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April 21st - June 2nd, 2004
"The Interview"
"Was that a Typhoon?"
"Away From the Group"
"Passing Shadows"
"Re: Passing Shadows"  by CPK
"Self-Confidence & Self-Promotion"  by KCM & LHS
"By-the-Script Interview"  by FTB & LHS
"2005 World Exposition, Aichi, Japan"
"Re: 2005 World Exposition"  ADP/FTB
"What's Going On?"  HHE/ECM/KCM/LHS
"Trip to Greece" by APR & LHS
"Car Shopping & Self-Promotion"  by KCM & LHS
"Maintain the Hubble Telescope!"
"Skipping Gender-Specific Vocabulary"
"Freelance Paying the Bills?"  by Yo/Gr & LHS
"Poor Choice of Wording Maybe?"
"Re: Can of Coins....."  HHE/JNR/CPK/NDI/SZS
"Take Route-1"  by KCM & LHS
"What is She Thinking?!"  by CBG & LHS
"E-Mail Legalese"
"The Sandstone Rambler"  by SZS
"Real Tokyo"
"Re: Real Tokyo"  ABR/CLM/ADP
"On the Brink"
"Good-bye MicroMuck!"  by LHS & ZCJ
"May 14th, 2004"  by LNX
"EU-Japan Friendship Day"
"Re: EU-Japan Friendship Day" by BRC & ADP
"Thanks, but No Thanks - May 2004"
"Men & Machines"  by KCM
"Will Having a Site Help?"
"Caravan On-line Bookshop"
"The Blue Parrot - English Books"
"Bondi Books - Kichijoji"

"The Interview"

(2004/04/21)  I mentioned in LL-325 that I had an interview for the same day as I signed off, which was yesterday evening.  It turned out to be a 32 year-old guy from the US who is running a small business helping locals prepare for and apply to grad schools in the US.  To save his own time, he has been inviting people to interviews in bunches.  The batch I came with included a French (and English) speaking Canadian, a Japanese-Mexican woman, and a Chinese-American woman.  (There were also apparently three no-shows.)  Not to waste a lot of time on a non-event, but the American guy looking for tutors to help him out with his prep-school business was a remarkably unimpressive soul with impressive scholastic papers.  As he put it himself "In grad school, I read some strange books, drank a lot of wine, and didn't really learn much - but people here are impressed with the name of the institution I attended."

And... that about sums it up.  Quality need not apply.  BS is supreme.  No matter how mediocre you may be, if you have good papers to wave in people's faces, they will throw money at you.  All very depressing for me - who avoided formal education beyond a couple of part-time years at a very non-famous college.  Why did I avoid formal education?  Because I knew what I wanted to learn, and believed then (and still believe now) that I could better learn what I wanted to know by studying on my own.  The result?  No papers to wave in peoples' faces and - now that I'm over forty - extreme difficulty in finding employment.

One other thing... the guy kept referring to highly profitable months of the year as "chocolate months" or the "chocolate season".  I tried to catch the man's eye to ask him where in the &%$# that disgusting phrase came from, but he could see it coming and his eyes beat a hasty retreat to the other side of the room when I beamed that at him and he wouldn't look at me after that.  The paper wielding politicians in the room, however, jumped right on the bandwagon and started parroting that idiotic "chocolate months" phraseology.  Once we were away from the place, the female politician said "That was a weird interview...", but she never missed a beat playing to the guy's out-of-tune band while in there.  I don't understand how people so blithely and smoothly sell themselves down river for money.  Are we not allowed to be thinkers?  But there you go - money goes to those who are highly disingenuous, and those who don't act parts as though they were in a play are left to starve.  No wonder the world is a mess - what are we creating through natural(?) selection here?

"Was that a Typhoon?"     [Top of page]

(2004/04/28)  I had a job interview in Yokohama yesterday.  The weather is nice today and it was nice the day before yesterday, but my one day out this week and it was quite a stormy day!  I'm not entirely certain, but I think they only use the term "typhoon" during the "typhoon season" here, so yesterday was only referred to as being windy and rainy.  The rain wasn't too heavy, but it was raining sideways with a very strong wind, speeding clouds overhead, and the building the interview was in (right on the edge of Tokyo Bay) was making creaking noises!  Pretty much the same conditions as what they call typhoons in August.

The job interview?  How did it go?  I'm not sure - certainly I could do the job, but the office is so far away (Yokohama) and the pay is so low!  I proposed doing some of the work from home (it's mainly a research position after all - using the Internet - so I could do that from home), but companies here are very reluctant to believe that someone can really work from home... they want to see the body in the office, whether that body is actually working or not.  If you are facing the computer and making clicking noises with your mouse, typing on and off, rushing to and from the printer (it looks lazy to walk), and looking properly serious, all is right with the world.

"Away From the Group"     [Top of page]

(2004/05/03 17:05)  Working away from a group.  I've been working this year at home - taking in requests and information through the wires and sending it back with my "value added" step in the chain.  I've never done this exclusively before, and so the non-social aspect of working this way is a new experience for me.  Firstly, I'm quite happy not to have to ride the hellish commuter trains, but on the other hand, the initial joy at not having to put up with office politics and other suffering sardine train fish, er... people, has turned into a kind of computer fatigue as I sit in front of the computer working on one thing after another.  The fact that not enough money is coming in makes me feel like I should just stay on the keyboard non-stop until the money starts flowing, but I suppose I better work out a schedule with breaks if I'm not to get... um... what?  Electro-magnetized?

"Passing Shadows"     [Top of page]

The following paragraph is a repeat (previously sent out along with a combination photo), in here as reference to go along with some letters mentioning it.

It's a bad habit I have that I tend to walk down the street perpetually envisioning a scene that I hope is around the next bend.  There are moments when I'm happy to be where I am, but it's such a habit to be looking towards a horizon that seems near but never actually arrives, that never do I sit back and completely live the moment.  What I'm beginning to realize is that the forward march of progress or regression is never a completed process.  Giving up would be a worse habit I suppose, but like the shadows on the pavement in this picture, the eventual state of there being no trace of even our most fervent efforts seems to be trying to tell me something....  (March 8th, 2004)

Regarding that photo and text:

"Re: Passing Shadows"     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: "Passing Shadows"
From: CPK  [US]
Date: Thu, 8 Apr 2004

When will you publish a book of poetry?  How nice that would be... a combination of your artistic picture collages and the poetic thoughts those scenes invoke.

A wise man continuously ponders the futility and the vanity of life, and how all is as striving after wind.  A foolish man sees only himself and his current gratification.  "But in much wisdom there is much grief, and increasing knowledge results in increasing pain."  So to this I raise up my cup of coffee this morning and toast (um, no pun intended there)... at least by pain we know our spirits are alive!

By the way... what are those trees blooming around that ball field and by the train tracks?


A book of poetry....  I don't think I can write poetry actually - just on rare occasions when I'm trying hard to say something that is hard to express, it ends up sounding like poetry... but is it in fact poetry?  I've never thought I was interested in poetry, but some things are hard to explain in any other way it seems.

The trees in the background (See?  Over there...) are the famous Cherry Blossom trees.  They look nice for a week or two each year and quite ordinary the rest of the year.

"Self-Confidence & Self-Promotion"     [Top of page]

From: KCM  [US]
Date: Fri, 09/10 Apr 2004

I just received news that my position may be cut, thanks to budget cuts (or "cutting waste" as the governor calls it).  Frankly, I'm scared and paranoid and I assume that eventually I will find something, but I am also competing with an awful lot of smart people who are also out of work for whatever reason.  *sigh*

I may just end up doing independent contractor work for my former teacher.  At least I know what I'm expecting with him.  Hmmm...  This is kind of an unusual favor, but do you have any lawyers in your address book who could take a cursory glance at the contract I have?  I trust my teacher, but I don't trust myself to make good decisions these days.

