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After These Results, Pushing Brexit Through Won’t Even Be the Worst of It

British voters are unfortunately giving me something to write about once again, and if three and a half years ago I could also see a possible somewhat positive outcome, however unlikely it was, that’s definitely not the case now. Yes, this Conservative majority will push Brexit through, which is absolutely terrible in itself, likely the worst thing to happen in Europe in decades, and it will do so in a way that won’t be anywhere near the least damaging one, but the rest of their plans for Britain, the way in which they will affect the rest of Europe and the world and the message sent by this clear victory in itself add even more reasons for concern.

But don’t expect yet another analysis here. You can find plenty, from all sides, all over the Internet at the moment, whether about why the Tories won, why Labour lost or what this will mean, what’s likely to happen next, from various points of view. This post is just my reaction to what happened, frustrated but not surprised. Labour winning would have been surprising, though still frustrating, seeing as they’d have been a far lesser evil but nevertheless still an obvious evil, but as it is… It’s people we’re talking about, after all, and any explanation for what happened needs to start from one obvious fact that those on the, shall we say, right side of history continue to stubbornly ignore no matter how many times it’s proven to them: Give people a choice and you can trust that most of them, regardless of demographics or reasons given, will make the wrongest one. To quote Pratchett‘s writing, “People on the side of The People always ended up disappointed, in any case. They found that The People tended not to be grateful or appreciative or forward-thinking or obedient. The People tended to be small-minded and conservative and not very clever and were even distrustful of cleverness. And so the children of the revolution were faced with the age-old problem: it wasn’t that you had the wrong kind of government, which was obvious, but that you had the wrong kind of people.“. Or, to also add a Babylon 5 quote, “That does seem to be the rule, doesn’t it? Analyze the problem, choose whichever strategy makes least sense and then do it.

What I will say, however, is that the British electoral system, which both major parties refused to change over the years, once again raised its ugly head, this concept of voting for seats individually and granting them to the candidate earning the most votes in a single round serving only to maintain the dominance of the old major parties while leaving the largest number of voters without representation and discouraging many from voting according to their real wishes, or in some cases even from voting at all. Even the next worst thing, adding a second round, between the first two candidates if none obtained an absolute majority in the first one, would have changed the results, also because one shouldn’t use these single-round results to estimate the outcome in that case, since then many would have been more interested in voting for candidates fighting for second rather than first place. And, obviously, without even getting to the better systems that at least the developed world should have already moved on to by now, actual proportional representation, which should be the bare minimum requirement for a representative democracy, would have changed things even more. After all, even now, in spite of the system’s effects on the votes, if we’re to consider Labour as being against Brexit as well, the anti-Brexit parties obtained the majority of the total votes, but significantly less than that in terms of actual seats, the Tories instead obtaining a clear majority of seats with only 43.6% of the votes.

But I guess this is enough for now. Don’t really care to make a particular point, and definitely not one not made before. Just frustrated, both with the result and with those who’d move things in a different direction continuing to refuse to see how the vast majority of people actually are and act accordingly, and having another major reason to be worried about the future of the world… And for Andra for that matter.

Written by Cavalary on December 14, 2019 at 8:41 PM in Politics | 0 Comments

Even Faster Squats, an Ultrasound and Crying a Little

Yesterday I started reading Warbreaker, after finally deciding it’ll be the last book for this year, but I want to write this today, to post it before the blood tests I’ll have done tomorrow… And there will be a longer list of them than what the family doctor wrote down, since Friday I went to the gastroenterologist she had sent me to and he gave me another list. Had the alarm wake me up at 11:45 AM then, leaving at 12:50 PM and walking to the clinic on my own, where I got just after 1:15 PM, dad waiting for me after having taken care of something having to do with the parking spot. Meant to buy National Geographic on the way, but the two stands I passed by had the windows shut. I believe that at least in the second case it was just due to the cold and somebody’d have opened the window if I’d have walked up, but I didn’t, and since I hadn’t taken anything else with me, I had nothing to do while waiting. And I did have to wait, since the appointment was for 1:30 PM but two others had it at the same time and I was the last one, so my turn only came just after 2:30 PM. The nurse was annoyed, stressed out, the doctor too, they were saying it had been a marathon that day, but he asked me a few things, felt around, then said they don’t have funds to offer the ultrasound for free anymore but he’ll offer a 50% discount, so I agreed and had that done as well, the results being first degree liver steatosis, an 8 mm liver hemangioma, a small quantity of biliary sludge, a little sand in both kidneys, up to 2 mm in size, a 10 mm cyst in my left kidney and chronic prostatitis. He said none of it is something to worry about at the moment, but those additional tests should help clarify things, and I was out at 2:50 PM. Only got back at 3:23 PM though, even though dad drove me here, since he looked for his new parking spot… And ended up parking on one he thought was it even though I told him it couldn’t be, and I was proven right a few days later.

