Thursday, September 26 – Friday, September 27

A bit of frustration

Thursday wasn’t a bad day at work, even though it was at one of the busier locations. For once everything went smoothly and I finished up right on time.  As getting to the location would involve dealing with some rush hour Expressway traffic, it’s off of Exit 57, and then a drive on regular streets through some busy areas, I left about 15 minutes earlier than usual.  Two weeks ago I left at my normal time of 7 to get to this location and just barely made it by 8.  Today I left at 6:45 and was at the worksite in under 30 minutes.  In part it was due to reasonably decent Expressway traffic, and in part because I had fantastic luck at a couple of usually brutal traffic lights.  All in all it was a real mood-booster!

Friday, however, was a bit frustrating.  During the week I found out about this special project I will be doing in addition to my normal duties.  It’s not too time-consuming, I have to complete work at 18 sites by the end of October and it shouldn’t take more than 30 to 45 minutes per site, but I will be making a nice bit of money for each site visit.  When I made arrangements via phone and e-mail with the project supervisor, she told me that I could get started as soon as I got a confirmation e-mail from the home office.  This was on Wednesday, and she said the e-mail would be coming very soon.  Unfortunately, it didn’t come by Friday, which meant that I wasn’t able to get started on site visits.  Now, I have more than ample time to complete all the required visits, so having to do Friday’s hoped-for visits at a later date really won’t cramp my schedule or reduce my total pay, but I was all set to get started and more than a bit frustrated at having to wait.

Gym: Not a bad session on Thursday.  I did 5 x 10 of my medicine-ball exercise with the 20-pound ball and 4 x 8 of bodyweight dips.  I finished up with the movable-set leg press machine, 8 x 350, 8 x 370, 8 x 390, 8 x 410, 8 x 430.  All of these were with the plate at the closer setting for greater range of motion.

Published in: on September 30, 2013 at 1:58 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, September 23 – Wednesday, September 25

Settling into the routine

This week marked the beginning of my second “cycle” on my new work assignments.  As I’ve noted, I go to seven workplaces on a two-week cycle, four of them on the first week and three on the second, with one site spread over two days on the cycle’s second week.  What this meant is that I got to experience the same commuting each day that I had experienced two weeks earlier.  Does that make sense?  Anyway, on Monday I dealt with rush hour traffic on the Expressway as far as Exit 57.  It took me about 20 minutes to cover the seven- or eight-mile distance, which is in the category of bad, but not as bad as it could have been.  At least I was thankful that it was a short journey.

Tuesday it was the Sunrise Highway’s turn, and even though I went through the bad section (the three or so miles preceding the Southern State Parkway split) at just about the same time of the morning as I had done two weeks earlier traffic was notably lighter.  It’s funny and inexplicable how these things work.  Wednesday’s trip was eastbound, to the Expressway’s end in Riverhead, and as it was against the flow of traffic it was an easy drive.  Actually, in that area the morning’s flow of traffic is only slightly lighter in the eastbound direction, say something like a 55-45 split.  Some of the eastbound traffic gets off at Exit 68, probably for the Brookhaven National Laboratory, but many people go all the way to the end in Riverhead.  Which isn’t surprising, as Riverhead is both the Suffolk County seat and has a large commercial district.

Gym: I didn’t go on Monday but had a nice session on Tuesday.  I started out with dips, doing 10 x bodyweight, 3 x 8 x bodyweight + 25, 2 x 10 x bodyweight.  Dips without added weight are easy enough that I figure it’s better to do sets of ten rather than of eight.  It was also nice t be able to add 25 pounds.  My goal is to add a 45-pound plate.  In addition to the dips I did 3 x 10 of my medicine ball exercise, using the 20-pound ball.  I also did just a couple of sets, 2 x 8 to be precise, on the moveable-seat row machine, at resistance level 17 of 18.  I had wanted to do more but quickly lost energy.
Wednesday’s hot yoga session was a big success. In fact, it was the best session I’ve had.  I was able to make it through  the entire 90 minutes without having to rest, and my balance seems to have gotten a lot better.

Published in: on September 27, 2013 at 2:39 am  Leave a Comment  

Friday, September 20 – Sunday, September 22

While I had a (relatively short) work assignment scheduled for Friday, I ended up doing it on Sunday instead.  It was the sort of thing that could be done at anytime, as long as it was completed by Monday, and I just wasn’t in the mood to do work-work on Friday.  It wasn’t a completely unproductive day, however, as I got some chores and other non-work-related tasks accomplished.

Saturday I did the week’s food shopping, as usual being appalled by what it cost.  I had plans to go to the gym in the evening.  It was fairly important that I go because I hadn’t gone on Friday.  Around 8:25 I headed out, which would give me ample time because Unique Fitness is open until 10 on Saturdays.  Or so I thought.  When I arrived, around 8:40, I found out that they were closing at nine, in just 20 minutes.  That wasn’t enough time for me to get anything meaningful done.  So two gym-less days in a row.

Sunday was better.  It took me about two hours to do my work assignment, at a location about 10 miles away where I’ve never previously been.  In the mid-afternoon I went to the gym and had a productive session.  One-arm dumbbell rows: 4 x 8 x 100/100.  Hoist movable seat row machine: 3 x 8 at resistance level 17 of 18.  Life fitness leg presses: 8 x 350, 8 x 370, 8 x 390, 2 x 8 x 410.  While this is less weight than I’ve done in the recent past, I had the plate set closer, so as to increase the range of motion and make the exercise more difficult.

Published in: on September 24, 2013 at 11:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

Wednesday, September 18 – Thursday, September 19

Same spot

While my current work involves going to a new worksite every day, on a 2-week cycle, on both of these days I was at the same location.  I’m not sure if this will be an ongoing thing each cycle.  Probably not, as some of the work that should have been completed the previous cycle didn’t get done, and it was necessary to do some catch-up.  Whatever the case, I’m hardly about to complain, as this location is only about a ten-minute drive from me.  It meant that I could get up at a nice civilized time rather that at some barbaric predawn hour.  Of course, there’s a downside; my company pays very nicely for travel time, but the clock starts running only after the first 30 minutes spent going to or from the worksite.  Close locations like this mean no travel pay.

Not that I should grip, as the work went pretty well each day, especially on Thursday when I finished up over two hours earlier than usual.  That will not mean less pay than usual, given the way it’s computed.  I also had the chance to do some work of a type that I haven’t done in over a year, which was nice.  Helps keep one’s skills from getting rusty.

Wednesday’s hot yoga session was very good.  My flexibility seems to have increased, and while my balance is still lagging it’s shown some definite improvement.  A couple of times I was able to hold a one-legged pose for the full duration of the movement.  The regular instructor was back, and after the session she told me that I had done well.  Nothing like a little positive reinforcement!  On Thursday it was off to the gym, I did my medicine-ball exercise, 7 x 10 with a 20-pound ball.  I may not be an exercise expert, but I believe I stumbled across something pretty useful when I devised this exercise.

Published in: on September 23, 2013 at 12:57 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, September 16 – Tuesday, September 17

Heading north is fun

My worksites both these days were several miles to the north of me and within a few miles of each other.  Driving north in the morning was pleasant.  While the main traffic pattern in my part of  Long Island is westbound in the morning and eastbound in the afternoon, there is also very heavy traffic on the main north-south roads.  In those areas north of the Long Island Expressway, which does not run along the midpoint of the island but is well to the south, the traffic flow is south in the morning and north in the afternoon.

This pattern can be seen very starkly on Nichols Road, county road no. 83, which is a sort-of-highway that runs almost from Long Island Sound in the north to the ocean in the south.  It so happened that I drove north on Nichols each morning to get to the worksites.  While I won’t say that traffic in my direction was light, among other things the Stony Brook college campus and medical center are near the road’s northern terminus so many people were going my way, it was nothing whatsoever like the stop-and-go misery that southbound drivers were experiencing.   It reminded me more than a little of driving eastbound on the Expressway in the morning.  Monday’s return trip was similarly easy, with traffic clearly starting to build in the opposite direction.  Tuesday I took a back route home.

Gym: I didn’t go on Monday, but I had a nice session on Tuesday.  Dips: 8 x bodyweight, 3 x 8 x bodyweight + 15, 8 x bodyweight.  Next time I’ll add 25 pounds.  Hoist moveable-seat leg press: 8 x 390, 8 x 410, 8 x 430, 8 x 450, 2 x 8 x 330. When I did the two cooldown sets at 330 I moved the seat closer to the weight plate, to increase the range of motion and make the exercise generally more difficult.

Published in: on September 20, 2013 at 3:17 am  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, September 14 – Sunday, September 15

This was basically a do-nothing weekend.  My primary accomplishments during these two days were, essentially, nothing.  I didn’t go to the gym on Saturday, but went on Sunday and did my medicine-ball exercise, 7 x 10 with the 20-pound ball.

Published in: on September 18, 2013 at 3:57 am  Leave a Comment  

Thursday, September 12 – Friday, September 13

More than just a taste

Thursday’s worksite was about 15 miles away, off of Exit 56 on the Long Island Expressway and then north on County Route 111.  I left home around 7:15, figuring I’d have no trouble making it there for 8.  Well, I was wrong, or at least almost wrong.  Right after I got on the Expressway traffic locked up tighter than a drum.   It was rush hour traffic par excellence.  By the time I made it to the exit it was almost 7:40, and the ordeal still wasn’t over.  Route 111 has quite a few traffic lights, including a brutal one at the intersection with Route 347 in Hauppague, and of course I got all of them red.  I finally made it to the worksite just at eight.  Even though being late would have had no adverse consequences, I just hate to be late for anything.  On a better note, the workday went well, and I had no particular trouble getting home.  Friday was a day off, so no traffic issues then.

I had decent gym sessions on both Thursday and Friday.  On Thursday, I started out with my home-grown medicine ball exercise, 5 x 10 with the 20-pound ball, and then used the Hoist movable seat row machine, 4 x 8 at resistance level 17 of 18.  I would have stayed longer, but got too worn out too fast.

On Friday, I continued with back work, doing 2 x 8 on the same machine, once again at level 17 or 18, and after that went back to an old friend, namely one-arm dumbbell rows, for 2 x 8 x 100/100.  I also did dips, and plenty of them: 8 x bodyweight, 3 x 8 x bodyweight + 10, 2 x 8 x bodyweight.  While I had planned beforehand to do some leg work, a bit of soreness in my left knee (most likely from Wednesday’s hot yoga) made me reconsider.


Published in: on September 16, 2013 at 3:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, September 9 – Wednesday, September 11

A reminder, if I’d forgotten

It’s been a while since I’ve had to deal with rush hour traffic except to the most limited extent.  If I’d been in any danger of forgetting its “joys,” Monday and Tuesday served as not-particularly-gentle reminders. As my new schedule calls for me to start work at 8 am, I have to deal with the heart of the morning rush hour.

Don’t get me wrong.  It’s not as if I’m spending three hours a day crawling along in a stop-and-go nightmare.  Twenty minutes is more like it.  Even so, it is a somewhat disturbing experience, like a horror movie in which you get just a fleeting glimpse of the monster.  Monday’s worksite was near Exit 57 on the Long Island Expressway.  Traffic was backed up starting at Exit 62, maybe five miles from Exit 57, yet it took me a good 15 to 20 minutes to cover that distance.  Had I been going further west it wold be have truly hideous, with the overhead signs warning of delays all the way to Exit 51, at least another ten miles, with an estimated travel time of 45 minutes.  Ugh.  Suffice to say I was very happy to see my exit.

Tuesday’s worksite was only slightly further away, except this time it was off the Sunrise Highway rather than the Expressway.  I was figuring that there’d be stop-and-go traffic for a few miles approaching the Southern State Parkway split.  Sure enough, that’s exactly what happened, and it took between ten and 15 minutes to negotiate those three miles.

On a brighter note, I had no trouble getting home either day, and Wednesday was a breeze because my worksite was to the east of me, in other words against the flow of traffic.  As for the new assignment, everything is going fine, and I believe I’ll like the concept of the two-week rotations.

Wednesday evening’s hot yoga was a bit different, as the usual instructor wasn’t there.  Her replacement, whom I’m seen around the studio before, had a more businesslike and less chatty manner.  It took a bit of getting used to it, but after a while she seemed fine and the session went about as well as could be expected.

Published in: on September 13, 2013 at 3:41 am  Leave a Comment  

Friday, September 6 – Sunday, September 8

I didn’t work on Friday, as I get ready for my new assignment on Monday, but nonetheless these were a busy three days.  For much of Friday I was sending e-mails back and forth to company management working out the details on the new assignment.  Though I’ve done this sort of work before, it’s never been on a permanent basis, so there are still some details with which I wasn’t familiar.  Among other things I got my first four workplace assignments, all are within about 20 miles and none should involve excessive traffic issues.

Later on Friday afternoon I went to the gym.  I started out with leg presses, using the Hoist moveable-seat machine that I’ve come to like.  It wasn’t a bad session: 8 x 370, 8 x 390, 2 x 8 x 410, 2 x 8 x 430, 8 x 450.  This puts me within hailing distance of the machine’s maximum setting of 490.  Next, keeping with my decision to do dips in place of bench presses, I did 5 x 8 x bodyweight.  I’d really like to start adding some weight, so I’m hoping that the missing weight belt turns up sometime soon.

Friday night offered a special treat.  I went to a beachfront park in Patchogue, hoping to get a glimpse of the LADES lunar probe being launched from Virginia around 11:30.  It was supposed to be visible all along the Atlantic coast as it headed east from the launching pad, but I was rather skeptical, the launch site being around 200 miles away.  Still, maybe I’d get lucky.  I chose this view spot because it offered a largely unobstructed view to the south over the ocean.  Fire Island was in the way, but as a low and narrow barrier island it wouldn’t block the view except for just a few degrees above the horizon.  As the launch time approached I noticed that at least 15 other people were gathering in the park.

To say that I saw more than expected would be a major understatment.  As the rocket headed on an upward trajectory it was brighter than any star, at least as bright as Venus, and I actually could make out the fiery exhaust tail.  As it got higher it briefly dimmed, but then there was a bright burst as it jettisoned one of the stages.  What surprised me the most, however, was the faint but distinct smoke trail that was visible for several degrees of arc behind the rocket.  It seemed impossible that it could be visible from such a long distance, but it was.

I took Saturday off from the gym – in truth, I was more than a little achy – but Saturday night was also something special.  We went to a coffeehouse in downtown Patchogue for a poetry and prose reading, at which my stepdaughter was the co-feature.  An open-mike session followed her reading, and we ended up staying for four hours.  It was all quite impressive, and I’m considering – nothing final yet, understand – coming up with a prose piece for next month’s reading.  On a side note, I was quite surprised at what a hopping sort of place downtown Patchogue has become, at least on weekend nights.  Just a few years ago it was quite rundown, but today it’s really moving up.

On Sunday I made a very quick gym session, this time doing nothing except dips.  I did 6 x 8 x bodyweight, and on my way out I spotted the long-missing weight belt.  This means I’ll be adding weight next time.

Published in: on September 9, 2013 at 2:33 am  Leave a Comment  

Tuesday, September 3 – Thursday, September 5

Last week of the project

I had thought that my current work project would end next week, but it turned out that this week would be the end.  Starting next week I’ll be rotating among eight worksites on a two-week cycle, Monday through Thursday, with Fridays spent catching up on any uncompleted tasks.  My specific tasks will change every two weeks, which should help stave off any boredom.  I did this sort of work for a couple of months around the end of last year, and more recently have done it on a fill-in basis.  It’s decent work, so I’m happy.  There also won’t be much driving, which is good considering that my car has almost 150,000 miles on it.

Tuesday and Thursday were fairly uneventful days.  Both of the worksites were about 30 minutes away, though not too close to one another.  As Tuesday’s location was close to being due east, I had some relatively minor traffic issues on the Long Island Expressway in the afternoon.  Nothing too bad, it was only about 3:30, but I knew that in an hour or so the road would be a nightmare.  Thursday’s site was in a less-trafficked location and driving was no issue at all.

Wednesday was rather more amusing.  The worksite was in Hempstead, in central Nassau County.  It took me about 45 minutes to get there, via Expressway–>Northern State Parkway–>Meadowbrook Parkway.  Traffic was starting to pick up on the Northern State, at about 6:30 in the morning, but I reached my exit before it got too bad.  Not long after arriving at the worksite, however, I found out that due to circumstances entirely beyond my control I wouldn’t be able to do anything.  After a couple of calls I got reassigned to a site about ten miles east of me, I’d been there a couple weeks ago in fact, which meant a long drive from Hempstead.  I figured that my best bet would be the Southern State Parkway to Sunrise Highway, I’d probably be able to make it in a little over an hour.

That’s what I thought. It was more difficult getting to the Southern State that I had expected – and let me tell you, Hempstead is not Long Island’s high rent district – and then I made the very unwelcome discovery that eastbound traffic on the Southern State is at a near-standstill during morning rush hour.  Westbound traffic, which is supposed to be the peak direction in the morning, was moving much better.  Who knew?  Thankfully, the maritime route came to the rescue: I took the Meadowbrook south to Ocean Parkway, and took that east into Suffolk County, where I got the Robert Moses Causeway to Sunrise Highway.  All in all it took me about an hour and ten minutes, I am reasonably sure that staying on the Southern State would have taken much longer even though it would have been several miles shorter.

Gym: I was too weary to go on Tuesday.  Wednesday was hot yoga, a surprisingly empty session.  I was one of just eight people in attendance, a third of the usual number.  It was a pretty good session, one tip the instructor had told me after the session last week really came in handy – when doing kneeling poses, I doubled up the mat to provide more cushioning for my knees.  I went to the gym quite late on Thursday.  I did 7 x 10 of my usual medicine ball routine with the 20-pound ball, and then used the Hoist moveable-seat row machine to do 7 x 8 at resistance level 17 of 18.  Pretty nice, another session or two and I should be at the machine’s maximum capacity.

Published in: on September 6, 2013 at 9:07 pm  Leave a Comment