Sunday, December 14, 2014

Will continue to happen

Pierini Fitness is blessed to have Mr. Jim Fritzsche as today’s guest middle-aged man blogger. Jim is a 58-year young middle-aged man friend of the chief executive blogger.  

He's a self-employed CPA in the real world who keeps fit in the gym 2-3 times per week lifting weights along with outdoors cycling on his road bike for 40 plus miles per week (weather permitting). He served as guest blogger here at Pierini Fitness five years ago today and was recently invited back to give another of his middle-aged man home run perspectives.  Enjoy today's read. 

I have two young friends, ages 27 and 20, who live in my neighborhood and are die-hard San Francisco Giants baseball fans.  Back in early July of this year both were very demonstrably “giving up” on the Giants baseball season.  They said (more or less), “The Giants stink!!  They’re not going anywhere!” All while throwing their hands up in the air in frustration and hanging their heads.

I calmly tried to get them to remember that the Giants were only a handful of games out of first place. That the team had many fine players, a great manager and was staying reasonably healthy.  These arguments did not persuade them.  They even refused to watch any more Giants games on television – it was simply too painful.

So what happened?  On the last day of the season the Giants snuck into the playoffs as a wild card team, and then promptly ran the table and were crowned world champions in late October.  Who would have thunk it?!

One of the great benefits of being a middle-aged dude is that my capacity to enjoy some patience has increased over the years.   Don’t get me wrong, it is still a daily battle.  And I still have my moments of annoyance, irritation and touchiness.  But . . . I’m a whole lot more patient than when I was the age of my young friends.

And isn’t that a blessing?!

A year ago in December 2013 I had the good fortune to go on retreat at a local retreat center. We were meditating on the season of Advent – the few weeks that precede Christmas.  The presenter was telling us how Advent is a time of preparation, of patience, of waiting for the goodness of Christ to come into the world.

And then he said - that patiently waiting for good things to happen is a great way to go through life.  That sounded right to me, so I made it a point to try and live that way the next twelve months.  And what happened?  It’s all good!  My life has grown and blossomed in so many ways this year: I have enjoyed a marked increase in my business; my personal life is rebounding after a major family challenge; I'm composing more and better piano pieces than ever before….and the Giants won the World Series.

I have enjoyed all of this and more, just by exercising a little patience.

Now again it is the season of Advent, and I have been on retreat, and am renewing my commitment to live the next year patiently waiting for good things to happen.  And they are happening.  And, I pray, will continue to happen.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

If you enjoyed Jim's guest middle-aged man blogflection today, click this link to read one Jim wrote five years ago today. 
We will all do it together

Merry Christmas 2014 from Pierini Fitness in the language of my ancestors.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

While standing tall

So now I'm within three months of age 60 and a new decade in my life - if I make it!  Wise enough, though, to know that I can be here today and gone tomorrow.

But as of right now, the plan is to be here today and tomorrow so I'm training with that in mind.

Sitting for a living and glued to my computer keyboard while working, aging and other forces known and unknown to me, within my control for the most part, make me on some days wake up feeling like an old rodeo cowboy who has been thrown from a bucking bronco one time too many.

In other words, middle-aged man stiffness is now a force to be reckoned with by me on some days - not all but some.

So I have two choices:  I can sit back and let it happen; looking like a vulture sitting high on a power line hunched forward looking for road kill below, or I can do something about it.  I've chosen the latter over the former.

There are several things I do to keep my body feeling supple and one I'm sharing with you today.  It's a spinal alignment and shoulder flexibility drill I discovered made my spine and shoulders feel good one day when I felt like that old rodeo cowboy mentioned above.  It felt so good after doing it that I decided to make a short video demonstrating it.

Here it is:


Take it for a test drive and if you like it, I suggest a regular dose of it Monday through Friday before your gym workouts and when taking a break at the office if you're one of those poor souls like me who sits for a living.

