Bicycling on Alpharetta Greenway

Yesterday, the weather was nice. So we loaded up our bikes on the car and headed to the Big Creek Greenway.

Michelle and I rode our bikes for about an hour. Here’s the trail map.

The trail was crowded and it was a lot of fun.

Seventeen and Forty-One

This month we celebrated 17 years of our marriage. It’s been a long, great time.

Also last week I turned 41. For my birthday, Amber and Michelle got me a bicycle, a Cannondale Quick 5 hybrid.

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And here I am, a long long time ago.
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Computer Upgrade

Four years ago, I built my desktop computer. Now it was getting a bit long in the tooth, so I decided to upgrade some of its parts.

  1. Motherboard: From Abit IP35E to Gigabyte GA-Z68XP-UD3
  2. Processor: From Intel Core 2 Duo E6420 to Intel Core i7-2600
  3. Memory: From 2x1GB PC2-6400 DDR2 to 2x4GB PC3-14900 DDR3
  4. DVD Drive: From PATA to a SATA DVD Writer

The computer’s now fast and powerful. My Harappa Ancestry Project analyses run much faster than before.

Ubuntu had no trouble running after the change. However, Windows XP refused to boot and I have to do a reinstall.

Smoky Mountains

Fall is the best season to go camping and hiking. And I love the fall colors you can see in the mountains. So once again we headed to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park a couple of weeks ago for some camping, riding, hiking and driving.

We had three black bear sightings in the smokies this time.

Here’s the trail to Laurel Falls.

Here’s the trail to the observation tower at the top of Clingman’s Dome which gives a nice view around.

The hike from Clingman’s Dome to Andrews Bald was great and the views from a bald are always the best.

Soccer Dad

I thought I would never become a soccer dad. And so I never enrolled Michelle in any league sports.

But she liked one thing, then another and they accumulated until now I spend most evenings driving my seven year old around town for:

  • Horse Riding
  • Gymnastics
  • Ice skating
  • Swimming

I am also helping her learn how to ride a bike. And competing against her on who does more nighttime reading.

It’s all fun as a parent and there’s also pride Michelle mastering different activities.

But it does reduce the time I can spend on things like the Harappa Ancestry Project. While the data submissions there have slowed down, I still have a number of ideas I am working on that I need to analyze and then post the results. When I can find the time of course!

Not Sitting Next to Indian on Plane

Via the awesome Ta-Nehisi Coates, here’s a story of a half-Jewish half-Arab woman blogger whose flight to Detroit turned into being handcuffed and questioned all apparently because she was sitting next to two Indians who took too long in the loo in the plane on September 11, 2011.

Someone shouted for us to place our hands on the seats in front of us, heads down. The cops ran down the aisle, stopped at my row and yelled at the three of us to get up. “Can I bring my phone?” I asked, of course. What a cliffhanger for my Twitter followers! No, one of the cops said, grabbing my arm a little harder than I would have liked. He slapped metal cuffs on my wrists and pushed me off the plane. The three of us, two Indian men living in the Detroit metro area, and me, a half-Arab, half-Jewish housewife living in suburban Ohio, were being detained.

The cops brought us to a parked squad car next to the plane, had us spread our legs and arms. Mine asked me if I was wearing any explosives. “No,” I said, holding my tongue to not let out a snarky response. I wasn’t sure what I could and could not say, and all that came out was “What’s going on?”

No one would answer me. They put me in the back of the car. It’s a plastic seat, for all you out there who have never been tossed into the back of a police car. It’s hard, it’s hot, and it’s humiliating. The Indian man who had sat next to me on the plane was already in the backseat. I turned to him, shocked, and asked him if he knew what was going on. I asked him if he knew the other man that had been in our row, and he said he had just met him. I said, it’s because of what we look like. They’re doing this because of what we look like. And I couldn’t believe that I was being arrested and taken away.

She says she’s half-Jewish and half Saudi Arabian but she also uses “Hebshi” for herself which would include some East African ancestry, a fairly common thing in the region. I mention this because American perceptions of Arab/Middle Eastern looks is darker than a lot of Middle Easterners actually look and is closer to South Asian complexion.

Here’s a news report about the incident.

Police temporarily detained and questioned three passengers at Detroit’s Metropolitan Airport on Sunday after the crew of the Frontier Airlines flight from Denver reported suspicious activity on board, and NORAD sent two F-16 jets to shadow the flight until it landed safely, airline and federal officials said.

The three passengers who were taken off the plane in handcuffs were released Sunday night, and no charges were filed against them, airport spokesman Scott Wintner said.

Frontier Flight 623, with 116 passengers on board, landed without incident in Detroit at 3:30 p.m. EDT after the crew reported that two people were spending “an extraordinarily long time” in a bathroom, Frontier spokesman Peter Kowalchuck said.

FBI Detroit spokeswoman Sandra Berchtold said ultimately authorities determined there was no real threat.

“Due to the anniversary of Sept. 11, all precautions were taken, and any slight inconsistency was taken seriously,” Berchtold said. “The public would rather us err on the side of caution than not.”

No, no, I would that they err on the side of common sense. Or if they want to err on the side of caution, then take it all the way and not even get out of bed because that could be dangerous.

Ta-Nehisi is considering boycotting flying. I am much more of a cynic, so my lessons from reading about this are different.

One, I am going to be a lot more careful about going to the plane toilets and make sure I don’t take too long or go more than once.

The second lesson I draw is not to sit next to any South Asian (or Middle Eastern) looking person on the plane. Especially a South Asian that I don’t know. I definitely don’t want to be arrested just because I was sitting next to an Indian/Pakistani who had constipation and spent too much time in the toilet and the authorities thought I knew them because all of us South Asians know each other, right?

New Car: Prius

Amber had been driving a Corolla for a while, which was unacceptable. So we decided to get a new car for her.

One of the major requirements was that its gas consumption be better than the Corolla (city 26mpg, Hwy 36mpg, combined 30mpg).

From the short list fitting that requirement, we decided to check out Honda Insight, Lexus CT200h and Toyota Prius.

We did not like the Honda Insight. It looked and drove like a small, underpowered car with no coolness factor. It was also smaller than the Prius and had worse gas mileage.

The Lexus CT200h was nice. In terms of the engine and platform, it seemed very similar to the Prius with the Lexus touch of higher end comfort and a little bit more sportiness. It was a little more expensive than the Prius with compatible features. The bottom line was us was the size. My G35 coupe has very little trunk space and a tall adult cannot sit in the back seat. So we wanted a family car that could fit us.

The Prius is a nice car. It does feel a little different driving than a regular gasoline engine car. Also the higher end trims feel and look nicer than what one expects of Toyota cars.

We considered waiting for the 2012 model but since there are going to be no changes to the regular model and we weren’t interested in the upcoming plugin hybrid or the wagon, we decided to get the 2011 model.

We got the Prius Four with the solar sunroof option. The solar sunroof basically keeps the car at outdoor temperature when it is parked out in the sun so that the inside of the car doesn’t turn into an oven, important here in HOTlanta! It also contains the navigation system and my daughter is fascinated by the speech recognition of the system.

We got a 1.85% APR for a 5 year loan and got the car last week.

Of course, we are crazy, so as soon as we got the Prius, we headed to North Georgia on a long drive.

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