Saturday, October 26 – Sunday, October 27

While Saturday was devoted mainly to food shopping and running various errands, I did get a bit of good news.  A company for which I do occasional work (not my regular employer) has some assignments over the next couple of weeks installing XBox One display kiosks in various retailers.  Each installation should take about an hour and pays $55.  I figure that I can manage 20 installations in two weeks, maybe one each weekday after my regular work and three or four on the weekends.  Not a bad bit of change for what shouldn’t be especially difficult work – I printed out the instructions and they seem pretty easy.

Later on Saturday I went to the gym and did some leg presses.  They were on the same moveable-seat machine that I’ve been using for a while.  I did 8 x 370, 8 x 390, 8 x 410, 8 x 430 and 8 x 450.  The machine’s top weight setting is 490, and doing a set at that level is my goal.  Once I reach it, I guess I’ll have no excuse for not doing squats or trap-bar deadlifts.  After the leg presses, I did something I haven’t done in a long time, and never at this gym: retrieving my gloves from the car, I went into the aerobics room and worked one of the heavy bags for a bit.  They have several bags in the room, used for kickboxing classes (the aerobics type, not Muay Thai), though because they’re right next to the walls they’re not ideal for bag work.  Still, it’ll be a nice change, though I’ll have to plan my bag work carefully because the room is in used for aerobics classes much of the time.

No gym on Sunday, though because I helped a family member move I got ample exercise 🙂

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Published in: on October 30, 2013 at 2:58 am  Leave a Comment  

Thursday, October 24 – Friday, October 25

Redirection

Thursday was one of those relatively rare workdays in which I experienced a last-minute change of plans.  I get these maybe once a month, rare enough that they come as a surprise when they happen.  I was almost at the scheduled worksite, about 15 miles to the west, when I got a call from my district manager sending me to a different site.  This one is about 20 miles to the east of where I live, meaning that it would be almost a 35-mile drive from where I was when the call came.  I didn’t mind, especially because the scheduled worksite has such poor cell phone reception that my phone’s battery gets completely drained even before the end of the workday. 

Friday was a day off from work, and I took advantage of the opportunity to make a visit to the local DMV office to renew my registration.  I was figuring it would be another hurry-up-and-wait situation, but it turned out that the DMV has just installed a self-service kiosk for registration renewals.  I was in and out of the office in five minutes, which would be utterly beyond ridiculous had the kiosk not been there.  Amazing, isn’t it, the DMV is actually embracing modern technology?

I’ve started a new book on my phone’s Kindle app, Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink.  It’s about the situation at what was then known as Memorial Hospital in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.  There was no power, very hot temperatures, and a general breakdown of order.  There also were claims that some patients were given lethal doses of morphine and sedatives.  Although charges were dropped against the doctor and other staff members accused of administering these injections, what actually happened remains a mystery.  My view is that the doctor in question comes off as such an immensely unlikeable person, I wouldn’t have cared if she were imprisoned despite being completely innocent.

Gym: Thursday evening was my first trip back in over a week.  I was going to do cable machine rows, like I’ve been doing for a few weeks, but because the machine was in use I decided to go back to one-arm dumbbell rows: 4 x 8 x 100/100.  They went well.  I also did 6 x 10 of my medicine ball exercise, as usual with the 20-pound ball.

Published in: on October 27, 2013 at 3:23 am  Leave a Comment  

Tuesday, October 22 – Wednesday, October 23

Back to the old grind

Getting back into my normal routine after the short trip to Florida was pretty easy.  Most likely that’s because it was, after all, a short trip.  Had I spent two months trekking in Nepal, no doubt the adjustment process would have been lengthier.  And I definitely wouldn’t have gotten a $175 round trip fare on Spirit Airlines.  Speaking of which, just after I got back the Federal Aviation Administration grounded a number of Spirit airplanes in Ft. Lauderdale for several hours, so it could perform unannounced safety inspections.  That’s a very unusual move and wrought havoc with the schedules. I don’t know why it happened, Spirit may be a cheap airline but has a new fleet of Airbus aircraft.  Maybe it was something to do with record-keeping.

Both workdays went well.  For the next couple of weeks I’ll be dealing with somewhat tedious duties that aren’t particularly taxing.  Tuesday’s worksite was about ten miles to the east, right off the Sunrise Highway, and except for a short stretch traffic wasn’t bad.  On Wednesday I headed east about 15 miles, against the flow of traffic.  While I’m not one of those people who enjoys driving for the sake of driving, there definitely is something nice about missing the worst of rush hour.

I didn’t go to the gym on Tuesday, a decision I regret a bit, however Wednesday was hot yoga as usual.  It was slightly disappointing because for the first time in five sessions I had to lie on my mat for a brief time, no more than a minute or so, after getting dizzy.  This is completely normal in hot yoga, many people take more and longer breaks, but I was sorry that my streak came to an end.  Still, the short break was enough to revive me and I made it through the hour remaining in the 90-minute session with no trouble.

Published in: on October 25, 2013 at 3:49 am  Leave a Comment  

Thursday, October 17 – Monday, October 21

Back from Florida

It was a short but pleasant trip, and even the break from the gym which it entailed probably wasn’t a bad idea.  Tomorrow it’s back to work (and the gym) as usual.

Some observations, in no particular order:

1. Spirit Airlines is ridiculously cheap.  $175 round trip from LaGuardia to Ft. Lauderdale  is about half what it would have cost on (the supposedly cheap) Southwest Airlines.  Yes, there are a host of additional fees, but with some planning they can be avoided.

2. Spirit has a new co-branded credit card with Bank of America.  The flight attendants tout it so relentlessly I am half-convinced they’re under quota pressure.

3. Driving to LaGuardia airport in morning rush hour is horrendous.  What made it worse is realizing, as I approached the Queens line on the Long Island Expressway, is that because there was another person in my car (who would be driving it back), I could have used the HOV lane … which, needless to say, ends at the Queens line.

4. The flight down to Fort Lauderdale was the first flight that I’ve ever been on in which a majority of the passengers, I’d say two-thirds or more, were racial/ethnic minorities.  Most likely it’s because Spirit has a number of connecting flights from Ft. Lauderdale to the Caribbean and Central/South America.

5. Verizon Wireless service in Florida is MUCH better than on Long Island.  There is simply no comparison.

6.  While it’s legal for gas stations in Florida to charge more for credit cards, as some do, it doesn’t seem to be a common practice.  Not like New York, where almost all do.

7. The Q70 Limited bus from LaGuardia to the Roosevelt Avenue subway station is an absolute gem.  It makes airport transportation so much better than it used to be.

Published in: on October 22, 2013 at 3:42 am  Comments (1)  

Monday, October 14 – Wednesday, October 16

Short workweek

Only a 3-day workweek, as I’ll be heading off for a short trip to Florida on Thursday.  It actually was a rather unchallenging workweek too, as the assignments I was doing were not hard at all.  Monday and Tuesday were spent at two different locations both to the north of me, so I had no traffic considerations at all.  On Wednesday, I had to go to three different locations during the course of the day, but as all were close to me it wasn’t much of a burden.  I actually like going to different worksites in one day, it helps break up any tedium, but it’s not the sort of thing that happens too often.

I didn’t go to the gym on Monday as I was unusually achy, don’t know from what.  My left foot was especially painful.  Tuesday I recovered enough to have a decent session, starting out with my medicine ball exercise, 6 x 10 with the 20-pound ball, followed by cable rows, 4 x 8 at resistance level 12 out of 16.  I also did some of the very lame cable deadlifts, 4 x 10 at the top resistance level; yes, they are no substitute whatsoever for real deadlifts, but with my foot pain I didn’t want to take any risks.  By Wednesday, my foot was mostly back to normal and I was able to go to hot yoga.  The regular instructor wasn’t able to run the class because she was losing her voice, though she participated in the session, so the studio owner took over the lead.  She is tough, very tough, and for a while I was worried that I’d have to take a break for the first time in weeks.  But I made it through.

