Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 single digit midget

Veterans like me know what I’m talking about and fondly recall when they were in this coveted time zone.  

We were known as “short timers” and how short we were depended on how many days remained until our discharge from military service active duty.

The countdown began at different points for different people but you entered the first phase of coveted status when you were a two digit midget.  

Maybe in today’s much-confused political correctness (PC) world in which we live, using the midget word might get us in a heap of trouble with the PC police.

A two digit midget was someone who had less than 100 days remaining until military service discharge.  The number 99 as in 99 days was when we earned our two digit midget medal. 

We were excited upon becoming two digit midgets but yearned for something more coveted that a smaller select group could call rightfully theirs.  We all wanted to be a single digit midget; someone with nine days or less until military service discharge.

Eventually, we got our single digit midget medal and wore it with great pride.  It was brief but sweet glory lasting a whopping nine days.

Fast forward to now. 

Today is the last day of 2013.  I hope it’s been a year in which you’ve been abundantly blessed with good faith, family, fitness, fortune and health.

I hope you’ll continue visiting Pierini Fitness in your internet surfing expeditions where I’ll continue serving a fresh plate of middle-aged man reflections about living and dying, gracefully aging and trying my best to life a good and honest life.

See you next year but until then, join me because today we all get to be a 2013 single digit midget.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Monday, December 30, 2013

Vanity insanity

So from a middle-aged man who looks in a mirror and sees a 16-year-old kid, the statement I’m about to make may seem unbelievable. I like to go “nude” in public.

Wait a minute; it’s not what you think.  Maybe nude isn’t the best word describing what I mean.

What I’m talking about is, besides soap and shampoo and sometimes the shampoo is a bar of soap, there’s nothing I use when preparing to walk the beauty pageant ramp in my goings about the world.  

I’m not “clothed” with cosmetics, fragrances or toiletries used by the vanity elite.

I don’t use hair gel on my hair nor hairspray and its color is the real deal.  Despite constantly-new white and gray hair and whiskers overtaking my former youthful colors, much like crabgrass overtaking a lush green lawn; I have no immediate plans of doing something about it with the assistance of hair coloring products. 

I don’t put moisturizing lotion on my face although my wife constantly tells me I should.  So what if one day my skin looks like a Nevada lizard having lived a long and rough life in the desert elements and blazing hot sun.  Not everyone can be a pretty boy; it’s too much work!

Some might wonder why I take so much pleasure being rough around the edges.  Others might suggest my behavior is a sign of someone who is depressed.  And still others might just sum it up by calling me lazy.  

In a moment of honesty, I’ll side with the latter. 

I’ve always not given a crap about this or that and believe it’s because of a rebel gene with which I was born.  I struggle with all that is identified with mainstream and always have had issues with the pretty boys of the world.    

What’s this all about I ask in a moment of self psychoanalysis?  A quick “I dunno” is my honest reply.   

I’d have to hire a psychologist to figure it out and I’ll be darn if I’m going to spend that kind of money on me.  Better to remains nuts and simple I tell myself.

So I’ll continue going about this vanity-preference world being one of many grungy middle-aged men, albeit a clean one.  I’ll continue my daily shower and shampoo, brush my teeth and put deodorant on to make the world a more pleasant place.  

But besides that, the grunge stays until further notice!

I’ll let the pretty boys do their work while I continue comfortable being like an old raggedy rawhide looking cowboy or villain; you know, like an odd-ball character appearing in an old black and white cowboy or gangster television movie from the 1940’s or 1950’s.

It works for me and, besides, I seldom get asked for spare change from the panhandlers.

And it keeps me sane by keeping me on the safe fringes of a crazy world known for its vanity insanity.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, December 27, 2013

They become wise too

A couple weeks ago while serving as my wife's young and handsome bodyguard and personal driver, I accompanied her when she wanted to do some Christmas shopping.

One store we visited was Hobby Lobby, a store I'd heard of before but never visited.

While standing guard and patiently waiting, I had an opportunity to browse and, for whatever reason, decided to take some photos of wall decoration items catching my attention.

I guess what I liked about their message is that they reminded me of what I need to be doing more.

Like this one:


And this one:


And finally this one:


Actually the last one inspired me to create my own derivative of it that best expresses what I try doing here at Pierini Fitness while serving as the ambassador of all middle-aged men around the world.

