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August 22nd, 2001
"Titanium Smiles & Day Trips"
"Countries Within a Country" by CPK
"August 25th, 2001"
"Are You an Idiot? Yes? Then Trust Us!"
"Summer 2001" by KCM
"Flying in B-29's and PBM's" by HHE
"To Rose" by APP
"Names & History" by SAJ & LHS
"The Battle - The Outcome?"
"You Need More People(?!)"
"Books & Cookies" by KCM
"A Great Evening" by SAJ
"Regarding Music" by RWD
"WW-II Aircraft" by HHE
"Titanium Smiles & Day Trips" [Top of page]
I took a few days off from work last week - coinciding with the (O)bon holiday - a Buddhist observance honoring the spirits of ancestors, generally observed in July, but sometimes - as in Tokyo - in August. The (O)bon period and New Year's are the two times of the year when members of a family make an effort to all come together in their hometown, so a lot of people living in Tokyo travel back to whatever city they're originally from both now and in January. I wouldn't have minded jetting back to California myself, but alas! I only had enough money for train fare within Tokyo and Yokohama. Officially, the company allowed all the employees to take three days of for (O)bon and I recently discovered that as an employee (even though I'm officially an "arubaito" - what is inaccurately translated into English as "part time worker") who's been working there for more than a year, I'm entitled to ten days of... "yukyukyuka" which means paid time off. I don't want to use the word "vacation", as most people are very nervous about taking it in a lump sum, and instead take off one day here and two days there... and often don't use all ten days (or whatever they're entitled to) in an entire year. I'm taking three days of mine off this week, and people are probably grumbling about my doing so at this very moment back in the war zone. Ms. Hone took a week off to get married, and - being prim and proper - when she returned, she had the customary two boxes of "(o)miage" (sloppily translated as "souvenirs") for the office staff (omiage tend to be something sweet, very often chocolate), she immediately zapped off an e-mail thanking everyone for being so kind as to allow her so much time off, and as soon as Mr. Zangyo, and later the Prez, came in, she dutifully marched into their offices with her titanium flight attendant smile (she worked as a flight attendant for ANA for six or seven years) and profusely thanked them for allowing her to take so much time off to get married... and yes, thanks to them, everything went very well, thankyouthankyouthankyou. .....................
There are typhoon warnings on the television right now... for "Typhoon #11". They number them here, and find it strange that hurricanes are given people's names in the US....
The company held a meeting (to which I was not invited - Mr. Lookingfor filled me in later however) about the spray glue. They finally told the assembled group that people from J-OSHA had been by, and that they would be visiting again this week. They also brought up the possibility of testing for the people who do the spraying. All well and good, but everyone is ignoring the fact that the poison they spray into the air is then re-recirculated throughout the office and only very gradually - over a period of several hours - begins to dissipate. What to do..... I called one of the men who had visited the office previously, and arranged to meet with him again yesterday. We discussed the situation for a little over an hour, and I repeatedly brought up the fact that the issue goes well beyond the two people who most often directly use the spray, and affects literally every living, breathing soul in the office. He was good enough to give me a copy of the laws and regulations (at my request), which I later passed a copy of to Ms. Ahobaka, who has asthma and, while not having the courage to stand up and strongly oppose the poisoning of the office air, is definitely concerned about the situation and would like them to stop using that stuff. Possibly due to my meeting with the man at J-OSHA, their visit to the office has been postponed until next week.
And so here I am off again... and looking
forward to some more day trips in and around Tokyo. Even so,
train fare is running dangerously low. [Top of page]
"Countries Within a Country" [Top of page]
Subject: a trip to New York
Date: Sun, 12 Aug 2001 -0500
From: CPK [US]
The United States is diverse geographically and culturally from east to west, and also from north to south. I wonder how many other countries seem as though there are countries within a country? I grew up in the south central state of Texas and then moved to the upper-Midwest at the age of 19. It seemed like such a cultural shock. People's last names seemed so different, as well as hair styles, clothes, attitudes, and interests. I remember a trip I took to New York at that time.....
I was dating a truck driver and I got to ride in the semi with him to New York and then as far as Maine. I had been to a number of large cities before - Houston, Chicago, Dallas, San Diego, Denver, and Toronto, to name a few. New York seemed so different... it was so crowded and there was the evidence of gangs marking their territory with graffiti, which looked like incredibly artistic, sophisticated and consistent "logos". I thought: "Boy, if you could take these kids off the streets and give them all jobs as graphic artists...!" It was evening, and we were scheduled to pick up a load at an early hour in Long Island. We decided to find our pick up location so we would be prompt and ready in the morning. On the way, we stopped at a convenience store in a foreboding looking poor neighborhood, so I stayed in the truck with the doors locked. While my friend was inside, the doors to the store were automatically locked after a kid was seen trying to steal condoms and the police where called. Finally, my friend came out with the address of the place we were to pick up at in the morning.
Now we had all evening to kill time, and since we were not near any truck stops, we figured it would be best to just find some place to park the truck for the night as close to our pick up spot as possible. We drove slowly down a boulevard in a very run down neighborhood. It reminded me of what we used to call "ghetto" back in the 70's and would probably be referred to now as a "project". It was crowded, old, dirty, and run-down. In one area, the only visible people where black so we figured it might be better for us not to stop where we would be so conspicuous. It might not have mattered, but it seemed like the right idea at the time. A little further down, the neighborhood appeared to consist of all... Hispanic? Italian? I'm not sure. Dark skin and Dark hair. We felt a little safer and less conspicuous even though we were both blonde, ha. Anyway, we found a small bar with a parking lot just big enough for a semi-truck and maybe even something interesting to do with our evening if we dared to venture out.
