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"Letter-Letter 299"
June 26th, 2001
"Just Before the Move"
"Better Car Than the Boss!"  by SAJ
"I Need a Break!  I Really Do!"  by PTJ
"All Right / Alright!" by KCM & LHS
"Fun With Computers..."
"Two Doses of MMH"  by MMH
"A Few Words From Trinidad"  by TRR
"Any Advice From Egypt?"  by CAI
"Another Battle Begins..."
"Not Always a Small World"  by RSM & LHS
"Openable Windows"  by CPK & LHS
"Do We Really Want to Poison Ourselves?"
"Low-Number Relationships & A Scare"  by KCM & LHS
"Life is Good, Etc."  by Yo/Gr
"Quick Hello From Adelaide"  by FHN
"It's Too Hot/Cold in Here!"  by HHE
"Conversation at the Hospital" by KCM
"What Happens Tomorrow?"

"Just Before the Move"     [Top of page]

A stolen moment - I look out the window at 19:27 and see the last light of the day lighting the dark clouds to the west over the high rises of Shinjuku.  It looks nice, but now I shut the window to block out the hot, steamy, polluted air, and get ready to go back to the reports I have to proof/rewrite.  There's something about some people's voices... Ms. Gaimen has a really nice voice - I imagine she may well have gotten her job as the Prez's secretary on the strength of her voice alone.  On the other end of the scale is Mr. Howlong, whose nasal voice is very unpleasant to listen to.  He is currently yakking away to Ms. Eigodekinu, so the headphones are back on... what would I do without headphones??  I borrowed three CD's from the library today and seem to have lucked out.  I didn't know any of them, but like all three so far.  I borrowed the following titles:

Belinda Carlisle - A Woman & A Man
Amy Grant - Behind the Eyes
Cesaria Evora - Cafe Atlantico

That last one is what I'm listening to right now.  I don't understand Spanish, so I have no idea what they are singing about, but it sounds good.  Actually, I like most kinds of music at one time or another - it's all a matter of timing.  At certain times I only want to hear one type of music.  That said, songs I like, I really like, and songs I hate, I really hate!  It's the same with voices, which are a sort of musical instrument after all.  Some sound nicer than others, and some are played better than others... well... back to work I had better go.....

"Better Car Than the Boss!"     [Top of page]

Subject: 30/04/01
Date: Mon, 30 Apr 2001  +0200
From: SAJ  [US / Holland]

Today was Queen's Day here in Holland.  750,000 went into Amsterdam, but many didn't make it all the way there... they were left standing at train stations because of pranks pulled on a couple of the trains.  It seems someone pulled the emergency stop on them - which ended up stopping most of the trains on the system while they investigated the cause.  I feel for all those people left standing on platforms waiting for trains and not being able to get to where they wanted to go.

I have so much to write but no time to do so right now.....


Subject: Re: AhYes!
Date: Fri, 04 May 2001  +0200
From: SAJ  [US / Holland]

What are you going to do on your long weekend?  Anything special?  Maybe because I still feel "new" here, doing nothing on weekends is not an option.  Too many places to go, things to see and food to taste!  Which is why the house is taking so very long to finish. ha ha  When I give Aabbb the option of going somewhere or working on the house, you can guess which one Aabbb goes for!


Aabbb likes his new job, and the one thing he was worried about (loss of freedom) ended up not being anything to worry about at all.  The company is very flexible, so if Aabbb needs to take a day off or go to work late in the morning, it's not a big deal.  There is no time card to punch, and as long as he puts in at least 40 hours a week, they don't care how he does it.  A funny thing is that when it came time for Aabbb to pick out his company car, he ended up with a better car then his boss!  (I'm sure his boss will make sure that changes when it is time for himself to get a new car. ha ha)  Also - the car Aabbb picked out was pretty basic and the company upgraded it with a lot of fancy gadgets... sort of like another bonus for him going to work for them.  Of course there was a catch for Aabbb to get such a nice car.  He'll have to keep it for four years instead of the normal three.  Aabbb realizes that if we had moved to the States he would have been making over double what he is now, but we both feel the cost of living would have also been more than it is for us here, so it evens out.  Maybe in time we will still move to the States with the company Aabbb is working for.  (They are a world-wide firm which is involved in mergers and acquisitions, etc.)

So... in the end, things have worked out fine.  The stress is gone and life is good at this time.

SAJ      [Top of page]

"I Need a Break!  I Really Do!"     [Top of page]

Subject: RE: LL-294
Date: Sun, 6 May 2001
From: PTJ  [Philippines]

This June, I"ll have been in the computer industry for three years.  I just got a hefty raise last month... bigger than last year's raise - but I"m not that happy about it...  I should be, I know, but I 'm on the verge of resigning from this company.  I've done a lot here, and at the same time, the company has given me a lot.  I've been able to financially support my family.  I've been to Taiwan and the US (mostly on business).  Should those rewards/opportunities/blessings(?) make me stay longer?  Of course politics in the workplace is one factor for wanting to resign, but I think that whatever company you work at, politics exist... to a greater or lessor extent.....

