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"Letter-Letter 324"
January 3rd - March 7th, 2004
"Translating - Not So Fun"
"Midnight Interpreting & Health Care"  by KCM & LHS
"Flying Tail Gunner in Navy B-25"  by HHE
"#$%*&% Acronyms!"
"Thankful to Have a Job"  by CZH & LHS
"Stories on Japan"  by APP & LHS
"In Response to LL-323"  by Laf & LHS
"A Call For Standards"
"Car Trouble"  by KCM & LHS
"Speech Recognition Technology" by NDI & LHS
"Mail Disappearing into Black Hole?"  SFN JFS ITE UFM
"It's Likely to Happen Again"  by BRT & LHS
"Better to Smile than to Frown"  by HHE
"Rush Hour Driving"  by KCM
"Artists Have Good Vision"  by APR & LHS
"Japanese Used Cars - From Japan"  by KFE & LHS
"New Laptop"  by KCM
"Walking in the Countryside"  by SZS
"Working with Linux"
"Food - a Universal Language?" by RWD & LHS
"Lost Memory?"
"House-breaking Thieves"  by KCM & LHS
"Where did the Chicken Go?"  by JBB & LHS
"Time to More Effectively Network" by PCZ & LHS
"Experiencing European Culture"  by EWT
"Car Accident" by KCM
"Time to Get Legal it Seems..." by ICW & LHS
"Warai Bangumi"  by KVY & LHS
"Thanks, but No Thanks"
"Linux & Freedom of Communication"

"Translating - Not So Fun"     [Top of page]

(2004/01/25  12:40 a.m.)  Translating.  Nasty business - very nasty business.  Vastly more difficult than original writing, and with about 1/1000th as much respect.  The only good thing to be said about it, is that it is something you can do freelance, and it is unpleasant enough that there is constant turnover, so you can get into the business more easily than some others - at least translation of technical text.  The lucky people who translate novels and interesting books get more money (I presume - they must!), are given credit for their work in print, and hang on to their jobs with fierce determination.

In any case, I'm doing some work, and the money will be speedily paid to me two months after the company I am doing it for has the result of my efforts.  Two months... and this for an industry that screams loud and demandingly for work done overnight!  You stay up all night to get things to them on time - why can't they make the money move a little more quickly?!

Speaking of working for long periods with strangely delayed pay - there was a story in the news a few months ago about a man who had a job for a delivery company with an even worse pay scheme - I think they made the freelance drivers working for them wait something like three months for their pay.  This one guy apparently was desperately in need of cash and/or extremely frustrated by the system, because he went to their offices, poured gasoline on the floor, and demanded that they pay him.  Then he struck a match and... no, not like in the movies where they dramatically hold a match in the air over a pool of gasoline while telling someone "If you don't give me what I want, I'll drop the match and light the gasoline on fire!", but like in reality where the fumes of gasoline are much more volatile than the liquid form of it... the match set off an explosion, killing the guy I think.

No, fear not, I wouldn't do such a thing, but I do have to wonder at these delayed forms of payment.  I mean - if the company is getting what they're paying someone for, why is it okay to withhold payment for two or three months?  How do they expect people to pay their bills?  They don't care?  They should.

"Midnight Interpreting & Health Care"     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: Bits&PiecesOfTheStory...
Date: Tue, 2 Dec 2003
From: KCM  [US]

I meant to write to you earlier, but kept getting distracted by different things.  I have some free time now.

I think I will put off getting another computer for a bit.  It'll drive me crazy, but I still have my sister's computer here in her old room.  For my next computer I would really like a PowerBook.  Unfortunately, Aabbb tells me that Apples are very expensive and that they hardly ever go down in price.  So realistically I might just be opting for an IBM (I know someone who can give me a sizable discount) with Windows XP.  Aabbb, will not, of course, be able to resist putting Linux on there.

I spent the bulk of this morning in a hospital with my uncle.  He was complaining of stomach pains and I was the designated translator.  I wish my Cantonese was better.  My mother decided to tell me that I needed to go with my uncle in this way:

Mom (wakes me up): Do you have to go to work tomorrow?  Me (groggy): I start work Wednesday.  Mom: So you don't have to go to work tomorrow.  Me: Yes, I do.  Mom: No, it's not Tuesday yet.  Me (glances over at clock, notes that it's around midnight): So what does this have to do with anything?  Mom: Well, you need to take your uncle to the hospital.  Me: What for?  Mom: He has stomach pains and he needs you to translate for him.  Me (exploding): Why didn't you say so earlier?!  Mom: I just did!

We ended up in the hospital for four hours, from two to six a.m.  What was the diagnosis?  Nothing wrong; just come back if it gets worse.  That it took two nurses and one doctor to tell us that really ticked me off.  He could have gone home two or three hours earlier.

I really really need to move out.  My parents are starting to irritate me.  Unfortunately I can't do it until I have some money saved up, and the way Christmas is looking, I'm going to drain my bank account....

What is health care like in Japan?  I currently don't have anything, but when I go on the HMO, it's going to cost me at least $150 a month.  What a mess.


Health care - I get the impression that there are problems with it in every country.  The health care here is good in that there is a national system that everyone is eligible to join in one form or another, but it can be rather expensive for someone like me working freelance, and since they base it on what your pay was the year before, it's a disaster when your income falls!  I was getting fairly decent pay at the printing company, and then hardly enough to pay the basic bills the next year, yet I've had to pay about $200 a month for health insurance (but don't hold my feet to the fire on that figure, the billing is erratic and I don't have the bills in front of me now).  Also, you pay 30% for whatever - doctor's fees, medication, etc., and there are a lot of things it doesn't cover.  I understand that removal of moles is considered cosmetic and so generally isn't covered, but I was shocked to discover that it doesn't cover any of the expenses incurred in delivering a baby!  No wonder people here are having fewer and fewer children!  Who can afford to have more than one or two?  (Expenses continue past the delivery of course, but that initial hospital stay is quite expensive.)  One of the most serious problems with health care here though revolves around regulation of prices.  The government strictly regulates what doctors can charge the insurance system, which sounds like a good thing, but two bad effects are:

1) Since the fees for doctors are low enough that hospitals can't make any money off of the money collected for the doctor's time (they rake it in on delivering babies though!), they rush people through as quickly as possible and also make money by prescribing far more medication than is really necessary.  For example, you might visit the hospital with a regular head cold, and they will typically prescribe five or six different types of medicine to take!  (One for a fever, one for a stopped up nose, etc.)

2) Dentists!  If there could be said to be too many lawyers in the US, there could be said to be too many dentists in Japan!  As the hospital racket of making money off of unnecessary medication is not an option for dentists, they make money by stretching what could be done in one visit into four, five or six visits!  I even had one dentist ask me outright if I wanted to visit him twice to have one filling taken care of, or once, and he said that if I wanted it done in one visit, I would have to pay cash - if I wanted to use the national insurance plan, I would have to come twice.  And that from probably the best dentist I've visited.  Don't let me get started on dentists, I've been the victim of too many bad ones!     [Top of page]

"Flying Tail Gunner in Navy B-25"     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: Mags and Rags
Date: Tue, 10 Feb 2004  -0600
From: HHE  [US]

..... Daylight Savings Time began, to the best of my memory, during WWII and has pestered us ever since.  But, like death and taxes, it will always be with us.

As to my getting sick in a plane during War II, I was flying tail gunner in the Navy version of the B-25.  We were strafing and, because I had twin .50 caliber machine guns, I used up my 400 rounds before the waist gunners who were firing single .50's with 400 rounds per gun.  The tail gunner position is somewhat like the far back seat in a Ford Expedition with your knees up high.  The triggers were lower than your knees - unnecessary information, I know.  The Marine pilots seemed to be afraid of the plane and would order the vacuum tube radio shut down when we reached altitude.  Don't know why as we never heard of any blowing up, but we did hear of planes not coming back.  There was a mixture of a little gasoline (avgas), hydraulic oil and burnt cordite fumes in the plane and it all seemed to accumulate in the back end of the plane - where I was ensconced.  I kept asking the PPC (Patrol Plane Commander) for permission to secure (close down) my position and he kept saying no.  We had "enjoyed" a meal of powdered eggs and a little greasy bacon that morning and my breakfast was "talking back to me".  I wanted to get to midships of the plane where we kept empty, one quart cardboard containers, with lids, which were known in plain language as "puke cups".  The rule was that if you upchucked in other than the containers, you had to clean it yourself - irregardless of rank, but I seriously doubt that any admirals who became sick were forced to follow the rule.  FINALLY, the PPC gave me permission to secure as we got close to the base.  I quickly grabbed one of the containers, sat down on the deck of the plane with my head in close proximity to the cup and said to myself, "I AM NOT GOING TO GET SICK!"  over and over.  I was successful until we landed.  The PPC chopped the throttles when we were about fifteen feet, or was it just five, above the runway and we bounced a bit hard and I lost it - but not on the deck.  And breathed a sigh of relief.  I have flown over oceans since then and been in some really rough weather on board a plane and on one Alaskan cruise ship, but that was the only time I ever became sea or airsick.


I'm grateful to read this - as first-hand experiences have a realism that someone removed from the situation cannot quite match in the best of cases, and in the retelling of things by third parties, the story completely changes all too often.  They don't put "mundane" details in history books - and so the reality of the moment is lost.

Re: "The tail gunner position is somewhat like the far back seat in a Ford Expedition with your knees up high.  The triggers were lower than your knees - unnecessary information, I know."

On the contrary - details like that bring a story to life.  The detailed description left me feeling as though I could see into that B-24 - an experience that no third party could have given me.     [Top of page]

"#$%*&% Acronyms!"     [Top of page]

Acronyms - sometimes I think they're the curse of us all!  Even if there were only one definition for each acronym, they would still be an irritation, but when you go to look up one of them in an acronym dictionary, typically there are from twenty to eighty different definitions for each acronym!  As an example, here's a paragraph I recently saw in a computer industry newsletter:

"Can Microsoft deliver on CRM? Microsoft's newly discovered desire to become the CRM software supplier of choice for SMEs has been greeted with more than a hint of skepticism. But most analysts believe that Microsoft will be a major CRM player in the next few years."

