Monday, July 30, 2007

Harris Ranch

This posting is not recommended for vegans. On our drive back from San Diego yesterday, we decided to stop off at the famous Harris Ranch Restaurant & Inn for lunch. We visited its quaint Country Store where they sell scrumptious desserts and their signature beef at the meat counter.

Where do their meat come from? Well a few miles up the road from the restaurant are thousands upon thousands of Harris Ranch cows you can see right off the freeway. Before you reach this area, you're always tipped off by the foul stench in the air. Although there are some shade, it doesn't seem humane to leave these poor animals out in the elements.

- AV

(Note: Cow photo borrowed from

Saturday, July 28, 2007


Has anyone seen the movie "Grindhouse" released a few months ago? I haven't, so I don't know if the movie was any good. If the title doesn't sound familiar, it was with a gal whose leg was missing and replaced with a machine gun. Now does it sound familiar?

In any case, I'm at Comic-Con this weekend and saw this model posing as the character in "Grindhouse". However, in the movie, the missing leg was faked through Hollywood magic, but this real-life model really was missing a leg.

In your opinion, do you think she was being exploited or it was great that she was offered a job as a model?

- AV

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Hotel Woes

We're out of town again in San Diego to attend the world's largest comic book convention and they're expecting over 100,000 attendees this year. Anyways, we decided to drive down a day early and take our chances with one-night's hotel. We arrived in the area close to midnight and spent an hour looking for a room and discovered a majority of the hotels were sold out, but we eventually lucked out on one. By this time, it was close to 1:30AM in the morning. The late night attendent gave us directions to our room, but sent us to the wrong building and we kept walking in circles. Our humor was low at that time of the night especially after a 7 hour drive.

Eventually, we went back down to the front desk and asked for an explanation. The attendent said he forgot where the room was. Can you believe that? But, I think he sent us on the wild goose chase on purpose.

In any case, the photo above is of the room's computer flat panel display/tv. I think this is the first flat panel tv I've seen in a hotel room.

- AV

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Wednesday Hero

This Weeks Solider Was Suggested By Robert

Lt. General Lewis B.
Lt. General Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller
June 26, 1898 - October 11, 1971

Lieutenant General Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller was a colorful veteran of the Korean War, four World War II campaigns, and expeditionary service in China, Nicaragua, and Haiti. He is the only Marine to win the Navy Cross five times for heroism and gallantry in combat earing him the distinction of being the most decorated Marine in the history of the USMC.

A Marine officer and enlisted man for 37 years, General Puller served at sea or overseas for all but ten of those years, including a hitch as commander of the "Horse Marines" in China. Excluding medals from foreign governments, he won a total of 14 personal decorations in combat, plus a long list of campaign medals, unit citation ribbons and other awards. In addition to the Navy Crosses, the highest honor the Navy can bestow, he holds its Army equivalent, the Distinguished Service Cross. A list of his awards can be found here.

Born 26 June 1898, at West Point, Virginia, the general attended Virginia Military Institute until enlisting in the Marine Corps in August 1918. He was appointed a Marine Reserve second lieutenant 16 June 1919, but due to force reductions after World War I, was placed on inactive duty ten days later. He rejoined the Marines as an enlisted man to serve with the Gendarmerie d'Haiti, a military force in that country under a treaty with the United States. Most of its officers were U. S. Marines, while its enlisted personnel were Haitians.

After almost five years in Haiti, where he saw frequent action against the Caco rebels, Puller returned in March 1924 to the United States. He was commissioned a Marine second lieutenant that same month, and during the next two years, served at the Marine Barracks, Norfolk, Virginia, completed the Basic School at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and served with the 10th Marine Regiment at Quantico, Virginia.

In July of 1926, Puller embarked for a two-year tour of duty at the Marine Barracks, Pearl Harbor. Returning in June 1928, he served in San Diego, California, until he joined the Nicaraguan National Guard Detachment that December. After winning his first Navy Cross in Nicaragua, he returned to the United States in July 1931 to enter the Company Officers Course at the Army Infantry School, Fort Benning, Georgia. He completed the course in June 1932 and returned to Nicaragua the following month to begin the tour of duty that brought him a second Navy Cross.

In January 1933, Puller left Nicaragua for the United States. A month later he sailed from San Francisco to join the Marine Detachment of the American Legation at Peiping, China. There, in addition to other duties, he commanded the famed "Horse Marines." Without coming back to the United States, he began a tour of sea duty in USS AUGUSTA of the Asiatic Fleet. In June 1936 he returned to the United States to become an instructor in the Basic School at Philadelphia. He left there in May 1939 to serve another year as commander of the AUGUSTA's Marine Detachment, and from that cruiser, joined the 4th Marine Regiment at Shanghai, China, in May 1940.

