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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.


Oct. 14, 2018 - Yale University's most-popular-ever "Happiness 101" course now available online for free

In the Spring 2018 semeseter at Yale University, approximately 1200 students, or 1 in 4 undergrads, enrolled in Psychology professor Dr. Laurie Santos' class named "Psychology and the Good Life." That’s the largest enrollment ever reported for a single class in Yale’s 317-year history.

Now an expanded online version of the course called "The Science of Well-Being" is available for free at Coursera. Here's part of the course description:

"The purpose of the course is to not only learn what psychological research says about what makes us happy, but also to put those strategies into practice. The first part of the course reveals misconceptions we have about happiness and the annoying features of the mind that lead us to think the way we do. The next part of the course focuses on activities that have been proven to increase happiness along with strategies to build better habits. The last part of the course gives learners time, tips, and social support to work on the final assignment which asks learners to apply one wellness activity aka "Rewirement" into their lives for 4 weeks."

The free online course doesn’t include all the assignments and class materials (available for a $49 tuition fee), but gives you complete access to all the lectures.

I've been keenly interested in this topic of "positive psychology," ever since last year viewing psychologist and Harvard professor Shawn Achor's May 2011 TEDx talk, "The happy secret to better work," one of TED's 25 most popular talks of all time, now viewed a remarkable 18.4 million times.




Sept. 28, 2018 - Busy, busy Pacific typhoon season!!

As Japan now awaits the approach of yet another typhoon (Typhoon Trami, 台風24号, the 5th super typhoon of 2018), it continues to be a busy, busy Pacific typhoon season so far this year.

According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, there have already been 36 tropical cyclones this year, with 10 of them developing into typhoons. And there are still 2 more months left in the 6-month Western and Central Pacific's typhoon season which runs from June 1 to November 30.

2018 Northwestern Pacific typhoon storm tracks
2018 Northwestern Pacific typhoon storm tracks
(Image credit: Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency Earth Observation Research Center)




Sept. 21, 2018 - Attentive, studious, conscientious Japanese university students...

...eagerly hang onto every word of their professor's intellectually stimulating lecture. smiley

Japanese university students

And how about the stunningly gorgeous, exposed structural support decor to provide an aesthetically pleasing learning environment in this brand new science & technology building which opened just this week?! laughing icon




Sept. 16, 2018 - GW's Sept. 2018 Houston vacation video

Don't miss the kaitenzushi, the English lesson on how to talk "Texan," & the cute hummingbirds!


GW's Sept. 2018 Houston vacation
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)

0:00 Landing at Houston Bush Intercontinental Airport
4:34 Conveyor-belt sushi bar (kaitenzushi, 回転寿司) next to ice skating rink in Galleria shopping mall
5:11 Tractor driver JW shovels cleared brush onto bonfire on Windlinger Ranch in Kerrville
6:39 Steve gives quick English lesson on how to talk "Texan" smiley
7:23 BUSY, BUSY hummingbirds enjoy hummingbird feeder
12:09 Yoga instructor Willie conducts free session for 17 participants
13:24 JP's famous Texas BBQ
14:15 Notre Dame Catholic Church, Kerrville, Texas
14:17 Landing at Tokyo Narita Airport




Sept. 15, 2018 - GW's Sept. 2018 Houston vacation pics

It was a grrrrreat vacation. This trip was especially meaningful as I got to see SO many of my family and friends, including at the annual get-together on my friends' 263-acre Kerrville ranch, as well as a reunion of my old college roomies in Austin, one which I hadn't seen in nearly 40 years! I hope you enjoy the pics, hosted by Flickr.

My video will be coming shortly...

Sept. 2018 vacation collage
Click collage above to view entire album at Flickr.




Aug. 27, 2018 - 8 Types of People at the Grocery Store

I just LOVE this! Believe me, I've seen ALL 8 types, and I've been a few of the types myself... smiley



8 Types of People at the Grocery Store
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)




Aug. 26, 2018 - FutawaACE (Afternoon Club of English)

​Yesterday I was invited back by the FutawaACE (Afternoon Club of English) in Funabashi, Chiba as a guest speaker. My topic this time was GW's August 2017 Alaska Adventure.

