Life In Chicago

Today, I asked Vlad to meet me for lunch because I needed to discuss several things with him. We didn’t plan very well, and I had a work emergency, so first, I ended up being late, and then he was late, although he texted me that he is already parking.

When he finally came in, he told me that he had trouble finding a parking spot and that he had to park at a very expensive place. But then he said that he feels good about it because it means that the city is getting back to normal.

I can second these feelings because yesterday, I felt similarly annoyed when I could not turn left from my subdivision to the main road. Annoyed, but also glad :).
Among the things I wanted to talk about was the future of the restaurant business. In Chicago, with our notoriously brutal winters, everybody is talking about this! Vlad thinks that people will still be heading for indoor seating when the weather will become colder regardless of the higher risk. I am not sure how he thinks our legislators will do, but even in Finland, they had to back up under the business demands. We shall see. I also hope that rapid testing will be more available. Last week, Vlad was hosting a private even with Abbott Labs, and since they developed this rapid test, they tested each and single participant and each and single server at this event. It would be cool if we could have this rapid testing everywhere!

Oh, and funny story. Today was the first time since early March that I was not alone in the elevator going down in our office building:)

I Don’t Know What To Do With These People

On Saturday, I took Mom for a walk in the Deer Grove forest preserve. We were walking the beautiful path with flowers blooming on both sides from us, and as usual, I was telling her the names of the plants, and we both admired the gorgeous view..

And then I saw these two people. First, I saw a lady coming from the opposite direction with a huge bouquet of blue asters in her hands. I mean, it was not like you were passing by and could not resist an urge to pick one of these beauties. No, those were “commercial quantities.” I said: excuse me; you are not supposed to pick the wildflowers here. But she passed me as if I said nothing.

In a moment, a guy came the same way with an even bigger asters bunch. I stopped and said: Sir, do you are not supposed to pick the wildflowers here? And he is: OK. I am: Sir, I am a Forest Preserve volunteer, and we work hard here to restore the prairie, don’t do it anymore. And he is: OK, thank you! And he walks away. “Thank you”? Seriously?!

After I talked to my fellow volunteers, I found out that this is not an isolated incident, and that mine was a relatively “mild” one. Now I know that I can call the Forest Preserve Police, but… I just can’t get over it! You can’t even imagine how many flowers were destroyed!

Seven years ago, nothing but the white clover was around, and it took years of fighting invasive species, collecting seeds and sowing to make the prairie look like it looks today. It hurts to see such an attitude.

For those of you who already saw my Instagram post – yes, I my goal is to put it on all of my social media and on the NextDoor.

Flue Shots

My mom does not have any medical insurance, because she is only in the country for two and a half years, and when somebody comes on a sponsored green card, they are not eligible for Medicare/Medicaid until they are in the country for five years. She is enrolled in a charity program for Chicago Northwest suburbs called Access To Care, which allows her to see an assigned family doctor and takes care of some of non-emergency needs.

As for the vaccination, the coverage varies. One year, she had to pay twenty dollars for a flue shot, next year they said they will do it for free if we come to one assigned pharmacy, located extremely inconveniently for me. So I ended up taking her to Jewel Osco and paying seventy dollars (she needs a stronger vaccine since she is 86).

This season, the Access To Care sent out a newsletter where they said among other things that they encourage everybody to take a seasonal flue shot soon, in order not to add it to corona, and that you can do it in any pharmacy for free, if you present your Access To Care card. The good part is that when mom sees any mail from Access To Care she takes it as an order :).

On Saturday, we went together to Walgreens (which is, by the way, way more friendly to uninsured people than CVS) and got our season flue shots. I had it as well, since because I won’t get to my annual checkup until a month from now anyway. The funny story was, that she got it for free and I had to pay ten bucks 🙂

Baba Ania

Today, as on most Sundays, I had coffee with mom at my house. When I was dropping her off by her place, she asked me whether I remember what day is it today. I told her: yes, Baba Ania’s day. And she continued – and also your fathers’ birthday.
I was hesitant for a while about whether I wanted to write posts like this in this blog, but after talking to my children, I decided I should do so. This is my first attempt to write about difficult things.

Baba Ania, my mom’s mother, passed away on September 20, 1967. She was fifty-five. And to be honest, the only reason I remember this date is that it is also my father’s birthday, and my mom told me several thousand times that my father would not remember that this was a day Baba Ania passed away. So when I finally memorized my father’s birthday, and after I heard mom saying this a thousand times, I finally memorized the day of her death.

Now, mom always says it in an accusative tone with the underlying meaning that I do not remember important dates. But the truth is that she is a precise reason I do not remember these dates.

