The First Day Of School!

In the Soviet Union, kids started school when they were seven. Although we had a “prep” group in the detskiy sad, it still wasn’t considered “school.” Going to school meant that you were “a big kid,” and everybody counted the days left until their first “September First” (the official start of the school year countrywide). Very soon, the novelty would vanish, and at least half of the kids would start to hate school, but it was not the case on the first day of your first school year.

During summer in Estonia, Grandma Fania gave me lessons. I could read decently by that time, but she also taught me cursive, and we did a lot of writing exercises. I have no idea why she did this – it was by no means required. Possibly, she kept the memories of the Gymnasium in the Czarist Russia she attended – to be admitted, you had to demonstrate the ability to read, write and do basic arithmetic. Or maybe, she just wanted me to be in the top of my class from day one.

In any case, I was ready and excited. I had my new school uniform on with the “holiday” white apron, and I had flowers in my hand – that was also a must for September 1 – the flowers were given to the teachers, and everybody had to have a bouquet.

The school was less than ten minutes walk away, but I was afraid to be late!

Continue reading “The First Day Of School!”


I finally finished mom’s citizenship application (I could not submit it because the government payment website was down for maintenance :), but that’s fine, I will submit it on Monday). Anyway, it was one of these things sitting there, annoying like hell, and you can’t do anything else because you know you have to do this first, and then everything is stalled.

I am finally done, but I will be happier when I pay the application fee and it is officially submitted. It looks like things are moving fast these days, so I hope her application will be processed soon.

Now, I need to submit all the remaining documentation for my taxes. The fact that I had a long questionnaire for my tax returns sitting there at the same time as my mom’s application was sitting there, and both seemed equally urgent, didn’t help any of the two processes. But now, I should be able to finish both!

It’s ridiculous how I spend weekends these days – trying to catch up with things instead of relaxing and recharging. But it does not look like I have alternatives.

Fighting Forward!

It used to be an annual Planned Parenthood fundraiser celebrating yet another anniversary of Roe/Wade. This year is different- for the first time, the defenders of reproductive rights gathered after Roe/Wade was gone.

Despite that, the event was very elevating, and I left the event inspired. Everybody is determined to fight relentlessly to defend women’s bodies and the right to choose.

Dick Durbin
Jennifer Welch

Antis were blocking the way to the venue (anything new?!), although not that many. And escorts were protecting the guests :). I thought I would be alone (I didn’t share my plans with anybody), but I met two escorts who invited me to sit together, so it was even more enjoyable.

The only time I attended this event before was in 2016 when I got discounted tickets for my friend and me. This year I decided to give more to Planned Parenthood by buying a non-discounted ticket. And I also gave money during the event.

We will keep fighting!


This week is all about volunteering, and overall it is one of these weeks which are “overloaded” with different activities.

Tuesday was an ODS day. I didn’t go there for six weeks (not because I didn’t want to, but because our volunteer coordinator was unavailable). As usual, when I am away for a long, and when lots of residents leave and lots of new ones come, it is challenging to start developing new relationships again.

Besides, I was asked to make a salmon soup, and I accidentally burned the leek, and there was no extra. I had to substitute with onions, but that’s an unacceptable substitute, so the soup didn’t come out as good as it should. I need to come and make it one more time soon!

Today, The Night Ministry had a career workshop so residents from different programs could prepare for the career fair for next week.

It was organized exceptionally well, and I was happy to tell the staff how awesome it was. It was the first time The Night Ministry had such kind of an event, so after the youth left, we talked a little bit about how it could be improved even more.

All is great, but I am really tired, and tomorrow, I am going to the Planned Parenthood fundraising, and of Friday, I have friend’s birthday.

At work, two projects are finally moving, and also, I started my Advanced Postgres series for my co-workers, and also, there are two million little things related to the conference.

So it feels like I am busy 24X7,and still have too little done!


Almost three years after Anna’s family moved to Milwaukee, we finally had our first day in Milwaukee Downtown!
The reason for my travel was Nadia’s first recital, but the whole day was amazing!
I used the Milwaukee streetcar for the first time. These streetcars look a lot like trams in Helsinki; even the buttons which open the doors look the same!

They are nice and clean, and they are free!