Speaking of those blood tests, I wonder if I’ll notice the effects right away when I’ll do my squats. Then again, without anything like this, I had to really push at the end to manage 2:29 on December 4… And then I got way faster, managing 2:13 on December 5, in the kitchen, as I was cooking something after having finally cleaned my room a little again, and 2:09 on December 6! Saw 1:04 at 50 and kept pushing, managing what was a new record at the time, beating that 2:10. However, I tried to do even better after that, just missing out on December 7, when I did them in 2:11, but managing it on December 8, when the time was 2:08! Really pushed from the start and saw an amazing 1:20 at 65, which would have been a pace for 2:03, but I was getting tired by then and quite exhausted at the end, obviously getting slower, but I had been fast enough early on to manage that. Sure, I don’t exactly do them correctly when I push for speed, but it works, and I guess it’s just another little trapping I set up for myself… Oh, and while I didn’t time them yesterday, I did again today, the time being 2:13.

Also meant for this week’s run to be yesterday in order to get it out of the way before the blood tests, but that worked out very well because yesterday also ended up being clearly the best day to run. For most of last week, the forecast had been listing a high of 8°C, but then that changed to 5°C during the weekend, jumping back to 7°C Sunday night, all this time just switching between partly and mostly cloudy, only for me to look outside after waking up yesterday to see that it was sunny. And then also went on the balcony for a moment and it felt a fair bit warmer than it should have been, so I checked the reported temperature before leaving and saw 12°C! So it all went according to the original plan at first, the alarm waking me at 1 PM, just as I was having a dream about Andra, having baked pumpkin as well on top of the usual stuff and a piece of a cake brought by my dad, apparently made by my mother, with some honey added on top, instead of the wheat things, but I obviously gave up on the idea of wearing the training shirt again and had the running t-shirt, with an undershirt underneath, when I went out at 3 PM. Had the jacket on me for the walk to and from the park, tying it around my waist while running, and it seemed that I hadn’t tied it properly at first, so it bothered me for a little while, but then I got used to it and it was fine.
The time was 47:11.47, with sector times of 4:18.68, 5:03 (5:02.48), 5:46.54, 4:28 (4:27.76), 5:01 (5:00.77), 5:46.26, 4:25 (4:24.98), 4:58.01, 5:43 (5:42.76) and 1:43.23, making for lap times of 15:07.70, 15:15 (15:14.79) and 15:06 (15:05.75). Thought I had started slowly, and judging by the last three sector times I guess I did leave a bit too much in reserve, but I again only aimed to stay under 48 minutes at first, only changing the target to 47:30 during sector two of lap three. Was actually noticing about a minute and a half before the end of that sector that I was pushing hard and thought I won’t keep that up until the end, but I guess I did.
My right knee gave me a few warnings at one point, but then it was fine. And there weren’t many people either, occasionally making me go the long way around but only needing to weave my way through a few times. Had to slow a little at the end of sector two of lap one, when a couple of slow ones on scooters were ahead of me and cyclists were coming from the opposite direction just as I was reaching the bridge, but the only actually notable problem was on sector two of lap two, when a woman who had a scooter but wasn’t on it at the time decided, despite coming from the opposite direction and therefore seeing me, to stop to read a sign that was next to a stall, stepping towards it and right in front of me just as I was about to pass her on that side, forcing me to cut across and go around her and the scooter on the other side, with no room to also go forward as I did that.
After getting back I was supposed to go to Declic again, after having received an e-mail the day before, asking for help with something they wanted to send to people for Christmas, saying they’ll be there all day, so you can come very early or very late and it’ll still be fine. So I had signed up, stating that I’ll be there at 5 PM, but even before leaving to run I had an SMS telling me that the people who had been there during the first part of the day had finished everything, so there was no more need. Since there wasn’t also an e-mail notifying me of that, it’s a good thing that message didn’t get lost again, or I’d have rushed there for no reason, likely ending up in another awkward situation as well.

To finish with the runs, last week’s was on December 2. Had set the alarm to 1 PM again, but got up at 12:25 PM and went out just after 2 PM. It was pretty sunny, but the temperature was around 5°C and there was some wind as well, so I had the training shirt on, though just an undershirt underneath, without a t-shirt, plus of course the jacket for the walk to and from the park, tying it around my waist for the run. Drank a different kind of tea, having kept some from the previous evening, and had a piece of that same cake mentioned above, also with added honey, instead of the wheat things.
The time was 47:39.75, with sector times of 4:21.54, 5:07.17, 5:52 (5:51.96), 4:25 (4:24.89), 5:02 (5:01.86), 5:47.23, 4:27 (4:26.81), 4:59 (4:58.82), 5:48.47 and 1:51.00, making for lap times of 15:20.67, 15:14 (15:13.98) and 15:14.10. That first lap was hard, the cold air bothered me, my nostrils seemed to close, my chest was starting to hurt a little as well, and I was definitely worried that I’ll fail to even stay under 48 minutes, but after a while I started adapting to the conditions and pushed harder, quite clearly from sector two of lap two, and it worked out. The fact that there were few people helped as well, of course, and there was just a bit of a roadblock on sector one of lap two and a moment of confusion, I think on sector two of lap three, when a guy on a scooter was talking to his friends and not looking ahead as he came towards me.

