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Just Hangin' Out

I'm still trying to find a gift for my brother's wedding... in a week. I leave Japan in two days so I hope I see something nice in the airport gift-shop.

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I'm very grateful to a friend who lives nearby and has agreed to feed my birds while I am gone. I hope for her sake that Guri does not die. Not that it would be her fault, but it might make her feel bad... you know, the whole thing where she buys a bird that looks like Guri and hope I don't notice.

Actually if Guri dies it will probably because I stepped on her tonight. She seems fine now, but I'm sure she was flattened for at least a second.

***

I met the Frenchie from peace climb II for lunch today. I could hardly talk because my throat is so sore from arguing the case for having laws against a boss going to work every day and saying "hey babe... ain't I hot." Of course we didn't pick-up that topic today, instead we talked about how his co-worker woke me up (thought she doesn't know I woke up) when she put a blanket over me because my Yukata (the Japanese bathrobe we are all wearing in the photos) had come open in the middle of the night. Unfortunately I was wearing cheap Thai boxers with no button, so my fly also came open. To top it all off, it was morning.

Anyway, she doesn't know that I woke up when she put the blanket over me, so the pro-sexual harassment Frenchie and I discussed what would be the best (funniest) way for him to bring this little tid-bit up when he got back to work. Now that I think about it though... I probably just encouraged a big'ole case of sexual harassment.

The photos from this incident are available for only $19.95 for the first minute, and 9.95 each additional minute.

Peace Climb II

Don't know why I'm writing this since I have too much to do before I leave Wednesday. I guess one reason is that I am running away from everything I think i have to do. I find that this method really weeds out all the unnecessary crap. If I wait until the day before, I don't have much time, so it helps me to decide what really needs to be done. And I have never had any problems yet because I didn't so something.

***

I spent a great weekend hiking in the mountains of Yamanashi, near Oottsuki. It was kind of a °»sequel°… to the peace climb a couple months ago. Most of the members from that trip didn't show up, but the organizer was the same.

We woke up early and caught the train to Ootuki where we arrived at just around noon. Some people wanted to skip the hiking all together and just go straight to the inn where all the beer and Gold-flake-filled sake we could dream of was waiting. There was an idea floating around to make the big hike the next day instead. This didn't really seem realistic since if all went according to plan no one would be able to stand the next day. We made the hike that day. What was supposed to be a 3 hour hike turned into a 5 hour hike as it seems some distances were severely miss-judged. To make things worse, I didn't pack water because I have never been anyplace in Japan without a vending machine within 100 meters. This time however, when we got to the °»start°… of the climb, there was not a vending machine in sight. Everyone else only packed a 16oz bottle of water each so I was sure we would all be dehydrated and die at the top.

Obviously we didn't all die.

The hike was great... saw Fuji at one point, drank water from a suspicious hose that we found in the middle of the mountain, even though we had no idea where it originated, and made it back to the booze, hot bath, and great meal by 6:00.

The main highlight of the night was finding out that French and English people are gung-ho in support of sexual harassment at work. (it's my site so I can summarize their arguments however I want). I found that I am the most loved American alive by French standards, and I feel terribly guilty for unplugging the Karaoke box and causing one poor drunk bastish to try and fix it all night so he could sing a song.

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More photographic highlights here.
Peace Climb II

I spent a great weekend hiking in the mountains of Yamanashi, near Oottsuki. It was kind of a °»sequel°… to the peace climb a couple months ago. Most of the members from that trip didn't show up, but the organizer was the same.

We woke up early and caught the train to Ootuki where we arrived at just around noon. Some people wanted to skip the hiking all together and just go straight to the inn where all the beer and Gold-flake-filled sake we could dream of was waiting. There was an idea floating around to make the big hike the next day instead. This didn't really seem realistic since if all went according to plan no one would be able to stand the next day. We made the hike that day. What was supposed to be a 3 hour hike turned into a 5 hour hike as it seems some distances were severely miss-judged. To make things worse, I didn't pack water because I have never been anyplace in Japan without a vending machine within 100 meters. This time however, when we got to the °»start°… of the climb, there was not a vending machine in sight. Everyone else only packed a 16oz bottle of water each so I was sure we would all be dehydrated and die at the top.

