Tuesday, March 30

It was raining so torrentially as I drove into work this morning that I was considering trading in my Subaru for an ark.  Unfortunately, the car loan still has six months to go and it would be highly doubtful whether the lender would agree to a transfer of collateral.  And insurance on an ark is likely to be exhorbitant.   I of course had been expecting a very slow drive and left extra early. Traffic actually turned out to be relatively light and the trip took only about ten minutes longer than usual.  Could some people have decided to stay home on account of the weather?  Seems unlikely, in fact when the weather and driving conditions are bad the normal rule is that everyone has a sudden urge to drive.  Today’s just plain hard to figure.  When I left work in the early afternoon it was still raining, but much less heavily than in the morning, and I had a very quick trip back home.

Gym: Not too good of a treadmill session. I lowered my speed to 5.0 mph, figuring I could really add some distance, but in fact I ran completely out of steam at the two-mile mark, 24 minutes into the run.

Published in: on March 31, 2010 at 10:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

Monday, March 29

Benjamin Franklin would not approve of what working in the insurance industry is doing to me.  One of Ben’s more famous sayings, of course, is “Early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”  Back in my prior job I’d have to get up by 6:15 each morning to get the train.  It’s already becoming apparent, however, that the insurance industry works on a much later time schedule, without much of anything happening before ten in the morning.  As a result I’ve been keeping much later hours than had been the case, usually up until at least one in the morning.  Sorry, Ben.

Speaking of late hours, I didn’t have to go into work until about three in the afternoon, which enabled me to avoid most of the traffic.  I was concerned that the heavy rains would slow things down, but that didn’t seem to be the case at all.  While I had been planning on leaving work around seven, as a result of some schedule changes I actually left around 5:30, in other words right in the heart of rush hour.  Combined with the rain, this translated into an excruciatingly long trip home, well over an hour to cover 25 miles.  There were a few dead stops on the Expressway, mostly of short duration, with most of the delay resulting from a steady but very very slow flow of traffic.  I don’t think I ever got above 35 mph the whole way.

Gym: it’s down to the last week before the 5K, and I’ve decided to skip weights for this week and just concentrate on treadmill work.  Tonight I got my 35 minutes of running, although I took about a 2-minute walking break after 24 minutes.  Most of the distance was at 5.3 mph, with a gradual decrease to 5.0 mph near the end, and this translated into just about the 5K distance that the race will be.

Published in: on March 30, 2010 at 7:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

Sunday, March 28

As hoped, I was fine today and was able to get in some running.  Just one week to go.  I had been planning on running 35 minutes at 5.3 mph but actually did only 32 minutes because one of my sneakers came untied, and after I retied it I found it almost impossible to get back into running.

Published in: on March 29, 2010 at 5:23 am  Comments (2)  

Saturday, March 27

Oh, no.  Just over a week to the 5K and I did no running today.  It wasn’t my fault – I somehow must have strained some upper back muscles yesterday, and was so sore that running appeared to be a wholly unappealing thought.  It’s not the end of the world, tomorrow I should be able to run.

Published in: on March 29, 2010 at 5:21 am  Leave a Comment  

Friday, March 26

I left home around 7:30 this morning, almost an hour and a half earlier than usual, because I was going to a conference near my workplace and it was starting at 8:30 … okay, the conference itself was starting at nine, but there was a free continental breakfast at 8:30 and perish the thought that I was going to turn down free food.  As expected, leaving at this earlier time got me right into the middle of rush hour.  Driving 20 miles to Exit 49 took about 45 minutes.  While there were no actual dead stops, there were several lengthy stretches when traffic just crawled along at under 20 mph.  I am so glad that I don’t have to deal with the main part of rush hour.

The conference itself was at your typical, generic suburban office park hotel/conference center.  I’ve been in quite of few of them and they’re pretty much indistinguishable.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s a Hilton or a Marriott or whatever.  The continental breakfast was okay, nothing special, though I noticed that the food spread for a dental conference in an adjacent room was much better.  I briefly thought of trying to snag some of that food but figured there was just no way I could pull off a credible dentist imitation.  My conference was reasonably interesting, even though much of it involved products (mutual funds and variable universal life) that I won’t be able to sell until I get my Series 7 license.  It sounds as if you can make pretty decent money selling those products.  There also were some discussions of how the economy is likely to be, especially with respect to tax policy.  The consensus is that tax rates (both federal and state) are almost certain to go through some big changes soon; suffice to say that the rate changes will not be in the “down” direction.  By the time I left in the early afternoon, traffic was much lighter than it had been in the morning, and even with a construction delay near Exit 51 the trip took barely half as long.

