Pictorial chronicle

Déroutante erreur / Baffling system error

Baffling error message

“Une exception non gérée s’est produite dans un composant de votre application. Si vous cliquez sur Continuer, votre application va ignorer cette erreur et essayer de continuer. La collection a été modifiée; l’opération d’énumération peut ne pas s’exécuter.”

Voici un étrange message d’erreur apparu sur un poste au travail aujourd’hui. Le libellé en français ne fait guère de sens… mais, bon, nous n’en sommes pas à une absurdité près…

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Notable News (w32-w41)

Since our previous status report, nearly three months ago, a lot has happened. On the domestic front, I am happy to say that I have felt improvement at work. I guess I found better ways to deal with all the irritant “mammoths” (a plethora of usual absurdities, incompetence, and running arounds that made me crazy and drained my energy). However, following the “heat episode” I mentioned earlier, I complained to the union. The union director for the borough came to the workplace and said he could not do anything. A few weeks later he submitted his report to the employers. His conclusion? The section head and the three employees who left early because the excessive heat made them sick … should have stayed at work to show solidarity with their colleagues! Who needs a heartless employer when you have a union of traitors and assholes like that! A real nest of collusion. Madness!

As I keep saying, library work can be quite physical and exhausting (who knew!). I remember someone saying that, at my age, “if you don’t feel pain somewhere when you get up in the morning, it means that you’re dead!” Well, I can say that I feel quite alive. Pain is good. It certainly makes me feel I am there.

What has probably helped is that it has been a very good time for writing. My mind felt clear, I’ve been producing a lot, and everything was doing so well that I could only fear that it would all crash down soon. Maybe it’s the Algernon’s syndrome  or, to paraphrase Nelligan, “I am happy, so happy, that I am afraid to burst into tears!” Hopefully not… It is true that I wrote a lot, mostly about movies (Winchester, The Guernsay Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Isle of Dogs, Ready Player One, Mary and the Witch’s Flower, Ex-Libris: The New York Public Library), particularly with the coverage of the World Film Festival (list of Japanese films, red carpet, Samurai’s Promise, Zone Out, Life in overtime, Think again, Junpei, The Miracle of Crybaby Shottan, wrap-up). After a while I had enough of movies and it felt like I should go back to comment on books and manga—which I did with The Ghost in the Shell 1.5: [Human Error Processer], Un siècle d’Animation Japonaise, Souvenirs d’Emanon, Le Guide du Mauvais Père 4 and The Little Broomstick. I also wrote a suggestion list of adult manga. With all this the blog’s stats have soared!

I kept busy. I took walks in the park or visited the museum, a farm fair or the Italian week. I also reflected on the electoral conundrum (before accomplishing my citizen’s duty —in anticipation— with disappointing results), against Facebook, about writing (1, 2, 3) and about reading (or not). 

Eventually, by mid-September, everything started to slow down again and I wrote less. So many things to do. I feel that I cannot accomplish anything. What I need is more time! Time… Time is the enemy. We fight it to do more. We fight it hoping not to get old too fast and still have a little time left to do more. I wrote a haiku.

I started writing in a new notebook. The thirty-fifth. Some could be surprised that, in this digital age, one would still use a paper notebook. However, I find this physical form strangely reassuring. After all, electronic information can be so vulnerable. The good old notebook doesn’t need any batteries and fears only fire and water. Its sequential way of working—to write, read (or re-read)—is so much more appropriate for the human brain capacity. It is easier to get an overview of the text, to positioned yourself in the three dimensions of the writing. It’s more confortable for me. Of course, most of the time, it is just a glorified to-do or grocery list, but it serves as backup for my capricious memory. That way, in a few scribbles, I can preserves ideas that would otherwise be too fleeting to be useful. It is also the witness of my daily life.

I’ve watched a few interesting TV series. First, The Miniaturist mini-series. It is good and yet disappointing. It looks similar to the Girl with a Pearl Earring. It’s another show about the powerlessness of women in the end of the Middle Age (or early Enlightment). It concludes with an open-ending. “I can do this”, she says… I also binge-watched the first season of the Jack Ryan TV series on Amazon Prime (a thriller similar to 24), the new seasons of Walking Dead, Doctor Who and also the very good Press TV series. 

Apple has announced new products (iPhone and watch) and released new operating systems. How come, when you do a software upgrade, you always loose something you like? Why is removing something cool and useful is considered an upgrade? New operating systems always offer a basket of frustration…

I am trying to improve my reading habits by reading more, more often and better literature than just manga. I started with The Little Broomstick by Mary Stewart and I am currently reading the first novel of the Poldark series by Winston Graham. But it is hard. In the olden days, I could read about sixty pages in an hour. Now, I read only a few hours per week, before going to bed, and barely thirty pages per hour. After two or three days of starting a new book, I am barely at page fifty! What’s happened to me? Fortunately, as I go forward, it is starting to get better… However, manga are pilling up on my nightstand, so I will soon have to pay attention to them…

“Summer is officially dead. It smells like Fall outside and I heard a flight of geese passing over the house”. Then, Fall officially came. It got colder and rainy. We even had some light snow. It became a little warmer for a while, but now we can feel that Winter is around the corner. Flowers and plants are shrivelling, twisting and taking the brownish colour of death. Winter is coming…

The lights have started to flicker again. Same time than last year…

On the world stage, we find the usual disasters (increasing numbers of earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and volcanoes) but my attention had been particularly focused on the trumpian saga of corruption scandals (Stormy Daniels, the Mueller’s investigation, of course, but particularly the Kavanaugh confirmation) growing in a crescendo as the midterm elections are closing by. Such craziness! (For all the details see the 2018 events for the months of August, September and October as well as the links bellow).

