As Anna put it, we had three visits in one. Anna and the girls came Friday evening. The girls went more or less straight to bed, and Anna and I talked till midnight (which was probably not the best idea, but we didn’t have one on one conversations for a really long time).
It was then a long morning at my house, and then we went to the market and picked pre-ordered bread, croissants and vegetables. Afterward, we visited my mom, and she was very happy to hold Kira and chat with all of us. Then we traveled to John and Anna’s house in Milwaukee, and I stayed there till midday Tuesday. Unfortunately, my situation at work is such that I could not take any additional time off, but we were still happy to stay under one roof for a couple of days.
The weather was not cooperating. It became sharply colder on Saturday, and I was completely unprepared. I was glad that I took a warmer coat, but frankly, I could take even a warmer one. We still went for several walks, but it would be better if the weather would be different. I already posted some pictures from the Havenwoods State Park, and here are some pictures from the neighborhood – the Halloween decorations there are very elaborate 🙂
Although the US government does not require to quarantine after coming back from Europe, so technically speaking, I didn’t need to get tested, I still wanted to get tested before seeing my girls. I spent some before departure researching the situation with rapid testing in Illinois. It turned out that I can’t get a rapid test “just because I need it for my personal reasons.” It was either 48 hours wait or a rapid test for a fee. Forty-eight hours didn’t work for me because the samples collected on Thursday were going to go to the lab only at the end of the day, and the result would be back by the EOD Saturday. I didn’t have symptoms, so I could not get a free rapid test, and the one-hundred dollars rapid test was the only option.
I found (or rather Vlad found) one provider in the city who is doing rapid tests on-demand and with whom I could book online. They have multiple locations, and it looked like both Chicago locations are doing rapid testing. I booked an appointment at the Streeterville location because it looked easier to reach. I could even walk there from the train station, although it was a long walk, and still have time to get to the office not to disrupt my first working day upon return.
And that’s what I did: took a very early train to the city, walked to the clinic, checked in… they took my sample and said: ok, that’s it. And I: ???? they – the results will be in two to three days… I: What about the rapid test?! They: we do not do rapid tests at this location; we do not have equipment yet. You need to go to the South Loop. I: Why did your web site allow me to register for a rapid test here?! They said they would notify the other office, and I called Uber. The other office was on the opposite side of the city, and even though there is no real rush hour these days, eight AM is not the best travel time; Uber’s rates were doubled.
When I finally arrived at the South Loop office and check-in, they told me: our internet is down! Fortunately, after a while, they connected using somebody’s hotspot and processed my information and my payment. And they even allowed me to wait for the results, although at first, they said I couldn’t wait there. I had to take Uber to the office and was only a little bit late for my first morning meeting.
So it all ended up fine after all, but it was quite an expensive and stressful test.
That’s the name of the talk I will be giving on Wednesday. I was not sure to which extent I should advertise it – after all, it is not the technical talk. But looks like there is a lot of interest already, even without my advertising efforts. Here is a talk description:
Today, Chicago PUG is the third-largest in the Western Hemisphere, but it was not the case three years ago. It is easy to announce a new User Group, but how to keep it running and growing? Nobody expected new pandemic and the effect it will take on our lives. The Open Source communities, including Postgres community, which live and breath live discussions, were hit heavily. How did we manage? What’s next? Find out during this short presentation!
For the past two days, I stay with Anna and her family in the Milwaukee home. Since Wisconsin has a very high infection rate these days, Anna decided to drive me both ways. On Friday night, she drove to Palatine with the girls, and they spent a night at my house. In the morning, we headed to Milwaukee.
Here, I am trying to do it all: to have family time, work as actual work, and work on our book. It barely fits in, but I do not feel like I can take any days off these days. Hence this short note here: I am alive and well, but I have no time for anything. More than even.
On October 12, my 77-old neighbor texted me: I didn’t see a ballot drop box where you said it should be. Is it inside?
I talked to her a couple of days before that. She was hesitant to send her envelope by mail, and I told her there would be a dropoff box. My very moderate, if not conservative neighbor talked like I never head her before: I filled in the ballot. I told my husband: turn the TV off; I do not want to listen to him anymore. I tried to find some logical explanations, but enough is enough! Another neighbor chimed in: my mom said she wants to vote in person. She said we could take folding chairs and wait, no matter how many hours!
From what I was told, the first several days of early voting were indeed hours. I went to check on the situation of Friday, resolving that if the line is long, I will return home and fill in my absentee ballot.
The line seemed OK. It took about fifteen minutes of waiting outside, and about ten minutes inside, and then voting itself. I surrender by absentee ballot to the election judge, cast my vote, and dropped the printed ballot into the box. This process with printing and then manually casting is still relatively new.
As it often happens this year, there were no “I voted” stickers toward the end of the day, but that is fine. I am glad that so many people are voting early.
We were writing the postcards to the Florida voters through September, and we were told not to mail them before October 21. I mailed mine immediately after I got back from Helsinki,’ but I think it was already too late :). Which honestly, I do not regret!
Remember this post about fees-not-being collected on our Metra Line? Turned out, this happened due to a very peculiar situation – see this article. Although the lawsuit was filed more than a week ago, the situation with fare collection didn’t change.
Copying the article from the Metra website, because it might disappear later.
Last week, before I left to Helsinki, I stopped at my neighbor to let her know I am leaving and just to chat. At that moment, I thought that I had to be on strict quarantine all the time, so that’s what I told her when she asked me what we are going to do in Helsinki.
She said: well, you can just relax at home, and go for a walk. And then she added: and you will be cooking for him, right?
I replied: no. In Helsinki, I am not even allowed in the kitchen. When Boris is here, I cook and clean and everything, and when I am over there, he does everything.
I can’t even describe an expression on my neighbor’s face. I think she never thought that could be even possible. She was trying to imagine how it can be and then saidL yea… I guess…
I think that it was the first time in all these years she knows us she thought that it may be something in this whole remote idea 🙂
That time around, everything was different than back in July. First, Lufthansa allowed me to get a boarding pass online. Second, there was virtually no line to the LH counter in the airport. Third, the Terminal ! was packed with people!
also, now they do not allow masks with filters on board. I knew that it might be a case, so I bought a pack of KN95, and used four of them on the flights.
The documentation is still required, but this time, they didn’t consult the supervisor, but just marked me in. It’s so funny: we married for the only reason to make sure Boris can visit us here, no matter what. And the only time I really needed to use this document was for my entrance to Finland 🙂
Another new thing: even thought my passport was stamped in Frankfurt, they sent me to the border control again in Helsinki. So I had to show papers for the third time, and then they gave me instructions to quarantine, and I also went to take a COVID test (total extra time – about 40 minutes, free of charge).
Last Saturday, our condominium board member greeted me at the parking lot with the words: Hettie, I didn’t forget about your tree! I was puzzled. There was a story with that tree; as you can see in the picture, it hangs over my backyard from the different condominium! It took several months of negotiations to agree to cut just one big branch. The tree was not a hazard, and “too much shade” on my loan was not good enough.
Indeed, the grass started to grow much better after that big brunch was removed. But there was still too much shade.
Now, the board member happily announced that she saw that the tree’s trunk is coming lower, and now it’s finally a hazard for my roof, and it has to go down. And now that somebody needs to pay for this tree to go down, it turned out that other condominiums might not even own the tree.
Since our fire lane is a part of the former local railroad (and I knew that!), there are high chances that the village owns it and will have to pay for its removal. I hope that they will be able to sort it out before the tree would come down by the forces of nature!