Monday, October 19

What language was that?

Got the shuttle from Medford this morning, which was uncharacteristically a bit late.  By “late” I mean about five minutes, which is all too typical on most of the LIRR but quite uncommon for the shuttle.  Platform crowding at Ronkonkoma didn’t look too bad and I got the 7:04 to Penn.  Despite not being too crowded at first, many people flooded onboard in the last couple of minute before departure and the car was at least two-thirds full by departure.  A young woman of indeterminate ethnicity took the seat next to me and immediately began sending and receiving messages on her Black Berry.  What made things a bit interesting is that I got a view of her screen and had absolutely no idea what language she was using.  I’m usually pretty good at identifying strange languages from their writing, but this time I was stumped.  After a bit of Google research later in the day I suspect it may have been Indonesian.  Not a language one sees every day!  Having given up on The Devil in the White City, I spent most of the ride reading a title I acquired over the weekend, The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes. It’s 700+ pages and not what you’d call a fast read, so it’ll keep me occupied for quite some time … if not to the extent of War and Peace, which I read a couple of years ago (at the risk of sounding like a Philistine, I must say that I didn’t quite get all of the hype about W&P. An excellent story, for sure, but the Greatest Novel of All Time, as it’s been called?  Sorry.)  In any event, my reading helped the ride go by quickly.  We got into Penn right on time, and I waited under a minute for a 2 train to Park Place.

During the early afternoon there was a “minor” derailment of a 2 train at Park Place and all service on the 2/3 line was shut down.  It looked as if I’d be taking the Eighth Avenue line.  Before I left work, however, I found out that service had been restored, and I ended up taking a 3 from Park Place. It was hugely crowded, whether that was a residual effect of the earlier delays I don’t know.  I got to Penn in plenty of time to catch the 5:41 to Ronkonkoma.  It was a bit surprising to see Mayor Bloomberg greeting people in the station, as only a relatively low percentage of LIRR riders (I’d guess no more than 10%) are city residents who can vote for him next month.  It could be that he figured that the sheer volume of people using the station makes it a useful campaign stop even with these percentages.  In any event, the 5:41 was moderately crowded, somewhat less than the morning’s train or what it was like last week.  There were quite a few massive SCA’s boarding, I was fearful that one would plop into the next seat and squash me, but the Train Gods were smiling on me and a young woman who couldn’t have weighed more than 100 pounds (while they can be chubby, Asian women usually run small) took the seat instead.  I spent the ride much like the morning’s trip, reading more about the making of the Bomb – I’m still in the early years of nuclear research, with Rutherford and Bohr, so the Bomb’s still at least 400 pages off.  We got to Ronkonkoma and the shuttle right on time.

Gym: a 3-mile run on the treadmill at 5.6 mph.

Published in: on October 20, 2009 at 2:58 am  Leave a Comment  

Sunday, October 18

For today’s leg session I decided to substitute trap bar deadlifts for squats.  Like last week, I wasn’t much in the mood for squatting, but that’s fine as trap bar deadlifts are a good substitute.  8 x 225, 8 x 255, 8 x 275, 6 x 295.  Next came SLDL’s, 8 x 225, 2 x 8 x 235.  For additional leg work I did horizontal leg presses, 8 x 430, 8 x 450, 8 x 480.  I finished the session with the dip I’d forgotten to do yesterday, 5 x 12 x bodyweight.

Published in: on October 18, 2009 at 9:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, October 17

Another increase in my pull-up count, once again the version done with hands facing away: 1 x 6, 1 x 3, 3 x 5, 3 x 4, 3 x 3, a total of 45 reps.  The reason why I opened with a set of six, followed by one of three, is that I was going for two sets of six but got a muscle cramp midway through the second set.  Next came overhead presses, 2 x 8 x 125, 6 x 125, 8 x 115.  I then ran one mile on the treadmill at 5.6 mph.  As I was driving home from the gym I realized that I’d forgotten to do dips, but at that point decided against turning back.

Published in: on October 18, 2009 at 9:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

Friday, October 16


Another uneventful trip into work. I got the shuttle from Medford, then, as usual, the 7:04 from Ronkonkoma to Penn.  It was using M-7’s today but because I had spotted only one M-3 consist in the yard I figured it wouldn’t be worthwhile to wait for the 7:19.  It didn’t much matter, as the hipster-ish young man who sat next to me at Deer Park wasn’t large.  The car got moderately crowded, a bit behind the last few days, as far as I could tell only a handful of the middle seats were taken.  I was somewhat bored during the ride, as I couldn’t get into either reading or playing Tetris.  Fortunately there were no delays, and I waited under a minute for a relatively uncrowded 3 train to Fulton.

I got a near-cattle train 2 from Park Place after work and then took the 5:41 to Ronkonkoma.  In some ways my ride was similar to that of the morning: the car was moderately crowded, a slender young man (not a hipster this time) sat next to me, and most of all I was really bored.  Neither reading nor Tetris-ing was an attractive option.  Thinking back, it probably was because (a) the book I’m reading, The Devil in the White City, has gotten less interesting the further I get into it, and (b) Tetris is bound to be a letdown after the other day’s record score.  I’ll probably acquire something new to read over the weekend.  Boredom or not, the ride to Ronkonkoma and the shuttle went by quickly, always good on a Friday.

