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"Letter-Letter 303"
July 31st, 2001
"Serving the Machines..."
"Enter the Occupational Safety and Health Administration"
"Life can be difficult....."  by SB/UK
"Not Thrilling, but Not Too Boring Either" by CBB
"Radioactive Mr. Aruchu"
"Changed After Marriage"  by PBU & LHS
"If it Sounds too Good/Bad to be True..."
"Re: N-Hexane"  by CLM,  CPK, HHE, PJA, & LHS
"HBO & A Fire"  by MMH
"Amnesia"  by CPK
"The Joy of Language Teaching"  by Yo/Gr
"Back to Hong Kong"  by EWT
"Truth is Stranger than Fiction..." by MMH
"There's Flooding, and then there's Flooding....." by PBU
"California Weather"  by HHE
"Things are Going So-So for Me"  by KWV
"For a Thousand Years"  by HYC

"Serving the Machines..."     [Top of page]

There's been a pattern all this year with the company's computers where Mr. Aruchu and Mr. Uragi strongly protest my having anything to do with the company's computer network... yet they are generally incapable of maintaining it!  I've been trying to ignore the situation... I try to listen to Mr. Lookingfor's advice to just let everything fall apart "What you do isn't appreciated anyway, and it only brings you trouble", but seeing something in a state of disrepair when it can easily be fixed is a very difficult thing to ignore!  And so I fix something, the person actually using the machine is happy, and several missiles are fired at me by Mr. Aruchu and/or Mr. Uragi.  Most recently, there were three machines in various states of disrepair, so since the desk next to me is unoccupied and has a monitor on it, I set them up there (one at a time) and fixed them - complete software reinstalls for two Dimension C's and a partial reinstall for an OptiPlex G1... the one that got wet before!  After its sitting and drying out for a month, it turns out not to have been permanently damaged after all (maybe there's an advertisement for Dell here... "Withstands rain!").

The two C's were easy to set up (both had been ravaged by computer viruses... I think - in any case they were really mucked up software-wise), and then... one day (before fixing the G1), I was standing back by Ms. Warukunai's desk and the two unused computers came to mind as I surveyed her strangely empty desk...  "You don't have a computer....?" I commented, to which she said there wasn't one for her.  Ms. Ahobaka, sitting across from her, then said that Mr. Hetakuso was working on it.  I told them both that there were a couple of computers not in use, and that either one of them would be quite easy to set up.  Ms. Ahobaka again said "Mr. Hetakuso is working on it".

Yeah... well... I happened to know that he was doing nothing of the sort!  Mr. Hetakuso and I get along alright, so I walked over to his desk and suggested that one of the fixed C's go to Ms. Warukunai.  Politics time.  Apparently - as Ms. Warukunai is very low on the totem pole - the C's are too good for her to use... never mind that no one else is using them!  He told me that the broken OptiPlex (which he wasted hours and hours trying unsuccessfully to do something with...) would be ok though - provided I could get it working.  So... I pulled it out of the back storage area, and it turned out not to be too difficult to get running again... a quick visual check revealed that it was memory-less (256MB into the C I began using, and the original 32MB that I put back in mysteriously disappearing via Mr. Hetakuso back at the old building) and that the hard drive wasn't plugged in.  No problem - 64MB from one of the C's, plug in the drive, remove BIOS password protect, and then sort out the software.  Done.

Next problem - getting it on Ms. Warukunai's desk!  The morning I finished getting the software kinks straightened out (the drive I had been using - pre-soaking - was my own personal part, so a drive that had been in a GXa went in - with the wrong drivers), I went over to Ms. Warukunai and told her the computer was set up, so was she ready for it to land on her desk?  The answer was no!  Apparently Mr. Aruchu had been by, and she had been told that it couldn't come from me, it had to come from Mr. Hetakuso, who happened to have called in sick on the morning I wrapped up the setup process.  Mr. Aruchu is just an idiot, but an idiot in top management (idiots in top management... problems in the company... hmm.... could there be a connection?), so she - being a good soldier and not up for a fight, meekly obeyed.  Irritating... I mean... I was in fact going through Mr. Hetakuso from the very beginning here, so Mr. Aruchu's allegation of insubordination was contrary to reality.  The interesting cultural thing here is where the missiles were fired - not at me directly, but at poor Ms. Warukunai in order to get at me.  I don't have anything good to say about this method of fighting, but certainly it's effective.  Hit someone who can't/won't fight back.  By terrorizing the staff who have anything to do with me, it becomes known that ostracizing me is the safest bet for self-preservation.  Mr. Lookingfor can be a friend because he's on his way out - August is his last month there.

