Archive for the ‘People&Society’ Category

Groundbreaking plans

Saturday, August 7th, 2010

Not long ago I had a talk with an old friend, who I have not seen for a while, and for some reason we started to talk about plans about building a subway for Cluj. My friend was very enthusiastic about it, saying stuff about a fully autonomous subway (like in Torino) which goes under the Somes river and just covers the major areas of the city. Well, for sure the city is really starting to need something like that, especially if they plan to reduce car traffic within the city center, so the idea really seemed interesting: a subway in Cluj, I wonder what is the truth about the rumors?
Cluj Subway
I started to dig a bit through the internet to find any useful information about the project, but sadly there is not much hard evidence of any plans. Well, I have to correct myself: there are plans, but they simply seem very blurry with no clear plans of how, where and even who would build the subway.

One of the oldest articles (in Romanian) I have found about this issue is only talking about the need of such a facility, even stating that the subway would not exactly be a subway but a monorail (!?). First things first: yes, the trains in a subway do have versions which go on a a single rail, but not all monorails are subways… there is a fundamental difference between them (literally). Anyway this article was written in 2008 when people did not really know the difference between a plan and a dream, so let’s call the monorail a subway…

Another article, dated a few months later, talks about the location of the eventual tracks: NOT within the city limits: more like a mini-train between the edge of the city and the newly formed industrial park (Jucu). There are talks about a second phase of connecting it to the Airport, too… Apart from the last part which is clearly just propaganda talk, since the airport is in a totally different direction, the plans seems to be more mature and started to make sense: yes our subway is actually a monorail above the ground: cheaper, doable, more realistic.

And so, the year 2009 came, and another article came out with a totally different plan developed by some Dutch specialists, to build the subway along the line of the Somes river…. ’cause it’s… feasible (!?). Yes… I thought we were planning to make promenade’s among the coast of the Somes river… 🙁 . Don’t go ruin that!… Pretty please!… (Later plans show they wont 😉 )

So: we are in 2010 in deep sh… economical crisis. There are no more plans coming out. Although the city is getting more and more crowded, people have stopped dreaming. At least they are not shouting around anymore 🙂 .


I Love Velo

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

Since the 10th of July Green Revolution Association and the local authorities have launched a bike-sharing program to promote biking in the city. The recipe is simple: take 150 bicycles and let people go around the city in a two hour limit, just by signing a simple contract, and what’s more important for the citizens of this great country: totally FREE! This sounds interesting… let’s try it 😀
I Love Velo - Cluj
The rental-center is at the big parking at the Sports Hall in the Grigorescu quarters (kindof hard to miss actually). We decided to go there at around 11:30, since the opening hours are from 10:00 to 20:00 (though I am not sure about the closing time). What is interesting, however, is that when we got there (11:45), there was a huge crowd waiting to “share bikes”, but there was nobody from the organizers to be found…. HUGE minus, it shows a slight lean towards our usual lack of seriousness… sad.

Anyway we took an hour stroll on the banks of the Somes river and when we got back things were already going on: the bike sharing has started! In order to get a bike ones needs to have its ID Card present and to complete a sharing agreement. The place is equipped with stands to do the completion, they provide ballpoint-pens so this part was really easy. After completing the template, we received a card from the rental-boot and exchanged that for a bike at the bicycle-stand.

Great, we have our wheels! Now to see what you actually receive: a quite decent quality bicycle (with a slight wobble while riding it) no gear-changer, nothing fancy, just a basket up front, protection over the chains, and a broken bell (at least in my case 😛 ). The fun can begin!

Apart from the great bike track along the Somes river and into the “Roselor” park, it is quite hard to get to the city center… Getting to the central park is relatively easy, but from then on the bicylce-roads are a bit disconnected (or hard to spot). From the center to the Marasti quarters it was a piece of cake, bike lanes all the way (with a few interruptions only) and also the main streed towards the train station (Horea street) has bicycle lanes on it’s entire length (one way lanes on each side). For a more complete overview of tracks in Cluj, click here.

All in all it was a great experience: for a guy who takes the car everywhere in Cluj, it was a great surprise how much fun this can be on a sunny day (no worries, I am still a petrol-head). Two years ago since I have left Cluj for my adventures in Italy and Belgium, the city did not have a single bicycle track, and now here we are… I think if this goes on well, things can get really great in Cluj 😉 .


