Wednesday, April 29

Youthful exuberance bother you?  Deal with it.

Today was blessedly free of the Killer Rumps that so bedeviled me yesterday.  I got the shuttle from Medford, and then the 7:19 from Ronkonkoma to Penn.  Taking the 6:56 to Flatbush Avenue was out of the question because it was an M-7 consist – trust me, it’ll be a long before I overcome that particular fear – and if I’m going to wait around Ronkonkoma I might as well wait a bit longer and take the 7:19 rather than the 7:04, which makes a couple more stops.  The seat next to me was still empty when we left the station, which isn’t common, though a 30ish, non-SCA man took it at Central Islip.  He wasn’t any bother.  I read more of Outliers and had a couple mediocre tries at Tetris, and we got into Penn on time.  I just missed a 3 train by seconds, but a 2 came along in a few minutes and I stayed on until Fulton.

In another somewhat unusual occurrence, I actually got a seat on a 2 at Fulton after work.  Afternoon 2/3 trains are generally SRO.  I got the 5:22 to Ronkonkoma, it was crowded when I boarded but I found an aisle seat next to a mid-30’s woman who was neither large nor noisy, though she was a touch too squirmy for my liking.  It really wasn’t a big deal.  A group of about 15  young people, more girls than boys, was traveling together toward the middle of the car several rows away from me.  They looked to be around the middle school/high school boundary, I’d say more likely they were in the last year of middle school (9th grade, in most area districts).  A couple of teacher types were with them, so they probably were coming back from a field trip.  They were, without question, quite noisy, chattering away nonstop.  Because they were spread out among several rows they’d often have to talk quite loudly.  Their noise didn’t bother me at all, even though I could hear them over my iPod.  It’s nice to see young people enjoying themselves.  Unfortunately, someone else in the car mustn’t have seen things that way, because shortly after we passed through Jamaica the conductor spoke to one of the teachers, who in turn spoke to the young people (I couldn’t hear what she was saying), and the noise level dropped off considerably.  It is very unlikely that the conductor acted on her own initiative, in my experience they’re very tolerant of loud and even disruptive passengers.  Almost certainly someone complained, and I’ll bet it was an SCA.  It’s all right for them to babble about the pass interception in the fourth quarter of the Jets game, or about their 9-iron approach shot on the 5th hole, but when some excited young people just out of childhood are a little loud, well that’s a catastrophe.  Schmucks.  I pondered this state of affairs for most of the rest of the ride, knocking off more of Outliers and having a semi-decent game of Tetris.  We got to Ronkonkoma on time, although the shuttle was a few minutes late leaving because we had to wait for the slightly delayed 5:41 out of Penn.

Gym: it didn’t dawn on me until too late that yesterday should’ve been my deadlift session.  I had deadlifted on Tuesday of last week, not Wednesday as I thought.  What this meant is that when I deadlifted tonight it was eight days since my last session.  That’s not ideal, but it shouldn’t matter too much.  In any event, tonight’s deadlifting went very well: 6 x 225, 6 x 275, 4 x 295, 4 x 315, 3 x 325, 1 x 335, 6 x 285, 8 x 225.  What I might try next time is doing fewer warmup reps and then going for a higher max.  I should be able to get 345 with no trouble and might shoot for 355.  After the deadlifts I did one-arm dumbbell rows, 3 x 8 x 120/120.  These were pretty easy.

Published in: on April 30, 2009 at 3:16 am  Leave a Comment  

Tuesday, April 28

Attack of the Killer Rumps

It took me a seeming eternity to get out of the house this morning, one thing after another, and I realized that making the shuttle from Medford just wasn’t going to happen.  No big deal, I drove to Ronkonkoma to catch the 7:19 express to Penn.  I didn’t have to run to catch the train, indeed on dignity principles I flatly refused to run for trains, but thanks to the LIRR’s idiotic failure to build a crossover at the east end of the Ronkonkoma platforms (why?) I had to walk at a rather brisk pace.  I almost thought I wouldn’t make it, and would have to wait for the 7:32 local, when the door-closing chimes sounded when I was still about 100 feet away.  A man walking nearby said “It’s only 7:17!” and indeed the doors did not actually close until the appropriate time.

