Pandemic Diary: Merah Putih Vaccine Lags (Way) Behind

Merah Putih vaccine developed by an Indonesian biomedicine company, Biofarma, is still in progress.

And March 2020 will see the distribution of the vaccine to the industry and continue to a series of clinical tests.

In other words, there is still a long way to go.

The vaccine is reaching 60% of completion of its lab process, says Indonesian official.

But Indonesians are too tired and bored to wait for this sluggish progress.

In the end of 2020, we break boundaries and go wild.

It’s Christmas and New Year holiday anyway, and everyone feels entitled to enjoying some moments of unwinding after overworking and being tied at home like prisoners.

Pandemic Diary: Welcoming A New Variant of SARS-Cov 2

Photo by Yaroslav Danylchenko on Pexels.com

AS IF we were not having enough with all the mess and chaos Covid-19 has caused us these past months, a new variant of the SARS-Cov 2 virus has recently emerged in London, the UK.

Perfect…

They are just sly creatures that get so adaptive with their hosts, us. Like any other members of Coronavirus family, they are highly contagious and spread very easily through droplets. SARS-Cov 2 is even 20 times more contagious than SARS (in 2000s).

The variant was in fact discovered in the UK in September 2020. As of this month, more than 3,000 cases are found.

Why does the UK find it?

It seems that the country has one of the best genomic and molecular surveillance infrastructures in the world which enable their scientists to detect any mutation occurring. This can help us more prepared to prevent the spread.

The London variant seems to spread faster but there is no evidence so far that the variant is more lethal for humans.

So we should never underestimate this London variant.

Another variant called D614G was also discovered. But so far the variant also shows no signs of spreading faster and worsening the effects on humans than other previous variants.

The variant may also cause less accurate PCR test result, for our information, which makes us question if our negative result is really accurate. This holds true especially for all PCR test machines that target S gene to detect the presence of Covid-19 in one’s body.

As a consequence, Britons are not allowed to enter some countries. Sad, I know.

There may not be evidence that this virus is now spreading in my country but who knows? We know this country saves a lot of surprises. And headaches.

In the meantime, Singapore and Australia have been ‘gifted’ with the new London variant. This proves that climate difference won’t help. Covid-19 still spreads in both tropical and subtropical zones.

But again, whatever variant of Covid-19 evolves out there, you can just arm yourselves with proper hygiene procedures.

What we need to remember is that the mutation will not change the efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines. (*/)

Pandemic Diary: Dreaming of Covid-19 Vaccination

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

VACCINE is something we all dream of more than a Covid-19 negative result statement.

But that is NOT going to happen anytime soon for second or third-world countries with less financial power to obtain vaccines and distribute them speedily to their people. Indonesia, for instance, is still struggling to bargain.

But for ultra rich countries with very few populace like United Arab Emirates, it is already happening.

Why?

Because they have A GREAT DEAL of money. They don’t mind paying a lot to be the first to save their people.

Sinofarm has officially distributed their Covid-19 vaccines to United Arab Emirates. And the first priority recipients are essential workers such as public service workers at airports, hospitals, police department, embassies, etc.

After that, other less prioritized citizens and foreign residents may apply for the vaccination. But before that, one must qualify. No one with chronic diseases and other risky factors can be immediately vaccinated especially when this is an early phase of vaccination. So if one develops high cholesterol level, high blood glucose level, s/he must be treated first before being vaccinated. Or else, some unwanted effects may ensue.

The injection must be administered twice. The second is administered 21 days after the first. Quite complicated.

There is no report of death or contraindication of the China-based Sinofarm vaccine. At least as of the writing of this blog post.

Indonesia has already seen some resurgence of anti-vaccine movement these past months. Some are questioning if the vaccine is halal (sharia-approved) or not, if there is any significant negative side effects (such as fever resulting in death or other permanent disabilities), etc.