As part of my talk, I thought it would be fun to put together a short, 2-min. animated slideshow of my favorite pics from that amazing 2-week vacation, using the "Memories" feature in the iOS Photos app.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I believe they did. smiley



Photo Highlights of GW's August 2017 Alaska Adventure
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)

Highlights of GW's August 2017 Alaska Adventure include ​hiking in and exploring Denali National Park for 4 days, a day trip to the Arctic Circle, a visit to the famous Chena Hot Springs, sitting on Santa's lap at the North Pole, seeing Wrangell-St. Elias National Park (America's largest), a 5-hour ranger-guided wildlife boat cruise in Seward, and most notably, catching 2 HUGE silver salmon in the Lower Kenai River!




Aug. 18, 2018 - Peacock butterfly (クジャクチョウ)

Life is full of pleasant surprises! It wasn't until just a couple days ago when for the very first time I was introduced to the beautiful peacock butterfly (クジャクチョウ, kujakuchou).

The peacock butterfly is commonly found in Europe and temperate Asia as far east as Japan. Its 4 large peacock-style eyespots have been the subject of extensive research in their role as an anti-predator defense mechanism.

The one below was captured by Facebook & hiking friend Danny Soh at elev. 2,000 m (~656 ft) in Nagano Prefecture (長野県). WOW, thanks for sharing, Danny!

Can't wait to see one with my own eyes!! smiley

peacock butterfly by Danny Soh
Peacock butterfly, taken by Danny Soh




Aug. 13, 2018 - USA victorious in Women's Softball World Championship

"USA repeated as Women's Softball World Champions today in Chiba, Japan, after a memorable finale against the host team, in front of almost 12,000 fans at ZOZO Marine Stadium. The American team defeated Japan, 7-6, on a walkoff single by Kelsey Stewart in the 10th inning, and went undefeated in the tournament. USA also secured a berth in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

It was one of the best softball games in the history of the World Championship. The best 2 teams in the world clashed in a classic battle, that will last forever in the memory of thousands present at the stadium, and millions watching around the world."

Source: https://wswc.wbsc.org/news/usa-wins-softball-world-championship

And I was there to see it with my own eyes!! Yee hah! smiley

USA Women's Softball World Champions
USA women's softball team celebrates repeating as World Champions on Sun. Aug. 12, 2018 in ZOZO Marine Staduim in Chiba, Japan, as losing pitcher Japan ace Yukiko Ueno looks on in disbelief
(photo credit: World Baseball Softball Confederation)

Don't miss the VERY exciting final play at the 39:00 mark in my video, the game-winning single by Kelsey Stewart with 2 outs and 2 strikes in the bottom of the 10th inning. Wow, how about those jubilant USA players who piled on top of their hero between 1st & 2nd base, forming a mountain of joy?! smiley




Aug. 5, 2018 - Free yukatas for Gaijin!

Today's USA vs. New Zealand women's softball world championship game coincided with Narashino City's Obon Matsuri, so Gaijin got free yukatas! Wow.

Plus, USA beat New Zealand 7-0, and thus along with Japan & Puerto Rico are still undefeated after 4 games in the 2018 Women's Softball World Championship. Today was my lucky day (twice)!! Yee hah! smiley

free yukata, 2018 Women's Softball World Championship
Free yukatas, Akitsu Stadium, Narashino City, Chiba, Japan
2018 Women's Softball World Championship




July 31, 2018 - New Zealand vs. Italy Women's Softball Game, 10 am, July 30, 2018

This exhibition game played at Konodai Baseball Stadium in Ichikawa, Chiba, Japan paired these 2 countries' national women's softball teams in advance of the 2018 Women's Softball World Championship to be held in Chiba, Japan from Aug. 2-12. New Zealand, the Visitors, is in black; Italy, the Home Team, is in blue.
New Zealand starting pitcher: Courtney Gettins
Italy starting pitcher: Greta Cecchetti
Final score: New Zealand 4, Italy 3

