Monday, August 31, 2009

Another Slow News Day

Things have been slow. I'm choosing to enjoy the last little bit of my summer vacation.

So, just to keep the blog updated, I thought I'd share one of my favorite blogs. Bad Parking usually is good for a few laughs.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

More Orange Knitted Beads

More pictures from the dyeing project...

rust beads

In this case I had used a rust-colored yarn originally. Because I could safely put 30 beads into the dye mixture, I also added a couple beads of different colors just to see what they would do.

The three beads in the back are the original color. The two beads in front went through the orange Kool-Aid. The dye process brightened the color just a bit. I kind of like it.

I also tried pink beads, black beads, and gray beads.

After the dye process the pink beads were indistinguishable from the white beads (they all turned the bright orange of the last post). The black beads got a bit more of a shine but still looked the same.

The gray beads...

gray progression

...turned an interesting shade of brown. Very Halloween. (Far left: before felting. Middle: after felting. Far right: felted and dyed orange.)

What color should I try next?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Orange Knitted Beads

Yesterday I promised to post pictures of my dyed beads. I had a chance to take pictures today. Here is how it all turned out...

white to orange beads

Near the top left-hand corner are white beads before felting. In the middle are the felted white beads. And then near the bottom right-hand corner are the white beads after being dyed using orange Kool-Aid.

It was a very easy process. I can't wait to try more.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Where Did All the Kool-Aid Go?

Remember my crazy project? Since then I've been accumulating beads. I've got containers full. And I have ideas on what to do with them.

The main problem with the project is finding wool yarn in pretty colors. There aren't many colors in the yarn store. The next step was to go online, but I have been too lazy (or busy) to do this.

I mentioned the color issue to my sister-in-law, and she suggested using white wool and dyeing the beads later. Genius.

I've never dyed anything before. But I remembered reading this article a while back. I didn't think too much of it at the time for I didn't really work with wool. But wool is necessary for felting, so suddenly this method was feasible.

Using Kool-Aid to dye wool? Brilliant!

So, I went to the grocery store in search of pretty Kool-Aid. What did I find? Red and purple. Um, if you go back and look at the picture, you'll see that I have those colors already. Although, I did find orange, yellow, and pink, too.

However, I did not find green or blue. Drat!

I bought the orange, and today I thought to try it. It turned out better than I expected. The orange is so day-glow, and I mean that in a good way. I'll post pictures soon. First I need to let the beads dry.

Now, I'm on the hunt for green and blue Kool-Aid flavors. I've looked a couple places. No luck. I know they exist. At least, they existed when that article was written.

I have no idea where else to try. Anyone have any ideas?

Monday, August 24, 2009


Yesterday I spent some time hanging out with my 8-year-old niece. We did a jigsaw puzzle.

She used to like jigsaw puzzles when she was younger. And I thought that she still might. A few visits ago, I tried to get her interested in a 500 piece puzzle, but she balked at it. So, I went in search of a puzzle that wouldn't be too hard for her but wouldn't be too easy either.

Yesterday we worked on the 100 piece puzzle that I did find. It didn't take too long.

I kind of want a 300 piece puzzle for us to try. I figured that I might be able to entice her if it has a picture that she likes (the 100 piece had a picture of Tinkerbell and her fairy friends), so I went online in search of solutions.

What I found shocked me. Puzzles with more than 6000 pieces! Yikes!

I've done my share of puzzles with 1000 pieces, 1500 pieces, and even 2000 pieces. But 6000? I don't even think I have a spot big enough to leave such a beast, and I would have to leave it for a while for it would take me a while to finish. And my niece wouldn't even come near the thing.

The other schools start up next week. Good thing. I have way too much time on my hands.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Mistaken Identity

Remember the class I had last week that was reading The Crucible? I had the same group yesterday and today. (Their teacher doesn't miss that much school, so this was unusual for her.) Yesterday they finished the movie version of the play.

Being combined day Friday, the lesson plan was for them to finish any unfinished work or work on extra credit assignments. (The reasoning is that if a student couldn't buy out and legally miss the day, then that student has work to finish.)

A girl in 2nd period had missed yesterday's finish of the movie, and she asked me if she could watch it. Since I still had the tape, I didn't see a problem with this. I put it in, and she watched.

After the movie, discussions ensued. The girl recognized one of the actresses. "Isn't that the actress from Pirates of the Caribbean?"

