"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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Saturday, October 1, 2016

Airports Are Cutting Back On Free Wi-Fi

Above, the Terminal One Deparrture level at Narita International Airport. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

One of the nice things about airports while waiting for a flight is free Wi-Fi. It is a great help to let time go by faster while waiting.

But free Wi-Fi may become a thing of the past, thanks to some inconsiderate people who stream videos, among other things.

Travel + Leisure reported:
Some airports are backing out of unlimited free airport Wi-Fi service, and our always-on smartphone habits and addiction to video could be partially to blame. 
The news comes from a recent survey of global airport IT managers, conducted by aviation IT experts at SITA. The study found that while passengers can find unlimited free Wi-Fi at 74 percent of the world’s airports today, that will drop to only 54 percent of world airports by 2019. 
Instead, 37 percent of airports will offer a “hybrid” Wi-Fi service model: Passengers would still have some free full-speed Wi-Fi for a limited time, but would pay for any Wi-Fi after that. Or, there would be free unlimited lower-bandwidth Wi-Fi with the option to pay for more speed. (Or some other combination which helps the airport pay the bills.) 
Which specific airports are thinking of cutting back on unlimited free Wi-Fi is unpublished, but the trend towards a mixed-free/pay Wi-Fi service model is mainly driven by airports in North America and the Middle East, according to SITA.
To read more, go here.

Unveiling Party Tomorrow!

Above, the main entrance to the Odyssey Restaurant. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Tomorrow's the day for the portrait painting (by Asya) unveiling party at the Odyssey Restaurant in Granada Hills.

This will be a fun event, just good conversation, munchies and art.

The party starts at 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM. We will be in the Atlantis Room.

Here's a map to get to the Odyssey:

Tokyo Otaku Mode

Tokyo Otaku Mode

In the never-ending search for sources for action figures, toys, books and everything else fans want for their collections, fans sometimes find dealers who may have something they've been looking for but were unsuccessful.

Today, I went to the website of Tokyo Otaku Mode. They have just about everything fans of Japanese pop culture will want.

Here's how they describe themselves:
Tokyo Otaku Mode™ (TOM) shares with the world the latest Japanese pop culture news through its Facebook page, which has over 18 million likes, and sells products related to Japanese anime, manga, games, music, and fashion through its website, the Tokyo Otaku Mode Premium Shop. TOM strives to be the fastest source for delivering world-famous Japanese pop culture content around the globe. That is TOM’s mission. 
TOM also strives to support top creators in expanding overseas. This is achieved through translation support of creators’ products and profiles, creating portfolios for creators geared toward overseas viewers, increasing their overseas exposure through interviews, exhibiting their works at overseas conventions, and more. TOM aims to be a platform on which creators can post and sell their works to a worldwide audience.
Founded in 2012, they are based in Portland, Oregon and have a branch office in Tokyo.

Do they have Godzilla goods? Yes, they do!

Back in 2014, I wrote up an article on their partnership with the Japan Tourism Agency. I looked through their site back then and found nothing kaiju-related. However, they have since added Godzilla goods. Maybe they saw my blog post and did a u-turn, realizing that kaiju fans also have money to spend? Well, I am pleased that they joined our ranks.

To go to their website, go here.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Road Trip To Metropolis Stops

Above, The Beast at Manzanar Relocation Camp during the Owens Valley trip. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The road trip to Metropolis, Illinois for Noel Neill's celebration of life services is just about set.

Heading over, I will be mainly on Interstate 40. Heading back, I will mainly be on Interstate 70. I will be staying at campgrounds or RV parks in The Beast. It should be a fun and interesting trip.

Unfortunately, the "World's Largest Ball of Twine" in Cawker City, Kansas is a little too far north and out of the way from Interstate 70 to warrant a stop.

Some of the stops heading over include:

Williams, Arizona
Meteor Crater

New Mexico:

Elk City/Clinton
Oklahoma Route 66 Museum in Clinton


Fort Massac State Park*
Super Museum*
Lincoln Museum, tomb, home**
Heading back, stops include:

Beale Street
Civil Rights Museum

Kansas (or Missouri):
Kansas City
Overland Park (KS)
Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library & Museum

Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
Mesa Verde National Park

Monument Valley

Navajo Indian Reservation
Grand Canyon National Park

* While in Metropolis.
**During the return trip home.

Judgment Final Today!

Above, yours truly and Scott aboard the Blue Hawaiian Helicopters tour.

The Small Claims Court judgment against Jacquese Scott is final today.

Legally, she now has to pay up or collection action(s) would commence.

