Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Do you give unsolicited advice at the gym?

Tonight at the gym, a guy got on the treadmill next to the one I was using. He didn't look like your stereotypical runner (i.e., he was a bit overweight, though definitely not obese), but he set off at a decent 10 min/mi pace. I'm not immune to the perception that runners are mostly thin, so this was a good lesson to check my biases, I thought.

After half a lap, though, the guy reached out to support himself on the side rails for about five seconds. Twenty to thirty seconds later, he reached for the handles to steady himself while gasping. This went on for the rest of his run, which lasted one mile. The crazy thing is he even upped the speed on the treadmill by a tick!

I was tempted to suggest that he slow down, as he seemed to be running faster than he could handle, but (1) I was doing a threshold run and hence couldn't really carry on a long conversation; and (2) I don't give unsolicited advice to other people.

Anyway, he took a break, got off the treadmill (but kept his jacket on it to reserve it), drank water, rested, and then got back on. Once again, he ran at a 10 min/mi pace, and once again, after half a lap, he was doing that grabbing support/gasping bit. This time, he made it only 3/4 of a mile before stopping.

It was kind of painful to notice, not to mention somewhat distracting, so I might have overcome my natural reluctance to say anything, but he finished and left before I was done, so I was spared having to make a decision. But I wonder if, given the opportunity, I should have said something....?

PROS: He seemed to be struggling with his running. Slowing down would have enabled him to run more smoothly, as well as suffering less misery.

CONS: Maybe he was pushing himself on purpose (although interval training would probably be more effective than what he was doing if that were the case). And it's not like I'm actually a certified running coach.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Scientific studies and the "best exercise"

As a former math/science type, I certainly don't discount the value of empirical, scientific research. At the same time, I think it's useful to recognize the limits of such research, at least in the short run, before the usual process of science, which is to say, attempted replication/falsification of the initial study occurs enough that the results are considered not to be a fluke, and to reflect careful elimination of other possible explanations.

This is often true in the realm of exercise and health-related studies, where press releases trumpet the latest surprising finding, and which the mass media accepts uncritically for all that the study could be worth, as opposed to the least that it can be said to confirm.

For example, last week, the British paper The Telegraph reported that, per a new study, "weight training is better for your waistline than running." Note the specificity of the claim: it's not that weight training is better at producing weight loss, but at slimming the waist. Now, let's take a look at the study's press release and abstract:

Friday, December 19, 2014

The business of low-cost gyms

I'm not exactly a gym rat, but I am a cold weather wimp, so I spend a fair amount of time certain months of the year indoors on the treadmill. And while I might like to have my own treadmill at home, I'd prefer to pay the gym membership and leave it to the gym to take care of maintaining/repairing the treadmills.

And one of the things that frequent gym-goers deal with is the flood of new members at the start of every new year -- people who've made it a New Year's Resolution to get into shape. As the story goes, gyms get crowded for a couple of weeks before most of the newcomers stop showing up, leaving the place back to the regulars.

Cynics note that gyms feed off this sort of mentality. They lock people into a year-long contract, get twelve months' of revenue, but have to maintain equipment for only a fraction of those members. Here's an article about a sub-species of gyms, the low-cost (i.e., $10/month) ones, and how they supposedly manipulate people into not showing up:

Thursday, December 18, 2014


Noooo!!! Please tell me that this isn't true:
In a new interview with the UK newspaper The Telegraph24 star and executive producer Kiefer Sutherland says he has no desire to reprise the character despite reports as recent as September that executive producer Brian Grazer was looking (again) into doing a movie.
At least at the end of the article, Kiefer Sutherland admits that after season 8, he said the same thing. I can appreciate that as an actor, he might not want to be too strongly associated with one character. Maybe it's just going to take the right (i.e., really good) script to entice back for a final "rescue Jack from Russia" storyline.

Or maybe "24" could be revived with Yvonne Strahovski's character Kate Morgan....

