Monday, January 28 – Tuesday, January 29

Slowly getting back to normal

After a couple of dentist visits my tooth abscess is under control. Vicodin and Amoxicillin do tend to work wonders.  More visits will be necessary until the problem is completely solved, but the crisis is over.

I wasn’t able to work either day, which did make for a couple of boring days (I watched more TV these past two days than I probably have in the past two months).  And of course going to the gym was completely out of the question.  Ugh.

Published in: on January 31, 2013 at 3:35 am  Leave a Comment  

Thursday, January 24 – Sunday, January 27

Sorry for the lack of updates.  I’ve been really sick, with what turns out to be an abcessed tooth.  The pain has been just staggering, despite gobbling aspirin like M&M’s.  I’m seeing the dentist on Monday and hopefully will get things straightened out.

Published in: on January 28, 2013 at 4:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

Tuesday, January 22 – Wednesday, January 23

Weather overreaction

Really, enough is enough.  It had snowed a bit on Monday night, maybe two to three inches where I am, but rapidly diminishing as you headed west in Suffolk County and all but gone by the Nassau line.  While there was still some snow on the side streets when I left a little before six in the morning, the Expressway was completely clear and dry.  Absolutely nothing that should slow down traffic at all.    Well the joke was on me.  Apparently the fact that there had been some snow in some places several hours earlier was enough to make people stomp on their brake pedals like they were making wine the old-fashioned way.  Let me repeat, there was NO reason for such hyper-cautious driving, none whatsoever.

The drive to New Rochelle, just under 60 miles, took me nearly two hours, which is beyond absurd. And it would have been worse had I taken the Cross Island Parkway, as the entrance ramp from the Expressway was completely jammed.  I dealt with moderately heavy Expressway traffic for a couple more exits and got the Clearview to the Throgs Neck Bridge.  Fortunately, when I left the worksite in the early afternoon the morning’s paranoia had diminished, and the return trip was just over one hour.

Traffic on Thursday morning started out okay.  As I approached Exit 57, however, the overhead sign warned that two lanes were closed at Exit 46 due to a crash.  Traffic normally gets fairly busy in that area, and with two lanes down it was sure to be a nightmare.  I got off at Exit 53 and took the Northern State Parkway, figuring that would be a better alternative.  Indeed, when it crossed under the Expressway just west of the Nassau line, shortly before the crash site, I could plainly see that Expressway traffic was at a standstill.

Which did not mean that things would be a breeze for me, however, as the signs on the Northern State were warning of heavy traffic further ahead, no doubt from alternate volume.  In fact there was a time estimate of 31 minutes to the Cross Island, which at that point was a distance of less than 15 miles.  In what I have to say was a brilliant stroke of genius I got off the Northern State at the South Oyster Bay Road exit, drove north for not even a half-miles, and rejoined the Expressway just past the crash site.  Traffic was just fine, and I made it to the worksite in the north end of the Bronx in about 1:20.  Getting home was slower, about 1:45, because I left later in the afternoon than usual and had to deal with some moderate rush hour slowdowns on the Expressway at the usual places.

Published in: on January 25, 2013 at 8:47 pm  Leave a Comment  

Monday, January 21

The benefits of a holiday

Today was a regular workday for me, despite the MLK Day holiday, but as you might guess I still benefited thanks to lighter-than-usual traffic.  Especially since today’s workplace was in the western part of the Bronx and therefore required a fairly lengthy drive through busy areas.

Traffic on the Long Island Expressway was, in my best estimate, around 75% of the level normally encountered that time of the morning.  I had gotten underway around 6:00 and was at the Queens-Nassau line in about 45 minutes.  There was a very, very slight slowdown around Exit 39, much less than normally would be the case.  I’d been considering taking the Throgs Neck Bridge to the Bruckner Expressway to the Major Deegan Expressway, but as the message signs on the Long Island Expressway were indicating a quick ride through Queens I decided to keep going until I got to the Grand Central Parkway right by Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.  Getting from the Expressway to the GCP requires a bit of weaving on a poorly designed (what a surprise!) ramp, which would be a daunting task on a regular workday.  Today it was no trouble, and I encountered no slowdowns on the GCP or across the Triboro Bridge to the Deegan.   The trip took about 1:15, for a distance of around 60 miles.

As I got out of work early in the afternoon I decided to take the Deegan to the Bruckner and then to the Throgs Neck Bridge.  Strange as it may seem, there’s something interesting about driving on the Bruckner, as it passes through gritty industrial areas.  I began to regret my decision when I encountered a very long line of traffic approaching the bridge, fortunately I was able to bypass some of it by exiting at Harding Avenue and then immediately re-entering right before the (obscene) toll booths.  That’s a useful maneuver that alas cannot be used after 4pm or after 12 noon on Fridays, as the Harding Avenue entrance is closed at those time.  Traffic over the bridge was very sluggish, I believe due to some earlier construction activity, which caused a few worries as I was extremely low on gas.  I made it across without running out, and got gas at a station I like on Northern Boulevard.  Not counting the gas stop, the return trip took about 1:30.

Published in: on January 23, 2013 at 1:55 am  Leave a Comment  

Friday, January 18 – Sunday, January 20

With my sore back on the road to recovery, Friday was my last rest day before returning to the gym.  When I went there on Saturday afternoon I decided to start with some benching, that being the easiest exercise on my back.  It went pretty well, too: 6 x 135, 6 x 185, 4 x 6 x 225, 6 x 185.  On Sunday, I did shoulder and (finally) some back work.  Life Fitness shoulder press: 4 x 8 x 100/100.  Hammer Strength MTS low row: 4 x 8 x 155.  It’s good to be back to the gym.

Published in: on January 22, 2013 at 2:50 am  Leave a Comment  

Wednesday, January 16 – Thursday, January 17

Weather, it’s a funny thing

Let’s consider what these days had in common.  The workplaces (Mamaroneck on Wednesday, Mount Vernon on Thursday) were within about five miles of each other, and on each day I left home around 5:45.  Neither day was a holiday of any sort, that might affect traffic volume, and as they were midweek days they generally can be expected to have more consistent traffic flows that would Mondays or Fridays.  Given all these factors, it would be quite reasonable for me to expect that my morning trips should have taken just the same amount of time each day, right?

As you’ve undoubtedly guessed by now, things weren’t the same at all.  The weather on Wednesday morning wasn’t too nice, rain with wet snow, and by the time I got to Mamaroneck there was a slushy inch or so on the ground.  Not too nice – but by no stretch of the imagination was it dangerous.  Which did not matter in the least.  In a stark illustration of the fragility of our transportation system, traffic was extremely slow most of the way, with more-than-occasional dead stops.  All it took was a few timid drivers to slow just a bit, and this caused a cascade of slowdowns that made for a miserable trip.  It took me over two hours to cover the 60-mile trip, which I will point out is almost entirely on limited-access highways.

Thursday couldn’t have been more different.  With clear weather, traffic zoomed right along, and I made it to Mount Vernon in about an hour and ten minutes.  As I had to wait awhile before starting work, I had ample opportunity to ponder the fundamental idiocy of so many drivers.  Getting home on Thursday was a breeze, taking just over an hour, Wednesday having been about ten minutes longer.


Published in: on January 19, 2013 at 3:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

Tuesday, January 16

The Clear(view) alternative

Today’s work location was in New Rochelle, no more than a mile or two away from yesterday’s.  I left about 5:50, and for the most part didn’t have too much trouble with traffic, the one exception being near Exit 52 on the Expressway where people were rubbernecking a minor crash in the opposite lanes.   Like it’s nothing they’ve ever seen before.  Mindful of yesterday’s long delays in exiting from the Expressway to the Cross Island, I decided to stay on the Expressway a couple of exits further and take the Clearview Expressway to the Throgs Neck Bridge.  This is a much better-designed exit than the abomination at the Cross Island.  Taking it is a calculated risk, however, because I would have to stay on the Expressway a couple more exits, right where traffic starts to get very heavy.

It all worked out okay, with traffic sluggish but moving, and once on the Clearview I had a very easy drive across the bridge and up I-95 to New Rochelle.  The 60-mile trip took me about 75 minutes, definitely not too bad.  As I was able to finish up well before the start of rush hour I made it home in just over an hour.

Published in: on January 18, 2013 at 3:45 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, January 15

Choke point

I left the house at about 5:45 for today’s work assignment in Westchester County.  This was perhaps an earlier departure than strictly necessary as the work location, in the upscale town of Mamaroneck, is about 60 miles away and I didn’t need to be there until eight.   I knew, however, that if I left much later I’d run into very heavy traffic on the Long Island Expressway and the journey would take an eternity.  Better to arrive early than deal with all the distinctly un-funny traffic comedy.

Expressway traffic wasn’t too bad at this early hour.  There was a slow stretch between exits 39 and 37, but otherwise I cruised along at normal highway speeds.   What was pretty bad, however, was the exit (31N) from the Expressway to the northbound Cross Island Parkway.  It starts out as two lanes, a third lane enters from a local street – and then it narrows to one lane right before entering the Cross Island.  You can easily imagine how this narrowing causes significant backups.  It took me about five minutes to cover a distance that couldn’t have been more than a quarter-mile.  What really irks me is that the exit is not a legacy from decades-old highway design, but had been completely reconstructed only a few years ago.  It apparently did not occur to the highly paid highway engineers that losing two of three lanes would result in chaos.

Fortunately, once past that point it was an easy drive on the Cross Island and over the Throgs Neck Bridge, and there were no lines at the (obscene) tolls.   Once over the bridge it was only about ten miles to Mamaroneck, though it took longer than it should have because I got off I-95 at Exit 15 instead of Exit 17 like I should have.  I had to drive on Route 1 (known variously as the Boston Post Road and Main Street) right through New Rochelle.  While I’ve driven through that city countless times on I-95 this was the first time I can recall that I drove through the center of town.  I’d have to say that it was more run-down than I would have expected, though it got nicer east of downtown.  Even with this exit confusion I made it to the worksite by 7:10, only about 1:25 after leaving home.

Getting home was completely uneventful, mainly because I was able to leave by 2:00.  That enabled me to beat the traffic almost all the way, though it was just beginning to get a bit heavy by Exit 55 on the Long Island Expressway.  My return journey was about 1:15.  God only knows what it would have been like during rush hour.

Published in: on January 16, 2013 at 3:35 am  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, January 12 – Sunday, January 13

A fairly busy weekend as I got stuff done prior to returning to work on Monday.  Given how boring things have been I have no idea how I could have lasted another two week.  On Sunday, I did some fairly light bench pressing: 6 x 135, 6 x 185, 2 x 8 x 225, 10 x 185.

Published in: on January 16, 2013 at 3:02 am  Leave a Comment  

Thursday, January 10 – Friday, January 11

Welcome news

I got a telephone call with some very welcome news.  Up until getting the call I’d been under the assumption that I’d be returning to work with a Long Island team on January 28.  The operations manager who called me said that due to various delays, the team wouldn’t be able to start until late February.  That part was not welcome news, as that long of a delay would start to hurt in a financial sense.  Not to mention the fact that I’d be going nuts with boredom.

What the manager said next, however, was a whole lot more pleasant.  As the company doesn’t want to leave me adrift for so long, starting next Monday (1/14) I’ll be able to work on a different team until my regular (well, new) one is ready to go.  As with the team that I was on in November and early December, the team that I’ll be on temporarily will work Monday through Thursday, with Fridays off, and will rotate among eight work locations on a daily basis.  Not working on Fridays will obviously mean a 20% reduction in income, but I can deal with that.  The locations are in the Bronx and the bordering parts of Westchester, which generally won’t be too bad in driving terms, probably on par with the Queens and Brooklyn locations where I worked last month.  The one downside is that I’ll have to pay the (obscene) tolls on the Throgs Neck Bridge, yes I get reimbursed for the (obscene) tolls, but it’s the principle of the thing.

Published in: on January 13, 2013 at 2:04 am  Leave a Comment