Friday, June 19

Where was everybody?

Today was definitely an “empty trains” day.  No idea why, it’s not a holiday or anything, but the riders weren’t there.  I got the shuttle from Medford as usual, then the 7:19 express to Penn.  There were many people at Ronkonkoma on their way to the cartball tournament in Farmingdale, most of whom took the 7:04 to Penn.  Most were also dressed semi-identically: polo shirts, cargo shorts, and baseball caps.  About the only variety is that some of the baseball caps had no tops, being basically just visors.  By the way, I don’t think the cartball crowd was the reason why the trains weren’t crowded, as there’s no reason to believe that most of them were regular LIRR riders.  In any event, when I boarded the 7:19 it didn’t seem too crowded, and to my increasing surprise not many people boarded at Central Islip or Brentwood.  Happiness as well as surprise, as the seat next to me stayed empty the whole way, a very rare occurrence on that train.  We got into Penn on time, and I waited only a minute or two for a 3 train to Fulton.  I actually changed cars at 14th Street because the smell of skell in the first car was overwhelming.  What’s odd is that I didn’t see any likely “candidates” in the car.  The “pungent” skell must’ve gotten off at an earlier stop, yet his aroma lingered.  God only knows how the car reeked when he was still inside.

No smelly skells after work, though my wait for a 3 at Fulton was a bit longer than optimal.  Even so, I got to Penn in time for the 5:22 to Ronkonkoma, which continued with the morning’s uncrowded theme.  Yes, that’s right, no one sat next to me the whole way.  A fine, rare treat.  No delays to Ronkonkoma, and unlike yesterday the shuttle was on time too.

Gym: I began with four 3-minute rounds on the heavy bag two punching and two kicking.  I then ran two miles on the treadmill at 5.8 mph, treadmills to be precise as I changed them (and, admittedly, took a short break) after the first mile.  Just didn’t like the feel of the first one.  I finished with kettlebell swings, 3 x 10 with the 50-pounder.

Published in: on June 21, 2009 at 3:21 am  Leave a Comment  

Thursday, June 18

Late again, so what’s new?

All in all, not a bad day in commuting terms.  It started out well, as after arriving in Ronkonkoma on the shuttle from Medford I saw that the 6:56 to Flatbush Avenue was an M-3 consist.  I had little trouble getting the single seat.  Indeed, the lack of competition for single seats almost takes some of the fun out of getting them.  The car got quite crowded, with many people on their way to the cartball tournament in Farmingdale.  Most wore the standard cartball-spectator attire of polo shirts, cargo shorts, and baseball caps.  In some cases the caps had no tops to them, and were basically just sun visors.  Not that there was much need for visors, as play ended up being called off in the morning due to rain.  Many of them also were quite loud, I was happy I had my trusty iPod.  Things quieted down considerably after Farmingdale and the car was less crowded.  We got to Brooklyn on time, and I had a quick ride on a crowded 4 to Fulton.  I mean really crowded, sardine style, fortunately the ride doesn’ t take too long.

The 3 I got from Fulton to Penn after work also was crowded, but not quite to the same level as the morning’s 4.  You could actually breathe and see the floor.  Speaking of crowding, the 5:22 to Ronkonkoma was verging perilously close to cattle train territory, with more than a few standees in the mid-consist car where I rode.  I had an aisle seat next to a woman of about 40, who wasn’t any bother, and the ride passed quickly enough while I played several games of Tetris.  None particularly good, however.  While we got to Ronkonkoma on time, I was ten minutes late into Medford because the 5:41 out of Penn was late, and it’s a guaranteed connecting train for the shuttle.  Not a lengthy delay, of course, but still it would have been nice to have gotten some explanation for the delay.

Gym: deadlifting tonight, a day late, and to mix things up a bit I decided to go for high volume but low weight, and did 5 x 8 x 225.  Getting 40 reps deadlifting is a lot, even with the light weight.  I then did Hammer Strength MTS rows, with progress over last time: 8 x 100/100, 8 x 105/105, 6 x 110/110, 2 x 8 x 95/95.  Finally, I did Hammer Strength decline presses, once again showing progress: 8 x 320, 8 x 330, 5 x 340, 2 x 8 x 270.

