September 1 – 10

New month, new start

All in all, I would have to say that September has gotten off to a pretty decent start. The workload at my main job has gotten pretty heavy, but it’s tolerable and in any way shouldn’t be this way much longer. Basically just a temporary state of affairs. Countering it has been the seasonal decline in hours at the Major Home Improvement Retailer, so I have less of the “worked to death” sensation than I was experiencing a few months ago. Thankfully.

What with my less exhausting schedule, I’ve made a newfound commitment to going to the gym on a regular basis. Something I’ve read, which helps, is to think of each gym trip more as a scheduled appointment and less of a spur of the moment thing. In other words, I plan out the gym trips at least a few days in advance and make time for them, rather than deciding on a day-by-day basis whether to go or not. Too often the latter situation becomes a “not.” I’ve also decided to focus on neutral grip pull-ups, doing them at least twice a week and trying to up my rep count each time. They really are the best back exercise, much more demanding than rows or cable pulldowns or anything else. Once I start making some appreciable progress with them I’ll do a similar session-to-session improvement focus on something else, maybe bench presses.

Saturday the 16th is the semi-annual gun show in my area. I don’t have anything specific in mind, maybe a lever action, but I’ll go to the show with cash in hand – not all dealers accept credit or debit cards – and see if something catches my attention. One bad thing is that if I do end up buying a new firearm I won’t have the chance to take it to the range until the following Friday. Guess I’ll just have to be patient.

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Published in: on September 11, 2017 at 1:16 am  Comments (1)  

August adventures

As in, how I spent the month of August

I just didn’t have the urge for more frequent updates, so consider this a mega-update for the entire month of August.

After months of near-agony my hours at the Major Home Improvement Retailer finally got more reasonable. Sixteen hours a week is fine, 18 even, but those 24- and 28-hour weeks I was doing during the peak season were grinding me down to nothing. Thankfully my schedule will be much better for the next several months. What about next spring? I’ve decided that I’m not going to put up with being worked half to death anymore. Between now and then I’ll have to have a talk with the store manager and let her know that I have my limits. Hopefully she will understand, if not, well, I will have to do some serious thinking about whether I will be able to stay at the job. The money’s helpful, but not vital.

Speaking of work, a rather unexpected development is that the workload at my main job was much heavier than normal during most of August. Leaving early was definitely not an option. Many days, I’d have to stay an hour late even with skipping breaks. Given the lighter schedule at the MHIR this was tolerable, but it wouldn’t have been a few months ago. Fortunately, things at the main job should be getting a bit less hectic soon.

After neglecting it for too long I finally began making my way back to the gym. I’m doing my best to go three times a week, not necessarily the same three days, adding a fourth if possible. I’ve been considering taking up a more formalized routine, with a schedule of exercises, but so far I’ve been on a more ad hoc approach. One thing I have been doing is concentrating on compound exercises rather than isolation work and on free weights as opposed to machines.

The highlight for August was my trip to see the eclipse. I had decided that somewhere in the west would be a good choice because the skies should be clear. After some online investigating I decided that western Wyoming would be ideal, as I was concerned about big traffic jams in more populated areas. I booked a flight on Jet Blue from JFK to Salt Lake City on Sunday, July 20, via a connection in Boston of all places, getting in around 9:30 pm. I’d then pick up a rental car I had reserved from Enterprise and would drive overnight into Wyoming on some less-traveled roads. I then would return to the Salt Lake City airport on Monday evening for an overnight (ugh!) flight back to JFK.

Of course things didn’t work out quite as planned. There were all sorts of delays at JFK, even though the weather was fine, and after waiting around for hours it was obvious I’d miss my Boston connection and wouldn’t make it to Salt Lake City in time.  Fortunately, Jet Blue booked me on a nonstop at no extra cost. It didn’t get to Salt Lake City until  well after midnight, when the Enterprise rental counter – alone of all the rental companies at the airport, go figure – was closed. I was able to rent a Nissan Pathfinder from Dollar, literally the last vehicle they had left.

By this point I was too wiped out to want to drive on secondary roads into the middle of nowhere. Instead I drove north into Idaho on I-15, a route that I had been scared off from by dire traffic predictions, but it wasn’t bad in the middle of the night. I spent a few hours in the car at a rest area and in the early morning drove north to Idaho Falls, which was in the totality zone.

All my travels were well worth it. I watched the eclipse from the riverfront park in Idaho Falls, in the company of thousands of people, and at the risk of sounding trite it really was an otherworldly experience. Definitely worth all the time and money (lots of money, that Nissan Pathfinder rental was NOT cheap). I took some side roads back through Idaho, as post-eclipse traffic on I-15 was rather gnarly. As there was still some time left before I had to get to the airport I had wanted to explore downtown Salt Lake City a bit, but I was just too exhausted. Another time.

Published in: on September 4, 2017 at 9:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

Monday, July 24 – Sunday, July 30

One more week … one more week

You know the feeling. You’re at work, it’s an hour to quitting time, yet that hour passes more slowly than the preceding seven hours. Actually this happens when you’re doing anything that’s less than pleasant and you’re hoping for relief. On a more mega scale, that’s how this week was. As I’ve noted, it was my last week until my work hours at the Major Home Improvement Retailer will drop considerable, and naturally enough time slowed down to an agonizing crawl. All I wanted to do was get my life back, and that goal seemed to get further and further away. It didn’t help that after a few easy work cycles at my main job, this one has gotten really tough. No early departures, that’s for sure. But still, one more week … one more week.

Published in: on August 11, 2017 at 2:38 am  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, July 22 – Sunday, July 23

A reasonably tolerable weekend, all things considered. While I worked full 8-hour shifts at the Major Home Improvement Retailer, they seemed to go more quickly than I expected. Or hoped. I’m not sure exactly why that was the case. My best theory is that customer traffic flow was consistent. Many times, over the course of a shift I’ll have flurries of activity interspersed with a lot of standing around doing nothing. When that happens, the shifts just seem to drag on forever. And the opposite happens when I’m at about the same busyness level over the course of a shift. Of course this is all individual perception, your mileage may vary and all that.

Not much else to report, I was pretty lazy each day when not working. It’s hard to have much motivation after working for eight hours even if the work wasn’t too taxing. Fortunately, as I’ve noted, my MHIR hours will be dropping in another week. That finally will give me the chance to get more accomplished, especially (but not limited to) going to the gym. Can’t hardly wait!

Published in: on August 2, 2017 at 8:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

Friday, July 21

DMV follies

Today was the day. I couldn’t put it off any longer. Yes, I had to pay a visit to the local DMV office and transfer an out-of-state vehicle. While most of my recent DMV visits have been reasonably easy, I knew that this one would take longer because of the more complicated nature of my transaction. What I didn’t know was just how much longer.

Try almost three hours. The vast majority of which was waiting for my number to be called, once I finally made it to a window it took less than ten minutes. As I waited and waited, people around me were griping about the endless wait, as if that would make things move any faster. What I did not know until later was that Fridays are the worst days to go to this office, because the next nearest one is for some strange reason closed on Fridays (Google is no help in figuring out why).  At least I got a snazzy new set of plates for all my waiting …. and for my fee of $198.

Published in: on July 30, 2017 at 12:48 am  Comments (1)  

Tuesday, July 18 – Thursday, July 20

Sameness

All three of these days were as similar as peas in a pod. Each day at my main job was easy, and I didn’t have any scheduled shifts at the Major Home Improvement Retailer. It was a much-desired chance to rest and recover from all the work I’ve been doing. After one more busy week my MHIR schedule will be getting easier with the end of the season. Thankfully. I took advantage of these easy days to make two gym visits, on Tuesday and Thursday. Both went well, nothing earth shattering but nonetheless productive.

