Notable News (w23-w31)

Since the last update, over two months ago, so much has happened. 

On the domestic front, it seems that I ran out of karma points because a series of unfortunate events kept happening to me, including frustratingly bad customer service experiences: I had trouble getting my bag of weekly flyers delivered, after eight long months the contractor finally came to finish the landscaping work in the backyard so I could work (hard) to set up the garden, and then the water heater broke down! Everything was just a big pain in the ass! I ended up so stressed and distressed by the whole ordeal that I forgot to do the accounting and pay the bills! This had never happened to me in fifteen years!

UltraBlinking

Out of energy !

However, that was not the end of it. Work is usually a real nut house where we have to run around like crazy, doing absurd stuff. Under normal circumstances it is already demoralizing and exhausting. But we had to go at it during a heat wave, for a whole week! We had a few days of respite and then, the air conditioning broke down—for another week! We were working at temperature between 27° C and 30° C, with relative humidity of 50-55% ! If you calculate the humidity factor (the way that it’s normally done on weather channels) it felt like working at temperature between 35° C and nearly 40° C ! (Of course, according to the charts used by management, it was barely over 33° C and we shouldn’t even brake a sweat! For them it was just uncomfortable conditions!). Damn it, we are working in a library, not a sweat shop! Management brought huge fans, but if you move hot air, it is still just hot air — in a very noisy environment. 

If it was just working at a desk with a fan in the face it would probably be tolerable, but we are standing up and moving around a lot to serve customers (lending, shelving and processing books, etc.) — contrary to what most people believe it is a very physical work. At my age and with my health I cannot work in such conditions for a long duration. One day, I was tired and feeling dizzy (the head-librarian had already left and a couple of colleagues were not feeling well either) so I decided to also leave work early. We were threatened of “consequences” (disciplinary measures) by management for doing so. We endured for the rest of the week, but, in the end, I couldn’t take it anymore, I was exhausted (completely out of energy), having sore throat, migraine and ear ache, so I took a day off.  I just don’t get it: why’s this obstinacy to force employees to work in unbearable conditions? Where is decency and respect of the workers? That’s what upsets me the most: absurd decisions and disrespect… I get it that there is nothing in the labor law (health & security) that prevent work in extreme heat conditions, but it is just common sense and thoughtfulness not to subject your employees to such suffering! Then again, why should I be surprised of such contempt for the workers?

At the same time, I had to deal with some garden theft which became “the sunflowers’ affair” and evolved into a real saga. Finally, as I was ready to blow a gasket, my blood pressure medication was recalled due to contamination with a potential carcinogen (the generic version is made in China, no wonder)! I had trouble at first to get the pharmacy to replace it for free, but now there is a class-action lawsuit being organized

Japon instantané

My mind elsewhere !

Thankfully, there was a few positive events to brighten my mood, like an occasional trip to the botanical garden or the park, Apple announcing their incoming new operating systems (iOS 12 and macOS 10.14 Mojave) or finally being able to finish watching the latest seasons of Poldark and McMafia. Strangely, as I handled all the bad karma with relatively great zen, I managed to write comments on quite a bunch of stuff (books, TV series and movies): The Dark Tower, The Terror, Crapule, American Made, Victoria & Abdul, Un simple monde, Le chat du louvre 1-2, Black Panther, Isabella Bird: femme exploratrice 1-2, Alien Resurrection & Alien: Covenant, Pline 5, Ad Astra 4-5, Justice League, Batman v Superman, Jumanji, Giacomo Foscari 1, Nos yeux fermés, Your name., In this corner of the world, and The Mummy. Fortunately, reading (or alternatively watching TV) and writing (comments, rants or even poetry) is a great help to bring my mind elsewhere!

On the world stage, we saw the usual fires, floods, volcanoes, storms, kids trapped in a cave, a couple of summits (G7 & North Korea), the World Cup, water was found on Mars and each day kept bringing more Trump insanities. If I wouldn’t know better I could think that Trump is the antechrist and that the end of the world is near! But, no, it’s just our daily lives in the 21st century… I just don’t understand: in 1953 the Rosenberg were tried and executed simply for spying for the Soviets; now, some politicians conspired with the Russians to interfere in the U.S. elections, make their own businesses profits, as well as contribute to undermine western democracies and absolutely NO uproar is being made about it? Delirant isti americani !

Through all this I did my best to stay (sane?) acquainted with the affairs of the world and gathered over two hundreds notable news & links — which I now share with you (in both french or english, slightly categorized, but in no particular order — note that, to save on coding time, the links will NOT open in a new window beyond this point), after the jump.

