Saturday, July 13 – Sunday, July 14

Two pretty decent gym excursions over the weekend.  Saturday was bench press day, and like the last time out I decided to use dumbbells, 4 x 8 x 80/80.  None of the reps were difficult, so next time there should be no trouble moving up to the 85’s.  I also seem to be getting more adept at getting the dumbbells into position, though it’s still awkward to some extent.  I then did 3 x8 of chest presses on one of the movable-seat Hoist Fitness machines.  As was the case with the similar-in-concept back machines I recently used, it isn’t really possible to determine the actual weight being used.  I had the resistance level at 12 out of 16, what that translates into in weight terms is anyone’s guess.  At the end of the session I did that homegrown medicine ball exercise, 3 x 10 with a 20-pounder.

On Sunday, I spent 20 minutes on that rowing machine I’ve come to like.  It’s a pretty brutal contraption, but I’d have to say the exercise value seems quite high.  I then did another 3 x 10 of my medicine ball exercise.

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Published in: on July 18, 2013 at 2:55 am  Leave a Comment  

Wednesday, July 10 – Friday, July 12

Steady deterioration

As I got more into Week One of my three-week assignment in Mount Vernon, I experienced an unwelcome phenomenon known as “worse every day.”  Or something to that effect.  By which I mean that my trip home got steadily worse as the week went on. Keep in mind that I left work around 2:45 to 3:00 each day, so the trips should have been comparable.

On Wednesday, the trip home took about 1:40.  There was a half-mile or longer line getting to the (obscene) toll booths on the Throgs Neck Bridge, and even my use of the Harding Avenue Maneuver saved only a small amount of time.  While I’m not 100% sure, I believe this was the result of a truck crash in New Jersey.  Now that certainly speaks volumes about the fragility of our road system.  The smash-up caused huge traffic jams across the George Washington Bridge and for miles back onto the Cross-Bronx Expressway (I-95).  As I exited onto I-695 for the Throgs Neck Bridge I could plainly see the delays on I-95 just ahead.  What probably happened is that people who would have stayed on I-95 another mile or so to the Whitestone Bridge  instead were taking the Throgs Neck.

Thursday was about five minutes longer, at around 1:45, while on Friday I hit the two-hour mark.  Consider that the latter is twice what the morning trip is taken, and you’ll understand why it’s so frustrating.  What’s most perplexing is that there were no obvious causes for the slow traffic on either day.  Just the same old story of too many cars and too few roads.  I was able to console myself with the fact that the morning trips to Mount Vernon have been a breeze all week, and after just two more weeks I’ll be working locally most days.  Can’t hardly wait.

Wednesday was hot yoga, not really one of my better outings but not one of the worst.  My balance seems to be getting better each week, though my flexibility continues to lag a bit.  On Friday, I went to the gym for back work, and more or less on a whim decided to use a couple of the machines rather than doing T-bar rows.  While using weight machines on a consistent basis is not the best idea, an occasional use is harmless enough.  I started with Life Fitness seated rows, 6 x 8 x 175, and then used one of the Hoist brand row machines in which the seat moves along with you.  These have variable resistance levels but no actual weight selections, as the weight varies with the user’s body weight. For what it’s worth, I used resistance level 12 out of 15.

Published in: on July 14, 2013 at 10:11 pm  Leave a Comment  

Monday, July 8 – Tuesday, July 9

Less traffic than I expected.  But worse service.

Monday began my 3-week assignment in Mount Vernon, just north of the Bronx line.  Unless things change, which is always a distinct possibility in my line of work, it should be my last regular assignment off of Long Island as my assignments starting in late July should all be more or less local.  I’m sure there’ll still be some occasional fill-in assignments that will require more driving.

Getting to Mount Vernon on Monday morning was surprisingly easy.  I left home about 5:15, and had a nearly slowdown-free ride all the way.  Traffic on the Long Island Expressway was just a slight bit sluggish near Glen Cove Road and against just before my exit to the Cross Island.  I was past the (obscene) tolls on the Throgs Neck Bridge and into the Bronx in an hour, which would have been beyond unthinkable had I left even 30 minutes later.  From there it was only about ten minutes up the Hutchinson River Parkway to Mount Vernon.  My return trip, leaving just before 3pm, was slower, which is about what I expected.  Some slow traffic on the bridge and then between exits 35 and 38 on the Expressway.

Tuesday morning’s trip took about ten minutes longer than Monday’s, the result of a crash on the Cross Island that caused a bit of a backup.  Oddly enough, getting home was easier, even though I left around 3:20 and therefore should have hit more traffic.  Funny how these things work …

Gym: I knew that I had to do some leg work on Monday, but for some reason I had very little energy.  Instead of squats as I had planned, or even more leg presses, I did leg extensions and leg curls on a few machines.  All of them were selectorized machines that give various resistance levels but don’t list actual weights.  No, I’m not going to make a habit out of using them, but for an occasional expedient, they’re okay.  I also did 15 minutes on this rowing machine, a strange-looking contraption, but it definitely was no walk in the park.

On Tuesday, I had wanted to go to the gym once more, but instead had to go to the local Verizon Wireless store because my phone is having trouble taking a charge.  Needless to say, it was not a satisfactory outcome.  Instead of giving me a new phone on the spot, the store manager – a hot but stupid woman – said I’d have to have one sent to me by the manufacturer.  She claimed that the phones in the store are only for sale as new phones and can’t be used as warranty replacements.  I am 100% sure that exceptions can be made, but unfortunately my powers of persuasion weren’t particularly effective.  Now I have to hope I can eke out the existing charge until the replacement arrives in a couple days.

Published in: on July 11, 2013 at 3:32 am  Leave a Comment  

Thursday, July 4 – Sunday, July 7

We had a nice backyard cookout for the Fourth of July.  London broil, bratwurst, marinated portobello mushroom caps, and assorted grilled vegetables.  We did not have any potato or macaroni salad, which is just as well – they may be traditional picnic favorites, but they also add too many calories.  It was getting very hot, fortunately we were able to finish eating before things got unbearable.

I actually got in an early trip to the gym on the Fourth, going early having been a necessity because it was closing early for the holiday.  I started out with T-bar rows, 6 x 6 x 165, this being a ten-pound increase over last time.  Nice.  In addition, I did Life Fitness seated rows, 2 x 8 x 165, and 6 x 10 on my homegrown exercise with the 20-pound medicine ball.  On Friday, I decided to change things up a bit and did my bench presses with dumbbells.  This does not represent any sort of compromise.  Dumbbell bench presses are as good as the more familiar barbell variety, possibly even better as they allow for a greater range of motion.  The only way to get a similar range of motion with barbell benches is to use a cambered bar, and I don’t believe this gym has one.  The method of getting the dumbbells into position is awkward, to say the least, but I finally got used to it.  I ended up doing 2 x8 x  70/70, 2 x 8 x 75/75, 8 x 80/80.

As for Saturday and Sunday, I accomplished pretty much nothing, no gym trips.  When it’s so ferociously hot outside it’s hard to get motivated to do anything.  The front lawn is urgently in need of mowing, but it’ll have to wait.  On a better note, I’m definitely looking forward to returning to work on Monday – I hate idleness!

Published in: on July 9, 2013 at 2:01 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, July 1 – Wendesday, July 3

I do not like idleness

Ugh.  The start of my week off from work.  While it is giving me the chance to do various errands and get some more extensive yardwork done (for some reason the yard is full of thick vines), I’d much rather be working.  It’s not just the money factor, as I’ve noted these occasional weeks off are built into my payscale, it’s that I don’t like being idle.  I can’t imagine how younger retirees can manage it.

Speaking of work, on Tuesday a second opportunity opened up, one I had been asking about for a while.  It’s basically the same sort of work I did from November through February, rotating among eight worksites every two weeks.  I told my manager that it sounded good, however I had already told a different manager last week that I wanted to join a newly created team doing a different sort of work.  Would this prove to be an awkward moment?  Fortunately there was nothing of the sort.  In fact, my manager told me that the newly created team probably would be a better opportunity and that I should go with that (the two offers would be the same pay, but the new one may have more chances for advancement).  I’m glad that was settled.

I talked for a while with my manager, with whom I have an excellent relationship as we worked side-by-side for six months last year.  She told me that on account of some difficulties in finding enough people for entry-level positions at the company she was considering getting a booth at some job fairs.  The way she said it, I had the distinct impression she was less than enthusiastic about the idea.  Which is not surprising in the least.  Job fairs used to be a perfectly legitimate sort of event, but in the last several years have gotten a bad reputation as too many of the exhibitors are pyramid schemes or straight-commission sales “jobs.”

Gym: Monday was a good leg session.  I started out on the 45-degree leg press, doing 8 x 540, 8 x 560, 8 x 580, 8 x 600, 8 x 610.  While these weights may seem impressive, they do not come remotely close to doing equivalent weights on squats.  600 on a leg press probably is about the same as 315 on a squat.  Maybe just 275.  I really think I’d better start doing squats, or the reasonably equivalent trap bar deadlifts, next leg session.  I also did SLDL’s, 3 x 8 x205.  I seem to be progressing nicely on these.

Tuesday was bench pressing … and to call it a “mediocre” session would be a great exaggeration.  Sometimes you have it, and sometimes you don’t.  Tuesday was a “don’t” day. All I could manager was 6 x 135, 6 x 185, 4 x 205, 5 x 225, 4 x 225, 3 x 225, 5 x 185.  So much on trying to exceed last time’s three sets of five at 225!

Wednesday was hot yoga.  Until now I’ve always set up my mat toward the back of the room rather than by the mirrored wall in front.  Being in back lets me use the back wall when necessary for support during some of the balancing exercises.  When I arrived today, all of the mat positions in the back were taken, so I had no choice but to go in front.  To my pleasant surprise, being closer to the mirror actually helped my balance even though I had nothing to lean against.  It turned out to be a pretty good session after all.

Published in: on July 4, 2013 at 11:41 pm  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, June 29 – Sunday, June 30

Okay.  I’ll admit it.  This was a mostly wasted weekend, with little accomplished except some yard work.  Didn’t even make it to the gym.  Am I a bad person, or what?

Published in: on July 4, 2013 at 2:15 am  Leave a Comment  

Thursday, June 27 – Friday, June 28

Getting up at a civilized hour

Relief!  After having had to get up at the absolutely barbaric hour of 3 am on Monday through Wednesday, I was able to return to civilization and get up at 6:30.  You cannot imagine what a difference these three and a half hours make.  I mean, 6:30 is a normal get-up time for millions of people, while 3:00 is most assuredly not.

Work these two days was pretty easy, and as it was only a few miles away I hardly had any traffic concerns.  One thing that’s not so good is that I probably won’t be working at all next week.  Maybe one day if I’m lucky.  This sort of holiday-week shutdown is standard practice in my field, and is built into my pay scale, but still, I’d rather be working.  I just don’t like idleness.

Gym: I had pretty good sessions both days.  On Thursday I did T-bar rows, 6 x 6 x 155.  This represents a 10-pound increase from last time.  I then followed up with my “homegrown” medicine ball exercise, 6 x 10, and finished with the Life Fitness seated rows, 2 x 8 x 160.
Friday was bench pressing: 6 x 135, 6 x 185, 4 x 205, 3 x 5 x 225, 8 x 185, 10 x 135.

Published in: on July 2, 2013 at 3:07 am  Leave a Comment