The total due now is $878.25.

Scott has elected to pay me though the court (which is an option she is allowed to do).

According to the online Case Summary:
Histories (Dates listed in descending order)
09/26/2016 Request to Pay Judgment to Court; Filed by: Jacquese Antoinette Scott (Defendant) 
09/26/2016 Invoice: Small Claims Pay Jdgmt to Court Fee-Pmt of jdgmt to ct-CCP 116.860; Fee: $20.00; Payment: 20.00 Receipt: VE-2016-0004421 (Check); Balance: $0.00; 
09/26/2016 Trust Deposit: Civil Trust Account; Amount: $885.49 Receipt: VE-2016-0004421 (Check); Party: Jacquese Antoinette Scott (Defendant)

The court will be sending the judgment amount notice:  "Judgment Creditor's Request for Funds" (a portion of Form SC-145, the Request to Pay Judgment to Court).

I am actually pleasantly surprised that she took care of this right away. I have to give her kudos for that.

Jerry Brown Signs Stupid "Collectibles: Sale of Autographed Memorabilia" Bill

Above, autographs from actresses Michelle Bauer, Brinke
Stevens and President Ronald Reagan. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Special thanks to actress Brinke Stevens for the head's up and article link!

The "nanny statists" of California have done it again!

The Democrat-controlled state legislature passed and Gov. Jerry "Moonbeam" Brown signed into law AB1570, "Collectibles: Sale of Autographed Memorabilia" into law. It goes into effect on January 1, 2017.

Here's what Eureka Books has to say about the law:
On September 9, 2016, California Governor Jerry Brown signed AB1570 Collectibles: Sale of Autographed Memorabilia into law. 
The law requires dealers in any autographed material to provide certificates of authenticity (COA) for signed item sold for $5 or more. 
The idea is to crack down on fraudulent autograph sales. “That sounds pretty reasonable,” you are probably thinking. I, too, can get behind the motive. 
Unfortunately for you, the consumer, the legislators never seem to have considered that buyers of autograph material eventually become sellers of autograph material. 
Let’s say you like to go to author events and get books signed. Eventually, your shelves fill up, and you want to trade books in at a shop like Eureka Books. 
Guess what? Remember that Certificate of Authenticity that sounded so reasonable? 
Well your name and address has to go on the certificate of authenticity because I (as the person issuing the COA) have to say where I got the book. This applies to signed books, artwork, and any other autographed items you own. 
[If you are concerned about this legislation, which goes into effect on January 1, 2017, please contact your state legislators]
Maybe you’d like to sell that Morris Graves painting you inherited. You send it to an auction house, where it sells for $40,000. Good for you. But did you supply a Certificate of Authenticity? What? Why do I have to issue a COA? What do I know about authenticating Morris Graves paintings?
Guess what? AB1570 requires YOU, as the owner of the painting, to guarantee its authenticity. And you don’t issue the COA? You can be liable for TEN TIMES damages, plus attorneys fees. Call it a cool half mill, because you didn’t know you were supposed to issue a COA.
Gee, I guess I'll have to provide a COA on the portrait painting Asya did of me! Especially if she become a famous artist!

This law, while it may be well-intentioned, is just plain stupid!

The author of the law was Assemblywoman Ling-Ling Chang (R-Diamond Bar) (Why is a Republican writing such a "nanny state" law?). You may want to write to her to protest.

To read more, go here

Thursday, September 29, 2016

"We Were There When Nixon Met Elvis"

Above, Nixon and Elvis, one of the most requested photographs from the National Archives. National Archives photo.

Here's an interesting video of a discussion of how the historic meeting between President Richard Nixon and Elvis Presley at the White House took place.

Above, from left, Jerry Shilling, Bud Krogh and Timothy Naftali.

The video is posted on YouTube by the U.S. National Archives. The description of the video is as follows:
In commemoration of the 75th birthday of Elvis Presley, the National Archives presented a discussion about the meeting between Elvis and President Richard Nixon at the White House on December 21, 1970. Timothy Naftali, Director of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, hosts a discussion with Egil Bud Krogh, Assistant to the Counsel to the President, and Jerry Schilling, veteran music industry professional and long-time friend of Elvis Presley. Krogh and Schilling were present in the Oval Office and now offer their eyewitness accounts of the meeting, along with on-screen projections of related photographs, memos, and correspondence in the holdings of the National Archives.

Visit Hakone

Above, a torii gate on the shore of Lake Ashi. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

12 years ago, the first G-TOUR spent the night in Hakone after the tour group enjoyed an evening of fireworks at Lake Kawaguchi near Mount Fuji.

The tour group enjoyed the Hakone area, including a cruise on Lake Ashi and riding the aerial tramway over the volcanic areas of Owakudani Valley.

City-Cost has an article on things to see and do in Hakone and how to get there from Tokyo.

They begin it with:
Hakone (箱根) must be one of the premier getaways for residents of Tokyo, as well as a Japan bucket list mainstay for travellers to this part of the world. Rightly so. Hakone has much to offer. Too much maybe. The visitor here is spoilt for choice; onsen, lake-based activities, bonkers outdoor art installations, Mt. Fuji views, history, Spartan marathon races, storied hotels, and hard-boiled eggs that come out black (the shells of eggs sold at Owakudani). This and plenty more.  
Visitors to Japan will find Hakone an interesting and enjoyable area to experience.

Godzilla fans are familiar with Hakone as the battleground between Godzilla and Baragon in Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001). Hakone is spotlighted on page 36 of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan.

To read more, go here

One Year Ago...

It was a year ago today that our cat Siren passed away. She was 18 years old. She is still missed.

Above, Amber and Siren. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Juanita Broaddrick Responds To Chelsea Clinton: Best Comment!

To read the article, go here.

Japanese Hoteliers Urged To Hold Onto Tradition

Above, a Japanese-style ryokan room in Atami. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

When people visit a foreign country, one of the main draws is to experience that country's traditional culture. Who wants to go somewhere that one could find the same in Indianapolis?

This was a topic at the recent JATA T-Expo.

According to Travel Daily Asia:
‘How do you make visitors stay more nights at your property?’ was one of the questions asked to Japanese hoteliers at the recent JATA T-Expo in Tokyo. 
In a symposium entitled ‘Diversifying destinations for sustainable growth’, a panel discussed the appeal of truly local experiences – in this case, Japanese activities like seeing monkeys bathing in hot springs, wearing Yukata pyjamas and Japanese-style sandals, pottery making and traditional archery. 
Owners of local ryokans – traditional Japanese guesthouses – also discussed how they had improved sales. 
Embracing culture differences was a key theme; sleeping on tatami mats was an attraction in itself, not a comfort problem.
 To read more, go here.

A New Tangle In The Yosemite Lawsuit

Above, the Ahwahnee Hotel, renamed the Majestic Yosemite Hotel due to the lawsuit. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The never-ending lawsuit by Delaware North against the federal government has taken another turn, adding more tangle to an already tangled case.

McClatchy DC reported:
WASHINGTON A legal battle over trademarked names at Yosemite National Park is now trickier than ever. 
In the latest twist, lawyers are fighting over whether the park’s new concession company should be formally added to the case. The Justice Department, representing the National Park Service, says yes. Delaware North, the former concession company, says no in the latest legal filing.

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/crime/article104613361.html#storylink=cpy

Judgment Becomes Final Friday

Above, Scott in Hawaii. Photo by Armand Vaquer

The Small Claims Court judgment against Jacquese Scott becomes final Friday (September 30). That means I can begin collecting the judgment amount of $878.25.

According to the Court:
You are the judgment creditor (plaintiff or defendant) if you won the claim. The judgment becomes final 30 days after you receive the Notice of Entry of Judgment in court (SC-130) or the date it is mailed. If the defendant has not filed a Notice of Appeal (SC-140) or a Notice of Motion to Vacate Judgment and Declaration (SC-135) you may collect the judgment.
As her "star witness" (and her "flying monkeys") and Scott do peruse this blog, notice is hereby given that the only acceptable methods of payment are by cash, a certified bank check or by a postal money order. No personal checks will be accepted.

The Court also says:
You should pay the judgment against you as soon as it becomes final. If you do not pay, the creditor can start collecting the judgment right away as long as: 
  1. The judgment has been entered. You can go to the court clerk’s office and check the court’s records to confirm that the judgment has been entered; and 
  2. There is no stay (suspension or postponement) on enforcement of the order because of an appeal, a stay from a bankruptcy, or other legal action.
Keep in mind that if you do not pay the judgment: 
  • The amount you owe will increase daily, since the judgment accumulates interest at the rate of 10 percent per year.
  • The creditor can get an order telling you to reimburse him or her for any reasonable and necessary costs of collection.
  • Your credit may be damaged because credit reporting agencies will know you have not paid the judgment when your name appears on the court's "Judgment Roll." This can make it difficult for you to get a loan, get a credit card, or even rent an apartment.

Since both Scott and her "star witness" chose to lie like rugs in court, I am not inclined to be lenient on this matter. Period. End of story.

