Friday, April 11 – Sunday, April 13

I still don’t know how I managed to survive this “weekend.” It defies explanation.  Okay, Friday wasn’t too bad.  During the day I ran the usual errands, and made it to the gym.  It was a nice session, too.  It started out with dumbbell bench presses, 5 x 8 x 80/80.  This jump in weight from last time was no trouble.  What was a bit more bothersome was that I had to use an adjustable bench set at the “flat” setting rather than a flat bench, all of which were in use.  It took some time to get used to the new bench because it’s higher off the ground than the flat benches.  That wouldn’t matter with most exercises, but is more of an issue with dumbbell benches because it’s always awkward getting the weights into position.  After the benches I did Hammer Strength plate-loaded dips, 4 x 8 x 340.

Later on Friday I went into the Major Home Improvement Retailer for an 8 to midnight shift.  I was busy, but as the shift was only four hours it wasn’t bad.  The same cannot be said for Saturday and Sunday, as I worked 3:30 to midnight both days.  More to the point, the garden area was absolutely packed with customers, and even more to the point many of them were buying heavy things like large bags of fertilizer and topsoil, as well as paving and patio stones of various shapes.  While some customers will load these heavy items onto their carts themselves, more often than not the task was mine.  I did not keep a running tally of the poundage I hoisted, but it certainly would have been in the 2,000-lb. + range each day! Who needs the gym?

Published in: on April 14, 2014 at 7:53 pm  Leave a Comment  

Wednesday, April 9 – Thursday, April 10

Before the break

I’ll be off next week from my primary job, though fortunately I’m getting 28 hours from the Major Home Improvement Retailer. It will still make for an unusual schedule, as on the weekdays I won’t be going into work until 8pm.  Which actually may be a good thing, as I’ll have ample time off during the day.  Of course it also means that I’ll have to get used to going to the gym before work.  That probably won’t be difficult, give the late start times.

Both of the days at the regular job were pretty easy.  I was done by 2:00 on Wednesday and an hour earlier on Thursday. Combined with a conveniently close worksite, neither day seemed like a “real” workday. On Thursday, I had an 8 to midnight shift at the MHIR, and all in all it wasn’t too bad.  Busy enough for the time to go by quickly but not so busy as to be hectic.

I went to the gym on Wednesday for back work. It was a pretty good session too.  I started out with shrugs on the standing calf raise machine, 4 x 10 x 270.  Then, with a bench finally having opened up, I did one-arm dumbbell rows, 4 x 8 x 90/90. I finished with T-bar rows, 4 x 8 x 145.  All of these represented increases from last time, so I’m making progress.

Published in: on April 12, 2014 at 1:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

Monday, April 7 – Tuesday, April 8

Why is it so hard to find parts?

I’d have to say that both of these days were quite hard and high-pressure at my regular job. Not that I’m trying to over dramatize or anything, I wouldn’t say that they were horrible, but they definitely were tougher than usual. What’s a bit odd is that there was no single reason for this state of affairs.  It wasn’t as if one factor accounted for everything.  It was more like a number of small factors combined, though that’s probably not all that uncommon a state of affairs.

I wasn’t working at the Major Home Improvement Retailer on Monday, which isn’t to say that it was an easy evening.  Over two hours were devoted to an ultimately fruitless wild goose chase trying to locate a tool essential for working on a family member’s car.  It’s funny.  With Amazon and other sellers offering quick, ofter overnight, delivery of just about anything, car parts and tools can be difficult to acquire.  What, are they not “just about everything?”

Tuesday I did the 8 to midnight shift at the MHIR.  It was literally a very dirty time, as I spent much of the shift gathering and trying to tape up ripped bags of topsoil.  My poor apron was filthy by the time I left, not that it was too clean to begin with.