Anyway - the next day rolled around, I reconfirmed with Mr. Hetakuso that it was cool to toss the G1 onto Ms. Warukunai's desk, which I then proceeded to do... while Mr. Aruchu gave me the evil eye - from a distance.  Our warfare is pretty open at times... with him having lied about me in front of the Prez on a couple of occasions, at which time I accused him of being a liar (he was/is), but usually he operates behind-the-scenes.     [Top of page]

"Enter the Occupational Safety and Health Administration"     [Top of page]

This ties in with the story above actually - as after initially thanking me for helping to get her a computer, Ms. Warukunai and Ms. Ahobaka were decidedly nasty yesterday (mostly Ms. Ahobaka), so I decided to take a long lunch to escape the poisonous atmosphere of that place and wander around in Akihabara for an hour or so.  While there, I couldn't resist buying a 128MB memory board (133MHz) for about $12 for the memory-less Dimension C at the company.....  See what I mean?  I just can't help myself!  (With Mr. Hetakuso's help, I was able to get the company to reimburse me.)  I felt decidedly better after a couple of hours away from that place, and when I got back.....

I sat down at my desk, and just as I was firing up my computer, Mr. Lookingfor motioned for me to follow him out of the room.  I caught up with him in front of the elevators and we went into the emergency stairwell to talk.  His eyes looked animated, so I was sure he had something interesting to say, and indeed he did.  "The people from J-OSHA came by while you were out".  Ah!.....  And... and...??  He related how he was unable to eavesdrop, but he had seen the two men who visited the office - holding a can of the spray-glue and pointing to the label while they talked with the Prez's older brother (Mr. Onisan).  "How long were they here?"  "... about thirty minutes".  Hmmm......  What happens next?  Other than Mr. Lookingfor, who already knew I went to J-OSHA, no one has said anything to me, but a couple of people seemed to be looking at me strangely.  They probably had no idea there was such an organization, and if they had known, they probably wouldn't have gone themselves.  The basic, fundamental problem here I think, is twofold - firstly, there is a lack of comprehension regarding how dangerous long-term exposure to toxic chemicals can be, and then there seems to be a lack of courage to fight that which is wrong.

Well... as I write this sentence at 5:45 a.m., I only have a few hours to wait before I see what Tuesday will bring.  First thing to do is to contact the man from J-OSHA who left a voice message for me to call.......

"Life can be difficult....."     [Top of page]

Subject: "Life can be difficult....."
Date: Sun, 1 Jul 2001  +0100
From:  SB/UK

I have not participated in the LL for many months now, mainly because of trouble in the family, but I have been reading and enjoying  everyone's contributions.

One day last November I got the phone call most people dread - my mother has been in an accident and is leaving in the ambulance now; will I meet them at the hospital.  How I drove through that rush-hour traffic I will never know, but I did.  Mum had had a fall (she is 78 but very independent and still driving and doing everything for herself) and had not been able to summon help - lying on the bedroom floor for approximately 16 hours till a neighbour raised the alarm the next day.  Yes she did have a phone nearby but couldn't get to it, and we had talked about her getting a personal alarm system to wear but had done nothing about it, and so it happened.  Initially, I didn't think for one moment it was serious, and apart from a very bruised face and cut to the head, I thought within a couple of days she'd be ok again.  But - oh no - not the case.  She had damaged her spinal cord.  They waited a few days to see if there was any improvement, but no, so eventually they operated to relieve the pressure, having no idea what the outcome would be.  She was not completely without movement, but not enough to do anything for herself.

So she was then transferred to a local community hospital, and here I will say we cannot fault them for their effort.  Six months later - after much physiotherapy and determination from herself, she is now home, as of Thursday.  She will never be the same as before, but can manage.  She has carers coming in four times a day, and we have all been amazed at the amount of care and help there is, plus the equipment one can get to help people in that situation.

So now you see my absence has had a reason, as life has been a mite busy, but I do hope that it will all calm down now.  Fingers crossed anyway.


"Not Thrilling, but Not Too Boring Either"     [Top of page]

Date:  Sat, 14 Jul 2001
From:  CBB

Things aren't too bad here - I could live without all the muggy weather we have been having.  We did finally have some rain yesterday, but too much too fast.  It doesn't soak into the dry spots as well, a nice slow all-day rain would be much better, but not during the next four days, as I really want to finish getting the stain on the deck - I hate looking at it half-done.  Aabbb starting putting up the fence tonight, which will also need to be stained, so I know what I will be doing for my next four days off.

We took off for five days, heading up to Edmonton to visit Aabbb's daughter and her ten month old baby.  It was our first trip up to see her since Bbccc was born - what a sweetheart (my granddaughter that is).  We took Ccddd, Ddeee, and Eefff with us.  Ccddd came away with the baby blues, she wants another baby now, but has too many things going on in her life for the next year to have one.  Took in the West Emonton Mall - one of the largest in the world.  It has an amusement park, water park and skating rink inside.  Ccddd took Ddeee skating for the first time in his life, and he loved it.  It seemed strange to see kids skating in summer clothes with the outside weather 90 instead of 40 below zero.  Also took in Drumheller to see the bad lads and the dinosaurs.  I love the museum they have there.  The temps were very hot, making being cooped up in a vehicle a bit stressful.

