Glendalough National Park

On Saturday, my friends took me to two places outside Dublin. The first place we visited was Glendalough National Park. First of all, it’s an exceptionally beautiful park, the nature is amazing, there are hills, lakes, waterfalls, and old trees. Most important, however, is that it is the oldest monastic site, founded in the 6th century!

The trees covered with moss
Continue reading “Glendalough National Park”

What’s Going On In Chicago

That was the counter-protest I blogged about last week.

Unfortunately, this website is not showing in the EU, so I had to go to the VPN to see it. For those who are in the US, here is a link:

And copying the whole thing here so that my friends outside the US could see it as well.

Anti-war coalition rallies 20 years after Iraq invasion: ‘Fund the people’s needs, not the war machine’

ANSWER Coalition

An anti-war coalition rallies outside of the Wrigley Building in downtown Chicago. The group said the United States should be trying to lead peace negotiations between Ukraine and Russia — not sending military aid to Ukraine. Photo credit Brandon Ison

 By Brandon Ison

WBBM Newsradio 780 AM & 105.9 FM

2 hours ago

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) — With temperatures in the teens and an added chill from the breeze, dozens of people from several local anti-war groups gathered in front of the Wrigley Building Saturday.

“They say, ‘More war;’ we say, ‘No war,’” protesters chanted.

The Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER) Coalition was formed in the days after the 9/11 attacks and initiated an anti-war movement in the months leading up to March 18, 2003. Twenty years later, Emil Mitchell was among the speakers representing the ANSWER Coalition in Chicago.

“There’s a war machine out there, and we all know it’s funded with trillions of dollars, but here at the ANSWER Coalition, all of our groups, we are building a peace machine that will end war for good,” he said. “It will take all of us.”

The rally was one of several nationwide demonstrations marking the 20th anniversary of the Iraq War invasion.

Mitchell said the U.S. government claims there’s not enough money for schools, healthcare, housing, wages, or climate change.

Anti-war protesters

“They say, ‘More war;’ we say, ‘No war,’” protesters chanted outside of the Wrigley Building on Saturday. Photo credit Brandon Ison

“Yet they find almost $1 trillion for war every war,” he said. “That’s why we demand that they must fund the people’s needs — not the war machine.”

To Mitchell, and others at the anti-war demonstration, this would include a stop to military aid in Ukraine. A counterpoint on Saturday came from someone who may seem like an unlikely source: Anastasia Voronova, a Russian who came to the United States four years ago to study.

Voronova told WBBM that it’s not safe for her to return to Russia with her firm held belief in support of Ukraine’s sovereignty. She was part of a two-person counterprotest to the anti-war rally, Russian-born Igor Studenkov joining her. He said the situation in Ukraine would be much worse without global support.

Pro-Ukrainian protesters

Igor Studenkov (L) and Anastasia Voronova showed up to counterprotest Saturday’s anti-war rally. Studenkov said lasting peace in Ukraine will be impossible without Russian troops leaving the country, detained Ukrainians being freed and a trial for those accused of war crimes. Photo credit Brandon Ison

“Ukraine is being invaded, and it needs help,” he said. “The sooner they can get help, the sooner this war can be over, the sooner Ukrainian cities can stop being bombed, and the sooner — hopefully — that all the people who had to flee will be able to go home.”

Studenkov said Mitchell’s groups should direct their anger at Russian president Vladimir Putin, and he added that Ukraine should receive all the help it can get.

“We believe that any lasting peace in Ukraine is impossible without Russian troops getting out of Ukraine, without all of the detained Ukrainian civilians being freed, without all the people accused of war crimes being tried before an international tribunal,” Studenkov said.

Other Pictures From Saint Patrick’s Day Parade In Dublin

I made tons of very short videos to capture the dynamics of the parade, and the easiest way to show them here is by embedding the Instagram posts. Take a look, and scroll through them – there are several videos in each!

Saint Patrick’s Day Parade In Dublin

It is very different from what we have in Chicago, and I am so glad I was here today! What an amazing experience!

