Thursday, July 30

Where was everybody?

I have completely given up trying to make sense of LIRR ridership levels.  Once again today I took the 7:04 from Ronkonkoma to Penn, after arriving on the shuttle from Medford (by the way, it’s the 7:04, not the 7:06 like I’ve been calling it).  Tuesday it was a cattle train and yesterday it was slightly more tolerable but still packed.  Today?  Even though I rode in about the same part of the train as the last couple of days, the car was practically a ghost town.  There were many, many empty seats even after the last stop at Bethpage, and I am pleased to report that the seat next to me was among them.  I cannot think of any factors that would cause such dramatic ridership number shifts within two days.  But hey, it was all good for me, and I had a very nice easy ride into Penn.  I waited less than 30 seconds for a 2 train to Fulton, making it all even better.

Lack of crowding was the afternoon’s theme too.  After arriving at Penn on a 3 from Park Place, I got the 5:41 to Ronkonkoma just like I’d done yesterday and Tuesday, but unlike those days it was not crowded in the least.  About two-thirds full, I’d say, and once again this is for around the same part of the consist as earlier.  A young, non-SCA man sat next to me as far as Hicksville but was no trouble, and for the first time in weeks I broke 100,000 on Tetris.  There was a bit of no-reason-given slow running through Brentwood, so we got to Ronkonkoma and the shuttle about five minutes late.

Gym: another dip marathon, so to speak.  Someone else was using the dip belt when I arrived, and after briefly debating whether to wait I decided to see how many plain bodyweight dips I could manage.  The answer was 90 – 9 x 10 x bodyweight.  Next week I might go for 100.  I also used the Hammer Strength MTS row, 8 x 120/120, 2 x 8 x 110/110, 2 x 8 x 105/105.

Published in: on July 31, 2009 at 7:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

Wednesday, July 28

I’m angry at myself for not getting seven

Not much to report about today’s train rides.  Ridership was lighter than yesterday, but still a bit higher than I’d expect for the summertime.  I got the shuttle from Medford, then the 7:06 from Ronkonkoma to Penn.  Waiting for the 7:19 didn’t even enter my mind, as there really weren’t many people waiting for the 7:06.  The car in which I was riding, toward the middle of the consist, was about 90% full after the last stop at Bethpage, with no standees but most, though not all, of the middle seats taken.  I sat as usual on the 2-across side, with a young man of average size taking the seat next to me at Farmingdale.  He spent almost the entire ride watching a movie on his computer, but given the angle at which he was holding the computer I couldn’t really see much of the movie.  Not that it likely would have interested me.  There weren’t any delays into Penn, and I waited no more than a minute for a 2 train to Fulton.

Crowding levels after work were similar to those in the morning.  After arriving at Penn on a 3 from Fulton – no wait – I got the 5:41 to Ronkonkoma, and once again it was about 85% full, perhaps 90%.  A woman of about 30 sat next to me and, somewhat surprisingly given that it was the afternoon, promptly conked off and didn’t wake up until we were almost at Ronkonkoma.  While the 5:41 arrived on time, the shuttle to Medford was several minutes getting underway.  I could see the conductor going into the ticket office and returning about five minutes later with a couple sheets of paper.  He walked forward along the platform, presumably giving the papers to the engineer,  I couldn’t see to be sure.  No idea what that was all about.

Gym: another round of the deadlift routine.  5 x 255, 5 x 290, 6 x 325.  I really had wanted to get seven reps at 325.  What happened is that after the sixth rep, which was quite a struggle, I decided to pause for a few seconds and adjust my grip on the bar.  Unfortunately, that brief pause was enough to throw me off-kilter a bit, so that I knew I’d never be able to make the seventh rep.  Chances are I would have gotten it had I gone for it immediately after the sixth.  In any event, I’m still doing well with the routine.  I also ran two miles at 6.2 mph, and did some Precor leg extensions: 8 x 250, 8 x 255, 8 x 260, 2 x 8 x 240.

