I’m pretty sure that if you look back at history Man’s ability to make excuses probably predates language itself. There is probably a pictograph on a cave wall somewhere that shows a hunter’s kill getting away because it jumped a span wide enough that it could not be chased. Bam!, an excuse” “I would have killed the deer if he just hadn’t jumped the Grand Canyon.” (here I am assuming that this was far enough back in pre-history that the Grand Canyon was precisely 15.62 feet across; an easy jump for a deer, but man would be a bit scared to try it.) Obviously it wasn’t ancient man’s fault that he didn’t make the kill before the deer got away, or that he didn’t find game more suitable to his inability to jump large spans, it was someone (thing) else’s fault. And so it started and has continued throughout history. I myself have gotten pretty good at making excuses over the years.

The treadmill has been a source of a lot of my excuses over the last couple of months. I have found so many reasons not to use it that even I can hardly believe them anymore. I have finally gotten myself into something of a routine on it though; I have been using it every day for the last couple of weeks. I do a combination of running and walking with my top speed being 6mph and my bottom speed being 3.3mph. I like to do a minimum of 20 minutes, which generally falls between 1.25 and 1.75 miles depending on how sturdy my legs are that day. The problem is that I seem to be stopping just when I am really starting to sweat and my legs have gone through the sharp pains that they generally feel for the first few minutes I am on the thing. I attribute this to boredom. The other day I happened to be watching Dreamcatcher while I was just laying in my bedroom and it occurred to me that if I were to just watch it on the treadmill it would keep the mind occupied so that I might be able to get a few extra minutes in. And it worked perfectly; I was on the treadmill for 40 minutes while watching the end of that movie. And that is when the idea hit me.

Here you see what the treadmill looks like after having installed an 18.5″ color TV on it. This was necessary (or so I tell myself) so that I would be able to plug headphones into the TV so that it wouldn’t have to be so unbearably loud to hear over the noise of the cheap treadmill. This way I can walk on it when I get home from work at 2am without bothering the wife -and since installing it, I have done that each night-. The TV is actually bigger than what I wanted; ideally it would have been a 13″ TV, but I couldn’t find a 13″ TV for the same price as this because all the ones in that size either have a built in DVD player or they are AC/DC operation -for use in cars- which drives the price right the heck up. I actually ended up only paying $148 for this Sanyo after having an argument with a CSR at Wal-Mart (the short version is that they had it mistagged at $148, it should have been $178. I was planning to pay $178, but wanted to let them know that they had them mislabeled. When I told the woman, “The sign on these actually says $148. .” the CSR turned to the cashier and said, “Don’t give him that price. We don’t know who marked them.” And that, folks, really, really pissed me off. She was implying that I had labeled the thing myself. At that point I was going to make that bitch give me the advertised price if I had to call the fucking department of weights and measures out there. But after 20 minutes of staring at the big sign they had on the shelf that said “$148″ -and trust me, I have been in retail for nearly 20 years, I verified the UPC on this before I even considered bringing to their attention- she gave it to me for that price.).

Of course to my knowledge no one makes a mount specifically for mounting a television to a treadmill, so I had to fabricate something. I used a couple pieces of 1″ wide 1/16” thick steel. I drilled holes in it that would line up with the wall mount bracket holes on the back of the TV and then drilled holes top of the treadmill to attach the tips of the steel to. The idea is that the television isn’t actually touching the treadmill; instead the steel is holding it an inch or so above the control board you see there, with the steel providing a little bit of flex so that the TV isn’t being mercilessly knocked around every time your foot lands on the tread; picture one of those playground toys where you sit on an animal and rock back and forth on a spring, that’s pretty much the same thing, only the steel is a bit more rigid than the spring so it doesn’t just go flopping all over the place. It is working great so far, but I’ll have to monitor it for a while to make sure that nothing falls out or breaks over time (early fear is that the plastic that it is mounted to near the top of the treadmill will weaken and break from the repeated stress of the TV moving back and forth. Time will tell.)

As much a fan as I am of tooting my own horn, I didn’t write this just to bloviate over my own keen, MacGyver-esque ingenuity. I wrote this because what you see on the right made me chuckle a bit once I had it all set up. I just split the signal coming from the coaxial cable right before it gets to the 42″ TV you see there, that way if I use the VCR, DVD player, or Satellite it will display on both TV’s. It makes sense to me, seeing as the whole reason I did this was to be able to wear headphones while I was exercising, thus making it less obtrusive to the wife and pets, but when viewed in this photo it looks like something straight from the department of redundancy department. And while it doesn’t look like it, that is exactly the same thing on both televisions. The one on the treadmill is tilted slightly back, which reduces the brightness just a bit, but I also have the brightness and contrast turned way down on it because I am always watching it in the dark and I find that it hurts my eyes if I don’t. Which really eliminates the last of the excuses I had regarding this thing, so now I am using it at least once a day, and have been doing two 20-30 minute shots per day when I am off at work. With luck my waistline will start to show it … eventually…

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