After serving as a battalion executive and commanding officer with the 4th Marines, Puller sailed for the United States in August 1941. In September, he took command of the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division, at Camp Lejeune. That Regiment was detached from the 1st Division in March 1942 and the following month, as part of the 3rd Marine Brigade, sailed for the Pacific theater. The 7th Regiment rejoined the 1st Marine Division in September 1942, and Puller, still commanding its 1st Battalion, went on to win his third Navy Cross at Guadalcanal.

The action that brought him that medal occurred on the night of October 24-25 1942. For a desperate three hours his battalion, stretched over a mile-long front, was the only defense between vital Henderson Airfield and a regiment of seasoned Japanese troops. In pouring jungle rain the Japanese smashed repeatedly at his thin line, as General Puller moved up and down its length to encourage his men and direct the defense. After reinforcements arrived, he commanded the augmented force until late the next afternoon. The defending Marines suffered less than 70 casualties in the engagement while 1400 of the enemy were killed and 17 truckloads of Japanese equipment were recovered by the Americans.

After Guadalcanal, Puller became executive officer of the 7th Marines. He was fighting in that capacity when he won his fourth Navy Cross at Cape Gloucester in January 1944. There, when the commanders of the two battalions were wounded, he took over their units and moved through heavy machine-gun and mortar fire to reorganize them for attack, then led them in taking a strongly fortified enemy position.

In February 1944, Puller took command of the 1st Marines at Cape Gloucester. After leading that regiment for the remainder of the campaign, he sailed with it for the Russell Islands in April 1944. He went on to command it at Peleliu in September and October 1944. He returned to the United States in November 1944, named executive officer of the Infantry Training Regiment at Camp Lejeune in January 1945, and took command of that regiment the next month.

In August 1946, Puller became Director of the 8th Marine Corps Reserve District, with headquarters at New Orleans, Louisiana. After that assignment, he commanded the Marine Barracks at Pearl Harbor until August 1950, when he arrived at Camp Pendleton, California, to re-establish and take command of the 1st Marines, the same regiment he had led at Cape Gloucester and Peleliu.

Landing with the 1st Marines at Inchon, Korea, in September 1950, he continued to head that regiment until January 1951, when he was promoted to brigadier general and named Assistant Commander of the 1st Marine Division. That May he returned to Camp Pendleton to command the newly reactivated 3rd Marine Division in January 1952. After that, he was assistant at division commander until he took over the Troop Training Unit, Pacific, at Coronado, California, that June. He was promoted to major general in September 1953, and in July 1954, assumed command of the 2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune. Despite his illness, he retained that command until February 1955, when he was appointed Deputy Camp Commander. He served in that capacity until August, when he entered the U. S. Naval Hospital at Camp Lejeune prior to retirement.

In 1966, General Puller requested to return to active duty to serve in Vietnam, but was turned down because of his age. He died 11 October 1971 in Hampton, Virginia, after a long illness. He was 73.

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. To find out more about Wednesday Hero, you can go here.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Wake Up Call

I'm one of those speed demons you see on the road. I'm "normal" when I'm not in my car, but once I get behind the wheels, don't stand in my way!

Well, today I saw a horrific 5-car accident on a neighboring expressway as illustrated in my rough cartoon drawing. One car plowed into the back of another car while the car behind it lifted it 60 degrees off the ground and was wedged underneath. I can see how this happened as speed demons rush up the hill of the expressway not knowing the traffic is all stopped at the bottom of the hill. I don't know the extent of the injuries, but fire trucks and ambulances were coming from everywhere.

The accident sent chills down my spine and it's a wake up call to all other speed demons like myself. Sometimes it's other people's misfortunes that make us see our mistakes.

Drive Safely!

- AV

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Man Vs. Wild

Have you been watching "Man vs. Wild" on the Discovery Channel? It's very addictive. The show is hosted by survivalist, Bear Gryllis, who is dropped off at remote sites at various locations around the world with only the clothes on his back and a knife. He eats off the land, use whatever resources he finds to survive, and has 5 days to find civilization.

I have learned how to survive in a desert, jungle, remote island, snow, ...etc. plus the show is entertaining although Bear takes a lot of risks jumping into rivers from enormous heights, eat raw raven eggs or a goat's eye for protein, kill a rattlesnake or a rabbit for food, fish for piranas, pee on his headgear to keep cool in the desert or pee on his jellyfish stings to heal.

It's amazing how he starts a fire so fast with just friction on sticks and dry tinder. I would be very proud of myself if I could do just that.

