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"Letter-Letter 298"
June 16th, 2001
"The Ship Analogy"
"Tour Guide for a Day"  by APP
"Catch-up Pressure"  by KCM
"Working in Bali"  by BLD
"Ready to Become a Balloon Pilot"  by MMH
"Singing"  by Laf
"Just About Enough"
"Thanks, But No Thanks - April 2001"
"Fewer Working Hours & A Wedding" by Laf
"If Only You Were a Smoker"  by KFE
"Gaining Weight"  by TWC
"Diet-Diet-Diet" by KFX
"After Two Years in the Trenches..."
"Flying Books"  by KCM
"European DVD"  by APR
"GrArGd & SeBePa"  by MMH
"In One Place - 27GB Backup"

"The Ship Analogy"     [Top of page]

I don't think I've made a particular habit of comparing things to ships in the past, but for some reason, I've been making one ship analogy after another since I started working at Jungle Warfare, Inc., and both a recognition of the analogy and a possible reason have occurred to me as I contemplate the company's upcoming move to a different building.  I've experienced the effect different buildings can have on people before (noticeable when the exact same group of people undergoes a radical change after moving to a new location), and so I've been looking at the building the JW office group is about to move to - and imagining how the new building will feel.  In so doing, it's occurred to me that the office I'm working in now is much like a ship - it's on the top floor, there is a large balcony that is almost like a ship's deck, and the office itself is mostly over the open space of the atrium (photos in MP-25), so figuratively and literally (sort of...) the office is floating up there above the ground.  It's a very unique (strange) building in a number of ways... the story being that it was originally built for an apparel company during the "bubble economy", with the first floor meant to be a showroom and the twelfth floor with its high domed ceiling with vertical skylights (now wastefully covered with a generic stark-white flat office ceiling, including banks of florescent lights) built that way for fashion shows, which were to make use of the fashionable outside balcony as well.....  Come to think of it, it's as if the building itself is unhappy at the misuse of the twelfth floor - something that has bothered me virtually every time I've looked up at those awful florescent lights and thought how nice the space could have been with the high domed ceiling and skylights letting in natural light.

There are many other factors involved though... such as the atrium with no ventilation save the emergency stairwell that acts as a chimney for that eleven story space and emits a very strange smell from the door on the twelfth floor when the wind is westward bound.  When the wind is headed east on the other hand, the exhaust fumes from the adjacent hotel that uses kerosene for their boiler (artificially cheaper than natural gas or electricity due to lower taxes) blow through the window at certain times of the day.  On top of all this, something a bit creepy - the area in general is famous for having had many cemeteries before... which is something I keep meaning to look into.  I want to know what was there, and it should only take a little research by looking at some old maps, but I keep postponing actually diving into it as a research project - I better hurry, or the company will have already moved before I know.....  I have witnessed a couple of humorous reactions from people there already though.  Late one evening just before Ms. Utezu quit the company last year, there was a group of five of us working overtime, so - as was the custom at the time - pizza and beer were ordered and as we ate the pizza, the conversation got around to the topic of working into the middle of the night and ending up being the last one out of the building, which led to Mr. Nasakenai saying that he hated waiting for the elevator and having to turn out the last light.  This prompted Ms. Utezu to start telling ghost stories!  And then something I hadn't expected - Mr. Nasakenai did a speed walk away from the pizza table and back to his desk with a nervous expression on his face.  It was one of those moments when the sight you see is too funny to laugh due to the brain saying "No - he's not serious... he is?  ......  He is!!", by which time it's too late to laugh, but the moment goes into stage-one memory, recallable for years after the fact as though it had happened the day before.....

The other ghost thing that came up was a time when I jokingly mentioned to Ms. Ahobaka that the office must be strange due to ghosts drifting around haunting the place.  I could be wrong about this, but it seemed at the time that she felt talking about ghosts that way was inviting bad luck.  Whatever she was thinking - she looked nervous.....  The point is, I've seen how just changing locations has changed a group of people before - for better or for worse.  In this case, the atmosphere in that office is so bad, I should think there's a better chance of things improving rather than getting worse, but you never know!  The new office is in a horizontally larger, but vertically smaller building, this time in the middle of the building, which is slightly newer, and built to be an office building in the first place, so it has a much more straightforward feel to it than the ship-building.  What I don't think I'm going to care for however, is that - aside from the Prez's office, Mr. Zangyo's office (who was recently given the title "COO"), and two meeting rooms, the entire office is one large space - where everyone can see everyone else.  Most of the offices I've seen in Tokyo are like that, but I don't like it!  I like at least a little bit of privacy!  Maybe things will get worse... shudder-shudder-shudder!!!      [Top of page]

"Tour Guide for a Day"     [Top of page]

Subject: Being a Tour Guide for a Day
Date: Mon, 09 Apr 2001
From: APP  [Australia]

My best friend and her husband own and operate buses for hire.  Her husband recently bought a new bus, and with it came a tour, so they asked me if I would come and play tour guide for the day.  Here's how it went.....