My recap of the fall 2014 TV season

Now that the fall 2014 TV season is over, pretty much all network shows are going into repeats or hiatus until after the new year, and in some cases, until late winter/early spring. Overall, I thought it was mildly disappointing even compared to recent years, and a far cry from the golden era of the mid-2000 decade, when "24," "Prison Break," "Lost," and "Battlestar Galactica" were all on the air at the same time.

New Shows

There were a number of new shows that I was excited about: "Gotham" (Fox), "How to Get Away With Murder" (ABC), and "Scorpion" (CBS). But "Gotham" ended up being too relentlessly grim and bleak for my tastes; since we know(?) how the show will end, Detective Gordon can't win against the bad guys, and things will just get worse and worse. It certainly seemed well-done, though.

The "How to Get Away With Murder" pilot was anything but boring. Unfortunately, included in "anything" was utter ridiculousness and a complete lack of any likeable characters. It's not that I expected it to be slavishly realistic about law and law school. One of the few law-related shows I enjoyed was "Boston Legal," which was hardly realistic. The difference is that "Boston Legal" didn't even pretend to be serious, whereas "How to Get Away With Murder" seemed to want to be taken seriously.

Finally, "Scorpion" was kind of like "Mission: Impossible" with all nerds + Katharine McPhee. It came across as a show about what Hollywood thinks geniuses are like.* It was okay, though implausible; but somewhere around the eight episode or so, I realized I'd had it running on the TV and had been paying no attention to it. I deleted the season pass and haven't missed it since.

* The scene in the Vegas episode where O'Brien defends himself in the bail hearing by arguing that it would be impossible to find a jury of his "peers" - meaning 190+ IQ persons - was kind of funny, I'll admit.

Oddly, the one new show that I've liked is one I wasn't planning on watching at first, and in fact, I missed its premiere; fortunately, it re-aired the following night. That would be "The Flash" (CW). Granted, as between Marvel and DC comics, I definitely prefer the former, and that bias is probably why I was going to pass on "The Flash." But it's actually a refreshing change from most superhero shows where the main character is brooding, damaged, etc. I just wish they would wrap up the unrequited love storyline....

There are some new shows debuting in the spring, but "Marvel's Agent Carter" is the only one I'm likely to give a chance. Besides, season 5 of "Justified" should be hitting Amazon Prime in a month or so, so I've got that to look forward to for any spare TV watching time.

Returning Shows

I've stuck with "Once Upon a Time" (now in season 4), "The Blacklist" (season 2), "Marvel's Agents of SHIELD" (season 2), "Person of Interest" (season 4), "Survivor," "Scandal" (season 4), "Hawaii 5-0" (season 5), and "Grimm" (season 4).

I did watch a lot of "The Voice" as well, but my HD antenna was having trouble with the NBC feed for a while, and on top of it, I couldn't remember any of the contestants, which is not a good sign for a reality TV competition! I did like the episodes with Taylor Swift as the guest mentor, though. I'd come back to watch the show if they add her as a judge.

As for the rest, "SHIELD" seemed to continue the generally higher level of quality ever since the crossover with Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier. "Person of Interest" too has gotten really good with the heavily serialized story arc of Samaritan vs. the Machine. "Hawaii 5-0" continues to offer outstanding scenery with a mash-up of "The Odd Couple" and the mystery of the week. "Grimm" has sent Trubel off somewhere, leaving it open for a possible spin-off, I suppose. And "Once Upon a Time" remains my favorite show on air right now, although I didn't think the winter finale had anywhere near the same impact as last winter's finale did. Then again, I continue to think last winter's finale should have been the series finale.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Yeah, but does it have a full-size running track?

An artist's drawing of the Aqua Park planned for Norwegian
The Norwegian Escape (photo from USA Today)

Norwegian Cruise Lines has announced that its latest line of super cruise ships will have a giant water park with four water slides, full basketball court, and other sports-related stuff. What I want to know is if it has a regulation-size track lap for running. Maybe I'm too rigid in my expectations, but I don't really like odd length tracks where 1 mile = 9 laps or something like that.

