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The EU Finally Asks for Reduced Gas Use… In the Wrong Ways

Even though only two weeks ago the European Union was giving such a nice gift to Russia, and to various other countries and corporations that gain profits, power and influence by destroying the world, by labeling gas as “green”, it now seems that enough officials have finally realized the extent of the Russian threat well enough to demand a reduction in gas use. Sadly, while such a call does finally go a step further than trying to obtain the gas from other sources, this is still done strictly in order to mitigate the effects of Russia possibly cutting off the gas supply, the decision not even “merely” ignoring the environment, which should have been the main reason behind it, but actually harming it by stating clearly that returning to coal is among the possible solutions!
When, and what, will finally be enough to make people wake up? And yes, I’m referring to people in general, because the officials are quite clearly correct when they say that not returning to the use of more and worse fossil fuels will cause unrest, because “people worry most about the immediate crisis and not about the long-term crisis”. And there’s always an immediate crisis, or more than one. Not that it’s even needed, since it’d be even more accurate to say that people don’t think about the long-term, which is how we ended up here. After all, what we’re seeing now is the result of what was done, or not done, decades ago… And what we do, or don’t do, now decides what will happen for decades to come. But even now, when we’re at best seconds from disaster, too few care enough to impose the necessary changes.
What would it take for enough people to finally realize that we can’t do this anymore? That we can’t keep burning fossil fuels. That we can’t keep polluting the air, water and soil. That we can’t keep depleting the soil. That we can’t keep wiping out the other species we share, or should be sharing, this planet with. That we can’t keep digging up materials, not caring for the impact. That we can’t keep overexploiting even supposedly renewable resources. That we can’t keep overproducing and overconsuming. That we most definitely can’t keep overpopulating. That we can’t keep supporting this economic system that destroys both the planet and people’s lives for profit. That all of this is our choice, our decision, our fault, our responsibility… But also, if it’s not too late already, our chance to fix everything, and in so doing redeem ourselves.

Written by Cavalary on July 21, 2022 at 8:04 PM in Society | 0 Comments

Quick Review: The Tower of Fools

Not counting the prologue, which mainly consisted of a list of names that I couldn’t keep track of, the first few chapters were quite a joy to read, with good writing and humor. However, after a while it became a matter of pushing through, at least until chapter 25, which was when the author seemed to remember where he wanted the book to go and how to take it there, and also the importance of meaningful character interaction and development. Even that chapter’s crazy, jarring start is worth mentioning, probably being just what was needed to make the reader know that it’s actually worth paying closer attention again. And the level seemed to remain somewhat higher after that chapter, though I don’t know whether that’s objectively the case or it’s a result of the lasting impression it left.
But most of the book tends to drag on, getting bogged down in a small scope and mundane matters, the greater and supernatural events it hints at taking too long to arrive and not being sufficiently emphasized even when they finally do. And with a fool as the lead, an asshole as his main companion and all kinds of rottenness in most other characters, it’s hard to like or cheer for them. Also, if for a while I was thinking that the book was originally written for a Polish audience, in Polish, so the fact that I couldn’t keep track of the names, and even of some of the events that were being mentioned, was my problem, as I continued reading I got an ever stronger impression that, assuming he wasn’t just making things up, since I didn’t care to check, the author was showing off his knowledge of the period at the expense of the book’s actual story and characters. And he’s definitely showing off and making it hard for the reader by adding all those parts in Latin, and occasionally in other languages as well, and not translating them except on rare occasions, mainly towards the end. Admittedly, this is something that the publisher could have fixed.

Rating: 3/5

Written by Cavalary on July 16, 2022 at 10:20 PM in Books | 0 Comments

Would Have Been 20

I almost ended up doing the same thing I did last year, using another one of those old book reviews in order to create a “slot” for this post, but Webb‘s first images provided too good of an opportunity for a post that, while admittedly being embarrassingly brief and shallow, nevertheless created this “slot” for another personal one without the need to resort to one more of the remaining handful of old reviews that I’m yet to also add here. Not that a July 12 post wouldn’t be a very good reason to use up one of those, and even more so when it’s one that marks such a milestone, and both of these posts being added on the same day still means that I need one more by the end of the week, but I’m still trying to avoid using those old reviews for as long as I can. And the next post should be a quick review anyway, since I really should finish The Tower of Fools by the end of the week.

