Monday, June 24 – Wednesday, June 26

Three for three (am, that is)

That’s right.  Three days in a row of getting up at 3 am for work assignments.  I never thought I would have survived such a brutal ordeal (is there such a thing as a non-brutal ordeal?), but somehow I did.

Monday’s assignment was on the east side on Manhattan, East 57th Street to be specific.  Traffic on the Long Island Expressway wasn’t much at that ridiculously early hour and I was over the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge into Manhattan just about an hour after leaving home.  Wary of getting another parking ticket – I think that the city won’t tow a car that has just two unpaid tickets, but I’m not actually sure – I spent about a half-hour cruising the blocks in the upper 50’s and lower 60’s east of Second Avenue looking for legal parking spaces.  It was a classic good news/bad news scenario.  The good news is that there is quite a lot of on-street parking in that area, the bad news is that all the spaces were taken.  Finally, without much time to spare, I threw in the towel and parked in a reasonably priced garage on East 62nd.  Paying for parking really ruffles my feathers, even though I get reimbursed.  My trip home was easy enough, though I noticed that westbound Expressway traffic was an absolute mess due to road construction near Exit 34.

Tuesday it was off to White Plains.  While it was a longer drive than to Manhattan there wouldn’t be any parking issues, so I left at the usual time.  My route took me over the Throgs Neck Bridge, (obscene) tolls of course, and then to the Hutchinson River Parkway.  Traffic was very light, more so than on Monday, and the entire trip took about an hour and twenty minutes.  These very early work assignments reimburse for travel according to a distance formula derived from Google Maps rather than actual time on the road, so it’s not necessary for me to keep track of my travel time.  Getting back home took rather longer due to construction delays on the bridge.  Even though the lane closure was near the Queens tower the delays began well back into the Bronx side, at least a quarter-mile before the (obscene) toll booths.  For a few moments I thought I’d have to use the Harding Avenue Manoever to reduce the delays, but that didn’t prove necessary.

On Tuesday evening we celebrated my birthday a day early, as there will be some scheduling issues on Wednesday.  Nothing fancy, just a nice dinner at home with an excellent peach cobbler.  Also on Tuesday I found out a major change in my upcoming work schedule.  After finishing up the 3-week assignment in Mount Vernon in late July I will not be going to Port Chester for three months as originally planned.  Instead, I’ll be on a newly created team that will be working entirely on Long Island.  I am very pleased with this turn of events.  Even though I’m paid well for travel time long drives are still tough to deal with, especially as the Port Chester assignment would require considerable exposure to rush hour traffic.  Also, my Subaru has almost 140,000 miles on it, and the less I drive, the better.

I “celebrated” my birthday on Wednesday by getting up once again at the ghastly hour of 3 am.  Fortunately this is the last time I’ll be doing such a gruesome thing this week, as on Thursday and Friday I’ll be working close to home and starting at 7 am.  Not sure about next week yet.  I had to schlep all the way to Westport, Connecticut, a distance of about 85 miles each way.  Fortunately, traffic was light as usual and I made the drive in well under two hours.  Getting home was a bit tough due to the ongoing work on the Throgs Neck, but it really wasn’t too bad.  I actually made it to hot yoga in the evening and somehow made it through the session reasonably intact.  Of course, what with the heat wave we’ve been having the hot yoga room didn’t seem as bad as it usually does!

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Published in: on June 27, 2013 at 2:07 am  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, June 22 – Sunday, June 23

I figured I’d better hit the gym both days, as on Monday and Tuesday I’ll be getting up at 3 am for work assignments and probably won’t be in any mood for exercise afterwards.   On Saturday I did bench presses: 6 x 135, 6 x 185, 4 x 205, 3 x 4 x 225, 8 x 185, 10 x 135.  Then I did three sets of ten on my “homegrown” exercise with the 20-pound medicine ball.  Sunday I did T-bar rows, and plenty of them: 6 x 6 x 145.  I also did two sets of ten with the medicine ball.

Other than that, it wasn’t a particularly busy weekend. I did some lawn mowing, as with ferociously hot weather on the way I’m not about to be doing any during the week.  Sunday evening was Buddhist meditation at the yoga center, I’m really starting to get into it.

Published in: on June 27, 2013 at 1:23 am  Leave a Comment  

Wednesday, June 19 – Friday, June 21

I guess it’s maybe sorta getting more tolerable

Wednesday began bright and early, actually dark and early, as I hit the road at a ghastly 3 am for a 5 am start in Manhattan.  I decided to time my trip, and  was in for quite a surprise.  After a quick stop at the 7-11 by Exit 64 on the Long Island Expressway, it was 3:16 am.  When I parked my car 55 miles away, at the corner of Forsyth and Rivington streets, it was 4:20.  Yep, that’s right, one hour and four minutes to cover that distance.  Had I started out a couple hours later the drive would have taken at least twice as long.  And this was including a delay of a few minutes caused by repaving work on the Expressway shortly after the Queens line.  Otherwise there were no slowdowns on the Long Island Expressway, the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, or over the Williamsburg Bridge.

Thursday’s trip, to a worksite near Columbus Circle, took somewhat longer.  The Expressway’s repaving delay was no longer than the day before, I got over the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge easily enough, but I had a lot of trouble finding a parking spot.  First I tried 66th Street west of Amsterdam, where I had found a spot the last time I was working at this location, but nothing was available.  With increasing concern I kept looking, finally finding a spot all the way north on 71st Street.  I had to walk pretty fast to cover the half-mile to Columbus Circle by 5, but I made it, barely.  Oh, when I got back to my car I had a $65 ticket, apparently parking was allowed only until 8.  Even though it’s only my second parking ticket in the city, nowhere near the point at which I would risk getting towed, I’ll have to pay the ticket out of moral obligation – ha ha, you actually believed that??

Because I finished long before rush hour, one of the perks of starting so early, I had no trouble at all getting home either day.  While on Wednesday I more or less took the morning’s route in reverse, on Thursday I moseyed on down to the Manhattan Bridge and took the Gowanus Expressway/Belt Parkway route.   It offered some terrific harbor views (note: the container ship Cosco Nagoya urgently needs a paint job) and was a nice change from the usual route.

Friday it was back to the close-by worksite, the end of my three-week stint at that location.  Everything went well, there were a couple of last-minute snags but those are to be expected, and I’m going to miss being so close to home.

On Wednesday I made it to hot yoga, and more importantly made it through the session more or less intact.  On Friday I went to the gym for leg work.  45-degree leg presses: 2 x 8 x 510, 2 x 8 x 520, 2 x 8 x 530.  SLDL’s: 3 x 8 x 195.  I also did an exercise with a 20-pound medicine ball, not one from a standard routine but one that I’ve come up with myself.  For each rep, I push the ball straight out, then lift it overhead, then push it straight out once again.  I did this for 3 x 10, and for a “home grown” exercise it certainly seemed to hit my shoulders pretty well.

Published in: on June 24, 2013 at 2:03 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, June 17 – Tuesday, June 18

Back to barbaric hours

I found out that on Wednesday and Thursday I’ll be going into Manhattan for 5 am each day.  It’s the same thing I did a few weeks ago, same worksites too, and I have every reason to expect that getting up at 3 am will be just as ghastly and barbaric as it had been.  Humans just aren’t meant to get up that long before dawn.  It’s not like our ancestors needed such an early start to hunt wooly mammoths. But then, I suppose I should look on the bright side (not that it’s very bright at three in the morning, ha ha), traffic should be next to nothing.

Speaking of schedules, I now know most of my worksites at least through the end of October.  After the upcoming two days in Manhattan, on Friday I’ll be finishing up at the site that’s just a couple miles away.  No more going home for lunch.  For the following two weeks I’ll be working at a variety of sites yet to be determined.  Most should be on Long Island but I may have one or two in Brooklyn or Queens.  The one exception, the one I already know, will be next Tuesday, which will be in Dutchess County, probably about two hours each day depending (as always!) on traffic.

Starting the second week in July I will be going to a site in Mount Vernon, which is in Westchester County just over the Bronx line, for either three or four weeks.  I’ve been there before and it’s not too bad of a drive, though I’ll have to deal with the Throgs Neck Bridge and its (obscene) tolls.  After that, starting around the beginning of August, I will begin a three-month assignment in Port Chester.  Once again, I’ve been to that site.  It’s the last town in Westchester County along I-95 before reaching the Connecticut line.  It’s a reasonable drive, albeit with (obscene) tolls, though there’s a possibility I might be able to take the train.  That option will depend on the specific hours I’ll be expected to work, it involves coordinating LIRR an Metro North schedules.

Published in: on June 20, 2013 at 1:08 am  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, June 15 – Sunday, June 16

Saturday’s gym session turned out pretty well.  I did mostly machine work, just for variety’s sake.  Hoist seated dips: 8 x 237, 8 x 251, 8 x 265.  The last set was at the machine’s maximum, so I’ll probably have to try something else next time.  Maybe regular dips. T-bar rows: 8 x 125, 8 x 130, 8 x 135.  I use the chest-supported apparatus for T-bar rows, I was thinking of doing them with a barbell next time.  Life Fitness seated rows: 2 x 8 x 160.  I also spent about ten minutes doing some arm and shoulder work with a 20-pound medicine ball.  Earlier on Saturday, I did some much-needed lawn mowing.  Sunday was mostly an easy day, we went out for frozen yogurt in the afternoon for Father’s Day, which was a nice touch.

Published in: on June 20, 2013 at 12:43 am  Leave a Comment  

Wednesday, June 12 – Friday, June 14

No way I could go

After going several weeks in a row I missed Wednesday evening’s hot yoga.  Yes, I am on a guilt trip for having done so.  I had some very sore muscles after Tuesday’s leg and back session, and Wednesday was a rather long and tough day at work, and … oh, what I am saying?  These are just excuses.  I should have forced myself to go to hot yoga and pushed myself through the session, I did not have sufficient will to do so, and that was that.   No excuses.

Thursday turned out to be just about as tough a day at work as Wednesday had been.  Friday was much easier, which was fortunate as I really wanted to go to the gym after work and and was concerned about being worn out.   I did some bench pressing, nothing earth-shattering but a decent session nonetheless: 6 x 135, 6 x 185, 4 x 205, 3 x 4 x 225, 8 x 185, 10 x 135.  After the benching I took advantage of the uncrowded gym to look around and get a better idea of their equipment.  One thing that disappointed me a bit is that they have only three medicine balls and, as far as I can tell, no kettlebells.   For all its drawbacks the old gym was much better equipped in both respects.  It’s not that I have any immediate desire to use medicine balls or kettlebells, but I’d like to have the option to use them if I so choose.  I suppose it’s a minor point.

Next week will be my last week working just a couple miles from home.  After that, I’ll be going to a site in Westchester just north of the Bronx line.  While it’s not all that far, I’ve been there a few times in December and January, it does mean that I’ll have to deal with Expressway traffic and pay the (obscene) tolls on the Throgs Neck Bridge.  Still, I don’t have much ground for complaint.

Published in: on June 17, 2013 at 1:40 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, June 10 – Tuesday, June 11

Into unfamiliar terrain

Monday was an exception to my recent pattern of working close to home, as I had a one-day assignment in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn.  While I’ve been in Brooklyn countless times I’ve never been in Red Hook, which may not be surprising as it’s a bit out of the way.  Getting there was distinctly not half the fun. Leaving home at 5:45 in the morning, it took me about 1:50 to cover the 60 miles to my destination.  The trip started out pretty well, with reasonably light traffic on the Long Island Expressway, even in the usually busy spots like around Glen Cove Road.  Almost as soon as I crossed the city line, however, things got much worse.  Traffic slowed to a crawl and did not ease up until the Woodhaven Boulevard exit several miles away.  I seriously do not think I ever went over 15 mph in that stretch.  Traffic finally got better after the exit, and except for a slight delay over the Kosciusko Bride it was pretty good on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway too.

Red Hook turned out to be an interesting area.  There are a number of Civil War-era warehouses that have been restored and turned into light industrial and commercial space, and there are some spectacular views of the harbor.  I also got a good view of three old trolley cars that a local railfan has been trying to restore and return to service.  Not much has happened, unfortunately, and the cars themselves look to be in pretty bad shape.

Red Hook is the sort of neighborhood that until recently had been severely run down, unfortunately it still has a very bad housing project, but now has become trendy.  Its main drawback, aside from the project, is that most parts of the ‘hood are a long way from the nearest subway stop.  If the trolleys ever could get restored they would be a most welcome addition to Red Hook’s transit service. A huge (is there any other kind?) IKEA store right on the waterfront actually has free ferry service to lower Manhattan.

I finished my assignment in the early afternoon, well before rush hour, but nonetheless the trip home took almost as long as the morning’s journey thanks to very heavy rain.  Traffic was moving slowly on the Long Island Expressway because visibility was very poor.  At a couple of points the overhead electronic signs warned of lane closures due to flooding, but none of them actually happened.

Tuesday it was back to working five minutes away from home, which came as a pleasant change.  It was a busier workday than Monday had been, but given the close proximity I didn’t much care.  No worries about beating rush hour traffic!  At the gym, in the early evening, I did back and leg work.  45-degree leg presses: 10 x 430, 10 x 470, 2 x 10 x 500.  SLDL’s: 8 x 175, 8 x 185, 8 x 195.  T-bar rows: 8 x 110, 8 x 115, 8 x 120, 8 x 125.  Life Fitness seated rows: 2 x 8 x 150.

Published in: on June 12, 2013 at 2:32 am  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, June 8 – Sunday, June 9

Friday’s torrential rains stopped early enough that Saturday was a fairly decent day.  With more rain forecast, I took advantage of the dry weather to do some very much needed mowing.  Later in the afternoon I did some food shopping at Aldi’s.  It’s an interesting store, to say the least, with what seem to be very good prices, though the selection is rather limited and the bare-bones layout might be off-putting to some people.  The policy of charging for shopping bags is certainly not something you’ll see at other stores, but at just ten cents each it’s hardly a major burden.  And the sturdy plastic bags look reusable.  One policy I did not like, however, is the way the store doesn’t accept credit cards (the nearby Costco does likewise).  It didn’t affect me directly, as I was paying cash, but it just seems mean-spirited.

On Saturday evening I went to the gym for some upper body work.  Bench press: 6 x 135, 6 x 185, 4 x 205, 4 x 4 x 225, 8 x 185, 10 x 135.  While I’m generally not much of a machine user, I also tried a Hoist seated dip machine, 10 x 223, 10 x 237.  It was harder than it seemed! On Sunday night I went to another Buddhist meditation session at the yoga center, and I have to say that I’m really getting into it.

Published in: on June 12, 2013 at 2:08 am  Leave a Comment  

Wednesday, June 5 – Friday, June 7

Yeah, I could get used to this

It was nice on Monday and Tuesday, being able to work so close to home, and as the week wore on it got even nicer.  Driving a long distance may be sort of somewhat tolerable for a day or two after a weekend off, but as the week wears on the tolerability level drops.  Which I know is hardly a surprising revelation.  Working close-by really came in handy on Friday, when torrential rains from a tropical storm’s remnants made driving very difficult.  It was tough enough going two miles, from what I heard traffic on the Expressway and the Northern State Parkway was at a near-complete standstill for hours.  I was very glad to avoid that.

Next week will be slightly different, as on Monday I’m going into Brooklyn for the day, to return to this close-by worksite for the rest of the week.  Other than that, there isn’t much of note, though I had a good hot yoga session on Wednesday.

Published in: on June 10, 2013 at 2:40 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, June 3 – Tuesday, June 4

A welcome change

Working close to home is not something I’ve normally experienced.  Years ago when I lived in Connecticut I was about 45 minutes away from my job.  When I commuted to Manhattan for so many years I normally had to travel at least 90 minutes to two hours each way.  While my present job involves going to many different worksites, a common theme is that most of them are relatively far away (the most extreme, of course, having been North Haven, Connecticut and its 125-mile trip each way).

Monday began a 3-week assignment at a worksite that is literally just five minutes away.  It is nice not having to worry about getting up early in order to beat the traffic, or for that matter having to worry during the day about traffic on the ride home.  On Tuesday, I actually went home for lunch, something I’ve so rarely done in my working career that I cannot remember the last time it ever happened.  And it should go without saying that the savings in gasoline are appreciated, even though I get paid for travel time there’s still a lag between the fuel expenditures and the receipt of payment.

I had a pretty good gym session in the early evening on Tuesday.  For the first time in way too long I did some lower-body work. I didn’t do any squats, which probably was a mistake, however I did some 45-degree leg presses with a respectable amount of weight: 10 x 270, 10 x 320, 10 x 360, 10 x 410, 10 x 460.  Then came an old favorite, namely SLDL’s: 8 x 155, 8 x 165, 8 x 175.

Published in: on June 7, 2013 at 1:59 am  Leave a Comment