Sunday, September 21, 2008

5 years, 5000 miles

5 years ago I found out I had a few naughty cells in my body growing out of control.

5000 miles ago I bought my road bike and took it for its first ride.

I'm not sure which of those events has had more of an impact on my life.

Each year I teach a unit on Cell Biology and Cancer. I tell my students that, since 1 out of 3 of them will likely have cancer or care for a loved one with cancer, it is absolutely necessary that they learn about it and become aware of prevention and care that is available. Last year my students made magazine advertisements for skin cancer prevention and I sprayed them with sunblock as they left my class on the last day before summer break!

Each year I go through my own "cycling season". This year I am going to try to break out of my fairweather riding habit and ride even when it's not perfect outside. I love commuting to work with Mrs. Mach (even though we must sacrifice Starbuck's on those days) and my honeymoon up the coast of California with The Coyote was entirely unforgettable. In a couple of weeks Mom and Dad and a handful of friends are bringing their bikes to Davis to ride Foxy's Fall Century. I'm so excited - mostly for drafting off of big groups of people, for the great food stops and for the drinks afterwards!

I hope to cycle more and more and more and to teach many more students how to be advocates for their own good health.

Today's homework: go 5 more years sans cancer and ride 5000 more miles!

Saturday, September 20, 2008


Grandma and Grandpa were my nextdoor neighbors for most of my life. At dinner time, Tony and Grandma would build an imaginary garage, adding practical features (from Grandma) and extravagent, motor-driven, laser emitting features (from Tony). Their garage was always a work in progress. I never added anything to the garage but instead sat quietly listening to their plans, imagining the colors of the walls, the size of the doors and windows, and wondered when they would actually start building it in the back yard. I still think that one day it really will be built.

Grandma, Grandpa and Tony are three people in my life I have always believed. Tony told me that if I was making a face and he hit me on the back, the face would stick. He also told me that if I ripped the edges off of 1980s dot matrix printer paper that I would get cancer (I don't think he really intended that to come true). Grandpa told me that he had met the inventor of soil fertilizer.

Grandma never told me anything that I shouldn't believe. She is wise.

Today's homework: Listen to Grandma

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Bad Socks, Flat Tire

Today I rode my bike to school with Mrs. Mach. It's a 15 mile ride each way and we've done it dozens of times. In all those trips I've had only one flat tire on a 105-degree afternoon just as we got off the causeway heading into Davis. We got off to the change the flat and many minutes later, after a trucker gave us water, two people asked us for help, and I realized that my spare tube was for David's giant road tires, we called David to the rescue. I was covered in grease while Mrs. Mach had rolled up her shorts, donned her flip flops and further increased the golden of her tan.
Today I wore ugly neon green cycling socks so maybe I deserved my flat tire, earned in the same exact location where I got the first. I got the tire off, pulled the tube out and put in another. Pumped it up with the help of a CO2 cartridge (so fun to use it's almost worth the flat tire) and then...hsssssssss...this tube had a leak in it, too. Grease, flip flops and a phone call later, our bikes were back in the bed of David's truck.
We had a fun first leg of the ride nevertheless. We had stopped at Starbucks just a few miles before the tire incident and relaxed to some latte love, knowing that we'd make good use of the caffeine and calories to get us over the causeway.
So, tomorrow we ride in a car in hopes that the tires are a bit more durable. And we'll stop at Starbucks again, of course.

Today's homework: wash grease off body and give husband a back rub for being there to save me


Today I taught my English Learners about the role of lysosomes in eukaryotic cells. I drew a great picture of a toilet and told them that lysosomes were the crap master of the cell because they clean out toxins and waste products. Maybe they'll remember that.

We went through slide after slide of organelles and pronounced the names, which turned into a jumble of Russian, Spanish and Japanese-speakers with a new excuse for yelling in class.
I'm not sure there is a great way to teach students about organelles. I realized last year that I had made it to 27 years and didn't really know the role of the endoplasmic reticulum and the golgi apparatus. Of course, it's not that the students know everything, but that they learn the process of learning and filtering through masses of information.

Today's homework: tell someone at home the role of lysosomes in eukaryotic cells.