That’s Entertainment, Sadly…

Kind of like Donnie and Marie out there today. Overall the weather wasn’t a little bit country nor a little bit rock ‘n’ roll, but it was a little bit spring in a little bit winter. Identifying the potential for both, I dressed accordingly and had a great ride.

Was chewing on the idea of celebrity journalists today — and left kind of a bad taste in my mouth.

As soon as you tell me you’re a fan of the journalist (fill in the blank) __________ ______________, your political opinion and my perceptiopn of your acumen might slip a bit.

It’s not that I don’t want to participate in conversation with you or that I don’t value your opinion, it’s just that as soon as we become fans of journalists, journalism itself suffers.

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I don’t care if you’re a fan of Rachel Maddow on one side, Tucker Carlson on the other or any of the countless talking heads who give journalism a bad name on cable TV.

And let’s make the distinction between journalist and on-air personality. I might use those terms interchangeably here, because most everyone else seems to these days, but a journalist and an on-air personality are not necessarily the same.

Both the right and the left are well represented with people who wish to sway the story by use of the inflection and drama they conjure when presenting the story.

It’s easy to sway the opinion of the curious or the unknowing by using the dramatic pause, the loud emphasis of a word, by using hand and arm gestures or by making a snarky comment about a person involved in the story. And ever-present in this type of reporting, are the almost obligatory eye rolls when speaking of the other side..

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Of course, attempting to sway a story is as old as journalism itself. This is just much easier to do in broadcast journalism. These behaviors can clearly influence our perception of a story much more than if we simply read it.

These traits of on-air presentation seem, to me anyway, to have never been worse or more widespread. Broadcast journalism has become the lowest form of entertainment programming.

If we are so insistent with one another that investigations of facts need to be accurate, well-checked and put through an ardent series of filters, why do we embrace the presenters for undermining all of that with their drama…?

Because it’s entertainment, and we should at least admit that. Cable news is nothing more than Skid Row theater.

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Each morning after I wake, I quickly scan and correlate the headlines of the most pressing stories from several online news sources. I do this to ensure there is no missile headed my way and to see whether or not the capital building has been set on fire yet. After that, I ignore the world within the box because I know that, above all, they’re not trying to inform me, they are trying to sway me.

Being a fan of or following a specific journalist undermines what journalism is about. Honestly, in my opinion, it’s a big part of the problem.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Today’s Ride…

Bike: Tang
23 miles
1,300’ climbing
15.9 mph avg
1,500 calories
Today’s earworm: Five String Serenade, by Mazzy Star

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. Oh, and there is this from Mazzy Star. Enjoy…!

Flip, Flop, Fly…

Flip, Flop, Fly…

I don’t talk about it too often with too many, but I live with the a great deal of anxiety, depression and sadness. It does not represent most of my waking hours, but it shows up daily. If I divided my days into quarters, I can honestly say that it shows up at least once per quarter.

Where this comes from, I can’t really say. I only know that it’s been there as long as I can remember. I have memories as far back as the 3rd grade when the weight of the world seemed so heavy, and when sadness could work its way into me so suddenly, that the darkest closet in the house was always the best hiding place.

And I have lived with this my entire life.

Don’t get me wrong, I am well aware of and well appreciate the richness of my life. Most of my waking hours are content at minimum, and often quite heightened. The home in which I live, the structure of my days, and all the blessings and all the opportunities which surround me each day are more than I could have ever hoped for as a child. I am as grateful for all of this as I am aware of it.

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Rarely though, goes a morning, an afternoon or an evening in which all that goodness and all the wonder that constructs my life isn’t pushed away by the sudden winds of sadness and depression. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

And as immediately as my depression taps me on the shoulder and announces itself, I think — oh no, here we go again. But I hunker down, board up the windows to my mind and soul, and wait for the storm to pass. And it always passes…

Physical movement has most often been my antidote for this. Though it has never made the root of the problem go away, physical movement has been as effictive in treating the symptoms my depression as any narcotic or liquid, prescribed or otherwise.

So when people suggest to me that I could take a day off of riding, that I miss a workout or that it’s alright to forgo my daily walk, what they are really telling me is that it’s okay (with them) to skip my medicine and to let my symptoms linger longer.