- - - - - - - - - -

........ It's kind of weird.  Even when I get complimented on my writing, I have a hard time believing it.  I've heard that girls are socialized to think that any success they have is due to luck, not talent, and boys are socialized to think the opposite.  I'm sort of finding it to be true.  Aabbb tells me I have to learn to have more confidence in my abilities, so that other people will see it, too.  Chinese culture drives the learned humbleness even further - to express any kind of good things about yourself is considered bragging.  I wonder how to reverse that process, but not come off as arrogant.


I'm not sure what to say about self-promotion.  I'm not a good salesperson myself and it horrifies me when I see blatant liars spinning fictitious tales that are stupidly believed by unperceptive listeners.  It seems that it's all about performance and has nothing to do with content or actual quality.  People would be doing themselves and everyone else a big favor to start being more perceptive to actual reality and not just perceived reality....  The truth is elusive and often painful to behold, but it must be sought.  Of course, if the job itself is some kind of advertising or sales position, then the actual skill of being able to spin believable tales is (unfortunately) the whole issue.

"By-the-Script Interview"     [Top of page]

To: FTB  [US]
Date: Thu, 15 Apr 2004 -0400
Subject: Re: ALittleDifferent

My wife applied for a telemarketing job, but was dumbfounded when the interviewer asked her if she had trouble getting to the job, even though it is only a short drive from our house and also easy to reach by subway or bus....

It has been colder than it is supposed to be here in Brooklyn and the rest of New York City.


The lower the level of the interviewer, the more inane the questions and worse their perception.  They basically go over a checklist to fulfill their duty to their employer.  Think?  Actually do a quality job of the interview?  That sort of behavior is threatening to management and leads to one getting fired.  They like sheep much better than thinkers.  Sorry for the cynicism, but that's been my experience!  Non-productive sheep?  Kept on the payroll!  Productive and innovative thinkers?  Threatening to blue-blood middle managers and fired at the first opportunity.

"2005 World Exposition, Aichi, Japan"     [Top of page]

The following two paragraphs were also sent out previously - to see if anyone in the group had heard anything about the 2005 World Expo to be held in Aichi, Japan:

I was asked by an acquaintance about The 2005 World Exposition in Aichi, Japan.  After finding their official site ( http://www-0.expo2005.or.jp/en/ ), I've begun reading up on it.  It sounds like it might be interesting - certainly a lot of the themes mentioned at the site seem timely.  Achieving some kind of balance between technology and biology would seem to be essential.  I grew up with mixed information about technology, progress, ecology, and which should be emphasized at the expense of the other.  These days, technology has advanced enough that we should be able to intelligently put together the pieces into a stable whole.  I certainly hope so at any rate!

So - here's my question:  Have you heard anything about the 2005 World Expo?  If not, what do you think of the information at the site.  The site seems to be written in good English (not the norm here I'm sorry to say)... which is a good sign.  So - anyway - it's not pressing, but I'm quite curious about this upcoming event, so if you have time to comment, drop me a line!

And - among others - I received these replies:

"Re: 2005 World Exposition [1]"     [Top of page]

Subject: RE: 2005 World Exposition
From: ADP  (US)
Date: Wed, 21 Apr 2004

I have been slowly digesting this site and what it could be or mean, and I have to say I'm glad of the trend, at least, that we should start curbing ourselves from encroaching any further on nature.  But I have to say that the real movement toward peace with our own planet is probably decades away.  It makes sense that this is coming from Japan, a country that hopefully has learned sooner than everyone else that the limit to our expansion is real and close at hand.  I hope they can really spark something at this event and that the US can make greater strides toward ecology.  I'm afraid that the way things are now is very bad for the air and water, and ultimately people.


"Re: 2005 World Exposition [2]"     [Top of page]

Subject: RE: 2005 World Exposition
From: FTB  [US]
Date: Sat, 1 May 2004

I have never heard of the 2005 World Exposition in Aichi, Japan and I only had time to view part of the website.  I so far get the impression that it is a sincere attempt to prove that technology and nature do not have to interfere with each other but can actually be brought into a state of balance.  I wish the oil companies would not interfere with the creation of alternative fuels and that they would find a new and more honest way of making a living.


"What's Going On?"     [Top of page]

From: HHE  [US]
Date: Fri, 23 Apr 2004 -0500

I was puzzled by the manner in which the Japanese press and, seemingly, the Japanese people are treating the three hostages from Iraq after their release and return.  One of the hostages was doing what I thought was a very noble and unselfish thing - helping Iraqi street children.  Her name is Nahoko Takato and a small picture is in our Houston paper today with her brother, Shuichi, departing Haneda airport.  It is very obvious she was distressed.  The article was written by a New York Times correspondent in Tokyo, Norimitsu Onishi.  It tells of signs that greeted them - "You are Japan's shame" and "You got what you deserve".  It seems they had caused trouble for everybody, and the government, not to be outdone, has announced they will be billed $6,000 for airfare.

The article states "The former hostages transgression was to ignore a government advisory against traveling to Iraq.  But their sin, in a vertical society, was to defy what people call here 'okami', or, literally, 'what is higher'.  Treated like criminals, they have gone into hiding, effectively becoming prisoners inside their own homes.  The kidnapped woman, Nahoko Takato, was last seen arriving at her parents' home, looking defeated and dazed from taking tranquilizers, flanked by relatives who helped her walk and bow deeply before reporters as a final apology to the nation."

The article goes on to state that "To the angry Japanese, the first three hostages, Takato, 34, who started her own nonprofit organization to help Iraqi street children; Sochiro Koriyami, 32, a freelance photographer; and Noriaki Imai, 18, a freelance writer also interested in the issue of deleted uranium munitions - had acted selfishly.  Pursuing individual goals by defying the government and causing trouble for Japan was simply unforgivable. (Note: Ignoring a government advisory isn't really defying the government.  Ignoring an order or a ban is defying - in my opinion.)

I guess I was shocked to see that the people have such blind obeisance to authority.  I think one of the hostages was doing a very good thing for humankind and should be honored instead of vilified.

Please comment on the "vertical society" to which the writer referred, will you?


After talking over this issue with some Japanese friends, the consensus we reached is that the criticism has more to do with groupism than this being a vertical society.  Not that the two are not intertwined... but more important is the situation where the fault of an individual reflects on the group he/she belongs to.  When you realize that this extends to law, then you can imagine that it's a force to be reckoned with!  Consider the sobering fact that a family is financially liable for damages when an individual from the family commits suicide by jumping in front of a train!  In this light, that individuals are criticized for causing expense and/or trouble for the group is not strange.  Also there is the "Jump on the bandwagon" effect of anything broadcast on TV... of which I have not an overly favorable opinion - in this or any other society.

Subject: Interesting
From: ECM  [US]
Date: Wed, 12 May 2004

I noted on our TV that the returning Japanese Iraq hostages were treated very poorly when they returned.  Why would they be treated poorly?


Subject: Re: WorkingAlmostForFree....
From: KCM  [US]
Date: Fri, 23 Apr 2004

Today I came upon a story entitled: "For Japanese Hostages, Release Only Adds to Stress" (at www.nytimes.com) about how the Japanese hostages who were released are enduring even higher stress now that they've returned home.  The negative reaction baffles me, and perhaps it's a cultural thing, but I wonder what... in the world is the reason for this?


After being asked about this by several people (more than those quoted above)... I just went back and had a careful reread of the original article and I would have to say that while I think it is well written and an engaging read, I think the editor probably damaged it to make it more "exciting" (I would love to see the original draft).  Take the opening line:

"The young Japanese taken hostage in Iraq returned home this week, not to the warmth of a yellow ribbon embrace but to a disapproving nation's cold stare."

