Wednesday, August 27, 2014

personal style

Thinking back to my earliest attempts at personal style, I remember the grunge era. I had a couple of flannel shirts and a few pairs of Dickies and one sweet pair of Airwalk shoes.  I always felt like a tomboy and these were the first clothes that I picked for myself.  After grunge gave way to the Spice Girls, I identified with Mel C and styled myself "sporty spice" which didn't make much sense since I didn't play any sport.

In college, I didn't give much thought at all to my clothing. Partly because I went to school in a rural area where the shopping options included Wal-Mart and a really expensive department store. In graduate school, I started teaching. I lived in the Sonoran, Mojave and Chihuahua desert regions therefore my clothing consisted mostly of culottes and a pair of white eyelet capri pants.  My tops were not given much thought either, but I started wearing bright colors more.

My first year of teaching in the community college, I wore slacks (or jean-like pants that were not blue denim).  I loved plants with spandex on the first day after washing, but after wearing them for awhile, they tended to be effected by the gravitational pull, exposing the top of my underpants.  Or my belly.  Either way, totally unacceptable.  I found a large set of polo shirts to be perfect tops.  Some were short sleeved, some were elbow-length, and some were three-quarter sleeved.  They were in a variety of pastel and non-threatening single colors (absolutely no horizontal stripes).  I liked things without prints.

When I started graduate school (again) I survived mostly on the same outfits that I had used for teaching but my dress got even more casual with days of working in the lab and no longer teaching.  I dressed up a bit more if we were hosting an invited speaker, but nothing like a business suit and certainly no skirts or dresses (with the exception of my wedding!).  I amassed a great collection of 'nerd shirts' which are given away at conferences and have slogans printed on them like "lab rat," and "give precise details of sample preparation."

After school, I landed a fantastic job at a private liberal arts college.  My friend's mom had been a teacher and offered me two gigantic bags of her "teaching wardrobe" for my new work environment.  She liked prints (flowers mostly) and the color purple.  She gave me lots of dresses!  I found a store called "It's A Wrap" that sells second hand clothing from television and movies.  Each semester I spent at least $200 on work clothes.  Somehow that doesn't sound like a lot, but it was a time that I felt free to express my personal style and invest in myself.  I was conscious about my appearance and I wanted to highlight my femininity since I was teaching at a women's college (in the Spring semesters, at least).

For the fall semesters, I got a bunch of brightly colored skinny jeans from Express and a new pair of glasses à la hipster.  I like to make fun of LA hipsters and their fixed gear bikes, but maybe I'm closer to one of them.  I am artistic, but not pretentious, and I do incorporate vintage (read: thrift store) pieces into my wardrobe.  When I left that school, I got a faux-hawk and my department chair told me they were losing the most unconventional dresser in the department.  I still can't decide if that is a compliment or something that I should have considered during my appointment as a direction to tone down my wardrobe.

I moved to the school I'm at now and my style has evolved (or devolved).  I backtracked to Old Navy for a half-dress, half-business casual wardrobe at the beginning of working there.  Now I am sporting a $40 wardrobe from Goodwill.  I do think it's a shame to wear brand new clothing that was probably sewn by child laborers in Bangladesh.  That's why I prefer second-hand.  I'm teaching labs again so I need all natural fibers and clothing that won't suffer sticker-shock if it is ruined by acid or dissolves in a solvent.  I don't take the liberty to consider myself a fashion icon, but that doesn't mean I don't have a personal style.

I would like to think that I dress age-appropriate and work-appropriate.  One lifestyle consideration is that I get to work by bicycle, which is why skinny jeans are so great.  No excess fabric to get caught in your chain.  I do enjoy biking in skirts, with bloomers or bike shorts underneath of course.  It's fun to have a dress flapping in the breeze, but pencil skirts don't work so well.  Neither do the trend of longer skirts.  There are certain colors I like, such as turquoise.  I think it brings out my hazel eyes.  
I have a few pairs of shoes that I like but they're starting to wear out.  One pair of red Pumas I got in Switzerland brings back good memories.  Another pair of hot pink Nikes I bought for the Color Run makes me smile.  I also love my tennis-ball fluorescent yellow shoes I found at Old Navy.  When I completed the statement "I need more _________ in my life," one of the words that came to mind was "shoes."  I would probably get this pair of Toms if they weren't $54.  Another thought I had was "I need more flowers in my life."  I still wear lots of solid colors, but I'm more open to prints, especially ones involving flowers.  I won't say women in science have it easy, but we do have choices.  What we choose to wear under our labcoats makes us unique.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

What is learning?

