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Home: Gary J. Wolff's Blog: Gary J. Wolff's Blog Archives, October-December, 2013

Gary J. Wolff's Blog Archives
October-December, 2013

This page shows archived posts for Gary J. Wolff's blog from October-December, 2013.



Dec. 31, 2013 - Japan quakes in the past 100 days

An accident waiting to happen. This map shows all the quakes measuring Intensity 1 or greater (Japanese intensity scale) that have occurred in Dai Nippon just in the past 100 days, from Sept. 22 thru 10 am this morning (Dec. 31). YIKES.

Japan quakes in the past 100 days
Japan quakes in the past 100 days

Dec. 26, 2013 - Mom's 2013 Xmas gifts

If there was ever any question about how much mom loves her baby boy, smiley then here's your answer. This pic shows all the wonderful stuff that arrived in my home today, including not only a very cute 3D Santa Claus Xmas card, but 6 bags of her delicious homemade Texas Trash snack mix, 2 calendars, Belgian chocolate, a daily devotional, a "Footprints" magnetic bookmark (I'd never seen one of these before!), a "Someone in Texas loves you!" refrigerator magnet, and even CASH. WOW! smiley Ho, ho, ho...

Mom's 2013 Xmas gifts
Mom's 2013 Xmas gifts

Dec. 25, 2013 - NORAD Tracks Santa over Houston, Texas & Tokyo, Japan

Santa just passed thru Houston, Texas, my hometown, @ 1:44 a.m. Houston time on his way to Austin, San Antonio, and Monterrey, Mexico! Yee hah!! Nearly 6.1 billion gifts delivered so far. Wow, go Santa! smiley

NORAD Tracks Santa over Houston, Texas
NORAD Tracks Santa over Houston, Texas

Santa also passed thru Tokyo around 10 pm local time on Xmas Eve, en route to Kyoto, Osaka, Hiroshima, Okinawa, and on to Incheon, South Korea. Wow, already over 800 million presents delivered so far at the time...

Norad Tracks Santa over Tokyo
NORAD Tracks Santa over Tokyo, Japan

Dec. 24, 2013 - Xmas Eve Candlelight Worship Service, Tokyo Union Church, 6:30 p.m.

The 75 min. service included 3 songs by the Sanctuary Choir (starting with a processional to open the service), a flute/harpsichord duet, a soprano solo, 9 Xmas hymns (the 2nd verse of Silent Night was sung in Japanese), a Xmas concerto by the church's instrumentalist group, lighting of the Advent Christ candle, a sermon, reading of the Xmas Story from Luke Chapter 2, and the sacrament of Holy Communion. NICE!

Xmas Eve Candlelight Worship Service
Xmas Eve Candlelight Worship Service

Dec. 22, 2013 - Save Tokyo’s biggest nature park and bird sanctuary from the 2020 Olympics!

Please sign the petition to save Kasai Rinkai Koen (葛西臨海公園), Tokyo’s biggest nature park and bird sanctuary, from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics (2020東京オリンピック)! (

Kasai Rinkai Park is a rare nature haven in the middle of Tokyo. The park and bird sanctuary boast 226 species of birds, 140 insect species, 80 spider species, 91 types of trees, and 132 grasses -- and is even home to a flock of endangered black-faced spoonbills. It was built 25 years ago to preserve natural Tokyo Bay habitat and wildlife. It is the only place in the city where you can regularly spot birds like hawks, thrushes, daurian redstarts, and brown-eared bulbuls.

But this fragile ecosystem and beautiful bird sanctuary faces a grave threat due to Tokyo’s winning bid of the 2020 Olympic Games.

Approximately one third of the park is currently slated as the location for the canoe slalom course for the Olympics which will only be used for five days. It will be replaced with an artificial waterway and stands that will seat 15,000 people. The construction of the facility alone will be highly disruptive. There are also concerns that the large amount of treated water will affect the surrounding marshland and bird sanctuary.

