Monday, August 17, 2009 IT Picnic Held in Tilden Regional Park

Sorry for few weeks gap before I am coming back with my updates now.

This is the month of Ramadan and we are having iftar parties frequently in our friends' houses. Last weekend it was in Ezaz's house and the week before it was in Shahriar's house while next week will be in our and Sumit Bhai's houses. Quite busy schedule! I was fasting the before yesterday.

Last Saturday, Prakash and Liju joined me in the Ohlone track of Mission Peak. I had my chiro doctor appointment in the morning and hence we started very late at 9 AM from home and by the time we were in the trail it was 9:30 AM. It was burning at 98 degree Fahrenheit! After crossing almost two-third of the trail, Prakash was feeling his skin burnt and hence we decided to turn back. On the way back, 2 old ladies were asking us to be silent as we were enjoying loud gossips within us. We didn't understand initially why they were asking us not to make much noise. Later when we were down back to the trail start point, Liju came to know from a biker that there was a baby mountain lion roaming around that place and so all the people were told to keep silent!

The earlier Saturday I hiked alone Mission Peak with Stanford trail setting a few personal records. As per Ezaz, it would be a very good performance to go up to the peak by 1 hour 30 minutes and I finished it by 1 hour 22 minutes. After 8 minutes rest, I came back in another hour. While going to the peak, I didn't dring even a sip nor did I stop for a second anywhere. This makes me confident that when necessary i will be able to hike like this for an extended period of time.. All these preparations are for my next month's Half Dome Hike in Yosemite. Hope things go well then.

We saw 2 movies in theaters in last 2 weeks and in both cases we were disappointed. Kaminey in Naz8 was still ok to some extent but Ponyo in Century Theater Union City was the most boring time I have ever passed in a movie theater.

I enjoyed the picnic in Tilden Regional Park South Bay at August 16th. I was in charge of arranging the Volleyball and Chess games. The volley ball was a big hit in the picnic. Shusmita was ill and Ahyan just recovered from the seasonal flue so they had to skip. I had to even skip the invitation in Tanjeem's house the earlier night and my hiking in the following day. This was my first skip of hiking in any weekend after I started recently.

We had a nice party in Madhu's younger daughter Hasini's birthday at August 22nd Saturday. Manyt of my colleagues were there and I defeated Simi's husband in a chess game. You will see how much Ahyan enjoyed with Elmo here.

Recently I got a title revision in as a Senior Member of Technical Staff (SMTS) although without any salary hike. When I joined Salesforce at November 5, 2007 I was assigned the title of Software Engineer. My grade was already high within the Software Engineer title holders at that time falling a little short of the next title Senior Software Engineer. In IT we had the hierarchy like - Associate Software Engineer > Software Engineer > Senior Software Engineer > Lead Software Engineer > Principal Engineer. But in R&D which is a bigger team in Salesforce, the similar titles were Associate Member of Technical Staff (AMTS), Member of Technical Staff (MTS), Senior Member of Technical Staff (SMTS), Lead Member of Technical Staff (LMTS) and Principle Member of Technical Staff (PMTS). So in a recent alignment initiative between R&D and IT team, management decided to follow the conventions of R&D team for both of these groups. This resulted in converting out Software Engineers to MTS. Only for my case in AppStore I was levelled as SMTS although my earlier title was Software Engineer. This means I am still eligible for my next level promotion to Lead Member of Technical Staff as per our Merit Increase Process.

I activated my unused dead Ubuntu PC at home and now Ahyan is surfing internet and watching YouTube with it!

And yes, let's celebrate Bangladesh's 4-1 victory over Zimbabwe with a very outstanding fourth ODI game.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Hiking PG&E Trail in Rancho San Antonio

Last Sunday I went for my third consecutive weekly Hike (and third in total in my life as you know) in Rancho San Antonio with my friends. While we initially scheduled for 7:20 AM, I and Shahriar were late enough to make it a start time of 7:45 AM. When we went to Equestrian park parking lot, I was surprised to see Sayeem's car as I didn't know he was coming although he told earlier that he will join our group's (Bay Area Bangladeshi Hikers Group) fourth hike.

