Sunday, August 30

Today’s session was a classic good news/bad news situation.  As for the good news, I had some very decent SLDL’s: 8 x 235, 8 x 245, 8 x 255, 6 x 255.  Couldn’t quite get eight reps on the last set, but that’s a minor setback.  Being still a bit sore from Thursday’s squats, I decided to do some trap bar deadlifts instead of more squats: 8 x 225, 8 x 245, 8 x 265.  Doing heavy squats more than once  a week might be a bit too much, so doing trap bar deadlifts is a reasonable substitute.  I finished with bodyweight dips (the dip bar is still MIA), 4 x 15.

As for the bad news, I just couldn’t get motivated to run on the treadmill.  With three days of my Friday-Thursday quota week over, I’ve run only one mile, with five to go to reach my quota.

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Published in: on August 31, 2009 at 7:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, August 29

Not much of a session today, as I was still quite sore from Thursday’s squats.  I ran just one mile at 5.8 mph, putting me a bit behind schedule for meeting the weekly quota.  At least my neutral grip pull-ups went fine, 2 x 8, 4 x 6.

Published in: on August 30, 2009 at 11:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

Friday, August 28

Dull is nice

Today was a boring day on the rails, and that’s just the way I like it.  If it hadn’t been boring, it would have been less than pleasant, as pleasant surprises and the LIRR are two things that should never be mentioned in the same sentence.  Once again I drove to Ronkonkoma for the 7:32 to Penn.  It was moderately crowded, nothing out of the ordinary, and there weren’t any delays.  A 40ish woman took the seat next to me at Deer Park and wasn’t any bother.  While there were some relatively noisy people in the car, unlike yesterday I had my trusty iPod with me and was able to drown out any extraneous noise.  I waited a couple of minutes for a 3 train to Park Place, though in an example of less-optimal timing it started raining heavily just as I left the station.  The 4-block walk to my workplace seemed like it was about three times that long, and as (bad) luck would have it there were very few awnings or scaffolds along the way to help provide a bit of respite from the rain.

It wasn’t raining any longer by the time I left work, and on my walk to Fulton for a 2 train was a dry one.  The 5:22 to Ronkonkoma wasn’t crowded at all, in fact no one sat next to me the entire way.  I was able to read and play Tetris without being squashed.  A man in his 50’s must’ve boarded the wrong train, and spent a couple of minutes pleading with the conductor to stop at Mineola so he could get off.  If he had to ride to the first scheduled stop at Wyandanch and backtrack it would take well over an hour. The conductor didn’t sound too sympathetic, but in fact the train stopped for a few moments at Mineola.  Despite the extra stop we got to Ronkonkoma a minute or two ahead of schedule.

Gym: other things to do, so a day off

Published in: on August 30, 2009 at 11:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

Thursday, August 27

Odd numbers

Strange.  I took the same trains today as I did yesterday, sitting in around the same parts of the consists, and yet ridership seemed notably less. Can’t explain why. The car on the 7:32 wasn’t more than a third full when we left Ronkonkoma and never got much beyond two-thirds full.  I thought for a while that no one would sit next to me, but a chubby woman in her 30’s took the seat at Wyandanch.  What with the soft, flowing nature of women’s rump tissue, the aforesaid rump tissue pushed into me a bit, but not to an annoying sense.  What I was most thankful for is that other riders in the car were quiet, as I’d left my iPod at home.  I was able to get quite a bit of reading done and the ride went by quickly enough.  I waited no more than a minute for a 3 train to Fulton, and actually got a seat, though on the downside there was a faint but unpleasant smell in the car. No idea what it was, except that it didn’t seem to be the typical skell odor.

