Monday, July 31, 2006

Medieval Times

The five of us went to Medieval Times for dinner and to see the show. I was looking forward to this ever since Bev had me reserve tickets. The entertainment concept is: enjoy dinner while watching a show of horse riding, combat, and jousting.

We arrived and were assigned a color combination which designated what section we were to be seated in. Each of the six sections had their own knight/champion to cheer for in the various events. We waited in the front area, which hosted a bunch of gift stores selling all kinds of souvenirs, until they called our section and we filed in.

The stadium area was two long rows of bleachers (with padded seats and tables) facing each other across a dirt floor. We took our seats and the show started with the King leading men back from a long war and deciding the realm needed to host a tournament so the finest champion could wed the princess. While this was going on, our food was brought out and it was a very large meal: soup, drinks, spare ribs, roasted chicken, bread. No utensils - the servers said you eat medieval style, with your hands and fingers! At least we had plates. ;)

Originally uploaded by klbarrus.
The various Kingdoms attend the tournament.

After this, each Kingdom filed in and was officially welcomed to the tournament. They started off with a show of horsemanship, where trainers came out and gave a demonstration of various skills: trots, dressage... ok I forget all the terminology but the horses would do the classic rearing up on its hind legs, and then also jump up while kicking to the rear. These were apparently real moves used in those times as a way to either instill fear in the enemy, or defend from attacks. Part of the horsemanship involved a team of four moving around in formation, sometimes having the horses almost dance at an angle and moving sideways.

Originally uploaded by klbarrus.

Of course there was also combat, as each Knight would compete for the hand of the Princess. The show had weapon combat and of course jousting, but also included some skill contests such as collecting metal rings with a lance. The combat proved quite popular, and the audience was quite bloodthirsty, screaming for their respective champion. Our section was the Kingdom of Perella and our colors were red and yellow, so we could cheer when the Red and Yellow Knight took to the field.

Sword Battle
Originally uploaded by klbarrus.

Originally uploaded by klbarrus.

As it turns out, there was a traitor in the King's service - his guard who organized the tournament was insulted he was not chosen to compete. Fortunately, the Red and Yellow knight won the tournament, defeated the traitor, and gained the favor of the princess. I guess we were in the lucky section picked to win this evening's event.

I enjoyed myself immensely - the horsemanship, the skills contests, jousting, was all very well done and fun to watch. Plus the costumes looked really good too.

Bev and Me
Originally uploaded by klbarrus.
Posing near a suit of armor.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Sea World

My friends Bev and family are visiting me for a few days. They are taking a long vacation around the country and finished up a few days in Sanibel, FL, and drove up yesterday.

We lounged around the pool, got some Cuban food, and took it easy watching TV. Today we all went to SeaWorld, where we watched all the shows.

  • Sea Lion and Sea Otter Show - this show is comedy based, with some jokes, puns, and a plot about getting shipwrecked and finding buried treasure. The show makes fun of itself and is really about the sea otters, sea lion, and walruses doing tricks. There is an evening version where this show makes fun of the other shows, and someday I'll come back to watch it. This show is pretty good.

  • Dolphin Show - this show features a large cast of people and dolphins, doing some pretty cool acrobatics. The dolphins do jumps and flips, pushing people along with their snout, dragging somebody hanging onto their fin, or letting somebody ride them like a surfboard. As a really slow swimmer I wish I could feel what it is like getting pushed through the water by a dolphin. :) The show also has acrobatics, diving, and even parrots released over the audience. This show is very good and recommended.

  • Shamu Show - this is the big show in the park, and it is some mishmash of saluting the military combined with inspirational speeches about following dreams. The main gag seems to be "haha you got splashed by the orcas" since they make it a big point to douse the front few rows. The cast rides the orcas a few times but I thought what they did in the dolphin show was more impressive. The show is OK and soemthing to see if you don't miss the other ones.

  • Nautilus Show - this one is indoors and has no animals. But it was fantastic, sort of a mini Cirque du Soliel show: people in penguin costumes doing trampoline tricks, acrobats entwined in silk unrolling above the stage, contortionists, people in silk tube costumes doing funny movements. I really like this show as well. It really was like a mini Cirque show minus all the weird avant-garde comedy/mime/clown stuff that Cirque slips in between the acrobatics. Recommended.

Afterwards we were getting tired walking around, so we went to the kid area which I didn't even know was there. Sea World has the hugest jungle gym and netted tube crawling park I've ever seen. I rode the kiddie roller coaster with Ben, Dylan, and Sam and I was impressed as far as kiddie coasters go. I've been on ones that are really tame with barely any vertical drop, but this one had a decent first drop and two or three twists in the 30 seconds the ride lasted.

Bascially if you are visiting Sea World I would recommend seeing the Dolphins and Nautilus shows. Check out the Lion and Otter show too, and if you finished all that then maybe see Shamu.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Runners Club Pizza and Beer

I went to south Orlando to Rossi's hang out with a few friends from the Orlando Runners Club. That's right we had pizza and beer... that is why we exercise, so these kinds of meals aren't permanently added to our weight. ;)

A friend Michele and I split a Rossi's special, a supreme-style pizza. We couldn't decide how hungry we were so we got a medium 12" pizza with all the green peppers on one side since I liked them and she didn't. We ate the pizza so fast we probably could have gotten a large and been OK. I had a Christmas Ale to drink, since they were running some microbrew special.

We talked about the club a little bit. Our club has an exchange program with a running club in Urayasu, Japan, and it seems that I am the alternate for the under-40 male category! Michele said the selection committee usually informs all the alternates just so they keep in reasonable shape over the winter in case they need to (and are able to) make the trip. Basically if this year's nominee can't make it, then I'll be going in early February. That is pretty cool, since being an alternate generally means you are in line for the next trip. Michele and Ken are also alternates, and while it would be cool to go in 2007 I think it would be even more fun in 2008 since I know Ken and Michele better than I know the other three going this year.

Anyway, I'll be sure to keep up volunteering with the club and being active - a trip to Japan would be too cool to pass up! I'd take extra time to at least visit Kyoto as well. I have a half-marathon planned the first weekend in December, so just in case I'll keep doing long runs througout December and January.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Thai Lunch

I went with my former officemate Matt for lunch today. He suggested a Thai restaurant known locally as having great food, and I have to say... major score. We went to Thai Delight in Longwood, which is a little place hidden in a non-descript strip. There are only two employees, a husband and wife - the husband takes orders, payment, and serves drinks, and his wife cooks everything. Literally - you order, she starts cooking. There is a sign on the refrigerator that says "Can't Wait? Don't Order".

I had some shredded lettuce and chicken mint rice dish that was absolutely delicious. For my drink I had Thai Iced Coffee which was also wonderful. The only drawback is this place is only open Mondays through Saturdays for lunch 11 am - 3 pm. Maybe that is good otherwise I'd get take-out a few times a week. ;)

Thursday, July 20, 2006


This movie made it to the top of my Netflix queue and finally arrived. The plot of Flightplan hinges around the disappearance of Kyle Pratt's (played by Jodie Foster) daughter during a long haul plane flight. Of course we know her daughter exists and was on the plane, so I watched the movie looking for a believable explanation for what was happened. I was quite pleased to find the explanation was pretty good and tied into the plot very well.

At the start of the movie, Kyle Pratt, a jet engine propulsion engineer, is distraught over the apparent suicide of her husband. She and her daughter Julia are flying the casket home to the United States for burial. During the flight Kyle takes a nap and wakes up to find her daughter Julia missing and that nobody remembers her being on board. She uses her familiarity with airline industry protocols to insist on a search that turns up nothing... meanwhile the Captain shows that the passenger manifest doesn't ever show her daughter boarding the plane. Kyle attempts to convince the air marshall Carson (Peter Sarsgaard) that she isn't delusional while she uses her familiarity with airplanes to take matters into her own hands.

I felt the movie had a definite Hitchcock influence, and I liked it quite a bit. So to spoil the plot, here is the explanation. First, the air marshall is a hijacker who enlisted one of the flight attendants to doctor the manifest and also report that the section she searched was clear. Her husband didn't commit suicide - he was pushed off the building in order for the hijackers to smuggle in explosives in the casket. The hijacker's plan was to establish Kyle as a delusional woman extremely distraught over her husband's death, who flipped out and hijacked a plane, and then blew it up after the other passengers were released. Her background in the airline industry, the death of the husband and the imagined missing child were to be used to blame her and cover up the real crime. Of course, she figured this out and thwarted these plans.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Remote Reorg

About 18 months ago my company broke the news that my division was consolodating remote office, of which the Redmond office was one. Employees had the option of accepting a transfer or finding another job in the company.

At the time I thought briefly about looking for a different job in the company, but I discarded that idea. This was because the Redmond office wasn't the HQ for any product at the time - literally every engineer there was already remote to another group. I decided that getting another job and remaining remote would just set me up for the same thing happening down the road.

Well I recently got new that this has occured. I'm still on some Redmond office mailing lists and I received a mail that said another division with remote employees in Redmond has decided to consolidate. Thirteen people are affected and they have until the end of November.

Yikes. Looks like my suspicions were correct.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Sprinkler Repair

Parts of my lawn are looking a little bare so I decided to double check the sprinkler system. After turning it on, I walked around and observed a few problems: one broken sprinkler head, and a few other ones that didn't look like they were working fully.

So, I called up a sprinkler repair company and they were able to send someone over in the afternoon. I met the crew and he did the same thing. Except he had flags with him and marked the location of my sprinklers. ;)

It turned out I needed six repairs: two partially broken sprinkler heads, one above ground pipe that stood behind some bushes and watered them, and three "popups" as he called them. These are really small ones, about the size of a dime, that peek up about one inch when the water is on. They are really hard to see or find unless the sprinkler system is on!

My sprinkler system is three zones: back/side yard, front yard bushes, and front yard. The timer can handle six zones total so if I got fancy and did more landscaping I could set up another zone for the timer to control.

Before he left he reprogrammed my timer and asked me how much time I wanted for each zone. I had it set for a total of 12 minutes before, and he looked at me in shock. He recommended a minimum of 60 minutes (!!) - 25 minutes for the back/side yard, 25 minutes for the front yard, and 10 for the bushes.

Wow, no wonder my lawn looks a bit stressed, I've only been watering it 20% of the time. Ugh it seems like a lot of water to throw onto the lawn. This area limits yard watering to two days a week - for me it is Thursday and Sunday since my address is even. At least we're getting into the rainy season so that will help out as well.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Office Space 3

Ah yes, the ongoing minor drama and conspiracy theory about my office move. My officemate said his boss told him he is moving as well, thus confirming the office grab. What was interesting was his boss said the future occupant of our office is... my boss!

Aha, no wonder the sudden push to move. To be fair my boss did say he wanted to get the group closer together, so with the bit of shuffling that is going on from another group's move, he was able to get a block of space. I guess part of that plan included seizing the prime real estate though. ;)

It'll be nice to have my own office, but I will miss my window, the natural light, and the view outside.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

CFTS #2 2006

This morning was the Central Florida Tri Series #2 event, a sprint. Events #1 and #3 have an olympic distance race, while #2 and #4 are sprints.

I felt a bit queasy coming out of the water because we had a few swells. Lake Minneola is self-contained and it wasn't really windy, so I think the waves were due to boat traffic further out.

The bike went OK - this new course they chose for the 2006 events is reasonably challenging for this area, with several hills. Also, the bike is 23K vs 20K which is the usual sprint distance bike leg. I'd compare it approximately to the bike course at Cascades Edge (or Black Diamond).

The run was tough. I'm not sure if there was a high pollen count or some dust or something in the air, but my throat felt a little tighter than usual while I was breathing.

Anyway, I did a 19:03 swim, 49:29 bike, and 24:41 run for an overall time (including transitions) of 1:39:54, good for 26/35 in my division.

My goal for the next month is to get back to the pool regularly! :)

Friday, July 07, 2006

One Year in Florida

A year ago today I moved to Florida! Wow the time has flown by. One good thing is that my wildlife sightings are mostly frogs, turtles, and birds. I've seen two live snakes but thankfully no urban assault alligators. ;)

It was a very quiet day at work. Many people took the rest of the week after July 4th off so late Friday afternoon it was a ghost town. I decided to go see Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man's Chest.

The movie was fun and had some crazy scenes like the fight on the runaway water wheel. But the movie jumped around, somehow Captain Jack (Johnny Depp) and his crew are fleeing from a sea monster one minute, and the next Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) finds the wreck and discovers Captain Jack is the God-figure for a tribe of cannibals about to sacrifice him.

Anyway, the plot is that Turner and Elizabeth Swann (Kiera Knightley) are arrested for helping Captain Jack Sparrow escape at the end of the previous movie. A business man representing a trading company offers Turner a pardon if he can bring back Sparrow's compass, which points the direction of what you most desire in the world. Turner leaves to search for Sparrow, and soon afterwards Swann escapes and leaves to search for Turner. Meanwhile Sparrow is after the legendary Davy Jones since he owes a blood debt and may be forced to spend eternity serving on his ship, if he can't otherwise steal a key in Jones' possession.

The treasure chest that Jones' key opens contains his still-beating heart, and with that the owner can make Jones do anything they want. This effectively means controlling the ocean since Jones can call upon a Kraken to destroy ships. Back to the businessman - he wants the Sparrow's compass since he can use it to lead him to Jones' chest and then destroy his competition.

Well I won't say too much more other than this movie ends setting up for its sequel, which was filmed at the same time (Pirates of the Carribean: At World's End), much like how the last two movies of the Matrix trilogy were filmed together.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Office Space 2

It appears the conspiracy theory I mentioned earlier was correct... today in our weekly meeting my boss mentioned that another colleague and I will be moving next to each other, in a few weeks. The irony is that I will be moving across the hall from my current office, to an interior corner. I'm not sure what my current officemate will do - if he stays I'm sure he'll get another officemate. But I suspect he'll be moved as well thus clearing our nice large office with the two walls of windows, for a manager-type.

I just had the feeling something was going on with the original mention/offer of getting an office. Oh well, it will be nice to have my own office.