Blue Parrot Books
Jim Breen's JpPg
The LL-Letters book
Tokyo Subway Map
Tokyo Area Maps
Knoppix CD Prog
The Daily Yomiuri
The Japan Times
Japan Tourist Org
Jerry & HipSwingers
"Hiroshima, August 27th/28th 2007"
Twenty-three years in Japan and I finally went to see
Hiroshima City. Other than the Peace Memorial Park (with the
remains of the Hiroshima Prefectural Products Exhibition Hall, now
known as the Atomic Bomb Dome), there is nothing in the city (that I
could see during my two-day stay in any case) that indicates what
happened to it on August 6th, 1945. Still, places have their
atmospheres and echoes from the past, so I looked around and
tried to comprehend how the city is now and how it was in the past;
with that day in August 1945 being a wall between normalcy and a
hovering horror (you might not mind the idea of vaporized cities in
another country, but imagine it happening to your own city - one device
in the sky - boom - city gone; it's much too easy).
The Atomic Bomb Dome is something just about everyone has seen a
picture of at one time or another, but I hadn't realized what the
building was originally for and that it was originally a much larger
building. Most of it was knocked down in the blast, with only the
central part remaining. It seems to be have been a combination of
brick and wood -there's no trace of any flooring left at all - just the
walls of the central part of the building. Here's a history of
the building (from a Hiroshima government website):
The history of
the Atomic Bomb Dome
Hiroshima Products Trade Fair held.
1915 August 15
Hiroshima Prefectural Commercial Exhibition Hall opens.
1921 January 1
Name changed to Hiroshima Prefectural Products Exhibition Hall.
Showa Industrial Exposition held.
1933 November 1 Name changed to
Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall.
1944 March 31
Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall functions suspended.
Subsequently used by government offices and the distribution control
6 Atomic bomb explodes nearly directly above.
Mostly collapsed, completely burned. All persons in building killed
11 City Council decides to preserve
the A-bomb Dome.
1966 November 1 Beginning of
fundraising for Dome preservation.
1967 August 5
First A-bomb Dome Preservation Project
1 Beginning of fundraising for
1990 March 31 Second
A-bomb Dome Preservation Project.
1995 June 27
The Dome was designated as a National Historic Site.
1996 December 7 The Dome was
registered on the World Heritage List.
2003 March 31 Third
A-bomb Dome Preservation Project.
After visiting the dome, I walked on, turned right and crossed a
bridge, and then noticed an old concrete three-story building that is
now a Tourist Information Center. On my own, I would have walked
in, but I was with a few people, so as they walked on, I followed them
and went through the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. At my hotel
later in the day, I was looking at some pamphlets I'd picked up and I
noticed that building again. The pamphlet said:
Rest House in
Peace Memorial Park
The former Taishoya Kimono
Shop. The basement has been preserved just as it was when the
building withstood the A-bomb. Now this building houses a
visitor's center and [has] shops selling products you can't buy
The "basement has been preserved
just as it was" bit caught my attention and I went back the next
day and had a look. More on that later....
That first day, after riding the street cars, seeing the Peace Memorial
Park area and Hiroshima Castle, and then walking back to the hotel, I
was bit tired. After relaxing in the hotel for a bit, I went out
to a local convenience store and bought a few cans of seasonal (fall)
beer and took them back to my hotel room. I drank the beer, ate
some mixed nuts, watched TV, and fell asleep on the small sofa near the
TV. Waking up at around 4:00 a.m., I took a long shower (kicking
myself for not having done so before falling asleep on the sofa), put
on a hotel bathrobe and went to bed. It was a little stuffy, so I
opened the windows (which were with chains that only allowed them to
open a few centimeters) and lay down thinking about Hiroshima.
What with seeing the remains of the ruined building and the museum, I
had naturally been thinking about August 6th, 1945 a bit, but it was
mainly regular-process thinking - you know, you see a picture and you
take in the details, or you read a story and think about the words and
what's between the lines - just normal thinking. Then, as I lay
there on the bed around 5:00 in the morning, beginning to drift halfway
back into sleep, a non-regular-process...
feeling/image/concept/perception came to mind. It's impossible to
explain properly in words, but it was a sensation of a horrendous force
slamming into the ground. All day I'd been seeing photos and
whatnot, and thinking about them, but mainly my thoughts were of burns
and buildings knocked down with a horizontal force. The conscious
realization of the sensation jolted me wide awake - ending the impact
perception.../something, but like a fleeting memory I still have from
the middle of rolling a car back in 1977, I can recall a fraction of
the feeling when thinking back to the moment.
So, did I manufacture that sensation? It seemed more like a
memory of an event than something I thought up myself, but then again,
people's imagination is powerful, so I don't know....
After checking out of the hotel, I headed over to the former Taishoya
Kimono Shop and its waiting basement. (Being made of concrete,
the building survived mainly intact - with the roof collapsed, but
otherwise intact.) Walking into the Tourist Information Center, I
didn't see any evidence of stairs leading down, so I asked a woman at
the counter about it, and she said that it could be seen by request
only, and gave me a form to fill out (in Japanese). After filling
it out, she called somewhere and said that a visitor was on their way
to see the basement, and then led me outside of the building and back
in through a side entrance that led to stairs going up and - at the end
of a dim hallway, stairs going down.
Opening a metal cabinet with several hard hats in it, she took one out
and handed it to me, saying that I was required to wear it when
visiting the basement. I took it, dutifully put it on my head,
and she hurriedly went back outside. As people generally will
guide you all the way to a destination here, I thought it odd, but
proceeded to the top of the stairs and took a picture of the old wooden
handrail and narrow stairs leading down. Walking down, I was
struck with an acrid smell... my first impulse was turn around and get
out of there double-time, but I wanted to see what was in the room and
I continued on.... Looking ahead, I saw an exhaust fan that was
in one of the small windows up against the ceiling, so I walked over
towards it stupidly thinking that it might be blowing air in - it
wasn't, but by then I was in the space, so I took some pictures and
It was an empty basement basically, so I was initially surprised, as
the words "has been preserved just as it was when the building
withstood the A-bomb" led me to believe that there were still things in
there from before August 6th (not logical, but...). The strange
thing is that as I took pictures, it almost seemed like any old
concrete basement that could use more ventilation, but after leaving
the space and thinking back, that space and that acrid smell scare
me. Suddenly I understand why the woman didn't go near the stairs
leading down and got away from there in a hurry. And the lack of
ventilation... how long does radiation from an atomic bomb blast at
ground zero hang around in a poorly ventilated underground space?