I read that and ended up thinking, "What in the world do 'CRM' and 'SME' stand for?!?  And here are the definitions... all 55 of them for CRM and 36 for SME, as explained by: www.acronymfinder.com

CRM  Customer Relationship Management
CRM  Camera Ready Material
CRM  Camera Ready Mechanical
CRM  Cardiac Rhythm Management (pacemakers, defibrillators)
CRM  Cause Related Marketing
CRM  Cell Rate Margin (ATM)
CRM  Centre de Recherches Mathematiques (Canada)
CRM  Certificate Request Message
CRM  Certified Records Manager
CRM  Certified Reference Material
CRM  Certified Risk Manager
CRM  Change-Request Management
CRM  Chemical Release Module
CRM  Chemical Remanent Magnetization
CRM  Chief Radio Man
CRM  Chrome
CRM  Circuit Reservation Message
CRM  Cisco Resource Manager
CRM  Cisco Router Module
CRM  Citizens' Rights Movement (Israeli party)
CRM  Client Relationship Management
CRM  Client Request Manager
CRM  Clinical Risk Management
CRM  Closed Response Message (ITU-T)
CRM  Coastal Resource Management
CRM  Cockpit Resource Management
CRM  Collateral Release Mechanism
CRM  Collection Requirements Management
CRM  Column Radiation Model
CRM  Combat Readiness Medal
CRM  Comment Resolution Meeting
CRM  Communication Resource Manager
CRM  Compliance Research and Measurement
CRM  Computer Reproducible Master
CRM  Computer Resource Manager
CRM  Computer Resources Management
CRM  Conseil de Recherches Medicales du Canada
CRM  Contact Relationship Management
CRM  Content Resource Management
CRM  Continuous Risk Management
CRM  Coordinadora Revolucionaria de Masas
CRM  Corporate Release Management
CRM  Courtesy Reply Mail
CRM  Credit and Risk Management
CRM  Creighton Method (birth control)
CRM  Crew Resource Management
CRM  Crisis Management
CRM  Crisis Resource Manager
CRM  Crisis Response Management
CRM  Cultural Resource Manager
CRM  Cultural Resources Management
CRM  Customer Relational Marketing
CRM  Customer Relations Management
CRM  Customer Relationship Marketing
CRM  Customer Resource Management

SME  Small and Medium-sized Enterprise
SME  System Management Entity
SME  Republic of Surinam (international auto identification)
SME  Sales & Marketing Executives International
SME  Sales Management Engineer
SME  School of Materials Engineering
SME  School of Military Engineering
SME  Security Message Exchange
SME  Selector Mark Enable
SME  Session Management Engine (software development and testing)
SME  Shawnee Mission East
SME  Short Message Entity
SME  Significant Military Equipment
SME  Sloppy Meateaters (band)
SME  Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises
SME  Small Management Element
SME  Small or Medium Enterprise
SME  Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration
SME  Society of Manufacturing Engineers
SME  Society of Military Engineers
SME  Software Management for Executives (training course)
SME  Solar Mesosphere Explorer
SME  Solid-Metal Embrittlement
SME  Special Minister of the Eucharist
SME  Specialized Market Expert
SME  Squadron Medical Element
SME  State Machine Editor
SME  Static Model Exchange
SME  Stato Maggiore dell'Esercito (Italian: Army General Staff)
SME  Subject Matter Expert
SME  Subject Matter Expertise
SME  Supply Management Executive/Expert
SME  Surface Movement Element
SME  Synchronous Modem Eliminator
SME  Systeme Monetaire Europeen (French: European monetary system)
SME  Systems Maintenance Engineer

One of the things that's disturbing about the acronym blizzard currently tormenting the English language, is that there is no way printed dictionaries can keep pace, which means that any reader of a printed magazine who doesn't have access to an on-line acronym dictionary doesn't even have the option of looking them up in a good (paper) dictionary!  With real words, it's a matter of established vocabulary and with new terms that come up from time to time, but are still actual words - but with acronyms, they are not words, but rather codified hints at words.  There's a place for them, but when they are increasingly used as though they were real words, I'm beginning to wonder if the reason for their use is more one of sophistry than any actual desire to communicate effectively with the reader....     [Top of page]

"Thankful to Have a Job"     [Top of page]

Subject: RE: LL-322(DidYouGetThis?)
Date: Mon, 15 Dec 2003
From: CZH  [US]

...... So how are things?  Better I hope.  I finally got a job working in the oncology ward at a local hospital.  I have to drive thirty miles but it's okay.  I am looking forward to getting started and actually helping people.  I had one day of orientation and have another day tomorrow.  Sitting for more than eight hours straight is a little stiffening.  Ah well.  I am just thankful I have a job finally.  Again, hope things are well with you.


I've gotten some freelance work and I'm hopeful that I'll somehow be able to make a living doing only freelance work, but finances are very tight.  I'm not feeling too bad - because I have so much to do in the way of writing and photo selecting that I'm not suffering that feeling of being of no use to society as a whole.  Well... not suffering it much anyway - having money coming in makes you bold and not having any steady flow if it headed into your bank account makes you quiet and withdrawn somewhat when in public.  In any case, there is so much I need to do, that I'm trying to just focus on that right now....

"Stories on Japan"     [Top of page]

Subject: RE: Kimonos & Eye Patches
Date: Thu, 18 Dec 2003
From: APP  [Australia]

About 'Kimonos and Eye Patches'.  The only reason I know of people wearing an eye patch such as the one in your photo is to correct a "lazy" eye.  By covering the good eye, it encourages the "lazy" eye to function better.

I was watching the Discovery Channel the other night and there was an Englishman doing a story on sumo wrestlers in Japan.  It was very interesting and it crossed my mind that you would be good at doing something like that - stories on Japan I mean.  You have lived there a long time now, and have many interesting stories to tell, especially on your favorite past time - trains.  Perhaps you could put something interesting together and sell it to the Discovery Channel or National Geographic.  Just a thought!

My partner and I are going interstate to Queensland for Christmas, as my children live there now.  What is a typical Christmas in Japan like for you?  Anyway, Happy Holidays and I wish you a very Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year.


There's a problem with stories from Japan - or maybe I should just say that there's a problem getting factually accurate information into print anywhere in the world.  Generally, editors are not interested in stories about Japan written as though Japan were just another part of planet earth (which it is of course!), and instead run articles that have "surprise" or "shock" content that draws a surprised reader in.  That's... logical enough - people don't read with the express purpose of boring themselves after all - but the unfortunate effect of this is that most of the material that gets into the western media about Japan focuses on what is strange.  What do readers what to hear from local news?  Things are normal, or if they are not, they must be (or should be) changed.  Foreign news?  Things are strange and readers are happy to see that they don't have the strange... whatever, in their own community - affirmation of one's own normality and confirmation of foreign strangeness.

And this brings me to the fundamental problem of my life.  I try to view this stage we are on as though it were one community of human beings.  There are differences between us?  No kidding - there are differences between identical twins born to the same parents, living under the same roof, eating the same food, etc. etc., so what's the big deal?  I try to believe that we all - myself included - are human, and it causes me no end of grief.  When I feel that workmates are not viewing me as a member of the human race, I call them on it and complain... and I am tossed out into the cold... again.  Well... better to end up with a shorter stay with no regrets than to stay longer with a backlog of regrets and no time machine to go back and fix them with.

I've gone off-topic it seems, but not actually.  I have been attempting to - on and off - interest the media outside of Japan for nearly two decades now with things I've written.  There has been some interest, but not enough - so far - to actually pay the bills.  One article that was published was about registering a car for road use in Japan.  It was factual, but focused on the radically different laws in Japan concerning car ownership... so that got in....

I'm not criticizing APP's suggestion here, as it is a good idea, but the real Japan isn't nearly so strange as 150 years of sensationalist reporting has presented it.  People need to reach out more and understand people in other countries through direct contact.  Mainstream media just isn't going to present things as they are - as they need to pay the bills too after all.  Hey!  That brings the circle back to us readers!  The media are happy to put in their papers whatever sells, so if people stop paying for bad journalism, it will - at least - be more expensive and more difficult to operate by PR string pullers alone.     [Top of page]

"In Response to LL-323"     [Top of page]

Subject: In response to LL-323
Date: Tue, 30 Dec 2003
From: Laf  [US]

In LL-323 there were two letters I wanted to comment on.  Let me preface by saying that the last half of 2003 has been somewhat staggering as an eye-opener for me.  In late August, my 83-year-old mother had a surprising episode of congestive heart failure.  Although she was very lucky and had no significant damage, there was one very big change.  She now has to have someone here at the house 24 hours a day.  She can do anything she could before except be totally alone.  We had one of those lovely (I do use that term loosely here) family meetings.  We evaluated everyone's working and living issues.  When all was said and done, even though I had the highest level career position, I was also the only one who could make a significant change in my working situation.  I notified my employer that I would now have to work at home or resign.  (There are moments when clout has some positive impact) I must say that being the designer and only writer of the company's Strategic Marketing Plans for banks, credit unions and hospitals did give me some room for talking.  At any rate, I managed a transition.  I am now at home working freelance, so to speak.  I worked at an advertising agency.  The preface was to lend some credibility to my responses to the following letters.

Perception Is Not Often Reality

I have come in contact with just the type of people described.  Thank God, I haven't been the one who hired them.  I simply had to work with them.  Unfortunately, in both PR and Advertising, the very nature of the business demands that perception will in fact be the reality.  It is all about marketing an idea.  However, that concept stops when it comes to making the idea work.  Then the reality is hard work.  Unfortunately, there are people who are experts at marketing themselves and not their abilities.  They are good at making people think they can deliver.  The only saving grace is that they will eventually be discovered.  I have, over the years, come to find them almost amusing.  It is highly amusing to watch them "spin" to cover themselves when they are at the "end of the rope".  That is when I sit back and watch.  I have discovered you really don't have to assist in their demise.  They need no assistance; they can manage quite well all alone.  So, the final advice, when one of these dubious geniuses enters your life, just do your job and prepare for the "games".  Life, I have found, does just fine in providing the final come-uppance.  It really does all come around.

Working and Not Working

Resumes are easy.  Selling yourself is not.  As a person who has conducted more interviews than I can count, I can say truthfully that the resume opens the door.  The sale happens in the interview and it isn't always based upon the job experience.  Presentation (how you present yourself), Body Language, and Confidence are strong selling tools.  In the few times that I have looked for work, I have never gone to more than one interview.  Here are a couple of hints.

1. Learn about the company in advance.  Do you want to work there?  Is there room for advancement?  Can you do the job you are applying for?  (Never apply for a job you don't want to do.  It shows in the interview and you will hang yourself there.)