That may draw the reader into the article, but it damages an accurate conveyance of the actual truth of the issue.  For this issue is a complicated one and there are opinions on both sides of it.  Why is it that when news is domestic, it's "There was a crowd at the local airport - including some people holding signs condemning the individuals", but as soon as it's news about a foreign country it's "... to a disapproving nation's cold stare"?  And why is it that news organizations think they have to always write in that flowery (and disgusting, in my opinion) overwritten style?  Are they trying to be newspapers or novels?  Yes, Japan is notoriously intolerant of individuality, but I think anyone in any country who finds themselves under the eye of a nationally televised camera lens in a critical light is very uncomfortable with that.  Whenever someone - guilty or innocent - is accused of something hated by the group in general, they don't want to show their face to everyone.  The natural instinct is to stay out of sight.

So - I think the real issues here are dismal text quality in the popular news media (high quality if it were a bloody novel, but the issue should be the truth and not simply what will entertain), and the effect(s) on anyone who is criticized in the media.  The politicians?  They push for whatever will maintain their power.  Any Japanese citizens becoming victims in Iraq would be damaging right now, so if they can use the media to scare others from putting themselves in harm's way, it's better for their grand scheme - whatever that might be.  The immediate effect news of the three becoming hostages had was an upsurge in an already strong anti-war stance by the general population.  Why were the politicians angry?  There's your answer.  It's all about power.  What is true, what is good, what is in the nation's best interests has nothing to do with it.  Most condemnable of all however, are the sheep who blindly run in the direction the barking sheepdog wants them to go in.  A comment by a politician sets off the media commentators and everyone stops thinking and just goes with the flow.  This media-induced sheep-disease is something affecting every country on the planet I think.     [Top of page]

"Trip to Greece"     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: Spring
From: APR  [Portugal]
Date: Sun, 25 Apr 2004 12:21:01 +0100

I have to apologize for answering so late.  I had a small problem with my computer and although the computer shop told me it would take only two days to fix, it took more than a week.

I also had to rest from my trip last week to Greece.  Especially Athens, which was so noisy I had to buy ear plugs for the first time in my life.  I wanted to visit four friends in Greece and I managed that although I had to travel a lot to get to all four places.  I also wanted to practice Greek, a language I am very much interested in, but I wasn't able to because most people I met spoke Portuguese.  Of course I also visited some attractions whenever I had the time.  As a book lover, I couldn't resist and bought six books, as well as lots of CD's and DVD's.  I think that primarily people interested in ancient Greece would most like visiting Athens; it is a very noisy and busy city (even more so now that they are preparing for the Olympic games), has no river, very few parks and even the sea seems far away.  Also I didn't appreciate Greek cuisine, which seemed to be a sort of copy of Turkish cuisine (this is an opinion I wouldn't share with my Greek friends)... fortunately, my Brazilian friend agreed with me and when I was with him I only ate Brazilian food!


Uh-oh!  Food complaints!  Nothing is so dear to the hearts of natives and so easily criticized by outsiders as food!  In case my Greek friends are miffed over the letter above, I would just say that it's a personal opinion and to remember that the most delectable food to one, is positively poison to another.  There are the foods that just about all animals (people, etc.) seem to naturally like - salmon for example.  Bears, cats, people - all seem to like salmon.  Other food is like alcohol or cigarettes I think - not something anyone really naturally likes, but rather acquires a taste for and then - over time - an addiction to.

Computer reliability... I wonder if it's getting better, worse, or staying the same?  All of my computers are several years old, with various newer parts in them, so I've almost stopped looking at them as even single machines, but rather as multiple machines hooked up and working together in the same box.  At the moment they are mainly working well and not causing me (much) trouble, but something going wrong with computers is always only a matter of time!

"Car Shopping & Self-Promotion"     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: "Only When the Wind Blows"
From: KCM  [US]
Date: Wed, 05 May 2004

......  I really need to start applying for jobs.  I hate composing cover letters because I always think I come across as really fake and idiotic.  Like, "Hi!  Look at me, I rawk!"

I know that I have very good skills and desired traits that would make almost anyone want to hire me, so why can't I convey that convincingly in a simple letter?  Maybe I'm over-thinking it.

Aabbb is shopping for a new car and now I'm sunburned because we went to the Fremont Automall on Sunday and it was a (typical for California) scorching hot day.  The salesmen were pathetic and incompetent and the only person who seemed to be interested in having a job was the guy at the Lexus dealership, and Aabbb certainly wasn't going to get a Lexus, even if the car we tested out was very nice and even had me considering begging him to get it (the LS300).  The people at the Honda and Toyota dealerships were worse than useless.  He had to demand that they show him a car, and then one of them asked straight off if he was going to buy that day.

Have you been watching the news?  I cannot.  I can barely bring myself to read the on-line news, and it's just hard....



Car shopping - I haven't done that for a long time, but when I did, I hated it too.  On one hand, it's exciting to look around at the different possibilities you have within a certain price range, but - especially for used cars - there's a lot of attempted deception going on, especially from the sellers, although some buyers are real sharks themselves.

Self-promotion... I have some ideas on this topic, but since the whole object of working is to make money to enable living in society (as opposed to living alone in a cave in the wilderness) and I'm just about flat broke right now, how can I say anything?  Nevertheless, I think focusing your mind on the type of work you want to do and explaining why/how you can do it is basically what a potential employer is looking for?  But I haven't a clue... I'm just about ready to start looking for a cave in the wilderness to move into....

And... something else.  Supposedly, the working world is a professional one and being personally liked shouldn't be the main consideration, but very often it is!  I mean... look at politicians!  The dredges of society and they are our "leaders"?!!  In that light, it is not strange at all to feel nervous about job interviews.  As often as not, the issue is whether you are personally liked - not whether you can do the job or not.  You might even say that a job interview more closely resembles a blind date than anything else.     [Top of page]

"Maintain the Hubble Telescope!"     [Top of page]

(2004/05/28)  There were a few stories in the news saying that they (NASA? the government?) have decided to cancel scheduled maintenance of the Hubble Space Telescope and just let it burn up in the atmosphere when it next needs servicing.  I think it would be criminal to let such a hugely successful and fantastic eye on the heavens go to waste like that.  I fear that such a decision could only come from someone hostile to science in general and the truth in particular; someone who cherishes the idiotic myths of the ancients and can't stand to have truth get in the way... or am I missing something here?  In any event, for some really fantastic images of space, go to the Hubble site and have a look.  Don't you agree that this is good science and should be supported and maintained?  ( http://hubblesite.org/ )

"Skipping Gender-Specific Vocabulary"     [Top of page]

I don't know if this is interesting to anyone or not, but I recently wrote the following bit to an e-friend who was complaining that English basically forces you to make people male or female even when there is no need to do so.

This is something that is easier to deal with in the Japanese language, as it doesn't assign gender the way English does. Thus:

Q: Where did Bill/Jane go?

A: He/She went to the store.

- is generally:

Q: Where did Hiroshi/Midori go?

A: Went to the store.

In English, that "Went to the store" is grammatically wrong so we have to put in "he/she/they" etc., but - beyond the grammar - since both people already know the subject, it doesn't really need to be repeated for content reasons - and isn't in Japanese.  The happy result is that you don't have to be thinking gender in Japanese all the time the way you do with English.  On the other hand, the Japanese language forces you to always think up and down for things (hierarchical society...), but that's another story!

"Freelance Paying the Bills?"     [Top of page]

From: Yo/Gr  [US / Japan]
Date: Wed, 5 May 2004

.......  As far as the freelance thing goes, does that pay well?  I figured those guys were doing the English thing here, and writing to keep sane.  If you have a Master's Degree, you should try to get a teaching job at a university or college, good pay, little work.  I guess the market there is saturated though?  I guess as lame as it sounds, good luck!  Anyway, try to make contacts, eventually something will come through.

I've got class, and little brain power left, so will write later!


Does freelance work pay well?  Generally not, from what I've seen and from what I've heard from other people doing it.  For the freelance translation work, if you work day and night and don't sleep much, you can get the bills paid... sort of.  More precisely - when you are working flat out, you can get the bills paid, but as soon as there's a lull in the work (always only a matter of time with freelance work), then suddenly you can't pay the bills, and the amount paid for working flat out isn't enough to save anything, so people end up borrowing money, or abandoning the country and going back to... something... maybe rent-free living at a relatives house if nothing else.

