Saturday, September 23, 2017


I can't believe that soooo much time has passed since my last post. What went down was the eLearning Institute in July and then August...

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Last weekend, I ended up clearing off the kitchen table and doing 7 loads of laundry, some of which went back to the impromptu drive to Nebraska to view the eclipse in its totality.

Photos of the eclipse don't really do it justice.  I made a painting that expressed more of what it felt like to actually be there and experience it in person.

Eclipse, baby!
It felt like the arms of the sun were reaching down and hugging me.  I'm on Earth standing down at the bottom of the rainbow.  In awe.

I painted that at the Reseda Blvd Summer Series... which came right after the eclipse.

It was a challenge to load those cube parts into the panniers of my mountain bike and ride it down there, then put it together in triple-digit heat. But after the sun went down, and my lights came on, things really got cool!  I didn't sell any of my artwork, but I did create 3 new pieces, so it was definitely a good event.  I really enjoyed the live music and all the positive energy from people walking by.  Other artists were inspired by my cubicle.

Green mandala

Climate change
We saw a couple of movies: An Inconvenient Sequel, which probably influenced the painting above.

'All Saints' was about a church community coming together, turning the land around their building into a profitable farm. Very apropos considering I'm getting involved with the Seed Library of Los Angeles and raising a new generation from seed.

Rosa Bianca eggplant
Zucchini grey
These aren't pictures from my garden, but those are seeds I borrowed from the SLOLA and have actually germinated.  They're in the nursery right now awaiting transplantation outdoors.

During the eLearning Institute, in July, I made the following "welcome video" for CHEM 100, then found out I was not only NOT teaching that class, but I was also moving my office.  So I guess the video can serve as a historical recording of what I was thinking and feeling in July in regards to where I thought I would be in September.  But where I'm at in September turns out to be pretty far away from where I thought I would be.  But I'm improving at letting go of my expectations and serving in whatever capacity I can.

I'm grateful to be part of a community of teachers and learners at CSUN and Pasadena City College. I'm working pretty hard this semester.  I just submitted our eLearning Project Prospectus, so I'm feeling some sense of closure on that commitment.  Monday, I'll be going into two other professors' classrooms to introduce our eLearning Project and ask for their participation (since I'm not teaching CHEM 100 this semester).  This will continue all semester and then we'll look at the data.

I'm teaching "SCI 100: Science for Life" as part of a cohort of professors. We had a great meeting yesterday to discuss commonalities among our courses and ways that we can emphasize what each other are teaching. I'm honored to be a part of this group of teachers and administrators who are focused on student success for first-generation college students that are a part of the Educational Opportunity Programs (EOP).

I'm making "Problem-Based Learning" (PBL) modules for my students at PCC based on conversations with Katie Rodriguez (Natural Sciences) and faculty from Dental Hygiene, Nursing, Physiology, Anatomy, and Nutrition. It's exhausting writing so much new content, but I do believe that students will benefit from the connections made between the course content and applications in their intended careers.

I had a great time connecting with faculty at the California Community College Success Network (3CSN) event "Creating Equitable Learning Environments through Growth Mindset & Interdisciplinary Apprenticeship." I learned about unstuffing the curriculum to create space for meaningful student growth. We discussed encouraging resilience in math teaching through offering assignment revisions.  Using this approach at Fullerton College, the percentage of students who submitted assignments increased from 20% to 80%.


My mantra for this semester. eLearning = extraordinary learning.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Metro Bikeshare arrives in Pasadena

I have to write about my experience with Metro's bikeshare. I was totally pumped to try out the new docking station right in front of Pasadena City College, since I'll be teaching there again in the fall.  Here's what happened...

(1) I bought a 1 month pass online using a TAP card I already had.  A day later, I saw all the codes for one month free and felt like an idiot for paying.  ooops!

(2) It was easy to walk up to the kiosk, which sent a code to my phone, and borrow a bike.

(3) The bike was so heavy, the first thing I did was drop it.  ooops!

