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Home: Gary J. Wolff's Blog: Gary J. Wolff's Blog Archives, January-March, 2015

Gary J. Wolff's Blog Archives
January-March, 2015

This page shows archived posts for Gary J. Wolff's blog from January-March, 2015.



Mar. 30, 2015 - Cherry blossoms in Tokyo are now in full bloom!

Cherry blossoms in Tokyo, Japan
Cherry blossoms in Tokyo, Japan

Mar. 25, 2015 - This teacher has an amazing response for the inappropriate question "What do teachers make?"

If you're a teacher, this video may make you want to stand up and yell "AMEN!". Do you know any teachers who make THIS? If so, be sure to forward this video to them!

What do Teachers Make? by Taylor Mali
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)

Mar. 18, 2015 - The magic of Japan's cherry blossom season...

....Coming to a location near you SOON! smiley

According to the latest forecast by the Japan Weather Association, the cherry blossoms will start blooming in Tokyo on Mar. 25 (only ONE WEEK from today!) and peak on April 2. Can't wait!!

2015 sakura zensen
2015 Sakura Zensen (cherry blossom front)

More details on the 2015 Japan cherry blossom season here:

Mar. 17, 2015 - People are awesome!

This is one of those "You gotta be kidding me!" videos. Don’t try this at home! smiley

Two of my favorite parts are the frisbee tricks @ the 0:44 & 2:36 marks.

People are Awesome 2014 video
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)

Mar. 13, 2015 - Introducing the Apple Watch

Apple watch cartoon
Source: International New York Times, Mar. 11, 2015, p. 7
by editorial cartoonist Patrick Chappatte

Mar. 11, 2015 - 4-year anniversary of strongest ever Japan earthquake and tsunami

Four years ago today, Mar. 11, 2011, @ 2:46 pm northeastern Japan was hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake (東日本大震災), the most powerful earthquake ever recorded to have hit Japan, and the 4th most powerful earthquake in the world since modern record-keeping began in 1900.

Sadly the massive, magnitude 9.0 undersea megathrust earthquake triggered powerful tsunami waves that reached heights of up to 40.5 metres (133 ft) in Miyako, Iwate and devastated cities & seaports along a broad swath of the northeastern Japan coastline.

The tsunami in turn caused meltdowns at 3 reactors in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant complex, and forced the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of residents. Today, radiation levels remain as much as 10 times above normal in areas surrounding the plant, and scores of towns and villages remain off-limits despite a massive cleanup effort.

Fukushima nuclear power plant workers are still battling to contain leaks of contaminated water, and the plant won't be fully decommissioned for at least 3 more decades.

I was home at the time, and never lost my internet connection, so primarily to keep my many wonderful overseas friends & family (who were all BEGGING me to get the heck outta Dodge) updated on the latest news, I started blogging immediately, and over the course of the next 101 days after the triple tragedy, I had posted 467 news updates.

In that first week, the stunning amateur video below is one of the most terrifying I saw, in this case, of the killer tsunami destroying 95 percent of Minami-Sanriku (南三陸町), a fishing port in Miyagi Prefecture.

Mar. 11, 2011 tsunami washing away Minami-sanriku (南三陸町), Miyagi
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)

Yesterday the Japanese National Police confirmed that the Great East Japan Earthquake (東日本大震災) & tsunami caused 15,891 deaths, 6,152 injuries, 2,584 people still missing across 20 prefectures, as well as 228,863 people living away from their home in either temporary housing or due to permanent relocation.

To view more shocking videos and my blog posts for that first week after the Mar. 11, 2011 quake/tsunami, please check out this page: Strongest Ever Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, News Updates for March 12-18, 2011

Mar. 1, 2015 - Akihabara traffic cone juggler

Akihabara is never a dull moment. Yesterday just before our Tokyo PC Users Group Akihabara tour, a few of us were entertained by this amazing young man who was performing in the square on the north side of JR Akihabara Station "Electric Town" exit, near the Japanese idol girl group AKB48's theater. Among other things, he was juggling TRAFFIC CONES! smiley

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

If you're interested in discount, backstreet electronics shops, you might enjoy the pics from our Tokyo PC Users Group's Akihabara Electric Town tour.

Feb. 20, 2015 - How 'bout some bacon & eggs for breakfast?

Although we were first warned about cholesterol in 1961, America's top diet and nutrition advisory panel has decided to drop cholesterol warnings, considering cholesterol to not be a "nutrient of concern."