Desperate moves

Monday, May 10th, 2010

… are done by something that cannot think rationally anymore, by something that is just doing actions for the sake of doing it. Well, our government is desperate right now. Among the several intentions of getting more money into the state treasury they had the idea of increasing taxes and the VAT, because of the push of the IMF.
Desperate moves
Well in the end they chose the lesser evil by trying to eliminate all unnecessary personnel from state owned institutes. Economically speaking: great move, less output for the same results. I was really starting to feel something is going to change… well of course the bad news are coming after: there might be some additional measures taken if the first actions do not have any effect… How can one announce plan B, if plan A is not yet in execution? Is plan A that bad? It is good to have a plan B, but why was it announced? No… Plan A is not intended to work. Simple. So what is in Plan B? I’ll present just a few nice ideas:

Introduce taxes for bank deposit interests – I did not really have bank deposits, from now on I will surely not have one. With interests for deposits dropping at a staggering rate, I really do not know how deposits will increase. Since deposits make up a quite large part of the money that banks use, then this is surely going to be beneficial for the banks, which are always the engines of the economy in any country.

Introduce taxes for food tickets: Then what is the point having them? Screw all the companies who are living out of this, we do not need them anymore: again a bunch of people jobless… nice…

Introduce taxes for programmers: One of the leading industries in Romania was the cheap and good quality software development. Well, it might not be cheap anymore… or if it still will be cheap, then the programmers are going to get it, their salary will drop. At this point I have to note, that many of the programmers in our country started off as black market workers: it is not going to be hard to get back. Now the state gets some money off programmers through the companies themselves, from now on that might be lost too…. again, nice move.

All these among the considerable reduction of pensions and salaries in state owned institutes is really going to be a huge boost for the people who will have to cope with the ever increasing prices. We are on top of a nice slope towards future Hoovervilles.

I know that for some countries these measures might seem obvious: in Germany for example there are much higher taxes. But then again Germans are not Romanians. We are different people. Laws should not be copied from other countries. For once it would be nice if laws would be introduced to suit our needs and would be adapted for us. After all, a country is not a country due to it’s government: a country is made up of the people who live in it, the real recovery can only come from them and this is NOT HELPING…


Light Festival

Saturday, May 8th, 2010

Honestly when I was told that there is going to be a “Light Festival” in the central park of Cluj, I really thought they were talking about laser shows and a spectacular light-parade. Then, I was told, there is only going to be candles… now how spectacular can that be? Well pretty spectacular 🙂 : I have never seen the central park like this. There were thousands of small candles lit in small paper-boxes on the alley borders. It really looked magical.
Light Festival Cluj
There were a total of 8000 candles in the entire park and for 2 hours (21-23) the park lighting was turned off (apart from the lighting around the lake) letting only the candles illuminate everything. Although the place looked good, it was a bit crowded. Because of that, I was not really able to see anything of the street performers who were making a fire-show.

The event is organized by a national organization called “Cercetasii Romaniei” (Romania’s Scouts), who organized this event the first time in 2004 in the central park from Cluj, lighting 200 candles to remind people of the beauty of the little things in life. Since then the event has been organized each year, now it has been extended to 12 cities in the country.

I was not able to do any usable photos (apart from the ones I used to make the picture for this post), so no photos about this event… sorry.


Big Deal

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

Since I have bought my car, going to the gas station from time to time to do a fill-up or to just wash the car became a habit and a part of my normal life. I chose to go to the same gas station all the time, because it is close and they have a really good tunnel-carwash: OMV.
Recently the company has launched a campaign of “Complete your Kappa bags collection”, which means collecting points at every purchase of at least 30 RON and use those points to acquire travel bags. You can find out more about the campaign here.

OMV Kappa

Personally I never knew Kappa was famous of making travel bags. Anyway, because of the relatively high “original” price of the bags I was hoping that they were of good quality. Basically the original price of a set of 2 trolleys (as it said on the brochure) was of 899 lei, but with 20 points collected, one could buy them for “just” 319 lei. Pretty neat. I do not really need travel bags now, but a set of good bags never hurts especially for this low price…

Unfortunately I never really had the chance to see them, because they were always out of stock. Last week, I managed to gather my 20 points, so I decided to ask for the bags. Luckily the gas station had a set right then on display (nobody bought it, yet), so I checked them out. Well, they are not bad quality, but… I really hoped for something better. I liked the fact that the wheels were not “sticking out” and the quality of the materials seemed good. One thing that I really-really hate, however, is that the sliding handle is not fixed tight enough and the whole thing wobbles around if pulled out. Even my current travel bag (“L. Lambertazzi”), which was a bit cheaper than the Kappa bags can do this part better. To my surprise they did not let me see the smaller bag of the two. It was inside the big one and they told me that the packaging cannot be undone… 😕 ….

I have searched the internet for Kappa bags to at least compare the prices, but nothing. I have only found one forum thread which described these exact bags from the OMV campaign. To my surprise everyone said that the bags are OK. Come on: nothing is special about them… I have actually seen a few trolleys which were better in Carrefour (for around 150-200 lei). I have also checked out some local Samsonite stores: yes, those really are high quality bags for 800 lei.

All in all I am losing my will of buying the bags. They simply are not worth the money. Maybe if you really need them, then yes, buy them. Other than that: nothing special, just attracting clients.