Saturday, December 3, 2016

Ye Olde Holiday Tyme

How to decorate your bike for the holidays!

$19.99 Fry's Electronics Cosmic Brightz
  • 10 feet of LEDs 
  • 3 AA batteries=20+ hours
  • 8 colors
  • Waterproof 

$14.99 per wheel Fry's Electronics Wheel Brightz
  • 20 LEDs in clear, flexible tubing
  • 3 AA batteries=48+ hours
  • Durable battery pack attaches onto spokes
  • 8 colors
  • Waterproof

$12.99 for a 2-pack at Target (or $15.51 at Home Depot) (or $13.38 for Martha Stewart's Brand)
  • 9 Ft long with 36 lights
  • 3 AA Battery Operated
  • Phasing and flashing options
  • 4 colors

$6.99 per light Fry's Electronics Spokelit Green
  • 2 Button Cell batteries=20+ hours
  • attaches onto spokes

Then join us on Sunday, December 18th at 5:30pm at Nibley Park in Glendale, CA.  We'll be riding a little over 6 miles at a SLOW pace through neighborhoods.  We'll be enjoying FREE HOT COCOA at Gaucho's Village as well. Bring water, a helmet, and a bike in good working condition. ALL AGES WELCOME!  Kids younger than 8 should be able to ride several miles or be on a safe child carrying device to participate on the ride.

The route is posted here: There will be a competition for "safest and brightest bike" and "safety facts for safe night riding."  Spread the word!


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Greatest Hits

This post is for all the science teachers out there seeking a practical chemistry lesson.  We're constantly encouraging our students to apply critical thinking to real world problems.  We also want them to exercise public speaking skills.  Around this time of year students get bored no matter how exciting the lesson and it's good to get them actively involved in a dynamic lesson to keep them engaged in learning.

I've been keeping this blog for 8 years and periodically I will write about a molecule or a related group of molecules.  I always try to include the chemical name and structure of the molecule.  I printed out the text of each of the posts below and gave students about 20 minutes to read and analyze the content.  I asked them to answer the following 3 questions in an oral presentation using the board:

Tell us about your molecule:

  • What does it do?
  • How does it work?
  • Draw its structure!

I had the students complete this exercise in pairs.  It was one of the most engaging lessons of the entire semester.  After each group made their presentation to the class, we spent the remaining 15 minutes covering the Drug Free Campus Policy information for students.  We talked about how some of the molecular stories were about depressants, stimulants, and club drugs.  We talked about how just because a drug is available by prescription, doesn't mean it isn't dangerous.

If you're interested in receiving the text only of the following blog posts (without all the sidebar and URL information) send me an email and I can send you a .pdf.  It's so important to engage students in the fun and exciting (and practical) applications of chemistry to give them some incentive to learn all the basics we are trying to teach them.  

Even though my class was populated with college freshmen (who have no Organic Chemistry experience) we were able to recognize common substructures in molecules with a common effect in vivo. The students can identify 5- or 6-membered rings, as well as noting heterocyclic rings and sidechain lengths, without formal training in functional groups.

I plan to write my next blog about the class of benzodiazapines including Lorazepam (Ativan) and Alprazolam (Xanax), which share a common substructure.  These molecules have a high potential for abuse.  Stay tuned!

We were able to talk about Kary Mullis in the following class period and how he enjoyed making analogues of LSD until that practice became illegal.  Maybe I can also write about ayahuasca.







Isoflavones (Part I):
Isoflavones (Part II):





Monday, October 31, 2016

MultiModal Weekend (Part III)

Having taken a bike on Friday afternoon, a car on Friday night, and a walk to the bus on Saturday (both ways), we knew we had to take a train on Sunday.  Luckily, it was a CicLAvia (open street) weekend in Downtown LA and we got to ride bicycles from Glendale to MacArthur Park with an awesome group of people.

Since we had spent the majority of the weekend talking about bike advocacy, we cut our CicLAvia experience short and caught the early train back to Glendale.

The nice thing about catching Metrolink is that it is a short 10-12 minute train ride back to Glendale and then a 10-12 minute bike ride back to our house.

Metrolink monthly pass holders (like us) can ride the train system (bus and light rail, too) for free on weekends.  Non-monthly pass holders have access to the entire system by purchasing a $10 weekend pass.  There is now an app that you can use to purchase your Metrolink pass virtually, in case your trip starts with a bus instead of starting at the Metrolink station (like we did). Screenshots from the Metrolink app are shown side-by-side below.

Remember, your bus pass will not get you on the light rail.  Nor will your light rail pass get you onto the Metrolink train.  But a Metrolink ticket will get you on the bus and light rail.

