died in the wool ______

To have no set purpose in one's life is the harlotry of the will -Stephen Mackenna-

Thursday, February 24, 2005

You don't have a Mitsubishi phone?

Alright this is my 7th office observation, but I'm not going to continue the titled theme for this one because of the obvious abbreviation cliche.

One thing about working for an electronics maker is that, in order to promote themselves, their headquarters will necessarily be a showcase of there technologies in practice. Let me give you a rundown:

I walk into the office building greeted by the rent-a-cop who guards are building (even before 9/11 we had this apaprently, some freak disgruntled employee went ape-poo apparently) And we are illuminated by the penetratingly bright Mitsubishi Electric florescent lights. Since my office is only on the second floor, I take the stairs to my office. Most employees, though, use the 7 or 8 Mitsubishi Electric elevators that take them to their offices (the elevators for some reason make different tones when they are doing different actions (a certain tone when it is approching the floor going up as opposed to down, etc.) so the hallway around the elevator can often times be this abberant minimalist orchestra. I've seriously thought about recording it) As I walk into the PR department (also Mitsubishi lighting) NHK is on mute on a ME flat screen television. I sit down to my desk on turn on my computer that has a mitsubishi monitor when suddenly there's a call from our agency on my Mitsubishi phone. Some sensitive documents need to be thrown away, so, passing by the other Mitsubishi CRT television with a Mitsubishi VCR and DVD underneath it, I go over to the Mitsubishi 'Ms Shredder' to get rid of the documents. Now that my hands are all dirty, I go to the bathroom to wash my hands and dry them with the, yep you guessed it, Mitsubishi ecological air hand dryer. It runs on Mitsubishi Batteries.

The office is somewhat of a museum of the different markets that the company have attempted and moved in and out of (the 'Ms. Shredder' looks like it was made before i was born)

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Miyazaki Luv

You can never really observe your own culture until you've lived in another one, they often say.

And in that vein, I took to reading what lonely planet has to say about the US (press releases are a little slow in coming this week)

Japan has more or less become a culture of my own (I certainly don't need a lonely planet guide anyway), so I dropped by to see what they had to say.

What was most interesting is that Miyazaki made the list, not once, but twice. Now Miyazaki is certainly off the beaten track, and I can think of many reasons to go to Miyazaki (and even Nobeoka), but it would be a waste if you went all the way down there just to go to Seagaia, a white elephant 'beach by the beach' that closes in the winter (?) that is being spiced up by a foreign investment company. It has a golf course of some repute, but the hotel is awful (this 'world class' hotels hallways aren't air conditioned)

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Yesterday, I received a phone call from someone from the Irish press. He mentions that an Irish (with a name like Niall Murtagh what else could he be?) drifter (that lived worked at our company is publishing a book about his work experience here.

Now, this passed by my desk a few months ago, and at that time, my supervisor had no idea who he was. Often times, when our US offices send us media coverage from the states it often times isn't related to Mitsubishi ELECTRIC, but to one of the many other Mitsubishi companies (We've only got the name in common, nothing else!)

Now that the media was calling us and asking us (the Irish guy said 'There are not
that many Irish people in Japan (about 1000 I believe) and fewer still who
make any headway beyond English teaching or missionary work'. I don't think that's true for just the Irish ;-)), so I have to respond to this. Through much crafty reserach it turns out that he was an engineer at our reserach lab near Osaka.

My supervisor said something along the lines of 'You'll never be able to get a hold of him', which is more or less true. I can barely get ahold of people in 財務 upstairs. Kansai is just a different world.

Anyway, read the book folks! It's being released in the UK Aprilish.

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Wednesday, February 23, 2005

OO 5

My office is directly across the road from the current location of the 文部科学省. I really like where my office is, but every month or so, some group comes to protest something. And the nature of protesting is to be loud. Up until now, my experience has just been the normal groups of students raising their fists saying 反対 (we oppose)! Recently, however, a party of one with a huge truck and PA system attatched parks out front, stands in the back flatbed, and yells at the building.

I don't want to sound apathetic, but just *one* of you? What about strength in numbers?

He then ends his rant with 'thank you very much'. The Japanese are *so* polite!

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Tuesday, February 22, 2005


Christo's gates are having quite a few parodies made of it.

Maybe I'm just not new york cynical enough, but if Christo wants to pay out of pocket to make the world a more magical place for a couple weeks, then I say let him.

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Applying results of a study where two spoonfuls of meat and seeing increases in muscle mass for malnourished children in Africa to Western countries that must have meat every time they sit down to eat to consider it a meal is apalling.

I would like to see a study that points out when meat stops creating muscle and starts causing heart diesease, athlersclerosis, and rampant obesity.

Animal rights aside, the raising and producing of animals for food is a huge burden on the environment causing dishealth in most of the people that demand it so much.

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Friday, February 18, 2005

Office observations 4

An emai in work inbox today told me that Shizuoka is going to become a designated city

Which means for the people of the city that they will now have 区's

But this is signifigant because 区's (ku) pretty much are a mark of urbanity. Japan is funny that way, you can really tell about where someone is from by the terms they use. People that have 区役所 (kuyakusho) roll out of their mouth when talking to you, oh the sound so urban. On the other hand, people who talk about 役場 (yaku ba's), which are only in non-cities/designated cities gives the opposite feeling.

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Thursday, February 17, 2005

estonian ad

Wonder what Orwell's world would be like if it tried to take a stab at capitalism? Estonian ads that awkwardly, eeirily, and hilariously try to do exactly that.The first one seems to be an ad for ground chicked, but looks like a nightmare with the washed out colors, jerky camera pans from extruder, to chicken, to women eating chicken. It's even more so with the sound on. Check out the pinguin one. What is she DOING to that ice cream cone, and why the manical face? And what's with the white dribble on the cone?

