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October 3rd, 2001
"Special Office Politics Issue..."
"More Trouble With Ms. Piman"
"Captains or Slaves"
"Olympus Camedia C-4040Zoom"
"StarOffice 6.0 (Beta)"
"I Have nothing to Hide"
"I Could Do Without the Alcohol" by KCM
"Four Computer Screens on the Next Island..... "
"The Aftermath of September 11th" by LHS, AIF, EKH, & ATR
"Computer Memory Blues....."
"Out on the Balcony" by KCM
"Small Minds - Big Trouble"
"A Year Ago"
"A Working Weekend, TV, Etc." by MMH
"Too Much Office Stuff I Think..."
"Special Office Politics Issue..." [Top of page]
As the following string of letters from me to the Prez and Mr. Aruchu indicate, there is (another... another-another-another... no end) war raging at JW, Inc. over one of the newest computers in the company with a 20GB hard drive and an 800MHz P-III processor. As (intended to be) confidential information that leaked out, the method of my hearing about Mr. Aruchu's idiotic plans is... hilarious actually. It would make for bad fiction - but as reality - truly "truth is stranger than fiction". Mr. Aruchu spends a lot of time on the phone every day, and has a habit of speaking with an incredibly loud voice. You can hear... in fact you do hear (whether you want to or not) every word he says on the phone - regardless of where you are in the office. He is so used to high volume speaking, that when he lowers his voice, he basically only reaches a normal speaking level, which is still audible several paces away from where he is speaking. In this way, I leaned of Mr. Aruchu's plans (from his own mouth!) for a computer shuffle as he spoke to Mr. Hetakuso in what he thought was a confidentially low voice.
Since the former IT Manager left the company, the allocation of computer resources has been totally and completely political, with no thought in any shape or form given to who actually is most needful of more computing power and/or stability. Mr. Shibui ended up with one of the best computers for no better reason than that it was available on the day his other computer became inoperable. I could have fixed his other computer within a day (and in fact did - at a later date... that was the G1 I was using that got wet, fried mice, and after drying out was put back into service as Ms. Warukunai's computer), but Mr. Aruchu and Mr. Uragi couldn't bear the thought of my helping them out with that, so.....
As my reproduced letters in here might indicate - the only power I have in the company is through the written word, and thus the connection with the Prez's In Box is vital to my financial survival right now. .*.*.*.*.*.*.*... I just realized something..... My reasons for wanting the Prez to have a stable computer are political, aren't they!! Yikes!!! I'm becoming like them..... I really do need to escape this place! But (excuses begin here) there are solid reasons for the president of the company to have a reliably functioning computer. One of the things the company is selling after all, is connections, and no one in the company has as many connections as the Prez - most of which he maintains via e-mail... so, while I must admit I have political reasons for pushing a decent computer towards the Prez's office, it is also in the overall best interest of the company - which is more than can be said for Ms. Shinyosezu or Ms. Honyaku, the two people Mr. Aruchu was considering bestowing the computer on.
This is all becoming too long, but the point is, when I heard Mr. Aruchu broadcasting his inane plans, I immediately fired off a letter in Japanese to the Prez (cc: to Mr. Hetakuso) outlining the situation and telling him that if he wanted to get a better computer in his office (his Dimension C is giving warning signs of coming trouble, and that model already has a fairly bad history in the company), "... then the time to act is NOW!". He took my advice, and told Mr. Aruchu that he wanted the computer. Mr. Aruchu was none too pleased, and tried to dissuade him by lying about the CPU, saying the machine was a slow 400MHz, when in fact it has an 800MHz P-III, but while Mr. Aruchu has quite a bit more power in the company than he should, apparently the president of the company is actually the president of the company (sometimes I wonder...), and so his directly requesting the machine was something Mr. Aruchu could not refuse.
Office politics..... I sent off my Japanese "Now is the time to act!" e-mail mainly just wanting to get the Prez a better computer before it was wasted on someone who didn't need it, but after I sent it, I ended up silently laughing at the realization that it created a situation in which Mr. Aruchu could not possibly win. If he refused the computer, he would be exposing his treachery in such a blatant way that even the Prez would sit up and take notice... and be very displeased. On the other hand, if Mr. Aruchu gave in and let Prez have the computer, his idiotic political plans would be spoiled. But laughing (audibly or not) can be a dangerous thing to do... Mr. Aruchu is now so mad at me that he's taken to muttering darkly about me to Ms. Honyaku within hearing range (intentionally?), and we had a heated exchange of words in front of the entire office (minus the Prez) about a rewrite job he'd sent me via Ms. Honyaku. It wasn't due until the end of the day, and I got it back to him in time, but the fact that I was working on setting up the controversial computer for the Prez on the desk next to mine as I worked seemed to really get under his skin - so he started loudly complaining about my not doing my "proofing" work.
