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July 16th, 2004

"Making Too Much Money?"
"Eating Out"  by KCM
"1959 & 2004 Japan"
"Interpreting is..."  by CPK & LHS
"'Position Wanted'?"
"Go Linux!!"  by MFE & LHS
"What Who Why..."  by GFA & LHS
"Money Over Content?"  by SZS & LHS
"E-Mail From Prime Minister Koizumi"
"Bored at Work"  by KCM & LHS
"Sao Paulo & Tokyo... Mega-City Life"  by GKR & LHS
"Higher Tolls"  by KCM
"Hey Hollywood!  Cut it Out Already!"
"Vastly Experienced?"
"Still There?"  by TJE & LHS
"Scam E-Mail, July 2004"
"Graduated & Waiting for Summer in Germany"  by EWT
"Back in Ebisu"
"Getting Corporate Sponsorship"

"Making Too Much Money?"    
[Top of page]

(2004/07/16 16:24)  I started teaching a new once-a-week business English class in Shinagawa last night.  Nice new building, energetic and motivated students, only four of them (great number - more than that and the ability to help them to speak better English decreases), and... the lowest pay I've ever received in two decades of teaching business English classes (with a four-year break in there while I waged office warfare in the deep dark jungles of florescent-blasted offices).  Y3,700 an hour.  It's a joke when you actually have bills to pay.  Great job if you didn't have any living expenses though, or a great job if that Y3,700 an hour was for something more than just two hours a week.  Also a better job if the commute to the job took a bit less than the two+ hours it takes to get there and back.  Two hours suffering for free in the sardine trains, and two hours of a decent job.  And then there are all the reports to be written in my free time.  There are a number of worse things I could be looking down at, but there is so much to look up at that I end up not writing about what a happy-happy-happy person I am for having that job.  Well, hold on, here's some warm, fuzzy, good text for you.

I remembered last night some aspects to being an instructor that are quite nice.  You are in a room with a small group of people who have come to learn something from you.  You are the undisputed expert in the subject you are teaching, and so there isn't generally (some notable exceptions here!) any competition with you for the subject you are teaching.  Also, since you are a once-a-week visitor to a world in which you are not a part in any shape or form, there is no problem with office politics - why go to the trouble of wasting perfectly good poison darts on people who are not part of your jungle?  And... (I creep towards this next aspect in fear for my sparkling image), there is a factor of my fun at the Jungle Warfare PR agency that comes back to me.  It occurred to me in 2000, when I began working at JW-PR, and again last night, when I resumed teaching a business English course, that the situation of being an instructor leads you to get used to being treated politely and being able to walk about in offices without having to worry about jungle warfare fighters spitting poison darts at your back as they swing from the ceiling.  You get used to this, and then when you begin working an all-day, five (or six) day a week job... you at first are positively shocked at the barbarity and horrible behavior of people... until you remember that there is nowhere on this planet with more savage, dirty jungle warfare fighting than the squeaky-clean offices of industrialized countries.  You might get grease on your hands if you work on an assembly line, but if you want real dirt, go to an office - you'll be in the muck dodging poison darts all day long!

So, happy me, right?  Well... not if I can't make enough money to pay the rent and eat!  It's kind of funny too... as is mentioned in the contract I put in LL-326 ("Anthropology via Contracts"), I'm expected to look like Mr. Spiffy Businessman.  It's a good thing there are cheap Chinese clothes available, or I would be very hard pressed to choose buying costumes instead of eating.  From the student's perspective: "Look up there - at the front of the room - Mr. Spiffy Businessman teacher - making too much money - lucky bugger!"  If they only knew how desperately poor I am!  The intermediary company is probably taking 75% of the money the client is paying....

"Eating Out"     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: HowGoesTheBattle?
From: KCM  [US]
Date: Thu, 1 Jul 2004

The office stuff is getting better.  Luckily I have coworkers who back me up.  As it turns out, the mistakes were not my fault, and we ended up having a meeting where we clarified what procedures were what and people can see what I'm doing.  I am also in the process of fixing their filing system and it's bringing out the OCD tendencies in me.  Which is good, since it takes up TIME and I guess I'm just killing time.

