Training Tuesday September 8-14

Goal    shifting toward longer rides

Actual Total 35 miles

1st Ride 35 miles

I thought we’d get 2 rides this week, but ended up making the most of the single ride that we had. 35 miles is the highest single ride mileage for us for on this project. It’s much harder to increase individual ride mileage enough to reduce the number of trips made while also increasing overall mileage. It was a good ride and a step forward. The temperature was warm for my tolerances and I got over heated. At the same time, I recovered faster than usual, so I took that to mean I’m getting stronger.

I’ve been building back up for a while longer than I’ve been writing Training Tuesday. I feel a great deal healthier than I was feeling, but sometimes after a ride my throat can be a little sore, and the next day, I can be stiff. Since those are common symptoms of Covid-19, that can be a head trip.

This is the first week that I’ve missed any part of the goal since beginning. I was beginning to feel a little strained though and think a light week was a benefit. I’m going to stick with 82 miles as the goal for next week rather than skipping over it. Because 1. I don’t know if I could do more, and 2. There is built in leeway in the plan.

Getting Real About Gear

I didn’t expect to be so heavily into gear and equipment this early on. It’s beginning to feel like my wax rubbing Kickstarter. Never heard of that? It was going to be the small Kickstarter that showed I am earnest before branching out on bigger ones. Of all my many and various ideas, it might have been the most difficult to reward supporters, so it might not have been the place to start. But the plus was that I learned a lot of what people learn on a first project even, though I never submitted it. I read up on doing a successful Kickstarter, tried some experimental alternative products, spent more money than I planned to ask for in the first place, read something that advised to ask for enough money to be taken seriously,…you see where this is going, right? Before I got over my aversion to the video requirement, this video-riding project jumped to the forefront. (yeah, I want to do a whole video project, just from behind the camera). I’m really intimidated by the extraordinary level of talent and expertise in some of the Kickstarters, and then there’s the potato salad guy. Kudos to him BTW. Supporters had fun. I’m hoping there’s a place for me, for us, somewhere in the middle. I think we have a solid idea and I know we have strong commitment .

My vision for this project was that, at its lowest level, a small Kickstarter would make a big difference to the base project, and it might even fund the ultimate goal. That’s still the hope, in part. But with the pandemic there have been so many changes. My MO for buying equipment has gone awry. I am the antithesis of an early adopter. Early adopters are great because they fund R&D, but I’m your original clearance section girl. I ride the bike that’s high on value per dollar. I don’t know what I would ride if money were no object, but I do take comfort in not riding the bike that is the most desireable for someone to steal. If I have the latest anything, the store was going out of business, or it was one of those rare things that I wanted or needed enough to pay early adopter money. I was the first person among my group to buy a particular model of Garmin once, and for this project, one that would do great elevations and has incident detection seems like it could be an important piece of technical and safety equipment. But, on the whole, I’m not looking for the cool factor. I used my last bike seat until the leather was streamering and the gel was oozing. Literally.

The age of our gear in miles caught us as unprepared as the pandemic and both have thrown a wrench in my normal purchasing habits. I just had a near overhaul and Russ is due for a complete overhaul. The crank has been damaged for some time, and he’s been putting it back together with Locktite every now and then for 2 or 3 years. He wasn’t riding so much and it stayed long enough for him to forget about it, so it was a real surprise when the pedal arm fell off mid-stroke. He took it to the shop where I’ve bought family bicycles for three generations. The repair estimate put the cost up around the range where you make the repair or replace decision, but the shop sold out big time when hitting the trails was the only pandemic possible cure for cabin fever. They didn’t have a new bike for his extra tall needs. Some shops said that extra-large was the frame size that was still around, but of course, they’re not more plentiful than they ever were. They’re just still around in some places for the same reason they were hard to find before. Not many people are 6″6″. So, every gear decision is colored by what is available now at today’s prices.

It’s time to get funded so we can figure out what we have to work with.

