Ukraine is fighting for 7 months now

Couple of days ago, putler announced “partial mobilization” of 300 thousand men. In reality it is a full mobilization and numbers looking towards a million. It is not a good news for Ukraine, but let’s not forget, at the beginning of the war, situation was much worse.

As I was thinking about the mobilization, I decided to find a trailer for a documentary and it brought back memories of how fearlessly and courageously Ukrainians fought and continuing to fight. Mobilization will not help putler, it will not save anyone or anything, just one more stop on the way to hell.

No Thanks

Over last nearly three months we’ve been hosting refugees. Perhaps it is a noble cause, may be admirable but we did it because it seemed as the right thing to do – people needed help and I and my wife were in a good position to help. I believe it is the biggest selfless act we performed to date. But I’m not writing this to brag, I’m writing this because I’m deeply sad and somewhat mentally struggling to process the past three months.

Let me start by stating somewhat fascinating (at least to me) fact; in the last three months, I learned nearly nothing about these people. All the time it felt like they didn’t want to be bothered. After initial few of attempts by me and my wife, we frankly gave up. It felt like they were ignoring us as much as possible. Most of the time we walked into a common area, they would leave (even though we encouraged the use of common area). Efforts to socialize were made but ultimately failed. We still talked but mostly when they needed something: taking to places, food, documents, resume and stuff like that. Granted, our family is having hard time with traditional breakfast/lunch/dinner – we simply don’t have “get together and eat”. But once in a while we do, at one point we got together for Chinese food dinner and invited the refugees. Kids (age 8 & 12) didn’t bother joining and their mom joined but the conversation didn’t really take off, as soon as food was done she left to her room and closed the door.

The kids are fascinating, simply because I never encountered such behaviour before. They never said “good morning”, unless I said “good morning” to them first. Forget about “good night”, may be “thank you” couple of times. I never met such a shy/private kids before. I remember meeting a super geeky boy a while back, but even though he was super shy, he still seemed pretty happy to be noticed and talked to. In this case kids seemed to regard me as necessary evil (at least that’s the way I felt), unhappy about any conversation attempts and never wanting anything. I never met any less curious kids in my entire life. Whenever I attempted to offer anything, they would immediately say “no”, in some cases even before I managed to finish a sentence. I have a six year old and it seems she received exactly the same treatment after initial several days of hanging out with the refugees. I know older kids don’t always like to hanging out with younger ones. But total ignore? It was painful and somewhat fascinating to watch my kid, she seemed to figure it out on her own and after sometime didn’t even notice the refugees.

I don’t know if we offended them in any way, I keep thinking about it but it’s not like we had extended conversations or discussions about anything. Most of the time they just stayed in their room, the door closed and didn’t communicate with us. We helped as much as we could – as much as I wish my family had received in a similar situation. We bought their airplane tickets, beds, food, clothing (some used, some brand new), helped with paperwork, provided a car to practice driving, pickup from the airport (which is 4 hours away), introduced to some people we knew and my mom somehow managed to get summer camp for the kids free of charge (typically about $300 per week per kid) – thank you city hall! Yet as time rolled on, we all got a feeling that we were bothering them, my wife mentioned that we were given the “cold shoulder”.

After nearly three months, one day, as I was making a tea in the kitchen, the refugee lady came out of the room and told me that she needs help – a ride to Brampton. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to spend my weekend driving refugees 4 hours away and then returning home. Despite advice of everyone (who knew what’s happening), I decided to drive the refugees to Brampton, to make sure they got from my place to their destination safely. As the day of departure approached, I was tensing up, I thought to myself: surely, the refugees will at the very least come out the room and say “thank you” and “goodbye”. I didn’t expect a dinner or tea or cookies, I mean after spending so much time avoiding us, I really didn’t expect much, no hugs, just a simple old “thank you”. My wife chuckled at me and gave me a new name: “Eugenius Simpletonius Maximus”, implying that I’m kindly naive. My mom simply said: “you will receive no gratitude”. Friend of mine said: “she will not thank you” and added that I’m hopeless optimist, yet, I still believed in basic human gratitude. The final evening came and went, my mom received no thanks even though both of them were home all day long. Me and my wife came home in the evening, the door remained shut with light inside – no thanks or goodbye came to us either. I got deeply upset.

Early morning the refugee lady asked for help – to take luggage to the car. So I did, I had a nut in my stomach, I briefly considered driving them to the nearest train station and leaving them there, but decided against it. So we drove for 4 hours towards destination in complete and utter silence. I still could not believe what had happened and I definitely didn’t know what to say, I was in complete and utter shock, the lady made no attempt to talk to me or even look at me the whole drive. The final moments were memorable, as we arrived, I unloaded the car, looked at the lady – she was busy with her kids, I walked to the car, looked at her again, she was still not looking at me, I sat into the car, still no attention to me, I started the engine – she didn’t even turn around and I drove off. I didn’t wait around, figuring everyone else was right at the end of the day and I was dead wrong.

