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A Bad Morning Practice Run and Bookfest

In the early hours of May 10, I went to the kitchen earlier and hoped to be able to start eating dinner at 2 AM, but it was 2:15 AM when I did, after also talking a little to dad and then forgetting to make the tea while working on the salad or slicing bread and therefore setting the water to boil when it was already late, which added some time. And I was struggling to hold off a breakdown while working on the salad and slicing bread, and the fact that dad was awake and around definitely didn’t help. But I somehow managed it, at least to some extent, and when I did start eating I had some of the old peanut butter, to see whether it was still good. It had hardened, but otherwise seemed fine, the other thing that I put on the bread that night being more of a concern, since I had kept it for far too long and it was starting to have a strange taste, and the gas that appeared right away and the way my stomach felt after eating indicated that it had probably been right at the limit of causing worse problems. Either way, I finished eating at 2:50 AM and gave up on the idea of shaving, but even so it was 4:35 AM when I got in bed, after taking way too long to get everything ready for the morning, even more so after deciding to go straight to Auchan after the run, to get bread for dad, so I had to stuff bags and money in the pocket of my tights, though I didn’t also take a mask.
The alarm was set to ring at 8:15 AM, but I woke up at 8 AM, when the computer did the daily backup, and decided to do the tiny exercise routine at that point, though I then waited for the alarm, possibly even falling asleep again just before it rang. Then I got up and had the usual stuff, the apple being the last of the Fuji ones that I still had, even if it was smaller, and the sweet thing consisting of two of those wheat things, one with honey and the other with jam. I also took all of the supplements, including the double dose of iron that I was just switching to that day, for the last five days before the race… And I guess it pretty much counted as taking a double dose of the one with potassium and magnesium too, since I had taken the previous day’s shortly before going to bed. Either way, I unsurprisingly didn’t leave much of anything in the toilet and went out at 9:45 AM, wearing the full running gear, with some things in the pocket of my tights, and an undershirt. The reported temperature was 11-12°C, increasing a little after that but possibly by just 1°C by the time I finished.
The time was 48:17.07, with sector times of 4:12.85, 5:16 (5:15.19), 5:59 (5:58.97), 4:33.12, 5:05.53, 5:56 (5:55.85), 4:31 (4:30.59), 5:02.56, 5:50 (5:49.38) and 1:53.03, making for lap times of 15:27.01, 15:34.50 and 15:23 (15:22.53). The first sector was five seconds slower than it should have been, since I pushed hard from the start, and while the one problem caused by people and the soggy lane might have caused most of that loss of time, there were no such explanations for that bad sector two and I realized that even the chance of staying under 48 minutes was slipping away, and when I barely stayed under six minutes on sector three despite trying to recover that lost time, the target became to just stay under 49 minutes. Still, after sector two and three of lap two were less bad, I thought of 48:30 and tried to push. It seemed like I had a shot after sector one of lap three, even more so after sector two, and I kept pushing in order to be safe at the end of the lap, and since I was I didn’t really push on the final sector anymore. But the result remains poor even in itself, and when it comes to such final practice runs, if you exclude the one that came before the 2021 half marathon, when I was yet to do much about the anemia and swollen feet, then this is the worst one since the very first one, from 2017
There weren’t many people, so there was some weaving and going the long way around, but the only notable issue was right on the first sector, when I caught two guys with three dogs just when we were all coming out from under the bridge and had to make my way around them, slowing to some extent. On the other hand, the lane was soggy in plenty of places, so I avoided what I could, and there was more damage as well, including a badly damaged spot on sector three, though they seemed to have fixed the spot that was early on sector two. Otherwise, some pain that was likely reflected from my back appeared soon after I started running and I tried to snap my back, but it diminished only slowly. And later I started feeling that the back of my left thigh tended to contract, possibly because I was still sparing that ankle. And there was some wind as well, but the main problem was that I just couldn’t go any faster.

After the run, I first had a look in Supeco and then also checked the expiring products from that Mega Image, then I picked up another one of those bottles that go towards that 10 RON voucher from Penny and continued to Auchan, leaving that bottle outside when I got there. After washing my hands, I got bread for dad, having no problems with the self-checkout until I was done, at which point it said that assistance was required. But I was already done and the receipt was printed, so I caught the eye of an employee, just to let her know that something was going on, and walked away, taking a moment to arrange the bread a little better after leaving the checkout area and then also retrieving that bottle before continuing to Penny. But I didn’t find anything to get from there, so I just put my things in a cabinet and then retrieved them, putting them once again in a cabinet when I got to Kaufland. From there, I got a coconut that was among the spoiling products and some yogurt, having no problems with the self-checkout and then retrieving what I had in the cabinet and arranging everything. By then, it had gotten cloudy and chillier, but I had nothing to do about that, so I also checked that non-stop Mega Image, just putting my things in a cabinet and then retrieving them, and then also went to Carrefour, once again putting everything in a cabinet and getting a couple of things, then retrieving what I had in the cabinet and arranging.
So I went to all of those places without a mask, and I’ve done something similar again since then, in large part because so few people still wear one, and most of those who do are old, so instead of acting as a layer of protection when it came to interacting with people, which noticeably reduced my anxiety during these past three years, wearing one now seems to no longer be socially acceptable and makes me stand out, so it tends to worsen the stress and anxiety… At a time when my mental state is so bad anyway.
Either way, I got back just before 3 PM, had lunch, and then I struggled and finally managed to make another call that has to do with what I can’t get myself to write about. But it was as pointless as anything else I’ve tried to do about it, before or since… And it made me eat a box of caramelized walnuts before leaving again. I had meant to eat it after I’ll get back again, in the evening, but I felt the need for it after that call. On the other hand, at least I also did the day’s squats.
I left again at 7:35 PM, wearing a mask and taking the metro, since dad said that he wanted to drive to and from work, so I had his metro card. I just went to Obor, but I checked four Mega Image locations and one Shop & Go from that area, getting a few Kapia peppers that were among the spoiling products in the second Mega Image, without being charged for the bag. They were imported, but I hadn’t seen Romanian ones anywhere and in that location they were listed as being from Greece, so at least from the EU, and I chose to believe the label even though in all other Mega Image locations it said that they were from Turkey. Either way, I stuffed that bag in a pocket and entered the other locations with it, and in the last Mega Image I found chili peppers among the spoiling products and meant to get a bag for dad. However, I couldn’t find them on the shelf, so I didn’t know the price and also thought that there was a chance to find an evening discount for them at Kaufland, and that Mega Image closes later, so I put the bag that seemed to contain the best ones at the bottom of the pile and walked out.
I also checked Penny, and the guard stopped me when I was leaving and asked me to unzip my jacket, so I did that and showed him what I had in the inside pockets, but he still patted me for a moment before saying that it was fine. He never checked the pocket where I had those Kapia peppers, however. Either way, it seemed that the trash hadn’t been gathered at all in that area and at first I meant to gather ten bottles and put them in that machine, but after picking up the two that went towards that other voucher, I only spotted two others that were clean and would certainly be accepted and easy to get, without digging through trash or being right next to occupied benches, so I just kept those two that went towards that voucher and walked away, ending up wasting a little more time by going to the next crossing and then walking back from there.
Carrefour was next, and I put the Kapia peppers and the bottles in a cabinet, then I got an expiring product for dad and also meant to get two beers for him, since there should have been a discount for the second one. However, they seemed to have changed their schedule for sales and the ones that I knew of had apparently ended the previous day, since I didn’t see any label announcing that discount anymore and when I went to the self-checkout, after paying for the other product separately, I scanned the beers and no discount applied, so I motioned to the guy who was at the computer to clear the transaction and walked out, retrieving my things from the cabinet and stuffing the purchases in my pockets, so I just put those bottles back in a cabinet when I got to Kaufland, not caring for the fact that it didn’t lock. Then I washed my hands and entered the store when it was past 9:40 PM, maybe closer to 9:45 PM, and just got a couple of things, rushing to the self-checkout when it was announced that the store had closed and needing to call an employee to override the error when the machine said that the kohlrabi was not the correct product. Then I took my time to put the purchases from there and the bottles from the cabinet in the backpack, ripping the leaves off the kohlrabi in order to make all of it fit in a bag and throwing away the naked stem parts, before stopping once again after walking out, to also add what I had in my pockets and arrange everything better. And I saw a cart with a coin in it in the parking lot when I walked away, so I connected it to others and retrieved the coin.
I then returned to that Mega Image, entering with the backpack and finding that bag of chili peppers still where I had placed it, even though the others that I had placed over it had been moved. I still couldn’t find a price label, however, so I asked at the checkout, then bought it, once again not being charged for the bag. Then I rather rushed back to the metro, just grabbing another one of those bottles that go towards that voucher off the street, just as I was crossing to the station, so I only added the chili peppers, along with that bottle, in the backpack as I was waiting for the metro, arranging everything once again after doing so.
I got back right at 11 PM, though after cleaning the litter box I went to drop a bag of trash down the chute. I’m not sure how I had managed to remain somewhat functional until then, after that call and the resulting hopelessness and despair, but at that point I was so out of it, nearly stunned… But a little after 12:10 AM I went to take a bath, being done an hour later. Then I also sliced three breads for dad and washed and cleaned what I could out of what was in the kitchen, finally starting to eat dinner at 3:35 AM. I finished at 4 AM and got in bed at 5:20 AM.

