me), with his awesome didgeridoo..

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Inside one of the many booths present selling eccentric home-crafted delights. The food selection was great too.

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Another shot of the good times, of which made up an overall great time for many..

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That’s all for now!

– Orion T

 

Pictures of Today 5/22/16, Breakin at the Fair..

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The best highlight of the latest annual University District Street Fair in Seattle, was the street dancing at one particular corner…

There in the afternoon, the Legion Dance Crew NW performed some sick moves with much breakdancing, some popping, and crazy flips. Joining them was Steel Will of the LA Breakers, who performed his grand finale flip over a few audience volunteers…

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Very talented folks, who made this day and this fair worth going.

– Orion T

Pictures of the Weekend, Outside the Sakura-Con

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Last weekend was a bit more colorful than usual..

I spent a little time outside the Sakura-Con, an annual convention for lovers of Japanese anime, manga, gaming and related pop-culture. I missed my chance for tickets inside the event, as I was a bit overly busy for much of the greater portions of the event. But outside, I had some hours to spare.

Much of the time was conversing with old friends, making new ones. We discussed emphasis on the anime and gaming pop-culture of decades past (the newer generation was more present). It was all fun, to see old characters brought to fly, thanks to the cosplaying element of the gathering.

I took some pictures, of which only some shared below. If you would like more than,please check out my expanded gallery and writings on “geek” culture at strangerworlds.com.

Here, are some chosen pics of mine for here (click on each for more into)..

That’s all for now…

Oh wait.., here’s me caught with the creepy mascots of the Five Nights at Freddys video game series!

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– Orion T

 

 

 

Weekend Thoughts 11/29/15, A Needed Peace of the Season..

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Meanwhile in the Emerald City, the Holiday Season feels fresh once again.

Though this could be the same picture as what will happen during the following weeks. To the left is part of a very tall Christmas tree, which was present last year in this very spot, and probably the next. If not for some particular buildings in the backdrop, this deco could be easily mistaken for nearly any developed big city.

What makes the holiday season special is not the deco, but the people what they make of it. Not everyone may find the holiday symbolization as welcome. For example, the night before the above picture was Black Friday, a day infamous for shopping madness frenzy on “doorbuster’ deals; and also for tree lighting ceremonies and opening festivities. It was (and I think becoming) a day for civil unrest and social justice here in Seattle at least, as a massive Black Lives Matters protest developed in the midst of a crowded Westlake Center area. This was similar to last year’s Friday after Thanksgiving. There are many points of view on whether that was a good or bad outside additive to the holiday festivities, but such a happening brought this particular place and setting a somewhat distinct feel to it all.

Here was that tree in the background on that evening..

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The crowd was quite massive, with a mix of emotions on the invasive presence of the Black Lives Matters protesters with chants and signs calling for an end to police brutality, racial discrimination, and social injustice. Walking through the crowd I heard approving and disapproving voices (with dashes of racism as well). For me, my claustrophobia was developing, and thought my place was away from all this. Also, I was very hungry..

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Sadly, I missed out on the fireworks and big Christmas tree-lighting that happened shortly after. Meanwhile,  I felt reminded of recent words from Pope Francis in a recent speech to some Catholic churchgoers: “We are close to Christmas. There will be lights, there will be parties, bright trees, even Nativity scenes – all decked out – while the world continues to wage war….It’s all a charade. The world has not understood the way of peace. The whole world is at war”

And that brought me to thinking while I heard the fireworks boom in the distance, that perhaps the Holiday season does need some change. Should some consideration of what is not right in the world, have a damper on holiday festivities, or should we take time out ponder this incompleteness of our Holiday season?

I felt the reason for the BLM protest; a large group of people felt a disconnect with a dominant status quo on the long-running issues of racism and police brutality in the US, and perhaps that was reason enough to interrupt the joys of tree lighting and musical entertainment. Is it reason enough to interrupt the planned joys to the bigger crowd? That’s for the public to decide, if any change will gain support, or result in resistance. But either way, I felt what the Pope said to where we can’t quite celebrate the spirit of Christmas without considering the larger pictures outside our comfort zones (though he was referring more to the escalating war conflicts). War, injustice, starvation, and other signs of inhumanity..still out there.

So, I will be thinking of some good deeds I can do, perhaps giving and donating to the homeless and less fortunate (an issue I feel this city of Seattle needs to address more). I will read more on what else troubles humanity this Season, and consider what I can do to make a holiday season festive for those who truly need it more.

Meanwhile, we can’t all be magically happy with doorbuster deals and seasonal lights as we start the Holiday Season. I will continue to appreciate any wonderful displays of Christmas decoration, because otherwise the month is too cold. Perhaps, we people should collectively take more time to understand and show some compassion to the distraught toward the time of Christmas Day, even if their messages are not convenient to our liking. That extra warmth and additive in our traditions could go a long way, and make the next Christmas Seasons even more festive.

– Orion T

 

 

 

 

Recent memories and fun at the 2015 Torchlight Parade, Seattle…

 

Not sure what there is about a parade, drawing me close…

Yet, the knowledge of one coming,motivates me to forget the world and join as a spectator. I’m usually alone, as I can’t imagine anyone I know as excited as me. I like to watch, applaud, and occasionally cheer at the odd display of colorful people and their strange contraptions and organized entertainment. If there is some theme, than I have a bonus to my enjoyment. 

So last Saturday, there was this 2015 Torchlight Parade in Seattle, mainly sponsored by Alaska Airlines. Without looking this up, I think the theme was lights and diversity as there was much of that through the late evening, early nightfall. We got a huge range of ethnic and cultural diversity crossed with local businesses and small town promotions. It was all local fun, with little on anything specific to recent happenings (unlike other parades). Also, lots of beauty queens on flowery floats and big bands in between. Overall, some good old-fashioned fun to a parade that just is..

Here are some parade pics that may amuse you, and hopefully remind you of the joys of a good ol parade..

O look, it’s the Alaska Airlines mascot!    

 

Pickle Pride!

 

Big orca love, full of inflated happiness!

 

One of my favorite floats, as I also love peaches..  I would love to attend a Peach Fesitval someday..

 

One of many who chose to ride in classic style through the parade, on horseback. 

 

One of the more perplexing displays of the parade. That can’t be real, yet the sign says..leading some in the crowd to run and touch the potato thing…

 

One of many marchers representing the U.S. Military and armed forces, with spendid musical performances!

 

And some extra patriotism…

One of many floats with gorgeous ladies wearing sashes and tiaras. 

It’s Blitz the Seahawks mascot…getting us psyched for another coming season of NFL football. 

 

Dancing and music, south of the border style! 

 

Fantastic lights brings a magical feeling here..

 

A more colorful chariot for this parade

 

One of the more stranger floats, with a message about garbage and our drainage systems.. 

 
Some headspinning visual feats..

 

And pirates, aRRRRR! 

 

And this big obnoxious truck! 

 

That is all I share from thIs parade. I sadly missed out on some clowns, as I had to exit for some time to make some calls. The pics were a small portion of the whole show, as I am limited on upload capacity and time for this article. But overall, I hope you enjoy the visual sampling of parade moments , as I enjoy sharing them.

Orion T