But, as I already said, today marks a milestone, 20 years since I first met Andra, since that first kiss and since moving so smoothly from being just friends to more, and mixing that with any other matters is terribly inappropriate. So what I’ll add here is that, yes, I did send an e-mail today, but obviously just because I know that it won’t get anywhere, because sending something like that, and on such a day, would be pretty bad, to put it mildly, if it might actually reach her… Even if that’s the opposite of what I was thinking last Monday, when I also sent an e-mail, after Micky died, to ask how long and how well did Bubu live after I wasn’t there anymore. But that’s something that I probably asked before, in messages that most likely also didn’t get anywhere, so I had in fact intended to make use of what I thought was the next to last contact method that I was actually likely to be able to use… Only to find that, since I had made use of it twice in the past, instead of blocking me there as well, she made it so those she’s not friends with won’t be able to send her messages there anymore. With well over a year since that second and last attempt to use that contact method, I don’t know exactly when it happened, but wonder if, instead of an act of “mercy”, to still allow me to see the profile, even if it seems that she doesn’t actively use that site anymore, that’s because a block would have indicated that she had seen my message back then.
Either way, this is obviously one of the two times per year when I tend to try to look things up, though this time around that proved futile. So my worst fear obviously remains the same, and not finding anything new just allows me to keep hoping that it didn’t and won’t materialize, without confirming in any way that it didn’t. And it’s the same when it comes to her at least being all right, hoping but being unable to know. And yes, something like this most likely looks bad in the eyes of anyone who might be reading. But nobody does, and even if anyone would, I don’t care. My feelings remain the same, and if a couple of searches and maybe also a couple of messages that don’t get anywhere per year are all I can still do, I guess that’s what I’ll do…

Otherwise, I’ll just yet again repeat what I also wrote two years ago: Our time together included the only moments when I thought that this life might just be worth living after all, that the future might just be something that I could even look forward to instead of this bleak, hopeless, terrifying source of constant anxiety, depression and even actual horror, at least on a personal level, since otherwise the reasons for hope are very few and getting fewer by the moment. So the fact that those good moments did exist is the only fuel I have for this whisper of a shred of hope that maybe I’ll have that again someday, at which point all of this would have been worth it. Of course I’m aware that it’s an entirely false hope, only created and maintained even at this purely theoretical level by my mind because, seeing as I was and still am too much of a coward, I’m still around and must hang on to something, the idea of the end coming, by whatever means, without something that’d make all the suffering as well as the use of resources be worth it happening first being a too disappointing prospect, to put it mildly, and getting ever more so as time passes. But, again, it’s all that’s left to cling on to, and has been for all this time… Which, in spite of all the suffering caused by her leaving, is still infinitely more than I had before my relationship with her.

Written by Cavalary on July 12, 2022 at 10:34 PM in Personal | 0 Comments

Webb’s First Images

It’s good to be wrong sometimes, and this was one of those moments, since I had misgivings about what the James Webb Space Telescope will be capable of and yet the first images, starting with the one that was released early, yesterday, definitely delivered. I mean, assuming that it was going to finally make it past all the problems and obstacles, it did seem that it was going to be an extraordinary tool for scientists, at least as long as it will start and then continue to operate as intended. However, such a flagship mission, with such an immense budget, is sadly required to generate great media and public interest in order to have a future, regardless of its scientific value, and it’s its capacity to produce the “eye candy” that’s responsible for generating such interest that I had doubts about.
Well, it does appear that I shouldn’t have worried, because these images are just what would be expected from Hubble‘s successor. Whether they’re enough to make humanity start looking up once again at a time when we’re stumbling and looking down at our feet probably more than at any point for at least the past several decades, I don’t know, but it is just about as much as anyone could have asked of it, and of the team. Now I can only hope that no problems will appear and it’ll continue to function at full capacity for many, many years to come, seeing as, unlike Hubble, it won’t have the benefit of maintenance and repair missions, or at least not in the foreseeable future, considering our current level of technology.

