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Home: Gary J. Wolff's Blog: Gary J. Wolff's Blog Archives, April-June, 2012

Gary J. Wolff's Blog Archives
April-June, 2012

This page shows archived posts for Gary J. Wolff's blog from April-June, 2012.



June 23, 2012 - Japanese Hydrangeas (アジサイ)

Something tells me it's hydrangea season in Tokyo.  smiley  The pics linked below were taken in the Tokyo, Japan metroplex between June 17-23, 2012.

Click here to view all pics at a glance in a separate window.

June 21, 2012 - Tokyo singer Greg Irwin performs @ the Symphony Salon in Roppongi (Tokyo, Japan)

I had the pleasure of catching one of my favorite Tokyo singers, Greg Irwin, last Friday night June 15 in a 30-minute live concert. My favorite song, "What a Wonderful World," starts @ the 21:45 mark...

                           (View in separate window here.)

June 13, 2012 - World's Largest McDonald's in London, England

The world's largest McDonald's at the 2012 London Olympic games starting next month is 3,000 square-meters large (that's about 32,300 square feet) and about half the length of a football field. It'll be staffed by 2,000 people, who are estimated to serve more than 50,000 Big Macs and 180,000 servings of French fries during the 6-week event. And there'll be seating for 1,500 at a time. I have my own name for it: "Cholesterol City"  smiley

World's largest McDonald's
                               World's largest McDonald's
                                 (Source: Huffington Post)

June 9, 2012 - 31st Annual Koiwa Iris Garden Festival (第31回小岩菖蒲園まつり), June 3-24, 2012

View all pics at a glance in a separate window here.

June 4, 2012 - Japanese university ESS (English Speaking Society) speech contest

On May 20, 2012 I was honored to be a judge in this Japanese university ESS (English Speaking Society) speech contest.

View all pics at a glance in a separate window here.

May 29, 2012 - Japanese apple vending machine

Even after 2 decades, one of the joys of living in Japan are the pleasant surprises that pop up unexpectedly on occasion. Today's surprise was discovering a subway platform vending machine offering fresh, sliced Fuji apples from Aomori Prefecture, the #1 apple growing region in Japan. The 80g (2.8 oz) packs, with or without skins, sell for 190 yen ($2.40).

Japanese apple vending machine
                  Japanese apple vending machine

May 26, 2012 - Satomi Koen Rose Festival (里見公園ローズ祭り)

                        View video in separate window here.

May 21, 2012 - Annular Solar Eclipse Live Broadcast, Mt. Fuji, Japan, 7:30 am, Mon. May 21, 2012

FILMING THE SUN, USING THE SUN: Early morning on May 21, 2012, Japan experienced its first annular solar eclipse in 25 years. Panasonic broadcast the solar eclipse live from the top of Mt. Fuji at 3,776 meters high, a symbol of Japan and the closest spot to the sun in the country. All equipment used for this live broadcast was powered completely by solar energy. A climbing expedition scaled the mountain, shouldering high-capacity rechargeable batteries.

The annular solar eclipse was filmed and broadcast to the world using power from the sun. An epic project that joins the forces of the sun and humankind. Although it was cloudy atop Fuji-san, below are some screenshots from Panasonic's live streaming broadcast from Wakayama Prefecture:

View all pics at a glance in separate window here.


May 18, 2012 - Today's Hailstorm in Western Tokyo

Today while eating my juicy chicken filet-o sandwich (ジューシーチキンフィレオ, a new menu item @ Mickey D (マクドナルド) starting today), I suddenly started hearing thunder and then it started raining so hard, I could see thru the windows that large green leaves were being completed stripped off the trees. I thought, "My, THAT'S strange." Well, it wasn't until after I left the restaurant that I noticed all the patches of hail accumulated in such quantities that, as you can see in the pics, it looked like it had snowed. In Texas we sometimes have softball-size hail that damages rooftops, cars, and even kills people & livestock. Scary stuff, especially when you consider that hail oftentimes accompanies tornadoes. No telling what was happening up there in the atmosphere today, but I can't help but feel I dodged a bullet.

    (Click the 3 thumbnails above to view larger images.)

May 13, 2012 - NASA's Space Shuttle Columbia (スペースシャトルコロンビア) is found alive and TOKYO!

