[Home]   [LL-Index]   [Photo Index]

"Letter-Letter 293"
April 12th, 2001
"In The Sun"
"Vacation in Mexico"  by CBB
"Was That Really Me?"
"Calories, Etc."  by CAI & LHS
"A Native Texan"  by HHE & LHS
"University & Earthquakes"  by IVJ
"A Chinese Weekend in London"  by SBK
"Almost Relationships, Etc."  by KCM
"From the Twelfth Floor"
"Flowers & Elevators"  by Laf
"Back - But Reluctant to Study..."  by ELL
"Rain from a Blue Sky?"
"High Prices"  by DSL
"Don't Ask Me - Ask Him!"
"Are You Still There?"  by KFE
"Which Window?"
"In a Philosophical Mood"  by Laf
"Fire!  Zooommmm BaKaaMM!  War!"
"What Are the Ties for Anyway?"  by BRT
"Saturday Night"

"In The Sun"     [Top of page]

(2001/04/12  17:30  Yotsuya)  As I type this, I look out the open 12th floor window at the bright sun shinning on me as it hovers over the high rise buildings of Shinjuku...  There is something real... alive... and fantastic about having the sun shining directly on me... something infinitely beautiful about being able to look up and see the sky in a pure way - without glass muting the experience.  Something about this moment - something about today... I'm listening to one of my favorite CD's through headphones plugged into the CD-ROM deck in my office computer.

What happens from here is no one's call for sure, but at this moment, I feel only a sort of confirmation that my fighting over these past months was indeed the right course.  Getting a computer together that works was a fight - getting something cleared in the air was a fight... and the indescribable connection between us e-pals may well have been the only thing that kept me from giving up the fight.  So, I must take this opportunity in the evening Tokyo sun to say both thank you for being there, and also to apologize for sending so many negative stories authored by myself to you.  I want to be optimistic... but there are times when typhoons rage.......

"Vacation in Mexico"     [Top of page]

Date: Thu, 1 Feb 2001  -0600
From: CBB  [Canada]

My husband and I had a wonderful holiday in Mexico - the weather was glorious even if they were saying it was cooler than normal.  80 degree temperatures were nice after some of the -40 degrees we have been experiencing here recently.  The week in Mexico was wonderful - the water blue and the sand white...  The hotel was very nice - not as fancy as some, but still nice, and very clean.  The only drawback was being on the fourth floor of a complex with no elevator.  After the first day, I got very organized and took everything I needed for the day with me on the first trip, so I didn't have to run up and down the stairs for things.  They fed us well and the margaritas were non-stop.....  We also took a couple of tours to visit the ancient Mayan ruins, and learned a little of the history of where we were, which I found interesting.

Aabbb just wanted to prowl, and we ended up doing a bit of prowling together.  One day we took the ferry to Cozumel.  We have friends that go there every year for holidays and rave about it, so we went to have a look for ourselves.  I even managed to find a snowman in Mexico for my collection - never in a million years did I think I would find a snowman in a country of no snow!  (It was at a roadside stop one of the tour busses made one day.)  We also visited a beautiful park called Xel-ha, where you can snorkel, which we didn't do, as neither one of us had ever done it before.  Maybe another time when we have someone with us to show us how it is done.  Actually, I'm not a real big water lover and when my feet can't touch the bottom... well, I just don't know.....  We did get to roam the beautiful grounds though, along the reef at the shore.  Aabbb managed to get chased twice by security for being in spots he shouldn't have been.  I finally dragged him back to the bar, because I was sure the third time the man with the whistle was going to have us arrested!  But it was good fun, and I got to see some iguanas really close since they were all over, in patches of sunlight.  After seven days, I was ready to come home, but I look forward to going back someday.  (We had quite the experience at Canadian customs when we got back - drug dogs to sniff us up and down... never had anything like that happen before!)

Monday is back to work for both of us.  Aabbb should have gone back yesterday, but he is still trying to get the insurance claim on his truck all worked out.  They are really giving us the runaround, and we are down to one vehicle, which makes life a bit tough when he needs the better of the two to go back to work.

Ccddd survived on his own quite well - he didn't get much time alone as his brother and sister kept dropping in to make sure he stayed on the straight and narrow.  (Speaking of Ccddd, my baby will be turning 17 this weekend... I can hardly believe it.....)


"Was That Really Me?"     [Top of page]

After reading some stories from e-pals about their Easters, and hiding eggs for children to look for... I remembered similar experiences from the past as though they were scenes from a late night movie.  I guess I really have been in a different culture for a long time - I seem to be forgetting my own past experiences.  When I imagine myself hunting for Easter eggs with my brothers... I remember, but it's almost hard to believe that I'm the same person!  Those mysterious Western customs from an exotic land.....

"Calories, Etc."     [Top of page]

Subject: Hello
Date: Sun, 04 Feb 2001  -0600
From: CAI  [US]

I wanted to make a comment about the obesity of some people.  As you might remember, I am from the US - Minnesota to be exact.  It seems to be true that more people in the US are obese than any other country.  Why?  I have no idea.  Maybe they don't care about their diets, or maybe they have medical problems.

I have noticed while traveling throughout Europe and the States, that the US has many more over-weight people than other countries.  I am ashamed of it.  My sister lives in the United Arab of Emirates.  She has been there for several years teaching ESL.  On her last visit to the States, she commented on the large number of obese people here, but during her two week stay with us, she immediately started gaining weight herself.  She realized that diary products (especially butter) were not for her.  After doing without for so long and then having it in her diet again, her body reacted differently... breaking out in rashes etc.  So, after carefully examining the different types of food that we eat, I have changed my husband's and my diet and we are now starting to lose weight.


The funny thing about this for me is that I expected to lose weight when I moved to Japan - but as soon as I got here I found that, while the serving sizes of things like cake and ice cream are generally much smaller than in the US, the incidences of being offered something sweet and with a very high calorie count are much more common!  I can refrain from buying things like that without too much trouble, but have a harder time not eating them when people put them under my nose.  At the company for example, most weeks, at least one person in the office generally goes somewhere on business - and they invariably bring back some kind of food for a souvenir for everyone - which is almost always something like chocolate or cookies.  And then in spite of this fact, there's a general belief held by a lot of people that "foreigners like sweet food".  It's also often said that men like salty food while women like sweet food, so I've often been in situations where someone will see me eating something sweet - and they will look at me like I'm doing some cross-gender thing... and comment "So you like sweet things....."      [Top of page]

"A Native Texan"     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: LL-286 / Jet Lag
Date: Tue, 30 Jan 2001  -0600
From: HHE  [US/TX]

I had a funny thought about how I put my address at the heading.  People who are not native to Texas find it difficult to understand why those of us who love this state so much do so.  It is really difficult to explain.  We have rainy areas, desert areas, heavily-treed areas, areas where there are no trees (or extremely few), weather that is tremendously diverse, and around here it gets very hot and humid (Houston area).  I have a son living in Livermore, CA and he works at the Livermore National Research Lab.  He wants my wife and I to move there - or close - to watch his new sons grow.  The daughter in Ohio, a 4th grade teacher, wants us to move there.  And the daughter who lives on the NW side of Houston (a Physician's Assistant), wants us to move closer to her and her family.  To those out of state, I told them I was fearful that they would not return me to be buried in Texas.

Both my great grandfathers moved here in the early 1800's- my maternal one in 1849 and my paternal one in the 1830's.  Both were strong personalities from what I've determined.  My maternal grandfather was very independent and started driving cattle to Kansas at the age of 15.  He was greatly loved by his children and his children's children - I was one of them.  He told us of his adventures as a cowboy, about seeing Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson and others of historic note - all of whom he classified as "thugs".  He was a highly principled, kind, small (in stature) compassionate man whom I never heard speak a curse word.  Why am I telling you all this?  I feel like I am part of a long line that stretches from Scotland to Ireland to America and to Texas.  And I simply feel I would be out of place were I to be buried other than where my near ancestors are buried.  When looked at in that light, it may seem rather strange to others, but to a native-born Texan, it is perfectly natural.  And, yes, I am prepared to defend my statement that I am a Native Texan.  The dictionary defines native as: "being the place or environment in which one was born", or :"being the place or environment where a thing came into being".  Since I was born here, ergo, I am a native as in Native Texan.  Now, I have American Indian cousins, so I call them Native, Indigenous Americans.  Indigenous is defined as "originating in and characterizing a particular region or country."  In my mind, I classify myself as stated, but not as a Native, Indigenous American (or Texan).  Does that compute to all you who are not Native Texans?  It is a State of Mind and not just a State.  I rest my case.

And now, to Jet Lag as addressed by PTJ in LL-286.  In my travels as a corporate person, I found it much easier to cope with jet lag when I traveled east - as from the US to Europe.  I nearly always arrived in the morning about 8 AM to 9 AM.  Although difficult, I would find activities to keep me awake until at least 8 PM.  Sometime about then, I would crash and sleep until the next morning.  That was my way of adjusting my biological clock to local time.  I never found a way to adjust when traveling west.  Perhaps some of you correspondents have suggestions - not for me as I am no longer a part of that life.  I might add that I read back then that it took one day to adjust for every two time zones crossed.  I don't agree, but if you changed that to one day for every 5-6 time zones, I'd agree.  Let's hear from some of your younger readers.


I've moved so often that I don't have a really clear sense of one specific local specifically being home - but then on the other hand, I consider California to be my home state, and the fact that my grandfather and father are from there gives the feeling more validity for me.     [Top of page]

"University & Earthquakes"     [Top of page]

Subject: I'm back
Date: Fri, 2 Feb 2001  +0530
From: IVJ  [India]

I'm writing after a long time.  Actually, I had an accident.  I was crossing the road at a curve when I was hit with the side of a man's scooter.  He wasn't driving so fast, so I got away with a fracture in my right hand (which got twisted as I fell after the hit), my knees were scraped and I got a few bruises.  My first major accident and first time to have a fractured bone.

Anyway I've recovered, and have been able to write since December.  By that time though, I had a lot of school work to complete.  My friends had helped me complete the notebook work while I was injured, but I had to do the file work myself.  I also had exams (twice) in January.  And now my final practicals are going on.  I had one today - chemistry.  We had this old lady as the invigilator.  She asked questions that our class had never heard of!  Thankfully the viva was of only five marks.

Well I'm still busy with my other practicals.  We've got our final exams in March.  After that it's Uni.  I'm so confused.  I couldn't decide what subjects to take at Uni.  My dad said do what pleases me, but when I suggested Performing Arts he said no.  He is always pushing me towards computers, so I said Web-Designing.  He said that's not an exact field.  OK, now I'm going for IT.  He says the institute I'm talking about is too far away.  Man, I'm stuck.  Anyway!!!

Oh yeah!  You must have heard about the earthquake in India.  There's been this news going around that an astrologer had already predicted the earthquake in Gujrat.  Now the same guy says there's going to be one in Delhi tomorrow.

So if I stay alive, I'll write back to you again.  I somehow don't think any such thing is going to happen... at least not tomorrow.  But there you are, people just don't think anything can happen to them till it does.

Whatever, I still have to study for my maths test tomorrow.  We're also having our farewell party soon.  We're supposed to wear the traditional clothing called "sari".  We girls are still busy deciding which ones to wear.  For the boys it's easier, as they can wear suits.

IVJ      [Top of page]

"A Chinese Weekend in London"     [Top of page]

Subject: e-mails
Date: 29 Jan 2001
From: SBK  [UK]

A Chinese Weekend

As you are all probably aware, the year of the snake is now upon us, and in London's Chinatown the celebrations are held until the following weekend.  I know because six of us went there on the day itself and there were lots and lots of other people, in a state of expectant euphoria, who like ourselves had an evening that culminated in a great display of .... nothing.

Oh well, the food was good anyway.  So we returned on Sunday and there were plenty of things going on.  Dragon dancing in the streets, a stage in Leicester Square where there was an English guy singing in Chinese - well that's a first if ever I saw one - and a whole cornucopia of dance and musical entertainment.  The problem was that there were so many people that you couldn't see very much, so the whole exercise can be summed up as "Many people can see nothing and too many people see even less".  Well that's my stab at some form of an eloquent maxim!

So back to the car, off to a Thai restaurant that we knew, as there were queues at all the restaurants that you could just about get to in Chinatown.

The occasion turned into a pleasant evening of debate and verbal discourse.

Except for about half an hour of it.  Unfortunately the main subject for this period was rather morbid.  "The Stalinist era and other dictatorial influences in Russia."  My fiancee comes from Moscow (we met on the Internet) and my friend was was so enamored with her that he asked us if we could introduce him to someone my other half knows.  This we have done, and this weekend was their first meeting after e-mailing each other for the past three months.  My friend has had this fascination for all things Russian for many years, but in the end I had to tell him to shut up as all he was going on about was Stalin and it was becoming boring.  So in this case maybe "A time for a first course, a time for a discourse and a time for ......  for ......

Oh well, finish that one off for yourselves.

SBK      [Top of page]

"Almost Relationships, Etc."     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: TheFirstOne
Date: Mon, 29 Jan 2001  -0800
From: KCM  [US]

I think I have a cold.  I feel light-headed, and I have a test coming up in a few minutes.  I can't really afford to get sick this week, because I have another midterm.  All I want to do right now is go back to bed...

I learned one lesson last night - never eat dinner with biology majors.  Main topics of conversation included: the Guinness Book of World Records, tumors, the best way to kill a mouse and dissection (of the same mouse), etc.  A few times, I would realize what they were talking about and say, "Oh, we shouldn't talk about this stuff; it's gross and we're eating," they would burst out laughing and then continue on to another, still more gruesome topic.  Surprisingly, I managed to eat most of my dinner and keep it down.

Date: Tue, 30 Jan 2001  -0800  [KCM]

I'm feeling much better now that I've got some sleep and rest.

Last night, my roommate and I were talking about the many "almost" relationships that aren't quite happening yet, usually because one or both parties are so afraid of rejection or have inferiority complexes.  The guy who lives directly above us, V, has a thing for this girl, C.  C is practically throwing herself at him, but he denies that she has any feelings for him.  Evidence: she touched his thigh, she flirts with him constantly, she said "I'm interested in what you're doing", etc.  It took a lot of talking on our part to convince him that as girls, we can tell when another girl is into a guy.  Especially when she is being so obvious.  Even then, he wasn't sure, and finally my roommate told him to do something for her for Valentine's Day.

Where would guys be without us?  ^_^  His friends didn't believe us, the dorks.

Time for class.

Date: Wed, 31 Jan 2001  -0800  [KCM]

Someone called twice at four in the morning.  Woke me up and didn't say a word.  Another person called at seven, looking for someone who wasn't me or my roommate.  Same thing happened last night.  These phone calls are driving me insane.  Well, at least the one at seven woke me up for class.

KCM      [Top of page]

"From the Twelfth Floor"     [Top of page]
(2001/04/17  11:00  Yotsuya)

As I look out the 12th floor window on the other side of my narrow desk, I contemplate the view of Shinjuku with mixed feelings.....  Glad to have the window open on the clear day - with a slight breeze blowing through at a nice temperature.  But when I look off into the near distance at the high rise buildings on the other side of Shinjuku station - only a twenty minute walk away, I'm almost horrified to see how unclear the buildings are through the brown-gray smog... and I'm genuinely worried about the condition of my lungs and body after living in this toxic city for so long.  I know, I know - many large cities are toxic!  I'm not blaming Tokyo in particular - just stating a fact - that the air quality in this city is not very good.  During the windy winter the junk is blown away, but on a day with little wind like today, the air "quality" is very poor.

Air pollution in a city being blown away.....  Blown away to where?!  Thanks to e-mail, I no longer view the world as a such large place, and the idea of the dirty stuff having disappeared is something I can no longer imagine.  Diluted is probably a more accurate way to think of it.  Considering how bad the air looks after one relatively windless day in this mega-city, I don't find the concept of greenhouse gasses accumulating in the atmosphere difficult to believe at all.  I love to drive, but the internal combustion engine is increasingly seeming like a 20th century curse to me.......

21:56  (Nishi-Shinjuku)  In the afternoon, a fairly strong breeze sprung up, and soon I could see the high rises much more clearly - truly Tokyo is a city that needs wind!

"Flowers & Elevators"     [Top of page]

Subject: Flowers & Elevators
Date: Sun, 04 Feb 2001
From: Laf  [US]

I have been thinking about how best to enter my tale about LeeAnne's week.  Maybe with the old cliche "It was the best of times - it was the worst of times..."  Let's begin with "The Best of Times....

An opportunity presented itself to me about a week ago.  My sister was signing up for a night school computer software course.  I went with her to sign up.  While there, I noticed some of the other courses being offered - including a course in Flower Arranging on one of the nights my sister would be there, and at the same time as well.  I have always wanted to learn how to arrange flowers.  I know, most people think it is easy and every woman automatically knows how to create lovely arrangements.  Let me tell you... that's not true.  It is an art.  So, I decided to grab the opportunity.  I signed up, paid my class fees and waited eagerly for Tuesday night (this week).  What can I say?  It was marvelous.  I loved the class.  We work with real flowers in the class.  Each week of the nine week course, we will be creating a different arrangement.  The instructor is teaching us arrangements that will also translate into silk arrangements.  I plan to do most of mine in silk.  That way, when I invest the time in making an arrangement, it will last for awhile.

Okay. now if that was the best of times - just wait until I tell you about the worst.....

I may have mentioned that my sister and daughter work directly for me in the ad agency.  The three of us open the company Monday through Friday.  We arrive very early, between 6:30am and 6:45am.  On Wednesday, my daughter and I got to the office about 6:40am.  We entered the building (which is totally empty at that hour) and headed blissfully for the elevator.  Our building has two elevators.  One of them didn't sound right, so Beth and I decided to take the second one.  We got in and pushed the button for the fourth floor.  When the elevator stopped at our floor, we realized we had a problem.  The doors did not open!  We tried the button to open the doors... and... it didn't work!  So. there we were, at 6:45am, in an empty building... a locked empty building, I might add, trapped in a stuck elevator!  It certainly didn't take long to come to the conclusion that we were not happy with the situation!  So we decided it was time to push the emergency button and get some help.  To our horror, instead of connecting us to someone who could assist us with our dilemma, we were connected to an answering machine!  A machine that relayed its pitiful little message and hung up on us.  By this time, the situation was getting a lot less amusing.  It was at that moment that I really appreciated the cell phone that Aabbb gave me as a gift this year.  I had told him over and over that I had no need of a cell phone... that I would seldom, if ever use it.  He insisted that it was nice to have in an emergency.  Well, he was right.  That cell phone was our lifeline to help in that elevator.  We called the owner of our company to alert him to our little problem.  He promptly kept us on the line and called fire rescue on his other line.  It took the firemen almost 35 minutes get us out.  They had to open the doors with a crowbar. Then we had to scramble up about two and a half feet because the elevator got stuck below our floor.  All is well that ends well... but it certainly was not fun and more than a little harrowing.

On top of all that, we had clients in this week.  Naturally, the old stomach has been telling me just how unimpressed it has been with the week.


I think Laf was even luckier than she thinks with that cell phone... usually they don't work in the steel box that elevators are, unless the signal is particularly strong.  I have seen signal getting through on occasion, but generally speaking, the one place you usually are not able to use a cell phone in is elevators.  In the subway is another - unless you have one the phones that is broadcast to from antennas within the subway stations - in Tokyo that is - is it the same in other places?     [Top of page]

"Back - But Reluctant to Study..."     [Top of page]

Subject: RE: Finally...
Date: Sun, 4 Feb 2001  +0200
From: ELL  [Estonia / Latvia]

................  Regarding my friend... things turned out in a surprising way.  I wrote the letter about friendship sometime around the end of November.  Just after that, at the beginning of December, she was suddenly back from her journey.  One fine day, I answered my phone and the person on the other end was her - she had run out of money and decided that if she'd have to start working, it wouldn't matter anymore if she was in Estonia or in Spain.  Of course I was surprised... I had just gotten used to the idea that she wouldn't be back for a long time... I had also decided to make some sort of welcome-back party when she'd finally actually get back, and now here she was - already back!  We have been catching up on each other's lives as fast as possible and moving back to being best friends again.  I believe we've managed that pretty well, and had some really great fun during the last two months.  She'll be returning to school now in February - but in that sense, the traveling didn't pay off.  She seems even less enthusiastic about studying now than when she made the decision to take a break from school.  The guy she was traveling with stayed in Spain.....  As far as I know, he's been doing some work on farms there.  I finally figured out that he actually had a reason to head south... not a very good reason, but a reason nevertheless.....


"Rain from a Blue Sky?"     [Top of page]
(2001/04/17  22:15  Nishi-Shinjuku)

I really wish I had something metaphorical to say after that title, but the tale I have is so inane... sooooo inane... that, come to think of it, it probably is metaphorical by virtue of being overly inane!  Now that I'm not making any sense at all, let's get the plain facts down:

The building I work in is of a rather unusual design - which is good and bad.  Good in details like the wide balcony where the nicotine drug addicts can get their fixes as they stand under the sky and look out over the Yotsuya skyline with deep meaningful looks on their faces... (I'll have to try a hit of nicotine sometime to see what that's about).  And bad in that some details were overlooked - such as ventilation for the atrium that is directly below the office I work in.  The atrium seems to have been designed with absolutely no ventilation at all... so the emergency stairwell that leads from the inside of the atrium up to the top (12th) floor ends up acting like a chimney, with a strange stale-atrium smell leaking around the door that leads into the 12th floor office... the door that I am sitting literally centimeters away from is thus the exit of the chimney.

The solution?  Open one of the windows in the stairwell one flight down to provide a different exit for that air flow.

The problem?  The creepy building maintenance guy (who slinks around the building exuding odd frequencies) put up a crude cardboard sign in the windowsile that says (in very sloppy handwriting) "Don't open the window - rain can come in".  I read the sign today - deduced that rain doesn't generally fall from a sky without clouds - took the sign out of the window, and opened it up.  Knowing that this is Japan and such things are never-never-never-ever-ever ignored, I awaited the next development.  Later in the afternoon, I heard someone banging around in the stairwell... so just before leaving the office for the day, I opened the big steel door (that creaks as though it belonged to something haunted...) and crept down the stairwell to where I could see the window - now shut and with that crude sign taped to the window in an even sloppier show than the bad handwriting.

Now... the feeling I had at the bottom of the stairs is difficult to explain.....  You know how you get a feeling from things?  You can ride in two different cars - both the exact same model, but with different owners, and the atmosphere in the car is not likely to be an identical one.  Same thing with houses, apartments, and twelve story buildings in Yotsuya.  I stood there looking at that hideous sign crudely taped to the glass, and there was this very uncomfortable feeling in the stale strange-smelling stairwell air.....  I went back up, back through the steel door, and locked it behind me, thankful that it was lockable.

What next?  Considering how any further action is 99.99999% sure to lead to an escalation of the window war in some shape or form, I wonder if I should just leave it alone now.  But... I'm the one sitting right by the exit to the virtual chimney, putting up with that weird smell (and it really is weird - I've never smelled anything like it... maybe the odor is generic stale atrium)... so, being a victim of someone's design oversight, why shouldn't I take a simple action like opening a window in the stairwell to provide an exit for the stale air to flow out of?

Another angles is ... now that I've mentioned it in here, I suppose I have to rip that sign down to see what happens next.  Otherwise there'll be this question hanging over me.  I can see it now... I'm talking to someone five years down the road (after that building is ancient history for me), and they say "Why didn't you try tearing that sign down to see what would happen?" to which I would have to answer "You're right - I should have!  Now we'll never know what would have happened..."

I foresee no pleasant outcome to the story - but I suppose we need to see what's going to happen when that creepy man's sign is again removed from the window.

The moral of the story?  "Rain falls from a cloudless sky in Yotsuya...?"      [Top of page]

"High Prices"     [Top of page]

Date: Tue, 06 Feb 2001
From: DSL  [Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia]

The prices for everything have increased here; postage, bus fares, etc., but not much compared to the increases in Germany.  I recently had lunch in Hamburg where people routinely pay US$8 for a hamburger or burrito with a beverage, or US$9 for a sandwich with a beer or cola.  Hamburg, Germany  has become a US$8 town.  It seems to have begun at Starbuck's (we have Starbuck's in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia too - expensive name and taste!)  I think the Germans and the Malaysians have only themselves to blame - for willing to pay the price to eat/drink in places like Starbuck's, Coffee Bean, etc. - it's a status symbol for people to be seem at such places.  In Malaysia it is just as expensive (relatively) to have lunch at Starbuck's, where a coffee costs US$2 and Sandwich another US$3.  Although these prices may look cheap in Japan or the US, they are expensive in Malaysia, considering that at a normal coffee shop or bar we pay only  30 cents for a cup of coffee!


"Don't Ask Me - Ask Him!"     [Top of page]

I've finally gotten away from working twelve-hour work days, which is great, but now there's a new problem... namely that my pay is only about 60% of what is was.  When I was working myself ragged, I had enough money to pay the bills, but now that I'm working a more normal workday, I no longer am making enough for even sailing - once again the water is getting deeper in weather-beaten SS-Saxon as it sails stormy seas.....

So....... I sent an e-mail to the Prez asking for a raise... and then when I next saw him, I asked him about it.  His response?  "Ask Mr. Zangyo - he's the COO now" - he said gleefully.  Oh boy... here we go again.  I've been through this before in that company.  Trying to get permission for something from someone - anyone at all, and everyone just points at someone else!  Nevertheless, I'll try asking Mr. Zangyo - no doubt he'll point to someone else in turn.

"Are You Still There?"     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: Thursday
Date: Thu, 8 Feb 2001
From: KFE  [UK]

Where has this year gone already?  It's hard to believe we are one week into February - already it's almost still daylight when I leave work at 5 o'clock - I've been used to both leaving home in the dark in the mornings and also leaving work in the dark.  I find the winter depressing and the 40 mile drive to town is miserable.  In the spring and summer it's so much more pleasant and when the weather warms up a bit, the girls shed their overcoats and are a sight to behold... it makes it a pleasure to get stuck at a pedestrian crossing watching them go past.  Still, that's a few months off yet.

So, have you left your job yet or are you hanging on in there, perhaps you're the last employee left in the office!  Is there plenty of work around in Japan, or are good jobs hard to find?  With my commitments I'd have to have another job lined up before I could think of walking out.  Still, I have a reasonably well paid job with little stress and not much office politics, so I'll stay put for the time being.


I'm still there... unfortunately, or maybe fortunately.  There are even some other employees, as they have been replacing most of those who jump ship with newbies who don't know what they're in for...

"Which Window?"     [Top of page]
(2001/04/19  04:28 a.m.  Nishi-Shinjuku)

After getting to the office today, I went into the emergency stairwell and down to the eleventh floor to check the window down there... and already there was a second sign on it!  With the window having been untouched since the first hideous sign was crudely taped back up, I hadn't expected any change, but in retrospect, I should have expected it.  The second sign is there because I took the first one down once.  So... if I take them both down, maybe there'll be three next time?  Actually, as there are three windows, and the building maintenance gnome has defaced only one of them (photos in MP-25), I opened the next window down the hall!  That approach doesn't seem to have been discovered yet, but if I (when I?...) do that again tomorrow, something is bound to happen.  More signs I suppose!

"In a Philosophical Mood"     [Top of page]

Subject: Cyber Reality
Date: Sat, 10 Feb 2001
From: Laf  [US]

Well - it is morning again... the weekend again... in short, it is time to take up my position in front of the old keyboard - ready to make contact with my friends out there in cyber-land.  Some mornings, when I am the only one awake in my house. and the silence envelops me in my corner of the world, I can almost believe that cyber-space is reality... that when we meet, this is where dreams and reality collide.....

Yeah, it looks like I am in one of those weird philosophical moods this morning... obviously not enough coffee yet.

It was a long week at work.  They just keep getting longer.  Have you ever heard of the "Peter Principle"?  It has to do with promoting people to the level of their incompetence.  I wonder sometimes, if it may also mean overloading people beyond the level of their ability to have enough time to get the load accomplished.  You can only delegate so much, then the load falls back on you.  I am at that point.  There is absolutely nowhere I can off-load anything else.  My people are all pushed to the max.  So anything else that gets dumped on us... lands squarely on me.  Does it sound like I am complaining?  I don't mean to.  I guess I feel somewhat backed into a corner.

.......................  Okay, I am back.  I took a few minutes for attitude adjustment.  I created a silk flower arrangement in a tiny basket as a gift for my daughter-in-law.  I have been finding that the silk flowers are a great way to make me feel good and mellow.  In short, I am enjoying it as much as I had hoped I would.  Some arrangements take time - the candle centerpiece arrangement we did in class this week with real carnations, daisies and wax flowers took me over an hour to complete.  It turned out lovely though.  It is currently sitting in the middle of my dining room table.  Last week's sweetheart basket is about to become a silk arrangement for one of my bathrooms this week.  I have decided to enjoy them in the middle of my dining room while they are alive, then convert the display to silk and put them someplace in the house or give them away.  My daughter is in love with the candle display.  She collects candles anyway.

We had some excitement with my sister Aabbb this week... actually Thursday night.  She woke up gasping for breath and couldn't breath.  We had to rush her to the hospital - where we spent more than half the night and several hours yesterday.  It turns out she has bronchitis, and probably the beginnings of Asthma.  She has been confined to quarters for the weekend.  I have little doubt that she will return to work on Monday.  She has this belief that she cannot survive unless she works every day.  I suspect it is one of the pieces of baggage she is carrying from a pretty difficult divorce two years ago.  Anyway, it was more than a little traumatic for all of us.  She is the one who never gets sick.  I told her she was not supposed to do that.  Her designated mission is to stay well.  Mine is to take on the illnesses of the world.  No switching at this point in our lives. (Laugh)

Laf      [Top of page]

"Fire!  Zooommmm BaKaaMM!  War!"     [Top of page]

(April 21st, 2001)  On Friday, I had a major row with Ms. Keiri, the woman in accounting... which came out of a purple sky... I had never had any problems with her before - it just goes to show two things:

1) Because you haven't had trouble with someone for 380 days, doesn't mean you won't have trouble with them on day 381.

2) Beware of people who smile all the time - and I do mean all-the-time... most-of-the-time is great, but all-the-time?  Something is wrong. - it must be!  As nice as it would be if we were living in paradise, we're not - so someone who smiles 457 days a year is being fundamentally dishonest - which begs the question "why?".  I've told myself to be careful about people with their faces permanently stuck in smile mode before... probably 237 times already - maybe I'll remember after telling myself 733 times......

Another problem in the JW office..... what to do... what to do..... only one thing.  E-mail!  I sent another of my infamous company e-mails to deal with the situation, but this one I'm not in the mood to show anyone.  One very interesting thing about this latest skirmish (battle might be a better word) is that in contrast to many other e-mail's where the Prez suggested I was wrong, but the target actually started acting more friendly towards me, this time the Prez completely agreed with what I said, but in spite of that (or because of it), Ms. Keiri - the subject of the e-mail - seems to have become an enemy with battle flags up on the mast for all to see.  But that's ok - after what she did.  I ended my e-mail by saying I no longer consider her to be a human being... something I've never said to anyone before, and which has me shaking my head at the words now as I type those words again.  It's not really good to say that about anyone - and yet I don't regret saying it.  Before zapping out fire-mail, I usually pause with my finger over the left mouse button and ask myself "Do I really want to send this?" - and generally there's a feeling to send it or not to send it - including a sense of coming repercussions when I do.  My Friday morning e-mail couldn't get itself into the wires fast enough - I paused over the Send button, but the answer was just "Go-go-go!", and I still don't regret sending it, but I suppose making an enemy of the person who calculates my pay could carry financial penalties - Maybe I better start making copies of my time card!

"What Are the Ties for Anyway?"     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: LL-287
Date: Mon, 12 Feb 2001
From: BRT  [US]

I applaud your courage to stand up for yourself in the workplace.  I count myself as fortunate in that I have not been exposed to much office politics.  I did have to put up with some of that when I was a student assistant for the CA State Board of Equalization.  Luckily, my position allowed me to maintain a reputation of being "harmless and powerless" as far as that kind of thing.

Actually, looking back at it.  I can laugh at the whole thing.  On one side was my boss and her immediate subordinate - the ones who got me the job and did the paperwork for my paychecks.  They were the more professional side (i.e. less politics and more office).  The other side was recruiting me - to side against the people who hired and paid me!  They didn't seem to notice the consequences of what they were asking.  Being a student assistant meant my position was much more temporary than theirs.  Fortunately, I convinced them I was not only less than interested in taking sides, but I was less than influential to have as an ally.

My personal rule has been to avoid companies where such a waste of energy is likely to happen.  So far, I've batted two for three.  The one time I missed was a very short stint.  I still hear occasionally over the grapevine about that company and their continuing troubles.

I think that counts very strongly for the relatively new work culture in California.  The casual, relaxed atmosphere seems to go a very long way in keeping people from getting all stuffy under their shirts.  Maybe T-shirts are just more porous than the whole suit thing...  Makes me surprised that more places haven't taken notice and relaxed themselves.  I think that people who get stuffy under the shirt are also afraid of change, and so will fight to stay in their more formal, higher-stress environment.


"Saturday Night"     [Top of page]
(2001/04/21  22:44)

As I wrote about before, I bought a Nikon FM/2 camera body when I couldn't really afford to... and now I'm feeling the pinch with my reduced income.  (My e-mail regarding a pay raise that I sent to the COO has remained unanswered so far...)  There's a very pervasive feeling in the air of change...  I'm not sure if I mentioned it or not, but the JW Company has to move out of the building.  Why, is a subject of some conjecture, but what is certain is that the company is being pushed to get out of that space as soon as possible, and they seem to be trying to stall for more time.....  What it all means is unclear, but something doesn't feel right about it - as though..... well...... I don't really know, and it's not for me to say anyway.

So - let's just leave it at: "Hope for the best, and prepare for the worst".

Sore dewa!

Free word processor software:
StarOffice, from Sun Microsystems - similar to MS Office, and you can both read and save files in MS Word format.  I use it to write the LL-Letters.  It's free, but as it's 80MB, it takes awhile to download.

English word processor (basic version is free, full version cheap) called "Yeah Write" I often use it for quick notes.  Compared to StarOffice, this one is very light - in fact, it will fit on a single 1.44MB floppy.

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon
Images Through Glass
Nishi-Shinjuku, Tokyo
April 22nd, 2001
[Top of page]