Friday, October 31, 2008

What people were saying in 1955

I’m a middle-age man who was born in 1955. Here are comments people were making in that year, courtesy of a client who sent them to me.

''I’ll tell you one thing, if things keep going the way they are, it's going to be impossible to buy a week's groceries for $20.00.”

“Have you seen the new cars coming out next year? It won't be long before $2,000.00 will only buy a used one.”

“If cigarettes keep going up in price, I'm going to quit. A quarter a pack is ridiculous.”

“Did you hear the post office is thinking about charging a dime just to mail a letter?”

“If they raise the minimum wage to $1.00, nobody will be able to hire outside help at the store.”

“When I first started driving, who would have thought gas would someday cost 29 cents a gallon. Guess we'd be better off leaving the car in the garage.”

“Kids today are impossible. Those ducktail haircuts make it impossible to stay groomed. Next thing you know, boys will be wearing their hair as long as the girls.”

“I'm afraid to send my kids to the movies any more. Ever since they let Clark Gable get by with saying DAMN in GONE WITH THE WIND, it seems every new movie has either HELL of DAMN in it.”

“I read the other day where some scientist thinks it's possible to put a man on the moon by the end of the century. They even have some fellows they call astronauts preparing for it down in Texas.”

“Did you see where some baseball player just signed a contract for $75,000 a year just to play ball? It wouldn't surprise me if someday they'll be making more than the President.”

“I never thought I'd see the day all our kitchen appliances would be electric. They are even making electric typewriters now.”

“It's too bad things are so tough nowadays. I see where a few married women are having to work to make ends meet.”

“It won't be long before young couples are going to have to hire someone to watch their kids so they can both work.”

“Marriage doesn't mean a thing any more, those Hollywood stars seem to be getting divorced at the drop of a hat.”

"I'm afraid the Volkswagen car is going to open the door to a whole lot of foreign business.”

“Thank goodness I won't live to see the day when the Government takes half our income in taxes. I sometimes wonder if we are electing the best people to Congress.”

“The drive-in restaurant is convenient in nice weather, but I seriously doubt they will ever catch on.”

“There is no sense going to Lincoln or Omaha anymore for a weekend, it costs nearly $15.00 a night to stay in a hotel.”

“No one can afford to be sick anymore, at $35.00 a day in the hospital it's too rich for my blood.”

“If they think I'll pay 50 cents for a hair cut, forget it.”

It would be fun to live a typical day in the year I was born and listen to what people were saying in 1955.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Voting for President

With the 2008 Presidential Election just five days away, it’s made me reflect about whom I have voted for in past elections. As a middle-age man, I’ve voted in eight Presidential general elections.

The first time was in 1976 when I was 21 years old and President Gerald Ford, the Republican incumbent, squared off against Jimmy Carter, the Democratic challenger. I voted for Jimmy Carter who won the election.

In 1980, it was President Jimmy Carter, the Democratic incumbent, versus Ronald Reagan, the Republican challenger. I voted for President Carter who was trounced by Ronald Reagan.

Next was 1984 and it was President Ronald Reagan, the Republican incumbent versus Walter Mondale, the Democratic challenger. I voted for Walter Mondale but the people re-elected President Reagan to another term.

In 1988 there was no incumbent so it was Republican nominee George Bush running against Democrat nominee Michael Dukakis. I voted for Michael Dukakis but George Bush won the election.

In 1992 it was Republican incumbent President Bush running against Democrat challenger Bill Clinton who I voted for and who was elected the next President. It was the last time I voted Democrat in a Presidential election.

In 1996, Democrat incumbent President Bill Clinton ran against Republican challenger Bob Dole. It was the first time I voted Republican and I gave my vote to Bob Dole who was no challenge for President Clinton, easily re-elected to a second term.

In 2000 Democratic challenger Al Gore ran against Republican challenger George W. Bush. My wife and I were vacationing in France the day of the general election, and voted by absentee ballot before leaving for our vacation. I remember asking a newspaper vendor on the streets of Nice, “Parlez-vous l'anglais ? “Yes a little” he replied. So I asked him who was my new President and he replied “Bush”. I voted for George W. Bush in what turned out to be the most controversial Presidential election in my voting career.

Four years later in 2004, Republican incumbent George W. Bush ran against Democratic challenger John Kerry. I voted for President Bush who was re-elected to a second term.

In baseball talk, I'm 3 for 8 with a .375 batting average, and getting ready to step up to the plate to bat again next Tuesday. I'm hopeful of getting a hit and maybe it will be a home run.

Next Monday, I’ll share who I will be voting for President.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What goes up must come down

Gravity is the theoretical force responsible for the apparent attraction between a mass and the earth. Sir Isaac Newton was the first to fully recognize this force that holds us on the ground and causes objects to fall back to the ground after being thrown in the air.

Metaphorically speaking, there’s the gravity of life with all its ups and downs, such as the upper of when a daughter or son is born, and the downer of when a Mom or Dad dies. The upper of buying a first home, and the downer of losing it in foreclosure.

Then there's the gravity of good health like when blood pressure, blood sugar, bodyweight or cholesterol goes up or down.

Or the gravity of fitness and strength like the distance covered when running, the number of pushups done in a set, or the amount of weight lifted for a little repetition. With hard work these go up, but eventually go down if our training ceases and/or we age.

Gravity is always doing its job and here’s further proof:

Thanks to gravity, what goes up must come down.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Little white lies

As a kid growing up I remember the phrase "liar liar pants on fire". We yelled that when catching another kid telling a lie. Telling lies, mostly little white lies, was a regular and necessary evil, an adolescent survival tool.

Telling little white lies was not just a kid thing for me because I’ve told my fair share as an adult, and I still struggle as a middle-age man with wanting to tell them.

So what’s a lie and how does it differ from a little white lie. Let’s start off with some definitions courtesy of Wikipedia, the popular internet free encyclopedia.

A lie is a type of deception in the form of an untruthful statement, especially with the intention of deceiving others, often with the further intention of maintaining a secret or reputation, protecting someone's feelings, or avoiding a punishment.

A white lie is a less serious lie that causes no discord if it were uncovered, and offers some benefit to the liar, the hearer, or both. The lie is told to avoid the harmful realistic implications of the truth. It may have differing meanings in different cultures. Lies which are harmless (but told for no reason) are generally called white lies.

That makes me a liar and a litle white liar; those kids on the playground were right. So is that little angel sitting above my right shoulder telling me that I’m lying or telling me that I shouldn't because it's not right; while the little devil who sits on my left shoulder tells me it’s OK because it’s just a little white lie.

