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Last night, all my devices rang simultaneously, just like it was when Senator McCain died, and I looked at the closest of the devices, my Apple Watch, to read the news.
Today, there is no other topic on the news, except for the death of RBG, at least that how it feels now, that I am almost four hours in my day. To tell the truth, I would rather hear more of her, then memories about her, but there were just one or two excerpts from the old interviews played on the air.

I do not feel like I can write anything lengthy or anything new, which I didn’t say earlier about her. Like many people, I feel the void, which won’t be ever filled. Because even if/when other amazing people will come up, she will always be the one, unmatched, incomparable.

Its probably not worth saying here, but even Trump’s first reaction on the news of her death was: she was an amazing woman!

I am sorry that she didn’t live to see this presidency over. However, her impact on humanity is enormous and will never be undone,

All In: The Fight for Democracy – Documentary

By now, everybody knows that if I am not blogging for a couple of days, it means that I have a crisis at work. This is precisely what’s going on now, plus – the chapter deadline is only two days away, and I have a big chunk of it still not written, plus it needs a lot of formatting rework. Nevertheless, when the Amazon screening of the new documentary was announced, I signed up because I could not not to see it! And I was watching it, while fixing stuff in production and while editing our current chapter.

It is brilliant. It is timely. It is eye-opening. I have an urge to make people who dare to lament about BML being too violent, about “how much longer we should beg pardon and feel sorry,” to watch this documentary from start to finish. Because the answer is – forever. At least for the foreseeable future.

And I may be biased towards a certain population of zero-generation immigrants. Still, way too often, I feel that they do not know these parts of American history, which were not publicized in history textbooks. They were not here, and their parents were not here, and when they come, they are too busy to get settled in their new life. They do not want to look around, question, and step away from their stereotypes, from the presumption that they know everything. 

I will stop now:), but I want to share the official trailer and a review from Tribune, which I really liked!

Continue reading for the full text of the review (the link to the article is here)

Continue reading “All In: The Fight for Democracy – Documentary”

All You Need To Know About Kenosha

I have no idea whether the rest of the world know about the current events in Kenosha, but if you know, this post is for you.

Igor went to Kenosha five days after the shooting of Jacob Blake, on one of the few days when trains from Chicago were stopping at Kenosha.

As usual, he came back with a million photos. I am posting just a couple here, but please. spend ten minutes looking at all of them here, this is all you need to know about what’s going on in Kenosha.

Continue reading “All You Need To Know About Kenosha”

Smolny in 1995, Part 2. How I Didn’t Meet Putin

Boris’ part in this Smolny project was installing the software Dr. Conrad was trying to sell. And my part was, as usual, writing the user’s manual. In this case, it was more like a persuasive essay. I had to present a use case and show how this software will make the life of the City clerks easier.

I remember how I was inventing the names and ages of people and their addresses. But the most memorable were the letters I was scanning. Scanning was a very new thing then, at least in Russia, even the copying machines were rare. And I was given a whole bunch of real people’s paper letters to Smolny. And I read them while scanning. I can’t recall any particular case or any particular problem from these letters, but the overall impression was desperate. You could hear people crying, searching for words that would be convincing enough, pleading for help, from necessary surgery to pensions being delayed, to broken heating pipes. I could not help but think how the City clerks can read such letters and put them aside. I knew that all these letters were not processed yet, and some of them were dated two-three months before the day I was reading them.

Continue reading “Smolny in 1995, Part 2. How I Didn’t Meet Putin”

Smolny in 1995

The last gig I wrote about was the project in Bank Saint-Petersburg, which earned me money for our trip to Poland. 

Later in 1995, my employment situation continued to be the same as I described in the above post. I was a full-time researcher at the university, working in the Operations Research Laboratory, and Boris was my boss, which was wrong on all possible accounts. The university jobs were still paying very little for both of us, but the way we thought about it back then, it was unimaginable to leave a university position. It was academia; we were researches, and even if we aren’t paid anything, we could not drop these badges of honor. 

And still, we needed money. Maybe, some people can be happy being poor together with their loved ones, but it was never our case. We were on a hunting trail all the time. 

