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Home: Gary J. Wolff's Blog: Gary J. Wolff's Blog Archives, January-March, 2020

Gary J. Wolff's Blog Archives
January-March, 2020

This page shows archived posts for Gary J. Wolff's blog from January-March, 2020.



Mar. 30, 2020 - 'RONA VIRUS BLUES by Rob Rio

I just LOVE this amazing tune by boogie woogie blues pianist Rob Rio! Known as the "Boss of the Boogie," Rob Rio has excited audiences around the world for more than 35 years and was inducted into the Boogie Woogie Hall Of Fame in 2008. He has appeared and recorded with many of the most famous musicians like Muddy Waters, Joe Cocker, Paul Butterfield, Mick Jagger, and Canned Heat. Go Rob... laughing icon

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

Mar. 26, 2020 - Ernest Benn quote

"Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedies."

—Ernest Benn (1875-1954), British writer (also attributed to Groucho Marx, American comedian and TV star)—

Mar. 23, 2020 - Great John Steinbeck quote

"A sad soul can kill you quicker, far quicker, than a germ."

—John Ernst Steinbeck Jr. (1902–1968), American author, winner of the 1962 Nobel Prize in Literature, and writer of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Grapes of Wrath which has sold over 14 million copies—

Mar. 21, 2020 -  Famous Benjamin Franklin quote

"Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."

—Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), one of the Founding Fathers of the United States who helped draft the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, who is credited as the inventor of the lightning rod and bifocals, and whose picture appears on the front of the American $100 bill—

Mar. 19, 2020 - Invasion of the Grocery Snatchers


Mindlessly emptying shelves of things they don't need!

For reasons they can't explain! laughing icon

Invasion of the Grocery Snatchers
Invasion of the Grocery Snatchers

Mar. 15, 2020 - CONGRATULATIONS to the 2020 Toilet Paper Queen!

Amidst the worldwide coronavirus panic and ensuing hoarding of toilet paper, then there's THIS!! Ha ha ha... laughing icon

2020 Toilet Paper Queen
2020 Toilet Paper Queen

Mar. 11, 2020 - 9-year anniversary of strongest ever Japan earthquake and tsunami

A remarkable 9 years ago today, Mar. 11, 2011, at 2:46 pm, northeastern Japan was hit hard by the Great East Japan Earthquake (東日本大震災), the strongest ever Japan earthquake 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 meters (133 ft) in Miyako, Iwate and devastated cities & seaports along a broad swath of the northeastern Japan coastline.

If that weren't enough, the tsunami in turn caused meltdowns at 3 reactors in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant complex, the world's worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl, and forced the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of residents.

The triple disaster left 18,428 people dead or missing, and almost a decade later, several municipalities still remain blocked off... leaving nearly 48,000 evacuees still waiting to go home.

I was home at the time, and never lost my internet connection, so in order to keep my many overseas friends and 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.

One of the most terrifying videos I saw in those first few days was the stunning amateur video below of the killer tsunami destroying 95 percent of Minami-Sanriku (南三陸町), a fishing port in Miyagi Prefecture. To cut to the chase, you can skip the first 2 minutes:

Mar. 11, 2011 tsunami washing away Minami-sanriku (南三陸町), Miyagi
(If player above is not visible, you can view video at YouTube here.)

Mar. 3, 2020 - Panic buying of toilet paper in Tokyo

One side effect of the growing coronavirus in Japan is panic-buying of toilet rolls and tissue paper. As a result of social media posts in the last week that have spread false rumors that the raw materials used to make toilet paper can no longer be imported from China due to coronavirus, people have been urged online to hoard toilet rolls in the likelihood of nationwide shortages.

Despite industry and government officials' pleas to the public not to be taken in by the rumors, supermarkets and drugstores in Japan have not only experienced shortages of toilet paper, but many have completely sold out every day by noon, leaving empty shelves.

This video below was filmed a couple days ago showing well over a hundred people lining up to panic purchase toilet paper at the 10 am opening of a neighborhood drug store in Tokyo. In just those 2 days, the video has already been viewed over 700 times. WOW!

Panic buying of toilet paper in Tokyo on Sun. Mar. 1, 2020
(If player above is not visible, you can view video at YouTube here.)

Feb. 27, 2020 - "Inspiration and Hope" page update

Below are the first 4 entries in today's long overdue update of my very LONG "Inspiration and Hope" webpage on my very OLD original website, first uploaded in Jan. 1997:

“Trust gets you killed, love gets you hurt, and being real gets you hated.”