(4) I didn't realize the front basket was hinged.  It looked REALLY small and my bookbag didn't fit and I thought "Why did they equip these with such a pathetically small basket?"  Only upon returning the bike did I realize that I could've expanded the basket and fit my entire bag in there.  ooops!

(5) After I started pedaling, I had to stop twice to adjust the seat height.  I ended up leaving it at a 7, even though that was a wee bit too high for me.  The bike was SLOW and I wanted as much leverage as I could get. And I stopped in the middle of Del Mar Blvd to adjust the seat.  ooops!

(6) Then I realized that I had no idea where I was going.  I had no plan.  I didn't know where the bicycle network was.  I was rolling on a bike that wasn't mine through city streets with moving traffic and the bike was SLOW, did I mention that?  I wasn't lost, it just wasn't easy to locate preferred bicycle routes so I made a loop on streets with no bicycle infrastructure.  ooops!

HERE is where you can find/return Metro Bikeshare bikes
(7) Along Del Mar Blvd, some cars/trucks/vans didn't want to give me 3 feet.  Scary!  And even more scary to be on an unfamiliar and SLOW bike.  It's really hard to keep up with the speed of traffic.  Honestly I felt the safest on Walnut when I was taking the lane.  I guess it's OK that the bike is slow since I wasn't wearing a helmet, but a car could still have hit me going fast and I could have died.  ooops!

(8) Before arriving to Bikeshare, I read "Generally speaking, there are relatively few bike lanes on the busy arterial streets in Pasadena but there are some pretty mellow residential streets that are great for riding. If using Google Maps to navigate, you may enjoy taking a route that is a little longer but uses quieter residential streets." So I took one. But El Molino was as terrifying or possibly more so than the arterial because there was not enough space for cars to pass safely.   ooops!

(9) I was looking for stations to return the bike, but I didn't see any until I was back where I started.  Maybe a person has to get used to the network and where the stations are, and this familiarity will come with time, but I couldn't return that bike soon enough.  I was looking everywhere for a docking station.   ooops!

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(10) I'm confused... As for some ideas about how to use Metro Bike in Pasadena and where to ride: •Gold Line Allen Station to Pasadena City College — If you don’t want to ride on busy Allen, take the bike lane on Maple to Sierra Bonita to campus.
I don't see a bikeshare station at Gold Line/Allen, but I do see one at Gold Line/Lake.   ooops!

I'm not saying you should't try Metro Bikeshare for yourself... definitely try it.  But I do feel like Bikeshare is better suited to a bike path (Waterfront), like down by the beach.  When you don't have the infrastructure on your streets, it's just unsafe.  Maybe the map on The Source's website could be somehow attached to the bicycle or posted on the kiosk so that people can more easily locate a safe bike route.

It's kind of crazy to me that Metro is suggesting you use Google Maps to navigate when there's no place to put your phone.  Maybe if the bike had a built-in smartphone cradle, that would make sense.  It's hard enough to manage navigating an unfamiliar bike in an unfamiliar place.  Add to that navigating from a phone that you have to hold in your hand... that's a recipe for an accident.

Since I have a month pass, I'll try it again (maybe Downtown LA).  What I've been saying since the beginning of Bikeshare's launch is that it's safer to take your own bike.  It's cheaper too.  $20 x 5 will get you your own bike.  $20 x 30 will get you a pretty good bike.  I find it hard to see how bikeshare fills a gaping hole in the transit network.  And I fear that when/if Metro offers bikeshare ubiquitously they will try to ban bikes on trains.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Bold and Sassy

Dear Students,

Stop trying to be nice.  "Nice" doesn't ensure you understand the material.  "Polite" means that you don't interrupt the professor when you need more help to understand what we're talking about.  "Gentle" means that you shy away from contributing to the group in discussion.  "Kind" means letting everyone else speak first, and then feeling relieved when the class time is up and you haven't had to say anything.  Being a "good listener" isn't the same as synthesizing your own concept and communicating it to others; one is passive and the other is active.

