"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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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Watching TV With A Friend

Amber sent this picture from her smartphone of Siren and I while watching television. This was typical of us.

Six Great Places To Visit On A Japan Rail Pass This Autumn Or At Any Time

Above, the pagoda at Kyoto's Kiyomizu-dera. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Ideas for what, when, where and how to see Japan seems to come from many quarters.

The latest is from the South China Morning Post from Hong Kong. They have posted an article on what six places to see in Japan in two weeks on a JR Rail Pass, from Hokkaido on down to Kyushu during the autumn months.

They begin with:
There’s a lot you can see in two weeks from the comfort of a train seat – and what’s more it’s an efficient, easy, and affordable way to see the country’s four main islands.
To read what they recommend, go here.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Remembering Jack

Above, Supervisor Mike Antonovich and Jack Larson at the "Superman Week"
ceremony on July 10, 2001. Photo courtesy of the office of Supervisor Antonovich.

Chris Brockow has several interviews, including one from yours truly, on memories of Jack Larson posted at The Adventures Continue website (that's run by Jim Nolt).

If you are a fan of Jack or of the Adventures of Superman television show, it is well worth a read.

To read the interviews, go here.

After Siren

The apartment is strangely quiet.

Although Siren had been ill for a little over a month, it seems very different that she is not here. She was my shadow and lap cat whenever I would watch television. She was a great companion and had a great personality. I could not have asked for a better cat.

She was born in my parents' garage in Hawthorne on Fourth of July 1997. She was sickly in the beginning. But Amber chose her and we nursed to health. She was even a playful kitten when she was sickly. She stayed a playful cat even when she got older.

Usually, when I got up in the morning or home from work, Siren would head to the kitchen to be fed and I would give her her medication. This morning, when I got up to heat up some coffee and prepare her food, she didn't come out to the kitchen. I didn't see her. I noticed that the vertical blinds behind a bookcase were a little askew. Siren would sometimes lie there. I went over and noticed that she was not moving and her eyes were open, she appeared to have died during the night. I immediately texted Amber.

When I cleared everything away to get to Siren, I found that she had been dead for some time. Amber called and I told her and she then called the vet to arrange for me to bring Siren's body there.

When we brought her in to the vet to be checked last week, I thought that they would recommend putting her to sleep. She didn't seem to be improving. They found that she had a mass in her chest area and thought maybe it had something to do with her lymph nodes (or even lymphoma). But, they didn't recommend putting her to sleep and wanted to try a different medication as she was stable.

Amber gave her medication (by injection) last evening. She was glad to have been able to see her for one last time.

Despite all, Siren still ate like a horse, even though she didn't gain weight.

It has become evident to me that when a cat gets old, they start dropping weight. Buttons, who died four years ago, was always fat, but she shed weight several months before she died. It seems to be a tell-tale sign that the end is not in the too distant future.

Should I get another cat? I haven't yet decided. While I like the company of a pet, by not having one means I don't have to adjust my life around the care of an animal. It takes responsibility to be a pet-owner. I will probably decide after the Japan trip on whether or not to get another cat. My age is a major consideration.

Besides the enjoyment of having a pet, another reason to consider getting one is there are so many who need homes. There are a couple of kittens at the vet's office that are up for adoption. If I do get another cat, it would be from there or from a shelter.

If I do get another cat, I'll have to get it used to traveling in a motorhome. Siren was too old to get her used to traveling. I considered taking her with us to Yellowstone, but the vet recommended not taking her due to her age (18). A new cat will have to get used to having a harness on and walking with a leash.

Much as I like the personalities of male cats, they tend to spray around the house if they are kept indoors. Buttons and Siren were totally indoor female cats. So if I get another cat, it will be another female.

If the Nomadic Fanatic can live and travel in a motorhome with a cat, I guess I can too. I just have to make up my mind.

Siren, July 4, 1997 - September 29, 2015

Good Sam and Coast To Coast Resorts

Over 26 years ago, my ex-wife and I would occasionally accept invitations from Coast To Coast Resorts for free three days, two-night camping at one of their resorts. We camped in either the tent trailer or micro-mini motorhome. All we had to do was to attend a 90-minute presentation on their membership campground programs. Some of the presentations were laid-back and some were high pressure. But, after enduring the presentations, we still had the free camping (one time was during the L.A. Riots following the Rodney King verdict) and came away with a gift (one of which was a propane barbecue).

We thought that the memberships were too pricey and declined. But, we had to admit, their campgrounds were first-class (generally-speaking).

Today I received the following email from Coast To Coast Resorts (part of it below):

You're invited to check out Coast to Coast Resorts!View in your browser.

What I found interesting is that Coast To Coast Resorts is a part of the Good Sam "family of companies". Note the Good Sam face in the Coast To Coast logo. I am currently a member of the Good Sam Club.

Since I have been out of the RVing loop for 25 years, I found it interesting to see that Coast To Coast Resorts is affiliated with the Good Sam Club. Will wonders ever cease? I guess I was away too long.


Japan Hotel, Ryokan, and Tour Booking Made Easy
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1-Day Mt. Fuji Autumn Leaf Viewing Tour
JPY 9,900
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Hitachi Autumn Flowers Tour with Sushi Lunch
JPY 9,980
Mt. Fuji, Shopping, and Autumn Leaves Tour with Dinner at Mt. Takao
JPY 15,000

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Kyoto Kibune Autumn Leaves Lantern Event and Dinner
JPY 11,500
Shirakawago & Takayama Autumn Leaf Valley Drive
JPY 9,800

Konansou (Kawaguchiko)
Japanese-style Rooms
from JPY 26,080
Jimyo-in (Koyasan)
Japanese-style Rooms
from JPY 22,000
Takayamaouan (Hida Takayama)
Twin Rooms
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Hotel Granvia Kyoto
Queen Rooms
from JPY 11,500
Hilton Tokyo
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from JPY 18,360
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Monday, September 28, 2015

Free Wi-Fi In Asakusa

Above, Asakusa' pagoda. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

For those of you who are in Tokyo and can't live without access to the Internet, Time Out Tokyo has some good news for you!

Soon, free Wi-Fi access will be available for tourists (and, presumably, anyone else) in Asakusa.

The dearth of free Wi-Fi access in Tokyo has been the bane of visitors for quite a while. Slowly, but surely, the city is getting more free Wi-Fi access in more areas.

To read about it, go here.

Budgeting Tips For Your Trip To Japan

Above, the Niigata Dormy Inn. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

If you are planning to take a vacation to Japan, there are three things that you should budget for: accommodations, food and transport.

Japan Info has posted an article on "Essential Budgeting Tips For Your Trip To Japan" that will help you budget and, also, save money (if you so choose).

They begin with:
Japan is often described as an expensive country to visit, live or work in. However, this does not need to be so and is not entirely true. Accommodation to live in Tokyo can be very expensive, but the same can be said for any other capital city across the world, such as London or New York. If you are planning a trip to Japan, you may feel that you need to save a lot of money to visit. This does not have to be true. Equally, if you wish to splash your cash in Japan, then there are many ways to do so. Below are the areas in which your money will be spent. You can either choose to save or spend in any or all of these areas.
To read more, go here.

Japanese Business Etiquette Tips

Above, former Toho-Los Angeles Gen. Manager Masaharu Ina and Armand with the Godzilla statue in Hibiya.

Over the past years, I have known many Americans (including myself) who have had occasion to conduct business with Japanese.

Conducting business with Japanese people and corporations can be daunting and frustrating in many respects for those who are not familiar with their business culture.

Ivanka Trump (yes, the ex-wife of The Donald) has posted a few tips on proper Japanese business etiquette that will help avoid creating an "international incident".

She begins with:
Traveling to a new place for work is exciting, but what are you supposed to do when your new French client peppers you with kisses? What about when you first meet your Singaporean co-workers? In our new global business etiquette series, we’ll show you how to work abroad without starting an international incident. First up: Japan.
Having successful business relationships with the Japanese is nowhere near impossible, and those relationships can (and do) lead to actual friendships.

To read more, go here

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Cheap Domestic Flights From Tokyo

Above, Fukuoka Tower. Low-cost carriers can take you
 to Fukuoka fast and cheaply. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

During G-TOUR in 2004, our tour group made its way down to Kyoto and Osaka as our last stops/stays during the tour.

On the last day of G-TOUR, we flew back to Tokyo's Narita International Airport aboard an All Nippon Airways (ANA) Boeing 747. At the time, I thought it odd that what was a short commuter hop from Osaka to Tokyo would be aboard such a jumbo jet. But, the plane was filled to capacity.

There are several ways to make a commute from cities far from Tokyo (Japan is roughly the size of California). Some are more convenient and cheaper than others.

Next month, I will be commuting from Tokyo (and back) to Atami, Nagoya, Osaka and Kyoto via shinkansen. I prefer to relax aboard the train and watching the countryside go by.

Tokyo Cheapo has an article on a cheap way to get from Tokyo to other Japanese cities for those who are in a little bit more in a hurry.

They begin with:
Some places Japan are just too far for us cheapos to take a loooong bus ride to, and then you have the places that you can’t even reach by bus from Tokyo, such as Okinawa. Besides, overnight buses aren’t for everyone, as they can be uncomfortable. Fortunately, there’s some middle ground between buses (usually the cheapest but most time-consuming option) and the very expensive but fast shinkansen: low-cost carriers (LCCs), a boon to many travelers in the recent decade.
 To read more about the low-cost carriers, go here.

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