So, I got to explain that no, in fact it wasn't. Winona Ryder is not Keira Knightley. I was surprised, actually. I never noticed any resemblance between the two.

To prove this, I went online and found Winona Ryder's IMDb page. The student's reaction: "Wow, she's old."

Old? She's my age. Ouch!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

No Pictures, Please

I've been working a lot for August, especially considering the only high school open in my district has 14 teachers total. And I'm not the only one benefiting from this largess.

Today was school picture day. Every so often there was an announcement over the PA system calling for groups of students. They did this alphabetically.

They called the first group. The right number of students left. Then they called the second group, and a couple of the D-G students remained behind.

A few minutes later, another teacher came to the door. She called out the two students that hadn't gone. While buying a picture package is optional, the students still had to be photographed for their student IDs. One girl went. The other refused.

The teacher told the girl that she had to go and get her ID picture taken. The girl told the teacher that they should just use her photo from last year. The teacher threatened to get security involved. The girl still wouldn't budge.

Security did not appear to remove the girl from class, but as it was only 2nd period, the girl could have been removed from a subsequent period.

The following announcements calling students to the picture room then stated that appearing was mandatory. As I didn't see that teacher again, I guess that there were no more issues with students from my classes.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Outdated Technology

I am dripping with sweat even though it's a cool day (75 degrees in August?) and there has been a cool breeze all day. I've been hard at work.

This week, on the promise of an upcoming garage sale (it's still on, Chris, isn't it?), I've been going through all of my, I mean stuff to see what I want to get rid of. Yesterday I cleared out half of my books. Today I went through my closet.

I have a small closet. But it's packed with stuff that I haven't seen since moving in. I found a couple surprising things.

First, I found my old Nintendo Gameboy. I don't know why I ever bought it as I rarely used it. I found games still in the boxes that I bought them in. And I wonder: who's going to want to take these off my hands? No one owns a Gameboy anymore.

I guess that's why I held on to it for so long. I don't want to throw it out (not environmentally friendly). It still works (I assume--the batteries are long dead). But I don't play it, and I won't play it again. What do I do with it now?

The other thing I found I forgot I had. Sometime in the late '80's I got a handheld TV (it was a birthday present). It's got a two inch screen, but it is in color. Last time I tried it, it worked, but now with the digital conversion the antenna won't work.

What do I do with it?

It's still in pristine condition (I didn't watch it very frequently). I guess it could be used as a monitor for something, but with laptop computers, cell phones, and mp3 players with video screens, who needs such a thing?

On the other hand, I can now see the floor of my closet. At least I accomplished that much.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

August TV Viewing

This time of year is so bad for TV viewing. I've gotten desperate. I've been watching educational programs.

It's not that bad, really. I like watching stuff that teaches me stuff. And since the blog's been suffering through the same doldrums as the TV schedule, I thought I'd share what I've been watching.

It all started with Stephen Hawking's Universe. Some of the stuff I knew (yes, I get that gravity bends space), but some of the stuff was new to me. I like this sort of thing (see title of blog).

So, then I started scouring the listings for stuff to record to my DVR, and I came across The Universe on the History Channel. Oooh. More fun for me.

I had gone through all my recorded shows, and I was looking for something to watch (I was knitting, and I needed some background noise). That's when I found The Ascent of Money on PBS. Since economics is a weak subject for me, I figured I might as well see if I could learn something.

The show is your basic history show, but the focus is on business and money matters. It was just the sort of thing to make business stuff make sense to me--sort of. I actually understood it, and that's a bonus for me.

Last summer I found The Adventure of English on History International. It's on at like 5 AM during the weekend, so it's strictly DVR viewing, but it was fascinating.

And then, I've had more time to watch new episodes of something that isn't very educational. But it's fun, and I need some fun. It's Clean House. I only discovered this show last summer, so I'm still catching up on episodes. It'll take me some time. Once the fall shows start, I'll forget all about Clean House only to find it again next summer.

Any other good shows that I should know about?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Passing By

I’ve been neglecting my blog terribly, I know. I just haven’t had anything to say. But the strangest thing just happened…

I was sitting on the couch in my house, writing. (I write a lot. I’m working on a novel. I don’t talk about it much because there isn’t much to say beyond that.) I heard voices outside. None of this was unusual. Then I could make out the words, and this is where it got strange.