I had an odor-free ride on a 2 from Park Place after work.  With a bit of time to spare, I went to a vendor at the corner of 33rd and 8th who sells barbecued meat on a stick.  He’s one of the better food vendors in the area, admittedly the competition isn’t what you’d call strong.  In any event, there were at least a hundred girls in the (roughly) 12 to 16 age range hanging around the stage entrance to Madison Square Garden near the corner, presumably hoping to catch a glimpse of Taylor Swift on her way into a concert.  Many of the girls were wearing the rather strange combination of (almost indecently) short shorts and cowboy boots.  A decade ago, there probably would’ve been similar crowds for the Spice Girls, though maybe without the cowboy boots.  In any event, I got the 5:22 to Ronkonkoma, which was even less crowded than the morning’s train, in fact no one sat next to me the entire way.  There were some rather loud cell phone talkers in the car, I really missed my iPod, fortunately the ride went by quickly.

Gym: I was very pleased with tonight’s session.  It started out with the deadlift routine, 5 x 255, 5 x 295, 7 x 315. Right on the very first rep at 255 I knew it was going to go well.  Next came yet more neutral grip pull-ups, 4 x 5.  I’ve done them three days in a row, pull-ups being one of the relatively few exercises that can be done so frequently.  I ended the session with squats, getting good depth on all of them: 8 x 225, 8 x 265, 8 x 285, (wraps on) 8 x 305, (wraps off) 8 x 255.

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

Wednesday, August 26

Is summer over?

It sure seems that way, if train ridership levels are any guide.  It’s my definite impression that the summertime ridership slump has ended and the trains are back to normal crowding levels.  I was able to go in a little later today, and drove to Ronkonkoma for the 7:32 to Penn.  I rode in the fourth car from the east end, and at least half the seats were full even before we left Ronkonkoma.  By the time we got to Jamaica all the middle seats were full and there were a handful of standees.  One demographic shift was still in evidence, with well over half of the riders being women, as far as I could tell.  It’ll be interesting to see if the gender shift persists after summer’s officially over.  A woman in her mid-20’s took the seat next to me just before we left Ronkonkoma and was no bother at all, it was one of those situations where I scarcely took notice of her presence.  That would definitely not be the case with an elephantine SCA.  I read more of The Match and the ride went by quickly, even given all the stops the 7:32 makes. The wait for a 3 train to Park Place was well in excess of what’s acceptable for rush hour, close to ten minutes by my estimate, and it goes without saying that the station PA remained silent.  Not that any announcements would have been comprehensible, of course.  The ride to Park Place was miserably crowded, though the station escalator that had been out of service last week was working again.  Clearly a record for subway escalator repairs.  As of about a year ago, an escalator at Borough Hall station in Brooklyn had been broken for more than two years, in fact it may still be kaput.

I had a much better subway trip after work, with a very short wait at Fulton Street for a not-crowded 2 to Penn.  The 5:22 from Penn to Ronkonkoma was moderately crowded, with some but not all of the middle seats taken in the mid-consist car where I rode.  It’s difficult to say how this compared to non-summer ridership because I haven’t taken this train too often in recent months.  Once again there was a high proportion of women, if not quite to the extent of the morning’s train, and a middle-aged woman sat next to me.  She did quite a bit of cell phone yakking, but my iPod mitigated the assault on my eardrums.  Besides, she was one of the very rare train riders who talks on the phone at a normal volume, instead of bellowing as most people do.  I played a couple games of Tetris, without too much luck, and read a bit more.  We got to Ronkonkoma right on time.

Gym: a two-mile run on the treadmill at 5.8 mph, making my weekly 6-mile quota, and then some neutral grip pull-ups, 5 x 5.  I’ve really been building up the numbers on these.

Published in: on August 27, 2009 at 3:56 am  Leave a Comment  

Tuesday, August 25

Getting busier

I was surprised at the crowding on the trains today.  While they weren’t quite back to non-summer ridership levels, they were definitely past the lower point of the summertime slump.  It makes sense, as most people are done with their summer vacations. I got the shuttle from Medford as usual, then the 7:04 from Ronkonkoma to Penn.  Platform crowding was such that I almost decided to wait for the 7:19.  The mid-consist car on the 7:04 where I rode was pretty much SRO after the last stop at Bethpage, even the middle seats were occupied.  A 40ish man wearing workingman’s clothes and carrying a tool bag took the seat next to me at Deer Park.  He wasn’t small, probably somewhere north of 200 pounds, but did not infringe on my space at all.  I did more reading, and the ride to Penn went by without delays.  I didn’t have to wait long for a 3 train to Fulton, but like yesterday’s subway the air conditioning was desultory at best.

