Monday, December 25, 2017

Having a Blue Christmas

I wanted to wish everyone a Happy Christmas and hope you can enjoy the rest of the holiday season. As I said earlier this year I didn't really have anything planned for any Christmas theme blog this year with new videos or pictures. So, I will just go with this one which is a fall colors picture with a slight transition into snow conditions, but not quite there yet look:
Merry Christmas Card 2017
I'm actually not having a "Blue Christmas". Things are actually quite good for me right now. Around a month ago right after Thanksgiving, 911 had to be called for a family member to be taken to the hospital. The issue was not life threatening and of all the emergency trips to the hospital you have to take this was a good one to have since I was not stressed about the outcome. In a few hours everyone was back home.

However, what shook me up was being in the waiting area, and a couple were fighting back and forth. I don't know the story since I couldn't hear everything and I wasn't really trying to listen, but it had to deal with an elderly person they were there for. I didn't really want to hear what they were saying because it was causing my calm self to start stressing. Eventually, the woman walked off to be with the elderly person inside. I really didn't want to be there. Even though my situation was going to turn out alright I don't know if their situation did. I ended up being stressed from that visit for a few days even though it had nothing to do with me or my family.

That's kind of the way I feel about the internet in general. For every happy day I have there are tons of people in social media that are having a bad day. Likewise, for every bad day I have there are tons of people having a great day. In either case, it can suck the life out of me. That's while I can't constantly take part in all the social media out there. I have to keep things kind of limited or I would probably be down all the time. I love people, but I'm not a superhero. 

So, if you are having a Blue Christmas, lacking the Christmas spirit, or just down these holidays, then I wish you well riding this out. As I heard someone say recently, "the trials of life do not take holidays." Please talk to others close to you. For me, January is the rough month and a big let down. In all of this, remember what the point of Christmas is about. It's not about buying gifts, Santa Claus, being good to someone, or being with family. Those are secondary. It's the same way I think about Thanksgiving. Too many people talk about what they are thankful for and usually some talk about pilgrims and Indians. The object of what you are thanking is the true meaning behind the day. Whether you have a good or bad mental state right now does not change the fact of the good news of a baby born long ago and what he represents (a baby born with a death sentence). The world as it is, will not always be like this.

On a lighter note, I better get to bed before Santa gets here. I'm holding out for a new camcorder. :)

Saturday, December 23, 2017

I Have a Bad Feeling About This (Star Wars Follow-up)

I wanted to follow-up on this last Star Wars blog entry with a few video reviews I found this week. I still believe that the people behind The Last Jedi movie did a lot of things intentionally in an attempt to make it underwhelming. You can understand this by seeing dozens of lists people are bringing up about storyline points that could have been done better. It just seemed like everything that was done was counter-intuitive to a Star Wars film, but as I said, done this way intentionally.

David Stewart on Youtube (has his own blog as well) did a series of videos that I think are excellent on this. A lot of what he says is what I was trying to get at with different words in the previous blog entry:

The Rot at the Core of New Star Wars

Nihilism and Post-Modernism in Hollywood

The Last Jedi: A Hate Letter to Star Wars and its Fans (Analysis with SPOILERS)

I am not the biggest fan of nihilism, post-modernism, or deconstructionism. Those three words lead to many problems. The notions of objective anything, be it truth, moral values, or any type of value (scientific values, epistemic values, artistic values!) go out the window. There isn't a TELOS (purpose) to anything. Everything gets reduced to "weird psychology" where truth is not important, but what you are feeling determines reality. Which gets weird because objective reality doesn't exist in this view only what one thinks in one's mind does. Everything is subjective. It is very difficult to be consistent with those ideas. Logically they self-destruct very quickly.

I don't mind if any movie or art piece uses those three big words in its presentation or story. However, they need to show that it is not consistent and the absurdity involved. I do think the this new movie, and possibly the whole new trilogy, is an attempt to deconstruct what a hero means in the Star Wars universe. We shall see with the last film of this new trilogy. 

Anti-Trekker gives a lot of the same criticism of the plot points I would. He uses some non-family friendly ways of describing this so if you are sensative to that I'm just letting you know:

Star Wars: the Last Jedi, destroys the Star Wars Mythos (Spoilers)

Again, I think the people who put together the story for this movie probably knew what they were avoiding. They could have used those plot points everyone is showing they "forgot" or left out, but why they didn't do it is the question. For some reason this was intentionally done for this movie. Everyone points out Laura Dern's character (Admiral Holdo) could easily be replaced by Admiral Ackbar or Lando Calrissian. It wasn't a coincidence. How the next movie plays it all out we will find out in two years.

No more Star Wars from me on this blog for the next two years. I have to admit that I think there is a little too much Star Wars click bait out there online. Yeah, I probably am adding to it. I actually do mock the Star Wars merchandising during Halloween, Christmas, and any other time of the year. You know, "When I think of the Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus during Christmas time I always have to include ewoks, R2-D2, Darth Vader, Princess Leia, and a handful of stormtroopers in my nativity scene to make it workout just right."

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Star Wars The Last Jedi: Massive Failure and Disappointment

"This is not going to go the way YOU THINK!" Jedi Master Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: The Last Jedi

This movie is a huge failure and disappointment. The irony is, that is the whole point of the movie. If you understand this then maybe things aren't too bad...

This weekend I went to see the latest Star Wars movie. Like the previous movie I avoided most of the trailers (it was forced on me at a theater during the Dunkirk movie) and to stay away from news headlines like the title of my post since I wanted to go in fresh not knowing what to expect. My apologies if you have tried to do the same and have not seen the movie yet because this blog post might be somewhat of an irritation for you. That is if you are a fan of the series. Even if you are not, I still think there is something interesting going on with this movie that a lot of the fans are not picking up on.

I'm a Star Wars kid who grew up with the originals. As a little kid, I lived and breathed anything that dealt with the series. When the original series ended in 1983 I was satisfied with the conclusion. I had grown up enough that for me I knew it was time to move on to other things in life. My interests changed. When the prequels came out I enjoyed them for what they were knowing full well that Lucas had to put certain limitations on himself in creating those stories.

