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.


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


Books Which I Read Earlier This Year

I am horrible with writing about the books I’ve read, so ai decided at least to mention several books I read earlier that year. I do not have detailed reviews for them, but I wanted to let my friends know that I think those are important books, and worth reading.

The first one is Madeleine Albright The Mighty and the Almighty. I liked that book somewhat less than the “Fascism” book, or rather I was less excited by it. But I still think that for those who want to understand better the rationales behind American foreign policies, it is a must-read. 

The Nuremberg Trials is a very detailed description of the unique international trial against the war crimes conducted by Nazi Germany during World War II. I especially recommend it for those of my friends who went to school in the Soviet Union and didn’t have a chance to revisit their knowledge about the famous Nuremberg Trial since then. Even for the broader audience, it’s very educational and thought-provoking.

This book about Rwanda genocide is an absolute must-read for those who do not know much about the Rwanda genocide, except that “something bad happened.” It shows how horrible things might turn if the world is ignorant. 

That concludes my first quarter reading, at least the books which I find worth reading, and I hope to write in more details about the books which I read in April and May.

Local Protests

Today, Palatine had its first Racial Justice rally, the second one is planned for Saturday. I learned about it a couple of hours before it was going to start, but I figured out I can do it.

Through the past week, I’ve said multiple times how important these days is not to be silent. Yes, we are a small village, just about 80,000 people. And yes, it may seem like it does not matter; we are away from the city and away from the real battle. But I find it essential that my neighbors of different languages and colors walked out together to say NO to racism.

We were standing at the corner of Palatine Road and Quentine, the Riemer Reservoir is a public property, that’s why we could be there without any permission. Police was notified and had it’s presence
Continue reading “Local Protests”

Reading Samantha Power

I have a list of at least ten books which I read and never reviewed, and I do not want that book to end up in the same list, that’s why I want to write just one paragraph here.

I am currently listening to The Education of an Idealist, and it is so good!!! May be it is just me, but I laugh and cry while I am listening to this book on the go.

I will write more when I will be done.

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?!

Continue reading “How the State of Illinois is Doing”

How is My Mom

Many people are asking me how my mom is doing. She is doing great, taking into account her age and other circumstances.

However, because she firmly believes that she can’t understand English, mom does not watch TV, and she does not read anything in English on the internet. At the times when things started to be bad here, and I started to realize what is coming ahead, she was clueless – in Russia, the virus “did not exist” at that time. And she was asking me why I worry so much. I was trying to explain to her that the situation is bad and getting worse, but since she didn’t receive any proof from Russia, she didn’t take it in. I remember that when I came to visit her two days later, after we had that first conversation, she started to ask me, “whether I feel better that day.”

On the one hand, I didn’t want to make her worry; on the other hand, I needed her to understand the severity of the situation and to be cautious. And then, all of a sudden, it was officially announced in Russia that the virus exists. And then she finally started to worry. Just in time, when things began to be more stable here, not better, but we’ve adjusted to the situation.

Then she started to tell me what she read about the virus on the Russian internet. Most of the time, I listen quietly to what she has read on the Russian internet and not comment, but in the situation when she can make bad choices based on what she read on the Russian internet, I had to interfere. She was very upset and told me that I think that everything is better in America :). I decided to be smarter next time, and try to let her talk as much as she needs. Then I tell her that while she lives in Illinois, she has to follow the orders of our governor, and that’s all that should matter for her.
She was still keeping telling me what she read in Russian. It was funny that she mentioned that “people create the panic,” and I told her – Mom, don’t worry, there is plenty of food in the stores, she replied: yes, Putin told that there is plenty of food! I didn’t comment on it.

Then, when Russia went into quarantine, her Russian friends started to ask her in emails: so, you are going out for the walks? Is it allowed? Won’t you be punished if you go outside? The also anxiously asked her whether there is food in the stores. As a result, about a week ago she told me: it looks like in Russia they sometimes publish wrong things about America! Same as here about Russia! I decided it was good enough 🙂

She is complaining that she has nobody to socialize with and that previously she was going out with me, and visiting my friends and so on. I am keeping telling her that she has to wait.
Yesterday, I filed her short-form tax returns for her so that she could receive a stimulus payment. She didn’t think she is eligible, but I told her she is. I think it will be great when she receives it!