Saturday, May 23, 2020

Pandemic Atlanta Lockdown - Week 10

As usual, nothing much to report this week, except I remain busy until June 12th. This is a long weekend that I was supposed to spend in Suriname. But due to the pandemic, I had to cancel the plans and stay home. Most likely I will work on Monday, despite that it is a public holiday, as my deadline is fast approaching and I have nothing else better to do home alone anyway.
Coffee cake

2020 becomes the most bizarre year of my life

I gave myself the honorary titles "minimalist" and "nomad" in 2017 after moving back and forth between countries with a suitcase and a backpack with no stable address for a significant share of the year. My migrations in 2017 alone: 🇵🇹🇧🇪🇵🇹🇧🇪🇵🇹🇧🇪🇸🇦🇧🇪🇵🇹 2017 was my most bizarre year. But it was still an awesome year with great memories. Then came 2020 with its never-ending pandemic. Now, with a deadly pandemic lasting already the first half of the year and forcing us into working from home for 3 months, 2020 has easily become the weirdest and most bizarre year of my life. For now, I am riding it in the direction that it takes me, without fighting it or swimming against it. There are several uncertainties associated with late 2020 and 2021 as our visa expires by then and the nations are making it harder for the foreigners to work and live, but I am mentally prepared to face them. Adventure mode: ON.

Changes

Summer in Atlanta
I don't fear changes. I am used to discomfort. What makes me fear 2020 is not the uncertainties at a personal level. Rather, uncertainty to humanity as a whole and the overdose of negative news. Also, the lack of human connection as an extrovert is difficult, especially at a time when circumstances left me home alone, also away from my family and my safe network in Portugal. Now I am in a survival mode. Not overthinking the slowed-down pace of life and degrading peace of mind. But I will bounce back when the time comes. Hopefully by October or so. The news so far are not good. But I don't think this will last forever, and probably all these are a training towards a greatness.

On a related note, today marks the 109th anniversary of Instituto Superior Técnico. Good memories.
And some music in the background as I enjoy the cocktail I made myself from the Jamaican overproof rum and limes.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Couchsurfing falls victim to the pandemic and corporate greed

Couchsurfing.com has locked out all its users unless they pay 2.39$/month or 14.29$/year. This is sudden and we were informed over the email and Twitter only after we were locked out with a paywall. This feels surreal and dystopian. It also set a bad precedent. Today is couchsurfing. What is tomorrow? Twitter? Facebook? Gmail? Whatsapp? LinkedIn?

Asking for support, or is this a ransom?

The reason is ostensibly they cannot maintain the side due to the COVID-19 revenue loss.

The funny part is, even if you want to take a backup of your contacts or to contact them to get their alternative contact details, you need to pay at least that first-month 2.39$ amount. Then also, only if the other party also pays that 2.39$ you will be able to message them to get their contact details such as email address or a phone number (unless their profile already lists them). Otherwise, they are lost forever, unless you already have their other contact details already. Fortunately for me, I have almost all the great people I met through this site on other platforms such as Twitter.
Pay or lose your contacts
But think again. This is taking the users for a ransom. What will happen if one day Twitter or blogger does the same? To access my own content in blogspot, I must pay 3$/month, or to access my Twitter, I must pay some.

At least, Couchsurfing should give a grace period so that you can back up your contacts, reviews, photos, and contents. Is this even legal, given the GDPR and other laws, to lock the users out with the users' data? What happens to my data if I do not pay? They cannot keep my photos and personal information I have filled in their site. It is definitely a GDPR violation, isn't it?

I rarely used this site. But I made a few wonderful friends thanks to this site. The solution to this current economic situation is to open-source the code and let the community maintain the site. You don't need a CEO and CMO for a cost-sharing free economy site such as couchsurfing. A FOSS organization/community style fits couchsurfing more. Previously couchsurfing also had blocked one of my old friends for superficial reasons. 

Is couchsurfing a victim of COVID-19 or a victim of corporate greed and bad decisions? Only time will tell. In any case, I believe that most of us are not going to pay anything, especially when we aren't even using this site due to the deadly pandemic. Bye.



Update on May 20th: I asked them to delete my account through their support portal. Let's see their reply.

