Cropped K on Bike 2015-12-10 at 2.05.37 PM

Calm down. Yes, I ride with a helmet, as seen in gif below.

If there’s an age limit for obsessing over a new bike, I’ve probably overshot by…oh, let’s round it off to half a century. 

That didn’t stop me from developing a bike crush last summer. The object of my affection: “Abbey” from the Pure City line of Pure Fix Cycles. At the outset, let me say this is not a paid blog post. But it was sweet of you to let that thought cross your mind. Also hilarious. It would mean their marketing department targets the old lady demo. Are you drinking? To underscore the point, here’s a Pure City video demonstrating a style of biking for which I lack both the youth and the right underwear. Also, the mom in me screams, “Put your helmets on!”

In the tradition of 21st century romance, I found Abbey online. I wasn’t looking for a bike when I spotted her, hadn’t ridden in years, but it was bike love at first sight. I just knew we were meant to be together. In the parlance of Marie Kondo, that grand duchess of decluttering, I knew Abbey would “bring me joy.”

Maybe it was her cheery yellow paint job and minty-fresh turquoise tire walls.

Or the step-through design that promised, “Hey, Old Lady, with any luck you won’t crack your pelvis getting on and off.”

Or the comfy-looking leather seat that beckoned, “Come sit, Old Lady Fanny.” 

Have I mentioned I’m really old?

Abbey played hard to get until I whipped out my credit card. Things moved fast from there, and within two weeks she’d moved in with me. Well, into my garage. The single rough spot of our union was that Pure City demanded Abbey be assembled professionally to activate the warranty. Cheap, cranky old ladies don’t shell out when we have cheap, cranky old husbands with perfectly fine mechanical skills.

REduxbikesave

From mid-July through mid-November, Abbey and I cruised our neighborhood nearly every day. I was recreating the fun of bike riding as a kid and realized a huge part of that was riding upright. The only other bike I’d owned as an adult was a Peugeot 10-speed purchased in my twenties. It had those ridiculous curled-under handlebars. (Attention serious bikers about to lecture on aerodynamics: I don’t care. Really, I don’t. Save your breath for the uphill.)

Abbey and I tool around at a leisurely pace on paved trails in a nearby park and on residential streets with almost no traffic. She’s a three-speed, but we’re not about speed or how many miles we cover in a day. We are about the quiet joy of pedaling in the fresh air in an increasingly unquiet world. That and the irrepressible, childish pleasure of dinging the bell to warn pedestrians we’re about to pass.

great Bike w: snow

A friend gave me this oh-so-French-movie basket for Christmas. Now for the baguette.

As the days grow longer, I’ve begun estimating how soon Abbey and I can reasonably hope to ride again. With luck, gloves, hat, scarf and a warm jacket, we’re thinking April 1.

That’s right. A fool in bike love.

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2-Otto-CorrectThe editorial crimes of Otto Correct, underboss of the Internet, are well documented by DamnYouAutoCorrect.

That’s not where we’re going.

Sure, I’ve had my share of beatdowns from Otto. Just the other day he nearly had me email a client to ask, “How did your meeting with the devil go?” Fortunately, at the last second I remembered to pat down Otto, proofing his pockets for insults, obscenities and inanities. Ha! The meeting was with Devin, Otto. D-e-v-i-n. I was right. You were wrong. Live with it.

My particular point is that while Otto’s edits can be embarrassing, he’s almost more dangerous for the way he derails our trains of thought and hijacks conversations.

Google chatting with an architect friend, I typed “What do you know about Eichler?” Otto butted in and replaced the name of Eichler, a developer of mid-century modern homes, with Euchre.

My friend instantly typed back: “Euchre? Isn’t that a card game?”

Faster than I could type nonononono, my friend jumped out of the chat window and Googled off, returning seconds later to report that Euchre is indeed a card game. Eager to be helpful, he also gave me the Wikipedia link and, oh yes, inquired why I was suddenly so interested in Euchre.