So - other than that, and being busy in my yard - that is about the extent of my life right now.  Not that thrilling, but not that boring either.  Like I said - I have the next four days off, so will spend it with paint can and brush in hand... I'm really starting to want to get this work done.  I bought a really nice set of lanterns for the deck, and want to get the patio furniture out there and enjoy the deck.

Well am off to bed as I have to work in the morning.


"Radioactive Mr. Aruchu"     [Top of page]
(July 31st, 2001  Yotsuya)

Midway to JW, Inc., I called the man from J-OSHA who left a voice message for me yesterday.  He was quite professional and polite, and he explained that when they came by the JW Inc. office, they had been careful not to mention my name at all - and that the company had given them verbal assurance that they would discontinue using the spray-glue by the end of August.  We'll see... if they don't, the man invited me to contact him again for further assistance.  I thanked him for his help, pushed the red button on my cell phone and finished the walk to JW, Inc.

I felt much easier after talking to the guy at the J-OSHA office, but still I came to work today half expecting someone to say something to me.  I suppose I should have known better.  For good or not, people like to avoid confrontations here, and so no one has said anything to me about it all (other than Mr. Lookingfor).  Doubtless they are all thinking that it was me... and Mr. Aruchu is so downright (silently) hostile (from a distance), that he is practically radioactive with what seems to be hate.  I think I had better watch my back around that guy now... not that I didn't need to already, but the level of his hostility seems to be a few notches higher than before.....  I'm tempted to laugh, but that's probably dangerous.

(August 1st  11:00 a.m.  Nishi-Shinjuku)  Last night, around 21:30, I received the following email from Ms. Manuke, who works closely with Mr. Aruchu......:

Subject: Proof
Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2001 18:37:17 +0900
From: manuke@prez.com
Organization: Prez Consulting, Ltd.
To: "Lyle Saxon" <saxon@prez.com>

To Mr. Saxon

Please proof the document named 'Abc Co Inc Report July 2001'. It is kept in the 'To Lyle' holder. If possible, finish the work until 2 o'clock Wednesday, thank you.

H Manuke

Never mind the English, the interesting thing about this e-mail is that it was sent at 6:37 p.m., after I had gone home for the day, and she is requesting that I "proof" (she should say "rewrite") a report (why does practically everyone in the company put spaces in their file names?), and finish it "until" (by) two o'clock today... which is the exact time I have come to the office every Wednesday for the entire time that Ms. Manuke has worked there - which is about a year I think!  I immediately saw Mr. Aruchu's face floating behind the e-mail... and could see a sort of movie clip of him complaining to the Prez: "We've got to do something about Lyle - I never know when he'll be in the office!  Just today I needed a report checked and he wasn't around!" etc. etc.  So... I sent the following e-mail off to Ms. Manuke

Subject: BestToSendViaEMailInEvening...
Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2001 21:05:37 +0900
From: Lyle Saxon <saxon@prez.com>
Organization: Prez Consulting, Ltd.
To: H Manuke <manuke@prez.com>
BCC: The Prez <prez@prez.com>,

Dear Ms. Manuke,

I see you sent this to me at 18:37.....

Generally, putting a file in the share folder on the company server is a great way to transfer files, but as this is Tuesday, and Wednesday is the day I come into the office at 14:00, you should have sent it via e-mail - that way I could have done it at home this evening... now.  But since you didn't send it to me, I can't do... wait a minute.  I'll try calling the company..........

............  I just spoke with Mr. Seiruzu... and he kindly agreed to send the file on to me......

..........  I received it!  Ok, now I can check the file at home and send it to you tonight, so you'll have it no problem tomorrow!

For next time however, if the deadline is tight, it is best to both put the file in the share folder and to send it to me via e-mail.



All mundane office politics... but what I wonder time and again, is what in the world would I have done without e-mail?!  The only reason I'm able to return fire in that war zone is thanks to e-mail (and shared files)!  From the radioactive field around him yesterday, I think Mr. Aruchu will be trying especially hard to make trouble for me... but on the other hand, I now know very well that he is not to be trusted (after several incidents - not just this one), so he'll find me a more difficult target than I've been in the past.  I think what has the guy really steamed this time is that I've exposed his lie about the spray-glue and thus embarrassed him in the company - a very serious issue in Japan!  He was going around telling everyone that the glue was safe - when in walk two men from a federal agency who say the company is violating the law by using toxic substances with no safeguards of any kind.  What's he going to say?  It doesn't matter if the company agrees with the law - the fact is, outsiders (with the law on their side) are getting involved, which carries the potential of embarrassing the company... embarrassing the company.....  It's difficult to convey how serious that is in a western context.  People really really hate being embarrassed here.  Everybody does for sure - the world over - but it carries an added dimension in Japan.......

