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Colectiv and Certej – October 30 to November 12 in Bucharest

October 30 marked three years since the Colectiv club fire, and of course multiple events were once again announced, at least four, that I know of, being scheduled to start at 5 PM, while the one which I guess should be considered the more “official” one was set to start at 7 PM. Still, it all worked out, since at least the location was the same, the park at Unirii, and people could start gathering from 5 PM, or perhaps even earlier for some, while the march actually started at 7:15 PM. In between, a giant canvas cross was built and the names and ages of those killed were written on it.
What seemed inappropriate and annoyed some of the participants was that access towards the fountains, on the other side of that small park, was closed off, apparently due to rehearsals for the December 1 festivities, which meant we were seeing a light show and had to listen to the anthem and possibly other patriotic songs as well, though I’m not sure about this last part. Since the time and place of the gathering was known a long time in advance, and should have in fact been obvious even if the authorities wouldn’t have been notified, they could have scheduled those rehearsals so they won’t overlap, even by simply starting them after the march would have cleared the area.
Though there were no more specific plans mentioned for the rest of the evening, the march was again called “The March of Guitars” and guitarists were again asked to bring their guitars and play and sing. However, while I did spot a few more guitar cases, only two actually made use of their guitars, and occasionally their voices, before, during and after the march, a violinist also joining them at that time, as you can see in the pictures I took. Under those circumstances, calling it the “March of Torches” would have likely been more appropriate, since torches had been brought and they were lit and given to people at the start of the march, though at the end they pretty much became props for one of the shows being broadcast from there that evening.
The march itself started at 7:15 PM and reached Bucur Square at 7:50 PM, but some were already there, some came even earlier, during the day, while others came later, people still heading in that direction even after 8:30 PM, when I left. Estimates vary wildly, as I saw anything from 1500 to 5000, but considering what I saw during the march and how packed that area was at the end, I’m certain that the low end of that range is completely wrong. The high end may be too high for the march itself, but the total might have in fact been even higher.
One of the topics for discussion was how politicians observed the moment, and the fact that the President was the only major figure to come, earlier during the day. Some members of USR were there, including the party’s president, but the people were referring to the leadership of the big parties, and saying that even if some would have wanted to show up, they likely knew better than to try, people being angered even more after the Prime Minister simply walked away after being asked earlier that day whether she had a message for the occasion. An official message was posted by the Government later, but I’d say that only made things worse, showing that they had been unprepared for it, having perhaps somehow hoped to be able to ignore the event.

Moving on, days later, apparently on November 2, there was a new development in the Rosia Montana matter, a brief on behalf of the Romanian civil society being submitted, adding the perspective and experience of the community to the information presented before the court which will rule on the company’s demand of $4 billion from the Romanian state, as compensation for not being allowed to go ahead with the mining project. But what I’ll actually write about here is that, also on November 2, an urgent campaign was started, asking people to send comments to the Ministry of Waters and Forests, demanding to block the clearing of 56 hectares of forest, including a rare mix of tree species and important bird habitats, for the Certej mining project, which will use similar methods, therefore causing similar destruction and carrying similar risks, and which is actually closer to actually starting than the Rosia Montana one ever was. With the draft proposal to allow this clearing already published and a statement released on November 5 revealing that the Government had already received the fee for clearing the entire area in question, there was no time to lose.
There was an older petition to sign as well, but it took quite a while for people to be reminded of that as part of the campaign, probably in an attempt to avoid offering such an easy way to feel like you’re doing something without taking the action which was supposed to have a much bigger impact. However, the petition and the signatures gathered until then were delivered to the Ministry this Monday, when a small protest also took place, from 11 AM. Only a few people were there at that hour, but as the activists gave interviews to several reporters and eventually also went inside to meet with a Secretary of State, since the Minister was not available, the number of participants reached about 20, though some had already left by 11:55 AM, when everyone cleared away. Low turnout, but for an event taking place at that hour on a weekday, and an overcast and foggy weekday at that, I guess it was all right, and the media presence and the formal meeting, probably along with the “golden chainsaw”, were what generated the impact, not the numbers. The “chainsaw” wasn’t actually delivered to the Ministry though, since it’d have quite certainly just been thrown away and it’s unfortunately almost certain that it’ll be needed again in the future.
It would appear that the Ministry representative stated during the meeting that the information regarding the at least questionable, and even clearly illegal, way in which that forest ended up in the property of the mining company was new to them and they will look into it, though the investigation had been published years ago and its findings mentioned again during this campaign, including by members of USR, so a party represented in the Parliament. There was also a promise to organize a public debate on the matter, supposedly a proper one this time around, which should at least offer more time, if little else.

