Friday, April 24, 2015

Chemists Celebrate Earth Day (CCED) 2015

This morning we did a session for "I'm Going to College" University Day at CSUN. We had a classroom in Chaparral Hall, twenty-four fourth graders, a Cayenne pepper plant, a map of the Americas, and sidewalk chalk. Since the theme of this year's Chemists Celebrate Earth Day is

“Climate Science – More Than Just A Weather Report!”


we decided to talk about food, sustainable agricultural practices, and renewable energy. I have long been interested in where food comes from. 

First, we used the map to locate the state of Nebraska and where it is in relation to the state of California, as I introduced myself and my academic journey. Next, we asked the kids to tell us their favorite fruits, which led us to discuss the difference between and fruit and a vegetable. We started grouping the fruits into clusters according to which fruits are related (biologically) and where the fruits are grown (geographically). 
 

Where does food come from?

We talked about how plants harness the sun's energy to make sugar, and the sugar content of fruits is why we like to eat them. I wrote the chemical reaction for photosynthesis on the board. Then we talked about things like solar panels, where we use chemistry to capture energy from the sun. We used the map to talk about why certain plants are grown in the desert and other plants are grown in the mountains.

How do you get energy from food?

I wrote the chemical reaction for metabolism on the board. Then I wrote the chemical reaction for combustion on the board. I emphasized that both reactions require a hydrocarbon (fuel) and oxygen, and both reactions produce carbon dioxide and water. We talked about different forms of transportation (bus, train, plane, car) and how cars can now run on gasoline, electricity, and biofuel. We talked a little about how plants consume carbon dioxide and how people consume oxygen. The kids had studied "food webs" and had a good understanding about how plants are the bottom of the food chain and how things decompose after they are no longer alive.

How does food get to you?

I told the kids that I grow my own food in a garden. They have a student garden at their school, so I gave them a packet of seeds. We talked about renewable and nonrenewable sources of energy. The kids discussed this in groups and then put their conclusions on the board. They knew but didn't write that electricity comes from coal-burning. We talked about how fossil fuels were created when plants and animals died millions of years ago and became trapped under many layers of dirt. Oil, natural gas, and coal are examples of nonrenewable energy. Even using an electric car still indirectly involves combustion of fossil fuel if the electricity is generated in a coal-fired process. 

The importance of innovation

I told them that if we had more time, we could have talked about organic vs. non-organic foods. If we had more time, we could have talked more about the energetic cost of recycling versus mining or synthesis of new materials. We talked about aluminum and plastic and why it is better to have reusable containers. I could have encouraged them to grow their seeds in recycled "upcycled" paper cups like I do. I did tell them that they are the future of science and it would be great if they could invent more efficient processes for recycling aluminum and plastic.

Plants make more than just sugar

I showed them a molecular model of capsaicin. I told them that Cayenne peppers are hot because of this molecule. I told them that capsaicin is used in pepper spray (defense) and creams for treating shingles (analgesic). If we had more time, I could have talked about how birds don't "chew" and also don't sense the heat of the hot pepper. The pepper plant relies on birds to disperse its seeds. The capsaicin molecule deters mammals from eating the pepper. Mammals chew and destroy the seeds so the plant has evolved to defend itself.

We could probably have talked more about climate change...
http://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/climatescience/climatesciencenarratives.html
but as I told the kids, there's a lot to learn in college and that's a lesson for another day!


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Bicycle Infrastructure Networks: A Quantitative Analysis

The concept of a link-to-node ratio first came to my attention last year.  I was probably just reading something online, without saving the link, but it made such an impression that I told my students about it.  I used the published works of Wesley E. Marshall and Norman W. Garrick, two civil engineers, to explain the difference between qualitative and quantitative analysis.  I drew pictures like the ones at right and below and told students how Marshall, Garrick and their colleague Daniel Piatkowski (an NSF IGERT Fellow in sustainable urban infrastructure) correlated the connectivity and design of cities with rates of obesity.  Their study concluded that straighter streets laid out in a grid housed a smaller number of obese residents, compared with suburbs where residents spent less time walking and more time driving.  Makes sense, right?  We were discussing "pattern recognition" as a part of the scientific method.