The main problem I have these days is boredom.  I bring my CDs to work to listen to them on the computer, and sometimes that helps, although oftentimes I'm just stuck pretending I'm being super-busy when I'm not.  Maybe I just need to work more slowly.

This weekend I will be attending the anime convention in Anaheim, and hopefully seeing some old friends.  I haven't watched any new anime in a few years - I think I grew tired of the predictable plots, although the classics I can watch over and over again.  Give me anything by Miyazaki any day, over anything else.

Movies - "Fahrenheit 9/11" came out and is being touted as the "Passion" for liberals.  It's currently number one, and I will probably see it eventually, but it is sold out around here.  "Better Luck Tomorrow" was a bigger deal for me, since it involved people who looked like me in a major American film feature not being evil, inhuman or inscrutable!

Oh, I have to tell you about how we took our dad out to dinner.  It's hilarious, if only because my family has no concept of how to behave in nice, upscale American restaurants.  My sisters decided that we should treat our father to a nice steak or something, since he's always cooking for us and we wanted to show our appreciation.  I attempted to make reservations at House of Prime Rib, only to be told, "We're booked until ten" (Ten is when they close, thank you and goodbye).  So I made reservations at Kincaid's, a steakhouse and seafood restaurant in Jack London for six at 7:30 p.m.

Here's the main problem: my family is incredibly picky.  My mom hardly likes anything except Chinese food, the two sisters don't eat any type of beef and few fish are to their liking.  One sister usually orders her food without herbs because apparently she thinks that thyme, basil, rosemary, parsley, etc. all stink.  She picks the onions off her food.

We arrive there about 15 minutes earlier than our reservations and my parents want to be seated immediately, even though the restaurant is extremely busy.  At 7:30 we ask the maitre d' again, and we're told there's nothing yet, but he's going to try to get us a table by the window.  Ten minutes later my dad is grumbling and when we ask him why he's so cranky, he says he didn't eat anything all day.  No explanation for why he didn't.  My sisters are starting to complain, loudly, about not being seated yet, and Aabbb and I are trying to make the point that it's busy, and just because you made reservations for 7:30 does not mean you will be seated immediately.  They don't listen though, and five minutes later, we are seated, not by the window, though, but with a complimentary appetizer.

My dad orders a New York steak and complains the meat isn't nice enough or cooked the way he likes it.  Oh, also, my picky sister doesn't like drinking restaurant water, so she usually orders hot water.  She claims that she can taste the tap or whatever in it.  My mom hates cold water, so she orders hot water as well.  The picky sister doesn't eat salmon or tuna.  She asks if there's pasta, as if this were some chain restaurant or something.  She eventually orders halibut, and we order chicken for my mom.

I had a peppercorn steak, which was pretty good.  Aabbb had a New York steak, and for some reason his was cooked more than mine, even though we both ordered it medium rare.  Oh well.

Looking back, I say we should have gone for Chinese.  I was feeling so sorry for our poor waiter, who not only had to deal with bizarre requests, but also had the challenge of feeding people who couldn't speak English at all.  I can forgive my parents for not knowing how to behave in an American setting, but I think my sisters, who have had the benefit of an education and knowledge of the language, should have picked up some hints about manners.

KCM      [Top of page]

"1959 & 2004 Japan"     [Top of page]

I recently became the proud owner of a new used book:

All the Best in Japan
with Manila, Hong Kong and Macao
With Illustrations and Maps
by Sydney Clark

Sidgwick and Jackson Limited

- which makes for entertaining reading and reminds me of how radically Japan has changed since 1959.  Let's have a look at a few paragraphs from the book:

"For your mail address in Japan, I think the simplest thing is to pick out some leading hotel in Tokyo and have everything sent there.  The hotel, if my experience is a fair sample, will follow your forwarding instructions with meticulous care.  Two other simple addresses are, of course, the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo and the American Express Company, whose Tokyo office is in the Marunouchi Building opposite the Central Railway Station, but whose easy address is Box 115, Central Post Office."