Went out again after that run, to the protest against live animal exports. Had the metro card, which had somehow also started working again, but I only left at 3:50 PM, so I was rather late, only getting there at 4:23 PM when the protest was supposed to start at 4 PM. But I already wrote about that and don’t really have personal details to add, so I’ll just link to the pictures I took one more time, repeat that I left at 6 PM even though the end wasn’t called and move on, since after that I wanted to buy some things as well.
Decided to first go to that bigger Carrefour, but saw that the bread I meant to get had a different name, being listed as whole wheat in the catalog but “diet” on the product itself, with the ingredients listing “diet flour” as well. The bigger problem, however, was that it felt lighter than the 700 grams it should have had… So I weighed it, placing two on the scales and seeing about 560 grams for one and 600 for the other. Didn’t point it out to anyone though, just leaving it there and getting back on the metro, going to the one at Unirii next, getting two red cabbages, since I noticed that they were cheap, and one bread like that, since that one actually did weigh 700 grams. Then I got back on the metro again and went to that other Kaufland, getting beets, some more bread and pepper. Used the self-checkout, but when I placed one kind of bread, which was even packaged, on the scales it said it was the wrong item, so I had to call the employee to help and when he left an old lady came right up to me, not waiting where one should wait for a machine to become available, which made me feel pressured. Tried to pay quickly, not realizing that the employee had just entered my last item as well, without getting to the end of the process, so the old lady started “teaching” me, stressing me out even more, making me panic, rush even more, even forget my change… At least she reminded me to get it, as I was trying to just grab my stuff and get the fuck out of there. Meant to also get to the Carrefour from the park, after noticing cheap leeks at Unirii but forgetting to buy some, but gave up on that idea and just walked back, entering the building at 9:10 PM. Then I put the jacket, backpacks and vest in the washing machine, being surprised that the print on everything else was still there at the end, but the Yoda on my old backpack came completely off, no trace of it being left anywhere.

On December 4 I was woken up at 9 AM by the doorbell and it was hard to fall asleep after that, but I eventually managed it, though I woke up again at 11:15 AM and checked the door, to see whether there was any note left in it. Then got back to bed and finally got up just before 2 PM. The plan was to go look for some stuff to add to the pasta I wanted to make, but just as I was getting ready to leave dad came back and said he won’t leave again, though he had told me that he was going to be gone for most of the day. And he also said he wanted to buy some stuff and then cook that day, making me end up quite deflated, since I meant to do that, and just because I knew he won’t have time for it those days. Still, after taking a while longer to get the recyclables as well, including the stuff I take to Kaufland, I went out after all, just before 3:30 PM, getting back just before 5:55 PM.
Walked to this Carrefour first and saw that they had placed those locks with codes on their cabinets, no longer requiring coins either. Then I went inside, looking mainly for expiring grated cheese, which they usually have there, in the place for those discounted products. But what I found was expiring grated kashkaval which was also quite expensive, close to the price of the cheapest kashkaval even with the 50% discount, and since I knew that people don’t usually rush to buy that anyway, I left it there for the moment, just getting one small yogurt from that place, to eat after I’ll get back that day, and two leeks. Then I retrieved that stuff I take to Kaufland from the cabinet, placed my purchases in it and went to Kaufland, dropping that stuff off and getting carrots, with the self-checkout again causing problems and the employee saying that yes, it does tend to do that for those products. Had also realized that I was missing a little money, considering the quantities of grated kashkaval I had seen and the other stuff I wanted, and didn’t find any change left in the machine I used, but did spot some in another that I passed on the way out and grabbed it. Then returned to Carrefour and got some grated kashkaval and the one carton of six eggs left in that place that wasn’t bio (organic). There had been more the first time, including cheaper ones, but others had purchased them, so I just got that one, plus one more bread like that, that one actually weighing 736 grams. The problem was that I had messed up when calculating the discount for the eggs, thinking that I had to pay 0.50 RON less, and being relieved when I saw the actual total and realized that, thanks to what I had found earlier, I had 0.53 RON left, so I could just cover that amount without getting into the money I was keeping for National Geographic.

As for Sunday, I was in the kitchen, not long after waking up, when dad came back and then quickly left again in a hurry, then poked his head back in and told me to turn off his computer since he forgot. So I went to the living room, but found it frozen, not responding in any way. Since that had happened before, I knew there was no point in waiting and pressed the button to turn it off that way, then tried starting it again, in safe mode, to see that it worked… And it didn’t, stopping at NTFS.sys and saying that it was missing or corrupt, and then getting stuck on the boot screen when it tried again. So I turned it off, took it out of the desk and disconnected the old HDD, thinking that the problem likely had something to do with a HDD but hoping that it somehow was that one and it ended up freezing the whole thing. And it did start when I tried again, so I started chkdsk on the other partition of the newer HDD first, it got to stage 4 of 5 and then hardly seemed to do anything, taking about half an hour for 1% and the HDD LED showing relatively little activity. Task Manager was listing CPU use constantly above 50%, but it was the only process shown as actually using anything, usually 6% or 8%, chkdsk only occasionally taking 2% for a moment before getting back to 0% and the rest being idle. So after a while I started trying to close chkdsk, with Ctrl+C, but that didn’t work, and when it was at 3% I eventually gave in and rebooted, forcing it to close that way.
The computer started again normally after that, so I canceled the check I had scheduled on the system partition and turned it off again, reconnected that old HDD, put it back in the desk, turned it back on, saw that it still worked… But was awfully worried that I had damaged that partition by forcing chkdsk to close like that, and it was just then that dad finally got back and I didn’t know how to tell him that he might have lost data, so I ended up sort of squeaking something when he got off the phone, since he received a call just as he walked in and went straight to the kitchen to talk. Asked him to check that partition, see whether he still had everything he used to have on it, but he had a quick look, said he has no idea what’s supposed to be there and that as long as the Internet works and he can open and write documents it’s just fine, and told me to never worry about things, since there are always ways to fix or replace them or find a way to work it out. I said that data isn’t a thing and may not be replaceable if lost, but he was just dismissing everything I was saying and went back to the kitchen to make himself something to eat… And I followed him and ended up crying, sitting down and just crying, while he seemed to be making a point of keeping his back towards me and ranting about other stuff until I got up to go to the bathroom, at which point he called after me just to tell me again to never worry about things, as if that didn’t make it even worse. But at least I cried a little, I guess, and I don’t remember when I last managed to do that. Still couldn’t cry while I was alone though, only doing so when I was there with him.

