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Home: Gary J. Wolff's Blog: Gary J. Wolff's Blog Archives, October-December, 2021

Gary J. Wolff's Blog Archives
October-December, 2021


This page shows archived posts for Gary J. Wolff's blog from October-December, 2021.

Enjoy...

Cheers, 
Gary



Dec. 30, 2021 - 2021 - the Year in Pictures

I am indeed very thankful for another wonderful year! As I have done in years past, I sometimes like to put together a collection of photos reflecting back on some of my favorite memories of the past year. I hope you enjoy the 40 photos in my video below. Best wishes for a gr-r-reat Twenty Twenty-Two, the Year of (Tony) the Tiger... laughing icon



​​2021 - the Year in Pictures
(If player above is not visible, you can view video at YouTube here.)




Dec. 25, 2021 - NORAD Tracks Santa as he visits Mt. Fuji, Japan & Houston, Texas

In case any of my Tokyo friends missed him, Santa & his 9 reindeer passed over Mt. Fuji (富士山) last night (Xmas Eve) a little after 11 pm. Here's NORAD's official video of Santa's 2021 visit to Japan, captured in real-time by a NORAD (*) Santa Cam. Don't miss Santa flying DIRECTLY over the cone of Mt. Fuji! WOW!!


NORAD Tracks Santa in Japan, Dec. 24, 2021 (NORAD video)
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)


Santa Claus & his 9 reindeer also flew over my hometown, Houston, Texas, last night during his 24-hour journey around the globe. This happened around 12:15 am Houston time. Here's the video captured by an official NORAD Santa Cam as he passed over Texas' largest city a couple years ago:



NORAD Tracks Santa over Houston, Texas, Dec. 24, 2019
(If player above is not visible, you can view video @ YouTube here.)

Total Xmas gifts delivered by Santa Claus this year: 7,623,693,263  WOW!

(*) North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD)




Dec. 22, 2021 - Sasano Band, Little Texas honky-tonk, Meguro, Tokyo, Dec. 18, 2021

Whoever said there isn't any authentic, live country music in Japan got it all WRONG. smiley And it's even more exciting when you can listen & dance to it in Little Texas (リトルテキサス), the "World's Smallest Texas Honky-Tonk," a place that'll make you swear you're inside a real live Houston honky-tonk instead of right in the heart of Tokyo. Please say hello to Ms. Sasano Kawamura (河村ささ野), one of Tokyo's hottest country singers! Yee hah!! laughing icon



​​Sasano Band, Little Texas honky-tonk, Meguro, Tokyo, Dec. 18, 2021
(If player above is not visible, you can view video at YouTube here.)




Dec. 19, 2021 - Dickey's BBQ Pit, Tokyo

Wow, there really IS a God. smiley And this Texican just got a WHOLE lot more homesick. We can now enjoy yet another spot to chow down on authentic Texas BBQ right in the heart of Tokyo, and just in time for Xmas.

A big TEXAS-size High 5 for the heads-up to my good Facebook musician buddy, Santa Sparky Guitarslinger. smiley

Less than 24 hours after hearing about this new Texas BBQ restaurant from Sparky, I was dining in their Yoyogi branch. Here are my pics: https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjzvoci

Not great, but not bad. The brisket was juicy, tender, and moderately flavorful, the coleslaw and BBQ sauce were to die for, the dinner roll soft & tasty, the creamy spinach needs work, and they were a bit stingy on the onions and pickles.

I want to try the Meguro shop next.


Dickeys BBQ Tokyo
Dickeys BBQ Tokyo
(Photo credit: Dickey's BBQ Japan Facebook page)




Dec. 10, 2021 - Tokyo Fall Colors in December 2021

It’s that gorgeous time of year again in Tokyo when nature's paintbrush adds a lot of colorful cheer to our lives. These pics were taken this past week in a number of spots famous for fall colors, including Rikugien (六義園), the historic, centuries-old Japanese garden which was designed in 1702 (before America was born).

This kind of beautiful scenery brings a lot of childhood joy to folks like myself, even after 30 years here, as there is nothing even close to this in my home state of Texas. Japan is indeed one beautiful country...

 
Tokyo fall colors in December 2021
Tokyo fall colors in December 2021
 (click here to view full album)




Dec. 8, 2021 - "O Holy Night" by opera singers Paul Hartfield Sr. & Robert Hartfield

Father & son duet. Raised in the East Texas city of Lufkin and a graduate of the famed Stephen F. Austin State University music school, international opera singer Paul Hartfield is in style and spirit a true Italian tenor.

Mr. Hartfield earned a number of America's most prestigious singing awards early in his career, and was very soon singing with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, New York City Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Greater Miami Opera, Seattle Opera, Kansas City Opera, Utah Opera, Tampa Bay Opera, and San Diego Opera.

