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How I ended up in Japan...


I'm often asked why I came to Japan. Well, it's a very LONG story, but the short version is that after a wreck in my personal life, I decided to move to the Land of the Rising Sun after reading a tiny little ad in the back of one of my engineering magazines about teaching English in Japan.

"Live in Japan! Teach English to Japanese businessmen. No Japanese required. Mail your resume to..." You get the picture. smiley

A Blessing in Disguise


Several blessings, in fact. Coming to Japan has, without question, been the best thing that's ever happened to me. I've been blessed in so many ways, that not a day passes when I don't count my lucky stars & reflect back with sincere gratitude for all the joy that living in Dai Nippon has brought me.

In the past 25 years, I've traveled to 45 of Japan's 47 prefectures, climbed the 25 highest mountains in Japan, and for 3 years even had the pleasure of singing and dancing in a children's English education stage show.

My TV role as Pres. Richard Nixon My TV role as
President Richard Nixon
And thru the past decade or so, I've done a little part-time acting and modeling, which resulted in my appearing a few times on Japanese TV. Hoo-wah!

I've also been blessed with fairly steady, rewarding employment, and am presently working as a university professor at 4 of Tokyo's largest universities. For more on why Japan floats my boat, here's my Top 10 List, in case you missed it on my welcome page.

Background


I'm sure most of my childhood friends will tell you I was a pretty good kid growing up, making good grades in school (the "D" I somehow eked out in my "elementary structural steel design" college course would be a notable exception) and excelling in Boy Scouts, earning the highest rank of Eagle Scout and even having the pleasure of attending a Boy Scout world jamboree.

University of Texas Longhorns University of Texas Longhorns
In my college days, I lived in Austin, Texas, where I studied at the University of Texas (yes, I am an avid Texas Longhorn fan!). I studied civil engineering and managed to squeeze a 4-yr. curriculum into only 9 semesters. smiley

I even lived in the same dormitory with Earl Campbell, the famous Hall-of-Fame, Heisman Trophy-winning, 3-time MVP, and 7-time Pro Bowl running back from Tyler, Texas. LOVE that man!

Prior to moving to Japan, I worked as a registered professional transportation engineer, designing streets, highways, and computer traffic signal systems for a living.

My last full-time position in the states was regional VP of marketing for a national transportation engineering consulting firm, where I was responsible for client relations, proposals, technical reports, and marketing the firm's design services throughout the U.S. southwest region.

My hometown is Houston, but I have lived all over Texas and in a number of places throughout the western U.S., including Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana.... most of these places specifically chosen as a result of the John Denver Rocky Mountain High fever I acquired (and still have) in the early 70s. smiley

Interests


Kani-no-yokobaiKani-no-yokobai
("crawling sideways like a crab")
My first love in the whole world has always been mountain climbing and, besides scaling all of the highest mountains in Japan, I've also had the pleasure of climbing some of the highest peaks in America.

Of course, when I'm not snoozing, working, being stuffed like a sardine into a crowded Tokyo train, hiking, or working on my websites, I sometimes enjoy cycling along the nearby riverside, playing tennis and softball, working out at the exercise gym, and terrorizing people with my harmonica.

And once in a blue moon, I tickle the ivories on my 5-octave, 465-sound Casio Tone Bank electronic keyboard. As a kid, I took 6 years of lessons from my church organist, so my favorite pieces tend to be easy classical music (Claire De Lune, Moonlight Sonata, Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring, etc.) and love ballads.

I also really enjoy partying (the non-alcohol version), smiley telling jokes, and trying to make people laugh. In years past, I gained notoriety with my Mr. Bean impersonations. Remembering people's birthdays also has been one of my favorite pastimes thru the years.

Pub ElvisThe famous Pub Elvis
And all my close friends know one of my favorite hangouts in the whole world used to be a tiny, yet famous, little karaoke bar near Takadanobaba Station named Pub Elvis, which unfortunately closed in the late 90s. It had over 3000 English songs, which was pretty phenomenal in those early days of karaoke.

A couple years ago there was a Pub Elvis reunion karaoke party, with the former owner & many of the old staff, customers, and Elvis impersonators in attendance. Here's my video which hopefully captured the electric atmosphere that night, and by all means don't miss Aaron, my all-time favorite Elvis impersonator, @ the 47:31 mark!

My Hometown


Spaced out in HoustonNASA Space Center
As mentioned above, I'm from the Lone Star state and grew up in Houston, the home of NASA, the Astrodome (the world's first domed sports stadium, built in 1965),
Houston AstrodomeHouston Astrodome
Compaq Computer (acquired by Hewlitt-Packard in 2002), American General, Kellogg Brown & Root, and the former Continental Airlines (merged with United Airlines in 2012).

Sometimes referred to as the Energy Capital of the World, due to the millions of barrels of oil imported through the Port of Houston every year and being home to America's largest petrochemical complex, Houston is headquarters to a number of large energy firms including Shell Oil, Conoco, Pennzoil-Quaker State, the former Enron Corp. (which went bankrupt in 2001), and Haliburton Energy Services.

Virtually every major energy company is represented in the city, and most foreign oil companies make Houston their U.S. base. More than 250 import/export companies operate in the area.

Houston's strategic location on the Texas Gulf makes it an ideal gateway to inland points. Three major railroads and one terminal switching railroad serve Houston.

In addition, about 130 trucking companies serve the Houston area, and modern highways link the port with the continental United States, Canada, and Mexico.

Texas Medical CenterTexas Medical Center
(Photo credit: chron.com)
Many world dignitaries, including kings and presidents, have been treated at Houston's world-renowned Texas Medical Center -- 42 medical institutions and over 50,000 employees, including 14 hospitals, such as the Texas Children's Hospital (the largest pediatric hospital in the U.S.), and the M.D. Anderson Cancer Research Center.

Also, 2 medical schools, 4 nursing colleges, the country's largest medical library, schools of dentistry and public health, 10,000 students, nearly 5 million patients a year, and the former workplace of the late Dr. Michael DeBakey, the internationally famed cardiovascular surgeon and pioneer in artificial hearts and transplants, who supervised the quintuple bypass surgery performed on Russian President Boris Yeltsin in 1996.

The Houston area is also home to Rice University, the University of Houston, the world's largest livestock show and rodeo, George and Barbara Bush, Olympic Gold Medal figure skating champion Tara Lipinski, former world heavyweight boxing champion George Foreman, strikeout ace and Hall-of-Famer Nolan Ryan, and four-time Indy 500 winner and now successful Indy car owner A.J. Foyt.

Also, actors Randy Quaid, Dennis Quaid, (I went to high school with these brothers), Renée Zellweger, and Patrick Swayze; singers Kenny Rogers, B.J. Thomas, and Clint Black; and the famous blues-rock artists ZZ Top and brothers Johnny & Edgar Winter.

NBA Houston RocketsNBA Houston Rockets
Also, the 2-time NBA champion Houston Rockets basketball team, the former 4-time champion Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) Houston Comets (disbanded in 2008), and the former 1999 International Hockey League Turner Cup champion & 2003 Calder Cup champion Houston Aeros (moved to Des Moines, Iowa in 2013 to become the Iowa Wild).

Cowboy Gary(Urban) Cowboy Gary
Houston is America's 4th largest city, with a regional population of 4.3 million, and its 2nd largest port (8th in the world), so I guess you could say I'm a "big city boy," but sometimes I like to dress up like a cowboy (talkin' about getting some stares on the Tokyo subways -- especially wearing that 10-gallon hat!!). Yee hah!

Houston has become quite the international city, now with consular offices from 65 countries, 45 foreign chambers of commerce, and 28 foreign bank representative offices.

The Port of Houston, besides being America's 2nd largest port in total tonnage, is the nation's top-ranked port of entry for foreign cargo, and thus has been nicknamed "America's Gateway to the Rest of the World."

Houston Astros logoMLB's Houston Astros
Over a decade ago, Houston's Downtown District underwent a massive revitalization program worth three-quarters of a billion dollars, including the Year 2000 completion of Minute Maid Park, the retractable-roof baseball stadium for the Houston Astros.

The 50-block area is already home to Houston's Theater District, which is 2nd only to New York City's Broadway in the number of theater seats. Also, in addition to the highly-acclaimed Houston Symphony Orchestra, there is the Houston Ballet and the Houston Grand Opera.

As for modern-day Texas culture, these days it can for the most part be summed up in only one word, TRUCKS, an automotive classification that includes not only pick-ups, but sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) and minivans as well.

It has been said that America loves trucks, as they now account for 50% of overall vehicle sales in the U.S. But in Texas, people are OBSESSED with them.

Almost 10% of all trucks sold in the U.S. are registered in Texas, and the state sells more trucks than 22 other states combined, including Montana, Nebraska, and Wyoming, where trucks have always been popular.

Close to a quarter of all Chevy Suburbans, often nicknamed the "Texas Cadillac" because of its popularity there, are sold in the Lone Star State.

Final wrap-up


Houston skylineHouston, Texas skyline
OK, well maybe I slightly overdid the Houston part, but just think how much more you now know about America's 4th largest city. smiley All joking aside, I guess it's fair to say I still remain very proud of my hometown.

Oh, one more thing. Although I'm not looking for work, just in case you happen to be hiring and have that dream job available, I've decided to throw in my (very outdated) resume (a more current & detailed listing of my work experience is on my LinkedIn profile page).

However, try not to fall asleep zzz gif in the process (you could spill coffee on your keyboard!). smiley

Thanks so much for visiting and I hope you have time to check out the rest of this site. Have a nice day!

Cheers,
Gary

Gary



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Gary J. Wolff


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