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Three Runs and a Negative Antibody Test

This will be another long post, covering a period starting on the evening of May 9, when I started reading Capital in the Twenty-First Century. And I also finished it during this period, on May 23, though I only wrote the English quick review the following evening, then made a few minor changes and also wrote the translation after a nap, after midnight. However, after making one more little change, I only actually posted it here the next night, and it wasn’t until I could get back on-line the following evening when I posted it on Goodreads as well, in both English and Romanian.

Since I mentioned nights, there was even one, last Thursday, when dad worked and I just barely managed to start eating dinner at 3 AM, otherwise the rule being that I alternated, eating dinner earlier when he worked, but starting well past 3 AM when he didn’t, which included this Monday and Wednesday, when he worked from home again. The latest time was 3:50 AM, Thursday night, without even having had lunch that day, just a cake before working on the stove top, getting to the bathroom for that a few minutes before 10 PM and finally out, after also showering, and in the kitchen at 1:08 AM, but still having more to do and only starting to work on dinner at almost 2 AM. And then there was last Friday night as well, when I admittedly had lunch just after midnight, but then spent a good hour after getting back to the kitchen separating some curdled milk and putting the liquid in bottles and jars and the rest in a bowl, then cleaned up what I also had to clean up and only grabbed the stuff for the salad at 2:30 AM, just barely managing to start eating dinner 3:45 AM, unless you count licking the top of some cheese and sour cream mix opened in the kitchen before moving everything to my room. Only finished eating at 5:15 AM and got in bed at 5:35 AM on both of those mornings, but it was actually past 5:15 AM when I finished eating Wednesday morning, getting in bed at 5:35 AM then as well. Got in bed at 5:30 AM on the mornings of May 14 and 16 and a bit later than that on May 27, finishing eating at 5:05 AM on that second occasion and past 5:10 AM on this last one, after doing some quick searches for TVs for my mother. Also got in bed at 5:25 AM on the mornings of May 10, 18 and 20 and at 5:20 AM on the mornings of May 12, 25 and 29… And I’ll also mention here that no visits were recorded in either view again on May 26.

Since I also mentioned yesterday morning above, I’ll add here that my mother was here again that day, dad bringing her when he got back from work in the morning and taking her back in the evening… And while we were all in the kitchen, the issue of the electricity contract came up and of course it didn’t go well, dad saying that if I want us to no longer pay this inflated and constantly increasing price that those who don’t have a signed contract pay, I need to stay next to him and show him exactly, step by step, how to sign a contract with the power company that is our distributor now as well, because that’d supposedly mean meeting him halfway, and if I refuse it means I only want it my way and in that case it’s my fault that we’ll keep paying more… If anyone can understand how can actually standing there and pretty much signing a contract with the company I firmly oppose staying with myself be described as meeting him halfway between my position of only accepting a supplier that offers 100% green energy, strongly recommending a particular one but accepting discussions if he’d prefer any other, and his position of only accepting to stay with our current one, which has no green energy, do let me know, because to me it looks like it’d be even more than going all the way in his direction, as in not even accepting to just be ignored and letting him sign this contract with the company he wants, but pretty much doing so myself!

Either way, I’ll now get back to May 11, when the plan was to run and then buy some things, so the alarm woke me at 2 PM… And I found that we had no hot water, and the site said it won’t return until the following afternoon. And that was the day when the weather would have been good for running that week, but it had also been good the day before, so I shouldn’t have waited. As it was, I changed plans, just had lunch then… And dad annoyed me again, throwing away some roes he had forgotten about, after I reminded him about them in an e-mail sent while he was at work, he tasted them when he got back that morning, decided they weren’t good anymore and didn’t even leave them for me to check as well. And in the evening he brought a lot of frozen goat milk he received from someone and I couldn’t shake the cold off after struggling to somehow stuff it in the freezer, ending up wearing the sweater when I went to the kitchen at night and for the first time in a long time not opening the window, the fact that I had to use cold water only making it even worse.

The following morning, a neighbor woke me up with noise around 9:30 AM, which at least meant I was already up at 10 AM, when the delivery guy brought the cat food I had ordered on the morning of May 10, while eating, before going to bed. The bad news, however, came when I checked that site again and found that the period without hot water had been extended not only to all of that day, but all of the next one as well… But at least I caught up on sleep in the afternoon.