That’s not okay. That’s never okay.

These days, as much as anything, and within the chaos of the world, it’s the hate, anger, rage and ignorance exchanged between others that puts me there. The world doesn’t have an on/off switch. If it did — if I could just turn off the ignorance and abusive attitudes of others, I would. I can’t though, so I keep moving.

And for anyone reading who might be one of those people who regularly throws around the hate, the anger, the rage or the ignorance, and even if you do so with the best of intentions, please be aware of the unintended casualties, I might just be one of them, and there are many others, just like me.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Today’s Ride…

Bike: Vasudeva
22 miles
1,200’ climbing
16.3 mph avg
1,400 calories
Today’s earworm: All Things Must Pass, by George Harriso (tastefully covered here by Ween)

Howdy, Neighbor…

I went out for 19 miles today. Forgot which course I was doing and ended up riding 31. True story. No intentions of going that far, just did. Too tired for the weight room tonight.

I walked the mammal early this morning. We came across a homeless man with all the obvious signs of meth amphetamine abuse. Still, we had a nice conversation.

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As I approached him, I said ‘howdy neighbor’. That’s a habit I’ve gotten in more recently. Despite that they live under bridges and in the bushes, the homeless in my community are still my neighbors. It’s amazing the dignity a homeless person displays once you refer to him or her as neighbor.

He had two bags of recycling with him, a small sleeping roll, a cell phone with a cracked screen, as well as a visible lighter and pipe. He looked like he hadn’t showered or bathed in a few days.

After my dog approached him and received a few scratches behind ears, the man told me about his poodle who died back in 2016. The man had been a forklift driver and told me that his poodle spent all day on the forklift with him, and did this for years.

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Bella…

He never mentioned whether it was a teacup, toy, miniature or standard poodle. I envisioned teacup, because it makes a better story. 2016 wasn’t that long ago though, so gathering aluminum cans and plastic bottles wasn’t his original career path.

He smiled a lot, spoke clearly, and despite the razor stubble and gaunt look, he had clear eyes and was quite present in our conversation. I honestly felt like I might have been talking to a stockbroker had I closed my eyes and just listened to his voice.

We talked about how therapeutic having a dog close by can be. I explained that I work from home and that my dog is also near me for most of the day. The word ‘comforting’ came up between us a couple of times each.

He wished me a happy new year, I did the same and we parted ways.

In a strange sense, that was the highlight of my day. Perhaps because I thought it might’ve been the highlight of his day — the touch of a dog and a passerby who didn’t seem afraid of him.

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I love my water bottles…

I call the path I saw him on, The Burrito Trail, since I often take a bag of burritos down there on Saturday or Sunday mornings for my neighbors who also call the bushes and the bridges of this trail home.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

Today’s Ride…

Bike: Bella
31 miles
1,500’ climbing
16.2 mph avg
2,100 calories
Today’s earworm: Lost In The Supermarket, by The Clash

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me this week. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. Oh, and there is this from The Clash.  Enjoy…!

Ritual Vs Routine…

When I ride each day, at least a couple of times, often early on, I think to myself…

Well, here I go again. Routine.

On the surface that might seem like an acknowledgment of drudgery, but it’s not. It’s an acknowledgment to prepare for ritual. And that’s the thing about routine — it can often seem like drudgery until it’s converted to ritual. That takes place in the noggin.

Lighting a candle and saying a prayer we think of as ritual.

Setting up the coffee pot before bed, cleaning the toilet or even exercise, we consider routine.

The older I get, the more Confucian I become.

Ritual and routine are the glue and the mortar that have held societies together for millennia.   They also serve to keep individuals centered.

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There is a blurry line between the ideals of ritual and routine. One might argue that ritual is more rooted in reverence, while routine is rooted in obligation. To me, the words are intertwined —synonymous, though I prefer the term ritual and I use it most often when it comes to doing things on a regular basis.

When one hour bleeds into the next, when the lines that separate the days blur and when I’m not so sure what month I am in  due to my immersion in the mundane, I attempt to triangulate my position by whatever ritual I might be engaged in at the time.   Pretty soon, I know where I am and why.