Freelance articles are a different story, in that the pay varies more widely, and even when it's dirt cheap, it's so much more worthwhile to write something original and then see it in print with your own name on it than it is to suffer through sleepless nights working on tortuous translations (for ridiculously short deadlines) that are far more difficult than original writing, and yet earn no respect at all.

Does it pay well?  Frankly, no, but I'm too far into it and it's getting to be too late in the game to change direction, even if I wanted to....

"Poor Choice of Wording Maybe?"     [Top of page]

(2004/05/28)  I was roundly criticized by several people for the "Can of Coins....." thing.  In rereading the short paragraph of text I sent with it (reproduced below), I think I can see one reason.  I say "... it was something that I had sort of wanted to put together for some time..." which would tend to convey an image of me constantly thinking about it; while the actual situation was simply that it was one of many things in the back of my mind.  Another example of something I had been meaning to do for a long time is to order a replacement bolt for a chair I have with a loose armrest.  It took two years to actually implement that!  Probably three or four times a week I would sit in that chair, re-notice the loose armrest and think "... need to get that bolt...".  I think I should have done it right away, but it wasn't a critical issue, so it stayed on the back-burner for a long time, until I finally special ordered it, waited a week, picked it up and screwed it in a couple of days ago.

It was the same sort of thing with the coins - I didn't care about it all that much, but it was a nagging question in the back of my mind that I would occasionally remember as I put one and five yen coins in the can (they're a nuisance to carry around).  The can eventually filled up, and I dumped out the coins, took a few pictures, and put together that three-page PDF file....

And here I am again spending time on it!  I wouldn't bother with this if I hadn't received such polarized answers!  People were either interested or thought I was crazy!  Here is the text paragraph that accompanied the PDF file, followed by a few reader's comments:

Good evening (Tokyo time anyway) - The attached file is a frivolous issue - just a simple "How many coins are in the can" deal, but it was something that I had sort of wanted to put together for some time, so... I did.  Let me know how bad this is - on a scale of -1 to -20 (negative numbers those).

[The attached PDF file showed a Coke can with an open top that was full of Japanese coins on the first page, the coins spilled out in a pile on the second page, and the coins arranged in groups of ten on the final page so you could see exactly how many there were.  The photos were half the fun for me in putting it together.  There were 378 coins altogether, by the way.... - LHS]

"Re: Can of Coins....."     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: Can of Coins.....
From: HHE  [US]
Date: Wed, 5 May 2004  -0500

I have the feeling that the question you asked about how many coins fit in the jar is in the same category as:

"How many angels can fit on the head of a pin?"  And the answer is - who knows?  And does it really matter?  Too much time on the computer is my diagnosis.

Speaking of which, I am trying to switch ISP's as my Juno account isn't working too well.  The new (maybe) ISP works with Internet Explorer and Outlook Express.  My problem is that O.E. is apparently corrupted and won't work.

So, I have to go to the new ISP's web page and send mail from there.  The problem there is that I can't tell if the message really was sent.  No Sent Mail folder that I can find.  Very frustrating.

HHE-US (Texas)

Trivia: Since Texas was admitted to the Union as a country, it has the right to fly the state flag at the same height as the U.S. flag, the only state that can do so, and that is why there is so much Texas envy - or is it animosity?

Subject: Re: Can of Coins.....
From: JNR  [US]
Date: Wed, 5 May 2004

Sorry Lyle, but I can't give a negative of any sort to this game or your photo.  first of all, the shot is really cool.  I like the shadowy, murky appearance inside the can, backgrounded by something so simple and clean as a bamboo mat (a metaphor, perhaps?).  Second, I have always loved those "how many coins/jelly beans/fishing bobbers etc. in the can/jar/boat" games.  It's fun.  Maybe I'm just a really tall and old kid who is easily delighted and challenged.  Anyway, high marks on the photo and the game and my guess is 103 coins.


Ah... it was so nice to read the above letter after hearing from relatives and close friends that they thought I was slipping into the deep end.  This reminds me of the early days of the LL back in 1997.  I'd send out something and then, after pulling in a batch of responses, I would hover my hand over the mouse (the equivalent on my IBM ThinkPad at the time actually), hold my breath a second, think "O-kay... here goes..." and then I would click on the first message.  It was often quite a roller coaster, with one letter full of attack toxins and then the next letter full of friendly feelings and support.  Nothing so drastic with the coins, but still... that same sort of roller coaster effect.

Subject: Re: Can of Coins.....
From: CPK  [US]
Date: Thu, 6 May 2004

My guess... was approximately 250 and that was on quick observation.  I, too, would have been annoyed with the joke as I take the "sampling" very seriously.  As a child... I had a way with the "beans in the jar" competition.  Weird, huh?  Well, I liked your photos, and your story, and the fact that you had to prove it to yourself to the letter.  I would not be such a stickler myself, being sufficiently content with round numbers, which is why I'd make a lousy accountant.  The coins are interesting and so is the mat.  I was a little disappointed to come across the exact answer rather unexpectedly.  I thought I might get to submit my guess and possibly win the prize.


Subject: Re: Coins/ThankYou!
From: JNR  [US]
Date: Thu, 6 May 2004

I guess I didn't pay enough attention to see there were three pages!  The second photo is even nicer than the first.  I disagree that the third is boring; it's just orderly.  I really like the way that the inside of the can just stays all dark and mysterious in all of the photos, with that shiny silver edge inviting you to fall right into the depths, but once the coins spilled out they are "tada!", shiny and revealed!  Like we all would be if we could get out of our "containers" that we feel so safe in.


That was the other thing - I think everyone isn't aware that PDF files are great for sending multi-page files.  I've sent several single-page files for the simple reason that I'm trying to keep the file size light, but often entire books and instruction manuals are in PDF form, so when you open one, don't forget to check for more than one page.

Subject: Re: Can of Coins.....
From: NDI  [Indonesia]
Date: Thu, 6 May 2004

I think I know what you mean... in my case, I get exasperated when my friends are chatting or telling a joke I don't understand.  I often keep badgering them till they tell me exactly what they mean....  Is that the same?

In any case, I go through some frustration if I can't understand things.  Either I keep looking for clues or I just let it be till the answers come to me.  Like today I bought a Sony-Ericsson, I always use Nokia and I used to say that I would buy no other cell phone but Nokia's 'cause I just LOVE them, but....  I was stunned when I saw the keypads and the screen on my new phone.  I had no idea what and where the icons are.  I didn't ask the seller, 'cause I'm too proud to ask, so I just kept punching the keys.  While queuing in the bank, walking from building to building, on the elevator, escalator, and even in the bus.  It's silly of me, I know, not to wait till I get home but at that time, I was sooooooo curious and frustrated too.  Finally, I figured it out.

The past couple of days, I've been trying to learn how to use Linux... well, needless to say, I spent hours in front of the computer just to figure things out.  I still couldn't use the Internet, so I had to switch to Windows again... and now I have more frustration-filled days ahead of me, so wish me luck...

BTW, did you notice how I always ramble on and on, and stray from the topic?


Re: " I often keep badgering them till they tell me exactly what they mean....  Is that the same?"

I suppose so - the same in that you have a question facing you and you don't want to shrug it off - you want to know the answer!  Yes, that's basically it.  And then "rambling and straying" from the subject at hand?  That sounds like network thinking instead of linear thinking.  Seeing the web of networks that connect the cause and effect of things is a great thing - but it makes it hard to stay on one topic.  Sticking to one topic on the other hand with linear thinking is good for getting one thing done, but dangerous in that you can blindly pursue something without seeing other possibilities.  A combination of the two would seem to be in order!

