Sunday, February 23, 2020

Amazon Originals Recommendations

I have to blame web series for increase in my use of profanities. My kids are keeping me in line, else it would be readily gushing out of my mouth. Its as if the web series have opened the flood-gates. But seriously, online streaming platforms are behaving like this, cause they are free of censorship. They could tone it down a bit without affecting their creativity, can't they ?

Other thing, all web series creators could do - is structure episodes so we have some mental breathing room. Seriously binging on 10-20 hours is unhealthy in every way. There is just no justification.

Amazon Originals are way, way better than Netflix ones.
I don't know how their production or their influence works ? But Netflix brings down the interest level, way down. Contrast is most visible in 'Designated Survivor'. When the cable network made Season 1 & 2, it was interesting. When Netflix took over Season 3, the shift was immediately noticeable. They had setup & most of the cast from the original, and they decided to make it openly single-sided monologue delivery of political ideologies. There was just no balance. Every character & their stories were a checklist to be ticked. About other Netflix original movies & shows, they are a drag - like Umbrella Academy. Only one I liked (and because of their cast & how they delivered) is Chopsticks.

Contrast that to Amazon Originals - oh they are diverse & original, while maintaining interest throughout the show or movie. There is no midway-lag or deliberate agenda driven intentions. They know they are here for entertainment & entertain they do.

Hunters

I watch HUNTERS on Prime.
I open OPERATION PAPERCLIP on Wikipedia.
I pick a random name from thousands of key recruits - Ernst R Echert.
Boom  !🤯 He was a distinguished chemistry professor in UofM & died of old age in St Paul !
Way too close to home.

The show is Watchable, no doubt. Travis is eerie & fills with dread. Hunters team is good.  Backstories are fine. Star Al Pacino is pretty much being the old man he is. (Because I did not watch his youth age films, I doubt know enough to appreciate).

Camp scenes are extremely disturbing & filmed like a psychopathic-serial-killer snippets on Criminal Minds. Am on Ep 7 & just want to be done with it. Doesn’t feel like a waste of 10 hours, but 10 hours lost nevertheless, which could have been used better. Should not have started it. I restarted Ep 7 and things r going downhill (for the characters). Very reminiscent of Family Man. Amazon's touch I guess.

Show has unique points, and I was constantly looking for the checklist to tick. It was so, but wasn't so either. Late 70s setup, but things were moving fast, even without internet or computer searches. Parts of the episodes are dedicated to moralizing on the Operation Paperclip, arguing philosophical questions on both side of Hunters. They also managed to incorporate a modern-day health villain as biological weapon.

In Episode 9, they show a view of the discussion behind Operation Paperclip decision. And the argument ends in a very convincing fashion. It makes the presence & future of those people in USA acceptable; that maybe they managed to escape the brainwashing or allegiance to evil. Otherwise, the reveal of the Operation in earlier episode, put a veil of suspicion on those people from 1940s & even their descendants; that maybe they are the reason for spread of xenophobia/hatred in the South.

End of Wernher von Braun made me question, that if they have taken liberty with villains, what is to say they haven't taken other liberties in portrayal ? And last I read, the Holocaust museums were worried about the same.

This topic is highly disturbing. There is lot of material (movies, TV shows, books) on this history. Turning it into a big-scale revenge fantasy itself is a big risk, of it going either side.

Family Man

Now that was a clutter-breaker among Hindi Amazon Originals. Made by my fav director-duo.
The 11 minute sequence on Episode 5 was hila-dene-wala.

Jestination

I like the format of Vir Das pairing up with 2 other/local comedians, different ones in every episode. And filming it in a different city every time. The drone shots bring out the unseen beauty of familiar cities. I don't know if they extra colored the frames ? Or if they photo shopped the roads. But India looks beautiful from these eyes.

Mysore episode was the best. Loved everything about it. Even ending with the Mysore joke was perfect. Actually, for some reason I feel I might have heard it before. But the episode was laid out well to arrive at that joke.

Ladakh episode jokes were horrible. If it weren't for such a beautiful place and surrounding people and their commentary, I would have thrashed this episode completely. Indian comedian who looked like American (Mushran) was good. But the American comedian who looked like Indian was the worst. I cant believe how he is in comedy. Just peppering every sentence with a f & a s, 4 times over, doesn't make it funny.