Published in: on April 11, 2014 at 4:43 am  Leave a Comment  

Friday, April 4 – Sunday, April 6

Friday was a welcome day off, something that’s not particularly common given my schedule.  It took me a long time to get going in the morning, and I’m not sorry in the least.  What, I’m supposed to be a dynamo of energy every single day?  Really.  Once I finally got going I did a number of errands and other minor chores. While I had been planning on going to the gym in the early evening, that didn’t come to pass, instead we made another trip to P.F. Chang’s.  The same thing that had derailed my gym plans on Monday, not that I’m complaining.  Tip: the hot fish Hunan style is terrific.

Saturday was an early start for me as I had an 8 to 2:30 shift at the Major Home Improvement Retailer.  What made the shift unusual is that I was barely inside the building at all.  Mulch was on sale, at two dollars a bag, and a sales area had been set up in the side parking lot.  That’s where I spent my shift.  People were buying big quantities, typical amounts were 20 bags or more, and along with a couple other people I was helping them load the bags into their vehicles.  While the bags weren’t particularly heavy, the sheer volume made it a pretty tough day.  On the good side, the shift went by very quickly.

My Sunday shift was a bit later, 10 to 3:30.  For the first half hour I worked on the outside mulch sale, but then I got reassigned to pulling online orders.  That’s actually my regular job, one to which I’ll probably returning once the garden season is over.  It wasn’t easy today, for two reasons.  The first and more basic reason is simply that the orders were large, in one case involving almost 200 paving stones.  The second reason, well, it’s sort of my fault.  I recently had bought a pair of steel toe boots at Walmart, paying only about $30 in what I had thought was a terrific deal.  They felt fine when I tried them on in the store, too. Well, suffice to say that upon wearing them on Sunday, within an hour they began to hurt my feet.  A lot. By the end of my shift I was limping and in constant pain, and later found that the horrible boots had left a couple of raw patches on my toes.  Thanks, Walmart!

I made it to the gym on Saturday for leg work.  As my hands were quite sore from all the mulch-loading I had done all day, I decided to use machines rather than do trap bar deadlifts or squats.  I used a Hoist moveable-seat leg press, doing 6 x 10 at the maximum resistance level of 18/18.  That may sound impressive, but in fact it wasn’t all that difficult.  Next came lying leg curls, 3 x 8 x 110.  To finish the session I did standing calf raises, 3 x 10 x 270.

Published in: on April 9, 2014 at 9:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

Wednesday, April 2 – Thursday, April 3

Dumbbell time

Wednesday and Thursday were reasonably easy days at my primary job.  A new function has been added to the tasks I have to do each day, which means that I have to stay a bit longer than in the past, but I’m hardly about to complain because I still finish up before the “normal” 3:30 quitting time.  As always, I get paid based on staying until 3:30 but can leave earlier if everything’s done.  Not a bad deal.

One thing I didn’t do was work at the Major Home Improvement Retailer.  Sunday was my last shift until next Saturday, in fact I’m only getting 10.5 hours this week.  Once again, I can’t really complain, because next week I’ll be getting 28 hours.  Feast or famine.  Exactly how the scheduling works, I don’t know for sure, but it must be a complicated system.

No gym on Wednesday, as I had other things to do after work, but on Thursday I had a chest session.  Not wanting to keep using machines, I decided to give dumbbell bench presses a try.  There’s something about my hand position on a barbell that bothers my elbow.  Using dumbbells avoids that issue because my hands aren’t forced into one fixed position.

As I’m out of practice, I stated very light, with a pair of 60-lb. dumbbells, and did 2 x 10. Then I moved up to 70′s for another 2 x 10, and finished with 75′s at yet another 2 x 10.  Even with the 75′s I had no trouble completing the reps.  What was the hardest part was getting the dumbbells into position.  I expect that with additional practice this will get easier, though it’s always a bit of a challenge.  After the dumbbells I did the Hammer Strength plate-loaded seated dip, 3 x 8 x 320.  I was going to do some overhead presses, but my elbow was getting just a bit sore and I decided not to tempt fate.


