Category Archives: Travel

Comments and observations on the traveling life.

Rule Five Schadenfreudalicious Friday

It was with some slight regret that Mrs. Animal and I have returned from Japan, especially since we return not to our own increasingly-loony but still beloved Colorado but instead to my temporary work site of (ugh) New Jersey.

That slight sadness is, of course, attenuated by last week’s long-awaited release of the Mueller report and the accompanying meltdown by the political Left and their accomplices in the legacy media.  Some samples follow:

No collusion; no surprise.

Flashback:  Media predicts indictments, prison times, treason charges, RHEEEEEE!

Apologies to President Trump? From The Hill?  This one deserves an excerpt:

We in the media allowed unproven charges and false accusations to dominate the news landscape for more than two years, in a way that was wildly unbalanced and disproportionate to the evidence.

We did a poor job of tracking down leaks of false information. We failed to reasonably weigh the motives of anonymous sources and those claiming to have secret, special evidence of Trump’s “treason.”

As such, we reported a tremendous amount of false information, always to Trump’s detriment.

And when we corrected our mistakes, we often doubled down more than we apologized. We may have been technically wrong on that tiny point, we would acknowledge. But, in the same breath, we would insist that Trump was so obviously guilty of being Russian President Vladimir Putin’s puppet that the technical details hardly mattered.

So, a round of apologies seem in order.

Wow.  A moment of clarity.  Didn’t see that coming.

The collapse of Hillary’s Big Lie.  Well, one of them, anyway.

Trump:  Told you so.

Now, there’s going to be a lot of backbiting, and a lot of whining, and a lot of RRHEEEEE about further investigations which will almost certainly also come to naught.  Someone might advise the Democrats “do you want more Trump?  Because this is how you get more Trump.”  You’d think they would learn from the Bill Clinton impeachment episode in the 1990s, when what was widely viewed as an unfair persecution of a sitting President actually helped him win re-election (aided, of course, by the GOP’s unerring selection of the worst candidate in the 1996 field.)

And, of course, Lindsey Graham 2.0, who I have to admit I really like, is calling for the shoe to be placed on the other foot.  Excerpt:

Now that Robert Mueller’s investigation is over, Graham said he plans to “get answers” about how the Russia probe was started and whether it was used as an excuse to spy on Trump’s presidential campaign. He urged Attorney General William Barr to appoint a new special counsel to examine the issue.

“Was it a ruse to get into the Trump campaign?” Graham, a Trump ally, said at a news conference Monday morning. “I don’t know but I’m going to try to find out.”

Good luck to him.  One thing, at least; the ultimate target (let’s say it softly) of this probe, Her Imperial Majesty Hillary I, Dowager Empress of Chappaqua, is no longer the primary leader and rallying point of the Democratic Party.  That role seems to have been taken by the young nutbar Left like Alexandria Occasional Cortex, and while they are succeeding in dragging the Overton Window a little to the left, they aren’t going to win national elections with a platform that includes universal income for people unwilling to work, abolishing air travel, and doing away with cattle.  Hillary in the crosshairs wouldn’t bother them much; most of them are already wishing that Her Imperial Majesty would shut up and go away.

It’s still a long time until November 2020.  But things sure look like they’re breaking Trump’s way right now.

Animal’s Daily Tales of Two Cities News

There’s a lot to like about Japan.

Be sure to check out the latest in my History of Lever Guns series over at Glibertarians!

Unless you just haven’t been paying attention recently, you’ll know that Mrs. Animal and yr. obdt. have been enjoying a semi-working vacation in Tokyo these last few days.

If you’ve been reading these virtual pages for a while, you’ll also know that we spent 2017 in the ever-more-loony San Francisco Bay area.

So, with that being the case, I can’t help but to draw some comparisons between the two cities.

I’m generally not a fan of big cities.  I grew up in rural and small town environments, and the hustle and bustle of big metropolitan areas has never appealed to me.  But even so, I love Japan, and I love Tokyo.  I like being out in the countryside and in the small towns in Japan more than being in Tokyo, of course, but on this particular trip we stayed in the Tokyo metro area the entire time, and had a ball.  But I can’t abide most major American cities (although I’m rather fond of Boston), I really can’t abide the nutbar Bay Area, and in that year in the area I came to downright loathe San Francisco.

So what’s the difference in these two cities?  Why is San Francisco now a literal shithole, littered with human feces, used needles, and derelicts sleeping in doorways?  Why is Tokyo a clean, prosperous city that young people from all over Japan want to come live and work in?

An apartment high-rise in Kinshicho.

A big part of it is housing.  The suburb we are staying in, Kinshicho, like many of Tokyo’s neighborhoods has a pretty fair number of high-rise apartment buildings.  In our travels around Tokyo and indeed other places in Japan, we’ve seen a lot of these and more going up.  In other words, Japan deals with a population density and housing cost issue that America cities can’t imagine by vertical filing.

