In Chicago For the First Time in Two Months

Since we are likely to continue working from home for another two months or so, we are getting additional monitors for working from home. First, I thought I do not need a second monitor, and I am not going to ask for one. I thought there is not enough room on my desk. But Boris suggested to bring my “fitness monitor” downstairs and check how it will fit.

I brought it down, plugged it in, and realized that I completely forgot how nice is it to have a second monitor. I didn’t want to unplug it!

So I signed up. I could choose either office pickup or home delivery. First, I wanted to go to the office for pickup. Then I thought that I won’t be able to carry a monitor in my hands, and signed up for home delivery. And then I realized that I could take my luggage and put the monitor in it. And I changed my preference again:)

Today was the day. I took a 10-25 train to the city, walked around a little bit, and got to the office at 11-45, as I signed up. The building is opened, and there are the same people at the reception, only wearing masks. I got up to the 8th floor to our office. I do not know what I was imagining, but the fact that the elevators were working, and there was electricity in the office, and that I saw my boss, all felt very reassuring.

And overall, the city gave me this feeling that it is staying strong and making it through – not like when I was there in mid-March. Back then, I had a feeling that very soon it will be the scene from the “Divergent” movie.

On the train. There were just two people in my car, but I saw several people with bikes when I was boarding, and the car next to mine had a dozen of passengers. Nobody checks the tickets.

Continue reading “In Chicago For the First Time in Two Months”

State of Mind, State of Health, State of Body, State of Finances, State of the State of Illinois

Today is May 1st, and the weather was gorgeous. I will do my best not to write about what I didn’t do today, but instead, to write about something I did :).

This week, I started to wear contact lenses again. On Tuesday, there were eight weeks past my second cataract surgery, and by all medical advice, I could start. I was freaking out because the implants are so close to the surface, I can see them. And I only started to wear soft contacts in October, and then stopped at the end of January, so I am not very skilled with them. Taking them off is the scariest thing because you almost scratch the eye. Besides, my eyes are still dry after the surgery, 

I started from just two hours on Tuesday and wore them for eight hours today. Some days, I can’t put on or take off one of the contacts for a very long time, but overall, things are fine. The only weird thing is that my close vision is way worse in the contacts than in glasses. 

Unfortunately, my eye doctor won’t start seeing patients in May, which means I won’t have a better prescription for a while.  

Continue reading “State of Mind, State of Health, State of Body, State of Finances, State of the State of Illinois”

I Miss the City

I miss Chicago really badly, but I can’t find any essential reason to travel, and thereby I am not going there. It’s not only to obey to the governor’s orders but also because I am the only person which my mom is in contact, and I do not want to risk to bring something back to her.

I saw this footage on the WBEZ site and wanted to share:

Drone footage of Chicago under quarantine

The Spanish Flu in Chicago in 1918

Last week, Chicago Tribune published an excellent article about the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918-1919. It contains multiple images for Tribune articles from that time. Here is a link to the article, but since I do not really trust Tribune articles to be on place indefinitely, I saved here a substantial portion of the pictures.

I am not going to comment on them – otherwise it would be easier to copy the whole article. I think that the pictures speak for themselves. What is terrifying, however is the striking similarity between the current situation and what was going on at that time. And what is even more striking and more terrifying is how fast these grim pages of history were forgotten.

I have to admit that one of the reasons I underestimated the magnitude of disaster in the beginning was my unawareness of how the Spanish flue looked like. I was thinking: OK, there was a biggest pandemic ever, and it is barely mentioned in the history of the 20th century. The world survived. Now, that I am reading these archived articles, and I am looking at that pictures of which at least 80 percent I never saw I realize the depth of the tragedy.

