Tuesday, June 26 – Wednesday, June 27

Like night and day

It was back to Stamford for these two days, I’ll be returning to West Haven on Thursday.  I was hoping that Tuesday would be a good day traffic-wise.  For a somewhat selfish reason, as it was my birthday and I didn’t want it to be marred by traffic nonsense.  I got my wish.  Getting to the work location was a breeze, about 85 minutes, and the return trip in the early afternoon was okay if not without some troubles.  As I was heading south on I-95 into the Bronx I saw a sea of brake lights ahead of me.  I got off at Connor Street, the first exit in the Bronx, and  headed south on Baychester Avenue and a couple other streets whose names I didn’t notice.  I don’t know what caused all the traffic drama, but when I got a good look at I-95 near the Hutchinson River Parkway crossover things looked okay.  I got back on the highway, and within a few minutes was across the Throgs Neck Bridge into Queens.  Traffic on the Cross Island Parkway and the Long Island Expressway was moving okay, and even with my short detour onto surface streets the return journey took just under two hours.

Wednesday was a much worse day.  A thoroughly wretched day, in fact.  My morning trip took 1:45, about 20 minutes longer than usual, due to a completely inexplicable slowdown on the Expressway in western Nassau.  There were no obvious reasons for the heavy traffic and the electronic message signs showed the long travel times but did not give any reasons.  As for getting home, the less said, the better.  Even though I left well before rush hour it took an agonizing 45 minutes to get over the Throgs Neck Bridge.  I figured that there must have been a crash or construction work on the span, but there was nothing.  As far as I can tell, it was all attributable to heavy volume, but why?  I haven’t a clue.

Wednesday evening I did some back work at the gym.  Hammer Strength MTS Front Pulldown: 3 x 8 x 100/100.  Hammer Strength MTS High Row: 6 x 6 x 100/100.


Published in: on June 29, 2012 at 10:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

Monday, June 25

West Haven wasn’t so bad

Today marked the start of my assignment further into the hinterlands of Connecticut, West Haven to be precise.  Driving to Stamford has been no picnic and I was worried that West Haven would be a disaster.  Well, if today is any guide – and I’m certainly not so naive to think every day will be so easy – my worries may be unfounded.  It took me under two hours to get there in the morning.  That’s about a half-hour longer than the usual trip to Stamford.  One thing that helped is that the customer’s location in West Haven is right off I-95, as compared to the one in Stamford that requires a drive of about ten minutes on (traffic-light-filled) city streets. It also helped that I was traveling at an absurdly early hour, having left home before 5 am in order to get to West Haven by 7.

I left the work location about 3pm and was expecting a very tough trip home.  It would be close to 4:30 before I got to the Long Island Expressway, assuming nothing went wrong, which meant that I’d be right in the midst of rush hour traffic.  Amazingly, everything went well.  I ran into no significant traffic in Connecticut, Westchester or the Bronx, and made it to the Queens side of the Throgs Neck Bridge just after 4.  The Cross Island Parkway actually was moving at a decent clip, and to my real amazement the Expressway was moving well with just the usual delays in the usual spots (to recap: about a mile or so approaching Exit 38, between exits 49 and 50, and between exits 55 and 57).  I was home by 5:30, and that is with a 15-minute Diet Pepsi stop in eastern Nassau.  Two hours and 15 minutes was a whole lot better than I had expected.  Of course, like the stockbroker ads say, past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Addendum: some might wonder why I don’t take the Port Jefferson-Bridgeport ferry.  It would cut out a whole lot of driving time.  Well, the reason is that the fare for a car and driver is an obscene $54 each way, and unlike driving mileage my company doesn’t reimburse for the fare.  Even traveling as a walk-on passenger without a vehicle is $18 each way.  The nerve of them.

Published in: on June 27, 2012 at 11:41 pm  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, June 23 – Sunday, June 24

More or less a lazy weekend.  I managed to accomplish … well, not much.  I had a bench press session on Saturday that unfortunately got cut short by some elbow soreness.  One thing you learn in the gym is that there is a very important distinction between Good Pain and Bad Pain.  My elbow soreness was Bad but not bad.  In other words, while it was minor, scarcely noticeable at all, I could tell that it was being caused by something – a sore tendon is my best guess – that could get much worse if I kept lifting.  So even though I’d been going for a 5 x 5 at 225, I called it quits after the third set, just to be on the safe side.  My final results for benching were 6 x 135, 6 x 165, 4 x 185, 2 x 205, 3 x 5 x 225.  A slight disappointment, but then again 15 total reps at 225 is nothing to be ashamed of.

Published in: on June 27, 2012 at 11:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

Wednesday, June 20 – Friday, June 22

The City of Brotherly Love

On Wednesday I found out that I’ll be spending the week of July 2 on a special project in Philadelphia.  It’s actually a voluntary thing, but by accepting this assignment I’ll be making extra money.  In addition, companies usually like it when employees take on extra assignments.  Of course there’s a risk that by voluntarily taking on this assignment I might get a reputation as someone on whom it’s okay to pile extra work, but I know my employer well enough by now that I don’t consider this to be a significant possibility.  As part of the assignment I’ll get five nights’ accommodation and a food allowance.  One interesting thing is that because the project in question is a matter of some urgency, I’ll be working on the Fourth.  That’ll be a bit odd, I’ve never worked on that holiday before, but I don’t mind, given that I’ll be well-compensated for my efforts.

Going back to this week, Wednesday and Thursday were generally uneventful.  Both days were extremely hot, with temperatures around 100, so I had to keep the air conditioning running in my car each afternoon.  Oddly enough, that doesn’t seem to extract too much of a penalty in terms of poorer gas mileage.  Traffic wasn’t really any trouble either day, it helped that I was able to leave Stamford early enough to miss rush hour on Long Island.  Each day took about 85 minutes in the morning and about an hour and 45 minutes in the afternoon.

Friday afternoon was a very different story.  A severe storm front was scheduled come through the area in mid-afternoon and I was hoping to finish up in time to avoid it.  That, alas, was not to be.  When I left Stamford around 2 pm it wasn’t raining, but within a half hour it was raining very heavily.  Still, I made decent time to the Throgs Neck Bridge.  An electric traffic-information sign on the bridge said that “JFK via CIP [Cross Island Parkway] 38 minutes.”  Normally it’s about 17 or 18 minutes, and though the Long Island Expressway exit is well before JFK Airport I figured that traffic to my exit would be troublesome.  Sure enough, there was a very long line of cars at the Cross Island exit and my glimpse of traffic on the Cross Island showed it to be an elongated parking lot rather than a thoroughfare.

Undaunted, I headed south on the Clearview, only for things to go from bad to the worst imaginable.  First of all, the storm became ferocious, with torrential rain cutting visibility to a dangerously short distance and with lightning crashing down nearby.  I would not have been surprised by hail or even a tornado.  Then, as I got closer to the Long Island Expressway exit, I was greeted by the highly unwelcome sight of an endless line of vehicles waiting to exit.  It started at least a half mile before the exit ramp.  So I headed a bit further, the worst of the storm having cleared, to get on the Grand Central/Northern State Parkway.  As I was literally right on the entrance ramp I heard the radio traffic report say that two lanes on the eastbound Northern State were blocked at New Hyde Park Road, about five miles ahead, by a fallen tree.

It looked like regular streets would be my best option.  I got off almost immediately, at Union Turnpike, and headed through eastern Queens and western Nassau County using surface streets.  My route was Union Turnpike –> Marcus Avenue –> Hillside Avenue –> Herricks Road –> Searingtown Road –> I.U. Willets Road (love that name) –> Roslyn Road, finally rejoining the Northern State.  Traffic on these roads moved better than I had expected, the only significant delays being some minor flooding on Marcus Avenue and a nonfunctioning traffic light (due to a localized power failure) at the intersection of I.U. Willets and Willis Avenue.  The Northern State was moving well, although westbound traffic was very heavy, and when I rejoined the Expressway at the crossover in Plainview I was surprised to see that it was doing pretty well too.  Even so, my return journey took over two and a half hours, though on a more pleasant note the storm front dropped temperatures by over 20 degrees in a couple of hours.