The trip was to the Southern Highlands - to a place called Bundanoon.  It's about a two and a half hour drive from Sydney.  Each year they turn their town into "Brigadoon" and even change the name on the railway station.  It is a big Scottish Festival and people come from all over the country to see it, sometimes as many as twenty-thousand people.  They start with a street parade of some twenty pipe bands, colourful floats and displays, marchers, and vintage cars all making their way to the grounds for the games.

After the bands have arrived, the first of the band displays for the day takes place.  With carefully maneuvered patterns of marchers, drum majors and heavenly sounds of the pipes reverberating around the glen, you don't have to be Scottish to feel the thrill of the occasion.  Then there's an official opening and a ceremonial toast with whisky, after which the bands retire and the games begin.

Events throughout the day were Scottish Country and Highland dancing, and Highland games allowing spectators to join in, like the Hay Toss - where you stand behind a type of high jump bar with a bale of hay on the end of a pitchfork and attempt to throw it as far over the bar as you can.  Then there's the Caber Toss - where you have to lift and throw a pole that seems not much smaller than a telephone pole.  If none of those things take your fancy, you could join in the Egg Throwing Competition or the Water Toss, the Haggis Hurling (but not with real haggis), or the Kilted Dash, a running race for males and females wearing a kilt or something tartan.  There are also over 100 food, souvenir and information stalls.

So, my job was to greet the passengers on board the bus, collect the money, prepare morning tea on the way, purchase their entrance tickets and then meet them again at the end of the day.  My day was from 7:00 a.m. till 7:00 p.m. and although I was very tired when I got home, I had a most enjoyable day.  My next job isn't till May - which suits me fine.  I think the next event is a Jazz Festival.


"Catch-up Pressure"     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: SpecificTopics?
Date: Mon, 09 Apr 2001  -0700
From: KCM  [US]

I am starving... nothing to eat since nine and I'm in the library lab, far from my dorm room...

I just discovered that if I declare a major in Chinese, I will have to write a senior thesis approximately 25 pages long.  Good thing I'm an English major, although by that time I will probably say that I cannot stand to write one more sentence.

Anyway, I've got lots of reading to catch up on and scholarships to apply for.  Can you believe it's only the second week and I'm already behind??  I wish it weren't true.

And I will be twenty in a week.  I'm still not used to the idea of being an adult and it's slightly freaking me out.  I'm way too immature.  My mother was already married at this age.  Heck, some of the people I know are already married.  Not that that's what I want, but there's a sort of pressure to catch up with everyone else.


I always resented older people telling me that I had lots of time, but that's what I feel like saying to KCM at twenty.  I mean... the average age for women to get married in Tokyo now is twenty-seven or twenty-eight I think (for men, it's 31 or something).  Twenty seems too early for marriage... but that's not what I thought when I was twenty.......

"Working in Bali"     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: Congratulations!
Date: Tue, 10 Apr 2001
From: BLD  [Indonesia]

Yes, I would also consider myself lucky to be able to work in Bali, however, I'm still concerned about my job... whether I will pass my three-month probation period or not.  Wish me luck!!

The weather here is really hot.  It's hotter than in Jakarta, or at least that's the way it seems.  However, I'm having so much fun living in Bali.  I get to experience and see different things.

Last weekend, I went to Sanur Beach to go canoeing with friends.  It was fun, and I only needed to pay Rp3,000 (40 cents US) to canoe for as long as I wanted.  I also went to Kuta beach to see the sunset.  It was so beautiful... before I went to Sanur Beach, I went to the Sukawati Art Market on my motorbike.  If you like shopping, you'd love the place.  There are many ethnic things sold for a very cheap price here, and you can often bargain with the shopkeepers.

I have to go now - I have to pick up my roommate.  I'll tell you more once I get to explore the 'real' Bali.

Carpe Diem,


.........  Living and working in Bali.....  Sputter-sputter, drool...  To imagine myself living in such a place makes my brain circuitry buzz... beautiful skies, beautiful ocean, beautiful sand.......