"Be so wise that when others read what I write
or listen to what I say, they become wise too."

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Time for a deload

With just a few days remaining this year, I've come to the conclusion my 2013 fitness training is done.  It's time for some rest and relaxation or "deload time" as iron-heads call it.

My final workout was early morning on Christmas Eve and I decided to test my one-rep maximum for the barbell overhead press, one of my favorite strength lifts.

Knowing that I wouldn't match my 2012 accomplishment of 175 lbs. for a single repetition, I felt confident, nonetheless, that I'd knock off a 170 lb. single in what would be my best effort this year.

I didn't feel particularly strong so early this Christmas Eve morning and found my form and ascend explosiveness of having had better days.  Still I was determined and this is what I did with all loads expressed in lbs.
45x3 - 45x3 - singles progression of 95-115-135-145-155-160-165-170 and then a final set of 135x6.
So I got my 170 lb. single and was pleased with my effort.  I did nothing more and called it a day and year.

Now, during my rest and relaxation, I'll map out a 2014 training plan so that I can start the new year with a progressive resistance plan giving me necessary focus with my training.

I don't know where I'm headed in 2014 but right now that's the least of my concerns because it's my time for a deload.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

We wish you a Merry Christmas!

Most middle-aged men like me know today as Christmas Day and we fight to preserve it being known as such in the, now, happy holidays world in which we live.

As ambassador of all middle-aged men around the world, expressing their views about the way life was, the way life is, and the way life should be, please enjoy the following video.



On behalf of all middle-aged men, my prayers and well wishes to you and your family; we wish you a Merry Christmas!

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

O Holy Night

While running around today on Christmas Eve doing this and that, every now and then I'll pause for the cause and remember my dearly departed father who passed away on May 24, 2013.

I miss him very much and am grateful for all the pleasant memories I spent with him, particularly during the last 20 years of his life.  The best way for me to honor his life is by how I live the rest of my life.

Hopefully, I do so whenever I add a new Pierini Fitness blogflection about living and dying, gracefully aging and trying my best living a good and honest life.

So in my father's honor, I share the following song sung by one of his favorite musical artists, the late Perry Como.



Thank you dear Dad for giving me my Catholic faith which I'll cherish this evening, O Holy Night.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Monday, December 23, 2013

The blame game

It may be nothing more than a sliver of what’s overall considered normal healthy behavior so I guess what bothers me, then, is when it’s front and center in my face.

What am I talking about?

I’m glad you asked.I’m talking about another person’s behavior when they're stuck blaming others for their woes.

I call it playing the blame game.

Certainly some misfortunes, perils or unpleasant circumstances we find ourselves in can honestly be attributed to others, but I'm willing to bet most of these “behind-the-8-ball” experiences are from our own doings.  I have no published research studies proving it so it’s just my hunch.

I’m reminded when pointing my finger at someone else there are four other fingers pointing back at me. 

So the way I see it, a blame game dame or blame rude dude who so quickly points a finger at me accusing me of all their woes are not firmly standing on their toes taking responsibility for what they did getting themselves stuck in their woe-me quicksand.

If this sounds a bit harsh I guess it’s expected because having empathy is something I struggle with.  I’m also known to be defensive in my responses to another person’s accusations. 

But life isn’t over; I’m open to learning new things and becoming a more compassionate, empathetic, gentle and kind middle-aged man. 

So to all those who know of my character defects, also know there’s hope and light at the end of your tunnel when looking at me.

I should be able to accept another person blaming me and not be so defensive like a black belt karate person blocking an opponent’s roundhouse kick while positioning for a counter-attack with a powerful reverse punch.

I should be able to do a better job responding with a “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” mindset rather than a lighting-fast dagger-tongue defensive response.

But I don’t and haven’t been able to do this without a struggle.

Honestly, this defensive behavior serves me wrong more than right and get’s me in the doghouse more often than not.

Maybe I’ll get better during the upcoming New Year approaching; maybe it’ll be one of my 2014 New Year resolutions.

If for no other purpose than being a more compassionate, empathetic, gentle and kind middle-aged man, I need to do a better job while on the receiving end of the blame game.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, December 20, 2013

Should I or shouldn’t I?

For every study reporting they’re good for me is another one saying I'm wasting my time and money.  

New naysayer studies made news earlier this week.

