VIRUS! And other updates.

Coming back from Christmas vacation after New Year’s, I went back to work. While there, I occasionally checked on the top news stories.

Part of it was the plague of the enticing American Presidential Election with the campaign spanning a year or more. Yes, there are still 8 months left to go! But being in Japan, Carlos Ghosn captured the headlines. He escaped Japan on New Year’s Eve in a box on a private jet. Who is the aggressor, Carlos or Nissan? Did he really steal all the money from a public company without anyone knowing or is Nissan trying to quash foreign ownership? I’m sure the movie deal is being shopped around.

Then the Australian Black Summer bush fire season captivated global headlines and support. This bad news was followed by a more topical Meghan Markle and Prince Harry with everyone choosing sides. My mom enthusiastically said “Go for it!” in support of their quitting royal duties and my dad remarked “I think they’ll be okay.” I figure that Royalty abandoning post will hopefully lower the taxes in Britain and hopefully Canada doesn’t have to pay for their security. If so, it’s win win.

Then it was the Kobe Bryant helicopter crash, a terrible tragedy with apparent bad planning and bad weather.

And then of course, the virus. The virus has consumed the headlines and I in turn devoured them for days. The masks and disinfectant gels disappeared off of the shelves in my Tokyo neighborhood. I then stocked up on food and other supplies. Weeks later masks and gels are still scarce. Recently, there was a run on paper products. I happened to pick up a pack of toilet paper a week ago right when the paper panic started. The next day I went for tissues during the panic and luckily got a couple of packs in a store that thankfully had a limit per person. It turns out that a paper factory worker in Japan started the panic saying that they all came from China on social media. It worked, and everyone bought it all. He was fired, and we are being assured that paper will be back on the shelves. It’s been 6 days, and counting.

First, we were watching numbers of infected and dead coming from China. But, who can trust numbers coming out of China? They have ghost cities!

Then, as we counted infected and death numbers in China, we started counting the infections on the the Diamond Princess on a daily basis. The “cruise ship from hell.” If Japan really cared the economy Olympics, they should have stopped the 24/7 news coverage of that cruise ship! Prior to the virus mania, there were daily stories of anticipation and preparation for the Olympics. Now, the virus has infected all the news headlines.

And then the other cruise ship from hell, the Westerdam, was refused port entry in several countries. Japan had initially said “yes,” but then it arrived and they said “nevermind.” Thailand did the same thing. Finally, Cambodia welcomed them in.

It’s been hysteria ever since. Is it a man-made virus stolen from Canada by Chinese spies? Is the mortality rate 0.1% or 18%? Is this the black swan that will finally tank the global economy debt bubble? Where can I get a mask? We’ll have to wait at least another few weeks to get some answers.

I got tired of seeing the numbers going up everyday and realized that nobody really knows anything about the virus except the name. At least, it seems as though it is more deadly for older immuno/respiratory compromised individuals, but otherwise seems like a really bad cold for everyone else? I skip any story that has anything to do with the virus now, because there is no value.

Of course, I am now writing my own virus post but with the intention of being a quick retrospective on this crazy year for news in only 2 months, and at peak world hysteria with recognized outbreaks in China, South Korea, Italy, Iran, and Japan the Diamond Princess.

Now, many of us are working from home.

I found a few work-out machines at a local park that I have been going to and the community looks to be humming along as usual. Admittedly, these are mostly retirees and housewives with children. More people are wearing masks but it is hay fever season after all. If you were teleported into the park (a reverse-Ghosn) you’d never have known about any virus.

Japanese schools have mostly closed with only 2 weeks left of the school year, followed by the 2-week break.

Others are more optimistic and opportunistic. It seems like a great time to do some domestic travel in Japan. The top 2 countries for number of tourists to Japan have evaporated in recent months: China and South Korea. That means it should be fairly empty in Kyoto and Sapporo. But, many public venues and events have been cancelled through March 15 at this point; likely holding onto hope that Spring Break will continue on schedule.

Cherry Blossom season is around the corner. The coronavirus won’t stop the blossoms from blooming!

I’m hoping that another silver lining to all of this is a normalization of house prices.

In other news, we have a baby on the way. I feel that I should capture some unique moments in a journal somewhere (here). At the same time I also feel the need to journal more on my top 2 goals:

  1. Trade for a living
  2. Speak Japanese

So, there will be some very random blog posts coming up.

As for the baby, I still have the thought that it is far down the road but I was told, “the road is very long once you get there.”

I saw the ultrasound this week and have to say that I was totally captivated by the little screen. The baby even moved an arm over it’s head as if to either salute or simply re-adjust to a more comfortable position. We even got a copy of the video!

There is a little human in her stomach, right now, moving around, nearly the width of her waist.

Just as I had begun to think of names I learned that my spouse had already dusted off her baby name list that she had written in junior high school. My one name, John, was rejected, and after crossing off some ex’s, we have our candidates ready.

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