Personal e-mail was nothing but a wild flight of the imagination for science fiction in 1959.  Try sending paper mail to the American Embassy today!  They would probably call you in for interrogation to explain what the meaning of it is!  Also, the term "the Central Railway Station" - which has got to be referring to Tokyo Station - sounds quite odd in 2004 Tokyo.  There are a number of main stations, but no one ever says "the Central Railway Station" now.  For sheer numbers, Shinjuku tops Tokyo Station, and there are several other major stations - Shinagawa, Shibuya, Ueno, Ikebukuro, etc.  Certainly, with the Shinkansen super-express trains and historical architecture, Tokyo Station has far more atmosphere to it than the other stations (with the partial exception of Ueno Station).  Tokyo Station actually looks like a train station, while stations like Shinjuku are mostly invisible among the department stores and office buildings built over and around them.  The only indication that there's a station there from the distance is the sound of trains slowing down as they approach the station and large numbers of people purposely going into and out of what looks like (indeed, often *is*) an entrance to a department store or office building.

"Money is always a subject of prime and axiomatic interest to travelers, but in Japan it is not a thorny subject, for the Japanese yen is fixed at 360 to the dollar and everywhere, in shops and travel offices, you find conversion cards that quickly translate any sum of yen into dollars and vice versa.  U.S. currency and travelers checks can be exchanged in many leading hotels, including the Imperial.  Paper bills are now in denominations of 100 yen and 1000 yen, but it is probable that bills of 10,000 yen will soon be printed.  Subsidiary coins are of 50 yen (silver-ish), 10 yen (copper), 5 yen (brass) and 1 yen (aluminum), the latter being suitable only as playthings for children."

360 yen to the dollar!  It's something like 120 now - giving the dollar here a third as much buying power, and - coming from Japan - people with yen are using money with three times the buying power it had before.  When I came to Japan in 1984, they still had paper 500-yen bills, but those have been phased out and the smallest bill is 1,000, followed by 5,000 and 10,000.  Come to think of it - there are only three types of bills here - compared to six in the US.  The buying power of the dollar is such that the US probably ought to scrap the one and five dollar bills and just start paper money from ten dollars.

"The primary interest in Tokyo, quite unlike Kyoto and Nara and quite unlike large European capitals, lies in what the city is, not in what it was in times past.  As a city of the past it has relatively little color.  As a city of today, immense, ambitious, throbbing with life, seething with new ideas, replete with fascinating things to do, to eat, to watch, to experience, it has few equals in the world."

Ah... and here we have something that has not changed in Tokyo!  This is as good an explanation of what Tokyo is now in 2004 as it was in 1959.  The city is - to put it simply - an interesting place to be.

"Tokyo has one undress theater, small but very gay and uninhabited, that attracts tourists in droves, like an Oriental Folies Bergere, namely the Nichigeki Music Hall, which is located on the 5th floor (elevator) of that circular building on Z that houses the big Nichigeki Theater, the raucous Albion Coffee Shop and a movie house.  The Music Hall is open throughout the year, presenting three shows on weekdays, four on Sundays, and there is rarely a vacant seat.  The best seats may be reserved, but the rest may be scrambled for, as in our movie houses, and you may come when you like and stay as long as you like, one show following another.  At every show tourists take flashlight shots of the more beautiful and bizarre scenes and bulbs flash like mammoth fireflies."

Absolutely and completely different in details, technology, vocabulary, and foreign money buying power.  I saw a radical change myself - not from Y360 to the dollar, but from Y245, from which it climbed to a peak strength of around Y85, which changed everything, particularly the entertainment industry.  Foreigners, practically overnight, went from being cash-cows to moneyless penny-pinchers.  Now that a prolonged strong yen has resulted in a lot of things being much cheaper to buy, money goes a little further than it did, but the big ticket items - rent, electricity, gas, water, etc. are pretty much as expensive as ever, although at one point utility prices dropped a tiny bit, but it was more token than real.     [Top of page]

"Interpreting is..."     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: PDF Files
From: CPK  [US]
Date: Thu, 1 Jul 2004  -0500

Thank you for drawing my attention back to your Web site.  I get so busy with my own affairs, I forget to take time to enjoy browsing in your world.  It's like going to the museum without having to leave my house.  I see you have added much since I last looked.

