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Schiaparelli Crashed and (Possibly) Burned

Wasn’t sure whether to mention this on here these days or not, and if so exactly how to approach the matter, but the blog post by ESA Director General Jan Woerner was infuriating enough to make me make up my mind. I mean, seriously now? TGO needs to use aerobraking to settle into its long-term orbit and then has several years of planned mission ahead, while Schiaparelli was supposed to perform a semi-soft landing and then operate for a number of days on the surface, yet after just achieving orbit insertion with TGO and, according to them, receiving 80% of Schiaparelli’s descent data, the claim is that the TGO part of the mission is 100% successful and the Schiaparelli part 80% successful, making for a total success rate of 96%, since TGO is seen as having 80% of the importance.
That’s the sort of dreadful attempt at painting a failure in positive colors that makes it worse than simply keeping quiet and letting everyone think you’re to embarrassed to comment. Did he by any chance forget how many things can go wrong over all those years to prevent the orbiter mission from being 100% successful? Or that Schiaparelli was also supposed to send some information from the surface for a while? Or, you know, that the landing procedure was supposed to be a test for the one to be used for the future rover, yet it resulted in the lander likely smashing into the surface at over 300 km/h and possibly also exploding on impact? Does that sound, or look, since it would appear we have pictures as well, 80% successful to you?

Unless you count those few seconds of data returned by the Mars 3 lander, NASA remains the only space agency to have managed to operate spacecraft on the surface of Mars. And even if you do count them, it definitely remains the only one to have had successful surface missions on the red planet. Which, especially once you also remember that NASA was supposed to take part in this mission but had to pull out due to budget constraints, merely serves to once again make me ask why do we still have separate and at times still competing space agencies instead of pooling the resources and the expertise available everywhere and making this a true project of humankind, at the global scale, gathering personnel, discoveries, experience and technology from everywhere, sharing it all and funding this properly as a single program aimed at exploring and inspiring, looking up at the sky instead of staring at our feet as we stumble in the dirt, seeking to learn for the sake of knowledge itself and to reach ever more distant and more intriguing places merely because they exist.

Written by Cavalary on October 23, 2016 at 12:28 AM in Space | 0 Comments

Quick Review: Quantum Tangle

I’ll say from the start that I’ll disagree with myself later over this rating, as it should most probably be three stars. Can’t bring myself to take away that fourth one at the moment though, mainly due to the concept of subspace energy entities pulled into real space and the way it was handled, and even more so the way the bond and the relationship between Seth and Khoe were handled. Some mental gymnastics may be required to grasp what that actually is and how it’d actually work, but makes perfect sense once you do. And bonus points for making it so that having one such entity tangle with a person with the right skills and contacts can reasonably be accepted as a plausible outcome of random chance.
The action and the setting may otherwise be considered rather typical for the genre, though the universe does hint at a reasonably promising complexity, which I hope is better explored in the other books that share it, as it’d be a pity if all would follow this one‘s pattern and focus almost exclusively on what’s relevant to the matter at hand. Not that there’s that much to really complain about when it comes to the action, but in itself, if you ignore these beings and the bond between Seth and Khoe, it definitely follows expected patterns and is also too rushed for my liking.

Rating: 4/5

Written by Cavalary on October 22, 2016 at 6:12 PM in Books | 0 Comments

I’m 32 Now…

Was looking through the other personal posts I wrote on my birthday over the years last night, recalling the events that led to the somewhat happy and hopeful one from 2007 and how that ended in early 2008 and there was nothing else since, those dreams and the character described in the one from 2008 and how that stopped happening after that period and I don’t recall her clearly showing up again since, and the people I kept in touch with for a longer time and felt at least somewhat close to listed in the one from 2009 and how badly things ended with those I was still in contact with at the time and also one that I briefly got back in touch with later and how I expect the same to happen with the couple of people I’ve been talking to for a longer time now. Then, after nothing in 2010, in 2011 there was that list of 27 things about me that I’ll probably always link to in profiles. After that, as the 2012 post states, it was all downhill, as you can see in those from 2014 and 2015. Not that it wasn’t always downhill at least after the start of 2008, or more exactly ever since she left with the exception of that period.
As for today, there was only a note from dad in the kitchen when I woke up saying he knows I don’t like the typical “la multi ani”, which translates literally to “many years to come”, so he’ll wish me good health, and then just now a “happy birthday” from Ada, to which I replied as you’d expect, since there’s no such thing. Unless I’ll see some others later, I guess it’s good enough, with just that one annoying typical wish. And I got cakes, though I didn’t even look in one package and the other two contained two “penguins” each, which I hope parents will also eat from because I won’t be eating more than one per day and, even if I won’t touch the third package, four days is a bit much to keep them. Not so sure they will though, as this was obviously the result of me telling dad, when I asked if he could get me some after the blood tests, that the first time I bought a cake myself I jumped on those, from the only place I saw that had them, since I remembered I liked them when I was little. So now he sure overdid it, as is quite typical of him.

Otherwise, attended a protest this evening. As I wrote in the description of the album with the photos I took, it had to do with the bear cub shot in Sibiu, and since people were asked to do so I did bring a small teddy bear as well, noticing there that I could hook it on something and found a way to do so in order to have it on my chest, visible despite the small size and leaving my hands free. Didn’t leave it there to be donated to orphan children though, as those who wished could do, since I had picked it up from the pile of stuffed toys in my mother’s bedroom, even if I guess at least most of those were mine from when I was little.
One last thing I’ll mention about that is that somebody seemed to take some interest in me, apparently starting from noticing how I had tied the bear, and then asked for my e-mail to keep in touch. Since I typed it on her phone, using the touchscreen, I sure hope I typed it right, because while I looked a couple more times I still don’t feel quite sure, probably because the few times I tried to use touchscreens before I couldn’t even dial a phone number without needing to cancel several times and now I just had to delete a wrong character once. But then again, maybe it’ll be better if I did type it wrong, since I keep remembering how quickly and how badly things ended with the person I ended up talking to at one of the first protests I attended. I mean, she quickly told me I should be lynched for my ideas despite agreeing that the problem is real and the biggest one the world is facing and that the solutions she’d find acceptable could never be enough to solve it, so I’m expecting something similar now, since it’s highly unlikely that I’ll find actual friends, especially “real life” ones. The way things turned out with Ada is just further proof of that, even if we’re still talking for the time being.

Written by Cavalary on October 15, 2016 at 11:43 PM in Personal | 0 Comments

Supporting Runners and Getting Test Results and Some Treatment

Yes, I did what I said I meant to, making a sign and taking a spot right after the next to last bridge to show support for the Bucharest Marathon runners. Managed to get there just before the first ones were passing by the first time too, though it took me a while longer to place my sign on a pole so I won’t have to hold it myself. Then, with the exception of a few minutes when I crossed the road and wandered around the nearby park, I spent close to four hours there, getting a bit of a sunburn on the right side of my face. Unfortunately, with usually nobody else cheering there, I felt too awkward to do it myself until two people stopped for maybe ten or 15 minutes to do just that, and then a guy took up a spot right across the road from me after they left. By then, the first groups had passed even the second time around and more and more of those who continued to arrive were simply walking, but at least I did keep clapping for those I saw actually running.
In between, as the volunteers from the nearby refreshment point were cleaning up the area before the runners arrived the second time, I started helping, first by just bringing a few discarded bottles when a girl was gathering some in a box and then actually joining two older volunteers, so one was gathering the stuff in piles, the other was holding the bag and gathering the banana and orange peels and some of the gels, since she had gloves, and I was getting most bottles and cups. Felt increasingly uncomfortable about it when they started asking me questions and, after I refused to go take anything myself when they said nobody’ll mind if I’ll grab something from the refreshment point, they brought me things themselves, so I ended up with one large and one small bottle of water, several bananas and apples and a few oranges. Got the distinct feeling that they thought I was homeless or something. Either way, I refrained from helping again when trash appeared the second time around.

While I’m on the topic of running, this week’s run was yesterday and, though it was quite windy, I managed the third best time yet on the seven-kilometer route, 34:19. Intermediate times were 4:28, 5:10, 5:58, 4:35, 5:10, 5:58 and 3:00, making for lap times of 15:36 and 15:43. Yes, I managed the exact same times for the second and third sectors on both laps, and this also marks the very first time I managed to cover the second lap’s third sector in less than six minutes. I still have no idea how I managed those final sector times of 2:52 and 2:54 though, since I’m pushing as hard as I can to barely manage three minutes.

Otherwise, Monday I got the test results, with a few values marginally outside the normal range and three more quite clearly outside them, plus a positive for that bacterium that causes ulcer. Saw that one of those three results may also be normal though, and the doctor treated it as such when she saw it, and she didn’t seem concerned about the other two either, just telling me that there may be a very slight anemia, asking if I eat a balanced diet, and telling me to drink more water. However, that last result, that made her only tell me to drink more water, sure seemed concerning to me, as I read that a value above the 50 that’s the normal maximum already signifies a significant reduction of kidney function, and I had 56. And I rather expected kidney problems anyway, so uncertain about her dismissing it so easily, especially when she didn’t exactly strike me as paying much attention and I had to point out a few things to her myself.
One of the things I had to point out was the presence of that bacterium in my blood, and she was very surprised by this since she said it should be at a quite high concentration for this test to reveal it while the stool sample should even reveal low concentrations, and that came back negative, which was why she hadn’t even really looked at this new one. Either way, now I’m taking two kinds of antibiotics, one of them every six hours, plus something to help heal my stomach and some probiotics, which I asked for, remembering the times when I had certain issues even without taking antibiotics. And she also gave me something with two plant extracts and vitamin D for a possible slight urinary tract infection, saying something in the tests pointed to something of the sort, but I rather doubt that’s the case and, either way, I said I’ll take that after I’m done with all of this.

Written by Cavalary on October 14, 2016 at 7:13 PM in Personal | 0 Comments

Miserable Weather and More Emsisoft Issues

I was saying we’re in that part of the year with miserable weather now and the forecast says it’ll last for quite some time. Cold and no heating yet, very high humidity that chills you to the bones even inside, if it doesn’t rain it at least slightly drizzles…
Now I like cloudy days and rain, but definitely not this sort of rain and the temperatures I’m comfortable at are in the high 20s at least when I’m inside, maybe mid-20s when it’s sunny and I’m going out. Low 20s are only all right while running or otherwise making a fair amount of physical effort. With highs around 15°C and lows below 10°C, even down to around 5°C, these days I’m pretty much wearing what are my winter clothes around the house, there’s just one thing I can change to make them even warmer, and I just want to be curled in a tight ball under the blanket, and did just that for quite some time last evening, but the cold also makes me need to pee very often. So, as I was saying, just one more reason to feel utterly miserable, and this is the “perfect” weather to get colds as well, so there may be yet another reason added because of it soon enough.

Otherwise, the new computer issues mentioned in the previous post have to do with Emsisoft again, since as of Monday I started noticing a2service.exe errors in the event logs. No description or ID that Windows can make anything out of, just that it’s a matter of some access being denied, and so far they happened when plugging in and unplugging my camera, when turning on and a varying amount of minutes after turning off the TV tuner’s software, after the system completed boot optimization, and when the shadow copy service attempted something that didn’t quite work, once resulting in the pretty common error saying it hit the size limit and another time in the access denied error that seems to be the rule when I update Paint.NET. So far it doesn’t seem to happen when Defrag runs normally, on partitions, and I’m not sure whether it would happen if those shadow copy operations complete without errors, but I’m going to assume there are quite a number of other things that may trigger it which just haven’t happened yet.
The thing is that, while I hadn’t plugged in my camera or updated Paint.NET since July, so since well before that forced Emsisoft update, the other things happen regularly, and I had even used the tuner’s software Sunday evening, and I definitely didn’t change any settings or install or update anything in between, and I actually checked what Emsisoft’s automatic updates installed and there were only definition files. Also, regardless of the trigger, the same address was listed for all such errors between Monday and Thursday afternoon, at which point they changed slightly, and also changed from a denied attempt to read to a denied attempt to write. They remained the same since, again regardless of trigger.
I have no clue what’s going on, and what’s worse is that their customer support doesn’t seem to either. The guy I’ve been talking to really seems to be going above and beyond the call of duty, and has put in an unbelievable amount of time and attention in the conversation with me, be it about this issue or any others, but unfortunately there are pretty much no actual results to show for it, again whether we’re talking about this issue or about the logging problems noticed ever since that forced update or about anything else really. For a while the logging seemed to work fine after I reset it all, but now I noticed a missing update entry from last evening, so they seem to be appearing again after less than a week. And otherwise he says he’s sending reports and requests to the developers, but so far getting nothing back, and that everybody’s focused on releasing the next version so it may be a while yet.

But now there’s a match at 7 PM, and watching it will normally trigger more of those errors, and I want to make myself some popcorn before it starts, so let me finish this by saying I still didn’t decide what I’m going to do tomorrow. I’m definitely getting up early to watch the race, but the Bucharest Marathon is also tomorrow morning and now that I know just how badly the lack of support is felt on that part of the route I meant to make a sign saying “Next bridge: Turn left. Reach 15.5 / 40 km. Come on, you can do it!” in both Romanian and English and position myself with it just after the last bridge before the one where the route crosses the river. However, I’ll be very sleepy and leaving after the race will mean that I’ll likely get there after the first runners will pass that point the first time, and that’s assuming dad won’t need the metro card. But such support is needed by those who’re struggling far more than by the leading pack, so if I’ll be able to take the metro I may just do it. Will need to decide this evening though, as I’ll need to actually make the sign first, and then also shave. But at least the forecast for tomorrow seems quite decent at the moment, in the sense that it at least shouldn’t rain…

Written by Cavalary on October 8, 2016 at 6:11 PM in Personal | 0 Comments