Just when I thought that all of NASA's space shuttles had been retired, then while out on my bike the other day, I found Space Shuttle Columbia (スペースシャトルコロンビア) parked on the rooftop of a Tokyo kindergarten, disguised as a piece of children's playground equipment.  smiley

Space Shuttle Columbia in Tokyo
                  Space Shuttle Columbia in Tokyo

May 6, 2012 - Shaquille O'Neal awarded doctorate

Dr. Shaquille O'Neal Photo courtesy: Barry University
‎"Too many young kids — particularly black kids — are still dropping out of school way too early. This country will never compete globally when nearly one in four kids fails to complete high school on time. Education matters. It instills self-discipline. It exposes a person to a world of shared knowledge. It forces us to stay attuned to current events. And most important, it helps each of us understand how and where we fit into this world. If there's one thing I hope people take from this personal milestone, it's that education matters for your entire life. A degree, whether high school or doctoral, is not a finish line; it's simply a mile-marker. My learning will continue. I want others to come along for the ride."

--Dr. Shaquille "Shaq" O'Neal, retired 15-time NBA all-star and member of four championship teams, reflecting on his doctorate in education degree received on Saturday--

(Sources: USA Today, UPI)

May 5, 2012 - HAPPY CINCO DE MAYO (May 5th)!!

Battle of PueblaSource: Wikipedia
On this day 150 years ago in May 1862, a Texan saved Mexico from the French and helped create a Mexican holiday. Born in Texas near Goliad in 1829, General Ignacio Zaragoza was ordered to defend Mexico from French invaders on May 5, 1862 in Puebla, near Mexico City. Napoleon III’s army had seized Veracruz and was on the march. Outnumbered and ill-equipped, Zaragoza defeated the French in a monumental daylong battle. The French went on to seize Mexico City, but Zaragoza’s battle on May 5th allowed Mexico to survive. By 1867 Emperor Maximilian was overthrown and Mexican independence was restored. THIS WEEK IN TEXAS HISTORY is a 60-second, weekly radio spot that shines a light on the little-known stories that made Texas great. It is brought to you by the "SAVE TEXAS HISTORY PROGRAM" of the Texas General Land Office.

May 2, 2012 - Tsunami-swept Harley in container found in Canada

Japan tsunami Harley-DavidsonPhoto credit: Peter Mark, AP
A Harley-Davidson motorbike washed ashore on Graham Island in western Canada. Japanese media say the motorcycle lost in last year's tsunami washed up on the island about 4,000 miles away. The rusted bike was originally found in a large white container where its owner, Ikuo Yokoyama, had kept it. Yokoyama, who lost three members of his family & his home in the March 11, 2011 tsunami & is now living in temporary housing in Miyagi Prefecture, was located through the license plate number.

The Harley-Davidson company, after hearing the story, has agreed to ship the bike back to Japan and cover the bill for restoring the two-wheeler to its past glory.

This heartwarming, true story about a disaster-stricken man being reunited with his long lost Harley-Davidson has made the rounds on the Internet and tugged at the heartstrings of Japanese Internet users in particular.

There has been an outpouring of respect and admiration for Harley-Davidson’s promise, with some readers pointing to it as an example of “the American way.” One went so far as to say that this kind of generosity is not possible in Japan. He wrote: “This is why Harley is so great. Japanese “monozukuri” companies that assemble by the numbers couldn’t do this.”

Sources: Associated Press, Japan Today

April 29, 2012 - Japanese windmill house (風車の家)

While out on my mountain bike today, the highlight of the day was to run across an elderly lady's home adorned by an uncountable number of handmade windmills (kazaguruma, 風車). As you can see in the video below, most of these windmills are made from aluminum drink cans and PET bottles. According to the nice lady, making these amazing windmills is her son's hobby.

                      (View video in separate window here.)

April 28, 2012 - Koinobori (鯉幟, carp streamers) along the Edo River (江戸川) in Tokyo

It's that time of year in Japan again....GOLDEN WEEK!! To celebrate Children's Day (こどもの日, Kodomo no hi), May 5, one of the 4 national holidays during this week-long holiday period, "koinobori (鯉幟)," or carp streamers, are flown around the country in honor of Japanese children in the hope that they will grow up healthy, strong, & happy. A few days ago I had the good fortune of capturing on my digicame these flying carp along the banks of the Edo River (江戸川) on what was probably the most beautiful day in Tokyo so far this year.

                           (View in separate window here.)

April 25, 2012 -The University of Texas at Austin approves tobacco-free campus policy

UT Austin logo
It's official. The University of Texas at Austin is tobacco-free. The University of Texas System has approved a tobacco-free campus policy effective April 9, 2012 which prohibits use of any tobacco products in university buildings and on university grounds within the state of Texas, including parking areas, sidewalks, walkways, attached parking structures, and university owned buildings.

April 23, 2012 - Beijing Auto Show 2012

Beijing Auto Show
                        Source: Wall Street Journal

Chrysler unveiled its dragon-themed Jeep Wrangler concept car in Beijing on Sunday. 