Incidentally, in case you're wondering what I'm doing in Nishi-Shinjuku right now...  I didn't have to be at the factory today, but I've already arranged with the company (over a year ago) that I come in late once a week - every Wednesday, and so I'm hanging on to that one!  No sense going into the war zone when you don't have to!     [Top of page]

"Changed After Marriage"     [Top of page]

Subject: Good Morning
Date: Sun, 15 Jul 2001  -0000
From: PBU [Pakistan / UK]

Sunday morning here in Jersey... the weather is partly cloudy.  I'm on duty here at the hospital for 24 hours, and tomorrow I have a day off.  As I mentioned, Queen Elisabeth visited my city this weekend.  She visits Jersey Island once every ten years.  I didn't get a chance to see her because I was on duty in the hospital.  Anyway, I probably wouldn't have seen her even if I was free.  I don't think I would get a pay rise by shaking hands with her (hahahahaha) but I'm happy with my salary anyway!  And then the 27th of July is approaching, which is travelling time.  I'm flying to Pakistan for two weeks to visit with my parents and other family members.  I visit them every year (although I would like to go every six months).  My brother is the only member of the family I haven't seen for many years - he lives in Canada and I last saw him in 1994.  He's too busy to go home and see his parents, too busy to talk to me, and too busy to write me a letter.  The main reason for this happens to be his wife - she's never gotten along with my family very well, and she does what she can to keep her and my brother away from the rest of the family.  If I visit Canada in the future - to see Niagara Falls or something - I'm not very likely to see my brother in Canada (mainly for the above reason)... I might see him if I travel alone - after all he's my brother.  But if I'm travelling with my wife and children, there's no way I would be able to see that family.  His wife and my wife just don't get along.  Well, I'm glad he's happy with his wife, and I hope they can live together happily, but I also wish that he would remember his elder brother.  I only have one brother, and I still remember our childhood together.  I'm glad all three of my sisters still keep in touch with me.  The five of us are scattered in quite different places - Canada, Jersey and Qatar.  Long distances don't really matter as long as we remember each other.


I've mostly given up on my two older brothers myself, but I (and the rest of the family) went through a similar situation with both of my brothers after they got married.  It was almost as though their spouses were worried that they would be taken away by the family?  I don't know what it was exactly, but in any case, the relationship suddenly changed!  Particularly in the case of one of my brothers... from the very first time I met his wife, we didn't get along at all.  The result being that now there is no contact between myself and that brother.  Like PBU says above, I hope they have a good marriage, etc., but it would also be nice if my brother remembered that we also have a relationship as brothers, and to my thinking, it's shouldn't be a case of "either this one, or that one", but both relationships ought to be able to coexist independently.  I would think there wouldn't be any problem, particularly as we're living in different countries, but I suppose that's the reason.....  Whatever the reason, if my brother's wife has put him in the position of "choosing" between me or her, of course he has to choose his wife, but where/why the contest??  I don't understand the situation very well... whatever it is, I don't like it!     [Top of page]

"If it Sounds too Good/Bad to be True..."     [Top of page]

I've been approached via e-mail twice now with the same scam.  In both cases, the letter that dropped into my computer from out of a dark and stormy sky starts off purporting to be from a widow of a rich man in Africa.  The story in both letters is that he left her several million dollars - which she is now hiding - and that for her to safely get it out of the country, she is asking if I'll help by letting her transfer the money into my account.  In the one of the letters, the author seems to be counting on a certain dishonest bent in the reader for a lure, and in the other letter, it says that she'll give me 15% of the total for my help.  The interesting thing about both letters is the response I got when I wrote back saying "I'd like to help, but what do I need to do exactly?".  In both cases, they wrote back asking for my bank account number, as well as my phone and fax numbers.  In one case, they also asked for my work phone and fax numbers.

In both cases, it's very obviously a scam, but what I wonder is - is it really possible to steal someone's deposits simply by getting ahold of their bank account, phone, and fax numbers?  There must be a little more to it than that, but obviously having that information is something some criminally minded people out there want.  It goes without saying I'm sure, but don't give out that kind of information to strangers who drop out of a stormy sky!  The dark side of computers I suppose.  It's convenient to be able to do banking from home, but without the face-to-face part of the transaction.....

"Re: N-Hexane"     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: LL-300
Date: Sun, 15 Jul 2001  -0400 (EDT)
From: CLM  [US]

I read LL-300 with many thoughts going through my head...

I am the kind of person that has to have fresh air - going to the big city is just like going into a big canyon of tall buildings with air that is thick with who knows what.

