Memories of JAL

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The red circle is the sun goddess Amaterasu. It is the rising sun on the Japanese flag. It is Zen. It is an amazupai umeboshi. It is beautiful in its simplicity. Sadly, it is no longer used by Japan Airlines.
Back when airplane food truly sucked, when they still handed out packs of honey-roasted peanuts along with mini-decks of playing cards, and when I used to be able to sneak into first class with my sisters, JAL had the best logo of all of the airlines. Riding a plane with the tsuru mark made even the flight over to Japan seem exotic. It was a graceful metaphor for the Boeing which was carrying us to an exciting foreign land.
As I remember, JAL had some of the most beautiful and nice stewardesses that I can remember. They often turned a blind eye to us when we snuck up to the first class seats. Only once, when a grumpy old man protested to the stewardess were we (nicely) turned back to our seats.
Who made the decision to get rid of the tsuru, a symbol that conjures nostalgic images of Japan for a corporate logo? If I were the president of JAL, that dude would be so fired.

Tori Influenza Containment

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What can these mats really do make sure that avian influenza doesn’t enter the country? I think they’re there just to make everyone feel better, kind of like making people wait two hours to pass through security when you go to LAX makes us feel safer. Because they’re special mats!
When you return overseas to work in Japan, why not have some fun with it or milk a little vacation? Pretend to sneeze, wipe your hand on your pants, and then shake hands with people when you arrive. Talk to them about how much you loved the local delicacy, pigeon sashimi, when you visited the country regions of any place tht has been in the news regarding avian flu outbreaks. Every so often, let out a muffled cough towards your victim and cover your mouth with a few gaps between your fingers (Note: if you do this, you run the risk of being labeled an a**hole, and you really shouldn’t be doing this if you really are sick).
If you are on the JET program, this should be a sure-fire way to get you some extra “vacation” (they’ll likely quarantine you for a week). It happened three years ago with the SARS outbreak, resulting in a Kumamoto-ken-wide quarantine of JETs who had traveled abroad during the heights of the scare. Everyone, except for me, that is. Even though I came back to Japan with a cold and a severe case of southeast asian microorganisms not agreeing with my digestive system. Actually, I was glad to get back to work, and quite thankful that they didn’t make me go in to a lab to be tested by paranoid government workers. That would have sucked!