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.

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