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"Letter-Letter 323"
November 29th, 2003
"Wealthy Single Women"
  by IAC & LHS
"No Place Like Home"  by APP
"Perception is Not Often Reality"  by CJP & LHS
"Village Politics x 30,000,000"
"From Indonesia"  by RWD
"We Voted 'Yes'"  by PCZ
"Enjoying the Heat"  by PBU
"Thanks, But No Thanks 2003/12"
"In Nagoya Now & D-Cameras" by Yo/Gr & LHS
"Office Idiots' Idiocy"
"Navigating the Trains"  by APP & LHS
"The Hindenburg"  by TJE & LHS
"Fighting Parasites"  by LNX & LHS
"Trip to North Dakota, Etc."  by GTK
"Train Pushers"  by HHE & LHS
"Saving Train Fare..."
"Comments on Mutant Nose Ads"  LHS, SAJ, LBP & CPK
"'Village Politics' Text in the Wires"
"Stepping on Faces"  by CPK
"Sticky Rice"  by HHE
"Actions & Reactions"  by CPK & LHS
"Busy with Life"  by CZH
"Cheap Cigarettes"  by BRC & LHS
"I Quit Smoking"  by TRG
"Looking for Work & Working"  by KCM (x3)
"December 30th, 2003 - Looking for a Sponsor!"

"Yappari!"     [Top of page]

(2003/11/29)  I could see what was coming when I sent my "Stupid Man" letter to the newsletter-editing group at the company I'm working at.  In accordance with the law of the land, I have been given my 30-day notice, so as of the end of December, I am no longer employed.  Knowing that it was coming didn't make it any more pleasant when it happened, but I suppose it was better than if it had dropped out of a clear blue sky with no warning.

Looking back, the only thing I regret is that I tried to be personable with anyone there.  I probably should have been only a cool, detached professional man with an inscrutable face.  Even so though, I likely would have suffered the same fate.  I couldn't have ignored it when Ms. Meshitsukai started mucking with my work computer, and that issue alone would have set the refrigerator creatures against me.  And so, probably... the outcome was inevitable.

"Wealthy Single Women"     [Top of page]

Date: Tue, 19 Aug 2003  +0530
From: IAC  [India]

There was a news item in The Hindu that Rajanikanth films have become so popular that there is a fan club in Japan with more than 10,000 members.  Four of them came and stayed at the Woodlands Hotel, apparently spending 600,000 Rs or 1.5 million yen for the trip.  This actor charges around three or four million dollars per assignment and he is the highest paid star in India.

Now tell me when will you make it to India?


So much to comment on here regarding the four movie fans and their expensive trip, but first, who is this actor?  I did a quick search on the Internet to see what would come up for "Rajanikanth", and as the first couple of sites I found were self-promos for students at universities, Rajanikanth seems to be a regular name.  When I found the name on a movie-related page, it said that the actor's real name is Shivaji Rao, and that his nickname ("pet name", as the site put it) is "Rajani".  Also of interest were the regional names for areas famous for movies.  I read years ago about "Bollywood" and now it seems that there is also a "Tollywood"!

As for those four people and their expensive trip - I haven't seen the article IAC refers to, but in all likelihood, those tourists who had the time and money to spend on a trip like that were very likely young (or not so young) single women.  There is a vast army of single women in Tokyo who have good full time jobs, but live with their parents and have no financial responsibilities at all, so while their income often would be nothing to speak of if they were supporting themselves, it is substantial when directed purely towards personal enjoyment.  An Australian friend of mine is dating a woman in such a situation.  She not only has no financial responsibilities (since she is living with her parents), but has a good job with the monopolistic land line company - making more money per year than I ever have, resulting in more disposable income than she knows what to do with (but makes my friend pay for dinner, etc., in spite of her making four times as much money as he does).  As a fan of the Rolling Stones, she bought tickets to all of their appearances in London, flew off to see them (staying at an expensive hotel of course) and when one of the concerts was postponed, she flew back to Tokyo for a few days, and then returned to London for the postponed concert!

It's ironic, because Japanese women still have a reputation in the West as being downtrodden and victims of a "male dominated society", and while this stereotype is not entirely without basis, I would venture to say that many single women in Tokyo are enjoying their lives more than single women in just about any other country.

And so, to answer the question: "Now tell me when will you make it to India?" - I can only say that as I'm not a wealthy single Tokyo woman, I don't have enough money to jet around to different counties on a whim!  India seems to be a fascinating place, so I'd like to visit, and when I get enough money together somehow, then I'll start thinking about concrete travel plans....

Lest you think I'm criticizing women here for their lifestyle; actually I'm not - I would likely behave similarly were I living under/within similar circumstances.  It should be noted that what stops many women from getting married here is the simple reason that there's nothing in it for them.  They are financially secure - they have somewhere to live with people who love them (their parents), they don't want children, and so they are free.  What do they get in exchange for losing their freedom?  A socially acceptable way to have children is about the only reason, but a large percentage of them don't want children, so....     [Top of page]

"No Place Like Home"     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: Akihabara
Date: Fri, 22 Aug 2003
From: APP  [Australia]

Thanks for the photo.  Although I must say I prefer the wide-open spaces of Australia.  A lovely blue sky with white fluffy clouds; sitting in a restaurant by the sea with a chilled glass of white wine, looking at the ferries and yachts passing by; a brilliant sun rising from the ocean or a sun disappearing behind a mountain.  I love to travel and I love seeing and appreciating what other countries have to offer, but like most folk, I think there is no place like home.

APP, from Down Under

"Perception is Not Often Reality"     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: 'Artistic' Photos...
Date: Sun, 31 Aug 2003
From: CJP  [Canada]

..... My internal conflict with the prospect of blunt writing is, well, writing for the minority majority is the only way to really get read.  It's all well and good to release a 5,000 print title for the colleges and coffee shop crowd, but does it really accomplish anything other than preaching to the converted?  Don Marquis wrote, "If you make people think they're thinking, they'll love you.  If you really make them think, they'll hate you."  His being a big frog aside, I'm wondering if a fine line is required between blunt trauma information and surgically finessed humor to actually reach people.  Regardless, I intend to go ahead with my plans, and if all goes according to plan, I'll discuss this with the editor when all's said and done.



That quote - "If you make people think they're thinking, they'll love you.  If you really make them think, they'll hate you." - I do believe it's true in most cases!  When I think about it, I must admit that it's much more pleasing to believe that you were right without having to think it through and possibly come to the unpleasant conclusion that large blocks of what you believe... or believed, are... or were, flawed and need to be rethought.  Nevertheless, personally, I think there is a great pleasure in discovering that which is based on fact, reality, and above all else - truth.  What is worse than a world in which truth is not respected?  Then it all becomes a barbaric situation in which "might is right".  Might alone - in reality, in truth - in the long run, is not in fact right.  I think we all need to try much harder to see the truth in the world.

There was a guy at the PR company who told me, "perception is reality".  This guy was hired away from another company by the president of the PR agency, who met the "perception" man at his church.  The guy could only stand being at the PR agency for about three months before he quit and went back to his old job, and during his three months in PR, he continued to conduct a lot of his former business on the phone at the PR agency.  It was amusing to watch actually - as only Mr. LookingFor (another native English speaker) and myself could understand the content of the conversations - everyone else in the company was impressed with the guy's professional persona, and thought he was working hard for the PR agency!