I need a break!  I really do!  The problem is, I really don't have any specific place in mind to go to, or anyone to take with me.  I would like to visit another country - just visit sights and enjoy the company of people I don't really know.  I just want to have fun, enjoy someone else's culture... take a break, figure things out.


"All Right / Alright!"     [Top of page]

Subject: hi
Date: Thu, 10 May 2001
From: KCM  [US]

I've been neglecting writing to people lately, mostly because I am still sick.  Well, I'm coughing all over the place and it just makes me feel gross.  It's not nearly as annoying as having a runny nose, but it just makes my head hurt and my chest feel like it's about to cave in.  So-called cough drops aren't really helping.  I think I'll boil myself some tea once I get back to my room.  Unfortunately I won't be able to escape the campus until 5:30.  It's a long long walk back.

Today I am convinced that I am the stupidest person in this school.  Everyone else seems to have something brilliant to say about whatever we're reading and I'm having trouble just constructing the plot.  Logically, I know I'm smart and that if I gave myself more time, I would be able to come to the same type of conclusions.  Or maybe better ones, I don't know.

Part of my problem is that I am so shy that it takes all my courage to raise my hand to say one word, even in an intimate setting.  I know that in my writing I come off as more outspoken than I actually am.  I don't know how to get over this handicap - the only way I've ever dealt with it is by writing, but now I need to actually talk.  It's affecting my grades and I make deals with myself to just raise my hand.  But I'm too hesitant and I lose my chances - other people finish my thoughts before I open my mouth.

I'm also having this ongoing argument with my roommate's, ahem, *friend* who claims that "alright" is a word.  I looked it up in the Oxford English Dictionary and he came back with the Webster's Collegiate or some such.  The thing is, he's an English minor who is very sure of himself - in other words, an arrogant &%$#&.  "Alright" is one of those pet peeves I have about grammar, having to correct many of my friends' papers - I've always been taught it was wrong.  So am I right?  Or is he?  I hope I'm right.


I generally don't like making one word out of what I think should be two, but this is one word I do like to use.  The two seem like different meanings to me... with "all right" meaning that everything is right and "alright" meaning that something is ok.  That's not a dictionary definition, but it's the way the words seem to me.  So... I've ended up adding "alright" to my spell-checker's dictionary.  The other thing that made me decide not to worry about it too much is a book I've been reading bit by bit over the past five years (it's too big to carry on the trains, and I rarely have time to read at home), which was written between 1859 and 1866.  ("Japan Through American Eyes - The Journal of Francis Hall - Kanagawa and Yokohama 1859 - 1866")  I've noticed that a lot of words that are written as one today, were written as separate words back then - such as "some one" instead of "someone" (I think... I'm giving that example from memory).  I think there's a general trend to put words that usually go together anyway into one compound word.  One that really irritates me for some reason though is "a lot" being written as "alot".  No matter how popular that might become, I think I'll always write it a "a lot".

About writing more skillfully than speaking.  I understand that one only too well!!!  And that's why e-mail is virtually the only way I can do battle at the jungle warfare office... the only way, but a way that they are not very good at.  They are mostly good liars, but being a good liar means being a good sophist, and sophistry is only really effective in verbal form.  Once you have the lies in writing, the situation can be pulled back towards the truth in a form that is not easily distorted with smoke and mirrors.     [Top of page]

"Fun With Computers..."     [Top of page]
(2001/06/29  3:20 a.m.  Nishi-Shinjuku)

It all began with an on-line article from PC Magazine about the low cost of memory.  I noticed that, in many cases, 133MHz 256MB boards were selling for the same price as 100MHz 256MB boards.  Since you can use 133MHz memory in a 100MHz machine, but you can't use 100MHz memory in a 133MHz machine, I slightly regretted having already bought 100MHz memory for my home computer.  Computers being what they are, that 133MHz memory thing stayed in mind (company computer...) and on Wednesday, I extended my lunch a little and went to Akihabara to see what memory was selling for locally.  I walked into the place where I've bought most of my memory boards, and after squeezing between people in the small and crowded store, I finally made my way to the glass case where the memory and CPU's are on display... and there it was in the glass case:  256MB PC133 CL3 memory for Y3,680.  Less than half the price I paid for the 256MB memory boards I bought several months ago!  At that price, I decided that even if the company refused to pay me for the upgrade, it was worth putting 512MB of memory in the computer I use all day every day, so I bought two for Y7,720 (including tax), and took the subway back to Yotsuya worrying slightly whether the boards would work in my machine.  I got back - pulled the two 128MB boards already in the machine - stuffed the 256MB boards in... and... Yes!!  512MB.

