This newly published article covers tips on how singing English songs
helps motivate Japanese university students in EFL classrooms in Japan.
Written in Jan. 2014, it just now appeared in the "My Share" section of
the Jan./Feb. 2015 issue of The
Language Teacher, published by the Japan Association for
Language Teaching (JALT).
2014 - "2014 - The
Year in Review"
It's been a great year! Thanks for being a part of it.
The most AMAZING Xmas package arrived from Houston yesterday!
Here's a breakown of my Xmas stash:
- 6 bags of Nora Wolff's world-famous Texas Trash snack mix, a tasty
concoction that's graced the Wolff household and its environs for at
least the past 4 decades
- Costco's premium "Chocolates of the World" from Italy, Germany,
Spain, Switzerland, Canada, and Belgium (Yummy!)
- Bath & Body Works anti-bacterial hand gel
- Texas Longhorn muscle shirt (to show off my ripped Schwarzenegger
physique next summer)
- Texas Longhorn bottle opener that plays the Longhorn Fight Song
- Texas Longhorn soft & comfy flip-flops
- Texas Longhorn gourmet salted peanuts
Needless to say, I'm gonna be "ready to go" for the Longhorn football
team's match-up with the Arkansas Razorbacks in next Monday's Advocare
V100 Texas Bowl in Houston.
I'm without question the luckiest guy on the planet. THANK YOU, MOM!
"Diamond Fuji" is a
phenomenon which occurs only from Oct. to Feb. when the sun sets into
rises out of Mt. Fuji's cone, setting off sunbeams that resemble a
After a failed attempt to view Diamond Fuji on Dec. 23, 2014 atop Mt.
Takao and a
lengthy but very fun Xmas Day Diamond Fuji discussion thread with my
friends in the "Hiking in Japan" group @ Facebook, I decided to put
together the webpage
linked above, listing the best high-rise spots in Tokyo for
viewing Diamond Fuji along with
recommended dates, sunset times, admission fees, and links to Google
Diamond Fuji photo
taken Feb. 17, 2011 by Berndt
2014 - My all-time favorite Xmas music video - Andrea Bocelli &
David Foster performing "White Christmas"
I just LOVE these 2 brilliant musicians.
Merry Xmas, everybody!!
Andrea Bocelli & David Foster performing "White Christmas"
(YouTube has restricted embedding of a video player above,
but you can view video
@ YouTube here.)
2014 - NORAD Tracks Santa over my hometown Houston, Texas
Wow, Santa just made the rounds in Texas and
passed thru Houston around 12:45 am local time (UTC - 6 hrs.). Besides
Houston, other observation points in Texas where Santa was tracked by
NORAD include Amarillo, Lubbock, Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio. Wow,
billion presents delivered so far...
NORAD Tracks Santa in Houston - 2014
2014 - NORAD Tracks Santa over Tokyo, Japan
Santa just made the rounds in Japan from Iwo Jima to Sapporo, and
passed thru Tokyo around 11:15 pm local time (UTC + 9 hrs.) on Xmas
Other observation points in Japan tracked by NORAD included Kyoto,
Okinawa, Yokohama, Nagasaki, and Itsukushima. Wow, already over 970
million presents delivered so far...
This year's Midtown Christmas Illuminations in Roppongi, Tokyo features
a "Midtown Cruise," created by a half million twinkling lights. The
illuminations in this walking cruise include "Tree Illuminations," the
"Starlight Road," a pathway of glittering white and blue lights, 9
trees that sparkle in the shape of a champagne glass, a pink
60-year-old "Miracle Tree" where you can make a wish, and the climax of
journey which is the absolutely breathtaking Starlight Garden, whose
"Space Journey" theme features 180,000 lights including a new "stick
illumination," the first of its kind in Japan that sends light up to 4
meters into the air.
If all that weren't enough, you can also see the "Enya Tree," a small,
white-sparkling fir tree planted in November 2008 by the world-famous
Irish singer Enya, with a wish for "coexistence between humanity and
nature." More details on the 2014 Midtown Xmas Illuminations, which can
viewed till 11 pm every night thru Xmas Day, can be found here: http://www.tokyo-midtown.com/en/events_news/detail.php?id=555
My 11-min. video of the 2014 Midtown Christmas Illuminations
(If player above is not visible, you can view video
@ YouTube here.)