Published in: on July 31, 2009 at 12:47 am  Leave a Comment  

Tuesday, July 28

Cattle trains, the sequel

Today was one of those rare days when I was truly surprised by ridership levels.  It’s summer, after all, when many people are on vacation, and because it wasn’t a Monday there were few if any people returning from weekend getaways in the morning.  After taking the shuttle from Medford, I boarded the 7:04 from Ronkonkoma to Penn, rather than waiting for the 7:19, because there didn’t seem to be too many people waiting on the platform.  In the five or so minutes between the time when I boarded and the we got underway, however, the car must’ve reached close to 90% capacity.  As far as I could tell nearly all of the non-middle seats and even some of the middles were taken.  The car was the third or fourth from the east end, but there’s no reason to believe it was any more crowded than the others.  Most of the people who boarded at Deer Park had to take middle seats and those who boarded at the rest of the stations had to stand.  It worked out fine for me, however, as a smallish woman of about 40 sat next to me and hardly took up any room.  The trip into Penn went by without delays and I only had to wait a minute or two for a 3 train to Fulton, though it was packed too.

After an uneventful subway trip (3 from Park Place), I arrived at Penn to an unwelcome sight – the electronic message boards were saying “residual 10- to 20-minute delays” near Mineola due to “an earlier track condition,” whatever that’s supposed to mean.  Under the first rule of LIRR mathematics, I multiplied the 10 to 20 minutes by three to yield the actual delays I was likely to encounter, in other words anywhere from a half-hour to a full hour.  Amazingly, there were no delays at all on the 5:41 to Ronkonkoma, the delays presumably having gone away in the interim.  How cool is that? By the way, the 5:41 was yet another cattle train, perhaps a hair less crowded than the morning’s train but full by any standards.  I had an aisle seat next to a 35-ish man who was a bit wider than I would have preferred but still tolerable.  Between reading and some remarkably successful Tetris-ing, the ride to Ronkonkoma and the shuttle went by very quickly.  A whole lot faster than would have been the case had the “rail condition” delays still been around!

Gym: day off

Published in: on July 29, 2009 at 8:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

Monday, July 27

Hipster alert!
Of all the demographic groups I encounter on the trains, urban hipsters are a distinctly uncommon one.  They seldom venture into the wilds of suburbia.  Today, however, I sat next to them both in the morning and the afternoon, surely a record.  Being able to go in a bit later, I drove to Ronkonkoma for the 7:32 to Penn.  While the parking lot wasn’t at all crowded, the train itself was a different story, a total cattle train.  In the car where I was riding, third from the rear of the consist, there were standees after Deer Park.  The 25-ish man who sat next to me at Deer Park had that urban hipster look about him, a look that’s hard to describe but relatively easy to identify.  Hey, he was a vast improvement over an SCA.  Had he boarded at Ronkonkoma I would have figured he was a city dweller (especially from Williamsburgh, hipster central) who had spent the weekend in the Hamptons, but that wouldn’t be likely as he boarded at Deer Park and in any event had no luggage.  I spent most of the time reading (Title Shot, by Kelly Crigger) and unlike Friday’s trip on the 7:32 we got to Penn on time.  No subway troubles, as I boarded a 3 train to Fulton after waiting less than a minute).

The subway after work was less satisfactory, as though I boarded a 2 train at Fulton after just a couple minutes’ wait the conductor must have been LIRR-trained as he/she waited at least 15 seconds to open the doors at each stop.  Subway conductors generally open the doors almost as soon as the trains come to a stop.  I got the 5:41 to Ronkonkoma, finding an aisle seat on the crowded train next to a different 20-something man who once again had that hipster look about him.  I was half-expecting him to be drinking from a can of PBR.  Once again I read, and also had a surprisingly good game of Tetris.