Next stage - like a gambling addict who has just won something, I got a "high-tech buzz" and thought I'd spread the joy a little.  First action - asking the guy who sits next to me, Mr. Ochitsuita, if he'd like to double his machine's memory with one of the 128MB boards I'd just pulled from my machine.  He did, and so I plugged one into his computer - upping the memory from 128MB to 256MB.  I then walked into the Prez's office with the other 128MB card and (after asking him if he had any e-mail that he needed me to write for him), asked if he'd like me to up his computer's memory.....

Prez:  The memory in my computer can be upgraded?
Me: Yes, easily.
Prez: How much memory does it have now?
Me: 128MB
Prez: What is the maximum memory it'll hold?
Me: 512MB
Prez: Really?
Me: Yes...
Prez: Then put the maximum in tomorrow, will you?
Me: Of course.....

So I walked back to my corner with the 128MB board I had intended to put in Prez's computer still in hand - looked over past Mr. Ochitsuita to Ms. Iroppoi and Ms. Piman, who are (were) both using computers with only 64MB in them, so I asked them if they'd like to double their memory... they enthusiastically said they would, so I pulled the 64MB card out of Ms. Iroppoi's computer and put in the 128MB card, and then added the 64MB card (from Ms. Iroppoi's computer) to Ms. Piman's machine to bring it up to 128MB as well.  So far, so good.  Happy me, Mr. Watanabe, Ms. Iroppoi, and Ms. Piman.  Next step, back to Akihabara after work to pick up two more 133MHz 256MB boards.  As I thought it would be best to test them before actually putting them in Prez's computer, I plugged them into my home computer - and they worked fine.  Contemplating the hassle of having to change them back, I thought "What the heck..." and left them in.  The next day I took the two 100MHz 256MB boards from my home machine and put them in Prez's machine, powered it up, and...  Nothing!!!  The power light was on, the mother board light was on, but there was no sign of life from the keyboard or monitor.  I began to sweat (literally) and called Dell Tech Support under the scowling countenance of the Prez.  They said that it likely had nothing to do with the memory, but that it would need servicing, so I hung up and tried to explain to Prez that I had already tested those memory boards (for several months actually...), and that upgrading memory was not a dangerous operation.....  There must be some other problem with his computer that came up coincidentally.....

Problem.  Prez doesn't understand computers - at all.  Just last week I tried (unsuccessfully) to explain .zip files and file compression in general.  I've tried repeatedly over the past year to get the idea across to him that he doesn't need to double click on Internet links... to no avail.  He double clicks away, and then wonders why he often ends up with double windows.  So, to him, I imagine that the computer is a more of a magic box than a machine that he comprehends.  By extension then, someone who can make changes to the magic box must of course be a magician.  So... when the magic box was touched by Magician-Lyle and it stopped working - well - the only conclusion is that Magician-Lyle performed some bad magic on it.  Irritatingly, Prez told me "You mean well, but you don't understand computers."

Grrrrr......  I let that go ("Speak for yourself!" I might have said.....) and explained that Dell would be taking the computer away for a week, but that I'd put his hard drive into another computer so that he'd have his e-mail and data back within the hour.  And that's what I did - that other machine being Mr. Karaoke's old computer, which was being partially used by Ms. Kakoii.  Problem was, the Dimension C model has the hard drive under the CD-ROM and floppy drive, so you have to remove several pieces of the machine to access it.  As I disassembled the two computers to perform the hard drive swop, I kept muttering to myself "If it ain't broke, don't fix it...  If it ain't broke, don't fix it.....".  Ms. Kakoii has been having intermittent trouble with the two machines incidentally, and working on one and then the other, so I told her that it was an emergency and that I had to (Had To/Must/No Choice) use one of the machines to get the Prez back his e-mail.  She looked unhappy, so I told her that she would get a working second computer back with the same hard drive and all the files intact.

"All's well that ends well" you could almost say, as I got Prez back in business with another magic box - all files and settings intact, and with the two new 256MB memory boards installed.  The thing that saved face for me, but is a problem for the company, is that we've been having similar problems with other Dimension C's... strange problems like what happened to me.  The computer will suddenly stop working.  A shake, whack, or poke here and there of the internal components will bring it suddenly back to life.  In Prez's computer's case, his computer still didn't work with another hard drive (he was back on-line with his hard drive in another computer), but after repeatedly trying it, and then letting it sit and cool down for thirty minutes, suddenly it started working again... but was still very sluggish, so I decided to let the servicing order stand.