Just take a look at the one-hundred years old headlines: masks, hand-washing, Lysol(!!!), schools, movies theaters and public dancing are closed. The lift of quarantine, and almost immediately the next spike follows. There was no vaccine, and there was no reliable diagnostics. And no ventilators for that matter… 40,000 people got sickened in Chicago, and 10,000 of them died…

t. Louis Red Cross Motor Corps on duty during the American Influenza epidemic in 1918.
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How the State of Illinois is Doing

I am a renter – I pay for mom’s apartment, and I am doing it for the third year now. However, it was for the first time that in the second week of April, I received an email from mom’s property management company: thank you for paying your rent! Igor told me that his property management sent a similar email, which proves one more time the magnitude of the April rent problem. I know that there were lots of petitions for waving the April rent, and then the property owners were trying to secure delays on their mortgage payments… you know the story. The situation in Illinois is not better than in other states. That being said, I am happy that both my sons have jobs at the moment, although with reduced income.

I hear a lot of conversations on the radio on how the current crisis is going to change the world. But when the commentators say “the world,” they mean the United States. Hopes are that some of the measures which are taken as temporal, like guaranteed sick leave, extended unemployment coverage will stay. And that people will be more inclined to consider some form of Universal Health Care, and that the UBI won’t be dismissed on the spot. I share these hopes.

And now I want to talk a little bit more about the state of affairs in Illinois. I’ve already mentioned multiple times that the current presidency made me extremely appreciative of the principles of federalism. I voted for Pritzker in 2018, and never regretted it. I try to make time to listen in to most of his briefings. He is particular, very open, and he genuinely cares about people.

On Sunday, the reporters were asking him the “when” question, and he was explaining over and over that he understands they want a definite answer, and everybody wants it, and he wants it, but there is no way to tell. The reporters kept asking: now, that it’s getting warmer, will he consider opening some parks and golf courses? One reporter was pleading: can we open the Lakefront? Yes, I know, that weekend, it was horrible, I understand, but can we please try one more time? We will be better! Can you please give us another chance?!

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Igor’s Photos

I am not coming to Chicago anymore, and it will be a while until I will be able to come. I never took Chicago for granted, and used to be overjoyed each and single time I step out of the train station into the city…

I know it is safer to live in the suburbs these days. And I know that these days a city is not what it used to be. Igor took some pictures of Chicago on quarantine, and I am going to paste some of them below (and I have no idea how to make them bigger!)

A view from Loyla 'L' station inbound platform
Edgewater in a fog
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My Personal Donation List

No pressure:). Just wanted to share the list of fundraising efforts/organizations which I support during these difficult times.

As I’ve mentioned earlier, Chicago’s bars were hit hard from day one, because they can’t even switch to the carry-out/delivery. I’ve already posted this fundraiser:

US Beverage Group :

And here are two more, for those people who’ve been in Chicago, been there with me, and might remember the people behind the names of the places.

Elixer/Replay Andersonville:

The Gage:

Both of those are relief funds, not to support the business itself, but to give directly to all these people who greeted you with a smile and sent to your tables “desserts on the house.”

And now about most vulnerable people.

I made an additional donation to the Night Ministry. Volunteers can’t help anymore, and you can (or can’t!) imagine what Chicago’s homeless population is experiencing these days.

And also to the Greater Chicago Food depository:

Their situation was far from perfect even before the current events, and now it is worse than ever.

Also, all of the museums where I am a member promise to extend the membership to the duration of time they are going to stay close. I am planning to renew at my regular time and donate the unused money. And I think I will do the same with my CSO subscription and with Whenever Goodman.

That might be a very egotistical list, but I wanted to share.

And Another Positive Thing

I frequently visit Vanille Chicago French Market location (its under the tracks of Ogilvie transportation center). I also ordered from them several times, including my Mom’s 85th birthday cake. So there is no surprise I receive lots of promotional offers from them.

Last week, they sent an email: Monday is going to be a National Macaroon Day. Since we can’t celebrate it in the store, we offer a special – two dozen macaroons for a price of one, plus free delivery.

I ordered two sets: one went to Wisconsin, to Anna and family, and another – to my address. I sent one of my boxes to Vlad and Dylon, and the last one is mine :). I liked how they packaged the macaroons:

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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.