It was still a very rough looking neighborhood, so we crept into the bar like timid mice. We just sat quietly taking in all the conversations around us, but almost afraid to even speak to each other. There was a 20 year old kid on the pay phone with greased back hair, a white, frilly tuxedo dress shirt hanging open and more gold chains than "Mr. T"... I thought: "... has to be a drug dealer". Well, I was wrong. The conversations closest to us around the bar were about auto mechanics and so my friend kind of eased his way into the conversation. As time went on, we got to know and visit with everyone in the place. They were so nice! It was like a small community where everyone knew everyone (other than we two outsiders) and they were so friendly. We passed out some good cigars we had picked up in Toledo and played pool and darts with these locals until 4AM! The kid on the phone? Just a college student working at radio shack, with a strange fashion sense. I'm so glad to have had the opportunity to visit New York - not from the touristic viewpoint, but to have come in personal contact with some of the real occupants.
CPK [Top of page]
"August 25th, 2001" [Top of page]
I finally got out of Tokyo for a few days...
and even up to a mystic temple deep in the mountains and not overrun
with tourists from Tokyo (and elsewhere). Up there in a spot of
beauty far from the concrete... and without my camera! Upon
returning from the mountain, I could only muse "Maybe it really
is a mystic temple - that doesn’t want it’s photo taken... "
Whatever - some things are better left in the memory only and not
enshrined in a camera anyway. I’m writing this from an
acquaintances place about two hours from Tokyo (by train). I’ll
be going back to the concrete jungle soon. I’m a little
nervous about what’s going to happen next week though.....
"Are You an Idiot? Yes? Then Trust Us!" [Top of page]
I’ve been getting a lot of junk mail
lately... including a lot of scam mail out fishing for fools. A
couple of examples:
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[Top of page]
"Summer 2001" [Top of page]
Subject: [No Subject]
Date: Mon, 13 Aug 2001
From: KCM [US]
............... Life in the apartment is good. I'm thinking about heading home in a week or two because I am not currently attending summer school. I finished my summer session and am very relieved and hopeful that I got at least a B. I learned to appreciate Anglo-Saxon and Chaucer in Middle English and the genius of Milton.
Summer has also consisted of lazy days, many daydreams, cartoons (Batman Beyond) and parties that didn't quite work out as planned. I think that I am mellow, but restless..... I think that this summer I've written the most in unsent letters, random journals, and scraps of paper.
I've been making up captions to go along with my drawings. I started doing that while working as paste-up artist for the school paper. As paste-up artist, I make sure the lines are straight and the paper looks good. I thought I was perfect for the job because I had my own X-acto knife.....
I also joined the Land Mail Arts Object thing at www.nervousness.org. It's pretty neat - you have journals or boxes and send them to complete strangers and have them fill things in. There is no real way to regulate this, so it takes a lot of trust on all sides to get the things completed. I got my first one a few days ago and I just sent it off today.
Slowly I am learning to cook. Last time I made stir fry veggies and fried rice and eggs. Next time I think I will try making pan fried noodles. Yum.
"Flying in B-29's and PBM's" [Top of page]
Subject: Re: LL-304
Date: Tue, 14 Aug 2001 -0500
From: HHE (Texas/US)
Reading the story of autobiographies and, in particular, the one by Col. Morgan about the fire bombing of Tokyo brought back postwar memories. No, I wasn't on any of those raids, but my brother was. Both of us were in the service and both of us were flying radiomen - he in the US AAF flying in B-29's and I was an aerial gunner/radioman in the US Navy flying in PBM's... After the war, and since, in occasional conversations we have talked about our experiences. He started out in B-29's flying from a place in India with the 20th Air Force. They would fly to Chentgu in China, gas up and bomb up (load up with bombs), then fly missions. Their range was limited to southern Japan, Singapore, etc. The expenditure of gas and the wear and tear on the planes was tremendous. They were flying across the "Hump" (the Himalayas) and the supply problem with gas was such that it required three (3) gallons of aviation fuel (expended) to bring in one gallon for the B-29's. General Curtis LeMay (later of Strategic Air Command fame, took over and shortly thereafter shut down the operation and transferred the 20th to Tinian Island, in the Mariana Islands. Before LeMay, they had sometimes radar bombed from 40,000 feet and had very little success. LeMay eventually had them bombing from 5,000 feet and that was the altitude for the Tokyo fire bombing mission. My brother said he was in the second wave and they had to use radar because of the tremendous amount of smoke and flames. A few B-29's were lost because of the updrafts flipping the planes over and the crews being unable to recover because of the low altitude. I've read accounts of the Tokyo raids and the same type of raid on Hamburg and can only imagine how horrendous it was. The raid on Coventry, England was the same type of raid. I've visited Coventry and went to one church which was burned out with only the brick walls still partially standing. And that leads to another tale. If you ever hear of a book called "Ultra", that tells of how the English were able to get one of the German cryptographic machines (courtesy of Polish prisoners of the Germans, I believe) which allowed them to intercept a large number of German messages. One told of the plans for a massive raid on Coventry. Prime Minister Winston Churchill had to make the agonizing decision to allow only a normal interception of the German bombers and Coventry was leveled. To do otherwise would have meant the Germans would certainly have known their message system was compromised. Churchill's decision allowed them to transmit information on a number of German moves. Among them was information on how German General Rommel was going to position his forces to try to take Alexandria, Egypt. General Montgomery was then able to position his forces exactly and drive Rommel back. It was a decisive win for the British and a major victory for the Allies.