Training Tuesday September 1-7

Goal    74 miles, still shifting toward 2 longer rides

Actual Total 75 miles

1st Ride 26 miles

2nd Ride 27 miles

3rd Ride  22 miles

I started writing my post on trail safety this week. That took a lot out of me, and left me with a headache. It also reminded me that one bit of my advice is to be unpredictable. So, in case I start to develop a pattern I don’t notice, I’m leaving dates and days of the week off my Training Tuesday posts now and just labeling them 1st, 2nd, and so on.

It feels a little strange for me to be working so hard to make my mileage right now. It’s a combination of having drifted to lower mileage over the last 2-3 years, and then becoming more sedentary without the Y or my rides when the Shelter in Place order happened. I also build up slower than the average person and I lose fitness faster. That makes training a little extra push. I don’t think it’s my age. It’s been a struggle for as long as I’ve been active.

My rides felt pretty good this week, but not so good that I could have fit them in two days. I had an increase in tingling toes and walked 3 or 4 hundred yards on the 2 longer rides to let that ease. Recovery days had a good bit of stiffness to them.

Next week it will be a challenge to get my miles because I can only ride on 2 days and the second ride can’t be an extreme ride. I’ll be giving blood the next day, and the donor instructions say not to do strenuous exercise within that time frame. I’ll do as much as I can tolerate on the first ride, and as much as feels comfortable on the second. If I don’t make my miles this week, I’m not going to beat myself up about it. I’ll make them next week, and it may be time for me to have an easy week.

My Bucket Runneth Over

Do you have a bucket list? I do. Russ didn’t like the phrase “Bucket list” though. I think it must have felt a little crude to him, so I re-titled mine “Dream Sheet.” That suits me better too.

What kinds of things are on your list? Is it full of things you expect to accomplish? Do you go about it in an orderly fashion checking off each box and planning to check them all? Are there unattainable things in your bucket list? I have a lot of things on my list that I never expect to be able to do. For me, my list really is a dream sheet, and I kind of think that there’s not much point in dreaming small. Dreams are beautiful to think about and a large part of the point is to reach for the stars, so, some of my dreams are really big and I have absolutely no power whatsoever to effect whether some of them come to pass. That’s not to say I don’t also have goals. Most of the goals I work toward aren’t on the dream sheet. There are also small things on my list. There are tons of them and most are equally as precious to me as the spectacular ones. Big dreams tempered with small expectations seems to keep me in my happy zone.

And, I like to leave doors open. The other day I found an infant life vest (flotation device) that cost $3. I was taken with the thought that I’d like to have a boat and friends (who might have a baby) in the future. Russ saw the tags still on the counter and commented. I was really actually embarrassed to admit what I had done in front of my daughter. It was the most ridiculous leap of faith I had taken in some time. He was making silly jokes about me paying $3 for tags. I sheepishly repeated that I’d like to have friends and a boat. We do have a canoe and grandchildren. The time when we can all play with it and others will be a welcome relief. My 3-year old granddaughter wanted to look out the moonroof in a parking lot the other day. She stood on the armrest with her head and shoulders above the roof and started waving and shouting “Hey, hello there, I’m not sick!” It was adorable and crushing, funny and heartbreaking. I have to wonder what effect this time in history will have on kids as they grow up. She certainly wants boats and friends too. But, when I bought that vest, it wasn’t with the grounded idea of our canoe in a post pandemic world in mind. My dad had larger boats, when I was growing up. We always kept enough life vests on board to fit a variety of the largest number of people we might ever carry. I think it was a bit of a call back to things I’ve known in my past and would welcome back into my present.

How do you use your list? Does the thinking in the list bleed through into small purchases for things that might or might not happen? And, how often do you think about your list if it’s in your head, or look at it if it’s written? For me, the plan is to read and update my dream sheet as a New Year’s ritual. I don’t always remember. It can be 5 years between looks,

My process is kind of like this. I open up the document and start to read. My thoughts go along these lines. “Oh yeah, I did do that. That was nice.” or “Hey, I can check that one off now. That was fun.” And then “Wow, I really did do that. I didn’t think it would ever happen” and then “Hey, I want to do these other 5 things too”. So, I kind of use it like a mash up between a diary of highlights and list of hopes for the future. It can be a little like looking at old photos, remembering where you’ve been and what made you feel happy while you were there with an added exercise in feeling hopeful about the future.

