Book Writing

I finally stopped procrastinating and started to work on the second edition of our optimization book. Before today, I struggled to update two paragraphs from the intro (and I am still unhappy with how they look, but I pushed myself to move forward with the promise to return to the intro later.

Only after I started I realized how much it bothered me that I was not moving! In my defense, all of mom’s immigration stuff which we dealt with this week, was more than enough to completely abandoned other activities. Hopefully, everything will be over tomorrow, and then I will write a complete report.

Another good thing about today was that I finally went to the beach in the evening and dipped myself into the lake, officially opening the swimming season. The water is cold! The way spring was this year, I think it will take a while for a lake to warm up. It’s still such a joy to be by the body of water, that I can’t complain!

Warm Weather Is Back, And Lots Of Work

I found one more biking opportunity – after the evening rush hour. Now, and for the next two months, there will be enough daylight to bike after 6 PM. Yesterday, I left the house at 6-15, and the traffic was much better than it is between 4 and 6, and probably even better than during lunchtime.

And today in the morning – the sunrise from the same place 🙂

I am almost sad that I have breakfast and lunch at work and do not have an opportunity to eat breakfast outside. The closest I can get to it – sit by the window at the cafeteria:

The weather is amazing, and the whole city seems to be outside. I took a stroll after lunch, and everywhere on the Riverwalk, there is people ]sitting, eating their lunches, and enjoying the weather.

And there are so many things I need and what to do that they hopelessly do not fit anywhere, and I do not even have time to write down my to-do lists :). So instead of blogging about what I didn’t do or do not have time to do, I should better tell what I’ve actually done!

And it was this beautiful morning bike ride, and an exceptionally productive day at work, and a walk along the river, and dinner at the ODS (only a partial success since most residents were somewhere outside :)).

My New To-Do List

  1. Work, wor,k and work
  2. Vlad’s wedding: menu for Family lunch, and all other details
  3. Chicago PUG meetup – less than ten days away, and I didn’t put any effort in organizing it
  4. Submit proposals for PG Conf NYC
  5. Performance book
  6. Next article for RedGate
  7. Plant the annuals
  8. Vegetable garden
  9. New fridge
  10. New oven
  11. Kitchen painting
  12. Windows washing
  13. Mom’s citizenship interview
  14. Mom’s occupational therapy
  15. … and live my life 🙂

Getting Back To Normal

It’s ten days after the conference is over, and I finally started to get used to the situation when I do not need to run around and worry about twenty things. I think I still didn’t explain why it was “many.” First, I was a part of the Program Committee, with many responsibilities, including organizing the pre-party and managing volunteers. Second, I talked my company into Platinum sponsorship and was anxiously waiting for all legal details to be settled, nudging people who were not fast enough. Third, I was a community sponsor as a local organizer of the Chicago PostgreSQL User Group and had to design and order stickers and flyers. And most importantly, I was advertising the event, especially among local users, women, and students. There were some last-minute vouchers from the sponsors, and I tried to place them.

After all of the above was over, it took me a while to calm down, but finally, it was there. Although I have a lot of other things going on (it’s never just my work, always ten other activities), I am in a happy and worry-free state of mind.

Here is what I have lined up for May and June/

Work: Four projects which were “coming” for a while, and now I need to work on all four of them at the same time. I love them all, and I want to do them all, but I am hitting the limits of how one can stretch the time.

Health I finally started to meet with a therapist about how I should efficiently communicate with mom and, most importantly, what communication style would help her. Boris told me that I am getting visibly upset and frustrated when she says something that indicates that she does not remember things. I talked about this with my physician, and she recommended doing therapy for myself to help mom. Works for me 🙂

Mom. Finally started physical therapy for her. It was quite a project with lots of hours on the phone, but finally, she finally sees the same PT specialist as me. Although this office is close to both our homes, she still can’t go there by herself, so every week, it’s two hours of my life during work hours. Second, I went through the quest of setting up her online SSN portal, and next week, we will have a phone interview to apply for SSI for her. And yes, it’s again a lot of hours on the phone during work hours, and she has to be present, so I need to go to her place, which results in even more hours. And finally, her citizenship interview is on May 23. I sent a request on her behalf to make adjustments for her hearing loss, and we got a response that she could have somebody with her, and they would let her use a sound amplifier and many other accommodations. She is scared about each official paper that comes to her mailbox, and calls me…

My other professional activities. I signed a contract for the second edition of our optimization book, and the schedule is very aggressive. I agreed to run 8-hour optimization class for one of the local companies migrating from Oracle. Several smaller consulting requests. I plan to submit several proposals for PG Conf NYC and PG Conf EU. At list three blog posts and one article are overdue.

Volunteering I already described the situation in the youth shelter. I am often unable to do escorting, and I feel horrible about that. It might sound crazy, but I am thinking about returning to OMD.