Gym: I didn’t do any running, tomorrow I’ll go for 35 minutes, but had a decent weights session.  Hammer Strength shoulder presses: 5 x 8 x 105/105.  Just a few weeks ago I was struggling with sets of 90 pounds, so this is very good progress. Precor leg extensions: 8 x 215, 8 x 220, 8 x 225, 8 x 230, 8 x 235.  I’m now within 25 pounds of the machine’s 260 pound maximum.  Life Fitness leg curls: 3 x 8 x 192.5  I got the strange weight by using a 7.5-pound weight block on the stack.  I finished the session with dips, 3 x 10 x bodyweight.

Published in: on March 26, 2010 at 11:37 pm  Comments (2)  

Thursday, March 25

Not having to make a trip into the office, I spent some time signing up for a leads service.  There are quite a few companies which sell leads, so it took quite a bit of research to find the one that seemed to best fit my needs.  Before getting into the insurance industry I had no idea that outfits of this type even existed.  What’s difficult to determine is the percentage of paid leads that are likely to culminate in sales.  As best I can tell it’s somewhere in the range from 5% to 20%, although the higher figure is a bit hard to believe.  Even at 5%, however, paying for leads should be a winning proposition.  Tomorrow I’ll be going to an officewide meeting at a nearby hotel.  Much of it won’t really apply to me as it’s aimed at registered representatives, those with Series 6 or 7 securities licenses, and I haven’t yet started working toward my 7.  But there’ll be free food, so I’m scarcely about to complain.

I got to the gym around 4:30 for a tough session.  It began with a 30-minute run on the treadmill at 5.3 mph, which worked out to around 2.65 miles.  Next came one-arm dumbbell rows, 5 x 8 x 110/110.  I had been planning to move up to the 115’s, but because I was a bit worn out from the running I decided to stick with the 110’s for now.  Then it was off to the standing calf machine for shrugs, 4 x 10 x 400.  Using this machine is a bit hard on the shoulders but also means that grip isn’t a limiting factor.  Just a few feet away was the cable station, and I did cable biceps curls, 3 x 10 x 140, 9 x 140 … yes, I was planning to do four sets of ten, but the last rep on the last set just wasn’t going to happen.  I finished up the session with kettlebell swings, 4 x 10 with a 50-pounder.  One thing I’ve figured out is that keeping my arms as straight as possible during the full range of motion makes the exercise more challenging and no doubt increases its value.

Published in: on March 26, 2010 at 1:09 am  Leave a Comment  

Wednesday, March 24

Not much of the usual stuff to report today.  I didn’t go into the office, though I did some work over the telephone, and because it had been more than a week I decided to take a day off from the gym.  During the late afternoon we went to the newly opened Whole Foods near the Smith Haven Mall.  I’ve never been in a Whole Foods before and found it quite the experience, starting with the reserved parking spaces for carpools and hybrids, and then onto the signs proclaiming the lack of HFCS and trans fats in their products.  We weren’t in there long enough for me to come to any definitive judgment as to prices, though my impression is that the “Whole Paycheck” moniker is somewhat exaggerated.  But not entirely.

What surprised me most about Whole Foods was the large prepared food section, set out buffet-style, not to mention the seating area that’s the size of many restaurants.  Prices for prepared foods were most reasonable.  You don’t need your whole paycheck to buy in this section.  If I recall correctly, salads and other cold items were $7 per pound while hot items were $8.  There were all sorts of offbeat interesting stuff and everything looked good.  One thing I remember from my days working in Manhattan were the delis on almost every business-district block that had buffets at lunch, serving nearby office workers.  Just about all of these deli buffets – and trust me, I hit a lot of them over the years – couldn’t even hope to qualify as mediocre.  They served sad, institutional fare: starchy things like pasta and potatoes, bony chicken, fatty meats, limp overcooked vegetables, you get the picture.  The thing is, most of them were in the same price range as Whole Foods, sometimes even higher, despite being of vastly lower quality.  Score one for Whole Foods.