Mr. Hartfield's international engagements have included the Theatre des Champs-Elysees, Opera de Monte Carlo, Teatro Comunale di Bologna, the Bel Canto Festival (France), Hong Kong Opera, and Cape Town Opera.



​​O Holy Night - Paul Hartfield Sr. & Robert Hartfield
(If player above is not visible, you can view video at YouTube here.)

[I had the pleasure of meeting Paul back in his college days in Nacogdoches thru Ted Stewart, a mutual friend, who also studied opera at SFASU. I absolutely LOVE this beautiful song, "It is Well with My Soul," that Paul sang at Ted's funeral 12 years ago. By all means, don't miss the amazing crescendo in this song starting at the 4:20 mark where you can hear Paul's gifted operatic voice!]




Dec. 2, 2021 - My Nov. 25, 2021 visit to Tokyo Disneyland (東京ディズニーランド)

The Disney Parks slogans "The Happiest Place on Earth" where "Dreams Come True" work even for sexagenarians! smiley

13 rides (one of them twice) in only 9.5 hours made for a very busy day indeed!

And it wasn't until walking out of Space Mountain after riding it a 2nd time just before the 8 pm park closing that I heard the English announcement: "This ride is not recommended for those with heart conditions or of advanced age!" laughing icon


Tokyo Disneyland - 21.11.25
Tokyo Disneyland - Nov. 25, 2021
View all pics here: My Nov. 25, 2021 visit to Tokyo Disneyland


Dec. 5, 2021 update:
And I was pleasantly surprised how well my video turned out, especially since I didn't have the best seat in the house to view the electrical light parade! smiley


​​My Nov. 25, 2021 visit to Tokyo Disneyland (東京ディズニーランド)
(If player above is not visible, you can view video at YouTube here.)

Here are the 2 main video highlights:
5:06 It's a Small World (AMAZING!)
14:07 Electrical Light Parade DreamLights (EVEN MORE AMAZING!)




Nov. 27, 2021 - My Nov. 24, 2021 visit to the Tokyo Regional Immigration Services Bureau (東京出入国在留管理局)

In Japan, the Foreign Resident (gaijin) ID card is only good for 7 years, so when I visited immigration Wednesday to renew mine, my friend in Texas asked me to take some pictures.

But I guess maybe I overdid it. The weather that day was picture perfect, so I couldn't resist going somewhat overboard and becoming a bit too snap happy. laughing icon (If you ever visit Tokyo, the views from the Tokyo Monorail are AMAZING!)

Here are my pics: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmXb3hRP


Tokyo immigration office collage
Tokyo Regional Immigration Services Bureau
(The full Flickr album is here.)




Nov. 18, 2021 - How to Make a Paper Soccer Ball

Ever thought about making your own paper soccer ball? Follow these quick, easy steps to create your own colorful design. A free, fun activity for kids! [The Tokyo Wolffman is STILL a child!] laughing icon

How to Make a Paper Soccer Ball
How to Make a Paper Soccer Ball


More details here: How to Make a Paper Soccer Ball




Nov. 7, 2021 - "I Will Not Comply" by Blind Joe

Blind Joe Bommersbach, a country music artist who grew up in Fargo, North Dakota, is getting international attention and generating support from fans around the world for a new song that takes direct aim at COVID-19 mask and vaccine mandates.

The first time Blind Joe posted the amazing video below, YouTube deleted it after it received 48,000 views in only 24 hours.

Yes, he really is blind! smiley



"I Will Not Comply" by Blind Joe
[Click on the "CC" button for English subtitles. Click on the settings (gear) icon if you need to increase the subtitle font size.]
(If player above is not visible, you can view video at YouTube here.)

Lyrics:
I will not comply
Quit tryin' to take me to task
cuz I don’t wanna wear a mask
or take a vaccine that could maybe make me die
They got no scientific evidence to back that crap up
all they do is feed us lie after lie
That’s why I will not comply.

Since back last March I’ve had an achy breaky heart like old Billy Ray Cyrus
Been catching a case of the blues from the news around this damn coronavirus

Now they’re telling us we gotta keep our chin diapers up
even if we got the shot in the arm
But nobody’s talkin' 'bout exercise or eating food that’s fresh grown from the farm
That’s why I will not comply

Quit tryin' to take me to task
cuz I don’t wanna wear a mask
or take a vaccine that could maybe make me die
They got no scientific evidence to back that crap up
all they do is feed us lie after lie
That’s why I will not comply

Now listen y'all
The only way to stop the violence is for us to break the silence right now
So if you tend to agree and you’re pissed off like me
Stand your ass up and scream it out loud

Sing I will not comply
Quit tryin' to take me to task
cuz I don’t wanna wear a mask
or take a vaccine that could maybe make me die
They got no scientific evidence to back that crap up
all they do is feed us lie after lie
That’s why I will not comply

Yeah, I’m here to tell ya people I will not comply!!! No. That's the gospel truth!




