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January 2nd, 2003
"Starting Off 2003 With Linux"
"A House and Land"  by BRC &LHS
"Flying Time"  by SAJ &LHS
"Linux & Family Issues"  by KCM
"Questions, Etc."
"80,000 in the Summer"  by PBU
"Computer Fun & Computer Blues"
"Everything's So Hectic"  by KCM
"Noisy Cooling Fans & Hard Drives"
"I Have Retired!"  by SB/UK
"Time Lag"
"Male/Female Shoppers..."  by KCM
"Earth Calling Lyle - Come In Please"  by SAJ & LHS
"Linux Stuff #1"
"Will Send This Bit-by-Bit"

"Starting Off 2003 With Linux"     [Top of page]

I've said similar things before, but this time I'm really making a serious effort to successfully complete the migration from a "leading brand" of software to Linux.  In fact, I'm writing this very sentence with a Linux computer (or "box" as seems to be said in the Linux community).  Considering that I'm no fan of Microsoft, I wish I could say that everything is completely fantastic with Linux, but the truth is, while I'm impressed with the software and think that - once I've gotten over the learning curve - I'll be completely at ease with it, my experience to date is that MS-Windows 98SE has been the easiest to use of all the programs I've tried so far.  Easiest to use, but so incredibly unstable!  I've been on the computer for most of today, and my W-98SE system has crashed repeatedly - to the point where it's preventing me from getting much work done.  So... while I write this with a Linux computer, I'm putting my files from the unstable W-98SE machine onto CD-ROM so I can reformat the hard drive and either reinstall 98, or else put something else in.  If it weren't for all the application software I have that was made for W-98, I'd definitely not put that buggy program back in, and as it is, I'm considering giving up on a whole slew of application software and just going with whatever there is within Linux.  I think software vendors need to start selling things for Linux, and stop slavishly only paying attention to MS.  I've bought a lot of stuff over the years, but I'm going to stop buying more than I absolutely need if it's only available for MS products, which I don't want to use.

Oops... getting preachy about computers again I am!  So how many of you out there are using Linux?  I heard from one of my pen pals awhile back when I first mentioned it, but since then haven't heard anything from the LL-Group.  I belong to a few user groups now, and find them to be both very helpful and educational - is anyone else a member of a computer user group?

"A House and Land"     [Top of page]

Subject: Fwd: Yikes!
Date: Wed, 6 Feb 2003
From: BRC  [US]

Here is a brief summary of my background and a few experiences I've had.

I'll be 64 next month and have been retired since June 1998.  Married to the same gal for close to 44 years now, which is very unusual these days!! lol  We have eight children (the oldest 42), and as far as experiences go -OMG.. I could write a book!!  I have done everything from collect dimes in a bingo hall that my dad owned, wash dishes one summer when I was a kid, read meters for a power company, sell life insurance, and I spent the majority of my career in factories, specializing in production control and inventory control.  I worked for local companies here in the Rochester area... Bausch & Lomb, Eastman Kodak, and Xerox.  Since retiring in 1998, nowadays I just mess around the house in the colder months, playing on this silly box and doing a little woodworking and anything else that might catch my fancy!!  In the warmer months, I love to work in my yard with my flower beds.  We have a summer camp south of here near the Pennsylvania border, that is our pride and joy.  We have almost 30 acres that sits on a hilltop at about 2500 ft above sea level - one can see for miles around.  We have a big vegetable garden down there, as well as a few flower beds and 25 acres of hardwoods.  Now that I have bored you for the last ten minutes or so, I will leave it right there.  I will continue with my experiences in the next installation... you may have to remind me but its coming soon.


