About Better Things

I didn’t open this email from the Chicago History Museum at first, because I thought it would be another invite for a virtual tour – I want to cry each time I see these invites. But when I opened it a couple of days later, it turned out it was something different:

PPE Donation Chicago History Museum

To the Chicago History Museum community,

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, supporting our community in the fight to contain the virus is more important than ever. As the local medical community let it be known that PPE (personal protective equipment) was in short supply, we realized that getting the PPE that we use at the museum everyday was needed at area hospitals.

At the Chicago History Museum, we use nitrile gloves every day to protect museum artifacts from oils and other contaminates on hands – not to mention to protect our Collections and Exhibitions staff from any potential hazardous substances that may sit on the artifacts upon acquisition (think: lead, radium, asbestos)! N95 face masks, eye protection, and polyethylene aprons are also used to protect staff during conservation treatment of artifacts.

Museums around the globe purchase PPE for these very reasons. While we are closed to the public to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, our supplies are best utilized by the healthcare workers on the frontlines at the John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County.

Continuing to fight the spread of COVID-19 is a responsibility we all share. Yesterday, at 11:00 am, Britta Arendt Collection Manager at the Chicago History Museum, met with Daniel J. Ruiz, Senior Manager of Supply Chain Operations at the hospital to drop off a donation of the following supplies:

  • 63 boxes of nitrile gloves in all sizes, 6,300 pairs total
  • 9 boxes of N95 masks, 90 masks total
  • 100 polyethylene aprons
  • 20 pairs of shoe covers
  • 16 tyvek hoodies
  • 4 tyvek coverall suits 
  • 8 pairs protective eye wear 

On the same note: earlier this week, Metra sent an email informing that ” Medical personnel on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic can ride free.” Having that those individuals are probably the only ones who are taking Metra these days, it’s very generous.

Just as I Finished Writing

Just after I published the previous post I saw a massage from our Park District:

In accordance with the Governor’s Executive Order to Shelter in Place and recommendations made by the CDC regarding large gatherings, the Palatine Park District has announced that all playgrounds, hard surface courts, and facilities are closed.
While parks and trails remain open, it is still not acceptable to be in large groups. Many people chose to disregard the Governor’s order and in return, the Park District has received an extraordinary amount of messages from concerned patrons about the volume of gatherings.
As a result, the Park District is taking further action to highly discourage those people who are ignoring the order by the Governor. Closed signs have been posted near all playgrounds. Playgrounds will be roped off with caution tape. Basketball rims have been covered, tennis and pickleball courts have been locked as well as the skate park. Soccer and lacrosse goals have been disassembled and our drinking fountains have been shut off and will remain off until further notice.
In order to complete these efforts and regulations, we must ask staff to leave the safety of their homes and expose themselves to surfaces that have been touched by thousands of people. Any of whom could be infected.
We are also working cooperatively with the Village and Police Department, and they are ready to assist with enforcement by dispersing people who do not follow the Governor’s order.
All that being said, we implore any of you who took part in the discouraged activity to seriously reconsider your actions. Please do not make us take the next step of closing down the community parks entirely. We want people to be able to get outside to get fresh air and go for a walk, but if this type of blatant disregard for the safety of others continues, we will be forced to do so.
On behalf of the Board of Park Commissioners, the Park District Staff, and all of our loved ones, please take this seriously! Do your part to flatten the curve and save lives!

What can I say? Just one thing – I am glad that I was not the only person who was concerned! I hope that people will behave responsibly!

Spring Weather

Leap year is for no good; that’s what everybody says. What a weird winter we had! “We” – meaning the whole world. There was no snow in most of the territories, and the weather was alarmingly mild. I was telling everybody – wait, winter is not over! We live in Illinois; we can have snow in April! How right and how wrong I was! It feels now that there will be winter for the whole year.
Spring never started. It tried to start a couple of times, but then winter would return. On Monday, we woke up to see everything outside covered with snow. Not just with some, but with really heavy snow.

Continue reading “Spring Weather”

The Weekend Worries

On Friday, after I called my eye doctor, then next thought which occurred to me was thought about Igor’s moving to the new place. At the end of February, Igor received a note that the lease on his apartment id not going to be renewed. For historical accuracy, I have to mention that the level of hoarding was unacceptable by his landlord standards. We all had a couple of weeks of worries, mostly because we were wondering whether his current landlord will give him a bad reference. I offered to co-sign, and he secured one place in Rogers Park. A couple of days later, it turned out that another place approved him as well, but he already signed with this Rogers Park place.

I gave him a hard time about signing the new lease starting from March 15, because it meant paying for an extra two weeks. He was not ready to move on the 15th anyway, and Vlad told him he would help him to move on the 22nd.

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Speaking About Our Favorite Grocery…

I wanted to share their message to all of their customers


We’d like to express our sincere gratitude and appreciation for our exceptional community which shows its true colors in challenging times. 
We’re overwhelmed with thanks for your loyalty and patronage. We feel so fortunate that you entrust us during these critical days.Our dedicated and trained staff are most happy when they’re helping and serving you. Our store wouldn’t be where it is today without their hard work. They make us proud every single day.
Thank you for understanding that placing limits on certain necessities is a normal occurrence. Know that we will never commit price gauging and are ashamed of grocers who do so. 
We will be making donations to our local food pantries to help those in dire need during this event. 
Please continue to practice good hygiene as we increase and enforce our efforts in keeping you safe. 

