Wednesday, July 18, 2018
|Above, the Godzilla mural at Toho Studios. Photo by Armand Vaquer.|
The numbers of foreign visitors to Japan are increasing year-by-year. 2018 is continuing with that trend.
The Mainichi reported:
TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The estimated number of foreign visitors to Japan in January to June rose 15.6 percent from a year earlier to 15.89 million, a record for the six-month period, the Japan Tourism Agency said Wednesday.
If the pace of increase is maintained, the annual figure will top 30 million for the first time. The government aims to attract 40 million foreign visitors in 2020 when Tokyo hosts the Olympics and Paralympics.
To read more, go here.
|Above, the apartment building where Rebecca Schaeffer lived and died. Photo by Armand Vaquer.|
A few years ago, my daughter treated me to a tour of the seamy side of Hollywood called "The Dearly Departed Tour".
The tour consisted of stops at places in and around Hollywood where deaths (murder and otherwise) of celebrites took place along with a stop at the Westwood Cemetery.
One of the stops was at the apartment where actress Rebecca Schaeffer was murdered. I remember this case well.
|Above, the doorway where Robert John Bardo shot Rebecca Schaeffer. Photo by Armand Vaquer.|
Fox News has reported that Schaeffer's mother had put on a one-woman show on her daughter's murder.
Danna Schaeffer received the worst phone call of her life on July 18, 1989.
Her daughter, 21-year-old actress Rebecca Schaeffer, was fatally shot in the heart by Robert John Bardo in the doorway of her apartment. The crazed stalker, a 19-year-old, had paid a private investigator to obtain Schaeffer's home address in West Hollywood.
Last year, Danna was compelled to bring her family’s tragic tale to the stage with a one-woman show, titled “You in Midair.”
Danna told Fox News she wouldn’t exactly call the writing process therapeutic, but she was ready to finally share her story.Bardo was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
There's another reason this case stands out in my mind. I was a liability/casualty insurance adjuster at the time, the resulting California law, the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act, which prevents the Department of Motor Vehicles from releasing private addresses, somewhat hindered our ability to run license plates on vehicles in auto claims.
To read more, go here.
Tuesday, July 17, 2018
|Above, the base of Lower Yosemite Fall. Photo by Armand Vaquer.|
A few months ago, a Starbucks opened in Yosemite National Park. Some hailed it, while others expressed their displeasure. A petition opposing it garnered 27,000 signatures.
Now, the park is rethinking things.
According to Capital Public Radio:
Yosemite Falls is perhaps one of the most iconic spots the park. The waterfall cascades down the mountain — twice. It’s majestic. But across the street is the Yosemite Valley Lodge, and inside is a cafe opened earlier this year that epitomizes corporate America.
“Hello, welcome to Starbucks.”
That’s how a barista welcomed me as I approached the counter of Yosemite’s first Starbucks. It’s next to the food court here, and while there’s no logo on the outside, inside it smells and looks very familiar. I’ve had a range of emotions about a chain opening up — but that didn’t stop me from ordering an iced vanilla latte.
Commercialization is changing Yosemite. More than four million people visit the park every year, and its identity is changing — some say not always for the better. How can we share Yosemite with the world while not ruining it?
The whole idea of a Starbucks made some people really mad. “I don’t feel that you should drive to Yosemite and say, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m going to go get a latte,’” said Fresno resident Kristy Page.
To read more, go here.
|Above, The Beast at the Tee Pee Trading Post and Smoke Shop in Lupton, Arizona. Photo by Armand Vaquer.|
The good ol' monsoon season continues on in New Mexico.
This morning, I headed off in The Beast (so I can listen to Rush Limbaugh as the Mustang's radio has a loose wire) to Lupton, Arizona to the Tee Pee Smoke Shop to pick up some cigars.
It was cloudy out and I noticed that water was flowing in arroyos, streams and the Rio Puerco River. They had been pretty dry for months.
After conducting my business at the Tee Pee, I headed back home.
Along the way, I noticed an enormous black cloud heading in the direction of Jamestown. I could see it from Gallup.
|Above, today's approaching storm cloud. Photo by Armand Vaquer.|
After getting off the freeway, I stopped and took the above photo of the cloud.
Within an hour, Jamestown was hit with lightning, thunder and rain.
Nothing like monsoon season in New Mexico!