So - in the short term, that man's "perception is reality" philosophy would seem to be true, but the truth is - perception is not reality - reality is reality.  His performance - in plain English - was a deception, and as a deception, he could not have maintained it for an indefinite period of time.  I thought it was funny at the time, but in light of the way things have been going in the world, it's actually a profoundly depressing situation.  A group of people not searching for the truth hard enough, who are - as a result - easily made fools of, and a man who says - without a trace of shame - "perception is reality" as he deceives people and believes all to be right with the world he is making a fool of....     [Top of page]

"Village Politics x 30,000,000"     [Top of page]

(2003/12/21)  I was invited out for a drink/dinner at a Thai restaurant (you never just go for a drink in Japan; drinking is done in conjunction with eating) on Friday with the boss (Mr. Hikoki), Mr. GoodGaijin-II and Ms. Megawarui.  I was not enthusiastic about the prospect of sitting down to dinner with Mr. GG and Ms. M, who have been less than exemplary workmates, but the situation seemed to be anthropologically interesting and I profess to be interested in discovering the truth about the world and myself, so of course I said I'd go (the boss picking up the tab for all four didn't hurt either).

The result?  I came away from the meeting feeling as follows about the three people I spent a few hours with on Friday evening:

Mr. Hikoki:  We seem to be somewhat on a similar wavelength and able to discus things together and work well together, but he is disgusted by my lack of respect for "the organization" as he puts it.  Actually, it's not that I disrespect organizations by definition, but that I strongly believe that when you find something wrong, you should address the problem and not honor - above all else - "the organization".

Ms. Megawarui:  We began with an amicable working relationship, but that soured badly under the influence of the psychotic (and I don't mean that as an exaggeration or jokingly) Ms. Reichi and Ms. Meshitsukai, and I found my bitter feelings towards her (it was her more than anyone who was pivotal in my losing the job) softened somewhat over dinner and beer (the national drink), but... I have something she wants before I leave.  She and the boss have requested that I train her in how to do the layout for the newsletter.  I knew she wouldn't be able to do that, and I wasn't about to offer to help, but the boss dangled a carrot by saying that he'll try to help me find a new job and possibly send me work on a freelance basis, so I (stupidly) said I would....

Mr. GoodGaijin-II:  I came away with a surprisingly strengthened scorn of this %$#& PR man - who seems not to have an honest bone in his body.  In fact, I daresay I despise that character!  Actually, a lot of the blame for what happened between PR-man and myself can be attributed to Mr. Hikoki stupidly having us "check" each other's work.  I could write circles around Mr. GoodGaijin-II, and I exposed the idiocy of his writing - he attacked from his end by doing background research and finding factual errors in one of the overseas reports by an "expert" that I had rewritten (I trusted the experts' original facts and only concentrated on smoothing over his English - that's all I had time for).  Mind you, the opening salvos came from PR-man's end, when he damaged one of the original pieces I had done.  Being a skillfully dishonest man, he convinced Mr. Hikoki that some of the sentences were too long (he isn't capable of writing long sentences himself...) by reading one out loud and dramatically showing how it was hard to read the whole sentence in one breath.

"Hey - it's an article you bozo!  Not a speech!" is what I should have said, but I was trying to get along with everyone at the time, so I protested in a polite way, and then Mr. Hikoki went with the damaged version of the sentences, which PR-man broke into two or three imbecilic sentences each.  Don't get me wrong - I realize that a certain amount of painful committee work is unavoidable when any group of people are working together on a project, and I am happy to climb out of the rapids downriver so long as the pain is for the common good, but when the final product (in this case, the newsletter) is being sabotaged for personal status positioning, it's time for people to open their eyes and have a good look at what is actually going on.

... all of which reminds me - I wrote a final letter to send to everyone, but I think I'll (if I indeed stuff it into the wires) only send it to the participants of Friday evening's dinner/drink.  Here it is:

Nihon no ofisu ha, yahari, 'mura-shakai' de aru
["After all, Japanese offices are village societies"]

I stumbled upon this phrase in a book I was recently perusing, and was reminded of the extremely puzzling fact that while Japan has the most efficient factories in the world, far too many offices are models of inefficiency and producers of chronically defective final product.

The factory people I've worked with have generally been practical people interested in practical solutions leading to quality final product.  If there is a defect in the final product, they are interested in how to fix the final product first and foremost, with issues of lesser importance given lower priority.

The setting of priorities in offices seems to be a throwback to feudal times.  While harmony among the workers in any company is certainly an admirable and worthy aspiration, pounding down people who resist homogenization as though they were fence posts and throwing anyone overboard who speaks up - with insufficient regard for the veracity of their statements - doesn't make for a well-sailing ship.  Those of us working in 21st century offices with computers are not peasants standing in a muddy field with hoes in our blistered hands!  (Well... some office workers do seem to be 17th century peasants who think a computer is a hoe... but they should join the 21st century and learn that computers are not inflexible pieces of wood and iron, but can and should be an extension of a persons' own intellect.)

The sailing of a ship affects not only its crew, but all of its passengers, and so I say - as I am thrown overboard - that there should be more interest in truth and constructive work than in backstabbing and unhealthy relationships.  To achieve "wa" in the larger sense, storms must be sailed through.  Far better to be a sound ship driving through a stormy sea with focus and direction, than to be a leaking ship in disrepair in a safe harbor slowly sinking while its crew congratulate themselves on being on board.

In rereading that - I strongly feel that I should send it, and yet I'm not certain that I will.  In any case, I stand by what I've said there, so there it is, and hopefully I will indeed send it to those it is directed at.

(The following letter from Indonesia makes me feel stupid for getting all worked up about office politics....)     [Top of page]

"From Indonesia"     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: The Marriott Bombing
Date: Thu, Aug 2003  +0700
From: RWD  [Indonesia]


I don't know what to say anymore.......

I was not more than one kilometer from the bombing scene at JW Marriott Kuningan.

The blast sound, people screaming, glass everywhere.  I had my camera with me, but I didn't have the heart to take any pictures.

I don't know... there have been two bombings already that have affected me.  At the time of the first one (Paddy's-Sari's bombing) happened, my presentation was stopped by a news bulletin.  In the case of the Marriott bombing, I was close to the site.

I tried to help some Indonesians and foreigners (who were so shocked that they seemed to have lost their way) and calm them down.  Some of the survivors with injuries - minor burns and glass wounds - forgot their pain and just ran all the way to the open space of a construction site.  Some of them were busy calling family and friends.  I lent my cell phone to an Australian (I noticed the accent), who called his wife at home.

In the meantime, many people were still coming out from the hotel and the Plaza Mutiara.  They were diverted from coming out from the burned hotel lobby by hotel security and directed to the service door (at the back of the hotel).  Many cars stopped to help take injured people to the nearest hospital.  In the middle of the people running everywhere, I noticed three hotel workers (since two of them were wearing ties, I figured they were probably management level and the other one was a doorman).  They were busy handing out hotel slippers to all the people who were without shoes.  The slippers were greatly needed due to all the shattered glass.  .......

I send my condolences and deepest sympathy to all of you (which could be LL letter members), and family/friends of the victims.

RWD     [Top of page]

"We Voted 'Yes'"     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: LL-320 (h)
Date: Sun, 10 Aug 2003
From: PCZ  [Prague CZ]

At this time last year, we were having floods here in CZ, but now we are having a hot spell.

In June, the Czech Rep. held a national referendum on whether or not to join the European Union.  Czechs voted 'Yes'.

This month, Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones were in Prague.