He didn't complain when I helped him reinstall W-98SE in his computer after a virus crashed it... and I guess that's the only reason I'm still here - in spite of constantly battling it out with him over one thing or another, the things I've been doing that he has complained about, have generally been for the benefit of the company, and so he is not on the high ground...... That said, I went home last night contemplating the spectacle of Mr. Aruchu and Mr. Uragi holding an impromptu meeting in the Prez's office around 17:00 (the Prez was out all day yesterday), and of the several times I glanced in their direction, almost every time, one or the other of them seemed to be giving me the evil eye..... Maybe (probably) I'm imagining things.., but the company is also running an advertisement for another foreigner (I've been rewriting letters from Ms. Gaimen to the people who sent in their resumes) and an top of all that, the company is on a slide, with ever fewer clients, almost no new business at all, and only bleaker reports from the economy in the news. Methinks my days here are in fact numbered - from one cause or another (the company might actually go bankrupt) - the job doesn't look likely to continue. Considering that I half expected to be fired back in January when I began fighting back against the flak (racism, office politics, etc.) tossed my way, I should be more surprised that I'm still here than surprised to lose the job, but still.....
Anyway, here are most of the letters about
the Prez's computer, etc.
September 27th, 2001
The other day, I couldn't but help overhear you say that Gaimen-san's computer is slow and that she should have one of the newer ones.... The thing is, Mr. Aruchu, she already has a new computer!! In fact, she has two computers, one of which is redundant, as she only needs one. (The "info" e-mail account is on one machine, and her regular account on the other - there's no reason they can't be on the same computer.) In fact, having to switch back and forth between two computers hinders her efficiency, doesn't help it. Apparently the reason for her having two computers in the first place was not explained to you, so I'll fill you in now.
Gaimen-san had one computer for most of the year 2000 - the old IBM, which was quite slow. I set up one of the company's Compaq computers for her, and at that time connected it with a switcher so that she could use two computers with one Keyboard/Mouse/Display for the sole reason that some of the software that was in the IBM was not transferrable to another computer. Just before the move to this building however, the IBM crashed and became unusable. At this point, she was using only the Compaq, but it had only been set up for one of her e-mail accounts.
When a batch of new Dell Dimension C computers were ordered, one of them went to her, but strangely, it was set up with the Compaq in a dual-computer arrangement... this time for no good reason. This situation is unchanged. Frankly speaking, it's a waste of the company's resources to have two computers for one person for no other reason than that there are two e-mail accounts, as they can easily be set up on one computer. (Both accounts had been on the IBM computer with no problems at all.)
So - Gaimen-san does not need two new computers. Mr. Prez, on the other hand, would do well to have a second backup computer, not only due to the fact that his e-mail software sometimes is a bit overloaded, but in recognition of how important for the company is uninterrupted e-mail for him. Of all the people in the company, the smooth functioning of Mr. Prez's e-mail account is the most important.
Let's make the best use of the company's computer resources!
September 27th, 2001
I've been thinking about the need for both a software backup for your computer, as well as setting up some hardware redundancy to deal with any problems that might arise down the road. There is a fairly straightforward and not overly difficult to implement solution. Basically, we can set up two computers in your office that run through the same Keyboard/Mouse/Display that you are already using.
The second computer would likely be the computer that Ms. Temp is using, or better still, the better machine that Mr. Shibui uses. Both of these computers only have 128MB of RAM, but as a backup machine, that might be alright (I recommend installing 512MB for Y6,000). All we need to do to set it up this way is to put both of the e-mail accounts that Gaimen-san is using in one of her two computers (the new one) and then use the KVM switcher from her two-computer setup to set up two computers in your office. We'll need to get both hooked up to a LAN cable, but that shouldn't be too difficult. Either there is already a second one in your office that can just be plugged into the second computer, or we can buy a hub (cheap - about Y3,000 or so) to create the extra line.
PS I still think we're missing the
boat by not buying a little more memory for the company's fleet of
computers. It won't be available at the current prices
indefinitely..... We could be missing a chance here.
October 2nd, 2001
First, I would like to say that I concede your point that I should have wrapped up the proof/rewrite jobs you sent me today sooner, but I would also like to point out that when you politely requested them, I was under the impression that any time today would be fine and that there was not a great rush. Taking this into consideration, I was surprised when you loudly and publicly told me not to touch the computer I was setting up today if there was anything else I could be doing.....
We have repeatedly had problems that seem to result from miscommunication and/or misunderstandings. In light of this history we have, I think it would be best if you could put your requests to me in writing. A short note would do... such as:
"Please go over the ABC Co., Inc. Monthly Report. I would like to e-mail it to the client by 16:30 this afternoon - will you be able to wrap it up by then?"
I realize that you are very busy and typing up requests must seem like it is too time consuming - but if we work out a set of templates you can use, it should take very little time to e-mail me requests like the example above.
Your computer..... Back when Mr. ITMan was still with the company, several times he expressed concern about the old computer you were/are using. I would have to agree. I think there are a number of solutions, but I think one of the best ones would be for you to use one of the G1 computers, which support large hard drives and have faster CPU's than the GXa that you now have. After Mr. Prez's files, settings, etc., are transferred to Mr. Shibui's old computer, the Dimension C he's using now could go to Yojideru-san, and her G1 to you - or you could use the Dimension C. The G1 would likely be more reliable, but the Dimension C would have slightly better performance. One caveat being that Yojideru-san's computer only has 96MB of memory - but that could easily and cheaply be upgraded to 256MB. Of course you do have that fairly new laptop to work on, but your GXa is getting a bit creaky.....
Anyway... there's really no reason why we can't work well together - we just need to iron out some communication issues.