Nov. 1, 2021 - Mr. Shohei Ohtani (大谷 翔平)

Ever since my hometown Houston Astros reached the World Series, I’ve had Major League Baseball on my brain nearly every day. So I would be remiss not to offer my kudos and most heartfelt congrats to Los Angeles Angels superstar Mr. Shohei Ohtani (大谷 翔平), who has just been named Player of the Year in a vote by his fellow pro baseball players. Ohtani-san is the first Japanese to be awarded the prize.

This bonafide Japanese hero is known in this country as a "nitoryu" (two-sword samurai, 二刀流), for his exceptional skills as both a pitcher and hitter. In fact, this year he became the 1st MLB player ever to be named both the starting pitcher and lead-off batter in an all-star game. Wow.

Here are just a few of his stellar accomplishments this season:
  • 9 wins as a pitcher
  • 156 strikeouts
  • 46 homers
  • 100 runs batted in (RBIs), and
  • 26 stolen bases
He also became only the 6th MLB player ever to achieve 45 home runs and 25 stolen bases in a season.

Ohtani-san has also received a number of other post-season awards and is a favorite to win the American League Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award, which will be announced on Nov. 18.

This amazing 27-year-old certainly brings a lot of pride to the Land of the Rising Sun!

Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels
Shohei Ohtani (大谷 翔平), Los Angeles Angels
(photo credit: elfildeo.com)

Nov. 18 update: Today Shohei Ohtani was named this year's Most Valuable Player in the MLB American League. Congrats, Ohtani-san!!




Oct. 25, 2021 - Houston Astros (ヒューストン・アストロズ) headed to the World Series…

​...for the 3rd time in the last 5 years! After clinching the American League pennant against the Boston Red Sox last Friday, the Astros will be hosting the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday, October 26 at Minute Maid Park in Houston to begin the 2021 World Series.

The Astros have home field advantage, where 4 of the 7 (if necessary) games will be played in Houston, and will be playing with 3 days of rest compared to only 2 days for the Braves, which includes the time required for them to fly to Houston.

In 2017 after the Astros reached the World Series en route to their world championship, I purchased ​a new Astros ball ​cap at the ​"Selection​"​ American sporting good​s​ shop in Shinjuku, Tokyo.

Before leaving​,​ the shop staff asked if he could take my picture wearing my new cap so he could add it to the store's ​"​snap​ photo" blog pa​​ge​​ and I said ​"Of course."

For the past week or so, I’ve been sporting my Houston Astros ball cap EVERYWHERE including in my online university classes, smiley and here I am wearing my cap in 2017​. Go Astros!​


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.




Oct. 12, 2021 - Young Japanese boy softball pitcher (日本の少年ソフトボールのピッチャー)

​I almost fell off my bicycle the other day when I noticed this young boy, I’m guessing no more than 7 or 8 years old, pitching like a real pro against grown adults in a parents vs. children softball game. Having grown up watching my Hall of Famer softball pitcher dad, Walter F. Wolff, I must say I was totally impressed. And this precious, tiny little boy was SO cute!​​



Young Japanese boy softball pitcher (日本の少年ソフトボールのピッチャー)
(If player above is not visible, you can view video at YouTube here.)




Oct. 8, 2021 - U.S. Freedom Flyers



U.S. Freedom Flyers - We Do Not Consent
(If player above is not visible, you can view video at YouTube here.)

Background song: "Rescue" by Lauren Daigle




Oct. 5, 2021 - Chichibu Hiking (秩父ハイキング), Oct. 3, 2021

​One of the beauties of living in the world's most populous metropolis is how easy it is to get back to nature. Just one example was a couple days ago when I joined the Jambo International hiking group for a 4-hour mountain hike in Chichibu, Saitama.

Within just a 2-hour train ride from th​​e city, we were enjoying a beautiful, sunny fall day and enveloped by thick green forests, a gurgling mountain stream, colorful cosmos flowers, chirping birds, a stunning scenic overlook of Hanno City, and new friendships with fellow hikers from around the world.

Countless easy and accessible hiking courses near Tokyo is just one of many reasons I have chosen to live in this beautiful country for over 3 decades now.

Here is the hiking course, ​with more details on the Jambo International event page:

Higashi Agano Station (東吾野駅) → Mt. Monomi (物見山) → Mt. Hiwada (日和田山) → Kinchakuda (巾着田) →  Koma Station  (高麗駅) (about 4 hours, およそ約4時間)

Chichibu hiking
Chichibu Hiking (秩父ハイキング)
You can view my Flickr photos here: Chichibu Hiking (秩父ハイキング)


Japan-Texas ebook cover thumbnail
Hot off the press! 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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