Thursday, August 20

I’ve never appreciated summer so much

I’m generally not a summer-type person.  Beaches and boating and swimming don’t much appeal to me, and I hate hot, humid weather.  Give me a nice crisp autumn day or even a nice winter snowfall.  Even so, I’m really liking this summer and will be quite sorry to see it end.  It’s all due to train ridership, of course.  The summertime ridership slump started slowly this year, but has now arrived in full force.  Today’s a perfect example.  After arriving on the shuttle from Medford, I got the 7:04 from Ronkonkoma to Penn, which is a train I normally avoid due to egregious overcrowding.  Not today.  No one sat next to me for the entire ride into Penn, which under normal circumstances is several dimensions beyond unimaginable.  I could actually enjoy the ride, spending it reading for the most part.  We actually seemed to arrive in Penn a couple minutes ahead of schedule.  For no real reason, I used the passageway on the south side of the LIRR concourse – a remnant of the original Penn station that somehow survived its demolition in the 1960’s – to get to the subway station, instead of the entrance closer to the ticket windows.  There were four unspeakably foul skells lying on the floor in the passageway, within a distance of no more than 25 or 30 feet.  A couple of them almost looked dead, in fact it wouldn’t totally surprise me if they were dead.  I waited maybe three or four minutes for a 2 train to Fulton, and to my mild surprise actually had a seat.

A quick ride on the 3 from Park Place got me to Penn in ample time for the 5:41 to Ronkonkoma.  There were some track changes being announced, but the 5:41 was on its usual Track 19.  The train wasn’t quite as empty as the morning’s train but was still well below normal ridership levels.  I thought for a while that I’d have another empty seat next to me, but a non-SCA man of about 35 took the seat a minute or two before departure.  He spent most of the ride reading a Bible, Exodus in particular, which was slightly unusual because he was South Asian, not the sort of ethnic background normally associated with devout Christianity.  I did something decidedly less holy, namely playing Tetris, though my scores were not particularly good.  We got to Ronkonkoma and the shuttle right on time.

Gym: I should have done an installment of my deadlift routine yesterday, but due to other things hadn’t been able to go to the gym, so I had to do it a day late tonight.  Deadlifts: 5 x 245, 5 x 285, 6 x 315.  I’d been planning to get seven at 315, but the sixth rep just didn’t feel right and I decided against going for a seventh. I also did neutral grip pull-ups, 5 x 5, (later) 4 x 4, and squats, 8 x 225, 8 x 265, 8 x 285.

Published in: on August 21, 2009 at 3:55 am  Leave a Comment  

Wednesday, August 19

The SCA drought continues

I’m really getting to like this situation.  After years of dealing with at least three or four SCA’s per week, lately I’ve hardly had any plopping next to me.  Today was yet another example.  After getting the shuttle from Medford, I got the 7:04 from Ronkonkoma to Penn, once again not too crowded.  A normal man – yes, one wearing ordinary clothing – sat next to me at Farmingdale, and being a normal man he was much lighter than the typical beefy SCA.  I got some reading done, and we got to Penn on time. About the only downside is that I had a fairly long wait for a 2 train to Fulton and it was absolutely packed when it finally arrived.

I found out that I was going to get picked up in Hicksville after work, so after a quick ride on a 3 from Park Place I got the 5:17 Huntington train.  It was quite crowded, though I’m not sure if it’s always that way or if today was somehow unusual.  A slim young woman sat next to me and didn’t take up too much space.  The ride to Hicksville is considerably shorter than to Ronkonkoma, and it’s a pleasant change.

Gym: other things intervened, so a day off tonight.

Published in: on August 20, 2009 at 3:28 am  Leave a Comment  

Tuesday, August 18

Feed me!

Definitely no space squeeze on the train today.  After taking the shuttle from Medford, I then got the 7:04 from Ronkonkoma to Penn.  Once the summer’s over I probably won’t be taking the 7:04 all that much, as it’ll be back to its normal cattle-train status.  The seat next to me stayed empty until Farmingdale, when a young woman sat in it.  Not that I was particularly aware of her presence, for despite being quite tall she was skinny, I mean really skinny.  Her arms and legs were like twigs.  It’s a good thing I didn’t have any food with me, as I probably would have insulted her by offering her some.  If an elephantine SCA fell onto a sawmill blade and got cut in half, each portion would still far outweigh her. There weren’t any delays into Penn, and once there I waited no more than 30 seconds for a 3 train to Fulton.

Getting home wasn’t quite as easy.  The wait for a 2 train at Fulton wasn’t too bad, and I actually had a seat, and on the 5:41 to Ronkonkoma a 40ish woman who weighed considerably more than her morning’s counterpart but still far, far less than an SCA sat next to me.  Speaking of SCA’s, my prior demographic observations still apply.  Compared to a year ago, the trains appear to have more women and more normal men, and a lot fewer SCA’s. What wasn’t so good is that we got into Ronkonkoma several minutes late – slow running through the Queens Village area – and then had to wait more than 10 minutes for the Hunterspoint Avenue train to arrive (it should have arrived several minutes before us).  To make matters worse, the Hunterspoint train used the north side track at Ronkonkoma rather than the now-free south track, which in turn meant that the shuttle had to wait until it cleared out and headed to the yards.  I finally got to Medford almost 15 minutes late.  Oh, there never were any explanations offered.

Gym: I ran 1.5 miles at my reduced speed of 5.6 mph, making my weekly 6-mile quota.  I also did some neutral grip pull-ups, 1 x 7, 1 x 6, 5 x 5.

Published in: on August 19, 2009 at 3:34 am  Comments (3)  

Monday, August 17

Getting the 5:01 once more

All in all, not too bad of a day. Like on Friday, I drove to Ronkonkoma for the 7:32 to Penn; unlike on Friday, I did not have an empty seat next to me.  I was riding in the easternmost car in the consist and it actually got quite crowded even before we left the station.  A 40-something woman sat next to me and despite being rather wide-bottomed was not troublesome.  Such infringement into my space as may have occurred involved soft rump tissue (SRT) which, as I have previously noted, has an ability to bend around obstacles (i.e. me) rather than press hard up against them.  My recent observations about the changes in ridership demographics were borne out quite well by the occupants of the car.  There was a mixture of women and casually dressed men, with SCA’s being few and far between.  I spent most of the ride reading, and we got to Penn right on time.  The wait for a 3 train to Fulton was just a minute or two, the kerfuffle on the 1 line in upper Manhattan – part of the ceiling in one of the stations actually collapsed – having occurred north of the point where the 1 diverges from the 2 and 3 and therefore having no effect on the latter two.  1 train service, as you might imagine, was a different story.

I worked through lunch hour and left in what I thought would be ample time to get the always-uncrowded 5:01 to Ronkonkoma.  Well, I made it, but just barely, thanks to a long wait for a 2 train at Park Place.  It was close to ten minutes, which is almost unheard-of for the 2 and 3 in the afternoon, of course there were no announcements.  When the train finally arrived, it also was the proverbial cattle train, which is what I’d been expecting.  I got on the 5:01 no more than a minute before departure.  That would have meant no seats (well, except middle seats, which I refuse to take) on just about any other train, but on the wonderfully uncrowded 5:01 it meant my choice of seats and no one sitting next to me the whole way.  We were ten minutes late getting into Ronkonkoma due to some slow running between Mineola and Hicksville.  There were no announcements on the train, it was only after getting off the train at Ronkonkoma that I heard the station PA announcing a reason (the dog ate my homework-ish “signal problems”)  Why no on-train announcement?  I really, really wish I knew the answer. Guess “typical LIRR incompetence” will have to do.