Published in: on June 19, 2009 at 8:09 pm  Leave a Comment  

Wednesday, June 17

An SCA Squash, indirectly

I can’t win.  I just can’t.  Not only do I have to deal with being squashed by elephantine SCA’s who sit next to me, today I had the singular “pleasure” of being squashed by one who wan’t even sitting next to me!  It all transpired on the 7:57 from Ronkonkoma to Penn.  Today being another day in which I was able to go into work  a bit later than usual, I drove to Ronkonkoma for the 7:57, arriving about 7:40 and once again having to park in the far southeastern corner of the southside lot.  In a bit of irony, considering what was to happen shortly afterwards, while waiting on the platform I recoiled in disgust from what appeared to be an inordinately large number of distended abdomens on other riders.  As I’ve noted, it is a very disturbing thing the way so many men let their bodies go right down the toilet after age 35 or 40.  Some of these guys were probably quite trim and fit in their younger days, perhaps athletes in high school and college.  Once they hit middle age, however, their abdomens swell so obscenely they can’t even look down and see their toes any more.  Pathetic. 

In any event, I boarded the 7:57 and took the window seat on the 2-across side.  A woman of about 40 sat in the aisle seat at Deer Park and almost immediately began chattering away on her cell phone.  While she was a bit on the loud side, it wasn’t too much of a bother because she was talking in Spanish, foreign-language talk being inherently less distracting.  And of course my iPod was able to cover up most of it.  My hopes for an easy ride came to a (literally) crashing end at Hicksville.  I was looking out the window, just as the train was leaving the station, when the woman slammed into my side with tremendous force.  What the ….?  What happened was something I’d never before experienced.  A red-faced fat man sitting across the aisle, well-dressed but not technically an SCA because he wore a tie but no suit jacket, had lost his balance when he got up to let someone into another seat in his row and had toppled against the hapless woman sitting next to me.  In  a chain reaction similar to that which Enrico Fermi demonstrated at the University of Chicago in 1942, Fatso’s impact with the woman forced her to slam into me.  Needless to say I was most angry, though my hatred toward Lardo was nothing compared to the look of pure revulsion that the woman gave him.  If I hadn’t been using my iPod I probably would have heard a muttered pendejo and a chingada or two.  Of course this incident put me in a bad mood for the rest of the trip, a mood which wasn’t lessened by the fact that the ride on a 3 train from Penn to Fulton took over 20 minutes thanks to a train with “brakes in emergency” at Chambers Street.

Thankfully, nothing much happened on the way home.  The ride on a 3 from Fulton to Penn encountered nothing resembling the morning’s delays, and I got to Penn in time to get the 5:22 to Ronkonkoma.  It was moderately crowded, but a man of about 30 sat next to me; his age was relevant because, of course, he wasn’t quite old enough to have started porking up like men a bit older.  Give him a few years.  I spent most of the ride reading, and we got to Ronkonkoma right on time.

Gym: I had been really exhausted all day, to the point that staying awake at work was a bit of a challenge, and even though I was scheduled to do deadlifts tonight I reluctantly realized that I was just too worn out to manage such a demanding exercise.  Indeed, doing any significant weights at all was impossible.  All was not lost, fortunately, as I ended up running 2.5 miles on the treadmill at 5.7 mph, making seven miles for the week so far.

