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

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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Taxi Calculation App To Be Tested In Tokyo

Above, a taxi in the area of Tokyo Station. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

A new app is to be trialed in Tokyo and other area's taxis that will allow passengers to calculate the cost of a ride.

According to Japan Today:
TOKYO —An app that calculates taxi fares in advance of journeys is to be piloted in fiscal 2017 as part of wider efforts to boost taxi use. Passengers will be able to pay the driver either the cost shown on the app or on the meter at their destination, whichever is cheaper. 
As taxi fares are calculated based on the distance travelled and time taken, the system is being developed jointly by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism and taxi companies. It will be trialed in Tokyo and other areas for demand and accuracy before being introduced nationwide. 
With a record 24 million international visitors in 2016 and a target to annually welcome 40 million and boost their spending to 8 trillion yen by 2020, a key target market is tourists. Holiday-makers on a fixed budget tend to avoid using taxis due to unfamiliarity about the distance to the destination and how much it will cost, concerns about dishonest drivers, or the inability to communicate with the driver. This app is designed to offer them peace of mind, thereby stimulating increased taxi use, and to make Japan more tourist-friendly ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Industry experts, however, have reservations.
To read more, go here

Wilson Establishes Grand Canyon National Park 2/26/19

Above, Grand Canyon National Park in November 2016. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

On this day in 1919, President Woodrow Wilson established Grand Canyon National Park.

According to Politico:
Three years after the creation of the National Park Service, on this day in 1919, President Woodrow Wilson signed into law a bill establishing the Grand Canyon as the nation’s 15th national park. Nearly 2 billion years of the Earth’s history are exposed as the Colorado River and its tributaries cut through the sediment. 
A history report in 2000 by Michael Anderson for the Grand Canyon Association notes that President Theodore Roosevelt liberally interpreted the Antiquities Act of 1906 in creating the 1,279-square-mile Grand Canyon National Monument in 1908. The monument was carved from Grand Canyon National Forest, initially designated by President Benjamin Harrison as a preserve in 1893. The U.S. Forest Service managed the monument from 1908 until it became a national park, relying on the Santa Fe Railroad to invest in roads, trails and facilities to serve a budding tourism industry.
Last year, nearly 6 million people visited Grand Canyon National Park. I stopped in Grand Canyon National Park on the way home from my cross-country trip in November,

To read more, go here

Happy Birthday, Shogo Tomiyama!

Today, former President and Executive Producer of Toho Pictures Shogo Tomiyama celebrates the "26th anniversary of his 39th birthday" in Japan.

He is best known for producing the millennium series of Godzilla movies (1999 - 2004) and, most recently, going on a quest to find a slice of cheesecake at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo for me.

Here's some pictures of Mr. Tomiyama over the years:

Above, at Toho Studios in 2001. Photo courtesy of Richard Pusateri.

Above, the premiere of Giant Monsters All-Out Attack in 2001. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, the Godzilla induction into the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2004. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, the 2015 dinner party at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Tomiyama!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Death of Alan Colmes: Liberals Have No Class

Looney Left Report

Whenever I see a liberal on television, I have to roll my eyes at the blather they spew. Most of them are also obnoxious to boot! Lawrence O'Donnell Jr. is one obnoxious liberal. I couldn't stand him on the McLaughlin Group.

Alan Colmes of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes passed away the other day. He was a liberal, but he wasn't obnoxious, but instead, which seems to bother liberals to no end, was actually a nice guy.

He was honored by his colleagues at Fox News. But the liberals in our midst chose to trash him.

According to Young Conservatives:
But liberal Salon attacked him. 
Its obituary was titled, “Alan Colmes, Buffoon and Patsy, Was Fox News’ Original Liberal Weakling.”

Isaac Chotiner in Salon wrote:
Colmes was the most absurd, useless, and mocked television personality in America for many years, precisely because he was nice. In the context of Fox News, being a nice guy—and a “liberal” nice guy at that—meant being a buffoon, and a patsy. Colmes not only played the part to perfection—he defined it.
This only shows that liberals/leftists have no sense of decency in trashing Alan Colmes before he's even buried. It shows a lack of class. One may not have agreed with Alan Colmes, but he didn't deserve to be so attacked. It also showed they have no respect for his family. Chotiner should be ashamed of himself. But he probably isn't.

