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"Letter-Letter 288"
February 18th, 2001

"Jet Lagby LTE
"The Lights Went Out..."  by CJK
"Friends"  by KCM
"Popular Books"  by SAJ & LHS
"Return Fire! - Get Fired?"
"From IVJ in India"  by IVJ
"In the Wind"  by KCM
"What Did/Does it all Mean?"  by HZJ
"Sophistry Over Reason"
"Monday Morning"  by EAI
"November 7th -25th"  by KCM

"Self-Powered"     [Top of page]

Sunday, and I am not looking forward to going back to the office - someone else's office, which is the basic problem for me I think.  Increasingly I feel that I will never be satisfied working for companies owned by strangers - the solution being to work for myself.  Easily said, and somehow possible I must believe, but a difficult bird to fly for some reason.  Hopefully a self-powered business is something like a bird taking flight though - once the wings begin to work, flight becomes more predictable and safer.  A friend once told me that she didn't fly because she didn't want to fall - a depressing idea for me, because I very definitely want to fly.  ("Fly"... I had some trouble deciding to use that word for some reason... I tried "soar", "take to the air", "try my wings", etc. before deciding to go with "fly", in spite of a rather strong feeling that it's an overused word....)

"Jet Lag"     [Top of page]

Subject: Jet Lag!
Date: Fri, 3 Nov 2000  -0000
From: LTE  [UK]

I'm stressed out, one day back in the UK - one and a half hours stuck in a traffic jam going five fifths of nowhere, trees down and tiles off the barn at home after yet more bad storms while we were away.  We've been on Langkawi (Malaysia) for a fortnight - great time - a good unwind fast undone by the mess the UK is currently in as we head for more fuel protests and worse triggered by our inept government.  AND we have a fox slowly murdering my ducks - and then no doubt it will start on the chickens, so we were out in a howling gale this evening shutting everything up and ushering the remaining 23 into the barn which has to be fox-proofed.

Enjoyed the newsletter, but it's going to take a while to know who I'm writing to in terms of the basics!  We have no office hierarchy here - we gave all that up four years ago.  My husband now runs his own consultancy and I fill in the gaps.  He sometimes misses having people other than me to talk things through with, and I never know where he is, but I'm used to that.  This jet lag is serious - I'm down to two fingered typing and I haven't even had a drink.  Time for bed said Zebedee.  Might write some sense next time!


"The Lights Went Out..."     [Top of page]

Subject: Hi Lyle!
Date: Thu, 23 Nov 2000  -0700
From: CJK  [Canada]

How has life been treating you since your last entries in the LL letter?  I have been doing quite alright, just way busier than usual.  The opera that I had a bit-part in went off really well.  I had one scene that I had to die in, (in the guise of a bull no less!) and it was quite fun.  One night though, the power was knocked out.  It was right in the middle of my scene, and I had just completed the death sequence.  All of the lights is the theater went out, and the emergency power generator had to kick in to put just enough lights on to see by.  There was not enough power from the generator to power the main curtain/sets lifts, so we had to tough it out until the power came back on about an hour later.  So we went to the top of the act, and proceeded to finish the show.  It was really crazy.  (Some of the older members of the crew said that something like that has not happened in about 30 years.)

Anyways, other than that, my life is going alright.  I have another show to do this weekend with my ballet company.  And I am cast to do the Blue Bird Pas De Deux (Ballet partner work) from Sleeping beauty, so I have been really bogged down with rehearsals.  I was also accepted to the National Ballet School of Canada in Toronto for next summer.  I expected that my chances of getting in were pretty slim, (many thousand people audition every year) but they accepted me, so I am planning on heading out to Toronto next year to see what I can make of myself in the big leagues.  I also have an older sister who already lives out there, so I'll have a home base to start out from.

I am wishing that all is well with you, your family, and that all is going alright at work these days.


.....  not all is going well at work!  It's been a real battle zone actually - more on that later!