Still, I had to run, and that next day, May 13, was the one chance I still had that week, so the alarm woke me up at 2 PM, I had the usual stuff, with a slice of cozonac with added honey as the sweet thing, and left a bit after 4:15 PM, wearing the full running gear, with some stuff in the pocket of my tights again. The reported temperature was about 19°C then, supposed to actually increase to 20°C while I’ll run.
The time was 48:54.52, with sector times of 4:10.25, 5:09.54, 5:58.08, 4:32 (4:31.97), 5:12 (5:11.62), 6:00.36, 4:31 (4:30.20), 5:15.07, 6:11.00 and 1:56.43, making for lap times of 15:17.87, 15:44 (15:43.95) and 15:57 (15:56.27). Pushed at first, aiming to stay below 4:15 on the first sector, so that time was nice, and while sector two was worse than I expected, sector three was all right and the lap time was good enough, since I was aiming to stay under 15:20 and managed it. However, my hopes of 48:30, or at least no more than 48:40, to be less slow than the previous time, went away after sector two of lap two, when I also started tiring, so I had to just aim to stay under 49 minutes and at least managed that, not that it’s worth much of anything…
Felt a bit of pain in my right thigh at the start, but it went away quickly. And I can’t complain of the conditions, which were great, with the possible exception of a bit of wind on sector three of lap three. And there weren’t that many people either, which of course didn’t mean that I didn’t occasionally have to weave or go the long way around, but there were no real issues except maybe a broken sprint on that long sector one straight on lap two or three, when I was running out of energy anyway, and having to slow a bit and take to the grass at that stall on sector three of lap three because some kids came from the opposite direction on scooters or bicycles, can’t remember exactly, through the little space left around the people gathered there.

Went to Auchan after the run, jogging nearly all the way, and got a few things. The machine wouldn’t scan the ticket as I kept trying, but it oddly worked just fine when the employee came to help and tried as well, though she didn’t seem to do anything I hadn’t. Either way, I then also went to that newer Kaufland, grabbed a few things while waiting for 7 PM, to see the discounts in the bakery area, and then got the last two breads of that kind. There were no issues with the self-checkout other than the fact that one of the discounted breads for dad wouldn’t scan, which I quickly solved by scanning the other one twice, since they were the same.
There was a serious problem after that, however. It started from the fact that I again only had two flimsy bags with handles, one of them small and very flimsy, and one usable bag without handles, which I had used for potatoes and tied in a way that formed an improvised handle, so I was struggling to fit everything in them at the cabinets when a woman asked me to move a bit so she could get her things. The unexpected interaction made my mind pretty much shut down, so I completely forgot I still had the liquid soap from Auchan, which had been the main reason for going to buy stuff that day, still in the cabinet, and a guy who was trying different cabinets because some weren’t working put his backpack in that one, in front of the soap, and locked it before I could recover and realize what it meant. When I finally did, I quickly stuffed my things in another cabinet and tried to go in after him, but couldn’t recall how he looked, ending up asking the first guy I saw whether he had placed a backpack in that cabinet, then just sort of looking around a little after he said he had none, though I had no idea who to look for. After I calmed down a bit, I went back out of the store and asked the employees at the information desk for help, but they said they couldn’t get involved, security will have to do it, and then that the security guy was in the back, unloading merchandise, and it will be a while… And it was, since it was around 7:30 PM when the problem appeared and almost 8 PM when that guy came back and the security guy still hadn’t arrived, so I just rather snapped at that guy, he apologized, said he hadn’t noticed, just seeing that I had been standing around, I said I was struggling with the bags, we both retrieved our things and I could finally be on my way.
Went through the park on my way back as well, but again saw no buskers, and had actually just seen one while running and he hadn’t been one I’d have cared to give those 4 RON set aside to “tax” myself after that bad half marathon run to. And that walk back was quite difficult because I had to carry everything in those bags, the one with the potatoes being the biggest problem and pressing my fingers in a way that could, and likely did, cause damage. I switched hands after a while, but apparently too late for the little finger from my right hand, because a part of it is still quite numb even now, which is quite worrying… And there was obviously still no hot water when I got back, just before 8:50 PM, so I had to go to bed without even showering, though it was at least warm enough to be usable when I happened to wake up, at 8 AM, so I finally showered then.