"Ready to Become a Balloon Pilot"     [Top of page]

Subject: Dose of MMH 04/14/01
Date: Fri, 13 Apr 2001  -0800
From: MMH  [US]

On Tuesday I had a job shadow come in.  A 'job shadow' is when a high school student comes and watches you do a day's work to see if they want to become involved in your profession.  I have a job shadow come in a couple of times during the year.  This one was a kid who was trying to decide on becoming a cartoonist or a balloon pilot.  I put him to work calling my mailing list and confirming addresses and contact names.  I then had him do the math on how much it would cost to live on his own and pay all of his own bills.  Next I taught him to do contract work.  He also watched me create some animation and work on some graphs.  At the end of it all I think he was ready to become a balloon pilot, but I did take him out to lunch -  and we had sushi.

On Thursday, I was finally able to return a favor to my good friend Bbccc.  About this time last year she loaned me her laptop for a business trip.  I was able to complete a huge job because of that, and it eventually led to Aabbb giving me a laptop for Christmas.  In exchange, I offered her a day's lesson in Illustration.  I set her to work on a lesson, and went off to lunch for a feast of sushi with her hubby Ccddd.

Aabbb and I ate out a couple of times as well.  Work is keeping her pretty busy...  We are both looking forward to the weekend when we can spend time in the yard.

Last weekend we went to a special event put on by the city.  The city wants people to use push lawn mowers or electric ones.  We bought a push lawn mower, which is why we went.  We saw a demonstration of an automatic lawn mower that was very impressive.  We were very close to buying one, but we already spent our outdoor budget getting the teak lawn furniture, so the automatic lawnmower will have to wait till next year.


"Singing"     [Top of page]

Subject: I Feel Good!!!!
Date: Tue, 17 Apr 2001
From: Laf  [US]

First, let me make this simple and heartfelt announcement.  I feel marvelous!!!  I had one minor headache last week.  It lasted about an hour, then went away.  Of course I worked at home all week.  I had little or no stress.  I accomplished everything I brought home to work on.  It was really refreshing to be able to work undisturbed or uninterrupted.  Anyway, the end result is that I had a good week and am feeling really like myself again for the first time in months.  That, according to my son and daughter, is like standing next to a live electrical wire that is fully charged and snapping with energy.  It feels great!  Of course now we have to deal with reality.  I went back to work on Monday.  I hope I can figure out what the real trigger to the headaches is.  I keep thinking that if I could just figure that out, I could do something about it.  Time will tell, I suppose.  I simply want to do whatever it takes to keep feeling like I do currently.  Actually, some good did come of the week off besides the rest and freedom from stress.  I had a meeting with the owner of the company, and we decided to adjust my hours.  I will be working nine and a half hours on Monday and Friday... our worst days.  Tuesday through Thursday, I will wok from 7am to 3:30pm.  I think this may have a good affect, because it will limit the stress three days a week and the worst days will be just before and just after a rest period.

We went out Friday night.  Our group was made up of our daughter Aabbb and her current man-friend Bbccc, our son Ccddd, his wife Ddeee and their daughters, my girlfriend, Eefff, and Ffggg and I.  We went to a local place that features karaoke on Friday nights.  Aabbb and I love to sing and together are as good as we each are individually.  It was so great.  Almost all of my friends who come in to sing and practice new material in front of an audience (or the ones like me who are between singing shows or groups) were there last night.  There were of course some people singing who get up after they have poured a significant amount of alcoholic courage into their systems.  The number of us who were doing some serious and fun stuff and were in shape to do so far outnumbered the others.  We rocked that place last night.  There was a little heavy metal, a little Ricky Martin, some country, some standards, and even some Elvis.  In short, we covered the spectrum.  Aabbb and I opened the night with duets on two songs from the Judds (fancy that, a mother and daughter doing a mother and daughter's song... we thought it worked).  We did "Grandpa... Tell me 'bout the Good Old Days" and "Mama, He's Crazy".  Everyone loved it.  Ffggg and the guys played darts.  It was a great night.  It was especially good because I really felt like being there.  I realized this week that I have not sung a song even in practice for an entire month.  That, I guess, is a good measure of how I have been feeling.

Well, we had Easter here Sunday.  We usually have an open house where anyone who knows us feels free to drop by for food and socializing.  All of the family is usually here by 10am.  I am usually cooking by 6am.  I usually candy a ham and cook one that isn't candied.  Ffggg planned to deep-fry a turkey.  After that, the remainder of the meal was contributed by other family and friends who dropped by.  I think we ended up with over 35 people here... at least 18 were children under 12.  If I tell you it was a loud happy day, believe it!  The greatest thing was that I was actually feeling up to it.  Of course the minute everyone left, Ffggg and I both sat down and fell asleep.  It had been a long day.