Here is the fundamental problem with every Star Wars movie that has come out after the original trilogy: it is trying to create and satisfy expectations within a storyline without repeating itself; in other words something NEW and ORIGINAL. It's kind of like J.R.R. Tolkien's attempt to do a sequel after The Lord of the Rings series. He did actually start something, but never got really far. If you have the biggest and baddest fight between good and evil in a story, then anything after it is going to be a let down. I think The Hobbit movies suffered from this issue when they were made after The Lord of the Rings movies. You are going to trivialize the original story by creating bigger and badder villains and super weapons. If you do that OR anything less, all you are doing is just repeating yourself.

While I love Westerns they are really just variations of the same few stories. Same with the Japanese Samurai and Chinese Kung-Fu genres. There is a certain tension within Star Wars fans in that they want something totally new, but at the same time want the same type of movie over and over again. Some of the issues I have raised here is what I thought of the previous installment Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens. It introduced the new characters by replaying the formula from the original 1977 movie. It was rather cookie-cutter in doing this, but I understood why. I realized this new Episode VIII movie was the key to finding out where this series of movies is going. Are we going to rehash the original movies, or go into a different direction?

When I saw the movie this weekend I got to the theater as early as I could to get a good seat. BTW, I hate the whole reserve seating thing most theaters are going to now...another story for another time. Waited about an hour to watch the twenty-five minutes of trailers you have seen over and over on Youtube and TV. The movie started and after two and half hours ended. As I walked out of the theater I realized this is the first Star Wars movie that I really was disappointed in all the way through it. A massive failure and huge disappointment. I was saying to myself, "I'm just not a kid anymore," "Forty years of these movies to come to this," "My hero of the original movies shows up and they do this to him,"  and "Did the director and people connected to this movie actually watch the previous movie?"

There is a certain story progression in all of these movies. They build on the legends and lore of each other. For the past two years, people have been speculating on certain things that were brought up in the previous movie (Ep. VII: The Force Awakens). I mean, I haven't seen every video and message forum discussion because I was trying to avoid those type of spoilers, but I know people were completely over-analyzing every little detail of pictures, trailers, and words of actors, directors, etc.

This movie doesn't really take anytime giving any explanations for those things that people had been speculating on the most. It does do a "Rashomon effect" on one central plot point which was okay, but even that was sort of a let down. Other than that there didn't seem to be much revealed based on the what was hinted at time and time again by the previous movie and those who were connected with it.

What was the point of this movie?

After thinking about it over the past day, I think the main theme of this story deals with personal failures and disappointments. There is a sense that the movie is supposed to be a complete failure and disappointment. Now, that sets the bar really low! Lol! I mean, I could write a movie that is a complete failure too!

The characters and the viewers of the story have an idea in their heads as to the way things are supposed to be. A hero will rise up, a revelation/truth will be revealed that will change everything, the final duel or battle or confrontation will resolve everything, we can solve any problem to create the perfect utopian society, etc. Then to find out those things don't always happen is a major let down. The ideals have been crushed! Things that were supposed to be mysterious and awesome never were. That utopian society that has always been the center of the ideological conflict in that galaxy (and ours) will never exist. That's not the real world. Everyone in the movie and the real world fails! Everyone and everything is disappointing.

So, I think that is what is going on in this movie. There is a sense that you are not supposed to like it. Believe me, I could list a lot of things I really didn't like about it. There is a lot politically correct junk in it, but it's now a Disney movies series so I knew that going in. There is a bunch of interesting points in it. I thought what I am calling "quantum entanglement" between the force users was quite interesting. Story-wise, I think this movie will cause a lot of controversy when one looks back at Star Wars movies, and am not sure what will happen in the following Episode IX when it comes out in two years. I'm sad Carrie Fisher will not be a part of it which you can tell that her death in the real world really messed things up for her character's role in the Episode IX movie.

The funny thing to me is I did check a lot of the Youtube Star Wars fan channels after seeing The Last Jedi who were doing massive predictions and analysis over the past two years. They were made to look like fools, but they don't care since they are probably making a lot of money through ads on Youtube. After seeing the movie which basically told them exactly what Luke said, "This is not going to go the way you think," they are already speculating on the same things for the next movie!!! No lesson has been learned!

In any case, whether you have seen this movie or intend to, I think seeing it through the lens of "failure" will make it easier for you to understand and maybe enjoy.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Good, Bad, and Ugly News (Thanksgiving 2017)

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you and yours have a wonderful weekend whether you celebrate this holiday or not. Just thought I would give a quick update type of blog as to what I have been doing and thinking about.
Summers Meadow (13 of 13)
The bad news first. I fully intended to have another movie location video or two up by about this time. I specifically went to the same location I was at last year in the Alabama Hills. If you recall I couldn't do it because someone had their travel trailer in the spot I needed. Okay, this year I went earlier in the day and sure enough right as I turned the corner there were cars, tents, and people camping nearby. Sigh! So, like I said last year, "There is always next year." Actually, I hope to be there again after the new year a few times. So we shall see. It does get me a little nervous to see so many people hanging out there like that, but not because I don't want people to visit the area. I do. I am more concerned about people, city, or government officials wanting more regulations, but I'll leave that for another blog.
Summers Meadow (1 of 13)
The good news is I have finally found a movie location in the Alabama Hills that I have been putting off for almost eight years. It is the one that I have talked about on and off for the past few years. The trick to this one is it takes some legwork to get to it. I took some preliminary pictures and video of the area so I can figure out how I want to do it at a later date when I go back.

I guess the "ugly" news, if we want to go there, is I have yet to get a new video camcorder. I don't know if Santa Claus will bring one this year or I will have to purchase one at a later date. However, I probably won't do any more movie locations until I get the new camcorder. When I do I'll do some new locations, but probably do some of the old ones to just because I like them. In any case, it could take some time on this one.

As I have been saying, I don't have anything planned for Christmas this year. I do have another video I shot over the summer, but when that one will get edited together I don't know. In any case, enjoy the weekend and the holiday season! 

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Happy Veterans Day! (USS Midway)

I think I said I wasn't going to have anything more on military subjects for a while, but I just got finished uploading a bunch of pictures on my recent trip to the USS Midway in San Diego...

So, I will keep this one a bit modest and send you to my Flickr album about the aircraft carrier if you care to see a small portion of what I saw there:

USS Midway Flickr Album

If I put together a video then at some point I will link it here. In any case, I wish you and, of course, our brave veterans a peaceful day.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Summers Meadow (October, 2017)

Happy Halloween!

Hope you have a good one today. As I pointed out a few months ago, I'm skipping Halloween and Christmas themes for the foreseeable future. If and when the time is right I will go back to doing it if I can find something worth showing. If you are into that you can go back and look at the previous October blogs I have had on here.