The Looney Left Report
The media, Democrat Party, some squishy Republicans have been besides themselves over the Helsinki press conference of President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Some are even calling Trump a traitor for not backing the intelligence community. This is funny (as well as ironic) as these are the same people who have been engaging in sedition against Trump for the past year and a half.
Trump today said he misspoke when he said:
"My people came to me...they said they think it's Russia. I have President Putin, he just said it's not Russia. I will say this: I don't see any reason why it would be" Russia.
"The sentence should have been 'I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be' Russia."
Still why should he trust some in the intelligence community? Many of them are Obama holdovers and devoted leftists.
Rush Limbaugh said this today:
What rational human being would think he could trust these people? What rational human being would think he could trust Andrew McCabe, James Comey, Peter Strzok, or any of that crowd, Nellie Ohr, her husband, Bruce Ohr, what rational person, the subject of a search-and-destroy campaign for two years, would then turn around and trust these people to have his best interests at heart?
If you’re Donald Trump and you know that the entirety of the Washington establishment has been trying to undermine and sabotage your presidency, your election and your transition, and that they have been singularly trying to get you thrown out of office and have your election ruled invalid, why in the world would you trust any of them? That’s irrational!
It is perfectly sensible for Donald Trump not to trust these people. These are all people that worked for Barack Hussein Obama. I’m sure Trump has intelligence people in his administration that he trusts. I’m sure by now after a year and a half Trump has a group of security advisers — NSA, who knows where they are — but that he trusts them.
But why should he trust any of these people, from a former CIA member here to the former DIA member there that’s been all over cable news saying Donald Trump is a wretched example of humanity, why should Donald Trump trust any of them, and why should Donald Trump say even nice things about them?
Besides irrational, these people have been engaging in sedition. Also, it is phony outrage.
As Rush pointed out:
Ladies and gentlemen, the Democrat Party in this country used to sleep overnight with Soviets and Russians. They used to be in bed with each other against Ronald Reagan. The idea that the Democrats are outraged that somebody would not treat Vladimir Putin as an enemy of America is just simply silly! It wasn’t that long ago where the Democrat Party hated the CIA, hated the intelligence community, and loved Soviet, and Cuban, and Chinese communists!
Now all of a sudden, the Democrat Party loves the intelligence community and hates the Russians? Come on, folks. It’s all made up! That’s why it’s unrealistic. They’re exaggerating it. None of this is real. There isn’t any real outrage. It’s all faux and manufactured, and that’s why they’re taking it over the top. That’s why it appears unhinged and hysterical, because it is! It’s a bunch of untrained actors trying to act the part, and they’re goin’ way overboard.
|Above, the other acre. Photo by Armand Vaquer.|
It is apparent that we had a good rain last night in Jamestown, New Mexico.
The deck and patio furniture were wet.
I took a walk over to my second acre at Rancho Mono Volador and the ground was very wet.
Yesterday, when we mowed the area in preparation for the steel garage for The Beast, the ground was dry. It looked drier than the yard around the house.
Not so today!
I must have slept through the rainstorm as I didn't hear a thing.
|Above, yours truly at the Roswell sign. Photo by Jess.|
I don't know why I didn't think of this before. But looking at some of my Roswell trip photos with me in a Clamper red shirt got the cogs turning.
I posted this at the E Clampus Vitus Facebook page:
Roswell would be an ideal place for a clampout. We can erect a plaque either in town or (better yet) at the crash site. New Mexico is Lost Dutchman Chapter's territory. There are plenty of ranches in the area for clamp-sites.
If we can find some friendly rancher to allow the Lost Dutchman Chapter to use his land for a clampsite, and get permission to erect a plaque, this would be one interesting event.
At this time, my posting at the ECV Facebook page has 72 likes. It looks like the brethren are in favor of a Roswell clampout.
Monday, July 16, 2018
|Above, The Narrows in Zion National Park. Photo by Armand Vaquer.|
While the rainfall from monsoon season is welcome here in Jamestown, New Mexico, they wreaked havoc in Zion National Park last week. Several popular trails were severely damaged.
According to Good4Utah:
ZION NATIONAL PARK (News4Utah)- Clean up continues in Zion National Park after a flood swept through the area last week, causing mudslides and rockfalls.
Officials at the park say several popular trails remain closed Monday. Including Angels Landing, Kayenta, Upper Emerald Pools, and West Rim from the Grotto to Cabin Springs.