45 minutes after I drove off, the lady decided to send “thank you” emails to my mom and to my wife, an email, after nearly three month of stay and all the help, we got an email! At this point I didn’t argue with my wife when she said “she is not done with us, she needs something from us” and she was dead right once again.

P.S: I’m still deeply upset, I know it will pass… but I’m still having a hard time comprehending the last three months.

Nazi Russia

Finally after several days of shock and dismay, I can write, just not sure what exactly to say. If you asked me a week ago: “would Russia attack Ukraine?” – I would have answered: “no way, never gonna happen!” – Obviously I was wrong. I’m not a history buff (also I’m not a professional writer so excuse my poor writing), but Russia’s action sure shit looks like Nazi Germany at the beginning of WW2 – same pretexts for invasion, same strategy.

I’m honestly lost for words… my grandfather fought Nazis (Russian side) and “lived to tell about it”. He was in Airborne and went all the way from Leningrad to Europe. He didn’t talk about the war, it seems that people who do the fighting never talk much about it afterwards.

My mom is a wise person, almost 20 years ago, when she saw Putin rising, she made correct decision, she said: “you are not staying in this country”. She prepared everything and we left. As I was growing up, I somewhat poorly followed events in Russia but each passing year, it was becoming more and more clear – Russia is going backwards in time and off the rails. Business were taken away by Putin and his gang, news become more patriotic and idiotic, freedoms taken away, journalists who asked one too many questions killed or jailed, people intimidated by “internal security forces” and/or jailed/killed and on and on.

So is it surprising to see Nazi Russia? I guess not. I guess this is how it works, this is the finale – mad king with a gang of yes men and oppressed population.

Fake TIME's cover photo of Putin with Hitler's moustache ...

Decade with Accent

It seems the human mind likes round numbers – 10 year, a decade, all sound important. So here am I trying to grasp that it has been a decade since I bought my Hyundai Accent. Without any doubt it has been a journey, the car has seen a lot and I believe it is a good time for some thoughts.

Recently, I’ve re-read my reasoning to “why accent”, and at this point I wouldn’t be jumping the gun by saying: “I was right”. The vehicle got 241,702 kilometres on the odometer and never left me on the side of the road. Granted, I have always taken good care of the car and did proactive maintenance – complete log. It also doesn’t cost much to change out all fluids and filters earlier than needed, therefore the results are impressive – the car has plenty of life left in it. In addition, since it is a small car with small displacement, the amount of fluids required is also relatively small. Therefore buying high quality fluids is not a big deal. I remember after the purchase, my mechanic said: “this car will go for 300,000 kilometres easy” – back then I thought it was just wishful thinking, but now it seems more like a reality. The car is quite impressive in the reliability and repairability regard. I think one reason people don’t like cheap cars is because of perception: “cheap will break, but expensive cars will last”. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

Recently I was reading up on Suzuki Jimny just for fun. One thing that stood out like a soar thumb is technology in the latest release of Jimny – by 2018 standards, it is hopelessly outdated. Even the most cheapest vehicles on the market had direct injection for a while now but Jimny doesn’t. So perhaps cost of the direct injection is not a factor, so why would any automotive engineer pass-up an opportunity to make engine more powerful and efficient? I believe the reasoning is: old technology is simple and proven by time. Jimny at its core is dead simple, rugged and the most reliable thing you can through into the wilderness. Let me make it very clear – old technology is not pretty on paper – fuel economy sucks, power output is embarrassing and the rest you don’t even want to see. But on the flip side, it is dead simple, accessible, and reliable vehicle that will work for a very long time.

Coming back to my Accent, the concept of reliability is the same as with Jimny – old, but simple and simple means reliable and cheap to fix. Now I’m not saying let’s stay with port injection and 4 valves per cylinder forever and ever. What I’m saying is that as new technology comes out and is fitted into expensive vehicles first, where it is being tested in the real world. By the time it trickles down to the cheapest of the bunch, the technology has been fairly tested, and so cheap vehicles receive proven tech.

Now 3 years ago I said that next car will be either another Accent or Miata. Well I bought a Miata which opened up my mind to such a different experience. Driving anything after Miata feels very dull, I believe Miata ruined my driving experience of any other car. Miata entrenched my opinion: either get a car that makes you feel good or simply don’t bother – get the cheapest. Nowadays when I drive Accent, I simply appreciate it as a simple transportation. I guess I would compare the experience to getting on a personal bus and slowly rolling to a destination, nothing more or less. Back in the day I often thought about upgrading, modifying and otherwise changing the character of my Accent, to give it more bite, more edge, more driving “feeling”. Well I’m happy I didn’t go for that. Accent is a car with its own character and when you buying one, it is imperative you understand what it is, then you will not be disappointed.