Published in: on June 18, 2009 at 2:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

Tuesday, June 16

Different trains, can’t complain

I was able to work a somewhat shorter day today than usual.  As a result, I drove to Ronkonkoma to catch the 7:57 to Penn.  When I arrived about 7:45 the southside lot was packed, there were only a few spaces available on the east side of the lot, and these were in the very last row by the woods.  There might have been some spots in the far southwestern end, don’t know for sure.  Even with the late arrival the lot was more crowded than it’s been in quite some time.   Forget all these business and economic reports you hear, the Beige Book from the Federal Reserve, bond yield curves, and so on – the amount of crowding in the Ronkonkoma lot is a much better indicator of economic conditions, and it shows distinct improvement over several months ago.  True, there were some people traveling to the practice rounds of the US Open cartball tournament in Farmingdale, but I doubt that had much of an effect on the parking situation I experienced – not all that many people got off in Farmingdale, and it’s doubtful that the earlier trains stopping there would have had many more.  As for the ride itself, it was decent enough, with a 20-something woman wearing sort of Goth-like attire taking the seat next to me at Deer Park.  I’m probably wrong about her image, as she looked a tad mature for the Goth scene, and her monthly train ticket didn’t really fit the mold.  It’s probably just a rather avant garde sort of fashion.  She was a bit chunky, though not enough to be a, ahem, impolite hippo-based term if she actually were a Goth, and more importantly not enough to be an annoyance.  I had an easy enough ride into Penn, mostly spent reading, and despite arriving at the tail end of rush hour waited less than a minute for a 3 train to Fulton.

I walked to Park Place after work and caught a surprisingly uncrowded 2 to Penn.  Keeping with the shorter workday theme, I left early enough to get the 5:01 to Ronkonkoma.  It was, as always, a true gem, uncrowded enough that no one sat next to me the entire way.  Way I figure, I might as well take the opportunity to ride it before LIRR management finally catches on to its very light ridership and gives it the heave-ho.  Speaking of LIRR management, the latest scandal is that some maintenance workers in the diesel shops are raking in vast amounts of overtime thanks to union contract loophole which allows them to collect overtime without actually having to, you know, work. Only on the LIRR.  At least it was a delay-free ride to Ronkonkoma, like the morning mostly spent reading.

Gym: day off tonight.

Published in: on June 17, 2009 at 8:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

Monday, June 15

It’s started already

Monday mornings are never pleasant, of course, but when I get an M-3 single seat they’re almost semi-tolerable.  One such seat was waiting for me (metaphorically speaking) on the 6:56 to Flatbush Avenue, which I took after arriving at Ronkonkoma on the shuttle.  Being able to ride in such relative comfort leads to a sort of mental relaxation that in turn causes normal annoyances to retreat into the background.  It did not cause me to forget that it was a Monday morning, but it did cause me to not to care too much.  If that makes any sense.  The car got moderately but not excessively crowded, which is about what would be expected in early summer, and we made it to Brooklyn without any delays. I had pretty good subway timing, walking up the stairs to the platform and onto a 4 train without breaking stride, though the car I boarded was absolutely packed.

Speaking of subways, I did something after work that turned out to be a big mistake.  Being that time wasn’t much of an issue, I got off a 3 train (which I had boarded at Fulton) at 14th Street and decided to walk the rest of the way to Penn.  Just a little variety, right?  The skies were a bit dark as I exited the station at 14th, and I could hear some far-off thunder, but I figured it would be easy to walk the 15 minutes or so to Penn before there was any actual rain.  Of course this was dead wrong.  It started to rain as I was in the mid-20’s and was coming down cats and dogs within a couple minutes.  I was able to get some shelter under awnings, and even considered taking the subway from 28th Street.  By the time I got to Penn my shirt was completely soaked, which did not make for a pleasant ride on the 5:41 to Ronkonkoma.  What didn’t help was that some SCA’s sitting near me were babbling constantly about the U.S. Open cartball tournament, which is starting this week right near the Farmingdale station.  Cartball  and the NFL, the two SCA obsessions.  Oh, as if to add insult to injury, the 40ish woman who took the seat next to me figeted constantly, to the point where I wondered if she had overdosed on Red Bull like the “vibrating” woman I had sat next to one morning a few months ago.  We got to Ronkonkoma on time, my shirt finally having dried out somewhat, although the shuttle was uncharacteristically late.  Only by a few minutes, but enough to be annoying.

