Only In Chicago!

It is in the mid-40s and sunny. And almost no wind. Amazing weather for the past couple of days.

On Tuesday, I was in the office and went skating during the lunch break. Today,

I had unplanned work from home and went biking during the lunch break.

How is it possible that the weather is perfect for both?!

‘Only in Chicago! (c)

New Year

Like last year (and actually a year before and a year before that), Igor and mom came to my place to celebrate the New Year “at Saint Petersburg time. All the previous years it was not a big deal, and actually, this year it was not a big deal either, but having the situation at the front, I could not make myself display any cheer.

Mom got upset (although she didn’t complain), but everything was civil. I made dinner – nothing fancy, but things both mom and Igor like – borsch, meatloaf, roasted and mashed potatoes. I also baked pumpkin muffins and made tiramisu.

Mom kept saying she always had to celebrate the “Russian” new year alone, which is not true. Last year, we had to get together a little later because I was working, but that was an exception, and we still got together. We watched “The mask ball night;” this time, mom could hear everything, and hopefully, she will remember that we watched it. Then Igor took her home and later came back so that we could go see the New Year fireworks.

There were no Grant Park fireworks this year, so we went to Oak Street beach to watch the Navy Pier fireworks. The weather was perfect, and forecasted rain never materialized, and the air was clear.

The fireworks themselves were much more fun than last year, so I guess the only thing I want now is to have the same quality public fireworks :).

Another good thing was that the train back came right away, so it was nothing like last year, although the number of smokers in the cars was above average. And another interesting thing is that there were a lot of people at each stop, exiting and entering the train, and I kept wondering where they were going πŸ™‚

Our Magical City

When I see Chicago decorated with holiday lights, the only thing I can say is, “What a beautiful city we live in!”

Several years ago, at one of the Caroling at the Clod Gate concerts, I heard somebody near me say this. And I remember I felt I could relate: you come to Millennium Park, look around, and see this beauty as if for the first time. And you are breathless!

Each time I come to the Chicago Architectural Center, I fee the same way! I want to repeat it over and over: what

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About Holiday Lights (And Those Who Don’t Have Them)

On Tuesday, when I walked from my office to the Orchestra Hall, the city was all illuminated. That’s one of my favorite things during the holiday season: I like to walk in the Loop and stare at the office and shop windows at all the Christmas trees and decorations. The weather was very nice, above freezing and no rain, and I had my red coat on and a new small black hat.

I took a couple of pictures, and then suddenly I thought: how lucky we are to have all these lights, and how horrible is it that cities in Ukraine are not only without holiday lights but lights in general, and also without heat and water. And when I thought about it once, I could not go back to blissful ignorance. That is one of the things I was trying to explain last week – the feeling is not precisely Christmas – like.

Uber Crisis

Recently, I often have had trouble getting an Uber ride right away. I first noticed it after the late evening concerts, and I learned that I have to wait or start walking away from the venue or both. But last Friday, I could not get Uber to go to the airport for more than 20 minutes, and then we hit the rush hour!

I had a very interesting conversation with the driver. He told me that the share Uber pays to the drivers is relatively small and does not reflect what the passenger pays. That’s why, he continued, drivers no longer want to pick the airport rides. He said that he is considering becoming a CTA bus driver. He mentioned that the bus driver’s pay used to be very low, but now they are paid $40/hour and have insurance and other benefits. I asked him whether Lift or any cab service would be better, but his advice about getting to the airport was to use the train!
I need to think about it πŸ™‚

Wrapping Up The Weekend

The most important outcome of this weekend was that I finished my presentation for PG Conf EU. That was a huge undertaking: I didn’t realize how much time it would take to build a new example with a sizable data volume when I submitted the proposal. It took me ten times longer to prepare this presentation than I thought it would take.

I challenged myself by announcing that I would deliver a rehearsal of my talk on October 18 at the Chicago PUG meetup. That meant that today was my last day (I am making dinner at the shelter on Monday).

I am glad that I could make this task a priority, but at the same time, I didn’t abandon everything: although for half a day only, Igor and I went to the Open House Chicago. Since both of us were time-constrained, Igor decided to focus on Rogers Park and Evanston (which we never did before).

I was most impressed with the Park Castle Condominiums. They were built in the late 1920s and went bankrupt ten years later.

