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Monday, July 14, 2008

Life In The Full Lane

How much can you squeeze into 32 hours? This past weekend was a record for me on several fronts and I am normally a very busy guy who likes to keep his hands and feet moving.

It all began at 10:00 a.m. Saturday morning with my 40 year high school reunion. This party was a winner from the get go when those organizing decided to make it a casual picnic at Vasona. It had been nearly twenty years since any formal gathering of the Wildcats of 1968 so the timing for this event was ripe.

I had the pleasure of providing a sound system and music because that's just what I do. I made five playlists in iTunes and then burned them to CD. There was one disc each for 1964 to 1968 when music was great. Motown, Beatles and all those other artists that made music to which you cannot help but sing along. And singing we did with no inherent pressure to dance or even a floor to do it on. Although many could not sit still so they just danced in the grass because this music is still so infectious.

The internet has made connecting with former classmates so much easier. We had a great turnout of about 75 classmates and a few spouses. Although everyone looked good the little name tags with your yearbook photo were included to help jump start your memory. A lot can change in forty years. Of course, I look exactly the same as you can see from my yearbook picture and this photo taken at the reunion below.
Los Gatos High School colors have always been like Halloween, Orange and Black. The only orange and black outfit in my wardrobe are these wild parachute pants and they certainly harvested many comments as well as made me the brunt of several jokes. But it was all worth it in the spirit of the Cats of '68. Posing with me here is Dennis Barrier who was huge in making our 40th happen.

One more sidebar on the reunion was a little girl named Heidi. She is pictured here below with my daughter, Claire. When Heidi arrived she was hoping there would be more children to play with at the park. I made the mistake of telling her that Claire would arrive soon. She took that promise as "any minute" and anticipated Claire's arrival for over an hour. Their eventual connection was a blessing for both of them as they were just about the only two kids at the party. Heidi's story is bittersweet as she was at our reunion with her grandmother, Jeannie Krusee (Nilson) from my class because Jeannie's daughter lost her battle with cancer only one year after Heidi was born. Heidi is now just four years old and will be raised by her relatives. This story will be underscored by my experience on Sunday.

Although the reunion continued well past the scheduled ending time I had to run off to San Francisco for a wedding reception at the incredible Asian Art Museum. You really have to see this place to believe how inspiring architecture can be. I was lucky enough to make this my third wedding in just two months with Jubilee Lau. And what more perfect setting for the wedding celebration of two Ivy League architectural grads, Leonard and Emily Ng, than the AAM. And as if the Samsung Ballroom wasn't stunning enough, they brought in the floral magnificence of Kathleen Deery. Any photograph with my little point and shoot camera simply would not do this setting justice. As they say "you really had to be there" to experience the beauty of this event.

We danced well into Saturday night but then I again had to run off to the third and final leg of my weekend marathon, the Livestrong Challenge very early Sunday morning. For the first time ever this incredible event came to Northern California. Lance Armstrong's celebrity factor is huge but he only uses it to leverage the altruistic mission of his Livestrong Foundation. Just like his autobiography called "It's Not About The Bike" this event is not about Lance. It is about making cancer a national priority. It is about raising money and awareness. It is about saving lives and improving lives of those affected by cancer.

When I first heard about this event we immediately formed a team at my gym, World Gym. I dubbed our team, Headstrong, for the play on words and credo of our team captain, Michele Meliski. Michele's philosophy is that your mental strength ultimately dictates your physical strength. Will power can keep you going long after you "think" your body has shut down.

Four from our team chose the do the entire 100 mile bike ride on Sunday.
Pictured here from left to right are Michele, me, Kristy Sanden and Peter Meyer. We posed for a moment at the first rest stop in Saratoga which was heavily staffed by volunteers from another amazing cancer support group called The Wellness Community. And what a nice surprise to see my lifelong friends, Patty and Steve Tedesco working the rest stop with many others from TWC supporting the Livestrong Challenge. You gotta love the synergy of multiple cancer support groups cross supporting each other.

And then I got the thrill of a lifetime as the first wave of riders came up behind us. We had jumped the gun before the official start at 7:30. After all, it is not a race so we just began our journey a bit early. Leading this huge group of riders was Lance Armstrong so I got to ride about six miles from Saratoga to Los Gatos with the man himself. Only when we hit the climb on Shannon Road did the real cyclists leave us amateurs behind. I can't remember the last time I was so happy to get left in the dust.

The headline in Monday's paper read "Cancer Only loser in Livestrong race" and that summed up Sunday perfectly. The people I met and stories I heard about cancer victims, sufferers and survivors were simply incredible. Cycling jerseys were covered with placards in honor, in support and in memory of so many. The volunteers and support staff made all of us riders feel like celebrities. Strangers positioned themselves along the route and cheered us for eight hours straight.

When people ask me for whom I wear a yellow Livestrong wristband I reply, "Where do you want me to start?" After Sunday I can add hundreds of names to that list from the stories I heard and now for little Heidi as well.

I was proud to finish the century on only two hours of sleep the night before. I was exhausted but fulfilled. I can safely say I had a full weekend. If you are feeling a little empty, flip on your turn signal and try taking a spin in the full lane. Get involved in organizations like Livestrong and The Wellness Community. It's certainly not all downhill but well worth the trip.

That Carl Guy.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

What rhymes with Jubilee Lau? Wow!

As if Jubilee Lau isn't already one of the coolest wedding planners going, yesterday she hosted an incredible thank you lunch for us in the Terrace at the Ritz Carlton San Francisco.

Actually, we should have been the ones taking her to lunch.

Jubilee really understands the value of team player vendors and especially the added challenge of what is called the "day of" group or those companies which do much of their work on location during the event itself. After working several successful weddings this year with many of the same professionals it occurred to Jubilee that maybe a luncheon would be a nice way to get together socially and say thanks.

Lunch was amazing and included just about the best French Onion Soup I've ever tasted but we really had the most fun with the array of desserts they presented. One of several sweets they rolled out was a variety of sorbets and gelatos in a sampler complete with the Jubilee Lau Events logo recreated in chocolate!

So who were among the lucky treated yesterday? Pictured here are those who were invited and could attend. From left to right are Megan Woods of Enhanced Lighting, Armando of Get Your Do Up, Carrie Topoian, Todd Rafalovich, John Woods, Jubilee, myself and Bill Kelleher of Stuart Rentals.

All in all it was a delightful luncheon and a most refreshing to spend some quality time with those we normally just see while working or networking. A couple of last parting shots are John Woods admiring Carrie's balancing act with the sorbet sampler. And finally me with my absolute favorite wedding planning person.

Thank YOU Jubilee!