It'll keep us standing tall and upright and keep our shoulders and entire posterior chain feeling great.

It'll keep us - for the remainder of our middle-aged man journey of life - marching forward while standing tall.  

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Saturday, November 1, 2014

With less than 4 months to go!

Here are a couple short videos of some recent workouts.

This one is an early morning "short on time workout" consisting only of a single set of pullups and bar dips and then a tough cardio closer of Tabata burpees:


The next one is me doing a "beat the clock" kettlebell workout.  The complex is called the Power 5 single kettlebell complex and I learned of it on YouTube channel of Rdella Training where there's lots of good stuff to view and learn from.

I'm relatively new to kettlebell training and have much work to do improving my form.  I'm using a 20 kg Ader kettlebell that I recently purchased.


I'm training for age 60 with less than 4 months to go!

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Happy Birthday Soke Kubota!

Soke Takayuki Kubota
Eighty years ago today, a karate legend was born in Kumamoto, Japan.  

Takayuki Kubota was born on September 20, 1934 and began his martial arts training at age 4 under the direction of his father.  It was the beginning of his long and rigorous training journey that continues to this day.

A young Takayuki Kubota demonstrating his tamawashi prowess to an audience of American professional wrestlers in Japan circa 1961.
He first came to America in 1964 to give a demonstration of his martial arts prowess at Ed Parker’s First Annual International Karate Tournament in Long Beach, California.  Soon thereafter, he permanently relocated his International Karate Association (IKA) to Los Angeles and taught self-defense techniques to the Los Angeles Police Department for several years.  He created his own style of karate naming it Gosoku-ryu (“hard-fast style”) and also created a self-defense tool popularly known as the kubotan.


Black Belt magazine September 1965 cover shows a young
Takayuki Kubota  shattering a 100-lb. ice block with shuto-uke.





I had the pleasure as a teenager to be a member of and train with the Sacramento Chapter of his IKA with Sensei Ron McCausland, an early disciple of Takayuki Kubota.  I remember him when he was in his late 30’s and the look on his face as he carefully watched my performance during rank testing in the early 1970’s.  After testing, he would briefly lead us through a post-test workout session.  I watched in amazement as he moved like a cat on a hot tin roof when demonstrating technique.  There was something different about his karate techniques and movements than what I had seen before. 

During this period, I knew him as “Shihan” which is a Japanese martial arts title for expert or senior instructor.  Later in my training journey, he became known as “Soke” which, among its several meanings, describes a singular leader of a martial art style such as his Gosoku-ryu.

Soke Takayuki Kubota acted the role of a karate master with
Charles Bronson in the movie "The Mechanic" circa 1972.
My training took a long sabbatical when I joined the Army after high school, went to college and began my career but almost twenty years later, I resumed my training under his disciple Sensei Kenny Kuch who taught IKA-style karate classes where I then lived. 

After dusting off my rust and playing some serious catch-up, I had the opportunity to personally test and receive my shodan and nidan belt rankings from Soke Kubota in his Gosoku-ryu karate.  I actually tore my ACL while training at his headquarters dojo that required reconstructive surgery and, after some diligent rehabilitation, jumped back on the saddle and continued with my training.

While I am now a retired martial artist, I have very fond memories of the Gosoku-ryu chapters of my life and am grateful to Soke Takayuki Kubota for the opportunity to be part of his International Karate Association.

So today – as he enters a new decade of his life as a newly-crowned octogenarian - I extend my very best prayers and thoughts that he is enjoying good faith, family, fitness, fortune and health and that a wonderful rest of his life awaits him.  

Happy Birthday Soke Kubota!

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

And fifty cents

One week ago today, I was six months shy of my 60th birthday – the day I became 59 years and 50 cents.  Most people wouldn’t blink an eye about this but this middle-aged man did.  

There’s something about a decade rite of passage that catches my attention in the fitness, health and wellness arena.