Published in: on June 24, 2012 at 3:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

Monday, June 18 – Tuesday, June 19

So what am I supposed to complain about?

Here’s a big secret: as much as I hate bad traffic, just like the way I hated train delays when I rode the LIRR, complaining about it/them is actually sort of fun.  Don’t get me wrong, I much prefer being able to zoom right along with no stop-and-go nonsense, but it would be wrong for me to deny that complaining can be fun.  Must be something inherent in human nature.

Well here’s the thing: with my work at the customer’s place of business in Stamford being in the process of winding down, I was able to leave work by 1:30 or so on both Monday and Tuesday.  I still get paid as if I worked until 3, that’s the deal.  Combined with a lack of any delays on I-95, what this early departure meant is that I was able to get across the Throgs Neck Bridge and onto the Long Island Expressway by about 2:15.  Even with the Expressway’s absurdly elongated concept of “rush hour” I was able to beat the traffic and make it home in under two hours each day.  My pleasure was coupled with a note of caution, however, as when I start working in West Haven (probably after the 4th of July) the extra driving time means that I’ll be more vulnerable to Expressway traffic.  But hey, I’ll deal with that when it happens.  Both morning trips were easy, under the 90-minute mark.

Gym: did some back work on Monday.  Hammer Strength MTS front pulldown: 8 x 100/100, 8 x 110/110, 8 x 110/110.  Hammer Strength MTS high row: 3 x 8 x 90/90.  Bench press: 6 x 135, 4 x 185, 6 x 225, 4 x 225.



Published in: on June 20, 2012 at 7:23 pm  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, June 16 – Sunday, June 17

Not a bad weekend.  On Saturday we went to Briermere Farms in Riverhead, which has just about the best pies anywhere.  We got two, apricot and Key lime, and within a couple of days both pulled a disappearing act.  I also had a decent gym session on Saturday evening.  Seated shoulder press: 8 x 95, 8 x 115, 8 x 125, 8 x 135.  Bench press: 6 x 135, 6 x 165, 6 x 185, 6 x 205, 6 x 225, 4 x 225, 8 x 185, 10 x 135.  Sunday was pretty much a day off from everything.

Published in: on June 20, 2012 at 6:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

Thursday, June 14 – Friday, June 15

Bridge and Friday follies

Neither of these days ranks among my better ones.  Thursday started out okay, with a faster-than-usual morning trip, barely 80 minutes to cover 75 miles.  My fast time is mostly attributable to unusually good luck with the forest of traffic lights in downtown Stamford.  I left around 2:30, encountering some traffic on I-95 near the Stamford-Greenwich line but nothing too bad.  The radio traffic report mentioned that a truck fire on the New Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge was being cleared, but there was nothing else that seemed out of the ordinary.  I pretty much ignored that report and continued on my merry way down I-95.  Big mistake.  About a mile before the Throgs Neck Bridge exit traffic locked up tighter than a drum.  The bridge delays stretched all the way back, past the Bruckner Interchange.  It took me nearly 20 minutes to cover the one mile to the exit.  This delay had a further effect, as it meant that I didn’t get onto the Long Island Expressway (via the Cross Island) until about 3:30, which in turn translated to some very sluggish traffic at the usual spots.  My return journey ended up taking about 2:15, compared to the 1:40 or so it would have taken without the delay on I-95.

Friday?  The less said about Friday, the better.  Sure, the morning was fine, but I knew that the afternoon would be a disaster.  It was the start of a summer weekend, with a forecast of fine weather, and of course it was Father’s Day weekend.  I’ll spare you the gruesome details, only pointing out that it took 2:45 for me to get home even though I left shortly after two in the afternoon.  I encountered something new – a long delay (c. 15 minutes) at the Throgs Neck Bridge toll booth, even though I have EZ-Pass.   Not only are the tolls obscene, but I had the dubious “privilege” of waiting to pay them.

On a different note, I found out on Friday that I’ll be going to Stamford at least until Wednesday of next week, possibly for the entire week.  That’s just as well, as it postpones what I know will be an even worse trip to West Haven.

Gym: I did some benching on Thursday evening.  6 x 135, 6 x 165, 4 x 185, 2 x 205, 2 x 6 x 225, 8 x 185, 10 x 135.

Published in: on June 18, 2012 at 12:47 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, June 11 – Wednesday, June 13

Split-second timing

In my third week of driving to Stamford every day, I’ve come to a tentative conclusion: a difference of 10 minutes in the time I leave the customer’s place of business can translate into a difference of 30 minutes in the time I reach home.  It should come as no surprise that traffic on the Long Island Expressway is the culprit.  Here are my results for these three days:

  • Monday: left worksite at 3:00, got home at 5:10 (2 hours 10 minutes)
  • Tuesday: left worksite at 2:40, got home at 4:25 (1 hour 45 minutes)
  • Wednesday: left worksite at 1:30, got home at 3:00 ( 1 hour 30 minutes)

It usually takes me about 40 minutes to get to the Expressway from Stamford.  Until this week it generally had been a bit less, but for some reason I’ve lately been encountering sluggish traffic on I-95 as far as Exit 3 in Greenwich even though I’m driving outside of rush hour.  If I reach the Expressway before 3:00 I generally can zoom right along with only a couple relatively brief slowdowns.  It may be no coincidence that 3:00 is the start of rush hour, at least that’s when the HOV lane restrictions begin. After 3:00, even just slightly after, and the slowdowns are much worse.  For instance, on Monday, I didn’t get onto the Expressway until 3:45, and absolutely crawled for several long stretches.  The worst of all was between exits 53 and 58, a distance of maybe five miles that took me over 20 minutes.

All in all, it’s just bizarre how quickly traffic builds up in the afternoons.  And it sort of defies logic.  I speak of 3:45 as a very late time to get a start on Expressway traffic, when in fact most people are still at work at that time.  At least mornings are predictable, as I can count on an 80- to 85-minute trip.



Published in: on June 16, 2012 at 12:49 am  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, June 9 – Sunday, June 10

Some decent gym work on both days.  Saturday I started out with bench presses: 6 x 135, 6 x 165, 4 x 185, 2 x 205, 2 x 6 x 225, 2 x 4 x 225, 10 x 185.  Then I did seated shoulder presses: 8 x 95, 8 x 105, 8 x 115.  On Sunday I did back work, and instead of the T-bar rows I’ve been doing for a while I decided to mix things up and do Hammer Strength MTS high rows: 8 x 100/100, 8 x 110/110, 8 x 100/100, 8 x 110/110, 8 x 100/100.

Published in: on June 14, 2012 at 1:20 am  Leave a Comment  

Friday, June 8

Me no likely summer Fridays

Ugh.  And double ugh.  Getting to Stamford this morning was no trouble, my usual 85-minute trip, but getting home?  Another story indeed.  I was lulled into a false sense of security by a fairly easy drive to the Throgs Neck Bridge. Traffic moved just fine on I-95 and over the bridge itself.  I decided to take the Clearview to the Long Island Expressway because traffic on the Cross Island looked heavy.  What I wasn’t expecting is that traffic on the Clearview got very slow over a half-mile before the exit to the eastbound Expressway.  This was merely a foreshadowing of what joys awaited me on the Expressway itself.  It took me nearly 90 minutes to cover the 40 or so miles to my exit.  Traffic was stop and go all the way to Exit 38, once again between 40 and 41 and between 48 and 50, but the worst was yet to come.  Traffic shut down tighter than a drum at Exit 53 and didn’t start to ease until Exit 61, several miles away.  All the time I was silently (or silent-ish) cursing all the people who had gotten it into their heads that it would be so nice to get away for the weekend.  Hey, I don’t care if they have fancy vacation plans, but it would be so much nicer if they could have waited until I got off the Expressway.

I found out that in another couple of weeks I’ll be going to a different customer’s place of business in Connecticut … specifically, West Haven.  That’s a good 25 miles beyond Stamford, meaning that I’ll be driving 100 miles each way.  Fortunately, it’ll be only for a couple of weeks, then I’ll be working back on Long Island for the foreseeable future.

Published in: on June 14, 2012 at 1:13 am  Comments (2)