Skipping to the next run, that was on May 21, when I didn’t set an alarm, since the forecast stated that the occasional showers were to end around 6 PM. So I woke up at 2:20 PM, spent a little more time in bed, got up at 2:45 PM, took it easy… And just lost time on the toilet twice. Either way, I could have gone out at 4 PM after all, since there were occasional clouds but no rain, but after having the usual stuff, the yogurt being a “creamy” one with 5% fat from another brand, plus some of those expired nicer biscuits with added honey as the sweet thing, I put on the full running gear and only left at 7 PM, when the reported temperature was about 18°C, though obviously supposed to drop by a couple of degrees by the time I was going to finish the run.
The time was 1:19:39, with sector times of 4:20, 5:19, 6:04, 4:31, 5:10, 6:06, 4:34, 5:12, 6:03, 4:38, 5:17, 6:11, 4:43, 5:26 and 6:05, making for lap times of 15:43, 15:47, 15:49, 16:06 and 16:14. That first sector time made me think that staying under 1:21 was the best I could hope for, but then I aimed to also stay under 16 minutes on lap two, which I managed quite easily, and was thinking that I might just have a shot at staying under 1:20 with no more than 16:10 on lap three. Really doubted it at first, but when I stayed well under 16 minutes on lap three as well I realized it was indeed possible, so I pushed on lap four and then felt safe on lap five.
There was pretty much no wind, the weather was good, and the only physical issue was that my right knee gave me some warnings from what I think was the start of lap five, though it’s also possible it was the start of lap four and they went away later. There were quite a number of people, however, what’s probably the most notable single issue being the large roadblock costing me a few seconds on the very first sector. Two other runners who were ahead of me took to the grass and went around a garbage can and a bench while I hoped I’ll be able to squeeze through, since I’d have needed to either take a tight turn or cover a longer distance on the grass, but when that wasn’t possible I had to wait for the people to move past the bench and then take to the grass to go around them. Smaller issues followed on the next sector and the first two of lap two, including people breaking my sprint on that long sector one straight, while the few different issues I had on sector three of lap two likely ended up costing me a few seconds even if, taken separately, they weren’t exactly notable. The number of people started dropping during lap three, however, so I was still weaving and going the long way around and there were a few momentary blocks formed by people coming from opposite directions ending up next to each other right when I was also reaching that spot, but the losses weren’t significant, just needing to slow a bit a few more times, and quickly evade on a couple of occasions. One of those was on a sector three, forgot if on lap three or four, when a large group of runners came from the opposite direction, arranged on two rows and with one more person lagging behind, I spotted a way through and they kept it open so the rows weren’t an issue… Only for that last person to cut the turn when I had also taken the inside and almost crash into me, so I had to quickly sidestep.
I also finally gave those 4 RON to some buskers during that run. Those I had initially meant to give them to were also there that evening, but I didn’t give them to them, because they were playing violins from sheet music while two others I hadn’t seen before went towards rock, with voice and electric guitar. They were on sector one, so on lap three I pulled those bills out of my pocket and dropped them in their guitar case, the loss of time being minimal, since it just meant steering myself a little bit off the path, on a paved area, and dropping them there as I kept running. And it’s a good thing I chose to do that while running, since they were already gone when I passed by that spot on lap five, so waiting until I was done would have meant missing the opportunity yet again.

Before moving on to this week’s run I’ll also mention that Monday the alarm woke me at 11 AM, and I left with dad around 12:10 PM to finally get the antibody test. After that, we went our separate ways and I took the book back, quickly checking a couple of places on the way, since I meant to get myself something on the way back. However, after checking several places, including spending quite some time in the last Mega Image I entered, I ended up not getting anything and was back a few minutes before 3 PM. I was really down and whimpering since leaving the clinic, and also felt I had lost the week’s day with good running weather, and then dad made it worse because he was supposed to leave at 6 PM or so, yet a bit after 5 PM, when I came out of the shower, he announced he wasn’t leaving anymore.