Read more & pls. sign the petition to protect this beautiful park, bird sanctuary, and ecosystem that has taken over 25 years to take root:

Save Kasai Rinkai Koen (葛西臨海公園)
Save Kasai Rinkai Koen (葛西臨海公園)

Dec. 17, 2013 - My hearty partying Filipina friends

My Filipina friends sure know how to party hearty. This 50th birthday party for Mari (far right) lasted 6 hours & was attended by over 100 people, including dignitaries from the Philippine embassy, a WBC flyweight boxing champion, and professional singers and dancers who performed practically non-stop. The ¥2000 (~$20) admission included delicious all-you-can-eat Philippine food and free karaoke. For obvious reasons, I just LOVE Japan. smiley

my hearty partying Filipina friends
Mari's 50th birthday party

Dec. 14, 2013 - Jambo Xmas Party & Charity Bazarr

Ho ho ho! Can you believe it's already Xmas party season? Where has this year GONE? smiley This party, organized by Jambo International, included a one-coin charity bazarr, proceeds of which will benefit the Philippines Friends of the Earth Typhoon Haiyang relief efforts.

Jambo Xmas party & charity bazarre
Jambo Xmas party & charity bazarr, Dec. 7, 2013
(photo credit: David Howenstein)

Dec. 6, 2013 - The brightest Venus of 2013 pairs up with the crescent moon

Praise be to the creator of the universe who blesses us with such celestial beauty. Venus, our brightest planet, on its brightest night of the year, courts the 3-day crescent moon in Tokyo, Japan @ 5:10 pm.

brightest venus with 3-day crescent moon
Brightest Venus of 2013 with 3-day crescent moon

Dec. 5, 2013 - White coat Fuji-san (白衣富士山)

I just love it when Fuji-san puts on her beautiful white winter coat....

white coat Fuji-san
White coat Fuji-san

Dec. 3, 2013 - Gaien Ichou Namiki Dori (外苑いちょう並木通り, Gingko Avenue)

Gaien Ichou Namiki Dori (外苑いちょう並木通り), my favorite place for viewing the stunning, golden ginkgo trees in Tokyo.

The rest of my pics:
Google map:
My video from Dec. 2009:

Gaien Ichou Namiki Dori
Gaien Ichou Namiki Dori
(Full photo album here:

Dec. 1, 2013 - Yoro Keikoku Valley fall colors (養老渓谷の紅葉)

The Yoro Keikoku Valley (養老渓谷) is one of the most spectacular places to view fall colors on the Boso Peninsula in Chiba, Japan. Hiking courses can be accessed via Yoro Keikoku Station on the single-track Kominato Line. More pics here:

This hike was organized by Jambo International:

More Yoro Keikoku details, including maps, trail description, & video are here:

Yoro Keikoku momiji
Yoro Keikoku momiji
(Full photo album here:

Nov. 29, 2013 - Nighttime lightup of fall colors in Rikugien Garden

The 311-year-old Rikugien Garden, a Tokyo metropolitan park and former residence of Mitsubishi founder Yataro Iwasaki, is again holding their annual event to light up the beautiful fall colors at nighttime (六義園 紅葉と大名庭園のライトアップ 11/22~12/8). Although the event is scheduled thru Dec. 8, if you'd like to see this remarkable display, I suggest you go ASAP before the wind & rain blow all the gorgeous leaves away. The rest of my pics are here:

Nov. 28, 2013 - The busiest travel day of the year

In America, the day before Thanksgiving Day is generally regarded as the busiest travel day of the whole year. Well, I'd have to say that this screenshot captured on Wed. around 5 pm Pacific Standard Time certainly lends a lot of credibility to that claim.  Flightradar24 is a flight tracking service that provides real-time info on thousands of aircraft around the world. (

Wed. Nov. 27, 2013 air traffic
Wed. Nov. 27, 2013 air traffic

Nov. 25, 2013 - Christmas Sale on my new "Climbing Mt. Fuji" eBook!

The View from the Top of Japan
Christmas Sale now on

(Buy for yourself or give as a Xmas present to that someone special by clicking on "Give as a gift" and entering coupon code TS93M @ checkout.)

eBooks from Smashwords, the world's largest distributor of indie eBooks, are available in 9 different formats, including the html & pdf formats for reading on your PC or for home printing. Or they can be downloaded to e-reading devices such as the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Amazon Kindle, Sony Reader, Barnes & Noble Nook, Kobo, and most other e-reading apps.