How glad I am that I was not a general or admiral, or a line officer leading men into battle, having to make decisions that would cause 10% or 15% casualties, and the estimates almost always were low, of the forces being committed (and knowing you hoped to inflict double or triple that number of casualties on the enemy). I am proud of those who were able to do so - in most cases, not all. It was a long time ago - so long ago that I sometime wonder if those things really happened or did I just imagine it all. I am glad my son did not have to participate in a war and I hope my grandsons never have to go. But I know that freedom isn't free and that we came perilously close to losing because we weren't prepared. I hope that lesson is not forgotten - ever.
HHE [Top of page]
"To Rose" [Top of page]
Subject: Re: LL-304
Date: Wed, 15 Aug 2001
From: APP [Australia]
Just read LL304 and felt I had to comment on the wonderful and moving letter from Rose (US).
There were times I felt I was reading about my own life. It may help Rose to know that someone else has experienced the same pain. All I can say is that while we may not forget, time does indeed heal and I believe we do become stronger by learning from those experiences. Please send on to Rose my heartfelt wishes, and I hope she will believe that there are positives in the negatives, and life does get better.
[Top of page]
(August 27th, 2001 Late Night in Nishi-Shinjuku)
It was an interesting day today... it got off to an irritating start when I got out to the pick-up point for the early morning factory job I have (just an hour some mornings before going into the war zone at the Jungle Warfare Office). From there I grumblingly reboarded a train and headed nervously into combat. As I imagined, it was not long in coming after my arrival at the office. The Prez called me into his office and complained about a letter that I knew would cause some friction, yet also knew had to be written. Never mind the details, but suffice it so say that I took the middle ground between the JW Office and a new prospective client in order to tie together two trends that were headed in opposite directions. Overall, I still think the letter had to be written, but I also understand why it would be irritating for Prez to read.....
Next item on Prez's agenda... J-OSHA's visit
to the company. "Someone contacted them... maybe you..."
he said, before launching into a speech about how I should ask him if
it's alright to contact an organization like that before actually
doing so..... I practically took that part in with my mouth
hanging open in amazement/amusement - running a quick video in my
head of me doing just that:
Me: "Mr. Prez, due to your obvious complete disregard for the health of your employees, I would like to ask your permission to go for outside help to force you to take our health into consideration."
Prez: "Good idea! I
don't care what happens to you drones after all - ha-ha-ha!"
"I guess he really does think people are stupid...", thought I. But my merriment was cut short when he started in on the same lies about the quality of the air that Mr. Aruchu has been propagating. Suddenly I was angry again, and I called him on several of the blatant lies he was so shamelessly broadcasting from his own lips. Specifically, and very importantly, the lie that Mr. Aruchu and Mr. Zangyo have been telling people about the air system in the building - that the air intakes for the recirculating heating/cooling system are exhaust ducts and that the toxins that go in there are immediately transported outside, when the actual fact of the matter is that the same air is recirculated. I countered this lie for probably the 55th time (not an exaggeration - that number should probably be higher...), by stating the fact that it's a recirculating air system, and while some outside air is indeed mixed in, it's a small percentage, and so airborne contaminants take a long time to dissipate. He responded to that by saying that the system quickly and effectively removes all pollutants from the air.....
This point is crucial to the whole issue, so I said that we really ought to look into the air system and get some exact numbers regarding the percentage of outside air (not very clean stuff either by the way!) that is mixed into the air system. He nodded agreement, so I though "Ok, I'll take that as permission to investigate then", and after taking my leave of his office (it always feels better leaving that room than going in...) I started thinking of what I needed to do.
I took an hour for lunch, and after walking to a bank in a downpour to see if the factory had remitted my pay (they had - yea!), I called one of the men from J-OSHA and discussed my meeting with the Prez. He told me that he and the first guy I talked with would be going out to the company again on Wednesday, and cautioned me that if I was too obvious regarding my involvement and I got fired, they wouldn't be able to help me. I told him I understood, and then I outlined the specific laws I had found (thanks to copies he had made for me from a book of regulations) regarding the type of ventilation that a company must have when using toxic substances. The law very specifically states that recirculating air systems are not acceptable - something that the company knows, and is trying to whitewash with a heavy bombardment of lies. We discussed the issue for awhile and after hanging up I went to the building management office and had the guy there contact the man responsible for technical maintenance of the building. I refused his offer to have the guy come up to the company (Nooooo thank you!) and gave him my cell phone number so I could come back down when the man arrived.
I wasn't up in the war zone more than about ten minutes when the cell phone rang, so I went back down to the office to find an honest, serious looking man who politely and professionally answered my questions about the air circulation system in the building. Just I had thought (it's common sense, isn't it??), the amount of outside air put into the system is only around 20-30%, meaning that once you pump toxins into the office air, they stay there for a number of hours before the air system can gradually push them out through slow dilution. The other very interesting thing about meeting the guy was his volunteered information that Mr. Aruchu had spoken with him about the possibility of having some kind of exhaust fans installed back in June - before the company moved into the building. Interesting, because now that the company is facing legal pressure to stop poisoning its employees, they are crying "We had no idea!".
Highlights of the day: First, I had
never quite seen the Prez blatantly broadcasting deliberate lies
before... I will never be able to trust that man again.