Some friends of mine are going to Cape Town next week, but I think that could be a dangerous journey, so I will stay at home.


"Enjoying the Heat"     [Top of page]

Subject: story
Date: Mon, 11 Aug 2003
From: PBU  [Pakistan / UK]

I'm still here in Pakistan, enjoying my stay in Islamabad.  The wife and kids have gone off to my in-laws, who live in Karachi, which is 700 miles away.  I'm going there on August 19th and then we all fly off on August 31st - from Karachi to London and then to Jersey and back to work (alas). :)

The heat is easily tolerable for me - temperatures around 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and sometimes slightly higher.  I like the heat - it's always nice to run away from the miserable British temperatures and fortunately I get the chance to every year.


"Thanks, But No Thanks 2003/12"     [Top of page]

(2003/12/08  3:01 a.m.)  Now that I'm in resume-publishing mode again (have been for a month now actually, as I saw it coming), I have a new batch of "Thanks, but no thanks" letters.  I'll skip the headers and just put the refusal bits in for both anthropological and amusement reasons.  Note that the job situation is so bad and I'm so desperate, that I've also been sending my resume to places advertising for positions I'm totally unqualified for (chemical engineers, architects, etc.) with a letter saying that I'm available if they might also be in need of someone with my qualifications....

Anyway - here are some letters (grammatical errors in originals) - which represent about a 5% response rate (five refusal letters for every 100 resumes sent out, the other 95 completely ignored):

"We thank you very much for your letter applying for the position of sales chemical engineer. Your application will be carefully considered. We will get back to you shortly."

"Many thanks for impressive resume. We regret being unable to proceed further as our interests are on architectural qualifications.

We wish you every success."

"Dear Applicant,

Thank you for your application. We will begin the screening process shortly.

Due to the large number of applications already received, details of the rewriting positions will be provided only to those applicants shortlisted for interview.

Again, thank you for your interest in a position with Aabbb, Inc.


[Note:  The days of form letters that pretended to be personal are gone - now letters make no pretense of recognizing an individual, thus the "Dear Applicant", which is becoming more and more common.]

"Dear Sirs,

We thank you very much for your letter applying for the position of chemical engineer. Your application has been carefully considered but the position has been filled by another applicant. However, we were very much impressed by your qualification and work experiences.

Yours faithfully"

[Note:  This one is pretty funny - an interesting mix of general ("Dear Sirs") and personal "Yours faithfully".  It's also funny for me, because I have absolutely no qualifications or experience for the position of chemical engineer at all....]

"Dear Mr. Lyle Saxon:

We appreciate your interest in our company.  For both positions we require candidates with fluent or native Japanese.

Best regards"

[Note:  I wrote back to this one and pointed out that I am indeed fluent in Japanese, which prompted a response saying basically "Well, never mind the language then, we need a different race."]

"Dear Lyle,

Thank you for your interest in the advertised opportunity.

Unfortunately, having carefully reviewed your resume details, we would not be able to move forward with your application at this time, for this or any other current opportunities.

We wish you good luck with your career search.

Kind regards"

[Note:  This is about the only letter I've received that seems to have only been sent to me - or at least the end of the standard refusal line "..... for this or any other current opportunities".  Or... are there a bunch of other desperate people out there doing as I am - resume publishing to all and sundry?]

"Dear Mr. Saxon:

Thank you for your reply to our ad for technical translators. Our specific needs at this time do not fully match your experience and background, but we will keep your resume on file for future consideration.


"Dear Candidate:

Thank you for your inquiry into the position we recently announced. While each of the positions has now been tentatively filled, your application demonstrated considerable qualifications and I have kept a record of it for future reference. I admire your commitment and contribution to education and wish you much continued success.

Yours truly,"

[Note:  This is such a polite letter... except the "Dear Candidate"!  I understand that everyone's busy and companies are getting too many resumes, but still, that one word "Candidate" destroys all the finely written politeness of the body of the letter!]

"Dear Mr. Saxon:

Thank you for your application for the position of Assistant Coordinator at Aabbb University Japan (AUJ).  We appreciate your interest in employment with AUJ.

We have reviewed your resume and although you have good experience and skill-set, we don't feel your qualifications are a match for our open positions available at this time.

Thank you once again for your interest in the position, with your permission, we would like to keep your resume on file for 6 months should another opportunity arise at AUJ in the near future.


"Thank you for your application and interest in our position for Pharmaceutical Business Consultant.

We have been inundated with respondents and have attracted a lot of candidates like yourself with extensive experience.

We are currently reviewing all applications and hope to get back to you in the next three weeks with the next phase in the recruitment and selection process."

[Note:  This letter from Australia I'm quite comfortable with - it skips both the insulting "Dear Applicant/Candidate" at the start, and the phony "Yours truly"(!), "Kind regards"(!), "Yours faithfully"(!!!), etc. at the end.]

"Thank you very much for your application.

At the current moment we are not having available position for the candidate with your kind of skills, as we were looking for the candidate for the position of customer service representative only. Your application has been forwarded to our managers for future openings.

Thank you very much for your inquiry.


"Thank you for your e-mail of November 19, 2003, in response to our advertisement in the Japan Times.

We regret to inform you that your application for the advertised position has been unsuccessful.

Thank you very much for your time and for your interest in our firm.

Very truly yours,"

"Thank you for your interest in Aabbb International School.

The position has now been appointed for the office assistant.

I wish you all the best in the future.


"Dear Mr. Saxon, regarding the Alumni Officer Position at Aabbb, events have moved along faster than I anticipated and we have offered the position and it has been accepted. I hope that you will be equally successful at finding a fulfilling position. Thank you again for your interest in working at Aabbb.

Best regards"

"Thank you very much for applying for the position.

We carefully reviewed your resume. However, unfortunately, it is not the best position for you at this time.

Thank you again for your application, and we sincerely wish your future success.

Best Regards,"

Aside from that, there are a batch of refusal letters in Japanese.  The Japanese refusal letters are nearly all identical - saying first very politely "Thank you very much for your interest in our company....", etc. etc., and then midway through saying "It is unfortunate after your having taken the trouble to apply, but we are unable to offer you a position...." etc., etc.  On its own, quite nice and polite, but after you've received about 50 of them (not an exaggeration), all using exactly the same phraseology, you start to feel powerfully hungry for The Truth - never mind the empty and meaningless overly polite language!  I mean - originally polite letters are one thing, but general use form letters dripping with politeness that nearly everyone uses verbatim are - in fact - profoundly rude!     [Top of page]

"In Nagoya Now & D-Cameras"     [Top of page]

"Subject: Re: Photobook...
Date: Fri, 12 Sep 2003 21:37:10
From: Yo/Gr  [US]

.....  I'm in Nagoya now, but don't have a phone line - I didn't want to buy one for 90,000 yen, #%$%$%$%....  I was told about a discount place, but I'm broke now.

I often look at the photo stuff on display around here in Nagoya, but anything done with a digital looks like it.  Some aren't bad, until you look at the clouds, or other stuff that falls out of the narrow range of exposure they can deal with.  Anyway, I'm at work now, so I've got to go.


I agree that a low tolerance for contrast is definitely a weak point with the digital cameras I have experience with, but on the other hand, they are far better at taking pictures in low light situations than film cameras are.  It depends on the CCD and the lens, but with one of the cameras I have extensive experience using, I can take well-exposed pictures on dark streets - and the same picture with a film camera would require a tripod and a very long exposure.  If it's a stationary subject, that's always a possibility of course, but when there is motion in the picture, you end up in situations where you have a picture with a digital camera and no picture at all with a film camera.