(The exhaust fan was turned on and the door opened after the phone call
I presume.) I was only in there for two or three minutes, but
somehow the memory of the place seems to be growing into something
more... scary? Frightening? Dangerous? For some
reason, I thought I really wanted to see that space, but I think it
conveyed more to me than I bargained for somehow. The next time I
visit Hiroshima, I don't think I'll go back - once was enough.
Back upstairs in the Tourist Information Office I heard that everyone
in the building had been killed in the blast, save one person who was
in that basement - the unanswered question in my mind being (I didn't
have the courage to ask) "how long". It's hard to imagine that
they would have escaped the effects of radiation in the ground-zero
area, even though they escaped the effects of the blast by being in the
basement of a concrete building....
After that I went to Miyajima and was quite happy to visit an old
wooden temple there that has been there for hundreds of years.
That is as it should be. Cities shouldn't be erased from the map
in a flash. They can be rebuilt, as Hiroshima was, but it's just
such a horrible thing - taking out an entire city. One side or
another may win a war, but we all lose.
"Walkways & Carways"
Within Tokyo, it's not practical to go most places by car,
but when you get away from the larger cities, Japan has become very
much a car culture, with two-car families quite common and people
depending on cars for their daily transportation. Yesterday,
riding down a back road in a car, I spotted a woman walking down the
road with a white parasol, looking very much like a 19th century
painting. I took a picture - which is at the top of this page:
- and I've been thinking how it feels to walk down a road
compared to how it feels to ride down a road in a car. It's
comfortable riding around in air-conditioned cars, just sitting there
at speed, but there's something to be said for walking and being in
touch with the landscape as well. The thing about being
comfortable all the time is that you end up not appreciating things as
much. After a long walk in the hot sun, cool shade and a cold
drink at your destination are more appreciated than after stepping out
of a chilled car interior.
Retro-traditional culture. After decades of traditional Japan
slipping away with new things nearly always being bland-international,
there seems to be at least a slight trend back towards traditional
design, as evidenced by a new traditionally styled retro-traditional
restaurant I ate at soon after seeing the woman from the 19th century
painting (see "Walkways & Carways" in the Photo Gallery):
Part of Yokohama - present and post-industrial along the
bayside; old temple on the other side of several busy train lines:
"Dinner Cruise Boats (Yakatabune)"
The Edo-era meets the 21st century and lives on with motors
"Pockets Here & There"
Although it's still possible to find some trace of "old Japan", it's
becoming ever more difficult. The building material of choice is
concrete far more than wood now (even many of the traditionally shaped
shrines and temples have been made with concrete), and many parts of
Japan could be a modern city in any advanced industrial economy on the
planet. That's not all bad of course, but it's a bit boring
sometimes. Whatever happened to the exotic aspect of this country?
But then that's what 23 years of living here does as well - everything
just seems normal. I guess it's still an exotic country to
newcomers, but not much in the external style of things.
All that by way of introducing a new page I've put up:
Even here, not much of it is authentically old - it's sort of a theme
area in a way, marketing itself as one of Tokyo's (very few)
On the principle that all it takes to write is to sit down and begin
writing, I entered a coffee shop in Asagaya and pulled out my
Music - at first I thought they were playing Joni Mitchell, but it
seemed watered down and... wrong. Yet another spineless
combination of business, and a singer without the talent to write their
own music. In the days before recordings, it made more sense,
but... wait... it's the other way around, isn't it!? I've spent
the past few decades happily listening to music I like - over and over
- the very same recordings, and really hating it when someone did/does
a bad imitation of a song I like, but when you stop and think about it,
the situation of listening to the very same recording of a song is
Now I Imagine the music I'm listening to in this coffee shop as a live
performance, it doesn't seem odd that the singer is singing known
songs. She has a good voice.... The first song I heard as I
sat down at (a window seat) was such an old favorite that I would
rather have heard the original and gone on a nostalgia trip, but the
other songs don't sound bad.
Stop and smell the flowers. Why... naw... never mind. I was
going to ask why it's so hard to stop at a coffee shop like I have done
this evening and get contemplative, but the rarity of it is what makes
it sublime? No... not that either. I guess I'm still
seeking something. I guess we all are. Here's to finding it
- and enjoying select moments along the way!
There's this weird thing that often happens on crowded trains... the
people standing on the side away from the opening doors (which open on
one side of the train or the other, but tend to open predominately on
one side for a given direction), stand directly under the line of
hanging straps in front of (and parallel to) the door there and get
huffy, puffy, and irritated if any pressure is put on them from the
mass of people on the open door side smashed together like proverbial
sardines in a can. So you have this mass of people smashed
painfully together in 85% of the space between the doors (on either
side of the train car, generally four doors per side - eight per train
car), and then a line of people standing and hanging on to the straps
by the far door acting like they're in a 1st Class reserved section
where no one may enter or come too near. The pressure from the
two or three dozen people smashed together makes contact absolutely
unavoidable, but then these far-side idiots cast irritated glances over
their shoulders at the poor souls that are forced into involuntary
contact with them. These mutant bipeds hang on to the straps with
their arm muscles flexing (and sometimes legs braced forward) as they
fiercely guard the empty space in front of them (between themselves and
three or four people up against the far doors) - while those three or
four people lazily lean against that far pair of doors (two doors per
opening) and look out on the human misery beyond this barrier in happy
contentment, or lazily look out the window in glorious
no-one-is-touching-me free space.
Is there something about that happy contentment that the fierce strap
holders feel must not be infringed upon (do they know those happy
people against the door)? Or do the strap holders dearly love
having a strap directly overhead and are willing to fight
tooth-and-nail to maintain their wonderful spot below the strap?
I wish I could be more sarcastic, but words fail me in the
flabbergasted state of mind induced upon confrontation with these
mutant commuters. Just this morning, one of the worst of them - a
man I've had the misfortune to stand next to before - was standing in
his beloved spot beneath a strap, with enough space in front of him for
another person to stand (and yes, I have pushed past people to get into
the space before, but there was no gap to squeeze past the Berlin wall
of strap holders this morning), and whenever I was pushed ever so
slightly against him (absolutely against my will) by the 30 or 40
people smashed together like sardines behind me, he would look back in
disgust as though the train were completely empty save his rotten soul
and suffering me and I was strangely coming up close to him. At
one point he looked back and then turned his ugly head forward, shaking
it as though he were dealing with an idiot. "Grrrrr.... Hey
you! You've got it backwards! If you want to see something
worth shaking your head about, have a look in the mirror you foul
excuse for a biped you!" thought I.