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Notable News (w13-w22)

In the last couple of months (ten weeks!), there was really nothing new on the domestic front. The same old routine. Spring finally came, the air warmed up and (after a little icy setback) the buds started to open, quickly blossoming into a late summer. I experienced, again, some health problems which kept my moral down for a while. I had my old computer repaired and finally got a new one, which meant lots of hardware and software installations, reorganizing the working area, etc., which made many onomatopoeias come to mind (Aauugh!, *whimper*, *Phew*).

PearlsBeforeSwine-20180106I tried to apply to a couple of new jobs in order to get out of the nut house where I works but with no luck. To make things worse, the company we hired to repair the balcony & backyard keeps dragging their feet and nothing seems to get going. I want to prepare the garden for the summer but will we be able to do any gardening? My life seems on hold. I have many new project ideas to keep me busy but there’s so little time, so many things to think about and to do, all at the same time, that’s overwhelming, mind-crushing, depressing even…

I spent so much energy running like crazy at work (and for a whole week the temperature in the library was between 24 and 28 ºC!), coming back completely exhausted, hoping for a new job (or some sort of fairy god-mother intervention), waiting on the contractor (I took some vacation in order to rebuild the garden after the works would be done, but I feel I wasted my time…), stressing about health problems, reorganizing my computers and my network (extending ethernet to compensate for Bell’s weak wi-fi for example) that I really didn’t read or write much. Again, getting caught with life so much that… I forgot to live! It seemed that time was slipping through my fingers like sand. I felt (and still feel) tired all the time…

When I am at work I feel miserable but, when I am at home and look at this house — this little and comfortable nest, or safe-house, we have set-up for ourselves — I feel pretty good and content. I have everything I need and could ask for (okay, maybe not that marble bust of Lucius Virus or a more quiet and pleasant job — but, who knows, it might come someday). So, I have no real reason to be unhappy (beside watching the news, of course). I just have to tell myself that, again and again, and repeat it,  each time I have to face the darkness…

However, I was not completely idle. I wrote a little (commenting on Le secret des vietnamiennes, Venise and Bug, as well as a few movies). I also attended the Congrès Boréal, went to Ottawa to watch tulips and to the annual book sales of the libraries (so far I bought a few novels and about thirty-five manga!). Unfortunately, I mostly kept myself entertained: I finished to watch The Durrells, some old favourites TV series like Homeland or The Expanse, and tried some quite excellent new series like the remake of Lost in Space, Little Women or The Good Karma Hospital. I even discovered a new TV service, BritBox, but haven’t had time to try it yet.

PearlsBeforeSwine-20180111On the world stage we find the usual disasters: Trump ramping and raving (blaming everyone but himself), floods here, volcano there, many more sexual scandals, ups and downs in North Korea, war looming in the Middle East (Gaza, Iran), add another ebola epidemic, or an occasional school shooting and you have the picture. But there are also some good news, like a very Royal Wedding! [See detailed day by day events for April and May]

Through all this I tried to stay acquainted with the affairs of the world and gathered a few notable news & links — which I now share with you (in both french or english, slightly categorized, but in no particular order — note that, to save on coding time, the links will NOT open in a new window as usual), after the jump.

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Notable News (W07 – W12)

In the last five weeks, nothing much happened on the domestic front. The weather slightly improved each weeks (now it’s mostly above zero, although the east coast kept being hit by one  nor’easter after another!) and the sun feels much better (warmer) since we switched to daylight saving time as it sets much later now. The snow is melting. The job is as tiring and frustrating (absurd) as ever, but I think I am dealing better with it. Zen and all (trying not to give a f*ck).

I got my DNA testing results from 23&me and it is rather disappointing. I am genetically boring: one hundred per cent europeans and no variants detected for major health issues (save a higher risk for macular degeneration and celiac disease). The physical traits reports are hits and misses. I still have to read everything in details, but I feels it is more amusing than really useful.

I didn’t write much (although I did a few good comments on What the Health, An inconvenient sequel, Le chat du rabbin 7, Reine d’Égypte vol. 1 and vol. 2-3, on Kim Thuy’s conference and her book Ru) because I have been constantly busy trying to solve multiple problems. I have the feeling that nothing works properly anymore! Everything seems buggy: the WiFi, the blog, the computer (at home and at work), and even the electricity (causing the lights to flickers almost constantly, turning off and on the TV or the computer)! Is the world starting to slowly brake down all over? The entropy! The entropy! Seriously, if all this is a simulation (or a dream) slowly shutting down, maybe a reboot would wake me up? Or maybe not. But this constant fighting to maintain the cohesion of the universe is getting tiresome (if not unbearable, yet).