My support request was:


Due to the paywall suddenly created by couchsurfing without a warning, my data and images are locked inside Couchsurfing.com. I cannot even go to delete my account without paying for that monthly subscription. Please permanently delete my couchsurfing account and all its associated data permanently as per GDPR.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Pandemic Atlanta Lockdown - Week 9

Turmeric milk
Busy days with work. There were some sleepless nights last week. If I want to, I could use the weekends to finish some work. But as a policy, I try to avoid working during the weekends, except for reviewing some papers. Weekends are still home, cooking, and practicing some Portuguese and Chinese in Duolingo.

Canceled orders

Nothing exciting this week. I have this 5$ monthly subscription from CVS, which gives me 10$ free coupons every month with free deliveries. So I ordered some chocolates from CV on the 2nd of May for 13.08$ - I had to pay only 3.08$, after deducting that 10$ coupon. The delivery was scheduled in 2 parts - May 8th and May 14th. But I did not receive my chocolates on May 8th or May 14th. Instead, CVS canceled the order on May 14th and refunded my 3.08$, citing product unavailability. However, my 10$ coupon was not refunded. That means I cannot use the coupon this month, although this cancelation was not my fault. Literally, this makes me lose 10$ for their own cancelation. I sent an email asking for clarification. Waiting for a reply. Let's see how this goes. It is interesting how the economic losses due to flight cancelations and order cancelations are coming back to individual customers, even when the cancelations are not something we customers initiated.

Memories of a Romantic Lisboa

My lunchbox
7 years ago when we started dating, my wife and I went to Café Império, a bar-restaurant close to Alameda, Lisboa. She instantly ordered 9 shots from the menu after confirming with the bartender the shot glass size. I told the bartender I need more time to decide as I was still reading the menu. I guessed she was an expert in drinking shots. I was new to cocktails and shots, but I didn't want to go with beer or wine. Her shots arrived, and I was still analyzing the menu. After tasting her first shot, she realized that shots are alcoholic drinks! Whaat? I ended up drinking all her shots. Even today I am yet not sure whether she really didn't know that shots are strong liquors or she was pranking me to drink 9 shots. I have a feeling that that was the latter. Recalling those sweet memories, as the pandemic continues to keep us on different continents.

Black Russian topped with Ice cream
And now, me with my overproof rum in a shot glass. Home alone, a lazy weekend. The background music is from INNA. 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.

Reopening the city?!

It seems that our university will open June 22nd onwards, considering we are reaching Phase 3 by then. This is not the end of the pandemic of course. But a decision that we cannot go on an endless lockdown. However, I have a feeling that the rest of the year will be ruined by this pandemic. At least I had some interesting first 2 months. So looking back, hopefully, I won't claim 2020 is an entirely boring year.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Using DCM4CHE FindSCU tool to get only certain DICOM fields

DCM4CHE is a powerful framework. It consists of a FindScu tool that we can use to query, find, and present data and metadata.

This post discusses how to find StudyInstanceUIDs, given PatientID and StudyDate, for example.

1. First, make sure the Source PACS (SRCAET) is configured to accept queries from the destination (BMIPACS) AET and port, where you are running these queries from.


2. Go to the dcm4che-5.19.0/etc/findscu folder and create an XSLT template.
<xsl:stylesheet version="1.0" xmlns:xsl="http://www.w3.org/1999/XSL/Transform">
  <xsl:output method="text"/>

  <xsl:template match="/NativeDicomModel">
    <xsl:text>"</xsl:text>
    <xsl:apply-templates select="DicomAttribute[@tag='0020000D']"/>
    <xsl:text>"</xsl:text>
    <xsl:text>,</xsl:text>
    <xsl:text>"</xsl:text>
    <xsl:apply-templates select="DicomAttribute[@tag='00100020']"/>
    <xsl:text>"</xsl:text>
  </xsl:template>

  <xsl:template match="DicomAttribute">
    <xsl:apply-templates select="Value"/>
  </xsl:template>

  <xsl:template match="Value">
    <xsl:if test="@number != 1">\</xsl:if>
    <xsl:value-of select="text()"/>
  </xsl:template>

</xsl:stylesheet> 
  
Please note that above DicomAttribute[@tag='0020000D'] indicates StudyInstanceUID.