Don't miss the New Zealand team performing the Haka traditional Maori war cry at the 4:54 mark!! smiley


New Zealand vs. Italy Women's Softball Game, 10 am, July 30, 2018
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)

0:00 Ballpark entrance banner
0:06 Panorama of softball field and New Zealand batting practice
1:06 New Zealand hurlers warming up
2:09 Pre-game coach & umpire conference
2:42 Intro of New Zealand starting lineup
4:54 New Zealand team performs Haka traditional Maori war cry
6:36 Top of the 1st inning (beginning of game)
13:47 Bottom of the 1st inning
16:53 Top of the 2nd inning
25:25 Bottom of the 2nd inning
28:03 Top of the 4th (the Kiwis scored all 4 of their runs this inning)
38:18 Top of the 5th inning
40:21 Bottom of the 5th inning (new New Zealand southpaw relief pitcher Rita Hokianga)
41:46 Top of the 6th inning (new Italy southpaw relief pitcher Alice Nicolini)
47:44 Bottom of the 6th inning
56:32 Bottom of the 9th inning (end of game)




July 29, 2018 - School's Out For Summer

In celebration of my spring semester finishing yesterday, I'm playing this Alice Cooper hit from 1972 almost non-stop. 16 classes of over 400 university students on a 6-days-a-week teaching schedule have seriously kicked my butt, in what was probably the busiest I've ever been in my 6-decade-plus lifespan. Whoo, I'm now breathing a big TEXAS-size sigh of relief. School's Out For Summer!! smiley



School's Out For Summer, Alice Cooper, 1972
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)




July 22, 2018 - Texas Exes, Japan Chapter, 2018 Annual Meeting

Last month, for the first time in nearly 20 years, I had the pleasure of attending the annual meeting of the Japan Chapter of The University of Texas at Austin Ex-Students Association. At one time, the Japan Texas Exes was the largest overseas UT alumni club in the world.

The meeting is always held in Tokyo in June, when current students, who are home for the summer break, can meet those of us who graduated up to a remarkable half-century ago.

It's always a fun time for my alma mater's alumni, as well as new and prospective Japanese students, to socialize and reminisce about memories of our days on the UT Austin campus. This year I met business owners, professional engineers, fellow professors, and even a former neurosurgeon at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Research Center in my hometown Houston.

I still remember one Texas Exes meeting several years ago, when I saw a guy who, like me, was also studying civil engineering at the time and whom I often saw doing research in the concrete lab. This gentleman went on to earn his PhD and was working with the Honshu-Shikoku Bridge Authority at the time we reconnected. What an amazing coincidence!

 Texas Exes Japan, Tokyo, June 9, 2018
Texas Exes Japan, Tokyo, June 9, 2018




July 15, 2018 - Death toll from torrential rain reaches 210

As of 8:30 pm Sun. 7/15, here are the latest stats on the record flooding and landslide devastation in western Japan:

- 210 deaths
- 22 people still missing
- 4,800 people in 14 prefectures staying at evacuation shelters
- more than 162,000 households still without running water

And yesterday it was reported that 8,100 landlines and Internet connections were cut off. 

The Japanese Red Cross Society and the Central Community Chest of Japan are both organizing cash grants and support funds for the affected people in western Japan.

If you'd like to help out the disaster victims, please click the links below:

http://www.jrc.or.jp/english/relief/180712_005348.html

https://www.akaihane.or.jp/english/2018disaster/



Pray for Japan!
Please pray for Japan!




July 8, 2018 - When it rains, it pours!!

As of 6 pm Sunday, July 8, 69 people in western Japan are dead and 6 remain in critical condition from flooding and landslides, with at least 62 missing.

Hiroshima Prefecture was the hardest hit with 29 fatalities, and 20 were killed in Ehime Prefecture.

Fatalities were also reported in Okayama, Hyogo, Kyoto, Shiga, Fukuoka, Kochi, Gifu, Yamaguchi, and Saga prefectures.