Gym: a decent 3-mile run on the treadmill at 5.6 mph.

Published in: on October 18, 2009 at 5:17 am  Leave a Comment  

Thursday, October 15

Track changes and the joys of the M-3’s

Not a particularly eventful day today.  I got the shuttle from Medford as usual, then the 7:04 from Ronkonkoma to Penn.  The latter train was using M-3’s today, which is not common, but this turned out to be a lucky break for me.  The non-SCA man who took the seat next to me at Deer Park was on the large side, and had it been on an M-7 there would have been a rather tight squeeze.  As it happened, the somewhat larger M-3 seats meant that there was just enough room.  I was able to have a tolerable ride into Penn, mostly spent reading my newest purchase, The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson.  It’s not bad, if perhaps a bit slower-moving than I prefer.  The train itself was in keeping with the crowding theme of the last couple days, with all of the non-middle and most of the middle seats filled. We got into Penn without delays, using Track 16 instead of the usual 15, and I waited under a minute for a not-too-crowded 3 train to Park Place.  It turns out that yesterday’s subway crowding may have been caused by the transit union having their workers do everything precisely according to the rulebook, as a means of demonstrating their  disagreement with the latest contract offer.  Or so the story goes.  No one seems to be sure, whatever the case I was just glad that today’s crowding was far less.

It was raining heavily after work, so I entered the subway at the stairway closest to my workplace, with the intent of getting a 2 or 3 from Fulton.  Reaching that platform from the entrance I used requires walking along the A/C platform, and as I was doing so an A pulled into the station.  Despite my usual misgivings about the Eighth Avenue line I decided to give it a try.  It turned out to be a good choice, as the train made it to Penn without any significant delays and I actually found a seat.  There were a few track changes being made at Penn, no reason given, and the 5:41 to Ronkonkoma was on Track 18 rather than 19 as it almost always is.  It was yet another crowded train, fortunately a 30-ish woman of normal size sat next to me – especially fortunate, as I spotted several large SCA’s entering the car.  I was planning to read more, but decided to try a game of Tetris first.  Very little reading got done, because the game of Tetris went on and on.  By the time it finally ended, as we were passing through Farmingdale, I had gotten a score of 176,800, more than 35,000 in excess of my past record.  Reading can wait!  There were no delays, a bit surprising because the rain had gotten very heavy and the LIRR and bad weather don’t mix (not that it works well in good weather, of course).  As is always the case in the rain, I was glad for Medford’s close-in parking.

Gym: deadlifting tonight, and only deadlifting.  8 x 225, 8 x 265, 6 x 295, 4 x 305, 6 x 275, 8 x 225. I tried to run on the treadmill but couldn’t get into it and soon stopped.  That leaves me with eight miles for the week, which is fine.

Published in: on October 16, 2009 at 5:33 pm  Comments (3)  

Wednesday, October 14

Ahoy, full squirm ahead!

Sometimes passivity just doesn’t work.  Taking the bull by the horns, so to speak, is the only effective way to go.  And so it was this afternoon.  I got the shuttle from Medford for the first time this week, followed by the 7:04 from Ronkonkoma to Penn.  It was crowded, just like the 7:19 yesterday, with just about all of the middle seats filled by the last stop at Bethpage though no standees as far as I could tell.  A tall but slender young man sat next to me at Deer Park and wasn’t too much of a bother, despite bumping me a couple of times with his elbow.  We were stopped for a couple of minutes just outside Hicksville and I saw the 6:56 to Flatbush Avenue stopped on the opposite track.  That train probably had run into some mechanical trouble, or something to that effect, as it should have been a few minutes ahead of us.  Despite the short delay we got into Penn only a couple minutes late.  I wasn’t able to board the 3 train that arrived at the platform just as I did, it was so totally packed, and the next one that arrived in a few minutes was also jammed.  Somehow I squeezed onboard, and had a distinctly less-than-pleasant ride to Park Place.

The subway ride from Park Place to Penn, on a 2 this time, was much better, and I got the 5:41 to Ronkonkoma in plenty of time.  Disaster nearly occurred when a large though non-SCA man took the seat next to me, oblivious of the fact that the width of the seat was substantially less than the width of his body.  He of course was pressed up hard against me.  Oh, no.  Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to start squirming as much as I could manage, which sounds ludicrous but proved to be a very smart move.  Within 30 seconds, the man got up and went to sit elsewhere, and a much smaller woman took his place.  If I hadn’t had the foresight to squirm it would have been a miserable ride.  As it actually happened, I had a nice and easy ride, no space squeeze at all.  I played Tetris and did some reading, and the ride went by quickly.

Gym: I really wanted to do some deadlifting, but was just too worn out.