The panel cited mounting research that because cholesterol from the diet represents only about 20 percent of the cholesterol circulating in the human bloodstream, lowering cholesterol intake will affect blood cholesterol levels only marginally.

So we can now eat eggs again! The WHOLE egg. smiley

But that's not all: Saturated fat is also making a comeback. Sweden just became the first western nation to officially reject low-fat diets in favor of a low-carb high-fat diet, basically saying steak is better for you than bread.

Australian cardiologist Dr. Ross Walker says that's not the only pro-fat study. "Cambridge University just released a trial with 600,000 people, 32 different trials put together, and there's no link between meat, eggs, dairy, and heart disease."

But the new view on cholesterol in the diet does not reverse warnings about high levels of "bad" cholesterol in the blood, which have been linked to heart disease. Moreover, some experts warned that people with particular health problems, such as diabetes, should continue to avoid cholesterol-rich diets.

Excuse me now, while I catch up on all the delicious cholesterol I've missed out on during this past HALF-CENTURY! smiley

bacon and egg breakfast
Bacon and egg breakfast
(Photo credit:

Feb. 13, 2015 - Japanese inventor of soy sauce bottle dies @ 85

Japanese industrial designer Kenji Ekuan (榮久庵憲司), whose most popular invention is the world-famous red-capped Kikkoman soy sauce bottle, has died at age 85.

Ekuan, a former monk at a Hiroshima temple, later pursued a career in design, graduating from the prestigious Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music in 1955 and founding his design studio two years later.

His other designs included the Yamaha VMAS motorcycle, the Komachi bullet train connecting Tokyo and northern Japan, the Narita Express airport liner, audio equipment, and company logos like the ones for the Ministop convenience store and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.

Kenji Ekuan in 2003
Kenji Ekuan in 2003
(Photo credit: AP)
Kikkoman soy sauce bottle
Kikkoman soy sauce bottle
(Photo credit: Mj-bird/Creative Commons)

Feb. 11, 2015 - How former Megadeth lead guitarist Marty Friedman (マーティ・フリードマン) attained fluency in Japanese

The 52-year-old former guitarist for the platinum-selling thrash metal band Megadeth of the 90s explains in the video below how he successfully became fluent in Japanese.

Friedman, who has now become a TV celebrity, says he attained Japanese fluency before ever moving permanently to Japan in 2003, by teaching himself and working his way through correspondence courses even while on tour. And Friedman insisted on conducting interviews only in Japanese while touring in Japan.

"Just like music," he says, "when you start, you've got to jam with everybody, even if you don't like the situation. You've got to find those situations, and don't blow 'em off when they happen."

The J-Pop scene welcomed him relatively quickly. He was still shredding on his guitar, but now he was accompanying Japanese pop, country, and rock stars. He started writing a weekly opinion column on J-Pop. Over the years, Friedman's language skills have landed him on Japanese television, and not just on music shows — he does cooking shows too.

Friedman says he's appeared in over 600 TV shows, movies, and ads, including "Mr. Heavy Metal" and "Rock Fujiyama," television shows he hosted in the mid-'00s, as well regular stints on the NHK show "Asia Music Network," his weekly NHK radio show, news shows, political shows, and as a guest on the myriad Japanese variety shows.

Wow, way to go, Marty. Good job! smiley

Marty Friedman on "How to Teach Yourself Japanese"
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)

Source links: marty-friedmans-journey-to-japanese-pop marty-friedman-became-a-japanese-superstar-20140819

Feb. 10, 2015 - It's still Diamond Fuji viewing season in Tokyo!

"Diamond Fuji" is a phenomenon which occurs when the sun sets into or rises out of Mt. Fuji's cone, setting off sunbeams that resemble a glittering diamond, and is a popular target of both amateur and professional photographers in Japan.

