A Lonely Gym Goer

I thought it was a really funny picture. Since there is no mask mandate in our gym, and although some people wear masks, not everybody does, I only go there very early in the morning, wear a mask and leave when the first person after me arrives. I took this picture when I was leaving the gym last week, and this first person just came in.

About a Major Crisis

Today, on January 11, we finally have every chapter of our book submitted. Out of the total of eighteen chapters, including the introduction and conclusion, four are still being reviewed, but they are really small ones. Even if our technical reviewer would suggest some changes, there won’t be massive rewriting. I am doing a final walk-through with all examples, ensuring everything works as expected, and creating the source code files in the process.

I feel very good about this accomplishment, and if there weren’t a major crisis, everything would be in place a week ago. I know that I kept my friends uninformed, so here are some details about my family’s happened in the past two weeks.

For three weeks, we were going back and forth about Christmas and what is safe. Finally, we decided on a hybrid solution. 

Continue reading “About a Major Crisis”

What Finland Is Doing Right, I Don’t Know

People often ask me, “how is it in Finland,” and why Finland is doing so well with the pandemic.
I do not know what to say. Mask just recently started to be worn everywhere, and when I was visiting, people were still dining in, and I saw a lot of people inside bars and restaurants through the windows. Moreover, the number of tests is relatively modest. But somehow, they do it right; somehow, they know how to test the right slice of the population because the number of people in the hospitals, in ICU, and on the ventilators is remarkably small.

Finland’s population is 5.5 million people, which is a little bit less than half of Illinois ( 12.6 million).

At the moment, we have:
Illinois Finland
total deaths 14,000 414
current in hospitals 5,653 141
current ICU 1,134 21
current ventilators. 694 0 , although I do not have todays’

I already told you about the testing at the airport; this time, the result also came in 12 hours, and there was no line for testing. However, it was virtually impossible to get the second test three days after arrival, so apparently, that was already not in the national interest :). They have their models to follow, and as long as the results are as good as above, I thing they are doing the right thing 🙂

How I Ended Up Being Away For Home For Thanksgiving

First, we were planning for a very small Thanksgiving, even probably in shifts. Even back in September, Boris and I were talking about him finally coming our way. By that time, I felt sort of in control of the situation and was sure that I know how to navigate the current situation, how to be safe, and what we can and can’t do. 

The last time Boris saw anybody except myself was last November, and he never saw Kira. So we drafted a plan, how to connect “in shifts,” and then cases started to rise, and then I think we all just got scared and were afraid that “it can become worse.” We all talked to each other for hours, and I am not sure who finally convinced me, but the result is that I am now in Helsinki. 

I got the ticket just five days before departure, and I booked it at the Lufthansa website directly, thereby not paying attention to who operates the flight. And even when I received my reservation confirmation, I didn’t look into details – there was a Lufthansa logo on the reservation email. 

On Sunday evening, when I realized that the check-in email didn’t arrive, I went to the Lufthansa website, and to my horror, saw the message: redirecting to the United website! Only then I realized that the flight number starts from UA! 

Continue reading “How I Ended Up Being Away For Home For Thanksgiving”

Suspended Volunteering

Today, I received an email from our volunteers’ coordinator at the ODS saying that all volunteering will be suspended till the end of March. Those were excruciating news. Although, when I was at the ODS last time, which was just nine days ago, I thought that the activities might be suspended for some time, but I honestly thought it would be till mid-December at the most.

Now the activities are shut down for almost five months. And now I am thinking about every minute of last Tuesday, how it was usual: you want to go? – I do not want, but I need to. And now I think that I should have stayed longer, although I know that thirty minutes extra won’t make up for the five months ahead. 

I waved and waved, and I was saying: I will be back! I am not sure when, but I will be back. And now, for so many of the youth, it will be –  never

About the Past Several Days

These past several days were not the best days of my life. On Wednesday, we learned about the stay-at-home advisory, first for Chicago, and the next day – for Cook County. The case numbers raised alarmingly. A couple of days before that, we already discussed with Anna their most-likely-not-coming for Thanksgiving. And the question was not even about what officials were saying, but about the number of cases themselves. It is evident that the tough decisions had to be made, and it was so sad.

I do not doubt the necessity of all the measures; it’s just devastating that we need to go in this direction again.

On Wednesday evening, I went to do my nails; there was no call for the nail spas to close, but still, I was the only client at 5-30 PM.

On Thursday, I went to the office, primarily because I wanted to take home some food which I left there. Also, I wanted to do one more tour of the city before we part for a while again.
There will be no activities in the ODS, and our forest preserve volunteering is also postponed till mid-December.

It took me a while to go through all of these emotions. Plus, I was so preoccupied with these emotions that I could hardly be productive; meanwhile, the work which was not done continues to pile up.

