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Old 07-28-04, 09:23 AM   #1
pdxcyclist
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Okay, the underground sprinkler system is the last straw.

Friends, colleagues, family members all insist I need to install an underground sprinkler system. Pulling around a sprinkler in the front and back yard is just too time consuming and retro. I need to dig little trenches and get battery-operated timers, and...

... and in the morning at 5 a.m., I hear the neighbors' underground sprinklers flare into life, seemingly every morning, even if it's raining.

Meanwhile, the cycling thing is confusing to them. Why would I ride in the rain? Why ride in dirt? Why go climb ridges for four hours and come home sweaty and wasted? Why ride to work 4-5 days a week, and then ride more on the weekend?

Instead, I could be focusing on a sprinkler system. And better deck furniture and umbrellas. And a better BBQ. And a home theatre system. And maybe an at-home keg system. And a better, more comfortable car.

You likely see where this is going. It seems like I could spend all my time working on improving the quality of my comforts, and getting more time to lounge around. It's as if one's life should be working, getting stressed out, and then lounging and eating and drinking in the most maximized comfort zones possible at home. Under umbrellas on the deck in comfy deck furniture with marine-grade foam in the cushions.

I'm beginning to think that supersized fast food has little to do with obesity in the US. The real problem is comfort addiction. We justify sloth by way of stress, and we focus too many efforts on more and more comfort. We spend way too much time avoiding discomfort (cycling in rain, heat, hills, for example), and as a result we don't get any physical exercise that really warrants so much comfort and recovery time afterwards. Yet, the seeming need for more comfort, and more beer and bbq, never seems to stop.

And the sprinklers pop up on their own and water the yard.

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Old 07-28-04, 09:34 AM   #2
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You've hit the nail on the head. People eating and drinking the wrong things, and not getting proper exercise has ranked the U.S. up there as one of the fattests countries in the world. I'm no expert in nutrition or physiology, but I believe that people get sedentary in their life, they come home after work . . . .exhausted, . . . . grow in physical girth, and wonder why they can't fit in the clothes they have in their closet anymore. Then they may use the excuse, "Well, I really need to exercise, but I just can't seem to find the time to do it, and when I do, I'm just too tired."

Yes, comforts have come a long way. You don't even have to shut the sliding side door yourself on some newer minivans. How many fad crap diets do you see on TV that say you can loose weight with no effort, without breaking a sweat, or even while sleeping?

Good post!

PS Sweating is a good thing!
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Old 07-28-04, 10:13 AM   #3
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I agree. I was one of those people that "couldn't find time to exersize" even though I sat in front the TV or computer "winding down" for 3-4 hours a night. After I sold my car and desided to not buy a new one, so I made that half hour a day commute to and from work my time to get some activity into my life. It's only 5-10 miles a day during the week, but it's better than before. Plus, I ride a bit more on the weekends. I think I've lost about 8 pounds since I've started riding regularly 4 months ago. 50lbs to go! hehehe
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Old 07-28-04, 10:18 AM   #4
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Great post. I think the crux of the biscuit is the amount of time we Americans spend at work. Another thing I've noticed that may be related is the tendancy to identify one's self by one's career a lot of people seem to have. Do a lot of Europeans do this? Maybe some forum member can answer that one...
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Old 07-28-04, 10:29 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Buzzbomb
Great post. I think the crux of the biscuit is the amount of time we Americans spend at work. Another thing I've noticed that may be related is the tendancy to identify one's self by one's career a lot of people seem to have. Do a lot of Europeans do this? Maybe some forum member can answer that one...
most of the europeans i've talked to tend to identify themselves less with their jobs and more with hobbies and interests. in a broad, oversweeping statement, i'd say europeans are a lot more interesting to talk to than americans.
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Old 07-28-04, 11:47 AM   #6
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I see where you're going - but the problem isn't with the "stuff" - so much as it is the mentality that makes people acquire stuff just to have it.

What if someone was to build their own deck? Or make a hobby of building deck furniture? Or they build a BBQ and install their own at-home keg system? Then it's not about the "stuff" - it's about the project of the stuff...a challenge and pride.

