Was It The Last Beach Day?

I think that Sunday was most likely the last beach day of this year, although nobody can tell for sure. And the Lake gave me two wonderful gifts: I had a chance to observe a sunrise from the very first second, and I had a chance to soak myself in the lake in the afternoon. I think that the last time I swam outdoors in September was in 1968, being on vacation near Sochi.

Several days ago, I saw a post on NextDoor: How Fortunate are we to live in Rogers Park! We are, indeed, and “the Lakefront is out backyard”

Mom Went To Saint Petersburg

Mom went to Saint-Petersburg. Her flight was on Thursday evening. I did not want her to go, but there were some things which she had to do in person, and I found too late that there were ways to avoid the trip. I think that I won’t be able to stop her in any case, and if she decided she needed to go, she would still insist on going there.

I already told all my friends why I worried so much about this trip. In Russia, the vaccination rate is very low (twenty-something percent), and we do not know how many vaccinations are fake. The transmission rate is high; people do not wear masks unless they are forced to do so. For example, they would put the mask on when they enter the subway but take it off immediately after they are in. Or they would be without a mask in the store and pull it on during checkout.

Mom does not wear a mask properly. When I am together with her, I fix it all the time. It is not so important here: she is vaccinated; our vaccination rate is close to 70%; the transmission rate is less than one, and the overwhelming majority of people wear masks and wear them properly. If she goes to Morse Market, I am not overly concerned with her not wearing the mask properly, but it is a different story in Russia.

In addition, there is a lot of paperwork associated with the trips to and from Russia these days. I had to sign her up for two COVID tests, on entrance and on exist, register her at the government website to fill in the form for returning citizens, and fill in several other paper forms, some in Russian, some in English.
I requested a wheelchair for her for the whole trip, but I only managed to get her in it in O’Hare. As she reported, she “didn’t find” it in Helsinki. Having that they wait right on exit from the plane, I agree with Boris that you have to try very hard not to find them… but what can I do?

My friend met her at the airport in Saint -Petersburg, and they went home. For three weeks prior to the trip, I tried to explain to mom that it is dangerous to take public transportation in Saint-Petersburg and that I wanted her to take a cab all the time. Boris gave us a number of a very reliable cab company and asked her to use their services. She resisted for a very long time. I asked my friends in Saint-Petersburg to make sure that she called the cab (she has been doing it for a day and a half now :))

When they came home, they found out that the heating in her apartment was still not turned on. Also, one of the water pipes was leaking (the plumber will only come on Monday), and she could not turn on her electric stove.

And she refused to stay with my friend for the next couple of days… Also, although she is supposed to wait for the test result in Saint -Petersburg, she is going everywhere because nobody is checking.
I want these two weeks to be over (and actually, there are only twelve days left)

Lyric Opera Opens It’s Season: Verdi’s Macbeth

Almost all of my subscriptions start in September, and now I have a hard time fitting everything in :). When I subscribed, I hoped that at least something would work and wouldn’t get canceled, and now nothing is canceled, everything is happening, and it is so great and wonderful, but there are not enough hours in a day, and not enough days in life :). 

When I chose to attend Macbeth in the Lyric Opera on September 17, I did not realize that it would be both the opening night for this opera and the first live performance after 19 months. And let me tell you, it was something!!!

I tried to dress nicely, but most patrons have dressed ten levels of elegancy above me! I really enjoyed looking at all these ball gowns, opened backs, laces, etc., men in tuxedos and bow ties. 

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Is It Worth To Have Live Meetups?

It was hard, but it was really great to have a live event

The World of Data

Yesterday, we had the first hybrid meetup, the first not-completely-virtual event since February 2020. It was an experiment, and I had a lot of fears about how it will go. In the end, there were only two people in the room for the “live” part. I suspected it could be the case because in addition to the pandemic, we are now in a new building with tighter security, and people had to comply with lots of new rules. At some point, I thought – is there any good reason to try so hard to make it hybrid? Now I can tell that it really felt differently.

I am not sure why but being in the office while streaming made it feel like everybody was right there. Most speakers complain that it is difficult to get the audience’s feedback when on zoom and that you feel like talking into the dark…

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Let Summer Run Forever!

To be honest, I do not want summer to run forever. I do not want to live in Florida or California. But I love that summer lasts through the whole month of September!

This week, I finally gave away my early morning biking, but I have been devouring these last biking mornings for the past two weeks. I had an amazing long ride on Labor Day, and I finished my early mornings seasons last Sunday, watching the sunset on my way back.

I’d just say – living by the lake in September is priceless 🙂

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My 9/11

I was a consultant, and in September 2001, I was assigned to a project in the Daley Center. One of my fellow consultants, Chuck, used to come very early and leave early. On September 11, when I walked in and sat at my desk, he turned to me and pointed to his screen: look, a plane crashed into a building!

From the picture, it was impossible to figure out the size of the airplane and the size of the building, and also, there was zero smoke. So I reacted like weird … I wonder why… and turned my computer on. At 9-15 AM, Cindy, a City employee who was our main point of contact, rushed into the room we sat. Her face was grey. She said: we want you guys to be out of the building immediately! We looked at her: what about our billable hours?! She said: we want you out! We do not know what it going to happen!

