The timelessness of a good summer time

“Summer will end soon enough, and childhood as well.”

― Famed writer George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

When I was a little one newly understanding the concepts of time and seasons, I never stopped to realize that I have only one summer a year. Every summertime from then on, such a thought has escaped me until now. I measure my time in years, when I should be measuring in this favored time of escape and letting my inner child run free under the piercing, brightest sun. Every summer enjoyed is a complete year in my growth cycle (also, my birthday happens at the end of a summer cycle).

I would love to enjoy over 100 summers, but then 10, 20, 30, and eventually 40 has been a wonderous blessing. There is a remaining inner child part of me, that finds myself wanting to play in some water and kick up some sand. Enjoy the summer as I should. Maybe someday should I get through 50, 60, 70 or eventually 80 summers and beyond, I shall build a mighty sand castle and declare myself king of the beach, being very wise yet childish to those around me.

Orion T

The picture above is recent of Alki Beach in West Seattle, my favorite beach of the Seattle area. The Spidey-bike belonged to some little girl, learning how to ride.

Living the hottest day in Seattle

108 F degrees happened in Seattle today, breaking an all-time record for hottest day in this city. Portland also broke its all-time heat record at 115 F degrees. This heat wave in the Pacific Northwest is excessive!

Yet, I kept myself cool for most of the day. I went out for a few errands around noon, finding that lemonade was a sold-out commodity in the downtown area. No lemonade seen on any shelves of some local stores I checked, nor at any Starbucks or popular eating areas (or, so I was told by a few local venders). I was craving lemonade, and settled on just making my own later.

For the rest of the day, I stayed indoors blocking out the sunlight through all my windows, and keep my oscillating fan on setting 3 and very loud. I devoured four popsicles.

I hope everyone else stuck with this weather made it through, maybe found a fun way to keep cool. I think today is the height of the rough weather, and hope we can back to usual unpredictable mix of clouds and sun at 70-85 F soon.

– Orion T

The above is picture is of Westlake Avenue, through the top of an clear sippy cup of iced water.

A sweet, full day at the beach

It’s a most excellent day, to be at Alki Beach here in West Seattle.

The temperature is perfect at about 75 Farenheit, so expected to climb to about upper 80s later on. Here, is a sweet steady breeze. It’s not overcrowded with people yet. And best of all, the day is free for me.

That means I have time to plan, to figure out future travel ideas (especially on filming!) . Hardest parts that I must ponder will be money, and time. Also, going to do some freestyle writing and light reading.

So, I must put down my phone soon, and make the best of my awesome surroundings.. I hope your day is pleasant as well, and enjoying some great summer weather.

Orion T

Hello ice cream, my old friend…

One of the best things about hot weather, is the craving for some ice cream to best counteract the bursting sun. Living through modern times, it is a constant appreciation that I usually have access and monetary funds for this wonderful confectionery concoction.

Such sensation has been constant since my earliest days of discovering various forms of sweetly tastes. My favorite ice cream flavor in my adolescent days, was some mint chocolate chocolate chip.

Then for my teenage years, my ice cream preference was anything that had berry bits. Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia, often yes!

Through my growing adult years, I came to appreciate lemon flavor or peanut butter mixtures, but not both together. I didn’t quote care for nuts or almonds though.

Since moving to Seattle, I discovered the joy of sea salt flavor in my ice cream. Usually with chocolate or caramel, which works well with non-dairy store brands too.

Then came this sea salt caramel (see above picture) with cupcake bits, at the nearby Cupcake Royale (close to Pike Place Market). This is the next stage of ice cream joy of my life. It’s amazing, and perfect for now.

What’s your favorite scoop?

New Video, exploring the Danny Woo Community Garden

Check out my new video, now up on my Traveling Orion Youtube channel!

This latest is my continuing stroll through Kobe Terrace Park, to the adjacent Danny Woo Community Gardens. For over a quarter-century, these collected plots of land have serviced the local community, and add much character to Seattle’s International District’s local culture! Definitely worthwhile, for anyone who enjoys gardening or just feels the heart and soul of it all.

