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"Letter-Letter 302"
July 23rd, 2001

"Fun - As Usual"
"When the System is Down"  by CAI
"The Weather's Been Fairly Nice"  by CBB
"In the New Apartment"  by KCM
"Content is the Larger Picture"
"Challenge Safety Driving?!?"  by Yo/Gr & LHS
"A Long Talk"  by KCM
"Those Names....."  by CVW & LHS
"A Life of Leisure?"  by Laf
"Bumping Into Chairs and Tables"  by RWD
"Iroiro"  by CPK, DRE, FCR, LFL, LML & LHS
"At My Sister's Marriage"  by HZJ
"The Queen is Visiting"  by PBU
"Friendship"  by KTW
"We Cave Dwellers......."  by MCG
"The Pork Was Better Than the Beef" by MMH
"$65 Tests - Gathering Thunderclouds?"
"Back in the Edo Era, the Land was....."

"Fun - As Usual"     [Top of page]

Monday at Jungle Warfare, Inc. got off to a typical start.  I walked off the elevators to the smell of something like paint fumes.  Maybe they painted something, but probably not - it's most likely the spray-glue, which they are still using.  I hope the Occupational Safety and Health Administration can help force them to stop using that stuff.  Or if someone in top management would be nice enough to keel over from the stuff, then they'd find a way a stop.....

Aside from that, it was a typical day - complete with incoming and outgoing missiles.  The incoming missiles are almost always verbal - the wonderful thing about being nasty to someone with spoken words is that there is no trace of the words after they are said - no proof.  The equally wonderful thing about writing it down is that it can not then be changed.  What you have published is nearly impossible to refute, calling for more honesty in the use of words.  From the sophist's point of view, having it in solid form is a frightening prospect.

So - with apologies for starting this off with more office-battle stuff, here is a letter I sent to Ms. Honyaku... who strangely alternates from being nice one day to cuttingly nasty the next.  The content of her words was mild enough, but the way they were spoken seemed to betray her feelings that her job is more difficult than mine - that all I have to do is whiz through what she has painstakingly translated... which has a certain validity, but much of what I get is so bad that I have to go back to the original Japanese and retranslate it anyway.  Green grass maybe.

Ms. Honyaku,

You just asked me to proof/rewrite four files, commenting that "There are not many areas to check, so I'm hoping you can get them finished today.  Am I imagining things, or was there a nasty undertone to that statement?  First, I can't open the 500KB FileMaker file due to too many people in the company currently using the software.  We're breaking the law in that we have too many users who have installed the very same software package (only one license), but whether or not we care about the licensing issue is a moot point, as I can't open the file.  When I try to, I get the following error message:

"The maximum number of licensed users are currently using this copy of FileMaker Pro.  Please refer to the Installation and New Feature Guide for further instructions."

Also, depending on what level of quality language we are aiming for, the time required is not so minimal as you imagine.  Since you are in a rush, I'll do a rush "proof" job, but that also means that you should not expect it to be perfect... particularly in light of the fact that there are the other proof/rewrite jobs that I'm working on concurrently....  Perhaps I should give you some of my bad Japanese writings to "proof" so you can get a feel for the frustrations of dealing with mutant language?


Lyle Saxon

I then ended up with a very low-grade translation from Mr. Shibui (who's been at JW Inc. for a while, but I haven't yet written about) that had to go out as a high-quality document directly to the client, which prompted this:

Dear Ms. Honyaku,

The quality of the 40+ questions for Aabbb Inc. is not very good - with over 80% of the sentences requiring fairly extensive rewriting.  For this reason, three of your four files, including the 500KB FileMaker file, will have to wait until tomorrow.

By the way, would you like to try rewriting my Japanese sometime?


Lyle Saxon     [Top of page]

"When the System is Down"     [Top of page]

Subject: Hello
Date: Tue, 26 Jun 2001  -0500
From: CAI  [US]

I have been so darn busy with work.  I work for a mortgage company where I am basically the assistant to the loan officer.  An awful lot of customer contact each day.  It has been very frustrating this past week as our "system" has been down.  It is an older computer system, and one that needs replacing.  I hear that it will cost the company about $60,000 to replace it.  (Wow!)  Due to the computer problem, I have been off work the past two days.  I am trying to contact my boss to see if my husband, who is a network administrator, can take a look at it.

Having two days off from work has come at a great time though.  My parents are arriving from Arkansas in a couple of days, so I've been cleaning the house from top to bottom - it feels great.  (Don't get me wrong, I am not normally a dirty housekeeper, but some things do take priority over others.)  My husband is going to build my father a computer to take home with him.  My mother and I will go the the big mall - called the Mall of America.  So far, it is one of the biggest malls in the States.....

Is there any way that the pictures can be included in your regular letters?