I also add items retroactively while I’m editing. For instance, once I got to take a dive trip to Belize. After the dive trip I went to an eco-lodge in the forest for some hiking, and to visit some Mayan ruins. That sounds like enough for a bucket list item, but the real experience for the trip could never have been planned. That night, in the remote eco-lodge there was a gorgeous view of the mountains. There was a thunderstorm on the other side of the mountains. The eco-lodge was low light and in the middle of the forest, so the stars above us were as bright and visible as any I’ve ever seen. You don’t usually get to see so many stars and a thunderstorm in the same sky, but there it was, a dreamy star lit night all around us and a light show above the mountains in the distance. I couldn’t have hoped for that before it happened, or even imagine that was possible. It’s on my dream sheet now though just to make sure I remember to appreciate having had an otherworldly experience.

Bucket lists and plans are hard for a lot of people right now. There are so many smashed plans and uncertainties. They’re hard for me too. I was driving out to ride my bike one day recently and heard Jet Airliner on the radio. I thought “I wonder if I’ll ever get on one of those ever again?” and suddenly started blubbering. Can you believe that? Crying and driving to a Steve Miller Band song? I’ve certainly had my share of bucket list level experiences, and I have no complaints. I may have cried over the uncertainty of my future for all kinds of layered reasons, but I am well aware of the truly desperate times some people are facing right now. So aware that it is really hard to know what is appropriate to even hope for in the future. I do appreciate the small things though, and there are a few things on my list that I can pursue right now while the world is broken. I have a lot of fears and I don’t know how I’m going to work out all the things I’ll have to find a way to manage in the near or far future, but through it all, even now while the world is broken, my cup and my bucket runneth over.

Training Tuesday August 25-31

Training Tuesday     August 25-31

Goal    67 miles, still shifting toward 2 longer rides

Actual Total 67.5 miles

Wednesday 26th, 24 miles

Thursday 27nd  14.5 miles

Saturday 29th 29 miles

I planned to go out on Tuesday the 25th, but there were heavy thundershowers all day. I was restless and ready to go. By the time Wednesday got here, I was dragging. Sometimes it’s difficult to sleep the night before a ride. I don’t know if it’s related, or just more irritating because I’m sensitive about being rested. I didn’t sleep much and was already dragging when I went out with little rest and a deadline for when I had to be home. I had hoped to stretch the longest rides longer in keeping with my goal to reduce the number of days I drive 97 miles, but on this first ride it became obvious that wasn’t happening this week.

The middle ride is where I put my added 10% of miles this week. I did that on the Greenway. More about that later.

The 29 mile trip this week was from Rockmart to Cedartown and back again, just like last week, except that we stuck an extra mile in there. Pirkle’s Deli saved my helmet for us and we came back with it hanging on handlebar. I think we handled the hills a little better this time, but we started late and I got overheated.

I’m looking at where I am in training and where Russ is. He’s building some of his cardio fitness running, and I think that will be ok in the end. I made goal, but mostly because I had a 3rd day riding in a location that makes me uncomfortable. I like riding 3 days for the distribution of heartbeats. It’s just the fossil fuels I’m burning and the pain in my pocketbook. I like riding in what used to be my go-to location. It’s a pretty winding streambed with good wildlife viewing. But, there’s always a bottle neck or 3 where people who are walking 2 or 3 abreast (or in even bigger family groups) meet other people walking 2 or 3 abreast in the other direction while cyclists allergic to braking enter the mess, as though they could just change states of matter and slide right on through. None of the people who fail to yield or walk single file are ever in the 1 or 2% who wear masks. Covid transmission is a lot less likely outdoors, but, if someone who’s sloughing contagion breathes on you in one of these bottlenecks, well, the damp humid Georgia air is going to transmit it better than any other kind of air, and there’s no way to plan for the traffic jam on a curvy, unevenly crowded path.

