Getting Back To Normal

It’s ten days after the conference is over, and I finally started to get used to the situation when I do not need to run around and worry about twenty things. I think I still didn’t explain why it was “many.” First, I was a part of the Program Committee, with many responsibilities, including organizing the pre-party and managing volunteers. Second, I talked my company into Platinum sponsorship and was anxiously waiting for all legal details to be settled, nudging people who were not fast enough. Third, I was a community sponsor as a local organizer of the Chicago PostgreSQL User Group and had to design and order stickers and flyers. And most importantly, I was advertising the event, especially among local users, women, and students. There were some last-minute vouchers from the sponsors, and I tried to place them.

After all of the above was over, it took me a while to calm down, but finally, it was there. Although I have a lot of other things going on (it’s never just my work, always ten other activities), I am in a happy and worry-free state of mind.

Here is what I have lined up for May and June/

Work: Four projects which were “coming” for a while, and now I need to work on all four of them at the same time. I love them all, and I want to do them all, but I am hitting the limits of how one can stretch the time.

Health I finally started to meet with a therapist about how I should efficiently communicate with mom and, most importantly, what communication style would help her. Boris told me that I am getting visibly upset and frustrated when she says something that indicates that she does not remember things. I talked about this with my physician, and she recommended doing therapy for myself to help mom. Works for me 🙂

Mom. Finally started physical therapy for her. It was quite a project with lots of hours on the phone, but finally, she finally sees the same PT specialist as me. Although this office is close to both our homes, she still can’t go there by herself, so every week, it’s two hours of my life during work hours. Second, I went through the quest of setting up her online SSN portal, and next week, we will have a phone interview to apply for SSI for her. And yes, it’s again a lot of hours on the phone during work hours, and she has to be present, so I need to go to her place, which results in even more hours. And finally, her citizenship interview is on May 23. I sent a request on her behalf to make adjustments for her hearing loss, and we got a response that she could have somebody with her, and they would let her use a sound amplifier and many other accommodations. She is scared about each official paper that comes to her mailbox, and calls me…

My other professional activities. I signed a contract for the second edition of our optimization book, and the schedule is very aggressive. I agreed to run 8-hour optimization class for one of the local companies migrating from Oracle. Several smaller consulting requests. I plan to submit several proposals for PG Conf NYC and PG Conf EU. At list three blog posts and one article are overdue.

Volunteering I already described the situation in the youth shelter. I am often unable to do escorting, and I feel horrible about that. It might sound crazy, but I am thinking about returning to OMD.

Fun stuff. Vlad’s wedding is less than four weeks away! I am organizing a friends and family lunch the day before. And Anna’s family trip to Finland is coming in June!

More fun stuff – spring in Chicago!

Art Institute Garden
Chicago tulips
The Bean

The Complete History Of PG Day Chicago

The World of Data

I felt compelled to write a blog explaining why I am so excited for PG Day Chicago finally being a reality, not just my dream. Many people heard at least some parts of this story, but it’s the first time I am presenting the whole timeline.

I started working with PostgreSQL in July 2011, and shortly after, I attended the first Postgres conference, PG Open, which was back then happening in Chicago and was a three-day event with huge attendance! Before that, I only attended academic conferences, and that one looked very different. Needless to say, in addition to it’s novelty, I felt completely stupid because I barely understood what it was all about. I had enough courage to ask somebody (maybe even Magnus) whether they plan to have subtransactions inside functions :)).

I attended the next PG Open, and I also went to Ottwaw for PG Conf, and gradually…

View original post 1,006 more words

PG Day Chicago

I did it, and I did it! And it took me several days to realize that everything went well (mostly :)) and there is nothing to worry about and to lose sleep at night anymore!

My personal fitness stats: 19,000 steps on the day of the conference (that’s I never left the building between 7 AM and 8 PM!), and minus three pounds in three days (I absolutely did not need it). I do not know how I managed not to get sick the week of the conference – the weather was more than unpredictable, I didn’t sleep enough and worried about all sorts of things, and I almost lost my voice at the speaker’s dinner, but somehow managed to stay alive and well :)).

