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"Letter-Letter 295"
May 1st, 2001

"Sailing Stormy Seas in a Leaky Ship"
"Expensive Rent"  by KCM
"End of the Ski Season" by FWR
"New IT Job"  by CPK
"February Blues"  by CLM
"What Do the Fashion Magazine's Say? - Beige!"
"What to Focus On....."  by TRR
"Short Story Due on Monday"  by SQP
"Calm Before Another Storm?"
"Stormy Romantic Seas....."  by Tanyle
"Harry Potter in Indonesia"  by RWD
"Books, Gasoline, & Food"  by Yo/Gr
"Too Much of a Good Thing"  by KCM
"From Korea"  by PKC
"Having Fun in Seattle"  by MMH
"Migraine Attack"  by Laf
"Technological Advances"  by HHE

"Sailing Stormy Seas in a Leaky Ship"     [Top of page]

There's a holiday in Japan called "Golden Week", which is in fact several one-day holidays that happen to fall within the same time frame, and so there's about a week off which has taken on the popular name of "Golden Week" (a phonetic translation from English - using English words written in katakana, which would be reverse translated - phonetically - as "Goruden Weeku").  This year the official holidays are April 30th, May 3rd, 4th, & 5th, so a lot of people have taken the 1st and 2nd off - giving them from April 30th through May 6th for a holiday.  Personally, I could have taken today and tomorrow off, but I am paid by the hour, and I simply can't afford not to get these two days on the time card.

One advantage to staying behind in Tokyo while half the population escapes Japan's largest mega-city, is that the trains are not very crowded.  If only the normal population of the city were always as it is now!  It's as though someone has taken the lid off of a pressure cooker.

Here at the office, probably about 40% of the employees are off - including one who is permanently off - the most recent ship jumper, a woman who quit after being here for a couple of years.  Most of the employees have been here for less than a year, with a few (myself included) who got on board this whacky ship just over a year ago.  Many of us are looking for another ship, but it is stormy seas we sail, and not everyone can swim well.....

A slow day... but with a couple of May Day marches, as there are every year - the sound filtering through my 12th floor window with the city echo I've grown used to hearing... I want to spend more time out in the open... where I can hear sound without it bouncing off of buildings.

"Expensive Rent"     [Top of page]

Subject: hey
Date: Sat, 24 Feb 2001  -0800
From: KCM  [US]

I went apartment hunting with my roommate yesterday.  We placed ourselves on some waiting lists.  The rents are going up next year, so much that it is causing me physical pain.  Right now a decent apartment within walking distance of campus is about $1500 for a two bedroom.  Next year, rents will be raised to $2000, not including utilities.  I am beginning to panic - how am I going to pay for everything?  This is ridiculous - it would be cheaper living in San Francisco.   I don't know why rents are being raised so high.....


"End of the Ski Season"     [Top of page]

Subject: RE: LL-288
Date: Sun, 25 Feb 2001
From: FWR

It's Sunday morning.  I feel very sad... usually I am at a ski slope teaching little ones or older ones to ski.  I feel like I've lost a friend this morning.  I knew that the ski season would end, but I am not ready.  To achieve the goal of certification to instruct was awesome.  I am so glad to have had the opportunity.  The people who instruct with me are wonderful, supportive, and fun - my skiing family.  It seems to be very windy outside.....  Soon I will have to go out and do some errands.


"New IT Job"     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: LL-288
Date: Sun, 25 Feb 2001  -0600
From: CPK  [US]

It's so intriguing reading about your work situation.  I wonder what keeps you in Japan, except for the tremendous feeling of purpose you must have, given your unique talent and knowledge of the language.  I hope you will find a job where you can feel stimulated and appreciated at the same time.  In the meantime, I hope you have a support system to help you hang in there if you lose your current job.

Here is a little about my husband and his good job fortune I thought I might share with you.