The December 2013 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, a mainstream-respected internal medicine journal of the American College of Physicians, includes three articles addressing vitamin and mineral supplementation to prevent chronic diseases.

The journal’s editorialists discuss the articles' findings and their implications for public health and research. They conclude most mineral and vitamin supplements have no clear benefit, might even be harmful in well-nourished adults, and should not be used for chronic disease prevention.

What’s this middle-aged man concerned about his health and wellness supposed to do in light of these new findings?

Should I believe them, load all my vitamins into my car and go for a drive to a nearby bridge where I toss them into swift river waters to a tragic “death” and end their “danger” to me. 

Should I disregard the naysayers because they’ve been wrong before and tell myself their research is skewed and tilted in favor of those interests funding these studies?

This middle-aged man likes his current favorite vitamins even though he may not faithfully ingest them daily? 

We like our vitamins, both old and new ones, and constantly rotate them in and out of our favor as better and new ones come to our attention thanks to slick marketing by companies selling them.  

We like our vitamins as much as druggies like their drugs.  And like the druggies, we like new ones just like Huey Lewis and The News reminded us 30 years ago in one of their most popular songs “I Want A New Drug”.


This dilemma is a fork in this middle-aged man’s road requiring me to challenge my vitamin supplementation status quo.

Should I or shouldn’t I?

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The older I get the better I was

I recently stumbled across this music video and couldn't help taking an immediate liking to it.

I've never listened to this song before because, nowadays, I'm music illiterate with a preference to silence is golden time rather than music blasting in my ears and drowning my thoughts.  

But this one makes me come out of my auditory hibernation because the lyrics resonate many yesteryear young-man memories while ringing an even louder reminder that I'm now a middle-aged man.    



Yup, Big Joe Shelton got it right; the older I get the better I was.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A high school dropout

Family members know but I’m not sure others do including many who attended high school with me.  

This makes it a secret, I suppose, although not because of any covert action on my part.   

Unlike a competitive game of poker, I’ve never kept my playing cards close to my chest about this little secret.

So it may come as a surprise to those who think they know me.  I’m an official high school dropout; yup, that’s me. 

I became an official high school dropout when I joined the U.S. Army 41 years ago today.

I did get a GED certificate while in the Army but let’s be real; we know a GED is not the real deal. 

A GED certificate is to a real high school diploma what watching a European travel television program is to actually traveling and seeing the Eiffel Tower or Roman Coliseum.  There’s no comparison any which way you look at it.

The GED (General Educational Development) tests are a group of five subject tests which, when passed, certify that the test taker has American and Canadian high-school level academic skills.  These tests measure proficiency in science, mathematics, social studies, reading and writing.

I took this test when I was age 18 so I suppose my knowledge then was equivalent to what I would have known had I actually graduated from high school. 

I must confess, I’m not so sure I could pass these tests today!

Every now and then, I toy with the idea of going back to high school and getting a real high school diploma.

In a moment of rigorous honesty I confess how I’m too lazy at this point in my life.  Yet the idea is definitely consistent with my perpetual message as ambassador of all middle-aged men of the world:

“Every man who looks in a mirror  sees a 16-year-old kid!”

But in some fairness to me, I did redeem myself after Army military service by completing both a bachelors and masters degree in the knowledge I now use in my profession.

So there you have it sports fans - Pierini is a high school dropout.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Middle-aged man fashion passion

There came a point in this middle-aged man’s life when he lost zeal being a suit and tie attire kind of guy.  I’m not sure when that point came but know it was some time ago. 

I’d say in general, men’s attire is more relaxed that years ago but that depends on whether you’re a big city or small town person, what your business or profession is and who your customers are.

Mine is a business where the expectation is I wear a business suit and tie but many who do what I do don’t.

I remember my olden young days when hanging in my bedroom closet were several business suits and ties.  Then, I was qualified to be a spokesman for George Zimmer’s Men’s Warehouse, a men’s clothing store; I guarantee it!

My business suit and tie journey began during a period known as the 3-piece suit era.  In addition to matching slacks and a coat, a button-up vest was the third piece. 

There was a 4-piece era the generation before me with a business hat being the fourth piece.  I missed out on that action but vintage black and white photos of that generation give me clues what it must have been like.