Fun stuff. Vlad’s wedding is less than four weeks away! I am organizing a friends and family lunch the day before. And Anna’s family trip to Finland is coming in June!

More fun stuff – spring in Chicago!

Art Institute Garden
Chicago tulips
The Bean


Four days before the conference. I am in full panic because I feel that I still do not have enough volunteers, not enough room hosts, some sponsors didn’t use their vouchers, and there are other people who could use them, but I am failing to connect people and vouchers. Speakers asked me why I didn’t advertise the conference in NYC, and others asked for a microbrewery tour in Chicago. My co-worker from our Austin office is coming for the whole week, so I need to allocate ask much time as possible to work with him while he is in Chicago in person. I promised to show the best of Chicago to my international guests, which created an apparent conflict of interest.

CTA and Metra decided that today was the best day for all sorts of delays and road closers, and Uber takes forever because everybody is on the road, so I spent two hours unproductively while I was already not keeping up with my to-do list. The person I am trying to hire for several small repairs in my house could not find my building for forty minutes, which I spent staying by the window and texting: I still do not see you. Mom completely does not understand the deepness of my crisis.

One bright spot in today’s day (which was, BTW, splendid – sunny and warm!). When I came home an hour later than my adjusted plan was, I thought that I did not want to spend time making coffee. Remembering how jealous I was of the people who had breakfast at Charmer’s Cafe across, and recalling that they are open until 6 PM and they have coffee and ice cream, I broke my promise not to have a cappuccino after 11 AM! I asked them for cappuccino and coffee ice cream and mango sorbet and said that the world was against me. Five minutes later, a barista brought my cappuccino and two bowls of ice cream, saying that she gave me more “because I had such a tough day!. I thanked her but thought I would never be able to eat that much ice cream… and I ate it all!

Do What You Love

I had two almost identical conversations recently: one in London and one in Chicago. In London, I was chatting with the driver on my way to Heathrow, which, as I mentioned before, took two and a half hours. It started with me replying to the question of whether I had visited London before; I started with “when my younger son turned twenty-five,” and then it took a different turn. As often happens, the driver was shocked to hear that I have an adult son, especially when I said that that’s my younger son, and it has been a while since he was twenty-five. Then I had to spell out how old I was, and after that, he was not interested in my prior visits to London. Instead, he asked me, “how am I doing that,” why I look so much younger, and whether I exercise, and so on :), which was rather funny.

I told him that I loved want I am doing. I keep telling the same thing to people, especially since I started my current job. Not only do I love my line of work in general, but at this job, I love what and how I am doing, and I love the people I work with. It brings me joy to see that my expertise and skills are needed, and honestly, I even feel physically better recently. I am very busy at work, and some days are crazy, but this is a different kind of busyness, not exhausting. I am busy doing my job, and I am happy I can do it well.

I shared all of the above with my driver. He said: but it is not always possible. Then he started to talk about his life, how he had to quit attending college at some point to provide for his family, and how his wife graduated and now works in the medical field. He mentioned that he is returning to college, and we talked about what he wants to do next.

At the end of our trip (he went above and beyond getting me to the airport on time in the midst of the transportation strike), he thanked me for the talk and said that I gave him directions in life (and yes, we also talked about parenting, exercise and (un)healthy eating habits :)).

The second conversation happened in the BMO Harris local branch, where I stopped to deposit a check. This time, I do not even remember what started the conversation (the bank branch was empty, so the specialists were happy to converse with somebody). I do not remember how it jumped from me being a perfect customer to “what do I do,” and I do not even recall whether my age came up, but in five minutes, it was the same “tell me your secret,” and “how I can become like you.” And I told him the same thing I told the driver in London, and his reaction was very similar (“I am writing it right here, on my hand, and I am not going to do anything with this hand, and I won’t wash it, and I will always remember it”)

It was so funny and sweet that I smiled all the way while I was walking back to the office.

I thought again about how fortunate I am that I have a job I love and how unhappy I was each time it was not the case. And although I can believe that people may be happy and content without loving their job… I sort of don’t believe it 🙂

Catching Up

Today first time after Sunday, my eye does not hurt, and I am trying to catch up for the lost time. I am still not sure when and if I will be able to wear contacts, so my head still hurts, but at least the eye is (almost) fine. I still feel it, but it is so much better, and I am so eager to do everything I could not do in the past several days!

Unfortunately, this week was going to be busy even without the vision crisis, and also – I am leaving Sunday night, so I am still horrified by the amount of work I need to do before I leave. And at the same time, I am terribly sorry that I am missing the whole European Film Festival – there were so many movies I wanted to watch, and I watched zero!

I am very well aware of how a person’s brain works, so I know that if I got to see zero, the festival would be lower in my list of priorities than other things… but I am still sad.