The next gig came one more time from Dr. Conrad, and that was my last encounter with him. The gig was huge – working with the city government. Dr. Conrad, as usual, wanted to sell something to somebody. That time, this “something” was a document flow system that would allow all the city government departments to process the letters from the public more efficiently. My job would be to interview the city government employees from all departments, analyze their needs, the existing processes bottleneck, and produce a report explaining why the proposed system was the best possible solution. Then I had to make a presentation to the whole bunch of officials. 

Continue reading “Smolny in 1995”

Illinois Entering Phase 4

Tomorrow, Illinois is entering Phase 4 of its recovery plan. I am not sure whether the video I am posting here, will stay long enough, but I am going to give it a try.

Here

It’s a long video, but I wanted to post the whole thing because there are lots of important things in it. The most important message is very simple: although we’ve made lots of progress, the virus is still there, and there is still no vaccine. I really hope that people will behave responsibly.

Public health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike had strong words for people who refuse to wear a face covering in public. She said it is “a game of Russian roulette.” She even pronounced Russkaya ruletks in Russian!

I am hopeful. I am glad the State of Illinois has such good leadership. I hope that people will behave responsibly. This morning on WBEZ, I heard a discussion about students returning to colleges in the fall. Hopes are that there will be positive peer pressure because you can’t really police students on campus. And that’s my hope as well. During the current health crisis, the younger generation appeared to be more responsible than the older one, on average, of course. We shall see. I will be posting about our reopening, and about the health situation in the state.

The Education of an Idealist: a Book Review

Now, that I finished The Education of an Idealist by Samantha Power, I want to write a proper review, not just a short note.

I loved everything about that book! First of all, I loved the writing style. The book is written in a very personal way, yet it talks about the most critical global problems, about the historical event which shaped the past and present of our country and the world in general. And Samantha’s personal story is intervened with the history at large in such a natural way that I can’t even imagine that story to be told differently. If I would ever end up writing my own story, that’s exactly how I would want it to sound :).

Samantha Power has been in all the places where history has been happening in the past twenty years. If she were not physically present there, she would still be deeply involved with the issues. Bosnia, Rwanda, Iraq, Syria, working for Obama’s first presidential campaign, working in the White House, being the US ambassador to the UN, trying to resolve Russian – US issues, staying for LGBT rights – and wherever she goes she remains true to herself.

Reading this book, I understood more of the background of some actions or absence of those; for example, now I know why Obama was avoiding calling Armenian genocide a genocide.

Another thing I love about that book is how she talks about being a mother and being in public service, not sugar coating the problems, but making it clear that all the sacrifices were made consciously, and she would never decide differently.

I have to mention the hilarious episode from this book; it was so funny that I laughed out loud while listening. Samantha asked her stepfather to babysit when she was called for some White House duties on a short notice. Her stepfather started to panic when he could not find the milk to feed the baby, and Barak Obama saw Samantha on the phone, trying to calm down her stepfather. Obama took the phone: Eddie, that is the President of the United States speaking. Eddie, you can do it!

I might later come back and write more, but for now, I am finishing this review with the conclusion that this is one of the best books I read in the past year.

Today’s Activities: Clinic Escort and More Local Protests

As I mentioned in that post, this week, we resumed the clinic escorting. We had to complete zoom training about our new procedures and sign the waiver regarding the new risks related to the pandemic. 

I was glad to be back; it is great to feel that you can do something useful and meaningful. 

It was relatively quiet; there were just a few antis, and they left about 11 AM. I was hoping to meet up with Igor, but since a new protest, the largest so far was unfolding, there were no CTA services to the Loop, and the bridges were up again. Everybody was upset about the bridges, and it didn’t look like it was really necessary, but whatever.

Metra looked much better than the other two times I took it to the city during the quarantine. There were more people on board, but unfortunately, not all of them were wearing masks. The conductors are still not around, so nobody is enforcing the face covering. 

As I realized that I am not going to meet with Igor, I took the 12-30 train and was able to attend a Palatine protest, organized by NWSOFA/Indivisible. It was very well organized, with lots of invited speakers and with all our elected and not elected official speaking. I decided to play safe and stood further away, which unfortunately meant that I could not hear everything. 

What was encouraging that through the whole course of the rally, the passing cars were honking non-stop (including the big trucks:))

I am walking towards the Volunteer Plaza

Distancing