Laf      [Top of page]

"Just About Enough"     [Top of page]
(2001/06/18  22:30  Nishi-Shinjuku)

I went out for lunch with Mr. Lookingfor today... and we talked about the office and its cast of wacky characters as usual... and in the middle of it, I began to feel this great fatigue - and I realized that I am really tired of thinking about that place.  No surprise after all I've said in here I suppose, but the feeling today was that there is nothing interested to experience there anymore and I want to move on to something new.  The whole day was like that... with the mucked up text people sent me for rewriting up there on my screen irritating me as I reluctantly went over it rewriting 90% of the content.  By 17:30, I just couldn't do it any more, so I called it a day and passed the final 30 minutes until 18:00 reading news, etc.  Having forgotten my headphones didn't help I guess - I've gotten in the habit of listening to headphones much of the day as I work, and the music helps make the day go by faster.  (Tomorrow I'm going to take a Chuck Berry CD to listen to.)  And... what other reason am I tired?  Air pollution!  I've heard people from heavily polluted cities say before that air pollution makes you tired - I think it's true.....

"Thanks, But No Thanks - April 2001"     [Top of page]

I haven't done this for awhile, but here are another couple of refusal letters I've received in response to my resume.  I'm not sure why I find these letters interesting... I guess it's because virtually everyone in the chain is using computers, and all of us are basically just zapping off the same batch of electrons to multiple points... publishing basically.  I publish a resume that is sent to many company's and the companies publish a refusal letter that is sent to most of the resume publishers (including myself) who have sent them a copy of their resumes.  Everyone pats themselves on the back for being productive and being able to send out large numbers of letters all by themselves at low cost and with minimum time input.  Another thing that occurs to me is that after receiving probably hundreds of refusal letters over the years, I've come to see that 90% of them are basically the same letter!  It's so meaningless by now, the company's might as well cut the BS and just send a letter saying:

"We received hundreds of resume publications, and you're not the one lucky lottery winner today.  Better luck next time!"

Especially after watching the resume culling process at the JW office, I think that's about the way people should view the job hunt scene.  It's not much different than a lottery really... even if you win, often you lose.  I am probably lucky to have escaped the universally disrespected English teaching "profession", and yet I think of all the people leaving that company, and still when they advertise for a job, there are a bunch of resumes sent in from people looking for work.  The ones who are chosen invariably try equally hard to get out once they're in......

Anyway, here are the letters:

Subject: Re: Resume
Date: Thu, 18 Apr 2001
From: "Aabbb Embassy, Tokyo"

Dear Mr. Saxon

Thank you for applying for the position of part-time Public Affairs Officer which was advertised in the Japan Times in March. We apologize for the delay in responding to your application. We were surprised by the large number of applications, many from highly qualified people with relevant experience, so it has taken us some time to make a selection. We have now appointed someone.  Although your application was not successful, we would like you to know that we were impressed by your curriculum vitae and will hold it in case another vacancy should occur.

Yours sincerely

Ccddd Ddeee
for Ambassador

Subject: RE: Resume
Date: Fri, 19 Apr 2001
From: "Eefff Ffggg"

Dear Lyle,

Thank you for you interest in Bbccc.  We had a large number of high quality applicants, such as yourself, for the position on offer, and unfortunately it was impossible to interview everyone.  We regret to say that we have now completed our recruitment for this position.

We wish you the best of luck with your career,

best regards

Eefff Ffggg     [Top of page]

"Fewer Working Hours & A Wedding"     [Top of page]

Subject: Easing Into Summer
Date: Sun, 22 Apr 2001
From: Laf  [US]

Here it is, as always a mixed bag.  Aabbb has had a week.  He found another person to work for him who he believes will be excellent for the job, but for a couple of weeks he has to work twice as hard to get enough done to keep them both financially stable while he trains the guy.  So, he has been working way too many hours and that leads to injuries.  Aabbb managed to bang his head (hard enough to break the skin) twice this week.  Fortunately there was no need for stitches nor anything as severe as a concussion... just lots of blood and a rather annoyed Aabbb.  As for me, well, I can honestly say that I feel better than I have in months.  I have had only two relatively minor headache episodes in two week.  No major "Stop the world because I want off" headaches in over three weeks.  The result is that I feel much better.  I am very nearly myself again.  I hate taking medication that really knocks me out.  I like the sharp edge a person has when they are alert and medication free.

I did cut my hours a bit.  It wasn't a major change, but it has given me a little breathing room.  I work 7:00am to 5:30pm Monday and Friday.  Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, I work 7:00am to 3:30pm.  It doesn't sound like much.  Yes, I know it still adds ups to 41 and a half hours per week.  However, those three days that I leave two hours early give me some much needed rest.  I do have to admit that I tire more easily these days.  Still I feel better and that is all that matters.  At least I am no longer trying to work almost 50 hours per week.  That was pretty outrageous.