2. Always present the best "You" possible.  That first impression counts.  It doesn't matter how brilliant you are, or if the company is very casual.  Look good for the interview.

3. Keep the body language open.  I know it is difficult in the interview to avoid nerves.  Try.  You are selling the best commodity you have... you.  Try to maintain eye contact.

4. If you can do the job, if you want the job, believe you will get the job!  Don't be a pompous a** but definitely project the fact that, in you, they will find the answer to their needs.  If you know it, so will they.

5. Go in, believing that you are about to meet the nicest person you have ever met.  You can sell this person ice cubes in Alaska because you will like each other.

Now, please understand this advice is from a brash American.  There are places where subtlety is an effective tool.  It just isn't effective here in the US.

As a postscript... since I have been home, I have discovered time to write again.  I have been writing more poetry.  I plan to get more published this coming year.  I will be glad to share some of the new stuff, if you would like to see it.

Have a great New Year.


Part of my answer to Laf was this:

Thank you for the tips - I had an interview yesterday that went well, but everything was in my favor so it was quite easy.  An acquaintance introduced me to an existing client of his, and I had exactly the right kind of experience for the project they are bidding on... but there is the rub!  IF they win the contract, it looks like I'll have some work on at least the one project - hopefully leading to other work, but if they don't win the bid, then....  [Final editing note:  They lost the bid, so that amounted to nothing, unless the contact somehow leads to some other work.]

...... those refrigerator creatures would never last if they were in an environment where they actually had to produce quality output, but at that place, their idiocy is just something everyone - everyone except me that is, put up with.  One reason I think it's very important to write things down, is to create an accurate record of history.  If you only talk, then the most skillful liar and/or back-stabber wins the battles while everyone else loses in general as yet another face is stepped on.  I got myself fired from that job, but in documenting and standing by my written words regarding those idiots, I have made it much more difficult for them to damage the next guy in line.  (Why is it that this type of thing always benefits the next person in line, but never the one who actually fought the battle?)     [Top of page]

"A Call For Standards"     [Top of page]

What's going on with electronic text these days?  I've begun to get e-mails from people using the latest mutated product from a certain predatory software marketing company (if you know what I mean...) that have two hard returns between every line!  What's this about?  Can someone supply me with a good reason (or any other kind of reason) for this?  Here's an example for you - a refusal letter I received from a large US corporation (US companies almost never hire resident US citizens in Japan, but I still stupidly apply).  Notice that the first two lines are normal, and then the mutated lines begin after the "We regret to inform you that," leader.  It's kind of comical when people put together form letters in a way that leaves clues to the letter's sloppy construction!  In this case, of the 500 people applying for the one position (imaginary but probably fairly accurate figure), 499 got replies that began with, "Thank you very much for applying to our company through our homepage.  We thoroughly reviewed your resume.  We regret to inform you that," and then there were probably a few different versions of whatever they copy-pasted in after "that"....  Anyway, here's the version I got - complete with mutated lines:

Subject: Re: Resume
Date: Sun, 14 Dec 2003

Thank you very much for applying to our company through our homepage.  We thoroughly reviewed your resume.  We regret to inform you that,

despite careful consideration of your experience and professional

background, we are unable to offer you the suitable position at this


We appreciate the interest you have shown in our company and wish you

success in your career goals.


Aabbb Bbccc K.K.

Human Resources Department

See?  Such a simple and unifiable thing as text should be standard I think.  For what reason the mutations?  Not for altruistic reasons I fear....     [Top of page]

"Car Trouble"     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: TheMysteryWoman...
Date: Fri, 12 Dec 2003
From: KCM  [US]

Hi, I'm at work right now.  My boss is at a "managers' retreat" (doesn't it sound so New Age?) and my trainer's daughter is sick, so she took the day off.  I completed the day's work, but I am still waiting until five so I can go home.

Today was not a very good day.  My car died on the way to work, and I had to have AAA tow it to a gas station.  I don't know how much you remember of the freeways in the Bay Area, but I was on an uphill where two freeways (the 13 and the 24) meet.  It was going slowly, I put the car in gear and it seemed ok, until the engine started smoking.  Then the clutch popped and then something happened and the car basically stalled.  I had to pull over to the center divider because I couldn't get the car to move.

We'll see how things go.  It's just not my day today.  I have a ride to the BART station, which is good.  I hope I'll have my car back tomorrow, but I kind of have my doubts about it.  Maybe I can borrow my sister's car.  I don't want to borrow my dad's car - it's a huge Nissan Frontier.

Work is going well.  Everyone is surprised at how quick I am and sometimes I wonder if they think that whoever they hired would be really stupid.  And I feel like I'm too smart for this.  Is that arrogant of me?  I mean, it's not rocket science; it's not even editing or having to be creative.  I just have to follow the rules, which are simple and clear.  My boss wants me to become permanent already, which is good.  Once I become permanent, then I'll be eligible for health benefits.

I haven't had a chance to work on any website stuff.  I hope you like what's up there so far.  My sister took the computer.  Oh, I forgot to mention - I'm moving in with her.  It'll be great - she says I don't have to pay rent and it'll be a much nicer commute - two freeways instead of four.  I'll have my own room and she has an old computer she can lend me.  It'll have DSL, too.  I've been really bored without the Internet - I find I don't even have the patience for TV anymore.  How sad is that?

Well, I decided to start working on upping my Chinese reading skills, so I am reading manga again.  My sister, being the "otaku" of our family, has a pretty large collection of Chinese translated manga. I'm currently reading Detective Conan.  It's a challenge because there are a lot of words I don't know, so I guess from the way the kanji is composed.  So far I've been getting the gist of things.

How are you doing?


Re: "Everyone is surprised at how quick I am and sometimes I wonder if they think that whoever they hired would be really stupid.  And I feel like I'm too smart for this.  Is that arrogant of me?"

It seems to me that most people I've worked with do mediocre work and just concentrate on not making any major mistakes - never mind really doing things right or improving things.  This is not horribly bad I guess, but what is horribly bad is when these mediocre employees start trying to damage anyone who is doing quality work.  Someone doing quality work could show them up to be a drag on the company's progress, so they often work very hard to sabotage the work of more capable people.  So - watch your back KCM!  Chances are, there are mediocre idiots slithering around in the grass with poison darts - ready to ambush anything ambush-able.

Re: "It's a challenge because there are a lot of words I don't know, so I guess from the way the kanji is composed."

Incidentally, "kanji", in Japanese, means "Chinese character(s)".  At this point in history, the Japanese version has become a bit different from the current Chinese version, but still Chinese and Japanese people are able to understand each other somewhat through kanji - different as they have become.     [Top of page]

"Speech Recognition Technology"     [Top of page]

Subject: Help....
Date: Thu, 18 Dec 2003
From: NDI  [Jakarta, Indonesia]

I'm doing a thesis for my bachelor degree in Electrical Engineering, Speech Recognition based on Neuro-Fuzzy.

The problem is, this is a rare topic, especially in my country.  As far as I know, I'm the first student in the country with this topic and now I'm lost....  IT here has, until recently, been sorely neglected.  That's why I can't find any book AT ALL in the stores about the topic - meanwhile, my deadline is getting nearer.  I can't afford buying a book from the Internet, I don't have any friends going abroad whom I can ask to look for a book or two, so I just keep browsing around and the only references I've been able to find aren't very helpful.

Then I opened my in-box, saw your e-mail, and remembered that you have lots of friends and you live in Japan (don't you?) the country of technology....  So, I'm wondering... can you help me or do you know people who can help me?  I'm desperate and broke, because I had to quit my part-time job to focus on my thesis.  These are the descriptions of my thesis (if someone can help me with parts of it).

- Speech Recognition based on Neuro Fuzzy - Can recognize at least ten words: Classroom, Professor, University, Library, Mathematics, Electrical, Engineering, Laboratory, Computer and Mechanic.

- Using Operational System based on Windows (preferable) or Linux.

I would be very grateful if anyone could help me with this.

Thank you and please give me news ASAP....


Re: "Thank you and please give me news ASAP...."

Oops... actually I did respond directly to NDI with some stuff I was able to pull off the Internet, but NDI's letter came in on December 18th, 2003, and here it is March 4th, 2004!  I thought I would be getting more writing done, but there have been some intensive time-grabbers that came up.  The most recent being a move over to Linux - which has eaten up quite a lot of time, as it's sort of like starting over again to learn how to use this new system... there are enough things the same as other operating systems that it's not so bad, but still, computers being computers, anything new ends up taking up a lot of time.  Good excuses notwithstanding, sorry for the delay!     [Top of page]

"Mail Disappearing into Black Hole?"     [Top of page]

My first contact with the term "black hole" as a verb, was relating to e-mail that some servers were set to just delete, without informing the sender that their message had not been delivered.  I personally experienced this when I quit MSN - mail sent to my old account there just vaporized without a trace for two years after I quit!  At about the same time, a lot of people left MSN and I guess the PR department figured that it was better to just vaporize people's mail than to face the embarrassment of mass defections that "return to sender" messages would advertise?  Whatever the cause, I tested the situation by sending a variety of e-mails to random characters followed by msn.com and - over about a two year period - nothing sent to a dead MSN account ever came back... it was all black-holed.

Now... there are black lists, one of which is called Black Hole... where whole blocks of addresses are blocked, sometimes bounced, sometimes just destroyed, in an attempt to stop spam.  I'm all for stopping spam, but hopefully it can be done without blocking non-spam mail....