When I'm tough on you, I expect you to be tough on me right back.  By pushing each other to be better than we were before, we can both improve ourselves.  If we both sit back (at rest) and shrink away from opportunities for personal growth (goal-setting and taking on new challenges) then we run the risk of slipping further into ignorance and decay.

An expert in the field of research on shyness, Bernardo J. Carducci, writes about stereotypes of masculine and feminine traits in his college-level textbook The Psychology of Personality: Viewpoints, Research, and Applications.  I see both men and women in my courses being too shy to "bother" me with questions.  I felt that way many times, too.  When I was a student, I didn't go to the professor's office hours because I knew that professors are "busy" people and I didn't think they had time to help me with my learning.

I have noticed that shyness tends to be more pronounced in women, but it is also associated with cultural norms that are independent of gender.  Carducci explains Social-Cognitive Theory: that identity occurs through the process of a child observing what others are doing, receiving instructions from others regarding what is appropriate behavior, receiving reinforcement when such behavior is performed, and learning to self-regulate the expression of appropriate behavior in order to receive such reinforcement (p. 507).

I say -- TO HELL WITH THAT!  You gotta break the mold.  Rise to the occasion of being evaluated. Stop being "modest" and get focused on ACHIEVEMENT.  Think positively.  Aim high.  Know your worth.  Know that you are capable of achieving anything you seriously and wholeheartedly put your mind to.  Even if nobody you know has done it.  There's a first time for everything.  

Research shows that cultural factors account for gender differences in career advancement, leading to what is called the "paradox of achievement." Although women score higher in verbal ability, most critically acclaimed writers are men.  Those women writers who become well-known are unmarried, childless, and well-to-do... meaning that they focus all their attention on becoming better writers rather than falling prey to societal expectations of motherhood and caregiving. 

As for mathematical ability, males are treated differently in school.  Teachers encourage men's abilities and interest in mathematics.  The same could be said for racial and ethnic groups. Prevailing viewpoints (stereotypes) held by teachers that one group has more or less potential than another is going to hurt the group that is thought of as having less innate ability.  This is unfair.  THERE ARE NO GENDER (OR ETHNIC) DIFFERENCES ON MEASURES OF GENERAL INTELLIGENCE. We all have equal potential.  AND I would add that it's not too late to start changing YOUR behavior right now.  Your future success will be the positive reinforcement you need to continue personal growth in a new direction.

Consider selecting a few traits from the "Masculine" column of Table 12.2 (above).  
  • Aggressive
  • Competitive
  • Decisive
  • Independent
  • Never gives up
  • Nonconforming
  • Stands up to pressure
  • Tough/Coarse
Try it on for a week.  "ACT AS IF THAT IS YOU" until you master the behavior so that it becomes second nature.  Forget trying to be "nice" and GET CRITICAL. (Braxton, John M. Influences on College Student Learning: Special Issue of Peabody Journal of Education, 2003) You're not going to get happy faces drawn on all your papers, nor should you.  If everything were perfect and you already knew the material, you wouldn't be in a university.  You need to shatter your world-view in order to transform yourself. It's a metamorphosis. The meek and mild earth-bound caterpillar must give way to a fierce and beautiful soaring butterfly.

Dr. Kaiser

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Advantages to Tiny House Living

It's been 3 months since we vacated our tiny house.  We have 3.75 times more space.  We have 3 bathrooms instead of 1. We have a 2 car garage instead of none.  But still, there are some things I miss...

1) When you live with your partner and you can hear/touch each other no matter where you are in the house, you have a level of intimacy that is not only desired but required.  There is no such thing as privacy.

2) Our tiny house was 2.5 times older than our current condo.  There's something beautiful in the old style windows (huge) and doors (huge).  With a single tiny AC unit, we could cool the place down in about 20 minutes.  I always felt like it was the "house of bricks" in the 3 little pigs story.  No matter how strong the Santa Ana winds blow, that tiny house provides safe shelter.