"Office Idiots' Idiocy"     [Top of page]

(2003/12/04  3:21 a.m.)  I'm only working three days a week at the moment - Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  On Wednesday, there was an editorial meeting at which I sat there and listened to the others discussing plans for the company newsletter for next year - thinking "Next year... this has got nothing to do with me - I won't be in this company then...."As I pondered my somewhat awkward situation, I decided to focus on something constructive, so I wrote out a calendar for December, circling the days I would likely be working at that company - which indicated that I have exactly ten more working days there.  I then made a list of things that need to be finished within that time frame and then went back to listening to the boring/depressing discussion about plans for 2004.  Getting bored and depressed listening to it, I starting reading some information I'd printed out from the Internet, until... I sensed every pair of eyes in the room looking at me, so I looked up, raised my eyebrows, and said, "Excuse me - I missed that - I was thinking about something else...."

Either out of pity or because I spent two years at a PR agency, one of the managers had asked my opinion as to the best way of obtaining mailing lists for different regions in the world - and so, following a discussion of methods (human connections, the Internet, etc.) I was asked to see what information I could come up with via the Internet.

So, once the meeting had broken up, I went back to my computer and did a search for newspapers.  I was going through the suggested links and picking ones that I saved in an e-mail that I planned to send once I'd gotten a fair number of them together, when one of them seemed particularly interesting I thought, so I did a "Send Page" to push it onto the computer screens of the editorial committee members.

What happened then, is that Mr. GoodGaijin-II (erroneously or mischievously) mistook the simple link to a website for a virus (bloody idiot!), and then called Ms. Megawarui (without calling me).  I could hear her end of the conversation, and from that I could easily surmise what she was being told/asked thanks to her habit of repeating whatever someone asks her... which is very convenient if you want to know the other end of a conversation she's having on the phone!  She said that she hadn't seen my e-mail yet - he apparently told her not to click on it and to warn Mr. Hikoki, the manager.  She put down the phone and rushed over to Mr. Hikoki to save him....

I was irritated about this chain of events for a number of reasons.  To begin with, as a backdrop to Wednesday evening, there's some history here between Ms. Megawarui and Mr. GoodGaijin-II that is too convoluted to go into here, but even if there weren't, Mr. GoodGaijin-II knew very well I was still in the office and so it's quite odd that he called Ms. Megawarui and sent out a "Virus! - Run for your lives!" warning to everyone without bothering to call me and ask what it was.

The e-mails are reproduced below, complete with the original titles.  I come out looking just as idiotic as anyone, but I'm supposing that there is some anthropological value to recording some of the lunacy that goes on in an office.....

LHS (to everyone):
Subject: Internet Public Library: Newspapers


GoodGaijin-II (to everyone):
Subject: Virus? Re: Internet Public Library: Newspapers

The letter that you just sent everyone seems to have some sort of program attached to it. Big-Company Inc.'s mail system will not allow this kind of mail to be opened automatically because of the danger of computer viruses.

For this reason, I could not read it.

Perhaps you could send text of some sort?

LHS (to everyone):
Subject: No!/InternetPageOnly

No, it's not a virus, but you've gotten even non-Lotus Notes users so terrified now that they won't come near it.  I'll send the link again in a way acceptable to Notes.  Repeat - it is NOT a virus and NOT a program.

[Note after the fact - what is the reason for Mr. GoodGaijin-II saying "Big-Company Inc.'s mail system..." instead of "Lotus Notes..."?  If the entire company were using Lotus Notes and the fact needed to be explained, then that would make sense, but only half of the company is tied into Lotus Notes, with the other half mainly using Outlook Express, so that must be either idiocy or a display of company loyalty.  I suspect the later - nay, both!]

LHS (to everyone):
Subject: http://www.ipl.org/div/news/


LHS (to everyone):
Subject: MediaLinks(NotAVirusGoodGaijin,KeepYourShirtOn!)

Here are some links that could be helpful for data mining for contact addresses.  Many of these are US based, but some of them have links to media all over the world.  (Relax GoodGaijin, it's not a virus come to eat your computer and threaten peace and stability in the world - they are Internet links.  Granted, some websites in the world are not 100% safe, but if we are forbidden to use the Internet to look for information, then what would you suggest?)

Newspapers US and Worldwide - refdesk.com

Major Daily Newspapers

[Followed by about twelve more links similar to the above.]

GoodGaijin-II (to everyone):
Subject: Re: No!/InternetPageOnly

Re: "No, it's not a virus..."

Perhaps, but I just talked with the IT people here. They coached me through looking at it and throwing it away.

When I tried to throw it away, it immediately tried to send itself to the people in my address book.

Perhaps it is something else in my system, but since my virus protection is up to date, it's best to be cautious.

GoodGaijin-II (only to LHS):
Subject: Re: http://www.ipl.org/div/news/

And Thanks for this!

LHS (to everyone):
Subject: Re: http://www.ipl.org/div/news/

Re: "And Thanks for this!"

This is exactly what I sent the first time!  Just a different way of sending it!

LHS (to everyone):
Subject: ThatWasAJokeIHope...

"It tried to send itself" to the people in your address book?  You're joking, right?  It was a link!  A link!  That doesn't make any sense at all - do the computer people up there [on the 7th floor] have any idea how to use computers?

Yes, caution is best, but I feel a bit miffed at the "Run for your lives!  Virus alert!" e-mail and phone call to Megawarui-san when all I did was to send a Web page!


GoodGaijin-II (only to LHS):
Subject: Re: ThatWasAJokeIHope...

It wasn't a joke.

The people up here are excellent with computers.

I apologize for irritating you.

And do you have to CC everyone to vent your irritation?

GoodGaijin-II (to everyone):
Subject: Re: ThatWasAJokeIHope...

It was not a joke. No one is blaming you.

Like I said, it might be something in my own computer.

Sorry to repeat this, but it is important.

GoodGaijin-II (only to LHS):
Subject: Re: http://www.ipl.org/div/news/

Re: "This is exactly what I sent the first time!  Just a different way of sending it!"

I understood that. That's why I thanked you. And I sent that last cc to everyone simply so that they would know that I was not joking. I was not casting any aspersions on you. Viruses can come from anywhere and I was just warning people.

LHS (to everyone):

Re: "Sorry to repeat this, but it is important."

Okay!  I was joking somewhat with the terminology I used - although I do wish you had called me and asked me what it was I sent before sounding the alarm.  As a result, there is perfectly good information that Megawarui-san could be using, but she's afraid to look at it now!

GoodGaijin-II (only to LHS):
Subject: Re: Okay/IWasJokingWithTheTerminologySomewhat!

You're still cc-ing every one.

But since you sent the other thing, perhaps she can use that instead.

LHS (to Mr. Hikoki only):
Subject: "Brouhaha"

Sorry for the brouhaha - I was rather surprised at the content and process of what GoodGaijin-II did.  He should have called me straightaway and asked me what I'd sent.  I could have explained that it was only a link to a website and not something dangerous.  Apparently Lotus Notes is set up not to automatically show website links.  That's a good and safe setting that minimizes the possibility of getting viruses into the system.  In any case, I did NOT send a computer program to anyone and it doesn't make any sense that it "tried to send itself" to everyone in his address book!

I'll try still harder to keep a low profile.  Any other link information I find, I will not send to GoodGaijin-II, and if there is something someone thinks he should see, someone else can forward it to him.