- AV

Friday, July 20, 2007

Classic Cars

I was at a street party/classic car show last night. I don't know the first thing about classic cars, but they are fun to look at and to photograph. So, what does the Twinkie have to do with cars? Nothing, but it was a cute addition to the street festival.

Have a nice weekend, AV

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Wednesday Hero

Cpl. Clinton Warrick
Cpl. Clinton Warrick (Soldier On The Left)
Medic with the 2nd Platoon, 300th Military Police Company

Even after having been thrown several meters, knocked unconscious, set aflame and buried under rubble all as a result of a suicide-vehicle-borne IED, a Fort Riley medic braved small-arms fire to save the lives of fellow Soldiers and Iraqi policemen last year.

Cpl. Clinton Warrick received the Army's third highest award for valor during a June 18, 2007 ceremony at Riverside Park for his actions during a Sept. 18, 2006, insurgent attack at the Al Huryia Iraqi Police Station.

Maj. Gen. Carter Ham (soldier on the right), commanding general of the 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley, present Cpl. Warrick the Silver Star and other awards before his family and friends, and his former 300th MP Co. platoon leader, company commander and first sergeant.

"This is one of Fort Riley's great Soldiers - one of our real, no-kidding heroes," Maj. Gen. Ham said at the ceremony. "It is right and proper that we come here to present you this award for valor. It is heroes like this who make our Army the best in the world and our nation so strong."

You can read the rest of Cpl. Warrick's story here.

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. To find out more about Wednesday Hero, you can go here.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Splash Dogs

Yesterday, I attended a local county fair and had the pleasure of catching this fun show called "Splash Dogs" where dogs compete to see how far they can jump off the dock and into a 40ft. pool. All these water dogs were enticed to jumping into the pool after their chew toy have been thrown in.

A majority of the dogs jumped between 10ft. to 20ft. measured from dock to tail; however, a few puppies were either afraid and just crept up to the edge of the pier while others who couldn't decide what to do at the last minute were only able to jump a few inches away from the edge.

One big guy looked liked he was walking on water, but in actuality, I caught him just seconds from hitting the water.

- AV

Friday, July 13, 2007

Reinventing Thyself

It appears there is a trend of companies shortening their names to their initials. For example, "KFC" used to be called "Kentucky Fried Chicken" and "Burger King" is trying to be known as "BK".

When I was in Vegas this past week, I was looking forward to purchasing some "Planet Hollywood" souvenirs until I realized their store only carried "PH" souvenirs. What's up with that?! Are they trying to reinvent themselves? Is it cheaper to print their corporate newsletters? Are they trying to insinuate that they are so well-known that only their initials will suffice?

So, I guess in the future, "Starbucks" will be known as "SBux", "Walt Disney" as "MICK", or "Apple Computers" as "iAC", ...etc.

Shall I rename my blog to "AOLU"? No, it won't make any sense.

- AV

(Note: The image above acquired from the Arizona State University's Photosynthesis Center website and slightly altered to fit my crazy scheme.)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Random Photos from Vegas

Overhead walkway looking southbound on "The Strip" between the Bellagio and Bally's.

Margarita sign inside the new PH (Planet Hollywood).

I was staying at Bally's and here I was wondering why the view from my window has been obstructed.

Tons of people at the MGM Grand's Lion Habitat watching lions chewing on rawhide.

I can almost hear these slot machines weeping as they have outlived their usefulness and getting ready to be put in storage.

Caught this with a camera phone of a casino employee cleaning the car someone could win as a jackpot.

- AV

Wednesday Hero

This Weeks Hero Was Suggested By Sunni Kay

Ryan Rahe has been active in the Special Olympics since he was in Middle School. The now 25-year-old has won quite a few medals over the years, but not all of his medals are at his Tennessee home. Some of them have been sent, by Ryan, to soldiers fighting the War On Terror for "good luck".

Jayne Rahe, Ryan's mother, said the idea of sending support to the soldiers in harm's way came about when she and Ryan were talking about news coverage of the war in Iraq. Jayne visited and discovered how she and Ryan could let the men and women in Iraq know their efforts are appreciated.

Ryan, named 2006 Special Olympics Athlete of the Year for the Blount County Sports Hall of Fame, said he felt good when he received the box from the soldiers. He said if he could talk with them face to face, he would say, "Thank you."

The Rahes plan to continue sending care packages to soldiers, including the medals.

"Ryan is a pretty generous fellow," Jayne said. "He doesn't mind giving things to people."

In a letter that Ryan received, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Anthony W. Grillett wrote:
"I and the Battalion can never thank you enough for sending us your medals. They have brought us luck and good fortune, and now as we prepare to deploy home we send them back to you with our eternal gratitude.

