Monday Oct 05, 2009

At the Mount Whitney Summit

A friend and I hiked to the Mount Whitney summit on September 28, 2009. Mount Whitney is the highest mountain in the contiguous United States and is located near Death Valley, California. It took 9 hours to hike up and 8.5 hours to hike down. We rested for an evening at a campsite below the tree-line. The whole adventure took 27 hours. Driving back and forth, from the Bay Area, took about 6.5 hours each way.

At the Mount Whitney Summit, Sept. 2009

Friday Mar 13, 2009

Interview -- Second Part

Sun's web team has just posted the second part of the interview that Janice Heiss conducted with me recently.

Janice has also written a very good summary of the interview. In conducting the interview, Janice gave me an opportunity to go over some of my own thinking in the subject matters we considered together. I'm truly grateful to her for turning this into a productive conversation that goes well beyond the expected questions. Thank you Janice.

This interview was originally conducted for and Sun Developer Network

Monday May 12, 2008

10 Patents

Here are some of my patent applications. Of course, there are other places to look for patent information. Google has a nice patent search interface. So, for example, you can look at my patent number 7,000,228.

Friday Feb 08, 2008

Proud of my better half

Working for non-profit organizations requires a special kind of dedication and personality. 

So, I'm really proud of my wife, Liana, for all her work at the Northern California Community Loan Fund (NCCLF) and for having played a key role in putting together NCCLF's 25th anniversary annual report.

If you have money you want to invest in local non-profits, including community art centers and low-income housing, NCCLF can be an excellent venue to look into.

Monday Sep 17, 2007

New Membership

As of last Friday, I joined the Prius club.

Monday Jul 09, 2007

Early July

This first week of July, I spent about three days in Vancouver Island, including the ferry trips. It was very warm and pleasant--a good place to relax and spend some vacation days. I know I should have used a few more days and explored the island some more towards its northern tip but I also had the ambition to drive the Oregon coastline and see some of its vast, although windy, public beaches.

Thursday Mar 08, 2007

Shiraz, 2003

Shiraz 2003 

In July 2003, I visited Shiraz with my family on holidays. I've finally posted all the digital photos from that trip on my flickr gallery. I also have some video clips which I might venture to post on YouTube later.

In the meantime, you can watch this low-resolution video of my younger daughter (then five) running in the courtyard where we took the photograph above.

Tuesday Jan 30, 2007

Falling for Flickr

Masjid Imam Reza

Gonbad-e Haruniyeh

First, I hit the limit on the number of albums and then the limit on the number of photographs that can be posted on Flickr's free service.

So, now, I'm afraid I've fallen for the paid Flickr PRO service, and got myself a jUploader. Now, I'm busy uploading photographs starting from 2003, a year or so after I bought my first decent digital camera.

For months, I resisted the upgrade from free to paid Flickr service. I planned to roll out a content server of my own but never found the time to do it or the right ISP for it where I could simply manage a piece of hardware housed someplace. (Fulup Ar Foll tells me such a service is readily available in France.) If I could host my own service, I would no longer have to depend on or pay Flickr anything for the service it offers. My main goal is to have the photos on some file system accessible by some HTTP server that can dish it out. This is not much to set up but just as I said, I've not found an ISP that provides a nice service where I can "own" the use of a piece of dedicated hardware, with unlimited download albeit on a fixed network bandwidth and some file backup service already provided. This way I can install and configure software as I wish and I don't have to store the hardware in my own home.

So, yes, I finally signed up for a 1-year subscription to Flickr PRO and have started posting all these photographs that have been sitting in iPhoto library of an iMac at home. About 3 more years of photos are waiting to be posted.

Some of these photos are from years ago. 

Here, I have linked-in two photos from the batch I just uploaded from 2003.

The details for the first photo, taken in the Astan-e Qods-e Razavi in Mashhad, Iran, can be found here

I remember, when I took this photograph in the open courtyard, a mildly-spoken sermon was being delivered in a very simple Persian on how parents should care for their children. My wife, for whom Persian was a 3rd (or 4th?) language, still remembers easily following the Persian.

The second photo captures the main wall of Gonbad-e Haruniyeh, a 14th century mausoleum, about whose origins there are many theories. The mausoleum is on the Tus-Mashhad road. I rememer finding it amazing how much cooler the inside of this 700-year-old building was when compared to the climate just outdoors. (Yes, the high ceilings and the design for air circulation has something to do with it. There might also be some underground water or spring.)