Actually, there's a Darwinian process going on here. Those of us
with tight connections need to be within a certain range of the steps
leading away from the platform when we disembark from the train (so we
can catch our next train on another platform), and so pressure is
highest by the doors near the stairs. The wolves and hyenas with
toxic barbs instead of human elements do whatever possible to cause
pain and suffering to other bipeds competing for the space (in order to
drive away competition). The less bloodthirsty and more humane
people generally end up going to less convenient parts of the train
after being repeatedly abused (which then requires leaving home earlier
in some cases to compensate for the lost three or four minutes it takes
to escape the platform in the horde of people getting off), or commit
suicide (the Chuo Line is famous for its high suicide rate), or begin
growing poison barbs. I don't want to grow poison barbs, but how
to deal with trash like that idiot I bump into some mornings is a
problem I'm wondering how to solve. The only practical thing I
can think of at the moment is to move back a notch (to another door) -
away from that
idiot (and next to a new one probably) but still within reasonable
range of the stairs. If nothing else, it'll help to catch the
predators off-guard a little since they won't know on a day-by-day
basis where I'll be. Also, I want to prevent myself from thinking
of actually taking action against the train scum - when you see the
same evil rotten biped day after day, you begin to want to do something
about it - better to be a (nearly/virtual) perpetual stranger to the
So the next time you're feeling frustrated in a traffic jam, look
around at the glorious private space you're sitting in, put on some
music, and know that you are one of the lucky commuters.
"Tokyo Skyline #2"
Tokyo is beginning to look a little like New York in a way - with
high-rise buildings everywhere:
"Osaki to Shinagawa & Back"
There are only a few weeks of the year when it's possible to take
daylight photos of Tokyo in the evening (6:00-7:00), and so I've been
trying to take advantage of this "window of opportunity" while it
lasts. One result is the "Osaki to Shinagawa & Back" set of
photos, posted here:
"From Hamamatsucho Station to
Shinbashi Station (Poem)"
I took some notes last week (regarding a walk I took from Hamamatsucho
Station to Shinbashi Station) that I intended to expand upon, but
reading them back, they pretty much cover what I wanted to say, so I'll
just use the notes themselves, which are sort of like a poem....
Rushing train, rushing people, cars, city noises
Hydrofoil boat, roaring (turbine?) engines
Crossing under tracks to the inside of the Yamanote Line
Old temple, sunset behind bamboo, cemetery, double-lit Tokyo Tower
Serene female stature, teahouse
Sprung stranger in cemetery, sanctity honored?
Coffee in Sky-Sushi
Florescent-blasted trains westward bound
June 14th, 2007
"Vertical Gated Communities"
One evening, I got off the Yamanote Line in Shinagawa and headed
towards Tokyo Bay. After walking about fifteen minutes, I found
myself among several luxury apartment towers - many more than I had
imagined would be there. There have been news reports about this
trend in the local media, but I hadn't realized the extent of this kind
of development, and as I stood at street level contemplating the
behind-locked-security-doors towers that I couldn't enter, I suddenly
realized that the "gated community" trend is in Japan too....
The towers themselves look as though they would be nice to live in -
like luxury hotels, they have swank lobbies and the residents of the
upper floors have views of Tokyo Bay or a canal, and/or the Tokyo
skyline. Unlike hotels, you need to enter a security number
before the doors will open and there is often a guard on duty just
inside the doors. Think vertical gated community - with (often
underground) parking lots full of cars, but it's not possible for any
large percentage of the inhabitants of Tokyo to go to work by car, due
to there being nowhere to put the cars. You might get to work in
two or three hours (as opposed to 30-60 minutes by train) but then what
do you do with your large fire-breathing machinery when you get there?
But back to standing on the ground in front of one of the luxury
towers - looking high up in the sky, you can see - behind large
and deep balconies - what appear to be quite nice interiors - with warm
incandescent lighting (or florescent imitations of it) and hotel-like
interiors with nice furniture, indirect lighting, etc.
Nearly the entire area is full of these upscale towers, but there are a
few lessor buildings mixed in - a twelve-story apartment building here,
a fifteen-story building there, and what looks like a warehouse.
The towers appear to be around 40-stories high. The range that
qualifies a building as a Luxury Tower seems to be from twenty to forty
(or more) stories.
Sitting on a bench on the side of one of the swankier looking buildings
with grounds that function like a small, but rather nice looking park -
paths through grass; discrete lights shining down (no direct or harsh
light at eye-level), landscaped with bushes and fairly large trees
(obviously put there at the time of construction in the not-too-distant
past - with cables holding them up until they can grow out their
roots). This particular tower looks as though it was completed
within the past year or two. Across the street is another huge
apartment building (huge in diameter as well as height) under
construction, looking strange in its completely unlit immense form, in
the middle of sparking towers awash in internal and exterior lighting.
Sitting on a bench in the small park, I look up and see a few of the
brighter stars through the branches of one of the larger trees... and
begin contemplating the atmosphere of the area. I look around at
the park I'm sitting in and take note of the many nice aspects to it -
the well arranged design, with a tasteful mixture of grasses, bushes,
trees, benches, and paths; the almost perfect temperature of the June
4th evening, making it a perfect time to be siting outside, and yet I'm
the only person sitting there. Occasionally a person walks by
with a dog on a leash, women go by in nice clothes, often with an
overpriced "brand" bag on arm; men walk by either with a snazzy (also
overpriced?) briefcase in hand or with a backpack attached to their
office-wear-clad selves (probably those making the 15-20 minute hike
from Shinagawa on foot instead of taking the bus) .
As nice as this apartment tower park is, the streets are the streets
(as in concrete cold/hot and unfriendly to anything not fire-breathing)
, and there are no restaurants, no stores (except one convenience store
I saw) and no discernible culture. Just streets with cars and
buses driving by, and the wonderful towers rising into the sky. I
imagine if I lived in one, I'd be tempted to have food supplies
delivered and just stay up in the tower, only coming down to go to work
or go somewhere. Otherwise I'd make use of the balcony (except
that most of them have a glass sided balconies - to improve the view
from inside I suppose - so there's no privacy to it!) when the weather
was nice and otherwise just enjoy the interior luxury up in the sky and
ignore the not-so-nice ground.
Speaking of which... this area near the shoreline of Tokyo Bay is all
land-fill, and (call it my overactive imagination if you will, but... )
as I've noticed before in such areas - there seems to be the opposite
effect of the energizing effect of natural spots of beauty, with the
area producing a deep fatigue. Considering that some of the
landfill along Tokyo Bay is composed of trash with a layer of dirt on
top, it doesn't seem strange to me that it would be more tiring to sit
atop a trash mountain than a real mountain of rock and dirt only.