So then goes by 7 months and I had a hard time finding the original article, while my brain still remembered the shapes of the neighborhoods from whatever I had been reading.  I haven't been able to retreive the original article by Marshall, Piatkowski, and Garrick (I have requested it via interlibrary loan) but at least I found the article in The Atlantic, which is probably where I originally was reading about this idea in the first place.

The figure below is from another paper by Marshall and Garrick (2010) for which I could get a full text version.  It made me think that Glendale, CA is a nice grid, circa 1930.  Our neighborhood, at least.  Our house was built in 1922.  The population of Glendale exploded, increasing 4.5x between 1920 and 1930 due to film and aviation industries. The population of Glendale boomed again in the 1980s with the arrival of many thousands of immigrants, especially from Armenia, the Middle East, Korea, Mexico, and the Philippines.

As I bike around Glendale, I wonder what it would be like to have just moved here.  It's recent enough that I remember.  I definitely didn't feel safe riding a bicycle, not for fear of getting lost because Glendale is small and there are large landmarks such as the Americana at Brand (centrally-located), the tall buildings of Downtown LA (to the South), and the Verdugo Mountains (to the North).  It just feels like the city is disjointed, very few of the bike lanes intersect.  It would be hard to ride a loop with continuous bike lanes.

Things have improved since I moved here.  Central Ave has a short stretch of bike lane.  There are sharrows along Broadway.  So I wanted to apply the link-to-node analysis so eloquently described by Jessica Schoner and Jennifer Dill in their respective papers.  First, I assembled a list of bicycle infrastructure from Google Maps, the City of Glendale Bicycle Transportation Plan, and Implementation of Bicycle Transportation Plan Phase I Project.

https://walkbikeglendale.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/monitoring-glendales-bicycle-transportation-plan-implementation/

I printed out the map from Phase 1 Bikeway Improvement Recommendations because it seemed easiest to draw on.  Actually first I tried mapping all the lanes in Google Maps and after I got to 10 layers, it wouldn't let me draw any more.  So I did it by hand.  I counted up the number of segments, "links," and the termini of each segment as well as intersections between segments, "nodes."  I calculated the alpha, beta, eta and gamma indices.

Probably the easiest to understand is the beta index, which is a ratio of links to nodes.  Glendale scores a 0.72.  Higher beta values constitute a more complex network, whereas lower beta values mean that a cyclist would have to ride in traffic where the network fails to connect points of interest.  By this parameter, it seems Glendale is doing OK.


The gamma index is a ratio of observed edges to the theoretical maximum.  Glendale scores a 0.25.  Higher values of gamma indicate greater internal connectivity and increased redundancy in the network, providing a cyclist with greater choices.  I believe Glendale is not doing so well in this area.

The alpha index is the ratio of the number of actual circuits to the maximum number of circuits.  If the value is zero, then it indicates no circuits; and if the value is 100 then it indicates complete interconnected network.  Glendale scores a -0.13.  This is what I expected since it seems our network is very disconnected with no possible circuits.

The eta index measures the average edge length in the network.  For Glendale, the average length of segment is 1.18 miles.  I guess this is pretty good, but if you cut the city up into segments that don't meet, you could theoretically place a bunch of 1 mile segments all over the city that leave cyclists without a safe way of getting from point A at let's say the West part of South Glendale to point B (maybe the Southeast end of South Glendale or North Glendale).  Considering our city covers 30 square miles, I think we can do better (longer average segment length).

Comparing Glendale with the data on 74 US cities (Schoner, 2014), we have 47.4 km of network length.  The mean was 300.  Our number of nodes was 47 compared with a mean of 202.  Our number of links was 34 compared with an average of 191.  The mean beta index was 0.81, the mean gamma index was 0.29, and the average alpha index was 0.03.