Meanwhile, I did a little refining on my post-production editing routine, figuring out more on the subtleties of timing and spacing. I think I need a bit more practice and learning, but I will get there. I also added some music (free use provided by YouTube resources) at the end credits. I like it.

Anyway, here it is. Enjoy!

New Video, Early Springtime Exploration at Kobe Terrace Park!

I recently finished a local move to a bigger, more spacious apartment. After that, and a break from my busy life, I finished editing and publishing a little video I shot in early April. This comes in two parts. Part one is centered on the beautiful Kobe Terrace Park in Seattle’s International District during a short period of cherry tree blooms. Part 2, will be on the nearby Danny Woo Community Gardens!

Check out part 1 below. Part 2 will be done soon. Enjoy!!

An important epilogue to a sad story

Yesterday, former police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty on two counts of murder and one for manslaughter for the death of George Floyd, an African American man whose near last words were, “I can’t breathe.”

And from that day the verdict referred to, on May 25, 2020, ignited a fury for social justice needed for Floyd and many others whose black skin color share a common trait, for having their lives disregarded by law enforcement officers. What is often noted, is that people often judge African Americans apprehended by police officers as “thugs”. “druggies”, and whatever else makes privileged folk concerned, when one does the slightest act of suspicious or illegal behavior. So with such judgement, there is a constant reminder that their lives are more threatened in police confrontations, as they may not survive to get any necessary due process. And often, there is no crime or prior suspicion. Black lives, like any other, need to get go for a nice walk, get a slice of pizza, get a good night’s rest, and other human things. And they matter on the basic principles to be judged on the same level as others confronted by law enforcement.

George Floyd had a life of many ups and downs, which sadly lead to some bad choices involving criminal activity, and drugs. However, he did often try his best to turn his life around, and sometimes succeeded in being a positive influence to others at times. He was a mentor, a father, a blue-collar working class man, and a loved African American whose potential to better himself and others was robbed by Derek Chauvin. He just need better days ahead, to work his life out. Sadly, Derek Chauvin robbed him of that opportunity.

So, Derek Chauvin was given his most important day for due process, and found guilty. Prison will give Chauvin a time to reflect and dig deep on the wrongness of his actions. His might even appreciate that he was given this chance to live through it, and do other human things. I will care less for him, but will appreciate any further good that comes out his guilty verdict.

But what of the rest of us? What do we get out of this? We shall see. In the meantime, also keep in mind other fresh names since, to other similar sad stories: Daunte Wright, Rayshard Brooks, Daniel Prude, Breonna Taylor.

The above picture was from a sidewalk memorial in Seattle, a few weeks after the death of George Floyd. Pictured with George Floyd is Breonna Taylor, another life senselessly lost from wrongful police actions in 2020.

A beautiful springy spring, and its fresh cherry blossom blooms

I have finally let myself be immersed in the glory that is the spring season of the Pacific Northwest.

I feel a bit late to the party, but also just in time for some fresh blooms. Cherry blossoms are around in Seattle, for about a good few weeks to appreciate, then on to other spring blooms. But for now, I must walk, and peek, and listen, and study, and breathe in the light breezy air between the many trees around. I see many are gaining new leaves after losing so many to the long, harsh and lonely winter.

For now, back to the blossoms, look!!

Each one of the countless, can be appreciated. More of this, soon!

The above pictures are from a recent visit to a favorite little park by a very noisy freeway…Kobe Terrace park in the International District of Seattle. I have shared about it on travelingorion.com more, on a snowy day, after a snowy day, and other days of spring blossom renewal. This time, I did something a little different, which I plan to share here soon.

Orion T

Being stuck in a winter state of mind…

Today is the first day of Spring, but the picture above does not reflect today.

It’s about a month old, from the last full day I had outside, February 13th, 2021. Since then, it’s been parts of days on weekends and not much else because my busy life, often full of messaging chains, video conferences, and work. Also, the last two weeks I mostly spent in a 14-day stay at home quarantine, as part of the ongoing pandemic.