Gym: some decent upper-body work with a bit of treadmill running.  Dips: 10 x bodyweight + 45, 10 x bodyweight + 50, 10 x bodyweight + 55, (later) 3 x 10 x bodyweight.  Hammer Strength MTS rows: 8 x 120/120, 3 x 8 x 110/110.  My knees were still a bit sore but I managed to run 1.5 miles on the treadmill at 6.2 mph, enough to make my weekly six-mile quota.

Published in: on July 28, 2009 at 3:31 am  Leave a Comment  

Sunday, July 26

Because of other scheduled thing I knew I’d have to miss today’s Muay Thai lesson.  I got the gym around 11:30 and tried without too much success to run.  As my knees were still a bit sore from yesterday’s leg extensions, I only managed one mile, at 6.2 mph.  That’s not much, but not a total loss.  I then ellipted for 20 minutes, figuring it would be some decent exercise with less joint impact.  Oh, as for the Muay Thai lesson, the instructor didn’t show, second week in a row.  Most likely he’s pulled the plug on them, not surprising given the low turnout.  Oh well, they were fun when they lasted.

Published in: on July 28, 2009 at 3:17 am  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, July 25

Today wasn’t a particularly successful Leg Day.  My energy level was so low it took a lot of effort to go to the gym at all.  I decided to skip squats and SLDL’s and do machine work instead.  Precor leg extensions: 8 x 240, 8 x 245, 8 x 250, 8 x 255, 8 x 260.  One good thing: I’ve now reached the machine’s maximum capacity of 260 pounds.  Life Fitness leg curls: 8 x 190, 8 x 185, 2 x 8 x 200.

Published in: on July 27, 2009 at 4:10 am  Leave a Comment  

Friday, July 24

Stretching across three

After more than ten years of riding the LIRR, I never thought I’d see anything new … hadn’t I seen everything already?  Not quite.  Today marked a fabulous first.  Being able to go in a bit later than usual, I drove to Ronkonkoma for the 7:32 to Penn.  In yet another example of the summertime ridership slump’s here-one-day-gone-the-next fluctuation, the south side parking lot wasn’t at all crowded when I arrived about 7:20.  I got a seat in the third car from the east end, and watched as the car slowly filled.  A minute or so before we got underway, an enormous man (at least 450 to 500 pounds) came down the aisle, so wide he could barely fit.  He sat in the 3-across side and his bulk actually stretched across all three seats!  Granted, the M-7 seats were designed to fit midget anorectic quadruple amputees, but I’ve never before seen anyone require three of them.  And I’m also mildly surprised he didn’t try to sit next to me (heh).  Despite the seeming lack of people at Ronkonkoma the car actually filled up quite a bit at the other stations.  A woman in her 30’s sat next to me at Deer Park and spent almost the entire trip fiddling with her Black Berry.  I read most of the way and had a couple mediocre attempts at Tetris.  We got into Penn about five minutes late due to some delays through Jamaica.  The conductor (presumably) explained the reason for the delay as it was happening, but of course the PA system was at such a low volume it was almost impossible to hear what he was saying.  At least I had no significant wait for a 3 train to Fulton.

I worked through lunch so I could leave early enough to get the always-uncrowded 5:01 to Ronkonkoma.  As things turned out I just barely made it, thanks to a wait of several minutes for a 2 train at Park Place.  No announcements on the station PA, of course.  The 5:01 was a bit more crowded than usual, though still quite empty compared to most any other rush hour train, and not so crowded than anyone sat next to me.  I had an easy ride to Ronkonkoma to end the week, and even had a couple semi-decent games on Tetris.

Gym: some nice running.  I started out running 2.5 miles on the treadmill, 6.2 mph for the first 1.5 miles and 6.1 mph for the last mile.  After a break of about five minutes, I went back and ran one more mile, this one at 6.0 mph, for a total of 3.5 miles.