PS About the cover sheet we
discussed today. Naturally, what goes on a cover sheet and what
is buried in the middle of that report require a different mind-set
to properly write. Could you have at least the cover page
formatted as the cover page it's going to become before it's sent to
me so that I can best visualize the final result? If so,
October 2nd, 2001
I got most of the software installation done for your computer... but Mr. Aruchu seems very irritated that you are getting that computer, and so by extension he's also very irritated that I'm setting it up for you. Mr. Aruchu is a nice man, and he understands a little bit about computers, but he has no natural talent for them and doesn't understand them very well ("at all" I want to say). He's also not very honest... he knew very well that computer was faster than 400MHz or whatever he told you at the time. Actually, this is why I am separately sending a letter to Mr. Aruchu requesting that he give me requests in writing. He lies so often, I would like proof of what it is he's saying. I hate to say this, but when I left the office tonight, Mr. Aruchu was was the only one left... and I found myself worrying on the train ride home whether he would sabotage the computer I've almost completed setting up for you. Why would he do such a thing? I don't know... but he's been very hostile about that computer so far, so I have to wonder..... I guess I'll find out tomorrow.
In any case, the software is mostly in. Mr. Aruchu backed up Mr. Shibui's files to his own computer's hard drive, and told me that it would be alright to reformat the drive. Since we decided to take out Windows ME (due to it being slower than Windows 98-SE), the hard drive had to be reformatted and all the software reinstalled from zero. This is something I've done many times on my own personal computers outside the company, as well as at the company, so it's not difficult - but it does take a little time. I set up the computer next to my desk so I could work on it while also doing rewriting work on my computer.
Maybe we can get it hooked up in your office tomorrow - or if not, then probably the next day.
Date: Wed, 03 Oct 2001
From: Lyle Saxon <email@example.com>
To: The Prez <firstname.lastname@example.org>
There are two computers set up in your office now. The new one is set up with Netscape Messenger for the new co.jp address (email@example.com) and the other one is unchanged. We'll need to spend some time transferring files, making settings etc., but if worst comes to worst even now, you can already send and receive e-mail with the new machine using the new address. Netscape can be set up with multiple users as well... it's just a matter of the settings.
As I was finishing the final settings today, Mr. Aruchu was grumbling to Honyaku-san about me, but now that the computer is safely in your office and there are not so many more settings to go, I think we'll be back to smoother sailing soon.
Subject: "user name"
Date: Thu, 04 Oct 2001
From: Lyle Saxon <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: The Prez <email@example.com>
CC: Hetakuso <firstname.lastname@example.org>
When you get to the office tomorrow, you will notice as you walk in your office door that the right side (left if you're sitting) looks rather technological. There are two computers, a LAN hub, a KVM switcher, and the wiring that connects them all together. But don't worry, this is just a temporary arrangement until everything is set up in the new machine.
Note: When you sign in, the user name will indicate "saxon" - just delete it and enter your own user name "prez". I had to use my own user name to check that both machines were connected and working properly through the hub that connects both of them to the Internet. To switch back and forth between one machine and the other - just tap the Ctrl key twice (rapidly), and the switcher will go from whichever one you're using to the other one. If you are just using one machine, all you have to do is turn it on, and the KVM switcher will automatically connect it to the keyboard/monitor/mouse.
I'll explain about the remaining steps when I get to the office at 10:00 a.m.
(October 8th, 2001) On Friday, the Prez didn't come to the office (out with a cold it seems), so I transferred all the files over to Prez's new computer (copied over actually... as they are all still in the old computer as well). It went pretty much as I had expected it would - except for a rather strange discovery..... I installed ACD Systems photo-viewer software which includes a preview function of photographs when you right click on them, so I used it to take a quick inventory of the photo files on the C drive. Most of the folders I already remembered from the time I set up the Prez's old computer for Ms. Shinyosezu, who got it when the Prez got a new junky computer (a better one that had been ordered for him didn't make it to his office - as Mr. ITMan pulled the hard drive for JW-2000, and then botched the installation of a different 20GB drive). So, I went down the folders - clicking on a photo or two in each one..... The first folder - "Ah, the family photos folder", second folder - "That event at the ABC Co.", the third folder - "Most family photos". And then I read the folder name for the fourth photo folder - "More photos". Something about the folder name bothered me, as it didn't fit with the other folder names, and it wasn't on his computer last year. I right clicked on the first photo in the folder and... it was a woman wearing nonexistent clothing! "What?!", thought I. "The Prez has a penchant for that kind of thing?" I went ahead and opened it all the way... and it was a woman I had seen before..... "Who... where have I seen that face.... !!! Mr. ITMan's wife! Yikes!! What's she doing in the Prez's computer??!" I did a rapid slide show by tapping the Page Down key... and ITMan himself was in there too! Also wearing nonexistent clothing......
What does it mean? I don't know!
I've run all kinds of scenarios through my mind, ranging from a side
business to a very strange way of bragging, but it doesn't much
matter really... any scenario you care to entertain, it's weird!
I'm beginning to regret I got involved with Prez's computer! As
no one else in the office wants to have anything to do with it, it's
beginning to make me nervous. The problem with working on
someone's computer when they don't understand anything about
computers, is that if (when) something goes wrong, since they are
unable to fathom the reasons for computer malfunctions, they have an
uncomfortable tendency to blame the last person (before themselves)
to have touched the machine. And now this... I would rather not
know that he has that stuff on his hard drive.
