Gediminas Upper Castle

On our first day in Vilnius, we visited the Gediminas Castle Tower. Gediminas was a Great Duke of Lithuania who founded this political entity and wastly expanded its territory, founded Vilnius, and established strong relationships with many European monarchs. The Gediminas Tower is probably the best city viewpoint and a part of the Vilnius National Museum.

From the moment we landed at vilnius Airport, we realized who personally Lithuania takes the war in Ukraine. We hardly saw a Lithuanina flag without Ukrainian flag by it’s side, and lots of Ukrainian flags solo. There are lots of Ukrainian refugees in the city, I mention it know because there was a large group in the Gediminas Tower when we visited. As everywhere, they are mostly women with children. When we bought the tickets to the museum, we could choose a visitor sticker either of Lithuania red color, or yellow and blue.

Interestingly, the current exhibit in the Gediminas Toweris very timely – it is dedicated to the Baltic Way – see the photos below.

On the left side, the part of the castle is being reconstructed
The view from the top of the hill
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I am in Vilnius first time after 33 years. I visited it several times before when I was still in school (the Baltic countries were “affordable West”), and 33 years ago, it was our first romantic getaway with Boris. After that, he visited Vilnius several times for many conferences, but not me.

I was looking forward to DevDays Europe in Vilnius, but then as I mentioned, they moved online.
I could cancel the hotel, but as for the plane tickets, I could only move them to a different date. I thought: we talked about going to Vilnius before, so why not now?

I moved a hotel reservation to the end of the week, cut one day off our stay, and moved the plane tickets, so here we are now! The hotel location is perfect; the room is super cozy, the weather is sunny, and the food is great and half-price of what you have in Finland.

The Lithuanian cuisine highlight – the zeppelin
Fied (“second-day”) zeppelin
Lithuanian kvass – to die for!!!


Because of my volunteering with homeless individuals, I immediately notice whether the situation there is better or worse than in Chicago each time I visit other cities. And if it is better, I wonder what these cities are doing better and what we could do in Chicago.

I think about this each time I visit Helsinki, but it was even more pronounced this time. I went to clinic escort on Saturday morning, and I had to go to the earliest shift because I was leaving the same day. It was the first time I ever ook the Red Line as early as 5-15 AM, and the first two cars were pretty much “sleeping cars” – I didn’t even try to get in and move to the third car right away. The next day, I read a letter of complaint from some North Side residents about the homeless encampment and how “they have too many defendants, like the Night Ministry…”

I understand people’s frustration, but I also know that, unfortunately, we do not have any solution in Chicago. It’s great, that the homeless problem in Helsinki is almost non-existent, and I wonder whether we will ever be close to that…

Sinebrychoff Art Museum

On Tuesday, I met with my friend Natasha, and she took me to the Sinebrychoff’s Art Museum.

As the museum site states, the private art collection gathered by Fanny and Paul Sinebyshoff was bequeathed to the Finnish state in 1921. All I can say is that the collection is really impressive; many of the items are real masterpieces. There are some Early Renaissance and Medieval Italian paintings, Dutch and Flemish art, Russian Icons as old as the 14th century, and many other art pieces. I wish there would be more information available in English and more information in general. Many artworks do not have an artist’s name, the origin, or both, or do not have the art school specified. For example, a 15th-century Russian icon can come from different parts of Russia, or an “anonymous artist” of the 18th century could come from different countries, and I would love to know about that :).

Here are some pictures I took in the museum:

We were wondering what this is and what it could be used for. Does anybody know?
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Impostors And How to Identify Them

The World of Data

Today, I want to talk about impostors. No, not about impostor syndrome, but impostors. Nowadays, you hear about “impostor syndrome” more often, and even when you start to google “impostor,” the “impostor syndrome” comes first. It looks like a more common situation when somebody feels like an impostor when they are actually not. You often come across a story where a female professional feels that she “does not deserve” a specific position, and others are trying to convince her that she does.