Running on a cruise ship, by the way, is an interesting experience because of the Brownian motion. On some steps, you fall a long way down, and others almost feel like going uphill.

Not to mention, neither road running nor trail running lend themselves to the experience of seeing dolphins while you run!

Friday, December 12, 2014

A visual depiction of States I've gone running in

Create Your Own Visited States Map

I've actually visited more States than this map shows. This just shows the States that I've gone running in. Alaska is questionable, though. I was definitely within the state boundaries, but I happened to be on a cruise ship at the time.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

My 2014 race results

Excuse my shameless self-promotion here, but after all, this is my blog!


Total races: 14 (plus one untimed zombie run).

- 1 mile: one
- 5K: nine
- 10K: three
- half: one

Size of races:

- largest: 353 (halloween-themed 5K)
- smallest: 35 (fundraising 5K)

Top 10% finishes:13/14

- The one miss was #16 out of 154, so if I'd finished one spot higher, I would've nailed this category.

Age Group Finishes:

- #1 finishes: nine [3 of these were overall #1 masters finishes]
- #2 finishes: one
- #3 finishes: four

(Quite pleased that I finished first, second, or third in my age group in every race this year.)


- 10K: 44:22 (by 16 seconds)

Friday, December 5, 2014

62 miles on a treadmill . . . in a single session!

Photo courtesy of Canterbury Christ Church University.
I don't mind the treadmill the way that many runners do, but 10-11 miles is about my limit for a single run, even with TV (which I love). The guy in the picture is British Ph.D. student and ultramarathoner Phil Anthony, who ran 100K in 6:40:35 on a treadmill!

You could watch the entire original Star Wars trilogy in that time (A New Hope = 2 hours, 1 minute; The Empire Strikes Back = 2 hours, 4 minutes; Return of the Jedi = 2 hours, 12 minutes), or 9 episodes (stripped of commercials) of 24.

Of course, given that Anthony averaged just under 6:30 per mile, it would take me a lot longer to run that distance. I'm sure I'd have time to squeeze in another Star Wars movie. Then again, since that would have to come from the execrable prequel trilogy, maybe it would inspire me to run faster just to endure less Jar-Jar Binks....

Monday, November 24, 2014

"Mission: Impossible" and "Ocean's 11"


Last night, MeTV aired the pilot episode of "Mission: Impossible" - and believe it or not, I've never seen it before. Like most pilots, it had some rough edges compared to the series that followed, even in the first season. On the other hand, in the case of "Mission: Impossible," those rough edges actually worked well, in that the mission did not go off as expected, requiring instead a degree of improvisation not usually seen in later episodes.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Indications of obsessive-compulsiveness about running?

A few weeks ago, I was invited to go debate another professor at his home institution in a city that's less than an hour and a half flight away. (All expenses were covered, and there was a small honorarium.) Because it was relatively close, I was able to arrange a flight schedule that departed my home city in the late morning, arrive in the mid-afternoon, take part in the debate and then the post-debate dinner, and fly home that night.

Oh, and the destination city is one that I have not yet gone running in....

Well, that is not an opportunity to pass up! Since I was scheduled to arrive more than 90 minutes before the debate, I asked the student organizer who was handling the arrangements if it would be possible for me to sneak in a quick run. He was quite helpful and even noted that the building had a shower that I could use to clean up.

And so I ended up carrying a bigger tote bag than I otherwise would have needed for a day trip, since I had to carry a suit, formal shoes, etc. instead of just wearing that stuff on the flight.

The destination city was less temperate than the Pacific Northwest; the polar vortex was still letting its presence be known, so the outside temperature was 29 F, and there were clumps of snow still on the sidewalks. A few patches covered the entire sidewalk and were icy/slippery, demanding extra attention to footwork; other spots were dry and snow-free. And then there was the puddles of ice-water, one of which my right foot plopped right into. Saucony Kinvaras are pretty awesome shoes, but they are also very thin. Yeah, that's not good.

