Monday, September 28

A holiday benefit

Not being a Member of the Tribe, the fact that today was Yom Kippur normally would be of little or no consequence to me.  That was not the case, however, as LIRR ridership was somewhat lighter than usual, presumably for Yom Kippur-related reasons.  This became apparent when I arrived at Ronkonkoma on the shuttle from Medford, and there didn’t seem to be many people waiting for the 7:04 to Penn (I had to pass on the 6:56 to Flatbush as it was back to M-7’s).  No more than a quarter of the seats were filled when we left the station and things didn’t change much at the following stops.  I was hoping that no one would take the seat next to me, and once we left the last stop at Bethpage my dreams – modest as they were – they came true.  I was able to ride in (relative) comfort all the way into Penn, free of any SCA worries.  The subway ride proved far less pleasant.  The 2/3 platform was mobbed, and I barely squeezed onto a 3 when it arrived a few minutes later.  We got as far as 14th and just sat there with the doors open.  A few minutes went by, no announcements even though something obviously was wrong.  I finally gave up after about five minutes and took a 1 to Chambers Street, which is a reasonable walk to my workplace.   No 2’s or 3’s passed us all the way to Chambers.

Getting home was a comparative breeze, as I waited less than a minutes for an uncrowded 2 at Park Place.  There was a skell begging for money in the car, but no one was giving him anything and he got off at 14th.  As usual, I took the 5:41 to Ronkonkoma; as not so usual, it was using M-3’s.  Of course I made a beeline for the nearest single seat and got one.  It didn’t really matter, as the car was quite uncrowded, but it was still nice to have.  There weren’t any delays to Ronkonkoma and the shuttle.

Gym: I wanted to do leg work, but due to some back soreness (likely from the other day’s barbell rows) I decided that squats and SLDL’s probably wouldn’t be the best idea.  Accordingly, I started out on the Life Fitness seated leg press, 2 x 10 x 395.  I would’ve done more, but the machine seemed greatly in need of lubrication and it was very hard to use.  Instead, I used the horizontal plate-loaded leg press, for the first time in years, 10 x 360, 10 x 450, 6 x 450 (couldn’t make ten on the last set).  I finished with seated leg curls, 3 x 8 x 185.

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Published in: on September 29, 2009 at 4:03 am  Leave a Comment  

Sunday, September 27

A nice treadmill session, a 3.1-mile (or 5K) run at 5.6 mph.

Published in: on September 28, 2009 at 2:38 am  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, September 26

Back to weights after a week off.  To avoid staleness I mixed things up a bit, though only a bit.  Neutral grip pull-ups: 3 x 6.  I then tried pull-ups with the palms-facing-away grip, 2 x 4.  These are a lot harder than the neutral grip ones, it’ll probably take a while until I’m up to sets of eight.  Some people like the palms-facing-you grip, but that’s just too hard on my wrists.  Overhead presses: 8 x 95, 8 x 105, 8 x 115.  It’s probably time for some direct shoulder work.  It was, I must say, a bit dismaying to realize how little weight I could manage on these, once again it will take some time to get up to decent weights.  Barbell rows: 3 x 8 x 195.  Pull-ups are of course excellent back work, but for a change I decided to add something else.  I finished with dips, 5 x 12 x bodyweight.

Published in: on September 27, 2009 at 5:59 am  Comments (2)  

Hello old friend

It wasn’t so long ago that the 6:56 from Ronkonkoma to Flatbush Avenue was one of my regular trains.  In fact, I probably rode it more often than any other train from Ronkonkoma.  All that changed following my near-death experience on March 11, when I scarcely survived being squashed by an elephantine SCA.  I’m now so gun-shy that I won’t go anywhere near the 6:56 unless it’s using M-3’s, which is very rare.  Today after arriving on the shuttle from Medford, the 6:56 was not on the opposite platform as it usually is, on account of a late-running eastbound train.  I went to go to Dunkin’ Donuts to get a Diet Pepsi, when I saw to my extreme surprise that the 6:56, now pulling into the platform, was using M-3’s.  No way could this opportunity be passed.  Forgetting all about the Diet Pepsi, I made a beeline to the 6:56 and actually was able to get a highly coveted single seat.  I was able to enjoy a very nice ride into Brooklyn.  The mid-consist car got about two-thirds full at the maximum, and despite the 6:56’s usual reputation as the Flomax Express there actually were some reasonably young riders – no, not just people who were young in this train’s context, which means anyone under age 60, but people in their 20’s and 30’s.  Amazing.  About the only downside was upon arriving at Flatbush Avenue, when I realized that I didn’t have a full fare on my Metrocard.  The fare machines at the adjacent subway entrance all had long lines, so I went aboveground and entered the station complex by the Pacific Avenue entrance.  No lines there, and for variety’s sake I got an M train for the reasonably quick ride to Fulton.

