"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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Thursday, March 22, 2018

New Godzilla Statue In Hibiya

Above, the new Shin Godzilla statue in Hibiya. Kyodo News photo.

The new Godzilla statue in the former Hibiya Chanter Square (now the Hibiya Godzilla Square) has been unveiled.

According to Kyodo News:
TOKYO - A new Godzilla statue was unveiled Thursday at a shopping mall in central Tokyo, fulfilling the prophecy inscribed on its predecessor that there would be more monsters looming over the area. 
The new statue, depicting the Tyrannosaurus-like lizard creature featured in the film "Shin Godzilla" released in 2016, measures 3 meters in height, including its platform, and is the largest Godzilla statue in Japan, according to film and media production company Toho Co.
Above, the old Heisei era Godzilla statue. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

To read more, go here

NYT: "36 Hours In Memphis"

Above, the recording studio where Elvis Presley recorded "That's All Right Mama" at Sun Studio. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

For those who are thinking about taking a trip to Memphis, Tennessee and wonder what is there to see and do, the New York Times has an article on "36 Hours In Memphis", which gives the reader and excellent idea.

They begin with:
Blues, Elvis and barbecue tend to dominate popular perceptions of Tennessee’s second-largest city.  But there are plenty of other diversions, including new developments in entertainment: the opening of Ballet Memphis theater; adaptive reuse projects with significant public art spaces; and an expansion of the museums devoted to Elvis Presley. A bike share system is set to debut this spring, and there is much to discover in lively art districts like Broad Avenue. On April 2 to 4, the city, and specifically the site of the former Lorraine Motel, will mark the solemn 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. there with a symposium, day of remembrance and evening of storytelling exploring the question, “Where do we go from here?

To read more, go here.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Patio Tinkering Today

Above, the chairs and table on the brick deck in the side yard. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Part of today was spent cleaning up some old patio furniture that I had at the apartment in Tarzana.

It had been a while since I last used them there and they got pretty dirty over the years. I used a combination of a bottled cleaner and a bucket full of hot water and dish soap along with a scrub brush. That got the job done.

Above, testing out the outdoor lights. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The furniture consists of two stackable plastic chairs and small table. When I finished cleaning them, I put them over at the brick "deck" further back in the side yard. The new dining table set will remain on the wooden deck.

Thank goodness today was a reasonably warm day (upper 50s to lower 60s). It was also the warmest evening (in the upper 40s) tonight since I've been here. I was able to comfortably test the outdoor lights near the wooden and brick decks. Both worked fine. The light switch is under the wooden deck.

"Shōgun" Author James Clavell In 1978 Party

Above, James Clavell at right in the background at Assemblyman Mike Antonovich's birthday party in Sacramento. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

While thumbing through some photo albums (I now have plenty of space where I have easy access to my older albums), I came across some photos I took in 1978 at the California State Capitol office of then-Assemblyman Michael D. Antonovich in Sacramento.

The occasion was a birthday party for Antonovich. One of the guests of the party was Shōgun author James Clavell.

From Wikipedia:
James Clavell (10 October 1921 – 6 September 1994), born Charles Edmund Dumaresq Clavell, was an Australian-born British (and later naturalized American) novelist, screenwriter, director, and World War II veteran and prisoner of war. Clavell is best known as a writer for his The Asian Saga series of novels and their televised adaptations. Clavell also authored screenplays, such as The Great Escape (1963) and To Sir, with Love (1967). Clavell wrote science fiction as well, including an episode of the early sci-fi TV series Men Into Space in 1959, titled "First Woman on the Moon", as well as the film script for the original (1958) version of the sci-fi/horror classic The Fly, starring Vincent Price.
I had met Clavell a few days before at a banquet for Assemblyman Paul Bannai.

The Shōgun television mini-series starring Richard Chamberlain was one of the top-rated television programs of all time. The show got a lot of people interested in Japanese culture and history.

Where To See Geisha In Tokyo

Above, a girl dressed as a geisha near Sensoji in Asakusa. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Tokyo Cheapo has an article on five places in Tokyo where visitors can see geisha.