Shuttles are running as normal. They will not be visiting the Grotto Shuttle Stop.
To read more, go here.
|Above, Gerry getting started with the mowing. Photo by Armand Vaquer.|
The area in my second acre where the RV garage is to be erected was prepared today.
My neighbor, Gerry, was kind enough to bring over his mower to mow the grass and weeds in the spot I selected to place the RV garage.
|Above, after the mowing and flagging. Photo by Armand Vaquer.|
It took only a few minutes to do since he has a riding mower.
After he was done, I marked off the area with stake flags. The area wasn't marked precisely, but it is good enough for the workers to know where and how the garage will be erected.
|Above, where The Beast is currently parked and the marked area. Note the storm clouds. Photo by Armand Vaquer.|
I was told that the garage should be erected this week, hopefully by Friday.
It is a good thing we got done when we did. About 25 minutes after the mowing and flagging were done, another thunderstorm rolled in and cut loose.
|Above, La Mesa RV in Albuquerque. Photo by Armand Vaquer.|
Last week, I had to take Jess to the Albuquerque Airport for her return home. I stayed overnight at the Route 66 RV Resort so that I could bring The Beast in for service at the La Mesa RV dealership a few miles away.
I had set an appointment for service two weeks prior for 11:00. I got there a little big early, when worked out great as another customer was late for his appointment.
After checking in with Monte, I waited in their waiting area near the service counter. It consists of a number of small tables and chairs with free Wi-Fi. They have free water, coffee and popcorn for waiting customers. They also have a small supply store near the waiting area.
It is well-known by RV enthusiasts that some RV dealers refuse to service RVs of people who hadn't bought their rigs at that dealership or they are put at the end of line in favor their purchasers. Fortunately for me, I bought The Beast at the San Diego La Mesa RV, so I am considered a purchaser at their Albuquerque location and I am in their database.
|Above, the Albuquerque Camping World on Route 66. Photo by Armand Vaquer.|
The service work was done within two hours after my arrival and I plan on going back next month to fix a problem with the awning (a leaning telephone pole "rubbed" against the awning as I was parallel parking a few years ago and I didn't see it, and that part of the awning is now separating a little thanks to the wind). The work didn't cost an arm and a leg, for which I am grateful.
Before going to La Mesa RV, I stopped in at the nearby (about a half mile away on Route 66) Camping World to browse and pick up a couple of things. The store is nicely laid out and merchandise is easy to find.
The U.S. dollar appears to be on the upswing against the Japanese yen in Tokyo trading in recent weeks. This is good news for American tourists to Japan.
Jiji Press reported:
Tokyo, July 13 (Jiji Press)--The dollar was firmer above 112.70 yen in Tokyo trading late Friday due mainly to the strength of the U.S. economy.
At 5 p.m., the dollar stood at 112.78-78 yen, up from 112.32-32 yen at the same time on Thursday.
To read more, go here.
Sunday, July 15, 2018
|Above, Lassen Peak. Photo by Armand Vaquer.|
Lassen Peak in Northern California erupted last 100 years ago. But it could erupt again, but probably not in our lifetime.
I visited Lassen Volcanic National Park last year during my Great American Eclipse trip.
An article on Lassen Peak has been posted by the Plumas County News.
It’s not a matter of if the area around Lassen Volcanic Center will erupt in the future, but when.
That’s according to Dr. Michael Clynne, research geologist, and the most knowledgeable scientist on the Lassen Volcanic National Park area. “I’m the point person,” he said in a recent interview.
That doesn’t mean Clynne is encouraging residents to pack their bags or plan evacuation routes immediately. Although volcanic activity is somewhat unpredictable, scientists who watch volcanoes distinguish between earth time and human time. What could mean soon in earth time might be 1,000 years, a long time in terms of the human race.
New interest in potential activity at some of the Pacific coastal states’ volcanoes arose with the continuing activity at Hawaii’s Kilauea Volcano and more recent eruptions at the Fuego Volcano in Guatemala.
Three California volcanoes, including Mt. Shasta and Lassen Peak (also known as Mt. Lassen), and Long Valley Caldera near Mammoth, are listed at very high threat potential, according to scientists at the California Volcano Observatory (CalVO) in San Jose. CalVO is part of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Volcano Hazards Program, where Clynne is based.