Secondly, there was a point in my discussion with the building guy
where I suddenly felt like I was a detective in a movie, gathering
clues and information to stop the bad guys... the bad guys... who I
work for. The bad guys... yeah, I've got to get a new
A detective... I was nervous when I first approached the building
people, but after talking with them, it suddenly seemed like fun...
which it should - opposing the bad guys should be fun sometimes.
They must be opposed - or they just get stronger and stronger while
the ability to oppose them grows more difficult.
[Top of page]
"Names & History" [Top of page]
Date: Wed, 15 Aug 2001 +0200
From: SAJ [US / Holland]
It has been months since I have written. I am also guilty of not reading all of the LL-Letters which have come in. I have neatly filed them away in my Lyle folder with good intention of catching up though, and I did read the first part of the one sent today, LL-304. While I think each country should do their own thing, have their own customs, and follow their own beliefs, I do wish they would also make some allowances for people from different cultures to accommodate things like name changes. As you know, in the US when someone marries, they have the choice of what name they wish to have. Using a pseudonym for myself, let me explain:
When born, I was named Joan Allison Smith. I wasn't crazy about the name Allison, so when I married, I dropped it and became Joan Smith Jones. When I divorced I kept Smith Jones and didn't go back to my maiden name Joan Allison Smith. I remarried and became Joan Smith Doe, dropping the name Jones. When I divorced I kept the name Smith Doe. It just seemed easier at the time and I didn't think it would ever be any problem. Well it wouldn't have been if I had stayed in the US, but when I remarried again (and for the last time) the headaches began. It seems that in the Netherlands, it is felt that Doe is my maiden name and not Smith, so I no longer have Smith for a name at all. In the US I am now Joan Smith Green, here I am Joan Doe Green. My passport says Joan Smith Green now and Joan Doe Green and every other name other then the right one here. I was told I had to go to court in the US and have my name legally changed if I wish to have my real maiden name. Go figure.... We have yet to figure out how if I never had my other names changed in a courtroom... how they could be legal such as when I had my name changed from my first marriage to my second? What is the difference between that and be getting married this time? I can't help but wonder what will happen this year when I have to renew my alien ID with the police. They have not made it clear how I was to have my name changed either. Do I have it changed to my married name by US standards - Joan Smith Green - or do I have to go back to Joan Allison Smith, then to Joan Smith Green, or do I have to become Joan Allison Smith Green? They don't seem to know either and they don't accept my passport and marriage papers as proof of a legal name change. Sigh..... So for now, I have many different names.....
About Hiroshima/Nagasaki - I have heard mostly about the war in Europe - I had forgotten about the Pacific and what was going on there. At times you can feel/see the bitterness still left over from the war here in the Netherlands, and I am sure you must have experienced the same thing over there in Japan. Who was right, who was wrong... people died and families morn, counties morn and the dead need to be remembered. I have lived in my own little world and don't know about these things you have written about in your letter. It raises more questions for me to seek answers for. Do they honor Class A war criminals from Germany also? Does Japan feel that the war they fought was not part of WW-II overall? Wasn't it all about control and whether countries have the right to voice what they think is right or wrong about how the death of someone is remembered? While I do believe the right of each country to remember the dead in their own way - and who they choose to remember is up to them, I also believe the truth should be taught at the same time. The US has done its share of unspeakable things in times of war. Yet I was not taught of those things in school..... Where you?
I hadn't really thought about that much until asked, but in a word - "Yes", I was taught about a lot of that stuff. In my junior high school (now called middle school I think), they had a Chinese woman come to talk to us... and the moment I most remember is how she said something to the effect of - "If you look around this room, you see only Caucasians, but in the world there are many more non-Caucasians than Caucasians"... I still remember the nervous feeling in the room.....
In high school, they had a Japanese-American guy talk to us about being put into a camp during WW-II as a kid. He said that for him personally, as he had a lot of other kids to play with, it wasn't such a bad experience, but for his parents it was much more difficult. He was an entertaining speaker, and he talked about various cultural differences between the West and the East, etc.... Now that I'm in Japan, I realize that some of what he told us about Japan came from his parents and is no longer true though. In this light, after 17 years out of the US, I had better be careful telling people about US thinking?
And then there was a Native American guy who came out to talk to us. Following the Japanese-American guy, he was not as entertaining, but his message was more somber... I appreciate what he told us now more than I did at the time. I feel like jumping in a time machine to go back and kick myself about that... but his words have come back to me at times in a more meaningful way. The detail that stands out in my mind about his speech is his explaining that there were several nations in North America - that it wasn't just one group of people. That's the detail... but the feeling conveyed is something I can't explain... not without thinking longer and harder about how to put it into words anyway - maybe another time.....
So... at least my mid/late seventies
Idaho/California public school education did include things that
were/are left out of the education of too many people, and
considering the number of times I've remembered what those minority
speakers said over the years, I would say it was a very good idea to
have them go out to schools to show another viewpoint. Do the
schools still do that? And at that time, were they doing that
all over the country? [Top of page]
"The Battle - The Outcome?"
[Top of page]
(September 1st, 2001 Nishi-Shinjuku)
The guys from J-OSHA came by as scheduled on Wednesday, and by the time I was able to join the meeting in the larger of the two meeting rooms, the two guys were seated facing the window side of the room, with Mr. Aruchu and Mr. Onisan facing them on the other side. (I don't understand it very well, but there is a strict protocol about seating here.) Nearest the door at the end of the table were Mr. Nasakenai, Ms. Shinyosezu, and Mr. Ochitsuita. Notably absent was Ms. Ahobaka, who is against the spray, but has shown herself to be completely spineless about opposing it. As I walked in, I noticed that there was only one open seat... next to the J-OSHA guys! I almost sat there, but then realized that just would not do... and so I walked around the table and pulled the best seat away from the wall - the one the Prez or Mr. Zangyo generally sit in at meetings, and sat myself down at the head of the table. In retrospect, the seat was quite appropriate, but it seemed a little ironic at the time.
