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"Letter-Letter 294"
April 23rd, 2001

"Movie Dubbing/Subtitles"
"Considering a Change"  by DRM
"Keeping Asleep / Staying Awake"  by PBU
"Japanese & English (Language) In Singapore"  by HLS
"No More Than an Hour"  by HHE
"Thinking Back"  by SAJ
"International Movie Firestorm!"
"A Hundred-Dollar Hamburger"  by GDJ
"I Hate Cell Phones"  by MMH & LHS
"Son Off to Denmark"  by NBN
"New Car & Upcoming Vacation"  by NTJ & LHS
"Strange Office You Work In....."  by KFE & LHS
"Financial Economics"  by ELL
"No Earthquake After All!"  by IVJ
"Scanned E-Mail"  by KFE
"Repainting & Computer Trouble"  by MMH
"Risk Assessment & Visas"  by SAJ & LHS
"Bring the Actor Back!!by IVJ

"Movie Dubbing/Subtitles"     [Top of page]

I was just reading a firestorm of letters from a group of people from different countries going on about whether movies should be dubbed or not, and it occurred to me that here in Japan the situation is probably a bit different from most other countries - and that there are a lot of choices here.  Firstly, DVDs are definitely the best way to go, as you can have any combination of spoken English or Japanese, and subtitles in English or Japanese (or nothing at all).  But let me back up a bit first:

I've experienced most sides of the issue personally I think.  Beginning with foreign movies on television in America that had been dubbed into English, and then Japanese movies at the Kokusai Movie Theater in San Francisco that were in Japanese with English subtitles.  There's something to be said for both approaches I think.  If you just want to relax and enjoy the movie, its being dubbed definitely makes it easier to watch!  I still remember how tiring it was at times with the subtitled Japanese movies to be trying to watch the actors faces and having to keep looking down to see what they were saying.  On the other hand, in contrast to my brothers and I laughing at dubbed movies on TV where the actors lips had stopped moving, but they were still talking, movies with subtitles carry the feeling of the words somehow even if you don't know a word of the language.  Every language has it's music, and being able to hear it conveys something of the feeling of the culture.

In the US, those were the only choices I had had, but after coming to Japan, I was pleasantly surprised to find that (mostly) American movies on TV are broadcast in both Japanese and English - you push a button on your remote control and you can switch back and forth between Japanese and English.  It's one way (not the best) to study the language... you tape a movie (the video decks have the same bilingual feature), watch it in one language first, and then rewind it and watch it in the other language.  Just last weekend I saw a movie like that.  I watched it in English first, and then rewound it and watched it again in (dubbed) Japanese.  The dubbing of movies here is done quite professionally, with the sound always seeming to match the lips - but what is funny is that they use the same team of people for the voices for all movies!  So there's the "tough guy hero" voice, the "beautiful/sexy heroine" voice, the "bad guy" voice, the "cynical alcohol/cigarette voice" woman, etc.  I've been listening to the same group of ten or so voice actors for over a decade, so when I hear someone speak on TV, I know in seconds whether it's a dubbed movie before I even see the screen!

Another variation is with pre-recorded video tape.  There are often three choices when you buy a foreign movie on tape:

1) English language sound in stereo with Japanese subtitles

2) Japanese language sound in stereo with no English in any shape or form

3) Both Japanese and English - that you can switch back and forth between - but no stereo, since one track is used for Japanese and the other track for English.

So with video tape, you're always missing out on something.  But - with DVD, you've got everything, and in practically any combination!  What is really funny and quite entertaining to do - is to select dubbed Japanese and Japanese subtitles at the same time.  Both Japanese, but usually completely different!  Like two different stories!  The dubbed Japanese is composed to be of the same length as the original English (so the voice actors can lip-sync), even if the content is terribly skewed, and the subtitles are made to convey as much as possible with the shortest sentences (for quick reading) - even if the content is terribly skewed.....  So, when both versions are skewed in different directions, it's downright hilarious to watch!  The original English being the base, the English subtitles can only be a single skew (instead of the often doubly skewed spoken & written versions of Japanese), but they're not translations after all, so the only thing you miss out on is a detail here or there when particularly long sentences have been slightly shortened (some movies are more faithful to the actual script than others).

And you have the option of just listening to English (or Japanese) with no subtitles getting in the way on the picture - which is something I found a little irritating when I first started seeing movies in theaters here (which are always in the original language, with Japanese subtitles).  So, the e-mails zapping back and forth debating which is best can all be answered with three letters: DVD.  With DVD, you get all options, so you can watch the movie any way you like.  Well - that's the way it is in Japan anyway!  There are different worldwide regions for DVD, so I'm not sure how it's done in Europe - maybe there's no dubbed audio track but several different choices of subtitles so that one type of disk can cover the whole region?  Does anyone know?  I've only used the type-2 disks sold in Japan......

This is a happy example of technology saving the day.  When you can't have it all, it's an endless debate to try and pick the "best" way.  It seems that there is no answer - but when you can have it all, whatever you like, you've got it!  Suddenly everyone can be happy - until they try to watch a movie together anyway!     [Top of page]

"Considering a Change"     [Top of page]

Subject: Collegiate Chronology
Date: Tue, 13 Feb 2001  -0500
From: DRM  [US]

I'm about halfway through my freshman year at Ohio University where I am double majoring in fine art photography and photographic illustration.  Though I have only completed a quarter and a half of my schooling here, I am already finding that there are many things that are beginning to sour me on the academic environment here.

The art and visual communication departments here are quite good- held in rather high regard in the academic community.  From what I've experienced thus far, those reputations are well-deserved.  The quality of education and instruction is absolutely top-notch.  However, there are still things that make me think I might not be in the right place.

The curriculum/training of the photographic illustration program is designed to give students a strong background in studio photography and to prepare them for a successful career in commercial photography.  However, the more I look into the classes I am to take over the course of the next three years or so, the more I realize how little they apply to the kind of career I want to pursue after graduation.  The last thing I want to do is spend my days shooting products and advertisements in a sterile studio setting.  That seems to be what I'm being prepared for, though.

Despite having one of the best photography programs in the nation, Ohio University seems to be ignoring their facilities, as both the equipment and the building housing the photo department are old and often inadequate.  For example, the only place to dry film is a small and dusty cabinet in a drafty corridor next to the only place to dry prints- a pathetic set of drying screens that haven't been cleaned or otherwise maintained  in the many years since they were put in place.  Storage lockers rented to the students for chemical/equipment storage are grievously small and rusty.

The rest of Ohio U. and Athens, Ohio in general really isn't helping the matter.  I don't drink or get high, and as a result, there seems to be virtually nothing for me to do around here.  There seems to be a complete lack of intellectually-stimulating things to do in this town, and at times it's almost suffocating.

It is for these reasons that I'm seriously thinking of transferring to another school.  I would have to make a sacrifice in terms of the reputation of the photography program, but I think that would more than be made up for with what I would gain in terms of personal enjoyment of college.  Only time will tell, though.  At this point I think I'll stay where I am - at least through my sophomore year - and see how things stand after that.

DRM      [Top of page]

"Keeping Asleep / Staying Awake"     [Top of page]

Subject: GladToHear...
Date: Thu, 15 Feb 2001  -0000
From: PBU  [Pakistan / UK]

..............  My wife has been going to the shops every day, finding presents for relatives back home in Pakistan.  She's got her hands full with taking the children to and from school, working at McDonald's, preparing food for the family, packing for the upcoming trip... she's busy all the time.  I think it has been very tiring for her.....  Sometimes I help, but I should be doing more actually.  All I do is go to the hospital in the morning and come back in the evening.  I guess it has become my routine to keep my patients asleep while the operation is going on.  I've done it for twelve years now and it feels like an ordinary routine.  There is usually some music or friendly chat going on in the operation theater, the patient is fully asleep, the anesthetist (me) is fully awake, the surgeon is half asleep, the nurses are yawning and wanting to sleep, and some people are just waiting for the operation list to finish so they can go home.  Today I'm covering the intensive care and labor ward.  Luckily there is nothing happening right now, therefore I can sit down in the office and write you this message.  I finish at 5pm today, and I'll be home to finish up my packing.  My son has already booked a taxi to the airport... I think everybody in my family is more organized than me (smile).


"Japanese & English (Language) In Singapore"     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: LL-287
Date: Tue, 13 Feb 2001
From: HLS  [Singapore]

.............  I really understand what you mean about proofreading Japanese-English.  I know, because I am working in the Singapore office of a Japanese Company.  Except for two other locals, all of the employees are Japanese men.  At times, I am required to proofread their documentation - things like cancellation of subscriptions for journals, translations from Japanese to English, etc.  Some observations are as follows:-

1) They tend to use long sentences and their punctuation is really bad.

2) They use terms that are common expressions in Japanese.  For example, "tokuni" and "jitsu wa" which translate into "especially"/"particularly" and "actually".  Some words like "ichiou" are even more difficult to translate. (Sigh!)

3) They like to start off with the date and time at the beginning of the sentences.

4) They have a tendency to use expressions like "not so big", be it conversational or written.  (Makes me wonder why they cannot use "small" to replace "not so big"!)  I guess it stems from the grammatical structure "amari ---- nai desu".  After working for more than half a year here, I sometimes catch myself making the same mistakes - which is an occupational hazards I suppose!

One of my colleagues, Mr. T, likes to ask me to check his English before he submits it to my number one and number two bosses.  But his English is really hard to comprehend at times.  Even after I correct his English or at least try to comprehend the gist of his articles/letters,  I feel that what I return to him is poorly written.  But what really makes me angry is that sometimes he will ask the other local in the company to proofread what I've written, and vice versa.  Hmm... sometimes I really wish I had the courage to tell him off!


"No More Than an Hour"     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: SendBook
Date: Thu, 15 Feb 2001  -0600
From: HHE  [US]

...............  I'm not as effective at time management as I was... and really don't want to be.  Ho! Ho!  Back when I was a corporate exec, I had a rule on any meeting over which I presided - if it ran over an hour, all participants had to stand until the meeting was over.  It kept down extraneous discussions.  That was one of my time management tools.  Time management is an anomaly - no one thinks they have enough time, but everyone has as much as they will ever get (24 hours/day).


"Thinking Back"     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: OK?
Date: Mon, 19 Feb 2001  +0100
From: SAJ  [US / Holland]

My father was a builder by trade, overseeing several housing developments in Venice, Florida, working for larger companies.  He always had some other type of business on the side.  Ranging from raising horses, to mobile home sales, to land development projects in Colorado, and I'm sure several other things I didn't/don't know about.  I remember how awful the stress was around the house when these "on the side" deals would fold or my father would want to move on to something else.  He would always break even it seemed, but unless he came out ahead in the end, my Mother would make things miserable for him.  Even to this day she will say he never learned, that before one deal was finished, he would have another one started.  Some people are like this - so I could never understand the big deal, since my father never went into the "red" in the end.  Without realizing it however, parts of my parents' conversations have stuck in mind, even though I tried to block out their fighting by hiding away in my room with my music turned up loud.

But now many of the things I heard are coming out in questions I ask Aabbb about him leaving the company.  I ask, Aabbb answers, and in the end I still wonder if maybe Aabbb is trusting things a little to much.  I try to be constructive and ask questions about things maybe Aabbb hasn't thought about.  As it looks right now, everything is under control.  I believe it may well be the "calm before the storm" though.  From where I stand, both Aabbb and Bbccc are holding back on things.  While Bbccc wants to keep everything at the office, even items which he is not able to use, he doesn't wish to pay half of the worth of the items to Aabbb.  Bbccc feels that since Aabbb wishes to walk away, then he should walk away with nothing at all.  And Bbccc also wishes to keep the credit at the bank with Aabbb's name on it.

When I get angry or have something on my mind, I tend to clean, and I must say the house looks fabulous these days. <S> One more reason I hope time passes fast between now and April 23rd, so I won't have all of this on my mind any longer.  There won't be any finish on anything before too long. lol  I should get back into my art instead of cleaning all the time.  I am not sure if all these events have anything to do with it, but lately I haven't been able to do anything I like with my art stuff.  I am finding that some old habits are starting to return instead.....


"International Movie Firestorm!"     [Top of page]
(2001/04/25  1:27 a.m.  Nishi-Shinjuku)

I was recently invited into a group of about 30 people who generally throw cooking recipes, jokes and family news back and forth - but several of them got heated up about movie subtitles recently ("Movie Dubbing/Subtitles") - to the point where one of them from Austria quit the group after felling insulted by the comments from someone from Belgium.  The thing that stands out about the exchange towards the end is the way that - suddenly, people were saying "Germans blah blah..." and "Belgians blah blah..." etc., lumping entire nations of people together as though they were manufactured products from a factory.  I haven't decided exactly how to tactfully address this issue to those involved (generally I'm just a silent observer in that group), but I feel like saying something.  Basically, lumping everyone together is either racism or nationalism - in this case a kind of nationalism.  I already posted a slightly different version of the lead story of LL-294, which didn't get anyone riled up fortunately!  Now... how to tell someone that they need to understand that all nations are groups of individual people - and not just one homogenized entity.......

"A Hundred-Dollar Hamburger"     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: Friday
Date: Sat, 17 Feb 2001
From: GDJ  [US]

I just got back from a short out-of-town job, and am home for a few days.  This is my first weekend off in three.  I plan to go flying on Sunday and enjoy what we call a 100 dollar hamburger.  That is where you fly somewhere about one to two hundred miles away and enjoy some of the local food and color.  I hope my son will come with me this time.  He is a pretty good pilot himself for 16 years old.

This Saturday I will be getting some parts for the completion of my home built computer.  I found an integrated mother board with sound, video and 56k modem.  This includes a 500MHz CPU.  All this for $130.  The last thing is the 128MB of ram for $65.

I hope your weather gets warmer for you too.  I hate the cold, that's why I moved to Tennessee, It rarely gets cold here and when it does, it's not for long.


"I Hate Cell Phones"     [Top of page]

Date: Fri, 16 Feb 2001  -0800
From: MMH  [US]

I hate cell phones.  I understand why other people use them, and that there are hundreds of good reasons for having one, but I still hate them.  I don't own a cell phone, but it's becoming a challenge to see how long I can go without the need for one.  Last summer, when Aabbb and I planned to go on a long drive to visit her relatives, we considered getting a cell phone for safety reasons.  Would it not come in handy to have a cell phone should we break down in the middle of the desert?  We finally decided against it - and low and behold, we didn't need one.  Now I hear about these folks who fell out of their boat in the Puget sound and how they swam through freezing water - finally reaching an island.  They were rescued, but said that next time they would take cell phones with them.  Lost in the woods?  Use a cell phone.  Just climbed Mt. Rainier?  Use a cell phone and tell your friends you're looking down on them.  Now I've heard they are coming out with disposable cell phones.  They will be good for about 15 minutes of air time and then you just toss them away.  I have already been putting up with cell phones in theaters, you can't stand in line at the grocery store without having someone talking to one in front of you, the drive to the park-n-ride is more dangerous because the person next to you is weaving around while talking on a cell phone.  And now I'm going to have to worry about picking up disposable cell phones that as sure as the sky is blue someone is going to litter the sidewalk with?

Maybe it's just me.  I don't live for the phone.  I know it is a bit bothersome to some people that I often will not answer my phone in the evening.  We stopped doing that a few years ago because of all the telemarketers who call in the evening.  I typically respond to any real phone calls the next morning.  If we are expecting a call, we will pick up.  But I am a very firm believer in answering machines.  I like using mine - it has a better memory than I do.

And while I hate cell phones, I love e-mail.  I live and breath e-mail.  And even though my service allows me to be connected via cable 24 hours a day, I find I must turn off my browser and limit myself to checking e-mail only three times a day so that I can get some work done.  Occasionally I leave it on - usually when I am working with long distance clients and they want immediate feedback on a project.

My greatest technology fear is that one day I will be so in love with my e-mail that I will break down and get a cell phone that has all the e-mail features I love so much on my computer.  Being able to keep track of all my email while I am on the road just might lure me into the deep dark depths of cellular ownership.....

On Wednesday, the police closed down the interstate highway.  Aabbb missed her bus and I had to drive her in to work.  The highway was still closed when I tried to return home.  The reason for the closure - the police thought there were some explosives in a shed.  A hundred police re-routing traffic, bomb squads, automated bomb robots, and bomb sniffing dogs were all around this shed.  Fearing the shed might be booby trapped, the police cut a hole in the back and sent in a robot, then the bomb squad and finally the bomb sniffing dogs.  And what did they find after all this work?  Nothing...

This weekend Aabbb and I will paint the library.  We have already moved half the furniture out.  Tomorrow the other half moves out and the sanding and painting will start.


The interesting thing I've noticed about having a cell phone is that I make fewer calls since owning one... an extension of the way people began writing fewer letters as soon as they knew someone was only a phone call away.  If you know you can reach someone anytime, then you don't feel the need to call just because there's a phone in front of you, which I used to do when public phones were the only way of talking to someone somewhere else while I was out.  If I had a few minutes and there was a public phone in front of me, I'd invariably call someone.  Now, I've always got a phone in my pocket, and I call people much less often - and they call me less often as well.  So it would seem that if you don't want to talk on the phone, then getting a cell phone cuts down the time you spend on the phone?  It's been that way for me in any case!     [Top of page]

"Son Off to Denmark"     [Top of page]

Subject: Hi! Lyle.
Date: Mon, 19 Feb 2001  +0000 (GMT)
From: NBN

My son is going to Denmark again tomorrow to visit his girlfriend.  When she was over a couple of weeks ago, he brought her here to meet me.  Bbccc was invited to Denmark for a week at the New Year and he flew off on December 28th.  He liked Denmark, but said it was very cold there.  His girlfriend lives a ten minute walk from Copenhagen airport.  Bbccc had his photo taken by the Little Mermaid statue.

A few weeks ago l had to go for an MRI scan because of my chronic sciatica.  It felt like being put into a sealed box, even though the girl in charge put me in feet first instead of head first because of my panic attacks.  When she first put me in l made her get me out again.  Before trying it again she said to tilt my head and to look at all the space behind me.  It was just about bearable like that, but had she put me in even an inch further than she did, l would have chickened out!  Now the hospital wants me to have a nerve root block.....


"New Car & Upcoming Vacation"     [Top of page]

Subject: LL- from Oss.
Date: Sun, 18 Feb 2001  +0100
From: NTJ  [Indonesia / Holland]

There will be some big changes at my job, because the company is expanding and will be hiring more employees.  I've already worked several years in my department (Quality Assurance) and I'm now busy applying for a different job in the Logistics Department.  I hope that they need me there!

Several weeks ago I bought a new car - a BMW 320i.  It was time to buy one, because my previous car was already 14 years old, and was having engine trouble.  BMWs here in the Netherlands are quite expensive, but since I plan to use it for a long time - I prefer buying something with high quality.  Because of my new car, I'm very happy these days.

I'm planning to go with family to Austria for the summer-holiday.  But I'll probably wait a bit before booking at a travel agency, as I'm not sure about the weather.  In the summer here, the weather is often rainy.  I get about 50 days off per year - how many days do you get off in Japan?  One of my colleagues from another department has just returned from Tokyo.  He told me that everything in Tokyo was quite expensive, with meals costing double what they would in the Netherlands.  He also told that Japan is more technologically advanced than Europe, and with a better infrastructure.


One of the interesting things about Japan is that there are the really old buildings (temples, etc.) which practically everyone on the planet wants to have preserved - and then there is everything in the past 130 years - which falls under the largely erroneous term "westernization" , which is looked down upon to the same extent that the traditional stuff is looked up to.  I also like the old stuff - but there have been a lot of interesting things built in the past 130 years too.  Unfortunately though, any building in Japan not over 130 years old (or a replica of one), but older than about ten years old, is considered too old and begging for demolition.  The result is that - in age - the buildings of Japan's cities, particularly the large ones, are on average quite a bit newer than the ones in Europe - and thus more wired with technology.  I haven't spent enough time in Europe to say much in comparison, but I can say that I envy (from the viewpoint of someone living in Tokyo) Europe's cities their older buildings - and the connection to the past... which is ironic, considering the image of Japan... the ancient culture, etc.     [Top of page]

"Strange Office You Work In....."     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: Thursday
Date: Wed, 21 Feb 2001
From: KFE  [UK]

Strange office you work in, where you have to upgrade your computers yourself, I hope you got reimbursed for the bits you purchased.  The computer I use in the office is nothing much, a Pentium-2 processor, I've no idea of the speed, and only 64MB memory.  At home, we've a P-3 600 with 128MB.  The stupid thing is that the one at work is far quicker on the internet - shows the difference a decent connection can make. The only thing I hate about the one at work is the small screen and lousy graphics.

I guess you are nine or ten hours ahead of London, so as I write this at 15:30 with a cup of coffee and contemplating the 40 mile drive home in an hour or so, you are probably already in bed or perhaps having a late night surf.  It gets a bit eerie when you think that a trip from Japan to Hawaii will take you back virtually a whole day.  Before  I started communicating around the world by e-mail, I gave very little thought to time differences, not that it matters what time you e-mail someone, it's just all these people at different stages of their day gives me pause for thought.

Our office is decimated by some new form of lurgy, I hope I don't catch it.  I smoke a fair bit, does me no good but I'm sure it helps fend off colds etc., not that we can smoke in the office - have to go outside for that.  It's actually a pleasant hazy sunny afternoon here in London, we've been promised colder weather and possibly snow later in the week, something to look forward to!

Guess I'll pop out for a smoke now and think about doing a bit more work before I go.


I could have managed somehow without upgrading the junk computer the company initially gave me to work on, but I was losing a lot of time with freeze-ups and re-boots - not to mention that I couldn't utilize all the software that I should be using to perform my job properly.  So... in all, with the computer I have there now - my third in a year, I've invested about $650, half of which the company reimbursed me for.  What this means is, if I quit, that computer's hard drive and half of the 256MB memory are going with me.  They're still mine, since the company won't pay for them.  Using my own memory board doesn't bother me much, as it's not a moving part, and so if I use it in another machine in the future, it probably won't be any the worse for its time spent working in my company OptiPlex G1.  The hard drive on the other hand, isn't the sort of part that lasts forever, and so it bothers me just a little that I'm wearing my own 8GB drive down in that computer.  But the savings in aggravation is something that money can't buy!  Life is short, so if you can make weeks and weeks of it more pleasant (less irritating?) through a $150 investment, it could well be one of the better investments you'll make in your lifetime.  Certainly that hard drive and extra memory (upped to 256MB from 32MB) has made my daytime life a little easier to deal with - possible a lot easier.  The computer is working for me now, whereas I was working for the computer before.     [Top of page]

"Financial Economics"     [Top of page]

Subject: the LL book
Date: Wed, 21 Feb 2001  +0200
From: ELL  [Estonia / Latvia]

I'm now finally holding the first-ever-printed version of LLs in my hands and it feels surprisingly good.  Surprising mostly because I didn't really anticipate the moment or speculate on if I would feel something or not - good because the book is a sort of a creation, which has taken a lot of effort, and although my own contribution has been very small, there still remains a chance that perhaps someone somewhere will find something to think about in my words as well.  I can't help but wish that the warmth and the sun would already be here, so that I could take off and sit in a park accompanied by a good book... the ultimate enjoyment I believe.

Today is a remarkable day by the way.  I had an exam in presumably the toughest subject in this school - Financial Economics, which was so harsh that it seemed totally appropriate when someone mentioned afterwards that the exam results will probably be canceled if more than 70% of us fail...  More than anything else, I just wish I would pass.  I don't want to go through that again.

Anyway, perhaps this nightmare is really over.  I've studied more during the past seven weeks than probably ever before.  I've almost forgotten that there's anything else...  I haven't been to a movie or a concert, haven't read anything just for fun - I haven't even had time to write to my friends all over the world... how will I get my life back now?  Perhaps it would even be better not to continue with all the past bad habits... maybe I should take some time to reconsider everything, read from this little blue book about how people live in other parts of the world and construct sort of my own vision of perfection... I doubt I will get too far with such idealism though... :)  Soon everything will be back to "normal".

Anyway, I generally like being busy during winter because then it's possible for the spring to come so unexpectedly and suddenly that I won't even start stressing over the extent of the dark and bad winter times... today it's snowing, but the better times have to be on the way... if I only believe in them enough... :)


"No Earthquake After All!"     [Top of page]

Subject: jazz
Date: Tue, 20 Feb 2001  +0530
From: IVJ  [India]

Well I'm still alive!!!!!!!!!!!!

There was no earthquake in our city.  Actually the guy who was spreading the rumors got arrested.  I wonder if it was right, or rather if it was of any use.  After all, it is the stupidity of the people to believe someone about something even the scientists couldn't accurately predict.  But then in India, faith is really important and there are still lots of people who would rather do what an astrologer says then what a scientist says.  Also there are many illiterate people who wouldn't be able to relate to a thing like science.  Though my "chachi" (the wife of my dad's brother) has had schooling, and is considered to be pretty intelligent, she was still quite afraid that there might be an earthquake.  She even got her children to play outside till the time stated for the earthquake had passed by.  I on the other hand was cracking jokes.  I said,"Chachi, why don't you get your makeup on - after all, you'll be on TV after the earthquake".

By the way, I'm not making fun of the people who did get caught in the earthquake.  I'm just a person who is prone to making jokes as I'd rather stay positive and happy.  I wasn't happy yesterday though.  I hadn't been able to connect to the Net for the past two weeks.  I got the dialing sound, but not the noisy one you usually get while the computer is connecting (I wonder if you get the same noise there...).  First I thought it would fix itself, but when it didn't and we got a call from my sister who said she had sent some important e-mail, I called the Customer Support Center of our provider.  I called eight times - explaining the problem seven times to six different people.  They got me to go through my settings again and again - making some changes, and it still didn't help.  The last one then said that there might be a loose connection in the wiring.  I checked - all the connections were fine.  He then said there must be a problem in the jack.  I checked - the first time it was OK, but then I found the problem.  One of the colored wires inside the main wire was loose.  I had gone crazy trying to find what was wrong - having a phone pressed up against my ears for three hours.....

Well, then my dad tried to set the loose connection right, but ended up breaking the jack.  Then we got a new one and I'm happy now.  Phew!!!


"Scanned E-Mail"     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: Her!
Date: Thu, 22 Feb 2001
From: KFE  [UK]

I see you were surfing through the night - you must be able to manage on very little sleep.  I very rarely get the opportunity to use the computer at home, my 16 year old son is on it until late, and I'm usually too tired to wait until he goes to bed.  It limits my ability to e-mail with some of my correspondents who like to write in very earthy terms, because I can't write to them from work in case the net nanny catches me out.  I've had a few e-mails caught by the I Gear software our IT people use, and live in fear of a visit from the Computer Gestapo... this sort of thing can get you the sack here.  As I understand it, I Gear scans a document for content and awards points for certain words, a score of 50 or more gets the document censored with "access denied" and a report sent to IT.  It is a bit over-sensitive as I've had one or two genuine "work" websites blocked for no apparent reason, one about offers on cars from Vauxhall (GM in the UK) was presumably blocked because the url had ppee in the string of characters, although IT claimed this was not a banned word in the I Gear dictionary of unacceptable words and claimed the page probably had some hidden content.  Seems unlikely to me that GM would do this unless one of their programmers was playing games with them.

It's mid-morning here and I guess I ought to do some work.


"Repainting & Computer Trouble"     [Top of page]

Date: Fri, 23 Feb 2001
From: MMH  [US]

Last Sunday I went to turn on my computer and it wouldn't start up.  Monday was a holiday in the US (President's Day).  Once upon a time we used to celebrate both Lincoln's and Washington's birthdays separately.  But someone thought that was a waste of time, so they chose to make it one day.  (About the most memorable thing about President's Day is it somehow became the day to buy washing machines, refrigerators and other large house appliances.)  Aabbb and I decided to use the long weekend to paint a room in our house.

On Friday we emptied the room of furniture and removed the wallpaper.  On Saturday we sanded off as much of the old paint as possible.  This is an old house and the plaster needed a few holes filled.  On Sunday we painted the primer onto the walls.  We decided that we wanted to paint the trim as well.  So on Monday we painted the walls and the trim.  We have been so happy with the result that we have not moved any furniture back into the room yet - we are admiring our fine handiwork.  This weekend we'll move everything back.

Almost everyone had Monday off from work.  I was lucky to find my computer repair guy in his shop when I called him.  He said if I hurried, I could drop it off that day.  I quickly drove to Seattle and gave him my computer.  It took him three days to get it running again.  Fortunately, almost all of my files are still intact and openable.

Now I am about a week behind schedule with my work.  Good thing I finished my large projects the previous week.  Still - there is a bit of work to catch up on today.

I was able to visit a few friends on my trip up to Seattle.  I had a good time and ate some delicious Japanese food for lunch.  On the home front, Aabbb's Grandmother fainted, again, in church.  She was taken to the hospital.  She only stayed a short while because they found nothing wrong with her.


"Risk Assessment & Visas"     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: Rushed...
Date: Fri, 23 Feb 2001  +0100
From: SAJ  [US / Holland]

Lyle, what will you do if you lose your job?  I've been fired twice (really three times, but two of the jobs were by the same boss so I count them as one).  I have also been caught up in the politics of work more times then I care to think about.  No matter how hard you try to stay out of it, in the end you get caught up in things one way or another.  Regardless of where you work, it's the same thing more or less - different place and different faces, and maybe even different issues, but fundamentally the same thing.  If you can live with the job itself and you feel the pay is worth what you are doing, then I would go to the boss and explain that the stress of the job has caused you to act in a way you normally wouldn't...  Try to work it out where you get on the good side of him once again.  At least then you'll have an income while you're looking for a better position.  After all, would not the stress of not working be more then the stress you have right now at that company?

Now I have some questions for you.  When I moved here, I had to have a sponsor and was not allowed to work.  If I am not mistaken, it is the same when someone moves to the States under the same conditions as I moved here.  So - when you moved to Japan, did you have trouble obtaining permission to work?  Are the laws different there?  Or can anyone just move there and go to work right away?  (Assuming they can find a job of course!)  What did you have to go through in the process of settling in?


The funny thing about doing things that could have gotten me fired is that in some cases, I made my position there more tenable!  My computer is one example.  Someone had mucked around with the settings in what seemed to be malicious intent - so I set up a BIOS password protect that is (as far as I know!) beyond the abilities of anyone at the office to get past.  The third in command basically ordered me to leave my computer unprotected with passwords so that anyone could use it.  I gave him a noncommittal answer that day, but then resolved to refuse to cancel the protective settings.  I wrote an e-mail saying that there were things sent to me for rewriting by the Prez that shouldn't be just sitting in an unprotected system waiting for unclassified eyes to find.....  He came around again after reading that and we had an argument about it, but when I said "I strongly feel that my computer should not be completely unprotected - but if you must be able to use it, how about if I tell only you the password?" - which had an amazing effect!  He immediately backed off with a semi-horrified look on his face!  I was a little surprised at the time, but it (in hindsight) makes sense.  If you're the only one (besides the main user) who has access to a computer with secrets in it, what happens if something leaks and the powers that be start up an investigation into how the information leaked?  It's much better not to hold the keys to a passageway to trouble!  In that office, it's more important to not make mistakes than it is to perform strongly.....

On top of other people having backed away from the attempt to use my computer, the demonstrable fact that they are unable to get into it (they tried!) seems to have given the Prez a feeling of security knowing that what he sends to me is viewable by only myself, and so he's able to send some things he was reluctant to send before.

That's a battle I seem to have won (you never know...), and I feel that people are trying not to shoot many arrows my way since they now know that I always fire something back.  In this situation, it doesn't matter if they are guaranteed victory in any confrontation, that victory often comes with a painful price, and so they're happier to leave me alone for the most part.  Remember - it's more important to not make mistakes - so having someone document your fiendish deeds in the written word is decidedly not an enjoyable prospect.  Which brings up the most important point in all of this:

Never exaggerate when writing fire-e-mail at work!  Be blunt on occasion, but never ever never never ever exaggerate in an attempt to strengthen your position, for you will only be shooting yourself in the feet... or a better analogy might be raising a cannon so that the cannonballs fly further away.  To a point, raising the cannon really does make the cannonball fly further, but if you overdo raising the cannon, the cannonball might well go up - up high... and then fall straight back down and land on your head!  On the other hand, so long as you don't exaggerate, you can stand by your words under practically any circumstances.

The other thing is that I perceived myself to be under attack, so I thought that I should fire the guns while the ship was still in the harbor - if I waited until I was out at sea, it would just be angry cannonballs splashing into a deep ocean.

Visas!  I have had my share of worries on this one!  From finding sponsors, guarantors, schools, jobs, and always watching the calendar - sweating about whether the next visa extension would be granted or refused, etc. etc.  It seems to me that the more easily and cheaply people are able to travel, the more difficult it is to legally emigrate to somewhere... which often only deters those who respect laws, and not those the laws are designed to stop.     [Top of page]

"Bring the Actor Back!!"     [Top of page]

Subject: Jazz
Date: Fri, 23 Feb 2001  +0530
From: IVJ  [India]

I've got something really funny to tell you.  There is a serial (soap) here in India.  It is about how the in-laws of a newly married girl treat her (bad of course).  Her husband is nice though and is unaware of what his wife has to put up with.  She is strong though.  Now - the funny part is that in one of the recent episodes, Mihir (the husband) dies.  Now some of the viewers who watch this serial have held strikes outside the house of the writer and the producer.  What they want is for the character to be brought back to life.  Isn't it funny how they are affected by a character in a soap!!!


There is a profound lesson to be learned from IVJ's letter I think.  How often are good actors believed and sincere, but poor actors disbelieved?  I would like to go on and on about this - but if I say anything more I'll end up talking about politicians, which is not a good/wise thing to do!

By the way - I suppose the blurbs below for software are irritating to some, but I feel like I should do what I can to support what I think is good software for certain applications - particularly since both of them are not so well known.  So... for those not interested, forgive the intrusion of the (free) advertising.

Sore dewa!

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon
Images Through Glass
Nishi-Shinjuku, Tokyo
April 28th, 2001
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