Published in: on March 25, 2010 at 5:17 pm  Comments (1)  

Tuesday, March 23

It was a shorter-than-expected day at work today because the afternoon’s training session was canceled.  The morning’s session was pretty good, as it dealt with long term care insurance, which is a fast-growing product with a big growth potential.  For one thing, there’s the aging of the population, and then there’s the soaring costs of long term care – in the Long Island market, care in a nursing home now averages $125K per year.  Another thing is that while many people get life insurance through their jobs and therefore aren’t a particularly good market for individual policies (though work polices have their disadvantages), it’s rare for employee benefit packages to include LTC policies.  Getting leads for LTC insurance is harder than for life insurance, however.  As for the driving, it was easy enough when I left around 8:45 in the morning, a few brief slowdowns but really no trouble.  When I left work around 1 pm, however, traffic was quite heavy almost the whole way.  It was moving at normal speeds, but the volume was definitely greater than what I’ve come to expect at mid-day.  I can’t think of any particularly reason why it should have been so heavy.  Just one of those inexplicable rules of the road, so to speak.

Keeping with the idea of going for time rather than distance, I ran for 25 minutes on the treadmill, up from yesterday’s 20 minutes.  At my 5.3 mph pace it worked out to just about 2.2 miles.  Tomorrow or Thursday I’ll go for 30 minutes.  Once the running was done I did some upper-body work.  Precor chest press: 8 x 200, 8 x 205, 8 x 210, 8 x 215.  Not bad.  I then went back to an old favorite exercise that I haven’t done in months, namely dips, doing 3 x 10 x bodyweight.  These went fine, and next time I’ll add some weight.  I finished the session with triceps rope pushdowns, 2 x 10 x 110.

Published in: on March 24, 2010 at 4:07 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, March 22

Today started out with a trip to the DMV.  Being it a Monday morning, it was a safe assumption that the office would be hideously overcrowded, right?  Wrong.  When I arrived at about 9:30 the crowding wasn’t bad at all.  The way the place is set up, you have to wait in a snaking-around line to be given a number, and then you take a seat in the waiting area until your number appears on a large message board directing you to a specific window.  I waited no more than five minutes to get the number and then about 10 to 15 minutes in the waiting area.  While I was in the waiting area I noticed – it would’ve been impossible not to notice – that one of the window clerks was hacking away as if she had a case of Ebola.  Now, I’m not one of these people who gets all paranoid about germs, in fact I enjoy ridiculing people like that (“Oh no, a microbe, I’m sure to die a hideous death!”), but nonetheless I was hoping that I didn’t end up at this clerk’s window.  I didn’t.

The drive to work around 3 pm was uneventful, although the message boards warned about a closed right lane near Exit 53 it must have reopened by the time I got there.  The 25-mile drive took me just over a half-hour.  One sort of odd thing happened at work.  I was in the hallway near the main entrance when I saw one of the managers showing this man around the place.  I hadn’t seen this man before, and given the way he was being shown around he probably was a visitor rather than an employee or agent.  All of a sudden he came up to me, shook my hand, and said “I’m sorry I don’t remember your name, but I know you, I’m [John Smith].”  I told him my name and asked from where he knew me.  He said it probably was from elsewhere in the industry, at which point I told him I was still new in the industry.  I told him the name of my former employer, but it wasn’t familiar to him.  Where “John Smith” knew me from, I just can’t imagine.  His real name was somewhat distinctive, in other words if I’d ever known someone by that name I’d remember the name even if not the person.  Sometime later the thought occurred to me that we might have gone to the same high school, but that’s relatively unlikely because I went to high school in Connecticut.  In any event, he seemed to be several years older than me, so we probably wouldn’t have been in high school at the same time.  He might have been a senior when I was a freshman, but of course seniors don’t take notice of freshmen, except perhaps to steal their lunch money.  Very strange.  I ended up leaving work around 7:30 for yet another easy trip home.  Had I left an hour or so later it would have been a more difficult trip, as by then it had begun raining very heavily.

Gym: I went in the early afternoon for a run on the treadmill.  Instead of going for a set distance I decided to go for a set time, in this case 20 minutes at 5.3 mph, about 1.75 miles.

Published in: on March 23, 2010 at 2:23 am  Leave a Comment  

Sunday, March 21

After all the running I’ve been doing, I decided to stretch my break to two days and therefore stayed away from the treadmill for yet another day.  It was just a quick shoulder and leg session.  Hammer Strength shoulder presses: 4 x 8 x 100/100.  Life Fitness seated leg curls: 3 x 8 x 190.  Precor leg curls: 8 x 205, 8 x 210, 8 x 215, 8 x 220, 8 x 225.

Published in: on March 23, 2010 at 2:01 am  Leave a Comment