If/when transmission speeds improve, I'll start putting photos in with the LL Letter, but as it is, just the text I'm sending out is about as large as a lot of people receiving the letter are willing to receive, so for now I'll keep the two separate.  I am trying to put photos related to current issues in the LL Letters in the MP Letter though, so if you're getting them both, they complement each other.  (If anyone else would like to receive the MP photo letter - a .pdf file that I send out once every two weeks or so, just zap me a line and I can add you to the send list.  One MP letter is generally about 500KB or so.)     [Top of page]

"The Weather's Been Fairly Nice"     [Top of page]

Date: Wed, 27 Jun 2001  -0500
From: CBB

Sorry I have been so slow getting a letter off to you... I have had good intentions, but since the weather has been fairly nice and my husband is home between job calls, I don't get to the computer as often as I like.  I have all my flowers transplanted into pots and out on the deck that my husband has just rebuilt - we still have the railing to put up around it, but the main part is there, so now we can sit outside and enjoy the days.  And then there is the fencing which is ready to go up.  We also have an old truck in the backyard, and the next time my husband leaves on a job, it is out of there.  It's a perfect spot for me to put in a garden, so now I just have to sneak the truck to the auto wreckers - he will have a bit of a hissy fit, but then will calm down again... I have faith in him.

I didn't go into work today due to a very sore shoulder - since I am working with someone who doesn't always pull their share of the workload, I stayed home to avoid aggravating the situation.  (I very seldom use my sick time, so I have lots of it and thought 'what the heck'.)

Well, the school year is officially over.  Aabbb didn't come home with his report card before taking off to the city this afternoon - could choke the little bum.  We have been so worried about his history credit... he picked up his final report card this morning and then buggered off into the city with his friends.  It's not that I have a problem with that, but he could have dropped off the report card first instead of (apparently) thinking he would keep us in suspense.  I will get even with him.....

Well, my shoulder is starting to hurt, so think I will move away from the computer desk.  Take care.


"In the New Apartment"     [Top of page]

Date: Wed, 27 Jun 2001
From: KCM  [US]

I've moved into my new apartment.  It's huge, and nice and lovely.  The first night I was scared because the other girl didn't open the door when I rang the doorbell.  I had to go downstairs and have her buzz me in.  She's pretty nice, as well as the other girl who lives here.  She's interning for Sony's litigation department, and the other girl is an electrical engineering major.  I feel like a hack, like I'm just coasting on a lazy major or something.

My old roommate is living in a frat house.  She is apparently one of only three girls living there, and they got the third worst room.  It was a pigsty - spiders and bugs were everywhere, there were obscene drawings on the floor and my roommate had to hunt down a mattress to sleep on.

Oh, and I don't have a bed, either.  At least not yet.  So far I've been sleeping on someone else's bed, and then I think I'll sleep on the couch until the end of summer.

My summer class is going nicely, although I haven't been able to get into the reading as much as I should be.  I keep going back to lighter stuff, like magazines.

I need a job.  Preferably a job that pays well.  I sent my resume to the Getty, but I don't know when they'll get back to me.

It's strange to me to have all this time to myself.  I keep wasting it.  I read in Discover magazine about how time is just an illusion, and I'm almost starting to believe it.

The picnic I had with my friends was fun, and it was fun gossiping about everyone.  There was nothing mean about it, just catching up mostly.  It still surprises me whenever I hear someone is pregnant or married.  My mind can't wrap around those concepts, especially at my age, when I feel like I'm still such a baby sometimes.

My sisters are planning on going to Grand Canyon this summer and to Japan next year.  They asked if I wanted to come, although truthfully, I don't know if these plans will actually happen.  I'm sort of considering going to China with a friend, although I haven't yet asked her about it.

So many decisions.....

KCM     [Top of page]

"Content is the Larger Picture"     [Top of page]
(2001/07/25  5:50 a.m.  Nishi-Shinjuku)

I was hoping to write this last night, but I fell asleep at the keyboard again...  The following letter is one I sent to Ms. Eigodekinu, a woman at work who seems to be in her first full time job, and is rather full of herself regarding her English speaking abilities acquired while studying in the US.  Certainly she's the most fluent of the non-native English speaking staff (which isn't saying much really... most of the people in that office can't speak English beyond a rudimentary level - if that), but then her English sounds like a high school student talking to a friend about hair styles and shopping or something... it's almost painful to listen to her taking business calls.  Pity the poor clients who have to talk to her about serious issues, but no matter - she and her clique are quite proud of the fact that she can speak "fluently".