Still, the conditions were good enough the next day as well. I slept poorly, however, waking up to pee multiple times, after the tomatoes and cucumbers in the salad I had at night, and also dreaming that Andra came here for a day, just using me to have a place to stay while she had to be in the city for some reason, ignoring me as I cried my eyes out and kept trying to get something out of her, and leaving without anything changing. But I got up when the alarm rang, at 2 PM… And got told by dad that he had the antibody test result already, mine being negative, 15.3 when the threshold is listed as 50. He, on the other hand, had 3093! Either way, I then had the usual stuff, the yogurt being the rest of that “creamy” one with 5% fat from another brand, and the sweet thing being a slice of cozonac with added honey. Then I put on the full running gear, with some stuff in the pocket of my tights again, and went out just before 4:20 PM, when the reported temperature was 22-23°C, actually being supposed to increase by 1-2°C by the time I’ll finish.
The time was 48:20.24, with sector times of 4:11.71, 5:04 (5:03.60), 5:52.61, 4:29 (4:28.56), 5:11.37, 6:05 (6:04.73), 4:29 (4:28.65), 5:13.18, 5:52.21 and 1:54 (1:53.62), making for lap times of 15:07.92, 15:45 (15:44.66) and 15:34.04. Went for it from the start and wondered about staying under 48 minutes after that first sector, but knew I’d need a 15-minute first lap for it, since I won’t keep it up after that, and sector two pretty much made it clear that I was looking at 48:30. Sector three made me hope just a bit again, though it’d have been a really tall order, but sector one of lap two settled things again, and at the end of the lap even 48:30 was in doubt. Though I pushed from the start of lap three, after sector two it still seemed unlikely I’ll manage it, but that good sector three meant I was safe and no longer worried during the final sector.
Physically I felt fine and the conditions were good, with a little wind on the usual part towards the end of sector two of lap two and then early on sector three of laps two and three, but not a serious issue even then. And there weren’t many people either, so there was of course some weaving and going the long way around, and squeezing through in a couple of places, but otherwise I just had to take a few steps off the path, on pavement, on the last sector three straight on lap two. Other than that, one of those little flies went right up my nose on the first sector’s long straight, something got in my eye on sector two of lap two, and right at the end of lap two I caught a spiderweb, trying to brush it and any possible spider away possibly causing me to lose a little bit of time at the start of lap three.

Went to Carrefour after the run, finding some expiring roes and a kind of bread that was sort of interesting and had a good and unannounced discount, a couple of them not being sliced, but I had that 10 RON code and it wouldn’t have been enough to use it, so I took it easy and went to that newer Kaufland, also quickly checking that Penny on the way. The idea was to be there at 7 PM, for the evening discounts, but I had forgotten that, with the restrictions on opening hours lifted, it was closing later, so no such discounts showed up at that time. Still got a pastry, however, plus a lettuce that actually looked really nice among the few things that were discounted separately, and some onions… And saw an employee picking bread for an order drop the bag and then just pick it back up and put it in the basket. Admittedly, just the paper bag had been on the floor, not the bread itself, but still… Either way, the self-checkout machine kept telling me to place the right item on the scales when I placed the onions, so I even weighed them again at the scales that are in that area, confirming that the weight was correct, then gestured to an employee, who was talking on the phone, and she just logged on to override the error. That wasn’t the last issue, however, since the gate wouldn’t open after I was done, another guy who was there and waiting for an employee to open it repeatedly telling me that it won’t work as I kept trying to scan my receipt, just in case, until an employee finally opened it for us.
After arranging the purchases in the larger bag I had and checking the change I had left, on top of the one 1 RON bill I still had, I eventually went to that confectionery that’s there, asking whether the pastries were indeed 50% off, as listed, and after the employee confirmed I asked for an apple roll… Only to see her quickly stuff two in a bag and be on her way to also add the last by the time I managed to react and remind her that I had just asked for one. She said she understood three and they’d be 3.75 RON, but when I showed her that I just had 1 RON and some change she put that last one back and just handed me the other two, saying I’ll get two for the price of one. I repeatedly asked whether she was sure of that, and she said she was, so I eventually took them. She didn’t offer a receipt though, and I also didn’t ask for one, as it’d have seemed wrong under those circumstances.
Went back to Carrefour after that, but all of that bread was sliced at that point, so I couldn’t get any for myself anymore, just deciding to get one for dad, plus the roes, a bag of corn puffs, a tea and a bit of garlic… And only realized as I was about to get checked out, after waiting in line for some minutes, that I had calculated the bread as costing 1 RON more, so the total wasn’t just over 10 RON and I still couldn’t use that code, and I only had a few coins left otherwise. So I apologized, struggled to gather everything and went back, getting another tea and putting half the garlic back, then using two different scales to weigh the little bit I kept and using the label printed by the one that listed a few grams less.
The label on the key from the cabinet I had placed the other purchases in snapped off as I took it out again and I didn’t even realize it until I stopped on the way back to check that I had retrieved the 0.50 RON coin from said cabinet and saw it in the bag. If I’d have noticed it sooner, maybe I’d have gone back to leave it at the information desk, or maybe in the cabinet, but I only thought to check for that coin when I had already walked most of the way back, so I just dropped it in a recycling bin and was back here just before 9:05 PM, having an apple and one of those apple rolls before showering.

