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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.


Nov. 19, 2017 - My President Richard Nixon mask

Last week my longtime friend and former coworker Tom Kilbride (far right in the pic below) sent me this amazing reminder of a very fun Halloween party we had 30+ years ago at our former employer, Success Motivation Institute, in Waco, Texas.

WOW! As I told Tom, and as my college roomies can surely confirm, I was quite the Nixon impersonator in my younger days (Imagine me shooting the peace sign with both hands while chanting "FOUR MORE YEARS, FOUR MORE YEARS"... ).  smiley

I definitely got a lot of mileage outta that very fun Richard Nixon mask...

Richard Nixon mask halloween costume
My Richard Nixon mask halloween costume




Nov. 11, 2017 - Superstar international goodwill ambassador Arabella Kushner

This is without question of the cutest things I think I've ever seen.

While Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan welcomed President Donald Trump & first lady Melania Trump at Beijing's Forbidden City on Wednesday Nov. 8, on a tablet computer, Pres. Trump showed Xi and Peng video clips of his 6-year-old granddaughter, Arabella Kushner, singing in Mandarin and reciting part of the Three-Character Classic and several ancient Chinese poems.

WOW, how precious! The video has gone viral & Arabella is now a child star in China.


Superstar international goodwill ambassador Arabella Kushner
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)




Nov. 4, 2017 - Houston Astros -- World Series Champions!

THEY DID IT! My most heartfelt congrats to the 2017 World Series Champion Houston Astros! I'm now on Cloud 9, as are millions of other fans in my hometown, America's 4th largest city. YAY! smiley

Houston Astros World Series Champs
(photo credit: http://ftw.usatoday.com)




Oct. 28, 2017 - Go Astros!​ smiley

​After the World Series start​ed on Tuesday​,​ I had a panic attack when I realized I no longer had ​a Houston Astros ​baseball​ cap​ ​in my home. Because I wanted to wear one to support my hometown team, on Thursday night I purchased ​a new ​cap at the ​"Selection​"​ American sporting good​s​ shop in Shinjuku.

Before leaving​,​ the shop staff asked if he could take my picture wearing my new cap and I said ​"Of course.​" He then gave me the shop's business card with a QR code linking to their ​"​snap​ photo" blog pa​​ge​​.

​So here I am wearing my new​ cap​. Go Astros!​ smiley

 new Astros cap
Caption on Selection blog page: ヒューストンからお越しのお客様です!アストロズのキャップ購入頂きました♪キャップを被ってアストロズを応援して下さい\(^o^)/
Translation: This customer comes from Houston! He bought an Astros cap. Please support the Astros by wearing the cap.
(Selection snap photo blog page: selection-j.com/blog/snapphoto)




Oct. 24, 2017 - Quote of the Day

"Don't complain. Eighty percent of the people you complain to don't care and the other 20 percent are glad you have problems."

--Legendary college football coach Lou Holtz--




Oct. 23, 2017 - Glow-in-the-dark ceiling stars!

My glow-in-the-dark ceiling star project is now nearly complete. While taking a break from helping my family recover from Hurricane Harvey last month, I slipped over to Houston's Museum of Natural Science gift shop one day to pick up a pack of 60 glow-in-the-dark mini-stars for only $6.95.  

glow-in-the-dark ceiling stars
My glow-in-the-dark ceiling stars


I really like this method of stargazing… no mosquitoes, rainouts, bears, or snakes. smiley I've been a big fan of the sky since I earned the Boy Scout ​Astronomy merit badge at age 13​, thanks to our wonderful scoutmaster Paul Caillet.

For the first couple weeks after returning back to Japan ​(​while I was getting my new university fall semester kicked off and in motion​),​ there were only ​2 constellations on my ceiling… ​my two favorites​...​ ​the ​Big and ​Little ​Dippers, because of the pointer star configuration for locating the Nor​th Star​....​ very useful ​when lost in the wilderness at night​. smiley

But within the past week or so​,​ I've managed to add the ​4 latest constellations: Orion​,​ ​Cygnus, Scorpius (my zodiac sign)​,​ and Sagittarius, at the 3​:00, 5​:00, 7:00, and 8​:00 ​clock ​positions​, respectively,​ as I gaze up at my ceiling.