Obviously we didn't all die.

The hike was great... saw Fuji at one point, drank water from a suspicious hose that we found in the middle of the mountain, even though we had no idea where it originated, and made it back to the booze, hot bath, and great meal by 6:00.

The main highlight of the night was finding out that French and English people are gung-ho in support of sexual harassment at work. (it's my site so I can summarize their arguments however I want). I found that I am the most loved American alive by French standards, and I feel terribly guilty for unplugging the Karaoke box and causing one poor drunk bastish to try and fix it all night so he could sing a song.

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$%!##!

I'll be waiting to hear some news from Egypt soon. One of the loyal followers of my antics on the bastish net should be arriving there (or have already arrived) soon. She mentioned that she was looking for a way to make her own blog, and I'm afraid I wasn't so helpful. I think I'll set up a way for her to use my site if she wants it. (Another thing on my to do list). It should be interesting to hear the stories of a teacher form Wisconsin in Egypt. Incidentally, when I say "teacher from Wisconsin" most of my readers probably have an image of a WELS teacher so I would like to clarify... she's not WELS.

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t's unbelievable how much bull-crap Japanese companies can get away with because no one complains. Yesterday I had to pay a $20 fine at the video store for being two days late. I asked the guy if anyone ever complains about that outrageous penalty, and he looked bewildered. "Of course not!"

This is not the first time that store has tried to rip me off. Once I returned a video a couple hours late (after the store had closed). Of course it is natural to be charged for one day's late fee. But they charged me for every day until I paid the late fee. Of course I didn't know they where doing this, so several days passed before they called me to "remind" me. I was working at a consumer finance company at that time, and knew the law... this was totally illegal!

If I don't return the video, they have every right to charge me late fees because they cant rent it to anyone else, but seeing as it was on their shelf the next morning, and anyone is free to rent it, they were not loosing anymore money. So, in effect, the "late fee" I was paying for every day until I actually paid was actually interest. Now being in consumer finance, I knew that the maximum legal interest rate was 29%. How can they get away with charging me 100% interest on my overdue late-fee? It's very simple. No one complains. Consumers take crap from companies and assume they have no choice.

On a side note, I wonder if charging such outrageous late-fees doesn't actually cause the store to loose money. I will never be late again after this. So they have my 20$ and never more. If however, the late fee had been more reasonable, if there is ever a time when it would be difficult to get to the movie back on time, I wouldn't think so hard maybe about "renting" it for another day.

If I should die...

The servers seem to be working fine now. The exact same problem popped up last year at the exact same time while I was on vacation in Vancouver with Tomoe. I spent my vacation nights on the phone giving instructions on how to work with the server. Luckily this time it is all fixed before I go home.

***

I had a wonderful chat with a phone salesman tonight who wanted me to rent an expensive new apartment. I told him I have no money and he said "no problem... you can get a loan". I started chatting with him and pretty soon we were planning to open a new company together that would rent great apartments for people with no money and no loan, and we would also allow pets and loud music in the middle of the night. I thought we were really on to something after about 5 minutes of discussing pit plans, but when I asked him his name so I could hire him as my sales manager he hung up on me.

***

Tomoe has gone home and left the birds. She was supposed to stay here and take care of them while I am in the US. Now I have to find someone else... If you are living in Tokyo and I know your number, don't be surprised...

***

After making several appointments with University of Michigan Information Science people, and then canceling them one by one as I realized my schedule, I finally got one day where I think I can actually make it. Of course I also wanted to go to the dentist... Japanese dentists SUCK!!!! (I am only speaking on my own personal experience) It has been way too long since I have seen a dentist (just over a year I think) because the last one I went to couldn't even read his chart without help... how can I trust him to work in my mouth!!! I have had only bad experiences with Japanese doctors as well. Once I was told I had a deadly condition. Luckily out of the group of students who had their physical at the same time as me, 10% of them also were diagnosed with the same rare condition. I was the 5th person to see the doctor, and had already spoken to the other people who had been given the bad news.... by that time I was expecting it. I did feel sorry for that first guy though... think of how scared he must have been.