Last, but not least, if you're going for a short trip, your one-way ticket on Metrolink will be cheaper than a Day Pass.  But if you're traveling a long way (Lancaster to LA Union Station, which costs $11.50 one way) then the Day Pass will be cheaper even if you're not returning on that day to your original destination.  The app makes it easier to comparison shop on your own schedule, without having to mess around with the ticket vending machine (TVM) at the actual train depot.

There is an agreement between Amtrak and the Glendale Beeline and several other bus providers for free transfers, but LA Metro buses only offer a discount to Amtrak passengers, according to Fox 5 News San Diego. If you do take Amtrak, you must call and make a bike reservation (800-USA-RAIL).  Roll-on service is possible on the Pacific Surfliner AND the Coast Starlight.  I guess Amtrak also has a mobile app, but I don't have experience with it yet.

Also, I learned that a Metro TAP card is how you use Metro Bike Share, but I haven't tried it myself yet. Have you?

Sunday, October 30, 2016

MultiModal Weekend (Part II)

On Saturday, October 15th we took Metro Bus 94 from Glendale to Downtown LA.  It was totally liberating to travel without a car or bicycle.  It was also totally convenient since we live 0.3 miles from the San Fernando / California bus stop, and the training we were going to is 0.2 miles from the Hill St / 6th bus stop.

Of course, we wouldn't have had to leave our bikes at home to take the bus... you can always put your bike on a bus.  Also we learned that Metro has purchased enough 3-bike racks for all their buses, but they won't replace a bike rack on a bus until the old one breaks!

When people complain that Glendale isn't well served by public transit, I have to laugh because that just isn't true.  They'll say, well I have to drive because it isn't convenient for me to get to a bus stop. Or something about their schedule being not so flexible.  We left our house an hour before the event we were trying to get to, waited at the bus stop for over 10 minutes and still arrived at our destination 20 minutes early.  

Taking transit gives you the freedom to allow yourself extra time.  Therefore you arrive at your destination less stressed.  We were the first to arrive at the training we were going to.  We had time to get a cup of coffee and relax before the meeting got underway.  It's a good thing we were there early so that we were there to greet the other attendees who were worried about being in the wrong place. We didn't have to pay for parking or remember where we had left our car.

An interesting thing we learned was that 80% of people in Los Angeles county live within biking distance of Metro Rail or fixed-guideway bus service like the Orange Line.  I learned this fact from downloading the podcasts of KPFK Bike Talk.  If you haven't listened to it, it's a great way to feel like less of a bike nut.  Another thing I learned from Bike Talk is that when someone in a car makes you angry (or almost runs you over), the best thing to do is wave at them with all 5 fingers.  It sounds simple, but really just hearing someone else tell me to do that goes through my mind when I really want to wave only 1 finger.
When Metro holds an open house workshop, it's important that community members participate because many of the city planning professionals don't bike, take transit, or walk.  For example, we recently attended a Walkabout in our community.  The planners that are writing the Community Plan asked the people who actually live in the community to come out and let them know what needs fixing in their neighborhood.  
Unfortunately turnout was low and it was mostly people from outside our neighborhood who were making the observations.  The planners are objective, but they don't have the perspective of how those streets actually work on a day-to-day basis because they don't live here.  Maybe a Saturday observation is nothing like a Monday-Friday observation. A morning observation is not reflective of how that street flows in the evenings.
My apologies for the tangent... back to the 94 bus.  It was great.  We've taken it from our house before, but going in the opposite direction.  When we've left our car at the Downtown Burbank Metrolink station, we can take this bus (stop Olive / San Fernando) walk over the I-5 freeway on a bridge, then take an elevator down to the train platform. We have also taken it to see a movie at AMC Burbank 16.  

This MultiModal weekend showed us that we can take the 94 bus to access Angel's Flight, Metro Bike Share, the Jewelry District, and Chinatown.  At Pershing Square, it's also possible to access the Metro Red or Purple lines (below-ground light rail, a.k.a. subway). It would also be possible to access the Mission San Fernando on the 94 bus, if you don't mind a 1.8 mile walk.  It could also get you to the Sylmar/San Fernando Metrolink station (which actually runs on the weekend) to Newhall, Palmdale, and Lancaster.
Transit really works wonderfully when different modes have points of contact or intersections. Sometimes I think people are simply unaware of how to make those connections.  For example, those city planners I mentioned gave us a token to take the bus and the bus driver said, "we don't accept those tokens anymore." Again, those who are making transit planning decisions don't even take transit enough to know how it works and how it has evolved.

We (my dear husband) and I were at odds with how to get to downtown LA.  I insisted (for Friday night at least) on biking, while he insisted on driving.  What we found using Google Maps is that Google suggested that the bus was actually the best way at 5:00pm on a Friday.  After driving, dear husband acquiesced the next day and agreed to ride the bus.  We both enjoyed the trip.  

The NextBus app has really changed our lives and our confidence and security with taking transit. If you allow the app to use your phone's location, it will tell you the nearest bus stops and routes on the "Nearby" tab. For visual people, you can click on the "Map" tab and get the same information.  For more sophistocated users, click on the "Transit" tab and define what Authority (e.g. Los Angeles Metro) and the stop number (if you're not using the location from your phone) or route (if you already know what bus number you want to take).  Tell it which direction you're going and it will tell you the length of time until your next bus arrives.  

Then if you click on a little folding-map icon with a location droplet on it, it shows you exactly where all the buses on that route are currently located.  So cool!  The last feature is most useful if you're walking to the stop but aren't there yet or you're in a meeting but haven't left yet and want to define which route you'll be taking to get home even if that route doesn't have a stop that is the closest to your current location.  With a smart phone in hand, you can actually free yourself from having to drive your car.

Research has shown that apps like NextBus can reduce uncertainty in wait times, which makes taking transit more competitive with driving your car. For your next visit to Downtown LA, consider taking a bus!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

MultiModal Weekend (Part I)

The weekend of October 14-16th was a big experiment for me.  I used bike, bus, car and train to get around LA County.  I have been wanting to write about the experience and compare each way of getting to and from downtown Los Angeles for a resident of Glendale.
Friday, October 14th, after work I left California State University, Northridge around 2pm.  I rode along the Orange Line Busway Bike Path.  I rarely ride at this time, but there were lots of school-age teenagers walking on the sidewalks of Reseda and Van Nuys.  I got a little bored in NoHo, but that's normal.  It's not that fun riding in the bike lane along Chandler Blvd, especially when there aren't any other cyclists out there to chase.  After cutting down Keystone, I took an unplanned left turn on Alameda, which had a pretty nice bike lane (that I'm not seeing on Google Maps).  The video below shows it at 53 seconds in.

I went down Victory Blvd to a little side street called Ruberta, which used to have a cool "Halloween House" but now it doesn't.  I refilled my water bottles in the drinking fountain at the Glendale Narrows, then rode/pushed/carried my bike across the Bette Davis Picnic Area (Cyclocross training) and up to Riverside Dr to gawk at the closure of the Los Angeles River Path.  

The Army Corps of Engineers will be hosting a public meeting on Monday, November 7th, from 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. at the Friendship Auditorium by Griffith Park (3201 Riverside Drive) and LACBC encourages all to attend and speak up.

All that being said, I took the detour through Griffith Park and entered the bike path by the dog park. I exited the path at Fletcher and took the route through Silver Lake and along Sunset Blvd to reach Spring St. I don't know why other people don't like going that way. It was also the first time I really didn't need a route sheet. That's what I love about CicLAvia, it makes me understand how to reach downtown LA without a car.

Raw crunchy four kale mix, shredded cabbage, apples, shredded carrots and avocado, grape tomato, tossed w/ maple orange dressing, topped w/ currants, hemp seeds & creamy hummus dressing drizzle 

After reaching LACBC headquarters, I had dinner at the LA Cafe.  I don't know if it was the 2 hours and 40 minutes I'd just spent winding my way gradually from The Valley to Downtown LA, or if the salad was REALLY GREAT but I haven't had a better meal in years.  There were picnic tables in a parklet, a couple of nice bike racks to lock up.  It was the ideal way to wind down from my ride and take in a street view of the city.

Now I'm off to make the City of Glendale more walkable.  I'll have to finish this post in a multi-part series.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Rink Rat

Skating is my new addiction.  It came to me this summer that I wanted a reward, and what better way to feel good than to go zooming around on 8 wheels?  I live 0.6 miles from Moonlight Rollerway, so it's crazy I didn't start frequenting it sooner.

Remembering the days of my childhood, I knew what I had to do: Find a "play it again sports" and get a pair of used skates.  I went to the location in Sherman Oaks first.  Although they had a bunch of great fitness equipment, I didn't see or try on any skates that got me excited.  Then I tried the location in Pasadena.  I found the skates pictured above in perfect condition.  They're a size 10 and I generally wear a size 9 in shoes, but hey I could wear thicker socks.  Or just tighten the laces.

Skate rental at Moonlight is $5 and I got the skates for $50 so I only needed to use them 10 times for the purchase to make up for itself.  I'm proud to say I've skated 11 times already.

