This page shows archived posts for Gary J. Wolff's blog from
2017 - It's already that time of year again!!
If you ever have the occasion to visit Tokyo, try your best to come in
late March or early April to catch the gorgeous Japanese cherry
blossoms, without question the most magical time of the entire year.
The exact date for full bloom varies from year to year, but in 2017,
Tokyo's cherry blossoms started blooming Mar. 21, 5 days earlier than
usual, and are forecast to peak in the next week, starting tomorrow.
Mar. 28, 2017 Tokyo cherry blossoms
2017 - You can take the boy outta the country, but you can't take the
country outta the boy!
And by all means, Don't Mess With Texas!
At Cowboy Bob's Feb. 5, 2017 New Year party
He's my 70-year-old Japanese friend who loves playing country music.
Click here to see him in action.
2017 - SPRING HAS SPRUNG (春が来た)!
For the Northern Hemisphere, the Mon., March 20, 2017 vernal equinox
(春分の日) marks the first day of spring and in the Southern Hemisphere, it
signals the beginning of autumn. The word equinox comes from the Latin
words "aequus" (equal) and "nox" (night), meaning nights and days are
approximately equal in length these days. No matter where you are on
Earth, today the sun rises due east and sets due west.
The Spring Equinox is a time of balancing in our life. It represents
fertility and creation. This is a time to review and renew every part
and aspect of our life. It is also a time to renew our relationships
with a clear thought and perspective. The March 20, 2017 equinox occurs
at 10:28 am Universal Time (7:28 pm in Japan, 5:28 am in Houston).
And in Japan, the vernal equinox (春分の日, Shunbun no Hi) is a national
holiday. Yee hah! Sayonara, winter...
March 20, 2017 vernal equinox and the first day of spring
19, 2017 - Miracle Teenager Survives On His Own For Almost 6 Hours With
In what has been hailed as "a miracle," one Waterford teenager has
reportedly survived in his home with no connection to the internet for
almost 6 whole hours.
Answering to the name "David Gowan," the 16-year-old was found in a
distressed state yesterday evening, walking through a Dungarvan
neighborhood holding his Samsung Galaxy above his head looking for a
signal and muttering incoherently.
The emergency services were notified and David was brought to a nearby
Starbucks and hooked up to their Wi-Fi immediately. It remains unclear
as to how the teen was left without internet for such a long period of
time, and a search has begun to find David's parents, with fears that
they may have other kids without even a single bar of coverage.
"David survived without access to any social media or video sharing
sites for the better part of an afternoon," said an amazed member of
Waterford’s child protection services.
"No GIFs, no memes, no porn. It’s incredible to see him in such good
condition, considering what he went through. There's grown adults who
can’t go without internet for that long, let alone teenagers. God love
him, as he hasn't even seen the new Star Wars trailer yet."
David was not available for interview, with rumors circulating that the
poor youngster had lost the ability to speak in anything other than
normal English, having not used emojis for so long.
15, 2017 - Gary's mountain climbing paperbacks finally make it to Japan!
Recently Amazon changed the way its self-published paperbacks are
printed and distributed worldwide, and believe it or not, for the first
time in the over 4 years since my first of 2 paperbacks on climbing
Japanese mountains was first published, these 2 books are now
finally available for sale at Amazon Japan. Yay! How appropriate....
after all, the books were written about JAPAN!
Sadly though, because of the minimum production costs for printing
~100-page color paperbacks, I was unable to reduce the list price for
my 2 paperbacks, but in celebration of them finally making it to
Japan, I decided to permanently reduce the price of both of the eBook
versions to just $2.99, which you can instantly preview below
and if you are so inclined, add them to your personal library or share
them with your friends.
Thanks so much for your support!
2017 - Japanese boy takes leak on Tokyo train station platform
He-he, I knew that'd get your attention. The "Peeing Boy" sculpture
is Tokyo's own version of the Manneken Pis (*), the famous 17th century
Brussels landmark, and was dedicated in 1952 by dentist Dr. Kobayashi
to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the first train line in Japan
between Shimbashi and Yokohama Stations. The Peeing Boy can be seen at
the southern end of the train platform at JR Hamamatsucho Station in
Tokyo (for trains bound for Shinagawa).
(*) 小便小僧 (しょうべんこぞう, shouben kozou) in Japanese
Video of Tokyo's "Peeing Boy" sculpture
(If player above is not visible, you can view video
@ YouTube here.)
Well, on Feb. 23 I posted my pics and video, and this afternoon I
finally finished My Ao Nang, Thailand Travel Adventure webpage. On this
page I describe in detail the magical 5 days I spent in this gorgeous
southern Thailand 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.
