Saturday, April 4, 2020

Pandemic Atlanta Lockdown - Week 3

First grocery shopping in Lisboa, 2012

A first sleepless night in 2 years

Although I have had sleepless nights during my mid-PhD for paper submission deadlines, by 2018, I had developed better time management for deadlines and never had a sleepless night in 2018 - 2020. But the WFH messed up my rhythm, and I had a sleepless Thursday night for a Friday 8 p.m deadline. Luckily, the next one is a Friday night. I had a long sleep last night. Now, everything is okay. I am relaxed and also successfully submitted my paper (codenamed, "Niffler") by the deadline.

Change of Perspectives

When the pandemic started to ruin my regular life of traveling, going out, and meeting people, it was stressful. I am an extrovert. I love people. I love seeing new places and interacting with humans in the real world. January was concerning, February was saddening, and March was an outright disaster. April is probably going to be worse. But I have a better perspective now. Things are going to be worsening. But we are privileged that we can work from home, and live in beautiful apartments. People are risking their lives due to this virus. I am thankful for what I have. I have also well-adjusted to the indoor home-alone (a.k.a., boring) life. Not to say that I don't have sad or feeling down days. But I am also not complaining too much, at least not this week.

Life is an Indian movie

Wild Kopi Luwak
In Indian movies, when the plot gets sad, they throw a flashback of the past when everyone was safe and happy. Sometimes, they do a dream scene of a happy future, often with a song in a random country. Or some random comedy scene to cheer you up in the middle of all the movie sadness. When you are stuck home in a never-ending pandemic, you cannot clearly think of the fun activities you want to do in the future (which future?). You definitely cannot escape reality by running to a random country. You can, of course, think of the past - the times before the pandemic hit hard. I see many people are doing that, including myself. We share our old photos on social media. We now appreciate all the good times we had while life was normal -- which is merely 2 months ago.

Life changes with a pandemic

Going abroad and coming to Portugal changed me drastically. I was an introvert in Sri Lanka, and Portugal converted me into an extrovert really quick. I also became more people-oriented and love going out more. I still remember my first day and the first week in Lisboa vividly. I arrived at my apartment. It was still empty as my then-unknown-stranger apartment-mates hadn't arrived yet. I had to go to buy something to eat. By then, I didn't know how to cook. So I went out to buy something to eat quick. I was lazy. I was not that comfortable finding my way to the supermarket - although the landlord showed it to me on my way to the apartment from the airport. Luckily, there was a small shop right next to my apartment. I bought bread, butter, and milk. I handed the shopkeeper, who introduced himself to me instantly as a Brazilian, a 50 Euro note. He said he doesn't have change. Luckily, I also had some coins. I gave him the exact amount of coins (around 2 Euro). He spoke English, sufficient for the transaction. 
Eventually, and quickly, I fell in love with the city. The city changed me completely. Now, we are stuck at home. Moving to Portugal was a choice and a personal life event for me. But a pandemic is global. Everyone (with exceptions) is forced to stay home for the betterment of humanity. I cannot stop imagining how we all will change when the pandemic eventually comes to an end. Will we have different priorities? Will we become more introverts (again)? Will we start to change our lifestyles? How long will this last, and what will be the long-term consequences? So many questions. Since I always kept moving between countries, even a little period seem like a long one. With this pandemic, my trip to Panama in January feels like a distant past. I am here like, "Oh, I miss those good old days!" apparently referring to the mid-January when no one was concerned about a "small SARS-like outbreak" in Wuhan. I hope we all will recover soon.

Perception of time

Overdosing on flower tea
Looking back, time looks weird and non-linear. Sometimes I feel like the years since I left Sri Lanka have been quick. Other times, I think the exact opposite. 2012 seems like a distant past and a yesterday - both at the same time. Staying home alone alters the perceptions of time as well. Especially a deadly pandemic. The last 2 months felt like a decade. Not to say that I had a dull 2020. My January and February were quite impressive, despite the growing concerns and sadness of the pandemic and my ruined plans to reunite with my family. But March was when things got ugly, as the virus became global and a pandemic was announced.