Published in: on October 17, 2013 at 2:41 am  Leave a Comment  

Friday, October 11 – Sunday, October 13

This was a better weekend than last.  I did a few hours’ work on Friday, at a Nassau County location not far from Roosevelt Field Mall.  It wasn’t my usual work, something a bit different, but I liked the variety and hey, money is money.

On Friday evening I had a pretty decent gym session.  Even though I had done dips just the day before I did some more, 4 x 10 x bodyweight.  It really would be nice to find that weight belt so I could do weighted dips.  I also did another set of 4 x 10 of my medicine ball exercise, as usual on the 20-pound ball.  Saturday was another trip to the gym, this time I did leg presses on the Hoist machine that I’ve been using, 8 x 350, 8 x 370, 8 x 390, 8 x 410, 8 x 430.

One less-than-welcome surprise involves my upcoming flight to Florida.  Sure, it’s nice that I was able to get a ridiculously cheap flight on Spirit Airlines, but it also turns out that they charge $35 for each carry-on bag ($40 for checked bags).  Because you can carry a small bag for free, a provision aimed at women’s purses and computer bags, I’ve decided that I’ll bring as little as I can manage (I’ll have access to a washer and dryer), carrying it in a plastic shopping bag.  Fancy luggage, huh?

Published in: on October 16, 2013 at 3:37 am  Leave a Comment  

Wednesday, October 9 – Thursday, October 10

Definite progress!

It’s funny how progress or advancement sometimes goes.  After being at the same level for an extended period, all of a sudden there’s fairly rapid improvement.   And so it goes with my hot yoga.  I’ve been doing it for several months now, and while I’ve steadily gotten better most of the improvements have been rather modest.  Until recently.  It’s now become evident that I’m doing much better at a rapid pace, with Wednesday’s session being the third in a row in which this has been the case.  It’s not just my impression, the instructor mentioned it to me too.  I can’t really explain why this has happened, and I’m realistic enough to know that the pace will slow down at some point, but it’s something nice to experience.

Thursday was another good day, as my gym session went very well.  As the dip belt seems to have vanished for good, I had to stick with bodyweight dips, but 6 x 10 is a decent number even without added weight.  Then it was off to cable rows, and I did 4 x 8 on each arm with the resistance level set at 12 out of 16.  Last time I managed only one of the four sets at 12, the others being at all, and figured the next session I could do two at 12.  Instead I did all four.  I finished off with my medicine ball exercise, 5 x 10 with the 20-pound ball.

There’s not much noteworthy to say about work.  Wednesday’s worksite was to the east, I was going against the flow of traffic, while on Thursday I had surprisingly light traffic on my way to Exit 57.  Dunno where everyone was … actually I do, I had left about 15 minutes earlier than usual and that must have been just enough to miss the worst of the rush.  Work itself was very easy, next week should be the same way, in fact I was able to get a head start on some assignments that won’t actually be coming up for two more weeks.

Published in: on October 12, 2013 at 1:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

Monday, October 7 – Tuesday, October 8

Back to deadlifting!

There isn’t much to report about work either day.  On Monday I had to deal with some morning rush hour traffic on the Long Island Expressway, while on Tuesday it was the Sunrise Highway’s turn,  As much as I enjoy complaining about rush hour traffic, neither day was sufficiently bad for me to make much of a fuss.  I don’t miss the days last year when I was driving to Westchester or Connecticut each day and having to deal with all sorts of rush hour comedy.  Though I do miss the ample travel pay I had gotten …

My tasks for the next two-week cycle are pretty easy.  So easy, in fact, that on both days I was finished with them hours before I was able to leave the worksite.  I suppose I could have worked more slowly, but I find that difficult to do.  Anyway, I always can find other tasks that need to be done even though they’re not the priority must-complete ones.

I made up for the weekend’s lack of gym-going by having a long session on Monday evening.  After having found deadlifting on the cable machine too unchallenging, I started out the old-fashioned way with trap bar deadlifts.  These were plenty challenging, especially as I used the side of the trap bar that does not have raised lifting handles and therefore experienced a longer range of motion.  I did 24 total reps, which is plenty on such a tough exercise: 6 x 235, 6 x 255, 6 x 275, 6 x 295.  How I made it through the last set I do not know.  Next came rows on the cable machine, 4 x 8 with each arm.  For the first set I used resistance level 12 out of 16, and on the other three used level 11 like I did last time.  My immediate goal is to work up to level 12 for all sets.  To finish the session I did 5 x 10 of my medicine ball exercise, using as usual the 20-pound ball.

 

Published in: on October 10, 2013 at 3:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Friday, October 4 – Sunday, October 6

It was a lost weekend.  No, not in the same sense as in the classic movie of the same name, I’m not that much of a derelict.  It’s just that I didn’t end up going to the gym at all.  Friday I wasn’t really in the mood, then on Saturday I didn’t have much energy, and finally on Sunday I was much too busy with other things.  Guess I’ll have to make up for this next week.
Having finished Command and Control, my latest Kindle reading is The Book of Matt, by Stephen Jimenez.  It’s an in-depth investigation of the Matthew Shepard murder in Wyoming.  This murder of course became a national cause, the conventional wisdom having been that it was a homophobic crime, but it turns out that there was much more to the story.  I’m not too far into the book just yet, but so far so good.

Published in: on October 8, 2013 at 2:32 am  Leave a Comment  

Wednesday, October 2 – Thursday, October 3

It could hardly have been any easier

To say that work was easy these two days would be a huge understatement.  I was at the same worksite both days, as scheduled, but it turned out that the amount of tasks I had to do took no more than about four hours.  In other words, I was done with all of the assigned duties by lunchtime on Wednesday.  With a full day and a half to do.  As I don’t like having nothing to do, this wasn’t a welcome prospect.  Fortunately, after making a couple of calls I was able to come up with more tasks, which kept me reasonably busy for the rest of Wednesday and most of Friday.  Another thing I found out when talking to the supervisor is that the workload is likely to get much heavier after the first of the year.  I didn’t think my sort of work varies much by season, but to some extent it does.

I finished reading Command and Control.  Its end came as a bit of a surprise, because according to my phone’s Kindle app I was just about at the 50% mark when it ended.  What happened is that the lengthy bibliography and footnote section somehow counts as much more in the app’s percentage-of-completion calculations as does ordinary text.   I can’t say I’m sorry, really, as the story had been starting to drag just a bit.  All in all, I’d give it a B+.

Wednesday evening’s hot yoga was a bit different from usual.  Even though I got to the studio almost a half-hour prior to the start of the session almost all the rear spaces were taken, and I had to set up my mat in the front row.  In the three or so months I’ve been going I’ve only been in front once before.  It turned out well.  Being right in front of the mirror definitely helped my balance.  I had a much closer-up view and there were fewer distractions.  All in all, it was a very good session.

At the gym on Thursday I decided to try something different,  After doing my medicine-ball routine, 6 x 10 with the 20-pound ball, I had planned to do one-arm dumbbell rows.  Unfortunately, doing this exercise requires the use of a flat bench, and all three of the flat benches in the dumbbell area were in use by people who didn’t look as if they’d be going anywhere anytime soon.  Rather than wait, I decided to try something different, and did the one-arm rows on one of the cable stations.  I’ve rarely used cable stations and never before for rows.  All I can say is that the rows were much tougher than I had expected, though I was able to complete 5 x 10 on each arm I couldn’t set the resistance level any higher than 11 out of 16.  Still, the exercise seemed to hit my back pretty hard, and doing something different on occasion is always a good idea.  Next time I’ll try for the resistance level of 12 out of 16.

Finally, after seeing a diagram on the cable station about deadlifts, I decided to give them a try.  It was maybe a waste, it’s hard to say, as even at the maximum resistance the deadlifts were pretty easy.  I did 6 x 10, figuring the high volume would do some good.   I really should get back to deadlifts, I’ve been awfully lazy about them, but next time it would be better to stick with the tried-and-true trap bar.

Published in: on October 7, 2013 at 12:23 am  Leave a Comment