"There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn't mind who gets the credit." - President Ronald Reagan.

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Sunday, October 4, 2015

Hilton Opens Hotel At Odaiba

Above, a view of Odaiba from Mori Tower's Tokyo City View. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

For those of you who prefer to stay at Hilton hotels while on vacation overseas or domestically, the Hilton Worldwide and Hilton Hotels & Resorts has good news for you!

According to Japan Today:
TOKYO/MCLEAN, Va —Hilton Worldwide and Hilton Hotels & Resorts have announced the opening of the Hilton Tokyo Odaiba. The property is Hilton Worldwide’s 12th hotel in Japan, and the sixth in the Kanto region alongside Hilton Tokyo, Conrad Tokyo, Hilton Odawara Resort & Spa, Hilton Tokyo Bay and Hilton Narita.
To read more, go here

Saturday, October 3, 2015

New License Plate Frame

My customized license plate frame that I ordered for the motorhome has arrived and I just finished putting it on:

Gun-Free Zones

Japan 2015 Planning Is Proceeding Well

Above, Atami Harbor with the hilltop Atami Castle in the background. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

One nice thing about going to Japan in the early autumn is that I won't have to worry about being stuck in a train car in Chiba Prefecture for 16 hours due to snow.

Last year, as you'll recall, I didn't reach my Ueno area hotel room until 22 hours had elapsed since I landed at Narita International Airport. The February 8, 2014 snowstorm was one of the heaviest in years to strike Japan. I just happened to arrive when two big storms did.

I've been to Japan twice in the autumn (2001 and 2005) and the worst weather I had to contend with were just some rainstorms. Otherwise, the weather had been good.

The dinner party I am throwing in Tokyo is proceeding nicely. Several confirmations have been received and I am just waiting for a few more.

My preferred hotel is the Hotel Asia Center of Japan, but just like last year, there were no rooms available. This time, it is due to some renovations that are currently taking place. As a result, I stayed at the Tsukuba Hotel in Ueno.

This time, I decided to try out a different hotel that is located in the Asakusa section of Tokyo. I am looking forward to it.

Most of my time will be in Tokyo and Osaka/Kyoto on this trip. One overnight stay will be at a ryokan onsen hotel in Atami. The room will have a private open-air bath. I am looking forward to that along with their meals.

And, a quick stop in Nagoya while en route to Osaka is also planned. All this is for the updated edition of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan.

Poll Finds Japanese See Foreign Tourism A Boom To Economy

Above, Shibuya Crossing. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

A recent government poll of Japanese citizens have found that a majority believe that increased tourism will be a boom to the economy. However, some see increases in "culture clashes" as a result of higher numbers of foreign tourists.

According to the Japan Times:
A government opinion poll showed Thursday that 65.4 percent of people expect benefits for the economy from rising numbers of foreign tourists. 
Fifty percent said they thought regional economies would benefit, while 46.3 percent said they expect it will contribute to mutual understanding between Japanese and foreigners. Multiple answers were allowed. 
The Cabinet Office survey was conducted as part of the government’s efforts to make Japan what it calls a “tourism-oriented” nation.
 25.5% of those polled cited a culture clash.

To read more, go here.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Terri's Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Above, Terri and Ken Hulsey.

Those of you who read this blog have noticed that I've mentioned Ken Hulsey on occasion.

Ken runs the Monster Island News blog, of which I am a contributor. He has been a great source for pretty much everything otaku. He has been a great friend to me and "puts up with" my occasional pearls of wisdom on the Monster Island News blog.

Unfortunately, Ken's wife suffered an injury at work that has caused a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) several months ago.

I'll let Ken explain it:
Not everyone is blessed so late in life with the gift of finding their soulmate, but I was. I met Terri in 2011, we became friends through our mutal love of old movies on Facebook. Our friendship blossomed into love and in 2012 Terri moved to California so we could begin a new life together. God has been good to us and has blessed our relationship so we began to make plans to move back to NC and get married, but on March 3, 2015 Terri was injured at work. She suffered a TBI and is totally disabled.Terri requires daily medication and monthly trips to a neurologist which is an hour away from our home. It has been hard on her to deal with her 'new normal'. When our car 'died' the distress of missing doctors appointments and the fear that I would lose my job without transportation, our main source of income, began to set in and exacerbate her symptoms. I love her with all of my heart and my sole goal is, through the help of the doctors and therapists, to help her recover and have the best quality of life she can have.
An account has been set up at GoFundMe.com to raise money to help out the Hulseys. I made a contribution today that brought their total to the $500 threshold required to get their fundraiser on GoFundMe.com pages.