With God’s blessing, hopefully there’s more ahead in my business life and which way my business dress attire heads is anyone’s guess.  I have an open mind and sometimes wonder if I should retire my jeans and sport’s T-shirt casual “off-season” business attire for something more debonair and dapper.

I always rationalize my casual attire by arguing that the fashion ramp I walk is while wearing knowledge attire – my technical knowledge and an ability to express it to those willing to pay me for it.  In that regard, I’m always “dressed” for success.

Still, I’m sure many would like to see me prettied up occasionally, looking like a man model gracing the cover of GQ magazine.  This image is within my striking distance with a new and substantial investment in the latest middle-aged man business attire.

Maybe I need to quit being a hypocrite and dress like how I appear in my business card photo. 

Yes, maybe one day soon a fire will be ignited and I’ll be afflicted with middle-aged man fashion passion.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Monday, December 16, 2013

Loaded gun pointed at my head

So we’re all having a great time this Christmas 2013 with festivities centered on plentiful food and drink both at home and work.

We'll add pounds to bathroom scale readings and girth to laps while sampling an endless assortment of yuletide gastronomical delights.

We’ll savor and “scarf” them down in lighting-speed repetition much like doing a high-intensity interval training workout at the gym.  In these mania moments, we’ll seldom allow hunger to a factor in our consumption decisions.

But it comes at a price as I was recently reminded when reading a news article on the internet.  In my part of the world, Californians typically weigh about 10 pounds more today than they did fifteen years ago, according to the latest federal data.

California adult men weigh, on average, nine pounds more than they did fifteen years earlier while women weight ten pound more. I’ve contributed to this golden state communal average weight spike.

But in a moment of serious middle-aged man denial of my truth, I’ll try my best selling you that mine is due to muscle gain from strength training.  It makes me feel good while grabbing another Santa Claus cookie.

After all, what’s a person like me supposed to do when a friend or family member brings me more food and drink to ingest with an order to eat or else?  

It’s so hard saying no to their ultimatum while they have me handcuffed with a loaded gun pointed at my head.    

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Gym

I’m one of those fitness dudes who has discovered through trial and error of having a preference belonging to a gym for my strength and conditioning training.

I’ve done the backyard, basement and garage thing closer to home and, while I admit it’s possible to get and stay in tip-top shape training in those confines, I like to take a hike and go to the gym.

Maybe because going there is more than just a fitness training battlefield for me in my middle-aged man war against the perils of aging.  Maybe I get something out of it socially, much like a person who goes to a golf course or bowling alley to play their game with others.

Not that I’m a drama king social butterfly while there but I do have several chums who I look forward to seeing and engaging with them in exchanges of courtesies like wise-guy comments and one-liners while trying to be the gym clown.

Maybe a reason I like going to my gym is because I spend much time in my work alone and thirst for social interaction.  After all, going to a gym beats going to a stinking bar.

Whatever the reason, it doesn’t matter because I do my fitness training at a gym.  I have 24-hour access to mine.  No it’s not one of them 24 Hour Fitness meat market gyms that are always crowded like a busy New York City street in downtown Manhattan. 

Mine is a real gym with barbells and dumbbells (and lots of them) and people capable of loading them up with heavy weights and lifting them high and low. 

There’s much to be learned watching the serious ones do their thing.  Hopefully, some of them learn a thing or two watching me do my thing.

So my gym is rightfully named The Gym; it’s a name very easy to remember.

Whether in the middle of day, after work or on a Saturday afternoon, when I need to tame my beast, I’ll grab my gym bag and head to The Gym.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Grouchy old man in training

I’m generally known to myself as a good-natured person, at peace with himself, comfortable within his skin, oftentimes willing to go with the flow, a bit loud and rough around the edges but, for the most part, likeable more often than not.

It’s always interesting to compare this self-assessment with what others think of me – better known as the truth.

And maybe that truth is I’m really a grouchy old man in training.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Now I’m here

Last week I read a troubling news article about the National Security Agency (NSA).  

It's gathering nearly five billion records a day on the whereabouts of cell phones around the world.

Thanks to the NSA's effort, our federal government is able to track our movements and map their relationships in ways never before possible.  

The NSA's website describes itself as being home to America's codemakers and codebreakers by providing timely information to U.S. decision makers and military leaders for more than half a century.

Does this mean some dang 4-star Army general in the Pentagon wants to know about the last pizza I bought while on the go?

