"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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Thursday, May 31, 2018

Roswell 2018 UFO Festival Promo Video

The organizers of the 2018 Roswell UFO Festival in (where else?) Roswell, New Mexico in July has put out a promo video on YouTube.

Here it is:

Roswell 2018 UFO Festival News

New post on Official UFO Festival Roswell Website

2018 UFOlogist Invasion

by UFO Festival
It'll be here before you know it. Be sure to check out the International UFO Museum & Research Center website for information on the speakers they will be hosting the days of the Invasion, and don't forget to mark it on your calendars - you don't want to miss a thing!

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Deaths On Half Dome

Above, a morning view of Half Dome. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Since I was never fond of heights or hiking, I would never be one of those who would climb up Yosemite National Park's Half Dome, even in my younger days.

But many people have climbed Half Dome successfully, but there has been a few fatalites.

The Mercury News takes a look at the fatalities that took place on Half Dome over the years.

They begin their article with:
The last segment of the hike up Yosemite’s Half Dome is memorable — and, to many, nerve-wracking — but deaths there are rare. 
The fatal fall of a hiker last week has turned attention to the safety of the cable route up the national park’s iconic rock. 
In the almost 100 years since cables were installed to help hikers climb the steep pitch of the dome, eight people have died from falling on that stretch. Of those fatal falls, four occurred when the rock was wet and at least one was caused by a hiker’s collapse from illness.

To read more, go here

Dean Devlin Reflects On Godzilla 1998's Problems

Above, G.I.N.O. in New York. Photo by TriStar Pictures.

It is hard to believe that this year marks 20 years since the Roland Emmerich/Dean Devlin Godzilla hit the theaters and disappointed the hell out of Godzilla fans and movie fans in general.

Today, the movie is largely forgotten, or remembered with derision. Among Godzilla fans, the 1998 movie is more commonly referred to as G.I.N.O. (or GINO), as in Godzilla In Name Only. This was coined by fan Richard Pusateri and, which is not too surprising, the name stuck!

Screen Rant has posted an article with reflections by writer Dean Devlin on why the movie flopped.

It starts out with:
Dean Devlin, the writer of the 1998 Godzilla reboot, reflects on what went wrong with the American adaptation of the popular Toho property. The film has been ridiculed by fans and is commonly considered to be the worst Godzilla movie ever made. One of fans' biggest problems with the movie is that its version of Godzilla barely resembled the King of the Monsters, both in spirit and in appearance.

That last sentence basically sums it up for fans.

Above, the 1954 classic Godzilla. Photo by Toho Co., Ltd.

To read what Devlin has to say, go here.

We Can Thank A Rocker For Making UFOs Serious News

What does a rock 'n roll star do when he reaches his 40s and his music career has cooled? He starts investigating UFOs.

According to a Washington Post email I received:
In December 2017, news reports swirled about a secret Pentagon UFO program complete with grainy military videos showing radar images of unexplained phenomena. The Washington Post’s Dan Zak writes that Tom DeLonge, formerly of Blink 182, helped ring the alarm about reports such as this one, as part of his new business venture: To The Stars Academy of Arts and Science. For his advisory board, DeLonge recruited physicists, aerospace experts and former Department of Defense officials, who have been talking publicly about UFOs and arguing that the government has failed to fully investigate them. 

To read the Washington Post article, go here

Visitors Crowd Into Zion National Park Over Memorial Day Weekend

Above, The Organ at Zion National Park. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Having too many people in a small area at a national park is not my idea of fun.

This is what happened in a single day over the Memorial Day weekend at Zion National Park in Utah.

According to U.S. News & World Report:
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — More than 30,000 people crowded to Zion National Park in a single day over Memorial Day weekend as the iconic red-rock landscape at the already crowded park remains highly popular. 
The Deseret News reports that some visitors waited an hour and a half to ride the shuttle in the popular park. Visitation Zion has spiked by 60 percent increase over the last decade, and most people crowd to Zion Canyon, a 6-mile corridor along the Virgin River.

To read more, go here

Painting Progress

Progress is continuing on the painting of the three mesas that are across the valley from Jamestown, New Mexico.

Asya sent me the above drawing on the canvas. She said she's almost finished with the drawing. The next step is to apply the oil paints over the pencil work. As you can see, there's more detail.

She said:
Hi, Armand. Almost finished with the drawing. What sbout the very most foreground? Do you want me to keep natural grass and bushes there? A few? Or is it fine now? Or you want mostly plain grass? 
The canvas is huge. Good for you, the size will be a bonus for you;) should fit the wall well.