I have a long list of takeaways: buy lanyards myself, do not rely on people who order it the last minute (it didn’t arrive on time), do not turn away any volunteers (two people, including Anna, got sick and could not come), do not assign room monitoring to new volunteers (there was one disaster). Make sure there is water in all rooms, and test all the microphones. Possibly have the pre-conference dinner at the venue instead of a pub (I know that some would disagree). Advertise earlier and more aggressively. To be fair, I had two conferences in March, so I physically could not put enough effort into advertising. I am happy that we made it to 108 registrations, but it took me more effort than it should have.

Most importantly, people liked it. I had a lot of positive reviews. And it looks like now, I have it. I mean, this conference. So I will be busy every April 🙂

Volunteering And Near-Hostage Situation

Yesterday, I was volunteering in the youth shelter and experienced a situation that had never happened in all seven years of my volunteering. The boyfriend of one of the residents of the transitional living program (that’s not the program I volunteer for, but in the same building) can to the entrance threatening residents with a knife. 

I should mention that the day before, I emailed our volunteer coordinator with a concern that I had a very low engagement level with the residents recently. During these past seven years, I experienced all sorts of dynamics. There would be days when the engagement would be low, especially when there were many new people, but the current situation went on for a very long time without signs of improvement. Throughout all these years, I came and cooked together with the residents. Even if their participation was limited, we had a chance to chat and develop relationships. Recently, it was not that some days were worse than others, but it was constantly not working: I asked our coordinator whether he had any suggestions for improving the situation. We agreed to have a brainstorming session, but not on that day – the residents would go to the trampoline park after dinner.

I should also mention that an assistant coordinator scheduled a “build your taco” dinner. I have complicated relationships with Mexican cuisine and know nothing about making tacos.

It all started like any other dinner recently: only one person was interested in making tacos with me. One staff member added spices to my skillet, where I cooked the ground beef. A couple of other residents approached the kitchen and assembled their tacos, I was about to call it yet another failure, and then that happened. 

There was some motion, and I heard people asking why they couldn’t go to the second floor, and nobody was leaving for the trampoline park as planned. And then I learned about the guy with the knife and that we all have to stay inside and not go anywhere, including me!

The situation remained quite tense for the next hour. Police was called, they came (not very fast), and searched this guy, but didn’t find a weapon (as many commented, most likely, he threw the knife into the bushes by the church, but nobody searched there). Then he walked away, and I had hoped I could leave, but he reappeared (we watched the surveillance camera footage). 

In the end, the volunteer coordinator walked me out of the building using one of the emergency exits (it was another challenge for me to find my way :)), and it was scary because he tried one exit and didn’t feel it was far enough/secure enough. 

But – we had a terrific bonding time! More residents came to make tacos, and people tried their favorite spices, and I told them I loved theirs’ better, which was true. We talked and talked and shared who we are and where we are from and planned three more activities!

So it looks like it just took a near-hostage situation to resolve our participation and communication issues!

An Opera Close To Home

How come I didn’t know about the Theo Ubique Cabaret until I saw a review in Tribune a couple of weeks ago?! I purchased tickets for Saturday night because I wanted to go somewhere with Boris after the conference, and I didn’t want to return late from the Loop.

I was so tired by Friday evening, and even more by Saturday afternoon, that I thought that I would let these tickets go, the would be no fun when I am so tired. And you’ve already guessed – I am happy we went.

Here is a review of the show I found online, and the last paragraph says:

With all its conflicts and contradictions–including the fact that this anti-capitalist broadside is being presented by a non-union company–this is still the single best Brecht production I’ve ever seen on a Chicago stage. Veteran director Anzevino and company know what works in cabaret, and the concept–dark, broad and boldly theatrical–is right on target. This “Threepenny Opera” is not pretty, but it is indeed art. And if the theater gods are just, it will be a hit.

And I agree!

I Did It!

I can’t believe the conference is over, and it was a success! I can’t believe I did it. We did it! All this week, I worked so hard that I had no time for anything else!