Speaking of halal issue, UAE’s cleric association has issued a fatwa that if there is any haram substance in the vaccine, the muslim citizens will be deemed sinless and forgiven because this is emergency and there is nothing more important that saving as many lives as possible in the pandemic.

The clinical test by Sinofarm had involved 31,000 subjects aged 18-60 years of age. And these are from 125 countries around the world. (*/)

Pandemic Diary: Year-end Reading Marathon

Light reading

You might have heard about Eka Kurniawan. He is a male Indonesian author who is known for his distinct literary style and fluid prose.

This is his collection of short stories written more than 20 years ago. That was the tumultuous era when the republic of Indonesia was undergoing a major reform in every aspect.

Eka ushered us to Indonesia during the late 1990s and the early 2000, when I was also in my teenagehood. He was 8 years my senior so I could a little bit relate to his stories.

But what is strange to me was the world of university and campus activism at the time.

I was never a political activist back in my university years. A friend tried to lure me into joining KAMMI (you know what that is, the right-wing student activism group), but I digressed. I retreated after being trapped in a recruitment and brainwashing session disguised as movie screening event.

Such a fool.

I went home before the event ended and never regretted that decision. It was not my thing. Never was and never will.

As I dove into the book, I saw a lot of people like these, except that they were not religion-affiliated activists. They were campus activists who despised capitalism and status quo as much as they hate heartbreak and self-inflicted poverty.

I must say this is a good read if you enjoy a light read during this Christmas and new year holiday.

And the timing to read this book is also never more appropriate than now because every day we Indonesians are faced with the new face of Jokowi regime which turns out so much like Cendana Clan’s New Order. Gibran, his first-born son who used to be an entrepreneur, plunged into the politic arena and recently won the race in Solo, his hometown. And Bobby, his brother in-law, also was elected in South Sumatra. All is possible thanks to the political sponsor, the red bull party.

Reform is in fact slowly murdered. Corruption runs rampant as always. A number of most vocal and critical 98 activists are now appointed as public officials and they become the monster they used to hate.

Welcome to the land of irony and parody.😅

So my verdict is: Go read this short story collection. Through Eka’s stories, you’ll know how painful it feels to see the rotting democracy in Indonesia. What we aspired to achieve is now left and abandoned. Because power is too addictive to let go. (*/)

Pandemic Diary: Urban Gardening for Everyone

Jakarta might be lacking green space so that is why we struggle to find ways to make our own gardens with anything.

Take a look at this.

This hanging garden is not mine but my landlady.

She always speaks to me about the benefits of gardening.

“It keeps you sane. It is good for your wellbeing, darling. Believe me,” she states again and again.

She bought a sack of ground specially made for gardeners. She puts the seeds her boss’ son gave her and gladly plant them on containers.

Every morning after she is done with the dirty laundry and cooking, she takes a rest and lays her eyes in this not so lavish garden.

She could not complain.

I say to her that gardening thing may make her happy.

But what can really make you happy? I ask her rethorically.

M.O.N.E.Y.😂

Pandemic Diary: Death for Corruptors in Pandemic

This is the easiest way to become a hero. Stay home always and go out only if necessary.

I know the temptation is sooo big.

But I am tired of cursing the government because they are simply clueless as well about the virus. This is the first time they are dealing with this disaster. And I quite understand that.

What I cannot forgive is the corrupt mentality that still prevails during pandemic.

Capital punishment is compulsory when it comes to pandemic corruptions.

The former social affairs minister is supposed to be guillotined at Monas, with a lot of us watching his head rolling down the stage to a bucket.

Such a shame.

Bahagia di Tengah Badai Corona

Foto oleh Sunyu Kim

Untuk kali ini saya ingin menulis sesuatu yang berkaitan dengan kebahagiaan, sesuatu yang menjadi tujuan hidup manusia. Anda mungkin berkilah bahwa tujuan hidup Anda adalah mengabdi dan beribadah pada Tuhan YME (jika Anda relijius), atau tujuan Anda untuk membahagiakan orang terkasih (jika Anda orang yang sayang keluarga), atau untuk memajukan masyarakat (jika Anda seorang aktivis). Namun, pada hakikatnya jika saya bisa lihat motivasi di baliknya juga adalah agar Anda bahagia, karena dengan mencapai semua itu Anda bisa berlega hati, atau berbangga hati. Itu juga kebahagiaan, bukan?

Pandemi Covid-19 tahun 2020 ini menjadi momen penting bagi kita semua agar meletakkan semua target dahulu dan membenahi kehidupan dan kesehatan kita, yang ujungnya juga adalah kebahagiaan kita. Kita dipaksa untuk menyendiri di rumah, banyak merenung di dalam ruangan, seperti pertapa. 

Tapi seperti pada Idulfitri 2020 lalu, pada akhir tahun ini liburan Natal dan tahun baru 2021 menjadi momen yang dimanfaatkan orang untuk mencoba mendobrak batasan dan imbauan tak bepergian dari pemerintah. Masyarakat seperti marah karena merasa dipermainkan pemerintah karena liburan akhir tahun ini dijanjikan akan lebih panjang daripada Idulfitri lalu yang sudah dibatalkan gara-gara Covid-19 dan sekarang janji manis itu masih belum terwujud juga. Mereka harus menelan pil pahit bahwa Covid-19 belum reda dan bahkan ada kemungkinan mencapai puncak kedua atau ketiga sampai vaksin benar-benar disebar merata di seluruh dunia.

Beberapa sahabat dan teman memang sudah ada yang bepergian untuk berlibur. Mereka mau berpayah-payah tes PCR, pokoknya bisa melepas diri dari kungkungan rumah yang juga sudah menjadi kantor dan sekolah bagi anak mereka.

Saya sendiri memilih tetap di rumah karena ya… memikirkan soal konsekuensi jika mesti berkerumun di tempat-tempat transportasi umum seperti bandara atau stasiun kereta. Karena konon tes PCR juga mesti mengantre dan membuat potensi tertular malah makin tinggi karena banyak orang memburu hasil tes ini supaya bisa lepas dari pasungan.

Kembali ke masalah kebahagiaan manusia, apakah liburan adalah sumber kebahagiaan sejati? 

Di tahun 1943, psikolog Amerika Abraham Maslow mengajukan sebuah teori tentang kebahagiaan. Ia berkata bahwa manusia tanpa kecuali mencari pemuasan kebutuhannya yang bisa dideskripsikan dalam bentuk piramida. Di level terbawah, ada kebutuhan dasar seperti makanan, tidur dan seks.

Di lapisan berikut ada keamanan dan rasa terlindungi, cinta dan rasa memiliki, harga diri dan akhirnya di level teratas ada aktualisasi pribadi, yang jika kita miliki akan memberikan sebuah kebahagiaan yang paripurna.

Sebuah studi tahun 2011 mencoba membuktikan keabsahan teori Maslow itu dengan mensurvei subjek di 123 negara di dunia. Sehingga hasil penelitian ini bisa dikatakan mendekati akurat karena mewakili umat manusia di beragam kebudayaan dan daerah di dunia.

Hasilnya menyatakan bahwa pemenuhan berbagai kebutuhan tadi memang benar adanya di seluruh dunia. Namun, yang patut dicamkan ialah ternyata ada manusia yang masih bisa merasakan kebahagiaan dan kepuasan hidup meskipun kebutuhan-kebutuhan dasar mereka ada yang belum terpenuhi maksimal. 

Bagi manusia, pemenuhan kebutuhan dasar seperti ada penghasilan, makanan atau rumah berkaitan erat dengan perasaan bahwa hidupnya positif dan bermanfaat.

Sementara itu, pemenuhan kebutuhan yang lebih tinggi seperti dukungan sosial, respek, kemandirian dan keahlian berkaitan erat dengan kenikmatan hidup. Artinya ia bisa memiliki lebih banyak perasaan positif dan mengurangi perasaan negatif.

Hanya saja ada anomali juga. Ada sebagian manusia yang merasa hidupnya sudah bahagia meski papan tak punya, jabatan tidak ada (respek), atau penghasilan tak seberapa. Sebagai gantinya, mereka ini merasa hubungan sosialnya yang kaya dan positif membuat bahagia. Dan mereka juga sanggup memenuhi aktualisasi diri dengan cara-cara yang sesuai aspirasi masing-masing.

Inilah yang membuat kita memikirkan ulang teori kebahagiaan Maslow itu. Ternyata, kepuasan dan kebahagiaan hidup tidak cuma terpengaruh oleh mutu kehidupan orang-orang di sekitarnya tetapi juga mengenai bagaimana manusia itu sendiri membangunnya.

Kelompok anomali ini adalah mereka yang sanggup hidup di tengah masyarakat namun tidak larut dalam perlombaan semu dalam pencapaian-pencapaian sementara dan tak banyak bermakna. 

Bagaimana dengan kita? Apakah kita sudah merasa bahagia dengan apa yang kita capai di tahun 2020 ini? Atau kita merasa masih kurang dan kurang? 

Saatnya duduk dan berkontemplasi di akhir tahun 2020 yang legendaris ini untuk menemukan jawabannya sendiri. Sebab tidak ada yang bisa membantu menjawabnya kecuali diri kita sendiri. (*/)

Pengalaman Pakai iPhone 11 Buat Kerjaan Menulis

Bulan Juli lalu saya memutuskan membeli iPhone 11 Red setelah 2 tahun memakai Samsung A6.

Samsung A6 ini saya masih sukai sebetulnya. Dan saya pun masih sering pakai sekarang untuk mendengarkan radio. Haha. Betul. Fitur radio analog ini adalah suatu anugerah tersendiri lho karena saya kadang lelah membaca berita online yang sering membuat…tahu sendiri lah. Jengah dengan segala framing media yang membuat kubu dan kutub padahal di dunia nyata sebenarnya damai-damai saja.

Sebenarnya bukan karena kebutuhan mendesak tapi karena saya penasaran betul dengan fitur kameranya yang dobel itu, maka saya memberanikan diri memboyongnya pulang.

Awalnya saya agak enggan memilih iPhone 11 yang ukuran layarnya termasuk besar sekali untuk ukuran tangan saya yang kecil. Dengan satu tangan saya tidak bisa mengetik dengan nyaman. Beda sekali dengan pengalaman memegang iPhone 5 yang pernah saya miliki dan mungil sekali.

Kalau mau memilih saya ingin membeli iPhone SE Generasi kedua tapi sayangnya bulan Juli 2020 produk hebat harga hemat itu belum masuk ke Indonesia. Padahal di pasar luar sudah digembor-gemborkan. Kesal sih.

Selisih harganya lumayan besar. Hampir dua kali lipat lho. iPhone SE Generasi 2 ini cuma 7 jutaan sementara iPhone 11 saat itu masih 12,9 juta. Jadi saya pikir masak-masak.

Sekarang keputusan saya untuk memilih iPhone 11 tak saya sesali karena layarnya yang besar ini membuat kegiatan saya yang kebanyakan mengetik menjadi sangat nyaman.

Di layar Samsung A6, saya sebelumnya sudah merasa lapang tapi begitu pindah ke layar iPhone 11 saya merasa sangat nyaman. Layar 6,1 inchi ini memanjakan jempol kecil saya. Minim typo atau salah ketik sehingga waktu mengetik lebih efisien. Pokoknya salut deh.

Kadang saya bahkan bisa menulis di blog dengan menggunakan iPhone 11 ini.

Perihal warna saya pilih warna merah karena klaim Apple ada pemasukan dari penjualan iPhone Red ini yang dimasukkan ke upaya mendukung kegiatan sosial terutama membantu memerangi Covid-19 setelah sebelumnya membantu kampanye HIV/ AIDS.

Kawan saya bertanya memang saya percaya klain Apple itu. Ya, saya pikir Apple adalah perusahaan dengan manajemen terbuka dan transparan. Semuanya bisa diaudit dan tentu harus bisa dipertanggungjawabkan. Tidak asal njeplak, betul kan?

Yang saya sukai sebagai orang yang bekerja sebagai penulis ialah iPhone ini memberikan fitur Notes yang bisa disinkronisasikan dengan Notes yang ada di MacBook Air saya jadi begitu saya ada draft yang mesti saya harus garap di jalan, saya bisa segera menyelaraskannya dan memolesnya saat bisa duduk nyaman di rumah dan membuka laptop.

Lumayan membantu banget lah.

Sebenarnya fitur sinkronisasi dokumen ini juga ada sih di Google Docs milik Android tapi sekali lagi layar Samsung A6 saya lebih sempit dan kurang nyaman untuk mengetik.

Fitur lain yang membantu kegiatan saya sebagai penulis dan pembuat konten digital ialah Keynote di iPhone. Iya, saya bisa membuat slide/ salindia yang indah di ponsel. Lalu tinggal diunggah di Instagram. Memudahkan.

Karena saya menulis blog di WordPress, saya juga memakai aplikasi WordPress di iPhone 11 ini dan merasa pengalaman penggunaannya relatif mulus. Mengunggah gambar/ foto dari memori iPhone lalu membubuhi dengan teks sangat mudah. Lalu tekan tombol ‘publish’ dan kelar deh!

Semudah itu.

Foto-foto yang indah dari kamera wide-angle iPhone 11 ini juga bisa memberikan ilustrasi yang bagus untuk blog saya. Pokoknya tidak mengecewakan.

Loveee ittt!!

Pandemic Diary: The Dream that Came True

In 2003, I began using Internet on my phone but that was far from being productive. It was all about entertainment. I created my first Plasa.com email and still I had no personal laptop until 2006.

But in 2009, after my graduation I used the web for more serious purposes. I wanted to land a job after leaving a part-time teaching job but because I’m an introverted person, I had always dreamed of working from home.

So making money off the Internet seemed the most plausible opportunity at that time.

I had a cellular internet connection at home but it was so painfully slow I wanted to cry every time I want to access my own blogspot blogs.

Thanks to the snail-paced connection, I had to spend so much time on my laptop, trying to figure out how to make money on the web.

So I stumbled upon internet marketers, bloggers and writers like Anne Ahira (anneahira.com), Jonru (I know, he was a kind guy back then), Lynn Terry (clicknewz.com), Darren Rowse (problogger.net), Bryan (copyblogger.net), Deb Ng (freelancewritinggigs.com) and Yan Susanto.

They opened my eyes and ushered me to the possibility of making money through internet when people around me still think that internet wasn’t a big deal.

Even my father asked me if I got paid still for working from home. He didn’t understand how people get paid for sitting down, sipping tea or coffee with a laptop connected to the internet. It all seems like a pastime instead of a real job. Of course, he is an ultimate boomer. I don’t blame his mindset but in his times, people had to get out of home and move their arse to just make a little money to buy foods to survive.

So in this pandemic, I am reminded of the time when I sat for hours at home writing blogs just to make money from Google AdSense, which later wouldn’t work. Bitter experience.

But I did make money through my writing skills and article spinning. Haha. I seriously found out that bloggers and internet marketers at the time used a software to create a number of articles to be published on many blogs to create and build links, which was meant to create authority. Gosh, I can’t believe I did that.

I also made some affiliate wordings on Amazon to sell the affiliate products there. Did it make money? I was paid US$ 1 for each piece about a product. And because of this, I set up a PayPal account and to do just that I couldn’t because (it sucked to be Indonesian), PayPal at the time didn’t receive fund from Indonesian banks. And it only received Visa or MasterCard credit cards. So I bought a virtual credit card and set up my own PayPal account just to purchase ProBlogger’s ebook! What a struggle to be a blogger.

In retrospect, now I realize that that dream has come true. In 2020, I am working peacefully at home with a laptop on all day long and get paid enough to survive the economic recession.

Isn’t it something to be grateful for? (*/)

Pandemic Diary: WordPress, The Only Social Media That Keeps Me Sane and Well-Fed

I credited WordPress for the first yoga client I had 6 years ago. So this man – who happened to be an expatriate working in Indonesia as a CEO of an airline – coldemailed me because he found my blog and decided to let me come to his apartment so I could teach him.

In 2014, I almost graduated from the yoga school I was attending. Yeah, almost.

I honestly told him I wasn’t certified… yet. In months, I would have been though.

But he said it was no big deal.

I was excited but also terrified at the same time.

I was more than ready to get paid but I wasn’t fully prepared for the challenges I was about to face in my first classes.

But my self doubt was proven wrong.

He felt refreshed after my private yoga session.

He confessed he desperately needed yoga to rejuvenate his ailing body after injuries and fatigue because of his demanding job. But he found it hard to go to the gym because his time was not that flexible. Having a private sesh was the only option. But again, not many yoga teachers in Jakarta could fluently communicate in English so he took the risk to let me teach him because he read my blog which was fully written in English back then.

Aside from my yoga career, my writing career also took off thanks to WordPress.

Amazing it was to see how WordPress has brought me to the point of where I am now in my writing career, too. (Well, I luckily have two main careers that keep me well-fed.)

Seriously.

I listed my portfolio here on this very blog so whenever people need my list of past ‘masterpieces’ I can easily share the link and they can read it anytime on the screen. Simple. No email and attachments. Links of online CV and portfolio are real solutions.

I may not make zillions of dollars but with WordPress I can make enough money to sustain myself for all these years.

And in these mentally challenging times, WordPress has provided a digital space for me to create a worthwhile stream of written content that is easily accessible for later research.

Twitter and Instagram might be giving me the same digital space to write but they are for microbloggers, instead of macrobloggers who prefer writing longer than just caption or tweets. with hashtags.

But is WordPress a social media platform?

I think so because I find connections here. And the connections are more meaningful and worthwhile here. Less cyber bullying. Less trolling. At least to the extent of my knowledge and experience so far.

Will I write more here in 2021?

Definitely yes. Because I think Matt Mullenweg is cooler than Mark Zuckerberg or Donald Trump. (*/)

A blogger, entrepreneur and social activist, Matt looked so young in 2006 WordCamp in San Fransisco, Calif. (Credit: Wikimedia)

Pandemic Diary: Don’t Make the Already Acidic Life More Acidic

I happen to know someone who deliberately makes her life more challenging by treating everyone as her foes.

What is her problem?

Well, that has got to be an internal issue that shows the personal quality of the person herself.

But when you happen to run into a person like this, try to stay away because they are too stubborn to take everyone else’s advice.

If life gives you lemons, get some avocadoes to neutralize the acidic juice

Pandemic Diary: The Delusional Year-End Holiday Getaway

Staring hopelessly at the horizon of expectation

Accept it, we are NOT going to go out of town for sheer fun and hedonism at this end of emotionally draining year.

Stop rejecting the fact that the government can take their words anytime because you did not read that microscopic-printed terms and conditions. It turned out their promise is subject to change and… mood.

Cannot wait to soak myself again into the muddy pool under this waterfall.

I am not saying I despise the government but it feels natural to hate their incompetence because who won’t?

That said, perhaps I can channel my anger and frustration to keeping myself stuffed at home.

Who knows that pandemic weight gain will be no longer a myth for me?

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