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Home: Gary J. Wolff's Blog: Gary J. Wolff's Blog Archives, January-March, 2014

Gary J. Wolff's Blog Archives
January-March, 2014

This page shows archived posts for Gary J. Wolff's blog from January-March, 2014.



Mar. 31, 2014 - Japanese toilet paper "comic strip"

You can imagine my surprise last month while I was taking care of some very important business in a toilet at one of the universities where I teach when I noticed what appeared to be a comic strip printed on the toilet paper I was about to use. smiley

Well, as it turns out, the roll of toilet paper included a (non-stop) series of consumer warning messages to toilet patrons to watch out for consumer scams, like low-quality colored contact lenses, fake fashion brands, malicious smartphone game app downloads, talent street scouts trying to recruit young girls & extract big cash upfront for non-existent modeling jobs, etc.

The other surprising thing was that my students had never seen nor heard of this form of consumer warning messaging either. ONLY in Japan! smiley 

Japanese toilet paper comic strip
Japanese toilet paper "comic strip"

Mar. 28, 2014 - 126 photos pieced together to get a single, stunning full-length image of "The President," the largest tree on God's green Earth

“The President” is the name of a giant sequoia in California's Sequoia National Park, home to some of the largest and most impressive trees in the world.

Here are some amazing facts about "The President." The President is 75 meters (246 ft) tall, taller than a 20-story building! Its circumference is 28 meters (92 ft) at the base, its diameter is 8.2 meters (27 ft), and it's over 3,200 years old.

There are other trees with bigger trunks, but when you total up all of The President's wood, including limbs, branches, and its estimated 2 billion leaves, its 54,000-cubic-foot bio-mass makes The President likely the largest tree in the world!

As a result, The President is so HUGE, it’s impossible to take a pic of it in its entirety. Therefore, a team of photographers from National Geographic worked with scientists from California’s Sequoia National Park to take at least 126 separate photos of it, using specially-mounted cameras on wires & piecing them together into the absolutely stunning, full-length photo shown below. WOW!

Source: Urban Times

Sequoia's The President Tree
Sequoia National Park's "The President" tree
Photo credit:

Mar. 24, 2014 - Expiration date laser printed on eggshells

I can only assume this has been done for several years in several countries (maybe even in Japan), but because I'm usually the last to the party, smiley it wasn't till sometime last year I believe when I first noticed that the "use by" date was being laser printed on each individual egg by some brands in Tokyo. I think this is a brilliant idea, since most egg companies still don't do this, and because I keep my eggs in the little special egg shelf inside my fridge door, the carton itself (which has the expiration date printed on it) is LONG gone by the time I finish off the eggs. smiley

Japanese eggshell expiration date
Japanese eggshell expiration date (Feb. 22, 2014)

Mar. 19, 2014 - The cherry blossom front is coming to Tokyo soon!

The Japan Weather Association has just issued the latest cherry blossom forecast for 2014, showing the cherry blossom front reaching Tokyo around Mar. 28, 5 days later than average. Can't wait!

2014 Japan cherry blossom front map
Map of 2014 Japan cherry blossom front
(Source: Japan Weather Association)

Mar. 12, 2014 - My Cook Islands Travel page

Well, I FINALLY got a Round Tuit. I finally finished my Cook Islands webpage. I posted my pics on this page Feb. 24, my video on Feb. 27, and just tonight I finished my page describing in detail the magical 7 days I spent in this gorgeous South Pacific 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 the beautiful South Pacific island nation of the Cook Islands, you might enjoy reading my account, including my pics, video, & map. I was very touched by the unbelievable hospitality of the wonderful Cook Islanders! To read more, click here: Cook Islands Travel

Rarotonga Beach
Rarotonga beach

Mar. 10, 2014 - Tokyo Joe gets his email read to an international radio audience

I've been an English teacher for way TOO long! Every Sunday night, I like to listen to a (previous) radio broadcast on KSFO in San Francisco by Rabbi Daniel Lapin. Last night I heard the Rabbi make a mistake with his English usage, so I commenced to email him to correct his English pronunciation. In a lighthearted manner, of course! smiley

The Rabbi not only immediately emailed me back with a bunch of ha-ha-ha's, but then he read my email on-air to an international radio audience. I was SO surprised, but how PRESUMPTUOUS of me to lecture a Rabbi! smiley

If you'd like to hear Rabbi Lapin read my email, click here.