Subject: Re: NextTime...
From: SZS  [UK]
Date: Sun, 9 May 2004

[Regarding the "Can of Coins" comments.]  Trouble is with this world, there are too many people telling others what they should be doing.  If you get enjoyment out of it, do it and take no notice what others say.

Take over here, football, some say you should watch football.  Myself I wouldn't go to a football match if they gave free tickets away.  As for that Beckham, most here are sick and tired about how much he was given this week for advertising some pathetic item.

So really, instead of going on my little allotment and spending all day digging and planting vegetables, I should be watching boring football.  Not really - I do what I want to do!  Same as the walking - a chance to get away from the mad mad world.

I would say a lot of planning went into your little coin questionnaire.  Much better than feet up watching a load of overpaid football players.

If you like it, do it!


I think SZS has a point.  It was a constructive endeavor as far as working with photo-management software, whereas watching a sporting event is purely a waste of time I (also) think.  In any event, it wasn't all that time consuming anyway, and I did it on a national holiday as a sort of recreational activity....

Ah... maybe that's it?  Some people noticed that it was done mid-week, so they thought I shouldn't be doing that on a work day?  That would make some sense.

Subject: Re: Can of Coins.....
From: ADP  [US]
Date: Sat, 8 May 2004

Re: "The letters I've gotten are polarized - from people who think I'm floundering in the deep end on one hand, and people who complain that the answer that came up on pages two and three was too soon on the other!"

People who think you're floundering?  I'm not sure what their objections would be... wasting your time?  They just don't care about small unknowns?  What?  What is it?  The fact that you took some modicum of time to prepare a study?


At this point, I'm shaking my head at the amount of time and space I'm devoting to this in this letter, but there is something fascinating about the polarized responses I've received.  So polarized are they that I almost think this could pass for some kind of psychological test or something.  Give someone the test, with a positive response meaning - “Ah ha!  You are a network thinker who dreams up any number of projects, but then never finishes any one of them!” and a negative response meaning - “Ah ha!  You are a linear thinker who is great at getting any particular project you’re working on done, but you can never see the big picture!”, or something like that.

Why don't I put more of the critical comments about it in here?  Because I'm the editor - HoHo!  If I thought they belonged in here, I'd put them in... maybe... I think... maybe not... it's hard to say!     [Top of page]

"Take Route-1"     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: Riding Out the Storm....
From: KCM  [US]
Date: Fri, 14 May 2004

Some good news, for once:

I will be made a county temp before the end of the month.  While this does not mean I have the full benefits of a permanent employee, it does mean that I get paid vacation and paid holidays.  Which will come in handy, since I am taking a couple of days off at the end of the month to take a road trip with Aabbb and a couple of our friends up to Portland.  His friend Bbccc works at BigCo there, and is one of those geeks who, even though he's been living there for a year, still hasn't bought any furniture.

Oh, also, my new job title will be "Information Systems Assistant".  The receptionist advised me to take a couple of computer classes, so that I can later apply for jobs like "Information Systems Technician", which pay a lot more and have more responsibilities.

We are thinking about taking the scenic route up to Portland.  Have you ever driven up Route-1?  I hear it's beautiful.

Aabbb is still sorting out the mess with his car.  His insurance company is not being very good to him, so he got a lawyer and she's dealing with it.  He will be getting another RSX, when he does get a new car.


Route-1... a great road!  But maybe not much fun in the summer, when it's choked with people driving over-sized cars/unSUV's (let's be honest here - there is nothing "sporty" about SUV's - must we go along with dishonest advertising?) very slowly.  Mainly being a two-lane road, you can't pass much, so it becomes quite frustrating if you want to actually move at a reasonable speed.  On the other hand, if you can budget lots of time for it, and *plan* to be basically in one long traffic jam... then any traffic situation is fine if you take in the scenery, have food, water, and music in the car, etc.

"What is She Thinking?!"     [Top of page]

Subject: What do you think?
From: CBG  [US]
Date: Sat, 15 May 2004

One of my friends got married so casually I can hardly believe it.  He got his citizenship one day and then went to City Hall on the next and married his wife, then went home with her to do laundry.  They bought a big screen TV to celebrate....  I would really love to get into his wife's mind, to know what she's thinking, considering that she is the daughter of some rich Japanese businessman who abandoned her jet-set life in Tokyo to move to the middle of an LA ghetto to set up house with a poor illegal Mexican immigrant (this is not to knock my friend, who is very friendly and generous, if a bit odd) and she doesn't even have a ring yet!  I think if you're going to marry someone, there should at least be a ring.  (I'm old-fashioned like that.)  Oh yeah, they're also barely two years older than me but she looks a lot younger than even I do.  What kind of wedding gift do I give such a couple?


Re: "One of my friends got married so casually I can hardly believe it.  He got his citizenship one day and then went to City Hall on the next and married his wife, then went home with her to do laundry.  They bought a big screen TV to celebrate...."

My attitude about this is - if you have the time and money for extravagance, then why not pull out the stops and do whatever, but if you don't... why waste money on frivolous displays that you will be suffering for long afterwards as you struggle to pay for them?  It sounds about right to me - that large-screen TV will be good to sit down together in front of and watch movies on.  Which is better?  To spend the same money on a frivolous social display and then suffer at home for want of funds, or to forgo frivolous appearances and spend the money on something that will enrich the everyday quality of life?

Re: "I would really love to get into his wife's mind, to know what she's thinking, considering that she is the daughter of some rich Japanese businessman who abandoned her jet-set life in Tokyo to move to the middle of an LA ghetto...  and she doesn't even have a ring yet!"

When I first received this letter, I fired off a quick reply to CBG saying: "Ah... actually it's not strange at all!  It's perfectly logical."  But that was a bit rash of me - no matter of the heart is ever "simple" really.  Still, here's how the situation seems to me:

I don't know just how jet-set this Tokyo woman's life was before moving to LA, but - to give it a really simplistic explanation that also saves me typing time (lazy... sorry) you could sort of compare it to the "Rose" character in the Titanic movie.  There's certainly something to be said for living it up and visiting the expensive places, but that life can also be quite lacking in sincerity.  I imagine this woman from Tokyo met someone with a good heart and no pretenses, and - after having had her fill of expensive glittering nothingness, is now feeling truly rich to be with someone who just loves her and is totally out of the back-stabbing world of peak-climbers.  Her parents could well figure into the equation as well... possibly being socially proper but with invisible hearts hidden behind stainless steel armor?

And so... as is oftentimes the case, the child grows into adulthood watching her parents live a life that she can sense is out of balance somehow, and so then she ends up picking an opposite lifestyle.  I hope - for the man's sake - that this is not the case though, for swapping one extreme for anther is never a real answer, and while a temporary switch "to the other side" may feel like balancing things out, how can she stay there?  Allow me to be soppy-philosophical here... the ultimate search is for truth, and the truth is never found in extremes.  That said, there is a better chance of finding balance in walking over to the other side than simply staying on the same tracks you are put on.

Re: "Oh yeah, they're also barely two years older than me but she looks a lot younger than even I do."

Probably no women on the planet are more skilled at looking and acting "cute" than Japanese women.  Why?  I have no idea!  But believe me, it's a HUGE mistake to take that at face value!  Think of the samurai movies where the samurai swaggers around talking in a deep voice and putting on a good show... well, the women here are just as good (better?) at putting on a show.  Stupid western men have been mistaking that show for reality for about 150 years now.  Frankly speaking, it's pathetic of them, and... (ashamed to say this) I can claim no exemption myself, but if I knew what I know now when I came here in 1984, ahhhh..., things would be different now, they would!

Anyway... I wish them both luck!  People are always searching "for a heart of gold", but we're all human, so some form of disappointment awaits us all when we fall in love with another human!     [Top of page]

"E-Mail Legalese"     [Top of page]

The legal aspect of electronic text is something different people would like to see go in different directions... one sign of more nervous times is the following message, which is increasingly tacked onto the end of e-mail from company accounts:

"This message contains information which may be confidential and privileged.  Unless you are the addressee (or authorized to receive for the addressee), you may not use, copy or disclose to anyone the message or any information contained in the message. If you have received the message in error, please advise the sender by reply e-mail 123@456.com, and delete the message.  Thank you very much."