My after-work subway ride, on a 2 from Park Place, was a good news/bad news situation.  The good news is that the AC was nice and cool, the bad news is that it was hugely crowded and I spent most of the (mercifully short) ride crushed up against other people.  Blecch.  The 5:41 to Ronkonkoma was crowded, if not quite to the morning train’s level, with about half of the middle seats taken as far as I can tell.  One amusing thing is that while waiting on the platform, I could clearly see a text message on the iPhone of a woman standing in front of me; the sender had written “at Wal-Mart buying antifreeze, using weed money” (emphasis mine).  Guess someone won’t be having a fun night, though at least their car will be winterized.  Speaking of weed, the young hippie-ish woman who sat next to me looked as if she wasn’t entirely unacquainted with that particular substance, though of course I’m stereotyping a wee bit.  The ride to Ronkonkoma and the shuttle went by quickly, no delays like yesterday.

Gym: decent upper-body work.  I wanted to do weighted dips, but the dip belt was nowhere to be seen and I had to do bodyweight ones.  At least I did a lot of them, 90 reps to be precise, 6 x 15.  I also did neutral grip pull=ups, 4 x 6, 4 x 4.

Published in: on August 26, 2009 at 2:44 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, August 24

I thought it would be a longer delay

This summer’s SCA-free theme continued today, with the 7:04 from Ronkonkoma to Penn, which I got after arriving on the shuttle from Medford, being full of women and normal men.  Hardly a suit and tie to be seen.  It was actually quite crowded, at least in the mid-consist car where I rode.  A mid-/late-30’s woman took the seat next to me at Deer Park and spent most of the ride reading a trashy romance novel.  As I’ve noted before, in a way it’s amusing that such downscale “literature” appeals even to women who, given the cost and inconvenience of train commuting, most likely have well-paying, responsible jobs.  I did some reading myself, The Match by Mark Frost, and tried a couple games of Tetris without notable success.  There weren’t any delays into Penn, and I waited only a minute or so for a not-too-crowded 3 train to Fulton.

Getting home was rather less pleasant if not nearly as bad as it could have been.  To start with, I had a rather lengthy wait for a 3 train at Fulton, and when the train finally arrived it was hugely crowded.  To make matters worse, the air conditioning in the car where I was riding was barely functional.  Had it been less crowded I would have exited the car at Park Place or Chambers and moved to another one.  So severe was the crowding, however, that I feared I wouldn’t be able to board another car (which itself might not have functional AC), an issue because time was getting a bit tight.  So I endured an unpleasant ride to Penn, only to find that the 5:41 to Ronkonkoma was itself nearly at cattle train crowding levels.  There were few except middle seats available.  I finally found an aisle seat next to a woman of around 40, who unfortunately kept turning around (I don’t know why) and bumping into me in the process.  Just after we emerged from the tunnels, we came to a stop, and after a few minutes the conductor announced that there were “switch problems” ahead of us.  Avoiding the malfunctioning switch would require a reverse move back toward Penn so we could switch to a different track. In a reverse move, the lead conductor goes to the rearmost car and takes the controls located in that car (LIRR electric cars are in two-car sets with controls on opposite ends of each car in the set).  Reverse moves are rare but not unprecedented, unfortunately they tend to be quite time-consuming.  That didn’t happen today, with only about 15 minutes being lost, and as sometimes happens we made up about five minutes on that time en route and got to Ronkonkoma and the shuttle ten minutes late.

Gym: day off tonight.

Postscript to the ticket problem: after a long wait on hold I finally got to speak to an LIRR ticketing representative.  She wasn’t one of the top candidates for Miss Congeniality at the last Miss America pageant.  It turns out that the amount withheld from my pay for the Mail & Ride tickets had been about $20 too low each month for about a year and a half.  I’m not sure whether the LIRR or my work’s payroll department is responsible.  The LIRR finally caught onto this and applied the withholding that should have been applied to my September ticket to the shortfall.  This means I’ll have to shell out over $300 for September’s ticket. Ugh.  Granted, it really isn’t an overall financial loss, due to the 18 months of under-withholding, but it’s still annoying.  According to the phone rep at least, I could have discovered the shortfall earlier had I examined the statement which accompanies each month’s ticket in the mail – something I never actually did. I’ll have to speak to the payroll people about increasing the withholding, and you can be sure that from now on I’ll check each statement very carefully.