I remember ten years ago when I within striking distance of turning age 50.  I was pretty fit at this point in my life or so I thought and sought to validate this with an objective test.  So I chose to self-administer the U.S. Marine Physical Fitness Test on my 50th birthday.  My goal was to score 250 points; a perfect score is 300 points. 

I began the 2005 New Year by training for about six weeks for this test which consisted of pull-ups, Marine abdominal crunches and a timed three-mile run.  To get a perfect score of 300 points, I needed to complete 20 pullups, 100 Marine abdominal crunches and run the three-mile distance in 18 minutes flat.

I took the test on the eve of my 50th birthday – can’t remember why a day early – and completed 17 pullups (85 points), 73 Marine abdominal crunches (73 points), and ran the three-mile distance in 21:30 (79 points) for a total of 237 points.  I missed my 250 point goal by 13 points but was still proud of my effort.  Then I went back to my normal way of training.

The following year, again I began training about six weeks before my birthday and took the test one day after my 51st birthday.  This time I completed 16 pullups (80 points), 73 Marine abdominal crunches (73 points), and ran the three-mile distance in 20:16 (86 points) for a total of 239 points.  Two points better was nice but I still failed to achieve the 250 point goal of my 50th birthday.  Again, then I went back to my normal way of training.

Third time efforts are sometimes the charm and this was my case when I took the test one year later for a third time on my 52nd birthday.  This time I completed 18 pullups (90 points), 77 Marine abdominal crunches (77 points) and ran the three-mile distance in 19:32 (90 points) for a total of 257 points.  I finally got my 250 points that I wanted for my 50th birthday two years earlier.

That was the last time I took the test.

In an act of full disclosure, I must share that all three-mile runs need an asterisk next to the times as they were done on the treadmill at one percent incline which I’ve been told approximates road running.    I’ll take the asterisk with no resistance given.

So fast forward to the present, here I am within six months of striking distance of a new decade in my middle-aged man life.  Honestly, I’m not as fit as I was ten years ago for whatever reason, one of which is that I haven’t trained with the intensity that I did then.

How fit does a middle-aged man need to be?   When compared to my peers, quite frankly it doesn’t take much to excel and be in the 90 percentile plus of my 59-year-old brethren.  When compared to what’s needed to live a good and honest life, I have all the fitness needed and honestly could get by with even less than what I have.

But why should I compare my present fitness to the lowest common denominator? 

While I don’t have to aspire to be the best in the whole-wide world, because all that will really do is give me a big head and bragging rights, there’s nothing wrong with setting my bar a little higher than where it has been lately and maybe that’s what I’ll do.  Set a goal, train hard for it for the next six months and then test to see where I’m at and how I do.  And in the process, I’ll take my fitness to a higher level and maybe within striking distance of where I was ten years ago.

So here I am today pondering what that fitness training and 60th birthday test will be, one week after turning 59 years and 50 cents.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Introducing Pierini Fitness IV

Almost 88 years ago, my father was born and his father - my grandfather - named his son after him with the same first name but a different middle name.    

It was the beginning of a family tradition because almost 30 years later, I was born and my father named me after him with the same first name and middle name.  

The suffix Jr. became part of my name to distinguish my father from me.  Among family and close friends, he was Big Ed and I was little Eddie.  

Fast forward another 25 years to the birth of my son.  It was a no-brainer for me when it came to giving him a name; I didn't even ask for input from others.  I don't recall my wife exerting pressure on me about what name to give our son; it doesn't mean she didn't but merely that I can't recall.

So following a tradition that began 53 years earlier, I "crowned" my son with my first name and middle name like my father did for me.  Again there was one difference with him too having a suffix - this time III - as part of his legal name to distinguish him from his father and grandfather.

Over the next 30 plus years, it seemed like this tradition might have run its course as all indications were that the next generation of Pierini male descendents would bear a different first name in what would be the beginning of a new naming tradition.  I was personally OK with this and more interested in one day being a grandparent rather than the name of my future grandchild.    