I built my own 75-gallon aquarium stand, entertainment center, coffee table, kitchen table, gun display case, and outdoor bench. As an apartment dweller, there isn't much else I could build that would fit in my home...but when I'm a homeowner you can bet I'll do everything myself. Ultimately, I could care less if my TV was in a nice entertainment center or sitting on the floor - but I love the hobby and it gives me great pride to build things like that with my own hands.
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Old 07-28-04, 12:16 PM   #7
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Don't even try to explain because they'll never understand. My wife and I are going on a week-long bicycling vacation next week. My mother-in-law is sure that I must have hypnotised my wife to get her to do such a stressful thing. Incidentally, my mother-in-law's idea for training for a bicycling vacation would not include any riding. She'd train by getting extra sleep to "rest up."

Forget the lawn sprinkler system. Buy yourself at least a $4,000 road bike and be sure to tell your neighbor what it cost. Show him the sales slip so he'll know that you're not lying. After his heart attack you'll be able to buy his house, complete with lawn sprinkler, cheap.
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Old 07-28-04, 12:31 PM   #8
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It's hard to tell if your frustration is more with the "comfort addiction" or with your "Friends, colleagues and family members. I would venture to say that everyone in this country as well as most other flourishing countries, is addicted to comfort. I would even venture to say that most people in third world countries as well as many animals are addicted to at least the pursuit of comfort.

The difference is that here in the USA, we have mastered the art of "comfort." We have taken comfort to new levels that in a nutshell is pretty incredible. I'm typing on a laptop that is connected to a wireless router and i can carry it anywhere in my house and access the net. That is pretty comfortable and i like it. I also like my remote control lighting, surveillance cameras, and yes, even my deck and sprinkler system. The air conditioning, running water, electricity, soft bed, carpet and other items are nice too.

The pursuit of comfort is what drives beings to do better and work harder. We just happen to be at a time and place in history where the hard work of previous people has placed us in a place of comfort. I for one am greatful because i don't think there is anything wrong with being comfortable.

THat is what brings me back to my original point. I think you are more frustrated by the fact that your friends and family are trying to pressure you into doing something that they feel is important. They think that the sprinkler system and big deck and stuff is what you need because that makes them feel better about having the same values. It is a lot like peer pressure. However, it is probably rare that you try and pressure them into cycling. They would likely just laugh and call you a nut.

I know where you are coming from. I used to get a lot more of that crap than i do now. Now after a period of time it seems like people are accepting my cycling compulsion. At family get togethers i used to get a lot of jabs and seemingly made fun of. This last week we got together at a siblings for a swimming weekend. This time was different. I don't know if it was the fact that i looked lean and mean in the swim trunks (i have to admit that it wasn't hard to tell who is the cyclist in the pool) or the fact that i brought my bike along this time and they saw me ride.

I think it might be the latter, because two of them did humble me and go for a ride with me. My 16 year old nephew, who is in good shape rode the entire 25 miles with me. It was hard to go slow enough for him to keep up but i tried. He got a real good appreciation for what i do every day.

Anyway, it must have made an impression, because i talked to my sister 4 days later and she said everyone had been riding their bikes. My other nephew that is 17, wasn't even around or paying attention (or so i thought) all weekend but my sister said he had ridden 10 miles every day. I never even knew he was watching me.

Anyway, i don't think that "comfort addiction" has much to do with cycling or not cycling. I think it has a lot more to do with simple laziness or the desire or lack thereof to exercise.
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Old 07-28-04, 01:39 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Ranger
It is a lot like peer pressure.
I wholeheartedly disagree with that statement. Its not like peer pressure.


It is peer pressure.

I drive older cars, always have. Can't afford more than that. I have a small TV. I have simple things. I ride a bike to work. I live a rather simple lifestyle. None of the ez-chair, big entertainment system, DVD in the car kind of lifestyle for me. I can't afford it. Wouldn't want it if I could.

If someone is as bold as to tell me what I should have materially, I tell them that I absolutely LOVE the idea. This is how it goes