On Thursday, my niece got married.  She married a young man from Hungary.  He is a very likable person - he has worked very hard over the last two years to fit into the family... (and yes, we have been very welcoming).  They decided that since there was not a lot of family money, (my sister is divorced and has very little extra... she gets by) to get married at the courthouse in a civil ceremony.  These ceremonies are usually pretty stark and business like.  They do have a little chapel there to conduct the ceremony, but it really isn't awfully special.  Gghhh and her fiance Bbccc decided to dress up anyway.  He wore a black tuxedo and she bought a beautiful suit (one she could later wear to work).  We decided to make it as special as we could.  Instead of just the bridal couple, they were attended by 11 people, Bbccc's older brother and younger sister, and our group which comprised my mother, my sister, Gghhh's brother Hhiii, Aabbb (who gave away the bride) and I, our son Ccddd and his wife Ddeee, and our daughter Eefff and her manfriend Ffggg.  The people at the courthouse said they had never had a bridal party like ours.  I even made Gghhh a bridal basket to carry.  I didn't know she was wearing a cream suit, but something made me select a cream basket in which I arranged white and gold silk roses... even the surrounding leaves were of gold silk.  The basket turned out lovely.  We kept the people at the courthouse entertained while we waited for Gghhh's turn.  Then in the little chapel where a notary conducted the ceremony, we were so serious and loving that she burst into tears by the time she was finished.  She said she had never conducted a ceremony there that felt so special.  Then we all went to a restaurant for a meal.  Once again, in spite of having no time for pre-planning, we managed to make it special.  All in all, it was a great day and one filled with good memories for the bridal couple.  Their sterile courthouse wedding was turned into something very special complete with pictures and a video.

Yesterday was our National Airboat Association picnic.  All of those who shoot together are members because that is where our shooting range is located.  It was a great picnic, including lots of entertainment and activities for kids of all ages... including a rather archaic greased pole contest.  Now that was a unique kind of entertainment for all of us.  Then they had booths set up all over the area for people to sell crafts and such.  Yes, I also had a booth for selling my flower arrangements, and it went well - I sold a lot of them.  My prices seemed to be just about right - no one batted an eye.  If they wanted the arrangements, they paid.  I think that tells me that craft shows are going to be an excellent venue for me.  They had a live band there too.  They were pretty mediocre but it was fun.  Aabbb, without telling me first, volunteered me to sing with the band, which I did.  I did an old Patsy Cline number called "Walk In After Midnight" It went over well with the crowd, which wanted me to do more, but the band didn't know any of my stuff.  Actually the band didn't know anything after 1950.

Laf      [Top of page]

"If Only You Were a Smoker"     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: NotMany...
Date: Mon, 23 Apr 2001
From: KFE  [UK]

Thanks for the recent photos, I guess you're making maximum use of your new camera.  It is great to see places, even windows, described in your emails and a shot of you too, looking casual and relaxed.  I don't think I've ever heard of somebody having so much aggravation and inter-employee conflicts in an office before - maybe some of your problem is your downer on smokers.  I have to confess to having a weakness for the weed, and despite the shortness of breath and coughing when the weather is cold, there is a distinct office advantage to being a smoker.  In the smoking room, or back car park, depending on what your company provides, you get to hear all the latest gossip and rumours, make alliances with other smokers and manage to do the odd deal.  I find the lads from our IT section especially useful to know and a few favours get swapped.

I wonder what news you get of the UK in your media about our current little problem. We're told that the foreign media has been presenting the UK as being in turmoil with people falling down in the streets with foot and mouth disease and burning cattle and sheep all over the place.  Reality is that obviously people only rarely get this disease and mostly they're burying the carcasses on old airfields in the middle of nowhere or sending them to rendering plants.  The pyres that have been lit are right out in the country and the nearest most people come to them is on the TV news.  We're told the tourist trade had been badly affected and certainly meat had gone up in price, the Government is being blamed for not handling the crisis effectively and vacillating on whether to cull or inoculate, but life goes on and very few people in reality are affected by it at all.  A tragedy for the farmers but Brits are not too sympathetic to them anyway, the perception is that they've had it good for so long that "their time has come".  They got so many hand-outs from the EU for doing nothing that the public's sympathy is slow to go their way now they are really having a hard time.  They were struggling for quite a while before foot and mouth with a collapse in the value of livestock, so not much has changed for them, although it is said that they will be in line for some hefty compensation from the government for slaughtered animals, perhaps that's why their union is against inoculation.

So, contrary to what you may have heard, life goes on much the same as normal for the majority in of us in the UK.