My husband is gifted with a photographic memory and ability to figure things out mechanically - an authentic jack of all trades.  He had no formal education after dropping out of high school to chase good times in the California sun (he's originally from Minnesota).  He became a father at the young age of 19 so he has two daughters, ages 16 and 17.  He is a wonderful, dedicated father (one of the attributes that attracted me to him in the first place).  He worked the past 11 years at an unrewarding "blue collar" job that was steady and sustained his family well, but he worked a horrible swing-shift in seven day cycles that was hard on his health and family life.  He had, for a very long time, longed to go to College to study computer science, but the swing shifts made that impossible.  He did take many classes online, however, and is proficient at some programming, and building PC's.  He just got a new job two weeks ago in IT!!!  It's a dream come true.  He works for a local telephone company and is learning many other aspects of that company including a television viewing service via regular phone lines.  He now works normal hours in the daytime on weekdays, and can finally get started on a formal education, as well as take classes paid for by the phone company.


"February Blues"     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: LL-288
Date: Sun, 25 Feb 2001
From: CLM  [US]

The month of February seems to be a big teaser... I wait for spring, but it is cold!  The tips of my spring bulbs are showing, the ground is slowly beginning to show as the snow melts... the trees have buds, the birds are back and hungry - they go through the bird feeder seeds in no time...  I long for warm days when I can shed some of my winter clothes and be outdoors digging in the soil.  February seems to take forever!  Well, maybe I will be complaining about March and all the rest of the months for one reason or another!  Good thing I am not employed, for then I would have something real to fuss about.....


"What Do the Fashion Magazine's Say? - Beige!"     [Top of page]
(May 2nd, 2001)

A year ago I suddenly saw women wearing pink wherever I went, and from about last week, I suddenly realized that there were a stunning number of women wearing beige - and a large percentage of those wearing a combination of a beige jacket with dark blue denim pants.  It's a nice combination for sure, but it begins to look strange when you see four strangers sitting side by side on the train all wearing the same style - as though it were a uniform.  What a great deal the fashion industry has!  Someone wants to sell some new clothes, so they design some junk, have a show with synthetic models walking around up on a platform as though they were androids from another planet, have friends who publish fashion magazines say that "This year's fashion is Beige!  -  Buy now!", and armies of women troop dutifully to the stores to lay down their cash for "the latest fashion".  I suppose the publishing industry is like that too?  If only I had friends in the media!  They could run some articles... like:

"This year's hot-seller is likely to be a fascinating little blue book called "The LL-Letters" - it was a limited publishing run, so place an order with your local bookstore early, or you could be in for a long wait".

And then people would be breaking down the doors of bookstores to get the hippest book of the year?  That would be very nice for me!  I could make a living at this!  Quit the day job - work on writing and editing full time - get through the backlog of letters to edit and soar on to new and fantastic things.  Yes... I think I like that idea!

Umm....... beige.......

Well - as I look out the window on a dramatically gray-lit city with a blue-gray and white sky above, I contemplate the next four days off and wonder what I will do with them!  There are no shortage of computer projects for sure, but life needs to be lived as well as worked!  What to do that doesn't cost money.......

"What to Focus On....."     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: hello!
Date: Sun, 25 Feb 2001  -0400
From: TRR  [Caribbean]

I'm still at school - I graduate this year... I could either further my studies (university, etc.) or look for a job!  I still find I'm young for a job, so I'll stick to studying!  However, I don't know what I want to focus on... I mean what field to go into.  But I guess for now I'll just see how I do with my exams coming up.

I'm 16 years old and I don't have a boy friend.  I've never had one and I'm not really looking for one now! lol...  I'm just trying to focus on school right now!

Here in Trinidad we have a long weekend and school reopens on Wednesday!  Have you ever heard about carnival?  It's a really big thing here in Trinidad!  A lot of tourists come down to join the festivities.

Anyway - I should go now!  Well, take care, have fun and try not to be stressed out!  Enjoy life! :)


"Short Story Due on Monday"     [Top of page]

Subject: Re:LL-288
Date: Sun, 25 Feb 2001  -0600
From: SQP

Sunday afternoons and Monday mornings are the worst times, especially when you've gotten no sleep and you have everything (plus some) due on Monday.  I was out baby-sitting until 12:30 last night, and Friday I didn't get home until ten at night, because a guest author came and did a reading at school.  I have a short story due on Monday, so I have to go now.  Talk to you soon.