Today I wanted to talk about how the fall colors were in the High Sierra this year. Since last year, I had been planning to visit the high country outside of Bishop again like I did last year. However, this year was a little strange in the sense that there was much rain and snow. That was a good thing getting the area out of a drought. However, it appears it threw off the timing of the color of the leaves. 

The leaves were uneven. Some turned different red and yellow colors, other stayed green, others had already fallen due to winds. So from what I read, and then saw for myself, many areas were not as spectacular as previous years. Some areas, like in the high country above Bishop you usually expect fall colors turning at the end of September or first week of October. Most areas were delayed about an extra week or two.

So I skipped the Bishop part this year. Sigh...there is always next year. Instead I did get to visit Summers Meadow for about two yours due to my brothers 4X4. 
Summers Meadow (2 of 13)
I had never been here before. I've hiked to different areas nearby, seen the area from a distance, but never stood here before.
Summers Meadow (7 of 13)
The only regret I had was we had to come a little later in the afternoon. I would have liked to have been there earlier in the day. That is the thing about the fall in the High Sierra, if you come too early the sun is not high enough, and a little too late the sun is already down passed the mountains. Your time is limited compared to the early and long sunlight hours of the summer. In this case the sun was still up, but in the angle I would have liked to have taken some really great pictures. Oh well, always next year.
Summers Meadow (9 of 13)
I did a short walk to find a nearby trailhead for a future hike, but since time was limited we had to head back. On the way out I took some of my favorite pictures of the area.
Summers Meadow (12 of 13)
Two days later I would be in a nearby town in a line for some lunch. A guy waiting for his order said that he had to take off since there was a head injury in Summers Meadow. After he took off I heard an ambulance siren passing the town on its way there. I never heard anything more than that. It is a beautiful area, but a bit of a rough drive at some points.

That's all for this one. I'm thinking of doing a few "short" opinion pieces in the upcoming weeks. Assuming I do I will add some more fall pictures from this area or other areas I visited when I do those.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Supremacy (Boxing: GGG-Canelo Open Public Workout)

The extended summer! I'm not as much of a boxing fan as I was when I was younger, but I'll watch any fight Gennady Golovkin is in. Oddly enough, you would have to look closely, but I believe that the hike I did to Mt. Hoffman is the one where he partly inspired me. If it is not in the pictures, then look in the video and you should see him at some point.

A few weeks ago I attended the open public/media workout near the Staples Center (Microsoft Square/LA Live).
GGG Shadowboxing

I've been to all his fights in So. California and I would have gone to this one in Vegas, but the prices are a little too high for this one. Tonight he faces Canelo Alvarez, and it should be a good fight. I'm a fan of GGG and know what he is capable of, but Canelo is no slouch. The fight could go either way.
Canelo Shadow Boxing

I appreciate GGG's sportsmanship, "less talk, more action", no-nonsense approach. Win, lose, or draw I'm a fan.
Gennady Gennadyevich Golovkin

GGG-Canelo Media/Public Workout (Unlisted YouTube Video)

GGG-Canelo Open Public Workout (Flickr Pictures)

Monday, September 04, 2017

Labor Day Weekend 2017

Happy Labor Day for those that celebrate it here in the U.S. As I usually point out on this blog, this marks the unofficial ending to summer in the United States even though technically it goes for another few weeks.

This marks the end of my summer blog series that I started just after the 4th of July. While I have more to show on some things I did this summer, I am going to hold that back for a while. Hopefully at some point closer to or during the holidays I will post some of that material. There is another item I intend to show in less than two weeks, but as far as what I wanted to show during this summer it is already up on here. So if you missed anything I did and care to see, then go back over this summer to find it.

Yesterday, I went to the Huntington Beach Civil War Days. If you have followed the blog from the early days you might remember I had been to this in the past. It was somewhere around the time I started up the blog. Actually, I went last year too, but never said anything about it on here. I thought it was important to go this year though. I'll explain while as I show some of the pictures I took.

Some of the Union troops:
Due to the controversy a few weeks ago where a White Nationalist group held a rally where there was some violence and one death, I found out that Manassas Civil War Reenactment that was to happen a week ago was cancelled.  I understand the reasons for that, but that is unfortunate that it has come to this.

Some Confederate troops:
What bothers me the most about this is the attempt by those to wipe out history. Obviously the American Civil War is the most controversial event for Americans in its own history. The fact that it is the only time that Americans fought against Americans in a war tells us this. No one doubts that American history has its own past sins that have been dealt with, but still linger over us to this day.

The Union side during the reenactment battle:
Taking down statues is probably not the best solution. Those statues should be a reminder of the history itself. For me, having a statue up is not necessarily sign of endorsement. There might be room for debate here as to having them in a museum instead, but the complete takedown of statues is very anti-historical.

The Confederate side of the reenactment:
As was pointed out by many, if you start taking statues down, then where do you stop? You can keep taking down statues of founding fathers who had slaves. How about any statue of any member of the Democratic party which historically endorsed the Confederacy. All of this is silly and gets us into genetic fallacies.

The Union cannon:
In any case, I like history and think all aspects to it need to be preserved. Not just the good parts we like, but the bad parts too. A lot of the old west historical items I have talked about in the past were filled with shady characters. This is not an endorsement or glorification of their personalities.

A former pastor of mine that I have learned a lot from has gone politically correct on so much that I have started to refer to him a "P.C. Pastor". On his podcast where he talks about cultural issues he really has bought into everything the mainstream press talks about. For me, if someone logs into a popular site like Yahoo News and thinks that is what the world really is like then it would be like we are living on two different planets. I think I said it on here after the election, that it is one thing to get the facts straight which is important to get the truth. It is another thing to selectively withhold information from others when it contradicts the narrative. So, a news organization in theory could be telling the truth all the time, but end up being deceptive by only reporting on a handful of issues that fit the narrative.

Getting back to P.C. Pastor he rightfully condemned the White Nationalist rally for Christians are not to think of in terms of racial superiority. Many Christian blogs I read did this as well. While listening to P.C. Pastor's podcast on this I certainly agreed, but kept waiting and waiting for him to talk about something else. What was it I was waiting for?

The counter-movement that has been going on and on since the election has been encouraging violent behavior. Taking the name of Anti-Fascism or Anti-Fascist (Antifa) is a bit strange since they seem to be what they fight against. Just because you define yourself in a certain way doesn't mean they you can't be what you fight against. The fact they encourage violence against those they disagree with is rather telling. I would warn people to stay away from groups like this because they are just there to physically stir things up.

So what did P.C. Pastor say about this group? Nothing. You would think that someone that holds to biblical Jesus beliefs against racism would also condemn the violence of the other group. I don't know what the population of those that attended the White Nationalist rally. Something tells me that that in proportion to the Antifa groups popping up it is not as significant as it might have been 50-150 years ago.

A few final points. As I have stated before, two philosophical truths that guide me in my political views and seem to be the basis for American government. One, human nature is weak, not all good, seeks its own self-interest, and cannot be perfected on its own in this world. Two, because of the truth of number 1, utopias are not realistic because that assumes human nature can be perfected. These two truths are something that needs to be pounded in the heads of millennials and other young people. I've seen a lot of ideas that young people are pushing that tend to be utopian when examined. The whole 20th century was an blood bath of utopian experiments that turned into nightmares. The current situation in Venezuela is another example.


I didn't take any video yesterday, but I did take about thirty minutes of video last year that uploaded today. It is really an unedited version. When was the last time I uploaded a thirty minute video? It is unlisted since it is nothing I am really hardcore about people seeing, but if you want to see a long Civil War reenactment video then this is it:

Huntington Beach Civil War Days 2016 (YouTube Video)

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Ursus Investigating Silence

So how many times have I said on this blog, "Nature does not play by rules"? It is my way of saying, "expect the unexpected" while outdoors to protect yourself. Well, here is a situation where I had a hard time following my own advice. Admittedly, this was not one of my better moments, and I probably could have reacted better.

A few hours after I encountered those river otters (A few blog entries back) I went on another short walk right before noon. I remember thinking how I was going to edit that otter video for YouTube while I was walking. Then I was thinking of how I could link it to another wild animal video I did. Then coincidentally, like a gift from heaven, the other wild animal showed up in my view.

Quick disclaimer: there are some "quick word graphics" in this video. Not really quick flashing, and imo rather mild to other things on Youtube, but if you sensitive to that sort of thing then you should know.

As it got closer and closer to me I was thinking, "Seriously? Seriously? It does see me right? Am I going to have to defend myself or run away?" Looking back I probably should have said something or made some sort of noise. When it got just a few feet away I started moving away, and that is when it realized I was a real person. It jumped up, and did a 180 degree turn, ran away, and climbed that tree.

I was pretty sure it was a harmless young bear that probably had just left his mother a few months earlier, but the one bear you have to avoid for black bears is the "stalking bear" (predatory bear). Keep in mind that there was not any trail or reason it should have come directly at me like that. That is what freaked me out at the time. As I said in the video, I think it just caught my scent and decided to head toward it. Then when it realized I was a living person its youngster instincts kicked in which made it climb the tree.

As I said in the video, I was kind of sad that I turned the camcorder off when it ran back and climbed the tree. It was really cool to see that. After it left I kept my distance and tried to walk a nearby road to see if I could see it again, but it was gone. I could have followed it better than I did by going directly where it went, but after our little encounter I did not want to spook it anymore than I had already had done.

If you hadn't seen the blog(s) I did on my black bear encounter two years ago then go there:

Investigating Ursus (Part 1)

Investigating Ursus (Part 2)

The music from Incompetech used in the video is called "Aggressor".

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Ancient Sentinels (Bristlecone Pine Forest, White Mountains)

(GPS: N37 23.140 W118 10.720)

As one goes north on the 395 HWY and passes the town of Big Pine there is a big sign on the right side of the road the says, "Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest". To get there you have to take the 168 HWY towards the east and then up the White Mountains to reach this area. I remember countless times seeing that sign every time I went by there wondering what that place was about. It was probably back in the early 2000's that I made my first trip here. I went back there a few years ago for some better pictures and video of the place.

This is the blog that I have been somewhat hesitant in doing. I've mentioned this place before in this blog at some point, and I've always wanted to say something about it, but how I wanted to do that was the issue. It is not an Eastern Sierra location, but it is close enough in the White Mountains further on the other side of the 395 HWY to the east. At the same time it is much more of a high desert mountain location with trees on it. In some ways, it is not as scenic looking as some of the other Eastern Sierra spots I have shown. The times I have been there it was very dry with no streams as one would have to expect.

The key is knowing what exists here, and that is what is important. But, how do I present it? Off and on I have struggled with this over the past year. Do I go purely educational on this one? Well, if I did that then I would make a long 30 minute boring video trying to explain everything. The place is well known enough that I suspect other people have done something like that and made it more interesting. Okay, so how about I go more suspenseful and entertaining for this one? You know, have some creepy music play as I show where we can be druids and live in harmony with these ancient living creatures that exist here. There was some thought of doing something like that and putting it out on Halloween or on New Year's Eve. After examining my video clips and pictures I thought that really wouldn't work. I would have to do a lot of editing to create some mystical look the place really hasn't had while I have been there. What happened on this one was I was in somewhat of a depressed mood, and I just told myself, "Let's do this one now and see what happens". I just started editing the clips together with some music, going over some of the booklets I have of this area, and putting it together. So the video ends up being a "bare minimum" educational video where I put together a few facts here and there. There are a few interesting scenic moments, and it helped that some clouds where hanging around in the distance to get some of that mystical feeling moments that music helps with.

Let's get to it...

Ancient Bristlecone Forest (1 of 25)

This is a close up of the bristlecones you can see on one of these trees. You should be able to see the bristles and the pinecones. One sees a lot of trees very much like this in the Eastern Sierra, but in this area one can find trees that have lived for thousands of years. The Ancient Bristlecone Forest ends up being the oldest known forest on the planet.

