"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, June 24, 2017

Sanitation Concerns Keeping Tioga Pass Road Closed

Above, Tioga Pass road last year. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Tioga Pass (Highway 120) through Yosemite National Park remains closed so that crews can complete repairs related to record snowfalls last winter.

My Mother Lode reported:
Yosemite, CA — Yosemite National Park officials report repairs along Highway 120 Tioga Pass continue as rising water from melting snow have flooded several sections of the roadway creating safety and sanitation concerns. 
Tioga Road remains closed to all traffic, including bicycles. Following a record-breaking winter snowpack, Park staff continues to make repairs to power, communications, water, and sewer systems along the roadway. 

To read more, go here

Just Desserts

This video reminds me of somebody, although no wedding was involved or anything like the situation described in the video. It is just about these kinds of people, who use others as an ATM and then, at the same time, treat them disrespectfully, that rings a bell.

Japan Visitor: History of Osaka Castle

Above, Osaka Castle. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Osaka Castle was featured in two Godzilla movies, Godzilla Raids Again (1956) (a.k.a. Gigantis The Fire Monster) and Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989). It was in Godzilla Raids Again that Osaka Castle was demolished during the final battle between Godzilla and Anguirus.

Today, Osaka Castle is one of Osaka, Japan's biggest tourist attractions. I have visited Osaka Castle twice (in 2004 and 2015).

Japan Visitor has an article on Osaka Castle's history.

It begins with:
Osaka Castle History 大阪城 
Osaka Castle was Japan's finest castle when it was constructed, and, although rebuilt in concrete, is still Osaka's most interesting sightseeing spot, and a must-see if you are in Osaka, together with the beautiful Osaka Castle Park that surrounds it - home also to the pleasant, airy Jo-Terrace Osaka restaurant and dining complex.
The article is interesting as it also goes into some detail on the stones of the walls surrounding the castle.

Above, a section of the stone walls surrounding the castle. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The article states:
The massive stones, planed nearly paper-smooth, the largest weighing about 130 tons, were transported from all over Japan, but principally from the islands of the Inland Sea. The overcoming of the difficulties involved in quarrying, floating and dragging them such distances speaks eloquently of the levels of organization and economic development involved. The Osaka Castle Stones Michi No Eki on Shodoshima has a museum dedicated to the tools used to mine the stones, transport them as well as some of the original stones themselves. Construction of the (wooden) castle itself, however, was the preserve of the Shogun.

To read more, go here.

10 Great Trips and 10 Great Campsites

Above, The Beast at the Grand Canyon/Williams KOA. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

GEICO and KOA Kampgrounds have teamed up with suggestions of ten great trips and ten great campsites for your next RV trip. I have stayed at two of their suggested campsites.

Their suggestions are posted at Business Wire and they begin with:
WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Camping on the roadside has always been a part of the American landscape, starting with covered wagons. 
However, it was not until 1910 when Pierce-Arrow introduced the Touring Landau in Madison Square Garden that ‘RVing’ as we know it began. For RV enthusiasts who like to know these things, the Landau included a chamber pot, a sink, a folding rear seat that converted to a bed and a telephone that connect the passengers to chauffeur, reports the RV Museum and Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Ind. 
Whatever your call to the open road may be – an adventure, family time, or solitude – preparation is key. When stocking your cabinets with games and supplies, take the time to review your insurance policy. Did you add some features to your RV? Do you need to add more coverage to replace your personal effects? Should you increase your emergency expense coverage? There’s a good deal to review. 
Once you’re covered, and if you’re having trouble deciding where your next epic RV trip will be, you can’t go wrong with the classics. 
GEICO and KOA campgrounds suggest 10 great trips at 10 great campsites for you to consider.