I did not test positive Covid-19. However, someone I know very close that I was in contact with did. I tested negative, but through advisement from others and the county, I went into a 14-day quarantine. This was over the possibility that Covid-19 could develop late. Fortunately, it did not.

From there, the time was a bit rough not so much dealing with isolation and living alone in a small, darkened apartment, but other things revolving around mental health. I received some sad news over distant friends, family affected by the pandemic, and felt helpless. I also felt a bit down, pondering my future post-quarantine and post-vaccination life eventually. Where will I be? What will I be doing? How much time must I give to dead-end positions of employment where I continue to be underutilized and my greater talents ignored? So much of my spare time at peak energy and brain is spent working with dead-end tasks that do nothing for career growth, yet pay bills and keeps me moving.

With that, I do have some answers and gave heavy thought to some new ideas. Some of that will take more thinking and more planning, but I look forward to making good on them. That includes, finding fresh energy when I am lacking it the most.

Still, there remains a struggle of wills. A fight to keep going. Some of it is from age, and some of it is from depression. I do what I can do, to get through this long, cold winter.

But, also… I remembered that I had shot many video segments from my walk in the snow last month. I wanted to do a little test, to see how I could do on camera as a host, and a videographer. During the quarantine, I had enough time to get through the footage, weed out the most cringiest parts, do a lot of editing. I also refreshed my skills on motion graphics, animated logos, some other stuff.

This is the result:

Watch as much as you can. If you make it through and enjoyed, please hit a “Like” and “Subscribe” on the YouTube. That will certainly help excite things and ideas for the coming spring season, which begins for me after my quarantine session.

Orion T

Senseless in Seattle, with the usual strangeness of its late winter weather

There’s a saying I’ve heard in this Emerald City of the Pacific Northwest…

If you like the weather, wait five minutes. Or, If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes.

But, that’s not an exclusive saying to the city of Seattle. It’s said of many cities where shifting, unpredictable weather happens. The earliest version of that saying was quoted by famed writer Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain. His exact quote was said to be, “If you don’t like the weather in New England, just wait a few minutes.” The context and where he quoted this remains unknown to the Internet. But who cares, it’s timeless to our hours of environmental unpredictability, where it can be the only notable occurance of an otherwise mundane day.

Still, there is something timeless about the joy of unpredictable weather. Constant weather patterns can be boring. TV morning news would be less exciting without our weather reports. Less banter, less small talk for sure. For me, I enjoy the opportunities of photography and inspiration that sudden weather changes bring..

Especially in Seattle.

Orion T

Pictures above are from the newish patio deck area of the upper, main floor of the Pike Place Market. It’s a good place to chill, with less people and more space than other parts of this popular tourist destination.

Through the night of the great Seattle Snowpocalypse of 2021

Continued from my previous post, but before those pics were taken, are more (below) from another long walk.

This walk happened late night last Friday close to midnight with a couple friends, as the snow fell heavy upon the Seattle city. The streets were peaceful, quiet, and relaxing for my boots to stroll about. Locations were mostly the Downtown area around the Pike Place Market, the waterfront, and Space Needle.

Here are the pics of my long, roughly two-hour night experience…

Is that all for now?

Orion T

Through the day of the great Seattle Snowpocalypse of 2021

Over the recent last Saturday of this Valentine’s Day/Presidents Day weekend, 8.9 inches of snow descended upon the Seattle area. This was the most local snow reported in a day over the last 52 years. It’s a lot, though pales in comparison to snow reports further to the East of the U.S.

Yet, I loved this downpour of constant snowflakes rested upon my home concrete jungle. Everywhere, new tints of natures monochrome, and the eerie quiet of city further closed, along with the ongoing pandemic. I took a many steps throughout, for mostly errands and whatever excuses I mustered for the sake of long, joyous walks through this wonderous winterland of strange unfamiliar proportions of snow. I wore a good pair of tough boots this time, well-prepared to not slip and drench my precious feet. I stomped through the downtown area, to the waterfront, until the International District, then back to downtown, eventually to the Capitol Hill district, and then back to the waterfront through downtown again. The long trek was all great exercise, with the minimal eating of a cupcake and a bread bowl full of Ivar’s clam chowder.

