2021/2022

I know that I am at least two weeks late with this post, but it’s only in the past two days that I found some time to write it all, although it was in my head for quite a while. Here it goes.

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As I’ve said multiple times, what a year!!! Although all changes were for good at the end of the year, and I am ending on the positive side of things, it was too much! Because of so many things happening, I inevitably “lost” some things; that is, I had no time to do everything I wanted. 

The most important thing in 2021 was my move. I could not imagine the extent to which it would change my life before it happened, neither could I foresee many of the individual changes. It’s too early to be sure – I have lived in Rogers Park for less than a year – but I think that the impact of this event on my life may be the closest to my move to the US; so many things have changed! 

Besides the move, it was:

  • our book was published
  • I sold my car, and after 24 years of driving, became a non-driver
  • I changed job
  • Sold my old house
  • Refinanced my new house, which dramatically improved my financial situation
  • changed job one more time, and became a part of the EDB family

Both job changes were accompanied by a lot of rethinking what I want from a job, what is important to me, what I think about myself, and my impact on the Universe. 

I want to be very clear – I do not regret making the first career move this year. I learned a lot during this shortest tenure I ever had, and I will never look the same way at many aspects of database development. I have a different level of expectations: for myself and the Postgres community. On the other hand, I’ve experienced the biggest personal and professional disappointment in my life. Chad was such an important figure for me for over twenty years that I still feel the void. The irony of the situation is that many years ago, his influence helped me to become this very person who can’t tolerate the behavior he demonstrated. He is definitely my “person of the year” – in the Times magazine meaning. 

As for my second career move, the impact was also unexpected. I didn’t expect it to be such a big deal as it turned to be. I didn’t know how different that consulting was going to be. And in any case, I am just starting!

And one more big change of the year. I think that has been going on for a couple of years now, but I heard it in these terms only this summer. My then-new coworker exclaimed during our group lunch: oh, you are famous! How does it feel to be famous? I replied that I felt it was an extra responsibility, it’s that I needed to think twice before saying or typing something. That I know what I say makes an impact. I know that people listen and judge. 

And here are my hopes and my resolutions for 2022.

Work-life integration

  • I want 2022 to be less eventful than 2021! It was too much!
  • I do not want to change jobs in 2022. I want to stay where I am now, at least for 1.5 years. 
  • I want to use my position as an EDB employee to make many things, and especially NORM, happen in Postgres.
  • I want to resume my activities on building and maintaining Chicago PUG. I didn’t do it well in the past 3 or 4 months, and I need to change it. 
  • I need to learn to work from home. I remember that there were times when I liked it. I do not like it anymore, and there are too many things which fit nicely in my life when I work in the office. I need to learn to organize my life working from home, not just a couple of times a week but all the time. 
  • On that subject, I need to re-evaluate what I spend time on. Now that I am more financially stable than ever, I should learn to spend money rather than time in many situations, from taking Uber more often to purchasing more food online. 
  • I want to finally get on a more normal sleep schedule and not try to sleep less than I need.

Finances

  • I want to continue saving more than I did in previous years to invest more in my retirement and rainy day fund.
  • I need to stick to the schedule I developed to pay off my mortgage ahead of time; by the time I retire.
  • I need to look at how much and which causes I donate and restructure my donations. Overall, to give more. 

People and relationships

  • I want to make more time to people in my life, both “live” and virtually, not to abandon relationships because of “lack of time.”
  • I need to learn to be more patient with mom because my time with her does not benefit me if I am impatient. If I want to do something good for her, I need to be patient and supportive.
  • Allocate time for social media, both Russian and English; different media for different reasons, but if I keep certain social media accounts, there is a reason for each of them.
  • And I need to use this time more productively.

I guess, to summarize, I need to rethink what I spend my time on.

I am not writing anything about my personal life here. Not because there are no goals, but because we have goals regardless of the beginning of the year, and I hope that we will continue to work on our relationships the same way as we did in the second half of 2021. 

That being said, hello 2022!

Kenosha after the Rittenhouse verdict – calm in the eye of the storm

The day after the jury found Kyle Rittenhouse not guilty of all charges related to him killing two people and wounding a third, I took the 12:51 PM train to Kenosha, not sure what to expect.

I wasn’t expecting the kind of rioting and looting that rocked Kenosha in the wake of the shooting of Jacob Blake, which inspired Rittenhouse to drive to the city and play vigilante. I agreed with several other journalists that mentioned on Twitter that the weather was way too cold for this kind of thing. But I figured there might be protests. And, honestly, I was curious if we might see something like the mass painting of murals on the plywood I saw when I went to Kenosha on Aug. 28, 2020, three days after Rittenhouse shot three people and five days after Blake was shot. That came as a complete, albeit pleasant surprise to me at the time.

I’ve blogged about that visit, and the visit in October of the same year. Since then, I’ve been to Kenosha in March of this year and in the end of May. I saw more and more plywood come down. In March, I read an article in Kenosha News I got at Kroger’s about how the city really wanted businesses to take the plywood down, and saw in the end of May that, while most did, a few didn’t. In those two times – it wasn’t as if the events of last summer, of the then-upcoming Rittenhouse trial, weren’t on people’s minds, but it wasn’t what people focused on. I was curious how people were feeling now, when at least one chapter of this saga is over.