Not boring to read!  A house!  A yard!  Relaxing days!  30 acres of land!!!  For me it's as boring as reading about adventures in the outer reaches of the galaxy.  Contrast it with the crush-rush rides on the Chuo Line (which has the highest suicide rate of the train lines in Japan apparently), working under a vast array of bare florescent tubes (florescent tubes, the curse of humankind) producing about 50x more light than is necessary, and working with people who spend so much time commuting to and from work and working overtime on top of that... that they effectively have no life outside of the company.  The high suicide rate... according to a recent newspaper article, over 30,000 people per year commit suicide, which breaks down to around 600 per week!!  I'm not about to do so myself mind you, but there are days when I'm standing on a train station platform, and as I wait for another hellish train ride to begin, it occurs to me that living this kind of life, it's not strange that a high number of people decide they can't wait for something to check them out (earthquake, accident, sickness, etc.) and they decide to take an express checkout from a life that seems to be not only no fun at all, but hopeless....

So... a house, a yard, relaxing days in the yard or on 30 acres of land can not possibly be boring to read about for me.  The crush of 30,000,000 people makes life in Tokyo like life on another planet.

"Flying Time"     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: ExpensiveCostOfLivingInJapan...
Date: Sun, 10 Mar 2002 +0100
From: SAJ  [US / The Netherlands]

I don't know why it takes me so long to reply to e-mail these days.  I can't say where the time goes, but the days turn into weeks - and time vanishes before I know it.  Must be old age.

I understand what it's like to want to move or do something but not be able to.  I have never been very responsible - doing things without thinking about the long term effects or the chances I am taking.  Moving with only the money to get there, and no job waiting for me just because it was something I wanted to do, has happened a couple of times in my life.  Looking back, I must have been crazy doing such a thing with two children.  I can only imaging what the cost of living must be like there... but then again, the cost of living in any large city is high.


Well, SAJ has a point there.  Cities are always expensive, but they are also where excitement and jobs tend to be, so that's where people go.  The ideal setup would be being able to spend a certain amount of time both in the city and the country.  Just moving out to the country doesn't seem to be an answer at this point.  There is also a huge risk in packing it up and moving into a community with a limited number of people, as if you end up not fitting in, there is nowhere to go but completely out.  That's one thing about living in a mega-city like Tokyo.  You could move literally hundreds (thousands maybe) of times within Tokyo, and each and every time you would have a completely new set of neighbors who had never met you before.  All that change and you could still keep the same job in central Tokyo.

"Linux & Family Issues"     [Top of page]

Subject: hello!
Date: Mon, 15 Apr 2002  +0800
From: KCM  [US]

Hi!  (I'm typing this on Aabbb's laptop, since he is working on his CS project on his desktop.)  I finished all the reading I have to do for tomorrow, so I'm kind of aimless right now.  Sometimes speed reading can be a curse.

Anyway, how are you?  I'm actually very happy right now for no particular reason.  I'm perfectly content until I read the news - then that depresses me.  Aabbb is Palestinian, so the stuff going on in the Middle East really affects him and it gets frustrating trying to wrap my head over what is going on over there.  It also reinforces my belief that politicians are complete idiots,who seem to want to play war, no matter what the cost.

Classes are going well so far.  I have very funny, brilliant professors and a really nice schedule, which leaves me with a lot of free time.  I might end up having more free time, as my work-study is about to end, and I was thinking about doing some volunteer work, but I haven't decided what or where yet.

Do you use Linux?  Aabbb says he's going to install it on my laptop, because MS-ME keeps crashing and doing stupid things like restarting for no particular reason.  He also told me I should take some programming classes at school, so I'll have something to put on my resume.  That might not be a bad idea (there's a voice in my head going, "you need MARKETABLE SKILLS")... but I don't know.  Programming seems so boring, compared to English, which is pretty much an excuse to read books and discuss ideas.

He's also been interviewing for a position with a major company.  If he gets the job, he'll be living in Portland next year.  We're both unsure of how things will turn out, but for now we plan to try to have a long-distance relationship.  I'll visit as much as I can; he says that he will be paying for my airfare because of the generous salary, which surprised me, because I wasn't planning on asking him to - but this way, I can probably visit him more.