The thing I thought that was really neat about Schoner's work was that she correlated these beta, alpha, and gamma indices with the number of bicycle commuters per 10,000 commuters.  Grouping these factors was the result of exploratory principle component analysis to reduce 18 measures into five factors.  What she calls "factor two" describes internal connectivity and complexity of the bicycle infrastructure network.  With and without correcting for city size and demograpics, Schoner found that network connectivity (as quantified by alpha, beta, and gamma indices, among other factors) is positively correlated with increased numbers of bicycle commuters.

The bottom line is that GLENDALE CAN DO BETTER and if we keep pushing for INCREASED FUNDING FOR BIKING AND WALKING projects in the San Fernando Valley Council of Governments Mobility Matrix perhaps we can increase our city's profile among bikable cities with interconnected networks of bike lanes.

P.S. Somehow this blog post ended up on a scenic detour to La Cañada Flintridge, originally envisioned in 1912 as a wealthy suburb for the burgeoning city of Pasadena.  In the recent press, La Cañada Flintridge has been accused of ignoring the restrictions on water use, having been found to have the highest per capita water use in Los Angeles County.  I bet they also have a sparse neighborhood layout.

P. P. S. We're riding the Jewel City Gear Grinder ride this weekend to preview the route.  The actual ride is on June 7th, 2015 and costs $50 for the 50 miler, $35 for the 35 miler, and $20 for the family ride.  Proceeds benefit the Glendale YWCA, ARK Family Center and the City of Glendale Police Activity League (PAL).  You can register here.

References

Dill, Jennifer. "Measuring Network Connectivity for Bicycling and Walking" (2004) Transportation Research Board (TRB) Annual Meeting. [linked here]

Marshall, Wesley E. and Garrick, Norman W. "Street Network Types and Road Safety: A Study of 24 California Cities." Urban Design International (2010) 15, 133–147. [linked here]

Schoner, Jessica E. "The Missing Link: Bicycle Infrastructure Networks and Ridership in 74 US Cities" Transportation (2014) Volume 41, Issue 6, pp 1187-1204. [linked here]

Marshall, Wesley E.; Piatkowski, Daniel P.; Garrick, Norman W. "Community design, street networks, and public health" Journal of Transport & Health (2014) Volume 1, Issue 4, pp 326-340.

Hamblin, James. "Do We Look Fat in These Suburbs?" The Atlantic. August 13, 2014.
http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/08/blame-the-city/375888/ 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

smartphones and tablets in my classroom



I must say that students' reliance on their mobile devices is making me uncomfortable. Until there is a 1:1 ratio between students:tablets (of equivalent capability) I don't think that these devices have a place in my classroom.

The true source of my apprehension is a frustration based on my direct observations that students are unwilling to do the same amount of work that I am doing. After all, they are the ones who are paying money to be in my classroom, so shouldn't they be willing to do the recommended work to achieve their goal (whatever that may be)?

What I mean, specifically, is that when I take the time and put forth the effort to write a problem on the board, I expect students to also write it down. My mantra has become "WRITE IT DOWN." But despite my chanting, ranting, and jumping up and down, throwing markers, and losing my temper with students who do it: students are still caught writing nothing down and taking a picture with their mobile device just at the moment when I have finished writing out the problem and circling the answer.

When I find myself at my wit's end, I have to do some research and writing (in true scholarly fashion) to see what others think about this issue. One article cited a study that found "excessive use of technology reduces people’s intelligence more than twice as much as heavy marijuana use." This is one of my worries. I think students are quick to turn to their devices (which are NOT allowed on the day of the exam) for answers, or to supplant traditional notetaking. How are they to solve problems without access to their device? How are they to recall a problem-solving process if they have not been engaged while we are going along? Paying attention to the last 0.5 seconds is not the same as writing down each step.