Another key to the strange atmosphere at street level is the warehouse
- which seems to be in its element somehow. Imagine an old
shoreline area of a major city with mostly delivery and storage related
buildings. Tear down most of the industrial type buildings, then
toss in several 40-story luxury apartment towers and you may find
yourself accurately imagining this area in near proximity to the Tokyo
Bay shoreline and the noisy elevated rails of several train lines,
still feeling a little industrial as it heads in an upscale direction.
There was recently a report on one of the weekend news shows about how
it's popular to live in apartments alongside canals. From the
look of things in the Shinagawa area, I think that predominantly means
that area. I don't think there's quite the concentration of new
trendy high-rise apartments anywhere else in the city.
Personally, while I agree that a view of water from an apartment is
nice (any kind of water, whether river, lake, ocean or canal), canals
in mega-cities are not generally composed of pristine crystal clear
sparkling water. Indeed, there's often a slight smell to city
canals. So - if I were living in that area, I think I really
would just stay up in my sky tower (the higher the better) and not
spend much time down on the not-so-nice ground.
I took a walk along one of the canals (a ten to fifteen minute walk
from the bay) and came to an older apartment building with smaller
balconies and no locked security doors and grand hotel style
lobby. Somehow the whole building seems more friendly and
relaxed. That's not to say I wouldn't opt for a sky apartment
before one of the old smaller ones, but there was that feeling of the
building being more friendly - aided in no small degree by the entire
first floor being composed of shops and restaurants. There was a
sushi bar, a restaurant, a coffee shop, a barber shop, and something
unidentifiable behind it's metal roll shutters closed for the
day. Maybe there are exclusive restaurants and shops in the sky
towers, but I don't think so - what with the always-locked security
doors, the only customers they could have would have to come from
within the building.
Back to the attraction of the canals - they used to have smooth, steep
concrete sides leading up to a wall next to the roads going along their
sides, but over many years, they have narrowed the canals by building
park-like areas (with walkways and park benches) within the levees, and
this fact alone does make them vastly nicer than they used to be.
It's a good thing that they are nicer than before, but exclusive?
Why not, I guess. The fact that those living in that area can
*walk* home from Shinagawa Station is pretty amazing. Generally
the major transfer stations on the Yamanote Line (Tokyo, Shinagawa,
Ueno, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ikebukuro, etc.) are somewhere you transfer to
a commuter line that takes you out to affordable housing about an hour
or so from central Tokyo, so the idea of already being home in one of
those places is pretty amazing. Hmmmm..... I wouldn't mind having
an apartment in one of those places myself! Although I think I'd
rather be a sky tower dweller in Shinjuku, with the building sitting on
real land, than in Shinagawa, with the building sitting on
landfill. Land not being available in Shinjuku, there are fewer
towers though, and here is the reason for an industrial area heading
upscale with high-rise towers - in a city completely carpeted with
buildings, you put new large ones where you can find space for them!
Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon
"Iroiro - March 2007"
It's easier and more fun to take new pictures than to edit existing
ones, and so I'm always behind with photo editing... thus these photos
from March being posted in May!:
There's no particular focus to them - they are just some pictures I
took as I went about Tokyo in March. Within them are pictures
from the New World Service Restaurant's last Friday night in business
(they closed for the last time early in the afternoon the following
Friday). Other time sensitive items include a platform under
construction at Shinjuku Station (that has since been reopened) and a
new high-rise going up in Shinjuku of an unusual design. Mostly
I'm feeling a bit tired of glass towers with overpriced "brand" shops
in them, but this new building going up is of such an unusual design,
I'm feeling somewhat excited about it.
This is what new designs should be like! As long as you're doing
something new, why not try hard to do something interesting?
Mostly high-rises are just boxes with varying interiors - it's not
often that the external design itself is interesting.
iPod's are taking over to the point of exclusion of everything
else! Shudder-shudder-shudder! About a year ago, when I
went to Yodobashi Camera in Shinjuku to buy a sound file player that
would play OGG files, there was a pretty even mix of things from
different companies, but when I went back to the same store last week,
I was shocked (shocked!) and dismayed (What?! Why? Oh no...) to see 95%
of the display space taken up with those bloody iPods.
"You can have anything you want -
so long as it's an iPod. Green, blue, pink, large, small, etc.
anything you want! iPod accessories, cute little cases, matching
Nike shoes.... What? You don't want to buy an iPod? But...
but... that doesn't make sense! They're cute, everyone wants one
and it's the only thing we sell! Monoculture! It's the 21st
I'll go back and pester the staff about the lack of machines that will
play OGG files - they must have some hiding somewhere off in the
corners away from the prime display space mainly taken up with the
bloody iPods and their bloody cute accessories, but the only thing I
saw while walking through was a couple of models from Creative (that
are nice, and work fine for MP3 files, but don't play OGG files,
As I wandered around feeling shell-shocked (the owners of the Sanshin
Building are planning to smash it to bits and Apple is seemingly
driving all sensible audio file players into oblivion), I remembered
meeting a friend at the Bic Camera in the old Sogo Department store
building by Yurakucho Station and seeing that they had more OGG-playing
models than I've been seeing at Yodobashi Camera, so I rode the
Yamanote Line over there... and walked in horror through another large
and obnoxious display of bloody iPods, finally finding that they still
have some machines on display that will play OGG files, as follows:
- AVOX OR8 1GB
- SIREN DP-200 / DP-300
I bought a SIREN, but haven't had a chance to try it out yet. I'm
happy I could get a player that allows me to just load in files in a
format that I like and then listen to them without mucking up my
computer with rotten proprietary software and still won't play the type
of files I want to use, but I'm worried whether that type of player
will continue to be available in the future.
Monoculture... What's going on anyway? Is there only room for one
operating system, one audio file player, one type of glass & steel
sealed-box high-rise building? Is there no room for alternatives
to a certain monopolistic software company, no room for something other
than an iPod to listen to audio files electronically, no room for a
classic 1929 building with possibly more character than any other
building in Tokyo?
"Smoke Rant & Glorification -
Final NWSR Friday Night"
Forward: This begins with a rant
against smokers in the first paragraph, goes to a glorification of
smoking in the second paragraph (both without... much... sarcasm), and
then gets to the original reason I pulled out my notebook and began
writing on Friday, March 23rd, 2007 - the last Friday night that the
New World Service Restaurant was open for business. It was the
first "last" in the restaurant's final week, as they closed for the
last time after lunch on the following Friday, March 30th.... Now
- to the text written by hand from a comfortable corner table near the
kitchen and the base of the stairs to the second level.