Here are some video highlights:
1:48 The 9 champagne glass trees
2:22 Starlight Garden show
10:38 Miracle Tree (make a wish!)
10:55 The Enya Tree
7, 2014 - Nighttime lightup of Rikugien fall colors (六義園紅葉のライトアップ)
Gaien Ichou Namiki Dori (外苑いちょう並木 通り, Ginkgo Avenue) is one of my
favorite spots to view fall colors in Tokyo. Today the golden ginkgo
trees were spectacular, as they are every year this 1st week in
2014 - Christmas Sale on both of my mountain climbing eBooks!
NOW ON SALE @ SMASHWORDS
FOR ONLY $2.99
UNTIL CHRISTMAS DAY!!
for yourself or give as a present to that someone special by
clicking on "Give as a gift." Either way, just enter the coupon code
checkout to get the discounted price: The View from the Top of Japan: UX49L Climbing Mt. Fuji: HR93T
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.
These eBooks will make GRRRRRREAT stocking stuffers or can be printed
out as coffee table books.... besides, they even
cost less than a cup of coffee @ Starbucks!
Japanese university students are often called upon to prepare and
present posters in their technical English classes. A tall, handsome
university professor from Houston, Texas spoke Mon. Nov. 24, 2014 at
the JALT2014 national language teacher's conference in Tsukuba, Japan
to share online resources his 3rd-year university technical English
students use to prepare their scientific posters.
These resources included the design and layout of posters, sample
poster templates, posters prepared by his former students, and also a
sampling of posters presented in the poster sessions at this 4-day
Tsukuba language teacher's conference.
If all that weren't enough, the presentation was captured in a
breathtakingly exciting video (ha-ha!), which along with online notes
& more details from the presentation (including all links) can be
viewed here: Preparing
and Presenting Scientific Posters
JALT2014 presenter Gary Wolff
2014 - Happy Birthday to ME!
Here's an absolutely hilarious video from my wonderful sis on the
occasion of my birthday. Check it out by clicking the image below!
18, 2014 - World's tallest man meets world's shortest man
Sultan Kösen, 31, the tallest man in the world, is a Turkish farmer who
measures 8 feet, 3 inches (~251 cm) tall. On Thursday, for the first
time he met Nepalese weaver Chandra Bahadur Dangi, 74, the shortest man
in the world who is just 21½ inches (~55 cm) tall. The occasion was the
10th annual Guinness World Records Day, which celebrates record-setting
achievements around the globe.
World's tallest & shortest men
(Photo credit: Daniel Deme/WENN.com)
2014 - Taylor Swift (テイラー・スウィフト) is HOT....even in Japan!
I spotted this ad for Taylor Swift's new "1989" album inside a Tokyo
train car on my way home tonight. Wow, go テイラー!!
Ad in Japan for Taylor Swift's new "1989" album
2014 - My 1st mountain climbing book shows up in my doc's office
Maybe you can imagine my shock & pleasant surprise recently to see
my 1st mountain climbing book, "The
View from the Top of Japan," on the shelf in my doctor's office
waiting room. Wow!
[OK, well in the spirit of full disclosure, I DID give this book to my
doc back in the spring of last year, but it was great to see that he's
sharing it with his other patients!]
Yesterday I had the pleasure of seeing one of Japan's top 100
waterfalls, along with some stunning fall colors.
Prefecture's Nishizawa Keikoku (西沢渓谷), about a 90-minute train ride and
1-hr. bus ride west of Shinjuku, is one of the most beautiful valleys
of the Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park and features several waterfalls,
including the spectacular 5-tiered Nanatsugama-Godan-no-Taki.
It's particularly beautiful during the peak of the autumn leaves season
Oct. & early Nov. The hike was
organized by Jambo International.
below to open full-size images,
or click here to view entire 68-pic album.
One cannot help but admire the brilliance of Japanese creativity.... in
this case, celebrating the Halloween season with a sneak preview of
2014 - NASA gets into Halloween spirit with jack-o-lantern pic of the
(Image credit: NASA/GSFC/SDO)
This image, taken by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory on October 8, is
a composite of two images of extreme ultraviolet wavelengths at 171 and
193 Ångströms (not visible to the naked eye), appearing gold and yellow
to create a jack-o-lantern like appearance.