In the end, I managed to get in 3 miles at a good pace, showered and dressed up, debated, had a nice dinner, and made it back home at a decent hour.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

ABC's "Once Upon a Time": who will be next to die?

"Once Upon a Time" doesn't rack up a body count the way "24" does, but it certainly hasn't been shy about killing off characters, including semi-main ones. It sounds like the deaths won't stop, per this interview with the creators/producers:

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Weird foot injuries that don't affect running

I seem to have tweaked my foot during last week's bowling session, which is a big "d'oh" in that it's not even like I got injured while running. It's not a noticeable pain unless I happen to bend my right foot sharply, in which case I feel discomfort in the top of the ankle joint where the foot meets the lower leg.

The weird thing is that this hasn't affected my running at all, and in fact, since that bowling session, I've run 32 miles, including a really good tempo run (indeed, faster than tempo pace) and a hard set of 1/2 mile repetitions. Maybe I should get weird, minor injuries while bowling more frequently?

Friday, October 31, 2014


I am not a good bowler, but the one day that I really needed a strike on a particular frame, I got it. It was the day that the chain bowling alley was offering a "lucky strike" pass good for free bowling from Labor Day through Halloween. All you had to do was wait to get one of the three colored pins in the hopper to show up in the front spot and then bowl a strike. That one frame with the colored pin in the right spot was one of only two strikes that I bowled in two games that day.

Well, armed with free games, I headed over to the bowling alley in my spare (ha ha) time a few times, bowling four games in a row in an effort to improve my technique and accuracy. I've had a longtime goal of bowling 150+, but my high was around 125-130, with an average just over 100.

Today being Halloween, and with my dad and brother visiting, and the kids having the day off from school, we headed out on the last day of my lucky strike card. I took one lane with four games, and the four of them took the lane next to me with two games each. My first game was lame, 87. Second one was not bad, 125. Third was okay, 111, though disappointing because I had 70 through the first five frames before falling apart.

The fourth game started off pretty badly, as you can see, with 19 through the first three frames (i.e., sub-100 pace). But wow, those last 7 frames! I've never had anything close to a streak like that. I think I've had two strikes in a row before, but not 7 strikes or spares in a row. That is a cool 140 points over 7 frames, which over 10 frames would be an unthinkable (for me) 200!

Over on the next lane, my family members were only about halfway through their second game, so I had time to bowl one or two more games, if I wanted to go back to the front desk, but I figured I'd had enough, and it was better to end on a PR than to sink back to my usual mediocrity.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Embracing my inner "teenage girlness"

I once posted on Facebook that when people ask if I like country music, I respond I like Taylor Swift's songs, and that people find that a non-responsive answer. (Admittedly, the more she's moved toward pop rock, the more I've liked her albums: Red > Sparks Fly > Fearless. I've got high hopes for 1989.)

One of my Facebook friends commented, "When did you turn into a teenaged girl?"

Ha ha ha ha! Fortunately, I am comfortable in my fortysomethingness, and I'm not embarrassed to write that I really do enjoy listening to Swift's music. However, today I'm ready to embrace my inner teenage girlness fully.

I went for a threshold run this morning, and for entertainment, I was prepared to watch the end of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, which I had leftover from yesterday's long run. For some reason, though, my Kindle Fire wouldn't stream in the gym even though it appeared to have connected to the wi-fi. I could have listened to an audiobook on my phone (I'm about 2/3 of the way through Peter F. Hamilton's space opera Judas Unchained) but on a whim I decided to shuffle through the selected songs I loaded on my phone from Red. That turned out not to be quite enough, so I moved to Sparks Fly from there.

Anyway, the resulting threshold run rocked in more ways than one! I had intended on a 2-3-2/2.5 split, meaning 2 easy miles* to start, and then 3 miles at threshold pace, and then 2-2.5 miles back at an easy pace. I ended up feeling so strong that I increased my threshold pace from 7:13 to 7:08 and then to 7:03, and finished 5 miles instead of 3. My 10K PR is around a 7:12 pace, so the last three miles of this run were slightly faster, and yet I didn't feel like I was pressing; I'd categorize the effort level as a 3 on a 1-5 scale.
* My easy miles are around an 8:30 pace.
There is some research to the effect that for non-elite runners, music can boost running performance. I don't usually listen to music when I run, as it's mostly TV on the treadmill, or an audiobook if I'm outside (and I live in a hilly area, so it's hard to track "fast" performance outside), but Taylor Swift really seems to get me to run fast without feeling like it's too hard.

Hmm, guess I need to head out to Target to pick up the deluxe edition of 1989. . . .

Monday, October 27, 2014

Am I cheating on running ... ?

Thanks to one of those unexpected coincidences, I recently came across a used Concept2 Model D indoor ergometer (rowing machine) for sale on Craig's List. If you know anything about Concept2 rowers, they are very hard to find used, because they tend to get snatched up quickly. They are durable, reliable, and awesome!

Rowing is my preferred cross-training exercise. I can swim enough so that I won't drown in a pool, but I don't particularly like it (even though I recognize it's a great no-impact workout). I have my bike set up on a trainer so that I can ride in the garage, but cycling is just okay for me. As I'm optimized as a runner, I don't seem to have the leg strength to drive the bike hard enough to get a good cardio workout. Of course, as a rower, I'm mediocre; the times that dedicated rowers post on Fitocracy are well beyond me. But I like that the cross-training is no-impact and an all-around body workout.

So when I saw the used Concept2, I pounced on it. Some Fitocracy members gave me advice about what to check out in a used rower, and this one tested as close to new. I was so excited that when I paid for it, I actually waved it toward me and said, "Come to Daddy...."

Why do I want a rowing machine of my own when the gym has one? Well, the gym isn't open as late as I would like, and its weekend hours are even stingier. Plus, there are occasions when I can't leave the house (the very rare snow-in; more frequently, Mr. Mom duties) and would like to get in a good workout.

Still, I wouldn't have felt anywhere near as excited about a used treadmill, for which I feel like I'm maybe "cheating" on running.

Yeah, I know it's a silly analogy. But there are very real reasons I much prefer to have my own rowing machine than my own treadmill. I'd use a treadmill a lot more than I plan to use this rower, which means I'd need to do more frequent maintenance of the treadmill. I'd much rather leave the treadmill maintenance to the gym, and deal with the (lower) maintenance requirements of the rower.

In addition, unless I'm stuck at home, or the outside weather is too foul, I can run on the roads or at the track. If I had a treadmill, I could run at home anytime I wanted to, but my cross-training options would be more limited.

The question now is, do I look for a cheaper gym membership just for access to treadmills?

Friday, October 24, 2014

Thank you, rain!

Being able to tolerate the rain is definitely a useful life-skill for living in the Pacific Northwest. It's not that we get so much rain in absolute terms; most major East Coast cities get more inches of precipitation per year. It's the eight months of gray misty drizzle that you have to get used to.

Tolerating the rain is one thing. Being thankful for it is altogether different.

And yet, here I am, thankful for the rain.

Fall Saturdays are quite busy in my household, with lots of soccer games for my kids. Saturday races are therefore anything but guaranteed for me, which is too bad, seeing as how fall is the prime running season. There's a Halloween-themed race that I've run every year since it began three years ago, but it looked like this year I wasn't going to be able to make it because of my kids' soccer conflicts. Boo! The race organizers very generously told me if I couldn't make it, I could run the 5K virtually, and they'd get me the race bib and medal later (most likely at the next event). Of course, it wouldn't be quite the same because race day atmosphere is so important.

And then it turned out that the recent downpouring of rain we'd gotten here had left all of the local park fields waterlogged, so the parks and rec department cancelled all soccer games this weekend.