I raised this topic with an e-mail I sent to everyone and - for archival reasons - will reproduce here (better to put it in now than have to go looking for it later) - as follows:

Subject: "Blacklisted?"
Date: Fri, 02 Jan 2004 16:49:44 +0900
From: Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon


As is evident from LL-323, I'm currently in the job market, and one of the main sources for jobs for foreigners in Japan is the Monday edition of the Japan Times.  I have been buying it for a couple of months now and applying to various jobs.  On December 22nd, 2003, I bought a copy of the newspaper but didn't have time to respond to any of the ads in it until today.  There were not many ads in the December 22nd paper due to its being so close to Christmas, but one ad that I responded to is as follows:

SALES REPRESENTATIVE sought by Cambridge Scientific Abstracts (CSA), a U.S. publisher of electronic databases. Based in Yokohama, the role will involve the sales and marketing of Internet-based electronic databases to university libraries and information centers. Requirements: 1) Sales experience, preferably in the publishing/information industry. 2) Computer literacy and an understanding of the Internet.  Japanese national with good English language skills preferred. Interested candidates should submit their resume in Japanese and English, together with current salary details. Fax: 045-222-8574 or E-mail: japansales@csa.com  http://www.csa.com

I've gotten used to many companies not responding to submitted resumes, but I was a bit surprised to get this response:

Subject: Returned mail: see transcript for details
Date: Fri, 2 Jan 2004 13:55:10 +0900 (JST)
From: Mail Delivery Subsystem <MAILER-DAEMON@nanja.com>
To: <lylesaxon@nanja.com>

The original message was received at Fri, 2 Jan 2004 13:55:06 +0900 (JST)

----- The following addresses had permanent fatal errors ----- <japansales@csa.com> (reason: 550 Denied by policy: Sender is listed on DNS-based RBL)

----- Transcript of session follows -----
... while talking to mercury.csa.com.: >>> MAIL From:<lylesaxon@nanja.com> <<< 550 Denied by policy: Sender is listed on DNS-based RBL Service unavailable

..... etc.  My question is - does anyone have any idea what "RBL" means? I'm hoping that the "BL" doesn't mean "Black List", but the sentence says in black and white "Sender is listed...", so it sounds like I really am blacklisted.  But for what?  Is it a fluke, or are companies now setting up blocks to make sure that anyone who has applied to them before is not allowed to apply a second time?

Any information appreciated!


Several people responded to this - thank you to all, and here are a few letters:

Subject: Re: Thanks!/FullDetails
Date: Fri, 2 Jan 2004
From: SFN  [ / Japan]

......  The quickest way of getting your mail through to the recipient would be to just use a Yahoo or HotMail account.  Otherwise you would need to contact your ISP and ask them to try and get themselves removed from the blacklist.  It may be that a customer of our provider has spammed somewhere and hence is resulting in the ISP'S mail server of your newsletter becoming blacklisted.  The problem is we still don't know WHERE/WHO has blacklisted it because the return e-mail you received doesn't state it.  To find out maybe you should e-mail the admin of the domain you are trying to send to and find out what filters they have in place.  That's what I would recommend in the first place.  It happens with our customers that they enable a spam mail filter and as a result don't get certain e-mails; in which case we have to tell them to either disable it or let the person trying to send something to them make sure that whatever server they are using to send mail gets unlisted.


Subject: Short...
Date: Fri, 2 Jan 2004 03:30:54 -0800 (PST)
From: JFS  [Sweden]

DNS is what makes a name connect to an IP, and RBL in what I found was a Router Ban list (ISP) ... kind of like... if a specific ISP has a lot of people who trash the net... some companies can used a global list to ban those ISP's... and that is what the RBL must be.

I have gotten some myself... so I think I basically understand the situation.


Subject: Re: "Blacklisted?"
Date: Fri, 02 Jan 2004 +0100
From: ITE  [Planet Earth]

RBL is the Realtime Blackhole List. But it isn't personal. It means your ISP is on the RBL as a spammer, spam-friendly ISP, or an ISP with open relays that allow spammers elsewhere in the world to bounce spam off of them (thus helping hide the spammers' true identity).

I would suggest you reapply via another e-mail address.  Indeed, I would suggest you find another ISP or at least e-mail provider - as a lot of organizations use the RBL.  Some will not provide a bounce message.

In the meantime, you might also forward the bounce message to your ISP so they can take steps to get themselves removed.


Subject: Re: "Blacklisted?"
Date: Fri, 2 Jan 2004 05:07:33 -0800 (PST)
From: UFM  [UK]

RBL is apparently a "Realtime Blackhole List", definition at: http://www.houghi.org/jargon/RBL.php

Sounds like it's nothing to do with you, but someone with the same service provider as you is sending out spam from a few addresses, and the spam filters find it easiest to block out the whole domain (hence "DNS-based RBL").

It happens quite a lot now: spam is such a problem that the filters block quite a lot of innocent e-mail.

Sounds like your best option is to send from a different address, maybe HotMail or Yahoo.  You could try chasing your service provider, but they probably wouldn't do much.

UFM     [Top of page]

"It's Likely to Happen Again"     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: LL-323
Date: Tue, 30 Dec 2003 11:19:57 -0800
From: BRT  [US]

In LL-323, after reading about office politics, I feel fortunate that I work for a smaller company, where there is little room for carrying dead weight.

One of the aspects I have noticed, but have not been able to determine if it is cultural or universal, is the ribbing, joking, and sarcasm that floats around.  Just because I and my co-workers are not as interested in office politics doesn't mean we don't have work relationship stresses.  The nice thing is that the atmosphere here is such that we can joke about them.  We get to vent about how we feel in a way that doesn't pressure the other side.  In fact, they usually fire off their own volley, and then we get back to work.  The casual way of things here may have a hand in those things.  In this California job, it is not unusual to find employees out of sight of customers dressed in T-shirts, tennis shoes, and even shorts.

I think there is another side to it as well, though.  Recently, there was a squabble over the issue of lunch.  Our company hosts lunch for the last Friday of each month.  This month, with the holidays, is a little more complicated than most.  The initial date set was last Friday, the 26th.  We developers were given that day off as an extra holiday because our projects had gone so well, but I liked the thought of an extra day off better than a free pizza anyway.

At the beginning of this month, they announced that the lunch date was moved to the 19th.  This was the same day as the Christmas party, but I didn't think much of it.  Well, the 19th came, just an hour and a half before lunch, they announced over e-mail that the 19th was a bad time for lunch, and they postponed the date back to the 26th.

I sent back an e-mail to everyone complaining about the timing of the last announcement.  I admit that my decision was partly emotional to "reply all".  If I had to do it again, I think I might have just replied to the sender (who was very likely not the decision-maker to begin with).  The result was a small flood (about 10) of responses essentially saying "Yeah!  Me, too", until the original sender sent another message asking everyone to stop complaining about not getting their free lunch.  This time, I responded back to only the sender, saying that I was thankful about getting lunches, and that my only complaint was the timing of the cancellation.

My supervisor gave me some ribbing, offering some change for the snack machine in case I was about to starve to death.  It was about then that I realized that I had been rocking the boat over my perceived mistreatment and clammed up.

....... From reading your letter, I can see that this is too late to help you with Mr. GG and Ms. MW, but perhaps it can be a helpful suggestion the next time you come across this kind ofsituation.  Unless you start working on a farm or something that isolates you from dealing with other people, it is likely that you (like everyone else) will probably have to deal with this kind of situation again.

Best regards and much luck in your job hunt.


Re: "Unless you start working on a farm or something that isolates you from dealing with other people, it is likely that you (like everyone else) will probably have to deal with this kind of situation again."

Yes - and that's why I don't want to work in offices any more!  After all the fun I've had, I don't think I can take much more!  The really irritating thing about the last job though - is that I really didn't need to be there!  I could have done the work better from home.  Relations got so bad there that Ms. Megawarui and I - who were sitting all of two meters apart - were exchanging e-mails instead of talking.  Of all the jobs I've had so far, that one really would have been an ideal off-site job.  The material I was working with wasn't of a sensitive nature....  Augh!  That's all past!  Onward to better things!     [Top of page]

"Better to Smile than to Frown"     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: Schedulers
Date: Thu, 18 Dec 2003  -0600
From: HHE  [US]

Yes, I carry a scheduler, but use it primarily for doctor appointments and meetings.  I imagine most people use them primarily for social and business events.  My wife and I have laughed about this year and agreed - if you don't smile in the face of adversity, you will cry.  Neither will do any good, but you will feel better smiling.  Sometime in the past I read that it takes something like 48 muscles to frown and only 17 to smile.  So, if you frown and fret, you will not only feel bad, you will tire yourself by frowning!  That is my philosophy lesson for 2003.


"Rush Hour Driving"     [Top of page]

Date: Sat, 20 Dec 2003  +0000
From: KCM  [US]

The car is fine now.  It cost a couple hundred bucks to replace a broken part (which part, I don't know since my dad doesn't know the English for it).  I've been driving my sister's Rav4, which while a gas-sucker, is not a stick and is really easy to drive.  I suppose I should drive the stick, since it forces me to pay attention to the road more, but I really hate it during rush hour.


"Artists Have Good Vision"     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: LL-323
Date: Thu, 1 Jan 2004 16:48:00 -0000
From: APR  [Portugal]

I would like to comment on the photo titled "Mutant Nose Ads".  Seeing it, I remembered an exhibition of Japanese paintings of the 16th century featuring the first Portuguese seafarers who were the first Westerners the Japanese set eyes on.  On those paintings, the Portuguese all have long very noses.  That was the perception they had of the Portuguese; I don't think it had anything to do with racism.


Well - if the grotesquely exaggerated noses are okay, then that would also mean that the old pictures of Japanese with buck teeth, flat faces and tiny slanted lines for eyes were/are also okay... which they are not.  Artists have good enough vision to know when they are distorting things.  Exaggerating the features of a different race and in the process transforming people into grotesque monstrosities - whether they are perceived that way or not - is indeed a form of racism.  I think so in any case... how do you feel about those old horrible pictures of Japanese?

"Japanese Used Cars - From Japan"     [Top of page]

Date: Mon, 5 Jan 2004
From: KFE  [UK]

Hope you get a job soon.  Here in the UK there is a considerable appetite for second-hand cars imported from Japan, I believe it's similar in other markets where they also drive on the left - Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, etc.  MX5s are especially popular.  Sales are often done on Ebay and AutoTrader web sites.  I would have thought that a westerner fluent in Japanese would be a considerable on-the-ground asset for companies that import from Japan; you could seek out their ads and approach them by e-mail.  Even if you get a regular job, this could be a lucrative sideline if you make the right contacts.

Good luck,


The combination of circumstances here in the Tokyo area ensures that Japanese used cars (from Tokyo at least, if not all areas of the country) are probably in the best shape and the least used of used cars anywhere in the world!  The vast majority of car owners in Tokyo keep their cars carefully washed, get them serviced regularly, and only use them once or twice a month!  Talk about "it was used by an old woman who only drove it to church one a week"!  Hey!  Once or twice a month!  In fact, a lot of people don't use their cars at all in the winter - and just start the engine and let it idle for an hour or so every week or two.  I mean... the "used" cars in Tokyo are new for all intensive purposes!  No wonder they're popular outside Japan!  Sorry about all the exclamation marks, but you would cry if you saw some of the cars that are sitting in junk yards and are about to be scrapped!