This Sunday, I was happily cooking, humming an Indian song. Suddenly, I mistakenly stepped onto a long piece of glass, and my foot started to bleed. I carefully and quickly removed the glass off my foot, thinking, "who the fuck put a glass here?" Realization kicked in that I was home alone for 4 months, and that must be the glass I broke a few weeks ago. I had cleaned the floor then, but somehow a piece of glass escaped to hunt me down later. I slowly jogged to my bed, not to ruin the carpet with all the blood thinking to myself, "where is my wife to protect me?"

We are all zombies...

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Pandemic Atlanta Lockdown - Week 2

Some music videos in my projector

We are the new Wuhan

When the outbreak happened in Wuhan, everyone was curious to know how the feeling of getting locked down is. There were some Quora threads from those in Wuhan, documenting their daily life. Now, the USA has become the most affected country and we are all Wuhan. Perhaps Atlanta is still fine. But New York is suffering more. I don't see ambulances roaming around my community so far. I hope it stays that way. But it is uncertain as the pandemic continues to spread rapidly across the western world.

Entering the Week 3

We are entering the 3rd week of WFH. The first 2 weeks were not much of a difference than the regular weeks. I miss going out and meeting friends, colleagues, and overall random humans. I also had to cancel my flight and bookings to Bolivia for the last weekend (+2 additional days) and postponed my Suriname travel plan indefinitely. But other than that, weeks were busy with work. I miss my family and I wish they were here locked down with me. But on the other hand, it seems the USA is going to be the riskiest country during the pandemic. So probably it is good they are not here for now.

Food as usual

I cooked and had my meals as usual. The groceries still had regular vegetables. Ground meat and canned food have mostly run out. But I rarely buy them anyway. Food perspective - nothing changed so far for me. I eat regular Sri Lankan food that I cook for myself. Although I work from home, I did not indulge in snacks. Probably my tea intake may have increased slightly. But that too green tea with honey, but no milk in it. In fact, we went to have hot chocolate or a cup of coffee like twice a week while at work. So probably my sugar intake is only the honey in the tea and the sugar in my mojito last night.

Work goes on remotely

Like the previous week, we continued the daily standup and weekly progress calls for work. We also had the Friday coffee/liquor hour at 5 pm Friday. I made myself Black Russian. Mostly I drink only on Friday nights and Saturday nights. That means I have sufficient drinks for quite a long time. I am thankful that we can work from home and support each other remotely.

Grocery shopping

I ordered some vegetables and meat from Amazon PrimeNow WholeFoods. It was contactless doorstep delivery. The expected delivery time window was 5 - 7 pm. But the order was delivered at 4:41 pm. The delivery person left the products stealthily not even knocking the door. Usually, they knock the door and quickly leave - just to notify that the products are delivered. I think, this is to ensure no contact. That's good. That means less than an hour since I placed the order. Much faster than the regular days. That's quite interesting. Most of the things I ordered were available, except for bananas. I asked for 6 bananas. But at check-out time, the quantity reduced to 1, stating there is not sufficient stock available to deliver more than 1. Not even two bananas in Whole Foods? That's strange. But not unexpected during a pandemic of this scale.

Twitter and updates

These days Twitter has been a communication medium and entertainment channel for most of us. It also has become more negative and people are less patient on Twitter now. I can understand that the pandemic has made everyone more pessimist. I don't blame them.
I kept updating Twitter with my feelings. My feelings are darker now during the pandemic. I want to cut down spreading negativity. Therefore, I decided to reduce updates to Twitter. However, I will keep these weekly blog posts for my future reference and as historical evidence if needed in the future.

I also watch music videos on my projector during the nights after work. It is fun for a change. I must note that my taste in music videos has slightly changed towards lyrics or tunes with overall sadness. Maybe it is normal. Maybe not.

Kiss me baby I'll must be stay here Day by Day...

Where are we now?

There is also a dashboard that shows the current status of the pandemic. I check it frequently. Quite depressing to see it change rapidly to the worse, to be honest. I used to check the updates from GlobalTimes frequently. But now that the pandemic has moved to other countries, those China-based updates are less relevant now.

Everyone, please stay home and take care of yourself and your family if you are lucky enough to be around your family during these days, unlike me. I seriously have no clue how the pandemic will progress and when we will return to normalcy. Let's wait and see. Hope for the best!