The same article cited a second study that suggested people are becoming "less likely to want to experience things that take long periods of time or that do not provide instant gratification." I also see this. When it takes me longer than 20 seconds to get an answer to a problem, I hear long sighs from the students in the class, as if they are thinking "How much longer is this wack-o teacher going to spend getting an answer to this problem?" I also see it during exams. When 55 minutes have passed, students are squiriming, flipping pages aggressively, and breathing heavily as if they have run out of patience for the work.

A book chapter about digital notebooks from 'Reinventing Writing: The 9 Tools That Are Changing Writing, Teaching, and Learning Forever' by Vicki Davis (2014) p. 48-49 lists the following concerns:
  • Students don't have an organizing system of any kind to review, sort, or file notes.
  • They run out of room on their phone or tablet and delete the notes because they don't know where they are.
  • Students mix note pictures with personal pictures, which get deleted and lost.
  • Students don't know whether they took the notes on their phone, tablet, or PC. There's no synchronization.
  • Students replace electronics and forget to move notes.
  • Paper notes don't combine with their electronic notes -- there's no system for merging them.
Some of these are concerns I had never even considered, but I have experienced in my own learning process.
at the end of a lecture, I am exhausted

I don't have all the answers, but my argument at the moment is based on equality. Until every student in my classroom has the equivalent tablet, I don't think it's fair for some people who have the technology to be able to take pictures of the board while others who don't have the technology are not able to do so. I also wonder if there will come a day in my teaching career when students are allowed to take an exam on their tablet with access to all the wonderful pictures they have captured. At least that would encourage students to organize all the information on their device.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

lithium orotate

It has been some time since a chemical story has come to my attention. When a colleague suggested that lithium orotate is "better" than lithium carbonate, I felt compelled to investigate.

Lithium in its drug form comes in many names.
(lithium or lithium carbonate or calith or camcolit* or carbolit* or ceglution or duralith or durolith or eskalith or hypnorex or hynorex or hyponrex or lentolith or licab or licarb or licarbium or lidin or lilipin or li?liquid or li-liquid or lilitin or limas or liskonum or litarex or lithan or lithane or litheum or lithicarb or lithionate or lithizine or lithobid or lithocarb or lithocap or lithonate or lithosun or lithotabs or litheril or litilent or manialit* or maniprex or phanate or phasal or plenur or priadel or quilonium or quilonorm or quilonum or teralithe or theralite)

Oral doses of lithium in the soda 7 Up, originally named "Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda," were available from 1929 to 1940 in the form of lithium citrate.

Within the review by Fairweather-Tait and Hurrell, it was reported that Schlebusch, et al. found magnesium orotate to have a higher bioavailability than magnesium hydroxycarbonate.  Other studies reported magnesium oxide with a lower bioavailability than magnesium citrate or magnesium aspartate, and magnesium from foods is as bioavailable as magnesium acetate, but the bioavailability of magnesium chloride is much lower than food or the acetate salt.  The study by Schlebusch was based on 14 healthy male volunteers with 5 samples collected over a 12 hour period. Hardly a large-scale clinical trial.

Andermann and Dietz compared three forms of zinc in rabbits.  They found zinc pantothenate and zinc sulfate were not significantly different (bioequivalent) whereas the plasma concentration after injection with zinc orotate had a faster distribution and elimination.  With oral administration, zinc orotate had a slower absorption phase, compared with that of the other two salts.  Magnesium and zinc are not the same ion as lithium, neither in size nor charge.

Balon wrote a letter to the editor of Annals of Clinical Psychiatry to share his opinion that lithium orotate, for self-diagnosed bipolar disorder is dangerous because this preparation is unregulated by the FDA and has not been fully investigated for toxicity in acute overdose and the long-term effects to the thyroid and kidney.  Lithium orotate is readily available online or over the counter.

