The First 24 Hours in Helsinki

Boris asked me to call him on facetime when the plane touches the ground so that he will get ready to go to the railway station. I am so happy that I have my internet with me for no extra cost! Yes, my Sprint plan is not cheap, but with my amount of travels, it’s great that I never have to think about it. The moment the plane lands, I can start using my phone.

I have not been here since May, and I forgot that I have a Helsinki transportation app on my iPhone. I could buy my ticket on the way from the baggage claim to the train, and hop on the first train that has arrived. It’s a minor delay, but it shows how we all are creatures of habit. I forgot the way I did it once but remembered how I did it for many years.

When we met at the Central Train Station, he took me to Robert’sCoffee for a cappuccino with a cinnamon bun. It has become symbolic for me – the first meal on the Finnish soil has to be a Finnish cinnamon bun πŸ™‚

It’s the 50s here, compare to our upper 70s, but the fall colors are beautiful!

And I finally got a bike! We talked for a long time of me having my own bike in Helsinki so that I won’t have to rent each time. Boris was always saying that this goes not provide any economic advantage, but the difference is in time not wasted, and I believe it’s worth it.

Most of the stores were closed on Sunday afternoon, and I didn’t like the bikes we saw (they didn’t fit my small body :)), but this morning we finally got what I needed!

Me and my new Electra Bike

This Week Started Crazy and Ended the Same Way

It was an incredibly intense week. Each day at work was packed with meetings from 9 to 5, some days covering the lunchtime as well. The two days which I worked from home were even more intense, with my and Mom’s doctors’ appointments and the same amount of work which had to be done.


All my time was work because when you have meetings all day long, you need some time to do the actual work. Oh, and on the top of it I was dealing with the consequences of the loss of my Jumpcloud password, and subsequent reset of my Apple ID, all passwords on the computer, and finally – a disappearance of “My Documents”…

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Working at UrbanSoft: Winter 1992-93

Now it is time to say a few words about John Roseman, a person who had an enormous impact on my life.

He was from New York and had an MS in Computer Science from Columbia. Now, recalling what he was saying at that time, he must have been from the old money family. He was very democratic and eager to participate in the creation of the new capitalist society in the new Russia. However, this was not a charity, he had some investors, and was looking for ways to make a profit, if not in Russia, then taking some US contracts. Tall and skinny, in his mid-40s, he moved differently, gestured differently, smiled, and was very visibly a creature of a different world.

Sometimes, especially in our Russian eyes he looked naive, and we almost openly laughed at him when he was writing letters to the office of the Mayor of Saint Petersburg, in his broken Russian, suggesting to instill parking fees, parking by the subway stations, development of the city bicycle system and other similar improvements. But the longer I live in the US, and the longer I live in general, the less I find it funny.

Living in Russia in the early 1990s was hard, even for us. The food situation was a little bit better, but as for the rest, we didn’t even know what we were lacking. John was shipping containers of everything from New York. Not just computers and printers, but the printing paper, labels and even the packs of cheap ball pens, and we could not believe he is actually buying them β€œfor the office,” that we can take them when needed and use.

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Yet Another Coping with Stress Cooking (First Stress, Then Cooking)

Tuesday was exceptionally stressful. I worked from home because my Mom had a doctor’s appointment in the afternoon, and I needed to take her there. 

First, I decided to cut a piece of stale bread to soften it in the microwave, and for some reason started with holding it in my hand instead of the cutting board. There was no good reason for it, I was not at any rush, and if I were in a rush, there would be even less reason. The expected result was that I cut myself. I cut myself with a very sharp Japanese knife, which Vlad gave me for Christmas several years ago. It’s an excellent knife, even when I do not sharpen it as regularly as I should, so I ended up with a cut across four fingers on my left hand plus the nail on my pinky. There was lots of blood, which took me some time to stop.Β 

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“Having It All” Then and Now

Anna and Nadia were staying with me last weekend. The main reason was “All kids’ birthday,” but we were also hoping to spend some time together and to do some girls stuff. Which we did, and while the girls were here I was thinking (as I usually do in such cases) about how much parenting had changed since the time I had small children.

It’s also worth noting that I was in the process of listening to the audiobook “All the rage.” In addition to the fact that this book makes you think about gender inequality at home like never before, there was something else.

I always use my own life as an example of “you can have it all.” I used to say that if you plan everything carefully and can distinguish important things from unimportant, you can be a successful parent and a successful professional. And I still believe it is true, but it depends on how you define a successful parent.