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

PNG conversion for jpeg compressed DICOM images

Due to an existing bug in pydicom, the png conversion of (tested with jpeg lossless compression) compressed dcm images were failing.

A few steps to fix the issue (tested on Mac).

2. Close and open your terminal.

3. pip install pydicom image numpy pandas

4. conda install -c conda-forge -y gdcm

5. Now run your python script again and see it works.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Pandemic Atlanta Lockdown - Week 1

Lonely railway track near Lindberg station
So we have completed the first week of the pandemic WFH. I planned a few personal policies to follow during the pandemic. Some of them worked, some of them didn't.

1. Work from a specific "office" area at home
This worked. I rearranged my table and I am also using my projector. 

2. Use the office laptop for office work only.
It was quite hard not to use the laptop for some music out of convenience. But I avoided that during the regular work hours.

3. Wake up and work at the same time as usual
I am waking up early as usual, except for a slight delay since I do not have to commute to work. I start working around the same time (7:25 am). But since my collaborators work until late, I cannot stop working at 4:45 pm as I planned (and I am used to, while working from the office). I kind of worked longer than I expected. Blurred work-life boundaries made this worse. But it is not that bad as I had nothing else to do anyway, staying home alone - working, cooking and eating, learning Portuguese, listening to music, and sleeping.

4. No music
Yes, I did not play music during regular work hours.
My home workspace

5. No Twitter
This did not work. Twitter is my news source and also some human interaction especially when we are isolated.

6. Wear proper clothes
Yes, it worked.

7. No alcohol
Worked. We had a coffee/tea/liquor hour last Friday evening at 3 pm to mark the close of the week. It lasted 75 minutes, and I enjoyed the White Russian cocktail I made for myself.

8. Follow the lunch timing

9. No personal calls
Worked. I had some calls. But the regular amounts as if I were working from the office. Lasted only around 5 - 10 minutes maximum a day.

10. Make random meaningless coffee-time video calls to my colleagues
We have weekly update calls 11 - 12 pm on Mondays and daily calls 11 - 11:15 am. Those are not meaningless calls since we discuss the progress. We also had some random calls.

Go for coffee with colleagues
The situation deteriorated fast within a week. With strict social distancing measures in place, this won't happen. During the past week (including the weekend), I only went out once - that is, to buy groceries from Kroger. I may go out once a week or once in 2 weeks during these days for grocery shopping.

12. Track how everything goes
Yes, and I hope to maintain these weekly blog posts. I used to do that when I moved to Portugal in 2012 and continued to do so until 2013 summer vacation (see all posts tagged Lisbon). Those days were the most exciting days. COVID-19 lockdown days are the opposite. Most boring days ever. Yet, I think the blog posts give me some records for the future.

I hope everyone stays safe at home. Hope we all overcome this pandemic soon and move on with our regular happy life.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Some beach songs during the pandemic

I am a fan of Romanian music, and I like INNA's music. I decided to share a few of my favorite songs that have a beach video and summer vibes in this post since we are stuck by a horrible never-ending pandemic. :) These songs are primarily from Romanian singers and artists.

1. INNA - Amazing

This song was released during my first summer in Lisboa - mid-June 2013. I still remember going to the Praia dos Matosinhos in Porto, and falling in love with Porto. It was quite sad, going back to Sri Lanka from Portugal for the summer vacation. Interestingly, this song was shot in Praia das Maçãs in Sintra. While we were living in Portugal, somehow we failed to visit this beach. I visited this beach only when I went back to Portugal in 2019 for my Ph.D. defense. It was cloudy, and the beach was smaller than I expected. The video made it look never-ending. But overall, the village, the small train, and the beach environment with a stream were all good.

2. INNA - Shining Star

One of my favorites. I like the lyrics because of the memories I have with this song. The song was released in February 2013 when I was still early in Lisboa. Great memories.

3. ANTONIA - Iubirea Mea

During the summer 2017, we were visiting Timișoara, Romania. It was nice to listen to Romanian music while we were in Romania!

4. Mia Martina - Latin Moon

Relatively an old one. But I like that sunset vibes and Mia Martina's voice.

Finally, I hope the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic ends soon so that we all can get back to our life soon.