Category Archives: Travel

The Great American Right to Complain

For 30+ years as a news hound and reporter of weird stuff, I, Xeno, have believed it is the duty of Americans to speak up truthfully about what they like and dislike.

We have the right to complain, to make things better. This was true in the past. Is it still?

I like peace, non-violence, transparency in government and privacy and fair voting for the public. I oppose violence and support peaceful plans.

I try to read a broad spectrum of news and ideas, but don’t agree with everyone or everything I read or see. Reading is not approving, obviously.

Long ago, I found and interviewed a man when researching “reptilian aliens” (they are just metaphorical, in my view) who advocated over email “storming Area 51”. I disagreed with his plan because the real Area 51 is on a US military base, it is still run by the CIA as far as I know and I also thought he might be an agent of a foreign government. You never know. I’m not into anything subversive, I follow laws and believe in peaceful change.

One thing I read about Area 51 that was reinforced by real voices of government employees in the news, was that people working within agencies don’t always agree with policies they are supposed to follow. It is the duty of workers to follow the direction set by leadership, but there were differences of opinion within, just as within the FBI, and also between agencies. I’m no insider, this is just what I gleaned over the years.

I like the idea of humans getting organized as a species, but not under fascism. I don’t like Nazis or any other violent war-promoting control freaks. The idea of people writing about Reptilian Aliens, as I have understood it, is that there are factions of “cold blooded” ideological Nazis in the US government. Some were imported from Germany after the war in Operation Paperclip and these scientists grew in power in the Shadow Government. They are opposed by other groups that take seriously their oath to uphold the Constitution and to protect citizen’s rights to complain.

Until the mainstream news started talking about the Shadow Government after the attacks of 9/11/2001, I didn’t think there really was such a thing. After learning there is, I still placed my faith in the good side of the inner US government, writing articles on such as 10 Proven Conspiracies and Why I Still Trust the Government. (The upshot was that “the Government” is not a single thing, it is different groups with different goals and ideals, many competing.) Conspiracy is a real thing; we have laws against it in the USA and people, including members of Congress, have gone to prison for it. Not every conspiracy theory is true, but some are, investigators have to look at the facts, the real facts, when available.

I keep repeating that I support peaceful change because it is true and because, on the spooky side, I fear that vocal people who complain peacefully, may one day be attacked, framed as radicals or turned into criminals in political theater by Nazi factions in the Shadow Government using dirty tricks, digital and otherwise. Let’s hope not.

I pray the good and honest people and groups win this epic battle.

Being interested in the culture of oddities, I have driven to Nevada and stayed at the Little Ale’Inn near Area 51 a few times. I enjoy the ET alien thing, the interesting people you can meet, and the science fiction fun aspect of it. I liked the movie Independence Day and enjoyed driving on the ET highway. I also personally like the idea of a US Space Force, although people laugh at it and some strongly oppose it.

How can we fix corruption and undue influence of big business in government if not by “storming Area 51?”

I like capitalism and competition generally, but support an idea by the Yang campaign to reasonably rein in the influence of super wealthy individuals and lobby groups:

Democracy Dollars. The easiest way to minimize the influence of super-rich individuals and SuperPACs in our politics is to drown that money out with contributions by normal Americans. Under my Democracy Dollars plan, every American would receive $100 per election cycle to donate to candidates of their choosing.

Via AndrewYang

I don’t endorse him as a presidential candidate, but I like this idea.

Representative Democracy, allowing the majority of the people (instead of a cabal) to pick the best leaders works well only if we have well informed voters. To make Democracy Dollars work, we first need truth in advertising and truth in news reporting.

Simultaneous with Democracy Dollars, we need laws that provide stiff fines for lies, and even stiffer fines for lies about lies–in other words, an American realist movement.

Candidate Joe Biden made a slip I heard yesterday while he was campaigning. He said, we need to support “truth not facts”. I do not support non-factual “truths” as facts are the basis of truth.

I support accurate and fearless fact checking as the basis for an effective peaceful democracy. We must protect the rights of reporters to investigate and report the truth.