Our privacy continues to be invaded thanks to our federal government's efforts like this but, also quite honestly, because of our doings as well.  Many of us are open books and this includes me.

Some of us worry to near death about this privacy invasion and others - like me - don't give a darn.

Well I want to make their job easier and share this:  Earlier today I was there but now I’m here. 

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

My barbell overhead press journey

The barbell overhead press from the rack continues to be one of my favorite strength training lifts.  

I’ve been working hard the past couple months trying to reclaim my one-rep maximum achieved in late 2012.  I’m about 10 pounds from being there but believe it will be a long journey for me to close the gap on those 10 pounds.

My best performance with this lift was a four month training period starting last September 2012.  In general, I performed this lift once a week but sometimes I snuck in a second weekly go at it.

I have a particular training progression cadence I like to follow but sharing its details will make this blogflection too long for my liking.  Maybe I’ll share on another day.

Here’s a recap of the last four months of my 2012 training chasing my one-rep maximum for this lift.  Note that I only include my working sets.  I generally did a singles progression ramp starting with a 45-lb. Olympic bar and increasing the load until getting to my working weight sets.   

My training load generally remained the same for my working sets but sometimes I varied it depending on how I felt.  All loads below are in pounds.

9/3/2012 - 135x5 - 135x5 - 135x5

9/10/2012 – 140x4 – 140x4 – 140x4

9/15/2012 – 150x3 – 150x3 – 150x3

9/17/2012 – 135x4 – felt tired

9/24/2012 – 155x2 – 155x2 – 155x2

10/1/2012 – singles progression of 95 - 115 - 135 - 145 - 155 - 165 - 170PR

10/4/2012 - 70% of one-rep max test – 120x11

10/9/2012 - 155x2 - 155x2 - 155x2 - 145x3 - 145x3 - 135x3

10/14/2012 - 155x2 - 155x2 - 155x2 - 135x5 - 135x5 - 135x5

10/22/2012 - 155x2 - 155x1

10/25/2012 - singles of 95-115-135-145-155-165-175PR

10/29/2012 - singles of 95-105-115 and 135x5 - 135x5 - 135x5

11/4/2012 - singles of 95-105-115 and 140x5 - 140x5 - 140x5

11/12/2012 - singles of 95-115-135 - 145x5 - 145x5 - 145x5

11/20/2012 - singles of 115-125-135 - 150x4 - 150x4 - 150x4 - 150x4

11/24/2012 - singles of 95-115-135-145-155-165-175FAIL-175FAIL- 135x9

11/29/2012 - 45x5 - singles of 95-115-135 - 150x4 - 150x3 - 150x3 - 135x6

12/4/2012 - singles of 95-115-135-145-155-165-170- 175-180FAIL - ties 175 PR

12/10/2012 - singles of 95-105-135 - 150x3 - 155x3 - 160x2 - 135x8

12/17/2012 - singles of 95-105-135 - 150x5 - 150x5 - 150x5 - felt strong!

12/21/2012 - singles of 95-115 - 135x10

12/24/2012 - singles of 95-105-135 - 155x4 - 155x4 - 155x3 - 135x9

While I continued with barbell overhead press work in my 2013 training, I relaxed my pursuit of heavier loads while experimenting with other lifts and workouts.  My upward flight hit a brick wall while chasing 180 lbs.

So now I’m at it again having fun and finding this historical training information of great value.

I’ll finish 2013 and begin the new 2014 year having fun while heading back north in my barbell overhead press journey.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Monday, December 9, 2013

Always rated G

There are as many bloggers under the sun as seconds in a day and probably more.  

Yet they’re unique as a two dollar bill with writing styles frequently admired, fun to read and oftentimes loaded with cleverness and wit.

It’s my genuine hope I’m somewhere in the middle, at best, of this elite and open-book cast of cyberspace characters.

There’s a group of them, however, who like sprinkling profanity - like F-words - in their compositions.  I’m not one of them.

In fact, I’ve never been a big user of the F-word although I’m fluent and do understand traditional and modern cuss words.  Shouting them in either oral or written form has just never been my cup of tea.

Since I’m human with emotions and feelings, in a moment of weakness I could succumb to barfing something later regretted but those occasions are with spoken rather than written words.