I’m looking for a better riding mask solution (sewing project on the way), but that’s still something that protects other people from anything I might have much better than it protects me from them. It’s the people who don’t think about others who have the habits that make them more likely to be contagious and transmitting. Every time I ride that path, I think I won’t do it again until I’ve had a vaccine that I’m confident about.

I’m also trying to figure out how I’m going to shift to accommodate both reality and goals. I don’t want a start date that could actually be anything I choose to push me into riding where there are frequent bottlenecks. I’m looking at some potential shifts, thinking of making 60 a significant number. I may start my recorded full trail rides on or near my birthday at the end of January, when I’ll be 60, and then do it for 60 weeks. That would give me 3 or more extra weeks to be ready. We’ll see. The weather in January could make for delays even if I’m trained and ready on the first. And, at the end of 52 weeks, who knows how I’ll feel. I won’t be able to quit cold turkey, but an extra 8 weeks of full time could feel like an eternity by then.

And Then, The Etsy Store

At one time, seems like it was around our unemployment year, I thought I might make a business with Etsy. I love crafting. I love upcycling (not sacrilege, I only upcycle the unrestorable). I love thrifting. These were all things that had a robust market on Etsy and with Russ’ help, that had to be a good thing. If our shop became big enough, Russ could “quit his day job”. Yeah, everybody wants that, right? For a while there was an amazing market on Etsy for a nice range of things that Russ and I could do, but we weren’t in on the first years at Etsy and so we didn’t get the heyday halo.

One of the things that people are looking for when they shop Etsy is “One of a Kind (OOAK) The biggest problem with OOAK is time. Everything takes so much of it, and so many customers have had a steady diet of mass produced economies of scale. It is really hard to get a handle on how different things are, in production costs as well as costs to bring anything to market, when you move to OOAK, and then there’s the cost to get it in front of a customer’s eyes. Each one of a kind item has one-off photography and listing requirements. And every business has its life cycle. Soon there was a lot of competition from people who didn’t keep track of their time or expenses. One person would undercut prices, and the next person would more than match the undercut. Artists often find it exhausting to become adept at marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). People trying to earn a living were competing with people who just wanted to defray the cost of supplies so they could keep on doing their thing. There’s a lot to learn and you need to learn it from the people who are finding success on all those disparate fronts while competing with people who are selling at a loss.

On top of that, customers can’t often tell the real handmade from the mass produced. Most of the things I truly appreciate and want to do take a great deal of time on a level few people understand, and far fewer want to pay for. Big course stitches is the only way some people can recognize hand stitching and, on Etsy, things can be called “handmade” because a person sat in front of a sewing machine. Big course stitches can be beautiful, but tiny stitches with fine threads are too. It is just hard for some shoppers to comprehend that a person would voluntarily take all of those stitches with a needle and thread in hand. People who are interested enough to know the difference in these things are usually interested enough to be doing it themselves.

And then came all the side services SEO and advertising, and then coaches and productivity specialists. Then Etsy changed management and went public so, suddenly there were shareholders to please. The maximizing profit roller coaster created frequent changes that ate time. Dedicated artists and sellers had whiplash. It was, and is really hard to keep up with. And then that old issue of valuing time intensive original and handmade items, it still doesn’t jive with trying to match Amazon style margins and productivity. Even selling vintage things is time consuming for the one-off nature of listing what you find. Researching, photographing, writing up and packing up are a couple of hours, or more, per item and there’s a limit to how much efficiency can be squeezed into of the process.