My oldest sister is pregnant with twins.  She's not speaking to any of her sisters, not since her husband blew up at my 3rd sister on Christmas Day.  If it weren't for the fact that he had an abusive father himself, I think he would have hit her.  Now, they come over to our house, but they only stay in one part of the house and refuse to talk to us.  I don't even think an apology's going to work, because they're so bitter they can't see straight.  It's hard for my parents, though, because they want us to get along and be a family.  Frankly, my brother-in-law has to take most of the blame.  He hates us so much, and I don't even understand where the hate comes from.  And then this hate rubs off on my oldest sister, who decides she'll support him no matter how stupid or outrageously he acts.  But then, he has always been a hateful person, except towards my sister and his daughter.  Everything else he seems to do out of obligation.

Oooh... I didn't mean to go on this long...


Linux!  I use it!  I'm editing this letter with it in fact.  Timely to be asked that this evening!  At the moment, I've working on backing up all my files in my W-98SE computer, and after that... putting something else in.  Either W-2K or Linux.  Considering all the application stuff I have, I may end up putting in 2K, but I'm not sure.  I recent switched over to 2K at the office and I had to discontinue using a few of my favorite applications as they don't run on a 2K platform.  Otherwise, the platform does seem more stable... but the running applications seem to be less stable!  As I put it to a guy in a newsgroup "The ship is more stable, but more things fall off the decks!", to which he replied "Better than having the whole ship sink!".  True enough, but if the application you're using crashes, it's not hugely different whether it's only that one application or the platform, unless other open applications go down with a sinking ship.

Family squabbles.  I know how that can be.  I and one of my brothers haven't been in contact with each other for about six years now since his wife and I took an almost instant and intense disliking to each other.  She doesn't want him associating with me, so he doesn't, and I don't want to come between a man and his wife, so I leave it alone, but when I stop and think that I can't even call my brother and have a chat the resentment comes back from the dusty storage area where I've tried to relegate those memories.     [Top of page]

"Questions, Etc."     [Top of page]

"..... are Athlon (AMD) equipped CPUs available there?"

Yes.  My most recently acquired computer has an AMD processor - admittedly not such a fast one - only 300MHz (in a used computer).  When I came to Japan in 1984, imported things were unusual and expensive, but since the yen became strong some ten years ago, things have changed... fortunately!  Otherwise, computers would be a lot more expensive here.

"I hope you are doing well.  Are you relatively stable with your employment situation?"

The job was fairly good in the beginning, with a desk, sets of locking drawers on both sides of the desk, partitions, and I sat next to large windows and a balcony that I could step out onto for short breaks.  But... I was hired for a new project (creating an English language magazine for an automobile manufacturer), and when I could see things being done that were leading to the destruction of that project, I took action by writing some e-mails detailing some of the exact causes of the problems that were occurring, as well as some that were about to occur!  The problem was, one of the major problems was a woman who turned out to be politically connected....

It figures!  And I should have known that anyone so obviously unsuited to the job at hand must have gotten in through the back door (or through an attic window).  In any case, that was the end of that first promising period, and the start of a new round of jungle warfare.

The project, as I had foreseen (and for that exact reason) was lost.  After than, when the company reshuffled everyone around, my section was moved from the sixth floor to the third floor.  The third floor is mainly a sales section - full of salespeople screaming cheerfully on the telephone, and running their mouths nonstop between telephone calls.  Practice makes perfect, so talkers need to talk, but if you need to write, it's not easy to think among cheerfully screaming salespeople.

Next step.  An Australian guy who couldn't stand the pressure he was under on the second floor, quit the company and started working freelance.  As the project I was hired for never materialized (or was sabotaged with stupidity, depending on how clearly you want to state it), I ended up stepping into the vacancy created with the departure of the Australian guy.  And then... hooooo boy!  Now I understand only too well why he got out - and why he looked so tired all the time!