Standup Comedians should take up the challenge of delivering a round with no f&s uttered. They have long-stretched the supposed 'FoE' to utter profanities and its impact on 'creativity-growth' bit for way too long. Now there is no creativity, only profanities.

Marvelous Mrs Maisel

Perfectly marvelous one. Watch it to know why it's so popular soon as every new season is released.
I don't like the sixties and I don't like that breathless speech-deliveries. But the parts which spill out of these cracks, which shine through, they have enough to charm - 60s music, clothes, luminous makeup, interesting main cast and large ensemble cast. Good to see Monk back on TV.
Coming to the standup comedy, that is the high point of every episode. Things ravel or unravel through the episode and then it's a joy to see how it all works into her standup routine of the day.



Thursday, January 30, 2020

Securian Winter Run 2020 - Half Marathon - Race recap

My fav Winter race Securian Winter Run - Half Marathon was on 22-Jan 2019 Sat this year.

That thing on bottom-right pic is an Ice Sculpture.

Temps were between 20F+, no sun, no wind, no snow. Supposedly great conditions, but I prefer the one from last year. There was slight alley wind in the downtown streets. But Shepherd road was perfect even with no-winds. This race has the best start location, with the spacious Securian building & skyway as warming location for practically everyone.

My run gear was not-so-perfect. With my neck gaitor & bulky gloves, I was overdressed. Rest were fine.
  1. Columbia thermal jacket + 2 tech shirts 
  2. Run cap & headband to cover ears
  3. C9 thick Neck Gaitor - This weighed my neck after an hour. Totally not needed for 20F+ race.
  4. Compression pants + wind-cheater-type outer layer pant
  5. Ski socks in my regular running shoes. My toes never got cold.
  6. Gloves. Large loose ones with hand-warmer - Totally not needed for 20F+ race

My finish time was a 3:10+ hours. I am officially the last finisher I think. They haven't published the results yet. I would blame the extra time on the last 3 miles, that I had to run on the slushy sidewalk. And in this patch I got nose-bleed, my first time for any race. I had been blowing my nose on my handkerchief all along, that must have weaken my nose in this dry winter. Organizers were about to dismantle the arch & time recorder when I reached the end. I think I will hang my boots on Winter Half Marathon. I know I said it so last year too. But, this time I am serious.

Race swag was a cool full sleeve hoodie shirt and neat mug.

If you are looking for more specific info on the facilities provided by this event, then please refer to my older posts. They have more details.

My Securian Winter Races - 2014 2015 2016 2019 | 2020 |

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

2010s - The Influential Decade

In 2008, there was a painting contest in my office for "Vision 2020". Going off-tangent I painted- My Daugther's room in 2020. I am tickled thinking of it, as we are stand at the door of 2020.

But looking backward, I find these notable things of this decade. These are remarkable, changed human lives, made real impact. They might have seemed chaotic while it happened. Nevertheless they have been the most influential.


Plastic bans - Plastic bag ban has picked up across the globe. When some of the hipster sites talked about Plastic straw & its impact, I was skeptical, having seen the wide & wasteful use of plastic cutlery, single use plates & glasses, bags & paper napkins. Only when I saw my kids & their friends refusing straws, I felt hopeful. I visited US in 2002 and my very first experience was a super-mart grocery shopping. The number of flimsy plastic bags for my few items was shocking. Being new & first timer in US, I thought it was the norm. India was still using designer jute grocery bags, which changed slowly. In the past few years, I have seen most shoppers in USA carrying shopping bags, and even reusable mesh bags for vegetables. Only a formal plastic bag ban in India around 2017, got it back to using shopping bags & mesh bags for veggies. Impact on the outdoor cleanliness is visibly noticeable.

In the fashion world, the unique thing that picked up in 2010s is the High-low fashion. Tops with short hemline in the front, but flowing long till the floor in the back. This wonky design would have been a comic abberation before, but it took off in this decade. Soon everything was high-low - dresses, tunics, kurta, what-not. Other assymtric designs are an offshoot of high-low. In 2019, they have started talking of sustainability - of repeating clothes worn on multiple occasions, of reusing clothes. That's a good trend which hopefully picks up in the next decade.