The letter - after a year and a half of nonsense, I can see trouble coming.  In the case of Ms. Eigodekinu yesterday, she tossed an abbreviated translation at me to "proof" and before I could familiarize myself with the topic, she came storming dramatically over and planted herself behind my chair scowling a "What's taking you so long?!" face at me for all the office to see.  Theatrics.  PR=BS / BS=PR.  Nonetheless, the game disgusts me, so I didn't try to put on a show myself, and instead fired off the following letter with a BCC to the Prez and (not sure why really) also to Mr. Lookingfor:

Dear Ms. Eigodekinu,

I would like to say a few words here about your (summary) translation of an Aabbb Corp. article you just had me check.

Firstly, I think it would be better if you could send me the file (or a .txt file if you're worried about formatting) instead of giving me only a printed version of your translation.  I made a number of changes by hand, which you will then have to waste time typing up - thus increasing the possibility of errors through misreading of the handwritten text.

Thank you for providing me with the original Japanese - all information is helpful in proofing/rewriting something.  Indeed, information is vital to providing quality translations.  In pursuit of this, I went to the Aabbb Corp. website to read some of their releases pertaining to Bbccc Inc., which was mentioned in the article.  I realize you are under time pressures, but if you are also interested in quality translating, I need to have enough time to do some background reading.  If you will not allow me a half-hour or so for this, and insist on having the text tossed back to you within five to ten minutes, as was the case today, then I cannot accept full responsibility for "proofing" the text.  Only checking for grammatical errors is less than half the story.  Content is the larger picture, with words being meaningless in and of themselves as they are simply tools to convey ideas.


Lyle Saxon

In reply, she sent back a terse e-mail saying that if I have an opinion, I shouldn't waste her and my time sending e-mail - but I should just tell her.  Well... that seems reasonable on the surface, but the reality is that she's enthusiastically playing the role of the "International One" who magically obtained mysterious English speaking ability is the exotic land across the sea, and from my part, the letter is not my opinion, it's a policy that I'm demanding as essential if she is to (naturally) blame me for any problems arising down the river from her shoddy translations.  She can babble on about herself, her friends, and the weekend endlessly, but she seems to be incapable of speaking businesslike, and her writing is bad enough that it must be re-written, not proofed.

Phew!  I can't shake the feeling that this is all a bunch of inane garbage, but something is also pushing me to record the battle at JW Inc., in the heart of exotic Tokyo.....     [Top of page]

"Challenge Safety Driving?!?"     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: LL-299
Date: Mon, 2 Jul 2001
From: Yo/Gr  [US / Japan]

I've been 'busy' I guess, mostly dealing with many small things such as visas.  I'm here in Shikoku for another year.  I figure next year I will need to move to a city (somewhere with museums and crazy stuff like that).  I assume it's hot in Tokyo now - here it's definitely more humid than is necessary, and I find myself falling asleep anytime the "aircon" [air conditioner] is used.

I drove to Kyoto the other day.  Instead if using the direct route, over the bridge and expressway, to the tune of over Y20,000 round trip, I went the long way.  It cost me less than Y10,000, but instead of about two and a half hours each way (three hours or so by bus) it took six!  Not so much fun.  I could write about traffic rules forever, as they are different from place to place.  Where I'm at boasts one of the highest accident rates in Japan, and driving by the prefectural office you can view up-to-date numbers on deaths and injuries.  Perhaps it has something to do with the bumper stickers worn proudly which say "Challenge Safety Driving 2001", which seems to be a popular thing to do!  (I'm sure it's meant to mean something like "Safe Driving Challenge 2001", but "safe" becomes "safety" in Japanese English.)  In any case, the rule here is no rules, while in other places its very confusing as they seem to pick and choose.  (Don't be stupid, if you only lived in the city you would know the rules!)  So - I found myself in near-death situations regularly.  That said, I actually like the driving here to some extent.  I guess I have come to understand that when driving here, you must expect the unexpected (which then becomes expected??) - especially from taxis, trucks, and buses.  And then in other cities, they seem to have another set of rules to follow.....

Well, I seem to be late for work now, so I will cut this short.


Soon after receiving Yo/Gr's letter, I noticed one of the "Challenge Safety Driving 2001" bumper stickers up here in Tokyo.  On one hand I fully realize that if I set out to make Japanese language bumper stickers for the US, I would be making mistakes too, but this is not the 19th century!  It's very easy to obtain information in the year 2001!  It would be very easy to check if something like the weird English on that bumper sticker is accurate or not before printing up a ton of them and plastering them on trucks all over the country!  And so, I think that - as a mistake that could have very easily been avoided, it's fair game to poke fun of.  Even so, although English like that provides some humor on many an otherwise boring day, the persistency of mutant English here sometimes makes me wonder if people deliberately muck it up for some.... reason.....  What else could explain the tenaciousness of it?  With "kanji" (the writing system borrowed from China), it's the same thing apparently - with many (most?) things shifted into different meanings.  The two kanji in Japanese for "stationery" (one meaning "hand" and the other "paper") mean "toilet paper" in Chinese apparently.  When it's locals talking with other locals, whatever they do with words taken from other languages/cultures is their business, but when they continue to use the mutated form of a word with people from outside the country... well... then the original owners of the word have a right to complain about it.  As English is used to communicate across borders, there must be some commonality!  .......  Forgive the outburst - it's just that after so many years of frustrating experience with this issue......     [Top of page]

"A Long Talk"     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: InCase...
Date: Fri, 29 Jun 2001 13
From: KCM  [US]

I went shopping yesterday and totally splurged.  I'm afraid that I'm spending way more than I should, although I have enough money in my account that I'm not too worried.