"Friends"     [Top of page]

Subject: hi
Date: Fri, 03 Nov 2000
From: KCM  [US]

Hi, how are you?  Hopefully things are getting better.  I'm done with midterms, which very nearly caused me to break down.  I don't know what's wrong with me sometimes - I feel as if I would like to scream and scream, as long as no one will hear me.  (Or maybe if everyone hears me.)

I have a new job, working in the Philosophy Reading Room.  I am basically a library assistant and already I've made mistakes.  >_<  Hopefully my supervisor is not too mad at me; he seems a bit anal, but nice.

My roommate's dilemmas are driving me crazy.  It revolves mostly around her unrequited crush - it's a long story.  I don't really have issues with her problem - the thing is, she's the total opposite of me.  Where I will keep everything inside, she lets everything out.  So every time I end up talking to her, the conversation eventually goes back to her problem and how much her life sucks.  It's not that she tells only me - she tells everyone, so she generally tells the same story at least 50 times.  I don't want to be a bad friend, because I do feel bad for her and want to support her, but at the same time, I just want her to shut up and notice that other people have problems, too.

I really miss my best friend.  We didn't get to see each other all summer, but lately we've been racking up the phone bills.

I just need my own group again.  The dynamics of the friends I did grow up with are a bit odd, and it's rare that I can find someone who I can truly talk to.  Usually I'm really quiet, even when it's with my core group.  But with my best friend, we can talk for hours and not notice the time.  I have two friends who are *supposed* to be really close to me, but are in reality much closer to each other.  They know each other so well they even buy the same presents for each other.  It feels awkward whenever I'm with them, by myself, because they do not really share things with me.  Rather, we kind of force ourselves to converse, which usually ends up me getting quiet and the two playfully teasing me - or we just talk about things that don't matter.  We never say anything important.  Every time I'm around them I feel as if I'm putting up a front or something - it's so exhausting sometimes.

At the same time, I can't say they're bad friends.  They've been excellent to me; it's only that we grew up with different values and convictions and consequently, can't really talk about some specific things without tensions.  I guess that's why I miss my best friend so much - we don't have these kind of tensions.  (Which reminds me, I promised to write a letter to her.)

Mata ne

KCM      [Top of page]

"Popular Books"     [Top of page]

Subject:  Harry Potter?
Date:  Fri, 27 Oct 2000  +0200
From:  SAJ  [US / Holland]

I have a question here.  I'm wondering what you think about the Harry Potter series of books.  A lot is being said for and against them in the States and maybe worldwide?  Some teachers are reading these books in classrooms and some parents are in an uproar about it.  I wanted to buy the books for my granddaughter but my daughter doesn't feel they are the right kind of books for kids.  She doesn't think they are the right kind of books period... I don't agree.   I suppose you've heard about Harry Potter - what do you think about it?


I saw some of the books that had been translated into Japanese in a local bookstore, but I don't know how popular the series is here in Japan.  I don't think it's particularly controversial though - certainly I haven't heard anything about it.  Considering the content of a lot of comic books, I don't see that it would get many people bent out of shape though.....

"Return Fire! - Get Fired?"     [Top of page]
(2001/02/24  Nishi-Shinjuku)

What with the pressures at the office, I was actually beginning to get physical chest pains, so I decided that I either had to start fighting back or let the office destroy my health...  So, in accordance with the end of LL-287, where I said: "Incoming missiles?  Return fire!", I've been doing just that - returning fire - probably going overboard a little in some ways, but not fabricating anything.  Here are some examples, with the names changed to protect the guilty.  The first one I got a little bit carried away with I think, but still I stand behind the content, which, while written jokingly, is quite true.

"The Clock is Ticking....."

Mr. Uragi, Sir!

First, I compliment you on a masterfully well played political game - you are truly a master!  I hope to learn something of corporate infighting from you, and become a more capable company man in the process.

The computers!  They are lonely in their unopened boxes sitting forlornly in front of Mr. Prez's office.  The time is rapidly approaching when Prez Consulting will be requiring them to start working for the company.  There are a couple of minor hurdles to clear before this can happen however...