3) A tiny house is less work to clean.  The tiny vacuum we bought to clean the tiny house is inadequate to care for the expansive upstairs bedrooms in the condo/townhome we now occupy.  And who puts carpeting on a staircase?  Seriously, it's really annoying to vacuum the stairs and that's where most of the dirt accumulates.

4) Smaller carbon footprint.  In so many ways, I feel like the tiny house had a smaller ecological impact.  We had fewer toilets and showers to clean, therefore using less chemical cleaners.  We had less space to cool, therefore using less electricity.  We didn't have a dishwasher, therefore we were able to save on water and electricity AND reuse the greywater to nourish the garden.

5) When you have a dark and depressing (oppressive and cramped) tiny house, you always AND I MEAN ALWAYS want to be somewhere else.  It made it super-easy to go walking, running, biking, vacationing, camping, etc.  It was always fantastic to stay with family or in a hotel because EVERY room was bigger than our house.

6) We had proximity to Los Angeles, Griffith Park, and the LA River Bike Path.  Also we walked through streets filled with artfully landscaped tiny houses.  Here in Northridge, it is decidedly more suburban (sprawling) and the sidewalks are lined with large retaining walls or extreme privacy hedges rather than cute houses with cute yards.

But on the flipside...

1) We have space to spread out.  I've already unpacked the majority of our books and started to turn the closets in the guest bedroom into the library we always dreamed of.  (Thanks IKEA).

2) We can work on our bikes in the garage.  The tiny car we have takes up barely 1/4 of the space, so there's still a lot of room for bicycle storage and maintenance of the growing fleet.  The other day, I was in the garage working on my bike (in the shade) whereas I used to have to do that outdoors on our tiny back patio.

3) With the space comes mental clarity.  Instead of having half my closet in storage and half the clothing in our house, we have all AND I MEAN ALL of our clothes in a single walk-in closet.  This past weekend, we took 3 large trash bags of clothing to be donated.  It's like having more space makes it easier to let go of things that really don't belong.

4) I've been enjoying the larger kitchen and entertaining space.  Even though the stove has electric burners and it's summer, so I hesitate to cook (and heat up the place), we've already had some friends over for dinner and work-sessions.  The expansive dining area makes the table we've held on to for about 10 years finally fit perfectly.

5) The living room is large enough to do yoga.  I took my sister rollerskating and when we got back, we spread out 2 yoga mats and stretched out AT THE SAME TIME.  That's been a dream come true!

6) We can run more than two appliances at once.  The tiny house had such old circuitry that you couldn't run the toaster oven and the washing machine at the same time.  If you did, it would trip the circuit breaker and shut down everything.  You also couldn't wash dishes and take a shower at the same time because the water supply would become unreliably hot or cold.  Flushing the toilet when someone was in the shower was pre-empted by saying, "Bombs Away" which meant -- get away from the water because it's about to get really hot.

It sounds silly but I always wanted to have a wellness center.

I came to a major realization... I don't need to have a 10 bedroom wellness center to accommodate a bunch of sick people.  All I need is a room to accommodate me.  I'm the in-patient.  I now live in a wellness center for 1 person -- me.  And this new place is giving me plenty of breathing room.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Messenger Game

Confession: in my free time, I pretend I'm a bike messenger.  I love biking to the post office, like I'm on some important assignment from a client, locking up real fast, and dropping off some mail or a package.  I love the challenge of trying to fit oddly shaped boxes into a messenger bag.  I don't have any kind of fancy bag, I just use a rectangular cross-body bag that sits comfortably on my back.  Why I don't use a backpack when I'm pretending to be a messenger, I don't know.  Maybe it's for the speed. Like, it just takes too long to take a backpack on and off, messengers gotta be quick.  Whip that bag from the back to the front, make the delivery, and get on to the next stop.

Northridge, CA
I love a post office with great bicycle parking.  I used to enjoy waiting in line for 20-35 minutes at the Glendale, CA Main Post Office because the interior is absolutely gorgeous.