Well, I'd better get outside and jog before it's too hot.  I'll be back to view the rest of the photos.  I've only made it as far as "Sky Sushi", starting from the upper left - speaking of which....

Do you often get called to interpret?  I'd think that would be an enjoyable job.  Do you ever have trouble suppressing the urge to laugh at what they are saying or how they say it?  Do you ever edit their dialog unbeknownst to them?  I suppose it wouldn't be considered editing when you have to convert one culture's expressions into another's understanding.  I wonder how long it takes your brain to convert "green pepper" to "airhead".


I've done interpreting on and off, but never steadily.  The interpreting I wrote about in "Sky Sushi" was the best of all the interpreting jobs I've done.  It was only for two people (excluding myself) and the vocabulary was not overly specialized or difficult, so it was quite fun going around town with them looking at the different clothing stores.

The worst interpreting job I had was a rush job I was only given 36 hours to prepare for, consisting of highly specialized vocabulary at an automotive parts factory for a large group of locals and a group of about five men from Europe.  Given enough time, I could have done enough studying to get better prepared, but 36 hours is not enough to learn all the names of specialized machine parts!  A man would pick up a mysterious part from the depths of a machine, rattle off some technical stuff, and there was no way to fudge it - you either new the name of the part and what it was for, or you didn't.  "That part in his hand seems to be important" wouldn't cut it.

For all of that, it would have worked out - rough around the edges - IF one of the locals from the factory wasn't quite fluent in English and completely knowledgeable about the factory and it's products from top to bottom.  In any group of verbally communicating bipeds, communication duties naturally fall to the best able to communicate, and so for several chunks of that very long day, that man ended up doing the interpreting.  I lost face and the company that sent me didn't send me on any other technical jobs like that.  Probably their other interpreters were smart enough to refuse that assignment when they saw how technical it was, which is why it came to me with such short notice!

Re: "Do you ever have trouble suppressing the urge to laugh at what they are saying or how they say it?  Do you ever edit their dialog unbeknownst to them?"

No and yes.  I'm a stickler for being as accurate as I can, but Japanese and English are so radically different, that it is impossible to perfectly translate things between them.  If you translate directly in a literal word-for-word kind of way, you will end up conveying something completely different from the original!  So, yes, you have to interpret a bit and always remind yourself not to get carried away, as many interpreters do, and start over-editing the words you've been entrusted with.

Re: "I wonder how long it takes your brain to convert 'green pepper' to 'airhead'."

Not long.  The vocabulary that you know... you know.  It's like if someone asks you what a "flat" in London is, you just immediately say "It's another word for 'apartment'".  It's no big deal.  It's not as though you need a new section of your brain to deal with it - it's just a sort of expanded vocabulary.     [Top of page]

"'Position Wanted'?"     [Top of page]

(2004/07/20 14:40)  The Japan Times "Times Classified Ads" today has no fewer than five people advertising in the paper's "Position Wanted" section, which is just in front of the "Help Wanted" ads.  So that's what things are coming to!  To even look for work, you'll have to shell out about $100 for an advertisement for yourself!?  Hmmmm......

"Go Linux!!"     [Top of page]

In writing to an e-pal from Finland, I couldn't resist asking about Linux - my favorite computer operating system (OS):

Dear MFE,

..... Speaking of Finland, Linus Torvalds is from there, isn't he?  He's one of my heroes!  I am extremely happy to be able to escape MicroMuck with my Internet computer!  In fact I'm using Linux to write this letter.  Is Linus Torvalds very famous in Finland?