I support local police, the FBI and the CIA and the NSA which I believe to be composed mostly of individuals of strong moral character who sometimes have to fight within their organizations for what is right, for what is truly American, for our rightful way of life.

Please save a copy of this on your computer, in the cloud, etc. and republish the bejeebies out of it if it ever gets “disappeared” by anyone who tries to put other words or ideas into my mouth! 😉

Peace, love and music,

Xeno of True Strange News

Blogging at &

Xeno is a songwriter who has written over 100 songs, a reporter and blogger for 30+ years and nephew of a member of the band Steppenwolf. He was engaged to the personal chef of a California billionaire and has traveled to all 48 lower US states interviewing people for an eventual book on happiness. He opposes violence and promotes peaceful positive change.

Siberian Selfie Spot is Man-Made Beautiful Toxic Lake

A toxic Siberian lake, due to its beautiful turquoise color, has become a favorite place for photos. One Russian man posting on Twitter ignored the warnings to stay out and said his legs turned red and itchy for several days.

Residents of a city in Siberia don’t need to fly off to tropical locales for picturesque selfies taken by pristine turquoise waters. Thousands of Novosibirsk residents — ranging from scantily clad women to newlyweds — have been busy instagramming near a bright blue lake nicknamed the “Siberian Maldives.”

The lake is blue, however, due to a chemical reaction between toxic waste elements from a local power station. Environmentalists are warning people against coming into contact with the water. …

Dmitry Shakhov, a Russian environmentalist, warned that the water in the lake can cause allergic reactions or even chemical burns if ingested or touched.

“This water is saturated with heavy metals (and) harmful substances,” he said.

Via MyNW

The unbelievably beautiful color is a result of a chemical reaction, with calcium salts and oxides of various metals dissolved in the water. It’s a rather common sight at the disposal areas of power plants that operate on brown coal.

… The power plant, which had dug the lake for its own needs, wasn’t too happy about all the hype. Its operator was forced to issue a statement on social media to dispel various rumors, while at the same time trying to drive the amateur photographers away. ..

Via RT

If you happen to be in Siberia near Novosibirsk, you might want to stop for a picture.

Some Strange Behaviors on Airlines Explained

Science has explanations for some unusual behavior on airline flights. It turns out that lower oxygen in the cabin makes some people revert to deeper brain functions and this results in, for example, the previously unexplained crying of some passengers. In addition sustained loud noise in a jet was found to reduce the ability to taste sweets, making tomato juice and ginger ale two of the most popular drinks on flights.

In 2011, the airline Virgin Atlantic ran a survey asking customers to describe their on-flight emotional experiences. Overall, 55 percent of travelers said they had “experienced heightened emotions while flying,” and a striking 41 percent of men stated that they had “buried themselves in blankets to hide tears in their eyes from other passengers.”

Via theAtlantic

The Boston Globe investigated our propensity for strange behavior on flights and found that the incapacity to regulate emotion might have a scientific explanation. Low air pressure reduces the oxygen in our blood and can affect our design-making and emotion.

Cornell researchers think that high noise levels lower our ability to taste sweet things and draw us to other flavors. One of those flavors is umami, a savory taste category sated by tomatoes.

via NPR

The fact that sound levels change taste perception was publicized in 2015 by Time magazine:

Loud noises can change the way we perceive how our food tastes, according to new research. 

In the study, published in theJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, researchers had 48 men and women try liquid solutions of five different tastes: sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami at different concentrations. There was a catch, however. The men and women tried them in either a room either normal ambient noise, or one with simulated loud airplane cabin noise. 

Interestingly, the study authors found no significant differences in how the people rated the salty, sour or bitter tastes. But they found that in the loud noise environment, sweet taste intensity was rated as lower and umami taste was rated as more pronounced. 

Via Time

The article explains that sounds are important to our perception of foods in several ways.

More bubbles popping louder and faster make carbonated beverages better and the sound of a crisp apple or bacon makes these foods seem to taste better.

Another interesting effect, something you can use at home, is that music of a particular region can make a meal taste more authentic. Next time you have pasta, try playing some Italian opera softly in the background.