Maxine's Universal Laws of NatureMaxine
1. Law of Gravity - Any tool, nut, bolt, or screw, when dropped, will roll to the least accessible corner.
2. Law of Probability - The probability of being watched is directly proportional to the stupidity of your act.
3. Law of Random Numbers - If you dial a wrong number, you never get a busy signal and someone always answers.
4. Law of Mechanical Repair - After your hands become coated with grease, your nose will begin to itch and you'll have to pee.
5. Variation Law - If you change lines (or traffic lanes), the one you were in will always move faster than the one you are in now (works every time).
6. Law of the Bath - When the body is fully immersed in water, the telephone rings.
7. Law of Close Encounters - The probability of meeting someone you know increases dramatically when you are with someone you don't want to be seen with.
8. Law of the Result - When you try to prove to someone that a machine won't work, it will.
9. Law of Biomechanics - The severity of the itch is inversely proportional to the reach.
10. Law of the Theater & Hockey Arena - At any event, the people whose seats are farthest from the aisle, always arrive last. They are the ones who will leave their seats several times to go for food, beer, or the toilet and who leave early before the end of the performance or the game is over. The folks in the aisle seats come early, never move once, have long gangly legs or big bellies and stay to the bitter end of the performance. The aisle people also are very surly folk.
11. The Coffee Law - As soon as you sit down to a cup of hot coffee, your boss will ask you to do something which will last until the coffee is cold.
12. Murphy's Law of Lockers - If there are only 2 people in a locker room, they will have adjacent lockers.
13. Law of Physical Surfaces - The chances of an open-faced jelly sandwich landing face down on a floor, are directly correlated to the newness and cost of the carpet or rug.
14. Law of Logical Argument - Anything is possible if you don't know what you are talking about.
15. Brown's Law of Physical Appearance - If the clothes fit, they're ugly.
16. Oliver's Law of Public Speaking - A closed mouth gathers no feet.
17. Wilson's Law of Commercial Marketing Strategy - As soon as you find a product that you really like, they will stop making it (especially in Japan!).
18. Doctor's Law - If you don't feel well and make an appointment to go to the doctor, by the time you get there you'll feel better. But if you don't make an appointment, you'll stay sick.

April 19, 2012 - Japanese man turns 115

Born to Win115-yr.-old Jiroemon Kimura
Happy 115th Birthday to Jiroemon Kimura (木村 次郎右衛門), the world's oldest living man. Born April 19, 1897, Kimura is a resident of Kyōtango, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan, and still lives a health conscious and active lifestyle. He has 5 children, 14 grandchildren, 25 great-grandchildren, and 11 great-great-grandchildren.

April 17, 2012 - The World's Greatest Piggyback Ride

After 27 yrs. of service, Space Shuttle Discovery, the world's most traveled spaceship, left NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Tuesday, April 17, 2012 aboard a modified Boeing 747, on its final voyage to go on public display at the Smithsonian Institute's National Air and Space Museum outside Washington, D.C. Space Shuttles Enterprise & Endeavour will receive similar piggyback rides to New York City & Los Angeles, respectively. Space Shuttle Atlantis will remain at the Kennedy Space Center for display in the visitor center. I have been profoundly touched by this spacecraft thru the years and last year prepared a special webpage about it here: Space Shuttle Discovery

                         (View in separate window here.)

April 14, 2012 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Season 2012

Click here to view my cherry blossom pics taken @ Chidorigafuchi, Tokyo, Japan on Tues. April 10, 2012.

April 7, 2012 - 56 Draft Beers Filled In One Minute

This amazing "bottoms up" beer dispenser is designed and fabricated by GrinOn Industries of Indianapolis, Indiana. So much for the long lines at sports stadiums...

                        (View video in separate window here)

April 5, 2012 - Japanese "high-jumper" (ハイジャンパー)

This interesting piece of Japanese playground equipment is known as a "high-jumper" (ハイジャンパー), to measure how high you can jump up and touch. The little numbers range from 210-280 & indicate height in cm, e.g. the red "225" represents 2.25 m (~7 ft. 5 in.). Only in Japan... smiley

Japanese high jumper

April 3, 2012 - Crooner Panama Pete sings his favorite ballads

It was kind of an off day for him, and some of the requested songs were out of his range, but he did his best to accommodate his loyal fans...  smiley

                       (View video in separate window here)

Cue marks (in min.):
0:00 "Something" by The Beatles
3:05 "Love Letters in the Sand" by Pat Boone
5:25 "Blueberry Hill" by Fats Domino
7:50 "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" by The Platters
10:25 "Can't Help Falling in Love" by Elvis Presley
13:25 "Your Song" by Elton John
17:30 "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" by Elton John
21:30 "Open Arms" by Journey
24:50 "If" by Bread
27:30 "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away" by The Beatles
29:50 "Everything I Do, I Do It For You" by Bryan Adams

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