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

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Independence Day Ride Report

Mile 1

Mile 25

Mile 55

Mile 64

Mile 82

Mile 92

Things we learned from this trip:

*** REAPPLY SUNSCREEN ***  And/or buy lightweight armwarmers with high SPF and don't imagine it's better to have a sleeveless jersey.  It's not worth the extra sun exposure.  When the words "We should probably put on sunscreen," are uttered from your mouth, THEN DO IT!!!  Talking about sun protection does not translate into applying sun protection.  Bring a lightweight sun hat.  With a wide brim for poolside recovery time.  I took in more sun on Day 1 hanging out on the balcony.  Could have been prevented.

The first 55 miles we went ~10 mph.  The last 25 miles we went ~ 5 mph.  We thought we might make it to Oceanside, but we decided to end the southward-bound leg at San Clemente.  There were more hills through the last part of our ride and I had one moment of blinding pain in the legs up a hill.  But more than our legs, my arms were absolutely sunburned and I would not have wanted to go further.  I mean, someday I will want to go further, but just not on this trip.  We waited a good 2.5 hours for our train, but I took a 25 minute nap in the shade while listening to the waves.  Totally chill.

Resist the tempation to eat at McDonalds.  It sounds like a good idea but it is not.  We started from a McDonalds.  I ate eggs with salt and pepper and a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast on Day 1.  Beware of 7-11 Sugar-Free Slurpee.  If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  Sometime after the McDonalds and the Slurpee, I started to have GI distress on Day 1.  Maybe it was too much heat and humidity.  Maybe the electrolyte/water/carb balance wasn't right.  We stopped at McDonalds on Day 2 also, in Dana Point.  I felt my stomach/small intestine tie up into knots and had trouble breathing both days after eating at McDonalds.  Just sayin'.

Booking your hotel at the last minute is either brilliant or really stupid.  We had a sickening suite atop Hotel Irvine on the 14th (top) floor.  The suite had 2 bigscreen TVs, 3 sliding glass doors, a dinnertable for 6 people, 2 balconies, 2 entrances... need I go on?  We arrived just as all the fireworks displays were all around us.  Amazing.  Traveling with 3 adults made it hard to choose a hotel and we wanted one room with two beds.  Seems like all the normal rooms were taken so we got a sweet suite for the price of a regular room.  But we had to ride 8 miles away from our coast route to get to it.  And 8 miles back to the coast in the morning.

Staying on the PCH is fine as long as you aren't in a hurry.  Through Laguna and Dana Point there was hella traffic.  This is why we got our orange safety flags.  But still, we might have considered taking a parallel route.  Stopping at all lights is a must but be prepared for how much this traffic and the hills will slow you down in terms of reaching a certain distance in a particular amount of time.

Consider buying a disposable camera.  I didn't take nearly as many photos as I thought.  Almost all of them are posted here.  We saw so much gorgeousness but it's all in my head now.  The camera I have is on its last leg.  The battery compartment keeps popping open, causing me to have to reset the date and time before taking a picture.  Not cool when you're wanting to snap a photo quickly.

Something happened when charging my Garmin overnight at the hotel so it didn't work in the morning.  Of course, it's working fine now, but I felt naked without it on Day 2.  I guess the message here is don't count on your technology and bring a backup camera (or a disposable one) and a backup watch.  I would have been a bit more relaxed knowing what time it was at all points along the route on Day 2.  And it didn't help that all of us kept asking "What time is it?"  It just kept reminding me that my Garmin mysteriously would not turn on.  And that bummed me out.

I LOVE my new cupholder.  I hardly even used my regular water bottle.  It was much easier not to have to lean down to grab and replace a traditional bicycle water bottle.  Much easier to fill a to-go cup with ice and water and then drink it through a straw.  I had some fizzy electrolyte tablets that I didn't want to put in a water bottle and the cupholder/disposable cup system was good for that.  Although it tasted kind of yucky in warm water.  The panniers worked out great, too.  Made us look like more serious long-distance cyclists.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Independence Day Ride