A girl was talking. In French.

I’m pretty sure it was French. I had enough high school French to recognize pronouns and assorted words, but not enough to have any idea what she was talking about.

I live in Southern California. I’ve never heard French in general conversation just out on the street before. (I do hear Spanish sometimes.) It’s unusual enough for me to comment upon.

Then a male voice joined the girl’s. They sounded like father and daughter. The conversation went on for a few minutes more as they were getting out of a car. They continued to talk as they walked away.

And then just outside my balcony a squirrel ran along the telephone wire.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Um, Sure, I Guess

It was fourth period. The class was journalism (yes, the continuation high school has a school paper). They were working on articles for the next issue of the paper (or an extra credit assignment). The room was silent. They were all on task.

I was seated at the teacher's desk. It was nice to sit, as I had been standing all day. A student came up to the desk in search of something or other, and he talked to me.

Student: "It must be boring."

Me: "What?"

Student: "Are you here all day?"

Me: "Of course." (I was not sure what he was getting at. He knew his teacher was out all day.)

Student: "It must be tough."

Me: "What's tough?"

Student: "Dealing with these kids all day."

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Understudy

I was back at the continuation high school today. English class. They were reading Act II of The Crucible.

It was a pretty common lesson plan. Students "volunteered" to read parts, and we got through several pages. Then they answered questions about the section that we read.

It was 2nd period. I was trying to drum up volunteers (before I volunteered them into roles). I explained that John Proctor had the most lines in the section we were reading. Yet, I still got an actual volunteer for the part. Score!

Reading aloud is kind of interesting. Sometimes (especially at the continuation high school) we get readers who don't read very well. It makes for a painful experience. And it takes forever to get through anything. So, I was happy that our John Proctor was a pretty good reader. Things went smoothly--for a while.

Slowly, John realized that I wasn't kidding when I said the role was a large one. And he had just about enough. I could tell he was losing steam. Then, suddenly, another boy was reading John Proctor's part.

I hadn't noticed anything. We had been reading, and the students had kept up with their parts. John 1 read one line, then Elizabeth Proctor said something, and John 2 read the next line. I had no idea how the two boys communicated the switch in parts. We had not planned for such an eventuality. And I was in front of the class the entire time, watching the class (well, okay, I was watching the book more than the class).

Since it made little difference to me, I just went with it. At least the flow of the play continued (I've had readings not go so smoothly). Unfortunately, John 2 wasn't as accomplished a reader as John 1.

We got through Act II. They answered their questions. And I get to do this again tomorrow.

Friday, August 7, 2009


There was a time when this would have been unremarkable. And it wasn't so long ago. But with the explosion of the Internet, email, social networks, and blogs, my admission might be a little shocking.

I did not get on my computer yesterday. I did not check my email. I did not read my usual blogs. I didn't even turn the thing on.

And the world didn't end.

Of course, I'm back today...

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Boring Video

Bad: Watching the same video 5 times.

Worse: Recognizing video from a previous lesson plan.

The worst: Knowing that it's not a very interesting video.

The good news: I got to work today.

I suppose I shouldn't complain. It is the middle of summer. The only school open is the continuation high school. Since there aren't that many teachers there, it's lucky that I'm getting any work at all.

Today I covered the U.S. history classes. The teacher left a video on Thomas Edison. As soon as I started it I remembered it. I had shown this video to this teacher's classes last year.

On the bright side, it was only 55 minutes long. And I got to see the whole thing.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Open Letter to My Neighbors

Dear Neighbors,

Apparently, all of our garage door openers are on the same frequency. This becomes a problem if someone's garage door remote is stuck on, for then it jams everyone's signal, and no one can open or close their garage doors.

At first I thought it was me. Really, I did. Mine wasn't working, so I went and replaced it. But when I got home, the new remote didn't work.

I got a repair guy to come out. He checked the system. And you know what happens when you get someone out to fix something. Even though you've checked everything. And it didn't work for you. So my remote works. It's not jamming the system.

I know you've all noticed the problem. Someone managed to open the gate and leave it open. So, it wasn't just me.

Check your remotes. Is the little light thingie stuck on? Is the button permanently pushed down? If it's you, please, please, remove the battery. Then go and get a new remote.

Your neighbors will thank you.

Your neighbor,