Gray Missing at Sea

Jim Gray, father of transaction processing systems and the inventor of the two-phase commit protocol, has gone missing in the Pacific, off the San Francisco Bay. See Francois Orsini's weblog entry on Gray. Charles Babcock of Information Week has also written a story about GrayAs John Murrell notes in Good Morning Silicon Valley, Gray is very well-known in the Bay Area:

[He is] the first recipient of a doctorate degree from the University of California-Berkeley's computer-science department back in 1969, and recipient of the Turing Award, computing's Nobel, in 1998 for his body of work, which helped pave the way for automated-teller machines, computerized airline reservations and e-commerce.

We all hope he is safe and well.

Thursday Dec 21, 2006


Roberto Chinnici tagged me with "the five things you don't know about me meme" last night and now it is time for me to tag five bloggers of my own.

First, I should say that I made an attempt to find my tag ancestors.

Going six generations back from me, we get to Tim Bray. At 14th generation back, written only four days ago, we have the Green LA Girl, a champion consumer. At 16th generation, going back 6 days ago, we have someone getting tagged twice.

You can pursue this generational research on your own.

Now, here are five things about me you may not know:

1)    My first and second languages are Persian and Azeri dialect of Turkish.

English is only my third (and by extension, not my best) language. I still remember very clearly a time in my life when I knew or spoke no or very little English. My fourth language is Spanish and my fifth is German but of these two, I can only read and listen now. I speak them rather badly and only when I have absolutely no choice, e.g. when I have to talk to my four-year-old niece in Germany. I can also read and have a good understanding of Quranic Arabic although one can always make further improvements.

2)    I spent about 4 months in London when I was 14. I was registered in an English class near Tottenham Court Road station.

3)    My father was a founding partner in the largest advertising company active in Iran in the early 1960s and 1970s.

He helped found the company right before I was born. I left Iran for America when I had just turned 17 weeks after I had witnessed the Islamic Revolution in Iran and the installation of a provisional government. My father's advertising company was disbanded due to business losses after the revolution.

4)    I spent one year as a foreign scholar in the Heilongjiang province of China working for the Daqing Petroleum Institute in the town of Anda, very near the industrial city of Daqing. The closest major urban area was Harbin.

This was a wonderful year, and my wife and I made many good friends. During the winter months (-35 degrees), we ice-skated, visited friends and ate many types of delicious hot meals, and I had a chance to read Willard Quine's Mathematical Logic, Wallace Matson's History of Philosophy and Barbara Partee, Alice ter Meulen and Robert Wall's Mathematical Linguistics, among oher books. When we returned I was lucky to study classical Chinese philosophy at Berkeley with professor Kwong-loi Shun, who has since left Berkeley.

5)   I spent 17 years at various graduate schools obtaining advanced degrees in everything from engineering, to journalism, to management.

According to our common standards of the day, this seems like a waste of time, and perhaps, it was but so be it. Time past cannot be regained. That is the special thing about time, and there lies the asymmetry that it enjoys with respect to space. Hence, the focus of much of technology to make us mobile in space and the lack of attention to preservation, through time, of what matters.

In any case, during six of these years I had non-academic jobs at various corporations (building early web applications with DB connectivity, desiging satellite communications programming environments, prototyping platforms for submission and analysis of computational simulations for aircrafts, working as a lead on DARPA research projects, and then joining Java Software at Sun). The toughest technical topic at graduate school must have been Cohen's Forcing Theorem. Synhetic Organic Chemistry was probably the easiest (and funnest) topic in all the school work I ever did. It felt like playing chess.

Now, it is my turn to tag others.

I hereby tag Richard Veryard, Francois Orsini, Robin Wilton (who generously accepted a second tagging), Hinkmond Wong, Mohamed AbdelAziz, Rich Sharples, Bernt Johnsen and Richard Friedman.

Sunday Sep 17, 2006

Sabalan Volcanic Lake

Liana at the crater lake of Mount Sabalan, July 2005 

My wife, Liana, made it all the way to the volcanic crater lake on top of Mount Sabalan in July of 2005.

We climbed the mountain together but she sped right past me in one of the middle ridges. We met and climbed the last ridge together.Her stamina and focus on the climb surprised several others who accompanied us.

It was a tough trip starting at 5 am in Ardabil. There was a two hour car ride to the base station and a five hour climb to the summit. The picture, here, was taken at about 12 noon. The climb down the summit took a bit longer than the one up.


Thursday Aug 10, 2006

Heat Waves

There is a new heat wave in the South Bay.
[Read More]

Friday Aug 04, 2006

Life Goes On -- Clams For Dinner

Life goes on.

This morning, I talked to my daughters both of whom are now abroad in Germany and in Iran.

For lunch break, instead of lunch, I played soccer with some Sun folks. This time I was lucky and produced a hat-trick (not a usual habit of mine) based on some amazing passes form my colleagues. Their passes were truly superb.

Tonight, compensating for a missed lunch, I used this recipe to make clams for dinner. 

Tomorrow, I will attend my wife's MBA graduation.

Tuesday Jul 25, 2006

Different Perspective

Living in a different culture gives you a different perspective on life. [Read More]

Saturday Jul 15, 2006

Hiking on Mount Damavand

  A hike  on Mount Damavand can be both exhausting and exhilarating.
[Read More]

Saturday Jul 08, 2006

Tochal was Tough

Climbing Mount Tochal should be easy but it does require some amount of acclimation. [Read More]

Tuesday Jul 04, 2006

Back To Wiesbaden, and tomorrow, to Tehran

My long-awaited vacation began as of this Saturday in Kalkan, Turkey, and we're now back to Wiesbaden.

[Read More]

Saturday Apr 15, 2006

One more game canceled

It's been raining almost every day where we live, the playing fields are soggy, and games have been canceled in the last four weeks.

I'm involved in coaching my daughters' soccer teams.

Last night, I missed an e-mail message calling for help to mow the playing field for today's early morning game. I was helping my wife with some other volunteer work related to SJSU, where she is earning her MBA. I don't have a mower but I'm sure some of the parents would have been willing to help. So, another one of the girls soccer games in our region is canceled this morning.

All along I had my mobile phone with me but no one tried contacting me or send me an e-mail on it.

This story demonstrates a common problem when it comes to volunteer organizations even when they are equiped with all kinds of electronic and web-based "collaboration" tooling.

People still have to read e-mail and web pages although presence technologies can solve some of the more elementary problems like the one I ran into last night. (Many IM services already have rudimentary "presence" capabilities.)

In the final analysis, physical and dynamic "bottlenecks" cannot be eliminated even by super-fast, super-digitization, everywhere.

Wednesday Mar 15, 2006

Chahar Shanbeh Soori

The first time I celebrated Chahar Shanbeh Soori in the U.S. was in March of 1979 in the mountains of upper Ojai, California. I had just arrived here with a good friend of mine from high school, and there were also a number of other Iranians who were attending Happy Valley School in upper Ojai. So, we got together, produced a request for the school administration and with the permission and attendance of the local fire department, and good use made of some dried palm leaves and tumbling grass, made some amazing Chahar Shanbeh Soori fires, and the fun of jumping right through the fire followed.

Last night, while watching the Persian (Jam-e Jam) news from IRIB during dinner, it struck on me that it was indeed Chahar Shanbeh Soori again. I called some friends to find out whether any events were happening locally. They located a place in Mountain View, and asked whether I'd also take their daughter along. With my daughters, I had three girls in the car, and by the time we got there, there was some rain but the fires were still on, and the girls jumped through happily. One guy had brought some firecrackers, which are also a mainstay of the festivities. (The fire technology for this event could have been better, and safer. There is certainly some work that needs to be done in this area to make this annual event more fun.)

In the meantime, our guest (an 8-year-old) and my 8-year-old got together on the side of the festivities and quickly started a singing chorus of Persian songs. I was totally amazed. This was on their initative and they held a hat before them for people to chip in with quarters and dollars. They sang very well, to the amazement of the women who were quietly watching on the sidelines, but all they got was two dollar bills, both from me, which they returned after they were done with their fun.

Leaving Mountain View, we had a pot of fresh, fragrant sonbol in our hands for the haft seen.

Other links:

A slide show of Chahar Shanbeh Soori in Tehran. There may be others on Flickr.

Saturday Mar 04, 2006

My Presence for IM

My presence for IM in various IM networks —

Try Trillian as a client!

<script type="text/javascript" src=""></script> My status





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