xmlns:og>='http://ogp.me/ns#'> Pedals & Pencils: July 2008

July 23, 2008

The All Important Bike Questions

If you could have any one — and only one — bike in the world, what would it be?

If I could have only one bike in the world, it would be whatever bike could make me go fast.  I'm pretty sure it doesn't exist.  Then again maybe it's operator malfunction.

Do you already have that coveted dream bike? If so, is it everything you hoped it would be? If not, are you working toward getting it? If you’re not working toward getting it, why not?

I think if I really put my mind to it I could go fast on The Rocket.  And yes, I'm working towards going faster at my regular spinning classes.  I swear, my spinning instructor revels in my pain.  No, seriously, she does.  I'm in there sweating so much I'm creating my own rainbows, and she sits there grinning.  Then she tells me to crank up the tension.  I dislike megaloathe her.

If you had to choose one — and only one — bike route to do every day for the rest of your life, what would it be, and why?
I would choose Millville Plains.  It's quiet and the plains do this beautiful chameleon type change as the seasons progress.  The wind also loves Millville Plains, which makes it challenging and never the same twice.  Plus I once saw a fully intact set of deer bones caught in the fence that parallels the road.  Spooky and very cool.

What kind of sick person would force another person to ride one and only one bike ride for the rest of her / his life? 
Only someone totally vicious.  Must be a relative.

Do you ride both road and mountain bikes? If both, which do you prefer and why? If only one or the other, why are you so narrowminded?
I ride both, but I prefer The Rocket especially at about mile 80 when I'm in the groove and the pavement is smooth glass.  When I ride Frank, the problem is that when I crash (which is frequently) the ground always feels like broken glass.  

Have you ever ridden a recumbent? If so, why? If not, describe the circumstances under which you would ride a recumbent.
I'm not into getting bent.  I should mention that I've been totally destroyed by many recumbent cyclists and also that they seem to be a friendly bunch, when I can keep up with them.

Have you ever raced a triathlon? If so, have you also ever tried strangling yourself with dental floss?

Yes.  Today I napped, snacked, and shopped.  My strongest leg was definitely the napping, followed closely by snacking.  I can sleep anywhere.  It's a gift.  I am also a skilled snacker and possess the horrifying skill of eating mass quantities when I don't have the slightest inkling of hunger.  Shopping is my weakest leg.  Shopping can be so temperamental.  Variables like body image, number of clearance racks, and checkout speed continue to wreak havoc on my times.  I have yet to strangle myself with dental floss mainly because I have a hard enough time wrestling myself out of my clothes.  I once had to cut myself out of a dress using the kitchen scissors.  True story.

Suppose you were forced to either give up ice cream or bicycles for the rest of your life. Which would you give up, and why?

Ice cream is my boyfriend.

What is a question you think this questionnaire should have asked, but has not?  How do I manage to fall over on The Rocket so much?
It's a multi-step process that requires practice and total dedication to looking truly moronic.  Step 1: Do not familiarize yourself with your new clipless pedals prior to their inaugural ride.  Nope, save that for when you have to stop suddenly in front of lots of cars.  Step 2: Think about random stuff like your favorite Slurpee flavor, quotes from Dirty Dancing, and the benevolence that is the DVR.  This will cause you to completely forget that you are indeed attached to your bicycle.  This is really nice because when coming to a stop, you'll have that look of sheer panic that people in cars really get a kick out of.  Step 3: Don't ever check to see if your cleats are loose.  This will inevitably create a moment during your ride when it's physically impossible to release your foot from the bicycle.  All bystanders will delight as you do the 'one-legged-pedal-while-trying-to-unstrap-your-shoe' move.  It's a classic.

You’re riding your bike in the wilderness (if you’re a roadie, you’re on a road, but otherwise the surroundings are quite wilderness-like) and you see a bear. The bear sees you. What do you do?

I once saw a TV documentary about this very thing.  No, seriously, I did.  When the guy on the documentary came into uncomfortable proximity to a bear he got off his bike, held his bike up between himself and the bear and yelled "YO, BEAR!  YO, BEAR!".  He lived to tell that riveting story, so it's good enough for me.  Plus, I can only pull off saying the word 'yo' when I'm speaking Spanish.  Otherwise, it's just really funny.  So, at least I'd be laughing before the bear delivered an impressive amount of doom.

July 1, 2008

Mrs. Holland's Opus

Oh the dread of freshman Algebra. Walking to my Algebra class, my feet were lead. Outside the door I would give myself a pep talk. A “You’re good enough. You’re smart enough and doggone it people like you.” sort of pep talk because once I was inside that door I would face Her. My teacher. My teacher who, when I didn’t understand an equation, would repeat the same directions. Only louder. My teacher who shook her head and took deep breaths when I told her I still didn’t get it. After a few weeks I stopped asking her to explain.

My counselor wouldn’t permit me to switch classes, so instead I went next door most days after school to Mrs. Holland, another algebra teacher. Mrs. Holland would explain concept after concept in several different ways until she and I were both sure I understood it. Sometimes it took days for me to grasp a single concept. It didn’t matter to Mrs. Holland. She even invited me over for dinner and extra tutoring before my final, to make sure I would pass. She was my savior.

Two years later, it was time to take Algebra 2. My mom and I met with my counselor, begging to be placed with Mrs. Holland. To my dismay, I was again placed with Her. I dropped out and enrolled in a night class of Algebra 2 at the local junior college. I did just fine, thanks to Mrs. Holland.

As a teacher, I have the pleasure of introducing algebraic thinking to many of my first graders.  Sometimes it takes them a long time to grasp difficult concepts.  I don't mind at all because I was that kid with the perpetually raised hand and look of total confusion.  When I see that look on a student's face, I smile and think of another way to shed some light on the concept.  I try to give my students the time, space, and information they need to become mathematical thinkers.  In short, I try to be like Mrs. Holland.