And I've added my "opt-in/opt-out" blurb to this letter.  It's... okay... I suppose, but it's also a shame to have to add in a bunch of junk text at the end of letters when most of it should basically be understood though common sense.  That it is not, is an indictment of our average level of intelligence!  The phrase "common sense" should be chanced to "common nonsense" I'm beginning to think!

"The Sandstone Rambler"     [Top of page]

Subject: Latest
From: SZS  [UK]

Looking like we may be getting another scorcher same as last year.  Potato harvest was really low last year with the lack of rain.  That was what the guy in the Chinese takeaway told me "No spuds from France" he said "or Egypt" which is were the emergency reserve comes from.  Thinking he may be about to raise the price of his chips (French fries) and this will be the excuse.

Yesterday I tested this old body to see what it can do.  The Sandstone Rambler is the small coach that picks you up and drops you off at any part of the trail.  Maximum fare is only two pounds - considering the trail is thirty-four miles long, and you can be dropped off thirty four miles away - that is real cheap.  (Subsidised by the taxpayer of course.)

I went for the Burwardsley Hill woodland drop off that would (when I arrived back at Frodsham) give me a twenty mile walk.  In case of disaster, there was always the coach returning at certain times to pick people up who had gone for small walks.

A couple I had met in Frodsham were going for a nine mile walk, dropping off at Bickerton and walking to Tarporley village.  Another couple we picked up at Delamere Forest were dropped at Beeston - they had left their car at the forest.

It was a nice route the mini coach driver took.  The times I have walked this trail and I never knew the lane alongside the Summer Tea Cafe had deer and llama in the fields, and the village was to die for.  What a beautiful village; nice pond with bench and the driver (who was a guy from my home town) pointed out his dream home.  It was a bungalow with views looking towards the Cheshire plains, which at this time of the year were as green as they will ever be.  Beeston Castle in the distance sitting proud on the top of the hill.

It was time for my exit.  Told the driver "Top of this hill, the views are out of this world".  He smiled and said "I will take your word for it".

Time to set the GPS.   Today I want to see the distance travelled and the pace.  When I led the walk from Frodsham to Beeston with the group a while back, that was seventeen miles, this was a bit further so I should be looking at about twenty miles in total.

Big hill to climb now... I am on my way... there is a nice woodpecker pecking away, calling for a mate.  Times I have walked in these woods with my family long ago.  Daft Trixie, my collie dog, who climbed on the water pumping house roof and decided to jump down.  Not very high and the banking slopes onto the roof, hence the reason she was there.  So she decides to jump down into the brambles... could she get out?  No chance!!

So it was dad's task to hack a way into the brambles, cursing as the brambles tore into my flesh - blood pouring down my legs.  Ok, I only got scratched but it did hurt.  Why is it when a dog does a stupid thing like that, five minutes later it is back again, doing the same daft thing!!

Having now reached the top, said "Good Morning" to an elderly couple who were taking in the view, stopped for a rest.  (Elderly!  I am 55 this June - what does that make me?  A youngster??)

"Have to take this fleece off.  Why did I bring it?" I ask myself - it's just more weight to carry.  Not heavy, but bulky in the bag.  Add the wet weather jacket, camera, food and litre of water in my aqua pack and there is a fair amount to carry.

Walking this trail does have its advantages when you do the big one.  Which is next Saturday!  Tomorrow!!  (I've been having trouble with the knee lately - terrible pain!)  No time to stop to take pictures today, it is head down and away we go.  The sun always brings out the masses and sure enough - here they come.

The thing that I find so annoying and really gets my back up, is when people walk past you and you say a cheery hello and they pass as though you are not there.  Some say people are too frightened to say hello - they are thinking they may be open to an attack.  I find it is usually the ones who are thinking they are so high and mighty and you are of no special interest.

Passing through Tarporley, there is a bull in a field with cows, which is allowed so long as the bull is with cows.  A bull is not allowed in a field alone if over eighteen months old.  (That is with a public footpath running through it of course.)  One eye on the bull, the other on the escape route.  I have never seen a bull charge - only in those bull fights they have in Spain....

Finally reach Delamere Forest on the day of the walk - this is the last official check point.  Then it is only seven miles to Frodsham.  Only??  If the legs, knee caps, or feet are in pain, it feels like another twenty!!

I reached seventeen miles, which I thought was twenty and I was a bit downhearted until I noticed that I was averaging three and a half miles a hour, which on my own was fine.  So if I knock down a gear or two I should be ok.  I have a couple of blisters for my troubles, which can also be put down to walking fast.

Too many days on the allotment I was in-between... should I walk or dig?  Dig won the toss - I am not really hungry for this walk this year.  This will (if I finish ok) be the fifth time I have walked it.  Last year I finished in ten hours, fifteen minutes.  This year, the issue is finishing and not the time of the finish.  33/34 miles is a long way in a day.

Yes, the sun is shining nicely... there should be a few dropping out with heat exhaustion.  I will have to send you a picture of me in my bush hat.  I look pathetic!!  But with the hair thinning out, I need that hat.

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

Last week was the Northwich Thundersprint meeting - me and brother Aabbb zoomed for a boys' day out.  Memories of the TT races came across as the bikes did a lap of the town.  The actual sprint was pathetic and if I still had my 900 Kawasaki Z1 with four into one mega pipe I am afraid I would have took home the cup no problem.

Nice MV doing the circuit.

Then the Spitfire arrived overhead - nice to hear the Merlins overhead - somebody once pegged it as the sound of freedom.  Those dark days long ago when England stood alone against the Nazi horde sweeping through Europe, and the Battle of Britain was at its height (which was on September 15th) and is remembered at all the RAF air stations here.

Next to the British pilots we had Polish, Czech, American Eagle Squadron (the US had not entered the conflict then - officially that is) New Zealanders, Australian, Irish, Free French... apologies to any I missed out.  Ask a youngster the date when the Battle of Britain was at its height - no chance.  Ask how to defeat the aliens on Play Station-2 and you are on a winner.  All war is pathetic, but some have to be fought to rid the world of evil.  WW2 was one such war.

It was nice to hear the Honda Four old memory box again - Mike Hailwood and the big Honda setting the fastest lap at the Isle of Man, which at the time was 108mph - that is to say reaching speeds of 160 plus on the straight bits.

For straight bits, draw a line between two corners and just nip the edges of the curbstone - that is a straight bit.  You have to go round the course to appreciate the skill and bravery of the TT riders.  (I think my record lap is about 25mph.)

SZS     [Top of page]

"Real Tokyo"     [Top of page]

Another photo with text I sent out was one I took in Shinjuku.  I was standing on the platform at Shinjuku Station one Sunday evening and I was suddenly overcome with the desire to take a photo - so take a photo I did.  It should have been mundane, but I liked the result, so I sent it out with the title "Real Tokyo" and with this text:

Tokyo - May 16th, 2004 - Ah, but this is an endless subject for non-locals!  "What hath become of the Japan of old?" we cry while looking in vain for kimono-clad woman small-stepping down the street.  And I find those things interesting myself, but when you say "Tokyo", the image that comes to mind is basically like this photo... which is fine.  See?  There's the young woman on the next platform... doing... something, and looking good to my male eyes, and to the right is the city-man in a white coat wondering what the foreigner is taking a photo of... and the purple night air in the background suggests adventure.  Yes... this is Tokyo!  The costumes were not the issue in any case - not before, not now, not ever.

"Re: Real Tokyo"     [Top of page]

Subject: RES: "Real Tokyo"
From: ABR  [Brazil]
Date: Mon, 17 May 2004 -0300

I totally agree with the thought in your message.  Life changes and the costumes change, people change but one thing I really like about Japan, the traditional - respect on top of it - we can't also forget our past.