I called Hydro Q and the flicker stopped (for now). Tried to install network extenders but Bell’s wifi is till shitty (neither Apple Airport or Netgear worked; should I try another brand? More pods? To be continued…). The computer finally died (there was a problem with File Vault being on but the main problem was the hard drive after all) and is now at the repair shop. My desk feels empty and working in the salon on a combination of Mac-mini (which I normally use as a media center) and iPad, is rather uncomfortable. I am planing to purchase a Macbook soon… But I wasted so much time doing all this… it is frustrating.

In the news, the world doesn’t seems in a much better shape. More Trump-related scandals (Cambridge Analytica, Stormy Daniels, he fires Tillerson and McMaster, tease trade war and impose tariffs on steel & aluminummostly for China, proposed talks with North Korea, etc.), more school shooting this time at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland (Florida), serial bombing in Texas, another democrats’ victory in Pennsylvania slowly tips the scale, emboldened Russians assassinated a couple of former spies in Britain (one with a nerve agent!), Steven Hawking died, etc. The good news is that the students from Parkland are old enough to become activists (#NeverAgain) and, for some, to vote in the mid-term election in November! An end to this nightmare really seems possible…

Anyway, as usual, I managed to stay a little acquainted with the affairs of the world and gathered many notable news & links — which I now share with you (in both french or english, slightly categorized, but in no particular order — note that, to save on coding time, the links will NOT open in a new window as usual), after the jump.

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An inconvenient sequel

an_inconvenient_sequel-cov“A decade after An Inconvenient Truth brought the climate crisis into the heart of popular culture, comes the riveting and rousing follow-up that shows just how close we are to a real energy revolution. Former Vice President Al Gore continues his tireless fight, traveling around the world training an army of climate champions and influencing international climate policy.

Cameras follow him behind the scenes — in moments both private and public, funny and poignant — as he pursues the inspirational idea that while the stakes have never been higher, the perils of climate change can be overcome with human ingenuity and passion.”

[From the official web site]

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Notable News (W43 – W06)

So much happened in the last four months (since the last notable news entry), that I wouldn’t know where to start. I’ll try to recall the highlights, but I’ll try to be brief.

On the domestic front we had a bout of extreme cold (while in the opposite hemisphere they had the hottest weather in nearly eight decades!). For the rest of the time we had the (now) usual cycle of freeze (snow) / defreeze (rain) with more snow than usual (at least more than last year; 195 cm so far). At work it is the usual hell, but I guess I came to term with it, becoming more zen (i.e. no giving a f**k) but I am still set into trying to find another job (in a quieter library, some place closer to home, maybe some desk job but I would rather prefer to keep working with books).

My blog was hacked and I finally made a move to a proper WordPress hosting. It is still a work in progress (still lots of repair to do), but I am now very satisfied with the look of the new blog. Of course, I’ve been more busy working on the blog itself and I didn’t write as much as I would have liked (but, still, I kept busy with some reviews, an essay on the art of reviewing and some articles like a biographical notice, a bibliography update, indexes, etc).

I had lots of trouble to have the city cut a branch of the tree in front of our house because it was touching the electric wires. The expensive repair/renovation in the backyard & balcony couldn’t be completed before the arrival of the cold weather (bad planning and lots of wasted time). The stupid contractor didn’t even provide an invoice so we cannot file our subsidy demands and he didn’t even bother to respond when we demanded that the work be completed in a timely manner in spring!

The digestion problems I’ve had since the beginning of the year convinced me to finally submit to tests and I had to endure a coloscopy (the test itself lasted just fifteen minutes but the two days of liquid diet and “preparation” were hellish!). They found that I was suffering from fatty liver and a sigmoidal diverticulosis (which could complicate into a diverticulitis). More stuff to be careful about…

This string of problems made me rather depressed. What’s the purpose to constantly fight if it is to simply eat in order to work, and work in order to be able to eat? I felt like the entropy of the world was catching up to me: the world was stopping making any sense, I was getting tired and weaker, everything was crumbling around me! Fortunately, writing and working on the blog was some sort of therapy for me and I now feel much better. Spring will be arriving in a little more than a month (despite mixed signals from the groundhogs) and we’ll be able to enjoy flowers under the sun again!

In the news, Catalonia declared independence from Spain, Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital (killing all chances of peace in the Middle East), Disney acquired most of 21st Century Fox, the #metoo social awakening happened, the U.S. government shotdown twice, the Dow Jones droppedSpaceX launched its Falcon Heavy rocket with a Tesla car as payload (!), there was a missile false alarm in Hawaii and Japan, we had various disasters (wild fires in California, mudslides, earthquakes, floods in Europe), and the usual Trump craziness makes me despair for some sanity. Finally, there nothing much on TV since it’s the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics!

