I’ll Tell Ya What I’m Watchin’ on My Telly (Part 1)

Liike many people during this time of mandated respite I’ve found solace in a program of the filmed entertainments, or two (or ten). When I’m not biking, walking, writing, doing yoga, eating, sleeping, or reading, I enjoy some downtime streaming on the old boob tube, the small screen, the idiot box. I call it my digital storytelling portal. (Not really, I just made that up, but it’s not half bad.) Anyway, I’m appreciate the art — especially the writing — that goes into these shows. Herewith are some of what I’ve been enjoying (sans spoilers).

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The Coronacles of Blarneya, Part I

2020 was to be the year of plenty. For me, I was planning for better health, a tolerable job, and a decent and steady place to live. I hoped to create a stronger body, smarter mind, better relationships and improved community. Instead, I’m like everyone else — suffering and struggling through absurd days that seemed unimaginable two months ago (outside of the movies). Wearing masks, cowering in our houses staying away from people, anxious about what’s next is how it is now. Life in the time of COVID-19 can be described by the lesser known, more derogatory use of the word for an Irish town with a famous castle and stone. Parts of me come from somewhere over there in Eire. Point is, it’s a bunch of blarney. Uh.

Despite trying not to, we constantly consume the mostly bad news, like massive unemployment and poverty raising its ugly head to bite more people every day. Most of all, there’s the very palpable and justifiable fear of painful death that might be lurking in the shadows, possibly coming for people we care about and even ourselves. Over 2.6 million people have become infected and 183,000 have died, all in less than a sporting season. All this from a tiny microscopic virus that’s invisible to the naked eye. We know this is happening and try as we might to look away, we have yet to fully comprehend and make sense of it. Every day, Dorothy Parker’s question is worth asking: “What fresh hell is this?” There is no manual, but there is blog.

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10 Pros and 10 Cons of Coronavirus Bicycling

I cannot remember a lot about the time I think we’ll start calling B.C. — Before Coronavirus. It wasn’t that long ago in late February and early March when times were pretty good, if not care-free amazeballs with wonderment and splendor. We could shake hands, hug people, go to restaurants, and ride our bikes in gangs. Now we’re wearing masks, avoiding each other, eating canned food, growing our hair out and getting cabin fever. Be that as it may, life goes on, but it’s hardly recognizable in many ways. Bicycling is still allowed here in Austin, Texas, fortunately, so during my daily rides I’ve noticed a few things. Well, 20 things, to be exact. So I’ve compiled them into this handy list of the Pros and Cons of Bicycling Through the Pandemapocalypse.

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Frederic Chopin’s Classical Music: The Soundtrack to My Bike Ride

Before you read this, if you can, put on your favorite streaming service, CD or album (or imagine) something by Frédéric Chopin. Something like Nocturne No.2 In E Flat, Op. 9 No. 2 performed by Vladimir Ashkenazy from Chopin: Favourite Piano Works. Because that’s what I’m listening to as I write this, and the music seems perfectly suited to my ride and state of mind. Given that it was a grey Friday evening in Austin, Texas after some light rain had fallen, and the pandemic stay at home order, traffic was extremely light.

The surreal experience of biking down Austin’s main street, Congress Avenue, with hardly any traffic put me in a reflective mood. Cue Chopin, that master of the melancholy from France by way of Poland. His quieter works may not get your RPM up very high, but they put your mind in a calm and meditative place. And that’s not a bad head space to be in these days, biking or otherwise.

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Another Chat with Sophie the Fairdale, Who Just Turned 10,000 (Miles)

Back on June 18, 2018, I wrote a post I called “An Imagined Chat with Sophie, My Fairdale Weekender Archer Bicycle.” Over the last three years, she and I have traveled a fair piece — to put it mildly and modestly. Now that it’s reflected in the Strava statistics of 10,000 miles, though, it is official. To commemorate and celebrate this major milestone in our journey, I asked Ms. S. if she’d fancy another chat, and she said sure. Weird, right? Well, things are pretty strange, these days. But I think you’ll enjoy this (imaginary? real? does it matter?) chat with Sophie.

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180 Days in a Row of Bicycling = 3,622 Miles

Three months ago today, I wrote a blog titled What’s It Like to Bike 90 Days in a Row for a Total of 1,985 Miles? Adding 2020’s mileage thus far, 1,677, I come up with a sum of 3,662 miles. That, my friends, is just over 20 miles a day. So how fitting that quite by accident I finished a ride today for just that amount? I didn’t set out to bike every day, but once I get an idea in my head, it’s like the proverbial bee in a bonnet. It flits about looking for a way to express itself. It either flies away or stings you. Biking a lot can do both.

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Gratitude Journaling: Helpful Tool or Waste of Time?

You’ve probably heard this advice from well-meaning magazine articles, self-help gurus, or spiritual advisers. Maybe you’ve even accepted it as the gospel truth: cultivate an attitude of gratitude, and it will change your brain, make you a happier, better-sleeping, nicer person who can leap tall buildings in a single bound, yada yada. Google it and up comes all manner of scientific studies proving it to be true. But is it? I mean, it seems like a no-brainer, right? Simply write things down you’re grateful for every day and through the magic power of gratitude your life will be better. Well, wait just a minute there. I’m going to call bullshit. Or at least for a time-out.

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2.25 Years of Daily Walking, Yoga, Writing and Food Changes

After committing to try these practices on January 1, 2018, I’m continuing to do them. That’s 30 minutes a day (or more, especially writing) for each activity. (I started doing a half hour of yoga every day on December 4, 2013.) I think I missed one or two walks which were more than made up for by days with two walks or longer days of over 10,000 steps. As for what I eat, that’s probably more like a 95% success rate at eliminating processed grains. This is on top of biking which has been every day since last October 11.

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In a World, Not Too Far Away…

A mysterious disease has ravaged Planet Earth’s once-dominant species, Homo sapiens, wiping out hundreds of millions. Survivors pick up the pieces and begin a movement for a new society. Fossil fuels and internal combustion engines ceased to exist. Even electric cars were no more. The much vaunted high technology — which many people worshiped as an omnipotent deity — mostly failed. A huge electromagnetic pulse triggered by financial and staffing meltdowns decimated the electrical grid.

Humans had no choice but to return to a mostly agrarian existence, as nature began to reclaim the silent concrete in cities. Park land, rooftops and abandoned big box stores were harnessed to grow food. In order to survive, humans had to unlearn many of their modern, urban bad habits. They learned how to live in harmony with the land, sea and skies which they had raped, pillaged and burned for so long in a greedy chase of profits and wealth. Cooperation and collaboration were the new ethos. Unsurprising to those who had been riding them, bicycles became the primary form of transport.

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