Some cities and towns have received more rainfall in 1 day than they usually receive in an entire month. Rainfall totals of over 100 mm (~4 in.) in 1 hour, over 600 mm (~24 in.) in 24 hours, and over 1000 mm (~40 in.) over the past few days have been recorded.

Japan rainy season as of 18.7.7
Western Japan 24-hour rainfall totals, as of 6:20 am, Sat. July 7, 2018
(red bars indicate >100 mm (3.9 in.), the tallest one (551 mm) belonging to Motoyama, Kōchi)
(Source: http://www3.nhk.or.jp/weather/rain/index.html#ko=nk;)




July 2, 2018 - Mt. Fuji climbing season starts (山開き)!!

Climbers celebrate with banzai cheers at the summit of Mt. Fuji, with the rising sun in the background at 4:29 a.m. on July 1, 2018.

Fujisan opening day - July 1, 2018
(photo credit: Hiroshi Kawai, asahi.com)

For the most frequently asked questions about climbing Mt. Fuji, including info on routes, maps, videos, transport access, traffic stats, weather, and climber stories, please visit Climbing Mt. Fuji (富士山) - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), the most visited page on my entire site.








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Website Updates

Oct 14, 2018

Yale University's most-popular-ever "Happiness 101" course now available online for free

In the Spring 2018 semeseter at Yale University, approximately 1200 students, or 1 in 4 undergrads, enrolled in Psychology professor Dr. Laurie Santos' class named "Psychology and the Good Life." That’s the largest enrollment ever reported for a single class in Yale’s 317-year history.

Now an expanded online version of the course called "The Science of Well-Being" is available for free at Coursera.

The free online course doesn’t include all the assignments and class materials (available for a $49 tuition fee), but gives you complete access to all the lectures.

Continue reading "Yale University's most-popular-ever "Happiness 101" course now available online for free"

Oct 14, 2018

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"

Sep 28, 2018

Busy, busy Pacific typhoon season!!

As Japan now awaits the approach of yet another typhoon (Typhoon Trami, 台風24号, the 5th super typhoon of 2018), it continues to be a busy, busy Pacific typhoon season so far this year.

According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, there have already been 36 tropical cyclones this year, with 10 of them developing into typhoons. And there are still 2 more months left in the 6-month Western and Central Pacific's typhoon season which runs from June 1 to November 30.

(click link to view 2018 typhoon storm track map)

Continue reading "Busy, busy Pacific typhoon season!!"

Sep 25, 2018

Mt. Shirouma-dake (白馬岳), elev. 2932m, Japan's 26th Highest Mountain

Despite being a relatively easy climb, Mt. Shirouma-dake is without question one of Japan's most dangerous peaks, claiming lives just about every year.

Continue reading "Mt. Shirouma-dake (白馬岳), elev. 2932m, Japan's 26th Highest Mountain"

Sep 21, 2018

Attentive, studious, conscientious Japanese university students...

...eagerly hang onto every word of their professor's intellectually stimulating lecture. :-) And how about the stunningly gorgeous, exposed structural support elements to provide an aesthetically pleasing learning environment in this brand new science & technology building which opened just this week?!

(click link to view pic)

Continue reading "Attentive, studious, conscientious Japanese university students..."

Sep 18, 2018

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"

Sep 18, 2018

Mt. Jonen-dake (常念岳), elev. 2857m, Japan's 45th Highest Mountain

Mt. Jonen-dake was one of the last peaks I climbed on my list of the highest mountains in Japan, and one of the easiest and most accessible of all of them.

Continue reading "Mt. Jonen-dake (常念岳), elev. 2857m, Japan's 45th Highest Mountain"

Sep 18, 2018

What's the temperature like in October on the peak of Mt. Jonen-dake??

Hello! I love reading your website, but i have a question - what is the temperature like in October on the peak of Jonen? I'm planning on camping outside,

Continue reading "What's the temperature like in October on the peak of Mt. Jonen-dake??"

Sep 15, 2018

GW's Sept. 2018 Houston vacation video

Don't miss the conveyor-belt sushi bar, the English lesson on how to talk "Texan," & the cute hummingbirds!

