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"Letter-Letter 290"
March 7th, 2001
"The LLLtrs Group (Intro)"
"Short on Water"  by Laf
"The General Meeting"
"Fun with Finals"  by KCM
"Cigarette Breaks"  by LHS & RWD
"I Should be Hyperactive"  by LDF
"A Rescue Mission"
"Glass Ceilings"  by JAH & LHS
"Dangerous (Unsent) E-Mail to the Prez"
"Trip into Manchester & Walking"  by SZS
"Dictionary Whack!"
"Proofing & Rewriting"

"The LLLtrs Group (Intro)"     [Top of page]

Partly just because it was there and I wanted to try it out, and partly in response to the considerable lag time that has crept into the LL-Letters, I started a sub-group with Yahoo Groups that is automated, and so the members of the group are sending their messages directly to everyone on the list when they post - or everyone with the automatic settings that is.  You can adjust the settings yourself so that you get a summary once a day or once a week, or no e-mail at all, just access to the member's letters posted on the Internet site.  I already sent out an invitation to most of the people receiving the LL-Letters, but thought I'd go over it once in here as well.  It's not that I hope everyone joins the Yahoo group, quite the contrary, I'm happy with it being a sub-group with only about 92 subscribers - I just want to point out what it's about and how to join, in case you are interested.  The thing to keep in mind about the Yahoo group, is that when you send messages, your name and address are automatically attached to the message you send, so it's not anonymous - as the LL-Letters are.  That said, if you would like to join, send a message to ( LLLtrs-subscribe@yahoogroups.com ).  It's not instantaneous, as messages sent there await an ok from the moderator (me), but I check for new addresses at least once a day, so it won't take long to click someone in.

To summarize:  There are no changes being made to the regular LL-Letters.  The LL-Letters remain anonymous.  The LLLtrs Yahoo Group is more public, with messages sent directly from anyone in the group directly to the rest of the group (with the senders name and address on the message).  The regular LL-Letters will not be sent via the new Yahoo group, which is just for short messages.  If you would like to continue receiving the LL-Letters, and are not interested in a more direct connection with others in the group, no action should be taken.  If you'd like a more direct exchange, then it might be interesting.

"Short on Water"     [Top of page]

Subject: Blowing In The Wind
Date: Sun, 10 Dec 2000
From: Laf  [US]

...............  My first week back at work was pretty hectic.  I walked into my office and found five stacks of client folders on the desk.  They were labeled: Really Critical, Really Urgent, Urgent, Needs Immediate Attention, and Normal Stuff.  I told everyone that I was frankly surprised that so much could come up in two weeks that only I could handle.  I was told that some of it they could have handled, but the client wanted to wait for me.  Great.  So I had an awful lot to focus on my first week back.

It is a weird year and it looks pretty grim right now for the summer.  We are already on water management before the end of the rainy season.  That means we have not had enough rain to raise the water tables sufficiently to deal with the summer.  We already cannot water our lawns except on alternate days (determined by whether your address is an odd or even number) and then only between 4am and 8am when it is cool enough to be absorbed easily by the ground.  This does not bode well for the summer, believe me.

I am enjoying the quiet this weekend.  Aabbb has a gun show and therefore I am home alone.  Yesterday, I did the laundry, started this letter, worked on a project I brought home from work, did some housework, and generally played housewife.  In short it was a nice relaxed day.  I don't have many of those.  I am sure that if I was home all the time I would be bored out of my mind because that is my nature.  It is nice once in a while though.


"The General Meeting"     [Top of page]
(2001/03/11  1:04 a.m.  Nishi-Shinjuku)

Once a month there is a general "everyone-must-attend" meeting in the conference room on Monday.  Never mind that not everyone can fit into the small room anymore (three or four people generally end up sitting in a row outside of the room by the door), everyone must sort of be there.  I am fairly certain the topic of racism is going to come up - as I brought it up in one of my e-mails to everyone, so now I'm imagining difference scenarios.  I don't have high expectations, but figure I must make the most of any speaking time that may come my way in order to say whatever I think should be said.  But what should be said I will not know for sure until the moment, and so I run one scenario after another through my imagination.  Whatever happens, it isn't likely to be a pleasant meeting for me.  Nevertheless, I feel strongly that there are things I've got to attempt to convey, whether or not the effort is successful.  Besides, if there is truth in my words, they will have a power of their own, whether anyone in that small office welcomes them or not.  "Perception is reality"?  No.  Reality is reality - this I must believe.

"Fun with Finals"     [Top of page]

Subject: hihihifinalmadness
Date: Sun, 10 Dec 2000  -0800
From: KCM  [US]

I'm writing because I just realized I left my PC formatted disk at work and I need it in order to save my final paper.  As you can guess, I haven't started yet.  I'm never ever taking a philosophy class again.

