The pleasures of a relaxed morning commute

Photo of Caltrain passing the trail

10/12/2018 A commute can be what you make of it.

6:00 AM

As my alarm goes off, I roll out of bed and head to the kitchen. My customary breakfast is a bowl of oatmeal with raisins and a banana, plus a glass of OJ. Time at the breakfast table with warm food helps me relax into the morning.

7:00 Bike ride to the train

On my bike and out the garage. My ten-minute ride starts through a local park, where I often see swap greetings with familiar faces as we pass one another. As I crest a small incline through the park, I am greeted by the glow of the sun behind the horizon across the bay. Now on roads, I soon trade hellos with the usual flagger at a construction site in the Bayshore. Another mile, and one small hill, and I’m at the Caltrain station.

Panoramic image of Bayshore Caltrain station
Panorama of the Bayshore Caltrain station

Continue reading “The pleasures of a relaxed morning commute”

Happy fathers’ day to all my fathers

photo collage of Bill Trampleasure

On Fathers’ Day this year, I heard a sermon by Rev. Vanessa Rush Southern at the Unitarian Church of San Francisco that challenged member of the congregation to think of all the ‘fathers’ in our lives. Bill TrampleasureAs one who is not a biological father, and has only experienced a child’s early years with my granddaughter—both my stepdaughter joined my life when they were over 13—I was moved by this idea of celebrating the ‘unusual fathers’ in our lives. I reflected, and came up with five fathers I have had.

Scott UllmanMy first father, my biological father, is Bill Trampleasure. Bill passed away almost five years now, and he was with me my entire life. My second father was Jack. Jack was a PE teacher at my junior high (ML King in Berkeley), but I never had him as a teacher—instead Jack had a group of kids who went out running before school. My third and fourth fathers were Scott and Steve. Both these men were about ten years older than me, and I was involved in peace/anti-nuclear work with them for several years in my late teens/early twenties. My Steve Laddfifth father was Jose, my boss from about age 20-33 (with a four year gap in the middle). Continue reading “Happy fathers’ day to all my fathers”

Why building housing on Peoples’ Park is not, and will never be, a good idea.

Photo of People's Park
People’s Park stands at 2.8 acres. (UC Berkeley photo by Brittany Hosea-Small, photo links to website.)

I suspect most Berkeley residents don’t go to People’s Park very often, if at all. Even as one who grew up in Berkeley during ‘the sixties,’ I never set foot in the Park until I was a student at Cal in the late ’70’s. I suspect most people view People’s Park as a destination that they don’t find attractive. Sure, there is a reasonable collection of us who have given sweat and tears, and even blood, to maintain this land as a park, whether that be in the ’60’s as the park was created/reborn, or during the decades since, when the University attempted several times to fundamentally alter the use of the Park. But it is likely that the majority of folks in Berkeley have no strong connection to the Park.

So now, as its 50th anniversary approaches, I suspect that most folks in Berkeley see People’s Park as an ‘attractive nuisance’ at best, and perhaps a ‘dangerous eyesore’ at worst. So the current proposalthat includes 700-1,000 student beds, 75-110 ‘supportive housing’ beds, and ‘park/open space’ with “… an important element … design that will commemorate, honor and celebrate the history and the significance of People’s Park”—will likely be received by most folks as a step forward. I would like to offer, however, an alternative, long-term view of this proposal. Continue reading “Why building housing on Peoples’ Park is not, and will never be, a good idea.”

Solving ‘roller coaster’ energy problems

Step-by-step instructions.

Try to complete each section on your own before you move to the next image. Each slide shows the answer to the preceding question.

1. First, examine the problem and determine the energy storage types involved.

Slide showing the roller coasterThis problem consists of a roller coaster which has a chain that pulls the car to the top of the first hill. The problem defines the system as frictionless (μ = 0), and insignificant air resistance.
Before you go on, define the system, then draw axes for your energy diagrams at each point with a letter (don’t worry about the number of blocks of each energy storage yet). Continue reading “Solving ‘roller coaster’ energy problems”

Swords to Plowshares at the national weapons labs: Late 70’s/early 80’s

Poster from July 1979 protest at University of California Regents meeting
Poster from July 1979 protest at University of California Regents meeting

In the late 1970’s/early 1980’s, I was part of a movement to convert the nation’s premier nuclear weapons developing labs (Lawrence Livermore in California, and Los Alamos in New Mexico) from labs that primarily focused on research in nuclear weapons to ones that focused on human needs.

The UC Nuclear Weapons Labs Conversion Project (UCNWLCP) was born as a coalition of Berkeley Students for Peace, the Ecumenical Peace Institute/CALC, and the War Resisters League West.  Livermore and Los Alamos were managed by the University of California (and still are). Our goal was to use the university’s management influence to press for “swords to plowshares.” We lead teach-ins, held direct actions, brought petitions to the Regents, and build coalitions with University and lab employees and scientists. Continue reading “Swords to Plowshares at the national weapons labs: Late 70’s/early 80’s”

Beach cleanup daily — without leaving your home

photo of trash in garden

Map showing CA waterway cleanup locationsEach third Saturday in September in California, the California Coastal Cleanup Day gathers thousands of people to help clean tons of trash from our beaches and waterways. The 2017 event occurred on September 16th.

If you missed September 16th, and can’t wait until next year, you can start today in without leaving your own property. Continue reading “Beach cleanup daily — without leaving your home”

Back to School Night – Menlo-Atherton HS, 2017

image of back to school night home pageOK, maybe I’m in the minority, but I really like Back to School Nights. I appreciate the parents taking time out of their busy lives to come in and get a sense of who is teaching their students.

Tonight was no different. Great parents, lots of appreciation expressed, and a few good questions thrown in (not much time in ten minutes to ask questions).

Unfortunately, as usual, the higher academic classes have higher turnout of parents. Why? I can speculate about amount of free time, ability to get off work early, etc. But in the end, I don’t think it’s anyone’s fault (I suspect that all parents want their kids to be successful in school), it’s just a reality.

Thanks to all the parents who did make it out (and thanks to all those who didn’t for trusting your students in my care).

Here are handouts of the slides I used:


How I generate science tutorial videos

image of an old film camera

image of listing of some of the videos I have on YouTubeI have been making many video tutorials for my science classes in the last few years, and some folks have asked how I  create them. I have gone through a process of  changes, so I thought I’d present the options I have used to create them.

After you read this, please leave any comments or questions in the Comment section at the bottom of the page. Continue reading “How I generate science tutorial videos”

Videos of building molecules, and showing chemical reactions, with candy and toothpicks

Image of Ethyl acetate glowing for cover

Following are a couple of videos to provide students with examples of how to solve a couple of tasks in chemistry.

Building chloromethane

Using Lewis dot structures to determine how a molecule will bond.

Continue reading “Videos of building molecules, and showing chemical reactions, with candy and toothpicks”