To Paris And Back

My colleague K.took the train to the airport (and she said that Helsinki has the best public transportation (which I agree!). While walking to the train, we met two other conference participants who opted for the train, too, so my word was spread ! When we arrived in Paris, she said we would take public transport as well, and that was a slightly more dramatic experience šŸ™‚

Also, it turned out that we were in different hotels, and my other co-worker came to rescue me ;). This co-worker previously invited me to share a suite in the hotel with me, and her boss approved, so I had free lodging. We also had a terrific conversation while walking there and later at dinner.

Chocolate-coffee-buckwheat dessert
Continue reading “To Paris And Back”

What A Week!

So many things happened this week; it feels like a month! And I didn’t blog about anything!
Let me catch up on at least something.

My last post was about Suomenlinna, and how I took one of my co-workers on a tour there. Other people started to arrive on Sunday afternoon, and everybody was asking me about the “nice place for dinner.” All Vlad’s suggestions wee somewhere further away from the city center. A couple of weeks before the conference, I suggested Harald for the company dinner, and then I thought that we could also go there on Sunday, and if we don’t like it, we will change the EDB dinner reservation.

Cinnamon beer
Don’t remember half of it, the black things ar reindeer blood pancakes, and salami is bear salami, and the light things are made with cod tounges. Don’t ask šŸ™‚
Reindeer cooked two different ways
Wild-game sword: it looked gigantic, but actually it was mostly presentation that was gigantic
A close-up

We liked it, although I am sure it is not really a “Viking food,” but rather a tourist version of it, it was a good food anyway.

And we also when there on Tuesday after the conference for our company dinner. Usually, when you are at the conference, you try to socialize more with people from other organizations, but since my company is so distributed, we do not meet in person often, so everybody is eager to see each other.

On Monday, I was trying to work, and then meeting with people and showing a little bit of Helsinki again, and then there was a speaker’s dinner in the evening in a different place.

Both days, there were lots of talks about the war. I argued with one of my co-workers, who was saying that “we need to support our community in Russia.” We need to make a clear distinction between individuals and organizations. Several IT organizations made statements condemning the war, and nobody destroyed them. On the other hand, multiple organizations received money from the Russian government, not necessarily in contracts, but often as direct financing of their work and research, grants, etc. And now they say nothing.

Many ordinary people are braver than these companies. And to be honest, I do not think they are “afraid.” Nobody would destroy them, they just won’t receive money from the governmentā€¦

P.S. I know that some would be outraged with the way I combine the pictures from the fancy dinner with the talks about the war, but I am being honest. It was as it was: I live event after COVID, which everybody was anticipating, meeting with great people, having a great time – and talking about the war, and thinking about the war – all that time.

Postgres Activities

I had to cancel Wednesday’s meetup – the speaker canceled on Friday evening. I attempted to find a substitute speaker, but it was too late. Usually, in cases like this, I volunteer myself, but it would take me too long to prepare a new talk this time. I am actively working on the presentation for the conference at the end of April, but it is very far from being done.

I feel it is a personal failure each time I have to cancel, so I am contemplating two meetups in May instead. Also, I want to make sure that May meetups will be hybrid. I think I now have enough energy to accomplish that šŸ™‚

Also, I submitted proposals for two European PG Days, and I will submit something to Pgconf Europe. With just a couple of days until Nordic PG Day, I am so excited to see everybody in person!

How It Feels

Life still seems not real. During the conference, the time felt thick with all of the events happening. I gave two talks, and I talked to people literally all the time. I could catch up with many people I knew before and make new connections. Also, I spent a lot of time with my new co-workers. Usually, you won’t spend time with your co-workers at the conference, but since at EDB, we are remote by definition, it was a rare opportunity to meet people in person.
“We – at EDB” – this still sounds and feels unreal. I could not imagine what an impact it would have on me. I was setting up my new email yesterday and typing my name followed by “” I felt like, “this can’t be true!”

And at the same time, it feels so right, so normalā€¦ all these emails coming to my new account, all meeting invites.

The comments on LinkedIn blow off my mindā€¦ and it’s funny how people congratulate EDB with almost the same frequency as they congratulate me:)

Oh, and I am still baking cookies, decorating the house, and thinking about presentsā€¦

At NYC, At The New Job, And My Life Just Took a Sharp Turn Again!

It does not feel real. Today is a week since I accepted the offer from EDB, just a week and Thanksgiving weekend in between, and two million things happening simultaneously. All the paperwork with the new company, cleaning the previous company laptop, getting ready for the conference, working on the program committee, with all the last-minute cancellations and talks substitutes, and – did you update your talk template?! – no, I didn’t, should I?!
Today is my first day, and that’s the day I flew to NYC – the first live conference since Jan 2020. I am in NYC for the conference, and I was at the EDB team dinner, and for the whole dinner, I was at one table with Robert Haas (not to mention Bruce). And the CTO walked to me and drank with me for the big day! It does not feel real – to be in the very heart of Postgres and to be there for real, not as an “honorary member.”
Yes, I know – a million things happened in the past week, and I didn’t blog about any of them, and my world had changed again – OMG, how did it change!!! It is more than happinessā€¦

Recent Activities

The last couple of days were all about PostgreSQL, not just work but mostly my community activities. A couple of weeks earlier, I volunteered to participate in selecting the talks for yet another in-person conference, which will be held in San Jose in January. One of my talks for this conference is approved, so I am going there. The organizers asked me which of my talks I would prefer to present for that conference. That was great because I didn’t want to present the same talk at multiple conferences.

Tomorrow, I am hosting a Chicago PostgreSQL User Group meetup, and I am trying to do hybrid again. This time, six people registered to participate in person, seven including me. I think that in reality, there will be three people plus me, and it will progress because last time it was just me plus one more person.

Another thing I realized is that the holiday season is approaching for real, so this weekend, I need to start sending out international cards, and I need to start baking cookies. Also, I need to review my presentation for the New York conference. Although I’ve already presented it at least three times, I still need to review the slides and ensure they are not outdated.

Session Recording – I Do Not Think I Will Ever Do It Again!

If I could only imagine that the preparation for my talk at the PostgresBuild conference would take almost two days, I would never submit my talk proposal! A fun fact is that I invested a lot of time to submit a proposal for my bitemporal short tutorial, which was such a success at October Chicago PUG, and it was my last-minute decision to add one more proposal – for the NORM talk.

Then, just this last-minute-not-so-much-thought proposal got accepted. Only after it was accepted, I learned that it has to be only 30 minutes, and only after that, I learned that should be recorded! 

Do not take me wrong; I understand the organizers. With the tight schedule as it is, nobody wants technical difficulties at the moment of presentation. But imagine what does it take to record a tutorial! 

I had to record screen videos for several slides; I had to adjust their timing several times to make sure the whole presentation fits in 30 minutes. Then I had to come up with the background because they had very specific requirements. It turned out that my Mac Air is not powerful enough to have a custom background for zoom., so I had to move to the work laptop. Then – black sweater and makeup.

During my first full recording, I when six minutes over. When I started to record one more time, ten minutes into the recording, I realized that Boris left one extra field in the picture. (I asked him to re-draw the picture we used for the NORM talk in Cyprus to go with my new training example. Previously, he already re-drawn it for the book, and then one extra field from the airlines example was left. Good thing I had to re-recode! If not these six minutes extra, I won’t re-record, and it will still have an error in the presentation! 

Then I started recording from the updated slide, and then six minutes before the presentation’s end, Boris’s phone rang – with a spam call! 

We spend another hour and a half figuring out how to combine several pieces on QuickTime – this app has its ways of thinking what’s right!

There is one visible gap in the final presentation, but I decided I can’t do it any longer! 

ADBIS 1996

This picture was taken at the ADBIS conference in Moscow in September 1996. I do not remember who took this picture and why, and when I got the print, getting the prints were not instantaneous at that time. It was the same strange time. I didn’t have a vise yet and was waiting for the second set of documents. I was mentally half gone but still didn’t tell anybody. I remember a couple of social activities, but the overall picture of that conference is pretty hazy in my memories.

It was the first time ADBIS became an international conference, not just some Russian professors and researchers hanging out with some Western colleagues. As I already said many times, one part of me was sure I would come back in two years, because despite whatever John Roseman was saying, I could not imagine myself living anywhere except Saint Petersburg.

The other part of me was similarly sure I am leaving for good. All the things I could not forgive my mom for were still raw and hurting, and this other part of me was hoping never to see her again. I didn’t see any way for Boris and me to achieve any stability in our relationships, and this other part of me was thinking that I will start my life fresh, meet some other man, and live happily ever after. I think that this was also an intention of Pam: she didn’t know about Boris; on paper, I was a single mother of three, and Val was divorced, and supposedly we didn’t have anybody else to lean on.
I always have the same thoughts when yet another anniversary of my coming to America is approaching. I think about how little I knew about what the future beholds.

Today, I was talking to Boris on Facetime, and at one moment, we stopped talking, and were just looking at each other. And I felt so strongly how lucky we are to have each other. And how much our lives changed because we have each other. Not only the family/personal life, but also the professional life, and overall what kind of humans we have become.

It’s crazy even to think about this: I would never decide to go to America if I wouldn’t be sure that we can’t resolve our issues. I am thinking: if my mom and grandpa won’t be both so difficult, and if my mom could secure my grandpa’s apartment after his death, Boris and I would have a place to live. And I would never-ever decide to go anywhere. And that apartment was so small and miserable that it would be a miserable life. But I wouldn’t know about it.
And even more horrifying, if we would never enter these relationshipsā€¦ We both would live our lives and think that everything is great, and we would be different people (I can see it clearly, what kind of people we would be!).

OK, seasonal thoughts:) and one more night, I am up way later than I planned! I am leaving myself here, on September 15, 1996, and I can’t even imagine how somebody could be as ignorant as I was!

My historical posts are being published in random order. Please refer to the page Hettie’s timeline to find where exactly each post belongs, and what was before and after.

A Moment of Real Happiness

Tonight, I presented my NORM talk at a PG Conf webinar. That was the second time I gave it after the SOFSEM conference in January. Two weeks ago, I used it to reopen Chicago PUG online, and I felt that the presentation went horrible. Other people were saying I did great, but I didn’t feel that way. It was challenging to present without hearing and seeing the immediate reaction of the audience. Besides, I faced some technical difficulties.

That time, I practiced in zoom the day before to make sure I almost know it by heart, including all the jokes, and it went really well. Even though I haven’t heard the audience, I could feel that people are engaged. The questions in the zoom chat started to appear while I was talking, and there were lots of them!

Also, I am so glad I put together a GitHub repo with a working example! I hope that this will open a new chapter in the life of the NORM framework.

I felt great after my presentation was over. It was probably as close to the atmosphere of the real conference as it could get:)