[Top of page]
"More Trouble With Ms. Piman" [Top of page]
You may remember my writing about Ms. Piman last year... the woman who has a habit of making friends with the right (male) people in power within the office... if you know what I mean. I had some more trouble with her on Friday... thus the following e-mail:
October 4th, 2001
Dear Ms. Piman & Mr. Dekataido,
Just a quick note about the translation that Mr. Dekataido and I just wrapped up.
Ms. Piman - Your comment to the effect of "Just write the same thing that is in the article" is not appreciated. If you are only interested in a word by word translation, then you might as well use computer translation software - the client will have almost no idea what the nearly meaningless jumble of disjointed words is trying to say, but it will be faithfully tied to the Japanese language "word-for-word". Lest you think I'm being sarcastic here, banish the thought! I'm quite serious. I mean no disrespect to Mr. Dekataido (he's new at this, it takes a lot of practice), but his original translation was not ready for "proofing". Most of what the article conveyed in Japanese was NOT being conveyed in English. The purpose of translating is to convey the same meaning. Allow me to repeat that: The purpose of translating is to convey the same meaning. It is not to slavishly stick to individual words, which prevents an accurate translation, not ensures it.
Mr. Dekataido - I think you're a very likable person, but your comment that you don't understand the Japanese article very well is actually a very serious issue. If you know virtually every word of both the Japanese and the English languages, yet do not understand what an article is saying exactly, then it is impossible to create an accurate translation. You MUST fully understand the article if you are to provide a full translation. If there are fuzzy parts here and there, those parts can be either left out or fuzzied up in the target language, and it's all right... (well... mostly all right), but if there are too many unanswered questions about the meaning of the article, then you have some homework to do. Find the answers to at least some of those questions, and then proceed. Of course, if writing fiction is acceptable, then none of what I've said above applies.
Not thirty seconds after I had sent that out with a BCC to the Prez, my phone rang with the interoffice ring... and I looked down and saw what I expected... the Prez's extension number. I walked slavishly into his office and he launched into a diatribe about my e-mail. He obviously hadn't properly read it, but it was sent to Ms. Piman after all, and maybe he owes her a special favor? Who knows... in any case, he told me to think of the other people in the office as "your clients". My "clients"? Ah... "the customer is always right" hey? So... after taking an hour off for a late lunch, I came back and sent the following e-mail to the Prez:
Date: Thu, 04 Oct 2001
From: Lyle Saxon <email@example.com>
To: The Prez <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I think your reference to "clients" was a good one. I'll try to do just that... imagine that the other employees are my clients. The only danger here is that "the customer is always right", and so I will not insist on strict accuracy if there is any resistance. As an unequal member of the company, I will do my best to do the best job I can without angering my "clients". From their end, they should (I realize that they won't) accept more responsibility for the quality of the work they send me.
Anyway, I'll put stronger emphasis on not ruffling feathers.
The unspoken main problem here is in fact
one of racism, but I've found that - short of physical evidence
(written documents, physical injury, etc.), people never believe that
they or someone they know is guilty of racism. As a minority, I
know differently, but what you know, and what you can prove to
someone who doesn't want to see are not the same thing.
[Top of page]
"Captains or Slaves" [Top of page]
(October 9th, 2001 - Yotsuya) I'm
worrying about the future here... whether this company will stay in
business is one question, and even if it does, whether I will still
have a job here is highly questionable. Not that I want to be
here, but my attempts to get off this ship and onto another have not
been successful to date. Other ships seem to be looking for
either captains or people to work down in the bowels of the ship
shoveling coal - where the sun never shines and only a subsistence
level of living is possible. The ships see that I am not
captain of the foundering craft I'm on, and that there are others who
would be better uncomplaining slaves. Where would I fit in?
The answer being that I wouldn't. .................
"Olympus Camedia C-4040Zoom" [Top of page]
After more than 16,000 pictures, my Kodak DC-215 began malfunctioning. The problem is a simple one - a faulty switch that causes the camera to slip out of picture-taking mode. A simple problem, and if the camera were not so high-tech and... tiny (main reason actually), I think I'd open it up and find a way to fix it, but as it is, I don't have enough confidence that I would get the camera back together in one piece. (Machines can always be taken apart... the problem is getting them back together again.) In any case, I got a late paycheck from the used clothing store owner, and so... rather than wisely putting the money in the bank, I... well... yeah.
The deed was done one Tuesday afternoon..... I took a very late lunch and walked over to Yodobashi Camera to see which cameras:
a) used standard sized batteries (vital)
b) used compact flash memory cards (desirable, but not necessary)
c) used smart media memory cards (second choice after flash memory)
My insistence on standard batteries narrowed my choices down to only a handful of models, and the only two that seemed to basically fit the bill were a Casio and an Olympus. The Casio model used flash memory, while the Olympus used smart media (not "smart" in my book actually, but...), so I was tempted by the Casio right off, but visually, the Olympus looked so much better, had better optics, and (maybe) better electronic programing. Programs... it seems strange to be talking about "programs" in discussing a camera, but electronic cameras are basically little computers with lenses......
The best thing about my new Olympus compared
to the Kodak DC-215 is it's very strong low-light picture taking
ability. The camera can see better in the dark than I can!!