We are done, and everything was great! Well, there are definitely things that could be done better and a lot of things I would do differently next time, but none was a disaster:)

I am happy 🙂


Despite not having time for anything (or maybe because I still need something to switch my attention to), I recently listened to more audiobooks than usual. However, I am often left in a state of dissatisfaction. I do not know whether something is wrong with me or if I am following the wrong recommendations, but I do not know how to rate most books I have read recently. In many cases, the books didn’t meet my expectations, as with The Other Wes MooreThe Feminist City, and Gentrification is Inevitable. Each time I just started to get into the complexity of an issue, the book would end with no conclusion. Most likely, it’s me expecting the answer where there is none.

The situation is a little bit different with two books I just finished. One of them was Anxious People, which I picked up after an attempt of cashless bank robbery close to our office, and started to read on the long flight without an internet connection. The other one was There is no such thing as an easy job which was suggested for our book club discussion but didn’t make a cut. With both of these books, I feel the same way: I should like them; they are very insightful, with lots of unexpected twists, others like them, and I should like them too, but somehow, they are not “my” books. 

I am going to leave it this way for now 🙂


Four days before the conference. I am in full panic because I feel that I still do not have enough volunteers, not enough room hosts, some sponsors didn’t use their vouchers, and there are other people who could use them, but I am failing to connect people and vouchers. Speakers asked me why I didn’t advertise the conference in NYC, and others asked for a microbrewery tour in Chicago. My co-worker from our Austin office is coming for the whole week, so I need to allocate ask much time as possible to work with him while he is in Chicago in person. I promised to show the best of Chicago to my international guests, which created an apparent conflict of interest.

CTA and Metra decided that today was the best day for all sorts of delays and road closers, and Uber takes forever because everybody is on the road, so I spent two hours unproductively while I was already not keeping up with my to-do list. The person I am trying to hire for several small repairs in my house could not find my building for forty minutes, which I spent staying by the window and texting: I still do not see you. Mom completely does not understand the deepness of my crisis.

One bright spot in today’s day (which was, BTW, splendid – sunny and warm!). When I came home an hour later than my adjusted plan was, I thought that I did not want to spend time making coffee. Remembering how jealous I was of the people who had breakfast at Charmer’s Cafe across, and recalling that they are open until 6 PM and they have coffee and ice cream, I broke my promise not to have a cappuccino after 11 AM! I asked them for cappuccino and coffee ice cream and mango sorbet and said that the world was against me. Five minutes later, a barista brought my cappuccino and two bowls of ice cream, saying that she gave me more “because I had such a tough day!. I thanked her but thought I would never be able to eat that much ice cream… and I ate it all!

On The Same Topic, Again

On Sunday, I talked with my second cousin, who lives in Russia. We lived in the same apartment for the first twenty-two years of my life, so we had our share of hate and love, and I respect him both personally and professionally.

Unlike most of my family, he is not a technical person. He is a historian, and not like an amateur historian, and not like “the history of the USSR” historian. He specialized in the history of Russia in the 19th century, so one can only imagine how far from easy it was to stick with this topic for over forty years of research. In short, he knows it. Seriously.

So, I was talking to him, and we were about to say our goodbyes. Then he said he hoped the time would come when we saw each other again. He immediately corrected himself. He said that he did not see any of the future for Russia at all, and “if we exclude the complete collapse of the state,” the only non-catastrophic outcome he saw was the strengthening of dictatorship. He reiterated that the complete collapse would be the worst and that “he hoped we would never come to that.”

I told him that I saw our only hope in this complete collapse, and I did not see any possibility of rebuilding the nation without destroying everything that exists now. I added that I was thinking about Germany in 1947. He replied: yes, but there is one slight difference: in Gernamy in 1947, they had an external government. I said: yes, that’s what I mean, and then I realized that with all these positive things about him I mentioned at the beginning of the post, he still thinks that 1) nothing can be done, 2) anything is better than a potential collapse of the state.

And it’s extremely unfortunate.