One week ago on July 24, 2014, exactly one year and two months of the day my father died, I became a grandfather about four weeks ahead of schedule.  To my surprise, my son asked me to name my new grandson to which I replied that such an honor rightfully belonged to him as it was his turn because I had had my turn.  But he was persistent that he wanted me to have this noble duty.  Again, I hesitated but encouraged my son that I had full confidence in his son-naming abilities. 

After sharing this discussion with my wife, she made me realize that my son's request was genuine and that I should honor it.  After brief reflection, I agreed and had a couple days to discern and make my decision.

Fitness has always been an important part of my life and still is and the same is true for my son.  My deceased father's fitness example cultivated that perspective and lifestyle in me.

In honor and memory of my father, the first name and middle name of my new grandson is a familiar one and his complete name includes the suffix IV.  To my cyberspace fitness brothers from different mothers - introducing Pierini Fitness IV.


Grandpa and grandson on day two of life
Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, June 27, 2014

Long live Tommy Kono then & now



Mention the name Tommy Kono around the world to weightlifters and bodybuilders alike and you’ll get immediate silence and open ears.  You’ll also observe jitters in the crowd in anticipation of what “pearls of wisdom” comes next from this Olympic weightlifting Sensei and Grand Master. 

In 2007, I had an opportunity to interview Mr. Kono. Click the following link to read this interview in its entirety: 



On Father’s Day 2014, I had another golden opportunity to interview this Olympic weightlifting legend.  Most interviews Mr. Kono grants and the ensuing articles written are about his instruction and perspectives of Olympic weightlifting, and the roads he has traveled over a six-decade weightlifting and bodybuilding journey. 

This interview takes a different approach.  I wanted to learn of his octogenarian reflections about living and dying, gracefully aging and trying his best to live a good and honest life; and share them with the world. 

So today, on Tommy Kono’s 84th birthday, pull up a chair, turn off the television, lower the music, tell the wife and children to be quiet, and give your undivided attention to what follows in this exclusive interview.

Pierini Fitness - Mr. Kono, thank you for this opportunity to interview you again.  It’s been seven years since we last did this.  How are you doing today, and what are your dreams and hopes as you approach your 84th year of life?   

Mr. Kono  Everything is going my way.  I’m very comfortable with the way things are going for me.  I’ve had a very full year thus far.  Father’s Day was very good.  My children called me.  My daughter and her family took me out and we had a nice dinner last evening.

People tell me I look good when I tell them how old I am.  My appearance may look good but, honestly, I’m worn out. 

I’m trying to get my personal affairs and belongings better organized than the past so when I pass on everything will be in order. 

Pierini Fitness - At this point in your life, are you still working hard in the gym trying to improve your strength and fitness?

Mr. Kono -  No (laugh) -  you know in the old days when I was young, I worked hard trying to improve my strength and fitness.  Later in life, my focus changed to trying to maintain.  Now my focus is trying to survive. 

Pierini Fitness - I know the last year has been challenging for you with the passing of your two older brothers within two weeks of each other.  What did those experiences teach you about living and dying and how you want to live the rest of your life?

Mr. Kono - I learned a lot from having to take care of my oldest brother.  In five months, I traveled from Hawaii to Sacramento five times to attend to his needs.  It seemed that no sooner than I returned after a trip that I had to go back again.  It wore me out and made me realize how I better get my affairs in better order so that when it’s my turn, my family will have peace of mind that it’s all been arranged and worked out for them.

I also learned that, like my deceased older brother, I have many belongings I need to part with so I’m working on passing them along.  It’s a little more challenging for me than it may have been for him or others because I have so many honors and other special memorabilia that I need to find good homes for rather than just trash.

I also learned from my experiences in caring for my older brother that I need to take care of myself.  With this realization, I recently stepped down from my volunteer duties with the Honolulu Marathon after 41 years; that wasn’t easy for me to do.  They still want me to stay involved with their Board of Directors.  I also recently resigned my leadership duties for the Hawaii Chapter of the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), an organization I’ve been involved with for over 20 years. 