There are a few different groves to visit. A different one I have not been to is higher up on that takes more driving time to get to. This blog will deal with the popular Methuselah Grove that starts out at Schulman Grove Visitor Center. Edmund Schulman was the one who spent many years in the 1950's trying to determine the oldest trees by doing tests here.
Ancient Bristlecone Forest (4 of 25)
After depositing the fees necessary when I parked there I started the trail. The picture above is kind of typical of how the hike is.  You pass by a bunch of trees like this with an occasional sign number which means you need to get out the little booklet that have for you to read what it says about the location. I based the video on the most recent booklet for some of the facts in the video. I also have the much older booklet which is a lot different in presentation.
Ancient Bristlecone Forest (9 of 25)
The trails starts out at roughly 10,000 feet. You end up go up and down for an 800 foot elevation change over almost five miles. The hike is not difficult at all, but you are in an isolated spot with no water around. It is a good trail, but one should always be careful of not making any slips because you can start tumbling down the side of the mountain. Of course, a backpack with liquids should be with you during any hike like this. It really is a dry place not too far away from desert areas of Nevada and Death Valley.
Ancient Bristlecone Forest (12 of 25)
This time around was quite interesting because of the clouds being at this elevation. They did not feel like they were that far way. There were some nice scenic moments with them as I traveled around on this trail.
Ancient Bristlecone Forest (23 of 25)
As I made my way around on this loop trail hike, about half way around I finally got to the Methuselah Grove part of the hike. This is where all the oldest trees are. Some of the trees up to this point are hundreds of years old, but once you get here some of these trees go back thousands of years.

A couple of things I should point out. It is weird that trees live up in this high altitude place in a desert mountain location. You will notice the trees above are living on dolemite rocky soil. Typically, dolemite soil would be something very difficult to grow on, but the advantage is other types of plants do not grow on it. Also, the dolemite reflects the sun keeping the area a few degrees cooler for the trees that live here. One other factor that helps some of these trees is growing on the northern side of the mountain. That gives them less sunlight, but more water and snow during the winter season.
Ancient Bristlecone Forest (24 of 25)
Another factor that helps these trees is that many of the roots and branches go just enough under the soil or grow parallel to it. This allows them to get any water that may not go very deep.
Ancient Bristlecone Forest (22 of 25)
Some of the most interesting looking trees are the ones that have been sculpted by the environment over the centuries. I took a lot of pictures like this that you can see linked below on my Flickr account.

What happened is back in the 1950's Schulman found a tree in this grove that has been dated to roughly 4,700+ years of age. It is amazing to think there is a living thing here that dates back to before the birth of Christ, the Roman Empire, and Ancient Greece to basically when the earliest civilizations existed in Mesopotamia and Egypt. That tree is called "Methuselah" after oldest man written of in the Bible.

That is would I would have told you after my first trip, but it gets better. After many decades of referring to that tree as the oldest, in 2010 another tree here was dated over 5000+ years old making it the oldest tree here. Which gets a little strange because now you have an older tree than "Methuselah".

I guess I would say this is another area that I would summarize as "Survival of the Fittest". Where only the roughest trees have adapted to this area. They have the ability to live off limited resources, yet live so long. For that reason it is a very special place.

With all of that said, I am certainly not an expert on this place. Although I have a book I purchased many years back as well as the booklets about this place, a lot more could be said about it. If you are hardcore into trees like this then there is a lot of things you can find online about it. I'm just going to link a few things, but google is your friend on this one if you want more.

First, my YouTube video and other pictures I took on uploaded to Flickr:

Ancient Sentinels (YouTube Video)

Ancient Bristlecone Pine (White Mountains): all my pictures on Flickr are here.

A few links:

Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest (Wikipedia): check the footnotes for this article.

An PDF Article about Edward Schulman

USDA site: how to get there, fees, etc.

The music used from in the video is called, "Ever Mindful".

Sunday, August 06, 2017

A Former Luftwaffe Pilot (and Some Planes)

I was going to do this blog two weeks ago about the same time as the Dunkirk movie and the blog about that Spitfire, but decided to wait. Part of the reason was that movie really does not show any German humans in it. I think that is one of the movies strengths since you never see the face of the enemy in that movie. It turns it into a horror survival story against invisible enemies. On the other hand, a movie like the classic Battle of Britain (1969) gives a respectable look at the enemy side.

Some months back I was able to visit the Palm Springs Air Museum to hear the story of a former Luftwaffe pilot. Harald Bauer was a teenager when he flying for the Luftwaffe near the end of the war. He flew mostly Fw-190s and then He-162 jets. He was eventually shot down in a He-162 by a P-51 as the 8th Air Force was bombing the base he was at.
Harald Bauer (#2)
He survived the crash and was captured. Since his mother was living in Germany and was an American, he was classified as an American at the end of the world. Eventually he got involved in journalism and came to the U.S. Then during the Korean War he flew for the U.S., but not as a fighter pilot. He flew a Lockheed Constellation near Alaska (I think). He currently lives in Atascadero, CA.

The He-162 jet:
He 162 1a (#3)
He explains further details of his life in the videos I'll link below. I was glad I got to see him in person and hear his story. As I've said before, we are nearing the end of the lives of those who participated in WW2 so if you have a chance to hear from one then do so. Where I am at WW2 pilots are rare, but even rarer are Luftwaffe pilots.
He 162 1a (#2)
Another look at the He-162 at the Planes of Fame Air Museum in Chino, CA.

Not really related to Bauer's story, but since I am showing some German Luftwaffe planes I should probably mention BF 109E #3523:
BF 109E #3523 (#1)
Built in 1939, this was flown in the Battle of France and Battle of Britain as an E-1. Then it was upgraded to E-7 and sent to the eastern front. Wulf-Dietrich Widowitz flew it and was shot down during an escort mission by a hurricane. He made a perfect wheels up landing on the ice of frozen lake. The plane sank and was recovered in 2003. They intend to restore it at a later date.
BF 109E #3523 (#2)

Click here for more pictures I have taken of some of these German Luftwaffe planes.

Other links:

To hear Harald Bauer's story go to this YouTube link: Heinkel He 162 Jet Fighter Test Pilot

The Flying Heritage site has a good interview of him as well: Commander Harald Bauer

An article on the Bf 109 #3523 and its recovery.

This will probably be the last of my blogs dealing with airplanes for while. There is something I probably do sometime next year, but it is time to get to nature in the next blog. Up next time will be the blog, video, and pictures that I have put off and off for the past year or so, but will finally get to. It is something that I have wanted to do, but how to present it is difficult. Well, let's see if I can do it.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

High Sierra River Otters

So about four years ago I had an encounter with rivers otters in the High Sierra. I have not seen any since then until July 4, 2017 at 6:20 a.m. I was doing my morning walk and noticed down below some movement. Sure enough it was a mother and some babies:

What you see is all I got of them. Mother saw me and she and the rest took off. Due to the water level of the lake being much higher this year, it would have been really difficult to get down any closer to them from where I was. I tried to track them over the next ten minutes or so, but they are rather stealthy.

If you didn't see my previous video from four years ago then check it out since I got to spend more time with them in that video:

An Odder Thing

If you are more science inclined or curious as to why river otters are in the High Sierra then check out this science paper.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The "Star" of Dunkirk

Back on October 1, 2016 I was at the Planes of Fame museum in Chino, CA. A certain aircraft had just been taken apart and shipped there from on location at the Dunkirk filming. I took a bunch of pictures and video that I had intended to upload two nights ago when the movie came out. I realized that I wanted to visit the museum today for a presentation they were having so I just decided to take some new pictures and do a new video. It is better this way since I got to see the movie and how important this plane was in it.

I'll probably re-edit this blog at some point in the future to get all the links and history right for these aircraft that I am uploading pictures of. They all have their real histories, and I want to get that correct.

I thought the movie Dunkirk was really well done. As I mentioned last week and in the past with westerns, I don't mind watching movies that aren't intended to be historical documentaries. This was more based in creating an experience based on history. It was really intense, suspenseful, and action packed. One thing in the director's favor is he kept it within the two hour range which to me is a bonus. Sometimes I think movies are stretched out a little too long and tend to overkill. As I say in the video, this is probably the closest experience I ever want to have with a German Stucka dive bombing on me.

Here is the mock-up plane seen in the movie as it is right now. Notice the "R9612". That is not its real number of the plane it is based on, but was added for the movie from what I have read.

The Dunkirk Movie Spitfire #1 (Mk.Ia X2650)
From what I understand, the president of Planes of Fame, Steve Hinton, flew the main scenes you see Tom Hardy's character fly. Yes, another movie with Tom Hardy wanting to destroy planes with no survivors...bad humor...Bane as;)
The Dunkirk Movie Spitfire #2 (Mk.Ia X2650)
In time they will fix that plane up, but in the meantime here is another Spitfire. A Supermarine Spitfire L.F. Mk.IXe
Supermarine “Spitfire L.F. Mk.IXe”

A few links to look at:

The "Star" of Dunkirk (YouTube)


The music taken from for the video is called Procession of the King.

Friday, July 14, 2017

My Buddy Johari (War for the Planet of the Apes)

Now for something different...

During the first week of November, 2014 I was at the L.A. Zoo observing the newborn baby hippopotamus called Rosie. She was born on October 31st of that year and was a surprise to everyone including the zookeepers since no one knew her mother was pregnant. That same day I visited, I also came across a newborn chimpanzee and his mother in the penthouse behind where the chimpanzees normally hang out during the day. It was Zoe and her baby Johari (born on Oct. 27). Over the past few years I have gotten to know Johari and the rest of the troop at the L.A. Zoo pretty well. I like the older ones, but I tend to focus on the youngest animals since I like to observe how they are learning things. For the chimps, I focus on the two youngest males Johari and Oliver (born in Aug. 2014) as well as the youngest females Uki, Kima, and Zuri who are a few years older. Johari will always have a special place with me since I have almost seen him regularly since the time he was born. I have had some fun moments interacting with him, like this from a few weeks ago:
Through the rest of the blog I'll show pictures I have taken of Johari as I talk about this new Planet of the Apes movie. If you want to see videos I have taken of Johari and rest of the L.A. Zoo chimps then check out my Law of the Claw Youtube channel. That is sort of a side hobby I have for various reasons I can only hint at here for the sake of brevity.
Johari Kung-Fu Stance
Time to talk about the new War for the Planet of the Apes movie. I like the old Planet of the Apes movies, tv series, and cartoon to some degree. The original is my favorite, but the rest have some good moments in them. That's the way I think about the recent reboot of this series. I like how they have created an alternative universe where the natural history of the planet has gone in a different direction than our own.

The first movie, Rise, was good, but just the beginning. I thought Dawn was rather predictable and have to admit it was a bit of let down for me. I just saw War, and while somewhat predictable, it was a far better movie and much more emotionally satisfying. It is probably true to say that if you took the apes out and replaced them with some other persecuted human group, then you have probably already seen this type of movie before.

Some mild spoilers here, but one of the oddest points of the movie for me was when Woody Harrelson's character is talking about his son and the camera shows a picture of his son. I was looking at that then I noticed something that said, "Whitney Portal" right next to the picture. What's that got to do with this movie? I did get the impression by the end of the movie that the fictional setting might have been the High Sierra, with the Trona Pinnacles, and any desert region in California/Nevada being the ending. Not the real places, but CGI look-alikes. There were some nice scenic shots in the movie, but for some reason in these movies I always get that we are just dealing with a small region and not the whole planet.

As is typical in these type of movies the humans end of being the bad guys which sets you cheering for the anthropomorphic apes in the movie. Human notions of justice, revenge, and mercy play out in the main character, Caesar, in the movie. It was well done, and I hope to see more of these movies as we got to see Caeser's son, Cornelius (who looks a little like Johari, but is in fear most of the times you see him). I would assume that the Cornelius story can be told in future movies with the hope that the apes and future humans can find a way to live in harmony now that the war is over.

With that said....
Johari Ninja Warrior
The downside to movies like this is how literal one takes the moral themes in them. I mentioned this before with westerns. Westerns are not really how the west was. Western movies have selectively taken a few events or ideas that may or may not have happened in the old west and created a myth out if it. As I have said many times before, if you really thought what happens in those movies was true then you would think all anyone wanted to do was have gunfights with each other.
The same with these types of science fiction movies. One of the promos for this movie was done with primate specialist Jane Goodall. I'll link it at the bottom, but in it she mentions that humans do not own the planet, we are just one of the animal species of the world, we're not separate from other animals, that we have a responsibility to preserve harmony in the natural world, we are to be compassionate to all, many creatures have feelings/emotions, suffer pain, etc. She concludes we must understand these things in order to save the world.

First, a standard disclaimer, that none of what I am about to say is to cheap shot Jane Goodall who has done a lot of good work in bringing knowledge about primates to the rest of the world. It has been some years, but I have read one of her earlier books on the chimpanzees she was studying. Ms. Goodall is great if you want to learn about primates because of her expertise in that area.

In the promo she voiced over that I highlighted some of the ideas above, most of the ideas at first glance seem to be reasonable. In the big picture of things I would agree with what she is saying. However, if we take what she said too literally then I would have problems with that. As I like to say, the assumptions are always the killers, meaning that the statements above are assuming things that once you really find out what is really meant you will see some pretty crazy things are being said. As they say, the devil is the details, or the distinctions that are so important in these types of discussions are not being made.
Watching Me
This blog would go on way too long if I try to tackle everything that she said, but let me say something about the idea we must preserve harmony in the world. I'm not sure the world prior to humans had anything like what is meant by "harmony in nature". From the beginning there has been a struggle for existence. This has been a major theme in biology for the past 150+ years or more with the writings of Charles Darwin being the most influential on this issue. The notion that we can somehow not only change human behavior in this regard, but animal behavior too is just weird. Now if we are talking more about creating some balance in the world that would make more sense to me. That way you are sustaining and preserving animals, ecosystems, etc., but I would hardly call that harmony since death and suffering will still happen.

The second idea I wanted to say something about is the notion that humans are no different than any other species. Yet, for some reason, we are responsible in some way for the rest of the world that other species are not. There is a major hang up here that I see all over the internet when I see articles about an animal killing a human and someone says, "we cannot blame the animal." Of course, you can't blame an animal because an animal is not a MORAL AGENT! An animal is not capable of right or wrong it is just doing what it naturally does. Yet, when a human kills another human we assign him or her moral blame because he or she is a moral agent who has done wrong by committing intentional murder or unintentional manslaughter.
To be a moral agent there are three things that work synergistically (together at once). One, you have to be able to posses some level of freewill. That you have the ability to make choices and not something (beyond you) causing you to make choices. Two, the ability to reason in a propositional way. Meaning, you have the ability to justify your beliefs, not just problem solving. Three, you have a moral sense of right or wrong. Moral intuitions, conscience, etc. guide a person. All three (free will, rationality, and morality) work together in person making him/her a moral agent. Animals typically follow their desires and not reflect on moral issues like this. I've read books by those in the biological sciences (ex. Frans de Waal, Marc Bekoff) that try to give an account of animal morality. What typically happens is the concepts I have just mentioned are usually redefined in way that ends up being not the same thing. Although, in fairness to the two authors mentioned, it is typically in the last chapter of their books where they will say that human moral agency is different than the what they have discovered in animals.

The reason I bring this up, the foundation of how we treat other animals from an animal welfare perspective is how we treat other humans. Our obligations to other humans is key. It is first and foremost. A good person will be good to animals because he/she is good to other humans. However, a person that is good to animals does not necessary mean that person is good to humans. There is a value distinction between humans and non-human animals. Humans have infinite value as moral agents. Animals have value too, but not the same level because they are not moral agents. I'm going to link a Dennis Prager video below that argues slightly differently, but mirrors what I am saying.
The Tongue
So, I love Johari with every ounce of my blood along with a lot of other animals I have encountered. Insult my buddy Johari and I might go Clint Eastwood on you! ;) In seriousness, you can love your pets in this subjective way, but objectively you do have moral obligations and are responsible for other humans even if you do not love them in the same way.

Jane Goodall "Compassion" for War of the Planet of the Apes

Dennis Prager, "Are Humans More Valuable than Animals?"

A few of my Johari and other chimps vids:

Johari Ninja Warrior

Thanksgiving with Oliver with Johari Cameo

Chimpanzee Mixed Martial Arts


Little Oliver and Johari

Two old blogs for the original Planet of the Apes Locations:

"On Earth All Along"

Planet of the Apes Village

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Winter, Spring, or Summer?

(GPS: N37°55.760 W119°15.200)
So last week Tioga Pass finally opened up, and I decided to visit. The High Sierra had an overwhelming snowpack over the winter and spring that had not been seen in quite some time. It was very strange seeing Tioga Lake like this. It had me wondering what season I was in.
Winter, Spring, or Summer?
I had never seen Tioga Lake with ice on it in person. That is something just legendary you see in pictures of people ice skating around Christmas time, but it doesn't seem real. Seeing this in person was different for me to say the least.
Tioga Lake Iced
With the positive end of a drought that everyone wanted in California we have to remember that nature does not play by fair rules. There were some negative consequences of such an overwhelming snowpack in that there were some damages to places that will need repairs. Some people that hope to have their business running by this time of the year will still be closed until much later in the season. A lot of money is lost in both situations.
Tioga Lodge Damage
The waterfall drop from Ellery Lake at Tioga Pass:
Tioga Pass Waterfall
Tioga Pass is such an epic place:
Tioga Pass

Winter, Spring, or Summer? (YouTube Video)

Be sure to read this article on the damage done to Tioga Pass Resort.

The music used in video from is called Silver Blue Light.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Summer 2017 (Excuses and Updates)

I hope you are all having a good summer (or winter if you are south). I think it is about time for me to start blogging again. What I hope to do is have a blog every week or two until around Labor Day. Not everything I will be showing or discussing is "knock it out of the park" material, but is of interest to me so you might find a thing or two enjoyable.

Various issues:

1)I had a hard drive die on me some months back. Unfortunately, as much as I like to back things up, there were some movie locations I was going to show on that drive that I had no other place. So, I will have to start over with that, and that might take a while.

2)The other issue is my faithful camcorder is having some problems with auto focus. It is enough where I have to be obsessive compulsive to get correct video using it or going into manual mode. So, there is a good chance I will be getting a new camcorder in the future. That means that I will probably delay doing any serious movie location work or difficult hikes for that matter until this is resolved. Nothing is worse that spending hours of time doing this and coming home only to find out that I have a bunch of video footage I can't use.

3)At the end of last year I said I was working on a video I had hoped to have done soon after. I finally finished that one up and it will be on here within this summer blogging period. The big reason for the delay is I wasn't sure how I wanted to present it. I'll explain more on that one when I upload it.

4)In the past I liked to upload videos and create blogs on holidays. Although things could change, I have decided to skip Halloween and Christmas blogs this year. I enjoyed doing some theme connected to those holidays, but the amount of work and timing needed is not worth it right now.I have nothing planned, but even if something comes up I will probably release it before those holidays.

With all that said, I'll be back in a few days with the first real summer series blog. .  

Monday, May 29, 2017

The Mishe Mokwa Trail

(GPS: N 34 06.870, W 118 55.100)

It is that time of the year again where the unofficial start of summer beings on Memorial Day Weekend in the U.S. I wanted to show a short popular hike in the Santa Monica Mountains I did a few weeks ago. Admittedly, I’m a High Sierra snob so it is hard for me to get too excited about every hike in the southern part of the state of California. This one did have some good moments in it so let’s get to it…

My brother’s church hiking group wanted to do this one, and I was dragged along. To make it work out right I had to get up at 3:00am, meet up with the group, travel through Mulholland Drive on small roads though the Santa Monica mountains to get to the trailhead. We arrived at the small parking area sometime before 7:30am. There was some confusion here since some other friends we were supposed to meet ended up further on down in the main parking area where the Mishe Mokwa trailhead officially starts. We tried to get to them via cell phone, but the reception was not very good there. I wasn’t really in charge on this hike, nor did I know much about the area, so it wasn’t until later we all realized the simple mistake that had taken place.
The Mishe Mokwa Trail (1 of 13)
About twenty minutes into the hike we encountered the nice looking canyon that contained the sandstone rock formations that are major scenic point in doing the hike. Unfortunately, any pictures at this time of the morning in this direction would not be as great as later in the day due to the some just coming up over the east. Still it gives you an idea of the area.
The Mishe Mokwa Trail (2 of 13)
It was not too long after this that the open trail area closed up where trees and plant life were all around us. I had to constantly duck under the branches that would have “beheaded” me had I gone right through them. As we descended we finally came across “Split Rock”:
The Mishe Mokwa Trail (3 of 13)
After some jokes about how isolated this part of the trail is and this is where a serial killer would strike…not my joke, but some of the younger ones talked like this…we were off again. We passed many sandstone rock formations along the way which is really the scenic strength of this hike.
The Mishe Mokwa Trail (8 of 13)
It was while observing this rock formation above that something was triggered in my mind. There was a Kurt Russell horror western movie called Bone Tomahawk that was filmed somewhere in these mountains. I’m not sure exactly where, but I remembered a certain look that film had with sandstone rocks in that movie.
As we went around this loop trail we finally encountered an area that I liked the most. There is a residential area down below and the Pacific Ocean is in the distance:
The Mishe Mokwa Trail (9 of 13)
It was a little further beyond we were close to the highest point, Sandstone Peak, but we didn’t ascend that part because there were too many people near the top of that rock formation. We were content with the area we had ascended too; it was a big antenna adjacent to the highest point. On the descent back to the parking we saw a man made lake that I was pretty sure was Lake Sherwood. If I remember correctly an old silent movie was filmed at that lake connected to the Robin Hood story.

The last twenty minutes or so I had a really slow pace due to the amount of people just starting the hike. I was encountering groups of twenty people or more on the trail so I had to move off trail for them. A lot of Koreans like this hike from what I could tell.

As I got back to the now full parking lot, my brother was on the phone with the friends we were supposed to meet up with. We found out they were further on down at the main parking area and trailhead that morning before we got there, but after waiting around for us ended up doing the hike thirty minutes after we had started it. They were describing all the places they had been to that I have described in this blog, but were trailing us so we never saw them. That was the only disappointment we had about this.

Supposedly, there is over a 1,600 foot elevation change in this loop hike, but I never really felt I got any serious uphill in. It there was that type of elevation change then it is rather gradual with lots of ups and downs. Had we gone the other direction on the loop trail I think I would have felt it more. In any case, I don’t consider this hike to be that difficult and can be done in a few hours.

Some of the other pictures I took on this hike can be found in the following Album on my Flickr account:
The Mishe Mokwa Trail

Thursday, April 06, 2017

WW1 Aircraft (San Diego Air Museum)

(AKA The 100th Anniversary of the U.S. Entering WW1)

On April 6, 1917 the U.S. entered World War 1 due to what is known as the Zimmerman note and German unrestricted submarine warfare. It seems like it was just a few years ago that I was noting the 100th anniversary of an old west hanging that took place. The world changed dramatically in those years of the war. WW1 was the great event of the 20th century that influenced just about every other major event of the 20th century to even issues we face today.

I decided to visit the WW1 exhibit at the San Diego Air and Space Museum. While they feature everything from the dawn of flight to the modern era, I wanted to focus this blog on the WW1 aircraft they have. One has to remember that at the beginning of the war in 1914 that airplanes had only been in existence for about a decade. At the beginning of the war airplanes were used to make observation flights into enemy territory to see where the enemy was. Reconnaissance was the key early on. Some have claimed that air power in the first world war did not have that much of an impact on the war, but at the same time probably made it a longer war because the element of surprise was gone due to the reconnaissance being gathered. In other words, it bogged down in trench warfare because each army knew where the other army was.

As the war went on something had to be done about the enemy planes or observation balloons viewing one's territory. That is where the origin of the dogfight took place: planes attacking planes. Early on the notion that there was chivalry between the pilots where there was a knightly respect between pilots was not uncommon. However, as the war went on and technology increased that became less likely. One of the key technological developments came though the design of the Eindecker III plane:
Eindecker III
This was the plane Anthony Fokker developed a synchronized machine gun that could shoot through the propeller without hitting it. This is what led to what is known as the "Fokker Scourge" of August 1915 to early 1916. One of the main fighters that ended the scourge was the French Nieuport 11:
Nieuport 11
What is considered the best German plane of the war was the Albatros D. Va:
Albatross D.Va
One thing I should mention is that even though the U.S. entered the war on April 6, 1917 it had an economic impact for the Allies, and the navy helped too. It didn't have much impact on the war on the ground or in the air for another year. In fact, the U.S. had to end up buying airplanes from the Allies since it had none ready for an air force. One of these was the Nieuport 28:
Nieuport 28 (Other Side)
Another was the SPAD VII:

Of course there were many other planes used. At some point in the future I will show some of the others I have from a different museum. There are not many WW1 era museums or aircraft in my area. So I was happy to visit this museum.

My WW1 Aircraft Album (Flicker)

WW1 Aircraft at the San Diego Air and Space Museum (Youtube Video)

A few books I have read and influenced this blog:

The First Air War: 1914-1918 by Lee Kennett

Marked for Death: The First Air War by James Patterson

Wikipedia articles:

U.S. Enters WW1

Focker Sourage 

Bloody April (April, 1917. Another 100 Anniversary)

Fokker Eindecker III

Nieuport 11

Albatros D.V.

Nieuport 28


Be sure to check out The Great War Youtube Channel for a week by week look at the war. They just released this video of the U.S. declaring war on Germany..

Finally, the link to the San Diego Air and Space Museum.