I'll try very hard to keep my head low and just send things to you and Megawarui-san - the Generals.

Best regards  -  LHS     [Top of page]

"Navigating the Trains"     [Top of page]

"Subject: Re: AlrightThen,HowAboutThisTrainRide?
Date: Sun, 14 Sep 2003
From: APP  [Australia]

[Regarding the high-pressure sardine run photo I sent.]  Wow, those pictures are unbelievable.  I felt suffocated just looking at them.  There is no way I could travel in a train crowded that way, I would have a panic attack.  I am curious as to how some of the people, especially those short ones, know when it is their stop and the big question is, HOW do they get out the door when it is their stop??


The stations are announced over the train's PA system as the train approaches the station, so (assuming you can hear it), you know which station is next just before the train gets there.  To get off, you simply push your body a little in that direction and keep repeating "sumimasen... sumimasen..." ("Excuse me") as you squeeze past people.  Very rarely do people stand there like blocks of concrete and refuse to move at all, but when they do, you just use whatever physical force is necessary to get yourself past them.  There are some situations, however, where a train car is so crowded, and so few people get off at some stations, that some people probably do end up going past their stations from time to time.  Another situation is when a train is running behind schedule, it's late at night, and there is a huge mob of people at a major station ready to stampede themselves onto the train.  If you don't get yourself off the train in a hurry - before the stampede begins - then there is nothing you can do but become a sardine.

One final note - I've heard some women say that they have to wait until they get off the train to put on makeup; otherwise they end up getting it onto other people's clothing.  (When it's not crowded, some women put it on in the train... something that horrifies old sensibilities; personally, I think it's interesting to see how someone's face changes as they put on all that color.)

"The Hindenburg"     [Top of page]

"Subject: Re: Typhoon
Date: Sun, 10 Aug 2003 -0500 (CDT)
From: TJE  [US]

Tell me about a mega city... my mother tried to make a New Yorker out of me for ten years... she flunked.  Not one single day did she convince me that was where I wanted to live out my life.  One day I was sitting in nursing school - two days later I was in central Texas; I have never regretted the return to my place of birth.  Our apartment in New York was on the highest hill in the Bronx; from the roof you could see three counties.  It was pretty clear, as we were only a mile from the city limits.  This will date me - the Hindenburg came over our roof - a long long way up in the sky, but it was a clear day.

For many years I lived in Ft. Worth... still it never seemed to have the smog conditions that so often exist in Dallas (which is 30 miles away).

There are some interesting things going on here in the weather right now - rain in Texas in August.  It's scary!  Temperatures of 111 degrees out at the president's ranch... twelve miles from here via the ground.  The visitors and the press wilt or look like they are melting when he insists on taking them outside for press 'show offs'.

I keep waiting for one of them to touch a handle to a car door or lean up against a truck fender... but some snitch must have warned them.  I suspect those of the press who know how to "cuss" have been exercising their know-how since they arrived.  You cover your car seat with a windshield protector or you better have a blanket to sit on when you go to drive.  People argue over spaces under a shade tree, and people don't use paper parasols (which are available at Pier One) when going for a long walk - they instead open large black rain umbrellas to use in this sunshine.  Since most drivers carry umbrellas under their car seats, many use these folding bits of protection if out of the car any length of time.

Just noticed there are large thunderhead clouds moving in... this is not typical August weather; usually, there are no clouds, little or no breeze, even in the tops of the tallest trees.  We refer to these still, hot, cloudless days as dog days, but these days, even the dogs are treated to fans and air conditioning.

I am a fan person, and find that a/c is one more huge contrast for the human body to try to adjust to in sudden spurts.  The thing to avoid getting into is the sun... one will be soaked with perspiration in one minute of direct exposure.



After reading TJE's letter, I looked at on-line information about the Hindenburg.  It's quite interesting - although I've known the basic story since I was a kid, I've never studied it in any detail.  I find myself both happy and disturbed at times by having so much information so easily retrievable - I ended up spending a couple of hours looking at pictures, a video clip; reading about its construction and flight history, and listening to a recording of a live radio broadcast at the time that conveys something of how it must have been to witness the tragedy.  I was stuck with the emotional reaction of the reporter and wonder if nearly all of us are now so used to seeing disaster on TV that it wouldn't affect us nearly as much?  But then again, the Hindenburg was about the same size as the Titanic - up there floating in the sky - so it must have been an incredible experience to see that all come crashing down.     [Top of page]

"Fighting Parasites"     [Top of page]

"Subject: Update
Date: Wed, 17 Sep 2003
From: LNX  [US]

I just finished up two years at technical school and graduated with honors with an Associate Degree in computer networking technology.  (We had a wild grad party at my house afterwards.)  Now the bad news - I decided to spend another $27,000 and continue with the Bachelors Program in information security systems.  I'm such a glutton for punishment.

I have also applied to a networking firm, but I doubt I will get the job - I guess I will have to get out there and try, right?

[Regarding LHS's sardine-run train photo.]  I am so glad that our mass transit system is not like yours there.

Keep up the good corporate fight.


(2003/12/23)  The corporate fight... I have lost yet another round in that.  I think I want to earn a living somehow without having to engage political backstabbing neanderthal low-life swine.  People like Mr. GoodGaijin-II are skillful at stepping on people's faces, chucking poison tipped spears at the backs of those ahead of them, and very carefully reading the politics of a situation so as to cause maximum damage to the competition and guard against the light of day exposing their own inability to do the work they were hired to do.  In short - they're parasites.  I hate parasites, be they cockroaches, rats, or neanderthal idiots earning money for not working.  Just two more days to go with that job... tomorrow and Friday.

"Trip to North Dakota, Etc."     [Top of page]

"Subject: Re: AlrightThen,HowAboutThisTrainRide?
Date: Thu, 18 Sep 2003
From: GTK  [US]

[Regarding the sardine-run trains.]  I am glad that our buses and trains are not like that, but I guess it might look something like that if I lived in New York, Chicago or Los Angeles.  Seattle is not that bad but it is getting worse.

I wish that I could move, but I have nine more years until I can retire and right now, with the problems with my company and the economy since 9-11....  It's scary not knowing from week to week if one has a job and then decide if you can afford a newer car, a new or bigger home and such.  We have a home with only 1,000 square feet, and we have a fenced yard which isn't too big either, but it's funny, but we have teenagers who like to come to our home, lay on our old couch and watch movies on our big screen TV, play games on our Sony Play-Station 2, grab food in our refrigerator or talk to our 18 year old daughter.  The majority of our teenage guests are teenage boys.  Mmmmmmmmm   We have a teenage girl friend of our daughter who is staying with us, and she is real nice.  I guess we must be okay as parents because kids want to hang out at our home.

I just spent two weeks with our daughter, her new baby daughter, and her in-laws in North Dakota.  I had a wonderful time!  I went by Greyhound Bus, which took 27 hours to get there and 28 hours to get home.  Not bad.  I met quite an interesting bunch of people on the trip.  The weather was very hot when I got there but it began to cool down and they got some much-needed rain.  It's funny, but the rain finally arrived in Seattle too about the same time.  It has been a very dry summer in Seattle too.  It was hard to leave my new granddaughter, as I loved to hold her and rock her and try to spoil her a little.

Being a parent is great!  Being a grandparent is greater!  I love it!  I enjoy being a grandmother and my husband smiles from ear to ear when he talks about his new granddaughter.  We have been blessed with two super daughters and a wonderful granddaughter.  I must go now, as I have work to do.  Please take care.