Published in: on October 15, 2009 at 3:39 am  Leave a Comment  

Tuesday, October 13


Well. Today was one of the few cattle train experiences I’ve had in recent months.  Totally unlike yesterday’s light ridership.  I don’t know why, the fact that today was a regular day after the sort-of holiday yesterday shouldn’t have made that much of a difference. In any event, I drove to Ronkonkoma today to get the 7:19 to Penn.  When I pulled into the south side lot around 7:10 it was immediately apparent that the trains would be crowded.  Sure enough, when I boarded the 7:19 a few minutes before (scheduled) departure, no more than a minute or two after it had pulled up to the platform, nearly all of the non-middle seats already were taken.  This was in one of the mid-consist cars where I usually ride, so that’s not an issue.  I was lucky to find an aisle seat, next to a 30-something woman who didn’t seem too pleased with my presence.  If looks could kill …  Anyway, 7:19 came and went, yet the train just sat there with the doors open.  I sort of heard the conductor announce something over the PA, about all I could make out were “being held” and “passenger.”  Within a minute there was another, longer announcement, this time I couldn’t make out any words at all.  Is a workable PA system too much to ask for?  Whatever the cause for the delay, it didn’t last long, as we got underway after three or four minutes and actually made it into Penn just about on time.  The people who boarded at Central Islip were consigned to the middle seats, while those (not many) who got on at Brentwood had to stand.  I read most of the way and the ride went by quickly enough.  The crowding theme continued on the 3 train I got to Fulton, which was absolutely jammed.

Like yesterday, I worked through lunch hour and left in time to get the 5:01 to Ronkonkoma.  A relatively long wait for a 2 at Park Place made it a close call, but I boarded about 30 seconds before the doors closed.  It was an M-3 consist, and not at all crowded, but just to be on the safe side I sat in a single seat.  While I wasn’t able to get into reading, I had a couple decent enough games of Tetris and the ride went by without delays.

Gym: more pull-ups, the version with hands facing away.  2 x 6, 2 x 5, 2 x 4, 2 x 3, 2 x 2.  Forty total reps of this version, the hardest type of pull-ups, is definitely on the decent side. I ran one mile on the treadmill at 5.6 mph, and then did some dips, 4 x 10 x bodyweight.

Published in: on October 14, 2009 at 3:45 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, October 12


Columbus Day is one of those days that’s not quite a regular workday but not a real holiday.  Many government offices and most schools are closed, while few if any private sector workers have the day off.  Today’s commuting reflected this semi-holiday status.  Being able to go in a bit later than usual, I drove to Ronkonkoma for the 7:32 to Penn.  The parking lot was way less busy than usual, so empty that when I arrived at 7:25 I was able to park within 75 or 100 feet of the platform.  That would never happen on a normal workday.  Confusing matters, however, was the fact that the train itself was only slightly less crowded than usual.  It was an M-3 consist, but I was unable to get a single seat.  A relatively small man sat next to me at Deer Park, small enough that I didn’t really take much notice of his presence.  As far as I could tell, none of the middle seats were taken except for a few people traveling together, but most of the non-middles were taken.  This is more crowded than I would have expected given the emptiness in the parking lot.  What might be a possible explanation is that I rode in the second car from the east end of the consist, rather than closer to the middle as I usually do, and that end might busier than the middle.  Hard to say.  In any event, I spent most of the ride reading, and we got into Penn on time.  No wait at all for a 3 train to Park Place, which is always nice.  Crowding on the subway appeared to be slightly lighter than usual.

I worked through lunch, and combined with another no-wait subway ride (a 2 from Park Place) I got to Penn just in time to catch the 5:01 to Ronkonkoma.  This is a lightly used train under normal circumstances, and today even more so.  I actually rode in the head car, as the doors were closing just as I got to the platform and that was the only car I could board in time.  As I boarded I figured the head car would be crowded and I’d have to do the Baby Elephant Walk.  Not necessary today, in fact the head car wasn’t more than a third full.  It must’ve been a ghost town toward the rear of the train.  No one sat next to me the whole way, and being in the front of the train I was nice and close to my car when we got to Ronkonkoma.

Gym: I ran two miles on the treadmill at 5.6 mph, at which point I decided to stop as I was a bit sore from yesterday’s leg work. After about a 5-minute break, however, I went back to the treadmill and did one more mile, this time at 5.4 mph, making a total of three miles today and seven miles for the week so far.

Published in: on October 13, 2009 at 3:31 am  Comments (1)  

Sunday, October 11

Drat.  For some reason I thought I had done leg work on Sunday of last week, so when I did more today it would be one week between sessions like it’s supposed to be.  I realized this morning that I’d done the work on Saturday of last week, so today made eight days, one day longer than it should be.  Even worse, I simply wasn’t in the right frame of mind to do squats.  Yet it wasn’t a total loss, as I made the best of the situation with other stuff.  Horizontal leg presses: 8 x 430, 8 x 450, 8 x 470, 8 x 490, 2 x 8 x 500.  SLDL’s: 8 x 225, 2 x 8 x 235.  Trap bar deadlifts (a useful squat substitute): 6 x 225, 6 x 265, 6 x 285.

Published in: on October 12, 2009 at 3:02 am  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, October 10

Got to the gym late, an hour before closing, but ran 3.1 miles on the treadmill at 5.6 mph.

Published in: on October 11, 2009 at 1:53 am  Leave a Comment