I can never forgive mom that she didn’t tell me that my grandma passed away. I loved Baba Ania very much, and there was some idiotic reason like she didn’t want to upset the poor child or whatever it was. Honestly, I do not know what she was thinking. I was four, and I was smart. But she told me that Baba Ania is ill and is in the hospital (and at that time, almost no hospital visitations were allowed). I believed her. And then when I asked, she was keeping saying that Baba Ania is still in the hospital. Again, I have no idea whether she thought I would forget or not, but she kept saying this.

And all this time, I was visiting Deda Fedia with her, and they kept pretending for months. And then once, I was there, with Deda Fedia, visiting the neighbors, Aunt Lida and Uncle Paulusha (they were not our relatives, but that it was a custom for the kids to address people they new Aunt and Uncle). So we were visiting, and Aunt Lida casually asked me: do you remember your late grandma? At first, I didn’t even understand what she was asking and stared at her. She repeated: Do you remember your late grandma, Baba Ania?

I never told my mom, but I was so mad that she didn’t let me to grief, that she didn’t let me live through this loss. What was the point of grieving after many months of Baba Ania being gone?
I said that I never forgave mom; it does not mean that I am mad at her about this even now. I am not mad at her now because she is old, and I want to take good care of her, and there is no point discussing this because she is a different person right now. Not the person who made this horrible decision fifty-three years ago. I can’t forgive because this is something that can’t be fixed. But it just does not matter anymore, and there is no person I can hold it against.

March 1967

My historical posts are being published in random order. Please refer to the page Hettie’s timeline to find where exactly each post belongs, and what was before and after.

East Riverwalk Walking Tour

As I’ve expected, being just one a half-day past deadline with the previous chapter made me fall behind with the next one. I gave myself a half-day off last Sunday because we had our family gathering, and because I just needed to do something except for writing. And then, I went on this tour with Igor, and then I did a little bit of writing on Tuesday, and I had PUG on Wednesday. Long story short, I know exactly what to write in Chapter 6, but I am falling behind again.

So, because I need to take a break from writing the book, I want to write about this tour.
The Chicago Architectural Foundation resumed some walking tours back in June, but their schedule and mine did not agree for several months.

I still wanted to attend, but I didn’t want to go for the sake of going; I wanted to go on the tour I never been before. And the one which does not start at 10-30 AM on a weekday.

Finally, I signed Igor and myself to attend the East Riverwalk Tour. The Riverwalk is a new thing, and so is to tour, and I enjoyed it immensely. I took at least fifty pictures, which I had no time to process properly. And since I still want to show them, I am dumpling several Instagram posts from last week. The good part of inserting the Instagram posts is that each of these posts contains multiple pictures, so you can scroll them using the arrows on the left and right sides.

One of under the bridge passages, on the second photo, there are reflections of Igor and me 🙂
Continue reading “East Riverwalk Walking Tour”

Thursday’s Plane Crush

For those who were asking – it was, indeed very close to my house. Not at the intersection as it was initially reported, but pretty close. I heard the news helicopters, but could not figure out what’s the deal, and then my neighbor rang my door. I even walked to the intersection, but there was only police over there, plus the traffic closure. So the picture is from the news, not mine.

Funny story – another plane of similar size crushed almost at the same place ten years ago, but back then it literally landed on the car driving along Quentin 🙂

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Last night, all my devices rang simultaneously, just like it was when Senator McCain died, and I looked at the closest of the devices, my Apple Watch, to read the news.
Today, there is no other topic on the news, except for the death of RBG, at least that how it feels now, that I am almost four hours in my day. To tell the truth, I would rather hear more of her, then memories about her, but there were just one or two excerpts from the old interviews played on the air.

I do not feel like I can write anything lengthy or anything new, which I didn’t say earlier about her. Like many people, I feel the void, which won’t be ever filled. Because even if/when other amazing people will come up, she will always be the one, unmatched, incomparable.

Its probably not worth saying here, but even Trump’s first reaction on the news of her death was: she was an amazing woman!

I am sorry that she didn’t live to see this presidency over. However, her impact on humanity is enormous and will never be undone,

Bitemporality in Practice

The World of Data

Yesterday marked a significant milestone in the life of the pg_bitemporal library. Five years ago, when this project started, we thought that the first practical application of that concept would be in accounting. Indeed, when I explain to people who work in finances what benefits this approach can yield, my explanations usually receive an enthusiastic response. However, when it comes to reality, i.e., doing real financial reporting, people tend to rely on more familiar approaches. After all, the financial reports are too important to mess them up. But through all these years, I hoped I would be able to demonstrate the usefulness of the bitemporal concept and the productiveness of that approach.

What happened yesterday was that my very first report, which used the bitemporal framework for accounting, went live. And the way it is using bitemporality is just how I envisioned it five years ago.