Published in: on July 25, 2009 at 2:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

Thursday, July 23

The Look of Love

It really shouldn’t be surprising.  As best I can remember I haven’t gotten the Look of Love in several weeks or even months, and it was bound to happen eventually.  Today it occurred on the 7:04 from Ronkonkoma to Penn, which I boarded after arriving on the shuttle from Medford.  The crowding on the platform waiting for the 7:04 was less than on Tuesday, though a shade higher than yesterday, and I figured I might as well take it rather than wait for the 7:19.  It was at Deer Park, the first stop after Ronkonkoma, when I had my encounter with the Look of Love.  A woman in her mid-20’s came down the aisle, stopped next to me, put her bag in the overhead rack, started to sit in the aisle seat next to me … and then, upon getting  a look at me, immediately got up, retrieved her bag, and went to sit elsewhere.  True, there was no actual rump-seat contact, her downward progress having stopped about an inch short of said contact, but the bag in the overhead rack is a detail not typically found in these scenarios.  By having to retrieve her bag, she really must have wanted to go elsewhere after getting a good look at me.  Of course my ego dropped like a stone, though the only saving grace was that a relatively slim older man took the seat moments later.  Usually, when I’m Look of Loved, an elephantine SCA takes the seat.  I spent the rest of the ride into Penn trying to figure out just what it is about me that scares off younger women.  No, I don’t have any ideas.  At least we got to Penn on time, the car being pretty full by then, and I waited less than 30 seconds for a 2 train to Fulton.

As it was raining after work I entered the subway on the western, Broadway end of the station complex, which requires me to walk along the A/C Broadway-Nassau platform to get to the 2/3 Fulton platform.  As I was walking along the first platform an A train pulled into the station, so ended up taking it to Penn.  The ride wasn’t too bad, despite the additional stops as compared to the 2/3, unfortunately what was very, very low on the pleasantness scale was the sloping passageway that leads from the Eighth Avenue subway station at Penn to the LIRR concourse.  There was a foul smell of raw sewage (can there be a non-foul smell of raw sewage), so bad that some people were looking a bit green around the gills.  My first thought was that a skell had been, ahem, untidy, but the stench permeated too big of an area for that to have been a likely explanation.  It was probably a leaking sewer somewhere.  With great relief I finally made it into the LIRR concourse, which while scarcely a paragon of cleanliness and pleasant scents, was absolutely wonderful in comparison.  I ended up taking the 5:41 to Ronkonkoma, which once again was quite crowded.  It’s hard to figure out what to make of the summertime slump.  An average-sized man of about 40 sat next to me, but got off at Hicksville with no one taking his place. I spent most of the time reading, and because the rain was getting heavy had the opportunity to get quite wet changing to the shuttle at Ronkonkoma and running to my car at Medford.

Gym:  I really wanted to do weighted dips, unfortunately the dip belt was nowhere to be seen.  I was able to find a different belt, but because it was missing the chain used for hanging weights it was useless for anything.  I ended up having to do regular, bodyweight dips, but at least I did a lot of them: 8 x 10, yes, a total of 80 reps.  They were very easy at first, but the last couple of sets were a struggle.  I then did kettlebell swings, 4 x 10 with a 50-pounder.  Having already reached by weekly 6-mile quota, 6.5 miles to be precise, I didn’t do any more running, not being in the mood for it.

Published in: on July 24, 2009 at 7:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