"Train Pushers"     [Top of page]

"Subject: Re: AlrightThen,HowAboutThisTrainRide?
Date: Sun, 14 Sep 2003 -0500
From: HHE  [US]

Wow, that IS crowded, at least, by my standards.  I have ridden the subway(s) in New York City and they were pretty crowded.  What I noticed was that most of the people standing had newspapers or magazines in one hand and held them up in front of their faces - what seemed to me to be an attempt at privacy.  That's when I adopted my P.Q. Theory.  Maybe it is way off base, but everyone has an I.Q., so why not a P.Q. (Privacy Quotient) - a need for privacy.  Just a theory.  Question:  Is it true that the Japanese still have pushers - people with long boards - to load more people into the cars?  I read, and saw pictures of this custom, many years ago.


The problem with too many trains in Tokyo is that it's not physically possible to hold a paperback book half the time, never mind a newspaper!  But, yes, I think people definitely need a certain amount of space - some more than others (hello!) - and since that is violated all the time in Tokyo, that is one of the ("The"?) major reasons for stress in this megacity.

About the "train pushers" - I don't think they have anyone specifically hired to do that now, but on some lines at some hours the platform workers have to physically shove people into the trains to get the doors closed - especially on a late night before a holiday, when people are faced with either smashing themselves onto the last train, checking into a hotel for the night, going to an all-night coffee shop, taking a taxi home, walking, or just hanging about the cold windy streets of the city for about five hours until the first train in the morning.

The morning rush is considerably better than it used to be since more companies allow some of their employees to come to work at ten instead of nine.  It's a funny thing though - at three offices I've worked at, they told me it was flex time, but when I came in a couple of times around 10:15 or 10:30, bodies went stiff, smoke poured from ears and I was accused of coming to work late!  In this way I discovered that "flex time" in this country means 10:00 and not a minute later.

"Saving Train Fare..."     [Top of page]

(2003/12/23  22:50)  With the regular day job about to expire (two more working days there), I thought I'd save money on train fare yesterday by riding my bicycle over to Kichijoji, and I was feeling good about the exercise and frugality of the expedition when - soon after leaving Kichijoji for the ride back home - the front tire went flat....  Suddenly my optimistic euphoria turned to dark gloom as I contemplated the fact that in trying to save money by expending a little extra time and effort, I was - in effect - spending more money (repair costs of the flat tire) and losing considerably more time than I had anticipated.  Actually, I probably shouldn't complain about the time, as the walk wasn't a bad one, and it gave me time to think outside of the framework of the usual routine.

"Comments on Mutant Nose Ads"     [Top of page]

Following are several comments on the photos of the mutant nose ads that I sent - part of a strange ad campaign by the local tobacco company featuring Westerners with foot-long and very grotesque electronically created noses.  Sales of tobacco here (everywhere I suppose?) are very heavily tied in with politics - what with all that tax money....

"Subject: Re: "What is JT Doing?"
Date: Thu, 25 Sep 2003  +0200
From: SAJ  [US / Holland]

I really don't understand the photos of the advertisements that you sent.  Is the company trying to say that the smoke smells good?  The best 2nd hand smoke you can get?  Really I think it was done in bad taste.


"Date: Thu, 25 Sep 2003
From: LBP  [Pakistan]

I don't know what these ads mean but the long nose is usually used to show that the person is lying.


I'm glad LBP mentioned this - as even though the story of Pinocchio is widely known here - incredibly, everyone I've spoken with has no concept of the idea that the nose that grew with each lie was a kind of punishment!  I mean... how can you possible read that story and miss that point!?!?  I can only surmise that the bozo who translated it did a very bad job indeed!  This simple fact alone would seem to (to a certain extent anyway) exonerate the company that came up with that very offensive ad campaign, but the photos themselves are so incredibly grotesque, that I am still convinced that there is a heavy dose of racism involved....

"Subject: Re: "What is JT Doing?"
Date: Thu, 25 Sep 2003  -0500
From: CPK  [US]

.....  I've never really believed that advertising is very effective in the cigarette market unless a company actually has something new or different to offer.  To people who smoke, there are really two basic selling factors - either the best tasting and highest quality, or the lowest price.  I wonder if Japan is a good place to grow quality tobacco?

Tomorrow, I get to go to a wine tasting with a friend of mine who is a buyer for a liquor store.  It's not the kind where the public is invited to try a collection of wine from one company.  This is a very large trade show where many wine and liquor companies have booths and liquor store buyers are invited to try stuff and get quantity-orders and one-time deals.  My friend is very diabetic.  I'll have to do some of the tasting for him. ha.  These are always very fancy, catered affairs that include dinner.  It's an excuse to get dressed up for a change (out of the usual farm attire).  ......


I think that even the tobacco sold here by the local company is made with imported leaves, so the initial content isn't the issue.  The liberalization of imports that came with the strong yen followed an eternity of protecting the local markets, and seems to be under attack (again) recently.  Hitachi is running ads that relentlessly repeat that they are focusing on "Made in Japan" and the ads have red circles of various sizes and superimposed on different backgrounds (red circle on white - like the national flag)....  I don't see anything wrong with someone being proud of their country, but flag waving makes me nervous.  When the flags start waving too much, people start hating each other.  Hating people from another country is not an accurate expression of support for your own country.  Like it or not, we're all living on the same planet - breathing the same air, drinking the same water.  Problems must be dealt with, but I would like to plea for understanding of the fact that we are all human, and deserve respect and understanding.  With respect and understanding, things can be worked out, but with fanatical nationalism, we all suffer - some more than others in the short run, but long term, everyone pays a price for the folly of any one of us.     [Top of page]

"'Village Politics' Text in the Wires"     [Top of page]

(2003/12/25)  Just another working day today, although I went to help teach a children's English class out in Omiya - one that I've been going to once or twice a year for about 16 years now.  But that's not why I'm pounding words into electrons - I wanted to tell you about the editorial meeting at which both the head of the section I've been working in, as well as the president of the company attended.

I received a general e-mail from Ms. Megawarui on Wednesday morning saying that there would be an editorial meeting at 2:30 that afternoon, but when 2:30 rolled around and Mr. Hikoki and Ms. Megawarui marched off to the "D" meeting room, I stayed put - thinking, "A day and a half to go - what's the point of going to an editorial meeting now?".  After about five minutes though, Ms. Megawarui came back with a "Hurry up and come to the meeting" face and corresponding words, so I shut down my computer and verbally responded with "So you do want me to attend that meeting then...".  I expected it be nothing more than a waste of time, but it turned out to be far more educational than any other meeting I had attended at that company.

I walked into the room, took a corner seat, put on my best "inscrutable" face and thought, "What a waste of time this is!  I'd rather be cleaning out the files on the computer... there's not much time left..." as I listened to Mr. Hikoki discuss plans for 2004.  Then Mr. GoodGaijin-II walked in, and sitting down next to me, he looked with distaste at the English translation of an article for the next issue - and then looked at me with a "Nothing to lose by insulting you now, hahahaha" face, said in a rude tone, "Is this yours?", and I stupidly nodded towards Mr. Hikoki.  If I had said that I had done the translation, then that bozo probably would have make a big show of saying how bad it was - thinking he was attacking me when he would have been attacking one of his major bosses!