[Person notices my smallish 19" TV and VCR player]
"Hey, you should get a bigger TV and a DVD player, I have a 35" at home and I love it!"
[me, sounding 100% serious]
"What a great idea. I hear those DVD's are very nice and I'd LOVE to have a bigger TV. You're buying, right?"
[them, shocked back to reality where not everyone is the same as them, and slightly nervous]
Yeah RIGHT sure...
[me, laughing at their lack of respect for other people]
"Yeah, that's what I thought"
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Old 07-28-04, 02:21 PM   #10
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Looks like it's time for you to take an extended bike tour....
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Old 07-28-04, 02:21 PM   #11
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There's a saying: the more you have, the more you need.
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Old 07-28-04, 03:41 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by The Fixer
Looks like it's time for you to take an extended bike tour....
I don't know if this was intended toward the original poster or towards me but that thought has crossed my mind countless times. If only circumstances allowed. But with a wife and 2 kids... I don't think it'll happen any time soon.
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Old 07-28-04, 04:27 PM   #13
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There's a saying: the more you have, the more you need.
It's funny that the adbot is advertising all sorts of sprinkler products. Maybe you do need a sprinkler system???
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Old 07-28-04, 04:36 PM   #14
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Meanwhile, the cycling thing is confusing to them. Why would I ride in the rain? Why ride in dirt? Why go climb ridges for four hours and come home sweaty and wasted? Why ride to work 4-5 days a week, and then ride more on the weekend?
You are setting an excellent example for your neighbors. I am pleased to note that a number of my "Stepford" neighbors are now exercising more - and some are riding bikes - as a direct result of the example I and my wife have set.

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Old 07-28-04, 09:07 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by pdxcyclist
Okay, the underground sprinkler system is the last straw.

Friends, colleagues, family members all insist I need to install an underground sprinkler system. Pulling around a sprinkler in the front and back yard is just too time consuming and retro. I need to dig little trenches and get battery-operated timers, and...

... and in the morning at 5 a.m., I hear the neighbors' underground sprinklers flare into life, seemingly every morning, even if it's raining.

Meanwhile, the cycling thing is confusing to them. Why would I ride in the rain? Why ride in dirt? Why go climb ridges for four hours and come home sweaty and wasted? Why ride to work 4-5 days a week, and then ride more on the weekend?

Instead, I could be focusing on a sprinkler system. And better deck furniture and umbrellas. And a better BBQ. And a home theatre system. And maybe an at-home keg system. And a better, more comfortable car.

You likely see where this is going. It seems like I could spend all my time working on improving the quality of my comforts, and getting more time to lounge around. It's as if one's life should be working, getting stressed out, and them lounging and eating and drinking in the most maximized comfort zones possible at home. Under umbrellas on the deck in comfy deck furniture with marine-grade foam in the cushions.

I'm beginning to think that supersized fast food has little to do with obesity in the US. The real problem is comfort addiction. We justify sloth by way of stress, and we focus too many efforts on more and more comfort. We spend way too much time avoiding discomfort (cycling in rain, heat, hills, for example), and as a result we don't get any physical exercise that really warrants so much comfort and recovery time afterwards. Yet, the seeming need for more comfort, and more beer and bbq, never seems to stop.

And the sprinklers pop up on their own and water the yard.


The problem is, in a word, stress. We live in a work/job stress enviroment and are surrounded by the most awful "News" and armaggedon-like predictions. We are overwhelmed by our (mostly)self imposed unattainable goals. The problem is that stress can exhaust a person without any extra metabolic activity.
So the average Joe comes home from work, a work which in many cases is almost totaly sedentary, and he's exhausted. Turns on the tube and gets a dose of the latest atrocity and a gloom and doom forecast of the future. Can it be any wonder that he wants a few beers and a mindless T&A show and then sleep?
The really sad part is that physical activity and exercise are one of the cheapest and best ways to beat the effects of stress.
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Old 07-29-04, 06:19 AM   #16
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Amen to all that has been said! However one can still persue comfort even in cycling. That is why I switched to a recumbent. Part of my work is at a desk and I must say the seat on my 'bent is infinitely more comfortable than my office chair, and the office chair has air suspension! I'd rather be on my bike than sitting at my desk. I like what I do so there is no problem there, but the bike is sooo comfy and fun.....

'bent Brian
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Old 07-29-04, 09:46 AM   #17
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The responses to the original post have been great-- a real variety of opinions and observations.

In my mind, this isn't an issue of money or possessions. Sprinkler systems can be a great thing, for example. Its a matter of "life out of balance" in relation to time, effort, comfort, identity and nature.

I liked RandyMcQ's response, because he defines a quintessential American ethic about pride in ownership and creation of new things. I've lived with that ethic all my life, and I've done more than my share of rebuilding cars and bikes and houses, etc. It is a good feeling.

