On family history, parenting, education, social issues and more
Author: Hettie D.
My name is Henrietta (Hettie) Dombrovskaya. I was born in Saint-Petersburg, Russian (actually, back then – Leningrad, USSR) in 1963, and immigrated to the United States in 1996.
I love Saint Petersburg, the city I was born and raised in, and I think it’s one of the most beautiful places in the world. Similarly (but differently) I love Chicago, and can’t imagine myself moving somewhere else in the observable future.
I have three children, Igor, Vlad and Anna, all adults living on their own, and one (so far) granddaughter Nadia. I also believe that my children are the best thing that happened in my life.
As for my professional life, I am working in the field of Information Technologies. When I was twenty, I’ve declared that the databases are the coolest thing invented and that I want to do them for the rest of my life. Thirty plus years later, I still believe it’s true, and still, believe that the databases are the best. These two statements together imply that I think a person can have it all, and indeed, I think so! Keep reading my journals to find out how I did it.
I am very tired at the moment, but I am overjoyed because in the past two days, I have had two big accomplishments..
First, I finally finished the build of a new bitemporal example for my October presentations. This is going to be my new bitemporal talk, and it’s for the first time that I built a full-size example (the data is forked from postgres_air and not published yet.
Boris helped me a lot with data cleansing, but I also invested many-many hours in this process. And when it was finally built, everything else was easy to add. I still need to work on the actual presentation, but now I have all material!
Second, I made a major improvement in my first project at the new job. I was able to optimize it to the maximum, and now I am confident that the performance will be stable for future growth. Friends, I know that all of this does not make any sense to most of you, but trust me, I have a reason to be happy!
I remember the post on Next Door I saw several months ago. The title of the post was “Refugees are here, and they have NOTHING!” The post described the situation in the Refugee center, and how they need funds and lots of household items.
I bookmarked that post with an intension to come back later, to message the author, to ask what is needed most, and they I didn’t. And I thought to myself that there are too many causes in the world, and I can’t address all of them.
What I saw yesterday, immediately reminded my about that post, because that’s how “have nothing” looks. I do not feel comfortable revealing details, even if I won’t mention any names, but let me say, I haven’t seen such level of desperation for a long time, if ever.
Rogers Park is the fifth best place to live in the USA, according to Money.com. Interestingly, if is the place with the lowest median household income and the highest unemployment rate out of all of the best fifty. I think this says that money is not so important after all.
That’s what they say about Rogers Park:
Few places are as welcoming to different religions, creeds or ethnicities as Rogers Park, an underdog neighborhood located in the northeast corner of Chicago.
Rogers Park is known as the most diverse neighborhood in Chicago, which itself is one of the most diverse cities in the country, and the result is truly something special. Residents often rave about the neighborhood’s multiculturalism and cite that as the foundation of what makes Rogers Park such a unique place. (Its walkability and easy access to public transit don’t hurt, either.)
Devon Avenue, for example, contains the entire world on just a few city blocks. Don’t believe us? Start at the intersection of Devon and Rockwell, an area sometimes referred to as “Little India.” Geometric patterns in yellow and pink pop off the walls of the adjacent South Asian clothing boutique. Head East toward Lake Michigan and you’ll waltz by Indian, Nepalese, Pakistani, Israeli, Cuban and Chinese restaurants serving up a variety of vegetarian, vegan, kosher and halal dishes.
Along the way, you’ll spot a mosque, a temple, a synagogue and a church — one of many signs of the myriad cultures that call Rogers Park home. Continue farther East and you’ll wind up on the campus of Loyola University, a private Jesuit research institution located on the shores of Lake Michigan.
Residents of the tight-knit neighborhood are typically younger and more likely to have a college degree compared to Chicago overall (thanks in part to its proximity to Loyola). Median home prices in Rogers Park, a hair over $200,000, are also notably lower than Chicago — and well below most cities on our list.
These days, I often think about what would happen to me if I wouldn’t come to the US. Suppose I would decide to stay, either because I won’t have the heart to leave Boris behind or for any other reason. Obviously, my life would be drastically different, but I am thinking more about what would be on my mind. Where would I be, and which side would I take if I stayed in Russia? It’s impossible to tell because all these twenty-six years made me a completely new person. It’s very tempting to say that I would be on the right side of things because of the “three generations of revolutionaries” because I was always a radical and “politically unreliable.”
But all these three generations of revolutionaries truly believed in Communism; they believed that you could “force mankind into happiness with the iron hand of revolution.” And I also believed in the communist ideals and social justice (one could argue that this didn’t change :)), just not so much in favor of the “iron hand.” I do not know where I would be, and that’s scary. We talked with Boris about how we didn’t feel anything wrong with most of the engineers working for the Ministry of Defence or the Ministry of Defence Manufacturing. How we were very proud of ourselves, not caring how our ideas would be used. As long as the government was willing to pay us, we didn’t care. We were “above all of that.”
Now, when I read about Skolkovo and what projects are used now during the war, and how exactly they are used – why am I surprised? I was no better.
(Just realized that my yesterday’s post was left unpublished, so there will be three today :))
I saw on Instagram that the previous two weeks of escorting were brutal. My fellow escorts told me they saw up to fifty antis altogether (in shifts). The clinic requested police presents, but honestly, it was a farce.
Today was relatively quiet; there was only one group of four antis with an amplifier. The shocking part was that the police seemed to protect them, not us.
When a guy on a scooter shouted something in the direction of the amplifier, a police officer gestured for him to stop. When antis were done and packed their equipment, they shook hands with both police officers, and right after this group was gone, police left as well. But at least it was quiet today, so I can’t complain.
Also, it turned out that today was the 75th anniversary of the CTA celebration, and if I had known in advance, I would plan on taking a ride in the 1920s train car. Unfortunately, I was already on a tight schedule, but I hope it was not the last time in my life.
That’s what I was told yesterday: you have everything in your life! I know that I am incredibly fortunate, that everything is going my way, and yea, from any imaginable angle, I am lucky. But I always add: now, the only thing I need for my life to be complete is a victory in Ukraine.
I spent three hours on the phone and other means of communication tonight, completely unplanned. Trying to explain to some people that there is a war in the world, listening to others saying that I do not understand their sufferings. Do you know what I am wondering? None of my Ukrainian friends ever told me I do not understand their suffering!
Also, mom had a dental emergency (she does not have a dentist since we moved). Igor was a hero and found a place where they took her Medicaid and had an opening today. On top of that, and all the calls, and a working session with a coauthor of one of my PG Conf EU talks, it’s a miracle I was able to do actual work.
What I am trying to say to myself is that I have no right to be unhappy, and I have no right to be upset. All problems which I have in my life are solvable. And I have enough energy to help others in solving their problems. I will try to stick to it 🙂
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:)
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 🙂
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.
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 :(.