These departures taught me that eventually you need to drop out of things at some time.  In hindsight, it really wasn’t that hard to do.  I’m actually enjoying being more relaxed.  I should have done this long ago.

Pierini Fitness - Anti-aging is a popular term used these days to describe those wellness-oriented things we do to live a better and longer life.  This includes medical approaches such as hormone supplementation, plastic surgery, etc. and non-medical approaches such as diet, exercise and vitamin supplementation.  I prefer using the term gracefully aging rather than anti-aging. 

What pearls of wisdom can you share with us about your gracefully aging journey?

Mr. Kono - I personally think we’re living too long.  You have more problems as you get older.  I’m fortunate that I’ve survived this long.  I never thought I would live this long.

I agree with you; “gracefully aging” is a much better term than “anti-aging”.  The sooner you realize and recognize that you aren’t as young as you used to be then you’ll not be as much of a burden to anyone else. 

Some people are very vain when they are young and beautiful so it may be harder for them as they age and don’t look so young and beautiful.

I personally think aging is easier for men than women.  Women are “penalized” for being beautiful because it’s harder for them as they age when their youth and physical beauty are gone.  Men, on the other hand, can get away looking older than women.

Pierini Fitness - At this point in your life, how easy is it for you living a good and honest life and what does that mean to you?

Mr. Kono - I believe I’ve had lots of great experiences and have met many people in my travels to many foreign countries.

At this point in my life, I’d like to share my life experiences and words of wisdom because I know that once you’re gone, that’s it!  Sadly, many people may look at me as a “relic” because times have changed and some younger people may not understand what I’m talking about.  It’s hard to communicate with the younger generation.  I realize that I can’t force myself on people.

Pierini Fitness - You’ve written two books that have been well-received by the Olympic weightlifting community.  Might there be another book or other projects in the future? 

Mr. Kono - I have a couple of ideas.  One is to write a small booklet about how to serve as an Olympic weightlifting coach to world class and Olympic-caliber athletes.  The other is a small booklet about my life experiences and reflections because I believe I’ve lived an unusual life.

Pierini Fitness - One day we’ll sadly read Tommy Kono’s obituary.  Besides the obvious, what little trivia jewel about your life would you hope is included for the benefit of future generations of American Olympic weightlifters? 

Mr. Kono – It’s better to give than to receive so whatever I have to share, I know someone will appreciate it.  The other trivia jewels are in my books.

Pierini Fitness - What final words of wisdom do you have today for all the wise men listening?

Mr. Kono - People don’t want to be pushed but rather led.  If you push them too hard, they won’t do it.  That’s why eastern European Olympic weightlifting training methods have not worked in America.

Pierini Fitness - I thank you Mr. Kono, for being my friend and allowing Pierini Fitness to interview you.  I extend my prayers and best wishes to you and your family that the 84th year of your life brings you an abundance of good faith, family, fitness, fortune and health. So long as you live, when Tommy Kono speaks, wise men listen.

Long live Tommy Kono then & now.

Pax  Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, April 11, 2014

My middle-aged journey comes to an end


Today at Pierini Fitness, we are graced to have a guest blogger. He's a good friend and a former business partner who I''ll introduce to you in cyberspace by his last name of Clark.  What follows is his blogflection and your daily food for thought.

Guest blogger Mr. Clark on his
last day  as a middle-aged man
My good old friend and former business partner - known in cyberspace as Pierini - gave me this guest blog assignment yesterday with a rather short deadline. 

According to his reckoning, I now have one day left being a middle-aged man because tomorrow I turn age 70.  As the ambassador of all middle-aged men of the world, Pierini has informed me that middle-aged man status ends at age 70.  I’ve never known him to be wrong so it must be true!