Everybody asked me whether it was different from the Chicago Saint Patrick’s Day parade – and it was. It was a little bit shorter (two hours at any point of the parade route) and way less loud. The streets were not as crowded as in Chicago. There were fewer bagpipe bands and fewer Celtic dances, no politicians, no elected officials, and no political parties. Noboby was giving away goodies. There were many American marching bands – go figure! And there were a lot of beautiful floaters!

It will take me some time to post even a small fraction of pictures, just a few today!

Continue reading “Saint Patrick’s Day Parade In Dublin”

First Day In Dublin

It’s great to see old friends after many years! It’s great to get to know a new country you never visited before.

All great. We took a long walk to the Lighthouse, visited the national Irish Gallery, when to Trinity College and saw the Book of Kells…

And St Patrick Day is tomorrow – I can’t wait!

Visiting Our London Office

I had a connection in London on my way to Dublin, and when I was planning my trip, I decided to make it a day in the office. I exchanged my tickets so that I arrive in London at 9-10 and leave at 8-50 PM.

It would be all good if not for the tube strike right on that day! But it was too late to make any changes! And in any case, I do not regret making this stop, although it entailed two two-and-a-half-hour rides from/to Heathrow. I spent about five hours in the office, met a lot of people with whom I work closely together, answered their questions, and solved half of the world ‘s problems! I loved the London office:

The office is smaller, so they do not cater, and everybody places their food orders, and then orders are delivered by noon. Since I was not there in the morning, I had to look for the sandwich supplies in the fridge. Overall, it was a little bit hungry day: I ate breakfast in the Finnair lounge at 6-30 Helsinki time, and next time I had some food at noon of London time! And then – at 7-30 PM in Heathrow!

And About “That” Oscar

Regarding the “Navalny” documentary receiving Oscar – I want to scream! I don’t understand how people can’t understand! And I do not know what to say.

Now, when I am in Europe again, when I hear and feel the worries of the residents of Finland, and when I worry about the situation at the front (and my only hope is that there is something we do not know going on and that something is better than what we see), I understand it even less.

I said it multiple times, and I can repeat it again: knowing enough about Putin, I do not like this Navalny situation at all. Through the years, I learned that the only opposition we see is the opposition Putin allows to be seen. And based on that observation, I do not like this whole Navalny case. I might be paranoid or whatever you say, but I strongly feel that Navalny is a “backup plan.” Even if it is not, having Navalny won’t be any better than having Putin, and one more time, I don’t understand why people don’t understand…

Also, having all this stupid “calls for peace,” and calls for “stop funding the war,” I feel even worse about it.

Helsinki – Love, Always

… even when it’s raining all day, mixed with wet snow, I still love it! Especially since, if you know how, you can walk underground almost from anywhere to anywhere in the city center. And if not underground, there are roofs over the courtyards!

I met with my friend Natasha in the Oodi library, and we caught up on all the news in our lives and in the world in general, and then Boris joined us, and we had lunch on the first floor of the library. Then Boris and I did some shopping, and we returned home. I resumed doing some work (I do not count myself on vacation until Thursday), but after a little bit, Boris asked me what my plans were. It took me a while to get from him what he meant, but as it turned out, he was wondering whether we were going to celebrate Pie Day 😀. How could I say “no”?!

Traveling As Finnair Gold

My two weeks of travel had begun. There are no direct flights to from Chicago to Helsinki this time of the year, so I had a connection in London. It was the first time I used a Oneworld lounge in O’Hare, and it was a great decision because I could have a way better dinner than on the plane. Also, I could go to sleep immediately after the boarding was complete and have close to normal sleep time. No need to wake up for food :).

Same with breakfast – they gave us just a half-cup of yogurt on the plane, but I went to the Oneworld lounge in Heathrow and had an English breakfast there.

I loved that they had small teapots with a cup and a milk pitcher (same as when you have plates and cups at the buffet). You can take one, choose your tea bag(s) and pore whatever milk you prefer, and then take this set back to where you sit.

After I arrived in Helsinki, I tried to put a contact lens in my right eye for the first time since this weird thing happened, and it felt OK. Today, I wore both lenses for about six hours, and it was all good, but I am not sure for how long I will wear them tomorrow. Tomorrow will be a very long day!