The computers were clumsily ordered with no LAN cards!  I could have told whoever ordered them that the Dimension C model doesn't automatically come with a LAN card, but I was not allowed to be part of the ordering process (thanks in part, no doubt, to your portrayal of me as dangerous to the company's computer system...).  Once this mistake was discovered, another mistake was made in ordering the Intel cards from Dell (Melco cards from Yodobashi Camera would have been both easier to set up and cheaper).

But water under the bridge is salt water in the ocean, and pointing fingers will not correct past wrongs.  However - the computers need to be set up, and as it stands, only three people are (semi) qualified to do so - listed below in alphabetical order:

Mr. Aruchu
A friendly man cheerful to all and sundry, but not very technically oriented.

Mr. Uragi
Yourself, sir.  And a capable one you are to be sure - but do you have the time?  Or can you afford to spend another day and a half as you did on Mr. Hataraku's computer, with no guarantee of better success than that botched rescue attempt?  Face could be lost...

Mr. Saxon
Yours truly, who has experience with the same model in his cold apartment.

So!  I put it to you sir, that I am the best option for both technical and political reasons.  Being the two most computer qualified personnel at the company at the moment - and with different computer backgrounds to boot (pun intended), it would be in the company's, yours, and my best interest if we were to work together in friendly cooperation, and not be shooting arrows over rampart walls.

Yoroshiku onegai itashimasu!

Lyle Saxon

PS  I deliberately wrote this in a joking style, but the issues are on the serious side, wouldn't you agree?

PPS  Aabbb... is certainly qualified to set up the computers, but as an outside special consultant, I imagine the work is beneath him, and something he has neither the inclination nor time to do.

This next bit is complicated - part of the second of two letters, the first one sent to Ms. Piman & Mr. Ebaru, and the second to the entire company - "A-san" being Ms. Piman, and "B-san" being Mr. Ebaru:

I had a proof job yesterday in which A-san and I talked over the general theme that needed to be conveyed, and then came up with a letter to send out.  A-san then took it to B-san (a non-native speaker) to gain approval.  B-san ordered A-san to order me to say something which I felt was wrong and likely to cause a misunderstanding with the client.

I commented to A-san that B-san's English is not as good as B-san seems to think, which made A-san rather angry...  The thing is, I'm not talking about style here - I have repeatedly overlooked bad style in cases like this in the interest of company harmony, but yesterday the content was wrong, which is a very serious issue.  We are in the business of selling words basically, and if the product is defective, it will reflect on the overall performance of the company.

Mr. Ebaru is rather bent out of shape about the above, but someone needs to confront the pompous fool - the favored one expected to become the next president of the company.  The next letter has the Prez worrying about the company's reputation......:


This is a transcript of part of our conversation today:

RF: You look tired.
HN: I had to work overtime.
RF: I worked until 12:00 midnight last night...
HN: But you get paid.
RF: Not as much as you seem to think, and I get no bonus.....
HN: (Incredulous look)

I apologize for saying after that "Zangyo janakute, osake desho", but you did leave the office much earlier than I yesterday to go drinking with Sabeyaro-san.....

There is something I must request of you Ishinu-san.  Since I joined the company almost a year ago I have listened to you repeatedly making racist remarks...  Racism is not illegal in Japan, but as one human being to another I would like to hereby formally request that you refrain from making racist remarks where I can hear them.  It is my wish that you would refrain from being a racist altogether, but I fear that's asking too much of you...

About the salary.  I have no idea how much money you are paid.  If you know what I am being paid, why is that?  Is my salary published in a company e-mail or something?  It is my opinion that your words and their underlying motivation was very rude towards me today.  I wouldn't write for just this one incident, but I've been putting up with your racism for almost a year now, and I think you should learn to be more discrete about it.

Yoroshiku onegai shimasu!

This is only a tiny part of what has been routine lately - and it's all coming to a head I think.  I probably will not be allowed to continue working there for long, but hopefully long enough to find another job!      [Top of page]

"From IVJ in India"     [Top of page]

Subject:  greetings from India
Date:  Sun, 29 Oct 2000  +0530
From:  IVJ  [India]

Thanks for the e-mail and the round-robin letter sample.  It made for interesting reading.  What I liked best about it is that one gets a look into different cultures at the same time.  It has prompted me to write a piece myself on one of the unique features of my city...