Gym: Some pretty good dips, 10 x bodyweight + 50, 10 x bodyweight + 55, 10 x bodyweight + 60, (later) 4 x 12 x bodyweight.  I tried some at bodyweight + 65 but it didn’t happen.  In between the weighted and unweighted dips I ran one mile at 5.8 mph, not much of a distance but all I really wanted to do after yesterday’s 3.5 miles.

Published in: on August 18, 2009 at 3:20 am  Leave a Comment  

Sunday, August 16

Today was running day at the gym.  I decided to reduce my speed a bit below the 6.2 mph I’ve been using recently, in hopes of getting more distance, and will try to bring it up in increments over the next few weeks.  In any event, I did 2.5 miles at 5.9 mph for the first 1.5 miles and 5.8 mph for the last mile.  After about a 10-minute break I then did one more mile at 5.6 mph, for a total of 3.5 miles.  I also did some neutral grip pull-ups, 5 x 4.

Published in: on August 17, 2009 at 3:47 am  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, August 15

Decent leg and back work.  A total of 30 neutral grip pull-ups, 3 x 6, (later) 3 x 4.  Another new record on SLDL’s, 8 x 245, 8 x 255, 8 x 265, 8 x 245.  Squats were the one thing that didn’t go particularly well, most likely because I’d done some on Wednesday.  I only managed three sets, 8 x 225, 8 x 255, 8 x 275.  After doing the last few pull-up sets, mindful of the less-than-inspiring squats performance, I did a couple sets of trap bar deadlifts, 8 x 225, 8 x 265.  They’re not called “reverse squats” for nothing.

Published in: on August 16, 2009 at 5:03 am  Leave a Comment  

Friday, August 14

I’m not going to complain

Today was one of those vanishingly rare days when commuting was actually pretty decent. Being able to go in a bit later than usual, I skipped the shuttle and drove to Ronkonkoma for the 7:32 to Penn. It was the first time I rode that train in a while, and while it’s usually fairly busy today was a definite exception. The car in which I rode, the fourth from the east end, never got more than about two-thirds full and, even better, no one sat next to me the entire way into Penn. Yay. I didn’t mind having to wait several minutes for a crowded 2 train to Park Place. Being crowded on a five-minute subway ride is vastly preferable to being crowded on an hour-plus train ride.

I took only a few minutes for lunch and left in time to catch the 5:01 to Ronkonkoma. It was a close call getting there in time, thanks to yet another longish wait for a subway (a 3 at Fulton this time), but I made it onboard with just about a minute to spare. It was an M-3 consist, first one I’ve ridden in a couple of weeks, and ridership was very low. I was in the third car from the head end and not even half the seats were taken. Among the empty seats was the only one that really mattered, namely the one next to me. The 5:01’s always a good train because ridership is low, and in summer it’s even better. No delays to Ronkonkoma.

Gym: day off

Published in: on August 15, 2009 at 11:57 pm  Comments (1)  

Thursday, August 13

A demographic shift?

Nothing much out of the ordinary happened today … except that it dawned on me that there may be a subtle but noticeable demographic shift in LIRR ridership.  I got the shuttle from Medford, followed by the 7:04 from Ronkonkoma to Penn.  No M-3’s in sight in the Ronkonkoma yard, hence no point in waiting for the 7:19. The car was moderately crowded, with a 30ish woman taking the seat next to me at Deer Park. We got to Penn on time, and I waited only a couple minutes for a 2 train to Fulton.

Getting home was easy as well, with a less-than-30-seconds wait for a surprisingly uncrowded 2 at Fulton, then the 5:41 to Ronkonkoma.  This train didn’t seem too crowded at first, at least not the mid-consist car where I was riding, but shortly before departure a woman in her 40’s sat next to me.  Another uneventful ride, mostly spent playing Tetris, and we got the Ronkonkoma and the shuttle on time.

