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Gary J. Wolff's Blog

Gary J. Wolff's blog is my mini-journal about GaryJWolff.com. It...

  •  lets you know whenever any new pages are added to GaryJWolff.com
  •  allows me to periodically share some interesting stuff about Japanese culture  
  •  keeps you up-to-date on any other postings or news regarding GaryJWolff.com


Enjoy...

Cheers, 
Gary


Recent website updates (at bottom of the page)
Feel free to share your comments below.





Dec. 4, 2016 - Because we all need a bit of light at the end of the 2016 tunnel

The Caretta Shiodome Illumination event is now in its 14th season, and is by far my favorite place to view holiday illuminations in Tokyo. The 2016 Caretta Shiodome Illumination program, under the theme of “Forest of Spirits,” features approximately 250,000 LEDs & will be held daily from 5-11 pm, with the 8-minute shows starting every 20 minutes.

And believe it or not, this year's program, which started on Nov. 17th, goes until Valentine's Day, February 14th, 2017. It's an absolutely amazing display, so if you're anywhere near the Shimbashi Station area after dark, be sure to have a look!

When: November 17, 2016 – February 14, 2017, 5-11 pm
Where: Caretta Shiodome, 4-min. walk from Shimbashi Station
More information: http://www.caretta.jp/Illumination2016/ (Japanese)
Access map: http://www.caretta.jp/access/index


Caretta Shiodome 2016 Illumination
Caretta Shiodome 2016 Illumination
(Photo credit: caretta.jp)




Nov. 27, 2016 - George Strait's been "Kicked Outta Country"

Texan country singer George Strait, one of the most influential and popular recording artists of all time, has hit back at modern radio stations which no longer play his songs, by recording on his new album with fellow singer-songwriter, Jamey Johnson, a new song called "Kicked Outta Country."

In the song's lyrics, shown beautifully in the video below, Strait mentions that other famous country singers before him were also kicked outta country.... George Jones, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and even Johnny Cash.

Strait holds the record for the most #1 albums and singles, gold albums, platinum albums, and multi-platinum in the history of country music, and is 11th in the most #1 albums in all other genres. Strait is 3rd only to Elvis Presley and The Beatles with the most gold and platinum albums in the history of music.



(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)




Nov. 22, 2016 - November 22, 1963.... a historic day in America AND Japan

Fifty-three years ago today was a tragic day in U.S. history, when America's 35th president, John F. Kennedy, was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. As it turned out, that day became historic in Japan as well. The shocking news of President Kennedy's assassination (on November 23, Japan Time) reached the Japanese people via the first-ever, live U.S.-Japan satellite telecast, carried out by The Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK, 日本放送協会) using the Relay 1 satellite.

JFK assassination
News of John F. Kennedy's assassination arrived in Japan via the first-ever trans-Pacific satellite TV relay.
(Image credit: nhk.or.jp)




Nov. 15, 2016 - Tree huggers rule in Japan! smiley

As a former traffic safety engineer in the states, I almost had a heart attack when I saw this tree in the road on the campus of Tamagawa University in southwest Tokyo last June while attending a language teacher's conference.

Because of serious liability issues, this sort of thing would likely never occur in the states, but you gotta give credit to the environmentalists who somehow got away with THIS decision. Only in Japan! smiley

Tree in the road
Tree in the road, Tamagawa University, Tokyo, Japan




Nov. 12, 2016 - The FarmBot Genesis automated farming machine

FarmBot Genesis is the world's first 100% open-source farming machine designed for at-home automated food production that allows users to graphically design their own farm by dragging and dropping plants into locations of their choosing. Plants are then automatically spaced, and seed planting, watering, and weeding operations are handled automatically.

FarmBot Inc. is a San Luis Obispo-based California Benefit Corporation which openly shares its public domain crop and growing information, including all of the CAD and manufacturing files, hardware designs, software source code, step-by-step assembly instructions, and tech specs for every part. It is also the company's mission to contribute one percent (1%) of its annual net revenue back to help grow the open-source farming community.