Written by Cavalary on December 10, 2019 at 8:52 PM in Personal | 0 Comments

The Witches’ Voice and Other Recent Web Casualties: Yahoo Groups, Care2…

For some reason, I seemed to recall that last month’s announcement specified that The Witches’ Voice will be taken offline on December 6, so yesterday, and I found myself meaning to write a quick post about it. However, now that I actually looked at it again, I saw that it doesn’t specify a clear date, but says it’ll happen “in late December”, so those who have anything they want to retrieve still have a chance to do so, though if you haven’t signed on in a long time you’ll need to reactivate your account and I have no idea what could still be found there. I for one can’t find that article I wrote back in the day by searching the site, and wonder whether I didn’t actually delete my account, so including that article, at some point after they pretty much ensured the site’s “death” years ago, by removing the news section and just sticking to posting those links on their Facebook page.
It’s sad when you see sites just giving up on their actual on-line presence completely and making a clear choice to just stick to social media, and primarily Facebook, now when we need to take back control and move away from that sort of centralization, so communities can be formed again and people who are interested in something can actually follow the topics, see the articles and posts, without being at the whim of algorithms and without the authors and administrators needing to pay to have their content distributed at all. But, as I already mentioned, in their particular case, the choice was made years ago and, to be honest, I have considered the site as gone since then.
Either way, I still remember finding it back in the day, while living with Andra, at a time when I was much more interested in spirituality and was actually returning to Neopaganism, after having sort of scared myself away from it a few years earlier, even though it had remained the one spiritual path that made some sense to me ever since first coming into contact with it. I remember the useful information I found, either directly on it or through links to other sites, the community, the few messages exchanged with a few others from here, meeting Liz, sending her a message to, I guess, attack some of the views she had expressed in an article and ending up with a friend, then, at some later point, ending up on a group for a while… Always was rather put off by those who were too much into the actual spiritual aspects, not to mention magick, and while I was more active on the site I actually made a point to try to set those who occasionally ended up defending those that are usually seen as “witches” over here straight, but there were things that just spoke to me, people who felt different in the right way, even great people, and I mean that in the sense of “greatness”, not “being cool” or something like that. And for that… I guess I wanted to write this as a little way to honor it, in its final moments.

Seeing as The Witches’ Voice hasn’t actually vanished quite yet, the above could have waited a little longer. However, I also mentioned ending up in a group, and that was on Yahoo Groups, and today I received what’s apparently the final notification about Yahoo Groups having their functionality greatly reduced. No idea how many still use them actively; I haven’t since leaving that one I ended up on from The Witches’ Voice, and otherwise just had a quick look at one for Romanian Pagans at the time of the last census, when I was wondering how to tell dad to list me, and recently, after receiving the first notification, at the two I was still in, confirming that they’ve been inactive for a very long time and leaving one, though I decided to stay in the other, since it’s for the SETI@home team I ended up joining back then and don’t care to look for another one. Nevertheless, to say that the groups aren’t going away but all content will be removed and it’ll also be impossible to have them set as public anymore makes little sense, since it means that the system will only still be used to send e-mails to a number of people, which can simply be done by clicking on “Reply All”…
Not that it’s strange for Yahoo to kill off their properties, though they usually tend to do that for those they purchase, buying good sites, good communities, to quickly destroy them and eventually close them down for good. But I have some pretty good memories from a few groups, back when they were active and I was active on them, and think that something could have been done to revitalize, or at least preserve, those communities, and the content they have created and shared over the years. Those who do still use them now, as well as those who had used them in the past and created content for others to see, enjoy and make use of, and those who may simply want to rekindle some memories, for whatever reason, will likely be hit hard by this. Then again, it is a good example of what happens when you do rely on something centralized in such a manner for communities, content and communication…