And now I should have moved on to the day of the half marathon, but I just can’t get myself to write about that either. I definitely mean to write about it, just like I mean to write about April 8, so it won’t end up like the period spent in the hospital… But I did so badly that it feels like a trauma, so I just can’t, at least for now. But wasting a personal post on a single day that’s not such an important event is unacceptable, so I guess I’ll also add Thursday here, since that’s when I went to Bookfest.
I initially meant to leave at 4 PM, switching to 4:30 PM after learning that dad didn’t need the metro card, but then he started getting ready to cook and would have messed things up even more if I wouldn’t have helped with something, so it was past 5:05 PM when I finally did leave, after first going to drop a bag of trash down the chute, then returning in order to also grab the recyclables. I still made the small detour needed in order to drop them off in a recycling bin, however, not walking all the way to the metro station with them again. And I once again didn’t wear a mask when I’d have done so before, taking one with me but not putting it on for that metro ride or even at the fair, which I reached a little after 6:20 PM, after getting off at Aviatorilor and trying a different route that was supposed to be a little shorter but getting confused and losing some time instead.
I entered the hall through the last door, looked left and the second publisher I saw was the one that I knew focused on Romanian science fiction and fantasy, so I started looking, hesitating a little before the person who was there gestured for me to enter that small stand, at which point I did. But I still had the music on and definitely didn’t mean to interact in any way, yet she got up and asked what should she tell me about, insisting despite the fact that I said that I was just looking, asking whether I preferred science fiction or fantasy and then what kind of fantasy, and when she continued, getting into specifics, I turned off the music and rather grudgingly paid more attention, eventually asking about the price of the series that she recommended and then saying that I’ll look around and maybe return later. And I did keep that series in mind and might have ended up buying it if I’d have found something else to add that was cheap enough to get close to the maximum amount that I meant to spend, without going over it, but I guess it’s a good thing that I didn’t, because I checked some reviews after getting back and saw that the author wrote science fiction before, the stories take place in the same universe and some important details tend to require reading those other books, which I’d otherwise have no interest in.
Either way, I then tried to make a plan and looked all around, finding a Leftist publisher, which I kept in mind just in case, and two other Romanian fantasy publishers that I didn’t know about, plus some fantasy books in another place that I only checked at the very end, since it was right in front of that first stand and that first interaction had messed me up quite badly, so I had a very hard time persuading myself to get back in that area. But, to return to those other fantasy publishers, I don’t care about reading fantasy in Romanian, and when it’s actually written by Romanian authors it seems even worse, but I look in part because I wonder whether anything would change my impression and in part because I just want the genre to develop and be more successful here as well. And loud music was playing in the stand of the first of those two new publishers, so I knew that conversation was not expected and I was indeed allowed to check out books without anyone saying anything. Things might have been different if I’d have actually entered the stand of that second new fantasy publisher that I found, and the prices, which contrasted with those from the other one, which struck me as unreasonably high even with the discounts, did make me want to do so, but two authors were there at the time, the few other people who had gathered meaning that the small space was filled anyway, and what I saw gave me the impression that they focused on paranormal romance, so I passed by the stand a few times but didn’t actually pick up any of the books. And when I checked after getting back I confirmed that impression about their focus, though not all of their books fit in that genre and I actually saw at least one that seemed interesting, if not two, and the discounted price would have made it worth the risk.
Back to the fair, I did avoid Seneca, as in those who also make and send those packages that I tend to volunteer to help put together, until the manager seemed to have left, since she’d have probably recognized me, but otherwise it was a relief that I was pretty much ignored by everyone except that first person and an author who was at the stand of some other publisher that I was just checking without actually being interested, who came to me, pointed out her book and asked whether I wanted her to tell me about it, at which point I just said that I didn’t and walked away. Even when I quite thoroughly checked the books in English that were available at the place that I got something from last year, the two people who were there didn’t say anything even when I had to stand right next to one of them in order to check a certain section. I didn’t find anything to buy from there this time around, however.
Still, I did end up buying two books. They’re in Romanian and nonfiction, and the first, An Immense World, came from a publisher that seems to have quite a few other potentially interesting titles. They’re just titles that I’d want to read, not necessarily also own, especially since they’re translated in Romanian, but I did end up buying that one, and then I went back to Seneca, since the manager didn’t seem to be there anymore, and got Scenes from the Heart. After deciding to try checking the Library once again after getting back, I saw that the catalog was finally back on-line and this second book is also available in one location, but I mainly purchased it in order to support them, since they actually have a collection of environmental books, print on recycled paper, plant trees for those books, and also use a part of the sales for those other programs that they have.
The fair was supposed to close at 8 PM that day and that time was approaching as I made those purchases, so I was rather rushing, but I walked out at 7:55 PM without hearing any sort of announcement, and I also can’t say that I noticed anyone gathering their things and getting ready to close. On the other hand, I finally did put on the mask just before getting back to the metro station, going to Carrefour Orhideea and actually taking the metro all the way instead of getting off at Basarab and then walking, which might be slightly faster even if I use the right exit… But I used the wrong one, being confused by the fact that I wasn’t coming from the direction that I pretty much always come from when I get there by metro, and then had to wait more at the stoplights. And going there proved to be a complete waste of time anyway. At least I entered with the backpack, and confirmed that they do still make that bread in that location, even though they don’t seem to make it at Unirii anymore, and I’m not sure about Park Lake either, finding two left even at that hour, but when we couldn’t even fit the bread that we already had in the freezer, I didn’t get any, and I didn’t find anything else either.
I then walked to Kaufland, using the toilet and then once again entering with the backpack, since I just had those books in it. It was 9:20 PM at that point and nothing that I cared to get was left in the bakery area, but some green onions were left and they had an evening discount, and on top of the actual bundles there was also a pile of cut tops in the next crate, so I initially grabbed three bundles and those tops, but in the end I put two of the bundles back, just buying one, in order to justify also getting those tops… Not that anyone said anything. Either way, I also got some cheese and the one bag of spoiling bananas, even if they were discounted only by a little over 50% and the base price was quite high, since I opened it and they seemed to be quite good when I looked… Though when I ate one after getting back I saw that it had been a wrong impression and I probably shouldn’t have bought them. And the fact that I did also led to needing to wait for an employee, since I went to the self-checkout just before closing time but was still waiting for someone to get to me when the announcement came, since those bananas wouldn’t scan. And the employee who finally came after a while asked me to read the code, since she couldn’t see it, and after logging on and entering it she also added the charge for the bag. I’m pretty sure that it’s the first time when I get charged for a bag that I’m forced to use in this manner at Kaufland, but I just frowned and paid, then arranged the purchases in the backpack and went back to the metro, ending up waiting ten minutes and not even using them to protect the books a little better, only thinking to put them in one more bag and arrange things a little differently in the backpack while on the metro. But that seems to have been good enough, the brine from the cheese not getting to them.
I got back a little after 10:45 PM, once again went to drop a bag of trash down the chute after cleaning the litter box… And I realized that it was going to be a long night when I saw how much I had to clean after dad had cooked. So I ate what was still usable from a banana, something sweet and some yogurt with oats while taking care of a part of the washing and cleaning, then I went to drop another bag of trash down the chute and finally went to shower when it was 1:35 AM. I was done just over half an hour later, but I still had plenty to do, so I eventually ate dinner between 4 AM and 4:45 AM.