Subject: Re: "Real Tokyo"
From: CLM  [US]
Date: Thu, 20 May 2004

I am only 80 years young... but I am many many years behind these modern ways....

I have never been to my parents birth place in Tokyo, but do remember the many photos and the tales that were told to me... I guess that is why I think of Japan as slow... ladies in kimonos or wearing those odd looking baggy pants, never in a hurry... and yet I do understand the great changes that are still taking place - the high-tech inventions... etc., etc.  Youngsters trying to speak English.. many speaking Engrish....

Hope all is well with you
Ja mata ne


About imagining Tokyo as slow.  Well... in some senses it still is slow actually.  One reason for the very long overtime hours that people put in is simply that a lot of overtime work drags down the speed per-minute of any worker.  You can work at top speed for a given number of hours, but when you get beyond that, your mortality kicks in and speed drops - none of us are exempt, even if we drink gallons of "genki" drinks.  (Expensive tiny bottles of liquid vitamins, etc., heavily advertised.)  It's a vicious cycle - the more overtime people work, the slower they become, and the more overtime they must work to make up for that and to meet a never ending stream of unreasonable deadlines.

As for kimonos, you very seldom see women in kimonos these days, but you often see the western dress equivalent, with moneyed women out shopping in the fashionable areas, wearing very nice clothes and - indeed - never in a hurry.

Subject: RE: "Real Tokyo"
From: APP  [Australia]
Date: Tue, 18 May 2004

Yes, well as a non local I must say that I would be looking for the kimono-clad woman in Tokyo.  I think mostly for me it is because coming from down under, Australia - a very young country in comparison, tradition and architecture is very interesting to us.

Now, a little of what has been going on with me.  January this year, I discovered a lump on the inner right leg near my knee.  I won't go into all the details as it would take too long, but after more lumps, several doctors and tests, a biopsy - plus, I was finally diagnosed just two weeks ago with sarcoidosis.  Not much is known about this disease (noncontagious) and I am trying to find out more about it.  All I know is that it is a disease due to inflammation of lymph nodes usually in the lungs; which is where mine is.  The lumps were a symptom, not the cause so it took four months to find the cause - sarcoid or sarcoidosis.  From the internet I have found several websites, support groups etc., which was enough for me to realize that I am one lucky person to have such a mild case.  From what I have read, there are some horrific stories as to how terrible this disease is to some.  I was wondering if anyone out there in LL-Land has any knowledge of this disease.  It was very scary there for a while as it was also thought I might have Lymphoma (cancer) so I am very grateful I don't have that.  I go about my life pretty much as usual.  I just get tired in the afternoon and sometimes get a tightness in my chest.  My right arm still aches but the lumps are going away.  I believe it could take a year or two before it goes away.  There is no known cure and I just have to wait it out.

I will have another CT Scan in three months to see what is happening.  Going into our winter now is not helping, even though our winters are very mild.  Well, hope all is well on your end.

APP     [Top of page]

"On the Brink"     [Top of page]

June 2nd, 2004 - and I have been the least employed I have ever been since I was sixteen and began working.  I'm now contemplating the possibility of not having a place to live if I don't obtain more... um... money... soon.  Standing on the precipice with no idea if/how I will live.  It's no one's responsibility but my own, but I should record that if I drop off the wires, this is why:  I am beginning to wonder if I'm capable of living in this world.  No, that's not a suicidal statement, it's the words of a man standing on the brink of disaster.  What's next?  Heading into the mountains and swinging around in the trees with the monkeys?  I could last a few months maybe... before starvation or the elements sent me on my way.  And people wonder why the suicide rate in Japan is high?  How could it not be so?  A man is only worth money, so when he is not of use to companies any longer, is it so strange that he takes his life - and thus provides a final parting gift of insurance money to his children.  Again - I'm not going to commit suicide, but I don't find it strange that many people do kill themselves.  We all die sooner or later in any event - so is it better to die a wild thing roaming the mountains alone and away from society or to exit quickly?  On that cheery "standing on the brink of disaster" note, on to the next item!

"Good-bye MicroMuck!"     [Top of page]

A friend brought by his computer and I exorcised the MicroMuck demon from it and put in SuSE Linux.  He took it home, plugged it in, and....

Subject: Success!
From: ZCJ  [Austrailia]
Date: Wed, 19 May 2004 01:08

Just got back!  Booted up and: Walla!  Success!  To think that the tech support person told me that changing the OS wouldn't work!  Thanks very much for exorcising the MM demon from my machine.  We need to celebrate this, so just let me know when you are free & we can meet up preferably at the end of the week.  I can pay for your train fare.

Ok, I better get some shut-eye now.  This system is even better than the MicroMuck OS....



"May 14th, 2004"     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: "Undefended Ramparts & A Ship Museum"
From: LNX  [US]
Date: Fri, 14 May 2004

[In response to news of a perfect weather day in Tokyo...] - It is amazing that 4985 miles (8022 km) or 4332 nautical miles away the same thing has taken place.  The wind rustles lightly through the trees causing the leaves to wave invitingly.  Here in the city I live in (Spokane, WA) there are large concrete buildings that encroach upon this wonder called spring, but it is only a short drive to escape it for me.  Every chance I can, I run to the places where concrete rules not.  It is better to pull the ramparts down and accept the Bad with the Good because we must accept all that life is willing to give us.  Hiding behind a thorny weave to keep all out only leads to loneliness of the heart.

Even the Bad has a place; to challenge us and sometimes bring about something better.  Spring time reminds me that every thing is reborn and there is a fresh start.  Often I just sit and listen to the noises of nature too the north while sill aware of the Monster to the south (the city is just south of my house).  So enjoy all that you can especially now because the freshness of spring is but a fleeting thing and soon the darkness of winter will be upon us once again.


"EU-Japan Friendship Day"     [Top of page]

(Again - putting a previous message of mine in as reference to comments following it.)

May 15th, 2004
EU-Japan Friendship Day

A friend of mine whose son attends Tokyo Metropolitan Kokusai High School invited me to come along to "Europe Day" - one of the many events taking place throughout Japan during EU-Japan Friendship Week.  The event itself was held at the Lycee Franco-Japonais school, with - in addition to students from Kokusai High School - students from British School and Deutsche Schule also participating.

I went there in a cloud of dark pondering about the constant stream of bad news I've been seeing - the insanity of war, the cancellation of support for the Hubble telescope, economic woes, etc., and found myself in a setting of optimism and friendship between nations.  I've been hearing from my friends in Europe on and off about the EU, with them detailing the debates of new members for and against joining, but with most people deciding the benefits of joining are worth the effort.  Commentary in the news on this issue mentions the problems to be overcome, and no doubt that's true, but the optimism I've perceived from my distant friends and the warm optimism and friendliness I experienced at the "Europe Day" event suddenly seem to me like a warm spring day after a long and bitter winter, and so I say:

Here's to friendship and cooperation between all nations and all people.

"Re: EU-Japan Friendship Day"     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: EU-Japan Friendship Day
From: BRC  [US]
Date: Thu, 20 May 2004

Thank you for sharing this with me, this looks like a worthwhile event and maybe something that the US should consider with some of our neighbors.  However I think that the US is made up of so many different nationalities and ethnic groups, that we may have it already and just not realize it....


Subject: RE: EU-Japan Friendship Day
From: ADP  [US]
Date: Thu, 20 May 2004

It's nice to finally come out of the dark cloud of pessimism.  I'm getting better at staying out from underneath it, but in order to do so I have to limit my access to the news and other sources of negative information.  It's not that I try to stick my head in the sand, it's just that I try to only expose myself to more neutral information sources.  I do this because I read a paper from mental health professionals who said it is overwhelming for many people and you can't possibly effect positive change for most of the situations in the news anyway.  People sensitive to such bombastic reporting should try to limit their exposure by "checking in" periodically on stories and then trying to work on reforms that will affect change that can be measured.  In other words, save your energy for the fights you can win.  Aabbb and I put a lot of energy and money into animal welfare organizations and immediately on taking in these little fuzzy refugees.