And then there was the personal life. The first go ’round we lost all the crafts, supplies and items in a house fire. That was at least 50K uninsured. And then, It took time to rebuild the “stuff” of our lives. We briefly considered spending a few years as homeless vagabonds boondocking in a travel trailer, but made a more family oriented choice instead (no regrets there). Part of the reason we’re still selling is that same fire. We decided to replace things by buying as much second hand as we could. We couldn’t replace our own grandmothers’ things, but we could substitute someone else’s grandmother’s things. We both love the weight and feel of how things used to be made. And that’s when I became a borderline hoarder. I really dive into the thing I wander into. The housing market at the time was a seller’s market and it took a while to find the right house (whether we were successful in that is a long story in itself). I was spending a really insane amount of time in every thrift store, estate sale and garage sale we passed. “This is nice and I may never find it again…Oh, that’s better and I can put the other one in the travel trailer, or sell it, or give….”

The store has been a success in a lot of ways. I’ve had some cool experiences, united some people with the work of deceased relatives, made some people happy. I’ve always treated my customers like I was in business, but we’ve had the Etsy store since 2009 and, on average, sold just less than 1 item per week. It’s not a “real” business by any standard. Don’t get me wrong, it’s been worthwhile. If I didn’t like knocking around in thrift stores and estate sales, I wouldn’t have a basement so full that I’m overwhelmed just trying to organize it. The difficulty in organization is spilling over. I’m not really sure where the shop is going next. I don’t know if we’ll expand and turn it into a legit business on Etsy or elsewhere. Maybe we’ll shift into something altogether different. But one thing is for sure. The basement and my mind need some clearing. So, take a look in the store and see if there’s anything you’ve been longing for, something you didn’t know you needed, or that perfect gift.

Training Tuesday August 18-24

Goal:    61 miles shifting toward 2 longer rides

Actual: 63 miles

Tuesday 18th 24 miles

Saturday 22nd  28 miles

Monday 24th 11 miles

This week I got in the two longest rides I’ve done since Shelter-In-Place (SIP) and I feel really good about that, both mentally and physically. I met my total mileage goal and put most of those miles in 2 rides. That helps me move toward two rides a week for better transportation economy while training. I had settled into three 16 mile rides at the Greenway before SIP. The Greenway is the closest multi-use trail to my house so it was my primary location pre-pandemic. I would think about riding it twice per trip to up the ride miles and keep up with former levels of fitness, but I was near often at the trail to take a child to their sport and I was fitting the ride into available time rather than making time for a longer ride. General fitness was the goal then and I feeling lucky just to get to ride at all.

I’ve increased my mileage more than the recommended 10% per week for a couple of months now. I’m not too worried about that at this point because my mileage had gotten so far below what it was a few years ago, but staying really close to the goal rather than exceeding it is the point. This week was also higher than a 10% increase over the one before it. I’ll have to be more careful as I get further beyond recent norms, the increases will take a toll soon enough.

The 28 mile trip this week was from Rockmart to Cedartown and back. Russ was with me for that ride. It was the first time I had ridden to Cedartown in years, and the first time Russ had ridden there ever. This section has some of the prettiest views and some of the biggest hills. We did walk up some hills. The toughest hill dubbed “Trash Mountain” got its name for being beside the landfill. It’s a place where many people turn back. On a hot afternoon when the landfill has it’s full bake goin’ on, it’s the last place anyone want to be walking slowly, or pumping heavily. I won’t be able to capture the full essence of every aspect of the ride on video. That’s not a bad thing.

The Cedartown Depot is a popular place for a Support and Gear (SAG) station. There was one waiting on a large group of riders when we got there. In Cedartown, we went to Pirkle’s Deli, the place where we picked up sandwiches for our own groups when we worked SAG for whole trail rides. It’s still yummy. There is more outdoor seating than there was pre-pandemic. I was wearing a new Headsweats cap, so there was something on my head that I don’t usually have. Not noticing its absence, I forgot to put my helmet back on. When I realized it, we were looking at a hill and far enough away that I wasn’t sure I could make the whole trip back to the car if I went back for it the helmet. We called. They found it and are saving it for us. I have another helmet we got when we supported a Lumos Kickstarter and so I have something to wear until I get back. I was taking the really carefully on the way home. There are some curves close to hills in some places.