Since their July launch, FarmBot has already received over $1,000,000 in pre-order sales and will start shipping in February 2017 in time for the Spring growing season.



(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)




Nov. 3, 2016 - Quizlet Live: The Classroom Game Now Taking the World by Storm

"Smartphones consume a large part of university students’ time, but are used primarily as tools for social networking and gaming. Therefore, smartphones can become a distraction, especially with the introduction of exciting new apps like Pokemon GO. However, students can be introduced to educational apps and shown how more productive use of their smartphones can help improve their academic studies (Cochrane, 2015).

By now, most teachers have already heard of or used Quizlet, the popular online education platform introduced in 2007. It was recognized by SimilarWeb (2016) as the fastest growing U.S. education site in 2015, with over 36 million average monthly visits..."

Read more of this academic article which appears in the November/December 2016 issue of The Language Teacher journal, published by the Japan Association for Language Teaching (JALT).




Oct. 30, 2016 - Burger King Japan's Pumpkin Burger

A pumpkin burger?!! What will Burger King Japan think of next? And right in time for Halloween... smiley

Burger King Japan's Pumpkin Burger
Burger King Japan's Pumpkin Burger




Oct. 29, 2016 - Artwork by Yoshimizu Koike

Happy Halloween from Mr. Yoshimizu Koike, one of my favorite Japanese artists. Click the link above to see more of his paintings and sketches, including "Celebrate Christmas 2008," sketches of Kawagoe and Ochanomizu in Japan, as well as a number of Cairns, Australia.

Halloween 2010 by Yoshimizu Koike
"Happy Halloween 2010"




Oct. 23, 2016 - This Turbine Works 24/7 To Create Water Out Of Thin Air

Throughout the world today, 1 in 3 people do not have the daily minimum of 7.1 cups of water needed to survive. Worldwide, a child dies every 90 seconds for lack of clean drinking water, nearly 1000 a day. And almost 10,000 people die every day from dehydration and waterborne disease.

The original WaterSeer™ model was tested as a prototype at the UC Berkeley Gill Tract Farm in April 2016. Results were excellent and of the several variations tested, all exceeded water production goals. One model stood out above all others, generating up to 11 gallons (~41 liters) from a 9-square-feet (~1 sq. meter) condensation surface.

The current model was finalized in August 2016 and will be field tested in coordination with the National Peace Corps Association once the Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign is complete. Your contributions will help them test and finalize the design so they can move forward!



(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)




Oct. 17, 2016 - Danny MacAskill’s Wee Day Out

The world-renowned Scottish stunt cyclist explores the stunning beauty of the rural landscape around Edinburgh, Scotland in this film that sets out to capture the simple fun of a ride in the countryside with moments of incredible riding and a touch of humor. Danny pulls off never-seen-before tricks, most of which would normally be assumed impossible on a mountain bike, like leaping onto a single train track, turning a hay bale into a giant unicycle, riding over a cottage, and disappearing into a 6-ft. puddle. WOW!



(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)




Oct. 15, 2016 -  Tokyo KFC's Colonel Sanders in his Halloween costume

Colonel Sanders gets into the Halloween spirit in Shibuya, Tokyo... smiley

Colonel Sanders in his Halloween costume in Tokyo
Colonel Sanders in his Halloween costume in Shibuya, Tokyo




Oct. 9, 2016 - Merry Halloween!!

One cannot help but admire the brilliance of Japanese creativity.... in this case, celebrating the Halloween season with a sneak preview of Xmas. smiley

Merry Halloween
Merry Halloween!!




Oct. 6, 2016 - THEY WALK AMONG US!!

I used to work in technical support for a 24/7 call center. One day I got a call from an individual who asked what hours the call center was open. I told him, "The number you dialed is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week." He responded, "Is that Eastern or Pacific time?"

I couldn’t find my luggage in the airport baggage area and went to the lost luggage office and reported the loss. The woman there smiled and told me not to worry because she was a trained professional and said I was in good hands. "Now," she asked me, "Has your plane arrived yet?"

A man was driving when he saw the flash of a traffic camera. He figured that his picture had been taken for exceeding the speed limit, even though he knew that he was not speeding. Just to be sure, he went around the block and passed the same spot, driving even more slowly, but again the camera flashed. Now he began to think that this was quite funny, so he drove even slower as he passed the area again, but the traffic camera again flashed. He tried a 4th time with the same result. He did this a 5th time and was now laughing when the camera flashed as he rolled past, this time at a snail's pace. Two weeks later, he got 5 tickets in the mail for driving without a seat belt.

My friends and I were on a beer run and noticed that the cases were discounted 10%. Since it was a big party, we bought 2 cases. The cashier multiplied 2 times 10% and gave us a 20% discount.

While looking at a house, my brother asked the real estate agent which direction was North because he didn’t want the sun waking him up every morning. She asked, "Does the sun rise in the North?" My brother explained that the sun rises in the East and has for some time. She shook her head and said, "Oh, I don’t keep up with all that stuff."

My sister has a lifesaving tool in her car which is designed to cut through a seat belt if she gets trapped. She keeps it in the car trunk.

While working at a pizza parlor I observed a man ordering a small pizza to go. He appeared to be alone and the cook asked him if he would like it cut into 4 or 6 pieces. He thought about it and said, "Just 4 pieces. I don’t think I'm hungry enough to eat 6 pieces."

One day I was walking down the beach with some friends when someone shouted, "Look at that dead bird!" Someone else looked up at the sky and said, "Where?"

I walked into a Starbucks with a buy-one-get-one-free coupon for a Grande Latte. I handed it to the girl and she looked over at a little chalkboard that said "buy one, get one free." She said, "They're already buy-one-get-one-free, so I guess they're both free." She handed me my free lattes and I walked out the door.

My colleague and I were eating lunch in our cafeteria when we overheard an admin girl talking about the sunburn she got on her weekend drive to the beach. She drove down in a convertible, but said she "didn’t think she’d get sunburned because the car was moving."

I stopped at McDonald’s and ordered some fries. The girl behind the counter asked, "Would you like some fries with that?"

Yes, they do INDEED.....walk among us. smiley




Sept. 24, 2016 - Video of GW's 2016 Wild West Road Trip


GW's 2016 Wild West Road Trip
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)

 0:00 Smokey Bear Historical Park museum, Capitan, New Mexico
 1:13 Headwaters of the Pecos River, Cowles, New Mexico
 1:48 Runners receiving cheers after Pikes Peak Ascent, Manitou Springs, Colorado
 2:38 Tom preparing BBQ Mexican tacos
 3:24 Wind turbines in southeast Wyoming
 3:57 Horse-drawn stagecoach in Jackson, Wyoming
 4:21 Eruption of Old Faithful geyser, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
 8:04 Inside Lake Yellowstone Hotel lobby, Yellowstone National Park
 8:28 Mud Volcano, Yellowstone National Park
 9:17 Lower Falls (from Artist Point), Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
 9:39 BIG buffalo walking down the highway, Yellowstone National Park
10:27 Upper Falls, viewed from Uncle Tom's Parking Area, Yellowstone National Park
11:08 Brink of the Lower Falls, Yellowstone National Park
12:54 Glacier Park Lodge, E. Glacier, Montana
13:33 Mountain stream on Highline Trail, Glacier National Park
14:11 Aster Falls, Two Medicine Lake, Glacier National Park
14:52 Grizzly bear sow with her 2 cubs, Hwy. 2, just west of E. Glacier
15:38 Musician Benjamin from Austin, performing in Glacier Park Lodge
18:28 Amtrak train, departing eastbound from West Glacier railroad depot
19:37 Gödöllő, Hungary sub-camp of Area 3 during the 1967 Boy Scout World Jamboree, Farragut State Park, Idaho
20:06 Flock of wild turkeys near Scott Field in Farragut State Park
21:23 Ranger Lisa leading the Fiery Furnace Tour in Arches National Park, Utah
22:06 Grand View Point Overlook, Island in the Sky district, Canyonlands National Park, Utah
22:33 Horseshoe Bend Overlook, Colorado River, Glen Canyon, Arizona
23:54 Wahweap Overlook, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Hwy. 89 north of Glen Canyon Dam, Arizona
24:32 Ranger Rachel leading the 8:30 am Nature Walk near the Grand Canyon North Rim Visitor Center, Arizona
25:50 Texaz Grill steakhouse, Phoenix, Arizona
26:35 Max's Sports Bar, Glendale, Arizona
27:10 Phoenix Texas Exes, Football Game Watch Party vs. Notre Dame, Thirsty Lion Sports Bar, Tempe, Arizona
30:39 Piestewa Peak hiking trail, Phoenix, Arizona
32:24 Valley Metro light rail train station, N. 19th Ave. @ W. Northern Avenue, Phoenix, Arizona
33:19 Live country music band & children's slide, Rustler's Rooste, South Mountain, Phoenix
34:12 Entrance ramp meter traffic lights, southbound I-17, Phoenix
34:26 Interpretive trail signs, Picacho Peak State Park, Arizona
35:56 Saguaro National Park, Tucson, Arizona
36:51 Brian entertaining us with his guitar
39:08 New Mexico landscape panorama
39:26 Highlights from the 263-acre Windlinger Ranch in the beautiful Texas hill country




Sept. 18, 2016 - GW's 2016 Wild West Road Trip

It was an absolutely amazing trip...28 days, nearly 7700 miles, 8 states, 10 national parks, and an uncountable number of national forests... connecting with my past & visiting places thru the years where I've lived, worked, and camped out as a Boy Scout.

I hope you enjoy my nearly 800 pics @ Flickr. Cheers!

Arches National Park
Arches National Park, Utah
GW's 2016 Wild West Road Trip
Aug. 15 - Sept. 11, 2016




Aug. 4, 2016 - YOU KNOW YOU'RE IN TEXAS IN AUGUST WHEN...

  • Trees are whistling for dogs.
  • The best parking place is determined by shade instead of distance. 
  • Hot water now comes out of both taps.
  • You learn that a seat belt buckle makes a pretty good branding iron.
  • You discover that it only takes 2 fingers to steer your car.
  • You break into a sweat the instant you step outside at 7:30 a.m. 
  • Ah, what a place to call home.
  • God bless the great State of Texas!



July 31, 2016 - In Loving Memory of Don Davis

Three years ago today our wonderful, longtime American friend went to be with the Lord at the ripe young age of only 60, after fighting a brief illness in a Tokyo hospital. Don was one of the most gracious human beings one could ever know, and was a longtime entertainer for young Japanese children in English education stage shows conducted in public halls all over Japan.

I finally got around to building a memorial page for him. Click link to read more of his story, see some pics, and view a short video: In Loving Memory of Don Davis

 
Don Davis collage
In Loving Memory of Don Davis
June 2, 1953 - July 31, 2013




July 27, 2016 - At last! The solution.

At last! The solution.
"Do you mind if I strap your phone to my forehead so I can pretend you're looking at me when I talk?"




July 25, 2016 - あぶない (danger)!!

Don't go in the sea or you will be swallowed by a giant wave (or a whale) (or a great white shark)!! smiley

Don't go in the sea
あぶない (danger)!! Don't go in the sea.




July 17, 2016 - The "What’s New? Line Game"

In my quarter-century of teaching Japanese learners of English in Tokyo, one of the most popular activities in my university classes has been a warm-up exercise at the beginning of class called "What's New?".

The What's New? Line Game is a 5-10 minute warm-up exercise conducted at the beginning of class where students line up in 2 lines at the front of the classroom, giving them a chance to discuss with up to half of their classmates anything of interest in their lives since the last class.

Students enjoy this very relaxed and motivating method...

Read more at: The "What's New? Line Game"




July 15, 2016 - Target bird golf (ターゲットバードゴルフ) tournament

Ever heard of target bird golf? Well, neither had I until I made this video a few years ago. But it looks like a LOT of fun, using a badminton shuttlecock as the "ball." Only in Japan! smiley



Target bird golf (ターゲットバードゴルフ) tournament
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)




July 9, 2016 - It's Mt. Fuji climbing season!!

The official 72-day Mt. Fuji climbing season officially began last Friday on July 1st, with the opening of the main Yoshida Trail from Yamanashi Prefecture.

This route serves Tokyo & most foreign tourists and accounts for about 60% of the total Mt. Fuji climber traffic. The other 3 trails from Shizuoka Prefecture are scheduled to open tomorrow morning @ 9 am, and all 4 trails will close on Sat. Sept. 10.

Mt. Fuji at sunrise
Mt. Fuji at sunrise, taken from Kitadake-sanso, Aug. 14, 2011


If you're planning to climb Mt. Fuji, you'll definitely wanna check out my Climbing Mt. Fuji FAQ page. Four years ago it became the most visited page on my entire site, and as gracious site visitors have populated it with more & more of their stories & inquiries, it became so LONG last year that I had to break it down into 2 separate pages.

So far this month these 2 pages are receiving nearly 800 page views per day. Hoo wah!! Let's climb Fuji-san!

"If you come to Japan and don't climb Mt. Fuji, you're a fool; but if you climb it more than once, you're an even BIGGER fool."   smiley

--old Japanese proverb, especially tailored for gaijin--




July 6, 2016 - Japanese post office drop box with thatched roof

I spotted this on my way to work this morning. Never a dull moment in Japan! smiley


thatched roof Japanese post office drop box
Japanese post office drop box with thatched roof








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Website Updates

Dec 05, 2016

Can I stroll around the Mt. Fuji base in April?

Can I do an easy stroll around Mt. Fuji's base in April? Is it possible to join a group and do a small trek around the base of Mt. Fuji? I don't have to

Continue reading "Can I stroll around the Mt. Fuji base in April? "

Dec 04, 2016

Because we all need a bit of light at the end of the 2016 tunnel

The Caretta Shiodome Illumination event is now in its 14th season, and is by far my favorite place to view holiday illuminations in Tokyo. The 2016 Caretta Shiodome Illumination program, under the theme of “Forest of Spirits,” features approximately 250,000 LEDs & will be held daily from 5-11 pm, with the 8-minute shows starting every 20 minutes...

Continue reading "Because we all need a bit of light at the end of the 2016 tunnel"

Dec 03, 2016

Gary J. Wolff's Blog

Gary J. Wolff's blog keeps you up-to-date with my everyday life in Japan, as well as recent additions/changes to the GaryJWolff.com website.

Continue reading "Gary J. Wolff's Blog"

Nov 29, 2016

Climbing Mt. Fuji - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), Page 2

Page 2 of the most frequently asked questions about climbing Mt. Fuji, including info on routes, maps, videos, transport access, weather, and climber stories.

Continue reading "Climbing Mt. Fuji - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), Page 2"

Nov 29, 2016

Japan Links

A short list of links to some of the more noteworthy Japanese websites I've bookmarked thru my many years of residing in this phenomenal country.

Continue reading "Japan Links"

Nov 27, 2016

George Strait's been "Kicked Outta Country"

Texan country singer George Strait, one of the most influential and popular recording artists of all time, has hit back at modern radio stations which no longer play his songs, by recording on his new album with fellow singer-songwriter, Jamey Johnson, a new song called "Kicked Outta Country."

In the song's lyrics, shown beautifully in the video below, Strait mentions that other famous country singers before him...

Continue reading "George Strait's been "Kicked Outta Country""

Nov 22, 2016

November 22, 1963.... a historic day in America AND Japan

Fifty-three years ago today was a tragic day in U.S. history, when America's 35th president, John F. Kennedy, was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. As it turned out, that day became historic in Japan as well. The shocking news of President Kennedy's assassination (on November 23, Japan Time) reached the Japanese people via the first-ever, live U.S.-Japan satellite telecast, carried out by The Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK, 日本放送協会) using the Relay 1 satellite.

Continue reading "November 22, 1963.... a historic day in America AND Japan"

Nov 18, 2016

Gyotoku Bird Observatory (行徳野鳥観察舎)

The Gyotoku Bird Observatory is a 56-hectare natural habitat for aquatic birds in Ichikawa, Chiba, and a great place to escape Tokyo's concrete jungle.

Continue reading "Gyotoku Bird Observatory (行徳野鳥観察舎)"

Nov 18, 2016

Gary J. Wolff's Blog Archives, January-March, 2016

Posts include Tokyo Metro's Mega Solar project, a paraglider flight thru Norway’s Northern Lights, and a video interview with ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons.

Continue reading "Gary J. Wolff's Blog Archives, January-March, 2016"

Nov 18, 2016

Mt. Kita-dake (北岳), elev. 3193m, Japan's 2nd Highest Mountain

Pics, maps, and trail description of my Oct. 1993 hike to the top of the easily accessible Mt. Kita-dake, elev. 3193m, Japan's 2nd highest mountain.

Continue reading "Mt. Kita-dake (北岳), elev. 3193m, Japan's 2nd Highest Mountain"

Nov 18, 2016

Mt. Notori-dake (農鳥岳) and the Shiranesanzan (白根三山)

Pics, maps, and trail description of my Aug. 2011 climb of Mt. Notori-dake and the Shiranesanzan in the Southern Japan Alps.

Continue reading "Mt. Notori-dake (農鳥岳) and the Shiranesanzan (白根三山)"

Nov 18, 2016

Mt. Ai-no-dake (間ノ岳) and Mt. Shiomi-dake (塩見岳), Japan's 4th & 16th Highest Mountains

Pics, maps, and trail description of my Sept. 1996 climb of Mt. Ai-no-dake (3189m) and Mt. Shiomi-dake, 3047m, Japan's 4th & 16th highest mountains.

Continue reading "Mt. Ai-no-dake (間ノ岳) and Mt. Shiomi-dake (塩見岳), Japan's 4th & 16th Highest Mountains"

Nov 18, 2016

Mt. Senjo-ga-take (仙丈ヶ岳) and Mt. Kai-koma-ga-dake (甲斐駒ヶ岳), Japan's 18th & 24th highest peaks

Pics, maps, and trail description of my Aug. 1997 climb of Mt. Senjo-ga-take and Mt. Kai-koma-ga-dake in the Southern Japan Alps.

Continue reading "Mt. Senjo-ga-take (仙丈ヶ岳) and Mt. Kai-koma-ga-dake (甲斐駒ヶ岳), Japan's 18th & 24th highest peaks"

Nov 15, 2016

Tree huggers rule in Japan! :-)

As a former traffic safety engineer in the states, I almost had a heart attack when I saw this tree in the road on the campus of Tamagawa University in southwest Tokyo last June while attending a language teacher's conference....

Click link to read more and to see pic of tree in the road...

Continue reading "Tree huggers rule in Japan! :-)"

Nov 11, 2016

The FarmBot Genesis automated farming machine

FarmBot Genesis is the world's first 100% open-source farming machine designed for at-home automated food production that allows users to graphically design their own farm by dragging and dropping plants into locations of their choosing. Plants are then automatically spaced, and seed planting, watering, and weeding operations are handled automatically...

Click link to learn more & to view video...

Continue reading "The FarmBot Genesis automated farming machine"








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