My plan is that starting August 1, with my easier work schedule, I’m going to follow – or try to follow, ha ha – a more focused, structured regimen at the gym. In other words I’ll plan out in advance what to do, rather than making spur of the moment decisions upon arrival. This also will entail a weekly schedule. While I generally like flexibility rather than rigid adherence to a schedules, I’ve been thinking that this might be better for me. Less risk of slacking off. True, my work schedule is a big reason why my gym work has been sporadic and unfocused, but it’s certainly not the only reason. Maybe this new approach will help.

Published in: on July 30, 2017 at 12:38 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, July 17

Eleven is not my favorite number

Today was a bad day at both my jobs. What should have been an easy enough day at my main job wasn’t, on account of some unexpected complications. Instead of getting out a bit early, as I had expected, I worked until shortly after normal quitting time. As for the Major Home Improvement Retailer, I had a 5:30 to 11 shift. Not only is that a long shift for a both-jobs day, but I dislike five-and-a-half-hour shifts on principle too. Under company rules you have to get a lunch break if you work six hours, but anything short of that, even 30 minutes short as in my case, mean no lunch.  I really suspect that sort of scheduling is entirely deliberate.

Another thing I didn’t like is that I worked until 11, which is one hour after the store closes. Which meant that for the last hour of my shift I had very little to do. Had there been a freight delivery I could have helped the freight team pack it out, but there hadn’t been one. As you might expect, the last hour passed very, very slowly.

Published in: on July 22, 2017 at 3:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, July 15 – Sunday, July 16

Two full 8-hour shifts at the Major Home Improvement Retailer. Okay, Sunday’s was 7 hours 30 minutes, big deal. What made these shifts tough was not just all the work I did, but the fact that I will be working three out of the next four evenings (Monday, Tuesday and Thursday). By the time all is said and done I will have worked six out of eight days, and that’s not even counting my main job. That’s a lot, and I’m finding that my energy level is diminishing fast. But every dark cloud has a silver lining, or so the expression goes, and in my case it’s that after next week things should be getting much more tolerable as the garden season winds down … assuming it actually does wind down. The sub-season which I call Mulch Season should be almost done, yet people keep buying more and more of the danged stuff.

Needless to say, I did not make it to the gym this weekend, on Saturday I got out of the MHIR early enough for a gym trip but I was way too beat. Once my hours drop I’ll be able to go on a regular basis once more.

Published in: on July 22, 2017 at 2:41 am  Leave a Comment  

Friday, July 14

Not home on the range

It was a dreary wet Friday, and while I usually don’t care much about the weather today was an exception. I had been planning to go to the shooting range, for the first time in too long, but if it even was open it would not have been a pleasant trip, so I didn’t go. Next Friday, for sure. Maybe.

At least the gym is indoors. I went in the mid-afternoon, fairly early for me, and had a decent back session. T-bar rows: 6 x 6 x 110. Hammer Strength high-rows: 6 x 8 x 90/90. I followed with some assorted medicine ball work.

Published in: on July 17, 2017 at 2:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Thursday, July 13

So much for an easy shift

Another decent day to wind down the week at my main job. This really has been a very easy work cycle, I’m hoping that the one that will be starting a week from Monday will be easy too. We’ll see.

It was good that the start of my day was easy, because I had a long shift at the Major Home Improvement Retailer, 4:30 to 10.  It looked at first as if it would be an easy shift, as heavy rains kept most customers away and there were several other people working in the Garden department. Of course this state of affairs didn’t last. Around 7, the worst of the rains having passed (and the temperature having plummeted), the manager on duty decided that me and a couple other workers had to disassemble these now-empty temporary plant racks, consisting of boards laid atop cement blocks. Lots of heavy 10″ x 12′ boards and heavy cement blocks. I won’t quite say it was backbreaking, but it sure wasn’t easy. I was very thankful that the temperature had fallen!

Published in: on July 17, 2017 at 1:57 am  Leave a Comment