This eBook will make a GRRRRRREAT stocking stuffer....besides, it even costs less than a cup of coffee @ Starbucks! smiley   Merry, merry Xmas!!

Nov. 21, 2013 - 生明祭 (Ikumeisai), Ikuta Meiji Festival, Nov. 22-24, 2013

It's university festival season (大学祭のシーズン) in Japan! This cute signboard shows all the action-packed events & performances scheduled for the main stage over the next 3 days, including dance shows, live rock bands, a cappella choir, taekwondo, impersonator contest, faculty IQ quiz, and even freestyle soccer. Japanese university students rock! smiley

Ikumeisai signboard
Ikumeisai (生明祭) signboard

Nov. 19, 2013 - 11/17 IMA Charity Flea Market

A happy group of music-makers at Kristin's songwriting workshop, which was part of the Sun. 11/17 charity flea market & bake sale to benefit Tohoku victims of the 2011 Japan quake & tsunami. Totally worth coming out early on a Sunday for! Thank you, Kristin! With Louise, Mirai, Amanda, and Yuta.

Kristin's songwriting workshop
Photo credit: Louise George Kittaka

Nov. 16, 2013 - Happy Xmas from Tokyo!

I wonder if the heart isn't a subliminal marketing reminder that Valentine's Day is right around the corner. smiley Valentine's Day is BIG business in Japan, where sales of chocolate alone top $500 million, accounting for 12% of the entire whopping annual chocolate sales of $4.4 billion.

Xmas tree with heart
Xmas tree with heart

Nov. 12, 2013 - Busy 2013 Pacific typhoon season

If you think it's been a busy typhoon season in the Northwest Pacific Ocean this year, right you are! Because of an above average number of fall typhoons (aki-taifū, 秋台風), Japan had 28 typhoons thru Oct. and the number is likely to surpass 30 — the first time this will have happened in 19 years. The largest typhoon in a decade and 2 typhoons occurring simultaneously certainly made 2013 "taifū no atari doshi" (台風の当たり年, the year when we hit the jackpot of typhoons).

2013 Pacific typhoons
2013 Pacific typhoons

Nov. 7, 2013 - The 4-day crescent moon & Venus...

 ...adorn the streets of Harajuku, Tokyo. Thurs., 5:12 pm.

Crescent moon & Venus in Harajuku, Tokyo
Crescent moon & Venus in Harajuku, Tokyo

Nov. 5, 2013 - Kibō no Kabe (希望の壁, wall of hope)

A huge 9-meter-high (~30 ft), 78-meter-wide wall (~256 ft), covered with 100 varieties of flowers and greenery including cosmos flowers, has been unveiled in an office district of Osaka, western Japan. Osaka-born architect Tadao Ando, who designed the project, said he wanted to make Osaka more beautiful by adding greenery and hopes the wall makes people cheerful.


Kibo no Kabe (希望の壁, wall of hope)
Kibō no Kabe (希望の壁, wall of hope)

Nov. 1, 2013 - 3 Up, 5 Down

Let's all save electricity! If you're going up 3 floors or less or going down 5 floors or less, let's give the elevator a breather & take the stairs. Oh, and did we mention we can burn off a few calories in the process? smiley

3 floors up, 5 floors down
3 floors up, 5 floors down

Oct. 29, 2013 - Digital Analytics Fundamentals

Woo-hoo. Lifelong learning is where it's at, baby. smiley This was a 3-week online course to learn the latest analytical tools for tracking website performance, particularly as it relates to ecommerce:

Google Analytics Academy Certificate

Oct. 25, 2013 - MAY I HAVE THIS DANCE?

"Tango is not like life, my dear. There are no mistakes in Tango -- if you get tangled up, you just Tango on."