Thursday I was woken up by a cramp in my right calf, which hadn’t happened in a while. But the plan for that day was to get some more things before spending the night in the bathroom, cleaning the utterly soiled top of the stove, so I left at 5:45 PM. The route I initially had in mind was much longer, as I meant to first go in one direction, then either keep going or come back to drop off the purchases and then go in the other direction, but that would have really meant spending pretty much the whole night in the bathroom, going almost straight to bed after I’ll be done and obviously not eating, so I tried to get all I could the first time around and did so, returning and not going back out after that.
Since I hadn’t used that route in quite a while, I wasn’t even aware that the area around the National Arena was closed since April 30, and will understandably remain so until July, so I found myself needing to go around it, carrying the recyclables as well. And I also ended up dropping off said recyclables, except the things I drop off at Kaufland, in a bin inside the mall that Carrefour’s in, because those bins that used to be at the entrance weren’t there anymore. Then I had a look in Carrefour before going to Kaufland, dropping those things off and getting what I wanted from there… Or not quite all I wanted, since one of those breads was left and I kept waiting to see whether the employee was going to change the labels to show that discounts were going to apply after 7 PM, since that location still closed at 9 PM, but while she seemed to check the prices for another employee who was getting some things, she didn’t do anything else, instead just standing there to talk to someone else she obviously knew, and I couldn’t get myself to ask and just left the bread for another time. Still ended up interacting with someone, however, an old woman asking me what kind the cat food she had picked was while I was getting the cat litter, and then saying that she was looking for some different kinds of food for kittens, so I helped her with that for a little bit, then used the self-checkout without issues.
I also wanted cakes, to reward myself for the work I was going to do, and I had actually seen some that seemed all right at Carrefour, so I had that option if I wasn’t going to go anywhere else, but some of that same kind, cheaper and somewhat larger, were also at that confectionery that’s next to that Kaufland, so both before going in and after coming out, I tried to read the ingredients, quickly wandering away when the employee asked what I wanted almost as soon as I approached. Got far enough to see hydrogenated fats listed that second time, however, so I knew I wasn’t interested and got those from Carrefour instead, along with the other things I meant to get from there, which included a bread that I wouldn’t normally get and also costs too much for what it contains, but which at least got me through the next few days. And I was back just before 8:45 PM, apparently carrying 18.5 kg if you include clothes, bags and the usual stuff in my pockets.

Since, even though I only had half of the usual amount last night, I was still going to finish that bread tonight and tomorrow it’s supposed to rain all day, today I meant to go back out and get myself some more bread, and perhaps a few other things as well. However, though I checked the forecast again even after waking up, in the afternoon, the listed risk of rain being below 10%, about an hour later it started raining after all, quite heavily for a while, and I decided against it even if after a while it died down. Just a drizzle was left around 6:30 PM, and after 7 PM the clouds started clearing as well, so I could have gone after all, but it was getting late and writing some of this post seemed like a better idea… Though I also tried to play Bound by Flame a little more… And found that something strange happened. I’m still running it in a window and it had been fine yesterday, when I also played just a little more, but when I started it again today, the actual window width was 1276 and everything looked fuzzy, likely as a result of the image being resized, and I can’t seem to find any way to get it back to 1280 and a clear look.

Either way, now I’m going to make myself mamaliga again, though it’s rather late to start at this hour, I made some two nights ago as well and some of the one made by dad yesterday is also left, but I want to give myself the option of not going to get bread tomorrow either. So I’ll finish this post here, leaving the period between May 15 and 20 for another time. After all, two notable events happened then, and it’s not like I had any chance to write about them and post this before midnight anyway.

Written by Cavalary on May 30, 2021 at 11:28 PM in Personal | 0 Comments

Quick Review: Capital in the Twenty-First Century

On a recommendation, this likely marks the start of a year or so of non-fiction, translated too, and it was far easier to read and less infuriating than I thought. Current Leftist views of economics are necessary, the first part explains well and the facts and figures and explanations, as well as some of the points made, remain positive aspects throughout. The attacks on economists, by an economist, were also rather refreshing, as was the statement that the current supposedly meritocratic justifications of inequality are worse than the past ones. And saying that refusing to deal with numbers, and I’ll add also politics, rarely goes in favor of the poor is a good ending.
However, some parts are too technical, many of each chapter’s, if not each part’s, points could have been made in a handful of pages, much space which could have been better filled with some of the things strangely left in an on-line “annex” seeming wasted, and part four seems rather a train of thought, even a mind dump, just pushing one idea and going this way and that around it. But the main problem is that, while pointing out the inherent flaws of capitalism, it clearly states, and proves throughout, that it doesn’t actually attack it, nor inequality in itself for that matter, instead aiming to just tweak systems that are inherently flawed and need replacing. It also focuses almost exclusively on the rich, barely mentioning the rest and the means of improving their situation. There are also indefensible stances, like repeatedly emphasizing the benefits of population growth, enough on its own for me to consider the author an opponent; continual, albeit weak, growth in general being seen as, well, possible; or repeatedly stating the positive effects of inflation, with too little attention paid to the devastating effects it can have on the savings and plans of regular people. Then again, what’s clearly indefensible is that it starts by basically praising subjectivity even when it comes to such fundamental matters that define a society… And including conclusions in the introduction is not a good practice either.