Next problem - getting paid.  I filled out the proper form and went to accounting, where I was told "Someone needs to sign this - since it's computer related, get Mr. Uragi to sign it".  So I chased after Mr. Uragi who ignored my first two calls... and then when I cornered him by the refrigerator, he took the paper, looked at it - handed it back and nastily said that it was no concern of his.  ..........  I already know that Mr. Uragi is a nasty person ("uragi" I took from "uragiri" which means "betrayal" & "treachery" by the way), but still it is very unpleasant to be treated that way.  I went over to Mr. Hetakuso (who is turning out to be a very nice person) and he got a tired/exasperated look on his face when I explained the situation....  He then went with me back to accounting, where he explained the situation again, whereupon Ms. Keiri said to Mr. Onisan "Why don't you sign it for him?", which he did, and so I got my cash back.     [Top of page]

"Two Doses of MMH"     [Top of page]

Subject: Dose of MM .05.15.01
Date: Mon, 14 May 2001  -0800
From: MMH  [US]

It is possible to have a friend who is also a client.  The key thing is to always make sure that your business relationship never falters.  I have a client who goes way back with me and I am a bit proud of the fact that we are good friends as well.

Well, Aabbb called and we were going over this logo.  This would be the tenth time we had gone over this logo and we were both getting tired of working on it.  The problem was this one blend.  It had to be perfect.  I would do a change, give it to Aabbb, who would give it to his client, who in turn showed it to his boss (a new guy) and the boss would say something like, "Not there yet."  Anyway, Aabbb called and asked, "Can you go out of town?"  Well, Bbccc was already going out of town on one of her business trips so I told him all I had to do was get home before she did to pick her up at the airport.

The plan was that I would take the dog to the kennel and head up Aabbb's way.  There we would test that my laptop could plug into his large monitor and we would drive over to Leavenworth (about three hours) and stay the night at his summer house.  From there we would go the next morning to the client (30 minutes away) and work the logo in front of him till it was perfect... then hotfoot it back home so that the both of us might still be able to get some work done that day.

This meant that I had to cancel my dinner plans with Ccddd.  We were going to go over a client’s website while we ate a pizza together at his place.  Ccddd was very forgiving of my having to cancel.  Part of the fun of being a Graphic Designer is that you never know what the next day might bring.  Still, I will have to do something to make it up to him.

Driving to Leavenworth was fun.  We kept seeing deer everywhere, even on the main highway.  I think we must have seen about two dozen on the way.  At one point, one nearly jumped out into road in front of us.  But the deer saw Aabbb, and Aabbb saw the deer, so catastrophe was avoided.

We got to town later than we expected.  Went to one place for dinner and all they had left was appetizers.  Thinking that we could still get a meal somewhere else we thanked the patron and headed off.  Well, we must have tried three other places in quick succession, all of which were closed.  So we went back to the first place and the front doors were locked.  I suggested we try the doors on the other side of the building and there was one still open.  The patron smiled at us.  He had known that we would not find another place open so late, and decided to have some fun with us.  We had a dinner of stuffed mushrooms and a shrimp, tomato, placenta and pesto pizza which I thought was delicious.

We got to the summer house late as well, and decided the best thing to do was to hit the hay right away.  The summer house is rented out most of the time to visitors, and there were some due the coming weekend, so we did our best not to make a mess or leave any sign that we had even stayed the night.

Almost everything went as planned when we saw the client the next morning.  We did the alterations while a group did corrections.  Versions were saved and finally, finally!  They  narrowed it down to two.  I tried to hook up to their computer, but I was not aware that you need a different Ethernet cable to connect from machine to machine (at home I connect from machine to machine through a hub).  [Straight cable and cross cable.]  So, we drove over to the printers and were able to successfully plug into their system.  We transferred the files and then printed off the final proofs.  After delivering the proofs to the client, we then headed off home.

Aabbb and I transferred my bags to my car from his, along with a gift toy car he picked up for me along the way.  We also got his computer equipment back together again.  I then hit the road and worked my way through rush hour traffic in time to meet Bbccc at her arrival gate.  Leaving the airport was no big deal, but there was a traffic jam heading into Tacoma.  So, we decided to pull off and eat dinner at the Fife Bar and Grill.  Their food is far better than you might think.  I enjoyed a delicious pork chop with bacon relish and Bbccc had the veal chop with morel mushroom sauce.


Subject: Dose of MMH .05.15.01
Date: Mon, 14 May 2001  -0800
From: MMH  [US]


I spent Tuesday in Seattle visiting clients and friends.  The fellow I had lunch with I have known since my early days in this business.  He now works for a software company.  Finally, I had a chance to have a long overdue promised lunch with him.  I wouldn't mind working where he works - too bad they aren't located in Tacoma.  I am sure that you have all heard stories of how frustrated technical support staff can get with nearly brain dead clients calling up and asking such stunners as "Do I have to open the application to use it?" or "I keep clicking the mouse and nothing happens" (turns out the mouse is not plugged in.) etc.  Well, this company realized that their support staff needed an outlet for their frustration or else they might blow a circuit or something.  Their solution was to set up a professional punching bag with a couple pairs of boxing gloves, so that the staff could pound out their frustrations physically without taking it out on the next brain-dead client verbally.  Good idea I thought.  Lunch was great, too bad it was raining a bit too much to eat outside.