And so - I think this is indeed a great idea.  Especially since I love cars and even did my own repairs back in California.  If anyone has any info on this, please do forward it on to me.  Incidentally, which side of the road do people drive on in Pakistan?  I saw a television documentary a few years back that featured a group of people from Pakistan whose business was exporting used Japanese cars.  I'm not sure if they were only exporting them to Pakistan, or all over the world though.  Anyway, if there's room in the market - sure, I'm interested in this idea.  Know any specific company names?  One thing that I wonder about though - I know when I looked into it last time, I discovered that there are a lot of barriers to shipping used Japanese cars to the US - so I wonder how easy it is to get them past the oceans and laws into the UK?

"New Laptop"     [Top of page]

Subject: hi
Date: Wed, 21 Jan 2004
From: KCM  [US]

I'm on my lunch hour right now - things have been hectic for the past month.  Aabbb bought me a new laptop for Christmas (it's a Dell Inspiron - what he really wanted to get me was a PowerBook, but he couldn't afford it) and it has wireless!  I love it so much.  Although, Aabbb wants me to lend it to him so he can play computer games.  Uh-oh.  Hmm.... I have Windows XP, which is miles away better than Windows ME, but it's still so... slow!  I'm probably not going to put Linux on it, but I have downloaded a bunch of things, such as OpenOffice and CoffeeCup (for html), so it really doesn't matter.

I threw Aabbb a surprise belated house warming party on Saturday and it was a ton of fun.  It was also the first time his and my friends intermingled, and I'd have to say it was a success.  (I can give a party!)  I think my friends felt a little intimidated, though, since Aabbb's friends are all a couple years older and seem very "grown-up", but otherwise things went off pretty well.  The theme was Manly Meaty Potluck, since Aabbb loves to grill and someone brought a ton of pork ribs.  He basically has a pig in his fridge right now.  I made Korean BBQ style short ribs, although the ones I bought were too thick.  I also got to see a few friends I hadn't seen in years, which was nice.


"Walking in the Countryside"     [Top of page]

Subject: Happy New Year
Date: Thu, 8 Jan 2004 07:07:55
From: SZS  [UK]

This was the first Christmas without our mother who would bake the Christmas cakes for all the family.  The major task would commence in October to give the cake time to ferment.  Only our mam (as we call our mothers in the North of England) would know the special ingredients.  Sadly she never did say what it was, but we have not studied her endless supplies of cooking note books yet.

I do know the scone recipe went to New Zealand and pumpkin was added to the ingredients.  It was the only way Rose could get me to eat pumpkin which I thought myself tasted like boiled carpet slippers.  Not that I have ever eaten boiled carpet slippers you understand!

Endless trays of mince pies would be in the kitchen - these would be taken on our walking trips along with the Christmas cake.  Saved my life on many an occasion that cake did.  Stuck on a mountain top with only our mam's cake to keep us going.  The last scone she ever baked is kept in a box to remind us of the mother every child longed for is no longer with us.

Friend dropped in and said he always feels like whistling when he is in this house.  Mam would always whistle, but no tune as such, except at Christmas time when the carols would be heard around the home.

Her physical presence is no longer here but her spiritual presence is still with us all.  Such was her love for her family and friends.


The following walking took place over the holiday period.  Alderley Edge, home of the Alderley Wizard, was the first recce for the walk I will lead at the end of January.

For those who have never heard the tale of the Wizard do read on:

The Legend of the Alderley Edge Wizard

Many many years ago, a farmer from Mobberley set out one cold October morning.  He was riding a milk-white mare that he intended to sell at Macclesfield Fair.  To reach the Fair he traveled over the Edge, but upon reaching Thieves Hole, the mare refused to move on.  The farmer became aware of an old bearded man strangely dressed and holding a staff on the road in front of him.  The old man wished to buy the mare, but the farmer believing he could obtain a better price at the Fair, refused to sell.  The old man said that although the horse would be much admired, no one would buy it and he would await the farmers return.

At the Fair, the farmer's horse was much admired, but there were no offers to buy.  On his return journey he again encountered the old man at Thieves Hole.  This time the farmer agreed to sell and the old man asked the farmer to follow him a short distance.  He led the farmer from the thieves' hole, past Seven Firs and Golden Stone, to Stormy Point and Saddle Bole.  The old man stopped in front of a large rock on Saddle Bole and touched it with his staff.  With a large roar, the rock split in two, revealing a pair of iron gates.

The frightened horse reared up, throwing the farmer to the ground, where he begged for mercy.  The Wizard (as he now appeared to be to the farmer) calmed both the horse and the farmer and led them through the gates and down a tunnel to a cavern deep under the Edge.  Looking around, the farmer saw many sleeping knights of old, and beside all but one, a milk-white mare.  The Wizard paid the farmer in gold and told him that in the country's hour of darkest peril, the knights would awake and ride forth to do battle on the plain below.

With this, the Wizard asked the farmer to leave, and - overawed by what he had been told and had seen - the farmer fled.  As he passed through the gates, the crack in the rock face crashed together with a noise like thunder.  Although the farmer returned on several occasions to search for the gates, he never saw them again.

Ellen Beck claimed to have seen the gates but many said she was mad.  Although many have searched for the location of the Iron Gates, they remain a mystery.

Starting the walk from the market town of Chelford - "market" as in cattle, fruit, hay straw - you name it and they sell it.  Anybody lucky enough to buy a new home or thinking of replanting the garden can take a trip to Chelford and enter one of the many buildings and buy complete garden contents at half price.  Be it Lot-1 variety of shrubs or Lot-2 specimen trees.  Local town traders buy their stock from here and sell on.  The Horticultural side of the market and cage birds etc., takes place on certain evenings of the week.  You could say it resembles Alladin's cave at times.

The cattle/livestock market side of this place disgusts me regarding the way the stock are handled.  One jerk cramming rabbits into a cage - when I pointed out one was dead he threw a sheet over the crate before the animal welfare people appeared.  He bought the poor creatures for the many Chinese/Indian restaurants from the area far far away where he had drove from.  Pathetic when you think animal transports are inspected but who stops a van or pick-up with a sheet tied over crates.  Could be apples or pears but no, they are living breathing creatures and no doubt half will be dead by the time they reach their destination.

I find the human race pathetic at times, or should that be most of the time?  As my aunt and uncle once told me "You have to forget thinking like that", as they tucked into their free beef Sunday lunch at my sister's.  (I say free because never ever did they return the favor to my sister or her family.)  Could they be correct?  Do you tuck into your dinner and not care where the produce came from or how it landed on your table?

Carter Lane is the first part of the walk - looking at the map it informs me that I have two paths on the right hand side then one on the left which skirts the woodland.  Nice lane families out walking... converted barns turned into family units which is the case these days.  I now hit the main road which I should not be on, so it is back I go.  This is what a recce is all about - easy walking over a mountain top studying the terrain and putting compass to map and walking on a compass bearing.  Finding footpaths is another thing.  One example would be the barn conversion (for "barn conversion", read "luxury dwelling place").  Not long ago this would be a farmyard and the public footpath would take you through the yard and over the fields.

No sign to inform you of the path which to me looked like the nice gravel path over the new lawn.  Couple of feet along the lane in the ditch I located a sign informing me that a footpath went through this property.  This sign should have been alongside the gravel path... the indication of the sign told me it went through the front door of the conversion.  Now if it was a properly located sign, Tom Dick and Josephine would soon be trampling through the property on that nice gravel path.

The sign was two feet high in the ditch!!

Ok, you say I would not want anybody going through if I bought the place.  But the deeds would tell you - and no doubt the solicitor/lawyer - that a path ran through.  So if you do not like it, do not buy it.

It is nice to explore and see the areas and it does help to see where the lanes go, just in case of an emergency.  Part of a leader's recce is to allow for the unforeseen.  Escape routes etc.  This walk will be linear as there are no escape routes.

I found the woodland and was soon on my way again.  If I was just out for a stroll, I would have taken the gravel path over the lawn and then told the council to put a correct sign in place.  But not today!!

Nice walk along the woodland edges and soon I was going under the railway bridge and across the fields towards Alderley Edge - my destination.  A couple of horses in the fields came running towards me.  Sorry, no apples today, only bananas.  Besides most horse owners are against Joe/Josephine Public feeding their horses because of the things that some people give them.

I have now hit the main road again and take a quick look around to see the best place for crossing with the group.  A quick dash across on your own is fine, but a group is something else.

Consulting the map to see where I am heading, I now find the footpath and, as I lift the interlocking sheep fencing which I have never encountered before, I feel grateful to my parents for having bought me a Meccano set long ago.  I am now through and the vast field is ahead.  I proceed through a heavy and freezing cold rain.

Using the compass for this one - I just walk on a heading.  The map informs me that I skirt a sand quarry to the right of the quarry.  More Meccano type fencing.  The clay on the ground informs me that it has not been walked for a long time.  Round the quarry I go - only to reach an electric sheep fence.  Normally this would be handled by placing a rucksack on the fence and climbing over, but this one was too high.  I had thoughts of those farmers who detest walkers not realizing that walkers put money in their pockets when they buy their produce.

I stood alongside the woods and took the map grid reference from my GPS and looked at my map.  Yes this was the trail.  One of those "What the heck am I doing here in this freezing cold pouring rain" thoughts passed through my mind.

Spotting dog walkers in the distance, I think I will have to replan my walk using that far away footpath.  Skirting the quarry, I head over the fields, soon noticing a stile in the left corner of the quarry.  Walking closer I notice a footpath sign for the footpath I had been looking for.  Things flashed through my head like "What a pathetic map reader I am".  Then I notice a sign informing me the path had been moved for twelve years because of the quarry.

Two things; why was there not a sign at the bottom of the field informing me of the path being moved and why was there not a sign where the old path used to be!!!

I make a grid reference to inform the local council.  %#$&!!!

Now passing the many old sand quarries filled with water.  "Will these be new landfill sites soon?" I wonder.  Councils are looking for holes to put rubbish in all the time.

Now I find a country lane - this should take me through the grounds of Heaton Hall onwards to Mere and Yarwoods - another barn conversion old farm complex.  Aircraft from Manchester scream overhead.  The price of the property in this area (considering the noise from the aircraft overhead) is unbelievable.

I can see the church of St Mary's at Alderley - this will make a nice stop and a visit.  Found a surprise of an old school alongside the church - dated from 1669.  Took a few photos which turned out with a dull sky that I later changed on the computer to a nice blue sky and a shining sun courtesy of filter lens flare.

Sadly, the church was locked - a sign of the times.

