Anne-Sophie Mutter

I went to her concert on Sunday – it was a matinee performance, so I took mom with me. It is always hit or miss (I never know whether she will enjoy a performance or start critiquing random things). This time, it was a miss – she said that the music didn’t engage her and then proceeded to criticize the musician’s clothes and other unrelated stuff. But enough about that.

Anne-Sophie Mutter is one of those artists who are so well-known that it feels like they “always were around,” and you might be unsure whether they are still alive. It was almost the case this time: I knew that she was the most famous violinist for the past twenty five years. The program mentioned her “forty seven years of performing.” So when you see her coming to stage in a bright pink strapless ball gown, it feels surreal :).

She is great. The concert lasted for two hours, and she was on stage all the time, and then did three encores!

The second part of the concert was “The Four Seasons,” and it was as great as on this video:

Bureaucracy

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.

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.

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.

Finally, The Christmas Season Is Complete!

The last of my Christmas parcels was delivered to Mykolaiv this week. Two weeks ago, the parcel sent to Kyiv was delivered. That was a joy; however, I understand the difference between delivering to Kyiv and Mykolaiv. I sent both parcels in defiance of the cruelties of war, hoping they would make it in against all odds. It was a completely childish idea, like, “I can’t stop the war, but it’s still in my power to do something good, and nobody can stop me.”

My dear S., as you know, I am keeping close to my heart your words – “it will happen, just not as soon as both you and me would want it to happen.”

… I hope it will!

The African Exhibit At The Art Institute p.3

I still want to show the remaining pictures, and I even didn’t see the whole exhibit, so I am sure more posts will follow.

Some of the cultures presented at the exhibit are well-researched, and there was a lot of interesting information explaining how the languages reflected some important concepts and beliefs. For example, many languages had the same word for “good” and “beautiful,” meaning the being good is an equivalent of being beautiful.

Also, I learned about the purpose and meaning of body scarsing in African cultures. The people wanted to distinctuate themselves in the eyes of gods from the “wild life,” and from their point of view, an intelligent creature can be identified by their ability to alter their natural appearance.

A choker with leopard teeth
Almost a “Thinker”
Continue reading “The African Exhibit At The Art Institute p.3”

Life Is Going On

And again, there are too many things going on in my life, but I am happy about it. All these things are meaningful.

At work, I am working on two database courses at the same time. One is an online introductory course in databases and SQL. I wanted to do something like this for years, and I even tried to engage in a project with the publisher who published our Query Optimization book, but it didn’t work. After several attempts, they said that I just did not know how to produce educational videos.

I can’t say they are wrong, but I still wanted this to happen! And a couple of months ago, I had this conversation at work. I can’t even describe how awesome it felt! The conversation was: give us content, and we will do the rest! I work with a specialist in creating educational videos. She does not know much about databases, so she has to try really hard, but she knows all about producing educational videos, so I am genuinely admiring the resulting product.

Another course I am preparing is an advanced course for DBAs, primarily geared towards Oracle/MS SQL Server DBAs, who are switching to PostgreSQL. That’s another dreamy project which brings me the joy of feeling useful.

On top of it, just a day’s snapshot: convincing people at work to do the right thing, discussing the preparation for the career fair in the Night Ministry (that feels like the shelter and One Million Degrees combined :)), people asking me to write professional blog posts, and a premier of Hansel and Gretel in the Lyric Opera.

Looks like life is just starting at sixty 🙂