To read more, go here

News From Graceland

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More Special Guests Added to Elvis Week 2017 Line Up
We are excited to announce even more special guests for Elvis Week! Laurel Goodwin, who starred in "Girls! Girls! Girls," and Randy Starr, who wrote songs for Elvis' movies, will join us for Conversations: Elvis in the Movies. Rockabilly pioneer Wanda Jackson and Elvis' first girlfriend, Dixie Locke Emmons, will share their Elvis memories at the Official Graceland Insiders Conference. Get your Elvis Week tickets now - tickets are selling fast!
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New Starring Elvis Presley Podcast: 'Kissin' Cousins'
Double the Elvis, double the fun! This week's Starring Elvis Presley Podcast is about Elvis' 14th movie, "Kissin' Cousins." On this episode, learn about the making of the movie, Elvis' co-stars and more. You'll also hear from Elvis fans about their favorite scenes and songs. Be sure to watch "Viva Las Vegas," which we'll cover next.
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Graceland Turns It Up to 'Eleven'
You never know who you'll see at Graceland! This month, a few sci-fi actors stopped by the king's castle while they were in Memphis. Millie Bobby Brown, who stars as Eleven on the hit show "Stranger Things," came by for a tour, as did "The Walking Dead" star Norman Reedus. Check out a list of our celebrity guests and see our photo gallery now on Graceland.com.
Pre-Order New Books
Get your hands on three new books by the Graceland Archives team! "Elvis Presley's Graceland: The Official Guidebook" focuses on everything Elvis and Graceland. "Elvis Presley: Iconic Stagewear" takes you on an extensive and up-close tour of Elvis' famous stagewear collection. "The Candlelight Vigil" shares the history of Candlelight Vigils held at Graceland. The guidebook is now available to order, and the stagewear and Candlelight Vigil books are now available for pre-order.
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Friday, June 23, 2017

Yellowstone Earthquake Swarms "Nothing New"

Above, one of many Yellowstone mud pots. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Yellowstone National Park has been experiencing a large swarm of earthquakes recently, causing some to fear that the apocalypse is approaching.

According to scientists, this is not necessary the case.

The Independent Record reported:
BUTTE — A recent swarm of more than 400 earthquakes in and near Yellowstone National Park has caused some people to worry that Yellowstone could soon be lost to a blaze of molten rock and ash from a super volcano. 
In the past seven days seismologists have recorded 477 seismic events in an area east of Hebgen Lake. Several of the events were earthquakes that measured over a magnitude of 2, the strongest occurring around 7 p.m. Thursday, June 15, with a magnitude of 4.4. 
Mike Stickney, seismologist for the Earthquake Studies Office at the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology on the Montana Tech campus in Butte, said Wednesday earthquake swarms in Yellowstone are nothing new.
To read more, go here

Eclipse 2017: Finding Clear Skies

One of the reasons I chose to go to Idaho to view the solar eclipse in August was the state's close proximity to California.

Another reason was that historically, on average, the area that I will be heading to has had clear skies on August 21. It would be a bummer to go somewhere to view a rare total eclipse and the place is covered in clouds.

There are no guarantees of clear skies, but Space.com has an article just on this subject.

It begins with:
The total solar eclipse that will cross the continental U.S. from coast to coast is only two months away. On Aug. 21, millions of people are expected to commute into the path of totality to see this amazing celestial sight — including some of the staff of Space.com.  
Four of our staff members — including myself — will be traveling to see the total eclipse. The eclipse will be visible along a path that stretches from Oregon to South Carolina, so there are plenty of places for people to see the total eclipse. There are many good reasons to select one location over another, including the availability of lodging, the likelihood of good weather, and local events. 
To read more, go here

3 Worst Mistakes National Park Visitors Make

Above, animals in national parks can eat you. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

If you are planning to visit a national park this summer, it is wise to read about the three most common mistakes national park visitors make.

An article by a former national park ranger in Insider tells of the three biggest mistakes visitors make.

It starts with:
Ash Nudd has gotten a lot of dirt in her shoes over the years, but she doesn't seem to mind. 
The Utah resident spent three seasons giving tours, teaching safety instruction courses, and even participating in search and rescue efforts as a park ranger in three different national parks across the US. Now, she runs a blog called Dirt In My Shoes where she continues to share trip itineraries full of expert recommendations. 
Here are the three most common mistakes she saw tourists make when visiting national parks.
To read more, go here.

The Company Who Makes National Park and Smokey Bear Signs

Above, the entrance sign to Joshua Tree National Park. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Ever wondered where those iconic Smokey Bear and national park signs come from? 

Marketplace.org has an article on the company who produces those signs. It is Wood Product Signs and Rocky Mountain Aluminum of Parlin, Colorado

It begins with:
Everyone recognizes Smokey Bear, the lovable National Parks mascot who warns visitors about the dangers of forest fires. But where do those friendly anthropomorphic bear cutouts come from? 
Today, we talk to the company that makes a lot of the signs that show up at the entrances to National Parks and Forests. About 25-thousand signs and markers last year, actually, all from their Parlin, Colorado-based workshop, including of course those iconic Smokey Bear cutouts. 
To read more, go here

Do Wi-Fi and Cell Service Belong In Our National Parks?

Above, the best cell and Wi-Fi service I found in Yosemite was at the former Ahwahnee Hotel. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Last year, I camped for a few days in Yosemite Valley at the North Pines Campground. While there, I noticed that cell service was spotty at best and no Wi-Fi. My cell phone was useless at the campground. The campground does have a pay phone booth.

The only place where I found usable cell service and Wi-Fi was at the Ahwahnee Hotel (now known as the Majestic due to the lawsuit with Delaware North).

Above, Wi-Fi and cell service were virtually nil at Yosemite's North Pines Campground. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Motherboard has an article that asks the question, "Do Wi-Fi and Cell Service Belong In Our National Parks?"

Of the two, I am on the side of cell service. With a reliable cell service in a national park, emergency calls can be sent and received. People can do without their laptops and tablets for a while, so I don't think that Wi-Fi is necessary.

Motherboard begins their article with:
Yellowstone National Park wants to go 4G, and environmentalists aren’t happy. 
On a road trip through Yosemite National Park, I once stopped at a particularly beautiful waterfall. Two dozen onlookers were already there; most Vine-ing, 'gramming, tweeting, or texting shots of the vista. Mildly distracted, I filmed some videos, and left. To this day, that remains my most vivid memory of California's most iconic national park. 
Plenty of people experience nature through a lens. So it's no surprise that Yellowstone National Park wants to expand cellular and Wi-Fi coverage throughout some of its 2.2 million acres. It would require serious infrastructure changes, including two new cellular towers at scenic points, and a bulky antennae platform on historic Mount Washburn.
To read more, go here

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Jury Duty Completed

Well, I am done with jury duty for at least a year.

I was on a jury panel at the end of the day on a case that hit a little too close to home. I used the opportunity to truthfully say that I would probably be biased against the defendant and was thanked and excused.

So, under the rules of jury service, if I am not on a jury or a panel at the end of the day, then I have completed my service. This is even if I served only one day. I managed to get excused from a jury panel with about fifteen minutes to spare before closing.

For me, this was a fast day. During our hour and a half lunch break, I hung out with Dawn.

This was the first time I stepped foot at the Van Nuys courthouses since filing suit in Small Claims Court (that was eventually adjudicated on Hot Bench last year) and when I scored a victory last year on another case in Small Claims.

Tioga Pass Still Closed

Above, The Beast on Tioga Pass Road last July. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

A friend, who was on his way home to the San Joaquin Valley in California, mentioned that he was going to drive through Yosemite National Park from Highway 395 on the Tioga Pass Road.

I mentioned to him that Tioga Pass is still closed due to heavy snow. He indicated that he heard the road was open. A lot of other people thought they heard the same.

I checked and confirmed to him that it was still closed.

According to Sierra News Online:
YOSEMITE — There has been a lot of confusion of late over whether or not Tioga Pass is open in Yosemite National Park. 
A call to Caltrans confirms that the east side of the pass, up to the park entrance, is indeed plowed and open to traffic. 
However, an announcement by Caltrans on Monday, June 19, may have been misunderstood and led people to believe that the road into the park is open. 
State Route 120, also known as Tioga Pass, was opened at the winter closure gate — approximately two miles west of US Highway 395 to the east entrance to the park — at 2 p.m. on Monday.

But, and this is the big "but":
However, Tioga Road at the entrance gate to Yosemite National Park remains closed. Park road crews continue to clear snow and make road repairs.

To read more, go here

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Jury Duty Tomorrow

Up to now, I have been pretty lucky not have to report in for jury duty. But I did have to check my juror portal online to get my reporting instructions, if any.

Well, I checked the portal this evening and I have report in tomorrow morning. Lucky me.

Above, Van Nuys East Courthouse.
Unfortunately, they don't pay for the first day one actually has to report in. Payment kicks in from the second day (if there is one) and each subsequent day thereafter.

So, I get to cool my heels tomorrow at the Van Nuys Courthouse. I'll have to remember to bring a book along. I've had some interesting (and occasionally funny) times while on jury duty. This will be the first in the San Fernando Valley for me. As I recall, I've served on jury duty at the downtown L.A., Torrance and Compton courts. My late mom used to enjoy serving on jury duty.

Since I did my jury duty orientation online over the weekend, I won't have to go through it tomorrow and that saves me two hours,

Here come da judge!

California Cigar Tax Going Up July 1

Above, yours truly enjoying an Oliva cigar in Honolulu. 

Thanks to the moronic California voters, the tax on cigars is shooting skyward on July 1.

Thanks to the passage of Proposition 56, the tax on cigars will go up a whopping 153%. Presently, the tax on cigars is 27.3% of the wholesale cost. The passage of Proposition 56 will lead to a new tax that will be at 69.2 % of the wholesale cost.

Wasn't this nice of the California voter? They decided to pick on the poor cigarette and cigar smoker by voting in new taxes on both. Cigarette smokers have to pay an additional $2.00/pack tax. That went into effect in April. Wasn't it nice of the voters to pass this proposition so that the tax money can go to illegal aliens and other liberal causes?

California is a one-party state run by socialists and supported by stupid liberal voters. The "Golden State" is no more.

Small wonder that so many people want to get the hell out of California.

Yosemite National Park Announces Pilot Day Use Parking Reservation Program

Above, the Lower Yosemite Falls Trail. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Phase 2 of a multi-year pilot program at Yosemite National Park to manage traffic and parking is set to begin.

According to the Sierra Sun Times:
Above, one of the free shuttle buses. Photo by Armand Vaquer.
June 21, 2017 - Yosemite National Park announces the second phase of a multi-year pilot program where visitors will be able to reserve a limited number of parking spaces at the Yosemite Falls Parking Area, located directly west of Yosemite Valley Lodge and south of Camp 4 in Yosemite Valley, for four weekends, including Saturdays and Sundays, in August 2017. 
This pilot program allows visitors the opportunity to guarantee a parking space in Yosemite Valley on four busy weekends in August. Visitors who book a parking reservation will have a space reserved until 4:00 pm, so visitors will be able to arrive during the day to use their reserved parking space. The Yosemite Falls Parking Area is one of two main parking lots in Yosemite Valley. The park encourages visitors to park once and utilize the free shuttle system to get to the Valley Visitor Center and all major attractions in Yosemite Valley.

To read more, go here

NRA and CRPA Sends Pre-Litigation Letter Sent to California DOJ

California: Pre-Litigation Letter Sent to DOJ Opposing “Bullet Button Assault Weapon” Regulations

On Monday, June 19, the NRA and CRPA’s legal team submitted a joint-letter to the California Department of Justice (DOJ) and Office of Administrative law demanding that the regulations be withdrawn or not approved as the regulations exceed DOJ's regulatory authority.  
As previously reported last month, the DOJ submitted draft regulations regarding “Assault Weapons” to the Office of Administrative Law (“OAL”) for final publication in the California Code of Regulations (CCR). To learn more about the assault weapon regulations you can watch the webinar hosted by NRA and CRPA’s legal team by clicking here
Update on Duncan v. Becerra 
Last Tuesday, June 13, our legal team was in court to argue a motion for a preliminary injunction in Duncan v. Becerra, a federal lawsuit supported by the National Rifle Association, challenging California’s restrictions against standard capacity magazines.    
California’s new restriction against the mere “possession” of magazines capable of holding more than ten rounds goes into effect July 1, 2017.   If granted, the motion will suspend the enforcement of this restriction while the case is pending. 
To stay up-to-date on DOJ regulations, the Duncan case, as well as other important Second Amendment issues in California, be sure to subscribe to NRA email alerts or check the California Stand and Fight webpage.

Get Your "Golden Geezer" Pass Before The Price Hike!

Above, my "Golden Geezer" pass hangs in The Beast. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

"Golden Geezer".

Now there's a term for the national parks Senior Pass I've never heard before, until now. And we all can thank the Seattle Times for bringing it to my attention.

As mentioned several times on this blog, the lifetime Senior Pass is going from its current $10 price to $80, presumably by the end of the year.

The Seattle Times wrote:
Seattle-area national parks and related federal agencies this spring saw a 700 percent leap in local sales of their Senior Pass, likely stimulated by buyers out to beat a big price hike for what is affectionately known among many of its users as the “Golden Geezer.” 
The lifetime pass, soon to increase in price from $10 to $80, gets the bearer in free to sites ranging from Mount Rainier to the Snow Lake trailhead, providing access to more than 2,000 recreation sites managed by six federal agencies.

Last December, Congress authorized the price increase for the pass, which is good for a lifetime for U.S. citizens and permanent residents 62 and older. An exact date for the cost increase has yet to be announced, but some who work in parks expect it by year’s end.
The article also includes a link to where you geezers can order it online.

To read more, go here.

May Sets New Foreign Visitors To Japan Record

Above, the JR Harajuku Station. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

May saw a record number of foreign visitors to Japan.