Here in my little country home, the early months of spring find me with air that is yellow... cars and driveways are covered with yellow tree pollen.  It is horrid for my nose, eyes and lungs, so I stay indoors with the a/c turned on...

When I went to a craft class... no matter what the weather was outdoors, we had to do any spraying of paint, varnish, etc. outside - we were never allowed to work with oil paints or solvents indoors.

It is bad enough that all the chemicals we do use indoors and/or outdoors pollute our air - it doesn't just vanish after all.....

So my friend, keep up the good fight - keep at the guys with the colorful names (Grin), and keep your office air clean.


Subject: Hexane
Date: Sun, 15 Jul 2001  -0500
From: CPK  [US]

What I have experienced with Hexane....  My husband used to be an extraction operator in a soybean processing plant.  Hexane is what they use to extract the oil from the soybeans.  He was exposed to it constantly for several years.  The fumes make you light-headed, and sometimes would cause him headaches.  Other than that, he blames all the depression he had on the shift work... but I wonder?  His conclusion was that the hexane didn't really affect him.  He said that the Material Safety Data Sheets say that it does not cause leukemia (I wonder where they get their info?).  I definitely observed an effect on my husband that I know for sure was caused by the hexane.  It was the effect on his hair.  His hair would look dull and dry/strawlike, but would have an excessive oil output.  It was thinning rapidly too.  When he got his new job in February, almost immediately I noticed and commented repeatedly about the improvement in his hair.  It's stopped thinning and it's back to it's old bouncy shiny self again.

I'm sure this bit of info probably won't reach you in time for your Monday meeting, but I have to kind of chuckle when I imagine all those miserable people who could care less about subtracting years from their life - but if you just mention the hair loss, they'll likely quickly scramble to correct the problem.  Guess misery and vanity go hand in hand.


Subject: Re: LL-300 & n-Hexane
Date: Mon, 16 Jul 2001  -0500
From: HHE  [US]

Handbook of Dangerous Chemicals is (or was) an excellent reference on toxic levels of various chemicals.  The glue to which you refer would be dangerous, in my estimation, if the exposure is regular and noticeable.  I don't know if Japan has a comparable agency to the US's OSHA, but I would certainly think it would.  N-Hexane was a normal item that was being loaded in bulk while I was present at terminals in the Houston area during the period 1959-1968.  There were no fume containment programs back then, but there are now.  I don't know if that chemical had any bearing, or not, on the fact that I have just been diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy.  It may just be a collection of all the chemicals to which I was exposed during my years in the plant as a lab worker and then as a process engineer, there as an interested observer at the loading of bulk lubricant additives at the terminals - during which time there were a lot of other chemicals being loaded or unloaded to/from ships or barges.  I recall one 40 hour session during which molasses was being unloaded - it was several years before I could stand to smell molasses.  Pure molasses has a high viscosity and must be heated to a high temperature to allow pumping and the smell was definitely pervasive.


Subject: Toxic air.
Date: Fri, 3 Aug 2001  +0100
From: PJA  [Portugal]

Hi, I hope that you are breathing cleaner air in your workplace by now.  I just read about the toxic mess in Japan - this magazine was saying that Japan has some of the highest levels of industrial pollution in the developed world.  According to environmentalists, when the wind blows, dust tainted with PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyl), toxic byproducts of several industrial processes- billows skyward.  It is a real scare... seems one gram of dioxin could potentially cause cancer in as many as 10.000 people, PCBs are equally hazardous - both substances can impair the immune system, sexual function and learning ability, as well cause cancer.  Yokohama, an industrial city 25 kilometers from Tokyo is one of the worst cities, they say the area is very heavily polluted with toxins and heavy metal, zinc, lead and mercury.  There is no thought of prevention, admitting a problem implies bearing the responsibility for it, so as long as there is not a big accident, nobody takes action.  As I was reading this, I thought about your situation with the spray glue.....  I hope this helps you instead of scaring... but maybe the only escape will be to move to some other country (just a joke).

Take care.


(2001/08/03  2:22 a.m.)  J-OSHA came by on Monday, and as of Thursday, Mr. Aruchu hasn't spoken to me.  Meanwhile, the spraying within the office goes on.  Mr. Aruchu's defense of it is his lie that the air intake for the recirculating air system is an "exhaust fan".  I just hope he physically collapses in the office, and then is taken to a hospital where they tell him he has acute hexane gas poisoning or some such brick-in-the-face that he can not ignore, then the situation would change - immediately.  But I hope for too much!  All I can do at this point is continue to explore the legal situation and limit my exposure to that office as much as possible.  Partly in that frame of mind, I convinced Mr. Hetakuso to sign for the money to pick up some more memory boards, and then spent 90 minutes picking up another three 128MB boards in Akihabara.  Considering the low price of memory ($12-$15 for 128MB), the company really should be buying 256MB boards, but upping several people's computer memory from 64MB to 128MB is certainly better than nothing.  (One 128MB board ups two 64MB machines to 128MB by pulling the 64MB board from one computer to go in the other, and putting the 128MB board in the empty machine.)