I'd like to spend indepedence day on my bicycle.  We are planning to ride a century: from Glendale to Oceanside.  On DAY 1 we plan to take the same route we did on Christmas Eve through Pasadena, down the Rio Hondo and San Gabriel River trail and along the ocean to Newport Beach.  As you can see, all the climbing is at the beginning to get through Pasadena.  The weather is supposed to be 68 degrees F at 7am when we leave McDonalds on Brand Blvd in Glendale.  It's supposed to be 78 degrees by 10am.  It is forecast to be 85 degrees by 1pm in Santa Fe Springs.  In Cerritos, it may be 82 degrees at 3pm.  It should be 77 degrees in Seal Beach around 5pm.  We're expecting sunset at 8:08pm at which time it will be 71 degrees in Huntington Beach.  I honestly don't know when we'll arrive in Newport Beach.  These times and temps are approximate, of course.

1) water stop at Jack-in-the-Box on York Blvd. (7 miles)
2) water stop at 7-11 on Hellman and San Gabriel Blvd (15 miles)
3) water stop at Santa Fe Springs Park (27 miles)
4) lunch at Liberty Park (33 miles)
5) water stop at Alamitos Bay (42 miles), maybe plug in phone @ a coffee shop?
6) water stop at PCH and Goldenwest (50 miles)

On DAY 2, the second leg of the trip will be a new route for us, heading down the Pacific Coast Highway and through Camp Pendleton to Oceanside.  The good thing is that we can stop at San Clemente if we're too tired to go through Camp Pendleton.  The forecasted high temperature in Dana Point for Saturday (7/5) is 78 degrees F.  The high in San Clemente is predicted to be 81 degrees.  Camp Pendleton is expected to reach a high of 77 degrees between noon and 1pm.

There are Metrolink stations are as follows and times are provided for weekend train #667
Oceanside, 5:30pm
San Clemente Pier, 5:51pm
San Clemente, 5:53pm
This will get us back to LA Union Station by 7:50pm and we might have to ride back to Glendale from there unless we wait at LA Union Station until 8:55pm to catch train #271.

Just like for Death Valley, I wanted to make a packing list here to get physically and mentally prepared for the journey.  Death Valley was critical because it was supposed to be cold, in the 30s or 40s at night, so I had to bring lots of warm clothes.  Also, DV is in the middle of nowhere so we had to bring in all our food.  This trip is different since it's summer, we're going to be in the city, and we're not bringing a car.  We got flags for our bikes since we plan to ride down PCH during the day on Saturday.  I thought it would be safer.  And why am I always on my period when I plan for a century ride?  Is it the universe reminding me that I am a strong woman, yet still a mortal that has to deal with this (female) body?
Routeslips are posted here for Glendale to Newport Beach and Newport Beach to Oceanside.

Highlighted items need to be purchased

PB&J Sandwich
Salt bagels

Garmin charging cable
Phone charging cable
Camera charging cable

Flip flops
Cycling shoes
Sunglasses, Sunglass case
Bibs (cycling shorts)
Sports bra
Warmup pants/Jacket (my adidas)
Helmet, Gloves
Armwarmers?, Kneewarmers?
Bandana and/or hat

SPF Lipbalm, Sunscreen
Contact lenses (case, solution)
First Aid Kit (Bandaids, Gauze, Tape, anti-inflammatories, scissors, tweezers)
Tampons, Pads
Body Glide
Chamois Creme

Bike (obviously)
Lights (+extra batteries)
Water bottles
Bungee cord

Routeslip, Binder clip, Maps
Pen (for writing)
House key(s)
Ca$h, Insurance Card, ATM card

Tire Pump
Tools (Spare tubes, Allen wrenches, Tire irons, Screwdriver, Patch kit, Zip ties)
Bike lock(s), Bike lock key(s)
Chain lube, WD-40
A rag for cleaning, Wet wipes
Sewing kit
Ziploc bags
Spare rack nuts and bolts
Duct Tape
Toilet paper