Last night I had this very long talk with my roommate about many things, about dating, about the subtleties of racism and ignorance, about life in general.  It was pretty cool, although she was flabbergasted when I said that I had never had a boyfriend.  They always are.  I'm in awe of her, as well as the other roommate.  It seems as if they have everything going for them and they're older than me, so I guess I'm kind of idolizing them a bit.  They're such a huge contrast to my own older sisters, who I would never look to as role models.  These women, however, are so smart and confident in their own abilities and they know where they want to go with their lives - I want to be like them.


"Those Names....."     [Top of page]

Subject: Some personal opinions
Date: Mon, 2 Jul 2001  +0800
From: CVW  [China]

This is CVW from China's Jinzhou City in Liaoning Province... do you still remember me?

I want to comment on the pseudonyms used in the LL Letters.  I find it irritating to read names such as "Aabbb", "Bbccc" or "Ccddd".  They are impossible to pronounce for one thing.  Couldn't you use more realistic-sounding pseudonyms - or even just say "someone", etc.  That's how I feel in any case... sorry if I've now irritated you with my complaining!

A few days ago, a friend of mine from the US came to China on a tour with his family.  I went to Beijing together with my family to meet them, and we had a very good time together.

What are you busy with these days?  Teaching English to Japanese students?  You know, I am working at Something College as an English teacher.  Our school needs more English teachers, especially native English teachers.  If you come to China, I think, there would be a lot of opportunities, but I suppose you are accustomed to life over there in Tokyo.


The names... I've had several people complain about that, and at least for the company, I've assigned pseudonyms to everyone.  With often repeating names, I could set up a name conversion chart I guess, like I have for the company.  The problem is though, with many of the letters I get, it's not always clear whether someone is male or female, and even when it is, I have no idea what fictitious names to use for someone from China/Russia/Indonesia/Malaysia, etc.  I think it's better to have Aabbb, Bbccc, etc. than to assign people the world over westernized names.  I would like to stress, however, that even though a letter ends up being peppered with seemingly meaningless names, I'm very careful to make sure that each generic pseudonym is assigned to only one person per submitted letter.  So, with each letter, Aabbb is the same person, Bbccc is another person, etc.  (I use the "Find & Replace" function to consistently and accurately convert the names.)  At least for now, I think the only practical thing for me to do is to agree upon set pseudonyms for a few of the people who write the most often, like MMH, SAJ, and Laf, who often refer to their partners by name, which has become "Aabbb".  For the other letters, I'll keep the request in mind and try to come up with a workable answer.     [Top of page]

"A Life of Leisure?"     [Top of page]

Subject: ID4-2001
Date: Wed, 04 Jul 2001
From: Laf  [US]

I guess the biggest thing in my world is that I am now retired.  I must admit it is a little strange.  I have given myself this week to simply adjust.  I spent the last couple of days just puttering around the house... doing those little jobs that always get put on hold because there simply isn't time when you only have two days off.  I have promised Aabbb that I will start getting the brain active next week, whether on writing poetry, doing a little consulting, or learning the art programs my son uses to create web pages.  However, the deal is that when I need a day to just rest, I take it.

That leads us to the health thing.  We both feel that as the migraine situation didn't happen in one day - it isn't likely to get better any faster.  So we are taking it one step at a time.  I am resting when I need to, and dealing with each day or headache as it comes.  I am not certain what the perfect solution is, but this fits with what my doctor told me when she insisted I get away from day-to-day stress.

I am not certain what our plans are for the day.  We have been invited to three Fourth of July parties... I kind of wanted to make an appearance at each.  Aabbb, however, has a tendency to simply invite people over to visit without telling me.  He loves to have barbecues and pool parties.  So, taking that into consideration, the house is company clean and I am prepared to go either way.  It seemed the least stressful decision.  When he gets up, I will ask which he prefers.  In the long run I will have a good time either way.


"Bumping Into Chairs and Tables"     [Top of page]

Subject: New place
Date: Thu, 5 Jul 2001
From: RWD  [Indonesia]

I decided to move to a new rented house, since my old one wasn't very comfortable anymore.  The new place is 8km east of the center of town - in a new property complex with cool scenery.  Mt. Manglayang is just 20 km northward.