3. Save it (we save it as stid.csv.xsl.

4. Now, go to dcm4che-5.19.0/bin and run the below:


./findscu -c SRCAET@XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX:PPP -b BMIPACS:4242 -m PatientID=AAAA -m StudyDate=20180423 -r StudyInstanceUID -x ../etc/findscu/stid.csv.xsl --out-cat --out-file test.csv --out-dir .

In the above query, make sure to replace:
SRCAET with the relevant AE Title of the PACS host,
XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX with its relevant host IP address,
and PPP with its port.
Similarly, BMIPACS:4242 with the respective local AET and port.
 
Replace AAAA with the correct PatientID and StudyDate with an actual study date.

out-dir indicates the output directory. We are storing it to the present directory in this example.

Now, run it.

5. The output will return the StudyInstanceUID and PatientID in test1.csv as below in the specified output directory:
"xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx", "AAAA"

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Pandemic Atlanta Lockdown - Week 8

Front entrance blocked
Weeks are going fast with work, and weekends are going faster! Weekdays, I wake up early 6 - 7 a.m, have my coffee and oats, put on proper clothes, then go to my work desk in the living room. Although I like to stop working at 4:45 pm, nowadays, I end up working longer. I also had some deadlines, and so that is expected. Last Thursday night I slept at 3 a.m. (literally it was Friday already when I went to sleep past midnight), as I was busy trying to finish my work before a call on Friday morning.

Walmart and the price gouging third-party

I managed to return and get the refund of the overpriced (priced at 5X the usual price) water filter replacement from Walmart. Although Walmart mentioned I could send it for free from USPS or FedEx, USPS told me that only FedEx will accept it for free. USPS would require me to pay 9.90$. Not only that. Using USPS would slow down my refund as Walmart refunds when the return barcode is scanned by FedEx. I left a 1-* review, complaining about the price-gouging. Several days have passed and my review has not been approved. Apparently, even if you are cheated you cannot be too harsh and too open about the scam in the reviews. But fake positive reviews are tolerated and often are the norm. It sucks. But that's how it is. Amazon and TripAdvisor are no different either.

Public Transport in Atlanta Now

Not all the seats are for sitting
I took the MARTA bus to go to the post office (and then walked to the nearby FedEx drop-off box). The bus had notes asking people not to sit next to each other. Basically, every other seat had stickers stating, "Do not sit here." Also, everyone enters and exits through the middle door. The driver seat and the front door are blocked. We do not have to pay for the bus fare. Only the metro fair must be paid if you take the underground.

The Non-Linear Memory

Memories are weird. I don't know whether it is common for everyone or just me. I have a "non-linear memory." I remember some events more than others more vividly - and the events that I remember clearer feel like that happened more recently than they actually are. This pandemic is messing me up even more. I feel like the 3 months of 2020 Mid February - Mid May has been a decade. Every country talks about how its citizens are their utmost priority. We, foreigners in temporary visas, are the bottomfeeders. With International travels halted and hiring freezes, switching countries or companies have become an impossible task too. Add the social distancing and the fate of living alone due to circumstances. This has become a nightmare, without exaggeration. Everyone is yearning for when they will be able to get back to normal. Then again the fear of second waves when the countries open up. Now there are studies that the pandemic may go on for 36 months! Initially, the number was 18 months. Is this pandemic here to stay, just like the AIDS pandemic?

My apartment community and an idiot

Bali, Indonesia - 2020 February
Apart from the post office visit to drop my overpriced water-filter replacement, I haven't gone out for 2 months now. The only time I go out of my apartment is just to throw trash and check my mail. This time when I went to check the mail, an idiot was standing in front of the mailroom, nearly blocking the entrance, without masks, checking his mobile. After some time, he started to cough vigorously into his elbow as I was collecting my mail. Come on. If you are coughing, why not wear a mask, and why stay at the entrance of the mailroom where people will inevitably come to get the mail? Are you trying to spread your disease, perhaps COVID-19, to as many people as possible? I got my mail and ran as quick as possible without making eye contact. I am sure this pandemic is going to turn everyone into anti-socials. Some people deny the severity of the pandemic, while the others get grumpy of everyone else and consider everyone a viral threat.