MMH     [Top of page]

"A Few Words From Trinidad"     [Top of page]

Subject: hey
Date: Mon, 14 May 2001
From: TRR  [Trinidad]

Hope all is well with you!  I'm ok these days... I'm supposed to be hitting the books now but just decided to take a little break!

Well - here in Trinidad the weather is always sunny and sometimes it's rainy, but it's mostly hot!  But that's not so bad because it's also breezy - so it keeps you cool.....

Well... I graduated from school on Wednesday.  I only have to go back when I have exams, which will be finished by the end of June!  I can't wait to finish my exams!!

Well keep good!  Nothing much going on down here so... I guess I'll talk to you later!


"Any Advice From Egypt?"     [Top of page]

Subject: Greetings!
Date: Wed, 16 May 2001
From: CAI  [US]

I was wondering if anyone from Egypt could give me advice... the reason I ask is that there is a very strong possibility of my visiting there with my parents and youngest sister.

We will be staying in Cairo for three nights and then the fourth day will board a cruise ship to go on the Nile for six days and seven nights, and lastly, three nights and four days will be spent by the red sea.

I was just wondering if anybody has any information on these areas.  What sites we should see, etc.  We like museums, hiking, looking at monuments, etc.  It will be half cultural and half recreation.


"Another Battle Begins..."     [Top of page]
(2001/06/29  23:11  Nishi-Shinjuku)

I walked to the station this evening with a heavy feeling.  The feeling was one of being overwhelmed with bad weather... but now that I've been home for a bit, I'm unwinding and seeing things more clearly.  It's something I've been seeing on and off for some time now, but it's becoming rather clear.  It's like this:  What do you do when you want to lead a group of people, but you have very little to offer them?  If you're unscrupulous and a lowlife, you look for a target, point to the target and start loudly whispering "There's the enemy!  All of our problems are because of him/her!".  It wouldn't work if everyone had more backbone and made better use of their own perceptive powers, but everyone not being clever, many will fall for this trick.  And thus it seems to be at Jungle Warfare, Inc.  Mr. Uragi has little to offer the company.  His computer skills are limited, his work experience is limited for the industry he's working in, and when he first started working there, no one paid any attention to him.  I've personally witnessed him being rude to clients (who have since canceled their contracts with Jungle Warfare, Inc.), and the proposals he was in charge of failed to snare any new clients.  But... his political jungle fighting is fierce.  As it stands to date, his solid camp consists of:

Mr. Uragi (himself)
Ms. Eigodekinu
Mr. Howlong
Ms. Hone

And to a lessor extent, Ms. Kakoii.  The hopeful thing is that I seem to detect a few other people who were decidedly unfriendly to me last year acting nicer this year, and who are also seemingly not enamored of Mr. Uragi themselves.  I'm tired of thinking of that whacky place, but I suppose the only thing to do is to fight evil while I look for a better job!

Upcoming battles... let's see.....  According to the floor chart that I saw today - there's the printer that someone (I wonder who...) decided to put on a desk next to where I'll be sitting, instead of with the other printers.  It's a rather noisy machine, and there is no good reason for it to be on a desk in the middle of the office next to my desk.., so I'll have to fight that.  And then there's the spray glue that I hear they are planning to continue to use in spite of not being able to open the windows in the new place.  I don't think breathing glue is healthy.....  About the printer - hold on a second, I'm going to write a short e-mail to Mr. Hetakuso stating that I'm against that bit of foolishness.  Best to get that on the record before day one.

(12:35 a.m.)  Done!  I wrote and sent the following letter:

Mr. Hetakuso
cc: Mr. Prez

Otsukaresama desu!  By the time you read this, I'm sure you will be quite tired!  Allow me to take this opportunity to say that I think you are a very definite plus for the company.  Always polite and professional, and always doing a good job it seems.

Now... I've been thinking about the floor plan that I saw, and the fact that one of the printers will be put on the desk next to where I'm to sit.  My first reaction was that it would be convenient for me, but the more I think about it, the more the prospect of having a noisy printer growling away right next to me all day, day after day, week after week, month after month... has me wondering why a printer in a 21st century office is not away from the desks where it belongs, but is put right next to someone.  This is very strange.  And so, I have to ask you - was it Mr. Uragi's idea?  Strange ideas often come from strange men - and he's as strange as they come, and very bad for the company!  Since he joined the company, clients have been leaving, and apparently the presentations he's given have failed - certainly that's the case with Ccddd, Inc.