Nothing is garbage - every bit has its value.  Whether it is a piece of broken china, fused fluorescent tubes, broken bangles, or old cement bags.  They all find a place in Chandigarh's Rock Garden.  The Garden was conceived by Nek Chand, an inspector with the Chandigarh Public Works Department who collected the scrap materials and used his creative ingenuity to give wings to his imagination.  The result is the thousands of life-like images of men and women and animals in the Garden that was been made from rocks that Neck Chand pedaled from nearby rivers and hills.  Today Nek Chand, at the age of 75+ is still as active as he was when he began his creative journey about 35 years back.  Recipient of India's Padamshree award, he is not only expanding his waterfall laden rock garden, but takes much delight in teaching kids the skill of making beautiful things out of material that gets piled up uselessly in household stores.  For the creator, the journey never ends.

In India, family ties are well entrenched.  Today we had the festival of Bhaiya Dhuj.  Bhaiya in Hindi means Brother while Dhuj is an occasion.  On this day, sisters apply saffron on the foreheads of their brothers, seeking their blessing, and wishing for their progress and prosperity.  In return, the brothers give gifts and cash to their sisters.  I have four sisters - one of them came and performed the ritual.  The other three are far away and sent their wishes by post.  The one who came resides nearby.

With best wishes from India,


"In the Wind"     [Top of page]

Date:  Sun, 29 Oct 2000  -0800
From:  KCM  [US]

I am much calmer now.  The wind is howling, which seems to have a soothing effect on me.  I am odd like that; I often prefer so-called bad weather to sunny days.  The cold reminds me of the Bay.  I think it will rain soon and I can't wait to get drenched.  I don't really care about getting sick - for someone with supposedly ill health, I don't get sick much.

I feel as if I ought to be working on my papers or something.  I'm fairly convinced I won't be getting good grades, as I haven't done thorough research.  I'm hoping the professor doesn't actually read, but rather skims his papers.

I just got my absentee ballot, and the number of measures and bonds are mind-boggling.  I'm supposed to keep track of all these propositions?

I don't think my family is voting, except for my younger sister.  I kind of regret not voting in the primaries, because the results made me so angry and I couldn't really say anything because that would have been hypocritical.

I have a job now, working in the Philosophy Reading Room.  I've always wanted to work in a library.  And my supervisor is so nice.


"What Did/Does it all Mean?"     [Top of page]

Subject:  Do I Really Love Him??
Date:  Wed, 01 Nov 2000
From:  HZJ  [India]

Hi everyone!  I'm new.  My name is HZJ, and I'm from India.  I really don't know how to start but I'll go on anyway...

I read Tanyle's letter.  She still misses him.  But that made me realize where my relationship is.  Totally opposite to hers.  I told Aabbb that I loved him just a few days before he left the city.  He told me he was going away and that he didn't know what life had in store for him.  I said that no one knows what life has in store for them.  He just said yes.

It was odd.  I never told him that I loved him.  I just said that I desperately missed him when he had gone away for a while (before he left the city).  And when he said yes, he never said I love you.  He had to call me from a public phone as we couldn't talk elsewhere.  Now, six months later - we still haven't used the three words - I wonder if I really do love him.  Maybe I just had a crush on him.  Maybe a year of being friends just wasn't enough.  Maybe I believed my friends who told me that the way I was behaving, it had to be true love.  I don't know what to do.  I know my father will kill me if he finds out about Aabbb.  I'm not sure about my love for him.  But I just don't have the guts to tell all this to Aabbb.  After all, it was me who started it.  Sometimes I wish time could turn back or Aabbb himself will forget it.  But I feel so happy when I get his e-mails.

What should I do????


HZJ - I would like to offer advice, but I really don't know what to say.  Well - maybe this - have a good look at the stars in a settled frame of mind - with the words turned off so you can think in the clearest way possible.......