Gym: At least I had a nice tough session to make up for the less-than-pleasant afternoon commuting.  I began with four 3-minute rounds on the heavy bag, the Muay Thai instructor having recommended that we get in some practice on our own.  I did two rounds of punching and two of kicking.  The kicks were front push kicks, knees, and some spinning back kicks, not the standard Muay Thai kick.  That’s because it is delivered using the shin as the striking surface, and my shins are way too battered after yesterday to even think about kicking the heavy bag.  The bag is padded, of course, but not what you’d call soft.  After the bag work I ran two miles on the treadmill at 5.7 mph.  Next came Hammer Strength MTS rows, 8 x 90/90, 8 x 95/95, 8 x 100/100, 6 x 105/105, 8 x 90/90.  This is progress over last time.  One thing I like about this machine is that it hits my biceps fairly well, and after experimenting with direct biceps work over the last couple weeks I’ve come to the conclusion that curls are hard on my elbows.  Much better to get indirect biceps work like I’m now doing.  Also, when it comes to back work in general, the free weights advantage over machines is less significant than with most other sorts of exercises.  I finished the session with kettlebell swings, 3 x 10 with the 50-pounder.

Published in: on June 16, 2009 at 3:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Sunday, June 14

Another Muay Thai session, this one about an hour shorter than the usual three hours due to a prior commitment on the instructor’s part.  There wasn’t any sparring this time, but we worked on techniques.   These included a couple of MMA moves (rear naked choke and wrist locks) that aren’t strictly part of Muay Thai.  It was brutal as usual, no doubt by tomorrow my shins will be fully purple.

Published in: on June 14, 2009 at 11:34 pm  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, June 13

Leg day today, and despite an initial lack of motivation it went fairly well.  Squats: 8 x 135, 8 x 225, 8 x 255, 8 x 275.  SLDL’s: 8 x 225, 2 x 8 x 235.  Precor leg extensions: 8 x 190, 8 x 195, 8 x 200, 8 x 205.  Life Fitness seated leg curls: 8 x 180, 8 x 192.5.  I also ran one mile on the treadmill at 5.7 mph.

Published in: on June 14, 2009 at 5:18 am  Leave a Comment  

Friday, June 12

Friday afternoon delays: especially annoying

Timing is everything when it comes to the LIRR’s ubiquitous delays.  Afternoon delays are always more annoying than morning delays.  If anything, getting to go into work a little later is a good thing.  Not so for the afternoon, especially when it’s a Friday afternoon.  In a break from my usual pattern, I drove to Ronkonkoma this morning to get the 7:32 to Penn.  It wasn’t too crowded when we left Ronkonkoma, at least not in the second car from the east end where I was riding, but a surprisingly large number of people boarded at Central Islip and Brentwood.  The seat next to me remained unoccupied, which was a cause for a bit of concern because it was likely to be taken at Deer Park … which happens to be the most SCA-ridden stop on the line except of course for Ronkonkoma itself.  Luck was on my side, however, as a woman in her late 20’s or thereabouts, who probably didn’t weigh more than 125 or 130 pounds, took the seat.  It was an easy enough ride to Penn, I noticed that the automated announcement for Farmingdale was already programmed to say that it was the stop for the U.S. Open cartball tournament (shuttle buses will run from the station parking lot to the nearby Bethpage Black course).  Next week there will be all sorts of SCA’s (not actually wearing suits, of course) jamming onto the trains, though if I recall from the last time the tournament was at that course, in 2001 or 2002, very few of them were on the rush hour trains I take.  We all know that if anything gets SCA juices flowing, it’s cartball.  Anyway, we got to Penn right on time, and I waited less than 30 seconds for a relatively uncrowded 2 train to Fulton.

Another quick ride on a 2 got me to Penn in time to catch the 5:22 to Ronkonkoma.  Penn Station was jammed, which is not surprising for a summer Friday, and the 5:22 itself was definitely trending toward cattle train territory.  It worked out okay, as I found an aisle seat next to an older, non-SCA man who wasn’t large.  What was not okay was the 10-minute delay through the Queens Village area, thanks to “signal troubles.”  On an absolute measure, a 10-minute delay is trivial, but on a relative scale, a delay of that length on a Friday afternoon seems far longer.  This isn’t quite what Einstein meant by his Theory of Relativity, but it’s the same basic idea.  I think.  Once we got going, my anger at the delay distracted me and prevented me from getting even a semi-decent game at Tetris, or so I prefer to think.

