Monday, November 17, 2008


Bev called up in October, to wish me a happy birthday. We hadn't seen each other in a year or more, so she invited me out for a weekend in November. Also flying out was another friend of ours from Houston, Patti.

Originally uploaded by klbarrus

We had a nice, relaxing weekend. Bev got her inlaws to watch their two boys Friday and Saturday, so the four of us (Bev and Ben, Patti, me) took some bikes out to a park with trails. But... it proved to be a little too hilly for the group so we packed up and just visited wineries!

Winery Patrons
Originally uploaded by klbarrus

We visited a few, but eventually wound up at Ben and Bev's favorite winery, V. Sattui. The winery has a small museum, just one room with some old equipment, fairly large picnic grounds, and is very scenic. Plus, it has a generous wine tasting program: tasting 6 of 9 regular wines for $5, or tasting 6 of 9 premium wines for $10. For comparison, some of the other wineries we stopped at were more expensive: $25 for tasting, or another one was $10 for 5 samples, etc. We were cheap and just left those places after a brief walkthrough.

V. Sattui Building
Originally uploaded by klbarrus

On Sunday, Ben and Bev had their boys back, so we took it easy in the morning. In the afternoon, we visited a salmon hatchery along the American River, and then went for a walk/hike. It was a really nice trail: paved for bikes, with a gravel lane for runners! Past the gravel lane were trails along the bank good for hikers or mountain bikers. We collected flat rocks and skipped them in the water. :)

American River
Originally uploaded by klbarrus

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


This election season has gone on for a long time, nearly 2 years (!), but it is winding down soon.

My friend Diana called up and wanted to know if I would be interested in attending a rally - Barack Obama and Bill Clinton were stopping in the area late on Wednesday. Late as in 11 pm, in the Kissimmee area, which is already about an hour drive away. I agreed, so we made plans to meet and drive down there early enough to park, line up, and meet two of her friends.

The rally was held at a county fairgrounds, and was jammed with people, even though we got there almost 3 hours early! We passed the time in line just chatting, but during quiet moments I thought of all the rallies that all the candidates held, and how thousands/millions of other citizens in every state had done this same thing. Getting there 3 hours early means you can line up to stand in the crowd - those people that get bleacher seats, behind the candidates on a TV camera... I can't imagine how early they had to arrive. Probably in the morning, or those seats are invitation only. Mind boggling! I also tried to recall any other time I've seen a U.S. Presidential Candidate or President live... and the only time I could remember was in the early 90's in Houston, where George Bush Sr. gave a talk during an economic summit. Since part of campus was closed, I wandered over and attended it.

Anyway, the rally was fun. Obama aired a commercial before the World Series, and they played it on big screens. There were a few other speakers: the actor Jimmy Smits, plus an attorney who was organizing poll-watchers and legal teams. Bill Clinton came on to various cheers, and spoke for a while, and then Obama came out on stage and talked.

I had heard parts of his speech before, from other news coverage, but it was exciting to hear it live! I tried to take some pics but we were too far back to get really good ones.

Barack Obama
Originally uploaded by klbarrus

Afterwards, it took nearly 1 hour before we could even move from the parking lot, and then it was another hour back home. So it was a pretty late night for both of us, but both Diana and I were glad we went! Mai and Charles wanted to go as well, but they had to stay home and watch their daughter. :)

The next day at work, I searched through the Orlando Sentinel website and found their writeup of the event.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Marine Corps Marathon

After training for so many months, it was a relief to finally do the event! This was by far the largest event I've ever been to - 22000 or more participants, and thousands of volunteers. The course was nice and scenic, passing several famous monuments, the weather was perfect... I had a lot of fun.

The hilly section of the course was early, and our hill runs out in Clermont really paid off. The race went pretty well - I didn't start feeling tired until mile 21, where my left calf started feeling sore. I was worried about cramping, especially during miles 22-24 in the Crystal City area, but it didn't happen.

Marine Corps Marathon

Official time was 4:34, and unofficial time (i.e. time after I subtracted out the time I spent in porta-potty lines) was 4:25. I'm happy... after the soreness goes away I'll think about another one, a little bit faster. :)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Spy Museum

We took it pretty easy. Mai, Charles and I went to the International Spy Museum, right next door to the FBI building. I loved it... reading all the exhibits, seeing the various gizmos and gadgets on display, it was pretty interesting overall. On a previous trip to the DC area, I went to visit the National Cryptologic Museum at NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, MD, which was also very interesting to me.

The Spy Museum was of more general interest, and had a few fun interactive displays. There was a recording of WWII Navajo code-talkers, a crawl space where you had to move as quietly as possible, and a covert agent game to play! Upon entry to the Spy Museum, you could spend 2 or 3 minutes learning a secret identity and then answer questions and get further instructions inside the museum. At the exit, there was a final quiz that simulated a border guard at a passport control, asking questions about your trip. Any inconsistencies resulted in a "suspicious" rating, with possible detention. Fortunately, I managed to pass through with no problems. ;)

It was rainy and after finishing up at the museum, we just wanted to get back to the hotel and rest up. Our final carbo loading spaghetti dinner was at the Pentagon City Mall food court, since it was cheap, convenient, and fast. We watched Baby Mama while unwinding in the room.