If you would like to help Ken and Terri, any amount is appreciated, go here.

Here's your chance to help out ONE OF US!

The Rise and Fall and Rise (Maybe) of Santa's Village

Above, Santa's Village. Image: Google Maps.

Before 1998, the year that it closed down, Santa's Village near Lake Arrowhead in the San Bernardino Mountains was a Southern California fixture.

Santa's Village originally opened about a couple of months before Disneyland in 1955. It was the first of three franchised amusement parks. It was one of California's biggest tourist attractions. Where else can family head up to the mountains to an amusement park with rides, a monorail and, of course, Santa Claus?

Unfortunately, reduced attendance and shortfalls in revenue forced the park to close in 1998. Since then, it was used as a storage facility and many of its fixtures (such as giant mushrooms) were auctioned off.

I had never been to Santa's Village. The closest I came to it was a drive-by while en route to a Boy Scout camp at Lake Arrowhead in 1966.

The property was sold in 2014 and the new developer plans to re-open Santa's Village as Skypark at Santa's Village in late 2016 (the original plan was to re-open it this past August 1). However, we are in a not-too-friendly-to-business state and the project is mired in bureaucratic red tape (such as Environmental Impact Reports).

Remarkably, despite being closed for 17 years, Santa Village's buildings are in pretty good shape. Some have been repaired, repainted and new roofing installed.

Once opened (we hope), Skypark at Santa's Village will boast Zip lines, bike and hiking trails, campground, monorail, fly-fishing, playgrounds, restaurants, retail and other attractions. RVers with young children will like taking their RVs to the planned campground for a weekend of fun in the mountain air.

But, I am not holding my breath as it seems that California state politicians and bureaucrats would rather kill off job-producing projects like this than letting them proceed. But, a recent hearing showed that there is a lot of public support for the project. Keep your fingers crossed!

To see the official website for Skypark at Santa's Village, go here.

Earl Scheib Paint & Body

Earl Scheib Auto Paint & Body has been around as far as I can remember. I remember those Scheib ads (with the man himself) declaring, "I can paint any car for$29.95!" His price was even cheaper than that (as you'll see below).

I've never used Scheib for any paint or body work (I was never impressed with their paint jobs and I had only one occasion where I repainted a car).

Well, those prices have since gone up over the years.

Here's three ads from Scheib:

Earl Scheib, the company founder, died in 1992 and the company ceased nationwide operations in 2010. There are some shops still in operation in Southern California.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Foreign Tourists Flocking To Movie Locations

Above, Shibuya Crossing, used in kaiju and non-kaiju movies. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

When I saw the headline of a new article in the Yomiuri Shimbun, "Foreign Tourists Flocking To Film Locations", I initially had a thought that some Godzilla movie locations may be included in it.

Not so.

The movie locations foreign tourists are flocking to are non-kaiju-related and almost none are familiar to me.

The article begins with:
One after another, locations in Japan including a cape, a remote island, a temple and a baseball stadium have been appearing in overseas films. The structures and scenery are located not only in internationally famous cities such as Tokyo and Kyoto but also in regional cities and towns across the nation. Thanks to this trend, foreign tourists’ destinations are becoming diversified.
It is sometimes easy to forget that there are other movies and genres (including anime) that uses locations in Japan. These also draw visitors of those films and genres.

Maybe a follow-up article will appear after the new Shin Godzilla (now in production) by Toho is released and people may want to visit that movie's locations.

For those seeking information on kaiju-related movie locations, The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan is filling that need.

To read more, go here.

USS Ronald Reagan Now Calling Yokosuka Home

Japan has a new American resident who arrived in Yokosuka to take up residency.

According to the Mainichi Shimbun:
YOKOSUKA, Japan (AP) -- The American nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan docked at its new home in Japan's Yokosuka naval port Thursday just as Tokyo tries to deepen defense ties with the U.S. under new security laws that expand the role of Japan's military. 
The warship's arrival received a warm welcome from Japanese officials because of its role in disaster relief after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster as part of the U.S. government's "tomodachi," or friends, project.
Perhaps the USS Ronald Reagan will be a new tourist attraction (at least from a distance) for the Yokosuka area along with the Godzilla slide.

To read more, go here

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Watching TV With A Friend

Amber sent this picture from her smartphone of Siren and I while watching television. This was typical of us.

Six Great Places To Visit On A Japan Rail Pass This Autumn Or At Any Time

Above, the pagoda at Kyoto's Kiyomizu-dera. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Ideas for what, when, where and how to see Japan seems to come from many quarters.