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Work Observations 3

I think I've come to the realization that my department is stiff and cold(かたい and 冷たい for those in the know).

For example. My whole department always adresses emails to me with 殿. 殿(tono) actually means 'lord', as in a lord of a manner. Now as you can imagine, this is not a frequently used word. The first time I ever saw it being used was when I came back from the pharmacy, and the bag had my name and 殿 written after it.

When I started working here, it seemed so strange that my department used it. Working in city hall, I never saw it being used. 様 was about as far as anybody went.

I work with these people everyday, why do they have to be so formal?

What I've started noticing is that it seems we never use 殿 with people outside of our department. Now that makes no sense to me. I was tacking 殿 onto everything, and I just never saw other people using it.

The attractive guy in the ad department, conversely uses 君 with me all the time. My supervisor was like 'guess he knows whose in charge!', but from the usage I've seen of 君 (guys who are equals and good friends) It felt friendly to me.

I'm beginning to think that perhaps 殿 has somewhat of a 'comrade' meaning to it.

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Thursday, February 10, 2005

damn right!

I'm sure east coast snoberati will snuff their collective noses, but I don't care, this article is spot on. And I quote:

Let's face it. Des Moines will never be Minneapolis.

Whether California 'trumps' Minneapolis is HIGHLY questionable. In what way? cars per citizen?

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Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Office observations 2

So as my new neighbor poofed into the department, it became apparent to me that the desk that he took over to me, it having been used for the departmental scanner for sometime, had never been occupied by an actual employee in some time, if ever.

This became even more apparent as, in efforts to clear out the desk the reams of paper that emerged from his desk, all some how related to to overseas PR.

Now sure it was funny and amusing to run across old press releases from 1998, about old company presidents talking about things that aren't important anymore

But as I was removing staples and x-ing out sheets so the department can use the back side in the printers, I came across old job applications for my position. It was just entertaining at first. I actually found someone who applied several years back who lived in my prefecture in a town next to mine.

But then I started getting into the applications of the group that was in competition with me, and part of me wanted to see, and part of me not only felt shouldn't but DIDN'T want to look. I actually did have to look at them (having to x out each and every page, yes our office IS that thorough!). It was kind of creepy to see how the decision was made. Still as I looked at all the applications it was kind ennervating. One applicant, who was actually recommended by my predecessor, had notes on his resume from my boss like 'not JET' and 'Japanese is really not very good', etc. I do remember my boss telling me that he said I had an excellent first interview (my resume was NOT in the stack). I remember him mentioning my competition in passing at that time, but to see all of the resumes 'on file' (not to self about 'on file'-ness!) it was kind of strange (many of them had headshots). And then I promptly x-ed them out, and put them in the reuse box. How metaphoric!

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Thursday, February 03, 2005

Office Observations

The thing about working for a huge fortune 500 Japanese company is you see some things that I don't think you would see in an American office. Please bare in mind that I have never actually WORKED in an American office, so what that actually means to me is really based on my parents/friends work experiences, and movies.....like Office Space, etc.

For example, I am on an editing committee for a group magazine. Last week the head of the committee was suddenly *poof!* at the desk right next to me! When I asked my supervisor who will soon be retiring what he was doing there after my bucho's vague description he gritted his teeth and snarled 'I DON'T KNOW'. Lesson 1: Don't question the corporate machine. They will tell you if it's necessary for you to know.

The same person was speaking to my supervisor. My supervisor said 'remember those invitation cards? Well we're using them as scratch paper now!' To which the 'new' guy replied 'Ah, those. they've been lying around for more than 10 years. Maybe more than 15!' Now the only way for them to know such a slight detail would mean for them to have actually WORKED for this company for that long. And that's at a minimum. My ADHD blood curdles at the thought. Lesson 2: Lifetime Employment; Remember, you're here forever.

But the bitch about lifetime employment, is that it's a misnomer. You are employed until a certain age, at which you MUST retire. And in very Japanese style, there are no exceptions. Period. Despite what I've heard certain people say in a defensive way ('even if I could stay I wouldn't want to', etc.), it's clear that, the company is their life, has guided them over 40 years across three different continents, and that without the company, they will be 'living in a cardboard box in shinjuku'. Lesson 3: Lifetime employment ain't so lifetime.

And as Japanese men age, through all that cigarette smoking, and shochu drinking with no excercise and the stress racked lifestyle meanwhile supporting their society shrinking 1.2 children and paying off the huge house loan (making tokyo one of the most sprawled and low urban areas in at least the developed world) that they will inevitably do, they take on a certain... fragrance is far too polite. They smell, plain and simple. How can they not baring the above description? This is widely known. So well known, in fact, I saw a show where the goal was to reduce the old man smell (oyaji kusai) of a certain person's father. They made him eat leaves, and put things in his shoes, etc. And apparently with whatever insturment they were using he smelled less. Lesson 4: Old men smell

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So I've been out of comission for the last few days because of a horrible bout of either stomach flu or food poisoning (I ate some half grilled yakitorii last friday with my coworker)

Now it's been ages since I've had stomach problems. Childhood I believe.

And as a child, whenever I had stomach problems I was always put on the BRAT diet:

Ricecakes (the American kind, mind you)

I briefly forgot about the BRAT diet, and thought I could drink some orange juice, which the same coworker who ate the raw yakitori with me graciously bought and brought to my apartment, to pep myself up. After my body 'rejected' that, to put it lightly, the BRAT diet came back to me. It seems so obvious. My doctor who overprescribed worthless medicene simply said 'eat things that won't upset your stomach, like soup'. How vague. BRAT lays it all out there for you. You can't mess it up

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