I’m lying when I tell a client that I didn’t get their work finished on time because of computer problems when the real reason was my procrastination. It seems so trivial in the context of the big picture, such as when Presidential candidates and politicians tell little white lies. If it’s not wrong for them then how can it be for me?

It’s wrong for me because, as a middle-age man, I’ve discovered the virtue of rigorous honesty. While I haven’t mastered it, if rigorous honesty is not good enough for them, that’s a reason as good as any for it to be good enough for me.

At this point in my life, I’m trying my best to be rigorously honest with others and myself. It’s the right thing to do as difficult as it may be, so I’ll continue struggling to do so in my truthful journey of life.

At this point in my life, I’m trying my best to not tell any little white lies.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Monday, October 27, 2008

Parallel squat wall sit with a kick

My blogflection on October 21st included a video demonstration of walking lunges with a kick. Continuing with this kicking theme, today I’ll demonstrate the parallel squat wall sit with a kick. It’s a standard wall sit static isometric posture. While in this position, I perform alternating leg standard front kicks.

Here’s a video of me performing 25 repetitions of this exercise:

These were done at the end of a leg workout that included back squats, front squats and box jumps so my legs were tired. You’ll notice that for a couple of the reps I had my elbows pressing against the wall, which actually makes it easier. Then I caught myself doing that and brought my hands forward.

Some leaning against the wall is necessary to perform this exercise, and foot placement is very important and impacts the difficulty. You’ll notice I had some trouble getting my foot placement at the beginning. It’s a little easier to perform this exercise if you feet are further forward as it takes some of the demand off your quads.

If you are looking for a good leg workout that uses this exercise and you’re open to doing weighted barbell squats, then try something similar to what I did when I recorded this video. Here’s a suggested workout:

  • barbell back squats - 8 sets of 2 reps increasing the weight each set

  • barbell front squats - 5 sets of 5 reps decreasing the weight each set

  • box jumps - 5 sets of a single rep increasing the height each set

  • parallel squat wall sit with alternating front kicks to failure

I like to perform full range squats with a good lower back arch and upper body uprightness and that is what I suggest you do. You’ll need to lighten the load to maintain this form, but not too light so you can be challenged.

You’ll like the challenge at the end of your workout of the parallel squat wall sit with a kick.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Credo in unum Deum

Today is Sunday and a day of rest. I'll be back tomorrow so visit me then.

The photo to the left is of the altar inside la Chiesa di San Gregorio dei Muratori (the Church of Saint Gregory of the masons or bricklayers), a small Roman Catholic Church near Piazza Nicosia in Rome, Italy. My wife and I attended daily Mass there during our April 2007 vacation in Rome. It is staffed by an order of priests who celebrate the traditional Latin Tridentine Mass. This is the Mass used in the Roman Catholic Church for almost 1,500 years, until the introduction of the modern Mass in 1965 by Pope Paul VI following the Second Vatican Council.

Here is one of the many prayers that is sung during a traditional Latin Tridentine High Mass, the Credo in unum Deum.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Saturday, October 25, 2008

That's the economic truth

This is from the July 25th, 2008 edition of the Kiplinger Tax Letter: “New statistics from the Internal Revenue Service show that the highest-earning 1% of taxpayers in America make 22.06% of all income reported to the government. That’s almost twice the 12.51% of total income earned collectively by the lowest-earning 50% of workers. Yes, 1.4 million taxpayers claim 22% of income earned while 68 million share just 12.5%.

But get this: When it comes to taxes paid, an even wider discrepancy shows itself -- in reverse. That top 1% of earners pay 39.89% of all the federal individual income taxes. The bottom 50% of earners pay just 2.99% of those taxes.”

The article further points out that while you may not feel rich earning $35,000 a year, you are nonetheless in the top half of all taxpayers, and at $65,000 a year you’re in the top 25 percent.

You can read the entire article here:

No matter where you stand on the issues in this year’s Presidential election, your pocketbook can’t possibly support new tax increases. These numbers are staggering and are clear evidence that mid and upper incomers are paying not only their fair share, but really the lion’s share of the taxes in this country.

So when a Presidential candidate tells Joe the Plumber that he wants to spread Joe’s wealth around rather than let Joe keep his hard-earned wealth, what he is really telling Joe is that he wants to spread more of Joe’s wealth than what is already being done. Not only Joe’s wealth, but also yours and mine as well.

Creating new wealth rather than spreading existing wealth is the solution for a more prosperous U.S. and that’s the economic truth.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, October 24, 2008

You can always pick tomatoes

It was probably 18 years ago that I was awakened by a telephone call early one morning while sleeping in a hotel in San Diego where I had gone for a business assignment. It was my cousin Al calling me.

Cousin Al is my younger cousin by two years and his mom and my mom are sisters. He was, and still is, a union heavy-equipment operator of those monster machines used to move mountains and pave roads for construction. The work is hard, the hours are long, and the pay is good when the work is there. It’s not unusual to work hard during the summer months when construction is good, then kick back and collect unemployment benefits when work is slow or the weather is bad.

Well construction had been slow and cousin Al had been unemployed for a long time so his unemployment benefits were about to end. He had financial worries, probably not a whole lot different than many people today with house and car payments to make, a stay-at-home wife, and young children to feed. It was difficult for cousin Al to balance the family finances without a regular paycheck. The purpose of his call was to tell me his financial woes and that he was planning to quit making payments on his house loan and lose it in foreclosure. He wanted to know what I thought about his plan.

“Don’t do it”, I said emphatically to which cousin Al reminded me that he hadn’t worked in a long time and the prospects of immediate work looked bleak. He was referring to the work that he had always done, working as a union heavy equipment operator making a decent hourly wage.

“You can always pick tomatoes”, I further added as a figure of speech but there was an element of truth to it as well for both cousin Al and me.

As young children whose parents were immigrant farm workers, both our moms worked hard in the fields picking fruit and vegetables with their siblings, and they made sure their children had that experience too. So we both picked tomatoes during the summer months along with our other cousins and siblings. I never got rich picking tomatoes but it sure taught me the importance of a good education.

Cousin Al and I talked a little longer, about what I don’t remember, before eventually saying goodbye to each other.

Well cousin Al never did pick tomatoes, nor did he quit making payments on his house loan. The economy eventually got better and so did finances for him and his family.

