Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Miraculously Survived A Major Accident In Highway 5

We were in a fine mood while coming back from LA back to San Francisco Bay Area last Sunday (28th June) night through highway 5 before we encountered an accident. We all are alive with no major injuries apparently. The car rolled a few times to avoid a hit & run in the interstate 5 and ended up landing in the side of road breaking almost all the areas of the car except where Shusmita and Ahyan were sitting.

We had our early dinner in Aladin sweets that night buying fishes, soups and after driving around 100+ miles on the way home, Shusmita took the car from me as Ahyan was already sleeping by that time. She has been giving me some handy breaks in long drives for last few months. This time also she took it as a routine and I don't think she could do anything better to avoid this accident. While we were 130 miles away from LA and 250 miles before San Francisco Bay area, the accident happened at around 10:30 in a dark night.

I was in the navigator seat lying down instead of regular sitting position and was in the initial phase of taking a nap. So what Shusmita told me later is that a dark color Sedan was doing zig zag at a very high speed along the road and when it came to the first lane beside us, it started closing to us rapidly attempting a hit & run. Shusmita took our car from left most (2nd lane) to the side of the road. This way she avoided the hit from that drunk driver (I guess?! or may be crazy driver?!). If you have ever driven in highway five, you know that there are 2 roads - one going from LA to San Francisco/Sacramento i.e I 5 North and another approximately 30 feet parallal in the road coming from San Francisco to LA. In between this 30 feet, the place where we were at the time of accident, there were sands, bushes but no hard rocks or bridges or side bar. Anyway, Shusmita saw the car falling in the 5-7 feet deep sandy place (is it known as gutter?! like a flat deeper place in between the two roads working as a separator of the two highways) and hence tried to bring the car back into the road. She was driving at 75 mile per hour and hence quickly shifting the car from left to right and then right to left was impossible. So although she tried, the car went out of her car control. I jumped up from sleep and not knowing anything what happened in last 1 or 2 seconds, I was telling her What are you doing? What are you doing? Well, all she was trying is to take back the control of the car. As I was in a half lyed down position and not in a sitting position I had no way to jump and hold the steering to help her control the car. Even if I had, I think that would not help the situation. So what happened inevitably within next second or so is that the whole car started going a full round circle - the back of the car moving forward 180 degrees and at the same time to that flat sandy side of the road. In other words the car was falling to the side of the road at a very high speed, front side backward. At that time when the car started spinning or circling, I knew Shusmita had lost control of the car and whatever happens from now on would be random and we can't help it. The 2 possibilities that popped up in my mind as most likely to happen - was a car from behind will not be able to break on time and would hit us directly from behind OR our car will fell down into the side of the road. The first thing didn't happen but the second thing did - within next 4/5 seconds we were down in the side of the road, lets call it gutter; as there was neither any shoulder nor any island or divider there. The car at the speed of 75 mph started flipping in the sky and the first hit it landed was on my side in the windshield and roof. Not only once the car rolled and I didn't dare count how many times, but it could be anywhere between 3 to 6 times. The final landing of the car was in regular normal position. During the flipping of the car, as I didn't know what's in the side of the road, I thought it might be a canyon memorizing our recent Grand Canyon trip and we might fell down few thousands feet. I was thinking - oh, so it's ending up this way! Almighty, please make it as painless as possible! Fortunately, we had more blessings on us than I thought and the gutter was no more than a few feet deep.

The first thing I did after the car rolling stopped was to check if Shusmita and Ahyan are fine. At a first glance, they looked fine to me and I myself felt okay. So I switched ON the emergency light and tried to come out of the door. The door didn't open with a gentle push so I thought I will break the window. Not to my surprise, the window was already broken so I could come out of the window. And the car was completely destroyed looking from outside! I saw a few people on the opposite side of the highway coming acorss and shouting - Is there Anyone there? Are you okay? I replied - we are alive. Please call 911.