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If I am fortunate, and I most always am, my days are constructed from one ritual extending right into the next, all day long. And whatever might seem like drudgery — routine to me; housework, bookkeeping, even personal hygiene, I try to embrace those tasks as ritual, thus keeping them more reverent.

And if whatever ritual I might be involved in at a given time is executed with a little bit of intelligence, discretion and care, a positive outcome will most often be the result, as well as a sense of higher purpose.

There’s a fine line between ritual and routine, and I’ve eliminated the guesswork by considering all of it ritual.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

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Today’s Ride…

Bike: Bomer The Kreeps
29 miles
1,325’ climbing
16.6 mph avg
2,000 calories
Today’s earworm: The End Is Not In Sight (Amazing Rhythm Aces)

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me this week. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. Oh, and there is this from The Amazing Rhythm Aces… Enjoy…!

The Child People…

I like my rides like I like my coffee — cold, dark, and rich. Cold was the air. Dark was the sky. And rich were my thoughts.

Was very fixated on the childish behavior of people tonight.

When Siddhartha leaves the city, and when he meets up once again with Govinda, he refers to those he left behind as “the child people”.

The child people, in this case, were those who pursued money, lust, material things, power and position. The city was full of them. 

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Siddhartha, having succeeded in playing their game, and having done so better than most, walked away from the child people and the city empty handed and completely unfulfilled despite his perceived success there. He then willingly stepped into a life of nothing.

On my bike, alone with my thoughts in the dark, cold air, and drawn deep into my rhythm as my breath matched the strides of my legs in equal portion, and as I look around at the cars, the well-lit homes, and the scurrying of those about me, I realized I am surrounded by the child people. Notwithstanding, all of those child people on social media.

Born into this world, with no say in the ZIP Code in which I landed, I have seldom felt at home here.  Little desire have I, for all the things which the child people pursue each day, and even less of an appetite do I have for the manner in which those things are pursued. 

Perhaps this daily ride — this rolling meditation, is best way to escape from the ZIP Code in my head, even if I can’t leave the ZIP Code in which I live. 

This is what I think about when I ride…

Tonight’s Ride…

Bike: Bomer The Kreeps

24 miles

1,100’ climbing

16.8 mph avg

1,600 calories

Tonight’s earworm: Yonder, by Donna The Buffalo

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me this week. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. Oh, and there is this from Donna The Buffalo. Enjoy…!

Soar With Eagles…

A song isn’t who wrote it or who sings it. A song, simply put, is what it does for you and how it might change you.

It won’t be popular to say this, but the death of Glenn Frey a couple of years back impacted me more than any other celebrity death. The reason why is simple. In his passing, and with the deep sadness I felt that day, I had to admit I am both a Glenn Frey and an Eagles fan.

In a strange way, that’s almost like it admitting I’m Jewish.

And when I think about all the deep, all the complicated, and all the intricate and well orchestrated music that I’ve been exposed to in my life from the masters — Wagner, Chopin, Souza, Guthrie, Zappa, Newman and so many more, I feel a hint of shame to suggest that Glenn Frey co-wrote one of the most formative songs I’ve ever heard.

A simple pop song.

By formative, I mean a song that changed the way I think, act and look at others, ongoing.

Glenn Frey and his band The Eagles are easy to criticize and easier to dismiss. People who claim to have more sophisticated taste in music keep The Eagles near the top of their list of bands to mock and belittle.

That song that Frey co-wrote and that has influenced me so much is not important. What is important, and why I write this, is that if a song moves you — moves you to the point of opening your eyes and softening your heart, and if it stays with you for decades and truly changes you, it shouldn’t matter who wrote it. It shouldn’t matter how poppy it is.

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What should matter most is that the gift of art did exactly what it is supposed to do — impact another soul and in a positive way.

So on this first day of 2019, I sit watching the sunrise through my shaded windows, with my mammal on my lap, my family asleep in the next room, and I admit proudly that I am an Eagles fan and that I consider Glenn Frey one of those masters…. Jhciacb

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me this week. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. Oh, and there is this from Glenn Frey. Enjoy…!

2018 By The Numbers…

Bikes ridden: 7
7,544 miles
497,000 calories
395,000’ climbing
15.4 mph avg
Most Reoccurring Earworm: Here Comes The Sun

Wishing everyone a happy, healthy, and a safe New Year…