Home cooking picked up big time in US, I think in 2010s. Driven by all the cooking shows (Masterchef Australia being the baap, Tarla Dalal & Sanjeev Kapoor in India) and health consciousness. Before that, I clearly remember the pride with which everyone said "Oh I don't know to cook at all,", "I only know to boil water" or "I burn water too". USA eateries as such, have perfected the franchisees systems, packaging & preservation of cooked foods.
* Beginning with food bloggers, now there was an explosion of recipes, on every magazine sites and eventually dedicated food sites. MSM picked it up from blogger popularity and created dedicated food sections which included well produced recipes articles & videos. I am particularly fond of the short videos where everything moves in fast forward. Who needs to spend 30 minutes through a video when 5 minutes will do. All we need to know are the ingredients & sequences.
* I would credit these sites for using & propagating indigenous grains again like Ragi, Jowar, Bajra. These had been driven to the limited use, thanks to spread of wheat during 1960s Green Revolution.
* The other key thing is localization of ingredients. Previous decades gourmet cooking meant, exotic ingredients sourced from other countries. Or baking - which is a standard list of flour, eggs & butter in every single dish. Now healthier cooking meant, dishes had all kinds of veggies, poultry & seafood.
* Though home-cooking trend must be in reverse in India. Previous generation (ladies) took pride in cooking up the most complicated as well as daily fare. But in this decade, thanks to long working hours, huge variety of eatery's & take outs and available cooks, home cooking is at a low than eating outside or outside food.

Food Sustainability makes an entrance in food & cooking area as well - which means
* source locally grown & seasonal veggies & other ingredients;
* source extra food from establishments (restaurants, weddings, events) and divert it to food banks or the needy, directly & efficiently.
* retail of imperfect looking veggies & fruits, in grocery stores
* promote buyers to use reusable grocery bags & mesh-bags for produce.

For a space sci-fi enthusiast, I got Interstellar & Martian (book & movie). But the brilliant real-life excitement was the first-time Black-hole picture. Wow ! I consider this the height of photography lifecycle - considering the distance and complexity.


Self-driving cars are not just in sci-fi but became very popular in real-life. It was not some high-price prototype. Many people were actually buying & using them and making those car companies richer. Tesla being the grand-daddy of all. But I also saw hands-free driving on Volvo & such.

GPS was an arbitrary white-paper I had written in 90s. In 2010s, it progressed from a default gadget for cars/vehicles to a default app in smartphones (Apple Maps & Google Maps, Waze). Today I wouldn't go for a walk or run in unknown route without a GPS to guide my return.


Now an inconsequential thing, phone which is in our palm all the time, was not the case in the beginning of the decade. IPhone driven smartphone device improvements and resulting apps being created for those devices, is responsible for people with there noses in the left hand (holding the phone). And subsequent entry of phone in multiple (rather all) areas of life. It has influenced people in loads of ways.

Kodak stopped the film roll production in the beginning of the decade, because Digital cameras had taken over the world. But once the smartphone camera spread, it was literal picture explosion. There were more pictures taken every minute than in previous decades put together. Everything has been clicked. If storage is a concern, then lot of cloud solutions are in place. My concern is how would humans manage these pictures ? - coming from my challenges managing personal family photo collections. My personal choice will be to go back to Digital cameras.

Smartphones in hand has also meant a death of home phones. Home phones had a graph of being the most wait-listed item, rotatory dial, punch numbers, see-through case, cordless and VoIP phones. Now they are getting discontinued not soon enough. Since nearly all members of the house have a cellphone, home phones are just an unnecessary expense.

In the previous decade, Streaming or digital platform for movies & shows were there with Smart TVs and laptops. But the viewership boomed in 2010 with smartphone. No person or schedule or conversation is devoid of streaming. Same goes for gaming industry.

Along with smartphone spread social media usage - almost like wildfire.
* This was the golden age for conspiracy theorists. Everyone wants to voice their opinion. A written down opinion has more impact & is forever than a verbal statement.
* Social media opened mouths but divided souls. Biggest example is the divisive & polarizing opinions about Politics & everything else. Most highlighted during 2016 USA elections and 2014 India elections.
* Mental health & hand wrists of all have been impacted at varying degree. FOMO, depression, time-wastage are well-known side-effects.
* It gave birth to a whole new job profiles (Youtubers, Influencers).
* On a positive note, it is generating work for a set of artists, in different area, everywhere. Every kind of artist had a platform to showcase their work.
* Creativity has gone bonkers with click-baity headlines, because clicks translate to revenue.
* Hashtags # might seem like a trivial thing, but they have brought attention to issues and mobilized crowd supports in times of need (like floods, other natural disasters).
* Memes are new way to communicate and to document our times.
* While education is great, falling into a Wiki rabbit-hole, is just a time-waste. All the info may not be useful at all.