The World’s Oldest Business is 1,441 Years Old

What currently running business is the oldest known? We were impressed to learn that a Japanese manufacturer of sake, Sudo-Honke, based in Obara was established in the year 1141 AD!

Sudo Honke (Established in 1141)

Sake is one of the best loved alcoholic beverages in Japan and, much like whisky in Scotland, its manufacture is rooted in a deep and precise tradition.

Perhaps that’s why Sudo Honke, the oldest business on the planet, remains popular after almost 800 years.

The team at Sudo Honke retain a simple, clean and effective method of brewing rice wine. So while they’ll never be brewing sake on an industrial scale, their traditional brewing techniques will be valued for lifetimes to come.


Could any company be older than this? Surprisingly, yes. According to Wikipedia, here are 30 companies (below) that are as old or even older than Sudo Honke. The oldest company still in operation in some way is Kongō Gumi established 1,441 years ago in the year 578 AD in Japan.

… this Japanese construction company … was the world’s oldest continuously ongoing independent company, operating for over 1,400 years until it was absorbed as a subsidiary of Takamatsu in 2006. …

A three-meter 17th-century scroll traces the 40 generations back to the company’s start. As with many distinguished Japanese families, sons-in-law often joined the clan and took the Kongō family name. Thus, through the years, the line has continued through either a son or a daughter. 


Shigemitsu Kongo was a renowned temple builder, and the royal family in Japan commissioned him to build the Shitenno-ji temple, which still stands today in Osaka. Kongo saw an incredible opportunity. Buddhism was catching on fast, and he knew he could be kept busy for decades building temples. It turned out to be centuries. Over 14 centuries, in fact.

… What Kongo Gumi couldn’t survive was debt. It doesn’t matter if you’re an individual, a company, a government, or even a central bank; if your balance sheet doesn’t add up, sooner or later you’re going under.


This chart showing the AD year these oldest companies were established is interesting. Adapted from Wikipedia.

Year Company Current location Field
578 Kongō Gumi Japan Construction
705 Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan Japan Hotel
717 Koman Japan Hotel
718 Hōshi Ryokan Japan Hotel
771 Genda Shigyō Japan Ceremonial paper goods
803 St. Peter Stiftskulinarium Austria Restaurant
862 Staffelter Hof Germany Wine
864 Monnaie de Paris France Mint
885 Tanaka-Iga Japan Religious goods
886 Royal Mint United Kingdom Mint
900 Sean’s Bar Ireland Pub
953 The Bingley Arms United Kingdom Pub
970 Nakamura Shaji Japan Construction
1000 Château de Goulaine France Wine
1000 Marinelli Bell Foundry Italy Foundry
1000 Ichimonjiya Wasuke Japan Confectionery
1024 Shumiya-Shinbutsuguten Japan Religious goods
1040 Weihenstephan Germany Brewery
1050 Weltenburger Germany Brewery
1074 Benediktinerstift Admont Austria Woodworking
1075 Takahan Ryokan Japan Hotel
1100 Schloss Johannisberg Germany Wine
1120 Zum Roten Bären Germany Hotel
1126 Taferne Austria Hotel
1128 Halydean Corporation United Kingdom Land & Livestock
1131 Hofbrauhaus Arolsen Germany Brewery
1134 Geto Onsen Japan Hotel
1135 Munke Mølle Denmark Mill
1135 The Olde Bell United Kingdom Hotel
1136 Aberdeen Harbour Board United Kingdom Harbor
1141 Barone Ricasoli Italy Wine
1141 Sudo Honke Japan Sake

Some of these companies have been in business longer than methuselah an ancient character who is claimed by literal bible believers to have lived 969 years.

Fun tour idea:  Big Eight Immortal Business Tour

On the Immortal Business Tour we will visit a temple created by the oldest company in the world, Kongō Gumi, (established 578 AD,) then stay three nights, one per night at the three oldest hotels in the world which are also in Japan and are the 2nd, 3rd and 4th oldest still operating companies in the world.

Next we will obtain ceremonial paper goods from Genda Shigyō and then fly to Salzburg, Austria for dinner at a restaurant within the walls of St Peter’s Abbey, after which we will visit Staffelter Hof in Germany for some Wine, and finally hop over to France and tour the Mint to finish out your tour of the 8 oldest companies in the world.

Cost and dates to be determined.

“Connect to Internet for further detail.”


Just kidding. That’s my description and a link to a company I just found on line. Xeno’s Tours has nothing to do with my imaginary Big Eight Immortal Business Tour … yet.

Strange Photo: Komodo Dragons “Hugging”

This strange photo of Komodo dragons fighting was taken at just the right moment so they appear to be engaged in a happy hug.

It does not appear to be a well known image. TinEye has never heard of it.

It was posted on Instagram with credit to Muhtesem Doga but Google Translate says “Muhteşem doğa fotoğrafları” is Turkish for “gorgeous nature photos” so I don’t think @joysafaribay got the photo credit correct.

There could be a person in Turkey named Gorgeous Nature.

If you know the real name of the photographer leave a comment.

Komodo dragons can be seen in the Komodo National Park, in Indonesia. The park, part of and area with huge biodiversity, includes the three larger islands Komodo, Padar and Rinca, and 26 smaller ones.

Here is a YouTube video of a Komodo dragon fight:

Komodo dragons are the largest known living species of lizards and, just so you know, they are deadly. They have shark-like teeth and poisonous venom that can kill a person within hours of a bite. They don’t normally go after humans, but they can. They do sometimes attack humans seemingly unprovoked, so keep a safe distance if you visit them.

The big lizards seem pretty slow. You could just outrun them, right? Perhaps. They can sprint almost as fast as the average running speed of a healthy adult human.

Komodo dragons are solitary, coming together only to breed and eat. They are capable of running rapidly in brief sprints up to 20 km/h (12 mph), diving up to 4.5 m (15 ft), and climbing trees proficiently when young through use of their strong claws.

Via Wikipedia

While the current fastest human on record, Usain Bolt, ran nearly 28 mph and although humans could potentially run up to 40 mph, the average running speed of a “healthy” adult human is probably somewhere in the range of 10-15 miles per hour. 

Can you run 15 mph? If so, you’re probably fast enough for Komodo dragon evasion … unless you meet the Komodo dragon Usain Bolt.

Spice Girls Van Converted to AirBnB

Looking for a fun unusual get away vacation? If you’ve ever enjoyed music by the Spice Girls, you might like this: the hit band’s tour van has been renovated into an AirBnB rental. They say can now book a night in the heart of Wembley Park in London, a place with lots of restaurants, bars and shops nearby.

The interior of the bus has been completely renovated and converted into a rolling hotel room fit for three guests at a time, according to the Airbnb posting.

Suzanne Godley, who, along with her boss, completed the bus overhaul, said the Spice Girls were her childhood “obsession.”

Read more UPI

There other interesting and strange places you can rent on the AirBnB site; a castle, a gypsy wagon, a windmill, a gingerbread house, a private island, even a restored 200 year-old church in one January 2016 review of strange listings.

Baboons Invade A Swimming Pool

A family in South Africa thought their neighbors were rudely using their swimming pool without permission, but they discovered the true culprits were baboons.

The Marloth Park, Ehlanzeni, homeowner said he and his wife started noticing that when they would come home from work, it appeared someone had been using their pool.

Read more UPI

This would be a strange problem to have in California, but in South Africa baboons are fairly common.

Some of its most visible and intriguing creatures are roughly 500 chacma baboons. According to the official Guide to South Africa website, 11 troops of the baboons (a species widely present in southern Africa) are found from the Tokai Forest in the city’s southern suburbs to Table Mountain National Park.

Via NatGeo


Baboons don’t always have the best manners.

Best DYI Car Hail Protection Rig

Mid April 2019 many Texans without carports rigged up protection against damaging hail storms. There were inflated floaties and bags of mulch tied to cars, but my favorite was this design.

Ryan Bussey had a creative use for dozens of pool noodles in face of the storm.

See more NBC4

It would make a great pool fence for the back yard when not functioning as a hail shield.