Yes, there are still people who think that their vacation to Japan isn't complete unless they see a geisha. We happened to see some in Kyoto a little over two years ago and I saw one young lady dressed up in traditional geisha garb at Sensoji in Asakusa. She was dressed for a photo or video shoot at the temple.

But, if you are one of those who just has to see a geisha, the article is right up your alley.

They begin with:
Everyone knows about geisha, be it from that (in)famous book, the movie or general Japan knowledge. And seeing one is often high on the list of anyone visiting—but how do you make it happen? While Kyoto (one of Japan’s ancient capitals) has the reputation for traditional Japanese experiences like kimono fittings, tea ceremony and geisha, there are plenty of opportunities in Tokyo too. Geisha are performers; classically trained in a range of skills including the art of conversation, playing instruments like the shamisen, drinking games, poetry recital and dance. These skills are practiced and honed for years in training and are employed for entertainment at high-end events and dinners. 
Unsurprisingly and understandably, seeing a real geisha is expensive and can be difficult to arrange for foreigners in Japan. Ozashiki, the places where geisha perform, often have a referral-only policy and many are (let’s put it politely) reluctant to allow foreigners in. You have options though, don’t worry! You can enjoy a traditional sit-down evening with a geisha, spot them in the streets or wave at them during festival appearances, depending on your budget.

To read more, go here

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Churchill and The Duke

Today, I had to go into Gallup to do some grocery shopping and pick up a few other things at Walmart.

While there, I bought a Blu-ray of Darkest Hour with Gary Oldman as Prime Minister Winston Churchill and a DVD of John Wayne: 10 Movie Collection (5 discs).

I am looking forward to watching Darkest Hour tonight to see Oldman's Academy Award-winning portrayal of Churchill.

But I am also looking forward to seeing The Duke in what was probably the biggest example of miscasting ever. Wayne was (mis)cast as Genghis Khan in The Conqueror.

I can't wait to hear his speech as Khan when he says:
Men! Tonight we ride! We're gonna plunder the villages, steal the sheep and rape the women! 
And I want ya to get it right this time!

National Parks: Fixing What's Broken

Above, a hot spring in Yellowstone National Park. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Bipartisanship is a rare commodity these days, but a bipartisan solution to the $11 billion backlog of national park maintenance projects has been reached (all that's left is to pass a bill and have the President sign it) in Congress.

The Hill has posted a bipartisan article by two members of Congress, one a Republican and the other a Democrat, on solving the national park backlog.

It begins with:
Bipartisanship is hard to come by in Washington on any given day, but it’s especially scarce during an election year. Yet on one issue, reducing the maintenance backlog for the National Parks Service (NPS), a bipartisan consensus has emerged, intent on solving this problem. This is encouraging news that will help improve access and enjoyment of our national parks for millions of Americans. 
When Americans think of infrastructure, they think about the network of roads, highways and bridges that millions of people use every day to get to work, take their kids to school, and simply live. However, there’s more to the story. Americans don’t usually think about infrastructure in terms of America’s treasured national parks - but they should.

Underlying the beauty and serenity of our nation’s landscapes, a critical infrastructure network allows people from across the country and the world access to enjoy America’s national parks. But this infrastructure has been deteriorating over the years to a point where there now is an over $11 billion maintenance backlog for the NPS.

To read more, go here.

Exodus Out of California

When a NBC-related channel reports on a problem with a state that's a bastion of liberalism, it tells you that there is a major problem.

People are fleeing the People's Republic of California (or, as I like to refer to it, Commiefornia) due to high taxes and the high cost of living.