Tokyo's Statue of Liberty

Above, a view of the Statue of Liberty and the Rainbow Bridge from Aqua City. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Since I've never been to New York, the only Statue of Liberty I've ever seen was the one erected at Tokyo's Odaiba.

Back in 2004, G-TOUR made a stop in Odaiba for some shopping at Aqua City. Aqua City and Odaiba, as Godzilla fans recall, was a battleground for Godzilla and Megaguirus in 2000. So a stop there by G-TOUR was, as Mr. Spock would say, logical.

While there with G-TOUR, I noticed a replica, albeit a small one, of the Statue of Liberty.

Here's a little about it from Time Out Tokyo:
Shocking to most Americans, Tokyo’s small Statue of Liberty has little to do with the U S of A. NYC’s Lady Liberty was given to the city by France way back in 1886, while Tokyo’s own version was temporarily moved from its home at Paris’ Île aux Cygnes to Odaiba in 1998 to commemorate Franco-Japanese ties for a year. 
It turned out to be so popular that they decided to erect a new replica on Odaiba in 2000. Combined with the backdrop of the Rainbow Bridge, it has been the ultimate photo spot ever since.

To read more, go here

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

"Massive" Truck Driver Shortage

Above, Bill's huge Kenworth. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

A few weeks ago, my friend Bill, who I've known since junior high school, stopped by at the Flying J travel center near my home in Jamestown, New Mexico. We met up at the Denny's restaurant and had a nice visit over breakfast.

He and his wife have been truck drivers for ages. They both share in the duties in driving their big Kenworth around the country (it has an automatic transmission). They have a "sleeper cab" that is about the size of a 14 foot travel trailer with beds, dinette, bathroom (with toilet and shower) and kitchen (they just recently traded up for an even larger truck). To me, their lifestyle is like full-time RVing and getting paid for it.

It would seem to me that this would be a great job for a couple with no children or couples with grown children.

But, according to an article in the Washington Post, there is a shortage of truck drivers.

They wrote:
America has a massive shortage of truck drivers. Joyce Brenny, head of Brenny Transportation in Minnesota, increased driver pay 15 percent this year to try to attract more drivers. Many of her drivers now earn $80,000, she says, yet she still can't find enough people for the job. 
About 51,000 more drivers are needed to meet the demand from companies such as Amazon and Walmart that are shipping more goods across the country, according to the American Trucking Associations. The driver shortage is already leading to delayed deliveries and higher prices for goods that Americans buy. The ATA predicts that it's likely to get worse in the coming years. 
Many trucking companies are so desperate for drivers that they are offering signing bonuses and pay raises. So why don't more Americans want this job? We asked truck drivers who have been doing the job anywhere from four months to 40 years for their views.

To read more, go here.

How To Climb Mount Fuji

Above, nighttime climbers on the slope of Mount Fuji. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Have you ever thought about attempting to climb to the summit of Mount Fuji in Japan?

No, me neither. But if you happen to be one who has considered it, Tokyo Cheapo has some information on how to do it.

They begin with:
Gazing down on Japan from atop its symbolic mountain is high on the bucket list for most visitors and residents alike, but at 3,766m it’s not the effortless stroll that many elderly Japanese people make it seem. If climbing Fuji is your summer to-do this year, here’s what you’ll need to know.

To read more, go here

ABC Cancels "Rosanne"

Roseanne Barr really stepped into it today.

She made a supposed "racist" Tweet about Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett and winds up getting her show cancelled by ABC.

Here's the offending Tweet:

And, here's ABC's response:

A Revelation

Above, the Crosley and the CD player. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

A few years ago, I bought a little Crosley "suitcase" turntable so I can play my vinyl LPs and 45s. I like it except that the volume at maximum is a bit too low.

I have a Fisher stereo system that has a turntable and cassette deck, but the turntable belt needs replacing. I was about to get a new belt when my former apartment in Tarzana had two (at the same time) pipe breaks and the water that gushed out ruined the speakers to the Fisher set. So, now the set sits in the garage.

I bought a CD player for the den/guest room. Last week, I was going through a moving box and found some plug/wires for stereo systems. I decided to see if the Crosley turntable can be played through the CD player's auxiliary port. Sure enough, it worked and the sound from the Crosley now blares out of the the CD player's speakers. I can enjoy my vinyl records again!

For the past several days, I have been playing my old albums (Jethro Tull, Waylon Jennings, Buffalo Springfield, Cream, Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Presley, Poco, movie soundtracks and others) that I haven't played in years.