He still works as a heavy equipment operator although, once again, the economy is not good and construction business is slow. Cousin Al is one of the fortunate ones who is working full time but things can change as they always do. He may one day call asking me for advice if he is without work and having difficult financial times. I think he knows what I will tell him - you can always pick tomatoes.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Plyometric power-over pushups

I first learned about plyometric power-over pushups from Ross Enamait’s great out-of-print book, “The Underground Guide to Warrior Fitness”. If you have the book, this exercise is explained on page 61.

Ross states that they can be done using either a basketball or a medicine ball. Personally, I prefer to do mine using a medicine ball.

Here’s a video of me demonstrating how to do them – I definitely lack the grace and explosiveness of Ross, but I’m old enough to be his father:

I like to keep my set reps low, and concentrate on performing them with maximum speed and explosiveness. What I like about this exercise is the hand-to-eye coordination challenge. Blink an eye or miss the hand placement by an inch and it can be a whole different ballgame. You can see that I had a hand placement problem on the first rep in the video demonstration and it haunted me for the rest of the reps.

For the advanced fitness buff, this pushup variation works great with the workout I suggested two days earlier in my October 21st blogflection - 10 rounds of 10 reps of walking lunges with a kick followed by 10 reps of pushups.

So when you want a maximum challenge of your pushup prowess, do plyometric power-over pushups.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

You betcha!

Yesterday I jumped out of bed at 3:41 a.m., almost 1 hour later than my planned wakeup call of 3:00 a.m. After a quick shower, shave and dress, and a quick stop at the ATM machine for some cash, my wife and I were on the highway at 4:20 a.m. for our destination of Reno, Nevada. For most of the 2-hour trip, I felt like a “rich man” because we had the highway almost exclusively to ourselves with the exception of an occasional trucker we passed along the way.

As we approached Reno, the view of the city lights from the highway brought back memories of when we lived there for 6 months in 1979 after I graduated from college. I saw many changes and evidence of growth as we exited off the highway taking the Virginia Street off ramp. But I also saw a lot of things that hadn’t changed as Reno is still a gambling city like Las Vegas with bright lights illuminating from one casino after another on North Virginia Street. Our destination was the Reno-Sparks Convention Center, about 5 miles away on South Virginia Street.

It seemed so surreal as memories flashed in my mind while driving down Virginia Street as that is the street I drove every day going to and from work. Then I discovered that the convention center is less than one mile from the apartment complex where we lived almost 30 years earlier.

All these memories ended, however, when we entered the convention center parking lot as my wife and I talked about the event we were about to attend, a rally where the guest speaker was Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

Well a couple hours later, Sarah Palin walked down the ramp onto the stage and stood behind a podium where she spoke to an enthusiastic crowd for about 40 minutes. She was definitely speaking to the choir and had a very captive audience. The economy and taxes, family values, foreign relations, fighting the war against terrorism, she covered it all. Joe the Plumber came up in her speech as did someone new – Tito the Builder, an immigrant who is now a proud business owner, born in Columbia but “made” in the U.S.A. That was well received by the crowd. This was the opportunity I had been waiting for, a chance for me to reconcile the Sarah Pain I’d seen watching the Vice Presidential debate on television and countless YouTube videos with the Sarah Palin live and upfront.

After listening to everything she had to say during her 40-minute speech, I felt qualified to judge for myself and nobody else if she has the qualifications and values I am looking for in the person I want to be the next Vice President, who could one day be the next President of the U.S.

Do I think she has the qualifications and values to do the job? You betcha!

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Walking lunges with a kick

There's nothing new under the sun when it comes to exercise. We are either pulling or pushing upwards, downwards, forward or backward at a slow, medium or fast pace; or there is no movement in the case of isometric exercises.

The set and rep schemes and whether we do an exercise in combination with other exercises in a superset or circuit cadence are the spices of variety that make our workouts challening and helps us achieve our multiple fitness goals.

An exercise I sometimes do is called the walking lunge with a kick. It's a great alternative to the standard burpee and can be done as part of a bodyweight circuit workout when you are short on time.

You've probably done the walking lunge part of it before. What I do is add a kick to it - a traditional karate front kick - to make it more interesting. This front kick adds an extra balance and cardiovascular challenge that I enjoy.

It's important to perform the front kick correctly to get the full benefit from it. It's a 4-part movement: step one is to chamber your knee upwards close to your body, step two is to perform the snap kick making sure to pull your toes backwards and drive the ball of your foot forward, step three is to return your leg to the step one position, and step four is to return your foot to the floor. Make sure you perform all four steps fast while maintaining good balance and form.

If you are looking for a quick workout that uses the walking lunge with a kick, try performing 10 reps of it followed by 10 reps of a standard pushup for 10 rounds, a total of 100 reps of each exercise. If you want a total plyometric workout, perform clapping pushups instead of the standard pushups where you explode upwards during the push up part and clap both hands while airborne before returning to the start position.

Here's a demonstration of walking lunges with a kick.

Give it a try because I think you'll like them - walking lunges with a kick.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Monday, October 20, 2008

Taking good notes

With paper and pencil in hand, I remember taking notes in elementary school as my teacher stood behind the chalkboard in front of the classroom instructing us about the subject matter of the moment. I didn’t take as many notes during my middle school and high school years because I was a member of the goof ball club and academics was not a priority.

In college, however, I was a motivated student, thanks to the lessons learned as a soldier in the U.S. Army. Once again, with paper and pencil in hand, I took good notes of everything my college professors pontificated in their lectures. I’ve always been blessed with a good memory and attention to detail so, along with good notes and diligent study, I did well on just about every college exam.

So three decades later, I find myself taking notes again, this time when observing or listening to my elders because there’s much to learn from them. The insight they provide about the life they have lived and the life they want to live is too important to miss.

Notes about their life in the good old days, how they handled difficult situations, their thoughts about living and dying during the golden years of their life, how they exercise, and their approach to fitness and health. What they tell me is as fascinating and instructive as a college philosphy professsor's lecture on ethics over 30 years ago, and as thought-provoking as a sermon on redemptive suffering given by a priest during a recent Sunday Mass.

Talking to my 82-year young Dad two nights ago, I took notes as he told me about the weightlifting workout he did earlier in the day. And like a student, I raised my hand asking him several questions. “How many sets did you do of that exercise Dad? Did you do the bench press before the upright rowing?” I asked while mentally noting his answers.