While Artificial Intelligence (AI) was an imaginative sci-fi concept in the entire 20th century, it came alive this decade. It reached common parlance thanks to Facebook, but turns out all of technology industry has been developing it all along. In social talks, news op-eds & dystopian TV shows, it is being talked negatively. I am just glad, none of the dystopian AI Robots nightmare have come true yet :) It's only negativity is access to personal behavior of all and that knowledge being used by corporations, to market or advertise their products to a precise target audience.

Internet boom became a way of life in this digital decade. Its actual reach to most of humanity and its wide variety of use in every single aspect of life happened this decade. So much so, its impossible to imagine life without internet (of all kinds 3-5G or Wifi). This decades generation doesn't know a life without internet. Even if we give up social aspect of internet, there is also e-governance and nobody can stay cut-off from government. It would be like giving up electricity.

For a peripheral cricket watcher, I was pushed even further outside. IPL completely took over along with other non-stop touring. Which meant there are way too many matches to keep track and too many players to know.

I remember as a child, there would be lot of PSA looking for volunteers to record books on tapes for blind schools. Now Audio Books are mainstream. Its for the busy professionals who are on the road and have less time to be tied down to a physical book yet want to dredge through them all for knowledge. There are numerous commercial apps to play them and free ones from library. I feel Podcasts & music boom must have been the catalysts for audible books. I truly hope the benefits reach the blind folks too.

A chunk of movies this decade were Sequels & Franchise movies. Hindi Film Music was progressively marked by Recreations. Jhankar Beats & Remixes gave way to Recreations.
Both of these were driven by collective 90s nostalgia, which peaked in this decade. Speaking of 90s, the music cassette has vanished. It was downhill last decade, thanks to DVDs. But this decade its truly gone, due to music streaming & all. All that remains, is it as pop art motif.



This decade was truly the future that was predicted throughout all sci-fi literature in the past centuries. As we stand on the edge, at the start of new decade, I can't decide what new to expect. Vision 2050 could be a good brain exercise to pursue.

Wish you all a very Happy & Prosperous New Year !

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Running Report for 2019

Running:

Personally it was a chequered year and hence I did not track my miles.
I ran outside a lot, so my Garmin has those miles. I also ran on treadmill in the colder months, just did not track them.

Races:


I signed up for the races I liked and did not take pressure to signup more. Instead spent more weekends running long outside.
As such I could not beat 3 hour for any Half this year, but each race was a joy.

Temp
Name
Date
Distance
Time
10F, no sun, no wind, slight snow
26-Jan-19
10Mile
3:04
Pleasant
Music in Plymouth 5K Fun Run/Walk
29-May-19
5K
36 min
35F Cloudy No-Windy
11-May-19
Half-Mara
3:03:08
78+ F
3-Aug-19
Half-Mara
3:15:33

As I end this year, I don't have any specific goals for 2020.

Wish you all a very Happy & Prosperous New Year !

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Books of 2019

Continuing my book reading this year, in an effort to stay away from or getting sucked into phone. When I sat down to make this list, it did not seem like a lot of books. It's so tough as an adult to finish reading books. I must have let go of them mid-way like Aru Shah, which my kid is very excited about. And some comfort books like Famous Fives.

Meanwhile here are some interesting ones which were a first time read.

The Milk Lady of Bangalore by Shoba Narayan

LiveMint is a great magazine which I read a lot after the end of Google reader and before Facebook. It had some great movie reviews and many columnists, one of which is Shoba Narayan. She had an interesting column of her adventures with her cow-lady-buddy & her cows. For some reason I remembered it and wanted to know where it went. Some google-sleuthing showed up this book & was found a copy too.
Equally exciting, even though this was structure in book form, with chapters addressing different topics surrounding cows. But the common thread of Shoba & Sarala and their hunt to buy a cow.