Having the sound come through new speakers was a revelation. I missed the rich, warm sound of vinyl. I have to agree with Neil Young, analog vinyl sounds much better than digital CDs.

Thankfully, vinyl has made a comeback in recent years, so there's plenty out there to buy.

Currently, I am debating on either getting the belt replaced on the Fisher and get new speakers for it or just buy a whole new set that includes a cassette deck (I have a lot of cassette tapes).

In the meantime, I'll just enjoy my old records with what I have.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Nightly Indian Dancing Begins In Gallup

Above, the Zuni Eagle Dance. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The summer season of Nightly Indian Dancing in the Gallup Courthouse Square began tonight with a dancing group from the Zuni Pueblo located about 33 miles south of Gallup, New Mexico.

The free dance show begins every night at 7:00 for one hour. Dancers from different tribes or pueblos perform traditional dances. The Nightly Indian Dances are co-sponsored by the City of Gallup and the Gallup Chamber of Commerce.

Tonight was well attended by about 300 people. The temperature was comfortable and the sky clear with a full moon.

Here are some of the dances performed this evening:

Above, the Zuni Eagle Dance. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, the Zuni Pottery Dance. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, the Zuni Deer Dance. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, the Zuni Buffalo Dance. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Along with the dances, Native American flutist Fernando Solisione (I'm spelling his last name phonetically) also performed.

Above, flutist Fernando Solisione (sp?) performs. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

While heading home (east of Gallup about 17 miles), a full moon was in the eastern sky.

Above, a full moon as seen from my front yard. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

It was a nice, relaxing way to enjoy a late spring evening. I picked up a schedule of future dances. I will very likely attend many times this summer.

Last of The Boxes

Above, the last of the boxes. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Today, I did some more cutting up and discarding of moving boxes that were too thrashed during my move to be reusable.

It is getting so that the garage has a lot of room to it for other things (I am considering getting either an ATV or a golf cart).

The photo above shows the last remaining boxes. The two larger boxes were what Home Depot shipped my patio set. The other two are U-Haul Mirror Paks. Unlike the boxes I've dumped, these are in very good shape.

I posted a notice at the community Facebook page offering these and other boxes. If no takers, then they will be cut up and dumped.

Whispering Cedars From I-40

Since I have the flag up for Memorial Day, I thought it would be interesting to use it to pinpoint where my house is located in the Whispering Cedars community in Jamestown, New Mexico.

The flagpole is 20 feet tall and when you add a few feet below where it is mounted, it is roughly 24 feet tall.

I went down to Six Mile Road that parallels next to Interstate 40 and went down the road to a spot where I could spot the flag. I then took a few pictures.

Here's Whispering Cedars:

Above, Whispering Cedars. Can you spot the flag? Probably not. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Here's a blow-up of the above picture showing the flag:

Above, the flag can be seen in this photo. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Here's another general view of Whispering Cedars:

Above the reddish building at the left is the fire station. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Remembering Those Who Have Fallen

Above, Arlington National Cemetery. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Rare On-Set James Bond Photos

Above, here's one Esquire doesn't have. Roger Moore addressing members of the Ancient and Honorable
 Order of E Clampus Vitus when he was inducted into the group during the filming of
A View To A Kill.

Esquire magazine's website has 30 interesting rare on-set photos that cover the past 50 years of James Bond movies.

As they said in the post, "these are the moments we never saw in the movies."

To see them, go here.

Structural Repairs Closes USS Arizona Memorial "Indefinitely"

Above, the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

One of Hawaii's most popular tourist attractions is now closed for structural repairs.

Visitors to Hawaii's Pearl Harbor will be disappointed to learn that the USS Arizona Memorial is closed for repairs "indefinitely".

National Public Radio reported:
The USS Arizona Memorial off Honolulu's coast is closed for repairs. Jay Blount, a spokesman for the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, told Hawaii News Now that the edge where the visitor ramp meets the memorial has fissures on its exterior and the loading ramp is not being properly supported. 
On Friday, an update on the National Park Service Facebook page for the monument said the memorial would remain closed to visitors "for an undetermined period of time while repairs are made." During the repair process, free programs at the USS Arizona Memorial will continue: Visitors can still see a documentary film at the site and receive a harbor tour of Battleship Row, the area where eight U.S. battleships, including the USS Arizona, were moored when the attack on Pearl Harbor began. Other parts of the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center will stay open as well. 
"As Memorial Day approaches, across the nation the National Park Service strives to honor our fallen veterans as well as those who continue to serve," the statement says. "We understand the unfortunate nature of the USS Arizona Memorial closure during this period and ask visitors to understand that their safety is our primary concern." 
The USS Arizona Memorial is an extremely popular site: It receives an average of 4,000 to 5,000 visitors a day. Concerns about its condition began earlier this month: Hawaii News Now reports that on May 6, boat transportation to the memorial was suspended after a vessel operator noticed a crack on its exterior. At that time, engineers began what they thought would be short-term repairs. The memorial was temporarily reopened, but closed within hours because additional cracks appeared. At that point, officials realized that there were more extensive structural issues to handle.
Above, the area of concern is where the ramp meets the memorial. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