Reflecting on great moments in my life, I realize that painful lessons are the most indelible.  Therefore when my students cry out "this is too hard," I think of the phrase "no pain, no gain."  I'm not a weightlifting coach, I'm a chemistry teacher.

I have my own experience as a learner and at least 9 solid years of experience teaching dance and chemistry.  Tell me you've taken a dance class that was pain-free.  You're training your body to move in new ways that are unfamiliar.  You may get your foot stepped on (in a ballroom dance class) or reach for your toes (in a ballet class).  These painful experiences create muscle memory and your body will attempt to avoid this pain by either correcting your steps or limbering up your hamstrings.

In science, these pains are invisible but no less real.  As the mind stretches to comprehend new paradigms of atomic theory and reactivity patterns of elements, it will balk at the complexity and abstraction associated with this mode of thought.  This is like your tight hamstrings that have trouble loosening up to accommodate your port-de-bras.  When the mouth articulates a name like "Avogadro" or a phrase such as "Kinetic Molecular Theory," the tongue and lips may fumble at the new words.  These experiences are no different than forgetting to break-on-two.

I wanted to do some reading about "learning" to see what other people thought about it.  After all, I am of the "educational variety" and want to know the professional buzzwords that are currently being tossed around.  But when I hear the word "pedagogy" it's like my brain turns to jell-o.

Plant a a teacher!

I can understand the definition of "pedagogy" is the art and science of teaching.  This is how my students must feel when they first enounter the word "stoichiometry."  It's a strange-sounding word with a lot of consonants and vowels that represents a pretty complex idea.  My approach to pedagogy is to challenge students, kind of like punching a bop bag, and then let them recover before challenging them again.  I don't know if this is supported by neuroscience, I've just found that students can take only so much pain before they give up.

Besides the "how" of teaching, there are students' learning styles to consider.  After all, it's not so important to talk at students (lecture) but more important to focus on how students acquire new skills and ideas.  This depends on individual's learning styles.  Since each individual is a hybrid of all these styles, it's important to be a dynamic teacher that can cater to all of these styles.  Cognative psychologist Daniel Willingham argues that this theory pigeonholes students unnecessarily and that the content you are trying to cover should determine the mode of delivery. Either way, I try to be mindful of employing all of these styles in the course of a semester.  I have also read that when students are more aware of their learning preferences, they can employ metacognition to enhance their success in any course.

Why study STEM?  Quantitative science is essential to understanding the world around you!


Competencies / Learning Objectives
Learning Styles
Lesson Planning
Buzzwords in Pedagogy

Monday, August 18, 2014

248th ACS National Meeting Digest

Whew! What a conference experience~!

Sunday, August 10, 2014 *Improv Day
9:00am "From transient to persistent propargyl radicals: Exploiting a steric factor" Gadik Melikyan
10:20am "Total synthesis of polycarcin V and exploration of its DNA-binding properties" Tom Minehan
Lunch = ACS Board of Directors "The wonders of the periodic table" Sam Kean
1:30pm "Improvisation Training for Chemists" Lydia Franco-Hodges
6:00pm "Asymmetric bis(terpyridine) ruthenium dimers as ketone transfer hydrogenation catalysts" Eric Kelson