"Sophistry Over Reason"     [Top of page]

Mr. Ebaru is an untouchable - well, not untouchable maybe, but unseatable political force in the company, so this next letter is probably suicidal as far as my job in that company is concerned - but I can put up with his sophistic inanity no longer.  The term "the spokesperson for the Council of Vice Presidents" was copy-pasted right out of a letter from that fool by the way.  What kind of a person in a funky 30 person office has the ability to come up with a term like that with a straight face?  ............  Oops... fire filling up the space between the lines.....  Here's the letter I zapped off to Mr. Ebaru this morning:

Dear Mr. Ebaru,

I would like to clarify what seems to be the overall meaning of your letter.  It would seem that your authority (and the image of your authority) is to be maintained at all costs.  The quality of the English correspondence leaving the company is not the first priority.  It might be best if you could confirm that maintaining your authority is more important to the company than the quality of product.  Naturally this is not something you can put in writing, but now that we have a tacit understand that your authority is supreme, I will abide by this policy, even though it may be detrimental to the long-term health of the company.  If it's your priority to run the company into the ground, it's not my position to question "the spokesperson for the Council of Vice Presidents".  I had (mistakenly it seems) assumed that quality of product was the first priority.

I will henceforth place your authority in first place.  If your worthy and obedient assistant Ms. Piman orders me to approve mistakes, I will honor her and your supreme authority, regardless of whether this is detrimental to the company or not.  (By the way... what was the final outcome of the fiasco with the Client Corp ad in Nantoka Magazine?  That was not handled very well....  Has Client Corp seen the two horrible quality ads - one in low quality black and white and the other in low quality color?  I suppose it's not my authority to ask, but I'm curious how that turned out.)


Lyle Saxon

I thought maybe I'd be fired on Friday - maybe they'll fire me on Monday.  If so, I'll try to negotiate some job finding time.....      [Top of page]

"Monday Morning"     [Top of page]

Subject:  Monday Morning
Date:  Wed, 15 Nov 2000  -0000
From:  EAI  [UK]

What a start to the week!  I was up at 3.30 a.m. and as usual was at my computer, it was wet and very windy but I was cosy inside listening to the stormy weather worsening.  Around 6:00 a.m. there was a terrible noise above my head - tiles had blown off the roof.  My two dogs went mad, running up and down the hall barking and jumping around - I got them calmed down and peace restored again when another clatter, this time louder and from the other side of the house - it was the chimney, on the roof.  This is the chimney for my central heating boiler, so I had to turn off my heating and hot water, calm the dogs down yet again.  (Bbccc slept through all of this!!)

Now I was not so cosy or warm, to top this lot, the garage doors blew inwards and now have to be replaced.  Workmen were called in, much tea was drunk (they can't work without lots of tea breaks), and now I'm pleased to say we are back to normal and it all seems like a bad dream - the reality will come back as the bills start to come in.


"November 7th -25th"     [Top of page]

Re: SnoopyInChinese&English
Date: Tue, 07 Nov 2000
From: KCM  [US]

I am so happy today - I got a B on my Chinese Art History paper, despite the prof's really mean comments.  I quote, "sloppy prose, needed to reference more, use more materials, lack of organization," and there was more.  I'm not disagreeing with him, because I would have given myself a lower grade, and so it was a pleasant surprise.

Part of the problem was that MS Word kept freezing on me and wouldn't back up my work for some reason.  My roommate says I should reformat the hard drive, but I don't want to do that until winter break, when I can get someone who knows what they're doing.

I called my father on Sunday and wished him a happy birthday.  It felt so good to talk to him, even though we never have much to say to each other.  I can hear how happy he is, too, just to talk to me.  I think that since I've moved out, I've become more sympathetic to my parents and less forgiving of my sisters.