Instead I prefer clever phrases, figures of speech, idioms, metaphors, similes and the like in my expressions.

So know when you stop by for a cyberspace visit, it’ll always be safe for you and your young children or grandchildren if they happen to be sitting on your lap glancing at your computer screen while you read and enjoy my latest Pierini Fitness blogflection.     

What you’ll always find here is golden and wholesome content of a middle-aged man variety; maybe never quite Mary Poppins-like, but nonetheless always rated G.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, December 6, 2013

Playing with a KB again

Years ago when I belonged to a different gym, it had an awesome kettlebell (KB) collection and I sporadically used them as cardiovascular conditioning tools at the end of my workouts.

My current gym never had them until recently when one of the trainers brought in his private collection.  Judging by the weights in his collection, they’re likely used by his women and novice clients.  

His latest addition, however, is a single one weighing 35 pounds which I consider my minimum load for a good anaerobic conditioning workout.  I’ve been using it lately.    

In my current two steps forward and one step back tip top anaerobic conditioning journey, right now I’m more in a one step back existence.  This proves once again that, as an advancing middle-aged man, I’m only good as my last workout.

So I’ve decided to use this 35-lb. KB for short-duration and high intensity anaerobic conditioning at the end of my workouts.  This is how I like to train nowadays rather than the long-winded stuff from my yesteryear training past.

My latest KB complex consists of the following, performed non-stop, which is one round when completed:

(1)    right-hand hang power snatch x 10 plus

(2)    two-handed swing x 10 plus

(3)    left-hand hang power snatch x 10 plus

(4)    two-hand swing x 10 equals one round

I completed four rounds during my last workout.  My short-term goal is completing ten rounds in less than twenty minutes.

Tip top anaerobic conditioning for me at this point of my life can best be described as "here today and gone tomorrow."  

I intend moving from my current one step back tip top anaerobic conditioning existence to a two steps forward one and I’ll get there playing with a KB again.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Leathered and weathered nowadays

So I continue using my “Charles Atlas business card” which includes a 20-year old photo of me circa 1993.

I was a young buck at age 38 years with a dark moustache when this photo was taken.  There’s a story behind my continuing use of this youthful photo and I share it with anyone willing to listen.

Click here and read the story.

Every now and then I pass out a business card to a stranger who gazes at it in wonderment, probably because of the expectation gap created when they compare the business card photo to what they see when looking at me.

Their wonderment, sometimes with an accompanying drool, makes a great Kodak moment.  I quickly bring them back to a now awareness by telling the Charles Atlas business card story.

Then I have the critics about what I’m doing.  One recent critic was a former co-worker from almost 35 years ago.

He saw my eternally-youthful photo on LinkedIn, the world’s largest internet professional network. and then quickly took it upon himself to send me a private message telling me to get honest and post a real photo of me.

I quickly replied thanking him for doing a good job as a LinkedIn police officer but politely told him to mind his own business.  I also sent him a website link to my Charles Atlas business card story. 

My wife is another one who likes to remind me I need to get honest and use a recent photo rather than my circa 1993 classic.  She also reminds me how I don’t wear a business suit anymore so my business card photo should be of me wearing my casual attire that has become my business uniform du jour nowadays.

No is my quick reply to her pleas.

Finally, a person I know in cyberspace recently send me a message sharing how he saw me and my photo on LinkedIn.  He gave me a compliment of “pretty good photo” or something like that.

I explained to him, as I’ve done with others, that the photo is me 20 years ago and sent him the Charles Atlas business card story. 

While I always blow my trumpet in jest how this middle-aged man sees a 16-year-old kid when looking in a mirror, I privately acknowledge that I’m a little more leathered and weathered nowadays. 

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A time to relax

With 2013 in its eleventh hour, I’m spending this month reminiscing and reflecting about this year of my life. It’ll be known in my history book as a year of many challenges and tears. 

Of the many challenges and tears this year, watching my father die a horrific and painful death is one leaving me lasting impressions and reflections for years to come.  There are many others, but this one I acknowledge in a sharing cyber-moment.

I’ll spend the rest of this month pondering many of this year's episodes in my 2013 book of life.  Much is currently stored in my mind’s eye but what’s there eventually will be expressed with verbal and written words assembled into a finished product best described as true biographical short stories.    