Despite all this, I surprisingly succeeded to stay acquainted with the affairs of the world and gathered over two-hundred notable news & links — which I now share with you (in both french or english, slightly categorized, but in no particular order; please 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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The Ghost in the Shell 1.5: [Human Error Processer]

GitS-1-5-hummanErrorProcesser-cov“La section 9 est sur les dents ! Il faut dire que les enquêtes s’enchaînent pour la section d’élite et que Kusanagi et Batou n’ont guère le temps de chômer…”

“Découvrez enfin dans sa version perfect ce volume phare de la saga, qui vous éclairera sur la vie quotidienne de la section 9, ses difficultés et ses tensions. Un tome qui conclut à merveille le triptyque de The Ghost in the Shell Perfect Edition.”

[ Texte du site de l’éditeur ]

ATTENTION: Peut contenir des traces de divulgâcheur (i.e. “spoilers”)! Les personnes allergiques à toutes discussions d’une intrigue avant d’en avoir elle-même prit connaissance sont vivement conseillées de prendre les précautions nécessaires pour leur sécurité et ne devraient poursuivre la lecture qu’avec circonspection.

La description ci-haut (qui provient du site de Glénat) est totalement erronée! C’est bien la première fois que je vois ça: un éditeur qui ne connait pas son produit ou qui s’en fout! Le Major Kusanagi fait certes une brève apparition mais elle ne fait plus partie de la section 9! Quant à éclairer la vie quotidienne de la section 9, pas vraiment: on y apprends quelques détails nouveaux sur son fonctionnement mais sans plus. Par contre, il est vrai que l’histoire se concentre sur le travail journalier d’enquête de cette force militaro-policière qu’est la section 9.

Si Ghost in the Shell (攻殻機動隊 / Kōkaku kidōtai / lit. “Police anti-émeute blindée mobile”) est mon manga préféré, étrangement, je n’en ai jamais vraiment parlé dans ce blogue (à part brièvement lorsque j’ai commenté le film en live-action et l’animation). Je me dois donc d’abord de donner un aperçu de l’oeuvre en général.

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In liberfacies

Against Facebook

I am really getting fed up with Facebook. It is an exceedingly time-consuming activity (chronophagios) that really gives little rewards — I means besides watching cat videos and stalking (um, I means, keeping in contact with) friends. More and more it has become the kingdom of fake news, as people constantly pass their expressed opinions as news (or as news-worthy).

Not only Facebook is doing very little to prevent foreign agencies to try to influence our minds through fake posting or advertising but, at the same time, they block legitimate ads from museums around the world because it is deemed offensive or subversive ! Incredible! How comes a bunch a geeks who know so little about the world become arbiters of morality and political decency ? They’re such a great influence over our minds (and our children’s minds) and yet, there is no one to oversee their policies? Inacceptable!

Of course, I would not be so inflamed by their ignominious policies if I would not have been touched personally by it. I am busy and I don’t have time to post on my blog, on Facebook, on Tweeter, on Instagram, etc. So I concentrate on what’s the most important to me (the medium that I can control the most) — my blog — and I just automatically repeat each (or most) post on the other social media to increase diffusion of my art and thoughts. However, a recent change in policies brought by Facebook is blocking this automatic reposting! What? They let the Russian pass through but they block my book reviews and cats’ pictures?! That’s unconscionable !

That I learned recently from a WordPress email:

“Starting August 1, 2018, third-party tools can no longer share posts automatically to Facebook Profiles. This includes Publicize, the WordPress.com tool that connects your site to major social media platforms (like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook).”

They explain that if my content is linked to a Facebook Profile (a personal account), then Publicize will no longer be able to share my posts to Facebook, but it will still work if it’s a Facebook Page (public profiles allowing “artists, public figures, businesses, brands, organizations and nonprofits connect with their fans or customers”) that is connected to my site. I have only two options if I still want my Facebook followers to see my posts : create a link manually or convert my Facebook Profile to a Page ! They continue:

While Facebook says it is introducing this change to improve their platform and prevent the misuse of personal profiles, we believe that eliminating cross-posting from WordPress is another step back in Facebook’s support of the open web, especially since it affects people’s ability to interact with their network (unless they’re willing to pay for visibility) We know that this might cause a disruption in the way you and your Facebook followers interact, and if you’d like to share your concerns with Facebook, we urge you to head to their Help Community to speak out.

Damn you Facebook! Improving your platform? You means improving your profits by making changes that would favour the commercial use of your application! What about the users, the people who made your product famous (and create its value) ? Oh, yes, that’s true: since we know that WE are your product it is getting more difficult to fleece us, so you reorient your business model!

So, if you were wondering why I am posting very little on Facebook lately, well, that’s the reason. Now, I will probably share my posts manually for a while (for the most important entries) and maybe consider to eventually create a Page, but I am also quite seriously considering withdrawing completely from Facebook…

What do you think about that? (please comment)

And don’t hesitate to let Facebook know what I think of their stupid policies!

(note: the title is in latin)

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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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Bird watching

I thought I would go to the park to do some bird watching… but all I saw was those big noisy birds!

[ Nikon D3300, Parc Frédérick-Back, 2018-06-20 & 2018-07-08]

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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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