Subject: Re: Vs: LL-Website Announcement
From: MFE  [Finland]
Date: Fri, 2 Jul 2004  +0300 (EEST)

Yes, Linus Torvalds comes from Finland.  He was a young university student when he created this open system which has now become very popular worldwide.  I have many friends in Finland who are Linux experts and I also use Linux every now and then.  Actually a colleague of mine is a very active member of a Linux association here in Finland and another college of mine is involved in Linux overseas.


"What Who Why..."     [Top of page]

Subject: RE: AboutTheWebsite
From: GFA  [Malaysia]
Date: Fri, 2 Jul 2004

Hi there............

Tell me more about yourself.  What & who drive you to stay in Tokyo & write so much about Tokyo?


I came to Tokyo when I was 24, without ties, and fit for irresponsible adventure.  The older you get, the more financial backing is necessary to pull that sort of thing off.  Allow me a ship analogy to explain.  If you are on a ship in stormy seas, you - all other things being equal - have a better chance of swimming long distance to safety if you're 24 than if you're 44.  The body is stronger, the mind is more adventuresome, and the gods seem to allow some luck for foolish young exploits.  In 1984, it was a more relevant question why I came to Tokyo, but now that I've lived here for two decades, I may as well ask you why you live wherever it is you live.  I like to write, I live in Tokyo, and so I write about Tokyo.  If I lived in Osaka, I'd be writing about Osaka - if I lived in London, I'd be writing about London.  Actually, that's the core purpose of this group!  For people to write about life where they are, and then we all get some idea of at least some aspects of life in foreign countries....

So... how is life in Malaysia?  I would love to hear how things are for you GFA.  Remember, what is mundane where you live is exotic for people in other countries!  We'd love to hear more about Malaysia!

"Money Over Content?"     [Top of page]

I'm not entirely sure I should put this in... but it's a frustration from the male point of view and certainly a part of our times.  I wonder if there will be many comments regarding on-line dating.  It's something I've never done, other than to meet a couple of people informally in person after exchanging e-mail for a while.  The one that sticks in my mind is a local woman I met at Shinjuku Station.  I was lucky enough to spot her before she spotted me (I called and saw her answer her phone), and the first reaction was like this (her reaction is my reading of the change of her facial expression):

Me - (Disappointed) "Ah... she doesn't look interesting or attractive..."

Her - (Disappointed) "Ah... he doesn't look young or interesting."

(Am I vain, or what?  I couldn't write that she thought I was ugly... no... not that!)

I previously wrote about that meeting, so there's no point in rehashing it here.  On to the focal point of this article!:

Subject: Re: Paint
From: SZS  [New Zealand]
Date: Sat, 3 Jul 2004

There are good women in the world but these days they want to know what your salary is before they know what you are!!  We are living in a material world for sure.

I put an advert on Yahoo.  "Landscape contractor just returned from New Zealand, next trip is Canada."  My mailbox was full!

If I put:  "On invalidity benefit and do odd jobs in gardens using my small car to carry lawn mower and tools."  Do you think I would get the same response?  Of course I would!!  I also believe in Santa Claus.

I have women say to me that it doesn't matter if you have an old car and no work, so I say to them "Ok, would you like to go out tonight then?"  They then shut up.


The expression that you either have to laugh or to cry comes to mind.  Right now, sitting here in front of my computer typing away, I am laughing.  SZS - I'm not making fun of you at all - it's just that the way you put it is really funny!  We've got to meet up sometime for that pint!     [Top of page]

"E-Mail From Prime Minister Koizumi"     [Top of page]

There's an e-mail newsletter that you can subscribe to that covers news sent out from the office of the "Koizumi Cabinet".  What's notable about this newsletter is that there is not only a Japanese version, but also an English version, and the English version is in real English!  I'm not being sarcastic here or poking fun at anyone, but just noting that translations of Japanese have been generally bad for so long that it seems striking that this Koizumi newsletter has been translated well.  Here's an excerpt from the newsletter dated July 8th, 2004:

Koizumi Cabinet E-mail Magazine No. 147 (July 8, 2004)

....... During the deliberation of the bills on pension reform, the three parties - [the] Liberal Democratic Party, New Komeito and [the] Democratic Party of Japan - agreed to engage in consultations on advancing a comprehensive review of the entire social security system, including the issue of unifying the pension plans.