For the past few years as I stare out the window and watch the trees moving in the wind, I sometimes get these strange feelings of the long passage of time and the shortage of it remaining.  It doesn't feel scary and I can't explain it, but it actually feels comforting and I am grateful for life and my time here.  Over the 25 years of my middle age three children have matured and six grandchildren have arrived.  My wife and I have begun to truly get old together and our love has grown and matured through good and bad times.

Health and fitness are blessings and should never be taken for granted.  I always went to the gym, swam a lot, and was very fit.  But almost at the beginning of middle age, I had a major body failure when it was discovered I had developed a rare form of cancer in my pelvis that would require many surgeries and long stays in the hospital.  I got through all that with a lot of help from friends and family including Pierini.   I was left with an array of internal hardware, a crippled leg, and pain that has continued to this day.  I walk with crutches and long excursions are now done on an electric scooter. 

So middle age came with challenges I had not anticipated nor planned for, but they got handed to me nevertheless.  I admit I have felt sorry for myself at times.  When disaster strikes, a little self pity is called for.  But for the most part I have tried not to let the early onset of disability define who I am and what I'm about.  

Disability has undoubtedly influenced how I have experienced the past 25 years.  Over time I found that the human body and mind can adapt to almost anything.  Most of what is disability is really mental.  I read a book about a climber who was permanently injured and he said that out of the 100 things he used to be able to do, he could still do 90 of them.  That's not bad really!  I have found it actually focuses my efforts more narrowly and usually for the better. 

Here are some things you may need to think about during your middle age journey:

  1. If you have daughters, even a small wedding will cost many thousands. 
  1. If your parents are alive, you may end up having the responsibility to care for them.  They may or may not receive that care with grace, but they are still entitled to respect and love.  The opportunity to experience what it’s like to get old, disabled and dependent came at an early age for me.  Although it was doable, it wasn't fun. 
  1. Make plans to send your kids to college. 
  1. Tell and show your spouse and kids you love them frequently.  They need it and so do you. 
  1. Always have a good CPA like Pierini. 
  1. Pay attention to the passage of time because it goes fast and you won’t get any of it back. 
God bless us all.  Keep me in your thoughts and prayers as my middle-aged journey comes to an end.

Thank you my dear friend for your outstanding middle-aged man reflection about living and dying, gracefully aging and trying your best to live a good and honest life. See you tomorrow at your birthday party.  

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Monday, April 7, 2014

Too busy to blog

There's a time of the year when this chief executive blogger of Pierini Fitness has a full plate of work and life and it keeps him from keeping this cyberspace oasis fresh with new middle-aged man reflections about living and dying, gracefully aging and trying my best to live a good and honest life.

During this time, which is now, I have a better appreciation for the farmer whose crops are ready to be picked and for my yesteryear ancestors working in that farmer's fields picking his fruit.

My current work overload makes me feel like a circus clown riding a six-foot unicycle while juggling machetes.

I could go on and on about my right now but if I did that would be at odds with how busy I am so let me just say I'll be back as soon as I can.

Until then, enjoy this Pierini Fitness treasure chest of over 700 blogflections. There are classics to be read if you do some searching.  If you do and read something that you really enjoy, brighten my day and lighten my mental load by leaving me a comment below and sharing your thoughts.  

Your "hang in there buddy?" messages are also much appreciated.

Right now, I'm too busy to blog.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Winners and losers

“The Path to Prosperity” budget resolution was introduced in Congress yesterday by the Chairman of the House of Representatives’ Budget Committee. 

This budget resolution proposes $5.1 trillion in federal government spending cuts over 10 years and another version of comprehensive tax reform to the one President Obama introduced in his budget last month.    

It proposes reducing individual income tax brackets from seven to two and the corporation income tax rate to 25 percent; it would also repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

My first impression is that this April Fools’ Day budget resolution is more a political document than anything likely to become law.  It nonetheless, however, deserves to be understood for the clues it provides about how this election year and the bipolar political behavior of our elected officials will compete for our attention and vote on Election Day 2014.  