While I’m here, should probably point you to my previous post about lost communities and platforms, even if that also included those that changed in awful ways, and also mention the one site that went away in recent months that I was still actively using. I’m referring to Care2, which all of a sudden announced getting rid of everything else to just focus on petitions as of August. What made matters worse then was that, while it’s possible that the announcement was posted there, on The Petition Site, a bit earlier, it was definitely only brought to the attention of Care2 users, through a notification at the top, on August 1, which was the day when the Butterfly Rewards were removed, so users should have spent their remaining credits before that day without having been notified of that need. And everything else went away on August 15, Care2 also switching entirely to social media, and using that just to share links to petitions, since they no longer produce or host any other content, also destroying communities and anything and everything useful people might have stored there, or wanted to find again, be it discussions, articles, news, profiles or anything else.
Since I was still doing my daily clicks, for their Click to Donate program, having been doing that ever since Andra first pointed me to the site back in the day, I was obviously still going on Care2 every day when that happened. And going there daily for those clicks also meant I saw the articles that showed up on those pages, and occasionally clicked some and possibly saw some others after doing so, or just felt like checking the front page or the news now and then and found more things there, and that led to me seeing and signing a large number of petitions as well. Ever since they did away with all of that, I have no reason to go there anymore and therefore only see the odd petition link that they share and Facebook decides to put on my feed. So if the reason for the change really was to focus more on petitions and help them succeed even more, it backfired completely in my case and I believe there are plenty of others in a similar situation, making this not just another piece of evidence against relying on such centralized services, but a terrible move even for their stated mission, for the causes they claim to support and the activists relying on them.

Written by Cavalary on December 7, 2019 at 7:35 PM in IT & Copyright | 0 Comments

Climate and Live Animal Exports – November 29 and December 2 in Bucharest

Friday there was another climate march, again as part of the events taking place around the world on that date, with several cities in Romania participating as well. However, with the planting taking place the next day, I didn’t attend and, if I stumbled upon relatively little information about the events that took place elsewhere in the world, likely indicating that it was a much more subdued affair there as well, about the Bucharest march I hardly found anything, despite searching. More exactly, I found a single report, showing up in the exact same form on a few sites, and a handful of pictures that I guess were posted as something of an “official” album, plus a post announcing, just after 5 PM, that the march was going to start in ten minutes. Otherwise, saw a few “old guard” activists sharing the event and Greenpeace Romania stating that they’re joining it, but no indication that they or any other established environmental NGO or group took on organizing it again.
As such, there’s little additional information I can add here and am mainly writing this in order to mark the moment, but I will mention that people were asked to gather at the fountain area in University Square from 4 PM and the march ended at the Parliament, or more exactly across the street from it, at Izvor Park. That report mentions a few hundred participants and the pictures clearly show that they marched on the sidewalk, but there’s also one indicating that a die-in was staged at some point, though I can’t quite say when or where. The event was listed as ending at 8 PM, but exactly when the end was called and people scattered, I have no idea.

On the other hand, I did attend yesterday’s protest demanding a ban on live animal exports, though it was scheduled to take place between 4 PM and 7 PM and I only got there at 4:23 PM and left at 6 PM, when one of those leading the chants said that he had to go and the Ministry of Agriculture officials, since that’s where the protest took place, drove away as well. The Ministry’s hours actually end at 5 PM and the delegation that went inside for a discussion did come out around that time, with others, probably regular employees in the Ministry, leaving in two groups, the first one around the same time and the second a fair bit later, but those at the top seemed to take their time, even spending some time in the cars after leaving the building. However, they also seemed to want to make a point of not avoiding the protesters, leaving through the front gate, with the windows down and throwing a quick greeting in passing. Representatives of those raising sheep for export also took part in the discussion, vehemently opposing any ban.
Since I was there, have some pictures of my own and can say that about 100 people were present during the time I was there, the total likely being a little higher, since some left before others arrived. There were plenty of signs and banners brought by the organizers and those from one or two other NGOs that attended, plus a few regular participants who had made their own, and the organizers also brought a large screen and speakers, footage depicting the horrors of live animal exports, including some obtained during the rescue operations following the capsizing of the Queen Hind, which was what brought the issue again into the public eye, playing in a loop. Not all of it had sound, but some of it did, and that did cause some problems when the chanting started, the two regular loudspeakers being no match for the speakers and the shouts and chants tending to fade away a short distance from the point of origin, even if the participants were gathered in a small area. And since I mentioned the small area, this was probably the one protest that was aided by being required to stay inside the area fenced in by the gendarmes, for obvious reasons.
According to the statement released by the organizers, the discussions didn’t result in anything new or more favorable, the official position remaining that already stated by the Prime Minister, which is that live animal exports should gradually be replaced with meat exports, with a goal of banning live animal exports “in the medium term”, but the only promise on the table at the moment is more thorough checks for these transports, attempting to ensure that they comply with the existing norms in terms of the conditions offered to the animals. Otherwise, the talks centered around the income brought by these exports, the fact that the price for live animals is much lower than that for meat being dismissed as the representatives of the exporters stressed that they’d go bankrupt without them due to the vastly insufficient capacity of Romanian slaughterhouses, and especially considering the fact that the main markets for live animals are Muslim countries and only a small part of even those slaughterhouses have a halal certification. While pointing out that this will take time to produce visible results, the officials promised significant investments in the animal farming and processing sector, which obviously displeased activists as well, some of them even firmly promoting, and demanding, veganism and the rest basing their stance on the obvious reality that most people should eat less meat, and possibly animal products in general, for health reasons, and that, considering the current population, people in general definitely need to switch to at least a primarily plant-based diet for environmental reasons. On the other hand, the activists were at least satisfied that the 180 sheep still alive out of those rescued from the vessel are currently safe and, while the ownership situation is still uncertain, the authorities promised to do everything in their power to hand them to NGOs that will care for them for the rest of their days.