The lens is better, as is the CCD, which has four million pixels
(against the Kodak's one million), and a USB connection makes it easy
to download photos. That said... ergonomically, the Kodak is
better. I wish the new camera had the design of the Kodak with
the insides of the Olympus. The other new thing is that I'm now
working with 128MB of memory, compared to 32MB before. With the
higher resolution photos I'm taking though, I get basically the same
number of photos out of each memory-load. I only understand
half of the camera's functions at this point, so learning exactly
what I can do with it will take some time for experimentation.
"StarOffice 6.0 (Beta)" [Top of page]
Not being a big fan of the Microsoft Empire, I avoid their products whenever I have a choice, so other than the OS in my computer being from MS (I want to switch to Linux at some point...), I use software from other companies for just about all my applications - e-mail, word processing, photo management and editing, dictionaries, etc. For writing, I usually use StarOffice from Sun Microsystems - which is what I'm writing this with right now - so when a new version of StarOffice was announced, I downloaded it (97MB, which took six hours through a fairly slow system). The big attraction of it for me is that it now supports Japanese (and Korean and Chinese), so it's a lot more useful to me - particularly at the office.
It's a beta version, but so far it seems to
be working well. One thing that I've noticed is the old
apostrophe and quotation marks problem that plagues Japanese software
when interacting with English software. This is popping up more
and more - from E-mail that I get from new Mac users, the newer
version of Yeah Write, and now the beta version of StarOffice
It's not a really big deal, and it won't affect you if you're using
the English versions of the software - it only happens when going
between English and Japanese versions of software. I think I
might have let a couple of non-corrected computer-code apostrophes
slip out in the LL-Letters recently... but I'm trying to be more
careful about that. "What seems to happen is that the code
for new apostrophes and quotation marks triggers a Japanese font
version of the mark that, when transferred again to other English
language software, becomes computer code.
"I Have nothing to Hide" [Top of page]
I got the Prez mainly switched over to his new computer - except for the address book from Outlook, which has proven to be as impossible to transfer to another machine as always... which led to a strange conversation between us. As a temporary answer (the only answer I suspect), he is adding addresses from messages on an as-needed basis. He commented that he could get someone to go through the messages and do that for him, maybe a temporary worker. Remembering one time when he had me finish writing an e-mail for him while he stepped out of his office for a few minutes, and he left saying "Don't look at any other of the e-mail messages", I commented "Yes... but then they would be able to see all of your e-mail". His reply? "I have nothing to hide - I'm open... hahaha."
I had an urge to open that folder of strange photos on his computer, and say - "Okay then... what's this?!??", but as I've been relating, that company's motto isn't exactly "We're honest and upfront", so I gave him my best dramatic European raised eyebrows look (French?/Italian?) with a shrug, and said "I don't know what you have in your e-mail....."
Since then, I've been thinking about that
sentence of his "I have nothing to hide - I'm open", and I
have to wonder what he was thinking. I mean, this is the same
guy who carefully locks up his private office before going home, and
has shown (in hundreds of ways) a constant concern for maintaining
the privacy of his data. One possible answer as to why a man
who obviously maintains non free-access-for-all data would say that,
is that he wanted to see my reaction... possibly to ascertain whether
I'd been poking around in his mail when I transferred the files (I
hadn't), or maybe even to see if I'd seen the ITMan's photo
folder...... You have to be very careful about what you say and
how you react in Japan. Questions are often generated with
entirely different motivations than their face-value content.
Whatever it was, I'm 99.99% sure that the last thing he'll do is to
bring a stranger into his office to go through his e-mail just to
click on addresses to rebuild his address book.
"I Could Do Without the Alcohol" [Top of page]
Date: Fri, 28 Sep 2001 -0700
From: KCM [US]
Hi, it's me. I am fine, although I'm bored out of my mind and really restless. It's been an okay first week of school although the mood's kind of somber. Everyone's trying to return to normal, although "normality" is almost impossible. UCLA has decided to conduct a one unit seminar on the events of 9/11, which I am still deciding on. I may just sit in on a few of the classes.
I am taking too many lit classes for my own good. One thing that drives me nuts about my classes is that there are almost no guys in any of them. I wish that it were more evenly split, because I already have plenty of girl friends.
Alcohol is becoming more and more a part of my life, although I don't drink much. I like the occasional drink, but I think it's beginning to take over my roommates' lives. They go to parties for the free (albeit nasty and cheap) beer. I don't nag them or anything and they don't pressure me, but I think that I'm making myself more an outsider by not really participating. Oh well, forget it. It's just that I'm so sick of it. Drinking as a prerequisite to have fun seems to me the most boring thing in the world. I wish some of my northern Californian friends were down here so I could do things without alcohol being brought up every two seconds.
Anyway, talk to you later.
"Four Computer Screens on the Next
Island..... " [Top of page]
(2001/10/17 Yotsuya 17:15)
The way the desks are arranged, I have an unobstructed view of four of the computer screens of people working in the next island over (there are four groups of desks in the office). It's far enough away that I can't read what is on the screen of course, but I can see what they are doing all the time..... As I write this, Mr. Kijiman is peering intently at a list of folders four windows out from "My Computer" (why most people in the office don't use "Windows Explorer" I don't know...) - Mr. Nasakenai is writing e-mail, Ms. Hone is looking through files, and Ms. Kakoii is working on translations of Japanese newspaper headlines and magazine article titles... which will be coming to me either later today or tomorrow. Not that there is anything particularly interesting about their computer use habits - it's just that their computer screens are always visible simply by glancing up from my computer screen, so..... Conversely, I'm always aware that the three people who have line-of-sight visual access to my computer screen from their seats are probably idly watching what I do as well... which isn't a problem so long as I stick to text. If they were able to read my screen right now, they would think "Ah ha! He's not working.....", but all they can see is that I'm writing something, which it is my job to do anyway.