So what to do with the final ​4 stars, that is the question. Although there ARE ​some obscure ​constellations with only ​4 stars, I’m not a big fan of any of them. If you have any suggestions, feel free to drop me a note in the comments section below!




Oct. 14, 2017 - Texas ​Trash!!

Sometimes I feel like I'm the luckiest guy on the planet because of this wonderful snack mix that ​Mom ​has been ​​making ​now for nearly a ​​remarkable​ ​​half​-​century.

Every time I visit Houston​,​ she cooks up a ​c​ouple of batches​ of Texas Trash​​,​ using her own special recipe, and prepared with a lot of tender loving care. As a result​,​ I always come back to Japan with 15​-20 bags of this amazing concoction to share with my friends​,​ neighbors​,​ and coworkers.

Y​ummy, yummy!

Bless you​,​ ​Mom! I fe​​el your love​...​ smiley


Mom's Texas Trash
Mom's Texas Trash


Mom's Texas Trash recipe
Mom's Texas Trash recipe




Oct. 3, 2017 - Good morning from Tokyo!

This is the amazing sunrise I awoke to yesterday on an early Monday morning to begin my workweek:

red sky morning
Red sky morning, Tokyo, Japan
Mon. Oct. 2, 2017, 5:33 am


"Red sky at night, sailors' delight.
Red sky at morning, sailors take warning." smiley




Sept. 24, 2017 - Video of GW's August 2017 Alaska Road Trip

Don't miss the cute ground squirrel at the beginning of the video, the mama grizzly bear and her 2 cubs @ 9:06, the cute little short-tailed weasel @ 29:01, salmon leaping up the Bear Creek Weir @ 31:12, our catching HUGE silver salmon in the Lower Kenai River @ 39:35, and the 3 jumbo jets landing a mere 200 feet above my head at Anchorage International Airport @ 51:59! Enjoy! smiley



GW's August 2017 Alaska Road Trip
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)


My favorite clips are highlighted in yellow:

0:00 Arctic ground squirrel on the Savage River Alpine Trail in Denali National Park (DNP)
0:27 Ranger Riley narrates a sled dog demo at DNP
5:20 Shuttle bus driver Will explains details of our trip to the DNP Toklat River Rest Stop
7:40 Smiley Ranger Jen welcomes shuttle bus passengers at the DNP Savage River checkpoint
9:06 Mama grizzly bear and her 2 cubs forage for berries
11:39 Panorama of Toklat River drainage basin
12:54 Panorama from top of Savage River Alpine Trail
14:06 Arrival at Denali Depot of the Fairbanks-to-Anchorage Wilderness Express Alaska Railroad
15:50 Inside the busy, busy Denali National Park Visitor Center
16:27 Ranger Alex guided hike on the Triple Lakes Trail near the DNP visitor center
18:40 Hines Creek, Triple Lakes Trail, DNP
19:02 DNP Ranger Alex asks thought-provoking questions at the Riley Creek suspension bridge, Triple Lakes Trail, DNP
21:08 DNP sled dogs go CRAZY over a squirrel in a tree (LOUD!!)
22:10 Interesting illuminated display in the Museum of the North at the University of Alaska Fairbanks shows the percentage of successful ascents of Mt. Denali every year from 1992 to 2012
23:22 Gary gets a refreshing, mint chocolate chip shake in the AMAZING Freal automatic shake-making machine!!
25:12 Liberty Falls, adjacent to Wrangell-St. Elias National Park
26:18 Acrobatic seals swimming (upside down) inside the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward
27:28 Sea lions spotted on the ranger-guided, 5-hr. Kenai Fjords Wildlife Cruise in Seward's Resurrection Bay
28:28 Waterfall seen on the ranger-guided, 5-hr. Kenai Fjords Wildlife Cruise in Seward's Resurrection Bay
29:01 My cute, little short-tailed weasel friend on the Harding Icefield Trail, Kenai Fjords National Park
29:41 Grizzly bear seen from the Harding Icefield Trail, Kenai Fjords National Park
30:13 Exit Glacier and its runoff, Kenai Fjords National Park
31:12 Salmon leaping up the artificial falls at Bear Creek Weir near Seward Highway Milepost 6.6
34:18 Spawning salmon in Grouse Creek, adjacent to Seward Highway Milepost 8.3
37:15 Salmon leaping up Russian River Falls on the Kenai Peninsula
39:35 Catching HUGE silver salmon from a boat in the Lower Kenai River on the Kenai Peninsula (my half-day fishing trip with "King of the River" fishing guides)
41:00 Young staff at the Alaska Native Heritage Center demonstrate Alaska native games
50:51 Panorama at Flattop Mountain in Chugach State Park, Anchorage
51:23 Picking wild blueberries at Flattop Mountain in Chugach State Park, Anchorage
51:59 Three jumbo jets landing a mere 200 feet above my head at Anchorage International Airport (Wow, SCARY!!)
54:47 Bicycle "Fixit" station alongside bike path in Point Woronzof Park, Anchorage