At the Bottom of the lane is the old water mill looking in the magazines so much like a country setting.  In the real world, it is located on a very fast and busy road.  As if you should dare to slow down - Mr. and Mrs. Brain dead in their latest status symbol thrashing round the country lanes killing all the wildlife... and any walkers!

Now passing Nether Alderley - home of the "BECKS" another group of celebrities who the media think we must know about at all times.  I am waiting for "BECKS" toilet paper to hit the shelves.  It must happen some day?

Down the cobbled Bradford lane - I consult the map to see if we have another escape route (these cobbles are not the best of surfaces to walk on), find one and head down into a nice woodland setting.  Divert over the fields through the farmyard up towards a woodland - climbing now but nothing strenuous.  See how it looks behind.  What a view - the radio telescope at Jodrel Bank pointing to the heavens searching for a signal from the Mars satellite....  It has now turned into a nice afternoon's walk.  Skirting the woodland I noticed it was not just a woodland but a kind of long canal structure complete with a terrace.  Myself, I think it is a duck decoy or something to do with the shooting people - breed the ducks on the water chase them away, then when they gain height, shoot them out of the sky.  All in a day's sport.  I always thought sport was a contest between parties that were near equal?

Now over the fields - I hit the lane where there should be a path to the left of me going through another woodland copse.  Passing the riding school - always looking out for good photo opportunities - I now reach the main road... so what happened to the footpath?

Looking at the map, I know it will come out up this road a bit, so I walk along the road until I find the track and then see why I missed it.  I follow the path through the woods, and it emerges alongside the riding school.  My own fault for looking at the riders and horses....

Back down the track, across the road, and now heading for the "Edge" - light is fading but I do want to finish the recce to the "Edge".  I find one viewpoint and the sight of the old beacon that was built to warn of the approaching Spanish Armada so long ago - no time to look for the "Wizards Well" and other interesting things that make up the tale of this place.

It is now time to head back to Chelford and the car.  Cross the road, down the woodland track, and a German shepherd pops its head around the corner of a tree.  I stand bank, thinking for a moment that it's a wolf.  Then I think about it and tell myself, "No!  It's not!  We do not have wolves in England anymore.  The last one was shot at Last Wolves Fell in Lancashire" - somebody's claim to fame!

The dog's guardians appear and we laughed when I told them I thought it was a wolf.  On the serious side, large dogs should always be at the side of the person the dog is taking for a walk.

Now leaving the woods and entering the kingdom of the stockbroker/footballer.  Properties (for can they be called homes?), so large you would need a map to find the rooms.  When viewing properties like this, I often think of Mother Theresa helping the people in the slums of Calcutta.  Or the African mother searching for water with a cracked vase.  Do these people stop and think how fortunate they are?  Of course not, they are too busy making money in any way possible.

Now heading for Nether Alderley and the country lanes again - light is fading fast, but I do have my head harness light for later.  I stop to consult the map, and decide to stick to the country lanes as many of the paths pass through desirable residencies and they have undesirable dogs loose in the grounds at nighttime.  Or so I thought....

It is now dark and time to shift the pace a touch.  At the junction, the map tells me to go left, but high banking and fast cars plus darkness tell me no can do.  The headlights of cars show me as if by miracle a footpath sign across the road.  With failing eyesight and darkness I was unable to see the path on the map.  Guardian Angel was here today.  Thanks!

Across the road, over the fields, and a quick look at the map shows I have found my original trail again.  A few hundred yards and I am back at the car.  Then it's head for home to take the dog for a walk.  Covered about fourteen miles with the return leg, so the walk should be about eight.

SZS     [Top of page]

"Working with Linux"     [Top of page]

(2004/03/03)  [First off, I should warn you - if you're not interested in the mundane details of my glacial move over to Linux for computing, then you will want to scroll on past this particular article!]

I've been reporting in here on and off about my forays into the world of Linux, but I've actually moved a significant portion of my computing over to Linux now and am actually depending on it for many things - instead of just running tests on it and writing with it a little bit now and then.  The steps I've gone through in my moves towards Linux (over the past five years or so) have been basically like this:

1) Attempt to install on test laptop with Red Hat Linux.  I was unable to figure out the very first steps and gave it up.

2) Second attempt to install Linux on a test laptop - this time SuSE Linux.  I was able to get it successfully installed, but it booted up to a command line - and I had no idea what to type in, so I gave up on it again.

3) Third attempt - with a newer version of Red Hat Linux on a test desktop computer, installing directly from a CD-ROM for the first time.  It installed easily, but my joy was short-lived when I realized that I couldn't really do anything with it.  Well - more precisely put - I could have done a lot with it, but I didn't understand how - so, functionally, I couldn't do anything.  I couldn't install things, couldn't access the Internet, and couldn't even use the floppy or CD-ROM drives.

4) 4th, 5th & 6th attempts - mainly with free versions of Red Hat that I got in magazines.  I was more and more intrigued by the software, but I still couldn't do much with it - and gave up after only spotty success with accessing the CD-ROM.  At least I could use the floppy....

5) 7th attempt - this time with Mandrake... um... 8.1 I think.  Finally I was able to do things with Linux!  I could access the Internet and... and... maybe that's all!  But hey - once you can use the Internet with a computer, you're on your way, right?  I still didn't know how to install anything and I can't remember if I could access the CD-ROM or not, but I think it was automatic.  I didn't like the default e-mail that came with it, so I went back to W-based Netscape 4.7.  This was on my company computer at that time - in a dual boot setup with W-98SE.  When I left the company, the computer stayed behind.

6) 8th, 9th & 10 attempts - with Red Hat and SuSE - I never did much with them for one reason or another - mainly because I didn't care for the mail clients that they came with, and I didn't understand how to install new software on them.

7) Eleventh attempt - dark clouds with flashes of lightning and rumbling thunder - this time it's a serious attempt - complete with questions to a Linux group and arguments with a couple of the main members there.  Basically, I was called stupid - so I responded in pretty much the way you might imagine - I fired off a few indignant e-mails with no concern for political fallout and now - I feel like what I said should have been said, but I also feel like I probably shouldn't ask for help at that particular group again. (Well, I could ask, but not without a low expectation of getting help!)  It's really idiotic though - it's only two people in a large group, but they are two of most prolific posters, and they seem to have a certain number of their own groupies who will follow their lead, so....  [20003/03/08:  I've been posting there again, but only timidly - and I and the two individuals in the group who mix like the proverbial cats and dogs are studiously ignoring one another.]

Nevertheless, putting the usual political battles aside, the system is working pretty well so far.  I am able to install programs, access the CD-ROM and floppy with no difficulties and it's a great Internet machine.  For writing, I began using OpenOffice Writer, which is a great program (also available for MS computers), but on this particular computer, with its P-II 350MHz processor, it's sluggish with large files, so I bought the Linux version of EditPad Pro, which is what I'm writing this with now.  (If you need a great text editor for either Windows or Linux, I highly recommend it - www.EditPadPro.com )

Ah - text editors!  There are a bunch of free ones for Linux, and one of them (SciTE) I'm using for cut & paste work (the one problem I've experienced with EditPad Pro for Linux is that things don't copy-paste into and out of the program as well as with simpler text editors like SciTE), but the few free text editors I've tested so far are sort of awkward to work with - at least for my purposes.

A question - does anyone know of an installable dictionary for Linux?  I know that there are many on-line ones, but I prefer to write off-line and use dictionaries installed on my own hard drive.  [I've since found the Linux version of WordWeb, but I haven't been able to figure out how to install it yet.  Some things are easy to install on Linux, others require a bit of work.]     [Top of page]

"Food - a Universal Language?"     [Top of page]

Subject: Food is universal language
Date: Thu, 27 Nov 2003 06:27:20 +0700
From: RWD  [Indonesia]

Hopefully you can still work on the LL-Letters while you struggle in your office war.  This week is 'golden week' in Indonesia, when we celebrate the greatest Moslem celebration, Iedul Fitri.  After one month of fasting, well - this week is really worth celebrating.  A week of Forgive and Forget.

The story I am about to share is actually from a friend of mine - a high school friend currently pursuing his doctorate degree at Royal Holloway London.  He came to Indonesia for a week off and paid me a visit.  We met at a local coffee shop and talked for hours over two mugs of cappuccino.

He told me a story of the month of Ramadan (fasting) that he had in London this year.  It was a different Ramadan, compared to the year before, when he was still studying at Huddersfield, a small town with warmer people.  London was a different story - a mega city, home of the UK's Prime Minister.

What with people in London living by the clock, people end up living individual lives, not even knowing their own next-door neighbors.  My friend was in that very situation, hardly knowing his next-door neighbors either, what with all the class and laboratory hours on campus.  Then, during the month of Ramadan, his neighbor began complaining about the noise my friend was making when he had his "Sahur" meal - the meal we must eat at dawn before we fast the next morning.  My friend told me, "It really wasn't a big deal.  It was basically just the sound of plates, forks and spoons".  But as a visitor, he tried to be as nice as he could.

Then, three days before Iedul Fitri, and two days before his departure to Indonesia.  He and some of his Indonesian and Malaysian friends gathered at his home to make "Ketupat", a unique food for Iedul Fitri day, consisting of rice cooked in a diamond-shaped box, made from young coconut leaves.  In Indonesia, this unique box is made from real coconut leaves, but in London, they are made from plastic.

When my friend and his group made Ketupat, the neighbor noticed their activity on his way out.  He seemed to be really curious about the "Ketupat" and started asking questions about it, and then things became friendly.

The formerly unfriendly neighbor then became even friendlier when my friend sent some Ketupat to him.  After that, his neighbor said to my friend, "Well well, when do you come back from Indonesia?  You should make more of this in my kitchen.  And let me take some notes, some pictures, and then I'll invite some of my friends to taste this. Thanks".

After a lot of smiles and a thank you, my friend came back to his apartment to prepare for the next day's flight.

The point of my story is, not only music is universal, food is also universal.