To sum up the meeting - Mr. Aruchu did 99% of the talking for the company's view (top management's that is), with Mr. Onisan tossing in a word here and there... when he wasn't glaring at me with undisguised hostility that is. Mr. Nasakenai and Mr. Ochitsuita said absolutely nothing at all, but I was heartened that Ms. Shinyosezu tossed in a few words of truth in opposition to a couple of Mr. Aruchu's more outrageously untruthful statements. For my part I exposed a couple of Mr. Aruchu's lies, but noticed that suddenly he was presenting a different face than he does to the employees at the meetings... one suite of lies for the office drones, and a more carefully selected suite of lies for the officials from J-OSHA. For my part, I made it a point not to say any more than I thought was really necessary, and I passed out the printed version of a short speech that I had prepared (with final editing help from an executive at the factory I teach at some mornings), that I ended up deciding was better used as a written statement. Thanks to the moderating influence of the factory executive, it became a powerful, but not inflammatory statement.
The outcome? It seems that Mr. Aruchu would rather commit hara-kiri than stop poisoning the office with that #$%& spray. He started off stressing that the company isn't using enough of the spray to warrant there being any concern. He began with a salesman's charm, but when the two men told him that the company would probably have to stop using the spray anyway, he blew up and accused them of picking on the company when companies all over Japan are using the spray with impunity, and that if they try to stop the company from using it, they will take the matter to court(!). I just hope that Mr. Aruchu is the first one to become ill from the effects of the slow poisoning, but ultimate justice, if perfect, is not necessarily quick.... At least when he came back to the "But everyone else is using it!" cry for the 37th time, Ms. Shinyosezu said "Because other people are doing the same bad thing doesn't make it right!", which I was very glad to hear her say, as I had been thinking it, but holding back from talking too much. Throughout the meeting, I was expecting Mr. Aruchu to openly accuse me of having brought legal pressure on the company, but he didn't. The closest I came to losing my own temper was in this exchange:
Me: "Why is it that you are so determined to use this dangerous stuff? Why can't we put some effort into using something else? I can't understand why you are so inflexible about this!"
Mr. Aruchu: "Yeah - you wouldn't understand!" (Said sarcastically and with a smirk.)
Me (In a flash of anger): "You... this company... Do you think it's funny to destroy someone's health? Do you?!? Do you?!!?"
At this point I glared at the guy with an open, full-force anger that seemed to surprise him.....
Not long after that, the J-OSHA guys said that as it was obvious that an agreement could not be reached, they would take their leave, deliberate the matter back at their office, and get back to the company later with the results of their final decision.
The immediate result for me within the company? After the previous company meeting where I openly challenged Mr. Aruchu in front of virtually the entire company, he became radioactive with... hate I suppose. Now the initial fires of that seem to have subsided, replaced with a cold fury and calculating opposition to my being there. Actually, thinking back, that one guy has been the source of a lot of trouble that has come my way in the company, so in that sense, not much has changed. What is different now though, is that I think his opposition has shifted towards... what... a desire for revenge? I think I had better watch my back... and in that vein, I'm planning to shift the position of my monitor so he can't see it at all. He seemed to be staring at it every chance he got on Thursday and Friday......
After the meeting, I e-mailed the building
guy a copy of my statement (in Japanese) and the next day I called
J-OSHA. The guy there (one of the men who has been out to the
company twice now) told me that in reviewing the case with his
superior, he was told that the company obviously researched how to
get around the laws (and common sense), as the issue of the amount of
spray-glue being used is the crucial point legally - the only
possibility of circumnavigating the conclusion of the men from
J-OSHA. I don't have any hard evidence to prove exactly how
much they are using, and they are lying that they only use a tiny
tiny bit of the spray (a tiny bit... which is why they are unable to
stop?), so J-OSHA will likely not come in with the army to force the
last can of hexane out of Mr. Aruchu's dying hands, but rather just
issue a recommendation that they stop, and require that they take
more precautions - including that the people doing the actual
spraying (five, as it turns out) have a special physical every six
months. Of course, most people quit that company after about
that much time, so..... [Top of page]
"You Need More People(?!)" [Top of page]
I recently read the following at an on-line news site:
"Japan urged to boost birthrate,
support female workers
TOKYO, Aug. 27 Kyodo - Japan will have to face up to the tough challenges caused by the global aging crisis by boosting both the country's fertility rate and opportunities for the female labor force, the head of a U.S. think tank said Monday."
Boost the fertility rate? Isn't that a very shortsighted thing to do in this crowded country in this crowded world? Obviously the lack of young people in the workforce is causing problems, but isn't this where automation and technology can help? Who is this bozo - "the head of a US think tank"? I'd like to introduce him to the hellish sardine commuter trains at around 7:30 in the morning, when you can scarcely breath and you can't move. I'd like to show him/her the type of building where 44 people died because the fire exits are a joke due to an extreme lack of space. The country should produce more people to help the economy? Besides, asking woman to have more babies in the same breath that you're saying they should be working more is... politically correct I guess. Put two semi-incompatible things together and it's more difficult to be attacked - except on grounds of a lack of common sense. In Japan now, one major reason woman are choosing not to get married and/or have children is that they want to work.