Smith, A. J. et al. reported in 2014 the investigation of lithium salicylate and lithium lactate, which have markedly different pharmacokinetics than the more common FDA-approved salt, lithium carbonate.  Lithium salicylate produced elevated plasma and brain levels of lithium beyond 48 hours post-dose without a sharp peak, which is currrently observed with lithium carbonate.

Sartori reported in the journal Alcohol in 1986 with a group of 42 alcholic patients (33 males and 9 females) that treatment with lithium orotate proved useful as the main pharmacologic agent for the treatment of alcoholism.  The conclusion of the study was that a daily dose (150mg) given 4-5 times weekly was sufficient to for side-effects to subside, which included muscle weakness, loss of appetite or mild apathy.  Further advantages to lithium therapy included improved liver and cardiovascular function, reduction of migraine headaches, amelioration of seizures, improved white blood cell counts in leukopenia, reduction of edema in liver cirrhosis, suppression of manic episodes, and reversal of hyperthyroidism.  Does lithium orotate sound like a wonder drug to you?


In the review by O'Donnell and Gould, the mode of action of lithium is explored, shown in the above diagram (Fig.1).  This review focuses on the action of lithium carbonate in rodents (rat, mouse).  It is easier to investigate drug action in small mammals because they fit easily in laboratory shelves and can be sacrificed when it is time to harvest organs for analysis.  Rodents are easier to control in terms of diet and exercise, to isolate the variable of interest.  Transgenic mice or pharmacological
probes can be used to investigate how the factors associated with clinical disorders are reflected in the behavior of laboratory animals, which is where our current understanding of genetics, cell and molecular biology are advancing the field.  However since it is impossible to ask a mouse how it is feeling, it is difficult to use rodents to measure the efficacy of a mood disorder treatment.

Lastly, I wanted to discuss a meta-analysis conducted by Andrea Cipriana, et al. which aims to include studies on human subjects (sample size ranging between 4 patients to 418 patients).  This study found that lithium was associated with a reduced risk of suicide (by more than 60%) and a reduced risk of self-harm.  The side-effects of lithium included reduced renal (kidney) function, hypothyroidism, hyperparathyroidism, and weight gain.  Although this study does not address the bioavailability of lithium carbonate versus lithium orotate, it does show that lithium has its uses in the treatment of affective disorders.

After all this scientific research, I consulted the resource most people turn to nowadays, Wikipedia. The page connected some dots for me, since I am not an expert in clinical psychiatry or pharmacokinetics.  "Major medical research has not been conducted on lithium orotate since the 1980s due to...the abundant availability of lithium carbonate."  Through the Wikipedia page, I found the article by D. F. Smith, which showed no differences between three forms of lithium (orotate, carbonate, and chloride) but only studied 4-9 rats at a time.  This small sample size is not too convincing.  A nice story of the history of lithium carbonate is told by the RSC in a podcast you can download here originally posted on 25 April 2012.

References:

Andermann, G. and Dietz, M. "The bioavailability and pharmokinetics of three zinc salts: zinc pantothenate, zinc sulfate, and zinc orotate." European Journal of Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics (1982) Vol. 7, Iss. 3, p. 233-239.

Balon, R. "Possible dangers of a 'nutritional supplement' lithium orotate" Annals of Clinical Psychiatry (2013) Vol. 25, No. 1, p. 71.

Cipriana, A.; Hawton, K.; Stockton, S.; Geddes, J. R. "Lithium in the prevention of suicide in mood disorders: updated systematic review and meta-analysis" British Medical Journal (2013) Vol. 346, doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f3646

Digital Deli, The. Golden Age Radio Spotlight on Advertising. http://www.digitaldeliftp.com/LookAround/advertspot_7-up.htm (accessed March 3, 2015)

Fairweather-Tait, S. and Hurrell, R. F. "Bioavailability of minerals and trace elements" Nutrition Research Reviews (1996) Vol. 9, p. 295-324.

O'Donnell, K. C. and Gould, T. D. "The behavioral actions of lithium in rodent models: leads to develop novel therapeutics" Neuroscience and Behavoiral Reviews (2007) Vol. 31, p. 932-962.