I got a window seat and seconds later a woman of about 30 to 35 took the aisle seat next to me.  Now, as I’ve noted before, men and women are shaped differently.  Men tend to carry excess weight around the abdomen while women carry it in their hips and rear ends.  While the woman sitting next to me was not fat, she was a bit heavier than optimal, and true to her gender’s stereotypical shape was distinctly wide-bottomed.  Combined with the obscenely tiny M-7 seats her physique created a somewhat uncomfortable situation for me.  For the duration of the ride I had soft, squishy rump tissue pressing into me.  Had it been a man with abdominal fat next to me, the fat would’ve extended forward rather than sideways and in most circumstances would not have infringed on my space.  Still, I can’t complain too much; an elephantine SCA would’ve been far less tolerable, and the soft, squishy nature of the lady’s rump tissue meant that it did not exert an excessive amount of pressure.  The ride itself was delay-free, mostly spent reading Outliers. After yesterday’s record-setting Tetris score I didn’t have much of an urge to play the game.  Oh, once at Penn, I must’ve had a fit of masochism because I actually took an A train to Broadway-Nassau.  Mostly this was because I wanted to get some oatmeal at Seattle Coffee Roasters, which is located near the entrance to the Eighth Avenue lines.  Miracle of miracles, I waited barely a minute for a train.

I wasn’t about to try my luck with the A after work, so I got a 2 from Park Place for a quick ride to Penn.  I got the 5:22 to Ronkonkoma, riding in the head car as that would be most convenient to where I was parked at the station. The car was crowded, but I found an aisle seat next to an average-sized man in his 40’s.  Just before we got underway, I turned to look toward the aisle, I don’t remember why, and I must have been slouching a bit in my seat.  This happened just as a large-bottomed woman in the aisle next to me turned her back toward me, so she could sit in the opposite row.  Why am I mentioning this?  Her turning, my turning, her large posterior and my slouched position all contributed to a purely accidental state of affairs, in which her ample bottom went right into my face.  It was a distinctly less squishy rump than that of the woman in the morning.  Ah, the indignities which I encounter every day on the LIRR.  Thankfully, it was another quick ride without delays, once again spent reading.  In just a few days I’ve nearly finished Outliers, a welcome change from the ponderously slow House of Cards that I finished last week.

Gym: I continued my slow road to recovery in bench pressing, this time managing 11 total reps at 225, up from 10 last time.  6 x 135, 4 x 185, 2 x 205, 3 x 225, 4 x 2 x 225.  Sigh. I really wish I hadn’t stopped doing benches in favor of machine work, at this rate it’ll take me weeks to get back to where I’d been.  I then tried an exercise I haven’t done literally in years, overhead dumbbell presses: 2 x 8 x 50/50, 1 x 6 x 50/50.  It wasn’t so much that these were hard, but being accustomed to the motion it felt awkward.  Hopefully, that’ll change soon.  Next came some pec deck flies: 8 x 165, 7 x 165 (couldn’t get the eighth), 8 x 160.  I finished with Hammer Strength MTS shoulder presses, 3 x 6 x 100/100.

Published in: on April 29, 2009 at 2:58 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, April 27

Trying hard not to stare

It was a decent start to the new week, with the shuttle from Medford and then an M-3 single seat on the 6:56 from Ronkonkoma to Flatbush Avenue.  I’m really hoping there’ll be M-3’s on the 6:56 this week.  It actually seems to alternate from week to week, for reasons I don’t understand.  Perhaps something related to maintenance schedules.  Anyway, it was an easy ride on the 6:56, mostly spent reading.  The woman who always seems to spend a half-hour or more applying cosmetics sat across the aisle from me, but she was so busy with school lesson plans – for the 7- or 8-year olds she teaches, who surely don’t care about the state of her makeup – that she only was able to spend a few minutes on her face.  Hopefully the rug rats won’t scream in terror!  (Actually, she looks fine bare-faced).  What didn’t look quite so fine was a 50ish woman who was standing across from me on the 5 train from Atlantic to Fulton.  One of her ears was severely deformed, basically just a few fleshy protrusions with no “ear-like” character.  It created an awkward situation for me because of course it would’ve been greatly impolite to have stared, but it was very hard not to stare.  I had to make a conscious effort to look elsewhere.