P.S: “If I needed personal transportation I would buy Accent again”, but unfortunately it is no longer an option in Canada. Hyundai stopped selling the Accent.

Everything passes, this too will pass

King Solomon

Goodbye TDK SoundCube

It is funny how things workout and sometimes don’t workout in life. A few years ago, I participated in a hackathon, it was a very interesting experience amplified by the front-center seat that I have taken. The experience primarily taught me one thing: no plan survives contact with a customer ( my version of the famous ). The same idea is applicable to many situations, mainly because planning and reality tend to diverge at least at one point.

So here, I’m 8 years after purchasing my “ultimate” speaker and the speaker is no longer with me, I sold it a few days back. Why am I thinking about it? For one, I have been a bit philosophical lately – life does not stand still, everything changes, customer’s mind moves on and ultimately nothing remains the same. Another reason is sunk cost bias – I spent time and money looking for the “ultimate” speaker and it didn’t make it past 8 years with me… I feel like there should be some kind of thought consolidation, lesson learned, so here I am.

Why did I part ways? Simply because I didn’t use it. In the last 4 years, I turned on the speaker probably less than a dozen times. My life has changed, I have a child, I live in a house and music time switched from late evenings to early mornings when I sit quietly and work on things. Playing music loud is out of the question and over the last few years I stopped enjoying loud music – aging is no fun. Since priorities have changed and the speaker was collecting dust, it was an appropriate time to make a decision: to cling to the past or to let go and move forward, I chose the latter.

Leaving things behind is not an easy thing (at least for me). I get attached to certain things, I let them define me in part. However, leaving things behind is a part of life – which needs to be examined, learned and practiced. Like any exercise it has its benefits – clearing mind, space and allowing for new things/experiences to flow in.

Well, it is time to say thank you for the experience and bring joy to the new owners, bye SoundCube.

Строим детскую площадку

Оригинальные файлы:

New Family Production Board

Last year I read a book “Toyota 14 principles” by Jeffrey K. Liker and learned a few powerful ways in order to get stuff done. Right after I finished the book, I implemented FPB (Family Production Board – which is a Kanban board) using masking tape, permanent marker and sticky notes. The board was a success, as we seem to accomplish more stuff than ever before.

Today I decided to upgrade the board to something a little bit more substantial – an old white board, left over from my previous upgrade. The purpose and means remain the same, however the board now looks a lot better.


Стеклянная белая доска

Пару дней назад я наконец-то повесил новые стеклянные белые доски и обнаружил маленький момент, но начнем по порядку.

Я люблю белые доски, на них приятно накидывать мысли и отрабатывать идеи, в особенности, когда вы заперты в конференц комнате с другими людьми. Дома я придерживаюсь такой же идеи – белая доска, накидал мыслей/задач и размышляешь в слух или рассказываешь игуане.

Первыми досками я обзавелся 3 года назад, когда мой друг при переезде отдал мне его старые доски. Доски были большими (3 на 4 фута), но старыми – куча фантомов и проблемы с очисткой. Я переодически ими пользовался, один раз восстанавливал и наконец-то решил купить новые доски.

Основным требованием было легкая очистка доски, даже если записи оставались месяцами. После небольшого исследования я понял, что основательное решение это стеклянная доска. Если над стеклом не издеваться (царапать, обжигать, разбивать) то оно будет служить практически вечно.

Если стеклянная доска такая крутая, то почему их не везде используют? Со стеклом две основные проблемы: цена и вес! Если обычные белые доски можно легко повесить на липучки 3M, то со стеклом так не получится – его нужно капитально прикручивать и это работа на двоих (стекло: 3 на 4 фута). Цена тоже довольно высокая, если дешевую белую доску такого размера можно купить за $35+ долларов, то стеклянная обойдется в $110+. Получается, умножить цены и добавить стоимость установки (например в офисе), то складывается довольно внушительная сумма.  Справедливости ради отмечу, стекло выйдет дешевле, если постоянно использовать, но это все вычисляется по обстоятельствам.

Один маленький момент, который я не учел, покупая дешевую стеклянную доску, – яркость написанного. После долгих поисков, я случайно набрел на стеклянную доску от Амазона (amazon basic) за которую хотели $79. 

Не долго думая (отходил от ценового шока), я заказал две. После установки, я использовал мой повседневный зеленый маркер и в этот момент я осознал – на этом стекле написанное видно намного хуже.

Перепробовав разные цвета, я понял: черный, синий и фиолетовый цвет работают лучше всего. Я не знаю, существует ли подобная проблема в более дорогих досках, однако это обстоятельство стоит учесть, если вы думаете о покупке стеклянной доски.

Задняя мысль:

Я целиком доволен покупкой, даже с учетом снижения яркости текста – черный маркер решает все. Купил бы я ещё раз такую доску – да, $79 того стоит.