Monday, August 26 – Wednesday, August 28

Past the halfway mark

As of Monday I am now in the second half of the project I’m doing at work.  In a way it’s a good news/bad news sort of thing.  The good news is that I can pretty much do everything almost without thinking, sort of a mental autopilot, the bad news is that it’s starting to get a bit dull.  Whatever the case, I’ve only got three more weeks to go.  Contrary to what I had thought, my next assignment may involve more driving, possibly to Brooklyn or to Westchester.  That’s yet another good news/bad news deal, the good being the quite ample travel pay I get and the bad news being the fact that I’ll have to deal with sheeple-jammed rush hour roads.  Nothing is certain yet, however, and I may end up working locally after all.

Monday’s worksite was about 15 miles to the west of where I am, while the other two days I was within five miles.  In that I didn’t finish up until four on Monday I had to deal with a bit of rush hour traffic – not a great amount, certainly nothing like what I’ve dealt with many times, but just enough to give me a glimpse of horror.  Tuesday’s workday was about as long, but I was close enough so that traffic wasn’t an issue, while on Wednesday I finished up in the early afternoon.

I went to the gym on Monday, the extremely crowded gym I may add, and did my favorite medicine ball routine, 7 x 10 with the 20-pound ball.  I actually believe my traps and shoulders are getting visibly larger.  Tuesday I had planned to do trap bar deadlifts but ended up being so worn out after work that I just couldn’t bring myself to go.  Wednesday was hot yoga, with the usual instructor back, and it was a very good session.  For the first time ever, I did not have to lie down on the mat to rest at any point, and as at least half of the people in the session took such breaks I would have been completely inconspicuous in doing so.

Published in: on August 29, 2013 at 3:40 am  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, August 24 – Sunday, August 25

No, I’m not regressing or anything, but when I went to the gym on Saturday I decided to have a machine-based session.  While I’m fully aware that free weights are better, I see nothing wrong with experimenting with machines once in a while.  I started out with leg presses on a Life Fitness machine, 8 x 310, 8 x 330, 8 x 350, 8 x 370.  All I can say is that they were hard.  Using a particular weight on this machine is much harder than using the same weight on the plate-loaded 45 degree leg press.  In fact, it’s not all that much easier than doing squats with an equivalent weight. Next, I did rows on a Hoist moving-seat machine, 3 x 8 at a resistance level of 14 (out of 18) and 3 x 8 at level 15.  I ended the session with dips, 4 x 8 x bodyweight.  As for Sunday, well, I didn’t do much of anything.

Published in: on August 29, 2013 at 3:21 am  Leave a Comment  

Wednesday, August 21 – Friday, August 23

Back into the gym mindset

Wednesday and Thursday were fairly low-pressure days at work.  I was just a few miles away from home on Wednesday, which was nice, while Thursday I drove east for about ten miles.  Definitely no traffic concerns either day.  Friday was a day off. On Wednesday I found out more information about the changed procedures I had encountered on Monday.  It was somewhat surprising to find out that things had been going wrong in the two prior weeks, though nothing that had been in my control or for which I had been responsible.  What’s surprising is that I had had no inkling of any such issues.  Usually, when something’s going wrong at work, I can sense it.  Not this time.  In any event, it doesn’t matter, as the new procedures are working just fine.

Wednesday evening’s yoga was a bit different, as the usual instructor wasn’t there and instead the owner of the studio conducted the session.  She’s much more into the metaphysical/spiritual aspects of yoga, and she’s (literally) a very hands-on instructor.  She physically pushed or pulled on several people in order to deepen their bends or stretches.  I was the subject of her ministrations on two occasions, and while it was a bit painful I did manage to stretch farther than I ever would have thought possible.

Thursday evening’s gym session was a bit different.  Not being much in the mood for conventional weight exercises, I did a lot – as in 7×10 – of sets of my homegrown medicine ball exercise, as usual with the 20-pound ball.  While I don’t know what an exercise expert would think about this exercise, I definitely can say that it really seems to work my shoulders.

On Friday, I was still in a mood to mix things up, so instead of doing barbell or dumbbell rows I used a Hoist brand movable-seat machine for back work.  I did 4 x 8 at a resistance level of 15 out of 19, and 2 x 8 at level 16.  It’s not an easy machine by any means, I was quite exhausted when I was done, so apparently it works.  I then did leg presses on another Hoist machine, 8 x 310, 8 x 330, 8 x 350 and 8 x 370.  This is definitely a tough machine, with the resistance (via weight stack) seeming much harder than equivalent weights on the plate-loaded 45 degree leg press.  In some ways it seemed almost as tough as doing squats.


Published in: on August 25, 2013 at 4:23 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, August 19 – Tuesday, August 20

Rectifying a mistake

Monday wasn’t a particularly good day at work.  While the worksite was conveniently close, not far away from my hot yoga studio in particular, the workday itself was more complicated than it should have been, due to some confusion involving several different parties as to what in particular had to be done and how it was to be accomplished (sorry for the vagueness).  Suffice to say that it took about nine hours to accomplish what could have been done in six or seven had there been no such confusion.  Fortunately, everything got squared away on Tuesday, and work went much more smoothly.

I can’t say that I was surprised at how things got all confused.  One thing I’ve learned in the working world is that when there are multiple parties involved with a task or project, especially when there’s no clear-cut rules as to whom is the final authority, confusion is likely to happen. Careful advance planning can reduce but not eliminate the risk.  What I am surprised about, in a pleasant sense, is how well things got straightened out in 24 hours.  People whom I thought might have resisted compromise were most agreeable to it.  Will wonders never cease …

I had a successful if not particularly diverse gym session on Tuesday.  All I did was trap bar deadlifts, though I did a lot of them and with steadily increasing weights: 3 x 6 x 235, 3 x 6 x 245, 6 x 245.  Forty-two total reps of deadlifts is a lot by anyone’s standards.  I’ve decided to do trap bar deadlifts in place of squats, partly because it’s often hard to find a free squat rack and partly because I simply like them a lot more.  While trap bar deadlifts are not a 100% substitute for squats, they’re at least a 90% substitute, which is fine for my purposes.

Published in: on August 23, 2013 at 3:09 am  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, August 17 – Sunday, August 18

It was basically a run-of-the-mill weekend for me, not much to report.  On Saturday I did some bench pressing in the late afternoon, nothing outstanding: 6 x 135, 6 x 185, 4 x 205, 4 x 4 x 225, 8 x 185.  I also did my medicine-ball routine, 4 x 10 with the 20-pound ball.  On Saturday evening I watched boxing on HBO.  Exciting life, huh?

Sunday was a rather lazy day.  I read for a while on my phone’s Kindle app, the reading of choice being Hothouse, a history of the Farrar, Straus and Giroux publishing house.  I had found out about it via a mention on Facebook and after reading a free excerpt decided to download the whole thing.  So far it’s quite interesting.  One thing I found out is that from 1993 to 2000 I worked just around the corner from the company’s office.

Published in: on August 21, 2013 at 2:58 am  Leave a Comment  

Wednesday, August 14 – Friday, August 16

The characters you meet

Wednesday was one of my easier workdays in quite a long time.   I headed east about 15 miles, to the county-seat town, which had been a regular part of my territory back when I was enmeshed in the life insurance scam.  Today I was able to work under much more pleasant conditions, though to be sure almost all working conditions are vastly better than trying to peddle life insurance to reluctant people while on straight commission.   After two years I’m still angry with myself for having stuck with that scam as long as I did.

On a much brighter note, I was finished with the day’s work by noon.  With ample time to spare before my hot yoga session, I drove to western Suffolk County, Lindenhurst to be specific, to look for a part for a family member’s car.  It was a very simple part, the assembly for a front turn signal, but of course the dealer wanted some absurd price.  As of a couple days ago a  junkyard near the center of town had a couple of VW Jettas on the lot, but naturally enough both were gone by the time I arrived.  Fortunately, there were four other junkyards in very close proximity, and I found the part at the fourth one.

Looking for car parts at junkyards is an unusual shopping experience.  You never know if you’ll get what you need until you actually go to the junkyard and ask, as what they tell you on the phone is never quite reliable (as I saw), and you definitely get to meet some “interesting” characters.  And prices do tend to be much cheaper than what auto parts stores and especially dealers charge, even if the terrific bargains of past years aren’t quite as terrific anymore.  Whatever the case, it was a worthwhile trip, and later on I had a fairly good hot yoga session despite having missed a week.

Thursday was a lengthier workday, though nothing like last week’s marathon sessions.  It was at the same convenient location where I’d been last Friday.  For some reason I was extremely exhausted when I got home, so much so that I decided to skip the gym.  We did make an early evening trip to Whole Foods, where I’m pleased to report that the free-sample selection was pretty extensive.

Friday was a day off from work.  In the early afternoon we went to Costco, and nothing happened to change my bemusement at all the hype that store receives.  I mean, really, the way people gush about how it’s the best shopping experience you’ll ever have.  On the way back we stopped at Pizza Hut, which seems to have gotten a bit more upscale in the several years since I’ve last been inside.  The “meat lovers” medium-sized ‘za was quite good and a definite bargain.

Quite late on Friday evening I went to the gym for some bench presses.  It wasn’t a particularly good session: 6 x 135, 6 x 185, 4 x 205, 3 x 4 x 225, 8 x 185.

Published in: on August 18, 2013 at 1:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, August 12 – Tuesday, August 13

A return to normalcy

Believe me when I say that working a couple of “normal” days was vastly easier than last week’s marathon sessions.  It’s so much easier to concentrate and remain focused when you’re working eight hours as opposed to 12 or 13.  Of course some people may be more accustomed to long hours, but what matters is that I’m not.

Monday’s worksite was in central-western Suffolk County, about a 25-minute drive on the Sunrise Highway.  I’ve worked at that location a couple of times and always found it a decent place.  Monday was no exception.  Everything went smoothly, unlike the case much of last week, and I was able to finish everything I needed to do in eight hours.  I even was able to take a couple of breaks, unlike last week.  Tuesday’s worksite was about ten miles to the north of me, a location where I’d worked for most of March.  If anything, it was even easier than Monday had been, once again with no traffic issues at all.  You know, I could really get used to this …

Gym: other things intervened and prevented me from going on Monday, but on Tuesday evening I decided to get back into doing an old favorite, namely trap-bar deadlifts.  It’s an excellent exercise, quite similar to squats in terms of the muscle groups affected, but there’s no need to wait for idiots to stop using the squat racks for things other than squats.  Why the gym doesn’t put up a sign reading “Squat racks for squats only” I can’t imagine. Anyway, for my first time doing them in months, the trap bar deadlifts went well: 6 x 225, 6 x 245, 6 x 255, 6 x 265, 6 x 275, 6 x 225.

Published in: on August 14, 2013 at 2:48 am  Comments (1)  

Saturday, August 10 – Sunday, August 11

With my exhausting week finally over, I made a triumphant – okay, decent – return on the gym on Saturday.  It was a combined back-and-chest session.  I started out with the Life Fitness seated row, 4 x 8 x 185, and then did bench presses: 6 x 135, 6 x 185, 4 x 205, 6 x 225, 4 x 235, 2 x 245, 2 x 4 x 225. My plans to go on Sunday didn’t happen, as we got into a major housecleaning binge.  I did make it to Buddhist meditation in the evening, however.

Published in: on August 14, 2013 at 2:15 am  Leave a Comment  

Wednesday, August 7 – Friday, August 9

Yes, I missed yoga.  You were expecting otherwise?

I did not have a repeat of Tuesday’s 13-hour marathon workday.  Not that things were all that much easier.  Wednesday was 12 hours, Thursday 10, and Friday a mere 8.5.    Wednesday’s worksite was only about 20 minutes away, with the other two days being about 15 minutes each.  So yes, things were a bit more tolerable.  What wasn’t so good is that I had to miss hot yoga on Wednesday, which is a bit ironic in that the worksite was only a few minutes away from the yoga center and I actually drove past the center on my way home.  I suppose I could have made the 8pm session, but after all that work I was just too drained.

As for next week, my best guess is that it will be somewhat less overwhelming than this week had been, though it’ll still be tough.  I’ve vowed to make it to yoga on Wednesday.

Published in: on August 12, 2013 at 2:09 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, August 5 – Tuesday, August 6

When will I ever learn?

Monday’s work assignment was about 20 miles to the east, in an area that was part of my regular territory during my late and unlamented days in the life insurance scam.  It’s so nice to head out for a workday without having to worry about hearing “Let me think about it” or “Let me talk it over with my wife” or “Let me check my schedule and get back to you” or any of the myriad things people say when they’re too chicken to say “no.”  Ugh.  In any event, it was an easy drive on the Sunrise Highway, a bit of traffic but nothing bad.  The workday itself was a pretty easy one, and I was done for the day in the (very) early afternoon.

Although it was very early when I got home and I had plenty of time to go to the gym, I didn’t go.  No real reason, other than that I wasn’t really in the mood, so I figured I’d go on Tuesday instead.  BIG mistake.  I never learn, do I?

Skipping the gym on Monday turned out to be a big mistake because Tuesday was simply overwhelming and made the mere idea of the gym unthinkable.  I was at the same worksite near Exit 57 where I’d been on Friday, except this time my workday was 13 hours long.  Started at 7am, finished at 8pm.  There was such an overwhelming workload that even taking a lunch break was a non-starter, I ate while working and probably did not spend an aggregate of even ten minutes away from work.  Needless to say, when I finally left work it was a struggle to stand up straight, let alone exercise!

Published in: on August 8, 2013 at 3:04 am  Leave a Comment