Sept. 19, 2017 - Hurricane Harvey flood damage

Late last month, Hurricane Harvey hit my hometown hard, with heavy rains and flooding, and some places in the Houston area getting as much as 50 inches (1270 mm) of rainfall. My mom's & sister's houses got hit too, with a foot (~30 cm) of water in their homes. OUCH! frownie

Fortunately, I was able to be there for a short while to help out, but unfortunately it looks like the recovery will take a long time. Here are some pics:

Flooded front yard
Flooded front yard


Flooded den
Flooded den


Residential flood damage debris
Residential flood damage debris

The rest of my Hurricane Harvey flood damage and Houston vacation pics are here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsm962iTe

And here's a short video I filmed Mon. 9/4, riding around with my mom & sister in the Southdale neighborhood (south of Bellaire Blvd. & east of Newcastle St.), one of the hardest hit, flood damaged parts of Bellaire, a suburb of Houston:
https://youtu.be/4buJyuWKbeM?list=UUi7Jxm2NxfM5LCdkpg3Nhxw




Sept. 17, 2017 - Pics of GW's August 2017 Alaska Road Trip

It was a great 15-day trip! Here are 2 of my favorite highlights:

Alaska Arctic Circle
Alaska Arctic Circle, Aug. 23, 2017
Dalton Highway, Latitude 66° 33'


Alaska silver salmon
On Aug. 29, 2017, I caught 2 of these silver salmon in the Lower Kenai River on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula (the daily limit allowed under Alaska fish & game regulations).​

The rest of my nearly 300 Alaska road trip pics are here: Pics of GW's August 2017 Alaska Road Trip




Aug. 13, 2017 - THE BEST LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL TEAM IN JAPAN!

Congrats once again to the Tokyo Kitasuna Little League baseball team (東京北砂リトルリーグ) which will be the 2017 Japan representative in the Little League Baseball World Series for the 6th time, and 3rd time in the last 4 years.

Tokyo Kitasuna defeated Chiba City, 17-0, in the final game of the all-Japan regional tournament that lasted 2 days with 16 teams. Tokyo Kitasuna has already become World Series champs 3 times, having previously won in 2001, 2012, and 2015, and was runner-up in 2007.

Since 1947, Japanese teams have competed 28 times at the Little League Baseball World Series, and have become world champions 10 times, 2nd only to Taiwan, which has won the tourney a remarkable 17 times. Besides Tokyo Kitasuna, Japanese World Series champs include Tokyo Musashi Fuchu in 2013 and 2003, Tokyo Edogawa Minami in 2010, Osaka Hirakata in 1999, Tokyo Chofu in 1976, Wakayama City in 1968, and West Tokyo in 1967.