If you should ever have any interest in visiting this beautiful spot
which serves as a major launching pad for beautiful beaches and islands
of the Andaman Sea, you might enjoy reading my account, including my
pics, video, & map. I was very touched by the unbelievable,
heartfelt hospitality of the wonderful Thai people! To read more, click
here: My Ao Nang,
Thailand Travel Adventure
Ao Nang Beach, Ao Nang, Thailand
2017 - 2017 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo
The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is the world’s
largest livestock show and richest regular-season rodeo dedicated to
benefiting youth, supporting education, and facilitating better
As a charity, since its beginning in 1932, the Houston Livestock Show
and Rodeo has benefited the youth of Texas by contributing more than
$430 million to scholarships, research, endowments, calf scramble
participants, junior show exhibitors, School Art participants, and
other educational and youth programs.
Out of the Show's overall commitment, more than $200 million has gone
toward direct educational program support since the first scholarship
was awarded in 1957. Currently, more than 2,400 students are on Show
scholarships, attending more than 80 different Texas colleges and
universities. The value of these scholarships is approximately $47
These educational and agricultural research programs encourage and
promote the breeding, raising, and marketing of better livestock and
farm products at public fairs and within the livestock industry.
Providing the musical entertainment this year will be superstars such
as Willie Nelson, Alicia Keys, Alan Jackson, Brad Paisley, and even one
of my all-time favorite bands, ZZ TOP!! Wow, wish I could go.
Nearly 2.5 million people attended last year's 20-day event, and the
2017 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo runs from Mar. 7-26. More
2017 - Video of My Ao Nang, Thailand travel adventure, Feb. 15-21, 2017
It was a magnificent trip and I was blessed to have sampled so much of
the amazing Ao Nang, Thailand culture & beauty.... especially the
wonderful people. I hope this video helps you catch a quick glimpse of
this spectacular tropical Pacific paradise.
Don't miss out on the beautiful time-lapse sunsets, the
4-island tour on a long-tail boat, my hike up Ngorn Nak Mountain,
the tallest peak in the area, the rock climbers on East Railay Beach,
fire dancers at the Golden Beach Resort, live music, and even an
English-speaking talking bird!
Webpage to follow shortly...
Video of My Ao Nang, Thailand travel adventure, Feb. 15-21, 2017
(If player above is not visible, you can view video
@ YouTube here.)
0:00 Busy traffic at Ao Nang's main intersection (Beach Road Rt. 4203
& Soi Aonang 17)
0:25 Morning panorama of Ao Nang Beach on Feb. 16
1:02 Beauty salon animated blow-up advertising doll (Come on in!!)
1:12 Aboard long-tail boat @ beginning of 4-island tour
3:07 Panorama of West Railay Beach
3:59 Lunchtime @ Poda Island
4:29 Chicken Island
4:43 Female rock climber on Phra Nang Beach
5:06 Cute monkeys on Phra Nang Beach
7:20 3-wheeled tuk-tuk ride to Ngorn Nak Mountain
7:55 Waterfalls on Ngorn Nak Mountain (see pics of this gorgeous peak
in my Flickr
9:43 Sunset timelapse from Ao Nang Beach on Feb. 17
10:00 Morning panorama of Ao Nang Beach on Feb. 18
10:32 Koi pond at Nopparat Thara Beach
11:06 Retail shops on main road to Krabi Town, including 7-11
12:02 Sunset timelapse from Ao Nang Beach on Feb. 18
12:38 South African band Ricardo @ Crazy Gringos Tex-Mex Restaurant
(grrrreat guitarist & female singer duo)
15:52 Solo fire dancer on stage @ Golden Beach Resort
18:32 1, 2, then 3 fire dancers on Beach Road in front of Golden Beach
Resort (Oh NO, one guy lost his fire baton!)
22:22 Talking bird can say "Hello" and make a cat call (CUTE!)
23:48 View of Ao Nang Mosque from a tuk-tuk
24:00 Busy long-tail boat loading area on Ao Nang Beach
25:10 Ladyboy cabaret dancers from the Blue Dragon, drumming up
business prior to one of their 3 nightly shows
25:57 Advertising truck for Thai kickboxing match @ the Aonang Krabi
26:18 New Yorker Jimmy Patrick Roche performs "Smoke on the Water" @
The Beach Bar (I really liked this guy and went to hear him 2 straight
30:12 Long-tail boat ride to West Railay Beach
31:13 Rock climbers on East Railay Beach
34:47 Panorama of East Railay Beach
35:23 Return long-tail boat ride from West Railay Beach back to Ao Nang
(nice view of the NOISY automotive engine commonly used on these boats)
35:45 Panorama of Feb. 20 sunset from Mum Aroy Beach Front
36:43 Sunset timelapse from Mum Aroy Beach Front restaurant on Feb. 20
37:06 Nighttime landing @ Tokyo Haneda Airport
Some years back, a Facebook friend posted some rather stunning photos
of his vacation in Ao Nang, Krabi, Thailand. Ever since, I've had it on
my bucket list and this past week I finally got my chance to go visit.