Robert Burns monument


I liked the recital; it reminded me of the ones Anna’s piano teacher had, where the students of all different skill levels had a chance to participate. Nadia did great, and I think listening to more advanced students perform inspired her.

Milwaukee Conservatory

And then, I finally visited the Milwaukee Art museum. Many people toladme how awesome this museum is. My neighbor sometimes goes to Milwaukee just to see a new exhibit.

FInally, I made it there! The building architecture is breathtaking! Lots of interesting exhibits, and they have an educational center, too!

Thaitian Art
Still need to figure this out – see description below
leaving the Art Museum after closing

While we were at the Art Museum, I received a notification on my Amtrak app, that my train was canceled “due to equipment problems,” so I had to rebook for two hours later. On the bright side, we had dinner together 9and the girls seriously discussed the idea to go to Chicago with me :))

The Great Dictator

A note from the Siskel Center said:

After a remarkable twenty-year tenure, Gene Siskel Film Center Executive Director Jean de St. Aubin will resign in February. Join us in celebrating Jean’s impact and leadership, as we toast to her next chapter and celebrate her love of the movies with one of her favorite films, THE GREAT DICTATOR (this title, by the way, is in no way a reflection on Jean’s own leadership style!). Film followed by a post-screening reception with champagne, pretzels (her fave), and more. All ticket proceeds benefit the Film Center.

To be completely honest, I was more interested in the movie than in the reception :). I never saw the whole movie, not to mention on a big screen! Amazing! I knew about this movie, the plot, and when it was filmed, but even the excerpts I saw do not give enough impression of how awesome it is! It is hard to believe that it was filmed in 1940 when the US was’t even at was with Germany.

A War Memorial For The Fallen Finnish Citizen Destroyed

I saw this in the news yesterday- this act of vandalism was performed after Putin Visited Saint Petersburg on the Day of the End of Seige of Leningrad and mentioned that “all our enemies are our enemies, regardless of nationality.”

Details in Finnish and in Russian.


And after

Lyric Opera: Hansel and Gretel

I went there with my neighbor on Wednesday – it was an opening night, and I had main floor tickets and I also pre-ordered desserts for the intermission. The pictures are mostly from the Lyric website.

I liked it, although I think many people were misled about child appropriateness. It is quite creepy, except for the finale, which is beautiful, joyful, and optimistic. I know that it was intended for children when it was written, but I guess we have different standards now:)

iPhone Upgrade

I was planning to upgrade to iPhone 14 when I discovered Sprint quietly terminated the FlexLease program. I spent some time “yelling” via chat at their sales rep (her explanations were pathetic) and then paused to see my options. It turned out that Apple itself now runs a similar program without any attachment to a specific carrier. The only unplanned expense was paying back the remaining cost of my iPhone 13. That also had a certain advantage because now I owned it, and I passed it to Boris.

I was cautious about when to make a switch because previously, I had all sorts of complications and had to visit a store or chat with a rep.

This time, it was the most smooth transition I have ever had! Zero interruption in receiving calls, and all the apps migrated without problems. The only thing I had to set up anew was a FaceID (and the new one is better and n=better recognized). Also, I had to confirm adding credit cards to Apple Pay on that phone, and that was it.

There are several new cool features on the iPhone 14, one being the “always on” option (it turned out it consumes a lot of battery, but it is nice to have it). The screen goes dark but not completely black, and important notifications remain. I also love the new and improved camera (what is the primary reason to switch to the next model anyway :)?).

There are also some new features in the apps. It is entirely possible that they were there before, and I just didn’t pay attention, but nevertheless:).

I looked at the Health app because I noticed that it reports the sleep time differently and wanted to see what else is new. It turned out that it now reports way more data on sleep, including the phases, but while I was there, I ran across something else.

I verified how my medical ID is set, and the app asked whether I wanted to connect my medical records. I replied – yes, and it started to sniff around and look at the medical institutions close to my house. Then it found the one where my family doctor is and asked whether I wanted to link my medical records. I said yes, entered my credentials, and my medical records were linked. I know that many people find such app behavior intrusive and dangerous, but it means that if I call for emergency medical assistance by pressing the button, the paramedics who arrive would have instant access to my medical records, my doctor’s contact information, etc. And I think it’s very important.