Glendale, CA
Photo from Oltmans Construction Co
The exterior of the Glendale, CA Main Post office is great, too.  Conveniently located (Broadway is a Class 3 Bicycle Route) on a major East-West corridor, the building is clearly a civic and architectural landmark.

Glendale, CA
Photo from Oltmans Construction Co
For East-West travel in Glendale, my favorite street is Wilson.  It goes by all the stuff I like: KFC, the YMCA, Big 5 Sporting Goods... and if you get the timing of the lights just right, you can have a Green Wave (which is another fun game I play while I'm pretending to be a bike messenger).  I took a group of women on a Walk Bike Glendale women's ride, we rode across Wilson Ave, and the ladies were impressed how cars used the center turning lane as a passing lane and gave us a very wide passing margin.  I hope it inspired them to ride through the city more confidently.

Wilson Ave at Louise St in Glendale, CA
Another street I like for East-West travel through South Glendale is Maple St.  Especially I enjoy going under the skybridge at CalStar Motors.  I don't know why, maybe it's just a novelty.  I think some of the best bike rides involve tunnels, bridges, and unexpected landmarks.  

Maple St at Brand Blvd in Glendale, CA
Even though the post office is on the northeast corner of Louise and Broadway, I wouldn't recommend taking Louise Street as your North-South corridor, I biked it this past weekend and it's been torn up for a long time.  Louise is very narrow around the YMCA and Glendale Central Library and STILL under construction!  Also, Louise accommodates street parking and car doors are a strong possibility.

Broadway SHARROWS in Glendale, CA
Following the route of Glendale's CicLAvia on June 11, 2017, I would recommend Central Ave as your safest North-South corridor.  Although Central Ave is labeled as a MAJOR ARTERIAL, it is the fastest way.  The street is wide enough for all road users and there are signs posted with the message "Bicycles May Use Full Lane."  Although Glendale's bicycle infrastructure tends to rely on sharrows and road signs (Class 3) instead of bike lanes (Class 2) or cycletracks (Class 1), nothing will change if the city doesn't see cyclists out there.  It's kind of like the same thing with Metrolink... bikecar101 learned that you don't get more space for bikes on trains unless the board sees pictures of lots of bikes on trains.

Bike parking on the East side of the Glendale, CA Post Office
Glendale has done a great job IMHO at providing bicycle parking for the destinations I bike to.  At the Glendale CicLAvia, some residents expressed that they wanted more bicycle parking along Central Ave for example.  I usually park along Brand, since there's lots of bike racks there, and then walk over to Central.  But that was some feedback for the City that we collected through talking to people at the event (public outreach).

Bike parking on the West side of the Glendale, CA Post Office
I would say that the "bike messenger game" is the best way to take care of some errands.  It motivates me to be in a hurry, carry my own lock, practice locking up and unlocking quickly, and be visible in the community on a bicycle on major traffic corridors.  What motivates you?

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Vision Zero

Last month, I attended a ceremony where a ghost bike was placed for a man killed while bicycling home from his job.  That man was killed by a hit-and-run automobile driver.

I do my best to avoid calling cars "death machines" as I bike around town, but some days are tougher than others.  When someone actually dies at the hands of a motorist, in the area where I've just moved to, it shakes me up.

I am calling this an act of terrorism defined as: unlawful violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.

Militant motorists want to keep the streets purely for vehicles, with unrestricted flow, at high speed. There are groups of residents who exert political pressure on city council to maintain this agenda.

The man killed in Winnetka is said to have been the victim of a purposeful crime.  A truck swerved in order to hit the man on his bicycle.  Has the criminal been found?  Yes.  But what will be the consequences?  What value will be placed on the human life that was ended?

Victims of terrorism tend to want to do something.  Feelings such as shock, outrage, sadness, rage, depression, and anger are normal.  At the placement of the ghost bike, we were directed to pray for the 2nd man who was in critical condition at a local hospital.  This did give me something (peaceful) to do.  Has the second man recovered?  What were the extent of his injuries?  Will the motorist be financially liable for the hospital bills of this man?