I got to Penn pretty quickly after work, via a crowded 3 from Fulton.  As I was walking through the main LIRR concourse, not far from the McDonald’s, a skell asked me for money so he could get a “double cheeseburger.”  Say what?  I’m sorry, that’s being rather pushy.  If you’re going to pass the hat, actually a battered paper coffee cup in his case, you ought to be satisfied with a single hamburger.  Or something else from the Dollar Menu.  I got the 5:22 to Ronkonkoma, which didn’t seem too crowded when the doors first opened but which quickly filled up and was packed by the time we got underway.  In the mid-consist car where I sat, I saw what must’ve been one of the longest Baby Elephant Walks ever seen on a non-summer-Friday train.  An older woman sat next to me, and while she spent most of the trip on her cell phone she didn’t talk too loudly and my iPod drowned out the chatter.  It was a nice ride indeed, for not only were there no delays, but I also got an all-time high score on Tetris: 137,251 to be precise, almost 20,000 in excess of my previous high.  While waiting for the shuttle at Ronkonkoma I had one more episode of Trying Not to Stare (amazing that this happened twice in one day!)  There was a couple in their 20’s waiting for the shuttle, and the woman, who was wearing a tank top, had these ugly raised red splotches all over her arms.  It must’ve been some sort of skin disease.  Fortunately, it was easy to avoid staring, what with there being a lot of room on the platform.

Gym: a distinctively unsuccessful outing. Maybe I was worn out from the hard work I’d done on the weekend, maybe it was just an off day.  I ran one mile on the treadmill at 5.6 mph, I had wanted to do two miles but just didn’t have the energy to do more than one.  Next, I started ellipting, hoping to do 20 minutes, but I had so little energy I gave up just shy of the 12-minute mark.  Between the running and ellipting I did about 22 minutes’ worth of exercising, which isn’t much, but I suppose is sort of acceptable when added to yesterday’s 60 minutes.

Published in: on April 28, 2009 at 2:41 am  Comments (4)  

Sunday, April 26

A triple play at the gym today.  I started out with a 2-mile run on the treadmill at 5.6 mph, then ellipted for 20 minutes, and finished with 20 minutes on the stationary cycle at 18.3 mph.  Just over an hour of exercise.  I’m beat.

Published in: on April 26, 2009 at 9:58 pm  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, April 25

Something a bit different today.  It was leg day, squats and SLDL’s to be specific, but instead of going for high weights and relatively low reps I did the opposite, relatively low weights but high reps.  Squats: 8 x 135, 4 x 12 x 225.  I don’t think I ever did 12 reps of squats before, let alone four sets of them.  48 total reps at 225 is a lot, no matter how you slice and dice it.  I then ran one mile on the treadmill at 5.6 mph, followed by 20 minutes on the stationary cycle at 18.8 mph.  Then it was time for SLDL’s, continuing with the same theme: 3 x 12 x 185. Next week I’ll probably get back to higher weights and fewer reps, but today was the sort of change that’s essential to avoid getting stale.

Published in: on April 26, 2009 at 1:15 am  Leave a Comment  

Friday, April 24

Return of the cattle trains

Today was definitely a high-travel-volume day on the LIRR.  It was the type of crowding that I usually don’t see except when there are canceled trains or other service delays, but unless I’m mistaken there wasn’t anything of that sort today.  I got the shuttle from Medford, with the usual 15 or so people boarding, and then the 7:19 express from Ronkonkoma to Penn.  No 6:56 to Flatbush Avenue, as it was an M-7 consist for only the second time this week, and I got something from the station deli and therefore skipped the 7:04.  Anyway, I prefer the 7:19.  No sooner did I board the car closest to the ticket windows than almost all the seats filled up.  It actually appeared that all of the non-middle seats and at least half of the middles were taken even before we got underway.  The people who boarded at Central Islip took the rest of the middles and some had to stand, while everyone who boarded at Brentwood stood.   A man of about 35 took the seat next to me moments after I sat down, he wasn’t more than average size and not annoying, though he was definitely a Type A personality as he spent the entire trip working away on his Black Berry.  We arrived at Penn on time, or perhaps just a few minutes late due to some minor delays in the tunnel, and I waited not even 15 seconds for a 2 train to Park Place.

I walked to Park Place rather than Fulton after work, getting a 2 to Penn after a couple minutes’ wait.  As I’ve done the last couple of days I got the 5:22 to Ronkonkoma.  It was absolutely packed, a situation not helped by the fact that many people seemed to have luggage or other large bags with them.  Fortunately I was able to find a seat, on the aisle next to a 40ish woman, and noted with some amusement that the conductor kept emphasizing over the PA that it was an express train with no stops until Wyandanch.  It’s likely that many non-regular riders board the train on Fridays thinking that there’ll be a Jamaica stop.  I spent most of the ride to Ronkonkoma and the shuttle reading my newest book, Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.  Not much of an urge for Tetris today.