The Small Claims Court action was for the front money for Scott's portion of the May Hawaii trip, of which she paid $600 of the total amount of $1,408.25. The additional $70.00 is for court costs.

A Record 84 Million Watched Trump-Clinton Debate

The first debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump set a new record in the number of viewers.

According to the Japan Times:
NEW YORK/LOS ANGELES – The first presidential debate between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump drew 84 million U.S. television viewers Monday night, a record for such an event and a number rarely seen in the age of digital streaming and social media. 
The audience beat the 1980 record of 80.6 million set by the Jimmy Carter-Ronald Reagan debate but fell short of the 100 million viewers some analysts had predicted.

To read more, go here

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Vote Rump!

A friend vacationing in Dublin, Ireland sent this from a hamburger joint there:

Most Snap Polls Have Trump Winning Debate By A Landslide

Well, it was to be expected that CNN's (Clinton News Network) darling Hillary Clinton would come out on top in their post-debate snap poll, but other networks' snap polls gave Donald Trump the winning nod.

It is my opinion that the debate was a draw. Trump missed a lot of opportunities (such as Benghazi) and Clinton came off as nasty.

Since we really can't rely on the American lamestream media to report the facts and tell the truth, this came in from the United Kingdom's Daily Mail:
CNN awarded Hillary Clinton an overwhelming victory in the first presidential debate - but most snap polls show Trump emerged victorious.  
Trump and Clinton tangled over the economy, her use of a private mail server and his unwillingness to release his income tax returns on Monday night.  
They engaged in a vigorous back-and-forth on the debate stage at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, as polls showed them locked in a tight race.  
However, after the debate's end, polls conducted by a number of media websites showed their readers felt the real estate mogul came out on top. 
Trump acknowledged the result, tweeting: 'Wow, did great in the debate polls (except for @CNN - which I don't watch). Thank you!'
To read more, go here

Monday, September 26, 2016

Drudge Poll: Who Won The Debate?

Trump & Clinton: Debate One

Above, before the fireworks, Trump and Clinton greet each other.

Tonight's debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump reminded me a lot of the recent Small Claims Court trial and the Hot Seat "show trial" against my ex and her friend. As they did, Clinton pulled stuff out of the air, lied and misrepresented the historical record.

On many occasions, Clinton led with her jaw and got smacked by Trump. An example was when he fired back on her about her staff people for taking the Fifth Amendment. Trump missed an opportunity by not bringing up Benghazi.

I was initially bothered by Trump's sniffing, but since found out that he currently has a head cold. I guess he can be forgiven.

Clinton was more energetic than I expected. But her responses were almost robotic and obviously rehearsed. Trump was being Trump. He was more at ease before a television audience.

Clinton called Trump a racist and anti-woman. During the anti-woman part (which was at the end of the debate), Trump could have fired back about all the abuses of women by her husband Bill. But, as he said, he wasn't going to do it and go there. That showed class on his part, but by not stating the obvious (he didn't have to as people already knew what he was referring to such as Lewinsky, Kathleen Willey (hope I spelled that right), Paula Jones and others), he won. Sometimes understating things will score more points than being explicit. This, I think, was one of those times. Clinton showed that she fights dirty.

It was an interesting debate with more exchanges between presidential candidates than I can remember. This was more of a true debate instead of a canned press conference. I liked this format. But, moderator Lester Holt was like Candy Crowley with Romney in 2012. Not as obvious, but still was biased as he seemed to be like a third debater.

Who won? To me, it was basically a draw. But Trump wins for not making any gaffes and Clinton won for not collapsing as she did in New York a week ago.

Snake On A (Bullet) Train!

Above, a bullet train departs Atami Station. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

A shinkansen (bullet) train had to make an emergency stop when a snake was discovered on board.

According to Travel + Leisure:
A passenger on a Japanese bullet train sat for 50 minutes on Monday without noticing that a python was wrapped around his armrest. 
Almost an hour into the train ride from Tokyo’s JR station, a nearby passenger noticed the snake on the seat in front of him and told the train’s conductor, the Associated Press reported.

To read more, go here

5 Tips For Budget Travel To Japan

Above, the Asahi Beer Hall and Sumida River in Tokyo. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Japan has a reputation for being expensive, but with good planning and following the five tips for budget travel to Japan that Travelers Today posted, much money can be saved.