My brothers and sisters religiously follow the same ethic. For any of them to suggest that I have a sprinkler system "installed" would be heinous. Really, they're suggesting I should install it, as have they, and realistically it would be a 2-3 weekend project. And, as Rykoala noted, there is peer pressure to conform on both the ethic and the posession/pride scale (i.e., they don't do things like riding bikes, but doing so could be bad or selfish if it interfers with something important like installing a sprinkler system).

And there's the rub-- I would achieve this sprinkler system, and show pride of ownership of my house, etc., but in doing so I would lose out on 2-3 weekends of cycling in the peak Oregon cycling season. Everything has a cost-- a choice to do something is a choice not to do something else.

So, I've been down this road before. For seven years I stopped cycling almost entirely because my wife and I had two kids. The only way to get back to cycling (just last Fall) was to what DnvrFox did: take the economic hit of my wife not working full time. It was overdue-- having two kids and both of us working full time was too stressful. The changes we made to move to one income were challenging, but the ROI (return on investment) of having her off for a year were enormous for the kids and us. This year, she'll be working 18 hours a week in a position she likes much more than what she had, and our lifestyle changes should remain intact.

As I roll along as a cyclist again, I'm protective of the time I put into it. Seven years was a long enough break, and using cycling to drop 40 lbs last winter wasn't a bad thing either. Overall, it's made me more critical of what we do for more income and possessions, as opposed to what we do for ourselves and as a family to enjoy our lives. We were partially inspired to do this by a book called The Shelter of Each Other by Mary Pipher.

As noted in Pipher's book, modern families can suffer under the onslaught of 24/7 connectivity and work obligations. As Buzzbomb noted, Americans can see their jobs as defining their identity, even if the jobs pretty much drain their lives and harm their families. As a friend in DC noted, we "spend" our lives through the choices we make, and nearly all of us have more choices than we realize. The film "American Beauty" dealt with some of these issues.

In terms of "comfort addiction," it seems like an individualís connection to nature becomes their connection to individual comforts. When you exhaust yourself hiking in the woods, for example, it's not just just seeing the trees that is your connection to nature. It's really your connection to your own body. Cycling is the same way-- a lot of cycling will not only improve your health, but make you more in-tune with the needs of your physical self (food is fuel, for example).

So, people who devote themselves to work and then "wind down" for hours at home in front of the computer or tv at night (as Nolageek noted) do have a connection with nature, but it's an unhealthy one. Their bodies like the comforts, but everything becomes increasingly abstract and uninformative. Adding pounds doesn't hurt, for example, until they contribute to a related system failure.

Anyway, "life in balance" to me means being much more critical about work, possessions, investments of time, and attention to one's self. Maybe in a year I'll decide I'm over-doing it, but for now it seems like everything is recalibrating well. I have lots of projects waiting for me at home and in the garage, but when I critically compare the ROI between doing them and doing a strong club ride on the weekend, guess which one wins.


p.s., the ad-bot ads for the sprinkler systems also crack me up. It's not just family pressure to go out and buy and install all this stuff, and all the other things we're supposed to buy and use.

Last edited by pdxcyclist; 07-29-04 at 11:33 AM.
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Old 07-29-04, 10:18 AM   #18
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One thing that i forgot to mention" Where are all of the poor people exercising at? I ride through all sorts of neighborhoods but one thing is easy to tell........People with more income, exercise more.

I only need to ride through the wealthiest neighborhoods on early mornings to find walkers and joggers on every block. Down the road aways, in the "poorer", dumpy looking neighborhoods you see nobody. Occasionally you might see someone sitting out on the porch, smoking a cigarette and trying to overcome a massive hangover but for the most part there is nobody.
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Old 07-29-04, 11:23 AM   #19
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To badly paraphrase Socrates (dialogues.. somewhere) :

"I take great pleasure in looking into shops and realising what I can live without"

Well, I guess I count as a european and it does appear to me that a persons worth in american society is dictated by how much money they have and thus also material possessions. Alas this viewpoint is permeating british society as well but is thankfully not (yet) prevalent. Certainly in britain and other countries I've lived in (germany, italy) there is the sense that what you give back to society is more important that what you take out.

As a random musing, the pointlessness of most peoples jobs was graphically displayed when I visited orkney and discovered that 4000 years ago in order to provide food and shelter for a week the average person needed to work for two days!
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Old 07-29-04, 11:53 AM   #20
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One of the favorite habits of two of my neighbor couples on weekends (and some week nights) is to sit on their patios together with drinks held in the left hand in a continuous elbow bend.

Now, I must hastily state that both of these guys are in excellent physical shape, they both run and lift weights and look great. Their wives are also in pretty good shape.

It is just that my wife and I don't drink, and neither of us can stand small talk. Neither can we sit for very long. We have to be moving, doing something.

So, I look at my neighbors, sometimes a bit enviously, as they seem to enjoy that continuous and never-ending elbow bend, and talking about things of which I haven't a clue, but it isn't long before we get the bikes out and go for a ride, or go for a walk, or do SOMETHING physical. Then I no longer have any envy!
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Old 07-29-04, 01:01 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by DnvrFox
One of the favorite habits of two of my neighbor couples on weekends (and some week nights) is to sit on their patios together with drinks held in the left hand in a continuous elbow bend.
I think it's all about buying toys. When people are young, their whole life is about games, toys, cartoons and TV. As we progressed into adults, the toys got more expensive and became clothes, cars and electronics etc. The last toy in our stage of development was the purchase of that great big home. The American Dream. We spend the rest of our lives constantly repairing and adding additions to this home and spending all your money at Home Depot.

Home remodeling becomes a never ending process. It becomes our final toy, something to play with the rest of our lives. For most, the bicycle was a former toy that has long been discarded. We tell ourselves that all the renovations are "important" and increasing the "value" of our new home.

People do the same with bicycles. This constant buying of new bikes or "upgrading" the current cycle is never ending.

All these toys have one thing in common. They are all purchased to find that illusive thing called happieness. What you'll often find is that all this buying is doing just the opposite in creating unhappieness because everything must be paid for in time and money. Each new toy we buy eventually gets old adding to our unhappieness forcing us to spend more money and find new ones to replace the old. It's a never ending cycle. As long as you remember that happieness comes from good Experiences with others and not the constant buying of new toys, you'll be alright. Don't forget, every new toy grows old and doesn't last forever.
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Old 07-29-04, 01:19 PM   #22
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Don't forget, every new toy grows old and doesn't last forever.
That's why they invented divorce.
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Old 07-29-04, 02:26 PM   #23
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Happiness and comfort and living the good life. I remember not too long ago when I was truly high on life and feeling great and felt more alive than ever. It was after about 20 miles (I wanted to do 30) and I got chased home by a thunderstorm just after dark. Soaking wet from the rain climbing the last hill on the way home and surrounded by flashes of lightning I couldn't help but start laughing just because it felt so damn good to be outside when everybody else was drowning their life away with a beer and a TV.
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Old 07-30-04, 12:26 PM   #24
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They have remote controls for ceiling fans now, for pete's sake.

I got the job I have now, in great part, so I could bike to work (my old job was a 15-mile car commute). Started first of the year 2000. About a week into it, my neighbor noticed I'd been pulling my bike out of the basement every day (thru the snow), and that I hadn't started the car. His question to me: "Car broke down, Paul?"

I just smiled.
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Old 07-30-04, 11:40 PM   #25
hollow
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blonde
Well, I guess I count as a european and it does appear to me that a persons worth in american society is dictated by how much money they have and thus also material possessions. Alas this viewpoint is permeating british society as well but is thankfully not (yet) prevalent. Certainly in britain and other countries I've lived in (germany, italy) there is the sense that what you give back to society is more important that what you take out.
Many European and other countries have traditionally based a person's worth on things such as family name, how much land a family owns, titles, social status and caste, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RandyMcD
What if someone was to build their own deck?
I'm pouring a patio in about 10 hours from now. It's not much more expensive to have it done, and I'm sure the professionals can do it better, but I like doing my own projects. Plus it's pretty good exercise. In about a month I'll be building the deck. I will be putting in a sprinkler system, however. They are more effecient than watering yourself. They eventually pay for themselves. Plus I don't find that there is much inherent value in moving a sprinkler in my lawn. I could spend that time riding.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Orion
You don't even have to shut the sliding side door yourself on some newer minivans.
If I had known opening and shutting minivan doors was good exercise I would have rid myself of the sedans long ago and purchased a minivan.

Seriously, I can't imagine why someone would want to pressure you into making use of conveniences you don't want. Maybe they want you to join the group so they feel less guilty about having some of these "conveniences". I only have what I want, not what others think I should have. (I say that, but I'm sure it's not totally true.)
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