(2007/03/23, Friday, Sanshin Building - New World Service
Restaurant.) Cough-cough.... Smoke - I've gotten used to
not having to ingest it from the leaf fires of those with the peculiar
addiction of buying rolled leaves, lighting them on fire, and ingesting
the smoke for the drug high of nicotine. As I breath the smoke
being generated in this way, I wonder why, if these leaf-smoke people
really need to drug themselves, why don't they do it with a hypodermic
needle or by taking pills or something. And lest someone make the
inane comparison of people ingesting alcohol with people ingesting
smoke, allow me to point out that when someone drinks, they don't grab
the heads of everyone in the room and forcibly pour alcohol down their
throats - which is what they would have to do in order for the leaf
smoke & alcohol comparison not to be inane.
Phew! Now I suppose I'll get hate mail for sounding off in in an
infuriated/infuriating way. I should admit that I actually do
understand the allure of smoking - from a single experience: A
few years back, there was a barbecue by a river on the fringe of Tokyo,
attended by a mix of nationalities (mostly long-term foreign residents
of Tokyo), and I found myself standing by the barbecue jovially talking
with a man from... one distant country or another, and he offered me a
cigarette. It seemed perfectly natural to accept, and as I smoked
it, I stood there feeling... not cool... not manly... what? There
was a feeing of connectedness with everything - with the earth, the
sky, and the timeless history of humanity sharing a smoke by the fire
and enjoying life.
It really was a good experience, but when I'm inside buildings with
leaf fires, smoke burns my eyes, gives me a sore throat, and eventually
The Sanshin Building... due for destruction; and the New World Service
Restaurant is due to close one week from today. In between
writing the above sentences, I had a steak - one of the few things on
the menu not sold out today - with a salad, soup, and a cup of coffee
After the coffee, I didn't feel ready to leave, so I ordered a beer
(Asahi Super-Dry) - which I'm drinking as I write this. As I take
a couple of photos of my table for posterity (the group off in another
corner is doing the same), I note that there are smokers to the left...
smokers to the right... but it's not bothering me much now - aside from
slightly burning eyes. Maybe an exhaust fan was turned on, or
maybe I've just gotten used to the leaf smoke. Come to think of
it - the scene is perfect in a way - you can't smoke in most
restaurants now, so this completes... no, not completes... "adds to"
the trip back in time that this restaurant and this building provide.
Second beer - closing time approaches. The manager (and owner I
think) of the shop has been running this restaurant for over 60
years. I would really like to interview him about the changes
he's experienced from generation to generation, as he's seen more than
a few generational changes in his life so far.
I ask the manager about next week, and am told that - at the latest,
they'll be closing after lunch next Friday, so this is the last Friday
night for this restaurant... after sixty-something years. Tokyo
has no respect for tradition! Is it old? Smash it into
rubble and build something new!
8:01 p.m. - And several of us customers are still here. Normally
they would have pushed us out right at eight.... The last Friday
night... but it shouldn't be.
The music just stopped... the manager is going from table to table
politely telling people it's closing time. "The music has
stopped." How symbolic can you get. Am I making too big a
deal out of this? Maybe - but Tokyo is nearly devoid of anything
old... if you haven't experienced living here, you probably can't
imagine how hungry for history you get as you watch - continually -
everything older than a few decades smashed into rubble to continually
build something new - always something new. When the new bits are
better than what they replace, that's good I suppose, but the
destruction is indiscriminate - good, bad, culturally significant - no
matter, it all has to go!
PS - The restaurant always featured music by Wong Wing Tsan, and much
of his (piano-based) music is perfect as background... mood
music? I'm not sure I like that term, but it does evoke a certain
mood, so I guess that makes it mood-music? Of the two CD's I've
carefully listened to (they sold them at the restaurant), one is piano
with a synthesizer, and the other piano with jazz instruments.
The website for the musician is here:
"Lower Content, More Hype"
Way back in the 20th century, when camera manufacturers actually
manufactured all of the significant component parts of their own
cameras, there were substantial differences between cameras and thus
actual significantly unique technical details to write about. But
now, with many significant component parts being sourced by several
manufacturers from the very same factories, cameras are - technically -
very similar and so there isn't much to write about really to
distinguish one manufacturer from another. The solution?
Spin! Hype! BS! As an example, here is some actual
text from an ad for a respected camera manufacturer (with the name
remarkable image processing technology, and brilliantly balanced with
an easy-to-use interface. The new Z331, loaded with 10 megapixel power
and superior shooting capabilities, will precisely execute your every
professional list of features include a 10 effective megapixel CCD for
high quality images, a newly developed 11-area AF system for
exceptional sharpness, our Creative Lighting System providing the
ultimate in lighting control, Ultra-High speed 5fps continuous shooting
to capture fleeting moments, and a magnesium alloy body for the perfect
blend of durability, weight, and feel."
Let's have a look at some details:
It has: "image processing
Big deal - they all do! So add some spin: "Armed with remarkable"
It has: "an easy-to-use interface".
Big deal - they all do! So add some spin: "brilliantly balanced with".
It has a: "10 megapixel" CCD.
Yawn... spin: "loaded with .....
power". (Since when did "power" become an acceptable
substitute for "CCD" anyway?)
It has "shooting capabilities".
No kidding! It had better! It's a camera after all!
Help! Spin! "Superior".
Ah, yes! "Superior shooting
capabilities"! But... superior to what?
It will: "execute your every
Well... yeah! No kidding!? If it doesn't, then it's
broken! Spin: "precisely"
The camera has a "list of features".
No surprise here, how to make this bit of bland information sound
interesting? Make it a "professional"
list of features! What are these "professional" features?
It has a "10 effective megapixel
10 megapixels is pretty ho-hum these days. Top of the line actual
professional cameras have more, so this is a virtual professional
camera I think, not a real professional model.
The camera has an: "11-area AF
Very standard these days - even the cheapest pocketable cameras have
multi-point auto-focusing. How to spin that? Add "newly developed" at the front and "for exceptional sharpness" at the
rear. "Exceptional sharpness"?
I find that offensive! The lens is either in focus or it
isn't! Exceptional sharpness is what you get with quality optics,
not a multi-point focusing system, which aids accuracy in focusing in
comparison to older (single-point) auto-focus systems, but will not
help sharpness if the lens is lacking it!
