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Home: Gary J. Wolff's Blog: Gary J. Wolff's Blog Archives, October-December, 2017

Gary J. Wolff's Blog Archives
October-December, 2017

This page shows archived posts for Gary J. Wolff's blog from October-December, 2017.



Dec. 27, 2017 - "2017, THE YEAR IN PICTURES!!" (a video!)

A 3-min. movie of 2017 highlights, created with the "Memories" feature in the iOS Photos app. Many of the pics are of my Feb. trip to Ao Nang, Thailand, my Aug. trip to Alaska, & my many wonderful Tokyo musician friends. Enjoy!

It's been a great year, and thanks for being a part of it! Best wishes for a super-duper 2018, the Year of the Dog! (woof, woof) smiley

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

Dec. 25, 2017 - NORAD Tracks Santa in Japan, Dec. 24, 2017

Here's NORAD's offical video of Santa's 2017 visit to Japan, captured in real-time by a Santa Cam. Don't miss Santa flying over the cone of Mt. Fuji! This is a FIRST!!

NORAD Tracks Santa in Japan, Dec. 24, 2017 (NORAD video)
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)

On Xmas Eve 2017, Santa visited Japan around 11 pm local time. The main cities visited include Sapporo, Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Yokohama, Hiroshima, and Naha, Okinawa. Here's the video I made on my home PC. Don't miss Rudolph's RED NOSE!  smiley

NORAD Tracks Santa in Japan, Dec. 24, 2017 (my video)
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)

Dec. 17, 2017 - Tokyo Midtown Christmas 2017 Illumination

Without question, the Japanese are true masters of Xmas illumination, and so, despite the bitter cold, Tokyo is a VERY delightful place to be in the holiday season!

Completed in March 2007, Tokyo Midtown is celebrating 10 years with their incredible 510,000-light "Midtown Christmas 2017" illumination event. Don't miss the illumination "fireflies" in adjacent trees at the 4:48 min. mark.

The illumination can be viewed every night from 5-11 pm until 12/25. More details on the Tokyo Midtown website:

My video of Tokyo Midtown Christmas 2017 Illumination
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)

Dec. 7, 2017 - Merry Xmas 2017 from Santa Mickey (サンタミッキー) in Tokyo!

​Happy holiday season, everybody! Eight years ago, the world-famous Santa Mickey (サンタミッキー) made his very lively debut in a Tokyo karaoke box, singing some of the most famous Christmas carols. Since then, Santa Mickey has been thrilling kids worldwide with Xmas carol karaoke practice. [Santa Mickey's original 2009 performance of 5 Xmas songs is in this playlist.]

Well, back by popular demand, here he is again, this time in a somewhat more subdued manner, but still full of Christmas spirit, sharing with you his favorite Christmas songs. So please grab a drink, sit back, and enjoy the magic of this 2017 holiday season. smiley

Merry Xmas 2017 from Santa Mickey (サンタミッキー) in Tokyo!
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)

0:00 Opening greeting
0:46 Jingle Bell Rock
3:02 White Christmas
6:08 Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
8:33 Blue Christmas
10:53 Silver Bells
13:57 I'll Be Home For Christmas
17:00 Winter Wonderland
19:28 We Wish You A Merry Christmas
21:06 Closing greeting

Dec. 3, 2017 - Massive tornado destruction special effects

​Despite a claim on the ​internet that National Geographic paid $1 million for this video​,​ according to Snopes​,​ ​the video is in fact computer​-generated special effects that originally appeared in the ​2014 ​Hollywood movie ​"Into the ​Storm.​"

Nonetheless, it’s absolutely mind​-blowing to see ​​​the destructive ​effects of these make-believe tornadoes. Don't miss the jumbo jets being tossed about like children's toys at the 3:15 mark. Wow!

Massive tornado destruction special effects
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)

Nov. 26, 2017 - My video of Caretta Illumination 2017

In its remarkable 15th season, Caretta Shiodome's illumination theme this year is the Disney movie "Beauty & the Beast." Shows run every 15 minutes from 5-10 pm between Nov. 16, 2017 & Feb. 14, 2018.

Shiodome is located near Tokyo's Shimbashi Station. More details including access map are here:

My other Caretta Illumination videos, going back to Year 2007, can be viewed in this playlist.

My video of Caretta Illumination 2017
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)

Nov. 19, 2017 - My President Richard Nixon mask

Last week my longtime friend and former coworker Tom Kilbride (far right in the pic below) sent me this amazing reminder of a very fun Halloween party we had 30+ years ago at our former employer, Success Motivation Institute, in Waco, Texas.

WOW! As I told Tom, and as my college roomies can surely confirm, I was quite the Nixon impersonator in my younger days (Imagine me shooting the peace sign with both hands while chanting "FOUR MORE YEARS, FOUR MORE YEARS"... ).  smiley

I definitely got a lot of mileage outta that very fun Richard Nixon mask...

Richard Nixon mask halloween costume
My Richard Nixon mask halloween costume

Nov. 11, 2017 - Superstar international goodwill ambassador Arabella Kushner

This is without question of the cutest things I think I've ever seen.

While Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan welcomed President Donald Trump & first lady Melania Trump at Beijing's Forbidden City on Wednesday Nov. 8, on a tablet computer, Pres. Trump showed Xi and Peng video clips of his 6-year-old granddaughter, Arabella Kushner, singing in Mandarin and reciting part of the Three-Character Classic and several ancient Chinese poems.

WOW, how precious! The video has gone viral & Arabella is now a child star in China.

Superstar international goodwill ambassador Arabella Kushner
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)

Nov. 4, 2017 - Houston Astros -- World Series Champions!

THEY DID IT! My most heartfelt congrats to the 2017 World Series Champion Houston Astros! I'm now on Cloud 9, as are millions of other fans in my hometown, America's 4th largest city. YAY! smiley

Houston Astros World Series Champs
(photo credit:

Oct. 28, 2017 - Go Astros!​ smiley

​After the World Series start​ed on Tuesday​,​ I had a panic attack when I realized I no longer had ​a Houston Astros ​baseball​ cap​ ​in my home. Because I wanted to wear one to support my hometown team, on Thursday night I purchased ​a new ​cap at the ​"Selection​"​ American sporting good​s​ shop in Shinjuku.

Before leaving​,​ the shop staff asked if he could take my picture wearing my new cap and I said ​"Of course.​" He then gave me the shop's business card with a QR code linking to their ​"​snap​ photo" blog pa​​ge​​.

​So here I am wearing my new​ cap​. Go Astros!​ smiley

 new Astros cap
Caption on Selection blog page: ヒューストンからお越しのお客様です!アストロズのキャップ購入頂きました♪キャップを被ってアストロズを応援して下さい\(^o^)/
Translation: This customer comes from Houston! He bought an Astros cap. Please support the Astros by wearing the cap.
(Selection snap photo blog page:

Oct. 24, 2017 - Quote of the Day

"Don't complain. Eighty percent of the people you complain to don't care and the other 20 percent are glad you have problems."

--Legendary college football coach Lou Holtz--

Oct. 23, 2017 - Glow-in-the-dark ceiling stars!

My glow-in-the-dark ceiling star project is now nearly complete. While taking a break from helping my family recover from Hurricane Harvey last month, I slipped over to Houston's Museum of Natural Science gift shop one day to pick up a pack of 60 glow-in-the-dark mini-stars for only $6.95.  

glow-in-the-dark ceiling stars
My glow-in-the-dark ceiling stars

I really like this method of stargazing… no mosquitoes, rainouts, bears, or snakes. smiley I've been a big fan of the sky since I earned the Boy Scout ​Astronomy merit badge at age 13​, thanks to our wonderful scoutmaster Paul Caillet.

For the first couple weeks after returning back to Japan ​(​while I was getting my new university fall semester kicked off and in motion​),​ there were only ​2 constellations on my ceiling... ​my two favorites​... ​the ​Big and ​Little ​Dippers, because of the pointer star configuration for locating the Nor​th Star​....​ very useful ​when lost in the wilderness at night​. smiley

But within the past week or so​,​ I've managed to add the ​4 latest constellations: Orion​,​ ​Cygnus, Scorpius (my zodiac sign)​,​ and Sagittarius, at the 3​:00, 5​:00, 7:00, and 8​:00 ​clock ​positions​, respectively,​ as I gaze up at my ceiling.

So what to do with the final ​4 stars, that is the question. Although there ARE ​some obscure ​constellations with only ​4 stars, I’m not a big fan of any of them.

Oct. 14, 2017 - Mom's Texas ​Trash!!

Sometimes I feel like I'm the luckiest guy on the planet because of this wonderful snack mix that ​Mom ​has been ​​making ​now for nearly a remarkable​ ​​half​-​century.

Every time I visit Houston​,​ she cooks up a ​couple of batches​ of Texas Trash​​,​ using her own special recipe, and prepared with a lot of tender loving care. As a result​,​ I always come back to Japan with 15​-20 bags of this amazing concoction to share with my friends​,​ neighbors​,​ and coworkers.

Yummy, yummy!

Bless you​,​ ​Mom! I fe​​el your love​...​​ smiley

Mom's Texas Trash
Mom's Texas Trash

Mom's Texas Trash recipe
Mom's Texas Trash recipe

A 2018 Facebook post by Mom: "When Gary was in college at the University of Texas (at Austin), there was a recipe for TV Mix in our church cookbook. It sounded good, so I started making it for him. Over the years I added more nuts and several other items and named my version Texas Trash. Over the years I have received many notes from his friends thanking me. So it warms my heart that he and others liked it so much."

Oct. 3, 2017 - Good morning from Tokyo!

This is the amazing sunrise I awoke to yesterday on an early Monday morning to begin my workweek:

red sky morning
Red sky morning, Tokyo, Japan
Mon. Oct. 2, 2017, 5:33 am

"Red sky at night, sailors' delight.
Red sky at morning, sailors take warning." smiley

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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GW's road trip ebook cover
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(¥114 at アマゾン日本)

new Climbing Mt. Fuji book
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Only $2.99 at Amazon
(¥343 at アマゾン日本)