JOURNAL

In late 2019, a new zoonotic disease originating from an animal emerged from the city of Wuhan, Hubei province in China. Similar to SARS-CoV-1 (commonly known as SARS) which also emerged in China in late 2002, this new coronavirus named SARS-CoV-2 also affects the respiratory (breathing) system and causes a disease called COVID-19. Its common symptoms include fever, dry cough, headache, fatigue, and in severe cases, breathing difficulties and pneumonia which could result in death. The virus infects anyone but tends to be most fatal to people over 60 years of age and to people with pre-existing medical conditions. The virus is very contagious and spreads very easily from person to person, and with global air and sea travel, by early 2020, has infected more and more people around the world with each passing day. The World Health Organisation eventually declared SARS-CoV-2 a worldwide pandemic. Around the world, governments ordered businesses and indoor entertainment, sporting and religious venues shut, borders closed and flights grounded, enforced social restrictions, stay-home orders and quarantine with the use of police and military personnel to slow or stop the spread of the virus.  

As a frequent reader of the news including business and investment news, and observing developments of the pandemic in Australia and in other countries, as Australia’s COVID-19 cases grew, it was very easy to foresee that Australia would follow other countries and implement a lockdown. I made a fairly accurate guess when my workplace would be ordered shut. I took a photo of what was to be my last dinner provided in the staff restaurant, and sure enough, later that night, the Australian Prime Minister issued the order. He ordered a nation-wide stage 1 lockdown effective on mid day of 23 March 2020. With no possible work to perform, I was officially considered stood down from 25 March 2020 as Australia entered stage 2 lockdown on the same day. Hundreds of thousands of workers in the hospitality, tourism, and soon after, travel and retail industries were stood down or laid off by stage 2, requiring government welfare for some continuity in their lives without income. Melbourne (and VIC state) entered stage 3 restrictions on 31 March 2020.

As of 10 April 2020, Australia had 6164 cases of COVID-19. Most cases were in NSW state with VIC state following at second highest. Australia’s death toll has reached 54. Globally, there were more than 1.5 million known cases of infection of which more than 337,000 people have recovered and nearly 95,000 have died. Nobody knows how long it will take to contain the SARS-CoV-2 which is more contagious than SARS-CoV-1 that took 8 months to contain. There is no vaccine for these viruses yet, and even after inventing a safe vaccine, could take 12-18 months to test, approve, and finally mass manufacture for the world. For this reason, nobody can accurately say how long the government-enforced restrictions will continue. It is unlikely that people will resume their normal lives soon and return to their jobs if not already retrenched.

As the rate of new COVID-19 cases rises each passing day, the risk of infection while being in any enclosed public space and supermarkets will rise. I foresaw this risk rising with each passing day hence I quickly went to a barber for the shortest hair cut without going bald, and also canceled my approaching blood donation appointment with the Australian Red Cross Blood Service. I gradually filled my pantry with enough food to last a few weeks. As I consumed the food, I sometimes replenished with a little bit more especially if I had observed that the new COVID-19 cases were rising over the past few days which would raise the risk of being in any public spaces and supermarkets. These new cases would also surely result in stronger restrictions by the government. Taking on casual or temporary work in any customer-facing job during this pandemic would become increasingly risky and dangerous as people become aggressive and criminal. Bunkering down (staying at home as much as possible) is really the best way to prevent catching the virus. When out and about for essentials and exercise, keeping a safe distance from other people and not having physical contact were recommended ways to stay safe from the virus.

Economic experts had forecast a rising likelihood of a global recession coming anywhere between 2020 to 2022 due to excessive consumer debts and economic mismanagement in the world but probably nobody expected a coronavirus causing a sudden medically-induced recession.

Since being stood down from work, I was not overly worried about my financial situation. For many years, I had consistently lived below my means and saved a significant proportion of my wages. With a frugal lifestyle of spending less and saving more, I was not only building an emergency fund but was also preparing for what these economic experts have said was going to come, but of course, I wished I had more already saved up resulting in bigger war chest. With that frugal lifestyle, on a fairly loose budget, I can survive for roughly 10 months without wages, and that budget could be easily tightened to stretch beyond 12 months.

On 30 March 2020, the Australian prime minister announced Australia’s biggest ever $130 billion stimulus package; a wage subsidy to help around 6 million workers which was passed in parliament on 8 April 2020. Called the JobKeeper payment, the government will pay $1500 fortnightly before-tax to every employee through their eligible employer starting on 1 May 2020. This was designed to keep stood down workers on the books to prevent mass redundancies for 6 months from their stand down in late March until the last payment on 27 September 2020. If my employer is eligible for this JobKeeper payment, I will receive this money. With my frugal lifestyle, each fortnightly payment after-tax could keep me housed and fed longer than a fortnight hence keep me surviving longer should a deep recession happen.

Coronavirus life in lockdown

10 November 2018

This domain name and website has reached 9 years online but remained idle for the past 5 years since mid 2013. Last month, I began making some changes and new updates to its content.

In late August 2014, I resigned from my full-time technician job of 8 years repairing Canon DSLR cameras and lenses. Unknown to many photographers in the state and country who used Canon products, I was one of a very few persons who put their cameras and lenses back in correct and accurate working order. Having been a working photographer before becoming a technician, I entered the job with enthusiasm and passion, but it was gradually eroded over time. Leaving the job marked my departure from repairing digital cameras and lenses on a daily basis. I continued working casually in that job for a few more months as I transitioned into a different industry and left completely by mid 2015.

The technical knowledge and hand skills from my technician job are now infrequently used. Some of the knowledge is very specialized, especially in the areas of spectral modification (infrared conversion) and Canon CHDK. I occasionally service, repair, or modify, Canon cameras and lenses for my own use, or to be sold away.

I have since moved to work in a different industry – tourism. On this date 4 years ago, I started in my current job. Although part-time, I work nearly, but sometimes exceeding, full-time hours as a shift worker. Shift work offers me a degree of flexibility in my life not possible with regular Monday-to-Friday jobs.

I still use my cameras, photographing mostly portraits, sometimes landscapes when I drive out to the countryside, and sometimes interesting aspects of life as it happens. Photographing portraits and landscapes is an artistic and creative pastime which helps to creatively tickle my brain and distract me from the mental weight of our increasingly complicated, conflicted and troubled world. In other words, photography could help to keep depression away. Compared to the conservative Asian country where I was originally from, Melbourne city has a liberal mind towards visual art, and Victoria state is blessed with nature’s beauty.

Single for a year now, I have more time and money to renew my enthusiasm in photography. I sold away all 3 of my ageing, second-hand, and long discontinued Canon DSLR cameras to replace them with newer camera models. Being sensibly frugal, I waited patiently for the better second-hand past camera models to appear on Facebook Marketplace and eBay instead of buying the current or brand new camera models.

My like-new Canon PowerShot G12 acquired in 2018.

My like-new Canon EOS 7D and Speedlite 320EX acquired in 2018.

My brand-new run-out Canon EOS 6D bought in 2018.

 

In May this year, I gave myself a few birthday presents. I bought a like-new Canon PowerShot G12, a like-new Canon EOS 7D, a like-new Canon Speedlite 320EX, all for a fraction of their retail price. In June, I bought a brand-new run-out Canon EOS 6D priced low because its replacement model (EOS 6D Mark II) was already in the market. A little later that month, I bought a brand-new run-out Canon BG-E13 for the EOS 6D priced lower to clear. In July, I laughed my head off as I bought an excellent condition Canon EF-S 10-22mm zoom lens insanely cheap price about one-third of its second-hand value. In October, I bought a like-new Canon EF 25 II for less than half of its retail price. That was a bit of a buying spree but having sold away all 3 of my very old cameras first, the hurt to my bank account was minimized.

My “white horse” in countryside Victoria.

My “white horse” in the state forest in countryside Victoria.

My “white horse” on the alpine mountain in countryside Victoria.

Condoms are a family planning and financial planning invention rolled into one that preserves your time, money and freedom.

 

My regularly-serviced “white horse” gets me and my photographic equipment to faraway countryside places. My humble “white horse” is no luxury model but it has reliably taken me hundreds of kilometers away, over mud and snow, in lush forests and on misty mountains. Living my life as carefully and responsibly as possible, and not taking on more cares and responsibilities than I can managed and afford, I have no iron ball and chain to restrain me from my pursuits.

Renewed website

21 November 2009

The domain name jemapela.com was first registered as early as in September 2002 to create this Jemapela Photography website. In its earliest form, I created this website by writing HTML and using Microsoft Frontpage, and later enhanced with Macromedia Dreamweaver.

This website underwent a major change in November 2009 using WordPress, a free and open-source content management system with plugin architecture and a template system most associated with blogging. This WordPress website was encouraged and set up with the knowledge and assistance of my ex-girlfriend, and the domain-registration and web-hosting expertise of my best friend.

The first two creators of this website, my ex-girlfriend and best friend with me having a Korean dinner in Melbourne Chinatown.

 

A new website