13, 2012 - World's Largest McDonald's in London, England
The world's largest McDonald's at the 2012 London Olympic games
starting next month is 3,000 square-meters large (that's about 32,300
square feet) and about half the length of a football field. It'll be
staffed by 2,000 people, who are estimated to serve more than 50,000
Big Macs and 180,000 servings of French fries during the 6-week event.
And there'll be seating for 1,500 at a time. I have my own name for it:
2012 - 31st Annual Koiwa Iris Garden Festival (第31回小岩菖蒲園まつり), June
View all pics at a glance in separate window here.
2012 - Japanese university ESS (English Speaking Society) speech
On May 20, 2012 I was honored to be a judge in this Japanese university
ESS (English Speaking Society) speech contest.
View all pics at a glance in separate window here.
2012 - Japanese apple vending machine
Even after 2 decades, one of the joys of living in Japan are the
pleasant surprises that pop up unexpectedly on occasion. Today's
surprise was discovering a subway platform vending machine offering
fresh, sliced Fuji apples from Aomori Prefecture, the #1 apple growing
region in Japan. The 80g (2.8 oz) packs, with or without skins, sell
for 190 yen ($2.40).
Japanese apple vending machine
2012 - Satomi Koen
Rose Festival (里見公園ローズ祭り)
2012 - Annular Solar Eclipse Live Broadcast, Mt. Fuji, Japan, 7:30 am,
Mon. May 21, 2012
FILMING THE SUN, USING THE SUN: Early morning on May 21,
experienced its first annular solar eclipse in 25 years. Panasonic
broadcast the solar eclipse live from the top of Mt. Fuji at 3,776
meters high, a symbol of Japan and the closest spot to the sun in the
country. All equipment used for this live broadcast was powered
completely by solar energy. A climbing expedition scaled the mountain,
shouldering high-capacity rechargeable batteries. The annular solar
eclipse was filmed and broadcast to the world using power from the sun.
An epic project that joins the forces of the sun and humankind.
Although it was cloudy atop Fuji-san, here are some screenshots from
Panasonic's live streaming broadcast from Wakayama Prefecture:
(View all pics at a glance in separate window here.)
18, 2012 - Today's Hailstorm in Western Tokyo
Today while eating my juicy chicken filet-o sandwich
new menu item @ Mickey D (マクドナルド) starting today), I suddenly started
hearing thunder and then it started raining so hard, I could see
thru the windows that large green leaves were being completed stripped
off the trees. I thought, "My, THAT'S strange." Well, it wasn't until
after I left the restaurant that I noticed all the patches of hail
accumulated in such quantities that, as you can see in the pics, it
looked like it had snowed. In Texas we sometimes have softball-size
hail that damages rooftops, cars, and even kills people &
livestock. Scary stuff, especially when you consider that hail
oftentimes accompanies tornadoes. No telling what was happening up
there in the atmosphere today, but I can't help but feel I dodged a
(Click the 3 thumbnails above to view larger images.)
13, 2012 -
NASA's Space Shuttle Columbia (スペースシャトルコロンビア) is found alive and
Just when I thought that all of NASA's space shuttles had been retired,
then while out on my bike the other day, I found Space Shuttle Columbia
parked on the rooftop of a Tokyo kindergarten, disguised as a piece of
children's playground equipment.
Space Shuttle Columbia in Tokyo
- Shaquille O'Neal awarded doctorate
"Too many young kids — particularly black kids — are still dropping
out of school way too early. This country will never compete globally
when nearly one in four kids fails to complete high school on time.
Education matters. It instills self-discipline. It exposes a person to
a world of shared knowledge. It forces us to stay attuned to current
events. And most important, it helps each of us understand how and
where we fit into this world.
If there's one thing I hope people take from this personal milestone,
it's that education matters for your entire life. A degree, whether
high school or doctoral, is not a finish line; it's simply a
mile-marker. My learning will continue. I want others to come along for
--Dr. Shaquille "Shaq" O'Neal, retired 15-time NBA all-star and member
of four championship teams, reflecting on his doctorate in education
degree received on Saturday--
On this day 150 years ago in May 1862,
a Texan saved Mexico from the French and helped create a Mexican
holiday. Born in Texas near Goliad in 1829, General Ignacio Zaragoza
was ordered to defend Mexico from French invaders on May 5, 1862 in
Puebla, near Mexico City. Napoleon III’s army had seized Veracruz and
was on the march. Outnumbered and ill-equipped, Zaragoza defeated the
French in a monumental daylong battle. The French went on to seize
Mexico City, but Zaragoza’s battle on May 5th allowed Mexico to
survive. By 1867 Emperor Maximilian was overthrown and Mexican
independence was restored. THIS WEEK IN TEXAS HISTORY is a 60-second,
weekly radio spot that shines a light on the little-known stories that
made Texas great. It is brought to you by the SAVE TEXAS HISTORY
PROGRAM of the Texas General Land Office.
2012 - Tsunami-swept Harley
in container found in Canada
credit: Peter Mark, AP
A Harley-Davidson motorbike washed
ashore on Graham Island in western Canada. Japanese media say the
motorcycle lost in last year's tsunami washed up on the island about
4,000 miles away. The rusted bike was originally found in a large white
container where its owner, Ikuo Yokoyama, had kept it. Yokoyama, who
lost three members of his family & his home in the March 11,
2011 tsunami & is now living in temporary housing in Miyagi
Prefecture, was located through the license plate number.
The Harley-Davidson company, after hearing the story, has agreed to
ship the bike back to Japan and cover the bill for restoring the
two-wheeler to its past glory.
This heartwarming, true story about a disaster-stricken man being
reunited with his long lost Harley-Davidson has made the rounds on the
Internet and tugged at the heartstrings of Japanese Internet users in
There has been an outpouring of respect and admiration for
Harley-Davidson’s promise, with some readers pointing to it as an
example of “the American way.”
One went so far as to say that this kind of generosity is not possible
in Japan. He wrote: “This is why Harley is so great. Japanese
“monozukuri” companies that assemble by the numbers couldn’t do this.”
Sources: Associated Press, Japan Today
- Japanese windmill house (風車の家)
While out on my mountain bike today, the highlight of the day was to
run across an elderly lady's home adorned by an uncountable number of
handmade windmills (kazaguruma, 風車). As you can see in the video below,
these windmills are
made from aluminum drink cans and PET bottles. According to the nice
lady, making these amazing windmills is her
28, 2012 - Koinobori (鯉幟,
carp streamers) along the Edo River (江戸川) in Tokyo
It's that time of year in Japan again....GOLDEN WEEK!! To celebrate
Children's Day (こどもの日, Kodomo no hi), May 5, one of the 4 national
holidays during this week-long holiday period, "koinobori (鯉幟)," or
carp streamers, are flown around the country in honor of Japanese
children in the hope that they will grow up healthy, strong, &
happy. A few days ago I had the good fortune of capturing on my
digicame these flying
carp along the banks of the Edo River (江戸川) on what was
probably the most beautiful day in Tokyo so far this year.
-The University of Texas at Austin approves tobacco-free campus policy
It's official. The University of Texas at Austin is tobacco-free. The
University of Texas System has approved a tobacco-free campus policy
effective April 9, 2012 which prohibits use of any tobacco products in
university buildings and on university grounds within the state of
Texas, including parking areas, sidewalks, walkways, attached parking
structures, and university owned buildings. Read full article here.
Chrysler unveiled its dragon-themed Jeep Wrangler concept car in
Beijing on Sunday.
- MAXINE'S UNIVERSAL LAWS OF NATURE:
1. Law of Gravity - Any tool, nut, bolt, or screw, when dropped, will
roll to the least accessible corner.
2. Law of Probability - The probability of being watched is directly
proportional to the stupidity of your act.
3. Law of Random Numbers - If you dial a wrong number, you never get a
busy signal and someone always answers.
4. Law of Mechanical Repair - After your hands become coated with
grease, your nose will begin to itch and you'll have to pee.
5. Variation Law - If you change lines (or traffic lanes), the one you
were in will always move faster than the one you are in now (works
6. Law of the Bath - When the body is fully immersed in water, the
7. Law of Close Encounters - The probability of meeting someone you
know increases dramatically when you are with someone you don't want to
be seen with.
8. Law of the Result - When you try to prove to someone that a machine
won't work, it will.
9. Law of Biomechanics - The severity of the itch is inversely
proportional to the reach.
10. Law of the Theater & Hockey Arena - At any event, the
people whose seats are farthest from the aisle, always arrive last.
They are the ones who will leave their seats several times to go for
food, beer, or the toilet and who leave early before the end of the
performance or the game is over. The folks in the aisle seats come
early, never move once, have long gangly legs or big bellies and stay
to the bitter end of the performance. The aisle people also are very
11. The Coffee Law - As soon as you sit down to a cup of hot coffee,
your boss will ask you to do something which will last until the coffee
12. Murphy's Law of Lockers - If there are only 2 people in a locker
room, they will have adjacent lockers.
13. Law of Physical Surfaces - The chances of an open-faced jelly
sandwich landing face down on a floor, are directly correlated to the
newness and cost of the carpet or rug.
14. Law of Logical Argument - Anything is possible if you don't know
what you are talking about.
15. Brown's Law of Physical Appearance - If the clothes fit, they're
16. Oliver's Law of Public Speaking - A closed mouth gathers no feet.
17. Wilson's Law of Commercial Marketing Strategy - As soon as you find
a product that you really like, they will stop making it (especially in
18. Doctor's Law - If you don't feel well and make an appointment to go
to the doctor, by the time you get there you'll feel better. But if you
don't make an appointment, you'll stay sick.
19, 2012 -
Japanese man turns 115
Happy 115th Birthday to Jiroemon Kimura (木村 次郎右衛門), the world's oldest
living man. Born April 19, 1897, Kimura is a resident of Kyōtango,
Kyoto Prefecture, Japan, and still lives a health conscious and active
lifestyle. He has 5 children, 14 grandchildren, 25 great-grandchildren,
and 11 great-great-grandchildren.
17, 2012 - The World's
Greatest Piggyback Ride
After 27 yrs. of service, Space
Shuttle Discovery, the world's most traveled spaceship, left NASA's
Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Tuesday, April 17, 2012 aboard a
modified Boeing 747, on its final voyage to go on public display at the
Smithsonian Institute's National Air and Space Museum outside
Washington, D.C. Space Shuttles Enterprise & Endeavour will
receive similar piggyback rides to New York City & Los Angeles,
respectively. Space Shuttle Atlantis will remain at the Kennedy Space
Center for display in the visitor center. I have been
profoundly touched by this spacecraft thru the years and last
year prepared a special webpage about it here: Space Shuttle Discovery
This interesting piece of Japanese playground equipment is known as a
"high-jumper" (ハイジャンパー）, to measure how high you can jump up &
touch. The little numbers range from 210-280 & indicate height
in cm, e.g. the red "225" represents 2.25 m (~7 ft. 5 in.). Only in
- Crooner Panama Pete sings his favorite ballads
was kind of an off day for him, and some of the requested songs were
out of his range, but he did his best to accommodate his loyal fans...
Cue marks (in min.):
0:00 "Something" by The Beatles
3:05 "Love Letters in the Sand" by Pat Boone
5:25 "Blueberry Hill" by Fats Domino
7:50 "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" by The Platters
10:25 "Can't Help Falling in Love" by Elvis Presley
13:25 "Your Song" by Elton John
17:30 "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" by Elton John
21:30 "Open Arms" by Journey
24:50 "If" by Bread
27:30 "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away" by The Beatles
29:50 "Everything I Do, I Do It For You" by Bryan Adams
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