Shelter in Place in Illinois

The maximum size of the gathering of people allowed got smaller and smaller every day last week, both by the state of Illinois and by the Federal government. If quickly went down from one thousand to ten people, and then on Friday around noon, somebody posted in work slack that the governor is going to announce the shelter in place order. In three minutes, almost everybody excused themselves from work and ran out shopping before even listening to the governor’s announcement.

I did not, because I detest the idea of hoarding, and because both my fridges and my pantry were far from being empty. Besides, I didn’t fancy the idea of being in the crowd. So I didn’t. I turned on WBEZ on my phone and listened to the governor’s announcement.

I think it was a very reasonable announcement. I am pasting below the whole video, but only the first 10+ minutes are essential.

Continue reading “Shelter in Place in Illinois”

The Day When I Was Scared

My mom is not eligible for Medicare or Medicaid since she only came to the US two years ago (actually, today marks two years of her arrival!). To qualify for any federal programs, you have to stay in the country as a permanent resident for five years. Fortunately, some charities help people like her, and other people who are unable to obtain insurance.

I found out about one such program when I was getting ready for MOm’s arrival. It works great for her, but we need to renew her membership annually.

A letter with renewal forms arrived about two weeks ago. I knew I had time, and in the queue of things that had to be done, I placed filling these forms into medium urgency. Who could have known that everything will change so drastically!

On Monday, I came to Mom and asked her to sign everywhere where she had to sign herself, copied all her documents I needed to copy, and filled in the rest of the forms. The only thing left was a letter from me saying that I provide her housing and other essentials. And I needed my signature to be notaries.

What can be easier than notarizing your signature?! You go to the nearest branch of your bank and walk out with the notary in five minutes. And since it was repeatedly announced that all the banks would remain open, I didn’t think much about it.

On Wednesday, I had my four-week follow up with the left eye (Yes, it’s only four weeks after my first surgery, and only two weeks after my second one – and it seems years away!) My neighbor took me to the doctor, and I told her I would need a notary. She asked whether I will be OK to go to the bank, and I said – sure! The bank is so close that I can walk!

I walked. And I saw a note on the doors: drive-through only. The nearest branch with the lobby service is in Barrington. Not super far. I worked in Barrington for the first four years in the US. But I didn’t go in that direction for at least seven years, and it was not exactly where my old office used to be. And my vision is still suboptimal – the eye doctor said she does not want to prescribe new glasses to me until both eyes will be stable.

Continue reading “The Day When I Was Scared”

Working Out at Home – How Much You Can Do?

My local Anytime Fitness closed Wednesday night. Since March 13, every morning, I was walking there and thinking: please let it be opened!

I have a mini-gym at home, which I gradually assembled for the days when the weather is so awful that I do not want to step outside, or when I am in a real hurry. And usually, I work out at home one or two days a week.

But all these days preceding the closing, I was going to ATF in the morning because I was afraid that each time could be the last time.

On Thursday, when I was unable to open the door with my key card, it finally happened. The lights were on, and it felt so sad that I could not get in. For the record, since March 13, there were very few people in the gym. The instructions on the walls requested each piece of equipment to be wiped from top to bottom after each use. And at the time when I go (5 AM) there were from zero to three people in addition to myself.Ironically,

.Thursday was the day when at work, we were going to share with coworkers our in-home exercise routines. I thought I would need to fake it, but I was legitly exercising at home. Here are the pictures I made for our office slack channel

Continue reading “Working Out at Home – How Much You Can Do?”

If You Want to Help …

I wrote a couple of days ago, that tipped workers are in my list of the categories I worry most. In normal life, you could hardly think that bartenders and homeless have something in common, but not these days. Both of these categories of people were hurt the most by all the dining establishments being closed.  

Today, I asked Vlad how I can help. One thing he pointed out (and he already posted it earlier on his Facebook) – you could donate to the USBG COVID-19 Relief Effort. First, I wanted to write – if you want to have any of that industry alive when life gets back to normal. But you know – it does not really matter. Just donate. If you can.

The Disappearance of Volunteering

This week was a week of thing falling apart. Ok, maybe not falling apart, but shutting down, with speed I could not imagine. It’s true that two weeks ago we lived in a different country and a different world.

We were ordered to work from home last Thursday night. The four of us still showed up in the office on Friday, for a variety of reasons, including one co-worker who was off on Thursday and didn’t check corporate emails:).

I wrote about the rapid museums and cultural venues closers, which followed. I was able to catch “the last of” most of them. And no matter how much my mind can understand the necessity of closers, my soul weeps.

As I’ve already mentioned, I went to escort last Saturday. It didn’t go great, and I promised to return when it is warmer. A woman with two boys stopped her car by the clinic and came out with a huge box of Girl Scout cookies – that’s for you guys! Each of us picked one:).

Continue reading “The Disappearance of Volunteering”