Monday, April 28 – Tuesday, April 29

Do they balance each other out?

Monday was one of the worst days I’ve had at my main job in months.  Many months.  In part this was because there was a very high volume of work that had to be completed by the end of my shift, and partly because I kept encountering several organizational obstacles.  Basically, it was seven hours of almost nonstop frustration.  About the only good thing is that I had more energy than would have been expected after working at the Major Home Improvement Retailer all weekend.  Also, the worksite wasn’t far away.  But these are minor factors.  It was a bad day, no question about it, and even though I wasn’t scheduled to work at the MHIR in the evening there was just no way I could have dragged myself to the gym.

Fortunately, Tuesday was a much better day all around. The worksite was a bit further away, but everything went fine.  The volume of work was much more reasonable, the working conditions were much better overall, and Monday’s organizational obstacles were nowhere to be found.  I was done for the day by 2pm, and my plans were to unwind for a while and then make a quick gym trip before going into the MHIR at 8.

Or so I thought.  I found out around 5 that my evening shift had been cancelled.  I can’t say it was particularly surprising.  I was supposed to be on garden recovery duty, in other words getting the garden area back in shape after the day’s customer traffic.  As it was cloudy all day, with temperatures more suited to early March than almost May, it was a safe bet that there weren’t many garden customers and hence little need for recovery work.

I took advantage of the situation my making my brief gym visit a much longer visit. My plan was to start out with one-arm dumbbell rows, but because all the benches were in use I began with shrugs on the standing calf machine, 4 x 10 x 330.  A bench having become available, I did the rows, 5 x 8 x 95/95.  Moving up to the 95’s was no trouble, and next time I’ll try the 100’s for at least one set. Normally I would have done T-bar rows next, but that particular apparatus was in use, so instead I did pulldowns on a Life Fitness machine, one I’ve never used before, 3 x 8 x 110.  It wasn’t bad, I might try it next time.  I then decided to finish with some biceps work, something I’ve been neglecting, and did EZ curls, 3 x 8 with a 50-pound bar.  As this is not a regular exercise for me I kept it light.

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Published in: on April 30, 2014 at 3:21 am  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, April 26 – Sunday, April 27

Two days spent working 3:30 to midnight at the Major Home Improvement Retailer.  While in theory that schedule leaves me with several hours before going into work, as a practical matter it’s hard to make any productive use of that time.  On a day when I work until 3 or so at my main job and then go into the MHIR at 8, I find that the between-jobs time actually can be useful.  I’d say the difference is that knowing I have to go in for just an 4-hour shift is somehow less burdensome (in mostly a psychological sense) than is knowing I have to go in for more than twice that long.

For the first few hours of my shift on Saturday it was bright and sunny, and the outside garden area was jammed with customers.  I was very busy indeed.  Then, very suddenly, it got cloudy, the temperature dropped rapidly, and it began to rain.  That of course meant that the outdoor customers vanished, though I had work to do in the inside garden area.  This included selling a couple of expensive, top-of-the-line gas grills, though naturally enough I don’t earn commissions.

On Sunday I did some customer service work, but for most of the shift I was packing out freight, as there was a big push to clear out the receiving area in anticipation of some large deliveries on Monday.  While I was able to find shelf space for many items, for others I had to climb ladders to put them in the overhead storage areas.  Funny, it seemed as if the heavier the item, the greater the chances that I’d have to hump it up a ladder. Not that I should complain too much, as the shift seemed to go by more quickly than usual.

Published in: on April 30, 2014 at 2:10 am  Leave a Comment  

Thursday, April 24 – Friday, April 25

Tough end to the workweek

Thursday was one of those days I definitely would not care to repeat. Whenever there’s a day when I work at both my main job and at the Major Home Improvement Retailer, at least one of them goes pretty smoothly even if the other does not.  Sort of a cosmic balancing-out. Thursday was more of a cosmic thud, as both jobs were particularly hard.  In neither case were there any main factors behind the difficulty, just a bunch of small annoyances that added up to definite unpleasantness.

Anyway, I suppose I shouldn’t complain too much.  Both jobs are usually decent as such things go.  Not to mention the fact that many people have no work at all.  And then there’s the fact that what I went through in my life insurance days was orders of magnitude worse.  In fact, rather than just not complaining, I ought to be thankful.

Friday was a pleasant interlude, being a day off from both jobs.  I went to the gym in the afternoon, but didn’t have much motivation.  I ended up doing leg presses, on the Hoist machine I’ve been using from time to time: 8 x 370, 8 x 390, 8 x 410, 8 x 430, 8 x 450, 8 x 470.  I know that I haven’t been particularly diligent at the gym, or at yoga for that matter, but that should change in another six weeks or so.  By then the big spring rush at the Major Home Improvement Retailer will be over, and I’ll be back to working around 14 to 18 hours a week, down from the 24 to 28 I’m now doing.  Less money to be sure, but I’ll have more time, energy and motivation for other things.

Published in: on April 29, 2014 at 2:08 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, April 21 – Wednesday, April 23

Wow. How exciting.

These were not, by any stretch of the imagination, particularly exciting days.  I wouldn’t say that I was stuck in a rut, not exac – actually, I pretty much was.  All three days at my regular job were profoundly ordinary.  Not unusually easy, nor unusually hard, and traffic wasn’t an issue.  Tuesday was the only evening when I worked at the Major Home Improvement Retailer, and though some of my tasks were a bit different from what I usually do, it was otherwise routine.

I made it to the gym on Wednesday, hoping to do some dumbbell bench presses.  By the time I arrived I just didn’t have the energy or the inclination for such a demanding exercise.  Instead, I used the Hammer Strength plate-loaded dips, upping the weight to 360, and did 6 x 8.  Not bad.

Published in: on April 24, 2014 at 10:54 pm  Leave a Comment  

Thursday, April 17 – Sunday, April 20

More of a vacation that I had anticipated

I’m compressing two weekdays and the weekend into a single entry because they all were pretty much the same.  Originally, I had been scheduled to work at the Major Home Improvement Retailer on Friday night 8 to midnight and then for eight hours on Saturday, 3:30 to midnight.  Imagine my surprise when I got a call on Thursday informing me that my shifts had been cancelled.  Not that I should have been too surprised, as this sort of thing happens occasionally, including to me a couple of times recently.  As part of MHIR policy that had been explained to me back when I was hired, if sales during the first part of the week fall below expectations, work hours on Friday, Saturday and Sunday are subject to reduction. Garden sales account for a major chunk of storewide sales this time of year, and due to bad weather early in the week garden customers were staying away in droves. I can’t say I’m happy about the lost pay, but the situation’s not likely to repeat and I actually needed a few days completely off.

So, did I make productive use of my time off?  Sort of.  We had a nice Easter dinner on Sunday, having gone to Riverhead the day earlier to get pies from Briermere Farms (best pies anywhere!) Earlier on, we went to IHOP on Friday around noon, for the first time in ages, and were pleasantly impressed by the food.  I had the Rooty Tooty Fresh and Fruity combo, and let me tell you it was NOT easy saying that with a straight face.

Oh, and I also had two decent gym sessions.  Friday was for legs, and as my left elbow was a bit sore (dunno why) I decided to skip trap bar deadlifts and squats in favor of machine work.  Yeah, I know.  I used the Hoist moveable-seat leg press machine that I’ve sometimes used in the past: 10 x 330, 10 x 350, 10 x 370, 10 x 390, 10 x 410.  Next came lying leg curls, 3 x 8 x 110. On Sunday, going in the late morning as the gym was closing at 2, I did one-arm dumbbell rows, 7 x 8 x 95/95.  Moving up to the 95’s from the 90’s was no trouble at all.  Normally I would have done four sets followed by three sets on the T-bar row, but a group of three people were taking turns using the T-bar and didn’t look as if they’d be off anytime soon, so I just did three more sets of the one-arm dumbbell rows.  Better exercise, anyway. I also did standing calf machine shrugs, 3 x 10 x 330.

Published in: on April 21, 2014 at 3:10 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, April 14 – Wednesday, April 16

Is this supposed to be a vacation?

Monday marked the start of my week-long “vacation” from my main job.  I use the quotation marks because if you’re not getting paid it’s not a real, quotation-mark-free vacation.  Not that I should complain too much, because (a) I knew long in advance that I’d be off this week, and (b) the Major Home Improvement Retailer is giving me plenty of hours. It won’t make up for all the lost pay, but it will help for sure.

My very long weekend of work at the MHIR left me pretty well devastated on Monday.  All morning I was dragging myself around and was in absolute dread of the upcoming 8 to midnight shift.  By early afternoon I had recovered a bit of energy, just a bit, and decided to do some back work at the gym.  One-arm dumbbell rows weren’t going to happen, nor were T-bar rows at the weights I’d been using.  After giving the matter some thought, I decided to try T-bar rows at a reduced weight, and did 5 x 8 x 100.  I know, that’s down 45 pounds from last time, but I simply didn’t have the energy to muster anything better.  On a happier note, or notes, we had an early dinner at P.F. Chang’s, excellent as usual, and my four hours at the MHIR were pretty easy.

On Tuesday, I didn’t do much of consequence for much of the day, which suited me just fine.  It’s a “vacation,” right? What I did do in the afternoon is go to hot yoga for the first time in way too long.  I’ve rarely attended a 4pm session, and to my surprise today’s was absolutely jammed.  All those bodies made the room even hotter.  It all worked out well, however, as I had no trouble making it through the entire session and my flexibility hasn’t deteriorated too much.  My balance was a different story, missing over a month has definitely been a setback as far as balance is concerned, but nothing too bad.  My MHIR shift was a bit more difficult than Monday’s, but still easier than usual.

Wednesday was when I finally got back to a reasonably serious gym session.  I started with dumbbell bench presses, this time being able to use a fixed flat bench rather than one of the more awkward adjustable ones.  My first thought was to start with the 80’s, but at the last minute I threw caution to the winds and went for the 85’s.  It went well, and I was able to do 5 x 8 x 85/85.  Only on the last rep of the last two sets did I struggle, and even then it wasn’t too bad.  Next came shrugs on the standing calf machine, which I’d forgotten to do on Monday: 4 x 10 x 290.  I finished with Hammer Strength plate-loaded rows, 3 x 8 x 340.  That wasn’t a weight increase from last time, I’ll have to add weight next time.Wednesday night’s MHIR shift, the usual 8 to midnight, was another fairly easy one, about on par with Tuesday’s.

Published in: on April 18, 2014 at 3:02 am  Leave a Comment  

Friday, April 11 – Sunday, April 13

I still don’t know how I managed to survive this “weekend.” It defies explanation.  Okay, Friday wasn’t too bad.  During the day I ran the usual errands, and made it to the gym.  It was a nice session, too.  It started out with dumbbell bench presses, 5 x 8 x 80/80.  This jump in weight from last time was no trouble.  What was a bit more bothersome was that I had to use an adjustable bench set at the “flat” setting rather than a flat bench, all of which were in use.  It took some time to get used to the new bench because it’s higher off the ground than the flat benches.  That wouldn’t matter with most exercises, but is more of an issue with dumbbell benches because it’s always awkward getting the weights into position.  After the benches I did Hammer Strength plate-loaded dips, 4 x 8 x 340.

Later on Friday I went into the Major Home Improvement Retailer for an 8 to midnight shift.  I was busy, but as the shift was only four hours it wasn’t bad.  The same cannot be said for Saturday and Sunday, as I worked 3:30 to midnight both days.  More to the point, the garden area was absolutely packed with customers, and even more to the point many of them were buying heavy things like large bags of fertilizer and topsoil, as well as paving and patio stones of various shapes.  While some customers will load these heavy items onto their carts themselves, more often than not the task was mine.  I did not keep a running tally of the poundage I hoisted, but it certainly would have been in the 2,000-lb. + range each day! Who needs the gym?

Published in: on April 14, 2014 at 7:53 pm  Leave a Comment  

Wednesday, April 9 – Thursday, April 10

Before the break

I’ll be off next week from my primary job, though fortunately I’m getting 28 hours from the Major Home Improvement Retailer. It will still make for an unusual schedule, as on the weekdays I won’t be going into work until 8pm.  Which actually may be a good thing, as I’ll have ample time off during the day.  Of course it also means that I’ll have to get used to going to the gym before work.  That probably won’t be difficult, give the late start times.

Both of the days at the regular job were pretty easy.  I was done by 2:00 on Wednesday and an hour earlier on Thursday. Combined with a conveniently close worksite, neither day seemed like a “real” workday. On Thursday, I had an 8 to midnight shift at the MHIR, and all in all it wasn’t too bad.  Busy enough for the time to go by quickly but not so busy as to be hectic.

I went to the gym on Wednesday for back work. It was a pretty good session too.  I started out with shrugs on the standing calf raise machine, 4 x 10 x 270.  Then, with a bench finally having opened up, I did one-arm dumbbell rows, 4 x 8 x 90/90. I finished with T-bar rows, 4 x 8 x 145.  All of these represented increases from last time, so I’m making progress.

Published in: on April 12, 2014 at 1:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

Monday, April 7 – Tuesday, April 8

Why is it so hard to find parts?

I’d have to say that both of these days were quite hard and high-pressure at my regular job. Not that I’m trying to over dramatize or anything, I wouldn’t say that they were horrible, but they definitely were tougher than usual. What’s a bit odd is that there was no single reason for this state of affairs.  It wasn’t as if one factor accounted for everything.  It was more like a number of small factors combined, though that’s probably not all that uncommon a state of affairs.

I wasn’t working at the Major Home Improvement Retailer on Monday, which isn’t to say that it was an easy evening.  Over two hours were devoted to an ultimately fruitless wild goose chase trying to locate a tool essential for working on a family member’s car.  It’s funny.  With Amazon and other sellers offering quick, ofter overnight, delivery of just about anything, car parts and tools can be difficult to acquire.  What, are they not “just about everything?”

Tuesday I did the 8 to midnight shift at the MHIR.  It was literally a very dirty time, as I spent much of the shift gathering and trying to tape up ripped bags of topsoil.  My poor apron was filthy by the time I left, not that it was too clean to begin with.

Published in: on April 11, 2014 at 4:43 am  Leave a Comment  

Friday, April 4 – Sunday, April 6

Friday was a welcome day off, something that’s not particularly common given my schedule.  It took me a long time to get going in the morning, and I’m not sorry in the least.  What, I’m supposed to be a dynamo of energy every single day?  Really.  Once I finally got going I did a number of errands and other minor chores. While I had been planning on going to the gym in the early evening, that didn’t come to pass, instead we made another trip to P.F. Chang’s.  The same thing that had derailed my gym plans on Monday, not that I’m complaining.  Tip: the hot fish Hunan style is terrific.

Saturday was an early start for me as I had an 8 to 2:30 shift at the Major Home Improvement Retailer.  What made the shift unusual is that I was barely inside the building at all.  Mulch was on sale, at two dollars a bag, and a sales area had been set up in the side parking lot.  That’s where I spent my shift.  People were buying big quantities, typical amounts were 20 bags or more, and along with a couple other people I was helping them load the bags into their vehicles.  While the bags weren’t particularly heavy, the sheer volume made it a pretty tough day.  On the good side, the shift went by very quickly.

My Sunday shift was a bit later, 10 to 3:30.  For the first half hour I worked on the outside mulch sale, but then I got reassigned to pulling online orders.  That’s actually my regular job, one to which I’ll probably returning once the garden season is over.  It wasn’t easy today, for two reasons.  The first and more basic reason is simply that the orders were large, in one case involving almost 200 paving stones.  The second reason, well, it’s sort of my fault.  I recently had bought a pair of steel toe boots at Walmart, paying only about $30 in what I had thought was a terrific deal.  They felt fine when I tried them on in the store, too. Well, suffice to say that upon wearing them on Sunday, within an hour they began to hurt my feet.  A lot. By the end of my shift I was limping and in constant pain, and later found that the horrible boots had left a couple of raw patches on my toes.  Thanks, Walmart!

I made it to the gym on Saturday for leg work.  As my hands were quite sore from all the mulch-loading I had done all day, I decided to use machines rather than do trap bar deadlifts or squats.  I used a Hoist moveable-seat leg press, doing 6 x 10 at the maximum resistance level of 18/18.  That may sound impressive, but in fact it wasn’t all that difficult.  Next came lying leg curls, 3 x 8 x 110.  To finish the session I did standing calf raises, 3 x 10 x 270.

Published in: on April 9, 2014 at 9:14 pm  Leave a Comment