My in-laws seem to spend all their time arguing with one another and with their spouses, and it's easily within their own power to stop the cycle at any time if they would choose to do so.  I just can't believe that they are choosing to live their lives that way, wasting precious days.  Not many adults would even think of getting into an "uh-huh, nu-uh" argument with a five year old.  It's a waste of time and completely unwinnable, yet they just can't stop themselves when someone throws down the gauntlet at a family occasion....  Don't play their game; if they incite, you ignore them - they're just attempting to exercise a power that you give them to manipulate your life.  Sorry, but that's what I would say to them if they would listen.  They never seem to see the futility of the cycle.


"Thanks, but No Thanks - May 2004"     [Top of page]

I'll try to keep this shorter than I have before, just quoting bits and pieces of a handful of rejection letters I've received and adding some short comments:

"Dear everybody who applied to our job posting at GaijinPot Job 4682,"

There is no longer even the slightest pretense that individuals are being dealt with... "Dear everybody" it says....

"We have received numerous numbers of application over the weekend and we are now in stage reviewing each application carefully."

They have received "numerous numbers of application"??  Hmm.....

"After much consideration and internal discussion, we regret to inform you that we have decided not to proceed to the interview process with you at this stage. Unfortunately, we do not have a suitable position available."

"Please let us know if your situation changes. Also, please feel free to introduce us to anyone who may be interested in our company."

This from an employment agency - ever eager to expand their pool of potential labor to pull from (exploit?).

"We hope you are successful in finding employment soon."

Not as much as I am....

"We wish you success in your search for enhanced professional opportunity."

That "enhanced professional opportunity" sounds nice - or even just a plain ordinary wage-paying position would be nice.

"Thank you once again for expressing interest in BigCo Corporation. We wish you success in all your future endeavors."

Thanks - me too.

"We regrettably inform you that we cannot give you an opportunity for an interview.  Since there are a huge number of applications...."

"We are currently holding interviews.  If you haven't heard from us by the end of this week, unfortunately your resume has not been successful in going through to the first stage."

"We wish you the best of luck in your future career endeavors."

More like "current career" I think?  If some money doesn't come in soon, there will be no future.

"After careful consideration, we offered the position to a different person."

This next (and last) quote is strange - as it's a forward of a forward!  Mind you, I received it exactly in the format below - how/why they sent it this way is a puzzle.

>> Dear Applicant,
>> Thank you for applying to the "Marketing Staff" job
>> position advertised on the Japan Times.
>> Regret, however, that we can not give you a favorable
>> answer. We received so many applications but had to
>> choose the only one person for the position.
>> We will keep your name in our file, and will definitely
>> contact you when our next needs would arise in the near future.     [Top of page]

"Men & Machines"     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: Okay/NeedALittleTime...
From: KCM  [US]
Date: Wed, 19 May 2004

I am rereading some old letters and this quote came up from you:  "Like they say - 'The difference between men and boys - is the price of their toys'..."

I laughed because it's so true!  Anyway, Aabbb completed an offer on the Acura RSX he wanted, at the price he asked for (pretty close to invoice).  I don't get car sales.  I hate the whole process.  But I'm glad he will have a car soon and now, with the addition of the camera I got him - a Pentax Optio S4i (one of his friends has an older version and recommended it), he will be drowning in toys.

It will soon be my turn to shop for a car.  I am not looking forward to it.  Three things the car must have:  1) gas efficiency  2) power  3) Japanese/looks I prefer Japanese cars because American cars look cheap and they guzzle gas like crazy.  The Japanese cars also feel more solid, somehow.  I'm going to try to avoid getting a Civic though, because everyone and their brother has one around here.


"Will Having a Site Help?"     [Top of page]

I'm going to invest some time in trying to get my own site up and functioning.  It's something I've put a bit of time here, and a byte of time there (hoho) into, but it takes on added urgency now.  I continue to pour resumes into the wires, but I think I and corporations are of no use to each other any longer, so if I am to survive, I have got to market directly.  What's to become of me otherwise?

Best case scenario:  Money coming in for books, photography, and writing, happy sunsets setting on a world of things going right for a change.

Worst case scenario:  Cast out on into the elements, I head into the mountains to let the elements claim me - and return as a passionate ghost to help those I love and pay back my enemies....

Just joking I suppose, but times are desperate.  Whatever happens, this exchange of letters over the years has been of incalculable value to me.  Thank you for reading, writing, and thinking.  What else can we do really, but to live as we think we must?

.... Ah!  Actually, I do have some news to be upbeat about!  Check out the next couple of items:

"Caravan On-line Bookshop"     [Top of page]

The Caravan bookstore in Ikebukuro ( http://www.booksatcaravan.com/ ) has "The LL-Letters" book (containing LL-250 through LL-258) on the shelf and also available for on-line ordering.

(From Caravan's website):
Caravan Used English Books - Used English bookshop & cafe in Tokyo

Thousands of affordable quality used books for sale in a wide variety of categories. Worldwide book searches carried out, gift vouchers, poetry readings and rental spaces at very reasonable rates. Drop by sometime and relax in our totally concrete-free environment. Just how book shops should be. Have a cup of coffee or a light snack as you browse through our wide selection in Tokyo's nicest bookshop.  Sign up for our free newsletter with suggested readings, news about lectures and what's new in the book world.

Just how a bookshop should be!

Caravan Online Bookshop

Buy your used English books from the first online bookshop in Tokyo

At last, you can get your own online second hand books. Clear instructions, easy payment methods, speedy delivery service, all with a big old cyber smile. Check it out. We've started off with the most popular categories, but as you click away, you can rest assured that we're working hard to bring you the first, completely online, concrete-free used English bookshop in Ikebukuro.

Just how an online bookshop should be!

"The Blue Parrot - English Books"     [Top of page]

The "The LL-Letters" book is also stocked at "The Blue Parrot" ( http://www.blueparrottokyo.com ), which is located in Takadanobaba just one minute from the station.  The shop has a good stock of used books (and some new), and also has CDs, DVDs, back issues of National Geographic, etc., and Internet access.

(From The Blue Parrot's website):
We've Moved!  That's right - we've relocated to new premises four times the previous shop's size. We also have Internet access and comfy seating.  The new location is only 1 minute from Takadanobaba Station (two stops from Shinjuku on the Yamanote line).  Takadanobaba is a vibrant youthful neighborhood with lots of cafes and restaurants.  Please send us a blank e-mail (no message necessary) if you would like to be put on our mailing list and receive our monthly newsletter with news and coupons.

We also buy and trade books.  Feel free to stop by 7 days a week to have your books evaluated.  If ever you have questions or suggestions, please drop us a line.

Shop hours are 11:00 am to 9:30 pm, 7 days a week. If you happen to be walking down Waseda-dori, make sure to check out our 100-yen book bin, located in front of our building.

"Bondi Books - Kichijoji"     [Top of page]

As mentioned in here previously, Bondi Books ( http://www.bondibooks.com/ ) is the first retail store to carry "The LL-Letters" book.  The store is in youthful Kichijoji (there are a few spots in Tokyo that fit that bill - on the Chuo Line, Kichijoji is supreme).  Bondi Books has good connections in Australia and often carries books from Australia that you aren't likely to find elsewhere.  And… and this is of potential interest to everyone on the LL-Letters list - the owner of Bondi is quite a networker, as evidenced by the large number of links to other interesting sites on Japan, and also to a large number of Japan blogs.  If you're interested in non-mainstream contemporary Japan, this is a good place to look!

So much for LL-326 - hopefully in LL-327, I’ll be able to announce a new website.

Sore dewa!

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon   Images Through Glass
LLLetters@yahoo.com   Nishi-Shinjuku, Tokyo
June 2nd, 2004   (LxL-WnIH/LL326)
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