Written by Cavalary on December 3, 2019 at 11:49 PM in United We Save | 0 Comments

Planting Trees at Videle for the Fourth Time

Did have to make use of another one of those old book reviews to make room for this, but there was no other way now. Struggling to get it posted before midnight anyway, and in the end had to post it partially and add the rest a bit later, after only getting up at 4:25 PM today and spending the evening making mamaliga again, and with that thorn that I’ll mention at some point below still in my finger, which makes some things rather tricky. Also means I’m wondering what to do about it, because it may develop into a worse problem than it first appeared if I can’t get it out, which problem may well be worsened just by my attempts. I mean, after showering last evening I used the normal method, trying to get a needle under it, but it seems to go straight down, so I opened up the bit of skin above it but that was it, and while sleeping I had a bandage which I had put vinegar on, after reading that vinegar was one of the things that could draw splinters out, but that didn’t seem to help in any way either, and I quickly gave up on using my small pair of scissors to try to grab it, as there didn’t seem to be anything to grab. Of course, passed the needle and scissors through fire and medicinal alcohol, but they may still cause problems, and not happy with how my finger looks now, after removing that bandage, possibly because of the vinegar as well.
One annoying thing is that I was awfully fast while doing the squats this evening, but don’t have the exact time, since there was a replay at the end. I really don’t think I matched that 2:10, but it was awfully close, and I had noticed how fast I was and was wondering whether I actually wanted to try for a record. Sort of decided against it, but I nevertheless saw 1:59 when I looked when I got to 90, so 2:10 would have meant an average of 13 seconds for ten and 11 seconds for the last ten, making it unlikely. And I did try to accurately count those first few seconds after finishing, before I could open the clock and match the seconds there with what was on the screen after the replay, and this is what leads me to say that 2:12 is the most likely time. 2:11 is also possible, however, and that was what I thought at first glance, before checking again, so being a mere second off would mean that there was at least a chance that I matched that 2:10 after all.

But this post should really be about planting trees again, for the second time this month, after doing so at Vanatorii Mici two weeks ago, and for the fourth time at Videle, after going twice in the spring of 2018 and once more last autumn. And yes, regarding the issues mentioned in the previous post, I did finally get a reply, confirming that I was indeed on the list… Only to not find myself on it after all, so it’s a good thing it didn’t matter, since that list only circulated after we were already on the bus and got to me just minutes before reaching our destination, so nobody said anything or, as far as I could tell, cared that I just added myself at the bottom, after a few others who had done the same.
That reply came Friday afternoon, after I quickly checked again when I woke up to pee, around 1:45 PM, and decided to send them a private message as well, since there were still no replies to the e-mails or comments. Napped a bit more after that and it was close to 4 PM when I finally got up, at which point I saw that confirmation… And it probably helped just enough for me to avoid breaking down completely, since I was increasingly worried and not feeling up for it, for being around people again in itself, plus again being functional in the morning and working on hardly any sleep. And dad didn’t help either, since he came back from wherever he had been earlier just as I was getting up in the afternoon and then started moving things around in the living room again, still being there and awake at 3 AM when I finished eating, though he had finally gone to bed by the time I also did so again, just after 4 AM. Having him around, and moving around, when I was in that state only made it worse, of course, and while I was in the kitchen at night I was shaking and even getting a bit nauseous and out of breath, so I’m quite surprised that I did manage to catch another brief nap, though I was actually awake again a few minutes before the alarm rang, at 5:30 AM. But the fact that it was much closer to my usual time obviously had much to do with that, since when I tried to catch another nap in the evening I ended up trying every method I could think of for at least one and a half hours before finally managing to get at most 45 minutes of sleep. Admittedly, I might have fallen asleep earlier, but I believe I was just drifting off when something fell, not sure if because of what dad was doing or in the apartment above, and I was sitting up and with my heart thundering right away, after which point trying meditation techniques backfired, as I was even more acutely aware of both noises and sensations.

At least the morning went well enough, and I was out a bit after 6:35 AM and getting to the meeting place a bit before 7:15 AM, though I did go to the toilet in that park first, actually getting there some five minutes later. I was awfully worried on the way though, since when I reached the metro I suddenly stopped being certain that I had to get off at Eroilor, wondering whether it was there or in fact at Izvor and being unable to really make up my mind, though it was fine in the end. And, as I already mentioned, the fact that nobody checked the names on the list before getting on the buses meant that there were no more reasons for concern once I was there.
What was interesting was that I ended up not just going there again, not just on the same bus, but actually on the same team with both the guy who was my teammate a year ago and the one who was, or at least intended to be, my teammate the first time I went there, and the organizers formed two teams in each bus, one for each side, though people who wanted to be on a certain one could switch. Didn’t spot the latter myself, so only noticed him when he came to me as we were walking to our area and asked whether we had seen each other while planting there before and I took one glance and told him we had been teammates last spring, but my teammate from last autumn stood out while waiting to get on the buses, being tall and with that ponytail, and I rather waited for him when I noticed that we were heading for the same bus when we were told to get on. With people crowding at the front door, he went in through the middle one and I waited my turn there, but with people already sitting in the seats in the front part of the bus and not wanting to ask whether those next to them were free, I had a good excuse to sit right in front of him and ask whether I knew him from there. That was all the interaction, however, since he said he doesn’t even remember what he did last week, much less a year ago, and when we started working I didn’t try to ask whether he wanted to team up again, just trying to go at it on my own again at first.
Either way, we left at exactly 7:45 AM and had a lot of stuff to fill and sign on the bus, the contract and other forms being separate this time around. What can be read from what I wrote while the bus was moving isn’t my problem, but the nausea caused by reading and writing under those conditions was, so had to take breaks and look at the horizon now and then. As I mentioned above, the list of names that we were supposed to find and check ourselves on was the last thing that reached me, minutes before arriving at the destination, so the fact that I wasn’t there proved to not be an issue. And, since I’m at what happened on the bus, our kits were given there as well, and the backpack was the same, just the name of the NGO differing, yet the supposedly reusable bottle was made entirely of plastic this time around, so pointless and even harmful, and the hat was of that kind that you need to tie at the top in order to wear as one, and otherwise can use to protect your neck, or mouth and even nose if you want. Stuck to wearing the one received two weeks ago though.