My roommate and I have started using the word "avant-garde" a lot.  It's interesting because we have very different interpretations and use it indiscriminately in our conversations.  My roommate was interested in Modernism last year, and that's what got her started.  I've always loved art, so I've read up a lot on it and I even have a few issues of the avant-garde fashion magazine *surface.  It's quite good and really focused on ideas and movement.  I think that avant-garde as a concept can be maddeningly pretentious or it can force one to rethink preconceived notions.  In fashion it translates to odd details on clothing, so that the clothing becomes art.  I'm not sure that I have a complete grasp of what it's all about, but my roommate and I have been joking around with it.  We were looking in several stores, some really expensive and once, holding up a hundred dollar sweater I said, "True avant-garde never look at the prices."

I don't know - it just seemed really funny at the time.

Ja ne


Re: Friday
Date: Fri, 10 Nov 2000
From: KCM  [US]

..............  I am going to go home for Thanksgiving, but I have an uneasy feeling about it.  I still don't have my license (I HATE driving), so my younger sister will be doing most, if not all of the driving.  I am going to make her promise to take a lot of breaks and hopefully that will help her.

This quarter I am muddling along in my classes.  2 B's, 2 C's.  I am trying to get a grip and just focus, but it's getting so hard to concentrate.

Today I'm going to the Getty, where there's a Raphael exhibit.  It's free for UCLA students, as is the Big Blue Bus.  I love Raphael - it's been so long since I've done anything like visit a museum.  My friends at home are not artsy like me, so it doesn't mean anything to them.  But my roommate has been in an artsy mood lately, so I have company.


Date: Mon, 13 Nov 2000
From: KCM  [US]

I've been wondering how to ask my parents to help me buy a new computer.  There's more than just that involved.  The laptop I have now is from my brother-in-law.  Unbeknown to me (until recently that is), the laptop is actually a loan and eventually will return to my two-year-old niece.  You shouldn't try to make any sense of this - my sister and her husband are not known for logic or reason, especially where it concerns their daughter.  I am still angry at my sister - for doing things to me and still managing to find a way to make me look like I'm the one at fault.  I am so sick of keeping quiet, of always giving in to her ways, because she is the oldest.  I hate the load of obligation that justifies her power over me.  I owe her so much and I resent her for it, so much so that I want to return everything she ever gave me so I can cut off relations with her.  I know that she will take it as a huge insult, though.

My parents don't know we are fighting.  I know that if they know, they will side with my sister because she is the oldest.

Every time I think about this I want to cry or I end up crying, even in front of people, which I hardly ever do.

I don't know if I will be able to keep quiet the next time I see her.  My other sister says that I should, because she will hurt me far worse than I can hurt her.

On the other hand, I will see my friends again.  I miss them so much - they always manage to make me forget my depressions.


Re: FridayEvening
Date: Sat, 25 Nov 2000
From: KCM  [US]

I was going to write you a letter yesterday, but it was Thanksgiving and we were over at my sister's newly remodeled house.  It looks really good in a boring IKEA manner.

I didn't confront my sister and we both acted as if nothing had happened.  I realized it wasn't worth the effort to fight over something so petty.  Looking back, it seems as if most of the fights with my family are over something totally petty.

Dinner was turkey, ribs, dim sum, and baked potatoes and other vegetables.  Such is the Chinese American Thanksgiving.

I had about ten of my friends over for a hot-pot dinner tonight.  Some of them brought their friends.  I saw people I hadn't seen in years.  My parents are angry with me because I invited so many people and around 11:30 my dad told me to tell everyone to get out.  And so I had to kick my friends out.  I wanted to leave with them, but I didn't have the house keys.  They all apologized to me for being messy, loud, etc.  I have the coolest friends.

My heart is slightly bruised, from finding out a crush has a new girlfriend.  He is a friend, which makes it kind of worse, because he has no idea or at least I hope he doesn't.  He didn't show up to hot-pot tonight, even though I invited him about 50 times.  I am talking to him over Aol Instant Messenger right now; he's fixing my computer, actually.  His new girlfriend is a computer geek like him.

*sigh*  I cried a bit before I went to sleep the first night, and ever since I've felt actually ok.  I guess I don't like him as much as I thought.