The 2017 Little League Baseball World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania (tournament bracket) runs Aug. 17-27. Tokyo Kitasuna's first game will be this Friday, Aug. 18 vs. Hills Little League of Sydney, Australia.

Little League Baseball and Softball is the largest youth sports organization in the world, with over 2.5 million participants and 1 million volunteers worldwide.

Go Japan (がんばれ日本)!! smiley

Tokyo Kitasuna 2017 Little League Baseball champs
Tokyo Kitasuna 2017 Little League Baseball champs
(photo credit: llbws.org)

Aug. 27, 2017 update: Japan Wins Little League Baseball World Series Championship!




Aug. 9, 2017 - WHAT COUPLES FIGHT ABOUT ON VACATION

Ha-ha! This reminds me why I enjoy traveling solo... smiley

The Top 10 reasons behind a couple's holiday arguments:

1. Men checking out other women
2. He wants to 'do' something, she wants to lounge
3. Where and what to eat
4. Drinking too much
5. Map reading and other driving rows abroad
6. Packing (he packs too little, she packs too much)
7. Women taking too long to get ready for dinner
8. Spending too much money
9. Getting to the airport in time
10. Currency (how much to get and where to get it)

Source: Daily Mail




Aug. 7, 2017 - Edogawa Fireworks Festival (江戸川花火大会)

On the occasion of having attended last Sat. night the 42nd annual Edogawa Fireworks Festival, I was reminded of this amazing pic taken at the Aug. 3, 2013 Edogawa fireworks show by Facebook friend Andrew Parker, whom I met then at a fireworks viewing party I had the pleasure of attending.

If you're a Facebook user, you can see the other 35 incredible pics taken by Andrew that night in his album here.

The Edogawa fireworks show is one of the largest and most popular in the Tokyo area, and thus a must-see, rewarding diversion from Japan’s ungodly hot and humid summer season. This year’s 75-min. Edogawa fireworks show featured 14,000-plus fireworks, with a new theme every 10 minutes.

Aug. 3, 2013 Edogawa Fireworks pic by Andrew Parker
Aug. 3, 2013 Edogawa Fireworks pic by Andrew Parker
(used with permission)




Aug. 6, 2017 - Japan's latest invention: Non-melting ice cream

Researchers at the Biotherapy Development Research Center in Kanazawa, Japan trying to create a new kind of confectionery with strawberries that were not the right shape to be sold have discovered by accident a way to make non-melting popsicles.

Scientists found out that a polyphenol strawberry extract could be used to stop ice cream from melting, retaining almost the same shape even if exposed to the hot air from a hair dryer.

The "Kanazawa Ice" popsicles first went on sale in Kanazawa in April and are now selling in Osaka and Tokyo as well.

Source: Daily Mail

Japanese non-melting ice cream
Japanese non-melting ice cream
Photo credit: Daily Mail




July 31, 2017 - Houston's famous Beer Can House

The famous Beer Can House in Houston, Texas, covered in 50,000 flattened beer cans, was once the home of John and Mary Milkovisch, who started adding the empty cans in 1968 as a way to provide shade for drinking their afternoon beers.

The Beer Can House is now a historic landmark and is open to the public as a tourist attraction. If you visit my hometown, this is a must-see!! smiley This summer it's open Wednesdays through Sundays from 12 to 5 pm.

Houston's beer can house
Photo credit: The Washington Times




July 28, 2017 - Now THIS is real comedy!

I concede that I'm probably a bit old-fashioned, but compared to all the political silliness that passes for so-called comedy on America's late-night talk shows nowadays, I believe this old skit with Johnny Carson and Jack Webb to be REAL COMEDY. Johnny Carson (1925-2005) was best known for his 30 years as the talk show host of The Tonight Show, and Jack Webb (1920-1982) was most famous for his role as Sergeant Joe Friday in the popular TV series Dragnet.