Well - Ms. Honyaku just tossed a rewrite job
my way, so I'll sign off with the comment that Ms. Piman entering
numbers into her cell phone is being a bit irritating with the
sounds she's making as she blithely uses her non-silenced phone.
Personally, the first thing I've done with every new cell phone I've
had is to pull out the instruction book and find out how to get rid
of those $#%& beeps! Anyway, Ms. Piman's purpose in being
on the planet is to irritate me, so I suppose she's just doing her
job...... (BTW, "piman" means "green pepper"
in Japanese. As green peppers are empty inside, the word is
also used here to mean "airhead".)
"The Aftermath of September 11th" [Top of page]
I began this letter (the series I mean, not
this individual letter) with the intent of finding common ground
between people, and I'm still focused on that ideal - so the
polarization of many people's lives makes editing more difficult.
I have been getting letters expressing valid, and yet inflammatory
material that I would like to put in, but feel compelled not to.
Religion and politics are not the sort of thing people tend to find
common ground with, and it is exactly this combination that is at the
core of recent events.....
Date: Mon, 01 Oct 2001 -0400
From: AIF [Florida, US]
I've read your letter's for a long time, and although I haven't contributed anything yet, I have enjoyed reading them. Sitting and reading the heart-felt comments and sympathy about 9/11 from so many - it brought out my own thoughts and feelings about that day. For weeks I have, like so many, struggled with questions and the desire to understand why - experiencing a roller coaster of emotions. It has taking its toll - not a day goes by that I do not weep for all that has been lost.
Thousands of people - gone... with their loved ones left behind to mourn... I mourn for all those who have lost family, and I mourn for the country, that has let itself drift apart... only now in the face of disaster have we awoken to find each other, tragic that it took such an act of terror to unite us - not just in the US, but many other nations as well. United we are, make no mistake, but for how long before we become divided again? It's truly a shame we do not pay more attention to history.
On the 11th, as I watched the second plane fly into the WTC, like so many, I couldn't believe what I was witnessing. In my office we all sat glued to the vision that just continued to play before our eyes. As the smoke billowed up from NY my coworkers thought it was the fires burning for a couple of minutes - I was the first one to realize that the building was collapsing on itself... I couldn't speak... I could hardly breathe. My mind kept screaming "My God, it's collapsing", all those people, even now as I write this my breathe is constricted and I can not hold back my tears.
Selfishly, I also mourn for myself - you see, I have never truly known war. The Gulf War - distant and over before I knew what happened it seemed, the Vietnam War - I was too young... So I mourn my loss of innocence in a sense - gone is the security I once felt. Crime happens and I am well aware of it, having been a victim, but never have I known this mass of terror in my own back yard. I mourn for my children's loss as well, as they no longer have the luxury of growing up with the feeling of security and innocence I grew up with..... When I woke on September 12th, the world had completely changed for me, nothing, nothing looks the same, and never will again.
Technology - it has its place. I myself feel at times that we have gone too far in some areas and not far enough in others. I long for a more simple time, which is, I suppose, why I don't live in a big city - I like a simpler way of life. Sometimes I wonder if we will do as many sci-fi movies have shown, and overemphasize technology to the point that we eliminate our own race.
I've gone on long enough I think..... Thank you for all the office "news", some of which I find incredible yet also very humorous in some strange way.
Subject: Re: LL-307 - Reaction To - - -
Date: Mon, 01 Oct 2001 -0400
From: EKH [US]
I am sure you have come across several URLs showing photographs from around the world - showing an outpouring of support for the US. I get goose bumps every time I visit those sites and see how we are not alone.
In my case, I am not a native born American, but I elected to become an American by being naturalized a United States citizen. Until the bleak day of September 11th, I was ambivalent regarding my allegiance. That morning, however, there was no doubt in my mind that I am a proud American.
Please extend my heartfelt thank you to all the readers of the LL.
Subject: Re: LL-307
Date: Tue, 2 Oct 2001
From: ATR [US]
............ I found LL-307 interesting. As a person who has not known war, I find recent events very frightening. I had an opportunity to go through Fort Dix, and it seemed so odd to be stopped by a soldier with a gun, to see roads closed. I went to Atlantic City and was nervous to stay on the 14th floor.....
ATR [Top of page]
"Computer Memory Blues....." [Top of page]
The following memo I sent to everyone at the
JW Office on September 10th US time, but September 11th Japan
It was late at night here in Tokyo when the morning of the 11th
dawned in New York - thus my workday September 11th was before the
world suddenly changed, which possibly makes the letter, dated
September 11th, the last letter I wrote while the towers still
stood..... I had basically forgotten about this memo, but I was
reminded of the memory problem at work when I overheard poor Mr.
Onisan asking Mr. Hetakuso if more memory might help his barely
functioning computer (which has very serious software problems as
well as insufficient memory). I've basically given up the
issue. I took a financial risk by buying memory for several of
the computers with my own money (which they ended up reimbursing me
for, but the remaining computers begging for more memory don't seem
worth the emotional and financial risks of doing office battles
Maybe I don't need to do anything at all - the power of a comment
here and a comment there by people who had their computers upgraded
will likely provide a "Some people received RAM - why not I?"
response that will inevitably lead to upward equalization...
Anyway, here's my September 10th/11th memo:
Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001 14:32:22 +0900
From: Lyle Saxon <email@example.com>
Organization: Prez Consulting, Inc.
To: Everyone <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Productivity - Companies will often invest huge sums of money in the quest of greater productivity. It's often a gamble as to whether the investment will pay for itself in the long run, but when it does, it saves money - sometimes lots of it.
In our case, we have an opportunity to increase the productivity of most of the employees through improving the performance of their computers. This can very simply and economically be achieved through increasing the memory of our fleet of computers.
The costs - Last year, one 128MB memory board cost Y18,000. Not especially cheap, but probably still worth the investment. Fortunately for us (unfortunately for the companies manufacturing memory), prices have collapsed.....
Presently, one 128MB memory board only costs Y1,500!!!!! This means that for less than Y20,000, we can double the memory in most of the company's computers.
Why? - There is a common misconception about computers that increasing memory is primarily to enable running heavy programs, and that people "only" using their machines for word processing and e-mail don't need more than 64MB or 128MB for what they are doing. This is partially true - but completely ignores stability and functionality considerations, not to mention unretrievable lost time due to underuse, crashes, etc.
More memory means less wasted time spent looking blankly at the screen waiting for heavy files to open, more stability, and perhaps most importantly - the ability to simultaneously run more programs without crashing the computer.
At least..... - It would probably be in the company's best interest to spend a total of about Y40,000 and put in 512MB of memory in all the computers, but we should at least spend the Y20,000 it would/will take to bring everyone up to about 256MB (some of the machines are already at this point).
Higher productivity pays for itself - I fully realize that the company is in the process of cutting costs, but it is purely and simply shortsighted to ignore spending such a miniscule sum of money to improve productivity. In this case, spending the money will save money. Not spending the money will cost us money.
Each of the computers we are using would be more powerful work tools with the memory. We must not relax while the competition speeds ahead technologically!
LS [Top of page]
"Out on the Balcony" [Top of page]
Date: Wed, 03 Oct 2001
From: KCM [US]
...................................................... I'm really behind on my reading and I should be looking for a work-study job. I'm really aggravated by all the money I've been spending on food and things. Little things that I don't think I need, but sometimes I actually do, and presents. Books were so expensive this quarter.....
A few days ago it was the autumn festival. My roommates and I sat out on our balcony eating moon cakes, drinking tea, and sharing childhood stories. It was pretty cool.
I talked to my family yesterday. My father has just retired and his coworkers gave him a nice going away party complete with food and three bottles of wine. My sisters are thinking of giving him a retirement dinner on Thanksgiving weekend, when my younger sister and I are free to return home. Airplane tickets are apparently really cheap right now.
"Small Minds - Big Trouble"
[Top of page]
(October 24th, 2001 Nishi-Shinjuku)
I was just thinking about KCM enjoying time out on her balcony, her father's retirement dinner, and talk of going home for a visit... this combined with a letter from PBU which included this:
"I can imagine you are a busy man in Tokyo. Remember you need a little break from time to time - to recharge your brain for a new start. Otherwise life goes on and we get older and older."
I thought "This is what life should be
about - living.......". From there I imagined how much
trouble the most ignorant, narrow-minded people in the JW Office
cause - which mirrors much of the world's troubles... now and in the
past. Why is it that small minds are able to cause so much
trouble? Evasion of responsibility combined with fear are the
obvious answers, but still "Why?" comes to mind........
"A Year Ago" [Top of page]
I found this from a year ago... which is
just about how long the battle has been raging at JW Inc. (PCN,
Inc. is a subsidiary company sharing the same office space.)
Date: Tue, 07 Nov 2000
From: Lyle Saxon <email@example.com>
Organization: Prez Consulting
To: PCN Inc. Osokumade <firstname.lastname@example.org>
................... Regarding Ms. Dokuhebi's letter to everyone. It is long and seemingly intelligently written, but it is based on fiction, not fact. In the letter, she starts off promising to "clarify some important points", and immediately follows that grand promise with malicious fiction. She states: "Press releases are not works of art", which infers that I have been talking about the style of Nantoka-san's letters, when I have done no such thing. The only issue I have brought up is content, not style. Never have I said anything at all about style - absolutely nothing - only content. Ms. Dokuhebi then goes on and on about style, and brings up the point that some of the Japanese releases are unimaginatively taken straight from the original English releases. This is about as close as she gets to any kind of truth in her letter, but even here she is ignoring the truth of the situation - which is that I have never objected to Nantoka-san making use of phrases from the English releases... what I have been concerned about (justifiably, I strongly think) is his overuse of copying entire English headlines as a "translation", regardless of whether those headlines match the Japanese (that he is supposed to be translating from) or not. Ms. Dokuhebi would have you think I'm unfairly attacking poor Nantoka-san over style, but this is simply not the case. She also makes use of the "They're guiltier than I!" argument with this:
"I can assure you that any company would be much happier with a 'cut-and-paste' article than an 'original' article that is not to their liking."
If the content is the same, then this may well be true - but even if the content is different? Put yourself in their shoes... you're paying a company good money to translate articles from a language you don't understand into a language you do so you can know what is being said about your products in a foreign country. Are you honestly going to be happier knowing that one thing is being said in the foreign language, but the company you are paying to translate those articles is often ignoring the actual content of the articles and sending you back your own releases on the same product? Just because 70% of it is accurate, does that justify both leaving out things that are said and saying things that were not said? The bottom line here is that neither Nantoka-san, nor Ms. Dokuhebi are able to translate that type of technical article into intelligible English. I am not able to clearly understand the Japanese without assistance, nor are they able to write the English without assistance. As much as Ms. Dokuhebi would like to have us believe both her sophistry and the lie that she has mastered the English language, this is contrary to reality.
If we were an advertising company, then lying through our smiling teeth on a regular basis would be fine. As it is, although any company has to create its own mystique, a consulting company should - nay, must be more concerned with reality than the mercenaries that write ad copy. Ms. Dokuhebi getting out of news was a good thing for society, and if she continues on to advertising, she'll at last be working in a job perfectly suited to the tone of her letter.
I honestly am tired just thinking about the confrontational tone that has come up, but Ms. Dokuhebi's letter is so contrary to the truth, I feel that it's my duty to steer us back towards reality. Sooner or later the truth will be revealed - why not sooner?
LS [Top of page]
"A Working Weekend, TV, Etc." [Top of page]
Subject: Dose of MMH 10/05/01
Date: Fri, 05 Oct 2001 -0700
From: MMH [US]
I wish I could report on all the fun stuff I did this weekend, but I can't... for the first time in almost a decade I worked through the weekend. Weekends are very precious to me. Aabbb and I find that they are our special time together. Normally I would have told my client "Too bad - can't help you". But, a few years ago when I was having a tough time finding work, they remained one of my regular clients, and for that year, one of my largest. I was grateful for them coming through for me and thought it was only right that I do the same for them.
This last week has been premiere week. All the new television shows and the new episodes for some of our favorite shows have been coming on... this last week when I haven't been working so much, but have been sitting it in front of the television. Aabbb and I call the television by a lot of names: TV, boob bube, & tube are just a few. Anyway, this weekend one of the premium channels that you normally have to pay to have access to will be broadcasting movies for free. The perfect way to relax after a long tiring week when the rain keeps you from yard work.
It has been three weeks now since the terrorist attack. It seems hardly any time has gone by and it also feels like years have gone by. I have yet to give blood. The Red Cross is still booked solid with blood donors. The various charity groups have caught wind that this is a good time to ask for donations and have stepped up their media campaigns. Interest is centered on people related charities... Greanpeace and the Audubon Society and other Nature related charities are finding that their donations are sliding off. You would think that they are talking about their losses for the year, but it has only been three weeks.
My brother Bbccc left last week on his trip around the world. He figured that it was a fine time to travel. The lines will be shorter and he is bound to have a lot more people interested in talking to him, what with the lack of American tourists. I look forward to getting an e-mail from him eventually.
The SPGA/Seattle Chapter of the Graphic Artists Guild had a luncheon last week that was very poorly attended. This Wednesday the board officers had a meeting (we have our board meetings the following week after the luncheons). We think attendance will go back up in a few months. It will be interesting to see what happens at the next luncheon. Our scheduled speaker is the same person who was scheduled to speak on the day we had an earthquake some months ago. A lot of people were looking forward to seeing her and asked that we have her back. So maybe there will be good attendance after all.
I went to my toastmasters meeting last night. Our group is very small and the turn out has been sporadic. Everyone hopes that I will taking on a role or something, but I am not too thrilled about doing that. I am too busy with the Guild to commit my time to another group. Still, I am learning a few things. I am thinking about visiting another club to see if low attendance is consistent in all the groups in my area.
I was to have lunch with my good friend Ccddd. Most of this letter was written on his stoop while I waited for him. I drove home slightly disappointed but more concerned. I thought perhaps Ddeee, his sweet wife, got sick and he took her to the hospital. Ccddd called me the moment I got home. His back went out on him. Our lunch date was forgotten in a fog of stabbing pain as Ddeee dragged him off to see the doctor. I hope to catch up with him next week when a mutual friend of ours comes down from Alaska.
Aabbb and I renewed our membership at the EMP (Experience Music Project). We like going there, and because we renewed early we now have two extra passes to give to friends. I wonder who will come and visit us next?
Speaking of visiting, Aabbb and I have spent the last six or so years visiting Aunt Eefff and Uncle Ffggg down in California during Thanksgiving. We need to touch base with them and see if we are still on for this year - as we haven't heard from them in a while.
MMH [Top of page]
"Too Much Office Stuff I Think..." [Top of page]
(October 25th, 2001 Nishi-Shinjuku)
In looking over this LL-Letter, I'm appalled at how much of it is taken up with stuff from the JW Office... I'm pretty sure the next one won't have nearly as much.
Well - no time to write anything more now,
and the clock is telling me to rush, so I'll call this one a wrap!
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.)
Saxon, Images Through
LLLetters@yahoo.com - Nishi-Shinjuku, Tokyo
October 25th, 2001 - (KFMM-10/LL308/HRE040617)
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