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About Homeless, Internet, Cellphones, and What is a Necessity

When Igor told me about this event, I was surprised I didn’t know anything about this program, and if you think about it, it’s a great idea. And by “idea,” I do not mean the MediaLabs, I mean the discounted internet access. Igor’s article says:

The Internet Essentials program offers qualified customers to get 15 megabits per second of Internet use (an average Internet speed for most American households), for a little over $10 a month. The program also lets customers buy discounted desktop and laptops for around $150. Customers can also receive free classes on Internet literacy, basic skills, and useful tips for getting into college or applying for a GED.

Originally, Internet Essentials was only open to families of students who receive free or reduced lunches. It was subsequently expanded to families that either live in public housing developments or receive Section 8 Housing Choice vouchers, as well as college students eligible for Pell grants and low-income veterans.  

Now, Comcast opened eligibility to any resident who receive Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children; Medicaid; Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; Low Income Home Energy Assistance; Supplemental Security Income; Temporary Assistance for Needy Families; and WIC. 

I think it’s important to acknowledge the fact that internet access is no longer a luxury, or entertainment, or something you can save on. The internet has become a vital necessity, comparable with food and housing. And it’s great that organizations are starting to recognize that fact.

I often hear comments about homeless people with cellphones. For some reason, when people spot a cellphone in the hands of a homeless person on the street, they immediately think that this person is not really poor, but just pretending. But it is very far from being true.

In fact, many organizations work on collecting used cellphones to donate them to disadvantaged people, including the homeless. Those people, even more than others, need to be informed. Where hey can get assistance. What’s the weather is going to be. I lost count how many times I was trying to explain to somebody how they can find a Night Ministry bus. The stops vary by day, and not everybody is familiar with all the city neighborhoods. 

We often take these things for granted and saying, “it’s easy to look up!” while it is not really that easy. At least not for everybody.

And while I am on the subject of homelessness, I also wanted to paste here an article, which appeared in Chicago Tribune about three weeks ago. I copied its text because the ability to access the Chicago Tribune content is limited, especially outside the US. And the reason I wanted to paste this text here is, that this is one of the subjects of which the general population is so often unaware. 

Same as those folks who commute to work by train every day do not know, that there is a Family Planning clinic just two blocks from the train station, and antis are going wild there. Same as many people do not understand why a student can’t buy a registration for a professional conference to be reimbursed later. Same way as twenty years ago, people would say they never met a homosexual person in their lives. 

The same way people often do not understand how close to them is the homelessness. Here comes the article. 

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All-birthdays Day

My older son birthday is on September 28, and my twins birthday is on August 23. And since for the past ten years it was challenging to get everybody together in one place, we stopped trying to do it twice, and ended up having one big “combined” birthday. This year the day was September 22 – we had the most lovely brunch at Maison Parisienne in Lakeview.

Dylan(Vlad’s boyfriend), Vlad, Anna, Hettie, Igor, Nina (Hettie’s Mom)
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Winter 1992-1993: a Second Job

You might ask – why I needed a second job? As I’ve mentioned earlier, the pay in the University was close to nothing and often paid months later than it was due. The next question would be – if that was the case, then why I would stay at this job? Why I won’t find another job instead of looking for a second one? Oddly enough, the job in the University was the only one I could consider “a real job,” the others were “ways to make money.”

This presumption goes back to the Soviet Union. At that time you were supposed to have only one job, less some rare exception. Also, since there can’t be unemployment in the socialist state, you should have always been employed. Also, it was extremely undesirable to change jobs; you would always need a solid, respectable reason to leave your job. Our employment history was a physical object. It was called “a Labor Booklet.” When you start a new job, an HR person would ask for your Labor Booklet and would put a record, indicating your place of employment, your position and title, and the date you started. You could not start any new position anywhere without presenting your Labor Booklet, which would have a record of when and for what reason your previous employment was terminated.

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Time Management and What’s Not

Recently I’ve been telling everybody that I am busier than ever. And everybody is asking, why, and what I am doing, and why I can’t delegate stuff to other people.

My friends who followed my previous blog are used to my “timing” posts with a detailed description of my day. It’s time to look at what has changed for the past several months.

Yesterday was a very typical day of mine as they recently are. Got up at my usual 4-45 and went to a gym for a relatively quick (45 min) workout.

Audiobook during a 5 minutes walk to the gym, emails, Instagram and Chicago Tribune on iPad while on elliptical, audiobook on the way back.  

WBEZ morning news on the iPhone while in the shower and putting the makeup on. 

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Let Summer Last!

One of my neighbors, with whom we are mostly on hi-bye terms, addressed me the other day at our parking lot: What a weather! The weather, indeed, is so beautiful, so warm and sunny, and the nights are cool, and humidity is low – I feel like nature is giving back to compensate for the nasty spring we had this year.

And you know what – I am taking it! Taking all of it, not waiting for the “colder days,” not being “tired of the heat.” I didn’t have enough summer, and I will take as much as I will be given!