Ugghh... you see why I hate politics?  Just when I'm beginning to understand how the carnivorous sharks think as they lurk on the bottom in the muck, then I find my own frame of mind and thinking polluted.  I want to know enough to protect myself, but I don't want to become one of those groveling creatures who alternate between licking the shoes of those they perceive as being in positions of power, and then stepping on the faces of those they consider to be rivals or "below" themselves.

But back to Mr. GoodGaijin-II's snide comment - it's significant that he doesn't posses a high enough comprehension of the English language to be able to tell the difference between my style of translating and Mr. Hikoki's.  I suppose it makes sense though - aside from the fact that my style and Mr. Hikoki's are substantially different, we share a respect for the meaning of individual words, whereas Mr. PR-GG steals phrases from material unlucky enough to find its way into his hands, and then copy-pastes the unlucky words into sentences in which they quietly weep for the travesty of it all....

Then the president came in - followed by the boss of the section.  I was very interested to see this, as I had been wondering what they were told about my leaving.  Honesty not being considered of any particular value in office war zones, I supposed that they had been told that I quit (or whatever combination of words would lead to that outcome) and so I resolved to tell them two things in the meeting if I got the chance - one, that I had been fired and two, that I was ready and willing to work from home.

Before the manager and the president walked in, I had been mainly unable to pay attention to what was being said, but their entrance onto the stage motivated me and I carefully studied the faces of everyone in the room as I clearly heard every word spoken.  All the people holding positions of power regarding the project I've been working on most of this year in the same room - something that had never happened before!  A couple of details about the president are in order here; Mr. Hikoki floated an eminently reasonable request that was rejected out of hand by the president, and there was a moment later on when I looked up to find him looking directly into my eyes... and I looked back for a bit, but then looked down without getting a clear feeling as to what the cold look in the man's eyes meant.  Those two things convinced me however, that I am actually lucky to be getting off of that ship!  Nevertheless, at the end of the meeting, my chance to speak did come...

Mr. Hikoki said - "Actually - this is... that is, Friday will be the last day that Lyle will be here."  Both the manager and the president acted surprised - saying "Oh, really?", but, as acting is a way of life here, to make sure everything was clear and there were no problems with reality, I said "Yes, I've been fired - but I have a computer at home and a good Internet connection, so I would be happy to work for you on a freelance basis".  The president nodded, said okay, and left.  Then the rest of us stood up, and I left the room at the same time as the manager, thinking I'd ask him if he knew I had been fired, but he walked stiffly away, without looking anywhere but dead straight ahead....

It could be that he really hadn't known, and just didn't want to talk to me on the principle that something that has already been decided is not worth getting involved in.  If a manager requests something, he/she gets it, but many managers I've dealt with also seem to be extremely fearful of incurring the wrath of the rank and file, who can - after all - be extremely skillful at making someone's life difficult.  In this way, the lowest common denominator - the person worth the least to the company as a whole - has veto power over things that they really have no business getting involved in.

The "Village Politics" letter - I had decided not to send it, but then Ms. Megawarui said something that got under my skin and I decided that it needed to be sent to the editorial team after all - so I sent it out.  When I imagine some of those people reading it, the expression, "If the shoe fits..." comes to mind.     [Top of page]

"Stepping on Faces"     [Top of page]

"Subject: "Stupid Man"
Date: Tue, 21 Oct 2003  -0500
From: CPK  [US]

Just wanted to make quick comment on your letter titled "Stupid Man".  While reading about Ms. Reichi, her "servant" Ms. Meshitsukai, and then Ms. Megawarui trying to get you to kowtow to her... well it all reminds me so much of equine pecking order.  Horses always pair up.  A weaker one with a stronger one, which seems to ensure the success of the weaker one at feeding time.  The new one is usually the weakest, odd one out until they can work themselves up, but that's rare.  New ones usually submit for a long time or until someone else new comes in.  So, if a small child walks into the pasture, generally the horses will ignore it except the weakest one who will come and pick on the child.  Of course, this kind of behavior is what separates us from the animals, right?... or should I say some of us?


"Sticky Rice"     [Top of page]

"Subject: Re: Rice
Date: Sun, 2 Nov 2003  -0600
From: HHE  [US]

[In response to a news article I sent about Japan's rice industry, and how glutinous (sticky) rice is preferred here.]

Very interesting story.  I still believe the 400% import duty will stay.  It was also interesting because of the difference in the way Americans judge rice after cooking vis-a-vis Japanese (from the story).  I've been taught by my wife to place the rice in a colander and pour hot water over it to remove the gum or whatever causes the rice to agglomerate.  That piece of knowledge gleaned from the article also helps me to understand how to get rice on a chopstick - it's got to be sticky.


"Actions & Reactions"     [Top of page]

"Subject: Re: Tobacco Wars
Date: Tue, 11 Nov 2003  -0600
From: CPK  [US]

[In response to the "Tobacco Wars" collage.]  Nice picture collage and explanation.  I would love to see a picture of the original foreign add.  Do you think the first foreign ads were insulting to the locals - as if to say it's cooler to be western or identify with western culture or something?

Incidentally - wow - I can't believe all the bicycles!  Also, what is "BLDY" (from the picture)?


I'm glad to be asked about a possible connection there - it amazes me sometimes how people seem to miss what I think are obvious signs of cause and effect.  I think that the US ads with foreign models created a complex set of feelings for many people.  As for why the advertisers did it that way - most people here see nearly as many American movies as Americans, so - for some - the models look like the movie stars.  For others, I think the ads must be offensive - representing both a loss of money that would have gone to J-brands, and an insult - as though the blond models were better than the local variety.  Do keep in mind however, that other J-companies also use foreign models, although (thankfully) less often now than they used to.  In the mutated nose ads though, I think an ugly xenophobic racism is definitely evident, and also a calculated move to undermine the foreign companies' ad campaigns... which those companies obviously can see, which is why they are suddenly advertising with Asian looking ads!

Bicycles - yes, there are a lot of them here, especially around stations, as people living more than about a ten walk away generally ride a bike to the station and leave it (often illegally parked) somewhere as they rush to the station more concerned with getting to work on-time than with losing personal property.  (Which may explain why 99% of the bicycles you see are plain cheap ones - very few people invest in expensive ones.)

"BLDY" - To attempt to explain the name "BLDY", I have to explain first that the name for buildings over about five stories high here is "building", shorted into "biru" (now you know why foreigners here asking for beer sometimes sound like they want a building!).  At the entrance to the staircase leading up to the restaurant, it also has (in Japanese 'katakana') "Birudi".  This is pure conjecture on my part, but I suppose that the name was picked to refer to restaurants that are in modern buildings?  Remember that the word "building" in Japanese only refers to buildings like high-rises, and never to wooden structures or small structures.  In case you're interested, the company's site is: www.cp-fm.com/bldy/  At the site (I just looked at it for the first time myself), they explain (in Japanese) that it's a chain with each restaurant located near a station in a building... so my conjecture seems to be on the mark.

One other comment though - since English is very definitely a foreign language here (not a second language, as in the Philippines or India for example), the rules of English are broken all the time - thus people tend to abbreviate words in all capital letters without understanding (or wanting to learn) that the result looks like an acronym....     [Top of page]

"Busy with Life"     [Top of page]

"Subject: Re: OpenOffice.org
Date: Thu, 13 Nov 2003 06:00:10 -0700
From: CZH  [US]

It's been ages since I wrote.  I have been busy with life - going through a bitter divorce and custody battle that finally ended in June.  It broke my heart into many many tiny little pieces.  Then in August, I moved to Florida.  I have family here and they have been telling me there is a lot of opportunity here - so here I am.  I really like it here, but it is a big adjustment weather-wise for me.  I mean Christmas is a month away and it still doesn't get much below 80 degrees during the day.  I try to visit the beach a bit, but it is not very convenient.  It is beautiful though.  I love palm trees.  If I am at the beach, I love the fact that I can see the sky for miles and miles.  So life is bittersweet.