Published in: on August 25, 2009 at 4:12 am  Comments (2)  

Sunday, August 23

Today may set a dubious record for the lamest gym session in months if not years.  I had very low energy and some lingering aches, so the squats and SLDL’s I should have done remained un-done.  All I could manage was a measely one-mile run on the treadmill at 5.8 mph.  Better than nothing, but barely.

Published in: on August 24, 2009 at 4:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, August 22

Saturday is usually Leg Day, but today was an exception.  As I had done squats (and deadlifts) on Thursday, I was a bit too muscle-sore to squat today.  I ended up having a short session, a one-mile run on the treadmill at 5.8 mph followed by neutral grip pull-ups, 5 x 5.

Published in: on August 23, 2009 at 11:54 pm  Leave a Comment  

Friday, August 21

The SCA drought continues

Being a men’s suitmaker in today’s economy must not be particularly pleasant.  It wasn’t so long ago that Ronkonkoma trains were a veritable sea of suits.  Today, not remotely so.  This was illustrated quite well on the trains today, with SCA’s few and far between.  Not that I’m complaining, or anything.  I drove to Ronkonkoma and got the 7:19 to Penn.  It was surprisingly crowded, with most of the non-middle seats taken before we left the station.  But with normal people, that’s the point.  A woman in her early 30’s or thereabouts took the seat next to me, but made so little impression on me – thanks to no annoying behavior – that an hour after getting off the train I couldn’t even think of what she looked like.  I spent most of the ride reading, and it went by quickly without any delays.  I had a rather long wait for a 2 train to Park Place, close to ten minutes, and when I finally got there, the long escalator leading up from the deep platform was out of service.  So typical.

It was starting to rain when I left work, so I entered the subway close to my workplace. Using this entrance requires walking along the A/C platform in order to reach the 2/3 section, and as I was doing so a C ambled into the station. Despite my dislike of the Eighth Avenue line this was too easy an opportunity to ignore.  I’ll have to admit, the train wasn’t particularly crowded, I had no trouble finding a seat, and the dwell times at the stations were not inordinately long.  I’ll still stick with the 2/3, however, as in most cases the waits on the A/C are just too long.  Once at Penn I got the 5:22 to Ronkonkoma.  Taking this train when I’m using the Medford shuttle is not advisable because it’s not a guaranteed connection to the shuttle.  Of course that didn’t matter today, what with my car in Ronkonkoma.  It was quite crowded, and more to the point noisy.  Being a summer Friday there were quite a few weekend getaway-type riders in the car, which means they were traveling in groups rather than alone like most commuters.  That, in turn, means talking, and for some reason today much of the talking was very loud talking.  Even with my iPod much of the racket could be heard.  The ride otherwise wasn’t any trouble, with a 30ish woman taking the seat next to me and, like her morning’s counterpart, being quiet and non-squirmy and basically making no impression on me whatsoever.  Noise or not, at least the ride went by quickly.

Postscript: when I got home, there was a letter from the LIRR stating that my September mail-and-ride monthly ticket wasn’t issued because the amount paid (via paycheck withholding) was $18 short. This presumably was because the withholding amount hadn’t been adjusted in time for the recent fare increase.  Had there been no withholding at all I would just buy a ticket for September, but the fact that the LIRR has my money (less $18) means I’m going to have to call their mail-and-ride department on Monday to square things out.  A process which, I am reasonably sure, will involve a great deal of time and hassle.

Gym: I ran two miles on the treadmill at 5.8 mph, and then did bodyweight dips. A lot of bodyweight dips to be accurate, a total of 80 reps: 5 x 12, 2 x 10.

Published in: on August 23, 2009 at 2:56 am  Leave a Comment