What's next?  The guy who left is recommending that I do what he's doing, but there's a problem.  He's good at his job, which is producing speedy (and often overly direct) translations of technical things that people are not likely ever to read, or if they do, read specifically to find something, like looking up a word in a dictionary.  Most people don't really expect that the manuals (etc.) will be well written (they almost never are after all).  The problem here for me, is that I've always been a stickler for knowing what it is that needs to be said before attempting to write it down.  But the translation business is all about speed.  The companies paying for the translations into English are forever and ruthlessly seeking any way to cut costs, and so the quality of the text is sold down the river.  The only upward pressure on quality comes from angry customers who are given manuals so poorly and inaccurately written that they loudly complain.  Unfortunately however, the quality has to hit rock bottom before people complain.  Since most people already expect instruction manuals to be mainly worthless, if they can drag any meaning out of them at all, then they don't generally complain.

"How is this job similar/different than at JW?"

The main difference between this company (publishing, etc.) than the PR company I was at before, is that it's a larger company, so there's the possibility of moving from one section to another - unfortunately though, I seem to have jumped from one frying pan into the fire of another.  The next move is most likely to be out the door, but there's one angle I'm working on....

"Do you eat sushi very frequently?"

I probably have it once or twice a month on average, although I've had it nearly every day for four or five days running when I'm feeling rich.  There are places called "kaiten-sushi" where they have plates of sushi (in pairs) set on a conveyor belt that runs in a circle, with the people making the sushi on the inside of the circle and the customers on the outside.  As the food is already there and just awaiting someone taking it, this is the fastest of fast foods.  One time when I was in a rush, I timed myself.  I looked at my watch, rushed in, grabbed two plates, ate, stood up and paid, and was standing back on the street outside in 50 seconds!  Try that at a hamburger place!  (Note:  I'm not exaggerating!  I wanted to see if I do it in under a minute, and thanks to not having to wait behind anyone at the register, I was able to quite easily.)     [Top of page]

"80,000 in the Summer"     [Top of page]

Subject: LL-313
Date: Sun, 28 Apr 2002 18:57:21 +0000
From: PBU  [Pakistan / UK]

Last month I went out to Canada and the Philippines for a nice (if short) holiday.  Since I've returned to work, they've been keeping me busy.  Lots of tourists come over to Jersey island, and the population increases from 75,000 to 80,000 each summer.  At the same time, our hospital becomes busier, and naturally that affects me!  Summer is approaching and I'm preparing myself mentally!

Whenever I take a study tour, my employer pays for it.  My last trip to Singapore was to attend a convention and my employer kindly offered help.  In April of 2002, I was to attend another one in Italy, but I was not able to get the visa!  Therefore my trip was canceled.  My next travel plans are for Pakistan, which happens every year in July/August and I'm looking forward to that... along with my family.  The children are always glad to get together with their cousins, and my wife and I are glad to see our parents.  My brother lives in Canada and I'm glad I had the opportunity to visit him recently, seeing him for the first time in eight years!  And later this year I'm finally preparing myself for those exams which I have been postponing for a long time... it's about time!  Many of my friends have passed these exams and got their promotions.... (the anesthetic exams).


"Computer Fun & Computer Blues"     [Top of page]

January 3rd, 2003 - 23:31... and I'm having fun with Linux!  There is definitely a learning curve involved in switching from MS to Linux, but it was the same thing for me when I first began using MS-95.  In the beginning you don't know what there is in the first place, and then as you begin to discover things, you have trouble finding them again... but as you bumble along you learn what you can and cannot do.  The failures are irritating and the successes are pure fun.  Thus it is for me at the moment.

Just when I have reached burnout regarding pouring forever more money into software, here is a comprehensive package with most of what I need.  That said, I'm not adverse to paying for things.  For this computer user, there are more things I would buy if they were offered in a version that would work on the Linux platform, but will not buy otherwise.  The product life-cycle of MS is too short.  Not everyone can afford to be forever pouring money into Redmond.