I also snapped some pictures with my fancy phone (A OnePlus 8T Pro). Here are some of those pictures, all wide and unfiltered:

And there’s more, of which I will share soon. Take care in the meantime, and check your weather reports before heading out, especially if you live in or around Seattle. Weather is otherwise quite unpredictable around here.

Orion T

Spinning light in the deep night…

Here in Rain City, where the trees are wet and my shoes are damp.

The streets turn quiet as the night sets in further. The pitter patter of today’s lasting shower remains. You can hear the drips, falling from above, bouncing off windows, off branches, on our faces. It’s all very pleasant, though my glasses can take only so much in droplets, before I must stop and rewipe.

My time is late, after some mundane yet necessary errands just done. I look to the familiar streetlights to light my way towards home after a short, yet sluggish bus ride from Capitol Hill to the Denny Triangle. Aside, are light reflections off concrete, sometimes hiding sneaky deviously deep puddles. I carry on and eventually reach the front door of my apartment, fiddling for my keys in my drenched backpack. I hear metal jingling, as I rummage though the deepest, cluttered area.

But then I stop for a moment. I look up and notice the glistening naked winter branches, staring back at me. A nearby streetlight is perfectly centered to my line of vision, where it and I should be, to make this connection that is our moment. That is, until my glasses can take no more droplets, and I must stop and rewipe.

I take a picture from the phone in my pocket. it captures the moment perfectly, which you now see above. And then, I dig my keys out. I go inside, and that’s end of my lovely time outside in the rain, for now.

– Orion T

My first cupcake of 2021!!

YUM!!!

It’s a New Years edition edition from the local Cupcake Royale consisting of chocolate cake, strawberry champagne, frosting, sprinkles, and a truffle. It’s a beautiful thing that tastes amazing.

This cupcake is only available from Cupcake Royale from until the end of today, then on to other special editions. One a side note, everyone in Seattle should visit Cupcake Royale when around the world famous Pike Place Market area. It’s small, but filled with much awesome flavor with a curated range of scrumptious cupcakes and ice creams. My personal favorite is their salted caramel cupcake, a must for all seeking to partake in the best sweets of the Emerald City.

– Orion T

Hello and cheers for the 2021 new year!!

This year of 2021 is off to a nice nice start!. Happy New Year!!

It’s the second day now, with solid showers from the sky to the grounds of the great city of Seattle. I got my Nike Air Max’s soaking drenched, underestimating one puddle after the next. Still, I moved on, enjoying every moment this year had to give me so far. Yesterday, was a bit more dry.

I started the new year as the countdown clock hit zero. I was a party, alone in my apartment but a gaggle of friends online cheering on the most surreal virtual “fireworks” imposed over our famous Space Needle. What a weird yet wonderful 10 minutes, developed by Terry Morgan, owner of Seattle-based Modern Enterprises and founder of BOREALIS – A Festival of Light, in partnership with co-producers Maxin10sity.

Here’s that…

This process used a digital sky-mapping technique. I think this involves using multiple layers crossed with 3-D stuff combined with video of the Space Needle. It’s all very visual impressive, but also a bit cheesy. I and online friends watching it online, enjoyed it. I think with drone technology, lasers, hologram tech, this might be a real thing in about 20 years, for many more to enjoy without the virtual part.

Then after much silly chatting, I fell asleep and woke up for later on this first day of 2021. Then, many phone calls with close loved ones, checking on friends, tidying up my apartment.

Then back to day with lots of walking around, yet avoiding people because the pandemic is still out there. I have to go back out tomorrow, and then the next day, and so on for many more because I have to.

But so far, all is well around my wet feet. Cheers, and hope you all are also doing well and looking forward.

Orion T

The Silent Seasonal Lights of Seattle 2020

Rain has fallen heavy tonight upon the Emerald City as the global pandemic courses through. The streets have are almost empty as the night sky takes over and most shopping and restaurant spots normally open, are now closed. There is peace, in between much of our troubled days.

