Wednesday, April 25 – Friday, April 27

Winding up the campaign

This week marks the end of our current sales campaign, as we roll out a new one next week.  I’m quite happy, as the old one seems to have run its course.  Results for this week don’t appear to be any less dismal than they were last week.  Traffic was no trouble at all, except for a very minor slowdown on Thursday morning near the Southern State Parkway exit.  As for other scintillating things to say, well, I can’t quite think of much.  On Wednesday I ellipted for 25 minutes at a nice pace, and on Friday evening I made some progress in knocking off the bottle of 101-proof Wild Turkey I bought last week … hey, aren’t these two things sorta contradictory?

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Published in: on April 30, 2012 at 2:16 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, April 23 – Tuesday, April 24

It shrank.  Yeah, that’s what happened.

I actually was looking forward to work on Monday after last week’s managerial pep talk.  Getting there was a breeze, with smoothly flowing traffic on the Sunrise Highway, even though the cold rainy weather seemed more appropriate to early March than the second half of April.  Not much to say about the workday itself, other than that it seemed to go more quickly than usual.  Getting home was easy too.

Tuesday morning I went to wear a shirt that I haven’t worn in a while, and found to my great dismay that it was too tight to wear.  It used to fit just fine, and as much as I’d like to think that it shrank I know that’s not the case.  Ugh.  There was some moderate traffic on the drive into work, this time close to the Southern State Parkway exit, and the workday itself went a bit more slowly than Monday.  I had to go into an eastern Nassau County location later in the day, and while the east-west difference compared to the normal workplace was only a few miles, the fact that I had to return home on the Expressway closer to the main part of rush hour made for a very long trip.  About 45 minutes for not much over 25 miles, in fact.  I’m so glad I don’t have to deal with that nonsense every day.

Gym: what with the morning’s rude surprise, I decided to concentrate on aerobic exercise for a while, not so much on weights.  As it was necessary to start out slowly, I ellipted for 25 minutes at a midrange pace and resistance.  My plan is to stick with the elliptical for a while, and then as I get more accustomed to that sort of exercise I’ll start running on the treadmill.

Published in: on April 25, 2012 at 3:12 am  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, April 21 – Sunday, April 22

No culinary adventures to report on Saturday.  We had the ultra-prosaic franks and beans, which if I may say so really hit the spot.  As much as I like making interesting creations on weekends, sometimes ordinary is good.  Now Sunday, on the other hand, was a very different story.  I made something really exotic, namely pizza.  Wait, what’s so exotic about ‘za, you ask?  Well this particular pizza was topped with meatballs … lamb meatballs.  I’ve never had such a thing before, or for that matter lamb in any form on a pizza, but it was an excellent combination.  One thing I’m never any good at is stretching the pizza dough into even a very rough approximation of a circle.  This time was no exception, with the pizza’s shape being somewhat reminiscent of the outline of Ohio.  Too bad I didn’t top it with buckeyes.

Got in some benching on Sunday, my elbow swelling finally having subsided.  No records, but a decent bench session: 6 x 135, 6 x 165, 4 x 185, 2 x 205, 4 x 6 x 225, 10 x 185.

Published in: on April 25, 2012 at 2:32 am  Leave a Comment  

Thursday, April 19 – Friday, April 20

I know I’m not in the insurance business anymore

There’s no glossing over it, this week has been really bad in terms of sales.  Not just for me, but for the two other people who work the same types of accounts as I do.  It’s basically been a Murphy’s Law situation, anything that could possibly go bad, went bad.  Customer resistance in many cases grew to the point of being outright hostility.  About the only consolation was knowing that it wasn’t just me, with the other two people having it just as hard, even though both of them have more experience than I do.

My time in the insurance industry made me dread what the manager might say or do.  In that field, if you’re in a slump, you’ll be blamed for not having a sufficiently positive attitude or a strong enough work ethic, and management may drop hints about how easily you can be replaced by people who will have the right attitude.  You will get absolutely no help or encouragement.  The fact that insurance sales “jobs” are straight commission, and your slump doesn’t really cost the companies much, is totally beside the point. So I was prepared to face similar abuse, even though the other two salespeople assured me that it wouldn’t be that way.  I can hardly be blamed for being gun-shy.

My worries were unfounded.  The manager spoke to us three salespeople on Friday afternoon, and to my great (and pleasant) surprise had no criticism or threats at all.  He said that he was aware that we were all trying very hard, and said that the slump was not our fault in any respect.  One bit of good news is that we’ll be starting a new campaign in a couple of weeks that he hopes will be very promising.  And the piece de resistance is that he let us leave two hours early with no reduction in pay.  The last point brings up the fact that this being a salaried job, the bad week actually cost the company money, unlike the case with straight commission “jobs.” As I drove home, all I could think about is just how loathsome the insurance industry really is.

Speaking of driving, there was no significant traffic on Thursday, and just a couple of very short delays on Friday.  Go figure. I didn’t go to the gym either day as I’m still resting my swollen elbow, which is definitely on the mend.

Published in: on April 23, 2012 at 1:18 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, April 16 – Wednesday, April 18

Well that was certainly a surprise

Don’t ask me what was up with the Sunrise Highway on both Monday and Tuesday mornings.  In sharp contrast to my usual pattern of zooming right along, on both days I encountered Expressway-style delays, fortunately of shorter duration than what is characteristic of the latter thoroughfare.  In both cases the delays began near Exit 50, Lincoln Avenue, and cleared up near Exit 48, Locust Avenue.  The beginnings and endings were quite abrupt.  Now, what is strange is that neither of the aforementioned exits is a logical place for delays to begin or end.  In the mornings there is heavy entering volume at Exit 51, Nicholls Road, and heavy exiting volume at Exit 46 for the Southern State Parkway. Yet the delays began after Exit 51 and (substantially) before Exit 46. I cannot begin to explain why.  Nor can I explain why traffic zoomed right along on Wednesday morning.  Some things, I have come to believe, defy rational explanation, and traffic delays are among them.

Gym: I didn’t go as I’m trying to rest my troublesome left elbow.  While the soreness that had bothered me for weeks is gone, I now have some swelling right on the outside of the joint.  It’s a painless soft swelling that doesn’t bother me in any way, but I’m concerned that doing heavy exercise could make things worse.  So I’m going to wait a while, it won’t matter.

Published in: on April 20, 2012 at 1:56 am  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, April 14 – Sunday, April 15

I continued with last weekend’s Mexican theme when it came to making dinner on Saturday.  This time it was something rather unusual, a soup – or stew, really – made with lentils, tomatoes, chorizo, plantain, pears and pineapple.  I know, don’t say it, combining pears and pineapple with the other ingredients, especially tomato and chorizo, sounds really weird.  Yet this strange mixture actually worked well together.  Who would have thought it?  Sunday’s dinner was a bit more prosaic, minute steaks in a homemade tomato sauce over fideos.  I wasn’t entirely pleased with the results, mainly because the sauce was a bit too thin, but it wasn’t a failure by any means.  I’ll be handing off cooking duties for the next couple of days.

My gym sessions on both Saturday and Sunday went very well.  Saturday was T-bar rows, and a new record: 8 x 160, 8 x 165, 8 x 170, 8 x 175, 8 x 180, 8 x 160.  180 was an especially satisfying milestone because it represents four 45-pound plates on the bar, even though I didn’t actually use that arrangement when I got it (I used three 45’s, a 25, and two 1o’s.)  Sunday was bench pressing: 6 x 135, 6 x 165, 4 x 185, 2 x 205, 8 x 225, 6 x 235, 4 x 245, 10 x 180.

Published in: on April 16, 2012 at 2:22 am  Leave a Comment  

Thursday, April 12 – Friday, April 13

Nothing much happened

Two rather uneventful days, even though Friday was Friday the 13th.  But then again, for most people, in most jobs, work usually is uneventful.  There was a feature in Cracked a while back about how Hollywood gets the workplace wrong, and one of the things it mentioned is how movies and TV shows often portray worklife as a series of making big deals or landing major accounts (“Honey, I’ll be late for dinner, I’m preparing a big presentation pitch for the Smith account.”)  In reality, most jobs are far less dramatic, instead consisting of relatively minor tasks done over and over again.  Even well-paid jobs are not immune to this.  Say, for example, that you’re a physician.  Most workdays consist of patients coming in to your office with the same routine complaints.  “Doctor, I have a sore throat.  Doctor, I have a migraine.  Doctor, I have a tapeworm.”  All right, maybe not the last of these, but you get my point.

No traffic issues either day.  It’s really amazing how much better traffic moves on the Sunrise Highway as compared to the Expressway.  Especially considering that they more or less parallel each other about five miles apart.  The fact that the Sunrise has traffic lights in Nassau may be relevant here, as well as the fact that there are fewer connection options once you reach the city line.  For me, however, it works just fine, as my driving is strictly on the limited-access portion.

Gym: Some benching on Thursday, no records but still pretty good.  6 x 135, 6 x 165, 4 x 185, 2 x 205, 8 x 225, 6 x 225, 4 x 225, 10 x 185.

Published in: on April 15, 2012 at 2:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

Monday, April 9 – Wednesday, April 11

The Sun rises on the Sunrise

Now that I’m back to working in the satellite office, it’s time for some observations on what I sometimes think of as Suffolk’s other highway, namely the Sunrise Highway.  Technically known as NY Route 27, the Sunrise is a bit schizophrenic in its setup as it travels almost the entire length of Long Island.  It’s basically an ordinary city street near its start in Brooklyn and Queens, known mainly as Linden Boulevard.  Once it hits the Nassau line the Sunrise Highway moniker begins but its character goes through only a partial transformation.  It’s a very busy 4- and sometimes 6-lane road, a major commercial artery, but not a limited-access highway.  There are traffic lights at the major intersections, and the tie-ups can be brutal.  For most of the distance the LIRR’s Babylon line runs along the Sunrise’s northern side on an embankment, giving riders a good view of the heavy road traffic.  And an opportunity to gloat as they speed past traffic jams, though of course any regular LIRR rider knows better than to gloat, given the railroad’s propensity for maddening delays.  Businesses of all sorts line the Sunrise’s southern side, including a curiously large number of car dealers.

Right about at the Nassau-Suffolk line the Sunrise’s character goes through some major changes.  First, it moves a bit to the north and no longer is right next to the LIRR line.  For the next couple of miles businesses line it on both sides.  And then, right where the LIRR Central Branch crosses on a trestle, the traffic lights stop.  One moment you’re on a busy road with sidewalks and traffic lights, and the next you’re on a limited access highway.  There are service roads on both sides, with many businesses (and even a few residences) lining them almost nonstop, so it’s not like you’re out in the country or anything.  It stays this way, though growing progressively less busy and eventually losing the service roads, for something like 40 miles until Southampton.  At that point it reverts to being a 4-lane and then 2-lane road with lights for the final 20 miles to Montauk, and especially in the summer can get some massive traffic jams at intersections.

Anyway … my driving on the Sunrise is on the limited-access portion, and I find it generally much less prone to heavy traffic than the Expressway.  No comparison, really.  In the afternoons there can be some delays where the road loses an eastbound lane going through the Connetequot State Park, fortunately my work schedule generally allows me to pass through just before things get bad.  All in all I’d say that my rate of speed during rush hour is about twice what it would be on the Expressway.  While it doesn’t much matter given the reasonable traffic, I actually could take the LIRR to work from the Patchogue station, the one downside being that my workplace is about a 20-minute walk from the nearest LIRR station.  Still, it might be worth trying in nice weather, and the fact that a round-trip ticket is barely $5 makes the idea quite attractive given high gasoline prices.

Gym: I did some benching on Monday but ran out of energy rather quickly.  Dunno why.  Still, my numbers weren’t that bad: 6 x 135, 6 x 165, 4 x 185, 2 x 205, 3 x 4 x 225, 6 x 185.  Other things intervened on Tuesday and Wednesday, and I wasn’t able to go.

Published in: on April 13, 2012 at 1:03 am  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, April 7 – Sunday, April 8

It was a generally quiet Easter weekend, but I got to show off my culinary skills (such as they are).  On Saturday, I found an interesting recipe in a Mexican cookbook for Torta Azteca, which is basically a Mexican lasagna using tortilla chips instead of pasta, crema instead of ricotta, and chicken instead of beef … actually, with all these “instead ofs” it barely qualifies as a form of lasagna at all.  Whatever the case, everyone liked it and there were no leftovers.  It was fun to make, too, I even cut some tortillas into wedges and toasted them rather than buying pre-made tortilla chips.

I can’t say that making Easter dinner on Sunday was much of a chore, being that we had a spiral ham that merely had to be reheated.  Nevertheless, getting everything ready at the same time took some effort.  Continuing with Saturday’s Mexican theme, one of the vegetables I served was chayote, thinly sliced and sauteed with olive oil.

On Saturday I went to the gym and did some pretty decent T-bar rows: 8 x 150, 8 x 155, 8 x 160, 8 x 165, 8 x 170, 8 x 175.  I was going to go in the early afternoon on Sunday for some benching but realized too late that they had closed at noon for the holiday.

Published in: on April 10, 2012 at 12:39 am  Leave a Comment  

Thursday, April 5 – Friday, April 6

Days off

What with the early completion of the training sessions I had these two days off from work.  Which isn’t to say they were idle, at least not Thursday, as I seemed to have a vast number of errands that had to be run. On Friday, one of those errands included a trip to the local DMV office.  Years ago I used to live in Connecticut, where DMV trips indeed were among the worst things in the world.  Endless lines, lazy and incompetent employees, confusing paperwork, you name it.  Those unhappy experiences have scarred me for life, and even today I anticipate every DMV trip as being a fate worse than death.  Today, it as turned out, the experience wasn’t so bad.  I was in and out within 20 minutes, the paperwork was relatively simple, and the employee with whom I dealt, while not a Miss Congeniality candidate, was at least reasonably non-hostile and had some idea of what she was doing.  What a breath of fresh air!

I did some benching on Thursday, a slight step down from my recently achieved goal of ten at 225: 6 x 135, 6 x 165, 4 x 185, 2 x 205, 6 x 225, 6 x 235, 3 x 245.

Published in: on April 8, 2012 at 11:42 pm  Leave a Comment