Saturday, June 28, 2014

Chemistry Champions semifinalists named

A heartfelt thanks to everyone who supported my video in the Chemistry Champions contest.  What an exciting way to share my journey and tell my chemical story!  The 10 semifinalists and their video titles are:
Congratulations to the ACS members selected to present during a private workshop on August 9th. Even though I was not named a semifinalist, as an ACS Chemistry Ambassador, I can attend the following events during the 248th ACS National Meeting & Exposition.
  • How to be a Better Communicator: the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science will present Improvisation Training for Chemists. Sign up for a three-hour session, either 9 am—to noon or 1:30—4:30 pm, Sunday, Aug. 10, at the Hilton. Tickets are $10 and are available here
  • San Francisco symposium--Communicating Science to the Public: Moscone Center South Building, Room 104, 1-5 pm. Tuesday, Aug. 12
  • San Francisco Reception for all Chemistry Ambassadors: Tuesday, Aug. 12, 5-6 pm, Moscone Center South Building, Esplanade Ballroom 306.
I don't feel bad about not winning.  As I posted on this blog, it was an experiment in social media.  Every experiment is a chance to learn.  I kind of knew that I would be out-classed by those with newer devices.  My video camera is woefully out of date compared with the new phones and tablets that make video capture extremely easy.  Heck, I don't even know how to record video directly from the integrated webcam on my eee PC.  I don't think my phone even has video.  I recorded the audio using a Sansa Clip.

I do have an older video camera (circa 2007) that still uses casette tapes. And getting the video to a PC for editing requires FireWire 400 alpha which requires my old Gateway 450SX4 laptop (circa 2002). Amazingly enough this setup still functions, but for some reason it felt like too much work to make a ChemChamps video where I was actually addressing the camera directly. Also I have no tripod. Also I have no lab. In other words, I don't work in a lab at the moment. My classroom is my lab and the best documentation I have of my work is in 10-second timer photos of myself at the chalk or whiteboard.

The time I tried to install a heat shield... unsuccessfully!
My attempts to edit video using the HP Pavilion TX1000 in 2009 were unsuccessful since it caused the computer to overheat.  My advisor had let me borrow an HP Flip HD camera to record video of myself in the lab, working with my undergraduate student researcher.  The data was so large that it was impossible to deal with on the computer I had.  I took the thing apart and tried to see where the problem was, and ended up ruining the mother board.  Thanks to a repair by Riverside Computer Center, I had a new mother board but as of today, the PC won't turn on.  It's a shame since I had Minitab installed on there and have not been doing any multivariate statistics since that PC died.

I always thought I would end up as an old nutter in a garage full of old electronics, and I'm getting pretty close already although I have a storage unit instead of a garage.  I kind of like old technology.  Some of the photos in my video were taken with a Olympus Stylus film camera.  I love new technology too.  I scanned the images printed from 35mm film using an HP Office Jet 4500.  I love that document feeder!  The video was edited using Windows Movie Maker on a Dell Inspiron 660 with 8 GB of RAM and 1.8 TB of memory (of which 1 TB of memory is still free).

Other photos were taken with a 3.3-Megapixel digital camera HP Photosmart 720 (2003-2005) which sadly died in an accident involving a decomposed jack-o-lantern.   My next digital camera was a 4.1-Megapixel Sony DSC-S60 (2005-2007) which died in a collision with a concrete patio at the hands of my nephews during our engagement party.  Then, I got a 7.2-Megapixel Sony DSC-T10 (2007-2010) which died swimming in a pool of pickle juice.  My current camera is a Kodak 12-Megapixel Easyshare M530.

Plotting this data results in a fit according to Kryder's Law where taking the log of megapixels and plotting it versus the year yields a linear relationship.  Using this fit to extrapolate to 2014, the data suggests I should have a 27-Megapixel camera by now.  It looks like the budget compact cameras now have 16-Megapixels while compact megazoom cameras go as high as 18-Megapixel.  Sony has a high-end camera 24.3-Megapixels (HD) which sells for upwards of $500.  So I guess we're not quite to 27-Megapixels yet.  And do we really have the digital storage for images that large?  It's certainly more common to see HD televisions, so I guess it makes sense that we can capture high-resolution images, too.

I guess what I'm doing is making excuses and reminiscing about outdated electronics instead of talking candidly about my contest video entry.  What I realized through making and sharing my Chemistry Champions video is that I am afraid to address the camera.  You can see me doing this in the video below.  I was nervous while talking to the camera even though you can see I am standing in the CMC Student Garden next to my Syngenta corn.  It was a place I felt connected to and I was speaking about a topic for which I have a passion, also knowing the cameraman was an expert, still I was uncomfortable.

The W. M. Keck Science Department Presents The Nano Fashion Show from Claremont McKenna College on Vimeo.