At least I managed to post what’s above before midnight, but this next part should probably also be in this post, so I edited it about half an hour later in order to add that things might have been different if I’d have rushed to go to bed that morning. Probably not, since I doubt that they’d have noticed the problem soon enough, but at least I wouldn’t have been affected by what made me write the previous post just then. As it was, however, I decided to check some more things, including HonestGamers, saw two comments on my review for Blades of Heaven, which was the most recent one that was listed, and clicking to see them led to having my password stolen, in plain text! I only realized that the next day, but knowing that the account had probably been compromised made me change that password right away, being relieved that seeing those posts about the site having been hacked had made me wary enough to avoid using any that might lead to other relevant accounts being compromised as well. And then I sent them a message about it and finally got in bed at 6:10 AM.
When I did realize what had really happened and how easy it is to harvest passwords from that site, I sent another message, that one somewhat angrier, and took my time to make sure that nothing else could be compromised, which mostly implied checking accounts that I hadn’t used in years, reactivating one despite not meaning to, deleting one that I was sure I had already deleted and finding that a few others had been deleted, either for inactivity or after changes to the sites, so there should be nothing left that uses any form of that password or any that someone who has it might be likely to figure out.
And since I already got to that next day, I’ll also mention here that I ate dinner between 3:35 AM and 4:20 AM and then I got in bed a couple of minutes after 5:15 AM. And this morning I finally managed to stick to the dinner schedule once again, but I ended up getting in bed at 5:20 AM, and after getting up to pee a little after 8:30 AM it was really hard to get back to sleep, my mind constantly getting back to what I can’t get myself to write about, so I only slept for a couple more hours after that, despite staying in bed until 1:30 PM or so.

Written by Cavalary on May 28, 2023 at 11:59 PM in Personal | 0 Comments

Warning: HonestGamers Is and Likely Has Been Harvested for Passwords!

I guess I won’t remove the links from my previous post, but it should be easy to understand why I won’t include any in this one, since the point is that it seems to be shockingly easy to inject code on HonestGamers and harvest passwords from anyone who views it while logged on. It’s sad to need to say this right after joining and being rather glad to see that the site was still active and kept its focus and old school look and feel and functionality, and the fact that it was now done through comments posted on one of my reviews even makes me feel rather guilty, but when it’s so easy to do, and also considering the announcements that I saw about the site having been hacked and the hacker continuing to have access, at least at one point, even after the administrator’s password was changed, it has probably been going on for some time, since it’s such an easy and lucrative target and the method hadn’t yet been discovered, or at least nothing at all was done about it.
I won’t go into more detail here, and what I noticed may well not be the only method used anyway, but be warned: If you use HonestGamers, having an account and viewing the site while logged on, your password has probably been stolen, in plain text, probably more than once, and changing it may well lead to the new one being harvested just as well until they’ll find a way to stop it from happening. And if it’s so easy to inject code, this may well be only a part of what may be, and possibly has been, delivered through that site. So make sure that any password you ever used on that site, as well as any that’s similar to any that you used there, isn’t used anywhere else, and be very careful in general.

Written by Cavalary on May 27, 2023 at 3:33 PM in IT & Copyright | 0 Comments

Switching to HonestGamers and a Poor Series of Three Runs in Five Days

I’ll start this post with a piece of personal news: From now on, my game reviews will be on HonestGamers. Last year’s change of ownership is a reason for concern, even if the founder is still very much involved and says that the new owner is a friend and things shouldn’t change much, but I needed a place to move to after the, to put it as mildly as humanly possible, terribly misguided redesign of MobyGames also meant throwing reviews under the bus, no longer having them go through approvals, displaying all of them at once, on one side of the screen, as on review aggregators or store sites, and not even rewarding them with contribution points anymore at the moment, with a plan to base the reward on the votes received in the future. And I remembered HonestGames from my days of submitting critic reviews on MobyGames and was relieved to see that it was still active, albeit much less so than before, and still keeping its focus on quality written reviews, including user reviews, and its old school look and functionality. So, while the reviews that I already have on MobyGames will also remain there, I started adding them on HonestGamers as well, submitting those for Venetica and Gone Home before going to bed this morning. The remaining 34 will come gradually, the vast majority of the titles not even being in the HonestGamers database at the moment, but they’ll come. And then, as long as that site won’t get messed up as well, any new game reviews will be added here and there, not on MobyGames. And maybe this will also finally get me to write that review for King of Dragon Pass, after finishing it no less than eight and a half months ago…

But this post should be about the series of three runs in five days… Though I’ll also add the evening of April 27 here, when dad said that he won’t pay the exact amount of the maintenance bill, will round up, so I said that if he’s ashamed to use small bills and coins, I’ll pay it again, and rushed up to do so. But the elevator stopped at the sixth floor, maybe because the inner door had opened a little, and after I closed it firmly and once again pressed the button for the tenth floor, I found myself going down instead, the button for the ground floor also being lit, and that was where I ended up, apparently because an older man had called the elevator while it was stopped, though when I showed my confusion and tried to tell him what happened, he said that I must have pressed the ground floor button by mistake, which I definitely hadn’t. And, after I told him where I was going, he also said that he thought that I had said that I won’t pay the bill anymore, which made me even more confused, since I had no idea who he was and definitely never said anything like that to anyone, so I guess it was a bad attempt at a joke. And he continued, asking what did my dad say about that, but by then we had arrived, since he was there for the same reason, and I could get away from him and pay… Only to have to wait for the elevator long enough for him to also pay, so we went down together as well, and he asked what dad was doing, if he still works at night, and then said that he’s doing so for the money, for the bonuses, waving it away when I said that it’s just his schedule and that’s when he’s on air. He also asked if I still worked, which made me even more confused, but after saying that I didn’t we finally arrived at my floor and I could get away, shaking quite visibly and struggling to hold it together.
Either way, after that I finished Fire and Blood, posting the quick review after eating that night, which I did between 3:15 AM and 3:50 AM, after finishing shaving around 1:10 AM and then also taking something out of the freezer and struggling to cut a part of it while it was still frozen, in order to then mix it into what I was going to eat. And I got in bed at 5:20 AM.

To finally get to the day of the first of the three runs, April 28, I got up when the alarm rang, at 2 PM, and had the usual stuff, with the sweet thing being the last slice of that old panettone, with added honey. On the other hand, while sitting on the toilet I once again found myself hunting ants. I had been seeing them on the sink for a few days, but then I spotted a couple of them below it once again, and when I looked at the door I saw several, and more after opening it, making me think that they were coming in around the pipes that are on that small piece of hallway. And this probably led to not quite leaving everything in the toilet… But I put on the full running gear and left at 4:15 PM, when the reported temperature was 16°C, holding steady.
The time was 1:17:46, with sector times of 4:20, 5:08, 5:56, 4:29, 5:04, 5:52, 4:37, 5:08, 6:02, 4:37, 5:13, 6:04, 4:28, 5:03 and 5:45, making for lap times of 15:24, 15:25, 15:47, 15:54 and 15:16. I hoped to stay under 1:18, but feared that I’ll embarrass myself and not even stay under 1:20. Still, I wanted a first lap on the pace needed to stay under 1:17, so under 15:24, and I fell just short of that. At that point I was thinking that I should realistically aim to stay under 1:19, and I settled more firmly on that target after lap two was only a second slower than lap one, with sectors two and three being faster than the first lap’s. Sector one of lap three was bad, but not as bad as the time would seem to indicate, considering the problems I had on it. However, trying but failing to stay under six minutes on sector three was a bad sign. But I still aimed to stay under 16 minutes on lap four as well, managing it despite getting slower, which was already obvious from sector one, since I obtained the same time as on lap three, but without the problems. Either way, staying under 16 minutes on lap five as well would have meant getting under 1:18:30, so I really pushed from the start of the lap and the first sector made me wonder if I couldn’t somehow get under 1:18 after all. I really doubted it, but I gave it everything and when the fastest sector two of the day meant that I needed 5:58 on sector three, I was thinking of each moment when I had lost time. But I did my best to focus and also managed the fastest sector three and lap of the day, getting under 1:18 by quite some margin.
There were some soggy parts of the lane, and some new damage, so I avoided what I could. And while there was also some wind, mainly on the first three laps, it was only really bad on the first part of sector one of lap three, which was also when people caused the worst problems. Not that there weren’t some issues on sector three of lap one as well, and on sectors one and two of lap two, and there might have also been a little hesitation on sector three of lap two, but sector one of lap three started with a brief stop because of a kid who was getting in front of me, immediately followed by needing to avoid another, then fighting a gust of wind, and then needing to avoid a guy with a small kid. By then I had decided that it’d be easier to keep in mind when I didn’t have problems caused by people and no longer trying to remember the details meant that they pretty much went away from my mind, but I’m pretty sure that there were some issues on the next two sectors as well, or at least on one of them, and sector one of lap four was also still rather crowded. However, the crowd mostly cleared after that and I just had to squeeze through another roadblock on sector one of lap five, at the boat dock, and briefly step on the grass on sector three of lap five.
Otherwise, there were some warnings from my left ankle on sector two of lap one, which quickly went away, I started feeling rather out of it on sector three of lap three, and on sector three of lap four all of the joints of my right leg started giving warnings, though they diminished after that. Still, that last lap showed that I was physically able to do better, the bigger problem being that I couldn’t focus, because of what I still can’t get myself to write about. I tried to put everything into that last lap, focusing more as I went along, but that was the best that I could do, and even then there were still moments when I found my mind slipping away.

After jogging back, I had lunch and went out again at 7:50 PM, taking the recyclables, minus a cardboard box that I forgot, and dropping them off in a bin. I first went to Tei, buying an iron supplement that you can get without a prescription, with a much lower amount than what I had been prescribed before and which quite clearly proved of no use, and also deciding to get toothpaste, putting the purchases in the backpack before exiting. Then I wasted a little time by quickly checking the Mega Image that’s next to the farmers’ market and having a look from the door in that Supeco, deciding to turn around without actually entering, before going to Carrefour, still not bothering to use a cabinet, and getting an expiring cozonac and a carton of eggs that were also expiring, plus beer for dad. I used the 10 RON voucher that I had at that point, having to tell the cashier what to enter it as…
After arranging everything in the backpack, being careful with the eggs, it was clear that I had no more time to go to both Penny and Kaufland, so I went to the other Kaufland, getting there at 9:35 PM, still not bothering to use a cabinet, washing my hands just with water, since there was no soap… And finding the bakery area completely cleared and the employee cleaning. But I got some red onions and saw plenty of leaves which had been torn off kohlrabies and left in the crate, and since they were going to be thrown away, I stuffed some in a pocket and zipped the pocket. I also wanted olives, but you need to ask for those and the employees seemed to be ignoring me, probably since they were getting ready to close, so I checked the area where some of those products may also be packaged and found one last shrink-wrapped pack of the olives that were on sale, grabbing it even though it contained over 300 grams and I had meant to ask for 200. Either way, I also grabbed a yogurt, and the line at the self-checkouts wasn’t that terrible that evening, though I also didn’t wait for the closing announcement before going there, only hearing it after I was done, having no problems with the machine, and had placed everything on the cabinets, in order to arrange the purchases into the backpack.
After walking away from there at 10:05 PM, I decided to also check that Mega Image that closes at 11 PM, for some reason wasting a little time by going around Kaufland instead of straight in that direction… And then just wasting more time by entering the store, at least without bothering to put the backpack in a cabinet, since I saw discounted products in the bakery area, but none of that bread was left and, while something else that I could use as bread was available and in a bag, there was no discount sticker on that bag and I didn’t ask, and I also found it among the packaged bread, so I didn’t know how it had ended up there, nor for how long it had been there.
Either way, I also went to Auchan, again entering with everything and having a quick look through the carts of bread which had been taken off the shelves, as usual… But I couldn’t find anything to get in there, so I just bought water for dad, and while now all of the checkouts are machines there, all of those that were still working and accepted cash were manned, so I had to go to a cashier after all, though at least there were no problems. Then I split the water into two bags before leaving and stopped again after crossing the road in order to place the bags on a bench and do a better job of arranging the bottles that were in one of them. And I made one more detour, in order to also check that non-stop Mega Image that does have evening discounts for bakery products, but that was just one more waste of time, as I left the bags with the water next to the cabinets, found nothing that I cared to get and left again, retrieving the bags.
I finally got back a few minutes before midnight, with 21 kg. Then I ate an expired but really nice bar that I already had and an orange and put the purchases in their place, and it was 12:40 AM when I went to wash. After that, I sprayed the bathroom again, using an old bug spray that I had noticed we still had, even though it expired long ago. Then I gathered my clothes from the balcony, also putting the sturdy bags and dad’s water there while I was at it, and took care of a few more things, so I only got back in the kitchen at 1:45 AM… And there were some more things to take care of even after that, including some things to wash, so I started eating dinner at 3:15 AM, using bread that I’d normally want to keep for the nights that come before runs, since it was the only kind that I had left. But I had started that series of three runs in five days, so I didn’t feel too bad about it. Either way, since I wrote some notes about the day and also sent dad an e-mail while eating, I finished at 4:10 AM… And two hours after getting in bed, a little more than one hour after falling asleep, my body decided to clean the plumbing, which hadn’t happened in a long time. Also, since I got to April 29, there were no visits recorded in either view that day.

Moving on to the early hours of April 30, I’d have still managed to start eating dinner before 3 AM despite getting to the kitchen when it was past 1:10 AM and then also exchanging a few words with dad, but I decided to move and mix some more of what I was going to eat, even though it wasn’t needed, and ended up starting to eat at 3:05 AM, though I still finished at 3:40 AM. But I kept wondering when to get up in order to be able to run and still watch the race and the handball matches, and also considering the fact that it wasn’t just Sunday, but just before May 1, so there could be events taking place in the park in the evening. And when I also saw some risk of rain in the evening, I decided to sacrifice sleep and go early after all, setting the alarm to ring at 10:30 AM but waking up a couple of minutes earlier, turning it off and getting up at that point… Which also meant that I wasn’t startled awake by the series of awfully loud firecrackers that were thrown a little after 11 AM. Either way, I then had the usual stuff, with the sweet thing being a slice of that cozonac bought two days earlier, with added honey, put on the full running gear and left at 12:45 PM, when the reported temperature was 18-19°C, increasing by 1°C by the time I finished.
The time was 49:23.58, with sector times of 4:31.01, 5:09.79, 6:06 (6:05.36), 4:36.03, 5:06 (5:05.82), 6:06.06, 4:37.22, 5:10.60, 6:07 (6:06.81) and 1:55 (1:54.88), making for lap times of 15:46.16, 15:48 (15:47.91) and 15:54.63. I couldn’t hope to get back under 48 minutes when it was so crowded, but I’m not sure that I had any chance of managing it even without the crowds, considering my state of mind and the lack of sleep, and the fact that I might have also still been tired after wandering around and carrying all of that weight two days earlier, in the evening. Either way, after the first sector I was already wondering whether I’ll even stay under 50 minutes, and while sector two wasn’t that bad, sector three and the lap told me that staying under 50 minutes was the best that I could hope for. But the lane being clearer on the first two sectors of lap two helped, and a lap that was only a little slower than the first made me wonder about getting under 49:30, so I pushed wherever I could on lap three and each sector seemed good enough, meaning that the lap also was. However, at that point I thought of the previous week’s run, so I kept pushing on the final sector and just managed to be a second less slow than then. Not that the time isn’t awful anyway…
There was some wind, but there was no room to really notice it, the park being awfully crowded, as expected. I was looking for a way through most of the time, there were several brief stops, times when I stepped off the path, even more when I slowed, had to weave all over… However, the lane was mostly clear on sectors one and two of lap two, and it showed, and sectors one and two of lap three didn’t seem as bad as lap one either, though it’s possible that it was because I was more used to picking my way through by then. But there were a few near misses, most notably on sector three of lap two, when a kid on a tricycle was called by his father to come along just as I was returning to the lane behind said father, so the kid suddenly came out from behind the other people who were walking next to the lane and I have no idea how I managed to avoid him. I was so sure that he was going to run into my ankle that I actually felt it, but it didn’t really happen. And on the final sector an older kid started running across the path from behind some other people just as I got there, there was no way we could have seen each other, and we barely managed to avoid running into each other. But there were many other moments when I just made it through, mixed with doing my best to take advantage of the clearer areas.
Otherwise, at the start my legs left heavy and there was some pain as well, and it seemed that I wasn’t breathing well enough either, but as time passed I seemed to get better, at least physically… Though there was a scary moment from this point of view as well, on sector three of lap one, when I stepped in another hole that’s under the lane, that spot being hard to remember, being right before that area where the lane is just painted and I’m focusing on the change, and my ankle really strained at that point, I had the feeling that I was close to an injury, but I managed to hold it just firm enough, or step off it just fast enough.

I once again jogged back, but also had a very quick look in the nearby Mega Image, probably out of habit, since I had no mask, no money and no time. And after getting back I even did 200 squats and eventually had something to count as lunch while watching the second handball match, or in fact its second half, since during the first half I fried those things. And I also started taking the supplements that I meant to take for 15 days, until the half marathon… But I forgot about the one with potassium and magnesium, which at least made things simple, since I had been thinking of just taking that one for ten days, so that became the plan.
I went out again a couple of minutes after 7:30 PM, and since I had seen before leaving that Penny’s campaign had been extended for another month, when I saw one of those bottles that go towards the 10 RON voucher I grabbed it and put it in a bag and then in the backpack. Then I went straight through the park, directly to Penny, and got something for dad and also some expiring mozzarella, even if I had to get two, since they were bundled, two for the price of one. And I rushed to Kaufland with the mozzarella in a pocket and the other things in one hand, putting them in a cabinet after getting there.
After washing my hands, it was past 8:15 PM when I entered the store and there was no more of that bread, but I saw one of each of two other kinds, scanned the label of the one that just had its regular discount from those days listed and saw a 75% discount applied to that listed price, so I got both, only confirming that the second one also had a 75% evening discount when I later also scanned its label, since the discounts that were listed at the time were of 50%, except a few products that had no evening discount listed, which included one sweet pastry that I was interested in, and I scanned that label and confirmed that it had no discount at all. But I got some other things, after scanning and confirming that the 75% evening discount applied to them. And dad called just after I was done with the bakery area, saying that mother wanted a certain kind of coffee, but despite searching carefully I couldn’t find it… Not that I’d have had the money for it, and I later saw that it was discounted at Carrefour anyway… Either way, I also got a few bananas, which also had an evening discount, plus two small yogurts and an expiring product, then kept searching for the non-refrigerated expiring products, since they had been moved, until it was announced that the store had closed, at which point I rushed to the self-checkouts… And found those products right there. And they included those caramelized walnuts, discounted by 60%, so I initially grabbed one box, but after scanning the other products and seeing the total I rushed back to grab one more. Then I retrieved what I had in the cabinet and wanted to leave, knowing that I had to use the emergency door but being unable to push it open, not even after trying again after the employee who was outside told me to push harder, so he opened it and then I used one of those tables to arrange everything except what I had in the bag that hangs from my neck in the backpack.
After walking away from there when it was past 9:10 PM, I also went to Carrefour on the way back, putting everything in a cabinet, entering the store when it was past 9:40 PM and just getting two more beers for dad… But the cashier asked for my ID, which never happened before, and I didn’t have it, so she said that she couldn’t sell them to me. I told her that I’m 38, but then shrugged it off and walked away… Only to then check, see that I still had two minutes before closing time and deciding to rush back in, grab two more of those beers and try another cashier, who was actually the one from the “family” checkout, since she was the only one left who was behind the one who had denied me, and she checked me out without any problems. Then I retrieved everything from the cabinet and added the beers in the backpack.
I got back at almost 10:25 PM, and after putting the purchases in their place I ate one of the boxes of caramelized walnuts while writing what I managed to post before midnight of that day’s post, also writing the notes about the day before going to the bathroom at 12:15 AM, to use the toilet and wash. It was almost 1:20 AM when I got back in the kitchen, after also arranging something in my room, and after dealing with one of my breads as well I started eating dinner at 3:05 AM, though I still finished at 3:40 AM. I got in bed at 5:25 AM.

After getting in bed at 5:20 AM, on May 2 I woke up twice when dad was in the bathroom, so probably because of the noise he made. The first time it was a little after 8:30 AM, the second a little after 12:30 PM, and I waited for him to be done to also go and pee, and since he stayed up after that second time and there was some noise from the upstairs neighbor as well, after that point I only got a couple brief naps, and when I woke up after one of them and was sure that the alarm was about to ring, I checked the time, saw 1:58 PM, turned off the alarm and got up. Then I had the usual stuff, the sweet thing once again being a slice of that purchased cozonac, with added honey, put on the full running gear and left at 4:15 PM, when the reported temperature was about 23°C, holding steady.
The time was 1:19:27, with sector times of 4:29, 5:11, 5:57, 4:32, 5:10, 5:58, 4:36, 5:13, 6:01, 4:40, 5:19, 6:06, 4:41, 5:29 and 6:05, making for lap times of 15:37, 15:40, 15:50, 16:05 and 16:15. I started by thinking that I might end up struggling to even stay under 1:22 and wondering whether I’ll manage to at least stay under 16 minutes on the first two laps, but the first lap was better than expected, and staying under six minutes on sector three was nice, and the second lap was only a little slower, and I once again covered sector three in less than six minutes, so I thought that I should stay under 1:21 and hoped to stay under 16 minutes on lap three as well, to be really sure. I only started wondering about getting under 1:20 after I managed that, after initially thinking that 1:20 was the best that I could hope for but not even daring to think that it was actually possible until then. And lap four didn’t just ensure that I was going to stay under 1:20, but was actually good enough to make me wonder about 1:19:30, so I pushed on lap five, and while sector two looked like it might have destroyed my chances, I had lost quite a few seconds right at the end of it, because of the roadblock, so I really went for it on sector three, and right at the end I put everything that I had left into a sprint, and it was enough… Not that it wasn’t a poor time even so.
While I guess that it did get more so on the last two laps, I wouldn’t say that the park was that crowded, but people just met at the wrong time for me, blocking my way. I stopped for a couple of seconds on the long straight of sector two of lap one, when multiple people reached each other right in front of me and a runner who was coming from the opposite direction was also just reaching them, and she seemed determined to stay on the lane, so I tried to squeeze between the other people, around the lane, but there was no room and I had to wait for her to pass. Other momentary roadblocks caused me to briefly stop twice more on sector one of lap four, and one more time on sector one of lap five. In between, on sector two of lap four, there was another brief stop while picking my way through a large group, the only way through being the one that a cyclist coming from the opposite direction was making for himself, so I waited for him to pass and then used that opening to go through as well. And I lost quite some time at the end of sector two of lap five, under the bridge, since the way was completely blocked. Some cyclists who were coming from the opposite direction were picking their way through, so I waited for the first two to pass and used the opening they had created, but two kids who were also on bicycles and had stopped behind them were about to do the same and I ended up facing one of them just as he meant to start, so we both stopped again and I had to squeeze around him. And there might have been a couple of other issues as well, maybe on laps two and three, but that meant slowing at most, not stopping. And I also had to go on the grass a few times, at least once only being able to get back to the path after quite a few meters.
Otherwise, the lane was damaged in more places, including one section, early on sector two, where it had been usable before but that day it had simply been dragged by something. No idea what did that, but it was raised in one spot, so I had to go around it in order to avoid tripping, and a little farther on there was a hole. And the wind was also a problem, with places where I fought it, though I’d say that it lessened on the last two laps and, even before that, it wasn’t as bad as I feared after seeing the forecast, and considering the gust that hit me as soon as I stepped out. As for physical issues, I was tired at first, but I felt better as I continued, and the pressing need that appeared at the end of lap three quickly went away. There was some pain that was quite clearly reflected from my back on sector two of lap five, but I managed it and it lessened after a little while.

After yet again jogging back, I ate a banana and the apple pastry that I still had, changed and left again at 7:30 PM, still forgetting that cardboard box. But I got what I had meant to get from Carrefour, taking some time to get just the right quantity of garlic to have a relatively round amount left to pay after using the vouchers that I had. However, the sign announcing the discount for the second pack of the coffee for my mother was gone, so at the checkout I said that a discount should apply and the cashier asked what if it didn’t, at which point I said that in that case I didn’t want it. I also had the label for the garlic in my hand, saying that I wanted to use that bag again and scanning it myself while the cashier was searching for it on the bag. However, while she showed me that a discount did apply, the total was higher than what I had calculated and I said that it wasn’t right, and she seemed bothered while we checked, saying that math was hard, obviously meaning that I was wrong. But then I realized that she hadn’t applied those vouchers, so I said so and she scanned them, taking away the receipts, and the remaining amount was the correct one. But I was already shaking after that interaction, and as I struggled to put the purchases in a bag, the bag of garlic fell open and the garlic scattered, so I had to gather it piece by piece. And after putting everything in the backpack I decided to take the elevator, but a woman rushed in after me and pressed the button for the first floor, which was enough to stun me when I was in that state, so I just stood there even though she gestured for me to also press, only pressing the button for the ground floor after she walked off, by which point others had called the elevator to the third floor, so I ended up going there and then finally going down in a crowded elevator, feeling even worse.
After that, I decided to just go to that other Kaufland, having a quick look in another store that I noticed had appeared on the way, washing my hands when I got to Kaufland, not bothering to use a cabinet, entering the store just after 9 PM and finding that some of the bread that I’d usually want to get from there was left and it had a 30% evening discount applied on top of the regular discount that it had those days. It wasn’t 50%, like other bakery products had at that point, and I scanned that label and another one in order to make sure, but I took one of those breads after all. Then, after wandering around for a while, some time after 9:30 PM it was announced that bakery products were discounted by 75% and I went back there and scanned a couple more labels, confirming that some buns did have that 75% discount and getting two of them. I also scanned that bread’s label again, but its discount hadn’t increased at all. So I also waited for 9:45 PM and then I made my way to the self-checkouts, and those who were ahead of me left 0.86 RON in the change tray. I saw that they had left something there, but I didn’t know how much at first and they didn’t seem to care, taking their time to bag their purchases, and it was hard to speak anyway, so I didn’t say anything and then grabbed the coins when I went to use the machine, having no problems with it. Then I set some things down on the cabinets and took some time to check that I had everything, still feeling quite out of it when I walked away.
I got back at 10:25 PM, but after a little while I went to throw a bag of trash down the chute. Then I put the few other purchases, except the bread, in their place and had a small lunch before going to the bathroom a couple of minutes before midnight, to use the toilet and wash. I was done at 1:05 AM, but there were a few more things to do and I also dealt with the bread that I had bought and once again moved and mixed something, so I again ate dinner between 3:05 AM and 3:40 AM. I got in bed at 5:20 AM.

Written by Cavalary on May 21, 2023 at 11:59 PM in Personal | 0 Comments

New Finds – XLIX

Since there were two other bands that I meant to include in the previous post in this series, before ending up making it about bands from Estonia, I’ll start this one with them. And since it’s another rushed one, as usual, the third band will also be picked from those that I ended up checking again at that time, when I was looking for bands that tackled environmental topics, even if they haven’t released anything new since 2018 and can probably be said to no longer actually exist. Either way, none of the bands from this post are new finds in any way, but at least the first two do have new releases within the past year.

Asylum Pyre actually tackles environmental topics as well, my pick of an older song, On First Earth, making that very clear, and that’s a good part of the reason why I’m adding them, and possibly why I put them on the list in the first place, since the sound of many of their songs isn’t one that I’m particularly fond of. But the newer song that I picked, Fighters, is actually pretty good, so they’re definitely not here just because of the topics that they tackle.

The next band, Borealis, is perhaps more unusual for me, since they have male vocals, and they’re not operatic either. Still find the sound quite enjoyable, however, which likely means that they’re actually very good and someone who doesn’t focus on female-fronted symphonic metal as much as I do will probably have an even better opinion of them. Even so, while my pick of a newer song, Ashes Turn to Rain, should be “fair”, it might be said that my second pick, The Journey, is far less so, because it also features female vocals. But, again, my picks are just the songs that I prefer, they’re not supposed to be representative.

As for the third band, that’s Crysalys and they seem to have gone silent after their EP from 2018. Then again, that seems to have been their first and only release since their one full album, which was released back in 2011, but with their vocalist working with Therion and apparently being involved in other projects as well, it seems unlikely that they’ll return. Either way, there are just two songs that are posted officially, The Awakening of Gaia and Moonlight Encounter, so that makes it easy when it comes to my picks. There’s such a massive evolution between the two that it’s hard to believe it’s the same band, but the only new band member seems to have been the male vocalist. Admittedly, he also makes quite a difference, but everything else is also so, so much better, all of the obvious potential that was wasted in their early years on a sound that could make you cringe finally being brought to the surface and allowed to shine.

Written by Cavalary on May 20, 2023 at 6:49 PM in Music | 0 Comments

Eurovision 2023

What I can say about this year’s edition is that there was no question about the best act and that the two semi-finals differed greatly in quality, with the second one being pretty hard to watch. But the final turned out well enough, at least as far as I could tell, since I watched it while working on dinner, though the typical problem of some good songs being harmed by the low show value remained, and it was strange that it seemed that the microphone was turned off for the first couple of seconds after the song ended, during that brief period when singers are allowed to say something, so the first word or two tended to get lost. On the other hand, if I’m to move past the music, the fact that Ukraine came only fourth in the televote, with no points from ten countries, serves as a very worrying poll result, showing that many are unfortunately playing right into the hands of the Russian regime and growing weary of the war and the need to support Ukraine, meaning that the counteroffensive can’t come soon enough and needs to deliver notable victories.
Returning to the songs, I didn’t look at or read anything about the rehearsals, but I more or less knew what to expect, having watched the songs as they were posted on the official channel, the recordings from the national finals also offering an idea about the planned show, though it’s possible that there were some songs that I moved on from before they finished, while on the other hand there were obviously a few that I listened to quite a number of times. I even glanced at a few of the other entries from a few national finals at some point, but pretty much only in passing.

In terms of the overall quality of the act, there was no question about Sweden being first. Perhaps there were a few parts of the song that weren’t performed quite as well as they could have been, but the song itself is great and the overall performance was more than good enough to be unchallenged this year, if the voting would be fair, and in this case it was. While that may not be that hard these days, I must say that it just about moved me to tears. And, despite the fact that we’re talking about a single person on the stage, the show value was notable as well. So I fully agree with the jury score, since the juries gave it almost twice the points of the second placed entry, and wonder what the public was thinking, since it didn’t win the televote in as much as a single country… And it wasn’t even in the top ten in one country… Which country, interestingly, was Finland.
It seems that Finland ending up second was completely expected, but while I’ll admit that it’s a catchy song with a pretty notable show value and my opinion of it improved in the final, I just don’t like the song enough to be able to get myself to rank it so highly. Is it one of the better entries? Definitely. But second seems too much. So the fact that it won 18 televotes, so just under half, and it wasn’t lower than fifth anywhere once again makes me raise an eyebrow when it comes to the voters.
Israel also had one of the better entries, and while I found myself wondering why was it battling Italy for second place as the jury votes were presented, it did well enough in my classification as well, its position being a bit of a surprise when I noticed it, so I can’t say that I can’t understand why it appealed to voters… And then there’s the visual appeal of the singer as well. It’s a matter of the numbers speaking rather than a subjective impression, so I wouldn’t have said so if asked during the competition, but now I find it hard to come up with serious reasons to complain about it ending up third.
Well, if you don’t count the fact that Israel being third puts it in front of Italy, that is. Sure, Italy was fourth in my classification as well, but that still put it in front of both Israel and Finland, and I guess that in this case the show value triumphed over the song, since there should be no question that Italy had one of the better songs of the competition. It couldn’t challenge Sweden in any way, I already said that nobody could, but I consider it the entry that was most objectively justified to aim for second place.
As for Norway, that’s an entry that I was rather fond of from the beginning, but there were problems with how it was performed that prevented me from ranking it higher. Or maybe I just overcompensated for that good initial impression. Either way, I’m rather glad that it ended up higher than in my classification. Catchy song, pretty powerful performance, some show value as well. Not one of the very best from any one point of view, but one of the better overall packages if you put it all together.

Since I didn’t even give any more thought to changing my ranking system, even if I sometimes disagree with the results, I’m just sticking to the one I’ve been using for so long, giving one mark for song and another for show value, plus a positive, neutral or negative modifier, and ranking first according to the overall mark that is the result of averaging the song and show ones, then according to the song mark and then, if both marks are equal, according to the modifier. In case all three are equal, the ranking is the result of me trying to quickly compare the performances in question at the end.
Once again, still largely for my own use, I’ll list all the information here, with the first number being the position in my classification, the one between parentheses that follows it being the actual position, the first number that follows the country name being the overall mark, the second being the song mark and the modifier, if not neutral, being listed at the end. All links are from the official channel, so they shouldn’t vanish.

1. (1.) Sweden (7.25, 7.5)
2. (9.) Australia (6.75, 6.5)
3. (13.) Croatia (6.75, 6)
4. (4.) Italy (6.5, 6.5)
5. (20.) Switzerland (6.5, 6.5)
6. (3.) Israel (6.5, 6)
7. (2.) Finland (6.5, 6, minus)
8. (7.) Belgium (6.5, 6, minus)
9. (16.) France (6.25, 7, minus)
10. (8.) Estonia (6.25, 6.5, plus)
11. (26.) Germany (6.25, 6, plus)
12. (5.) Norway (6.25, 6, plus)
13. (25.) United Kingdom (6.25, 6, plus)
14. (22.) Albania (6.25, 6)
15. (23.) Portugal (6.25, 6)
16. (18.) Moldova (6.25, 6)
17. (19.) Poland (6.25, 6)
18. (21.) Slovenia (6.25, 6)
19. (10.) Czechia (6.25, 6)
20. (17.) Spain (6.25, 5.5)
21. (14.) Armenia (6.25, 5.5)
22. (11.) Lithuania (6, 6, plus)
23. (6.) Ukraine (6, 5.5, plus)
24. (24.) Serbia (6, 5)
25. (12.) Cyprus (5.75, 6, plus)
26. (15.) Austria (5.75, 5.5)

My ranking matched the actual result for Italy, Serbia and Sweden, was one place off for Belgium, and two or three places off for Estonia, Israel, Moldova, Poland, Slovenia and Spain. On the other hand, it was at least ten places off for Austria, Croatia, Cyprus, Germany, Lithuania, Switzerland, Ukraine and United Kingdom.

This time I’ll add the comments about the semi-finals before those about my top ten, starting with the fact that it’s weird how all the songs started with low volume during the first, the fact that the behavior was so consistent making it hard to see it as a sound problem. Either way, I had Ireland, Latvia and Malta in the top ten instead of Czechia, Finland and Serbia, but Malta was only there thanks to the show value and replacing it with Finland was definitely right, but I’m unhappy about the other two, and about Serbia making it in particular, despite the show value, since the song struck me as just awful, one of the worst in quite some time. As for the second semi-final, it was much poorer and there were only a few entries that I actually wanted to see again in the final, but if I had to pick ten, I had Denmark and Iceland instead of Lithuania and Austria, but Denmark was in Malta’s situation from the first semi-final, only being there thanks to the show value, so I’m rather glad that it didn’t make it and Lithuania replacing it was fair, since it was 11th in my classification, but Austria being there instead of Iceland really bothered me, as you can see by the fact that I placed Austria last in the final.

And this is how far I managed to get before midnight, which is why I put those comments about the semi-finals first, since there were all I still had time for, editing the post later in order to add the rest. After all, I did the same thing last year as well, though in that case I moved the part about the semi-finals back at the end after I added the rest while now I don’t want to do that anymore. I did consider giving up on this idea and making a second post for the comments about my top ten when I didn’t just fail to even start writing them before going to bed in the morning, but could only get myself to write five the following day, but after adding a few things to the parts about Sweden and Finland above Monday evening, I stuck to the original plan, adding the comments about my top five in the early hours of Tuesday and those about the next five Tuesday evening.

Sweden’s entry grew on me before the competition, my opinion of it continued to improve even between the semi-final and the final, where it almost moved me to tears, and now I’m rather stuck on it. The best song in a competition where few entries were notable thanks to the quality of the music, enough of a show value despite just having a single person on stage and a good, albeit not perfect, performance make for an entry that was, or should have been, unchallenged.
Ask me now about Australia and I’d tend to move it a few places lower, but during the final I found the entry enjoyable enough and maybe the better one that had something to do with rock or metal, even if some people will frown at that. It doesn’t actually stand out in any way, but it remains one of the better entries overall and if the opinion I had of it during the actual competition made it end up second according to my ranking system, that’s where it is.
Croatia is obviously where it is strictly thanks to the show value and the message about Putin and his regime. The fact that it’s in Croatian and not in English is probably why the organizers closed their eyes and allowed it to compete, but the key words are clear enough even so, which is the whole point, and what’s presented on stage makes things even clearer, if needed. There are actually a few parts of the song that aren’t that bad either but, again, that doesn’t exactly matter.
Italy had one of the few other songs that were actually good in this competition. It couldn’t challenge Sweden, but it probably should have been second… And it would have been second in my classification if they wouldn’t have pretty much ensured that most people would miss the fact that it actually had some show value as well. They put some effort into it, but then relegated all of that to the back of the stage, with the camera staying on the singer. I have no idea why they chose to do that, but I do believe that it hurt them.
While not at the same level in itself, Switzerland also had one of the better songs of the competition, helped by the message that suits the current situation, and parts of it even stuck in my mind. Even considering how weary of the matter so many people unfortunately are, it deserved to do better than it did.
Israel’s position in my classification surprised me, but I can’t really argue against the numbers in this case. Nothing stood out, with the possible exception of the singer’s good looks, but a show value that was good enough to be remembered and a song that wasn’t bad in a competition with few good ones combined into a package that seems to justify this position if you analyze the data in this manner.
My opinion of Finland’s entry improved in the final, enough to make it end up in seventh place, but I’ll rather grudgingly allow even this. Yes, both the show value and the catchy song ensured that it’ll be remembered, but in my opinion the show was of poor taste and the song wasn’t something I’d actually enjoy either. Looking at the facts, it was one of the better entries in a competition where few stood out, but let’s just say that I rather it wouldn’t have been…
I was also surprised by Belgium’s position in my classification, especially after I had completely forgotten the song pretty much the instant it finished and then spent quite some time trying to remember what it was, but a song that wasn’t bad and some attention paid to the show value means that the marks are quite clear and, according to them, it can only be in this position.
On the other hand, France’s entry was one that I wish I could have ranked higher, because the song deserved it, even if it was probably too typically French, so much so that an AI might have produced it if asked to come up with something to represent French music. Unfortunately, the entirely static performance dragged it down, and I’d even be tempted to say that the pedestal and the singer’s gestures gave a feeling of haughtiness, arrogance, something along those lines.
Not at the same level, but Estonia also had one of the competition’s few better songs and it was performed well. On the other hand, all I can say about the show value is that at least it wasn’t a static performance, so I couldn’t place the overall package any higher, though I’m pretty glad that it did end up a couple of places higher in the actual competition.

Written by Cavalary on May 14, 2023 at 11:59 PM in Music | 0 Comments