Rating: 3/5

Written by Cavalary on May 26, 2021 at 4:16 AM in Books | 0 Comments

Eurovision 2021 – II

Since it got too late and I couldn’t manage to write the comments about the top ten entries in my classification in the previous post, I’m adding them now. I guess adding comments about each of the songs would more properly justify making a separate post, but that’s not going to happen, and the rather poor level of the entries would make it pretty pointless anyway, the only one I ranked below tenth place that I’d want to mention being Albania, since I quite liked the song, with the exception of that instrumental bit, and it was definitely performed well, the low position being caused by the low show value. And now that I did mention it, I can move on to the top ten.

With no entry standing out, Greece struck me as possibly having the better overall package, with a decent, catchy song performed well enough and notable show value, albeit obtained thanks to camera tricks. I must admit that, since it was tied with Norway according to my rating system and I found that I couldn’t really make up my mind between the two on the spot, I decided to put the one obtaining the better position in the actual classification first, but now that I listened to them again I can say that putting Greece ahead was quite clearly the right decision either way.
When it comes to Norway, my opinion kept improving, from thinking it was a poor choice, clearly worse than the other two I happened to see from that national final, to seeing it at the top of the list, albeit, again, merely as a result of a reasonably good overall package in a competition of a relatively poor level. Still, having it tie for first place might have also been a result of overcompensating while trying to not allow the marks to be affected by the fact that the guy’s mannerisms and even his face strike me as asking for punches, as the saying goes. Either way, I’ll say again that, regardless of how I reached it, the decision to put it below Greece in the end was the correct one.
Being the only one of my top ten that actually ended up in the top five, I already wrote about Ukraine in the previous post, but I’ll say again that such an entry is quite a risk but it worked out nicely for them. I’m bothered by the language and the singer probably shouldn’t have been so static, but the song is interesting, possibly also because there weren’t other similar ones this year, it was performed well and also had a good enough show value.
The only other entry from my top ten that actually ended up in the top ten is Finland and, while it’s rather too harsh for me, sounds like American mainstream metal, which I’d normally consider a bad thing, and could have been performed better as well, I’m quite pleased when I see such entries doing well. And it definitely seemed better than Italy…
Germany seems to have sent what’s pretty much the opposite of Finland’s entry, and it’s just a fun performance that also has something to say and is memorable for a few different reasons. It’s probably not something that should be rewarded with a particularly high position, and being fifth for me is another result of the rather poor level of the competition, but I do believe it should have ended up way higher than it did.
In case of the United Kingdom, I don’t agree with my own marks, and that negative modifier is a particularly strong one, indicating that it was clearly below the level such marks would normally indicate, but the song wasn’t actually bad or badly performed and they made some effort for the show value as well, so I just couldn’t place it any lower. At the same time, having it last, with zero points from both juries and voters, hardly seems fair either.
Spain had clearly the best song from this series of automatically qualified entries that I placed well but ended up at the bottom of the actual classification, and with zero points from voters. It actually struck me as one of the better songs of the competition, dragged down by the relatively low show value, that floating Moon only managing to save it from actually getting a bad show rating. Sure, it shouldn’t have been at the top, but I really can’t explain why it ended up at the bottom, I’d say not even if I’m to think of reasons that have nothing to do with the entry itself.
Bulgaria is one of those unpleasant surprises I mentioned at the start of the previous post, the same artist being selected but the song not rising to the level of the one entered in what should have been last year’s competition. It’s still a rather soothing piece with a message, and maybe the differences aren’t great, but it’s enough to be disappointing. Much more could have been done for the show value as well, but the overall package nevertheless remains better than most of this year’s other entries.
Back to that series of automatically qualified entries that I placed well but ended up at the bottom of the actual classification, and with zero points from voters, it ends with The Netherlands, and I again fail to see why it did so badly. No, it wasn’t one of the better songs, but it wasn’t bad either, it again had a message, it didn’t exactly lack show value, and again, it’s not like there were many good entries this year to say that it was poor by comparison.
As for Portugal, it struck me as the sort of entry that juries would like, but which could have some public appeal as well. I guess I overestimated that public appeal to some extent, but it did end up in the first half, which is fair enough for an entry of this kind… It’s those that ended up much higher that are surprising…