CNBC reported:
Californians may still love the beautiful weather and beaches, but more and more they are fed up with the high housing costs and taxes and deciding to flee to lower-cost states such as Nevada, Arizona and Texas. 
"There's nowhere in the United States that you can find better weather than here," said Dave Senser, who lives on a fixed income near San Luis Obispo, California, and now plans to move to Las Vegas. "Rents here are crazy, if you can find a place, and they're going to tax us to death. That's what it feels like. At least in Nevada they don't have a state income tax. And every little bit helps." 
Senser, 65, who previously lived in the east San Francisco Bay region, said housing costs and gas prices are "significantly lower in Las Vegas. The government in the state of California isn't helping people like myself. That's why people are running out of this state now." 
Based on the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey data, "lower income Californians are the ones who are leaving, not higher income," said Christopher Thornberg, founding partner of research and consulting firm Beacon Economics in Los Angeles. 
He said housing is the chief reason people are leaving California, pointing out there are frequently bidding wars for what limited inventory of homes is available. 
A USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll of Californians last fall found that the high cost of living, including housing, was the most important issue facing the state. It also found more than half of Californians wanted to repeal the state's new gas tax, which raised fees by 40 percent. 
"The rate at which California has been losing people to other states has accelerated in the past couple of years, in part because of rising housing costs," said Jed Kolko, chief economist with employment website Indeed.com.
This hardly sounds like a "workers' paradise", does it? We can thank the Democrat Party who runs California for all of this. This is what happens when you have a one-party state with no viable opposition party.

To read more, go here

Spring Has Sprung (Or Has It?)

Above, the aftermath of a blizzard two days ago. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

According to the calendar, today is the first day of spring. With that, we should be seeing more moderate weather (warmer and less snow).

So far, it is just a balmy 15° outside. Shirtsleeve weather, eh?

I will be glad to see the temperatures warm up so I can start working in the garage to clear out the used boxes from my move. Some, that are in reasonably good shape, will be kept.

Then, when the weather is warmer, I will get estimates on having the deck painted. It is best to paint decks during the late spring. Once the deck is painted, I will concentrate on getting some of the rooms patched and painted.

Foreign Visitors To Japan Set New Record In February

Above, the Godzilla slide in Yokosuka at the Kurihama Flower World. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The number of foreign visitors to Japan set a new record for February.

The Nikkei Asian Review reported:
TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The estimated number of foreign visitors to Japan in February soared 23.3 percent from a year earlier to 2,509,300, a record for the month, the Japan Tourism Agency said Tuesday. 
The Chinese New Year, which started in late January last year, began in the middle of February this year, boosting the number of tourists from Asian countries.

To read more, go here

Monday, March 19, 2018

New Mexico Wine Country

There's an old (a very old) saying: "You learn something new everyday!"

Such is the case of what occurred today.

I was browsing through the literature racks at the Manuelito Visitor Center near the New Mexico/Arizona border this morning and I saw a brochure about New Mexico's Wine Country (pictured above). This came as a surprise to me as I am somewhat a wine fan (or some might say, wine snob) as I had made several trips up to California's Napa and Sonoma Valleys and I never heard of wine production in the state of New Mexico.

I started thumbing through the brochure and found that wine production in New Mexico predates any in California.

Above, the Manuelito Visitor Center. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

According to NMWine.com (it used to be NMWine.org):
Welcome to New Mexico wine country and the beginning of an incredible journey. Nearly 400 years ago, in 1629, the very first grapes were planted along the banks of the Rio Grande and American viticulture was born. These original vines were smuggled from Spain and planted by monks to produce wines for ceremony and sacrament. What began as a sacred tradition eventually grew into a thriving industry, and by the late 1800’s New Mexico was producing over a million gallons of wine annually. 
New Mexico’s modern day wine industry continues to evolve from traditional European roots, with over 50 wineries and tasting rooms throughout the state. It is not difficult to trace the influence of old Spain in our contemporary wines, but one can also taste the traditions of France, Italy, Germany and Central America in our present day vintages. We invite you to explore Americas most unique and independent winemaking region in the heart of the Southwest. Viva Vino!
The wineries appear to be concentrated in the Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Taos, Las Cruces, Los Alamos, Alamogordo, Ruidoso and...Roswell.

I am curious how New Mexico wines compare to those of the Napa and Sonoma Valleys of California. I did read that the grape growing season is of shorter duration in New Mexico due to the climate. This causes New Mexico wines to have less alcohol content (like European wines) than California's.

Looks like I'll have to go on a winery road trip! It would be an easier drive (a lot closer) than Napa and Sonoma Valley are in California.