But I suppose it's not my business to comment on the way Mr. Uragi is running the company into the ground.  It is however very much my business to protest a bit of foolishness that will hinder me in doing my job.  If Mr. Uragi wants to destroy Prez Consulting, it's not my roll at the company to stop him, but the very least I can do is try to do a good job myself, and as the working conditions affect that, I am morally in the right to comment here.  I am confident this latest bit of foolishness was not your idea, and that you may not have any say in righting wrongs like this, but as men of conscience, we should not ignore the truth for the sake of filthy stinking dirty politics which serves no one but the perpetrator and his drones.



"Not Always a Small World"     [Top of page]

Subject: Iranian Style
Date: Mon, 14 May 2001  +0430
From: RSM  [Tehran]

There's something ironic about the Internet... which is known for bringing people closer - but in my case - being marked as an Iranian tends to keep me out of the game.  I work as a mechanical engineer and have a regular nine to five job, but I do editorial work at a local HVAC magazine to keep up with expenses.  I do editing work at home on my own PC.  I write, translate, interview - and fish out advertisers from all over the world.

One company I contacted in the US responded to my business letter this way:

"It's too bad that you folks took our embassy people hostage some years ago and thus made yourselves unavailable to do future business.  But you did."



RSM goes on to say that he'll continue to fish for business, but on another continent.  It reminds me of a letter I got (in 1979) from a company in Washington State in response to a resume I sent them - they said something like: "We wouldn't even remotely consider hiring someone from California to wash our windows, let along represent our company."  It was unsigned and in a plain envelope with no return address, so whoever sent it didn't have the backbone to stand behind their words.  Just one dimwit, but it's amazing how I still have a little bit of an image of there being a lot of xenophobic people north of California.  So... one would wish that people would refrain from bending over backwards to be nasty to people - they only succeed in denigrating themselves and the land they live in.  Like my office battles, if I didn't have access to others' stories and if I didn't know better myself, I could end up generalizing about the land I live in based on the war zone in Yotsuya.....

"Openable Windows"     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: MP-28 "Looking Up"
Date: Wed, 16 May 2001  -0500
From: CPK  [US]

Thanks again for the photos.  I am surprised that the windows open in these high rise buildings.  I don't believe that is very common in America.  Do many people jump out (suicide)?  Kind of a morbid question, but I just figured the reason none of the windows are made to open in American high rise buildings is because they don't want people exiting the building that way.  I suppose other reasons could include something to do with air circulation, etc.....

I went to a wine tasting in Minneapolis.  I don't get the opportunity to go to downtown Minneapolis very often and always consider it a real treat!  Everyone else I know complains about the traffic, crowds, parking.  Not me!  I love it all.  I'm really a city girl at heart, which may be one of the reasons I find your city photos and descriptions interesting.  The wine tasting was put on by a liquor distributor.  It's like a big trade show, with people from around the world representing products which are distributed by this company.  The event was held at the Minneapolis Club, which was like something out of an old movie - in amidst all the modern high-rises is this wonderful vintage building full of the richest furnishings and artwork.  The people that go there are stuffy, rich snobs never without tie and coat.


The two reasons I've always figured that you can't open the windows in modern high rises - is that if something is dropped onto someone walking below, the company has a huge legal problem on their hands, and then there's the cost of heating/cooling a huge building.  If the windows can be opened, that's warm/cool air out the window - literally - and so they increasingly make buildings sealed, and then they can control what percentage of "fresh" (outside) air is allowed into the recirculating air in the building.  I read an article a few months ago about "sick buildings" where the air is so bad it makes the people working in the buildings literally ill.

Speaking of which - it's time for another e-mail to the company.  The fools have been using this spray glue to stick cut-out newspaper/magazine articles onto A4 sheets of paper which have translated summaries.  In the old building, since the windows could be opened, it was sort of tolerable... but in the new building, where the windows cannot be opened, the insane act of regularly spraying poison into the air should be stopped, and must be fought against - from day one, and so I've got to get an e-mail about that off to everyone before going into the new office for the first time tomorrow morning.

Ah!  There's one more reason for openable windows in the medium sized buildings that have them however - and that's for easy window washing!  While a lot of 8-12 story buildings in Japan have openable windows, the 40+ floor ones never do.  (I think the tallest building in earthquake prone Japan is 60F.)     [Top of page]

"Do We Really Want to Poison Ourselves?"     [Top of page]
(11:57 p.m.  July 1st, 2001  Nishi-Shinjuku)

I just sent the following e-mail to everyone at Jungle Warfare, Inc. regarding this horrible spray-glue they've been using there... and are apparently planning to continue using.....

Good morning!

I just sent a brief e-mail to everyone in Japanese with a couple of the warning sentences as they appear on the cans of spray glue that we've been gradually poisoning ourselves with.  Even in the old building, opening one window as we sprayed poison into the air was of questionable effect in removing the poison before it entered our lungs.  In the new building, in which the windows don't open and which has a recirculating air heating/cooling system, it is, quite frankly, insane to even contemplate the continued use of dangerous spray chemicals that even the manufacturer warns against using in enclosed spaces without very good ventilation.  I've heard that the spray-glue saves time - and no doubt it does, but selling our health down the river for a few minutes of time is madness!