Date: Sunday August 9th, 2009 at 7:45am
Start Time: 7:45 AM
End Time: 11: 00 AM
Place: Rancho San Antonio PG&E Hike trail
Cristo Rey Dr, Los Altos, CA 94022
Santa Clara County
Length: ~7.2 miles
Participants: Mostazir Bhai, Shahariar, Tanjeem, Ashik, Sayeem, Tipu Bhai, Lisa Bhabi, Karim Bhai

I got introduced to Tipu Bhai and his sister-in-law Lisa Bhabi. Both of them are expert hikers and were always ahead of the rest of the team. They have some other Bangladeshi hiker friends of different ages and are also interested to hike Yosemite's Half Dome. Mostazir Bhai and Karim Bhai were behind us from the beginning in trail and hence we lost them once we advanced a bit. Tanjeem was as usual comfortable with the hike and Sayeem looked like a regular hiker although this is his first one of this kind. I was quite comfortable and so looked Shahriar during the trail.

The trail is so beautiful that I am now sure there are not many trails that can be expressed as not-so-beautiful in bay area. The mission peak trail was not as per but both today's and last week's trails were full of scenic sights. Early in the trail, we found a deer right in the middle in our path and looking back to us. It stayed as a statue for a while and before we brought out our camera, it jumped up to the side of the trail. We finished the 7.2 miles trail around 11 AM . After that I took Shahriar and Sayeem to Starbucks for a long due treat of my Kindle. At noon, as part of initiative from Ezaz and Wali Bhai we all had a all-on-a-sudden picnic in Query Lake of Union City. Wali Bhai made BBQ chicken for us and Ezaz arranged kites that we all enjoyed flying. In the evening we even played tennis and I was too tired at the end of the game.

Nitol, Ezaz and Hasinur took the Mission Peak Stanford Trail instead. As per our initial plan we thought we will take the 9.5 miles steep trail in black mountain and hence we might be as late as 2/3 PM and that's why Ezaz and Hasinur skipped this trail and went to Mission Peak. Nitol was simply late to wake up and hence went to Mission Peak later to join them.

Just the day before I, Shahriar, Nitol, Shusmita, Sachi along with Ahyan & Safwan watched the Bercelona vs Chivas game in South San Francisco. We enjoyed the game, specially Messi's play in the first half although the match ended in a 1 - 1 draw. Looks like Argentina got a good trump card on their hand to counter Brazil in next year's world cup football tournament in South Africa. FC Barcelona is the current European Champion and they played very aggressively throughout the whole game although just after half time, they conceded a sudden goal. My understanding is that the result should have been 3 - 1 in favor of Bercelona considering most of the time the ball was on the opposition's D-Box.

Last week, I had a get together with my ex-colleagues of Philips at Fresh Choice in Mountain View. It was delighting to see Brian, Dan, Jade, You-Roe, David and Bob again. Imtiyaz could not join us although he was planning to come. Two weeks earlier Jade, David, Dan, Brian and another QA were offered to relocate to Boston as they will close the Milpitas location for Lifeline Systems. Dan and Brian are still thinking but others will quit the job. When I was there in Philips 1 year 8 months ago, I knew it's coming after our tour of Boston but I am surprised to see it took so long to make the final offer.

I bought the One Best Hike: Yosemite's Half Dome from Border's Sunday night. I already finished half of the book and finding it extremely useful and interesting. I called Noel last night and looks like he is interested to join the Half Dome project for which Shahriar and I have already determined thte date to be 3rd October. We did a booking of a cabin in Curry Village of Yosemite Valley at 2nd October night and Nitol, Sayeem and Mostazir Bhai are other potentially interested people to join us.

We also watched love aazkaal of saif ali khan and deepika padukone at a 11 o'clock show of weeknight in naz8. After a long time I enjoyed a hindi movie and ladies a long with Ezaz, Wali Bhai, Hasinur and Nitol also liked it.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Hiking Sunol Wilderness - Vista Grande Overlook

Last Sunday, 2nd August, we 9 people hiked Sunol Wilderness. This was my second hiking and a beautiful and scenic one. From Bay Area Bangladeshi Hikers Group it was the third hike. As per Hasinur's information the details are given below.

Hiking Trail: Sunol Wilderness - Vista Grande
Distance: 6.1 miles, Loop
Hiking Time: 3 to 4 hours
Elevation Gain/Loss: +/- 1600 feet
Difficulty Level: Difficult

In a weekday before this hike, we guys went to Union City Sports Authority and bought half pant, t-short, cap and shoe. I liked my Columbia hiking shoe very much and Shahriar also picked the same brand.