For accompanied reading, here look at cute cow pics: https://www.boredpanda.com/cute-cows-are-dogs/

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith 



Got hold of a delightful book. Now after a long time, I have a series to go through.
Set completely in Botswana and populated by the local population led by a local heroine, its fun to read through each of the incidents in the book.
Author portrays a sweet picture of a laid-back Africa, of the diversity within the continent's different countries. Of how the misrepresentation of Africa pricks their people.
The detection cases keep use curious and only the long-running case keeps the feeling of dread alive.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette: A Novel: Maria Semple



This book popped up in some recommendation list and I read it even when I knew nothing about it or the author. Actually before this book I was reading "The Woman in the Window" by A J Finn, which was oh sooo boring, which would not finish even when I skipped pages. Ah. This book was also in the same recom list, so you can imagine my trepedition.

But Bernadette was structured well. The story plot unfolded interestingly every chapter. The heroine herself was very intriguing and narrator did it well. Overwell very well laid out thriller.

Then one fine day, the movie poster popped up in my feed. I was shocked as I had no clue that movie is being made. Was actually glad it was made. Movie had good performances by all including the kid. The movie stayed true to the book except changing 2 major plot points (disappointed) & omitting one major plot (glad coz it felt unnecessary even in the book).

Gulp by Mary Roach

By my new favorite non-fiction science writer. I read 'Packing for Mars' last year and followed up with Gulp. Again a trusted copy for entertainment with bedazzlement.

I was almost on Chapter 11 & beginning to feel disappointed that if there was no chapter on gas or wind, it will be a downer. But instead I was rewarded with 2 chapters.
Her specific footnotes on peoples names & finding connections, are the funniest. Like using Brown for a running joke (wow its a pun here too).
The book finally ends on a chapter on how everything explained is actually to make lives better.
I wish publishers would invest more so writers could induce humor in textbooks. Reading would be most enjoyable.

I started Grunt and for some external reason could not finish. That would be in my next-to-read list.

Crazy Rich Asian
China Rich Girlfriend
Rich People Problems
- by Kevin Kwan

 

But the most delicious read of the year would have been this trilogy. I can't wait to find something similar to this or the author writing another episode of this series.
In the trilogy, CRA is a gem. CRG is a bit of a drudgery. And then again RPP is interesting & perfect end to the series. There is a lot to learn from this series. Its not just to make the reader feel inadequate, but also offers a view on how to become affluent. Ofcourse its not easy or straightforward.

Have been hearing of #40in2020 resolve. But that would amount to 3.3 books a month. Maybe #20in2020 that will help up my reading in 2020.

Older Reading lists: 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 |

Sunday, December 1, 2019

2019 Movies Roundup

Some theater movies, but largely streaming movies this year.
Its going to get crazy soon, what with so many streaming services. There is only so much anyone with life can watch. And pay for multiple of them ! Uff what a dilemma.


KANNADA 

I am bugged by the new age cinema makers thinking that film ending with death is the only way to go. Everything is good, unique, engaging in the movies, till the very end where they include a twist (usually unanswered death) and leave the audience (or only me) with a sword in the heart or a bitter taste in the mouth. Ex: Gantumoote, Kahi. Makes me regret spending my past 2-3 hours glued to the screen. That is not realist or brilliant cinema. If that's the definition, then somebody please reeducate. If that is kind what you want to make, then look & learn from Tithi & Kirik Party.

Kavaludaari - was notable. It had an interesting start and needed patience to finish the second. That patience was rewarded with a satisfying ending to the villain and a give-a-way of connections of sort.

MALAYALAM

Soubin Shahir & Fahad Fasil turn out to be the flavor of 2019 Malayali movies.
There is one thing to be said about Malayalam movies. You cant except or predict how it will turn out. If you linger the first half, you might easily to brush them away as art movies or going nowhere. But noooo, you have to stay on & then you would be rewarded. 

Bangalore Days - Its rightly called the entry movie for Malayalam movie. Though this is not my first M movie, I enjoyed it as an overall experience. It's same genre as DCH with 3 cousins being the protagonists. But it weaved each one's story with many others and made it a worthwhile watching experience. Multiple cities and multiple languages - Kannada, Tamil, Hindi.

Njan Prakashan - The film has disparate sub-sections with only connections being the hero. That kind of switch is not something we are familiar with in Hindi or English movies. There it would feel like under-budget improperly planned movie. But it was tied well, thanks to the charisma of Fahad Fasil.