"Calm Before Another Storm?"     [Top of page]
(2001/05/08  22:08  Nishi-Shinjuku)

Things have been pretty quiet in my corner of the office back by the emergency stairwell - but there is a tense feeling in the air, and by reading the company send-all e-mails with notices about this or that new regulation taking effect, I see that Mr. Uragi is doing a good job of making life that much less bearable for the poor souls who are unlucky enough to be sailing the same listing ship with him.  It's amazing really - how much power one manager can have to either make life better for everyone, or in Mr. Uragi's case, worse.  There was a message today about a new policy requiring people to submit weekly reports... this in addition to incessant e-mails about filling in time sheets.  I understand the need for detailed time sheets actually, as we are billing clients for our time after all, but the reports... I strongly suspect it's much more about Mr. Uragi trying to consolidate power than any real need for the overall good of the company.  While it has been quiet in the corner, I'm still being careful to leave an electronic trail when I can see someone has put me a potential position of being blamed for not doing my job.  I ended up sending an e-mail out today for that purpose after I had to fire questions (prosecuting attorney style) repeatedly at Ms. Shinyosezu in order to get the most basic information from her regarding an e-mail that she asked me to "proof" (rewrite).  And then when it became apparent that she was about to dump an unnecessarily heavy e-mail on a client for no better reason than she doesn't know how to resize .jpg files (which she was unwilling to have me help her with), I felt obliged to write the following e-mail to her (with a strategic BCC - this type of e-mail isn't worth much if it's sent to only one person).  In reading the letter, keep in mind that the client is from the US.

Dear Ms. Shinyosezu,

Regarding the heavy attachments you are about to send to Mr. Aabbb - if they are to be used for printing or some other application which requires the highest quality, then the heavy weight of the files is no problem.  However, if the purpose of sending the photos is simply to convey content, it is unprofessional and rude to send heavy photos when they could be very easily lightened.  Sending such overly heavy files to the client says the following to the receiver of those files:

1) The sender either doesn't care about wasting the receiver's time, and/or doesn't know enough about computers to properly manage files.

2) For whatever reason, the result of needlessly sending very heavy files is wasting the client's valuable Internet time.  And if the consulting company doesn't care about wasting the client's time, what does that say about the consulting company's time management abilities?

3) Considering the gap in real services offered by Japanese consulting agencies in comparison to US ones, this sort of thing looks glaringly unprofessional.

I'm not saying these things to make trouble, I'm saying them as I think it's in our and everyone in the company's best interests to skillfully utilize the technology at our fingertips.

Regarding lightening (resizing is the correct term actually) .jpg photos, it can very easily be done with the software the company has from ACD Systems.  I'd be happy to show you how if you'd like....


Lyle Saxon

I shouldn't have to send out e-mail like that, and in fact it bothers me that I am - but keep in mind that Ms. Shinyosezu has repeatedly lied to cover lightning storms from the Prez by saying that I was responsible for poorly written e-mail she sent out - when in fact the offending messages were ones that she sent out on her own without showing me.  Pointing dishonest fingers at me in an attempt to save their own skin is something all too common in that office!  The result?  I don't have to worry about making enemies, as most of the people have already made me one.  This is the advantage of being the outsider.  What can the group threaten me with?  Ostracization?  They've already done that!  So far, the more missiles I fire at people, the less they fire at me.  Whether they win in the end or not isn't the point - I've made it painfully clear that when someone lobs a missile at me, I fire one back, so they don't have a free target anymore.  In the case of the e-mail above, I've done two things.  Firstly, I've given the Prez ammunition to zap her with lighting bolts should he so desire (often he does - maybe the number one reason turnover is so high?), and secondly, if she tries the old "He told me it was ok!" ploy when there's a problem with an unhappy client, I can say "I tried to warn her, but she wouldn't listen to me - reference my e-mail dated May 8th, 2001".  And here is where it is vital that all such e-mails be sent to at least two sources.  As long as there are always additional sets of eyes viewing an e-mail, the recipient deleting it isn't making it disappear... it becomes a sort of public record.

