Saturday, May 30, 2020

Pandemic Atlanta Lockdown - Week 11

A mini hike in a mini forest
This week continues to be busy. I try to focus on my research. I also went to the nearby Morningside Natural Preserve for a walk with my colleague on Sunday. We maintained social distance, and no humans were encountered or harmed during our adventure. 

This was the Memorial Day long weekend that I was supposed to spend in Suriname. Now I am home for almost 24/7 due to the COVID-19. There were years when I traveled back-to-back without rest or sleep. Specifically, the years 2013, 2015, and 2017. In 2013, we had a busy Christmas/year-end vacation with trips via flights, a cruise, and trains: 🇸🇪🇫🇮🇸🇪→🇩🇰🇸🇪→ 🇩🇰🇸🇪🇵🇹. 2017 took this further - it was utterly nomadic with my migrations for the whole year: 🇵🇹🇧🇪🇵🇹🇧🇪🇵🇹🇧🇪🇸🇦🇧🇪🇵. 2015 was interesting too, with my summer in Croatia with a short-term scientific mission, and weekends in various neighbor countries of Croatia.

ODL Summit, Santa Clara, 2015
It was 25/07/2015: I returned to Lisboa from Croatia after my summer internship a few hours ago. Now I leave home again with my suitcase, to the metro station. Going to the airport for my next flight to San Jose for the ODL Summit. I walk like a zombie - my brain doesn't work, but my legs move in the right direction. I surely lack sleep. Do I really need to do this? I ask myself. It happens to me at times - I overdo things to tire myself. But then, I say, "I will never remember these tiring moments spent in transit. But the good memories will last." Ironically, five years have passed, and I still remember the tiring moments clearly. Those are surely a big part of travel memories. The excitement, tiring last-minute packing and journey, and the excitement again at the destination, and the good memories after the trip.

Lovran, Croatia, 2015
It is not clear when I can resume random walks and fun travel to random countries. There are also talks about a "new normal." So far, the pandemic has regressed our life conditions and the world quickly. When Singapore banned Chinese nationals from entering, it seemed surreal and weird. But within weeks, the world nations have started to block each other from entering. International travels have virtually come to a halt. We are not sure whether we will ever return to normal. Is the new normal a better one or a dystopian one? Only time will tell.

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.


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 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 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.

Update on June 6th: I resubmitted the request on June 6th as no response received for my previous request. The Twitter account managed by couchsurfing is worse and not helpful at all. They really want to scam you to pay that subscription fee until you pay that monthly membership at least once.
Now, I have received the below email:

Hope these scammers delete my account this time.

Update on June 21st: Finally, my account has been deleted. I received the below email confirming that.

Hello Kk,

Thank you for reaching out to us. Your data has been deleted. We will also be deleting your information from this customer support tool, including your email address. This will be our last correspondence unless you reach out to us via email or through a new Couchsurfing account.

Thank you for using Couchsurfing.

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.

And DuoLingo gets heartbroken.

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="">
  <xsl:output method="text"/>

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

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

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

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:
"", "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, 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 always. I hope 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!


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 It is good and reasonably priced.


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!