"Gaining Weight"     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: LL-293
Date: Wed, 25 Apr 2001  -0400
From: TWC  [US]

I just had to comment about the weight issue.  I myself have gained weight.  This year has been a depressing year for many people in the US.  More and more women are taking their feelings to food instead of talking to someone.  I had been on 'predisone' for a long time, which is a valid reason for gaining weight, as it has been proven to have that effect.  Since I also stopped smoking, that was another thing - as I developed asthma and can't do too much exercise.  I wish I could lose about 40 pounds, it's just not easy... although I do watch what I eat.  I think a majority of overweight people are depressed.  What's one to do?  Think positive?


"Diet-Diet-Diet"     [Top of page]

Subject: response to Calories Etc.
Date: Wed, 25 Apr 2001
From: KFX  [US]

Diet diet diet,

It is amazing to me how many people are on diets.  For the longest time I was the type of person to say, "I don't diet, I eat whatever I want.  Anyway, you only live once."  Well, you do only live once, and as you start to feel older, whether you are or not, you start to realize that a good diet may be important.  At least that is how I am feeling.  I recently turned 30.  For the first time, the realization hit me that I am putting some miles on the old body, and yet I have done nothing for maintenance.

For the first time in my life I am trying a diet.  One I found interesting.  It is a blood typed diet.  I am A+ and according to this book I am a vegetarian.  Of all things!  Don't get me wrong, I love animals, I am actually one of those weirdoes who keeps too many animal companions (at least some people think so anyway).  But, to not taste the crisp charcoal-cooked cow meat... barbecued, tender, mouth watering pork ribs.  Not even a chicken nugget.  I am truly a believer of eat or be eaten.  You know, the circle of life, that sort of thing.  Now it does say fish are beneficial.  How is that?  If I shouldn't eat animals, how can fish be ok?  In any case, I am not a true vegetarian anyway, so I'll eat fish... hmm, probably catch it myself too.  Can't wait for opening day.....

Well that is all I have to say.  The stories of obesity must of triggered a typing bug.  (Does this count as exercise?).  Maybe this has given some insight to those who don't understand why American's are typically more obese than people in other countries.  Would someone eat a pork chop for me!


Vegetarian (by blood type only) in Washington State,


"After Two Years in the Trenches..."     [Top of page]

Things are the same at the Jungle-Warfare office... and I'm continuing to fire the e-mail guns.  Interestingly, I went to a photo exhibit put on by a former employee (Ms. Utezu), and at the opening party met another ex-employee of Prez Consulting (the JW office), who worked there three or four years ago.  As virtually no one outside of the top three people (and one older guy) has been in the company more than about a year and a half, I asked her how long she stayed in the trenches "About two years" was the reply.  So I mentioned how nobody seems to be able to put up with the battle longer than two years - and she said it was that way when she was there too.....  Aiyaaaaa....... nothing changes at the JW office!  (I've been there a year and five months now - am I nearing graduation time?)  But... while nothing changes regarding the revolving door (with smoking hinges - ha!), in day-to-day operations, no one really knows what will happen next, or even if the company will stay in business, so while I'm there I have to try and get some redeeming experience out of it.  With that line of thinking in mind, I fired off the following e-mail to top management today just before leaving for the weekend:

"Evolve or Perish"

There are some observations I would like to make about the company's computer situation - both the network as a whole and the individual use of each computer by its operator.  It's a rather complicated situation of which I'm by no means cognizant of every tiny detail.  That said, I daresay that some of the things I will be commenting on are deserving of serious thought.  The best situation would be that everything I have to say has already been taken into account and is about to be dealt with - however, considering the inevitably fallible nature of people, I presume each and every one of us has something we could teach the rest of us.

My observations:

The company's server is old and tired... and overused.  Too many people work directly from the server when they could (should) be working from files stored locally on their own computer's hard drive.  We have recently purchased a new server computer, but it is sitting unused over in the corner.  I'm sure it's only a question of time before it is integrated into the system (it could use extra hard drives and more memory), but time is wasting and in the current market where the technology level is rising as prices are falling, it's generally wasteful to buy early and then leave the new equipment unused for months at a time.

A positive note - the company network wiring is a bit hodgepodge - which has been professionally dealt with by ordering new wiring and hubs at the new office (Fantastic!).

A seemingly minor thing - at least a couple of people are using worn out keyboards.  In one case, there is a replacement ready... which simply needs to be plugged in.  In another case, if the company doesn't have a spare keyboard replacement, then one could very easily and cheaply be obtained (Yodobashi Camera, etc.).  As I mentioned in a memo today, I strongly feel that anyone who spends a significant amount of time every day utilizing a computer should have a keyboard in proper working order.  Sticking and malfunctioning keys reduce productivity and increase errors.