Slightly downcast from the no-boyfriend-at-all factor, though.  #$%&, my roommate must be rubbing off on me.

I am so sleepy and I have so many papers to do.  Talk to you later,

KCM      [Top of page]

"Deru-Kui"     [Top of page]

There's a famous expression in/about Japan- "Deru-kui wa, utareru", which is often translated into English as something like "The nail that sticks up gets pounded down".  Actually (as was explained by a Japanese e-pal, and the way it's explained in a Japanese-Japanese dictionary I recently checked), the meaning is more along the lines of it not being good to stand out from your peers... whichever way you take it, there is no way I can avoid being a "deru-kui" in Japan - being in a red-barbarian suit as I am.  Unfortunately there's a bit of racism everywhere you go I think - including Japan, but it's something you never seem to hear about Japan for some strange reason.  The following letter that I sent to everyone in the company last week has the president worried, and after hearing him tell me "You're mistaken - nobody here is like that", I'm nervous, as it's been my experience so far that only racists have the audacity to say "There is no racism".....  The letter speaks for itself:

Deru-kui - as in "Deru-kui wa, utareru".  By birth I am a "Deru-kui" in Japan.  There is nothing I can do about that.  Being apart from the group is something I can live with, but blatant racism is another.  This is a touchy topic, as racism is fundamentally part of Japanese culture, but still it's something that should be thought about at least to some extent, particularly in a consulting company dealing with foreign clients!

Racism takes many forms, but the basic underlying thing, is that if you see a foreigner, and you only see a "gaijin" and you can not see the human being inside, then you are a racist.  I know many will take exception to my saying that, so let's have a look at the dictionary definition:

1. a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule others.

2. a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.

3. hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.

It's fundamental human nature to want to believe that your own group is superior to others - but then what defines the group?  It's very "nasakenai" if you are only able to see groups by exterior design.  Like all living things, we have a sixth sense, and with language and culture, we are capable of great achievement.  Racism must be overcome to move ahead and soar over the long and sorry history of men fighting men and destroying each other in the process.

I don't want to fight with anyone in the office, but it's doing no one any good to ignore what is wrong.  I am only pointing out what I feel it is in everyone's best interest to overcome.

The next problem is whether many in the office can comprehend what I wrote.  The Prez understood it enough to realize it has the potential to tarnish the reputation of his company - particularly as most of the clients are from outside the country, but when the secretary next to me - whose English is better than most of the people in the office - asked me what it meant... I suddenly realized that not only their speaking ability is quite low, but their reading comprehension isn't much better - no wonder it's a war zone!  Half the correspondence is in English, yet the level of comprehension is so low.....  Their own poor English skills cause most of the problems, but I'm the face that reminds them of their low competency, and so it's easiest to blame the bearer of bad news for the content of the news itself.....

So, virtually the entire office being functionally illiterate in English, the next step before reengageing in warfare with Mr. Ebaru on Monday is to write an e-mail to everyone in Japanese.  I can do it, but it won't be grammatically perfect, and it's a real headache trying to find the right wording for something like this in a foreign language (should make me sympathize with their position somewhat as well...).  Talking with a friend after work, it's easy to explain, but to get it right in writing.....  But it's the only thing to do.  If I don't write it in Japanese, then the 30 Japanese people I work with will never understand.  The other American guy understands quite well - but the new guy understands neither the local language, nor the local customs.

Speaking of the other foreigners - they steered clear of me on Friday... there probably is strong electricity in the air generating fear that lightning is about to strike me, and so they keep their distance out of an instinct for self-preservation.  As I feel at the moment, I am worried about finding another job before income from that wacky place stops, but am thoroughly disgusted with that office and half of the people in it.  It's just a matter of time, but I don't want to leave that group of people without conveying how I feel about the situation to at least some of them.

Time to call this a wrap so I can get started on my Japanese e-mail - I've got to get that in the wires before going back to the trenches on Monday.     [Top of page]

Sore dewa,

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon
Images Through Glass
Nishi-Shinjuku, Tokyo
February 25th, 2001
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