I feel better now, and I finally put myself through all these, “yet another time.” Hope-hope-hope, it will be better, I mean, I will feel better:). It’s just so hard…

On Indoor Dining Ban And The New Metra Schedule

It’s not because the indoor dining closer hurts Vlad; after all, his place is probably the least vulnerable of all in the city. But in general, I find it hard to agree with the governor on this particular measure. I truly believe (and he himself said it previously) that the infections spike comes mostly from the private gatherings (where nobody enforces anything!) rather than from indoor dining. And I think that the ban on indoor dining will make things worse because there will be more private gatherings, where nobody controls the number of people, mask-wearing and such.

Last week, a day before the governor banned indoor dining in the city, Metra announced that they increase the number of trains on our line, “adding more express trains and addressing the service gaps.” Which was good; as I mentioned earlier, as Metra enforces 1/4 of cars capacity, there were some days when I could hardly find a seat on a train on my way back from the city.

However, I was wondering – more people to the city and fewer places to have lunch? And just when the weather became colder! I was wondering what the situation will be at the train station in the city. I found it out on Saturday when I went for my clinic escort shift: the food court was open, and there were tables and chairs just as they were for the last several weeks: at 6+ feet distance, one chair per table. Which made me realize that the station has effectively become an indoor dining place, and it’s an option when I want to feed Igor 🙂

On the same note: on Saturday, I was leaving pretty early, and I had all intention to grab a coffee at the Palatine Train Station Starbucks. To my astonishment, they were closed, as we used to say, “without any declaration of the war.” It was a chilly morning, and I had to wait till I got to the city to get my first cup of coffee. The ad on the door said: temporarily closed, sorry for the inconvenience, with no reason provided.

I was wondering how long it is going to last, but last night when I checked the Starbucks app, I found that not only this location is open again, but moreover, they now operate insane hours: from 4-30 AM to 8 PM on workdays (Friday till 8-30), from 5-30 AM on Saturdays and from 6 AM on Sundays. Which again signals that the station will be effectively the indoor dining place.

We shall see. Vlad hopes that the ban won’t last long, and I hope the same.

Rapid Test

Although the US government does not require to quarantine after coming back from Europe, so technically speaking, I didn’t need to get tested, I still wanted to get tested before seeing my girls. I spent some before departure researching the situation with rapid testing in Illinois. It turned out that I can’t get a rapid test “just because I need it for my personal reasons.” It was either 48 hours wait or a rapid test for a fee. Forty-eight hours didn’t work for me because the samples collected on Thursday were going to go to the lab only at the end of the day, and the result would be back by the EOD Saturday. I didn’t have symptoms, so I could not get a free rapid test, and the one-hundred dollars rapid test was the only option.

I found (or rather Vlad found) one provider in the city who is doing rapid tests on-demand and with whom I could book online. They have multiple locations, and it looked like both Chicago locations are doing rapid testing. I booked an appointment at the Streeterville location because it looked easier to reach. I could even walk there from the train station, although it was a long walk, and still have time to get to the office not to disrupt my first working day upon return.

And that’s what I did: took a very early train to the city, walked to the clinic, checked in… they took my sample and said: ok, that’s it. And I: ???? they – the results will be in two to three days… I: What about the rapid test?! They: we do not do rapid tests at this location; we do not have equipment yet. You need to go to the South Loop. I: Why did your web site allow me to register for a rapid test here?!
They said they would notify the other office, and I called Uber. The other office was on the opposite side of the city, and even though there is no real rush hour these days, eight AM is not the best travel time; Uber’s rates were doubled.

When I finally arrived at the South Loop office and check-in, they told me: our internet is down! Fortunately, after a while, they connected using somebody’s hotspot and processed my information and my payment. And they even allowed me to wait for the results, although at first, they said I couldn’t wait there. I had to take Uber to the office and was only a little bit late for my first morning meeting.

So it all ended up fine after all, but it was quite an expensive and stressful test.

Walking

The weather forecast for these days in Helsinki was mediocre, but the reality appeared much better. So far, the only rain occurred last night, and it was over by 10 AM. I will need to work remotely on Monday and Tuesday, so I tried to be outside during the weekend as much as possible.
Boris still is not allowed to bike after the surgery, so we walk a lot. Actually, I went for a bike ride yesterday: he forces me out :), but that was a very short one, and with relatively low speed: I was afraid to get lost – I never biked in Helsinki alone.

Back to walking. It was always better in Helsinki than back home, plus I wore boots for the first time this season, and I walk better in boots. But still: yesterday, I walked for 2 hours 40 min straight with no stops! I think it was the first time in four yeast that I could walk that long with no hint of pain. In April 2017, when Vlad and I were in London, we walked a lot, but I already started to feel pain back then. Today, I walked for 1.5 hours in the morning and then again for two hours in the afternoon. Just one word: happiness.

Some pictures from our walks.

A tour by Sibelius Monument
Continue reading “Walking”