According to Travelers Today:
Japan is considered to be an expensive country to travel to, but with these cheap tips and tricks, living off vending-machines is not even an option. Despite Tokyo being infamous for its high cost of living, it is a dream destination for many. Even budget travelers are taking a chance in this country due to its east-meets-west beauty that is truly captivating. 
A  vacation to the Land of the Rising Sun is absolutely possible, but it requires strategic planning and a "cowboy" mentality. The Seattle Times listed 5 tips for traveling to Japan on a budget, when followed, can considerably save tons of money!
To read more, go here

What To See and Do In Japan For First-Timers

Above, Senso-ji and pagoda in Asakusa. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

If you are contemplating a trip to Japan and never been there before, Australia's Herald Sun has a new article on what to see and do for first-timers. Itg is especially useful if one is traveling there solo.

It begins with:
Celebrity chef David Chang flies there for the food. Pop singer Gwen Stefani finds trends in Harajuku. I finally travelled to this island nation in May. You know it, the place of sushi, samurai films and Sony Walkmans. Japan. One of the most fascinating places in the world. 
CNN presenter Anthony Bourdain considers Tokyo the most exciting city to visit alone. Though I’m partial to independent travel, I wasn’t comfortable tackling the world’s most populous city (of 37 million people), let alone its home country, solo. 
So, in need of a primer, I signed up with On the Go Tours’ Tokyo to Takayama trip: eight cities in 14 days; a flexible itinerary; licensed Japanese tour guides; and travel via buses, subways and bullet trains. Mingling with locals appealed more than sitting in an airconditioned coach. 
Each tour caters to a maximum of 16 people. Together, we were thrown in the deep end on day one, thrust into Tokyo’s biggest and noisiest festival, Sanja Matsuri.
Japan may seem intimidating to someone who has never been there, but after about a day or two wandering around, one's confort level there skyrockets pretty fast. The people there are very friendly and helpful, so don't be afraid to ask (many do speak English to a degree) at a tourist center at a major train station.

To read more, go here

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Golf Great Arnold Palmer Dies

One of THE greats of golf, and sports in general, has died.

ABC News reported:
Arnold Palmer, one of the greatest and most popular players in the history of golf, has died, according to the U.S. Golf Association. He was 87. 
Palmer, who celebrated his 87th birthday two weeks ago, was widely regarded as one of the best professional golfers of all time. He was also one of the most charismatic figures in all of sports, drawing loyal fans known as "Arnie's Army," who would follow him at tournaments. 
He was nicknamed "The King" and had won the Masters four times and the British Open twice.
To read more, go here

Snow On Mount Fuji 16 Days Earlier Than Last Year

Above, a shinkansen view of Mount Fuji last October. Photo by Armand Vaquer.
It is hard to say what this means over the long haul (probably nothing), but Japan Today reported that snow has fallen on the summit of Mount Fuji 16 days earlier than last year.

They reported:
TOKYO —A thin layer of snow was observed on the peak of Mt Fuji on Sunday morning, 16 days earlier than last year, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.
To read more, go here.

Asya's Business Card

Last week, Asya attended a charity pre-Emmy party in Beverly Hills. Before attending, she had some business cards printed.

She gave me one of them last night and the design of it is very beautiful. Besides paintings, she also specializes in logo design. Her card shows how talented she is on logos. I have seen other examples of her logos and they were all nicely designed.

If one is in need of a logo for their business (or whatever), contact Asya here.

Last Night At The Odyssey

Above, Asya in the Atlantis Room with the city lights in the background. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Last night, Asya and I headed off to The Odyssey Restaurant for dinner and to check out the Atlantis Room that the portrait unveiling party will take place one week from today. Also, we celebrated my receiving the appearance fee check from Hot Bench.

I thought it would be a good idea for Asya to see the layout of the room and The Odyssey Restaurant in general.

Although the lights were off in the room, we discussed where to display the portrait and other paintings she will be bringing along.

Above, at dinner at The Odyssey Restaurant. 

Asya enjoyed the spectacular view of the San Fernando Valley from the room's huge windows. From the room, the stream of headlights flowed down from the Sepulveda Pass and into the Valley like a glowing river.

After discussing details on where to arrange things next week, we headed upstairs to the main dining room for dinner. She had a Caesar salad with chicken and shrimp while I settled on prime rib. She had wanted to have cheesecake and ice cream, but was so full from the meal that we ended up sharing the cheesecake that came with my dinner.

Asya had a "jaw-dropping" moment when during the course of conversation when I mentioned that I like to add pepper to a dish of cottage cheese. She had never heard of that before. She thought I was putting her on. That led to a discussion of foods she enjoyed in Russia.

All in all, an enjoyable evening.

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