I am a scientist…

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1996: My Last Job In Russia

My life in 1996, as it started, was pretty much the same as in 1995. Being a research associate at the University paid very little, and I always searched for additional gigs. One interesting thing in 1996 was that Urbansoft moved to one of Boris’s research lab rooms. John ran out of money (I am not even sure whether he had any investors by that time), and I forgot whether Boris was the first to come up with this idea of it was John, but the idea was the following. Boris and John signed the contract to the effect that Boris’ lab will perform some research for Urbansoft, and Urbansoft will pay for this research, but in reality, it was rent. It’s just that the University was not allowed to lease its space to anybody. It was all the sequence of really awkward situations: John didn’t know that Boris and I were in relationships and that Vlad and Anna were his children. And then he realized that Boris knew all this story about the key and me being fired. So there was a lot of awkwardness!

For several years, however, it was a good collaboration. 

As for me, I still needed some other work on the side. The Smolny thing was over. The bank gig was over. 

I do not remember what I was doing in winter, but it was Stylus, Prompt Corporation by spring. The first Russian Automated Multi-language Translator. Looking back, I have a lot of respect for their leadership. They were trying hard to build a healthy business model. At times, when working for any private company was considered a risky business, they would not hire part-timers. They insisted that if somebody wanted to work for them, they should focus on Prompt one hundred percent. 

It sounds trivial, except that in post-Soviet Russia, it was almost revolutionary. They were paying five bucks to anybody who would find a bug in their product, no matter QA or not. They catered lunch for the whole office every day, and that was unthinkable. 

In terms of full-time employment, they made an exception for me. I had to write documentation for Stylus, yes, documentation again! Once again, I do not remember who invited me there, but apparently, they knew “that I could write.” I brought with me some excerpts from the HighDoc documentation, and it was found to be acceptable. We negotiated the price and delivery schedule, and I started.

The documentation had to be in the RTF format. Once again, when summer arrived, and I had to go to the University boarding house, I was left with my primitive laptop with MS-DOS and Norton text editor and 8K RAM. 

I had some pieces of documentation which I already completed in WordPad. I used them as examples and pieced together the next parts, putting all the markups in manually. Once a week, when I went back to the city, I copied these files to my desktop and tried to correct them if they ended up being non-readable. 

On the second time, something went wrong with my desktop. I can’t remember what exactly, but it was the whole sequence of unfortunate events, and I ended up not bringing the next portion of documentation. I can’t even remember whether only some of the new parts suffered or could not put together anything. In any case, I came to the Prompt office and told my supervisor what had happened. He told me that he was sorry and understood that there were circumstances beyond my control, but since I didn’t deliver what I was supposed to deliver, there would be no pay. I do not remember how I lived for the next two weeks, and where I managed to find money, but I remember my feelings walking down Liteynyi Prospect: what I am going to do?! I can’t say anything in my defense; I didn’t turn in my work, but how will we survive

I worked for Prompt almost until the very last day in Russia. I told them that I am leaving when my work visa was granted. They were mad because their previous technical writer left for America several months before that (and that’s why they hired me). But there was nothing they could do. That was my last contract job in Russia.

As for my position with the University, I didn’t have the courage to quit. After all, I was still in the “I may come back” mode. But since Igor was a special needs child, I had a right by law to go on unpaid leave “to take care of the child” until his 16th birthday. Then theoretically, I could return on any day and get my position back. 

Now, I need to san a hundred pictures from our last summer, because somehow that last summer is very well documented 🙂

My historical posts are being published in random order. Please refer to the page Hettie’s timeline to find where exactly each post belongs, and what was before and after.

Matter Does Not Disappear!

At the beginning of April, when all the world was in the lockdown, and I thought that Boris and I would never see each other again, I mailed him a parcel. I put in it several small items that he purchased on Amazon for the upcoming biking season and which he was planning to pick up during his March trip, which did not happen. Also, I put some cookies that I baked for Easter and some vitamins, which I meant to give him to take home. And I mailed it, expecting it to travel slowly.
Well, it was sitting hear in Chicago for a while, it moved from one facility to another, and finally, it left O’Hare on May 5. And then I lost a trace of it.

I asked Boris to contact the Finnish postal service, but he didn’t feel like doing it :). He re-ordered some of the things which got lost, and I brought them with me at the end of July. And then, a week after I left, he received a notice from the Finnish customs. It turned out that somebody swapped the street number and the apartment number (I wrote it correctly on the envelope, so it might get messed up in the system). They actually wanted Boris to pick it put at the customs, but since they were trying to contact somebody else all that time, the parcel was marked as not claimed, and the day Boris got the note, the parcel was sent back to me.

I got it today. As expected, the cookies were gone bad, and I guess all the bike parts are still good :).
I am glad that “matter does not disappear,” it would be worse if the package would never be found, but still…