The ad says: "our Creative Lighting
What? I don't think so! A lighting system would be a system
of lights, no? (If they're just referring to the built-in flash,
they shouldn't call it a "system".) I think what they're talking
about here is exposure control and not in fact a lighting system at
all! I suspect the person who wrote this fell into a bad
translation from Japanese by not understanding the issue and just
focusing on the individual words of a sentence they couldn't understand
describing something mysterious to them. What to do, what to
do... the translation deadline is looming, you have bills to pay and
admission of non-comprehension will mean a loss of future income.
What to do... what to do... Fake it! Just take the words
one at at time and make a rough sentence - and then smooth that out
grammatically. Result? Grammatically correct garbage!
Adding insult to injury, this non-existent "lighting system" is supposedly: "providing the ultimate in lighting
Groan.... "Lighting control"? Lighting control would be
control of the lights, no? I don't think the camera takes over
the sun and the city lights to provide good lighting for the
camera! This should be (what else could it be?): "exposure
control", which is control of the exposure within the camera, getting
us back in touch with reality! If they're talking about control
of the built-in flash, then they should call it "flash control"!
Lighting is what you have before the picture is taken! Flash is
flash! Lighting is lighting!
Moving along - the camera has: "5fps
continuous shooting" capability (that "fps" means "frames per
second" by the way).
Five frames per second isn't bad, but it's no big deal. How to
spin this ordinariness into BS hype? Add "Ultra-High speed" at the front,
and "to capture fleeting moments"
at the rear. My main complaint with this is the "ultra" in front
of high-speed. It's okay to call five frames per second fast, but
this is something that cameras have had for decades (film before of
course), so what's with the "ultra"? Methinks that's not honest!
What else - the camera has a "magnesium
Good - that's nice to have - but it isn't earth-shakingly
unusual. Spin? Add "for
the perfect blend of durability, weight, and feel" at the
end. "Perfect blend" huh? They make it sound like the
simple fact of utilizing a light material automatically leads to
durability and good feel! Obvious nonsense!
Okay! Enough details! Now for a professional comment to
wrap this up (and I mean "professional" in the sense of someone who is
also doing writing-for-hire). Japanese is a naturally fuzzy
language that very often allows you to floweringly describe something
and not fall outside accuracy due to the writer and reader both knowing
the outer limits of the fuzziness. All well and good, but it's a
disaster when this style of writing is literally translated into
English! English doesn't have this natural fuzziness, so a
sharper focus on hard cold facts and less reliance on the imagination
of the reader is called for. What's a harried translator to
do? They've been given a short (always short) deadline and the
company giving them the work is perpetually looking for faster and
cheaper translations, so - if they're to keep working (people need to
eat and pay rent), then they have to please the paymasters first and
foremost and hope to squeak in a good translation a disappointing
How do I know? I've been there! I've done that! At
the PR agency, there were times when I strung together a bunch of
overwritten text and thought "This is crazy! Surely they'll see
how over-the-top this is and ask me to rewrite it in a more sensible
way!", but no - they liked it over-the-top and (mistakenly) took it to
be a good translation as it seemed similar to the Japanese original
when it was translated in a literal way (literal is generally bad when
going between radically different languages like English and
Japanese!). As much as I could, I would concentrate on the
concept and come up with something sounding more authentically like
real English, but then it was a real struggle convincing them that the
effect generated in the mind of the native English reader was actually
closely aligned with the concept generated in the mind of the native
Japanese reader of the original Japanese - which would not likely be
the case with a directly (mis)translated version.
This is giving me a headache... again!
Suffice it to say that it's a nasty business getting concepts safely
from one culture and language into another! Add in advertising
hype & PR spin, and there is very little actual information to be
gleaned from some (most?) of the text put in front of us.
"Deep Sea Divers in the Basements"
The details of things get lost in general accounts of history, so
hearing about details from people who saw them first-hand makes it
real. With that in mind, here's a bit of immediate post-WW-II
history for you:
Date: Dec 28, 2006
Subject: Re: Ernie Pyle Area
Just received a hand written
letter from a guy who was in Japan in 45. He speaks of buildings in the
Yurakucho area needing repairs and scaffolding of bamboo poles. Sea
divers with brass helmets and air hoses searched the flooded basements.
AND, open canvas stalls selling stuff to G.I.s. He thought those were
because many buildings were unusable. I recall them in 1951 long after
all buildings were operational, however since most Americans had moved
to Korea, the canvass stalls between Yurakucho and Ginza intersection
were doomed as was most of the pom-pom trade.
Deep sea divers in the basements... I don't think I've seen that in
history books, but it's a practical detail that brings things into
focus much more clearly than "The country soon rose from the ruins of
WW-II", which is the type of thing you generally get when referring to
this period of Japan's history.
Truth - so much stranger and so much more interesting than fiction....
"Old Era, Old Cameras, Old
I've been looking at some photos of Ueno I took in 2000, taken with my
first digital camera, a Kodak DC215, and they are so... different
somehow from today ("today" as in now/present/modern/whatever) that I
find myself staring at them remembering when I took them - trying to
accurately recall how I felt at the time and (unsuccessfully) trying to
tie that in both with how they make me feel now, and how more recent
pictures (taken with newer cameras) look.
It's not that I don't understand the difference, but rather I'm having
a difficult time believing that I, Tokyo, the world, and etc. have
changed so much in just six and a half years.
And then there's the technical variable - since I'm using a different
camera now, part of that look that the Ueno pictures have:
- could just be the way my old Kodak recorded the world. If
that camera were still working, I could go out and take some pictures
to see how they compare with my newer camera, but it's completely
non-function now, so all I have from it are old pictures - the last
ones taken in early 2001.
So - two questions:
1) Does anything about those pictures feel old for other viewers
too? For me, I could almost imagine them as having been taken
twenty or thirty years ago (which may just be due to the look the Kodak
2) Is six and a half years a long time? Specifically, is the
period from summer 2000 to late winter/early spring 2007 a long time?
"Ueno - 2000"
I've finally gotten around to putting something about Ueno up in the
Looking through the pictures I've taken of Ueno, I was going to stick
to fairly new ones, but decided to go ahead and begin with the earliest
digital pictures I have of the area (never mind the film pictures for
now, I don't have time to digitize them), taken in 2000 with my first
digital camera, a Kodak DC215. As I look at that camera now - it
amazes me how clunky and old it looks. That always seems to
happen - the pride of today's technology is tomorrow's laughable piece
of old junk. It proudly states on the front of it that it's a
As I find time, I'll post pictures of Ueno from better quality
cameras. I'm not sure why it's taken me so long to get around to
posting something on Ueno - it's one of the major areas of Tokyo - but
I don't go there on a regular basis these days.
"Not the Issue!"