By then I was distracted by the semi-interesting coincidence that both Euchre and the card game Pinochle are spelled with a c-h that sounds like a k and was thinking about how long it’s been since I’ve heard of anyone playing Pinochle.

We never got back to Eichler.

Many of Otto’s suggestions seem to be pure whimsy. I was typing micro line—as in, very small fontwhen Otto butted in to suggest micro linen. Exactly what would micro linen be? Itsy napkins for doll houses? Yet there I was, pondering.

Is it not enough that links are compromising our ability to concentrate while reading online, tempting us to drill down like crazed wildcatters, convincing us a real gusher of insights is only one click away?

Certainly Otto has his uses. If he were to become, let’s say, disabled, who would correct me when I misspell? Yesterday he caught me typing “she has more moxy” and generously corrected with moxie. See, Otto, now THAT is helpful. But you could have made the fix without nudging me toward your “improvements” of more money or more poxy.

“She has more poxy?” Seriously, Otto?  

The other day I was browsing gmail emoji—could we pretend I didn’t admit that?—and was struck by this little number  , which reminded me of the way my dad greeted other drivers in North Dakota. keep 50%-fingerwave

Index finger lifted from the steering wheel. That was it. No turn of the head. Smile optional.

Driver’s Finger was a simple, dignified gesture. It was a manly alternative to waving, which tends to make other drivers think you’re alerting them to a problem, say, dragging a fire hydrant from their rear bumper.

I still see Driver’s Finger in rural areas. Maybe it’s used in cities and I just haven’t noticed. I can imagine situations in which the move could prove troublesome unless you’re up on your gang signs. (“Hell, yes, I shot him. Dude flashed me his index finger from the steering wheel and it was on.”)

At sports events a comically oversized index finger delivers a message: “Look, I’m waving a big piece of foam at you.” In contrast, Driver’s Finger never goes out of its way to draw attention to itself. It’s understood without screams or body spasms.

I have no idea how Driver’s Finger originated. Perhaps it dates back to when farm trucks and cars were harder to steer and keep on the road. This minimalist gesture was polite and safe. Whatever its beginnings, I like Driver’s Finger. It’s well-mannered. Never crude or overwrought like its neighbor, middle finger, aka The Finger.

I call Driver’s Finger a “manly alternative” because women drivers who recognized their friends in an oncoming vehicle, then as now, usually eschewed Driver’s Finger for a friendly smile accompanied by an upward tilt of the jaw. Also subtle but, well, ladylike. 50%-head+tilt

Both Driver’s Finger and Head Tilt + Smile are soft, noninvasive pleasantries. These gestures don’t demand we “get together soon.” They’re not invitations to “like my driving on Facebook.” All they do is recognize another driver as a human being—which may be anachronistic soon enough with driverless cars. Meanwhile, Driver’s Finger and Head Tilt + Smile express civility. That’s always worth pointing out, or in the case of Driver’s Finger, pointing up.

 

 

Photo on 1-4-14 at 3.00 PM #2

Over the holidays, I got hooked on the glossy South Korean family drama “Hundred Year Inheritance,” becoming irrationally invested in the star-crossed relationship of adorable Min Chae Won and hunky Lee Se Yoon. Don’t even start me on what I’ve learned about monkey business in the noodle business.

Let’s get it out there: I have watched 32 of the 50 episodes on Netflix. They’re also on Hulu. Online, this show goes by a confusing array of titles including “A Hundred Years’ Inheritance,” “A Hundred Year Legacy” and “Third Generation Noodle House.”

By any title, the storytelling is a delicious mix of classic soap opera, complete with overwrought musical score, and screwball comedy. When three sisters-in-law show up at the cafe owned by their brother-in-law’s girlfriend, ready to rumble, well, you’d have to go back to Lucy and Ethel for more exquisitely executed physical comedy. Lean in? Push and shove, sisters. Screen Shot 2014-01-10 at 9.50.36 AM

Beautifully shot and paced—with wardrobe, hair and makeup to swoon over—the show proves that greed, jealousy, pride, prejudice and eavesdropping make the TV world go round, around the world. (Does nobody in TV world ever check to see who might be lurking behind a door?)