(2001/08/04  14:00)  PCBs...  After reading the letter from PJA, I am reminded that I very much want to escape the toxicity of Tokyo air.  Before coming to Japan, I had imagined Yokohama as a completely different city, but if you take the Tokaido Line from Tokyo Station to Yokohama Station, there is no break in the buildings all the way there... it's all one big city!  Tokyo and Yokohama are connected!  I was surprised to read that Yokohama is considered to be especially bad though... at least they get more air off of the ocean down there... I think... I thought!  There was a television documentary about the shinkansen trains (called the "bullet train" by tourists... only by tourists), and one of the people that they interviewed, a man who commutes every day from Mishima (a city name, not Hiraoka Kimitake), explained that he and his family had moved there for the air.  Their son had asthma in Tokyo, and their doctor recommended that they move to somewhere with unpolluted air.  Mishima is 120km down the coast... and costs Y4,600 one-way by shinkansen.  Ouch.  Something like $80 a day to commute!  It takes just 46 minutes though... sort of like air travel on rails.  I would like to do something like that myself - if I could only afford the transportation costs.     [Top of page]

"HBO & A Fire"     [Top of page]

Subject: Dose of MMH  07/20/01
Date: Fri, 20 Jul 2001  -0800
From: MMH  [US]

This week just flew by.  I barely got anything done of the long list of projects that I had planned.  But given that we all set high goals for ourselves and only occasionally reach them, I am not going to beat myself up about them.

There is a show on HBO (Home Box Office - a pay for premium television channel) called "Six Feet Under".  It is a very good show, and a friend was kind enough to tape a few episodes for us since we are not subscribers to that premium service.  Well, we love the show so much that we are seriously considering subscribing now.  But we are torn.  We feel that we watch enough television already.  Do we really need to pay more money to watch more?  What makes this and other shows different, is that the writing is top notch and there is no censorship of the material that is being written.  The open air channels have to rely on advertising revenue for their support, and the advertising clients often dictate what is placed on the air.  It is a form of censorship.

There is a huge fire over by Aabbb's house.  A tall pile of junk in a scrap yard caught fire and they say that it will burn for days.  The area in which the fire is centered is very industrial.  There are lots of large oil, gas and petrol tanks nearby.  So that has the firemen very busy making sure the fire does not spread.  But the scrap heap is made out of old cars, which contain plastics and rubber that take a long time to burn, and also burn very hot.

Last night I went to a meeting of a group called Toastmasters.  The club's purpose is to help its members become better public speakers.  I do a lot of public speaking, and I still get all clamped up when I talk.  I have seen some of my business associates go to Toastmasters - and their speaking has improved dramatically.  So, it looks like it would be a good thing for me - especially with the Convention coming up in November in which I am going to be leading a workshop.  I'm planning to go back in two weeks when they meet again - and join then.


"Amnesia"     [Top of page]

Subject: Amnesia
Date: Mon, 30 Jul 2001  -0500
From: CPK  [US]

I thought I might sit down now and tell you about the new experience I had this weekend.  Amnesia and concussion.

I was riding the neighbors' horse, Aabbb.  She is a lovely horse with a good disposition and a very pleasant and smooth gait.

She has one small quirk, the tendency to buck in a run.  "Just gotta hold the head up."  I was riding with three other people.  Things were going great and we enjoyed some good frolic (taking precautions to keep her head up and avoid bucking).  She didn't seem to have any ornery inclinations at all so we got into a really good hard run and just that quick I was airborne and descended face first onto the ground, reigns still in hand.  Ugh!  Caught my breath (no great pain) got up, stumbled down, noticed bad nausea thought I might throw up, got up again, was woozy, it was hard to stand and I had a sick stomach.  Got to get on horse.  First, find shoe.  Found shoe, got on horse and returned to camp.

Next thing I knew, I was sitting in a lawn chair with an ice pack on the back of my neck wondering why so many pieces where missing from my memory.  Who had I been riding with?  Where did I fall?  How did I get back to camp?  Why was one of my white socks so muddy?  Who is this horse standing behind me?  (Not the one I had been riding.  Bbccc took that one right away to see if she would try that stunt again)  As I sat and visited with the people I was camping with (fortunately, two of them are nurses) bits and pieces of memory began to come back to me until I could pretty much remember most details of the incidence.  Later they were talking about when I first returned to camp and how I was confused when asked what day/month/year it was.  Funny, I don't remember them asking me those kinds of questions.

