May 12, 2013 - North American
English Dialects Map
How English is spoken in North America. On this amazing webpage by Rick
Aschmann, you can zoom in on the large-scale dialect map & click on
a U.S. state or Canadian province to listen to audio or video dialect samples for
each location: http://aschmann.net/AmEng/
11, 2013 - Blessing or curse – You get to decide
Once there was an old man who lived in a tiny village. Although poor,
he was envied by all, because he owned a beautiful white horse. People
offered fabulous prices for the horse, but the old man always refused.
“This horse is a friend, not a possession,” he would respond.
One morning the horse was not in the stable. All the villagers said,
“You old fool. We told you someone would steal that beautiful horse.
You could at least have gotten the money. Now the horse is gone, and
you’ve been cursed with misfortune.”
The old man responded, “Perhaps. All I know is that my horse is gone;
the rest I do not know. Whether it be a curse or a blessing, I can’t
After 15 days the horse returned. He hadn’t been stolen; he had run
away into the forest. Not only had he returned, he had brought a dozen
wild horses back with him. Once again the village people gathered
around the old man and said, “You were right – what we thought was a
curse was a blessing. Please forgive us.”
The old man responded, “Perhaps. Once again you’ve gone too far. How do
you know if this is a blessing or a curse? Unless you can see the whole
story, how can you judge?” But the people could only see the obvious.
The old man now had twelve additional horses that could be broken and
sold for a great deal of money.
The old man had a son, an only son. He began to work with the wild
horses. Unfortunately, after just a few days, he fell from a horse and
broke both his legs. Once again the villagers gathered around the old
man and said, “You were right. The wild horses were not a blessing;
they were a curse. Your only son has broken his legs and now in your
old age you have no one to help you. You are poorer than ever.” But the
old man said,“ Perhaps. Don’t go so far. Say only that my son broke his
legs. We have only a fragment of the whole story.”
It so happened that a few weeks later the country went to war with a
neighboring country. All the young men of the village were required to
join the army. Only the son of the old man was excluded, because he had
two broken legs. Once again the people gathered around, crying because
there was little chance their sons would return. “You were right, old
man. Your son’s accident was a blessing. Our sons are gone forever.”
The old man spoke again. “You people are always quick to jump to
conclusions. Only God knows the final story.”
An absolutely magnificent Children's Day, a Japanese national holiday,
in Kasai Rinkai Park, overlooking Tokyo Bay...
May 4, 2013 - Spring has
sprung in Tokyo...
April 28, 2013 - So long sun,
The 6:11 pm sunset & 9:27 pm moonrise in Tokyo, on what was
probably the most beautiful day so far this year (and yesterday was
just as nice).....high temp around 20 C (68 F), not a cloud in the sky,
and humidity less than 30% most of the day. What a great way to kick
off Golden Week...
April 28, 2013 sunset & moonrise in Tokyo
2013 - The new
Shimokitazawa Station (下北沢駅) goes underground
any longtime or former residents of Tokyo, or tourists who've ever
visited the trendy Shimokitazawa (下北沢) area, they're sure to be
surprised, as I certainly was yesterday, to see that the Odakyu train
line (小田急電鉄), which has LONG been aboveground, is now a subway section
as it passes thru Shimokitazawa Station (下北沢駅).
With its laid-back atmosphere and unique fashion, Shimokitazawa is
usually considered to be one of Tokyo's hippest neighborhoods among
young Japanese. The district is a center for stage theater and live
music venues, and with its numerous cafes, boutiques, & funky
shops, Shimokitazawa is especially popular with students and young
people, and a mecca for artists of all genres.
This amazing pic from the summit of Mt. Fuji was taken by Dr. David
Wallace, an internationally-touring musician, a Grammy-nominated
performer, an award-winning composer, a Juilliard professor, a New York
Philharmonic Senior Teaching Artist, and fiddler of The Doc Wallace
Trio. After an unsuccessful attempt in 2009, Dr. Wallace managed to
scale Japan's highest peak on Aug. 20 of last year. Read his many
helpful hints on climbing Mt. Fuji & view more stunning pics, as
well as his breathtaking video, with his own electric viola as the
background music, here.
2013 - My all-time favorite Japanese food --- negima yakitori
yakitori (焼鳥) is bite-sized chicken pieces (sometimes beef or pork)
grilled on a wooden or bamboo skewer. "Yaki (焼)" in Japanese means
grilled or roasted & "tori (鳥)" means bird or chicken.
Negima (ねぎま) means pieces of onion are inserted between the
chicken....so it's chicken, onion, chicken, onion, chicken.
It reminds me of my dad's famous Texas BBQ, so I have some negima
yakitori at least once a week. Usually they sell for around 100 yen per
stick, or a little over US$1.
Before coming to Japan, I'd never even heard of the nighttime
light-up of flowers, but now it's fair to say I'm thoroughly hooked.
This is the 2nd consecutive day I've been to Chidorigafuchi. I'm in
LOVE with Japanese cherry blossoms!
(View all pics at a glance in separate window here.)
If you should ever have any interest in visiting the beautiful South
Pacific island nation of Fiji, you might enjoy reading my day-by-day
account of the magical 6 days I spent there last month, including my
pics, video, & map. I was very touched by the unbelievable
hospitality of the wonderful Fijian people! To read more, click here: Fiji Travel
23, 2013 - My Fiji vacation video (Feb. 13-20)
the amazing fish (and sharks) I saw snorkeling (too bad I don't have an
underwater camera), the prettiest place I saw in Fiji was Natadola
Beach, especially in front of the Intercontinental Resort. But by far
the most touching experience was the South Sea Island performers. The
C3 Church was pretty cool too. Enjoy!
0:00 Singapore Air in-flight airshow -
Singapore to Auckland, NZ flight
2:10 Air New Zealand in-flight airshow -
Auckland, NZ to Nadi, Fiji flight
7:07 Musical Fijian welcome @ the Nadi,
7:26 Fiji flag
7:49 Wailoaloa Beach Resort Fiji
8:18 Fijian dancers @ the Sitar Indian
restaurant - Dance 1
10:06 Fijian dancers @ the Sitar Indian restaurant -
12:42 Fijian dancers @ the Sitar Indian restaurant -
17:00 Fijian dancers @ the Sitar Indian restaurant -
20:16 Kava ceremony & Fiji cultural presentation
27:14 Riding on a highway bus to Natadola Beach
27:49 Natadola Beach
28:11 Intercontinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa,
29:12 Riding on the highway from Natadola Beach back
to Nadi Town
29:34 C3 Christian City Church Nadi
31:40 The Denarau Golf Club
32:47 Port Denarau Marina
34:09 Port Denarau passenger terminal
34:24 Boat cruise to South Sea Island
37:29 Welcome greetings @ South Sea Island
40:00 South Sea Island lunch buffet
40:23 South Sea Island Fijian song & dance
52:20 South Sea Island Coral Explorer
55:07 South Sea Island snorkeling boat
55:18 Return boat cruise from South Sea Island back
to Port Denarau
59:22 Fresh chilled coconut juice
1:00:10 Does water drain clockwise or counter-clockwise in the
Southern Hemisphere? THAT is the question.
1:01:04 Japanese high school boys in the Auckland airport wait
for our flight to return back home to Ibaraki Prefecture from their
10-day excursion to New Zealand
1:01:20 Beautiful cumulus cloud we passed en route back to Japan
(1) "Bula" in the Fijian language means "hello" or "welcome."
(2) Kava is a native drink made from a root with sedative and
anesthetic properties which is consumed throughout Polynesia.
22, 2013 - My Fiji
vacation pics (Feb. 13-20)
Just finished uploading my vacation pics of Fiji, a blessed nation of
333 sun-bathed islands in the tropical South Pacific. It's no
wonder that Tom Hanks' "Cast Away" and Brooke Shields' "The Blue
Lagoon" were filmed here.
According to Masaki Kimura, a professor emeritus at Ryukyu University,
signs are pointing to an imminent Mt. Fuji eruption by 2015. He says
the volcano should have erupted during the 2011 Great East Japan
Earthquake, but there is a usual 4-year margin of error, which should
run out by 2015. The eruption could force some 567,000 people to
evacuate their homes, and has caused the Shizuoka Prefectural
Government to develop a new evacuation plan.
Also, the experts monitoring the activity of the volcano say its “magma
chamber pressure” had risen to 1.6 megapascals. This is higher than the
chamber pressure that preceded its last eruption more than 300 years
ago in 1707, which was triggered by a massive earthquake near Osaka a
month before. Kimura also says that magma is rising from beneath Mt.
Fuji and cracks in the crust have been increasing.
Other signs to its impending eruption are the rising water level of
nearby Lake Saiko (西湖, one of the Fuji Five Lakes), numerous steam
explosions, and the increasing number of volcanic earthquakes. In 2012,
a huge fault line measuring 21 miles was discovered beneath Mt. Fuji
and an earthquake along that fault line could actually cause the
volcano to collapse entirely. An increased number of small quakes
within a 30-km radius and underneath Mt. Fuji have been recorded during
the past several weeks.
Quakes near Mt. Fuji in Jan. 2013
(photo courtesy: Volcanodiscovery.com)
2013 - Texas Burger
goes on sale in Japan
McDonald's Japan kicked off this year's Big America campaign. First up,
and back by popular demand, is the Texas Burger which serves up the
wild west taste of Texas, complete with a juicy 1/4-pound all-beef
patty sandwiched between 3 baked buns, mustard relish, spicy barbecue
sauce, fried onions, fried crispy bacon, and cheese. Yes.....been
there, done that. It was totally DELISH (they couldn't keep this
Texican away)! On deck is the Idaho Burger, scheduled to go on sale at
the end of this month when the Texas Burger will be phased out (Oh, and
don't miss the yum-yum BBQ french fries!). More info here: http://www.mcdonalds.co.jp/
McDonald's Japan Texas Burger
23, 2013 - Cultural Presentation Day
exchange university students in Japan make cultural comparisons between
various countries in areas like job recruitment, dating & marriage,
food, festivals, and what it's like to be a science student.
0:00 Job Recruitment - Mexico & Japan
9:14 Family Values & Wedding Traditions - Russia,
Egypt, & India
22:02 Life of a Science Student - Estonia vs. Japan
34:02 Dating & Food - Japan & China
43:47 Cross Culture - Biggest Celebration Day - Japan, Indonesia,
56:21 Splendid Festivals in China & Japan
Jan. 14, 2013 - Tokyo
For the 1st 13 days of the New Year, Tokyo had been blessed with clear,
sunny days and zero precip...albeit a tad COLD. But today it started
raining around 4 am, the rain then turned to snow, and now we have a
winter wonderland, our first snowfall of the season.
As of 2 pm, Tokyo had received 7 cm (2.8") of snow & Yokohama had
received 13 cm (5.1"), the most since 2001. In neighboring Yamanashi
Prefecture, they received 42 cm (16.5"). So far, 267 injuries had been
recorded in the Kanto region, 862 flights had been cancelled at Tokyo
Haneda Airport, and the Japanese capital's transport had virtually
ground to a halt, with the Sobu, Chuo, & Saikyo Line service
The winter storm couldn't have come at a worse time, on Coming-of-Age
Day, a national holiday when over a million 20-year-old Japanese today
attempted to participate in ceremonies across the country to celebrate
reaching adulthood. The TV evening news showed scenes of gorgeous young
women in kimonos out on the street trying to push cars that had become
stuck in the snow. (http://youtu.be/ZM_PyEvKiNI)
We remained under a winter snow warning till 11 pm...
2013 - God wants us to become obsessively preoccupied with each other's
is only one way to obtain money in an honest and transparent
environment, and that is to serve God's other children. We've got to
absorb into our mindset that we don't chase the money, but we chase
opportunities to serve other people. Chasing the money turns us into a
venal person that radiates desperation from every pore, but being
desirous of serving other people is all you have to do. Because if you
serve enough people, you'll get more than enough money....the money
will flow automatically.
Does God want us to be rich? I don't really know, because he hasn't
confided in me to that extent. But I do know he wants us to be
obsessively preoccupied with supplying the needs and wants and desires
of his other children. I think money is holy….I really do, because it's
proof that I have served in some way one of God's other children.
That's how money got into my bank account or got into my hand or my
pocket....ONLY because I pleased another human being. No other way."
2013 - McDonald's
Japan's New 60-Second Campaign
Until Jan. 31 between the hours of 11 am till 2 pm, receive your Mickey
D's order in less than 60 seconds or get a free burger. They even have
a 1-minute hourglass on the counter to prove it. I received my juicy
chicken filet set in a remarkable 25 seconds! Wow, you just gotta LOVE
More details here.
8, 2013 - Discover a new
you in the New Year.
Of the Top 10 World's Greatest Hotel Spas as rated by
remarkable THREE of them are in Mexico, with the "Esperanza - An
Auberge Resort" in Cabo San Lucas taking the top spot. Which one will
YOU visit this year?
Esperanza - An Auberge Resort in Cabo San Lucas,
(Photo courtesy: TripAdvisor)
1, 2013 - 2013 Hatsuhinode (初日の出) First Sunrise of the Year viewing
party with my new izakaya buddies
is a Japanese tradition to view the Hatsuhinode (初日の出), the first
sunrise of the New Year. Before sunrise on January 1, many people will
drive to the coast, climb a mountain, or go to the top of a tall
building or structure, like the Tokyo Sky Tree or Tokyo Tower, to view
it. The Tokyo Sky Tree & Tokyo Tower were already fully booked this
year by Hatsuhinode viewers, and I didn't want to go to the trouble of
heading to the coast or climbing a peak, so I just settled for the top
of a nearby 7-story condo...