We Are Moving Again, My Friends!

Today, I gave the news to Katia and Misha. I hugged them tight and moved them upstairs into my bedroom. I am getting the first floor ready to be painted, and I need to remove all the small objects. Of course, Katia and Misha are not objects, but the painters don’t know.

When I picked them up to take them upstairs, I realized that I didn’t tell them that they would move to the fourth home in their long lives.

They feel so real, especially Katia. I do not know how a real cub would feel in my arms, so I can’t be sure about Misha. But when you hold Katia, you have a complete feel of holding a baby. She is as real as she could be. I touched her nose with mine and then kissed her on her cheek. We are up for another adventure, friends!

***

I told mom about the move and about everything I know so far about the house and the neighborhood. I told her that she would feel better there because there will be sidewalks and people on the streets and parks with benches. However, she kept saying: all that matters is that I will be close to you. It feels really sad. She is saying that she is my fourth child now, and that’s pretty close to reality. I was trying to tell her that all I want for her is to live a happy and peaceful life. But wherever the conversation goes, it comes to the point that she can’t be away from me, just like a small child. The only thing she worried about with our timeline was how long she would have to stay in Palatine after I move.

Nothing I can do about it, but it makes me think that there is a sad irony in this situation. When I was a child, she did everything she could to cultivate my unhealthy attachment to her so that I could not be happy when she was away. And now she feels the same way. And I know that I could even yell at her, and she won’t protest. It does not make me happy. I wish she won’t be such a controlling personality when I was a child and that she would be a happier person now. But it is what it is.

About People’s Interactions

I liked how my Wednesday’s meetup went. I only regret that I didn’t put enough time into advertising, and there were not many people attending. The talk was brilliant. It was new Bruce’s talk “Democratization of Databases,” where he talks about opensource products and how their development is different from commercial products. 

Our discussion ended up being rather political; that’s why I am not posting it on my professional blog.

But you know, I think it was very appropriate. There are times when you have to be political, times when you can’t enclose yourself in your professional world. And now is that kind of time. 

On another note, I started to assemble my team of volunteers. And now, when I started, I do not know how I lived without any help! I felt so good when people responded to my call. When they started to reach out telling me that they want to help, to give back. One of the people who reached out told me: I want to compensate for all these times when I would just come and sit in the corner, listen to the talks, eat pizza and go back home. 

I can see now how many things we didn’t do to give us more publicity. Interestingly, when I talk to other people about giving their enterprise more publicity, I name all these things I didn’t do myself :). I hope that by the time of the next meetup, things will start to look different.

This week was very intense. I had many things going on at work, and I also had to talk to many people for a very long time :). I can’t recall this level of interactions I was involved in since the pre-pandemic times. I am tired, but I also feel very good. I feel empowered by people’s responses. 

And Yet Again – Masks

I am deeply saddened by all the no-masks-and-everything-is-open in Russia. I resolved a long time ago not to argue with my compatriots about mask-wearing and do not comment on their posts about gathering with friends, visiting older relatives, attending theater performances, and such. 

I hardly know anybody in Russia who did not have COVID. And I know way too many older and immuno-compromised people who didn’t survive. My mom lost lots of her friends, or her friends lost their husbands. And I do not buy these arguments that “they were old anyway.” I just do not understand how it proves anything.

On Saturday, Boris told me that professor Romanovsky passed away. He was the Operations Research Lab leader in our university, Boris’s boss at some point. I attended a number of his classes. Yes, he was the same age as my mom, so what? My mom is alive. 

When I talked to Anna about that, she commented that the country reached herd immunity by sacrificing the older and immunocompromised population, and I have nothing to add. 

Yesterday, I read a blog post of my friend from a small town in the Ural mountains. Her older son has severe cerebral palsy, and for almost a year, she is holding the fort. She wrote about a delivery driver who walked into her apartment instead of staying outside. I asked her: was he wearing a mask? For which she replied: of course, not. 

It’s absurd. It’s worse than in Georgia. 

One Of My Not-Exactly-New-Year Resolutions

A friend told me about a new fitness facility that she went to check out last week. There were a hefty annual membership fee and a lot of amenities available for that price, and she was trying to figure out whether the benefits are worth the money.

I asked her: do you want me to tell you my opinion? I am asking you because some time ago, I resolved not to give unsolicited bits of advice and to avoid advising in general. She said – yes, and we had a productive conversation. This exchange reminded me that I wanted to write a blog post about this big change.

Previously, I complained that when I blog about something that happened to me, people start to dispense their pieces of advice and suggestions. However, if I blog about something, it does not necessarily mean that I want any pieces of advice from the audience. And then I thought that I am often guilty of the same behavior. When I read something I disagree with, I used to be fast expressing my opinion about how people should think, feel, and act.

There are still plenty of issues I am not going to be silent about. I will never let go of any expressions of discrimination, racial, gender-based, or anything. I will continue to express and defend my political views, the ideas of social justice and equality. But I am not going to tell people who they should behave, what personal choices they should make and such. I will continue to write about my life, what I am doing, what I am thinking about, and why I make these choices.
My writing may be an inspiration for some people, and that would be great. Those of my friends who look up at me, who see my life as an inspiration, do not need preaching :).

That’s one of my pandemic thinking outcomes: let people do things they want to do the way they like it to be done. “My way” is not the only way, and even not the only right way. Yea, it should not have taken so long 🙂

Spring Mood

A week ago, I could not imagine seeing the snow disappearing in earlier than three weeks. But the amazing warmth and sun did their job. Soon, I will stop being jealous of my friends posting the first spring blooms 🙂
The only thing I can post at the moment is the melting ice, but still…

I am in such a spring mood now! There were several big decisions I had to make, and although none of them materialized in actions yet, I know what I want, and I know which way to go. And I can tell that that’s really what I want to do because I smile when I think about it and because I am calm and content. I even attended a yoga class online yesterday, something I didn’t do for months :). 

Reading Sophia Tolstaya Diaries

Some time ago, my friend posted several blog posts about Sophia Tolstaya, Leo Tolstoy’s wife’s Diaries. These posts prompted me to start reading.

It is a massive book; the diaries cover all her marital life, and at first, I wondered why I even started reading it and whether it is worth finishing. I never hesitate to drop the book if it does not feel engaging; that’s why my booklists end up being relatively short.

I had a completely different impression about Tolstoy and Sophia Tolstaya and their family life than my friend did. At some point, I thought that “I already got it,” and there is no reason to keep reading over and over about similar activities day by day, about the visitors, etc. But to my surprise, I found myself drawn to that book, and the more into the book, the more I got interested.

Continue reading “Reading Sophia Tolstaya Diaries”

How I Feel These Days

There are too many good things happening! Unfortunately, at the same time, I have another wave of stress because-everything-is-falling-apart at work, but still.

Objectively, there are too many things going great. First and foremost, the news and politics feel surreally normal. I do not know how else to describe them. Something we dreamed about for all these long four years, and now that it happened, it feels like you are dreaming 🙂

Then my birthday, when I felt so loved by everybody, with all the gifts being so thoughtful, with all the conversations I had these days.

And then the announcement of the book and the postgres_air database! My LinkedIn account exploded! I want to check whether there are more reactions than on my Technologist of the Year announcement, but I think that’s true :).

Political

You might not believe it, but I planned to write a political post yesterday, way before everything happened. 

I wanted to write it because I read my very liberal friends’ blog post a couple of weeks ago. She said that Trump didn’t create any permanent damage to society. That yes, he was annoying and embarrassing, but it’s not like he ruined something. 

I didn’t want to comment on her blog because I am avoiding writing about politics in the Russian blogosphere. I am genuinely admiring her patience and willingness to talk to her blog guests, but I do not feel I can match up. However, I wanted to reply not only to her but also to other people who, at least until yesterday, expressed the same sentiment. 

From the beginning of Trump’s presidency, I thought that the worst thing he did to American society is that he gave this indulgence to people to be not civil. While society was changing and accepting more humanitarian values, it slowly became unacceptable to be openly racist. To be anti-LGBTQ. To be a misogynist. And here comes Trump and says: it’s fine. You can do it. You can be racist. You can hate other people. Moreover, you can say it out loud. It became so much easier for people to display the worst of them. 

And this will not be so easy to revert. 

And one more comment which is somewhat related to the first one.

I heard from many people, even those who consider themselves progressive, that they do not understand why diversity matters.

They say it when Biden is praised for assembling the most diverse cabinet ever. Their rationale is: people should be assigned to the high posts based on their qualifications, not on their race or gender.

Let me tell you why diversity is important, especially in situations like choosing the cabinet.

The truth is that nobody performs the country-wide search for objectively the best possible person to fill a position. There is a pool of candidates known to the president-elect, judged not only by their professional qualifications but also by whether the president-elect feels comfortable working with them. In short, even if candidates are selected based on their qualifications, the pool of candidates itself is selected based on some assumptions. And unfortunately, quite often, these assumptions work against minorities. They are being dropped from the initial circle of consideration. And this happens more often than anybody can imagine. And not only when choosing the cabinet members, but on all levels.

That’s why having a diverse cabinet matter.

I wrote all of the above before yesterday’s events. Actually, for over a week, I had this post “almost ready” and didn’t have ten minutes to finalize it. And yesterdays’ events only reaffirmed my opinion.