"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.

Buy The Amazon Kindle Store Ebook Edition

Buy The Amazon Kindle Store Ebook Edition
Get the ebook edition here! (Click image.)

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Kilauea "Firehose of Lava"

Above, lava inside a Kilauea vent crater. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

One of the highlights of my trip to Hawaii last May was a helicopter tour of Kilauea volcano.

We were treated to some spectacular views during the tour. Those pale in comparison to a video shot of a "firehose of lava" from Kilauea into the sea.

According to The Telegraph:

Researchers from the USGS’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory captured dramatic footage showing a ‘firehose’ of lava flowing from the Kilauea Volcano and into the sea. 
The video also captures littoral explosions as the super hot lava makes contact with the cold sea water at the Kamokuna lava tube.

To see the video, go here

RE: Statue of Liberty

Smaller RVs Are In Vogue

Above, The Beast at the Flying J Campground near Springfield, Illinois. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Two years ago, I was looking at buying a stock van to convert into a camper. Since I am not all that mechanically inclined to modifications myself, I then began looking at new Class B (van campers) RVs. I never planned to buy used.

I was surprised at the cost of them. They averaged $100,000. I didn't want to spend that much. Plus, there's not much room in them.

Above, Class A, Class B, Class C and travel trailers at Marin RV Park. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Then, I started looking at Class C RVs (Class Cs are so named for the cabover bed) and settled on the 2015 Winnebago Minnie Winnie 22R. It is a 23 foot RV that easily fits into my double parking space. That was my main consideration, getting something that would allow me to park both the RV and my car in my apartment building's parking lot. But, it also is roomy enough. It is built on a Ford chassis with a V10 Triton engine. It has plenty of power.

Additionally, the cost of new Class Cs were a lot less than new Class B RVs. I got The Beast for almost half the cost of a new Class B. I paid cash for it, so I had no need for any financing.

According to a recent article in RV Life, the trend in 2016 was that people were buying smaller RVs in greater numbers whether they are motorhomes, travel trailers or truck campers.

They wrote:
Look around any full RV park and you might wonder if more Class Bs and Class Cs are on the highway these days. If so, you would be correct. Choosing smaller RVs on purpose is in vogue according to RV sales trends from 2016.
There's several reasons the article states for this trend. One is the average age of new buyers. They're younger. Another reason: amenities that are now built inside. Additionally, some campgrounds (such as state and national parks) are unable to accommodate larger RVs. There are many places where it is not a good idea to drive a big 40-footer Class A.

It is an interesting article, particularly it is something to look at if one is contemplating buying a new or used RV.

To read the article, go here.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Tsukiji Outer Market To Remain

Above, a kitchenware vendor at the Tsukiji outer market. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The historic Tsukiji Fish Market may be moving (when, is anyone's guess), but the outer market, where the shops and restaurants are located, is remaining.

According to the Japan Times:
Although the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and Tsukiji’s fish merchants are wrangling over the planned transfer of the site in Chuo Ward to the Toyosu district in Koto Ward a few kilometers southeast, there is still a portion of the world-famous market that will remain vibrant and unchanged. 
The Tsukiji outer market area, known as Tsukiji Jogai Shijo, is located next to the inner market (Jonai Shijo), an area strictly for licensed wholesalers, whose move to Toyosu has proved contentious due to soil contamination at the new site. 
The outer market, however, is accessible to everyone, and is always crowded with tourists. The 460 shops, selling everything from fresh tuna sashimi and dried fish to kitchenware, will not move to Toyosu.
To read more, go here

Matsushima Highlights

Above, gulls will take food from Matsushima sightseeing cruise passengers. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Visitors to Japan are in for a treat if they venture out of Tokyo and head north to the Tohoku region.

There, they will find Matsushima, which is only minutes away from Sendai on a local commuter train.

Matsushima has been compared (quite favorably) to Carmel-By-The-Sea in California for its scenic beauty. I visited Matsushima in 2006 and enjoyed it very much.

Goin' Japanesque has a feature article on different places in Matsushima to see. It is the first of a series.

They begin with:
In this article, we introduce the highlights of one of Three Most Scenic Spots of Japan, Matsushima. It also happens to be a 3 Michelin star location. Here’s a list of all the places we would love for you to visit

To read more and see some photographs, go here

JAL, ANA Barring Nationals of 7 Muslim States From U.S.-bound Flights

Above, an ANA jet at Narita International Airport. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways (ANA) have taken steps to screen travelers who are from countries subject to the temporary ban on immigration.

According to the Mainichi Shimbun:
TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan's two major air carriers decided Monday to bar in principle people from seven Muslim-majority countries from taking flights from Japan to the United States following President Donald Trump's entry ban, officials of the companies said. 
The decisions by Japan Airlines Co. and All Nippon Airways Co. came after Trump on Friday signed an executive order barring nationals of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the United States for 90 days.

To read more, go here.

Tokyo Taxi Base Fare Lowered

Above, a taxi cab in the Roppongi district of Tokyo. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

In an effort to spur taxi usage in Tokyo, the base fare for Tokyo taxis has been lowered.

Jiji Press reported:
Tokyo, Jan. 30 (Jiji Press)--The starting fare for taxis mainly in densely populated areas of Tokyo was cut to 410 yen on Monday from 730 yen as the industry aims to spur demand for short-distance rides in response to the falling number of taxi users.  
The new fare system is for taxis in service in Tokyo's 23 wards, and Musashino and Mitaka, also in the Japanese capital.

 To read more, go here.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

2017 F.I.D.D.C. Dinner

Above, the official program. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Photos by Armand Vaquer

The 2017 F.I.D.D.C*. Dinner is now history. It was the 45th annual dinner.

College and (not too) Young Republicans gathered today at the Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery in Northridge to celebrate the new year and take a fond look back at the past year of politics and events.

Above, the Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery in Northridge. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

This is the F.I.D.D.C.'s first dinner at the Tilted Kilt since The Man Cave in Studio City went out of business. We were served by the Kilt Girls.

We "handed" out the annual Freddie Awards, lit and snuffed out the "Eternal Turkey" and read last year's dinner's predictions and made our predictions for this year.

A great time of drinks, food, jokes and general fun was had by all.

Some photos of the dinner:

*I can't say what F.I.D.D.C. stands for. It's TOP SECRET!

Executive Order On Immigration & Refugees: The Facts

President Trump's Executive Order on immigration and refugees has caused a meltdown in the media, Hollywood celebrities and liberals across the county.

Ben Shapiro has taken a good look at the Order and wrote a detailed article for the Daily Wire.

It begin with:
Late on Friday afternoon, President Trump signed an executive order significantly cracking down on entry into the United States by citizens from Muslim countries Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen. It quickly fell under fire from the media, which suggested that Trump was doing something unprecedented, racist, Islamophobic, and utterly horrifying. Then, on Saturday, a New York federal judge put a stay on the order. 
So, what do you need to know about the order?

To read the complete analysis to find out what it does and what it doesn't do, go here.


Immigration protests: manufactured outrage bought and paid for by George Soros!

Last Night At Tony Roma's

Above, from left, Tim Denton, Mark Rosenthal, Glenn Thornhill, Arleigh Kerr and yours truly at Tony Roma's.

An annual event will take place today at the Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery in Northridge. It is something that dates back to our Young Republican days back in college.

As such, friends have come in from out of state to attend. In this case, Arleigh Kerr arrived yesterday from Lexington, Kentucky.

Last night Arleigh, Tim Denton, Mark Rosenthal, Glenn Thornhill and I met up at Tony Roma's in Encino for dinner. As what usually happens, we closed the place as we sat there in conversation about political events, some humorous and not-so-humorous.

I apparently missed the news last month that former California Lt. Governor Ed Reinecke passed away on Christmas Eve at age 92 as he came up in the conversation (most of us worked in his 1974 campaign for governor). I had met Reinecke and got to know him a little bit and he would have been a great governor, but he got railroaded with a phony Watergate-related charge that was later dismissed.

We had a good time and had a lot of laughs.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

"Three Must-See Reasons To Visit Japan (Setouchi Region)"

Above, the torii gate at Miyajima. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) has posted an article by Levi Caleb Allan on "Three Must-See Reasons To Visit Japan (Setouchi Region)".

The Setouchi Region is the vicinity of Hiroshima and Miyajima.

The article starts with:
Having only been out of Australia once before, you can imagine the culture shock I experienced when Visit Japan Au invited me along to explore the southern regions of Japan over a week, late last year. 
Japan, a country that consists of over 6,800 islands, is genuinely one of the most amazing countries you could ever experience, both culture wise & scenic wise. I don’t there’s another place on earth with people so kind (they have over 18 ways to say “sorry”, like what?) and civilised, food so scrumptious & diverse, yet live in a landscape so stunning and still be over populated. 
Being well known for it’s reliable year-long temperature and low rainfall levels, the Setouchi Region (otherwise known as Okayama) consists of a constant pleasing climate for the locals, making it more substainable to farm high-quality vegetation such as rice.
My approach to travelling (& photography..) is quite often exploring & hiking through vast mountain scapes in search of wide scenes that amplify the meaning of isolation in the outdoors, so it was quite a creative experience spending the better half of a week learning the Japanese culture & way of life, first hand. 
I’ll definitely be visiting Japan again in the near future to explore and hike the alps of the north side of the country, otherwise known as Tohoku. 
Below I’m going to give you my personal top three reasons to visit Japan (Setouchi Region).

To read more, go here

Tokyo Cheapo's Kamakura Mega Guide

Above, the Great Buddha of Kamakura. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Visitors to Japan, and Tokyo in particular, who have limited amounts of time but would also like to venture out of the metropolis, then a day trip to Kamakura is something to consider.

I visited Kamakura during the first G-TOUR in 2004. Two of the places we stopped at were the Great Daibutsu and the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu shrine.

Tokyo Cheapo has posted their "mega guide" on Kamakura that focuses on 7 historical sites.

They start with:
Whether you want a day of hiking from shrine to temple through beautiful mountains and valleys, a day at the beach or a stroll around a bustling town with its fair share of culture, Kamakura (just south of Tokyo) is perfect. A long-ago political capital alongside Nara and Kyoto, Kamakura shares many of the traditional features and is a great place to get your taste of ancient Japan if you can’t reach Kansai. 
Once a great fortress town thanks to the surrounding mountains and open sea, it is now  thriving city filled with quaint shopping streets, stunning temples and peaceful shrines, along with the famous Buddha of course. With a history of inhabitants stretching back 10,000 years, Kamakura developed into the political capital of medieval Japan and was the site of numerous battles, mainly during the Kamakura period, which ended in 1333 with a brutal siege. The city originally had 7 entrances, also known as the seven mouths of Kamakura, but has since been opened up with roads and tunnels for a more city-like feel, and less of a battlefield stronghold. These days there is plenty to explore for everyone, but we have listed a few ideas for a great day in one of our favorite cities!

Another nice thing about Kamakura, it is not too far from Yokosuka, where the Godzilla slide is located at the Kurihama Flower World.

The article also has information on getting to Kamakura from Tokyo.

To read more, go here.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Donald J. Trump Joins The Greats...

...In Oils:

Experience Tokyo Off The Beaten Track

Above, number 7 on the list was accomplished in 2015. Photo by Photo studio Nanairo.

If you're a first-time or seasoned visitor to Tokyo, there's a number of things to experience in the city besides going up the Tokyo Skytree (or even Tokyo Tower) or visiting Sensoji shrine in Asakusa.

Savvy Tokyo has compiled a list of eight things to do "off the beaten track" that are considered Tokyo-only experiences. To date, we've done number 7 on the list (photo above) and number 8 is something I'll have to have a look into the next time I am in Tokyo.

Before Savvy Tokyo lists the eight items, they begin with:
Say what you want about Tokyo—just don’t call it unexciting or predictable. When it comes to cool and eccentric attractions, quirky entertainment and extraordinary experiences, Japan’s metropolis qualifies in more ways than one. But while the ultra popular Robot Restaurant and Maid Cafés have had their moment in the limelight, there are plenty of other off-kilter things to do to make lifetime memories here. As hard as it’s to narrow it down, here’s my recommended roundup of eight only-in-Tokyo experiences to put on your exploration bucket list.

To read more, go here

Kiyomizu To Get A New Roof

Above, the main hall will be getting a new roof, starting next month. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Visitors headed to Japan in February and March who plan to visit Kiyomizu will find that the iconic views of the main hall and stage will be marred while the main hall gets a new roof. The project will take three years to complete.

According to the Mainichi Shimbun:
KYOTO -- The famed Kiyomizu Temple, a designated national treasure, is set to begin replacing the roof of its main hall in early February for the first time in 50 years, temple officials said. 
The work is scheduled to be completed by March 2020. During the work, visitors will be able to enter the temple premises in Higashiyama Ward, including its well-known wooden stage. However, the view of the temple on its hilltop perch -- one of the ancient capital's most famous vistas -- will be marred somewhat by the temporary roofing that will cover the main hall.
I visited Kiyomizu in October 2015 and have plenty of photos of the main hall and stage.

To read more, go here.

Kiss My Nagasaki!

Posters are sprouting up all over Kyushu and other places in Japan with the words, "Kiss My Nagasaki". 

People are wondering what the purpose for the posters is and Japan Today has the answers.

They wrote:
TOKYO —An American friend recently posted a poster he spotted in Kyushu on social media with the comment, “Someone at the Nagasaki tourism board getting creative.” It was this eye-catcher poster at left. 
The poster is actually part of a new promotion by JR Kyushu to promote seven sightseeing areas around the city of Nagasaki. Japanese pop culture-loving readers might already be savvy to the reference they are making, but the aggressive sounding tagline seems rife with confusion for international visitors. When I shared the photo to see what people thought, responses from abroad were largely befuddled.

To read more, go here.

Dollar Above ¥115 In Tokyo

The U.S. dollar recovered ground in Tokyo trading today.

The Japan Times reported:
The dollar hit one-week highs above ¥115 in Tokyo on Friday on the back of an increase in the Bank of Japan’s outright buying of outstanding Japanese government bonds from the money market. 
At 5 p.m., the dollar stood at ¥115.21-22, up from ¥113.76-77 at the same time Thursday. 

To read more, go here

Thursday, January 26, 2017


Old Tent Trailers Never Die...

...they are "recycled" into some other use.

Apollo 1 Crew Remembered

Above, Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee.

While it does seem like 50 years ago, it also seems unreal at the same time as I still remember the news bulletins on television. My parents went to the bank and I stayed home to watch the news.

Tomorrow marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 1 launch pad fire that took the lives of astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee.

The anniversary was commemorated today by family members of the astronauts.

According to The Japan Times:
CAPE CANAVERAL, FLORIDA – Moonwalkers and dozens of others who took part in NASA’s Apollo program are paying tribute to the three astronauts killed in a fire 50 years ago. 
On the eve of the Apollo 1 anniversary, hundreds gathered at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center on Thursday to honor Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee. They died at the launchpad, inside their burning spacecraft, on Jan. 27, 1967.
There is also an exhibit on the Apollo 1 fire that is set to open tomorrow.

To read more, go here

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Roppongi Hills: Best Date Spot In Tokyo?

Above, Mori Tower in Roppongi Hills. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

When vacationing in Japan (or anywhere else) with a traveling companion of the opposite sex, the trip itself is basically a "date".

Then again, there are those who may be traveling solo but know some ladies in Tokyo to take out.

Whichever the case may be, if one wants to take her (or him) out on the town for a special "date night", City-Cost.com has a suggestion: Roppongi Hills.

According to their article:
Few would argue that Tokyo’s Roppongi Hills hasn’t been a booming success. And in an area that, prior to its unveiling, was almost exclusively associated with the wanton debauchery of drunk and horny West meets drunk and curious East, Roppongi Hills has come along and injected a heavy dose of class. Class that could well make this the best date spot in all of Tokyo. Here’s why …

They give a number of reasons, the first being "romantic and free views" of Tokyo Tower. You'd have to read the full article to see the other, and quite valid, reasons to take a date to Roppongi Hills.

To read more, go here.

Scientific Discoveries of the Interior of the USS Arizona

Above, "tears of the Arizona" rise to the surface from the sunken ship. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

It was very moving for me to see firsthand the sunken battleship USS Arizona resting on the bottom of Pearl Harbor below me from the deck of the USS Arizona Memorial.

For years, I have heard that oil still seeps to the surface from the vessel. I saw it for myself last May. They are called "the tears of the Arizona" or "black tears".

It was an experience to see the ship at rest, knowing that men are entombed inside.

Above, the USS Arizona Memorial, built over the sunken ship. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

War History Online has an interesting article on a recent ten-day survey of the interior of the ship by unmanned submersibles.

They wrote:
Clearly, the deputy chief and photographer of the National Park Service’s Submerged Resources Centre (SRC) has been touched by the latest images from the sunken battleship USS Arizona, which has lain at the bottom of Pearl Harbour since December 7, 1941. 
Brett Seymour, viewing recent images from remotely operated vehicles says the most striking find was a jacket hanging in an officer’s quarters. 
It was clean, not covered in sediment, and hadn’t fallen off the hangar. It was there, standing proud. 
Seymour was part of a team which was comprised of the NPS and National Geographic photographers that for ten days documented the interior first and second decks of the 608-foot long battleship.
Above, the deck of the USS Arizona. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

According to the article, the next step is to survey the third deck, "whenever that will be."

To read more, go here.

Drying Out The Awning

Finally, we're getting a break from the rain, although we needed it.

Today has been the sunniest and warmest it has been in Tarzana in many days. I took the opportunity to roll out The Beast's awning so it can air out and dry so that mildew doesn't form.

According to my Weather Channel app, the next big chance (60%) of rain will come on Friday, February 3.

Search This Blog