The boots of my skates are Riedell, which has been making figure, speed, in-line and roller skates since the 1940s. The wheels are Powell, a Stanford-educated engineer who started making his own wheels in the 1970s.  He's associated with skateboarding more than rollerskating.  But I think it's cool that the skates I eventually settled on are so infused with skating history.  Also, I might put a pom-pom on there (that's what the chain is there for).

From Bloglovin' The nostalgic building that houses Moonlight Rollerway was built in the 1940’s and before Harry’s Roller Rink opened there in 1956, it was used to make airplane parts for the great war. The skating floor is the original Harry’s maple flooring, “with no nails all tongue and groove”– it’s basically a living artifact of 20th century American leisure.

I'm getting my skating muscles back, practicing starts and stops by doing "Red Light, Green Light" and practicing turns by doing the "Hokey Pokey" and practicing skating backwards during the "Beginner and Intermediate Backwards Skate."  I might eventually try this type of skate dancing.  There's so much talent at Moonlight.

Monday - adult night - [not yet]
Tuesday - adult class + live organ music - 9/13, 9/20, 9/27
Wednesday - skate dancing class + rainbow night - 8/17, 10/19
Thursday - roller derby practice + throwback music - 8/25
Friday - all ages afternoon - 9/9, 10/21
Saturday - all ages afternoon + evening session - 9/24
Sunday - all ages afternoon + family night - 7/31, 10/2

Clearly, live organ music is my favorite night~!  It's not crowded.  The video above shows the ambiance of that night.  Really good skaters come out, too.  Someday I want to go skating in Northridge.  Rainbow Night is so indescribably amazing, you have to experience it for yourself.  It's like an aerobics class, where everyone's REALLY INTO IT.  At some point, the fog machines start blowing and the lights dim and people really let go of their inhibitions.

I don't remember too much about Thursday, except to say that the derby girls scare me.  They train hard, skate low to the ground, and circle for hours.  Maybe it scares me because I'm interested in it, but maybe it scares me because I hear that they get pretty severe life-changing injuries.  Friday (all ages) skate is mostly kids.  But as long as you don't run them over, it's fun.  The kiddos had a meltdown when the Jacob Sartorius - Sweatshirt song came on.  It was like the Beatles!

Our neighbor offered to sew me something one time, and the pattern I picked out was for a skating dress.  She said "I don't need a pattern to make you a circle skirt."  Well, she never sewed the skirt, but now that I have my sewing machine out, I can make it for myself!  I can see why people like skating in dresses or short skirts, skating really gets your muscles working.  I've noticed my booty has lifted in the past several months.  I attribute it to skating.

I was walking home from the rink last night and snapped the shadow picture above.  The sun was setting and it struck me that I could see a cool shadow of me and my skates.  A few blocks later, a Jeep slowed down next to me and yelled something out the window.  I pretended not to hear it, but the driver was so persistent.  He didn't pull forward to the stop sign, instead yelling again: "It's hot that you skate."

I don't particularly love being yelled at by passing cars, it makes me feel unsafe, but I think the truth is that active transportation is hot.  It's awesome to walk around, take the bus, skate through CicLAvia, bike LA, it's all hot.  I will definitely get my skates on for Glendale meets Atwater Village (Spring 2017).  I'll make a follow-up post about CicLAvia-Heart of LA in October.  But what I want to say is that getting active is attractive.  Moving gets you feeling good, and that's hot!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Hike the Verdugos

My favorite part of hiking is "sun on pine." It's my favorite smell in the world.

The picture here is from May 2013 when we hiked the Verdugos as part of an organized event. Since then, we've taken many out-of-town guests and Glendale residents up there.  It's never a disappointment.

We most recently hiked with Walk Bike Glendale and Glendale Parks and Open Space Foundation We met at the Doctor's House and as the sun peeked over the mountains, it hit the plants and the most amazing aroma hit my nose.  It was like a $40 aromatherapy treatment at a spa.  Except it was completely outdoors and completely free.

As you can see from the color-coded elevation profile, it's pretty steady as far as the grade.  The official event page describes it as a 10% grade, and the data from my Garmin watch says that the grade ranges from 7% to 13% so that's a good description.

Here's a photo of all the families that gathered for the hike last weekend.

Here's a view looking down from the top.
You can see the trail we came up snaking downward (in the left of the photo).

Here are the happy hikers at the summit (about 2600').

I love hiking at different times of the year, and different times of the day.  The hike goes up high enough in elevation that you see the flora and fauna changing as you gain in elevation.  I hope our next collaborative event will be Deukmejian Wilderness Park.  Maybe it's because the name contains the word "Wild" but I've been afraid to go up there until now.  Having met the board members of Glendale Parks and Open Space Foundation, I know I have friends to show me the way.