Monday, August 11, 2014 *SciMix Day
7:00am ACS Member Insurance/Younger Chemists Committee 5k FUN RUN!!!!!!!!!!! Loved running by Keith Haring, "Untitled" (Three Dancing Figures), Version A, Edition 2/3, 1989, painted aluminum.
10am-2pm Naptime... zzzzzzzzzzzzzz! I was wiped out from traveling and doing the fun run...
8:00pm SciMix poster session
"Metabolic profiling of the rat gut microbiome" Cynthia Larive
"Preparation of asymmetric bis(terpyridine) ruthenium dimers: Ligand substituent effects on ketone transfer hydrogenation energy" Eric Kelson
"Assessment of three dairy waste management practices in the removal of common vetenary antibiotics" and "Chemical and biological assessment of the change in endocrine disrupting chemicals through a pasturization-digestion treatment of dairy manure" Diana Aga

Tuesday, August 12, 2014 *Communication Day
Slept in... zzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Lunch = hot dog
1:00pm "Communicating Science to the Public" Introduction byTom Barton (ACS President)
1:10pm "Engaging different audiences" Panel: Susan Morrisey (Assistant Managing Editor, C&EN), Christopher Avery (AAAS Policy Fellow, DOE), Darcy Gentleman (ACS Office of Public Affairs), Terri Taylor (K-12 Education at ACS), Amanda Yarrnell (Assistant Managing Editor, C&EN) and breakout sessions
Video reporting of discussion breakouts
3:00pm "Laugh, share, and demo: Chemunicator advice" Rudy Baum (C&EN), Peter Ludovice (Georgia Tech), Matthew Hartings (American U, @sciencegeist), Diane M. Bunce (The Catholic University of America)
4:10pm "Effective videomaking" Adam Dylewski (@ACSReactions)
SWAM IN THE BAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014 *Conference Hookey Day
BICYCLE ADVENTURE!!!!!!!! Rode from Pacifica State Beach along Half Moon Bay.
We biked a 16.77 mi route through Devil's Slide and along Hwy 1 (scary) to a bike trail along Half Moon Bay. The route had a total ascent of 828.63 ft.  This route burned 966 Cal even though we decided to take Bus Route 17 back to our car.

Thursday, August 14, 2014 *Global Stewardship Day
Slept in... zzzzzzzzzzzzzz
10:15am Monitoring and Evaluating Environmental Exposures: Case Studies Incorporating Statistical Approaches to Evaluate and Predict from Large and Fuzzy Datasets
Lunch = hotdog
12:40pm "IUPAC: Emerging Issues and Challenges Global Food Production and Food Security"
"Global Food Challenges and trade policy considerations" Tim Josling (Food Research Institute at Stanford University)
1:00pm "Sustainable improvement of agricultural yields through the application of modern biotechnology" Bruce Chassy (Food Safety and Nutritional Sciences, U of Illinois Urbana-Champaign)
Poster session "Synthetic elicitor, CMP442, increases innate plant resistance to pathogens" Thomas Eulgem
2:00pm "Enhancing global food security through sustainable pest and disease management"
Terrance M. Hurley (Department of Applied Economics, University of Minnesota)
Panel Discussion = very interesting!
Made risotto for dinner = YUM!
ZYDECO DANCING at Yoshi's Oakland, Jeffery Broussard & the Creole Cowboys!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, August 15, 2014 *Dharma Day in Marin County
Friday Morning Meditation and Yoga Class with Dana DePalma and Ashley Sharp (yoga) at Spirit Rock
Pt. Reyes BIKE RIDE!!!!!!!!!!! We biked 17.88 mi. The route has a total ascent of 1626.54 ft. We saw a herd of Tule Elk.  This ride burned 965 Cal.

Saturday, August 16, 2014 *Thank a Farmer Day
We rode our bikes to the Alemany Farmer's Market. It was HUGE. Immense. Sprawling. Diverse. Our route was 4.91 mi. The route has a total ascent of 316.8 ft and has a maximum elevation of 242.16 ft. After we got home, we headed over to Walnut Creek for "An Afternoon of Rumi" which was spiritually fullfilling. We had an All-American summer family farewell dinner with hamburgers, corn on the cob, and watermelon.

The greener meeting challenge was a no-brainer since I biked to and from the conference center, staying with a family member negated the need for changing sheets and a maid service.  I biked a total of 40 miles that week via Route 47 and 50 in San Francisco.  I walked to and from Union Square and Moscone many times on Sunday, August 10th.  I enjoyed the Fun Run with City Running Tours as a way to see the city in a running group.  I had the water bottle from my bicycle, which I refilled at the bottle station in Moscone North.  The conference theme was inspiring!  Thanks ACS.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


Today I am writing in a post-vacation conference whirlwind!  It's hard to believe it's already mid-August.  July flew by, for me at least.  I left sunny Southern California on July 21st and headed to the Pawnee County Fair in rural Nebraska.  It was a great time to connect with growing food, raising livestock, and crafting.  The 4-H'ers that I met were creative and caring, fun, serious and knowledgeable about their animals.  I got to hear the Governor of Nebraska speak about the importance of being a Livestock-Friendly county.  Nebraska is the number 1 feeder of cattle and is the number 5 state in production of popcorn!

I loved riding my bike down gravel roads, alongside tractors and horses, through small-town America.  I loved drinking $0.60 coffee at the Little Brown Jug and transporting salads from Subway to my sister's house by a bag thrown over my handlebars.  I loved the driving tour to see the buffalo and all the lakes for fishing in Pawnee county.  I loved spending time with family, including the 4-membered she-wolf pack of dog-cousins.  It was so relaxing to be there, and so fun to watch tractor pulls, rodeos, and mud volleyball.

My time in Omaha was also exciting.  We went to a botanical garden and the zoo.  We went for a nighttime ninja bike ride through the city.  We made "Cycling To Sanity" t-shirts with iron-on felt lettering.  We gathered supplies for a cotton/wool/silk dye-day.  We did a pre-sunrise bike ride along the Keystone Trail.  We dyed silk, tencel, and cotton skeins for my mom to weave her scarves.  We dyed bamboo socks.  We indigo dyed silk scarves.  All in all, it was an amazing time in Omaha.  I especially loved the day my whole (nuclear) family was there and we went out to dinner.

The days in Lincoln were no less awesome... I spent time with my grandparents at their domiciles.  My aunt and uncle joined us for dinners and lunches.  We went on a couple Hot Dog Runs (not literally running) eating outside, inside, and at a pub.  We ate on "O" street and downtown in the Haymarket.  We visited the sunken garden and places where we used to visit as kids.  I went on a solo bike ride along Billy Wolff trail that took me to the outskirts of the city and then back.  We went to Pioneers Park.  I loved honoring the heritage of our family, from the farm to the big city.  I loved hearing old stories about living without electricity and surviving the dust bowl.

All good things come to an end, just like my time in Nebraska.  I drove out here to San Francisco for the American Chemical Society national meeting.  It's been great hearing professors from Northridge give their oral presentations.  The Improvisation Training session was completely wonderful.  Running with the Younger Chemists Committee was a blast.  The SciMix poster session was very busy and I met some people I didn't expect to see, which made it more valuable than I could have planned.

This afternoon I am participating in the session "Communicating Science to the Public" which should be fun.  Tomorrow there are some session about chemistry education that I would like to attend.  Thursday there are two oral sessions that I may drop by called "Contaminants of Concern" and "Resistance Management" which are fitting considering that the theme of this meeting is "Chemistry & Global Stewardship."  Speaking of which, I had better get going.  I am LOVING riding my bike to and from the conference center.  It's 4 miles from where I'm staying so I'm getting my fill of riding in this bike-friendly city with its green lanes and totally rad bike culture.  It's like CicLAvia every day here, seriously.

Thursday, July 17, 2014


I think it's important to set goals.  Awhile back, I set a few big ones:

*Finish PhD
*Take cross-country bike trip
*Write a book
*Make fitness (exercise) video(s)
*Open a wellness center

Some of these have happened, some are yet to come, but I'm not going to lose sight of these goals.  I started this blog around the time I set the above goals.  There were many thoughts in my head and multiple directions I thought my life could go, but I know I want to help people in a broad sense.  I know I was born to teach and be a leader.  Even if I try to deny these paths, I am redirected back to them.

I want to promote a blog that I read, because it's full of good (thoughtful) content.  It's called Voices in Echo and the writing is on topics related to wellness, education and science.  The author Mike writes nearly weekly posts about the news.  He is widely-read and open-minded.  If you enjoy reading my blog, you might also enjoy reading his.  Did I mention Mike is my husband?

One fitness video I want to make is a spin workout.  Surely I could make something more engaging than this:

For me, when I get centered on "burning fat" with my workouts, they aren't fun anymore.  When you see fitness gurus that look like all they do is workout, it's hard to relate to them.  Also, riding a stationary bike is a challenge because you lose sight of where you could have gone if you were on a real bike and traveling forward, up, and down some hills.  I know you can feel the endorphins from getting your heart rate up, but where's the sense of accomplishment looking back at the monster hill you just climbed?  Or looking forward to the COWABUNGA downhill you're now able to cruise down!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Notorius RBG

"We do not have a proud track record of flattering female ambition or strength. Short a handful of super-heroines—Wonder Woman, and some characters usually most effectively embodied by Angelina Jolie—we have rarely been able to put a positive spin on the kinds of women who present an intellectual, economic, professional, or political threat to entrenched male power. Throughout history, we have acknowledged male strength, especially in its seniority, as serious and authoritative. Older women, on the other hand, have existed mostly as nanas, bubbes! Those sturdy, ambitious souls who also staked claims to public eminence were cast as problematic; tough ladies who no longer slide easily into Lycra are ball-busters, nut-crackers, and bitches." ~ Rebecca Traister

And I love this students and female MCs.  A rare and refreshing combination!  If you don't know, now you know.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Lycra doesn't last forever

Today I aimed to solve a very important problem: the full moon view through my cycling shorts!  My husband in his infinite wisdom handed me a couple hundred dollars and told me to buy some lycra for my birthday in 2009.  I bought a couple jerseys and 3 pairs of cycling shorts.  Two of them were Performance Ultra shorts and the third is only meant to be worn under another pair of shorts (in other words, it was see-through the day I bought it).

I've been wearing skirts and dresses over my cycling shorts for about a year now, embarassed at knowing that my goods are on display if I don't.  Like these suspecting (or unsuspecting women).

At least these women have underwear on.  I've tried wearing panties under cycling shorts but it kind of defeats the purpose of having a comfy chamois when you get your knickers in a bunch between your tush and the cycling shorts.  It's been suggested that you have your shorts inspected by a cycling friend once at the beginning of every season.  Hilarious (but a good idea)!

I bought a UC Riverside kit in 2012.  To my dismay, the thread is unraveling in the leg area.  I will attempt to mend it and continue to rock those bibs.  They are my most comfortable chamois.  I don't wear them often, partly because they have a white panel and I would hate to see them covered in grease.  I reserve these bibs for special (long/technical) rides.

Independence Day Ride 2013
I've already got two new pairs of yoga pants so I can get my Zumba and running on.  Bought them at Target. Both have 'secret pockets' for your ID and a house key.  They are both from a Champion line of athletic wear called C9.

Now I have bought two new pairs of cycling shorts.  Bought them online through Nashbar.

Hopefully these will last another 5 years. They are called Women's Vineyard Shorts and have a gelpad chamois.  And while we're on the delightful topic of chamois... I tried chamois butter for the first time.  It seemed like a good idea for our Independence Day Ride to be free from chafing.  I used it both days and it relieved the feeling of needing to adjust my toosh to the saddle.  You know that moment where you're squirming around trying to find just the right position?  Well I didn't have to do that.  Everthing just slid right into place.  I even used it as aftersun lotion.  If it's soothing to my bum, why shouldn't it be soothing on my arms, right?

I will close with this list of things I look for in excercise clothing:
*Bright Colors

Based on my previous posts about bras and lycra, I wanted to mention the buzz about Nike's new line of sports bras.  Will they live up to the hype?  Will they have reflectors and bright colors?  In my size?

Album of my 'best ride' photos