This is why I'm excited to still have the opportunity to engage with the events planned for Chemistry Ambassadors at the ACS National Meeting in San Francisco.  I feel I can improve my confidence and further distill my message to make engaging outreach a success.  One professor recently suggested I imagine I am 7 feet tall.  I'm still struggling with that, but I'm a work in progress.

I do appreciate the Chemistry Champions contest because it got me writing more on this blog.  I amped up my twitter posts as well.  I got some new followers and followed some new tweeps.  I expressed some views about social media, diversity, and big data that are near and dear to my heart.  I started this blog waaay back thinking that when I got 10,000 views I would submit a book proposal.  Now we are in the era of eBooks and self-publishing.  A colleague recently asked me if I know anything about creating an iBook.  I doubt it could be done on a PC.  Obviously books are still relevant if there are still bookstores, but it seems as our attention span is getting smaller and electronic storage is growing, people want eBooks and 3 minute HD video clips.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

What does 200 calories look like?

I had a revalation about why fad diets don't work the other day and then it was gone.  For the life of me, I can't remember what happened in that moment of clarity.  I have been thinking a lot about this article my friend posted about obesity and economic environments.  We have all increased in BMI over the past 26 years.  That means all genders, all races, all ages.  If you take a look at the graph here, it may be easy to see why.  We are simply intaking more calories.

I've written before about my own personal adventures in big data and fitness analytics.  From my own study on myself I found that 200 calories out (fitness) per day makes me maintain my current weight.  NOT burning 200 calories per day makes me gain weight.  So I asked myself if I really know what 200 calories looks like.  From the graph above, it looks more like we're eating something like 600 calories too many.  So what does that look like?  I've also been thinking about dog food.  Why do we need our food to taste good?  I mean, it's ridiculous to think we would only eat a big pile of broccoli, but dogs eat a homogenized pile of kibbles and they seem to survive.  Do we really need cupcakes, doughnuts, french fries, hamburgers and burritos?  
So that's only half the story (energy in). The other half is what we do (energy out). All guidelines suggest 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week. Benefits include lower risk of premature death, coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and depression. Additional benefits are gained by 300 and 450 minutes per week. A person who does 300 minutes a week has an even lower risk of heart disease or diabetes than a person who does 150 minutes a week. A person who does 420 minutes (7 hours) a week has an even lower risk of premature death than a person who does 150 to 300 minutes a week.

At some point I read an article that 10 minutes twice per day is sufficient to maintain weight, which is how I got so psyched about bicycle commuting.  It's an unavoidable way to get your cardio.  This summer, I've been driving to work every day to teach my 8am class and it's eliminated that part of my routine.  I haven't filled in the gap with other exercise like I thought I would.  I'm in the process of looking at my fitness data since 2009 and I wish there was a good application for data analysis of this type.  Personalized medicine involves getting people to look at their habits and see trends (both good and bad).

I recently met with a woman who made me laugh at how "science people" are convinced with numbers, graphs and trends while "humanities people" are convinced with thoughts and feelings articulated.  So I wonder if there would be a fitness app for touchy-feely types that would be less quantitative and more qualitative.  Emoticons!  I wonder if you can sort your workouts on MapMyRide by those which you felt the best...

MapMyRide used to have a feature where you could export your workout data in a spreadsheet (or at least a table containing links and calories.  I cut and pasted them here.  At some point (June 2012) you could no longer highlight your list of workouts.  I had to settle for screenshots after that.  So it's taking me a long time to transfer the data to a spreadsheet.  I just found a way to cut & paste it but you have to put your cursor in a weird place!  So that will be the topic of a new post.  I read that Big Data is defined as data so large that traditional spreadsheet software is ineffective at dealing with its size.  Right now I have a separate sheet devoted to each year but I plan to collate the data into one big sheet, catergorize the workouts and do some multivariate analysis.  More on that later.

References January 06, 2012.

Sturm and An. Obesity and economic environments. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians 22 May (2014) Early View (Online Version of Record published before inclusion in an issue) via Samantha C. Lewis, Ph.D.

Janssen, et al. Years of Life Gained Due to Leisure-Time Physical Activity in the U.S. Am J Prev Med 2013; 44(1):23–29.