"Cheap Cigarettes"     [Top of page]

"Subject: Re: Tobacco Wars
Date: Mon, 10 Nov 2003
From: BRC  [US]

......  BTW... Are you a smoker?  My wife and I both smoke and we buy our cigarettes at a local Indian Reservation (Native American) because the taxes are so high in New York State.  We pay about $29 at the reservation, while the same cigarettes cost around $50 if we buy them from traditional stores.  .......


No, I'm not a smoker - I think smokers should be... um... never mind!  Just kidding of course, but truthfully, I really don't like smoke - whether it comes from the exhaust pipe of an internal combustion engine or from smokers.  I think if I lived somewhere with very clean air, I wouldn't mind (much), but the air is already bad enough in Tokyo without having to make it any worse.

"I Quit Smoking"     [Top of page]

"Subject: Re: Tobacco Wars
Date: Wed, 12 Nov 2003  +0100
From: TRG  [Gibraltar]

Seeing as you have been mentioning the tobacco wars.  I thought you might like to hear my news.  I quit smoking on 1st October 2003.  I did it because we had a family crisis and I thought, 'Hang on, if I can quit now, I can do anything', so I quit then, as I had quit in the past when things were good in life and then at the slightest panic started smoking again.  I was very pleased with myself; then started to clear up other things too - diet etc.  I also ran the race for life on Saturday for Breast Cancer charities, I did the five kilometres in 38 minutes and my friend and I came in joint 11th/12th, so I gave myself a pat on the back for that.


"Looking for Work & Working"     [Top of page]

Date: Mon, 10 Nov 2003
From: KCM  [US]

I'm sorry I haven't written in a while.  I've just been depressed and haven't felt like talking to anyone and have been neglecting just about everything.  I'm trying to do the temping thing but no one's been calling much.

I think my resume is ok, but the interview is what kills me.  I hate interviews.  I'm usually a nice, honest person, but when I get into an interview I just want to kill everyone around me.  I've learned that being honest is the best way to lose you the job and you know what?  There are only so many reasons I can fake for wanting a rotten job where I'll be kowtowing to customers with no benefits whatsoever.  I mean, interviewing for a mail clerk position?  That's just beyond stupid.

*sigh*  It doesn't look like it's getting any better.  I just read that in October, many more people were laid off.  Even tech jobs are getting outsourced to places like India.  I mean, come on.  Tech jobs are being treated like sweatshop labor.  How insane is that?

Anyway, on a cheerier note, I saw the Matrix: Revolutions yesterday.  I've heard a bunch of people declare it the "Star Wars" for our generation and in a way, it's an apt description.  The first movie was excellent and came out of left field and completely redefined special effects.  The second and third movies were live action anime sci-fi with shallow philosophical pretensions.  Not that they were bad, but they could not live up to the expectations of the first one.  I also think the directors are pervs.

However, what I am really excited about is the upcoming Return of the King movie.  I don't even like Tolkien that much; I think he's overrated and sorely needed an editor, but Lord of the Rings is a great epic adventure.  Peter Jackson did an excellent job of remaining faithful to the tone of the novels and the actors quite effectively embodied their characters.  According to the special features on the DVDs, the last one should be better than the first two combined.


Date: Mon, 17 Nov 2003 -0800
From: KCM  [US]

I'm practicing driving a stick; the clutch on my car is really heavy, though.  So every time I change gears, I pretty much have to put all my weight on it and it makes for some lurching.  I took a friend to the mall and I ended up slamming into a column.  Nobody got hurt, but I took the paint off the column.  Oops.


Date: Mon, 24 Nov 2003 -0800
From: KCM  [US}

Right now I am temping for a place where there is no one in the office except for me.  It would be pretty neat if the place wasn't on a dial-up connection - none of their various electronics that I could use to entertain myself seem to work.  So I am writing and surfing the Web (hopefully I am not wasting their hours)...

KCM     [Top of page]

"December 30th, 2003 - Looking for a Sponsor!"     [Top of page]

December 30th, 2003 - the year is almost over... I can't say it's been a particularly good year for me, but it's been an educational one, which is light-years better than a year of wasted time.  Having a good look at myself, I can see that spending much of my life taking pictures - alone - and writing - alone - has not given me good "people skills".  A decade of teaching here only added to my eccentricity I think... so the three pressure cookers of the wacky PR agency, the printing company, and the last place served as a sort of intensive (and painful) course in interacting with people.  Come to think of it - I should say four, as there was also the wacky motorboat import place I worked at back in 1989-90.  At all four places, I was treated as an outsider, with some of the people I worked with not being able to see past my red-barbarian exterior and thus not accepting that I am human.  Sensing this, I stood taller, not lower, and the battle was on!

I would never do the devious things that office jungle warfare fighters do, and so I have found their actions absolutely inexcusable.  Putting situations into text hasn't helped me to keep any of the jobs (save an extension at the PR agency - until I started fighting top management over their poisoning us all with spray glue in a sealed, recirculating air system office), but writing out the truth strikes fear into the hearts of schemers.  They are experts at twisting the truth to their needs, including twisting what has happened, who said what, etc. - but published documents can't be altered without the deed being clearly seen by all.  In the e-mail exchange between myself and Mr. PR-GG ("Office Idiots' Idiocy" - above), Mr. PR-GG was happy to send the first "Virus! - Run for your lives!" e-mail to everyone, but became increasingly nervous as I started explaining the truth of the situation to - naturally - everyone.  (Yes, it might have been better to leave out the sarcasm, but I was responding to such a ludicrous bit of nonsense that I couldn't resist.)  Mr. PR-GG is probably the most devious office jungle warfare fighter I've met yet - in that e-mail exchange he alternated between sending e-mails with a "worried and concerned" tone to everyone, and a "And Thanks for this!" only to me, no doubt hoping that I wasn't paying attention to the fact that that only came to me... which is why I quoted that in my next e-mail to everyone.  Well... like I said, we both sound like idiots in that e-mail exchange - judge for yourself how it looks, but do keep in mind the phone call he made to Ms. Megawarui and her running over to the boss to save him from the (nonexistent) virus.

Yuk!  The whole office warfare situation disgusts me.  I want to live in peace!  As I look at looming 2004 from my vantage point of being totally unemployed, I may as well make the following plea in this letter:

I'm currently resume publishing, but what I really think I should be doing is working on this project (the LL-Letters) full time.  Faster responses to letters and relentless pushing towards a wider circulation could make it pay for itself, as well as provide an income for the contributors.  I need help with this - I'll do what I can in any event, but only being able to work on this in my spare time really slows things down.  In the meantime, I'm getting older and it's becoming more difficult to find other work to pay the bills and rent the roof over the computer.  Any ideas?  Any sponsors?  Any etc?

Sore dewa!

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon, LLLetters@yahoo.com
Images Through Glass - http://www5d.biglobe.ne.jp/~LLLtrs/
Nishi-Shinjuku, Tokyo - December 30th, 2003 - (IHTBBF/LL323)
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