After some confusion due to some roads being closed in Videle, we reached the destination at 9:15 AM and walked through the mud to the tents. I was among those who walked next to the unpaved road leading to them, since it was way less muddy there, but after a point that wasn’t an option anymore and doing so before that point led to quite a number of burs sticking to my pants, so I had to take a few moments to get them off. Since there was one that I only noticed after I started working, I’ll probably need to have another look at my clothes before washing them, since I’m yet to do so.
Getting back there, there was a stage and it was still being set up, but the sandwiches and tea, and also coffee for those who wanted that, were waiting for us, and the sound system was soon operational as well. One of the first songs was Nothing Else Matters, so I found myself nodding along, with my teammate from a year ago and a couple of others doing the same, but then there was some rap and some electronic music or something of that sort and many others started humming or even singing along and even doing some dance moves while we quickly moved away. Can’t say that I heard anything else I might have been fond of among the songs played before the live band took the stage, but also can’t fault the selection, seeming that they really tried to move through the genres and have something for every taste. The band really wasn’t in the least for mine, however. And, either way, being driven away at that early point meant I was among those having a look at the area we were to plant in before the speeches, and noticing the threatening clouds all too well, as you can also see in the pictures I took, albeit once again just using my phone and mostly before and after the actual work. Those who spoke said that it won’t rain until the afternoon, but the forecast said something else and quite a gust of wind brought dark clouds, and also the smoke caused by the lunch starting to be cooked, above us, prompting someone to say that we may even end up with a tornado.
Nevertheless, we started planting at 10:30 AM and I wasn’t left to go at it alone for long. Not that I’d have managed to do much if I would have been alone, since the ground was very soft but there were a lot of roots and, at least in some areas, some rocks as well, but I did mean to try, yet a man quickly approached me to ask whether I wanted help and took over digging. And he was there with his son, who was planting, leaving me with little to do… Which became even less when the woman who had sat next to me on the bus joined us as well, and four was definitely a crowd, even if one was a child. Plus that he told her that he had quite a cold and had taken everything he could think of to be able to come and work that day, adding another very good reason for me to not want to be around him if I could help it. So from that point I sort of flit around, not trying to dig anymore but looking for places where I could plant, sometimes getting back to help what I guess was sort of my team, sometimes helping others, as often as possible planting on my own in holes dug by others, since some seemed to just dig, occasionally gathering discarded markers or moving bundles of saplings closer… Seem to recall someone, probably that guy who offered to help, accidentally hitting my head at one point, but forgot exactly how and thought it was a very light hit, though now that I thought of that I just noticed something that may be a lump and therefore indicate otherwise, though it’s at the back of my head and I therefore can’t exactly check. Either way, flitting around like that also helped me avoid much of the interaction, though I had to struggle to avoid a breakdown even so, especially when the coordinator came to me a few times to teach me how to plant properly, seeming determined that I wasn’t doing it well.
Rain started soon and, at first, stopped again, but once it started again it didn’t stop anymore, though at least it remained quite light. So we kept working and actually finished our area quite early, so we moved to help those working on the one next to it after that and were just about finished there as well when the lunch break was announced, a bit before 1 PM. Since I had a spade again after we switched areas, I insisted on digging and planting one tree completely on my own, but otherwise didn’t count how many I was involved in planting at all. One thing I obviously know, however, is that at one point I ended up with a thorn in my finger, a part of it still being there after I removed the glove, and the very tip still being there even now, as I already mentioned, probably because I pulled that part out too hard instead of working it out gently. Kept thinking of asking the medical crew for help, but couldn’t bring myself to do it, so I’ll see what will happen now…
Back to the lunch break, I went to the toilet first, so there was a long line for lunch by the time I got in it, and it was hard to keep my hands clean for even a moment, with mud all over my clothes, including inside my jacket’s sleeves, and also on my phone, so after having washed twice before getting in line I ended up spending a fair bit of time wiping them with a napkin and rather holding them up, since the moment I lowered them they got all muddy again. And while I’m on the topic of waiting in that line, another interesting thing is that I ended up being just behind the girl who had asked about Sapiens two weeks ago, and we had recognized each other early on, but I didn’t mention that message I sent her then either, and she’s yet to reply, or probably see it at all, filters being what they are. Also in line, the woman who had sat next to me ended up next to me there as well, though she walked away after a while and didn’t seem to return, or at least not next to me again. But while she was next to me I noticed that she had one foot in a plastic bag, and when I asked about it she said that the bottom of one of her shoes had fallen off, and when I mentioned the times when I had the same thing happen with my boots she said she had thrown it away, so nothing to do about it anymore.