Yesterday after Sunday Mass I had an opportunity to talk with a 94-year young man as we sat together having a cup of coffee. I’d be a fool to pass up an opportunity to learn from a 94-year young man, so I took many notes during our 30-minutes plus conversation. I walked away well prepared for future exams on life, and with several new jokes and one-liners as well.

At this point in my life, I realize that I know more than I did yesterday but also less than I will tomorrow. There's so much more to know and learn and I’ll do it by taking good notes.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Sunday, October 19, 2008

With the exception of Sunday

Enjoy your Sunday and take a rest, come back tomorrow and read my best,

original blogflections every day,
with the exception of Sunday.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Silence is golden

"Silenzio!" yelled the guard dressed in a black security uniform to the very large crowd of tourists who had become a little too loud for him while he patrolled the floors of the Sistine Chapel, or Capella Sistina in his mother tongue.

My wife and I were part of this very large crowd one morning in October 2000 during our vagabond pilgrimage to the Vatican for "Il Giubileo Del 2000" (The Jubilee 2000) along with thousands of other Roman Catholics from around the world.

We had all read the signs asking for our silence while in the chapel and did the best we could to obey, but our collective excitement created whispering chatter that had become a little too much for la guardia (the guard). For him, silence was golden.

As humans, we are social creatures wired to interact with others using words to express our ideas and thoughts, and our conversations create unintended auditory noise that at times can be overwhelming.

This noise is not a problem for some yet overbearing for others who yearn for moments of quietness or silence, particularly at the end of a long day.

It's been an auditory noisy week for me with the business of my work and from viewing the Presidential Debate on television last Wednesday evening. My ears are overworked and thoughts of a quieter weekend sound pleasing to my ears.

Just like the Sistine Chapel security guard, I want my silenzio. Maybe I'll take an evening walk in the darkness of the night with a sky full of stars and enjoy the calmness and tranquility of it all because silence is golden.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, October 17, 2008

Just an average Joe Blow

A popular term the media, politicians and political commentators like to use is "average ordinary citizen". They frequently use this term in a context that borders on being condescending, as if an average ordinary citizen is someone other and less than them.

So are average ordinary citizens what other people are but never us? Who is an average ordinary citizen? Is he related to the Nowhere Man made famous in the 1965 song by the Beatles, the lyrics of which are below?

"He's a real nowhere Man, sitting in his Nowhere Land, making all his nowhere plans for nobody.

Doesn't have a point of view,knows not where he's going to,isn't he a bit like you and me?

Nowhere Man, please listen,you don't know what you're missing,Nowhere Man, the world is at your command.

He's as blind as he can be,just sees what he wants to see,Nowhere Man can you see me at all?

Doesn't have a point of view, knows not where he's going to, isn't he a bit like you and me?

Nowhere Man, don't worry,take your time, don't hurry,leave it all till somebody else lend you a hand.

He's a real Nowhere Man,sitting in his Nowhere Land,making all his nowhere plans for nobody."

Are average ordinary citizens better known to us as Joe 6-Pack or Joe the Plumber, characters we learned of during the recent Presidential debates?

Is Joe 6-Pack an average ordinary citizen who likes to drink beer and watch NFL football on television? Or maybe he is an average ordinary citizen who likes to exercise and has a 6-pack from doing alot of situps, you know a gym rat.

Joe the Plumber may be more recognizable to us; the average ordinary citizen who makes a living as a plumber, the one who wears a heavy leather tool belt around his waist that makes his pants hang low so that when he bends over he exposes his "plumber's butt".

Makes you want to think twice before naming your son Joe.

Is Joe married to a hockey mom who is like a pit bull with lipstick, or the soccer mom who drives a large SUV? They both are average ordinary citizens too.

There's no doubt in my mind that I am an average ordinary citizen of the middle-age man vintage; I discovered this long time ago. But I do remember wanting to be somebody when I was younger, and I really worked hard at it, believing it would be my ticket to eternal self-esteem and the fountain of success in the eyes of my family and friends who looked at me and my accomplishments.

Then I became a little wiser and discovered that I wanted to be nobody, an average Joe Blow, or an average ordinary citizen as the higher powers like to say. I discovered that trying to be nobody was much more difficult and, unbeknownst to be, has been a greater source of happiness, making me feel more comfortable in the company of other average ordinary citizens like my good friends Joe 6-Pack and Joe the Plumber.

There's nothing inferior about being an average ordinary citizen so I'll continue going about my life being just an average Joe Blow.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Thursday, October 16, 2008

One of my first loves

One of my first loves was "born" in 1963 when I was an 8 year young boy in 3rd grade, when thousands of Americans were driving their 1963 Pontiac Grand Prix automobiles on the highways and roads. Eight years later in 1971, one would be my first car.

It all begin in the summer of 1970 with a part-time summer job I had working in the Duncan Hines Division of Proctor & Gamble, dumping flour, from 100 lb. sacks into bins, that was used to produce cake mix. I made $2.00 an hour working Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. I felt like a rich man because minimum wage was only $1.65 an hour in those days. My weekly gross earnings were $40.00 and after taxes my weekly paycheck was $36.41. Payday was every Friday.

My Mom drove me to and from work every day and on Friday we would stop at the bank on the way home and I would deposit $30.00 of my paycheck into a savings account. I kept the remaining $6.41 for weekly spending money. I did this every week during my summer job and eventually, with some other savings, had enough money to buy my first car - a red 1963 Pontiac Grand Prix with a white vinyl top. It cost a whopping $475 and just about drained my savings account.

Every middle-age man remembers his first car and I am no exception. It was a gas-guzzler averaging about 9 miles a gallon, so many of my memories are of me being at the gas station filling up the gas tank. Gasoline was only 30-35 cents a gallon so a full tank costed about $6.00 and lasted an entire week.

My other memories include driving to and from school every day, going to the drive-in movies with my girlfriend, cruising around the neighborhood with friends, and even washing and waxing my car each week. I can kick myself in my behind for not taking any photos of my first car so, until recently, my pleasant memories of yesteryear had been limited to those in my mind's eye.

Recently, however, I discovered a video posted on YouTube by someone who owns a red 1963 Pontiac Grand Prix with a white vinyl top just like my first car, so now I have some visual memories to go along with my mind's eye memories.

As a middle-age man, every time I look in the mirror I see a 16-year old kid, and when I think of being a 16-year old kid, I think of my 1963 Pontiac Grand Prix, one of my first loves.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

2008 measurable fitness goals

At the beginning of this year I outlined my 2008 measurable fitness goals as follows - with my current achievements in bold italics:

Training effort - Put in at least 200 quality training sessions during the year. What is quality: for me to judge.