Gym: My slow struggle back to normalcy in bench pressing continued, with a bit of progress.  I did doubles at 225 and actually got a total of ten reps, up from five last time: 6 x 135, 4 x 185, 2 x 205, 5 x 2 x 225.  There’s still a long way to go.  For addition chest work I did pec deck flies, 3 x 8 x 160.  I also did a bit of work on the Hammer Strength MTS shoulder press, 8 x 100/100, 8 x 105/105, and finished the session with one-arm dumbbell rows, 4 x 8 x 120/120.

Published in: on April 26, 2009 at 1:10 am  Leave a Comment  

Thursday, April 23

Silence was golden

I was lucky that people were quiet on the trains today.  Very lucky.  As it turned out, I had to travel without the benefit of my trusty iPod.  Late last night I found that the earpieces were both cut off from the wires, probably because one of the cats had gnawed through them.  These feline hijinks left me at the mercy of loud riders, but as luck would have it everyone was unusually quiet today.  I’d like to say that the other riders sensed my iPod-less predicament and responded appropriately, but unfortunately that’s not too likely.  The rides were uneventful in other respects too.  I got the shuttle from Medford, then the 6:56 from Ronkonkoma to Flatbush Avenue as it was yet another M-3 consist.  Today I was uncharacteristically unable to get a single seat, but it worked out because the seat next to me was occupied only from Farmingdale to Mineola, and then by a man of no more than average size.  There were no delays, and unlike yesterday’s train the 4 I got to Fulton was odorless.  Or at least as odorless as the subway can be.

There’s hardly anything to say about the trip home, so uneventful it turned out to be.  I got a 3 from Fulton to Penn, then the 5:22 to Ronkonkoma.  A relatively small woman of about 50 sat next to me on the latter train and was no trouble at all.  I spent most of the ride reading, finally finishing House of Cards, and we got to Ronkonkoma right on time.

Gym: a quick session, with a 2-mile run on the treadmill at 5.6 mph.

Published in: on April 25, 2009 at 6:07 am  Leave a Comment  

Wednesday, April 22

I’m glad I couldn’t identify that smell

A fine start to the day, in LIRR terms, as after arriving on the shuttle from Medford I saw that the 6:56 to Flatbush Avenue was an M-3 consist.  I was able to get a single seat, though not without a bit of effort – the single seats were taken in the first two cars I checked, and the one in the third car looked broken as the bottom cushion had slipped forward several inches.  Fortunately I was able to push it back in place and enjoyed a nice easy ride into Brooklyn.  The car was more crowded than is usual for the 6:56, with many of the middle seats taken, though that might be because it was closer to the head (west) end of the consist than where I usually ride.  Sitting near that end of the train can be more convenient if you are getting the 2/3 train in Brooklyn or walking from the station to most destinations.  I went to the 4/5 platform as usual, and in less than a minute boarded a 4 train to Fulton.  There was an odd smell in the car, something not particularly pleasant, but I couldn’t identify exactly what it was.  When we stopped at Bowling Green, however, all of the people sitting or standing in one end of the car either got off to board other cars or went to the other end of the car, where I was standing.  Some of them were holding their noses or covering their noses with tissues.  Whatever the smell was, I could smell it more distinctly, and it was definitely not something nice.  I figured that it must’ve been related to a skell sitting in the now-deserted end of the car, but there was too much crowding to see if there was, in fact, such a skell.  It’s still a reasonable deduction, however.  The train then got to Fulton and I got off, puzzled as to just what the aroma was.  Maybe it’s best not knowing.

Getting home was odor-free in comparison.  I waited a bit longer than usual for a 2 from Fulton to Penn, in the five-minute range, but the ride was without any delays. I got the 5:22 to Ronkonkoma, a definite cattle train today, though a smallish woman of about 35 sat next to me so I had enough room.  I spent most of the trip reading, and it seemed to go by quickly.  That impression was quite accurate, as we actually got to Ronkonkoma three or four minutes ahead of schedule – definitely NOT typical LIRR performance!  I didn’t mind that the wait for the shuttle was therefore a bit longer than usual.

Gym: day off tonight.