As the dad to soccer-playing kids, I must expressed sadness at this turn of events.

As a race-loving runner, all I can say is, "Woo hoo, thank you, rainfall!!!"

Monday, October 20, 2014

ABC's "Once Upon a Time": don't mess with Mr. Gold! (recap of "The Apprentice," OAD 10/19/14)

Last night was the fourth episode of this season's "Once Upon a Time." Titled "The Apprentice," it continued the Frozen arc but introduced a new element drawn from "the sorcerer's apprentice" part of Fantasia. There was a walking broom complete with arms, and even a mouse!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Running can be a jealous mistress

Yesterday morning, I did a hard speed session: a warm up mile, then six 1/2 mile repetitions at a 6:00 pace with 1/4 mile recovery intervals at a 12:00 pace. After a short break, I ran an easy 1/2 mile and then cranked out a sub-6:00 mile (5:57 to be exact). That was a good start to a day. My plan from then on was to go for a short (~3 mile) recovery run in the late afternoon before taking my younger son to his soccer practice.

At 4:30 p.m., I left my office, ready to go for a second run of the day. However, I stopped to chat with a colleague. Damn interesting colleagues! Half an hour passed by, and there went my window for a recovery run. To make things worse, in the parking lot, I ended up chatting with another colleague for a bit. I ended up being late to taking my son to soccer!

Nevertheless, it was a good reminder that while running is important, it's not supposed to be life-consuming. I would've liked to have gotten the extra 3 miles in for the day, but it's not like I hadn't accomplished anything on the training front, as the speed session - 7 miles total - was a hard, quality workout. The 3 miles would've been mostly to relax.

Tim Noakes in The Lore of Running said something to the effect of making sure that you don't neglect friends and family for running. Good advice to keep in mind.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

ABC's "How to Get Away With Murder": ridiculousness outweighs entertainment

I was very eager to watch the premiere of ABC's new law school/legal drama "How to Get Away With Murder," although I waited until after two episodes had aired before getting around to it. It's from the producers of "Scandal," which has managed to walk the fine line between ridiculousness and entertainment, so that was a point in its favor. In addition, I had once proposed to a law school colleague that we should create a pitch for a TV show that would be like "Beverly Hills 90210" set in law school; I figured this would be similar.
Unfortunately, while I found the pilot episode somewhat entertaining, it was so utterly ridiculous in its depiction of law school and law practice, and so lacking in any likeable characters, that I woke up the next morning and decided to delete the second episode and cancel my TiVo season pass. Here's why:

Monday, October 6, 2014

ABC's "Once Upon a Time": thoughts on "White Out" (OAD 10/5/14)

The season 4 premiere episode of "Once Upon a Time" set Elsa (from Frozen) as the seeming antagonist for the current arc, with her determined to find younger sister Anna in Storybrooke. How did the storyline advance in episode 2?

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Race regrets

I ran a very hilly 10K race this past weekend and finished fourth overall (first among Masters runners) out of 86, which doesn't sound too bad. Because this was a hand-timed race, not a chip-timed one, I didn't know how close I was to the top when I left. In fact, I missed the awards ceremony, which is a shame because I was the #3 male.

Anyway, when I finally saw the results posted on-line a day later, I learned not only that I was #4, but that I was just 79 seconds behind the winner. 79 seconds in a 10K isn't particularly close (about 13 seconds per mile), but it's not that far off either.

This was a race where I led for the first mile or so before giving up the lead. However, I was generally better going uphill than my peers (though worse going downhill), so I had some advantage on the hilly course.

The biggest mental obstacle, though, was that I lollygagged miles 5 and 6. Because it was such a hilly course, a 10K PR was not even remotely plausible. (I had run this area in a race once before and noticed that everyone seemed to be about 30 seconds/mile slower than normal.) With no PR in sight, I just didn't feel like subjecting myself to more discomfort, particularly when I seemed to be able to keep my relative position in the race at the end.