These three volcanoes are part of an 800-mile stretch of the West Coast, including California, which contains 13 volcanoes.
|Above, Mount Shasta in Northern California. Photo by Armand Vaquer.|
To read more, go here.
|Above, the storm clouds dumping rain on the three mesas across the valley. Photo by Armand Vaquer.|
The storm clouds are back in Jamestown.
Last night was great for fans of lightning storms (like me). There were plenty of lightning flashes last night over the mesas across the valley.
|Above, another view of the three mesas. Photo by Armand Vaquer.|
Today, the storm clouds are just now building up. Maybe, if we're lucky, we'll get a great light show tonight.
|Above, a view from the deck of the front yard. Photo by Armand Vaquer.|
I snapped a few photos of the clouds over the mesas a few minutes ago.
Gotta love monsoon season!
|Above, Harajuku Station. Photo by Armand Vaquer.|
The Harajuku section of Tokyo hasn't appeared in any kaiju eiga movies (as far as I know), but it is still a fun place to browse around in.
If you happen to find yourself in Tokyo with nothing to do or running low on cash, Tokyo Cheapo has a list of ten things to see and do in Harajuku that are free or cost very little.
|Above, Spider-Man climbing the side of a Harajuku building. Photo by Armand Vaquer.|
They begin with:
When I first moved to Tokyo, I was living on ¥1,000 a day while renting half a room in the cheapest-of-cheap share houses. I didn’t care though—this is one of those special few cosmopolitan cities where you can experience the best of it for free, if you know where to look. With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of low-cost and free things to do in Harajuku—pop culture hub and stomping ground of Tokyo’s most fashionable trendsetters.
To read more, go here.
Saturday, July 14, 2018
|Above, the selected frame style. Photo by Armand Vaquer.|
Today, a frame style had been selected for the "Three Mesas" painting. The process in selecting a frame didn't take quite as long as when a frame was picked for the portrait painting two years ago. It took us two and a half hours to do.
|Above, the frame sample on another corner. Photo by Armand Vaquer.|
We narrowed it down to my original first choice, a "scoop" style frame in pecan, and a pecan frame that is wider.
Along with Asya and I, the store owner and Asya's dad also thought the wider pecan frame looked better. (Yes, we almost got everybody involved!) In some views, it added more weight, or gravitas, to the painting.
|Above, another view with the frame sample. Photo by Armand Vaquer.|
Asya and I had a live video chat set up through WhatsApp, which was easy to do. She was able to talk and see the different frame styles in real time from St. Petersburg, Russia. I was at the frame shop in Gallup, New Mexico.
All in all, the selection process took about 35 or so minutes.
|Above, winter in Jamestown. Photo by Armand Vaquer.|
In seeing my pictures of last evening's downpours, a friend marveled, "Now I understand why trees can make it in such an otherwise arid place."
Which led me to check on the climate of the area. Since Jamestown is 17 miles east of Gallup, New Mexico (and roughly the same elevation), Wikipedia has this to say about Gallup's climate:
Gallup, like most of the interior Mountain West, has a cool semi-arid climate (Köppen BSk). The summers are hot during the day, but the high altitude and low humidity means that nights remain distinctly cool: as late as July 2 of 1997 the temperature fell to 31 °F (−1 °C). Despite the large diurnal temperature range, most rain falls in the summer from afternoon thunderstorms. Despite the dry atmosphere, hot sun and an average of only 7.4 days with maxima below 32 °F (0 °C), winter nights are so cold snow is common and sometimes heavy: the maximum in a month is 29.10 inches (0.74 m) in December 1992 and the most in a year 65.10 inches (1.65 m) between July 1990 and June 1991. Actual snow cover, with the hot sun at Gallup’s altitude, however, has never exceeded 13.1 inches (0.33 m), and for no day averages over 3.5 inches (0.089 m).
|Above, spring in Jamestown. Photo by Armand Vaquer.|
A neighbor used a GPS elevation device to see what our elevation is, he found that we are at exactly 7,000 feet. Our homes are roughly 300 feet higher than the Flying J down in the valley.
|Above, summer in Jamestown. Photo by Armand Vaquer.|
For more, go here.
|Above, the storm was directly overhead. Photo by Armand Vaquer.|
It was a good thing that I barbecued my t-bone steak when I did, because about 45 minutes after finishing dinner, a thunderstorm rolled into the area and cut loose with downpours, lightning and thunderclaps for hours.
|Above, the yard getting well watered during a downpour. Photo by Armand Vaquer.|
Actually, I enjoyed the "light show" the lightning provided. Sierra didn't appreciate it at all.