Ambili - fairly simple road-movie and good on visuals. First half features a green-Kerala and next half is road trip to Kashmir, with adventures along the way.

Sudani from Nigeria - Introduction to the world of local football in Kerala where players are from Africa. Film-maker had given unique stories to each of the lead characters & the sidekick gangs.

Kumbalangi nights - Very leisurely pacing for a movie that deals with viciously painful family dynamics. Everything was going well till the pyscho-horror turnaround in the climax. I had to forward that part.

BENGALI

No new store of Bengali movies on Amazon Prime as they are on HotStar or HoiKoi &  I haven't subscribed to them.

Shonar Pahar - pretty decent movie where the actors are the key reason to watch - Tanuja, the boy, Parambrata & Jishu. Every interaction is interesting.

Kadambari - Kongana & Parambratta are familiar faces. Great window into a large joint family of olden times. How it's like entering a corporate setup, with its cliques and forming your own place. Showed how the affluent with multiple real-estate lived. And how a familiar figure of India Independence movement had a private family life.

TELUGU

Dear Comrade - Watched it for dear ole Vijay Devarakonda. Rashmika was a surprise realist looking. I didn't know she was so much shorter & real beauty looking. Its amazing if the filmmakers gaze changes, so many taken-for-granted things look different. Her cricket scenes were good. Vijay D angry fight sequences mattered & were absorbing.

Gang Leader - Very interesting premise, not something found usually. Being suspenseful & about bank robbery, it keeps us engaged while it unfolds. Some bits in the end would be considered illogical or illegal, but it can be discounted.


HINDI

Bharat - We went to theater as a family outing for Bharat & later watched repeat on Prime. The grand scale of story kept everyone engaged. Lovely songs. Great ensemble cast & child actors. Wish there was more of Chiang and was not edited out. Poigant moments - Md Ali constantly saying Mere ladke udhar hai; and no one caring cause hurry to move out.  Impulsive halting unsure speeches and esp the one ending with National Anthem Jana Gana Mana.

Zero - Fantastic movie. Every single act or sequence of events, every character decisions were interesting, different from expected movies. Dialogues were un-imaginable. Then the songs were lavish. Setting went from small-town to Mumbai to America and then space.
I don't know what to say for it failing at BO. Even I watched it on Netflix.
All the fan-club driven internet chatter ne barbaad kiya filmon ko. Or can only blame SRK-KK-AS trinity with "Jab Tak" line has some kind of jinx. Always khilli udane-wale are the noisiest. Then awesone bolen wale chup ko jate hai. Effect shows in ticket sales. Very bad trend.

Uri - It had the war video-game vibe about it in the trailer itself and the movie delivered.

Total Dhamaal - truely fantastic mad-cap comedy after a long time. My fav bits were Madhuri-Anil ones.

Notebook - such beautiful locations and plot moves just as serenely. Adorable debutantes both. They included many known stories of Kashmir in small snippets, with elaborate explanations.

Gully Boy - really catchy & original music with equally engaging characters and their complex stories. About music, it was an education on rap music in Indian setting.

Other notables:
Super 30
Manikarnika
Luka Chuppi
Badla
Photograph
SOTY2
Dream Girl


Saturday, August 10, 2019

Minnesota Half Marathon - StPaul - 2019 - Race Recap

Brutal. That's what this year's Minnesota Half Marathon was, on 3-Aug-2019.


July had been rather cool, not hot at all. Race morning however was all hot & steamy. Still it looked manageable. There was Sun out in open and I guessed it would be 70'sF. I did not expect it, but it was the rising humidity which took the toll. Race started as usual and I kept the usual pace while being on the sunny side of the road. After the turnaround, made it back to the Science Museum side, which is 8th mile. Now the breathing seemed labored and I took my first walk break. Here on I saw many stops where medic van was helping runners. My run buddy who ran a 10 miler, actually saw many people throw up.



So by 9th mile, I decided that this slow pace is fine. I only need to cross the finish line. The real torture began after the turnaround on 11th mile. On this last stretch, Sun was on our back. No big deal. But gradually after 5-10 minutes I could literally feel all of my back - from my head to the heel - was on fire. I let out a yelp and turned around. This was totally real. But there was just no escape here - no trees, no building shades to hide behind. I don't know how I went on. Everyone on this stretch was red-faced, feet jogging ahead. On the 12th mile, a young girl was red-faced and crying. I tried screaming some motivation stuff, but within a few minutes I felt like I would breakdown. So I stopped and inched away from her but in forward direction. Every moment that I am talking about here, should be imagined in slow-motion. Anyway finally made it to the finish line.