I also realized my philosophy TA, did not, as he promised, e-mail me comments on my second midterm paper.  So right now, I don't know what grade I got and what I need to do to improve on the final.  This is irritating, because first, he didn't grade my paper by the time he was supposed to, and second, he didn't remember me, and third, he keeps blowing me off.  I know it's not intentional, because he had a personal emergency or whatever, but still, if he tells me he's going to do something, I wish he actually would.

I left my sketchbook at work too.  Arrgh.

On the plus side, I've heard of this young man whose parents were friends with my parents and my other friends' parents.  He had problems, to say the least.  He drank and smoked and cut school by the time he was 14 (which isn't too unusual for my former school, now that I think about it).  He talked back, he got into fights and eventually he stole a car because his mom wouldn't buy him one.  He went to jail and came out a completely changed person.  He went to community college and began getting straight A's and now he's working as the manager of a local hotel.

I need to hunt him down because I won't believe it until I see it.  But if it's true, then there is hope after all.


"Cigarette Breaks"     [Top of page]

RWD (next letter) is referring to a letter I wrote in which I defended a little bit of time spent on personal e-mail at work - particularly after watching the nicotine drug addicts in the company getting their regular fixes out on the balcony every hour, day after day after day.  I've gone out on the balcony to stretch a little, only to have someone poke their head out and say that they're in a hurry, so get back to work (this after two minutes outside)...  The addicts on the other hand... so long as they have their drug in hand, no one suggests they dump it and go back to their desks.  Maybe I should light a cigarette and just hold it in my hand if I want to get out under the sky for a break.  "Oh, can't bother him, he's having a cigarette."  Given a little extra time though, I'd usually rather spend it on the keyboard.

Subject: Re: LL-284
Date: Thu, 7 Dec 2000  +0700
From: RWD  [Indonesia]

I must say that I'm like you when it comes to cigarette breaks.  At lunchtime everyday, I always come back earlier than the other guys.  While the other guys are having their cigarette break after lunch, I get back to my computer to check and reply to e-mail from my friends.  Lots of them can really freshen me up with their funny stories and interesting experiences, such as your e-mail.

Sometimes other guys think of me as a computer nerd because I smile a lot in front of my computer.  Ha, ha, ha.  Well, thanks for the mail.  I won't give up this habit.

Have fun with your cigarette break tomorrow!


"I Should be Hyperactive"     [Top of page]

Date: Tue, 12 Dec 2000  +0100 (MET)
From: LDF  [Austria]

..............  Soon I'll have my Christmas holidays and it will be very nice I guess.  My mother told me yesterday that I will get a new TV set on my birthday.  I'm looking forward to it, because I haven't had a TV set for two months after being used to watching one for so long.  My dad says: "The poor girl is addicted to the TV"...  I'd say I'm just used to having it on as background entertainment, because it's on all the time and I don't really look at it most of the time.  It functions mostly as a radio....

Well, last night I continued working on my novel (I was working on the story line) and it's getting better.  I began thinking through the story, letting it run through my mind like a movie and then seeing what could be improved and where mistakes may be.  I'm sure that I can begin soon with writing the real novel.  With my first novel I didn't think that much - which is a reason there were many mistakes in it.  I hope that will not be the case with my new one.

My latest oil painting has been very well received in my little home town.  People I don't even know come up to me and say "You should go on making pictures like that... you should make money with it".  It's a nice thought, but if I were to drop my studies and just paint and write novels, I'm sure that wouldn't work... well... it could be a problem in any case....  I just don't know what I really want.  I think I would like to study paleontology, because it is so interesting for me.  I would like to work in a museum one day studying and identifying ancient fossils.  I also really want to paint... and have the pictures exhibited in art galleries.  And I want to continue writing my novels and also lyrics for Ccddd, who then writes melodies to the words.  I hope he will be famous someday.  It's his greatest wish.  You see, I am a girl that should be kind of hyperactive... but the bad thing is, I am not.


"A Rescue Mission"     [Top of page]

I ran into an old acquaintance on Tuesday evening (March 6th)... she's one of those people you think you would rather forget about, but somehow end up bumping into from time to time anyway.  (Maybe that doesn't make much sense - in any case, I bumped into her after not having seen her in two or three years.)  She runs an "English Conversation Lounge", which might sound nice if you didn't know better, but trust me, they're pretty weird places.  Most of the people who go there to practice speaking English are normal enough, but the people who run them and the "teachers" who work there tend to be on the fringe of society.....