The Japan Times reported:
The estimated number of foreign visitors to Japan reached 2,294,700 last month, up 21.2 percent from a year earlier, the highest number ever for the month of May, the Japan Tourism Agency said Wednesday.

The total number of foreign visitors to Japan for the first five months of 2017 is 11,410,700, which is up 17.3% from a year ago.

To read more, go here.

National Parks Getting Ready For Eclipse

Above, wearing the solar shades. 

Two months from today, the Great American Total Solar Eclipse will take place and our national parks are getting ready for it. In fact, it can be viewed at 21 national parks.

Space.com reported:
On Aug. 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse will cross the continental U.S. and briefly cast a shadow over 21 of the nation's national parks. 
The celestial event, sometimes called the Great American Total Solar Eclipse, is the first such eclipse to travel the width of the U.S. in nearly 100 years, offering a spectacular celestial show for millions of skywatchers. During the total solar eclipse on Aug. 21, the disk of the moon will move directly in front of the sun, briefly turning day into night.
It will take about 90 minutes for the moon's dark shadow to sweep across the country, starting around 10:15 a.m. PDT on the West Coast and ending around 2:45 p.m. EDT (11:45 a.m. PDT) on the East Coast. [21 National Parks Where You Can Enjoy the 2017 Solar Eclipse]

With less than three months to go, the National Park Service (NPS) is getting ready to accommodate large crowds and helping to plan special viewing events or educational opportunities at most of the parks. Visitor safety is of top concern, as well as preservation of each park's natural resources.  
Grand Teton National Park in northwestern Wyoming is preparing for what is expected to be "busiest day ever" in the history of the park.

Above, Grand Teton National Park. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

To read more go here.

Winnebago's 2017 Fiscal 3rd Quarter Report

Above, The Beast at Mammoth Mountain RV Park. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Winnebago Industries has posted their fiscal 2017 third quarter results.

According to Nasdaq.com:
FOREST CITY, Iowa, June 21, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Winnebago Industries, Inc. (NYSE:WGO), a leading United States recreational vehicle manufacturer, today reported financial results for the Company's third quarter of Fiscal 2017. 
Third Quarter Fiscal 2017 Results 
Revenues for the Fiscal 2017 third quarter ended May 27, 2017, were $476.4 million, an increase of 75.1% compared to $272.1 million for the Fiscal 2016 period.  Gross profit was $70.8 million, an increase of 134.0% compared to $30.3 million for the Fiscal 2016 period as gross profit margins expanded 380 basis points driven by a favorable product mix, including the addition of Grand Design products within the overall sales mix. 

To read more, go here

Tuesday, June 20, 2017


Finally, I have finished reading Paul Kengor's A Pope and a President.

It was a fascinating and enjoyable read and one I definitely would recommend to any person interested in history, particularly the history of the ending of the Iron Curtain.

I reviewed the book already and post ed it here.

Condé Nast: 10 Best States For Road Trips

Above, Zion National Park in Utah. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Condé Nast Traveler says that 79% of Americans will take a road trip this summer. With than in mind, they have a list of ten best U.S. states for road trips.

They wrote:
A whopping 79 percent of Americans are planning to hit the highway this summer for a road trip, according to AAA, and the options for where to go are nearly endless across our 50 states. But some places lend themselves to road trips better than others, thanks to low gas prices, summer weather, high numbers of national parks and scenic byways, and more. Weighing up 22 contributing factors, WalletHub has pulled together a list of the top states for road trips, from coast to coast.

To see what they are, go here.

Tokyo's Governor Decides To Keep Tsukiji Fish Market

Above, the Tsukiji Fish Market in 2010. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Here's some news for fans of the famous and historic Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo.

The Washington Post reported:
TOKYO — Tokyo’s giant Tsukiji fish market, popular with tourists, won’t be destroyed, although it will be closed for up to five years while it is modernized and turned into a “food theme park,” the capital’s governor said Tuesday. 
The market will move to a state-of-the-art 600 billion yen ($6 billion) facility in Toyosu on the eastern outskirts of Tokyo while Tsukiji is rebuilt. After that, Tokyo will have two wholesale fish markets, Gov. Yuriko Koike said. 
Koike had halted the planned move to Toyosu last August, just months before the new market’s scheduled opening, after food safety concerns were raised. Toxins have been found in soil and groundwater at Toyosu, which was previously the site of a gas plant.

To read more, go here.

Monday, June 19, 2017


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