Blending together the 2 sets of extreme ultraviolet wavelengths shows
the sun's most active regions, which appear brighter because those are
areas that emit more light and energy.
WOW! Trick or treat!!
14, 2014 - Typhoon Vongfong slams Japan; 2nd in a week
The 2nd powerful typhoon in a week has struck the entire Japanese
archipelago, leaving a broad path of destruction in its wake. Typhoon
Vongfong (a Macao Chinese word meaning "wasp"), also known in Japan as
Typhoon 19 (台風19号), has killed 2 people and injured at least 93
nationwide, with 1 missing.
A 90-year-old man was found dead in an irrigation channel in Tottori
Prefecture and a 72-year-old man drowned after driving his light truck
into a pond in Ehime Prefecture.
Injuries include a 39-year-old American pilot whose light plane crashed
in the city of Ibusuki in Kagoshima Prefecture, near the southernmost
tip of the main island of Kyushu, and a man in his 20s and a 9-year-old
girl, who in separate cases, both had a finger severed when high winds
slammed doors shut.
On Oct. 7 Vongfong strengthened to super typhoon status with wind
speeds of 180 mph (80 m/s) and a central pressure of 900 millibars,
making it the strongest tropical storm on earth since Typhoon Haiyan
slammed into the Philippines last November with maximum sustained winds
of 195 mph (87 m/s), killing over 6,000 people.
Although Vongfong weakened to a tropical storm before making landfall
on the southern main island of Kyushu, the most notable impact of the
storm was the nationwide rainfall amounts, as seen in the graphic
below. In Satsumasendai City in Kagoashima Prefecture, the storm dumped
85 mm (3.3 in.) of rain during a 1-hr. period on Mon. morning.
As of midday Monday local time, the highest rainfall total from
Vongfong anywhere in Japan was found in Kunigami (on the northern end
of Okinawa Island) where 21.95 inches (557.5 mm) of rain were reported.
Also, some parts of Okinawa, Miyazaki, and Kochi Prefectures received
well over 400 mm (~16 in.) in a 24-hour period.
Typhoon Vongfong nationwide 24-hour rainfall amounts,
as of 6:10 am, Tues. Oct. 14, 2014
(red bars indicate >100 mm (3.9 in.), many of them >400 mm (~16
(image credit: NHK)
2014 - Danny Macaskill rides Scotland's Cuillin Ridgeline
In general, I'm not a big fan of cyling in the mountains (especially if
they're on the same trail I'm hiking on),
but this remarkable video
shows one of the most incredible, daredevil feats I've ever seen. Danny
Macaskill took a death-defying ride on his Santa Cruz Bronson mountain
bike along the notorious Cuillin
Ridgeline in his native home on the Isle of Skye in Scotland.
just 10 days ago, as of today this video has been viewed over 15
million times. I believe my favorite parts begin @ the 1:44, 2:00,
2:17, 3:06, 3:37, 4:30, 5:17, 5:42, 6:08, & 6:19 min. marks.
(If player above is not visible, you can view video
@ YouTube here.)
Interestingly, I had the pleasure of
riding my friend's $5,500 Santa Cruz Tallboy last month in Denver
Santa Cruz Tallboy
(my entire 105-pic Colorado photo album is here)
Oct. 8 -
The total lunar eclipse from Tokyo
Well, I got to see the 1st half of it....before the clouds moved in. And yep, in that 1st pic, I captured a
jumbo jet flying across the face of the moon!
The partial umbral eclipse began @ 18:15 & the total eclipse began
By far the best lunar eclipse I've ever seen, even though I missed the
entire 2nd half!
2014 - Total lunar eclipse - Wed. Oct. 8
A total eclipse of the full moon will occur on Wed. October 8, 2014.
For North America and the Hawaiian Islands, the total lunar eclipse
happens in the wee hours before sunrise on October 8. For New Zealand,
Australia and eastern Asia (including Japan), the total eclipse is seen
after sunset on October 8. A partial lunar eclipse can be seen before
sunrise, October 8, from much of South America, or after sunset,
October 8, from western Asia.