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


"Cleaning woman Clara Clifford discovered your clean copper clappers, kept in a closet, which were copped by Claude Cooper the kleptomaniac from Cleveland." smiley




July 24, 2017 - Google Street View climbs Mt. Fuji

Want to climb to the top of Japan's tallest mountain without leaving your desk chair? If you've ever wondered what the top of Japan's 3776 m (12,389 ft) Mt. Fuji looks like, Google Maps can now show you. Four years ago this month, Google sent a team up Mt. Fuji to get a "Street View" of the summit.

Using the Street View Trekker backpack device, equipped with a remarkable 15 cameras and carried on the back of team member Jiro Dohi, the Google team was able to capture a full range of 360-degree panoramic imagery from atop the mountain, making its visual treasures available to all for the first time.

They're hoping it will assist climbers who plan to venture up Japan's highest peak by providing a virtual glimpse into how trekkers make their way up the rocky terrain. The Street View collection covers the busiest and most popular Yoshida trail that takes hikers up the mountain, the full walk around the crater at the top, and the quick zigzag descent.

The video below shows the making of the Street View and here is the new 360-degree Street View panorama from the abandoned weather station atop Japan's actual highpoint: http://goo.gl/maps/0o5Ko



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


July 22, 2017 - Texas-style beach sandals!!

You can take the cowboy out of the country, but you can't expect him to get rid of his boots.

Yee hah, ride 'em cowboy!! smiley

Texas-style beach sandals
Texas-style beach sandals




July 16, 2017 - Do Nothing for 2 Minutes

Need to slow down today? Apparently a lot of people do. In 2011 Alex Tew introduced a “fun side project” called Donothingfor2minutes.com. When users clicked on the site, it immediately began a 2-minute countdown while encouraging them to listen to the sound of the waves – and do nothing.

If the mouse or keyboard is touched, a red "try again" message appears and the timer resets. In the first week, the site had over 2 million visitors.

Check it out – it’s a hoot. See if you can do nothing for 2 minutes.




July 9, 2017 - Never a dull moment in Japan!

Touch this bum
Photo courtesy: Facebook friend Dennis Gunn


So then… What am I supposed to do?

"To touch or not to touch.... that is the question." smiley

Only in Japan...




July 5, 2017 - Creation Calls -- are you listening?

Absolutely stunning footage from the BBC Planet Earth Series, set to Brian Doerksen's song, "Creation Calls," and celebrating the wonder and majesty of God's creations.

It's like taking a trip around the world in just a few minutes. I believe I'll watch this the first thing every morning to start off the day...



Creation Calls -- are you listening?
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)








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Website Updates

Nov 18, 2017

My President Richard Nixon mask

Last week my longtime friend and former coworker Tom Kilbride (far right in the pic below) sent me this amazing reminder of a very fun Halloween party we had 30+ years ago at our former employer, Success Motivation Institute, in Waco, Texas.

WOW! As I told Tom, and as my college roomies can surely confirm,...

(Click link to read more & to see pic.)

Continue reading "My President Richard Nixon mask"

Nov 18, 2017

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 12, 2017

Similar twins? Japan and New Zealand

I have not been to New Zealand. But even when I was small, and a global map was seen, I thought New Zealand resembles Japan. It was the time when I was

Continue reading "Similar twins? Japan and New Zealand"

Nov 11, 2017

Superstar international goodwill ambassador Arabella Kushner

This is without question of the cutest things I think I've ever seen.

While Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan welcomed President Donald Trump & first lady Melania Trump at Beijing's Forbidden City on Wednesday Nov. 8, on a tablet computer, Pres. Trump showed Xi and Peng video clips of his 6-year-old granddaughter, Arabella Kushner, singing in Mandarin and reciting part of the Three-Character Classic and several ancient Chinese poems...

(Click link to view viral video.)