Wow! One of the most exciting things I saw the entire week was the
beachside stalactite cliffs just outside the cave on Phra Nang Beach.
This was part of a 4-island, long-tail boat tour I took.
I also had the opportunity to climb the highest peak in the area,
Ngorn Nak Mountain. It was a fairly easy, 2-hour trek, gaining nearly
500 meters in elevation, with breathtaking views of the Andaman Sea
from the summit.
I hope you enjoy my pics! Video and webpage coming soon...
Pics of my Ao Nang, Thailand travel adventure
(You can view the entire album @ Flickr.)
Amazon description: "From August 3-18, 1974, a young,
wet-behind-the-ears college student
with a severe case of "Rocky Mountain High" embarked upon a 16-day,
2800-mile roundtrip hitchhiking journey from Austin, Texas to Grand
Teton National Park where he enjoyed a 5-day, solo backcountry trek in
the gorgeous Teton wilderness of Wyoming. This eBook chronicles that
amazing trip, describing all the sights, sounds, and magic of the
adventure, including the unbelievably diverse and fascinating group of
people he met along the way."
I probably wouldn't have remembered all the details of a trip which
occurred a remarkable 42 years ago, but as it turns out, I had
forgotten about the daily diary, a kind of travel journal, that I had
made in the back of my Teton Backcountry hiking guide, which I
discovered by chance last summer while rummaging through some of my old
stuff in mom's house in Houston.
So when I discovered my travel notes from this amazing hitchhiking
trip, I told myself that I was going to someday share the story with
the public by publishing it.
And so it has now become reality. It is now available from Amazon
for only $0.99, their minimum price for an eBook. I hope to reformat it
soon as a free download from Smashwords when I get a chance.
I hope you enjoy it!
2017 - Subway
sandwich shop in Tokyo grows their own leaf lettuce right in the
middle of the store's eating area
In the Subway sandwich shop in Tokyo's Marunouchi Building (丸ビル), they
are growing their own hydroponic leaf lettuce right in the middle of
the store's eating area. It takes 49 days from seed to cultivation, and
are able to harvest up to 20 heads of lettuce per week.
Maybe it's just
me, but I couldn't help but have that "back to nature" feeling, eating
a fresh sandwich with pesticide-free vegetables being grown right
before my eyes.
The Subway Yasai Lab (サブウェイ 野菜ラボ 丸ビル店) is located on
floor B1F, across from the
American Pharmacy ("yasai, 野菜" means "vegetable" in Japanese).
Tokyo Subway sandwich shop grows their own hydroponic leaf lettuce
right in the
middle of the store's eating area
It's already that time of year again when we might get a chance in
to view an amazing phenomenon known as "Diamond Fuji," when the sun
into the cone of Japan's tallest peak, setting off sunbeams that
resemble a glittering diamond, and which is a popular target of both
amateur and professional photographers in Japan.
Until Feb. 11, if you're lucky, you might be able to catch Diamond
Fuji from the top of some of Tokyo's tallest buildings & towers.
In December 2014, 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 Google maps: Diamond
Fuji Viewing Spots, Dates, and Times in Tokyo
2017 - Japanese university students having fun learning English!!
I've never seen anything like this. It has been a real thrill to see my
university students use the new Quizlet Live game, as they truly LOVE
it! I can honestly say I have never seen this same degree of excitement
for a classroom language game during my entire quarter-century of
teaching Japanese learners of English.
Quizlet Live: Japanese Students Having Fun Learning English
player above is not visible, you can view
@ YouTube here.)
28, 2017 - TODAY’S ENGLISH LESSON:
- I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger.......then it hit me.
- To write with a broken pencil is…….pointless.
- When fish are in schools, they sometimes…….take debate.
- A thief who stole a calendar…….got twelve months.
- When the smog lifts in Los Angeles…….U.C.L.A.
- The professor discovered that her theory of earthquakes…….was on
- The batteries were given out…….free of charge.
- A dentist and a manicurist married…….and then fought tooth and nail.
- A will is a…….dead giveaway.
- If you don't pay your exorcist…….you can get repossessed.
- With her marriage, she got a new name…….and a dress.
- Show me a piano falling down a mineshaft and I'll show you…….A-flat
- You are stuck with your debt if…….you can't budge it.
- Local Area Network in Australia: …….The LAN down under.
- A boiled egg is…….hard to beat.
- When you've seen one shopping center…….you've seen a mall.
- Police were called to a day care where a three-year-old
was…….resisting a rest.
- Did you hear about the fellow whose whole left side was cut off?
…….He's all right now.