We are all still alive.

:-)

Don't be supprised if the bastish net goes down for a day or so. I had a little trouble with the server at work today, and spent most of the day working on it. Unfortunatly, the bstish net isn't a paying customer, which means it has to wait until everyone else is taken care of.

Be careful at the rehersal

Whoa... if I didn't happen to look at my site today, I would not have noticed that it has almost been a week since my last update. Thing is, while I guess just as much has been happening as when I was more avid about writing, for some reason I am incredibly bored with it all. If it isn't interesting to me, I can't see how it can be interesting to anyone else.

***

I was able to make an appointment with some people from University of Michigan about the School of Information, but found out later that I have to be at a rehearsal for the wedding on that day. This makes me wonder about the rehearsal... how can they rehearse getting married without actually (accidentally?) getting married then? Or does the pastor stamp an official document at the moment he pronounces them man and wife on the real wedding day? If so, why have I never seen him stamp anything before... on TV they always just kiss and that's that. It would appear that the actual "marriage" takes place when they say "I do". Or do they not rehearse the "I do" part at the rehearsal? When it comes to that part, do they just say cough or something? It will be interesting to see what makes the big difference is between rehearsal and the real thing.

***

One thing that wasn't boring... I had dinner with someone I know has had the laser eye surgery a few years ago and loves the results... I have always thought about it since I was a kid. Of course at that time I didn't have any money so I dismissed it. That dismissal stuck with me and I never noticed when it actually became possible. I should start to think about that again. With such a surgery, why do so many people still wear glasses?

On a similar note, at the same dinner, there was a Audiologist working in Japan for a company that makes surgical implants that actually allow deaf people to hear. What is amazing is that even though this exists, and in Japan it is fully paid for by insurance, so many people that could benefit don't do it. Same as my eye surgery?

***

The birds are healthy.

More chronic dissatisfaction

Recent things eating my time follow:

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I have been doing hours of research into the whole library idea, and it looks wonderful. It uses everything I love about my job now, and also many things I would love a chance to do at my job now. It does not require me to be a full-on geek and have a relationship with my computer that God would frown upon. (as do computer science programs)

***

I have been trying to get in touch with some people or faculty in the Information Science program at University of Michigan (which seems to be a hands down leader in Library science together with internet stuff). I wrote to the rougelibrarian whom I wrote about a couple days ago, and she informed me that she was not the most famous graduate of the UM program (I told her she was the most famous graduate I knew of because of one of her projects I have been aware of for some time) In fact, the man who is considered a founder of the field of Information Architecture graduated from UM and is actually based in Ann Arbor, where he founded a pretty famous IA consulting company. I knew the name, but never knew the relationship to Ann Arbor.

***

I have been reading about how that famous IA consulting company was forced to close because companies just don't spend money on Information Architecture anymore. I have also been reading about all the people who are IA specialists and out of work. Is it a good choice to study this? Actually the more I read about it, the more it is exactly what I want to study. Sure the prospects sound bleak, but it is still an extremely new field in the US, and guess what.... From looking at Japanese websites, it is pretty clear that it has not yet made it's way to Japan. Hmmm.... I speak Japanese...

***

Since I am writing to people in the IA field, and I would like to include a link to the bastish net, I have been making changes to the site that my regular 5 readers will probably not notice, but other people might... I would have been embarrassed to show it as it was. Some things I did was correct as much of the markup so that it (almost) validates as xhtml. I also made whatever changes I could to validate as accessible for people with disabilities. I don't think any of my readers are blind, but it is a professionalism issue for me.