Continue reading "Superstar international goodwill ambassador Arabella Kushner"

Nov 08, 2017

Climbing Mt. Fuji - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

The most frequently asked questions about climbing Mt. Fuji, including info on routes, maps, videos, transport access, traffic stats, weather, and climber stories.

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

Nov 08, 2017

Gary J. Wolff (in Tokyo, Japan)

Longtime Tokyo resident Gary Joe Wolff shares his uniquely American perspective of Japan's fascinating culture, including regular photographic updates.

Continue reading "Gary J. Wolff (in Tokyo, Japan)"

Nov 03, 2017

Houston Astros -- World Series Champions!

THEY DID IT! My most heartfelt congrats to the 2017 World Series Champion Houston Astros! I'm now on Cloud 9, as are millions of other fans in my hometown, America's 4th largest city. YAY! :-)

(Click link to view picture of HUGE headlines on the front page of the Houston Chronicle newspaper.)

Continue reading "Houston Astros -- World Series Champions!"

Oct 27, 2017

Go Astros!​ :-)

​After the World Series start​ed on Tuesday​,​ I had a panic attack when I realized I no longer had ​a Houston Astros ​baseball​ cap​ ​in my home. Because I wanted to wear one to support my hometown team, on Thursday night I purchased ​a new ​cap at the ​"Selection​"​ American sporting good​s​ shop in Shinjuku.

Before leaving​,​ the shop staff asked if he could take my picture wearing my new cap and I said ​"Of course.​" He then gave me the shop's business card...

(Click link to see pic of my new Astros cap!)

Continue reading "Go Astros!​ :-)"

Oct 24, 2017

Diamond Fuji Viewing Spots, Dates, and Times in Tokyo

A listing of the best high-rise spots in Tokyo to view Diamond Fuji with recommended dates, sunset times, admission fees, and links to Google maps.

Continue reading "Diamond Fuji Viewing Spots, Dates, and Times in Tokyo"

Oct 24, 2017

Quote of the Day

"Don't complain. Eighty percent of the people you complain to don't care and the other 20 percent are glad you have problems."

--Legendary college football coach Lou Holtz--

Continue reading "Quote of the Day"

Oct 24, 2017

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"

Oct 24, 2017

Strongest Ever Japan Earthquake and Tsunami

The latest news updates about the strongest ever Japan earthquake and tsunami on Mar. 11, 2011, including maps, photos, and videos.

Continue reading "Strongest Ever Japan Earthquake and Tsunami"

Oct 22, 2017

Glow-in-the-dark ceiling stars!

My glow-in-the-dark ceiling star project is now nearly complete. While taking a break from helping my family recover from Hurricane Harvey last month, I slipped over to Houston's Museum of Natural Science gift shop one day to pick up a pack of 60 glow-in-the-dark mini-stars for only $6.95.

I really like this method of stargazing… no mosquitoes, rainouts, bears, or snakes. smiley I've been a big fan of the sky since I earned the Boy Scout ​Astronomy merit badge at age 13​, thanks to our wonderful scoutmaster Paul Caillet...

(Clink link to read more and to see photo of my ceiling stars.)

Continue reading "Glow-in-the-dark ceiling stars!"

Oct 14, 2017

Cook Islands Travel

Pics, video, map, & more of my Feb. 2014 Cook Islands travel, including the Rarotonga Punanga Nui Market, Cross-Island Track, & Maire Nui Gardens.

Continue reading "Cook Islands Travel"

Oct 14, 2017

Strongest Ever Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, News updates for April 9-15, 2011

April 9-15, 2011 news updates for the strongest ever Japan earthquake and tsunami on Mar. 11, 2011, including maps, photos, and videos.

Continue reading "Strongest Ever Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, News updates for April 9-15, 2011"





Summer 1974 hitchhiking trip ebook cover
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new Climbing Mt. Fuji book
eBook price just dropped to only $2.99 at Amazon!




eBook price just dropped to only $2.99 at Amazon!

 


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