--Al Pacino to Gabrielle Anwar in the '92 flick, "Scent of a Woman"--


Typhoons 27 & 28 approach Japan together
Typhoons Francisco (台風27号) & Lekima (台風28号)
approach Japan at the same time

Oct. 22, 2013 - Typhoons 27 & 28 approach Japan together

Nah, just ONE typhoon is not enough. Just go ahead and send us TWO....AT THE SAME TIME!! smiley


Typhoons 27 & 28 approach Japan together
Typhoons 27 & 28 approach Japan together

Oct. 16, 2013 - Post-Typhoon 26 sunset in Tokyo, 4:55 pm

Post-Typhoon 26 sunset in Tokyo, 4:55 pm
Post-Typhoon 26 sunset in Tokyo, 4:55 pm

Oct. 14, 2013 - Akebono Taro goes for All Japan pro wrestling championship

44-year-old former Japanese sumo yokozuna grand champion Akebono Taro (born Chad Rowan) from Hawaii, and who took up pro wrestling in 2005, will fight for the All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW) heavyweight triple crown on Oct. 27 in the Ryogoku Sumo Arena vs. current title holder Suwama. During his 13-year sumo wrestling career, Akebono, the first non-Japanese-born wrestler ever to reach yokozuna, sumo's highest rank, compiled a career total of 11 tournament championships, and was runner-up in 13 other tournaments. GO AKEBONO!!


Japan pro wrestler Akebono Taro
Japan pro wrestler Akebono Taro


These are the luckiest Russians (still) alive! Miraculously, everyone (including the dog) walks away from these wrecks captured by dash cams.

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

Oct. 11, 2013 - EARLY crescent moon !!

Wow, today's 7-day, 47% waxing crescent moon was up EARLY! I first spotted it around 2:30 pm...

crescent moon
Early crescent moon

Oct. 10, 2013 - The most beautiful time-lapse ever?

Norwegian photographer Stian Rekdal combined thousands of photos to create this time-lapse video showcasing Iceland's natural beauty. He spent three weeks—and more than 3,000 miles—on the road and took more than 40,000 photos. He used about 3,500 of these to make the video. Don't miss the stunning aurora borealis, starting at 1:49.

If player above is not visible, you can view video
in separate window @ Vimeo here.

Oct. 8, 2013 - The train hammock gaijin (電車ハンモック外人)

If you're on a crowded Tokyo subway or train and can't find a seat, then just take a cue from Cloudyb Tokyo, my Aussie friend also known as the "train hammock gaijin (電車ハンモック外人)," who just simply hangs up his hammock to make his own seat. I used to sing & dance with this fella in children's English education stage shows (子どもの英語教育のショー) all over Japan and trust me, he's a VERY funny guy... smiley

Cloudy B Tokyo
Cloudy B Tokyo...
Cloudy B Tokyo
...a.k.a. the Train Hammock Gaijin
  A priceless video of Cloudy, featuring his famous
vacuum cleaner named Erick, is here

Oct. 7, 2013 - My barber's new bike

I don't believe I've ever seen tires this HUGE on a bicycle before!  Have you? smiley

fat tire bike
My barber's new fat tire bike

Oct. 4, 2013 - ATTENTION all Tokyoites,....

...especially if you patronize bars in Roppongi. The following comes courtesy of the Oct. 2013 Newsletter from the U.S. Embassy Tokyo: "The U.S. Embassy continues to receive reliable reports of U.S. citizens having been drugged in area bars. Most reports indicate that the victim unknowingly drinks a beverage that has been secretly mixed with a drug that renders the victim unconscious or stuporous for several hours, during which time large charges are fraudulently billed to the victim, sums of money are charged to the victim’s credit card, or the card is stolen. Victims sometimes regain consciousness in the bar or club, while at other times the victim awakens on the street. Assaults on Americans have also been reported in connection with drink-spiking."

More detailed info on serious crimes in Roppongi, including physical and sexual assaults, drug overdoses, theft of purses, wallets, cash, and credit cards, beatings, and even a murder ("Japan is a SAFE country!"), can be found on the U.S. State Dept.'s country specific page for Japan: (Click open "Safety and Security.")

Oct. 2, 2013 - Double rainbow!!

After Typhoon 22 (台風22号) passed by this afternoon, I saw what I guess is the most spectacular double rainbow (二重の虹) of my whole life. As soon as I exited my exercise gym around 17:00, a Japanese guy was shouting at the top of his lungs (in ENGLISH!), "Double rainbow! Double rainbow!" So it was kinda hard to miss. But regrettably, I still haven't found the accompanying double pots of gold. smiley

double rainbow
Double rainbow in Tokyo

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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Gary J. Wolff
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