(click link to view video)

Continue reading "GW's Sept. 2018 Houston vacation video"

Sep 15, 2018

Houston vacation - Sept. 2018 pics

It was a grrrrreat vacation. This trip was especially meaningful as I got to see SO many of my family and friends, including at the annual get-together on my friends' 263-acre Kerrville ranch, as well as a reunion of my old college roomies in Austin, one which I hadn't seen in nearly 40 years! I hope you enjoy the pics, hosted by Flickr.

My video will be coming shortly...

(Click link to view pics.)

Continue reading "Houston vacation - Sept. 2018 pics"

Sep 06, 2018

Is it safe to climb Mt. Fuji on 17th/18th September?

Hi Gary, I love your website and all the wonderful information and advice offered. From your experience, how risky would it be to climb Fuji over the 17th/18th

Continue reading "Is it safe to climb Mt. Fuji on 17th/18th September?"

Sep 03, 2018

Are there coin lockers at Kofu Station for storing our suitcases?

Hello, I will go in Nagoya next week. My plane land on saturday 8th of sepetmber. ANd I take off from Tokyo on the 18th of september. However, I would

Continue reading "Are there coin lockers at Kofu Station for storing our suitcases?"

Sep 01, 2018

Can I go up Subashiri trail and go down Fujinomiya trail?

...and get all stamping huts for my sticks on both trails and then technically do the same for Yoshida trail by going up that and going down the Gotemba

Continue reading "Can I go up Subashiri trail and go down Fujinomiya trail?"

Aug 28, 2018

USA victorious in Women's Softball World Championship

"USA repeated as Women's Softball World Champions today in Chiba, Japan, after a memorable finale against the host team, in front of almost 12,000 fans at ZOZO Marine Stadium. The American team defeated Japan, 7-6, on a walkoff single by Kelsey Stewart in the 10th inning, and went undefeated in the tournament. USA also secured a berth in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

It was one of the best softball games in the history of the World Championship. The best 2 teams in the world clashed in a classic battle, that will last forever in the memory of thousands present at the stadium, and millions watching around the world."

And I was there to see it with my own eyes!! Yee hah! :-)

Don't miss the VERY exciting final play at the 39:00 mark in my video, the game-winning single by Kelsey Stewart with 2 outs and 2 strikes in the bottom of the 10th inning. Wow, how about those jubilant USA players who piled on top of their hero between 1st & 2nd base, forming a mountain of joy?! :-)

(click link to see pic of winning USA team)

Continue reading "USA victorious in Women's Softball World Championship"

Aug 27, 2018

8 Types of People at the Grocery Store

I just LOVE this! Believe me, I've seen ALL 8 types, and I've been a few of the types myself... :-)

(click link to view hilarious video!)

Continue reading "8 Types of People at the Grocery Store"





Alaska ebook cover
Now available for only 99¢ at Amazon (¥112 at アマゾン日本)


Summer 1974 hitchhiking trip ebook cover
Only 99¢ at Amazon (¥105 at アマゾン日本)

What's New?

  1. Yale University's most-popular-ever "Happiness 101" course now available online for free

    Oct 14, 18 07:27 AM

    In the Spring 2018 semeseter at Yale University, approximately 1200 students, or 1 in 4 undergrads, enrolled in Psychology professor Dr. Laurie Santos' class named "Psychology and the Good Life." That…

    Read more

  2. Gary J. Wolff's Blog

    Oct 14, 18 07:24 AM

    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.

    Read more

  3. Busy, busy Pacific typhoon season!!

    Sep 28, 18 08:57 AM

    As Japan now awaits the approach of yet another typhoon (Typhoon Trami, 台風24号, the 5th super typhoon of 2018), it continues to be a busy, busy Pacific typhoon season so far this year. According to the…

    Read more









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GW's road trip ebook cover
A free download from Smashwords or for only $0.99 from Amazon (¥114 at
アマゾン日本)




new Climbing Mt. Fuji book
eBook price just dropped to only $2.99 at Amazon! (¥343 at
アマゾン日本)





eBook price just dropped to only $2.99 at Amazon! (¥343 at
アマゾン日本)