The problem is, I don't have enough time to unpack.  My thesis writing schedule is very tight, especially since my supervisor has picked for "the thesis exam" a date very suitable to him (but of course not to me, ha-ha).

What I love about a new place is when it is still empty... when you can still wonder around without worrying about bumping into chairs and tables.


"Iroiro"     [Top of page]

The following batch of short letters I've decided to toss into one group - "Iroiro", which means "various/miscellaneous".  There are a couple of questions that I'll get to at the bottom of the batch.

Subject: Re: ShortLetter
Date: Mon, 25 Jun 2001  -0500
From: CPK  [US]

If they don't have master combination locks, what do they lock up their bicycles with?


Subject: Re: AnyTime
Date: Wed, 27 Jun 2001
From: DRE

Hey!  How are you?  I am here in San Antonio now.  I moved here about a week ago.  Things are going okay.  Just trying to get settled in and get used to this big city.  Can't talk now.  Gotta go.  Take care and write back soon.


Subject: Hi~~
Date: Fri, 29 Jun 2001
From: FCR  [US]

How are you?  I'm doing ok, what have you been up to, lately?  I've been working a lot as usual...  How's the weather there?  We had a bad storm come in on Monday and it messed up my phone line and they just got it fixed at 9:00pm.  I really do enjoy reading your work!!  What are you going to do this weekend?  I don't know what I'm doing yet, well, I've got to go and get ready for work.  I'm working a double...


Subject: for PTJ (Phillippines)
Date: Sun, 1 Jul 2001
From: LFL  [US]


If you need a break, do it now... one never knows where one will be tomorrow... be happy and don't worry.... Hey, do what the rest of us single people do... just go alone and smile a lot.

From: LFL

Subject: Re: LL-299 [Sealed windows]
Date: Sun, 1 Jul 2001
From: LFL  [US]

Lots of money saved by not being able to open windows.  Hinges and window locks would zoom up the price?


Subject: Re: LL-299
Date: Mon, 2 Jul 2001  -0500
From: LML

Well today is my 4th anniversary in the office, strangely enough it doesn't feel like any cause for celebration, except for the fact that I guess I still have a job, unlike so many other Jamaicans.

Since you seem to enjoy music... I recommend Andrea Bocelli - Romanza.  I finally realized - after listening to the CD for months - that the English translations were in the jacket... but never mind, I can now sing along in Italian!  The joy of music and a great voice - it transcends all language barriers.


Subject: What's up?
Date: Wed, 11 Jul 2001
From: FCR  [US]

How are you?  I'm doing ok - what have you been up to, lately?  I've been working a lot.....  We had a tropical storm hit, and a lot of other hospitals got damaged, so now people have to come to ours.  We haven't had a slow moment in awhile.  How was your 4th of July?  I hope you had a great time~!!  I worked...

How's the weather there?  It's been nice here, finally!!  Well, I've got to get back to work.  Take Care


Master combination locks... that came up when I was asked what would make a good souvenir from the US when coming to Japan.  There are key locks and the type of combination locks with three small thumb-dials (is that what they're called?), but I've never seen safe-type combination locks here.  Partly it's because when you go swimming, etc., the lockers are cash machines for the pool operators - you have to put two or three dollars in a slot before you can take out the key that locks it - like airport lockers.  After moving here, the first time I went to a public pool, I took a combination lock I'd brought with me from the US, but there was no way to attach it to the locker... I remember feeling rather irritated as I paid out more money (after paying to get into the pool already) to lock up my clothes.  Now I'm used to being fleeced... but still amazed that people don't seem to put getting fleeced for everything (overcharged by the local phone company, overcharged for "official" school uniforms and supplies, etc. etc. etc.) together with a low standard of living.  At least the strong yen has enabled some things to be had cheaply that are imported.  Actually, it's a hodgepodge of falling prices in competitive markets that utilize cheaper imported stuff, and outrageous prices for protected items that, often as not, are also obtained on the cheap from abroad... but with greedy somebody(s) making obscene profits on the deal.  The whole transformation of Japanese society since the yen more than doubled in strength is deserving of a book or two (already on bookshelves I suppose... has anyone read something like that?).

The weather - it's been hot, but has cooled down quite a bit since yesterday.

The weekend - I want to go to the beach or a pool or something... preferably a beach in Izu, but the cost.....