We reached the Sunol Regional Park at 7:15 AM and started the trail at 7:45 after waiting for Nitol, Gajendra and Nitol's Indian colleague. They came in a separate car and parked we missed each other as mobile network doesn't work in that area. So they took a different trail in the same area and finished before us.

To see the picture of the hike, please have a look here -

I was a little tired during the first one-third as it was steeper considering the mission peak trail. However, after that I got geared up and by the time we finished the trail, I thought the trail was too small. It was a more than 6 miles trail that we cover in a little more than 3 hours. Mostazir Bhai was saying, "we are in the middle of nowhere". Hasinur was like, "I wan't to eat Kachchi Biriyani here" and also "this is so beautiful, i want to sit down here for couple of hours, you guys go ahead". It was really beautiful and a real hiking place. Before we reached the Grande Vista Overlook (kind of top of this place), a group of aged people with two scary dogs met us. They were pro hikers and we talked to them a bit about hiking in Half Dome. The dogs looked as string as mountain lions and were barking & circling around us. One of those actually touched its teeth in my hand and my water bottle. As a result, after coming back home, I first had a shower before going for my routine Tandoori House lunch taking Shusmita and Ahyan with me.

Our next hike will be at Rancho San Antonio Hike the day after tomorrow. Tonight is the holy night of Shab-e-barat.

Last few days, I finished Isaac Asimov's The Naked Sun the second in the robot series on Detective Elijah Balley. I also read Humayun Ahmed er prem er golpo which I liked very much and Chokhkhe Amar Trishna which I didn't like at all. This makes me feel that Humayun Ahmed writes short stories even better than his regular stories barring Misir Ali novels which are unparallal and is as dear to me as Satyajit Roy's Feluda stories, Asimov's Science Fictions. However, I finished a book with great satisfaction morning today suggested by Ashafaq. This is Shahaduzzaman' short stories and I would suggest anyone reading his books. One of the short story was transleter in English in the Daily Star and you can read it online here although you won't understand his writing strength from the translation. However, I still think he doesn't possess the magical touch yet to make the reader full of emotions like the way Humayun Ahmed does. But different and interesting writings for sure. I am now looking forward to manage his poshchimer meghe shonar shingho, another book of short stories as suggested by Ashfaq again. Shusmita thinks Kushol and Atonu are the think tank behind collecting this kind of books for reading.

Ashfaq had his second son born safely and we went to see the new baby in Palo Alto hospital as well as his house.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Bought New Car: Honda Accord 2009 LX-P Maroon Color

After a month of my Civic being completely destroyed in a car accident, I bought my new car yesterday. It's Honda Accord 2009 LX-P Maroon Color that I bought from Autowest Honda of Fremont.

I have shopped around for car in Toyota and Honda. While Toyota Camry 2010 is also a very good car, somehow we ended up liking Accord. Whlile in Accord you feel the road and the power behind the car more, for Camry it's the smoothness of driving experience. Shusmita didn't want to even go for a test drive of Hyundai Sonata although that is also a comparable car at a cheaper price. I guess we are so used to our Honda Civic that only another Honda car would have been able to psychologically match our unknown requirements. I gave a four thousand dollars down payment and the rest my dealer financed me from American Honda Finance.

While buying the car, I also bought the 6 years service, mechanical breakdown warranty, low jack safety and some service contracts. I came to know at that time that Honda Accord is America's number one stolen car followed by Honda Civic and Toyota Camry respectively.

I must say that I am enjoying driving the car. Shusmita is also driving to get habituated to it's bigge size as early as possible. It's quite bigger than the Civic but again that's why we didn't buy Civic again. Ahyan's car seat takes a good amount of space in the middle of back seat and still I see good space left inside the car. I returned my rental Mazda car this morning.

What I like about the car is space inside, it's power, it's look & feel, shape. What I miss is the digital speedometer/dashboard of my Civic. I am feeling an urge to go for long drive with my new car and the power makes this more irrestible.

Although Shusmita was in favor of blue color, we went for her second choice Maroon as the blue was not readily available. I liked ut because I wanted a change after more than 3 years of driving a blue car.

Yesterday we bought a bicycle for Ahyan also with his helmet and hand guards. He is very happy riding it this morning.

We had our dinner at Red Lobster last night with Sumit Bhai, Walil Bhai, Ezaz's family and Nitol. After that we ususally had a long weekend adda this time in Ezaz's house.

Bangladesh defeated West Indies even in the last ODI making sure a white wash in the 3 day ODI series.

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