These stories will then be shared with both familiar faces and also an unknown cyberspace audience sharing a common trait with the familiar faces - curious and willing to listen and read.  There will be wisdom in each story meant to be shared with "the world" and not hoarded by my private and selfish self. 

There's wisdom to be shared about living and dying, gracefully aging and trying my best to live a good and honest life.   It’s my duty to share and instruct if I’m to continue walking and talking as the self-appointed ambassador of middle-aged men around the world.

It’s a duty I’ll answer and, of which, I have no doubt of my ability to deliver.

But right now, it’s time for me continuing to wind down my year while harboring no urgent agenda requiring me to do this or that in the few remaining days of 2013.

It’s, for me, a time to relax.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

No right to rain on my parade

One day almost seventeen years ago in a city in Turkey I can’t remember, my wife and I stood in line with other tourists and our Turkish tour guide waiting for admission to a museum.  

Our line was long and moving so slowly, as was another line of other tourists also waiting to get inside.    

All of a sudden, there was a harsh exchange of words between our tour guide and the other group’s tour guide.  This confrontation took place in French because that was the language spoken by the other tour guide and, fortunately, our tour guide spoke it too. We all stood and watched the action while continuing our wait.

It ended quickly as it started with our Turkish tour guide remaining calm and collected during his brief ordeal.  His feathers never got ruffled during this heated verbal exchange and he remained ever so polite to his verbal combatant who he constantly referred to as “Madame”.

Sensing our curiosity of what transpired, our tour guide summarily described it as an exchange of courtesies with his French lady counterpart.  

He also shared that these French outbursts are not to be taken seriously because “the French spend the first thirty minutes of their day hating themselves and then the rest of their day hating the rest of the world.”

We all laughed at his wit while continuing our wait. 

Five years later my wife and I had our first opportunity visiting France.  We wondered if all the stories we had heard about the French being rude to Americans were true.  After all, we had somewhat of a taint from this “French versus Turkish match” five years earlier.  

Much to our pleasure, we had wonderful experiences as American tourists in both the small towns and bigger cities visited.

Yet closer to home, every once in a while I cross paths with an unpleasant person who may try his or her best to put me on the receiving end of their misery.  

As a calloused middle-aged man in my own right, I’m able to dodge their anger bullets and remain unscathed.  Nonetheless, it’s no fun being in the path of someone else’s anger.

Sometimes these people seem so angry and miserable that I’ll ask myself a rhetorical question of whether they “had a bowl of shit for breakfast.”

Being in the company of angry and self-defeating people is no fun.  They are their own worst enemy and if I’m not on constant guard, some of them can easily rub off on me.

Everyone is entitled to be as miserable as they want to be and this I must accept.  They’re entitled to rain on their parade all day long but they have no right to rain on my parade.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Monday, December 2, 2013

Drive down memory lane

Last Saturday evening my wife and I took a drive down memory lane to a neighborhood in a nearby city where we lived 24 years ago.  

We drove past the home where we lived when we, and our children, were ever so young.  Twenty-four years is so long ago but my memories of this time are eternally youthful. 

The neighborhood landscaping has matured so nicely from when we lived there when this neighborhood was also so young.  All the homes I remember from long ago are still here but I’m sure most have new owners.

Our visit had as its purpose to pass time before attending a theatre play.  We had plenty of time to pass and this gave us an opportunity to slowly drive through our old neighborhood immersing ourselves in many pleasant memories.  Eventually, many deeply-embedded memories began to surface.

These memories included my daughter sitting on the front porch of our home, my son walking home from elementary school with his friends, and neighbors going to and from their homes.  At times, they seemed so surreal.    

Meandering in our car ever so slowly, like senior citizens driving to a bank to deposit a Social Security check, we listened to a Gene Autry Christmas song – Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer - playing on the radio.  We used to listen to this song over and over during Christmas season when driving in the neighborhood with little daughter and son in our car so long, long ago.

Well little daughter and son ever so close to mom and dad then are now big adult daughter and son living far away from us and these memories.  They’re busy creating their own memories and are now both older than my wife and I when we first moved to our old neighborhood.    

These wonderful yesteryear memories will always be mine to cherish and, as time goes by, will continue bringing me much reflective joy every time my wife and I chose to take an old neighborhood drive down memory lane.


Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Not buying anything

I’ve learned we have the famous city of brotherly love to thank for giving us the shopping day name Americans know as “Black Friday”. 

This day one of Christmas shopping season, early retail store openings, bargains-galore prices and much glitz and hype is a day for which many Americans patiently waited.  They wasted not a single shopping moment when Black Friday 2013 finally arrived yesterday. 

Supposedly, the name Black Friday originated in Philadelphia over fifty years ago to describe heavy and disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic occurring the day after Thanksgiving.

For many Americans, this traffic now takes place in large indoor shopping malls providing a comfortable shopping experience with protection from outdoor pre-winter cold weather and vehicle pollution that yesteryear shoppers painstakingly endured.

Now, the day after, Black Friday 2013 has come and gone but many Americans are at in again for day two.  

Others are exhausted from their marathon shopping day and are choosing, instead, to relax and give witness to us non-Black Friday believers about their previous day shopping-mania experience.  They like to overwhelm us with detailed accounts of the great deals they begot. 

Women, in particular, like to engage their husbands in a friendly aftermath game of “Guess How Much?”  This is a game where wives showcase their great bargains while husbands are supposed to guess how much it cost. 

Sometimes if the bargain is clothing, wives will don it and walk the fashion ramp during the guessing game.  In their sharing excitement and glee, they’ll often flash a giant smile so blindingly bright that husbands can barely view the bargain.       

For us men, it’s a delicate and volatile experience because if we don’t want to play, it’ll get us in the doghouse.

If we guess too high, it’ll offend our wives’ shopping skills and get us in the doghouse. 

If we guess too low, we’re accused of not being interested and, that too, will get us in the doghouse.

This show and tell ordeal, besides competing with our manly desires to relax and be silent, is living proof of married life challenges.  It’s a “heads I lose and tails I lose too” phenomenon.

Well another Black Friday has come and gone and that’s fine with me.  To all those bargain shoppers stewing in their juices and basking in their glory about all the money they saved, guess what? – I did better. 

Tell me all day long about the fifty percent you saved and then let me tell you about the one hundred percent I saved by not buying anything.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, November 29, 2013

Fit, strong and well as possible

On Thanksgiving Eve, I made a rare guest appearance at a popular shopping mall looking for a warm long-sleeve shirt which I never bought.

I also wasted time meandering the mall’s vibrant “retailscape” dotted with shoppers out and about doing both real and window shopping.  Eventually, I found my way to a Barns & Noble bookstore, a place that used to be my “public library”.

“Wow” I privately thought upon learning it was still there, bursting at its seams with books galore and a modest count of shoppers inside.  I guess people still buy real books but I can’t imagine all the books there will eventually find a home with a buying reader.  

“Where do these books go when nobody buys them?” I thought to myself.

Quickly walking down aisle after aisle surveying my window shopping choices, I eventually found my way to diet books.  I was curious about the current flavors of this subject.  What I found was a selection so vast that I wouldn’t know where to begin if buying a diet book was my goal.

Many of these books had an attractive, smiling and young woman on the cover with titles likely to get the attention of females. There’s a reason for this, I thought, because women probably buy more diet books than men. 

Several of the diet books targeting men had titles and book cover images catering to our unique “macho-syncrasies” and some promoted a Paleolithic (Paleo) diet which is so popular nowadays. 

This diet is also called the caveman diet, Stone Age diet and hunter-gatherer diet with its "meat-centric" message appealing to our manly testosterone-laced steak and bacon hunger appetites.

Later, in trying to confirm my hypothesis that women buy more diet books than men, I was unable finding an American statistic supporting it but discovered women buy two-thirds of diet books sold in Great Britain.

I learned men and women diet and lose weight differently with men preferring diets offering a simple message such as “eat this and avoid that.”  Women, on the other hand, want to know more about the ins and outs of nutrition science.

I also learned men tend to lose weight more quickly and find it easier sticking to a diet than women.  They prefer looking at their journey as “getting in shape” while women are more likely to share they are dieting.

Male pride doesn’t allow us men to freely make an announcement to the world that we are on a diet.  That’s a tad too submissive for us. 

All this diet stuff overwhelms me so buying a diet book isn't on my buying short list this Christmas season.   I’ll stick to my own way of doing it which focuses not so much on what I eat but when and how much I eat. 

When I’m on task, I eat little as possible yet enough fueling me to be as fit, strong and well as possible.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum