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

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

This page shows archived posts for Gary J. Wolff's blog from January-March, 2016.



Mar. 28, 2016 - New Hope Tokyo Easter Service, Sun. Mar. 27, 2016

Don't miss the amazing senior pastor Talo Sataraka @ the 5:20 mark.

New Hope Tokyo Easter Service, Sun. Mar. 27, 2016
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)

More about Pastor Talo:
More about New Hope Tokyo:

Mar. 7, 2016 - ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons likes beards, legs, and cars

Fox News' "In the Zone" host Diana Falzone interviews ZZ Top's guitarist & lead vocalist Billy Gibbons, who stars in the Discovery Channel's new show "Rockin' Roadsters."


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

Gibbons is an avid car collector and custom car enthusiast with an extensive collection that includes a 1948 Cadillac Series 62 (known as CadZZilla), a 1962 Chevrolet Impala (known as Slampala), a 1950 Ford Business Coupe (named Kopperhed), and a 1958 Ford Thunderbird. One of his earliest custom cars, a beautiful red 1933 Ford coupe (known as the Eliminator), was named after ZZ Top's most successful album and featured on the album's cover & in 3 of their music videos. Billy's Eliminator car has also made worldwide appearances in television, movies, auto shows, and charity events.

ZZ Top, commonly referred to as the "Little Ol' Band from Texas" & formed by Gibbons in 1969 in Houston, Texas, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. They have the distinction of being among a very small group of bands with a 40-year-plus history that still has all of its original members.

As of 2014, the band has had global album sales in excess of 50 million. The band is also known worldwide for the trademark chest-length beards grown by Gibbons & bassist and co-lead vocalist Dusty Hill during a 2-year break from public appearances in the late 70s.

ZZ Top
ZZ Top performing at the Majestic Theatre in San Antonio in 2015
Dusty Hill (L) & Billy Gibbons (R)
(Frank Beard on drums behind Billy)
(Photo credit: Ralph Arvesen (Wikimedia Commons))

ZZ Top is also quite famous in Japan, having appeared on the covers of Japanese music and guitar magazines & toured extensively, most notably even performing in the 1999 Fuji Rock Festival at the Naeba Ski Resort in Niigata. Billy has twice brought his custom cars to the Yokohoma Custom Hot Road Show, the 1st time in 2002 along with his Kopperhed & again in 2005 with his CadZZilla.

And here is ZZ Top advertising for the Honda Z car in a TV commercial back in 1998...

"ZZ Top on the Z" Honda Z TV commercial
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)

Mar. 6, 2016 - 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 on Mar. 2, the cherry blossoms will start blooming in Tokyo on Mar. 23 (only 17 days from today!) and peak on Mar. 29. Can't wait!!

2016 sakura zensen
2016 Sakura Zensen (cherry blossom front)

More details on the 2016 Japan cherry blossom season here:

Mar. 4, 2016 - How to Focus in the Age of Distraction

How to Stay Focused in the Age of Distraction
How to Focus in the Age of Distraction
(Photo credit: Learning Fundamentals)

Mar. 2, 2016 - My Boracay, Philippines Travel Adventure

Well, I FINALLY got a Round Tuit (round tuit). I finally finished My Boracay, Philippines Travel Adventure webpage. I posted my pics on this page Feb. 20, my video on Feb. 22, and just tonight I finished my 4,250-word page describing in detail the magical 7 days I spent in this gorgeous Pacific island paradise last month. Whew!! It was a borderline gargantuan effort, but at least hopefully no one will be able to accuse me of not being thorough. smiley

If you should ever have any interest in visiting this beautiful, but TINY, little Pacific island in the Western Visayas region of the Philippines, you might enjoy reading my account, including my pics, video, & map. I was very touched by the unbelievable, heartfelt hospitality of the wonderful Philippine people! To read more, click here: My Boracay, Philippines Travel Adventure


Boracay sunset from White Beach
Boracay sunset from White Beach

Feb. 29, 2016 - 10 Things Japanese People Do Better Than You

 1) Video Games
 2) Vending Machines
 3) Food
 4) Anime and Manga
 5) Public Transport
 6) Punctuality
 7) Toilets
 8) Restaurants
 9) Customer Service
10) Technology

Japanese vending machines
Vending machines, the #2 thing Japanese people do better than you
(Photo credit:

The full story is here. Annoyingly, you have to click open a separate page for each of the 10 items, slideshow-style (I hate websites that jerk their visitors around this way!), but it's worth clicking thru them to see the nice pics.

Feb. 23, 2016 - President Donald J. Trump in the Oval Office

It seems that the almighty Trumpster billionaire might already be measuring the drapes in the White House... smiley

President Trump in the Oval Office
President Trump in the White House Oval Office
(Photo credit:

Feb. 22, 2016 - Video of my Feb. 10-17 Boracay, Philippines travel adventure

It was a magnificent trip and I was blessed to have sampled so much of the amazing Boracay, Philippines culture & beauty....especially the wonderful people. I hope this video helps you catch a quick glimpse of this spectacular tropical Pacific paradise.

Don't miss out on action-packed stunning time-lapse sunsets, my zipline adventure, a reverse bungee, a wave pool, guys surfing on the "Wave Rider," White Beach nightlife including live music, the Oceanarium tunnel walk, kitesurfers on Bulabog Beach, and YES...believe it or not.... even a wedding celebration ON THE BEACH! smiley

Webpage to follow shortly...

My Boracay, Philippines travel adventure video
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)

 0:00 White Beach pre-sunset 360-degree panorama
 0:53 White Beach Feb. 10 sunset
 4:18 White Beach palm trees blowing in the strong breeze
 4:35 Rotisserie chicken
 4:42 Wild Boracay turkeys
 5:20 Puka Shell Beach
 5:51 Riding on a trike back to Station 2
 6:46 White Beach nightlife
 7:47 Male fire dancers
 8:47 Female fire dancer
 9:38 G-Max reverse bungee
11:44 White Beach live music
13:13 Beer pong
14:07 Boracay Regency Wave disco
14:47 Riding on a trike to the zipline
16:02 Panorama from zipline launch platform
16:19 My AMAZING 1st-ever zipline adventure! (Is it going to ever STOP!!?)
17:41 Return cable car ride back to zipline launch platform
21:07 Buggy cars near Mt. Luho
21:29 360-degree panorama from atop Mt. Luho, Boracay's highpoint
22:32 BUSY, BUSY kitesurfing on Bulabog Beach (the #1 beach in all of Asia for kitesurfing!) 
25:50 Busy Main Road traffic (no traffic signals on the entire island!)
26:17 Beach volleyball
26:49 Feb. 12 time-lapse sunset from Steve's Cliff (8 min. sunset in only 31 sec.) 27:20 Showdown basketball free throw game in D'Mall
28:02 Young woman fails to reach top of rock climbing tower in D'Mall
28:52 Fresh live catch @ the D'Talipapa fish market
29:45 Speed boat shuttle to the off-shore parasailing launch platform
30:50 BBQ meat grilling on White Beach footpath
31:16 Shoreline wedding celebration on White Beach
35:33 Feb. 13 time-lapse sunset from White Beach (5 min. sunset in only 20 sec.) 35:53 Rotisserie pig (as in the WHOLE pig!)
36:21 Feb. 15 sunset from the Spider House Bar & Restaurant, Diniwid Beach
38:27 Crown Regency wave pool (Surf's up!)
39:16 Crown Regency Wave Rider (Hang 10!)
40:03 Overhead fish tank outside front entrance to Crown Regency
40:22 Crown Regency fish pond tour (our tour guide was GORGEOUS!)
41:47 Crown Regency Oceanarium tunnel walk
44:17 World's largest pearl (Oops, don't blink or you'll miss this 2-sec. clip!)
44:19 Crown Regency Oceanarium mermaid show (pretty girl!)
48:42 Crown Regency Oceanarium fish feeding
50:05 Busy Main Road traffic
51:40 White Beach pre-sunset panorama
52:06 Feb. 16 sunset from White Beach
54:22 BUSY Philippine Airlines check-in counter @ Boracay Airport
54:43 Sayonara Boracay! frownie (takeoff from Boracay Airport)
55:21 Landing @ Manila Airport
56:16 Takeoff from Manila Airport, bound for Tokyo

Feb. 20, 2016 -  Pics from my Feb. 10-17 Boracay, Philippines travel adventure

Here is just a small sample of the 229 pics waiting for you in my Boracay, Philippines Travel album @ Flickr. I hope you enjoy seeing some of the sights I was blessed with in this true tropical paradise! Boracay's 4-km-long White Beach won Trip Advisor's 2015 Travelers' Choice award for the #1 rated beach in all of Asia. Stay tuned for my video (it's gonna be DY-NO-MIGHT w/ even time-lapse sunsets & my 1st-ever zipline adventure!) smiley and webpage to follow shortly...

 Boracay, Philippines pic collage
View all 229 Boracay, Philippines travel pics in my Flickr album here:
(click thumbnails there to open up full-size images or click the flickr arrow icon in the upper right to view entire album as an automated slideshow)

Feb. 7, 2016 - Sakurajima volcano blows her top!

Never a dull moment in Japan. The Japan Meteorological Agency reported that the Mt. Sakurajima volcano in Kagoshima Prefecture on the country's southern main island of Kyushu erupted at 6:56 pm on Friday Feb. 5, Japan time.

Although Mt. Sakurajima had at least 700 explosive eruptions between January and September of last year, it's been quiet since Sept. 17.

About 15 minutes after the eruption, the agency raised the alert level from 2 to 3 on the scale of 5. Level-3 alerts restrict entry onto the mountain.

Source: NHK World

Volcanic lightning in the Feb. 5, 2016 Mt. Sakurajima eruption
Volcanic lightning in the Feb. 5, 2016 Mt. Sakurajima eruption
(Photo credit: Kyodo/Reuters)

Feb. 3, 2016 - ♪  Have a Nice Day!  ♫ - a grrrreat song by Kazutoshi!

Kazutoshi, a very talented musician & one of my university engineering students, has composed a new song named "Have a Nice Day" and posted it to his SoundCloud channel. He has managed to create a very innovative rendition of his own teacher's voice. WOW! smiley

Check it out!

Thanks, Kazutoshi, for sharing!! Grrrrrreat! smiley

Song lyrics:
Have a nice day
I think I'm OK
Oh, well
It's a fine day today
1, 2, check, check
It's time to wake up
Wash my face
Hmmm... Beards to shave
But my razor's gone away
Anyway, by the way
Let's breakfast, yeah
No way / What a shame
Nothing's left to eat, great
Good taste
Never have a toothache
I say "hooray"
Have a nice day

Come on, DJ!

Feb. 1, 2016 - English loanwords in the Japanese language

Historically, the Japanese language has borrowed many words from foreign countries, starting with China back in the Nara Period (710-794).

Beginning in the 17th century, the Japanese language began to borrow these loanwords, or "gairaigo" (外来語) in Japanese, from western languages, including Portuguese, Dutch, German, French, Italian, Russian, and, especially since the 2nd World War, English. Today, English is the origin of most modern loanwords.

In Sanseido’s 2010 edition of Concise Dictionary of Foreign Words, there were over 56,300 foreign loanwords in the Japanese language, and of the 20,000 loanwords added in the past 2 decades, most of them came from English. One reason for their popularity is that almost all of these loanwords are a much shorter, abbreviated version of the original English word or expression, or their Japanese equivalent.

Although in many cases the new English loanwords are adopted to express concepts for which there are no equivalents in Japanese, most of the time people simply prefer to use the English words for practicality....e.g. the words are shorter, easier to say, or because they are fashionable. This is the case even when there are existing synonyms in Japanese.

So it comes as no big surprise that McDonald's Japan has taken this trend
to a new level with their latest sandwich campaign.

How about a チキチ (pronounced chee-kee-chee), short for チキーズバーガー (chicken cheeseburger)? Or how about an エグチ (pronounced ay-goo-chee), short for グ チーズバーガー (egg cheeseburger)... or a バベポ (pronounced bah-bay-poh), short forキューークバーガー (barbeque pork burger)... or a ハムタス (pronounced hah-moo-tah-soo), short for ハ ムタスバーガー (ham lettuce burger)? smiley

Mac otegoro menu
McDonald's Japan's latest sandwich campaign

Here are some other examples of popular English loanwords used in everyday Japanese conversation:

sumaho スマホ - smartphone
maiku マイク - microphone
pasokon パソコン - personal computer
waapuro ワープロ - word processor
suupaa スーパー - supermarket
depaato デパート - department store
amefuto アメフト - American football
puroresu プロレス - professional wrestling
sando サンド - sandwich
furugura フルグラ - fruit granola
konbini コンビニ - convenience store
eakon エアコン - air conditioning
masukomi マスコミ - mass media (from mass communication)
erebeetaa エレベーター - elevator
anime アニメ - animation
furonto フロント - front desk, e.g. in a hotel
reji レジ - cash register
naitaa ナイター - nighter (nighttime baseball game)
furima フリマ - flea market

risutora リストラ - restructuring

Jan. 30, 2016 - Paraglider dancing with the Northern Lights!

33-year-old Spaniard Horacio Llorens, a 5-time world champion acrobatic paraglider, has pulled off a truly amazing, once-in-a-lifetime feat by riding his paraglider thru & dancing with Norway's Northern Lights near the city of Trømso.

Llorens’ dance with the Northern Lights was made possible by his sponsors Red Bull, paramotor chassis company Kangook, and motorcycle engine builder Polini.... as well as by the Norwegian government, which granted permission for the stunt.

Llorens dedicated his flight to his cousin Alejandro Rodríguez, who died in a paragliding accident 5 years ago.

Source: RT News

Paraglider dancing with the Northern Lights!
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)

Jan. 26, 2016 - Please vote for Cindy!

Can I ask you for a favor? Cindy, the 15-year-old daughter of my dear, longtime friends Peter & Elke in Frankfurt, Germany, had such a positive experience on a 3-week exchange program last year in Canada that she has decided to apply as a high school exchange student in the U.S. this fall.

She has prepared a video application with photos from her friends in Canada, her English teacher in Germany, etc., and along with her competitors, uploaded it to the website of the exchange program organizer (EF High School Exchange Year - Deutschland). This will be a very tough competition: whichever students get the most votes in the shortest time will be selected!

Can I ask you, your family, and friends to vote for Cindy? Just click the link below and then click on the “Vote” button (NOT on the Facebook "Like” button). (Cindy does not have nor do you need a Facebook account to vote.) And then, by all means watch her very cute video!

Please vote for Cindy! Plus, you'll get a chance to brush up on your German!! smiley

Thank you in advance! Here is the link: (no longer functional)

Mar. 8, 2016 update: Cindy didn't finish in the top 3, but garnered thousands of votes, thank you! On Mar. 2, the top 3 students won 3,333-euro (~$3674) scholarships for their high school exchange programs in the U.S. Wow!

Vote for Cindy!
Vote for Cindy!

Jan. 16, 2016 -  The brilliant art of deception

21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa
The Swimming Pool,
21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa, Japan
(photo credit: Japan National Tourism)

Is your mind playing games with you? At first glance, when viewed from above, the swimming pool appears to be filled with deep, shimmering water. But wait...aren't those people in regular street clothes standing on the bottom of the pool & gazing upward? And without air tanks?

"The Swimming Pool," by 43-year-old Argentinian artist Leandro Erlich, is actually an empty swimming pool topped by a layer of water about 10 centimeters deep suspended over transparent plexiglass.

This 2004 permanent exhibit is among the many other artistic creations from wide-ranging fields at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa, Japan. Kanazawa is the capital of Ishikawa Prefecture and is well-known not only as the home of some of Japan's most respected artists & museums, but also for the centuries-old Kenrokuen Garden, one of Japan's 3 most beautiful gardens, as well as for Kanazawa Castle, which was built in the 1580s.

For a view from inside the pool & below the water, click here.

Jan. 14, 2016 - Save the Gyotoku Bird Observatory (行徳野鳥観察舎)!!

The Gyotoku Bird Observatory is a 56-hectare natural habitat for aquatic birds located in Ichikawa, Chiba. It was built by a non-profit organization (NPO) 37 years ago as a wildlife protection area to serve as a wild bird sanctuary.

As one of the biggest landing zones in Japan for some migratory aquatic birds like terns and greater scaups, the Gyotoku Bird Observatory has attracted thousands of birdwatchers from all over Japan & overseas. The facility includes a 3-story visitor center and educational facility, as well as a small adjoining bird hospital to care for injured and sick wild birds. The 2nd floor has 44 telescopes and a large picture window for viewing the expansive wildlife protection area.

But just last month, the Chiba prefectural assembly decided to close the observatory indefinitely, due to severe damage to the building caused by the disastrous earthquake that occurred in Japan on March 2011. The prefectural assembly is not planning to either resume operations or reconstruct the observatory, but rather to reclaim the bird sanctuary wetland.

If this decision stands, Japan will lose a national treasure where generations of children will no longer be able to benefit from learning about and experiencing natural wildlife and the ecosystem. And we will lose a great place to observe aquatic birds in their natural waterfront habitat.

As a result, Kaoru Hayashi has started an online petition @ directed toward Chiba governor Kensaku Morita to encourage his government to reconsider their decision. If we can save the Gyotoku Bird Observatory, the NPO can continue its vital community service to allow local residents as well as visitors to experience the great nature of Gyotoku.

Kaoru is a veterinary medical science student at The University of Tokyo who benefited tremendously from often visiting the bird sanctuary as a child, having been raised in the nearby Shiohama area.

Having lived in the area myself, I've visited the Gyotoku Bird Observatory numerous times, and the place has touched my soul in such a profound way that I even built a special webpage about it a few years ago. As a nature lover & bird watcher myself, thru the years I found this bird sanctuary to be a very therapeutic spot for me to escape Tokyo's concrete jungle.

If you'd like to learn more or would care to sign the online petition, please visit:

It's going to be a very sad day indeed if we lose it. Thanks for your support!

Sun. afternoon tour of Gyotoku Bird Observatory
Sun. afternoon tour of 56-acre Gyotoku Bird Observatory,
Ichikawa, Chiba, Japan

Jan. 13, 2016 - Tokyo Metro's Mega Solar (メガソーラー) project

Since the big 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake & Tsunami, Tokyo Metro, the operator of Tokyo's largest subway system which transports nearly 7 million passengers daily, has been working diligently toward reducing its power costs and carbon footprint. Thus, it has a goal to keep its total energy consumption in Fiscal 2020 at a level lower than the actual consumption in Fiscal 2009.

One of its strategies for achieving this was the recent installation between 2012 & 2015 of rooftop solar panels at its 8 aboveground stations on the Tozai Line. These include, from west to east, Nishi-Kasai, Kasai, Urayasu, Minami-Gyotoku, Gyotoku, Myoden, Baraki-Nakayama, and Nishi-Funabashi Stations.

rooftop solar panels on Tozai Line's Urayasu Station
Rooftop solar panels on the Tozai Line's Urayasu Station
(photo credit: Tokyo Metro)

The stations individually generate anywhere from 93-253 kW of electrical power, or a total electricity output from all 8 stations of about 1 megawatt. This annual generating capacity of around 1.1 million kWh, equivalent to the annual power consumption of 322 households, provides for the lighting, air conditioning/heating, elevators, & escalators at the stations.

Here's Tokyo Metro's 30-second promo video (in Japanese) showing its Mega Solar (メガソーラー) project:

Tokyo Metro's 30-second promo video of its Mega Solar (メガソーラー) project
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)

Jan. 9, 2016 - Rambling Steve Gardner, live @ What the Dickens, Jan. 8, 2016

Last night I had the honor of hearing one of my favorite musicians, Mississippi native and globetrotting bluesman Rambling Steve Gardner, who kicked off the 2016 live music schedule at the "What the Dickens" British pub in Ebisu, Tokyo.

Not only is Steve without question Tokyo's most accomplished harmonica playin' & finger pickin', slide playin' blues guitarist, he is also a university professor who has traveled to several universities around Japan, playing the blues and doing programs on Mississippi and southern U.S. culture. He also travels the world making music and giving seminars about musical fact, he has tours booked during the next 3 months in Hawaii & Mississippi.

If all that weren't enough, Steve spends a lot of his time in Fukushima, having made over 50 trips in recent years, working in association with the Tokyo American Club’s Women’s Group to play his music or conduct workshops, especially to boost the morale of child victims of the big 2011 earthquake/tsunami who are still suffering from a fairly high level of depression.

For more on Steve and his music, including his videos, photos, blog, & live gig schedule, head on over to: (Don't miss his amazing rendition of Hank Williams' 1953 classic, "Your Cheatin' Heart" on his 12-string National Reso-Phonic left-handed guitar.)

Rambling Steve Gardner, live @ What the Dickens, Jan. 8, 2016
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)

Jan. 6, 2015 - English Pronunciation Mini-Course for Japanese Learners

This 4-lesson American English pronunciation mini-course focuses on the most common & troublesome pronunciation problems that my students have struggled with through the years. These include the TH/S, R/L, B/V, & F/H sounds.

Each lesson contains 3 exercises (speaking, listening, & dictation), which have been intentionally simplified to aid the learning process.

And although this mini-course is tailored to Japanese learners, it may prove useful to non-native English learners from other countries as well.

Here's the Course Intro video:

English Pronunciation Mini-Course Intro
(click link above to view a larger-size video on separate page)

To learn more or to begin the course, click here: English Pronunciation Mini-Course for Japanese Learners

Jan. 2, 2015 - "How To Win Friends and Influence People"

The other day I was reminded in Dan Miller's Dec. 29 podcast about a very important principle from Dale Carnegie's best-selling "How To Win Friends and Influence People" book about making other people feel important and that it be done sincerely. 

Here it is in a nutshell...


1) Become genuinely interested in other people.
2) Smile.
3) Remember that a person's name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
4) Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
5) Talk in terms of the other person's interests.
6) Make the other person feel important - and do it sincerely.

It's an important principle which I've always found works well for me personally, since first being introduced to this remarkable book early in my professional career. So I doubt I'll be changing horses in midstream anytime soon. smiley

Thanks to Dan's kindness, you can download a free pdf of "How To Win Friends and Influence People" on his Dec. 29 podcast page linked above.

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