—Johnny Cash (1932-2003)—


"When you are born, you cry, and the world rejoices.
When you die, you rejoice, and the world cries."

—Tibetan Buddhist saying—


“To draw, you must close your eyes and sing.”

—Pablo Picasso—


"A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness."

—Albert Einstein, written on note paper from the Imperial Hotel, Tokyo, Japan in 1922, and later sold for $1.3 million—

Feb. 26, 2020 - Odawara Plum Blossom Hiking

Last Sunday I had the good fortune of joining Jambo International for a nature hike to view the beautiful plum blossoms in the Soga Plum Blossom Park in Odawara, Kanagawa Prefecture. Our timing was perfect, as they were holding the Soga Plum Park Festival at the time.

With an unseasonably warm day and clear blue skies, we were treated to 35,000 plum trees near their peak.

But by far the most amazing part of the entire day was the truly breathtaking, up-close-and-personal view of Mount Fuji, Japan’s tallest peak. It was almost as if you could just reach out and touch it. Without question, it was the most striking, awe-inspiring view I’ve ever had of Fujisan after nearly 3 decades of living in this beautiful country.

The hike began at Kouzu Station on the JR Tokaido Line and finished 5 hours later, after quite a few ups and downs through the foothills, at Shimo Soga Station on the JR Gotemba Line.

This sort of day trip, back-to-nature outdoor activity is just one of many things that truly warm my heart about living in the Land of the Rising Sun!

Fujisan-Feb. 23, 2020
Mt. Fuji, from Odawara, Kanagawa on Feb. 23, 2020

Feb. 18, 2020 - My Saipan video - Feb. 11-16, 2020

My Saipan video - Feb. 11-16, 2020
(If player above is not visible, you can view video at YouTube here.)

0:00 Panorama of the beautiful blue ocean from the Sugar Dock
0:30 Beach panorama at sunset from the Grandvrio Resort
1:27 Panorama of Obyan Beach
2:20 Inside the famous Country House Restaurant (minus the talking buffalo who sadly bit the dust in 2018 during Typhoon Yutu)
2:42 Sexy Polynesian dancers in the Culture Dinner Show at the Fiesta Resort
6:16 Panorama of the uninhabited Pau Pau Beach
6:37 Saipan Grotto, famous spot for diving and snorkeling
7:50 Beautiful, colorful rooster at the Saipan Grotto
8:47 Bird Island, as seen from the Bird Island Observatory
9:30 Stunningly beautiful Banzai Cliff, site of the mass suicide during World War II where sadly hundreds of Japanese civilians and soldiers jumped off the cliff to their deaths in the ocean and rocks below
10:59 "May Peace Prevail On Earth" pole at Banzai Cliff
11:01 Timelapse sunset #1 from Garapan Public Market pier (Feb. 13, 2020)
11:31 Beautiful white seabirds on Mañagaha Island
12:17 Tiny, cute hermit crap walking in the sand on Mañagaha Island
13:36 Beautiful blue ocean water, as seen from Mañagaha Island boat
13:56 Windsurfers at American Memorial Park
15:24 Timelapse sunset #2 from Garapan Public Market pier (Feb. 15, 2020)
16:00 Airplane takeoff from Saipan airport
18:15 View from plane of Tinian Island, just south of Saipan
18:59 Amazing view of the plane's shadow inside a small rainbow-colored halo, a fairly rare phenomenon known as a Brocken spectre
20:13 Airplane landing at Guam airport

Feb. 17, 2020 - My Saipan pics - Feb. 11-16, 2020

In my first visit in over 12 years back to this gorgeous island in the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, I still remain convinced that this place, only a half-hour flight north of Guam, is God's gift to Planet Earth.

The beauty of the people and the island have touched my soul in a very profound way. I've never, ever seen ocean water in so many strikingly beautiful shades of blue. Love that place.

Stay tuned for my video...

Saipan - Feb. 2020
My Saipan pics - Feb. 11-16, 2020
(click link to view my Flickr Saipan album)

[The write-up of my Nov. 2007 trip to Saipan is on this page: Saipan Travel]

Feb. 9, 2020 - Caretta Shiodome Illumination - Feb. 8, 2020

Japanese have definitely mastered the art of putting on beautiful winter illumination events, a number of which start in November and last well into February. My favorite through the years has always been the Caretta Shiodome illuminations near JR Shinbashi Station. This winter's Arabian Night theme features songs from the Disney movies Aladdin, Lion King, and Toy Story 4. If you’ve never heard Can You Feel the Love Tonight (from 2:32) or A Whole New World (from 6:54) in Japanese, here is your big chance. laughing icon To my Tokyoite friends, this free show continues every night through Valentine’s Day (February 14).