I agree with RWD for the most part - but food can be a terrific polarizer - either bringing people together or pushing them apart!  Growing up, the food I most enjoyed eating was Chinese food.  About once a month my family would drive to this Chinese restaurant for dinner... or was it lunch on a Sunday?  Maybe both, I'm not sure - but I do remember always being excited to go there, and not feeling as excited to go eating anywhere else.  Over the years, I also heard many people comment that they liked Chinese food - even if they weren't particularly interested in anything else in the East.  Now that I'm living in the East, I don't hear people getting excited about Western food - with some notable exceptions of course (French and Italian food is popular in Japan), but generally, people from Japan who travel overseas come back and complain about the food more than they compliment it.  So... if I fixed something and gave it to my neighbors, they'd probably become my enemies!     [Top of page]

"Lost Memory?"     [Top of page]

(2004/01/16)  I seem to have suddenly lost a bank of memory chips on one of the memory boards in one of my computers - which began with this message:

Memory write/read failure at 09197040, read F611F619 expecting F619F619

Decreasing available memory

Memory address line failure at 002737E0, read D8D0D8D8 expecting D8D8D8D8

Decreasing available memory

The amount of system memory has changed.

I played around with it for a bit, getting sporadic results, so I took the cover off (very easy with my old Dell OptiPlex) and tested the machine with only one of the 256MB boards and then the other, I got the same error message with one board in (with different numbers) and no error message with the other board in, so it seems I've lost the use of one of my 256MB boards (sob!).  I've never lost machine memory before - has anyone else?

Questions - do the details of the error message make clear sense to someone out there?  When I see the "read D8D0D8D8 expecting D8D8D8D8" part, it suggests to me that one bank of the two sided memory boards is not responding.  Is that the situation?  Is this something that can just happen out of the blue, or is there something wrong with the computer that damages memory (I hope not!).

(Later)  I found the box for the memory - made by "Apacer" and the "Installation Guide & Warranty Statement" claims that the boards have a "Lifetime Warranty", so maybe (for once) having kept the box of a component will actually pay off.

(Still later) I took the board back to the shop, they sent it away to the manufacturer and a few weeks later it came back... and worked for a week or two before the same problem happened.  If at all possible, I will never again buy Apacer memory.     [Top of page]

"House-breaking Thieves"     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: SelfPublishing...
Date: Thu, 05 Feb 2004
From: KCM  [US]

Things are ok, I guess.  Our house was broken into last week and the thieves took about a hundred dollars in New Year's money.  The police didn't come and they were just useless.  On the other hand I am going to Reno this weekend with Aabbb and another couple, which should be a lot of fun.

Work is ok, only it is too easy and too boring.  So I spend a lot of time trying to look like I'm working, when what I'm doing is surfing the internet and talking to other people on AIM and IRC.  My coworkers and boss are really nice people and I've already had a few people tell me they would love to write recommendation letters for me, so that's good.  I'm hoping to get permanent so that I will be able to stop paying for insurance and be able to look for another job at the same time.  The job market is still pretty tight.


There has been a lot in the news here in Japan about an increase in robberies of one sort or another.  In some cases, the villains have dressed as construction workers, rented heavy equipment, and then used the heavy equipment - in broad daylight and in front of everyone - to brazenly smash a hole in a house and then make off with whatever from inside!  Generally this has happened to people who are away on vacation, and since houses are torn down here like clockwork anyway (30 years is considered shockingly old for a house), people just figure it's on the up-and-up!

A local friend here had her apartment broken into and her two laptop computers stolen.  The creepy thing about it was that there was no sign of anything being forced, so it looks like whoever did it got a hold of the key to the apartment or was able to pick the lock.  After hearing about that - there was another special on TV showing how thieves were very meticulously making keys that fit a target house, and then using them to stroll in while the owners were out, make off with portable valuables, and then leave - locking the door behind them as they left!  Now people are changing locks, installing second locks, and getting (understandably) more paranoid.

Re: "Work is ok, only it is too easy and too boring.  So I spend a lot of time trying to look like I'm working..."

One of my old bosses told me: "Half of working is showing up!", and he was not entirely joking... most people are basically pretending to work and not really progressively moving forward or intelligently doing something constructive.  The overriding goal after all, is not to get fired.  Look at me... I always get fired for trying hard to fix what I see as broken.  It pays to be a sheep I guess - wolves are driven away....     [Top of page]

"Where did the Chicken Go?"     [Top of page]

Date: 2004/02/13
From: JBB  [Australia / Japan]

For the past six months or so I have been buying these really tasty spicy chicken wings from a department store here in Kichijoji.  They are so yummy and are a great in-between meals snack to eat with a cup of tea or a coffee.  I went in about three weeks ago to buy some of the scrumptious chicken and there was none there.  I enquired with the staff who know me by name and they said that it was sold out.  I went in again about ten days ago at about 3pm and again there was no sign of my yummy chicken.  I pointed out to the staff that there was no chicken and they said yes, there is no chicken.  I went in two days ago and yet again there was no sign of my beloved chicken.  "What is going on?" I thought?  I asked the staff if they had actually stopped making the chicken and they said yes.  "Why?" I asked?  "Is it because it is not popular?"  Their reply was a rather sheepish no, it's not that.  And then it dawned on me.  "Was the chicken from Thailand?"  I asked.  All three heads behind the counter went down, there was a bit of shifting from foot to foot and some nodding.  "Ahhhh" I said, "I see... okay, thanks" and I started backing away.  How about some of this nice schnitzel called one of the staff.  "No thanks" said I as I made my retreat.  It's quite delicious she said as I was moving further and further away from the store.

So for at least the last six months I have been consuming chicken that has come from Thailand.  I had no idea.  When I was eating the chicken, I didn't really even think about where it was from.  I think I just assumed that it was from Japan.  Don't ask me why.  Whether it comes from Thailand or Japan really shouldn't make any difference anyway.  But... I wonder if I have eaten chicken infected with that &%#$ bird influenza.  I bloody well hope not!!  But it does make you wonder about the food you eat in this country.  Where does it actually come from??


The part about the story that has me laughing and shaking my head simultaneously is the difficulty JBB had in finding out the truth.  It has struck me time and again since crossing the Pacific that accurate information is hard to come by.  You ask a straightforward question and you're told fiction if the truth is awkward.  Okay - that's about the way it is all over the world I guess, but in this case, instead of telling JBB that they were sold out, which led to him wasting his time in going back again, couldn't they have come up with something that didn't inconvenience him?  Something like "That's been discontinued"?  It's gotten to the point where I just surmise what the answer is and don't bother asking, and maybe that's what's going on here?  Inconvenience people who ask irritating questions to teach them to stop asking irritating questions?  If that's it, then they've largely succeeded with me - in public at least.  At work, how can you not try to find out what's going on?  But that's a different topic....     [Top of page]

"Time to More Effectively Network"     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: QuickRequest
Date: Sun, 25 Jan 2004 00:59:25 -0800 (PST)
From: PCZ  [Prague, CZ]

.....  Later I'll be launching my pen pal site.  Will you have some free space on my pen pal site, or will you participate on my web site?


Yes - absolutely.  I think that it's high time I started posting material at websites (pioneering work in that direction by KCM at www.toastedkitten.com/proj.html), and if we all work together (figuratively "all" it doesn't need to be 100%) with interlinked sites and help each other out, we can carry this project on to... on to... what?  "Bigger and better things" I suppose.  The point is, the fundamental reason I started this project and the fundamental reason I continue it, is in pursuit of a collective search for that which is common ground to us all - learning about our differences in the process.  As I've said before "Truth is stranger than fiction" - there is profound in the mundane, and mundane in the seemingly profound (thus the term "sophistry").  I don't put it that way for stylistic reasons - I really think discovering the truth is the most exciting thing you can do.

Speaking of networking... have a look at this site: www.vlinguist.com/ which was recently put up by Swamy Karnam, an e-pal.  I've got an experimental page on it at: (vlinguist.com/users/lyle/), but I don't understand very well how to upload things yet - I'm learning though!  Here is an introduction by Swamy:

"The new website is for people with language needs - both spoken and programming languages, maybe even sign language.  In general it is about communication issues - stuff like how Internet chat works; how telephones work; where to buy cheap calling cards; how to download Japanese fonts; how to parse SS7 (Signaling System 7) messages; how does ham radio and CB work; how do search engines work; how to make a search engine more efficient, etc.

Right now there isn't information at the site explaining all this, but there are a few good links and there is a bulletin board.  I would like to invite people to post their issues or solutions on the bulletin board."

"Experiencing European Culture"    [Top of page]

Subject: Re: Happy New Year!
Date: Wed, 4 Feb 2004
From: EWT  [Hong Kong / UK]

I'm now in Germany and doing the "Year in Europe" part of my course.  All very well and I'm enjoying my time here!  It's great to learn about other cultures - I've been exposed to not only the German culture but others too - European culture!

I live in Halls so have met other "Erasmus students" too....

It won't be long though before I go back to the UK and finish my degree - I'm getting quite nervous actually!


"Car Accident"     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: JustShowingUp...
Date: Thu, 12 Feb 2004
From: KCM  [US]

I am really tired.  In short, Aabbb got into a car accident and is fine except for back pain.  But he scared me when he called me and that has been on my mind since.  Recalling that moment of panic on both our ends is just very painful; I was afraid, for a split second, that I would lose him even though logically I knew he was ok.  We took him to the hospital and everything's fine; his back pain will die down, and the car will be fixed (although the insurance will be raised).


"Time to Get Legal it Seems..."     [Top of page]

The following letter from ICW was in response to my inquiry about the black list, and ICW goes on to suggest including an "opt-out", which is probably a good idea.  Before I continue on this topic, have a look at ICW's letter:

Subject: RE: "Blacklisted?"
Date: Mon, 5 Jan 2004 10:27:33 +0100
From: ICW  [France]

It's a designator blocking.  It's at the user level.  Someone at Cambridge probably created an Outlook or junk-mail rule to block your mail, so Cambridge's mail server is applying the block generally in an effort to filter out spam.  It could also be a filter set by the server manager to block all e-mail newsletters, in order to keep employees from subscribing to newsletters.  You may want to open a Yahoo! or Hot Mail e-mail account to bypass this problem.

You need to add an "opt-out" section to your newsletter - something like:

"This newsletter is not sent unsolicited, and therefore, it is not spam.  It is only sent to those who subscribe by contacting Lyle Saxon directly by e-mail.  This is a request-only publication.  If you wish to stop receiving this newsletter, please send a message to Mr. Saxon at lylesaxon@nanja.com.  He will remove your e-mail address from his subscriber list and respond with a confirmation message within one workweek.  Blocking reception of this newsletter through your e-mail server could result in other subscribers' not receiving the newsletter.  As a courtesy to them, please unsubscribe instead of blocking."

You may also want to add an opt-in clause:

"If this newsletter has been forwarded to you, you are invited to receive it directly by contacting Mr. Saxon.  He will e-mail you a confirmation message within one workweek of receiving your request.  When you respond to his confirmation message, he will add your e-mail address to his subscriber list.  You can only become a subscriber by responding to his confirmation message.  All subscription requests are kept on file as required by new anti-spam laws."