Friday, October 24, 2008

DC Trip

After training for so many months, marathon weekend is here!

Earlier this year I realized that 10 years ago is when I started running. Since then I've branched out, but running was the first fitness activity I enjoyed and stuck with. In order to commemorate that, I decided to do a marathon later in the year. I searched around for a suitable one, and boiled it down to Portland or Washington DC, both in October, and thus also around my birthday.

I mentioned this plan to some friends, and to my surprise, quite a few expressed interest! We met and tossed around some training plans and eventually registered for the 2008 Marine Corps Marathon.

MCM training group
Originally uploaded by klbarrus
At a party at Venky's. Only Charles is missing from the pic. And yes, Linda is really tall (6'2").

We flew up in several groups throughout the day. Since I was splitting a hotel room with Mai and Charles, I met them and we went to the expo, where everybody had to go to pick up race numbers and info packets. Fortunately, we met up with the others and went to dinner afterwards!

MCM Display
Originally uploaded by klbarrus
Charles, Mai, me

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Dawg Dash

I returned to Seattle for the weekend, to participate in the Dawg Dash, see friends, and celebrate my birthday. It was a great weekend!

I decided to give Francesca a break and stay with Kandi and family instead - it turned out to be a good weekend for that since Mark and Jacob were going to be out Saturday to Sunday on a scout camping trip. Friday was nice and quiet and shortly after dinner, I dozed off (time zone differences and all).

Saturday was my birthday. 40 years old... argh! Well it happens to everybody I guess. Good thing everyone took the opportunity to make fun of my advancing age. ;) For dinner I met the gang at Shamiana's Indian restaurant in Kirkland, since everybody seems to like it. But nobody lives over there anymore so next time I think I'll find a restaurant on the Seattle side. Afterwards, we went to Mike and Alexandra's to play Rock Band, a fun game with so many people. I really like the drums - there is a lot more going on that you would think. Actually, all of us remarked how tough it can be to play, and the game is a very simplified version of all of the instruments!

Sunday was the Dawg Dash where I had a decent 10K at about 52 minutes. This race is tricky with the stairs and curbs and I didn't want to do anything crazy before the marathon, so I ran a nice comfortable race and had a great time. It was a beautiful day for a fun, cool and clear.

Afterwards was Francesca's famous Waffle Fest, the annual brunch she holds after the Dawg Dash.

Originally uploaded by klbarrus
Chef Francesca making waffles.

Waffle Fest
Originally uploaded by klbarrus

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Yesterday at lunch, part of a tooth chipped off. It wasn't painful, and I didn't even notice until my tongue felt something weird along the side of a molar. Or more accurately, felt something missing... as in the back corner of a tooth. I remember a dentist once telling me that I would probably have to have a crown eventually, since that one tooth had 2 or 3 fillings in it, making the tooth weak. Well, that day came to pass!

Since it didn't hurt and I could eat and chew normally, I briefly entertained the idea of not doing anything about it. But I knew the now-exposed side of the filling would eventually cause problems, so I made an appointment ASAP. Which turned out to be this morning.

My dentist took a quick look and said "yes, you need a crown. Ceramic or gold?" Apparently the gold/metal choice is better since it will be far less likely to crack, while the ceramic one is mostly for aesthetic reasons (e.g. a visible tooth needs a crown). I opted for the gold crown since my molar really isn't that visible.

Now I have a temporary crown, and have to go back in two weeks to get fitted for the permanent crown.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Bike Class

My bike club decided, at the last club meeting, that it would be good for the club to send interested people to take the "safety class" offered by the League of American Bicyclists, just for general knowledge. Any safety tips would be valuable, especially for ride leaders, or people that help marshall other rides, etc.

So I signed up. The first part of the class was OK, mostly topics like general bike safety, and entirely lecture based. Due to a schedule conflict, I wound up taking the second part today, and it was much more fun.

Today's the class started out with lecture and slides, but the topics were more interesting, since they were directly about road position: where to position a lone cyclist or group of cyclists, in various traffic situations. The general idea is to think of ourselves as a slow moving vehicle - we obey all traffic signs, take the rightmost lane that serves our destination, etc. The slides covered more complicated scenarios that before, such as handling a fork in the lane.

But what made today's class most fun was practicing maneuvers in the parking lot: quick turning, emergency stopping, swerving to miss small objects, etc. After that we went on a ~15 mile loop to practice everything. We even had a quiz over the material.

I passed both the quiz and the bike portion, so I'll get my certificate along with the others in the club... whenever that is.

Friday, August 29, 2008


I've complained to running friends that I am fairly inflexible: I can't touch my toes, or do many of those fancy stretches. My friends Mai and Charles suggested I go with them to yoga, so I agreed to check it out. There are classes offered at our Y, but they like to go to a local studio, Guruv Yoga. The class they like to attend is "Happy Hour Yoga", offered Fridays at 5:30 pm, because of the wine and occasional appetizers afterwards!

So I went, and it was tough. The class is a basic Vinyasa Flow yoga, and I do what I can until I feel resistance. However, due to my overall muscle tightness, I feel resistance pretty early in most of the positions. For some, I need the help of a foam yoga block. Overall I enjoyed it, and am determined to keep attending. We plan to take advantage of our Y memberships and attend a Tuesday morning class as well, after running. Mai and Charles and pretty good, but they've been doing it for years. I know I need to do it more than once a week if I actually want to improve.

Anyway, after we had our little glass of wine, we went next door to Delano's for dinner. We like the menu, even if it is small - right now it is salads, flatbread pizza, and sandwiches. But they are expanding the restaurant and also expanding the menu, so soon we'll have more food to choose from! It is a great way to wind down a Friday evening.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Manatee Encounter

My friend Mai's birthday is approaching, so she wanted to do something the weekend before it. It is good timing since she is a teacher and school starts on Monday (faculty is back, but the kids don't show up for another week). She arranged a group outing to take the Manatee Encounter tour from A Day Away Kayak Tours. We had a fair sized group: Mai and Charles, Travis and Diana, myself and Johanna and few others Mai invited as well.

Kayak Friends
Originally uploaded by klbarrus
At the start of the tour.

We didn't have to look far for manatees! On the way out we paddled into a boat launch area, known as a gathering spot for the manatees. Within minutes, two very friendly manatees began to swim around us, checking out the group.

Originally uploaded by klbarrus
Very curious and friendly manatee.

The manatees surfaced very close - I could feel them exhale. They would flip over and swim under the boat, and circled us until we left. They would bump the kayaks and turn us in slow circles. The guide said it was OK to gently pet them, so when one was close enough, I stuck out my hand to feel it swimming by.

Mai and Charles
Originally uploaded by klbarrus

After we left the boat launch manatees, we entered a sheltered shore area. I saw a small jellyfish swimming by, so I lifted it up on my paddle. It is a little hard to see, but in the middle of the paddle is a lump - that's the jellyfish, a little one.

The tour also included a stop in shallow water where we dug for clams, and looked at NASA 12 miles to the south. The tour company also offers a few other trips that sound interesting, such as the nighttime bioluminescence tour. They also have a shuttle launch trip, which I think would be much better than being closer in viewing, on the NASA grounds. If the launch is postponed, at least you had the kayaking part to enjoy!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Dark Knight

My friend and coworker Stephanie is a huge Batman fan, and her birthday was Friday, so I got her tickets to the IMAX showing of The Dark Knight. After getting back from the morning Clermont run, I hurried up to meet her and Jason at the lone IMAX theater in the area, near the Universal Theme parks on International Drive.

It was worth it... the movie was great and looked fantastic in IMAX. Part of the IMAX experience is a really booming sound system, which paid off during various scenes. Heath Ledger's Joker was a great character, a criminally insane sadist, and not a goofball as had been depicted in previous movies.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Central Florida Tri

I signed up for this event, along with several members of the YMCA tri club. Even though this year will be run-heavy for me, I still want to do a few tris!

The swim was in Lake Claire on the UCF campus, and this caused a registration foul-up before the event. Apparently, UCF wanted all athletes to sign a waiver before letting us swim in the lake, in addition to the usual packet pickup and general chaos surrounding a local event where half the people register DOR. I signed up online, and expected to show my USAT registration and sign some usual waiver before going off to setup my transition zone. However, due to this extra UCF waiver, and the problems with distributing it and getting that signed and checked, the line backed up pretty far. It may sound trivial, but an extra 15 seconds per participant meant the extra delay across ~300 people was about an hour. And that's about how late the tri started.

My prediction: if this event is held at UCF next year, the waiver will be gone: absorbed into the other waiver we sign, handled via a checkbox for those that pre-register, or hugely better organized, because it was truly cumbersome to deal with.

I also registered by Champion Chip number, but was handed a race-day chip as well. Since I didn't know which one would be used for the actual timing, I wore both. :)

Anyway, the race started and went well. The swim was mismeasured, but you expect that in a sprint, especially at a new venue. During the bike, I took a turn a bit to fast and skidded just a second into a manhole cover. I kept control but something fell and hit the ground. I checked my bike bag, pump, reflectors, computer, rear derailleur, but couldn't find anything that dropped. After another mile or two I looked at my watch... and found out what dropped. My watch! Not the strap, but the electonics actually separated from the wrist strap. So I sadly marked the passing of my faithful Garmin 305.

It was a good race for me. In my new division, M40-44 (USAT rules round up your age), I finished 14/27. I was 103/267 overall and 74th among men. Swim was slow, at 156/267 (overall), bike was a bit faster at 101/267, and run was even better at 68/267.

Afterwards, I went to a local diner with a group from the Y, and we enjoyed breakfast while analyzing various aspects of the race. :)

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Bowling League

Some friends from work talked me into joining their team in a bowling league. This was a ton of fun in Seattle, so I did it. But this league is far more serious.

The first clue was the discussion of handicaps - it seems the other three on my team average 180 or higher. But they swore this was fine, I would get a handicap and apparently the "weaker" bowlers on a team (like myself) in a handicap league make all the difference. The reasoning behind this is somebody who already bowls 180 or 200 or 220 probably isn't going to improve that much; meanwhile somebody who bowls in the low 100's may, over the course of the league, improve their average 20 points or so - and this improvement, added to their handicap, boosts the team score a much larger proportion.

The second clue this league took itself far more seriously was the league meeting before we started the season - run via parlimentary procedure, with motions and seconds to elect officers (!!) and accept the league rules. The whole time I sat there in disbelief - it seemed far too overblown and I could scarcely believe this was happening for a bowling league. Officer positions were the standard President, Vice President, and some combination of Secretary and Treasurer run in conjunction with an employee of the lanes. There was brief mention of electing a Sergeant-at-Arms, charged with the duty of breaking up fist-fights (I am totally serious here), but we passed on that.

So with all these (in my mind, ridiculous) formalities out of the way, we started bowling. And here was my third clue the league was so serious - everybody else brought all their own gear. Rolling luggages with space for shoes, a bunch of towels, assorted stickers, and two balls each. That's right, two balls: one for the first roll, and a so-called "spare" ball for the second roll, and a few rubber doughnuts so people could keep their spare balls under the rack. After all, there isn't enough room for eight people with two balls each to keep them all on the rack. So why two balls, what is the difference between a "first roll" ball and the "spare" ball? Funny I should ask...

It turns out bowling balls have a solid metal rod embedded in them, that runs from the core to the surface. Balls are marked with a small spot as to where this rod is, by a colored dot or small target etched on the ball. House balls are usually drilled so the rod is between the finger holes - thus a ball bowled straight will tend to roll straight. But all the serious bowlers don't release like that, they give it spin and release at an angle. Thus, their balls are drilled so the finger holes are away from the rod, and being off-center from the roll, the ball will tend to hook. This in turn is why they have two bowling balls - one is drilled in this fashion, used for the first roll in a frame, and the other one is drilled "straighter" (closer to center) so it tends to roll straighter, and is used for picking up spares.

It was surreal listening to my teammates and our opponents talk about lane oil, watching them unpack little sticky thumb grippers to place into the thumb hole, polishing excess oil off their bowling balls in between frames, using small metal brushes on their bowling shoes to improve the "slide"... My mind was reeling from all this, as I used rented shoes and a house ball and did nothing.

I wound up bowling a 397 for three games (individual games are so passé, as serious bowlers apparently keep score of a three game series), while two teammates bowled a 540 and 541 and our fourth bowled a 695. Unbelievable! I'm not even sure how games are scored, for competitive purposes - it isn't merely total score of all players, there is something to do with pincount as well, where pincount is number of pins knocked down, and thus differs from score since pincount doesn't get a bonus from spares or strikes. My three teammates entered a "strike pot" for $1 - the pot pays out to all winners if (and only if) somebody bowls a strike in three randomly chosen frames per game. I cannot produce a strike on demand so I opted to skip it, although for $1 I'll probably enter next week for the heck of it. The pot accumulates throughout the season, but is capped at $1500. Now that would be pretty sweet, to hit the correct nine strikes one day and collect $1500. For me, hitting three strikes per game for three games would be great in and of itself. :)

It was fun, and I look forward to observing this bowling subculture that I did not know existed. The league runs to August so I will have plenty of chances to check it out.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

New Smyrna

The recreational division of my bike club decided to go kayaking this time, in nearby New Smyrna - one of the popular beach destinations for locals (the other being Cocoa Beach. Daytona is for "tourists".)

We drove out J.B.'s Fish Camp, a restaurant that also rents kayaks, and prepared for an hour or so of kayaking by lathering on sunscreen and getting the rentals taken care of. I rented a single kayak, the kind that you sat on top of, as opposed to ones where you sit inside.

The group paddled out and it was a lot of fun exploring up and down the river and beach area. We didn't go in the ocean and instead stayed on the shallower protected side - in some places the water was only a foot deep. I saw a stingray, but the picture didn't turn out.

New Smyrna
Originally uploaded by klbarrus

Friday, May 09, 2008


I finished up watching this TV series via Netflix. It was fantastic, even if the subject matter is so odd.

Dexter is forensics expert working for the Miami police department, and his particular expertise is in blood spatter analysis. Dexter is also a serial killer, a hobby he pursues in his spare time. He only kills people that he feels deserve it, such as the child molester he kills in the pilot. Or the snuff film maker, or the repeat drunk driver, or the "coyote" couple he kills - a husband/wife team smuggling Cubans into the country and then extorting their relatives. If the relatives don't come up with extra payment, the couple kills them. Until Dexter takes them both out!

As such, the show tries to provide insight into the mind of a serial killer, attempting to explain his motivation and ethics code that he follows. Dexter also has a girlfriend with an abusive ex-husband, a sister on the police force, some interesting coworkers, and another serial killer on the loose in the city.

Yes, the main serial killer is one that is out murdering prostitutes and freezing their bodies - and thus is called the Ice Truck Killer. Things get really interesting when the Ice Truck Killer makes contact with Dexter... for example, Dexter returns to his apartment to discover a Barbie doll chopped up in his freezer. He examines the hand, which has painted fingernails. The very next victim's hand is frozen in a block of ice, with painted fingernails. Thus, the Ice Truck Killer knows about Dexter and makes contact. Will Dexter figure out who it is before the Ice Truck Killer exposes him? What does he want anyway? The game is on!

Season 1 is just 12 episodes, and I could barely wait until the next DVD showed up.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Blue Springs

The Sunday club ride has fractured a bit, into several groups, more or less people that want to hammer all the time, and people that really are just wanting a steady moderate ride. I'm in the steady moderate group, and every now and then we mix it up and do a fun ride or a destination ride. This week that ride was to a state park, Blue Springs.

We met up and rode on back roads and side streets the 30 miles or so to the park. Once there, we took advantage of the swim area, and jumped in!

Blue Springs
Originally uploaded by klbarrus

I joined the others shortly after taking the pic.

You can see manatees at this spring, especially during winter mornings when they come to enjoy the relatively warm water. There weren't any around when we were there - by midday they are out in the river searching for food - and of course had there been, we would have kept our distance.

After splashing around for 15 minutes or so, we got out and pedaled our way back to Lake Mary.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


A friend from the Y running club called up and asked if I were interested in seeing a Bruce Springsteen concert. I'm not the hugest fan, but I thought it would be fun so agreed and bought a ticket.

I didn't realize he was still an active performer - my memories of him are from the mid 80's and the album Born in the USA. But I knew he had a large catalog of songs. On the other hand Nicole, my friend from the running club, is an enormous fan, had seen him in concert a half-dozen times, knew every song on every CD, burned me a copy of his latest one to listen to later, etc.

It was fun. He played for 2 and a half hours, everything from his music from the 70's to songs off his recent CD. I was hoping to hear Glory Days, my favorite song of his, off the Born in the USA album, but he didn't play it. I thought it was cool that he took 4 or 5 requests from the audience - people showed up with signs listing the songs they wanted to hear, or folded sheets of paper, and occasionally he would grab one, show it the the band, and then start to play. No lip-syncing and air guitar here!

I don't go to many concerts. I think the last one I saw was Thievery Corporation, in Seattle.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Spirit of the Y 5K

This event has grown over the 3 times it has been held. It is a small local race held by the Lake Mary YMCA, to raise money for some of their programs. The first year, it was about 50 people. I didn't race that year, instead I volunteered as a course monitor. Last year it went up to 150 or so. This time it was up near 350.

This was a great race for me. I finished in 22:56, which isn't all that fast for my age group, but for whatever reason (mostly being other faster guys not showing up) I actually medaled! Check it out, 3rd in my age group, winning a very rare piece of hardware. :)

Originally uploaded by klbarrus

The runner finishing just behind me, 1 second later, was my coworker and friend Francis (using his nickname Cisco). I heard somebody pull up behind me around mile 3, but didn't want to turn to look to see who it was. He just stayed there and we both raced in. Normally a time around 23 minutes isn't good enough for a top finish so both of us were quite surprised to see the results (last year I did 21:50 and was 5th). I also know the 2nd place finisher, Victor, from the Orlando Running Club, and he is a really strong runner.

Diana did great, taking 2nd in her age group (F25-29) at 22:28. She was happy, but the funny thing was after the race, she was obsessed with the course measurement. I wore my GPS, and so did Brooke and Kurt (1st in F35-39 and 1st in M30-34 respectively) and all three of us measured the course at 3.2 miles. To Diana, this meant she was cheated out of a sub 22 minute finish at 3.1 miles, since the course was 0.1 miles too long.

Overall, it was a great race!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Bible Joke

Well I've been a slacker on the blog; I'll get back in gear soon.

During my little breaks at work, I've been trying to solve this puzzle. Recently, I was forwarded one of those Internet jokes:

A priest offered a Nun a lift.

She got in and crossed her legs, forcing her gown to reveal a leg.

The priest nearly had an accident.

After controlling the car, he stealthily slid his hand up her leg.

The nun said, 'Father, remember Psalm 129?'

The priest removed his hand. But, changing gears, he let his hand slide up her leg again. The nun once again said, 'Father, remember Psalm 129?'

The priest apologized 'Sorry sister but the flesh is weak.'

Arriving at the convent, the nun sighed heavily and went on her way.

On his arrival at the church, the priest rushed to look up Psalm 129. It said, 'Go forth and seek, further up, you will find glory.'

Moral of the story:

If you are not well informed in your job, you might miss a great opportunity.

Naturally, being an inquisitive sort of person, I immediately went to look up Psalm 129, to read it for myself.

What I found was interesting - the lack of that passage! I cannot find any Bible anywhere, that has a passage even remotely similar to the above little quote. In the course of my searching I have found two different numbering systems for the Psalms, the Septuagint and the Masoretic - Wikipedia mentions these as Greek and Hebrew numbering - so allowing for those differences (basically reading Psalm 128, 129, 130 for good measure) I come up with zilch.

I've tried several different Bibles, I know translations can vary quite a bit. But still, between the American Standard, New International Version, King James, Skeptics Annotated Bible, in addition to the above New Advent Catholic Bible, there is nothing.

Googling for the quote in the joke, "Go forth and seek, further up, you will find glory" only leads to about a million hits for various forms of this joke, all of which apparently are referencing a non-existent quote. Another possibility is the joke has it wrong, it isn't Psalm 129 and is instead one of the other 150 of them.

If anybody actually knows what Psalm that is, leave a comment. I'm going to peck away at this and eventually read through the Psalms and either find the right one, or conclude the joke is funny, but bogus.

EDIT: A commenter Reggie points out that Matthew 7:7 works as the punch line in this joke:

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you

Another commenter Steve points out that part of Luke 14:10 works, perhaps not as well, but reasonably:

that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher

Thank you very much!

Saturday, February 23, 2008


OK I've been a slacker with the blog. But, I wrote three more entries about my Japan trip and am resolved to finish up the rest by next week. I've been busy with the usual... and a heavy dose of running.

I returned from the trip determined to pick up and emphasize my running. It was so exciting to travel there and also meet a bunch of other people sharing an interest. Plus, I would like to do a marathon later in the year, and finish in a decent time, so I signed up for Marathonfest, a local training program. The program includes Tuesday track workouts, Thursday tempo runs, and Saturday morning runs.

I'll attend as many Tuesday track sessions as I can, but probably skip the Thursday tempo run in favor of staying local in Lake Mary and running with the Y group. The Saturday morning long run is the cornerstone of the program, and something I haven't been doing on my own. Or done for quite a while.

What is tough is how early that long run is - meet at 5:45 AM (or earlier!) and leave at 6:00 AM. Harsh but necessary.

So it was tough getting up at 4:45 AM for the first long run I could make. I was still groggy pulling into the park, but was happy to see about 40-50 other people also up at this crazy hour. Others tell me this spring session is half the size of the fall session! The group has critical mass, whereby you could search around a bit and find other people wanting to run your pace and desired distance. Or you could just run the day's workout with your own pace group. I wound up running with 3 or 4 others, an out-and-back in Winter Park for 7.9 miles in 1:06, for an 8:25 pace.

The next workout was short for me - I signed up for a 5K, so I just ran a warmup of 3.9 miles, out-and-back to the first water stop. Following this I did the House of Hope 5K in about 22:40, which I am very happy with since I haven't been doing much speed work.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Japan Trip

I'm back from a fantastic trip, and still sorting pictures and thinking of what to write. So I'll be filling this in during the upcoming days. In the meantime, my trip outline:

Also, the Urayasu Runners Club kept a blog of "Orlando Week 2008".

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Kyoto Walking Tour

I found a nice walking tour of Kyoto and followed it.

Originally uploaded by klbarrus
Temple of the Silver Pavillion.

Ginkakuji View
Originally uploaded by klbarrus
Kyoto view from the Ginkakuji grounds.

Heian Shrine
Originally uploaded by klbarrus
Heian Shrine

Torii Gate
Originally uploaded by klbarrus
Torii Gate near the Heian Shrine, in Kyoto.

Ryozen Kannon
Originally uploaded by klbarrus
Ryozen Kannon

Nijō Castle
Originally uploaded by klbarrus
Nijō Castle.

This castle is famous for the "nightingale" floors... squeaky wooden floors that alerted the occupants if anybody was attempting to sneak up on them.

Originally uploaded by klbarrus
Kinkakuji, Temple of the Golden Pavillion.

This is Kyoto's most famous tourist attraction, a spectacular building. It was busy even in February, I imagine at the height of the tourist season it is difficult to get a clear view of the building!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Bullet Train to Kyoto

After touring Urayasu in the morning, I met up with the group to say bye. They were all flying back, but I took an extra 5 days off work to see more of Japan! I arranged a side trip for myself to Kyoto, and got there by taking the Shinkansen from Tokyo. Shige helped me buy the tickets and waited outside until the train left.

Originally uploaded by klbarrus
Standing in front of the Nozomi Shinkansen.


In the morning, Shige drove me around the old part of Urayasu. Most of the city is new, built on land reclaimed from the sea. Shige took me to the "old" town, where the streets were very narrow, and there was more evidence of the original industry of the area: fishing.

Urayasu is at sea level, and has a canal and watergate system used to control flooding. The gate opens and closes during high tide and low tide.

Originally uploaded by klbarrus

Urayasu has three shrines, and we visited one of them. This sculpted hill is on the side of the main building.

Originally uploaded by klbarrus

Shige said the proper way to pay respects is to clap your hands twice (with a large sweeping motion), pray, clap once more, and then toss some coins into the collection box. ;) Sometimes there is a bell to ring (attached to a rope). He demonstrated and then I did it.

Urayasu Shrine
Originally uploaded by klbarrus

While in Urayasu, we noticed these mats all over the place. What were they, and what was their purpose? They followed streets, forked at intersections, and switched patterns at obstacles like stairways. We took a few guesses but wound up asking our hosts.

Mysterious Mats
Originally uploaded by klbarrus

They told us these mats were for blind people - the grooves helped guide their walking sticks. Very interesting!

After seeing the shrine, we drove over to the city museum, which had a nice display on the history and culture of Urayasu. It was also a popular spot for school kids as there were at least 3 or 4 classes of elementary school students in there as well! The museum had vintage pictures of the early industries (fishing and nori farming), some replica equipment such as boats and clamming gear, and a small model of what an original section of the city looked like.

For lunch, Shige took me to a nearby restaurant where we had some very delicious unagi.

Monday, February 04, 2008


Several URC members took us to Kamakura, southeast of Tokyo right off a subway stop.

We headed towards the Tsurugaoka Hachiman shrine, at the end of a path that began with a torii. It looks like the path vanishes in the distance, but that is partly an optical illusion as it is built that way - the path narrows as it approaches the shrine.

Originally uploaded by klbarrus

Tsurugaoka Hachiman Shrine
Originally uploaded by klbarrus

After lunch we walked back along a street lined with shops, and eventually caught a bus to see Daibutsu, the famous large statue of Buddha.

Originally uploaded by klbarrus

After that we visited Kenchō-ji, a large Zen temple nearby.

Originally uploaded by klbarrus

Peach Blossom
Originally uploaded by klbarrus

This peach blossom is a sign of spring. We told the Japanese our equivalent spring tradition is Groundhog Day, which they thought was amusing.

Cave Offering
Originally uploaded by klbarrus

Kenchō-ji had a small cave accessible by tunnels. The tunnels were lined with various carvings. The cave had more carvings, and was a place people came to leave small statues and flowers as offerings.

Sunday, February 03, 2008


The usual schedule for the exchange trip is to check out of our hotel after the race, and then have a homestay with a Japanese family until departure. My homestay was with the Yanagida family: Shigeyuki and Emiko. Shige and Emiko visited Orlando in December 2007 for the OUC half marathon, so I had met them before.

Originally uploaded by klbarrus

Like many densely populated urban areas, most people live in condos. Shige and Emiko's home was in a building near the subway stop (very convenient!) on the 17th floor. The building had an open-air central corridor with a trash room and elevator access, with 6 or 7 units on each floor.

Their home was immaculate, I think they both cleaned extensively prior to my arrival. The front door opened onto a small atrium with a closet, where visitors leave their shoes and swap for slippers. The kitchen, dining room, and living room were behind a door, the sink and bathroom were behind another door, and the hallway led to three bedrooms and a small room with the toilet. I had heard all sorts of stories about tiny living spaces in Tokyo - this home was larger than I expected, and on par with condos I've seen in other metropolitan areas.

View of Urayasu
Originally uploaded by klbarrus

Their view was amazing! It is a hazy day, but along the right edge of the picture, at the horizon, is Mt. Fuji.

The next morning, Emiko fixed me a traditional Japanese breakfast.

Japanese Breakfast
Originally uploaded by klbarrus

(Check out the image on flickr - I used the "add note" feature annotate items). Breakfast consisted of small portions of several foods: natto (fermented soy beans), fish, salad, spinach and eggs, carrots and noodles. The presentation made it look like artwork!

I can't post about a trip to Japan without mentioning the Japanese bath. The bathroom, even in the hotel, had a combined shower/tub room, except instead of the shower being in the tub, it was by the side. Also, the entire room was for bathing, so no shower curtain. By the shower head, which had a few fixed positions (low, medium, high), was a pail and stool to sit on. The idea was to soap and shower, sitting on the stool, rinse off, and then get in the bathtub for a relaxing post-shower soak. The tub had a lid over it, and was kept filled with hot (42 degrees Celsius) water. It is a nice way to wind down at the end of the day!

Race Day

On the morning of the race day, we got up to a few inches of snow on the ground, and more falling. All of us realized the half-marathon had just become a major adventure!

Snowy Day
Originally uploaded by klbarrus

URC members picked us up and drove us to the sports complex where the race starts and ends. Once there, we were led to a private room where we could spread out our stuff, stretch, and rest. We joked about how tough the race would be - none of us had done an event in the snow before. Heck, we were all Florida residents!! Even those of us that had lived elsewhere in the US hadn't done an event in weather like this. So we just took it easy.

Pre-Race Photo
Originally uploaded by klbarrus

The room didn't have any windows, so we couldn't see outside to tell if the weather was getting better or worse. We heard an announcement over the loudspeaker, and after a few minutes Kaki-san came in and told us the race had been canceled due to bad weather. We thought he was joking but he said he wasn't...

It actually wasn't that much of a surprise. We stepped out and saw that since our arrival, it had kept snowing and it just wasn't smart to hold the event: footing would be treacherous, volunteers would be miserable out in a snowstorm manning aid stations, etc.

Tokyo Bay Half Marathon Group
Originally uploaded by klbarrus

So our goal shifted - we put on our coats and plastic bags, and decided to do a short snow run to the Tokyo Disney subway stop (Marihama) instead, and head back to the hotel.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Imperial Palace

After the morning club run, we went to see the Imperial Palace and walk around downtown Tokyo.

Palace Grounds
Originally uploaded by klbarrus
The view from the original palace grounds, which burned down. What remains is a raised section of large stones.

Guard Building
Originally uploaded by klbarrus
This is no longer used, but it was originally a garrison where Samurai would check visitors before they entered.

Double Bridge
Originally uploaded by klbarrus

Originally uploaded by klbarrus

While wandering around near Tokyo Station, I ran into Godzilla!

Originally uploaded by klbarrus

URC Meeting

The Urayasu Runners Club isn't that big, strictly speaking, compared to other running clubs I've been in. It is just that the URC has about 80% attendance at their events - making their active membership enormous, compared to other running clubs I've been in!

In the morning, a group met us at the hotel and walked with us to the park where they hold their club run. It was packed!

We started off with 2 or 3 laps around the park, for about a 1.5 or 2 mile warmup. Then the coach led us through at least 20 minutes of stretching. After that, we ran their training route (about 5K) to another park, where the cooldown workout was a relay event - teams taking turns running back and forth across a field. Then we walked back to the first park, for cooldown stretching and a group massage (so to speak) - everybody lined up in a big circle and we took turns pounding on each other's shoulders. It was pretty fun and felt good!

Club Photo
Originally uploaded by klbarrus

Thursday, January 31, 2008


The flight from Orlando to Detroit, and then to Narita, was uneventful... but very long. After landing in Japan, we were met by a few URC (Urayasu running club) members plus two men who worked for the city as event planners. We loaded up our bags and drove right to meet the mayor, Mr. Matsuzaki, at city hall.

Welcome to Japan!
Originally uploaded by klbarrus

We had some tea and listened to an address from the mayor, welcoming us and giving us a brief history of Urayasu. The city was originally a fishing village, and over the past few decades, grew by landfill (reclaimed land from the sea). As a result, most of the city is quite new. The major attraction is Tokyo Disneyland, which I suspect has a large amount to do with the Sister City agreement between Orlando and Urayasu!

Meeting the Mayor
Originally uploaded by klbarrus

We were presented with the blue URC jackets, which would come in handy over the next few days. It was winter and cold in Tokyo!

Sister City Agreement
Originally uploaded by klbarrus

On display at the visitors center.

Following this, we checked into our hotel, the Emion Tokyo Bay. An hour after that, another group from the URC came to meet us in the lobby to discuss the itinerary they had planned out for us: sightseeing around the Tokyo area for Stacey, Eric, and me; Tokyo Disney for Tom and Michele. It was surprising how much work the URC had put into making sure our visit was filled with activities.

Then we were off to dinner, at an Italian restaurant, where we had a mix of Japanese appetizers and side dishes, with baked chicken and tomatoes for the main dish. And lots of beer.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Disney Marathon Volunteer

I signed up to volunteer at the Disney Marathon, with my running club. We have the mile 24 water stop, the last one on the course. That is good since we can get there relatively later (6:30 am), but bad in that we are there until the last runner/walker passes us.

Disney gives very nice perks for volunteering: a pretty nice windbreaker, a snack breakfast and lunch, and a free ticket to any theme park, good for one year. As a result, the volunteer spots disappear quickly.

I got there about 6:15 am, found the volunteer sign-in tent, and got onto the "mile 24 bus", which pulled out around 7:00 am to drop us off at our aid station. Of course, the aid station didn't really exist, we had to build it up from the tables and four giant palettes of water that were sitting in the parking lot. Thus, the first task was to carry 15+ tables and line them up next to the sidewalk. This was followed by lugging an enormous amount of water around - each box held 12 one liter bottles of water (e.g. 12 kg each) and we had to carry them over to the tables. I lost count of how many boxes I carried, probably 10 or 12 or maybe more.

I found myself on Powerade mixing duty, along with 2 or 3 others. We had four large coolers (50 gallons each I think) and started opening the bags of Powerade and pouring in water. This was tough, after opening about 100 bottles of water I wished we had a water truck with a hose instead! Anyway, after setting up and preparing for an hour or more, we had nothing to do except wait for the lead runners to show up. The eventual winner, Adriano Bastos from Brazil, passed by a few minutes after 8 am, around 2 hours after the race began. He went on to finish at 2:20:56 (!!).

Ten more minutes went by until the next runner passed us, so Bastos had clearly secured his victory. A few more runners arrived, and by 9 am, 3 hours into the race, there was a steady crowd. The steady crowd turned into a massive onslaught by 10 am - we were mixing a 50 gallon drum of Powerade about as fast as another was consumed. We juggled at our station, having one or two coolers available while we mixed a third and sometimes fourth. For a while everybody shifted to pouring duty: lining up cups to be partially filled. But eventually the demand for more sports drink required three or four of us the return to mixing duty.

Around noon, or 6 hours into the event, it slowed down and by 1 pm, just a handful were still on the course.

My friend Amy took water dispensing duty instead: holding out cups for the masses of thirsty participants. She payed attention to how various groups looked, and decided that the runners that appeared to enjoy the event the most were the 3:20 to 3:50 crowd. Faster than that and the event was very demanding. Slower than that and the people looked more beat and stretched to their personal limit. We theorized the 3:20 to 3:50 pace was reachable by experienced runners doing steady workouts, and race-day execution of that pace was less demanding relative to ability. It still sounds pretty fast to me!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Urayasu, Japan

The city bought our tickets - I'll be visiting Japan from Jan 30 to Feb 10, as part of the Orlando Runners Club (ORC) exchange program with the Urayasu Runners Club (URC). My fellow ORC runners are returning on Feb 5, but I squeezed another 3 days of vacation to extend my trip until the 10th. My only real plan for the extra time is to see Kyoto and Nara for a day or two, and then return to Urayasu and visit as much as possible in the area. :)

The URC keeps their own blog detailing their work, and while I can't really read it, I can tell they are very busy with preperations!