I haven't counted training sessions thus far so I'm not sure if I am on track to achieve this goal but I'm guessing I'll be close.

Endurance - Not the priority it has been in prior years. My days of high volume bodyweight-only training and longer-running distances are behind me at this point. But I would like to be able to run a 5k in at least 22:00.

I've had some feet and knee injuries and am officially "retired" from the fun run circuit so goal not achieved and will not be achieved.

Speed - I've had feet problems ever since I wore track racing shoes last summer and I am currently still recovery from a left-heel injury. Assuming that I conquer these nuisance ailments, I'd like to lace up the track shoes and hit the track this summer for another round of all-comer track meets and improve my times in the shorter distances. So I'd like to beat these current PRs by at least 1/10th of a second (current PR date in parenthesis):

100m - 0:15.26 (8/10/2006) - this is my weakest distance

200m - 0:29.92 (7/26/2007)

400m - 1:04.47 (7/26/2007)

800m - 2:37.68 (7/12/2007)

1,600 - 6:12 (7/27/2006)

I have not achieved any of these goals as my fun run career appears to be over as discussed above.

Strength - My current interest is with the Oly lifts and my plan is to continue training. At a bodyweight of 185 lbs. or less, I'd like to conquer a 150 lb. snatch (ATG squat snatch only counts) and a 200 lb. clean & jerk (ATG squat clean and split jerk). My current PR is a 123 lb. snatch and 181 lb. clean & jerk.I'd also like to conquer a 38 inch box jump for at least a single rep. My current best effort is 36 inches for 5 reps.

I snatched 155 lbs. on 10/10/2008 and clean and jerked 185 lbs. on 9/20/2008 at a bodyweight of 185 lbs. or less. I have not tested myself with box jumps lately but I will try before the year is over.

Other stuff - The Marine Physical Fitness Test is something I will not train for this year after having done so the past 3 years for my birthday. I conquered my goal of scoring 250 points and I just don't have the fire in my belly to do it again this year.

I'm enjoying the challenges of static isometric postures and I'll add some goals with these, listing both my goal and my current PR:

-Handstand hold with feet against the wall for balance: goal of 2:00 - my current best is 1:43.

I did 1:59 this year so I'm close to achieving this goal.

-Standard grip pullup hang hold: goal of 2:15 - my current best is 2:08.

I have not improved thus far this year but I'll keep trying.

-Ab plank hold: goal of 5:00 -my current best is 4:32.

I achieved this goal with a 5:01 hold on 5/28/2008.

-Superman extension on the GHD unit: goal of 1:30 - my current best is 1:05.

I did 1:19 on 6/12/2008 so I am close to achieving this goal.

I have had a long-standing unachieved goal of completing 20 standard grip pullups with strict form. I've gotten as high as 18 reps. I'll keep doing pullups but will not state this as a 2008 goal. It would be nice but I'm not sure I'm willing to do the work.

I have not done alot of pullups this year and can probably only currently do 14 reps for a single set.

Aesthetics - 
To continue seeing a 16-year old kid when I look in the mirror. This may very well be the only goal I'll achieve in 2008 as it is kind of subjective, but I know best.

No doubt about this one - mission accomplished!

I’ll give a final accounting at the end of this year on how I did in meeting my 2008 measurable fitness goals.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sucker punched in a nightclub brawl

Of all the things we regularly do to rejuvenate us, sleeping has got to be at the top of the list. Most of us sleep a quarter to a third of our lives away. Middle-age men like me sleep a little more with the occasional power nap we take when nobody is looking.

The National Sleep Foundation in the United States maintains that 8 to 9 hours of sleep for adults is optimal and that sufficient sleep benefits alertness, memory and problem solving, and overall health, as well as reducing the risk of accidents. This sleep dosage is supported by a well-known university's research findings which demonstrated that cognitive performance declines with fewer than 8 hours of sleep. However, another university's research study of more than one million adults found that people who live the longest self-report sleeping only 6 to 7 hours each night.

What about me? I seldom get 8 to 9 hours of sleep in a a typical day, averaging instead about 6 hours which seems sufficient most of the time. And when I have a severe sleep deficit, the good old power nap does the job of eliminating my deficit.

Do middle-age men take more naps that the younger average Joe 6-pack? Who knows for sure but that is the stereotype in my mind's eye even though I often don't take a nap. Every now and then, however, I'll treat myself to a 2-hour plus power nap, generally on a Sunday afternoon. Man does that feel great!

What I do know is that many middle-age man have problems with interrupted sleep at night. Middle-age women have problems too; I hear about it all the time. With middle-age men, it's the middle-of-the-night trip to the bathroom, the wee hours of the morning prostate call. I'm not sure why middle-age women have interrupted sleep. Maybe it is their husbands snoring but, truth be told, it could be their own snoring that's waking them.

Most of the time, I do not have problems with interrupted sleep - except for occasional bouts during my busy work season when I'm working long days and unfinished work and deadlines are constantly on my mind - thanks to regular and rigorous exercise. At the end of most days I feel calm and relaxed with a sleepiness that reminds me of how I felt as a young child when the sandman arrived.

This late-night sleepiness is a very eurphoric and sedative feeling accompanied with rapid-fire flurries of sighs and yawns that eventually lead to a sudden lights out knockout, like drunk sailor who just got sucker punched in a nightclub brawl.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Monday, October 13, 2008

Every blue moon

The term blue moon is commonly used metaphorically to describe a rare event, as in the saying "once in a blue moon".

My journey of learning the Olympic lifts began in September 2007 and the term – every blue moon - best describes how often I get a new PR (personal record) with the snatch Olympic lift. Of the two Olympic lifts, the snatch has been more devilish and seductive for me than the clean and jerk. I’ve worked really hard trying to learn the finer points of performing it correctly, but I still have a long way to go. Along the way, however, I’ve slowly made progress and set new PRs (personal records) as the following timeline illustrates:

September 7, 2007 – 88 lbs.

September 7, 2007 – 98 lbs.

November 16, 2007 – 108 lbs.

November 16, 2007 – 118 lbs.

December 28, 2007 – 123 lbs.

January 11, 2008 – 125 lbs.

January 25, 2008 – 130 lbs.

February 15, 2008 – 133 lbs.

May 2, 2008 – 135 lbs.

May 2, 2008 – 140 lbs.

May 9, 2008 – 145 lbs.

July 28, 2008 – 150 lbs.

October 10, 2008 – 155 lbs.