Sealed windows - I had always looked at the phenomenon of sealed windows as being an energy and lawyer issue (things dropped out of windows...), but now that LFL mentions it, the cost of an opening window itself must be much higher than just a piece of glass sealed in place.  A case of good PR I guess - never say "We saved a ton of cash by putting in these cheap sealed-in-place windows", but say "We responsibly installed the latest energy saving heating & cooling system that requires that the windows be sealed".  And then there is still the issue of things being able to fall from an open window.....     [Top of page]

"At My Sister's Marriage"     [Top of page]

Subject: jazz --sister's marriage.
Date: Thu, 05 Jul 2001 00: +0530
From: HZJ  [India]

I just returned from Punjab (another state) about 24 hours ago - from my sister's wedding.  The wedding went great.  My jijaji (the term for ones' sister's husband) is really funny.  Even while the cameras were on, he was making funny faces to me and cracking jokes.  At the start of the function, when the groom came, we "salis" (the sisters of the grooms wife - the term is only in relation to the groom) had tied a ribbon across the entrance.  The groom is first supposed to give his salis some money before he is let in.  There is a debate over the amount of money.  The salis say their price and then the groom and his family try to bargain it down.  After getting our money, we gave jijaji scissors to cut the ribbon with, but they weren't sharp (purposely), so he had a tough time cutting the ribbon, but after a while he got through.

After all the ceremonies, there is the last part where the groom and bride are supposed to walk around fire while mantras are said by the pundit.  At that time, the salis get another chance to get some money.  We are supposed to get the groom's shoes and hide them.  But there are the groom's brothers and friends who won't let us get to them.  They just stood near jijaji's shoes and as soon as we moved towards them, one of jijaji's friends sat on the sofa and put the shoes between his feet. Then as we moved closer, he shifted them to his right -- "mistake"!!!  While my sister and cousins were fighting with them (orally that is), I went from the other side and caught hold of the shoes - but jijaji's friend caught hold of them as well.  So it was the both of us pulling at the shoes.  He was seated, so maybe he was comfortable, but I was slipping... still I didn't let go.  Then my dad's sister came and started telling jiju's (it's kind of a cool and easier term for jijaji) friend that he should let go of the shoes - attention diverted - I won!!!  I took the shoes to the room in the hotel we had booked to use as a changing room, hid them, and locked the door.  No way jiju's friends could get them back again.  So - later there was a discussion about money again.  Of course jiju's friend's had tried to get some money as well by sitting in the brides seat when she came and refusing to get up, but they were left empty handed as theirs was not any kind of custom - lucky salis!!  Well it was a lot of fun.  We were supposed to stay awake all through the night and we were yawning at times... but we managed to stay awake.  The bride, groom and his family left at around 5:00 a.m.  Now my sister's at her new home.  She called today - everything is fine she says.  Great!!!!!!!!!!!

And yeh!! - there's more good news - I cleared my entrance exam for BCA.  I came in 239 out of (maybe) thousands of lakh students, so it's good.  Now I have a confirmed seat out of the (about) 1000 available spots.  The counseling at which I will find out which college I'll be going to will be on the 12th of July, and college should begin from August.  Well at least I'm tension-free now!

So what are you guys up to?

HZJ     [Top of page]

"The Queen is Visiting"     [Top of page]

Subject: Queen Elizabeth
Date: Thu, 12 Jul 2001
From: PBU  [Pakistan / UK]

Tomorrow the queen of England is visiting Jersey.  Her helicopter will be landing in the "people's park", which is half a mile from my place.  Because of her royal visit, there is public holiday in Jersey, but I happen to be working in the hospital (same old job).  Anyway I'm looking forward to one thing at least, my day off, plus in return for my extra duty, I get an extra day off later.  Among the various places she will visit, she'll be visiting Victoria College - which is the school my son attends.  My concentration is mainly on my holiday these days... which is fast approaching.


"Friendship"     [Top of page]

Subject: Friendship
Date: Sun, 15 Jul 2001  -0400
From: KTW  [US]

On July 13th, I lost a friend of 48 years.  A terrible illness withered his six feet four inch body down to 165 pounds.  It was a tragic loss and a devastating blow that I'm sure will take a long time to heal.

We met in a gun store in 1953 and were best of friends ever since.  In 1959, ten of us hunters joined forces to build a cabin near Cooperstown, New York.  Eight have gone to the big hunting lodge in the sky - only two of us left and it scares me a bit.  We hunted, bar hopped and got stoned together many times in our younger days.  We used to drink VO and milk.  Because few bars carried milk, we drove around with a cooler full of milk in our cars.  I remember him hanging me out to dry on a fence after a night of partying and then waking me early the next morning to open a few more bars.  Once we drove all night to Rochester, New York just for a cup of coffee.  We were so sleepy, we left the car and did push ups as the sun came up over the New York Thruway.

He always used an electric shaver.  One time on a hunting trip he forgot to pack it so I gave him a razor.  He wasn't used to a blade razor and cut himself in ten places.  He bled like a cut chicken.  I still laugh at that.  And the time we met a female Native American Indian in an upstate bar.  We played a few games of pool with her and she took us to the cleaners and even drank us under the table.  Don't ever let anyone tell you Indians can't hold their firewater.

He borrowed my new 1954 Ford one night to impress a lady friend.  She happened to be married.  Her husband somehow got the license plate number of my car and through a police friend got my name, address and phone number.  He wanted to kill me until his wife convinced him I wasn't her lover.  Those were the days my friend!!!

I remember crying when his son died suddenly in 1974 and he did the same when my first wife died in 1989.  Our friendship was one that could only have been ended by God.  Each time I lose someone close, I remind myself not to sweat the small things... live life and have a good time... which is why I fly to Florida and visit other friends four times a year.

At his funeral Monday, when he is laid to rest alongside his son, tears will run down my face as I celebrate the end of a good life.  I thank God for allowing me to know such a gentle giant.

Good-bye to a  fine human being, a great husband and father and damn good friend.

Good hunting, Joe.

KTW"     [Top of page]

"We Cave Dwellers......."     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: LL-300
Date: Sun, 15 Jul 2001
From: MCG  [US]

Your letters are all interesting.  It is too bad we can't always find a way to make money with true self-expression and what we have a passion for.  I guess you could write a book on office politics and its effect on the global economy.  We spend so many productive hours whittling away at each other.  I worked in a commercial art business, where I think 85% of the day was spent politicking.  It is some type of primitive Neanderthal undertaking, similar to walking around with clubs in our hands, clubbing each other while organizing into tribes.  Of course these tribes are never happy with one another so they stay in a state of constant change.  What is the psychology of this and where does it originate?  What compels these group dynamics?  I think I will look this up to see what insights are already extant.  I am sure someone has identified this behavior.

Well good luck and keep on writing.  All artistic and altruistic endeavors are the reflection of the true self and many times lead to great outcomes.


"The Pork Was Better Than the Beef"     [Top of page]

Subject: Dose of MMH 07/14/01
Date: Sat, 14 Jul 2001
From: MMH  [US]

My Uncle Aabbb recently came to visit.  We had a great time with him.  We took him to the EMP (the Experience Music Project).  Both Bbccc and I are charter members (meaning we joined the first year the museum opened), so we just walked in and updated our membership cards while Uncle Aabbb bought a ticket.  We spent most our time at the new exhibit on Reggae and Ska music.

Bbccc was surprised at how much of the music she already has in her collection.  I took my handspring device and made some notes of bands and musicians.  I now have a big resource I can tap into for future presents for Bbccc.

On Saturday we went fishing with my Dad.  He has been looking forward to taking out his new small boat for some time.  He spent a little time this winter getting it into shape, and took it out crabbing with my brother Ccddd.  Anyway, we got out onto the water with my Dad and tried our luck.  The only thing we caught was a sea cucumber, which we tossed back.

Mom and Bbccc stayed behind and went for a walk over at the marine preserve.  The shoreline of the preserve is slowly being swallowed by the ocean.  Of several madrona trees that were on the bluff, there is only one left now.

On Sunday, we took Uncle Aabbb to Emerald Downs, which is the local horse race track.  We had fun betting on the races (Bbccc came home the largest winner).  I was happy that one of the horses I bet on came in first.  Uncle Aabbb did not win a single bet.  We decided that we had had enough fun and went home where Bbccc made a delicious Salmon dinner.

We received some bad news.  My next door neighbor Ddeee's mother took a bad turn last week and went to the hospital.  She was 91 years old and knew her time was getting near... so she apparently knew this trip to the hospital would be her last.  Morphine kept her comfortable until she died.  Ddeee stayed there with her for the last 24 hours.  When I talked to him, Ddeee had been up for hours.  He was a combination of sad and relieved.  Then he was busy attending to the funereal.  .................

The week was quite chaotic with projects and catch-up from taking last Friday off.  On Thursday, I spent almost all day going around to meetings and lunches with clients.  So I spent almost all of Friday playing catch-up on the little tasks that were not accomplished during the week.  Little things... like getting bills paid.

I really enjoy having lunches with my friends and clients.  There used to be a Pizza Hut on the corner, but it has become a BBQ restaurant.  Yesterday was the first chance I had to eat there.  Both myself and Eefff think the pork ribs are better than the beef ribs (the beef ribs were good, just not as good).