In the best tradition of soaps, “Hundred Year Inheritance” focuses on personal relationships and tunes out world events. No jabs at North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. No “ripped from the headlines” plots that increasingly sully American TV dramas.

In the first episode, Chae Won and Se Yoon have their meet-cute in a mental hospital where perfectly sane Chae Won has been committed by her fire-breathing mother-in-law. Don’t bother me with your questions like, Hmmm, can you do that in South Korea? Just believe that the mother-in-law, Bang Young-Ja—arguably the scariest woman in the history of television—gets it done, whatever it is, whatever it takes. Big checks. Threats. Shrieks. Her shrieks don’t require translation, but the subtitles for this show are excellent. The sole snafu I’ve noticed is “My innocent son-in-law has been bewitched by this wrench’s butt.” To my disappointment, “wrench” was corrected to “wench” a few subtitles later.

If this show were on American TV, it would belong on the Food Network. Nearly all the characters are in the food biz. Working in a family noodle factory. Running a food megacorp. Operating a small cafe. Scenes become visual feasts as the camera lingers on rows of noodles drying on lines outdoors or trays of scrumptious-looking food products in development. “Inheritance” in the title refers to the noodle factory, which nobody in the family wants, until everybody does. The ongoing competition, devised by the endearing family patriarch, owes debts to both “Top Chef” and “The Apprentice.” Note to Food Network: Consider developing “So You Want to Run a Noodle Factory.”

 Why I need Korean TV Etiquette for Dummies  

Lee Se Yoon, our hero. Formal manners rule on this show, but nobody wants to miss a text.

Lee Se Yoon, our hero. Formal manners may rule on this show, but nobody ever wants to miss a text.

A big part of my fun in watching the show is trying to wrap my head around Korean etiquette, or at least Korean TV etiquette. Who steps away first after a social interaction seems to be a big deal. Even a conversation on a street corner can require negotiations about who moves on. I sometimes lose track of the plot as I try to make sense of who’s gone first. Showing up without phoning or texting ahead can be met with a pointed “Why are you here without calling?” Oops.

Also, I’d like to understand the self-effacing conversational opener “I lack a lot, but…” and why it’s okay to introduce someone near and dear with “She lacks a lot, but…” I’d love to know the origin of “I’m going to bite my tongue and die,” though given how casually the expression is delivered, it seems more cliché than credible threat. Easier to understand is the admonition to “Shut that mouth before I sew it up.”

Then there’s the manner of characters addressing each other, which jumps from extreme formality, even among family members at home, to a jarring bluntness in which people’s jobs or roles morph into a form of address. I’m now used to hearing a mother routinely addressed as “Bo Rheum’s Mom” instead of by her own name. But I still blink at hearing someone in a shop called back to the counter with “Hey, customer.” And then there are the two guys, romantic rivals, one a member of the noodle factory family who happens to be an electrician, the other a singer who lives over a cafe. Even I now call them “Utility Pole” and “Rooftop.”

Obviously I lack a lot, but have to end this now and go watch episode 33.

Thank you for your time, Blog Reader.

Not a bot

Got it again. Twitter’s “We gotta check…are you human?” message after I’ve manhandled my username or mangled my password—or both.

Oh, yes, I am all too human, Twitter, thanks for asking, even though it’s taking me longer to prove it at online security checkpoints. Talking about the likes of you, CAPTCHA, with your twisting-fonts-from-hell word images that have to be deciphered and typed into little boxes to prove I’m not a bot.

Is it just me, human that I am, edging closer to crypt than cryptologist, or are security word images getting harder to crack?

It’s sometimes taking me two, three, even four tries to make my case for being declared human, allowed to sign in or forward an article.