At the same time, those from economic and labor circles requested that the government advance a comprehensive review in such a way as to enable their participation in the process. The government responded to this by announcing on July 6 the members of its "Committee on Social Security Review," including representatives of economic and labor circles. Discussions are scheduled to start as early as this month.

Seriously taking on board the criticisms leveled by the people of Japan, we will immediately address such issues as the reform of the Social Insurance Agency and to initiate discussions on various issues including that of the unification of the pension plans.

Tomorrow, Mrs. Hitomi Soga will be reunited with her husband Mr. Charles Jenkins and their two daughters in Jakarta, Indonesia.

The government has been working to reunite the family at the earliest possible date. Giving full consideration to the wishes of Mrs. Soga, we will continue to seek ways for the family to be able to live together in Japan.

In June we saw an unusually high number of typhoons develop, two of which actually made landfall on Japan. Going into July, we seem to have a brief respite from the rainy season with these scorching hot days.

The economy is steadily recovering as we are finally seeing the fruits of the belt-tightening efforts of private corporations to emerge from darker times. Positive signs are now spreading to small- and medium-sized enterprises and the regions of Japan.


And there is some more.  Actually, in reading the entire newsletter (I'd only glanced at parts of it before), I see that there are some spots where the translation is a bit on the direct side, but I haven't (yet) spotting anything really sloppy - like the horrible stuff that the PR agency I worked out used to produce (and I fought to fix, making me a bad guy for trying to save the company from making a fool of itself....

"Bored at Work"     [Top of page]

From: KCM  [US]
Date: Thu, 8 Jul 2004
Subject: hi!

I am soooo bored at work right now.  I think I've been making my coworker feel bad, because I've been doing my work so fast.  She's already left for the day (she changed her hours so she could spend more time with her kids) so I am taking some time to slow down.  She's nice, and likes me, but she's not very quick, and it takes her longer to understand some things.  It's a weird feeling for me, knowing that I am surrounded by all these people that I am smarter and quicker than, even though these people are my superiors and they're all a lot older.

There is one person who's smart and quick, and she's also a sweetheart.  She calls me her "other daughter."

I need a new job, anyway.  So do you think cold letters work?  Like sending out resumes even though there aren't any positions that are listed as open?  There are a few places I would kill to work at, and they're at magazines in the Bay Area.  I wish I could find a way to spiff up my cover letters.  They always sound so stiff and formal, and what I'm really dying to say is, "HIRE ME. You won't regret it!" *sigh*

Another *sigh* for the car that is not bought yet.  I had my heart set on either an Integra or an Accord, but both those cars are a bit more than I thought they would be.  Mark promised to take me to a used car lot when he returned, and we'll see.  I'm going to hate it so much if I have to get a Toyota.  I'm just being shallow, but Toyotas are not cool.  They're safe, reliable, and boring, and they skimp on horsepower.  I never thought I would be the kind of person who cared about horsepower, but apparently I do, and it's because I've been driving my sister's Rav4.  It's an SUV with apparently no power; I have to slam on the gas to drive it up even a slight hill.

I have not been reading your blog, until I remembered a couple of minutes ago!  That's a lot of entries you have up now.  I will probably finish reading the rest at home.


An old boss of mine told me that "Half of the job is showing up", and I don't even think he was joking... not much anyway.  A lot of people put all their effort into not making mistakes, and don't see the overall picture or care in the least if they are actually a constructive member of the company - if their boss is happy with the *appearance* of them sitting at a desk looking busy, then that's enough.  It makes sense in a way, but what a boring way to live!

About the "blog-L" page at the site - I've been using it in a sloppy way - basically just mentioning stuff related to the creation and maintenance of the site.  When I upload new material I try to introduce it in the blog, but otherwise, most of my more creative efforts are spent on the LL-Letters and the photos.  All of which is to say that I wouldn't worry about the blog too much; the text there isn't very interesting I don't think.  I probably should start using it in a slightly different way.     [Top of page]

"Sao Paulo & Tokyo... Mega-City Life"     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: LL-327
From: GKR  [Brazil]
Date: Wed, 14 Jul 2004

Regarding life in the city of Sao Paulo, it is unbearable for some people, but for others it is normal.  I live in a small city called Campinas.  It is near Sao Paulo and I have lived there for some years.  I am sure the subway system is simple compared to Tokyo, but it is the transport most used by everyone.