Roswell UFO Festival and Manuelito Visitor Center

Above, the Manuelito Visitor Center near the Arizona border off of I-40. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

This morning, I had some business to attend to in Gallup. While there, I decided to go on further west to the state line (20 miles) and enter Arizona a little bit to make a raid on the Big Teepee's humidor.

While I was in the area, I also went to the New Mexico Manuelito Visitor Center to pick up some literature, if they had any, on Roswell. Sure enough, they did.

I picked up a card on the Roswell 2018 UFO Festival that will be taking place on July 6-8.

Above, the advertising card for this summer's UFO Festival in Roswell. 

Also, (I had to ask a clerk as I didn't see any out in the literature racks) I obtained this Roswell Visitors Guide:

The Manuelito Visitor Center is a nice modern facility and it also has a rest area with shelters (each one has a picnic table and barbecue grill). Inside the Visitor Center, there are staff members who can answer any tourist's questions.

Above, the rest area and shelters. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

For those who are traveling to New Mexico, the Visitor Center is well worth a stop.

Priscilla Presley Recalls Elvis's Final Days

Above, the Jungle Room, where Elvis Presley's final recording sessions took place. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

During a tour promoting the HBO documentary, "Elvis Presley: The Searcher", his ex-wife Priscilla Presley opened up about The King's final years.

According to an article in Rare Country:
Elvis Presley may have passed away more than 40 years ago, but the life that he lived continues to fascinate people across the globe. 
As fans know, during his final years, Elvis was deeply addicted to prescription drugs. His ex-wife, Priscilla Presley, is now opening up about the unfortunate addiction that sadly led to the late musical icon’s tragic death in 1977. 
According to Fox News, Priscilla, who helped produce a documentary that honors the King called “Elvis Presley: The Searcher,” spoke about her ex-husband’s issue with substance abuse during the movie’s debut at the South by Southwest Film Festival (SXSW) in Austin, Texas, on March 14. 
“It was difficult for all of us. We certainly didn’t see it coming,” she explained of Elvis’ unfortunate passing at the age of 42. “But we certainly saw the journey he was taking.”

The documentary premieres on HBO on April 14. It chronicles Presley's early childhood through to his final recording session that was held in the Jungle Room at Graceland.

To read more, go here

Insider Travel Tips For Beginners Exploring Japan

Above, inside a Narita Express train car. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Getting around Japan is not difficult. There are many options for transportation, but not all of them are cheap even though foreign visitors have the advantage of getting Rail Passes.

Gaijinpot.com has some travel tips for beginners.

They start with:
So you’ve come to work in Japan and are now wondering how to travel around this dynamic country in the most cost- and time-efficient ways? Great, let’s brainstorm together. Read on to learn about the pros and cons of traveling by train, car, bus and plane. We’ve even included insider tips for cheap accommodation and helpful forums for your trip planning.

To read more, go here

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Students Suspended For Going To Gun Range With Family

The Looney Left Report

This sounds like something from The Onion. Only it isn't.

What is the difference between school administrators/teachers who are either a.) assholes, b.) lunatics or c.) both?

Answer: Absolutely nothing!

Here's a story from Townhall.com that provides proof of the above:
Here's an outrageous story to end the week.  
A pair of students in New Jersey were reportedly suspended, one for an entire school week, after officials saw they went to the gun range with family and posted a photo of the outing on social media. 
Sounds far-fetched? Here's where Townhall got the story:
From NJ.com 
A New Jersey school district that allegedly suspended two high school students this week over a gun photo taken during a family visit to a private shooting range is facing community backlash and the threat of a lawsuit over district policies. 
The photo of four rifles, ammunition clips and a gun duffel bag was shared by one of the students on the social media app Snapchat with the caption "fun day at the range," according to Lacey Township resident Amanda Buron, a family friend of one of the students. 
A screen capture of the image made the rounds among other students and later brought to the attention of Lacey Township High School officials. Buron said the students received a five-day in-school suspension for violating the school's policy on weapons possession.
What?! One cannot possess weapons to go to a firing range with family members?