The final outcome will ultimately affect the income taxes we pay in the years ahead and which classes of taxpayers and special interest groups will be winners and losers.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Secrets to being efficiently satisfied

Working very hard the past couple months has gotten me out of the loop with regard to my morning cup of coffee.  I normally brew and enjoy it in the comfort of my home but early morning work start times have me buying a daily cup on the go lately.   

For the past couple weeks, the place where I go has offered Italian Roast and that’s what I’ve been drinking.  It’s been absolutely delicious and has awakened me to this vintage as one I might switch to from my regular French Roast variety.

Anyway, this delicious morning cup of coffee has left me very satisfied and I’ve found myself having to work harder finishing it - I only drink one cup a day.  It has also made me think if there’s such a phenomenon of being so satisfied that less is needed. It’s made me wonder if that’s also true for other things in life.

For example, could a smaller delicious plate of food satisfy me quicker than a larger plate of bland “Army mess hall" type chow?  I have many memories of the latter during three years of military service forty years ago. 

Could a small collection of fine clothes meet my fashion needs better than a larger inventory of grungy middle-aged man clothes hanging in my closet?

Could five hours of deep sleep find me awakening the next morning feeling more awesome, cheerful and energized compared to ten hours of tossing and turning sleep? 

Could a well-designed, challenging and strenuous gym workout lasting 20 minutes offer me more fitness bang for my buck than a couple hours in the gym doing this and that with lukewarm intensity?

And finally, could being an awesome husband to my wife do a better job of keeping me out of the dog house than being an average one?

These are all questions I’m thinking about this April Fools’ Day while drinking my morning cup of coffee and pondering the secrets to being efficiently satisfied.

Pax  Domini sit semper vobiscum

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Yes I would!

Mr. Joseph Gunterman - Centenarian Extraordinaire

















I like taking notes when talking to my elders because there’s so much to learn from them. 

Insights they provide about life are too important for this middle-aged man student of life to miss. I’m an old-man in training wanting to be trained well.

These opportunities are even more golden when I’m talking to a centenarian. Imagine listening to them talk about their 100 years plus of life experiences. I want to soak up their sage wisdom about living and dying, gracefully aging and trying their best living a good and honest life.

Two weeks ago I had such a golden opportunity.  I interviewed Mr. Joseph Gunterman, a young gentleman who is less than three months shy of his 101st birthday. 

Today I’ll share my interview of Mr. Gunterman with you - the 20 questions I asked him and the answers he gave. Grab a chair along with paper and pen and start taking your notes. This fascinating interview will appear here for the entire month of March 2014.

Below are the 20 questions I asked presented in bold-type.  Mr. Gunterman’s answers are presented in italicized type.

#1 – When and where were you born?  

I was born on May 21, 1913 on a ranch owned by my great uncle just outside the town limits of Calexico, California.

#2 – I have a saying that every man who looks in a mirror sees a 16-year-old kid.  What do you recall when you were one?

I was in high school in Santa Barbara, California and had interests in literature and writing.  I wasn’t very interested in mechanics or science subjects.

I was what can best be described as “on the loose” at this point in my life.  I enjoyed attending high school football games but never played it.

#3 – Do you see a 16-year-old kid now when looking in a mirror?

No I do not see a 16-year old kid when looking in a mirror at this point of my life.

#4 – As the self-appointed ambassador of all middle-aged men around the world, I’ve defined a middle-aged man as someone between the age of 45 and 70 years?  What do you recall about your life when you were 45 years young?

I still had many interests during this point of my life but was still a “loose type” except now I had a family to support. 

I was still looking for that good job to support my family but did whatever work I could find.  I worked as a carpenter, bee-keeper and dairy worker but none of these jobs were what I wanted to do.

I eventually was able to get a part-time job as a newspaper reporter for a local newspaper and this allowed me to apply my interests in writing.  I worked for the Chico Enterprise during this time when we lived in Gridley, California.

