Monday, August 25 – Wednesday, August 27

An okay cycle, I guess

It looks as if the new 2-week workcycle that started on Monday will be about mid-range in terms of difficulty.  There have been easier ones, and there have been harder ones, and that’s that.  Monday was the only day which I had to stay past the usual quitting time, and it was for only about 20 minutes.  Actually, Wednesday could have been a very long day indeed, on account of some unexpected obstacles I encountered, but I was able to get my district manager’s permission to omit some thing I normally would have had to do.

It’s actually very good that I didn’t have to stay late on Wednesday, because after a short break I headed into the Major Home Improvement Retailer for a 4:30 to 8:30 shift.  Some of it consisted of a task I particularly dislike, namely humping heavy boxes (mostly 35 to 45 pounds) up a 15-foot ladder into an overhead storage area.  It has to be done, of course, and I suppose it had some exercise value.  After completing that task, I helped the store manager set up a large new display of snowblowers.  It was a bit weird, to say the least, because Wednesday was a steamy hot day with temperatures over 90.

Speaking of exercise value, I went to the gym on Tuesday (Monday was out as other things intervened) for bench pressing.  I didn’t feel particularly energetic and figured that I’d have a mediocre session at best.  It actually turned out pretty well: 6 x 135, 6 x 155, 6 x 185, 6 x 205, 4 x 4 x 225, 6 x 185.  I had been planning to do some shoulder work but right after benching I developed a severe cramp in my left bicep and decided against it. Next time I bench I’ll try for a 5 x 5 at 225.  Should be do-able.

Published in: on August 29, 2014 at 3:15 am  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, August 23 – Sunday, August 24

It’s funny what a big difference two hours can make.  Just 120 minutes if you want to think of it that way, but whatever the case it’s not much time at all in the grand scheme of things.  Except when it comes to working at the Major Home Improvement Retailer, that is.  On Saturday, I had a five-hour workday, 9:30 to 2:30.  After the first half-hour or so it got really busy, for a while I was running around pretty much nonstop, but quitting time rolled around almost before I knew it.  Once I clocked out it really didn’t seem like I had done much.  It was, in short, a very quick five hours.  One advantage of the early quitting time is that I had ample time to get various errands done over the rest of the day.

Sunday’s workday at the MHIR was longer, seven hours long to be precise (11 to 6:30 with a 30-minute lunch break).  Just two hours longer than Saturday’s quick and easy day.  It seemed much, much longer, however.  I don’t know why, it was a busy day but so was Saturday.  Around the middle of the afternoon I got into the habit of repeatedly checking the time, and being dismayed at how slowly it was moving.  In that the Theory of Relativity wasn’t in play I can only assume that the slow passage of time was a matter of perception vs. reality. 

Published in: on August 27, 2014 at 2:55 am  Leave a Comment  

Wednesday, August 20 – Friday, August 22

Continued yoga progress

Wednesday and Thursday were fairly easy days at my main job because I spent them both at the same worksite.  Having two days at the same site makes for a nice break at the end of the work cycle.  Wednesday was not a super-easy day, to be sure, and in fact I stayed until my normal quitting time.  It was, however, lower-pressure in a fairly clear manner.  I knew that if I were unable to finish all my allotted tasks it wouldn’t matter because I’d get another chance the next day.  As things turned out, I got a bit ahead of the game on Wednesday and consequently had a very easy day Thursday.  By 11am, four hours after starting, I was completely finished with all my work.  I did a few other things to occupy myself until noon, which is about the earliest I can leave and still get paid for the full day.

Although I had gone to hot yoga on Thursday of the prior week, this week I figured I’d better go on Wednesday because I’d be working at the Major Home Improvement Retailer on Thursday (more on that soon). I went to the 6pm session, which was quite crowded and had an instructor I haven’t seen before.  She might be new.  It turned out to be an excellent session, one of the best I’ve had.  While I can’t say my balance was perfect, it’s definitely still a work in progress, it was a lot better than I had been expecting.  My stamina was very good too.  Everything just fell into place, and I’d also have to say that the instructor was very good.

As for the MHIR, on the weekend I had agreed to work the 8 to midnight shift on Thursday evening for another employee.  He said he would square it away with the scheduling person.  Well, when I arrived on Thursday evening my name wasn’t on the written schedule, nor was it on the online schedule, and the senior employee in the garden department (in charge of the shift as the department head wasn’t in) didn’t know about any hours switch.  I’m not sure what exactly happened, but I wasn’t going to be working. 

On Friday, my day off from both jobs, I decided to check out the Bayard Cutting Arboretum not far from me, a state park with thousands of magnificent tree specimens. I haven’t been there in several years.  Well, one thing that’s happened in the intervening years is that the formerly free park now has an obscene $8 parking charge.  On grounds of principle I would not pay.  Taxes are high enough already that it is an outrage to charge for parking. Does the state need the revenue?  No doubt it does, but you see the solution is not to raise “user fees” but to cut spending! So, no arboretum for me.  Next day off I might try parking at the Great River LIRR station about three-quarters of a mile away and waking to the arboretum. 

To console myself, I went instead to the nearby Sans Souci park, which is much less spectacular but has the virtue of being free … for now. Later on I went to the gym for more deadlifting: 4 x 5 x 225, 5 x 245. 


Published in: on August 25, 2014 at 2:57 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, August 18 – Tuesday, August 19

Dead zones, but easy days

As is customary for the second week of my two-week workcycle, I was at worksites on Monday and Tuesday which have extremely poor cell phone service.  On Monday my phone went from fully charged to about a 5% charge in seven hours, while on Tuesday I was able to make it through the workday without losing all charge by keeping my phone turned off for much of the time.  On the brighter side, both workdays went pretty well.  Nothing too hectic, no last-minute crises.

On Monday, I also worked from 5 to 9 at the Major Home Improvement Retailer.  Several months ago I often worked evening hours of this sort, but not recently.  It really wasn’t bad.  I had a couple hours to unwind from my regular job before going into the MHIR, and it was still early enough when I got out that the evening wasn’t over.  One thing I noticed is that the customers were more in a hurry than the weekend ones, which makes sense as most of them were, I presume, stopping off after work and not really in the mood for leisurely weekend-style shopping.  The four hours went by quickly, especially the last hour or so.

I did some back work at the gym on Tuesday.  It wasn’t bad.  T-bar rows: 8 x 115, 2 x 8 x 120, 8 x 115.  Barbell rows: 8 x 155, 2 x 8 x 165, 8 x 155.  Standing calf machine shrugs: 3 x 10 x 350.

Published in: on August 21, 2014 at 3:19 am  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, August 16 – Sunday, August 17

Another semi-weekend, the semi part being because I worked at the Major Home Improvement Retailer both days.  Saturday really wasn’t that bad, as I worked from 8:30 to 1.  As far as I can recall, that was the earliest I’ve ever started at the MHIR.  It wasn’t busy at first, I’ve heard from other workers that early-morning traffic is mainly a weekday thing, but by 10 it was getting steadily busier.  I assisted customers in the Garden department and also did some reshelving of returned items.  One thing about the MHIR is that it has a very liberal returns policy, and as a result there always are many returns.  It’s a competitive thing, customers like being able to make returns with no questions asked and will go elsewhere if that isn’t the case. In the early evening I made a short gym visit and – drumroll please – actually did some deadlifting.  I’ve gotten away from doing that exercise, but now that I’m trying to get back into the swing of regular gym going I figure I should be doing either deadlifts or squats (preferably both, but that’s asking a bit too much).  I kept things very light, doing just 4 x 4 x 225.  Not much weight, not many reps, but deadlifts aren’t the kind of exercise you can jump right into without starting slow.

Sunday was a longer workday at the MHIR, 10 to 5:30, and even though it was only two hours longer than Saturday had been it somehow seemed far longer.  It was busier than it had been on Saturday, except in the last hour or so.  In addition to my usual work in the Garden department I also helped out for a while in Lumber and Building Materials.  That’s a bit more difficult for me because I haven’t had nearly as much training, but I managed okay.

Published in: on August 21, 2014 at 2:39 am  Leave a Comment  

Wednesday, August 13 – Friday, August 15

Miracle yoga recovery

After Tuesday’s workplace struggles I was hoping against hope that Wednesday would be easier.  Dealing with another lousy day would be very low on my favorite-things list.  Things ended up, well, sort of in the middle.  It wasn’t a good day, but it wasn’t bad either.  Guess that’s okay.  Just getting into work was a bit of an accomplishment, as torrential morning rains caused flash flooding and many road closures.  I saw a couple cars that had been caught in low spots and almost completely submerged. By the time I left, everything was fine.  My plans to go to the gym got sidetracked by some other things I had to do.

Thursday was definitely a step up, way up, in terms of being an easy day.  It was at the most distant of the worksites on my rotation, about 20 miles to the east, but traffic wasn’t an issue.  Work went very smoothly, none of the snags I’d been encountering, and I was able to leave over an hour before the usual quitting time. 

I decided to go the 8pm hot yoga session on Thursday.  When I had gone on Wednesday of last week I hadn’t done particularly well, with my balance and stamina both lacking.  Not this time. I had one of my better sessions, being able to make it through the 90 minutes without having to rest and with much better balance.  It could be the different instructor this time, or it could be that last week I still hadn’t been physically 100%.

Friday was my one day completely off this week.  It was nice weather, especially in the first part of the day, so I decided to hike for a while in Sans Souci County Park.  It’s flatter and less challenging than the Setauket-Port Jefferson trail but still quite nice.  I occupied myself by identifying the various tree species along the trails (mostly pitch pine, scarlet oak, white oak, and sassafras). Later in the day I went to the gym for bench pressing: 6 x 135, 6 x 185, 4 x 205, 3 x 4 x 225, 8 x 185.


Published in: on August 18, 2014 at 1:58 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, August 11 – Tuesday, August 12

So much for expectations

Monday began a new 2-week cycle at work.  Now, one thing that’s often been a bit troublesome is that the worksite at which I start a cycle also happens to be one of the larger sites with a high volume of work.  It can be troublesome because the first day of a cycle is often somewhat difficult, learning curves and all.  And unnecessary too, as the worksite for the second day of the cycle, when I have a better grasp of what I’m doing, is one of the smallest and easiest. Surely the company could switch them, right?

As you might have guessed, things turned out very different on these two days.  Monday was a pretty easy day despite being the start of the cycle and a bigger worksite.  Tuesday was basically one catastrophe after another, I ended up staying well past my normal quitting time, largely because the site was quite disorganized. If I’d gone there on Monday to start the cycle, it would have been all that much worse.  So I’m glad there was no switch!

I moseyed off to the gym on Monday evening, doing some back work.  It wasn’t a bad session, even though I kept the weights fairly light.  T-bar rows: 8 x 100, 2 x 8 x 115, 8 x 100.  I concentrated really hard on maintaining good form and not bending upward at the top of the rep.  Doing so allows one to hoist more weight but decreases the exercise’s value.  Standing calf machine shrugs: 3 x 10 x 360.  Not much form involved on this exercise, which has a very short range of motion.  Barbell rows: 8 x 135, 2 x 8 x 155.  This is an exercise I haven’t done in months, so I used a light weight. Once again I concentrated on form, keeping a deep forward bend throughout each rep. 

On Tuesday evening we went out for dinner at Cafe Amici, an excellent Italian place that coincidentally is in the same shopping plaza as the Major Home Improvement Retailer.  The food’s always of top quality and reasonably priced, which may be why there was a 20-minute wait on a Tuesday.  For a while I had a low opinion of the restaurant, because back in my days enmeshed in the straight commission life insurance pyramid scam I had gone there soliciting and the manager sent me packing.  I now realize, however, that I was intruding on their business and being unwelcome, trust me when I say that businesses HATE solicitors.  It’s something I can see clearly now but couldn’t see at all back then.

Published in: on August 14, 2014 at 9:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

Thursday, August 7 – Sunday, August 10

The hours went fast

Thursday was another easy day at my regular job, being the second day at a two-day worksite.  In fact it was almost too easy, as by 11 am I had completed all of my assigned duties, but had to stay until 1 before it was okay to leave.  I managed to find various things here and there. Just as I always do.  In the evening, we went to Joe’s Crab Shack in Riverhead for, well, crabs.  While I wouldn’t say that crab is one of my favorite foods, it is really nice to have from time to time.

Friday was a day off from both jobs.  In fact it was the only such day all week. While I had various inchoate thoughts about  things I might do, in the end I decided to take advantage of a day off and not try to accomplish anything at all.  Yes, this lead to my goofing off for a good part of the day, but that’s fine with me.  And it wasn’t a complete do-nothing day, as in the early evening I went to the gym for some bench pressing.  Nothing too heavy, but it went fine:  6 x 135, 6 x 155, 6 x 185, 4 x 205, 3 x 4 x 225, 8 x 185.

Saturday and Sunday were a bit unusual in that I worked an early shift at the Major Home Improvement Retailer both days.  Saturday I did 9 to 2:30, Sunday 8:30 to 4. As far as I can tell this is the earliest I’ve been at the MHIR. Both days were fairly busy with customers, Sunday more so than Saturday, and what was nice is that I got out with plenty of time to do stuff during the rest of the day. In the case of Saturday that meant getting various errands done, while on Sunday it meant not doing too much of anything.

Published in: on August 12, 2014 at 2:49 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, August 4 – Wednesday, August 6

Normalcy, what a wonderful sensation

After having been so sick last week it was a wonderful feeling to get back to something approaching normal.  Just being free of the constant aches and pains that had plagued me was a real joy.  On Monday, I wasn’t 100% back to normal, still being a bit weaker than usual though the aches were gone, but I had no trouble making it through the workday.  Which actually means more than it might seem, as it was a fairly tough workday.  It shouldn’t have been, being the second half of the two-week workcycle when things usually get easier, but a number of unexpected things came up and the volume of work was greater than usual.  I ended up staying a short time beyond my usual quitting time.

Tuesday was slightly easier at work than Monday had been, but was still moderately difficult. Without letting on too much, the best I can say is that the worksite did not prepare for my arrival as they should have, and with the lack of preparatory work on their part it was harder on my part.  I’ve gotten the impression that the management at this particular location doesn’t really welcome my presence, not because they don’t like me as a person but because they don’t appreciate the services I provide.  Fortunately they have no control over my presence, that being a home-office decision, and while at one time I might have cared about what they thought I’m long since past that stage.

Wednesday was the easiest workday of the three by far.  It’s the location where I spend two days instead of one, which means that it’s often a very low-pressure, almost leisurely day.   I was done well over an hour earlier than usual.  Which gave me more than ample time to get into the right frame of mind for – yes! – hot yoga.  Last week had been a complete washout because I’d been sick, but I finally was ready to take the plunge (or, more accurately, roast) once again. It wasn’t easy making it through the session, as I had to lie on the mat and rest a couple of times (as did several other people), and my balance seems to have deteriorated a bit, but all in all I’m very glad I went.

Published in: on August 8, 2014 at 1:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

Thursday, July 31 – Sunday, August 3

Four (mostly) lost days

Wednesday’s suspicions that I had been coming down with the flu were indeed quite accurate.  Or something like the flu, something that caused all sorts of lethargy with almost-constant aches and pains.  Ugh.  I couldn’t do much of anything on Thursday or Friday, venturing out only a few times and only briefly.  Any misgivings I may have had about missing work on Thursday quickly evaporated.  There wasn’t a chance in a million that I could have made it through an hour of work, let alone a whole workday.  My absence probably won’t impair my chances of getting the promotion, at least not to any meaningful degree.  I’ve scarcely ever been out in over two years with the company.

On Saturday morning I was somewhat better, though I wasn’t about to go and compete in a triathlon or anything.  Well actually I was scheduled for a noon – 9pm shift at the Major Home Improvement Retailer, which in my current state was something akin to a mini-triathlon. The first couple hours went okay, but then I started losing strength, fast.  It didn’t help that there was a pretty much nonstop flow of customers.  At my lunch break from 4:30 to 5, I ventured out to a nearby 7-11 and had a cup of watermelon chunks, about the only food that interested me at all.  As soon as I came back I knew that I’d never make it to 9.  By that point it was a struggle to stand upright.  Finally, at 5:45 I threw in the towel, so to speak, and told the manager that I’d have to leave.  She was fine about it and even offered to drive me home if I didn’t feel capable.  It’s not far, and I was able to drive myself okay.

Sunday things were much better.  While I still wasn’t back to normal, I was in good enough shape to get my usual errands done, and in the mid-afternoon we had a family outing to Red Lobster.  I don’t know why everyone seems to rag on Red Lobster.  Everything was quite good and the prices, if not inexpensive, are reasonable.

Published in: on August 5, 2014 at 2:39 am  Leave a Comment