The holiday lights for this time will not dim, as they brighten up this dark year with Christmas-time cheer. Traditions continue, helping those still out or perhaps needing a nice walk (but still stay safe, please), that not all is lost for 2020. Beautiful, colorful, LEDS everywhere!!!

But it’s also cold and wet now. I would not advise going out around here now, unless you really have to or maybe living a lonely life in a dark, small downtown apartment during a pandemic is clawing at your mental health. Then, a good walk through pretty lights can be pleasant, even in Seattle’s coldest, wettest hours.

Here are some of my choice phonecam captures of the Pike Place Market and Westlake area, taken recently. Live vicariously through them, hopefully in a safe and seasonal cheered environment…

– Orion T

Back to the Kubota Japanese Garden

2020 isn’t over yet as we we have one last month, and a stressful for many holiday season to go.

Meanwhile, I have the perfect place to wind down for those in the Seattle area, to decompress outside and away, socially distant and pandemic-mindful. That is the Kubota Garden park in the Rainer Beach area.

The Kubota Garden is one of the few curated Japanese gardens, with much greenery and sights reminiscent of the timeless natural scenic beauty of Japan. It’s free to enter, but with current pandemic restrictions (no big gatherings!).

I’ve written more about this place before, of which you can read here.

But for now, here are some pictures I took from a recent visit. For location and more information, click here.

– Orion T

Present Tense in the USA

VOTE if have not yet done so!!

I won’t push the obvious stakes much further. There is nothing I can not stress more that would change anyone’s mind at this point. I have to trust in an imperfect system based on the sensible ideals of democracy, with faith that a large portion of the voting population will put forth what needs to happen for this country to sanely continue.

From what I hear, more people are voting. Records are being broken from early voting. It’s trending, to declare your vote and share without shame, that there is something in this great American system that works. But, only if enough people participate.

Yet, let’s take a deep breath. Don’t let the anxiety overwhelm you after you did your part. Maybe stay off social media for a bit. Work helps distract, but avoid political conversation (a good practice in general at most jobs). Maybe find a dumb movie, play a video game, get some rigorous exercises done, or whatever…then turn on some news and see the results later on. Then, well let’s see and go from there.

Yet, still..

Orion T

I voted early, as Washington state has an awesome vote by mail system.

Happy Halloween 2020, in isolation but still loving it

So, I’m all alone with my little monster buddies on the shelf for this Halloween 2020, mostly because of the anxiety and fears of social gathering lately. There is a full Moon outside, but too cold and spooky outside for a good, long gaze. I am probably missing out on some cool decorations too.

Yet, I’m still in the spirit. I just watched an old favorite movie a bit earlier, starring Vincent Price and Diana Rigg, Theater of Blood. Vincent Price plays a bitter Shakespearean actor, not taking kindly to his disrespectful critics. He surprises each with a creative trap, that involves the best (and worst) of his Shakespeare plays. Lots of fun, and very over the top. You can watch a decent copy of the full movie on Youtube…

I hope you are all having a safe and Happy Halloween. I hope next year, with the pandemic being a lesser concern, that we can make up for the lost socialness this fun day brings. Maybe enjoy some more more movies and a moonlit walk together.

Orion T

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

Everything is familiar, and everything is strange

“Walking through a deserted city in the hours before dawn is sobering way beyond the undoing of the effects of alcohol. Every thing is familiar, and everything is strange. It’s as if you are the only survivor of some mysterious calamity which has emptied the place of its population, and yet you know that behind the shuttered and curtained windows people lie sleeping in their tens of thousands, and all their joys and disasters lie sleeping too. It makes you think of your own life, usually suspended at that hour, and how you are passing through it as if in a dream. Reality seems very unreal.”

― author James Robertson, The Testament of Gideon Mack

The picture above is from a late night walk through the University of Washington’s lovely center around the Drumheller Fountain.

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.

The beauty of a Pacific Northwest escape, to Vashon Island

It’s been a while, almost too long.

That, for the writing and telling of the better parts of my life, lately long overshadowed by the constant darker shades of pandemic restrictions, the mental weardown of my social circles, and the frustration off the latest news reports. Much of that darkness has been coiled with the confines of the pandemic and partial shutdowns. I spent much time not by traveling or seeing what’s new in my neighborhood, but through the video chats, gaming, long text sessions with distant friends. My work life is mixed, with short assignments, freelance,and straight hustling.

But eventually, I must take time out. I must breathe out in the open, ruminate, refresh, energize in a setting that fits as an escape. So with some very good friends, I took that time and made the best of that plan, by travel to somewhere distant, but not too far.

I returned to Vashon Island, a solid livable mass of 80.8 square miles (209.3 km) to near West Seattle within the beautiful waterways of Puget Sound. The population is a little over 10,000 locals. Less than an hour from home, and then an hour at most through the Vashon Island Ferry from the Fauntleroy Terminal.

I have much to say about Vashon Island, its current state with locals and adaptation to the global pandemic. I also made some new discoveries, and had a lot of fun with companions. Spoiler…I recommend it for anyone that’s Covid 19 conscience, and wants to visit a place that is also that.

I will share more on that experience very soon. In the meantime, just enjoy these capture moments of just getting there…

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.

The 2020 National Protest, Part 1 – Hot time for justice and reform, long overdue

Over two weeks, the latest protest for civil injustice reaches national (and heading global) proportions, yet also grown for decades in the making. We look outside, turn on the news, take part in the conversation because the air is a bit tenser. That time for civilization to stand by and do nothing is up.

On the surface, this latest civil unrest ignited by a horrific image from Minneapolis, a White police officer using his knee to crush the neck of a Black man for eight minutes and 46 seconds, depriving him of his right to live. On the ground pleading to breathe, George Floyd was a father, a mentor, a working every-man who also made terrible decisions. He then turned his life around, with new dreams while recently losing his job to the ongoing pandemic. Such details and more, are additives to the humane treatment that George Floyd and anyone else deserves.

Yet George Floyd had no chance, but every right to live as other officers stood by and did nothing. And,, so did much of the current police system passing this off as a mere incident, reducing the public call to action. The Minneapolis Police Department attempted to change the narrative, while more details and outside camera footage showed an apparent contradiction. Each disciplinary action felt like minimal for what appeared to be an execution, as more information mounted. This overall system felt cold to the growing public outcry.

Yet, new heat developed among the citizens of Minneapolis, spread through news and social media to every corner of the U.S nation. A spark to the growing Black Lives Matter movement, and too many similar incidents of police brutality and injustice through the previous decade. The systemic racism that leads to far too many events where people of color are unfairly targeted and mistreated for minor or made-up offenses. Then, made to suffer from a lack of due process where a law enforcement officer may use some lousy excuse to become judge, jury, and executioner.

Now, the movement fires up, filled combinations of pent-up fury and frustration with hope and hopelessness for the future. Many give up on not just the police as a force that is supposed to “serve and protect,” but a growing world that leaves the needs of the poor, the minorities, the less privileged…cold.

I use temperature as a metaphorical measure because nothing is instantly hot or cold. There are conditions that lead to growing extremes. History is full of moments that have raised the temperature of the growing frustration of a system that seems to give little effort to change.

Many historians would agree, the earliest racially pushed policing stemmed from the pre-civil war era. Slavery patrols were common in White, European descent dominant small towns and rural areas, organized to keep a lookout and control of Black slaves. Eventually, slavery was abolished, but the mentality of racial control remained through harassment, terrorism continued through the growing sectors of law enforcement.

Racial segregation laws, also known as Jim Crow laws (the term derived from a popular racist caricature in the late 1920s of Blacks), were eventually considered legal in South area regions, pushed a very unequal imbalance for Blacks to be kept social and economically disadvantaged and many dominant White areas. Being that African Americans were on the losing end of the Jim Crow era and treated inhumanly, White police officers identifying (and often working with) White supremacist groups including the KKK), would be widespread as typical enforcers. Eventually, those laws were ended, as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 passed. Yet still, it took a heavy law enforcement in many areas to keep those laws moving.

Such attitudes through many law enforcement areas, did not change overnight. The resentment from many African Americans who experienced the social damage of Jim Crow laws grew, especially among those who migrated westward to the Pacific States, remained.

On August 11, 1965, in the Watts district of Los Angeles, a police officer pulled over Marquette Frye, a young African-American with a troubled past resulting in bad personal decisions, for drunk driving. He would walk in a drunken state to return with his mother to claim help claim the vehicle being towed. Eyewitnesses (a slowly growing crowd of locals) say she handled the situation well, while rightfully scolding her son for drunk-driving. Frye became agitated according to a police report, where he angrily defied threats of jail and car towed away. Patrol officers present tried to handcuff Marquette Frye, leading to a worried mother defending the life of her son in police custody, jumped to the officer, leading to violent escalation. The officer struck his baton to the head of Marquette Frye, bleeding as they both were under arrest,

The present local crowd grew frustrated and angry, also responding to some spreading incorrect rumors (for now, but there was only an official report to go by at this point). But even so, the racial tensions combined with economic inequality and housing discrimination added to the reputation of the Los Angeles police force, notorious among them for its recruitment of white individuals from the South U.S regions, an area well known for its systematic and very open racist community standards. Protests grew, and so did the anger.

The 1965 Watts Riots followed, leaving many buildings burned and places looted. While the police arrived to slow down the civil unrest, many were quick to use violent methods of crowd control. It didn’t help that Police Chief William Parker described the rioters as “monkeys in the zoo.” 34 people ended up dead and 1,032 injured. Of those who died, 23 killed by LAPD officers.

More frustration grew and spread from police reaction, mixing the protests and riots together.

Another early yet major and more substantial incident of police brutality was on the evening of July 12, 1967, in Newark, New Jersey, where two white police officers pulled over black cab driver, John William Smith, for an apparent traffic stop. They arrested and severely beat Smith claiming resistance and “insulting remarks.” Smith remained in his holding cell of the local precinct until further injuries lead to hospital placement.

The incident sparked protest from an area where African Americans were economically disadvantaged, adding anger to frustration resulting in a wide range of reactions. Rising tensions resulted in a quickly organized peaceful protest on that police station. But hell broke loose, as a riot instigated by a few angry citizens, leading to more police brutality, unnecessary and vicious. 26 people died, and countless injured, including Joe Bass Jr, a 12-year boy injured from a police gunshot. A photo of his bloodied body appeared on the cover of the July 1967 issue Life Magazine. It’s haunting, violently graphic, and you can click here if curious (warning, very graphic)

It’s what we see with out own eyes that makes the biggest difference. With the advent of media technology, so shall come the mounting resentment as pictures and video captured of unnecessary police brutality built upon legitimacy of the problem.

So why the rioting when there involves incidents of police brutality? I think Dr. Martin Luther King had the best response in a 1967 interview with CBS’ Mike Wallace in which he responded to a question regarding on minority charged vandalism and looting. “And I contend that the cry of ‘black power’ is, at bottom, a reaction to the reluctance of white power to make the kind of changes necessary to make justice a reality for the Negro,” King said. “I think that we’ve got to see that a riot is the language of the unheard. And, what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the economic plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years.”

Adding oppressing police who abuse their power, maddens the situation for the disadvantaged. Sure, a riot is not justification. It is merely a result for many involved who I think, have given up on a system that works for them.

And so forth, there continued other incidents of police brutality, but none quite so apparent until the night of March 3rd, 1991 in Los Angeles from the balcony of local citizen George Holliday. He recorded by video cam, construction worker and also African American Rodney King, beaten horribly by a group LAPD officers who pulled initially pulled him over for drunk driving after a short chase.

And, that’s where I leave pause for a moment, looking back to a more personal experience. I was in Los Angeles at the time, with much to share the civil unrest and riots that followed. There is more to bring up from personal experience, because my part among so many others are just a contribution to the connected buildup of today.

Which is now, a very hot time.

Orion T

The top picture I took from the recent protest in Seattle, currently more focused now in the Capitol Hill district. More on that with more pictures, coming up.

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