***

The new guy started at work today. I am trying to train him right. Hopefully I can get him to make websites that we can be proud of. As it is I am pretty embarrassed to put the URL of projects I have worked on at my job in my resume. Even though I am responsible for the back-end programming, and database, (both of which kick-arse) what really must stick in peoples mind is the front end design and layout which in most cases is, though not total crap, definitely not something I would be proud of if I had made it.

Secret Holiday

I found out last week that next week is a big Japanese holiday and everyone has it off. My boss was keeping it a secret from me. Even though I will be going in to the office, since all the clients will be on vacation, I should have more time to start fixing my site. When I first created this a few months ago, I was just experimenting with some new fun stuff I was learning about, and I was happy with the results at that time, but the more I learn the more I grow to detest the Bastish Net. There is so much that needs to be done to bring this up to an even semi-professional looking level...

***

I will also be having fun training the new guy who starts Monday. This will be interesting, and I have great hopes for him as he seems soooo much more motivated to do great work, and sees the value of study so much more clearly than our current “copy-pasters”. He could actually be a “developer”.

***

Awii has started singing now... until just recently she was a pretty quiet bird. Luckily her voice is a little nicer than Guri's heavy-smoker raspy screech.

Travel Advisory
Koh Phi Phi, the jewel-like twin isles made famous by the Hollywood film °»The Beach,°… have been so badly polluted that the Tourist Police has proposed closing them down for up to two years... Samui island... received 837,000 international visitors last year, is running perilously low on water and last month the waterworks opened its pipes just an hour a day. from Thursday's Japan Times

I know someone out there among my many readers must be planning a trip to Thailand. I don't know about Koh Phi Phi, but I may have recommended a trip to Koh Tao —a small island a couple hours away from Samui by ferry for scuba-diving. It has only been about 5 years since I was there, and Koh Samui was not exactly paradise at that time, but at least they had water. I wonder if the back side of the Koh Tao where we had a great time scuba diving in a class of six on a crowdless beach is looking like the front side now... full of dive factories with upwards of 30 people per class.

oops.

Little trouble at work yesterday. I accidentally sent the wrong person's user name and password to 2000 of our clients customers. Technically, this is a small problem. I simply changed the user name and password that was sent to the 2000 people. From a user standpoint however this should be pretty big. They are probably wondering now if their password and user name was sent to other people as well. Although there have been a few questions, and nothing seems too be a tremendous problem yet, I am feeling sick waiting for the rest of it to hit. Every time the phone rings I wince.

***

I am happy to report that Awii, unlike Guri, loves to eat all kinds of fresh vegetables. She is supposed to live longer anyway, as cockatiels do, but considering that Guri eats seeds exclusively, I think Guri will only live half of the parakeet life expectancy.

***

By the way, I do read each and every comment that is posted in the photo section.

***

I don't think I will make it to the Hash tonight, since I have been playing too much lately and staying at work later because of little incidents like yesterday, so I have a ton of my own project work to take care of tonight

***

I noticed some of the links from yesterday's post where messed up. I fixed them.

Kevin the Librarian

As anyone who reads my site knows, I have been quite °»down°… lately... surely unsatisfied. If you have been religiously reading, you also know that it is because I am unsatisfied with my job and basically not knowing where I should go from here (not necessarily meaning what job to go to next, but rather, in the big picture, how to I proceed to move forward?).

Well, I great thing happened. I had been having a conversation earlier where I described my current skill sets as only tools... being able to communicate in Japanese is for some people an goal... these people become translators, interpreters etc. I'm not saying they °»stop°… there —I would have to study for another ten years to reach that level— but only that it is not a goal for me. That is why I don't feel such a tremendous pressure to learn 2,000 more kanji.

The same is true for my CGI and database programming. I love doing it, and I love learning it and putting what I learn to practical use, just like the Japanese. But also like the Japanese, I don't feel the desire or need to become a complete programming geek. I had once (not too long ago) thought about going to school for computer science, but as interesting as it is, I think there are some things that are more important to me than being able to write my own operating system.

This is where I come to the °»tool°… conclusion. Japanese and programming are both skills I view as helpful tools, but not something I have to be a top authority on. If this is so, then what do I use these tools for?

It doesn't take a genius to see that both Japanese and Perl are languages... One is a human language the other a programming language. So what good are languages than to convey information? In that respect, graphic design is also a language of sorts. It is also obvious to people who see the majority of my work, that a great deal of it has to do with organizing, sorting, and retrieving data, hopefully for a useful purpose. I am at this very moment taking a break from making a web-based °»Work flow / production tracking°… application. My main interest with more front-end web-production is in usability and accessibility, This site itself is the very first learning step (all be it in the wrong direction, as anyone who knows about that stuff can see) in trying to achieve both of those. Although it may not be obvious to most people by just looking at it, the way it is made (should) make the information and data more accessible to people more people on different devices such as voice browsers for blind people etc...(this is why it looks like crap on some browsers —I sacrifice visual consistency for accessibility— of course to anyone who really knows, they will see many flaws in this site...) In the same way, Japanese, though perhaps less obvious, allows me to retrieve data and knowledge from a different sort of database... Japanese people and society.

Armed with this new understanding about what I was actually doing with my °»tools°…, I decided to find out what other people do with similar tools, and how they developed those tools. A little searching came up with library science, so I searched for librarian's web-logs since a web-log can give me the most personal look at the life of someone whom I don't know. Lo and behold, I came across the rougelibrarian. Why is this interesting? Because I am actually quite familiar with one of her WOW projects, and use it often for my own work!

A little further reading, and I discover that she does work very similar to what I really want to use my own skills for. A little further reading, and I see she graduated with a masters from University of Michigan School of Information so I checked out that site, and find that they study and research exactly the type of things that I am interested in creating WOW in. From information communicated in images (art.. and marketing) to web-sites and content management, they seem to utilize most of my tools. A look at the career section, the jobs advertised there, and the jobs that the alumni hold was quite motivating too, since most of them seemed to be jobs I could make some really kick-ass WOW in. Unlike business school, and computer science grads who, for the most part wind up in (high-paying) jobs in areas that are interesting, but not even close to what I would feel comfortable in. Although I have toyed with the idea of business school for marketing, computer science, art or design, I never felt I could be sure of any of them 100%, never felt that they gave the whole picture...

I must say that becoming a librarian seems quite promising. More on this later to be sure...

Veggies

I spent the weekend just hanging around with Tomoe. Ate healthier than I have in a while since with two people I can buy more veggies and tofu and such without worrying that it will get rotten if I can't finish it by myself... not that I ever really worried so much about having rotten food in my fridge (I was trained well by my mom that you must never throw anything away no matter how stale or old it is) Other than that, not much happening. Guri and Awii are pretty happy to have Tomoe around since she plays with them even ore than I do if that is possible.

***

I guess I better get going on that toast for Tim's wedding.

***

I am actaully writing this in the morning before work starts, so maybe I will write more later tonight.

Lots of regurgitated content

I know, I know... the single most important aspect for a web-site is to keep it updated. I could say I was busy, but it would be a lie. I was going to update last night, but happened to check out The Onion and found that they
had updated. I spent the rest of the night laughing. What a great site! Just some of the highlights:

Getting Mom Onto Internet A Sisyphean Ordeal

"I got an e-mail from her yesterday that seemed to be okay," Karen continued. "There was a picture of the family cat attached, so I was happy to see that she'd mastered the art of forwarding stuff. But then she accidentally sent me the exact same e-mail seven more times. Lord only knows what she'll fuck up tomorrow."

Judge Orders God To Break Up Into Smaller Deities

"The evidence introduced in this trial has convinced me that the deity known as God has willfully and actively thwarted competition from other deities and demigods, promoting His worship with such unfair scare tactics as threatening non-believers with eternal damnation,"

Attorneys for God did not deny such charges. They did, however, note that God offers followers "unbeatable incentives" in return for their loyalty, including eternal salvation, protection from harm, and "fruitfulness."

McDonald's Drops 'Hammurderer' Character From Advertising

the uproar over the latest commercial, in which Birdie The Early Bird is garroted by the Hammurderer and her body tossed in a Dumpster, was vociferous enough to prompt the fast-food giant to pull the plug.

This is not the first time a McDonald's character has stirred controversy for its violent nature. In 1982, the company introduced "Shakes McJunkie," an emaciated addict who robbed characters of their possessions, which he then sold to buy McDonald's shakes. He was later reworked as "The Machead," a homeless, wild-eyed Big Mac addict who turned to panhandling and gay prostitution as a means of supporting his severe burger habit.

The Hammurderer is quickly becoming regarded as the worst-received advertising mascot since Kool-Aid's 1989 discontinuation of "The Grapist," a huge purple monster who sodomizes thirsty children.

Pope Forgives Molested Children

"As Jesus said, 'Let he who is without sin cast the first stone,'" the pope continued. "We must send a clear message to these hundreds?perhaps thousands?of children whose sinful ways have tempted so many of the church's servants into lustful violation of their holy vows of celibacy. The church forgives them for their transgressions and looks upon them not with intolerance, but compassion."

"For months, I feared that my boy?and the dozens of others who committed sinful acts with Father Halloran before he was moved to the safety of another parish to protect him from further temptation at their pre-pubescent hands?was going to Hell for what he'd done,"

***

I have also been listening to some Talk of The Nation and The Connection. Every time I see the summary of a story that I think will not be so interesting, I listen to it anyway and these turn out to be great. Take a show about coal mining. I wasn't expecting much... after all I can't really say I'm interested in mining, but once I start listening, I learn so much that I never even could have decided that I want to learn. Sometimes though, they glaze over some things that seem most interesting. For instance, in this show, they focused on the environmental effects of mining, where they "chop off the top of a mountain" and the impossibility of reducing the amount of mining done because we all want our air-conditioners of course. However, there was one comment mentioned in passing about how the mining companies are actually mining more than they can sell. I really wish someone had picked up on that. I guess I have to research myself... The mining manager's main point however was that mining is needed to feed the energy hunger of America... and that it is America's fault, not the mining company, but if they are mining more than they can actually sell, what's the story there?

Another thing that I liked about this show was that it made me feel a little less °»crazy°… for not having used my air-conditioner yet this year. And it... is... hot! I am really worried about my great new (used) chair I got a few months ago. It must be soaking up so much sweat every night, and yet there is really no way to clean it.

***

An awesome show about Sesame Stories (Sesame Street) in Israel and Palestine. I was asked recently what °…WOW°… is. Well, this is a WOW! project. How do they make a show that is credible to the children, not painting everything peachy pink, and yet teach them conflict resolution skills, all at the same time, being free from making political statements. The speaker mentioned one skit in which an Israeli Muppet and a Palestinian Muppet argue over a can of water. Both want it and the goal of the skit is to get the kids to think about different ways the situation could be resolved. They didn't mention how the conflict in the script was resolved, but I can't see any resolution that would not also have some political stance behind it. Obviously they can't have one or the other keep all the water, but even sharing it is taking a stance. I would really love to see these shows. (I sometimes find myself watching the Japanese Sesame Street... it's quite interesting)

***

Well, Tomoe should be here in an hour or so so I should mop the floor or something...

***

I just found this interesting photo I took a few years ago... a prize goes to anyone who can name which poor animal this came from.

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Japanese Culture--In Yo Face!

As much as I complain, every day at work just gets more and more interesting. As I mentioned a week or so ago in one of my posts, the more I lay off on trying to get people to pay attention to the things done that need to be paid attention to, and think about the things that need to be thought about, the more they do it themselves. Of course everyone “knows” that Japanese people are group oriented and Americans are selfish, thinking only about the individual, but this is the first time it has ever been so evident to me in the 5 years I have spent in Japan.