As for the demographic change, note that both of the people who sat next to me today were women.  As were both of the people on both Monday and Tuesday.  For all my talk about SCA’s, it seems as if more women than men have been taking seats next to me in recent months.  This is significant because commuter trains have traditionally attracted a predominately male ridership.  It’s not just the small number of people who’ve taken seats next to me; it’s been my impression that ridership has gotten significantly more female.  The reason, no doubt, is economy-based.  A recent federal report said that men have accounted for 80% of the job losses in the recession, likely because of the sorts of industries that have been hardest-hit.  I may be seeing the results of this trend on the trains every day.

Gym: I ran one mile at 6.2 mph, but really couldn’t get into it.  Even so, I did a total of seven miles for the week which ends tonight, one mile over my quota.  I did 20 minutes on the stationary cycle at 18.7 mph, and then 30 reps of neutral grip pull-ups, 1 x 6, 6 x 4.

Published in: on August 14, 2009 at 3:09 am  Comments (2)  

Wednesday, August 12

Day off work today.  I got to the gym in mid-afternoon and started the second cycle of the 5-5-7 deadlift routine, going up ten pounds over where I began the first cycle: 5 x 235, 5 x 275, 7 x 305.  Not bad.  I next did some squats, not trying for any maximum weights: 8 x 225, 8 x 245, 8 x 265, 8 x 285.  I finished up with dips, 4 x 12 x bodyweight.

Published in: on August 13, 2009 at 2:33 am  Leave a Comment  

Tuesday, August 11

Olfactory assault

Like most men, I know very little if anything about perfume.  It’s just not the sort of thing that has much relevance to our lives.  Buying perfume as gifts doesn’t really change things, as in most cases we’ll just rely on a salesclerk’s recommendation (which, no doubt, will be for the brands on which they make the highest commissions).  One thing I do now, however, is the unmistakable stench of cheap perfume used in too-large quantities.  Fortunately the morning’s ride was odor-free, the shuttle from Medford followed by the 7:04 from Ronkonkoma to Penn. No point in waiting for the 7:19 to see if I could get an M-3, as a look at the Ronkonkoma yards while passing through on the shuttle showed that the M-3 drought continues.  In any event, the 7:04 wasn’t too crowded, with ridership seeming to get lighter as the summer goes into its last month.  The seat next to me stayed empty until Bethpage, which is the last stop before Penn, but the 40ish woman who took it wasn’t any bother.  By that age she was past the main squirmyness of youth.  While we got to Penn on time, the wait for a 3 train to Fulton was a bit on the long side, somewhere north of ten minutes.

I had an uneventful trip to Penn from Park Place on a 2 train, and got the 5:41 to Ronkonkoma as usual.  It didn’t seem too crowded and I harbored a faint hope that no one would take the seat next to me.  Just as the doors were closing, a woman in her early 20’s got on and took the seat.  The good news is that she was small … while it would be an exaggeration to say that her thighs (she was wearing shorts) were the diameter of my forearms, it wouldn’t be that much of an exaggeration.  She probably didn’t weigh more than 100 or 105 pounds.  The bad news is that she reeked of cheap perfume, the sort of dreck that Wal-Mart won’t sell and you have to get at the 99-cent store.  Not only did the stuff smell cheap, she also must have drenched herself with it.  She apparently was on the way to some social engagement, because she also spent at least 20 minutes applying cosmetics, way too much of that stuff too.  Whatever the social engagement was, it’s a safe bet it was something non-upscale.  But hey, bad perfume and all, it was better than being next to some elephantine SCA.  There were no obvious delays along the way, but for some reason we were about 10 minutes late into Ronkonkoma and the shuttle.

Gym: I did a total of 2.5 miles running, to make my 6-mile quota.  I did it in two stages, the first one of one mile, and then the second one of 1.5 miles.  All but the last half-mile were at 6.2 mph, while for the last half-mile, being a bit drained, I went down to 5.7 mph.  In between the two running segments I did more neutral-grip pullups, 5 x 4.

Published in: on August 12, 2009 at 10:41 pm  Comments (2)