Year Review of Li Chen
Captured on 2019-04-07 18:38:00
GPS location: 49.559311, -123.235581
Camera: Apple iPhone XR Focal:4.25 ISO:25 Shutter:11.89
Description: Amazing colors strengthened by PS. Credit: Shabby
Captured on 2019-10-07 14:04:55
GPS location: 31.060633, 121.150252
Camera: Xiaomi MIX 2S Focal:4.22 ISO:100 Shutter:9.48
Description: Amazing architecture skill turning an obsolete quarry to a luxury hotel. First and last unlimited IHG FN.
Captured on 2019-10-15 18:55:17
GPS location: 22.533424, 113.979129
Camera: Xiaomi MIX 2S Focal:4.22 ISO:787 Shutter:4.32
Description: A theme park built with great efforts. Magnificant decorating light at night.
The year of 2019 starts from a ski trip in Whistler, with a fancy new year eve’s dinner in Stanley park and best view of Vancouver’s firework from the perfect hotel room in Marriott. Really this year I have the most progress in skiing. A total of 19 days on the slope this season allowed me to explore new terrains with confidence. One unexpected thing is the old ski was broken, seems rarely happened in skier's society.
There was an unexpectedly heavy snow in Seattle in early February. Sarcastically I had a flight to Denver for seeking fresh powder on the heaviest snowy day, so unluckily the flight was canceled after being delayed for a whole evening. After rescheduling the whole trip, we finally made it for the unforgettable Mongolia Bowl in Vail, the tidy moguls in Beaver Creek and the luxury experience in Ritz. Meanwhile after years of revision and review, the iCafe Trilogy has finally published. Way longer than I expected, but it is really something solid and useful. Upto now, 12 groups in 6 countries have requested the tool for their projects. In addition, it has branched out into a full family of techniques for vessel analysis, such as LATTE, FRAPPE and MOCHA. The names were finalized with the hint of cafe.
After a serious of ski trips full of fun, I suddenly realize it is time to prepare a MICCAI (top conference in my field) submission. I missed the last year’s submission due to bad planning but seems this year the situation repeated again. I was hurried for initiating a new project with only one month’s preparation time. As a result, I felt more and more desperate when preliminary results were not turning out to be as expected. One week before deadline, I could barely finish the preliminary results, and I didn’t have the patience any more to further improve the results. No doubt, the paper was rejected due to lack of experiments.
I continued to work on the postponed projects in April, actually each one was on halfway and sadly there were many of projects at the same time. It occurred to me that frequent switching between projects wasted too much time. Codes written months ago when picked up again were completely strange to me, maybe I am also suffering from memory loss in recent years. Seems my projects were not the only things that were postponed without a strict deadline, the summer program was finally launched after years of delay. So as the GPU application. But at least things are improving, with all the efforts, now our lab has powerful enough computing ability to welcome the heat wave of deep learning.
We were serious about the knee artery vessel wall analysis project after enough training labels were generated and initial results were shown promising. This project became a time-consuming but meaningful work in the next following months. I can foresee there are much to explore in the following years out of this project, and it turned out my instinct was right. But what faded out of my priority list was my technical paper after its conference version got rejected with careless reviews. Annual MR conference ISMRM was held in the beautiful city of Montreal this May. My three posters were presented, but attracted less than expected interests. Although new ideas emerged in each ISMRM meeting, and editor interview of the iCafe paper was published in the yearly highlight brochure in this meeting, I did feel that I do not belong to that society somehow. With MICCAI to be held in China this year, I felt I should go there regardless of the acceptance of the submission.
June was the graduation season we celebrated three senior members in EE lab, one of which determined to become a professor went to industry surprisingly. Suddenly we found the group meeting was smaller in size. And I became more pressured as I was the second most senior PhD student in the lab but without passing general exam. Meanwhile summer is coming. In addition to the usual cherry-picking event, I caught up with the yearly free-fishing day on first weekend of June for harvesting oysters. Clearly there was more fun opening the hard shell of oysters than eating them (so many sands inside).
Summer in Seattle started around the National Day holiday with nice weathers and cool temperatures. With new students and scholars joining us for all kinds of activities, summer time always passes quickly. Remarkably, I witnessed the Seattle-to-Portland bike race, which looked like a carnival for the whole city. Hiking was also a popular activity, Tolmie Peak, Rampart Ridge, Lake Serene, Mount Si. Not as many as last year, but these trails had pretty good views.
The deadline for an AHA grant caught me in August. Actually that was expected years ago, but I did not take it seriously. One reason is I felt that I should be carefully considering what to propose in this grant, as it was supposed to relate with my latter half of PhD. The other is the less sense of emergence as its success or not will have no impact on my funding. So clearly neither I nor my adviser were serious in preparation, as until the last week we noticed there was an internal deadline a week ahead, and we almost got all materials ready only several hours ahead of that deadline. Maybe we cared more on how to enjoy the rest of the summer, like planning a bike tour around Lake Coeur d'Alene in Idaho, a road trip to the Yellowstone, both of which had fantastic views.
September was all about what I should do before the wonderful trip to China carefully planned for a while, such as the presentations to make, the papers to draft, the gifts to buy, the parties to attend. It became apparent that we had a fixed group of friends who will celebrate birthdays for each other, and the birthdays are nicely distributed evenly around the year.
My long expected greatest trip of the year started with a lobster meal on Royal Laurel flight by EVA, claimed to be the best flight service across the Pacific, followed by my best cousin’s wedding ceremony, a memorable stay at Shanghai InterContinental Wonderland (the hotel in a big cave), an invited presentation in Renji hospital to clinicians, attending MICCAI with one workshop presentation, one day adventure with 29239 steps in Hong Kong (the least popular tourist destination around the world now perhaps). In addition, after years, I finally found a right time for Chinese crabs.
The next thing after an international trip is usually the long adjustment period for sleep patterns. This time it was really severe, even until months later, I cannot sleep after 5am. The good thing is I accidentally found I can be productive in the morning. As piles of work to be done, including catching up with current projects and finalizing the last two papers for this year.
As the general exam finally finalized, I also need to prepare a 50-page report for dissertation proposal and a 50-minute presentation. Another time sensitive thing is I need to find a intern for next summer, which turned out that I was clearly badly prepared, from the perspective of understanding what knowledge is needed for the job and the coding ability. I did not even have time to carefully prepare a resume. Clearly I suffered again from the poor time arrangement. However, the knee project brought us with some good news, as we were the clear winner for the AHA/AWS competition.
The rejection of the grant was another bad news but without surprise, another lesson for bad arrangement of things. However, with the pace slowing down in holiday season, and all the papers submitted, I was finally able to consider what is the next step to research and how to plan the future. I finally had a decent resume and CV, registered a LinkedIn account, and refurbished my shaky website by adding recent progress in research. Maybe all I can hope now is better management of time and good luck in new year.
Much progress along with much thinking in the year of 2019.
I spent more time on research after completing all courses, as more projects need to be taken care of. That was reflected by 13% more time in the lab than last year, and I was working on four papers at the same time at the worst moment. But meanwhile bad time arrangement and unclear future planning made me suffer. From mathematical point of view, I would say each work is in its local extremes but combined all things together they might not be globally optimal. It is not difficult to keep things going with a strong motivation, but finding and maintaining the best direction to go requires deep insight and wisdom. From MICCAI paper preparation, I felt I cannot force myself doing a single thing with a strict deadline. It is really not easy to keep a clear mind on one thing under heavy stress. But meanwhile I cannot make proper arrangements so that I can take more ease when the days are approaching deadlines, which makes me sad.
When one busy period is gone, I think I need to take more time carefully planning the future. Like what to do next for my PhD dissertation, which became clearer after preparing that lengthy proposal report. And another tricky question of academy or industry, which I also tend to have an answer after more understanding of what I am good at and what the job market requires. Thinking carefully and long ahead of time is more important than actually doing the stuff.
Exercise has become a routine task for me this year, with a good balance between aerobic and anaerobic, short and long. I do feel constant exercise helps me maintain a good mental and energy state. But it is hard to accept the max heart rate is continuing to go down, and more hair is losing with the growing age.
I also noticed as the time going on, I am increasingly far away from my old friends, due to my excuses of being busy, even if I do admit maintaining good relationship with them is important. It occurred to me that I can do no worse by not making any contacts with an old friend for years, which is sadly exactly what I did.
With more workload, I do feel my mood can be impacted in a negative way, like I did not know why I cannot control myself in the dark month in March. I think I need to be more capable of handling stress, and try to be optimistic. As the numerous history has shown all challenging obstacles are finally solvable, anything cannot beat me will make me stronger.
In the next decade, I welcome anything no matter good or bad, hard or easy, old or new, with best wishes and hopes.
Better management of plans
More contacts with old friends
Be happy everyday