I took the snapshot below this afternoon @ 5:07 pm from my apartment building. Too bad I don't have a better, say, with a 300mm telephoto lens. smiley

Diamond Fuji from Tokyo - Feb. 10, 2015
Diamond Fuji from Tokyo, Feb. 10, 2015, 5:07 pm

In December I decided to put together the webpage linked below, listing the best high-rise spots in Tokyo for viewing Diamond Fuji along with recommended dates, sunset times, admission fees, and links to their Google maps: Diamond Fuji Viewing Spots, Dates, and Times in Tokyo

Feb. 7, 2015 - Texas Rattlesnake Logic

As part of some commentary about the recent rash of evildoings in the Middle East and elsewhere around the world, I heard this timely & appropriate piece on the radio yesterday, written last year by a Texas rancher:

"Here in West Texas, I have rattlesnakes on my place, living among us. I have killed a rattlesnake on the front porch. I have killed a rattlesnake on the back porch. I have killed them in the barn, in the shop, and on the driveway. In fact, I kill every rattlesnake I encounter. 
I kill rattlesnakes because I know a rattlesnake will bite me and inject me with poison. I don’t stop to wonder WHY a rattlesnake will bite me; I know it WILL bite me because it’s a rattlesnake and that’s what rattlesnakes do.

I don’t try to reason with a rattlesnake or have a ”meaningful dialogue” with it...I just kill it. I don’t try to get to know the rattlesnake better, in order to find a way to live with rattlesnakes and convince them not to bite me. I just kill them.

I don’t quiz a rattlesnake to see if I can find out where the other snakes are, because: (a) it won’t tell me, and (b) I already know they live on my place, so...I just kill it...and move on to the next one. 
I don’t look for ways I might be able to change the rattlesnake to a non-poisonous rat snake…I just kill it. Oh, and on occasion, I accidentally kill a rat snake because I thought it was a rattlesnake at the time.

Also, I know for every rattlesnake I kill, two more are lurking in the brush. In my lifetime, I will never be able to rid my place of rattlesnakes. 
Do I fear them? Not really. Do I respect what they can do to me and my family? Yes!! And because of that respect, I give them the fair justice they deserve...I kill them.

As a country, we should start giving more thought to the fact that these jihadists are telling the world that their goal is to kill Americans and destroy our way of life. 

They have just posted 2 graphic videos on the internet showing them beheading Americans. They are serious. They are exactly like rattlesnakes. It is high time for us to start acting accordingly!"

[Author unknown. No further explanation necessary.]

Texas rattlesnake
Texas rattlesnake
(photo credit: Casey Kanode)

Feb. 5, 2015 - Top 10 winners in the International Pun Contest

  1. A vulture boards an airplane, carrying two dead raccoons. The stewardess looks at him and says, "I'm sorry, sir, only one carrion allowed per passenger."
  2. Two fish swim into a concrete wall. One turns to the other and says "Dam!"
  3. Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly, so they lit a fire in the craft. Unsurprisingly it sank, proving once again that you can't have your kayak and heat it too.
  4. Two hydrogen atoms meet. One says "I've lost my electron." The other says "Are you sure?" The first replies "Yes, I'm positive."
  5. Did you hear about the Buddhist who refused Novocaine during a root canal? His goal: transcend dental medication.
  6. A group of chess enthusiasts checked into a hotel and were standing in the lobby discussing their recent tournament victories. After about an hour, the manager came out of the office and asked them to disperse. "But why?" they asked, as they moved off. "Because," he said, "I can't stand chess nuts boasting in an open foyer."
  7. A woman has twins and gives them up for adoption. One of them goes to a family in Egypt and is named "Ahmal." The other goes to a family in Spain; they name him "Juan." Years later, Juan sends a picture of himself to his birth mother. Upon receiving the picture, she tells her husband that she wishes she also had a picture of Ahmal. Her husband responds, "They're twins! If you've seen Juan, you've seen Ahmal."
  8. A group of friars were behind on their belfry payments, so they opened up a small florist shop to raise funds. Since everyone liked to buy flowers from the men of God, a rival florist across town thought the competition was unfair. He asked the good fathers to close down, but they would not. He went back and begged the friars to close. They ignored him. So, the rival florist hired Hugh MacTaggart, the roughest and most vicious thug in town to "persuade" them to close. Hugh beat up the friars and trashed their store, saying he'd be back if they didn't close up shop. Terrified, they did so, thereby proving that only Hugh can prevent florist friars.
  9. Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot most of the time, which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate very little, which made him rather frail and, with his odd diet, he suffered from bad breath. This made him a super calloused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.
  10. And finally, there was the person who sent 10 different puns to friends, with the hope that at least one of the puns would make them laugh. No pun in ten did.

Feb. 3, 2015 - Super Bowl XLIX from the New Sanno Hotel, Tokyo, Japan

Thanks to my buddies, James & Joe, I was able to watch Super Bowl XLIX from the New Sanno Hotel in Tokyo, and it was one of the best football games I've ever seen!

Game time in Japan was @ 8:30 am, Mon. Feb. 2, 2015. This amazing party cost only $10, which included a gorgeous, all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet.

The New Sanno Hotel is a wonderful, reasonably-priced accommodation in central Tokyo which serves the U.S. military community.

Katy Perry performing @ Super Bowl XLIX
Katy Perry performing @ Super Bowl XLIX
(Click here to view my 32-pic Flickr album)

Feb. 1, 2015 - Checking your email every few minutes?

Thanks to our smartphones and tablets, a lot of us check our email over and over from wherever we are, because we dread missing anything from anyone, whether urgent or not.

Sounds stressful, doesn't it? Well, it sure can be, but perhaps there's an alternative. What would happen if you checked your email only 3 times a day?

Researchers at the University of British Columbia in Canada took 124 people and split them into 2 groups. One group was asked to check their email only 3 times a day, while the other group was told to check their email just as often as they could.

This went on for a week and then, the 2 groups traded places: the people who had limited checking their email now had to start checking their email all the time..... while those who had been checking their email constantly now had to stick to only 3 times a day.

Researchers found that in both cases, when people in either group were asked to look at their email just 3 times a day, their stress levels went down.... way down.

They say unless there is a real emergency, it's probably better for you to sift through your emails in a few chunks of time during the day, rather than on demand.

Tim Ferriss, author of the top-seller The 4-Hour Workweek, calls email "the greatest single interruption in the modern world." He also recommends checking email only twice a day.... @ 12 noon & @ 4 pm.... and to never check email first thing in the morning. Good luck with THAT.

But wait, how about work emails? Well, that's another matter entirely. smiley

Source: The Osgood File, Jan. 19, 2015

Jan. 25, 2015 - Danish archer video becomes internet sensation

Lars Andersen, a Danish archer who has studied historical descriptions of ancient war archery to re-discover their techniques, is now known as the “world’s fastest archer.” Over the past few years, he has fine-tuned his skills and is now able to fire three arrows in only 0.6 seconds.

Two days ago he released a video demonstrating these forgotten techniques and how holding arrows in the firing hand and placing them outside of the bow allows archers to fire at speed and while running.

The video hit its 1st million views on YouTube within 13 hours, was watched more than 4.5 million times in under 24 hours, and at the time of this posting had been viewed over 10 million times. WOW. To say this video has gone viral would be the understatement of the year! smiley

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

Jan. 22, 2015 - Real-time, animated world hacking map

Feeling nervous about your PC getting hacked? Take a look at this real-time map of global hacking attacks, developed by a St. Louis-based company called Norse. At a glance, the color-coded world map shows in real time the highest ranked countries which are both attacking and being attacked, plus the type of hacking attacks. AMAZING!

Real-time animated world hacking map
Real-time animated world hacking map
Click here to see the amazing live action.
(The animated attack lines didn't display properly on my iPhone or iPad,
so perhaps it's better to view the map on your PC.)
(photo credit: Norse Corp.)

Jan. 8, 2015 - "Winter Hiking Tips" by Wes Lang

1) Don’t do it – Stay at home. Curl up under the kotatsu with a good book in your hand. Hug your loved one. Skype with your relatives. Watch a cool mountaineering movie. Hang out with your friends. Plan some amazing summer trips. Just don’t risk it by going out there and tempting fate. Yeah, I know you only live once, but do you really want to play Russian Roulette?

Ok, now that you’ve chosen not to heed my advice, let me give you a few tips. Read more...

Jan. 5, 2015 - First Full Moon of 2015 in Tokyo

1st 2015 full moon in Tokyo
1st Full Moon of 2015 in Tokyo
(taken @ 5:07 pm, just after moonrise)

Jan. 1, 2015 - Happy New Year!!

This is the most amazing animated New Year's greeting card, designed by the talented graphic designers @, and sent by my dear Mom (click image below to view it). This animation shows 7 famous clocks around the world striking midnight on New Year's Eve (be sure to click special link at the end of the animation to learn more about these 7 famous clocks, including Big Ben in London).

Happy New Year, everyone, and best wishes for a wonderful 2015, the Year of the Sheep! smiley

sheep counting men

Tokyo Weather/Sky
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Gary J. Wolff

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