Four years ago today, Mar. 11, 2011, @ 2:46 pm northeastern Japan was
hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake (東日本大震災), the most powerful
recorded to have hit Japan, and the 4th most powerful earthquake in the
world since modern record-keeping began in 1900.
Sadly the massive, magnitude 9.0 undersea megathrust earthquake
triggered powerful tsunami waves that reached heights of up to 40.5
metres (133 ft) in Miyako, Iwate and devastated cities & seaports
along a broad swath of the northeastern Japan coastline.
tsunami in turn caused meltdowns at 3 reactors in the Fukushima
Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant complex, and forced the evacuation of
hundreds of thousands of residents. Today, radiation levels remain as
much as 10 times above normal in areas surrounding the plant, and
scores of towns and villages remain off-limits despite a massive
Fukushima nuclear power plant workers are still battling to contain
leaks of contaminated water, and the plant won't be fully
decommissioned for at least 3 more decades.
I was home at the time, and never lost my internet connection, so
primarily to keep my many wonderful overseas friends & family
(who were all BEGGING me to get the heck outta Dodge) updated on the
latest news, I started blogging immediately, and over
the course of the next 101 days after the triple tragedy, I had posted
467 news updates.
In that first week, the stunning amateur video below is one of the most
saw, in this case, of the killer tsunami destroying 95 percent of
Minami-Sanriku (南三陸町), a
fishing port in Miyagi Prefecture.
Mar. 11, 2011 tsunami washing away Minami-sanriku (南三陸町), Miyagi
(If player above is not visible, you can view video
@ YouTube here.)
Yesterday the Japanese National Police confirmed that the Great East
Japan Earthquake (東日本大震災) & tsunami caused 15,891 deaths, 6,152
people still missing across 20 prefectures, as well as 228,863 people
living away from their home in either temporary housing or due to
is never a dull moment. Yesterday just before our Tokyo PC Users Group
Akihabara tour, a few of us were entertained by this amazing young man
who was performing in the square on the north side of JR Akihabara
Station "Electric Town" exit, near the Japanese idol girl group AKB48's
theater. Among other things, he was juggling TRAFFIC CONES!
Akihabara traffic cone juggler
(If player above is not visible, you can view video
@ YouTube here.)
If you're interested in discount, backstreet electronics shops, you
might enjoy the pics from our Tokyo PC Users Group's Akihabara Electric
2015 - How 'bout some bacon & eggs for breakfast?
Although we were first warned about cholesterol in 1961, America's top
diet and nutrition advisory panel has decided to drop cholesterol
warnings, considering cholesterol to not be a "nutrient of concern."
The panel cited mounting research that because cholesterol from the
diet represents only about 20 percent of the cholesterol circulating in
the human bloodstream, lowering cholesterol intake will affect blood
cholesterol levels only marginally.
So we can now eat eggs again! The WHOLE egg.
But that's not all: Saturated fat is also making a comeback. Sweden
just became the first western nation to officially reject low-fat diets
in favor of a low-carb high-fat diet, basically saying steak is better
for you than bread.
Australian cardiologist Dr. Ross Walker says that's not the only
pro-fat study. "Cambridge University just released a trial with 600,000
people, 32 different trials put together, and there's no link between
meat, eggs, dairy, and heart disease."
But the new view on cholesterol in the diet does not reverse warnings
about high levels of "bad" cholesterol in the blood, which have been
linked to heart disease. Moreover, some experts warned that people with
particular health problems, such as diabetes, should continue to avoid
Excuse me now, while I catch up on all the delicious cholesterol I've
missed out on during this past HALF-CENTURY!
Bacon and egg breakfast
2015 - Japanese inventor of soy sauce bottle dies @ 85
Japanese industrial designer Kenji Ekuan (榮久庵憲司), whose most popular
invention is the world-famous red-capped Kikkoman soy sauce bottle, has
died at age 85.
Ekuan, a former monk at a Hiroshima temple, later pursued a career in
design, graduating from the prestigious Tokyo National University of
Fine Arts and Music in 1955 and founding his design studio two years
His other designs included the Yamaha VMAS motorcycle, the Komachi
bullet train connecting Tokyo and northern Japan, the Narita Express
airport liner, audio equipment, and company logos like the ones for the
Ministop convenience store and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.
2015 - How former Megadeth lead guitarist Marty Friedman (マーティ・フリードマン)
fluency in Japanese
The 52-year-old former guitarist for the platinum-selling thrash metal
band Megadeth of the 90s explains in the video below how he
successfully became fluent in Japanese.
Friedman, who has now become a TV celebrity, says he attained Japanese
fluency before ever moving permanently to Japan in 2003, by teaching
himself and working his way through correspondence courses even while
on tour. And Friedman insisted on conducting interviews only in
Japanese while touring in Japan.
"Just like music," he says, "when you start, you've got to jam with
everybody, even if you don't like the situation. You've got to find
those situations, and don't blow 'em off when they happen."
