A welcome surprise in Southern California Extended Stay America – Simi Valley, California

Bob van der Valk gives the Extended Stay America in Simi Valley two thumbs up.
Bob van der Valk gives the Extended Stay America in SiMi Valley two thumbs up.

We have had the opportunity to travel and visit family and friends as well as do business in Southern California for the last five years traveling from our home in Terry, Montana. My wife and I lived and worked in Southern California most of our lives prior to our move to Big Sky Country Montana about five years ago.

We typically bunk up at the home of a family member or friend but did not do so on our recent trip in the beginning of August 2013. This time we planned mixing business with a little pleasure since we hardly seem to make time to visit museums and amusement parks while we are “in town”.

Our daughter recommended the Extended Stay America in Simi Valley being in close proximity to our various stops scheduled during our stay. We reserved a room with a queen size bed, kitchen (with utensils) and a desk to get some work done. The price quoted was under $100 per night for a 4-day stay. The short of it is they exceeded all of our expectations and then some.

Upon checking in the desk clerk recommended the king size bed and even gave my wife the key to the room so she could check it out. My wife decided it met our expectations and we finally got some much needed rest after our travels to the hotel.

The “Wow’ factor is the friendliness of the staff at this hotel. Verica Weikal, the Manager of the hotel, took time to greet her guests and patiently answered any questions posed her. I had two exhausting days of work during our stay but each time was relieved to see the insignia of the hotel ahead knowing I was at my home away from home.

Verica Weikal posing next to the picture taken of her meeting President George W. Bush.  She said he was a "hugger", which he had learned from his mother Barbara.
Verica Weikal posing next to the picture taken of her meeting President George W. Bush. She said he was a “hugger”, which he had learned from his mother Barbara.

The run and grab morning continental breakfast was helpful in keeping me on schedule for my early morning appointments along with having Freeway 118, right next to the Kearns exit, easing my traffic concerns. The shopping center next to the hotel has a variety of fast foods and to our great surprise an In ‘N Out Burger restaurant is located just on the other side of the 118 from this hotel. a

Two supermarkets are within a mile of the hotel with many more restaurants with foods of any choice of which you might want to eat when you’re hungry. It made our stay even more comfortable and we did not have to cook with the inexpensive places to eat out or bring-in so close by.

Dogs and cats are allowed at this hotel and guests were polite as they brought them in and out of their rooms for their regular walks.

After two hard days of work came the “pièce de résistance” visiting the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum located close by this hotel as well. Again Verica Weikal came to our rescue and informed us about the ins and outs and does and dont’s to make our visit to the site easier and spend time on the most worthwhile exhibits since we were on a limited time schedule.

Our trip to Simi Valley was made even more comfortable by being able to sleep on king size bed as well as not getting that cooped up feeling whenever we stay at a place where we did not have time to check reviews before booking our room.

I give Verica Weikal, her staff as well as the hotel two thumbs up and will be back soon to stay there again on our next visit to Southern California.

Bob van der Valk is the Managing Editor of the Bakken Oil Business Journal as well as Petroleum Industry Analyst living and working in Terry, Montana. He can be reached at editor@bakkenoilbiz.com

The Benefits of Trampoline Fitness, Despite Dangers

We’re not sure if it’s because our parents love us, or because they want us to die, but the daddy-man bought us a trampoline for Christmas last year. Buying it was bad enough, but he had to build it with the help of some neighbors, so that was even worse.

If this was 1970 or 1980, it would be a done deal. It would just prove that you love your kids, but now there’s the whole “danger to kids” thing to bear in mind, but it’s really not all that bad. Continue reading The Benefits of Trampoline Fitness, Despite Dangers

Nine Foods to Eat to Prevent a Hangover

You know how it is when you’ve had too much to drink. You want anything you can find to counteract the poison, so you do anything you can to feel better. Or do you?

But there are actual things you can eat to stop the drunkage from getting too serious… Continue reading Nine Foods to Eat to Prevent a Hangover

Exclusive Interview: Dean Chambers of UnskewedPolls.com

Today, GlossyNews.com has the unique opportunity to present an interview with Dean Chambers from UnskewedPolls.com. And yes, this is a real interview.

For the sake of proof we asked Dean to provide a photo of himself, and what you see here is real. This is really him. And no, we didn’t Photoshop it except to make it fit for width. Continue reading Exclusive Interview: Dean Chambers of UnskewedPolls.com

Yes, Virginia, $250,000 IS Rich

There’s this fun little debate going on in Washington about tax rates for households earning over $250,000.

Some would have you believe that those earning over $250,000 are not rich, but those people would be lying to you.

I’ll start with the conclusion to save you some time. $250,000 per year in household income makes you rich. Period. Continue reading Yes, Virginia, $250,000 IS Rich

Sensible Gun-Control Proposals Obvious, Impossible

In the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre the question of gun control has come up once again. Sure, we can’t blame people, or guns, or bullets, so I guess the onus falls on firing pins, and they’re the real villains.

What I’ve seen on political discussion sites, including /r/politics on Reddit, is an awful lot of hate for common sense approaches to even the most modest, incremental steps towards regulating guns in America. Continue reading Sensible Gun-Control Proposals Obvious, Impossible

West Coast Gasoline Pump Prices To Soar Before Memorial Day

Dateline: Terry, Montana
May 10, 2013 – 6 pm MDT
By: Bob van der Valk

This is “The End” for any hope of gasoline prices on the West Coast, specifically Southern California, before Memorial Day. Today’s AAA Fuel Gauge for Los Angeles-Long Beach showed the average gasoline price already over $4 per gallon. The two major oil company refinery upsets in Southern California this afternoon will result in spike for gasoline prices starting on Monday with retail pump prices expected to hit $4.25 per gallon. The remainder of the West Coast including the Bay Area and the Pacific Northwest gasoline prices will follow suit.

The CononoPhillips 76 refinery in Wilmington reported flaring this afternoon. Then the kicker came in the form of the ExxonMobiil refinery suffering a “power bump” putting their Fluid Catalytic Cracker (FCC) unit out of business.

ExxonMobil refinery in Torrance, CA 5-10-13
ExxonMobil refinery in Torrance, CA 5-10-13

Because of it the ExxonMobill was flaring Friday afternoon at its 149,000 b/d refinery in Torrance, Calif., with the shut down of their FCC unit, which had been kept running while other units in the refinery were going through a planned turnaround. Now all of the units at this refinery are down.

The FCC is out of service and the refinery is flaring,

The refinery issued an unplanned flaring notification to the South Coast Air Quality Management this afternoon citing a breakdown. The flaring event began at 2 p.m. PDT and is expected to end before midnight.

ExxonMobil began a large-scale, multi-week turnaround May 3 on Torrance’s lone crude unit, an alkylation unit, a delayed coker unit, a sulfur recovery unit and a hydrotreater.

“Although we anticipate impact to production, ExxonMobil expects to be able to meet its contractual commitments,” a company spokesperson previously said about the planned maintenance.

The fluid catalytic cracker was not involved in the turnaround and had been operating via gasoil feed stored in railcars before a power glitch affected the unit.

Late Friday afternoon David Dumais, deputy fire chief of Torrance Fire Department, confirmed the following by phone.

* Upset occurred during maintenance turnaround,
*Refinery started turnaround this month on units including crude unit, alkylation unit, coker, hydrogen
plant on May 2, 2013.

Any or all of the above article can be re-published with proper attribution to the author and the Bakkken Oil Business Journal.

Feel free to contact me for updated information.

Bob van der Valk
Managing Editor
Bakken Oil Business Journal
Terry, Montana
(406) 853-4251

They Aren’t Entitlements, Guys, Lay Down Your Weapons

Every day in the conservative media I hear about slashing benefits in the “entitlement” sector, and while that may sound good, it’s total boshat, and of the highest order.

Almost everything the conservative media decries as wasteful “entitlement” spending is actually fully funded, and has been for generations. So let’s get real.

These aren’t things people feel entitled to. These are things people deserve, and have earned, whether by paying into them, or by participating in one of our many American programs. Continue reading They Aren’t Entitlements, Guys, Lay Down Your Weapons

Let’s Make Welfare Drug-Free (It’s For the Children)

This is a point-counterpoint article presented by Brian K. White of GlossyNews.com and Dean Chambers of UnSkewedPolls.com. Should we make welfare drug-free? How do we do it? What are the costs on both sides of the equation? These are just some of the issues we will debate. Continue reading Let’s Make Welfare Drug-Free (It’s For the Children)

Are You Mad as Hell with High Gasoline Prices?


Most of us are sick and tired of paying for ever higher gasoline prices blamed on events seemingly out of our control. You may even be saying– “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore”. But what can you do about having some feeling of control over what you pay for this precious commodity important to get to work, do your work, shopping as well as some money left over to visit family?

Average US gasoline prices February 2013
Average US gasoline prices February 2013

We are constantly bombarded with news about riots, protests and even an earthquake or two almost immediately affecting the price for gasoline we pay at the pump. The truth is somewhere between what you hear and the real reasons for those unexpected gasoline price spikes.

What it takes to refine crude oil into gasoline and diesel fuel depends on inventories purchased ahead of time at fixed prices. Meanwhile pump prices are being adjusted on the variations of the spot market prices being quoted by Commodity Exchanges for different types of benchmark crude oils. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil, Brent and Alaska North Slope (ANS) crude oil benchmarks currently rule the market. The Brent crude oil posted on the Intercontinental Commodities exchange (ICE) headquartered in London.

We continue to depend on crude oil imports from overseas countries, which are hostile to our culture and form of capitalism. Domestic major oil companies have available crude oil reserves, which will be able to meet our demands without having to increase our fuel prices immediately. However, they elect to import crude oil instead and utilize the Last In – First Out (LIFO) method to calculate their inventories and set their fuel prices.

One way to beat the oil companies at their own game is to keep track of your fuel economy for your family buggy.

If you are an overachiever with basic math skills, calculating your fuel economy is easy to do. Divide your miles driven since your last fill up by the gallons of the current fill up and there you have it.

Pen and paper for tracking miles per gallon is almost free, and require little more than 30 seconds after you fill up your gasoline. Tracking your fuel economy seems to be in vogue once again since $4 per gallon gasoline prices has hit some parts of our country.

But who the heck wants to do math anymore? You now have smart phones with an app to take care of that work. Just input the miles from your odometer and the amount of fuel you filled up on the “GasHog” app for $1. It will then figure out the miles per gallon for you. In fact, you’ll be able to keep track of historic data and break down your fuel economy and exact cost per mile. You will know exactly how much driving is costing you. . “Mileage” for Android does the same thing for your Droid and other smart phone systems driven by that software.

There are other apps to find the closest gas station to your location. Gas Buddy has an app to let you know fuel prices at gas stations or truck stops nearest to where you are.

Bob with Texaco pump

Entering the information on your smart phone at the time of the fill up will be the hardest thing to remember. If you are in a hurry to get in and out after filling up and forget, the whole process has to start all over again.

Some of you will just go back to knowing your vehicles intuitively and are good enough at math to put a non-zero value on your time.

About The Author – Bob van der Valk is an Independent Petroleum Industry Consultant living in Terry, Montana with over 50 years of experience in the petroleum, gasoline and lubricants industry. He can be contacted at: tridemoil@aol.com