I'm irritated. Alright, so what else is new, I'm nearly always
irritated - but this time I'm *really* irritated. I'm hearing
that temperatures are going up, so global warming is real; I'm hearing
that temperatures are fluctuating wildly, so global climate change is
real; then I hear that the glaciers on Mars are melting, therefore
global warming on this planet can't have anything to do with human
activity - it's just happening; I hear from a visitor from the southern
hemisphere that "humans have no effect on the planet"; I hear that Al
Gore lives in a big house that uses more energy than his neighbors,
therefore his work on getting the world aware of climate change is
bogus (cute logic there - left me speechless, it did - I thought that
the former Vice-President of the US camped out in a sleeping bag in a
tent); I hear today that there is new evidence from long ago that the
planet's climate has (gasp!) changed before, therefore it's just a
I'm hearing all this... this... noise... and I'm thinking "What the
f***?!?". Is anyone visualizing in their overworked biological
computers (built-in between their ears and conveniently not running
buggy brand-W software) the mind-boggling concept of vast amounts of
toxic junk (from the fire-breathing machinery bipeds have made) pouring
into the air every bloody day? Are
temperatures going up, down, sideways, or into the fourth
dimension? Who cares! Whatever is going to happen is open
to speculation, but that all that toxic junk will have a bad effect on
the planet is just (or at least should be) common sense! Scale it
down to a garage - lock yourself in one with a car running and you will
be dead - dead
- in not a very long while.
No effect on the planet? Sure - just like one car, with one tiny
engine - just one out of the gazillions on the planet, will have no
effect on you in that garage (ho-ho). It may be that no one can
predict the exact moment of future death or brain damage to that lone
biped breathing the noxious output of one fire-breathing engine in the
garage. Similarly, no one can predict the exact moment or nature
of drastic damage to the planet, but that damage in one form or another
will be done if the noxious gases don't stop is not in question by
anyone with a non-malfunctioning brain.
What's to be done? I don't know - gleefully ride the machines
into a dead future I guess. Or maybe try to come up with
something less toxic and scale back use of the toxic fire breathers in
And that's just one aspect of the overall problem anyway - depleted
fishers and dead zones in the ocean, toxic junk in the water supply,
etc. Serious issues that people don't want to think about I
guess. At least it would be nice if people would shut up about
the temperatures already - "It's getting warmer!" - "No it's not!" -
"People are ruining the planet!" - "No, people have no effect on the
planet!" - $^%$^$$#^$^$%!!!
"Where to go, Where to go...."
the time I came to Japan, there were tourism promotion posters that
used "Exotic Japan" as a theme, and it was indeed an adventuresome
place for me for the first two or three years. Then I began to
get used to it, and it was just an interesting place. After
twenty-two years though, it's just an ordinary place and other areas of
the globe now seem much more exotic, including some of the places I
lived in before coming here. I've been saying this same thing for
several years now, but the same line of thinking hits me again every
time I am in the position of showing a visitor something in Tokyo -
this time a man from China, which calls for a different mindset than
with people from the West.
Typically, tourists from Western countries are interested to one degree
or another in seeing the old aspects of Japan - the old temples and
whatnot - which often have their roots in old China (and the Akihabara
electronics district - always Akihabara!). So, I'm sitting here
tying to imagine what would be most interesting about Tokyo to a man
from Shanghai (who I'm sure has already been to Akihabara), and I'm
drawing a blank. Culturally and architecturally, Tokyo and
Shanghai have much more in common than Tokyo and San
Francisco/London/Amsterdam, etc. I guess I'll just have to make
up a list of possibilities and give the guy a list of choices.
With that in mind (in the order that they come to mind, not in the
order of significance:
1) The ramparts near Yotsuya Station. All a matter of viewpoint
whether this is interesting or just... just... something else:
2) The Tokyo Bay ferry that crosses... um... Tokyo Bay, from Kurihama
to Kaneya. Personally I always find this interesting and always
find myself wishing the trip was a little bit longer:
Well, there I go - getting warmed up to the idea of going out and
seeing/doing something other than the usual sardine run into
work! Yes! There is interest in this spot of the globe yet!
Now to get ready for yet another painful ride on the sardine runs to my
awaiting work desk....
"Tokyo - Night & Day"
Due to Tokyo being in the wrong time zone, people tend to be night owls
and daily ignore the first two to four hours of daylight (depending on
the season). Thus, getting off of work generally means walking
out into the Tokyo night. A few pictures of Tokyo's night streets
(and train stations) are posted here:
PS - I've also posted some (evening) pictures of Hibiya Park, here:
"The Galaxie Returns!"
When I was 17 in 1977, I bought a 1962 Ford Galaxie 500 (for $350) with
a four-barrel, dual-exhaust 390 that was coupled to a manual
transmission with an electro-mechanical overdrive. Some would say
the car was just a boat - good for plowing sloppily ahead, but not good
for turning or stopping. Weighing in at three tons (6,000
pounds), and with brakes that faded badly after just one hard stop,
that boat assessment is not without merit, but it was fast (getting
about six miles to a gallon of gasoline - it took vast amounts of fuel
to make it that way) and was a great cruiser.
I liked that model (61-64) a lot at the time (the 61 being the least
favorite, the 62 liked because I had it, the 63 looking meanest of the
four, and the 64 looking best overall), and still retain some of that
feeling, even though I would never want that car to be my daily
transportation now. In fact, I liked the car enough, that it used
to appear in my dreams over here in Japan - generally featuring me
discovering it parked on a nearby side street and thinking "My
Galaxie! It's not gone!" and waking up in a sea of worry about
what to do for parking and how to feed the monster here in Tokyo.
I thought I had gotten over that when I recalled - within a dream a few
years ago - how badly it handled and what lousy brakes it had,
prompting me to think "Naw... I don't really want this thing." but
I go to bed on the night of January 1st, 2007, and drift off to a world
with a sparkling 1962 Galaxie 500 in it and I am enchanted once
again... enjoying the dream until worries about insurance, parking
& fuel costs, etc. creep back into my consciousness. I wake
up on January 2nd in a cloud of worry about how to handle the ownership
of that six thousand pound armored car. As I think of what to do,
it dawns on me that I don't have to do anything, since it was just a
dream and I'm not responsible for that car any more.
What it all means, I don't know.... Recently, I'm more
anti-automobile than anything; not owning a fire-breathing monster of a
machine myself these days, and living in a quiet apartment that there
is talk of ruining by constructing a four-lane major road that would
run right by my window, as I contemplate the noise and toxic gasses
that would leak into my living space, I find myself thinking "Bloody
car owners! Let them walk! I hope fuel costs triple in
cost!", etc., sincerely hoping that the cost of private fire-breathing
machine ownership rises to the point where the number of cars on the
road decreases and there is no "need"(?) to ruin my living space for
the sake of the bloody machines.