Mar. 3, 2014 - Canada's Top Ten List of America's Stupidity

10) Only in America ... could politicians talk about the greed of the rich at a $35,000 a plate campaign fund-raising event.

9) Only in America ... could people claim that the government still discriminates against black Americans when they have a black President, a black Attorney General, and roughly 20% of the federal workforce is black while only 14% of the population is black. 40+% of all federal entitlements go to black Americans,  3X the rate that go to whites & 5X the rate that go to Hispanics!

8) Only in America ... could they have had the two people most responsible for our tax code, Timothy Geithner (the head of the Treasury Department) and Charles Rangel (who once ran the Ways and Means Committee), BOTH turn out to be tax cheats who are in favor of higher taxes.

7) Only in America ... can they have terrorists kill people in the name of Allah and have the media primarily react by fretting that Muslims might be harmed by the backlash.

6) Only in America ... would they make people who want to legally become American citizens wait for years in their home countries and pay tens of thousands of dollars for the privilege, while they discuss letting anyone who sneaks into the country illegally just "magically" become American citizens.

5) Only in America ... could the people who believe in balancing the budget and sticking by the country's Constitution be thought of as "extremists."

4) Only in America ... could you need to present a driver's license to cash a check or buy alcohol, but not to vote.

3) Only in America ... could people demand the government investigate whether oil companies are gouging the public, because the price of gas went up, when the return on equity invested in a major U.S. oil company (Marathon Oil) is less than half of a company making tennis shoes (Nike).

2) Only in America ... could the government collect more tax dollars from the people than any nation in recorded history, still spend a trillion dollars more than it has per year - for total spending of $7 Million PER MINUTE, and complain that it doesn't have nearly enough money.

1) Only in America ... could the rich people - who pay 86% of all income taxes - be accused of not paying their "fair share" by people who don't pay any income taxes at all.

Source: American Family Rights 


Feb. 27, 2014 -  Video from my Feb. 15-22 Cook Islands vacation

It was a magnificent trip and I was blessed to have sampled so much of the amazing Cook Islands culture & beauty. I hope this video helps you catch a quick glimpse of this spectacular South Pacific paradise. Webpage to follow shortly...

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

 0:00 Air New Zealand inflight airshow
 2:06 Stepping off the plane at Rarotonga International Airport
 2:34 74-year-old ukulele player Jake Numanga welcomes tourists
 3:02 Courtyard outside departure counters at Rarotonga Airport
 3:17 Beautiful blue Cook Islands ocean
 3:58 Rarotonga Punanga Nui Sat. morning market
 4:31 Making of a tornado potato
 4:52 Cook Islands children performing their native dances
10:01 Grilling of kebab sticks
10:13 Making of tropical fruit smoothies
12:42 Cook Islands rooster cock-a-doodle-dooing (TWICE)
13:24 Young boys swimming in Avatiu Harbor
14:51 Sat. night party buses
15:43 Singing at Avarua Cook Islands Christian Church, Rarotonga
18:28 Ru & the Boys ukulele band (Dad: Ru, Son: Abraham)
25:18 My electric rental bicycle
26:02 Muri Beach, Rarotonga
26:26 Westbound nighttime takeoff at Rarotonga Airport west end jet blast area
26:59 Rarotonga Cross-Island Track
28:04 Panorama from The Needle (Te Rua Manga)
28:57 Wigmore's Waterfall
29:39 Island Nights dance show at the Edgewater Resort (5 dances)
48:09 Eastbound takeoff at Rarotonga Airport east end jet blast area
48:54 Pacific Resort beach, Rarotonga
49:15 New Zealand girls on beachside rope swing at Koka Lagoon Cruises, Muri Beach
52:06 Eastbound landing at Rarotonga Airport west end jet blast area
52:55 Westbound takeoff at Rarotonga Airport east end jet blast area (I was blown to the ground from the jet blast!)
55:09 Taking off from Rarotonga Airport & bidding farewell to the Cook Islands
56:40 Sunrise from my Bangkok to Tokyo flight

Feb. 24, 2014 -  Pics from my Feb. 15-22 Cook Islands vacation

Here is just a small sample of the 253 pics waiting for you in my Cook Islands album at Flickr. I hope you enjoy seeing some of the sights I was blessed with in this tropical South Pacific paradise! Video and webpage to follow shortly...

 Cook Islands collage
View all 253 Cook Islands pics in my Flickr album here:

Feb. 12, 2014 - Air New Zealand unveils sexy safety video starring Sports Illustrated swimsuit models

Air New Zealand today released to the viewing public its latest inflight safety video "Safety in Paradise" featuring famous Sports Illustrated swimsuit models frolicking on the picture-perfect beach shores of Cook Islands, a 15-island nation in the South Pacific.

Instead of using traditional flight attendants, Air New Zealand's latest inflight safety video features four drop-dead, good-looking Sports Illustrated models to point out how to use the airplane's safety features. Cook Islands natives are also featured in the video, garbed in their traditional outfits.

Partnering with Sports Illustrated, Air New Zealand's sexy video also marks the 50th anniversary of the magazine's famous annual swimsuit issue. These are some gorgeous women! Check it out! smiley

  Air New Zealand's new sexy safety video
(If player above is not visible, you can view video at YouTube here.)

Feb. 9, 2014 - Beatles flashback: 50th anniversary of their 1st appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show

Fifty years ago today on Sun. night, February 9th, 1964, The Beatles invaded America and made their first American television appearance LIVE on The Ed Sullivan Show, setting "Beatlemania" into full motion. I, along with a record setting 73 million other people (most of them screaming girls), tuned in that evening, making it one of the most historic moments in U.S. television history.

I can honestly say that that 1-hr TV show still ranks among the top 5 events in my entire lifetime. Not long after that earth-shaking night, I got an electric guitar, grew out my hair a little long, and became a full-fledged Beatlemaniac. smiley And in the 5 decades that have now passed, I've never stopped being a big fan of Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, & Ringo Starr.

My favorite song of the 5 they performed that Sun. night was the final one, "I Want To Hold Your Hand," which still remains one of my favorite Beatles songs to this day. The video clip below captures the excitement of that night fairly well. Long live The Beatles! FIFTY YEARS! WOW! smiley

 The Beatles' first U.S. TV appearance LIVE on
The Ed Sullivan Show, Sun. night, Feb. 9, 1964
(If player above is not visible, you can view video at YouTube here.)

"When I was a Beatle, I thought we were the best frigging group in the goddamn world.  And believin' in that was what made us what we were. And it was just a matter of time before everyone else caught on."

--John Lennon, in his reflection on the growing popularity of the Fab Four when they first started taking the world by storm--

Feb. 8, 2014 - Tokyo Snow Day! The heaviest snowfall in the nation's capital in 45 years!!

Today will go down as BIG HISTORY in Japan's capital. Snow accumulation reached 27 cm (10.6 in), the heaviest snowfall in Tokyo since January 1969.

After the first heavy snowfall warning for central Tokyo in 13 years, more than 740 flights were cancelled and more than 40,000 households lost power in large areas of central and eastern Japan.

Nationwide, the heavy snow and severe weather resulted in 3,200 accidents caused by vehicles skidding in the icy conditions, leaving 3 dead and more than 500 injured, including 17 seriously.

Additional disruption included the temporary suspension of Shinkansen bullet train service, the closing of some sections of expressways, and several Tokyo universities having to delay the starting times of their entrance examinations for the new academic year starting in April.

Source: Japan Times

Tokyo Snow Day - Feb. 8, 2014
Tokyo Snow Day - Feb. 8, 2014
The full 63-photo album is here:

Feb. 7, 2014 - Menopausal Women at the Mall

Road rage and class war escalate into a demolition derby at the local mall. Way too much testosterone! smiley

  (If player above is not visible, you can view video at YouTube here.)
Priceless!! smiley

Feb. 2, 2014 - A TRUE Super Bowl wife !!

A woman sat down at her seat on the 50-yard line for the Super Bowl. A man came along and asked her if anyone was sitting in the seat next to her. "No," she said, "the seat is empty."

"This is incredible," said the man. "Who in their right mind would have a seat like this for the Super Bowl, the biggest sporting event in the world, and not use it?"

Somberly, the woman says, "Well... the seat belongs to my husband. He and I were to come here together, but he passed away. This is the first Super Bowl we have not been to together since we got married in '57."

"Oh, I'm sorry to hear that. That's terrible. But couldn't you find someone else - a friend or relative or even a neighbor to take the seat?"

The woman shakes her head, "No, they're all at the funeral."

Feb. 1, 2014 - Three decades on, Tokyo bluesman is still rambling: Mississippi native, "Rambling" Steve Gardner, takes roots music and history worldwide, and brings Southern comfort to Fukushima

Maybe, as the saying goes, “you can’t go home again,” but you can take a little bit of home with you wherever you roam. “Rambling” Steve Gardner does; a Mississippi roots and bluesman based in Tokyo, Gardner travels the world making music and giving seminars about musical history.

The irony of the contrast between his small-town Southern background and global perspective doesn’t escape him, but with a good-natured grin, he savors the contradiction.

“Coming to Japan in the 1980s as a foreigner, I felt, early on, that sudden awareness of my own country as an outsider, and I felt a little shameful, growing up in Mississippi and looking at the hard and dark record of race relations my state has,” he says. “You carry with you a genuine stigma, if you are at all aware of things. But my trump card as a musician in Japan was the very fact that I was from Mississippi.”... (read more)

Mississippi native, Rambling Steve Gardner
Soul man: "I was able to be a side player, and I liked it," explains "Rambling" Steve Gardner, recalling his days supporting the likes of Ben E. King in Japan. "Those guys on top, they need guys like me to hold them up. . . . I like being one of the tires on the car, as long as there's lots of air in the tires and a good driver behind the wheel."
(Photo credit: Steve Gardner)

Jan. 31, 2014 - Frozen Sweets under the Moon

Ice jewelry that is not available for commercial sale. Ice in the Tokachi River in Hokkaido is broken into blocks that flow to the Pacific Ocean, their corners rounded by the waves. This process produces delicious-looking ice that is tossed up onto the beach.

Tokachi River ice blocks
Photo credit: att.Japan magazine
©Masaaki Aihara

Jan. 29, 2014 - Cultural Presentation Day

Foreign exchange university students in Japan make cultural comparisons between various countries in areas like festivals, food, friendships, keyboard typing methods, and differences in public displays of affection.

Cultural Presentation Day - Jan. 29, 2014
(If player above is not visible,
you can view video at YouTube here.)

 0:00 Comparison of Festivals in China & Japan
 9:45 Cultural Comparison of Japan, Germany, Ecuador, Mexico, & Sweden
27:10 Comparison of Keyboard Typing Methods in Taiwan & Japan
40:12 Comparison of Festivals in Thailand, Japan, America, & China

Jan. 21, 2014 - Sexy Japanese Dancers at the Gold's Gym Shinnenkai (ゴールドジム の新年会)

Gold's Gym dance class members perform at the Tokyo gym's 16th annual New Year's party (第16回新年会) to the tune of Ricky Martin's "Livin' La Vida Loca." WOW!

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

Jan. 19, 2014 - Texas-shaped house

Some people take this Texas stuff really, really seriously. Only in Texas... smiley

Texas-shaped house

Jan. 17, 2014 - 19 Mind-Blowing Tricks Every iPhone And iPad User Should Know

You spend, like, half of your life on that thing. Time to figure out what it really does. I think I like Trick 15 best, allowing you to quickly switch back and forth between the alpha and numeric keyboards.

Jan. 12, 2014 - Let's MOVE!

"We all try to be busy instead of being alive, busy instead of getting out and breathing, busy sending useless texts instead of walking in the woods with our kids or introducing them to life's joys. We move information instead of simply moving," says Arc'teryx athlete Will Gadd in this ode to action and movement. Acknowledging how hard it is to carve out time for exercise in our daily lives, Gadd's passionate words remind us how important it is to get outside, breathe hard, and create meaning through movement. After all, as Gadd says, "Life's more fun when you move."

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

Jan. 10, 2014 - Sayonara Venus, our evening 'star'

Sadly, Venus, our brightest planet, has disappeared as our evening 'star.' It is about to pass between us and the sun on January 11, 2014. Venus will reappear in the eastern dawn in the second half of January 2014, when together with Jupiter – our two brightest planets – will appear as bright bookends in the morning sky, with Venus rising as Jupiter sets.

Jan. 9, 2014 - Three Deadly Reasons to Stay off Mt. Fuji in Winter

● Avalanche: Mt. Fuji is the perfect domain for avalanches due to its steep slope and lack of vegetation. When a slab of ice breaks free, hikers are pummeled against snow, ice, and trees and buried as if encased in wet concrete.
● Winds: Strong winds literally blow climbers off the slippery slopes. There have been several cases of tents flying off of the slopes with their occupants onboard.
● Hypothermia: Though not limited to the off-season, hyperthermia is a life-threatening condition that proves fatal if not diagnosed and treated properly. It is the result of a hiker's core body temperature dropping and internal organs succumbing to the cold.

Mt. Fuji is dangerous in winter
Mt. Fuji is dangerous in winter!
More info here: When is Mt. Fuji's official climbing season?

Jan. 4, 2014 - Al Gore Forecasted “Ice-Free” Arctic by 2013; Ice Cover Expands 50%

Al Gore
"The planet has a fever."
--Albert Arnold "Al" Gore, Jr.--

"In 2007, 2008, and 2009, Gore publicly and very hysterically warned that the North Pole would be 'ice-free' by around 2013 because of alleged 'man-made global warming.'

Well, 2013 has finished, and contrary to the alarmist 'predictions' by Gore and what critics refer to as his 'doomsday cult,' the latest satellite data show that Arctic ice cover has actually expanded 50 percent over 2012 levels. In fact, during October, sea-ice levels grew at the fastest pace since records began in 1979.

Of course, by now, virtually everyone who has been following news about 'global warming' — now more often referred to as 'climate change' owing to public-relations concerns — also knows that global temperatures have not risen for some 17 years."

Source: The New American

Jan. 1, 2014 - Jacquie Lawson's stunning New Year's animated greeting card

This absolutely amazing animated New Year's greeting card by famed UK graphics design artist Jacquie Lawson was sent to me by a Tokyo friend, and features fireworks celebrations in Sydney, Moscow, Paris, London, & New York City. Click photo or link below to view this beautiful animated New Year's card. Wow....

New Year's greeting card
Jacquie Lawson New Year's greeting card

Jan. 1, 2014 - Hatsuhinode (初日の出) 2014, my first sunrise of the New Year

I'm sure some of my friends will think this is about as exciting as watching paint dry, but after all these years of living in Japan, I still think it's really cool how many Japanese like to kick off the New Year by viewing the first sunrise, a custom known as Hatsuhinode (初日の出): (scroll down to "Firsts of the new year" section)

The video below is of the one I saw at 6:50 a.m.

The background music, George Harrison's "Here Comes The Sun," is sung by Brooke White, an American indie pop singer-songwriter from Arizona who was the 5th place finalist in the 7th season of American Idol.

Happy New Year, everybody...

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

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Gary J. Wolff
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