Far away land

Singapore - 2020 February
Staying away from the homeland is hard for many. When I moved to Portugal in 2012, I quickly made a group of friends and then made a family while living there, making Portugal my second home. I also had a great Ph.D. advisor who was a wonderful mentor. Although we moved across countries, I still miss that feeling and life in Portugal. Especially, Atlanta is not such a place as Lisboa where I have had many friends and loving memories. But at least I was with family and surrounded by people wherever I went, even in Atlanta. Before the pandemic, no distance was too far for me. Of course, I had to apply for visas and stuff, holding one of the weakest passports in the world. But that did not make me feel down or weak. But the pandemic has hit hard, and that too to face it alone. Not entirely sure what is next and what to expect next as the pandemic life has become the new normal.

Be nice to everyone

Doha, Qatar - 2020 February
Mood swings are quite the norm nowadays. I am an extrovert who loves to travel, interact with people, and roam around. The pandemic has changed it. This week also opened to some bad news for one of my friends. Moreover, the question in me grows stronger - what I achieve these days. The meaning of life. I don't think staying home alone doing little software edits or maintaining software is my purpose in life. But again, first responders and medical staff are losing their lives fighting this deadly pandemic. We do our best to not give them more workload by being careless and go out aimlessly. I ask everyone to be nice to everyone. Several of us are indeed alone in this, despite the slogan, "You are not alone in this." As for now, even 2021 remains a huge question mark -- with visa complexities and the potential need for yet another migration. But at least we can hope this won't last forever.
Meaning of life

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Pandemic Atlanta Lockdown - Week 7

My apartment community
This week went quite fast I was busy with RSNA abstracts for the first half of the week. 

The arrival of the price-gouged water filter replacement

The overpriced Waterfilter arrived at my apartment via USPS. In Walmart.com, the price used to be 14.15$. But the cruel third-party seller price-gouged it to 70.15$. I ordered it without checking. I canceled it instantly. But they ignored my cancelation and sent it - as they assumed I wouldn't return amid the pandemic. I am going to go and drop it at the post office so that they won't repeat this cruel tactic on another person. I complained to Walmart. But apparently, they cannot take any action against the seller. But the seller magically disappeared from Walmart after I complained. Not sure what is happening. I am returning via the nearby post office this Monday. I hope I will get the money back from the third-party seller. It worked in Amazon.com always. I hope Walmart.com is not much worse compared to Amazon. With the COVID-19 pandemic going strong, I can expect more and more price gouging, which started with masks and hand sanitizers.

The 4-Layer Rooibos Tea

Movies at home

I made some cakes and also cooked as usual. I also watched two movies - One is Midsommer from Amazon Prime, and another movie is Senthoora Poove, a 1988 Tamil Movie. Senthoora Poove is the first movie I watched in my projector. It felt like I am in a movie theater. I was starting to watch that movie in 2003 but had to rush to my chemistry class. So after nearly two decades, I finally managed to finish that movie. This is similar to me reading a book named "Kadal Pura" in 2002. I had finished reading part 1 of the 3 parts (3 books). But never got the chance to finish reading the last 2 parts. Unfortunately, I do not remember part 1 anymore. So if I want to finish the book, I should start from the beginning.

What is next?

Chocolate cake in a cup
It is still cold in Atlanta. Staying home - some days feeling down, and other days feeling better. It is always up and down. It is hard to feel normal and happy when many things remain out of our control. We are used to doing things as we wish, and nothing had ever prevented me from flying across continents. I had to make sure I get the visas and tickets. That was always a hurdle. But nothing drastic as a deadly pandemic. The end of the pandemic seems way too far. Countries are still locked down. International borders are tightly shut down. Travel plans are being canceled. The new batch of international students is starting to get worried. But there is also optimism from some people. Even if the countries open, it is not clear when will the pandemic end. Scientists have come to a consensus that this may go on for 18 more months. Even after the countries open up, not sure when will all the nations lift the travel bans and when will it be actually safe to fly long distance again. As far as we are aware, we are already impacted until at least August 2021. Let's see how everything goes.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

How to make a Vegetarian Rooibos Tea Cake with Microwave

You may have read recipes for a Chocolate cake with a microwave oven. But how to make a Rooibos tea cake?

My final product!