I guess the car coming back in my dreams is a reflection of the
incredible experiences I had in that car - from first dates to band
hauling to accidents (with an 's') to winning acceleration races (that
pre-smog equipment Thunderbird four-barrel dual exhaust 390 pumped out
some serious power for 1977, when I was driving it) to drive-in movies
(four people could fit into the trunk) to (with the help of friends)
fixing the brakes, replacing the carburetor, generator (not an
alternator), starter motor, clutch throw-out bearing, etc. etc.
Modern tires and brakes, coupled with grippier road surfaces and
lighter cars have largely eliminated one hair-raising aspect to
motoring with 1960's US cars - the screeching of four tires grinding
off rubber as a very heavy car skids towards disaster while panic
braking. The sound of three tons of iron in a four-wheel skid is
an incredible sound - I remember one fine day when I had just steered
to the left to go around a slow moving car and I was beginning to
accelerate (a sudden occurrence in that car) - the slow car suddenly
turned left in front of me (with no turn signal or other warning) and I
jumped on the brakes putting the car into one of those four-wheel
SCREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEECH decelerations that brought out several people
from their houses - come to see blood and carnage no doubt - as that
sound would lead you to believe that something very bad had happened (I
drove slowly away from that near miss - amused by the people craning
their necks looking down the street past my car in vain for the wreck
they were sure had happened), and I remember how several times while
growing up in the sixties when I heard
"SCREEEEEEEEE-Crash/Smash/Bash!!!" and there would always be the
morbidly fascinating sight of two cars with varying degrees of bent up
metal and broken glass. But you have to expect that when there
are large fleets of over-horsepowered, under-tired and under-braked
cars with dismal handling out on the roads.
Back to riding on the crush-rush trains... no pleasant thing that, but
very predictable time and cost-wise. Psychologically though, I'm
not sure how high of a cost we Tokyo commuters are paying. I
guess if it isn't one thing, it's another...?
(In response to an e-pal's comments)
"Extra Bits Discarded..."
Re: "When I was a kid, we had
one. A 1964 with some beast of a motor."
Actually, my father bought one new in 1962 - but it was a practical
purchase, with a two-barrel 352, single exhaust, and automatic
transmission (and no air conditioning). I liked the car though,
and specifically looked for 62 Galaxies when I was looking to buy my
first car. The one I found with the Thunderbird engine, better
interior, overdrive transmission and air conditioning had quite a
different personality from my parents' car - and it was from the
California factory, while theirs was a 49-state car.
Re: "Many years later, my friend
Gordon had one. Not sure what year it was, but he demonstrated
the weight-assisted understeer by nearly plowing into a mobile home
sales lot after being frightened by a car-full of young ladies.
paragraph requires more explanation, but I'm pre-coffee."
Ha-ha! No, I think I can imagine very well! I almost
wrecked mine on the freeway once when a woman in the next car stood up
through the car's sunroof and displayed her pair of fine equipment for
everyone to see. Not sure what in the world that was about, but
it did divert my attention from the road.
Re: "The one thing I remember most
about our Galaxie was the air conditioning. In El Paso in the
summer, the temperature was often over 100 degrees. The A/C in
that car could get cold enough to see your own breath. We'd damn
near frost the windows."
Mine came with air-conditioning, but I was into the idea of power and
speed, so I pulled off the pump and assorted plumbing to both reduce
drag on the motor and overall weight (funny to think that I was
interested in making a 6,000 pound car lighter - what's the
point?!) Since the car came with air-conditioning though, there
was the extra venting unit that attached under the dash and also
handled heating - at least supplied heating until the heater core began
to leak and then steam blew into the car as I was arriving home one
day! What to do as a high school student with a three-day a week
four-hour a day part-time job? Buy a piece of hose and use it in
the engine compartment to bypass the leaking heater core! Instant
fix, but then my friends were less enthusiastic about riding in my
(suddenly heatless) car in the winter! Good thing it never snows
The other thing that broke was the power steering. It worked fine
when I bought it, but then the pump burned out and when I went to
junkyards looking for a replacement, I discovered that the combination
of the car's having come from the California factory and it having the
Thunderbird 390 with the manual overdrive transmission (quite a rare
combination I imagine) meant that the pumps I found on other Galaxies
didn't fit. I couldn't afford to order a new pump (would it even
have been available in 1977?), but when I thought about how the car was
fairly easy to steer in one direction, but not the other, I had a good
look under the engine and noticed that the power steering basically
worked by having what looked like a shock absorber pushing and pulling
on part of the steering rack. The rod of this unit was easy to
pull out (steering in the easy direction), but very difficult to force
in (steering in the difficult direction), so I just pulled the pump,
hoses, and that push-pull unit off and then the car was easy enough to
drive - sort of like old truck steering. The only (slightly)
unnerving aspect to the steering then was about three inches of
free-play - if you went from a left curve in the road to a right curve,
you had to first speed the steering wheel through the free-play zone to
catch steering again in the opposite direction.
So - by the time I sold the car, the engine was driving the wheels, the
generator, and water pump - but nothing else.
Re: "I can't imagine a Galaxie on
the streets anywhere in Japan, but I'd love to see it."
Yeah - I would actually like to have one here - if I had the space and
money to accommodate it! I've seen a few mustangs though, and I
saw a very nicely restored 64 (or 65, 66?) Impala once.
I like your free e-mail service and appreciate its existence, but there
are a couple of issues I'd like to ask you about.
1) Why is the English in Yahoo mail 180 degrees out of whack?
When I want to see the next message, I have to click on "Previous" and
when I want to see the previous message, I have to click on
"Next". Don't the people at Yahoo understand the concept of
reading (time sensitive) mail in chronological order?
2) Why is it that I have no problem receiving Japanese e-mail with your
favorite competitor's e-mail (GMail), but I get only garbled text with
Yahoo.com? This single issue - more than any other - is driving
me closer and closer to Google and and further and further from Yahoo.
Whatever happened to good design? There's a point where you have
to stop listening to every complaint made by users and actually make
intelligent decisions as to whether requests are nonsense or are
something worth paying attention to. If you say that this request
is nonsense, then I say that not only is your English 180 degrees out
of whack, but your reasoning powers are also 180 degrees out of whack.
2007 is much cooler looking number than 2006, so maybe we can expect a
cooler year to go along with the great-looking number? Let's hope