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