Getting home was entirely uneventful, a quick ride on a 3 from Park Place followed by the 5:41 to Ronkonkoma.  It was moderately if not excessively crowded, and unlike the morning’s train was using the hateful M-7’s. A woman in her 30’s sat next to me, and her presence barely registered at all – an hour later I literally had no idea what she looked like.  That’s of course a good sign, as had she been noisy or annoying her presence surely wouldn’t have slipped under the metaphorical radar.  For some reason I couldn’t get into reading, and the charge on my cell phone was too low to play Tetris, so it was a boring though fortunately on-time ride to Ronkonkoma and the shuttle.

Gym: day off

Published in: on September 27, 2009 at 5:54 am  Leave a Comment  

Thursday, September 24

Does bad + good = mediocre?

One of those split personality days in commuting terms.  As I’ve been doing for the last couple of days I got the shuttle from Medford, and once at Ronkonkoma I took the 7:04 to Penn.  It didn’t seem inordinately crowded, and the SCA percentage was reasonably low, but things took a downward turn when a large person took the seat next to me at Farmingdale and made for a tight squeeze.  No, not an SCA, in fact not a man at all.  Which perhaps was a bad thing, as this 30-something woman was man-sized yet as noisy and squirmy as many women tend to be.  I was eventually able to get myself situated in a relatively unsqueezed position and turned up my iPod loudly enough to drown out her cell phone chatter.  Still, I was happier than usual that there weren’t any delays into Penn.  No wait at all for a 2 train to Fulton, and it wasn’t at all crowded.

If the morning was the “bad” part of the day, though it truly wasn’t all that bad, the afternoon was the “good.”  After a quick ride on a 2 from Park Place, I got the 5:41 to Ronkonkoma.  Right away I could tell that it didn’t seem particularly crowded, and sure enough the seat next to me remained gloriously empty the whole way. That surely made up for the morning’s discomfort!

Gym: I finished up my running-only week with two miles on the treadmill at 5.6 mph, making ten miles for the week.

Published in: on September 26, 2009 at 5:16 am  Leave a Comment  

Wednesday, September 23

Never did that before

I must be getting more feisty.  Usually, when large SCA’s plop down next to me I just suffer in silence, not actually doing or even saying anything.  Today, however, was different.  As the shuttle from Medford passed through the Ronkonkoma yards I saw a couple of M-3 consists.  This lead me to skip the 7:04 to Penn, in hopes that the 7:19 would be using the M-3’s.  Alas, it was using M-7’s, and disaster nearly resulted when a very large (non-SCA) man plopped into the seat next to me moments after I sat down.  For reasons I can’t quite articulate, the thought of being squashed all the way into Penn was even more intolerable today than it usually would be.  I immediately got up, giving him quite a surprise, and went into the next car to find another seat.  Call this being pro-active, or taking charge of the situation, or whatever.  It worked, too, as a much smaller man took the seat next to my new spot and I had a reasonably decent ride into Penn.  The wait for a 3 to Fulton was a bit on the long side, and the train was jammed when it arrived, but I was so pleased with myself for my take-charge action that I wasn’t about to complain.

Getting home was uneventful and required no seat-changing on my part.  After a quick ride to Penn on a 2 from Park Place, I got the 5:41 to Medford.  An older woman sat next to me and didn’t infringe on my space at all.  Interestingly, and relevant to the space-infringement issue, she was going through Weight Watchers materials even though she didn’t seem overweight at all.  As had been the case in the morning, I spent most of the time reading, and the ride went by without any delays.

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

Published in: on September 25, 2009 at 1:19 am  Leave a Comment  

Tuesday, September 22

Lethal weapons

One sort of fashion I just don’t understand is the way some women wear these absurdly long fake fingernails.  Not only do they look ridiculous, they must get in the way all the time.  The woman who sat down next to me on the 7:04 from Ronkonkoma to Penn, which I’d boarded after arriving on the shuttle from Medford, had possibly the most extreme fingernails I’ve seen in years.  They weren’t colored, which was a bit surprising, but they were so long and pointed they looked like the claws on a sabre-toothed tiger.  As I doubt she is in the practice of bringing down wooly mammoths, I simply couldn’t imagine her motivation behind having such ridiculous nails.  She’s probably in constant danger of stabbing herself.  In any event, the 7:04 was moderately but not excessively crowded.  Most if not all of the middle seats in the car were taken after the last stop at Bethpage, but there were no standees. One thing I noticed, however, is that the proportion of SCA’s was rather high, in fact higher than it’s been in quite some time.  I’d guess the proportions in the car were 50% SCA’s, 40% women, 10% normal men.  A bit disturbing … I fervently hope that “business casual” survives the recession, but I’m not optimistic.  As for the ride into Penn, I got quite a bit of reading done, and we made it right on time.  The wait for a 3 to Fulton was no more than a minute, and the car was surprisingly uncrowded.