And it shows up in my race time - a never before 3:15:33 hours.

Brutal & Horrifying - that what this race was.


Race gear is the same design as last year, which is great because it's a lovely cut & great material.

Past Minnesota Half Marathons: 20192018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2014 |

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Maple Grove Half Marathon - 2019 - Race recap

This is my first time running Maple Grove Half Marathon today on Mon 11-May-2019. Start of the race was from Maple Grove Senior High School. Coffee, hot chocolates & muffins was available at the start thanks to Daily Dose. They were other sponsor tents like massage.



Perfect weather morning for the race. Pleasant 53F, Sunny with constant breeze. Very April Springy weather in May.



Half race started at 7:40am, with a loop around the track. Then the route went in & out of Rice Lake Trails. Those portion were by the water. Out of trails were in residential areas. The roads were not closed out, as there was hardly anyone driving this early Sat morning.


Route directions were exceptional. Considering how circuitous route this is, with 2-3 turns every mile, there were arrows with volunteers at each of these. A lot of those were high school students. Without these arrows, no way could we make it through this route. For people of my pace group, it got lonely in the trails after first few miles. Felt very Run club kind-of run. Water-stops were frequent & they had Gatorade after the first stop. Very helpful & cheerful volunteers here.

My race time was a satisfactory 3:03:08 hours.


Race swag was cool, perfect fit shirt & medal.


Saturday, May 4, 2019

Avenger Endgame emotions

Franchises (in its true sense) are truly powerful thing the creative world came up with. I have always been a fan & will continue to be so. Why end something, when the story is not over ? We want to know more.

When Infinity War launched and I read some spoiler, which said Spiderman dies in it, that was enough for me. I did not watch it. Plus I did not know about the whole plot of Avengers movies & Marvel universe on the whole ending soon. I stayed away, but my kids watched it. And internet made sure I saw the pics where the characters fade away in dots. Ew.

Anyway when the time for Endgame came, and internet informed me, that this was a last movie tie-ing up the 22 movies (I did not know!) of Marvel Universe, I wasted no time in buying tickets and seeing the earliest show possible.

Looking at it, so many things are ending this year - Marvel Universe - Iron Man atleast, GOT, Big Bang Theory ...... Its bringing out a collective emotional response across media.

Three-fourth of the movie was build-up with multiple time-travelling. It was interesting for someone  who like references to other individual movies (aka me). But the most enchanting part was the last part of final war. It was reminiscent of epic level Gods & Rakshas wars. I got goosebumps (like the makers intended) when Captain America whispers "Assemble".

Girl Power moment was a visual treat even if lasted a few seconds. When you have so many of powerful characters, it makes sense to assemble them in a single frame and carry on a task of single purpose. I looked around, & did not find a pic. This blurry thing is the only one I could capture.
Girl Power moment in Avengers Endgame

The most striking thing about Avengers End-game was the parallel with Hindu stories. During a low point, when Caption Marvel comes to the rescue and changes the equation, it was totally entrance of Durga during the big war between the Gods & Rakshasas.

Marvel, DC & Star Wars are American mythology in progress, and we are witness to its creation.


Sunday, March 10, 2019

Orange in Sunnyvale


In the first week of March, at the time when snow is piled up for 4 feet in MN, I got a chance to visit Sunnyvale California. What a contrast. Its spring out here.


 

There is so much snow there is no place to shovel it. It’s spilling on sidewalks & roads. We have run out of place to push it in. Meanwhile, its blissful, foggy, crispy Spring in CA.


Californians had Orange plants in their gardens.


And lime growing in the side bushes. Wow.

Went for a walk around and promptly got lost. Even maps was lost. Had to call Uber for a 5 minute ride back to hotel.


It was a short visit. So on the way back, I did a stop-by at Google office. Google campus brought back memories of IISc & Infosys campus.
Mountain ranges around SLC are so fascinating. At night only small pockets were lit. They were isolated, far away from each other. No roads showed at day or night. Wonder what those places are ?