Gym: a quick session, with another go at the Hammer Strength decline press.  I’m pleased to report still more progress over last time: 8 x 300, 6 x 320, 6 x 330, 6 x 310.  At this rate I should be up to 360 pounds, eight 45-pound plates, before long.  Once I’m able to do multiple reps at 360 it might be time to return to free weight bench presses.  I also ran 1.5 miles on the treadmill at 5.7 mph.

Published in: on June 13, 2009 at 4:55 am  Leave a Comment  

Thursday, June 11

A day off work today, for a family excursion to Callie’s Candy Kitchen in the Poconos region of Pennsylvania.  It’s sort of a family tradition to make the trip each summer, though we haven’t gone in a couple of years until today.  What with commuting by train I don’t do much driving, so today’s trip of 150 miles each way was a bit of an ordeal.  I drove for about that distance last summer on a trip to Texas, from San Antonio to Laredo, but today’s drive went through a vastly busier area with vastly more traffic.  Not to mention extortionate bridge tolls: $5 each way on the Throgs Neck Bridge, $8 eastbound only on the George Washington Bridge.  But hey, the candy is worth it.  We got back in time for me to make a quick excursion to the gym, a two-mile run at 5.6 mph, making nine miles for the week ending tonight.

Published in: on June 12, 2009 at 2:18 am  Comments (2)  

Wednesday, June 10

SCA’s and youthful exuberance

Another “usual” commuting pattern in the morning, with the shuttle from Medford followed by the 7:19 express from Ronkonkoma to Penn.  Ridership seemed a bit lighter than usual on the latter train, most likely because we’re getting farther into summer vacation season.  Once schools are out in another couple of weeks there’s likely to be  a further decline.   No one sat next to me the entire way, which is always a pleasant thing to experience.  I read most of the way, and the trip seemed to go by faster than usual.  Just perception, as our arrival time at Penn was right on schedule.  I briefly considered making my way to the A train platform and seeing if I could get another ride on the Slant R-40’s, but I figured the odds of that happening again were slim and ended up taking a 2 to Fulton instead.

I had another too-long wait at Fulton Street after work, in fact it was almost ten minutes before a 3 ambled along.  It was miserably crowded and had long dwell times at each of the stops.  Fortunately there are only three stops between Fulton and Penn – Park Place, Chambers, and 14th – otherwise it would have been nearly intolerable.  Speaking of crowded, the 5:41 to Ronkonkoma was up in cattle train territory.  No summertime ridership slump in evidence!  There were a group of about ten to fifteen young people of junior-high age traveling with a couple of teachers, no doubt returning home from a field trip.  Being young, and excited, they were naturally quite noisy.  I didn’t mind at all, youthful exuberance being a good thing, but it was easy to note that several other people sitting near me, especially the SCA’s, were getting quite annoyed.  It’s okay for them to babble about cartball and the NFL, but let some young people just out of childhood be a bit loud, well that’s just not tolerable.  Schmucks.  A well-dressed woman of about 35 had taken the seat next to me, and to her credit she didn’t seem annoyed.  At least there are some decent people.  We were about seven or eight minutes late into Ronkonkoma and the shuttle, on account of a malfunctioning crossing gate in Deer Park.

Gym: a nice tough session tonight.  I started with deadlifts: 6 x 225, 6 x 275, 4 x 295, 4 x 315, 6 x 265.  Not too bad.  Next came the Hammer Strength decline press: 8 x 290, 6 x 310, 6 x 320, 6 x 270. Making progress on this.  I finished with some different back work, as I wanted a change from dumbbell rows.  I used the Hammer Strength MTS pulldown, 8 x 80/80, 8 x 85/85, 8 x 90/90, 6 x 95/95, 4 x 100/100.

Published in: on June 12, 2009 at 2:01 am  Leave a Comment