Please come to Boston for the springtime, someday…

I changed my Boston trip reservation again – for the 8th time! With my new schedule it will be three years since my last trip to the U.S., assuming all goes well.

American Airlines contacted me a couple of days ago saying that my scheduled October 22, 2021 flight from Narita to Boston on JAL (a mileage partner) was canceled and they rebooked me for the 23rd. That would have made for just 6 days total in the US, which is a little hard with jet-lag and all. Plus things are still very much up-in-the-air (as it were) with the spread of the delta variant, and with continuing stringent two-week quarantines when returning to Japan.

Side-note: Japan started creating “vaccine passports” and anybody, like me, who is fully vaccinated and has a passport can get one. But… Japan does not recognize its own vaccine passports when returning to Japan! Everybody, including Japanese nationals, must have a verified negative covid-19 test done within 72 hours of arrival and still undergo two-week quarantine. And when they depart they also must have proof of a negative PCR test.

It just seemed safest to postpone again.

American Airlines was super cooperative. There were no penalties. And I got to keep my non-stop flight between Narita and Boston both ways, on JAL.  I was looking forward to that – it would be a first for me, and a big time saver not having to transfer in Chicago.

I also decided to increase the length of my stay to almost 2 weeks. I’m hoping I can do a side trip to St. Louis while I am there and visit my friends. And I would like to see my cousins. And maybe take a one-day-return Amtrak trip down to New York and visit friends. It should be more relaxed. There are a lot of people I haven’t seen for a long time now.

The only hitch was there were no economy seats available from Narita to Boston showing up at the moment any time close to my desired departure date. And only business class seats were available on one day. So for a 25,000 mile upgrade I will be going business class to Boston and keeping my economy when returning. That’s no problem since I have extra miles saved up (I haven’t gone anywhere in over two years).

AA simply juggled the miles around and all is fine. Plus, if over time, an economy seat comes available before April (they said it might simply be too early to show up just now) that I can just call in and they will switch and return the miles. I can then use those miles for the side-trip in the U.S. Round-trip between Boston and St. Louis, for example, is also the same 25,000 miles.

I would like to say that American Airlines has been super cooperative ever since the pandemic began. I highly recommend getting international seats with them, using miles for complete flexibility when you need it. 

So… now it will be 8-9 months before my departure! I feel more relaxed about it considering the upsurge in infections lately and everything else going on. I certainly hope the pandemic and quarantine issues are resolved by then, for everybody’s sake. Things are feeling weirder lately rather than anywhere back to normal.

What is special about this package of toilet paper?

Hint: it has nothing to do with the fact that it’s green.

You guessed it! Remember at the start of the pandemic early last year when fake rumors about toilet paper shortages started spreading? That resulted in there being actual toilet paper shortages.

Stores ran out of stock. When they came in stock you were limited to one per person. And then they became even stricter and limited to one per family.

Whenever I went out for daily shopping I would make the rounds of about six stores in my neighborhood to see if any were available. Sometimes I would see people lined up, indicating that some had come into stock. I would stand in line and get an extra package just in case. Then I would send a LINE message to my next-door neighbors letting them know where they could find some.

Now, of course, there are no more restrictions on buying toilet paper and there is plenty in stock.

This was the last package that I had stocked up on then. It looked sort of weird so I was saving it for last. It says 録茶の力, “the power of green tea.”

Comparing COVID-19 with SARS and MERs

I don’t remember a worldwide epidemic (or global epidemic panic) like this in my lifetime. I heard of MERS and SARS but don’t remember there being a worldwide shut-down of things like is going on with COVID-19.

I tried to find some comparison info, and this article is informative.

In simple numbers, SARS began in 2002 and there have been no more cases since 2004. There were 8,098 reported cases and 774 deaths.

MERS began in Saudi Arabia in 2012. Since then there have been 2,494 reported cases and 858 deaths.

While COVID-19 appears to have a much lower mortality rate than SARS or MERS, it’s hard to know for sure because it’s still spreading. So far the mortality rate is 3.4%.

It’s also more widespread. So far it’s in 60 countries, has infected more than 99,000 people and there have been more than 3,300 fatalities.

So I guess this might be the largest worldwide epidemic in my lifetime.