R.I.P. Alan Colmes.

To read more, go here.

They Just Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To, Or...

...I have one strong kitty!

Above, the Red Barn Feed & Saddlery. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Yesterday, I stopped by the Red Barn Feed & Saddlery store in Tarzana. I haven't been there in a while. My mom and I used to go there quite a lot. While she shopped, I would spend my time looking at the historical newspapers hanging on the walls around the store and munching on their free popcorn.

Above and below, Sierra having a grand time. Photos by Armand Vaquer.

I picked up a bag of cat litter and got Sierra a toy. The toy cost $8.00.

The toy mounts on glass or other smooth surfaces and has a bird on the end of an elastic string.

In no time, Sierra broke the string and the gizmo that attaches the string onto a bar also came apart. I re-tied the string and used Crazy Glue to fix the gizmo. I let it set overnight.

Above, playing with the bird part after breaking the string. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

This morning, I re-mounted it on the patio glass and Sierra was kept occupied with it for hours.

However, the bar that attaches to the sucker that sticks it onto the window broke. My previous fixes are still okay. That has to be one strong cat or the plastic bar was very cheaply made. $8.00 for that?!

I'll try to fix it with Crazy Glue.

They just don't make cat toys like they used to, apparently.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Platrix Clamp-Sites Announced

Above, The Beast at last year's Tehachapi Loop clamp-out. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

While paying my annual dues to Platrix Chapter No. 2, E Clampus Vitus, I noticed that the chapter finally posted where this year's clamp-outs will be held.

They are:
April 28-30 at The Loop Ranch in Tehachapi 
Oct. 6-8 (hopefully) at Lake Hemet

We were in Tehachapi last April for the Spring, 2016 clamp-trek. It is a nice area, so I am looking forward to returning. Lake Hemet ought to be nice in October.

I will probably hold a seminar for XSNGH Glenn "Cowpie Kicker" Thornhill on the differences between a RV's house door and a screen door handles. Other Platrix members and PBCs who are in similar need of such knowledge are welcome to attend. Remember what Emil Faber once said: "Knowledge is good!"

Drowsy RV Drivers More Dangerous Than Drunk Drivers

Above, the bed in The Beast. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

When I was driving cross-country to Metropolis, Illinois, I pushed it a little by driving at or near 400 miles a day (sometimes a little more). My drive back to Los Angeles was more leisurely, averaging around 200-250 miles a day. 

Fortunately for me, I was always well rested as I have the odd tendency to sleep better in The Beast than I do at home. I actually got 7-8 hours of sleep every night on the trip. I never did get drowsy during the trip. I enjoyed the scenery as it passed me by.

RV Life posted an article on the importance of getting enough rest before getting behind the wheel in a RV as a drowsy driver is potentially more of a danger to people than a drunk driver.

They wrote:
Even missing just one hour of sleep can make drivers as risky as an inebriated drunk behind the wheel. The study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety states that “Drivers who miss between one to two hours of the recommended seven hours of sleep in a 24-hour period nearly double their risk for a crash.” Even more surprising was the news by Dr. David Yang, executive director for the foundation, who says: “Our new research shows that a driver who has slept for less than five hours has a crash risk comparable to someone driving drunk.” 
Just because RVers take their bedroom on the road doesn’t mean they’re less at risk. Effective snoozing doesn’t always come easy at noisy rest areas, brightly lit or busy WalMart camping parking lots and RV parks perched next to interstates or other bustling areas. When a drowsy RV driver gets behind the wheel and commandeers a motorhome or trailer, that person is potentially even more of a risk on the highway than sleep impaired drivers at the wheel of passenger cars. An uncontrolled RV can do far more damage than a sedan.
 To read more, go here.

Hiroshima A-Bomb Museum Attracted 1.6 Million Visitors

Above, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Japan set a new record in tourism in 2016 by attracting 24 million foreign visitors.

Along with that, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum also set a record in the number of visitors during fiscal year 2016.