Royal Society of Chemistry. "Chemistry in its element: compounds" by Chemistry World. http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/podcast/CIIEcompounds/transcripts/lithium_carbonate.asp (accessed March 3, 2015)

Sartori, H. E. "Lithium orotate in the treatment of alcoholism and related conditions" Alcohol (1986) Vol. 3, Iss. 2, p. 97-100.

Schlebusch, H; Pietrzik, K; Gillesschmogner, G; Zein, A. "Bioavailability of magnesium from magnesiumorotate and magnesiumhydroxycarbonate" Medizinische Welt (1992) Vol. 43, Iss. 6, p.523-528

Smith, A. J.; Kim, S.-H.; Tan, J.; Sneed, K. B.; Sanberg, P. R.; Borlongan, C. V.; Shytle, R. D. "Plasma and brain pharmacokinetics of previously unexplored lithium salts" RSC Advances (2014) Vol. 4, p. 12362-12365.

Smith, D. F. "Lithium orotate, carbonate and chloride: pharmacokinetics, polydipsia and polyuria in rats" British Journal of Pharmacology (1976) Vol. 56, p. 399-402.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Ride 2 Recovery

14 year old Michelle Morlock will be participating in two Ride 2 Recovery (R2R) Challenges in 2015. This young lady is an inspiration to me and I want to help spread the word about her 2015 fundraising goals.

R2R is a 501c3 that uses cycling as the core activity to help Active Duty Military and Veterans to recover from both physical and non visible injuries through cycling. R2R puts on approximately 6 to 7 Challenge Rides a year. Each Challenge Ride is approximatly 350 to 450 miles ridden over 6 to 7 days. All hotels, meals, loaner bikes and support are provided at no charge to the injured Veterans.

Civilians that wish to participate in these rides can. They are however required to raise $3,000 for R2R. 14 year old Michelle Morlock of Los Angeles will be riding in the Texas Challange in April riding from Houston to Ft. Worth. Then in September the Army Vs. Navy Challenge riding from West Point N.Y. to Annapolis Md. You go girl!

Project Hero ride, January 25, 2015 (Michelle at far right)
You can help Michelle reach her fundraising goal in one of three ways:

(1) by donating online. Visit https://ride2recovery.com/donate.php  Type in her name Michelle Morlock.

(2) by mailing in a check. Please remember to put in the notes section = Sponsor Rider Michelle Morlock. The mailing address is:

Ride 2 Recovery
attn: Donations
23679 Calabasas Rd. #420
Calabasas, CA 91302

(3) attend a fundraiser dinner. @ Bob's Big Boy (4211 W Riverside Dr, Burbank. CA 91505) from 3-9:30pm on Friday, May 15th. 15% of proceeds from that time period will automatically go towards supporting Michelle in her challenge fundraising.

Any amount you are comfortable with (even a number of $10 donations will add up) will help Michelle reach her targets for the Texas & Army vs. Navy Challanges. Donations from $1 to $1,000.00 will be accepted.  

Included in the R2R family of programs is Project HERO. Project HERO are the local branches of R2R that recruits and trains the Veterans to participate in the Challenge rides. There are over 50 Project HERO programs nationally with 3 in Los Angeles County.

Project Hero training ride, January 25, 2015, 56 mile route
I have been riding with Project Hero Hollywood and Michelle for several months and I'm impressed with her strength and positive attitude.  She is our fearless leader, who sets the pace for the group. She skillfully navigated 17 mph wind gusts on our January ride.  I have no doubt she will be successful in completing the two challenges this year.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

commuting

This new year I had a few simple resolutions 1) eat out less, cook more at home 2) drive less, bike to work more.  These resolutions expanded into 3) join a gym, do more yoga and zumba 4) run a half-marathon, pain-free.