That you would send us something so precious is a reflection of your character. As you called us heroes; to me you are the hero. For I believe it is not who you are, or what you are that makes you a hero, it is the ability to give all especially when it is never asked.

Your courage to face the challenges required earning those medals and then so freely send them to us here in Iraq will forever make you a hero to me. I will never be able to truly express in words how honored I was when I read the letter from your Mother. It truly humbles me and shows me that what I fight for in our country will always be worth the small sacrifices asked of me. Thank you again."

Sometimes a hero is one who sacrifices everything in their life to help others. And sometimes a hero is one who sacrifices nothing more than their time.
We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. To find out more about Wednesday Hero, you can go here.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Lucky Day

Greetings from Las Vegas! I'm here with my parents after postponing this trip in June due to my father's heart attack in late May.

Although it's over 100 degrees outside, hundrds of people are still walking The Strip in the heat. There are "entrepreneurs" on the overhead walkways selling bottled water out of a cooler for $1 each. Not sure if they are legitimate vendors or not. Back home, you will need a vendor's license in order to sell to the public. Unbeknown to some, at the bottom of the walkway, the casino vendors are selling bottled water for $2 each.

Anyways, today was a lucky day since my mom won a $1800 jackpot playing the $1 slots. She's always been lucky in gambling. She even won several hundred dollars from cruise ship casino slots which are known to have horrible odds.

I thought this was a cool window display in one of the Paris Hotel & Casino stores.

- AV

Saturday, July 07, 2007

66 Hot Dogs & Buns

This might be old news to some, but since Joey Chestnut is a local boy, I wanted to mention his recent victory after eating his way to a record-breaking 66 hot dogs and buns in 12 minutes to take home $10,000 in prize money. From what I read, he didn't eat for a week to prepare for the competition.

In the past 2 years, Joey entered various other contests and ate...

- 8.6 lbs. of Deep-fried asparagus in 10 minutes
- 182 Chicken wings in 30 minutes
- 47 Grilled cheese sandwiches in 10 minutes
- 18.5 Waffles in 10 minutes

After eating all that food, I sure hate to be on the losing end. Like other major league sports, MLE (Major League Eating) oversees all the professional competitive eating events. According to its website, MLE's mission is to "maintain a safe environment for all events, ...".

I don't know that eating 66 hot dogs is safe and with all of Joey's winnings, he should think about seeing a cardiologist on a regular basis. So, how long does one sit in the john after 66 hot dogs?

- AV

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Forgotten Dreams

I was upset the other night because I was in the middle of an interesting dream, but I woke myself up prematurely with a cough. So, how do I get back to continuing with the same dream so I know what was the outcome? Unfortunately, after a few moments of being awaken, I had totally forgotten what my dream was about.

You know the story, some people come up with good ideas or solutions to problems in the shower or other inappropriate places while others come up with their epiphanies in the middle of the night. I'm with the latter crowd. Of course, I'll be too sleepy and tired to look for a pen and paper to write them down so in the morning everything is forgotten.

Who knows, I could have solved the world's problems and not even know it.

By the way, thanks to Aussie Cynic for nominating my blog for the "Thinking Blogger Award" because of my "interesting view points".

- AV

(Note: Thanks to Mark Parisi for his wonderful cartoon)

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Happy 4th & Wednesday Hero

First of all, I would like to wish everyone a Happy 4th of July!
For those not celebrating this holiday, it's a good excuse for a party!


On this Fourth Of July, a day in which we celebrate the birth of this great nation, we must also remember the brave men and women who made this day possible. To everyone who has and are currently serving in the United States Military I say Thank You. What you do day in and day out are what make this country great and me proud to live here. The sacrifices you've made for people whom you will never meet face to face will never be forgotten.

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. To find out more about Wednesday Hero, you can go here.
- AV

Monday, July 02, 2007

Tagged Again

I was tagged twice this week and this time by Dee at Don't Be Shy.

The rules are to list 8 random things about yourself and then tag 8 others. So here goes...

1. My favorite tv shows are "24" and now cancelled "JAG".

2. When I was younger, I kept a diary from age 14 until 28.

3. As a child of the 70's, I still love 70's music.

4. I'm afraid of the water although I love the ocean.

5. I don't like the taste of beer.

6. I wish I could travel the world and photograph everything interesting.

7. I like reading, but I'm usually on the computer.

8. My first job was waiting on tables.

Here's 8 friend blogs I tagged. You're not obligated to do this if you don't want to.

1. Scottalk
2. Ask Aunt Amy
3. Gosmelltheflowers
4. Thereyoucome
5. MrsNesbitt's Place
6. Sleeping Kitten Dancing Dog
7. Six Until Me
8. Harry's World

- AV