Today, there was a meeting called by a co-worker who has really started to do great... he is much better at getting the Japanese people to do what needs to be done than I am. The meeting was about something that is so obvious (and to me it was so obvious a year ago that it would never get done unless I did it) that I had all but given up on it. Finally someone else realized that the presentations that we give to the clients should <gasp> look professional. No more of the power-point presentations made after only reading three chapters of Power Point for Idiots... No! The meeting today was about the fact that since we are supposed to have designers, we should have nice presentations.

I'm getting off the point though... the point is, although I tried to get the designers (I'm not supposed to be doing design) to work on the presentations over a year ago... in a last ditch effort, (I know it is probably bad management style) I took over and made an acceptable presentation, thinking that if I can't get them to understand my ideas (I had begun to doubt my ability to express my ideas in Japanese) I would lead by example. Well, that example finally came up over a year later as the “new” motivation guru used my example to do something that I would have never guessed was necessary. He called a meeting... an hour long meeting... to get a consensus that we do in fact need to have professional looking presentations. Why it would take an hour to convince people of this I have no idea... In the hour nothing in particular was decided... not the format of the presentations... not who would do it... nothing but the fact that we need it. Every day is interesting.

Rereading what I just wrote, it sounds like more complaining... it's not... I am actually excited about seeing this whole group mentality that I have only read about until now. I think everyone knew that we should make better presentations, but no one was willing to make a better one unless everyone agreed to do it. If only I had known this a year ago... Although it seemed like a waste of 50 minutes, since it should only take 10 minutes at most to agree that “yes, we need professional presentations”, if it had happened a year ago, it would have saved so much more time that was spent on half-ass work.

My only worry now is that half of our “designers” (we only have two) are really only capable of reproducing HTML that someone else has designed. It's not her fault of course... when she was hired (before I was there even) my company specialized in taking US web-sites, and reproducing them in Japanese for the Japan branch. This of course required no original design skills, and she is great at pasting Japanese text in as long as there is nothing technical to consider. When we have those jobs, she is plenty fast enough to make profit.

This is something that not too long ago I may have had a change of heart about... though I am not yet sure. I was talking with a friend (I think the fact that he is French has some baring on his view of work so I will mention it... he is French) and we were discussing what an employee's duties are, and what they aren't. My view then was that the employee should learn... strive to get better, add skills, adapt with the company. His view was that if they are hired for one thing, and the company wants the employee to change, they have to pay more. The employee is only responsible for what they were hired for. I'm not really sure where I stand now... If he is right, I think that the fact that someone is working at the company with obsolete skills is not the persons fault, and they shouldn't be punished for it. They should simply be fired. For the company to keep someone on who was hired for position A and then press them and push them to adapt to position B, without offering anything “extra” the company is actually breaking the contract, because the contract says nothing abut adapting. Of course, the person has no right to expect to keep their position if the position itself is no longer needed at the company. Perhaps to be fair to the person, they should be let go so they can find a company that does have a position for them.

I must be a jerk.

***

I am listening to a show on The Connection about expat life. It's amazing to me how much they mystify it and make it sound so magical... To me it is only normal. Although they are focusing on Eastern Europe after the fall of communism, everything they say is true of life in Japan as well, and probably everywhere else that an American might go to live besides America. They talk about how people get jobs they wouldn't qualify for at home and dorks get women they could never get at home... sound exactly like my life to the tee. They also mention the fact that one's circle of friends has so much variety because every foreigner there, no matter how different from each other, are closer than they are to the native inhabitants. Sure, I got a job as a techie guru despite the fact that I didn't know how to change the default home page on my browser before I started... and sure I have an amazing, driven, smart, girlfriend whom (although I deserver :-) ) it would have been difficult to meet and prove that to back home since I was not in law or medical school, but I think the greatest benefit about being here in Japan, is that I now have close friends all over the world. In addition, I have friends from so many backgrounds that I can't imagine meeting in the US... diplomats, presidents of companies (not just my own company), writers, camera-people, scientists, engineers, reporters, you name it, I probably know someone who does it.

***

Just got a call from Tomoe. Only one-and-a-half days left.

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