The big problem in Sao Paulo is that the city has grown too fast and now it is difficult to fix and/or maintain buildings, parks, streets... the traffic, I think, is the worst.  If you work downtown, it is quite certain that it will take you more than an hour to get home, but as I said, many people get used to it.


I haven't been to Sao Paulo yet, but I think the pressure of mega-city life must be similar in any of the several mega-cities on the planet.  Tokyo has a lot of new buildings now, but the crowding in the trains and the general lifestyle of people must have a lot of parallels.  What is the population of Sao Paulo?  If you include the suburbs of Tokyo (Kanagawa, Saitama & Chiba), there are 30,000,000 people here....

"Higher Tolls"     [Top of page]

From: KCM  [US]
Date: Fri, 16 Jul 2004

I think work is making me sick, or I am getting sick of work.  Yesterday I left at 4:00 because I couldn't stand it any longer, and today I'm taking a half day.  Originally I was planning to take the whole day off since I already told my boss I felt kind of sick anyway, but that's a day's pay right there.  So Aabbb talked me into taking only a half day off.

In other news, the bridge tolls around here have been raised to $3, up from $2.  We knew it was going to rise, but we expected the toll to rise next year, like the ballot said.  Bleh!  The first day had a bunch of drivers arguing with the toll people about it, which backed up traffic even more than usual.


"Hey Hollywood!  Cut it Out Already!"     [Top of page]

(2004/07/22)  I saw most of "The Last Samurai" by hanging out in front of the television section of a couple of discount electronics stores while shopping.  My reaction?  Interesting individual scenes, but overall, I just want to say, "Stop!!  Enough already!!!"  How many "Lawrence of Arabia" type imbecilic stories have to be made?  How many people have grown up reading/watching the tales of the lone outsider who goes overseas to an exotic foreign country and befriends the people there, understands them like no one "from the outside" ever has before and wins their unshakable trust and loyalty... and then puts the book down or leaves the movie theater and goes overseas himself/herself to try to be the "perfect foreigner"?  It's lunacy, it's psychotic, it's ignorant, it's inane and it's an insult to any country on the planet that is targeted for that stupid "made-for-movies" story.

Um... what do I want to say?  That I think "The Last Samurai" is a really bad movie - from its idiotic title and on through all the details.  It's historically inaccurate and the people who made it obviously don't understand either Japan's history or its soul.

Oops... can someone help out with a few buckets of water to put out the flames?

"Vastly Experienced?"     [Top of page]

In this week's Japan Times, among the monotonous rows of ads from predatory companies who are looking for victims 365 days a year, I noticed this ad:

Solicitor for subscription to newspapers.  Aggressive, vastly experienced person.  A chance to earn over Y5000,000/month. Call 1234-5678.  Biz-22

That "aggressive, vastly experienced" terminology jumped out of the newspaper and landed on my computer screen....  Have you seen that terminology used in advertising for salespeople before?

"Still There?"     [Top of page]

I sent out a letter to some of the people I've been repeatedly getting "In Box Full" error messages from, and fortunately some of them received that letter and responded.  One such letter saying:

Subject: Re: Still there?
From: TJE  [US]
Date: Tue, 20 Jul 2004  -0500

Well, if I let this mailbox stay unchecked, in just three days, the spam alone will put me out if commission.  I sent my name in to try and stop the spam - it then tripled within a week!  I have enough forwards per week to fill a book and finally there are the letters....


In three days and spam mail attackers shut down her mailbox!  There must be some way to stop the spam blizzard... one part of it being letters like the scam spam e-mail below ("Scam E-Mail, July 2004").