Caretta Shiodome Illumination - Feb. 8, 2020
(If player above is not visible, you can view video at YouTube here.)

Feb. 4, 2020 - Tree huggers rule in Japan!

No need to remove the tree on this university campus. Just design the building AROUND IT! laughing icon

Tree huggers rule in Japan
Tree huggers rule in Japan

Jan. 19, 2020 - Use It or Lose It!

Use It or Lose It!
(If player above is not visible, you can view video at YouTube here.)

It’s the same advice I only wish I’d heard a number of times during my lifetime. For example, after I spent several years as a youngster learning how to play the organ, and getting good enough to actually sometimes substitute for our church organist during Sunday morning services.

Or in high school when I seriously studied German to the point that I was inducted into the German National Honor Society and was able to advance place out of 14 hours of college credit in the German language at the University of Texas at Austin.

Or those years in my early 30s when I became so proficient at playing tennis that I became one of the higher ranked players in my age bracket at my sports club.

These are just a few select talents and skills that I acquired through the years that sadly slipped away because I got busy doing other stuff and didn’t continue to protect the investment of ALL the time that I'd spent getting good at those things.

The speech above is one that I often like to give at the end of the school year to my university English language students, encouraging them to never stop improving upon the language skills they have worked so hard to learn in our classroom.

We only get one chance in life, and so we might as well make the most of it. Use it or lose it!

Jan. 13, 2020 - The "Ford v Ferrari" movie - a must-see!

“There’s a point at 7,000 RPMs where everything fades. The machine becomes weightless. It disappears. All that’s left, a body moving through space, and time. At 7,000 RPM, that’s where you meet it. That’s where it waits for you.”

—the quote heard both at the beginning and end of the "Ford v Ferrari" movie—

I grew up in a car racing family. Two of my cousins, the King brothers, built and raced their own stock cars at Houston’s quarter-mile dirt oval race track, Almeda Speedway (*). My Grandpa Wolff often used to take me and another cousin to see the stock car races at the half-mile paved oval track, Meyer Speedway.

My dad‘s brother owned a midget race car and was personal friends with Houston's A.J. Foyt, the 4-time winner of the famous Indianapolis 500, the world's oldest currently operational automobile race.

So it was no big surprise that I was absolutely thrilled to see the movie "Ford v Ferrari" which just opened in Tokyo on Friday. It chronicles the true story of the Ford Motor Company taking on the challenge of beating the dominating Italian Ferrari team at the 24 hours of Le Mans, France race in 1966.

I was on the edge of my seat the entire movie, and whenever I heard that high-pitched revving sound of the race cars, my adrenaline was flowing just as fast as those 200-mph race cars speeding around the track.

The movie's magic was made possible by the absolutely superb performances put in by Academy Award-winning actors Matt Damon and Christian Bale in the lead roles. Even if you don’t have racing in your blood like I do, this movie is a must see for all thrill seekers!

Damon and Bale
Matt Damon and Christian Bale in "Ford v Ferrari"
(photo credit: Merrick Morton/Fox)

The Ford v. Ferrari movie trailer can be viewed here:

(*) This great video shows how Almeda Speedway appeared back in the old days:

Jan. 3, 2020 - Ikspiari New Year's Eve 2019 Countdown Party & Fireworks

Here's how the advent of the Roaring Twenty-Twenties was celebrated at Tokyo Disney Resort on New Year's Eve. Don't miss the final 10-second countdown, of course, in JAPANESE!! laughing icon

Ikspiari New Year's Eve 2019 Countdown Party & Fireworks
(If player above is not visible, you can view video at YouTube here.)

Ikspiari is located at the gateway to Tokyo Disney Resort, which includes Tokyo Disneyland & Tokyo Disney Sea, and is a commercial facility with around 140 establishments including shops, restaurants, and a cinema complex.

This American felt right at home there, seeing shops like the Outback Steakhouse, Red Lobster, TGI Friday's, The Body Shop, Krispy Kreme Donuts, Starbucks, & Kua Aina Burgers. YEAH! laughing icon

Japan-Texas ebook cover thumbnail
A FREE download at Smashwords

Pattaya ebook cover
Only $1.99 at Amazon
(¥214 at アマゾン日本)

Alaska ebook cover
Only $2.99 at Amazon
(¥340 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)

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