And yet . . . take a look at my mile splits:


1 mi
2 mi
3 mi
4 mi
5 mi
6 mi

Egad! Cutting 79 seconds off a 10K normally wouldn't be that easy to do, because presumably you're running at your max pace, and 13 seconds/mile is far from trivial. But miles 5 and 6 jump out. Sure, mile 5 was pretty steep, but I'm sure 20-30 seconds could've come off there. And mile 6 . . . argh.

I enjoyed this race, but now I have regrets about not pushing myself more, and taking it easy just because no PR was in reach.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

ABC's "Once Upon a Time": season 4 has started!

My favorite current TV show, ABC's "Once Upon a Time," has returned, and even though I've got "Scandal" and "How to Get Away With Murder" waiting on my TiVo, I couldn't wait on this one.


Friday, September 26, 2014

That NYT article about Shonda Rhimes

The New York Times stumbled badly with an article about TV producer Shonda Rhimes that described her at one point as an "angry black woman."

BuzzFeed has a long column that explains why the Times' TV criticism is "so bad." The "too long, didn't read" version is that, like everything else about the Times, a combination of arrogance and elitism results in imposing its own worldview on everything, which in this case ended up with a reporter with no background or apparent interest in TV as the chief TV critic.

Rhimes, of course, is notable for having created/produced "Grey's Anatomy," "Private Practice," and "Scandal," and is one of the producers of "How to Get Away With Murder," which happened to be one of the subjects of the "angry black woman" article. All but "Private Practice" are still airing today on ABC (with "How to Get Away With Murder" having premiered last night).

I never watched "Grey's Anatomy" or "Private Practice" (medical soap operas just aren't in my preferred topic of TV shows), but I have seen every episode of "Scandal" through the first two seasons, and the premiere of "How to Get Away With Murder" is sitting on my TiVo. And I would say that "Scandal," at least, does not show anything remotely resembling an "angry black woman" - to the extent I even understand what that means. How exactly is an angry black woman different from an angry white or Asian or Latin woman? (Was Meredith Brooks' 1990s hit single "Bitch" about an angry woman?)

"Scandal" does star an African-American actress, Kerry Washington, as political fixer Olivia Pope. And Pope certainly does have a take-charge persona (except in the interminable scenes with the President), but I wouldn't describe her as "angry." She's not Ms. Spock, of course; she does get angry at times, but that is in reaction to events or circumstances. She is not existentially angry. So it is hard for me to see the Times article as anything but a lazy attempt to construct a narrative - "hey, this African-American woman has her hand in three shows all on Thursday night on ABC, how'd that happen? I know, she's parlayed the 'angry black woman' persona into something marketable!" It seems like the column says much more about the reporter and the Times than it does about Rhimes, or TV.

Weights and cardio

Although I consider myself first and foremost a runner as far as physical activity goes, I don't neglect resistance training. To be sure, I don't obsess about it the way I do about running, and I don't read the weightlifting equivalent of Running Times Magazine or the book equivalent of the Daniels Running Formula. But I do go through a routine of shoulder and bench presses, and upright and one-armed rows, 2-3 times a week with a set of dumbbells at home. And squats and deadlifts when I remember.

The question of how to integrate weightlifting into a running routine is one that I've wondered about, though without much fretting. Apparently, though, it's a common question - does weightlifting inhibit running and vice versa? For the non-elite trainer, it doesn't seem to matter what order you do them, and they don't seem to interfere with each other (except, I suppose, to the extent that being exhausted by one makes it harder to train fully on the other):

“We saw no indications of interference,” said Stuart Phillips, a professor of kinesiology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, who oversaw the study.
Perhaps most telling, the order of the exercises in these studies was immaterial. In the 2014 study, the men rode and then lifted; in Dr. Phillips’s study, they lifted and then rode. Muscles, it seems, “can’t tell the difference,” Dr. Phillips said.
Okay, then, that's good to know.