Some words about my feelings on the verdict. I wasn’t able to follow the trial as closely as I would’ve liked – I still have work, and writing of the creative kind – but, from what I’ve seen and read, I thought the prosecution didn’t make the best case. And there the fact that Wisconsin law, like the law in some other states, allows people to brandish firearms who have no business brandishing firearms, and gives too much leeway to people claiming self-defense. Two people died, one of whom was unarmed. There have to be consequences for that. Maybe not life in prison type consequences, but consequences nonetheless.

I’ve heard some variation of the statement that this would have played out differently if Rittenhouse was black, and I think there is something to it, in the sense that, one of the things covering majority-black neighborhoods taught me was we as the American society more readily assume danger when it comes to Black men, even Black kids, the way we don’t necessarily do with white kids. An African-American teen brandishing a rifle would’ve gotten more concern, I doubt police would’ve been allowed him to just walk away and I think the jury would’ve been less inclined to see him as a scared kid fighting for his life.

I wanted to go to Kenosha on Friday, when the verdict was announced, but Metra Union Pacific North Line schedule, which already didn’t have that many trips to Kenosha, only got worse since my last visit. The only way to get to Kenosha now is to take an early morning train, and the only evening train returning to Chicago is earlier than ever. But Saturday schedule, which was restored at the end of May, is still more flexible in that regard. I still managed to miss an earlier morning train, but at least the Saturday schedule had a noon option.

Like I said, I expected that there might be a protest, maybe a rally, maybe a handful of protesters at the courthouse. But that’s not what I found in Kenosha.

Continue reading “Kenosha after the Rittenhouse verdict – calm in the eye of the storm”

Egalia’s Daughters – A Book Review

I do not remember where I first saw this book (Egalia’s Daughters) mentioned, but I remember that a short description intrigued me, and I went to look for it. I found out that this book is not available neither as an audiobook nor as any type of e-book. After some hesitation, I decided to read a paper book ( the thing I didn’t do for a while). Although now my vision is much better than at the time when I stopped reading paper books and technically speaking, I can read them now, it was still a challenge. I excluded paper books from my life several years ago and could not find a place for them:). I purchased this book in July, and I thought I would make it a beach reading. But as I mentioned before, the beach time appeared so tranquilizing that I didn’t want to do anything at the beach, including the book reading. ‘s

Time passed, and I still could not go beyond the first hundred pages until I decided to take it to read on a plane. I read most of it on the flight to Helsinki and back, and after that, I used every spare minute to finish :). 

This book is brilliant. Just brilliant. I had never read anything like this before! If you try to describe this book in one sentence, it will be trivial like “gender-reversed,” but it’s so much more than that! Man wear skirts and obey their wives, and wives wear pants, drink, smoke, and swear – that is trivial, and it won’t be so interesting. What makes this book incredible is that it demonstrates how ridiculous all references to the “natural order” are when somebody tries to justify the subdued role of women in society, appealing to “nature,” “biology,” and “things always were that way.” It turns out that one can perfectly well justify that men, not women, should care for children and that they are “biologically more suited” to that role. That man “won’t benefit from additional education.” That “a man on a boat is a trouble.” That “men should not exercise.” Oh, and by the way, they are not “men” anymore. Because there are “wim” (wom singular) and there are “manwin” (manwom singular). And a lot of words that are derived from “man” are modified in a similar way. 

Well, you just have to read it. Nothing will prove the absurdity of assigning gender roles that the book assigns them backward. Or that IS indeed the right way:)? 

Can You Choose Your House Buyer?

Some time ago, I had a conversation with one of my Instagram friends. She lives in Germany, and she was talking about people buying and selling houses there. She posted about the application process and how prospective buyers write essays just like you do when applying for college. They try to convince the seller why they are the best candidates for this acquisition.

I told my friend that in the US, things are different and that most of the time, the seller and the buyer do not know each other. She asked me whether, in my case, the association had a word in who would be the next owner, and I told her – no, I didn’t know anything about the association; it was all an extra bonus.

Then I thought about that difference, and I think it comes to the fact that we want to avoid unfair treatment. We all know that Black people are being approved for a mortgage at a lower rate than White, and you remember what I learned about my old house sale. Not knowing your buyer provides at least some assurance of objectivity.

Another aspect is a clear distinction between neighborhoods, which is especially pronounced in Chicago. I knew nothing about this association, but I knew that I was moving to Rogers Park, and this fact set the scene. For many people, it’s a desirable destination, but not for everybody.

Neighborhoods and not gated communities either. This year, there were a lot of changes in my condominium, and the veterans are excitedly saying that “now we have diversity.” Not that much, but at least there are people of different races and people speaking different languages. We shall see how things will turn, but I do not think we will ever get to the point of buyers’ essays 🙂

The Lake. Yes, One More Time :)

I continue to develop my relationships with the Lake. And finding the moments when I can genuinely connect with it. Each time I am at Loyola beach, I can’t believe how lucky I am. That’s one of the least anticipated things in my big move and a big change in my life.

Boris told me he does not understand what’s the point of being on the beach. He would rather swim in the pool (Olympic size), and he would rather not be in the sun at all.
For me, the beach experience means having it all at once: having the Lake close by, listening to its sounds, immersing myself into its waters, feeling the surface of the Earth under my back, and most importantly, the sense of “letting it all go.”


The fewer people around – the better, but surprisingly often, I feel this connection even with many people around. In the moments like this, other beachgoers become a part of what makes the Lake so special.
The beach is very crowded on hot days, and sometimes I feel that I should let other people enjoy it – for those who do not have central air conditioning (and there are plenty in our neighborhood), being close to the water is almost a necessity. They say around here that the beach is our common backyard, and ain’t we all so lucky to have it?!

Being close to the Lake was not on my checklist when I was looking for my new home, so I consider it to be pure luck that I ended up here 🙂
On Friday, I came to the beach at 7:03 PM, and it was the most perfect unwinding I could imagine. I laid on the sand, and the seagulls were flying over me, cicadas were louder than ever, the night was warm, the air was silky,

Thank you to those above us for creating Lake Michigan, creating August, and making the air velvety on this perfect night. And may we have many more nights like this.
Seriously, I can’t get enough of them

The Warsaw Orphan

For a couple of weeks, I was reading five different books simultaneously, and this week, I finished two of them. The first one was The Warsaw Orphan by Kelly Rimmer.

The last chapters of the novel were the most unexpected, and most touching to me. While I read enough literature and memoirs of people who survived the Holocaust and the Warsaw Uprising, the part I never understood was how the same people came to terms with the Soviet occupation and feel Poland being their country even under the Communist regime. I tried to understand it when I visited Poland, the country of my ancestors, in the late 80s and 90s. I read this novel as a story of the souls crippled by the horrors of the war, about healing, and rebuilding their lives in the less than ideal circumstances.

No TV?!

Another long-overdue thing was finding a way to mount the large monitor I am using instead of the TV. I do not have any TV services for many years, nor do I do Netflix or anything like that. It does not mean I am not enjoying the movies, but it is always a special occasion. I either go to the movie theater to watch something extra special or rent something online and watch (by myself or with somebody).

Still, I need a large monitor to watch movies with somebody. In my old house, I put a large monitor where my old TV set used to be. I could not find a similarly situated place in my new house; besides, I didn’t want a large thing that I do not often use to occupy a significant space and to on the view at all times.

Boris suggested a rolling TV cart, but Vlad rejected it, saying that it won’t help – I will still need to store it “somewhere”. Boris backed up and suggested another desk mount (the one I had could not hold the weight of the monitor). He chose a model, but it arrived after he left. When Anna & family visited last time, I asked them to attach a monitor, but it turned out that this desk mount could not be attached because of the shape of the monitor.

I started to look again, but I could not find any other model high enough and hold the weight. Finally, I decided to change the course and started to look for the TV mount. That is, after two months of search, I was back to Boris’s original idea. Funny story – it turned out that although the attachment was “universal,” it still didn’t work with the shape of this monitor! The only way we made it work was to shift the position of the mounting brackets, so now they stick up like two horns :). But the whole thing works beautifully! The stand has wheels, and in normal position, it stands behind my desk occupying zero extra space. It can be easily pulled forward, and then people sitting in the living room can watch. Or it can be pulled to the sunroom, where there are more electric outlets there, and there is a shelf for a laptop. I can even roll it into the dining room!

Yes, and as for the title of this post… As I said, I do not have television for years, if not decades, but since in my old house there was a large object sitting where people would expect to have a TV set, nobody asked this question, And at my new place, the first thing most people would ask is “Where is your TV?” or just “And no TV?!”

🙂 🙂 🙂

Books About Pandemic

I wanted to mention two books that I recently finished; both are about the COVID pandemic. 

The first one is The Premonition, and the second is The Plague Year. It may feel that it’s “too early” to write books about the pandemic, especially because we are not out of it yet. But I think that both books are very timely. 

As you can imagine, the contents of both books overlap significantly, but even when they talk about the same events, they view them from slightly different perspectives. The first book focuses more on the political side of things, Trump’s inadequate response to the thread, and the health care officials who stood up against it. The second book touches more on science, epidemiology, details of vaccine development. 

Both are very informative. Some things I learned: 

  • that the vaccine was technically “ready” before the start of the pandemic; the scientists had to plug in the genome details; that’s why it was developed so fast
  • that most of the decisions about opening/closing/guaranteeing, which looked erratic at least, were based on multiple AI models. For example, there are certain estimates on the effect of schools closing depending on the level of infections at the time of closing.
  • more detail on the shortage of swabs for tests
  • why there were so many questions on the origin of the virus

And many other things! 

Also, these books allowed me to recall the events of the past sixteen months, how our knowledge about the virus changed, and how and why the health officials’ guidelines evolved.