Thursday, December 31, 2020

A few things that made my 2020 interesting..

Panama Canal
2020 is the weirdest year ever. Although 2020 is not close to my happy years (2019, 2017, 2015, and 2013), this post focuses on the happy moments.

1. Panamá: a lovely Central American country and wonderful people

Self-discovery on a solo trip. This country made me feel energetic.

 2. A new year in Moratuwa, Sri Lanka

Feeling like 2012 and before.

 3. Surviving the 2020 home alone, except for virtual meet-ups

The unexpected COVID-19 pandemic and forced separations of families due to travel restrictions.

4. Getting overwhelmed by the architectural marvels of Doha

The Katara Cultural village and Souq Waqif - bringing me back the memories of KAUST, Saudi Arabia.

5. Watching villagers walking the streets as early as 3 am in Northern Bali!

A scenic ride across this island of active and friendly people

6. Les Waterfalls, Tejakula

Getting soaked in the rain and a waterfall that reminded me of Sri Lanka.

7. Singapore with my niece and nephew

Some family time outside Sri Lanka and enjoying this small island nation.

Souq Waqif, Doha

8. The magnificent views from the canyons of Arizona and Utah

South Rim of the Grand Canyon and the weird cliffs seen from the Bryce Canyon.

9. Giving a keynote speech at MoNeTec 2020

Supposed to be in Moscow in October. But became virtual due to COVID-19.

10. Making a diverse array of cocktails and shots 

Made a collection of liquors to mix and drink during the weekends.

 11. Writing a grant proposal and sleepless nights

It wasn't accepted though.

12. Sand that feels like cocoa powder

Climbing up and down the Coral Pink Sand Dunes!

13. Developing Niffler open-source DICOM framework

My paper got accepted to IEEE Access. I also named two of my other research works after Portuguese towns, Sintra and Viseu.

A rainy night in Singapore

14. Receiving my Ph.D. degree certificates and diplomas

Those certificates from Belgium and Portugal signify the official completion of my Ph.D. double degree.

15. Summer and the lakes of Georgia

Lake Lanier and Allatoona lake have beautiful beaches.

16. The Disguiser and Nirvana In Fire

Yú Mànlì (于曼丽) has become my most favorite fictional character.

17. Attending KDD and EuroPar conferences at once virtually!

Two conferences, same days, different timezones -- thanks to the pandemic.

18. Camping in Dreher Island State Park

The airport sleeper tries sleeping in a tent for the first time.

19. Storm in Hunting Island beach of Atlantic Ocean

Who expected a storm when we walk on an isolated beach in South Carolina?

Non-touristy Northern Bali
20. Two nights in a boathouse in Key Largo

Just before heading south through various connected islands.

21. Walking on an abandoned national highway in Saddlebunch Keys

The old state road 4a felt like walking back in a frozen time.

22. The most vibrant Key West!

Key West had the Bahamas vibes, but crazier. It also had several stray hens, fondly known as Key West chickens.

23. Power cut in Atlanta!

Some darkness and Internet failure, thanks to some storm in a far far region.

24. Vultures and Alligators in the Everglades

And a lovely sunset walk followed by mosquitos.

25. A boat ride in the keys, Biscayne National Park

The waves were quite strong, spraying salty ocean water on us.

Moon shines over Dreher Island State Park
26. A long night walk under a snow storm in Flagstaff, Northern Arizona

First time enjoying several inches of powdered snow at the same time with a snow storm + some hail.

27. Exploring Orlando

Also, a day in Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, eating way too many corn dogs from morning until night.

28. A random walk in Savannah

It is a beautiful and relatively walkable town.

29. The colorful petrified forest national park and the views of the painted desert

The Blue Mesa is otherworldly.

30. INESC-ID Virtual Natal

I attended several virtual sessions by ULisboa, feeling connected although I am not in Lisboa.

Every year, I have one new year's resolution - to outperform my previous years. :) Overtaking 2020 shouldn't be too hard for 2021. But I hope 2021 brings back the happiness to the 2019 pre-pandemic level. I wish you a happy new year. Thanks for reading my list until the end. You may read the blog posts of all the previous years as well.

Friday, December 25, 2020

Pandemic Atlanta Lockdown - Week 41

This was a short-week. Yesterday was the last workday of 2020. Cannot believe we have reached the end of 2020. It has gone reasonably fast. So I traversed my 2017 Twitter to see how I handled my challenging days in 2017 so positively, and what do I miss in 2020. I found the secret in this tweet:

Someone told me: "You work 9 - 5 for money. The real work starts after 5 pm". I was like, "I don't consider sipping absinthe as real work. But if you insist." Anyway, in my opinion, anyone who says "Sacrifice your family/happiness/mental-health for your goal/vision/dream" should never be trusted.

When you drink ~140 proof liquors, you are drinking fire. You instantly receive the blessings of the Fire God, as the overproof rum burns your throat as it goes down. oh yes, as long as you don't mix anything; no stupid nonsense into my majestic rum.
 
#Lisboa residents be like "I know a place" and take you to the beaches, Tagus riverfront, Parque das Nações, fado bars, pastelaria restaurantes, churches, museums, and national parks all in a single day. By the end of the day, you will have decided to stay in #Portugal forever.

I hope I will be able to face 2021 with such energy and positivity how bad the year maybe, as COVID19 is still at large. Fingers crossed.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Pandemic Atlanta Lockdown - Week 40

This week is the last complete working week of 2020. Next week is a half-week and the work year ends next Wednesday. With the pandemic induced self-isolation, loneliness, and work-from-home for the whole year, this year has seen a significant rise in online interaction - for both job and entertainment and human interactions. "Stay home" is said easier than done when it drags on forever. But most of us did our best to the best of our ability, even separated from families due to travel restrictions.

I talked to my Twitter friend about how our Twitter usage has changed this year - mostly increased.  Twitter is my only active social medium. But until 2020 (the pandemic hit hard), I wasn't as active on Twitter. From my Twitter analytics, I see that I posted and received interactions 10X more this year, compared to last year.

For example, in July 2019 (when I defended my Ph.D. thesis in Lisboa), I had 110 tweets, and in July 2020, it was 889. An 8X increase, although I had much more exciting personal updates during March - August 2019 than March - August 2020.

 With 2020 coming to an end, I consider prioritizing and refocusing things as the pandemic does not seem to end by the end of this year. As a policy, I avoid working more than 40 hours/week, as life has more than working. Pre-COVID19, I wasn't home alone, and I could spend time with family. Even when I am alone for short intervals, I tend to go randomly for walks or random trips. With those significantly reduced (not just for me - for most of my friends), we all ended up spending more time in front of computers. I hope to bring back my 2019 healthy lifestyle (both physically and mentally) this 2021.



 

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Pandemic Atlanta Lockdown - Week 39

This week I received my Ph.D. degree certificate and diploma from my university in Portugal. My Ph.D. is a double-degree from Portugal and Belgium. I already received my degree certificate from Belgium on September 17th. I completed my research by June 2018 before I moved to Atlanta. But my defense got slightly delayed as I continued to improve my thesis with the feedback from my supervisors and the thesis committee. Eventually, I defended it in July 2019 in Lisboa, Portugal, and August 2019 in Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium. Now, after slightly longer than a year, I also have both degree certificates. It took longer than usual to receive the certificates due to the COVID19-induced university shutdowns. Now with both degrees in my hand, I feel happy. It was a good journey. I will continue to extend and apply the findings from my Ph.D. research for the problems of biomedical informatics.

I have named my next project Viseu (Virtual Internet Services at the Edge), which I am working in parallel with Sintra (Self-adaptive Inter-domain Network Transfers for Radiology). Sintra and Viseu are a continuation of the Ph.D. research I completed last year in Portugal and Belgium. They follow my tradition of naming my projects with the Portuguese town names, starting from Sendim (2015), Óbidos (2017), and Évora (2018). Now, I am running out of Portuguese town names to make acronyms or backronyms for my research projects.

The year is coming to an end soon. The coming week is the last full work-week. YouTube Music has made some  summary of the videos that I have watched in this year. I don't think it is accurate as it seems to show only the music that I listened through the YouTube Music App, and not the ones I watched directly on YouTube.com.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Pandemic Atlanta Lockdown - Week 38

Festival mood is here
The year is moving on and is also going to reach an end soon. The pandemic of the year is going into next year as well. However, the progress made so far with vaccines seems promising. People keep saying that they already see the light at the end of the tunnel. Despite all the boring events of 2020, I have managed to keep myself overall entertained. It is no surprise 2020 is one horrible year. We have only 2 whole weeks (and another half-week) before the year-end vacation. Some years were quite boring or sad. They felt like an eternity. Some years (2013, 2015, 2017, and 2019) were so exciting, and time flew like an arrow. Then 2020. It is boring and sad. But how can such a nasty year come to an end too soon? Are we in a black hole or something? 
 
We are all optimistic about 2021. There will always be optimism every year!