Why can’t American cities do this?  Why can’t the Bay Area, a place notorious for horrifying housing prices, build some similar high-rise developments to provide affordable housing?  “Affordable Housing” is a shibboleth of the political Left, which has a hammerlock on this city; why then do they insist on restrictive land-use and building codes that make this almost impossible?

“But Animal,” some of these same left-leaning folks might say, “we shouldn’t force people to live in massive high-rises!”  Well, sure, I quite agree.  But why not open up the possibilities for developers to build some of these efficient, small-apartment high-rises and see if people might choose to live in them?

You know – like a free country might?

Tokyo isn’t a perfect place.  The cost of housing is still high; you’re starting to see little acts of hooliganism like graffiti, which you never saw a few years ago.  But Tokyo also houses several orders of magnitude more human beings than live in the Bay Area, and manages to find ways that young folks starting out can afford to live.  And Tokyo is a clean city.  You rarely see discarded trash in the streets, much less spent needles and human shit.

We could learn a thing or two from Japan.

Goodbye Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to The Other McCain and Pirate’s Cove for the Rule Five links!

Mrs. Animal and myself have been roundly enjoying our brief trip to Japan.  I’ve done a fair amount of business here, but this is the first time we’ve come over just for fun (amending that; it’s the first time I’ve come over just for fun, Mrs. Animal is hoping to transact some business in Jimbocho, Tokyo’s publishing district.)  There’s just something we love about this place.

Sunday we visited the Imperial gardens.  It’s a bit early in the year to catch them at their best, but we did see some early sakura blooming and some other great scenery.  Photos follow. Continue reading Goodbye Blue Monday

Animal’s Daily Air Travel News

Friendly Skies.

According to the Wall Street Journal, frequent fliers (like yr. obdt.) are finding an old friend on some recent flights:  Empty seats.  Excerpt:

U.S. airlines are adding larger jets to their fleets and more rows to existing aircraft. The result is more open seats on many flights even as demand for air travel grows.

That is good news for fliers who have grown accustomed to vying for desirable seats and bag space. It’s also a concern for airline investors who believe the industry might not trim capacity enough to protect a record run of profitability.

Shares in the sector have fallen over the past year while traffic has boomed. Delta Air Lines Inc. earlier this month reported tempered revenue expectations for the first quarter in part because of the partial government shutdown. American Airlines Group Inc. also this month cut its earnings expectations for 2018. United Continental Holdings Group Inc., which recently passed Delta as the No. 2 U.S. carrier by traffic behind American, said recently that it plans to expand capacity by up to 6% this year.

“Right now there’s a lot of capacity out there, and I think they’re kind of struggling to fill it,” Bill S. Swelbar, at consulting firm Delta Airport Partners Inc., said of carriers.

Last December, on an evening flight from Newark to San Diego, Mrs. A and I took the aisle and middle seats in our row and were fortunate enough to find the window seat unoccupied, allowing us a comfortable flight.  Better still, I once took the 13-hour Osaka-San Francisco flight on the aisle seat of the five-seat middle row, and was the only person in the row; I actually stretched out and slept most of the flight.

But that’s the exception to the rule, and one that brings up another question:  Why should it be such a relief to find an empty seat next to yours?  The answer is simple:  Because normal Economy seats are so cramped as to make flying, especially for those over 5’6″ or so, miserable.

Granted I’m 6’1″, with the normal girth of a late-middle-aged guy.  I can nevertheless fit within the confines of my own airline seat – barely.  But I was once seated next to a 400+ pound behemoth who spilled into my seat by a considerable margin, and had to demand reseating; to my fortune I was moved into a bulkhead row, into one of the aforementioned empty seats that, to my good fortune, was available on that flight.

The airlines could do a lot to make the desirability of empty seats unnecessary.  Two things come immediately to mind:  First, increase the pitch between seats back to pre-2000 levels.  Second, demand passengers of extraordinary girth pay for two seats.

I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to The Other McCain and Pirate’s Cove for the Rule Five links!  Also, be sure to check out my latest article over at Glibertarians, this one the first part of a multi-part series on the history of the sixgun.  I think you’ll enjoy it.

Mrs. A and I spent Friday and Saturday last week in San Diego, which was… interesting.  It’s a pretty place though, and the harbor tour was fun; some photos follow.  Enjoy!

Continue reading Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove For the Rule Five links!

Our deer hunt in the Bosque del Oso State Wildlife Area was a success from the meat standpoint, as two fat bucks were taken, but neither of them were quite trophies – but then, antlers aren’t so good to eat no matter how long you stew them, so there’s that.  I have promised the full hunt report to my friends at Glibertarians, so I’ll post a link to that when it is published.  In the meantime, yesterday saw Mrs. Animal and yr. obdt. on a flight back to our temporary New Jersey (ugh) digs, so, I suppose, we’ll make the best of it.  The best of it may include a couple of trips up into Pennsylvania looking for ruffed grouse, so stay tuned for news of that.

The Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus) makes for quite a challenging hunt.  While Colorado lacks them, having only the dusky mountain grouse that we regularly shoot from trees with .22 pistols, the woods around my childhood home in Allamakee County, Iowa had good populations of these fast-flying forest birds.  They are evasive flyers and make for some of the most challenging wing-shooting I’ve ever experienced.  In his day the Old Man was something of an expert at making a shot charge arrive at the exact location of a fleeing grouse, but I’m not the shotgunner he was, sadly.  Still, I’ve managed to bring a few of these birds to bag in my time, and hopefully will be able to do the same again.

When I was a kid, the sounds of grouse drumming was one of the sure-fire signs of spring.

They’re great eating, too.

As Colorado turns increasingly blue, Mrs. Animal are moving ahead with our plans to move up to the Great Land.   That state has plenty of grouse, not only ruffies but sharp-tailed, duskies and spruce grouse, along with three kinds of ptarmigan.   The bird hunting is great in that northern state; that’s something to look forward to.  But in the meantime, I’ll settle for some Pennsylvania ruffies.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove for the Rule Five links!

Regular readers of these virtual pages will recall that yr. obdt. landed another gig, this one in New Jersey; a couple weeks back you’ll recall the week of travel totty pics put up whilst Mrs. Animal and myself were crossing most of a continent to our temporary lodgings.

Well, today sees us headed halfway back, as we discovered the client company could not complete my IT stuff (laptop) and training at the Joisey site, so we have to go to a place up north of the Chicago metro area to get that done.  That will take 2-3 weeks, then it’s off back to Joisey.

Good news:  In the time we’ve already been in Raritan, NJ, where our temporary digs are located, we’ve found it to be a pleasant little town.  The folks are friendly, there is some great Italian food to be had, and the countryside isn’t bad at all – big trees, a nice river through the town.   It’s acceptable.  In fact, if it weren’t for the state’s bat-guano crazy government, it would be a pretty nice place.

So, this morning it’s back in our little travel car/truck/SUV/something (is the Ford Edge a car or a truck?  An SUV?  What the hell do you call it?) and off to Illinois.  Bright side:  We’ll take a weekend in there and go see our oldest kid and my Mom in Iowa, a 4-hour or so drive from the training site.

Self-employment is not an easy life.  But all in all, in the fifteen years I’ve been doing this, I’ve had a pretty good time.  Complications come with the business and you have to learn to roll with them.

Roll we are.  Tomorrow you’ll be stuck with one more travel totty post, then we’ll check in with you all from Illinois.  Fortunately we’ll be well away from the free-fire zone that is Chicago.

Animal’s Daily Sendai News

As mentioned yesterday, we spent last weekend in the northern city of Sendai.  And, as it happens, there is a lot more noteworthy in that city than just the opportunity to partake of whale sushi.

Sendai is also home to the remains of a historic castle and the largest statue of the Shinto goddess Nyoirin Kannon in Japan.  It’s home to one of the biggest traditional shopping arcades I’ve ever seen – and to lots of great restaurants serving a variety of fare, in the case that whale isn’t your thing.

If you’re ever in Japan, I recommend a visit to Sendai if you can make it happen.  Mrs. Animal and I hope to come back some time when we have more than a weekend to spend.  Photos follow – enjoy!

Continue reading Animal’s Daily Sendai News

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Our usual thanks go out to Pirate’s Cove and The Other McCain for the Rule Five links!

This Monday finds us way up north in Miyagi Prefecture, having spent the weekend in Sendai.  Sendai is an interesting town, known for (among other things) it’s fine dining, which includes whale.

Yes, whale.  And yes, I partook.  This first taste was in a sushi joint in Sendai just a few blocks from the shinkansen station.  Whale was surprisingly tasty, although it was lightly cooked in the Japanese style and therefore undercooked by American standards.

Whale sushi. Delicious, delicious whale sushi.

These are little strips of whale meat, lightly braised and served on little beds of rice.  I don’t know what kind of whale it is but I suspect it would be minke whale, since that makes up most of the Japanese harvest.

Note that the minke whale is listed as an animal of “Least Concern” by the IUCN, which should (but probably won’t) fend off most of the squealing by the “save the whales” crowd.  And I confess, pissing off that subset of greenie nutbars is one of the reasons this has long been on my Japan bucket list – precisely so that when I run across one of the “save the whales” crowd, I can agree enthusiastically, adding, “yes, by all means – they’re delicious!”

Yr. Obdt. enjoying whale and Japanese beer.

So, True Believers, if you’re ever in the Sendai area up here in Miyagi Prefecture, the city is known for its whale sushi and various other whale dishes.  It’s also known for beef tongue dishes, but only the real nutbars object to beef.  In either case – try some!  If you piss off only one radical Sea Shepherd type, wouldn’t it be worth it?

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove for the Rule Five links!

On this Saturday just past, my own dear Mrs. Animal and I moved from our temporary lodgings in Kinshicho over to the western Tokyo suburb of Akishima, where this job of work begins.  Yesterday we traveled to the mountain town of Takao, named for the mountain at the foot of which it resides.  It’s a beautiful area, and a great place to spend a beautiful Sunday.  Photography follows.  Enjoy!

Click for photos!