Despite everything, I managed to stay a little acquainted with the affairs of the world and gathered many notable news & links — which I now share with you (in both french or english, slightly categorized, but in no particular order — note that, to save on coding time, the links will NOT open in a new window as usual), after the jump.

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Monthly notable news (w26-33)

On the domestic front, in the last month or so, the condition were still rather horrible at work: it was way too hot (ventilation is working but there’s absolutely no air conditioning so we regularly work at temperature of 28~33 ? including the humidex — 23~25 ? with 45%~55% humidity) and we are still running like crazy… Therefore, most of the time, I come back home totally exhausted.

When I was not busy chasing quotes for the balcony and masonry repairs on the duplex, I was taking care of the stray cats, but this year’s cat saga has finally concluded: the two females have been sterilized & released and their kittens have been adopted through a good samaritan shelter. Despite all this (and maybe thanks to the omega 3 supplement I am taking? Nah…) I wrote much more than the previous months (many capsule reviews including commentaries on the Ghost in the Shell and Valerian live-action movies, as well as the superb Pline manga)  and I also started contributing to the Irrésistibles blog (with a version of my commentaries on Animeland #214 & #215, dBD #115, Pline #1, and the movie Silence).

In the news, everything was about the Trump circus. I was literally consumed by the news of this train wreck in the making, like watching an accident where you know you shouldn’t but just can’t turn you gaze from it. So we’ve spent countless hours watching news reports on MSNBC (mainly Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell shows) about the latest trump scandals — and there’s a new one almost every day! It never stops: the Buzzfeed Russian “dossier” (Wikipedia, document), the possible election tempering collusion and financial involvement with Russia, the healthcare repeal & replace disaster, the sabre-rattling with North Korea and, finally, the controversial comments following the Charlottesville violence contributing to inflame the supremacist and racist agenda! When will the republicans realize they have bet on the wrong horse and decide to put him out of his misery? I can’t believe it has gone this far…

I have also watched today’s partial eclipse of the sun (58%) on TV and with my own eyes (using a home-made filter) but, unfortunately, I was not able to take any respectable pictures (by lack of preparation and appropriate equipment). But, at least, the weather was cooperating and I was able to see it. The next opportunities for such event will be June 10 2021 (partial at 85%), October 14 2023 (partial at 29%) and on April 8 2024 (a total solar eclipse!).

As always, I tried to remain acquainted with the affairs of the world and gathered oven an hundred notable news & links — which I share with you (in both french or english, and roughly separated in a few categories of interest), after the jump.

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How to save the planet

You’re feeling good because you think you are saving the environment by recycling and switching to LED light bulbs? Well,  don’t (feel good, I mean). It is totally useless.

Last week-end, I read an interesting article in The Gazette titled “Want to save the planet?” (also from the National Post via PressReader). A study by the University of British Columbia is showing that what we are told to do to reduce climate change is rarely the most effective way.  We’re told that “making a difference doesn’t have to be difficult” when, in truth, making a real impact demands some major sacrifices!

The most interesting part of the article is found in a graphic that was available only in the print version. What high school textbooks suggest students to do for the environment is not very effective: using reusable shopping bags instead of plastic ones represent only a saving of 0.005 tonne (5 kg) of carbon dioxide per person per year, while upgrading light bulbs saves 0.1 tonne, hanging your laundry to dry in the sun saves 0.21 tonne, recycling saves 0.213 tonne and washing your clothes in cold water saves 0.247 tonne. Small changes.

In opposite, the more effective actions for helping the environment represents only four per cent of the suggestions given to students. The best tactics are eating less meat with a plant-based diet (saving of 0.8 tonne per year), buying green energy (saving 1.5 tonne per year), taking one less transatlantic flight per year (saves 1.6 tonne), and going car-free (saving 2.4 tonne per year — note that switching from an electric car to car-free saves 1.15 tonne per year and buying a more efficient car saves 1.19 tonne per year!). However, the most effective way to be environmentally friendly is to have one less child: you would save 58.6 tonne of CO2 emission per year! I always said that those kids are killing the planet.

I am really happy because I am already doing all those things (switching light bulbs, washing in cold water, hang-drying, using reusable bags, hydro-electricity, having a plant-based diet, no flying, no car, no kid) and I hope you will consider it too. I won’t go as far as some sci-fi shows and suggest, as some sort of Sophie’s Choice, that we should reduce the children population (or even the general population) — it would surely make the environment quieter — but please copulate with moderation (I would say “practice abstinence” but that would be inconsiderate: just don’t have four or five kids and think of it as a planetary-wide one-child policy)! There are already too many people on earth…

That would certainly be a good way to save the planet.

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