The indoor swimming pool is astonishing!
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Joffrey Ballet

If I won’t return my ticket for the Music of Baroque concert, I would have three concerts in a row (and other cultural events Friday and Saturday :)). Yesterday, I saw “Beyond the borders” performance at Joffrey Ballet.

It consisted of three independent pieces: Vespertine by Liam Scarlett, Colorem by Da Silva, and the remake of Suite Saint-SaΓ«ns by Gerald Arpino. The last piece should have been supposedly the best of all three, and judging by the audience reaction, that’s how most patrons felt, but I loved the first two way more, and I am not even sure which of them was the best. These two pieces of choreography as so unusual, so blowing-away, I stared at the stage as if I am hypnotized all the time. Unfortunately, I could not find good pictures of these pieces anywhere on the web, maybe, they will appear later. I still hope that these two photographs from Vespertine give some sense of how it looked!

Once again, there were not that many people in the audience, and I have no idea why – the show is brilliant!

Today In The City

(Just realized that my yesterday’s post was left unpublished, so there will be three today :))

I saw on Instagram that the previous two weeks of escorting were brutal. My fellow escorts told me they saw up to fifty antis altogether (in shifts). The clinic requested police presents, but honestly, it was a farce.

Today was relatively quiet; there was only one group of four antis with an amplifier. The shocking part was that the police seemed to protect them, not us.

When a guy on a scooter shouted something in the direction of the amplifier, a police officer gestured for him to stop. When antis were done and packed their equipment, they shook hands with both police officers, and right after this group was gone, police left as well.
But at least it was quiet today, so I can’t complain.

Also, it turned out that today was the 75th anniversary of the CTA celebration, and if I had known in advance, I would plan on taking a ride in the 1920s train car. Unfortunately, I was already on a tight schedule, but I hope it was not the last time in my life.

… and the bridge opening

Flood Damage

The next day after I left for Europe, Chicago was hit by a heavy storm, and four inches of water dropped over the Northern part of the city, including Rogers Park. Both garden units in our building, the storage rooms and the gym, were flooded.
Somehow, I was not included in the original email chain and learned it all postfactum.
The damage is massive, and I have no idea when everything will be repaired:

I Did It – I Did Bike the Drive!

Last year, I saw people biking on Lake Shore Drive when I was doing my usual Sunday biking – I didn’t know anything about Bike the Drive! Since I learned about it, I did not miss my chance to participate.

As it was my first time, I didn’t know how things worked, and I thought I could bike as far as I felt comfortable and get off the Drive any moment. Only when I received the “day of the event” package in the email I realize that there were just a couple of opportunities to get on and off the course.

Judging by my usual long rides, I decided to turn back at Oakwood, which was one of the designated turning points, but when I reached it I didn’t see any opportunity to turn around. Most likely, I would be able to go to the most Southern point of the Drive – the Museum of Science and Industry, but then it would take longer than I planned to spend on this event. So I looked to my left, and when I saw a gap in the median, I moved to the left and merged into the stream of bikers going north.

When I reached Millennium Park, I stopped for activities and a pancake breakfast and then continued to the northern end of Lakeshore Drive.
I covered a total distance of 32 miles, and I didn’t feel tired at all – and that’s what I am most happy about.

When we were approaching the end of the Drive, one gentleman on my right said – you are always catching up with me, no matter how much I try to get ahead! I told him, sorry, that was not intentional (to be honest, I didn’t even register his presence). I said – I am just consistent. It didn’t feel like I stretched myself; I could do more (and I was not sore the next day).

Another thing that I need to think more about is that I didn’t eat anything before the ride and didn’t drink anything. Initially, I planned to each some fruits before going, but I didn’t feel like I wanted any, and I left the house at 6 AM without food or drink. I thought that I might feel too hungry in the middle of the ride, but I felt great. At 8 AM, when I stopped at Millennium Park, I went to find breakfast. I’d already covered 21 miles by that time and thought I would be very hungry. However, I ate just two pancakes and two breakfast sausages and didn’t want more. I had a great feeling in my body, not needing to process any food and focusing on the ride.
There should be at least two of my photos from the ride, but I found just one on the event website. I will try to find more later πŸ™‚

Official event photo