Written by Cavalary on May 23, 2021 at 7:45 PM in Music | 0 Comments

Eurovision 2021 – I

At least this year we had a competition again, albeit with recordings used for Australia and Iceland, and also for Duncan Laurence’s interval act, these last two because of positive test results. The level of the performances was relatively low, however, definitely lower than those entered in what should have been last year’s competition, a few entries being particularly unpleasant surprises from this point of view, the same artists being selected again but the songs being nowhere near the level of those they were meant to perform last year. Then again, I thought it’d be even worse after the first semifinal, since there were only three songs I could say I liked in it and two of them didn’t make it. The second was better, however, albeit not by that much, and just one of the better songs, in my opinion, didn’t make it, and then most of the automatically qualified entries added to the level of the final… Even if the results didn’t agree with my assessment at all when it came to the four I ranked higher… Yet instead placed the two I ranked lower, France clearly being the last in my classification, as the top two. Either way, I wouldn’t say there were any actually good songs, but there were a handful of pretty nice ones, and also a few acts with a pretty good show value. I do, however, continue to dislike using camera tricks and overlaid images instead of actually doing something on stage, even if the current circumstances probably make the practice somewhat more excusable.
The impression I got after the semifinals was even more important this time around because I didn’t even listen to all the songs before the competition, just checking snippets after they were all selected and only actually listening to a few that drew my attention, plus some of the first ones that were selected, since I happened to check a couple of times when only a handful were clearly known. So I went into the competition almost blindly, without following news or updates or looking for other videos, knowing next to nothing about potential show value, and the only other songs from any national final that I happened to stumble into were Jorn’s and KEiiNO’s from the Norwegian one.

I must say that I’m pretty glad that Italy ended up so much higher than in my classification, considering the genre, but at the same time, I really didn’t see it as one of the potential top songs, not to mention a potential winner. I was sort of tempted to rate it higher, and considering the small differences that’d have caused a jump from 19th to fifth in my classification, since I doubt I’d have placed them above Finland even if the score would have been tied, but in the end I guess it seemed too much for me, and the fact that it wasn’t in English also weighed against it.
France, as I already said, was last in my classification… Meaning that for the second actual competition in a row I rank the act that ends up second as last, this actually happening just with Italy in 2019. I guess I can sort of see what the juries saw in the performance, but have far more trouble explaining the points received from the public. Then again, I guess it’s a matter of taste, and it was just that sort of, well, typical French performance that I simply can’t stand.
Things are somewhat similar with Switzerland, but definitely not to the same extent. It’s clearly the sort of entry that’s likely to impress juries and also had some amount of show value, unlike the French entry, so I can see the objective value, can understand the jury score, and the public one seems somewhat less exaggerated, but in my opinion it remains way too much overall. I mean, I wouldn’t have even picked it to make it out of the semifinal…
Iceland’s result was also surprising, especially since they didn’t actually perform, what we saw being a recording from the rehearsals. But that might have actually had something to do with it, drawing some sympathy. Either way, I can’t say the performance isn’t interesting and memorable in its own way. Not something I’d select as a top entry, even in a weaker edition such as this one, but at least the difference between the actual result and my classification isn’t quite so extreme in their case.
As for Ukraine, this is the only entry from the top five that I really agree with. I actually ranked them even higher and feared they’ll end up much lower, such an entry being quite a risk and the language also being a possible problem, so fifth seems like a fair place for them.

