Monday, January 30 – Thursday, February 2


This was most assuredly not an easy week. I was back to my “regular” work at my main job, the special project being finished, and naturally enough this new cycle is a tough one. No finishing up early, each day I had to work 7 to 2:30 with only a couple short breaks. In fact, I wan’t able to finish everything, which means that sometime in the next couple of months, when I’ll hopefully have an easier cycle, I’ll have to do this unfinished work in addition to the normally scheduled stuff.

Staying late would have obviated the need to play catch-up in the near future, but it wasn’t an option because I had to work 4:30 to 9 each day at the Major Home Improvement Retailer wrangling shopping carts in the lot. The employee who does the lot on weekdays is on vacation, so I was the substitute called into action. This was both a good thing and a bad thing. On the bad side, the work was physically tough and left me really beat. Not to mention that working four evenings in a row after full days at my main job is going to be challenging under any circumstances. On the positive side, I got 18 hours for the week, up from four hours the previous week, and I’m glad I wasn’t in garden because that would have involved all sorts of product movement in preparation for an upcoming spring reset. Still, it was hard enough, and my hopes of making one or two late gym visits got precisely nowhere.

Published in: on February 6, 2017 at 2:27 am  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, January 28 – Sunday, January 29

This was close to being a full weekend off for me. I wasn’t scheduled at the Major Home Improvement Retailer on Saturday and had only a 4-hour shift on Monday. This made a total of four hours for the week, which is the least than can be scheduled at all and is something that’s happened only once or twice to me. But that’s okay, because next week sure isn’t going to be easy. I took advantage of the lull to visit the gym both days. On Saturday, I was able to do 5 x 6 of bodyweight dips, if everything goes well I should be able to start adding weight soon. Cool. I’m also making progress with one-arm dumbbell rows, having gotten up to 5 x 8 with 85-pounders.

Published in: on February 6, 2017 at 2:18 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, January 23 – Friday, January 27

Off to the Sunshine State

It turned out that postponing my departure to Florida hadn’t been necessary at all. There had been supposed to be near- hurricane force winds and heavy rains on Monday, but by what would have been my flight’s departure at 11am it was just slightly breezy with light rain. It was okay, there had been no charge for changing the date and I was able to get in another gym trip. Just some light machine work this time. One thing I found out that a new powder-form supplement I’m taking, Optimal Nutrition Amino Power in green apple flavor, forms one of the most delicious tastes I’ve ever had when mixed with Vitamin Water Zero lemonade flavor.  The things you learn …

Flying down on Tuesday was easy enough. I took Southwest Airlines from Long Island MacArthur, nice and convenient to me, and flew to Baltimore, then made an easy connection to West Palm Beach. Both flights were fairly full, I had a middle seat  each time, but I didn’t mind much. I read pretty much all of the in-flight magazine, and was quite amused by an “advertorial” for a baseball cap lined with laser diodes that’s a miracle cure for hair loss. All for the low low price of $799! Once I got to West Palm Beach there was a rather unpleasantly long wait at the Dollar Rent-a-Car counter thanks to a couple of rather cantankerous customers ahead of me, but given that I paid less than $80 for a 4-day rental I can’t complain too much. The car I got was a 2016 Volkswagen Jetta, which was really nice, and which had a very powerful turbo engine.

My four days in Florida were, truth to tell, a bit on the dull side. It took less time than anticipated to take care of the business matters that prompted my trip, and I don’t really know anyone down there. Not to mention that my only online access was using my phone via 4G. The highlight was on Wednesday, when I drove about 90 minutes to South Beach, an area I’ve heard a lot about but never saw. My opinion is that the Art Deco architecture is very impressive, but the traffic is miserable. Glad I went, though.

Getting back on Friday evening was a bit of a challenge. My flight from West Palm Beach to Baltimore was delayed almost an hour by mechanical issues, which meant that I’d be cutting it very, very close for my connection to Long Island. Which was of course the last connecting flight of the day. Fortunately, Southwest held connecting flights in Baltimore long enough for people to make them. I was the last person onto my flight, but made it back right on time.

Published in: on February 6, 2017 at 1:53 am  Leave a Comment  

Friday, January 20 – Sunday, January 22


It was a relatively quiet weekend before my upcoming trip to Florida. Friday was mainly a do-nothing day, except for a pretty decent gym trip. I’ve decided to go with dips rather than bench presses as my main upper-body exercise, somehow they just feel more effective, and managed a quite respectable 5 x 5. I’m still doing them at just bodyweight, once I get up to doing multiple sets of 8 I will consider adding weight with the dip belt. For now, though,bodyweight will suffice.

Saturday and Sunday both had 4-hour shifts at the Major Home Improvement Retailer. Although these are the winter doldrums, I was moderately busy both shifts as I was alone in the department. I suspect that during the upcoming busy season in the garden department I may not have quite as many hours as I did last year. The usual rule in the store is that each department has two full-time workers, one of whom is the department head, with the rest of the staffing being comprised of part-timers. Because garden is the largest and busiest department there are normally three full-timers. This year, however, there are four full-timers, which would mean fewer hours for part-timers like me. I actually can’t complain too much, as last spring’s 24- and 26-hour weeks were a real burden. If I drop down to an average of 16 or 20 it’ll be fine.

As I worked fairly early in the day on Sunday I made another gym trip. This time I did back work, for which one-arm dumbbell rows have become my go-to exercise. They seem to hit my muscles better than barbell or T-bar rows, and (unfortunately) I just can’t do enough reps on pull-ups to make that exercise worthwhile. Also on Sunday, I changed my Florida flight from Monday to Tuesday on account of stormy weather forecast for Monday. It really doesn’t matter, I’m going there to take care of some real estate issues and one less day won’t make a difference.

Published in: on February 6, 2017 at 1:26 am  Comments (1)  

Monday, January 16 – Thursday, January 19

Break from the usual

I spent these days working on a special project at my main job. It was quite different from my usual activities, in fact I haven’t done work of this nature in at least two years. Adding to the difference was that on Wednesday and Thursday I worked at a site where I’ve never been before. That made things a bit more interesting than usual, even though I was at a familiar location on Monday and Tuesday. Whether I’d like to do this sort of work on a regular basis, I’m not so sure, maybe I’m just accustomed to a routine, but it made for a nice break. Especially after those two tough weeks.

Thursday was my only Major Home Improvement Retailer shift, and there wasn’t much to note about it. Monday and Wednesday evenings were gym trips, and while I’m not trying to set the world on fire or anything I was pleased with how I’m doing.

Published in: on January 30, 2017 at 3:21 am  Leave a Comment  

Friday, January 13 – Sunday, January 15

It was a lucky Friday the 13th, not in the sense that anything of note happened (nothing did), just that unlike the previous Friday it was an actual day off. Believe me, after that brutal two-week cycle at my main job, the day off was highly appreciated. Other than going to the gym, I didn’t do much.

Saturday was a 6-hour shift at the Major Home Improvement Retailer, and for the most part it was pretty quiet. Things will stay that way in Garden for a couple more months, until the spring gardening season picks up again. Hey, I’ll enjoy the leisure while it lasts. Sunday was a rare weekend day off for me, and I took advantage of the break by making a lengthy gym trip. Things are going well there, with what seems to be reasonable progress.

Published in: on January 30, 2017 at 3:01 am  Leave a Comment  

Tuesday, January 3 – Thursday, January 12

Back to work with a bang!

Well that’s an example of not easing back into things. After the 3-week break I went back to my main job on Tuesday, hoping that I’d have an easy cycle to get accustomed to the work. After all, the company wouldn’t make me (metaphorically) jump into the deep end, right?

You already know where this is going. I was absolutely bombarded with work, to the point that even with skipped breaks I had to stay at least an hour late most days. I kept asking myself why I was undergoing this trial by fire, and of course coming up with no plausible answers. It’s not that I was being singled out, other people at other work sites were going through the same thing, but that didn’t make it any easier. If there’s any consolation, it’s that I will be doing a special group project for a couple of weeks once this cycle ends, and from what I’ve heard it will be tolerable. And different.

What with the seasonal slowdown I worked only eight hours this period at the Major Home Improvement Retailer, four hours on Saturday the 7th and four hours on Sunday the 8th. Saturday was extremely busy because it was snowing at a pretty good clip. People were rushing in to buy shovels and ice melt and firewood. Best of all, people bought almost all the snowblowers in stock, and they’re big ticket items. Nothing like a good snowfall to drive business. Sunday was quieter but still moderately busy.

Several more gym trips, and I seem to be gradually getting back to where I was before I got lazy. I’m not tracking everything, but one thing I did note is that on Thursday the 12th I was able to get six reps at 225 on bench press, an accomplishment I haven’t done in a year.

Published in: on January 16, 2017 at 3:18 am  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, December 24 – Monday, January 2

As the vacation winds down …

It’s funny how things seem to slow down at the end of the year. Christmas and New Year’s came and went, and my three-week (unpaid) break from my main job neared its end. Traffic seemed to move more slowly, many online sites saw fewer updates, the whole pace of life got a bit poky. I guess that’s normal, and I’ve certainly seen it before, but it just comes off as odd.

Not too much new to report. I worked at the Major Home Improvement Retailer on Christmas Eve, selling the very last Christmas tree of the season late in the afternoon, and on both New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. New Year’s Eve was very quiet, at least in the afternoon when I worked, but New Year’s Day was a totally different story. The store was hopping, even though there weren’t any special sales. One thing I did was help throw unsold Christmas trees down the trash compactor chute, which is a difficult job because they jam up like nobody’s business.

I’ve settled into a routine of going to the gym three times a week. Mostly upper-body stuff, I really have to add more leg work. So far it’s going well.

Published in: on January 16, 2017 at 2:51 am  Leave a Comment  

Friday, December 9 – Friday, December 23

Getting into this vacation groove, slowly

One thing I’ve noticed in past years is that the first two weeks of my three-week break from my main job are generally more enjoyable than the last week. It’s not, as you might imagine, due to distress at my impending return to the workaday world. It’s more a matter of, well, time off is fun at first, but eventually gets a bit tedious. When you’re used to going into work every weekday, or every Monday through Thursday as in my case, it’s quite a change to have too much free time. Put differently, time off from work is rather better in the abstract than in reality.

The first of these weeks was busier than the second. On Friday the 9th we went into Manhattan to do some Christmas shopping at the Union Square holiday bazaar, something I’ve been doing for years. There’s always interesting stuff not found at most stores. Looking at all the stalls and their various offerings is much more enjoyable than the corporate-ized shopping experience. The weekend of the 10th and 11th wasn’t much of a vacation as I worked 8-hour shifts at the Major Home Improvement Retailer each day. Christmas tree sales were in full swing, and I spent most of the time out in the tree lot. Better than dealing with the “Do you have any more in the back room?” lights and ornament shoppers inside. I had a pretty good routine for handling trees and the shifts went by quickly.

During the week of the 12th through the 16th I didn’t work too many hours at the MHIR, just a couple of 4’s in the evening. Fine by me, I didn’t do much of anything, though I finally made it back to the gym. Of course there was a list of errands that I had to do, and of course I ended up postponing most of them. Funny how things work out that way. On the weekend of the 17th and 18th I worked two 6-hour MHIR shifts, the tree business had slowed down but not stopped, and on the evening of Sunday the 18th we had the company Christmas party. Much better food than at the past location, although the room was a bit on the small size for the number of people in attendance. Oh, I actually won a door prize, a $25 gift card to 7-11. Something that’ll definitely get put to good use.

The week of the 19th through the 23rd was very quiet. Other than some last-minute local Christmas shopping, one 4-hour MHIR shift, and more gym visits, the time was devoted to the fine art of doing very little. Just the way I wanted it.

Published in: on December 30, 2016 at 3:08 am  Comments (1)  

Monday, November 28 -Thursday, December 8

The compressed blur

I’ve compressed this time period into one entry because it’s basically just one big blur to me. It was the end of the year at my main job, prior to the 3-week seasonal break, and any hopes that it would have been an easy end soon were dashed on the metaphorical rocks of reality. It’s not that there was a huge amount of work on the schedule, especially for the second week, it’s that I had to play catch-up with tasks that I hadn’t had time to do over the past couple months. None of them were big tasks, they just added up. In truth, they were pretty easy in absolute terms, but as I was in winding-down mode they seemed to loom large. But eventually everything got done, and my much-anticipated break began.

As for the Major Home Improvement Retailer, suffice to say that I was less of a sentiment being and more of a programmed automaton during these two weeks. I did 8-hour shifts on each Saturday and Sunday, and two 5-hour evening shifts each week. Most of the time I was in the tree lot, which fortunately is the sort of work that I can do pretty much by rote. Greet the customers, ask if they want me to turn any trees around so they can get 360 views, trim the bases as requested, tie onto vehicles, rinse and repeat. And repeat. The work can be physically demanding, but I found that time seemed to go fairly fast. Still, there’s no getting around the fact that I worked very long hours these two weeks.

Published in: on December 15, 2016 at 10:02 pm  Leave a Comment