The thing that irritates me about "the
global aging crisis" is that if all countries had birth rates of
around two, then the looming crisis brought on by a century of mass
baby production could be averted. Whichever way you go, Japan
already is a very crowded country needing to import food to
The quote I have above is the extent of what I saw on-line... does
anyone know anything about this "think tank"?
"Books & Cookies" [Top of page]
Date: Wed, 15 Aug 2001
From: KCM [US]
Hi again. I was just reading over the letters and mulling over the things said and how they relate. Reading the letter from the woman who suffered so many losses and yet is still able to function every day, I wanted to cry because sometimes it's so hard for me, even when nothing's wrong. I really admire her for being able to just live, because I don't know if I would have that kind of strength.
My father recently gave the family a scare... My sister called me and told me that he lost his memory and I assumed the worst, that he had Alzheimer's or something. It turned out to be really minor - he forgot where he parked his car because he drank beer after taking his medication. The doctors are running tests on him for some reason. He's going to retire in October, although he could retire now. When he retires, I will have no medical or dental insurance and I don't know how to shop for it, so I'll be on my own. When my sister called me, I broke down and cried (I think I have mild depression) even though she told me he was fine. I got to speak with him and I thought of all the things that I never ask him, although I'm sure he would have loved to answer.
Anyway, I decided to go home next week when my friend comes to visit, since he is going to drive down. It will be good to see everyone.
Sometimes I think I inherited all my father's vices. I love playing mahjong and would play for money if I found anyone who was willing to, I have urges to smoke although I've never given in to those feelings, and I'm the only other person in the family who drinks.
I started daydreaming the other day - about what I would do after college, and I had this vision of myself driving cross-country to the East Coast to settle down in a cheap house a train ride away from NYC. I wonder if that's too insane a dream to ever chase. My whole family would object on the grounds that I'm a girl and thus in danger of just about everything.
I've started cooking, and surprised myself because it's actually good! Pork chops yesterday, black bean chow fun tomorrow and oatmeal raisin cookies today. I should have started so much earlier - I didn't realize how cool or fun or easy this would be.
In my head I've a character sketch that I want to turn into a story. Please tell me it's not stupid to want to write a martial arts novel (have you seen Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, or something like old samurai movies?) set in the present. Maybe I'll have to make up my own parallel universe in which the rules of war are different. But anyway, I have the protagonist down but nothing else yet.
I've also been reading a lot of science fiction and fantasy lately, which is feeding my hunger for this kind of writing. I finished the 800 page novel Mists of Avalon (about King Arthur and the Round Table from a female viewpoint) in three days, and have been consuming every single Octavia Butler (the only successful minority sci-fi writer I know of) novel I can find. And I just recently delved into Neil Gaiman, best known for the Sandman series and collaborator for graphic novels (the fancy name for comic books) and other sci-fi and fantasy. Reading his stories, it just hit me that writing can be about anything, and that simple realization relieved me, because before I kept worrying about realism and possibilities.
And now I will go make oatmeal raisin cookies, unfortunately not from scratch. Oh well.
KCM [Top of page]
"A Great Evening" [Top of page]
Subject: 15/08/01 part2
Date: Wed, 15 Aug 2001 +0200
From: SAJ [US / Holland]
I haven't written since I went to the States at the end of May..... Aabbb gave me a two week trip to the States for a birthday present. After he had given me the ticket, a couple of my old school friends got in touch with me, sending me an old birthday card one of them had received at her 16th birthday party. The card had been drawn by one of our friends from "Our Gang" (I believe I told you something about that in another letter). This started us putting together our own little "Gang Reunion" It went over Great! Most of us hadn't seen each other in 30 years or more. We had planned one get together on a Saturday - which ended up starting on Friday and not ending until Monday night, with some of us planning on getting together next summer. It was fascinating to see what everyone had done with their lives, but also sad in some cases. Some of the gang had never outgrown the drug scene, and the abuse showed. I was surprised at how many had lost their driving licenses from DWIs. I wonder if the Florida lifestyle contributed to this? While some were raking in the cash, others were basically starving artists. Yet you couldn't differentiate them by their clothing or attitudes. The Gang is spread out over three years of graduating classes, from 1969 to 1971. So many were still living in the Venice/Sarasota area and I look forward to visiting with them on future yearly lone trips to Florida. One of my friends offered me a cottage to stay at on Casey Key (as long as it's during the off season). You can bet I will be taking him up on that!
One of my friends is now making pottery for a living and I will be be taking lessons from her whenever I am in town. She does wonderful work, and of course I had to have one for our living room. I wasn't surprised to see that my best friend Bbccc is still an artist, starving, drinking too much... and though I didn't see him, I'm sure he's still getting high. I hope to be able to get some work of his to bring back to Holland on my next trip. He has done several murals in restaurants and on buildings.... Ccddd Ddeee was there - he took over his father's business after his death. He wanted us to come to his house for the 4th of July and was quite disappointed when I told him there was no way we could fly over again so soon. But we do plan on getting together next summer for a Beach Party. The list of people and things could go on and on....