Here are the viewing times for Tokyo (& Houston):
Partial umbral eclipse begins: 18:15 (4:15 am)
Total eclipse begins: 19:25 (5:25)
Greatest eclipse: 19:55 (5:55)
Total eclipse ends: 20:24 (6:24)
Partial umbral eclipse ends: 21:34 (7:34)
These 2 pics were taken within 5 min. of each other.
Mon. Oct. 6, 2014 moonrise, 5:18 pm
Mon. Oct. 6, 2014 sunset, 5:13 pm
5, 2014 - Here comes Typhoon Phanfone. Watch out, Tokyo!
Category 4 Supertyphoon Phanfone (Typhoon 18, 台風18号), a Laotian term
for "animal," is already pounding islands south of Kyushu with
torrential rains and wind gusts of up to 101 mph as the storm heads
north towards Tokyo.
Winds at Japan's Kita-daitō (North Daitō Island) gusted to 45.3 m/s
(101 mph) at 2:35 pm JST (1:35 am U.S. EDT) on Saturday, before the
wind observations were knocked offline. Minami-daitō has set an
all-time calendar-day record for the month of October with 217.0 mm
(8.54 inches) of rain, beating the old October record of 198.5 mm on
Oct. 26, 2010.
Heavy rains from Phanfone are the main threat, and are likely to bring
dangerous flash flooding and mudslides. One precipitation forecast
model predicts that Phanfone will dump widespread rains of 4-8"
(102-203 mm) across much of Japan.
Two top models for predicting typhoon tracks, the GFS and European,
predicted with their 12:00 Zulu Saturday runs that Phanfone would hit
the main Japanese island of Honshu near 18 UTC on Sunday, and make its
closest pass by Tokyo around 9 am Monday morning Japan time.
As of 9 am Sun. morning, the U.S. Navy's Joint Typhoon Warning Center
is forecasting Typhoon Phanfone to pass within only 19 nautical miles
(~35 km) of the Yokosuka navy base, just south of Japan's capital.
Should make for a very interesting Monday morning commute for the 9
million residents of Tokyo's 23-ward metro area.
Source: Dr. Jeff Masters, co-founder of Weather Underground
Typhoon Phanfone radar, as of 9:15 am, Sun. Oct. 5, Japan time
(Photo credit: Weather Underground)
- Widespread flooding occurred across Japan, especially in Shizuoka
Prefecture where over 400 mm (~16 in.) of rain was recorded in some
areas within a 24-hr. period. Over 19 inches (~480 mm) of rain fell in
the prefecture's mountainous regions over a 3-day period.
-Tokyo recorded wind gusts up to 70 mph (~31 m/s), and sustained winds
around or above 40 mph (~18 m/s) lasted for about 2 hours in the city.
- 3 people are dead and 4 others are missing. A member of the U.S. Air
Force drowned while taking photos on the coast of southern Okinawa
Prefecture on Sunday. Two other fellow US airmen were also washed out
to sea and are still missing.
- Also on Sunday, a university student disappeared while surfing in
rough seas off the coastal city of Fujisawa, south of Tokyo.
- On Monday, 2 men in Yokohama died after being buried in mudslides at
- A junior high school student is missing after being taken away by
high waves from a beach in Yokosuka.
- 62 people were injured across the country.
- JR rail officials suspended services on the main JR Tokaido Line in
Shizuoka City after a landslide washed away a short section of track.
Officials are unsure when trains will be able to start running again.
- Airlines cancelled about 630 flights on Monday morning, mostly to or
from Tokyo's Haneda Airport.
- Over 2.9 million people were issued evacuation advisories.]
2014 - Emily Skye's 28 Day Ab Shred
Go Emily! WOW!
(If player above is not visible, you can view video
@ YouTube here.)
The first 2-week Diamond Fuji viewing season of the New Year from Tokyo has now begun. Diamond Fuji (ダイヤモンド富士) is a phenomenon which occurs when the sun sets into or rises out of Mt. Fuji's cone, sett…
A woman was flying from Melbourne to Brisbane. Unexpectedly, the plane was diverted to Sydney. The flight attendant explained that there would be a delay, and if the passengers wanted to get off the a…
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