Monday, December 14, 2015

Random thoughts about fall 2015 TV shows

Most of my current TV shows are entering hiatus, having aired their winter finales. I've got questions about them. [SPOILERS AHEAD for "Grimm," "Supergirl," "Marvel's Agents of SHIELD," and "Once Upon a Time."]

- On "Grimm," there is a mayoral candidate who's been on the City Council for the past 8 years, and claims his district is #1 in terms of job growth. Considering that "Grimm" is not just set in Portland but also filmed here, you would think the writers would've been able to figure out that Portland elects its city councilmembers at-large, not by district.

- I get that Supergirl is largely invulnerable because of her Kryptonian background and something about the sun's yellow radiation, but her costume is made from Terran materials. When she steps in front of an out-of-control train and uses herself to slow it down, how do her boots not get eroded to nothing by friction?

- One of the results of watching as much TV as I do is that I start recognizing potential twists because, at a meta-level, it's what would be surprising. In "Agents of SHIELD," the Hydra sleeper Grant Ward takes nerd Fitz and some Hydra redshirts to the alien planet via the black monolith portal, in an effort to grab the alien god or something. Fitz's unrequited love Simmons spent several years on the alien planet, surviving only because of the presence of stranded human astronaut Will, with whom she fell in love. Fitz finds the astronaut's underground home, tries to escape from Ward, but ends up getting himself and Will captured. Hmm, I thought, I wonder if that's really the astronaut ... or if he's the alien god? Sure enough, "Will" turned out to be just a shell, with the real human having been killed covering Simmons' previous escape. And when Fitz "killed" the body with a flaregun, we later saw a silvery substance slither out of the charred remains - all of which reminded me of the black oil from "The X-Files" and the body-stealing alien from the underrated sci-fi horror flick The Hidden.

- In the resolution to "Once Upon a Time's" "Dark Swan" arc, Emma gets freed of the darkness when Captain Hook sacrifices himself to stop the revived Dark Ones, by sucking them into the sword Excalibur, which he then begs Emma to use to kill him. She does, but only later does she learn that Rumplestiltskin charmed the sword to become a conduit, rather than a vacuum, so that all of the darkness flowed into him, reinvigorating him as an uber-Dark One. Emma forces him to help her open a portal to the Underworld so she can rescue Hook; he agrees to do so because she threatened to reveal his treachery to his love Belle. All fine and well, but in the next scene, it's not just Emma and Rumple at the river Styx. Snow White, Charming, Regina, Robin Hood, and Henry are all there! Now, first of all, why oh why would you bring Henry on a journey to the freaking underworld?!? But more importantly, how does Emma explain to the others that Rumple can open a portal to the underworld? Doesn't this mean the others also know that he's back to being the Dark One?

UPDATE (12/15): Is Kara Danvers' (aka Supergirl) catty boss Cat Grant the smartest human ever in comic book TV history? I realize that Kara puts on glasses and ties her hair back in the ponytail to "disguise" herself, so it's a good thing she doesn't give in to vanity to get contact lenses. But Cat notices some interesting coincidences, corners Kara, and asks her to take her glasses off.... Wow, someone in a comic book show actually figured out a superhero's identity by, you know, observing things!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Discretion, valor, patience, and running

I first experienced Achilles tendonitis at the very beginning of 2014, after running a double race on a Saturday morning consisting of a 1 mile run followed by a 5K about half an hour later. I spent the weekend limping because both ankles felt very sore. On Sunday evening, I discovered that massaging the Achilles tendon area increased the short-term pain but provided some relief after I stopped.

Thanks to Dr. Google, I was able to get a sense of what had happened. I stopped running for several days, relying on the stationary rower and stationary cycle. On the first run I tried when I felt like I could handle it, I was heel striking for the first 1/2 mile or so. In retrospect, I got back to running too soon, because I failed the pinch test. However, I was able to run without pain, or at most, a few moments of soreness that would fade during the run. It wasn't until May or June that I could pass the pinch test, so I guess I'd say that my running didn't aggravate the injury, but it did retard the healing process.

From the summer of 2014 to May 2015, I had a largely injury-free block. And then in May, I ran a race that I refer to as "the world's longest 10K." Due to a miscommunication caused by race staff, we were misdirected about a quarter of a mile after the start of the race, and some of us had run 1 1/2 miles or more before being told we were off-course. I ended up running 9.5 miles that day. Although I stopped running at my 10K pace early on, I felt a recurrence of the dreaded Achilles pain afterward.

The tendonitis waxed and waned over the next several months. It was never debilitating enough that I couldn't run, but there were also few mornings that were entirely free from initial stiffness and aches. During the typical run, there might be anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes of low-level achiness, and sometimes after running, the response to the pinch test would be more pain than before; other times, not.

It wasn't really getting worse, but improvement was marginal and slow. I decreased my weekly mileage slightly (well that was also in part because of some recurring family travel I had to do over the summer), going from my target of 150 miles/month to just under 130 miles/month for June-October. On October 31, I ran a double 5K race - first time as a regular 5K for speed, and then a second time through going through the optional obstacle stations. That aggravated my Achilles tendon, so November's total was just 88 miles.

As of now, my last run was a 10K race on Thanksgiving morning. Since then, I've rowed a ton on my Concept2, and my Achilles has been feeling steadily better. No morning stiffness or ache. It still feels a bit tender when I do the pinch test, so I'm exercising some more patience - better to take one more day off than necessary, than to get back to running one day too early. I don't know if I would be able to handle all this not-running if it weren't for that Concept2, though.