Microsoft is fighting Linux in any way it can.  No wonder.  Software may be difficult to create initially, but is definitely not difficult or expensive to produce and get to the consumer.  Whether or not you agree with the concept of people developing computer software that is available for anyone to use for free (with that intent from the beginning), there is something obscene about the extraordinarily high prices and incredible profits of MS.

Back in 1986, I began as a Microsoft fan - but there have always been things that surprised/distressed me.  Shortly after buying Windows 3.1 as a new product, I went to the building where Microsoft's help center was located to ask a few questions.  Yeah, I know.  That's a pretty stupid thing to do!  But my reasoning at the time was that I was a customer who had just bought a high-profit margin product and it didn't seem like such a strange idea that they might talk with me for a few minutes.  The receptionist called someone, and someone (in the same building) talked to me on the phone - telling me that I could call them under the 90-day support I had since I had bought W-3.1, but they couldn't talk to me in the building.  Having typed that, I"m tempted to backspace those foolish-sounding words into oblivion, but why is it only natural that a company overcharging all its customers should treat those same customers as thought they are a nuisance that the company can't be bothered with?

"Everything's So Hectic"     [Top of page]

Subject: Hi Hi Hi!
Date: Sun, 23 Jun 2002
From: KCM  [US]

...... everything's been so hectic.  I went back home for a week and was miserable there and now I'm back in my apartment.  We've sublet our apartment to these two girls and they have friends over.  I'm kind of tired, and it feels awkward, so I am using my roommate's computer to catch up on emails and stuff.

I was so miserable at home.  The first thing my mom said to me was, "You look horrible!  Why are you so skinny?  Have you been eating?  You need to eat something now.  Let me make you some soup."  And thus began the gallons and gallons of nasty Chinese soups that I had to down for the rest of the week.  It's the grossest thing in the world.  That and my mom just made me miserable for the entire week.  The night before, she was all like, "You guys aren't even happy to be home.  Why bother?"  Gee, I wonder why?

I don't mean to be mean to my mom; it's just difficult not to shut myself up when she overreacts to things, and all the fussing just annoys me even further.  I turn into such a teenager when I get home; it's not pretty.

Aabbb being in Europe right now makes things a lot harder to deal with.  He's been sending me emails every day and I wish I was with him in Italy, looking at all the cool artwork.  He was complaining about his friend's girlfriend, who wanted to go shopping in Pisa instead of going to the museum.  Oh well....

I am going to go to school again in two days.  Will this nightmare never ever end?  Actually, I brought it upon myself, so I shouldn't complain too much.  This summer should be more interesting; I can keep myself busy and I am planning on making a few websites through my post modernism/job skills class.  So we'll see.

I have a headache... guess I should go.


"Noisy Cooling Fans & Hard Drives"     [Top of page]

(2003/02/22)  Something that hasn't concerned me before when using computers, but is suddenly on my mind, is the noise they make.  In the beginning, I only used one computer - an IBM ThinkPad (a laptop), so it wasn't especially noise anyway, and it was just that one machine.  Later, when I began using a desktop machine for writing (after the ThinkPad burned out), I didn't find the noisier hard drive and cooling fans much of an irritant, but once I got to the point where I was running two or more computers at the same time, the noise began to be irritating.  And then... Akihabara!  The area name synonymous with computers in Japan, and where the company I began working at last year is located.  I got into the habit of wandering through the area, checking out the used computer stores on a daily basis - inevitably ending up buying several computers on the cheap, and suddenly I found myself working with three or four of them running simultaneously.  A single noisy computer is one thing - four noisy computers is something else.