Then I saw blood coming out of my right hand and dropping on my jeans but I was neither feeling pain nor I was scared. I went to the back passenger side of the car to take Ahyan out of the car seat who was just starring at us as he came out of sleep. Before I could reach him, Shusmita already pulled him to her lap into the driver's seat. I went to the driver's door and couldn't open the door with the left uninjured hand. The guys across the street came by that time and helped Shusmita and Ahyan bring out of the car. They were so helpful and decent guys as well as of huge figures. They were having such a startled blank look at me when they first saw me come out of the window of the car! I thank them here once more. The condition of the car was not very visible to me as it was dark despite the light of the car and I couldn't find out my glasses. Despite that I could imagine easily that my favorite Honda Civic Sedan EX 2006 is gone forever. I was thanking almighty that what a survival we had just had!

Within 5 to 10 minutes the California Highway Patrol (CHP) came and within another 5 minutes came the fire brigade and ambulance. Well, once I found we were comparatively safer the first thing I thought is whether all our belongings were there in the car. What I saw is many things spread around here and there across the sands. So the first bag I tried to find out was my office Laptop bag and then my recently bought Kindle. I had to walk around 50 feet to pick the Kindle from sand. Although the police officers were telling me not to walk and stand steel in one place for my own safety I didn't stop until I found my Kindle. The immediate image in my mind was - I am lying down in the hospital bed and I must find the Kindle so that I can finish books after books during those boring bed rest times that are waiting for me next few days or weeks. Shusmita's iPhone was there hanging in the car charger but my iPhone was lost. Although iPhone is costlier than Kindle, I didn't resume searching for it as soon as I found the Kindle and followed the instruction of the police standing along the back side of the car. There were sands everywhere in our bags, dresses, devices, pants, pockets, hair etc. Even right now 2 days after the accident I find sands coming out of my wallet. I called Ezaz's mobile number first to tell him the situation so that he is aware of the accident and stays stand by with my other friends in Fremont for whatever I may need help on as next steps. While Shusmita was explaining me why and how the accident happened, I was consoling her and telling not to worry much about this and take it as a lifetime experience. I was even telling her that if I get my iPhone now, I will post a twitter message that we just survived an accident!

After a little while I started feeling dizzy and told the ambulance people that I might loose consciousness any time. So they packed me in a stretcher as well as Ahyan as patient and started doing different emergency checks on the way to KERN Trauma Medical Center. They were so habituated with accidents that they did everything routinely with care and high level of professionalism.

I hear people sometimes complaining how bad is America or living in USA. Well, I can't see of any other country (except your motherland which is always above any country on earth for no specific reason) that can have such a high quality of service and still get complaints over and over so that the level of service goes even to a higler level. We spent the whole night in KERN, Bakersfield and after my X-Rays didn't find anything major except glass inside my hand, they released us in the morning. Of course before releasing they did a small surgery on my right hand to took a glass from inside which needed only 2 stiches. But my pain in the lower right back was increasing over time although they didn't find any broken bones near that place in X-Ray. Urine test for internal bleeding also found only 0 to 2 percent blood level which is negligible.

Noel from Los Angeles drove almost 150 miles to pick us in the morning. He baught a car seat for Ahyan from Walmart and we picked some medicines from Walgreens before reaching the Devon's Body Shop at noon where my car was towed last night. CHP told us that we will get a police report mailed in 5 to 7 business days and they could not locate the drunk driver who caused the accident to us.

Here are some pictures of my damaged car to have an idea the extent of the shock - http://picasaweb.google.com/ashikuzzaman/CarAccidentOnHighway5June2009#

By the time we reached Dev0n's, Shahriar and Nitol reached the same place driving more than 250 miles from Fremont. We had lunch in a mexican restaurant and reached back home by evening. On the way back, I could tell my Uncle in New York and called Farmers to report the accident. Some of my friends who were anxiously waiting for our arrival, came with food and we had some conversations on what happened. I only emailed my manager and 2 of my colleagues that I survived an accident and will contact back to them later. At night I talked to Dhaka to my parents and in-laws and informed them of the accident with a softer way so that they don't get scared.