Here’s my most recent PR:

My goal for 2008 was to snatch 150 lbs. so I’ve achieved that goal. At this point, I believe that getting 160 lbs. before the 2008 year is over is a real possibility so I’m training with that in mind.

But if I don’t get it I’ll understand because I know that, for me, PRs only come every blue moon.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Holy Sunday

When I think of Sunday, I think of church, and I also think of all the beautiful basilicas and churches I have visited in my travels such as St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, the Notre Dame in Paris, and without a doubt, my favorite, La Basilica di San Pietro – the Basilica of St. Peter at the Vatican.

Here is a photo of the main altar inside San Pietro, taken during an April 2007 vacation to Italy:

Looking at this photo brings back pleasant memories of a December 2004 family vacation when my wife, son and daughter and I attended Christmas Eve Midnight Mass at St. Peter, celebrated by the late Pope John Paul II.

Have a Holy Sunday.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The bride and groom are back

Last Saturday, my blogflection discussed a May 2008 California Supreme Court decision overturning a state ban on same-sex marriage. This was followed with new state guidelines for county clerks who issue marriage licenses, requiring them to replace "bride" and "groom" on the license application with "party A" and "party "B". State officials deleted the terms bride and groom contending that the forms had to use gender-neutral language. You can read my entire blogflection here:

Well I was not alone in my consternation.

On Monday, California state officials, saying they had heard from residents all over the state who want to be identified as "bride" and "groom" on their marriage license, said the state forms will be changed once again. Couples filling out the license application soon will have the option of declaring themselves bride and groom, bride and bride or groom and groom. They also can leave the space blank. The words "Party A" and "Party B" have been removed from the new forms that will be available in county offices beginning on November 17th.

"Nothing is greater or better than this; that a man and wife dwell together in accord." Odyssey: Homer, 850 B.C.

Once again, voters in California will have an opportunity to vote YES on a constitutional amendment, known as Proposition 8, which would override this court decision. The measure will appear on the 2008 California general election ballot this November. I'm voting YES for Proposition 8 so women can be women, men can be men, brides can be brides, grooms can be grooms, wives can be wives and husbands can be husbands. Whether it passes or not, it's great to know that the bride and groom are back.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, October 10, 2008

I need a haircut

It's time to visit my barber. It's been at least two month since my last haircut. These days I only get a haircut about 5 times a year because my hair grows slower than when I was younger.

Most middle-age men do not spend much money on their hair. My barber is definitely not getting rich from my business. I always ask for a standard middle-age man haircut, which costs me $15. I give my barber a $20 bill and tell him to keep the change. It's a fast haircut, around 20 minutes from in the chair to out the door or $1 a minute. I don't do the hair color thing so there's no extra cost there; therefore I spend about $100 a year to keep my locks in order.

The barbershop is not where I go to live on the wild side. The haircut I get is predictably the same, as is the way I comb my hair. I'm a creature of habit. Shampoo it in the morning, towel dry it, then a quick 15 seconds or less combing, all back with a subtle part in the middle; not a sharp part in the middle like Alfalfa of The Little Rascals but one that naturally flops into being due to my thinner hair.

I still have a full head of hair though and for that I am most grateful, but it is not as thick like when I was younger. When I let my hair grow longer in those thicker days, I could sport a look like the late Tex-Mex musician Freddy Fender. About 10 years ago I let my hair grow longer and wore a ponytail for a while until I got tired of it. It was fun to look like a biker for a while.

Now I sport streaks of gray and white hair, my wisdom streaks, as I like to call them. I've learned that they are less visible when my hair is longer, and really stand out with a big smile when my hair is shorter. Maybe that's why I like to wear my hair longer these days.

In my travels to Europe, I've had the opportunity to get a haircut while on vacation - two haircuts in Turkey, one in Istanbul and the other in a small town the name of which I can't remember, and a haircut in Italy, at a barbershop in the Trastevere area of Rome. I gave that barber a big tip and he had a giant smile on his face. Seems like tipping barbers isn't as common in Italy as it is in America.

Well I've rambled enough and my hair is getting longer with each moment of procrastination. I better get over to see my barber soon because I need a haircut.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Boredom and intensity cannot co-exist

We've heard it more than once and may have said it ourselves a time or two - the word as in boring or bored. Younger people, kids especially, say it all the time - "I'm bored" or "it's boring". I once heard my little niece say that she was bored to which I replied that if she was bored it means she's boring. She hasn't been bored since.

You'll often hear the B word when someone says that running is boring and that's why they don't run, but it isn't limited to running. You'll also hear it in discussions of exercise in general, particularly by someone whose newbie zeal has worn off and the grind and routine of regular training has settled in.

To everyone who says they are bored with their workouts or that running is boring, I have the same reply as I did for my niece; if you are bored it means you're boring. And it also means that your training lacks intensity.

The person most likely to say that running is boring is a trotter, a slow jogger, one whose idea of running is moving at a snail's pace for 30 minutes to an hour. Thumping their feet that barely clear the ground with each stride as they run in an up and down feet-dragging fashion; almost as if they're running in place.

The other bored fitness buffs can be found in the gym doing the same day-in and day-out workout they've always done. Three sets of 8 reps of this and 3 sets of 8 reps of that of the same exercises with about the same weight and with about the same rest between sets, maybe favoring exercise machines rather than free weights because they afford more sitting opportunities. Not only are their minds bored but so are their muscles.

What should they do to rid their miserable selves of the boredom? The answer is simple - get rid of the B word and replace it with the I word as intensity.   I've never seen someone running a mile as fast as they can afterwards say that they were bored. Nor have seen someone who just completed a tough CrossFit circuit workout for time afterwards say that they were bored.

Intensity provides greater strength demands to keep muscles guessing, greater anaerobic demands on the cardiovascular system, and does a better job of stimulating the body's natural production of human growth hormones.

But guess what? Intensity feels uncomfortable because it elevates the heart rate, makes breathing harder, and requires more strength exertion and muscular endurance. It's real fitness work at its finest, not the leisurely stuff like reading a magazine while striding on the elliptical machine slow enough to be going backwards.

So next time you say that you are bored with your workouts or that running is boring, remember that if you are bored it means you are boring. Replace your boredom-based workouts with some intensity-based workouts because boredom and intensity cannot co-exist.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Old school economics 101

It's hard to imagine the federal government's recently enacted $700 billion corporate welfare program offers a real rescue to our struggling economy. The government's solution operates on the premise that borrowing is the way in which problems are solved; it's spending money it does not have, and resorting to borrowing and printing more currency to do it. The swiftness with which this "corporate rescue" legislation passed Congress and signed into law by the President is indirect taxation without representation since most Americans do not approve of it. Enactment means higher taxes for generations to come.