I had the best visit ever with my daughter too. I have to tell you about one night she and I went out. Now if you ever get to the Sarasota area, you have got to go to Pop's in Nokomis. It has always been one of my favorite places to go. It is an inside/outside bar and grill sitting on the water. They have live music at night and the food is very good. Very laid back - come as you are, flip flops and cutoffs welcome. Gghhh and I decided to go out one evening, just the two of us, and I chose Pop's. Being the off season, it was anything but busy. Only one table on the water was being used, and soon after we got there those people left, so it was like having the whole place to ourselves. At the outside bar there were maybe a dozen people which looked like regulars, and there was a band playing. At times, someone from the bar would get up and take over singing. There was this one women who had had way too much to drink and she was just awful, but everyone would cheer her on. Gghhh and I had a great meal and were just talking - having our own good time, doing the mother/daughter bonding thing. The evening was warm, the water was clam, the moon was bright, and when that women wasn't singing, the music was good.
Gghhh and I were happy to have the downstairs section on the water all to ourselves... but then three guys showed up, and would you believe they sat at the dirty table where the other people had been? The only dirty table there and they picked it to sit at. One of them Gghhh has seen at work, but didn't know exactly. He stocks the shelves with Budweiser, and must have gotten together with the other two right from work since he still had his Budweiser work shirt on. The second guy was wasted and rather loud. The third guy seem very quiet, shy and a friend who was visiting. They were telling him about Pops, Casey Key and the area. So now we have Mr. Bud, Mr. Wasted and Mr. Shy sitting at the dirty table behind Gghhh. Mr. Wasted started flirting a little with us and I could see Gghhh was getting a bit uncomfortable so I asked her if there was somewhere else she would like to go even though I was having a great time. She said that maybe they would leave and thought we should try to stick it out for a while and see. Mr. Wasted started asking us if we knew Angus Young, which we didn't... this seemed to irritate him no end. He just wouldn't let it go until Mr. Bud came over to our table and wanted to know what kind of music we listen to and if we had ever heard of AC/DC. We told him what he wanted to know and he went back and told Mr. Wasted, which seemed to calm things down for a little while. After 20 minutes or so Gghhh and I decided it was time for us to give up on waiting them out and leave ourselves. Mr. Wasted saw us getting ready and started telling us that this Mr. Shy guy was Angus Young and he was there visiting all the way from Illinois. I said that was great and we hoped he enjoyed his stay etc..... Mr. Bud then said that if we would wait ten minutes, Angus would sing us a song. I agreed to wait ten minutes and no longer.
I have to admit I was feeling pretty good after the beers and Pina Coladas I had had and was doing my share of being friendly from my own table. I wasn't flirting by any means, but being friendly and polite, maybe more then I should have. I had a comeback for everything they said to us. Gghhh was getting a kick out this as well, which was adding fuel to the fire. So now Mr. Shy comes over to the table and tells us he is sorry for the behavior of his friends, that he can't sing a note, but to shut Mr. Wasted up he would sing a couple of songs for Gghhh and me. Gghhh and I followed the guys up to where the band was, and I told them "Ok, sing - and then we are on our way."
I tell you, this Mr. Shy was GREAT. He sang two songs for us, and when he was finished, I walked up to him, took him by the shoulders, shook him and told him he should get in a band. Gghhh and I laughed about it all the way home. Saying things like we should have gotten his autograph or I should have brought my camera and taken his picture.
The next night I went over to Gghhh's for a little get together she was having with her friends. We were sitting around drinking Pina Coladas telling her friends about the night before. One of Gghhh's friends said she would be back in a minute and took off. When she returned, she had a book on the band AC/DC..... There was a picture of Angus Young in the book... and would you believe the man pictured in this book was dressed the same way and really looked the same as Mr. Shy from the night before! So Angus Young really had sung to us after all - and there I was that evening telling him he should be in a band!
SAJ [Top of page]
"Regarding Music" [Top of page]
Subject: Re: LL-304 "At the Classic
Date: Thu, 16 Aug 2001 +0700
From: RWD [Bandung, Indonesia]
This story has no direct relation with CBB's story, but reading about concerts, I felt like writing. About two weeks ago, I went to a Scorpions concert. The band is more than 30 years old now - they started the group in 1965. That was about the time of the fall of Soekarno's [Sukarno] regime [he was deposed in 1966], the first president of Indonesia. I knew that group when I was in junior high.
So, considering the age of the musicians, I figured the audience must be people in their mid-30's or even 40's. Well my guess wasn't quite right. There were mostly a bunch of kids, which I guess are about the age I was when I knew the band. Music definitely can move across the boundary of age. I can't wait before another group of classic rock musicians has a concert here in Bandung.
Right now it's 6:20 p.m., and I'm still at the office - waiting for the traffic to thin out a little before I go home.
"WW-II Aircraft" [Top of page]
Subject: Re: From1864&Questions
Date: Fri, 17 Aug 2001 -0500
From: HHE (Texas/US)
.......... As for flying in the Dark Ages, a PBM was a seaplane - Patrol Bomber Mariner. The last letter designated the plane's manufacturer. It was a twin engine plane with a dihedral tail and a gull wing and landed only on water. Crew of 12 in wartime and 9 in peace time. It could fly lo-o-o-n-g hours at a time and had three cot-type bunks amidships - where we mostly stored parachutes. There was a bow turret (twin .50 cal. machine guns), top turret (twin .50's) and a tail gunner position with twin .50's. Fighters were designated F as in F6F, while dive bombers were usually always designated as SB for Scout Bomber. (One was an SB2C and had so many problems it was called S-O-B second class in the fleet). The torpedo planes were TB as in TBM or TBF. I was an ARM 3/C(CA) which meant I was an Aviation Radio Man Third Class (equiv. to a Sergeant) and rated as Combat Aircrew qualified - meaning I had been through aerial gunnery school.