Of cyclists, I am of the populist vehicular variety. At a recent community meeting where a "road diet" was presented, a resident of my city suggested that if I were cycling in the street, he may just "tap" me with his truck to let me know that he's there.  He asked me what I'd do.  I told him that I would turn over GoPro footage of the incident to the police.  He asked if I've ever done that before.  I said, "not yet."

I feel like some motorists are engaging in intentional intimidation in an effort to reduce the number of people who will ride their bicycles on city streets in a vehicular manner.

While I agree with John Forester, that creating off-street bike paths reduces the visibility of cyclists and therefore does nothing to bridge the bikes vs. cars debate, if you want to see more miles of bike paths, consider signing this petition to support a feasibility study for the Verdugo Wash.  If you prefer to sign in person, come visit me at CicLAvia ~ Glendale Meets Atwater.  I'll be at the Walk Bike Glendale / LACBC / Bikecar101 booth at the Central Hub from 1-3pm.

I don't think the idea of Vision Zero is to actually reduce the number of pedestrians and cyclists killed by automobiles to zero, but to invest in infrastructure improvements that would continue to make the streets safer for the most "vulnerable road users."  I actually don't like that term, but it's true.  When I don't have 2000 lbs of steel and airbags surrounding me, I am literally more vulnerable!  Maybe I don't like the term because I have to believe I will survive out there in order to continue the vehicular cycling behavior I enjoy.  I don't like to think about how vulnerable I am out there.

One thing I got out of the ghost bike placement is that we acknowledged that "that could have been me."  Or any number of other people I know and love that engage in vehicular cycling.

My personal reaction to my fear (generated from the man killed while cycling on Winnetka) was to put on more blinky lights than usual and bike to the ceremony.  My husband thought I was being crazy, but if you let your fear prevent you from vehicular cycling then the terrorists win.

Thursday, May 25, 2017


In the Web of Science you can use a star as a wildcard.  Therefore trans* would return articles about any of the following topics:

  • Transportation, transect
  • Transformation, transmutation
  • Transcription, transmission
  • Transparency, translucent
  • Transient, transition
  • Transpiration, transplants
  • Transcendental, transfixed
  • Transference, transfusion
  • Transnational, translation
  • Transformers: The Last Knight (in theaters June 23)

When I get a theme in my head, I want to flush it out by writing.  I have a lot about transportation on my mind right now.  It's bike month.  I didn't go to the "ride of silence" this year, but I think I'll go to the placement of a ghost bike on 6530 Winnetka St.  It's shameful that cyclists are being hit by cars on such wide roads as we have here in the valley.  It's like cyclists are transparent (invisible).

Summer is here and the cacti are flowering.  Other plants are transpiring a lot of water and I'm not sure if they'll survive the summer without being transplanted into a different container or being transported to a different location.  We're surviving our transition to living in Northridge.  It's easier to get to campus, for sure.  But harder to get to Walk Bike Glendale meetings and events in LA.

I'm hoping people can get more transnational.  The science march was almost pointless, the rest of the world saw us carrying signs with "nerd jokes" that only other science people would understand.  The new acronym now is STEAM'D which stands for Science Technology Engineering Art Math and Design.  We need a transfusion of political will to deal with the current reality.
The summer classrooms where I'll be teaching have gender-neutral restrooms near them.  I went in there to scope it out.  Transgender people are welcome at CSUN.  I have transcripts from my CHEM 101 lectures that still need to be edited and uploaded to the videos on YouTube.  Why do I have 55 cycling videos on my YouTube channel?  Nobody really watches them.  Hopeless transmission.

I had transformers (toys) as a child.  That was my favorite toy.  I've always wished I were a boy.  I feel it's hard to be taken seriously as a girl.  But I do love biking in a dress.  In my new free time, I feel like I should do some more meditation.  Go transcendental.  Become transfixed.  But so far, the only way I can really clear my head is rollerskating or cycling.