In my opinion, it's no different than a drunk waking up with a hangover and solving the problem by having a morning drink to relieve his pain with the "drunk" being our economy. The "hangover" is our current financial crisis from years of fake economic prosperity fueled by sub-prime lending and people spending money they didn't have by borrowing. Finally, "solving the problem" is our federal government's deficit spending financed by more borrowing, saddling future generations of taxpayers with the responsibility to service the debt.

Just like a drunk who finally hits rock bottom and decides to change for the good with a lifetime of sobriety, our drunken economy needs to quit being intoxicated with borrowing as the means by which the good life is pursued. It needs to hit rock bottom with a recession or depression if needed as painful as it may be, then commit to financial sobriety economic principles, those that pave the way for real and sustained economic prosperity by stimulating productivity and personal savings with less government just like the "good old days".

I'm disappointed that our current political leaders and both major party Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates have lacked the courage to also point the blame finger at borrowers who obtained loans by overstating their income on loan applications, using the loan proceeds to buy overpriced homes, then defaulted on those loans when the going got tough. It's a safer soundbite to blame the financial institutions that made those loans.

If tightening credit markets makes borrowing more difficult so that only those with excellent credit qualify, then so be it. Isn't that the way it should be, just like the "old days"? The old days when people saved for major purchases and bought only when the cash was in hand.

That's how our parents and their parents did it generations ago, and that's what I learned as a kid and young man growing up. There's nothing fancy about it, just good old school economics 101.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

On the disabled list

Watch a professional baseball game on television and you’ll hear the sports announcer mention that so-and-so baseball player is on the disabled list. In Major League Baseball, the disabled list (DL) is a method for teams to remove injured players from their roster in order to summon healthy players. Players are placed on either the 15-day or the 60-day disabled list, usually depending on the severity and/or recovery time of the injury.

Well yesterday I placed myself on the 48-hour disabled list due to tibialis anterior muscle pain in my left shin. I made that “business decision” at about 30 minutes of my workout during the 7th set of squat snatch training, skipping the clean and jerks and front squats that I had planned to do.

No thanks to science classes I didn’t take in high school or college but rather Wikipedia, the free internet encyclopedia, I know that the tibialis anterior is a muscle in the shin that spans the length of the tibia. In my middle-age man limited anatomy vocabulary, “my left leg hurts in the shin area.”

An investigation is in progress to pinpoint the culprit of this pain. It may have been the brisk walking I’ve been doing, or it could have been last Friday’s Olympic weightlifting workout. I can't rule out last Saturday morning’s karate workout; but truth be told, it may be as simple as that I am a middle-age man wanna-be athlete, engaging in athletic activities that make me more prone to occasional injury. Whatever it is, as if it matters, I am injured.

Hopefully I’ll be ready to resume training Wednesday afternoon as I have things to do, places to see, events to enter and middle-age man fitness goals to achieve. There’s a planned weightlifting competition I want to enter in early November and yesterday was my 4th training day of a 16-day training plan to prepare for that competition.

So it’s rest, ice, compress and elevation, RICE for short, during my recovery. The faster I heal the sooner I can jump back on the fitness saddle. And while I am a middle-age man wanna-be-athlete without the fame, glory and multi-million dollar contract, I have something in common with that injured professional baseball player as we both sit on the sideline; we both are on the disabled list.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Kono Course

During the 1950's, from the time he won his first Olympic weightlifting gold medal in 1952, Tommy Kono was invincible. He was undefeated internationally until the 1960 Olympic Games, where he took a silver medal. He set a total of 26 world records in 4 weight classes. He also excelled in physique competitions as well, winning the Mr. World contest in 1954 and Mr. Universe contests in 1955, 1957, and 1961.

During an August 2007 visit to his birth town of Sacramento, Tommy Kono stayed as a guest in my home, and agreed to be interviewed by me for an article I wrote for an internet fitness forum website. Of the many questions I asked him, one was for his recommendations of a beginner weight-training routine with set and rep recommendations.

Mr. Kono outlined a workout he calls The Kono Course for increasing overall muscle size and strength. It consists of barbell exercises that concentrate on large muscle groups of the body and on exercises that call into play many muscle groups at one time.

The program is for a 3 days a week training frequency such as Monday, Wednesday and Friday, or Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

Here are the eight exercises that make up The Kono Course (I assume you are familiar with basic weightlifting exercises so an explanation of each is not provided):

(1) situps - 1 to 2 sets of 15 to 25 reps
(2) overhead press - 2 (later 3) sets of 8 to 12 reps
(3) upright rowing - 2 (later 3) sets of 8 to 12 reps
(4) bench press - 2 (later 3) sets of 8 to 12 reps
(5) bent over rowing - 2 (later 3) sets of 8 to 12 reps
(6) squats - 2 (gradually work up to 4) sets of 8 to 12 reps
(7) breathing pullover - alternate with squat exercise for 12 to 15 reps
(8) deadlift - 2 sets of 8 to 12 reps

Additional details of The Kono Course can be found in Mr. Kono’s book "Weightlifting, Olympic Style. The book costs $30.00 plus $5.00 for shipping within the U.S.A. To order, send a money order to: HKC (Hawaii Kono Company - Post Office Box 2192 - Aiea, HI 96701, USA.

If you have been looking for that new program to help you increase overall muscle size and strength, look no further because you have found it here, The Kono Course.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Never on Sunday

Today is Sunday. Take a moment to enjoy Never on Sunday by The Chordettes.

Visit Pierini Fitness for original blogflections published on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, but never on Sunday.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Always be her groom

On February 25, 1978 I said "I do" during an exchange of wedding vows with my wife and we have now been married for 30 years. On that blessed day, she was my bride and I was her groom, and that is how we are described on our marriage license.

But that was then and this is now because in May 2008, the California Supreme Court overturned a state ban on same-sex marriage in a four-to-three decision. New guidelines for the county clerks who issue marriage licenses require them to replace "bride" and "groom" on the license application with "party A" and "party B".

That doesn't sound right to me. How far will this go and what's next? A prohibition of the words man, woman, husband and wife? Imagine a conversation of two men in which one asks the other what his party B does for a living, or two women in which one asks the other if her party A came from a large family.

Will a bachelor now be known as a party A candidate, and a bachelorette a party B candidate? Or maybe it's the other way around. The new requirements do not provide any guidance. So maybe a bachelor could be either a party A candidate or party B candidate, the choice being his.

Will bridal showers be replaced with party B showers? And what about bride's maids; what shall we call them? How about party B helpers, do you like the way that sounds?

Every married middle-age man with the battle scars to prove it always remembers his bachelor party, but will this generation of men remember theirs? Maybe the term bachelor party will be as unfamiliar to them as the term icebox is to my generation. It may be more commonly known as party A candidate party, a little too wordy for me.

And what about "middle-age man", my prestigious title that I display with honor and pride. I will not let anyone tell me that I've got to call myself a middle-age party A.

With God's grace, I look forward to the day in which my wife and I celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary, a coveted accomplishment in today's disposable spouse lifestyle, but first we have some work to do, to fix this nonsense that has creeped into our lives.

Fortunately, voters in California will have an opportunity to vote YES on a constitutional amendment, known as Proposition 8, which would override this court decision. The measure will appear on the 2008 California general election ballot this November.

I'm voting YES for Proposition 8 so women can be women, men can be men, brides can be brides, grooms can be grooms, wives can be wives and husbands can be husbands. Whether it passes or not, my wife will always be my bride and I will always be her groom.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, October 3, 2008

That's the isometric truth

In my fitness journey, I tried isometric exercise training and found it to be challenging and effective. I didn't stick with an isometric program very long since it didn't match my personality. I found it difficult to know if I was really exerting my maximum effort and preferred, instead, exercise methods that gave me a more objective measure of my effort expended.

Isometric exercises strengthen a particular muscle by tightening, holding and then relaxing it, all without moving the joint. Contrast isometric exercises with isotonic exercises, such as pushups and pullups, which require actual movement.

Examples of isometric exercises include (1) holding a weight in a motionless state or maintaining a static position. For example, holding dumbbells out to the side in the crucifix position. A bodyweight example would be to hold a static position hanging from a pull-up bar, and (2) the act of pushing or pulling against a stationary object. For example, pushing against a wall involves an isometric contraction. No movement takes place, as the wall is immovable.

John Peterson, author of Isometric Power Revolution, describes a classic isometric contraction as the willful contraction of a specific muscle or muscle group against an immovable force, object, or another muscle group at ultra-high intensity. In other words, no movement is possible. Peterson provides the following description of a pectoral classic isometric contraction:

"Stand erect with your feet about 12” apart. Clasp your hands . . . with the fingers of your right hand in the top position between the thumb and forefinger of your left hand. Extend your elbows outward and slightly away from your chest. Press your hands firmly against each other wile slowly building tension as you inhale for 3 to 4 seconds until you reach maximum contraction. At that point, slowly begin a controlled exhale for 7 to 12 seconds while maintaining a maximum muscular contraction. Then slowly release the tension as you inhale deeply for 3 to 4 seconds. Relax. Take 7 to 10 deep power breaths . . . . “

Here is a video demonstration of this exercise:

I seldom do isometric exercises these days, but I don't doubt their effectiveness. And that's the isometric truth.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Reading the obits

It's a daily ritual for most elderly people to read obituaries (obits) and funeral notices in the morning newspaper. Those who are native of the city or town whose newspaper they read are almost guaranteed a regular find, a discovery that an old school classmate, long-lost acquaintance, or friend of the family has gone to greener pastures.

Middle-age men like me read them too, each morning come rain or shine.

No longer a subscriber to my local newspaper, I now get my news by reading an online version on the internet each morning. It's a much more abbreviated reading than the days in which I "read the paper", but it gets the job done and is fast. There's a predictable order I follow in my cyberspace read. First I start with the local news, then sports, then business, then politics, and finally the obits and funeral notices.

Scanning the obits and notices in a flurry, I remind myself of how my wife shops for a dress at a bargain department store as she moves the dresses quickly from left to right on the rack from which they hang, except I scan from top to bottom in alphabetical order. Just like her, I am looking for a find, something I can call my own, the name of someone I knew. And like her, sometimes I come up empty and other times I make a find.

Last week I had a find when the name of Larry O appeared. Larry O had passed away at the too-young-to-be-true age of 52 years. We ran around together in our middle school years until our paths changed directions. Larry O carried a big cross in his life called addiction and it took a big toll on him and his family. He struggled most of his adult life and was finally conquering his demons and figuring things out right before he died. I had a chance to talk to his siblings and an adult son at his service, to share with them the Larry O I knew, and tell them I would be praying for them. It made me feel good and hopefully it did them too. Rest in peace Larry O until we meet again.

Reading the obits and funeral notices is something I like to do. Probably because it takes me down memory lane, a time when life seemed simpler and more youthful. But it also is a stark reminder that with each breath of life I take is one less breath left in my life, the reality than I'll eventually get my turn just like Larry O.

And that is good because it keeps me honest, to not take life for granted, nor the lives of anyone else. To be the best I can today, tomorrow, and each and every day for the rest of my life. It does me so much good that I'll keep doing it - spending each morning reading the obits.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Coming up short

A goal of mine for September was to walk 100 miles and I wrote about it in my September 1st blogflection here:

Well the month is over and I only walked 66 miles, missing my goal by a whopping 34 miles.

So where did I go wrong to come up short?

I started off strong even though I didn’t walk on the first day of the month. The next day however I walked 4 miles, the start of an 11 day walking blitz before taking a rest. At mid-month I was at 45 miles, within striking distance of my 100-mile goal.

Then I started to miss walking days as a "work" mindset started to settle in my mind. An upcoming weightlifting competition convinced me to rest so I didn't walk for 5 consecutive days. Then, feeling “pressure”, I resumed walking after the competition and banged out a staggering 10 miles on September 21st, bring my total to 55 miles for the month. At that point I thought I would be good for 75 miles by month-end. That 10-mile day, however, dampened my drive and I took the next 3 days off, then only managed a single mile on the next day. Then another day off and I was running out of time. I closed the month out with 10 miles on the last 3 days of the month.

So I ended with 66 miles. In elementary school that would have been 66 percent on a test, giving me a D letter grade at best. Beats an F grade I guess. On a brighter note, several of my walks were with my wife in the evening. While the pace was slower, the company was great.

October is a new month and a chance to set another goal, one that is a little more realistic. A 75-mile goal sound reasonable to me so that is what it will be.

Well I missed my goal and I’m a little disappointed because I don’t like coming up short.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum