The Cat and The Bear: Puffin!

I really can’t wait for our next trip… to Iceland!

This Saturday the bear will start his summer school in Iceland, and I will be giving a presentation at a conference in Sweden. But after that… it’s time for a road trip! We’ll spend 8 days driving around the Iceland ring road, with the total length of 1,332 km.

The itinerary has been set, hotels are booked. Activities include.. natural steam baths *a lot of them! the bear needs to relax after submitting his thesis*, glacier hiking, waterfalls, and meet the puffy fluffy puffins! Well, ehem, according to Lonely Planet, puffin is also one of Icelandic delicacies, let’s see if I’ll be heartless enough to eat that cute animal.

At first we thought we’ll also meet the bear’s northern relatives… polar bears! But according to Lonely Planet it is very unlikely to meet them in Iceland. Even though sometimes a polar bear is seen floating around on an iceberg, it won’t stay long because the locals will shoot it :(.

We’ll travel there before the main season starts, so prices are still considerably low. But still, it’s not so easy to find cheap accommodation, sleeping-bag-accommodation is very common as a cheaper alternative. One night we’ll even stay in a container! :D

picture is taken from here

Unfortunately, we’ll miss the best time to see the northern light a.k.a aurora borealis, which is around February-March :(. Well, let’s hope we’ll be lucky enough to see it while we’re there..

So.. see you soon, puffins! :)

Fresh from My Oven

Have I told you that I got a cute mini oven as my birthday present? *thanks, dear bear ;)* As proofs that the oven doesn’t just sit there unused, here you go, some of the results…

Baked Chicken Wings

One day, in a Pakistani shop where I usually buy Indomie here in Trento, I found this mix powder to make Tandoori chicken. The result was fantastic! But still, it was too hot/spicy for my taste. The next experiments, with similar ingredients, I tried to bake chicken wings instead. After few experiments to find the perfect recipe, I finally found it!

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Empty Inbox Policy

Just recently, my office decided to change the mail server from Microsoft to Google. I’m using Gmail since the beginning of time, forwarding my office mails into my private Gmail account, so that I only have to open one mail client for everything. So, even though Google lets you sign-in to more than one account, and it’s so easy to switch between accounts, at first I thought, “Oh, what a hassle, now I have to check my emails in two accounts.” But now I feel that this is actually a good thing, that work emails are now strictly separated from private emails.

One more good thing comes out of this change, I finally dedicated my time to manage my inbox. Someone sent me this lifehack after he saw my inbox with 5000++ emails, saying something like “Don’t you know that there is this feature called ‘archive’??” :D. I thought, why should I? I know which ones are read and which are unread anyway. But then, I would like to give it a try. It took me a whole day to clean my inbox and re-organize my mail client. Now that Gmail has this new feature of automatically separating emails coming from social network, advertisements, forum, etc., my filters and labels become obsolete, I don’t need them anymore.

And you know what, it works like magic!

I become more thrilled when there is a new email comes into my inbox. I simplify the rules from lifehack, I don’t separate follow-up and hold emails. Everything that comes into my inbox, whether it is something I need to reply, or something I need to do, becomes my to-do list. When that email is replied, or I do something about it (put it into my calendar, add it to my task list, get the task done, or whatever), it can be archived. And then, I become obsessed with cleaning my inbox! Emails that need to be replied I reply immediately. Before I usually wait for some time, or even forget about them completely *replying emails is not my favorite activity*.

Well, the downside is that now I check my inbox more often, because I’m so eager to make it empty again ^^; I need to work on that. Uhm, actually, my smartphone knows when there’re new emails, so I just need to watch out for phone notifications, no need to check every 10 minutes. Anyway, I really recommend this trick to make your day more productive.

There’s one more policy that I’ve added in my life: empty sink policy! Do dishwashing right after cooking or eating, no compromise :D

Updates on PhD Life

picture is taken from PhD Comics

In order to be consistent with ‘one blogpost per month’ this year *damn, I was more productive back then…*, I will just write some updates on my PhD life, which is going quite well. I’m halfway through my second year now, and I can say.. I’m back on track, after being a bit lost during the first year :).

#1 Qualifying exam… passed!


PhD Research Proposal – Qualifying Exam from Paramita Mirza

I passed the exam before Christmas holiday started last year, leaving me in a super relaxed mood during the holiday :). Out of the three members of the commission, only one of them was active in the discussion, maybe because she was not so far related to the topic. Almost all of them agree that this was too much as one single PhD topic, someone said I could produce 3 PhDs with it :D. Well, a bit ambitious plan is fine I guess :p.

#2 Work hard, travel hard!

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Myself: redefined

People change over time, so once in a while I feel the need to redefine myself,  asking myself “Who am I?”, to be able to go forward.

  • I love cats. Not only because they’re cute, but also because they give me some comfort human cannot give. Only applies if the cat is friendly with me.
  • I hate waiting. Sometimes the impatient is manageable, sometimes it’s not.
  • I love water, and sun. A beach, by the river, a lake or a waterfall on a sunny day is the perfect combination of place and time.
  • I hate loud places where we have to shout to each other to communicate. Except when we don’t have to communicate, just enjoy the music and/or drinks and sing along.
  • I cannot express myself well, verbally. But this skill, I’m sure, can be learned and practiced.
  • I don’t need a crowd of friends surrounding me, few but very close ones are more than enough. But only one special person is not enough, especially if that one starts drifting away, I’ll drown.
  • I did bad things, at least from my point of view. But I shouldn’t let myself feel miserable about those bad decisions in the past, nor should I let other people make me feel bad.
  • I hold grudge. For at least 5 years.
  • I still cannot manage my time and my priorities efficiently. I hope this can change.
  • I can never trust a man 100% that he will commit to one woman for the rest of his life, in particular those who are adventurous and/or sociable. I’ve had some examples. So for now, for me ‘marriage’ is under a big question mark.
  • A woman’s jealousy is destructive, especially to herself. Taken from Blue Jasmine. That’s why the previous point is an important presumption.
  • My attitude towards ‘love’ is unpredictable, sometimes it can be very irrational, sometimes I analyze everything logically.
  • My view on religion is depicted in The Invention of Lying.
  • I’m in a way self-centered, since I put more time into intra-personal thinking than inter-personal.

Now, why do I make this public?  I could just save it to myself to be read, let’s say, 5 years later, and see how much I’ll change in terms of thoughts and opinions. It’s just that, I feel that because of the fifth point, other people misunderstand me for a sweet-shy-quiet-little girl, or sometimes the opposite: an arrogant-quiet girl, while in fact, I’m much more than that. I can even sometimes be very bitter and resentful. Oh well, I’m only human.

Note that I’m not in my healthiest emotional state while writing this. If I’m happy and content with myself and my life, this self-reflecting thing would have never crossed my mind.