Like a lot of things in life, something irritating that doesn't bother you - once it begins to, you develop a hypersensitivity to it after having put up with more than your fair share of background irritation.  And so, for the first time, I decommissioned a perfectly functioning computer only because I couldn't stand listening to it any longer.  To replace it, I bought a new (used) Dell OptiPlex GX-100 with 466MHz/128MB/6GB.  I was fairly happy with its operation, but the hard drive was a bit small (and noisy), so I bought an 80GB drive (mainly for the size) and was very pleasantly surprised to discover that it is very nearly noiseless!  Now the loudest sound the machine makes is the cooling fan on the CPU!  I also upped the memory to 512MB, so the new specs are 466MHz/512MB/80GB.

"I Have Retired!"     [Top of page]

Subject: No More Office!
Date: Sat, 27 Jul 2002
From: SB/UK  [UK]

I have retired!  What fun it now is not to have to rush about trying to get all my jobs done, but still loads to do and I am about to bring out that old saying from retired people - 'How did I find time to go to work'.

I left at the end of June and so have just about had one month of leisure.  But as I knew I was leaving, I tended to make all appointments for July, so it has been a mite hectic zipping about from appointment to appointment!  However, August should be easier.  The weather has been good too, so am enjoying the garden which is finally finished!  All decked and shaded!  Am doing some voluntary work, and have got involved with an organisation called U3A (University of the Third Age) which is specifically for people who have finished with full time employment and yet want to maybe learn things or make friends or visit places, or go to theatres together.  Seems to be good.  So watch this space....


"Ochanomizu"     [Top of page]

(2003/03/03  Ochanomizu  15:35)  I'm now up on the 7th floor of the building I've been working in for the past year.  From the 6th floor to 3rd, then to the 2nd, and now the 7th.  The next move - is out the door, as my time here is about to run out.

(2003/03/13  Ochanomizu  19:03)  Still up on the 7th floor - where it looks like I'll be through to the end of this month, as the job hunting isn't going so well.  As one letter I received today put it:

"We have been somewhat overwhelmed with more than 150 replies to the one-time ad in The Japan Times."

So, obviously, I'm not alone out there in the job hunt!  Before now, mostly the news about the bad economy was just that - news, but now it's something I'm experiencing, and it's a scary thing.  I find myself asking "What's happening in the world now?  What's going to happen from here... where are things headed?"

(2003/03/14  Ochanomizu  18:21)  If I only had this 7th floor conference room I've been working in for the past few days as a regular office!  It's great!  Big windows that let in lots of natural light - a view of a piece of the concrete jungle outside, with the sky above (good thing it's not below), and... Miles Davis playing on a good stereo system that's part of an AV setup in this room for presentations.  Oh!  And incandescent lighting that can be dimmed down.  None of those horrible florescent tubes that are so beloved in this country!  If I could use this as a regular office... but what it in fact is, is a parting gift before I am booted out on the street.  Nevertheless, this is also a piece of my life, so I'm happy for this experience.

"Time Lag"     [Top of page]

I must apologize for the huge time lag with the letters.  So much has been going on, and so much has changed.  One huge problem is the flood of junk mail that is so obnoxious and so obviously being sent to people who don't want it, that one is temped to think someone is trying to bring the Internet down.  Remember how I originally contacted a lot of you?  I would see an address at a pen pal site, or in the header of joke mail, and I would send a letter saying what I was doing and asking if you were interested in joining the project....  I think if I tried to do that now, it would never get off the ground.  There is so much horrible junk flooding the wires now that people are (justifiably) nervous about mail that seems to come from out of the blue.  No more serendipity with e-mail....

1996 & 1997... are seeming like a very very long time ago now.  Another century not only in name but in so many other ways.  There were times... when I read about history in school, and felt envious of people who lived through momentous times... now we are entering momentous times and I want nothing so much as to live in peaceful times - creating my own adventures - with no need to be in a raging river of change I didn't choose to enter.......

"Male/Female Shoppers..."     [Top of page]

Subject: hello!
Date: Sun, 30 Jun 2002
From: KCM  [US]

Hi!  It is a gorgeous day outside and I just came back from the campus's Sculpture Garden.  I think that I am going to start taking pictures this summer with my new digital camera.  I finally got a friend to go with me to Fry's to get a 64MB flash memory card, which is plenty.  You know what I find annoying?  No one talks to me in those stores unless I am with Aabbb, or with a guy friend.  I was in Best Buy yesterday, looking for something in the mp3 player section.  But no one came near me until I went to the DVD section.  I know most people just assume girls don't know anything about technology, but sheesh...  Anyway, I wasn't looking for anything in particular; I just thought it was interesting.

I just finished a 700 page novel.  I'm so proud of myself.  Classes are going well and I am going to learn HTML starting next week!  Yay!  I'm planning several different webpages, and we'll see.  My instructor for that class is really cool - he's pretty young and very enthusiastic and smart, which is good.  It would have been such a waste if he were dumb.  I've had enough of that kind to last me a lifetime.

We're reading Derrida, father of deconstructionism.  Interesting philosophy, but so convoluted!

I miss Aabbb, of course.  It drives me crazy when he doesn't email me, but I talked to him for almost an hour today.  He says he's in Germany right now and that it's really clean and efficient, but very smoky, whereas Italy was really inefficient and smoky.  We joked with each other about being unfaithful to each other, although we know we have nothing to worry about.

I think the deal with my parents is both generational and cultural.  They can't seem to understand my very American need for independence and see all the suffocating as love and caring - and how could I not appreciate that?  It just makes me uncomfortable to be home now, especially since I am 21 and legally an adult now.  I don't want curfews and restrictions placed on me, but it's impossible to even formulate, much less convey, those desires to my parents, because I am a girl.


"Earth Calling Lyle - Come In Please"     [Top of page]

Subject: Are you there?
Date: Wed, 23 Oct 2002  +0200
From: SAJ  [US / Holland]

I have no idea how long it has been since I have heard from you or I have dropped you an email. I do know that your last LL was dated July!  Where in the world are you?  What are you doing?  Did you send out a farewell and I missed it?  I would love to hear from you and to know what you are up to.

I went to Florida three times within the past ten months.  December, June and September.  In June, a friend of mine, Aabbb and I went turtle watching.  Matter of fact - I went many times.  Someone would call, and I would tell them if they wanted to get together with me, they would have to go to the beach, as I was there just about every night looking for turtles.  Not one night did I see less than three.  It was so wonderful.  In September I was hoping to see some hatchings.  I only got to go one night though, and only saw some eggs that were being washed away from a storm passing by the coast.

Everything is fine in Holland.  We got a golden retriever three weeks ago which has kept me busy every since.  He is a handful.  Just like having a two year old around.  Can't let him out of your sight for a second when he is awake.


Where have I been?  I also want to know the answer to this question!  19:22... time to leave the conference room!  More later!

(Later...)  I've been right here in Tokyo... spending too much time at the company.  And a fat lot of good it's done me - they're not renewing my contract, so I have to find new work... again.

(2003/03/17  Ochanomizu  12:27 p.m.)  I've been using the conference room to work in my final month here, but it definitely has its drawbacks.  I was looking through the Monday Japan Times and circling help wanted ads to send my resume to while listening to Dan Rather interview Saddam Hussein, when my old nemesis, Mr. Aizuchi showed up with his team of flunkies for another of his meaningless interminable meetings, so I had to clear out double time.  Do I have the right to say "meaningless interminable meetings" here?  I think so!  I sat through that salesman's (his actual title is "Managing Director") three hour meetings time and time again - week after week - month after month, for most of last year.  There was never any substance to them!  It was always just him playing company, the way children will play house or army or whatever they are incapable of doing, but wish they could.  Mr. Aizuchi is a perfect example of someone with all the right credentials and background who proves himself to be nearly worthless when push comes to shove.  A man who, faced with the choice of either fighting for that which is right, of selling people down the river to get himself a ticket out of a bad spot, will always sell people down the river to save himself.  A truly despicable human being.

Oops... letting some passion in there!  Better to be dispassionate sometimes about things too close to ground zero.....     [Top of page]

"Linux Stuff #1"     [Top of page]

I'm not sure there will be a #2 to this yet - but I thought I'd toss some Linux info I was sent in here for anyone who might be interested.  The fascinating thing about Linux, is how when you're stumped with some aspect of it, if you belong to a user group, generally a request for help will generate the needed answer.  The flip side being (naturally) that when someone asks a question you can answer, you should.  Laterally helping each other....

Anyway - here's some info for a newbie:

Yes, you would open a shell in a terminal window.  A terminal window is what looks like a DOS window (actually DOS copied it but anyway).  You can open a primitive one by clicking something like shift-alt-F1 and then get back to X-Windows (the graphic desktop) with something like Alt-F8.  But the best way is to use a terminal program.  There are probably a number of them in the applications menu, like xterm or rxvt.  You can also probably start one by right clicking on the desktop, a terminal program is in there somewhere probably.  By the way a shell is actually a program which lets you type commands and it shows the output and displays a the prompt. There are several, though the most common is sh or maybe bash (Bourne-again shell).  You can write programs in shell code, so everything you type could be done automatically probably.

Anyway, most everything can be done through the shell.  You may also have  some programs which use a graphic user interface (GUI, in other words it shows its own window).  I think in RedHat you can just click on a CD icon on the desktop, or open a folder and click on the CD you find in its file tree as in windows.  Or in a menu of the folder mount it if that doesn't work.

But it is good to learn the command line so you know what's going on and can do things that the GUI can't help you with.  The mount command allows you to mount any kind of a disk in tons of formats.  You can read the manual page  by typing "man mount" into the terminal window, or check out an online man page archive like linuxdoc.com.  Normally you'd mount with "mount /mnt/cdrom" and unmount the CD to eject it with "umount /mnt/cdrom".   There is also more info ("more than you ever wanted to know about x") on the net or in the HOWTO documents on your disk (/usr/doc) or online.

While I'm at it I'll just mention that with RedHat you most likely have the GNOME desktop already installed, and maybe another one called KDE (I think you can use KDE apps but the KDE desktop is not used by default). Anyway the GNOME user's guide will help.  Click the help question mark if you see one, or read it online.  Maybe you have a really recent version with Nautilus which is a good file manager.  Check out www.gnome.org.

Anyway redhat is cool because you can quickly download tons of precompiled things as RPM packages either from websites, ftp archives, or using the client program (command line or gnome version.. gnorpm I believe).

Finally I just found a link for you:
It shows screenshots of Gnome (the latest version).  And of course you can update Gnome for free too.  Some of the examples show the Nautilus file manager (http://www.labs.redhat.com/gug/users-guide/nautilus.html)
and that and its help menu item may help you more with your CD question.

"Will Send This Bit-by-Bit"     [Top of page]

(2003/03/18 - 7th Floor Conference Room)  Okay!  I'm going to start sending this out - a bit at a time.  My address book needs a bit of updating, so I'll send this out to just a small groups of people at a time so I can deal with the returned stuff as it comes in.  I'm afraid I'm going to lose a lot of people though.  What with the junk mailers mucking up the system, people are canceling old addresses, mail boxes seem to fill up if not constantly attended, and some BCC mail is automatically junked, which will also (unfortunately) stop any legitimate mail sent BCC (as is this letter).

Anyway... until next time,

Sore dewa!

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon, Images Through Glass
LLLetters@yahoo.com - Nishi-Shinjuku, Tokyo
March 18th, 2003 - (KFMM-18/LL316/HRE040616)
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