The things I have learned commuting are: you can't go from riding ~150 miles per month to ~250 miles per month overnight.  You have to lighten up and bring fewer things with you.  You can't expect to hurry.  You will be hungry.

When I do more, I eat better.  When I eat better, I have more energy.  When I feel better, I sleep better.  But life isn't perfect.  I've ridden to Pasadena 4 times and driven 2 times.  When I bike, I feel more relaxed.  When I drive, I have more time.

The thing that has really slowed me down is my posterior tibialis.  It hurts.  I didn't go see a doctor about it, instead I used the athletes treating athletes blog.  I understand it is likely due to unsupported ankles.  Maybe too much jumping on and off my bike.  Maybe too much Zumba?  Not enough stretching?  Wearing old shoes with not enough support?

Some guy pulled up next to me on the Colorado Street bridge and just as he drove through my blind spot, he honked.  I got so startled, I nearly jumped off my bike.  There are no signs saying "Share The Road" but there are also no signs saying "No Bicycles On Bridge" so why was that guy honking?

Some guy pulled up next to me near downtown Pasadena on Colorado and yelled "I wish I was your bike seat!"  That was also alarming because he was holding up traffic to drive at my pace.  Dudes, fellas, and guys: let a lady ride her bike in peace!

I was riding up Colorado through Eagle Rock and some guy flew by me on an e-bike.  It was humbling.  We were pedaling at an equal cadence, so how could he pass me on that uphill?  My persistence was rewarded when I (almost) caught up to him at a stoplight.  Then he sped off.

At least I have bike lanes almost all the way to school.




Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Top 10 list

I've been pondering a question lately: if you could keep only 10 possessions, which would they be? The reasons I'm thinking about this are twofold: I live in a 327 square foot house AND I'm still considering a cross-country bicycle trip.  If you live in a small house, it's silly to be a pack-rat.  And if you plan to live for a couple of months on the road, carrying the weight of everything with you, it's time to think about which items are really meaningful and which items are just heavy junk.

Obviously, I would keep my bicycle.  This is the first grown-up bike I have owned and we've been through so much together.  I took this beauty with me when I left for college, riding out what is now called The Links trail for some much-needed escape from the busy campus life at University of Nebraska at Kearney.  I rode to and from Arizona State University in Tempe as a graduate student and to University of California, Riverside along bike lanes and trolley routes.  I've taken this bike down to Newport Beach along the San Gabriel River Trail.  It's one of my core possessions that is almost as important to me as my heart.

I would keep a journal.  I've been writing in a journal since I was about 12 or 13.  I kept one all through high school.  I wrote periodically through college and started writing regularly again in graduate school.  Of course, I would try to keep something lightweight, but this is a deal-breaker, I would not undertake a journey of a lifetime without a hardcopy journal.  There's no need for electricity, but I would also need to being a pen or two to write, sketch, and think.

There are several water bottles that I've had over the years that I love.  On a long trip, I would have to bring at least one water bottle.  I like one that has writing on it that shows where you biked from.  I used to have one from Arizona but it got so old and weathered that it started leaking from the side.  The one I carry now is from California and I think that if I went on a long trip, I would like to keep that one or something like it.  Obviously the helmet is a necessity.  The things you have to bring are not as fun as the things you choose to bring, but can we just go ahead and include tools, pump, patch kit, spare tubes, and panniers as one thing?

I would need a tent.  And a sleeping bag.  Can we use our bicycle lights as a flashlight?  I don't think I would bring an entire camping stove.  I don't think I would bring lots of food either.  I saw the video below a while back and it really stuck with me.


I would definitely have to take some toiletries.  Does this mean I would need a small towel?  I gotta wash my face, hair, body and brush my teeth.  Also have to include sunscreen.  I guess I would also have to include some clothing so I'm not biking naked.  This means socks, bike shorts, jersey, jacket, sports bra, and shoes.  Possibly also a hat and sunglasses.

I'm sure I'm up to my 10 items.  What's on your list?