Ingredients

3 full scoop of tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 full scoop of tablespoons sugar 

3/8 teaspoon baking powder 

3 tablespoons soya milk

3 tablespoons rooibos tea
 
Butter (equivalent to 3 tablespoons once melted) or 3 tablespoons of hazelnut oil

1/4 teaspoon natural vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon powder

A mixture of nuts (macadamia nuts, pecans, pistachio, almonds, and cashew). 
I bought this South African Rooibos Tea from Amazon.com. It is good and reasonably priced.

Instructions 

Strong Rooibos Tea
1. Make a thick Rooibos tea by adding one tablespoon of rooibos tea to a glass and add just barely enough boiling water (like 6 tablespoons).

2. Wait for 5 minutes for the Rooibos tea to be ready.

3. In the meantime, put the all-purpose flour and baking powder in a big microwave-safe round glass container. If you have self-raising flour, you can use 3.25 full tablespoon scoops of that instead of this mix. Add sugar and mix with a spoon thoroughly to make this mix uniform.

4. Add butter, vanilla extract, and soya milk. If you are a vegan, please feel free to replace the butter with hazelnut oil.

5. Carefully add about around 3 tablespoons of Rooibos tea. Make sure to filter as you add the tea to the mix, as you don't want the particles in the cake. Alternatively, you may just use the Rooibos Matcha tea as it gives you a thick tea without the complexity of filtering.

Preparing the final mixture
6. Add cinnamon powder. Thoroughly mix everything with the spoon into a perfectly smooth mixture. Make sure the butter is mixed properly also.

7. Microwave high heat 90 seconds.

8. Carefully topple the container to a flat plate and slowly tap on the back of the bowl for the cake to fall on the plate.

9. Decorate with nuts.

10. Ready to eat in 2 minutes once it is not hot anymore.


This is sufficient for 2 people. But if you are as obsessed with Rooibos tea as me, you may finish it on your own!

Monday, April 27, 2020

Pandemic Atlanta Lockdown - Week 6

Blueprint of the 7-layer spiced coffee
Nothing new this week. The pandemic continues to destroy the world, and especially the USA. Some countries have managed to overcome or contain their outbreaks. Georgia plans to reopen by April 30th. However, we continue to work from home. Even if the cities and states reopen, the international borders remain shut down. No real sign of normalcy in the near future.

In fact, what is normalcy? There are predictions that this pandemic has changed human life forever. People becoming more distant and less physical maybe the new norm. Maybe more waves and namaste gestures to replace the typical handshakes and hugs? States are already discussing reopening. As the number of deaths piles up, everything has become statistics. What is the difference between 2 million and 3 million? We are in a horrible reality. But this is not new to humanity. Historians are drawing parallels to the 1918 Flu Pandemic. Perhaps we already know the answers to future questions. We need to look back into history.

However, this pandemic is still new to several of us individually. It will also affect the foreigners who live in temporary visas such as study visas and employment visas. Countries are becoming more nationalistic and globalization has taken a huge hit too. The human loss also has caused distrust among the governments. We need to wait and observe how things go.

Pandemic and Counter-Intuitive Measures

The 7-layer spiced coffee
My apartment community's leasing center has stopped accepting USPS packages. USPS doesn't deliver packages to our doorstep. Now, "as a courtesy", USPS is holding our packages in the post office for 30 days free of charge. This move from our leasing center is, ostensibly to protect its staff. But in fact, they could just let the USPS drop it at the leasing center and drop it later at our doorstep in a contact-less manner. I know it will be overhead. But they could have managed it better, rather than forcing us to go to the post office to collect our parcels when we ask for the delivery exactly to avoid going out. This is just an example. I see how some pandemic measures are actually leading to adverse effects. Some of these measures, rather than letting people to stay home, force them to take additional measures (such as having to go to the post office to collect the parcels and transitting more buses since several bus routes are canceled by MARTA - Atlanta's public transportation system). Also, such reduced public transportation can also lead to a higher concentration of riders.

Price gouging

Chat with Walmart agent
As the pandemic has lead to a shortage of several essential items, price gouging is also on full swing. Some middlemen purchase items in bulk and then sell them online for an inflated price. I ordered a 4-pack water filter from a 3rd party seller, named "Soflo Boutique" in Walmart.com. That was 70.15$. Double the usual price! Then I found the 6-pack of the same filter from Target.com for just 48.71$, the actual price. So instantly canceled the order. There is a Walmart promise that if we cancel on time (which I did, almost instantly!) the seller must respond within a business day. Now, a week has passed and they have shipped the item, ignoring my message. This is a clear predatory practice. The reason is, they know we are not going to bother returning the item amid a pandemic.