On a computer by computer, user by user basis, the company is in dire need of higher computer skills overall... this is an urgent matter that cannot be ignored.  As the consulting industry in Japan approaches the level of overseas consulting agencies, we will need to be more involved in assisting clients in the preparation of presentations - which must of course be created electronically.  In connection with this, not only do we need to improve our computer skills (each and every one of us), but the transfer of very large files must be more comprehensively taken into account.  We have a couple of computers with "CD burners" in them, and we have one MO drive, but we ought to also have a USB hard drive (quite inexpensive recently - only Y20,000 for 40GB), and at least one of any popular mass storage device (e.g. ZIP drive, etc.) so that when a client brings us a presentation they have constructed, we can accept the data in whatever form it comes in.  (The man from Aabbb Inc. asked me if he'd be able to give us material on ZIP disks - and while I think we technically have a ZIP drive somewhere, it was not readily available, and most of the staff knew/know nothing about it.)

As computer skills at Prez Consulting are not evenly spread around, I think it would be an excellent idea to have something like a "Computer Tips Newsletter", in which everyone in the company would be invited to participate by submitting something they either know and can share about computer operation, or something that they would like to do (which could be submitted anonymously) with their computer.  Someone like Mr. Ochitsuita and/or Mr. Hetakuso, who are reasonably proficient with computers and politically nonaffiliated, could edit the letter and send it to everyone.

I read an article just yesterday about companies drifting away from outsourcing and instead handling things like PR in-house.  Given the state of the economy, this must be an attractive proposition for many companies...  would it be too strong to say that all of us in the consulting industry must either evolve or perish?

LHS      [Top of page]

"Flying Books"     [Top of page]

Subject: hi
Date: Thu, 26 Apr 2001  -0700
From: KCM  [Us]

Hi!  I'm in-between classes and I don't really want to do my reading yet, so I decided to drop you a line.  I'm at a bad point  - too many papers and readings to do.  I have a modern Chinese history paper due on how and why Mao became a revolutionary, his views of China in the 1920s and 30s, and something else.  I am blank...  Then I have another paper for English class.  When will it end??

And then there's apartment hunting.  Is it standard procedure to quote a cheap rent, then later, when you call back, to jack up the price $200?  This is driving me crazy, because then I start to get paranoid about whether I've actually heard right or the manager is ripping me off.

I wish I had something to say, but I have a feeling I need to sort some things out in my head first.

I just got my computer last week, but there is no Ethernet card.  I called home to ask for it, telling my sister it was in the laptop and the cord is in the laptop bag.  "Where is your laptop bag?"  "What do you mean where is it?  It's where I left it, under the table."  "Well, it's not there."  "Not there?  I didn't move it or anything."  "Well, I saw it a few weeks ago, but I don't know where it is now.  Maybe someone put it away or something."  "So it just disappeared?"  "I guess.  Why don't you wait until next week so we can look for it?"

By this point I am screaming in my head that my whole life is one of waiting.  I'm so fed up with waiting... I may just head over to Best Buy and buy myself a new Ethernet card.  Realistically, I know I'm going to wait until Monday and then wait until the next week when my sister finds the bag and the cord and then forgets to mail it to me.

And then school will be over in two weeks.


Anyway, I should get back to reading.  Next on my list is "Heart of Darkness."  I'm not looking forward to it, because I began reading it once and I tried to throw it across the room.  The only thing was, the novel was in a fairly heavy anthology, so it didn't get very far.  I was frustrated because the plot did not move at all, even 15 pages into the story.

KCM      [Top of page]

"European DVD"     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: LL-294
Date: Sat, 28 Apr 2001  +0100
From: APR  [Portugal]

I read what you said about DVD movies.  You wanted to know how it is in Europe.  This is region-2 and it covers all Western Europe (I'm not sure if it also includes Eastern Europe).  Popular American movies, which are sold in most European countries - have up to ten different choices of subtitles along with dubbing in the most important languages.  There are really a lot of choices.  This is the main reason I would like to buy a DVD player.  Still, from my experience I don't think this works well as a language learning method.  Young people in Portugal are crazy about foreign films (95% of them American) which are almost always in English with Portuguese subtitles.  However, as a teacher, I have never noticed that my students have learned any English from watching those movies!