How Much Could a Bike Ride Cost Anyway?

I’ve spent over a thousand dollars on major bike repairs and gear recently. It sounds like a lot, but some of it was way overdue. I hope I’m good on that for 6 months or so. Time will tell, but I’m hoping I can keep gear and maintenance to a $200 per month level. That will be more of a challenge as weekly mileage increases.

Transportation is the rest of the cost. This project is on a trail for the beauty and comparative safety. On trails, you only find the drivers who would be killers at intersections with roads. The only downside is driving to get out to the trail.

Some people think of the cost of gas as the cost of going somewhere and then never really figure out how much gas it took, especially on local trips. The cost of the car itself seems to get put in some other mental category called “having a car”.

Paying something closer to accurate attention to the cost of driving somewhere is a natural for me though. My father used to calculate the actual per mile cost of every car or truck he owned. Because of that influence, I usually figure that going to a fast food place costs about twice the menu price (ones I like are 15 minutes or so from my home). I’m more attentive than most, but still not as committed to an exact figure as Dad was. For a project like this though, I need to know.

I briefly worked for a company called National Opinion Research Center, (NORC) headquartered at the University of Chicago. They’re famous for opinion surveys, but they collect and analyze all kinds of soft and hard data. They did mileage calculations for the IRS in a manner to make the allowance adjustable. Have you noticed that the deductible allowance changes more often than it used to? Most of that change is due to fluctuation in gas prices because other costs do not fluctuate as often nor as much. The other part of the figure is calculated on the average cost of a car and maintenance. The cost of my car is 20% above average. (I’ve always driven economy cars, but now I sometimes need to carry 5-7 people, two of them over six feet tall). So the IRS figure is what you use if you want to take their average on business mileage. Keeping records and supporting a higher price is what you do if your car is more expensive than average. For this, I’m looking for the best approximation I can get without digging in my files.

The training rides I currently make are quite a bit further than my original plan. Now a ride requires a 96 mile drive round trip (RT) or $56 at the current IRS rate of 57.5 cents per mile. If you add an extra 10% because my car is 20% more expensive than average, that comes to $63.25. I’m currently attempting 3 of those a week, which is $189.75 per week or $796.95 transportation per month, plus the $200 in maintenance and gear for $996.95 total per month. While it is easier on my body to spread it out right now, actually sitting down to do the math increases my resolve to fit my training miles into 2 rides per week instead of 3.

As often as I tend to estimate the cost of transportation as being higher than other people do, the numbers were a surprise to me. And those numbers care about me like the virus does. None. At. All. The numbers and the virus simply exist. What the numbers mean to me though underscores the conflicting feelings that I can’t do this project now, and that I must. It took shelter-in-place to make it necessary to drive 96 miles for a “socially distant ride”, and it took spending time sheltering isolated from my rides and my fitness center to get me over my initial rejection of the idea that I could drive so far to ride. But, it only took that first short ride after sheltering-in-place, to make it pretty clear to me that riding was more important to my immediate health and wellbeing than anything else I could be doing with that same time and money. There’s always a rub isn’t there? I hope I can provide some entertaining footage to people who can’t make the trip.

Training Tuesday

As I train to be able to make a full century ride twice a week beginning on, or near, the first of the year, here is where I’ll update my progress every week on Training Tuesday.

I’m feeling healthy again, so that has me feeling positive, but I’ve been overestimating my mileage due to some incorrect mile markers, so I also feel behind before I’ve even started. Last week, according to Google maps, I rode 50 miles, a mark I thought I had made 2 weeks ago. 50 miles a week is a benchmark for me. I read that insurance companies give a discount on life/health insurance to people who ride that far. So, it’s a general lifetime goal for me to never fall below that. Not for the discount, but because actuaries think and know things. I felt pretty good when I learned about the discount because I thought I was riding that far, but first one thing and then a shifted commitment and if you’re not keeping up with actual mileage, it’s easy to lose track of actual miles. Google maps sent me a message about my cycling at the end of the year last year though. I was stunned. Google told me my real miles and, it was more than most people ride, but less than I thought.