From looking at the can, the substance that seems to be the most dangerous is "hexane", which I'm currently looking into.  So far I've come up with this:

hexane n.
any of five isomeric hydrocarbons having the formula C6H14, of the alkane series, some of which are obtained from petroleum: used as solvents and chemical intermediates and in fuels.

"Poisoning with industrial chemicals occurs most often by either percutaneous or inhalation routes."

"Organic compounds
Depression of the central nervous system is a common effect of most hydrocarbons (Table 2). Examples of common hydrocarbons include gasoline, toluene, and heptanes; n-hexane; and benzene. The hydrocarbons are lipid-soluble and dissolve in the membrane of nerve cells in the brain, perturbing their function. Depression, such as drowsiness, occurs as a result. In addition, many of the hydrocarbons sensitize the heart to fibrillation by epinephrine. The hydrocarbon n-hexane also causes damage to peripheral nerves. Benzene is toxic to organs like the bone marrow that form blood cells and can lead to the production of leukemia."

It is the right choice to discontinue the use of this hazardous material... don't you agree?

LHS      [Top of page]

"Low-Number Relationships & A Scare"     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: Preview
Date: Thu, 17 May 2001
From: KCM  [US]

I'd like to add that I read/scanned an interview with the show's [previous letter] main actors who complained about Asian audiences being too critical of Asian American works, that it's enough just to be seen.....  When "being seen" includes portrayals chock full of stereotypical behaviors that are continually detrimental to the minority it purports to be representing, "being seen" is meaningless and maybe worse than not appearing at all.  I mean, as actors, don't they have a choice in what they participate in?

Anyway, the show turned out to be the lowest-rated miniseries ever.  Thank goodness.

Today in my 20th century Chinese history class my professor called on me and I unexpectedly said something actually coherent, although wrong.  We were discussing "communistic neotraditionalism" - which I'm still trying to wrap my mind around - and I said, "I was under the impression that communism got rid of tradition."  As soon as I said that, I thought - wait a minute, my parents had an arranged marriage.  Oops.  But the professor seemed very happy to discuss that point, and especially liked the fact that I contributed since I had never spoken up before.  At the end of class I was feeling really guilty for falling asleep at one point.

My roommate entered the ER yesterday.  She woke up the previous day, unable to see clearly.  She had double vision, which apparently got progressively worse.  They sent her to the hospital, where she was seen by some neurologists, who kept running tests on her and wouldn't tell her anything, which scares her the most.  Having once been premed, she has read up on the possibilities and everything is very scary.  Possibly brain damage, tumor, cancer, etc.  I'm trying to do my best to help her out, but I don't know what to say.  I know there's nothing I can do to make it any better or easier to deal with it.  I'm taking care of her things as best as I can, but I feel like I need to do more.  As if those things aren't scary enough, afterwards she'll have to deal with the money thing.  They wouldn't tell her how much everything was costing, but she's poor and has limited Medical, so that is a constant worry.  I'm going to go visit her after class today.  Hopefully everything will be cleared up and she'll be fine, although I know that might not be a certain thing.

There is going to be a marathon reading today.  The English grad students are going to read Jane Eyre for 30 hours straight or something.  I may attend, just to listen.


There's an erroneous belief that people have about minorities sticking together - as I tell incredulous-looking people here in Japan - "An American's worst enemies and best friends overseas both are other Americans".  Currently, I get along well with Mr. Lookingfor, and not at all with Mr. Howlong, who I've taken to mentally calling "gorilla" and "neanderthal SOB", especially after the way he was swaggering around on Friday in his version of moving clothes - Levi's with a big heavy chain on one side for... keys??  Several times when we passed, he made a point of refusing to jointly move a little as we passed in the narrow paths between the moving boxes.  It started to bug me, so at one point I did a speed walk past the bozo standing in front of his desk and maintained a collision course until the last half-second when I moved just enough to avoid actually making physical contact.  Later in the men's room, he came in looking threatening as I was on my way out.  I guess if he actually does threaten me, I'll have to file an official complaint with the police.  Typically, the guy can't write.  Both Mr. Lookingfor and myself failed the guy on the test he was given when he first came in for an interview, but Mr. Uragi likes the guy... birds of a feather I suppose.....      [Top of page]

"Life is Good, Etc."     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: Oops...
Date: Sat, 19 May 2001
From: Yo/Gr  [US / Japan]

Life is good.  I bought a bike, a Kawasaki ZZ-R400 - I got my license in the US when I went home for a week.  Everything in the US seemed the same.  A high school friend had died (though I didn't know until I returned), of cancer.  I'm recovering from being sick, I was tired from the trip I guess.  It's heating up here.  I haven't been to the beach yet, but its nearing the time of year where I will go at least once a week.  The dance groups for Awa Odori are practicing every day, almost anywhere there is free space.  Work is the same - actually I have some new adult students who are fun.  I have decided I need to spend more time with the locals, as my Japanese vocabulary is very limited.

