Monday, May 25, 2015

SF to LA packing list

As much as I hesitate to admit, I am undertaking a bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles.  The reason I am not keen on bragging about it is that I don't know for sure that it will happen.  The forces of the universe are going to have to sing in harmony for everything to work out.  Regardless, as I pack my bags, I wanted to document the items that I will bring.

Starting from my Top 10 List, I have a bicycle, water bottles, safety flag, helmet.  Said bicycle has been cleaned and tire liners have been installed.  The brakes and shifters are in working order.  I have added a second water bottle cage.  The rear rack has been used to mount panniers.  I bought this bike in February 2010 and named it "mi corazón azul" because it reminded me of Côte d'Azur (the French Riviera).  My husband and I were living 90 miles apart and I was struggling with being separated from him.  My heart was broken, since I had always wanted to live in San Diego (La Jolla) and I couldn't.

SONY CYBER-SHARE DSC-T10 Digital Camera
KODAK EASYSHARE M530 Digital Camera
I am ready to retire my Kodak digital camera.  The things I don't like about it are numerous (1) it takes poor pictures in low-light (2) the compartment where the battery and memory card are stored keeps coming open (3) when the battery is jostled out of its position because the compartment is opened, the date and time have to be reset before you can take a picture.  As a result, there are some pictures that have incorrect date/time stamps because I was more excited to take a picture immediately than to reset the date and time to correct settings.  I will probably bring one of our Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T10 cameras instead.  Those also have a slim profile, and we own two of them.  That means twice the batteries, twice the battery chargers.  Twice the cables for downloading the pictures.  The reason for duplication is the aforementioned 90 mile separation.

The important tools to bring, to keep it lightweight, are: a pedal wrench, a link breaker, a multitool for allen wrenches, tire irons, a patch kit, spare tube, and a pump.  Logan (on pedalingtonowhere) suggests extra rack bolts, zip ties, nuts, and a few chain links. Some of these tools fit in my seat bag, others will have to go in the panniers.  I don't think I would bring extra spokes, but I have located a handful of bike shops along the way.  I should bring bicycle lights, possibly spare batteries or the USB charging cables, and a headlamp for camping.

This tent is over 12 years old... and weighs ~14 pounds
I know it's not a great idea to add new items at the last minute, but I might go buy a new tent today.  The one I have is pretty big and pretty heavy.  There are Memorial Day sales going on, which may bring us a small discount.  I got a 1-person tent for $35 at Big 5 Sporting Goods.  I practiced pitching it twice so I think I'll be good with it.  I'll go to the storage unit today and pick up my sleeping bag.  Don't think I'll have room for a tarp or a yoga mat.  The weather looks good (for San Francisco at least) and hopefully we will be blessed with low winds and no rain!  I'll probably use spare clothes for a pillow.

The outfit I'm wearing above is part of what I will be packing for clothing.  I'm definitely bringing my Adidas track suit.  I will bring a windbreaker jacket.  I will bring about 4 pairs of cycling shorts, my legwarmers, and 2 pairs of arm coolers (to prevent sunburn).  I will bring about 4 pairs of socks and probably 4 sportsbras.  I will probably bring only 2 jerseys, with sleeves.  I will bring 2 t-shirts (one short-sleeved, one long-sleeved) and about 4 pairs of regular panties.  It will be good at the end of the day to change into something clean, dry, and absorbant.  2 pairs of gloves (one full-fignered, one fingerless), and a long-sleeved winter jeresy.  I'll bring my cycling cap and maybe also a hat for wearing around camp.  I want to bring a pair of sunglasses for sure.  I will also pack a reflective vest for safety.

The toiletries that I'll bring include: face wash, face sunscreen, body sunscreen, chamois butt'r, toothpaste, toothbrush, shampoo/conditioner, and cooling foot creme.  I hope to have room for the addaday roller and possibly a racquetball for self-massage. J/K no room for those. A clothesline is a good idea, along with laundry soap that could be used for washing clothes.  I will also pack a small towel or washcloth.  I added contact lenses, contact lens case, contact lens solution, glasses, glasses case, sunglass case.  I added body glide, a hair comb, and face lotion.

For food, I'm stymied.  We had originally planned on having a chase vehicle so I bought a bunch of gus and gels.  But carrying 15 pounds of Clif bars and blocks seems a bit ridiculous.  I have been pouring over a book, Bicycling the Pacific Coast, that details where you can find bike shops and grocery stores along the route.  I'll probably just load up my panniers with the essentials and weigh them.  Amtrak has a 50 pound limit, which I hope I won't get anywhere near, per bag.  I'll just add/subtract until the bags are balanced and reasonable.

I'm reminded of scenes from the movie Wild where Cheryl Strayed thought she had it all and she learned along the way what was necessary and unnecessary.  I packed a mini-first aid kit with different shaped bandaids, sterile pads, athletic tape, triple-acting antibiotic oitment and Aleve.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

CicLAva ~ The Valley

I realize this post is almost 2 months late.  It's been on my "to do" list.  CicLAvia - The Valley was AWESOME!  Like many of the "open streets" events we've attended, we rode to this one from our house, CAR FREE!  The weather was overcast for most of the day, which was nice biking weather.

We met with Walk Bike Glendale at the Glendale Central Library.  Congressman Adam Schiff was there.  We had a large feeder ride, maybe about 80 people.  Along the Chandler Bike Path, we combined with Walk Bike Burbank.

It was about 11 miles to the start of CicLAvia.  We took California west to Concord, across the Fairmount Bridge to the Glendale Narrows Riverwalk.  We rode along Riverside to Keystone, and up to the bike path at Chandler.  The organizers did a great job puting in protected "bike lanes" between Vineland and Lankershim using orange traffic cones.  Wish those were permanent!  We posted a video of the feeder ride here.  This was my first experience as a ride marshal.  I hope to attend some workshop for training to become an official, but for now, my experience with group cycling in the Riverside Bicycle Club will suffice.

We arrived in North Hollywood and split from the group.  Some video from the CicLAvia event is here.  I don't think our GoPro battery lasted long enough to capture beyond the Universal City Hub, but we did get one video at the hub.  The course was dreamy and many businesses were packed with customers.  I was reminded of this event at a recent Bike To Work Day ~ Happy Hour at the Moose Den where I met someone who skated the entire CicLAvalley.  I did take a little bit of video at our lunch stop, which gave me the idea that about 80,000 people participated in this CicLAvia.


As a reminder, the CicLAvia ~ Pasadena event is in TWO WEEKS.  Will you walk, skate, or bike it?  We're headed to Pasadena today for the Amgen Tour of California finish!  Hope to see our friend John Morlock, from Ride 2 Recovery working a booth there.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

OC Half Marathon ~ Race Report

Our training schedule looked like this:

02-01-15 Training Run #1 = 7.52 miles (16:44 pace)

03-01-15 Training Run #2 = 9.41 miles (15:44 pace)

03-28-15 Training Run #3 = 11.34 miles (15:41 pace)

05-03-15 Race Day = 13.53 miles (14:59 pace)

The course was GORGEOUS:

Not strictly along the water, but we had enough cool ocean breezes to help us towards the finish line.  This was not a particularly hilly course, with a 450 ft elevation gain.  We trained on the course for Training Runs 2 & 3.  I think that really helped.  Training in the outfit that I actually wore on race day was a good idea.  Races are fun because you don't have to carry anything.  There were plenty of water and bathroom stops.  My three favorite cheering groups were: (mile 6) a K-Pop Drill Team, (mile 7) a band playing under the PCH, and (mile 11) where there was a short 5% grade.


Some people run to win, some people run for charity, but this run was for family.  I wrote in February that my goal was to run a half-marathon pain-free.  Well, that didn't happen.  Right now (two days later) my toenails still hurt.  But it was a great day to be outdoors and together with people that I love.

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.