The water from the storm was welcome in the area as the winter did not provide much water. Drought conditions exist.
|Above, watching The Quiet Man during a downpour. Photo by Armand Vaquer.|
It had been predicted the New Mexico will have a good monsoon season and, so far, the prediction is coming true.
As for me, when I wasn't out watching the lightning, I was inside watching The Quiet Man.
More thunderstorms are expected this afternoon.
Friday, July 13, 2018
|Above, the new frame and the historical front page. Photo by Armand Vaquer.|
Since it appears that the RV garage may be erected on the second acre next week, I went in to Gallup's Home Depot to pick up a couple of things and to make arrangements for the video chat at the picture frame shop for tomorrow.
Arrangements have been made with one of my neighbors to mow the area where the garage will be built. After this is done, I am going to mark the area with stake flags. In order for me to do this, I had to also buy a longer tape measure (the one I have goes only to 16 feet). At home depot, I bought one that goes up to 30 feet and the stake flags.
After I was done with the frame shop, I headed over to the newly-opened Hobby Lobby at the local mall to get a frame for the Roswell Daily Record front page of July 8, 1947 that I picked up at the Roswell UFO Festival. The frame shop didn't have any 18" x 24" frames, which is what was needed.
Fortunately for me, Hobby Lobby had them on sale at 50% off marked price. I bought a $44 frame for $22. Not bad!
It is a good thing I got home when I did, thunderstorms are kicking up again.
|Above, the Colorado River flowing through the Grand Canyon. Photo by Armand Vaquer.|
There's good news for campers at Grand Canyon National Park.
KGUN 9 reported:
GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Ariz. - With monsoon storms significantly lowering the fire danger risk, fire restrictions are being lifted at the entire Grand Canyon National Park.
Park officials say the stage 2 restrictions are scheduled to be lifted at 8 a.m. Friday.
Grand Canyon remains in stage 1 restrictions year-round, which require that a campfire always be in a designated fire ring within maintained campground.
To read more, go here.
|Above, the Six Mile Canyon area of the Cibola National Forest. Photo by Armand Vaquer.|
U.S. News & World Report posted:
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The Cibola National Forest and National Grasslands is lifting fire restrictions because widespread precipitation from the monsoon has substantially reduced the fire danger.
Cibola's announcement Thursday say the restrictions will be lifted at 8 a.m. Friday and that the decision resulted from consideration of moisture levels, recent and predict rainfall and other weather conditions.
Cibola's lifting of fire restrictions follows recent moves by the Carson and Santa Fe national forests in northern New Mexico to reopen trails, campgrounds and other areas that were closed because of wildfire danger.
Speaking of the monsoon, we're supposed to have thunderstorms in the Jamestown area this afternoon. I've been enjoying the light shows from them.
To read more, go here.
|Above, the Ohio River from Illinois with Kentucky across the river. Photo by Armand Vaquer.|
On occasion, finding a campsite to spend the night at is a hit & miss exercise.
But, there is a new app by Harvest Hosts that will make it a lot easier to find a campsite. And what they have to offer are unique campsites (membership required).
According to Lonely Planet:
There’s nothing quite like the freedom that comes with taking to the open road for an epic adventure. But for RV and campervan enthusiasts, one of the trickier aspects of a trip can be finding a spot to settle down for the night. With that in mind, US-based company Harvest Hosts has assembled a bespoke list of unique camping experiences across the country, allowing guests to book in ahead of time to stay at vineyards, farms, breweries and historical sites.
To read more, go here.
|Above, the Tokyo Skytree. Photo by Armand Vaquer.|
What is an early riser to do if he/she is in Tokyo? Is there anything open or just available to see and do in the early morning hours?
Fortunately, there is and the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) has 13 of them listed. I've done two of them.
One of the 13 is an early morning visit to the Tokyo Skytree. It opens at 8:00.
They begin their article with:
Tokyo is a not a friend to the early riser – or the jetlagged. On my recent trip, I woke up every morning around 5 am and, after a couple of hours enjoying lounging about, I was raring to explore this exciting city – but, nothing, it seemed, was open much before 11 am. Until I started looking more closely, and realised there is actually a lot to do in Tokyo before breakfast. So, here’s my guide to early morning Tokyo…
To see what the other 12 items are, go here.