Written by Cavalary on November 15, 2018 at 10:08 PM in United We Save | 0 Comments

Two Runs and Another Chipped Tooth or Filling

Should have written this earlier today, but should still manage it even if I’m starting quite late, after playing Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic a fair bit more, while it’s really choppy but at least still starts. Finished the first scenario of the Syron campaign Thursday, actually doing it the way I was meant to, just barely holding off the enemy from that area with the cities after running away with my heroes and remaining rescued units, then having the enemy turn away from there after a couple of lost battles and letting me focus on advancing with that army. Did lose it once, after going west when I was told to go east and getting completely swarmed, and with the autosave putting me in the same situation, that meant loading from the earlier save I had, which was from several turns, maybe up to ten, earlier, and from just before one hero leveling up and being given first strike as a choice, which I haven’t gotten again since. But once I did go the right way, it seemed too easy and fast, the swarm of enemies approaching that city I had to capture and hold, but stopping just before it and turning away as I got the second round of reinforcements, including that hero with no description, and the next turn I had apparently won. The next scenario sure is proving tricky though, with all those storms and other events, and not seeing the map, and hard to reach areas, and I’m saving and loading a whole lot, usually because, while I’d otherwise win the battles, I keep losing heroes, probably also because I risk them too much in the attempt to have them gain as much experience as possible, and that’s not acceptable. Wouldn’t otherwise want to resort to this much saving and loading, but I want to finish this by the end of the year…

Since I mentioned Thursday, that night I ended up with another chipped tooth, this one from the upper right side. Actually not sure whether I still had a thin wall of tooth in that area or that whole side, towards the back, was the filling, so not sure what that corner that came off actually was, but it was just a corner, so probably not hard to fix if it was the actual tooth, while if it was the filling it’ll likely need replacing either way. It’s been some time since work was last done on that one, so it’s not a matter of it not lasting at least, but my old dentist did have problems making the filling stick at first, before finally finding a way, so I’m worried those issues may happen again now, plus that it’s possible that quite a lot of that tooth was taken away and any more work there, even just to clean up a bit before putting in the new filling, may go too deep. But I guess I’ll see how it’ll turn out.

Otherwise, ran twice this week, but the times were again poor, at least compared to the standards I now have, aiming to stay under 48 minutes. Wednesday’s time was 48:20, with sector times of 4:21, 5:08, 5:54, 4:34, 5:05, 5:59, 4:26, 5:04, 5:59 and 1:50, making for lap times of 15:23, 15:38 and 15:29, while yesterday’s was 48:04, with sector times of 4:20, 5:08, 5:49, 4:28, 5:00, 5:54, 4:31, 5:10, 5:55 and 1:49, making for lap times of 15:17, 15:22 and 15:36. So last week’s 47:58 remains the only time under 48 minutes after running the marathon, while out of the six times I covered this distance between getting the new shoes and the marathon, only one was over that time, and that was after skipping a week after the long practice run. My left knee feels much better though, only giving a few little “warnings” while running, prompting me to become more aware of exactly how I’m moving that leg while running and make some slight adjustments on the spot, until it was fine again. What’s more, it didn’t bother me at all after Wednesday’s run either, and while today it does bother me a bit, it’s nothing like before.
Wasn’t sure whether I wanted to run Wednesday, knowing that the weather was going to be better Friday, but eventually decided to do it, even if I had already eaten grapes instead of the usual apple and it meant rushing after dad left, eating and drinking the usual stuff quite in a hurry, right before leaving, and just going out the door at 4:05 PM, worried about the light. But I didn’t rush on the way, in fact walking quite slowly, and angrily, past the areas where they’re trashing even more of the green spaces left, and noticing that much of the tended garden I had mentioned in the previous post was also paved over by then. That meant it was 4:17 PM or 4:18 PM by the time I started running, yet could still manage to see the time on my stopwatch even at the end, though it was dark by the time I got back here. Tried to start slower, so I won’t tire myself, but the second lap’s first sector was already bad even so, and trying to make up for it over the next two sectors didn’t go that well, but then I pushed hard from the start of lap three and on the second sector I actually thought I could have pushed even harder, yet that lap’s sector three time likely says that was a wrong impression. I did try to run in a way that made it hard though, alternating, trying to spare both my left knee and my liver, and this was probably also why at some point it felt like something snapped in my right calf, but it was manageable and by Friday it seemed fine again.
Friday’s run wasn’t exactly planned either, and in fact I was leaning towards not running again, but saw a pastry bought by dad and, after leaving the previous one he had bought there for days, decided to eat that one right away, but to also have a reason for the treat. That meant I had that pastry instead of one of the usual things I eat before a run, but at least I had the usual apple and didn’t rush anymore, comfortably leaving and starting exactly 30 minutes earlier than on Wednesday. Pushed hard, feeling on lap two that I was at a level of effort suited for the last lap and wondering what will be left, the time on that third lap offering the answer, since I again pushed hard all the way and that was all I had. Still thought I had a chance when I started lap three’s third sector, but at the end of it I knew I won’t be able to cover the final sector in the required 1:44, so might have had one or two more seconds in me there at the end, but definitely not the five I needed. Good weather, next to no wind, but there were some people and they cost me a bit of time in a few places, so it’s possible that I could have managed to just get under 48 minutes again if the route would have been clear, but this level of effort should have produced a better result at this point either way.

The fact that I’m carrying some additional weight may have something to do with these results though, since I rather stuffed myself with the things my mother kept making during this last period when she was here and I got to 53 kg, which is a weight I definitely didn’t have since I was living with Andra, if not even before that. There was a time, after I got curious enough to actually weigh myself more than a couple of times per year, when I was thinking I should see about getting myself to 58 kg or so and couldn’t even manage to go above 50 again, but now I’m thinking that, while it was concerning that I kept going down as I increased the distance of my regular run, ending up at 47 for quite a while and even seeing 46 after a couple of longer runs, possibly even 45 once, if I remember correctly, 50 should be good enough. And my body has definitely been asking me to stop putting such an unusual amount of food, and sweet and greasy things in particular, into it, since I’ve been feeling rather bloated, had heartburn and was even slightly nauseous a few times.

I guess this should be about it for now, though I’d also mention that I shaved my head yesterday evening, since it won’t be getting warmer now and I had to at least do it one more time before spring. It has been very warm so far though, the fact that I didn’t even consider taking my training shirt for these recent runs even though it’s already November proving that, and I’m pretty sure I won’t be wearing it next week either, but after that it’ll probably start being needed, and I’ll need to start thinking about creating more of a buffer too, if the conditions will force me to skip weeks during the winter. Then again, probably already have enough of a buffer, but I haven’t been keeping track for quite a while and don’t mean to take previous runs into account, wanting to average one per week starting now, probably considering yesterday’s run as the first additional one. Wonder if this will help me find some motivation again or actually have the opposite effect, especially after the conditions will cause my times to worsen considerably when I’m unhappy with them as they are. But even if I would be content with the times, it is hard to find motivation to just keep going like this after running a marathon, which was something I worked my way up to for three and a half years.

Written by Cavalary on November 10, 2018 at 9:23 PM in Personal | 0 Comments

Botanical Garden, Two Runs, Four Days with No Visits, Carrying Heavy Stuff

A lot to cover in this post, but I’ll start with the issue that has to do with the site itself, which is that, at least according to Google Analytics, there were no visits on October 26 and November 1, 3 and 6. It may also be a matter of the new privacy controls starting to have more of an impact and visits not getting logged or, maybe more probably, people becoming more aware of such logging and taking other measures to prevent it, since I think the controls themselves would stop tracking and show returning users as new users, not make them not show up at all. Then again, after seeing no visits that third time, on November 3, I had a quick look through the recent visitor logs and didn’t spot anything that clearly looked like an actual person visiting the site, though those logs admittedly only showed the data for the evening. On the other hand, other logs revealed a whole lot more hits than normal during October, which I gather means a lot more bot activity, since real visits actually took a dive.
This follows the trend for years now, though the last such day was January 14, with the previous one, as stated then as well, on August 11, 2017. That post from last August includes all others since launching this site, so won’t repeat, but there hadn’t been any for nearly five years, then more than two years between the next two, the second of them being that one from last year, and now there’s this and more will certainly follow. Not that it matters, and in a way it’s something of a relief to know that nobody can even accidentally happen to see what I write here… Though I guess if anybody’s reading through RSS, that won’t show up at all.

Moving on, after skipping a week after running my first marathon, ran again on October 26. That skipped week sure showed though, as it took everything to just stay under 48:30. Admittedly, there was some wind and there were some people too, and I also started too fast, but after 47:15 on the last run before the marathon, it was disappointing to see 48:24, with sector times of 4:16, 5:00, 5:52, 4:30, 5:09, 6:04, 4:38, 5:08, 5:57 and 1:50, making for lap times of 15:08, 15:43 and 15:43. The exact first sector time was 4:16.43 and I maintained a good pace on sector two as well, but on sector three of lap one I was already tiring, so settled into the pace I could maintain and the result was a bad lap two, then sector one of lap three was too slow even for a 16-minute target, so had to give it absolutely everything just so it won’t be really embarrassing. Joints were in poor shape too, left knee not even holding for four kilometers before starting to hurt, ankles bothering me a bit too, but at least I could keep pushing through, unlike another runner I saw a bit before the end of lap three, who had stopped and was gingerly rubbing her knee and wincing. Didn’t help that I didn’t even shower until the next day though, since I waited until night, finished the book, but first had to put off the quick review until the next day because dad called me over to do something for his laptop, then my mother called me over for hers as well, and then again after finishing with the first thing, so went late even to eat and trying to shower after that would have meant waiting too long for hot water to come.
Ran again on October 29 and that went better, the time being 47:58, with sector times of 4:18, 5:00, 5:48, 4:23, 4:59, 5:56, 4:35, 5:15, 5:58 and 1:46, making for lap times of 15:06, 15:18 and 15:48. Still a bad lap three, with the first two sectors barely on 16-minute pace and then giving it everything at the end, but the first two laps were good and I just managed to get under 48 minutes after all. Thought I won’t, and also that I’ll just miss it by the few seconds I lost going around other people, but on that final sector I tried to remember what I was doing when I was getting even under 1:45 on it and just managed that 1:46, which was enough. Joints were fine though, I guess in good part because I spared my left leg by doing what you’re supposed to avoid, breathing in while stepping with the right, so obviously my liver started hurting halfway through lap two and even breathing was an issue after that, but that knee really didn’t hurt and I can’t recall the last time I could run without it being a problem, both during the run and after.

Now let me get back to October 20, when I volunteered at the Botanical Garden again. Got up at 7:45 AM, meaning to leave an hour later but only managing to do so at 8:50 AM, and then not only not running but even losing more time on the way to the metro, since I guess I got more used to the route to the farmers’ market and I somehow found myself nearly there and confused as to which way I should turn to get to the metro station after all. Recall seeing that it was 9:08 AM when I did finally get to the station, so it was lucky that the train came quickly and I got off at 9:22 AM, giving me just enough time to walk the rest of the way until 9:30 AM. However, when my mental map crashes, it really crashes, so after getting confused earlier I couldn’t get my bearings there either, and getting back down to the station to check the map didn’t help since it didn’t show enough of the surrounding area, so after going up again it took me a few moments longer to finally figure things out, leaving me needing to really run just about all the way to manage to walk through the gate just at 9:30 AM. Not that there weren’t a few more who came after me, and someone was left there to wait for them, but Anca does stick to the schedule, so after waiting for the person who was getting marked on the list and drawing her raffle ticket before me, I was just doing that as well when she led the group away.
We were in danger of just being sent back though, since it was drizzling a little since morning and just then it really started to rain, so we stopped under some trees to talk about what to do, Anca suggesting to wait until 10 AM but if the conditions failed to improve she wanted to just give us our rewards despite not doing any work and send us on our way, though that didn’t really sound right to quite a few, myself included. The forecast stated that the risk of rain would increase until around 2 PM, yet by 10 AM it had stopped and it was even sunny later on, the rain only returning in the evening. We couldn’t have known that then though, so the idea was to just see what we could do until it’ll start raining again and as time passed we realized we could stick to the original schedule and work until 2 PM, in fact stopping at 2:10 PM, and leaving at 2:30 PM. Since teams were larger this time, I ended up in one with a woman with her children, two other girls, a guy and a girl who I guess were a couple, and another guy who was alone, and mostly did my own thing, often carrying the stuff away since the other two guys were clearly stronger and could dig better while the rest had a harder time even carrying, though those two girls and that woman’s small boy put in a lot of effort in every way, and so did that woman herself. The one I didn’t notice doing much of anything was that guy’s girlfriend, if that’s what she was, but even so I think we did a reasonable job, considering how underpowered we were compared to the other teams.
“Managed” to walk into quite a few spiderwebs, both there and after leaving, but didn’t see any spider on me and just one on my backpack, when I picked it back up at the end, though there were of course a lot of bugs otherwise and I likely gave a few a ride. On the other hand, for the first time we were offered food too, the sandwiches available quite clearly having been purchased from the Auchan from that area, since when I went there later I saw all kinds that were available in one place, seeming like somebody had just purchased everything they saw there at the time, not caring about price, since the most expensive was over twice the price of the cheapest and all kinds had been available, and I noticed that the one I ate was the second most expensive.
We did have a, shall we say, exciting moment early on that I need to mention. I was carrying leaves away, so wasn’t there when it was found, but that woman from my team came looking for Anca, holding something carefully and asking what it was before she lets it go. I didn’t get a good look at the object myself, but at first glance it seemed like an old grenade, though I guess it was more likely a rusted shell, seeming way too small to be a bomb. So Anca took it, also very carefully, and set it down near the fence, saying she’ll make a call, and the police came later, quite a number of them walking up to us and asking for statements. Anca had been saying that she had been told they wanted to close off the whole area, and I also heard that a bomb crew had arrived as well, though I didn’t see those, but in the end they were content to just say that if we find any more such things we should leave them where they are and not touch them… Which is rather pointless advice when you don’t know what it is until you pick it up, since I gather that thing was first assumed to be a piece of wood, so it’s fortunate that the guy who found it picked it up without first striking it with the shovel to try to cut it into smaller pieces. It did seem hollow though, at least from that quick glance I got of it, and the guy said so as well, and while others were assuming it was there since World War II, since the Presidential Palace is across the road I was thinking it could have also been far more recent, a stray blank artillery shell fired during some ceremony.

After we finished there, I went to that Auchan from that area, dirty as I was. Dad had left some more money, so I got some stuff for him and the cats to add up to exactly that amount. Then saw a real self-checkout there, the first time I see one where you can also pay cash, since at these other two locations it’s still a cashier scanning your things, the machine being used only to pay, and the self-checkouts very recently introduced by Carrefour only accept payment by card, so I wanted to give it a try… And it sure didn’t go like I thought it would. First took a moment to figure it out, the fact that you need to place the items on the scale for it to check the weight complicating matters and making the process very slow, then was still confused by the fact that if you want it to take multiple items of the same kind without scanning each one separately, you need to enter the number before scanning or selecting, the supervisor needing to teach me that, since I was trying to scan one and then add the remaining number, having no clue why it didn’t work. And there was also a moment when it said the supervisor’s intervention was required and she had to come over again after finishing with another client and clear the issue, not that I know what the issue was. And after all of that, it wouldn’t accept one of the coins I had and I didn’t have others, so it ended up having to give me 0.95 RON in coins.
Took me quite a while to arrange the things in the bags I had and my backpack, then went to the big Carrefour from that area as well. Saw cabinets to put my things in, but no keys, so asked a guard whether none were available and he said they are but they have to earn their pay too, so when people want to use one they come to them and they open them, and he opened one for me. It was one of the small ones though, and he wasn’t happy when I said I thought I needed one of the large ones, telling me that a small one will be enough and then saying I hadn’t said I wanted to put my backpack in as well when I struggled to do so, prompting me to say that if I don’t I’ll have it checked on my way out, and it was of course as stuffed with things purchased from Auchan as my bags. Still, it fit, barely, and he gave me something with the number of the cabinet and told me to give it back to him when I get out in case I happen to still want any of it back, another guard echoing this last part as I walked away, since it seemed to amuse them.
Once inside, I also saw a product which seems to have vanished from anywhere else and wanted to take one jar, but the money I had left were just for what I had planned to purchase and I didn’t want to give up on anything, so I eventually put it back, got to the checkouts… And waited in line for quite some time, since due to some malfunction at least paying by card was impossible for a while, and it’s possible that the checkouts were completely frozen for a bit as well, though I’m not sure about that last part and one person with no cash in each queue would have been enough to block everything. Either way, hardly anything moved for a while, lines were long, people were restless and few knew what was going on, the announcements only mentioning cards and then stopping completely after a while, leaving me to wonder why did the screens in front of the checkouts keep displaying advertisements instead of being used to announce something so important. Still, got out of there eventually, and immediately handed that number to that same guard, since he had moved to that area by then. But, of course, I had to hand it to one who was at the cabinets, not to the same person if he had moved, so was sent on my way, and then had to struggle to carry everything to and from the metro, the fact that it was raining when I got out of the metro making it even more unpleasant.

Jumping a week ahead, that morning I woke up at 9:30 AM after a bad dream, having to go to the bathroom and wash my mouth to try to get rid of at least some of the feeling I was left with, then thought to just get it out of the way and went to that pharmacy to get a few things my parents wanted. After the previous day’s run, I could barely walk due to the pain in my left knee, but eventually managed to get there and it was a bit better on the way back. Almost thought the most expensive thing I was supposed to get wasn’t available though, but when I managed to get myself to ask I saw that it just wasn’t placed with other products from the same manufacturer, but with others of the same kind from all manufacturers, which is unusual for them. Good thing I had been given more money than I had calculated the stuff would cost the night before, while struggling with my mother’s laptop, because my calculation had been wrong and I’d have been 0.50 RON short, which I only realized at checkout, since I hadn’t calculated again while picking up the products. Still, since I had to break that last bill too and couldn’t just hand it back, it meant I could get one more of those things dad wants, so I just put those first purchases in one of the cabinets and went back to do so.

I guess I could also mention that there was a brief earthquake that night. I was at the computer, shortly after eating, when I felt it. It was very short, so even though they said 5.8 on the Richter scale and the strongest since that 6.0 one from 2004, it shouldn’t have been reason for concern, and I knew that and definitely didn’t mean to react, yet still felt my heart racing and ended up all sweaty in an instant. Just sort of raised an eyebrow at my own reaction and continued what I was doing though, only taking a few moments to look for the first bits of information available.

Last Monday, after the run, I decided to go to Auchan, going out six minutes early because I wanted to be sure I’ll catch the free bus and ending up waiting because it was obviously some five minutes late. Also saw that the recycling machine was working again, but hadn’t taken the bottles with me, so wonder if when I will take them it’ll be broken again. Either way, was mainly looking for bread and ended up getting a couple of other kinds too, since the way the one I used to get looks now doesn’t appeal to me, so just got two of those, and one of that other similar kind, since the plastic bags were torn for all others of that kind that were there at the time. Then when I got back I stopped by the nearby Mega Image too, since after the run I had spotted some products I sort of wanted that were discounted due to expiring soon, but they were all gone by then, so I just struggled to get my bags into one of the cabinets until a guard told me to just leave one on the floor, took a few steps, realized I had no reason to be there after all, grabbed my things again and left.
But since I mentioned the run again, on my way to the park I saw more of the mayor’s plans to destroy all green spaces in the Sector. Had actually first seen it when going there for the previous run, but this second time they were cutting some of the trees too, on top of the fact that those left are likely to die soon anyway. It’s insane, destroying the gardens in front of buildings to make paved paths through them, that one leading right into the back of a newspaper stand at the moment, which paths are just centimeters away from the current sidewalks, which are apparently meant to be turned into parking spaces. Many of the trees seem to now be left standing, leading to paths that are difficult to even walk on, weaving around the trunks, and using bicycles, carts or, most notably, wheelchairs is just about out of the question, but those trees are encased in the pavement and their roots are in good part chopped away, so they’re not likely to last long. And the trees weren’t the only plants in those gardens anyway, plus that some of those gardens are actually tended by some of the people living there, and there is one such garden just after the area I’m referring to, where I often see a few old people working. Imagine how those will be affected if all their work will be wiped away like that and they won’t be able to continue. And complaints don’t accomplish anything, as there are reports that people complained and he said that land belongs to the city and he does what he pleases with it. Wonder if anything will be left by the end of this guy’s current term, in 2020, and he has good chances to win the elections again even so, and even if he won’t, it’ll take decades to fix the damage caused!

The next day was the commemoration of the Colectiv club fire, and I guess I should write a separate little post about that, but here I’ll just mention that the first part of that day was annoying, as that friend of dad’s came to have a look at my mother’s laptop just as I was making tea and trying to get something to eat, so I turned off the stove, starting to boil the water for the tea again after he left, and had a bowl with just yogurt in it which I kept in my room until he left and I could go back to get cereal as well. Actually, got that and had water boil again after I finally dared to get out of my room and ask whether he was gone, since nobody bothered to let me know.
I was planning to leave at 4:30 PM and, after all of that, I’m not sure I’d have managed it either way, but when I threw on the t-shirt I had also worn while running I realized it smelled, so changed it with another… And then changed that as well, after noticing what seemed to be snot on it, probably a result of accidentally putting one of dad’s handkerchiefs in the washing machine last time, since he put it in the laundry basket too and I must have taken it along with something else, since I only noticed it when I took the stuff out. So it was after 4:45 PM when I finally left, and since I didn’t run I was at the metro station a bit after 5 PM and there a bit after 5:15 PM, taking me five or six more minutes to actually get to the park we were supposed to gather in, since I first had a look on the other side of the road. It was somewhat amusing when a guy approached me just before I reached the group that was gathering, saying he had a gold bracelet for sale and asking me to at least have a look at it. Do people still fall for that sort of scam?
Just wandered around a fair bit and took the first of the pictures until the march finally started, at 7:15 PM, but I guess that’s for that separate post. What’s for this one is that after just barely managing to finally squeeze through to put my candle there as well, and then get back out of that crowd, it looked like it’ll be a long wait if I wanted some space to get some good shots, so gave up and since I didn’t quite feel like staying for anything else either, meant to leave at 8:30 PM and get something else done that evening as well. However, ended up staying just a couple of minutes longer since I was next to the torches, just having a last look around the area, when a boy asked his mother whether he could blow out a torch. Since she just ignored him, he asked again and then just did it. I muttered that he shouldn’t do that and lit it again, and he just blew it out again. So I lit it yet again and looked angrily at a guy I assumed was his father, who had also showed up, and after exchanging a glance with me that guy asked the boy whether he had liked the candles, then after the boy said yes told him that the reason they were pretty was because they were lit and he wouldn’t have liked them if they were blown out. That didn’t seem to work though, as the boy just blew out a torch again. I still lit it again, but then just left, annoyed.

Since I had the metro card, went to that big Carrefour after that, since I had spotted a discount for cat litter on the site, which I confirmed there, though it wasn’t in the catalog even on-line, and I also wanted another pumpkin at that low price and, of course, one jar of that thing I couldn’t afford the previous time. So got all of those and a few other things, including a 1.5 kg bag of cat food which was also discounted, but the three bags of cat litter and the pumpkin alone added up to 25 kg, the total going over 28. Add the camera and the batteries I had with me and it was likely at least 29, maybe close to 30 if you add everything. Considering that, I guess it’s a good thing I forgot I had noticed cheap apples and meant to get some of those too.
Since I hadn’t taken many bags with me, it was difficult to even arrange the purchases, not only in terms of weight, but the weight was the main problem and despite trying to stuff what I could in the pockets of my jacket, to take a little bit of load off my arms, I had to stop multiple times even on the way to that metro station, and sent dad a message asking whether he could meet me at the metro station here to help me carry the stuff, at which point I also got a low battery warning from my phone, so had to turn off the music to be sure it still worked to send him another message when I’ll get close, so he’ll know when to come. So at least I could get here without stopping every 30 meters or so, but it was rather unpleasant that he came with the car, saying he didn’t know what I was carrying and wondered whether we had been given some sort of commemorative plaque or something, even though I had said what station I was coming from, though admittedly hadn’t specified exactly why I had ended up there, assuming it’d be quite obvious. Was a bit funny when he apparently threw the things I pulled out of my pockets in the trunk and then forgot to take them out along with the bags, only realizing it when he started to eat and wanted some of the garlic, rushing back outside to look for what was missing.

Moving on to November, Thursday woke up at 7 AM, about to piss myself, barely managing to run to the bathroom and ending up in that state of everything stinging, feeling I had to go again right away and unable to even sit, so mostly paced around the room, though I also turned the monitor on to try to have a look on the computer, and the UPS did a battery self-test just then, so at least I could close the notification right away. Then went to the bathroom again some 30 minutes after that first time and finally managed to crawl back in bed, getting the usual amount of sleep after that. And after waking up I finally glued my headphones again, and after leaving them mostly unused that day, to allow the glue to harden, they seem to be holding so far, while last time it was obvious right away that I hadn’t done it right.

The following evening I posted my first request on a freecycling group, for a few little things out of those offered by someone who said she wanted to meet at this nearby metro station on Sunday, so it was close, I didn’t have to go to somebody’s home and didn’t have to go out right away either. Felt terribly embarrassed to ask and scared by the prospect of meeting someone like that, was drenched in sweat, shaking, couldn’t get myself to read the message she sent after I commented or to reply after reading it, but I eventually managed it. She was really nice about it, repeating that she could come at any point during the six-hour interval she had mentioned even after I said I’d rather come when somebody else is coming as well, since I live so close and it’s not a matter of when I can get there, but when she said the only person who had given her a specific time had said 12 PM, the others giving her a range and saying they’ll tell her when they’re close, I said 12 PM was fine as well.
That of course meant waking up earlier than I’d have wanted to on Sunday, in fact deciding to just get up when I woke up a bit before 10:45 AM even though I had set the alarm for 11 AM, but even so, after taking the recyclables as well, I barely managed to walk out the door a bit before 11:50 AM. Still, that’d have been fine, since even after dropping off said recyclables I was at what I thought was the meeting spot just before 12 PM, but when I saw nobody there I tried to remember the specifics of the message she had posted and realized that when she said it was the side towards a hospital, I just assumed it was one of them, the other seeming way too far to me to be considered, but she had actually given the name of the hospital and it was indeed that other one. So I ended up having to go around and was a few minutes late, but I spotted her right away and she still had two bags, so I guess the other person was even later. Tried to apologize and explain, being as awkward about the whole thing as you’d expect me to be, but she said it was all right and handed me the bag with the few little things. Had meant to give her the bag back, had even rehearsed that part on the way, but couldn’t get myself to say anything more than absolutely necessary, so just somehow managed to wish her a nice day, or at least I hope I did, and got back.

Things got somewhat odd after getting back here though, since dad was in a rush to leave, forgot something, came back and asked me to bring it to him without him walking back in, then had to walk in after all because what he said was on the left side, at the bottom, ended up being on top of other things, on the right side of a left partition that makes up more than half the space in the place he mentioned, so it was pretty much exactly in the middle and obviously not where I kept looking, though he seemed quite convinced that his directions had been accurate. Not quite sure whether it was this first time or the second time he got back, but once he first knocked, making me leave my slippers behind to try to sneak to the door and see who it was before he actually used his key.
But the real mess came that second time, when he got back yet again, poked his head in just long enough to ask whether Liza had gotten out behind him and closed the door again and ran off immediately, leaving me and Liza, who was just at the door at that time, to stare in confusion. Once I “processed” the situation, I had a look outside, seeing the key in the door and his backpack on the floor, but couldn’t see him anywhere to tell him that Liza was right there, and since I assumed he must have seen her when he asked and, besides, he had just told me a couple of days earlier that Liza won’t go out unless she’s in heat, I assumed he had somehow gotten the names mixed up and was actually asking about Micky, so I went to look for her, fortunately finding her right away in the living room. So I went back out, hearing him shout after Liza and some woman’s voice talking to him as well, but since I definitely didn’t think he could be behind the building I went part of the way down the stairs, thinking he was in front of it, then got back up when that didn’t seem to be the case, thinking that maybe there was a strange echo on the stairs and he had actually gone up. Didn’t try to go up though, thinking that if he wasn’t up and will get back and not find me either, it’ll be even worse, so I just got back, grabbed my phone and was just trying to decide whether to text or call him when he rushed back in, asked again, angrily, whether Liza was here, then even more angrily demanded to know whether I don’t hear anything anymore and why didn’t I go on the balcony to tell him, just repeating that he was behind the building and I must have heard him when I said I thought he was in front of it, then rushing off again, to go where he had to go.

Otherwise, it was also Sunday afternoon when I sent an e-mail to Patook to ask whether anything had changed regarding me being silenced, and in fact about the mechanism that causes that to happen. After not having logged on there in several months, probably since around the start of the year, I had for some reason decided to do so again the previous night, at which time I also saw a childfree woman from here at the top of my matches list and sent her a message, which message didn’t, and still doesn’t, show up as having produced a notification even though it says she has notifications enabled, which normally means it wasn’t actually delivered due to me still being silenced. And I guess my e-mails are being ignored by them as well, since I got no reply either.
Then again, I guess I’m once again feeling particularly starved for a friend, since I had another look at OkCupid as well these days and actually messaged two more people, despite needing to “like” them before being given that option. Not entirely sure whether they’re the fourth and fifth or third and fourth I message since receiving that message that first made me have another look around there, but nothing came of it so far, the only reply being from someone who just wanted to confirm that she had read the message and will get back to me when she’ll be able to give it the attention it deserves, then apparently had a look through my blog and quickly decided to block me instead, which is something I’ve actually come to expect. Other than that, not even the person who sent that first message replied to my reply to it, and I obviously can’t know whether the others even managed to see what I sent, considering the new system.

And to finally end this awfully long post, I guess I’ll also mention that Saturday I managed to finish the Dark Elf campaign on Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic and started the next one, but this sure isn’t going well. I’m still playing these scenarios the wrong way and end up facing overwhelming odds even when that’s not intended, and I’m really thinking I’ll need to restart this one, but I may just have a shred of a chance and I’ll try to save it for as long as possible, though it may hurt me in the long run. May need to do it pretty quickly though, since that bug that makes this game get choppy and eventually refuse to start at all the more time that passes since last reboot is already making it really choppy, so I may be forced to take a break soon enough, until I’ll install the next Windows updates I guess. This is also why I decided not to read Snow in the Year of the Dragon this week, since I’ll be able to do that later but may no longer be able to play any day now, and I of course won’t reboot unless I absolutely have to.

Written by Cavalary on November 7, 2018 at 2:37 AM in Personal | 0 Comments

Dawn Goes Silent Right After Kepler… And Opportunity Remains So

According to the announcement, Dawn had already stopped being able to communicate due to having exhausted its fuel at the time I wrote the previous post, about the end of the Kepler mission, but I guess only the team knew that at the time, or perhaps not even them just yet. They were quick to make the announcement once they did know though, since scheduled communications were missed on October 31 and November 1 and the announcement came on that same day, November 1.
Once again, the event was entirely expected, though no less sad because of that. In fact, the thrusters managed to keep operating until the very end of the estimated period, the announcement about the imminent end of the mission published in July stating that hydrazine would run out between August and October, with the more recent estimate, from September, which had narrowed the range to mid-September to mid-October, actually proving to have been too conservative.
I do look a bit oddly at the article about the coincidence that Dawn and Kepler were about to run out of fuel at about the same time posted on October 29, since it was known since October 19 that Kepler had switched itself to its no-fuel-use sleep mode and the reason for it was perfectly clear. But I guess the difference is that they could know that about Kepler and perhaps there were still some options, however extraordinarily unlikely, to consider, other uses that could be found for the spacecraft even without fuel, while in case of Dawn exhausting the fuel for its thrusters makes it unable to communicate right away, leaving no options whatsoever.
Unfortunately, if TESS can be said to be something of a replacement at least for Kepler’s K2 mission, albeit one with a much shorter attention span, there is nothing of the sort for Dawn. With a few exceptions still made for Jupiter, we just stopped looking beyond Mars, and after Juno will stop operating as well, we won’t have anything at any solar system body beyond Mars at all. And with New Horizons and the Voyagers set to run out of power at some point in the next decade, we’ll be left with nothing out there at all, the lack of even any projects going beyond Jupiter ensuring that nothing functional will be out there again for decades to come. Things we, as a species, could plan for in the 1960s and actually do in the 1970s and 1980s apparently can’t be done anymore…

But speaking of going silent and Mars and what we apparently still care to do, since InSight is scheduled to land there later this month, Opportunity is unfortunately still silent, nearly five months after last contact, and the 45-day period during which it was considered that contact was most likely to be restored if the rover had survived the dust storm has ended. However, the page about the recovery efforts was updated on October 29 with a message stating that the current strategy for contacting the rover will continue for the foreseeable future, because it is possible that the silence is due to the solar panels being covered by dust after the storm and this time of year has previously brought dust clearing events, a reassessment of the situation, I assume in case there will still be no contact by then, being tentatively scheduled for January. So the situation looks bad and I guess the announcement about the end of that mission as well is pretty much ready by now, but there may be some shred of hope yet and they won’t give up for at least the next couple of months.

Written by Cavalary on November 2, 2018 at 7:14 PM in Space | 0 Comments

Goodbye, Kepler. This Time for Good…

It was almost three and a half years ago that I was saying it was (probably) time to say goodbye to Kepler, yet while it was indeed the end of the primary mission, the team found a way to allow the spacecraft to continue gathering data starting the following year. It was a different kind of mission in one important aspect, not being suited for discovering anything but short-period planets anymore, but on the other hand it was decided ever since this new mission was approved that it will be used for other kinds of observations as well.
The solution found by the team actually allowed this secondary mission to last longer than the primary one, stretching the fuel reserves which would have otherwise been exhausted within months to over four years of active use of the spacecraft. Admittedly, the number of planets discovered was far lower than that of the primary mission, at the time I’m writing this the Exoplanet Archive listing 2327 confirmed planets discovered by Kepler and only 354 by K2, with 2426 Kepler Project candidates yet to be confirmed and 473 for K2, but those are discoveries which shouldn’t have been possible, and wouldn’t have been without the team’s unbelievable ingenuity. I guess the potential discovery of a handful of longer-period planets, which would have been possible by continuing the primary mission after the failure of the second reaction wheel, until the fuel would have been exhausted, was sacrificed for this, and of course you can never know that something extraordinary wasn’t among them, but it sure seems to me that the gamble was worth it on the whole.

Unfortunately, even this solution wasn’t going to stretch the fuel reserves forever and back in March it was announced that the mission was nearing its end. Some more life and data could be squeezed out of it, but after observations were first paused in July to ensure there will be enough fuel left to properly point the antenna in order to send the data already gathered and indications of degraded pointing performance after they were resumed eventually led to the spacecraft being put in sleep mode in September, before managing to successfully send the data earlier this month, the fact that Kepler was found to have put itself into sleep mode again due to lack of fuel shortly after it was commanded to resume observations came as no surprise, and neither did yesterday’s announcement marking the end of the mission.
The fact that it was expected doesn’t make it less sad, of course, but there is a silver lining in the fact that Kepler managed to last long enough for TESS to start science operations, the spacecraft in fact being pointed at Observation Sector 4 now, so it can really be said that it passed on the baton. TESS really does seem to me to be aiming for quantity over quality though, moving its “gaze” from one patch of sky to another three times faster than Kepler did even during the K2 mission. There will be a little overlapping, but the discoveries will obviously consist to an overwhelming extent of short-period, likely very short-period, planets. I guess that makes TESS sort of a continuation of K2 with a much shorter attention span, but in no way a replacement for Kepler’s primary mission. Still, considering how much we as a species have been failing at continuing space exploration in recent years, if not even decades, the fact that even such a continuation exists at all is at least a cause for some relief, if not even a reason for hope.

Written by Cavalary on October 31, 2018 at 7:30 PM in Space | 0 Comments