Published in: on April 24, 2009 at 2:01 am  Comments (1)  

Tuesday, April 21

The Sunk Cost Fallacy

There is an economics principle called the Sunk Cost Fallacy, which says in essence that it can be a bad idea to continue to see a project or activity through to completion solely because you’ve already invested so much time, effort, or other resources into it.  In many cases you’d be better off recognizing a loss and moving onto something else.  And so it was with my morning’s subway misadventure.  The trip into Penn on the LIRR was fairly straightforward, the shuttle from Medford and then the 7:19 express from Ronkonkoma.  One of the fabled “centuries,” namely a 100-pound woman, actually took the seat next to me on the latter train, so the ride was easy even though it was a cattle train.  Quite a contrast to the elephantine SCA’s who more commonly get their thrills from squashing up next to me.  I spent most of the ride reading, and we got to Penn without any sort of delays. 

I then had the brilliant idea of taking the Eighth Avenue line to Broadway-Nassau.  Why?  I cannot explain.  It is a loathsome line, and I had absolutely no reason to believe that it would be any different today.  So I trudged up to the central platform to get an A, and waited.  And waited.  Five minutes went by with no sign of a train, then ten minutes.  After about ten minutes I started figuring that it probably would be better if I went to the local platform and got an E train to the World Trade Center, a short walk from my workplace (there weren’t any C’s either).  Actually, I could have left the station and walked through Penn to get an 2 or 3 on the Seventh Avenue side and still saved time.  But no, I figured that I’d been waiting for the A long enough, and that going elsewhere would mean that all the time had been wasted.   What ended up happening is that it was almost 20 minutes until an A finally ambled into the station.  There were no PA announcements of any delays, of course.  My trip into work would’ve taken at least ten fewer minutes had I crossed over to the E platform when I first had the idea of doing so.  Even going to the 2/3 might have saved a couple of minutes, not to mention the frustration that would have been avoided.  Sunk costs, blah.

I wasn’t about to go anywhere near the Eighth Avenue line after work, and instead had a nice quick trip on a 2 from Fulton to Penn, followed by the 5:22 to Ronkonkoma.  The latter train was crowded but tolerable, and a man of average size sat next to me and wasn’t any trouble.  There were a few very loud cell phone talkers in the car, including one who had a truly obnoxious ringtone, so I was quite thankful for my iPod.  There weren’t any delays to Ronkonkoma, and the wait for the shuttle went by quickly too.

Gym: deadlifting tonight, with some progress over last week.  6 x 225, 6 x 275, 4 x 295, 2 x 4 x 315, 4 x 285, 6 x 245.  Last week I did a set of four at 315 followed by a double at 325.  Doing two sets of four at 315 represents progress, even though I didn’t go up to 325.  I then did Precor leg extensions, 8 x 195, 8 x 200, 8 x 205, 8 x 210, and finished with Life Fitness seated leg curls, 8 x 185, 2 x 8 x 190.

Published in: on April 22, 2009 at 4:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

Monday, April 20

Exploring strange territory

Does Flatbush Avenue count as “strange?”  When I arrived in Ronkonkoma on the shuttle from Medford this morning, I saw that the 6:56 to Flatbush Avenue was an M-3 consist, quite a change after a couple weeks of M-7’s.  I dashed onboard and was able to get a single seat, though given the larger seats on the M-3’s I would have taken the train even if no singles were available.  This made for an easy ride into Brooklyn, mostly spent reading.  The woman who single-handedly (single-facedly?) can keep a department store’s cosmetics department was riding in the same car, sitting a few rows away from me, and in the couple weeks since I’ve last seen her nothing has changed … she spent at least 30 minutes working on her makeup with the diligence of a Hollywood makeup artist.  The rest of the ridership in the mid-consist car was fairly typical for the 6:56, mostly men in the 50+ age range, with the car about three-quarters full by the time we got to Jamaica.  My subway timing was impeccable, as once in Brooklyn I walked right up the stairs into a waiting 4 train without breaking stride.

It was raining when I left work, so I entered the Fulton/Broadway-Nassau station complex by an entrance close to my workplace and followed the underground route to the 2/3 platform.  A 3 came along in a few minutes, and despite being extremely crowded it made its way to Penn without delay.  I got the 5:23 Long Beach train, changing for Ronkonkoma at Jamaica.  In both cases I saw on the aisle seat of the 3-across side, a risk I was willing to take because neither train is noted for overcrowding.  Doing that on a direct Ronkonkoma train would be way too dangerous.  The Jamaica transfer was quick as usual, and I made it to Ronkonkoma and the shuttle without delays.  By the time I got to Medford it was raining heavily, which really made me appreciate the station’s small size.  The walk to my car at Ronkonkoma would’ve been much, much longer.

Gym: a 2-mile run on the treadmill at 5.6 mph.

Published in: on April 21, 2009 at 7:30 pm  Leave a Comment