Walmart.com Chat

I again complained to Walmart.com chat agent on Friday since the message I sent to the third-party vendor via walmart.com messaging did not receive a reply for more than 48 hours. I had to wait a long time for the chat agent to appear online. I can understand that this is due to the pandemic and the increased demand.

Time is imaginary!
What funny was, the waiting time displayed in the chat window was changing arbitrarily. As the wait time is 180 minutes. Then suddenly reduced to 100 minutes after 10 minutes. After around 100 more minutes, the wait time dropped to 1 minute! I prepared to chat. And it went back to 40 minutes! It kept oscillating back and forth until eventually, the chat agent did appear. The first chat agent seemed like a bot. But eventually, a real human appeared. They mentioned they will ask the seller "that the order be cancelled immediately". It will be best if these third-party vendors stop capitalizing on a deadly pandemic. We already have more than enough things to worry about during this pandemic.

 This reminds me of the good old days. Every time I tried to download something, it stops at 99%. Remaining time to download used to deviate back and forth from 10 minutes to 1 minute, to 20 minutes. A phone call would then disconnect the modem connection, and thus halting the almost complete download. We have come a long way in Internet connectivity. But we still have miles to go!

Whipped chocolate coffee

Caffeine Rush

I know I should avoid too much caffeine intake. It may have a negative health impact. But, it is ok once in a while, I hope. I made some interesting coffee-based, alcoholic, as well as other drinks this week. One such drink I made this week is the 7-layer spiced coffee, which took me a significant effort. The whipped chocolate coffee is quite simple. First, whisk instant coffee, cocoa powder, and sugar into a creamy mix with the help of a milk frother, with a little water. Add this creamy mix carefully to the top of a tall glass of soya milk. Finally, top up the drink with vanilla ice cream.

I also made a moringa leaf drink with soya milk. First, add moringa leaf powder to honey and water. Then, mix it thoroughly and add to soya milk in a tall glass. Whisk using a milk frother until everything is mixed well. However, my conclusion is, moringa leaf powder tastes weird. Don't try this drink at home.


Take care, and stay safe everyone. :)

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Pandemic Atlanta Lockdown - Week 5

Box of the birthday cake from my friends, with all their greetings, 2013 January in Lisboa.
Sometimes we move non-stop and way too fast. Only when we slow down, we have time to look back and appreciate the good things we had in our life. The COVID-19 pandemic is such a moment. We are all forced to slow down. Some people are used to staying home alone, while others are trying other coping mechanisms. We have already completed one month of working from home. So far, our team has managed the work from home quite elegantly.

From an Inconvenience to the Bitter Reality

The pandemic started as a minor inconvenience for many of us: canceled travel plans and being forced to stay alone away from family due to the International travel restrictions. But the situation keeps getting worse in the USA and the world. Now, we know that we have already lost a massive number of human lives, and this count keeps increasing. Also, this is going to be a gigantic economic disaster, too, once the pandemic is over. Everyone is comparing this pandemic as a combination of the 1918 Spanish Flu and the Great Depression.

Some more greetings!
We already hear about cuts in benefits and salary increments. At this point, at least one university has introduced pay cuts up to 20% or furloughs for all its staff and faculty. The hiring freeze also means a risk of unemployment for those in temporary work contracts. For those in work visas, this may also mean having to leave the country, as hiring freezes make it hard to find a new job as the freezes last until August 2021. Nomadic life (i.e., moving between countries and continents for life) is not new to me. But being forced to move by a deadly pandemic followed by an economic Great Depression isn't going to be fun. There is undoubtedly a cloud of uncertainty that covers the rest of the year and next year, like a dark cloud.

Coping up with the Current Situation

Now we have a better perception: This is a deadly pandemic, and its effects are going to last beyond this year, as a humanitarian and economic crisis. Having that in mind, I am complaining less about minor inconveniences, such as having to stay home alone. At least for now, I have the job, and I eat and drink as usual. Although I do not go out, I order the materials for delivery (from Kroger, WholeFoods, and Amazon Fresh) and make myself good food and drinks. I have successfully replicated a decent life and happy moments alone with cocktails and fancy food I cook for myself once in a while (thus, replacing the need for a random restaurant/bar run). Oh yes, of course, I still miss Lisboa's Hard Rock Cafe. I also have my projector for music videos. I spend my weekends mostly practicing Portuguese.

