My New Life

I didn’t blog after returning from NYC, as if nothing was happening. But in reality, I have an amazing time. Every day at work is both learning and sharing my knowledge and finding more ways to collaborate with people and contribute.

People here are incredibly smart. I also worked with smart people in EDB, but the difference is that people are more collaborative, more open, and more diverse in terms of skill sets here. There is a multitude of problems I can work on, so I am never idle.

I like that I am in the office, but at the same time, the flexibility is endless. Some people work from home all the time, some come to the office several times a week, and some are in the office every day. Everybody feels comfortable taking a couple of hours here and there to address personal matters, and the rest of the team works around that.

I also like that life in the city is returning to what it used to be before the pandemic. I didn’t believe it when many people said employees would be back in the office after Labor Day, but it looks like it. I hope that with more traffic in the city, more places will reopen.

I was at the CSO on Tuesday, then on Wednesday, Igor and I went to a sushi place and then to Siskel Center to celebrate his birthday. Today, there was a Fall party at work, which was also fun.
My new company agreed to host Chicago PUG, and the first meetup will happen on October 18. I am happy, nervous, and excited!

The only thing which does not exactly go as planned is that I have absolutely no time to work on my next conference presentations, so I will have to have a working weekend to accomplish his task, or at least to get it closer to accomplishment:)

CSO

I opened the CSO season later than I should have because I was traveling most of September and had to exchange the ticket. But today, I listened to Ricardo Muti and Efim Brofman, which was great.

Overall, today was a day from the past. Finally, I had to admit that it’s not like I was choosing the wrong trains, but Metra indeed became almost as crowded as pre-pandemic, and I am glad that during rush hour, trains depart every fifteen minutes. The streets started to look busy, and the Symphony center was full. And I liked that I could stay in the office until it was time to go to the concert. Strangely, it felt like a moment to relax ๐Ÿ™‚

MoMA

Two meetings I planned for Saturday morning before leaving for Chicago got canceled, but I already knew what I was going to do: The Museum of Modern Art was less than a 20-minute walk from my hotel. The last time I was at MoMA was with Igor’s friends’ family, and it turned out that I completely missed some paintings. I can’t say that we didn’t visit these rooms, because I remembered some paintings very well.

As I often do when I have limited time in a huge museum, I decided not to rush and see just a part of the museum but to pay close attention to each painting. The room with WWI and WWII-inspired art immediately caught my attention. It is possible that I saw these paintings last time as well, but they didn’t feel so timely back then. Unfortunately, I just realized that most of my photos from that room are very blourry, so there s almost nothing to show.

Collective suicide
Beckmann- “Hell”
Beckmann – Family picture
Continue reading “MoMA”

And About The Conference

I was mostly saying that I felt horrible about the war situation, but in spite of that, the conference went really well, and the first day was the most productive for me. I was the room chair for three sessions, and I did well. I talked to a lot of people, old and new acquaintances, reestablished many connections, recruited several speakers for my future User Groups, and asked for expert advice for my work problems.

Now, when I talk to people or listen to presentations, I often feel that I know more than a presenter, and if that is something I don’t know, I know exactly what to ask. it’s something new, and it definitely happened during the last several months. I talked to several of my former co-workers, and some told me: if you ever decide to come back, please come back. That was sad to hear for obvious reasons, but at least people are not mad at me.

The overall organization was great. Also, my conference was officially announced, and I can’t even describe how happy I felt each time “Hettie’s conference” was mentioned.

Since Boris was not there, nobody took pictures of me :(.

Pat Wright
Bruce Momjian
Continue reading “And About The Conference”

Chicago The Musical

Yesterday after the conference, I went with my former French co-worker to see “Chicago” – she wanted to see a “real Broadway musical” and asked me to choose, which I happily did. We also had an amazing deal “two tickets for the price of one.

I was a little worried that it might not turn out as good as it could, remembering my disappointment with “Jesus Christ.” But it was brilliant! Probably the best “Chicago” I ever saw!