Now I’m looking to leave 50 miles a week in the dust. Flat tires, or minor emergencies, weather and childcare obligations that won’t always line up properly and any number of other things can cause me missed goals. If I can get my target number of miles in two rides instead of three, it will be easier to stay on target, and it line things up closer to how rides need to be when I make the official recorded video start. So, as I try to balance needs and goals, I’m working toward fewer rides for longer times. Last week my longest ride was 20 miles. Today, I rode 24 miles. If I can get in a 26 mile ride later in the week, I’ll have moved last week’s mileage into two days instead of three. Then if I can get in a third ride whatever mileage I make will be an increase in weekly mileage and to some extent gravy.

I started my original calculations at 61 miles for the first week based on where I was before the pandemic. Maybe I’m too lazy to do the math again, maybe it’s psychological, but that’s the official starting point I want to keep. With that starting point, training up at 10% mileage increase per week because that is the recommended max, I should be ready to do the stretch goal distances in 16 weeks. That will be the first full week in December giving me almost 3 weeks for a buffer before the new year. With winter and holidays and family time, I’m nervous about only having a 3 week buffer. I remember how hard we pushed in the end last time we worked up to a century. There’s no real reason it needs to be a January 1st start, but it seems fitting for the year of Silver Comet Centuries to coincide with a calendar year

So,well see how it goes, and I’ll see you here next Tuesday, and I hope I’ll be telling you I did 61 miles in two long and one short ride.

How to be a Karen Without Being a Karen

That is the question.

It is really a big question, in some ways the question of a lifetime, certainly the question of our time. What it means to be a Karen, a Bad Karen, has morphed from simply the “May I see your manager?” type with a bad Posh Spice/Victoria Beckham bob complete with brash highlights, to a broader caricature that is offensive to a larger number of people (with a racial/racist component that kind of blindsided me because I didn’t realize it was a part of it all until the whole birding in the park incident). See this Guardian Article (or countless others) for more on Karen evolution.  

Posh, BTW, does seem like a more fitting moniker for a Bad Karen than Karen. Just think about it, from its elitist origins, to its current choice for an ungendered name. What other word ‘come name has a Snopes page about its etymology AND can apply to men and women equally? Because you know deep down Karenhood really isn’t a girls only club.

The first “Karens” I personally noticed were not older women, they were teens of both sexes. I used to volunteer in a local high school, and there were some kids who would say whatever phrase (to the principal if they had to) that got them what they wanted. It was never a true statement. It was simply saying the words that made the exception that got around the rules, an unscrupulous manipulation of the system for the purpose of having one’s way. The very epitome of entitled Karenhood, and yes, they probably learned the skill from their Boomer parents whose decades of egocentrism was peaking, or, at least I thought it had to be peaking. Not. The. First. Time. I. Was. Wrong.

“May I see your manager?” can be a fun question if you have something good to say. I once asked to speak to my postmaster, and afterward my letter carrier beamed smiles at me for a year. She smiled bigger than big when she saw me right up until she was given a new route. It can be an important question if you have the right motive. Or, it can be meme worthy if you want a refund, privilege, reward or result you don’t deserve.

 “If you see something, say something” is where the real challenge comes in. We’ve been “Together-Apart” in so many ways since long before the pandemic. Doing your part to be part of a community is a challenge. Sometimes talking to the manager does need to happen when things need fixing. The phrase “If you see something, say something” was promoted by Allen Kay of the New York MTA after 9-11, and it resulted in a real reduction of crime.

We’re about to switch off of “Karen”. I can tell because there are so many articles out there on Karenhood. One of them suggested to just not be a jerk. That is nobler. We need to be involved, talk to a manager, or a representative, or a businessperson when it’s time. We all know there’s a lot that’s broken, and together, as well as apart, we have to fix it.

Just try not to be a jerk.