............  The more I write, the more I feel like a very unpleasant person.  I think maybe I'm learning how to fight the office battles too well!  I better get out of that place before I forget how to be human!  One thing I will say in my defense - I never exaggerate the situations I write about.  It's my belief that while spoken lies may be potent weapons in verbal exchanges, the truth is the most powerful weapon of all in written form.     [Top of page]

"Stormy Romantic Seas....."     [Top of page]

Subject: from tanyle again...
Date: Sun, 25 Feb 2001  +0800
From: Tanyle  [Singapore]

If you remembered me, I wrote some time ago about a man that I liked...  A few months ago, in a late-night conversation we had, I asked if he had ever liked me.  He told me yes, but that it was a long time ago.  I thought just how long... about seven years ago.  "Well..." I sighed - "we can't be together now since you already have a girlfriend".

To my astonishment, he asked me "How can you be so sure?  Maybe, in the future, we'll be together again.  Nobody knows what will happen in the future."  That statement both brought me hope and made me disappointed.  Of course, it would be nice if we were together.  But I saw his statement as a way to lead me on, be it intentionally or unintentionally.  And it also indicated his doubts about his current relationship - a lack of effort to make a relationship last.  How could you rely on someone who would not even make an effort to make things work out in a relationship - through thick and thin?  Whatever, I left it at that, totally disappointed in him.  I have not contacted him since then.

Now... just a few weeks back, I went pubbing with friends.  I was feeling the effects of having mixed different kinds of alcohol, and was dancing with Aabbb.  All of a sudden, I was holding onto his shoulder and leaning on him.  I won't claim to be totally drunk, but I know that I felt weak and I found myself thinking "I'm tired, I'm really tired... I need him" as I held onto him.  It was quite a dramatic change for me - as I have never been this way before.  We ended up kissing... and I was oblivious to the music and the people around me.  At the back of my mind, someone else's face appeared as I was kissing Aabbb.....  I can't remember how I got home, but was told later that someone else got me home.  I was glad I didn't end up spending the night with Aabbb.

For me, it's the first time that I've kissed someone like that without having any special feelings for them.  I don't know how he felt after that, but for myself, I was - in a way - grateful for his responsiveness that night, for it seemed to be what I needed.  On the other hand, I did feel a little sorry that I had kissed him so casually.  As a woman, I would certainly feel hurt if my partner were kissing me without feeling.  However, for a man, he probably didn't feel anything at all.  I don't know.  Like people often say, a man can sleep with a woman at almost any time... while a woman generally doesn't without having at least some feelings for him.

I haven't met Aabbb since then... I did send him a note, but he hasn't responded so far.  Perhaps he has forgotten all about it, as men seem to do, and trashed my note.  Or he may be wondering if he should associate himself with a woman who misbehaves (the way I did) at pubs.  Or maybe he's a little embarrassed??...  (Well... I think being embarrassed would be the most unlikely answer for most men.)  I met one of his friends at a pub lately, and she was joking about my losing my sanity that night.  Whatever it is/was, I hope I will meet Aabbb again, but not in that state that I was in.  If I do kiss anyone again, I hope it's someone I really love. --

Tanyle     [Top of page]

"Harry Potter in Indonesia"     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: LL-288
Date: Mon, 26 Feb 2001  +0700
From: RWD  [Indonesia]

Hi, greetings from Indonesia.

I've read some of the Harry Potter books and I have found the story to be great - it makes you eager to read the next book.  Despite its being a very good book, it doesn't sell well in Indonesia.  Kids here are more into comics, even bigger kids.  Unfortunately, they give less of their attention to thick books full of words, such as Harry Potter.  That's the kids, and the parents aren't very far from them.  They are lazy to read books to their kids.  In fact, that very good tradition isn't our custom, only some (very few) parents have this kind of habit.  I'm very glad that my parents are in this minority.

Harry Potter attracts less attention here than Japanese comics like Crayon Shin-chan.  A lot of parents are against that little kid (the character), because of his overly precocious habits.  It's not that the show itself directly bothers grownups and bigger kids, but it's a bad influence on little kids, who copy things like that.  In the case of Shin-chan, that little brat has very bad habits.....


"Books, Gasoline, & Food"     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: LL-288
Date: Mon, 26 Feb 2001  -0800 (PST)
From: Yo/Gr  [US / Japan]

Harry Potter is quite popular here in Japan - all the kids I teach know about it.  Is it controversial??

Regarding someone complaining about gas prices in the US...  I pay about $3 per gallon here.

About overweight people - it's becoming a problem here in Japan too.  For some reason, it seems that the area I'm living in has a higher percentage of overweight people than in other areas of the country, but overall, the number of overweight people in the entire country is growing.  I hear its due to the switch to western foods (i.e. McD's and others).  I personally wonder if it has something to do with the fact that kids here don't seem to play outside, and instead spend their time at class and studying (or at least in class!).

I was in Tokyo a few weeks ago, but only for a weekend to attend a friend's wedding - which was an interesting affair.  I spent one day in city shock... Wow!  Things have changed in just two years!


"Too Much of a Good Thing"     [Top of page]

Subject: hihi
Date: Tue, 27 Feb 2001  -0800
From: KCM  [US]

Hi again.  I'm in a cheery mood, despite the bad mark I received on my Psych exam, because an old teacher just e-mailed me out of the blue.  I had just about given up on him ever contacting me, because even though I sent him plenty of letters, he almost never wrote me back.  He is pretty busy, what with being a father of two and teaching at Yale, etc., so it was a very pleasant surprise.

I just mailed an application to MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) to be a volunteer, probably on the weekends.  It seems really cool to think that I may actually meet an artist or attend gallery openings and just be surrounded by art.  Art makes me happy, especially post Romantic, post Realist art.

I guess I'm different from those who only seem to like Monet and Van Gogh, although I have to admit, that is one of my favorite periods, because the whole idea of what constitutes art was forced to be completely re-evaluated.  My favorite group from that period are the Surrealists.  They were nuts.

I was having a discussion with my roommate about modern art and she doesn't like it at all, because it doesn't take any "skill" to produce and it's too much about ideas.  I, however, like the fact that art is concept-driven, and just plain skill tends to deaden the work.  I mean, for example, Rembrandt is brilliant in terms of technique and skill, but the possibilities for discussing ideas are limited to only those areas.  And maybe class distinctions.., but that's about it.

In modern, post-modern, contemporary, whatever... art, the challenge is always the question: "Is it art?"  And it never gets answered, although that's part of the fun.

I'm actually kind of sick of Monet, even though I love his work.  I'm seeing it too much everywhere - on posters, coffee mugs, and pencils.  The same goes for Van Gogh, Picasso and the rest of the Major Artists.  It also disappoints me that I seldom see any good female artists' work around, besides Georgia O'Keefe.....


"From Korea"     [Top of page]

Subject: hi~~~
Date: Wed, 28 Feb 2001
From: PKC  [Korea]

It is nice that your company computer is working well.  I do think that your company should pay for the money you spent upgrading it however.

I go to Chin-ju tomorrow.  I have been living in the company dormitory for three years now.  I don't have a computer in my room, but can use one in the PC Room (which costs about a dollar per hour) or at home.  I could come home every weekend, but it's far enough away that it's not really practical to do so.....


"Having Fun in Seattle"     [Top of page]

Subject: Weekly Dose of MMH .03.02.01
Date: Fri, 02 Mar 2001  -0800
From: MMH  [US]

It's been quite a week!

On Monday I went to Costco during my lunch break to pick up some milk and bread, and I decided to have lunch there.  They only offer pizza slices and hot dogs, but I enjoy them because I so seldom have pizza and hot dogs at home.  Most of the time I eat alone at Costco - but even so, the seating is sometimes limited and you end up sitting very close the customers next to you.  As I sat down, I saw a man I had been talking to in line looking for a spot and waved to him to take the seat across from me.  It turns out that he works at the rail yard.  We were both very curious about what the other did for a living.  It turns out that we are both very happy with our jobs.  He told me that most people who work for the railroad enjoy the work and that there is very little turnover.  It was quite an enjoyable lunch.

On Wednesday, I drove up to the Graphic Artists Guild meeting with my good friend Ccddd.  He is a designer who works for a guitar manufacturer.  We were on the highway when the earthquake hit, but as we were going over a bridge where I have had my car sway with the wind before, I thought the little bit of rolling I felt was the wind kicking up.  We happening to be listening to the radio at the time so reports of the earthquake started coming in.

"I didn't feel anything" I told Ccddd.  "Yeah, me neither" Ccddd replied, "but it might explain all those people we saw pulled off to the side of the road back there."

So, we drove on into Seattle thinking that no great damage was done.  The radio reports were describing a few people and buildings having been shook, but nothing major.  Once we got to the restaurant though, we discovered that the earthquake had caused more damage than we had imagined.  The restaurant we were going to have our luncheon at is built on a pier, and didn't escape being damaged.  First the restaurant separated from the pier by a few inches - the cook told me that the kitchen fell about four inches and that all the dishes and glassware was broken inside.  There was a strong smell of gas and the line was shut down at the street.  Ccddd and I walked down and looked into the room where we would have met and saw that several light fixtures had fallen from the ceiling.  We hung out for a while waiting for others to show up, so we could tell them that the restaurant was closed and the meeting canceled.  While we were standing in the parking lot, one of the people I was expecting to see walked up with a lit cigarette.  I told her she might want to rethink the cigarette.  She asked why.  I pointed to her feet where there were large cracks in the pavements right next to the gas access port... which she took a look at and then hastily put out her cigarette.

Came home and the house only had a few small cracks in the wall.  No bad for an old house.  The place Aabbb works at, on the other hand, had many cracks and she went for a very exciting ride while her office furniture was tossed about.

On Thursday Aabbb stayed home because the buildings at the capital were being checked out to see if they were safe to enter.  She got a call and will be going back in tomorrow.  Traffic everywhere is a bit of a mess as roads and bridges are being examined.

The interesting thing is that only a few days before the earthquake, President Bush was considering removal of the fund which helps states retrofit their highways and bridges to strengthen them for the eventuality of an earthquake.  Since the earthquake in San Francisco a few years ago, the Northwest area has been very busy retrofitting the roads and bridges, and it appears to have paid off.  The damage done was minor compared to the San Francisco quake and a lot of people are saying it is due to all the retrofitting that was done since that time.

MMH      [Top of page]

"1966/1970"     [Top of page]
(2001/05/09  Somewhere in Tokyo)

At the Yotsuya Library near my office, they have a limited number of video tapes that can be borrowed, including a complete set of yearly news tapes from NHK, the state-run broadcasting organization here.  I've only borrowed two of them so far - 1966 and 1970.  There was an amazing difference between the two!  The 1966 tape was all in black and white and not edited very well, while the 1970 tape was all in color and much more professionally edited... it's hard to believe that only four years lie between those two tapes...

Of particular note on the 1966 tape were several airplane crashes that happened that year in Japan and also much commentary on the need for more traffic signals in response to the death of several children who had been hit by speeding cars/trucks on  busy roads.  It was interesting to see that, because now Japan has so many traffic lights, you could practically get to where you're going just as fast by walking!  That sounds like a gross exaggeration, but when I bought a refrigerator from a German friend here in Tokyo and he helped me move it across town by mini-truck - at one point - as we were creeping along in traffic, he casually got out of the truck and sauntered over to a drink machine on the sidewalk, bought a couple of drinks, and unhurriedly wandered back to the truck, which had (quite literally) only moved forward a few meters in the several minutes it took for him to take his walk!  Almost as if in imitation, there's an advertisement on TV now that shows a young couple stuck in a traffic jam in a car - the man grumbles that she's a bad navigator, so she gets steamed and steps out of the car - marching off in a huff as the man calls to her to "Wait!" - but it's too late it is, she's gone.  Next scene, she has returned to the car (which is naturally still stuck in traffic), and she cheerfully hands a couple of drinks through the car window.  In the last scene, the young couple is happily reunited in the car - the day saved by a can drink machine.  (Applause.)

I have cursed the incredible number of traffic lights in this country ever since I came here in 1984 - and now, suddenly, I am shown what set the incredible proliferation of traffic lights in motion.  On the other hand, I also read somewhere several years ago that policemen recommending traffic lights for intersections received kickbacks from the company that manufacturers them.... I have no idea if it's true.  Everyone's trying to make a living, hey?

But I wasn't intending to even write about 1966, so I better hurry and get to 1970 before I run out of writing time.

Aside from the much more contemporary-looking color, 1970 seemed to be a year with a lot of change for Japan.  The leading story in the hour-long program (a show broadcast at the end of 1970 it seems) was news about the Expo in Osaka, which was a huge success - with incredible numbers of people attending.  The commentator said the American exhibit was the most popular, due no doubt to the space exhibits following the 1969 moon landing.

Water and air pollution were prominently covered (much worse than now it seems!), showing incredibly polluted rivers and a very dirty Tokyo Bay.  There were shots of the mixed fashions of the day - both mini-skirts and very long dresses being worn by women walking on the weekend "Pedestrians' Paradise" (certain main streets being completely closed off to all vehicular traffic, and reserved exclusively for pedestrians for most of the day) which began that year as a partial answer to the problem of internal combustion engine exhaust - at least on the weekends you could go into central Tokyo and escape the fire-breathing machinery.

The first Boeing 747 was obtained by Japan Air Lines, the last steam locomotive to pass through Tokyo Station was shown side by side with a Shinkansen.  After showing a platform view of a huge crowd of photographers recording the event, they switched to an aerial view of the two trains simultaneously leaving Tokyo Station, and then, with the sound of the two trains tackily dubbed into the helicopter footage (by 2001 standards for sure - but even in 1970...) , and then overly cleverly showed (what else?) the Shinkansen pulling ahead of the steam powered train.

There were shots of stores in the US with shelves full of products from Japan, with many close up shots of labels saying "Made in Japan" as the commentator went on about trade friction with the US, showing the Prime Minister meeting with President Nixon.  There was talk of occupied Okinawa being returned to Japan, and footage of burned out American cars following a protest there.

The next tape?  I borrowed 1985 this time - the first full year I spent in Japan.  I wonder how old it will look.  It's sort of spooky when you look back on "old days" in a new country after ocean jumping.....  How could so much time have passed?  Where did the young guy in the mirror go?  Who stole him away and left an older guy in his place?  Dreams of time machines and eternal youth drift by on wistful days.....      [Top of page]

"Migraine Attack"     [Top of page]

Subject: Catching Up
Date: Sun, 04 Mar 2001 16:48:06
From: Laf  [US]

............  I am nibbling on one of my favorite snacks. You take cream cheese, chop (fairly small... almost dice) fresh chives, mix that into the cream cheese.  Then you spread the mixture on saltine crackers.  It isn't exactly gourmet - it's an acquired taste... but I absolutely love it.  I have my lovely cup of coffee to round out the snack.

Life here has been a little strained. I don't remember if I told you about the famous hospital visit.  So, here are the headlines of that story...

Three Sundays ago... I woke up at 3:00am with one of the nastiest migraines I had ever had.  I immediately took whatever medication I have here for that eventuality.  By noon, I knew I was in trouble.  It was simply getting worse.  By 2:00pm, I was in the hospital emergency room.  I had every bad symptom known to accompany severe migraines... and the pain was excruciating.  By the time I was seen, I was just barely conscious.  The doctor immediately gave me a huge shot of Demerol.  It had absolutely no affect.  Then they hooked me up to an intravenous drip of Demerol.  Five hours later, I was able to go home... still with the massive migraine but doped up to the point where I didn't care.  The next day I was in my doctor's office.  She diagnosed an infection in both ears, a throat infection, and a severe sinus infection.  The ears and sinus were acting in tandem to trigger a series of migraine attacks.  She put me on antibiotics, muscle relaxants and pain medication and confined me to home, where I stayed for a full week.  I was unable to get near the computer because the light from the monitor screen was enough to trigger another migraine.  Two weeks later, I am still fighting the ear infections and the sinus infection.  In fact, my doctor had me get an x-ray of my sinuses on Thursday.  Something about the ears and sinuses are triggering the cluster migraines.  The funny thing is that throughout both the ear infection and the sinus infection, I have had no earaches or sinus headaches.  I am only getting the migraines.  It is weird, but highly aggravating.  It has limited my computer time to work because I can only spend a short time in front of it.

Last weekend, we had to travel to St. Augustine, Florida [Founded by the Spanish in 1565 - the oldest city in the US].  It is about 350 miles north up the coast of the state.  Aabbb and I were inducted into a state committee for family readiness.  It is a volunteer position with the Florida National Guard.  We will be working with the National Guard units in south Florida to help them be prepared in case the units are ever activated in times of crisis.  The National Guard is called up here in the US whenever there is a natural catastrophe... like a hurricane, or to back-up the active army in efforts like Desert Storm.  It is a prestigious committee, but requires quite a lot of volunteer hours.  That is why we took it on as a team - so we can split the workload.

The class in flower arranging has been going marvelously.  I will be sorry to see it end in three weeks.  I am considering taking another nine weeks - just so I can learn to do a few more displays.  I have gotten pretty good at the ones I have learned so far.....

Laf      [Top of page]

"Technological Advances"     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: LL-289
Date: Tue, 6 Mar 2001  -0600
From: HHE  [US]

The piece you wrote about the Nikon FM-2 resonated with me, even though I have an old, but revered, Minolta (which is about like the FM-2).  Another reason it resonated is the ad that appeared when I went to pick up my e-mail.  It was for the Panasonic PalmCam digital camera (can store 1,500 images!) for only $495.  I guess I'm stuck in the 20th century, but I still can't imagine spending that much for a camera that I can't fiddle with, adjust, etc.  And yet, I love technological advances.  I don't know, I feel like I have one foot in the 40's and 50's and one here in 2001.  My mom lived from 1899 to 1994, and there were so many changes in her lifetime, I thought it was amazing.  The telephone became affordable, the airplane the television, man walks on the moon, etc., etc.  Then I think of my lifetime and the changes that have taken place and...... I don't want to continue that line.  I'm not ready to hit the silk yet.


(2001/05/10  17:33  Yotsuya)  Winding up at the office here - and hoping to leave right on time, as I'm scheduled to meet an e-friend from another part of Japan - a man from China who is a university student here.  He's in Tokyo for a few days for job interviews (he graduates next year).  We agreed to meet in the new Virgin Records store near the south exit of Shinjuku Station.  This will only be the... fourth time I've met someone in person that I originally met through the screen.

(21:00  Shinjuku Station)  I met the guy and we spent a couple of hours talking in the coffee shop of the new Shinjuku Virgin Records store that just opened a couple of weeks ago.  It was interesting talking to the guy, but there seemed to be a bit of a barrier between us - maybe because of the age difference, maybe because of the culture... I don't know, maybe it's just an entirely personal thing - after all, you don't automatically get along with everyone you meet.....

(2001/05/11  02:30 a.m.  Nishi-Shinjuku)  I've just finished going over this one - so I guess I'll stuff it into the wires.

Sore dewa!

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon
Images Through Glass
Nishi-Shinjuku, Tokyo
May 11th, 2001
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