The latest is from the South China Morning Post from Hong Kong. They have posted an article on what six places to see in Japan in two weeks on a JR Rail Pass, from Hokkaido on down to Kyushu during the autumn months.

They begin with:
There’s a lot you can see in two weeks from the comfort of a train seat – and what’s more it’s an efficient, easy, and affordable way to see the country’s four main islands.
To read what they recommend, go here.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Remembering Jack

Above, Supervisor Mike Antonovich and Jack Larson at the "Superman Week"
ceremony on July 10, 2001. Photo courtesy of the office of Supervisor Antonovich.

Chris Brockow has several interviews, including one from yours truly, on memories of Jack Larson posted at The Adventures Continue website (that's run by Jim Nolt).

If you are a fan of Jack or of the Adventures of Superman television show, it is well worth a read.

To read the interviews, go here.

After Siren

The apartment is strangely quiet.

Although Siren had been ill for a little over a month, it seems very different that she is not here. She was my shadow and lap cat whenever I would watch television. She was a great companion and had a great personality. I could not have asked for a better cat.

She was born in my parents' garage in Hawthorne on Fourth of July 1997. She was sickly in the beginning. But Amber chose her and we nursed to health. She was even a playful kitten when she was sickly. She stayed a playful cat even when she got older.

Usually, when I got up in the morning or home from work, Siren would head to the kitchen to be fed and I would give her her medication. This morning, when I got up to heat up some coffee and prepare her food, she didn't come out to the kitchen. I didn't see her. I noticed that the vertical blinds behind a bookcase were a little askew. Siren would sometimes lie there. I went over and noticed that she was not moving and her eyes were open, she appeared to have died during the night. I immediately texted Amber.

When I cleared everything away to get to Siren, I found that she had been dead for some time. Amber called and I told her and she then called the vet to arrange for me to bring Siren's body there.

When we brought her in to the vet to be checked last week, I thought that they would recommend putting her to sleep. She didn't seem to be improving. They found that she had a mass in her chest area and thought maybe it had something to do with her lymph nodes (or even lymphoma). But, they didn't recommend putting her to sleep and wanted to try a different medication as she was stable.

Amber gave her medication (by injection) last evening. She was glad to have been able to see her for one last time.

Despite all, Siren still ate like a horse, even though she didn't gain weight.

It has become evident to me that when a cat gets old, they start dropping weight. Buttons, who died four years ago, was always fat, but she shed weight several months before she died. It seems to be a tell-tale sign that the end is not in the too distant future.

Should I get another cat? I haven't yet decided. While I like the company of a pet, by not having one means I don't have to adjust my life around the care of an animal. It takes responsibility to be a pet-owner. I will probably decide after the Japan trip on whether or not to get another cat. My age is a major consideration.

Besides the enjoyment of having a pet, another reason to consider getting one is there are so many who need homes. There are a couple of kittens at the vet's office that are up for adoption. If I do get another cat, it would be from there or from a shelter.

If I do get another cat, I'll have to get it used to traveling in a motorhome. Siren was too old to get her used to traveling. I considered taking her with us to Yellowstone, but the vet recommended not taking her due to her age (18). A new cat will have to get used to having a harness on and walking with a leash.

Much as I like the personalities of male cats, they tend to spray around the house if they are kept indoors. Buttons and Siren were totally indoor female cats. So if I get another cat, it will be another female.

If the Nomadic Fanatic can live and travel in a motorhome with a cat, I guess I can too. I just have to make up my mind.

Siren, July 4, 1997 - September 29, 2015

Good Sam and Coast To Coast Resorts

Over 26 years ago, my ex-wife and I would occasionally accept invitations from Coast To Coast Resorts for free three days, two-night camping at one of their resorts. We camped in either the tent trailer or micro-mini motorhome. All we had to do was to attend a 90-minute presentation on their membership campground programs. Some of the presentations were laid-back and some were high pressure. But, after enduring the presentations, we still had the free camping (one time was during the L.A. Riots following the Rodney King verdict) and came away with a gift (one of which was a propane barbecue).

We thought that the memberships were too pricey and declined. But, we had to admit, their campgrounds were first-class (generally-speaking).

Today I received the following email from Coast To Coast Resorts (part of it below):

You're invited to check out Coast to Coast Resorts!View in your browser.

What I found interesting is that Coast To Coast Resorts is a part of the Good Sam "family of companies". Note the Good Sam face in the Coast To Coast logo. I am currently a member of the Good Sam Club.

Since I have been out of the RVing loop for 25 years, I found it interesting to see that Coast To Coast Resorts is affiliated with the Good Sam Club. Will wonders ever cease? I guess I was away too long.


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