According to Kyodo News:
The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum drew a record of nearly 1.6 million visitors in the year ending March, with visitor numbers rising in the wake of former U.S. President Barack Obama's May visit. 
As of Friday, the number of visitors eclipsed the previous record of 1,593,280 set in fiscal 1999, and the figure is likely to reach around 1.73 million by the end of March, the museum said. 
Following Obama's visit to the city as the first sitting U.S. leader in late May last year, the number of visitors to the museum rose 40 percent from a year earlier in June and July.

To read more, go here

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Eclipse Planning

Above, a 2012 partial eclipse projected through foliage onto a wall. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

It appears at this time that I will probably be in the Thornton and Rexburg areas of Idaho when the total solar eclipse occurs on August 21.

It is a "few" miles from where I will be staying in The Beast, so I'll be getting up early to head up there to "secure my beachhead" viewing spot. The eclipse will begin around 10:15 AM.

Speaking of viewing, special glasses will be necessary for eye protection while viewing the beginning and ending phases of the eclipse. I found a website who sells them: http://www.eclipse2017.org/glasses_order.htm.

What's The Value of A Yosemite Trademark?

Above, as sign pointing the way to the former Curry Village. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Now that the administration of President Donald J. Trump is in place, maybe some movement in the years-long battle between the federal government and former concessionaire Delaware North over the trademark dispute of Yosemite National Park will take place.

Above, the former Ahwahnee Hotel. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

A new filing has been made by the government over the value of the trademarks.

According to the Star-Telegram:
WASHINGTON A Yosemite National Park trademark challenge now turns, in part, on two dramatically different estimates of what some famous names are worth. 
In a new court filing, the government made public more of its evidence for its claim that the park’s former concessionaire put an “improper and wildly inflated valuation” on its trademarks for such names as the Ahwahnee hotel. While the concessionaire valued its Yosemite intellectual property at $51.2 million, the government’s consultant said it’s more like $3.5 million. 
The vastly different estimates are more than just bargaining positions, though they may serve that purpose. They also illustrate the difficulties in putting pricetags on names associated with a park as beloved as Yosemite.

To read more, go here.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Eclipse Reservations Made!

It is official!

I've made my campground reservations for when I go north in August to see the total eclipse of the sun. I will be in Idaho for this event.

I first checked with two campgrounds and both were already booked up! The third one was "the charm" as I was able to reserve a nice riverside campsite. It is only a few miles from the vicinity for where the total eclipse umbra will be experienced.

So if you are planning to head into the umbra zone, I would recommend that reservations (hotel or campground) be made now.

DC Comics: Why No Curt Swan Superman Merchandise?

Above, a Swan Superman digital sculpture by Tony Cipriano and original art by Curt Swan..

A few days ago, Curt Swan fan Tony Cipriano posted at the Curt Swan Facebook fan page the above digital sculpture of a statuette of Superman based on an image Swan drew for the Superman Annual #7.

He wrote:
Hi Guys.. A few days ago, a member posted this artwork and was hoping DC would do it as a licensed statue. I have also always drooled over this piece of art form the Superman Annual #7... I began this digital sculpt this week, so I thought I'd share it. It's still rough, but I thought it would be fun to see it in 3 dimensions. I've wanted that statue on my shelf since I first saw that cover as a kid. Being a huge Swan fan, I've always wondered why there hasn't been more product based on his DEFINITIVE take on the Man of Steel!
Exactly! Older fans of Swan and Superman (like myself) would definitely buy such a statuette based on Swan's drawing.

Above, Superman Annual no. 7.

Other fans are also perplexed as to why DC Comics (or DC Entertainment) hasn't put out any licensed products based on Swan's definitive take on Superman.

One wrote:
I've always wondered the same thing myself. DC seems to have given practically no props to Swan in issuing collectibles based on his quintessential Superman!

And another said:
DC pretty much wants to wipe out it's history. That's the history us older fans care about. I know I'd love a statue like this.

In response to the post above:
Which makes no sense. Look at all the success they have had with the Adam West Batman 66 stuff. Same fan base that would love Curt Swan related products and not to mention George Reeves Superman related products.

Above, Noel Neill's George Reeves Superman statuette. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Indeed! The late Noel Neill, the original Lois Lane, had in her possession a George Reeves Superman statuette. It was on display at her celebration of life services in November in Metropolis, Illinois. Reproductions of this would be nice to have!

Maybe DC Comics (or whatever they are calling themselves these days) will see this post and get on the ball and issue Swan-based (and some based on George Reeves) Superman merchandise starting with the above statuettes. Fans are eager to snap them up!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

5 Important Features Needed For Dry Camping

Above, The Beast while dry camping at Lake Cachuma with E Clampus Vitus. Photo by Armand.

During my cross-country trip to Metropolis, Illinois and back, the only time I dry camped (that is, camping without water, electric or sewer hook-ups) was one night in a Missouri roadside rest area.

The Beast is self-contained with good battery capacity, a power generator and large enough fresh water and grey and black water holding tanks, so dry camping is not a problem. I've done it a few times during the past two years at Yosemite and Joshua Tree National Parks, clamp-outs and at Chiriaco Summit Campground.

Above, Yosemite National Park's North Pines Campground. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

But, it one is looking for a new or used RV or want to modify a RV to use it for dry camping, RV Life has an article by Dave Helgeson on the five important features you'll need.

It begins with:
When I conduct my dispersed camping seminars I am typically asked what is the best RV for dry camping. While some types of RVs are more friendly for this type of RVing than others, the question really should be, “what should I look for in a RV if I want to use it for dry camping?”
Above, Chiriaco Summit Campground. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

To read more, go here.

Clint Hill Strikes At Hollywood Inaccuracy

Above, Clint Hill speaking at Book Passage last June. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Former secret service agent Clint Hill gives an exclusive interview with i News (United Kingdom). He discusses his experience in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963 and hits at Hollywood inaccuracies.

They begin with:
It’s surely the most famous few seconds of amateur video footage ever filmed.  
A moment after seeing her husband’s head blown apart by a rifle shot, a distraught Jacqueline Kennedy climbs out of the presidential limousine’s back seat and onto the boot. The film is too grainy to show the blood stains now spattered over her pink suit, as she reaches for something with a white-gloved hand.  
But as the car begins to speed away to Parkland hospital, a dark-suited figure appears on the rear of the vehicle with the First Lady and pushes her back into the car, next to the body of the stricken president – knowing they could both be the next targets in the crosshairs.  
That man, seen in the final reels of the Zapruder film which captured John F Kennedy’s assassination, was Clint Hill. Every day for the past 53 years, the former Secret Service agent has regretted he could not reach the limo in time to jump in front of that shot: the third round fired by Lee Harvey Oswald on 22 November 1963.
The article also includes a video of a 1975 interview of Hill by Mike Wallace of CBS News and a trailer for, Jackie, a movie that Hill says is filled with inaccuracies.

Below, is a video of Clint Hill's talk at a June 2016 book signing event that I shot at Book Passage:

To read the i News interview article, go here.

Ten Reasons Why Japan Is A Hot Destination

Above, the Godzilla mural at Toho Studios. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

It seems that Japan is on the minds of people planning upcoming vacations.

According to Stuff (from New Zealand):
According to research compiled by Amazon, books about Japan were the bestselling non-UK travel books in December last year. Japanese phrase books were also the bestsellers on Prime Now. 
While some street signs and cultural quirks might be "lost in translation", clearly that's not deterring travellers from picking Japan as a number-one holiday destination for 2017.
So what's all the fuss about? Here are 10 reasons why everyone's going crazy for Japan...

The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan is available as an ebook at Amazon, by the way. Since Japan is "hot" right now, that explains why the ebook has been doing good in recent months.

To see what the ten reason are, go here

More Than Just Parks

Above, Grand Teton National Park, one of the parks filmed by the Pattiz brothers. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Five years ago, two brothers began a series of films, More Than Just Parks, on U.S. national parks. This is a multi-year project to film all of the parks.

According to Digital Trends:
For the past three years, brothers Jim and Will Pattiz have been documenting the U.S. national parks with a mix of time-lapse photography and realtime video. The filmmakers and founders of Sea Raven Media visited their first national park five years ago — a trip that planted the seed in their minds for what would eventually grow into More Than Just Parks, a multi-year effort to film all 59 national parks. They just released their 10th film, leaving 49 to go. 
Digital Trends has covered the release of several previous More Than Just Parks films, but for the latest, Hawai’i Volcanoes, we were fortunate enough to catch up with the Pattiz brothers at the premiere. In a question and answer session following the film, we learned more about what goes on behind the scenes and how they plan to incorporate new technologies, like virtual reality, into upcoming projects.  
Typically, the brothers will spend anywhere from two to four weeks filming a park.

To read more, go here.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Trump Campaign Website Hacked By Iraqi Hacker

A website associated with President Trump by Iraqi hackers.

According to The Hacker News:
During the 2016 presidential election campaign, we reported about how insecure was the mail servers operated by the Trump organization that anyone with little knowledge of computers can expose almost everything about Trump and his campaign. 
Now, some unknown hackers calling themselves "Pro_Mast3r" managed to deface an official website associated with President Donald Trump's presidential campaign fundraising on Sunday.

The hacker, claiming to be from Iraq, reportedly defaced the server, secure2.donaldjtrump.com, which is behind CloudFlare's content management system and security platform.
To read more, go here




Executive Order 9066 75th Anniversary

Above, a guard tower at Manzanar. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Yesterday marked the 75th anniversary of the signing of Executive Order 9066 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

What was Executive Order 9066?

From the Orange County Register:
It began hours after news of Pearl Harbor reached the West Coast. 
A rap at the door, a shoe on the doorjamb, then FBI agents, welcome or otherwise, entered to take away roughly 1 in 10 heads of a few hundred specific households – all men, all Japanese. 
Warnings were not given and explanations were not offered. But when that first wave of arrests came, word spread quickly. Everybody knew. 
So two months later, on Feb. 19, 1942, the Japanese American community in Southern California – the nation’s largest at about 35,000 – was less shocked than it was horrified by what occurred: Executive Order 9066. 
Signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 546-word document declared the government’s intent to treat the West Coast as a war zone, complete with powers that suspended some constitutional guarantees. 
Soon, Japanese Americans in the region were told to pack their things, sell or give away what they could, and prepare to be taken. 
Today, on its 75th anniversary, we know that 9066 led to the confinement of more than 110,000 Japanese American men, women and children. It’s widely viewed as a racially motivated, historical stain, a self-inflicted mistake.
Above and below, a camp housing replica. Photos by Armand Vaquer.

Executive Order 9066 incarcerated Japanese-American citizens in internment camps throughout the United States, including one at Manzanar in the Owens Valley of California. There are some today who are attempting to compare 9066 with President Trump's travel ban executive order. There is no comparison between the two. Trump's order is temporary. It will be in effect until effective vetting procedures can be implemented to keep terrorists from our country.

Above, the memorial to internees who died in camp. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

I visited Manzanar last summer. There is not much left of any original structures there, but they do have reproductions. They also have an informative visitor center.

Above, a diorama of the Manzanar Relocation Camp in the Visitor Center. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

To read more, go here.

Happy President's Day

Above, the White House in 1982. I am in the background at left. White House Photo.

Today is President's Day (for those of you who are unaware).

The first president I saw in person was Richard Nixon in 1972 at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles. I attended the opening of the Nixon Library in 1990 in Yorba Linda, California.

Above, President and Mrs Nixon at the Century Plaza Hotel in 1972. I am in the crowd (at arrow).
The Nixons are in SS-100-X, the presidential limousine JFK was riding in Dallas. White House Photo.

Since then, I have seen in person several others:

Gerald R. Ford (in Fresno, Kansas City and Yorba Linda)
Ronald Reagan (I met him in 1977, but have seen him many times, including at the White House)
George H. W. Bush (in Detroit, Dallas and Yorba Linda)
George W. Bush (before he entered politics in Detroit)

Happy President's Day!

T+ L: 25 Perfect Places To Watch The Eclipse

Above, a 2012 partial solar eclipse projected on a wall through foliage. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

It is one of those "bucket list" things that people should experience at least once in their lives.

It is the upcoming total solar eclipse that will take place August 21 across the U.S. I am making plans to head up to an area where I can experience it. My bank's investment counselor, once he found out about my plans, asked to come along.

Travel + Leisure has an article on the "perfect" spots in the U.S. to watch the eclipse.

They begin with:
This is the first time a total solar eclipse has crossed the United States since 1978 (and the last really big one was in 1918), and the summer’s brief event—totality lasts about two minutes, depending on your location—is being touted as the largest astronomical event in U.S. history. 
Whether or not that's true, it will definitely be the most photographed, most Instragrammed, most tweeted and most talked about eclipse ever. It’s critical to get yourself somewhere exactly under the shadow—and as nearest to the Line of Totality—as possible, since a near-miss is a total miss. 
You should use Xavier Jubier's 2017 Total Eclipse Interactive Google Map to pinpoint your exact location, but in case you're looking for ideas, here are 25 unique places to watch this once-in-a-lifetime event.
To read more, go here

Tsukiji Investigation Committee To Be Set Up

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

The planned relocation of the Tsukiji Fish Market is even deeper in limbo as a panel is about to be set up to investigate it.

According to Japan Today:
TOKYO —Four major parties in the Tokyo metropolitan assembly agreed Monday to set up a powerful committee to look into questions related to the relocation site for the Tsukiji fish market and possibly summon former Gov Shintaro Ishihara as a witness under oath. 
Ishihara was governor when the metropolitan government decided to buy land in Tokyo’s Toyosu area as a replacement site for the Tsukiji market, known for its daily fish auctions. Gov Yuriko Koike has put the relocation on hold amid safety concerns over the former gas production plant site and publicly called on her predecessor to clarify his role in the purchase. 
The committee, which can compel individuals to testify and submit relevant records, may be established on the first day of a regular assembly session starting Wednesday. Witnesses who give false testimony can be prosecuted for perjury.
So, it appear that the Tsukiji Fish Market will remain at its current location a while longer.

To read more, go here

Sunday, February 19, 2017

10 Fun Free Things In Harajuku

Above, Spider-Man scales the side of a Harajuku building. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

If one happens to be in Tokyo but is a little short on cash, there are ways to doing things for free in the city.

Tokyo Cheapo has compiled a list of 10 free things to do while in the Harajuku section of Tokyo.

They begin with:
When I first moved to Tokyo, I was living on 1,000 yen 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 10 fun free things to do in Harajuku—pop culture hub and stomping ground of Tokyo’s most fashionable trendsetters.

To read more, go here

5 Foreign Languages To Be Served In 119 Calls

Above, Asakusa's Nakamise Street. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

119, Japan's equivalent to our 911 emergency call number, will soon be available in other languages.

The Japan News (Yomiuri Shimbun) reported:
In preparation for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency is planning to provide 24-hour foreign language services for 119 emergency calls nationwide. 
The Japanese government considers enabling rescue teams to respond to foreigners in need of medical attention due to sudden sickness or injury a form of omotenashi hospitality, providing travelers in Japan with an added sense of security. 
The fire agency, which is governed by the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry, is aiming to provide the services in at least five languages — English, Chinese, Korean, Spanish and Portuguese — with help from private businesses that offer interpretation services.
Other areas, depending upon their needs, will also have services in Russian, German or French.

To read more, go here.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Traveling Solo Safely

Above, The Beast at Circus Circus RV Park in Las Vegas. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

WinnebaGoLife newsletter blog has some safety tips for solo travelers.

Although the article is aimed primarily for female solo RV travelers, men can also use the tips provided.

The article starts with:
As a solo female full time RV’er, safety is the topic I am most often asked about. People are curious – do you feel safe, do you pack or carry a gun, what have you run into?

Thanks to my grandfather and dad instilling this in me, I never leave on a RV trip without having a firearm with me. A gun stored away in a box at home will not protect one while on the road.

Thanks also for the training I received when I worked armed patrol, I feel protected enough and capable in dealing with any threats that may arise. I have never had a problem while traveling solo, but as the Boy Scout Motto says, "Be Prepared!"

To read the full article, go here.

10 Must-Haves for the Brand New RVer

Above, The Beast at the dry campground behind the Gen. Patton Museum at Chiriaco Summit. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The latest edition of Winnebago Industries WinnebaGoLife showed up in my new email box and it contains several links to different stories at Winnebago's blog.

One is "GoGear: 10 Must-Haves for the Brand New RVer". I have about nine of them.

They begin their article with:
So, you bought a new RV! Fantastic!  Now what… 
At least that’s what we asked ourselves once we made our first big RV purchase. Between reading all the manuals and trying to learn the systems, purchasing a new rig can get overwhelming…we remember the excitement AND the sleepless nights very well. One thing we quickly learned is that the RV itself wasn’t to be our last purchase before hitting the road. There were a few things we needed to make our RVing experience run smoothly and efficiently.  To save you some of the hassle of figuring it out yourselves, we put together this list. Here are 10 things you’ll want to pick up right away!

To read more, go here

Yosemite "Firefall" Conditions Are Perfect

Above, a view of El Capitan from Tunnel View at Yosemite National Park. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

This week, the conditions at Yosemite National Park have been ideal for the annual "firefall" illusion to awe park visitors.

According to The Smithsonian:
This week, weather conditions at Yosemite were perfect for the annual “firefall”—when the sun strikes the park’s infamous Horsetail Falls at just such an angle to make it look as though the cascading water is on fire. 
Yosemite National Park is home to innumerable waterfalls, the longest of which is Yosemite Falls. Horsetail Falls, however, is one of the park’s greatest winter attractions. During mid-to-late February, if conditions are just right, the firefall appears. But, as author and photographer James Kaiser writes on his website, it’s a tricky combination to achieve. 
First, the waterfall isn’t always flowing in February; like most of Yosemite’s waterfalls, it’s fed by snowmelt. If there isn’t enough snow on the mountain, or if the weather doesn’t grow warm enough to melt the snow pack, Horsetail Falls will be dry, notes Kaiser, who wrote the book Yosemite: The Complete Guide
The weather also plays an important role. If the sun’s rays can’t penetrate cloud cover to reflect off Horsetail Falls, then nothing will happen. It must be a relatively cloud-free evening for the firefall effect to be visible.

Horsetail Falls is located on El Capitan.

Unfortunately, I haven't been to Yosemite during the time when the "firefall" appears, so I can't share any photographs of it. But, to read more, see a video and photographs of it, go here.

It Goes On...

Above, from Hot Bench. 

It was hoped that everything pertaining to my ex would be over and done with by now. It appears that this is not the case as there is one annoyance that has yet to be fully resolved.

DOJ = California Department of Justice - Bureau of Firearms
AFS = Automated Firearms System
LEGR = Law Enforcement Gun Release

Rather than re-write everything, here is what I posted at a gun owners' forum today:
Last summer, a vindictive ex-girlfriend filed for a temporary restraining order on me. Part of the order was to surrender my firearms to law enforcement. At the hearing, she dismissed the matter as I had ample proof that I was not bothering her. 
I had to file a Law Enforcement Gun Release Application with the DOJ and pay fees. After a long wait, I got the letters clearing me to retrieve my guns. I got all except for my Ruger 10-22 rifle that I bought in the early 1980s. The letter said that the AFS had "no record" of this firearm and was advised by the Los Angeles Police that I have to register it.  
I then sent the registration form and check for the fee back on December 9, 2016 (the check was cashed). I had to also re-file another Law Enforcement Gun Release Application and pay another fee.  
I just got the DOJ letter (dated February 13) again stating that AFS has "no record" of the firearm. This is two months after I filed to have it registered. I have 30 days from February 13 to get the gun under this letter (provided that it is registered in this period). This is ridiculous. If the gun is not put into the AFS system in time, I have to pay another fee with the DOJ with another LEGR application. 
I just sent the DOJ an email complaining about this. 
Does anyone have any recommendations on this? Do I have any recourse? Thanks.
Even though I initiated no contact with her, she nevertheless tried to set me up on some sort of stalking charge by filing the temporary restraining order. I had to get an attorney (as my gun rights were in jeopardy) and had months of text messages printed and brought to court proving that I was not the one doing the stalking. It was quite the opposite (also through her "flying monkeys"). This is a textbook case of a narcissistic smear campaign. Oy vey! If I only knew then what I know now!

I guess I'll have to keep on the DOJ's case so that the rifle gets timely registered. If I have to file another LEGR and pay a fee, it will be the third go-around. Jeez.


UPDATE (2/19/17): I received two responses to my forum query. They are:
It takes CA DOJ anywhere from 2-64 weeks to process a voluntary firearm registration.
(average time seems to be within 3-4 months)
The time period starts when they cash in your check.
When they finish processing your submission, they will mail you back acknowledgment.
You should submit the LEGR after they cash your check or when you receive the CA DOJ letter.
The check was cashed January 3.
I went through a similar situation two years ago and completely feel your pain. I reached out to the PD Detective assigned to my case and simply explained the issues I was having. She put a call into DOJ and three days later I received the reg letter and was able to go pick up my rifle.  
Just make sure to be cool..process sucks and everyone knows it but the good news is you're on the home stretch. Good luck.
Since the LAPD detective and I have a good rapport, I'll ask her to see if there's anything she can do. She's already aware of the situation.


UPDATE (2/24/17):

Good news was received in the mail today. I received a letter from the DOJ stating that the rifle is now registered and I am authorized to retrieve it from the LAPD Property Division. 

"The Great Deluge of 2017" Aftermath

Above, what's left of "Lake Tarzana" in the parking lot. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The "Great Deluge of 2017" is over (at least for now) and it left a big mess at my apartment building.

Above, the "fleet" came out fine. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The parking lot, as you can see from the accompanying photographs, has debris from the trees all over. This is not surprising since, at times, we received over an inch of rain per hour. Drought? What drought? I think it is definitely over.

At least The Beast and the Mustang came out of it unscathed. They just got a good car wash.

Unwanted Guest

Above, the hallway after the vagrant left. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Today started out a little bit interesting.

I was sitting in my apartment sipping some coffee when I received a text message from Christy, my next-door neighbor, telling me that a homeless guy decided to set up camp in our hallway between our apartment's front doors.

I asked her if she notified the manager, Roxana, and she said she did, but was told to call the police. Christy told her, quite properly, that's not her job. It is Roxana's job.

That's when I decided to check out the scene.

Sure enough, there was a homeless guy in a sleeping bag in the hallway. After putting my little semi-automatic into my pocket (one never knows if he's on crack or something), I went outside and politely told him that he had to leave. He apparently just woke up. He said, "Okay." He then started packing up his belongings and left.

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Great Deluge of 2017

Above, yours truly in the car at the market today. 

The heaviest rainstorm this season struck Los Angeles today.

It was predicted that one inch of rain per hour is expected to fall in the area. I believe it! I had to drive to West L.A. and back in it.

Jes, her mom and I went to the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center for a meeting that did not take place. Somebody got the information wrong. Well, we get to do it all again this coming Monday. Hopefully, we'll have dry weather that day. At least we had a good lunch at the hospital cafeteria.

The streets in the San Fernando Valley were like rivers. I hadn't seen such flooding in the Valley for a long time. It reminded me of the 1973 special election of a North Hollywood area state senate seat. Alan Robbins and Phil Johnson were in a head-to-head election showdown. It rained heavily on election night and a group of us from the Young Republicans of El Camino College took part in the GOTV that night. It was a lot of fun driving through the rain to get voters to the polls.

Johnson lost the special election. But, at least we had a good spaghetti dinner hosted by the Johnson campaign or the California Republican Party that night in a gymnasium. I later received  a thank-you note from then-Gov. Ronald Reagan, who said we all braved the storm for the GOP.

"Lake Tarzana" re-formed in my apartment's parking lot by the time I got home. My shoes were drenched through by the time I got inside. Looks like I am staying put tonight.

What drought?

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