However, we rarely see stories about actual impostors in IT, although I know several people and organizations that fell victim to impostors. The damage ranges from poor people management to data loss to material financial losses. Organizations rarely admit that they made a mistake in hiring an impostor. I recall a situation when a person from the Technical Leadership teamaskedan impostor to find another job. He…

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Each time I bike in Helsinki, I marvel at how awesome the bike paths are! I can’t even compare it with Chicago! Pretty much anywhere in the city, the bike lanes are clearly marked, and it is completely safe to bike. And there are so many different routes! In Chicago, if I decide to go biking after work, I have to navigate heavy traffic even if I follow the bike routes, and it might take me up to 30 minutes to reach the Lake Front Trail. Here in Helsinki, I can bike anywhere at any time of the day!

Spring in Helsinki

Who was lamenting that travel will never be the same?! It is “the same,” and I do not like it :). Half of O’Hare is maskless; the security lines are gigantic, the planes are full – I forgot how to sit that close to others! At the same time, there is still no choice of food unless you pre-ordered.

However, the spring in Helsinki is beautiful! The non-stop flight arrives early, and during my first day here, I got all my favorite things: the salmon soup, blueberry pie, ice cream on the seashore, and a ninety-minute bike ride with crazy up and downhill all the way!

Love To Ukraine – an Art Exhibit

Our local Greenview Art Gallery opened a benefit exhibit featuring the works of Ukrainian artist Anatoliy Khmara with all proceeds going to support Ukraine. Khmara came to the US on a special visa for persons with Exceptional Abilities over 20 years ago. Many of his relatives are still in Ukraine, and the exhibit opens with their portraits.

He paints magical landscapes and blooming flowers, but I was immediately drawn to his Chicago pictures. The picture of Montrose Harbor made in the most unusual colors caught my attention.

It did not fit either in my budget, or on my wall, but I could not take my eyes off it. When Khmara asked me which picture I liked, I pointed to this picture but added that I can’t afford it either way. He said that he should have smaller prints of it, but Igor and I told him we had already gone through the bin and didn’t find any. Then he asked one of the staff to check in the back because he remembered he had a smaller print. She fetched one but said it was marked as sold. But, she added, we can other another one. Khmara said – why, we can give her that one, and order an additional print for that other customer :). I could not say “no.”

My “war budget” for April was long gone, but the staff offered to pay in installments, which I gladly accepted.

This is the actual painting
And that’s the print I got

Harold Washington Library

Yesterday, the HWL hosted a meeting of the Society of Midwest Authors meeting – the first one in-person since the pandemic’s start. The UIC professor Dick Simpson discussed his new book, “Democracy’s Rebirth” with Mayor Lori (who wrote a preface for that book).

The worst thing about this event was that it went completely not advertised! One lady in the audience asked me how I learned about this event, and I replied that I was looking for something else on the library website. If I won’t looking to reserve a group room, I would never see it! The library announced that the number of participants would be limited to 300, but I do not think there were 300 people there. Those who came wondered how others would miss an opportunity to see the Mayor right in front of them on the stage :).

The conversations around me in the auditorium were even more interesting than on stage. Several people had some organizing/political background, and they exchanged their life stories. One gentleman said that after he retired, he took a crash course to become an ESL teacher and how he wanted to go to Sait-Petersburg and how now he is glad he didn’t go “because he won’t want to aid Mr. Putin.”

There is a special exhibit on the 9th floor to mark the centennial of Harold Washington. For some reason, they don’t allow any photography there, so there is nothing to report.

And I also checked out the Winter Garden – it’s gorgeous, and maybe next time, I will get a chance to grab a table there 🙂

The Four Winds: a Book Review

Such a great book! I do not remember who recommended it to me, and I do not know why I was putting away reading it for so long! I purchased it on Audible a while ago and almost returned it without reading it because other books were in line… I am so glad I didn’t return it!

I knew very little about that period of American history. I knew times were bad, but I could not imagine to what extent! The eco-catastrophe described in the book looks almost not real and, at the same time, too close to nowadays climate change warnings. How people could forget that such horrible things already happened not so long ago.
Another thing that struck me is the description of poverty and how many people showed no compassion. Knowing how deceiving the Soviet propaganda used to be, you tend to think that everything they said back in the days was not true. And then you feel shocked realizing that indeed, people were exploited, and indeed, capitalists were afraid of the unions, and indeed, communists risked their lives, and they, indeed, did some good things!

One of these books, when you are sad you’ve finished it already :).