It Can’t Continue That Way

Boris went to Saint-Petersburg again. The main (and almost the only) reason for this trip was the dissertation defense of his post-grad. This student is going to emigrate from Russia, so it was vital to have all the paperwork (he won’t be able to receive his diploma for several months, but at least Bors did whatever he could).

Boris was surprised to find out that it was very difficult to get the tickets on the bus. Remember that his bus is now almost the sole mean of communication between Russia and the rest of the world. We still could not figure out, however, why all of a sudden the demand had grown so much.

Today, when Boris returned back to Helsinki, the first thing he told me was, “now, I know why there are no tickets available.” Most of the seats on the bus were occupied by families clearly heading to their vacation destinations, with huge luggage, wearing sunhats and shorts. After he complained about mothers screaming at their children, I asked: ok, what’s your problem with this? Screaming Russian mothers are, unfortunately, a very familiar site. He said: It’s not right! It’s not right that they continue to live like nothing is happening!

I could not agree more. That’s why I support Zelinsky’s call to Western governments to completely ban Russian tourists. And I do not want to hear anything about “those who are innocent.” Not everybody can take out to the streets. Not everybody can take a risk of arrest, and not everybody can accept the possibility of being fired. But there is one thing that an honest person can do: not allow themself to live life as if nothing happens.

I saw this video on my friend’s blog, a horrific video showcasing the worst cases of ignorance. I can’t comprehend it: I feel my guilt all the time, even though I never voted for Putin. How come people in this video do not?!

Model T Ride

The only thing which was not perfect with this trip was the weather: it was bare 70F, and it rained on Saturday evening, but honestly, the weather did not stop us from having fun.

We spent the whole Sunday in the Henry Ford village and museum; we arrived 15 minutes after it was open and left 15 minutes before it closed. We hardly saw a half of everything, and my brain was exploding with all the new information! I won’t have time to blog about everything, so there will probably be bits and pieces, not necessarily in order of importance.

Speaking about Henry Ford and Model T, you can’t stop feeling the mixture of amazement with the greatest human mind achievements and, at the same time, the realization of all nowadays environmental problems starting back then.

That’s where it all began!
Waiting in line for Model T rides
Continue reading “Model T Ride”


This weekend, I am visiting my friend Lena in Ann Arbor. This time, however, it’s not just an Ann Arbor visit. Today, we spent the whole day in Detroit. It was my first ever visit to this city with a rich history and multiple ups and downs. We started the day by visiting Detroit Art Institute.

Rivera Court

Then we had lunch in a hidden in a basement cafe with incredible food for half of Chicago’s prices.

Continue reading “Detroit”

Not In My Backyard!

For two months, there was a discussion in our community about opening a men’s homeless shelter. The building in which the shelter would be open is located exactly where there is the most need in the shelter. However, many people were opposed. In fact, I learned about this discussion from a letter from one of my neighbors who asked everybody to go online and vote against the shelter.
Granted, I clicked on the link to the Google form and voter in favor. However, I was still very upset that regardless of socioeconomic background, income or education, the argument stays the same: anywhere but not in our backyard!
I read several discussions on NextDoor and attended one more virtual meeting, and time and time again, the “nay” people were the loudest, and their arguments were the same old “property value” and “we already have enough services.”

And then, in her last newsletter, our alderwoman said that the majority voted in favor of the shelter.

Although I am happy with this outcome, it makes me wonder whether people avoided publically expressing their “in favor,” or those who were against it were louder, not more numerous.

The South Side

“Do you like the Soth Side?” a young woman in the youth shelter asked me. We talked about her home; she said she is from St. Louis and wants to return there. “What about Chicago?” I asked her. 

– Chicago is my second best. The South Side

-Which places do you like on the South Side?

-It’s not places; I like being there. I like how I feel. It gives me good vibes. People are friendly, and I feel good when I walk there and people say Hi. 

-I like how you said it! It’s very important to feel good vibes!

And then she asked: Do you like South Side? 

She asked with hope in her voice, and I avoided the answer. 

I do not know it enough, although Igor took me to tour the South Side landmarks on multiple occasions. It is a foreign land for me; even though people are indeed nice and friendly, I do not belong there. And this young woman is blissfully ignorant of that. 

I don’t know what to make out of that except for acknowledging the fact..

Approaching The End Of Summer

The days are busy but in a good way. I liked a lot how productively we spent time with Boris, especially the last three days when he was here when we went kayaking, to a concert, and to the Art Institute, and found a new gelato place, and did the bike shopping, and went for a long bike ride just before it started raining.

And now, when he left, I am still doing something interesting every day, and my work days are full. Even though I know that I am missing a lot of summer events, I do not feel like I am “missing out.” I feel like I am living this summer to the fullest.

Today I managed to go on an hour-long bike ride in the morning, even though the sun was rising later these days, and then worked with my current customer with no unproductive interruptions and went to the beach for my lunch break. And after work, I had a friend over – we didn’t see each other in person since before the pandemic.

I have something planned for almost every day until the end of the month, and it feels very good 🙂

In Search Of A Bike

After looking for my potential new bike online, Boris insisted we should go just to any shop to touch and feel and see how I would like it. First, we went to one of the Evanstone’s shops which had very good reviews on the internet, and after that, we went to the shop where I usually have my bikes checked and tuned. We didn’t go there in the first place because I knew they have a very small inventory, and even if I ordered from them, I wanted to see some bikes in the flesh.
That was a very interesting experience :). The prices and the way the service went were so different and so much geared to the respective demographics of Evanston and Rogers Park that it was not even funny. And especially interesting was the conversation with the owner of the Rogers Park shot: he talked at length about the current inventory problems, shipments from China, and unpredictable demand. At some point, he mentioned a bike shop “somewhere in Libertivill” and how they “could sell twenty $1,500 e-bikes, because they have people who make 150K over there, and I can sell maybe one because where here I can find families who make 150K?!” We kept nodding 🙂

In the end, we figured out which model and size I needed, and now we will be waiting for a shipment, which may be a month, maybe three…

Gelato For Lunch :)

On Saturday, we went to the Art Institute (because I wanted to give Boris a chance to see Cezanne properly, not chasing our granddaughters). We went early in the morning for Members’ hours, which allowed us to reduce the time spent outside in extreme heat. We agreed that we would check the same lunch place we tried to go to a week earlier, and if it won’t crowded, we would have lunch there. However, we stopped at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Monroe – the gelato place which was advertised a while ago had finally opened!

Immediately, I screamed that we were going to repeat our Genoa experience and have gelato instead of lunch – and we did!

Note this “Signature” creation- that’s what each of us got!
You can have a different flavor for each petal!
… and a macaron on top!

And they are open every day from 11 to 11! That means you can have gelato after any concert!!! I am loving it!

Friday Off

I had to work for the past two “Wellness Fridays” for half-day, and today, I took a Friday off to compensate for these two halves. It was the only day off I took during Boris’ visit, and we had plans.

The first and the most important thing we did – we went kayaking! There are many kayaking opportunities in Chicago, and I knew that Boris wanted to try it. However, I was more than scared to try, and the reason I finally gave in was the offer from the Shedd Aquarium: they run “Kayaking for conservation” tours, where they show the conservation and restoration efforts on the Chicago RIver. I chose a tour “for people with no experience” and signed us up.

Boris really enjoyed it. As for me, I am happy that I overcame my fears, although it was not easy. Perhaps if I would practice more, I would start to enjoy it. Today it was mostly “I made it!”

Continue reading “Friday Off”