As I was finally approaching the tent, I heard something about the first person to go to the area for vegetarians and those fasting, and a moment later the guy who I guess was the main coordinator came to say that those who don’t want meat can go there directly, and there’s no waiting in line either. Of course, the moment he said that, a line did form there as well, plenty switching, myself included, and I’m not sure I saved any time, since I was quite close to getting the regular lunch at that point. But I had been considering going for the meatless courses anyway, if possible, being kept from actually trying to figure out how to do so before that moment by the fact that I thought they had a more limited quantity, just for those who had specified wanting vegetarian or vegan food when registering, and I hadn’t done so.
The food was good though, and the servings were quite large, unlike two weeks ago, and you could also ask for a mix of the main courses, which most seemed to do, myself included. Alongside that, there was a mix of cooked, possibly baked, vegetables, two choices of salad, and pie as dessert. In addition, as I was eating, having finally sat down to do so even though the benches were wet after having first eaten the pie while standing, the main coordinator came to the tables to say that anyone who wasn’t full and wanted more can go get more, and a bit later did so himself, announcing it as well, which was again quite the opposite of what happened two weeks before. The plates and utensils were strange though, seeming to be made of wood, thin and light wood for the utensils and possibly wood shavings for the plates. I heard something about the plates being edible though, but they didn’t seem to be to me, and since they were single use either way, it was probably worse than using plastic.
Unfortunately, if they did have tea ready when we got there, by the time I finished eating they were out, so I couldn’t get more then, that first cup remaining the only thing I drank while there. And what was strange was that I saw quite a number of volunteers walking to the buses when I asked about the tea, so I asked the guy who had been my team’s coordinator, who was at that tent at the time, whether we were supposed to leave and he said that another bus will leave when 50 more will want to, but 50 had wanted to leave then and they did. So I stepped back away, uncertain what to do next, and eventually got another bun and a piece of one kind of steak. Had been wondering about it and, between the main coordinator saying so, quite a number of things, mainly from the main meat courses, still being there, and my teammate from a year ago snatching a piece just as I was considering doing so, I worked up the courage and then just placed the steak on the bun and ate it while standing. The steak left a rather bad aftertaste, which lasted for hours, so I was a bit worried for a while, but I seem to recall that sort of aftertaste after eating similar kinds of steak, probably brought by dad from his mother or bought from somewhere, so it may have something to do with the sauce or spices used.
After I was done, I saw that some had gotten back to work, though the conditions were quite miserable. The organizers had given some flimsy raincoats to those who had wanted them, but it was just too rainy and muddy, yet some people tried and, after considering it for a few moments, I retrieved my gloves from where I had left them and joined them. What I did was plant trees in holes that were already dug, focusing mostly on those, a fair number, which were too shallow and didn’t have much around them in terms of earth which had obviously been dug out of them, leading me to believe that some had started digging them before lunch and had stopped at that point, resulting in the insufficient depth and most of the earth which had been dug out having been rained on for about one hour. But I did my best, trying to dig a bit deeper with my hands when necessary, since I hadn’t taken a spade again, filling as well as I could and keeping at it until 2:20 PM, when the main coordinator came to tell us that it was enough, we had already done more than they expected under those conditions, the weather didn’t allow for more and we should head to the buses.
So I cleaned up a bit more, quickly trying to wash off some of the worst from the sleeves of my jacket as well, then went to the buses, trying to search for the one I had arrived in, though I wasn’t certain I could recognize it anymore. Went first to one that seemed about to leave and asked a guy who was next to it, but he said we won’t return on the same buses, asking me whether I even remembered mine, and to just find one that still had free seats, since that one was full, and make sure it gets back to the same city, since there were one or two coming from others. There was another bus alongside that one at that time, but the guy ignored that one and told me to try those that were still behind, so I went there… Only to be turned away by my team’s coordinator, since I found him on the way and asked him as well, having him confirm that we won’t return on the same buses but saying that those that were behind were almost full as well, directing me back to where I had been, to that one which had been alongside the one that was about to leave. So I turned back around and hurried, overtaking many from the group which had started in that direction before me, and then also managing to very quickly change my boots with the shoes before climbing on. The driver was giving people some of those things to put on shoes so you won’t get the floor dirty, but had run out before my turn came anyway, and I managed to change before all seats filled up, so it was fine.

We left at 2:40 PM and the trip back was uneventful. There were no more lists or speeches, no confusion, the others were mostly quiet and plenty of people, including the one I ended up sitting next to, actually slept. The driver was chatty, but mainly with a person sitting right behind him, after noticing that they were living on the same street. We were back just before 4:10 PM… And when I got to the metro station the card gave an error. I had kept it in the notebook, which had been inside both backpacks, since I had placed mine in the one I had been given, and the sweater I had taken with me was above it, but the machine had taken several seconds to read it in the morning, so I guess something might have been wrong with it already, and either because of the moisture or because that machine couldn’t properly write on it in the morning, or because of a mix of the two, it became unreadable. But when I told the woman from the booth, she just waved me through, not even checking that it was still valid, and I was back here at 4:45 PM.

Written by Cavalary on December 1, 2019 at 11:56 PM in Personal | 0 Comments