To overcome all these negative moments, I wanted to refresh my memories of my young, energetic days, and previous travels. So I was going through my old photos. And I found some interesting photos from 2013 January -- The case of the cake from my friends on my birthday in Lisboa. ❤️ Good memories. :) 

Future Uncertainties

Bombay Sapphire with lime juice
I know there are challenges ahead. I willingly accept uncertainties as a positive part of my life. But there is a fine difference between taking challenges on your own vs challenges imposed by a deadly pandemic. Predictions such as an economic Great Depression spanning the first half of the 2020s is worrying. Of course, the humanitarian costs caused by the deadly disease and the lengthy path towards the normalcy are even more concerning before we can even think about the economic hardships.

The economic downfall of the countries may force many of us out of our resident countries. I have been very flexible with migrations 2012 - 2018 and always took them positively. 2017 tested me with its extreme challenges. I managed it quite well, despite the way too many flights, uncertainties, and migrations. The last time I moved between countries or continents were in 2018 summer. I might have to wear my nomad hat once again in 2021, judging from how things are going. I believe I have the energy to take this challenge in 2020 - 2021. I might have some unhappy moments and uncertain times in the process. But we will survive together.

In the meantime, I hope everyone takes care and stays safe! Peace.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

C-MOV with DCM4CHE

The correct DCM4CHE Commands for the query-based retrieval at study level, with using only an AccessionNumber.

#1) Start the DCM4CHE StoreScp. The storescp process starts a simple DICOM listener.

./storescp --accept-unknown --directory /storage_location_in_the_filesystem  --filepath {00100020}/{0020000D}/{0020000E}/{00080018}.dcm  -b BMIPACS:4244

BMIPACS is the storage AE Title locally, which listens to port 4244. You can set this to be any available port. Once started, this StoreScp accepts any incomping DICOM messages.

#2) Run FindScu to find the StudyInstanceUID from the AccessionNumber, since this extraction is in study level.

./findscu -c  SRC_AET@XX.XX.XX.XX:PPP -b BMIPACS:4244 -m AccessionNumber=YYYY -r StudyInstanceUID

SRC_AET is the source AE title. XX.XX.XX.XX represents the source's IP address and PPP represents its port. We find the StudyInstanceUID of the Accessions with AccessionNumber YYYY in this command.

From the output, we get the StudyInstanceUID from the below line.
....
(0020,000D) UI [ZZZZ] StudyInstance
....

#3) Run MoveScu to get the images using the StudyInstanceUID (retrieved in #2) and AccessionNumber. 

./movescu -c  SRC_AET@XX.XX.XX.XX:PPP -b BMIPACS:4244 -m AccessionNumber=YYYY -m StudyInstanceUID=ZZZZ --dest BMIPACS


Retrieved images can also be moved between servers or box, using rclone.

$ rclone copy local_src box:dest_in_box --local-no-check-updated

or with nohup,

$ nohup rclone copy local_src box:dest_in_box --local-no-check-updated &

Monday, April 13, 2020

Cooking during the COVID-19 pandemic

View from my balcony.
I was happily roaming the streets and planning trips. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit hard, and I am suddenly working from home and always home for the past month (except for a visit to Kroger supermarket once).


Many of my extrovert and outdoor friends are turning to new habits, such as reading books. Weekdays I am busy with work, and the weekends and late evenings go with cooking, cleaning, Twitter and blog posts, and practicing Portuguese. This post accumulates some of my Tweets displaying short segments of my cooking sessions.







Also some music videos from my projector.


Some older cooking videos this year.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Pandemic Atlanta Lockdown - Week 4

Skyy Vodka, Kahlua, and ice cream

Busy despite the lockdown

We are reaching the completion of the 1st month of WFH. Although the WFH and the lockdown looked like I will have too much time with nothing to do, the reality was far from that. The weekdays went with work. In fact, thanks to collaborating with some workaholic colleagues, my work time stretched from my regular 7:25 a.m - 4:45 p.m to until quite late. To adjust to that, I also started a bit later this week, around 8:25 a.m instead. I will see how this goes in the upcoming weeks.
 