Morning today while talking to my manager, I was happy the way he supported me. I always tell people and telling here once again that Salesforce.com is an amazing place to work in despite its competitive environment.

Now I feel like I have a got a new life! Thanks Almighty, you have given 3 of us a chance to start anew!!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Another Weekend LA Trip

I am writing from Golden Grove Hyatt Regency North Tower which is adjacent to Disneyland, Anaheim. I, Shusmita and Ahyan started from Fremont around 6 PM Friday and it took approximately 6 hours to drive the 400 miles to here. Shusmita gave a very good break to me by driving around 2 and half hours of this chunk. Saturday (yesterday) morning I attended the Silva Method Basic Lecture Series (BLS) by Hans DeJong at the 2nd floor of the same hotel. Earlier in January I took the Silva Life Systems seminar in Sacramento under Steven Protopappas and hence this re-take course was free for me with a nominal sitting fee of $35. For those of my readers who are not familiar with the terms meditation, mind control, silva method - please have a quick glance at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silva_method.

Meanwhile, Shusmita and Ahyan went to Disneyland with the Hyatt shuttle bus to avoid parking hassles. They enjoyed the whole day there although it was tough on her to handle Ahyan and the stroller with all the rides and lines. I went to pick them up from Disneyland after my first day seminar finished late in the afternoon.

We drove to Los Angeles Aladin Sweeits and Market for dinner, as we always do whenever we are within 100 miles of LA. I liked the Ruhi fish with Polao very much. Shusmita's friend Iblish and his colleague came to meet us there as well.

I could re-inforce the following things today on the BLS class are -
  • Positive affirmation - always say things positive.
  • Watch out for negative words and cancel those out. Cancel cancel for negative statements like -
    1. I will TRY to do it
    2. I Always get late in office
    3. It's killing me
    4. Kids are driving me crazy
    5. Monday is the bad day
  • Don't let yourself feel down, never say things like - I am lazy, I can't eat vegetables, I am useless, I can't handle this etc.
  • Applying 1 to 5 method as Sleep control technique, mental alarm clock (wakeup control), headache control, control nervousness (and be confident)
  • Dream control -
    1. Collection or writing or remembering
    2. Having dreams about specific subjects or topics
    3. Problem solving through dreams by understanding the solution that is hinted
  • Memory pegs - looking at someone see what pops up in your mind first and associate that with that person. Use both left and right brain together. Remember the phrase TeN MoRe LoJiK FiBS.
  • Visualization techniques
  • Three fingers technique which is also known as instant alpha. This triggers alpha level momentarily even when our eyes are open.
  • Mirror of the mind - I came to know that I was completely incorrect with this particular technique that I have been using on and off earlier. Hans clarified it very well for all of us as he knows people misunderstands it quite often. You use this technique when you know what you want. Try to create word images of what you want for projection in mirror. You have to use the same mirror but two different frames - blue and white. Blue is for projecting/visualizing the problem scenario and while is for projecting the solution to this project. First time use both blue and white in this order, but from second time use only white frame in the mirror. If you add a new goal to the problem project, then only visualize the goal in blue mirror first time and from next time onwards use only the white frame. The key is, for any particular goal or problem you will visualize it in blue frame once and only once and never again.
I found Hans DeJong very lively and humorous in his style of delivering speech. This dutchman has been one of the close people around Jose Silva and hence could tell us some of his personal memories with Jose. The long relax session after first break was very refreshing for me. As I forgot to bring the SLS book or pen and paper, I used Google Notebook from my iPhone to note down the highlights of the class. Today I will do so as well in the second and last day of the course. This is essentially the last BLS course from Silva Foundation and after that only SLS courses will be available.

I called back home to with 35th happy anniversary of my parents last night.

I also called Asif Bhai in Canada last morning to discuss the Salesforce related queries that he had in his last email to me. I felt the day started very well after talking to him. He is one of the 2 mentors of mine in the laboratory of ideal place of relaxation in my mind control workspace. And my ideal place of relaxation is, by no surprise, Big Sur in Highway One California.

On a sidenote, my Kindle is giving me a great service and I subscribed to 14 day trial of New York Times newspaper. Currently I am one third done with the Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov.

Aziz Nana passed away out of a bus accident last Friday while Ripon mama was with him. A very sad and unfortunate event for us. His body has been taken back to village graveyards. May Allah keep him in piece. I remember that Kalam mama's mother also passed away last year when my parents were visiting us in USA.

Today's plan is to finish the second day cource and have dinner in Aladin again.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

My Amazon Kindle DX Arrived Last Night

Yesterday was amazing for me. Shusmita called me in the afternoon that my Kindle DX has arrived - it was supposed to reach me 26th but came 3 days earlier, so nice of Amazon. I immediately emailed my friends in Fremont that guys come to Starbucks tonight and I will give you a treat and show my Kindle to you! I rushed towards home and saw my beautiful gadget. It's less wider than hat I thought looking at the pictures aand videos earlier and it's very slim and book like. I copied some Bengali and English PDFs from my laptop to the Kindle and they were shown perfectly fine. Shusmita was not interested about this earlier, but yesterday after seeing it, she was excited herself and agreed that it's a great piece of gadget. At 9 o'clock, Ezaz, Shaki, Wali Bhai, Asha Vabi, Nitol, Hasinur, Sigma, Shahriar, Sachi came to Starbucks and we had some coffee from there and snacks from Chaat Cafe.

Last night I also bought the tickets of NABC 2009 for me, Shusmita, Nitol and Amin. I also received Rajshekhar Basu's Mahabharat in Bengali from Kolkata and started reading it since yesterday. But as now my Kindle has arrived, I will go and finish Asimov's robot and empire series before reading anything else.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Tandoor House and a Bengali Poem

Today I, Shusmita, Ahyan and Nitol had lunch in Chunnu Bhai's new restaurant Tandoor House in the same complex in Fremont where we come to play bowling sometimes. I was so happy to see the spacious, neat & clean restaurant and eating the delicious shrip tandoori and tandoori lamb chop that I wrote a yelp review instantly after returning back home. While I was cleaning up my old papers yesterday, I found an old poem written by Saiful Karim in my farewell from Therap BD. I thought to write it down using my newly discovered Quillpad tool. So here it is.

আশিক ভাই 

কবি সাইফুল করিম রচিত 

নামটি আশিক, বড়ই রসিক, 
সে নাকি এক বিশ্ব প্রেমিক, 
লম্বাটে মুখ, বাপ রে কী ঠাট; 
রাখে আবার ফ্রেঞ্চ কাট| 
মন টি ভালো, বড়ই উদার; 
হেল্প চাইলেই করেন দেদার| 
একটি যদি প্রশ্ন সুধাও 
আনসারের সাথে কিছু ফাও| 
বেড়াতে খুব ভালোবাসে, 
যখন ফোনে কল আসে, 
বান্ধবী কে সংগে নিয়া, 
ফেন্টাসি বা আশুলিয়া| 

[2005 এর মার্চ এ লেখা]

Friday, June 12, 2009

Quillpad: Bangla Online Typing Tool and API

Quillpad is a free online typing tool for 10 south asial languages. Yesterday I was having time free time in office so thought of searching for an API that helps writing bengali. And I landed in http://www.quillpad.in/bengali which is more than what I was looking for.

It's very easy to type in Bengali in Quillpad. For example, type 'apni kemon achen' in the Quillpad editor. Quillpad will convert it directly into Bengali script. If you write a word like 'bishesh', first sh should become 'শ' and the second sh should become 'ষ'. Quillpad will intelligently do that for you. No need to use shift keys or to memorize any key mappings. So 'রাষ্ট্রপতি' can be written by typing 'rashtrapati' or 'raashtrapathi'. Quillpad can also predict if multiple words are possible for your input. You can click on the word to select from those options. In addition Quillpad allows you to type English words freely in between Bengali words. It intelligently transliterates them into Bengali. Here is one example -

বাংলা টাইপ করা সহজ

As a quick test of using the WYSIWYG editor of Quillpad, I created to a blog in wordpress http://probasheamardingulo.wordpress.com and a blog in blogger http://probasheamardingulo.blogspot.com/. It looks so easy and convenient to me. I think I will continue writing in the blogger because it allows me to increase the font size of the content while to increase font in Wordpress I have to upgrade to premium.

Here is a New York Times article that you might find interseting and relevant.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Kindle: A Great Gadget For Book Lovers

This June 2009 is a special month for gadget lovers. Yesterday Amazon's Kindle DX was released and 18th of this month Apple's iPhone 3G S will be released. While I and my wife Shusmita already have our iPhone 3G, I am particularly in favor of Kindle to consider as the best gadget I can ever have.

Amazon's Kindle DX is an electronic book reader, the third of it's kind after it's successful debut in late 2007 with the first generation followed by early this year with second generation also known as Kindle 2. Like I waited for iPhone to mature a little bit before I bought that, I also waited for Kindle platform to mature before I made up my mind to buy the latest generation Kindle (DX).

I love reading books, both in English and in my mother language Bengali. My decision behind buying the new larger size Kindle DX is primarily because it has a native PDF reader and hence I will be able to read Bengali PDF books which I won't be in the case of Kindle 1 or 2. My only concern is the bigger size of DX makes it less portable. Before coming into this decision I have roamed around the Amazon Kindle discussion forum for a while along with some other online resources. If you look at my facebook news feed or my recent delicious bookmarks (http://delicious.com/ashikuzzaman/Kindle) you can easily guess that I am in Kindle fever. I am expecting a reading habit and experience change once I get my Kindle DX in my hand. I am going to order it 15th of this month and hence I should recieve it in my hand sometime early July. But whatever I have read so far about it, I can't just wait to recieve it.

I have read (I think pretty extensively) on Sony Reader, Kindle 2 and Kindle DX and decided to go for Kindle DX. Here are my rationale behind my choice -

First, I love Amazon (and also Google) and want to be around them. When it comes to books and reading I consider Amazon the primary authority and expect creative innovations from them(one small example is the idea they came up with accessing the notes and highlights of the books online). I like the vision that Amazon has - to kindlize each and every book ever printed in any language. This pretty much removes Sony or any other non-Amazon platform (despite Google Books efforts) from my choice.

Second, I like the idea of bigger screen size.

Third, I want to read PDF books and documents. I have a good collection of non-english books in PDF formats. The ones I am more interested about are in Bengali language which I am sure Amazon's PDF conversion program won't support. So I will need a native PDF reader. This pretty much restricts me to Kindle DX instead of Kindle 2 despite the less portability of DX compared to K2 and Sony Reader.

Fourth, the larger memory 3.3 GB is not a must-have but a good incentive to me as I want to carry a huge library around without ever thinking of removing any of this.

Fifth, the accelerometer in DX is a plus for me.

But if I buy a second copy of Kindle for my wife or my father or brothers, I will buy Kindle 2 for them because of the portability issue.

One more thing I would like to add with interest here. I have published this blog a little earlier as a Kindle Blog available for subscription via Kindle. Amazon has made it so easy and trivial. I will post an entry or two every week to keep myself recorded in words here.

Update: At the end of the first day's sale (10th June), the next morning I found Amazon has put in their Kindle DX site that it's sold out and the next date it will be available again is June 17th. As I planned earlier to buy at 15th June, I have stick to that decision. But looking at the various reviews of Kindle DX so far, I am quite happy as people are saying Kindle DX handles PDF very well as Amazon advertised.

Thoughts on Life, Death, and Overcoming Fear

I've been pondering a topic that's universally relevant yet rarely discussed - death and the anxieties it evokes. As I delve deeper ...