#5 – What you recall about your life when you turned age 70?  Did you consider yourself an old man then?

I was a full-time lobbyist for a nonprofit organization and politically active in causes near and dear to me. 

I did not consider myself an old man when I turned age 70.  I was still hunting for a good job that interested me. 

In my late 70’s, I volunteered with other like-minded people digging a new trail in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.  I did this for seven summers and enjoyed it very much. 

#6 – When you were a young man, did it ever dawn on you that you’d live to be 100 years young?

No, it never dawned on me nor did I even think or plan for it.  The common expectation then was that people in general lived to be in their 70’s and that’s how long I thought I might live.

#7 – What did you do on your 100th birthday?

I didn’t do anything special.  It was just another normal and quiet day.  I didn’t even have a birthday cake.

#8 – I know you recently lost your wife who lived to a ripe age of 98 years and I extend my sincere condolences to you and your family.  How many years were you married?

We were married 71 years.

Joe and Emma were married for 
71 years!  Emma passed away earlier
 this year.  She was 98 years young!

#9 – What did you and your wife do to solve conflicts between you that periodically arose in married life?

Feelings change over the years so it’s important to constantly adjust for differences between you and your spouse.

#10 – How much time do you spend nowadays reflecting back on the 100 years of life you’ve lived?

I spend very little time reflecting back on my life but I am much occupied with now and today.

#11 – Do you spend much time pondering your death and, if so, what thoughts swarm in your mind?

What’s ahead for me is largely unknown but essentially downhill.  I don’t plan on dying but most likely it will happen.

I don’t spend much time pondering it because my death is inevitable so I just sit and wait. I do sleep a lot.

#12 – Many people spend a tremendous amount of time exercising and eating healthy in their efforts to age gracefully.  In general, what was your exercise program for most of your life?

I really didn’t have a formal exercise program but I did manual labor work to support my family. I enjoy walking and did lots of it.   It’s good exercise and saves on gasoline pollution.


Mr. Gunterman's favorite exercise - simple walking!
#13 – How would you describe the foods you ate most of your life?  How was your appetite?

As a young boy, I was overweight and called fatso by other kids.  I’ve always had a good appetite and eaten good foods.  My mother was a good cook.

For most of my adult life, I tended to avoid meat and ate more like a vegetarian.  I became convinced that vegetables were better for me than meat.  I also felt sympathy towards animals.  Economics also entered into my decision. 

#14 – Did you and/or do you drink alcoholic beverages now?

I enjoy a glass of wine now and then.  I have been more of a now and then drinker of alcoholic beverages of beer and wine.  I never got into anything else.

#15 – What words of wisdom do you have to share with the middle-aged men of the world in their attempts to live a good and honest life?

Keep it up.

#16 – What hobbies and other interests have you had in your long life? 

In the early years of my adulthood I anticipated getting into literature and writing but wasn’t able to do so.  I assumed that I would be writing novels.  The closest I got as an author was writing a children’s book. 

I was and am a pacifist.  When the draft came for World War II, my number was 14.  I became a formal conscientious objector.

#17 – Until what ages did your father and mother live? 

I can’t specifically recall right now but know both my father and mother lived until their 70’s.

#18 – Do you take any prescription medicine?

I do not take any prescription medicine that I’m aware of. 

#19 – You and all the other 100-year young men are breaking our Social Security System.  What do you think about that statement?

Bring me the money.

#20 – If you had to do it all over again, would you want to live to be 100 years young?

Yes I would!

After the interview, this middle-aged man had to test Mr. Gunterman's old man strength in a friendly arm-wrestling match.

A friendly middle-aged man versus old man 
arm-wrestling challenge two seconds into the match.

Thank you - Mr. Gunterman - for being so kind to grant me this interview. Your answers have confirmed I want to be like you and live to be 100-years young.

Yes I would!

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum