Hettie’s Reflections – Blog Posts

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Welcome to Hettie’s Reflections!

Hello! My name is Hettie, I was born and raised in Saint Petersburg, Russia, and I emigrated to the United States in October 1996. I live in Palatine, IL and work in Chicago.

I’ve been very active in the Russian blogosphere, and my American friends keep asking me when I am going to tell my story in English. Well, the time has come.

I am going to write my story for my granddaughter Nadia, and for all my American friends, who has been so supportive through all these years, and hope that my children, Igor, Vlad and Anna will help me through this journey.

My Russian blog used to have “a lot of everything”, because first, I just like to write a little something every day, reflecting on everything happening in the world around me, and second – because I believe that people trust me more knowing me as a person. Everything I’ve done in my life so far, and everything I am doing every day, made me – and still making me the person I am.

This being said, although this blog is intended mostly to record our family history, there will be still “a lot of everything” here. However, for those who is interested in the history solely, I will paste all the links to the Hettie’s Timeline page, which will hopefully allow to read all these entries in a chronological order.

The links to my interviews and videos (mostly professional) will be pasted on this page, and also for those who is interested what I am doing in my professional life, feel free to check out my blog The World of Data.

My blog Hettie’s Cooking is hardly a cooking blog, at least I do not update it often. However, some of my legendary recipes, like “Mom’s soup”, can be found there.

Enjoy πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

The African Exhibit At The Art Institute p.1

On my actual birthday, Boris and I went to see the exhibit in the Art Institute called “The Language of Beauty in African Art”

That was one of the most astonishing discoveries for me! The only thing I knew about African Art was the art of Benin. Even though I saw some artworks in the Art Institute’s permanent exhibit, I didn’t explore them deeply enough.

Before I explode with a million pictures, let me summarize what was so astonishing. We know how Ancient Greek art was taken away en mass and how greeks thought for returning many of the artworks. We know about a similar struggle in Egypt. However, Greek and Egyptian art were at least studied and carefully preserved, and all the circumstances of when and where objects were found were recorded.

With African art, the situation is different. When Europeans arrived to Africa (specifically, when Germans arrived to West Africa at the end of the 19th century), they saw a “primitive” art, which looked cool, and they just took the objects of art and brought them to Europe! I am not even talking about asking for permission, or paying in some way, but they didn’t even asked what these objects meant!!!!

Looking at the exhibit, you can see that some research followed, and in many cases, you can read about language, beliefs, gods, etc. But in many cases, it’s “the purpose is unknown”, and “16 – 19 th century”, and “Southern or Western Africa”. And that’s it!

And look at all these amazing artworks! Can you see why German artists were so fascinated? Can you see how this art influenced German Expressionism and Cubism? Do you see Picaso’s big feet and Modigliani’s women?

We had to leave after almost two hours because of emotional and informational overload, and we haven’t see about a third of this exhibit. And as I said, I have tons of photos. Posting some here, and hopefully more later.

Continue reading “The African Exhibit At The Art Institute p.1”

My Birthday Celebration

It feels like the whole birthday week with Boris being here since the 14th, with so many birthday wishes and things I’ve done during the week. On Saturday, Vlad and Anna organized a big party for me, and many of my friends came.

There were some dramatic moments with an original venue going out of business and too many people being unable to come due to COVID (either being sick or quarantining or deciding not to risk). Still, it was a great event, and I am very thankful to Vlad and Anna for organizing it!

I think there are more pictures around, and if I finally collect them from everyone taking pictures, I will post more :).

Steppenwolf: The Last Out

Last out: Elegy of a Green Beret was only performed twice – on Friday and Saturday. I immediately got two tickets for Friday when I saw an email about it. I received at least two content advisory emails, but I was still completely unprepared for what I saw.

Two days later, I do not know how to write about it. It was an extremely emotional experience. All of the cast members were veterans, and I think that at least a third of the audience were veterans, and many people in the audience cried. I felt like this was not a show for me, and at the same time, I felt that I needed to know and at least try to understand how people feel. And then again, it seemed impossible…

All I Want For My Birthday…

… is still the same – Victory for Ukraine. The last several days didn’t provide any hope here. There is a lot of grief and lots of casualties.

My birthday is technically already here:). I am sixty now. And there will be a birthday party which Vlad and Anna are putting together. I already know that some people I wanted to see won’t be able to make it, but I still hope to see lots of my friends.

And also… I shared a list of my favorite charities on most of my social media, but to be honest, the one that feels the most important now is the defense of Ukraine.