To read more, go here

Beware of California Phony Slate Mailers

The Looney Left Report

Radical leftists are trying to buy elective offices by sending out mailers implying that candidates are being endorsed by the Republican Party. These include non-partisan offices such as district attorneys, auditors, controllers and judges.

Beware of  phony endorsement mailers being sent out by Voter Guide Slate Cards of the Seedborg Campaigns company, who is affiliated with the West Los Angeles radical Democrat political machine headed up by Michael Berman. These "endorsements" are totally bogus as candidates pay to be included in these slate mailers. For all anyone knows, that candidate may be a total lunatic! 

If you receive such an endorsement mailer that implies that he/she is being endorsed by the Republican Party and it is sent out by Voter Guide Slate Cards, check with your county's Republican Party headquarters before voting.


Don't Forget Your Flag Tomorrow!

Tomorrow is Memorial Day and this is just a reminder to fly your flag!

New Mexico Primary Election Day June 5

Above, the Whispering Cedars Fire Station, the location of my polling place. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Like Commiefornia (i.e., California), New Mexico's primary election day is Tuesday, June 5.

One of the first things I did after moving to New Mexico was to register to vote. Our polling place is at the Whispering Cedars Fire Station.

One thing I noticed in New Mexico is that some Democrat candidates for such offices as County Sheriff and others that are usually non-partisan, have their party affiliation on their campaign signs. Frankly, the way the Democrats have been behaving since the 2016 election, I don't see this as any help to their campaigns. This may result in a "red wave". We shall see.

People, quite frankly, would be crazy to vote for a Democrat for any law enforcement-related position since they corrupted the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI, essentially turning them into the KGB. Also, the Democrat Party has been taken over by radical leftists. There are no traditional Democrats left like Henry "Scoop" Jackson, Sam Nunn, JFK and others.

Thus far, I have met the Republican candidate for New Mexico U.S. Senator, Mick Rich. He will face the Democrat incumbent in November since he's running unopposed.

This election should prove to be very interesting!

Soaring Gas Prices On Memorial Day Weekend

Above, the gas pumps at the Flying J in Jamestown, New Mexico. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Before heading off to the Gallup Flea Market yesterday, I stopped at the Flying J to check my mail and fill up the Mustang's gas tank.

The price for unleaded regular gasoline at the Flying J is $2.89/gallon. With my five cent per gallon discount through my Good Sam Club membership, I paid $2.84/gallon. At least I am no longer in Los Angeles, where gas prices are around $3.76/gallon (according to GasBuddy).

Additionally, I thank my lucky stars that I got a tune-up for the Mustang before moving from California (and no traffic issues in New Mexico), because I am getting 29 miles per gallon.

Other states' gasoline prices aren't so cheap.

According to CNN Money:
Gas prices have soared, and some areas of the country are feeling it more than others. 
The sharpest price hikes have hit the Midwest. Over the past month, the average price per gallon of gas in Michigan has shot up 32 cents, more than any other state. Its statewide average recently hit $3.15, according to data from GasBuddy, a platform that tracks real-time prices at stations across the country. 
North Dakota's gas is $2.96 on average, about 29 cents higher than a month ago. And Wisconsin's gas hit $2.94 per gallon, a 28 cent increase. Wyoming, Minnesota and Ohio round out the top six. 
The national average price per gallon of regular is creeping toward the $3 mark, making it the most expensive for a Memorial Day weekend since 2014, according to the American Automobiles Association. 
Soaring gas prices can be attributed to factors like oil production cuts orchestrated by OPEC and Russia, Venezuela reducing output, and the United State's decision to leave the Iran nuclear deal.

All that may seem pretty far removed for vacationers that are hoping to kick off the unofficial start of summer relaxing at the beach. But if that beach is in California, chances are the most expensive pump prices in the country are nearby. 
The West Coast typically has the most expensive gas. Geography, high demand and clean air regulations contribute to the price per gallon. Folks in some areas, such as San Francisco, are seeing prices near $4 per gallon.

Prices at the pump haven't been this high for Memorial Day weekend since 2014, when crude was sitting in triple-digit territory.

To read more, go here.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Gallup Flea Market

Above, vendors selling tamales on the left and baseball caps and blankets on the right. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Thanks to the Gallup Adventure Guide I got the other day from the Red Rock Park office, I found out about the Gallup Flea Market.

Today, I went to the flea market and, upon arrival, I found a lot of parked cars and a lot of people there.

Above, a vendor selling clothing on the right. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

After parking, I went into the flea market and wandered around. It has everything one can imagine, but with a lot of food vendors and lots of Indian goods such as blankets, jewelry and pottery. It even has pony rides for kids.

Above, the pony rides. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

I came upon one food vendor who was selling tamales. I made a mental note to myself to come back and buy a dozen. I am glad I did as the tamales were excellent.

No doubt I will probably be back.

Yosemite During Memorial Day Weekend: Are You Crazy?

Above, Yosemite's Bridal Veil Fall. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

People are crazy if they are planning a trek to Yosemite National Park during Memorial Day weekend, at least that's according to an article by the Mercury News.

They have an article on do's and don'ts if you head there this weekend.

It begins with:
Yes, Yosemite’s gorgeous this – and virtually any other – time of the year. 
But you’ve got to be a glutton for punishment if you intend to head up there this Memorial Day weekend, one of the busiest times to take in this spectacular national treasure. If you insist on going, and if you’ve already booked a place to stay in the valley, then godspeed!

If you’re heading up and you DON’T have lodging, may that same god have mercy on your soul.

To see more, go here

Accommodation Options Near Mount Fuji

Above, a shinkansen view of Mount Fuji. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Mount Fuji was the "location" used in a number of kaiju movies over the years. They include King Kong vs. Godzilla, Destroy All Monsters and Gamera, The Guardian of the Universe. It is also a popular destination for visitors and there are several kinds of accommodations available for a stay near Japan's iconic peak.

Tokyo Cheapo has an article on what's available.

They begin with:
Whether you’re climbing it or just admiring the iconic mountain from a distance, Fuji-san is well worth a trip from Tokyo. If you want to stay nearby, we have more than a few suggestions for accommodation near Mount Fuji. 
Unsurprisingly, your options for accommodation near Mount Fuji include plenty of hotels, hostels and traditional Japanese ryokans (inns) to bed down in for the night, with a few even perched on its slopes. Whether you’re looking to view the mountain and then explore Kawaguchiko, or just stare lovingly at the peak from an onsen (hot spring), you’re sure to find something that suits your budget. Combine this with excellent transport options from Tokyo and our hiking guide with all you need to know, and you’re set to go!

To read more, go here

Friday, May 25, 2018

Back At The Rodeo

Above, a barrel racing contestant. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

This afternoon, I headed back to the rodeo at Red Rock Park to watch the high school contestants for the state finals.

The events were the same as the junior high school's of this morning. I decided that I would just watch the barrel racing. Plus, it was over 80°.

I got there early enough to get something to eat. I had some excellent chicken quesadillas and a tall cup of lemonade.

Here's some more photos:

Crater Lake North Entrance Now Open

Above, Wizard Island last summer. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The road at Crater Lake National Park that I mainly used last summer is now open for travelers.

According to the Herald and News:
CRATER LAKE NATIONAL PARK — The North Entrance Road and West Rim Drive in Crater Lake National Park will open for travel Friday afternoon, May 25 – just in time for the holiday weekend. 
Superintendent Craig Ackerman announced that visitors will now be able to drive to and from the park via this popular route and access spectacular views of the lake from West Rim Drive. This is a very early opening for Crater Lake’s North Entrance. Warm temperatures and a low snow pack have resulted in a greatly accelerated spring opening this year, the news release said. 
The park anticipates high visitation for the holiday weekend. Visitors should expect long lines and delays at park entrance stations and other locations, including Rim Village. If possible, consider arriving before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m. to avoid major congestion.

To read more, go here

Getting Started On The Painting

While on my way to Red Rock Park to see some of the high school age contestants' routines at the state finals rodeo, Asya sent some photos of the layout for the landscape painting for my critique and/or approval.

The layout (or composition) was done in pencil:

If interested in graphics or fine arts commissions, go here.

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