"Scam E-Mail, July 2004"     [Top of page]

The concept of the following scam e-mail is nothing new, but I thought I'd include it (only part of the original) as an example of fictional scam text created in July in the year 2004.  I made some minor changes to it - taking out the original fake name and putting in a new fake name, taking out the original fake country and putting in a new fake country, etc.

From: Scam Man <scam@scam.com>
Date: Mon, 12 Jul 2004

My getting your address is the handwork of fate. Since then, I have been very much hopeful that you will help us irrespective of the fact that the present world is full of dishonesty and distrust. First and foremost, I must solicit your strictest confidence in this transaction and I pray that my decision to contact you will be given genuine approval.

I am Mr. Scam Man from the lost continent. I write to inform you my desire to invest, and to buy a living house in your country. My father was a diamond/gold merchant in my country.  He had a bullet shot by the rebels on his way traveling out of my country. UN peacemaker, keeping force rescued my father, and he was taken to hospital for medical treatment, which he later died. Before he died he revealed to me and my mother about the boxes containing 85 kilo of raw gold and $12.5 million, which he deposited with a security company for safekeeping. I want you to lecture me on how best we can invest this money. For your mutual assistance, my mother and myself have agreed to offer you 25% of the total amount of the money.

I have never disclosed this to any person apart from you. I will want you to forward across to me your direct Tel/Fax number for more information's about this transaction. You can contact me on my newly subscribed mobile phone number 0123456789, so at this point I will give you a fax number to send your reply for confidentiality purposes.

Best regards,

Mr. Scam Man
(For the entire family)

Is anyone really stupid enough to fall for schemes like the one above?  "There's one in every crowd"? - well, not many I hope!

"Graduated & Waiting for Summer in Germany"     [Top of page]

Subject: Re: Okay,WillDo!
Date: Wed, 21 Jul 2004  +0100 (BST)
From: EWT  [Hong Kong / EU]

[In answer to the question "Has Yahoo-UK also gone to 100MB like Yahoo.com?  Yahoo-JP is still at 6MB..."]  Yeah!! My account's gone to 100Mb overnight!! Which is just fab!!  I can now email lots and not worry about my account clogging up.

I've now graduated!!  Wayhay!!  So happy... so now I have a lot of free time on my hands and am not doing much.  I'm now back in Germany and spending time with friends.

However, it doesn't seem as though we're getting summer here - it's been cool but not hot hot!!  Hope we get the summer soon....


"Back in Ebisu"     [Top of page]

(2004/07/23)  I met an Australian friend in Ebisu yesterday evening for a few cans of beers out under the night sky.  Meeting a friend in a drinking place is totally out of the question, as it would be really unforgivable to be throwing thousands of yen away on a noisy indoor place when it's possible to have a couple of drinks and discuss things outside for only a few hundred yen.  Interestingly, yesterday we looked over and noticed that there was another group having a drink outside and then a lone businessman parked himself in another empty spot and had a beer before continuing on his way.  Maybe it's becoming a trend!  I and my friend may even be partly responsible for it, as when we stand there for a few hours having our beers, a lot of people walk by on their way to the station and maybe a few of them have decided it looks like we're enjoying ourselves and they'd like to try it out?  It's plausible....

"Getting Corporate Sponsorship"     [Top of page]

(2004/07/23) Probably some of you read that title and though "Oh no... Lyle's sold out to the corporations!".  No... but I would like to - not sell out, but get sponsorship somehow, and put links (for a price) to some wealthy companies on my site.  I will carry on as best as I am able regardless, but if I don't get some money coming in I will sink, pure and simple.  I'd rather sail the oceans of life a little longer (yuck, that "sail the oceans of life" is pretty disgusting, isn't it?), so I am hereby asking you-all if you have any info on how that sort of thing is done.  Any sort of contact information or even loosely connected info would be appreciated!

Yoroshiku onegai-itashimasu!

Sore dewa,

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon   LLLetters@yahoo.com
Nishi-Shinjuku, Tokyo   July 23rd, 2004   (LxL-WnIH/LL328a)
About Linux:  http://www.linux.com/
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