Weekdays are quite busy with work and then cooking and cleaning. So only weekends I got some extra-time, that I spend with music videos, Twitter, learning Portuguese, and writing these weekly blog posts. I have finally reached the Diamond League (the top-most one) in Duolingo! That's an achievement on its own. As usual, we also had the virtual coffee hour on Friday at 3 p.m. This time, we had some important work topics mixed with our fun hour. Consequently, the coffee hour lasted until 5 p.m!

Groceries and delivery

Full fridge again!
On Monday morning around 9 a.m. I ordered grocery items from Kroger. Although I asked for the 1-day delivery, the earliest time available was only 4 p.m - 5 p.m on Wednesday. I chose those slots. The delivery was further delayed, and I receieved it by 7:51 p.m. The person who did the delivery was awesome. She made sure to get perfect substitutes for whatever item not available. When in doubt, she sent a message to confirm. 

Although I asked for a doorstep contactless delivery, I realized that the weight will be too much for the delivery person to handle. So I went downstairs as I would do usually to get my groceries to the entrance of the building near to the parking. But with a safe distance of 10 meters, I told the Instacart delivery person to leave all the groceries at the side near the parking. She happily obliged. It is safe for both of us. Then once she was done with unloading and bidding goodbye, I went and picked all the groceries to my 2nd-floor apartment!

Friends with a distance

Reaching the Diamond league!
The only times I went out these days were to throw the trash. On the way, I saw a neighbor I usually make a chit chat with. We both intentionally slowed down and walked further from each other. After reaching a safe distance of at least 10 meters from each other, we turned back and talked as usual. I mentioned to her that "this social distancing" pointing to the space between us, and she nodded with a smile. We both knew what we were doing.

Yes, I take social distancing seriously. I know sounds weird for a people-oriented extrovert. But I am not an idiot to ignore science. These are difficult days, and as such we have to make small steps to help slow the pandemic spread. We still have a long way to go. Even we are planning to work on some work related to COVID-19, and every small contribution helps humanity to overcome this huge crisis.

80% of the residents who live in this Atlanta Senior Apartment Community have tested positive for COVID-19, according to FOX. 6 people have already passed away from this community due to COVID-19. Very sad and scary because that community is for seniors. i.e., a high-risk community. When I live inside my apartment perfectly sealed off from humanity, I do not witness the bad news first-hand. But the threat is real and is at the doorstep.

One of the papers I co-authored last year eventually got accepted. I was happy about this positive news amid all this negativity. I was more stable this week as we are getting used to WFH and lockdown life. However, that didn't prevent me from feeling bad and down once in a while due to the pandemic and its local and global impact. I hope we overcome this pandemic soon and also manage to keep ourselves safe and sane in the meantime. I don't want to return to humanity as a lifeless zombie once everything is over. Let's see how everything goes in the upcoming weeks.



Cry cry, can't you see the music...

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...
 

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Parque das Nações and Expo '98

Gil, the Mascot
Parque das Nações was built for Expo '98 World's Fair and incorporated into Lisboa. It is arguably my most favorite neighborhood in the world, with so many great memories. Over the 7 years between 2012 - 2019, I witnessed the growth and evolution of Parque das Nações. Old restaurants replaced by new ones. Old friends replaced by new ones. A good thing about migrating to new places is, you can start afresh. Life from bottom up. Meet new people and make new friendships. However, this also comes with a challenge. While you can make some nice friends, you will also lose that "best friend" moments. Most humans are wired to have their best friends from childhood and school days. Also, the quickly moving life makes you lose track of friends you made all along the way.
Also, not everyone that you meet on your path is on the same journey as you. In a flight, a few may be going to a new country for travel, a few may be returning home, and others may be traveling for routine business. While the Erasmus Mundus was my best memories so far, I cannot say the same for everyone. Others may have had a different experience. However, at certain point in our life at a certain place, we all crossed paths. Sometimes I imagine a future date where we can bring back all our old friends to Lisboa. It might be hard as we all are different continents and most have moved on with their life. I have developed this special bond for Lisboa, and Parque das Nações is surely a major part of it. I imagine a day I retire in this neighborhood decades later. :)