I'm fine - I just have a very stiff & sore neck and headache.  Went to the chiropractor this AM, so that will speed the healing.  The camping trip was all around very good.  Even this experience I would say was more interesting to me than annoying.  I never really felt any fear or great pain.  Unpacking seems to be the difficulty now, as it hurts a lot today.  I'll have to let you know how nine hours of cutting hair goes tomorrow.  I'm not too worried as long as I don't have to do any heavy lifting.


"The Joy of Language Teaching"     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: 'Words, Culture, & Desire', LL-301
Date: Sun, 22 Jul 2001
From: Yo/Gr  [US / Japan]

[About non-serious students of a foreign language.]  Yes, yes!!!  I have often had the exact same thoughts on my mind!  I have several classes of adults who complain to me that they have 'studied' English for years and do not see improvement.  It's interesting how when I ask if they study at home, they quickly reply that they are too busy.  Some of these people must use English on the job, and some are learning for fun, but the excuse of no time is really BS.  I know for a fact they have time, as they have time to watch TV, and many of them drive to work.  When I suggest they listen to tapes while driving and watch movies (in English) instead of TV.  I usually get a kind of 'Hum... I will try that' - more BS!  The people who really study, even only 10 minutes a day, soon show improvement.  The rest are of the opinion that either English is just tough for Japanese people, or that one hour a week will magically make them native speakers.  I like the kids classes - although I must put up with all sorts of BS, at least I can see the improvement.  Anyway, the real problem with the 'conversation' class idea is that most people don't have anything at all interesting to say.  "How was your week?" "I went to work.", wow, that's great.  Interests - none, vacation - onsen [hot spring resort] (the same one year after year)... oh, did I nod off??  Oops!  Well, enough of that, your letter must have triggered something!  You will send a book here??


The book!  The fact that e-mail sails through the wires with a single mouse click (well... ok... a few mouse clicks) has made regular mail seem like this vast difficult process of writing the address by hand(!), having to put postage on the package(!) which is different from country to country(!), and then having to carry it(!) to an outside mailbox(!).  The joking use of exclamation marks aside, I really do have a difficult time getting myself to get something in the mail sometimes.  I think I promised Yo/Gr that I'd send him the "The LL-Letters" book months ago... oops.  Soon Yo/Gr, soon!

"Back to Hong Kong"     [Top of page]

Subject: I'm off soon... :)
Date: Sat, 21 Jul 2001  +0100
From: EWT  [Hong Kong / UK]

I'm now back home and will be off soon on Sunday - to Hong Kong!!!  Yes, to HK!!!  I'm sooo excited!!!:)  So you guys won't be seeing me online for a while.

See you all when I get back to the UK!

EWT  ;)

"Truth is Stranger than Fiction..."     [Top of page]

Subject: Dose of MMH  07/27/01
Date: Fri, 27 Jul 2001
From: MMH  [US]

Wednesday was my luncheon with the Graphic Artists Guild.  The luncheons are a very busy time for me.  I am usually smoozing with potential new members and getting caught up with the designers and friends that I rarely see outside of the luncheon.  Mainly because being a freelancer lends itself to isolation, but also because I live in another town, I don't get to see these folks as much as I would like.  I always feel that I am neglecting somebody.  This luncheon had me particularly busy as I was helping our speaker set up and get the projector working with my laptop.  The guy from the projector store was helping out and we actually got another older projector working with the laptop.  That was great, as it means we can probably get the projector to use through an exchange of logo on our chapter's website and mention in the postcard mailings.

The really big thing at the meeting was seeing Aabbb Bbccc.  She is the designer I did my internship with in order to graduate from college, over 15 years ago.  So she knew me when I was some forty pounds lighter and just a skinny kid starting to learn the business.  I sat at her table and we had a fun time talking before the speaker started.  The lunch was lasagna.  The meetings ended on time, and I was able to get back to Tacoma within an hour, normally an hour and a half drive in rush hour traffic.

Tragedy again this week.  My Aunt Ccddd ended up visiting the hospital after her boyfriend hit her.  She was a bit disoriented and could not remember the names of her daughters.  However, the staff at the hospital plied her maiden name out of her and called the nearest Ddeee in the phone book.  Thankfully my sister-in-law Eefff was home.  She called my mother, who sent my father to the hospital.  Then she called me because I have the most current information on everyone.  I gave her phone numbers and e-mail addresses.  Mom then contacted the daughters, who then went to the hospital.  Somewhere in there the boyfriend was found dead at my aunt's house - an apparent suicide.  I then sent out an e-mail to the uncles and aunts whose e-mail addresses I had, and an e-mail to my siblings.  More news on that next week.

My brother Ffggg wrote back to me.  He is the one who tried for a seat in the legislature last year and did not get elected.  Having neither wife nor children, he has decided that being a young man - he can still do something carefree.  So, he accepted an offer on his house, is placing all his stuff in storage and plans on spending the next year traveling around the word.  He leaves in the first week of September.