Published in: on April 5, 2014 at 5:12 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, March 31 – Tuesday, April 1

Now that was unexpected

Please note the date in the heading.  Monday was March 31, in other words it was almost April and a week into spring.  A time when it should be getting warmer and, you know, spring-like.  So imagine my surprise when I got up Monday morning to the sight of snow.  Not just a few wet flakes, either.  There was over an inch on the ground and it was coming down heavily.

Now, talk about bad timing, my worksite was near Exit 57 on the Expressway.  Meaning I’d have to drive several miles with the flow of rush hour traffic.  That’s always a distinctly unpleasant experience, and I knew full well that the snow would make things that much worse.  And it did.  Oh yes, it sure did.  It took me nearly 40 minutes to cover the six or so miles from exits 61 to 57.  While some of that time was spent at a dead stop, for the most part traffic was moving … very, very slowly.  Trying to get off before 57 and taking the service road wasn’t an option, as at many points I could see cars backed up endlessly on the service road.

Despite my best efforts, I made it to the worksite about ten minutes late, fortunately that is not a major issue in my job.  It’s just that I really hate being late.  During the morning the snow got even heavier, and by the time it stopped shortly after noon at least five inches had fallen.  And this is almost April? Fortunately there were no traffic woes getting home.  I had planned on going to the gym, but instead we ended up making a repeat visit to P.F. Chang’s.  Word of advice: the Mongolian Beef is excellent.

Tuesday was blessedly free of traffic dramatics.  No April Fool’s joke on the roads.  The worksite was off Sunrise Highway, and I had no particular difficulty getting to or from it.  In the morning there was still some snow on the ground, but by the afternoon it was pretty much all gone.

My troublesome finger being much better, I ventured out to the gym on Tuesday evening and did some back work.  In a blast-from-the-past moment, I decided to start out with an old favorite, one-arm dumbbell rows, keeping  it fairly light as I’m not accustomed to this exercise: 2 x 8 x 75/75, 2 x 8 x 80/80, 2 x 8 x 85/85.  I should be back up to the 100′s in no time.  Then came T-bar rows, 3 x 8 x 135.  To end the session, I did shrugs on the standing calf machine, 3 x 10 x 250.

Published in: on April 4, 2014 at 2:42 am  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, March 29 – Sunday, March 30

Saturday’s 9-hour shift at the Major Home Improvement Retailer illustrated the odd but true fact that it’s less exhausting to be busy at work than it is to be non-busy. When schedulers set the day’s schedule a couple of weeks ago, they figured that the garden department would be really busy, given that it was one of the first Saturdays in spring.  Customers would be streaming in to buy fertilizer and mulch and grass seed and other spring-like products.  There were many employees assigned to the department, including some loaned from other departments for the day.

What no one could predict is that Saturday turned out to be about as non-springlike a day as you could get.  It rained heavily all day, with the temperature not much above freezing.  While the store itself was reasonably busy, not too many of the customers made their way to the garden department.  I could scarcely blame them, as the weather would not put anyone in the mood for gardening or lawn maintenance, and in any event the part of the department that was outdoors was not what you’d call inviting.

I did the best I could to keep busy, but there just wasn’t too much to do.  My 3pm to midnight shift, which obviously is quite long in the first place, seemed utterly interminable.  An hour would pass yet the clock somehow advanced only ten minutes.  Trust me, if there were such a thing as a time-warp superpower, I would have used it.

Sunday was a much better day.  After doing a variety of things during the day, I went in at 8pm for a 4-hour shift.  It was the complete antithesis of Saturday, as I was busy nonstop for the whole time.  For most of the shift I was moving and rearranging products in the greenhouse area, which was nice because even though it wasn’t raining it was still unpleasantly cold.

Published in: on April 2, 2014 at 1:50 am  Leave a Comment  

Thursday, March 27 – Friday, March 28

I’m sure glad THAT streak is over

Thursday marked the end of two things.  First of all, it was the last day of the two-week cycle at my main job. That’s usually unremarkable, but was welcome in this case because it’s been an unusually tough cycle.  I have reason to believe that the next one won’t be anywhere near as hard. As befitting the present cycle, however, today was anything but an easy day.  I was at the worksite considerably longer than expected.