With that background, try to imagine the woman who runs it - she denied herself the things she wanted from life out of duty to her family - first to her mother, and then to her husband (who she was pressured into marrying by her mother).  It's not really my call to say that this is absolutely the reason for her current behavior, but in any case, she is living an almost perfectly opposite life now.  She pressured her son into studying to be a doctor against his natural inclination towards the arts, and now she doesn't refrain from doing what she wants... which has made her... um... busy, if you know what I mean.

I happened to be in the area of her conversation lounge, and I bumped into her out on the street, as she was walking with a customer to a pastry shop to buy a birthday cake for one of her teachers whose birthday was that day.  She called out to me - I saw her and said hello, noticing a rather unhappy look on the customers face - and I ended up walking with them to the pastry shop.  On the way, I was invited to come to her conversation lounge and join the birthday celebration.  Not having any logical reason to go, I nevertheless had the feeling that I should go, and so I did.

Walking into the place felt like walking into a bar, and basically that's not far from the mark.  I walked in with the feeling that the people already there were sizing me up - and after sitting at a sort of counter, found myself talking with a young (23?) Canadian guy who was (with the owners help) looking through a couple of real estate magazines in search of a commercial space to open a "Canadian bar" in.  The chemistry of the moment is hard to explain - one moment I was looking into rather unfriendly looking eyes and feeling that we were not going to get along, and the next he was telling me about his business as a promoter, and we ended up discussing the bar/music/club entertainment scene in Tokyo.  The common ground was when e-mail came into the conversation and I said I could easily imagine how he was successfully networking with e-mail, as I've been doing something along those lines myself- not for the same purpose exactly, but still.....

So there we were - discussing an optimistic concept - a form of diving ahead into uncertain waters for sure, but clean waters without too many toothy alligators... and the owner of the ECL (English Conversation Lounge... I laughed when I thought of calling it an ECL yesterday, as it sounds a bit like ESL) kept tossing in stop-grenades, saying in one way or another - over and over - that he was being premature about this, that, and most things in-between.  I ended up simultaneously sympathizing with him, and remembering irritating conversations I'd had with the owner several years earlier.  And thus the title of this story - rescue.

It started at a moment in our conversation where he said something about the owner not understanding his line of thinking - and I diplomatically said something like: "Ms. Owner is a nice person, and helpful, but - um... she... um..." and not finding any words to say what was on my mind, I looked at the guy and tried non-verbally beaming out something that I felt he needed to know, while saying some banal stuff about her speaking her mind a bit much, but that it was a good thing in that she often will tell you what other people think, but won't say.

She lobbed some more stop-grenades over my shoulder at the guy, and he said something to me with the word "irritating" in it.  I thought "Yeah... now that's a word....." and I did another eye-ray beamer to the guy and said "Remember that word - 'irritating'" and turned around to answer some bit of banality the owner was now directing to me (probably to stop me from talking with the man...).

Following that was a lot of wasted time talking about the ECL business with Ms. Owner, and then after the place closed, she invited myself and the Canadian guy for a beer at a nearby place - so we took one of those glass elevators up to the fifth floor of a nearby building, and ended up in a cafe style booth with the Canadian guy seated facing Ms. Owner and myself on the other side of the table.  He seemed to be jealous of my seat, and so I got a more complete picture of the situation.....  The three of us talked for a bit, and at a point where I was sitting in semi-profound irritation with the owner launching into one of her word barrages, I beamed the feeling over to the Canadian.  As we looked at each other, there was a flashback to my attempt to convey the danger he was in back at the ECL, and he (sharp guy) picked up the picture very well, and found it so hilariously funny that he jumped out of his seat and ran out of the shop to laugh.  The owner, caught by surprise and mostly clueless, asked "What??  What's so funny?!?".  As I shrugged and said "I don't know...", the guy came back, looked at me and said with laughing eyes "Now I understand what you were trying to tell me!"  [Note: This comment of his was only sayable thanks to its speedy delivery in front of a non-native speaker.  I should feel guilty about that situation, but as it is something that is done to me all the time when I'm the non-native speaker, I don't mind turning the tables occasionally.]

There are moments - when a split second conveys more than hours of discussion ever could.  Due to the ECL owner being a professional talker who is not very well tuned in, she couldn't comprehend the situation and just thought that the guy laughing was due to her having blundered with her English or something.  Under that general atmosphere, the time in the drinking place progressed - she would rattle off a web of words, the guy would glance at me, and I'd beam something at him.....  Just before I left for home, and out of earshot of the ECL owner, he told me that he was glad I had pointed out another side of the woman to him.

Him:  "It's good to know...  There is a good side to people..."
Me:  "... and the other side......."

So..... on the way to work the next day, as I walked down the street in Shinjuku trying to make sense of having wasted my time the night before, a thought suddenly occurred to me - maybe I was there to help the 23 year old man - to warn him of a danger that he was too close to see - "Yes... that's it.  It was a kind of rescue mission!" thought I.  Feeling as though the mystery had been solved, I laughed and walked on down the street towards the waiting war zone on the 12th floor between the asphalt covered ground and the semi-transparent sky.      [Top of page]

"Glass Ceilings"     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: LL283
Date: Mon, 20 Nov 2000  +0900
From: by JAH  [Japan]

I've been working for Japanese companies for more than ten years.  As you know, there is a glass ceiling in most companies.  The work a woman is expected to do includes serving tea for male employees like a waitress, and cleaning the office before the men arrive.  To empty the trash is women's role, to wash out ashtrays is women's role, etc., etc.

Due to the above, I decided to enter a company which is partly foreign owned and operated.  To do so, I began to study English again.  As I am a systems engineer, I want to have a computer related job.  Although I decided to get an MBA in the US, I am not confident in my English ability.  I have studied TOEFL every day for what seems like a very long time now, but still my score hasn't reached the passing point.  And GMAT is terrible!  I have heard that the average score of Japanese who take the TOEFL test is very low compared with Europeans.  Why do Europeans get higher scores?  Is it because European languages are similar to English?

Do you have any suggestions on how I can improve my English skills?


First, about glass ceilings - I too want to work for a foreign company here in Japan, and English is not a problem, but race and nationality are, as most foreign companies don't like picking up local foreigners, who are thought to be (and perhaps largely are) a strange lot.....

The best way to learn any language, is to move to an area where you are forced to use the language.  Beyond that, the obvious - books, tapes, DVD's, etc.  You can also force yourself to think in a foreign language - but the danger there is that you end up getting thoroughly used to your own mistakes, and end up having a difficult time correcting certain strange patterns of speech... certainly that's a problem for me!  The other thing is material - personally I found material originally written for Japanese children to be much more educational than the books written for non-native students of the language.  For English, there is so much material available... I'm not sure what to recommend.      [Top of page]

"Dangerous (Unsent) E-Mail to the Prez"     [Top of page]

The following e-mail is something I haven't sent to the Prez at the jungle warfare office - for obvious reasons, but I would like to send it, so I've written it.  Maybe when I quit that wacky company I'll zap off a slightly watered down version of it then.....

March 5th, 2001

Dear Mr. Prez,

Regarding your exceptionally rude call to me on the interoffice phone today.  Yes, I received the two e-mails from overseas that you forwarded to me, and I've been periodically checking your office to see if I could catch you not tied up with someone else so we could answer them in your inefficient way - but you've been busy, and so I did other work while waiting for a chance to ask you what you want to say.  Incidentally, if you would just send a line or two, I could rewrite it for you, but you are too proud to admit just how bad your English is, so.....

About my using HTML to send a slightly larger font size - I find it very strange that you said "Don't do that - people will think you are paranoid".  Excuse me?  Are you from planet Earth, or what?  The fact is, I did that because your eyes are clearly bad, and you continually misread your e-mail - and so I used a slightly larger font (12 point) for your sake.  But if you want your e-mail in characters small and illegible to your bad eyes, then that's what you'll get, no problem!

About the way you yell at the nearest handy person when you're feeling irritable about something - has it occurred to you that this is at least partly responsible for people quitting your company right and left?  No?  Well, think about it then!  You are forever yelling at others for your own mistakes... how about facing up to them like a human being with a little backbone?


Lyle Saxon

"Trip into Manchester & Walking"     [Top of page]

Subject: The Latest
Date: Sat, 16 Dec 2000
From: SZS  [UK]

The latest on the home front is the homemade scones are now on the menu again.  This is an indication that my mother has now made a full recovery.  It was a shock to see my brother on the doorstep and to be informed my mother has had a stroke.  Then, thankfully, it was a thrombosis of the left arm.  No radial pulse but a brachial indicating a blockage.  A quick dosage of warfarin (also used as rat poison!) and she was as right as rain (now where did that expression come from?).

Saturday (two weeks ago) I took a trip into Manchester to see the Shaolin Monks from China.  To say I stood back in amazement is an understatement.  Take the two young uns on the stage while the adults were performing.  One had his left leg in the air the other the right.  Their upraised legs were raised sideways until reaching the sides of their heads.  These kids stood there like that for a good ten minutes.  Now let's see you try that?  It takes me all my time to get out of bed, never mind that (ha).  Later, they somersaulted over the stage using their heads - a front drop onto the head, then a flip over onto their feet - across the stage they went.  If I roll over for the remote I am totally exhausted.

You would have to appreciate or be into martial arts to understand the training that these guys have gone through to get to that peak of fitness.  All the moves are martial arts self defence movements.  The speed and grace has to be seen to be appreciated.  Then they reappeared on stage with four spears this guy handled with what they call "Chi" the hidden energy force.  A friend who was with us has been into tai chi for a while now, and is now up to instructor grade.  I have heard it is good for the release of stress and helps you to keep calm.  I have been thinking of telling him to get his money back, as he sure loses his cool quite easily.  With him being near to instructor grade, I have not told him this.  Well, I am daft but not stupid!

Back to the spears.

They held the spears and this guy was lifted up and placed on the top.  Images of disaster went through my mind at that moment, but I should have left my worry beads at home - nothing happened.  Then this other guy was placed on a spinning spear.  The worry beads came out again!  To say I aged in those few moments!  Now I look thirty instead of twenty five (we all have our dreams you know).  The performance told the story of the Shaolin Monks being betrayed and nearly wiped out.  Five survived and the head monk restarted the movement.

I have just lead a walk and recced one for a week on Sunday.  The next one I lead is around West Kirby.  A nice place to live.  Big houses, nice scenery.  Pity about the people who live their.  Myself and two of my fellow walkers arrived at WK.  Talk about the old age thing.  I had left my boots at home.  Normally when we walk on a Sunday, I arrive to meet the coach with my boots on, with my spare shoes in a bag in my rucksack.  What with hitching a lift, I climbed into the car with my good shoes on.  Hence no walking boots.

No outdoor pursuit shops around here.  We are in 4x4 country.  Not that they need 4x4 vehicles, it is just a status symbol.  Well, I bought a pair of wellington boots (wellies) and we commenced the walk.  The walk will take us on the Wirral Way.  This is a disused stretch of railway line twelve miles long.  But we cannot stay on this for too long - it will become boring.  The first point of interest we arrive at is the old beacon tower, erected in 1815 to aid mariners travelling along the River Mersey estuary - now disused.  Other interesting features will be the old manor house and Thurstaston Common.  We will eventually climb onto the sandstone ridge and hopefully see Hillbre Island along with little Hillbre and little Eye.  The North Wales coastline can be seen in the distance.  On a clear day you can see the liner Duke of Lancaster moored up and used as an amusement centre for young kids.

The walk will finish with a beach walk if the weather is fine.  May even pop over to Hillbre?

While on the recce we noticed a car had crashed over the banking and was now wedged against the old garage on the beach front.  Past experience told me to go and have a look inside.  Oftentimes people will walk past a car thinking it has been abandoned, when in fact there are people trapped inside.  I climbed up and it was thankfully empty.  I am not sure how many people will be on this walk.  I would love a visit to the restored railway station just up the coast a bit.  Perhaps next time.  When the recce was finished, I had walked eight miles in my wellies.

The Previous Walk  (From a walk sheet I passed around the coach.)

Ramblers Association, Halton Group, Sandstone Trot
Sunday December 3rd, B WALK
Leader SZS, Distance 15 miles (Starting Point Fluin Lane. Frodsham)

Our walk today will take us on the Sandstone Trail.  Leaving the coach, we will soon find our first footpath.  This is the first of two slight inclines that will blow away the cobwebs, and then we can start the walk in earnest.  Passing Beacon Hill - named after the beacon used long ago before mobile phones became a part of the human body - we will cross the golf course.  Down the steps near Jacobs ladder we cross Dunsdale Hollow (meaning "dung valley" - don't ask), next we climb Abraham's Leap, which is only a small rocky outcrop, but care must be taken.

If it's clear enough, we should be able to see the Mersey estuary.  Our walk will then take us along Woodhouse Hill - what appears to be an earthen ditch is in fact the remains of Woodhouse Hill Fort built in the Iron Age.  This is the most northerly of seven such forts.  Then we pass Alvanley.  Stone was quarried from the (long redundant) quarries in the rebuilding of Chester Castle and Eaton Hall.  After that, We pass Austerton Old Hall, moved from Nantwich many years ago and slowly being rebuilt.  Then we reach Delamere.

Passing through Delamere - now mere vestiges of the great forests of MARA and Mondrum, which in the Norman conquest days stretched from Frodsham to Nantwich.

We will then head for Eddisbury Lodge, which was home long ago to the foresters who looked after the King's deer.  Down the slope will be what appears to be a sunken track heading east - this is our first contact with Cheshire's Roman legacy.  This track lies on the line of Watling Street, the road the Romans built from their legionary base at Chester (Deva) to Manchester (Mamucium).  After that, we cross busy A54 - the turnpike cottage still stands when tolls were collected many years ago.  We head into the distance, where Tiverton, our final destination, beckons.

To complete this walk on time we will have to keep up a good pace!!  The ground is waterlogged, which will slow us down considerably.....  The coach leaves at 5pm - Please stay behind the leader.

The A walkers were the first to be dropped off.  Then it was our turn.  I told Bbccc to drop us off near the shops in Fluin lane.  The shops came and went.  Then we hit the double yellow (don't stop) lines.  Top of the hill came, and we all piled out.  I was really annoyed about this.  The inclines at the beginning of the walk would have woken everybody up.  One incline was in fact a serious of steps quite severe for early in the morning . But I have walked with these guys for a while now and I know what they like.  It is one of those moan and groan things - then when it is all over, they pat you on the back and say "That was a great walk".

Ccddd said to me "You get going, I will count the group".  It is nice to know how many we have - if any get lost we can give a figure to the rescue services.  (Only joking, but that is basically the reason, so we know if anyone gets lost.)  I set a good pace and we soon reached Beacon Hill, the start of our little venture.  Beacon Hill is named after the old fire beacon from "Remember The Spanish Armada" days.  Now sadly surrounded by those horrible aerial masts.  Perhaps it will be renamed Aerial Hill?

The first part of the walk took us over the golf course.  (Who shouted "Fore"?)  Then we crossed Dunsdale Hollow up the path to Abrahams Leap.  I stopped to let the group reform.  It's surprising when you climb a few hills or rock formations how the group is soon stretched out.  I informed the group that I wanted to set a good pace in order to reach Delamere Forest before twelve noon.  This would give me a good indication of the time required to finish the walk.

Ddeee then asked how far the walk was today?  He informed me he had not seen the sheet on the coach.  (I had made four copies, but was told that two would suffice...)

I handed Ddeee the spare sheet I had in my pocket.  "Fifteen miles?!" Somebody shouted.  To think these people had climbed off the coach to take on a walk they knew nothing about was very encouraging I thought.....  Well, the trot started.  Eefff the ex paratrooper joined me and I told him about the history of the trail and the challenge to walk the full trail in a day - 35 miles approximately.  For once, the rain kept away and we made good progress.  Passing Austerton Old Hall, I was informed the group was spread out.  Past experience told me if I didn't keep going, the walk would turn into a stroll, then we would be late back for the coaches.  Certain parts of the trail are easy to follow, but on parts which hit the open road it is a "Do we go left or right?".  Then people start to get lost.  On one part leading to Manley Common, we walk out of a field, turn right and go to the end of the road where there is a stile straight ahead.  Now if you don't know where you are going, this is an easy spot to end up walking in the wrong direction.  I asked Hhiii if he would hang back a bit and let the back markers know were the trail led.  Just then the main group came around the corner and I indicated to let them know the way.

Reaching the end of the road, I crossed into the field.  When I was halfway down the field I heard somebody shout.  Iijjj informed me that two walkers had gone down the road instead of crossing the stile into the field.  I told the group to keep walking and they would soon reach the road.  I would catch the two walkers and bring them back.  I ran down the field and onto the road - and about a half mile later there was no sign of the walkers.  From the crossroads I could see the group leaving the field, so I ran down the road and caught them up.  Ccddd dug his nails into me and said "You don't know how many you have in your group" I asked him if he had counted the group for me and he told me he had.  But I had not got back to him to ask how many there were.

Then he informed me we had eighteen and there were eighteen now.  I could hardly get back to him if I was up front...  I must explain about Ccddd.  This guy wants to start a male walking group.  He has said he is fed up with women coming along looking for Mr Right and spending too much time putting make up on and not enough time walking.  The ladies, for their part, have reported him a few times for his insolent behaviour.  When I boarded the coach, he was surprised to see me.  He had been asked if he could lead the walk in case I couldn't make it, what with my mother being hospitalized.  So this guy was having a go at me for turning up.  Next time I will count the group myself, and also make sure there are plenty of walk sheets to go around the coach.

Delamere Forest was reached, and Eefff asked if we would be getting a cup of tea soon.  This was followed by Jjkkk and Llmmm also asking about tea.....  "We hit the car park in five minutes, then we will stop for fifteen minutes."  We had covered seven and a half miles in just over two hours, so they had earned a cup of tea for once.  Fifteen minutes passed and it was time for the push to Eddisbury Lodge.  Jjkkk said "So soon..."  Any longer and they would start getting cold and stiff.  It is hard being a leader, but somebody has to do it.  Down the slope past Eddisbury, then up the slight incline - but this incline does tell a bit.  Muddy conditions can put an extra mile or two onto the route.  I told the group to wait at the bottom of the hill.  I waited for the back markers to catch up, then we crossed the road into Primrose Woods.  I walked with Jjkkk through the woods and we chatted awhile.  "I was surprised to see you on this walk Jjkkk" I informed her.  She took it the wrong way.  "Well I must inform you I used to be a good B walker at one time".  What I meant to say was she had been absent for a while, then she plunges into a B walk.  Usually after a lay off, you go on a C walk till you get into the swing again.  But not hard headed Jjkkk.

The top end of Primrose Hill has been felled.  What a sight!  Gghhh said the pace had slackened off a bit.  So I went up front and set the pace again... if not, they just stroll along.  And they would hate you for it later.  Then we came to the cafe were muddy boots and dogs are welcome.  This would be good for our dinner break.  While waiting for the group to gather, the A walkers arrived from the far field.  These guys started before us, so this was a good sign on the pace of the walk.  I decided to have dinner at the cafe due to the fact a cup of fresh tea is welcome after a good walk.  But nobody wanted one, so I gave up!

Then it was time for the push to Tiverton.  Iijjj said she was just having another drink first.  I told her she could drink it as she was walking along.  Soon we caught the A walkers having dinner.  As soon as they spotted us, they decided to move on.  These people think they are the elite.  It was good to catch them up and keep the pace going.  We then decided to call a halt to the fast pace - Beaston Castle was in the distance.  Time for another tea break.  Then it was time to stroll along to Tiverton.  Entering the last field before Beaston, we spotted the mother of all Hereford bulls in the corner with the cows.  It is comical when you see people tip toeing around puddles in fields (me included).  If that bull decides you are an enemy, those puddles would not exist, nor the barbed wire around the field.  We walked through Tiverton - a lovely village.  Jjkkk informed me that next time she was going on a walk, she was doing a B walk, not an A walk.  I know the distance was a bit far, but there were no big hills or mountains that you normally climb during a walk.

Later, a few shook my hand and thanked me for a good walk.  We covered a total of about seventeen miles.  We finished by three in the afternoon, starting at nine fifteen in the morning.  Even Eefff the ex-paratrooper who usually walks the A walks, said it was a good walk.  I was glad we got back in good time.  Then it was tea time in the cafe.

SZS"      [Top of page]


"Dictionary Whack!"     [Top of page]

March 12th, 2001

I've been thinking about what to say in the general meeting for too much of the weekend, and this morning, the Prez's brother came over and told me that since they would primarily be discussing salaries, I didn't need to attend the meeting...

Hmmm...... doesn't sound like they have any plans in the works to increase my salary, eh?  There are three main classes of employees in Japan - regular employees, contract workers, and what are called "part-time workers", but in fact are often very much full-time, just without any form of the protection regular employees hold, and without any agreement in writing, as contract employees have.  The term generally refers to college students who have part time jobs in restaurants for spending money.  Since my position in the company is as a "part time worker", I'm not (as you may imagine) held in the highest regard in the company / in society.  Nevertheless, it's a tradition in Japan that, no matter how small, employees tend to get at least a small raise every year, so I'm going to fire off an e-mail to the Prez requesting one.  It doesn't hurt to ask?  I hope not!

Today feels dry and cold as is usual for wintertime Tokyo, but there were actually some light snow flurries here and there.  It was strange seeing the snow fall through a dry air and hit a dry and snowless ground - almost as thought it wasn't really snow at all, but some kind of optical illusion.

As the managers have come out of their meeting, and there is the pre-general meeting buzz about me now, I find myself wondering if there might be other reasons for the request that I not attend the general meeting.....  Time will tell.

Mr. Seiruzu is a big fan of the solitaire card game that comes with Windows.  Whenever he has a chance, he fires it up and works away on it.  His position being above most of those who might complain, he seems immune to criticism about it, but it never fails to make me mentally shake my head when I see it.  If I were to do the same thing, there would be comments for sure!  "Look at that!  He obviously doesn't have enough work to do!  Isn't he lucky?  Getting paid to play games on the computer" etc. etc.  But no one says a word about Mr. Seiruzu's addiction to the game.  What strange power of immunity does he hold?  Or maybe there is none - and everyone has the fact mentally stored away as ammunition in case they want to attack.  Mr. Seiruzu, other than some dart tossing with Mr. Ebaru, seems to stay out of the way of everyone though, and so the ammunition stays locked up and unused?  Probably that's the answer.  Thanks for listening!  I figured it out while talking about it!

"I really want to fight someone today!".  This from the always good-natured Ms. Keiri, who works in the accounting... not "department" really, but rather "room".  The Prez's older brother and three other people are packed into a closet of a room with no windows, and only a third the size of the spacious well lit (sliding glass doors that lead out to a semi-private balcony) office occupied by the Prez (who does hold occasional meetings on the other side of the room from his desk - around a stone coffee table with leather chairs and sofa).

I was surprised to hear her talking that way, but it was good to hear that I was not the only one specifically told that I didn't need to attend the general meeting this morning.  ("Don't need to" pretty much means "You are forbidden to" in Japanese.)  The need to belong to a group, and not be the only one out in the cold... more assuring for me than for her I'm sure, as her position in the company is far more stable than mine.

"Is this all right, Mr. Ebaru?" says Ms. Piman, showing him an e-mail that she just had me convert from an error ridden toxic jumble of bad sounding word combinations into English.  And, as is always the case, he laughs, re-mucks up the English I have just corrected to revert it to a toxic state again, and ridicules what I have written to her as though he were an all-knowing resident of the clouds above.  He is her boss, and a third of the triangle she's involved in, so she smiles, laughs with him, and returns to her seat smug in the knowledge that she's dealing with a true intellectual.

Grrrrrrrrrrr..............  I would like to stand up right now, walk over to Mr. Ebaru, and whack him in the head with an unabridged dictionary, but no - I am on this stage not to be a player, but a recorder of the play, and so I write the event down, and rack my brains for some way not to feel outraged by the insults of that bozo.  It sure would feel good to hit that pompous idiot though.....      [Top of page]

"Proofing & Rewriting"     [Top of page]
(2001/03/15  8:00 a.m.  Nishi-Shinjuku)

The fun at work is ongoing...  I left the company yesterday after a shouting match with Mr. Uragi... which prompted the following letter (with the same title I'm using here - "Proofing & Rewriting") which I am about to e-mail to the company before taking the train back to the war zone.....

First, the dictionary definitions, and then a few comments of mine.


1. to read (printers' proofs, copy, etc.) in order to detect and mark errors to be corrected.

2. to read printers' proofs, copy, etc., to detect and mark errors, esp. as an employee of a typesetting firm, newspaper office, or publishing house.


1. to write in a different form or manner; revise: to rewrite the entire book.

2. to write again.

3. to write (news submitted by a reporter) for inclusion in a newspaper.

4. the news story rewritten.

5. something written in a different form or manner; revision.

While some of the things I am given to "proof" are indeed mostly ok and thus in fact proofreading work, the majority of the work I'm given is actually rewriting, and not proofreading at all.  I wouldn't feel like being nit-picky about terms here, but when I'm given something that needs to be extensively rewritten, and asked in a dismissive tone to "proof" it in a very short period of time, I feel obliged to point out that the request is not only unreasonable, but is in fact dishonest.  If the one requesting the "proof" job doesn't mind the result being unintelligible in places and full of errors, then sure, it can be done very quickly.  On the other hand, if you want the ultimate reader of the English document to understand what is supposed to be conveyed, oftentimes this requires a bit of effort (and thus time) on our part to get the English right.

Headlines... are short and thus deceptively easy looking.  Actually, longer articles are much easier to both translate in the first place, and to "proof" after that, as there is context to help understand the overall picture.  Headlines, on the other hand, are an art form of sorts - you have to capture the essence of a story as concisely as possible.  Writing them in the first place is difficult, translating them no less so - in fact often it's more difficult to translate them than it is to write them in the first place.  So, I am certainly not blaming the translator for errors - it is not such an easy task translating between such dissimilar languages as English and Japanese.  I am however asking for a little more understanding of the process of going from real Japanese to real English, and that there are tradeoffs to be taken into account.  If you insist on the highest quality, then enough time must be invested in the job to do it right.  If there is not enough time to do it right, you will have to understand that quality must suffer.

One final comment.  I have observed both good and bad interpreters in action.  A master of the art is both fast and accurate, but unfortunately, as most people who need an interpreter are (obviously) not in a position to really know whether what they are saying is accurate or not, they go by the performance, and the perception of accuracy.  Oftentimes a very careful and conscientious translator will need to pause to think of the most accurate wording, which is unfortunately perceived as a lack of ability to do the job.  The very same people who think the good interpreter is lacking ability, will be dazzled by a very bad interpreter who consistently gets the meaning wrong, but delivers it with style and speed.  And thus it is in our company.  Without naming names, I see low quality work done with style held in high regard, and a search for the the most accurate meaning taken as proof of incompetence.

Anyway... I will work to do the best job I can in the shortest possible time!


Sore dewa,

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon
Images Through Glass
Nishi-Shinjuku, Tokyo
March 15th, 2001
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