"GrArGd & SeBePa"     [Top of page]

Subject: Dose of MMH .04.27.01
Date: Fri, 27 Apr 2001  -0800
From: MMH  [US]

Last weekend was warm and sunny, so Aabbb and I did yard work all weekend.  The air filter on the lawn mower needs replacing - I have to order it because none of the stores carries this one in stock.  When I try to run the mower, the fuel runs too rich and the engine dies.  A couple of weeks ago, I gave my old lawnmower away.  Wonderful timing on my part.  Thankfully the push-mower Aabbb picked up a few weeks ago works fine.  (I needed to loose some weight anyway.)  They are predicting rain this weekend, so Aabbb and I did a little yard work last night to enjoy the sun while it was still around.

There was a Graphic Artists Guild luncheon on Wednesday.  It was great.  A huge crowd showed up and our presenter did a fantastic job.  I learned a lot about advance website language.  Old hat to those in the know, but for most in the room it was a clear presentation of things to come.  Before the meeting, I had another meeting with a friend of mine.  We went over some plans for his website.

I originally planned to car pool with a couple of other designers from Tacoma, but with the earlier meeting time, that didn’t work out.  I also saw several designers I've met over the years who were not members of the group.  I really need to get up to Seattle more often.

This week I was asked to be a judge for the Miss Seattle Beauty Pageant.  Aabbb told me that if I accepted, I could look forward to the painful removal of my fingernails.  So I tossed it past the board of the Guild, thinking one of them would want to do it.  Well, my head nearly ended up in a basket.  A little over a third of the group loved the idea (it would look cute on their resume), a third were firmly opposed (the sexist stereotype), and a third were firmly neutral (not wanting to offend either party).  Suddenly there was a debate!  The last thing I wanted to do was waste energy on fueling a debate, so I did my best to calm the waters.  Still, when the luncheon came, someone teased me that I show be wearing a sash that said "Guild Beauty Pageant King".  So, since my group wasn’t interested, I mentioned it to another group instead.  Maybe the photographers of Seattle see the whole thing differently.

I also mentioned it to a couple of my brothers, but the one who did something similar before thought that being a family man meant his wife would kill him if he did it again.  And the other, who plans for a political future, wisely declined.  Oh well.

I have a ton of work to catch up on.  Somehow I got nothing done yesterday, and I was late getting home on Wednesday due to traffic... so now there's a big pile of work on my desk.  Yikes!

MMH      [Top of page]

"In One Place - 27GB Backup"     [Top of page]
June 24th, 2001  Nishi-Shinjuku  21:36

It's been a fairly decent weekend I suppose.  I went to a barbecue held by Mr. ITMan (former employee at the JW office) that was held on the bank of the Arakawa River on Saturday.  I was only there for a couple of hours in the evening myself, but the all-day crowd consumed vast quantities of alcohol and were singing karaoke via an FM-microphone broadcasting through a car stereo.  Karaoke isn't something I'm very interested in... particularly done outside in parks!  Not liking it very much when other people sing outside, I can't get into it myself...  Whatever - it didn't bother me, it's just that... as I surveyed the scene, it still looked like a strange thing to be doing, even after all these years of getting used to it.....

Today... has been primarily a computer day.  Editing this letter on one computer while working to get all the software I've bought over the past five years onto a removable 40GB hard drive hooked up to another computer.  In pulling all the software I can find out of closets to get everything together, I'm fascinated/horrified at how much software I have!  All that money spent!!  All that frustration and lost sleep!!  It's probably a good idea to get it all together in one place, as it's so scattered about the apartment - if I don't get it backed up soon, some of it is bound to end up in the trash.  There are several things that I had forgotten I had, and a couple of things that I hadn't really taken a close look at before - specifically "Corel Professional Office 7j", which came out in 1995 or 1996 I think, but I bought new for a ridiculously cheap price (about Y1,000/$11 I think) last year when a store was clearing out old stock.  After experimenting with it at the time, I ended up reformatting the drive it was on and the software has been sleeping in my closet since then.  In poking around on disk #2 today though, I found sort of a treasure chest of images and sound files that might come in handy... or at least is an interesting collection to have.

I'm curious to know if other people are also backing up old software, or if they are just trashing it.  I think it's a good thing to hang on to, as new software is not always better than the old versions!  Also, if you have old machines, you absolutely need the old software, or the machine becomes basically just a piece of useless electronic junk.  Is anyone else out there backing up things on a removable hard drive?  So far, it's working really well, and I would recommend backing up everything this way.  I thought CD-ROM disks were great, but now that I have so many of them, I can't keep track of everything that way very well any more!  With 40GB though, everything fits in one place (I've used about 27GB of the drive so far).

The necessity of having old software for old machines, and the legal problems of giving away old software are something I want to discuss, but it's late, so it'll have to wait for another time.  It's going to be a busy week - the last week in the "ship building" before the company moves over to a different office.

Sore dewa!

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