In every age of every era - for all time past and all time future - there are opposing forces for one reason or another.  It is my personal opinion that we are now in the middle of a conflict between people who are working for better communication between us all (I count myself in this group) and those who want to block the free flow of information and knowledge and control what people are able to access in the way of information.

After writing the above, I sat back and contemplated what to say next... I know what I want to convey, what I see and feel, but which words to use?  I think it's in that paragraph above basically - both in the words themselves and between the lines....

Anyway - I think I will start using the legal blurb that ICW kindly has given me permission to use - or a modified version of it.  I don't mind adding a few electrons to the newsletter, but it sort of irritates me that I'll have to have the legal stuff at the end - kind of like having to give up the back cover of a printed magazine to a legal disclaimer.  The front and the back of things are valuable - which is why magazines make big money selling that back page... and now I have to give up the electronic equivalent as a consequence of spammers' inane actions.  Well, let's take this as a wake-up call.  Time always moves forward, but progress ebbs and flows - let's do what we can to move forward in more than just time!     [Top of page]

"Warai Bangumi"     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: AnyKindIGuess...
Date: Tue, 10 Feb 2004
From: KVY  [US]

Hey, I've got a question - over here they have this game show they show from over there - I have no clue what the name of it is, but it has all these different games they do, and is really funny.  The station the show is on here is called Spike TV.  The people on the game shows are Japanese.  They roll over cushion barrels and fall into water, get attacked by people dressed up, etc.  Every once in awhile they show some Caucasian guys there playing the games too.


Sounds like one of the many "warai-bangumi" shows they have on TV here.  Probably "slap-stick comedy" is a decent translation, although "warai-bangumi" just means "laugh show" - something that sounds perfectly natural in Japanese but not in English.  The underlying theme of so much of life in Japan is competition, and that shows up on TV - from semi-documentary shows that have television personalities competing against each other for prizes during gaps in the show - which isn't such a bad format really - as people watching get a mix of just sitting back and watching the show and then speculating on the correct answer when a question comes up.

"Thanks, but No Thanks"     [Top of page]

Yes, it's that time again - time for another batch of refusal letters.  I think these are sort of funny to read in a way, and also I want to point out to job seekers out there that they're not the only ones getting refusal letters - in fact, for every position advertised, many more people get refusal letters than are offered the job, so....

As always, the typographical errors and bad English are from the originals - these have not been altered other than to remove names to protect the guilty.

Subject: RE: Resume
Date: Thu, 18 Dec 2003

Dear Mr. Saxon,

Thank you for your application to Aabbb Bbccc Co.

We have reviewed you details with interest but however on this occasion we do not have the position you are looking for.

Again, thank you for your application.

Yours Sincerely,

Ccddd Ddeee

[Two things I like about this one - that "but however" and "we do not have the position you are looking for".]

Subject: Re: Resume
Date: Mon, 15 Dec 2003 14:58:25 +0900

December 15th, 2003

Dear Lyle ,  [Extra space between Lyle and comma in original.]

Thank you for sending a your resume , Although it is work of hope, other candidates have come out unluckily and introduction is impossible. I am sorry although it is sorry for me to be allowed to inquire also here very much. Moreover, if there is the following opportunity, I will need your help well.


Aabbb Co., Ltd
Bbccc Ddeee

[Without question, that nonsense above is the result of a computer translation - "I am sorry although it is sorry for me to be allowed to inquire also here very much." - I don't care how bad someone's English is, nobody writes like that!  Why did I contact them with English in the first place?  Well... keep in mind that all these companies were advertising in English.]

Subject: RE: Resume
Date: Mon, 15 Dec 2003 17:25:18 +0900

Mr. Saxon,

Thank you very much for your interest in our company, unfortunately at this moment we do not have any need for a person with your skills. We will keep your resume on file in case any such position becomes open in the future.


-- Aabbb Ccddd
Director, System Division

Subject: Re: Resume
Date: Thu, 18 Dec 2003 18:23:22 +0900

Dear Lyle, Thank you for your email. However, I'm afraid, the male teacher position has been filled already. Again, thank you for your application. Best regards.

Eefff Gghhh

Subject: Thank you from ABC ENGLISH
Date: Thu, 18 Dec 2003 18:41:26 +0900

Re:Part-time Conversation Tutor

Thank you for applying for the above position.

The choice between the many suitable candidates has not been easy. Unfortunately, on this occasion we are not able to offer you a position. However, we would like to keep your application on file in case a suitable vacancy arises in the future.

We would like to thank you for your interest in ABC English and wish you every success in the future.


Academic Director

Subject: Re: Resume
Date: Mon, 22 Dec 2003 09:34:26 +0900

Dear Mr. saxon,

Thank you for your interest in working with Aabbb-Ccddd Japan Co., Ltd.

I regret to inform you that we do not have any writing position available.  We have screened all resumes and selected bilingual accounting persons for the next step to interview.

I  wish you the best in your future career, and on behalf of Aabbb-Ccddd Japan, I appreciate for your interest in working with us.

Warm regards,

Eefff Gghhh
Executive Administrative Assistant

["Executive Administrative Assistant"?  I understand the "Administrative Assistant" part, but putting the "Executive" in front of it means... that the worker is working for an executive then?  Is it just me, or does that title sound odd?  I suppose this is a replacement for "Executive Secretary"?  But even that sounds odd!  I mean, it's perfectly normal to talk about "executive secretaries", but as a job title that you write your name under?  What's that?  Just normal terminology you say?  Okay.]

Subject: RE: Resume
Date: Tue, 30 Dec 2003 14:10:25 +1100

Dear Mr Saxon

Please be advised that you have not been successful in your application for the Art Director position. Many thanks for your interest in ABC Images.


Aabbb Ccddd
HR Director

Subject: RE: Resume
Date: Thu, 22 Jan 2004 09:34:52 +0900

Dear Lyle,

Thank you for your application. We have reviewed your application and unfortunately do not feel your background would be an appropriate match for our organization at this point. I wish you the best of luck in your job search and will contact you again in the future if we have a more appropriate position.

Best regards,

Aabbb Ccddd

Representative Director
Ddeee K.K.

Subject: Thank you for your application.
Date: Mon, 09 Feb 2004 20:06:41 +0900

Dear Mr Lyle Saxon,

Thank you for your interest in the post of Advertising Assistant.

Having carefully considered your resume, we are afraid that we will be unable to offer you a position at this time.

We wish you luck in the future.

Aabbb Ccddd
Bbccc Advertising Manager

Subject: Position with Ddeee Inc.
Date: Tue, 10 Feb 2004 12:01:51 +0900

Thank you for your interest in Ddeee. Unfortunately, your qualifications do not match the requirements of the position.

We wish you best of luck in your job hunt.

Best regards Recruiting Center at Ddeee Inc.

This one really irritated me - and the company is one that I've done work for (indirectly) before.  They have a great international reputation, but they are cut-throat, mean and unfriendly when it comes to doing business.  Any project they have where the work can be farmed out, they split it up and give pieces of it to several companies simultaneously, and then they crack the whip - getting free overtime, free rewrites, and cheap prices as they work one company against another.  "Another company is doing this same work for us for less - if you don't lower your prices, we'll give your share of the work to them."  They actually say and do exactly that - I've been in the fray and seen it first hand.  "Just normal business practices" you say?  There is a difference in degree.  They continually, and I do mean continually, operate this way.  365 days a year, they are pitting one subcontractor against another.  I would like to tell you which company it is, but I don't want to be sued, so I'll keep it to myself.  I'll say this though - I feel like answering their arrogant letter with this response:

"Thank you for your rude and inconsiderate letter.  Your low regard for human dignity, not to mention your stinginess overall, disqualifies you from further consideration as a company that I am willing to help with my time for cheap hire."

No, I didn't actually send that - and I would probably even work for them if they offered me a job, but I don't like that company and I will avoid their products as much as possible from here out.     [Top of page]

"Linux & Freedom of Communication"     [Top of page]

(2004/03/06  2:41 a.m.)  Once again I am up in the middle of the night facing the computer screen.  I've been thinking of something I want to say, and it might stop me from sleeping, so I'm going to try to express it somewhat before going to bed.

I've edited some bits and pieces of past LL's with Linux, but mainly they've been produced on machines running MS software.  This is the first LL that has been more than 90% written and edited on Linux.  The Linux platform isn't perfect for desktop users, but it's working well for me overall and the machine seems extremely stable.  W2K is more stable than W95 & W98, but Linux is more stable than W2K.  And... this will sound like a trivial thing to mention - the screen savers on this version of Linux (SuSE 9.0) are many, and some are quite artistic.  The default setting is that you get a different screen saver each time, so you never know what you're going to get.  Some of them are so nice I sit and watch them for a couple of minutes - I think they qualify as art - authentic art, created with heart and not heartlessly chosen in an overly long meeting in an overly large company.  Logically, I have to shake my head about being impressed with this minor detail, but it's part of the computing experience and I spend so much time on the computer that it's appreciated.

If that were all I had to say, I wouldn't bother to put anything here I don't think, but I'm concerned about the news I read of a company (I won't honor them by writing their name here) that is legally attacking Linux with dubious claims of copyright infringement.  I believe that company's claims are fraudulent and they are up to no good - indeed I believe the sole purpose is to stop Linux from progressing.  The operating system market and the software used by offices for letters and spreadsheets is a staggeringly huge market.

Historically, some people have always done what they could to obtain a position of power by whatever means - fair or foul - at their disposal, and once in a position of power do whatever they could - through fair methods and foul - to stop others from surpassing their position of power or doing something that would cause them to lose power.  But freedom of communication is in all of our best interests.  I'm not saying there aren't secrets, only that the tools of communication should be promoted, not attacked.

2004... it was more than seven years ago that I began the LL project - the technology to communicate freely was expanding and people were excited to meet people from other countries.  Now... with the spam attack on everyone's In Boxes and now legal attacks against probably the most egalitarian software tool of all, this is no time to take what we have for granted.

For the record, this was edited on Linux SuSE 9.0 with EditPad Pro 5.2.1, with later formatting done with OpenOffice 1.1.1rc.

Sore dewa!

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon, Images Through Glass
LLLetters@yahoo.com - Nishi-Shinjuku, Tokyo
March 8th 2004 - (IHBM/LL324)
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