Bookends Of Idiocy…

“When I watch television, I well understand why Arabs fly jets into our skyscrapers…“ Me

At the age of 90, my mom divides her time between reading, doing puzzle books, and watching television. And even when she’s reading and working her puzzles, the television is always on in the background. 

Mom doesn’t care what’s on television so much, she just enjoys having background noise and some company around that’s not named Roy. The only shows that are required watching each day are Dr. Phil, Wheel Of Fortune, and Jeopardy. Dr. Phil and Wheel do little for me, but I’ll admit I occasionally enjoy watching Jeopardy, Final Jeopardy in particular. 

I spend most of my day working with clients in my fitness studio. When I’m not in sessions, I sit with mom on the sofa and make small talk while she watches Let’s Make A Deal, The Bold And The Beautiful, Judge Judy, and the like. I attempt to ignore the idiocy of such shows, but it’s hard to ignore a fat man in a bumblebee costume hoping Wayne Brady gives him the brand new Chevy Volt and not the donkey.

Sometimes it’s all too much for me.

When I hear Judge Judy condescending to the white trash in her faux courtroom, as though she’s actually making a difference in the world, I might ask my dog to snuff me out with a pillow later, after I fall asleep…

“Make sure you get a good seal around my nose and mouth, Stroodle, then press real hard. When daddy’s lungs quit moving in and out, you’ll know you did a good job…“

He looks at me quizzically, but I think deep down he gets it. Mom, I think, understands it’s a joke.

I haven’t owned a television myself since 2005. The television in the living room belongs to my mom. Certainly if one has a laptop or a smartphone today, they are in possession of some kind of television. I use my laptop to watch documentaries on Netflix and Amazon Prime, and I watch lectures and interviews on YouTube, but I don’t consider that television, I consider it education light.

Before I ride my bike though, and when I return, I also spent time with my mom sitting and watching whatever she’s watching. Those are the bookends of my daily rides. Idiocy before I go out, idiocy when I return, and trying to make sense of any of it as I push my body through the hills and past the groves of this community. 

I occasionally harken back to a moment from my childhood — my dad stood silently in the corner of the room as I was watching Gilligan’s Island after school one day…

“I’ve never seen such idiocy…!” He screamed.

“Stupid. Stupid. Stupid…!“

I still remember how insulted I was by that and how demeaning I thought it was. It sticks with me all these years later. Nobody wants to be called stupid by their father. In hindsight, I can see now that he wasn’t calling me stupid, he was calling television stupid. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

There will come a day when mom is no longer around. I’ll give her television to a family member or to person in need. A part of me will miss it because it’s one of the few things we’ve been able to do together, especially during these stay-at-home times. What I won’t miss though, is the idiocy that beams out of it all day long. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

This is what I think about when I ride…Jhciacb 

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7

Miles: 203

Climbing: 9,100’

Mph Avg: 15.4

Calories: 11,600

Seat Time: 13 hours 18 minutes

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. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this Chuck Prophet. Enjoy…

Daily Nonsense Cap And Trade…

A big part of my riding is to offset the time I spend connected to the electronic world. Scrolling through social media, watching television, and streaming videos is what I refer to as my ’daily nonsense’. Nonsense, inasmuch as it does nothing to promote a better world and even less to create a better life for me personally. Electronic entertainment is among the cheapest and easiest forms of amusement — it’s the ultimate act of taking without giving.


I first understood the idea of offsetting my inactivity when I was 14. My brother, four years older, had left for college and my father found me in front of the television increasingly. Until that point, having an older brother often kept me active and away from the TV. My brother and I shot baskets together, built snow caves, rode bikes, and we regularly walked along a foot trail near our house where we just talked about life. We ice-skated, swam, and played a lot of pickup football. With my brother gone to college, my activity partner was gone. After my brother left for college, my father noticed me watching television much more.

Dad did what he could to discourage my TV habit, but he also traveled a great deal and my mom was less concerned. By that point, I even had a television in my bedroom and I kept it going most of the time. One evening my father entered my room and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse…

He explained that he was going to monitor my television habits and require me to spend an equal amount of time reading or engaged in outdoor activities. I could watch as much television as I wanted, he explained, but for every hour of TV, I had do some combination of something physical or read books.

Guess what I clung to most…?

Although he tried to emphasize the reading part of the deal, at that point it was clear that I was reading challenged, so he was content to let me play outside or ride my bike in equal portion to the television I watched. He even tracked my activity with a tablet of graph paper and a grease pencil on a clipboard he attached to his office door. This only lasted or a few months, but it was long enough that it became a habit. By the time my brother returned for the summer after his first year of college, I was probably spending more time on my bike or shooting baskets than in front of the television.

What can I say…? Habits learned through adolescence tend to stick, or at least have the potential to be reawakened later in life.

There’s a lot of talk these days about net-zero carbon emissions. In the business world, companies like Delta Airlines are taking massive steps to offset their carbon footprint in hopes of achieving net-zero carbon status by a certain date. Cap and trade is a hot topic in the business world and among world governments. Step lightly with our carbon footprints, they say, and fill them in as soon and as completely as possible.

One could make an argument that I’m a digital media whore. I spend time daily writing for this blog, my Spoke And Word Page on Facebook, a fair amount of time scrolling through other peoples’ nonsense, and at night I watch a lot of YouTube videos on philosophy, religion, music, and cycling. I call this my ‘nonsense footprint’. It may not be as damaging to the world as a carbon footprint, but then again it might.

So I do my best, each day, to offset my nonsense footprint. I do what I did when I was a kid — I spend a lot of time outside, in equal portion to the time I spend with my nonsense. Of course I ride my bike, but I also walk twice daily, I spend time tending my gardens, and in-between clients sessions, I sit on my patio and stare at the trees and at the sky with my hands and mind free of nonsense. Although I use an audio format, I also listen to books daily for at least one hour, usually when I’m gardening or in the weight-room.

I think this is a good way to be. Though I enjoy streaming videos, scrolling through other peoples’ nonsense, and watching Dan Rather interview musicians on AXS TV, I make sure that I detach from it all, offsetting my nonsense footprint.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This Week By The Numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7
194 miles
8,900’ climbing
14.9 mph avg
11,000 calories
13 hours 01 minute seat time

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. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this from Steve Earle. Enjoy…