Written by Cavalary on July 12, 2022 at 8:09 PM in Space | 0 Comments

The Last Two Runs Before This Summer’s Dream Trek and the Abandoned Order

I ran again on June 15, getting up after the alarm rang, at 2 PM, though I’m not sure how much I slept after getting up to pee just after 11:30 AM, since I then fed Micky a little and waited for her to eat, then kept trying to find a more comfortable position after getting back in bed, since my back was rather hurting, and then dad got up, and there were also periods when I seemed to be in between asleep and awake. Either way, I had the usual stuff plus almonds, but with a sweet pastry as the sweet thing, and left at 4:20 PM, wearing the full running gear, with a few things in the pocket of my tights. The reported temperature was 23-24°C, holding steady.
The time was 47:40.04, with sector times of 4:27.85, 5:03 (5:02.44), 5:55.56, 4:31 (4:30.70), 5:03 (5:02.96), 5:54 (5:53.56), 4:24.66, 4:57 (4:56.78), 5:37 (5:36.94) and 1:49 (1:48.59), making for lap times of 15:25.85, 15:28 (15:27.22) and 14:58.38. After a poor first sector and a first lap that was definitely not good enough, I was thinking that I had to give up on my initial goal of staying under 48 minutes and settle for 48:30 at best, but after lap two I wondered whether I could push hard enough to just make it and went for it, the good sector one of lap three giving me some hope. It wasn’t enough, however, so I gave it everything from sector two and then pushed even harder on sector three, thinking that I’ll keep it up as long as possible and hoping for that 5:50 that I thought I needed… Only to surprise myself by managing to maintain that pace all the way to the end of the lap and therefore be much faster. And then the final sector was also very good, even though that wasn’t needed anymore.
There were plenty of people, so I had to weave and go the long way around and squeeze through, but on the couple of occasions when I might have run into someone I managed to avoid it in time, and only had to briefly stop once, on the very first sector, because of a large group of boys. Otherwise, I felt tired at first and took it easier on the first sector, starting to push after seeing how slow I had been. That led to warnings from various parts of my legs, but after a while it started getting better. There were more warnings from my legs on sector three of lap three, when I was pushing so hard, and a certain pressing need had actually started to appear from the start of lap three, but the physical issues never got too bad… And knowing how to hold my ankles also meant avoiding a potential injury, since the lane was still soaked and muddy in some areas, after the previous day’s storm, and my left foot really sank in it in one spot, on sector three of lap one. So I was more careful to avoid the wet areas after that, which probably meant losing a little time. On the other hand, it helped that it got cloudy again on lap three.
After the run, I jogged to Carrefour and back, grabbing some more food for Micky. And that was what I really wanted to get that day, so I then decided against going out again, showering earlier and then reading some more before making mamaliga again in the evening.

Moving on to the early hours of June 20, I started eating dinner at 3:05 AM, albeit after licking a fair bit of what I mixed and moved in the kitchen a little earlier, and finished at 3:50 AM. And all of the cucumbers in the salad led to peeing four times until I got up for good, though I’m not sure how many of those times I actually woke up because of the need to pee, since the first time was after dad got back and even started cooking himself something, and he also left the light in the small bathroom on and, while not saying anything when I passed by him, I gathered that he meant to make me see that, in his view, the litter box supposedly needed to be cleaned, even though it unquestionably did not in mine. So I turned that light off after I woke up the second time, at which point I also heard noise coming from the neighbors, which made me think that, even though I hadn’t realized it at first, noise might have yet again been the reason for waking up. And then I had bad dreams, waking up multiple times and only going to pee on two of the occasions, and after the last one, when I saw 1:08 PM when I got up, the neighbors started drilling as well, so I might have just caught a moment’s nap between two “rounds” but eventually, just before 1:40 AM, I decided to get up and turn off the alarm, which was set to ring at 2 PM. Then I did clean the litter box, to limit the argument that was coming when dad also got up, had the usual stuff plus almonds, with some regular biscuits, with added honey, as the sweet thing, and left at 4:15 PM, wearing the full running gear. The reported temperature was 30°C, holding steady.
The time was a great 1:16:47, with sector times of 4:18, 5:00, 5:50, 4:23, 4:59, 5:46, 4:33, 5:07, 5:50, 4:28, 5:03, 5:58, 4:33, 5:07 and 5:52, making for lap times of 15:08, 15:08, 15:30, 15:29 and 15:32. At first I was thinking that, at 30°C, I’ll be happy to stay under 1:20, but the first sector was faster than I thought and so were the next two and the lap, and then the same thing happened on lap two, so on lap three I was thinking that if I’ll somehow manage to avoid losing time compared to the 1:18 pace on that lap as well, despite stopping for five seconds at the start of it, I will aim to stay under 1:18. So I then did just that, and kept pushing and managed to gain time on lap four as well. And then, despite feeling broken by the heat towards the end of that lap and allowing for a slow lap five if needed, I started thinking of staying under 1:17, and even of staying under the target for 1:18, which is 15:36, on every lap, and actually managed it.
I had to briefly stop on the first sector, because of cyclists, and my stopwatch also slipped then, since I had left it looser after no longer bothering with a bandage and using only one of the armbands to protect that burn from being rubbed by it. But it obviously ended up being too loose, so at that point I just pushed it back, doing so again, preventively, a few more times during that lap, before finally pulling it tighter at the start of lap two. That probably caused me to slow a little, but I didn’t need to stop. I did, however, stop for a good five seconds at the start of lap three, since my left ankle was getting scraped and, while the shoe was most likely the reason why, I wanted to move any possible dirt from that spot, this proving to be a good “investment” even though the discomfort returned quickly at first, since by lap four it was much better and it stayed like that until the end. Otherwise, there were a few more occasions when I had to squeeze through and maybe slow a little, because of people but also, twice, because of ducks getting in my way, and I also had to briefly stop twice more, once on sector two of lap three, to avoid two kids, and once on sector three of lap four, because a girl on a bicycle seemed to become unsteady and turned towards me. As for physical issues, there were some occasional warnings from the right knee, but that wasn’t a problem. The problem was the heat, so I tried to make the best use of the occasional clouds, pushing during those moments and also in the shaded areas. And the cooling effect felt in the occasional windy areas seemed to help more than the wind itself hindered. I still, as I already mentioned, felt like the heat had broken me on sector three of lap four, but was obviously still able to push despite feeling that I was quite done.

Before leaving the park, I sat on a bench, took the left shoe off and looked at that heel, seeing that it was quite scraped and the reason was indeed the shoe that’s just about falling apart. The right heel didn’t look that well either, but the left one was worse. Either way, I then jogged back, cracked and ate three apricot pits, had lunch and finished the tea. And I also finally pierced my belt in another spot, to be able to tighten it more.
I left again at 7:50 PM, first going to the Carrefour from the park, getting tea for dad and giving the cashier enough to get a 0.50 RON coin as change, which seemed to confuse her, so I had to explain. Then I checked that Mega Image on the way to the newer Kaufland, but didn’t find what I was looking for, nor anything interesting among the expiring products. I had much better luck at that Penny, however, going straight in, not bothering to put the teas in a cabinet, even though I had done so at Mega Image, getting what I wanted and then being surprised to see a very low price for the margarine that dad eats. He had just bought himself a 250 g one because he was running out and told me to look for more before he finished it, and even though it was neither in the catalog nor expiring soon, over there I saw the 1 kg one for only some 10% more than the 500 g one, so I grabbed one… And again gave the cashier enough to get 0.50 RON as change… Only for her to not give me any change at all, so I asked for it and she eventually gave me that coin after asking for the receipt and looking at it again.
Then I went to that Kaufland, having to try a few cabinets before finding one that locked and putting my things in it, and then also having to dash into the women’s bathroom for soap, though only for that, returning to the men’s to actually wash my hands. And I had just finished washing when bakery discounts of 75% were announced, even though it was at most 9:25 PM, so I rushed straight to the bakery area, where the employee was just placing the new price labels, saw two of those breads… But someone else took them in the seconds it took me to get paper bags, so I just got two sweet pastries and two buns. Then I looked for other evening discounts and just got a bundle of green onions, even that having less of a discount than I’d have wanted, after which I grabbed a few other things and made my way to the self-checkout, where I had to peel off a corner of the discount label from an expiring pack of chewing gum that I had grabbed for dad, since it couldn’t be scanned as it was. And a 1 RON bill fell out of my pocket, an employee letting me know. On the other hand, I only realized after getting back that 0.10 RON had been put in the machine, since it said that I had inserted that much more than I actually had. Either way, I then used the scales that are close to the bathrooms to get some labels that I used to keep the bags with bakery products closed, just finishing that when it was announced that the store had closed, so I retrieved my things from the cabinet and tried to just stuff them in a bag and walk out before they locked the doors… Only to be told that the outer door was already locked when I tried to go through the inner one, so I had to use the emergency exit anyway.
After taking some time to arrange the purchases in the bags on one of those tables that are outside, I walked away just after 10:05 PM and got back at 10:45 PM. Then I put the purchases in their place, cleaned some cat vomit, one just being foam and liquid… And then Micky threw up again, also just foam and liquid, and in the very same spot. Either way, I eventually had an orange and one of those sweet pastries, with some added jam, and kept meaning to also have something else, considering corn puffs but then meaning to eat a whole bag of bagels. But dad was at rehearsals and I wondered whether he’ll bring something, plus that it was already some time past midnight, so I decided to first go to the bathroom, oddly ending up just wasting time on the toilet before showering quickly, since it was still some time before 1 AM when I finished. Then, since dad still wasn’t back, I first checked something on-line and only finally went back to the kitchen at 1:15 AM, at which point I gave up on the bagels and started to make the salad, just managing to stick to the dinner schedule even though I even did the day’s squats while I was in the kitchen. As for dad, it was close to 2 AM when he got back, not bringing anything. Otherwise, since I hadn’t made another tea, I drank a bottle of water, having most of it before dinner but finishing it after, and got in bed at 5:20 AM, since dad only turned off his computer after I finished dinner and I also had to wash what he had left in the kitchen, only getting to spend a little time on-line after that, and then also chasing a cockroach in the bathroom before going to bed.

And now I’ll go back to the morning of May 28, to finally add the part about that order that I almost made at that point and which is now definitely abandoned. It was for what seems to be the only internal hybrid TV tuner for cable that still exists, and from the one store from here that claimed to still have one, and at that point just one, available. The price was high, but that is actually the price of the product, so if it’d have been significantly lower it’d have actually been a reason for concern, especially since the store has very poor reviews, the problem when it came to the total cost being that the store is in another city and charges for shipping, even for orders of this value. But, assuming I’ll eventually get another computer, I will need a TV tuner that will be compatible with it, and it seems that the entire class of products is just about gone, so after asking three stores that I have purchased things from about this product and having one reply only to say that their suppliers can’t bring it while the others didn’t reply at all, I decided to go for it when I saw that the price had dropped a little that day. But, even if they listed a single piece left, I checked that store’s hours, saw that on Saturday they’re available until 1 PM and risked it, waiting a little longer and only actually making the order after I got up that afternoon, just so it’ll only actually be processed Monday morning, offering me the opportunity to ask for the new price in case it’ll somehow drop again at that point.
Well, that was exactly what happened, the price dropping yet again on May 30, by 4%. And, while I had received an e-mail thanking me for the order the day before, the site still listed one as available, indicating that the order hadn’t actually been processed, so I replied to that e-mail to ask whether I could get the new price, mentioning that, if needed, I could cancel that order and make a new one. And then, since that e-mail stated that you should contact them by chat or phone despite apparently coming from an employee’s e-mail address and not an unmonitored one, I also sent them a message on Facebook, since that was one of the chat services that they listed.
Since I hadn’t yet received an actual reply, the following day I sent another message on Facebook, specifically stating that, if they can’t modify the price, I’m asking them to cancel the original order and make a new one, most preferably at the price that was listed when I had sent the first message, and definitely at no more than the price that was listed that day, which was 1 RON higher. However, the first actual reply came, by e-mail, after one more day, on June 1, telling me that I could cancel the original order and make another one if I wanted the new price… Only for another message to arrive later, letting me know that the product had been sent to the delivery company. So I replied to say that I assumed that this new message was an error, and also to point out that the price had increased by 5 RON by then, and even if that was still less than 1%, I had asked them to make the change before that increase and insisted on getting the price that was listed when I had done so.
Well, on June 2, just before 7:30 AM, which was actually moments after I happened to wake up anyway, I received an SMS notifying me that a parcel was going to be delivered that day, and when I checked I saw that the price was that of my initial order. So I sent another e-mail, got back to bed, and when I checked again, after getting up for good, I saw that the address had been deleted, so I assumed that they finally did cancel it. However, if nobody called about that delivery that day, the following morning, at 9:10 AM, when I was again already up and in fact starting to get ready to leave, I received another SMS, from a different delivery company, notifying me of a delivery, still at that initial price. But the link included in this message allowed me to cancel the delivery, so I did, and then sent another e-mail to the store… Only to be called after leaving, insistently, so after ignoring the first two calls I eventually answered the third… And found that the caller was the delivery guy, asking whether I was at the listed address. So I told him that I had asked the store to cancel and replace the order three days earlier and then also used the provided link to cancel that delivery only a couple of minutes after being notified of it, at which point he said that the cancellation must not have been registered yet and he’ll take care of it.
I exchanged a few more e-mails with that employee after that, but didn’t really get anywhere. It seemed that a new shipment had become available after they had sent what was supposedly the last piece to me, 45 or so suddenly being listed as available, but at first the listed delivery time was longer, so I kept saying that, if they had one piece in stock, possibly at the higher price, and others that they could bring from their supplier, possibly at the lower price, I have no problem whatsoever with waiting, and they can just keep that one for someone who wants it delivered right away, while that employee, after confirming that those additional pieces were not actually in their own stock and would indeed take longer to be delivered, kept pretending to not understand that I was asking for them to create that order, at the price that was listed when I had made the request. She actually ended her last e-mail by saying that she’s waiting to be able to confirm that I made that new order, so I sent one more to say again that I’m also waiting to see that they made it, repeating the entire explanation. And then, while there were no more replies, on June 11 I received a voucher for 25 RON off an order of at least 200 RON, the e-mail coming again the next day, at the exact same hour. Considering the code, which was the same in both e-mails, so I didn’t actually get two vouchers, it seems to be a standard offer for new customers, though the fact that I received it despite having canceled the order probably means that it was sent to me manually, possibly as a way to allow me to make that order at a better price after all. However, the price had increased by more than 25 RON compared to that minimum one by then, and jumped yet again since then, probably once they actually received that new shipment, the listed delivery time dropping yet again.
Could I have just made a new order on May 30 instead of asking them to change the price or make a new order themselves? Yes, but I thought that doing it that way was more likely to cause problems, especially since a single piece was listed as still being available at that point. So, could I have then accepted to pay 5 RON more than that minimum price, so still 22 RON less than the initial one, making the order after seeing that they were obviously trying to get me to pay that initial price and not sorting things out on their own? Again, yes, but I just dug in my heels and decided for an “all or nothing” approach. And, while it means that I still don’t have a TV tuner that I’ll be able to use on a potential new computer and, if this last model won’t also vanish soon, the price is likely to increase even further, the fact that I ended up giving up on that order actually worked out, since it meant that I still had money available and could give them to my parents after they took Micky to the vet, to cover the cost of keeping her there those two days… Not that it helped…

Written by Cavalary on July 10, 2022 at 11:55 PM in Personal | 0 Comments