- If you take a laptop computer for a run, you could…….jog your memory.
- A bicycle can't stand alone:…….it is two tired.
- When a clock is hungry…….it goes back four seconds.
- The guy who fell onto an upholstery machine…….was fully recovered.
- He had a photographic memory…….which was never developed.
- Those who get too big for their britches will be…….exposed in the end.
- When she saw her first strands of gray hair…….she thought she'd dye.
- Acupuncture: …….a jab well done.
- You can tune a piano.......but you can't tuna fish.
- Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.
2017 - Taylor
Anderson Memorial Fund Music/Art for Fukushima Project slideshow
My good friend, Mississippi native, and globetrotting bluesman Rambling
Steve Gardner just returned back from the Taylor Anderson Memorial Fund
Music/Art for Fukushima Project for elementary schools in Fukushima,
where shows and workshops were conducted at Sakura Elementary School
and the Yoshida Community Center.
Anderson, from Richmond, Virginia, was a JET (The Japan Exchange
and Teaching Program)
English teacher from 2008-2011 at elementary and junior high schools
affiliated with Ishinomaki Senshu University
in Ishinomaki, Miyagi prefecture, where she lost her life in the March
11, 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. Donations to her
memorial fund can be made here.
Not only is Steve without question Tokyo's most accomplished harmonica
playin' & finger pickin', slide playin' blues guitarist, but he
spends a LOT of his time in Fukushima, having made over 50 trips in
recent years, working in association with the Tokyo American Club’s
Women’s Group to play his music or conduct workshops, especially to
boost the morale of child victims of the 2011 Great East Japan
earthquake and tsunami who are still suffering from a fairly high level
Taylor Anderson Memorial Fund Music/Art for Fukushima Project slideshow
(If player above is not visible, you can view video
@ YouTube here.)
2017 - "GW’s 2016 Wild West Road Trip: 28 days, 7700 miles, 8 states,
and 10 national parks" (the eBook)
Hot off the press! It was a gargantuan process, but the eBook
project I started on Dec. 29th to document my amazing 2016 summer
road trip... now 13,560 words(*), 87 pics, and 34 video links
later... is finally complete.
The main purposes of the trip were to reconnect with old friends,
revisit some of my favorite national parks as well as seeing some
national parks I'd never been to before, check out some of my former
workplaces and abodes, and to revisit some spots where I'd previously
mountain climbed or camped as a boy scout in my MUCH younger years.
And here's a short excerpt from the next to last chapter entitled
"Road Trip... By the Numbers":
Most miles driven in 1 day: 650, on Sept. 8 from Silver City, New
Mexico to Kerrville, Texas
- # of National Forests driven thru/camped in: 22
- Nights spent staying in motels: 10
- Nights spent staying with friends: 8
- Total road trip cost: $2990
- # of times I crossed the Continental Divide: 11
- Most northerly latitude: 48.73° N, Moyie Springs, Idaho (in the Idaho
panhandle just a few miles east of Bonners Ferry)
- Most westerly longitude: 116.86° W, Spirit Lake, Idaho (just west of
Farragut State Park) (excerpt from the eBook chapter entitled "Road
Trip... By the Numbers.")
My new eBook is now available on 2 platforms... at Smashwords
as a free
download in 7 different formats and in the Amazon Kindle Store (アマゾン日本) for only
$0.99 (the minimum price they will accept). If you prefer the Kindle
version, but don't have a Kindle
(neither do I), you can download the free
Kindle app to read my eBook on your PC or mobile device.
[The easiest way to
read my eBook is to simply download the free pdf at
Smashwords, which you can then read on your PC or mobile device, or
even print out if you wish. (This pdf doesn't include the eBook
cover, but if you like, you can download it here.)]
I hope you enjoy my latest publication,
just as if you were taking the trip with me!
(*) an estimated 142 pages if it were a physical book
2017 - A quote from one of my favorite mentors
As a guiding principle for Twenty-Seventeen, I may borrow a quote from
one of my favorite mentors, the late great Mr. Zig Ziglar: "I'm not
gonna ease up, let up, shut up, or give up until I'm taken up. As a
matter of fact, I'm just getting warmed up."
2017 - His & Hers
Special Japanese pillows
for the lonely. Ya gotta just LOVE Japan!
This absolutely amazing animated New Year's greeting card by famed UK
graphics design artist Jacquie Lawson was sent to me a few years ago 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....
My all-time favorite rendition of this sacred Christmas song by the best father-son opera duo ever. Raised in the East Texas city of Lufkin and a graduate of the famed Stephen F. Austin State Universi…
HOW SINGING AFFECTS OUR HEALTH:
- Singing informs the body the "right" vibrations that increase our vitality; - During singing, special chemicals are produced in the human brain that help us feel peace…
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