Wednesday, July 22

A mad scramble

Today got off to an amusing start.  Just as I pulled into the parking lot at Medford the station PA was announcing that the train to Ronkonkoma was eight minutes late.  No big deal, I think, I’ll just wait in my car and read for a bit.  Right at 6:42, the train’s normal departure time, two things happened: the PA announces that the train is running on time, and I see the train pulling up to the platform.  I had to scramble like crazy to gather my stuff and go running up the stairs to the platform.  Why the train would have gone from eight minutes late to on-time, I can’t imagine.  It’s more likely that the original announcement had been wrong.  Once at Ronkonkoma, I got the 7:04 to Penn, instead of waiting for the 7:19, because the crowding on the platform seemed much less than yesterday.  The train itself was far from crowded, at least in the mid-consist car where I rode, with the seat next to me staying empty until a tall but thin young man took it at Bethpage, the last stop before Penn.  Why ridership levels could differ so much from one day to the next is yet another mystery of the LIRR.  We got to Penn on time, and for some variety I got an A train rather than the 2/3.  In fact, a train pulled into the station just as I got to the platform, and stairway arrangements being what they are it meant that I was riding in the lead car of the A.  It’s more convenient to my workplace to be in the last car.  What I decided to do was get off at Chambers Street, as then being in the lead car made sense.

I returned to the usual routine after work and got a 2 train from Fulton to Penn.  While I could have made the 5:22 to Ronkonkoma had I hustled a bit, I decided to take my time and get the 5:41 instead.  Taking the earlier train would’ve just meant more waiting at Ronkonkoma.  The 5:41 was surprisingly crowded, it being summer, though the air conditioned car was a huge relief after being on the steamy hot platform.  There’s not much to say about the ride to Ronkonkoma, as there weren’t any delays and an average-sized 40ish woman sat next to me and wasn’t annoying.  I tried playing a couple games of Tetris but couldn’t manage anything decent.  I finally had some luck while playing on the shuttle, but naturally enough had to end the game because we got to Medford.

Gym: another installment of the 5-5-7 deadlift routine, with more progress – 5 x 245, 5 x 280, 7 x 315.  This seems like a weird routine, what with only 17 reps, but getting seven at 315 is very good, so I’m not about to complain.  I then ran one mile on the treadmill at 6.2 mph, getting my weekly quota.  Next came Hammer Strength MTS rows, 8 x 115/115, 8 x 110/110, 2 x 8 x 105/105, (later) 2 x 8 x 105/105.  I also did Precor leg extensions, 8 x 230, 8 x 235, 8 x 240, 8 x 245.

Published in: on July 23, 2009 at 7:54 pm  Comments (2)  

Tuesday, July 21

Rump consistency

Got the shuttle from Medford today, and then the 7:19 from Ronkonkoma to Penn.  Taking the 6:56 to Flatbush Avenue wasn’t an option because it was using M-7’s today, and there looked to be a big mob of people waiting for the 7:04.  It turned out that the 7:19 also was a cattle train.  For some reason, the summertime ridership slump was not in evidence today.  I got a window seat on the 7:19 and moments later a 30ish woman sat next to me.  She was definitely wide-bottomed, with rump tissue pushing up against me, but it was no big deal because the aforesaid rump tissue was soft and squishy.  Had it been as firm as on the woman who (briefly) sat next to me yesterday, it would have been an unpleasant tight squeeze for me.  No, I do not care to speculate why two different women of about the same size were so different in that respect.  There weren’t any delays, and I spent most of the ride reading.  I waited just a minute or two for a 3 train to Fulton.  What was a bit unusual is that when I got out of the subway at Fulton, it was raining heavily, so after getting something from a deli right by the entrance (at the corner of Fulton and William streets) I went back into the subway – no extra cost as I have an unlimited ride Metro Card – and walked underground through the station complex for two blocks, exiting at Fulton and Broadway.  That’s much closer to my workplace and I didn’t get soaked.

It wasn’t raining any more when I left work, so I walked to Park Place and got a 2 train to Penn.  I then got the 5:41 to Ronkonkoma, an easy ride with an average-sized woman of about 35 taking the seat next to me just before departure.  The train was moderately crowded, though a bit short of the morning’s cattle train.  I tried reading but couldn’t really get into it, so I played Tetris most of the way.  It was pouring rain when we got to Ronkonkoma, so I got quite wet in the 50 or so feet to the shuttle.

Gym: day off.

Published in: on July 22, 2009 at 3:20 am  Leave a Comment