The wait for a 2 at Park Place after work was annoyingly long, but as time wasn’t an issue I wasn’t too angry.  Had I gotten the train from Ronkonkoma it would’ve been a different story, as I didn’t get to Penn in time to get the 5:22 to Ronkonkoma, but as I was going to take the 5:41 it wasn’t relevant. As for the 5:41, it was verging on cattle train territory, a change from the recent pattern in which the morning trains have been busier.  Shortly before we got underway a skinny young man sat next to me but almost immediately got up to sit next to an apparent acquaintance he saw a couple rows away.  Oh no, I though, I’m done for, a huge SCA is bound to take his place.  Fortunately, my fears didn’t come to pass,  as a slightly chubby and non-annoying woman of about 30 took the seat.  Unlike her morning’s counterpart, she had fingernails appropriate for a human being rather than for an extinct prehistoric carnivore. I though we were going to be late into Ronkonkoma because of some very slow running near Mineola, but we actually arrived right on time.  The shuttle to Medford is rarely crowded, this afternoon for some reason it was nearly empty.

Gym: another “weightless” installment.  I started with a 2-mile run on the treadmill at 5.8 mph for the first mile and a half, 5.6 mph for the last half-mile.  I then tried to use the stationary cycle but couldn’t get into it and gave up after a few minutes.  This worked out well, as I returned to the treadmill and did one more mile, albeit at a poky 5.4 mph.  This made three miles total for today, and met my weekly 6-mile quota.

Published in: on September 23, 2009 at 3:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, September 21

After arriving back from Connecticut around noon, I got to the gym at the unusually early hour of 3:45 pm.  It wasn’t too crowded at first but soon began to get busier.  Most of the people obviously were arriving directly from work, as they arrived in normal clothing with bags carrying their gym stuff.  In any event, I decided that this will be my week off from weights, it’s been at least a couple months since the last week off and I’m overdue.  I started out with two miles on the treadmill at 5.8 mph, then did 20 minutes on the stationary cycle at 18.2 mph, and made it a triple play with 20 minutes of ellipting.  Just over an hour of exercise, though considering all I scarfed down over the weekend it’ll take a lot more.

Published in: on September 22, 2009 at 4:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, September 19/Sunday, September 20

Attending a wedding in Connecticut this weekend.  And making a visit to the enormous Mohegan Sun casino.  Being in Metro North territory, it got me thinking …. Metro North and the LIRR are both parts of the Metropolitan Transit Authority, though separately managed.  Metro North run a far better operation.  There’s no comparison.  Why can’t the LIRR draw on its sister agency’s expertise?  Inquiring minds want to know.

Published in: on September 21, 2009 at 11:07 pm  Leave a Comment  

Friday, September 18

As desolate as the Sahara Desert

So where was everyone?  As the shuttle pulled into Ronkonkoma this morning I figured that the 7:04 to Penn would be a cattle train like it was the other day.  I’d have to wait for the 7:19.  To my great surprise, however, there weren’t many people at all waiting for the 7:04, so I boarded it … and had the extremely unusual  pleasure of an empty seat next to me the whole way.  This was toward the middle of the train, where I usually ride.  If the car were even half-full after the last stop at Bethpage it would be surprising.  Why would the same train be utterly jammed a couple days ago and practically a ghost train today?  I can’t even imagine.  There weren’t any delays, and I waited just a minute or so for a 3 train to Park Place – which also was uncrowded.

It would have been too much to hope that the morning’s lack of crowding would carry through to the afternoon.  Still, it wasn’t too bad.  I had a somewhat long wait for a 2 at Park Place, somewhere north of five minutes, but got to Penn in ample time to get the 5:41 to Ronkonkoma and the shuttle.  It was at what I’d call normal non-summer ridership levels: all seats other than the middles taken, as well as some but not all of the middles, and no standees.  A woman in her 30’s took the seat next to me, and after some initial squirmyness pretty much settled down and was no trouble. I spend most of the ride reading, and it went by quickly.

Gym: a fairly short but decent session.  Neutral grip pull-ups: 2 x 8, 3 x 6.  I had to use the wider handles, which aren’t may favorite, but are tolerable.  Dips: 4 x 12 x bodyweight.  I also ran one mile on the treadmill at 5.8 mph.  Due to a wedding we’re going to in Connecticut, I won’t be going to the gym on Saturday or Sunday.  I actually could use a break.

Published in: on September 19, 2009 at 2:45 pm  Leave a Comment