The Virus has gone Viral

When I lived in South Korea 13 years ago, I recall being worried about North Korea. Community sirens would sound during North Korean missile tests. The worry occurred at about the same time every year: during the joint United States – South Korea military exercise in April. The South Koreans that I spoke to seemed to think that the North Koreans were still their family, and eventually they would be reunited. They watched this saber-rattling every year for their whole lives so they generally did not seem to be concerned compared to me, sweating in my chair and nervously devouring the information superhighway.

This peaked for me in 2010 with the sinking of the Cheonan on March 26, 2010. While keenly observing the local Koreans for anxiety and asking some basic feeler questions, I quietly registered my address and contact details with my country’s embassy. At that time I was living in a remote rural community so I figured that I could escape into the forest if anything really happened, while I had previously lived in the most populated South Korea city, Seoul, the capital, less than an hour from the North Korean border!

Magically, nothing happened. There were no repercussions and things went back to normal as per other years before it.

And, despite the best World Peace efforts that I have witnessed on this topic by U.S. President Donald Trump, and retired professional basketball player Dennis Rodman, North Korea continues to beat their breast.

My best guess at this stage is that the incessant mischief instigated by North Korea serves as China’s lightning-rod global distraction to observe the World Police’s response.

In moving to Japan, I further had to acclimate to earthquakes, typhoons, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, and the ever ominous radiation issue emanating from Okuma, Fukushima. To my surprise, these were in addition to the consistent conducting of North Korean missile tests into the East Sea Sea of Japan sea adjacent to Japan, that has had the Japanese rattled. All of the aforementioned certain concerns of uncertain time-frame, scale and magnitude, makes me think that it is no accident that Japan has become a most pleasant place to live.

I have been living in bliss for a few years now, but was finally jarred into reality when I read an article detailing the levels of potential destruction driven by the dust from a possible Mount Fuji volcanic eruption. So I bought some emergency supplies.

Then, the Wuhan coronavirus went viral. The constant news coverage of the cruise from hell Diamond Princess gave me another jolt of reality to take out some cash, buy extra food, soap, and even tissues (I happened to buy toilet paper as the panic unraveled). We loaded up so much at our local grocery store that one pedestrian in line commented with a smile “you’re buying too much!” We loaded up our bikes and squirreled away our supplies in the nooks and crannies of our little apartment. It looks like we were about 6 weeks ahead of the real grocery panic after a ramp up of infections in Tokyo, though the ‘panic’ was more localized to all things Salaryman: frozen dinners, breakfast cereals, and cup noodles.


And to top it off, the lesser known Rubella (German measles) virus was declared by the US CDC as an outbreak in Japan in October 2018 and is currently sitting at ‘Alert,’ Level 2 (of 3). My ward checked with me and my spouse (baby preparations) and offered a free test and vaccine, and I was jabbed soon thereafter.

After the preparations were in order, I went back to work on my goals.

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