We all were commuting, and we looked at our watches and shrugged: we just missed the last morning train back; there will be no trains for another hour and a half. Nevertheless, we walked back to the station. The whole city was moving in the same direction, but we were still far from grasping the magnitude of events. Only when we came to the station, we realize how problematic our departure was going to be. 

People were standing on all platforms. One of the newsrooms in the station had a giant screen on the wall; they were broadcasting one of the news programs. There, around 10-30 AM Chicago time, we saw the second tower collapsed. Everybody gasped; many started crying.

The trains started to arrive at the platforms. Later, one of the conductors told me that they all headed home after the last morning train pulled up to the city, but their management called them back, and they showed up again. There was no schedule. A train would pull in; people would get on board, and when the train was full, it would head out, and the next train would pull into the station. 

Inside the train, people were standing, but nobody tried to squeeze in; there was no panic. I walked into the full train and leaned on the wall. The train started moving shortly after that. It stopped at each station, but most passengers were going to the suburbs. At one of the stations, a person asked from the platform: what’s going on? Aren’t there any trains to Chicago? You do not want to go to Chicago now! – somebody shouted. 

The was one man with a prosthetic leg; I saw him in Palatine most of the mornings. He was telling something and pointing at me; I could not figure out what it was. I thought he was asking me to move and let him through to look for a seat, but he waved me off: no, I was just telling him to move! I told him I couldn’t see a pretty woman! I still think about this dialog as the best compliment I ever received :).

Somebody in our car had a transistor radio, and we listened to the news and learned about another plain – the one who didn’t reach the Pentagon. Nobody knew how many plains could still be in the air, and what could be other targets. We worked on the 27 floor of the Daley Center; that’s why we were ordered to go home.

I managed to call Boris. It was not easy back then; I had to key in a long sequence on my cell phone to connect to a discounted service. 

In the evening, our director called all consultants and told us to stay home. He told us we would be paid for that day. The kids had school. I stayed at home, lying on the couch in front of the TV and crying. I could not bring myself to doing anything productive. I was staring at the debris, listening to the commentators, and lying there paralyzed with greave. For many days after, the most distinct feeling was this absence of joy in life. You tried so hard to be cheerful, go shopping, get ready for Halloween – and you could not. That part of your existence was missing.

Chicago Sep 11 2021 at the Daley Plaza
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Music Of The Baroque Concert

Among of gazillion subscriptions I purchased for the upcoming season was Music of the Baroque 50th season. I was a subscriber many years ago, but then I dropped this subscription because it felt like “too much” – I didn’t enjoy the concerts when I knew I had to come home very late several times a week.

This season, I am so hungry for music that I even asked Boris to stop me from purchasing too much:). I ended up purchasing four concerts. I also marked the calendar for a free concert in Millennium Park. 

Two weeks ago, I received an email from Music of Baroque, which said that since I am a subscriber, I can get VIP seating for this concert for free. Of course, I RSVPed yes!

The concert was yesterday, and since the weather was perfect, I took mom to the concert. At some point, I was slightly hesitant to go because I had so many things to do for work and the Postgres community at large, and I am so glad I went! 

I never sat on these VIP seats so close to the stage – and that’s an extraordinary experience. Dame Jane Glover was even more enthusiastic than ever to be reunited with her orchestra! In the course of about 75 minutes, Dame Jane gave a preview of the whole season, featuring Hendel, Bach, Mozart, and Purcell, including excerpts of classics, like Music for the Royals Fireworks and a brand new commission dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the orchestra –  Spectacle of Light by Chicago-based composer Stacy Garrop. A young cellist Ifetayo Ali-Landing was amazing! 

I was waling out of the concert thinking: why there were times when I thought that I do not really need this subscription?! Why I thought it being “too much of the same stuff” and sometime boring?!

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Let’s Talk About Performance Calibration

Sharing from my professional blog

The World of Data

Do you know what does performance calibration means? If you are reading this blog post on professional social media, the chance is you know! And if you are not sure about what a performance calibration is, you know what an end-of-year review means.

I can’t imagine anybody could like these end-of-year reviews, and the only reason we put up with them is that we hope that our achievements will be noticed. That means we need to have some objective criteria to compare marketing specialists to accountants.

Although everybody hates writing self-evaluation, it is a necessary evil: there have to be some ways to quantify the quality of each person’s work. And when some objective criteria are in place, a person with ambition would strive to check all boxed and match all requirements for a promotion. But that’s where calibration kicks in. Apparently, it is impossible to have too many employees…

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A Visit To Pullman

For many years, Igor and I visited Pullman on one of the Labor Day weekend days – they always had something interesting going on. Last year, there was nothing because of COVID, but that year, it was going to be a big celebration: Pullman officially became a Nationa Monument.

We decided to go on Saturday because according to the museum website, the actual ribbon cutting was supposed to be on that day. Also, they were going to give away free tickets to tour a factory and Florence Hotel, and also there were going to be old Pullman cars tours.
It turned out that the ribbon cutting was scheduled for Monday, and as for the tickets, people stood in lines from 7-30 AM to get them!

We didn’t get any – they were all gone five minutes after we arrived. However, one lady happened to have one extra ticket for the cars tour, and I gave it to Igor.

Still, we managed to see a lot on the museum grounds, and we were shocked by the amount of restoration work that was done on the site!

Restored Main Gate
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