The J-Pop scene welcomed him relatively quickly. He was still shredding
on his guitar, but now he was accompanying Japanese pop, country, and
rock stars. He started writing a weekly opinion column on J-Pop. Over
the years, Friedman's language skills have landed him on Japanese
television, and not just on music shows — he does cooking shows too.
Friedman says he's appeared in over 600 TV shows, movies, and ads,
including "Mr. Heavy Metal" and "Rock Fujiyama," television shows he
hosted in the mid-'00s, as well regular stints on the NHK show "Asia
Music Network," his weekly NHK radio show, news shows, political shows,
and as a guest on the myriad Japanese variety shows.
Wow, way to go, Marty. Good job!
Marty Friedman on "How to Teach Yourself Japanese"
(If player above is not visible, you can view video
@ YouTube here.)
2015 - It's still Diamond Fuji viewing season in Tokyo!
"Diamond Fuji" is a phenomenon which occurs when the sun sets into or
rises out of Mt. Fuji's cone, setting off sunbeams that resemble a
glittering diamond, and is a popular target of both amateur and
professional photographers in Japan.
the snapshot below this afternoon @ 5:07 pm from my apartment
building. Too bad I don't have a better camera....like, say, with a
Diamond Fuji from Tokyo, Feb. 10, 2015, 5:07 pm
In December I decided to put together the webpage linked below, listing
the best high-rise spots in Tokyo for viewing Diamond Fuji along with
recommended dates, sunset times, admission fees, and links to their
Fuji Viewing Spots, Dates, and Times in Tokyo
2015 - Texas Rattlesnake Logic
As part of some commentary about the recent rash of evildoings in the
Middle East and
elsewhere around the world, I heard this timely & appropriate piece
on the radio yesterday, written last year by a Texas rancher:
"Here in West Texas, I have rattlesnakes on my place, living among us.
I have killed a rattlesnake on the front porch. I have killed a
rattlesnake on the back porch. I have killed them in the barn, in the
shop, and on the driveway. In fact, I kill every rattlesnake I
I kill rattlesnakes because I know a rattlesnake will bite me and
inject me with poison. I don’t stop to wonder WHY a rattlesnake will
bite me; I know it WILL bite me because it’s a rattlesnake and that’s
what rattlesnakes do.
I don’t try to reason with a rattlesnake or have a ”meaningful
dialogue” with it...I just kill it. I don’t try to get to know the
rattlesnake better, in order to find a way to live with rattlesnakes
and convince them not to bite me. I just kill them.
I don’t quiz a rattlesnake to see if I can find out where the other
snakes are, because: (a) it won’t tell me, and (b) I already know they
live on my place, so...I just kill it...and move on to the next
I don’t look for ways I might be able to change the rattlesnake to a
non-poisonous rat snake…I just kill it. Oh, and on occasion, I
accidentally kill a rat snake because I thought it was a rattlesnake at
Also, I know for every rattlesnake I kill, two more are lurking in the
brush. In my lifetime, I will never be able to rid my place of
Do I fear them? Not really. Do I respect what they can do to me and my
family? Yes!! And because of that respect, I give them the fair justice
they deserve...I kill them.
As a country, we should start giving more thought to the fact that
these jihadists are telling the world that their goal is to kill
Americans and destroy our way of life.
They have just posted 2 graphic videos on the internet showing them
beheading Americans. They are serious. They are exactly like
rattlesnakes. It is high time for us to start acting accordingly!"
[Author unknown. No further explanation necessary.]
(photo credit: Casey
2015 - Top 10 winners in the International Pun Contest
A vulture boards an airplane, carrying two dead
raccoons. The stewardess looks at him and says, "I'm sorry, sir, only
one carrion allowed per passenger."
Two fish swim into a concrete wall. One turns to the
other and says "Dam!"
Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly, so they
lit a fire in the craft. Unsurprisingly it sank, proving once again
that you can't have your kayak and heat it too.
Two hydrogen atoms meet. One says "I've lost my
electron." The other says "Are you sure?" The first replies "Yes, I'm
Did you hear about the Buddhist who refused Novocaine
during a root canal? His goal: transcend dental medication.
A group of chess enthusiasts checked into a hotel and
were standing in the lobby discussing their recent tournament
victories. After about an hour, the manager came out of the office and
asked them to disperse. "But why?" they asked, as they moved off.
"Because," he said, "I can't stand chess nuts boasting in an open
A woman has twins and gives them up for adoption. One
of them goes to a family in Egypt and is named "Ahmal." The other goes
to a family in Spain; they name him "Juan." Years later, Juan sends a
picture of himself to his birth mother. Upon receiving the picture, she
tells her husband that she wishes she also had a picture of Ahmal. Her
husband responds, "They're twins! If you've seen Juan, you've seen
A group of friars were behind on their belfry
payments, so they opened up a small florist shop to raise funds. Since
everyone liked to buy flowers from the men of God, a rival florist
across town thought the competition was unfair. He asked the good
fathers to close down, but they would not. He went back and begged the
friars to close. They ignored him. So, the rival florist hired Hugh
MacTaggart, the roughest and most vicious thug in town to "persuade"
them to close. Hugh beat up the friars and trashed their store, saying
he'd be back if they didn't close up shop. Terrified, they did so,
thereby proving that only Hugh can prevent florist friars.
Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot most of
the time, which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He
also ate very little, which made him rather frail and, with his odd
diet, he suffered from bad breath. This made him a super calloused
fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.
And finally, there was the person who sent 10
different puns to friends, with the hope that at least one of the puns
would make them laugh. No pun in ten did.
Thanks to my buddies, James & Joe, I was able to watch Super Bowl
XLIX from the New Sanno Hotel in Tokyo, and it was one of the best
football games I've ever seen!
Game time in Japan was @ 8:30 am, Mon. Feb. 2, 2015. This amazing party
cost only $10, which included a gorgeous, all-you-can-eat breakfast
The New Sanno
Hotel is a wonderful, reasonably-priced accommodation in central
Tokyo which serves the U.S. military community.
Katy Perry performing @ Super Bowl XLIX
(Click here to view my 32-pic Flickr album)
2015 - Checking your email every few minutes?
Thanks to our smartphones and tablets, a lot of us check our email over
and over from wherever we are, because we dread missing anything from
anyone, whether urgent or not.
Sounds stressful, doesn't it? Well, it sure can be, but perhaps there's
an alternative. What would happen if you checked your email only 3
times a day?
Researchers at the University of British Columbia in Canada took 124
people and split them into 2 groups. One group was asked to check their
email only 3 times a day, while the other group was told to check their
email just as often as they could.
This went on for a week and then, the 2 groups traded places: the
people who had limited checking their email now had to start checking
their email all the time..... while those who had been checking their
email constantly now had to stick to only 3 times a day.
Researchers found that in both cases, when people in either group were
asked to look at their email just 3 times a day, their stress levels
went down.... way down.
They say unless there is a real emergency, it's probably better for you
to sift through your emails in a few chunks of time during the day,
rather than on demand.
Tim Ferriss, author of the top-seller The
calls email "the greatest single interruption in the modern world." He
also recommends checking email only twice a day.... @ 12 noon & @ 4
pm.... and to never check email first thing in the morning. Good luck
But wait, how about work emails? Well, that's another matter entirely.
2015 - Danish archer video becomes internet sensation
Lars Andersen, a Danish archer who has studied historical descriptions
of ancient war archery to re-discover their techniques, is now known as
the “world’s fastest archer.” Over the past few years, he has
fine-tuned his skills and is now able to fire three arrows in only 0.6
Two days ago he released a video demonstrating these forgotten
techniques and how holding arrows in the firing hand and placing them
outside of the bow allows archers to fire at speed and while running.
The video hit its 1st million views on YouTube within 13 hours, was
watched more than 4.5 million times in under 24 hours, and at the time
of this posting had been viewed over 10 million times. WOW. To say this
video has gone viral would be the understatement of the year!
(If player above is not visible,
you can view video
@ YouTube here.)
2015 - Real-time, animated world hacking map
Feeling nervous about your PC getting hacked? Take a look at this real-time map
of global hacking attacks, developed by a St. Louis-based company
called Norse. At a glance, the color-coded world map shows in real time
the highest ranked countries which are both attacking and being
attacked, plus the type of hacking attacks. AMAZING!
Real-time animated world hacking map
Click here to
see the amazing live action.
(The animated attack lines didn't display properly on my iPhone or
so perhaps it's better to view the map on your PC.)
(photo credit: Norse Corp.)
1) Don’t do it – Stay at home. Curl up under the kotatsu with a good
book in your hand. Hug your loved one. Skype with your relatives. Watch
a cool mountaineering movie. Hang out with your friends. Plan some
amazing summer trips. Just don’t risk it by going out there and
tempting fate. Yeah, I know you only live once, but do you really want
to play Russian Roulette?
Ok, now that you’ve chosen not to heed my advice, let me give you a few
2015 - First Full Moon of 2015 in Tokyo
1st Full Moon of 2015 in Tokyo
(taken @ 5:07 pm, just after moonrise)
2015 - Happy New Year!!
This is the most amazing animated New Year's greeting card, designed by
the talented graphic designers @ JacquieLawson.com, and sent by my dear
Mom (click image below to view it). This animation shows 7 famous
clocks around the world striking midnight on New Year's Eve (be sure to
click special link at the end of the animation to learn more about
these 7 famous clocks, including Big Ben in London).
I was thrilled recently to be notified that my GaryJWolff.com website has been named one of the 16 top hiking and adventure blogs from Japan by the highly-renowned Ridgeline Images hiking website. If…
Hatsuhinode (初日の出) is the Japanese Shinto tradition of viewing the 1st sunrise of the New Year to greet Toshigami-sama (年神), the god of the New Year, with hopes of receiving good luck, well-being, and…
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