I really wanted to be on a carrier, but it was not meant to be. They didn't have to eat powdered eggs on a carrier, I would imagine. But they didn't get to play volleyball on the hot sand before flights. And I'll bet the discipline was a lot tighter on a carrier. How's that for rationalization? I also made a couple of flights with Marine pilots in the Navy/Marine version of the B-25 called a PBJ. That plane I really liked as it was sleek looking and a great plane for bailing out - if you had to do so. There was a trap door in the bottom of the fuselage, just aft of the waist gunner positions that gave access and egress via steps that swung down. In an emergency, you released the steps and they fell away and one simply slipped right out straight down. No worry about being knocked out or decapitated by the tail empennage. The Marines always seemed to be hung over and made me nervous, so much so I was airsick one time after flying tail gunner. Each waist gun had 400 rounds of ammo for a single .50 cal.. I had 400 rounds, but twin .50's, so it was gone faster. We strafed and I asked the pilot if I could secure (leave) my position and permission was refused. The cordite and other fumes came back and seemed to accumulate right there and the powdered eggs and bacon started to speak to me. I finally got permission and went forward, aft of the waist gunners, grabbed a "puke" container (quart ice cream containers), sat down on the deck and tried to think good thoughts. I believed I was going to make it, but the pilot chopped the throttle about 10 feet above the runway, the plane bounced hard and so did my chow. I didn't mess up the plane as that was a cardinal sin. The story is that anyone who gets sick while flying has to clean up after himself, but I simply can't picture an admiral doing that. Maybe an admiral's aide, but most likely some poor swabbie.
As for B-29 flights over the Himalayas, they never had bombs until they got to China, but they had to load up with fuel to struggle up to 32,000 feet leaving India or going back. No, they weren't faster than the Japanese fighters, but they had a great Fire Control system, i.e., all the guns except the tail gun (20mm cannon) were remotely controlled. The 29's had some problems with hydraulics and engine problems, but they were formidable. I would imagine Japanese fighter pilots flying planes that were just a little faster would necessarily have to approach from the high side and slide to the rear (called a "high side approach"). To know the tail position would be firing at you with a 20 mm. cannon and, knowing you had no armor plating on your plane and no fuel tank linings to cut down on fire, would be daunting. But the Japanese were certainly not cowards, just getting more desperate as the war moved closer to their homeland.
That evokes memories of people long dead and some dead not too long ago. I visited yesterday with a friend who was prisoner in Germany. He was a B17 tail gunner shot down in April, 1944. He was imprisoned in Stalag 17-B - the one made famous in the movie of that name starring William Holden. When Aabbb, now in the hospital again, parachuted on a raid over Germany - he was taken through Hamburg where the people there tried three times to hang him - because the RAF had just decimated the rail yards. He was so short of food that he began eating cardboard on one occasion when he was slightly delirious. When the Russians got too close to his prison camp, the Germans started the 4,000 prisoners west toward Poland in February 1945 and only 2,000 survived. He was bayonetted in the arm when he got weak on the march and fell in a ditch alongside the road. Finally, one day in May the guards disappeared and an American captain in a Jeep drove up. He thought they were death camp survivors until they asked if he "had any chow". Aabbb said the captain told them there was food "just down the road", but not to eat too much as they would become sick. Four miles later, he said he ate until he was absolutely stuffed and then ate some more, but never got sick. Then they took them to Camp Lucky Strike and he knew then he was free.
When I read his account or think of my cousins who were prisoners (one died during the Bataan Death March) or anyone who was a prisoner, I don't really feel like a veteran and most definitely don't want to be thought of as a hero. The real heroes are those who didn't make it back And I won't forget them.
That is more than enough ruminating.
September 5th, 2001 - I'm under some time pressure here to get this smashed into the wiring... so I can't say much, but I thought I'd say a quick word about the JW Office. Things there have been calm the past few days... which reminds me of what UFM in the UK said in LL-304 - "This may sound odd, but I was wondering if getting OSHA involved might actually secure your position within the company a bit?"... I think there might be something to that. Fundamentally, people accord respect to power out of a natural sense of self-preservation. Not that I have power exactly, but they might be thinking "If he could cause this much trouble over the spray - how much trouble could he stir up if we fired him?". The possibility must seem much more real... For my part, I'm being cautious in my actions for the moment. Actually... come to think of it, other than one tense meeting in his office, the Prez has seemed nicer since the incident. What that means (if anything) I'm still pondering....
Mr. Lookingfor has gone. He'll likely come in one more day to clean out his desk, but he no longer works there. Some of the vultures sitting near his desk have already begun stealing his former office supplies - with a look of glee on their faces as they do so. I'm not sure what that means either, but considering that the two most gleeful faces I saw were Mr. Uragi's and Ms. Hone's, I can only say that they are acting in character. As fiction, I wouldn't imagine such creatures - but there they is in reality.....
Out of time!
StarOffice, from Sun Microsystems - similar
to MS Office, and you can both read and save files in MS Word format
(although complicated files can run into glitches when crossing the
boundary between SO files and MS files). I use it to write the
LL-Letters, and find it more stable than the "the other leading
brand". It's free, but as it's 80MB, it takes awhile to
English word processor (basic version is
free, full version cheap) called "Yeah Write" I often use
it for quick notes. Compared to StarOffice, this software is
very light - in fact, it will fit on a single 1.44MB floppy.
(Includes spell-check, etc.)
Images Through Glass
September 5th, 2001
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