MMH     [Top of page]

"$65 Tests - Gathering Thunderclouds?"     [Top of page]
(July 28th, 2001  1:12 p.m.  Nishi-Shinjuku)

Spray-glue/n-hexane update:  JW Inc. is still using the stuff.  At least a couple of former users have switched over to brush-on glue... but apparently not the two people who most often use the spray, and who are in the least position of being able to refuse to do what they are told.  The Occupational Safety and Health Administration people haven't come yet... I don't think.  In the meantime I went to Tokyo University Hospital and was not overly surprised, but a little disappointed to find myself sitting next to a doctor and idly looking at his computer screen with a list of the patients he was scheduled to see while he flipped through a catalogue to see if there was a test for n-hexane.....  I didn't expect it to be the sort of thing that people come to see a doctor for all the time, but I would have thought that a doctor would know without flipping through a catalogue if there were a test or not!  Just as he was saying "... there doesn't seem to be a test for that...", he turned another page and found one.  I thought back to the guy at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration who looked up from his book listing hazardous chemicals, saying "Here it is!".  At least the doctor knew what the stuff was (phew!), although he was being very neutral about it.  He called the company, asking them why there was no price listed in their catalogue... and found out that it isn't covered by insurance - probably due to the fact that companies are required under the law to pay for that test.  I left a sample to be sent off to the lab, and they will be billing me for it directly (about $65).

One interesting thing about this whole hexane deal, is that information keeps coming up about its affecting people who have a history of sniffing paint thinner... as in intentionally for the buzz.  It seems that people the world over always find something to drug themselves with - if it isn't alcohol, nicotine, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, or whatever, then a more easily obtained substance - paint thinner.  I have no history of paint thinner addiction myself, but it's obviously a harmful substance regardless.....

Back at the office... Mr. Aruchu, the man most responsible for the continued use of that junk and also for several computer blunders, has apparently come under some fire for his blundering - some of which I pointed out to the Prez in several e-mails - and now is to be seen on occasion giving me the evil eye.  On Thursday morning he came over smiling and acting friendly (which is what he does 99% of the time... smile in your face and toss poison darts at your back), saying "I need to talk to you about something".  As I closed the open applications on my computer and clicked the screen saver on (password protected...), I imagined (a little apprehensively) that it was something to do with the spray-glue, but when we sat down in the smaller of the two meeting rooms (where the spray gluing is done, ironically enough), he told me that he had been approached by a head hunter, and showed me a printout of an e-mail attesting to that fact.  My first thought was "Hoo-boy!  Not this guy!  So he's July's 'exiting employee of the month'?!?", but he said that while he had initially thought he'd meet the guy to see what the offer is, he decided that he doesn't have the courage to change jobs now ("courage" was the word he used).  When I heard him phrase it that way, I couldn't help but think "Accurate emotion there Mr. Aruchu - you're not likely to please another employer..."

From there he went on to say that he wanted to write a polite letter canceling the lunch appointment he had already made with the guy... and then he casually threw in: "I don't know if you're interested... of course I'd hate to see you leave, but if you can find a better position....."

"Ah...... here it is!  Diplomatic efforts underway to get noisy Lyle out of the way!"  Nevertheless, the headhunting firm seems to be real enough, so I might try contacting them to see if they have any positions for noisy gaijin......     [Top of page]

"Back in the Edo Era, the Land was....."     [Top of page]

As I write this, I have an uneasy feeling that I already wrote about this... if so, sorry for the repeat!  As I mentioned a few letters back, I was wondering what the land the former JW Inc. office stood on used to be.  In the last week there, I was walking past Kinokuniya Bookstore and (in a display window) I noticed map software that lets you superimpose present day Tokyo onto maps of Edo Era... er... Edo/Tokyo (it wasn't called Tokyo then, but rather Edo).  "That's exactly what I'm looking for" thought I, and I went in and ended up buying the software (see MP-30 for a couple of examples).  The result?  The land the former building sits on was right on the edge of some clan's property (even the Japanese people I've shown it to are not sure how to pronounce the name), and the land the new building sits on is the former site of someone's residence, with the land between the two buildings formerly a temple.  Basically there are temples and shrines in Japan, with the shrines handling people who enter this world and temples handling the exiting folks.  So... if there's a temple, generally there is also a cemetery next door.  The current building looks out on (across the street) a present day temple and cemetery which is a (smaller) holdover from the Edo Era, but not the one that used to be in the area between the two buildings.  The back side of the building marks the edge of where a huge cemetery used to be!  I now look at the buildings within that area - especially the apartment buildings - and wonder if the people living there feel strangely about living in a former cemetery... or if they in fact even know - the end of the Edo Era was something like 130 years ago after all.

It's got me to thinking though... and I wonder - considering the number of our predecessors - how many cities have sections built over former cemeteries?  Is it something unusual, brought about by the lack of flat land in Japan (there's a lot of unused/unusable land in the mountains), or just something that can't really be avoided, over time, in any huge city?

Well, enough for now.

Sore dewa!,

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon
Images Through Glass

Nishi-Shinjuku, Tokyo
July 30th, 2001
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