Thursday evening was the last of my three-in-a-row late shifts at the Major Home Improvement Retailer.  While working 8 to midnight isn’t really that bad, doing so three nights in a row is pretty tough.  It didn’t help that tonight’s shift was the physically most draining of the three.  I was very thankful that Friday was a day off!

As for Friday, I did my usual day-off errands, and in the early evening went to the gym for another 30 minutes on the stationary cycle.  Once again I used the “rolling hills” course, though at a higher resistance level.

Published in: on April 1, 2014 at 1:42 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, March 24 – Wednesday, March 26

A one-day calm before the storm

Mondays are few peoples’ idea of a favorite day, but of these three days it was by far the best for me. No, this is not a sign that I’ve flipped out or anything, it’s merely because it was the only day in which I actually worked just one job.  Monday marked the beginning of the second week of the two-week cycle at my regular job.  It was slightly different from usual in that it wasn’t at my usual worksite, but rather the one where I’d been last Monday.  Due to operational concerns the schedule for the two sites had to be reversed.  This doesn’t mean much, in fact it means nothing at all, just that it was a decent way of breaking up the monotony. Or something like that.  Anyway, Monday was a decent day at work, and in the evening we tried out the recently opened P.F. Chang’s at the local mall (very good). This didn’t give me an opportunity to go to the gym, which unfortunately was not so good for reasons soon to become apparent.

Tuesday and Wednesday were both two-job days.  I worked at my regular job from 8 to about 3, and after a break of several hours headed off to the Major Home Improvement Retailer for the 8 to midnight shift.  Logically this shouldn’t be too bad.  I’ve worked at both jobs in the same day many times over the past few months, and as the MHIR shifts usually were from 5 to 9 I had only a short break between jobs.  That wasn’t bad, but somehow the longer break followed by the 8 to midnight shift is much harder on me.  I don’t believe it’s because of the later quitting time.  A more likely explanation involves the length of the break between jobs.  Being off for several hours gets me out of work mode, so to speak, making it all that much harder when I have to trudge back into work. It’s mental rather than physical, in other words.

Now, the between-jobs breaks on Tuesday and Wednesday left me with enough time to go to the gym.  Which unfortunately doesn’t mean that I actually went.  Once again, it’s more mental than physical.  In all my many years of gym going it’s always been something I do after work or on days off.  True, many people are in the habit of exercising before work, that’s why the gym opens at the ghastly hour of 4 am, but I’m not “many people.”  Going before work seems way too odd even when the work is at a nonstandard hour.  Whatever the case may be, missing a few days isn’t going to be an end-of-the-world situation.  Next week I’m working only ten hours at the MHIR and will have ample opportunity to hit the gym.


Published in: on March 27, 2014 at 10:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

Friday, March 21 – Sunday, March 23

I’d like to say that I made productive use of my day off on Friday, but alas that would be stretching the truth a little bit.  A large bit.  While I did a variety of errands, for the most part “aimless web surfing” was the accurate description.  Not that I’m contrite or anything.  What with my busy work schedule I deserve some time to do nothing. In any event, I made it to the gym on Friday and like the day before did a fast-paced 30 minutes on the stationary cycle.  This time, instead of using a manual setting, I tried the “rolling hills” programmed course.

Saturday and Sunday were weird sort of days, not quite workdays yet not quite days off.  The reason is that I worked both days, doing the 8pm – midnight shift at the Major Home Improvement Retailer. Which means that each day I worked only four hours, at the end of each day, which doesn’t really lead to a true workday feel. I did another stationary cycle session on Saturday, though not on Sunday.  Work itself wasn’t bad, especially on Saturday when the usually warm weather made it pretty nice to work in the outdoor garden center.  Suffice to say that Sunday was much colder.

Published in: on March 25, 2014 at 10:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

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