Well, I am now being requested to stop playing with the computer, so.....


I'm especially interested in how things go for Yo/Gr, as I've often wondered how life would have been for me here in Japan if I'd lived outside the mega-cities... where there is clean water and air, and a different pace and quality to life.  Just think - I might even be living a happy care-free life at this very moment instead of making battle plans for the Jungle Warfare office......

"Quick Hello From Adelaide"     [Top of page]

Subject: RE: LL-293
Date: Tue, 22 May 2001  +0930
From: FHN  [Australia]

A quick hello from Adelaide Australia.  The weather here is starting to feel like winter, the nights are getting colder and colder.  I hate the cold.  Waiting anxiously for summer.

Reading about the obese people in the USA... there are so many fat people here too.  I think it has a lot to do with the fast food chains.  We ate out once a week when I was young.  Now my kids can get hamburgers and fries and junk anywhere, any time of the day.  Thank goodness they burn off their fat quickly, but someone with a slow metabolism wouldn't fend so nicely.  I noticed while visiting America that the take away food places gave people such large drink cups - I am sure this could influence people overindulging in soft drinks.

Anyway, good luck to all the fat people in the world really, happiness is a lot more important than what your body looks like.  I feed my body what it craves, which is the best way.


"It's Too Hot/Cold in Here!"     [Top of page]

Date: Wed, 23 May 2001  -0500
From: HHE (USA/TX)

Your remarks in LL-296 about the thermostat problems occasioned by Ms. Donkan's jockeying with it brought back some memories from my other life in corporate headquarters.  At the risk of being accused of chauvinistic tendencies, I will confess to some nefarious dealings which involved the thermostats.  The background is that I had about 44-45 employees there (who were a great group of people by the way).  Of that group probably 33-34 were female.  For some unknown reason, they organized in about three or four cliques - mostly along age lines, I think.  They were always disagreeing about the temperature in the office area.  None of them had outside offices as these were for managers and their secretaries.  Although the bickering about the temperature being too warm or too cold was not constant, it seemed to be.  I talked to the maintenance people and they came up with a solution that seemed to help.  They put in thermostats around the periphery of the area.  And those thermostats were fake.  This was about a year before I was unceremoniously booted out by the CEO and their solution worked pretty well up till the time I left.  And I don't feel guilty about it because I really couldn't think of a solution that would mollify all of them.  Mea culpa, mea culpa, anyway P.S.  I wasn't booted out because of the thermostats, incidentally.  I fired (one of) the CEO's girlfriend(s) with whom he was consulting after-hours back when he was President, then when he became CEO.......................


"Conversation at the Hospital"     [Top of page]

Subject: hi
Date: Sat, 19 May 2001
From: KCM  [US]

I'm up way too early on a Saturday morning.  My roommate got released from the hospital yesterday.  It turns out to be a case of nerve damage, meaning she will have to live with no depth perception and double vision until the nerves spontaneously regenerate, which could take months.  I'm relieved for her.  It's been a stressful week, and I have to get started on my papers soon.

Her mother came to the hospital and attempted to have a conversation with me, which was interesting since she spoke very little English and her main language was Mandarin - my language is Cantonese.  My roommate functioned sometimes as intermediary translator.  She started asking me questions about my major and, oh, it was lovely.  "English?  You want to be English teacher?"  "No.  Writing."  "Like news articles?"  "Uh, it depends.  I haven't decided yet."  "Why not study science?  What your parents say?" "I'm not good at science.  My parents have no say.  They let me decide."  She started going off in Mandarin about the humanities being "easy" and law school was "lazy studying."  Gotta love Asian parents.

When she asked how many brothers and sisters I had, her eyes grew wide when I told her "Four sisters, no brothers".  She then asked if my parents kept having kids because they wanted a boy.  "Yes.  My poor mom."  Cue shaking of head.

I'm glad my parents aren't bourgeois, but rather simple peasants.  It makes things so much easier for me.  The expectations aren't as high, so there isn't as much pressure.  I think they're happy as long as they get my degree.


"What Happens Tomorrow?"     [Top of page]
(1:07 a.m.  July 1st, 2001  Nishi-Shinjuku)

I get the feeling that things are going to be intense at JW Inc. this week... and maybe beyond.  It might just be an erroneous feeling brought on by the move, but there's a feeling of accelerating change in the air.  On the other hand, worldwide, change seems to be an accelerating phenomenon... well, it's pointless to speculate about what is only hours away!

Sore dewa!

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon
Images Through Glass
Nishi-Shinjuku, Tokyo
July 1st, 2001
[Top of page]