Call me a pessimist, but I can tell at first glance when I will fail to get the message. I’m thinking

OhCrap

Gamely, because there is no choice, I begin typing letters into the answer box, resigned to seeing the inevitable alert that I’m wrong, awarded the consolation prize of a fresh image to read. Maybe another…and another…

You may have wondered why you didn’t get that article with the Kardashians’ tips on unzipping genomes.

NowYouKnow

Yo, AARP

Hold the surveys. Here’s how you find out what’s on the minds of boomers.

1. Go directly to YouTube.

2. Do not tap on cats playing bagpipes, dancing the Hustle or performing laser surgery.

3. Do not click on Taylor Swift. She’s already told you “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.”

4. Do click or tap on songs from the 60s or 70s and read the comments. Tip: You’ve found a boomer if profanity is amateurish by today’s standards but better spelled.   

Boomer commenters on YouTube tend to fall into one of three categories:

Activist Investigator “What the hell happened to the Pips?”

Arts Critic “This is real music!!!! Not the *#%&ing trash from today’s no-talents.”

Oversharing Nostalgist “OMG this song came out the summer before senior year when I was dating (insert: Brenda, Joanne, Carol Lee). We listened to it on the radio in my dad’s (blue LTD wagon, red Chevy Impala, black Ford pickup). In September she moved to (North Carolina, East Lansing, West Fargo) and I never saw her again. I still miss (Brenda, Joanne, Carol Lee)…”

And there it is. I always interpret the ellipsis to mean the commenter has abandoned YouTube for Google Search or Facebook and a pinot-fueled hunt for (Brenda, Joanne, Carol Lee). Suddenly he’s Dustin Hoffman in “The Graduate” banging on a church window, screaming “Elaine! Elaine! Elaine! Elaine!”

Moving on. Boomers on YouTube love sharing backstory about which artist ripped off another artist and trivia about songwriters—and everybody misses Marvin Gaye.

There’s obsessive discussion of who’s dead and general dismay it can be true of anyone under the age of 120. Perhaps the stages of grief need to be expanded for boomers. Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. And coming in at the No. 5 spot before Acceptance: Midnight Train to YouTube.

Some songs elicit comments that cover the wide expanse of human experience.

Vietnam veterans talk about Iron Butterfly’s hypnotic “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” blaring from helicopters during the war.

More mundanely, another commenter recalls a night when he and a buddy were driving and got separated from the rest of their group traveling in another car. He says it took “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” and a couple other songs to regroup, adding that the 17-minute rock classic “really reduced the tension.” Boomers take the point. There’s both a long and short version of the song. If the DJ had played the puny 2:53 “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida,” our travelers could have ended up in (North Carolina, East Lansing, West Fargo).

Mostly, I guess, we boomers on YouTube like knowing that other boomers remember what we remember, miss what we miss, including our younger selves.

That’s it, AARP. You’re welcome.

Play us out, Butterfly.

Dripping sweat, sunscreen and iPod cords, I was jogging the paved trail that cuts through our neighborhood when I was stopped cold by this chalked message underfoot.

Who was sorry for what?

Harsh words? Chores undone? Lost phone? Broken promise?

Friendship rift? Lovers’ quarrel? Remorseful child? Guilt-ridden parent?

For the next 20 minutes on the trail I obsessed. Had the intended reader seen the message yet? What if the predicted “scattered showers” washed it away too soon? And what was I thinking, not packing a tarp and bullhorn for occasions like this? Attention, neighborhood…

I shifted to contemplating the simple power of this scrawled message in a world where “I’m sorry if you were offended” is supposed to pass for an apology and auto insurance cards warn drivers, Do Not Admit Fault.

Grabbing chalk at home, I tried out some culturally appropriate alternative messages.

 

No power at all. None

By late evening, I began wondering if the scrawl was merely a random act of contrition, directed not at anyone in particular, but rather to all of us on the path that day, prodding us to ponder the nature of apologies, the healing, calming effect of a heartfelt “I’m sorry.”

If so, it seemed to have worked.

Overnight, thundershowers washed away “I’m sorry” and the heart.

I’m sorry about that.