"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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Friday, April 20, 2018

Condé Nast: How To Celebrate National Park Week

Above, the Colorado River flows through the Grand Canyon. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Tomorrow kicks off National Park Week, which includes free admission to the national parks Saturday, April 21.

Condé Nast has posted some recommendations and top picks of ten national parks.

They begin with:
This Saturday, April 21 officially kicks off National Park Week, and the National Park Service is celebrating with free admission to all its serviced sites and parks—even the 118 that normally charge entrance fees. Now’s the time to take that long-awaited trip to the Grand Canyon, or check climbing Yosemite’s El Capitan off your #travelgoals wishlist. After all, Earth Day is also this weekend, so get in the spirit and get outside. If you need inspiration, we’ve rounded up a list of 10 parks you should visit while the fees are waived—our editors’ favorite picks, recommendations from a national parks travel specialist, and some off-the-beaten path destinations you might not expect. So, what are you waiting for?

To read more, go here. 

Spring Snow

Just when you thought that the weather would steadily change with warmer days and nights, Mother Nature decides to pull a fast one.

Snow and snow showers were forecast for this evening. Sure enough, it started in.

It got pretty heavy, but due to the 40 degree temperatures, it didn't stick too long. But it lasted long enough for me to take a couple of photos.

I went out to turn on the heaters in the motorhome so that the piping wouldn't freeze tonight and took the photo of the deck while outside.

Above, the snow already melted on the ground, but there was some left on the deck. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, the deck as the snow was falling. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Old ECV Shenanigans

Above, an anvil being sent airborne during a clamp-out in
1988. The practice has been banned. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Today, I scanned a few pictures from past Clamper activities from 1988.

Here's couple more:

Above, Platrix Chapter No. 2 in the 1988 Pasadena Doo Dah Parade. Glenn Thornhill and I are at right.

Above, yours truly, Glenn Thornhill and Steve Born at Tapo Canyon in 1988.

The Super-Volcano Below Yellowstone

Above, a volcano-fueled hot spring. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

As scientists learn more about the super-volcano that lies below Yellowstone National Park, what could happen makes them worried.

The Mercury News reported:
Yellowstone National Park sits squarely over a giant, active volcano. This requires attention. 
Yellowstone has been a national park since 1872, but it was only in the 1960s that scientists realized the scale of the volcano – it’s 44 miles across – and not until the 1980s did they grasp that this thing is fully alive and still threatens to erupt catastrophically. Yellowstone is capable of eruptions thousands of times more violent than the Mount St. Helens eruption of 1980. The northern Rockies would be buried in multiple feet of ash. Ash would rain on almost everyone in the United States. It’d be a bad day. Thus geologists are eager to understand what, exactly, is happening below all those volcano-fueled hot springs and geysers.
Maybe people should see Yellowstone National Park now, while there is still a Yellowstone.

To read more, go here

English-Speaking Guides At Imperial Palace Coming In May

Above, the Imperial Palace "Double Bridge". Photo by Armand Vaquer.

For those who wish to take a guided tour of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, English-speaking tour guides will be available beginning in May.

Jiji Press reported:
Tokyo, April 19 (Jiji Press)--English-speaking guides will be available for visitors to the Imperial Palace in Tokyo from the beginning of May, in response to a surge in the number of foreign tourists, the Imperial Household Agency said Thursday. 
 A walking tour of the palace is usually offered twice a day from Tuesday to Saturday.

To read more, go here.

Arlen Shumer Salute To Superman Artist Curt Swan

Above, a Curt Swan/George Klein Superman (no. 174) cover from the 1960s.

As this week is being called "Superman Week" in commemoration of the 80th anniversary of Superman, Arlen Schumer has an article at 13th Dimension.com saluting the definitive Superman artist, Curt Swan.

The article begins with:
To the Baby Boom Generation that grew up on his work, Curt Swan (1920-1996) was, is, and forever will be the definitive Superman artist. 
Over the course of his almost-four decade run on the character (1948-1986), Swan depicted many of the landmark events that became touchstones in the lives of the Superman family. His versions of familiar aspects of the character’s iconography, from the scenes of a doomed Krypton to sights of Superman soaring above the Metropolis skyline, became the new icons against which all succeeding Superman artists are judged. 
As the Superman character evolved from the Golden Age to the Silver Age, “Mort Weisinger (Superman editor 1945-70) felt we should get a little more humanistic qualities into him,” Swan recalled in a 1974 Cartoonist Profile interview. “We wanted people to relate to him better, make him a little more believable.” 
That believeability came across in Swan’s characters’ faces — young or old, male or female, hero or villain, monster or alien — which he endowed with a spectrum of human emotions, from agony to anger, mournful to mirthful, that remains one of the hallmarks of his realistic style.

To read the full article, go here

Democrats Sue Russia, Wikileaks and Trump Campaign

The Looney Left Report

Well, the Democrat Party is suing the Trump campaign, Wikileaks and the Russian Federation for "conspiring to disrupt" the 2016 campaign.

According to CNBC:
The Democratic Party on Friday sued President Donald Trump's presidential campaign, the Russian government and the Wikileaks group, claiming a broad illegal conspiracy to help Trump win the 2016 election. 
The multi-million-dollar lawsuit filed in Manhattan federal court says that "In the Trump campaign, Russia found a willing and active partner in this effort" to mount "a brazen attack on American Democracy," which included Russian infiltration of the Democratic Party computer network. 
The Trump campaign, according to the lawsuit, "gleefully welcomed Russia's help." 
The suit says that "preexisting relationships with Russia and Russian oligarchs" with Trump and Trump associates "provided fertile ground for [the] Russia-Trump conspiracy." 
The common purpose of the scheme, according to the Democratic National Committee, was to "bolster Trump and denigrate the Democratic Party nominee," Hillary Clinton, while boosting the candidacy of Trump, "whose policies would benefit the Kremlin."

This is all an exercise in stupidity. If anyone has more of a cause of action it would be the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee for the phony dossier and other Democrat collusions and dirty tricks.

I envision that the GOP side will counter-sue. The Democrats are opening a big can of worms!

To read more, go here

Landscape Painting Plans

Above, the three peaks I have in mind for a painting. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

While getting things more situated with the unpacked stuff, it occurred to me that a space in the living room cries out for a large landscape painting.

What I have in mind is a sunset painting of the three main peaks (one is called "Midget Mesa", another is "Mesa Butte" and the third has no name that I know of) across the valley.

Zooming from left to right:

Above, Midget Butte. The community of Iyanbito is below it.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, a little further right. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, Mesa Butte. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, a little further right from Mesa Butte. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, the unnamed peak. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

I am checking with Asya (who is now in St. Petersburg, Russia) on her availability and landscape painting skills. She is interested. The photos that accompany this blog post were shot this morning and sent to Asya.

She can work from photographs (she did my portrait from photographs she shot), but it would be preferable if she painted here. The problem with that, at present, is that the consulate in St. Petersburg had been shut down by Vladimir Putin's govenment, so it may be difficult for her to get a visa (unless she goes to Moscow).

We'll see.

What's Next? "Miller High Life Yosemite National Park"?

Above, the Ahwahnee Hotel, now called the Majestic Yosemite Hotel due to the lawsuit. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The legal fight over trademarks of features at Yosemite National Park between the federal government and the former concessionaire of Yosemite, Delaware North, drags on. It may be years before a resolution is reached.

Delaware North wants over $50 million and the government wants to settle at around $4 million. There's a "slight" gulf here.

If you are not familiar with the fight, City Watch has posted an article that should bring you up to speed.

(Did you know that there are plans to rename the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum with "United Airlines" attached to it? Nothing is sacred these days.)

A snippet from the City Watch article:
Delaware North claims it owns the intellectual property rights to those names because they bought them from the YPCC when the deal was made back in the 1990s. There is a lawsuit over Delaware North's claims, which may eventually resolve the argument. But in the meanwhile, park visitors are getting a crash course in what it's like to be caught between warring giants.


The Park Service and the new concessionaire, instead of forking over a twentieth part of a billion dollars for the names, did something different. They decided to plaster up some replacement names and then carry on business as usual. Here is a glossary, giving the old name on the left and the new name on the right:  
Wawona = Big Trees Lodge  
Ahwahnee Hotel = Majestic Yosemite Hotel  
Yosemite Lodge = Yosemite Valley Lodge  
Curry Village = Half Dome Village  
Yes, I know that this is ridiculous. The original names are remembered by people who learned them as school children and are now of retirement age. They are remembered by visitors from all around the world.  
This fight makes our country look stupid. 

To read more, go here

Thursday, April 19, 2018

"Elvis Presley: The Searcher" Deluxe Edition

The deluxe edition of the original soundtrack of Elvis Presley: The Searcher has arrived in today's mail.

Besides what's on the label, the set also includes a 39-page booklet.

Below, is a listing of the music selections:

Foreign Visitors To Japan Nears 30 Million In Fiscal Year 2017

Above, Tokyo's Kappabashi "Kitchen Town". Photo by Armand Vaquer.

There's the calendar year and then there's the fiscal year. Japan is nearing 30 million foreign visitors during both.

Japan Today reported:
TOKYO - The estimated number of foreign visitors to Japan in the fiscal year through March 2018 rose 19.9 percent from a year before to 29.77 million amid an increase in low-cost carrier flights connecting Japan to South Korea and other countries, government data shows. 
The figure for the calendar year through December 2018 is highly likely to top 30 million as the number of monthly visitors has continued to outpace that of the previous year, according to the Japan Tourism Agency. 
The government is targeting 40 million foreign visitors by 2020, when Japan hosts the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

To read the full article, go here

Free Admission To National Parks This Saturday

Above, the Grand Canyon. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Want to visit a national park and save some money?

Well, this Saturday, you can!

Travel + Leisure reported:
National parks that typically charge entrance fees will be offering free admission this weekend to mark the start of National Park Week. 
On Saturday, April 21, visitors will be able to visit popular parks like Grand Canyon , Joshua Tree, Yosemite, and Death Valley free of charge. Depending on the park, visitors can save up to $30.

To read more, go here

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Increase In Drone Use Seen At Crater Lake National Park

Above, Crater Lake during the summer of 2017. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Want to risk a maximum $5,000 fine and six months in jail? Then use a drone at Crater Lake National Park.

Drone usage is illegal in all national parks, but there's been an increase in drone use at Crater Lake.

KATU reported:
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The use of drones is outlawed at national parks.

But the falling price and improving technology of what are officially known as unmanned aircraft have led to increase in the number buzzing over Oregon's only national park — Crater Lake.

Park superintendent Craig Ackerman tells the Statesman Journal they've become a problem, with drones buzzing over boat tours and creating other negative impacts.

The bottom line is: DON'T DO IT!

To read more, go here

Tokyo Money-Saving Tips

Above, Wako department store in Ginza. Hotel rates are
 cheaper during the winter months. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

If you're planning to visit Tokyo in the not-too-distant future, you may want to read six tips The Straits Times has posted.

They start with:
TOKYO (NYTimes) - Tokyo isn't typically a destination for budget travelers, according to Jonathan Alder, a travel agent and Tokyo expert. 
"Hotels, dining out and transportation are all quite expensive in the city, but you don't need to have deep pockets to have an upscale trip," he said. 
Following are some tips to enjoy a luxury Tokyo getaway for less.

To see what the tips are, go here.

Stroll Down Memory Lane

This morning, I was scanning some old photos for yucks on Facebook, so I thought I would share them here as well.

Above, yours truly and Glenn Thornhill at the plaque dedication of Hart mining town in the Mojave Desert
 with the Billy Holcomb Chapter, ECV in October 1984. This was one of the first clamp-outs we attended.

Above, Robert McArthur, Glenn Thornhill and Arleigh Kerr at Kerr's wedding, February 1985. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, the Purple Gang of the California Republic at Arleigh Kerr's wedding, February 1985.

Narita Airport Launches Tourism Information Website In English

Above, Narita Airport's Terminal One arrival lobby. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

If one is planning to arrive in Japan at Narita International Airport, there's a new website in English that will be a great help in making the visit easier and more enjoyable.

According to a press release from Passenger Terminal Today:
Narita International Airport has launched an English language website to cater for the ever-increasing influx of overseas travelers visiting Japan every year. 
The aim of the new platform, en.tokyonarita.jp, is to help English speakers plan and familiarize themselves with the country prior to their arrival.

The website features information on tourist destinations around the country, and how they can be accessed directly from the airport, either via another short-haul flight or on high-speed public transport. The site contains links to websites where users can make further travel arrangements, activity bookings and accommodation reservations.

To read more, go here

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

No Trespassing

Some "No Trespassing" signs I am considering:

Albuquerque Taking Steps To Become "Sanctuary City"

The Looney Left Report

It looks like the lunatics of the city council of Albuquerque are following in the footsteps of the loons running the city of Los Angeles and the state of California.

The Hill reported:
New measures passed this week in Albuquerque, N.M., will make it more difficult for illegal immigrants to be deported. 
The city's council passed a measure by a 6-3 vote that bars federal immigration officials who do not have a warrant from going into city-operated areas, Reuters reported. 
Measures passed by the majority-Democratic council also make it so city workers are prohibited from taking information on people's immigration status.
The country has gone insane. The citizens of foreign nations are more important than American citizens

To read more, go here.

The Bunnies Discovered The Food

For the first time since I've put food dishes out for the cottontail rabbits who inhabit my yard, I've finally seen that they are partaking. These photos were taken minutes ago.

One was munching away at a food dish with one nearby watching near the east fence.

Yoshinoya Enters India Market

Above, a Yoshinoya restaurant in Chiba Prefecture. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

This following story caught my eye. 

Kyodo News reported:
NEW DELHI - Yoshinoya Holdings Co., Japan's major fast-food restaurant operator popularly known for its beef bowls, is advancing into the Indian market by establishing a wholly-owned subsidiary. 
Yoshinoya recently set up Yoshinoya India Pvt. Ltd. in Gurugram in the northern state of Haryana, documents filed with India's Ministry of Corporate Affairs show. 
"It is difficult to explore store opening without setting up an entity," a Yoshinoya spokeswoman told NNA.

The story caught my eye for a couple of reasons. I was wondering if there are any Yoshinoya restaurants in New Mexico. I did some checking and there are some in Albuquerque. Since I will be in Albuquerque next month, I will make it a point to stop in. I love their beef bowls.

The other, and main, reason is (from PBS.org):
Cows are considered sacred by Hindus in India. They were the favorite animal of Lord Krishna, and they serve as a symbol of wealth, strength, and abundance. 
Since India is predominately a Hindu nation, how well would Yoshinoya (with their beef bowls) do in that country since cows are considered sacred (thus the term "sacred cow")? I wonder, how serving beef in India will go over with the people? It will be interesting to see.

To read more, go here.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Man of Steel Turns 80

Above, a photograph of George Reeves as Superman
  from Reeves's estate. Armand Vaquer collection.

It was 80 years ago this month the Superman character debuted with Action Comics #1 back on April 18, 1938.

Creators Jerome Siegel and Joseph Shuster tried to get the character published for several years before National Comics (now DC Comics) decided to take a chance and featured Superman in a new anthology comic book, Action Comics. The comic and Superman became an immediate hit.

NBC News ran a story last Saturday on the anniversary. To view it, go here.

The top photo of George Reeves as Superman came from Reeves's estate. It was distributed during his personal appearances.

Dark Sky Parks

Above, one of the places recommended is Desert View at the Grand Canyon. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Today's night skies are getting harder and harder to enjoy unless one goes out to a remote area somewhere with their telescope or binoculars.

However, there are still places to go to and Sky & Telescope has a list of ten of them.

They begin with:
There’s a simple rule for anyone searching for a dark sky; go somewhere others are not. The spread of LED lighting in North America over the past decade or so has worsened light pollution and skyglow in many previously dark locations. However, the vastness of the U.S. means there are still plenty of empty spaces where deep-sky objects and the Milky Way can still be seen easily with the naked eye. In celebration of International Dark Sky Week (April 15-21, 2018), let's look at a few of them. 
A good place to start is the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), which certifies mainly national parks, state parks, and national monuments as having night sky-friendly lighting. The IDA differentiates between Dark Sky Reserves and Dark Sky Parks: Dark Sky Reserves are areas where light pollution is being actively curtailed despite the presence of towns and settlements. All very important, but for the finest astronomical experiences, it's Dark Sky Parks you should head to — only in these mostly remote places will you find nighttime conditions prevalent before the introduction of electric lighting in the late 19th century.

When I bought my house in New Mexico, I was told by the realtor that the area I will be living in has great nighttime views. Up until recently, it has been too cold to go outside to enjoy the night sky. But yesterday morning, I left Gallup for home at 5:00 and even before I arrived home, the number of stars (and planets) I was able to see through my windshield were amazing.

One of the places recommended by Sky & Telescope is Desert View at Grand Canyon National Park. The Watchtower is located at Desert View.

To read more, go here

Crater Lake National Park Fees Going Up and Up

Above, a view of Crater Lake's Wizard Island. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

As with other national parks, entrance fees at Crater Lake National Park will be going up to deal with the backlog of maintenance and improvements that have climbed to $11 billion over the years.

According to KQEN:
Crater Lake National Park will modify its entrance fee in less than a month.
Marsha McCabe from the National Parks Service says the changes will provide additional funding for infrastructure and maintenance needs to enhance the experience of visitors coming to the park. McCabe says the park fees will be increased incrementally. 
Starting May 13th the entrance fee to the park will be $25 per vehicle and $20 per motorcycle. An annual park pass will cost $50. 
In January of next year, the fees will go up again. Then they will be $30 for vehicles, $25 for motorcycles, with an annual pass going to $55. McCabe says all of the money received remains with the National Park Service.

To read more, go here

WPA-Style National Park Posters

Photographer and graphic artist Rob Decker has created WPA-style posters of all 60 national parks. And, they're for sale at $35.00 each.

Here's an example:

Decker donates 10% of annual profits to organizations who support the national parks.

To see all of Decker's posters and to order, go here.

Strong Winds Monday, Tuesday

It looks like we're in for it!

Those of you who drive high-profile vehicles (tractor-trailers and recreational vehicles), take note and drive carefully! Pass the word!

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