Since for the past few years I’ve been thinking of changing my ranking system, giving more weight to the song, possibly even separating the song itself, in terms of composition, from how it is performed, or perhaps having one mark and modifiers for other aspects, such as show value, personal impression and maybe even voice, that can raise or lower it by up to a certain amount and are weighted in a certain way, this edition would have been a good opportunity to give it a try, considering the circumstances… But I still didn’t do it, sticking to the same system 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. (10.) Greece (7, 6.5)
2. (18.) Norway (7, 6.5)
3. (5.) Ukraine (7, 6.5, minus)
4. (6.) Finland (6.5, 6.5)
5. (25.) Germany (6.5, 6, plus)
6. (26.) United Kingdom (6.5, 6, minus)
7. (24.) Spain (6.25, 6.5, plus)
8. (11.) Bulgaria (6.25, 6, plus)
9. (23.) The Netherlands (6.25, 6, plus)
10. (12.) Portugal (6.25, 6, plus)
11. (7.) Malta (6.25, 6)
12. (4.) Iceland (6.25, 6, minus)
13. (8.) Lithuania (6.25, 6, minus)
14. (21.) Albania (6, 6.5, plus)
15. (14.) Sweden (6, 6, plus)
16. (3.) Switzerland (6, 6, plus)
17. (19.) Belgium (6, 6, plus)
18. (15.) Serbia (6, 6)
19. (1.) Italy (6, 6)
20. (16.) Cyprus (6, 6)
21. (22.) San Marino (6, 5.5, minus)
22. (17.) Israel (6, 5.5, minus)
23. (9.) Russia (6, 5)
24. (13.) Moldova (5.75, 5.5)
25. (20.) Azerbaijan (5.75, 5, minus)
26. (2.) France (5.5, 6)

My ranking didn’t match the actual results for any country, was one place off for San Marino and Sweden, two places off for Belgium, Finland, Portugal and Ukraine, and three places off for Bulgaria and Serbia. On the other hand, it was at least ten places off for Italy, Moldova, The Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Spain and Switzerland, and even 20 or more places off for France, Germany and United Kingdom.

The time being what it is, I’ll leave the comments about my top ten picks for the next post, but before finishing this one I’ll quickly mention the semifinals, starting with the fact that picking ten entries from the first one was something I did just because I had to. Still, seeing all but one of the entries that ended up below tenth place in my classification making it through, and therefore five of those from the top ten failing, was quite baffling, and what made it worse was that I actually liked North Macedonia’s and Slovenia’s songs, yet they didn’t make it. Otherwise, I had Ireland and Romania in the top ten, and Croatia and Lithuania tied for tenth, ending up choosing Croatia there at the end, the other entries I would have left out being Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Israel and Russia. That said, I didn’t exactly mind Cyprus making it. And the second semifinal seemed fairer, my classification having Denmark, Estonia and Poland in the top ten and Moldova, Serbia and Switzerland outside of it, but I can find reasons for things being the way they were.

Written by Cavalary on May 23, 2021 at 5:07 AM in Music | 0 Comments

Can We Dismiss the Mirage That the Mainstream Can Ever Solve the Environmental Crisis?

John Kerry’s statement that half of the necessary emissions cuts will come from unspecified technological fixes that are yet to be invented and people won’t need to change their way of life to cut emissions should put to rest any hopes so many had that the solution for the environmental crisis, or for any other major problem I might add, may ever come from any representative of the political mainstream, even one supposedly known as supportive to the cause, right? Something like this should snap those who were still taken by that mirage out of it, finally allowing them to start looking for and supporting real solutions and the radical or, in the eyes of most, “extremist” voices that advocate for the fundamental changes required in all aspects of life, starting with the economy and politics but also including the day to day lives of people… Or is this just as much a case of entirely unfounded wishful thinking on my part as that belief in potential mainstream solutions is for so many?

And yes, I am adding this here as a quick post because I just sent it to The Guardian as well, since simply commenting on articles doesn’t really seem to be an option anymore. And while I’m at it, I’ll also add that other comment I mentioned sending almost a month ago, since it’s rather along the same lines:

Seeing the article about Germany’s surging Green party, I’d say that it should speak of a party that falsely lays claim on the name of Green and further reduces the already infinitesimal chances of any who might just actually be worthy of it. Of course, that’s nothing new for Germany’s Greens, the article itself also stating that for decades they’ve been altering their doctrine and methods in order to be more likely to obtain power, their desired direction aiming more and more to just delay the inevitable a while longer, probably somewhat better than the (even more) mainstream parties but definitely no longer presenting real solutions.
Let me know when some real, radical, Greens, and most preferably Green-Leftists, will be in a good position somewhere by actually relentlessly pushing for the real and desperately necessary solutions to the world’s biggest problems, putting the environment first at all costs, having something like the principles of Deep Ecology as the foundation of their doctrine, closely followed by the dismantling of capitalism and replacing it with a new system guaranteeing a decent standard of living for all and rewarding being economical, altruism, collaborating, preserving and fixing, from little day-to-day things to the entire ecosystem and human society, instead of consumption, greed, competition, exploitation and wastefulness. Now that’d be worthy of an article… Or, people being people, at least a well-written “what if”…

Written by Cavalary on May 17, 2021 at 4:17 AM in Society | 0 Comments