As Townhall pointed out:
Not only do tyrannical, leftist school administrators believe constitutional rights end once students step onto campus, they apparently also believe they shouldn't be exercised freely outside of school jurisdiction. 

To read more, go here.


Above, the walkway is almost clear. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Evidence that we had a little blizzard here is rapidly disappearing.

A few minutes ago, I went outside and found that the snow is melting away and the walkway is almost completely clear.

Above, just a little snow is left on The Beast's hood. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The snow on the Mustang is disappearing as is the snow on The Beast.

Above, this little bit of snow on the Mustang will be gone shortly. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Right now, we have blue skies with some clouds, but there's winds up to 29 mph. That is probably hastening the snowmelt.

Blizzard Aftermath

Above, down the hill, a line of vehicles on eastbound I-40 can be seen. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The blizzard stopped (at least for now) and I stepped outside to sweep the porch and the walkway.

While outside, I noticed a long line of vehicles (trucks, cars, RVs) slowly moving eastward on Interstate 40 (it is about a half mile away). Either there was an accident up ahead or they were slowly moving to get off the highway at the Exit 39 off-ramp and go to the Flying J. I tend to think it's the latter.

Above, the Mustang covered with snow. Photo by Armand Vaquer

The blizzard left about an inch of snow on everything. There may be more coming.

In the meantime, here's some more photos:

Above, the side and back yards. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, looking eastward. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, vehicles still moving slowly on eastbound I-40. Photo by Armand Vaquer.


I just returned from the Flying J and a clerk I know told me there was a pile up of vehicles due to whiteout conditions caused by the storm this morning. The pile up involved cars and semi trucks. Traffic was backed up for three hours, she said.


The most intense snowstorm since I moved to Jamestown, New Mexico is going on right now. At least, this is the most intense I've seen (who knows how hard the snow feel while I slept).

All this accumulated during the past 35 minutes.

I stepped out to the front porch and snapped a few pictures:

And this one from a dining room window of The Beast and the Mustang:

NRA Annnual Meetings

AM 2018
AM 2018
Special Event TicketsPre-register
15 Acres of Guns & Gear! The largest show of its kind in the world, featuring every major firearm and accessory maker, is coming to Dallas, Texas! Don't miss all the latest guns, gear, banquets, seminars, and live music that make up this celebration of firearm freedom!
AM 2018
AM 2018
Thursday, May 3
doors open at 5:00pm
Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center - Exhibit Hall A
AM 2018
This exciting evening event features a live and silent auction and fun-filled games. All net proceeds benefit The NRA Foundation, the country's leading charitable organization in support of the shooting sports.
AM 2018
AM 2018
Friday, May 4 | 12:30pm
Kay Bailey Hutchison
Convention Center - Arena
Join Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox for one of the most politically significant and popular events in the country, featuring our nation's top Second Amendment leaders in government, the media, and the entertainment industry.
AM 2018
AM 2018
Friday, May 4 | 9:00am to 6:00pm
Saturday, May 5 | 9:00am to 6:00pm
Sunday, May 6 | 10:00am to 5:00pm
Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center
This year's Exhibit Hall is our largest yet, with 800 exhibitors covering over 650,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space. See more than 10,000 firearms under one roof and celebrate your Second Amendment rights. Admission is FREE to all NRA members and their families (spouse and children under 18 years old).
AM 2018
AM 2018
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Friday, May 4 | 10:00am
Omni Dallas
AM 2018
Connected by their commitment, women from all walks of life come together to infuse new enthusiasm and opportunities into the fight for Second Amendment freedom. This year's featured speaker is Tucker Carlson of Fox News!
AM 2018
AM 2018
Saturday, May 5 | 7:00pm
Doors open 6:00pm
Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention
Center - Arena
This musical journey will be a night to remember and includes a special moment to recognize Charlie Daniels for his many charitable endeavors with our US Service Members. JUST ANNOUNCED: Opening music from Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers!
AM 2018 AM 2018
AM 2018
NRA Country Jam
featuring Randy Rogers Band
 National Prayer Breakfast
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