On the positive side, I finally made it to ODS, and we had a “make your own pizza” dinner, and it was a lot of fun. Almost all of the youth participated, and we all laughed and joked. I talked to several newcomers, and one boy who had been there for a while was really happy that I remembered his name. Some pizzas turned out very well, some – not so much, but nobody went hungry!

On Wednesday, I hosted Chicago PUG and not only hosted but also presented. I rehearsed a talk which I will be giving in Paris in two weeks. There were very few RSVPs, and I worried that nobody would come, but that was one of these rare cases when pretty much everybody showed up! All the pizza was gone – it almost never happens!

My talk was very well received, and I got a lot of helpful comments, so I am going to make some changes to the presentation. Overall, both Tuesday and Wednesday were great. I was so miserable with my eye, and the fact that I was surrounded by people, and people liked what I was doing, made me feel tons better.

Finally, today I made a recording for Citus Con. I didn’t want to submit anything to this conference because I knew I won’t have time, but the organizers asked me and told me that they would place me on the on-demand trek and that they would record me when I have time. And then, out of three talks I submitted, they selected the one which was completely unprepared! So I had to work on that one, in addition to my talk for Paris (and my reserve talk!)

Still, I didn’t want to cancel, because I knew that this would be a great opportunity to promote my new talk and new ideas, so I made time :). The talk was recorded by the organizers, and they will do the edits and everything. It went really well (I rehearsed it three times because the timeslots were shorter than usual – 25 min – and I wanted to make sure everything would fit. There were lots of technical difficulties during the recording, but after everything was resolved I was able to present well enough so that there was no need for re-recording. I feel pretty good about this, as well as the fact that the organizers loved my talk so much. And about me comfortable presenting i glasses – I might need to do the same in Paris!


My life is pretty dull these days: most of the weekends are spent on writing and getting ready for multiple talks. Today, except for some physical activity, checking on mom, and talking to Boris, it was all writing. I finished the presentation for my weekly Advanced Postgres series at work, rehearsed the talk I will present at Chicago PUG on Wednesday (and made some edits), sent the pdf of my presentation for CitusCon, and rehearsed it twice – they will be recording me on Thursday. I worked on the article which I am writing for yet another professional website – I received a lot of questions/comments/editing suggestions from the editor, and it took me almost two hours to go over all of them.

And now it’s bedtime, which I religiously try to observe because neglecting it negatively affects my productivity.

Tomorrow, there will be several things that I need to do during business hours, including the PC committee meeting, finally, ordering conference T-shirts, finalizing the speaker’s dinner, and calling about three different appointments for mom. All mom-related things take forever: call to schedule an appointment to get a referral, make this appointment, call to see why there is no provider specified on the referral, call and leave a message to a provider; after they don’t return your call, call one more time, to find out that the home visits are not covered by Medicaid, and NY referral is not good for the office visits… and we need to start everything over again!

Then, I do not have time for everything work-related during work hours, and I am doing work after work, and I do not have time to do the edits over the weekend, and the cycle repeats. Sometimes I think that if I could do mom’s calls over the weekend, it would help, but most likely, it won’t work that way. After all, it’s not like I have any free time any day of the week 🙂

Life Is Going On

And again, there are too many things going on in my life, but I am happy about it. All these things are meaningful.

At work, I am working on two database courses at the same time. One is an online introductory course in databases and SQL. I wanted to do something like this for years, and I even tried to engage in a project with the publisher who published our Query Optimization book, but it didn’t work. After several attempts, they said that I just did not know how to produce educational videos.

I can’t say they are wrong, but I still wanted this to happen! And a couple of months ago, I had this conversation at work. I can’t even describe how awesome it felt! The conversation was: give us content, and we will do the rest! I work with a specialist in creating educational videos. She does not know much about databases, so she has to try really hard, but she knows all about producing educational videos, so I am genuinely admiring the resulting product.

Another course I am preparing is an advanced course for DBAs, primarily geared towards Oracle/MS SQL Server DBAs, who are switching to PostgreSQL. That’s another dreamy project which brings me the joy of feeling useful.

On top of it, just a day’s snapshot: convincing people at work to do the right thing, discussing the preparation for the career fair in the Night Ministry (that feels like the shelter and One Million Degrees combined :)), people asking me to write professional blog posts, and a premier of Hansel and Gretel in the Lyric Opera.

Looks like life is just starting at sixty 🙂

And One More Time About Breakfast At Work…

It is great, because:

  • you do not need to think about making breakfast in the morning and whether you will have time for it
  • it is ready when you come to the office
  • the window view from the cafeteria
  • you have these ten minutes to sit, enjoy the view, food and coffee and get ready for the great start of the day
  • you feel that your employer cares