MMH     [Top of page]

"There's Flooding, and then there's Flooding....."     [Top of page]

Date: Sun, 29 Jul 2001
From: PBU  [Pakistan / UK]

I'm here in Pakistan now - home sweet home -  with my parents.  It's not as hot as I was expecting, in fact it's pleasant here.  People have waited long enough for the rains... it was very near to becoming a drought and famine, but eventually we were blessed with some heavy rains, which were welcome in most areas, but not Rawalpindi (only five miles away from my house).  There were heavy floods and more than 100 people drowned there.  I remember watching news (in the UK) about flooding in England last year.  Everything is relative I suppose, and for me, I thought that just a couple of feet of water flowing on some roads, a little property damage, and no fatalities wasn't much of anything to be overly concerned with.  I pondered this as I flew over the flooded area in Pakistan, where I could see miles and miles of flooded land from the aircraft window.

I remember the last tragedy which happened in this unfortunate city - the big explosions at the ammunition depots of Rawalpindi, which killed hundreds of innocent people walking on the streets.  I was there and I dealt with many of those casualties in the hospital I was working at, which was only a few miles away from the site.  (I live in Islamabad which is only 14 km from Rawalpindi.)

Right now it is the middle of the night and I'm the only (lonely) one awake.  There is some shopping to be done in the morning, including Ovaltine, dental floss, a packet of French Leathers, some bottles of Pakola, deodorant spray and safety razors.


"California Weather"     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: LL-302
Date: Mon, 30 Jul 2001  -0500
From: HHE  [US]

I hesitate to invoke old California memories for you, but, having just returned from there, I am compelled to tell you what a great visit we had.  Our California son and his twin boys had birthdays in July; his was the 40th and theirs was the 2nd.  These were his first children.  (Of course, we told him we wanted to see him, too!)  Although he has somewhat of a linebacker mentality (intelligent and aggressive), I marvel at how good a father he is.  To see a 6'-5", 230 lb. man, who has always been a risk-taker, change dirty diapers, talk gently to the boys, play with them, do the washing, cooking, vacuuming plus doing all the "manly" things, it just boggles my mind.  I thought I was a fairly good parent, although that might be pushing it, but watching him makes me know he has outclassed me in the parenting field.  And that makes me very proud.  If one of the boys, or both, turn out to be like him, it will be the "Parent's Curse" - you know what your mom probably said and my mom did say, "You just wait - you're going to have one just like you!"

As far as the weather was concerned, it was simply beautiful.  As it was July, we expected it to be pretty warm, but it was in the 60's nearly every night and in the high 70's or low 80's during the day.  On our last night, it was in the 70's until about 5 AM, then got down into the high 60's.  When we deplaned in Houston at 6:15 PM, it was 89 and that was probably the percent humidity, too.

Hasta la vista!


I do miss the weather in California.  I miss a lot about California actually.  I need to get back more often.......

"Things are Going So-So for Me"     [Top of page]

Subject: "HI!"
Date: 3 Aug 2001
From: KWV  (Virginia, US)

Hi!  I hope everything is going well with you!  Sorry I haven't written in a while.  Things are going so-so for me.  I'm looking to change jobs right now because the people I work for are jerks who don't know how to treat their employees fairly!  Unfortunately, due to them also, I won't be attending school this semester.  I was really looking forward to going, too.  Oh well, everything happens for a reason, right?

Well, it's like almost 1:30 a.m. & I'm getting sleepy.  So, I'd better be going now.  Take care.


"For a Thousand Years"     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: LL-302 / Millionaire
Date: Wed, 1 Aug 2001
From: HYC  [Hong Kong]

Dear Sir,

Hee hee~ this is my first time to write something in here for you~ (although I've received your LL-Letter for a thousands years ^.^ hee hee) [since October 1998] so I'm still so excited!!!  I've been living in Hong Kong since I was born.  I'm newly graduated from a technical institute (IVE).  Thankfully, I've found a pretty good job already.

The topic I want to talk about is the show "Millionaire", from Britain.  I don't know if it's popular in your country, but I can tell you that it's super popular here ~ everyone has been discussing the show since one of the local TV broadcasting companies here began showing it.  Everybody, including me, is sitting in front of the TV at the same time everyday.  Do you think we are all crazy? ^.^  Maybe it's a wind of a new trend!


Best Wishes,


I remember something about either that show, or a similar one that some people wrote to me before, but I've never seen that kind of a show myself.

Well.... it's Saturday, and I want to wrap this one up and get out into the Saturday summer evening!  There's a (fairly) nearby festival that I think I'll check out.

Sore dewa!,

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon
Images Through Glass

Nishi-Shinjuku, Tokyo
August 4th, 2001
[Top of page]