Sunday, February 25, 2007

Diabetes Tour De Cure Ride

The Seminole Cyclist bike club picked out this as our first group event of 2007. The Tour de Cure is a charity ride for the American Diabetes Association, held to raise money to prevent and cure diabetes. Everyone in the club agreed to raise at least $150 for the ride. I am a lazy fundraiser so what I did is just write a check for that amount, and also submit my company's matching gift donation form.

The evening before we gathered at Jennie and Steve's house for a pasta party, and talked about the club. We plan to split up and provide marshalls for a slower Saturday ride, so new riders can come out and not get dropped. And, many in the club would like to organize "our" own century ride, possibly next year!

Originally uploaded by klbarrus.
In the kitchen at the pasta party.

Most of us did the 50 mile route, but a handful decided to do the 100 miler. Despite the winds, we made great time because we kept in formation most of the time and took turns pulling.

Originally uploaded by klbarrus.
Helping Jennifer with her number. I brought my race belt. :)

Originally uploaded by klbarrus.
Our formation... we rode like this for all 50 miles.

I took a few turns up front. It was a bit windy so all of us got a workout.

Originally uploaded by klbarrus.
Hungry cyclists descend on a SAG stop.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Fashion Project

A few weeks ago, I mentioned to my YMCA running friend Diana that I don't shop for clothes very often. She offered to help me pick out a few items and even look through my closet and toss out "unacceptable" items. I couldn't refuse such a generous offer, so we started today because both of us had President's Day off work.

Every woman will have a bias towards their fashion preferences, but I think Diana's taste is pretty good. She is a middle school teacher (and has lots of horror stories about dealing with students and their parents) and dresses nicely, and also dresses her fiance Travis well. She also thinks I should try different shaped glasses and modify my haircut just a tad... nothing too radical of course.

Before we started I got a brief overview of the theory of fashion: nothing too trendy or you'll have to monitor your wardrobe frequently, good jeans versus bad jeans (I didn't realize there was such a distinction), shoes, and so forth. She was shocked and appalled I sometimes wore shorts to work, even though it is common in the software industry and also here in Florida. My mind wandered to my friend Francesca, also a fashion diva, and I thought of how tough it must have been working at such a sartorially challenged environment as our previous employer. ;)

Diana went through all my shirts, pants, sweaters, and shorts. She spend about 5 seconds looking at each item before putting it back in the closet or piling it up in a heap for donation. She had an eagle eye for my clothes, and was basically correct every time she said something looked old. I'm a person who tends to horde clothes and I had a lot of stuff I hadn't worn in years. She accurately predicted the age of many items just on their appearance! Small stain? Donate. Collar stretched? Donate. Slightly faded? Donate. Looks old? Donate. Fabric showed signs of pilling? Donate. Sleeves stretched or worn? Donate. She did mention that many items she tossed out were OK but since I could afford new clothes, I should replace them.

My closest must have looked like a tomb of horrors to her!

In the end she recommended I replace about half of my clothes. The hardest hit items were my sweaters and sweatshirts, partly because I don't need to wear them as much here, and also because many were 5 to 8 years old (which again she unerringly noted). She also forbid me to wear jean shorts.

Originally uploaded by klbarrus.
Diana recommends I donate these clothes.

Originally uploaded by klbarrus.
Diana's comment: "This color is good for you, but it looks old, so donate it".
As it happens, I remember this shirt from high school... 20 years ago. This is one of the two oldest items of clothing I had. I kept the other one but she forbid me from wearing it.

Originally uploaded by klbarrus.
Diana visibly blanched upon seeing this shirt. "KARL! This shirt must be 15 years old and it is PASTEL!! That went out in the early 90's! Donate!!!". And of course, she was nearly right about the age.

Originally uploaded by klbarrus.
Diana's comment: "Maps go on the wall, never wear them. This shirt would be OK if you were retired and living in Key West".

Ouch! ;)

Originally uploaded by klbarrus.
My four or five denim shirts were especially derided. Diana's comment: "No no no and no! No denim shirts!!"

After all that, we headed off to the nearby mall to visit Express for Men and Gap, for some shopping. We'll have to travel further to get to a Banana Republic or Structure. I'll post about the shopping trip in a followup...

Sunday, February 18, 2007


My friend Christine organized a relay team for the Gasparilla marathon in Tampa. That sounded like fun so I agreed to do it and Christine found two others to fill out the roster. Our team name was "Shut Up And Run", simple and to the point. :)

The night before we had dinner at the Spaghetti Warehouse in Ybor City, just outside Tampa. This was the sloooowest restaurant I've been in - we got there at 6:00 pm and didn't get our food until sometime after 8:00! Everyone else at the dinner was from Christine's running club Orlando Fit, and we passed the time chit chatting.

One problem we had to solve was the woman who said she would run the 4th leg of the relay didn't show up, didn't return any of Christine's calls, and likely would just flake out... so we started planning an alternate strategy to avoid forfeiting. A few people said they would run for us in a pinch, and there was also the possibility of one of us running the extra leg.

The event started at 6:00 am so we got to the start to see everyone off, and then rushed back into the Convention Center to heat up. While waiting for Vanessa to finish her leg, we walked all over the place, maybe a mile or more in all seriousness, looking for the relay handoff spot. It was supposedly nearby, but we got misdirected several times, to the finish line, and then even further away... until finally we found somebody who knew where it was and also drove us there in a golf cart. It was right next to the Convention Center, down a side street and not very well marked at all, especially for non-natives who don't recognize street names.

Vanessa finished up her leg of 6 miles and handed off to Christine for her 8 mile leg, and then Vanessa and I went back to the Convention Center to have some bagels and coffee. Soon I lined up for the shuttle bus to get to my handoff spot, and made it there just a few minutes before Christine arrived. I took off for my 8 mile leg, miles 14 to 22.

I've never been at mile 20 in a marathon in 3 hours, but thanks to a relay team I was there. And I felt bad, because many of the other runner looked pretty beat, and I passed a few, but then I was only at mile 6 of my day while they were laboring along for the whole distance.

When I got to the relay spot at mile 22, Christine took the chip and said she'd run the final segment due to the no show. But I didn't want her to run alone so I raced after her and we ran together for the last 4.2 miles. Vanessa joined us right before the end and we finished as a team!

That was my first marathon relay and I had a great time. We finished just under 4 hours clock time, and our chip time was much better - 3:56:59. Our team came in 13th out of 36 relay teams.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Travel Plans for 2007

I've been kicking around a few travel ideas for a while, including my often-thought-of REI Adventure trip to Europe or China, a ski trip, and visiting my parents more often.

I don't seen my parents much - usually just twice a year. My aunt and my grandmother live in the same area so in one fell swoop I can see everyone. That is convenient! So this year I am thinking of a few visits: one over Mother's Day weekend, and another weekend after Labor Day. It just so happens there is a triathlon in Grand Prairie, TX on Sept. 9th, so if I do that race I will take a few days before and after as well. And of course, figure out the whole bike shipping process.

As for the ski trip, my friends Bev and Ben are looking into Lake Tahoe in the middle of March. We would meet up with former coworker Dave, from way back in the Compaq days, and his family. One thing I do miss about Washington is the option of going to the snow for a day, but on the other hand it has been nearly two years and I see that I'm not missing it that much.

Finally, the mythical Europe trip. I have a friend getting married in Portugal on June 9th... and one of the REI trips (Prague to Budapest) is June 12 through June 20. The timing is good - I could arrive in Portugal a few days early, tour around a bit, attend the wedding, and make my way to Prague for the REI trip. The travel logistics will take extra work to iron out (round trip to Portugal and treat the REI trip as a side round trip), but it shouldn't be too bad.

My passport expires in June so the first step is to start the renewal process by the end of this week!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Key West

For the weekend my parents and I drove to Key West, FL. It is deceptively far, a bit over 400 miles away. It made for a long day of driving on Friday and return on Sunday, especially with intermittent rain.

We went to visit some family friends, neighbors of ours from years ago when we lived in California. They hadn't seen me in over 20 years! Jerry and Ann now live... in a mobile home, and tour around the country visiting RV parks.

I have never paid attention to RV's and mobile homes, other than noting their presence on the highway. But it turns out this is a major hobby/lifestyle for people, an entire subculture I had never noticed! During the drive, I noticed parks jammed with RV's, parks I probably would have glanced right over before.

Their RV was a giant (40 foot long) bus-sized vehicle parked for several weeks on a small island in Key West. They are 1 of 100 or so other families jockeying for position in a queue that determines who gets the "dry" hookup (no electricity or water) and who gets the "full" hookup (electricity and water). Due to demand, full hookups are cycled around so everyone can get a turn. While in the dry dock ;) they have to run a gas generator for a few hours a day to charge batteries to run the electricity for the refrigerator, TV, lights, AC, etc.

Other than that the mobile home had the comforts of a very small house: shower, tub, sink, kitchen, stove, closet, master bedroom, couch, etc. It was actually fairly comfortable, although I assure you I am hardly going to sell my house and move into one!

The RV Park had a few small common utility buildings with men's/women's restrooms and showers and laundry facilities. People in full hookup can probably just skip the communal areas, but everyone else in dry hookup has to schedule around. In practice it wasn't that inconvenient, just a short walk from their spot. Of course, RV'ing in North Dakota when it is 20 below zero is probably less enjoyable; on the other hand few others would likely fill a park so it would be easier to get a full hookup. ;)

Anyway, while we were there we toured around Key West. The main party street is Duval street, with shops and bars and restaurants. It looked like a cleaner less crowded New Orleans. We drove by Ernest Hemingway's house, did a short walking tour, and found the Southernmost Point marker:

Originally uploaded by klbarrus.
Gail made it all the way to Cuba... I just got within 90 miles.

Originally uploaded by klbarrus.
This island used to be a target for military exercises. Now it is housing for the rich and richer. ;)