I Don’t Know Why

For a while, I was trying to write something which would make sense, but it did not work. Several times, I started writing something like, “I can’t understand why some people think.” But there are too many things that I can’t understand. I am very sorry for all my friends in Russia who lived in an emotional hell for many years but especially for the past seven months. But for those who were saying that “it’s not so straightforward,” or for those who all this time pretended that “life goes as usual,” I do not have any words of sorrow. Why just now? Why all these cries about “not letting them go”?

I am not talking about those who decided “to defend the Motherland.” I still do not understand why these people think that their country is equal to the current government, and there are many other things I do not understand.

It was a very difficult day for me because I lost it at some point and allowed myself to worry about the situation, about how many lives would have to be lost until we see the blue sky again. My presentation went well, but I was hiding for most of the day from other social activities.

I will try to be social for this night, though. Most of my peers do not understand how I feel. And they are under no obligations. I know there are many sorrows in the world.

In NYC

I am in NYC, attending one of the most important conferences of the year. I have a talk, and I am a room host for several sessions. And everything that happens at the war front is a dark background.
I can’t be fully involved in this spectacular professional celebration, and I feel so weird feeling like I am the only person among these 200 people with this dark backgroundโ€ฆ and I still have to do all the conference-related social media.

Flood Damage

The next day after I left for Europe, Chicago was hit by a heavy storm, and four inches of water dropped over the Northern part of the city, including Rogers Park. Both garden units in our building, the storage rooms and the gym, were flooded.
Somehow, I was not included in the original email chain and learned it all postfactum.
The damage is massive, and I have no idea when everything will be repaired:

Crossing The Border

I wrote this post yesterday and forgot to post it. I am not pretending I didn’t suspect what was going to happen, but still, what happened today, didn’t happen yetโ€ฆ.

A very disturbing thing happened when I went through the border control in Helsinki on my way back. First, I was happy to see they now have the same machines as in London, where you can scan your chipped passport. Then I saw that I still had to present the passport to the officer. On my way back, I never ever encountered any questions. This time, the office started to scroll through my passport pages and asked me which countries I had visited and whether I was in Russia. Just to be clear, since I am a naturalized citizen, my country of origin is indicated in my US passport, but still!

The office kept scrolling, found the stamps from 2019, and looked at me inquisitively. I said – I haven’t been there since 2019. He kept scrolling and finally said: good; I see your entrance stamp. Because if you visited Russia at that time, we would have to question you (and he waved in an unspecified direction).

It was very disturbing but understandable. I know I have my share of guilt with everything happening, and it’s in Finland where I feel it even more.

And since I am posting it today, not yesterday, I want to reiterate – we stand with Ukraine! I saw these flags in the Southern part of State Street, quite unexpectedly:

There is propaganda, and then there is this

Today, Russian State Duma changed the penal code to increase penalties for conscripts dodging draft, put in penalties for willingly surrendering to the enemy and reviving Soviet-era penalties against โ€œmaraudingโ€ (while also adding what would count as extenuating circumstances, which includes participating in the armed conflicts). And there are also supposed to be referenda on joining the Russian Federation in separatist-controlled parts of Donesk and Luhansk oblasti (the self-proclaimed Peopleโ€™s Republics), as well as the Ukrainian territories Russia occupied since the start of the war. The logic seems to be that, if Ukraine continues its advance, they would be attacking Russian territories, which would justify putting the country on war footing and partial mobilization. (As many people, including some pro-war commentators, have pointed out, the Russian Federation simply doesnโ€™t have the infrastructure and the personal for the full-scale, World War II style national mobilization โ€“ then again, I canโ€™t entirely rule out the Russian government trying it anyway).

The whole thing is flimsy as hell โ€“ but again, so is a lot of the spin coming out of Russian state media.

Continue reading “There is propaganda, and then there is this”